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The Lone Ranger (film)

The Lone Ranger is a 2013 Disney movie about a masked vigilante and his Indian friend. The Lone Ranger is a classic character appearing in radio serials, comic books, and TV shows. Disney brings him back to the big screen for the first time in 32 years. But this is 2013, and nobody bothered to tell them that nobody cares about such an outdated character. This movie just came out and the studio is already admitting that it’s a box office bomb. I don’t know how they finally realized that it sucks. I could tell from the trailer that it was going to suck. The sad thing is that hundreds of people wasted years of their lives working on this film and not one of them realized that it was simply a terrible, terrible idea. I don’t even know anybody who saw it. I didn’t even see it. I just know that I don’t like it.

Armie Hammer “stars” as the Lone Ranger, but he doesn’t even get top billing. He doesn’t even get his own poster. Instead the studio advertised the film as The Lone Ranger staring Johnny Depp as the Lone Ranger’s Indian friend. I can’t believe that major Hollywood studios are still making movies with white actors playing minorities in 2013. It’s pretty racist and it’s pretty insulting to the audience. Johnny Depp is again reunited with Gore Verbinski, the director of Pirates of the Caribbean 1-3 and Rango. Does Tim Burton know that Johnny Depp is cheating on him? And making inferior movies?

So it’s not really fair for me to write a review about a movie that I didn’t see and probably will never see, but I had to write about something. If you liked this movie, I’d be shocked. Not because of your awful taste in movies, but because you actually paid money to watch it.

Critically Rated at 3/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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The Hangover Part III

I really wasn’t planning on seeing The Hangover Part III but it was raining and every other movie was sold out. So I shrugged my shoulders and bought a ticket, thinking it couldn’t be as bad as the Part II. And it wasn’t. I actually liked the movie and think it’s pretty funny. It’s not as good as the original, it’s not as quotable, and it’s not as memorable, but at least they changed the formula and tried something new. Part II was just a clone of the first one and should be ignored. Part III is the true sequel.

            The original cast is back, as is writer and director Todd Phillips. The only person missing is Mike Tyson. The biggest difference between this one and the first two is that that there is no actual hangover until the very end, and the main focus is on Alan and Chow (Zach Galifianakis and Ken Jeong), instead of focusing on the Wolf Pack. Chow does some truly ridiculous things, and Zach Galifianakis is goofy and awkward and just looking at him makes you laugh. They drive the plot and get all the good lines. Ed Helms has a few good bits, but his best moment comes during the credits. Bradley Cooper is there the whole time, but he doesn’t do anything significant to advance the plot. And Justin Bartha is once again MIA once the story gets rolling.

Melissa McCarthy has a small role as a potential love interest for Alan. They have great chemistry and their love connection was one of the true highlights of the film. My favorite moment of the whole movie was the tender reunion between Alan and little baby Carlos, who is no longer a baby. It was hilarious and touching at the same time, another of the few scenes that elevate the quality of the movie.

            This is not a perfect sequel, but it’s way better than Part II. It’s a decent way to wrap up the franchise. You might not care about the sequels, but you still care about the characters and it’s a satisfying way to end their story. It’s tough to say that I recommend this movie… but if you were on the fence about seeing it, it’s worth it.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Karaoke

Karaoke is an ancient Japanese word that means amateur singing fueled by alcohol. It’s a great way to embarrass yourself or delude yourself into thinking you’re a rock star. You go into a karaoke bar, you choose a random song, the DJ calls your name, the music starts, the lyrics show up on a TV screen, and you stumble your way through it. People either cheer you or jeer you. You should be too fucked up to know either way. You have to choose a song that you know all the words to and something that’s fun to sing… that’s why you hear so many songs by Journey and Queen. It’s not karaoke until someone belts out Don’t Stop Believin’ or Bohemian Rhapsody. Some people take karaoke way too seriously. Those people are losers. Karaoke is supposed to be fun and freeing, like singing in the shower (only fully clothed and less damp). You haven’t truly lived until you’ve sung a song in front of a group of strangers. Get on it.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Grandma’s Boy

Grandma’s Boy is a stoner comedy flick produced by Happy Madison, Adam Sandler’s production company. It stars Allen Covert, the guy who plays Adam Sandler’s friend in a bunch of Adam Sandler movies. Luckily this movie doesn’t have Adam Sandler in it. Allen Covert stars as Alex, a 35-year-old stoner who works as a videogame tester. He’s kind of a slacker but he gets shit done. He gets kicked out his apartment one day and ends up living with his grandma and her two roommates out of necessity, all while dealing with a major videogame deadline at work and trying to start a relationship with the new office hottie (played by Linda Cardellini).

There really is a plot, but there’s not much of one. Throughout the movie Alex is working on his own game in his spare time. Then his creepy/loser boss steals it and claims it as his own. Alex has to prove that it’s his, and his grandma ends up saving the day by beating the thief in the game, thus proving that her grandson created it. There are lots of cameos and a pretty recognizable cast. Doris Roberts plays Grandma Lily and Shirley Jones and Shirley Knight play her elderly roommates. Kevin Nealon, Nick Swardson, Jonah Hill, David Spade, Rob Schneider, Joel Moore, and a few others play supporting roles or pop up randomly.

My biggest beef with the film is with Dante the Dealer, played by Peter Dante. This movie has a lot of characters and some slightly exaggerated stereotypes, but Dante is too over the top. He orders lions and karate monkeys and is loud and obnoxious. There is no marijuana dealer in the world that acts like him. Maybe the producers are confusing meth heads with stoners, but there’s really no excuse for such a bloated and unfunny caricature of a character. A lot of his jokes aren’t funny; it’s just a set up with no punch line. He drags down the movie in every scene that he’s in, like a live action Jar Jar Binks.

This is a pretty decent comedy. It’s probably the best Happy Madison movie that doesn’t star Adam Sandler. Allen Covert usually plays supporting roles but he proves he can also carry a picture. Grandma’s Boy tanked at the box office, but it has potential to be a cult classic. Check it out if you like stoner comedies, it’s one of the better ones.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story is a Judd Apatow comedy about a fictional singer named Dewey Cox. John C. Reilly plays Dewey Cox, a gifted but dimwitted musician trying to create his masterpiece, a song that sums up everything he’s learned about life. It’s pretty much a direct parody of Walk the Line, but it also spoofs biopics in general.

Walk Hard begins with little Dewey Cox accidently cutting his brother in half, and his father spends the next few years reminding him that “the wrong kid died.” This childhood trauma propels Dewey’s desire to prove that he’s worth something and win his father’s approval. He’s a natural at the guitar and soon begins his rise to the top. The film follows Dewey’s life as a rockstar: meeting women, having kids, doing drugs, going to rehab, changing his sound to reflect the current decade, all that fun stuff.

The humor is not for everyone. I know people who can’t make it five minutes into the film without turning it off. Personally, I think it’s one of the funniest movies of the last ten years. There are a lot of absurd moments and intentionally horrible casting, but John C. Reilly is able to make Dewey seem like a real person. His lyrics might be stupid, but to him they’re sincere and more importantly they are consistent to his character. He’s a poet who uses terrible metaphors and believes in what he thinks he knows. And John C. Reilly actually sang all his songs.

There’s a great supporting cast and tons of cameos: Jenna Fischer, Kristen Wiig, Tim Meadows, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, Jack Black, Justin Long, David Schwartzman, Frankie Muniz, Jack White, Eddie Vedder, the Temptations… the list goes on and on. I like this movie a lot. I still quote this movie more than I should. And I also bought the soundtrack. The iTunes exclusive extended edition in fact. I don’t regret it.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Overnight (documentary)

Overnight is a 2003 documentary about the fast rise and quicker fall of Troy Duffy, the writer and director of The Boondock Saints. It’s almost like a real life episode of Entourage; you get to see how Hollywood works. And there’s a whole lot of backstabbing and ego trips. Tony Montana and Mark Brian Smith take you behind the scenes to show you the dark side of movie making.

Troy Duffy was a virtual unknown, just a bartender from Boston that played in a band and wrote on the side. Somehow Harvey Weinstein and Miramax found out about him and a script called The Boondock Saints. They bought his script, they named him the director (despite never making a movie before or going to film school), and even gave his band a recording contract. Troy Duffy became one of the biggest sensations in Hollywood overnight.

But then the politics and reality of filmmaking start to present themselves. Making a Hollywood movie is not easy. And Troy Duffy is a difficult guy to work with. He is arrogant and argumentative and grows more and more frustrated as preproduction keeps getting delayed. His business and personal relationships start to flounder as he spirals out of control; he goes from being the toast of the town to the butt of jokes. Eventually his film gets made, but both him and the movie are blacklisted from Hollywood. You can achieve success overnight, but you can lose it all before breakfast time. This documentary about the making of The Boondock Saints is more memorable and entertaining than the film that inspired it.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Spoilers

You’re looking forward to that new TV episode or blockbuster sequel to your favorite movie, you’re so excited and the anticipation is through the roof… and then you go on Facebook and see half a dozen spoilers and everything is seemingly ruined. Fucking spoilers. The weird thing is that people love spoilers almost as much as they hate them. They want to know that Harrison Ford is in the new Star Wars movie but they don’t want to know what he does. Spoilers are inevitable. As soon as someone sees something they want to talk about it, it doesn’t matter who is listening. The Internet makes it even easier to make people listen to what they don’t want to hear. I didn’t mean to tell you that Bruce Willis was dead the whole time, it just slipped out. Get over it. It doesn’t matter what happens, it only matters how it happened. A good spoiler only gets you more excited if you want to see it. Everyone knew the Titanic was going to sink but they still saw it anyway. It’s the journey, the experience that makes it interesting. That’s what counts, not that Keyser Söze and Kevin Spacey were the same fucking guy.

Critically Rated at 11/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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TV Shows are Better than Movies

Movies used to be the premier form of Hollywood entertainment. They were the pinnacle. They had the best actors, the best directors, the best stories, and the best effects. But then HBO started making their own shows. They had the budget to hire quality actors to portray quality characters. Characters are the most important part of storytelling. If you don’t care about the character, then you don’t care about what happens to them. And a TV series allows a character to get developed over multiple episodes and seasons. You get to know their personality, their quirks, their pet peeves, and you feel like you truly know them.

AMC has a lot of amazing character based dramas, like Mad Men and Breaking Bad, with interesting characters and intriguing storylines. The Walking Dead not only has great characters but also feels like a zombie movie that never ends. And it has more graphic and creative zombie deaths than anything in the movies. There are shows like True Blood that are extremely sexual and violent and Spartacus (which makes True Blood seem like a family show). The quality writing on television is extended to Cartoon Network. Even the worst season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars is better than anything the prequel trilogy has to offer.

In the old days, any actor could be on TV but only a few actors could transition to the big screen and be a box office draw. Now movie stars want to be on television. The Simpsons and Scrubs are famous for their celebrity cameos and guest roles. Former Hollywood heavyweights like Keifer Sutherland got a career boost by turning to TV. Dustin Hoffman, Steve Buscemi, and Sean Bean put aside film opportunities to star in HBO shows. Kevin Spacey, Christian Slater, William H. Macy, Alec Baldwin, Kathy Bates, Zooey Deschanel, Danny DeVito, Christina Ricci, Laura Linney, Don Cheadle, and Glenn Close have all chosen television over film. Who needs to go to the theater with that kind of star power available on a weekly basis?

With HBO hits like The Sopranos and Sex in the City, other networks started paying more attention to quality programming. Premium cable channels like Starz and Showtime stepped up their game. Basic cable networks like FX and AMC had to keep up and they did. And the major networks took note and started taking more risks. We get shows as diverse as Lost and Community and everybody wins. The production quality and star power of television shows is only going to increase. It’s a good time to be a couch potato with a Netflix subscription.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Avatar

Avatar is your standard story of a white guy who finds a new race of people with their own distinct culture and lifestyle, and he gets accepted into the group and becomes the most awesome one. You’ve seen it in Dances With Wolves, you’ve seen it in The Last Samurai, and now you can see it again in Avatar. The twist in Avatar is that the new race of people are giant 10-foot tall sparkly blue aliens.

Some directors make movies. James Cameron makes blockbusters. He ruled the ‘90s with Terminator 2, True Lies, and Titanic. And then he disappeared for a long time and casual moviegoers forgot about him. Then in 2009, he reappeared with a little flick called Avatar. It broke all kinds of box office records and ultimately made over $2,782,275,172 worldwide. In layman’s terms, that’s a fuckton of money.

It’s 2154 and humans have used up all of the Earth’s resources, so we started going to the stars and using up their resources. That’s how the humans ended up on Pandora, a jungle moon orbiting a gas planet. Pandora is the only known place where the valuable unobtanium mineral can be found. There are only a few setbacks to mining unobatanium: Pandora’s atmosphere is poisonous to humans and the Na’vi, a species of 10-foot-tall sparkly blue cat-like hominids that resent the humans for invading their home.

A greedy corporation has established the Avatar Program to create human/Na’vi hybrids to explore Pandora and set up relations with the Na’vi. Growing an Avatar is a huge investment, each Avatar is genetically matched to its driver and each driver does through years of training. Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is a paraplegic marine with a dead twin brother. Jake’s brother was a driver in the Avatar program, and Jake is asked to take his place so they don’t waste the Avatar.

Jake jumps at the chance of a lifetime (not really, because he’s in a wheelchair), and he joins the Avatar Program and heads to Pandora. He meets the head of the program, Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver), fellow driver Norm Spellman (Joel David Moore) and a few other characters.

On his first assignment, the crazy Pandora creatures cause Jake to become separated from Grace and Spellman. He’s alone in a dangerous jungle and almost dies a few times before getting rescued by Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). Neytiri gets a sign to take Jake back to her clan. Her mom is the spiritual leader of the tribe and they decide to initiate Jake Sully into their society.

Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) asks Jake to gain the Na’vi’s trust and find out about Hometree, which stands on a large supply of unobtanium. Jake agrees to help him out. He spends his days as an Avatar, learning about the Na’vi, appreciating nature, exploring his Avatar abilities, and falling in love with Neytiri. He spends his nights recording a video log for Grace and supplying intelligence to Quaritch.

Jake begins to feel conflicted the more time he spends running around the jungle. He’s changed. He’s not the same person and he starts to turn his back on his society. He’s gone native and he’s not coming back.

I’m assuming you’ve seen the movie, so I’m not going to go into all the details, but the Na’vi get attacked, Hometree gets destroyed, they blame Jake, he has to get their trust back, and when he does they have a climatic battle to save the Tree of Souls (the Na’vi have a lot of magic trees). The good guys win and the bad guys go home and Jake goes to live in his Avatar body full time.

This movie has a cliché plot, but you can’t stop watching. There are lots of plot holes (like the sudden emergence of all the other Na’vi tribes), but everything flows and fluidity is key to keeping entertained.

Avatar is unintentionally racist. All the main human characters are white. Most of the Na’vi actors are either black or Native-American, as if James Cameron couldn’t decide which race he wanted to suppress more. All the Pandora animals are slaves too. You just take your ponytail-tentacle thing and make a connection with him and he does everything you want.

James Cameron created an amazing world. Pandora is beautiful, you want to live there. There are pretty plants and majestic trees. Flora is cool, but it’s all about the fauna. The Avatar animals are awesome. There are flying animals and stampeding ones and tree-swinging ones.

This is the highest grossing film of all time. That doesn’t mean it’s the best. It just means that a lot of people saw it, liked it, and saw it again. It was a breakout hit in a time when people are supposed to be illegally downloading movies. It meant that if you made a movie worth seeing, people would gladly pay for the experience. It showed that 3D could be more than a gimmick if you do it right. It makes it more immersive, it makes it more magical. Avatar is entertainment. You can’t deny that.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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The Lion King

The Lion King is one of the best animated films of all time. It is Disney’s best Pixar-less movie. It’s about a lion named Simba, and Simba is in line to be the king of the Pride Lands. Instead his uncle murders his father and takes over the throne. Simba must avenge his father and assume the throne, but first he runs away to live with a warthog and a meerkat and eat bugs.

The story starts with Mufasa and Sarabi celebrating the birth of their baby by having a monkey dangle him from a high rock over hundreds of wild animals. The baby is Simba, and one day he will be the Lion King, but for now he’s just a curious cub. He spends his days frolicking with and getting beat up by his friend Nala. His uncle is evil and wants to be king. His name is Scar and he has a scar. The writers either ran out of African names to use or just got really lazy. Either way, Scar keeps trying to kill Simba and/or Mufasa (whichever comes first). One day, after Simba and Nala barely escape Scar’s hyena henchmen, Mufasa tells him about the circle of life, how one day he will die and Simba will become king, and a bunch of other life lessons.

Scar eventually succeeds in killing Mufasa, and he makes Simba think that it was his fault. Simba decides to run away instead of dealing with his problems. Simba almost dies but he gets saved by Timon and Pumba. Timon is a sarcastic meerkat and Pumba is a stupid, smelly warthog. They decide to take in Simba and they teach him about Hakuna Matata and how to live a carefree life.

Simba grows up with them, but he can’t forget his past. One day, his old pal Nala shows up on their turf looking for food. Simba and Nala are ecstatic to see each other again and sparks fly. Nala is surprised to learn that Simba is still alive, and Simba is surprised to learn that Scar has taken over the throne and the kingdom is suffering. Nala tells Simba to get his shit together and claim the crown that’s rightfully his. Simba still thinks that he killed his dad and doesn’t want to go back and deal with his inner demons.

But then he talks to a monkey and a cloud that looks and sounds like his dead dad and he decides to go back. Timon and Pumba decide they have to help their friend and they hitch a ride back with Nala.

Simba confronts Scar and finds out the truth about Scar killing his dad and Simba learns it wasn’t his fault. Stuff happens and Simba emerges victorious and becomes the Lion King. And then he and Nala have a baby lion and the circle of life goes on.

If you haven’t seen The Lion King in a while, it’s worth revisiting. The plot is clichéd and tired and not at all unique. But it’s the characters and the dialog and the songs that make this a classic. The opening sequence sucks you in, and you know that you’re going to experience something special in this film. There are a lot of animal puns hidden in the dialog and song lyrics. Tim Rice and Elton John’s songs are great and enhance the movie, along with Hans Zimmer’s score.

The voice cast is pretty impressive. Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Matthew Broderick play young and old Simba. James Earl Jones plays Mufasa, Rowan Atkinson (A.K.A. Mr. Bean) plays Zazu, Jeremy Irons plays Scar, Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella play Timon and Pumba, and Cheech Marin and Whoopi Goldberg play hyenas. They originally wanted Tommy Chong to play one of the hyenas. Cheech and Chong in a Disney movie? There would have been way more jokes about the grasslands, that’s for sure. We missed out.

This is an awesome movie and it’s like a time machine that takes you back to when you used to watch it as a kid. You remember where you watched it, who you watched it with, you remember singing those damn songs, and trying not to cry when Mufasa dies.

This movie doesn’t have a great story. But it has great moments. It has great music. It has a great cast. It has great visuals. When you add those attributes up, it makes The Lion King better than what it should be. It’s now one of those movies that you have to see. If you haven’t seen The Lion King people look at you funny. No childhood is complete without seeing this movie. If you haven’t seen it by this point, you are probably going out of your way to avoid it, and that’s sad because you deserve a childhood.

Critically Rated at 16/17

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Outside Lands 2012

The San Francisco Outside Lands Festival has come and gone again. The festival is held each year in Golden Gate Park and features multiple artists on multiple stages. The 2012 lineup featured such diverse acts as Beck, Of Monsters and Men, Foo Fighters, Andrew Bird, Justice, Alabama Shakes, Explosions in the Sky, Big Boi, The Kills, Passion Pit, Sigur Ros, Fun., Franz Ferdinand, Regina Spektor, Jack White, Santigold, Bloc Party, Dispatch, Skrillex, and the main headliners were Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Metallica, and Stevie Wonder. That’s a pretty good fucking lineup in a time when most festivals are becoming more mediocre. Coachella was so desperate for talent that they had to resort to booking holograms of dead rappers.


This is my fourth Outside Lands in five years and I live ten minutes by foot from the main entrance. I’m not trying to toot my horn, but I’m pretty much an Outside Lands expert at this point. So believe me when I say that this year was a shit show. It was fucking crowded. And that fucking sucked. I was there pretty much the entire festival. I got there around 1:00 the first day and was surprised at how busy it was. There were already lines for the bathrooms and for food. Fridays generally start getting crowded around 5:00 or 6:00, but it seemed like everyone was anxious to get in early.

I saw the two-man band Tanlines, and they put on a decent show. I headed over to the main stage, Lands End, to catch Fitz and the Tantrums, Beck, Foo Fighters, and finally Neil Young & Crazy Horse. Fitz and the Tantrums had everyone moving, even if their songs aren’t as well known. Beck played a lot of old stuff, including Loser and Devil’s Haircut, but he played a few slow songs in a row, including Lost Cause, which kind of put a damper on the mood. Dave Grohl and the rest of the Foo Fighters were great. They had a ton of energy and had everyone jumping and singing. They played a lot of old stuff and some new stuff, but everyone was feeling it.

Neil Young is old. He looks old. He doesn’t act old. He was constantly bobbing and moving to the beat, running and jumping, and generally sweating his geriatric nutsack off. He played a lot of old and obscure stuff, with a few recognizable songs thrown in to pacify the crowd. He refused to end songs and every other song had to have a ten-minute guitar solo. It got old real fast. He seemed like he was just trying to fill a two-hour set at times. I know you’re a legend, but you don’t have to be full of yourself. You’re not Clapton or Dylan… you occasionally hang out with Crosby, Stills, & Nash, but you’re not that cool.

Saturday was ridiculously busy. There were people everywhere all day long. It was almost impossible to find anyone. You had to be wearing something distinctive or be near a landmark or a recognizable flagstick. Security was pretty strict that day. They took away my Captain Morgan. That was pretty disheartening. I saw Geographer, Alabama Shakes, Big Boi, Passion Pit, and Metallica. Geographer was all right, admittedly they aren’t one of the bands that I listen to or have heard of before, but they were pretty good. Alabama Shakes was super crowded. They had a ton of people crammed together to watch them, and I listened to a few songs before my group got claustrophobic/pissed off and we left a little early. I liked what I heard, but we were too far away to get close and to get into it.

Big Boi was supposed to play Outside Lands before, but he got arrested and couldn’t make his gig. This time around he kept referring to the “technical difficulties” that kept him from playing last time, so he would take requests and also play new stuff. He played a few hits from the OutKast days like Bombs over Baghdad and Ms. Jackson. A little hip-hop is refreshing in a lineup like this. Passion Pit had everyone dancing and grooving along. Metallica was super loud and had fire. And a bunch of hits that everyone can scream along to. The fire was awesome. I’m still pissed that they shut down Napster.

Finally Sunday rolled around, and the sun still hadn’t made an appearance all weekend. We hoped that it would come out, but it stayed cloudy and overcast pretty much the whole day, with the occasional glimpse of blue sky. I started the day by catching the end of Allen Stone. What a delightful weird looking white guy. I stuck around the main stage for Fun., Franz Ferdinand, and Regina Spektor. Fun. played a great set. They really lived up to their name. Lead singer Nate Ruess was genuinely having a good time performing and it showed. They really got the crowd going, and that was one of the best acts of the day. Franz Ferdinand also got the crowd going, and everyone was having a good time. Regina Spektor was good, but it’s a slower style of music, so people were more mellow during her set.

Santigold was next on my list, and that was a great show. Everyone was dancing and singing and moving to the beat. One of the highlights was when she invited a bunch of audience members to dance on stage for a song. Bloc Party was next. They put on a decent set, but their sound was distorted. It got better as it went on, but it wasn’t as impressive as I hoped it would be.

Like most of the Outside Landers, I ended the day at Stevie Wonder. Quick fact of the day: Stevie Wonder is a blind musician. He played a bunch of songs, because he’s been around for a while and he has a bunch of songs. He even got up and walked around the stage being lead by one of his backup singers. It was very awesome and slightly awkward.

Outside Lands 2012 had a great lineup and lots of things to see, but it was really crowded. I mean super fucking crowded. At times it was not enjoyable with how many people there were. The bathroom situation was a nightmare. A lot of people (either the smart ones or the really fucked up ones) resorted to pissing in the bushes or behind the portapotties. It seems like Outside Lands is getting too big. I might skip out on it next year, but it all depends on the lineup. It always depends on the lineup.

Critically Rated at 14/17

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Glory

Glory is based on the true story of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first formal US Army unit made up of black soldiers. And Hollywood is racist, so Matthew Broderick plays the main character. Edward Zwick (The Last Samurai) directs and Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, and Cary Elwes costar in one of the better movies set during the US Civil War.

Captain Robert Gould Shaw (Ferris Bueller) is the son of abolitionists and is currently fighting in the Civil War for the Union Army. He gets injured in a battle and goes home to Boston where he gets promoted to Colonel and assumes control over the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. He recruits his friend Cabot Forbes (Cary Elwes) to be his second-in-command. He’s also white. The first black guy who joins them is Thomas (Andre Braugher), a childhood friend of Cabot and Shaw’s.

A bunch of men join the unit for a chance to fight, to prove themselves both honorable and equal. Denzel Washington plays Trip, an escaped slave with a chip on his shoulder for understandable reasons. Jihmi Kennedy plays Jupiter Sharts, a free black man who seems naïve and innocent compared to Trip. Morgan Freeman plays Rawlins, who plays the wise old mentor figure who can still kick some ass.

Shaw’s tasked with getting the 54th into fighting shape, something that’s not easy to do. The men train and bond and establish their characters and relationships. They have to fight for boots, rifles, and uniforms. The men work hard and improve, but it becomes clear that they aren’t likely to see any action on account of all the racism.

Shaw blackmails his commanding officers and gets his men to the front lines. They win a small skirmish in South Carolina. And Shaw volunteers the 54th to lead a suicide assault on Fort Wagner. Not to ruin anything, but they pretty much all die. It was a suicide assault after all.

Robert Shaw was a real guy. He really did command the 54th infantry. The movie has to include him. But Shaw is a shitty main character. He is kind of racist but not really. He’s kind of a coward but not really. He just kind of stands around and occasionally does something to advance the plot, but he seems to just be plodding along. All of the good scenes are about Trip, Rawlins, Thomas, and Jupiter. They are the heart of the movie. A movie about a black army unit should focus on the black army unit.

Morgan Freeman is always good, and this movie is no exception. But Denzel Washington steals the show. Trip is a great character. The scene where he gets whipped for desertion is hard to watch, but you can’t turn away. You feel his pain.

The battle scenes are explosive, violent, bloody, and realistic. Edward Zwick knows how to balance out riveting action sequences with quieter and more reflective scenes. This is a great movie, it’s a classic. You watch it and you want to learn more about the 54th. Those brave soldiers fought with courage and honor and deserve to be remembered. They should be the focus of the film, not their white leader.

Critically Rated at 14/17

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Watching Movies on TV

Most people like movies. It’s pretty cool to sit on your ass and be transported to a different world and to live vicariously through the people on the screen. The best way to watch a movie is to go to the movie theater. Some people prefer watching a movie at home on Blu-ray/DVD or stream it from Netflix or Hulu. Some people rely on premium movie channels like HBO. HBO is ok because they don’t cut out anything or have commercials. For the most part, watching movies on TV is the worst way to go. You should avoid movies on basic cable channels. A movie’s pacing is important, and it gets destroyed with the constant commercial breaks. Movies need momentum, and each time Andy Dufresne does something uplifting and it cuts to some bitch pitching dog food you can’t care about the character as much. Sometimes they have to cut out violent scenes and vulgar dialog. They replace cool lines, no matter how essential to the movie it is. If John McClane doesn’t say “Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker,” then you aren’t watching Die Hard.

Critically Rated at 4/17

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Terminator 2: Judgement Day

Terminator 2 is a perfect sequel. It takes everything cool about the first one and ups the ante and becomes a better movie than its predecessor. Not only is it a perfect sequel, but also it’s one of the best action movies of all time. James Cameron doesn’t just make movies, he makes blockbusters. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays another T-800 Terminator sent back in time, Linda Hamilton reprises her role as Sarah Connor, and Edward Furlong plays a 10-year-old John Connor.

The move takes place eleven years after the first one. Sarah Connor is in a nuthouse, because that’s where you go when you tell everyone about killer robots from the future. Her son John is the future leader of mankind and our only hope of survival against the killer robots, but for now he’s stuck living with foster parents. It kind of sucks when your mom’s insane and your dad hasn’t been born yet, and so John acts out and is a preteen rebel.

Skynet sends back a T-1000 model robot (Robert Patrick) to track down and kill John Connor. The future John Connor sends back an older model T-800 (Schwarzenegger) to protect kid John Connor. The T-800 is the same model as the killbot in the first movie and the T-1000 is liquid metal and can shapeshift and make stabbing weapons. When this movie came out, it was a big twist that Arnie was a good robot and that the other guy was a bad robot.

The T-800 rescues John from the T-1000. John realizes that his mom isn’t crazy and he and his new robot bodyguard go to free her from the nuthouse. Sarah Connor is in the middle of her own escape, and they have a happy little reunion. Sarah gets over her trust issues with the T-800 pretty quickly and they go on a road trip to Mexico.

Arnie tells Sarah and John all about Skynet and the end of the world. Sarah thinks the only way to avoid Judgment Day is to murder Miles Dyson (Joe Morton), the engineer most directly responsible for creating Skynet. She tries to kill him but can’t. When he learns about Judgment Day he decides to join the team and help Sarah prevent the end of the world. He takes the Connors and the T-800 to Cyberdyne to destroy everything related to Skynet, included the microchip and robot arm from the first movie.

The T-1000 shows up and there’s and epic battle. And the two robots fight and punch each other and you understand what it going on, unlike Transformers. Spoiler alert: they beat the T-1000. The T-800 learns human emotion and sacrifices himself to avoid Judgment Day.

Having a 10-year-old John Connor as one of the main characters could have been disastrous without the right casting. Kids are annoying and stupid and don’t belong in action blockbusters. Edward Furlong pulls it off though. He has a cocky street kid attitude that suits the role perfectly. Compare his performance to Jake Lloyd as Anakin Skywalker in The Phantom Menace. When you leave the theater you want to punch Anakin in the face and you want John Connor to save you when the robots come.

This is a great action movie. Every scene leads into the next one, they all are relevant and they all advance the plot. There’s a great flow and pacing and the action scenes are awesome. This was made in the glorious time where when you see a helicopter chasing a truck, you know that it’s a real fucking helicopter chasing a real fucking truck. The CG effects were cutting edge at the time, and even though they look cheesy now, the story makes up for it. It was a great action flick when it came out, and it still is over 20 years later.

Critically Rated at 16/17

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Realizing You’ve Seen it Before Halfway Through

You finally have a day off to catch up on your Netflix queue. You know that you are halfway through the third season of Breaking Bad, but you aren’t quite sure which episode you were on. You were a few episodes in, you know that much. You decide to go with the fifth episode and you think you’ve made the right choice. About twenty minutes into it, it occurs to you that you already heard Walter say that line. Realizing you’ve seen it before halfway through the episode is a terrible feeling. You know that you wasted your time and you have no one to blame but yourself. You could have been twenty minutes into the right episode. You will never get that twenty minutes back. You are twenty minutes closer to death.

Critically Rated at 9/17

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Super Troopers

Super Troopers is a cult comedy classic about a group of highway patrolmen who pass the time terrorizing innocent civilians and abusing their power. They are the high school teacher who confiscates your stash and smokes in in the teacher’s lounge. It was written by and stars the Broken Lizard comedy group: Jay Chandrasekhar (who also directs), Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter, and Erik Stolhanske.

The movie’s opening scene is one of the funniest scenes in cinema. Two of the Vermont State Troopers, Thorn and Rabbit (Chandrasekhar and Stolhanske) pull over three stoners and fuck with their heads. It’s the perfect introduction to the Super Troopers and how they run their stretch of highway.

If there’s anything that the troopers hate more than crime, it’s the local Spurbury Police Department. The troopers are facing budget cuts, while the SPD gets all the glory and job security. The troopers stumble into a potential drug smuggling operation and soon after a body turns up that could possible be connected.

The troopers must uncover the mystery before the SPD does. But it turns out that the SPD are in on the operation and provide protection for the smugglers. Can the Super Troopers get their shit together and expose the corrupt cops? You’ll just have to watch and find out.

Super Troopers starts out as a great comedy. The opening scene is hilarious, but it all goes downhill from there. It stops being funny about halfway through the movie when they have to actually advance the plot. There are quite a few funny scenes and moments, but 85% of them happen in the first forty-five minutes. A good comedy should be consistently funny and that’s where this movie fails. It loses steam and momentum and you stop paying attention after a while.

Super Troopers Pic

Kevin Heffernan steals the film as Farva. His exchange with the cashier at the Dimpus Burger where he demands a liter of cola is another highlight of the film. All of the cast members have their moments, but Farva is the stereotypical asshole cop, and it’s fun to hate him.

Broken Lizard has made a few other movies, like Club Dread, Beer Fest, and The Slammin’ Salmon. Super Troopers is their best and most well known flick. Beer Fest is pretty funny. Club Dread was terrible but had it’s moments, and the Slammin’ Salmon was a disappointment but better than Club Dread. Broken Lizard will never be Monty Python. If they aren’t careful, advertising their films with their name will be a deterrent to moviegoers (the M. Night Shyamalan effect).

Super Troopers is a cult classic comedy because of the first forty-five minutes or so. Then it starts to suck. There are a lot of great bits and quotable lines, and it’s got a lot of memorable parts… but it’s not a complete movie. It becomes tired and predictable and it doesn’t deserve to be listed as one of the best comedies of all time. Because it’s not. The first half is great, the second half is mediocre. I don’t know how many times I have to stress that.

Critically Rated at 11/17

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Jesse Frederick

Jesse Frederick is a musician who has written some of the most well known songs of all time. You can’t even turn on the TV without hearing one of his catchy jingles. You might not know who he is, but if you’ve ever watched Perfect Strangers, Full House, Family Matters, or Step by Step you have heard him. He wrote the theme song for all of those shows… that’s why they all sound the exact same. You’ve heard his songs a million times, they are a part of your childhood. And you didn’t even know that he existed. Shame on you.

Critically Rated at 13/17

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