The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

I read the books as a kid, but that was over 25 years ago.  I have forgotten everything except some of the titles.  So it is safe to say that I am not a huge fan.  Disney, having passed on Lord of the Rings, chose this series as a competitor.

Swing and miss….

While the first one released had a good story, this one appears to have left its story behind.  Everything that was made important was dismissed quickly in the final 10 minutes.  Maybe it’s my improv training, but a story that has that happen is not satisfying.  The 4 heroes did nothing to solve their own problems; they kept hoping Aslan would show up.

My advice: skip it; save the 2 hours for much better movies out this summer…

The Incredible Hulk

Growing up in the late ’70s, two shows were mandatory Friday night viewing for me: The Dukes of Hazzard and The Incredible Hulk.  Granted, I was 8 at the time, but they were still cool.  Those who know me know that I tend to have a nasty temper at times and I found myself during that time saying “Don’t make me angry.  You wouldn’t like me when I am angry.”

So, Rich calls me up to go see Hulk and of course I am agreeable.  After grabbing a quick bite, we found ourselves in the Waterford Lakes Regal, waiting for the movie to start.  For the next two hours, we and the rest of the audience are treated to a movie that exceeded guarded expectations.

Unlike most people, I appreciate the version Ang Lee directed in 2003.  In order to do that, you have to put it in the context of a graphic novel telling a different story (ala Elseworld-style).  What we see in 2008 is what we wanted to see back then.

Yes, the Hulk is all CGI; yet he seems very human and more proportionate to the rest of the world.  For those that loved the TV series, there are several nods to the show, including appearances by Lou Ferrigno and the late Bill Bixby.  The story is kept simple, only adding complexity when necessary.

What I found interesting was the realization that it mirrored the story of King Kong at times: the only thing that could calm the beast was the beauty…

My advice: pay the full price and see it in a GOOD theater; not quite as good as Iron Man, but pretty darn entertaining…

You Don’t Mess With The Zohan

In the late ’80s, when MTV still played videos, the mammoth network broke up the monotony of each day with a game show called Remote Control.  Besides putting Colin Quinn in everyone’s home each night, the show also had questions/clues delivered by a wacky young kid who did various characters.   Later in the early ’90s, that kid showed up on Saturday Night Live and I learned his name was Adam Sandler.  Over the next few years, Sandler honed his characters with an eye towards the big screen.  His first release, Billy Madison, was a big hit because it came out at a time when audiences loved stupid humor like it and Dumb And Dumber.  He soon followed it up with Happy Gilmore and others.  Each film got better (well, ignore Little Nicky) and smarter with story and humor.

So I was out with a friend and we wanted to see a movie.  Not caring to see anything else at the time, we opted for Zohan and Sandler.  We had to sit extremely close; luckily it was not a movie with handi-cam work.

It is typical Adam Sandler fare: basic thread for a story, various types of humor thrown in and guest stars (Mariah Carey) you would not expect.  As he has for many of Sandler’s movies, Dennis Dugan directed this average piece of entertainment.  For me, it felt like it was only slightly better than Billy Madison, but not as good as Happy Gilmore.

My advice: wait for DVD or cable; if you have to see it in theaters, then wait for the dollar theater…

Dody Goodman, 1914 – 2008

When I was young, my mom let me watch Grease way too many times.

I am glad she did; otherwise I would have missed out on many fun performances.  Dody Goodman played the high school secretary to ultimate airheaded fun.  She did this again in Grease 2 and then a variant in Splash.

She excelled at playing the ditz, much like Grace Allen did.

Here are two quotes from Grease, said so innocently by a sweet old lady:

Principal McGee: Blanche, do you have the schedules?
Blanche: Yes Ms. McGee, I just had my hands on them.
Principal McGee: Oh good, they’ll be nice and smudged.
Blanche: Oh here they are. If they would have been a snake they would have bitten me.
Principal McGee: Blanche, these are the schedules we had for last semester. Maybe next year you’ll find the ones for this semester.

Blanche: When I hear music, I just can’t make my feet behave.
Sonny: Thinks she’s Tinkerbell.
Blanche: Hush, Sonny.

George Carlin, 1937-2008

This one surprised me.

There are actors/actresses that we think are timeless and that we will always have around: George Burns, Jimmy Stewart.

For most people, the reactions is “they were still alive?” — then it changes to “oh man I really liked…”

Irreverent but brilliant, Carlin provided commentary wrapped in humor that took many of us many years before we realized the true meaning of his words.  In movies, he delighted us, whether as Bill and Ted’s guide or as a Cardinal in Dogma; he never failed us.

While many will cite his landmark “7 Words” monologue, a much different one holds a special place in my heart.  It was the first routine I ever saw of his and, thanks to the baseball almanac site’s transcript, I am able to post it here.  As you read it, imagine a silly voice for the baseball parts and a gruff, deep voice for the football parts.

Baseball is different from any other sport, very different. For instance, in most sports you score points or goals; in baseball you score runs. In most sports the ball, or object, is put in play by the offensive team; in baseball the defensive team puts the ball in play, and only the defense is allowed to touch the ball. In fact, in baseball if an offensive player touches the ball intentionally, he’s out; sometimes unintentionally, he’s out.

Also: in football,basketball, soccer, volleyball, and all sports played with a ball, you score with the ball and in baseball the ball prevents you from scoring.

In most sports the team is run by a coach; in baseball the team is run by a manager. And only in baseball does the manager or coach wear the same clothing the players do. If you’d ever seen John Madden in his Oakland Raiders uniform,you’d know the reason for this custom.

Now, I’ve mentioned football. Baseball & football are the two most popular spectator sports in this country. And as such, it seems they ought to be able to tell us something about ourselves and our values.

I enjoy comparing baseball and football:

Baseball is a nineteenth-century pastoral game.
Football is a twentieth-century technological struggle.

Baseball is played on a diamond, in a park.The baseball park!
Football is played on a gridiron, in a stadium, sometimes called Soldier Field or War Memorial Stadium.

Baseball begins in the spring, the season of new life.
Football begins in the fall, when everything’s dying.

In football you wear a helmet.
In baseball you wear a cap.

Football is concerned with downs – what down is it?
Baseball is concerned with ups – who’s up?

In football you receive a penalty.
In baseball you make an error.

In football the specialist comes in to kick.
In baseball the specialist comes in to relieve somebody.

Football has hitting, clipping, spearing, piling on, personal fouls, late hitting and unnecessary roughness.
Baseball has the sacrifice.

Football is played in any kind of weather: rain, snow, sleet, hail, fog…
In baseball, if it rains, we don’t go out to play.

Baseball has the seventh inning stretch.
Football has the two minute warning.

Baseball has no time limit: we don’t know when it’s gonna end – might have extra innings.
Football is rigidly timed, and it will end even if we’ve got to go to sudden death.

In baseball, during the game, in the stands, there’s kind of a picnic feeling; emotions may run high or low, but there’s not too much unpleasantness.
In football, during the game in the stands, you can be sure that at least twenty-seven times you’re capable of taking the life of a fellow human being.

And finally, the objectives of the two games are completely different:

In football the object is for the quarterback, also known as the field general, to be on target with his aerial assault, riddling the defense by hitting his receivers with deadly accuracy in spite of the blitz, even if he has to use shotgun. With short bullet passes and long bombs, he marches his troops into enemy territory, balancing this aerial assault with a sustained ground attack that punches holes in the forward wall of the enemy’s defensive line.

In baseball the object is to go home! And to be safe! – I hope I’ll be safe at home!