Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Ladies of Adam Sandler - Pt. II

Continuing with Rolando's shameless and inexcusable objectification of the fairer species, and truly I'm no better since I'm allowing myself to be used as a conduit to this objectification, we will now examine the second tier of the Ladies who have played love interests to Adam Sandler in his various films. 

11. Fairuza Balk - The Waterboy

Some claim Billy Madison, others champion Happy Gilmore, and there are even those who side by The Wedding Singer, but I will always stand by The Waterboy as Adam Sandler's greatest cinematic achievement.  This brings us to Bobby Boucher's object of affection, Vicki Vallencourt as played by Fairuza Balk.  There might be prettier women than Fairuza, there might be more ample women than Fairuza, but Fairuza brings the beauty, the sexy, and the hint that at any given moment she could pull out a knife and stab you to death.  Brother, that's a level of dangerous edge living that all the money in the world can't buy. 

10.  Tea Leoni - Spanglish

The conundrum with Spanglish is that Paz Vega could have easily been included on this list, but she was not a love interest in that movie so we had to leave her off.  Our consolation prize... Tea Leoni.  That's one heck of a consolation prize my friends.  Yes, Tea looks like she half asleep, but they call that look 'smouldering' where I come from.  Tall, classy, elegant... but still not enough to keep her husband David Duchovny out of massage parlors claiming sex addition, when the addict probably could've just OD'd on what he had at home.  That's Rolando talking again.  Not me.  What was Spanglish about anyway?

9. Marissa Tomei - Anger Management

Woman... your name ought to be Marissa Beaujolais, because like a fine wine you seem to only get better with age.  Now does that sound like something I would say?  Of course not... It's totally Rolando again.  But building on that sentiment, we've been a fan of Miss Tomei ever since that TV show A Different World, which is admittedly dating the both of us, with the Oscar winner only becoming more lovely with each passing year.  But if we had to watch Marissa in one film, it wouldn't be in Anger Management, or in 'My Cousin Vinny' in which she won that silly award, but 'The Wrestler'.  At the top of her game in both beauty and talent in that movie. 

8.  Emmanuelle Chirqui - Don't Mess with the Zohan

What can we tell you about Emmanuelle.  Seriously, what can we tell you?  Because we don't really know her all that well.  Even though Emmanuelle has been acting in all kinds of movies and TV shows for the majority of her life, the only thing we can ever recall seeing her is in this Zohan movie.  She has a wonderful speaking voice because she also does a lot of animation work, in particular Cheetara from the new Thunder Cats, but what kind of sense does it make to lock this dark eyed, exotically erotic beauty in a sound booth where you can't see it?  Makes no sense at all. 

7. Katie Holmes - Jack and Jill

The former Mrs. Cruise is one hot number.  Rolando again.  It's easy to see why Tom's old ass laid whatever hex he had to on the then fresh 27 year old to convince her that marriage to him and Scientology was where she needed to be.  But here's the thing.  Katie might even be rated higher on this list had she somehow avoided being in, without a doubt, and very little argument, the worst movie on this list.  Jack and Jill is so awful, so uniformly terrible, so mindbogglingly misguided, that simply by watching it, your IQ drops an average of 15 points.  And hot chicks are amazingly just a little less hot.  But to the credit of Al Pacino, who we thought might've committed career suicide by being in this movie, his Dunkachino commercial in the end was comic gold.  Rolando also suggested that we put Sandler's Jill on this list.  Had to veto that one.

6.  Brooklyn Decker - Just Go With It

We have a slight impasse between me and Rolando because I don't even think she should be on the list, where he wants her ranked higher.  For starters, she wasn't even truly the love interest in Just Go With It, as it was ultimately Jennifer Anniston, secondly, the majority of the women on this list are... shall we say... mature.  Jessica Biel being the next youngest, who is still on the way, at 32.  The rest are women that I, personally, would be comfortable going out with and not feeling pervy about it.  Brooklyn is only like 25.  Just a kid.  To me.  Not to Rolando.  Yeah she's hot and all, but she's 25.  Who wasn't hot at 25?  Maybe not quite this hot... admittedly... but still. 

It's not over yet people.  We still have to weigh in the top five, which we will get around to sometime between now and never.  You can bank on that.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

If I had been asked... Anatomy of a Spin-Off

Ok, next aspect of the previous discussion.  Did they approach Agents like a Frasier spin off or like a Joey spin off?  We will examine these two shows to identify why some spin offs work, and some don't.  

Frasier on Cheers was a beer drinker, as they all were, and while he was snobby and erudite, he obviously wasn't above having a beer with Norm or Cliff, and acted as a foil to them.   As grounded as they were, he wasn't, or so I recall from my limited memory of that show.  The challenge for the Frasier creators then was what to do when this ensemble actor becomes the headliner?  

Well, the guys from Frasier completely wiped the slate clean and started from scratch.  They set up as his foil for the new show, his dad, who is also the primary source of conflict.  Again, as snobby as Frasier is, his dad is grounded, which causes tension between them, especially when the dad is forced to move in with his son in the pilot episode.  Then the creators went for the hat trick and figured having a foil isn't good enough, we're going to throw in a brother, one that is more erudite, snobby, and fussy than Frasier.  The brothers frequent the same circles, but in certain comparisons Frasier looks like the salt of the earth compared to Niles.  Now they have a character spectrum on the show.  When the occasional member of the Cheers gang drops in, they commented they were surprised by Frasier has family. Apparently in Cheers he said his dad was dead, and never mentioned a brother, but that didn't deter the Frasier creators and producers, and sets them up nicely with an ensemble cast, built in tension, that lends itself to future episodes of comedy and room for the characters to grow.  The thing about tension is that ultimately these characters are on a journey together, and it helps to start them off as extreme caricatures, so that over the time the characters evolve, and the show can explore new areas in later season's that they couldn't in the beginning.   

In Cheers, the gang drank beer.  In Frasier, he drinks wine, with only a handful of times drinking beer. Ccheers was focused and set at the bar.  Frasier moved between his job at the radio station and his home.  If you were to read the scripts, one wouldn't notice these are the same characters except for the name, and that is the genius I feel that made Frasier successful.  Cheers went for broad comedy, and while Frasier has aspects of that, it was more about the dialogue, which was quick, witty, and smart.  Not words typically used to describe an episode of Cheers, and adding in Niles meant a whole other well to tap for comedy - Frasier couldn't stand to be outdone by his younger brother, and would go to great lengths to beat him, again tension leading to growth.  

Now we will examine Joey.  Joey was great on Friends, but by himself?  They took the same character, and just moved him.  Instead of wiping the slate clean, they just broke off the Joey part and plopped him in L.A., without his friends, and instead gave him a sister and teenage nephew.  Now, Joey Could have worked, and the show didn't need a Friend to come along, but he needed a foil and none was given.  In Friends, his shtick worked because as goofy and irresponsible as he was, he had friends who were responsible and made his character lovable in part because they were mean.  Chandler and Joey worked as foils, because as sarcastic as chandler was, he made Joey more open, sympathetic, and therefore the lovable goof.   As Frasier demonstrated, it is all about relativity.  The character is only as good as who they are playing against.    

In L.A., Joey becomes the more responsible one?  Not words used to describe NY Joey, and really his family is just like him, so there is no tension to play off of.  The only tension I can recall from that show is the love triangle with his neighbor.  I can’t even recall what the plots of the episodes were.  Now in the Showtime series Episodes, The Matt LeBlanc character works because he has tension on so many levels, at least as far as I can tell from the 3 episodes I watched.  One, there is tension in the fact that Matt the actor isn't as dumb as Joey, and he wants to prove they aren't the same person.  There is tension between the British creators, who don't want to dumb down their critically acclaimed movie for the American TV audience.  And then there is tension between the creators and Matt.  Well, the wife who doesn't think Matt is right for the role and is pandering to the lowest common denominator.   Again, you have foils for the characters, there is tension and from the tension comes the comedy and the journey which ultimately leads to future episodes, character growth, etc.  

Agents of Shield doesn't have foils- the agents are stiff.  The scientists are nerdy, and then there is Skye. The tension created from her inclusion was essentially closed by ep. 4, when even Agent Ward warmed to her, only to have her later betray them, but that tension isn't long lasting, or the focus.  So what now? They have got themselves into the Marvel Universe, without a hero, and from what I can tell there is little potential for character growth which is essential, even for procedurals.  It is critical that an audience voluntarily wants to be a part of this universe, and Agents doesn't really work to get the audience interested.  They just have a crime of the week, some lingering questions- the hope being that on plot alone the audience will come back.  That procedural formula of ‘case of the week’ can work in limited measure, but the formula only starts to turn into NCIS numbers when the creators get the audience interested in the characters.  We the audience have to want to care what happens to the characters.  We cared what happened to Frasier in Seattle, we didn't care so much what happened to Joey in L.A.  I can only presume the Green Arrow isn't going to die anytime soon (he is super after all) so I’m not so invested into what happens on Arrow, or to any of the characters.  If Thea was to die, my eyes would be dry.  Whedon knows the audience has to care, his previous shows show he is the master at creating that bond.

To take Agents of shield from so-so procedural (with a ginormous special effects budget) to a blockbuster, they have to make the audience bond with the characters, and simply making it a spin-off of something great, this being ‘The Avengers’, doesn't make it so.

-L. Sue

Saturday, February 15, 2014

If I had been asked... Agents vs. Arrow

If I had been asked, I would say I agree with the premise of the above statement, Arrow and Agents are completely different. Having watched season 1 of Arrow, and all of the episodes of Agents shown so far, I have made some observations that I would like to share.

Arrow is the superhero, and I would argue that even if the show wasn't about a DC hero (albeit on the b-beam of the justice league) it would still work. If it was called vigilante, or "the undertaking" its formula would still garner an audience on the CW, and it isn't because of the green arrow that people are sticking around. Also I read some of the links on that article, such as in the actors comments where Stephen Amell had to say.... "we are protective of the script".

Ok, Stephen, get off the salmon ladder and really read the script. Perhaps you shouldn't be so protective. Things like "Open your eyes Tommy", a line which could've used a rewrite and the melodrama behind arrow is sickening. I have a low threshold for melodrama, which is why I don't watch soaps. and there are a lot of aspects of Arrow that would qualify it as a night time soap, mostly the love triangle (pentagon, etc) between Tommy, Laurel, and Ollie. Not to forget the family issues between the mom, the new husband, Thea... all these plot lines would work on a soap opera, and need not be isolated to the Green Arrow.  Perhaps Stephen needs to pay more attention to the script than the work outs. About the only non barf area in the show was the island, and even that started to get melodramatic. I can't say it makes me excited to see season 2.

Now what Gregg said is a little mean, (calling certain fans 'losers') and fans could get upset. I'm not the biggest hater of agents, and it really isn't that bad. Agents is the attempt to bring the Avengers money to the small screen, yet have no actual super hero show up.  Occasionally Agent Hill or Nick Fury make an appearance, but aside from Coulson the rest of the agents are new. Besides no hero showing up, the main villains seem to be someone invisible (the Clairvoyant) or victims. Turning victims into villains is tricky, for one episode we're rooting for their survival, but the next we're hoping they die? Not exactly a recipe for success, and also not exactly setting up people to enjoy watching the show, which could be why their ratings are a little low.

Also, was it best to make a show around Coulson who is the only main link to the avengers universe? Spin-offs are tricky, and the next blog post will focus on that.  In the movies, Coulson's role was limited as he had a few lines, often to comic relief. In the Avengers his role was the largest, and it was him who tracked everyone down, and his death that united them, but aside from that he wasn't flushed out as a character. and I can't emphasize enough that people didn't go to see Iron Man or Thor because of Coulson... people went for the super hero. It is kinda in the name, thus we the audience want Super.  But the Agents of Shield, while possibly amazing, aren't superheroes so perhaps Joss needs to take the show back from his brother, and re-think the rules they set up if they want the show better connected to the Marvel Universe and get people to play their game.

It didn't help Shield's cause that Arrow is on the CW (which face it, is targeting a certain audience) and that ABC promoted the heck out of Agents (quick, name another 1 hr drama that ABC debuted in the fall of 2013? no? Exactly my point) ABC set high expectations, and over hyped what is just a so-so show. and instead of realizing this, ABC online seems to be doubling down on more access to agents and their secrets. Um, no. That isn't what is wrong with the show. Dial back the expectations, and be true to their vision, whatever it is. There was some comment about listening to viewers criticism in the article link, I'm like find your own voice. 'Cause- haters going hate. Simple as that.

-L. Sue

Introducing L. Sue...

If you've read some of the FCU reviews over the past year, you've probably read some of wise and intelligent comments of our colleague L. Sue who will now be sharing her wise and intelligent observations of all things about everything right here in this blog, usually starting with the title 'If I had been asked...'

Do Uncle Armstead a favor... if you like what she says, leave a comment.  If you hate what she says, leave a comment.  If you don't leave feedback she will stop writing for me and I can't have that.   Thank you for your cooperation.


Monday, February 10, 2014

The Ladies of Adam Sandler - Pt. I

Allow me to qualify the proceeding post by saying this was not initially my idea as it is well known that we are completely opposed to the objectification and exploitation of the female species in these quarters.  It's Rolando's idea.  He's completely down for the objectification and exploitation of women.  Not me.  That being said, since I'm the one with the blog and all, I will be the conduit of this objectification as we... err... I mean he rates the Women of Adam Sandler.  This came up because Adam, love his movies or hate them, has a true murderers row of lovelies that he signs up to play his various love interests, and from 18 to 12, here goes our opinion of their hotness.  Rolando's opinion.  I'm just providing moderation and supervision.

18.  Drew Barrymore - The Wedding Singer / 50 First Dates / Blended.

Look, I think Drew is beautiful, Rolando on the other hand doesn't get it.  I know, right?  But think of it this way, if one were to rank Porsche automobiles, one of them would have to be on the bottom of the list right?  So just consider Drew the Porsche 914 of this list, which was a pretty awesome car.  And Adam obviously likes her best since she's been in the most movies with him.  If you don't count Rob Schneider.  He won't be making this list.

17.  Julie Bowen - Happy Gilmore.

Watching Julie every day on Modern Family, via syndication, especially with Sofia Vergara always bouncing around nearby, one might forget what a sexy minx she was back in the mid 90's.  That's Rolando talking, not me.  Even though I think he was about eight years old when Happy Gilmore came out.  And while 16 might seem a low ranking for this beautiful woman, she is in arguably Sandlers best movie.  Arguably.

16. Keri Russel - Bedtime Stories

Now you know the competition is tough when someone as pretty as Keri Russel is relegated to the sixteen spot on this list.  I can't even remember if she was really a love interest in 'Bedtime Stories', though I do think I saw it.  I think.  Keri, however can take solace, even though just being on this list should be reward enough, in that she is arguably the most talented actress on this list.  Arguably.

15.  Joey Lauren Adams - Big Daddy

Joey has a level of beauty and talent to stand up to anybody on this list, except for maybe the top five which would be a tough challenge for anybody, but Joey Lauren adds an extra layer of funny / sexy / cool which just makes her all the more appealing.  You would probably want to watch Kevin Smith's 'Chasing Amy' to absorb the full Joey Lauren Adams effect, or maybe 'A Cool Dry Place', but since we're talking the movies of Adam Sandler, Big Daddy will have to do.

14.  Leslie Mann - Funny People

Yes, she's married to Judd Apatow and one could argue that she wouldn't be in any movies were this not the case, but she is hot, has a killer figure... Rolando again, because I didn't notice... and unlike every other woman who we will meet on this list Leslie is a real live comedic actress.  I mean she's really funny.  That's an unbeatable combination right there.  Okay, it is a beatable combination, but it is still rock solid.

13.  Bridgette Wilson-Sampras - Billy Madison

We miss Bridgette, not that Miss Teen USA  1990 is dead or anything, but as you can see by the name hyphen, she married tennis star Pete Sampras about fifteen years ago, started having babies and just doesn't work all that much anymore.  Who could ever forget her terribly miscast turn as the badass Sonya Blade in that Mortal Kombat movie from 1995.  Beautiful?  Yes.  Badass?  Perhaps not.  We won't forget her in Billy Madison either, arguably Adam Sandler's funniest movie.  Arguably.

12. Patricia Arquette - Little Nicky

Patricia Arquette.  Mmmm.... that's one tasty morsel of rock solid femininity right there.  Again, Rolando... not me as I would never say anything so objecitfyingly offensive.  Man, this blaming stuff on the people works great.  Why didn't I think of this earlier?  The problem here is that as lovely as Patrica is, this is probably the worst movie on this list.  I mean 'Little Nicky' is just awful.  That is until Adam released 'Jack in Jill'.  His lead in that monstrosity is still to come.  The good thing is that Patricia has made some really amazing movies... 'True Romance', 'Stigmata', 'Lost Highway' so you don't actually have to watch this to see Patricia if you don't want.  Even though in all likely hood, like me, you've seen it already.

Sometime in the near future we will get around #11 thru #6.  And Rolando will continue to judge my beautiful sisters based only on their superficial features.  Something I would never do.