Saturday, February 2, 2013

Along Came Polly

Year 5, Day 33 - 2/2/13 - Movie #1,334

BEFORE:  When you've got a whole month of romance-based films ahead of you, you're going to want to sort of ease into it.  No point in doing all the heavy lifting right away - light comedies to start.

Day 4 of the Aniston-a-thon, but I can't help but feel like I've sort of seen this one before - Ben Stiller (last seen in "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian"), a honeymoon gone wrong on a tropical paradise...

THE PLOT:  A buttoned-up newlywed finds his too organized life falling into chaos when he falls in love with an old classmate.

FOLLOW-UP TO: "The Heartbreak Kid" (Movie #408)

AFTER: Ah, the key difference between this and "The Heartbreak Kid" - in that film it was Stiller's character himself who doubted the relationship while on his honeymoon, and in this film, it's his wife.  That's significant if you want the audience to root for the central character.  Who do we feel for more, the cheater or the cheated-upon?

And not much of this film takes place in a tropical setting - the plot really develops when he returns to New York and bumps into Polly, a girl he knew in middle-school, and he wonders if she represents a path that the universe has chosen for him.  Again, two schools of thought - do you believe in fate that puts two people together in one place, or do you believe in the power of people to recognize these random occurences and control their own destinies? 

Reuben, Stiller's character here, is all about risk - calculating it for others, and avoiding it himself.  He works in insurance (the word "actuary" is never used, but seems to fit) and calculates the risk that high-profile people take - the rich and powerful, who enjoy swimming with sharks and base-jumping.

He's not wrong when he imagines that bowls of bar peanuts are rife with bacteria, or that people don't wash their hands after using a public restroom.  Every day on the subway, I see people cough into their hands, or wipe their noses, and put their hands RIGHT BACK on the pole.  First of all, if they've got a cold, they shouldn't be going to work and spreading it, and secondly, eww... I'm constantly on the watch for what to not touch - mostly I try not to touch the poles at all.

I feel for Reuben, I understand him - I don't eat spicy foods, and I certainly don't dance.  I went to get an eye exam today, and the optician wanted to know if I engaged in any activities that might be dangerous to my eyes.  She said, "What's your favorite outdoor activity?" and I replied, "Grilling".   Then she said, "No, I mean, what's your favorite sport?"  "Umm...trivia?"

But he's forced out of his comfort zone when trying to impress Polly, and she's all over the map - I mean, she's lived all over the map, she likes salsa dancing and Indian food, which leads to physical comedy and toilet humor.  I thought slapstick was the lowest form of humor - I stand corrected.

I appreciated the fact that the Reuben/Polly relationship was always in a bit of flux - it seemed like one of those things that if they would try to define it, they'd kill it.  But eventually you've got to put some kind of a label on these things, and that's when you might find out that one person is taking the relationship more seriously than the other, who might just be treating it like a bit of fun.

When it comes time to make a definitive choice, can the guy who's always avoided risk learn to stop doing that?  Love is risk - you're giving the other person the power to hurt you, whether you realize it or not. 

Also starring Philip Seymour Hoffman (last seen in "Moneyball"), Debra Messing (last heard in "Garfield"), Hank Azaria (last seen in "The Smurfs"), Alec Baldwin, Bryan Brown, with cameos from Michele Lee, Judah Friedlander (last seen in "The Darwin Awards"), Missy Pyle, Masi Oka. 

RATING: 4 out of 10 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Picture Perfect

Year 5, Day 32 - 2/1/13 - Movie #1,333

BEFORE:  This seems like an appropriate follow-up to "Horrible Bosses", because it also features a scheme to get ahead in the corporate world, and of course that scheme's probably going to go awry.  The Jennifer Aniston chain rolls on...

THE PLOT:  A woman working on an advertising career is passed up for promotion because she's 'not stable enough', still being single and having no ties to the company. A story is made up about her being engaged to Nick, a guy whom she just met at a friend's wedding, and all seems to work out, but events soon take a dramatic turn.

AFTER:  I admit I was a little confused about this film, I think in my mind I mixed it up with "The Object of My Affection", which is not on my list.  I kept thinking Jay Mohr's character would reveal that he was gay, but no, that's the other movie.

I'm not sure that I buy the premise of this one, which sort of naturally assumes that women have to work twice as hard in the advertising business to earn half as much.  This may have been true back in the "Mad Men" era, but I think things are a little better now.  I work in a field adjacent to advertising, and I know there are a ton of women working in the field now, some in very prominent positions.

Aniston's character here has a pitch that wins an account for her agency, but she's not assigned the position of lead creative - maybe because she's only been at the company for a few weeks, and she's had exactly ONE great idea.  Perhaps there are other people at the company who've been around longer and have a proven track record, that's all I'm saying.  Anyway, the implication here is that the boss won't give her a promotion because she's single and doesn't own a house or a car, so she could take another job at any time.  There seems to be some faulty logic here, and that's a very nosy boss!

Plus, I don't think you can make snap judgments like that based on someone's work history.  One of my major tasks at work is to maintain this huge database of over 15,000 people who work in advertising - including the companies they've worked for, which accounts they've worked on, with their current addresses, e-mails, cell phone numbers, and in some cases, their spouses' names and personal hobbies.  And this is for an industry where people change jobs frequently, or can freelance for 5 or 6 agencies in the course of a year.  You know how they're always painting the Golden Gate Bridge?  When they reach one end of the bridge, it's time to go back and start over again.  It's kind of like that with my database - when I'm done updating it, it's almost time to start updating it again.

But from where I sit, I've just about seen it all - people changing jobs, getting married, divorced, hyphenating their names, moving to another job to be with someone, or perhaps to get away from someone else.  And now that there's Facebook and LinkedIn, I've added people's pictures and a lot more resumé info - you can call it cyber-stalking, but I call it research.  (And just like the agency people in this film, I'm gearing up for the big football/commercial blitz this weekend - the Super Bowl, which is, well, kind of like our Super Bowl.)

But, I've never seen anyone invent a fake boyfriend to get ahead in her career.  The plan was to demonstrate to her boss that she's a stable individual, and then have her boyfriend break up with her very publicly, due to all of the time she spends working, which also shows the boss what a hard worker she is.  It's a genius plan on paper - the only thing simpler would be actually putting in the extra hours and making sure the boss knows about it.

What to make of a central character who is so manipulative?  She doesn't seem to have a problem with lying, she doesn't care who gets hurt, as long as the desired result is achieved.  So, advertising is the perfect career for her!  What concerns me more than the fake boyfriend is the casual sex with a co-worker, who's only interested in her BECAUSE she's engaged to someone else.  Yeah, that's a red flag.  But she doesn't seem to mind, so it seems like she's got commitment issues.

But, will she realize in time that the fake relationship has more potential than the casual one?  (take a guess...)

Also starring Jay Mohr (last seen in "Hereafter"), Kevin Bacon (last seen in "X-Men: First Class"), Olympia Dukakis, Ileana Douglas (last seen in "Chasing Amy"), Kevin Dunn (last seen in "All the King's Men"), with cameos from Faith Prince, Kaley Cuoco.

RATING: 4 out of 10 storyboards

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Horrible Bosses

Year 5, Day 31 - 1/31/13 - Movie #1,332

BEFORE: This completes the trilogy of random recent comedies this week - when I broke down my remaining list late last year, these didn't really fit in any category, but fortunately they shared actors.  Tonight Jennifer Aniston carries over from "Wanderlust". 

THE PLOT:  Three friends conspire to murder their awful bosses when they realize they are standing in the way of their happiness.

AFTER:  Speaking of people I knew in college, I saw in the end credits that this film was produced by "He Who Shall Not Be Named" (not his real name, just what I call him).  That was a close one, because I've managed to keep this zone relatively free of The Evil One's influence, except for one segment of "New York, I Love You" (yes, it was THAT segment...).  But I can separate my feelings against him from my rating of this film, since I saw how little he worked in film school - so I doubt he has much influence when it comes to the creation of any artistic venture.

You might think you've seen this plot before, and you'd be right - both in "Strangers on a Train" and "Throw Momma From the Train".  But this specifically is set in three workplaces, perhaps to tap into the zeitgeist of the new Millennium, when the middle class is struggling just to get by, let alone get ahead, and those with jobs can't afford to quit them - heck, they can barely afford to keep them.

So there's motivation to keep working for an a-hole, or a sexual harrasser, or a deviant.  But the question lingers, why not just report the boss to H.R., or file a lawsuit?  They sort of touch on that here, but the film still depicts people willing to take the "easy" way out by resorting to murder - only those murders don't turn out to be as easy as planned.

This is the first use of this plot in the modern, post-CSI era - so there's an admission that anything you do WILL leave evidence.  But this motivates the "criss-cross" idea even more - any evidence would lead back to someone with no motive, or ideally if the killer weren't even in the system, to no one.

From a screenwriting standpoint, here's the dilemma - how do you portray people with intent to kill, and not only maintain a comedic tone, but keep the audience rooting for the lead characters?  One way is to make the bosses far, far worse villains than the employees - but another way is to depict the heroes as clumsy screw-ups.  Certainly if they succeed in their plans, they lose the audience.  So I applaud the film for walking a very fine line - showing characters with the intent to kill, but neither the ability nor the stones to succeed at it.

It's hard to say where the turning point is, but once the original plan starts to go awry, a very different one starts to take shape.  And it's still possible to get to an acceptable result, so that's another bit of clever.

Speaking of clever, I started the month with something "Miserables" and ended with "Horrible" - I love a bit of symmetry.  And now I'm perfectly set up for the February topic, which is my 5th annual examination of love and romance in all its forms.  Aniston was something of a staple in romantic comedies for several years, so I'll start there tomorrow.

Also starring Jason Bateman (last seen in "Paul"), Jason Sudeikis (last seen in "Semi-Pro"), Charlie Day, Kevin Spacey (last heard in "A Bug's Life"), Colin Farrell (last seen in "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus"), Jamie Foxx (last heard in "Rio"), with cameos from Donald Sutherland (last seen in "The Eagle"), Ioan Gruffudd (last seen in "W."), Julie Bowen, Bob Newhart, Ron White, John Francis Daley.

RATING: 6 out of 10 security cameras

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Year 5, Day 30 - 1/30/13 - Movie #1,331

BEFORE:  I had a chance to see "Silver Linings Playbook" last night, but I turned it down because it seems like a romantic film, and I'm not there yet, that's February's topic.  But then my co-worker told me a little about the plot, and it seemed like there were some similar plot points to "Our Idiot Brother", so maybe I should have gone.  Oh, well.  Catch ya later.  It would have disrupted my linking chain, anyway.

This time Paul Rudd carries over from "Our Idiot Brother". 

THE PLOT:   Rattled by sudden unemployment, a Manhattan couple surveys alternative living options, ultimately deciding to experiment with living on a rural commune where free love rules.

AFTER:  Last night's film centered on a hipster/slacker, and tonight we've got genuine hippies - as in, live on a commune, eat vegan, free-love hippies.  Because you might have thought that the lifestyle would have died out in the late 70's, but apparently not.

But I see this as kind of a lesson in character development.  So many times in a movie you see a character who's just ONE thing, and then the rest of their story develops from that.  Rarely in real life is anyone just one thing.  People have hobbies and interests outside of their job, or outside of being a parent, but lazy screenwriters will make a character a baseball player, or an astronaut, or a mother, and expect the rest of the pieces to fall into place.

Most of the hippies seen in this film do fall into this category - the shorthand then dictates that they all smoke pot, practice free love, and generally act spacey.  And the lead characters are yuppies (at first), so there's a quick extrapolation that they live in a Manhattan loft, drink gourmet coffee, etc. with the yuppie/hippie contrast then developed for comic effect. 

But there are signs here of the "right" way to build a character - there's one who is an aspiring author (and he's NOT writing a story that turns into this film!), a wine-maker, and a nudist.  None of these things preclude the others - so adding hobbies is a quick and legitimate way to develop a character.  Paul Rudd's character in "Our Idiot Brother" had none, so right off the bat he's a lot less interesting - and Rudd's character here, what do we know about him, other than the fact that he lost his job and apartment?  What did he do at his job?  What are his life goals, his interests, his backstory?  The worst kind of character development turns out to be none at all.

You might think I'm splitting hairs, but look at "Life of Pi".  The central character is a bit more than just a kid who gets stuck on a lifeboat.  He had interests in swimming, drumming, and comparative religion.   And later in the film, at least two of those became very important.  (I'm still trying to see how the story related to God, I guess you have to be more God-oriented to get it.)  "Slumdog Millionaire" is another great example - the main character's knowledge base came from the sum total of his hobbies, interests and experiences.

Even the foil character in "Wanderlust", the brother, was more interesting - he runs a port-a-potty company, has affairs, is prone to fits of rage, and in general is a complete jerk.  But he's more developed than either of the leads.  Maybe I'm expecting too much from a little comedy, but the whole point of sending these two to the commune, creating a "fish out of water" storyline, is so that they can gain some perspective, see that there's another way of doing things, so even if they ultimately return to NYC, they should be changed somehow.  But since they're mostly blanks, the "Where are they now" updates at the end felt very forced, and not developed naturally from within.

But hey, big picture, the film manages to skewer hippies, vegans, pacifists, nudists, and other liberal bastions.  Any person with a philosophy, religion, or outlook that deals in absolutes, I'm happy to see them get caught up in their own B.S.  Seeing a pacifist lose control in a fit of rage, or seeing a vegetarian sneak out to a diner for some bacon only proves my point.  And there was some article a few months ago about a study that was done among the free-love/polyamory crowd that proved that, yes, often the people in these relationships experience jealousy.  Surprising exactly no one, least of all myself.

So the humor takes aim at easy targets, but it's still funny, sort of in the way that "Wet Hot American Summer" poked fun at teenagers at camp.  Some of the same people from that film were involved, including the director and many cast members of "The State".  I didn't watch that MTV sketch show when it aired, because I had seen the group perform many of the same skits live at NYU - so I didn't know those people directly at college, but I knew who they were. 

NITPICK POINT: It's comforting to know that there have been advances in the technology of wine-making in the past few decades.  They have wine presses now.  Stomping grapes with bare feet, while an iconic and allegedly fun activity, has 99.9% gone the way of the dinosaurs and licking stamps.  It certainly would not be done today for any wine that people would want to drink.  Because, eww.

Also starring Jennifer Aniston (last seen in "Friends With Money"), Justin Theroux (last seen in "Your Highness"), Alan Alda (last seen in "The Aviator"), Malin Akerman (last seen in "Couples Retreat"), Ken Marino (last seen in "Role Models"), Kerri Kenney (ditto), Joe Lo Truglio (last seen in "Paul"), Lauren Ambrose (last seen in "The Other Woman"), Kathryn Hahn (also carrying over from "Our Idiot Brother"), Jordan Peele, with cameos from Todd Barry, Keegan Michael Key, Linda Lavin, Michael Showalter (last seen in "Signs"), Michael Ian Black, David Wain.

RATING: 6 out of 10 didgeridoos

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Our Idiot Brother

Year 5, Day 29 - 1/29/13 - Movie #1,330

BEFORE: I don't even need to exploit the Jason Segel/Paul Rudd connection, since Rashida Jones carries over from "The Muppets".

THE PLOT:  A comedy centered on an idealist who barges into the lives of his three sisters.

FOLLOW-UP TO:  "I Love You, Man" (Movie #826), "Dinner for Schmucks" (Movie #949)

AFTER: This is a tough one for me to rate, merely because the lead character, Ned, is pitched to us as an idiot.  Somehow, that's worse than being a "schmuck".  I don't tolerate idiots in real-life, not among my co-workers or even my friends, so why should I be interested in one as the central character in a story?  Even if you look back on children's stories, it's rare for a character to be portrayed as dumb - except maybe "Winnie the Pooh", he's pretty clueless.  It's the main reason I avoided watching "Dumb & Dumber" for so long, I just don't want to care about dumb people.

I suppose "The Hangover" managed to pull it off, with the Zach Galifianakis character portrayed as so out-of-touch with reality, and some of the Will Ferrell films, like "Anchorman" and "Talladega Nights", but those characters end up being the butt of the jokes, and we're not expected to root for them.  An actor's got a much tougher row to hoe if the character is supposed to be clueless AND the hero of the story.

Plus, this is also a toxic character - he means well (and if you've read many of my reviews, you know that's about the worst thing I can say about someone) but he ends up destroying the lives of each of his three sisters in some way, as he is shuttled off from one to the next.  There is something positive to be said in the end about each of the interactions, but this doesn't excuse the fact that he inadvertently caused them harm.  Or, I suppose you could say that they were each living in a glass house of sorts, and he just happened to be the one that threw the stone.  But still...

And what are we to make of Ned, is he a hippie, a hipster, a slacker or a stoner?  And yes, there is a difference, but he exhibits traits of them all.  He works as an organic farmer (hippie), but then hangs out on the NYC social scene (hipster).  He couch-surfs between his mother's house and his sister's apartments (slacker) and gets busted for pot (stoner).  So he's some weird combination of all of them.

In the end, this wasn't an annoying film, but neither do I feel that it went out of its way to entertain.  I wish that it had been funnier, or more charming, or more something in some direction, rather than ambling through the plot the way Ned ambles through life.  The best thing about the film was probably the ending, and not just because it meant the film was over, but because it was the only part where I felt a hint of real sentiment, and it wasn't just people screaming at each other.

Also tarring Paul Rudd (last seen in "Dinner for Schmucks"), Zooey Deschanel (last seen in "Your Highness"), Elizabeth Banks (last seen in "Seabiscuit"), Emily Mortimer (last seen in "The Saint"), Steve Coogan (last seen in "Marie Antoinette"), Adam Scott (last seen in "The Aviator"), T.J. Miller (last seen in "Get Him to the Greek"), Shirley Knight (last seen in "Paul Blart: Mall Cop"), Kathryn Hahn, with cameos from Polly Draper, Julie White.

RATING: 5 out of 10 drug tests

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Muppets

Year 5, Day 28 - 1/28/13 - Movie #1,329

BEFORE: And Neil Patrick Harris carries over from "The Smurfs", doing one of about three dozen cameos in this film.  Geez, if I can't link in and out of this film, I should just pack it in.

THE PLOT:  With the help of three fans, The Muppets must reunite to save their old theater from a greedy oil tycoon.

FOLLOW-UP TO: "The Muppets Take Manhattan" (Movie #1,264) and "The Great Muppet Caper" (Movie #1,265)

AFTER:  Another element that carries over from "The Smurfs" - the use of very tired rock songs, once again AC/DC's "Back in Black", and also "Bad to the Bone" and "We Built This City".  Who the heck were they trying to appeal to, the original MTV VJ's?   (Full confession, I love most 80's music that hasn't been overplayed, and I tolerate "We Built This City")  The original songs in this film fare much better, but I guess someone felt they might not have been recognizable enough, so dust off the old cassette tapes from the 80's...

Also, like "The Smurfs", this is a very self-referential film - it's a movie that knows it's a movie, talking about "plot points" and in some cases, addressing the audience directly.  But we've come to expect that sort of thing from the Muppets, after watching them talk to the home audience on "The Muppet Show" time and time again.

The film also treats the Muppet franchise as one that's worn-out and in a state of disrepair, which may reference the real-world events after Henson sold the franchise to the Disney empire.  I'm a cynical man, so I firmly believed that Disney bought the Muppets just to shelve them, creating less competition for Disney movies in a tough marketplace.  And they may have remained shelved even longer, if Jason Segel hadn't come along and revived them.  How do you know when a franchise has run its course?  (the existence of "Muppet Treasure Island", I'm guessing)  And how do you know when the time is right to bring it back?

The story focuses on two brothers, Gary and Walter, one of whom is obviously a Muppet, though they never address how this came to be.   Was Walter adopted?  Are Muppets born to human parents, making them some kind of mutation?  If not, then how exactly are Muppets created?  Maybe the world is better off not knowing...

Walter's tough childhood is assuaged by watching "The Muppet Show", and seeing people who look like him each week on TV.  When the brothers take a trip (along with Gary's girlfriend) to California, they visit Muppet Studios, which is in shambles, and find out that the Muppets have gone their separate ways, so they've got to reunite them before the old theater gets destroyed.   

This hearkens back to the first "Muppet Movie" in many ways, the montage of driving cross-country to assemble the various talented performers, in order to put on a show.  This time it's a telethon, to raise enough money to buy back the theater from its owner.  I got really worried when there was a prominent "hobo" character in the audience, I feared the film would rip off the ending to "UHF", but it didn't. 

In addition to getting the team back together, Gary and Mary's relationship is tested, Walter discovers his hidden Muppet talent, and the Muppets remind the audience (including us) that they're ready to perform again.  Maybe not in the same way they did before, but maybe in a new way.  They bring back "The Rainbow Connection", the anthem for anyone who left Smalltown, U.S.A. and moved to the big city to become an actor, comedian, filmmaker, or even a puppeteer.  I'm not a huge Muppet fan, but having moved to NYC at 17 to attend film school, I can relate to the sentiment.

NITPICK POINT: I could see the hidden clause in Kermit's old contract working as a plot point, but would you really expect to find oil under a Hollywood theater?  Do you see a lot of oil rigs in downtown L.A.?   This seemed like quite a stretch.

The good news is, they're already working on a sequel to this - but the bad news is that according to a trailer I saw last week, "The Smurfs 2" is also on the way.  More good news, I'm done with children's films and I can move on to more adult comedies, and set myself up for the start of my February topic.

Starring Jason Segel (last seen in "Bad Teacher"), Amy Adams (last seen in "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian"), Chris Cooper (last seen in "The Kingdom"), Rashida Jones (last seen in "Friends with Benefits"), Jack Black (last heard in "Kung Fu Panda 2"), with cameos from Alan Arkin (last seen in "Marley & Me"), Jim Parsons, Whoopi Goldberg (last seen in "Sister Act 2"), Ken Jeong (last seen in "The Hangover Part II"), Zach Galifianakis (ditto), Kristen Schaal (last seen in "Get Him to the Greek"), Sarah Silverman (last seen in "Funny People"), Donald Glover, Emily Blunt (last heard in "Gnomeo & Juliet"), James Carville, Judd Hirsch, John Krasinski (last seen in "License to Wed"), Selena Gomez, Mickey Rooney.

RATING: 7 out of 10 dress rehearsals

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Smurfs

Year 5, Day 27 - 1/27/13 - Movie #1,328

BEFORE:  Hank Azaria carries over again from "Happy Feet Two", and he brings Sofia Vergara with him - very kind of him to do so.  Azaria does a lot of voice-over work, so as a result Gargamel is going to sound like Moe the Bartender, in the same way that Yoda sounds like Grover.

THE PLOT:  When the evil wizard Gargamel chases the tiny blue Smurfs out of their village, they tumble from their magical world into New York City.

FOLLOW-UP TO:  "Gnomeo & Juliet" (Movie #1,318), "Enchanted" (Movie #443)

AFTER:  I probably should have put this next to "Gnomeo & Juliet" because of the resemblance of the smurfs and the gnomes, but the linking didn't lead me that way.  And this is a very similar plot to "Enchanted", with the inhabitants of fairyland coming to NYC with their enemy following.  I know we've got that statue in the harbor with all of that "Give me your huddled masses" poetry on it, but as a resident of NYC, we've really got to do something about immigration, especially all these unwanted magical creatures.  Get back on your unicorn and go back to whatever story you popped out of!

Again, this is mostly crap.  Kids really need to band together, rise up and demand better movies from Hollywood.  But they don't, so we're stuck with films like this.  When I was in junior high my class boycotted the school lunch program and demanded improvements - kids should boycott dumb movies until Hollywood learns to make better ones.

I just didn't care about the Smurfs, because they were so annoying - even if the movie admits they're annoying, and their outlook is annoying, and their song is annoing, it's not a help.  They're still annoying.  I almost rooted for Gargamel, except he was even more annoying.  And the film couldn't decide if he was a powerful evil wizard or an incompetent screw-up - he can't be both.  See, kids, this is what I'm talking about, first two points of order - demand better continuity and clearer plotlines.  And number 3, demand less annoying central characters.

So, the Smurfs travel to our dimension, in which we have old comic books featuring the Smurfs?  While we're at it, kids, demand fictional universes that fit together in more reasonable ways.  You didn't see Spider-Man or the Avengers leaping out of a comic-book, did you?  It didn't work in "Rocky and Bullwinkle", so please, stop doing it!

Even discounting the blatant product placement, and the 14 millionth senseless use of "Back in Black" in a movie soundtrack, there's not much to champion here.  There are films that parents can enjoy with their kids, but I'd guess this isn't one of them.  I fell asleep during the first attempt at viewing, and I had no desire to wake up and try again.  So I had to give up an hour of my Sunday afternoon to finish this, and I'll never get that time back.

I hope that this film, and "Hop", represent the low point - I've got to finish this topic and start climbing upwards again. 

Also starring Neil Patrick Harris (last heard in "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs"), Jayma Mays (last seen in "Flags of Our Fathers"), Tim Gunn, and the voices of Jonathan Winters (last seen in "Moon Over Parador"), Katy Perry, Alan Cumming (last seen in "Nicholas Nickleby"), George Lopez (last heard in "Rio"), Fred Armisen (last seen in "Easy A"), Anton Yelchin (last seen in "Charlie Bartlett"), and quick vocal cameos from Kenan Thompson, John Oliver, Jeff Foxworthy, Wolfgang Puck, Paul Reubens and B.J. Novak.  Liz Smith, Tom Colicchio, Joan Rivers and Michael Musto were all in a crowd shot, probably feeling embarrassed.

RATING: 2 out of 10 pigeons