REVIEW: RUNAWAY JURY

CAST

John Cusack (2012)
Gene Hackman (Superman)
Dustin Hoffman (Hook)
Rachel Weisz (The Bourne Legacy)
Jeremy Piven (Mr. Selfridge)
Bruce Davison (X-Men)
Bruce McGill (Timecop)
Marguerite Moreau (Wet Hot American Summer)
Nick Searcy (The Dead Girl)
Leland Orser (Taken)
Lori Heuring (8mm 2)
Joanna Going (Nixon)
Dylan McDermott (Texas Rangers)
Stanley Anderson (Red Dragon)
Celia Weston (Hulk)
Bill Nunn (Money Train)
Cliff Curtis (Blow)
Nora Dunn (Bruce Almighty)
Rusty Schwimmer (The Perfect Storm)
Jennifer Beals (The Prophecy II)
Guy Torry (American History X)
Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow)
Gary Grubbs (Angel)
Luis Guzmán (Traffic)

In New Orleans, a failed day trader at a stock brokerage firm shows up at the office and opens fire on his former colleagues, then kills himself. Among the dead is Jacob Wood. Two years later, with attorney Wendell Rohr, Jacob’s widow Celeste takes Vicksburg Firearms to court on the grounds that the company’s gross negligence led to her husband’s death. During jury selection, jury consultant Rankin Fitch and his team communicate background information on each of the jurors to lead defense attorney Durwood Cable in the courtroom through electronic surveillance. In the jury pool, Nick Easter tries to get himself excused from jury duty. Judge Frederick Harkin decides to give Nick a lesson in civic duty and Fitch tells Cable that the judge has now given them no choice, and that he must select Nick as a juror. Nick’s congenial manner wins him acceptance from his fellow jurors, but Frank Herrera, a Marine veteran, takes an instant dislike to him.A woman named Marlee makes an offer to Fitch and Rohr: she will deliver the verdict to the first bidder. Rohr dismisses the offer, assuming it to be a tactic by Fitch to obtain a mistrial. Fitch asks for proof that she can deliver, though, which Nick provides. Fitch orders Nick’s apartment searched, but finds nothing. Marlee retaliates by getting one of Fitch’s jurors bounced. Nick shows the judge surveillance footage of his apartment being searched, and the judge orders the jury sequestered. Fitch then goes after three jurors with blackmail, leading one, Rikki Coleman, to attempt suicide. Rohr loses a key witness due to harassment, and after confronting Fitch, decides that he cannot win the case. He asks his firm’s partners for $10 million. Fitch sends an operative, Janovich, to kidnap Marlee, but she fights him off and raises Fitch’s price to $15 million. On principle, Rohr changes his mind and refuses to pay. Fitch agrees to pay Marlee to be certain of the verdict.Fitch’s subordinate Doyle travels to Gardner, Indiana, where he discovers that Nick is really Jeff Kerr, a law school drop-out, and that Marlee’s real name is Gabby Brandt. Gabby’s sister died in a school shooting. The town sued the gun manufacturer and Fitch helped the defense win the case. Doyle concludes that Nick and Marlee’s offer is a set-up, and he calls Fitch, but it is too late. Nick receives confirmation of receipt of payment and he steers the jury in favor of the plaintiff, much to the chagrin of Herrera, who launches into a rant against the plaintiff, which undermines his support. The gun manufacturer is found liable, with the jury awarding $110 million in general damages to Celeste Wood. After the trial, Nick and Marlee confront Fitch with a receipt for the $15 million bribe and demand that he retire. They inform him that the $15 million will benefit the shooting victims in Gardner.This was a movie that wasn’t over-hyped, filled with talented actors and kept you watching all the way through.  Hackman was flawless as usual as an actor and once again maintained his great screen presence. Hoffman really portrayed the idealistic lawyer character well. Weisz played the female lead with the right mix of the strong and vulnerable.  The plot twists were not overdone but did offer some slight surprises which were hinted at along the way if you payed attention. Overall I’d recommend this movie to anyone, especially those who take their movies seriously

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REVIEW: IT’S COMPLICATED

CAST

Meryl Streep (The iron Lady)
Steve Martin (Cheaper By The Dozen)
Alec Baldwin (The Departed)
John Krasinki (The Office)
Lake Bell (No Strings Attached)
Mary kay Place (Being John Malkovich)
Rita Wilson (Jingle All The Way)
Hunter Parrish (Weeds)
Nora Dunn (Bruce Almighty)
Emily Kinney (Conviction)
Andrew Stewart-Jones (Gotham)
Jessica St. Clair (Bridesmaids)
Alan Cumming (Tin man)
Anne Lockhart (Buried)

Jane (Meryl Streep), who owns a successful bakery in Santa Barbara, California, and Jake Adler (Alec Baldwin), a successful attorney, divorced ten years earlier. They had three children together, two girls and a boy, who are grown. Jake, who was cheating on Jane, married the much younger Agness (Lake Bell).Jane and Jake attend their son Luke’s graduation from college in New York City. After a dinner together, the two begin an affair, which continues in Santa Barbara. Jane is torn about the affair; Jake is not. While Agness has Jake scheduled for regular sessions at a fertility clinic, Jake is secretly taking medication to increase sperm count for fertility, a side effect of which can cause dizziness. After one of his sessions he has a lunchtime rendezvous with Jane at a hotel. Jake collapses in the hotel room and a doctor is called. The doctor speculates that the reason for Jake’s distress may be the medication and says he should stop taking it. Jake and Jane’s children know nothing of the affair, but Harley (John Krasinski), who is engaged to their daughter Lauren, spots the pair and the doctor in the hotel, but keeps silent.Adam (Steve Martin) is an architect hired to remodel Jane’s home. Still healing from a divorce of his own, he begins to fall in love with Jane. On the night of Luke’s graduation party in Santa Barbara, Jane invites Adam to the party. She is stoned when he picks her up because she has smoked a marijuana joint that Jake had given her earlier. Before going into the party, Adam smokes some of the joint with Jane. Once inside, they are laughing and happily high, Jake becomes jealous observing them, and after pressing Jane, smokes some with her also.Agness then observes Jake and Jane dancing together and realizes they are having an affair. When they leave the party, Adam asks Jane if they could have something to eat. Jane takes him to her bakery and they make chocolate croissants together. Jake and Agness separate, although it is not clear who leaves whom. Eventually by a webcam in Jane’s bedroom, Adam sees Jake naked and realizes that the two have been having an affair. Adam tells Jane he cannot continue seeing her because it will only lead to heartbreak. Jane’s kids also find out, and they are not happy about Mom and Dad getting together again because they are still recovering from the divorce. Jane tells them she is not getting back with Jake. Jane and Jake talk and end their affair on amicable terms. The film ends with Adam at Jane’s house ready to commence the remodeling. Before the credits roll, Jane and Adam are seen laughing about the chocolate croissants while walking into her house.It’s Complicated couldn’t have succeeded without Nancy Meyers finally showing what good writing can do with the right people, time, and effort put into place. It’s the work of her career and she remains a dark horse for an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay. Though the film will definitely appeal to an older generation, the younger can appreciate the zeal and comical dialogue shared between the players. The film does run a bit long and loses some of it’s spark in the finale act, but it’s pure entertainment.

REVIEW: FUTURAMA – SEASON 1-4

MAIN CAST

Billy West (Duck Dodgers)
Katey Segal (8 Simple Rules)
John DiMaggio (TMNT)
Maurice LaMarche (Freakazoid)
Lauren Tom (Bad Santa)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

David Herman (Angel)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Tom Kenny (Spongebob)
Tress MacNeille (The Simpsons)
Nancy Cartwright (The Simpsons)
Dawnn Lewis (Dreamgirls)
Pamela Anderson (Baywatch)
John Goodman (10 Cloverfield Lane)
Nora Dunn (New Girl)
Kath Soucie (Rugrats)
Parker Posey (Superman Returns)
Stephen Hawking (The Big Bang Theory_
Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek)
Sarah Silverman (School of Rock)
Bea Arthur (The Golden Girls)
Jan Hooks (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Hank Azaria (The Simpsons)
Lucy Liu (Kill Bill)
Coolio (Batman and Robin)
Sigourney Weaver (Alien)
William Shatmer (Batman vs Two-Face)
Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek)
Walter Koenig (Babylon 5)
George Takei (Heroes)
Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: TNG)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: TTW)
Roseanne Barr (Roseanne)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)

Futurama is Matt Groening’s superb follow-up to The Simpsons, a cartoon that reinvented the genre. Futurama follows the very silly exploits of Fry, an intergalactic delivery boy and his human, alien, robot and other assorted weirdo friends, as they make deliverys, jump dimensions, get beaten at atomic-mutant basketball, blow up planets, have snoo-snoo, start wars, meet Al Gore and have problems tuning the television in in their new apartment.On first glance, this series bears striking similarities to its predecessor. The animation is of the same simple yet effective style (only with more 3D modelling) and the humour is in the same vein of ironic, post-modern tomfoolery.  Futurama has the same high standard of sophisticated and low-brow humour; (numerous) references to Richard Nixon and the dense symbolism of Melville’s Moby Dick sit alongside Fantastic Voyage journeys up a main character’s arse.Perhaps a major difference, that might have no importance overall, is that whereas The Simpsons is populated by either children or adults, Futurama mostly focuses on those in between those age groups. Standout characters include Zapp Brannigan, a Shatnerian, pompous buffoon, who sees himself as an intergalactic alien-killing, velour-adoring, love-making machine and Calculon, a thespian-bot whose overly dramatic pronouncements are distinctly at odds with his career in the robot soap opera `All My Circuits.’To conclude, if you enjoyed The Simpsons (but think it’s not as good as it used to be), then you will love (all four glorious series – all hail!) of Futurama. An unimaginative reviewer might write that Futurama is to The Jetsons what The Simpsons is to The Flintstones, so I’ve written it, which won’t help you to appreciate just how great Futurama is. From the fabulous retro-futurist robot designs to the scuzzy New New York labourer who deliberately ruins the veneer of `the future’ with his string vest and pot-belly, Futurama consistently hits the mark.

REVIEW: PINEAPPLE EXPRESS

CAST

Seth Rogen (50/50)
James Franco (Spring Breakers)
Danny McBride (Land of The Lost)
Kevin Corrigan (The Get Down)
Craig Robinson (This Is the End)
Gary Cole (Office Space)
Rosie Perez (The Other Guys)
Ed Begley Jr. (Veronica mars)
Nora Dunn (2 Broke Girls)
Amber Heard (Zombieland)
Joe Lo Truglio (Superbad)
Cleo King (Mike & Moly)
Bill Hader (Power Rangers)
James Remar (Gotham)
Ken Jeong (The Hangover)

In 1937, a military facility is on watch behind a two-way mirror as a soldier, smoking marijuana, begins to reveal very graphically what he hates about the army, but still remains euphoric. A high-ranking officer immediately closes the project and deems marijuana illegal. Seventy years later, Dale Denton, a 25-year-old process server and habitual marijuana smoker, makes a visit to the home of his drug dealer, Saul Silver, to buy marijuana. Saul tells him that he may already know the identity of Dale’s next customer, Ted Jones. Dale drives to Ted’s house and witnesses Ted and a police officer, Officer Carol Brazier, shoot a man to death. Dale panics and flees the area, but leaves his roach at the scene, which contains a rare strain of marijuana called Pineapple Express. Ted is able to identify the strain and sends his two henchmen, Budlofsky and Matheson to a dealer, Red, who tells them that he has only sold the pot to Saul.

Dale flees to Saul’s apartment and learns that Ted is a dangerous drug lord and could trace the roach back to Saul. Dale and Saul flee into the nearby woods while Ted’s henchmen persuade Red to arrange a meeting with Saul. They accidentally fall asleep in Dale’s car and wake up to find that they missed their meeting with Red. They leave the woods and arrive at Red’s house, hoping to determine whether Ted has linked them with the Pineapple Express. Red says Ted isn’t after them but Dale realizes that he’s lying, and starts a fight that results in Red getting knocked out. They wake Red and question him until he reveals that Ted has discovered who they are and is going to kill them. Dale and Saul decide that they must leave the city.

In order to leave town, Dale and Saul sell some Pineapple Express to raise bus fare. However, a police officer named Barber sees Dale and arrests him for selling marijuana. In the back of the cruiser, Dale tries to convince Barber that Brazier is corrupt and tells her that he witnessed her and Ted murder a man. Barber recognizes Brazier and promises him that she will investigate her soon since Barber had been long suspicious of Brazier’s corruption. However, Saul leaps out in front of the police car and hijacks it thinking that Brazier is the one driving. Brazier hears a police radio call of Dale’s arrest and pursues Dale and Saul in a high-speed chase but they manage to escape. After an argument with each other about the situation they are in, Dale and Saul go their separate ways. Saul visits his grandmother in an assisted living home, but is kidnapped and held hostage in Ted’s lair beneath a barn. Dale enlists Red to help him rescue Saul but Red unexpectedly backs out at the last minute and Dale is captured. While Dale and Saul are held hostage, they reconcile with each other and make plans to escape.

Suddenly, Asian mobsters attack the barn to avenge a fellow gangster’s death at the hands of Ted and Officer Brazier (the same murder that Dale witnessed). Dale and Saul finally free themselves but are caught by Matheson. Matheson grazes Dale’s ear with a gunshot but is disarmed and shot by Saul. Dale and Saul join the fight and a brawl ensues between Dale and Ted. When Budlofsky refuses to kill Saul, Matheson emerges from the lair and shoots him in the chest, killing him. He turns around to kill Saul but Red drives through the barn and saves Saul by hitting Matheson with his car. Red is then seemingly shot to death by Brazier. One of the mobsters activate a bomb, resulting in Ted’s death, and setting fire to the barn. When Red’s car explodes, it flips over and lands on Brazier, killing her. The explosion incapacitates Saul but Dale finds him and carries him out of the burning barn. Red, wounded but still alive, also escapes and reconciles with them. Afterwards they eat breakfast at a diner and talk about their adventure before Saul’s grandmother picks them up and takes them to the hospital.

There are a lot of reasons why Pineapple Expresswon’t work for many people, and they will probably end up being the very reasons the film works for those who like it. The film’s plot is inherently silly to an extent and one must be prepared for an outright comedy and not something in the vein of Knocked Up. Pineapple Express may end up being more enjoyable for stoners and those with friends who are stoners, but it works on its own as great comedy because the humor has much more range and scope than just marijuana. One of the best comedies in years.

REVIEW: THE NEIGHBORS – SEASON 1 & 2

MAIN CAST

Jami Getz (Twister)
Lenny Venito (The Brave One)
Simon Templeman (Lois & Clark)
Toks Olagundoye (Castle)
Clara Mamet (Bad Neighbours 2)
Tim Jo (Glory Daze)
Ian Patrick (Looper)
Max Charles (The Strain)
Isabella Crovetti-Cramp (Joy)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Megan Park (Diary of The Dead)
Doug Jones (Batman Returns)
Leslie Grossman (Popular)
Amy Farrington (Faking It)
Matthew Glave (Argo)
Meagen Fay (Agent Carter)
Maribeth Monroe (The Back-Up Plan)
Stacy Keach (Two and a Half Men)
Debra Mooney (Everwood)
Billy Malone (Sleepers)
Leslie Jordan (Ugly Betty)
Carla Renata (Hart of Dixie)
Nora Dunn (Bones)
Richard Riehle (Texas Chainsaw 3D)
Judd Nelson (The Breakfast Club)
Grant Harvey (Billy Boy)
Lora Plattner (Turkey)
Patrick Cassidy (Smallville)
Sandra Bernhard (2 Broke Girls)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
George Takei (Star Trek)
Jerry Springer (The Ringmaster)
Lucy Davis (Shaun of The Dead)
Meredith Baxter (Family Ties)
Reginald VelJohnson (Die Hard)
Jack Scalia (Red Eye)
Lori Loughlin (Full House)
Rhea Perlman (Cheers)
Rosalind Chao (Star Trek: DS9)
Candace Cameron Bure (Full House)
John Karma (Scream: The Series)
Scott Weinger (Shredder)

3rd Rock from the Sun is a tough act to follow. The Neighbors does a pretty good job, but uses wit and timing instead of zaniness and slapstick comedy to get its laughs. That makes it consistently funny, just not side-splittingly funny. Naming all of the aliens after sports heroes was an inspired choice– they’ll never run out of funny names (a tot named Dick Butkus?), and the fact that the aliens are dorky doubles down on the running gag. So are all their matching outfits/uniforms that remind us of golf clothes from the 1970s.

Also on the upside, some of the cast members are real gems. I don’t know where Toks Olagundoye has been up til now, but she’s got real movie star power as the glamorous alien mom. Her rapid fire back and forth with alien husband Simon Templeman, who has perfect comedic timing and never wastes a good line, are my favorite parts of the show. Jami Gertz and Max Charles are good enough as the earthling straight man/woman, but I think maybe too much of the plot compares their unfunny ordinariness to the aliens’ backwards/upside down view of what humanity is like. The child actors are pretty good, too, even if the show relies a little too much on alien child Ian Patrick’s precociousness. Clara Mamet is exceptional as the brooding, frighteningly calculating and cynical teenager.

I was worried that after a few episodes the running gags would wear thin and they’d run out of ideas. Not so at all! It was a series that went from strength to strength but put on in American in the Friday night death slot, so sadly only 2 seasons were made.

REVIEW: SAMANTHA WHO ? – SEASON 1 & 2

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MAIN CAST

Christina Applegate (The Sweetest Thing)
Jennifer Esposito (Summer of Sam)
Kevin Dunn (Transformers)
Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly)
Tim Russ (Star Trek: Voyager)
Barry Watson (Boogeyman)
Jean Smart (Garden State)
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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

William Abadie (The Pink Panther)
Nakia Burrise (Power Rangers Turbo)
Jessica St. Clair (Bridesmaids)
Kiele Sanchez (Lost)
Eddie Cibrian (The Cave)
Tom Lenk (Buffy)
Timothy Olyphant (Hitman)
Jerry O’ Connell (Scream Queens)
Rick Hoffman (Hostel)
Cybil Shepherd (Moonlighting)
Anthony Anderson (Transformers)
Rachel Cannon (Two and a Half Men)
Mary-Kate Olsen (Full House)
James Tupper (Revenge)
Billy Zane (Zoolander)
Greg Cipes (Teen Titans)
Florence Henderson (The Brady Bunch)
Nora Dunn (New Girl)
Angie Harmon (Agent Cody Banks)
Teddy Sears (The Flash)

What if you had the chance to start over, to do it all again? For Samantha Newly, this fantasy becomes a reality after a hit and run accident leaves her in an eight day coma. When she awakens in the hospital, she is surrounded by family and friends. The only problem is that she has no idea who they are or who she is. In medical terms, Sam has retrograde amnesia, which allows her to fully function in the world but leaves her with no personal memories. Most people would deem this disorder a curse. But Sam may come to call it a miracle. As she sets out to rediscover herself, Sam is forced to rely on the only people who can help her an eclectic bunch of friends and family. Although now strangers to Sam, it’s not long before she begins to get an idea of who she was before the accident.

Life,as we all know,can be extremely unfair at times.Samantha Who? was cancelled after just 2 seasons.

Samantha Who? is a terrific sitcom.Why was it cancelled then,i hear you cry.As i understand it,the 1st season was well received and got good ratings,all was well,but the 2nd season was for some reason buried in a bad time slot and never recovered.Also,i gather there were cost issues involved due to financial cut backs regarding the making of the programme.A real shame because this is a gem of a show with Christina Applegate outstanding as Samantha,a shallow,obnoxious,yuppie type who awakes from an 8 day coma caused by a car accident and realises that she can’t remember anything due to amnesia.

As she starts trying to put her life back together,she realises,with some horror,just what an awful person she was.Thats where the fun starts,and its to Applegates credit that,although its her characters mission to make amends and change for the better,the programme never gets too treacly or soft,partly due to the naturally mischevious look that Christina Applegate has that suggests Samantha could never be too goody-goody.The support cast is terrific,the lovely Jean Smart is wonderful as Sams amusingly uncaring mother and the fabulous Melissa McCarthy as her old friend Dena.

To sum up,this is a very funny,smartly written,well acted sitcom that should have been up there with the best of them.And,refreshingly,just like the brilliant Gilmore Girls,no laugh track,just provide your own!

REVIEW: DROP DEAD GORGEOUS

CAST

Kirsten Dunst (Spider-Man)
Denise Richards (Valentine)
Ellen Barkin (Before Women Had Wings)
Allison Janney (Mom)
Kirstie Alley (Cheers)
Sam McMurray (Addams Family Values)
Mindy Sterling (Idle Hands)
Amy Adams (Batman V Superman)
Brittany Murphy (Just Married)
Alexandra Holden (Sugar & Spice)
Patti Yasutake (Star Trek: TNG)
Adam West (Batman 60s)
Will Sasso (The Hot Chick)
Amanda Detmer (Final Destination)
Samantha Harris (CSI)
Nora Dunn (New Girl)
Mo Gaffney (That 70s Show)
Thomas Lennon (17 Again)

In 1995, Mount Rose is preparing for its annual beauty pageant. Amber Atkins (Kirsten Dunst) is an optimistic teenager who signs up to compete in the pageant so she can follow in the footsteps of her idols, Diane Sawyer, and her mother, a former contestant. Amber and her mother, Annette Atkins (Ellen Barkin), live in a small trailer near their friend Loretta (Allison Janney), in stark contrast to fellow contestant Rebecca Leeman (Denise Richards), the daughter of the richest man in town, and her mother, Gladys Leeman (Kirstie Alley), who is the head of the pageant organizing committee and also a former winner. Various business connections between the Leeman Furniture Store and the judges of the pageant cause many to speculate that the contest will be rigged or fixed.

Many odd events occur around town during the run-up to the pageant, including the death of a contestant, the athletic and competitive Tammy Curry, who is killed when her tractor explodes. Amber decides to pull out of the pageant after her mother is injured in an explosion at their mobile home but reconsiders and decides to compete to follow her dreams and make her mother proud. At the dress rehearsal, fellow contestant Jenelle Betz swaps numbers with Amber. When Jenelle walks on stage at the beginning of rehearsal, a stage light falls and hits her in the head, knocking her unconscious and rendering her deaf. Luckily, Jenelle is a master of sign language so she claims that despite dropping out of the pageant, she has never been happier.

At the pageant, Amber’s dance costume mysteriously goes missing. Amber blames Becky and the two get into a catty fight. Amber’s best friend and fellow contestant Lisa Swenson (Brittany Murphy) tears them apart. After comforting a crying Amber, Lisa drops out of the pageant in order to give her own costume to her. Amber then performs her tap-dance number to a standing ovation, while Rebecca sings a cringe-worthy rendition of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You” and dances with a life-size Jesus doll on a crucifix, both amusing and horrifying the audience. Amber is named first runner up to Rebecca, however, during the victory parade the next day, Rebecca is riding in an elaborate float made in Mexico and is killed in a freak accident involving gasoline and fire that causes a huge explosion. The grief-stricken Gladys flies into a blind rage and admits to killing Tammy and to being responsible for all the attempts against Amber in the run-up to the pageant, and is immediately arrested. Rebecca’s tragic death and Gladys’ antics leave Amber as the new pageant winner.

At the State Competition, Amber wins the Minnesota American Teen Princess title by default after all the other contestants fall ill with seafood-related food poisoning, and Amber gets an all-expenses-paid trip to the national Sarah Rose American Teen Princess Pageant. Upon arrival, Amber and the other contestants are devastated to find that the company has been shut down by the IRS for tax evasion, sending all the contestants except for Amber on a rampage, vandalizing and destroying the property.

A few years later, Gladys escapes from prison and is sniping from the top of the Mount Rose supermarket, declaring revenge on Amber. During the six-hour police standoff, a television reporter doing a live report at the scene is hit by a stray bullet. Amber quickly picks up her mic and takes over, impressing the news station with her poise and confidence. The film closes with Amber as co-anchor of the evening news for Minneapolis–St. Paul television station WAZB-TV, thus living her dream of possibly becoming the next Diane Sawyer.

A Truly underrated gem of a movie, very satirical about American culture, genuinely funny, and a must see.