Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Happy Thanksgiving Edition

Hooray – it’s almost Thanksgiving, though honestly I am more excited about the 4 day weekend than the actual holiday. I’ve been running around way too much in the last week and I really just need a few days to relax and get myself back on track. I’m looking forward to just sleeping in and taking it easy and watching a shameful number of movies. I’ll enjoy the turkey dinner and the moment to reflect on all that I’m thankful for (which is a lot), but I’m really ready for some R&R. The last two weeks have kicked my butt.

Before you head off to spend some time with your loved ones and eat some stuffing, get yourself up to speed on the world of pop culture with your biweekly pop culture roundup. It’s on the long side this week, so there’s plenty to keep you occupied over the long weekend. Plus you never know when you’ll have to make small talk with a relative and there is a little bit of something for everyone in this roundup. So pour over this collection of links before the tryptophan kicks in.

  • Someone indexed every death in the Game of Thrones books (so far):

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  • NOOOOOO!!!!!!!! They are remaking Road House. It has better include the line “I used to f*ck guys like you in prison” or it will be complete sacrilege.

This week in Ron Burgundy news:

  • The Channel 4 gang sang “Afternoon Delight” at the Australian premiere:

 

 

  • Baxter got his own movie poster:

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  • This article looks at how Friends decided to pair off Monica and Chandler.
  • The Mindy Project is going on hiatus due to low ratings. Other shakeups at FOX – Dads has been removed from the schedule despite receiving a full season order and Brooklyn Nine-Nine is moving to 9:30 (in The Mindy Project’s old slot).
  • James Franco and Seth Rogan did a parody of Kanye’s video for “Bound 2”:

Surprisingly, Kim and Kanye (neither known for their killer sense of humor) apparently found it funny.

  • Zach Braff may have pulled off the greatest photobomb of all time:

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  • Watch Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul read the Breaking Bad finale for the first time (spoilers if you aren’t current):

 

  • You can watch the pilots of HBO’s new comedies Ja’mie: Private School Girl and Getting On online.
  • Adam Brody (The O.C.) and Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl) are engaged.
  • The surviving members of the Beastie Boys penned an open letter explain their dispute with toymaker GoldieBlox. Their song “Girls” has since been pulled from the commercial.
  • According to this graphic, many Sesame Street character have mental disorders.
  • Watch Robert DeNiro’s audition for the role of Sonny in The Godfather:

 

  • Pitbull and Ke$ha co-star in a new music video:

 

Trailers:

  • Every new trailer for HBO’s True Detective makes me more and more excited for this show:

 

  • A teaser for the new Chicago Fire spin-off, Chicago PD:

 

  • Sherlock Season 3:

 

  • The obviously NSFW trailer has arrived from Lars von Trier’s upcoming film Nymphomaniac

 

  • Season 3 trailer for HBO’s Girls:

 

  • A trailer for Devil’s Knot – yet another film about the West Memphis Three:

 

  • Another trailer for one of the movies I am most looking forward to this winter, American Hustle:

 

  • Kellen Lutz stars in Hercules: The Legend Begins:

 

  • A new trailer for Muppets Most Wanted:

 

  • Some deleted scenes from one of my all-time favorite movies, The Shawshank Redemption:

 

  • I always knew It’s Sunny in Philadelphia was ahead of its time. Does this mean kitten mittens are next?
  • Whoa – Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle album was released 20 years ago. I am feeling old.

As always, we end with the mashups and supercuts:

  • Mad Men without the smoking:

 

  • Reaping Ball – a Hunger Games/Miley Cryrus mashup:

 

  • The Wolf of Bedford Falls (It’s a Wonderful Life re-cut to look like The Wolf of Wall Street):

 

  • A Rob Ford/New Jack City remix:

 

  • A Rob Ford/Chris Farley mashup (Farley would have been amazing playing Ford on SNL):

 

  • Team Coco put together a supercut of season 3 of Conan:

 

  • The Sesame Street gang did a Hunger Games parody:

 

  • And finally……a Dawson’s Creek/The Walking Dead mashup, Governor’s Creek:

 

The blog is probably going to take a few days off for the holidays, unless I just can’t help myself. Best wishes for a very happy Thanksgiving and Hanukkah!!!!

 

The Heat – A review

This hasn’t been a particularly good summer movie season for female actresses. Of all the movies that have been released, almost all of them have men in starring roles; a few indies (Frances Ha for example) are women-centric movies, but other than a few co-starring roles you have to look pretty far down the credits to find anyone with a uterus. Man of Steel, White House Down, World War Z, The Hangover III – all about the dudes. When Fast & Furious 6 and The Purge have the highest profiles for women, that’s not a great sign.

So when The Heat burst on the scene last weekend , this was a big deal; the film not only played with the buddy cop genre by placing two women in the starring roles, but two women over 40 to boot. Directed by Paul Feig – the same man who directed Bridesmaids and apparently the only man in Hollywood that believe in the power of women at the box office – The Heat had a lot of expectations on it in advance of its opening.

And while I didn’t think that The Heat was a perfect movie or nearly as funny as This is The End, it was still very enjoyable. Most of the credit can be given to Melissa McCarthy, who continues to go for broke and who basically willed this movie into being funnier than it had any real business being. She and Sandra Bullock elevated the material beyond what was on the page and provided more chuckles than expected.

Based on the trailers, I was a little skeptical about The Heat. I like Melissa McCarthy a lot – I’ve been a fan since her days on Gilmore Girls – but I was worried that she was being limited to playing the same character over and over. I don’t generally love slapstick humor, which the trailer seemed to be emphasizing. I was hoping that The Heat wouldn’t turn out to be a one-note comedy that relied too heavily on the trope of forcing polar opposites to work together. And while the film is definitely limited by the genre, it is still given enough room to breathe and for McCarthy to flex her comedic muscles that it overcame my preconceived notions.

The plot of The Heat is definitely the weakest part of the film: straight laced and unpopular FBI agent Ashburn (Bullock) is sent to Boston to take down a drug lord (or something). When Ashburn arrives in Beantown her investigation insects with that of Boston Police Officer Mullins (McCarthy), who is brash, abrasive and violent. The two are forced to collaborate – Ashburn has the intel and Mullins has the street smarts – in order to bring down the target. Hilarity ensues.

McCarthy definitely has the flashier of the two roles as Bullock is more of the straight woman in this Odd Couple pairing. McCarthy has no fear when it comes to comedy and fully commits to even the most ludicrous material and somehow makes it funnier than it was written. I could imagine many other actors –male or female – making as much out of the role of Mullins than McCarthy. Her delivery is so great that there are some lines that I’m not even sure that were originally conceived of as jokes that made me giggle.

Because she doesn’t get to bring the crazy like McCarthy, Bullock is much more restrained in her performance. She does get a few moments to let loose, but for the most part her character is simply reacting to and acting as a foil for McCarthy. Bullock can be funny, but compared to the powerhouse that is McCarthy it is probably for the best that she is doing her own thing and not trying to compete. The two actresses have nice chemistry together; I’d be interested in seeing more from this pairing in the future.

The Heat is really at its best when these two characters are at each other’s throats; once they like each other, as the formula for these movies dictates, the film becomes a lot less interesting and the problems with the plot become more evident. Buddy cop movies have been done to death at this point, so even introducing two women in the leads can only slightly delay the feeling that this is all very formulaic and that it has been seen before. There isn’t a lot that in unpredictable in The Heat; if you’ve seen any of The Lethal Weapon movies or The Other Guys, you know almost everything that is going to happen before it happens. Other than the exchange between McCarthy and Bullock, there isn’t a lot new here – and even their pairing isn’t all that original.

Some other thoughts:

  • The writers were extremely lazy when it came to McCarthy’s family – they trot out just about every Irish stereotype that they could think of and it all felt very recycled and stale. When you have Jane Curtain at your disposal, give that woman something to do! They totally wasted her.
  • Speaking of McCarthy’s family – one of her brothers was played by Joe McIntyre, better known to millions of women as being a member of New Kids on the Block. “Joey Mac” was my favorite, so it’s always nice when he shows up in something.
  • There are a lot of funny people that pop up in various points throughout the movie; I won’t spoil any of them, but it was nice to see so many familiar faces.
  • The film features an orange cat named Pumpkin, so that made me smile (though that cat seemed much better behaved than mine).
  • The humor in The Heat isn’t all that sophisticated; that isn’t a problem for me, but if you were expecting something different because there were women starring, you would be wrong (and you also probably didn’t see Bridesmaids)
  • I was curious if the paintings favored by the Mullins family are a real thing; if not, I see an artistic revolution upon us.
  • McCarthy is once again reunited with her husband (Ben Falcone) in this film; he played the Air Marshall in Bridesmaids and he has a small role in the bar scene.
  • The Heat ($40 million) did better at the box office opening weekend than White House Down ($25.7 million). Hopefully Hollywood is paying attention.

All in all, The Heat was a fun time at the theater. It’s not the funniest movie that I’ve seen, but it had enough solid comedic moments – thanks mostly to Melissa McCarthy – to make it a film worth checking out. It is hampered not by the performances of the actors, which were great across the board, but by the predictable narrative that is dictated by the genre and some moments of lazy writing. Not all the jokes work in The Heat, but there are enough of them that do to carry the film. The Heat was a pleasant surprise.