Best of the PPL’s “Wilson” and “Happy Tears”

Whatchu Talkin’ bout Wilson? I wanted to title my post this, but worried in our overly pc culture that people wouldn’t get the reference from the old television show Different Strokes.

Wilson, based on the graphic novel by Daniel Clowes and directed by Craig Johnson, was irreverent and funny. Woody Harrelson can do no wrong in my book and continues his excellency here. Laura Dern (why the long face?) was not as believable, but then again, I always think she’s just miserable. Evidence? Artifact one: Certain Women, Two: Founder, just to name some recent films. Has she been typecast? I know she’s in my favorite comedian of all time (today, admittedly fickle) Bill Burr‘s F is for Family, but here again she plays the long suffering wife of the 1973 set racist Archie Bunker-like husband.

What I disliked about Wilson was the gratuitous violence. In three scenes the violence was too close and too long. I don’t need to see and hear Cheryl Hines punched in the nose, it’s just not necessary. Likewise, don’t need to see Woody beaten to a pulp, but not really harmed (ridiculously unrealistic and we wonder where people get their violent ideas?!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Anywho, on to my mission to see more Parker Posey, I borrowed Happy Tears from 2009 written and directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein. I really enjoyed this, so much so that I bought it on Amazon for my brother for Christmas (shh, don’t tell him) because the dad in the flick (played by Rip Torn) reminded me of my Dad. Not only was Parker Posey good, but Demi Moore was perfect as her sardonic sister and Ellen Barkin hit it out of the park as the crack whore masquerading as the father’s girlfriend (and no, that’s not the commonality with my dad: he does not date a crack addict).
The only thing wrong with Happy Tears is the subplot with the artist husband of Parker, could easily have been excised and still been a worthy endeavor.

Next on my PPL list are two older films The Lost Weekend, a Barry Rothman request, and The Secret of Success.

I Do…Until I Don’t: the perfect explanation of my opinion

I Do…Until I Don’t is not only the title, but the perfect explanation of my opinion of this film. I do like it, or did, until about three quarters of the way in, when the plot turned so oddly you could hear the proverbial record scratching switch over.

But still, I would see it on the big screen. We need to support comedy as our country’s become much to maudlin and dour. I mean Marc Maron moaning that we’re in the ‘end times’ is ridiculous. The only comedian who seems to be immune (and thus my favorite) is Bill Burr.

So, let’s support Lake Bell who wrote and directed I Do…Until I Don’t. She is talented even if her character was a bit too annoying to be crowned protagonist. In fact, her massage parlor scene is worth the price of admission alone. Supporting her in that hysterical scene is someone for whom I came late to the fan club party, but boy, am I upfront now-Paul Reiser. From his excellent concerned Dad in Whiplash, to his funny cameo in The Little Hours, Reiser is as solid as Romano in the comedy world. Of the seven individuals depicted in I Do Until I Don’t, he was by far my favorite.

The actors, with the exception of Bell (at times), Reiser (all) and Ed Helm (all, who must have won Most Sincere superlative back in high school) were celebrities first, actors second. Mary Steenburgen (I see right through you) and Amber Heard (I see you and your post Johnny Depp/Elon Musk gorgeous self) suffered from characters too stereotypical to be real. Dolly Wells who I had never seen before, was funny as the rueful Brit documentarian, but again, her cliche lacked depth enough to take seriously.

The screenplay also suffered from too many people and sub stories (and I speak from firsthand experience with my own screenplay, Buck Up, which had the same fault). The Hollywood ending seems to be more of a necessity in comedies, though maybe next time, Bell will choose a darker shade to allow for something more real and open ended.

Still a gallant, worthy effort by Lake Bell.

Chris Rock Linkedin Endorsements

I love Chris Rock. I loved his recent SNL opening monologue where he said (and I paraphrase) that he wouldn’t go in the new Freedom Tower (former World Trade Center site) if Scarlett Johansson was naked lying in a plate of ribs. I love that he called Ben Roethlisberger the original white Cosby. I love his edge and would endorse him for stand up comedy writing as one of my TOP FIVE. Preceding him would be Louis CK#2, my recent fixation with Tom Papa#5, Doug Benson#4 (because I Love Movies), Jon Stewart #1, and Bill Burr#6.

What’s that you say? That Chris Rock#3 plus that list equals 6? Well, that’s part of the screenwriting wonders of Rock’s Top Five, where he and his posse name their top five rappers of all time. A cute conceit, yet it’s just one of the many semi random non-flowing elements of this film.

The story just wasn’t believable simply because Chris Rock has a comedian face. Meaning, his big beautiful eyes are always on the search for his next punchline, so when he wants to deliver any kind of dramatic response, it’s just seems contrived. And the story writing, well? Again, as with Horrible Bosses Two, at the very least Rock gives hope to aspiring screenwriters. Formula is not hard to write; the Hispanic aunt who loves Cosmo explicit magazine articles, the ‘hoes’ who want their money from the pimp like comedy show promoter, the diva girlfriend/star of reality show. Two dimensional characters are not the sign of genius.

And speaking of characters, I like Rosario Dawson and fell in love with her performance in Rent long ago. However, she delivers her lines quicker in this film than a side effects announcer in a Flomax commercial. her entire spiel about Cinderella, an important set up for the movie, was delivered machine gun style and tough to take in at the pace it was delivered.

Back to my Linkedin endorsement: Your stand up Mr. Rock, that I highly endorse and consider you in my top five!