Tag Archives: Maya Rudolph

Life of the Party

Dumb but funny.

First off, happy mother’s day mother fuckers. I spent the earlier part of Saturday celebrating with my mom and sisters (who are mothers themselves) over drinks, and probably food, but definitely drinks, in the heart of Ottawa’s vibrant Byward Market – and we just happened to do that beside Matt Smith, who was in town for Comic Con. Jason Momoa was also in town but I guess someone else had already offered to braid his hair like he was a sweet, sweet pony.

Anyway. Did it help that I had consumed drinks literally marketed as “fishbowls”? Likely yes. Did it help that some of the jokes made in the movie were oddly similar to the jokes we’d been making at my mom’s expense all day long? You bet. Maybe I was just in the mood to laugh, but laugh I did, and so did the rest of a pretty packed theatre.

In Life of the Party, Melissa McCarthy plays Deanna, a woman who’s just been dumped by her jackass husband after a quarter decade of devotion and submission. She decides MV5BMjQ5MjM2OTY1M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTQ2MzI0NTM@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1498,1000_AL_to capitalize on her freedom by finishing the degree she gave up in favour of pregnancy over twenty years ago – the only problem is, she’s now a classmate of her daughter Maddie, because of course she’s elected to go to the exact same college. And I should say: it’s a problem for her daughter, who thinks it’s less than fun to have her booze and sex parade rained out by her uncool mom, but it’s a dream come true for Deanna who can’t wait to spend every waking moment with her daughter, aka, the only good thing to come out of her crummy marriage. Things are further complicated when Maddie’s friends all fall maddeningly in love with Deanna’s endearing “down to clown” antics.

Here’s the thing. This movie is not really a good movie, and it’s not really trying to be. It’s not treading new ground, it’s not smart, it’s not edgy. It’s a a benign, somewhat ridiculous premise that merely exists in order to set up some fairly ludicrous jokes. But it does, quite frequently, knock them down with some punch. The script is less objectionable than most in McCarthy’s recent past, and her performance has got more zing and zeal than all the bedazzled sweatshirts in the movie combined (believe me, it’s substantial).

Do I recommend this movie? It’s hard to go that far. The cornball factor is high. But the truth is, Melissa McCarthy seems uniquely qualified to deal in cheese, and really, who doesn’t love cheese?

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Michael Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Day Special

Peak 1990s Michael Bolton was a cheesy, long haired dude who belonged in my mother’s cheesy CD collection, not mine. He was “adult contemporary” in the worst way imaginable. But then he cut off his mane and hooked up with Lonely Planet. The result?

 

Wait a minute: Michael Bolton has a sense of humour about himself? Indeed he does. And if you thought the above three minutes were worth a hoot, then you should definitely check out his Valentine’s special on Netflix because it’s a whole hour worth of laughs. If you’re anything like me and can’t handle sappy movies without copious eye rolls and squirms, and you think the softcore porn of Fifty Shades of Whatever is just plain undignified, finally we’ve got something you and your hunny can curl up to.  Laughter makes couples stronger – trust me, it’s science.

But you certainly don’t need to be a couple to enjoy this as its basic function is to poke fun michaelboltonsbigsexyvalentinesdayspecial_2at the whole romantic notion anyway. The premise, which is a generous way to describe it, is this: Santa needs an extra 75k babies to deliver presents to by next Christmas, so Michael Bolton agrees to host a sexy telethon to inspire love\baby making. Answering the phones of this telethon include seldom-thought of celebrities such as Brooke Shields, Sinbad, and Janeane Garofalo. But that’s hardly the limit as far as celebrity cameos go. Bolton is helped by the likes of Michael Sheen, Maya Rudolph, and very briefly, his best friend Adam Scott. Plus about 2 dozen more.

Bottom line, it’s stupid. It’s quite stupid. It was the kind of stupid I enjoyed because it’s skeweringly silly, raunchy, sparkling with tongue-in-cheek homages. It’s quite reminiscent of the Bill Murray Christmas special, A Very Murray Christmas. And the truth is, Michael Bolton still sounds good. So on the rare occasion when he actually does sing, it’s perfectly pleasing. But it’s never, ever with a straight face. And that’s what makes it stupidly glorious.

 

[It also begs the question: what’s next? Murray got Christmas, Bolton got Valentine’s…who would you like to see tackle a holiday?]

Mr. Pig

Ambrose’s farm is failing. He and his daughter are estranged. He doesn’t have anywhere else to be, so he and his friend Howard take a road trip down to Mexico. We get some solid, buddy-road-trip stuff out of Ambrose and Howard: questionable roadside food cards, cold beers, 000070-26554-16618_mrpig_still1_dannyglover__bydamingarca_-_h_2016reminiscences. It’s only a little wonky that Howard is Ambrose’s prized pig.

Howard is the last of a hallowed pig lineage, and Ambrose (Danny Glover) is making this illegal road trip to drop him off where he’ll be treasured and treated right, with the son of his old partner. It doesn’t hurt that the son is willing to pay what only Ambrose thinks Howard is worth. But when the incredibly porcine duo arrive, Ambrose finds his old partner’s farm to be thoroughly modernized, and that’s no compliment. It’s a factory farm that treats live animals like end products, so of course Ambrose balks. The deal is off: he and Howard hit the road once again.

This is when Ambrose’s very concerned daughter Eunice (Maya Rudolph) appears on the scene, but she cannot simply drive Ambrose and Howard back home because US customs just won’t allow it (well duh, they make you throw out orange slices for the love of god). So now it’s a father-mr-pig-moviedaughter-hog road trip movie, only there won’t be any touching redemption in this minivan. Ambrose just isn’t the type.

Mr. Pig wallows. It’s slow going. Diego Luna directs, and he’s got a fine eye for the beauty of Mexico, I’ll give him that. We see a side of it that we don’t usually glimpse in movies, the less cliched part of Mexico. The character study, however, is extremely low key. Too low key, you might be forgiven for thinking. Both Glover and Rudolph do their damnedest, but there’s just not enough bacon to go around.

 

Idiocracy

Natural selection should, in theory, favour the smartest and strongest, but what happens if it actually results in a dumbing down of the population? Evolution rewards those who reproduce the most, and in Idiocracy, intelligent people have become an endangered species.

I didn’t really care for this movie when it first came out, but waking up to a world in which Donald Trump is president brought this immediately to mind.

_88551016_trumpcoverLuke Wilson plays a very average dude waiting out his pension in an army library until he’s chosen to pioneer an experiment. Maya Rudolph, a prostitute, is also extremely average, and both have the added benefit of being completely friendless in the world, so no pesky family members to ask nosy questions when the army turns them into human popsicles in order to determine if humans can successfully “hibernate” for a year. Verdict: never trust the army, for starters. The experiment is neglected and its two subjects lay dormant for years. Meanwhile, humanity gets stupider at an alarming rate.

It’s a pretty dismal picture for the future of mankind, but as far as Idiocracy goes, it doesn’t go far enough. It fails to account for the reality TV  host of its fictional show “Ow, My Balls” not only running for president, but actually winning. That’s one little nugget that even Mike Judge couldn’t fathom, and he’s the guy that divined a Carls, Jr. burger-dispensing device that also confiscates children from unfit mothers. Reality is turning out to be even stupider than the most low-brow satire had the balls to portray.

The rest of the world is horrified. Nauseated. And not just at the 59 million racist, misogynist Americans who voted for a smug, clueless, unapologetic (boastful, even) rapist, but for the millions more who didn’t show up at all to stop him. Of course I’m heart sick and nervous about so many of my largeuncomfortably-close neighbours to the south harbouring such hatred in their hearts, but I’m almost as upset about the apathy, and what that apathy means. It means that a man can run a campaign on blatant lies, zero experience, and rampant xenophobia, and people will let him. It means Americans are not the people we thought they were. That progress is rolling backwards in that country. That now our own rational, credentialed, professional world leaders will be forced to treat Trump like an equal even though he has proven himself unqualified to open his own car door. We have embraced “sunny ways” up here in Canada but see nothing but dark days across the border. I wouldn’t have wished a Trump presidency on my worst enemy, and never wanted to believe that this Neanderthal would succeed. Would be allowed to succeed. Nevertheless, he is the president-elect, and maybe the president they deserve. It’s a wake up call to all of us. We are not without problems in Canada and as the U.S. is usually our cultural mirror, it’s safe to say we should all be taking a much longer look at ourselves and each other. We can do better than this. We ARE better than this. Even Idiocracy offers hope: in the end, the smartest man is elected. Order is restored. The righteous are vindicated.

 

 

 

Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups. – George Carlin