Over the next few months, we’ll see new series soar, old series sour, and so much Jersey Shore madness, we’ll want to shower. Let’s face it: The Fall TV season is intimidating. With dozens of new and returning shows hitting our small screens, we know we have some big choices to make. So, to help you determine what to watch, we’re digging deep into the most notable series premiering this season. Where did each show leave off? Where is it headed? And who should you watch it with? Today, we're checking out The Mindy Project, which — in its premiere season — will determine whether Mindy Kaling is more than just an amalgamation of Kelly Kapoor quirks.
Series Name: The Mindy Project
Premiere Date: Tuesday, Sept. 25th at 9:30PM
Number of Knee-Jerk Laughs During The Pilot: 6
You'll Like It If...: You know all the words to Nora Ephron movies. You dream of living the life portrayed by the Goddess Meryl Streep in It's Complicated. You enjoy Jonathan Adler home decor. You are a lady. OK, I mean, this one is definitely geared towards the females, but if you appreciate quippy, pop-culture laden humor with a dose of modern-day feminist reality, you'll dig it, too, my dudes.
You'll Hate It If...: The idea of a flawed lady who loves the idea of love is not your thing.
Cast: Mindy Kaling is Dr. Mindy Lahiri, Chris Messina is Dr. Danny Castellano, Ed Weeks is Dr. Jeremy Reed, and Anna Camp is resident best friend Gwen Gandy.
Synopsis: Mindy Lahiri is an OBGYN in New York City, but she's also sort of a mess. (Probably why the show was originally titled It's Messy). Romantic comedy-obsessed, seemingly from birth, Lahiri battles her own self-destructive behavior while trying to find the balance of work and love. Surrounded by quirky coworkers and a by-the-book BFF, Lahiri's one-date-disasters (and hopefully some successes) are chronicled under the lens of her life as a early-30s modern woman trying to be as on-track with her love life as she is with her work life.
Star Likely To Out-Fame The Show: This isn't even a question: Chris Messina. Seriously. This man is not only a dreamboat, but he plays the will-they-or-won't-they-which-means-they-totally-will potential romantic interest/agitator of Mindy's character with a breezy bit of comedic timing. Plus, the dude is in seemingly every production in Hollywood currently in production. Methinks Mindy's going to have a hard time holding onto him for season two, because he's pretty special (And did I mention dreamy? Yeah, he's that, too).
Most Cringeworthy Moment: The few moments of dotted casual racism that mostly involve the front desk staff (More rich white patients! The woman wearing a hijab should have "oil money"? Oof--girl NO). Barbie in a swimming pool was a close second for sheer hoke-factor.
Best Messina Moment: "First of all, it's 'a Springsteen show,' not 'a Bruce Springsteen concert.' You sound ignorant." (Oh sorry, did you think we were done talking about Messina? Nope, not here; look elsewhere if you can't hop on the Messina Express. And if you can't, you're the one who sounds ignorant, now.)
Biggest New Girl Similarity: They're two funny ladies starring in funny shows and are funny! Wow they're basically identical, right?! (Also they have vaginas?) Seriously though, anyone who makes this comparison needs a frontal lobotomy for sheer lack of originality. Oh look! A funny lady in a show! It must be ~just~ like New Girl! Ugh.
Best Cameo: In a show where there are several, the adorable Ed Helms takes the cake here. His blind date with Mindy is charming, and he plays it well against the one-woman rollercoaster of awkward that Mindy becomes at the end of the date.
Best Use of Glitter: Mindy's date night outfit. She looks like an extra from Sparkle if that movie was about a sequin factory explosion. In a good way.
Who to Watch it With: Your favorite, most funny girl friends. Especially if you're in your mid-to-late twenties.
Who Not to Watch it With: People who use the word 'millennial;' especially those that use the world 'millennial' with disdain. If you relate to Mindy's character at all, then definitely don't watch it with your mom.
Wine and Cheese Pairing: the second least-expensive bottle of rosé champagne (treat yoself!) and something totally indulgent like baked brie--so cheesy, but so good. Other options include: all of the wine and all of the cheese. Because duh, cheese is delicious and any wine will do.
Best Dating Advice From The Show: Never be the high-risk situation.
Worst Dating Advice From The Show: Regularly hooking up with the "Hugh Grant in real life" guy is not a good idea.
What To Say When Your Friends Ask If It Is A The Office Spin-Off: Mindy wrote on both shows, but don't expect Dr. Lahiri to burn her foot on a George Foreman grill because she likes to wake up every morning to the smell of bacon. The Mindy Project is no mockumentary, y'all.
Is it Worth Watching?: OK, it's a pilot, so you should always give a little bit of wiggle room. Pilots are awkward! They're clunky, and they're figuring it all out. It's not perfect, but "YES, DUH, WATCH IT" is the correct answer.
[Photo Credit: FOX]
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The latest movie in the Step Up franchise aims for a politicized message behind all the flashy moves but it could do with a lot less plot and a lot more dancing. In Step Up Revolution the Miami dance group "The Mob" takes to the streets (and other random locations) to perform intricately choreographed routines with their own DJ a camera guy who uploads their videos to YouTube and a graffiti artist who leaves their signature behind. It takes at least that much effort just to get hipster New Yorkers to ride the subways without any pants on once a year; it's hard to believe that The Mob could pull off their elaborate schemes without getting caught but that's the magic of movies.
The Mob represents the more diverse working class side of Miami a young multiracial group of friends who create incredible works of art that disappear before they get shut down. One of the Mob's leaders Sean (Ryan Guzman) earnestly explains to newcomer Emily (Kathryn McCormick) that the group's reason is to give a voice to the voiceless or to be happy or to dance or something. It's not really clear but they have a lot of fun and look amazing doing it.
Once Sean and his friends find out that a greedy developer plans to raze their neighborhood to make way for another South Beach-style hotel monstrosity they have a reason to rally but until then they're just trying to win a cash prize by getting clicks on YouTube. The typical Step Up twist is that Emily is the developer's daughter. Mr. Anderson (Peter Gallagher) doesn't approve of Emily's love of dancing or other frippery and he certainly wouldn't approve of her hanging out with the people causing such mayhem in the streets of Miami.
Step Up Revolution biggest misstep is trying to give the movie more of a hook than the franchise's typical Romeo and Juliet-style love story and tap into "the Zeitgeist" (I swear that's from the studio-provided press notes) of flash mobs. The film could have cut out most of the plot and characters and still have a completely intact film insofar as the point of the film is its multimedia dance routines. The sort of productions The Mob pulls off are more akin to carefully planned art installations or music videos in terms of scope; it would have been better to at least make that somehow feasible in terms of the storyline. Yes we are here for a spectacle and we surely get a spectacle but it needs to have some roots in reality.
The dance scenes are fun sexy and occasionally a little sappy but overall quite enjoyable for people who enjoy "So You Think You Can Dance" type of shows. Kathryn McCormick and Stephen "tWitch" Boss both appeared on "SYTYCD" and their costar Misha Gabriel is a classically trained ballet dancer turned pro back-up dancer for folks like Beyoncé and Michael Jackson. Guzman doesn't have a dance background but he is an MMA fighter who obviously took his training very seriously. The entire outfit is pretty damn entertaining to be honest.
As far as the 3D goes it makes most of Miami look overcast and grey. The extra zings added in to make sure we get our money's worth like sand flicking out at us or a breakdancer whose foot seems to be aiming for our face only serves to distract from the real show at hand. There is also an awful lot of ramping and generally spazzy editing tricks that look cheap. The screenplay by Amanda Brody is definitely not its strong suit.
Step Up Revolution is the cinematic equivalent of a trashy beach novel. It's embarrassing to be caught actually enjoying it and you'll forget about it almost immediately but it's a decent way to spend a summer afternoon.
At some point in the early years of the 21st century a bunch of Hollywood executives must have gotten together and decided that animated films should be made for all audiences. The goal was perhaps to make movies that are simultaneously accessible to the older and younger sets with colorful imagery that one expects from children’s films and two levels of humor: one that’s quite literal and harmless and another that’s somewhat subversive. The criteria has resulted in cross-generational hits like Wall-E and Madagascar and though it’s nice to be able to take my nephew to the movies and be as entertained by cartoon characters as he is I can’t help but wonder what happened to unabashedly innocent animated classics like A Goofy Movie and The Land Before Time?
Disney’s Winnie The Pooh is the answer to the Shrek’s and Hoodwinked!’s of the world: a short sweet simple and lighthearted tale of friendship that doesn’t need pop-culture references or snarky dialogue to put a smile on your face. Directors Stephen J. Anderson and Don Hall found some fresh ways to deliver adorable animation while keeping the carefree spirit of A.A. Milne’s source material in tact. Their story isn’t the most original; the first part of the film finds Pooh Piglet Tigger and Owl searching for Eeyore’s tail (a common plot point in the books and past Pooh films) and hits all the predictable notes but the second half mixes things up a bit as the crew searches for a missing Christopher Robin whom they believe has been kidnapped by a forest creature known as the “Backson” (it’s really just the result of the illiterate Owl or is it?).
The beauty of hand-drawn animation all but forgotten until recently is what makes Winnie the Pooh so incredibly magnetic. There’s an inexplicable crispness to the colors and characters that CG just can’t duplicate. It’s a more personal practice for the filmmakers and should provide a refreshing experience for audiences who have become jaded with the pristine presentation of computerized imagery. The film is bookended by brief live-action shots from inside Robin’s room an interesting dynamic that plays up the simplicity of youth ties it to these beloved characters and brings you right back to memories of your own childhood.
With a just-over-an-hour run time Winnie the Pooh is short enough to hold the attention of children but won’t bore the parents who will love the film mainly for nostalgic musings. Still it’s the young’uns who will most enjoy this breezy bright and enchanting film that proves old-school characters can appeal to new moviegoers.
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.