REVIEW: THE SIMPSONS – SEASON 7-9

CAST

Dan Castellaneta (Super 8)
Julie Kavner  (Dr. Dolittle)
Yeardley Smith (Dead Like Me)
Nancy Cartwright (Kim Possible)
Hank Azaria (The Smurfs)
Harry Shearer (This Is Spinal Tap)
Pamela Hayden (Recess)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Maggie Roswell (Pretty In Pink)
Russi Taylor (Babe)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Phil Hartman (Small Soldiers)
Mickey Rooney (Night at The Museum)
Marcia Wallace (Full House)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Doris Grau (Babe)
Paul McCartney (Help!)
Linda McCartney (Back To the Egg)
Paul Anka (Ordinary Magic)
Glenn Close (Fatal Attraction)
Harry Morgan (M*A*S*H)
R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket)
Kelsey Grammer (Frasier)
Lawrence Tierney (The Naked Gun)
Bob Newhart (The Big Bang Theory)
Donald Sutherland (The Hunger Games)
Kirk Douglas (Spartacus)
Alex Rocco (the Godfather)
Suzanne Somers (Step By Step)
Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park)
Joe Mantegna (Criminal Minds)
Christina Ricci (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Albert Brooks (Drive)
Paul Winfield (The Terminator)
Rodney Dangerfield (Back to School)
Jon Lovitz (Big)
Johnny Cash (North and South)
David Duchovny (Zoolander)
Gillian Anderson (Hannibal)
Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek)
Jack Lemmon (The Apartment)
John Waters (Seed of Chucky)
David Hyde Pierce (Frasier)
Dave Thomas (Bones)
Sab Shimono (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III)
Tim Conway (McHale’s Navy)
Willem Dafoe (American Psycho)
Martin Sheen (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Mike Judge (King of The Hill)
Jan Hooks (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Andrea Martin (Wag The Dog)
Alex Trebek (Jeopardy!)
Jim Varney (Toy Story)
James Earl Jones (Star Wars)
Janeane Garofalo (Wet Hot American Summer)
Bobcat Goldthwait (Freaked)
Jay Leno (Family Guy)
Steven Wright (The Emoji Movie)
Hank Williams Jr.  (A Time To Sing)
Helen Hunt (As Good As It gets)
Michael Carrington (Think Fast)
Bob Denver (Gilligan’s Island)
Randy Jones (The Joy of Disco)
Rod Steiger (Mars Attacks)
Steve Martin (Cheaper By The Dozen)
Steven Weber (2 Broke Girls)
Brendan Fraser (Bedazzled)

One of the hallmark seasons of The Simpsons, season 7 features some of the strongest episodes produced during the show’s run. Considering that this is The Simpsons we’re talking about here, that’s saying a lot, but this collection deserves the accolades.

SEASON 7 HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

7.1) WHO SHOT MR. BURNS – PART TWO

In the previous episode, Mr. Burns was shot by an unknown gunman. Mr. Smithers believes he may have shot Burns while in a drunken stupor, and turns himself in. However, it is discovered that he is innocent, so the police question several other suspects and eventually discover Simpson DNA evidence on Burns. Mr. Burns himself awakens and is only able to say “Homer Simpson”. The police immediately arrest Homer, but he manages to escape. Lisa investigates the clues herself and discovers vital evidence that clears Homer but at that moment he is spotted at the hospital. Lisa, Smithers, the police and many townsfolk go to Mr. Burns’ hospital room where they find Homer strangling Burns. Burns is shaken out of his daze and reveals that he was really shot by Maggie Simpson. Marge apologizes for Maggie’s actions and everything returns to normal.

7.2) RADIOACTIVE MAN

It is decided that filming for the new Radioactive Man film will take place in Springfield and the producers decide to cast a local child in the role of Fallout Boy. Many of Springfield’s children, including Bart and Milhouse, audition for the role, with the part eventually going to Milhouse. However, Milhouse decides he does not like being a star and flees the production. He refuses to return and play the role and the producers, having been bankrupted by Mayor Quimby and the townsfolk, decide to close production and leave town.Homesweethoeddd7.3) HOME SWEET HOMEDIDDLY-DUM-DOODILY

Several misunderstandings at home and school cause the child welfare dept. to accuse Homer and Marge of being negligent parents. As a result, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie are taken away and put in the care of Ned Flanders and his family. To get their kids back, Homer and Marge must pass a parenting class, while Ned discovers the kids are not baptized and decides to do it himself. Homer and Marge are allowed to get their kids back and manage to stop the baptizing ceremony. Homer eventually takes the baptizing for Bart and experiences momentary religious enlightenment before returning to his original self.7.4) BART SELLS HIS SOUL

While forced to clean the organ pipes after playing a prank against the church, Bart sells his soul to Milhouse for five dollars, to prove his point that a soul does not exist. Bart begins to regret it when weird things begin happening to him such as not finding cartoons funny or not accepting hugs. Meanwhile, an encounter with the Hibbert family results in Moe converting Moe’s Tavern to a family restaurant to make more money. The Simpson family eat there one night and after taunting from Lisa, Bart erupts and leaves to find his soul. It turns out that Milhouse had given Bart’s soul to Comic Book Guy who in turn had sold it to someone else. It turns out that it was sold to Lisa, and she gives Bart his soul back. Back at the family restaurant, Moe loses his temper and swears at a child, resulting in him losing his customers and converting back to his tavern.Homesweethoeddd7.5) LISA THE VEGETARIAN

After a visit with a lamb at a petting zoo, Lisa decides to become a full vegetarian. She tries to draw others towards it, but her efforts are wasted. At the same time, Homer decides to throw a barbecue and Lisa is outraged when those in attendance laugh at her suggestion of eating Gazpacho. She ruins the barbecue by destroying his main host (a roasted pig) and after refusing to apologize to Homer, runs away saying Homer is a prehistoric carnivore. She goes to the Kwik-E-Mart and meets Apu who reveals he is a vegan and tells Lisa to be tolerant and not go pushing her own views on everyone else. Lisa apologizes to Homer, admitting she had no right to ruin his barbecue.King-Size_Homer7.7) KING-SIZE HOMER

Unhappy with the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant’s new exercise program, Homer decides to get on workman’s comp by purposely gaining 61 pounds. He succeeds in his goal and is able to work at home. He spends a lot of his time goofing off and tries to go see a movie. When he is turned away because of his weight, Homer returns home but finds that a nuclear meltdown is about to take place at the plant because of his inattention to his work. He hijacks an ice cream truck and rushes to the plant and is able to save everyone when he falls into a tank and prevents poisonous gas from escaping. As a reward, Mr. Burns guarantees to make Homer thin again, but gives up and decides to pay for a liposuction.7.8) MOTHER SIMPSON

On a Saturday morning Homer fakes his death in order to get out of working at Mr. Burns garbage collecting event and is later forced to go to the records office to verify that he is alive. The clerk reveals that Homer’s mother is still alive but Homer disagrees and goes to his mother’s grave for proof. The grave actually belongs to Walt Whitman but Homer by chance does meet with his mother. He takes her home to meet his family, but she remains silent as to where she was for the past 27 years. The family finally forces her to reveal her secret: she was part of group of Hippie radicals in the 1960s and is on the run from Mr. Burns and the FBI. Mr. Burns later discovers Mona’s whereabouts and she is forced to return into hiding.7.9) SIDESHOW BOB’S LAST GLEAMING

Sideshow Bob escapes from his prison guards and steals an atomic bomb at an airshow and threatens to detonate it unless Springfield gets rid of television. The city is forced to obey, but Bart and Lisa discover that Bob is hiding in the Duff blimp and confront him. Bob discovers that Krusty is still broadcasting his show, so he captures Bart and an airplane and goes on a Kamikaze mission to kill Krusty. However, he fails and is sent back to jail.7.10) THE SIMPSONS 138TH EPISODE SPECTACULAR

Troy McClure hosts a special episode of The Simpsons that gives viewers a behind the scenes look at the show. It features clips of the series’ beginnings as filler on The Tracey Ullman Show, fan mail readings, a look at the “real” Matt Groening, Simpsons trivia questions and unaired scenes from popular episodes, including the alternate ending to the “Who Shot Mr. Burns” two-parter.7.12) TEAM HOMER

Homer assembles a bowling team consisting of Apu, Moe and Otto so he can play on league nights. He gets the team funding from Mr. Burns during one of his ether-induced hallucinations. The team does well until Mr. Burns discovers that he paid for them and decides to join the team. The team starts losing games but still manage to make it to the league championship where they manage to win. The team is overjoyed but Mr. Burns has a change of heart and takes the trophy for himself. Meanwhile, the students of Springfield Elementary School are forced to wear uniforms after Bart comes to school wearing a T-shirt with a shocking message on it.7.13) TWO BAD NEIGHBORS

Homer assembles a bowling team consisting of Apu, Moe and Otto so he can play on league nights. He gets the team funding from Mr. Burns during one of his ether-induced hallucinations. The team does well until Mr. Burns discovers that he paid for them and decides to join the team. The team starts losing games but still manage to make it to the league championship where they manage to win. The team is overjoyed but Mr. Burns has a change of heart and takes the trophy for himself. Meanwhile, the students of Springfield Elementary School are forced to wear uniforms after Bart comes to school wearing a T-shirt with a shocking message on it.7.16) LISA THE ICONOCLAST

While doing research for an essay, Lisa finds a confession written by town founder Jebediah Springfield revealing that he was a murderous pirate named Hans Sprungfeld who tried to attack George Washington and never cared about the people of Springfield. Homer decides to help Lisa get the message out, but they are arrested by the town council. Lisa claims Sprungfeld had a silver tongue so the council decides to exhume Jebediah to prove Lisa wrong. It turns out that there is no silver tongue but Lisa later discovers that it had been stolen from the grave by Hollis Hurlbut, the local historian. The two rush to reveal the truth about Jebediah, but Lisa realizes that the myth had inspired the entire town and decides to keep it a secret.7.17) HOMER THE SMITHERS

At the advice of Mr. Burns, Smithers takes a vacation and hires Homer to be his replacement, thinking that Homer could never outshine him. However, Smithers’ plan backfires when Homer’s incompetence causes Burns to learn how to do things for himself resulting in the now useless Smithers losing his job as Burns’ assistant. Homer decides to help Smithers get his job back, but their plan backfires and the two get into a fight in Mr. Burns’ office. Burns is accidentally knocked out of a window and needs Smithers to do things for him again.7.19) A FISH CALLED SELMA

Troy McClure tries to save his dying career and debunk the rumors of his bizarre sexual life, by marrying Marge’s sister, Selma. Selma discovers that the marriage is a sham but decides that being a sham wife is okay. However, Troy is informed by his agent that becoming a father will help his career even more but Selma refuses to bring a child into their loveless marriage and leaves.7.20) BART ON THE ROAD

While stuck at the DMV with Patty and Selma on “Go To Work With Your Parents Day,” Bart creates a fake driver’s license for himself and uses it to go on a spring break road trip with Milhouse, Nelson, and Martin. Meanwhile, Homer and Lisa bond after spending “Go To Work With Your Parents Day” together and the two have a lot of fun. Bart and his friends decide to go to the 1982 World’s Fair in Knoxville but discover that their guide book is outdated and the fair ended years ago. Stuck in Knoxville with no money, Bart becomes a courier and calls Lisa for help. Lisa convinces Homer to order a nuclear console from Knoxville, thus helping Bart get home.7.23) MUCH APU ABOUT NOTHING

After a bear wanders into Evergreen Terrace, Mayor Quimby is forced to raise taxes so they can pay for a new bear patrol. When the citizens are outraged, Quimby blames illegal immigrants and creates Proposition 24, which will deport them. The family discovers that Apu is in fact an illegal immigrant and decide to help him get his citizenship. Apu succeeds and Homer gives a heartfelt speech about why Springfield should reject Prop 24, however, it still passes with 95% majority and Groundskeeper Willie is deported.7.24) HOMERPALOOZA

In an attempt to show his kids how hip he is, Homer takes Bart and Lisa to the Hullabalooza music festival where Homer is hired as a sideshow freak who can withstand the force of cannonball blasts. As a result, Homer gets to go on tour with the festival and suddenly finds himself living the high life. As the tour approaches a stop in Springfield, Homer’s stomach begins to hurt and he is sent to a veterinarian who advises Homer that if he performs his act one more time, his stomach will burst and he will die. Homer shrugs this news off, not wanting to lose his popularity. At first he decides to do his job, but at the last second he loses his nerve and dodges the cannonball. He is released from the festival and goes back to being not respected by his children.7.25) SUMMER OF 4 FT. 2

At the start of summer, Ned Flanders asks Homer to take care of his beach house in Little Pwagmattasquarmsettport. The family decide to go there and Lisa, realizing that she is not as cool as she thinks, uses the new locale as a chance to rid herself of her nerd image and becomes a surfer girl. She becomes best friends with a girl named Erin and a group of locals, but Bart becomes jealous and reveals to them that Lisa is in fact a teacher’s pet. Lisa runs off crying, thinking that she has lost her new friends, but the next night they surprise her and say she was a good friend.

Quite simply the best season of the Simpsons to date in my opinion. Hank Scorpio and Frank Grimes to this day remain the best one time characters the writers have ever produced and every single episode (barring the spinoff showcase one nearer the end which didn’t hit it for me) is pure Simpsons gold.

SEASON 8 HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

8.2) YOU ONLY MOVE TWICE

When Homer accepts a new job at the Globex Corporation the Simpson family moves to Cypress Creek. Homer enjoys his new work and his easy-going boss, but is completely unaware that his boss is an evil genius and that the company is a vehicle for international extortion. The rest of the family have trouble settling in Cypress Creek and begin to get homesick so Homer must make a choice between Cypress Creek and Springfield.8.3) THE HOMER THEY FALL

When Bart is beaten up by school bullies, Homer takes matters into his own hands. Although Homer is unable to make his point, Moe is impressed by his ability to withstand a beating. Moe talks Homer into becoming a boxer with Moe as his manager. His sole strategy is to let opponents knock themselves out while pounding on Homer. Promoter Lucius Sweet becomes aware of Homer’s rise as a boxer and wants him to fight Drederick Tatum, the heavyweight champion.8.4) BURNS, BABY BURNS

A man named Larry’s jaw drops when he sees his father Mr. Burns on a train from Yale to Springfield and Larry immediately follows the train. When he arrives at Mr Burns’s mansion he identifies himself as Mr. Burns’s long lost son. Burns admits that Larry is the result of a one-night stand and accepts him as his own. Soon, however, Larry proves to be an incurable oaf and Burns gets tired of him. Homer befriends Larry because they share similar interests. Together they fake Larry’s kidnapping to win back Burns’s love. But when Burns is told that Homer has kidnapped his son Homer and Larry are chased by reporters and the police. When told of the fake kidnapping Burns cannot continue as Larry’s father and Larry leaves Springfield to return to his family.8.5) BART AFTER DARK

Bart does property damage to a house and Homer makes him do chores to pay for his misdeed. The house turns out to be a burlesque saloon and a group of concerned citizens confront Homer on Bart’s work. Marge agrees with the group and joins them in their attempt to oust the saloon from Springfield. In a town hall meeting, Marge convinces the townspeople to demolish the old house, but when the destruction team begins, Homer sings a song that changes everybody’s mind. The demolition stops, but Marge’s bulldozer accidentally slips out of gear and damages the house.8.6) A MILHOUSE DIVIDED

Marge decides to host a dinner party at the Simpson house. They invite their friends to it, but the Van Houtens have a very bad time and argue and fight throughout the night until Luann announces that she wants a divorce. Luann happily settles back to single life with Milhouse, and starts dating an American Gladiator named Pyro. Homer is confident that it will never happen to him, but Kirk tells him how quickly things can change. He realizes that he has taken his marriage for granted and overcompensates by smothering Marge. Deciding that their marriage is finished, Homer secretly files for a divorce from Marge. Homer then surprises her by asking her for her hand in marriage again and Marge accepts. Kirk tries the same strategy with Luann, but she refuses.8.7) LISA’S DATE WITH DESTINY

Nelson is punished for vandalizing Superintendent Chalmers’ car and has to help Willie around the schoolyard. When Lisa watches Nelson torment Willie, she finds herself attracted to him and decides to try to change Nelson into a better person. Lisa goes on a date with him and they kiss, but when he is later revealed to be lying about vandalizing Skinner’s house, she loses the attraction. Meanwhile, Homer finds an autodialer and starts a telemarketing scam.8.8) HURRICANE NEDDY

A hurricane strikes through Springfield and only destroys the Flanders’ home and they have to move into the church basement. The people of Springfield gather to rebuild their house, but when Ned sees the poor workmanship, he has a complete breakdown. Ned commits himself to a mental institution and his psychiatrist discovers that Ned’s past has taught him to suppress his anger. The psychiatrist then teaches Ned to express his anger with Homer as a role model and Ned gets cured as Ned reunites with the people of Springfield along with the rest of the Simpsons and his family.8.9) EL VIAJE MISTERIOSO DE NUESTRO JOMER

Homer begins to hallucinate after eating a dish laced with potent Guatemalan peppers at the chili cook-off. In this hallucination he meets a mystical coyote, which tells him to find his soul mate. After a fight with Marge, he is concerned that she is not really his soul mate. Homer leaves the house and seeks solitude in a lighthouse. Marge arrives at the lighthouse and apologizes and then Homer realizes that Marge is his soul mate after all.8.10) THE SPRINGFIELD FILES

Homer walks home one night from Moe’s Tavern. On his way he sees an eerie glowing creature. The next day Homer’s story is printed in the local newspaper. FBI agents Mulder and Scully read the story and go to Springfield to investigate this X-file. After talking with Homer they find his credibility shaky and quickly leave again. Bart and Homer then set up a camp to videotape the creature. When the creature appears, Lisa reveals that the creature is actually Mr. Burns after a medical treatment by Dr. Riviera.8.12) MOUNTAIN OF MADNESS

To encourage teamwork, Mr. Burns takes all of his employees to a corporate retreat in the mountains. The employees pair up and Homer becomes Burns’s partner. The challenge is to find a cabin on the snowy mountainside. The pair to finish last will be fired. Burns and Homer cheat by using a snowmobile and make it the cabin before everybody else, but an avalanche buries the cabin. Homer and Burns go insane in the cold and get into a fight. In the fight they ignite a propane tank, which rockets the cabin to safety8.13) SIMPSONCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALAD’OHCIOUS

Marge is stressed by the demands of motherhood and the Simpsons get a magical British nanny, who floats down from the sky holding an umbrella. The nanny is a miracle worker, who teaches Bart and Lisa how to clean and charms everybody. However, the Simpsons cannot stop living their messy ways and the nanny’s spirit gets crushed. She leaves the family realizing that she has taught them nothing.8.15) HOMER’S PHOBIA

The family tries to sell an old heirloom at a collectibles store and strike up a relationship with John, the store owner. The Simpsons invite John over to their house to assess their other belongings and Homer takes a liking to him. Marge then informs Homer that John is gay and he refuses to see him again. Afterwards Homer notices changes in Bart’s behavior and fears that John has turned him into a homosexual. Trying to make Bart manlier, they go on a hunting trip, but get attacked by a herd of aggressive reindeer. Suddenly, John arrives and saves the day. Homer then thanks John for saving his life and accepts him as a friend.8.16) BROTHER FROM ANOTHER SERIES

Sideshow Bob is released from prison and his brother, Cecil, hires him to supervise the construction of a dam. Bart suspects that Bob is up to something and sneaks into his office along with Lisa. There he discovers a suitcase filled with money. Bob enters and explains his innocence, but Bart and Lisa do not believe him. Cecil now enters and holds them all at gunpoint. His plan is to blow up the dam and walk away with the $15 million he embezzled from the project. Bob would naturally be blamed allowing Cecil to get revenge for Bob stealing his part as Krusty’s sidekick. Cecil now locks up Bob, Bart and Lisa, but they manage to escape and stop Cecil.8.17) MY SISTER, MY SITTER

Lisa wants to start babysitting, but Marge thinks she is too young. Flanders urgently needs a babysitter and Lisa gets her first job. When Flanders gives her a glowing review, she starts to get steady work. Then one evening, Lisa is put in charge of babysitting Bart and Maggie. Bart is outraged and embarks on a series of pranks. When Bart refuses to go to bed, Lisa accidentally knocks him down the stairs which dislocates his arm. Lisa tries to help him by transporting him in a wheelbarrow to Dr. Nick. Bart falls out of the wheelbarrow and rolls down a hill. The townspeople are mortified, but Lisa continues to get jobs the following day.8.18) HOMER VS THE EIGHTEENTH AMENDMENT

Alcohol is banned from Springfield after Bart accidentally gets drunk at a town parade. Rex Banner is appointed to replace Chief Wiggum as police chief to enforce the new laws and stop Fat Tony from smuggling. Rex is successful, but then Homer starts to smuggle alcohol. Eventually, Homer ends his bootlegging ends and approaches Wiggum with a plan to expose himself and restore Wiggum’s good name. Homer is about to receive punishment by being catapulted, but he is saved by an impassioned speech by Marge. The liquor ban is then lifted and the town celebrates by getting drunk.8.19) GRADE SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL

Seymour Skinner and Edna Krabappel strike up a conversation at a party and take a romantic interest in each other. They try to keep their affair a secret, but Bart sees them kiss. The following day the couple hears Bart telling his classmates about it and silences him by deleting his permanent records. Bart becomes their go-between for exchanging love notes, but he gets tired of that and exposes Skinner and Krabappel in the janitor’s closet locked in a passionate embrace. The word spreads all over town and Superintendent Chalmers gives Skinner an ultimatum – either end the relationship or face dismissal. Skinner pretends that he is in fact a virgin and the matter is cleared up..8.21) THE OLD MAN AND THE LISA

Mr. Burns loses his fortune in a bad investment. He is not doing well alone and is committed to the Springfield Retirement Castle. Disgusted by his surroundings, he vows to get his fortune back. He then sees Lisa collecting recyclables and remembers her opposition towards him. He believes that the reason for losing his fortune was that he was surrounded by “yes men” and therefore asks Lisa to help him. Lisa introduces Burns to recycling and by collecting these he soon gets enough money to buy a recycling plant. In reality this recycling plant captures all aquatic life and grinds it into to all-purpose goo. Lisa is horrified, but Burns regains his fortune and buys back his power plant.8.22) IN MARGE WE TRUST

Marge is concerned that Reverend Lovejoy does not meet the needs of his parishioners and becomes the new advice giver at the Church. When Marge gains a loyal following, Lovejoy gets concerned that he has become “shepherd without a flock”. Meanwhile, Homer finds an old Japanese product, “Mr. Sparkle”, a dish-washing detergent, with a logo that oddly resembles him. When he calls up the company behind the product, he finds Mr. Sparkle is a composite of two company logos. Marge is unable to help Ned Flanders in a crisis and calls up Lovejoy for help. Lovejoy solves the crisis and gets his congregants’ interest in his next sermon telling the story.8.23) HOMER’S ENEMY

Frank Grimes, a new employee at the Nuclear Power Plant, is a hard-working man who has never been given a break in his life. At work he meets Homer and takes an instant dislike to his poor job performance and attitude. Meanwhile, Bart steps into a tax auction and buys an abandoned factory for a dollar, which he uses to play factory with Milhouse. Homer tries to win Grimes approval by inviting him over for a family dinner. When Grimes sees Homer’s accomplishments and home, he becomes even more bitter. Imitating Homer’s behavior at work, he runs amok and electrocutes himself.08-248.24) THE SIMPSONS SPIN-OFF SHOWCASE

Troy McClure hosts a show which features three ideas for spin-offs to The Simpsons:
Chief Wiggum, P.I. – Chief Wiggum and Seymour Skinner are detectives in New Orleans.
The Love-Matic Grampa – Grampa’s soul is contained in Moe’s Love Tester machine.
The Simpson Family Smile-Time Variety Hour – The Simpsons host a 70s variety show.8.25) THE SECRET WAR OF LISA SIMPSON

Bart is enrolled in a military school after unintentionally pranking the whole town. After seeing the school Lisa decides she wants to join too. Lisa is the first female cadet and therefore gets to stay in her own private barrack. This move creates resentment among the boys at the facility and Bart refuses to speak to his sister. Later, Bart secretly apologizes and helps her train for a test. When Lisa has trouble completing the test Bart publicly encourages her at the expense of his own reputation, and she finally passes the test.

The argument will rage long after the boxset of The Simpsons: Season Nine has been released about when exactly America’s finest television animated export actually peaked. Some arguably, with genuine gusto, that it was a year or two before this series was first shown. Most purists though satisfy themselves that it’s the single digit seasons where the best of The Simpsons, and there’s certainly plenty of gold in this latest set.

SEASON 9 HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE

19731877_723484524525792_8206049530370741217_n9.1) THE CITY OF NEW YORK VS HOMER SIMPSON

Homer allows Barney to use his car when Barney is picked to be the designated driver for that night at Moe’s Tavern. However, Barney disappears for two months with the car, and returns without it. Homer searches for his car, and eventually receives a letter from the City of New York. The family is excited to go there to obtain the car, but Homer, who had had a bad experience in New York when he was younger, is reluctant. After reaching New York City, Homer sees the car parked near the World Trade Center, where he must wait by so that an officer can remove the wheel clamp. He is distracted from standing watch for the police when he has to go the bathroom, and causes him to miss the police officer. Homer gets angry, and leaves the city with the clamp on.9.5) THE CARTRIDGE FAMILY

After a large soccer riot leads to an extended period of mob rule throughout Springfield, Homer decides to forgo an expensive security system in favor of a gun. As Marge disapproves of a gun in the house, Homer takes her to an NRA meeting to sell her on the concept. Marge’s objections continue, finally forcing Homer to agree to get rid of the weapon. Unfortunately, Bart and Milhouse later discover it concealed in the refrigerator. Infuriated and frightened, Marge takes the kids and leaves Homer. With nothing but his gun and his indignation for company, Homer hosts an NRA meeting in his empty house, only to be kicked out of the group when the members themselves acknowledge his reckless and irresponsible treatment of firearms. Thus humbled, Homer seeks out his family to admit his mistake.9.7) THE TWO MRS. NAHASAPEEMAPETILONS

After Marge enters Apu into a bachelor auction, many women find an interest in him. However, Apu soon receives a letter from his mother, regarding the arranged marriage he is supposed to have. He does not want to marry the stranger, and following the advice of Homer, tells his mother that he is already married. Curious, his mother comes to America to see his wife, which Homer says Marge can pretend to be. But his mother soon realizes that she is not actually his wife, making the plans for the arranged marriage to continue. Apu becomes depressed until he learns at his wedding that his arranged wife, Manjula, is actually quite lovely.9.8) LISA THE SKEPTIC

Lisa discovers that a shopping mall is going to be built at a site where prehistoric fossils were found. Afraid of there being more prehistoric items at the site, Lisa complains to the developers and starts an archaeological survey at the site. Late into the dig, Lisa unearths a skeleton with bones that resemble wings, similar to an angel’s. Despite the whole town believing it to be an angel, Lisa takes a sample of the skeleton and has it tested to see if it is one of a human. The results are inconclusive, leaving Lisa still skeptical. After an interview about her beliefs, there is a town riot against the science community. During the riots, the skeleton is stolen. The town finally discovers it on a hillside with the message, “The End Will Come at Sundown” carved into it. However, the entire ordeal turns out to be publicity stunt that was pulled off by the mall’s developers. Surprisingly, the town is not angry, but is instead fascinated by the low prices at the mall.
9.12) BART CARNY

While the family is at a traveling carnival, Bart accidentally crashes Adolf Hitler’s car. To pay off the debts, Homer and Bart get jobs at the carnival by helping with the booths and exhibits, where they befriend Cooder and Spud, a father-and-son carny team. Unfortunately, Homer causes their booth to get shut down, when he does not recognize the bribe Chief Wiggum was asking for. Homer decides to allow the two carnies to stay at his home. The next day, the family goes to a glass bottom boat ride with the tickets Cooder gave them, only to discover their house has been taken over by the two carnies when they return. After brainstorming on how to get the house back, Homer decides to make Cooder a deal: If Homer can get a hula hoop around the house’s chimney, he can have his house back, but if he does not, he will sign the deed of the house to Cooder. However, the family fool the two carnies, and rush back into the house before the two can do anything.9.13) THE JOY OF SECT

After encountering two recruiters of a sect called “The Movementarians”, Homer attends a session that teaches about their sect, where he is brainwashed to join. Homer moves the entire family to their compound, where the entire family, except Marge, is brainwashed. Marge escapes through a dangerous getaway, and finds Reverend Lovejoy, Ned Flanders and Groundskeeper Willie for help. The four manage to kidnap the family back. They are able to persuade Lisa and Bart to not believe in the sect anymore, but are unable to get Homer back, as the sect’s lawyers take him back before they are able to. However, Homer no longer believes in the sect when he arrives, and manages to expose them as fake. The group then disbands, and the family goes back home.9.14) DAS BUS

As the students of Springfield Elementary are being driven to a model UN conference, Otto drives the bus off a bridge after his brake pedal is blocked by a grapefruit. To obtain help, Otto swims off, while the kids are still in the bus. Soon, when the bus is nearly full of water, the kids manage to escape and swim to an island. Once there, the kids find no food, causing Bart to swim back to the sunken bus to get the cooler full of food. Lisa advises everyone to not eat much, as it may be the only food they could have for some time. However, the cooler is found empty the next morning, with the food wrappings discarded around Milhouse, who claims a monster ate it. Lisa champions the charter of the Model UN and insists on giving Milhouse a trial, wherein he is found innocent. The verdict angers the kids, however, inciting violence against Lisa, Milhouse, and Bart, who are forced to flee. The three hide in a cave, but are chased out by a boar, which is soon found out to be the “monster”. The kids kill the boar and eat it, and a narration assures that Moe saves the kids. Meanwhile, Homer starts his own internet company, but it is eventually destroyed by Bill Gates.9.15) THE LAST TEMPTATION OF KRUST

After a rude awakening to his own hackneyed and dated comedy act, Krusty does some heavy drinking and wakes up in front of the Flanders’ house. Bart takes him inside his house and into his room, where Krusty, looking at all the Krusty merchandise, realizes that he has sold out instead of focusing on comedy. Bart invites Jay Leno to help clean up Krusty, and modernize his jokes. However, Krusty’s attempts fail, causing him to announce his retirement. During his announcement, the group of reporters find his tirade against modern comedians hilarious, influencing Krusty to try a hipper, more honest blend of comedy and social criticism. Although he becomes a popular comedian again, Krusty ends up selling out once more when some advertisers bribe him to endorse a car, in return for a free one.
9.16) DUMBBELL INDEMNITY

After several unsuccessful attempts at getting a girlfriend, Moe finally gets one after walking away from a disco with Homer. The woman, Renee, surprisingly finds Moe attractive, resulting in Moe treating her lavishly. After spending too much, Moe’s credit card maxes out, causing him to become desperate for money. He soon devises a plan to have Homer steal his car and crash it to accomplish insurance fraud. Unfortunately, Homer gets caught and ends up in jail. With the insurance money, Moe decides not to bail Homer out of jail, but instead take a Hawaiian vacation with Renee. After finding out, Homer escapes and decides to find Moe for revenge. Meanwhile, Moe confesses the truth to Renee, who is happy at first, but is disgusted with him after his plans to free Homer involve lying again. Renee leaves Moe, then he accidentally starts a fire at his tavern. At the same time, Homer comes to fight Moe, but both faint from smoke inhalation. Finally, Barney comes and saves the two, and Homer allows Moe to temporarily run his bar at the Simpsons’ house.09-179.17) LISA THE SIMPSON

Soon after being unable to solve a brain-teaser that several others at school were able to solve, and forgetting some of her day to day tasks, Lisa learns from Grampa that the Simpsons have a long history of losing their intelligence in late childhood. Lisa soon realizes that she cannot escape genetics, and accepts that she will soon be very unintelligent. After realizing the importance of sharing what you can with the world while you still have the chance, she lies her way onto a news broadcast to deliver a message on treasuring your brain. Homer sees this and, upon learning what Abe told her, attempts to disprove the theory of the “Simpson gene” by gathering every Simpson in the area together to showcase their merits. Unfortunately it is quickly apparent that Homer did not research this project much, as many of his guests prove to be simpletons, deadbeats, and stooges. Lisa’s salvation only comes when she begins to meet the Simpson women, including a doctor who submits that the defective “Simpson gene” is located only on the Y-chromosome. Re-validated, Lisa celebrates that she is once again herself, an event aptly crowned when she finally manages to solve the brain-teaser that so plagued her. Meanwhile, Apu finds out that Jasper has locked himself inside a freezer at the Kwik-E-Mart and decides to turn it into a freak house.9.18) THIS LITTLE WIGGY

When Marge realizes that Ralph Wiggum has no friends, she volunteers Bart to be his friend. Initially unwilling, Bart discovers that Ralph’s father, Chief Wiggum, owns a key that opens every lock in Springfield. The two go out at night and open many places to have fun, but soon encounter bullies Nelson Muntz, Dolph, Jimbo, and Kearney. The four pressure Bart and Ralph to sneak into an abandoned prison, but Bart decides not to when he sees that Ralph is scared. The key is thrown over into the prison by the trouble-makers, causing Bart and Ralph to go retrieve it. While in the prison, the two find an old electric chair, which they turn on to see if it still works, and later go home. The next day, Mayor Quimby announces the prison is reopened, and decides to demonstrate what criminals could face by sitting in the, unknown to the police and the mayor, active chair. Bart rushes to Lisa for help to tell the mayor that the chair is active, leading Lisa to fire a small rocket with a note attached to the prison. The rocket misses and crashes into the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. Mr. Burns responds and, upon realizing the prison has been using free electricity, turns off the power, saving the mayor.9.19) SIMPSON TIDE

Homer is fired from the Nuclear Power Plant following a near meltdown, and decides to join the Naval Reserve. Meanwhile, Bart decides to get an earring. Homer graduates from basic training, and must go of on a mission of war games, but not before taking Bart’s earring, which he disapproves of. Later, on the submarine, Homer befriends the Captain, who leaves him in charge when he goes to check a blocked torpedo. Homer believes the ship is being fired at, and launches a torpedo, accidentally ejecting the Captain. Homer eventually gets the submarine lost, and is considered a traitor by the media. The United States Navy fires at the submarine, causing a leak which Homer stops with Bart’s earring. The submarine is soon surfaced, and Homer is taken into custody by the Navy. However, he escapes any trouble due to the Navy judges having to resign over various scandals that they are involved in. Homer then leaves the Navy with a dishonorable discharge.9.20) THE TROUBLE WITH TRILLIONS

Forgetting to do his annual income taxes until the night they are due, Homer rushes to fill out his forms with false information. Soon after, he is arrested for tax fraud, but makes a deal to work for the FBI for immunity from the IRS’s prosecutions. After a successful operation made by Homer, the FBI decides to have Homer obtain a one trillion dollar bill that is in the hands of Montgomery Burns. Homer leads Mr. Burns to believe that he is a reporter, causing Mr. Burns shows him the bill. The FBI rushes into the mansion and arrests Mr. Burns, but Homer decides to rescue him. Mr. Burns gets the help of Waylon Smithers, and with Homer, the three escape in Mr. Burns’ plane. Looking for an island to buy, Mr. Burns decides to land in Cuba, where the three meet Fidel Castro. Castro does not wish to sell Cuba, but is interested in seeing the trillion dollar bill. However, after he is handed the bill, he decides to not return it. The show ends with the three on a raft back to the United States.Simpsons_09_14_P19.22) TRASH OF THE TITANS

When Homer is unable to take all of his trash to the curb, barely missing the garbage truck, Homer insults the garbage men, leading the family to have their garbage collection service cut off. After the house collects a huge amount of trash, Marge writes an apology letter to the sanitary commission, signing with Homer’s name. However, Homer finds out and goes to city hall to rescind it. Following an angry meeting with the commissioner, Homer decides to run for his position. Homer’s campaigning fails to win much support, until he promises the town that they will no longer need to do any garbage-related work. This causes Homer to win in a landslide. Initially, Homer is able is keep his promise, but he uses an entire year’s budget in a month, causing the workers to go on strike, fearing they will not be paid. Homer makes a deal with neighboring towns to dump their trash in Springfield’s abandoned mines to make money, but when the mines are filled, trash starts to burst out of the ground. The town is then forced to completely move five miles away.9609.24) LOST OUR LISA

When Bart comes home with some novelty items superglued to his face, Marge takes him to the emergency room, spoiling Lisa’s chance to go the Springfield Museum to catch the last day of the Isis Exhibit. Marge forbids Lisa to take public transportation to the museum by herself, but Lisa is able to manipulate her father for his permission to take the bus. However, Lisa takes the wrong bus and ends up in the middle of nowhere. Meanwhile, Homer realizes that he should not have given Lisa permission to take the bus by herself. He rushes to the museum to find her, but she has managed to get downtown after much travel. Near the museum, Homer decides to use a cherry picker to locate Lisa, but the cherry picker loses control and falls into the pier, and floats off to a drawbridge. Lisa sees this, and quickly tells the bridge operator to lower the bridge, which catches Homer by his head to save him. Unfortunately, the exhibit is closed, but Homer promises to break into the museum at night with Lisa, where the two discover one of the exhibits’ objects is a musical boxNatural_Born_Kissers_409.25) NATURAL BORN KISSERS

Homer and Marge go out on their anniversary dinner, but are forced to take the kids. They end up having an unromantic dinner, and lose interest in being intimate later that night. Later, the two must go purchase a new refrigerator motor, but during a rainstorm, their car gets stuck in the mud, so the two rush into a barn. When the farm owner nearly discovers them, the two become excited and have sex. When they return home, they decide to spend a weekend at a bed and breakfast, but when they are there, they find themselves romantically uninspired once again, until a maid discovers them on a bed. They then realize that the fear of getting caught makes them excited. Later, they decide to go to a miniature golf course to have sex in the windmill there, just like they did when they were younger. The people there soon realize there is something inside the windmill, and the two barely manage to escape unseen. However, the people see their underwear, and realize someone was there. To get home, the nude couple steals a hot air balloon, but they accidentally wind up landing on a football field full of people. Homer and Marge travel back home, and are in the newspaper the next day.960With the conclusion of Season 9 the series hit it’s 200 mark, These three seasons here have some the best episodes between them , highlighting the comedy gold that is the Simpsons.

 

 

 

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REVIEW: STRAIGHTHEADS (AKA CLOSURE)

CAST

Gillian Anderson (Hannibal)
Danny Dyer (Severance)
Anthony Calf (Dead Cool)
Francesca Fowler (The Golden Hour)
Ralph Brown (Alien 3)
Steven Robertson (Kingdom of Heaven)

Adam, a 23-year-old self-employed security technician, is hired by a businesswoman, Alice Comfort, to set up a security system in her flat. After finishing the work, Adam falls asleep on a lawnchair on her roof-garden. When Alice arrives home and finds him there, she impulsively asks him to accompany her to a housewarming party for her boss. He is unsure, but eventually agrees. After a drive, Alice and Adam arrive at the party. Alice leaves Adam to speak to some people at the party. Adam leaves the house, feeling out of place. Alice later finds Adam outside in the grounds, then leads him into some woods and they have sex.On the way home from the party, Alice and Adam are caught behind a slow-moving vehicle, which Alice frustratedly overtakes whilst Adam shouts out an obscenity at the driver. Shortly thereafter, Alice is distracted from driving and accidentally hits a stag. She brings the car to a stop, and they drag the stag off the road. While they are moving it, the car that Alice had earlier overtaken pulls up behind Alice’s car. Three men get out, badly beat Adam and then rape Alice. A month passes, during which Adam and Alice physically heal – the only reminder of the attack being an eyepatch that Adam must wear to protect an eye wound he received during the beating – but both remain emotionally wounded. Upon returning to work, Alice receives notification that, while she was hospitalized following her rape, her father died. Alice drives out to his country estate to put his affairs in order, where she discovers a locked chest that she recognizes from her childhood. On the way home, she passes by a group of riders on horseback, one of whom she recognizes as having raped her. She gets his name – Heffer – from one of the other riders.hqdefaultAlice then contacts Adam, and he makes his way to Alice’s father’s house where she tells him that she’s found one of the men responsible for attacking them. Alice shows Adam the contents of her father’s locked chest: a sniper rifle and silencer that her father apparently smuggled home after being discharged from the army. Alice then tells Adam that she intends to avenge herself against Heffer. Adam and Alice move into Alice’s father’s home, and spend their days practising shooting with the rifle. After they have become proficient with it, they take a trip out to the edge of Heffer’s land and begin plotting the best way to kill him. During their reconnaissance, they learn that Heffer has a dog on his property, which barks whenever they approach the house. Alice shoots the dog, then makes Adam collect its body so that they can dispose of it. A moment later, Heffer comes outside looking for the dog; Alice is preparing to shoot him when a young woman (later identified as Heffer’s daughter, Sophie) comes out of the house to help find the dog. Alice and Adam, disturbed by seeing their attacker as a human being, return home.28085-StraightheadsOver the next several days Alice and Adam try to determine if they should follow through with their plan. Adam, who has been impotent since the attack, steadily becomes more aggressive and committed to the idea of murdering Heffer. Alice, however, has grown reluctant to kill Heffer now that she has seen him in a human context; instead, she sends Adam to clandestinely set up security equipment in Heffer’s house in an attempt to determine the identities and locations of his friends who participated in the gang-rape. Adam succeeds in breaking into Heffer’s house, where he learns that Heffer is the submissive party in his relationship with the other attackers. In need of money, they have decided to blackmail Heffer with their knowledge of the rape, forcing him to give them money in exchange for not anonymously tipping off the police as to his identity.MCDSTRA EC042Adam, seeking a means of escape, ends up in Sophie’s room; initially, he merely attempts to keep her quiet so that he can get out of the house, but he has a sudden fit of rage and begins raping her. In the middle of the attack, she escapes from his grasp, and Adam returns home, able to maintain an erection for the first time since the attack. He and Alice begin to have sex, but when he starts to become too rough with her she throws him off. Adam leaves the house and heads out into the woods.The next day, Alice uses a laptop computer that controls the security cameras and watches Heffer in his house. She quickly realises his intention is to kill himself and after grabbing the rifle she drives over, and stops her car just in front of a garage upon hearing a car horn sounding. Alice gets inside the garage and finds Heffer, sitting in his running car, attempting to kill himself with carbon monoxide poisoning. Alice gets Heffer out of the car and into fresh air, saving his life; once he regains consciousness, she helps him back into his house. In the midst of a delirium from the carbon monoxide, Heffer—who doesn’t recognize Alice—confesses that, a month ago, his friends voiced their intentions to rape his daughter, but that he convinced them to rape and beat a woman and her friend in the middle of the road instead.28085-StraightheadsJust then, Alice and Heffer hear Adam calling from outside, and Heffer suddenly turns violent, grabbing her roughly but Alice hits him and frees herself. Adam then bursts into the house, beats Heffer, duct-tapes him to the kitchen table, and holds him down while Alice sodomizes him with the barrel of the rifle that she has fetched from her car; once she is finished, she prepares to kill him, but now feeling pity for him because of the circumstances surrounding the rape, she decides not to pull the trigger. Adam, infuriated, takes out a hunting knife and carves out Heffer’s eye. Horrified, Alice runs away; driving back to her father’s home, Alice spots Sophie hitch-hiking, and invites her into her car. When Sophie realizes she isn’t being taken home, she asks Alice where they’re headed; Alice replies, “Somewhere safe.” Back at Heffer’s house, Adam taunts Heffer until he hears a car pulling up; as one of the attackers approaches the house, Adam fatally shoots him in the head before pursuing the remaining attacker through the grounds of Heffer’s house. Adam shoots him in the leg as he flees, causing him to fall to the ground. Adam then approaches the wounded man and bludgeons him to death with the butt of the rifle. In the final shot of the film, Adam walks away from his final victim and approaches the screen for a close up shot. He effectively breaks the fourth wall by glancing at the audience – leaving the viewer to reflect on the violent act of revenge Adam has committed.hqdefaultAnderson and Dyer give brilliant, understated performances, who undergo a real journey in the course of the film. They are ably supported by the rest of the cast. A pertinent film, that deserves viewing.

REVIEW: ROBOT OVERLORDS

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CAST

Ben Kingsley (Iron Man 3)
Gillian Anderson (Iron Man 3)
Callan McAuliffe (I Am Number Four)
Ella hunt (Intruders)
Geraldine James (Alice In Wonderland)
Tamer Hassan (Wrong Turn 3)

Not long after the invasion and occupation of Earth by a race of powerful robots wanting human knowledge and ingenuity, humans are confined to their homes. Leaving without permission would be to risk their lives. Monitored by the electronic implants in their necks, the robot sentries are able to track the movements of humans in order to control them. If any person comes out of their home, they are given warnings by the robot sentries to get inside their home. If the person does not comply, they are shot immediately.In what starts out as a bit of fun, a bunch of clever kids in a British town (assumed to be Scotland, but actually filmed in Northern Ireland and Isle of Man) manage to tamper with the implants in their necks and stay out after their curfew. Having discovered the capabilities of the electronic implants, they quickly realise how important this information could be to save the imprisoned human race.Led by the talented Sean (Callan McAuliffe), who discovers he has the mental ability to interface with and control the robots, the kids band together and recruit other people who want to stand up against the robots’ rule. Standing in their way are human collaborators, led by Smythe (Ben Kingsley, using a northern English accent), and the kids must summon all their emotional and physical strength in order to battle against their control. After a run-in with the collaborators, clues eventually lead them to a hideaway community in an abandoned mine where Sean is reunited with his father, but the robots soon descend on the community seeking Sean, offering an amnesty in exchange for him. Sean mentally controls a robot craft that rams and destroys the cube, the local robot mothership, halting this invasion. He narrowly escapes the impact. He interfaces with a damaged Mediator, a robot in human form, and mentally sends commands to end the invasion of the Earth, destroying the robots and their craft. The film ends with jubilation as the local population celebrate in town. In the closing scene, Sean looks up at the stars.

For me, “Robot Overlords” has all the elements of a modern sci-fi cult classic! I certainly hope it gets the attention and the recognition it deserves.

REVIEW: JOHNNY ENGLISH 1 & 2

CAST
Rowan Atkinsion (Mr. Bean)
John Malkovich (Red)
Natalie Imbruglia (Underdogs)
Ben Miller (The Prince and Me)
Greg Wise (Sense and Sensibility)
Kevin McNally (Pirates of The Caribbean)
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Johnny English is an inept MI7 agent with dreams of being their most trusted employee. After Agent One dies in a submarine accident (courtesy of English making a mistake on checking the submarine hatch code), the remaining agents are assassinated via a bombing at Agent One’s funeral (again courtesy of English’s incompetence at security), leaving English as the lone survivor. English is assigned to follow a plot to steal the Crown Jewels, which are on display at the Tower of London. At the display, English is head of security, and meets the mysterious Lorna Campbell. The power is cut, and the jewels are stolen. During the chaos, English knocks out a security guard in the process and pretends to fight the assailant (in reality fighting himself). He later makes up a false description of the assailant to Pegasus. English and his assistant Angus Bough find the jewels were removed via a hole dug beneath their display case. The two follow a tunnel, confronting the two thieves Klaus Vendetta and Dieter Klein. The two escape in a hearse, with English trying to pursue them, but mistakes another hearse for the escape vehicle, crashing a funeral until Bough comes to his aid.
Johnny English
English connects the thieves to Pascal Sauvage, a French prison entrepreneur who helped restore the Crown Jewels. Pegasus, head of MI7, finds the claims of his involvement absurd and warns English not to involve Sauvage. In the car park, English and Bough are attacked by the thieves, but are unharmed beyond Bough getting a nose bleed (courtesy of English mistaking him for one of the thieves and covering up for himself by saying that there could have been other thieves and adamantly insisting that Bough drop the issue and move on). English again encounters Lorna Campbell in a Japanese restaurant as he recognized her motorcycle. During their meeting English is suspicious of her since he has seen her at two of their crime scenes and her records cannot be found on any government computer. English and Bough decide to break into Sauvage’s headquarters via parachutes, but English lands in the Royal London Hospital by mistake taking hospital employees hostage until he sees the “SAUVAGE” building with Bough inside. He then covers for himself by telling the employees that the hold up was just a test of their emergency response systems while telling Bough that he merely did a precautionary sweep of the immediate environment. Going to the correct building, the two learn Sauvage, who is a descendant of William the Conqueror, plans on making himself king, using an imposter to impersonate the Archbishop of Canterbury. Lorna arrives, revealed to be an Interpol agent tracking Sauvage. With evidence of Sauvage’s involvement, English crashes a party hosted by Sauvage but he is suspended from work by Pegasus.
With English knowing their plans, Sauvage scraps the fake Archbishop and instead sends his minions to force Queen Elizabeth II to abdicate by threatening her Corgies, causing the entire line of succession to be swept clean for Sauvage to become king. Lorna visits the depressed English, now in charge of the assignment by Pegasus, and convinces him to travel with her to Sauvage’s French chateau to spy on him. Eavesdropping on Sauvage’s meeting with renowned criminals, English and Lorna learn Sauvage plans to turn the United Kingdom into the world’s biggest prison when he becomes king. English and Lorna are exposed when the former accidentally activates a microphone, and they are taken prisoner. English tries to steal the DVD of Sauvage’s plan but picks up the wrong DVD. Bough rescues the two and they race to stop Sauvage’s coronation.
MV5BMTYxMDQ1ODcyNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNjIxNDUxMg@@._V1_English crashes the coronation and discovers the Archbishop is the genuine article. Undeterred, English orders Bough to play the DVD, only to find it is camera footage of himself dancing in his bathroom to “Does Your Mother Know” by ABBA, Sauvage having bugged English’s house beforehand, much to Pegasus’s disgust. English sneaks away but swings in on a wire to steal St. Edward’s Crown from Sauvage. Sauvage angrily shoots at English with a pistol, causing him to drop the crown. Moments before Sauvage is crowned king, English lands on the throne and is crowned instead. In his singular act as king, English has Sauvage arrested and restores the Queen to the throne, requesting a knighthood as a reward. In the final scene, English and Lorna drive to southern France for a romantic holiday, only for English to accidentally launch Lorna out the car by pressing the ejection seat button. Lorna lands in a hotel swimming pool, where Bough happens to be vacationing as well as the assailant that English described to Pegasus earlier in the film.
Johnny English is no where near as bad as what I expected. While it’s not the greatest nor the most intelligent film of recent times, it’s one that’s entertaining none the less. If your looking for something to sit down and watch, a film that will make you laugh without demanding much use of your Brain, then Johnny English is an ideal choice.
CAST
Rowan Atkinsion (Mr. Bean)
Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl)
Dominic West (Punisher: Warzone)
Eric Carte (Run For Your Wife)
Gillian Anderson (Hannibal)
Richard Schiff (The Cape)
Isla Blair (Valmont)
Eight years after the events of the first film, former Sir Johnny English (Rowan Atkinson) is learning martial arts in Tibet as penance for a botched mission in Mozambique which resulted in him being stripped of his Knighthood. However, he is contacted by MI7, who arrange for him to be flown back to London and call him back to service. Johnny returns to MI7’s London headquarters (now Toshiba British Intelligence) and assigned by new boss “Pegasus” (Gillian Anderson) to stop a plot to assassinate the Chinese Premier during scheduled talks with the Prime Minister. Johnny also meets with fellow agent Simon Ambrose (Dominic West) and MI7’s resident inventor, Patch Quartermain (Tim McInnerny). He is also assigned a junior agent, Colin Tucker (Daniel Kaluuya). In Hong Kong, English discovers an address that leads him to ex-CIA agent Titus Fisher (Richard Schiff). Fisher reveals that he is a member of ‘Vortex’, a group of three assassins and several accomplices, who sabotaged English’s mission in Mozambique. Vortex holds a secret weapon, which requires three metal keys to unlock when used together, and Fisher reveals that he is in possession of one. Fisher is then killed by an assassin (Pik-Sen Lim) disguised as a cleaner and the key falls into the hands of a Vortex member.
English chases the Vortex agent across Hong Kong and eventually retrieves the key from him. On a flight back to London, Johnny gives a suitcase containing the key to a flight attendant, who is revealed to be another Vortex agent. English is humiliated in front of the Foreign Secretary and Pegasus by the loss of the key, and assaults Pegasus’s mother, mistaking her for the killer cleaner.
Kate Sumner (Rosamund Pike), MI7’s behavioural psychologist, uses hypnosis on English to help him recall the events of his mission in Mozambique, and the identity of the second Vortex operative, Artem Karlenko (Mark Ivanir), a Russian spy. Johnny meets him at an exclusive golf course outside London. As they are playing golf, the same assassin from Hong Kong reappears and uses a sniper rifle disguised as a golf club to attack the party, claiming the life of Karlenko’s bodyguard and critically injuring Karlenko. Johnny takes Karlenko and escapes the golf course in a helicopter. They fly to the nearest hospital, and before dying, Karlenko reveals that the third assassin in Vortex is a member of MI7.
In a meeting at MI7 with Pegasus and the British Prime Minister, it is revealed that talks between Britain and China will continue in a heavily guarded fortress called ‘Le Bastion’ in the Swiss Alps. Over dinner, English informs Ambrose that he knows of a mole in MI7. Ambrose prepares to kill English, until it becomes clear that the traitor’s identity is unknown. Tucker confronts Ambrose in the bathroom, knowing he is the mole, but English scolds Tucker and orders him to leave. Ambrose convinces English that Quartermain is the traitor. English entrusts the key to Ambrose, who then tells Pegasus that English is the traitor. English confronts Quartermain, and realises that he has been framed. He is then shot at by MI7 snipers and agents posing as worshippers in a church, using suppressors on their guns to fool the priest. He is shot once in the left leg and fools Quartermain before escaping in a modified electric wheelchair after holding Quartermain at gunpoint. English goes to Kate’s flat, and convinces her that he is not the traitor.
Kate, scrutinising footage of the Mozambique mission, realises that the assassin behaved abnormally. They learn that Vortex owns a lethal drug called timoxeline barbebutenol that allows them to control a person for a brief time before they die of heart failure. Ambrose, the only surviving member of Vortex, plans to use the drug to kill the Premier in exchange for 500 million USD.
English visits Tucker and convinces him to help infiltrate ‘Le Bastion’. After passing through security at the fortress, English warns Pegasus (who now knows who the real traitor is) of the threat, and unknowingly drinks the spiked drink, rendering him vulnerable to Ambrose’s commands. Ambrose orders English to kill the Premier using a pistol disguised as a tube of lipstick. English tries to resist the effects of the drug, and engages in a fight with himself while Tucker attempts to interrupt communication between Ambrose and English. Tucker disrupts the frequency, replacing it with a song being played on a radio station, resulting in English beginning to dance. Ambrose reasserts his command, exposing himself in the process. English resists, shooting at Ambrose, who escapes. The effects of the drug wear off and English seemingly dies of heart failure. The paramedics try to save English with CPR but fail; he is eventually revived by Kate via a kiss on the lips, reviving him and making his heart rate boost. English pursues Ambrose, parachuting from the building and hijacking a snowmobile. English reaches Ambrose, who is in a cable car. The two fight, with English falling out of the car. Ambrose tries to shoot English, who shoots a rocket disguised as an umbrella at the cable-car, killing Ambrose. English then sits back and says happily – “Tucker, you clever boy!”
Because of his actions, English is due to have his knighthood reinstated by The Queen, but as the ceremony takes place, the apparent Queen reveals herself to be the killer cleaner dressed up as the Queen and attempts to kill English with the knighthood sword. English fends off the cleaner, to which she runs off. English attempts to catch and attack her, but when guards come in with the killer cleaner. English realizes that he has assaulted the real Queen and has been tricked once again. A post-credits scene, influenced by the barber scene in The Great Dictator, sees English preparing a meal for Kate to the tune of “In the Hall of the Mountain King”

If you enjoyed the first Johnny English film, you’ll enjoy this one too

REVIEW: THE MIGHTY CELT

CAST

Gillian Anderson (Hannibal)
Robert Carlyle (Stargate Universe)
Ken Stott (The Hobbit)
Tyrone McKenna (Middletown)
Richard Dormer (My Boy Jack)

Image result for the mighty celtSet in modern day Northern Ireland (2005) and revolves around a young
lad (Tyrone McKenna) who works under the watchful eye of Greyhound dog
owner (Ken Stott) in kennels and at racing tracks.

A reasonably straight forward real life drama with no-nonsense
attitude. It might possibly narrow it’s audience due to the strong
Irish accent, but this is one of the many important ingredients that
make, what could be a very average film – really good.
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Some inspired British style camera work together with a Dub-Celt
soundtrack really give this film it’s feel. And it all seems plausible,
but not predictable. What does work particularly well is how each
character and sub plot seem carefully balanced with their own
importance in the storyline, nothing is wasted or filling time.

Natural performances from all the small cast and a surprisingly good
combo of Carlyle & Anderson adds a close personal feel and keeps this
story easy to contain.

REVIEW: HANNIBAL – SEASON 1-3

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MAIN CAST

Hugh Dancy (King Arthur)
Mads Mikkelsen (Clash of The Titans)
Caroline Dhavernas (Wonderfalls)
Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix)
Hettienne Park (Puppy Love)
Gillian Anderson (The X-Files)
Scott Thompson (The Simpsons)
Aaron Abrams (Take The Waltz)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Raúl Esparza (Pushing Daisies)
Kacey Rohl (Caprica)
Lara Jean Chorostecki (Beauty and The Beast)
Michael Pitt (Boardwalk Empire)
Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps)
Richard Armitage (The Hobbit)
Eddie Izzard (Powers)
Gina Torres (Firefly)
Anna Chlumsky (Veep)
Cynthia Nixon (Igby Goes Down)
Fortunato Cerlino (Gomorrah)
Tao Okamoto (Batman V Superman)
Glenn Fleshler (All Good Things)
Nina Arianda (Tower Heist)
Rutina Wesley (True Blood)
Vladimir Jon Cubrt (Hollywoodland)
Richard Chevolleau (Earth: Final Conflict)
Chelan Simmons (Wonderfalls)
Cynthia Preston (Carrie 2013)
Molly Shannon (Scary Movie 4)
Ellen Greene (Heroes)
Dan Fogler (Fanboys)
Lance Henriksen (Aliens)
Ellen Muth (Dead Like Me)
Martin Donovan (Ant-Man)
Shawn Doyle (Big Love)
Barry Flatman (Odyssey 5)
Amanda Plummer (Pulp Fiction)
Jeremy Davies (Constantine)
Daniel Kash (Bitten)
Zachary Quinto (Star Trek)
Julian Richings (Cube)
Joe Anderson (The Crazies)
Mia Maestro (Alias)


There was a lot of wariness of Hannibal initially. While the original source material were Thomas Harris’ books, the movies loomed so huge in the public’s mind. And going the prequel route? Not only has that not turned out so well in Hollywood in general, it’s already given us a disappointing prequel in this very franchise with Hannibal Rising.

But lo and behold, not only was Hannibal good, it was great. There was always a major reason for optimism, amongst all the naysayers, and that was Bryan Fuller. An amazingly imaginative and distinct voice in TV, Fuller’s previous shows like Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies had proven he was someone whose work was always worth a look. And it became clear that he had a true passion for the story he was telling with Hannibal.

It’s now a very daunting task for any actor to play Hannibal Lecter, thanks to how beloved and memorable Anthony Hopkins was in the role. But Mads Mikkelsen proved to be an excellent Lecter, giving the character an ever-cool, ever observational demeanor that conveyed both his intelligence and his danger while not behaving in such an arch manner that he would come off as too obvious a villain to those he interacted with.

As the true protagonist of the series, Hugh Dancy is also perfect as Will Graham, who goes far beyond the usual “eccentric but skilled” archetype of crime series heroes to portray someone with some genuinely traumatic issues – which only escalated through the season. Dancy managed the difficult task of portraying Will’s amazing skill set and his innate “goodness” while also showing that this guy has severe problems that would make him genuinely seem like he could be someone to keep an eye out for. If Hannibal was going to convince the world at large and possibly even Will himself that he was a killer, we had to see how that could sell, and Dancy’s performance did that perfectly.

When Hannibal was first announced, it sounded like the show would be about Hannibal and Will consulting together on killer-of-the-week cases, with Hannibal managing to keep the truth about who he was from Will for several seasons. All of which is to say, it sounded like it could be tedious. But Fuller quickly proved he wasn’t playing into our assumptions at all. Yes, Will’s job had him working several different cases this season, but it was hardly a bunch of one-off, unimportant stories. In fact, several of these cases would have repercussions in later episodes, or even the killers themselves (such as Gideon and Georgia) returning. The events in Hannibal were never self-contained. Will killing Hobbs in the premiere was a huge event that would haunt and shape Will through the entire season. The totem pole on the beach may have had no connection to the main story, but it would continue to resonate with Will as he began to hallucinate. The entire season felt like a well-constructed story where the majority of the cases Will worked contributed to the tapestry being completed.

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While Will and Hannibal’s relationship is the one at the core of this series, Jack Crawford – an integral character in Harris’ books – was hardly shortchanged. Laurence Fishburne, looking far more engaged than during his short time on CSI, was great as Crawford who had his own interplay with Hannibal occurring all season, while dealing with some huge issues at home. The story of Jack’s ill-fated attempt to use FBI trainee Miriam Lass (Anna Chlumsky) to help find the Chesapeake Ripper also was used to truly shape who Jack was and what was motivating him, rather than a bit of backstory thrown in and then barely touched upon.

Overall though, the supporting characters were strong. Caroline Dhavernas had a tricky role she pulled off well as a protégé to Hannibal and a colleague of Will’s whose close ties to both men made it all the more difficult to suspect either was up to no good. Tabloid reporter Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki) was equal parts vexing and amusing as she weaved in and out of the story – eventually seeing some truly depraved events occur while in the company of Dr. Gideon (Eddie Izzard). Despite only appearing a couple of times, Gina Torres brought a lot of power to Bella Crawford’s plight and rift with her husband. And it was a delight to see Gillian Anderson as Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier, Hannibal’s own psychiatrist, as we tried to figure out exactly what she and Hannibal knew about one another.

Best of all was Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl), the daughter of serial killer Garett Jacob Hobbs. On a lesser procedural crime series Abigail would have been a one and done character; the damsel in distress Will saved. But here, the psychological damage her father had put her through long before his death, not to mention the horrific day he died (and killed her mother) cast a big shadow on the entire season. Abigail’s own secrets and her growing bond with both Hannibal and Will made for a compelling through line, as so many possibilities lay before her with two surrogate fathers who could help shape her into someone who stops murders or causes them.

Regardless though, Hannibal has plenty to fuel its stories going forward. As I noted above, Fuller didn’t play into audience expectations at all – who would have guessed that Will would have figured out the truth about Hannibal by the end of the first season? But by having it occur in the manner it did, with Will disgraced, imprisoned and looking guilty of multiple murders, while Hannibal walks free, the entire dynamic has been upended in a very exciting way.

We went into this year with a huge change-up, as Will Graham was locked up, accused of the crimes he now realized Hannibal Lecter had committed. Bryan Fuller took this subversion of the usual Thomas Harris dynamic and used it to its fullest extent, as the early episodes involved Will as the genius, (perceived) killer who was still a valuable resource to the FBI.

At the same time, Fuller realized this was a storyline that shouldn’t go too far, and wisely constructed Season 2 in two distinct segments, wrapping up the “Will as prisoner” section in the first six episodes. These episodes found Will at odds with Jack and Alana while forging a closer, ill-fated bond with Beverly. There was also some excellent material for Dr. Chilton, whose own narcissism and instinct for self-preservation mixed with his intelligence and growing awareness of just what a threat Hannibal was.

It all culminated in the absolutely fantastic “Yakimono”, which was basically the first of two amazing finales Hannibal would deliver within one season. The excitement of Miriam (Anna Chlumsky) turning up alive turned out to simply be the next step in Hannibal’s twisted traps, as Miriam was a ticking time bomb of sorts – set to go off at just the right time, aimed at a perfectly-placed target in Chilton.

Yes, Hannibal’s rise to supervillain status was cemented in Season 2, and it was glorious and terrifying to behold. Hannibal had always operated on a level that was a bit bigger than life and that got pushed even further this year, as we learned just how intricate, complex and masterful Lecter’s plans were and saw how amazing his abilities were, as he manipulated people in ways both subtle and extreme. In the wrong hands, it could have all fallen apart, but the wonderful writing and directing, combined with Mads Mikkelsen’s confidant performance – always exuding intelligence – made it work.

Meanwhile, we got to see Will Graham in a much better place, at least as far as his own comprehension of what was occurring and willingness to make huge moves of his own. After seeing Will mentally spiraling throughout Season 1, it was very gratifying to see him now so much more in control and, even as Will was put through one terrible situation after another. Hugh Dancy again brought the right mixture of vulnerability and inner strength to Will, and he and Mikkelsen played beautifully off one another.

Opening the season with the flash forward to Jack and Hannibal’s brutal, nasty fight, with a potentially fatal turn of events for Jack, was an audacious and spectacular move. It put a ticking time clock on the entire season and let us knows, even in the quietest moments, that something very bad was going to occur soon.Image result for hannibal mizumonoIn the meantime, we met siblings Margot and Mason Verger, who had their own mini-arc over several episodes. At first, I wasn’t sure if Michael Pitt’s rather big, mannered performance fit in on a show that mixes grisly and shocking imagery with quiet, subtle acting. But I was soon won over, as we got to know Mason more and saw just what a monster he was – and how his “Look at me!”, repellant behavior purposely stood in contrast to Hannibal’s mask of kindness and gentleness towards those around him. Hannibal’s instant dislike of Mason was one of several times Fuller was able to inject humor into the macabre situations this season.

One of the only problematic aspects of the season as it progressed was Alana and her seemingly unwavering belief in Hannibal’s innocence and Will’s guilt. In the early episodes, it was actually very interesting to see her sympathetic portrayal as someone who was horrified to think her friend was a killer, but wanted to help him, sure he’d been pushed into his actions by Jack not heeding the consequences in Season 1. But the more the likes of Beverly and Jack began to believe Will and start suspecting Hannibal, the more frustrating it became that Alana just didn’t see it. Thankfully, Alana began to come around on her own, not due to a shocking moment in the season finale, and was firmly on Will’s side again by the time all hell broke loose at Casa Lecter in the finale…

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…And what a finale it was. As exciting as the Jack/Hannibal flash-forward was, there was some concern that it might deflate the actual finale a bit. After all, we’d clearly seen the biggest thing that would happen in the final moments of the season, right? What else could be bigger than that? The answer was dark as hell but also incredibly exciting, as it turned out Jack would only be the first character to have a possibly fatal encounter with Hannibal inside his home. Within just a few minutes, Jack, Alana and Will all lay bleeding and dying, while Hannibal Lecter walked free. Oh, and Abigail was revealed to be alive… and then had her throat sliced by Hannibal! And Bedelia (Gillian Anderson) was revealed as being Hannibal’s companion (and accomplice) at the very end!

Season 3 of Hannibal began on the heels of an incredibly audacious, jaw-dropping Season 2 finale, that left nearly every major character except Hannibal himself possibly dead, as the bad doctor fled the country accompanied by Bedelia. You couldn’t have a bigger “What’s going to happen next?!” scenario, which no doubt led to frustrations when the season began and answers were not exactly being quickly delivered. More so, while Hannibal has always been an unusual, often esoteric, dream-like series, all of those aspects were dialed up to the Nth degree in the first three episodes of the season.

It was still highly evocative, compelling stuff, delving into the frame of mind of characters like Hannibal, Bedelia and Will Graham and their new lives in Italy, more order includes – while slowly revealing who’d survived that night in the house. I have to say, the answer to that question being “Everyone except Abigail” did diminish what had happened to a certain extent, but still, these episodes were showing there was plenty of consequence and fallout from that oh-so bloody night in Hannibal’s house, beyond the injuries sustained.

The pace picked up considerably around episode four and then went into overdrive, as Jack had an amazing rematch with Hannibal and Mason Verger’s plan to get revenge kicked into gear. A high bar was set by Michael Pitt as Mason in Season 2, but Joe Anderson adeptly stepped into his shoes (and mutilated face) in Season 3, bringing his own take on Mason’s witty, macabre insanity.Image result for hannibal primaveraThe standout “Digestivo”, which wrapped up the Mason Verger story once and for all in a thrilling, intense hour of television. A lot happened here, to the point that this felt like a season finale – which was not coincidental, given the show was about to leap ahead three years and into an entirely different story.

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Given this ended up being the final season of Hannibal I am incredibly grateful Bryan Fuller decided to move up his plan to make Red Dragon the Season 4 storyline and put it into the second half of Season 3 instead. Not only did it mean we did get the show’s version of the original Hannibal novel depicted, but it also essentially meant we got two seasons in one this year. And wow, was this version of Red Dragon awesome. Yes, it streamlined some aspects – we didn’t get any of the Dolarhyde flashbacks (one tiny glimpse aside) and Will’s role was altered, to some extent. But this was creepy, intense storytelling through and through, with Richard Armitage bringing just the right mix of scary and semi-sympathetic as Francis Dolarhyde, a murderous, delusional monster who was at war with the potentially loving man somewhere deep inside him – a war amplified as Dolarhyde fell for the blind Reba (a strong Rutina Wesley), even as “the Dragon” was coming to life within him, compelling him to kill.

This storyline also allowed Fuller to bring characters like Jimmy, Brian, Freddie and Chilton back into the story, all of whom got nice moments – well “nice” may not be the right word for Chilton, but he sure got some riveting moments, as he came face to face (and mouth to mouth) with the Dragon in a horrific manner.

Of course, the center of this show has always truly been the relationship between Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham and has given them a far more intricate, layered and complicated dynamic than they typically had in the Red Dragon novel (or other films), where Will met Hannibal a couple times, figured out he was the killer and was nearly killed while catching him. That meant this version of Red Dragon couldn’t help but feel different than others – even early on, when the story beats were pretty much sticking to the source material, what was driving Will forward felt notably altered thanks to all he’d gone through in this series beforehand. So yes, Will’s actual deductive skills are not used as much here as in the novel when it comes to tracking down Dolarhyde, and his relationship with Molly is essentially a hollow one he can’t really go back to – not because of anything wrong with her, but because of what he’s gone through. Yet the story still resonated so much because we were seeing how Will was affected by once more interacting with Hannibal and the simultaneous urge to join forces with him and determination to put an end to Lecter, once and for all.

In the midst of this, the rather obvious fact that Hannibal’s obsession with Will was a form of falling in love with Will was finally articulated – as was the idea that a part of Will returned those feelings, even while he knew Hannibal was a monster himself. This back and forth had long been fascinating and it felt appropriate to finally be upfront about it here. What was also great was that this Hannibal was a fully dimensionalized, multi-faceted character in a way no other version had been before – we saw so many sides of him, including the caring side that manifested with Will or even Abigail… even as he murdered Abigail and tried to kill Will!

We understood Hannibal better than ever, yet Fuller commendably never tried to redeem him. He was never going to change who he was. And that’s a big reason the ending was so satisfying, as Will pulled them off that cliff together. It was, on one hand, a culmination of the strange love story between the two – as the “murder husbands” were united, having killed Dolarhyde together. But Will also knew this was it. If he let Hannibal go, or live at all, he would kill again – he’d promised as much while threatening Alana. And Will might eventually cross even more lines in terms of the crimes he was willing to commit himself. So it had to end… which it did, in an emotionally stirring, “yes, this feels exactly right” manner that was, as always, perfectly played by Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen.

REVIEW: HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS & ALIENATE PEOPLE

CAST (VOICES)

Simon Pegg (Hot Fuzz)
Kirsten Dunst (All Good Things)
Megan Fox (Transformes)
Danny Huston (30 Days of Night)
Gillian Anderson (Hannibal)
Jeff Bridges (Iron Man)
Brian Austin Green (Terminator: TSCC)
Chris O’Dowd (St. Vincent)
Thandie Newton (Mission Impossible 2)
James Corden (Into The Woods)

How to Lose Friends & Alienate People is a toothless satire raised from plain-jane mediocrity to legitimately pleasant all-rightness entirely by the performances of Simon Pegg and Kirsten Dunst. Director Robert Weide’s adaptation of the famous book is a hit-and-miss half-assery of star-skewering and romantic comedy fluff that fails to dig deep enough to draw blood despite ample opportunity, and yet its watchable.Pegg plays Sidney Young (an interpretation of the book’s real-life author Toby Young), the creator of the supposedly scathing British tabloid the Post-Modern Review. One of his former idols is Clayton Harding (Jeff Bridges, sporting an incredible wig), who has gone on to be the editor-in-chief of Sharps Magazine in New York City, where Sidney feels he’s lost his bite. After Sidney ruins one of Clayton’s fancy parties by crashing it with a pig in tow, Clayton gives Sidney a call and offers him a job at Sharps. Seeing an opportunity to bring some cutting criticism back into Clayton’s work, Sidney accepts, flying to the States to start cracking heads. Instead, however, he finds himself under the watchful eye of co-worker Alison Olson (Dunst), whose current assignment seems to be keeping Sidney in check.The main problem is the film’s fear of being truly caustic, despite it literally being Sidney’s goal to do so. It’s clear that Weide and screenwriter Peter Straughan worry that giving Sidney the teeth to tear into someone could also make him an unlikable jackass, but if there’s anyone in the world who could have balanced the anarchic with the amicable it’s Simon Pegg. Instead, Sidney bluntly nags an actor about their sexual orientation, and the joke falls flat because not only is the line of questioning more unwise than outrageous, we’ve got no bearing on the “actor” in question. A real-life recognizable face might have packed a stronger punch. Similarly, while Max Minghella’s pretentious, ego-trip director has considerably more screen time, the film never aims below-the-belt. The character is merely dazed and distant, when it’s a perfect chance to stick it to both abstract artistes and David-O.-Russell-style directorial explosions.The remaining plot tracks the love-hate Alison and Sidney’s love hate-relationship, which reeks of a Hollywood book-to-film adaptation. Could these two actually have something in common? Boy, I wonder! And yet there’s Pegg and Dunst, generating crackling romantic and comedic chemistry, both exceptionally charismatic and appealing from the first frame to the last.Props for Pegg are expected, as he continues to elevate everything he’s in, but I want to shine a light on Dunst’s performance, Her career of late is faltering more than she deserves, and while Alison’s character arc is no great shakes, she still imbues it with more life and charm than many actresses could muster. This includes the exceptionally boring Megan Fox as the exceptionally boring Sophie Maes, a movie star who is probably not interested in Sidney, no matter how much he prays. Her fake Mother Teresa biopic is chuckle-worthy, but it’s got nothing on Downey Jr.’s Satan’s Alley from Tropic Thunder.How to Lose Friends & Alienate People is the kind of movie you’d enjoy on television and forget by the end of the week.