family guy

Blu-ray REVIEW: Family Guy – “It’s a Trap!” (2010)

FAMILY GUY – “It’s a Trap!” (2010 20th Century Fox)

First, they did Star Wars. Due to popular demand, they did Empire next.  And just as Jedi was the weakest of the original trilogy, so is Family Guy’s version.

The full 57 minute episode “It’s A Trap!”, available on its own for those who only like the Star Wars spoofs, follows the same concept as the first two.  Favourite Family Guy characters portray the legendary characters from Star Wars.  After two, though, the well seems rather dry.  Presumably running out of original characters, they peppered the cast with characters from both American Dad and The Cleveland Show.  Rollo Brown, Klaus the Fish and Roger the Alien are some of the characters making a Family Guy appearance in the Star Wars universe.

Still, it must have been awful dry in that well when they were writing this.

“It’s A Trap!” had moments that were as funny as any previous Family Guy Star Wars.  Then there were stretches that that were as dull and uninspired as Seth MacFarlane’s worst. It was very much a rocky ride, but luckily the good outweighed the bad in this episode.

Likes:

  • As always, the surprise of what characters are playing who (which I won’t spoil, google it if you must know).
  • Many celebrity cameos (again I won’t give you spoilers).
  • The Emperor rocked.
  • Looked awesome in 1080p.
  • Ample bonus features (similar to previous instalments). Even the Trivial Pursuit challenge was fun for one viewing.

Dislikes:

  • Boring Yoda.
  • One scene where Peter/Han snaps and torments three Imperial officers…just took it too far.
  • MacFarlane likes jokes that go on too long, but they didn’t work this time.

Pick it up and complete your trilogy.

Or, you know, just watch it on Netflix.

3/5 stars

And, no — there is next to a 0% chance that Disney will let Seth do any more Star Wars.

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Blu-ray REVIEW: Ted 2 (2015)

TED 2 (2015 Universal)

Directed by Seth McFarlane

What happens when you let a bunch of now-grown Star Trek nerds from the 80’s make a movie? Apparently, they make Ted.  If you let ’em do it twice, you get Ted 2.

I really don’t know how this works, but Ted 2 provides ample proof of its own Trek-nerdiness.  Forget the fact that the climax takes place at New York Comic-Con.  Do you realize how many Trek actors appear in Ted 2?

  • Patrick Stewart (Jean-Luc Picard), as he was in the first Ted, is the narrator.  (Don’t forget he is also currently CIA Deputy Director Bulloch on Seth McFarlane’s American Dad! )
  • Nana Visitor, better known as Major Kira Nerys on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, is an underrated performer with a good role here.  She still looks amazing.
  • LeVar Burton (Geordie LaForge) appears in a brief clip from Roots as Kunta Kinte, but I’m still counting it.
  • Pushing it here, but Ron Canada (from Canada!), who plays the judge in Ted 2, did guest shots on three different Star Trek series.
  • Best of all is Michael Dorn (Lt. Worf) as Rick; gay lover to Patrick Warburton’s Guy.  Took me a while to pick up on the fact that it was Michael Dorn.  Only when he showed up in uniform at Comic-Con did it sink in!
Dorn and Warburton as...well, you know who.

Dorn and Warburton as…well, you know who.

So: McFarlane likes Star Trek.  That’s obvious.  He likes a lot of stuff, and Ted 2 is less a story than a running series of references to other movies.  From Jurassic Park to the cheesy ending to Contact, these characters walk and talk quoting movies all the friggin’ time.  It’s all they do!  One thing you will see and hear less of going forward:  Star Wars in any McFarlane production.  According to the audio commentary, the friendly relationship that Seth used to have with Lucasfilm has vanished since they were sold, and Disney have made it pretty clear that further collaborations will not be happening.  So you can kiss the idea of a Family Guy: The Force Awakens goodbye.

Unfortunately, characters that quote stuff is as deep as it gets.  Mark Wahlberg’s Johnny has divorced Mila Kunis, because she was trying to change him too much.  Well, yeah…that was the whole plot of Ted 1.  Wahlberg wanted to grow up and marry Mila.  Now he decides that’s actually not what he wanted, after fighting for it so hard in the first movie.  In Ted 2, we see Marky Mark hanging around with Ted a lot, and we see him getting into plenty of hijacks, but Mark Wahlberg is little more than a non-character sidekick in this one.  Ted is Ted; a foul-mouthed Peter Griffin who gets away with it by being a teddy bear.  Newcomer Amanda Seyfried steals the movie with her likeable lawyer character, Sam L. Jackson.  And yes, she has not heard of the actor Samuel L. Jackson, nor does she pick up on any of Ted and Johnny’s movie quotes, and that’s the driving force of the trio’s interactions.  Seyfried is a wonderfully talented actress with a very expressive face, and she easily outclasses everyone she’s in a scene with (except obviously Morgan Freeman).  To her credit she’s a good sport about her famous large blue eyes.  They are the butt of a few jokes in the movie — the best ones actually.  Seyfried is obviously a good shit and I bet she’s fun to have a beer with.  She also gets to sing, and that award-winning voice performs the original theme song “Mean Ol’ Moon”.

The plot, such as it is, was inspired by the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Measure of a Man”; I shit you not.  This is even acknowledged by McFarlane in the commentary.  Ted and Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth) have been married a while but it’s not working out.  So, they do what every struggling couple in America does to heal their relationship:  have a kid.  At first, you think the movie will be about Ted and Marky Mark getting into hijinks and capers, trying to steal donor sperm from demigods like Tom Brady.   Then it awkwardly shifts to a legal slant, with Ted having to prove he is a person and not property in a court, just like Lt. Data did in Star Trek.  Data had Captain Picard to defend him, and McFarlane says that Amanda Seyfriend’s opening comments in the courtroom scene were inspired by Picard’s.

In Star Trek, if Data were declared to be property, then Starfleet could have cut him open to mass produce intelligent androids to serve as a working class.  In Ted 2, Giovanni Ribisi’s evil Donny wants to do something similar.  He convinces Hasbro that they can take Ted, and cut him open to see what makes him tick, and repeat the magic.  Billions of dollars would be made.  All this hinges on him being declared property in court.  There would be few repercussions for Hasbro to steal a teddy bear, compared to a person, to dissect it!

You have to give McFarlane credit for a great Mel Brooks-inspired opening musical number, and a brawl finale.  You have to admire Amanda Seyfried’s abilities, and Pantene Pro V-perfect hair.  Otherwise Ted 2 is a lazy retread.  I don’t mean “lazy” in the sense that it wasn’t hard work.  It clearly was hard work making this movie, doing the perfect CG bear and motion capture.  The reason we don’t talk about the bear much is that he seems perfectly real at all times.  No, I mean “lazy” in the writing.  There are plenty of funny jokes, situations, and lines.  There are no characters we care or even know much about.  How did Seyfried’s Sam, age 26, become a lawyer who can play guitar and sing better than 95% of the ladies currently in the top 40, all while suffering debilitating migraines that require her to constantly smoke marijuana?  How???  It’s hard to get involved in the characters when they’re so obviously not human, and I’m not referring to Ted!  How does Marky Mark support himself?  Does he still have a job?  We never see him at work.

Best gag:  A Liam Neeson cameo.  Stay tuned for the post credit scene.

Special features:  Unrated version of the movie, audio commentary, gag real, deleted scenes (mostly alternate lines from scenes in the movie), and plenty of making-of featurettes.  The “Creating Comic-Con” feature was interesting, from a Trek nerd point of view.  Check out how they made that giant starship Enterprise that hangs from the ceiling.  It’s just based on a model that McFarlane had on his desk!

Blu-ray annoyance:  These text info-boxes advertising other movies pop up on every menu, unless you specifically look for the setting that turns them off.  That’s…mildly vexatious.

Stupid infobox.

Stupid infobox.

Joke tagline: Ted 2 – more of the same, but now with Seyfried!  Whose last name I can now pronounce correctly, thanks to the commentary.

3/5 stars

Scan_20151231 (2)

 

Gallery: Christmas Haul 2013

Music, movies, and books! I’ve been very occupied these last couple days.

I get the Guiness’ Book of World Records, and the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not books every year. I imagine my surprise when I discovered a friend of ours in both books! Apparently, Sweet Pepper Klopek holds the world record for “Most Baking Sheets Buckled Over the Head for One Minute.” This is a guy who has been on my living room couch!  Lemon Kurri says:

“He’s in there a couple times. Most mouse traps sprung on a tongue in 1 min too.”

 

MOVIE REVIEW: Ted (2012 blu-ray)

“Death to Ming!” – Sam Jones

TED FRONTTED (Universal, 2012, directed by Seth MacFarlane)

I don’t often go out to the store to buy a movie on the first day of release anymore, but I did for Ted.  I grabbed it at the local Best Buy and immediately popped it in, since I missed its theatrical run.  I’m a Seth MacFarlane fan, see?  I like Family Guy and recently American Dad too.  If you don’t like those shows, chances are, you probably won’t like Ted either.  May as well stop reading now.

Still with me?  Good.  Because this is a fuckin’ funny movie!  Once you get past the concept of the walking talking driving tweeting teddy bear who loves coke and prostitutes.

Patrick Stewart narrarates our intro, as we meet John Bennett, a little Star Wars loving boy who gets a teddy bear for Christmas.  He doesn’t have many friends, so one night he wishes that Teddy was alive.  Connect the dots from here.

Ted becomes a world famous superstar phenomenon (Johnny Carson show and all), only to crash and burn hard by the 1990’s.  Now today, he sits on John’s couch drinking beer, smoking pot, watching Flash Gordon; the 1980 bomb that starred Sam J. Jones as the titular Flash.  And once again, the lush strains of “Flash”, by Queen, fills the room.  This is all fine and dandy until Mila Kunis (insert hot girlfriend way too good for immature boyfriend here) says enough is enough.  If Marky Mark and Mila are to stay together, Ted’s gotta move out and get his own place.

Their lives pretty much go down hill from there.  Ted gets a job at the local grocer and starts banging a checkout girl on top of the lettuce.  But John just can’t separate himself from his best bud, especially when Sam J. Jones himself turns up to party with the boys.   Can John achieve the balance between friendship and domestic bliss that eludes him?

Throw in an evil, creepy stalker played perfectly by Giovanni Ribisi, and cameos by Norah Jones and Ted Danson as themselves, and you have a movie.

I’m not going to sit here and lie to you by saying that this is substantially different from any other bro-mances you’ve seen out there.  There’s the girl who’s fed up, the jerky male romantic rival, and the two dudes, one of whom wants to get his life together while the other seemingly holds him back.  If you’ve watched Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, or Seth Rogen films, you know where I’m going.

What makes Ted so much better than any of those movies (which I already like anyway) is MacFarlane himself.  Yes, Ted does sound like Peter Griffin (even acknowledged in the film) but that voice just works for this bear!  Ted is easily one of the sickest, yet lovable characters in cinema history.  A horny drug using teddy bear has never been depicted on film before, as far as I know.  Of course, Ted needs Johnny as much as Johnny needs Ted.  They are a movie pair, and they can never be happy apart.

The blu-ray gives you the “unrated” (boobs) and theatrical versions.  There’s a DVD, a digital copy, all that extra crap that I never use.  Deleted scenes, gag reels, commentary, all that good stuff.   Still, there’s no point buying a movie unless you plan on watching it more than once.  I’ve watched Ted five times so far, and I still love it.

I guess I have a thing for f-bomb dropping teddy bears that sound like Peter Griffin.  What does that make me?  Ahh, who cares.

4.5/5 stars

Part 131: Quagmire

RECORD STORE TALES PART 131:  Quagmire

We used to have piles and piles of CDs, stacked on a unit behind the counter.  Due to lack of space, this is where we put stock that was:

1. on hold for staff
2. on hold for customers
3. being sent elsewhere for customer orders

Unfortunately these stacks were visible to customers, although not available for sale to the general public.  Sometimes you’d have a situation like this:

“Cool!  I can see OK Computer by Radiohead!  Is that for sale?”

And it wasn’t, which you’d explain.  If the CD was on hold for someone, they’d often ask how long it was on hold for so they could be next in line, provided the other person didn’t pick it up.

When stuff was on hold for staff (who usualy snagged the best stuff and held it for longer periods of time) I didn’t like the customers seeing it.  But we didn’t really have anywhere better to put it.  I proposed putting it in the back room but that didn’t last long.  So what we’d do is disguise it in some way.  Instead of having a pile labeled “Mike”, we’d change the name.  It sometimes threw the customers off the scent.

At one point, I had all the staff hold piles named after Canadian cities.  That way looked like stuff that was ordered by other stores.  So for example, we’d have a pile labeled “London” which would be a pile of stuff destined for that store.  Next to it was a pile labeled “Saskatoon”.  We didn’t have a store in Saskatoon, Saskatoon was a staff member’s pile.  We didn’t have stores in Yellowknife or Winnipeg either, but those labels threw customers off the scent.  They’d assume the stock was there for another store.

I liked this system, but the staff often preferred nicknames on the labels.  Some people liked their nicknames, some people didn’t.  There was a girl named Meredith — she really hated being caled Megadeth, for example (I assume that’s true of most Merediths out there).  I hated being called Cheeser — so named because I liked what other people refer to as “cheese metal” (although I think Zakk Wylde would be happy to punch somebody in the face for calling his music cheese metal).

Later on, someone had all the piles named after Family Guy characters.  At the time, I’d never seen an episode in my life, and I didn’t know it was a bad thing that my nickname was Quagmire!  Joke was on me I guess!

Part 100: Five Record Store Memories

corsair

RECORD STORE TALES PART 100:  Five Record Store Memories

1. One customer, Captain Jack (so-named because he dressed as a WWII Corsair pilot) once offered to work for us part time, just straightening the discs in the bargain bin so they’d all face in the same direction.  That was all he wanted to be.  Bargain Bin Straightener.

2. Two young girls were listening to Gwen Stefani on the listening stations.  Both of them decided to sing, “This shit is bananas!” at the top of their lungs.  When told to stop, they just said, “But we’re just repeating the words of the song!”  Parents, step up please.

3. Because we had a staff dinner there once, Jack Astor’s popped in one day with a “Jack Attack”:  A bucket of wings and a six-pack of pop.  At first I was going to say, “Sorry man, I didn’t order any food,” until they said it was FREE!  I was working alone, and I managed to eat most of the wings and drink 4 bottles of pop myself!  My boss would have shit if he saw me pigging out in the store…but there was nowhere else to go to eat, when you’re working alone all day.

4. One of the most unique discs we ever saw come in stock was a disc of Russian folk songs, recorded over a century ago.  One employee, Wiseman, liked playing it at closing time because it got people out of the store.

5. Other artists Wiseman enjoyed:  Brushy One-String, a reggae artist so named because he played a one-stringed guitar!  This also received store play, but reportedly was “not very good”.  He would often pair this with Tarkus, by E.L.P.  It was always interesting working nights with Wiseman!

DUAL REVIEW: The Trashmen – “Surfin’ Bird” / Family Guy “I Dream of Jesus”

THE FAMILY GUY: “I Dream Of Jesus” (Episode 2, Season 7)

My buddy Chris and I seldom agree on anything to do with TV shows. (Two and a Half Men? Seriously Chris?) One fact that we do agree on: “I Dream Of Jesus” had the potential to be the best Family Guy episode of all time. They had it going in the first half, only to blow it in the second.

In a nutshell: Peter gets all nostalgic for the song “Surfin’ Bird” by The Trashmen. He acquires a record and torments his family by playing and singing the song so much that he is literally driving Stewy and Brian insane. To me this was Family Guy at its absolute best.

That was the first half. The second half involved Peter befriending Jesus and the episode just got weird from there. Chris and I both agree: The proper way to end this episode would have been to have another giant chicken fight. Bird is the word. Chicken fight. It could have been perfect!

3/5 stars

surfin

THE TRASHMEN: “Surfin’ Bird” (1963)

I love the oldies. I always have. It probably came from watching movies like Christine and American Grafitti. This is right up my alley. For 1963 this is absolutely raging! “Surfin’ Bird” (actually a combination of two other songs) is rock and roll! I defy you to not get this stuck in your head!

I love stuff like this. If I was a young teenager in 1963, I would have wanted this record.

5/5 stars