Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Movie Review: Bad Teacher

I have to admit, I've been looking forward to Bad Teacher since I saw the first preview. Apparently, a lot of people were looking forward to it too because the theatre was packed. More importantly, everyone was laughing. In a comedy, that's always a good thing (in a drama ... not so much).

Cameron Diaz plays Elizabeth a woman biding her time as a teacher until she can marry her meal ticket. There’s just one problem … her meal ticket’s mom, who smells a gold-digger. Before she can said ‘wallet’, Elizabeth's been dumped and reluctantly returns to school.

She returns to an overzealous and overly perky coworker Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch), an interested gym teacher Russell (Jason Segel), a principal obsessed with dolphins (John Michael Higgins) and a new substitute, Scott (Justin Timberlake) who just happens to be loaded. Elizabeth passes her time in class by showing movies while she plots to get Scott … if her professional, and soon romantic, rival Amy doesn’t get to him first.

The major sub-plot involves, of all things, teaching … well, sort of. Obsessed with getting a boob job, Elizabeth tries her hand at actually teaching when she finds out the teacher with the highest scores will win $5,700. Of course, she’s not going to rely on just teaching ability to get by. Elizabeth goes to great lengths to make sure her class passes.

If you are looking for precocious kids or even hard-edged kids that soften and blossom under the love of a good teacher, you’ve got the wrong movie. This ain’t Stand and Deliver, it’s Bad Teacher and it has more in common with Bad Santa.

I applaud Cameron Diaz for being a real woman and actually looking her age her. Don’t get me wrong, she looks amazing but she also looks like she’s in her mid-30’s . She not been nipped, tucked and botoxed within an inch of her life … yet. Diaz has always been the funny girl and is willing to do just about anything to get a laugh.

Her supporting cast is game as well. Timberlake, consistently funny on Saturday Night Live, delivers here as the object of Elizabeth’s financial affections. I had never heard of Lucy Punch before but after this I’ll be keeping a look out for her (according to IMDB, she’s been working steadily sing 1998 but I don’t remember her at all, not even from Dinner for Schmucks or Hot Fuzz).

There are some really funny moments in Bad Teacher and of course, like any comedy, there are moments that fall flat. John Michael Higgins is usually hysterical but his whole dolphin shtick fell flat for me.

At the end of the day, there were more laughs (and laugh out loud moments) than there were duds which makes Bad Teacher a pretty good bet.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Glee Project: Vulnerability

After last night, I find it hard to believe that I actually liked Lindsay during week one. She’s a royal bitch. She’s joined Alex at the bottom of my list. Last night’s guest was Dot Marie Jones who joined the cast in Season 2 as the new football coach. The topic was vulnerability. Their homework assignment was Pink’s Please Don’t Leave Me. Afterwards, Dot Marie got to pick her favorite for some one-on-one coaching and a featured role in the video. For the second time, Matheus was the winner.

Lindsay showed her ass when Dot Marie tried to give her some constructive criticism and she got all defensive and talked back (not a good look but what I'm coming to expect from this girl).

As far as the video, the kids covered Tears for Fears’s Mad World and they had to wear a sign, in Los Angeles’s Universal City Walk that announced their vulnerabilities. Some were obvious: Matheus was ‘small’; Alex was ‘gay’; Hannah was ‘fat’. Some weren’t so obvious. Emily broke down in tears as she explained why she chose ‘used’. Apparently, they had been used sexually in the past by some ‘music producers’. Irish lad Damian chose ‘numb’ because he has trouble feeling anything deeply. Amazingly (or not so), Lindsay didn’t have a real flaw, or so she said, but she ended up going with ‘fake’ (very apropos).

Marissa started out using ‘flawed’ but after seeing Alex’s performance decided she needed to be honest … she changed her word to ‘anorexic.’

I really enjoyed the video and thought they all did a great job but they had to pick a bottom three and a song for each to sing: Damian (Are You Lonesome Tonight by Elvis), Emily (Grenade by Bruno Mars) and Cameron (Your Song by Elton John).

Damien had a major breakthrough when he was able to connect the lyrics to a lost love. Cameron came out in a suit and the producers didn’t think he was authentic. They asked him to come back dressed normally and do it again. Emily did a good job on Grenade but used humor a bit too much to deflect the emotion she felt (which is why she made the bottom three in the first place).

At the end of the day, it was Emily that didn’t get the call back.

The Voice: The Final Four

There weren’t many surprises in the finalist for The Voice. It came down to high schooler Casey Weston and veteran performer Javier Colon (a front runner from the beginning. It was no surprise when Javier became the finalist for Team Adam.

Over on Team Blake, it was the Battle of the Shy Girls: Xenia and singer/songwriter Dia Frampton. Dia, a favorite since her rendition of Heartless, pulled out the victory.

Team Christina featured the Battle of the Bald Women: Frenchie Davis vs.Beverly McClellan. I truly expected Frenchie to make the Final Four. To hear that Beverly made it was a surprise.

Finally, we had the Rainbow Battle over on Team Cee-lo between Vicci Martinez and big burly Nakia. Again, my expectations were dashed. I expected Nakia to walk away with the win but, surprise, America picked Vicci (and by a pretty large margin at that).

Out of that final four, if I had to pick a winner, I’d pick Javier with only Dia being able to pull off an upset.

Of course, for me, the real winner was the premier of the new Maroon Five song, Moves like Jagger.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Movie Review: The Green Lantern

Even with RR's abs, I was
bored! Can you believe that?
It’s a good thing that the Green Lantern had a decent opening weekend (it earned $52.6 million) because I suspect it will fall off considerably next week. Even with the charm (and abs) of Ryan Reynolds, the movie just wasn’t good. It barely managed to hold my attention.

Apparently, for those of you not up on your superhero lore, the Green Lantern Corp is an intergalactic group dedicated to prowling the universe and eradicating evil and fear. To be a Green Lantern, you have to be fearless. So when one of the most fearless Green Lanterns, Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison),crash lands on Earth, he sends his ring to find the best person on the planet to replace him.

The ring finds test pilot Hal Jordan, who is fearless when it comes to bravery and fearful when it comes to responsibility. Hal learns quickly that the ring has the power to manifest whatever he’s thinking. Of course there has to be a villan. The Green Lantern’s nemesis is Parallax, who thrives on fear. At the beginning of the film, Parallax escapes, and is responsible for killing Abin Sur. However, the government gets a hold of his alien corpse and brings in geeky scientist Hector Hammond (Peter Saarsgard) to conduct the autopsy. However, he gets some of the evil alien goop on his finger and begins his metamorphosis into evil.

I’ll be honest. This is a hard review to write because I was just bored. I was bored with Reynolds learning to use his powers. I was bored with all the metaphysical talk of the Green Lanterns out in the universe harnessing the power of will to banish fear. I was bored with Hal's relationship with fellow test pilot Carol Ferris (Blake Lively). I was just bored.

I like Ryan Reynolds and totally believe in his ability to carry a movie, but not this one. I am also a fan of Saarsgard but he was given very little to do here. And the script was wooden and horrific. Any actor tasked with these lines is in trouble, not matter how good they are.

This movie is all about effects (and I wasn’t even impressed there) but effects alone don’t make a decent movie. As far as Green Lantern, someone needs to turn the light off.

Graduation on Glee

Will Glee still be gleeful after Rachel,
Finn and company graduate?

Plan on saying goodbye to Rachel, Finn, and Quinn at the end of next season. In an interview with Ryan Seacrest, Glee creator Ryan Murphy said, Season Three might feature a major gradution.
"I don’t think of it in terms of eliminating or replacing. Because I think the thing about this cast is people love them and they are incredibly talented. They’ve left sort of an indelible mark.” He continued, “The thing that I wanted to do and the cast wanted to do, we didn’t want to have a show where they were in high school for eight years. We really wanted it to be true to that experience. We thought it would be really cool if we were true to the timeline."

The good thing about high school is that while the student faces may change, the faculty in many cases remains the same. Murphy added, "We’ve got Matt Morrison and Jane Lynch who will stay and be the male and female lynchpins of the series, but I think the fun thing about the show is it’s a celebration of youth and talent and I think that just like with the original cast, I think finding those young unknown people and giving them an opportunity to break into the business and become stars is a really fun and exciting thing and is the spirit of the series."

He used the additions of Darren Criss and Chord Overstreet as proof the show could handle some casting changes. However adding a few is very different from removing half of your cast.

The Glee Project: Stand Up, Stand Out!

Last night’s episode of The Glee Project has me rethinking some of my early favorites and it actually solidified my dislike for Alex.

The topic was theatricality and Idina Menzel was the guest judge, as she was the guest star on the Theatricality episode (also known as the Gaga episode). The kids were told to be theatrical. They performed Bad Romance for Idina and she had to pick the stand-out who would later be featured in the music video. To my horror, she picked Alex.

He works every nerve I have with his completely over-the-top divatude. He’s just too much. He’s too much. He starred in the video as a gay youth (as if he could play anything else) who was being bullied and who ushers in a dream sequence where everyone channelled their inner rock star (see below) and singing Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Gonna Take It.

Lindsey, who I really liked last week, revealed that she’s actually a bit of a bitch and that was not a good look for her. Last week, I forgot to mention how much I liked McKynleigh, the black country singer. This week I realized why it was so easy to overlook her. She’s forgettable. She’s cute as a button and a great singer but she barely registers as much as a blip on the personality meter. I can say the same for my Irish crush, Damian; adorable but forgettable. Both of them need to step it up big time in order to give Ryan a reason to want to write a character based on them.

It wasn’t a surprise that McKynleigh made the bottom three. Last week’s challenge winner Matheus was there too, as was not-a-woman-not-a-girl Ellis. McKynleigh sang Janis Joplin’s Piece of My Heart and still lacked a personality! Matheus tried his best with Gives You Hell (All-American Rejects). Ellis butchered Mack the Knife. Ellis didn’t make the call back but it was more because of her Negative Nellie attitude than her terrible rendition of a classic (despite her insistence that she’s a jazz singer!).

Unless she finds a personality, McKynleigh is next.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Glee Project: In Search of a New Gleek

The Glee Project started last night. Ryan Murphy and company are looking for a new character to be featured in a seven-episode arc during the show’s third season. The twelve hopefuls run the gamut from divas to nerdy, edgy to girl/boy next door.

The first show’s theme was ‘individuality’ where they had to stand out during their performance of Fireworks (Katy Perry). They had to record their portion of the song, do the video and a group number. But no pressure! LOL!

Darren Criss (Blaine Anderson) showed up to judge the group number and the one he liked best would get some one-on-one coaching from him as well as earn a feature spot in the video. He chose Matheus, a little person with a big voice from Atlanta.

After the performances, the coaches decide who is in the bottom three and those contestants must fight for their lives in a final performance of a song of Ryan Murphy’s choosing.

So let me start by saying who I wished had made the bottom three: Alex, Emily and Bryan. Alex is the plump gay diva who sounds like a girl. He is so over-the-top that I wish he’s fall off of the top. He works my nerves like no other. His ‘character’ is also unnecessary. Mercedes is already the resident diva. Kurt is already the guy that sounds like a girl. And there are already a boatload of gay characters .. . Kurt, Blaine, Karofsky, Santana (sometimes Brittany).

Emily is a cute Puerto Rican girl who is a self-admitted ‘flirt’ who loves to ‘flip her hair’. Okay. Whatever. She came across as truly full of herself and rivaled Alex for most annoying. We already have a conceited, bitchy Latina in Santana. We don’t need another one!

Bryan was a bi-racial cutie who just wasn’t as cute as he thought he was. He even managed to have a little bit of an attitude when preparing for the video. NOT GOOD. Most importantly, I couldn’t see him as a character of Glee.

Well, the coaches must have agreed with me because Bryan was in the bottom three, along with Ellis (an 18-year old girl trapped in the body of a 10-year old) and Damian, a favorite of mine, an Irish lad who has performed with Celtic Thunder.

Bryan sang Bruno Mars Just the Way You Are (which was mostly out of his range). They wanted Ellis to sound and act more adult so she had Hey Big Spender from the musical Sweet Charity and Damian had Jesse’s Girl (which he had never heard before!).

In the end, Brayn became the first casualty of The Glee Project. However, I’m eager to see how this all plays out.I’ve picked my favorites already too. Damian, whom I can easily see as a sexy Irish exchange student, is a frontrunner. I’m also a fan of Cameron, the musical nerd and Lindsay, for her girl next door vibe.

If you missed this episode, The Glee Project airs at 9:00 (EST) on Oxygen.

The Voice

I'm back and so is my
obsession with Adam
Levine. :)
I'm back! After a work schedule from hell and a killer tooth ache (I had part one of a root canal this morning), I'm back. Instead of trying to go back and fill in the blanks, I'm going to pick up where I left off.

I have to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed watching The Voice. And now that we’ve entered the competition phase, I’m enjoying it even more. Last week, we started with performances from Team Christina and Team Blake. Even though, as the teams compete, two people from each team will move on, if I were judging team performances as a whole, I have to say, I have to give the edge to Team Christina. Her girls just seemed more polished.

Blake had two terrified teammates. Despite working with her, Xenia Martinez was scared sh*tless not to mention stiff as a cadaver throughout her performance of Jessie J’s Price Tag. Her attempts at movement were hard to watch (the pointing in particular was hideous). Dia Franco had a piano to help hide her fear while performing a ballad version of Kanye West’s Heartless. I could hear the fear in her voice and it was distracting.

Meanwhile on Team Xtina, 16-year old Raquel Castro kicked off the evening with her version of Ke$ha’s Blow. She had the dancers and the polish of a true professional. Beverly McClellan with her bald head and kilt brought the power to Melissa Etheridge’s I’m the Only One. Lily Elise had a little less luck with her team of male back-up dancers for her performance of Fergie’s Big Girls Don’t Cry. The whole thing just looked awkward. Frenchie Davis closed the show in a big way with David Guleta’s When Love Takes Over.

It was the boys on Team Blake that delivered for me. Rocker/Father of 7, Jared Blake covered Kings of Leon’s Use Somebody. Patrick Thomas kept it country with a solid performance of I Hope You Dance (a song I hope I never hear again every time I hear it).

The other thing I like about The Voice is the fact that the judges are performers. We had all four judges covering a mash-up of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody/We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions. Christina also covered her version of Lady Marmalade with her team while Blake and his team covered Maroon Five’s This Love.

You won’t see Simon singing on The X-Factor.