Monthly Archives: June 2015

Legalize Ted

I didn’t have high expectations walking into Ted 2. First of all, sequels are usually disappointing- and they are painfully disappointing when the original film is so incredible. However, within the first ten minutes of Ted 2 I scolded myself for having ever doubted Seth Macfarlane. I was already laughing out loud (which I rarely do).

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Whoever put together the commercials for Ted 2 needs to be fired immediately because they DO NOT offer an accurate preview of the film. Yes, the core premise of the movie is Ted suing for his civil rights to be considered a “person”, but the laid-back, yet highly intelligent humor that made the original Ted such a classic is what really weaves this movie together.

Macfarlane knows what his audience wants to see, so there is no shortage of scenes showing John (Mark Wahlberg) and Ted just hanging out and smoking weed on the couch. I was worried that Amanda Seyfried, who plays Ted’s lawyer, would be wide-eyed and annoying but she was surprisingly self-deprecating and funny.

I saw the movie the same day that the marriage equality Supreme Court decision was announced, so listening to Morgan Freeman (who plays Ted’s lawyer for his appeal) discuss marriage equality (as well as gender and racial equality) with the jury was particularly potent.

Go see Ted 2 with your thunder-buddy.

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The Laughing Skull Open Mic Night: My Experience

Recently I ventured to The Laughing Skull in midtown Atlanta for their open mic night. Not only was the experience humorous and entertaining, but it also made me realize how vital it is to support new creative talent.

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I saw well over 10 amateur stand-up comedians- some funny, some not so funny. However, I still have the upmost admiration for anyone brave enough to bare their soul to an audience of strangers.

Below is my evaluation of the performer I found most intriguing. Hopefully this gives you an idea of what to expect if you choose to check out an open mic night at a comedy club near you…

You wonder if Brian Edmond stumbled onto the stage by accident. Perhaps he awoke from a nap, threw on a black t-shirt and jeans from his pile of dirty laundry, took a wrong turn on the way to his dealer’s house and somehow found himself holding a microphone in front of an audience. Edmond is waiflike, unshaven, and emblematic of every stereotypical hipster you see smoking a cigarette outside of a coffee shop. His vacant eyes scan the now uneasy audience. When Edmond finally speaks, his voice is unsurprisingly monotone.

Edmond kills the tattooed elephant in the room by addressing his appearance. He acknowledges how strange it is that he is so skinny even though he smokes a lot of weed. You quickly realize that Edmond isn’t here to tell jokes; he is here to have a conversation. Edmond mostly speaks with his head down and his mouth pressed closely against the microphone. When he looks up, his glossy eyes aren’t searching for laughter. He’s just making sure we’re listening. The irony of a stand-up comic who doesn’t care what anyone thinks is what starts to make this set funny.

The first few minutes of Edmond’s hazy thoughts and observations are about his drug use. He fidgets with the microphone and tells us a story about his friend who smoked too much and thought he had a collapsed lung. He explains that he couldn’t take his friend to the hospital, because that would be absurd. Would the doctor give him “magic” skittles and tell him they are “collapsed lung pills”? He lets out a flimsy laugh and we laugh too, if not at the story then at his dry delivery.

As Edmond starts telling us he is an Uber driver, his body language becomes more casual and relaxed. He recalls a young man who got into his car and gleefully remarked that he’s never had a white driver before. In fact, most of his passengers are racist, and one man even asked him to run over a black guy in a parking lot. Edmond surmises that the concept of Uber is actually just inherently racist, and we all laugh because he is probably right. However, Edmond doesn’t mind working for a company designed to put minority cab drivers out of work, because being an Uber driver means driving around hot, drunk girls. One time a girl begged him to take her to get food, and he said sure, but only if she would have sex with him first. It is only because Edmond appears so physically fragile and nonthreatening that we don’t feel guilty for laughing.

Edmond looks vaguely relieved when he is cued to wrap up his set. He just started getting the hang of things, but still isn’t completely comfortable. He mumbles a “thank you” to the audience, turns around and waves without making eye contact, and then saunters offstage. You feel as though you just went on a date with someone who didn’t appear to have prepared at all and was wholly uninterested in you. Logically, you shouldn’t want to go on a second date. But, then again, there was just something about him that piqued your curiosity.

“UnREAL” is Unreal

If you engage in the guilty pleasure that is The Bachelor/ Bachelorette franchise, you will be mesmerized by Lifetime’s new show UnREAL.

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Shiri Appleby (you might remember her as Adam’s girlfriend Natalia on Girls) stars as Rachel, a producer on a faux-Bachelor show called Everlasting. She had an alcohol-induced meltdown on the last series of Everlasting, and returns to the show determined to prove to Quinn, her no-nonsense boss (Constance Zimmer AKA Dana Gordon on Entourage) that she has recovered and is ready to get back to work.

The one-hour drama conveys the manipulative and almost villainous tactics the producers use to manufacture the drama and insanity the audience craves. Rachel struggles with eagerness to be the best at her job, and reluctance to exploit the female contestants for the sake of good television. She is constantly grappling with where to draw the line. The show also explores the strained relationships between producers and the complex personal lives of Quinn, Rachel, and the “suitor”, Adam, a British hotel heir attempting to reinvent his image.

This psychological drama conveniently airs on Mondays at 10 PM (right after The Bachelorette), and will make you rethink the social phenomenon that is reality television.

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“Entourage” Movie Review

I definitely had some reservations before seeing the “Entourage” movie. I was a devoted fan of the show (even though it was douchey and ridiculous at times), and feared that the movie would succumb to the “Sex and the City” curse of going against the original model of the show to make it more ostentatious and pretentious. Surprisingly, the movie did exactly the opposite.

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The movie was essentially a 1 hour and 44 minute version of what a season of “Entourage” could have been. Even the opening credits were modeled after the original beginning and used the song “Superhero”. The plot of the movie was simple: Vince decides to direct and star in his own movie, and the Texas mogul investor’s son (the investor is played by Billy Bob Thorton, and his son is played by Haley Joel Osment (does he still see dead people?)) isn’t a fan of the film. I won’t give any more away, but will say that the plot has an endearing, albeit conspicuous twist.

The interactions between Vince, Eric, Turtle, Johnny, and Ari are as clever and charming as ever. The celebrity cameos were frequent (Liam Neeson, Jessica Alba, Kelsey Grammar, etc.), but much more restrained than I thought they would be. My favorite meta-moment was Ari passing Liam Neeson in his car, Liam Neeson telling Ari to “fuck off”, and Ari screaming, “Come on Schindler! Don’t leave a Jew behind!”

I was slightly baffled at the negative reviews and backlash the movie is receiving, but have to assume that the critics who disliked the film were not fans of the show. There were countless subtle references to the series that only a fan could appreciate. My sister (who is also a fan) and I almost cried at the end.

Grab your personal entourage and go see this movie. Appreciate the fun and entertaining film for what it is!

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