REVIEW: MONSTER HOUSE

CAST

Michael Musso (Squirrel Boy)
Sam Lerner (Project Almanac)
Spencer Locke (Resident Evil 3 & 4)
Steve Buscemi (Fargo)
Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight)
Catherine O’Hara (Beetlejuice)
Jason Lee (My Name Is Earl)
Jon Heder (Blades of Glory)
Kevin James (Paul Blart)
Nick Cannon (School Dance)
Kathleen Turner(Serial Mom)
Fred Willard (Anchorman)

Image result for monster house12 year old “DJ” Walters spies on his elderly neighbor Horace Nebbercracker, who confiscates any item landing in his yard. DJ’s parents leave town for a dentist convention, leaving him in the care of Elizabeth “Zee”. DJ’s best friend Charles “Chowder” accidentally loses his basketball on Nebbercracker’s lawn. DJ tries to recover it, but Nebbercraker rages at him, before suffering from a heart attack, and taken away by an ambulance. That night, DJ receives mysterious phone calls from the house with no one on the other end. Eavesdropping on Zee’s boyfriend Bones, DJ hears him tell Zee about losing his kite on Nebbercracker’s lawn when he was younger, and that Nebbercracker supposedly ate his wife. Later, Bones sees his kite in the doorway of Mr. Nebbercracker’s house, but he is consumed by the house while retrieving it.Image result for monster houseThe next morning, a girl named Jenny Bennett is selling Halloween chocolates. DJ and Chowder see her going to Nebbercracker’s house and rush out to catch her before she is eaten. Jenny calls the police but they do not believe their story.Image result for monster houseThe trio seek advice from Reginald “Skull” Skulinski, supposedly an expert on the supernatural. They learn that the house is a rare monster created when a human soul merges with a man-made structure and that it can only be killed by destroying its heart. They predict that the heart must be the furnace. Chowder provides a cold medicine-filled dummy that should cause the house to sleep long enough for them to douse the furnace. Police Officers Landers and Lester thwart their plan and they are arrested when Landers finds the cold medicine stolen from Chowder’s father’s pharmacy inside the dummy. When the officers go to examine the house, it eats them, including the trio placed in the car.Image result for monster houseWhen the house falls asleep, the kids begin exploring. In the basement they find a collection of toys accumulated from Nebbercracker’s lawn, as well as a door that opens to a shrine containing the body of Nebbercracker’s wife Constance the Giantess, encased in cement, which fully convinces them that Nebbercracker had murdered his wife. The house realizes they are inside and attacks them. DJ, Chowder and Jenny force the house to vomit them outside by grabbing its uvula. Nebbercracker arrives home alive, revealing that Constance’s spirit is within the house and that he did not eat her but instead had given her some of the happiest times in her life. As a young man, he met Constance, at a circus freak show, and fell in love with her despite her obesity. After he helped her escape, they began building the house. One Halloween, as children tormented her due to her size, Constance tried chasing them away, but lost her balance and fell to her death in the basement. Nebbercracker had finished the house, knowing it was what she would have wanted but, aware that Constance’s spirit made the house come alive, he pretended to hate children so as to keep them away.Image result for monster houseDJ tells Nebbercracker it is time to let Constance go, but the house overhears this. Enraged, it breaks free from its foundation and chases the group to a construction site. Nebbercracker attempts to distract the house so he can dynamite it, but the house notices and attacks him. Chowder destroys it with an excavator and DJ is given the dynamite. However, the house reassembles itself and disables the excavator. While Chowder distracts the house, DJ and Jenny climb to the top of a crane and DJ throws the dynamite into the chimney, actually destroying it. The trio then see Nebbercracker with Constance’s ghost before she fades away. DJ apologizes to Nebbercracker for the loss of his house and wife, but Nebbercracker thanks the kids for freeing him from being trapped for 45 years. That night, children in their Halloween costumes are lined up at the site of the house, where DJ, Chowder and Jenny help return the toys to their owners. Jenny leaves, and DJ and Chowder go trick-or-treating in the neighbourhood, which they previously felt they were too old for. Those who were eaten by the house now emerge from the basement.Image result for monster houseThe animation looks great. They certainly aren’t ground breaking. But they fit the movie well. However, I will say that some scenes looked quite amazing. If you are looking for a fun, clean movie with plenty of laughs and chuckles, this is definitely one you don’t want to miss!

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REVIEW: SCHOOL FOR SCOUNDRELS (2006)

CAST

Billy Bob Thornton (Bad Santa)
Jon Heder (Blades of Glory)
Jacinda Barrett (Poseidon)
Michael Clarke Duncan (The Finder)
Sarah Silverman (School of Rock)
David Cross (Small Soldiers)
Ben Stiller (Along Came Polly)
Luis Guzman (Waiting)
Dan Folger (Hannibal)
Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)

Roger (Jon Heder) is a downtrodden meter reader, subject to ridicule from co-workers and regular denizens, who dreams of dating the foreign graduate student who lives in his building, Amanda (Jacinda Barrett). To overcome his lack of self-esteem, he signs up for a course taught by Dr. P (Billy Bob Thornton) where Roger and his classmates are constantly bullied by Dr. P and his assistant Lesher (Michael Clarke Duncan), who likes to use outrageous and unethical methods on them, including humiliation. Some tasks they are required to do are quite cruel and primitive – like the task to start a conflict or even a fight with somebody they meet just to prove they are fearless. However, nobody intends to quit the course because Dr. P says he won’t give a refund of $5,000 to anyone who quits or disobeys the orders given to them. The classmates even warn Roger that Dr. P will destroy him if his progress is too fast, just like he has done to one of his former students.
While participating, Roger begins to develop a sense of personal pride and finally asks Amanda for a date where he uses tricks he learned during the course. Wanting to prove that he’s still got his edge, Dr. P starts competing with Roger for Amanda. He approaches her with a false story that he is a successful and child-loving surgeon whose wife has died, and Amanda, who is a voluntary caretaker for animals, is immediately attracted and starts dating him. When Roger begins to see what’s happening, he decides to take action to get Amanda back, although his actions are futile. After a competitive tennis match in which Roger humiliates him, Dr. P enlists the talents of Roger’s classmates to break into Amanda’s apartment and paint graffiti on the walls so he could frame Roger as a stalker. Roger uses his authority as a meter reader to impound Dr. P’s car, and in retaliation Dr. P gets Roger fired from his job.
Roger learns of Dr. P’s plans for Amanda from a depressed former student, Lonnie (Ben Stiller), who was also humiliated by Dr. P when he led his girlfriend away. He shows Roger a fascicle full of evidence that Dr. P is a fraud, who uses multiple identities and false stories to attract or distract his victims. After learning that Dr. P invited Amanda to Miami, Roger is determined to stop him once for all. He heads for the airport where Dr. P tells him he is a winner and grants him two tickets – one for him and one for Amanda. However, Roger at first doesn’t know that Dr. P has sent him to the wrong gate. After realizing he was again tricked by Dr. P, Roger heads to the right gate and boards the plane to Miami in the last moment. With the aid of Lonnie and classmates, he finally exposes Dr. P’s duplicity, it’s revealed that Dr. P isn’t a doctor or surgeon (he wanted to use a defibrillator on Roger who just fainted, but was truly faking) and that his wife is still alive. Amanda finally realizes she was wrong and returns to Roger. When meeting Roger after some time, Dr. P grants him a diploma for passing his course – the first diploma ever issued by him. He also invites Roger to attend one of his future courses as a guest, but Roger refuses. The film closes with a summary of what happened to most characters after the film’s events.I was taken by surprise by this bargain bin also-ran of a movie. it’s terrific! great cast, sharp writing and so re-watchable. it’s like tea & hot, buttered crumpets on a rainy afternoon. billy-bob thornton gives his best performance since ‘sling blade’ here. no kidding. funny, clever and oddly touching.

 

REVIEW: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (2012) – SEASON 3

Untitled

MAIN CAST (VOICES)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Sean Astin (Cabin Fever 3)
Greg Cipes (Teen Titans)
Rob Paulsen (Lego Batman)
Mae Whitman (Independence Day)
Hoon Lee (Banshee)
Nolan North (Pretty Little Liars)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Josh Peck (Red Dawn)
Kelly Hu (The Vampire Diaries)
NOTABLE / RECURRING GUESTS
Scott Menville (Teen Titans)
Diedrich Bader (Batman: The Brave and The Bold)
Jesse Ventura (Predator)
Renae Jacobs (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 80s)
Jon Heder (Blades of Glory)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Robert Englund (Nightmare on Elm Street)
John Kassir (Tales From The Crypt)
Bill Moseley (The Devil’s Rejects)
Steve Blum (Wolverine and The X-Men)
Eric Bauza (Ultimate Spider-Man)
Clancy Brown (Hiughlander)
Christian Lanz (Batman: Assault on Arkham)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
J.B. Smoove (Date Night)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Gilbert Gottfried (Superman: TAS)
Robert Forster (Jackie B rown)
Peter Lurie (The Crow)
Kari Wahlgren (Bolt)
Corey Feldman (Puppet Master vs Demonic Toys)
Tom Kenny (Spongebob)
Robbie Rist (The Brady Bunch)
Ashley Johnson (Dollhouse)
Graham McTavish (The Hobbit)
Minae Noji (Bitch Slap)
Sab Shimono (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3)
Lance Henriksen (Hellraiser 6)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
The group takes refuge at the O’Neil family’s summer home in Northampton, Massachusetts in order to recuperate from their loss at the hands of the Kraang and the Foot Clan. Leonardo takes an extended amount of time to recover, but guided by an apparition of Splinter, is able to overcome his physical and mental wounds. They eventually return to New York with the goal of finding Splinter, Karai, Kirby, and their other missing allies and liberate the city from the Kraang. They are successful in finding Splinter and set up a temporary base in the abandoned Antonio’s Pizza, and Donatello begins work on new samples of retro-mutagen as the search for Kirby and Karai continues.
Meanwhile, Shredder mutates Russian arms dealer Ivan Steranko and his only known disciple, high-tech master thief Anton Zeck, into Bebop and Rocksteady for stealing his helmet, the Kuro Kabuto, and hunting Karai in exchange for a safe departure from the Kraang-invaded city before sending them to find her again. The duo succeed behind the turtles’s backs and Shredder promises to cure her of her misery. The turtles, on the other hand, run into the a recently founded mutant team called the Mighty Mutanimals (consisting of mutant allies that they made during the last two seasons, such as Slash, Leatherhead, Pigeon Pete and former British neurochemist Dr. Tyler Rockwell) who are backed by their human ally Jack J. Kurtzman. Together, they manage to banish the Kraang back to Dimension X and free New York, but the effect of the invasion eventually earns Shredder cemented control of the city’s criminal underworld for his efforts to create a mind-control serum meant for the turtles, Mutanimals and Karai.
The turtles are later offered by future time sorceress Renet to time travel to the past, where they meet up with a younger Hamato Yoshi and Oroku Saki, as well as Yoshi’s late wife and Karai’s mother, Teng Shen. During the battle between Yoshi and Saki inside the burning Hamato Clan dojo, Shen is accidentally killed by Saki, who meant to kill Yoshi instead. Saki leaves the dojo after his hair burns off from the fire and kidnaps Yoshi and Shen’s baby daughter Miwa, vowing to raise her as Karai and leaving Yoshi to die. After his escape, the turtles save Yoshi, as they were “always destined to” before traveling back to the present with Renet.
When the Kraang return to Earth, the Turtles discover that the Kraang have another enemy from Dimension X in the form of the Triceraton Empire. Despite their best efforts and Shredder violating the Foot Clan’s temporary truce with the Turtles by stabbing Splinter during the fight, the ruthless Triceratons activate the Heart of Darkness, a black hole-creating machine which annihilates both the Kraang, the Earth, and everyone on it. But just as it comes to the worst for the Turtles, April, and Casey, they are rescued by a friendly robot by the name of Professor Honeycutt (aka the Fugitoid) who uses a spacecraft to take the Turtles, April and Casey to a journey into space
All I can say is wow, I’ve enjoyed every release in the nick turtles series, it keeps getting better and better

REVIEW: HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER – SEASON 1-9

MAIN CAST
Josh Radnor (Not Another Teen Movie)
Jason Segel (The Muppets)
Cobie Smulders (The Avengers)
Neil Patrick Harris (Dr. Horrible’s-Sing Along Blog)
Alyson Hannigan (American Pie)
Bob Saget (Full House)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS
Lyndsy Fonseca (Agent Carter)
David Henrie (Paul BLart: Mall Cop 2)
Marshall Manesh (True Lies)
Joe Nieves (The Bling Ring)
Anne Dudek (Bones)
Charlene Amoia (The Finder)
Samm Levine (Inglourious Basterds)
Jayma Mays (Ugly Betty)
Camryn Manheim (Scary Movie 3)
Martin Starr (Knocked Up)
Bill Fagerbakke (The Artist)
Suzie Plakson (Red Eye)
Danica McKellar (The Wonder Years)
J.P. Manoux (Scary Movie 5)
Ashley Williams (Warehouse 13)
Virginia Williams (Fairly Legal)
Kelly Stables (Two and a Half Men)
Bryan Callen (The Hangover)
Taran Killam (The Heat)
Diane Salinger (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Alexis Denisof (Dollhouse)
George Cheung (Dark Angel)
Eric Allan Kramer (The Incredible Hulk Returns)
America Olivo (Bitch Slap)
Nate Torrance (Get Smart)
Amy Acker (Angel)
Premiering in Sept. 2005, created by Carter Bays and Craig Thomas and billed as “a love story in reverse,” How I Met Your Mother turns the “Friends” formula on its head by having one of its main characters, Ted Mosby (voiced by Bob Saget), some 30 years after the modern day events of the show, relaying the twists and turns of said events to his two, often disinterested children (David Henrie and Lyndsy Fonseca). It’s a nifty approach to what would otherwise be well-worn material, although the chemistry of the ensemble cast goes a long way towards smoothing over any feelings of seen-it-before-ness. Joining the modern day Ted Mosby (winningly portrayed by Josh Radnor) are his quartet of New York City-dwelling companions: the goofy couple Lily Aldrin (Alyson Hannigan) and Marshall Eriksen (Jason Segel), former flame Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders) and the scene-stealing maniac Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris).
How I Met Your Mother wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining as it is without its cast — it’s unquestionably the show’s biggest strength, although some interesting creative choices by Bays and Thomas run a close second; the pilot episode ends with a mildly shocking twist: The woman that Ted has been avidly pursuing for the past 22 minutes is not, in fact, the mother of his children. It throws you off-balance and guarantees that you’ll tune in for ensuing episodes to see exactly how Ted ends up telling stories to two youngsters 30 years hence. It’s a pretty nifty narrative trick and one which ensured the show had longevity
MAIN CAST
Josh Radnor (Not Another Teen Movie)
Jason Segel (The Muppets)
Cobie Smulders (The Avengers)
Neil Patrick Harris (Dr. Horrible’s-Sing Along Blog)
Alyson Hannigan (American Pie)
Bob Saget (Full House)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS
Lyndsy Fonseca (Agent Carter)
David Henrie (Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2)
Charlene Amoia (The Finder)
Joe Manganiello (Spider-man)
Joe Nieves (The BLing Ring)
Dawn Olivieri (The Vampire Diaries)
Valerie Azlynn (Julia X)
Bryan Cranston (Godzilla)
Jane Seymour (Wedding Crashers)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Patricia Belcher (Bones)
Kate Micucci (The Big Bang Theory)
Wayne Brady (Everybody Hates Chris)
Cristine Rose (Heroes)
Harry Groener (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Michael Gross (Tremors)
Wayne Knight (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Lucy Hale (Bionic Woman)
Ryan Pinkston (Bad Santa)
John Ducey (Sabrina: The Teenage Witch)
Meredith Scott Lynn (Roswell)
Rachelle Lefevre (Twilight)
Jessica Barth (Ted)
K Callan (Lois & Clark)
Meagen Fay (Agent Carter)
Candice King (The Vampire Diaries)
Scoot McNairy (Monsters)
The second season of How I Met Your Mother continues with a similar tone to the first season. The show follows a couple dramatic storylines that affect the lives of the cast, all the while doing and saying goofy things. Notably, Neil Patrick Harris repeatedly steals the spotlight as the overzealous, egotistical, and downright fun character Barney Stinson.
In the close of the show’s first season, Marshall’s life was turned upside down. Lily was accepted into an art internship. The catch is that it meant spending the summer in San Francisco. Marshall gave Lily an ultimatum, the internship or their relationship. She picked San Francisco. As season two begins, Marshall is approaching relationship rock bottom. Having lost the woman of his dreams, he quickly spirals down a destructive path. While Ted would normally be there for him, he has his own issues to deal with. At the end of season one, Ted realized his feelings for Robin and pursed her (again). In season two, they test out relationship-waters.
As the second season continues, Marshall pines over Lily and the Ted-Robin relationship blooms. The contrast between Marshall and Ted makes for a hearty chuckle, as they are as night and day. Life for Marshall is not all bad. One day he wakes up and understands it is time to move on. He becomes himself again (as much as he can without Lily) and even tries to meet women. These outings are fantastic, with Barney continually stealing the show (and the women!). Then boom! Lily returns from San Francisco and tries to adjust to life without Marshall, which includes getting a dumpy apartment and moving in with Barney. Marshall and Lily eventually get back on track and conclude the season with a wedding.
In the early half of the season, Ted and Robin’s relationship is roses and daffodils. They are getting along great… in fact too great. They start to get pretty serious, which includes saying I love you to each other, although Robin has some difficulty expressing it. The two decide to move in together, which Barney wholeheartedly disapproves of. “Moving Day” is a really silly story; Barney goes out of his way to stop Ted from moving into Robin’s place.
In addition to the second season’s relationship story arcs, there are some plain old fun episodes. “Brunch” is a great story. Ted reveals the details leading up to when he learned about his parent’s divorce. It is a hilarious sequence of events, with the entire cast shining. “Aldrin Justice” is silly episode where Barney tries to tame a wild beast. He uses sex to persuade Marshall’s tough law professor (Jane Seymour) into grading easier. “Single Stamina” is a simply ridiculous. Barney’s gay, black brother James (Wayne Brady) comes to visit. The fun part about this episode is Brady’s performance, as he does a fine job mimicking Barney’s outrageous personality, except he targets men.
The season’s remaining episodes offer a fun compilation of fun storylines . It is hilarious and entertaining material. In the end, How I Met Your Mother’s second season is a solid collection of episodes.
MAIN CAST
Josh Radnor (Not Another Teen Movie)
Jason Segel (The Muppets)
Cobie Smulders (The Avengers)
Neil Patrick Harris (Dr. Horrible’s-Sing Along Blog)
Alyson Hannigan (American Pie)
Bob Saget (Full House)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS
Lyndsy Fonseca (Agent Carter)
David Henrie (Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2)
Charlene Amoia (The Finder)
Mandy Moore (Saved)
Enrique Iglesias (Desperado)
Busy Philipps (The Smokers)
Danica McKellar (The WOnder Years)
Christine Woods (FLashforward)
Neil Jackson (Alexander)
Brad Rowe (Shelter)
Abigail Spencer (Cowboys & Aliens)
Betsy Rue (Halloween II)
John Cho (Sleepy Hollow)
Maggie Wheeler (The Parent Trap)
April Bowlby (Two and a Half men)
Lindsay Price (Eastwick)
Stephanie Faracy (Sideways)
Kristen Schaal (The Boss)
Sarah Chalke (Scrubs)
Britney Spears (Crossroads)
Marshall Manesh (True Lies)
April Bowlby (Mom)
Dawn Olivieri (The Vampire Diaries)
Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad)
Bryan Callen (The Hangover)
Taran Killam (The Heat)
James Van Der Beek (Dawsons Creek)
Ian Abercrombie (Birds of Prey)
Will Forte (The Lego Movie)
John Getz (The Fly)
Darcy Rose Byrnes (My Name Is Earl)
After a successful first two seasons, How I Met Your Mother dives into new (and old) territory by continuing the story of five New York friends. Season three has a similar tone to past seasons with a great mixture of comedy and drama. The main characters continue to go through the ups and downs of life. Notably, there are stories about the aftermath of the Ted-Robin breakup, Marshall and Lily experience life as newlyweds, Marshall passes the bar and goes to work, Barney learns something about his past and sleeps with a lot of women, and more. It is a very fun season with Neil Patrick Harris continuing to steal the spotlight.

The season opens with “Wait For It…”, which addresses a couple storylines. Towards the end of season two, there were a couple shifts in the romances. Ted and Robin called it splitsville, but remained friends. Robin went on vacation to South America. In season three, Robin comes back with boyfriend Gael (Enrique Iglesias). The introduction of Gael causes complications for Ted, Robin, and the rest of the gang. As the season continues, Ted slowly gets his life back together and the idea of Robin not being an important part of his life. The other key development from the season premiere dealt with Marshall and Lily. They got married at the end of season two and are now a happy couple that still shares an apartment with Ted. As the season progresses, they consider new living situations, which include a crooked house. Included in this development, Marshall passes the New York bar and gets a job as a real life lawyer. His dream job is complicated by the decision of saving the environment or providing for his family. Lily has a surprise in store for him that makes the decision easy. John Cho guest stars as one of Marshall’s boss.

 

The season has many other big developments. Barney gets a case of “The Yips”, where he loses his confidence with women. Barney learns that his first time with cougar Rhonda was not as good as he was led to believe. Afterwards, he doubts his ability to please women. Ted joins him on a few escapades, which include acting as tourists, a wild St. Patrick’s Day, and more. Ted also embarks on a relationship with Stella (Sarah Chalke), which gets pretty serious. Robin dates an old flame played by an overweight James Van Der Beek.

Overall, season three is exciting, hilarious, and just all around fun. There are a lot of dramatic developments that are supplemented with lots of great laughs. Fans of the show will not be disappointed.

MAIN CAST
Josh Radnor (Not Another Teen Movie)
Jason Segel (The Muppets)
Cobie Smulders (The Avengers)
Neil Patrick Harris (Dr. Horrible’s-Sing Along Blog)
Alyson Hannigan (American Pie)
Bob Saget (Full House)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS
Lyndsy Fonseca (Agent Carter)
David Henrie (Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2)
Charlene Amoia (The Finder)
Sarah Chalke (Scrubs)
Darcy Rose Byrnes (Desperate Housewives)
Virginia Williams (Fairly Legal)
Bryan Callen (The Hangover)
Courtney Ford (The Big Bang Theory)
Candace Moon (Shredder)
Will Sasso (Anger Management)
Khary Payton (Teen Titans)
Erin Cahill (Power Rangers Time Force)
Amy Gumenick (Arrow)
Joe Nieves (The Bling Ring)
Jordan Masterson (That 70s Show)
Marshall Manesh (True Lies)
Frances Conroy (Six Feet Under)
Brooke D’Orsay (Two and a Half Men)
Laura Prepon (Karla)
Danny Glover (Earthsea)
Rebecca Budig (Batman Forever)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Ron Roggé (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
The Ted-Robyn relationship provided much of the ongoing story arc for the first three seasons; In season Three  Ted embarked on a romance with Stella (guest star–and Scrubs regular–Sarah Chalke) that provides that year with a cliffhanger–will she accept Ted’s marriage proposal? Well, spoiler alert, she does. But this stroke of happiness for our Ted is short-lived; their rushed wedding, in episode five, ends with Stella leaving Ted at the altar following a reconciliation with her ex. Bruised and a little battered, Ted spends the remainder of the season mostly playing the field; this year’s will-they-or-won’t-they involves not Robin and Ted, but Robin and Barney, who slept together at the end of season three, leading to–shockingly and alarmingly–a genuine flush of romantic feelings by the notorious womanizer.
By this point in its run, How I Met Your Mother has settled into a comfortable routine, and I mean that in a good way; the show is in the character-comedy mold of Seinfeld and Friends (its two clearest influences), and like those shows, the situations get funnier, the more familiar we are with the characters. The series’ ingenious structure and inventive narrative tricks also continue to entertain; the hopscotching timelines of the “Three Days of Snow” and “The Front Porch” episodes are outstanding, while the clever flashbacks of “Sorry, Bro” build to some big laughs. Other standout episodes include “I Heart NJ,” which perfectly encapsulates the love/hate relationship between island-dwelling New Yorkers and commuters from the Garden State; “The Best Burger in New York,” a fine portrait of New York foodie-ism (and how to best utilize a Regis Philbin guest shot); and “The Stinsons,” which reveals one of Barney’s more peculiar secrets.
But the season’s finest episode, without question, is “Murtaugh,” centered on Ted’s “Murtaugh List”–i.e., a list of things that would fall under Danny Glover’s Lethal Weapon catchphrase, “I’m getting too old for this shit” (the replacement of “shit” with “stuff” in the story that aged Ted is telling his children is a particularly nice touch). It’s a funny idea (and dovetails nicely with the season-long running theme of aging; there’s 30th birthdays all around this season), well-developed, and the episode’s B-plot includes an homage to Teen Wolf, so what else could you ask for? Radnor and Smulders, continue to develop into engaging, charismatic comic actors. Hannigan and Segal’s chemistry remains one of the show’s biggest assets. But Harris’ Barney Stinson remains the show’s comic gold mine, and the skilled thespian uses the season-long Robin crush to lend some additional pathos to the character. His desperation reaches a fever pitch in the wonderful “Benefits” episode, in which new roommates Ted and Robin end up sleeping together to end domestic arguments, leading jealous Barney to start dropping by with groceries and pitching in on household chores–all the better to keep tempers smooth and to keep the “friends” out of each other’s pants.
How I Met Your Mother remains one of the most consistently, reliably funny series on network television. Season four finds the show continuing in fine form, taking its characters in interesting new directions and providing its talented cast with a prime showcase for their crackerjack comic skills.
MAIN CAST
Josh Radnor (Not Another Teen Movie)
Jason Segel (The Muppets)
Cobie Smulders (The Avengers)
Neil Patrick Harris (Dr. Horrible’s-Sing Along Blog)
Alyson Hannigan (American Pie)
Bob Saget (Full House)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS
Lyndsy Fonseca (Agent Carter)
David Henrie (Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2)
Charlene Amoia (The Finder)
Joe Manganiello (Spider-Man)
Lindsay Sloane (Sabrina: The Teenage Witch)
Olga Fonda (The Vampire Diaries)
Marshall Manesh (True Lies)
April Bowlby (Two and a Half Men)
Matt Jones (Mom)
Eva Amurri Martino (Saved)
Sarah Wright (The House Bunny)
Chris Elliott (Kingpin)
Suzie Plakson (Red Eyes)
Bill Fagerbakke (The Artist)
JoAnna Garcia Swisher (The Internship)
Matthew Moy (2 Broke Girls)
Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad)
Harvey Fierstein (Kull)
Rachel Bilson (Jumpe)
Amanda Peet (Identity Thief)
Taran Killam (12 Years a Slave)
Larry Poindexter (Blade: The Series)
Carrie Underwood (Soul Surfer)
Matt Frewer (Taken)
Laura Prepon (That 70s Show)
Anne Dudek (Bones)
Cristine Rose (Heroes)
Harry Groener (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Gary Anthony Williams (Mike & Molly)
Michael York (Logans Run)
Arianna Huffington (The Cleveland Show)
Malin Akerman (Watchmen)
Judy Greer (Jurassic World)
Chris Kattan (Undercover Brother)
Ted begins his job as a professor of architecture, standing in the middle of a classroom – although the mother was present, it turns out to be an economics class as he’s in the wrong lecture hall. Barney and Robin have had a sexual relationship throughout the summer and Lily locks them in a room, forcing them to come to terms with their relationship. After a rough patch they decide to break up. Robin describes it instead as “two friends getting back together.” Barney immediately goes back to his old ways, using the playbook to score with women. Throughout the season Barney and Robin show feelings of regret over their break-up.
Ted dates a graduate student named Cindy (Rachel Bilson) and it is revealed her roommate is his future wife. Robin meets Don Frank (Benjamin Koldyke), her new co-anchor on her 4 AM TV show. Though she initially dislikes him, the two start dating and eventually she moves in with him. At the end of the season they break up when Don takes a job in Chicago — a job which Robin had previously turned down to stay in New York with Don. Marshall uses his fourth slap on Barney, once again at Thanksgiving. Ted buys a house, which needs to be fixed up badly, but is later revealed to be the future home for Ted and his children.
Lily and Marshall are still unsure about having children. After watching four doppelgangers of their group (Lesbian Robin, Moustache Marshall, Stripper Lily and Mexican Wrestler Ted) they decide to leave the big decision to the universe’s “infinite wisdom” and start trying when they have seen Barney’s Doppelganger. In the season finale, Barney disguises himself to have sex with a girl from every country in the world, and Lily and Marshall mistake him for the final doppelganger. When Marshall finds out, he decides not to tell Lily, fearing she will want to wait even longer to have children. Lily eventually finds out and decides to wait. In the season finale, Lily thinks she sees Barney’s doppelganger as a hot dog vendor, which causes the group to realize she is seeing what she wants to see, and play along. Eventually Barney agrees having babies is not a stupid idea and Lily and Marshall should go forth. The season ends with Lily asking Marshall to “put a baby in my belly”.
Another great season which leaves you wanting to fin out what happens next in season 6.
MAIN CAST
Josh Radnor (Not Another Teen Movie)
Jason Segel (The Muppets)
Cobie Smulders (The Avengers)
Neil Patrick Harris (Dr. Horrible’s-Sing Along Blog)
Alyson Hannigan (American Pie)
Bob Saget (Full House)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS
Lyndsy Fonseca (Agent Carter)
David Henrie (Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2)
Charlene Amoia (The Finder)
Rachel Bilson (Jumper)
Frances Conroy (Six Feet Unde)
Wayne Brady (Baby Daddy)
David H. Lawrence XVII (Heroes)
Geoff Stults (The Finder)
Laura Bell Bundy (Anger Management)
Marshall Manesh (True Lies)
Bill Fagerbakke (The Artist)
Suzie Plakson (Red Eye)
Virginia Williams (One Life To Live)
Mikaela Hoover (Super)
Jennifer Morrison (Urban Legends: Final Cut)
Will Forte (MacGruber)
Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad)
Kyle MacLachlan (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Nicole Scherzinger (Men in Black 3)
Joe Nieves (The Blking Ring)
Jorge Garcia (Lost)
Alexis Denisof (Dollhouse)
Bill Suplee (Love or War)
Chris Elliott (Scary Movie 2)
Michael Gross (Tremors)
Ray Wise (Robocop)
Katy Perry (The Smurfs)
Suzy Nakamura (Dodgeball)
Robbie Amell (The Flash)
John Lithgow (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Nancy Travis (Last Man Standing)
Michael Trucco (Battlestar Galactica)
Cristine Rose (Heroes)
Chi McBride (Human Target)
In the season opening, Ted sees Cindy again with a girl who he thinks to be her roommate, but she turns out to be Cindy’s girlfriend whom she later marries. After prodding by Barney, Ted is eventually hired by GNB once more as the architect of the bank’s new headquarters, which was originally scrapped in Season 4. However, he encounters opposition when he meets Zoey Pierson (Jennifer Morrison), a woman who is protesting against GNB for selecting a decrepit hotel, the Arcadian, to be torn down for the headquarters. Over the season, Ted’s encounters with Zoey eventually blossom into a relationship after she divorces her rich husband, the Captain (Kyle MacLachlan), but they break up as he puts his career and friends over love, leading to the Arcadian’s demolition. Ted also resolves not to get back with Zoey.
Having agreed to conceive a baby at the end of the previous season, Lily and Marshall keep having sex, hoping she will get pregnant. Around Christmas, they have a false alarm and later seek fertility testing. The fertility specialist, Dr. Stangel, turns out to be Barney’s doppelgänger, fulfilling their promise with the universe in regard to their decision to have a child. However, tragedy strikes when Marshall’s father passes away, leaving him devastated and the gang comforting him. Marshall tries to get over his father’s death and live again. Despite a pledge to Lily to work harder for their future, Marshall resigns from GNB and follows his dream of being an environmental lawyer. Zoey also hires him as her lawyer in what became a futile battle to save the Arcadian. At the end of the season, Lily reveals that she is pregnant.
Barney finally admits to the gang that Bob Barker is not his real father, especially when his mother decides to sell the house he grew up in and his brother, James, meets his own father. Loretta offers the identity of Barney’s father on a sheet of paper, but Barney tears this up after realizing her efforts as a single mother. At the funeral of Marshall’s father, Barney tells Loretta that he wants to see his father at last. The man, Jerry Whittaker (John Lithgow), is eventually revealed to be someone whom Barney thought was his uncle. Barney, who remembers Jerry as a fun-loving man, is disappointed after learning how Jerry has grown out of his free-wheeling ways. Although he tries to bring back Jerry’s old behaviors, Barney admits that he wants to settle down someday. He is also introduced to Nora (Nazanin Boniadi), a co-worker of Robin, for whom he develops feelings. After an initial falling out, the two reconcile at the end of the season after Barney asks her for coffee.
Robin continues to work at her talk show, Come On, Get Up, New York!, but the presence of a new hyperactive co-host forces her to leave. She is accepted as a researcher in another network, World Wide News. The gang also discovers more of her past as the Canadian pop star Robin Sparkles. Robin also encounters a man (Michael Trucco) she has had a secret crush on since first seeing him when she and Ted were dating, and Future Ted hints that they will see more of him later.
Short scenes during the season premiere and finale feature a wedding set sometime in the future, where Ted will meet his future wife. In the final scene of the season, the groom is revealed to be Barney.
A great new story Arc for the season, all the cast are still on top form and shows you why its a top notch comedy.
MAIN CAST
Josh Radnor (Not Another Teen Movie)
Jason Segel (The Muppets)
Cobie Smulders (The Avengers)
Neil Patrick Harris (Dr. Horrible’s-Sing Along Blog)
Alyson Hannigan (American Pie)
Bob Saget (Full House)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS
Lyndsy Fonseca (Agent Carter)
David Henrie (Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2)
Charlene Amoia (The Finder)
Joe Nieves (The Bling Ring)
Ashley Williams (Margin Call)
Martin Short (Mars Attacks)
Kal Penn (Superman Returns)
Jimmi Simpson (Westworld)
Alexis Denisof (Dollhouse)
Vicki Lewis (Finding Nemo)
Katherine Von Till (Timer)
Jay Acovone (Beauty and The Beast 1989)
Ray Wise (Robocop)
Chris Elliott (Kingpin)
‘Weird Al’ Yankovic (Batman vs Robin)
Frances Conroy (Six Feet Under)
Bill Fagerbakke (The Artist)
Wayne Brady (Stargate Sg.1)
Cristine Rose (Heroes)
Katie Holmes (Batman Begins)
Christina Pickles (Masters of The Universe)
Jacob Witkin (Evil Bong)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
Danielle Weeks (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Chasty Ballesteros (Final Destination 5)
David H. Lawrence XVII (Heroes)
Rebecca Creskoff (Bates Motel)
Becki Newton (Ugly Betty)
Ellen D. Williams (Salesgirl)
Marshall Manesh (True Lies)
K Callan (Lois & CLark)
Season seven opens with another flash forward, in which Ted is helping Barney get ready for his wedding to a still unknown bride. In the present, Marshall gets a job in environmental law while Lily progresses with her pregnancy. Barney proves to Nora that he can be a good boyfriend to her, while Robin is revealed to still have feelings for Barney. Robin meets a therapist Kevin (Kal Penn) and they start to date. Meanwhile, after a period of unemployment since leaving GNB, Marshall finally manages to land his dream job at a top environmental law firm. After losing a bet, Barney is forced to wear a tie with a duck pattern on it (nicknamed the ‘Ducky Tie’) which he hates. Marshall allows him to take it off when meeting Nora’s parents on the condition that Barney has three slaps added to the one still remaining from the Slap Bet. Marshall uses two slaps immediately, leaving two left.
While reminiscing about Hurricane Irene, Lily and Marshall reveal they conceived their baby in Barney’s apartment, and Barney and Robin end up sleeping together. Barney and Robin decide to break up with their partners, but Robin reneges on the deal, returning to Kevin and leaving Barney alone and heartbroken. Robin has a pregnancy scare at Thanksgiving and tells Barney the child is his, since she and Kevin had not yet slept together. However, Robin’s doctor informs her that she cannot have children at all. Kevin, who wants children, proposes to Robin who decides that the pair must break up. Ted comforts Robin and reveals he still loves her, but the gesture is unrequited.
Marshall and Lily decide they want to move to Long Island, after Lily’s paternal grandparents offer them their house there. Eventually, they move back to the old apartment in New York City after realizing suburban life is not for them. Ted gives them his apartment because he believes he cannot move on from Robin while living there, while he and Robin become estranged and do not speak for several weeks. Robin is eventually offered a news anchor job and subsequently achieves recognition after preventing a helicopter she is flying in from crashing.
Barney starts dating a stripper named Quinn, to the group’s initial apprehension. The gang begins to meddle in their relationship, but Barney and Quinn outsmart their attempts and win their approval. Quinn moves in with Barney, while Ted buys Quinn’s old apartment. Lily goes into labor and frantically calls Barney and Marshall, who are out at a casino. After many attempts to escape, Barney helps Marshall arrive in time for Lily’s delivery and chooses the middle name for the baby, Marvin Waitforit Eriksen. Ted and Robin’s friendship also recovers as a result of Marvin’s birth. As the season concludes, Marshall and Lily begin their new family with their baby, Barney proposes to Quinn, and Ted contacts his old girlfriend Victoria. Unhappy with
Another highly enjoyable season with two more seasons to go it’s nice to see the show coming to an endgame.
MAIN CAST
Josh Radnor (Not Another Teen Movie)
Jason Segel (The Muppets)
Cobie Smulders (The Avengers)
Neil Patrick Harris (Dr. Horrible’s-Sing Along Blog)
Alyson Hannigan (American Pie)
Bob Saget (Full House)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS
Lyndsy Fonseca (Agent Carter)
David Henrie (Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2)
Joe Nieves (The Bling Ring)
Becki Newton (Ugly Betty)
Ashley Williams (Magin Call)
Michael Trucco (Wishmaster 4)
Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad)
Suzie Plakson(Red Eye)
Chris Elliott (Scary Movie 2)
Joe Lo Truglio (Superbad)
Chelan Simmons (Final Destination 3)
Ellen D. William (Salesgirl)
Seth Green (Idle Hands)
Peter Gallagher (American Beauty)
Marshall Manesh (True Lies)
Rachel Bilson (Jumper)
Ashley Benson (Pretty Little Liars)
James Van Der Beek (Dawsons Creek)
Abby Elliott (2 Broke Girls)
Kyle MacLachlan (Dune)
Laura Bell Bundy (Anger Management)
Jayma Mays (Ugly Betty)
Ralph Macchio (The Karate Kid)
Cristin Milioti (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Ted visits Robin on the day of her wedding to Barney, causing him to remember how he and Victoria ran away from her wedding to be together. The summer is spent with Ted, Barney and Robin enjoying their current relationships however all subsequently break up with their partners. Victoria splits up with Ted over his friendship with Robin, Barney and Quinn break up due to their inability to trust each other and Robin breaks up with Nick realizing his immaturity. Robin and Barney kiss but decide not to get together, despite Barney’s wishes. Barney then begins dating Robin’s hated co-worker Patrice (Ellen D. Williams), a relationship later exposed as a ruse to make Robin realize her true feelings for him. In a culminating scene Barney proposes to Robin, who says yes.
Marshall and Lily attempt to get used to being parents, which causes a brief estrangement from the gang as Baby Marvin takes up the majority of their time. Lily’s father Mickey becomes Marvin’s nanny, freeing the two up to spend more time with their friends. The Captain, ex-husband of Ted’s old girlfriend Zoey, offers Lily a job as an art consultant due to her identifying a painting that made a huge profit for him. Lily accepts, happy to finally achieve her dream of having a job in the art industry while Marshall decides to apply to become a judge. The Captain offers Lily a year’s work in Rome, which she accepts with Marshall’s blessing. However, just before Barney and Robin’s wedding, Marshall is informed that his application to become a judge has been granted, a development that would require them to stay in the US.
Ted briefly dates Jeanette (Abby Elliott), a girl who stalked him after he appeared on the cover of New York Magazine due to his design of GNB headquarters. He quickly realizes he’s made a mistake and breaks up with her. Ted’s feelings of loneliness grow, especially as he is now the only single member of the group, and he decides he is truly ready to settle down. He argues with Lily over hiring a DJ or a band for Barney and Robin’s wedding, but is forced to provide a band at short notice when Lily concedes the argument. During a chance meeting on the subway, Cindy offers the services of her roommate’s wedding band; said roommate is Ted’s future wife.
As the week of the wedding approaches, Robin has doubts about marrying Barney and shares an emotional moment with Ted. Guilty, Ted realizes he can’t be around Barney and Robin after they’re married and decides to move to Chicago the day after the wedding. The season concludes with everyone travelling to Barney and Robin’s wedding, including the mother of Ted’s children (revealed on screen for the first time and portrayed by Cristin Milioti), who is seen buying a train ticket to the venue and holding her yellow umbrella.
The Second to last season brings us closer to the endgame and the big reveal of the Mother is the biggest of all the revelations.
MAIN CAST
Josh Radnor (Not Another Teen Movie)
Jason Segel (The Muppets)
Cobie Smulders (The Avengers)
Neil Patrick Harris (Dr. Horrible’s-Sing Along Blog)
Alyson Hannigan (American Pie)
Cristin Milioti (The Wolf of Wall Street)
Bob Saget (Full House)
RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS
Lyndsy Fonseca (Agent Carter)
David Henrie (Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2)
Sherri Shepherd (Precious)
Wayne Brady (Stargate Sg.1)
Suzie Plakson (Red Eye)
Marshall Manesh (True Lies)
Robert Belushi (Valentines Day)
Ellen D. Williams (Salesgirl)
Frances Conroy (Six feet Under)
Virginia Williams (One Life To Live)
Katie Holmes (Batman Begins)
Edward Herrmann (The Lost Boys)
Harry Groener (Buffy)
Cristine Rose (Heroes)
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
John Lithgow (3rd Rock From The Sun)
James Van Der Beek (Dawsons Creek)
April Bowlby (Mom)
Eva Amurri Martino (Saved)
Rachel Bilson (Jumper)
Sarah Chalke (Scrubs)
Abby Elliott (2 Broke Girls)
Bill Fagerbakke (The Artist)
Ray Wise (Robocop)
Lucy Hale (Bionic Woman)
Jon Heder (Blades of Glory)
Tracey Ullman (Into The Woods)
Chris Elliott (Scary Movie 2)
Kyle MacLachlan (Dune)
Laura Bell Bundy (Anger Management)
Jennifer Morrison (Urban Legends 2)
Alexis Denisof (Dollhouse)
Abigail Spencer (Cowboys & Aliens)
With the exception of the very last episode, the entirety of season nine takes place in the 56 hours leading up to Barney and Robin’s wedding.
Marshall, who is stuck in Minnesota, desperately tries to find a way to get to the wedding in time. Meanwhile, in Farhampton, the time is slowly counting down to the wedding, with a new problem arising in almost every episode. It is revealed that Lily is pregnant and that she and Marshall will have a daughter. It was also revealed that Ted’s children are named Penny and Luke. In addition, the 200th episode detailed the Mother’s eight years before meeting Ted, while later episodes gave viewers a glimpse of Ted and the Mother together in flash forward scenes.
In the series finale, it was revealed that after three years of marriage, Barney and Robin decide to divorce. Barney ends up fathering a child conceived through a one-night stand. Marshall eventually becomes a judge, and he and Lily have three children. Ted’s wife, Tracy, dies of illness in 2024, six years prior to Ted telling his children the full story of how they met. Upon finishing the story, at the urging of his kids, Ted decides to ask Robin out. Alluding to the first season, the finale ends with Robin looking out her apartment window to see Ted on the street holding the blue French horn.
Season 9 may have a controversial ending but it’s nice to see a show have a proper ending with so many shows ending early they often fail to finish. How I Met You Mother proved it could stay the distance and the ending will be talked about for years to come.

REVIEW: JUST LIKE HEAVEN

CAST

Reese Witherspoon (This Means War)
Mark Ruffalo (Avengers Assemble)
Donal Logue (Gotham)
Dina Spybey-Waters (Freaky Friday)
Ben Shenkman (Pi)
Jon Heder (Blades of Glory)
Ivana Milicevic (Vanilla sky)
Rosalind Chao (Star Trek: DS9)
Ron Canada (Wedding Crashers)
Willie Garson (Stargate SG.1)

Dr. Elizabeth Masterson (Reese Witherspoon) is a workaholic striving to get a permanent job at the hospital she’s working at in San Francisco. But on the day she gets the job, she’s in a horrid car accident. Meanwhile, David Abbott (Mark Ruffalo) is looking for a furnished apartment with a comfortable couch. He’s running out of options until a flier for a sub-lease flies across his path. It’s perfect, and David is excited about moving in.

Until he sees Elizabeth in his apartment. She insists she lives there and he is the one trespassing. When she appears and disappears, David decides she’s a spirit and tries everything he can to get rid of her. When that doesn’t work, he agrees to help her find out who she is so she can get peace and leave him alone. The pieces begin falling into place, but by then, David and Elizabeth have grown beyond their initial dislike and enjoy each other’s company. Will the truth about Elizabeth be good news or bad news?

I went into this movie expecting a light romantic comedy, and there are some very funny moments, especially at the beginning as David and Elizabeth must come to grips with each other. However, as the movie progressed, the story grew more serious.  The story itself is basically predictable. Several major plot points are obvious long before they happen. However, there was a twist or two that you wont see coming. And the movie has some themes worth thinking over after it ends.

The movie is carried by the leads. Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo do a great job in their rolls. The movie really focuses on them, and the two have lots of screen time together. The chemistry builds over the course of the movie. I found this noteworthy because in most comedies it seems to either be there or not. I liked this because shows the changing relationship that Elizabeth and David have.

The praise for the leads isn’t to detract from the supporting actors. Dina Spybey especially stands out as Elizabeth’s sister. However, Jon Heder of Napoleon Dynamite fame steals every scene he is in. His paranormal expert is hilarious. This movie is a pleasant way to spend a couple hours. Not terribly original, but it tries harder then many films out there today.

REVIEW: MY NAME IS EARL – SEASON 1-4

MAIN CAST

Jason Lee (Dogma)
Ethan Suplee (Mallrats)
Jaime Pressly (Mom)
Nadine Velazquez (War)
Eddie Steeples (Raising Hope)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Leo Fitzpatrick (Bully)
Gregg Binkley (Galaxy Quest)
Dale Dickey (Iron Man 3)
Carson Daly (Josie and The Pussycats)
Trace Adkins (The Virginian)
Silas Weir Mitchell (Birds of Prey)
Kathryn Joosten (Desperate Housewives)
Tracy Ashton (Stuck on You)
Jesse Heiman (ChucK)
Dax Shepard (Zathura)
Montel Williams (Golden Shoes)
Giovanni Ribisi (Avatar)
Abdoulaye NGom (VR Troopers)
Missi Pyle (Dodgeball)
Timothy Stack (Cast Away)
Chloe Grace Moretz (The Fifth Wave)
Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory)
Kristina Hayes (Expelled)
Beau Bridges (Stargate SG.1)
Niecy Nash (The Soul Man)
Blake Clark (50 First Dates)
Brett Butler (Anger Management)
John Ducey (Sabrina: TTW)
Jon Favreau (Iron Man)
Jeremy Howard (Accepted)
Lindsay Hollister (Bluberella)
Jessica Cauffiel (White Chicks)
Mark Christopher Lawrence (Chuck)
Patricia Belcher (Bones)
Adam Goldberg (Deja Vu)
Christine Taylor (Zoolander)
Samm Levine (Veronica Mars)
Ben Falcone (New Girl)
Timothy Olyphant (Go)
Malcolm David Kelley (Lost)
Juliette Lewis (Some Girl)
Clint Howard (Apollo 13)
Max Perlich (Blow)
Geoffrey Lewis (The Devil’s Rejects)
Miriam Shor (Bedazzled)
Shailene Woodley (Divergent)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Burt Reynolds (Boogie Nights)
Judy Greer (Jurassic World)
Marlee Matlin (Reasonable Doubts)
Jonathan Slavin (Free Enterprise)
Beth Grant (Wonderfalls)
Jenny McCarthy (Two and a Half Men)
Johnny Sneed (The Heartbreak Kid)
Christian Slater (True Romance)
John Leguizamo (Kick-Ass 2)
Jimmi Simpson (Date Night)
Ray Santiago (Ash vs Evil Dead)
DJ Qualls (Road Trip)
Bob Clendenin (That 70s Show)
Norm MacDonald (Dr. Dolittle)
Kurt Fuller (Ghostbusters 2)
Sean Astin (The Goonies)
Ben Foster (The Punisher)
Craig T. Nelson (The Incredibles)
Dee Wallace (E.T.)
Raymond Cruz (Training Day)
Alyssa Milano (Charmed)
Billy Gardell (Mike & Molly)
Mike O’ Malley (R.I.P.D.)
Tamala Jones (Castle)
Shawn Hatosy (Alpha Dog)
Jane Lynch (Glee)
Paris Hilton (Bottoms Up)
Kevin Sussman (The Big Bang Theory)
Michael Pena (American Hustle)
Jon Heder (Blades of Glory)
Bonita Friedericy (Chuck)
Deborah Ann Woll (Daredevil)
Nancy Lenehan (Sex Tape)
Mindy Sterling (Austin Powers)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Suzy Nakamura (8mm)
Brandon Soo Hoo (Tropic Thunder)
David Arquette (Scream)
Katy Mixon (Mike & Molly)
Jenna Elfman (EdTV)
Brooke Nevin (The Comebacks)
Scoot McNairy (Argo)
Michael Pena (American Hustle)
Joel David Moore (Julia X)
Courtney Gains (Children of The Corn)
Jane Seymour (Smallville)
Jason Priestley (Tru Calling)
Eric Lange (Lost)
Neil Hopkins (The Net 2.0)
Eric Allan Kramer (The Incredible Hulk Returns)
Morgan Fairchild (Chuck)
Danny Glover (Earthsea)
Curtis Armstrong (New Girl)

 

When I heard that Jason Lee has going to be starring in a new TV series, I was psyched. Ever since his star-making turn in Mallrats,  Earl (Lee), a 250-time loser and minor criminal, won $100,000 on a scratch-off ticket, and was promptly hit by a car. While healing in the hospital, he learns about karma from Carson Daly (on TV) and decides to change his life by making a list of all the people he’s wronged and making it up to them. It’s a simple concept.Earl’s family and friends, including his brother Randy (Ethan Suplee), his ex-wife Joy (Jamie Pressly), her husband Darnell the Crabman (Eddie Steeples) and his friend Catalina (Nadine Velazquez), are alternately positive and negative influences as he tries to fulfill his debt to karma. Randy, a dopey man-child, helps his brother as much as he can, but because he’s not too bright, he tends to screw things up. That’s ok though, as he may have the purest intentions of anyone in the show, since he’s unable to truly be underhanded. The only person purer than Randy is Darnell, otherwise known as Crabman. Even more innocent than Randy, he lives a simple life and is a simple man. That he’s married to Joy, a woman to whom no level of evil is out of reach, shows what he can put up with in life and remain good-natured. She’s also incredibly funny, as Pressly does the best work of her career, playing this trailer bitch to the max. She’s balanced by Earl and Randy’s pal Catalina, the highly sexy maid at their hotel. Though she’s good at heart, there’s an inherent darkness in her that shines through with solid comic timing.Though there’s not a lot of story that progresses from episode to episode, the theme of the list ties everything together nicely. Whether he’s helping a suicidal man find a reason to live or giving his mom the Mother’s Day she deserved, Earl spreads his “golden rule” message, making the show one of the few TV comedies today where there’s a positive message but not a ton of cheese. There are episodes that have as much heartfelt sentiment as any “very special effort” just without the melodrama. Instead, the series is very real in the way it depicts people. They are neither all good or all bad. They just are, and they do what they need to to get by. Darnell isn’t ruled by a strict code of ethics. He just does what feels right. Earl has a thread of bad-guy in him, but he believes in the concept of good. The writers have managed to create some of the most complete sitcom characters in recent history, as one can see in “Dad’s Car,” when Joy’s love for her kids is revealed.There’s something special in this show that you only see in truly great ensemble casts, and that’s memorable supporting characters that aren’t your average “wacky neighbors.” It’s almost guaranteed that a laugh is coming when Crabman or Catalina are on screen. Even one-time characters, like Earl’s clingy ex-girlfriend or the many fantastic guest stars, make the most of their screentime by integrating seamlessly with the regulars, creativing a cohesive universe, giving you more reason to come back and visit with your friends in Camden County.It’s not just the writing and acting that’s top-notch though. The choice of music is often inspired, with pop and rock songs helping the show reach new emotional and comedic heights, including a beautiful use of “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket” in the season finale. Today, you expect soundtracks with such popular, well-known songs to end up replaced on DVD, but it seems that these shows are presented with  the music intact. Just as creative are the inventive visuals, which help tell bigger stories in the small amount of time the show has. It’s the small details like this that show the kind of effort that goes into the series.

The second season of the show didn’t mess with success, maintaining the things that worked so well for the series, including a very funny cast, a well-developed dynamic and a style that’s unique and energetic. What did change was part of a natural evolution, as the show’s smaller stories, which make up Earl’s karmic quest, are joined by a larger, season-long arc surrounding his ex-wife Joy (Jaime Pressly) and her effort to get revenge on a local store for refusing her return without a receipt. Not exactly the brightest bulb, she decides that the scales will be balanced if she steals one of the store’s trucks. Unfortunately for her, worst-laid plans are especially susceptible to failure and things spiral well out of her control, as, when she’s inevitably caught, it’s her third strike, which would mean a prison term, thus setting up Earl and his friends’ attempt to keep Joy out of the big house. Of course, this isn’t exactly a crackerjack squad of schemers, so things certainly don’t go smoothly, which makes for a hilarious running subplot.Despite the overarching Joy in Jail plot, the show doesn’t lose sight of its core concept: Earl and his list. As he knocks off item after item on the record of bad things he’s done, we get to meet more of the residents of Camden County, including the members of a circus freak show, a French exchange student Earl ran out of the country and an aging rocker. There are also a few familiar faces to help, including his gay friend Kenny, the lovably laid-back Crabman (Eddie Steeples, one of the TV’s most underrated actors) and Earl Hickey. Yep, after realizing he wrecked his own life, Earl adds himself to the list and spends a few episodes taking care of his own business.Earl’s not the only Hickey in the spotlight though this season, as his adorably simple brother Randy (played wonderfully by Suplee) is increasingly a focus on the show, even getting a few love interests, including the gorgeous and hilarious Catalina (Nadine Velazquez.) A huge part of what’s so beautifully and positively human about the series emanates from the good-hearted Randy, who, in many ways lives to be loved, especially by Earl. It’s that personality that makes an episode like “South of the Border,” in which Randy feels wronged by Earl, and the hurt overwhelms him. In Suplee’s capable hands, a character that might otherwise be a cartoon, is fully realized and truly real, as “Larceny of a Kitty Cat” shows, in exploring how Randy reacts to heartbreak, with the help of “Strangers with Candy” star Amy Sedaris.Sedaris is one of many guest stars who are seamlessly integrated into Earl’s world, including Christian Slater, Roseanne Barr, Judy Greer, Jenny McCarthy, John Leguizamo, Kathy Kinney, Mike O’Malley, DJ Qualls, Dog the Bounty Hunter, Charles S. Dutton, Sean Astin and John Waters. Each one works great in the context of the series, especially returning guests like Beau Bridges (as Earl’s dad,) Giovanni Ribisi (Earl’s insane friend Ralph) and Tim Stack (portraying TV’s Tim Stack in a great meta joke) and repeated guest star Marlee Matlin, who’s fantastic as Joy’s deaf lawyer (along with her interpreter Jonathan Slavin.) But none of them were as fantastic or as inspired as the addition of Chubby, the owner of the local strip club, dry cleaner and rib restaurant. Considering Lee’s use of the phrase “Reynolds style” in films and Earl’s glorious ‘stache, getting Burt Reynolds to play the utterly mental Chubby was brilliant, as was his performance in “Jump for Joy,” the Catalina-centered episode that will make any hetero man a fan of “Jump Around.” But even better than that, was the appearance of Chubby’s son in “Two Balls, Two Strikes.” If Reynolds’ casting was inspired, there is no phrase to describe the choice of Norm MacDonald to play his son, considering MacDonald’s famously bad “SNL” impersonation.It’s this kind of decision-making that makes the series so original and fun, and its seen frequently throughout the season. “Buried Treasure” takes the old “Rashomon” concept and recasts it into a series of mini episodes of “Earl,” using the show’s style (and iconic opening) to great result, while “Our ‘Cops’ is On” takes the popular police show and brings it to Earl’s neighborhood. Though the concept is pretty consistent from episode to episode, there’s no such thing as your average installment of “Earl,” as each is a 20-minute masterpiece of comedy and creativity, starring one of the finest comedic casts working today.

By putting Earl behind bars for almost half the season, the series proved it was bigger than its concept, as the situation let him be the man he’s been for two seasons, while changing him organically, as he adapts to prison life. Admittedly, his time in jail isn’t too different for him, with the warden (a marvelously inept Craig T. Nelson) taking Karma’s place, as Earl helps him out in exchange for an early release. But the warden isn’t quite as generous as his cosmic benefactor, so life isn’t quite as rewarding, which pushes Earl back toward the dark side. Not to spoil anything, but Karma’s not a big fan of Bad Earl, and let’s him know so, quite forcibly.

Things aren’t all bad for Earl though, as his pals, including his dense brother Randy and Joy’s husband Crabman, help him out when he really needs it, which this season is for an extended period of time that sets up one of the show’s more unique conceits, as Earl finds himself in a fantasy sitcom world that’s genuinely amusing to enjoy. Earl also meets a special new lady in his life, when he falls for Billie (Alyssa Milano) the girlfriend of his prison pal Frank (Michael Rappaport.) Though we’ve seen Earl on the short end of the relationship stick, this new girl tests Earl’s patience, as well as what he believes he is all about. To say that Billie is a bit on the confusing side, is a massive understatement, as her mood swings and mindset change with the breeze. That said, we have rarely seen Earl under these conditions, it makes for some genuine comedy. The two-part season finale, which pits Billie against Earl’s list brings everything back to center.

One of the best parts about the show is the world in which these characters live, which has been enhanced by repeat guest stars and unique episode concepts. In addition to Nelson as the warden, new arrivals to Camden County include Vincent Pastore, Jane Lynch, Paris Hilton, Jon Hader, John Henson and Shawn Hatosy, some of whom fit in better than others.  Meanwhile, returning this season as guests are Giovanni Ribisi, Tim Stack, Beau Bridges and DJ Qualls, who help make Camden County feel real. Thus, when the show goes back to the well for a two-part “Cops” episode, this time titled “Our Other ‘Cops’ Is On,” it just makes sense that this town could be captured twice by the cameras of the popular police show, and feel no shame about it.Though the unique situations in this season make for some great episodes, the best would have to be “Creative Writing,” which finds Earl taking part in a creative writing class in prison. Though Earl struggles with the inspiration to write, it quickly spreads to his friends and family, which results in ridiculous fantasy scenes, including an animated sequence, Randy’s spy fantasy, a telenovela starring Catalina and, best of all, a smooth R&B jam from Crabman. It’s the show’s ability to bounce between the more realistic adventures of Earl and pals and sequences like these that makes it such a treat to watch a show on a regular basis, because you never know what you’re going to see next.

The season continues to see Earl visiting others he’s wronged from his past, including one episode that involves his own parents (“Monkeys Take a Bath”). In the episode, Earl and Randy decide they want to apologize to their sensitive childhood neighbor (played by David Paymer). While the two thought the neighbor moved because of their teasing, he actually moved because of an affair with Randy and Earl’s mom. When Joy finds out, she approaches Earl’s mom, first calling her a hypocrite, then wondering why they couldn’t have gotten along if they were both so similar. Of course, Joy gets a negative – and, not surprisingly, familiar – response.
Later in the season, “Nature’s Game Show” offers up another darkly amusing gag as a twister (and the show’s attempt at showing a twister coming through is about the most hilariously cheap portrayal of a twister I’ve seen in ages) passes by the town, resulting in a “commonly accepted rule” coming into play: the rule of “finders keepers”, as townsfolk scatter to pick up whatever they can from the items that have been blown around by the twister.However, one of the biggest highlights of the season comes in the second half, with “Darnell Outed”, a 2-parter that starts with Earl trying to help Joy get on the new reality show, “Estrada or Nada”, starring the former “C.H.I.P.S.” actor. Upon seeing the ad for the show, Earl proclaims to Randy, “We truly live in the golden age of television.” Shortly after, Earl introduces Joy’s audition tape for “Fear Factor”. While Pressley has offered up some very funny performances during the four seasons of this series, this is certainly one of the best, even offering up a few genuinely touching moments. The episode sees Joy getting humiliated, which also results in Darnell’s witness protection program cover being blown. The second half has Joy (who renames herself Goldie) and Darnell finding themselves in a new life in the ‘burbs. Upset that he couldn’t make Joy’s dream of being famous come true, he sets off to find her – by mailing himself and Randy to Joy’s new forwarding address. A few episodes later, Earl and Randy have to explain to Mr. Turtle (who has had a long journey) what happened.
My Name is Earl remains a great series and the series certainly goes out on a high note with this terrific fourth and final season – there’s not a bad episode in the bunch, and a few are particularly funny. It does end on a cliffhanger so be warned.

REVIEW: BLADES OF GLORY

 

CAST

Will Ferrell (Zoolander)
Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite)
Will Arnett (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Amy Poehler (Mean Girls)
Jenna Fischer (Slither)
William Fichtner (The Dark Knight)
Craig T. Nelson (The Incredibles)
Romany Malco (No Ordinary Family)
Nick Swardson (Bolt)
Luciana Carro (Falling Skies)

Professional figure skating is a subject so ripe for cinematic satire that it’s truly a wonder that ‘Blades of Glory’ is first big budget comedy to exploit it. The costumes, the music, the pageantry, the preening — as much as we may watch in awe as the enormously talented athletes create magic on the ice, it’s hard not to also stifle a giggle at the grandiose excess of it all.

Much the same way he did with formula one racing in “Talladega Nights” Will Ferrell lampoons the sport to great effect with ‘Blades of Glory.’ This fantastically silly, utterly preposterous comedy was the sleeper hit of early 2007, grossing over $100 million and for once delivering all the laughs its trailers promised.

Ferrell stars as Chazz Michael Michaels, an uber-hetero world-class figure skating champion (and adult film star, but nevermind that). After a on-rink run-in with his rival, the angel-cheeked skating prodigy Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder, not straying too far from his classic ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ persona), both are stripped of their gold medals and permanently banned from men’s single competition. However, after a few desperate years stuck on the has-been, quasi-celebrity skating circuit, the two find a loophole that will allow them to qualify as the world’s first all-male pairs team.

Here is where ‘Blades of Glory’ could have simply been another of those one-joke movies — nothing more than a series of cringe-inducing homophobic barbs about how funny men in tights are. But if ‘Blades of Glory’ isn’t exactly high-brow, Ferrell and Heder find just the right tone in satirizing not “gayness,” but instead the male discomfort with the sexual stereotypes of “effeminate” sports like figure skating. Ferrell in particular creates such a hyper-masculine alpha male in Chazz — one who’s overcompensating to a ridiculous degree, that it becomes truly inspired social commentary. ‘Blades of Glory’ is actually quite astute, even sublime, in skewering male anxieties.

The film also doesn’t limit itself to obvious satire by having a field day with the highly-competitive nature of Olympic sports. Fulfilling the villain requirement are Stranz and Fairchild Van Waldenberg, a brother-sister team of rival German skaters who will do anything to defeat Chazz and Jimmy. As played by Will Arnett and Amy Poehler (who also happen to be married off-screen), they’re like Boris and Natasha on ice, twirling their mustaches as they hatch a series of increasingly bizarre schemes. It all leads to an extended chase sequence, as Stranz chases Chazz over ice, through a crowded shopping mall and finally onto the rink in a madcap bit of lunacy that is one of the movie’s highlight sequences.

If ‘Blades of Glory’ were only spandex and slapstick, however, it probably would have been nothing more than a second-rate “SNL” sketch that quickly wore out its welcome. But typical of Ferrell’s more recent penchant for humanistic comedy over sheer satire, he sets the tone for the rest of the film by plumbing some genuine (if completely ridiculous) pathos out of these larger-than-life characters. When Chazz is forced to endure a stint inside a giant furry animal costume in the kiddie spectacular “Grumlets on Ice” (a pitch-perfect parody of those awful Icecapades shows), he somehow manages to make it simultaneously sad, touching, and hilarious. Indeed, we will come to like all of the characters in ‘Blades of Glory,’ because however over-the-top they may be, there is a kernel of recognition to even their most outlandish behavior that rings true. Of course, ‘Blades of Glory’ is ultimately impervious to critical analysis, because it aims to be nothing more than just a very funny movie. It takes a sport that just cries out to be made fun of, hits the laugh bull’s-eye more than it misses.