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Goon (film)

 The other night I was browsing through Netflix’s vast library looking for a movie to watch. I couldn’t find anything that I was in the mood to watch, so I caved into choosing one of their suggested movies for me. I ended up watching Goon, a little known 2011 sports comedy that I must have ignored a thousand times before. I thought it was just a random hockey flick starring Stifler. I’m really glad that I was wrong. Seann William Scott plays Doug Glatt, a nice guy and self aware dummy with a skill for fisticuffs. His talent is enough to get him a gig as an enforcer with a minor league hockey team. He can hardly skate but he knows how to punch, and his love of the game transforms his team from a rag tag bunch of losers into playoff contenders. It sounds cliche. It kind of is. There’s even a tacked on romantic subplot. 
 But it’s good. It’s really funny, there’s a lot of action, it’s sappy when it needs to be, and it’s genuine. You can’t fake honesty. Jay Baruchel cowrote the movie, and he costars in it. It was a passion project of his and it shows. He’s even tacked on to direct the sequel. Liev Schreiber plays a rival enforcer on another team and provides a lot of enjoyable drama as you await the inevitable matchup between the two gladiators. Alison Pill plays the imperfect love interest. Eugene Levy plays the awkward dad. Marc-André Grondin plays the cocky teammate who squandered his talent and only plays for himself. Kim Coates plays the coach who tries to control his players and get them to work as a team. It’s a solid movie with a solid cast and the film deserves a lot more attention.
 So I decided to blog about Goon in order to get the word out. Good movies deserve to be watched. Goon is a good movie. I was a little late to find out about it, but I still beat you to it if you haven’t seen it yet. And if you haven’t seen it yet, you should. It’s worth it. I promise.

 Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young 

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Undeclared

Undeclared is a Fox sitcom that served as the follow-up to Judd Apatow’s earlier cult hit series, Freaks and Geeks. In case you’ve been living under a rock, Apatow is the genius that has written, directed, or produced some of the best comedies Hollywood has to offer. He brought us The Cable Guy, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Knocked Up, Superbad, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Step Brothers, Pineapple Express, Bridesmaids… the list goes on and on. Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared were some of his earliest projects and they laid a solid foundation for his career.

Undeclared is a half-hour sitcom about freshman Steven Karp’s (Jay Baruchel) first year at college. Seth Rogen, Charlie Hunnam, and Timm Sharp play his roommates. Carla Gallo, Monica Keena, and Tina Ellroy play the girls living in the dorm across the hall. The two groups band together and deal with all your typical college shenanigans like sex, dating, drinking, parents, partying, playing Truth or Dare, prank wars with fraternities and disgruntled R.A.s, and gaining the dreaded Freshman Fifteen. The comedic style is mostly loose and improvised, relying more on character wit than sight gags. There is no laugh track or studio audience. It’s not the game changer that Freaks and Geeks was, but it’s a funnier and sharper show.

It’s impossible to watch this show and not be reminded of Freaks and Geeks. Seth Rogen has a starring role in both shows, Jason Segel guest stars in a few episodes, and Busy Phillips, Martin Starr, Samm Levine and other Freaks and Geeks alumni pop up occasionally. There are tons of other cameos and guest spots from actors and comedians that you know and love. I won’t mention them in hopes that you watch the show and get pleasantly surprised.

Unfortunately, Undeclared has another similarity with Freaks and Geeks. Both shows were cancelled before completing the first season. It’s sad because the series had so much potential and it ends way too quickly. There are only seventeen episodes, and each one is so funny and entertaining that you can’t help but binge-watch. Before you know it, you have no more episodes to watch and you’re let with a void in your heart and Netflix queue.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist is a 2008 comedy about two teenagers searching for love and their drunken friend on a crazy night in New York City. Michael Cera is Nick and Kat Dennings is Norah, and together they are Nick & Norah, and they have an infinite playlist. Nick has recently been dumped by his girlfriend, Tris (played by Alexis Dziena) and spends his days making mix CDs in an attempt to win her back. What he doesn’t know is that Tris simply throws them away. Norah has never met Nick, but she appreciates his taste in music and rescues his mix CDs from the trash. She has a slight crush on Nick because of this, even though she’s never met him.

            Nick’s two gay bandmates are tired of him moping around and they drag him out for a night on the town when they find out that his favorite band is playing a secret show somewhere in the city. Norah also finds out about the show, and she recruits her friend, Caroline (Ari Graynor), to help her track down the band. All the main characters end up at the same club, and Tris starts giving Norah grief for showing up alone. Norah lies and says that she’s there with her boyfriend to save face. Then she asks Nick to pretend to be her boyfriend and kisses him, unaware that this is the same guy that has been sending all those mixes to Tris. The gay bandmates see this and decided to set up Nick with Norah. They offer to drive Caroline home (who is now super drunk), so that Norah and Nick can get to know each other while they look for the secret show.

            Nick starts the night obsessing over Tris, but he gradually starts noticing Norah. Norah has a guy on the side (Jay Burachel) that complicates things a bit. Nick and Norah spend the night together getting to know each other, and naturally the bandmates somehow lose Caroline, and they have to search for her drunk ass and find clues as to where the band is going to play. Tris is now jealous of Norah and spends the rest of the night trying to get Nick’s attention. Will Nick and Norah end up together? Will they ever find the drunk girl? Will they ever find the secret gig?

The acting is so-so. It’s yet another Michael Cera film where he plays Michael Cera. Kat Dennings looks like she’s about to fall asleep at any moment. She looks bored even when she’s smiling. I have to give credit to Ari Graynor playing the blacked out Caroline. She has some of the best moments in the film, and she drives the story in a lot of ways.

This is a pretty serviceable high school movie, but it’s really not that good. There are a few things that bug me. First of all, the main characters are all in high school, but the movie takes place entirely at night in New York City. And they go to a bunch of clubs looking for the band… those clubs can’t be cool if they let fucking 18-year-olds in. My biggest beef upon reflection is that Nick and Norah are both straight edge. They don’t drink or do drugs. That’s not a bad thing necessarily, but it annoys the shit out of me. It’s a teen comedy. Why are the two main characters sober? It’s preachy. It’s boring. It would never happen in real life. You can’t stay up all night in NYC unless you’re being fueled by something illegal.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Are You Afraid of the Dark? is a show that you were contractually obligated to watch if you grew up in the ‘90s. Kids like to get scared, and this was the scariest thing on TV at the time (that your mom would let you watch). Each week, another member of the Midnight Society would tell a scary story around a campfire. And each week, you would be terrified of going to bed that night.

            I recently found a bunch of old episodes on YouTube and it’s been pretty awesome reliving my childhood. And you’d be surprised at how many of the child guest stars went on to become famous. Ryan Gosling, Hayden Christensen, Neve Campbell, Emmanuelle Chriqui, and Jay Baruchel were all responsible for making you afraid of the dark at some point.

            If All That is a family-friendly SNL, then Are You Afraid of the Dark? is a family-friendly Tales from the Crypt. It’s family-friendly because there’s no swearing or nudity (god-fucking-damn-it). But it’s still creepy and scary and I wouldn’t recommend it before bedtime. It’s a little dated now, but it’s a classic show. You probably wouldn’t like it if you didn’t grow up watching it. But that’s your fault.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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