Reviews for Normal People

Hi. I review things.

READING ABOUT TV: The Year in Series Finales — October 29, 2013

READING ABOUT TV: The Year in Series Finales

This was a weird year for TV. We saw the triumphant return of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, the less triumphant return of The Arsenio Hall Show, Leno finally giving up on this whole “being popular” thing, only one noteworthy new fall show (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), a season of SNL where every episode (so far) has been very funny, despite the lack of Hader, Sudeikis, or Samberg, and perhaps most shocking of all, five shows considered among the best of all time came to an end. So today, I decided to count them down, starting with one of the worst finales in television history.

#5: DEXTER

 

Speaking of Bill Hader

Oh, boy. How does one even think of this as an ending to one of the most gruesome shows on TV? There are mediocre endings (Seinfeld), there are bad endings (LOST), and then there’s this. In the end, Dexter Morgan, who may I remind you, has been a serial killer for the past eight years, becomes a lumberjack in the end. WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? Just why?

GRADE: D-

#4: 30 Rock

No comment

Let me make something clear: I loved 30 Rock. If this was a list of my favorite TV shows, 30 Rock would probably be somewhere in the top 2. In fact, I remember really liking this finale, too. I just don’t remember the finale itself. And there’s the problem. The 30 Rock finale was not memorable. It was funny, it was sad, it was a good ending to a fantastic series, but it wasn’t memorable. One thing I do remember: the Rural Juror song. HIT IT!

The Irma Luhrman-Merman murder turned the bird’s word lurid

The whir and the purr of the twirler girl, she would the world were demurer

GRADE: B

#3: FUTURAMA

The insurer’s allure for valor were pure Kari Wuhrer

Oh, man. This ending was phenomenal. It’s a shame that I have to put it at #3, because this was really my second-favorite episode of Futurama, one of my favorite shows. Everything was perfect. I could’ve used more of the other characters, but what I got was still pretty great. The only other complaint I have is that there was too much buildup for a plot that lasted like, five minutes. Maybe the buildup was the plot, what do I know? I’m just a lowly little bagel looking to make it in the big city.

#selfie #nomakeup

GRADE: A-

#2: BREAKING BAD

Walt and Jesse watching Sex and the City 2.

The Breaking Bad finale was a terrific ending to a terrific series. No further questions.

GRADE: A

Actually, one further question: Why did I put Breaking Bad at #2 on a “Best ______ of 2013” list? Am I really that much of a dumbfuck?

No, I’m not that much of a dumbfuck. You see, while the Breaking Bad finale was extremely good, it wasn’t an improvement. More than 2/3 of Breaking Bad episodes are that good.

Okay, but was there really a finale this year that was such an improvement on the rest of the show or even just the past few seasons that it surpasses the Breaking Bad finale?

#1: THE OFFICE

Fuck you, Toby

Wow. Just, wow. How did this show bounce back so fast? The finale, and the three episodes leading into it, were the best The Office has had since season 5. In fact, “Finale” and “AARM” are probably among my favorite Office episodes of all time. I seriously think this finale was flawless. Absolutely flawless. There were certain scenes that could’ve been improved, but the overall quality of the episode would’ve remained the same. Simply perfection

GRADE: A+

Follow me on Twitter @BreakingPOORLY. Coming up: reviews ‘n shit. Until then…

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Review: Bad Grandpa is Surprisingly Decent — October 27, 2013

Review: Bad Grandpa is Surprisingly Decent

There are a few absolutes in our society. Some things are definitely good, some things are definitely bad, and anyone who disagrees that said things are good or bad obviously has poor taste or is part of a small group that would(n’t) like it. But it’s a bit more complicated than that. Some things are funny, but bad. Some things are annoying, but good. Some things are too highbrow to technically be considered bad, despite a lack of good, and others are so highbrow that they’re terrible. By the same token, some things are too lowbrow to technically be considered good and others are very lowbrow, but still good. A good example of something that is too lowbrow to technically be considered good is Jackass. The humor of the show and its movies usually revolves around people getting punched in the dick and then throwing up on their dick. Or something like that. The original show was short-lived, but became somewhat of a cult classic, because no matter how bad it was, everyone had to admit that it was pretty funny. It even inspired such movies as Borat and Bruno, a semi-series that proves that some ideas only work once. The show even had several spinoffs, including Viva La Bam, Wildboyz, Homewrecker, Dr. Steve-O, and Blastazoid. Yet another example of an idea only working once. The movies follow the same formula as the show, but about thrice as long. And yet, they were still pretty good. The Jackasses also came up with the delectable idea of putting a movie’s worth of bonus stunts on the DVD, so even if you didn’t want to own the movie, you’d still get the DVD. They followed this formula for three movies. But then, something peculiar happened. The Jackasses decided they wanted to make a real movie. With a plot and everything! But of course, they still wanted to prank people, so what they came up with was less like your typical Jackass fare and more like Borat, which as you may remember, was inspired by Jackass. Which means that Bad Grandpa was the result of cinematic inbreeding. Did it work? Kinda. Since it focused more on the pranks than the characters, there are a few inconsistencies here and there, but overall, it worked. The pranks were funny, the characters were somewhat likable despite being terrible people, and everything just kind of fit. Which was surprising, considering how weird an idea it was. The raunch was a bit too much at some points, but that was kind of the point. There’s not a lot to say about this movie. Knoxville proved his acting chops as Irving Zisman, the title character. The kid in the movie is one of the best child actors I’ve ever seen. One thing I noticed in the credits was that the movie had a “puppeteer.” Why? How? I don’t know. But it made me smile. The movie was the brainchild of Knoxville, Jeff Tremaine, and Spike Jonze. Yes, that Spike Jonze. I know I’m going off-topic, but I’ve basically run out of things to say. So overall, I give the movie a B-. It didn’t always work, but it usually did. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @BreakingPOORLY. If you have a thingie you want to say, post it in the comments section below or e-mail me at thatnaivecube@gmail.com. I’ll be reviewing Last Vegas next week, followed by reviews of Thor 2 and Free Birds. Until then… End transmission.

Late Entry: Gravity is Overrated (the movie, not the force) — October 25, 2013

Late Entry: Gravity is Overrated (the movie, not the force)

Let’s talk about Alfonso Cuarón. A fairly well-known director in his native land of Mexico, Cuarón has enjoyed only limited success stateside. His first big movie was Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, arguably the best movie in the entire Harry Potter franchise. Since then, he’s become a cult favorite, especially in 2006, when he made two fantastic movies, Children of Men and Pan’s Labyrinth. Unfortunately, his movies have not been box office smashes.

You know whose movies have been a box office smash? David Heyman. He’s the most profitable producer in the world. What has he done, you may be asking? Well, he’s the producer of all eight Harry Potter movies, as well as the upcoming spinoff. One issue: the rest of his movies are not very good. Seriously, even if we’re just talking about the stuff you’ve heard of, he doesn’t have the best track record outside Harry Potter. I Am Legend, The Boy in Striped Pyjamas, Yes Man, and We’re the Millers. That’s about it. And his biggest upcoming movie is Paddington Bear, so it doesn’t look like he’ll be improving any time soon. So, it became clear. Heyman and Cuarón needed to make another movie together.

Enter Gravity, starring Sandra Bullock and a cameo (seriously, it’s pretty much a cameo) from George Clooney. The movie is a critical and box office smash, having already made over $200 million worldwide and being #43 on IMDb’s highest-rated movies of ALL TIME, tied with films like Back to the Future, North by Northwest, Dr. Strangelove, Alien, and Memento. The movie also has a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, and is a likely contender for Best Picture at next year’s Oscars. One problem.

It’s not that good. Let me rephrase that. It’s not THAT good. It’s very good. It’s just not the best movie of the year, and it’s DEFINITELY not as good as Back to the Future or Dr. Strangelove. Some people say it’s an experience, like 2001, but it’s clearly not. There’s a good story, decent characters, a beginning, middle, and end, it stays pretty focused, and it’s only an hour and a half long. I feel like I should note at this point at this point that 2001 is all the way down at 96 on IMDb’s list, behind such “classics” as Return of the Jedi, WALL-E, and worst of all, The Dark Knight Rises. Oh, and one more thing. Gravity is five spaces ahead of Citizen Kane. FIVE. In case you forgot, Citizen Kane spent a long time on top of the AFI’s list of the best movies of ALL TIME, and is still at #2.

But you may be wondering, what don’t I like about this movie? I’ve given it nothing but praise this entire time, besides the general statement that I don’t like it. Well, first of all, the effects are decent at best, and they make the movie feel like a video game cut scene. You’ll remember that this was a problem I had with Oblivion, the third-worst movie of the year. And another thing: are we supposed to like George Clooney? Like most of you, I stopped caring for George Clooney after I saw Batman & Robin. Now, I like him no more than, say, Matt Damon or Brad Pitt. But I seriously can’t tell what I’m supposed to feel about him in this movie. He seems to be the love interest, even after he dies 30 minutes through, but he’s very arrogant. Sort of a Buzz Lightyear-type.

The other problem: the story. Like a Dickens novel, the movie is built around extremely unlikely circumstances, some of which are actually impossible. What are the chances of them being hit by debris before they can get back into the ship, finding each other again, finding a space station within floating distance, her not running out of oxygen even though she blew half of it before they even started the spacewalk, her getting into the station in time, the parachute getting caught, the fire, the Chinese spaceship, and her landing in the water despite having almost no control over where she lands? Also, the camera seems to focus on a lot of irrelevant things, like a pen or a water droplet. There are a couple of smaller problems, like the Sinai peninsula being WAY too big, Sandra learning crucial information about how to land an escape pod via a hallucination, and her having said she could never land the pod simulator, but then reading an instruction manual for two minutes and knowing exactly what to do.

So overall, I give this movie a B+. I really did enjoy it, just not as much as some other people did. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @BreakingPOORLY. Have a suggestion, submission, or comment? Leave it in the comments section below or e-mail me at thatnaivecube@gmail.com. I’ll try to review Bad Grandpa this weekend. If that doesn’t work out, we’ll have to wait and see. Until then…

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Review: Escape Plan is OK, I Guess — October 20, 2013

Review: Escape Plan is OK, I Guess

Let’s talk about Sylvester Stallone. More specifically, is film career. Stallone’s first role was in a 1970 movie called Party at Kitty and Stud’s, also known as Italian Stallion. It was, by all accounts, terrible. In fact, Stallone did a lot of terrible movies in that era, and didn’t break into the mainstream and subject them to his terrible movies until his appearance in the 1976 classic, Rocky. From there, Stallone became one of the biggest action stars in the world, or at least, for a few years. Yes, his title was challenged, just as his character, Rocky Balboa’s was so many times, by a young upstart by the name of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who first caught the public’s attention with Conan the Barbarian, cemented his role as an action movie icon in The Terminator, and starred in one of the greatest science fiction movies, and one of the greatest action movies, of all time, Terminator 2. Also, he did all of that in nine years.

However, by the time T2 came out, there was another action star around who was quickly rising to the levels of both Stallone and Schwarzenegger: Bruce Willis. Now, at this point, Willis had already been around for about 4 years, having played the iconic role of John McClane in what could be the greatest action movie ever made, Die Hard. Of course, at the time T2 came out, Willis was doing comedies like Loaded Weapon 1, The Player, and Death Becomes Her, but it was clear: a movie with the three of them would be the tightest shit. And action fans finally got that wish with the 2010 hit, The Expendables.

One problem, though: everyone else was in it. And I do mean everyone. Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, and Terry Crews just to name a few. And while Terry Crews is one of the best people in Hollywood, it felt like it was kind of pulling away from the awesomeness of having Willis, Stallone, and Schwarzenegger in one movie. And things only got worse in the second one, which was released in 2012 and featured the entire cast of the original, plus internet memes Chuck Norris and Jean-Claude Van Damme. So, it looked like what we needed now was a movie that had just Willis, Stallone, and Schwarzenegger and no one else. And we got most of that wish with the new movie, Escape Plan, starring Stallone and Schwarzenegger as two people who are paid to break out of maximum-security prisons breaking out of a maximum-security prison. Basically.

While this may sound like a pretty simple plot, it’s some of the most confusing shit I’ve seen all year. While it’s not quite as frustrating as Oblivion, it was still… pretty frustrating. I seriously don’t understand this movie. Someone see it and explain it to me. However, I did like some parts of it. The action was good, the characters were somewhat likable, and it had a few good twists. Most of the problems stem from the fact that three of the major characters are Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and 50 Cent, none of whom are known for their eloquence.

So overall, I give this movie a C+. I know that was a short review, but there’s… not really much to say. It was just… alright. Decent. OK.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @BreakingPOORLY. Like this post if you like it. Follow me if you like it and several others, or you just see potential in me. I may have a Machete Kills review coming up. If not, my next review will be of Bad Grandpa. Until then…

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Review: Scream? More Like… Flinch. — October 7, 2013

Review: Scream? More Like… Flinch.

Why do classics have to be good? While there are a few exceptions (Titanic, American Graffiti), it does seem to be that most classics, even modern ones (except WALL-E) and classics in their own genre (except Spider-Man 2) tend to be extremely good. One could even argue that being good is what makes a movie a classic, even though this is clearly not the case (Avatar, okay, I’m done). Note: I don’t think any of the aforementioned movies are bad. I just don’t think they’re great… except Avatar. Avatar is pretty bad (Forrest Gump, okay, NOW I’m done).

Anyway, If you share these complaints with me, then boy, do I have the movie for you. It’s a little movie called Scream, which came out in 1996 and was directed by legendary director of really scary movies and their hilariously non-scary sequels, Wes Craven. The movie came out of 1996 and made nearly twelve times its budget, supposedly leading to three sequels. We don’t know for sure because no one has admitted to seeing them. The movie starred “legendary” “actor” Skeet Ulrich as well as Hollywood power couple who everyone thought was divorced in the 90s but actually stayed together until this year, Courtney Cox and David Arquette. Arqox, if you will. Please don’t say that out loud.

But no one cares about any of those… doofi. The real star of this movie was Henry Winkler, who played the only character he can play anymore. In this movie, Barry Zuckercorn is the principal of the school that the annoying, bland, uninteresting main characters go to. He gets killed off after less than ten minutes of screen time. Luckily for us, however, his screen time is spread out over three appearances, and his death is actually pretty close to the climax. Which is a good thing, because it means that at least some of these obnoxious, terribly acted, terribly written characters will finally get killed.

Is there anything I don’t like about this movie besides the unbearably ridiculous main characters? Funny you should ask, because I was just about to talk about that. I hate how this movie is scored. A lot of the time, the scary music fails at being scary, which isn’t even that hard to do. Some of the murder scenes are really cool, especially the one at the beginning, but none of them are really scary. Also, a constant problem I had throughout this movie was that they would play scary music even though nothing remotely scary was going on.

Is there anything I did like about this movie? Well, like I said before, I loved Henry Winkler’s character, if only because he’s playing Barry Zuckercorn with a different name. And once again, there were some scenes that were really scary. In fact, by the end of the movie, they even manage to make Skeet Ulrich tolerable. It was also the movie that brought the horror genre back into the public eye, which has its ups and downs. Another thing I like about this movie is that it’s kind of a novelty. It’s the most 90s movie I’ve ever seen. Seriously, this movie is the equivalent of watching a movie that says in big red letters “THIS WAS MADE IN THE 90S” every five seconds, like the “Blurred Lines” video. So, overall, I give this movie a C+. See it if you want to feel like you’ve been slapped with an NES controller by Vanilla Ice for two hours.

Review: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 — October 6, 2013

Review: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2

Let’s talk about Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. The 2009 movie, based VERY loosely on a children’s book by Judi and Ron Barrett. The film has an 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, which coincidentally is about the same score as the original Shrek. More on that later. Now, there was a mass consensus that this movie was REALLY GOOD. The animation was interesting and fun, the story and characters were hilariously over the top, but still easy to watch, it was hands down the best children’s movie of the year. Or it would have been, if it weren’t for Up. I’ll get more into Up when the time comes, but for now, let me just say this: Up was fucking hilarious. Seriously, it was one of the funniest movies of the ’00s. So, after being overshadowed by Up, Cloudy was largely forgotten about.

Until 2013, when trailers started popping up for the sequel. Originally titled Cloudy 2: Revenge of the Leftovers, the movie’s title was eventually changed to Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. This trailer got people VERY excited. It was funny (There’s a leek in the boat!), it was well-scored, and the animation was just as good as ever. More trailers started to surface, and they only made children and fans of the animation genre more and more excited until finally…

The bass drop. The movie came out and did pretty impressively at the box office, scoring $35 million on opening weekend, nearly half its budget. However, the response from critics was mixed, to say the least. Rotten Tomatoes has it down for a 57%, calling it a fun family movie despite not being as clever and inventive as the first one. I have to disagree with that statement.

I’m going to sidetrack for a minute here to talk about the end of the year. You see, in two and a half months, likely while I’m in Israel, I will be compiling a list of the 5 best, 5 worst, and 5 most forgettable movies of the year. As it stands right now, it looks like either Admission or Oz the Great and Powerful will be the most forgettable. This has been a good year for bad movies, and not in a good way. Let me give you a good representation of how bad things have been this year for bad movies. Smurfs 2, one of the most infamous movies in a long time, is #5. 5! I’m worried that it won’t make the list. My five best is also a fully complete list. Let’s take a sneak peek. #1: The World’s End, #2: Kick-Ass 2, #3: Monsters University, #4: Iron Man 3. This leads me to the #5, the fifth-best movie I’ve seen all year:

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. You heard it here first, folks, my fifth-favorite movie I’ve seen all year is Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. This brings me to my Shrek analogy (remember?). You see, when Shrek came out, people really liked it. Sure, it wasn’t the best movie of the year (not by a long shot)…

Pictured: A long shot

In fact, if you’ll look up there, you’ll notice that the best movie to come out that year was also animated… and it was from Pixar. Hm. Anyway, you’re looking at the poster for Monsters, Inc, one of Pixar’s finest, which had a sequel that was also extremely good and came out… this year. And eclipsed Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. Noticing the pattern? BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! Shrek was pretty much forgotten about until trailers for Shrek 2 started surfacing in 2004. These trailers got people very excited, and the movie exceeded their expectations. It was one of the funniest kids’ movies of all time and set the bar so high that there was never any doubt that Shrek the Third would suck.

This is how I feel about Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2. I was smiling almost the entire time. The animation was great, it was a great continuation of the first one, and the jokes were rapid fire, although not all of them hit the target. I give this movie an A-. Why the minus? Because as a standalone movie, it was only OK. It just had a plot that was too weird to appreciate unless you’re a fan of the first movie, which most people are. So when my dad didn’t like it, I saw where he was coming from. There were also some parts of the plot that didn’t really make any sense {co-holograms-ugh}. Seriously though, you should see this movie. You’ll probably come out with a smile on your face.

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @BreakingPOORLY. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, put them in the comments below or email me at thatnaivecube@gmail.com. I’ll have a review of Scream coming up in a few days. I’ll likely review Machete Kills next week. We’ll see what happens from there.

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READING ABOUT TV: The Breaking Bad Finale — October 1, 2013

READING ABOUT TV: The Breaking Bad Finale

Well, Breaking Bad is finally over. Was it the best show ever? No. Was it the best show on TV? Maybe. Was it the best finale of the year? Probably. So, let’s talk about it. First, I want to clarify something. I do like Breaking Bad. I really do. I just don’t think it’s the best show ever, as many people, including Kumail Nanjiani, do. In fact, I get frustrated when people say this, especially a professional comedian like Kumail Nanjiani. It’s just too grim and humorless. When I want to watch Breaking Bad, I’ll watch Breaking Bad, but when I’m just watching TV and not looking to watch any program in particular, I probably wouldn’t choose Breaking Bad. In all honesty, I personally think Doctor Who, for example, is a better show than Breaking Bad. First of all, it has the same level of artistic integrity as Bad, but second of all, it’s funny and lighthearted. And Doctor Who isn’t my favorite show, either!

All that being said, the Breaking Bad finale was Breaking GREAT. Of the five series finales I’ve seen this year, this one was almost definitely the best. The Office is a very close second, but this is the best. And I realized why I like it so much. IT WAS A HAPPY ENDING. On a show like Breaking Bad, you expect the ending to be something along the lines of Walter dying in prison, sad and alone. And I am so glad that they didn’t do that. Everything worked out for everybody. Flynn got the money, Jesse got his freedom (and killed Todd!), and Walter died a happy man. It pretty much embodied everything I liked about Breaking Bad. It had Walter killing people by doing science, it had happy moments and sad moments, it had the death of Todd, it even had my favorite part of the entire show: BADGER AND SKINNY PETE. I’m not even exaggerating. Badger (Matt L. Jones) is my favorite character in the entire Breaking Bad universe.

But I did have a few complaints. First of all, I don’t know how they came to the decision to do this ending. Vince Gilligan claims that he wanted to make the happiest ending he could considering the circumstances, but then why did they kill Hank and Gomez literally TWO EPISODES AGO and literally make things as bad as possible up until this episode? Did the idea of having a happy ending come about after these other episodes were written? Were they punking us? Did they decide to have things go like things usually go on Breaking Bad and then just suddenly get happy in the last half of the last episode? And what happened to Badger and Skinny Pete? They showed up for like two minutes, but nothing was really resolved. Did they get off the meth after Walt stopped making it? What did Badger do with the Star Trek script? Did it have any symbolic meaning? I can’t find any. Also, it’s not true that Walt did it for himself. Maybe he kept doing it for himself, but at first, he was most certainly doing it for his family.

Overall, this episode was great. I give it an A. I may or may not be making a Break It Down about Breaking Bad, but what I know for sure is that I will be reviewing Cloudy 2 next week. Also, Scream. Don’t ask me why. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @BreakingPOORLY, and if you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or submissions, put them in the comments section below and/or e-mail them to me at thatnaivecube@gmail.com.

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