Month: April 2014

Zany Miscellany

Over the past month I’ve watched a number of films and TV shows that didn’t really light my creative flame. A few brief thoughts about each of them:

GHOSTBUSTERS 2 (1989)

I remember going to see this one at my home town’s little movie theater because I got some kind of “perfect attendance” award at school.

Watching it now, it doesn’t measure up to the original Ghostbusters (1984) at all. The scene that baffles me is when they detect intense spirit activity beneath a certain street. They decide to investigate – by dressing up as construction workers, jackhammering through the street, and lowering Dan Aykroyd into the sewers on a winch. Was that the most efficient plan they could come up with? Where’d they get the equipment? Where’d they get the costumes? Did they think nobody would notice?

TUCKER AND DALE VS. EVIL (2010)

This is sort of The Man Who Knew Too Little of horror movies – a couple of well-intentioned mountain folk are on vacation at a remote cabin, and a bunch of college kids get slaughtered in a series of hilarious-yet-deadly misunderstandings. One of the hillbillies tries to explain it to a suspicious police officer: “There we were minding our own business, just doing chores around the house, when kids started… killing themselves all over my property!”

The horror genre (and slasher films in particular) has been deconstructed and parodied endlessly. It would almost be shocking to see one that doesn’t wink at the audience the whole time. The next revolution in horror movies may be making movies that are actually scary again.

SCANDAL (2012)

My main takeaway from the first episode of this series is that Olivia Pope is tough. Like, really tough. She’s a no-nonsense working lady. She has to carry her balls in a wheelbarrow. She out-maneuvers Russian mobsters. She brushes her teeth with a grill brush. She solves murders. She drinks ipecac straight with no chaser. She tells the President to wait for her.  She created Napster and bitcoin and knows what really happened to Flight 370.

I had to object to one scene, though. When Olivia confronts the President about lying to her, he does the slow “I’m going to kiss you” approach, backing her into a corner (insert requisite Bill Clinton reference). She says, “Do not touch me. Don’t touch me. Please don’t…” He touches her. Then they breathe heavily into each others faces for a few seconds and kiss. Then she tries to get away and he does it again. I know that, as viewers, we’re supposed to find this “hot” and “seductive,” but to me it seemed… how should I say it?… rape-y. In the extreme, actually.

Again, I know that, as viewers, we’re supposed to think, “Oh, well, she’s saying not to touch her, but secretly she’s attracted to him and wants him to.” That’s obviously what the President thinks. So it’s okay to force yourself on someone if you’re convinced they secretly mean the opposite of what they say. It seemed like a pretty murky message for a show with such a strong female lead.

MONSTERS (2010)

When I turn on a movie called “Monsters” that purports to be about two people lost in an area swarming with giant alien monsters, there are a number of things I don’t want to have happen. I don’t want there to be a lot of shaky camera-work that makes it hard to tell what’s happening. I don’t want there to be some cheesy message about how people are the “real” monsters. I don’t want to go through 45 minutes of the movie without seeing any monsters. I don’t want to see only a couple blurry shots of the cheap CGI monsters until the very end. I don’t want there to be interminable scenes where the lead characters talk about anything BUT the monsters. I don’t want the lead characters to die at the end, making all that development pointless.

Monsters does all these things. Do not see Monsters.

ROOM 237 (2012)

This was supposedly a documentary about the “meaning” of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (which was based on a book by Stephen King [which pretty plainly reveals the meaning of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining]).

One guy claims it was about the slaughter of the Indians. His proof: there is a picture of an Indian in the hotel. Another guy thinks that secret information will be revealed by playing the movie forward while superimposing the movie playing backward on top of it. A female critic… I don’t know, she shows off some maps she made of the hotel and thinks that a certain window couldn’t have been where the movie shows it to be. But the craziest one of all is the guy who not only thinks that Kubrick helped the U.S. government fake the moon landing, but that the movie is his hidden commentary on the inner turmoil he experienced in keeping this fact a secret from his wife. My only regret (other than watching this film) is that I was not high while watching this film.

There is a guy named Geoffery Cocks in it. Yes, I laughed.

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DEREK – 4/21/14

Watching a series like Derek gives you a brief, cruel burst of hope for mankind – brief because there are only seven episodes, and cruel because you realize that people like this just don’t exist.

The show focuses on the employees at an under-funded nursing home: the kind-hearted and innocent Derek (Ricky Gervais), hard-working manager Hannah (Kerry Godliman), cynical caretaker Dougie (Karl Pilkington), and perverted slacker Kev (David Earl). We see how, together, they care for the (impossibly good-natured) elderly residents and interact with the (mostly callous and craven) folk who populate the outside world. It’s sort of an English Forrest Gump, but the characters are even more difficult to understand.

Filmed in a “mockumentary” style similar to Gervais’s The Office, Derek provides some decent laughs but also a surprising number of heartfelt moments. It’s not afraid to drop the comedy altogether; there are solid stretches of the show that are heart-wrenchingly sad. I got hooked from the first episode and watched the rest over the course of a weekend. That doesn’t happen very often.

The more I thought about it, though, the more I had to object to the central premise of the series. “It’s more important to be kind than clever or good-looking,” Derek remarks in the first episode, and as the series progresses more and more characters are won over by his simple commitment to being nice to everyone.

Unfortunately, this just wouldn’t work. It may not be the stuff of which great sit-coms are made, but Scrooge McDuck gave us a much more accurate quote in Mickey’s Christmas Carol: “Kindness is of little use in this world.” It’s sad but true: if your plan for success in life is to be a nice, kind person, the world is going to treat you like a gas station bathroom. Think about it: if kindness was a recipe for success, everyone would be doing it. But look around you. Doesn’t seem like it’s catching on, does it? The complete opposite, however, is true: the richest and most successful people are almost uniformly the most loathsome human scum you can find. And it’s directly proportional: the higher up the person is, chances are they had to be an even bigger bastard to get there.

“But being nice means you’ll make a lot of friends,” you say. Maybe… but think back to your years in school. The kids who were the “jerks” always seemed to have people to sit with at lunch anyway, didn’t they? Of course they did! They usually had more friends than anyone else. One of the (many) mistakes I made at school was trying to be nice to everyone. This is the equivalent of spinning Elmer Fudd’s shotgun toward yourself and yelling, “Duck season, shoot!” Don’t think it’ll help you with the opposite sex, either. Ray Rice beat up his fiancée and dragged her, unconscious, out of an elevator – a month before they got married. Nice guy.

“You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,” you say. False. Try calling customer service somewhere and see how much satisfaction you receive from being nice. Then listen to someone who calls and absolutely rips the customer service person a new one – who gets what they wanted faster? Don’t think that things will change as you grow up, either. Have you ever noticed that it’s always the kindest, nicest people who run things at the office? Exactly – I haven’t either. In my first professional job out of college, I decided that I’d succeed if I was as kind and helpful to everyone else as possible. I was marked down on my review because I tried to help people too much. I was told that if someone asked me for help, I was supposed to say, “No. Ask someone else.” I got paid less because of this. No joke.

Derek starts out sweet. It’s got a feel-good message that makes you want to run out and hug people, brightening their lives and reveling in the recognition that naturally springs from the doing of good deeds. But after it’s over, Derek makes you sad, because the world simply doesn’t work that way.

No matter how much you wish it did.

THE AVENGERS – 4/14/14

2012

Alright, so… where do we go from here?

This movie is 143 minutes long (counting the 6-minute end credits). That’s almost as long as There Will Be Blood. Does the story of The Avengers really need that long to be told? Exactly four things happen in this movie: the bad guy shows up and steals a doomsday device, the good guys assemble their team, they capture the bad guy but he escapes, he turns on the device and the aliens from Halo attack New York City.

Mixed in there we’ve got an aircraft carrier that both flies and turns invisible, we’ve got Iron Man fighting Thor, we’ve got Thor fighting the Incredible Hulk, we’ve got giant flying alien monsters, and we’ve got long, LONG talking scenes that “develop” characters who have all already had at least one movie completely to themselves.

My eyes hurt and my brain feels like it’s ready to ooze down into my jaw. These superhero movies have become so big, so bloated, so overblown in scope and self-reverence, that they literally numb the senses. By the end, the sight of a gigantic space monster’s fin gouging a big hole in a building was actually dull. That sight – a wonder, a marvel produced by movie-making technology it took over half a century to develop – was boring. Seeing said monster crash into Grand Central Station and die was routine. I kept checking the time – “Still 45 minutes left?” – and wondering why I had to see yet another scene where a guy punches another guy through a wall.

The plot sloughs from one city-crushing CGI battle to another with tedious inevitability. Will Tony Stark get hit in the balls and utter a wry quip that belies his physical pain? Will the Hulk do something incongruously zany to lighten the mood? Will we get slow-motion shots of stuff exploding and people running away? We sure will! And I hope you liked them, because you’ll be seeing them again. And again.

There is no unifying style, no “look.” Everything is slick and shiny and cold. Colors that should be bright – Captain America’s shield, Iron Man’s armor, Hulk’s skin – are dulled and grimy-looking. When you turn on one of the Tim Burton Batman movies, you know it’s a Batman movie. You see the urban decay, the almost liquid shadows, the flashy, twisted outfits of the villains. Watching these modern superhero movies, they could be anything. Loki and Thor might have wandered out of Lord of the Rings; Black Widow looks like a Bourne escapee.

When Superman came out in 1978, its tag line was “You’ll believe a man can fly.”  There was a genuine wide-eyed sense of awe at seeing a comic book superhero brought to life on the big screen. Now we can see a man not only fly, but intercept a nuclear missile in mid-flight, take it through a space portal, use it to blow up an alien mother ship, and fall back to Earth without batting an eye.

What happened to us?

8 Movie Cliches I’m Really Tired Of That Appeared In The Avengers

  1. Samuel L. Jackson. Can he not be in every movie playing the cool, intense guy who shouts a lot? Thanks.
  2. People saying “With me,” and having other people fall into line behind them as they stride purposefully down a hallway.
  3. People saying “Talk to me,” when they need information in a tense moment. What next, will someone say, “In English, please,” when they don’t “get” technical jargon? (Someone does)
  4. Asian scientists. Come on.
  5. English-sounding bad guy. Loki is a Norse god. Why does he speak with an English accent?
  6. Bad guy intentionally letting himself get captured as part of a ludicrously complex scheme. Unfortunately it seems like every bad guy is going to do this after The Dark Knight. See also: Skyfall.
  7. Bad guy in a cell playing mind games with the people who come to visit him. Haven’t we seen enough of this one? I kept expecting Loki to ask the Black Widow about the lambs she had as a child.
  8. The speech at the end where people talk about how the heroes will always be there for them.

FROZEN – 4/5/14

2013 – Oscars for Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Song

Wow! I was finally going to be able to watch Frozen, the first Disney movie to NOT look and sound horrible in 20 years! Being unshakably confident in my own heterosexuality, I decided to use a Saturday afternoon to give this thing a spin and see if the film itself was worthy of so much praise.

I want to point out that, before I even get to a DVD menu, I’m asked whether I want to view everything in English, English Descriptive Video Service, Francais or Espanol. Then the “Disney castle intro” plays. THEN it tells me my DVD will be using FAST PLAY. FAST PLAY means that the movie will automatically start unless I hit the “Menu” button. There are three movie previews, and they all seem dreadful. Then, at last, I see a screen telling me that this is a Disney DVD and that the movie I’m watching is Frozen. This can all be skipped by hitting “Menu,” of course, but why should we be forced to opt OUT of the avaricious advertising pitch? Either way, I have to sit through the “Disney castle intro” AGAIN. I just want to watch the movie. I want to put a DVD in and watch the movie that’s on the cover. Is that so wrong?

One of my main takeaways is that the Kingdom of Arendelle is not destined to become a great European power. The King and Queen die in a storm at sea, and their country is left in the hands of a never-identified regent for three years until their neurotic mutant daughter Elsa can take the throne. She then plunges everything into eternal winter and brings international trade to a standstill by freezing in the country’s (apparently) only inhabited town. Its only exports appear to be clothing and ice, and its only trading partners are Spain, Germany, Ireland and a fictional nation of suspiciously English-seeming greedy merchants.

The other is that, while this is a children’s film – and a very entertaining one – on the surface, there are some extremely disturbing undertones to it. While the King and Queen may appear to be kind, loving parents at first, it’s very telling that neither of their children make a single reference to them after their untimely deaths. No “I wish Mom and Dad were here.” No “I miss Mom.” Nothing. It makes you wonder what exactly was going on behind the closed doors of the castle for all those years… and why Elsa really has such an irrational fear of being touched by another human being. “Conceal it, don’t feel it. Don’t let it show” begins to take on a somewhat more menacing tone.

Of particular note is Anna, who we are supposed to accept as the goofy, awkward, spunky heroine of the film. We’re apparently expected to forget that she single-handedly causes every major crisis in the movie: In the beginning she gets carried away while playing, ignoring her sister’s increasingly frantic pleas to slow down. She becomes engaged to a foreign prince the same day she meets him. She causes a scene at her sister’s coronation ball and, when Elsa flees in panic, shouts “I’m leaving Prince Hans in charge” (of the entire country!) before riding off, alone, in pursuit. She talks to her horse. There’s a scene where she paces to and fro in the background, endlessly muttering to herself. She relentlessly hounds her sister despite Elsa repeatedly asking to be left alone and showing increasingly drastic signs of distress. Sympathizing with her is like feeling bad for a kid who throws rocks at a bees’ nest.

In addition to all this, it’s worth noting that the “act of true love” required to unfreeze Anna’s heart is not someone else showing true love for her. Everyone makes immense sacrifices to protect, save, and help her. Elsa isolates herself from her only playmate and lives a life of tragic loneliness; Kristoff loses the sled that is the basis for his entire income; Olaf risks his own life to drag her close to a warming fire; Sven the reindeer nearly drowns while galloping across the crumbling bay. The fact that she actually gives of herself to help someone else – an “act of true love” that she had apparently never made before – is what finally saves her. It’s disturbing to think that Anna – selfish, solipsistic Anna – is the “princess” that young girls may most identify with.

Also, I hate to say this, but that reindeer would have been long dead by the time everyone is grown up.

GRABBERS – 4/3/14

2012 – Irish comedy/horror film

Almost every day, I mourn the deaths of the grand old video rental stores. In my high school and college years, my friends and I spent so many happy Saturdays searching for the lowest, most overlooked new releases. There were amazing gems buried there – movies like Mammoth (an alien re-animates a woolly mammoth found in a block of ice), Caw (killer crows attack people) and Beneath Loch Ness (pretty much what it sounds like). When Blockbuster opened in my home town, it killed off West Coast Video. Then Netflix and Redbox came along and killed Blockbuster. I had just gotten a new membership card, too. Damn shame.

So you’ll understand that I was almost drowned, Philippines villager-style, by a typhoon of nostalgia when I visited the Netflix Sci-Fi section and discovered this little treasure: “Residents of an Irish town must get very drunk to survive attacks by alien monsters.” Not just drunk – very drunk. This was a slam-dunk for an evening of entertainment, so I grabbed my old netbook and decided to record my live reactions to the oddly-named Grabbers (I thought the title was actually Crabbers until I squinted).

  • In the prologue, three fool Irishmen are out on a fishing boat. They see a green meteor crash into the sea and think it’s “a distress flair.”
  • “Do ye see anythin’?” “No… OH JAAAAAYSUS CHRIIIIII-” and we have our first victim.
  • We get another “Jaysus!” when the ship captain gets killed, making us two-for-two on sacrilegious death screams. The last remaining crewman yells, “Skipper! DAAAAD!” What? If the captain was really his dad, why did he yell “Skipper” first?
  • A cute young female cop meets a rough-around-the-edges drunk cop when she arrives for a brief stint of duty on Erin Island. He tells her to put her stuff “in the boot” of his car. If they call the trunk “the boot,” what do they call boots?
  • The Chief, who is leaving on a vacation, notes that most of the population is leaving for vacations of their own this weekend and that “the whole town will be dead.” Ha! Foreshadowing! The drunk cop asks the girl cop if she wants milk, and she asks what kind, and he replies, “Cow’s.” I can’t tell if he’s supposed to be funny or just an asshole.
  • Next we meet the town’s douche-y marine ecologist who just screams that he’s not going to survive the movie. He flirts with the girl cop as they examine the bodies of dead whales that washed up. Some idiot brings a monster that he caught in a crab cage back to his house and puts it in the bathtub.
  • A guy finds some kind of egg on the beach, then gets dragged into the ocean and killed. His friend goes to look for him and disappears. Body count is at 5 Irishmen (so, zero real people).
  • People in this movie say “feck” instead of “fuck.” Does it still count as a swear word?
  • A guy is watching Night of the Living Dead, and we see he’s at the scene where the brother says, “They’re coming to get you, Barbara.” I swear I’ve seen that in a movie before. There’s a knock at the door, and the monster dangles the body of the guy from the beach as a “lure” (this monster is incredibly clever). The guy goes outside to investigate and gets killed. His wife tries to close all the doors, but is afraid the monster will come down the chimney (???) so she struggles to close it and gets sucked up and killed. Body count: 7.
  • Drunk cop awkwardly hits on girl cop. Then the guy with the monster in his bathtub comes home and the monster (which looks like a big mass of blue tentacles) attacks him. He throws it onto the floor and stomps it, presumably to death. I have to say, I’m not blown away by this monster so far.
  • Bathtub guy brings the dead (?) monster to the douche-y marine ecologist and suggests they call it a “grabber.” Then he asks if they can “sell it on the e-Bay.” Please, kill this guy quickly. I also note that the dead (?) monster on the table is about one sixth the size it was in the bathroom scene.
  • Drunk cop says “I watch a lot of Columbo” to explain why he gets hunches. I love this.
  • We’re a half hour in and I can’t believe there’s still an hour more to go. Drunk obviously checks out Girl as she goes up a ladder.
  • OKAY. Get this: she climbs onto the roof of the house where the two people got killed. She finds something that looks like a tied-together string of bedsheets leading into the chimney. When she pulls on it, the head of the dead guy tumbles down and smacks Drunk in the face. Did the monster rig all that up just to scare them?
  • The gang (Drunk, Girl and Bathtub) try to find the monster’s lair and get attacked by an enormous one. They call the Irish Coast Guard, who won’t believe them because the Drunk is, well, a drunk.
  • Returning to the lab, the dead (?) monster comes back to life and attacks them. Douche grabs a chair, Girl grabs a knife, and Drunk, feeling inadequate, rolls up a newspaper. That’s kinda funny. The monster attacks the Drunk, but is weakened because he’s had a lot to drink and the monsters are, apparently, allergic to alcohol. So the Netflix summary gives away a key plot twist not revealed until 45 minutes into the movie. We get a monster POV shot of everyone stomping on it, which is lifted straight from Shaun of the Dead (2004).
  • I just managed to figure out that Girl’s name is Lisa and Drunk’s name is O’Shea. They talk about how she’s never been drunk before, but it kinda sounds like they’re talking about sex. Awkward.
  • “We’ll ‘ave to do shots. Probably tear the arse outta ye.” Best line in the movie. They go to the church and try to lure everybody to the pub to have a massive party. Nobody wants to come until they say it’ll be a free bar. Then even the priest decides to join! Typical Irish.
  • In another Shaun moment, it’s obvious that they’re going to be besieged in the pub by the monster(s). The main crew, consisting of Lisa, O’Shea, Douche, Bathtub, Barkeep and some other guy, assemble their weapons. Other Guy says he has “a nail gun… and a board, with a nail in it,” which is another good line.
  • “What are we gonna do with a pellet gun?” “Shoot pellets! …But. I don’t ‘ave any pellets.”
  • Lisa admits that she “fancies” O’Shea, but he turns her down because she’s really drunk, which is a classy moment. Other Guy goes outside to take a pee, which probably means he’s going to get killed. Dammit, I liked him. Kill Bathtub guy first!
  • There’s a touching moment where Lisa says, “I feel like I’ve known ye fer years.” We learn O’Shea drinks because his wife left him. Meanwhile, Other Guy is still pissing! He’s been pissing out there for four minutes! A bunch of tiny monster babies converge on him, but Lisa and O’Shea rescue him and we learn Other Guy’s name is “Jim.” But then the big monster turns up and eats Jim, spitting out his head to bring our “severed heads bounce around and hit the hero in the face” count to 2 and our body count to 8.
  • Bathtub’s actual name is Paddy, and Barkeep’s name is Brian. Douche, whose name is Smith, staggers outside drunkenly (the actor does a really bad job of acting drunk). Instead of eating him, the monster swats him into the ocean, where he presumably dies. Body count is at 9.
  • Since the monster needs blood and water to stay alive, they plan to somehow dry it out. However, they need “the drunkest person we’ve got” to try and lure it away. Of course it’s Lisa. She goes downstairs and fights a bunch of the little monsters – in another Shaun moment, the juke box turns on (this brings our Shaun of the Dead ripoffs to 3). She also sets the place on fire, which also happened in Shaun. Lisa and O’Shea drive off, and the monster follows them by rolling on its tentacles like a big tire.
  • The monster almost gets O’Shea at the construction site, but Lisa pins it with a bulldozer while calling it “the c-word,” which is sort of a jarring moment. They shoot a flare gun into some nearby oil barrels, incinerating the monster. Everyone else in the movie survives.
  • O’Shea and Lisa walk back to town, and she keeps offering him a celebratory drink, which seems odd because they just established that he’s an alcoholic. She decides to stay on the island and they kiss. I’m guessing one of the baby monsters survives, though, or there’s an egg left on the beach or something, leaving things open for a sequel. Lisa and O’Shea decide to adopt Jim’s dog. I don’t remember him having a dog earlier, or even being in the movie earlier, but if he was it was nice of the screenwriters to remember the dog.
  • Yep, sure enough, the incoming tide touches some hidden monster eggs and they start to hatch. Cue the credits.
  • According to the credits, O’Shea’s first name is “Ciaran.” Lisa’s last name is Nolan. Jim is actually “Dr. Gleeson.” Total Irish Body Count: 9. Severed Heads: 2. Shaun of the Dead Ripoff Moments: 4.

I was hoping this would be a “so bad it’s good” horror movie, but it’s actually a “comedy/horror” movie. It’s decently entertaining, but a tad long at an hour and a half. The acting is good (especially O’Shea and Lisa) and the effects are passable. All things considered, I’d rather watch this than The Pianist.

LOUIS C.K. on SNL – 3/29/14

At the end of what was possibly the most painful, awkward, aggressively unfunny hour of television I’ve ever seen, comedian Louis C.K. stood on live national television and asked us, his audience, to cheer for the collection of no-talent no-names that he described as the “great cast” of Saturday Night Live. He had the further audacity to ask us to applaud the writers, who had produced “a great show.”

I had to ask myself… what happened? Maybe somebody can help me out – is SNL still a comedy program? Or is it some kind of surreal anti-comedy where you laugh because you can’t believe someone thought this was funny enough to put on TV? Let me run a few names by you: Aidy Bryant. Taran Killiam. Beck Bennett. Mike O’Brien. Nasim Pedrad. No, they’re not the 3 – 11 shift at Applebee’s. These are the people I’m supposed to regard as the modern-day equals of such real-life comedy greats as Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi and Phil Hartman. Has popular culture really sunk this low into the putrid green-brown mass at the bottom of our society’s outhouse?

The first sketch was “Black Jeopardy,” and the biggest shock was seeing that Kenan Thompson is still on the show. Somebody please… get this man off of television forever. Anyway, it was funny (I assume) because Louis C.K. is a white guy.

Next up was a sketch I’ll call “Boss Baby,” because the “joke” was that the CEO of a large company has “the body of a baby.” That’s it. Who came up with that idea? Who actually sat there and pitched it to a room full of supposed comedy writers, and who else sat next to him and said, “You know what? That would be absolutely hilarious.” But it wasn’t even two of them – the majority of people in that room actually thought this boss baby sketch was better than some of the other ideas they came up with. Think about that.

“Weekend Update.” Yikes. I’m not sure I heard one laugh from the audience that wasn’t saturated with pity for the two stiffs sitting behind the desk. One thing I’ll say is that the girl was cute. I even liked the way her enormous front teeth made her vaguely resemble a human chinchilla. Don’t get me wrong, chinchillas are great pets and adorable little animals. A sort of chinchilla-looking girl could definitely hold a special place in my heart. In fact, I wouldn’t say it’s entirely out of the realm of possibility that, in some future world where human/chinchilla hybrid creatures are common, I might be tempted to sleep with one. And I might even fall in love with one. Yes. For after all, human DNA would course through her veins right alongside that of the chinchilla. I look forward to that world, a world where the new girl from Weekend Update has those huge chinchilla ears and a wacky chinchilla tail, and we take dust baths together three times a week to prevent fungal growth and fur rot.

In the next sketch, four women sing “Mr. Big Stuff” to Louie. I’m not sure what else to add. That’s what happens. Following that, we go to a doctor’s office where a bunch of people think they have Star Wars action figures stuck up their asses. It’s predicated on the notion that it becomes funnier with each additional person who thinks there’s a Star Wars action figure stuck up his or her ass.

Following that hilarity, Louie and a woman appear to be detectives having some kind of affair. There’s music playing in the background, they talk in stilted accents and blend words together (“pineapplejuice”). What on earth…? Was it a parody of something? If so, I have no idea what. Then we get to enjoy a sketch where there’s a lesbian police officer named Dyke and an overweight officer named Fats. That’s basically the joke. Finally, in the only sort of maybe nearly half-way somewhat amusing sketch, Louie begs his girlfriend to take him back and there’s a lot of odd wordplay. Louie is very obviously reading off the cue-cards.

What depressed me most about all this travesty was that Louis C.K. was involved. His stand-up is funny. His show is groundbreaking. He presents himself as the rational everyman, the guy who has seen too much of society’s garbage and won’t accept it anymore. He hates the traditional, he challenges convention. And yet he stood up there and asked us to applaud the miserable cast and hack writers who vomited pure dreck into our mouths for a full hour. For all his facade as the guy who hates phonies and calls out the shallowness of fame and stardom, he came across as a real stooge. I know it would have been hard and he wouldn’t have been invited back, but couldn’t he have at least given a little shrug and said, “Hey, I tried! Sorry folks.”

The whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth.