What Lisa Watched Last Night #56: Dumb and Dumber (dir by Peter and Bobby Farrelly)


Last night, I turned on Comedy Central and I watched the 1994 comedy Dumb and Dumber.

Why Was I Watching It?

Last night was my first time to ever sit down and watch Dumb and Dumber from beginning to end.  I had seen several clips on YouTube and I had been assured by many people that Dumb and Dumber was one of the funniest movies ever made.  Last night, since SyFy was not showing an original movie, I decided to find out for myself.

What Was It About?

Harry (played by Jeff Daniels) is dumb and Lloyd (Jim Carrey) is dumber.  Harry has messy hair and Lloyd has a chipped tooth.  They end up getting kicked out of their depressing apartment and this somehow leads to them going on a road trip from Rhode Island to Colorado.  They’re looking for Lloyd’s dream girl, Mary (Lauren Holly).  Along the way, they’re pursued by a gangsters and engage in a lot of disgusting adventures.  It’s a dumb movie about dumb people doing dumb things.

What Worked?

I laughed once while watching the film.  It was a weary laugh that was largely the result of being slowly worn down by the film’s insistence that what I was watching was actually funny.  It wasn’t a sincere laugh.  It was a laugh of surrender but it was a laugh nonetheless.

Jeff Daniels is currently best known for playing Will McAvoy, the smug and condescending center of HBO’s The Newsroom.  That show’s pilot famously started off with McAvoy declaring that the millenials are the “WORST.  GENERATION.  EVER.”  As a member of the WORST.  GENERATION.  EVER, I have to say that there was something oddly satisfying about seeing Jeff Daniels getting continually humiliated (and, at one point, set on fire) in Dumb and Dumber.

What Did Not Work?

Just to judge by the reaction on twitter while Dumb and Dumber was playing, a lot of people are going to disagree with me on this but Dumb and Dumber sucks.  Seriously.  The film’s constant gross-out humor felt more lazy than clever and watching it quickly became as tedious as watching a commercial featuring a celebrity talking to their iPhone.  As I watched Dumb and Dumber, I found myself constantly checking the time and wondering, “Is the film ever going to actually get funny?”

One of the keys to succesful film comedy is that you have to believe that the characters have an actual stake in the film’s plot, regardless of how ludicrous or over-the-top the plot may get.  That stake is the difference between silly and funny.  With Jeff Daniels looking extremely uncomfortable and Jim Carrey apparently acting in a separate movie from everyone else, Dumb and Dumber is silly without ever really being funny.

Maybe it was easier to make people laugh in 1994.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

For once, I’m glad to say that a movie featured absolutely no “Oh my God!  Just like me!” moments.

Actually, I take that back.  Both me and Lauren Holly have the same hair color.  So, that was just like me.

But that is it!

Lessons Learned

Comedy, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Film Review: Lincoln (dir. by Steven Spielberg)


I am a history nerd.

If you’ve read my previous reviews here on the Shattered Lens, that’s not necessarily a major revelation.  Still, before I talk about Steven Spielberg’s latest film, the sure-to-be Oscar nominated Lincoln, you should know where I’m coming from as a reviewer.  Cinema may be my number one love but history, and especially political history, runs a close second.  To me, there is nothing more fascinating than learning how those in the past both viewed and dealt with the issues that we still face in the present.  Whereas some people take pride in being able to name every player that’s ever played for the Dallas Cowboys, I take pride in the fact that I can not only name every President and Vice President in order but I can also tell you exactly who they had to defeat in order to serve in those offices.

I love history and therefore, it was hard for me not to feel as if Lincoln was a film that was made specifically for me.  Covering the final four months of the life of the 16th president, this film tells the story of Lincoln’s struggle to pass the 13th Amendment and to bring an end to the U.S. Civil War.  The film also documents Lincoln’s troubled marriage to the unstable Mary and his son’s decision to enlist in the Union Army.  Even though Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner don’t include any vampires*, there’s still a lot going on in Lincoln and it is to their credit that the film remains compelling despite the fact that everyone already knows how the story is going to end.

Daniel Day-Lewis is getting a lot of critical acclaim for his performance in the title role and, for once, I actually have to agree with the critics.  Abraham Lincoln is one of the most iconic figures in American history.  He is such an icon that, at times, it’s hard to believe that this larger-than-life figure, with his stove-pipe hat and his homely face, was an actual human being who lived and breathed and died like any other human being.  It’s easier to think of him in the same way that Jesus Christ used to be represented in films like Ben-Hur, as an inspiring character who is always standing just a little bit off-camera.  The brilliance of Day-Lewis’s performance is that he makes us believe that this legendary figure could actually exist with all the rest of history’s mortals.  For lack of a better term, Day-Lewis humanizes Lincoln.  His performance contains all the bits of the Lincoln legend: the fatalistic melancholy, the steely resolve, the quick humor, and occasional flashes of self-doubt.  The genius of the performance is the way that it takes all the legendary pieces and arranges them to create a portrait of a very believable man.

Though the film is dominated by Day-Lewis’s lead performance, the film’s supporting cast does a good job at bringing to life the people around Lincoln.  Whenever one film can manage to find roles for Hal Holbrook, David Strathairn, Jared Harris, James Spader, John Hawkes, and Jackie Earle Haley, you’ve got good reason to be optimistic about what you’re about to see.  Probably the film’s showiest supporting role goes to Tommy Lee Jones, who plays the firebrand abolitionist Thaddeus Stevens.  Admittedly, Tommy Lee Jones gives a standard Tommy Lee Jones performance here but, especially when paired with Day-Lewis’s more internal acting style, the end result is still fun to watch.  Also giving a good performance is Sally Field, who plays Lincoln’s mentally unstable wife.  Historians have rarely been kind (or fair) to Mary Lincoln but Field makes her into a difficult but sympathetic figure.  Finally, even though the role of Lincoln’s son is not a challenging one, I’m always happy whenever Joseph Gordon-Levitt shows up onscreen.

Ultimately, however, Lincoln is a Steven Spielberg film.  Spielberg is a very good director but he’s also a very safe one.  The same can be said of Lincoln as a film.  The film’s cinematography, art design, and costume design are all brilliantly done and award-worthy but it’s still hard not to occasionally wish that Spielberg would have enough faith in his audience that he wouldn’t feel the need to have John Williams provide constant musical cues to let us know what we are supposed to be feeling about what we’re experiencing.  If you’re looking for hints of moral ambiguity, an unflinching examination of the rivers of blood that flowed on the Civil War battlefield, or for an in-depth portrait of Lincoln’s personal demons (and most historians agree that he had a few), you might want to look elsewhere.  This is not Martin Scorsese’s Lincoln.  This is Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln.  This is a film that is meant to be inspiring (as opposed to thought-provoking) and, for the most part, it succeeds.

I have to admit that I went into Lincoln expecting to be disappointed.  Ever since the film first went into production in 2011, websites like Awards Daily have been hyping this film to death.  Before many of them had even seen the completed film, online critics were announcing that both the film and Daniel Day-Lewis were the clear front-runners for the Oscars in 2013.  As anyone who has read my previous reviews on this site knows, nothing turns me off more than the bandwagon mentality of the critical establishment.  Often times, when a film is embraced as vehemently and as early as Lincoln has been, I feel almost honor-bound to be a hundred times more critical of it than I would be of a film like Step Up Revolution.

However, Lincoln is a rarity.  It’s a film that, for the most part, actually lives up to all the hype.

—-

*I imagine that little joke will cause a lot of confusion to anyone who, ten years in the future, happens to stumble across this review.  To you, future reader who has forgotten all about Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, I can only apologize.

Review: The Walking Dead S3E06 “Hounded”


“Eat. Drink. Be Merry. Tomorrow we die.” — Phillip “The Governor” Blake

We’re now over a third of the way throughseason 3 of The Walking Dead. The season began in such a fast pace that it almost as if the writers were trying to exorcise the demons of the very deliberate and pastorial season 2. The question that now arose was whether the writers will be able to keep the fast pace going through most of the season. There was bound to be some slow spots through the 16-episode run for this season, but the series seems to have avoided it, so far.

“Hounded” marks the sixth episode this season. Last week’s episode was a break from the action and this break continues with tonight’s episode. We get a pre-credits opening of Merle leading a small group of Woodbury tough guys on a hunt to find newcomer and resident badass Michonne. It would seem her suspicions about the Governor and the “idyllic” Woodbury was right on the nose. Before we can say “look it’s Evil Glenn” the Merle quartet was suddenly down two men, but Michonne gets winged by a Merle shot for her troubles.

After the intro credits we find ourselves back in the prison with Rick as he’s speaking to the voice on the phone which ended last week’s episode in a cliffhanger. Everything Rick ever wanted since the first season he hears from the female voice on the phone. A haven that’s safe from zombies, raiders and internal struggles. It’s a call from paradise that Rick has wanted for his family since he reunited with them midway through season 1.

The episode concentrates on these two paralleling storylines with some visits back in Woodbury to see how Andrea continues to fall under the Governor’s spell and just reminding everyone why she’s now the most hated character on the show now that Lori has exited. It’s these Andrea scenes that seem to slow tonight’s episode even more than it already has. It doesn’t help that the writers haven’t been able to find a way to course-correct the character after two season’s worth of a bungled job. Maybe it’s a character that’s broken beyond fixing or the actress portraying her (Laurie Holden) who always comes off in every scene as being too cocky for her own good. There’s still time to get this character turned around, but with Mazzara and company already making good on correcting the show’s past season mistakes both in it’s storytelling and in underused and underdeveloped character I don’t see much hope that Andrea will survive the season (plus she seems to be the last of the original Darabont veteran troupe hired for the show initially).

We find that the hounding of Michonne by Merle mirrors the hounding of Rick by those on the other side of the phone. While the former was one storyline that was a literal hounding the latter was a psychological one as Rick realizes that those he has been speaking to were not as he thought they were. We see Rick finally have the proper breakdown into grief at Lori’s death that the previous episode didn’t even attempt to do. We hear him confess his regret for not being able to keep his family safe and finally admitting that he still loved his wife and would do anything to get her back to tell her that.

It’s a lot to process and the episode suffered because of it. The scenes back in Woodbury did nothing other than make Andrea look even worst as she finally succumbs to the Governor’s charms. It’s this inconsistency in her character that has made her such a frustrating character to believe in. One moment she’s regretting not listening to Michonne then the next moment she’s in with the Governor. These scenes took away from the two storylines that dominated tonight’s episode. With just those two the episode was already stretched thin as it was.

So, tonight’s episode might have been a lot of set-up for what looks to be the long-awaited confrontation between Team Rick and Team Governor, but it also looks like it’s the third season’s first truly weak episode. We don’t learn anything new about any of the character old and new. We do get reminded that some of the show’s past mistakes still linger and keeps it from really taking off. So, the question about whether the writers will be able to keep season 3’s pace of quality tv has been answered. It’s just one episode but it highlighted just how much improvement the show still has to go. Fortunately, we’re not getting a sense that the writers intend to keep subplots from dragging along (the Sophia and Greene Farm being great examples of pacing killers). Now it’s time to see if the Mazzara Crew can get back on track with the final two episode of the season before it goes on a winter break.

Notes

  • Tonight’s episode was directed by series newcomer Dan Attias and written by series regular Scott M. Gimple.
  • Evil Glenn, we hardly knew you and now you’re gone.
  • Andrea just will continue to be the new target of hate for fans of the show. She just seems to always have smug look on her face even when she has no reason to be smug about.
  • Her skill in killing the zombie outside the wall did show that she’s probably one of the better killers in Woodbury outside of Merle and the Governor himself.
  • Hershel looks to be taking over as the voice of conscience for Rick. He looks to be taking on the role in the show that was originally taken by our dear departed Dale Horvath.
  • Rick must’ve really gone on a major killpocalypse in the prison in the previous episode if things were clear enough for Hershel to limp his way through safely.
  • Merle builds the kid’s courage up and just as easily takes it away with a bullet.
  • The Maggie and Glenn duo continue to be a very cute thing in a show that’s very lacking in the cute department.
  • Maggie continues to be this show’s version of the comic book Andrea which means she’s the team’s female badass until Michonne comes along.
  • Interesting how the show continues to deviate from the comic book’s narrative but still manages to create new scenes reminiscent of what was on that path not taken.
  • Nice how Glenn stays consistent with how he treats outsiders after mentioning in last week’s episode that the group should be very wary of anyone that’s not part of the group.
  • It seems like the show is setting things up to have a Dixon Brother showdown.
  • Nice to see the writers making sure that subplots introduced this season that has a chance to slow things down considerably get some sort of resolution: missing Carol and mysterious phone call.
  • Not many zombie kills this week, but the magicians over at KNB EFX still managed to make what kills there were memorable: zombie stomach sliced open and out slides out the goods.
  • Zombie Kill Count of tonight’s episode: 5

Past Season 3 Episode Review

  1. Episode 1: “Seed”
  2. Episode 2: “Sick”
  3. Episode 3: “Walk With Me”
  4. Episode 4: “Killer Within”
  5. Episode 5: “Say the Word”

Rozen Maiden Manga to Get More Anime, Desu


When I first returned to watching anime and reading manga a little over 4 years ago one of the series that I really enjoyed and continue to enjoy since has been the series from the art duo of Peach-Pit. This series about living dolls and one hikikomori boy named Jun Sakurada reminded me that anime wasn’t just cute and disposable entertainment with simple writing. This series wasn’t just cute to look at, but had writing that struck a balance between comedy, drama and, for a series about dolls, it was dark and melancholy.

Rozen Maiden is the name of the series.

Now comes word that the manga that is still on-going will be receiving a new series (already two seasons and two OVA’s have been released) after almost 6 years of no new anime content. There’s no word of when the new Rozen Maiden series will premiere in Japan and whether it’ll get licensed for a release in North America, but just the news that the project has been green-lit should delight fans of the series. For one thing it’ll mean more desu.

Source: Anime News Network