Howdy Inter-Webbers. I’m Matt Cohen. And I dig watching stuff at home.
Sure, going to the movies is great, but there is nothing better then kicking back on the couch, popping open some soda, grabbing some pizza, and watching some good old fashioned comedy (Soda and Beer can be substituted to your own relaxation preferences). This week, I take a look at some of your best options for said “Chillaxation”, whether it be on DVD or on the Boob Tube. So grab my hand, close your eyes, make a wish, and get ready to laugh.
Juno: I was fortunate enough to see this film when it was released in theaters, so this review will be more of an “At second glance” type deal. Juno is an extremely (sometimes a little too) smart and pretty damn funny little film. It was also the movie-that-could this year, so I’m sure you’ve either seen it or at least are familiar with it and its star, Ellen Page. Page turns in a fantastic performance. She has just the right tone and semi-acerbic nature to deliver first time screenwriter (and former exotic dancer) Diablo Cody’s words.
The film, directed by legacy fillmaker Jason Reitman, comes in at 96 minutes, which upon second viewing I was surprised about. In 96 minutes, this film manages to do quite a lot - an impressive feat for a debut screenwriting gig, and though Reitman deserves credit as well, Cody really did a bang up job on the text side, allowing this movie to really take on a feel of its own. Sure, some of the dialogue - particularly Juno’s - is a bit unrealistic, as critics have noted, but films are fantasy and escape; and personally, I’m cool with people saying “Honest to Blog” or using “Phuket Thailand!” as a way to show emotion. Yes it’s quirky and maybe a tad too cute, but it totally works for the film and Page and the rest of the cast deliver great readings on all the “outlandish” snippets of dialogue. The film still maintains a sense of realism despite the sometime strange speech, due largely in part to the commitment the actors have in selling in.Speaking of the rest of the cast, everyone involved does a great job, from the always awkward Michael Cera as Juno’s baby daddy, to J.K Simmons (J.J.J. anyone?) as a dad that any kid would want to have. Even Jennifer Garner, whom I’m usually not a fan of, manages to score with her role as a neurotic but sad suburban housewife to Jason Batemans’s rocker husband.
I’ve gotta be honest and admit I have not seen Reitman’s debut film Thank You For Smoking, but I’ve heard great things about it, and if Juno is any indication of a future, Reitman is in a for a long run as one of Hollywood’s most honest and refreshing young directors.Visually, the look of the film is warm and cozy, with colors that pop in a way that’s reminiscent of Wes Anderson movies. The production design is fantastic, particularly the bedrooms of Juno and her best friend Lea, which really looked like a teenage room - providing yet another layer of realism, which is something I always notice in films if lacking. As far as the jokes go, it’s not really a punchline type movie. Most of the laughs are due to the dialogue that Cody has whipped up, and the ones that really succeed are due to the actor’s reading of them. Some of these lines, in lesser hands (or mouths, if you will) would sound pretty damn ridiculous, but rarely does that happen in Juno. Though this isn’t a typical “comedy” it certainly is filled with laughs and you get to see an intelligent, heart felt, endearing and original film while you’re at it. I got the Blu-Ray edition which comes with a digital copy for laptop/ipod etc, which is a nice feature as well, allowing me to not be locked into my PS3/living room to watch the film. All in all, a wonderful movie that I would recommend to anyone who’s ever been a teenager (Which is like 75 percent of everyone, right?). Definitely worth your valuable - or not so valuable - time.
Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Season One: Oh boy, where to begin. First off, let me say that I enjoy this show. Sometimes a lot. It consistently makes me laugh, and that is important in a comedy (and water is wet, etc.). So, right off the bat, I dig the program. But man, oh man, this may be the most bizarre and irreverent sketch comedy show in the history of television. Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim got their small screen debut with the Bob Odenkirk-produced cartoon Tom Goes to the Mayor, which aired on Adult Swim and which I was a big fan of. Think of Awesome Show as a live action sequel to Tom, and you may have an idea what the viewer is in store for during these 12 insane and insanely funny minutes. Tim and Eric list their influences as Andy Kaufman and Monty Python, but I think they tend to favor the former a bit more. Some sketches are literally just them making funny faces at the camera, or singing strange nonsensical and kinda creepy songs while wearing even stranger and creepier makeup. The format works well for the boys though, as each sketch runs at most about 2-3 minutes. With that timeframe it almost doesn’t matter if a sketch doesn’t work, because a brand new one is always coming.
The show often takes the format of a public access TV channel, which is a great breeding ground for some memorable characters (Wayne and Jan). The wards of Odenkirk also manage to bring together a very impressive group of guest stars, including John C. Reilly (in my favorite recurring sketch on the show, Brule’s Rule’s), Jeff Goldblum, Michael Cera, Zach Galinfinkas and, of course, the man behind the men, Mr. Show’s (and, in my opinion, one of the funniest human beings of all time) Bob Odenkirk. Some of the sketches miss, and some are downright too strange to be considered traditionally funny, but there is definitely something working well for the show, as season 3 is about to premiere and the content has not slipped in level of quality. Tim and Eric are also about to embark on a nationwide tour which will bring their brand of crazyness to a town near you. Many people are not aware of the show, either do to its late airtime or the fact that it is a live action program on a cartoon network (one of the first) so this DVD release is a chance for the comedy masses to see what the future of sketch comedy may look like. It looks like two dudes having a lot of fun, and making us laugh while their at it. It looks damn good.
TV Report: It’s kind of strange that television has so many respective season starts, seemingly one every few months, and April was no different. Many shows premiered during sweeps week, some new, some old but all trying to spark with viewers in the competitive post strike environment. NBC rolled out its two sitcom heavy hitters with season premieres of 30 Rock and The Office, and though neither program offered anything spectacular, both shows seem to be back on their feet and churning out sorely missed funnies on network TV
30 Rock: The premiere episode of 30 Rock found the entire office under suspicion when someone makes negative comments about Jack to a reporter. The episode is kind of silly, and the framing of it a bit cliched, but the interstitial Milf Island (hosted by Human Giant’s Rob Huebel) clips are pretty damn hilarious. “We no longer want to hit that. Now get off Milf-Island!!!). I am also starting to realize that something must be weird with the shooting schedule of the show, because Jane Krakowksi and Tracy Morgan disappear for episodes on end, as both were absent this week, save for a cameo by Morgan. Regardless, still one of the top three funniest shows on the air today and it looks like it promises to be another funny season.
The Office: I love it when they take this show out of the office, and by that I mean move the characters outside of the actual Dunder Mifflin building. It also makes for something extra and this first episode of the season proved that formula correct once again. This week, Michael invites (forces) Jim and Pam to attend a dinner party in their honor, thrown at Michael’s house by his girlfriend and former boss, Jan. It’s a Michael-centric episode which may upset some fans who have waited months for the show to return, only to get an episode with about a tenth of the total cast. Despite that, it still “brought the funny”, particularly once Jan gets some drinks in her and busts out some of her favorite “Music”. I can’t believe at one point I wanted nothing to do with this show, as I was one of those British version purists, but Greg Daniels and company have managed to create a show all its own, which - in the long run, though a different beast then its UK counterpart - is often time just as or even funnier.
Sadly, that’s all for this time, but remember gang - Same Matt place… Same Matt channel.And, as always, “Keep em’ bagged and boarded”
-Matt Cohen am no currently no tired! Matt Cohen am not wanting to take nap!
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