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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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.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Based on the beloved children’s book by Judi and Ron Barrett Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs tells the tale of Flint Lockwood an eccentric young inventor who spends his days in a makeshift laboratory building monkey-thought translators spray-on shoes “hair unbalder” serums and other strange creations. Regarded as a troublemaker and a nuisance by the residents of the small town of Swallow Falls Flint dreams of one day making something that will win their respect and earn him a place alongside the Edisons and Da Vincis of the world.
Flint thinks his latest invention a machine that turns ordinary water into gourmet meals at the touch of a button just might do the trick. But his big unveiling goes predictably awry when his machine launches like a rocket through Swallow Falls laying waste to the town square before eventually disappearing into the stratosphere.
Just when it appears that the townsfolk have finally had enough of Flint’s antics salvation arrives in the form of cheeseburgers raining from the sky thrilling the throngs of hungry people below. Success! Flint’s machine actually works — albeit not quite in the manner he originally intended.
WHO’S IN IT?
Lending his voice to the character of Flint is Bill Hader a Saturday Night Live regular who’s appeared in small roles in a ton of high-profile comedies including Tropic Thunder Pineapple Express and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. Anna Faris (The House Bunny) co-stars as Sam Sparks a weathergirl whose bubbly on-screen persona masks a keen intellect she’s terrified to reveal — lest she be branded a “nerd” and shunned by the community of shallow talking-head news correspondents.
Evil Dead star Bruce Campbell voices the sleazy manipulative Mayor Shelbourne a wildly ambitious politician who eyes Flint’s invention as his ticket to higher office. James Caan (The Godfather) plays Flint’s well-meaning but emotionally distant father Tim a blue-collar fisherman who can’t find a way to relate to his brainy offspring. And fans of A-Team and Rocky III will instantly recognize the voice of Mr. T as Earl Devereaux the tough-minded town cop whose job is devoted primarily to preventing Flint from inadvertently destroying the town. Rounding out the main cast is Neil Patrick Harris (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle) as Flint’s trusted monkey assistant Steve.
The animation of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is truly a joy to behold. With each successive meal that falls from the sky comes a brilliant new array of patterns and colors all of which burst from the screening in dazzling 3-D. Directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller rightly recognize the visual potential of the source material with its endless variety of colorful food items and serve up a delicious buffet of brilliantly-rendered set pieces.
But the film isn’t just a bundle of digital eye candy. Perhaps most pleasantly surprising about the film is the script’s sharp wit and clever observations which help make the experience enjoyable on a cerebral as well as visceral level.
Lord and Miller who also co-wrote the adapted screenplay did a generally solid job expanding the relatively thin source material for the big screen but the story still feels weak at times. It’s just engaging enough to keep you interested but not quite enough to make a lasting impression.
Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is something of a culinary rollercoaster. As food first begins to fall from the sky you might find yourself feeling a bit hungry. But as the plot progresses and Flint’s machine starts to spin out of control bombarding the town with every kind of slop imaginable don’t be surprised if your stomach starts to get a little queasy!