Featuring more tears, tantrums, and tonsil hockey than a high school parking lot after the homecoming dance, The Glee Project launches itself firmly into the land of melodrama with its second episode. Seeing as that’s where Glee has lived for the last two — arguably three — seasons, one is wont to think that this means the contenders are rockin’ it. But, because of one itsy bitsy problem, one would be mistaken. You see, the thing is, everyone sucks. There, I said it.
The curtain rises on episode 2 to reveal Rob Ulrich ready to dish out a healthy helping of homework. The theme is “Danceability” (not a real noun) and the contenders will have to choreograph and perform The Go-Go’s masterpiece “We Got the Beat” for this week’s super secret surprise judge/mentor. The days of the kids democratically doling out lyrics seems a distant memory, as the girls take off their earrings and the guys roll up their sleeves to fight to the death for the chance to sing the very best five words. The honeymoon stage of this show is o-v-e-r, over.
That night, back in the dorms, Taryn is losing her s**t. She’s probably having an identity crisis, because Lord knows I have no idea who she is. Is she even on this show? Oh, she’s just stressed and kids are mean and she wants her mom. So she leaves. Immediately. I’m not joking; Taryn packs her bags and white titles roll across a black screen to tell us that Taryn is no longer a contender. So, that happened. Moving on.
Homework day! Rob wears his very best wig to the choir room to watch the kids kick up their heels and shake their moneymakers. But I’m getting ahead of myself. First we have to meet the super secret surprise judge/mentor. Whoever could it be?? This is about dance, so my money is on Heather “Single Ladies” Morris or Harry “Abs of Steel” Shum Jr. Nope — foiled again! It’s (one of the) Glee Project Season 1 winners, Samuel Larson. Does he even count as a Glee cast member? He may be super dreamy in a Burning Man sort of way, but I’m not sure 45 seconds on Glee makes you an expert. Sammy Boy’s got some advice, though, so listen up. “Do you, but do it hard,” he whispers breathlessly behind an oppressive curtain of dreadlocks. And with that, it’s time for some Go-Go’s.
I might as well have fast-forwarded through the homework performance for all that I was able to get out of it. The editors of this show sure do love their quick cuts! All this schizophrenic darting from singer to singer really makes it difficult to decide who draws your eye and who stands out from a crowd. I think maybe Abraham looked okay, and Lily’s got a good energy, but who really knows what the bleep is going on. But when the song finishes, Rob is clapping his hands and pronouncing it the best homework assignment ever. Bold words, Rob. You’ll be eating them later. Samuel gets confused and thinks that Abraham is actually Harry Shum Jr. in disguise, so the fierce Asian wins this time around.
NEXT: What’s old is young.
Robert announces that the music video song this week will be LMFAO’s “Rock Party Anthem,” and all the contenders are excited because this means they are, like, actually invited to a party. (This totally counts, right? RIGHT? This totally counts.)
Into the hall of mirrors the contenders go for some exercises in self-reflection led by choreographer extraordinaire slash life coach (and probably the love of my life) Zach Woodlee. “Please don’t do the stupid wedding dance,” Zach pleads, to which all the kiddies say, “Who, me?” and bat their eyelashes while they surreptitiously lawnmower and shopping cart and electric slide all the way to Zach’s bad side. Lily loves to pop her chest, shake her ass, and make confused faces, we learn, and poor Tyler lacks any sort of internal rhythm. Don’t blame this on the testosterone, child, it’s not the hormones’ fault that you can only move one limb at a time.
There’s no rest for the weary on The Glee Project, as things go from bad to worse in the recording booth. Generic cute boy is up first and he is pretty bad. Then Ali thinks it’s a good idea (which it isn’t) to riff on her “Rock Party Anthem” chorus. Den mother Nikki thinks that is pretty ill-advised and asks her to cool it. Pretty Lily with the Clearasil ad perfect skin seems to have lost complete control of her vocal cords, and Nikki responds by morphing into her catty alter ego Giggles McGee on the other side of the glass. “OMG this is so bad, amirite?” she transmits telepathically to whatever assistant happens to be nearby. I’m starting to worry about Lily, folks.
The contenders must push their abysmal recording sessions to the shadowy recesses of their minds as they gear up for the best. Party. Ever. And let me tell you, the party they create for their LMFAO video is such a party. Such a party. There are Cheetos and 2-liter bottles of Coke and, wait for it, spin the bottle. Holy crap, how did we get to such a fun party?
I’m going to take a second here to make you all aware of the fact that every contender on this show is over the age of 18. They may be gunning to play teens on TV, but for the large part, everyone is an honest-to-goodness adult. So, explain to me, my friends, why everyone is acting like they are in middle school. Nellie announces that she doesn’t want to play (fake) spin the bottle because she thinks kissing is special, and Aylin shows off just how little her conservative Muslim parents know about her by snogging everyone with a face. First, she makes out with generic good-looking homeboy Blake, but then poor Charlie starts to sulk because he was totally flirting with her first, he even touched her wenis! Is nothing sacred?! Good thing Aylin is so nice, she cheers him up with a kiss that is equal parts pity and look-at-me-I’m-awesome-slutty.
NEXT: Does Ryan Murphy have Bieber Fever?
The spit-swapping portion of the music video is over, for now, and it’s time for some choreo. As is to be expected with this uncoordinated bunch, no one remembers his or her moves. Zach shuffles over to the corner, wrought with despair, to mutter to himself. “The horror, the horror!” he chants to Nikki’s sympathetic ear. It’s at this point that all the grownups in the room realize that the contenders aren’t even remembering to lip sync. Oops. It’s the beginning of the end for these Glee hopefuls.
The audience is treated to a viewing of the finished music video and, despite the judges’ bemoaning, it doesn’t seem that bad. The editors must have spent some late, Red Bull-fueled nights splicing this one together. But again, no one stands out to me; everyone is equally unappealing at this point (although I am pretty into Michael’s hoodie. Where can I find one of those?)
Judgment time. Zach, telling it like it is as always, announces that it’s time all the judges figure out who sucked the least. Aylin, Shanna, Blake, and Michael were dubbed the least bad and scurry off stage. Dani, Lily, and Tyler were pronounced The Worst and have to sing for their lives. Here’s the rundown of the Last Chance performances.
1. Dani sings Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.” Seems not too bad. There is something so watchable about her. I want her so badly to be great. Well, she’s not great, but she’s fine. Dani reveals that she wants to be the voice of her generation, to which Mama Murphy responds, “Okay, but can you sing Broadway and use jazz hands?” Justin Bieber isn’t so sure.
2. Tyler sings Elton John’s “Daniel.” His voice sounds like he inhaled a whole bunch of helium. Everyone is being super nice because he is going through such a huge transition, but I still think his voice sounds like baby Michael Jackson. I’m just not that into him, too bad he’ll probably win.
3. Lily sings Shania Twain’s “Man, I Feel Like a Woman.” Oh my, she’s stripping and dancing and singin’ it like she means it. This is fun! Too bad the judges think she is a sourpuss because she argued with my main man Zach. Mama Murphy is not impressed with her attitude. Lily then breaks the No. 1 rule of job interviews by telling Ryan Murphy that she argues with authority figures a lot and generally thinks her thoughts are more important than everyone else’s. Murphy does not like that one bit.
As the heartfelt voiceovers begin, I realize that since Taryn left on her own volition this week they technically don’t need to send anyone home. This could be the lucky break Dani or Lily needs (because anyone who has seen a promo ad for Glee knows that Tyler is guaranteed to make top 5). In fact, I’m so sure that everyone is staying, and so smug about figuring out the twist ending before everyone else, that I almost don’t even watch the callback list reveal. But as I head to the kitchen for another cookie, I see Dani’s sad, beautiful face out of the corner of my eye. Turns out Ryan Murphy just doesn’t have Beiber Fever. Avril Lavigne swells in the background, as it does each week, while Dani makes her final exit and everyone cries — including me (almost); I liked Dani bunches.
Previews for next week show more tears from the contenders and tough love from the mentors. Nikki drops some knowledge on the wide-eyed and bushy-tailed crew, “Not one of you is ready to be on Glee.” Bam. After more winners than they could handle last season, could this season go the way of Making the Band and dub no one victorious? Only time will tell. In the meantime, just remember to always do you, but do it hard.
[Image Credit: Oxygen]
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Last year director Garry Marshall hit upon a devilishly canny approach to the romantic comedy. A more polished refinement of Hal Needham’s experimental Cannonball Run method it called for assembling a gaggle of famous faces from across the demographic spectrum and pairing them with a shallow day-in-the-life narrative packed with gobs of gooey sentiment. A cynical strategy to be sure but one that paid handsome dividends: Valentine’s Day earned over $56 million in its opening weekend surpassing even the rosiest of forecasts. Buoyed by the success Marshall and his screenwriter Katherine Fugate hastily retreated to the bowels of Hades to apply their lucrative formula to another holiday historically steeped in romantic significance and New Year’s Eve was born.
Set in Manhattan on the last day of the year New Year’s Eve crams together a dozen or so canned scenarios into one bloated barely coherent mass of cliches. As before Marshall’s recruited an impressive ensemble of minions to do his unholy bidding including Oscar winners Hilary Swank Halle Berry and Robert De Niro the latter luxuriating in a role that didn’t require him to get out of bed. High School Musical’s Zac Efron is paired up with ‘80s icon Michelle Pfeiffer – giving teenage girls and their fathers something to bond over – while Glee’s Lea Michele meets cute with a pajama-clad Ashton Kutcher. There’s Katherine Heigl in a familiar jilted-fiance role Sarah Jessica Parker as a fretful single mom and Chris “Ludacris” Bridges as the most laid-back cop in New York. Sofia Vergara and Hector Elizondo mine for cheap laughs with thick accents – his fake and hers real – and Jessica Biel and Josh Duhamel deftly mix beauty with blandness. Fans of awful music will delight in the sounds of Jon Bon Jovi straining against type to play a relevant pop musician.
The task of interweaving the various storylines is too great for Marshall and New Year’s Eve bears the distinct scent and stain of an editing-room bloodbath with plot holes so gaping that not even the brightest of celebrity smiles can obscure them. But that’s not the point – it never was. You should know better than to expect logic from a film that portrays 24-year-old Efron and 46-year-old Parker as brother-and-sister without bothering to explain how such an apparent scientific miracle might have come to pass. Marshall wagers that by the time the ball drops and the film’s last melodramatic sequence has ended prior transgressions will be absolved and moviegoers will be content to bask in New Year's Eve's artificial glow. The gambit worked for Valentine's Day; this time he may not be so fortunate.
Enigmatic and deliberate Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy makes no reservations while unraveling its heady spy story for better or worse. The film based on the bestselling novel by John Le Carre is purposefully perplexing effectively mirroring the central character George Smiley's (Gary Oldman) own mind-bending investigation of the British MI6's mole problem. But the slow burn pacing clinical shooting style and air of intrigue only go so far—Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sports an incredible cast that can't dramatically translate the movie's impenetrable narrative. Almost from the get go the movie collapses under its own weight.
After a botched mission in Hungary that saw his colleague Jim (Mark Strong) gunned down in the streets Smiley and his boss Control (John Hurt) are released from the "Circus" (codename for England's Secret Intelligence Service). But soon after Smiley is brought back on board as an impartial observer tasked to uncover the possible infiltration of the organization. The former agent already dealing with the crippling of his own marriage attempts to sift through the history and current goings on of the Circus narrowing his hunt down to four colleagues: Percy aka "Tinker" (Toby Jones) Bill aka "Tailor" (Colin Firth) Roy aka "Soldier" (Ciaran Hinds) and Toy aka "Poor Man" (David Dencik). Working with Peter (Benedict Cumberbatch) a conflicted younger member of the service and Ricki (Tom Hardy) a rogue agent who has information of his own Smiley slowly uncovers the muddled truth—occasionally breaking in to his own work place and crossing his own friends to do so.
Describing Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as dense doesn't seem complicated enough. The first hour of the monster mystery moves at a sloth's pace trickling out information like the tedious drips of a leaky faucet. The talent on display is undeniable but the characters Smiley included are so cold that a connection can never be made. TTSS sporadically jumps around from past to present timelines without any indication: a tactic that proves especially confusing when scenes play out in reoccurring locations. It's not until halfway through that the movie decides to kick into high gear Smiley's search for a culprit finally becoming clear enough to thrill. A film that takes its time is one thing but Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy does so without any edge or hook.
What the movie lacks in coherency it makes up for in style and thespian gravitas. Director Tomas Alfredson has assembled some of the finest British performers working today and they turn the script's inaccessible spy jargon into poetry. Firth stands out as the group's suave slimeball a departure from his usual nice guy roles. Hardy assures us he's the next big thing once again as the agency's resident moppet a lover who breaks down after a romantic fling uncovers horrifying truth. Oldman is given the most difficult task of the bunch turning the reserved contemplative Smiley into a real human. He half succeeds—his observational slant in the beginning feels like an extension of the movie's bigger problems but once gets going in the second half of the film he's quite a bit of fun.
Alfredson constructs Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy like a cinematic architect each frame dripping with perfectly kitschy '70s production design and camera angles that make the spine tingle. He creates paranoia through framing similar to the Coppola's terrifying The Conversation but unlike that film TTSS doesn't have the characters or story to match. The movie strives to withhold information and succeeds—too much so. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy wants us to solve a mystery with George Smiley but it never clues us in to exactly why we should want to.
The God of Legion secular Hollywood’s latest Biblically-inspired action flick is old-school an angry spiteful Almighty with a penchant for Old Testament theatrics. Fed up with humanity’s decadent warmongering ways He’s decided to pull the plug on the whole crazy experiment and start over from scratch.
Fortunately for us the God of Legion is also a rather lazy fellow. Instead of doing the apocalyptic work himself and wiping us out with a giant flood which worked perfectly well last time He opts to delegate the task to His army of angels — a questionable strategy that starts to fall apart when the archangel charged with leading the planned extermination Michael (Paul Bettany) refuses to comply.
Michael who unlike his boss still harbors affection for our sorry species abandons his post and descends to earth where inside the swollen belly of Charlie (Adrianne Palicki) an unwed mother-to-be working as a waitress in an out-of-the-way diner sits humanity’s lone hope for survival. Why is this particular baby so important? Is it the one destined to lead us to victory over Skynet? Heaven knows — Legion reveals little details its script devoid of actual scripture. What is clear is that God’s celestial hitmen want the kid whacked before it’s born.
But Michael won’t let humanity fall without a fight. Armed with a Waco-sized arsenal of assault weapons he hunkers down with the diner’s patrons a largely superfluous collection of thinly-sketched caricatures from various demographic groups led by Dennis Quaid as the diner’s grizzled owner Tyrese Gibson as a hip-hop hustler and Lucas Black as a simple-minded country boy.
Together they mount a heroic final stand against hordes of angels who’ve taken possession of “weak-willed” humans turning kindly old grandmas and mild-mannered ice cream vendors into snarling ravenous foul-mouthed beasts. They descend upon the ramshackle diner in a series of full-frontal assaults commanded by the archangel Gabriel (Kevin Durand) the George Pickett of End of Days generals.
Beneath its superficial religious facade Legion is really just a run-of-the-mill zombie flick a Biblical I Am Legend. Bettany an actor accustomed to smaller dramatic roles in films like A Beautiful Mind and The Da Vinci Code looks perfectly at ease in his first major action role wielding machine guns and bowie knives with equal aplomb. Conversely first-time director Scott Stewart a former visual effects artist does little to prove himself worthy of such a promotion serving up some impressive CGI work but not much else worthy of note.