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Oscar the Grouch

Written by Meg Walter on . Posted in Film

Because sometimes Oscar is just mean. And so if the world were a fair place, and if I were in charge, the following films would win at Sunday night’s Academy Awards show (as compared to those that will):

Parks and Rec

TV: The Brilliance of Parks and Recreation Returns

Written by Meg Walter on . Posted in TV

Parks and Recreation is returning to NBC tonight. This is great news.

I don’t know why it was ever missing from the Thursday night line-up. And I really don’t understand why Outsourced deserved air time while Parks and Rec was shoved into the abyss of short-lived shows.

Outsourced is abhorrently dumb. Parks and Rec is smart. Maybe not smart in the Arrested Development manner to which we television snobs have become accustomed — where every line of dialogue is a double entendre and every character is someone else and we have to chart which joke lines up with which former episode, etc. Instead, Parks and Rec is smart in its simplicity.

Brad Womack

TV: The Bachelor and the State of Humanity

Written by Meg Walter on . Posted in TV

Brad Womack is this season’s bachelor on The Bachelor — and his reputation certainly precedes him.

This is Brad’s second run on ABC’s hit series, having ended his first shot at TV love without a fiancé. His great sin, as far as I can tell, was telling two women that he was not in love with either of them and, therefore, would not be marrying either of them.

This confuses me. Isn’t honesty an admirable attribute? Isn’t it far better to call it quits on a relationship before the ring?

This season’s hopeful Mrs. Womacks sure don’t seem to think so. Rare was the woman who, when meeting Brad, did not say, “I saw your season, you have a lot of explaining to do,” or “I hope you’ve changed.” One girl even slapped his face on behalf of all the women in America. Now that’s the way to catch a man.

Shockingly, the slapper was not the craziest of the bunch. Madison — model by day, vampire by night (fangs and all) — not only made the cut to appear in the initial group of women, but was given a rose and advanced to the next level. If there’s one thing that should be avoided in the search for a potential mate, it’s fangs. And the thirst for blood. (I’m looking at you, Bella.)

Along with crazy, this season also has its fair share of catty. One of the best parts of The Bachelor is the individual interviews with the girls. The girls pretend to be “besties” when together, but then when they’re alone in front of the camera they express their true frustrations with, most often, the girl The Bachelor likes most.

There’s a clear frontrunner on the backbiting front. Michelle from Salt Lake City (woot!) nearly passed out with envy when she was denied the “first impression” rose. Even though all the girls share concerns about Brad and his supposed inability to commit, there were still quite a few “I’m not here to make friends,” and “These girls better watch out,” the standard reality television declarations of “I will win and the rest of y’all are will leave here crying.”

It doesn’t take long to tell that The Bachelor is not actually about the bachelor. It’s about women wanting to be better than each other — wanting to look hotter, flirt better, kiss longer and get married faster, because, gosh dang it, without a man thinking we are The Best, we’re nothing. The Bachelor is essentially Survivor with skankier dresses. These girls don’t want Brad. They want a trophy (ring).

That, I believe, is why so few Bachelor/Bachelorette relationships have made it to the altar. To actually get married, you need love. Love beyond $2,000 dates and hair and makeup artists and vacations to exotic locations every week. The kind of love that can eat ramen noodles for dinner every night and play Monopoly on the weekends and pay bills.

The Bachelor is consistently a trainwreck, and Brad and his new lady friends should not disappoint. I thought the Jake-Vienna season was a disaster, but this season promises so many more catastrophes. I had to remind myself to exhale when the season preview ended — so many tears, so much kissing, so many exotic locations and so much girl hate.

It’s not good television. It’s awesome television. Television that makes you appreciate your own stable relationships. Television that makes you squirm with embarrassment on others’ behalves. Television that makes you question the state of humanity.

inside_job01

Review: Inside Job

Written by Meg Walter on . Posted in Film

With a name like Inside Job, the tone of the film really shouldn’t shock me. Yet I’m still caught off guard when, in the middle of an interview, the voice behind the camera interrupts the Columbia economics professor with “You’ve got to be joking me!”

I, the viewer, already know this professor is covering his tracks. I know he’s a Wall Street villain. I know he is, in part, responsible for the collapse of the American economy. The filmmakers spent the previous 90 minutes of the film showing me all this. They don’t need act so unprofessional in interviews.

It happens many times throughout the film. The subjects — Wall Streeters, members of the Bush administration and other presumed wrong-doers — grow increasingly angry with the interruptions until they explode and demand the camera be turned off. I eventually side with the “villains,” because at least make an initial attempt to follow conversational etiquette.

2010_morning_glory_0131

Review: Morning Glory

Written by Meg Walter on . Posted in Film

I don’t know that I’ve ever found a soundtrack as distracting as the soundtrack in Morning Glory. There are soundtracks that are dated and soundtracks that are quirky, but they usually fit the movie. Morning Glory was a rom-com at best, yet it had the score of an award-winning World War II film. The orchestra swelled at the strangest moments. Rachel McAdams walks into a staff meeting and the music suggests Germany just surrendered.

And speaking of Rachel McAdams, remember how fabulous she was as Regina George in Mean Girls? She was fabulous. One of the greatest villains of film history. But that was over six years ago. Every role since then has been disappointing, seeming to rely on McAdam’s charming looks, and her charming looks alone. Morning Glory is no different.  Our dear Rachel ran around for an hour and a half muttering about how busy her job is, how unlikely she is to have a boyfriend, and how she is taking on the world with her morning show. She kept telling us these things, but she never really showed us.

Community

TV: A Community Where You Belong

Written by Meg Walter on . Posted in TV

I assumed that Community would never make it. I wondered why Joel McHale would take a character role, being as great as he already was on The Soup. I remembered the ill-fated shows NBC had previously tried to place with the big boys in the Thursday night line-up. Come to think of it, I don’t remember those. I guess that proves my point.

But like all those sad sitcoms of yore, I gave it one deciding view. I was impressed — and I’ve only been increasingly impressed with each episode since. As cliché or absurd as it may be to call 30 minutes of television revolutionary, I just can’t help myself. Community deserves it.

Community goes where no show has gone before and where many movies have failed. To produce one quality parody takes incredible writing. To produce a quality parody every week takes incredible thinking.

So many satires fall short. Oftentimes more painful than enjoyable, a full-length feature film will merely imitate that which it is trying to mock. The only differences are usually uglier people and poop jokes. I’ve seen Dance Flick. Okay, fine, and the Scary Movies. I regret all eight of those hours. Community is no imitation. Instead, Community takes on one genre after another. One week it’s zombies, the next week it’s Lost, a John Hughes film, Mean Girls, then Star Trek.

The real strength in Community is its characters. Each serves as a lovable hyperbole — the arrogant ex-lawyer, the leather jacket-wearing political chick, the naïve preppy freshman, old Chevy Chase, the Christian black woman, the delightfully ignorant jock, and the socially inept geek whose occasional television trivia commentary keeps the show just self- aware enough to get away with it.

Each episode is its own. There’s very little story that carries over from one episode to the next — and that’s why Community will last. It can’t be ruined by plot when there’s a new plot each week. And though I’ve often thought these writers have to eventually run out of ideas, the series only seems to be getting stronger.

While this season of 30 Rock seems less sharp and The Office scrambles for fresh ideas, Community is becoming the King of Thursday night. This week’s episode did not disappoint. Each character is so strong, their dialog so sharp, and their antics so unpredictable, that watching Jeff, Britta, Shirley, Abed, Troy, Annie and Pierce stuck in a study room together searching for a purple pen was the highlight of my day.

And at the risk of spoiling an ending, I never saw the monkey coming.