Disney’s Bid for World Domination

   A world domination planning session? Walt Disney had an insidious plot astounding in its evil audacity. It was a plan for world domination so complete, it rivaled the greatest plans of Lex Luther, Ernst Blofeld or even Dr. Evil. Using an ever-expanding cast of animated characters, led by a giant, falsetto mouse, charged by a driving beat devised by a group aptly named They Might be Giants, Disney’s plan was to attack the American populace at its weakest point, its children. Capturing the hearts and souls of these impressionable children was the first and necessary step in ultimately seizing control of the minds, and more important, the wallets of people all over the world. Soon, like a cult derived from a science fiction novel, Disney’s reach spread into Florida, Los Angeles, and then Europe. A quick visit to one of its indoctrination centers referred to as “Epcot” will make it… Read More…

Comic Con Rookie: Stan Lee, The Walking Dead, Lois Lane and “The Last Train to Clarksville”

Somewhere between good dad and voyeur-geek you’ll find me.  The 24th Motor City Comic Con was this weekend at the local expo center and my son was interested.  No big surprise.  The popularity of the new generation The Avengers, The Dark Knight coupled with my generation’s Star Wars fan-base and going back another generation to Star Trek and Dr. Who, there was something for everyone there.  I’d never gone, not really liking crowds or costumed folks sneaking up on me.  But I agreed. The bigger surprise was that my daughter and her friend wanted to go.   Two guests were the reason that the attendance jumped from 18,000 last year to 30,000 this year.  90 year-old Stan Lee and 44 year-old, but relatively unknown until he started bow-hunting zombies, Norman Reedus.  The father of Marvel Comics was only there on Saturday and we were going on Sunday due to various… Read More…

Zooey Deschanel is a Dark Skinned Male!

   The Boston mystery has been solved. Police were searching for a “dark skinned male” last week until, after a few days, they identified him: Zooey Deschanel. That’s what you learned if you were getting your news on local channel Fox 4 in Dallas. John King from CNN reported the “dark skinned male” part, citing a government official as the source for his description. And in Dallas, a scrolling line below the Dallas anchors announced that Zooey Deschanel, star of the series “The New Girl,” the films “500 Days of Summer,” “Elf,” and other political diatribes, was the bomber. Most likely the source of the Dallas report was spell-check trying to contend with the name Dzokhar Tsarnaev. Or the typist hates “The New Girl.” The mistake leads to an interesting question: how many people in Dallas said, “no way,” and how many said, “really?” The Capitalist spirit has always had… Read More…

Arrested Development–Pure Genius

The return of Arrested Development on May 26th should be hailed as a triumph, and as a display of the power of intelligence. To briefly catch you up, the show revolves around the exploits of the rich, incredibly shallow Bluth family. As the opening credits explain, they were a wealthy family that lost everything after the family patriarch is arrested for stealing from the company, and now has no choice but to rely on Michael Bluth, the most stable child in the family, to help bring them all back together. The show featured an insanely talented cast, many of whom gained their fame only after Arrested had ended: Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, David Cross, Portia de Rossi, and on and on. When Arrested Development first premiered in 2002, I remember very vividly reading a review of it in Entertainment Weekly. The magazine actually hailed it as an astoundingly funny sitcom,… Read More…

A Not-Love Letter to New York

I grew up near Philadelphia, the birth place of the nation, the 5th largest city in the country, with a vibrant and still growing culinary, arts and theatre culture. But to a typical New Yorker, Philly is still New York’s largest suburb.  That attitude led me to jealously dislike the city the way a little brother may dislike a much more successful big brother. Imagine being Don Swayze when your brother Patrick brings up “Dirty Dancing” for the millionth time.  Imagine being Fredo when your little brother says, “Who’s the Don again, big brother? You? Uhm, no, that would be me.”  So, New York, as great and wonderful and powerful and all-knowing as you are, you have a few flaws that I’d be glad to point out to you.   a.  The Pride of theYankees; Like “The Walking Dead,” in which the main characters encounter shambling, leg-dragging, moaning zombies wherever… Read More…

Roger Ebert–The Man, The Legend

  Today was an incredible sad day for the movies, and for me. Roger Ebert, the man whose name became synonymous with film reviews, passed away at the age of 70. When I heard the news earlier, I actually cried as if a member of my own family had died. The memories of my favorite Sunday tradition, watching “At the Movies” with my mother, came rushing back to me. My mother and I would watch, offering up our own critiques along the way, but, more often than not, nodding along to whatever Ebert said. Reading his reviews at a very early age, as well as his “Answer Man” column, began my love of film, and the art of critiquing it. I hoped to one day become a film critic, and even got to live this dream (well, sort of) when, in college, I became a film critic for the Michigan… Read More…

Willy Wonka, Shirking Responsibility and a Great Night Out!

  Tonight in Detroit you can once again blame your parents.  The punchline for the Oompa Loompa’s many songs dealing with Charlie and his competing four brats for the keys to the fabled chocolate factor is “The mother and the father.”   I was only six years old when this classic film premiered and I remember nodding my head in the theater thinking, “Yeah, the little creepy orange guys are right.  Those kids are spoiled rotten.”  Perhaps it was some kind of smugness that I would later have a stuffy professor explain to me as the same joy that the Greeks took in tragedies–“Whew, glad that’s Oedipus and not me!” At Detroit’s historic Redford Theatre this afternoon and tonight, you can not only see the film again in a classic 1920’s theater, complete with organ recitals before the show and during intermission just like they had for the silent films…. Read More…

Seth MacFarlane’s Only Oscar Gig: Can’t we all just lighten up?

  Actors (either gender) are, at their best, magicians. How scary was DeNiro staring into the mirror as Travis Bickle? How sad was it when Brando as Vito Corleone momentarily broke down over the body of his murdered son, Sonny? More obscure: do you recall Melora Walters smile at the end of “Magnolia,” which contained more meaning than entire movies? Their work deserves praise, but let’s put things in perspective.  Every year, they “roll the red carpet out” for themselves. They honor themselves and their work in a gala presentation that lasts about 15 hours. The Oscars this year started two weeks ago, and I think it’s still on. Every now and then, an irreverent host is hired–Chris Rock, Ricky Gervais (OK, Golden Globes), and this year, Seth MacFarlane–who is then sharply criticized for being irreverent.  One of the kinder words used to describe MacFarlane’s appearance this year was “sophomoric,”… Read More…

Deja-Viewing: Jennifer Lawrence, Zombies and the Book of Job

Watching Jennifer Lawrence win her deserved Oscar last Sunday night–and better yet, seeing her respond so humanly to tripping on her crazy dress heading up the slippery stairs, I felt that she was someone that would be pretty great to know.  While she accepted her award, I suddenly flashed-back to another favorite of mine who won in 1989, Geena Davis, for The Accidental Tourist.  She too played a quirky, pushy character who knocks a self-pitying guy out of his funk.  In both cases, you’re siding with her over the guy, yelling at the screen for him, to quote Moonstruck, “Snap out of it!” Plot-patterns are fun to find.  A professor I had once said that every good story is alredy in the Bible somewhere.  The Book of Job is mirrored in Trading Places, as two powerful men bet on how a wealthy person will fare if everything is stripped from him.  Even… Read More…