The following article contains massive spoilers (and not just like, "Estes acts like a d-bag" spoilers) about the Season 2 finale of Homeland.
In 2011, United States Marine Nicholas Brody was rescued from an underground terrorist base in Afghanistan, after having been captured and held prisoner by the forces of al-Qaeda for eight years. Brody, as he is affectionately called by his wife and friends, was returned home to America, where he would reunite with his family, earn notoriety as a nationwide hero, and accelerate professionally to the level of congressman and vice presidential hopeful. But there was a side to Brody that the world didn't see, even with the influx of reporters and public figures storming his home from every corner of the Virginia countryside. What CIA Agent Carrie Mathison, her associates Saul Berenson, freelance surveillance experts Virgil and Max, and the highly addicted Homeland audience began to suspect: is this dude a terrorist? Long story short, yes. At least, he was.
Sunday night brought the second season of the Showtime series to a close, also seeming to put a lid on all of our distrusts regarding Brody. The episode concluded with a gigantic explosion, which took the lives of dozens of attendees of Vice President Walden's funeral, including his wife and teenage son, and CIA Director of Counterterrorism David Estes. Absent from the event, quite conveniently, are Carrie Mathison and Nicholas Brody, who sneaked away to have a romantic foray just in time to avoid the wrath of the bomb... which was detonated from within Brody's car.
If you didn't catch the episode, the above synopsis will probably suggest with near certainty that Brody was responsible for the act of terrorism (which was followed by a television broadcast of an al-Qaeda message proclaiming patronage of the explosion). But Homeland seems to want us to think that our pursed-lipped hero is in fact innocent. The final moments of the episode had Carrie sending Brody off to the freedom of Canada (where no one will ever find him!), and set our favorite secret agent off on a quest to prove her inscrutably beloved soldier's innocence — such, we assume this to be the course of action for Season 3/the show's Lifetime movie adaptation: My Boyfriend Is Not a Terrorist: The Carrie Mathison Story.
But something seems... missing. We were invited into the world of Homeland on the premise of a huge-scale whodunit. For the majority of Season 1, fans weren't sure what exactly was up with Brody — was he really a terrorist? Was Carrie Mathison, in fact, crazy? And what was lurking beneath Saul Berenson's beard? All mysteries with which we happily engaged. But Season 2 put a lot of this ambiguity to rest, instead allowing us to watch idly as one crazy, adrenal situation after another played out onscreen. And this seems to be the way Season 3 is setting up to introduce its formula.
What we really need from the show, however, is a return to this active-viewing form: the "Is Brody a terrorist?" game that was as fun and engrossing as a round of international Clue. Of course, that's just one opinion. A few members of the Hollywood.com staff chimed in to give their take on directions that would best suit Homeland's third season:"Despite what the showrunners may say, the Season 2 finale still had me doubting Brody's intentions as well as his feelings for Carrie. Season 3 needs to get rid of this question mark once and for all by telling us definitively whether Brody is a good guy or a bad guy. Because this flip-flopping business is exhausting. Also, the 'Carrie is alone and crazy' card is so thoroughly played out, in order to hold my interest Season 3 needs to give Carrie a team. Let's see a Brody Berenson Mathison Quinn coalition (a la Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce). And bring back Galvez!" - Abbey Stone
"If Season 3 went back to exploring Carrie's work on the ground floor (especially now that Saul is in charge), not just her trying to cover up for Brody, the show might have a shot at getting back to the fascinating, intelligent show about terrorism that it it was when it started out." - Aly Semigran
"I think that Season 3 of Homeland should mostly be about Dana. She needs to get a new haircut and change her name so that no one knows who she really is. I think we should see her go to college and meet a nice boy. She has a hard time trusting men, considering that her father is now an exposed terrorist and that her last boyfriend ran over a lady and left her dead body in the street and then he died in a CIA bombing that her father may or may not have orchestrated. But she meets a guy and they fight and break up and then they get back together and she wears a lot of black... Oh, wait, that's what I DON'T want Season 3 to be about." - Brian Moylan
"Homeland would benefit from jumping ahead 100 years into the future. Don't worry — they invented technology to keep Carrie and co. around. So they'll still be trying to figure out if Brody is a terrorist or not, but now they'll have laser guns and teleportation machines." - Matt PatchesWhat are some of your ideas about where the show should go from here?
[Photo Credit: Kent Smith/Showtime]
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John (Will Arnett) and Dean Solomon (Will Forte) are as much related by blood as they are by their stupidity but apparently there’s room for them to grow even dumber. When their father (Lee Majors) slips into a sudden coma the brothers rush over—after stopping to rent a video—to be by his side. Once at the hospital they learn that their dad had but one unfulfilled wish: to become a grandfather. So begins the search for a female to impregnate in order to the brothers believe keep their father alive. It doesn’t take long after posting an ad on Craigslist for the bros to find their mate—or at least a woman named Janine (Kristen Wiig) who agrees to become artificially inseminated and bear their child for $12 000. As Janine’s trimesters pass by John and Dean prepare to become fathers by baby-proofing their apartment with strategically placed combination locks and by running practice drills for potential disasters—like what to do when the newborn jumps off the stairwell from 15 stories up. But nothing can prepare them for the third-trimester shocker delivered by Janine and her on-again off-again boyfriend (Chi McBride). Will Arnett desperately needs Arrested Development to come back and Will Forte—well he’s just lucky to have Saturday Night Live to fall back on a place where he can commiserate with fellow cast member/recent big-screen failure Andy Samberg. Arnett who has made some awful post-TV decisions but none worse than this excels at dry smart comedy so while he can make due with some of the smirk-worthy moments in Brothers the overtly moronic material falls well beneath his range and thus flat. Forte is better suited for such stupidity with his trademark imbecilic grin but as is the case on SNL his scenes tend to be more annoying than funny. Another SNL-er Wiig at least saves face by not even attempting to play it funny or sarcastic; however that just shifts the mood from too-goofy to awkwardly non-goofy. McBride (Boston Public) scores a few stereotype-exploiting laughs while Cameron Diaz look-alike and hope-to-be Malin Akerman (HBO’s The Comeback) in a role that’s completely inessential to the story is really only there for looks. And so maybe there is something redeeming about this movie! With the Judd Apatows and Seth Rogens of today brilliantly covering the whole spectrum of hilarity—from dumb to smart—doofus comedy is as dead a sub-genre as torture porn (i.e. Hostel: Part II). That said The Brothers Solomon’s concept courtesy of writer/star Forte might’ve actually worked in the vein of the aforementioned Apatow-ian system. But director Bob Odenkirk—another great-at-TV (Mr. Show) bad-at-film (Let's Go to Prison) casualty—aims very low. As with similar movies most gags are predictable overlong and unrewarding; call it “The Saturday Night Live Effect ” which expressly states that a feature-length film must try and stretch what may be mildly funny in a three-minute sketch into 90 minutes. The stretching-humor theme is in fact rampant throughout. Case in point: During an airplane-billboard scene towards the end Odenkirk displays some inventiveness for about a minute before dragging the same gag out for at least five more minutes (though it’s a challenge to keep track of time at that point).
This follow-up to Daddy Day Care picks up with Charlie Hinton (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and Phil Ryerson (Paul Rae) running their thriving day care business. With summer approaching however the prospect of camp for their sons comes up and Charlie vehemently opposes to it. He had bad camp experiences you see but when he grudgingly takes his son Ben (Spencir Bridges) to Camp Driftwood he finds that his old rival Lance Warner (Lochlyn Munro) is running the swanky Camp Canola nearby. Camp Driftwood is of course in shambles but Charlie thinks he can fix it up and continue his business into the summer. The first day goes badly so Charlie is forced to call in his father Buck (Richard Gant) to help with the outdoorsy stuff as Lance continues to taunt Charlie and his kids into an Olympiad competition. The story actually provides a strong moral center about fathers and sons communicating while the jokes don't get any more sophisticated than poison ivy and farts. But that's what you bargained for. You can say one thing about Gooding and Rae: They never make you think about Eddie Murphy and Jeff Garlin the original Daddys. There’s some continuity but Gooding and Rae make these characters their own—for better or for worse. Gooding is a father trying to make a better life for his son who has his own daddy issues while Rae is once again just the goofy sidekick. In the wild moments Gooding prances and mugs like a cartoon character with no subtlety whatsoever but tones it down appropriately in the more serious moments. Gant (Norbit) gives Daddy Day Camp its heart. As the strict military patriarch it’s a little much when he turns all Col. Buck on the kids but it's believable. But then when he slowly breaks down and realizes what an absent father he's been those moments work. Character actor Munro (Deck the Halls) seems happy to once again play the bad guy. Director Fred Savage (yes the same kid actor from The Wonder Years) made the best Daddy Day Camp he could considering the subject matter. All it really takes is setting up one comic disaster after another for the heroes to overcome. Scenes with hordes of screaming kids running rampant are plentiful of course and it couldn't have been easy to coordinate that take after take. But balancing the silly antics with the film's heart is the most impressive task. As much as it may be a chore to sit through unsophisticated kiddie pratfalls you've got to respect how the meaningful scenes play out. There is a real journey in Daddy Day Camp. Sure the kids will laugh at the sloppy muddy gooey gunk but the parents may appreciate the other stuff.
Crime has always come naturally to John Lyshitski (Dax Shepard). As a young boy he stole the Publishers Clearing House truck and tried to cash the check inside--and the list goes on. For each crime the same judge hands down the verdict and becomes No. 1 on Lyshitski’s s**t list. Following release from his latest stint in the slammer Lyshitski seeks to finally act on his hatred for the judge only to learn that he died just days ago--but his son Nelson Biederman IV (Will Arnett) is free. Wealthy and bratty Biederman is the kind of guy anyone would love to hate and John exacts revenge on him. Getting him thrown in the can is the easy part but John wants to actually witness and take part in Nelson’s prison hazing. So with relative ease and indifference he intentionally gets himself thrown in prison for selling pot and shacks up with Nelson. Now he gets to give him “the full treatment.” For Shepard and Arnett admission into the fabled “Frat Pack” (whose ever-expanding alumni include Vince Vaughn Owen and Luke Wilson and Will Ferrell) is still a ways away but Prison is a good cred builder. Shepard (Employee of the Month TV’s Punk’d) might be a minor hit away from becoming a star. He has a natural knack for comedy but also has shown great variation from role to role. In Prison his impassivity towards incarceration and its goings-on is funny but this is still not the vehicle to transport him to “breakout” stardom. Arnett has more work to do. His brand of comedy is more dry i.e. his late great Gob on Arrested Development. The more overt comedy in Prison Arnett's biggest film role to date doesn’t always work but that’s not to say he doesn’t provide hilarity. Chi McBride (TV’s Boston Public) sheds his shirt for laughs as rotund inmate Barry. Dylan Baker (Happiness) is funnily sadistic as the warden and David Koechner himself a “Frat Pack” fringester is zany as usual. Adapted loosely from Jim Hogshire’s cult book You Are Going to Prison the film doesn’t always successfully translate. But it occasionally makes up for its comedic misfires by being funny in unexpected ways. For that we can thank director Bob Odenkirk--who also has a small role in the film--a man who’s given us underappreciated shock humor for years (and by “shock” we mean the kind that sneaks up on you not the Borat kind). The co-star and -creator of HBO’s beloved Mr. Show--along with the equally outlandish David Cross--Odenkirk is never satisfied with the straightforward stuff and often swings for the fences. Sometimes he misses but when it’s funny it’s hilarious! Such is the case with Let's Go to Prison (and he re-teams with Arnett on next year’s The Brothers Solomon) which is stupid-funny in a way that might turn it into a cult hit upon DVD release.
Maybe you’re concerned Snakes on a Plane isn’t going to live up to the hype. Stop worrying. Those fanatic Internet bloggers who’ve been raving about the movie just from the snippets they’ve seen pegged the movie to a tee. SoaP is everything its cracked up to be and more a monster movie and disaster flick rolled into one. Granted the plot is wafer thin: FBI Agent Neville Flynn (Jackson) has to transport a key witness Sean (Nathan Phillips) from Hawaii to L.A. so he can testify against a nasty mob boss who in turn hatches such a diabolical plan to dispose of the witness that even James Bond would be impressed. That’s right. Said nasty mob boss arranges the release of several varieties of poisonous snakes on the flight so either a) Sean will get bitten and die and/or b) the plane crashes. End of story. How can you go wrong with that? Jackson is one smart cookie. He heard the title of this movie and said yes immediately--despite the objections of his agents--recognizing the brilliance of a title so obvious it's foolproof. “My agents have finally figured out that I’m going to do what I want ” the actor told Entertainment Weekly. “Every now and then I want to do a movie that isn’t ‘stretching my abilities.’ It’s that simple.” All we have to do to be satisfied is watch Jackson scream a few cuss words lay down the law with the freaked passengers say lines like “Well that’s good news. Snakes on crack ” and kick some serious serpent booty. There’s a bunch of unknown actors also onboard to serve mostly as snake food but a few do survive including former ER nurse Julianna Margulies who does a nice turn as the head flight attendant sparring with the snakes and getting a little cozy with Jackson. In the words of Indiana Jones “Snakes. Why does it have to be snakes?” There’s a distinct phobia in the air whenever you mention those particular reptiles so that’s why the “monster” part of SoaP is even more horrifying--and changing the rating from PG-13 to R makes a world of difference. I mean um OUCH. That’s basically what I was mumbling through the harrowing parts watching through splayed fingers. Director David R. Ellis even goes as far as to give you a snake’s perspective as it zeroes in on its next victim. Shiver. Yes the premise is ridiculous. Yes you have to sit through some silly exposition before the snakes show up and will be able to pick out the ones who’ll make it through till the end. But honestly if you love a good disaster-y thrill ride and don’t mind snakes SoaP is the last summer movie you should see.