REVIEW: HOLLYWOOD

Hollywood (2020)

Starring

David Corenswet (The Politician)
Darren Criss (Glee)
Laura Harrier (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Joe Mantello (Cookie)
Dylan McDermott (The PRactice)
Jake Picking (Top Gun: Maverick)
Jeremy Pope (The Ranger)
Holland Taylor (Two and a Half men)
Samara Weaving (Ready or Not)
Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)
Patti LuPone (Witness)

Samara Weaving, Avery Camp, and Laura Harrier in Hooray for Hollywood: Part 2 (2020)

Recurring / Notble Guest Cast

Maude Apatow (This Is 40)
Harriet Sansom Harris (The Lost Room)
Michelle Krusiec (The Invitation)
Queen Latifah (Taxi)
Rob Reiner (That Girl)
Mira Sorvino (Summer of Sam)
Paget Brewster (Eulogy)

Holland Taylor and David Corenswet in Outlaws (2020)Movies don’t just show us how the world is — they show us how it can be,” director Raymond Ansley (Darren Criss) argues in the new Netflix miniseries Hollywood. This isn’t just his mission statement, but that of Hollywood’s creators, Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan. The seven-episode tale is equal parts love letter to the films of the Forties and fantasy about how much more inclusive showbiz could have been back then — and how different the real world might have been as a result.Jim Parsons in (Screen) Tests (2020)We begin in postwar L.A., with Army veteran Jack Castello (David Corenswet) desperate to break into the movies by any means necessary — even working as an escort out of a gas station managed by mustachioed pimp Ernie (Dylan McDermott). “I just want to do something big, you know?” Jack insists.Darren Criss and Jeremy Pope in (Screen) Tests (2020)Big is what Hollywood aspires to as well. Jack is a straight white guy, but soon we’ve gotten to know Archie Coleman (Jeremy Pope), a gay, black aspiring screenwriter; Raymond, a half-Filipino director dating black actress Camille Washington (Laura Harrier); Avis Amberg (Patti LuPone), a silent movie star who was “a little Jewy” to make it in talkies; and an awkward, young Rock Hudson (Jake Picking), just coming to grips with his own sexuality. These outcasts and has-beens will come together (along with a pair of aging studio execs played with verve by Joe Mantello and Holland Taylor) to attempt to make a mainstream film with a black lead and screenwriter at a time when actors of color were still marginalized playing white people’s servants.Darren Criss and Laura Harrier in Jump (2020)The whole thing feels like a Douglas Sirk melodrama (the kind Hudson would become famous for a few years later) crossbred with one of those Judy Garland-Mickey Rooney films where putting on a show in the barn would fix everything, with a touch of Inglourious Basterds in how it attempts to rewrite history for the better. Hollywood is lurid and frequently works its characters into tears. But the show also wears its heart on its sleeve about how it wants the best for its own version of reality. That mashup of tones has been Murphy’s stock-in-trade since he arrived in the business with as much optimism and ambition as a Raymond or an Archie; in some projects, nothing fits together, while in others, like this, the whole is greater than the mismatched parts. At times, Hollywood feels like a really lavish prequel to Murphy and Brennan’s Glee — nobody bursts into song, but the air of unapologetic sincerity is similar. (And as Hudson’s cruel, closeted manager Henry, Jim Parsons could easily be Sue Sylvester’s favorite uncle.)Michelle Krusiec and Laura Harrier in A Hollywood Ending (2020)Sincere is the key in which Murphy’s shows are most potent. His great FX drama Pose is similarly generous toward its own marginalized heroes and heroines, while his and Brennan’s first Netflix show, the satiric The Politician, didn’t work at all because it seemed contemptuous of everyone onscreen. Hollywood can, in some scenes, come across as too arch, or like cosplay — of the younger actors, Pope and Corenswet are the two who most convincingly evoke the period. And even its revisionist version of that time skips some necessary steps. For example, everyone makes a big deal about how controversial it will be for a movie like this to star an actor of color, yet no one is concerned about the interracial relationship at the center of the film’s story.Samara Weaving and Laura Harrier in Meg (2020)But Murphy has always been better at big ideas than small details, and the sentimentality of the piece, coupled with the potency of many of the performances, after a while becomes infectious, making Hollywood’s weak spots easy to forgive. Eventually, the miniseries becomes a bit too self-congratulatory for its own good, even if its intentions are admirable. There’s talk throughout the series about how movies have the power to turn dreams into reality. (Heck, the most inspiring speech in the whole thing is delivered by the gas-station pimp!) Ultimately, Hollywood errs on the side of dreaming, but who doesn’t like to dream about a better world than the one we have?

 

REVIEW: NEW GIRL – SEASON 7

Zooey Deschanel, Max Greenfield, Hannah Simone, Lamorne Morris, and Jake Johnson in New Girl (2011)

Starring

Zooey Deschanel (Bridge to Terabithia)
Jake Johnson (Jurrasic World)
Max Greenfield (Veronica Mars)
Lamorne Morris (Game Night)
Hannah Simone (Oldboy)

Zooey Deschanel and Hannah Simone in New Girl (2011)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Nasim Pedrad (Scream Queens)
Dermot Mulroney (Young Guns)
Damon Wayans Jr.(Let’s be Cops)
Nelson Franklin (Scotty Pilgrim vs The World)
Tig Notaro (Instant Family)
David Walton (Bad Moms)
Gillian Vigman (The Hangover)
J.B. Smoove (Date Movie)
Sarah Baker (Young SheldoN)
Rob Reiner (EDTV)
Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween)
Curtis Amrstrong (American Dad)
Brian Posehn (The Big Bang Theory)
June Diane Raphael (Year One)
Zoe Lister-Jones (Arranged)

Zooey Deschanel, Max Greenfield, Hannah Simone, and Jake Johnson in New Girl (2011)Entering its final  season, ensemble comedy New Girl takes a modern look at friendship and romance, as a group of five friends attempt to find their respective places in the world, while begrudgingly accepting the responsibilities of adulthood–with often hilarious results.

Episode Highlights include

Max Greenfield and Jake Johnson in New Girl (2011)

About Three Years Later

Nick and Jess return from their European romance tour. Cece and Schmidt have issues perfecting their daughter’s birthday party. Winston struggles with picking the optimal glamour photo for him and Aly.
New Girl (2011)

Tuesday Meeting

 

Featuring fresh writing, standout performances, New Girl is just as lovable as ever! Nw Girl brings a satisfying ending to a great comedy.

New Girl (2011)

Where the Road Goes

The gang gathers for a one-year memorial service for a beloved friend. Meanwhile, Jess discovers Coach owes Nick a large sum of money.
New-Girl-7.06

Godparents

Winston and Aly choose a godparent for their baby, and Winston struggles with the reality of becoming a father. Schmidt returns to work while Cece takes her turn being a stay-at-home parent and Nick tries to make Ruth like him.
New Girl (2011)

Mario

Nick’s plan to propose to Jess is thrown off course when they decide to get a dog; Winston sees color for the first time.
Zooey Deschanel and Hannah Simone in New Girl (2011)

The Curse of the Pirate Bride

Jess makes some big decisions, in the first part of the special, one-hour series finale
Zooey Deschanel, Max Greenfield, Hannah Simone, Lamorne Morris, and Jake Johnson in New Girl (2011)

Engram Pattersky

The gang get ready to say goodbye to the loft, but Jess isn’t happy with how everyone is coping with their emotions
newgirl-ep708_sc9-ray_1203_original
Featuring fresh writing, standout performances, In New Girl’s final season  is just as lovable funny as ever, and will be a much missed show.

REVIEW: NEW GIRL – SEASON 6

Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (2011)

Starring

Zooey Deschanel (Bridge to Terabithia)
Jake Johnson (Jurrasic World)
Max Greenfield (Veronica Mars)
Lamorne Morris (Game Night)
Hannah Simone (Oldboy)

Zooey Deschanel, Max Greenfield, Hannah Simone, Lamorne Morris, and Ayden Mayeri in New Girl (2011)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Nasim Pedrad (Scream Queens)
Nelson Franklin (Scotty Pilgrim vs The World)
Curtis Amrstrong (American Dad)
Rebecca Reid (I Live With Models)
Andy Samberg (That’s My Boy)
Andre Braugher (The Mist)
Chelsea Peretti (Game Night)
Joe Lo Truglio (Superbad)
Damon Wayans Jr. (Let’s Be Cops)
Nora Dunn (Bones)
Peter Gallagher (American Beauty)
Emily Chang (The Vampire Diaries)
Lucy Punch (Bad Teacher)
Billy Gardell (Mike & Molly)
Megan Fox (Transformers)
Gillian Vigman (The Hangover)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Allegra Edwards (Upload)
David Hornsby (Minority Report)
Sonequa Martin-Green (Star Trek: Discovery)
Rob Reiner (EDTV)
June Diane Raphael (Year One)
Fred Willard (Anchorman)

Zooey Deschanel, Max Greenfield, and Hannah Simone in New Girl (2011)Entering its sixth season, ensemble comedy New Girl takes a modern look at friendship and romance, as a group of five friends attempt to find their respective places in the world, while begrudgingly accepting the responsibilities of adulthood–with often hilarious results. As the series’ fifth season came to a close, the loft-mates celebrated the wedding of Schmidt (Max Greenfield) and Cece (Hannah Simone), as Jess (Zooey Deschanel) contemplated her renewed romantic feelings toward Nick (Jake Johnson). Meanwhile, Winston (Lamorne Morris) took his pranking to a whole new level, and found himself stuck in an actual marriage, while also attempting to get his cat, Furguson, into a Hollywood blockbuster and carrying on an illicit affair with his police partner, Aly (Nasim Pedrad).Zooey Deschanel and Hannah Simone in New Girl (2011)

Highlights Include

House Hunt

Schmidt and Cece have a hard time looking for their new house. In the meantime, Jess attempts to get Nick out of her mind when he returns earlier than expected and Winston tries having a long-distance relationship with Aly.
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Max Greenfield in New Girl (2011)

Hubbedy Bubby

Jess and Cece attempt to recruit voters for the upcoming Presidential election to win a bet with Schmidt, while Nick learns the ways of modern phone sex from Winston.
Zooey Deschanel, Max Greenfield, Hannah Simone, Lamorne Morris, and Jake Johnson in New Girl (2011)

Homecoming

On a trip to New York, Jess helps detective Jake Peralta with a case and meets Captain Ray Holt and Gina Linetti at his precinct, while Nick and Winston attempt to impress Charles Boyle and Cece faces off with her mother-in-law.
Peter Gallagher and Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (2011)

Last Thanksgiving

Jess and the gang are determined to have the best Thanksgiving ever, but everything falls through when Robby shows up unexpectedly and Schmidt’s father arrives with a broken heart.
Megan Fox and Jake Johnson in New Girl (2011)

Christmas Eve Eve

Jess plays Secret Santa for the loft.
Megan Fox in New Girl (2011)

The Cubicle

Jess goes to the extremes to pay Robby’s medical bills upon learning the total.
Zooey Deschanel and Nelson Franklin in New Girl (2011)

The Hike

While on a day hike, Jess and Robby discover something unexpected about their relationship. Also, Winston throws a surprise welcome home party for Aly. Meanwhile, Schmidt and Cece fail to impress their new neighbors.
Zooey Deschanel and Max Greenfield in New Girl (2011)

Rumspringa

Nick and Schmidt take Jess on a trip to Solvang when she gets nervous about her new job as principal.
Zooey Deschanel, Max Greenfield, and Hannah Simone in New Girl (2011)

Socalyalcon VI

Jess thinks she’s been spending too much time acting like Reagan; Schmidt and Cece try to make their new home more secure; Aly tells Winston an embarrassing secret.
Zooey Deschanel and Hannah Simone in New Girl (2011)

Five Stars for Beezus

Jess prepares to tell Nick how she really feels about him. In other events, Nick has a meeting with a book publisher, Aly helps Winston reconnect with someone important and big news comes along for Schmidt and Cece.
Zooey Deschanel and Jake Johnson in New Girl (2011)
 Featuring fresh writing, standout performances, New Girl is just as lovable funny as ever!

REVIEW: NEW GIRL – SEASON 4

 

Starring

Zooey Deschanel (Bridge to Terabithia)
Jake Johnson (Jurrasic World)
Max Greenfield (Veronica Mars)
Lamorne Morris (Game Night)
Hannah Simone (Oldboy)
Damon Wayans Jr. (Let’s Be Cops)

Jessica Biel and Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (2011)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jessica Biel (Next)
Reid Scott (The Big C)
Hina Abdullah (Margaret)
Ciara Hanna (Power Rangers Megaforce)
Chasty Ballesteros (The Internship)
Kaitlin Olson (Finding Dory)
Michaela Watkins (Wanderlust)
Rob Reiner (ED:TV)
Alan Ritchson (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Julian Morris (Pretty Little Liars)
Erinn Hayes (The Watch)
Curtis Armstrong (American Dad)
Angela Kinsey (The Office)
Brian Posehn (The Big Bang Theory)
Cleo King (Mike & Molly)
Michael Stahl-David (Cloverfield)
Alexandra Daddario (Texas Chainsaw)
Amber Stevens West (22 Jump Street)
Lisa Bonet (Angel Heart)
Greta Lee (Money Monster)
Rebecca Reid (I Live With Models)
Billy Eichner (The Angry Birds Movie)
Barry Bostwick (Spy Hard)
Nasim Pedrad (Scream Queens)
Medalion Rahimi (The Catch)
Zoe Lister-Jones (Band Aid)
Sarah Burns (Life As We Know It)
Ben Falcone (Tammy)
Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween)
Justin Long (Jeepers Creepers)
Meaghan Rath (Being Human)
Josh Gad (Frozen)
Jimmy O. Yang (Fantasy Island)
Nora Dunn (Bones)
Kiersey Clemons (Dope)
Artemis Pebdani (Son of Zorn)
Jack McBrayer (30 Rock)

Max Greenfield, Damon Wayans Jr., Hannah Simone, Lamorne Morris, and Jake Johnson in New Girl (2011)Romantic relationships remain the primary concerns of Jess, her four dude roommates, and her best friend Cece (Hannah Simone). In season three, Jess and her cute slacker roomie Nick (Jake Johnson) made good on the will-they-or-won’t-they? dynamic teased in the previous seasons and are already peaceably broken up at this point. (The episode “Goldmine” nicely addresses the difficulty of getting people not to bail on dates with each of them after learning that they live in the same apartment as their ex.) At work, Jess has made it up the ranks from schoolteacher to vice principal, which is all well and good until she gets a crush on a new British teacher (Pretty Little Liars’ Julian Morris) with the saucy name Ryan Geauxinue (pronounced “Goes-In-You”); unfortunately for Jess, administrator-teacher couplings are a no-no, so she tries to ignore the hunk. (That doesn’t happen.) Nick finds Kai (Greta Lee), a lady who likes to lay about the apartment as much as himself; rookie cop Winston (Lamorne Morris) “investigates” her behavior for his roommate and decides she must be homeless. (She’s not.)Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (2011)The show’s other key couple, former-model-turned-inept-bartender Cece (Hannah Simone) and metrosexual would-be player Schmidt (Max Greenfield), continue their pas de deux; Schmidt starts off the season overwhelmingly obsessed with Cece while she just wants to move on. As the season continues, Schmidt cools it a bit and finds a way to be Cece’s friend… which, of course, just makes her remember why she liked him in the first place. Unfortunately, by this point, Schmidt has started up with manipulative, career-driven city councilwoman Fawn Moscato (Zoe Lister-Jones). Fawn’s power excites Schmidty, but is this duo built to last?Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (2011)Wayans was a “recurring” cast member in season 3, but he’s a full-fledged co-star in season four. His presence in the show — besides demonstrating that non-“niche” sitcom ensembles can have more than one black dude in them — is wonderfully layered with jock-y braggadocio, hidden tenderness, and amiable goofiness. Coach also reacts to relationship strife in the most entertaining ways possible, whether it’s emotionally breaking down as he tries to describe fertilization in a health class he’s teaching or attracting a bar full of ladies to grind up against him to the strains of Alannah Myles’s “Black Velvet.”Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (2011)That just leaves Winston, who occasionally takes a break from studying for his police exam and from being in love with his cat to try to woo a human lady. I have to admit that Winston’s decision to become a cop just keeps reminding me of the later seasons of That ’70s Show, where Kelso’s decision to join the police academy also felt fairly arbitrary and strange. This is addressed in a subplot in the episode “Par 5,” which was actually co-written by Lamorne Morris, in which the character feels forced to hide his profession when he starts dating a woman who actively protests the LAPD. This episode tries to add a little nuance and depth to Winston’s choice to be a policeman.Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (2011)For a show with so many semi-arrested characters, gaining maturity and finding worthwhile career paths are unsurprisingly also an ongoing component of the show. Jess and Winston, of course, seem like they’re right where they want to be career-wise with the vice principal and police gigs respectively. Nick continues to flounder professionally, but eventually teams up with Schmidt to start their own entrepreneurial concern, and while their first concept — a suit made out of sweatsuit material — is a dud, the show seems optimistic about them finding fulfillment in working together. Cece finally goes to college, with some financial help from Coach and Winston, who consider it an investment that they expect to see repaid. When they find out Cece uses the opportunity to take somewhat esoteric liberal arts courses, the fellas are duly perturbed.Zooey Deschanel and Julian Morris in New Girl (2011)Once again, the show opens its doors to a number of excellent guest stars, including It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Kaitlin Olson as Jess’s former classmate and potential stepmom (Rob Reiner and Jamie Lee Curtis return as Jess’s divorced parents), Jessica Biel as a romantic rival for Jess, Billy Eichner as a stressed-out, catty airport employee on Christmas, Childrens Hospital’s Erinn Hayes as a promiscuous school nurse, Lisa Bonet as the touchy-feely leader of a teachers conference, Nora Dunn as Schmidt’s overbearing mother, and on and on. Justin Long. Josh Gad. Michaela Watkins. Barry Bostwick. Sarah Burns. Kurt Braunohler. Regis Philbin. Funny people! The ensemble cast truly shines in this newest season of New Girl. Some episodes come in a little below expectations, but overall the season offers some interesting developments for the characters and oodles of great jokes. If you like the show, keep liking the show.

REVIEW: NEW GIRL – SEASON 3

Starring

Zooey Deschanel (Bridge to Terabithia)
Jake Johnson (Jurrasic World)
Max Greenfield (Veronica Mars)
Lamorne Morris (Game Night)
Hannah Simone (Oldboy)

Zooey Deschanel and Jake Johnson in New Girl (2011)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Merritt Weaver (Signs)
Dreama Walker (Compliance)
Eva Amurri Martino (Saved)
Curtis Armstronng (American Dad)
Brenda Song (Dads)
Riki Lindhome (The Lego Batman Movie)
Jon Lovitz (Happiness)
Taye Diggs (Go)
Damon Wayans Jr. (Let’s Be Cops)
Jessica Chaffin (The HEat)
Brian Posehn (The Big Bang Theory)
Bob Gunton (Daredevil)
Gillian Vigman (The Hangover)
Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween)
Ben Falcone (Enough Said)
June Diane Raphael (Year One0
Josh Gad (Frozen)
Prince (Graffiti Bridge)
Adam Brody (Jennifer’s Body)
Mary Elizabeth Ellis (Santa Clarita Diet)
Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip)
Linda Cardellini (Scooby-Doo)
Alexandra Daddario (Baywatch)
Stevie Nelson (The Mad Ones)
Kerri Kenney (Wanderlust)
Rob Reiner (EDTV)

Zooey Deschanel, Mark Proksch, Angela Kinsey, and Dreama Walker in New Girl (2011)Coach’s return was a little unexpected, there was already a great ensemble, why mess with it? For those who don’t know, Coach was one of the original characters from the pilot. Wayans’s was already cast in Happy Endings, but with Happy Endings suffering in the ratings, it was expected to be cancelled, leaving Wayans’s free to find another role. It didn’t get cancelled, and New Girl even benefited with the addition of Winston. Eventually, Happy Endings was cancelled, and Coach comes back. Coach’s return to, guess what, coaching was inspired, and his slight change in focus really benefits both him and Schmidt, as well as the show as a whole. By the end of the season, it feels like Coach has always been there!Max Greenfield and Jake Johnson in New Girl (2011)Then there is Winston. It really is a testament to Lamorne Morris’s ability as an actor and comic that he has got so much out of character that doesn’t really have much to do. I think he’s one of the least developed characters, and with so much focus on Nick & Jess, the re-introduction of Coach and Schmidt’s all round issues, he’s left to fill out episode storylines without getting much development himself. The comic relief Winston provides is necessary to balance out the drama with the other characters, but it’s a shame so much of it is just short story arcs or lasts just a single episode. If there’s any area I’d like season 4 to develop, it’s Winston. There is just too much talent and comedy to ignore.Zooey Deschanel, Max Greenfield, Damon Wayans Jr., Lamorne Morris, and Jake Johnson in New Girl (2011)New Girl continues its solid track record, producing a classic relationship season without losing the fact it’s a comedy at heart. Well executed by all involved.

REVIEW: NEW GIRL – SEASON 2

Starring

Zooey Deschanel (Bridge to Terabithia)
Jake Johnson (Jurrasic World)
Max Greenfield (Veronica Mars)
Lamorne Morris (Game Night)
Hannah Simone (Oldboy)

Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (2011)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Parker Posey (Superman Returns)
Rachael Harris (Lucifer)
Nelson Franklin (Captain Marvel)
David Walton (Bad Moms)
Raymond J. Barry (Falling Down)
Josh Gad (Murder on The Orient Express)
Kali Hawk (Bridesmaids)
Rebecca Reid (I Live With Models)
Carla Gugino (Watchmen)
Molly Cheek (American Pie)
Rob Riggle (21 Jump Street)
Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween)
Rob Reiner (This Is Spinal Tap)
Lauren Dair Owens (Astrid Clover)
June Diane Raphael (Year One)
Jeff Kober (Buffy: TVS)
Olivia Munn (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Dennis Farina (Get Shorty)
Bill Burr (Zombeavers)
Nate Corddry (Mom)
Brenda Song (Dads)
Brooklyn Decker (Battleship)
Satya Bhabha (Sense8)
Michael Vlamis (Roswell, New Mexico)
Odette Annable (Supergirl)
Margo Martindale (Sneaky Pete)
Ellen Albertini Dow (Wedding Crashers)
Nick Kroll (Sing)
Dermot Mulroney (Young Guns)
Ron Funches (Powerless)
Merritt Wever (Signs)
Johnny Pemberton (Son of Zorn)
Curtis Armstrong (American Dad)
Mary Lynn Rajskub (2 Broke Girls)
Taylor Swift (The Giver)
Ajay Mehta (Anger Management)
Ariela Barer (Runaways)

Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (2011)The first season of New Girl established the will-they-won’t-they pairing of Nick and Jess and the they-did-will-it-last coupling of Schmidt and CeCe, so the second season is all about raising the stakes for them. For Nick and Jess this takes the form of bad relationships keeping their minds off messing with the loft dynamic by dating a roommate. Though each has some legitimate opportunities for happiness, be it Jess’ commitment-phobic Dr. Sam or Nick’s sexually adventurous stripper girlfriend (played by Olivia Munn.) However knowing that there remains a chance they could end up together leads to frequent self-sabotage.Zooey Deschanel and David Walton in New Girl (2011)As much as Deschannel is the star of the show, Johnson has quietly become just as integral, as Nick grows and discovers himself, with the help of his future self and a water-massaging elderly Asian gentleman (the show can get weird sometimes.)For Schmidt and CeCe, reality is far less promising, as CeCe begins to sense her biological clock is ticking, and finds herself on a course for an arranged marriage to a pleasant man who just isn’t Schmidt. Meanwhile, the one true Schmidt seeks to alleviate the impending loss of his caramel queen by running back to his one true love, Elizabeth, a girl he dated in college, when he was hundreds of pounds heavier. It sets up a troubling love triangle, as the real Schmidt is just right for Elizabeth, but the Schmidt he wants to be is a perfect match for CeCe.Zooey Deschanel, Maria Thayer, and Jake Johnson in New Girl (2011)While there’s a grimy aspect to Schmidt keeping two women secret from each other, on the other hand, Greenfield makes it work by showing Schmidt cares about both women and is, oddly, doing it to not hurt either of them, rather than out of some sort of romantic greed. It’s an unusual situation, and one the show handles well.The focus on Schmidt and CeCe this season unleashes the show’s secret weapon, as Simone proves to be one of the most consistently funny performers in the series, popping in a look or a delivery that’s just perfect for the situation. Many of the show’s best moments this season grow out of CeCe’s on and off again connection with Schmidt, with the season’s home-stretch existing only thanks to the culture clash that grows from her arranged marriage, Part of what makes her so entertaining is how her exotic beauty gets betrayed to hilarious effect by her ability to be wonderfully silly. (The other benefit of having CeCe around is the presence of her Russian modeling pal Nadia (Rebecca Reid), who is economically hysterical, with a higher laugh to word ratio than anyone on TV.)Jamie Lee Curtis, Zooey Deschanel, Max Greenfield, and Hannah Simone in New Girl (2011)The mix in the loft is why the show works so well, as the quartet of roomies and friends behaves realistically, no matter how offbeat the situation may be or how odd the four may sometimes get. So whether it’s Schmidt feeling old thanks to some hipsters who have imoved in and befriended Jess, the exploration of the group’s most annoying aspects (a.k.a. “pogos”) or Winston struggling with his period, they mercilessly tease each other, but have each other’s back to the end. This is never more clearly illustrated than in “Virgins,” where the crew one-up each other with their horrible tales of their first sexual experiences. The way they interact is as close to real friends as anything on TV.Zooey Deschanel and Hannah Simone in New Girl (2011)With the series expanding upon the world created in the first season, we get to meet more of the people in the lives of the four roommates, and those additions were rather impressive, to go with returning speicial guests, like June Diane Raphael (playing Jess’ lesbian gynocologist.) The late Dennis Farina had a great turn as Nick’s con-man father, while Margot Martindale plays his brassy mom, Nick Kroll is his dim-witted brother and Bill Burr is his Beantown cousin. Meanwhile on Jess’ side, they snagged Rob Reiner and Jamie Lee Curtis to play her feuding parents (and Reiner should become a series regular as her dad). Add in Rob Riggle as Schmidt’s brother, Carla Gugino as his sexually-aggressive boss and Brenda Song as Winston’s new lady friend, and the show managed to cultivate a fine ensemble outside of the core five, expanding and improving the series.Zooey Deschanel, David Walton, Olivia Munn, and Jake Johnson in New Girl (2011)The natural progression of the relationships between Nick and Jess and Schmidt and CeCe, along with the changes in the world around them, made for an entertaining season that balanced silly fun with genuine emotion.

REVIEW: THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

CAST

Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception)
Jonah Hill (22 Jump Street)
Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad)
Kyle Chandler (Super 8)
Rob Reiner (New Girl)
Jon Bernthal (The Punisher)
Matthew McConaughey (EDTV)
Jon Favreau (Iron Man)
Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
Joanna Lumley (The Cat’s Meow)
Cristin Milioti (How I Met Your Mother)
Rizwan Manji (The Dictator)
Christine Ebersole (Confessions of a Shopaholic)
Shea Whigham (Agent Carter)
Katarina Cas (Danny Collins)
P. J. Byrne (Final Destination 5)
Kenneth Choi (Red Dawn)
Henry Zebrowski (Herores Reborn)
Ethan Suplee (My Name Is Earl)
Jake Hoffman (Hook)
J.C. MacKenzie (Dark Angel)
Edward Herrmann (The Lost Boys)
Jeremy Bobb (The Kitchen)

Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)In 1987, Jordan Belfort procures a job as a Wall Street stockbroker for L.F. Rothschild, employed under Mark Hanna, who quickly entices him with the sex and drugs fueled stockbroker culture and teaches him that a stockbroker’s only job is to make money for himself. Jordan soon finds his career terminated following Black Monday and takes a job at a boiler room brokerage firm on Long Island that specializes in penny stocks. Thanks to his aggressive pitching style and the high commissions, Jordan makes a small fortune.Leonardo DiCaprio, P.J. Byrne, Jonah Hill, Cristin Milioti, Henry Zebrowski, and MacKenzie Meehan in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)Jordan befriends his neighbor, Donnie Azoff, and the two found their own company. They recruit several of Jordan’s friends, whom Jordan trains in the art of the “hard sell”. The basic method of the firm is a pump and dump scam. To cloak this, Jordan gives the firm the respectable-sounding name of Stratton Oakmont. After an exposé in Forbes, hundreds of ambitious young financiers flock to his company. Jordan becomes immensely successful and slides into a decadent lifestyle full of prostitutes and drugs. He has an affair with a woman named Naomi Lapaglia. When his wife finds out, they divorce, and he marries Naomi. Meanwhile, the SEC and the FBI begin investigating Stratton Oakmont. Jordan illegally makes $22 million in three hours upon securing the IPO of Steve Madden. This brings him and his firm to the attention of the FBI. To hide his money, Jordan opens a Swiss bank account with corrupt banker Jean-Jacques Saurel in the name of Naomi’s Aunt Emma, who is a British national and thus outside the reach of American authorities. He uses the wife and in-laws of his friend Brad Bodnick, who have European passports, to smuggle the cash into Switzerland.Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)Donnie gets into a public brawl with Brad, and, while Donnie escapes, Brad is arrested. Jordan also learns from his private investigator that the FBI is wiretapping his phones. Fearing for his son, Jordan’s father advises him to leave Stratton Oakmont and lie low while Jordan’s lawyer negotiates a deal to keep him out of prison. Jordan, however, cannot bear to quit and talks himself into staying in the middle of his farewell speech. Jordan, Donnie, and their wives are on a yacht trip to Italy when they learn that Aunt Emma has died of a heart attack. Jordan decides to travel to Switzerland immediately to settle the bank account. In order to bypass border controls, he forces his yacht captain to sail to Monaco, but the ship is capsized in a storm. After their rescue, the plane sent to take them to Geneva is destroyed when a seagull flies into the engine. Jordan takes this as a sign from God and decides to sober up.Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)Two years later, the FBI arrests Jordan because Saurel, arrested in Florida on an unrelated charge, has also informed on Jordan. Since the evidence against him is overwhelming, Jordan agrees to gather evidence on his colleagues in exchange for leniency. Fed up with Jordan’s lifestyle, Naomi tells Jordan she is divorcing him and wants full custody of their children. Jordan loses his mind and tries to run off with his daughter Skylar in his car, but he ends up crashing in the driveway. The next morning, Jordan wears a wire to work but slips a note to Donnie warning him. Donnie keeps the note and rats out on Jordan to the FBI. Jordan is arrested for breaching his co-operation deal. The FBI raids and shuts down Stratton Oakmont. Despite this one breach, Jordan receives a reduced sentence for his testimony and serves three years in a minimum security prison. After his release, Jordan makes a living hosting seminars on sales technique.Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)Scorsese has always managed to elicit astounding performances from his actors, and his fifth collaboration with Leonardo DiCaprio results in one of the most charismatic, despicable, offensive and captivating characters to ever appear on screen. As financial bad boy Belfort, DiCaprio swaggers from scene to scene ingesting eye-popping amounts of narcotics, groping and fondling nearly every female within reach, and spouting more profanity in three hours than an entire season of The Sopranos. Belfort is the kind of person that any sane person would detest in real life, but thanks to Scorses and DiCaprio, we can’t take our eyes off him.

REVIEW: BATMAN: THE COMPLETE 60’S SERIES

CAST

Adam West (Family Guy)
Burt Ward (Legends of The Super Heroes)
Alan Napier (Marnie)
Neil Hamilton (Tarzan The Ape Man)
Stafford Repp (Plunder Road)
Madge Blake (The Long, Long Trailer)
Yvonne Craig (Olivia)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Frank Gorshin (Star Trek)
Jill St. John (Diamonds Are Forever)
Burgess Meredith (Rocky)
David Lewis (The Apartment0
Leslie Parrish (Sex and The Single Girl)
Cesar Romero (The Thin Man)
Nancy Kovack (Marooned)
George Sanders (All About Eve)
Anne Baxter (I Confess)
Susan Silo (James Bond JR)
David Wayne (The Andromeda Strain)
Malachi Throne (Catch Me If You Can)
Myrna Fahey (House of Usher)
Julie Newmar (Mckenna’s Gold)
Ziva Rodann (Forty Guns)
Victor Buono (Beneath The Planet of The Apes)
Olan Soule (The Toweing Inferno)
Francine York (The Family Man)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
Sherry Jackson (Brenda Starr, Reporter)
Julie Gregg (The Godfather)
Barbara Nichols (Where the Boys Are)
Art Carney (Last Action Hero)
Van Johnson (The Caine Mutiny)
Phyllis Diller (A Bug’s Life)
Sid Haig (The Devil’s Rejects)
Michael Pataki (Rocky 4)
Bruce Lee (Enter The Dragon)
Van Williams (Surfside 6)
Shelley Winters (Alfie)
Walter Slezak (Lifeboat)
Vincent Price (Edward Scissorhands)
Liberace (Another World)
Woodrow Parfrey (Dirty Harry)
Otto Preminger (Anatomy of Murder)
Carolyn Jones (The Addams Family)
Cliff Robertson (Spider-Man)
Ted Cassidy (Genesis II)
Maurice Evans (Rosemary’s Baby)
Donna Loren (Dr. Kildare)
Michael Rennie (The Day The Earth Stood Still)
James Brolin (Hotel)
Lesley Gore (The Pied Piper of Astroworld)
Bob Hastings (batman: TAS)
Roger C. Carmel (Star Trek)
Alex Rocco (The Simpsons)
Seymour Cassel (Rushmore)
Diane McBain (Thunder Alley)
Lee Meriwether (Barnaby Jones)
Grace Lee Whitney (Star Trek)
Tristram Coffin (Adventures of Superman)
Tallulah Bankhead (A Royal Scandal)
Kathleen Crowley (Target Earth)
Eli Wallach (The Holiday)
Elisha Cook Jr. (Rosemary’s Baby)
Billy Curtis (High Plains Drifter)
Joan Collins (Dynasty)
Linda Gaye Scott (The Party)
Ethel Merman (Call Me Madam)
Gary Owens (That 70s Show)
John Astin (The Addams Family)
Milton Berle (Hey, Abbott!)
Glynis Johns (Mary Poppins)
Rudy Vallee (Sunburst)
Eartha Kitt (Holes)
Barbara Rush (When Worlds Collide)
Dina Merrill (Caddyshack II)
Linda Harrison (Planet of The Apes)
Ida Lupino (High Sierra)
Howard Duff (Kramer vs Kramer)
Zsa Zsa Gabor (Jack of Diamonds)
Jane Wald (Girl Talk)
Angela Greene (The King of Bandits)
Norman Alden (Back to The Future)
Jack Kelly (Forbidden Planet)
Shelley Winters (Lolita)
Walter Slezak (Lifeboat)
Vincent Price (Edward Scissorhands)
Estelle Winwood (The Producers)
Joan Staley (Broadside)
John Mitchum (Dirty Harry)
Sharyn Wynters (Westworld)
Terry Moore (Mighty Joe Young)
Rob Reiner (This is Spinal Tap)
Deanna Lund (Hammerhead)
Stanley Adams (Star Trek: TOS)
Meg Wyllie (The Last Starfighter)
Lisa Seagram (Caprice)

This is the show that set the tone for the Batman franchise for decades, good and bad, as its indelible mark is hard to erase. The power of the show is in how iconic it was, with every element so vibrant that it’s impossible to forget. Yes, it had the advantage of being the first modern-era mass-media representation of the character, and it also basically had the stage to itself forever, but there was so many memorable ingredients that made it the definitive Batman for generations. First among those were the performances of Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin. Playing it completely straight–West with thoughtful gravitas, Ward with youthful enthusiasm–these actors kept the show from descending into parody. The world may be crazy, but our heroes remain vigilant defenders and detectives. The contrast makes their square-jawed heroics comedic, and the effect is enhanced when things get unusual like seeing Batman dance or surf, or when the Dynamic Duo are chilling out in the Batmobile eating burgers.
The structure of the series, which leans heavily on the style of the old serials and a well-defined formula, was also a big reason for the show’s success and long-lasting legacy. During the first two seasons, stories were split over two half-hour episodes, shown twice a week. The first episode would always end with Batman and Robin on the edge of destruction in some sort of insane death-dealing set-up, with the now classic refrain “same Bat-time, same Bat-channel” reminding viewers to come back to see the story’s weekly conclusion. These cliffhangers, along with the emphatic narration, the atmospheric music, the wonderfully detailed sets and costumes and the choreographed fight scenes, which feature the show’s famous “Pow!” and “Bam” visual sound effects, all serve to create a larger-than-life adventure series that’s great fun to watch.
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Though West doesn’t appreciate the show being described as campy, it’s hard to think of a word that fits the series better. The thing is, you have to separate the ideas of bad and camp. Camp doesn’t have to be bad. It just has to be absurdly silly. So much of the show is obviously aiming for comedy, be it the way Batman solves impossible clues impossibly quick, the goofy names of the bad guys’ labeled henchmen, the villains’ strange obsession with personal branding, the overly literal signs seen all over the place, or the strangely specific gadgets Batman always has at the ready. I mean, really…an empty alphabet soup bat-container? Then there are the overtly humorous parts, like the cameos when Batman and Robin climb up the sides of buildings, which feature celebrity cameos from Sammy Davis Jr., Don Ho, Santa Claus and Lurch from The Addams Family. Elements like this earn plenty of chuckles throughout the series, but they don’t take away from the fun of the action or the crime-fighting plots. They also serve to make for what might be the most accessible Batman ever; enjoyable for young and old alike.
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The show burned brightly, but only for three seasons, crashing hard considering the show’s immense popularity. Perhaps it was overexposure due to the twice-a-week schedule, with 58 episodes in season two, but the show was definitely showing signs of slowing down in the final season before cancellation, including mostly eliminating the cliffhanger, instead linking episodes via a coda at the end. Whether it was an artistic choice or otherwise, the weird way the show started to use “suggested sets,” in which parts of a set were placed in an otherwise black room to create the idea of the setting, made it seem like something had changed for the worse. Another major change in the third season also stood out somewhat negatively, as Yvonne Craig’s Batgirl (the crime-fighting alter-ego of police commissioner Gordon’s daughter Barbara) was added to the show as a regular. She didn’t bring a great deal to the party though, outside of a great costume design, as she often needed saving as much as she helped the team.
The other issue with Batgirl was she was further evidence of the show being a product of its time, as, in addition to the clothes, sets and language all being heavily dated to the ‘60s (especially in the third run), sexism is rampant throughout the series, whether display via the eye-candy molls of the villains or the drooling narration for the new distaff member of the Bat-team. The portrayal of women is pretty much entirely negative in the show, with flippant remarks about the vanity of women or their value, while one villain, Nora Clavicle, is actually a women’s rights activist, who replaces the police force with women, who are only interested in coupons and recipes. The rampant misogyny is odd considering the show was progressive enough to have an interracial flirtation between West’s Batman and Kitt’s Catwoman. Though the Caped Crusader and the Boy Wonder are obviously the stars of the show, the villains are what defines the series, as has always been the case with Batman. In addition to his traditional rogues gallery, including Joker, Riddler, Penguin and Catwoman, this series introduced a number of freshly-minted felons, some of which eventually were incorporated into the comic books, like Victor Buono’s over-acted King Tut. The oft-ridiculous nature of these baddies, which were often created to give big celebrities of the day a chance to play, like Zsa Zsa Gabor’s Minerva, Milton Berle’s Louie the Lilac or Liberace’s Fingers, was a big part of why the show was viewed as campy.
As goofy as the new creation were, the originals were wonderfully evil, especially Cesar Romero’s Joker, Frank Gorshin’s Riddler and Julie Newmar’s Catwoman (though that shouldn’t take anything away from Eartha Kitt’s purr-fect turn in the cat suit in the show’s third season.) These three each brought something special to the show, be it Romero’s manic glee, Gorshin’s dark intensity or Newmar’s unrestrained sensuality. The problem with having the villains be such a focal point of the show is it makes the series uneven, as a weak villain, like Van Johnson’s Minstrel or Maurice Evans’ Puzzler, usually makes for a weak episode. The exception to that rule would have to the two-part “A Piece of the Action”/”Batman’s Satisfaction”, which had a terrible nemesis in the stamp-forging Colonel Gumm, but which is great fun because of a crossover with The Green Hornet, which meant Van Williams and Bruce Lee were on hand for twice the crime-fighting action. Just seeing Lee on Batman was great, but having two masked heroes and their rich alter-egos interacting without each other knowing made for a fun twist on the heroes.

Looking at the set as a whole, it’s easy to wonder why the first 12 discs are extras-free. There’s not a commentary to be found. Considering how long the wait has been, and how influential and popular the show is, you’d think there would be plenty of people that would want to sit down and talk about this show. It’s bad enough that the lengthy delays have resulted in many of the cast and creators passing before its release, but to not have any contemporary perspectives is just doubling down on this problem. There’s also the fact that two separate releases of bonus content that have been released in the past, “Holy Batmania!,” which offered four documentaries on the series, and “Adam West Naked,” a collection of recollections produced by West himself. Some of this contest should have been included on the third disc of season three, which has just two 30 minute episodes. What’s worse is Warner Brothers is offering “Adam West Naked” as part of an odd package online that includes the first 64 episodes, the Batman ‘60s movie and some ephemera.
Thankfully the 13th disc fills in a lot of the gaps holding all of the set’s bonus content, most of which is courtesy of master extra maker Alexander Gray, who has produced and directed this kind of material for loads of DC-related DVDs. It all starts with “Hanging with Batman” (29:56), which focuses on West, looking at his life, from his childhood to his acting career, with plenty of time on his experiences as Batman and the legacy of that performance. The piece, which is loaded with archival photos and video, isn’t fluffy in any way, touching on some of the darker moments of West’s life, including controversy that surrounded him at his peak as a star and his personal and professional struggles in the wake of the show’s cancellation and the character’s rebirth with the Tim Burton movies. An excellent profile of a charismatic man with an interesting life.
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“Holy Memorabilia, Batman!” (29:59) looks at the fans, a few in particular, and the collecting that sprung up around the show, including the key pieces and the process of acquiring them. With Toy Hunter’s Jordan Hembrough providing expert (and some personal) perspective, the featurette checks out the collections of actor Ralph Garman (Family Guy, the Hollywood Babble-On podcast) and Guinness record-holder Kevin Silva, as well as the work of Mark Racop, who builds replica Batmobiles. The Garman segments also feature a visit by West to check out (and even try on) the goods, and the result is an excellent look at a side product of the series.
An odd inclusion is “Na Na Na Batman” (12:15) which features a huge roster of producers and directors from Warner Brothers-produced series talking about the Batman series, including their memories of watching the show (if they are old enough) along with the costumes and villains. The connection to the show for most of these participants, which include Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, Mike O’Malley, Stephen Amell, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins and Jensen Ackles, is beyond tangential, which coats the whole piece with a sheen of promotion, but if you’re a fan of shows like Supernatural, Arrow, The Following and The Mentalist, perhaps you’ll enjoy these worlds crashing together. Wedged in here with all these people is West and Burt Ward, bringing things back to center a bit.
The point of “Batmania Born!” (29:41) isn’t entirely clear, as it can get a bit scattered in terms of the subject matter, but it seems to mainly talk about the look of the series, and mainly features the voices of people from the world of comic books and related TV series, though some production design and costuming people sneak in as well to discuss the visuals of Batman, including the influences of the comic books, the animated opening, the tights and, most interestingly, the negative effect the show had on comic books in the larger world of entertainment. Among those sitting down to chat are Jim Lee, Bruce Timm and Julie Newmar, long with archival clips of Cesar Romero and Frank Gorshin, making this catnip for comics fans. Lee and Garman return in “Bats of the Round Table” (45:08), joining Batman superfan Kevin Smith and actor Phil Morris (Smallville), as they sit down for a meal with West. Unsurprisingly, the chat is dominated by Smith–a natural conversationalist–but they all chime in at some point, peppering West with questions and actually getting some interesting answers, including talk about dealing with a difficult Otto Preminger, who West’s favorite guest star and favorite Catwoman was, life on the set and a fun story about Ward and Bruce Lee. One wonders how the mostly unconnected Morris got in on this group (though he does have a Batman story of his own to share), but they all interact well in a smooth-flowing get-together. The ending may be slightly cheesy, but it’s a satisfying featurette.
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Though there are no commentaries in this set, there are two pseudo-commentaries, in the form of the two-part “Inventing Batman: In the Words of Adam West.” These pieces, which run a total of 59:08, feature West, in occasional picture-in-picture appearances, reading excerpts from his shooting scripts for “Hi Diddle Riddle” and “Stuck in the Middle” while the episodes play. There’s a tremendous amount of dead air (probably more than half the episodes are just the original audio), which may explain the lack of commentaries, but it’s great when West shares the notes he made on the script during the production process and his thought process for the character.
The bonuses wrap up with a quartet of rarities, which are mostly great to check out. First up is the 7:54 pilot for Batgirl. This never-aired “episode” was intended to show the character could work, in advance of her introduction in Batman’s third season. This compact adventure, which features Batgirl fighting Killer Moth and his gang alongside the Dynamic Duo in a library, feels just like the Batman series, complete with the “Pow!”s, but with a lot more sexism, courtesy of the narrator and Batman himself. Today, it’s really kind of creepy.
Also included are a pair of screen tests for the show, which are truly fascinating. First up is West and Ward (6:16), in a proto-Wayne Manor and the Batcave, doing a pair of scenes, following by a brief tumbling and karate demonstration by Ward and some silent footage of the pair in the ‘Cave. The performances were so fully formed right off the bat (no pun intended) that it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the roles. That’s solidified when you see Lyle Waggoner and Peter Deyell try out for the parts (4:23), doing the same roles on the same sets, with the same sketchy costumes. Robin is more childish in Deyell’s performance, while Waggoner doesn’t bring the same measured intensity as West. Watching it though, allows you to picture an entirely different history for Batman.
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The final entry is a James Blakely Tribute (2:24). The title is a bit misleading, as it’s just a clip of Blakely, post-production supervisor on the show, discussing the story of the series’ development and the idea of editing in the show’s iconic sound-effects graphics. It’s not really a tribute in the traditional manner.
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It’s only natural that waiting so long for these episodes to arrive on home video has made expectations unmeetable, but between the wonderfully silly show, the quality of the presentation and the excellent extras that actually have been included, this set is one all Batman fans will want to own.

REVIEW: SANDY WEXLER

CAST

Adam Sandler (Jack & Jill)
Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls)
Kevin James (Paul Blart)
Terry Crews (White Chicks)
Shad Gaspard (Borden!)
Rob Schneider (The Hot Chick)
Colin Quinn (Trainwreck)
Nick Swardson (Grown Ups 2)
Lamorne Morris (New Girl)
Jane Seymour (Wedding Crashers)
Rob Reiner (This Is Spinal Tap)
Luis Guzmán (Traffic)
Jackie Sandler (Spanglish)
Chris Elliott (How I Met Your Mother)
Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes)
Richard Lewis (Blunt Talk)
Allen Covert (Big Daddy)
Kate Micucci (The Big Bang Theory)
Jason Priestley (Tru Calling)
Janeane Garofalo (Wet Hot American Summer)
Kevin Nealon (Weeds)
Pauly Shore (Encino Man)
Dana Carvey (Waynes World)
Chris Rock (Dogma)
Allegra Edwards (Upload)
David Spade (8 Simple Rules)
George Wendt (Sabrina: TTW)
Henry Winkler (Happy Days)
Jon Lovitz (The Simpsons)
Mike Judge (King of The Hill)
Weird Al Yankovic (Spy Hard)

Sandy Wexler stars Adam Sandler as a talent manager working in Los Angeles in the 1990s. He is representing a group of eccentric clients on the fringes of show business. His devotion is put to the test when he falls in love with his newest client, Courtney Clarke, a tremendously talented singer who he discovers at an amusement park. Over the course of a decade, the two of them play out a star- crossed love story. I honestly think Sandy Wexler had potential. Adam Sandler was…actually pretty good. The all around acting was actually pretty great! One of the things that originally turned me off of this movie originally was Sandler’s voice. I mean, it worked in one movie, dude! The voice wasn’t too annoying..you can actually get used it after a while. Though, being a movie critic, I did notice this movie was edited terribly. There’s this one scene where Sandy is talking to Courtney. He picks up his drink, and in the next shot it disappears. It is also blatantly obvious Sandler did some voice overs on his already completed scenes. There’s parts where you can see his lips moving, but words are coming out faster.There are actually a few funny parts! It’s not painful in the way Jack and Jill was. Like many of Sandler’s movies, there are way too many celebrity appearances. Some of these include Quincy Jones, Paul Blart..I mean…Kevin James, David Spade, Conan, Jimmy Kimmel, Chris Rock, Quincy Jones, Vanilla Ice, Terry Crews, Rikishi, Weird Al, and Garth himself, Dana Carvey. The movie is full of cameos like these. Though, they all come together in the end. At times, Kevin James’ character feels way too forced. Compared to Wexler’s other clients, he wins the most on-air time. Sure, the first few scenes with him were funny, but by 2 scenes of James’, you think ‘How many times are they going to pull the same dumb joke?’ The movie did benefit from being on Netflix, and not an actual movie. Sandler’s past few movies bombed, and this would’ve, too.efe3323e191a1e0c863a2811bf9a80b137d0e463The movie is set in the 90’s, but it didn’t need to be. The 90’s aspect is so forgettable, when there could’ve been so much more to it! Though, there is a scene where Courtney falls in love with a coffee chain owner (Starbucks), and Sandy says it will never work. With the inclusion of Weird Al and Quincy Jones, this movie would be better set in the 80’s, not 90’s. It did have nice use of older footage. For example, Courtney goes to the 1995 Grammy Awards. We see shots from other artists from the original show.jennifer-hudson-and-adam-sandlerSandy Wexler accomplished its job: a forgettable comedy. Sure, it’s enjoyable, but at over 2 hours long, you almost want it to end halfway through. The movie really does pick up by the end.

REVIEW: THIS IS SPINAL TAP

CAST

Michael McKean (1941)
Christopher Guest (Little Shop of Horrors)
Harry Shearer (The Simpsons)
Rob Reiner (EdTV)
June Chadwick (V: The Series)
Ed Begley Jr (Veronica Mars)
Fran Drescher (Picking Up The Pieces)
Patrick Macnee (The Avengers)
Dana Carvey (Waynes World)
Julie Payne (Wizards and Warriors)
Billy Crystal (City Slickers)
Paul Benedict (The Goodbye Girl)
Howard Hesseman (Halloween II)
Joyce Hyser (The Flash 90s)
Anjelica Huston (The Addams Family)
Fred Willard (Anchorman)
Brinke Stevens (Die Sister, Die!)

This is Spinal Tap is presented as a serious rock documentary, purportedly filmed and directed by the fictional Marty Di Bergi (Rob Reiner, who was also the actual director of the movie). The faux documentary covers a 1982 United States concert tour by the fictional British rock group “Spinal Tap” to promote their new album Smell the Glove, interspersed with Di Bergi’s one-on-one interviews with the members of the group and footage of the group from previous periods in their career.

The band was started by childhood friends, David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean) and Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest), during the 1960s. Originally named “The Originals”, then “The New Originals” to distinguish themselves from an existing group of the same name,[5] they settled on the name “The Thamesmen”, finding success with their skiffle/rhythm and blues single “Gimme Some Money”. They changed their name again to “Spinal Tap” and enjoyed limited success with the flower power anthem “Listen to the Flower People”. Ultimately, the band became successful with heavy metal and produced several albums. The group was joined eventually by bassist Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer), keyboardist Viv Savage (David Kaff), and a series of drummers, each of whom mysteriously died in odd circumstances, including spontaneous human combustion, a “bizarre gardening accident” and choking to death on the vomit of unknown person(s); their current drummer is Mick Shrimpton (R. J. Parnell). 

Di Bergi’s interviews with St. Hubbins and Tufnel reveal that they are competent composers and musicians, but are dimwitted and immature. Tufnel, in showing his guitar collection to Di Bergi, reveals an amplifier that has volume knobs that go to eleven; when Di Bergi asks, “Why don’t you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?” Tufnel can only reply, “These go to eleven.” Tufnel later plays a somber quasi-classical music composition on piano for Di Bergi, claiming it to be a “Mach piece” (a hybrid between Mozart and Bach), before revealing the composition to be entitled “Lick My Love Pump”.

As the tour starts, concert appearances are repeatedly canceled because of low ticket sales. Tensions continue to increase when several major retailers refuse to sell Smell the Glove because of its sexist cover art and there is growing resentment shown towards the group’s manager Ian Faith (Tony Hendra). Tufnel becomes even more perturbed when St. Hubbins’ girlfriend Jeanine (June Chadwick)—a manipulative yoga and astrology devotee—joins the group on tour, begins to participate in band meetings, and attempts to influence their costumes and stage presentation. The band’s distributor, Polymer Records, opts to release Smell the Glove with an entirely black cover without consulting the band. The album fails to draw crowds to autograph sessions with the band.

To revive interest, Tufnel suggests staging a performance of “Stonehenge”, an epic song that is to be accompanied in concert by a lavish stage show, and asks Ian to order a giant Stonehenge megalith for the show. However, Tufnel, rushing a sketch on a napkin, mislabels its dimensions, using a double prime symbol instead of single prime. The resulting prop, seen for the first time by the group during a show, is only 18 inches high (instead of the intended 18 feet), making the group a laughingstock on stage. The group accuses Faith of mismanagement, and when St. Hubbins suggests Jeanine should co-manage the group, Faith quits in disgust.

The tour continues, rescheduled into smaller and smaller venues. Tufnel becomes marginalized by Jeanine and St. Hubbins. At their next gig (at a United States Air Force base near Tacoma, Washington) Tufnel is upset by an equipment malfunction and leaves the group in the middle of a show. In their next gig, in an amphitheater at an amusement park in Stockton, California, they find that Nigel’s absence severely limits their repertoire. They are forced to improvise a fusion-esque, experimental song entitled “Jazz Odyssey”, which is poorly received. At the last show of the tour, the remaining group considers retirement and venturing into forgotten side projects such as a musical theatre production on the theme of Jack the Ripper entitled Saucy Jack, and acoustic pieces with the London Philharmonic. Just before they go on stage, Tufnel reappears and informs them that he is “a messenger” from Ian Faith and the Spinal Tap song “Sex Farm” is wildly popular in Japan; in fact it has reached number 5 in the charts there. He then tells St. Hubbins that Faith would like to arrange a new tour in that country. St. Hubbins is initially cool to the idea, but later on during their show, St. Hubbins convinces Tufnel to join them on stage, reuniting the band. With Faith as manager once again, and despite losing their drummer Mick as he inexplicably explodes onstage, the film ends with Spinal Tap playing a series of sold-out arena shows for enthusiastic fans on their Japanese tour.

Spinal Tap gives you the absurdity of the rock and roll world, yet still respects the music. Overall this is a great film