Rapper Nelly made sure Arsenio Hall honoured a baseball bet the pair made earlier this month (Oct13) by taking charge of the comedian's U.S. chat show on Monday night (21Oct13) and introducing the host as a rapper. The two friends bet each other their team would move on to baseball's World Series with Hall offering to perform Nelly's Country Grammar on his show if his beloved Los Angeles Dodgers were beaten in the National League Division Series by the rapper's St. Louis Cardinals.
The Cardinals clinched their place in the finals on Friday night (18Oct13) and Nelly returned to the show on Monday to make sure Hall came through on the bet.
Nelly said, "Ladies and gentlemen, because I won and he lost... Performing the hit classic, a song by all American traditions should be one of the biggest in your hearts, not only in your minds, here to perform the hit smash Country Grammar, please welcome your loser, Arsenio Hall."
Hall stepped out wearing an Ozzie Smith Cardinals shirt and performed a segment from the hit.
A decade-long gap between sequels could leave a franchise stale but in the case of Men in Black 3 it's the launch pad for an unexpectedly great blockbuster. The kooky antics of Agent J (Will Smith) and Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) don't stray far from their 1997 and 2002 adventures but without a bombardment of follow-ups to keep the series in mind the wonderfully weird sensibilities of Men in Black feel fresh Smith's natural charisma once again on full display. Barry Sonnenfeld returns for the threequel another space alien romp with a time travel twist — which turns out to be Pandora's Box for the director's deranged imagination.
As time passed in the real world so did it for the timeline in the world of Men in Black. Picking up ten years after MIB 2 J and K are continuing to protect the Earth from alien threats and enforce the law on those who live incognito. While dealing with their own personal issues — K is at his all-time crabbiest for seemingly no reason — the suited duo encounter an old enemy Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) a prickly assassin seeking revenge on K who blew his arm off back in the '60s. Their street fight is more of a warning; Boris' real plan is to head back in time to save his arm and kill off K. He's successful prompting J to take his own leap through the time-space continuum — and team up with a younger K (Josh Brolin) to put an end to Boris plans for world domination.
Men in Black 3 is the Will Smith show. Splitting his time between the brick personalities of Jones and Brolin's K Smith struts his stuff with all the fast-talking comedic style that made him a star in yesteryears. In present day he's still the laid back normal guy in a world of oddities — J raises an eyebrow as new head honcho O (Emma Thompson) delivers a eulogy in a screeching alien tongue but coming up with real world explanations for flying saucer crashes comes a little easier. But back in 1969 he's an even bigger fish out water. Surprisingly director Barry Sonnenfeld and writer Etan Cohen dabble in the inherent issues that would spring up if a black gentlemen decked out in a slick suit paraded around New York in the late '60s. A star of Smith's caliber may stray away from that type of racy humor but the hook of Men in Black 3 is the actor's readiness for anything. He turns J's jokey anachronisms into genuine laughs and doesn't mind letting the special effect artists stretch him into an unrecognizable Twizzler for the movie's epic time jump sequence.
Unlike other summer blockbusters Men in Black 3 is light on the action Sonnenfeld utilizing his effects budget and dazzling creature work (by the legendary Rick Baker) to push the comedy forward. J's fight with an oversized extraterrestrial fish won't keep you on the edge of your seat but his slapstick escape and the marine animal's eventual demise are genuinely amusing. Sonnenfeld carries over the twisted sensibilities he displayed in small screen work like Pushing Daisies favoring bizarre banter and elaborating on the kookiness of the alien underworld than battle scenes. MIB3's chase scene is passable but the movie in its prime when Smith is sparring with Brolin and newcomer Michael Stuhlbarg who steals the show as a being capable of seeing the future. His twitchy character keeps Smith and the audience on their toes.
Men in Black 3 digs up nostalgia I wasn't aware I had. Smith's the golden boy of summer and even with modern ingenuity keeping it fresh — Sonnenfeld uses the mandatory 3D to full and fun effect — there's an element to the film that feels plucked from another era. The movie is economical and slight with plenty of lapses in logic that will provoke head scratching on the walk out of the theater but it's also perfectly executed. After ten years of cinematic neutralizing the folks behind Men in Black haven't forgotten what made the first movie work so well. After al these years Smith continues to make the goofy plot wild spectacle and crazed alien antics look good.
Poor Josh Brolin can't catch a break when it comes to hosting Saturday Night Live. The first time he hosted back in 2008 he was completely overshadowed by the real Sarah Palin's famous visit to Studio 8H and during last night's effort he was all but trumped by musical guest Gotye and a delightful surprise cameo from none other than Steven Spielberg.
But it's not to say that the actor, despite not having a natural knack for comedy, didn't give it his best effort. After an above average cold open about Mitt Romney having a drink (well, a napkin) with former Republican candidates Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, and Herman Cain singing their swan song (which, as it turns out, is a parody of Green Day's "Good Riddance") Brolin hit the stage.
The star had a charming-enough, if not ultimately forgettable (though not "career-endingly stupid") opening monologue in which he poked fun at his '90s goatee and tested out his spot-on Tommy Lee Jones imitation featured in the upcoming Men in Black III while Jay Pharoah served his one apparent purpose on the show. The minimally used cast member brought out his Will Smith impression once more, but as impressive as it is, Pharoah remains the most one-note SNL person on the cast. See for yourself:
The night got off to a strong start with a hilarious behind-the-scenes look at Game of Thrones. Turns out, George R.R. Martin (played by Bobby Moynahan) isn't the only consultant on the wildly popular series, but a 13-year-old boy (played by Andy Samberg) who suggests all the series' graphic sex scenes. The well-executed sketch, much like their take on Downton Abbey earlier this season, could be enjoyed by fans and non-fans alike. ("This all aired on television after Rango!" They're not wrong.)
That ushered in the return of the, like, totally polarizing Californians. While the sketch always runs a little too long, my main issue is the people that most appreciate the jabs at Valley Girl accents and traffic chatter are enjoyed by those who will watch the show on a delay three hours later. But, a breaking Bill Hader made it worth both coast's while. But, there was no salvaging the baffling "America's Next Top 'Empire State of Mind' Parodist" sketch. With no apparent reason other than to give Pharoah something to do (this time his Jay-Z impression) the sketch was simply outdated references (the "Chocolate Rain" guy, people doing "Empire State of Mind" parodies on YouTube) about an overplayed song. Nothing to sing about here, this was a dud from the concept.
The first of two (yes, two) Digital Shorts was the bound-to-go-viral return of Samberg and Hader's beloved "Laser Cats." The seventh installment of the delightfully low-budget saga featured the assistance of none other than living legend Steven Spielberg. The director clearly had fun playing around in the silly sketch, which put the Laser Cats in some classic Spielberg scenarios. Watch the premiere of "Laser Cats 7" below:
Gotye made his first of three (!) appearances on last night's show, kicking off with his smash hit "Somebody That I Used To Know," which featured guest vocalist Kimbra and sounded just as haunting live as it does the 723rd time it did on my iTunes playlist. Plus, the musician looks much more handsome without being covered in paint, something Samberg and Taran Killam poked fun at during the second Digital Short, which featured Gotye himself being a good sport. The singer also performed his beautiful "Eyes Wide Open", making for one of the best musical guests this season. Check out the singer in the Digital Short below:
The rest of the episode was something of a lull with a subpar Weekend Update in which Seth Meyers asked "What Are You Doing?" (it's no "Really?!") and then inexplicably gave Kristen Wiig and Fred Armisen another chance to trot out the unbearably annoying Kat and Garth. The impression-filled Piers Morgan sketch that followed had some amusing enough celebrity skewers, including Brolin as the ultimate-foot-in-mouth Ozzie Guillen and Nasim Pedrad taking aim at Kim Kardashian. ("I'm a zero threat!") But while last week's take on Andy Cohen's Watch What Happens Live was hilarious, this overlong sketch had too many misfires (Armisen's Ice-T and Pharoah once again doing his Kanye West) to be even nearly as enjoyable.
The night ended on a low note with two back-to-back sketches that didn't quite work. While the slo-mo hallway had its moments and the concept was clever, it felt as slow moving as the hallway it was based on. But it was no worse than the episode ending prom committee sketch. The bit was virtually laugh-free and Brolin's drunk teacher was certainly no Drunk Uncle.
I just realized that was only the fourth time I mentioned Brolin in this entire recap, but really it's through no fault of his own. Aside from the terrible finale, the Oscar-nominated actor wasn't given any sketches of his own and only played in the background as a supporting player. Brolin wasn't bad by any means, but there was also little room to find out if he was good. Maybe the third time will be the charm if Brolin ever returns to Studio 8H. Speaking of chances, Eli Manning is hosting on May 5 to try and follow in brother Peyton's footsteps as a great athlete-turned-host. (Nice catch, commenter!)
What did you think of last night's episode? Do you agree that Brolin played second banana to the Saturday Night Live cast? Were you just as wowed by Gotye? Or was it all about the Steven Spielberg cameo? Sound off in the comments section.
Josh Brolin's Saturday Night Live Promo: Watch
Saturday Night Live Recap: Sofia Vergara and One Direction Make Some Noise
Director Alexander Payne's (Election Sideways) new film opens over sprawling landscape shots of Hawaii's scenic suburbia accompanied by George Clooney's character Matt King summing up his current predicament: "Paradise can go fuck itself." The reaction unfortunately is reasonable.
We pick up with King an ancestor of Hawaiian royalty in the middle of deliberations over a plot of land handed down through his family over generations. With every uncle aunt and cosign whispering opinions into his ear King is suddenly presented with an even greater problem: taking care of his two daughters. A boating accident leaves his wife in a coma forcing Matt to take a true parenting role with his young socially-troubled daughter Scottie (Amara Miller) and his rebellious teen Alexandra (Shailene Woodley) who was previously shipped off to boarding school. Matt awkwardly hunts for the emotional glue necessary for the mismatched bunch to become "a family " but matters are made even more complicated when Alex reveals that her mother was cheating on him before the accident. Murphy's Law is in full effect.
With The Descendants Payne continues to explore and discover the inherent humor in life's melancholic situations unfolding Matt's quest for understanding like a road movie across Hawaii's many islands. Simultaneously preparing for the end of his wife's death and searching for the identity of her lover Matt crosses paths with a number of perfectly cast side characters who act as mirrors to his best and worst qualities: his father-in-law Scott (Robert Foster) who belittles Matt for never taking care of his daughter; Hugh (Beau Bridges) an opportunistic cousin who pressures Matt to sell the land; Alexandra's dunce of a boyfriend Sid (Nick Krause) who always has the wrong thing to say; and Julie (Judy Greer) the wife of the adulterer in question. Colorful yet real Matt experiences a definitive moment with each of them yet the picture never feels sporadic or episodic.
Clooney and Woodley help gel these sequences together as they observe experience and butt heads as equals. Clooney's own magnetism stands in the way of making Matt a fully dimensional character but he shines when playing off his quick-witted daughter. His reactions are heartbreaking—but it's the moments when he has to put himself out there that never quite ring true. But the script by Nat Faxon Jim Rash and Payne gives Clooney plenty of opportunities to work his magic visualizing his struggle as opposed to vomiting it out like so many of today's talky dramas.
The Descendants is a tender cinematic experience an introspective and heartwarming film unafraid to convey its story with pleasing simplicity. Clooney stands out with a solid performance but like many of Payne's films it's the eclectic ensemble and muted backdrop that give the movie its real texture. The paradise of Descendants isn't all its cracked up to be but for movie-goers it's bliss.