Recently, We Are Men was canceled after only two episodes aired. That was too many episodes, in my opinion. They tried to use the crutch of the man who bands with his "bros" over the "shrill, angry" women who would ruin their fun. People didn't want to see emotionally adolescent men stay stuck in those mindsets for a whole season. In other words, the crutch broke REAL fast.
The thing is, the TV genre of "man doing dumb things" on TV has been dwindling. There have been several in the last few seasons, including How to Be A Gentleman, Man Up! and Work It! (the last two were separate shows, though I am afraid someone may come out with a show called Man Up And Work It!) and were all cancelled quickly. At least Last Man Standing has Tim Allen's genial presence behind it and actually has good messages amidst the gags. Though the Duck Dynasty cash-in episode that shoehorned in religion was juuuuuuuuuust a bit heavy-handed.
I think that audiences have really recognized how lazy the premises of these shows are. Yes, men can do dumb, stupid, and crude things. There's always reality shows like Jersey Shore and their ilk if they want to see it up close. When it is played on sitcoms, it just distorts these men into even more grotesque caricatures of themselves and it rapidly devolves into pure stupidity.
Sure, there are shows where men act plenty silly and goofy, but they also show themselves to be capable of being mature adults when the time calls for. The failed shows paint the guys as those who would be rushing fraternities until they were 90.
So, sorry Jerry O'Connell, Christopher Nicholas Smith, Tony Shalhoub and Kal Penn - the next time that your agent pitches you for a casting call for one of these types of shows, your best bet is to politely decline...and then run very quickly for the door.
S02E01 Jeeze, it’s been... what? A month since the regular television season ended? Watching our first taste of the second season of Louie made me realize just how little quality television we’ve had in the past month. It also made me realize how incredible Louie is since it’s able to satisfy my entire television appetite, which is a task that normally requires two or three shows. Louie was able to do that last summer as well and it seems like his second time around will be just as strong. You should be thankful, you needed some television sustenance.
Louie opens on every struggling to be a good divorced father's nightmare and the prime example of why kid’ are rude little shits. His daughter just nonchalantly informs him that she likes living with her mother better and she loves her more than him. He takes it in stride, finishes brushing her teeth and sends her off to bed. But not before a final goodnight middle finger. It was perfect. Louis C.K. knows how to be a great parent and knows that kids don’t really know what they’re doing because they don’t know any better. That doesn’t mean he can’t take his frustrations out a little bit though and the middle finger was hilarious. If that’s an image to sum up the theme of the show, I don’t know what is.
'...and I love her more so I like being there more.' - Louie's daughter
Seeing these short films bookended by Louis doing stand up really helps inform his pretty rough act. I have no doubt that something like what happened in the first short happened to Louis C.K. at some point, though that may have been a little exaggerated for comedic effect. But seeing and understanding that makes the first bit of stand up that much funnier. At least, I’m assuming that’s the point. It made the stand up bits funnier for me at least. And I myself won’t try to review his stand up sets because how could you? This isn’t a stand up review, it’s a television show review. I could only really review how I find his stand up, which I think is among the best of all time, and that would get old. So I’ll just say he talks about how he can only do stuff with his daughters.
The next short film mirrored the first, only this time when his daughter did something slightly off he tried to explain his complex philosophy (albeit a really well reasoned and respectable one) about viewing property and failed miserably. Of course it didn’t work and the only thing you can really do is give into the kids and give them what they want. They’re little shits like that. Also, I think Louis C.K. was just showing off cooking like that. It looked delicious and now I want a mango pop.
Then his sister comes to visit. Louie sometimes has recurring characters, like his brother from last season, and I hope his sister becomes one. She’s a loud mouth pregnant fat lady and is basically a vehicle for Louis C.K. to say what even he can’t. I mean, that was a pretty rough monologue about his ex-wife. Even he couldn’t pull that off, but his sister can. It’s obvious Louis admires her and this one of those segments that are still funny but really bring the show close to bordering on a drama. Their conversation was funny (at parts) but also real and raw like only siblings can get. But it also was more for set up for the next short film.
After another round of stand up about divorce (always funny) we get into my favorite short of the night. So it’s set up that his sister is pregnant and has miscarried before and she starts screaming about a terrible pain. Cue the panic that comes when everything is going wrong but luckily his sage neighbors are there and they talk him into trusting them. As serious as this is going, you expect the joke to come from the strangers. It’s such an easy target, they kidnap the kids or something, I’m not sure what’s going to happen but Louis C.K. will make it funny. They start rushing to the hospital and his sister is just screaming up a storm. And then she lets out the biggest fart of all time. It was amazing. A fart joke? Bloody brilliant. If you saw Louis on Ricky Gervais’ Talking Funny on HBO, you would have seen Louis talking about this terrible joke he heard a parodist do two decades ago about ‘Sitting on a Dock in the Bay.’ It’s a terrible parody, not that funny, but Louis seemed to genuinely love it while Gervais and Jerry Seinfeld tried to deconstruct the irony of the joke and whether they thought it was funny or so bad they thought it was funny and that was ironic. Meanwhile, Louis C.K. and Chris Rock are sitting back laughing at the stupid joke. So the ending to this short makes complete sense, Louis likes the simple stupid jokes. Of course we get a fart joke. They’re hilarious.
'Fffffffffffffffffffffffffffffftttt.' - Aunt Gretchen
So then cut to him back at the apartment with the neighbors and they have a sentimental moment but it leads into this stand up bit about making new friends. Now he chose to end the episode with a bunch of jokes about eating your friends assholes which really contrasts greatly with the short before it that seemed so... spiritual. I really marvel at how Louis C.K. is able to go back and forth with such extreme tonalities in such a short period time and still land every joke and emotional moment. It’s really a testament to how talented he is and how great this season is shaping up to be.
Also, you can’t really go out better than talking about eating your friend’s asshole so I’m going to end on just that. Happy tossing!
Disney is on a roll in the wake of the success of both the Pixar animated Up and the Sandra Bullock romantic comedy The Proposal, as the Jerry Bruckheimer produced animal action-adventure exceeds expectations and rockets to number one with $32,152,000. A great marketing campaign and a premise that had people scratching their heads while simultaneously grabbing the family and rushing to the theatre, the film became an instant PG-rated family-friendly hit.
At number two is Warner Bros. juggernaut Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince which drops to second place with $30 million in its second weekend of release and has already amassed a magical $221.8 million in just 12 days of release at the domestic box-office.
In third with $27 million for the weekend is Sony’s The Ugly Truth which posted the highest per-theatre average ($9,368) of any movie in the Top 10 and proves once again the power of the female audience at the box-office. With a modest reported budget of around $38 million, the Katherine Heigl, Gerard Butler R-rated romantic comedy will be another winner for the studio.
In fourth is the R-rated horror scare-fest Orphan. The Warner Bros. film earned $12.8 million against a modest budget and thus successfully used the strategy of keeping the cost factor and the star power low, while delivering an effective genre film with a great marketing campaign for a nice ultimate return on investment.
Rounding out the Top 5 is Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs from Fox which continues to be a summer favorite after a month of release dropping only 53% and grabbing another $8.2 million and a domestic total at just over $170 million.
Notable news outside of the Top 5 includes Paramount’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen which is nearing the $400 million mark in domestic receipts an now stands at $379.1 million after 5 weeks in release. In addition, Warner Bros. The Hangover continues to be the Summer season “go to” comedy with another $6.5 million and a cumulative domestic total of an impressive $247.1 million.
On the Indie front, Fox Searchlight has another hit on its hands with (500) Days of Summer adding 58 theatres to good effect with the highest per-theatre average in the Top 12 of $19,176. This audience and critic’s favorite looks to capitalize on the momentum it has created as it expands in the coming weeks. Summit’s The Hurt Locker also continues its strong run with another 144 theatres added to the mix as this, possibly the best reviewed film of the year thus far, adds an additional $1.5 million, jumps up 97% over last weekend and finds its cumulative domestic total at an explosive $4 million.
On the down side, we have had three consecutive “down” weekends at the box-office as comparisons to last year’s “Dark Knight” fueled bonanza are making it tough on this year’s summer revenues. Our “Transformers” boosted 5% summer revenue advantage of three weeks ago has now dwindled to virtually dead-even as the summer box-office tug-of-war vs. last year continues. Year-to-date revenue still robust with a 8% advantage over 2008 at this point. The home stretch of summer looms as we approach the final month of August and another 5 weeks or so to wring out a summer box-office record.
THREE DAY ESTIMATES:
1. NEW! G-Force (Disney), $32.1M, 3697 theaters, $8,697 PTA; $32,152,000 cume (3 day gross)
2. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (Warner Bros) $30M, 4325 theaters, $6,936 PTA; -61%; $221,834,000 cume
3. The Ugly Truth ( Sony/Columbia) $27M 2882 theaters, $9,368 PTA, $27,000,000 cume
4. Orpan (Warner Bros.), $12.7M, 2750 theaters, $4,644 PTA; $12,770,000 cume
5. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (Fox) $8.2M, 3300 theaters, $2,485 PTA, -53%, $171,290,671 cume
6. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (Paramount/D'Works) $8M, 3237 theaters, $2,471 PTA, -42%, $379,090,000 cume
7. The Hangover (Warner Bros.) $6.4M, 2285 theaters, $2,829 PTA, -21% $247,077,000 cume
8. The Proposal (Disney)$6.4M, 2779 theaters, $2,311 PTA, -23%, $140,086,000 cume
9. Public Enemies (Universal) $4.1M, 2291 theaters, $1,820 PTA, -46%, $88,095,850 cume
10. Bruno (Universal) $2.7M, 1895 theaters $1,435 PTA, -67%, $56,515,845 cume
MORE: BOX OFFICE
LAST WEEK'S B.O.: How Much Is in the 'Potter' Bank?
A decorated soldier Capt. Nathan Algren (Tom Cruise) fought bravely during the Civil War but in the years thereafter pragmatism and self-interest embittered him. He now drinks heavily to drown his nightmares--particularly the ones about his role in decimating the proud Native Americans in the name of progress during the Indian Wars of the 1870s. As a mercenary for hire Algren heads to Japan to train the newly formed Imperial Army and usher it into the burgeoning age of modern Western culture--a shift that will put Japan's ancient customs and values in jeopardy including the tradition of the fierce and highly respected samurai warriors who once protected Japan with their fabled swords and still live by a strict code of honor. The scenario is eerily similar to Algren's experience with the Native Americans but at this point he doesn't care; he just wants to get the job done get paid and get out. But when the Samurai led by the powerful Katsumoto (Ken Watanabe) capture him and take him to their remote mountain village the reluctant prisoner slowly learns about the loyalty courage fortitude and sacrifice these noble people believe in so completely. Watching them "spend every moment doing whatever they do to perfection " Algren is quickly won over and feels he has finally found his place in the world. He trains with the samurai becomes Katsumoto's friend and grows to love his newfound family. He's particularly fond of Katsumoto's beautiful sister Taka (Koyuki) with whom he develops a refreshingly chaste romance and her young son Magojiro (Aoi Minato). Yet the foreseeable battle between the old and the new looms over the proceedings and as the title indicates things do not end well for these proud warriors.
Cruise flourishes when he's on the edge--think Rain Man Magnolia Jerry Maguire--and here he does an excellent job as the disillusioned and haunted former Civil War captain who drinks too much. But as a born-again samurai warrior he doesn't quite fit the bill. Algren's transformation into a samurai is too pat and Cruise infuses the last quarter of the film with melodramatic mush before rushing onto the battlefield and kicking butt with a big-ass sword. It doesn't help that the role itself is farfetched; it's true that Japanese history would have to be rewritten if a real samurai survived but why should an American be the "last samurai" who reminds the Japanese emperor of the venerable swordsmen and Japan's roots? Thank heaven for the talented Japanese cast. Koyuki one of Japan's most popular actresses has a remarkably expressive face projecting strength and fragility at the same time. The young Minato as the defiant Magojiro is also a true find as a boy desperate to become a samurai. Watanabe however steals the show even from the film's more famous star as the formidable Katsumoto commanding the screen with quiet fierceness during their shared scenes.
Samurai overcomes its formulaic story to some degree in its execution. Japanese culture and history clearly fascinate director Edward Zwick (Glory Legends of the Fall) producer Marshall Herskovitz and writer John Logan who pay meticulous attention to the historical details of Japan's Meiji Restoration of the late 19th century--when the end of the rule by the old shogunate or feudal government led to the country's first encounter with the West after a self-imposed isolation of 200 years. Zwick's team created authentic sets and gorgeous costumes and took copious advantage of the beautiful surroundings especially the small town of Himeji. The attention to detail becomes a bit much however as the samurai prepare for their final climactic battle--several of these scenes could have been cut. But Zwick really shines as the battle finally begins: When the outnumbered samurai make their last stand charging a hillside of Imperial soldiers armed with rudimentary machine guns it's with the same doomed bravado the director captured in Glory when the black Civil War soldiers fought their last battle. The emotional impact continues when the battle ends and the entire Imperial army--made up mostly of Japanese peasants who have been turned into soldiers but cannot suppress many of their own beliefs--bow down on the battlefield to honor the fallen samurai. It's certainly a memorable moment.