Saturday, October 23, 2010

What I Watched This Week

I love this show.  I keep going back and forth between this and Modern Family as the best sitcom.  Both have managed to make shows like The Office feel archaic in their execution.  However this week’s episode was a little too much for me.  The best and worst thing about Community is how ambitious it is, and sometimes it tries to do too much within its tiny 23 minute running time.  This week had Abed creating a film about Jesus, where the film was actually real life, yet the real life was actually a film.  It was making fun of student films but never quite achieved what it was trying to do.  The best episodes usually revolve around Jeff, and he was basically relegated to background music here.  The previous week’s episode where they got stuck in a KFC space shuttle simulator was much better.

I think this week’s episode was probably the best episode of the season.  It helps that it borrows from the best Seinfeld episode ever (The Contest) as Phil’s fam has become so dependent on technology that they don’t talk to each other anymore.  So Phil comes up with a contest to see who can go without technology the longest.  Phil, of course, is more dependent on technology than anyone, so he’s finding it tough to deal.  Mitchell and Cameron realize the power of being a gay couple with a minority baby and realize they can get Lily into the best pre-school in the nation…IF they nail the interview.  When they find out their competition is a handicapped Indian lesbian couple with an African-American baby, Cam is ready to pull out all the stops.  In the meantime Jay is convinced that his Colombian wife, Gloria, put a hit on the neighbor’s dog after it wouldn’t stop barking.  Some really good stuff here.  I don’t know how the writers do it.

You know, I was expecting this to be terrible.  I remember reading an article where one of the actors said, “Some days we don’t even have script pages. We just make shit up as we go along.”  I know how much this kills Favreau as he puts a heavy emphasis on the script.  But regardless, I was preparing for Shit Central.  But you know what?  It wasn’t *that* bad.  I mean, I wouldn’t say it was good.  But I enjoyed myself.  I was definitely disappointed in the lack of relevant action scenes, however.  For instance, the Iron Man and War Machine fight had to be one of the dumbest ideas ever.  There were no stakes to the fight.  It was like a couple of kids wrestling around the house.  That's what you're going to spend 20 million dollars worth of special effects on? The two of them fighting a group of faceless robots was also kinda lame.  But the power of Robert Downey Jr. somehow holds it together.  Strange how the best parts don’t involve him in his Iron Man suit.  

This…was fucking…terrible.  And I mean beyond terrible.  The only reason I watched this was because people were telling me it was a lot better than they thought it would be.  Uh, no it wasn’t.  First of all, setting this around a ten year old instead of a high schooler was an awful choice.  I’m going to bring up that word again, but the *stakes* become too low with this decision.  In high school, if you become an outcast, it can make the next four years of your life a living hell.  In grade school, it’s just a bunch of kids horsing around.  I was also surprised at just how little personality Jayden Smith brought to the table.  He was trying, but every word out of his mouth felt artificial.  Making Jackie Chan angry instead of mysterious, like the original Mr. Miagi, was also a horrible mistake.  This movie sucked.

I remember when this script was first floating around.  Everyone I asked said it was awful.  The whole movie takes place…ON A CHAIR LIFT.  I groaned.  And I can hear you groaning now.  But this turned into quite a surprise.  It’s no Open Water 2, but around midway through the film, the writers make a choice that breaks up the monotony and I guarantee will you have you either squirming or laughing.  This falls squarely into the category of “So bad it’s good,” and is a great film to watch with friends and make fun of.

I throw this puppy in every year or so and am never disappointed.  It is truly a classic.  What amazes me about this film is that it was written back in 1967.  A lot of fans of movies back then point out that films used to take their time.  Indeed, if you watch any film from the 60s, they don’t move nearly as fast as films today.  And that’s a big reason why a lot of younger moviegoers don’t accept those films.  But I’ll tell you this.  There isn’t a single scene in this movie that isn’t necessary.  There isn’t a single moment that isn’t driving the story forward.  For a film from the 60s, one that’s over 2 hours no less, it’s shockingly tight.  If someone were to ask me to recommend a film to teach the screenwriting rule that every scene should be pushing the plot forward, this is the film I’d recommend.  It’s pretty much flawless.