After nearly four-and-a-half months of being without the breakout comedy New Girl and enduring the pain of watching the deserving Max Greenfield lose at the Emmys on Sunday, Fox had mercy on us New Girl fans and presented not one, but two, new episodes to kick off Season 2. It all made me so damn happy I could just burst into a terrible rendition of Deee-Lite's "Groove is in the Heart" right at this very moment. Alas, I shall spare you and recap the eps instead.
When we last left the gang, they too were singing — and dancing — a happy tune in celebration of Nick's return. And they had just as much to be happy about at the beginning of the Season 2 premiere, "Re-launch". After a long, not-so-hard (har har) summer, Schmidt was finally getting his penis cast taken off; Nick was still earning his keep in the loft as the "gypsy alcoholic handyman" ("This isn't a fancy hotel!"); and Winston was…there. The only person who wasn't singing a happy tune was Jess. (Proof positive Jess and Zooey Deschanel aren't the same person, because Zooey would have burst into a song about cotton at this point). Jess' boss Tonya (Rachael Harris) informed Ms. Day that due to cutbacks the school was going to have to lay off non-tenured teachers like herself. And no amount of restraining herself from laughing at kids' hilarious names (lookin' at you, Vaj Rejuv) could save her: Jess was without a job. Much like when Schmidt went through his temporary hippie phase, Jess' unemployment, and subsequent identity crisis, shifted the dynamic of the crew. You know things are off when Crazy Old Man Nick is asking you if you're okay. Schmidt, on the other hand, was too busy planning the re-launch party for his penis and the Schmidt brand as a whole to notice. He did, however, allow Jess to work as a shot girl for his "danger"-themed party (alongside Parker Posey, who is killing it on the guest star front late, this time playing a literal halfwit) with a guest list included his neurologist, Philip Seymour Hoffman, a writer for Crank Yankers, and his ex lady love Cece. It had to be perfect. Of course, nothing is ever perfect, not even at a penis relaunch party. Go figure. Schmidt had to see Cece with her new beau Robbie (played by Nelson Franklin), and the sight of cut him to the core. And not just because he was a commoner "shaped like the Liberty Bell", but because he missed her and it was obvious she had to pick someone less complicated than Schmidt. That's the best thing about New Girl. It can go for "easy" comedy or schtick (i.e. Jess doing the Charleston wearing a tiny top hat as the world's worst shot girl) but it explains why the characters themselves go for laughs. Because, as Nick so perfectly put it while attempting to cheer up a down in the dumps Jess, "Life sucks and then it gets better and then it sucks again". I know, I know, an eloquent and sincere Nick? Maybe that spiritual journey in the desert really changed him, after all. Lest you worry Nick fans, much like Hippie Schmidt, by the time the second episode rolled around, the far superior "Katie", he was back to his usual ways. Jess, on the other hand, not so much. Still in full-on unemployed depression mode, Jess went so far as to pull a Ben Wyatt and make her own equivalent of "Requim For a Tuesday" and painted a picture of her roomies. Schmidt's cutting analysis of the "art": "What picture are you working with? My hair hasn't looked like that in three weeks!" But Jess didn't just, as Nick suggested, go off the grid. She went completely off the rails.After a series of romantic mishaps, including a mixup with wanting to get hooked up with a guy from Nick's bar (she instead got a weird, nebbishy dude named Bear Claw, played by the hilarious Josh Gad of Book of Mormon) and faking an online identity to a cute bar patron named Sam (David Walton). (Sorry, but wouldn't Sam have seen the real Katie's photo by now?) While it was important to see Jess break out of her mold of being a goody-goody (as "Katie" she juggled multiple guys and reveled in the perks of NSA nookie) we know that, like her unemployment, this rambunctious phase and relationship with Sam won't last. After all, Jess is a nice girl and one fine day, she'll have something with Nick. Well that and Walton is only slated for a few eps and Sam is a Creed fan, for godssake. A Creed fan! How do we know that major New Girl factoid about Future Jess and Nick? No, not some How I Met Your Mother-like twist. Rather, Future Nick (played to perfection by Justified's Raymond J. Barry) told Current Nick that someday he's going to have to apologize to Jess and "make her an Old Fashioned". Okay, so it wasn't "real time travel" as Nick had theorized, but really just a crazy old man in a box that curiously knew a lot about him (like, for instance, the fact that he likes to be behind the bar because it creates a barrier between him and other people). Still, when Nick shot Jess that knowing look with his sweet turtle face, maybe Current Nick knew more about his future than ever. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, everyman Jake Johnson is the unsung hero of this show. Speaking of looks, Schmidt was giving some serious sexy eyes to Winston's sister and spent the entirety of the episode trying to get in her basketball shorts. ("I'm like catnip to tough talking African American women", he bragged in his very Schmidty way). Schmidt's storyline wasn't nearly as entertaining as it was in the premiere, it was fun to see him back to his old ways. And besides, he still had way more to do than Winston who, over the course of two episodes, drank fruity cocktails and looked annoyed at Schmidt. In the words of Schmidt, "Winston is Winston". Kudos to the New Girl writers on that for at least acknowledging a little bit with a wink that Winston serves no real purpose on the show. Though "Katie" was an unquestionably stronger and funnier episode, the full hour of New Girl was everything I had been hoping and waiting for all summer. The jokes were fast and sharp, the sweet scenes were pulled off without being saccharine, and we all got some great new Schmidt-isms (His pronunciation of "hummus" would be well worth getting the toots for). I'm no Future Nick, but I see a solid season of New Girl ahead. Here now, are the best moments and lines from "Relaunch" and "Katie". "Re-launch" highlights: - "This is true, pure, unadulterated friendship"- Schmidt, in full penis cast garb (trash bag and all) to Nick, who watched in horror as Jess scratched his "itchy underthings" - Nicholas and Winstonia - Nick and Winston's full names, according to Schmidt - "Now I only wanna make a drink that a coal miner would want. Straight forward, honest, something that says, I work in a hole," - Nick, still clearly pining to be a fancy man. - "I'm Nick! I hate sunshine! When did gum get so fancy? This escalator goes too fast!" - Jess' priceless imitation of cranky Nick - "Get up on the bar and shake that piece of plywood you call an ass"- Nick being "mean" to Jess - "I'm not sure how to end this!" - Schmidt, after his fire twirling routine at the relaunch went downhill quickly "Katie" gems: - "Are you cooking a frittata in a saucepan? What is this, prison?" - Schmidt to Jess - "I can drink at 11…am" - Jess, going off the grid - "The loft just became Big Momma's House!"- Schmidt, upon Winston's mom's arrival - Schmidt's time travel sexual wish list: Marie Antoinette, Cleopatra, Young Ann Margret, Old Ann Margret - "Ask him about when I meet Kanye" - Schmidt's request for Future Nick - "He brewed me like a fine chamomile" - Jess, post Sam coitus - Nick as "Cricket the Leaper" - Schmidt referring to The Nutty Professor as a "cautionary tale - "Oh no, autocorrect changed body to meat bar"- Jess' sexting mishap- Jess experiencing the phenomena that is "for no reason whatsoever you are irresistible to the opposite sex". (It happened to Schmidt on the third night of the Hanukkah in 1996, better known as "night of the Shoshannas") - Jess confessing she wanted to grow up to be Jenny McCarthy ("She was so beautiful…all that swearing") while Nick, unsurprisingly wanted to be Kurt Loder. ("He is the elder statesman of our generation!")- Nick guessing that the future bad thing he does to Jess is getting drunk and accidentally peeing on all her pretty dresses. - Schmidt hitting himself in the face with a basketball during his face-off with Erica [Photo credit: Fox] More: Hey Giiirl, Whatcha Doin'? Prepping for 'New Girl' Before the Premiere, That's What! 'New Girl' Zooey Deschanel on Her Emmy Chances & Bad News for Nick-Jess Shippers'New Girl': Fox Casting VP Seth Yanklewitz Talks Emmy Nods, Season 2 and Guest Stars
In yet another variation on the shopworn road picture in which two mismatched former buddies are forced to cross the country together Soul Men’s uneasy brand of overly broad humor and contrived situations is saved intermittently by some cool musical numbers. But alas it’s not enough. Louis (Samuel L. Jackson) and Floyd (Bernie Mac) are part of a major musical group led by Marcus Hooks (John Legend) who goes solo leaving Floyd and Louis in the lurch. Fast forward 20 years Hooks has died and Louis and Floyd who did not end on good terms and have not spoken since have been coerced into appearing a tribute show for Hooks at New York’s famed Apollo Theatre. Afraid to fly they get in Floyd’s 1971 Cadillac El Dorado accompanied by a talented young woman (Sharon Leal) who may be Floyd’s daughter. Along the way they try to get their act up to speed by appearing in various redneck honky tonks filling the interminable 103-minute running time with a lot of unfunny sexual encounters and unbelievable situations. The late Bernie Mac was a terrific comic talent and is highly wasted in this mishmash in which he is constantly encouraged to mug for laughs. Mac is so much better than the lowbrow material he has to work with here that it’s a shame this film should stand as one of his last (at least there’s Madagascar 2). Faring even worse however is Samuel L. Jackson who is out of his element in a musical comedy and seems to be taking none of this hokum seriously. Thankfully the soulful musical numbers reminiscent of classic ‘60s Sam and Dave R&B are well chosen and capably performed even though neither Mac nor Jackson are known for their singing. Best number in fact is fronted by John Legend making his acting debut as Hooks. As the young eager beaver manager trying to get Floyd and Louis back together Sean Hayes is way too broad. Faring better is newcomer Adam Herschman as Hayes’ mop-topped intern who uses his fanboy infatuation with the pair to nice advantage. And there’s a nice now bittersweet bit near the end with the late Isaac Hayes. Malcolm Lee (Undercover Brother Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins) is a director who tends to go for the slapstick when a little subtlety and believability would be more in order. With a great Sunshine Boys premise and some nifty musical material to pepper the proceedings Lee still manages to drop the ball letting his talented actors down and encouraging them to chew up every scene. The corny silly situations certainly doesn’t help matters with the road trip device feeling more like padding than anything else. Soul Men doesn’t find the right rhythms.
August 02, 2002 12:18pm EST
Meet Pistachio Disguisey (Dana Carvey) an irritating little guy who works as a waiter in his father Fabbrizio's (James Brolin) Italian restaurant. One night Fabbrizio gets kidnapped by one of his former enemies (Brent Spiner) a criminal mastermind who intends to use him to steal some of the world's most precious treasures including the Declaration of Independence and the Liberty Bell. A distraught Pistachio gets an unexpected visit from his grandfather (Harold Gould) who spills the beans about the Disguisey dynasty and reveals that Pistachio actually comes from a long line of masters of disguise. With some quick lessons in Energico the art of transformation Pistachio is ready to rescue Fabbrizio from his evil captors. And because every master of disguise needs an assistant he hires a smart and beautiful woman named Jennifer (Jennifer Esposito) to help him track down his father. The story in this film is so simple and the jokes so clean--unless you consider the one running fart gag "crude humor"--it's a mystery this film received a PG rating.
Well now isn't that special? Anyone familiar with Carvey can't help but be a fan. His characters from his Saturday Night Live days including Garth in "Wayne's World " Hans in "Pumping Up With Hans and Franz"--not to mention the judgmental Church Lady--are comedy classics. Unfortunately the wittiness that made his SNL characters downright hilarious is wasted in The Master of Disguise. While Carvey shines when mocking people in a compulsive manner in the film his impersonations are a little rusty. In one scene for example Carvey is supposed to be imitating George W. Bush but until he flat-out calls himself "Dubya " he looks and sounds a lot more like George Sr. For the better part of the film we see Carvey doing a myriad of silly and unsophisticated characters like a chunk of grass--complete with a patch of cow dung--and gooey cherry pie filling. Granted this film is aimed at children who will probably find a guy in a grass suit funny. But sadly his characterizations just don't seem up to par. Anyone can don a costume and act silly and Carvey just doesn't stand out. Spiner (better known as Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation) plays the villain in a stiff and methodical way while Esposito sort of seems like she's playing herself.
Perry Andelin Blake who has worked as a production designer in countless Adam Sandler pics including Billy Madison The Wedding Singer and Little Nicky makes his directorial debut with The Master of Disguise. His design skills are obvious: The film has a very ambient and magical feel about it; it's dark and smoky with rich and elaborate sets that include dusty attics with moving bookshelves and dimly lit alleyways. There are a few funny moments in the movie mostly the cameo scenes with Bo Derek Michael Johnson Jesse Ventura and Jessica Simpson not to mention the scenes in which Carvey displays his gift to mock. But I still can't understand why the filmmakers chose to make the main character Italian. The ridiculous accent makes Pistachio the single most irritating thing about the movie with that stupid name coming in a close second.
Marvin Mange (Schneider) works in the evidence room of a small town police station. He has always wanted to become a full-fledged police officer and follow in his father's footsteps only he's too wimpy to pass the physical endurance test. Nothing is looking good for this asthmatic loser until his car goes careening off a cliff. Marvin survives thanks to the cabin-bound Dr. Wilder (Michael Caton) who after having cracked the genetic code patches him back together with various animal organs. With no memory of what has happened to him Marvin goes about his daily life until strange things start to happen. He develops abnormally acute senses and after sniffing out a heroin-filled balloon located in a drug smuggler's butt he becomes a local hero and--best of all--a real cop. His antics get the attention of Rianna (Colleen Haskell) a volunteer at a local animal shelter. A hardcore vegetarian Rianna finds Marvin's ability to catch a Frisbee with his mouth and regurgitate a worm for a motherless baby turkey endearing. But Marvin is quickly losing his battle with his animal self and keeping up appearances becomes increasingly difficult.
It is very difficult not to sympathize with Schneider's character in this film. With his big droopy eyes you almost get the impression that even Schneider feels sorry for Marvin. And even though his lines are not inherently funny and the delivery is slightly blasé his stunts are really rather amusing. He actually looks like a cheetah when he runs and he licks his leg with the genuine elegance of a feline. And you have to respect Schneider for not taking the same route that so many other Saturday Night Live alumnus have stretching a good five minute skit into a disastrous two hour feature film (imagine watching a cinematic version of Richard "The Richmeister" Laymer). As for Haskell (Survivor) though she is incredibly adorable and natural looking she delivers her lines so slowly that she almost sounds childlike. Thank goodness there were not too many multi-syllabic words written into the script for her character Rianna. Bemusing cameo appearances from both Norm Macdonald and Adam Sandler add to the film's climax.
First-time director Luke Greenfield does a great job with the stunts (like Schneider gliding across the water like a circus seal or running inside a man-sized hamster wheel). They'll leave you wondering how they did it. Some props deserve an honorable mention like Marvin's bachelor pad with the garage door doubling as a home entertainment center or Dr. Wilder's barnyard laboratory. But while Schneider's antics will have you laughing they are not enough to carry the entire film. Tom Brady who wrote the screenplay with Schneider has worked on television shows such as The Simpsons and Men Behaving Badly and should have delivered nothing less than solid laugh-a-minute comedy-but didn't. The story leads up to a disappointing conclusion that looks like it was drawn up in 60 seconds. Nonetheless the story is sweet in its own corny sort of way.