Arrested Development: Season One (2003)


Say What You Will About America; Thirteen Bucks Still Gets You a Hell of a Lot of Mice.

I don’t often get requests to review TV shows, which I generally regard as a blessing, since a review of a TV show can take quite some time and I’ve never found myself particularly good at it.  But, when today’s TV show was requested, I was actually quite happy about it.  Not happy about getting to write a review of it, as I’m not nearly as practiced at it as I am with movies and even video games.  What I was happy about was getting to watch the TV show.  I’d never seen a single episode of this show as I tend to not keep up with television that much, so much so that I actually cancelled my cable service because I could do without the greater majority of them.  But I’d heard so much about how awesome this TV show was I was happy to have a reason to watch it.  So happy, apparently, that I actually bombed through all 22 episodes of the first season in one day.  Let’s see if it can live up to the hype as I review the first season of Arrested Development, created by Mitchell Hurwitz, and starring Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Tony Hale, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, David Cross, Henry Winkler, Judy Greer, Liza Minnelli, Patricia Velásquez, Carl Weathers, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jay Johnston, Jerry Minor, Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts, Justin Lee, Jane Lynch, James Lipton, and John Michael Higgins.

George Bluth Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor) retires as the founder and CEO of the Bluth Company and is promptly arrested for spending the company’s money on personal expenses.  Bluth’s wife, Lucille (Jessica Walter) takes over as CEO, naming her extremely sheltered youngest son, Buster (Tony Hale), the president.  The middle son – and the only son actually equipped to run a business – Michael (Jason Bateman) leaves the company as a result, but comes back when they all realize they need him, and because his own son, George Michael (Michael Cera) wants to stay with the family.  Mainly because he’s developed a crush on his cousin, Maeby (Alia Shawkat), daughter of Michael’s sister Lindsay (Portia de Rossi) and her husband Tobias (David Cross).  The majority of the family lives in one of the Bluth model homes, with the rest of them, including the oldest brother Gob (Will Arnett) the aspiring magician, visiting frequently to try to borrow money from Michael as he tries to save the company while not even knowing what his father got into.

I don’t know if I’d say that this show has lived up to the hype so far, but it’s certainly not the fault of the show.  From what I had heard, I half expected to be laughing non-stop while watching.  That wasn’t what happened, but I found the show to be extremely well written, very funny, and even funny enough to get me to laugh out loud on more than one occasion.  The first episode was a little disappointing, but it seemed to mainly be all of the setup to get all of the backstory out of the way, but they pick up their speed pretty quickly after that.  The jokes mainly come from how ridiculous the family are, and are often shown in quick cutaways, almost like a live action Family Guy.  And, more often than not, my favorite part of the episode was actually the very end, where they show scenes from the next episode that may or may not actually happen, but they work very well as rapid fire jokes.  And a lot of the jokes were pretty smart too.  I liked when Gob got literally stabbed in the back as Michael was figuratively stabbing him in the back.  I was also a fan of the part where a guy said to Michael, “If you care about your brother, you’ll get in the car,” and Michael said, “Which brother?” and then, when the guy answered, “Gob,” he kept riding away.  Later, when George Michael was trying to find out if he was actually related to Maeby and he asked Gob if Lindsay was ever pregnant, Gob answers, “Oh yeah, dozens of times.”  I also like the part where George Bluth was talking about his twin brother and says, “You should’ve seen his face,” but then remembers that they’re twins and shows him what the face looked like.  A lot of the jokes seemed extra smart and well thought out as so many of them come together in the final episode, though this could’ve been done without planning to do it before hand.  I also liked a lot of the jokes that went on in the background, like when Gob was complaining about his girlfriend the Mexican soap opera star and saying that he’d kill someone if he ever had to smell some Mexican dish again, and the maid in the background closes her Tupperware that she was eating out of.  The story was never super important to the quality of the show, but there were a couple of reveals that were pretty obvious.  The whole part about “there always being money in the banana stand” could be seen coming from miles away, as well as the part about the blind lawyer being the Bluth’s opposing prosecutor in the trial.  Hell, they even outright spoil one themselves in the scenes from the next episode by saying that the lawyer isn’t really blind, but they say so many things in those next episode sequences that I didn’t know if it was true or a joke.  If it sounds like I’m just listing some of my favorite jokes from the show … well, I am.  But the show is well-written and funny, so you should watch it.

I liked all the performances in the show as well.  The greater majority of them are people that I liked going in, so it’s not really a surprise to me.  Jason Bateman plays a fantastic straight man, though he’s not above getting a little wacky himself.  It’s not too necessary in this show as his family does the bulk of the goofiness.  I was torn on the rest of the family for a while since most of them seemed like such unlikeable people I didn’t know why I’d want to spend time with them.  But you warm up to them fairly quickly.  I warmed up to Portia de Rossi because she was hot, especially when she was being sprayed by water and dancing in a cage in one of the later episodes.  I warmed up to Will Arnett because I’ve always liked him, and because he was one of the characters that started a lot of the funniness.  He also had his real life wife Amy Poehler in a few episodes as the wife he eloped with, and I’m always happy to see her as well.  I didn’t know Tony Hale before this show, but he gets a lot of funniness out of his Buster character.  I liked that he was able to get laughs from things as simple as standing silently in the background of scenes.  David Cross did a great deal of the comedy as well, as his character seemed totally gay and totally eccentric.  I liked the little physical things he did, like when he rolled up on the stage at the school play, or when he licked the end of his pencil and then kept licking it like he liked the taste.  He also got to work with Bob Odenkirk again in one episode, and those guys are genius together.  Michael Cera was an odd one for me.  Not because his performance in this show was not dissimilar from many of his other characters, but because of his relationship with his cousin Alia Shawkat.  Even though his crush on his cousin is pretty inappropriate, I found myself kind of wishing they would end up together.  I also liked Judy Greer in her few appearances as the assistant to George Bluth.  She’s a pretty attractive lady and I thought it was pretty funny when Gob would have her take off her glasses and her eyes would go cross-eyed, and she’d let down her hair and it’d go all crazy, and later she got a boob job and her nipples seemed to be pointing in odd directions.  Another big thing about the show is all of the guest appearances.  Liza Minnelli was in a few episodes, and was pretty damned funny as well.  Henry Winkler was usually funny as the inept lawyer, and he even busted the Fonze move in one episode.  Jane Lynch, Heather Graham, Carl Weathers, and a bunch of other random guest appearances were also great.

I’m sure a crappy show could not have kept me interested enough to actually get through 22 episodes of the first season in one day, but that was thankfully not the case with Arrested Development.  It was extremely well-written, very funny, and with fantastic performances to back it all up.  I don’t want to do it too soon and have the next review follow too quickly, but I can’t wait to get into the second season.  And, since you can stream the whole thing on Netflix, I don’t know why you’re not doing it right now.  Turns out my Friendboss Josh isn’t so much of an asshole after all.  Arrested Development Season One gets “That was a good investment” out of “It was shoplifting and I’m white.  I think I’m going to be okay.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Mean Girls (2004)


I Want My Pink Shirt Back!

Yimmy is such a sweetheart.  He has, thus far, been the only person to consistently recommend movies that are actually good.  I have seen today’s movie before, and have heard good things about the movie from pretty much everybody, but I strangely don’t remember thinking that much of it.  It’s weird.  The writer is one of my favorite writers ever, and the movie is filled with pretty girls and people I find funny, but I just couldn’t remember thinking that much of it.  I also have a terrible memory, so we’ll see how it turned out in my review of Mean Girls, written by Tina Fey, directed by Mark Waters, and starring Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Lacey Chabert, Amanda Seyfried, Lizzy Caplan, Daniel Franzese, Jonathan Bennett, Tina Fey, Tim Meadows, Neil Flynn, Ana Gasteyer, and Amy Poehler.

Slutty, cokehead, whorebag Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) has been homeschooled in Africa by her parents (Neil Flynn and Ana Gasteyer) for most of her life, but now she must start high school.  Okay, slutty, cokehead, whorebag doesn’t apply to the character.  It’s more for the actress.  But she’s starting high school anyways.  She quickly befriends Janis (Lizzy Caplan) and Damien (Daniel Franzese), who teach her about the social structure of the school, most notably “the Plastics”, lead by Regina George (Rachel McAdams), toaster strudel heiress Gretchen Wieners (Lacey Chabert), and really dumb Karen Smith (Amanda Seyfried).  Thinking it would be funny, Janis talks Cady into infiltrating the Plastics in order to destroy them from the inside.  But can Cady become the enemy without losing herself in it?  The answer: Lindsay Lohan loves cocaine!

I think the strangest thing about this movie is that I hate the type of movie, but I like this movie.  It handles exactly like numerous other movies about the new girl having a rough time in school, and the odd girl becoming cool but forgetting who she is, and so many other high school movies.  These movies are pretty played out and cliche and not usually worth watching.  The difference with this movie is that it was written by Tina Fey.  As with most things, having Tina Fey behind it makes it good.  This movie was pretty damned funny.  A little sappy in parts for my tastes, but still enjoyable all the way through.  There are a lot of really solid laughs in this movie, and a couple of things that didn’t make as much sense to me though, in the movie’s defense, I was rarely a girl in high school.  The whole idea of the Burn Book seemed like way too much work to rag on someone that will potentially never see it.  You could just sit around and make fun of them without having to actually buy a book, clip out photos, and paste them in the book with some snarky comment.  I suppose it’s something that high school girls might do, but I am way too lazy to do that.  Words are so much easier.  The other thing that didn’t make sense to me was in the end when Cady is breaking the crown into pieces and giving it to everyone.  The reason it doesn’t make sense to me is that she freakin’ Jesus’d that crown.  Every time she broke it, there was still enough to go around for everyone in the auditorium.  This is totally unbelievable because if Lohan had Jesus powers, you know she’d just be at the water fountain turning it to wine.

The cast is almost entirely great.  I may have already indicated (in the sly, hidden way that I did) that I am not that big of a fan of Lindsay Lohan, but I give her credit for doing pretty well in this movie.  This was probably the best looking she’ll ever be (as I hear meth ruins your teeth), and she also pulled off her comedic and emotional bits very well.  It was super racist and not cool for her to “Jambo” at the black people she saw, and seemed a little out of character.  I mean, I laughed, but I’m a racist.  Also, never really believed Lohan as a math expert.  I understand that there is some math involved with dividing drugs up, but I don’t think that would make you an expert.  I feel a little bad for Rachel McAdams because she’s gorgeous and probably a super nice girl, but she’s also really good at playing a bitch.  I’d like to see her play more sweet girls so I could just fall in love with her.  Of course, it’s not bitchy for her to tell Lohan that she was just a less hot version of her.  That’s just good, solid facts.  I feel extra bad for Lacey Chabert because she is so completely gorgeous as well, and also pulled off the comedy and the parts where she had to cry so well, but she really hasn’t become as mainstream as she should.  She had Not Another Teen Movie, and her one line was pretty hilarious in that, but she needs to be more famous.  They let Kate Hudson ruin so many huge profile comedies and yet Chabert hasn’t really done a big movie since 2004?  Not fair, Hollywood!  The same could be said for Amanda Seyfried, I guess.  She had that one horrible Red Riding Hood movie, but not a lot worth talking about.  Nothing good, but at least they were big.  She was pretty funny in this movie, and easily the sweetest girl in the Plastics because she was so dumb and innocent.  Tina Fey was great in this as well, and quite frankly, arguably the hottest woman in this movie.  I’ll stand by that.  She gets her bra out in the introduction of her character as well, and I’m always down for that.  She has a great deal of funny parts in the movie, but she isn’t in that often.  Tim Meadows kills practically every time he’s on camera as well, but he was a little underused.  He was very put upon in this role, but still very funny.  I love Lizzy Caplan a lot as well, but her character in this was a little too hateful and irritating.  She was sometimes justified, but sometimes you should just move on with your life.  Get a boyfriend, that’ll clear up that whole “lesbian” thing.  I’ll even volunteer!  It’d be way better than ending up with that creepy Mathlete guy!  I didn’t like her gay friend, Daniel Franzese, at first, but the second he called that short girl Danny DeVito, I was in.  Amy Poehler was consistently hilarious as the mom that won’t let go of her youth.  The best thing she did was when she was in the audience, dancing along with her daughter and the other Plastics in their overly-sexy “Jingle Bell Rock” dance.  That made me appreciate it double!  Ana Gasteyer made little to no impact on me as Cady’s mom, but they did give Neil Flynn a couple of funny parts, like when he had no idea that Cady wasn’t supposed to be allowed to leave when she was grounded.  Jonathan Bennett never really did much for me as the object of Cady’s desire.  He wasn’t really around much beyond something to look at, and he got on my nerves with how he reacted when Cady was drunkenly confessing things to him.  Why would you get all pissy that a girl was afraid to talk to you because it would make her friend angry?  That’s fairly normal.  I do understand getting a little upset when she throws up on you, though.  Of course, that’s kind of something you should expect when working with Lohan.

I think I’ve just about run out of Lindsay Lohan jokes.  Mean Girls was an enjoyable watch, and I feel like I enjoyed it much more on this viewing than I had on whichever viewing made me give it two and a half stars on Rotten Tomatoes.  Sure, it’s basic premise is one that is a little played out, and one I don’t usually find that enjoyable, but Tina Fey can make almost anything work.  There are a lot of very solid laughs in this movie, and pretty awesome performances to make those jokes work.  There’s also some good emotion to the movie, and it ends up with a nice message that we probably all expected from the start of the movie, but it’s still very enjoyable.  I rented the movie from Netflix, but it’s not available for streaming.  Next time I want to watch it, I will feel comfortable just going out and purchasing it.  Mean Girls gets “I like this movie like Lindsay Lohan loves heroin” out of “I can’t help it that I’m so popular.”

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

Parks and Recreation: Season One (2009)


I’ll Give You Two More Seasons, But Then I’m Out

I just realized recently that I had only done one TV show review. And, since I just recently cancelled my cable TV service, I figured this was the best time to do another one. This TV was one I had heard a lot about and only finally decided to try watching because I found it on Netflix streaming and I just finished catching up on 30 Rock. So I decided to watch a very similar show, Parks and Recreation, starring Amy Poehler, Rashida Jones, Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza, Paul Schneider, and Chris Pratt.

There’s not a lot of summarizing to do here. The whole premise of season one is that Amy Poehler is the head of a Parks and Recreation committee and Rashida Jones is an angry resident of a neighborhood where there is an empty lot with a deep pit in the ground that her boyfriend, Chris Pratt, fell in and broke his legs. Poehler decides that they should build a park on that lot and the rest of season one is basically about that. In episode two, they go around asking people in the neighborhood if they want the park. Most say “no”. In episode three, Poehler gets interviewed by a reporter about it. In episode three, Poehler gets in trouble because she was drinking with some guys from the office on the lot and underage Aubrey Plaza posted a video on the internet of her drinking. In episode five, Poehler goes to a banquet honoring her mother. And in the last episode, episode six, they go to a rock show of Chris Pratt’s band after his leg casts come off. The park has not yet been built.

I went into this show really wanting to like it. I like Amy Poehler a lot from Upright Citizens Brigade, Baby Mama, and SNL. I like Aubrey Plaza from what little I know about her, mainly from Scott Pilgrim. A lot of people like Aziz Ansari. And a lot of people also like this show. But I just didn’t find myself liking this show that much, at least not from the first season. I’m still giving it a shot with season two because sometimes it takes shows a little while to become awesome, but I’m not talking about later seasons yet since I haven’t watched them. But this show seems to be a lot like a midway point between the Office and 30 Rock, two shows that I really like. 30 Rock had a bit of a shaky start, but I’m pretty sure I was into it by episode 2 or 3. The Office also had a longer shaky start, mainly because they were so concerned with staying a lot around the British version until they decided to make the show their own. But this show shares the same style as the Office of having it be like a documentary film crew is watching the people of this building and they have a boss that means well but is kind of stupid and doesn’t have very good people skills. Liz Lemon from 30 Rock is smarter than the other two bosses, but definitely has people problems. I think what this one lacks is the strong supporting cast that the Office and 30 Rock has, or at least the storylines to allow them to shine. The Office has Pam, Jim, and Dwight to back up Michael Scott. 30 Rock has Jack, Jenna, Tracy, Kenneth, Frank, Toofer, and Cerie in Liz’s corner. Parks mainly focuses on Poehler and Rashida Jones.

Sadly, I didn’t laugh at all in these six episodes. I wanted to like it so bad and it bummed me out that nothing did anything for me here. I like Amy Poehler and Rashida Jones so much but there weren’t any good jokes in season one. Rashida’s boyfriend in this, Chris Pratt, was a pretty typical douchey boyfriend, just like Pam’s boyfriend in the Office. I have never really liked Aziz Ansari either. The persona he takes in the movies and TV shows I’ve seen him in just annoys me. And, since I’ve never seen him in a different role, I’ll stick to that. Aubrey Plaza didn’t have much of a part in the show yet, so not much to say there. Nick Offerman was an entertaining character that will hopefully get better as time goes on.

I don’t have very much to say about this show and that bums me out. I wanted to like it so much but I didn’t find it funny and nothing really impressed me yet. Again, that may just be something they’ll overcome as time goes on, so we’ll see about that when I finish season two. I just think it reminds me too much of two shows I like much more and that may have hurt this show. But I feel like it does have potential, so I’m still watching. So, I’ll give this show “I had hoped for more” out of “I may need more practice reviewing TV shows”.

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!

Baby Mama (2008)


Consider them banged!

This movie review came up as a request, apparently to settle an argument between Cody and a friend of his about whether or not this particular movie was any good.  And I know I can stay nice and unbiased because I have no idea which one liked it and which didn’t, so I cannot sway my opinion to match my friend’s.  And that’s something I would totally do, as you may have seen in my Top Gun review.  Anyways, this movie is Baby Mama, starring Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Greg Kinnear, Dax Shepard, Romany Malco, Signourney Weaver, Maura Tierney, with smaller appearances by Steve Martin, John Hodgman, Will Forte, and Fred Armisen.

Tina Fey plays Kate Holbrook, a woman who has newly become interested in having a baby because she can hear that biological clock ticking … inside her vagina.  She’s apparently unable to have one because of the shape of her uterus, so she goes to see Chaffee Bicknell (Sigourney Weaver) about having a surrogate.  The surrogate she chooses is Angie Ostrowiski (Amy Poehler), an immature aspiring fashion designer.  Angie becomes preggers and soon has a falling out with her crazy hillbilly boyfriend Carl (Dax Shepard).  Misunderstanding the situation of how a surrogate works, she decides she needs to come live with Kate, who begrudgingly takes her in.  They quickly become the Odd Couple (from what I understand from the 5 minutes of it I watched as my roommate watched the Odd Couple), but also became friends.  Carl buts back in to the situation to confront Angie about getting his half of the money because it turns out they lied and Angie is not actually pregnant.

Here is the moment Cody had been waiting for.  My diagnosis of Baby Mama is: it’s good.  I think it’s very funny at times with a decent story and great performers and is an all around good time.  It’s not the perfect comedy, but I think it’s funny.  Let’s get into my reasoning.

As for the story, it’s solid but perhaps a little bit typical, and perhaps a little more chick flicky than I’d prefer.  It’s roughly the same as Date Night was to me, but better than Date Night.  I thought Date Night was not a funny movie, but had a good couple really funny spots to it.  Similar to Baby Mama in that the story just is what it is, but with a greater percentage of funny.  And it’s to be expected when you put 2 awesome funny people at the helm of the movie.  I’ve been a fan of Poehler a lot longer than of Fey, and though Fey has probably taken the lead with 30 Rock, Poehler got me first with the Upright Citizen’s Brigade.  I love them both and expect a lot of funny from them both.  It did, however, seem like the funnier parts were probably improvised, but that’s also to be expected since both women come from improv backgrounds.  Probably the funniest part in the movie was when Amy Poehler was about to pop out the baby and the things she was doing as they took her down the hospital hall.  Parts were a little unbelievable, mainly the part where the guy runs off when Tina Fey confesses she wants a baby on the first date.  I would give Tina Fey SUCH the baby if she asked.  I’d even stick around and raise the thing if she wanted.  Either way, I’m down.  And the ending was a little too precious for me and involved everyone living happily ever after.  Not enough of a complaint to make me dislike the movie though.

As I indicated in the last paragraph, the performances of the movie are what makes it work.  Another cast with the same story and it may not have worked.  I’ve already confessed my love and desire to produce a baby for both Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, but there were other parts of the cast worth mentioning.  Dax Shepard stands out with a great comedic performance in this.  He’s completely stupid, so much so that you hope such a person doesn’t exist in real life, but he sure is entertaining to watch.  Almost everything out of his mouth is funny.  This is a quality shared by the doorman of Kate, Romany Malco.  He’s pretty much solid comedy too, but has a few heart-to-heart moments with Amy that are also nice.  I’ve never been a real big fan of Steve Martin, but he’s pretty good in small doses in this movie.  Sigourney Weaver and Greg Kinnear also perform their parts well, but are not heavy on the laughs.

Nothing really negative to say about this movie from me.  It’s a solid comedy with more than a few good laughs in it and a great cast.  The story isn’t mind blowing or anything, but I think it’ll entertain you.  I give this movie “Can I just spray some Pam down there?” out of “Bitch, I don’t know your life!”

And, as always, please rate, comment, and/or like this post and others.  It may help me get better.