Sunday, September 25, 2011

Just Joshin'...Not!

Cedar Rapids is not a new release but I have gotten continuous enjoyment out of its' characters and story. Thank goodness for RedBox because I do draw a line - it was full price at Target yesterday and I passed it up, so Amazon here we come! But I digress... I love Cedar Rapids. Ed Helms' portrayal of the innocent Tim Lippe is hilarious, heartfelt, and heartbreaking. The audience wants so much for Tim to wake up and enter adulthood that it is both sad and funny to watch him tell a prostitute about the dangers of smoking (it will increase your premiums) simply because it does not even enter his mind that she is anything other than a perfectly nice person. But the scene stealer here is John C. Reilly as Dean Zigler, whose boldness and politically incorrect humor run counter to everything Tim knows. Reilly gives the audience some of the biggest laughs in the movie. The ASMI-azing Race sequence, particularly the swimming pool word scramble, is laugh out loud funny. I have watched and immediately backed up and watched again the end cabin sequence because Reilly's reaction to lighting his fart on fire is priceless. I admit to enjoying some low brow humor, but don't let that deter you from this movie because this is not a bathroom humor movie. Cedar Rapids is, at its' core, a traditional coming of age story about one man's journey to adulthood and the friendships that get him through it. The fact that the person coming of age is a forty year old man, well, it just makes the story that much more amusing.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Watch This, No Thinking Allowed

There should be no shame in admitting that you enjoy what most people call trash TV. I love trash TV and relish the opportunity to indulge. My most recent indulgence is Lifetime's Dance Moms. The premise is ridiculous, the behavior is deplorable, and yet I can't get enough. Dance Moms follows the mothers and daughters of the Abby Lee Dance Company and all of the drama that seems to be a requirement to be a member of the dance studio. Abby Lee Miller, the instructor, treats the mothers and daughters terribly and the mothers match her barb for barb. And, of course, despite all the talk from the moms that they will not put up with Abby's behavior anymore, nobody goes anywhere (except cuckoo Cathy who, as a dance instructor herself, decided that she knew better and took her daughter back to her studio). For me, the hour is equal parts feeling sorry for those poor girls getting emotionally abused and counting my lucky stars that I did not have to go through anything like that when I was growing up. Outside of one tumbling class in kindergarten, I had no inclination to dance and if you ever see me awkwardly jiving on the dance floor you'll understand why. Dance Moms is low on the totem pole of trash TV. It's not a Project Runway or a Top Chef, both of which I love and both of which, at their best, focus on the talent of the contestants. Dance Moms is all about the drama, but sometimes there's nothing like entertainment that does not make you think, not even a little.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Every Heart is a Package

Watching Josh Ritter perform makes me grin from ear to ear. I discovered his music in 2009 thanks to NPR Music and I've been addicted ever since. If you are lucky enough to have a chance to see him perform live, I highly recommend it. I've seen him three times in the last few years and I am heartbroken that he did not make it back to my area this year (my brother gets props for the best birthday present ever:  last year he gave me tickets to the Josh Ritter show at the Slowdown). Watching him and the Royal City Band give everything they have and seeing them love every minute of it heightens the audience's experience. Plenty of performers are enthusiastic, but rarely have I seen someone whose enthusiasm is so genuine that I actually want to be up there with him because he's having the most fun of anyone in the place. He and the band recently performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live and played off with "Kathleen" which is always a crowd pleaser. I finally got around to watching the entire performance online and if this does not make you happy then I don't know what will. I mean, just look at that smile on keyboardist Sam Kassirer's face. How can you not click the play button?