The most recent Mr. Holland's Opus-ode of Bob's Burgers sends Bob into Wagstaff Elementary to be the substitute Home Economic teacher. Points off for yet another "Bob takes on a new job of the week" plot, when the ongoing struggles of the restaurant tend to be funnier. But points back on for finding the perfect genre that mixes agressive jokes and heart, and that's what the show does best.
And Bob turns out to be a great teacher, who's passionate enough to patiently engage the toughest of students (even ones who ask, "What's a beverage?"). He even delivers an inspirational screed to Zeke, who takes a break from roughousing with Jimmy Jr. to prove he's a good enough chef to headline their "Home Ec-staurant." Eventually, Bob's success gets the Wagstaff lunchladies and their employers, the evil Caf Co. food company, ready to shut him down. But all it takes is a Dead Poet's Society-type display of affection to inspire Bob to make a final stand and serve one last lunch with the kids. It ends up more inspirational than many of the movies it's parodying.
Now, let's look at the best moments from each character this week:
Bob: While once Bob gets his fervor for teaching there's plenty to enjoy, his best moment is probably his initial terrified disbelief at how the home ec class behaves. "Kids are terrible. Why do we keep having them?"
Linda: Shuffled off to a minor story teaching Teddy how to dance, Linda doesn't have much going on, but the herky-jerky way she dances will always be hysterical.
Tina: Tina gets shuffled off by the writers much like she was shuffled off by Bob in lieu of more Home Ec. humor, but it was sweet how little Bob had to do in order to win her back from the dungeon of metal shop class. "[You need me] to wash dishes?" "Yes, but also prep work." "Okay!"
Gene: When a classmate compliments his dad's teaching, he responds, "He's married! To a friend of mine."
Louise: The youngest Belcher is on fire with the one liners. "I can't go back to my old job. I burned a lot of bridges there." Now when are we going to get another Gene and/or Louise episode?
Guest MVP: Zeke (Bobby Tisdale) is in good form this week, managing to be Bob's teacher's pet without losing his gross, immature edges. "We're busier than a monkey with six ding-alings!" But Larry Murphy also deserves special mention for voicing most of the guest characters lately, from his usual Teddy to Hildy, the mustachioed lunch lady.
Recurring Gags: The first Burgers of the Week in a while, "Edward James Olive-Most" and "Bohemian Radishy," were worth the wait.
Final Judgment: Pass +.
The words "riding through this world, all alone" have never been more true for Sons of Anarchy's Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam). At the end of last season, new President Jax found himself lying to the entire club (and his family) to maintain a deal he never signed up for with the CIA — whose cartel double agent (Danny Trejo) needed the Sons to help them nail their IRA connections. The problem is, the IRA will only work with the Sons through Clay (Ron Perlman) — Jax's baddie stepdad who had recently beat Jax's mother, Gemma (Katey Sagal), and murdered founding member Piney (William Lucking) to cover his own ass. Oh yeah — and Jax finally learned that Clay had killed his own father decades before. To say the least, Jax would have preferred to see Clay dead. Instead, he now has to sit with him at the table, pretending as if none of it ever happened. And, of course, if the club finds out he's been working with the CIA, that could mean his own head. See? Everyone has work problems.
Hollywood.com was able to screen tonight's premiere episode, "Sovereign," with the cast and crew — who spilled more than a few details on the coming season. First, let's start with the bad news: EP Paris Barclay told us that season five will ultimately be a bloodbath, and that none of our "good guys" are safe. "Everyone who starts out in this episode is not going to make it to the end of the season," Barclay said. "In fact, there are going to be quite a few empty seats at the table by the time we're done. This is going to be biggest changeover in the history of Sons, in terms of the cast."
Ouch. For the love of God — please leave Tig and Juice alone. But there is some good news: First and foremost, that season five's premiere is spectacular, and includes one of the the most shocking moments in SoA's frequently shocking history. You'll know it when you see it, because it's that bad. Also, Lost's Harold Perrineau ("Wallllllt!") has the potential to be the best and most formidable bad guy the club has ever faced, while Jimmy Smits is hilarious and enigmatic as pimp "companion-ator" Nero. And former leader Clay — whom most fans wanted to punch in the face (or worse) at the end of last year — is finally (deservedly) down on his luck.
Most of us would see Clay's current predicament — alone, injured, hated by his wife and stepson, mistrusted by his club, unable to ride his beloved bike — as a negative, but Perlman thinks it's an opportunity for Clay to possibly redeem himself. "I think [he'll try to win back Gemma]," Perlman said. "This is an opportunity for him, with all the things he's lost, to figure out which ones are worth fighting for. When you lose everything, if you don't take it as an opportunity to take stock, then you're missing the boat." There is, however, one boat that Perlman thinks is permanently out to sea. "I'm not sure that [Clay and Jax] can be patched up, now that he knows I killed his old man," he said.
In addition to Jax and Gemma, Clay is also on the outs with Tig (Kim Coates), who accidentally ran over Perrineau's TV-daughter at the end of last season, and Bobby (Mark Boone Junior) who has always aligned himself with Jax. Barclay said that Tig will have his darkest season yet, and he definitely has his share of struggle in tonight's premiere. As for Bobby, Boone says that while he'll do his best to keep Clay and Jax at bay throughout the season, things might change once Bobby learns of Jax's CIA deal. "You'll get the answer to [the question of whether Bobby can forgive Jax for working with the CIA], and I'm not going to give you the answer to that question," he teased. "Bobby is very involved in the whole situation."
Well, there you have it — one episode in, and there's already a world of trouble for the Sons. And we haven't even mentioned the fact that Wendy (Drea de Matteo) will be back to try to steal time with Jax's son, Abel. But we (and Barclay) don't want to be the bearers of only bad news, so here's a bit of fun to cure your SoA blues: Ashley Tisdale will play a strung out, nasty prostitute. "I did a great scene with her in a motel with a john that was one of the most interesting and twisted things I've ever done," Barclay said with pride.
Watch Sons of Anarchy tonight at 10 p.m. ET/PT, on FX.
Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna
[PHOTO CREDIT: FX]
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In his new film Due Date director Todd Phillips (Old School The Hangover) stages a rather audacious cinematic experiment placing two enormously talented actors Robert Downey Jr. and Zach Galifianakis on a mostly deserted island handing them an assortment of blunt and broken tools and charging them with constructing a free-standing fully-functioning Hollywood comedy.
To his credit Phillips was at least considerate enough to supply his comic Crusoes with a detailed blueprint. An odd-couple/road trip movie hybrid Due Date unapologetically mimics Planes Trains and Automobiles one of the John Hughes' rare “grown-up” comedies in which Steve Martin starred as a straightlaced family man forced to travel cross-country with a gratingly affable slob played by John Candy in order to make it home for Thanksgiving. (Surely there have been other such films before and since but Hughes’ work is the one Due Date most vividly recalls.)
The film’s script co-written by Phillips and Adam Sztykiel adds a handful of 21st-century twists to the formula: A baggage snafu while boarding an airplane leads Peter Highman (Downey) a type-A architect with a history of anger-management issues into a confrontation with a Federal Air Marshal that subsequently lands him on Homeland Security’s no-fly list. Stranded without reliable transport lacking the means by which to procure any (he left his wallet on the plane) and desperate to be reunited in L.A. with his pregnant wife (Michelle Monaghan) in time for her scheduled c-section he reluctantly agrees to hitch a ride with the same tubby schmuck Ethan (Galifianakis) who moments earlier was the catalyst of his security debacle.
The unlikely travel companions embark on a calamitous road trip from Atlanta to L.A. during which Ethan proves to be something of a disaster magnet with Peter bearing the brunt of the damage that occurs. Their navigator Phillips lazily guides them through an uneven obstacle course of comic scenarios some of which are embarrassingly predictable (Ethan stores his beloved father’s ashes in a coffee can and they’re later accidentally used to make coffee!) all of which are designed to showcase Downey’s caustic wit and Galifianakis’ sublime daffiness.
Few actors today deliver choice insults better than Downey and even fewer absorb them better than Galifianakis. They make for a truly marvelous collision of opposites and their interplay is what elevates Due Date above its often puzzlingly flat material. (That along with Galifianakis’ gift for physical comedy; no actor outside of the Jackass crew can better sell a collision with a car door.) The film's supporting cast meanwhile criminally underachieves. Conspicuous cameos from the likes of Danny McBride Juliette Lewis and Jamie Foxx are either unfunny unnecessary or both. On this road trip they’re little more than baggage. Thankfully Downey and Galifianakis are more than capable of shouldering the burden.
Bobby Garfield (David Morse) returns to his small hometown to attend the funeral of his childhood friend and remembers the fateful summer in 1960 when his whole world changed. The story flashes back to when 11-year-old Bobby (Anton Yelchin) and his best friends Carol (Mika Boorem) and Sully-John (Will Rothhaar) capture the pure joy of youthfulness. When a mysterious stranger named Ted Brautigan (Anthony Hopkins) moves upstairs and starts to pay attention to Bobby the boy suddenly realizes what's truly missing from his life--the love of a parent. Bobby's mother Liz (Hope Davis) is embittered by the death of Bobby's father and shows little compassion for her son's growing needs. Ted fills a void with the boy opening his eyes to the world around him and helps Bobby come to terms with his real feelings for Carol--and his mother. But Ted also has some deep dark secrets of his own and Bobby tries hard to stop danger from reaching the old man.
The performances make the film especially in the genuine camaraderie of the kids. Yelchin Boorem and Rothhaar never deliver a false move with an easiness that makes us believe we are simply watching three 11-year-old children grow up together. Yelchin in particular is able to get right to the heart of this young boy who misses his father and clings to the only adult who will listen. And his scenes with Boorem simply break your heart. (Davis) does an admirable job playing a part none too sympathetic. She manages to show a woman whose been beaten down but who does truly love her son in her own way. Morse too is one of those character actors you can plug in any movie and get a performance worth noting. In Hearts you want to see more of him. Of course the film shines brightest when Hopkins is on the screen. It may not be an Oscar-caliber performance but the actor is unparalleled in bringing a character to life--showing the subtleties of an old man looking for some peace in his life.
If you are expecting the Stephen King novel you may be disappointed. Screenwriter William Goldman and director Scott Hicks (Shine) deftly extracted the King formula of telling a story through a child's eye and explaining how the relationships formed as a child shaped the adult later. Hicks did an amazing job with his young actors especially Yelchin and Boorem. But where the novel continued into a supernatural theme explaining Brautigan's fear of being captured by "low men in yellow coats" (a reference to King's The Dark Tower series) the movie downplayed the mystical elements instead giving real explanations for Brautigan's man-on-the-run. That was the one problem with Hearts--we needed more danger. Introducing men from another dimension may not have been the way to go but had there been more tension the film would have resonated more especially when Bobby risked his own safety to save Ted.