Movie Review: G Force

M: I have to start this review with some background information.  When I first heard that Disney was going to be making a kids movie called “G Force” I got really excited.  See, when I was growing up there was a fantastic cartoon called “Battle of the Planets” that E and I watched every day like clockwork (C wasn’t born yet, or she would have, too).  The main characters of the show were a group of five heroes that formed a team called G-Force (or as our dad called them, mimicking a particularly memorable scene from one episode, G-Fork).  To say that we loved the show wouldn’t even begin to cover our feelings for it.  It was the first thing other than Sesame Street that we watched with regularity, and that created a real bond in our developing minds.  We thought that Battle of the Planets was the greatest thing since sliced bread, heck, we thought it was greater than sliced bread, and as my baloney-and-cheese obsessed sister can tell you, we’re pretty big fans of sliced bread.

So when I found out that this new G Force was not, in fact, a 21st century movie version of our beloved childhood show, I was deeply disappointed.  When I found out that it was CGI guinea pigs in 3-D, well, lets just say that I had my doubts.

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Half-Blood Prince Roundtable

Ahoy, C here! M, E and I went to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince together the other night (their first viewing, my second) and since most people have had time to see the movie by now, we thought it would be fun to share our reactions and opinions in roundtable format.

So grab a butterbeer and a comfortable chair, and settle in for a new edition of The Quibbler! (We won’t be on guard for spoilers, so read at your own risk.)

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Can’t Call it Cheating if it Reminds Me of You

E here. I’d planned on posting about something completely different (an update review of Warehouse 13, as it happens) but last week’s So You Think You Can Dance presented a peculiar issue that I wanted to put out there.

Ask anyone who watches the show, and they’ll all tell you one thing: how much they cried after Melissa and Ade’s contemporary routine about breast cancer. My brother’s already told you, actually. It hardly needs to be noted that I cried. Melissa threw so much emotion into her performance that she had tears in her eyes when it ended. The routine – choreographed by “Broadway” guy Tyce Diorio as a response to a friend’s battle – had the judges awash with tears, even the stalwart Englishman and executive producer Mr Nigel Lithgoe. The judges have clearly had first hand experience with immediate family members and cancer: Mia “I love to cut [dancers from the competition]” Michaels couldn’t restrain herself, which made me sob all the harder the way watching a stoic break down always does . Ellen Degeneres’ mother is a breast cancer survivor. We could see the tracks of tears in Mary Murphy’s make up. As I sniffled, and the judges stuttered praise out between steadying breaths, my husband froze the dvr and turned to me.

“Now, I’m not saying it wasn’t a great routine, and that it isn’t a fantastic idea, but if he didn’t tell you it was about breast cancer, would you have known? Would anyone be crying right now? I feel like that’s manipulative – like it’s kind of cheating to just saying, here’s a dance about this really sad thing and then everyone cries.”

And, okay, sure, he has a point. Tanner Stransky, writing Entertainment Weekly’s recap, had the same idea. No one sheds a tear because of Brandon and the egregiously eliminated Janette’s perfect Argentine tango; it’s just not that kind of thing. Earlier in the season, there was (I’m not kidding) a waltz about dancer Vitolio’s orphan childhood. Even Mia’s piece about addiction – which was fantastic – failed to elicit this level of response. Gosh, all you have to do is look at the comments on the links my brother posted; some people were deeply moved and some other people were really rude about not having been. It’s hard to forget the great Kate Winslet snarking on Ricky Gervais’ satirical show Extras about how she needed to do a Holocaust movie to finally get her richly deserved Oscar – mostly because she finally did do the Holocaust movie which finally won her that Oscar. And the point is, some subjects will always get attention, because they are Serious with a capital S. The Holocaust is Serious. Cancer is Serious. I’m not belittling those subjects by saying this; as M noted, its hard to look around us and not see friends and family members profoundly affected by cancer. My brother-in-law has been fighting it for years. We know so many who have lost that fight; our beloved grandmother, the friend M spoke of, and the parents of so many friends. Even my four year old has a friend who lost her mother to cancer. And perhaps that’s why it’s repugnant to imagine someone using a subject so devastating to get a easy reaction. In a very strange way, it could be seen as a comedian going for the cheap laugh with a dirty joke. Or at least, that’s the problem.

So this is my question to you, gentle readers. Continue reading

So You Think…

M: My wife and I were watching this week’s episode of So You Think You Can Dance (or, in my translation of the theme music, Ba-da-ba-ba…summa-numma-numma-DANCE!).  I enjoy the show, probably as much for the comedic value as I do for watching the actual dancing, which is often times really cool, and other times REALLY odd and displayes the enormous egos of the choreographers.  Plus, as E said in her post about it, Cat Deeley is fantastic as a host, she is everything that Dancing With The Stars’ Samantha Harris is not, though Harris is entertaining in a train wreck, can’t avert your eyes kind of way.

Watching this week’s episode, and one performance in particular, however, was very, very different than my usual viewing experience with the show.  In this piece, dancers Melissa and Ada performed a dance choreographed by Tyce Diorio as a tribute to a friend of his who is battling breast cancer.  The performance was one of those moments that is simply perfect, capturing exactly what it intended to, and taking a show to a level far beyond any expectation.  It brought the choreographer, dancers, judges, the audience, my wife, and even me to tears.  At this point in time it is difficult to not have someone close to you who is impacted by cancer, and I was watching it having just come home from seeing a friend who has recently lost his wife, the mother of his four children, to cancer.  The timing for my tear ducts couldn’t have been worse, but the timing for the impact of the piece was perfect, as His timing always is.

There are many reasons why we watch TV and movies, read books, and listen to music.  They entertain us, make us laugh, take us to magical places in our imagination, make us forget about things…  and sometimes make us remember.  They can touch our emotions in ways that at times they need to be touched.

Here are the links to the dance and reactions.  I dare you not to cry.

Meet Harry Potter

C: It occurred to me that some of our readers might find this enjoyable or useful.  My roommate came to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince but had never seen any of the previous movies.  She asked me to catch her up on the essential plot points and characters, so I created this little guide with visuals. (Spoilers for 1-5, obviously.)

Harry Potter: The Illustrated Cliff Notes, Page 1

Harry Potter: The Illustrated Cliff Notes, Page 2

O Canada

In case you weren’t aware, I am not Canadian.  By the transitive property, obviously, neither E nor C are Canadian either.  Canada is neither our home, nor our native land, and none of us stand on guard for her.  Now, I do have an affinity for the tune that Calixa Lavallee wrote back in 1880 (I had to look this up) because it also serves as the music for the Alma Mater for, well, my Alma Mater, but hat’s neither here nor there.  I bet you’re wondering what this has to do with anything.  Well, as someone who is not Canadian, doesn’t and has never lived in Canada, I don’t watch very much Canadian TV.

I am a big Bob and Doug McKenzie fan, and back when I was in college I saw a handful of Canadian commercials, and they were a fantastic source of unintentional comedy.  At that time was also my main foray into Canadian TV when CBS, before they lured Letterman over from NBC (yes, I’m dating myself, I know!), was marketing their cheesy late-night line-up as “Crime Time After Prime Time.”  My friends and I religiously watched the atrociously watchable Silk Stalkings, but more relevantly, we fairly regularly watched Forever Knight, which was both made and set in Canadian, specifically in Toronto.

Since then I’ve seen plenty of shows that filmed in Canada, like The X-Files, and watched plenty of Canadian stars, like Lost‘s Evangeline Lilly.  What I hadn’t seen was another show that was legitimately Canadian, actually produced, filmed and set in Canada… until now.  This summer NBC decided to air the CTV show “The Listener.”

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