Ah, can you smell that? It's the scent of Hometown Visits in the air! Can you feel the excitement? The earnest conversations with mothers! The sideways glances from skeptical sisters! The deep exploration of a contestant's past! And by deep, I mean totally non-existent! Last night, Desiree visited the hometowns and families of her final four guys. Here are my thoughts.
Zak's Family Chorus
Zak brought Desiree to his home in Dallas, where he described a "dream" that he had, which involved bodies melting into a beach, strange snowflakes, and hundreds of children running. It's called being vulnerable, you guys. Or maybe it was an acid trip. Or just a terrible way to transition into showing off his snow-cone business. Regardless, Zak pulled out all the stops when he had his siblings sing the song he wrote for Desiree. Though I was fully expecting her to say "It was a little pitchy, dawg," she was instead quite moved and got tears in her eyes. Zak ended the visit by confessing his love and giving her a promise ring he had bought in Atlantic City.
Drew's Whole New World
Drew's family lives in Scottsdale, Arizona, and here, he introduced Desiree to the whole gang, which includes his severely mentally handicapped sister, Melissa. It was sweet watching him interact with her — though I got a little squeamish when Desiree pulled out her patronizing "that's so cute." (It's become clear to me that Desiree's go-to response to anything that makes her uncomfortable is "that’s so cute!" Zak's siblings singing? "So cute!" Chris' terrible poetry? "Cute!" Brooks' penis? JK, JK.) Anyway, Drew's family couldn't stop saying stuff like "We've never seen him like this before!" What, you mean with a woman?
One of the best parts of hometown visits is seeing the contestant in their own element. And we really saw Chris get comfortable in McMinnville, Ore., when his chiropractor dad sucked all the boogers out of his nose. Awesome! My favorite part of this visit, however, was how often Chris' family kept referring to his ex-girlfriend as "the last one." They really hated The Last One. The Last One ruined Chris' life. Even Grandma couldn't stand The Last One! God, we hope The Last One is watching this! Also, Chris delivered the most delusional line of the entire episode: "There's no possible way these feelings are being expressed with anyone else." Oh boy.
Desiree really wanted Brooks to say "I love you." All the other guys followed the appropriate Bachelorette timeline and confessed their love on the hometown visit — why couldn't he? Why is he being such a rebel? She probably summed it up best in an unwitting moment of clarity: "He is holding back from falling in love because I am dating other guys." YA THINK? Also, can we just talk about Brooks' eyes? They are always bloodshot. And considering how much he repeated the words "unexpected" and "vulnerable" last night, it begs the question, is Brooks a stoner?
Zak Doesn't Get It
After having a frank conversation with her evil brother Nate (or, as I like to call him, the most honest person in Bachelor/Bachelorette history), Desiree is ready to make her decision. It's getting tough, but she decided to let Zak go. I personally thought he was the most authentic man in the group. In other words, a terrible match for Desiree. After dealing him the blow, Desiree walks a bewildered Zak to the limo. He kept saying "I don’t get it." He was truly blindsided. I guess he forgot Desiree has been dating over a dozen men for the past few weeks. Poor Zak! You can engineer my drill fluid any day of the week. Finally, he throws the promise ring out the window. So now we know it must have been extremely cheap. It was purchased in Atlantic City, after all.
Next week, it's The Men Tell All, and I can't wait to see Chris Harrison get clobbered by a stray punch in the melee that will undoubtedly break out. Fingers crossed!
Tune into The Bachelorette every Monday night at 8/7c on ABC and check Hollywood.com on Tuesdays for Sara Schaefer's reactions to the madness.
Sara Schaefer is a critically acclaimed stand up comedian, writer, and producer based in New York City. She is the co-host of MTV’s late night show Nikki & Sara Live. She won two Emmy awards for her work as the Head Blogger for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and has written for BestWeekEver.tv and Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. Sara has appeared on Comedy Central, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Best Week Ever, FX, E!, Fuse, and AOL. She also has a popular podcast You Had To Be There with her MTV co-host Nikki Glaser.
Follow Sara on Twitter @saraschaefer1 Follow Hollywood.com @Hollywood_com
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It was the trickle of pee heard around the world. Cannes attendees were aghast and/or amused an infamous scene from The Paperboy that shows Nicole Kidman urinating on Zac Efron; this is apparently a great salve for jellyfish burns which were covering our Ken Doll-like protagonist. (In fact the term protagonist should be used very loosely for Efron's character Jack who is mostly acted upon than active throughout.)
Lurid! Sexy! Perverse! Trashy! Whether or not it's actually effective is overshadowed by all the hubbub that's attached itself to the movie for better or worse. In fact the movie is all of these things — but that's actually not a compliment. What could have become somethingmemorable is jaw-droppingly bad (when it's not hilarious). Director Lee Daniels uses a few different visual styles throughout from a stark black and white palette for a crime scene recreation at the beginning to a '70s porno aesthetic that oscillates between psychedelic and straight-up sweaty with an emphasis on Efron's tighty-whiteys. This only enhances the sloppiness of the script which uses lines like narrator/housekeeper/nanny Anita's (Macy Gray) "You ain't tired enough to be retired " to conjure up the down-home wisdom of the South. Despite Gray's musical talents she is not a good choice for a narrator or an actor for that matter. In a way — insofar as they're perhaps the only female characters given a chunk of screen time — her foil is Charlotte Bless Nicole Kidman's character. Anita is the mother figure who wears as we see in an early scene control-top pantyhose whereas Charlotte is all clam diggers and Barbie doll make-up. Or as Anita puts it "an oversexed Barbie doll."
The slapdash plot is that Jack's older brother Ward (Matthew McConaughey) comes back to town with his colleague Yardley (David Oyelowo) to investigate the case of a death row criminal named Hillary Van Wetter. Yardley is black and British which seems to confuse many of the people he meets in this backwoods town. Hillary (John Cusack) hidden under a mop of greasy black hair) is a slack-jawed yokel who could care less if he's going to be killed for a crime he might or might not have committed. He is way more interested in his bride-to-be Charlotte who has fallen in love with him through letters — this is her thing apparently writing letters and falling in love with inmates — and has rushed to help Ward and Yardley free her man. In the meantime we're subjected to at least one simulated sex scene that will haunt your dreams forever. Besides Hillary's shortcomings as a character that could rustle up any sort of empathy the case itself is so boring it begs the question why a respected journalist would be interested enough to pursue it.
The rest of the movie is filled with longing an attempt to place any the story in some sort of social context via class and race even more Zac Efron's underwear sexual violence alligator innards swamp people in comically ramshackle homes and a glimpse of one glistening McConaughey 'tock. Harmony Korine called and he wants his Gummo back.
It's probably tantalizing for this cast to take on "serious" "edgy" work by an Oscar-nominated director. Cusack ditched his boombox blasting "In Your Eyes" long ago and Efron's been trying to shed his squeaky clean image for so long that he finally dropped a condom on the red carpet for The Lorax so we'd know he's not smooth like a Ken doll despite how he was filmed by Daniels. On the other hand Nicole Kidman has been making interesting and varied career choices for years so it's confounding why she'd be interested in a one-dimensional character like Charlotte. McConaughey's on a roll and like the rest of the cast he's got plenty of interesting projects worth watching so this probably won't slow him down. Even Daniels is already shooting a new film The Butler as we can see from Oprah's dazzling Instagram feed. It's as if they all want to put The Paperboy behind them as soon as possible. It's hard to blame them.
The first and most important thing you should know about Paramount Pictures’ Thor is that it’s not a laughably corny comic book adaptation. Though you might find it hokey to hear a bunch of muscled heroes talk like British royalty while walking around the American Southwest in LARP garb director Kenneth Branagh has condensed vast Marvel mythology to make an accessible straightforward fantasy epic. Like most films of its ilk I’ve got some issues with its internal logic aesthetic and dialogue but the flaws didn’t keep me from having fun with this extra dimensional adventure.
Taking notes from fellow Avenger Iron Man the story begins with an enthralling event that takes place in a remote desert but quickly jumps back in time to tell the prologue which introduces the audience to the shining kingdom of Asgard and its various champions. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) son of Odin is heir to the throne but is an arrogant overeager and ill-tempered rogue whose aggressive antics threaten a shaky truce between his people and the frost giants of Jotunheim one of the universe’s many realms. Odin (played with aristocratic boldness by Anthony Hopkins) enraged by his son’s blatant disregard of his orders to forgo an assault on their enemies after they attempt to reclaim a powerful artifact banishes the boy to a life among the mortals of Earth leaving Asgard defenseless against the treachery of Loki his mischievous “other son” who’s always felt inferior to Thor. Powerless and confused the disgraced Prince finds unlikely allies in a trio of scientists (Natalie Portman Stellan Skarsgard and Kat Dennings) who help him reclaim his former glory and defend our world from total destruction.
Individually the make-up visual effects CGI production design and art direction are all wondrous to behold but when fused together to create larger-than-life set pieces and action sequences the collaborative result is often unharmonious. I’m not knocking the 3D presentation; unlike 2010’s genre counterpart Clash of the Titans the filmmakers had plenty of time to perfect the third dimension and there are only a few moments that make the decision to convert look like it was a bad one. It’s the unavoidable overload of visual trickery that’s to blame for the frost giants’ icy weaponized constructs and other hybrids of the production looking noticeably artificial. Though there’s some imagery to nitpick the same can’t be said of Thor’s thunderous sound design which is amped with enough wattage to power The Avengers’ headquarters for a century.
Chock full of nods to the comics the screenplay is both a strength and weakness for the film. The story is well sequenced giving the audience enough time between action scenes to grasp the characters motivations and the plot but there are tangential narrative threads that disrupt the focus of the film. Chief amongst them is the frost giants’ fore mentioned relic which is given lots of attention in the first act but has little effect on the outcome. In addition I felt that S.H.I.E.L.D. was nearly irrelevant this time around; other than introducing Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye the secret security faction just gets in the way of the movie’s momentum.
While most of the comedy crashes and burns there are a few laughs to be found in the film. Most come from star Hemsworth’s charismatic portrayal of the God of Thunder. He plays up the stranger-in-a-strange-land aspect of the story with his cavalier but charming attitude and by breaking all rules of diner etiquette in a particularly funny scene with the scientists whose respective roles as love interest (Portman) friendly father figure (Skarsgaard) and POV character (Dennings) are ripped right out of a screenwriters handbook.
Though he handles the humorous moments without a problem Hemsworth struggles with some of the more dramatic scenes in the movie; the result of over-acting and too much time spent on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. Luckily he’s surrounded by a stellar supporting cast that fills the void. Most impressive is Tom Hiddleston who gives a truly humanistic performance as the jealous Loki. His arc steeped in Shakespearean tragedy (like Thor’s) drums up genuine sympathy that one rarely has for a comic book movie villain.
My grievances with the technical aspects of the production aside Branagh has succeeded in further exploring the Marvel Universe with a film that works both as a standalone superhero flick and as the next chapter in the story of The Avengers. Thor is very much a comic book film and doesn’t hide from the reputation that its predecessors have given the sub-genre or the tropes that define it. Balanced pretty evenly between “serious” and “silly ” its scope is large enough to please fans well versed in the source material but its tone is light enough to make it a mainstream hit.