Monthly Archives: November 2010

French Fry Diary 180: The Funplex Café

Rest in Peace Leslie Nielsen

Veteran actor Leslie Nielsen passed away Sunday due to complications of pneumonia, at a hospital near his home in Ft. Lauderdale. He was 84.

Most folks know him for his comedic work of the last thirty years starting with the spoof Airplane! and the series of television and film that followed with “Police Squad!.” Nielsen, a Canadian native, was also a serious actor in both television and film with a career spanning more than six decades. It seemed that his strong serious demeanor that made his early roles so dramatic proved hilarious when Nielsen moved to comedy.

I loved him in “Police Squad!” which I saw years before I ever saw Airplane! or his other parodies, and knew he was cool before everyone else did when that TV series moved to the big screen with the Naked Gun films. Many folks don’t remember that that show was a flop, barely lasting six episodes. I think “Cop Rock” might have done better in the ratings.

Before his comedy roles I remember Leslie Nielsen as the hero of the scifi classic Forbidden Planet and the villain of the B-movie eco-horror The Day of the Animals. A leading man for years, it is notable that his comedic career didn’t start with the parodies of the late seventies and early eighties, he also shared billing with Don Knotts in The Reluctant Astronaut. The last role I saw him in was as the Uncle Ben character in 2008’s Superhero Movie, doing some of the funniest gas humor ever on the big screen.

Leslie Nielsen was also an author, an avid golfer, and even singer. He was one of our finest actors, of any genre. He will be missed.

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French Fry Diary 179: O’Boisies Sweet B-B-Q

Best Worst Movie

Best Worst Movie ~ What’s the worst movie ever? That’s a question of much debate. For myself, I immediately discount stuff like Plan 9 from Outer Space and Glen or Glenda? because however cheaply made or haphazardly written, these are still hilarious and entertaining, no matter if it ‘s unintentional. In the same way, anything that falls into the “Mystery Science Theater 3000” category doesn’t count either, as it’s interactively entertaining.

That said, I would put MST3K alum Manos: Hands of Fate up for worst film ever. It’s intolerable to sit through. I would also throw in Barfly and 1989’s Blue Steel up on the butcher block as well. And don’t get me started on The Dark Knight or Moulin Rouge!. This documentary makes a case for the infamous Troll 2.

Written and directed by one of the childhood stars of Troll 2, Michael Stephenson, this is an examination of the cult classic status of the flick as the worst movie ever. He interviews one of his co-stars, a dentist-turned-actor, and the Italian filmmaker that made the flick possible, among others. This documentary is a fun romp for fans of film and fans of bad camp horror movies alike. Check it out.

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French Fry Diary 178: Glee’s Tot War

Megamind

Megamind ~ When I saw the first preview of this film months and months ago it seemed like a sly parody of the Superman mythos and a more original super-intelligent foe, sort of a Luthor/Brainiac hybrid. As clever as it seemed, the previews that followed as the release date got closer seemed to reveal more and more of the plot. So much was given away that I feared that I had not only gotten the gist of the flick, but perhaps no longer needed to even see the film.

The truth of the matter was that I felt I no longer needed to see it. I got the point. I could wait for the DVD or even for regular television. Bottom line, the only reason we did see it was because we had several gift cards for the theater and decided to make a night of it. Free goes a long way toward making things more enticing. Unfortunately the gift cards were for Loew’s, and you folks know how much I like them. The quality or relevance of Megamind completely aside, I could not believe how much it cost to see this flick on a busy weekend night, in 3-D, and in IMAX. It was enough to put me off first run movies for a while. Thank the gods for gift cards.

Now I’m not going to give away any details of Megamind for the sake of the folks who have yet to see it, but suffice it to say that what I said and believed above was not true. The whole movie, nor the entire plot, is not revealed in the previews. There’s a lot more to this than meets the eye. And it is clever, and rarely goes where you think it is. This is a smart superhero parody for the whole family, working on several different levels, and it’s also the best use of the new 3-D I’ve seen in quite a while. David Cross steals the flick, and even Will Ferrell is good here, and I usually don’t like him. Recommended.

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Pie Fries

Tangled

Tangled ~ Much like Disney’s last animated feature, The Princess and the Frog that re-imagined the fairy tale of “The Frog Prince,” Tangled gives “Rapunzel” a new spin. And while very little of the film has the energy or the verve of the preview featuring the music of Pink, it is still very good.

Leads Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi, though not most folks’ choice of a male lead, hand in terrific performances. Levi, especially proving the magic of animation is about voice work, not appearances. Character actor Donna Murphy rounds out the singing cast as the heavy, with Alan Menken doing the music this time out.

The songs are formula unfortunately and go in all the right places and do everything these types of songs have done for Disney songs for almost two decades. They’re almost interchangeable, which again, is not to say they are not good. One tune, “I’ve Got a Dream,” stands out far above the others in its difference above all else. It’s an almost Monty Python-ic madcap piece that brings more than a few laughs with it.

All in all, a great entry for Disney’ fiftieth animated feature, and their first CGI one without Pixar. We’ve seen it before, but it’s still worth seeing again, ya know? Terrific holiday fare for the kids, and the adults, recommended.

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French Fry Diary 177: Wegman’s Signature Whipped Potatoes

Mike and Molly

The Bride and I watched quite a few of the new series that debuted these new Fall TV season. We watched episode after episode, unsure if we really liked what we saw or not, and asking each other, sometimes comically, after each one – “Did we like this?” and deciding sometimes hesitantly – “We’ll give it another episode.”

One of these shows was “Mike and Molly.” Being proud geeks and nerds with no shame, we both like Chuck Lorre’s “The Big Bang Theory” quite a bit and were saturated with promotion for “Mike and Molly” during that program. It seemed like worth a look, so we gave it a shot. The series follows a couple, both quite overweight, a cop, Mike, and a teacher, Molly, as their relationship slowly evolves from dating to serious. As far as a relationship show, it’s successful, but the humor often flows from their size and weight.

We were not fans of “The Big Bang Theory” at first. We eventually caught up with it after a few seasons. The reason we didn’t dig it at first was that most of the humor was based on nerdiness, and was more of the laughing-at-us type rather than the laughing-with-us stuff. We tired quickly of being made fun of. Now, the show is more edgy and in sync with the subculture, and for us, funnier.

“Mike and Molly” operates on much the same formula, only against bigger people instead of nerds. I might be making much of this as fat people have always been made fun of, but really, isn’t this just lazy writing? Taking the cheapest shot possible. Racial humor is only a step below. It’s all discrimination.

All that said, “Mike and Molly” has a lot going for it. Their romance is heartwarming and awkward and real. Other than fat jokes, a lot of the more recent humor has been sexual in nature, much of it coming from the comic genius of Swoosie Kurtz. And the wonderfully talented Nyambi Nyambi as the coffee shop owner is the highlight of every episode. We’ll stay with this a while, and hopefully it can mature past the fat jokes.

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