I took a poll of every American citizen and I discovered a startling fact: 97 percent of all people with more than three functioning neurons hate Alexis Bellino. The three percent of people who said that they like her include her mother, her children, the lady at the dry cleaners she once gave a $100 tip to because she thought it was a $5 and didn't catch the mistake, and about 600,000 people who think that an "Alexis Bellino" is a fruity brunch cocktail that Teresa Giudice is marketing. Notice that Jim Bellino is not on this list. He secretly hates her too.
Yes, everyone hates Alexis Bellino because she is The Worst. Wait. She is the Second Worst. Real Playboy Posers of the OJ Simpson Trial has only been over for a couple of weeks and we've already forgotten Faye Resnick? No. We have not. Never forget.
The show started off with Alexis doing something that wasn't the worst. She went to Vicki and brought her a mirror as a "plastic surgery gift" so that Vicki can check her face at any time of day to see if the swelling has gone down. It was Bedazzled. That part was the worst. It's the rest that made a bit of sense. Vicki says, "I'm going to Tamra's Empty Gym Party. Will you be my date? Tamra said it's OK." Alexis replied, "Are you still high on pain medication, because this is a very bad idea?" Yes, it was a horrible idea and Vicki knew it and Alexis knew it and everyone knew it but the producers, who arranged this whole storyline and stood behind the camera rubbing their fingers together like the Purple Pie Man in the Strawberry Shortcake cartoons. It was diabolical. Vicki said, "Well, they made me really sad the last time I was with them, so I need you for back up." Alexis put on her best baby voice, like she was talking to a 4-year-old who just fell off his Razr Scooter and said, "Ohh. Vicki-wicky wants me to goey-woey with her to the party-farty? OK!"
Then the producers told Alexis she had to ask Vicki if she could bring new Housewife Lydia so that all the wax figures would be together in what is, essentially, an empty industrial garage. Alexis went over to Lydia's house to invite her to the party. Lydia is like, "I already know your friend Heather." And Alexis says, "Oh, what did she say about me?" And Lydia says, "That you have a fake ring." OK, Lydia is going to make an excellent Housewife just based on this alone. We all saw her visit with Heather and Alexis' fake ring came up in the context of their conversation and Lydia had already told Heather they knew each other, so it wasn't an illogical leap to ask if she had a fake ring like Alexis. But the way Lydia tells it, it sounds like she told Heather she knew Alexis and Heather just blurted out, "She's got a fake ring, you know!" That is some some really next level bullshit. I am impressed with this Lydia. I really am.
There are all these scenes where everyone is talking about Vicki coming to dinner and bringing Alexis and blah blah blah and the only one that really matters was the one where Heather and Terry had dinner with Lydia and her husband, Men's Health. Heather told them they wouldn't be in their magazine because they wouldn't be on the cover. Heather Paige Kent Dubrow, in some corners of the world, is still just as big a star as Helen Hunt or Kristen Chenoweth. But, really, who isn't? Who isn't? Then Lydia was like, "I'm going to Tamra's party with Alexis. See you there!" Heather opened her mouth and a half-chewed bit of Cobb Salad fell out and landed on the napkin in her lap and then fell to the floor with a silent sloppy thud. Heather tells Lydia in the nicest way possible that she will be judged by the company she keeps and, if she shows up at a party with Alexis, everyone will think that she has Jesus Cooties and won't want to be nice to you. It's true, I feel the same way. Lydia says, "I can't believe I'm involved in drama already." Ha. Do you even know what show you're on? This isn't The Be Nice Hour with Dr. Rainbow Sprinkles. What did you think you were signing up for?
Alright so the limos pick everyone up and of course they drop off Heather and Gretchen to Tamra's Empty Gym Party first so that Tamra can tell them all how she wishes Alexis wasn't coming now and she was very nervous about it. I don't blame her. Then Vicki and Alexis walk in and Alexis is like Kaleesi in the last episode of Game of Thrones, holding her pet dragon Lydia on a chain while she sneers and bucks in the air, making crazy wheezing rasps and spitting out sparks at anyone who comes near her.
But that's mean to Lydia, she was as nice as nice could be and when she sat down she really tried to make small talk with the rest of the ladies. She was trying really hard to be nice. But this is why it's so hard to get a new Housewife on the show. At this point, their differences are so intractable it's like trench warfare (I have used this metaphor more times than Vicki has had her face pulled). I mean, they were going back to s**t from two seasons ago when they brought up Alexis ganging up on Vicki in San Francisco. How do you expect Lydia to catch up or to say anything about that? She just becomes like a tennis referee watching the ball fling back and forth in an endless volley where it is always Ad In, Ad Out, Ad In, Ad Out over and over and the game is never won. And there is no Love (we're extending tennis metaphors today, right?).
Ugh, so this fight. OK, we gotta talk about it. (Oh please, Brian. You make it sound like you haven't been thinking about it all morning measuring the similes and metaphors you were going to use when you finally got to this point. You're not fooling anyone, you dumb tramp.) Here goes. First, when they were sitting around Vicki made some crack about how her grandson is "my baby." That is just stupid and for them to attack Vicki about it and Vicki to defend herself so vehemently, is well, it's stupid. All that should have been done with this strange verbal turn is that someone should have made a "Maybe a dingo ate your baby" joke and moved on.
Alright, then we move to the table and Tamra was lording over it like Al Pacino in Dick Tracy, banging her fist on the table and asking someone for walnuts. Things were actually pretty nice until Vicki, of all people, was like, "Thanks everyone for coming, including Alexis and let's all start over." Vicki, when there is a giant turd in the corner of the room that you're trying to hide, you don't say to a table full of people, "Hey, don't smell the turd over there, because we're all trying to enjoy our dinner." Just glance over it and hope for the best.
No, Vicki called attention to the turd and then everyone had to take a whiff and make a grimace as the shit stink singed their nose hairs. Tamra, very calmly and rationally said, "Well, Alexis. Why are you here?" That is a valid question. Why was she there? She could have answered it gracefully and said, "I know things were bad between us but maybe we can all meet and work out our problems and take this forward." No, she went with, "Well, you all made Vicki so sad last time you hung out, she needed me around." That started it. It was an attack to everyone else, they are bad people who make Vicki sad. The mood just tumbled down from there, like a sack of rancid meat falling off a cliff.
I'm not sure exactly how to parse this interaction, I never am, but it seems like the women did gang up on Alexis. Tamra says, rightly, that she was gracious to allow Alexis to come, but Alexis ruined it with her pure idiocy. The thing about this argument is that there is no argument. There are no issues to get over or misunderstandings to unwind. This is just unbridled animosity festering into various skin lesions and then bursting with puss all over a rented dinner table with fake flowers in an empty gym. They just can't stand each there. It's both so easy and so hard to put that into words.
As far as there is an issue, everyone hates that Alexis says they gang up on her. This is a ridiculous argument. What do you expect when you are in a group scenario? Setting the rules that only one person can talk to you about an issue at a time virtually makes any sort of conversation in a group completely impossible. Then Alexis shuts it down, not on a point of substance, but a point of order. She derails the whole discussion.
Also, if this is Alexis' big complaint, why would she sit at dinner with everyone without checking in first? She knew she was going to this party, why not call Tamra or Gretchen and have a phone call or a lunch and try to reach some sort of detente before the dinner? No. She showed up in front of three people who hate her and said, "I'll only talk to you one on one." That is ridiculous. That is utterly stupid.
Even stupider is telling Tamra to butt out of a conversation that was happening in front of her at her party. The party was small enough that everyone was having one discussion so there is nothing to butt out of. Now, I hate a nasty temper beast, but man when Tamra told Alexis, "Butt out? How about you get out. Get out of here!" and just threw her out, it felt so fulfilling. It was like that wonderful voided feelings your bowels have when you've been on an eight hour flight and you finally make it to the toilet to unleash the world's biggest shitlog. Then Tamra told Vicki that she could pick her side right now and either get out with Alexis or stay there. Of course, that is where the episode ends. Next week we'll have more senseless screaming. Oh joy, oh yay.
But that's not where it ended for Alexis. She still had to make that long walk back to her limo, across a desolate parking lot in an industrial park somewhere in Orange County. The lighting was all orange and low, not from street lamps, but from posts sticking out of the ground that are illuminated. No one needs a lot of light around here, everyone visits during the day and finishes their work and rides home in the crimson streaked twilight. But Alexis, she was here in the dark, her face taking on strange shadows from the uplighting as she clomped quickly to the limo. Forget waking up in a strange bed and having to put your party dress back on and head home, this is the real walk of shame, after being thrown out of a party that you weren't invited to for being awful. That is the saddest thing there is.
Alexis sat in the back of the limo and closed the door. "Take me home, please," she said to the driver. "I'm sorry miss," he said not turning around and looking at her in the rearview mirror. "I've been instructed to stay. You can't go home. Not yet at least."
Follow Brian Moylan on Twitter @BrianJMoylan
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A kids’ movie without the cheeky jokes for adults is like a big juicy BLT without the B… or the T. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted may have a title that sounds like it was made up in a cartoon sequel laboratory but when it comes to serving up laughs just think of the film as a BLT with enough extra bacon to satisfy even the wildest of animals — or even a parent with a gaggle of tots in tow. Yes even with that whole "Afro Circus" nonsense.
It’s not often that we find exhaustively franchised films like the Madagascar set that still work after almost seven years. Despite being spun off into TV shows and Christmas specials in addition to its big screen adventures the series has not only maintained its momentum it has maintained the part we were pleasantly surprised by the first time around: great jokes.
In this third installment of the series – the trilogy-maker if you will – directing duo Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath add Conrad Vernon (director Monsters Vs. Aliens) to the helm as our trusty gang swings back into action. Alex the lion (Ben Stiller) Marty the zebra (Chris Rock) Gloria the hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and Melman the giraffe (David Schwimmer) are stuck in Africa after the hullaballoo of Madagascar 2 and they’ll do anything to get back to their beloved New York. Just a hop skip and a jump away in Monte Carlo the penguins are doing their usual greedy schtick but the zoo animals catch up with them just in time to catch the eye of the sinister animal control stickler Captain Dubois (Frances McDormand). And just like that the practically super human captain is chasing them through Monte Carlo and the rest of Europe in hopes of planting Alex’s perfectly coifed lion head on her wall of prized animals.
Luckily for pint-sized viewers Dubois’ terrifying presence is balanced out by her sheer inhuman strength uncanny guiles and Stretch Armstrong flexibility (ah the wonder of cartoons) as well as Alex’s escape plan: the New Yorkers run away with the European circus. While Dubois’ terrifying Doberman-like presence looms over the entire film a sense of levity (which is a word the kiddies might learn from Stiller’s eloquent lion) comes from the plan for salvation in which the circus animals and the zoo animals band together to revamp the circus and catch the eye of a big-time American agent. Sure the pacing throughout the first act is practically nonexistent running like a stampede through the jungle but by the time we're palling around under the big top the film finds its footing.
The visual splendor of the film (and man is there a champion size serving of it) the magnificent danger and suspense is enhanced to great effect by the addition of 3D technology – and not once is there a gratuitous beverage or desperate Crocodile Dundee knife waved in our faces to prove its worth. The caveat is that the soundtrack employs a certain infectious Katy Perry ditty at the height of the 3D spectacular so parents get ready to hear that on repeat until the leaves turn yellow.
But visual delights and adventurous zoo animals aside Madagascar 3’s real strength is in its script. With the addition of Noah Baumbach (Greenberg The Squid and the Whale) to the screenwriting team the script is infused with a heightened level of almost sarcastic gravitas – a welcome addition to the characteristically adult-friendly reference-heavy humor of the other Madagascar films. To bring the script to life Paramount enlisted three more than able actors: Vitaly the Siberian tiger (Bryan Cranston) Gia the Leopard (Jessica Chastain) and Stefano the Italian Sealion (Martin Short). With all three actors draped in European accents it might take viewers a minute to realize that the cantankerous tiger is one and the same as the man who plays an Albuquerque drug lord on Breaking Bad but that makes it that much sweeter to hear him utter slant-curse words like “Bolshevik” with his usual gusto.
Between the laughs the terror of McDormand’s Captain Dubois and the breathtaking virtual European tour the Zoosters’ accidental vacation is one worth taking. Madagascar 3 is by no means an insta-classic but it’s a perfectly suited for your Summer-at-the-movies oasis.