S8E13: Tonight's episode of Grey's Anatomy explored the age-old adage of "What if?" We've all experienced this dilemma at one point in our lives, thinking, "If this had happened, then how would my life be different?" While putting her daughter Zola to bed, Meredith drifts off and starts to dream of an alternate reality for herself and her fellow Seattle Grace doctors, seeing what life would've been like if a few things had gone differently. And what a different world it is: Meredith's cheery, McDreamy is McDreary, everyone is with someone different, and Lexie has dreads. So yes, everything's a bit crazy, but I think it's a great way to change things up a bit on the show. So many of the episodes have just centered around different (yet highly similar) surgeries. And while I get that these people are doctors - and medical procedures kind of come with the territory - it's nice to divert from the pattern every so often. And Meredith's dream held a lot of interesting discoveries as to just how different these doctors' lives could have been.
Here's a little preview of what we learn: IF Meredith's mother didn't have Alzheimer's, THEN Meredith would be engaged (but not to McDreamy). IF Meredith had never met Derek Shepherd in a bar, THEN he would still be with Addison (which means a guest appearance by Kate Walsh!). And IF Callie never met Arizona when she did, THEN she would be with...Owen. Interesting...but that's not the end of it.
"What if one little thing i said or did could have made it all fall apart? What if I'd chosen another life for myself or another person?" - Meredith
In Meredith's alternate dream world, we find her mother, Ellis Grey, healthy and married to Richard Webber, who Meredith now calls "Dad." Ellis is also the Chief of Surgery, but instead of leading the hospital's doctors with guidance and support, she belittles most of them, including Meredith, in order to make herself seem that more magnificent. In fact, she even hijacks Bailey's whipple surgery as a way to show off to the press and perform her newly invented technique. And since Bailey is a complete pushover in this world for some reason, she lets it happen. But things take a turn for the worst when Ellis, not taking the time to thoroughly read the patient's chart, misdiagnoses the type of surgery she should perform, she looks like a fool in front of everyone. But, of course, she's not to blame since Bailey didn't properly brief her on the patient, so Ellis has Bailey fired. Sounds fair, right?
Later, Ellis has a mini-breakdown in front of Richard who immediately comforts her. Poor guy, if he's not taking care of one wife, then he's taking care of another - no matter what world he's in. Ellis has clearly stomped on his spirit and restrained him from growing into the power surgeon he was to become.
"She wants everyone around her to be ordinary, so she can be extraordinary." —Meredith
But somehow Meredith has survived her mother's wrath and doesn't show any signs of being emotionally stunted like she used to be, thanks in large part to Richard's constant nurturing. And on this particular morning she also announced the exciting news that she's engaged to none other than Alex Karev, who seems to have dropped the bad boy look entirely and become an upstanding husband-to-be. That is until Cristina catches him fooling around with April in an empty office. Oh Karev, apparently you can't change in any world, can you? So there goes that engagement.
Speaking of Cristina, she's extremely closed off and intense, even more-so than usual. Once Preston Burke left, she became somewhat of an office pariah for sleeping with the boss, so no one really talks to her, including Meredith. In fact, they kind of hate each other and are constantly fighting over cardio surgeries (oh yeah, Meredith's specializing in cardio thanks to the constant influence of mommy dearest). But Cristina still finds time to secretly tend to Owen's injuries since he's still having trouble controlling his aggression as part of the side affect of being in a war. However, these two aren't together, they just make eyes at one another every so often. No, Owen is actually married to Callie and they share twin boys and a girl. Random much?
And then there's Lexie, who is a cocaine user and is brought into the hospital for overdosing. Yes, indeed the dreads and tattoos make her a far cry from the good girl we've grown so accustomed to, but Jackson takes a liking to her and tries to help guide her down the path of inspiration. But that doesn't work since she ends up stealing hospital drugs and running out of the building before anyone can stop her. Don't worry though, Mark Sloane finds her on the street after almost hitting her with his car and brings her right back to the hospital.
"Oh, this is awkward." - Mark
But the twists just keep on coming. We also learn that George O'Malley isn't dead since he failed his intern exam and Meredith got Izzie fired after that whole Denny debacle went down. Charles is also alive and kicking, so I guess it's safe to say that shooting at the hospital never happened as well. But the biggest difference of all is the dramatic personality change in Derek Shepherd. Since he and Meredith never hooked up, he's still with Addison, who's pregnant with their child. But you can tell he's not happy and it shows on his face and in his work. Ellis even comments that he has no drive or initiative in anything, which is so different from the McDreamy we know and love. All we see is a depressed, hollow shell of a man, who is now known by the residents as McDreary. However, in the end, he makes a speech to Addison saying how he wants their relationship to work and how the baby will make everything better. That's when she decides to drop the bombshell on him by admitting that the baby isn't his. And at that precise moment, Mark Sloane (aka McSteamy) emerges from the bathroom. Oops...awkward.
By the end of the episode both Meredith and Derek end up at the infamous bar where it all initially began from Day 1. Cristina and Meredith bond while saving Lexie's life (without knowing she is in fact Meredith's half-sister), so they go out for a few drinks and Derek is there to drown his sorrows about his failed marriage. They get to talking and before you know it, there's a spark. Some things are just meant to be, I guess.
So what did you think of the episode? Were you surprised to see how different things could have been? Did you like how this showed Derek and Meredith were destined to end up together no matter what?
Despite what the trailer might have you believe In the Land of Women isn't exactly a sweet sigh-inducing romance. Yes main character Carter Webb (Adam Brody)--a slightly snarky screenwriter who makes his living writing soft-core porn--leaves Hollywood for Michigan to get over a hard break-up by taking care of his aging tart-tongued grandmother (Olympia Dukakis). And yes he subsequently ends up getting entangled with angsty blond teenager Lucy Hardwicke (Kristen Stewart) and her lonely mom Sarah (Meg Ryan). But the trio's tenuous relationships are complicated by confusion resentment illness and misunderstanding all of which add up to a situation that's hardly straightforward--and frankly not all that romantic either. Brody is no stranger to playing sarcastic pop culture-savvy Southern Californians: After four seasons on The O.C. as Seth Cohen he's got the type down pat. As Carter he balances wry quips with a nice dose of empathy--you can tell that he truly cares about both Lucy and Sarah (not to mention his grandma as crusty as she is). But to be honest it's a little hard to see why. Stewart plays Lucy with a shy sullenness that's not very endearing--she gets a little more animated toward the end but it's too little too late--and Ryan's trademark perkiness has worn thin. She gives Sarah's dramatic scenes her best shot but the character's confusion and pain don't seem at home on her unnaturally tight face. Dukakis gets in a few zingers as Grandma Phyllis but the character is essentially one-note--as is Lucy's sister Paige (Makenzie Vega) who swiftly goes from "cutely precocious" to "awkward yapping." In many ways Paige seems like a character lifted out of the John Hughes playbook which isn't that surprising given Carter's fascination with the '80s director's oeuvre--and the movie's Hughes-ian high school subplot. Unfortunately the "classic" high school movie scenes (the party Lucy takes Carter to their movie outing at the mall her dawning realization at the end etc.) while fun for folks who grew up watching the movies they're obviously inspired by have a light tone that's jarring compared to the rest of the film's drama. When it comes down to it Carter--who's looking for a reason to stop drifting through life--has a lot more in common with Garden State's Andrew Largeman than Hughes heroes like Ferris Bueller and John Bender. Trying to squeeze him into a teen-centric story rather than focusing on helping him grow up doesn't do him--or the movie--any favors.
Looney Tunes: Back in Action revisits an age-old Tunes question: Why does the affable Bugs reap all the fame and glory while the egocentric Daffy gets shafted again and again? Our duck friend quite frankly has had it up to his skinny neck playing second fiddle to the carrot muncher. All Daffy wants is a little recognition from the studio but the brothers Warner (actual twin brothers as we come to find out) decide instead to let Daffy out of his contract on the advice of their no-nonsense VP of comedy Kate Houghton (Jenna Elfman). Bugs however knows they're making a mistake. Even though Daff bears the brunt of the abuse Looney Tunes would fail without him and Bugs convinces the powers that be they need the nutty mallard. If the plot had only followed this thread--perhaps showing Daffy on the skids--then maybe the film wouldn't have spiraled into Looneyville. Unfortunately Daffy ends up hooking up with the hunky D.J. Drake (Brendan Fraser) a studio security guard who finds out that his famous movie star father Damian Drake (Timothy Dalton) is really a secret agent hunting for a mysterious diamond known as the Blue Monkey a supernatural gem that can turn the planet's population into monkeys. The evil head of the Acme Corporation Mr. Chairman (Steve Martin) wants the diamond for his own diabolical plans and he's kidnapped D.J.'s dad in an effort to get it. Now the gang has to get the diamond save D.J.'s dad and of course save the world.
It might be a little hard to act subtly around cartoon characters but these aren't your ordinary cutesy Mickey Mouse types. Bugs Daffy Porky Yosemite Sam and Foghorn Leghorn are pros at comic timing able to spar with the best of them throw out zingers without a second thought and slay you with a droll glance at the camera. It isn't really necessary for the human actors to match their madcap-ness; just reacting would have sufficed. Fraser comes off the best of the human bunch; since he's had practice (Monkeybone) he easily interacts with his animated co-stars and deftly handles the doubletakes and jabs at pop culture. Elfman on the other hand sputters and goes bug-eyed every time she encounters silliness. She looks uncomfortable doing the green screen thing especially when she's trying to look natural when peeling a distraught duck from around her waist. Martin's highly anticipated turn as Mr. Chairman turns out to be the biggest disappointment. The over-the-top character is reminiscent of Martin's hysterically funny Rupert the Monkeyboy in 1988's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels but Martin turns Mr. Chairman--an angry schoolboy with knee socks and matted-down hair who never grew up--into a caricature of ridiculous proportions and unlike Rupert who came in small hilarious doses Mr. Chairman gets very tiresome very quickly.
Back in Action's animation is well done more engaging and ambitious than its 1996 predecessor Space Jam in which the action mostly took place in Looney Tunes land; here animated characters go the Who Framed Roger Rabbit? route and Bugs Daffy and the rest coexist harmoniously with humans in the real world. But despite its aspirations Back in Action leaves out vital elements that made Space Jam appealing. While the earlier film stuck to a simple plot Back in Action guided by director Joe Dante (Small Soldiers The 'Burbs) tries too hard to keep things wild and wacky while incorporating elements of '60s heist pics and action-adventure scenes and in the process loses sight of the most important ingredient in any kids movie: the story. Tykes may have limited attention spans but if the story's good they will watch. Granted some individual bits are laugh-out-loud funny particularly the scene in the Warner Bros. commissary where a stuttering Porky Pig complains about being politically incorrect with Speedy Gonzales while an animated Shaggy and Scooby-Doo berate actor Matthew Lillard for playing Shaggy as such a bonehead in the live-action Scooby-Doo. These scenes prove that if any cartoon characters could pass themselves off as real celebrities in the entertainment industry the gang from Looney Tunes could but moments like these simply can't overcome a contrived plot and juvenile antics.
Peter Appleton (Jim Carrey) has it made. His screenwriting career is on the rise his first movie's just been made and he's got a cute girl. Life is good--until the House Un-American Activities Committee mistakenly fingers him as a Communist and he quickly falls from the A-list to the blacklist. Getting dumped by both his studio and his girl is nothing a little drinking can't remedy but after drowning his sorrows he nearly drowns himself when he decides to drive drunk and his car veers into the river knocking him unconscious. When Peter comes to he can't remember who he is or where he came from so he's taken in by the kindly people of Lawson a burg stuck in time and still mourning the loss of many of its sons in World War II. They mistake him for Luke Trimble one of their long-lost boys who went MIA in World War II and are overjoyed at his return. Luke's father Harry (Martin Landau) whose zest for life had dwindled so much that he let his beloved movie house The Majestic fall to ruin but with "Luke's" return he plans to reopen it. Celebrations abound. Peter-as-Luke even returns to his relationship with fiancée Adele (Laurie Holden). Meanwhile Peter may have forgotten who he was but the Feds haven't and they're on his tail.
When Carrey's given the right material like he was with The Truman Show he can exhibit moments of greatness. The Majestic doesn't give Carrey the leeway to show his quirky sensibilities demanding that he play it straight throughout the movie (there are a few--too few--glances at humor that Carrey doesn't play up). To bring off the kind of schmaltz this movie oozes Carrey had to bring something of an edge to his character. Instead Peter is neither likable nor unlikable coming off as a bland confused schmo until the climactic end which after two hours of his weak personality is wholly unbelievable. Landau is unexciting as a caricature of the sad sentimental old man without hope--you want to sympathize but there's something faintly chilly about him. Holden's liberated-woman lawyer might have played better in a contemporary movie; she looks and acts too much like a modern-day actress trying to portray a woman of the '50s.
Was this some kind of vanity project dreamed up by a director too taken with his own greatness and past success? Was Frank Darabont envisioning an It's a Wonderful Life for the next generation? (Psst…it's likely the majority of the modern moviegoing public doesn't know who Frank Capra is and could care less especially when the movie is as slow and as completely unbelievable as this one.) Apparently Darabont's in love with his own direction because hardly a moment goes by without some lingering reaction shot. Darabont took an intriguing story about amnesia and mistaken identity and slathered it with sap. Old-fashioned period stories can be lots of fun but it's imperative they be able to keep a present-day audience's interest by including a bit of modern wit and pace. Unfortunately this sticks to the straight-and-narrow. Nobody's going to buy the two-dimensional main characters the shiny happy townspeople or especially the schlocky my-country-'tis-of-thee finale. In its favor The Majestic's ultimate message is a nice one. The movie does have its heartfelt moments and its '50s feel is authentic if a little polished.
Supermom Claire (Michelle Pfeiffer) and her geneticist husband Norman (Harrison Ford) are adapting to their only daughter's departure to college when Claire begins sensing an unearthly presence in the couple's lakeside Vermont dream home. Is she losing her marbles or is that the spirit of a beautiful young woman she keeps glimpsing? To say any more (as the too-explicit ad campaign does) would spoil some delicious twists.
The toplining Ford is his usual solid self in a role that plays cleverly on his familiar persona but the picture is Pfeiffer's from beginning to end. She delivers one of her most pleasing performances nicely disarming audience doubts about the story's supernatural elements with some judicious eye-rolling and embarrassed frowning -- her character is so painfully aware that what she's saying sounds crazy how can we possibly doubt her? Among the low-key supporting cast Joe Morton ("Terminator 2") stands out as an amiably down-to-earth psychiatrist.
Robert Zemeckis ("Forrest Gump") takes Clark Gregg's highly derivative haunted house script and pours on the Hitchcockian visual flourishes unapologetically pilfering from the Master's "Rear Window" and "Psycho " among others. His extended homage results in scene after scene of almost unbearable tension as the audience waits for the next shock. There's some clunky storytelling in the first section but the all-suspense second half more than makes up for it with some classic work including what seems destined to go down in movie history as "the bathtub scene."