Category Archives: family guy

Charles Durning 1923-2012

On the same day we lost Jack Klugman, Christmas Eve, we also lost Charles Durning, the king of the character actors. The multiple award-winning actor, featured in over a hundred films, was 89.

I first encountered Charles Durning as Detective Moretti in Dog Day Afternoon. He was the likable but straight arrow cop who negotiated with Al Pacino’s bank robber Sonny Wortzik. I love the film, a time capsule of the 1970s, that earned Durning a Best Supporting Actor nom from the Golden Globes. But it’s not his only film, before or since.

Durning’s resume also includes terrific roles in The Sting, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, O Brother Where Art Thou, The Muppet Movie, and Tootsie, among so many others. He was also a veteran of the Second World War, won a Tony for playing Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and had regular parts on the TV shows “Evening Shade,” “Family Guy,” “Everyone Loves Raymond,” and “Rescue Me.”

Throughout his long career as an actor he was rarely not working, and was always playing memorable characters. We’ve lost another of the greats. He will be missed.

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Ted

Ted ~ The Bride and I watch Seth McFarlane’s “Family Guy” every week, and enjoy it quite a bit. That said, about every two to three weeks we have a discussion about how maybe we’re not going to watch it any more. I’m a fan of ‘cringe humor,’ which McFarlane excels at, heck, I listen to Opie and Anthony every day, but The Bride isn’t, and doesn’t. Sometimes “Family Guy” just goes too far for her.

When I first heard of Ted, McFarlane’s jump to big screens, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, but I knew The Bride wouldn’t be coming with me to see it. All that said, I laughed out loud at this movie. I don’t do that all that often. I did it at The Three Stooges, but before that? We’re talking maybe years.

The concept is one of a little boy with no friends who wishes his teddy bear was real, and lo and behold, the wish comes true. This is the tale of what happens when said boy, and bear, grow up. Mark Wahlberg makes a fine comedic turn as the boy, grown to drug and alcohol induced irresponsibility with his bear Ted, voiced by writer/director McFarlane. “Family Guy” alumnus Mila Kunis plays Wahlberg’s long suffering and patient girlfriend of four years. All involved are quite good.

Ted is funny, dirty, cringe worthy, and yes, believe it or not, even heartwarming. Speaking of laughing out loud, in a semi-full theater, it was only me and two women up front who were doing so. I felt a little dirty about it, but maybe everyone else was from the PTA or they just couldn’t get into the latest chick flick.

If you’re a “Family Guy” fan or if you liked movies like The Hangover or Bridesmaids, you will love Ted, recommended. And if you liked Airplane, or especially 1980’s Flash Gordon, this is must see. No ifs, ands or buts, must see.

Cartoon from Hell

I just finished watching the pilot for TBS’ new animated series “Neighbors from Hell.” It really kinda sucked, and based on the folks involved, it was really a disappointment.

It’s got the voice talent of Patton Oswalt, Will Sasso and former “South Park” producer Pam Brady, so this should be a lot better. Although, there were warning signs. TBS promoted the show as being from the same studio as “Family Guy.” Hmmm. About the only things this has in common with “Family Guy” is it’s animated and it has a talking dog. And ‘same studio’? They may as well have said that it’s from the same key grip as “The Simpsons.”

The childlike plot involves a demon family from Hell who come to Earth, Texas, to be exact, to stop a drill from digging its way to Hell. And the simple plot is overexplained at least six times in the pilot, and in the weak excuse for a theme song. The family itself seems like lame imitations of the Addams Family and have almost no charisma at all. Only the dog, cleverly named Pazuzu, voiced by Oswalt, and ripping off Brian from “Family Guy” as the voice of reason, has any staying power.

If there is any saving grace to this show, it is the human, non-demon, cast. The human neighbors and the workers at the oil company with the drill are far more interesting and cartoon-bizarre than any of the demon characters. My question is – why even bring Hell into it? Just do an animated sitcom in the style of “The Simpsons” or “Family Guy” with these characters? The demons are boring, and bring down the rest of the show.

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Quickies 1-13-2010

(500) Days of Summer ~ One of the better films of the year, this is a day by day examination of a relationship, sometimes in order, sometimes not. The story and the acting are great and the music and literary references are delicious. This flick also has one of the best impromptu dance numbers (to Hall and Oates of all things) this side of Enchanted or Clerks 2. Do not miss.

9 ~ More ugly animation from Tim Burton, while visually interesting it quickly got boring after about twenty minutes. It was originally created as a short, perhaps it should have stayed such.

Family Guy: Something Something Something Dark Side ~ This second Seth McFarlane “Family Guy” feature parodies the second Star Wars film The Empire Strikes Back. This one is notably more Family Guy than Star Wars but still damned accurate and damned funny. The one thing that does get me is how fantastic and detail-oriented the animation of the ships and background look. How come this parody looks like this, but the real thing – the “Clone Wars” cartoon on Cartoon Network, looks like crap. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

A Thousand Clowns ~ This classic 1965 film is proof positive of Jason Robards’ talent, as well as getting an Oscar for Martin Balsam’s performance and a handful of other nominations including best picture too. A simple story – a woman convinces an out of work imaginative writer to get his job back in order to maintain custody of his gifted nephew. Robards and the young Barry Gordon as well as most of the rest of the cast reprised their roles from the stage play by Herb Gardener. He also wrote the screenplay, that while still feeling stagebound, is an amazing tour de force for all the actors involved. The chemistry of all the actors is incredible. Must see.

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The Cleveland Show

My first question, knowing the workings of Seth MacFarlane’s mind after several seasons of “Family Guy,” is – Is this for real?

“The Cleveland Show” is supposedly coming to Fox for mid-season. I guess it’s a matter of when it’s done if it’s even being made. It promises to be more of the same, from the folks at “Family Guy.”