Five Things You Did to Change 2012

Hollywood is more short-sighted than Mr. Magoo, so everything you did in 2011 is going to come back and haunt you in 2012. Here are five ways your 2011 entertainment choices will lead to more of the same:

(1) “The Lion King 3D” made $94 million.

“The Lion King 3D” was a smash hit despite the fact it’s more than a decade old and you probably own it on DVD, VHS, Laserdisc, or BetaMax. So what happens now? Well, the movies are already made so, in 2012, you’re getting “Beauty and the Beast 3D,” “Finding Nemo 3D”, “Titanic 3D” and “Star Wars: Episode I: #^!@#! Jar Jar Binks in 3D”. Yes, an even more annoying Jar-Jar is your fault because you wanted to sing Hakuna Matata and that is NOT a wonderful thing.

(2) You refuse to stop watching “Glee!”

Sure, the “Glee” movie bombed horribly (see HERE) and the ratings are in decline, but you’re still watching it and buying the singles. In fact, the cast of “Glee” already has more songs on the Billboard music chart than The Beatles ever did. See HERE (via KK).The cast of “Glee” has had more songs chart than the Beatles

So, what happens now? You’re getting “Joyful Noise”, a choir musical/dramedy/race riot film with Dolly “Country is Better, Honey!” Parton squaring off against Queen “No, it ain’t, bitch!” Latifah in a giant Jesus-inspired musical. And you’re getting “Rock of Ages”, the hair band musical starring Tom Cruise. And the clearer rip-off “Smash” on NBC, with “American Idol” wash-out Katherine McPhee as a singer trying to make it on Broadway with the help of Debra “Grace of Will & …” Messing. Maybe the new “Les Miserables” musical starring Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, and Russell Crowe will be good. Yes, you read those names correctly.

(3) Speaking of Jesus, “Courageous” was a huge hit in theatres.

Never heard of “Courageous”? Then, you’re probably too busy sinning and performing unspeakable acts of sodomy. “Courageous”, a heartwarming tale of why Evangelical Christians are far better people than you, cost $2 million and made $34 million (before the 100,000 DVDs bought by “Movie of the Month” church groups). So, what happens now? Tim Tebow won’t be the only one praying on your TV screen. Expect more Christian-amped entertainment, though the new 2012 TV show “Good Christian Bitches” should be more snarky than sanctimonious.

(4) Your favorite movie franchises are ending so … back to superheroes!

Harry Potter waved his wand for the last time and the Twilight cast is getting ready to put their shirts on and head into much less spectacular movie careers, so Hollywood knows it needs something big. With no superhero movie hitting big (“Thor” was the highest as the 8th biggest movie of 2011), Hollywood is set-up for an amazing superhero year. “The Dark Knight Rises” alone warrants an entire summer, but there’s also the much-hyped, much-anticipated “The Avengers” and “The Amazing Spider-man” getting its reboot. And that just includes traditional superheroes … “Men in Black 3” is also on its way, as are “G.I. Joe 2” and a Jason Bourne movie expected to be awful because it lacks … well … Jason Bourne. Matt Damon was too busy buying a zoo.

5) You refuse to accept new things.

In addition to all of the sequels listed in #4, let’s look at 2011’s top 5 films in order: (1) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2; (2) Transformers: Dark of the Moon, (3) Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part I; (4) The Hangover Part II, and (5) Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.

… notice a trend? No? Well, #6 is “Fast Five” and #7 is “Cars 2”. How about now? Hollywood knows you get scared of new things, so, don’t worry, you can return to the same-old, same-old with 27 franchise films in 2012, and the long anticipated “The Hobbit.” Heck, they’re making two movies based on Snow White (see HERE), NBC’s newest legal show is based on a book and movie more than 15 years old “(The Firm”) and there’s even a new movie starring Rihanna and Liam Neeson about the plot-heavy board game “BATTLESHIP!” Can’t wait for the “Mouse Trap” movie. I predict the budget is going to skyrocket when they can’t get the damn set to work.

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Five Things About NBC

NBC wasn’t always the red-headed stepchild of networks. Lately, however, its failures (“The Playboy Club”, “Free Agents”, “Prime Suspect”) have far outnumbered its successes (… not replacing the channel with a rainbow strip and static?)

Here are five things you should know about NBC:

(1) “Fear Factor” is back. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it — throw money at it! Though “Fear Factor” has been gone for six years, it came back with a vengeance last week with the same host (Joe “UFC” Rogan), same producers, and a bigger budget. What has resulted is NBC’s first hit of the year. On Monday, “Fear Factor” was the #1 show across all networks among ages 18-34 (the only ones that matter to advertisers), the first time NBC has had a #1 show in a long time that didn’t involve live football coverage. I can only wonder what’s coming back next … oh, nevermind, I do know. It’s “The Munsters.” Yes, that cooky kinda like “The Addams Family” show before my time is set to return in 2012. I expect it will be awful.

(2) Ben Bailey is a rising star … provided he stops falling for NBC’s crap. Ben Bailey, Emmy winning host of the best game show on TV (“Cash Cab”) is now the host of a new game show “Who’s Still Standing?”, which premiered Monday on NBC. Think of it as “Cash Cab”, except when you get enough questions wrong, the trap door below you drops out rather than you having to exit in the middle of a Jets v. Sharks street fight in a side alley. Which is more dangerous, I do not know, but the questions are embarassingly easy and Ben Bailey deserves better work. (It’s on again tonight if you don’t believe me.)

(3) “30 Rock” returns in January. NBC’s award-winning powerhouse (though ratings failure) returns in January after Tina Fey selfishly put her family and desire to have a child over NBC’s scheduling woes. Though stewardesses nationwide promise to protest over Alec Baldwin’s “the rules don’t apply to me and my Words with Friends” antics, could the ratings go any lower? 

(4) “Community” is not dead yet. Sure, NBC didn’t put “Community” on their spring schedule (see HERE and commentary HERE), but it still has episodes to air and syndication is oh so close … While the ratings were lousy, they always are on NBC and a devoted fan following might keep this show on the air one more season. Though Facebook is abuzz with “Community” posts (MC, shout out to you), the show gained no new viewers for its mid-season (season? series?) finale two weeks ago. Way to band together and stick it to NBC … or not.

(5) “Saturday Night Live” is on pace to last forever. Last weekend’s Michael Buble / Jimmy Fallon episode had the highest ratings since May, following last week’s episode, which had the highest ratings since May. What was in May, you ask? Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga hosted a show that got “Saturday Night Live”‘s highest ratings in seven years.

What will 2012 bring for NBC? Time will only tell, but it can’t get any worse, can it?

Five Things About The Golden Globes

Golden Globe nominations were announced today (full list HERE). As always, there were disappointment and surprises, but no embarassments like the recent decision to give “Burlesque” a Best Picture nomination.

Five Things to Consider:

(1) The Golden Globes hate “The Muppets”. This was the time for “The Muppets” to shine with a Best Comedy (Best Picture) nomination. Instead, the Globes nominated the supposedly sub-par “My Week with Marilyn” alongside expected nominees “50/50” (very good, but more drama than comedy), “The Artist” (get used to seeing this one on lists), “Bridesmaids” (all to help leverage Melissa McCarthy’s possible Oscar nom), “Carnage” (phenomenal play, phenomenal actors, phenomal yet pedophilic director…), and “Midnight in Paris” (Woody Allen has a commercial success?). It also received ZERO nominations for best song, despite two of the best of the year.

(2) The Golden Globes love Ryan Gosling. Nominated for Best Actor-Drama (“The Ides of March”) and Best Actor-Comedy (“Crazy Stupid Love”, though more like “Sexy” than “Stupid” based on People magazine’s obsession with Gosling’s abs), the Globes ignored “Drive” but was it really an acting performance? He’s pretty quiet and somber throughout the stylistic movie but, then again, the whole cast of “The Artist” is silent as it’s a silent film and all.

(3) The Golden Globes love TV creator Ryan Murphy. You say “Glee” has fallen asunder into a weekly rehash of trite performances and unbelievable plots? The Globes say it’s a Best Comedy nominee, much more deserving than “Community” and “Parks and Rec.” You say “Breaking Bad” and “The Good Wife” are two of TV’s best dramas (and “The Walking Dead” one of the most entertaining)? The Globes say “American Horror Story” is better. Both Ryan Murphy shows, both denied better shows a good nomination.

(4) George Clooney is the new Johnny Depp. The Globes normally just gave a nomination evert time Depp touched a movie (“The Tourist”, anyone?), but now it’s Clooney, with Best Screenplay (“Ides of March”), Director (“Ides of March”), and Actor (“The Descendants”) nominations. The second two are deserved, but the first knocks out better writing this year like in “Win Win.”

(5) There’s still room for surprises. Because the Globes have drama and comedy categories, some well-deserved performances can make their way in. Two examples: Brendan Gleeson’s excellent performance in “The Guard” and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s strong, dramatic performance in “50/50”; neither Oscar likelies, but both nominated here for Comedic Actor. Ignore all of the crying, “I have cancer” drama — “50/50” is a comedy! Yeah …

All in all, not bad, but it begs the question: These are the best movies of 2011? Not a strong year. Here’s to 2012 and “The Dark Knight Rises.”

My Listed Guide to Movie Lists

This is the time of year when critics far and wide start to list their favorite movies. Sometimes you see an unheralded gem slide into a spot. Other times, you are shocked in disbelief (Time magazine … this means you and your inclusion of “Fast Five”). But there are some universal truths that everyone needs to know and sharing them with you will be cathartic so thank you for this therapy session. You are permitted to envision me laying on a couch in your office. I am fully clothed … the whole time.

(1) Critics are temperamental little bitches who love to be glorified

How do I know this? I am one, though try my best to separate myself from the pretentiousness as much as possible (example: “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” has a very strong shot of making my top 10). You need to understand that most critics are emotionally flawed in some way as you look at their choices. Is “Hugo” a good movie? Despite some minor flaws, Martin Scorsese absolutely deserves an Oscar nomination and perhaps a win. But what will propel “Hugo” far up in the lists is that it’s a movie for people passionate about movies. It’s not often someone makes a 2-hour epic about the importance of film preservation, so this film will give added meaning to the lives of people who live only through critiquing others’ movies. And critics LOVE that!

(2) The “best” movie is not usually the “most enjoyable”

Hands down, “The Muppets” is going to be my pick for most enjoyable film of the year. It is unbridled fun and, in the words of my mother, “pure joy on screen.” It has laughs, singing, dancing, some witty lines and smart cameos (some bad cameos (Serena Gomez, I’m looking at you)) and is an epic mixture of nostalgia and the rebirth of the Muppets. Yet I have a hard time picking it as my number one because is it really a masterpiece? An advancement in film? No, but … life’s a happy song! And I’m a man, not a muppet! Instead, expect to see a lot of “The Artist”, which has potential to be very enjoyable — or it might just be a way-too-artsy black and white silent film from France about the film industry (see #1, above, for why this matters a lot).

(3) Movies released before September don’t exist.

The best film lists can’t possibly avoid nine months. Well, they do. Off the top of my head, I can only think of three films released before September that won Best Picture in the last two decades: “The Silence of the Lambs”, “Gladiator”, and “The Hurt Locker.” “Hurt Locker” benefitted from a DVD push and some residual “Avatar”‘s been-here-before-but-it’s-oh-so-pretty malaise, while “Gladiator” and “The Silence of the Lambs” were box office smashes. Hopefully, the Oscars don’t again avoid brilliant performances from months past (Paul Giammati in “Win Win” is better than George Clooney in either “The Ides of March” or “The Descendants” or, frankly, Paul Giamatti in “The Ides of March” though all four performances are worthy), but they tend to. So, those of you looking to see those masterful January releases “Season of the Witch”, “From Prada to Nada” or “The Green Hornet” at the Oscars … sorry. There is an exception, of course …

(4) The Oscars are starting to sell out

The Golden Globes are about as reputable as a Congressman saying “I did not have sex with that woman, man, small woodland creature….” Want an example? “Burlesque” was nominated for Best Picture. Here’s an interesting anecdote:

“The whole reason the Globes exist as the boozy, star-filled public spectacle we TiVo today is because, back in 1958, Old Blue Eyes, along with fellow Ratpackers Sammy Davis, Jr. and Dean Martin, got tired of that whole boring part where they announce the winners. Sufficiently soused, the three jumped on stage with cigarettes and high-balls in hand, and hi-jacked/hosted the then modest awards show.” (via VF)

So, okay, the Golden Globes are the drunken uncle of awards and, like that drunken uncle, can be absolutely hilarious — but not the Oscars! Well, yes, the Oscars. Back when “The Dark Knight” was denied a well-deserved Best Picture nomination, fans were angry and people stopped watching. So, instead of deciding to expand the nominees to an unset number of worthy films each year, they expanded the field to ten films a year. That brought the hideously boring “A Serious Man” and the tear jerker I loved so shut up but it’s not a best picture nominee “The Blind Side”. And, for 2011, it will bring “The Help”, also helpful because the list of Oscar winners is really just a few shades darker than a KKK rally. (I held back on my even less PC my first analogy here…)

and (5): Critics who have not seen all likely winners shouldn’t post lists, but they do

Many critics feel that the list of their top 10 movies deserves attention. It often does not. There’s a reason why you won’t see my top 10 list in the next few weeks and not just because I’m on this hiatus. It’s because there are at least 15 films I haven’t seen yet that have made lists. My list is woefully incomplete. However, this doesn’t stop critics with deadlines (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “War Horse”, and “The Iron Lady” were shown to critics a week after some big lists started to get published), so keep an eye out if the list includes movies that have all been released.

Remember these five simple things as you look at the lists and, oh, one more thing: Mahna Mahna.

Turkey Day Hiatus

Well Thanksgiving is here and you can probably understand when I say I have more important things to do today than attempt to make you all cooler.  All day every day I selflessly dispense musical wisdom in the vain hope that even a fraction will be taken up.  Now it is time to focus on number one for a change.  But don’t worry, I’ll leave you a little something to tide you over.  I would never disappoint my adoring public.  Happy Turkey Day everyone!

 

Crazy movie lawsuits

Crazy movie lawsuits! No, I’m not talking about crazy lawsuits in movies (despite “The Dark Knight” being brilliant, the scene where they arraign every single member of the criminal organization in one “How do you plead?” moment made me laugh). Instead, I’m talking about two insane recent lawsuits ABOUT movies.

Case one: Spain isn’t very permissive of safe sex (Catholic Church 4EVA!), but safe driving? That’s a serious issue! The studio behind “Larry Crowne” (Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts’ failed attempt to be relevant again) was fined for the movie poster, which has Hanks and Roberts riding a moped without helmets. There’s a law penalizing anyone who promotes unsafe driving practices. Guess they should have done something safe, like went running with the bulls.

Case two: “Drive” was a well-made film, with intelligent direction and cinematography that harkened back to the 1970s. It, however, was not “Fast and the Furious” or “The Transporter” and Ryan Gosling rarely says a word in the entire film despite being its lead. To know that, you could (a) read any review or (b) ask someone who saw it. Or you could get angry and sue. Yes, a Michigan woman decided to sue the makers of “Drive” because “there is very little driving in the motion picture.” (I’m guessing her lawyer is old because who uses “motion picture” anymore?) Not only does she want her money back, she wants to start a class action lawsuit against misleading film trailers. Well, if that’s true, I want in: “Pearl Harbor” has easily one of the five best trailers of all time and that movie was an awful threesome (of the boring variety). I know one of you strongly agrees (please comment!)

Gambino v Drake

Ok, just a couple of things.  First, Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino aka Troy Barnes is becoming one of the most talented entertainers around.  The guy has always been funny.  He wrote for 30 Rock, plays one of the funniest characters on TV, and was a pretty decent rapper.  Now, judging from this performance the other night on Conan he is now more than just a decent rapper.  He’s a performer.

Glover has been spitting out mixtapes under the Gambino name for a few years now.  All of them full of dexterous wordplay and killer one liners (the man is a comedy writer after all).  Now his first official release, Camp, is a few days old and its becoming more and more clear that this hip hop thing is no joke.  He just keeps getting better and better.

Alright, point number two. There is another music blog that I frequent called Pigeons and Planes. Its a hip hop and indie rock site but it definitely leaning toward the former.  The last few days there seems to be a bit of a war brewing in the comments section between fans of Childish Gambino and Drake.  I am perplexed because, other than both having albums released on the same day (Drake’s Take Care on Young Money and Glover’s Camp on indie Glassnote), I don’t see what the two have in common.  They seem to be part of two separate worlds, one awful (Drake) and one not awful (Gambino).

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R. Kelly: Idiot Savant

Besides being a colossal nutbag R. Kelly is also so incredibly creative that it borders on mental illness.  If there ever was a celebrity whose biography needed to be written it his.  This book is being written (it’s an autobiography, by the way), praise the lord!  The release date is still in question but the title is not.  It could not be more perfect.  R. Kelly’s autobiography is titled, “Soula Coaster:  The Diary of Me.”  Oh yeah, that’s real, and its wonderful.

Side Note:  Maybe you thought it was done by a 12 year old with photo shop, but that is actually the real book cover above.  Merry early Christmas to us all.

Not Again!

I was wasting time on the internet the other day and I found something truly disturbing.  Since I am assuming all of you have used the internet before I understand that I need to be more specific.  Something is going on here.  Something that I thought we were done with.  Something horrible.  What am I talking about?  BOY BANDS!  NOOOOOOOOO!

The site itself was Billboard.com and apparently they felt the need to create a list of the top 21 artists under the age of 21.  It is a decidedly horrible list with predictable faces like Miley Cyrus, Scotty McCreary, and the detestable, but obvious, Justin Bieber.  How could someone who has yet to see puberty have anything remotely interesting to say?  But what made me the saddest is the number of boy bands on this list.

For as long as music has existed and girls have been able to scream there has been boy bands.  That isn’t to say that good looking dudes who play music together must be unlistentable.  Ever hear of the Beatles?  Jackson 5?  The Temptations?  Yes, they were boy bands but they were musicians first.

The boy bands I am talking about are exactly who you are thinking of.  Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, that one with the guy that dumb girl married.  Those were dark times for culture in the United States.  The grunge gods who were sporting flannel and avoiding the shower were replaced by bleach blonde mannequins in color-coordinated outfits.  It was a dark time my friends.  Lives were destroyed.  Families torn apart.  Mediocrity reigned!

Do you really want this to come back?

Now, just when we thought were rid of them.  A new threat is trying to shimmy back into our collective consciousness and I argue that this new group is worse.  Why?  Because they are so much younger and my god are they horrible.  Meet…

One Direction

Mindless Behavior

Big Time Rush

Oh the horror!  Terrible music and terrible haircuts abound!  Why are we allowing this America?  All you parents out there have the power to stop this nonsense.  Guess who buys these garbage albums.  Adolescent girls.  Guess who has zero money.  Adolescent girls.  Wait…so how are they getting a hold of these albums?  Crazed gangs of 7th graders knocking over Best Buy?  God no.  Their idiot parents give them the money.  Its a simple solution:  stop giving your culturally retarded children money to purchase garbage.  Without money the middle aged sleazeballs who create these music murderers will be forced to move on.  Its that simple.  So, its on you parents.  Like Smokey the Bear says, “Only you can prevent the continued cultural decline of America.”

Jeff Tweedy and Dad Rock

Recently, Jeff Tweedy, lead singer of the band Wilco, was interviewed in Men’s Journal where he was asked how he felt about his music being labeled by some critics as “dad rock.”  I take some offense to this label.  Sure Wilco isn’t necessarily in that super cool category with all the bedroom chillwavers and Pabst swilling hipsters but they consistently make intelligent, interesting, and just plain good music.

Why is this considered cool?

I think the problem is that our “rock music,” which used to be the music of youth and rebellion, has been taken over by schlock jockeys like the Nickelback’s and Blue October’s of the world.  We have a whole generation of budding music lovers who are growing up thinking that “rock” is either for idiot frat boys or its the stuff that your parents used to listen to and its making them run the other direction.  Why do you think hip hop is so popular?  I just glanced at the Billboard Rock Chart and do you realize that Seether has two songs in the top ten?  I don’t know one Seether song let alone two that are good enough to be in the top ten on any list.

This isn't any better.

At some point rock music became uncool and that just doesn’t make any sense.  Ever seen the Black Keys live?  Nobody is cooler.  What about Queens of the Stone Age?  Easily the loudest concert I’ve ever been to.  Josh Homme is a modern guitar god.  There are great “rock” bands out there.

It’s not that the young guns like Wavves aren’t making good music, because they are, its that when it comes down to it, its just they really aren’t good musicians yet.  There is such an emphasis put on being unpolished and creating this scuzzy, grainy sound but what the young’uns don’t realize is that these artists (No Age, Memory Tapes, Ty Segall) will grow in age and musicianship and leave that sound behind.  The bedroom recording scene was created out of necessity, not out of conscious effort.  Now, bands who are polished and are accomplished are being penalized for being good at their jobs.

Yeah, so maybe Tweedy and his mates don’t make “cool” music but they do make good music.  With so many hacks out there getting by on the cool factor rather than talent, I’ll take the guys who are good at what they do.  In ten years we will compare the number of Wilco fans to the number of people who still care about the Sick Puppies.  I think we all know what direction those results will be leaning.