Friday, July 26, 2013

Gotta Drank! Boardner's

Randomly stumbled into this place on one of my many treks to Grauman's Egyptian Theater (park on Selma, $5 lots!).  It's incredibly dark inside but very classy.  Black and white photos of all your favorite actors line the walls and their Happy Hour is quite nice.  It runs until 8:00PM on weekdays and all day Sunday!  The specials vary but Thursday had $3 Well drinks.

We were sitting right by this gentleman's photo, Errol Flynn, whom we were off to see after dinner in 1935's Captain Blood.  Unfortunately my time at the movies wasn't quite as relaxing...

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Comic-Con'do Musings: Cinematic Cyclops

Hugh Jackman is about to play Wolverine for the 6th time.  That's as many times as there are Superman movies.  More times than cinematic Spider-Man and one less than Batman.  Where 5 actors have played Batman and his mask Bruce Wayne, Hugh has played Wolvie each and every time.  Soon he'll venture into Roger Moore James Bond territory.  This past Saturday in Hall H he appeared on the FOX panel for two different movies, playing the same character!

Anyone who has read X-Men knows Wolverine is the moody hot head with unbreakable bones, claws that pop out of his knuckles, healing factor and gravity defying hair.  While the level headed leader who fires optic blasts that shatter mountains is Cyclops.  Calm, cool and collected yet a babe magnet (Jean Grey, Psylocke, White Queen) and badass in his own right; Cyclops has never been given any cinematic credit.  In X-Men he isn't phased by Logan's tantrums but doesn't have much to do besides be the punch line, have his girlfriend hit on and not be able to land a jet.  In part II, he has a quick fight scene, gets captured, mind controlled and forgotten for much of the running time.  His minutes quickly run out in X3 as Cyke is in brooding mode over the loss of Jean Grey and then seemingly vaporized by her returning spirit/ghost/whatever.  Poor James Marsden...but seriously, he's doing alright.

My theory is that the X-Men movies were made too late.  If this were a 90's joint, prime time of the buddy picture, we could have had a great cinematic version of Cyclops played by none other than the sensitive action hero himself, Michael Biehn.  Biehn was the rare breed of "action" hero that was equal parts handsome, physical, courageous and vulnerable.  Look to his performance as the lovelorn, time traveling, father of the future Kyle Reese in The Terminator.  Or as soft spoken, take command under pressure while fighting Xenomorph hordes, Corporal Hicks in Aliens.  Or maybe his greatest cinematic Cyclops similarity, Lieutenant James Curran in 1990's Navy Seals where he's paired with bad boy Charlie Sheen.

In Seals, Biehn plays a leader who is strong yet compassionate and carries the responsibility of protecting his team while still managing to get the girl.  Sheen plays hot dog Hawkins, the brash, "shoot first, ask questions never" type who tries to get the chick but fails.  His recklessness ends up costing the life of a team member and gets him into a verbal beatdown with Curran, who is holding the stone of grief.  By the end of the film Hawkins has to give up his selfish ways in order to save Curran's life and get the team to safety.

This dynamic absolutely could have worked with Cyclops and Wolverine.  If you'd like a classier example because you're a movie snob who's never seen Navy Seals but judges anyway because you saw Clerks; I give you Lethal Weapon's Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson, best dad ever in The Patriot) and Roger Murtaugh (Danny "Damn birds" Glover).  One's crazy, one's calm, one shoots to kill, the other to wound and question.  Or just look to Leonardo (leads) and Raphael (cool but crude) from Ninja Turtles.  It's the same damn thing. 

But X-Men was a gamble, big budget comic book movies were far from the norm in 2000; so much so that FOX hedged their bets around the mysterious loner/badass character, had drafts of the film titled Wolverine and the X-Men, shut down production midway to reassess and the fact that it was a hit and spawned 4 sequels is a bit of a movie miracle.  Besides, Cyclops is already dead during the Days of Future Past story arc so we can't really complain about his absence.

Ah well, maybe someday, after Hugh Jackman stops playing Wolverine we'll get a decent onscreen adaption of Cyclops.

Here's the golf scene from Navy Seals featuring Biehn, Sheen, Bill Paxton, Dennis Haysbert and Rick Rossovich among others just cause:

Workout of the Day: Comic-Con'do Edition II

It was a low key Comic-Con for me this year.  No way was I going to wake up at 4:00AM to get in line for Hall H.  Instead I found myself watching a marathon of Highlander on SyFy and hitting the gym for a day of Back and Triceps.  It was a typical superset affair, which is one exercise for Back then one for Triceps with no rest.  You move through your workout faster and your muscles get an alternate pump with each set.

1)  Wide Grip Chin Up/Bench Dip x 10-12/25 reps x 3 Sets
2)  Low Cable Row/Straight Bar Pushdown x 12/12 reps x 3 Sets
3)  Stiff Arm Pulldown/Lying Dumbbell Extension x 12/12 reps x 3 Sets

4)  Crunches/Hyper extensions on Swiss ball for abs and lower back.

One of the most common complaints people have is lower back pain.  They always confirm training abs but never train their back.  Then a light comes on that only training one side of your body makes it pull forward, stressing the back.  Foreheads...

5)  15 minutes on stationary bike while reading Con schedule

I was cleaned up and at the San Diego Convention Center by Noon where I saw Highlander star Adrian Paul signing autographs.  The line was pretty long on my first pass but coming back later there was a break and I got to meet him briefly and ask him about Dead Men Can't Dance, a little action flick he did in 1997 with Michael Biehn.

Maybe I should have told him I write for Dammaged Goods and went for a full interview...

Here's JCVD himself supersetting Chest and Back:

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Comic-Con'do w/ Drew Struzan: The Man Behind The Poster

It all started in the Men's Room where I was pretty sure poster artist/painter legend Drew Struzan was washing his hands next to me.  I wanted to ask him about his awesome poster for 1987's Masters of the Universe but didn't want to bother the guy who produces vibrant and inspirational work but is a soft spoken, no ego type.

Tonight's panel was the culmination of four years of hard work from a dedicated group of admirers and fans.  They had traveled the world and interviewed the likes of Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Guillermo Del Toro, Harrison Ford, Thomas Jane, Michael J. Fox, Frank Darabont and Steve Guttenburg.  All of whom consider Struzan the gold standard of movie poster artist for the last three decades.  Now this labor of love is finally complete and the resulting 95 minute documentary is ready for the rest of us to enjoy.
Struzan was humble, introspective and humorous to all of the accolades.  The artist referred to a hard life and upbringing; the first person to show him love was the woman he married.  He feels blessed to been able to pursue his passion and have met so many people he now considers friends.  The panel included two special guests, How To Train Your Dragon writer/director Dean DeBlois and actor Sam Witwer from The Mist and  TV's Being Human.  DeBlois recalled his quest to have the semi-retired Struzan work on the sequel to Dragon.  While Witwer commissioned some work for his show, to which Struzan obliged but only do if he could paint Witwer and his girlfriend for fun.

Witwer's story led into another tale of when Struzan taught Thomas Jane (The Punisher, Deep Blue Sea!!!!!!!) the basics of looking like he could paint for The Mist.  Struzan says Jane had the actions down pat but in the actual movie, took the advice of a loud mouth on set and forgot all he had been taught.  When Jane asked Struzan what he thought, Struzan just shook his head in dissatisfaction.

Towards the end of the panel, there was a knock at the locked exit door.  Seconds later, we realized Jane was crashing the panel to pay his respects to a friend and inspiration.  Right away, Jane told the story from The Mist we had just heard.  Struzan teased Jane about his long hair ("I'm supposed to do a western.")  and you could see they were actual friends.  Jane then suggested we all march up the street to the local theater playing the documentary to coincide with Comic-Con.

Another friend of the man behind so many great posters (seriously, Back to the Future, The Goonies, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Big Trouble In Little China) is George Lucas, who was the first interview for the documentary.  Their working relationship basically consists of Lucas asking if Struzan wants to do the picture then Struzan FedEx-ing the results.  The two finally met at a premiere party for Spielberg's Hook where someone who didn't know Struzan casually told him how excited Lucas was to meet him.

It was a great panel showcasing one of the unsung heroes of cinema.  You might not know his name but you definitely know his work.  The documentary is out now through Kino Lorber.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Comic-Con'do-ing Around Town

For my guys at The Van Damme Fans and anyone else who couldn't make it to San Diego Comic-Con this year.  Just a handful of snaps of what buying back your childhood looks like.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Workout of the Day: Comic-Con'do Edition

Having fun at Comic-Con is important but your health at Comic-Con is also important.  Otherwise you end up waking up at 4:30AM, driving to San Diego, going to the show from 9:00AM to 9:00PM, taking a nap in your car then going to a Comic-Tron party and all you're subsiding on is three pretzel dogs and a Coke Zero.  This can lead to massive headaches, lethargy on the spot and the dreaded Con-fluenza in the weeks after.

With age comes wisdom, a couple bucks and falling in with people who rent condos.

What I got in at 6:00AM before going to the show:

1)  Leg Press, high reps, feet narrow, shoulder width and wide
2)  Leg Curl
3)  Standing Calf Raise
4)  2 minutes of cardio (bike, Elliptical, treadmill)

I repeated this 6 times with no rest between exercises and followed up with stretching and light meditation along with mantra and positive affirmation.  15 minutes later I sipped some Lean Body Protein and 20 minutes after that took a few chugs of Gatorade, which contains sucrose and dextrose for recovery and energy.

My positive waves were nearly immediately destroyed as I walked to the Convention center and overheard a frat boy trying to explain to another frat boy what Wreck It Ralph was and he didn't understand.

Check out former Mr. Olympia and near San Diego resident Frank Zane training, 90's style:

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Get To Da Comic-Con'do! Arnold Forever

It has begun!  San Diego has once again been invaded by "weirdos" (because bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars is so much less note worthy than a handsy, sexual harasser mayor) for the annual gathering and celebration of creative and popular arts.

And who is a big name at the show?  Why the King of Kings himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger!  The Austrian Oak will be on hand with bromantic partner Sylvester Stallone on Thursday to introduce a screening of their new film, Escape Plan, which marks the first pairing of a duo that defined cinema and leading men for a decade.  Sly plays a prison break expert who is sent up and needs Arnold's help to bust out and find out who set him up.  I saw the flick at a test screening last year and it was good times, a definite popcorn showcase for both men.

Lionsgate/Summit's booth was absolutely nuts with at least three different lines running for Hunger Games pins, tee shirt printing and poster/promotional item giveaways for HG, Ender's Game, Red 2 and EP.  A few feet down the floor was another Arnold-centric booth albeit much less crowded announcing the 3D release of 1987 classic, Predator.  Apparently, if you pre-order the Blu-Ray, you will have your face laser scanned, 3D printed to existence and placed on a Predator statue as his decapitated prize...

Over here.  Anytime.  Sexual Tyrannosaur.  Chopper.  Big as a house.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Gotta Drank! Callender's Grill

If you thought Marie Callender's is known for pies, well, you'd be right but they also have some great Happy Hour specials!  The Miracle Mile location on Wilshire has specials all night and all day Sunday.  $2.00 off all drinks, which includes some tasty Martini's and Mojito's and $6 bites like nachos, sliders and more.  You're also right next door to the La Brea Tar Pits.  Did you know La Brea means The Tar?  So you're saying, The The Tar Tar Pits?  Yup... Anyways, the open grass offers a peaceful reprieve and an instant date night.

For Last Action Hero, the filmmakers moved the Tar Pits to Long Beach for an extended action sequence that begins at a funeral:

Nights of Wonder...Con! Part II: The Annihilation

San Diego Comic-Con is nearly here (Does the Leonardo dance)!  Tomorrow, Preview Night kicks off the 44th annual Mecca of creative arts and popular culture.  2012's show spoiled me with Jackie Chan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Michael Biehn, Thomas Jane and Michael Jai White among many more appearing on panels and the show floor.  Superstar artist Jim Lee cut me off as I entered a room for a panel about himself!

The last big show was SDCC's sister show, Wonder Con, held in Anaheim in March.  Among random swag, I picked up some dusty LaserDiscs for a buck each, the vinyl sized sleeves make for great decorations.  Also on display is a figure of Dutch Schaeffer, Arnold from Predator, complete with The Austrian Oak's likeness!  This year I'm on the hunt for the new figures of Hicks (Michael Biehn of this post's fame) and Hudson (Bill "The Vette gets'em wet" Paxton) from Aliens.

Let's party like the weirdcoolest guy on the planet:

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Gotta Eat! Gyu-Kaku

We've all paid for a meal we didn't feel justified the price.  This past weekend, not only was the price justified, it was a damn bargain that defeated our party.

11 of us invaded Gyu-Kaku where we ordered some group platter that ended up consisting of edamame, cheese wontons, dumplings, fried chicken, rice, noodles and this man hole sized plate of meat.  It was advertised to feed 7-10 and boy did it ever!  Two boxes of take home later and we all wanted to pass out!

Gyu-Kaku has great happy hour specials daily (all day Monday!) and their Spicy Tuna Volcano is scrumptious.  Luckily, the meat coma didn't knock me out for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Summer Cinema: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

It's been a damn good week and with Comic-Con looming, the hits will keep on coming!

After a gargantuan dinner, my day of origin festivities continued at The Cinefamily's Turtle Power Pizza Party with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and it's sequel, The Secret of the Ooze on the big screen.  What a way to Shell-ebrate, Heavy Midnites really outdid themselves.   Each goer was welcomed with a bandanna eye mask for their favorite Turtle (In life I'm Leonardo in blue but ended up being Raphael in red for the night) and the Turtle Power Music Tour playing on screen.

Outside, a bar was serving TMNT themed beverages, Turtles In Time the video game was playable on a big screen TV, dishes of homemade, bubbling ooze center pieced cocktail tables and a photo op backdrop all complimented the 50 pizzas being gobbled up.

Host and programmer extraordinaire Phil welcomed us all and after a few hilarious trailers, it was time to be taken back to 1990.  Watching TMNT on the big screen again after 23 years was an absolute joy.  It's hilarious, funny and touching while featuring some solid martial arts and ninja on ninja action.  I was truly surprised at how well constructed the film is for an independent, low budget comic book flick about human sized, radioactive turtles trained by a talking rat fighting evil ninjas in New York.  

Comic book movies of today should take note.  The film builds up the reveal of the turtles over two quick scenes and when Leonardo jumps into frame in all of his Jim Henson Shop glory, you're not thrown off or asking about their back story, you're already in the action and along for the ride with Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael.  We don't need no stinking 45 minutes of character development here!  We quickly learn the personalities of the foursome as Leo is the level headed reluctant leader, Donatello is the scholarly thinking one, Michelangelo is the fun one and Raphael is the angry/moody one that says "DAMN!" a lot.

Years ago I attended a midnight screening of TMNT at the New Beverly and Kevin Eastman, who along with Peter Laird created the comic, introduced the film and told a few stories about how the heroes in a half shell came to life.  It was truly inspiring to hear how two guys, influenced by the rash of teen and ninja comic books of the 80's, created their own property which became a worldwide phenomenon.  Particularly amusing was the tale of that stemmed from the duo washing dishes, Eastman sticking his hand into a grater and thinking of villains who would use it.  Laird chimed in, "not The Grater, but, The Shredder" and history was made.  They self published the first run and it took off from there.  Now we have had cartoons, movies, comic books, toys, video games, live arena shows and a mess of promotional items coming out consistently since the 80's.

If you've only seen the cartoons or later movies, reading the comics can be a bit of a trip.  They're frigging nuts.  The turtles fight Shredder, robotic Mousers, get teleported to another world, fight aliens that look like dinosaurs and so much more in the first issues.  A couple Decembers ago, Eastman brought his home studio to Meltdown comics for a 30 day exhibition where he sketched and signed a new collection of the comics from IDW.

I've always wondered why New Line never released a fully loaded, special edition DVD.  Along with The Nightmare On Elm Street series, TMNT helped build the house that would later birth franchises like Rush Hour, Blade and The Lord of the Rings.

Check out this vintage making of, complete with VHS static and distortion:

Friday, July 12, 2013

Wake Up With The Greatness

1)  Arise at 6:00AM
2)  Go for a run/workout
3)  Watch selected scenes from Last Action Hero while drinking protein shake

You have now awoken and started your day with The Greatness!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Optical Illusion: DMX

They say watching movies makes kids violent, for me, listening to DMX does.  Well maybe not violent but I'm definitely more amp'd up than I was before.  The foundation for any solid DMX tune includes:  dogs barking, machine gun fire, cursing and screaming.  So imagine my confusion when I saw the following:

Brain..not...computing...DMX...can't be...calming?

Back to the yelling and the cursing:

That's My Motto

"You know what's really cool?  Being cool with yourself."

It's the simplest yet most difficult thing to do isn't it?  But when you know who you are and know what you like, people around you pick up on it and in this case, send you stuff because it reminded them of you.  Today I am the fortunate recipient of a Limited Edition, Complete Original Motion Picture Soundtrack of Big Trouble In Little China by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth.

Big Trouble is one of those movies people either:  Love, Have Never Seen or Don't Get.  I, fortunately, got it and love every minute of it.  In what  would be the 4th of their 5 collaborations, star Kurt Russell and director Carpenter give us their most fun and kinetic collaboration.  It's a buddy/action/adventure movie filled with kung-fu fighting, Chinese mysticism, sorcery, monsters, quotable lines, James
Hong, Victor Wong, Chinese food, the Asian Eric Bischoff, mullets, tall leather boots (for men), plaid suits, Al Leong, knife throwing, expanding henchman, Raiden's father (Get over here!) and big rig drifting.

Carpenter produced some of the most iconic and atmospheric music of the 1980's.  Halloween, Assault From Precinct 13, Starman, Escape From New York, BTILC and so many others have some of the coolest and catchiest themes in cinema.  The two disk set boasts 20 tracks with another 2 as       bonus and an insert booklet with filled with facts, history and quotes from Carpenter himself.  It's Asian tinged synth with some rockin' guitars for  back bone.  The title track features Mr. John Carpenter himself on vocals.

King of King of Fighters: Anderson Silva

This past weekend's UFC 162 marked the end of an era.  Undisputed middleweight champion and pound for pound greatest fighter in the world today, Anderson "The Spider" Silva was knocked out by challenger Chris Weidman.  Many a fan relished the sight of the king of kings being taken out while clowning around in the Octagon.  Was he too old?  Too slow?  Had the sport passed him by?

Nope, he just lost the hunger.  Like any band that starts out exciting and raw, after a few successful albums and endorsements, what is there to be hungry for?  Here's a guy who hasn't lost a bout since 2006, went undefeated in TWO weight classes in the UFC and is pushing 40 with a wife and kids.  Sure he's had some lackluster showings but there have been plenty of snooze fests in the UFC.

This past Saturday, The Spider employed his usual antics but this time they backfired.  Will the loss refuel his fire?  I doubt it.  The guy has been fighting a long time and put on some of the most exciting displays of martial arts prowess, accuracy and creativity we've ever seen.  He just doesn't need it anymore.  And he probably hasn't blown his earnings on an extravagant lifestyle that will require him to keep fighting into old age and humiliation.

How anyone can dispute his claim to be one of if not the greatest boggles the mind.  Let's take a quick look at his UFC history, shall we?

Destroyed Chris Leben who was on a 6 fight win streak.
Destroyed champion Rich Franklin who was on an 8 fight win streak.
Seemingly in trouble against arguable contender Travis Lutter, who didn't even make weight, comes back and takes it with ease.
Destroyed Nate Marquardt who was on a 6 fight win streak.
Destroyed Rich Franklin again.
Destroyed Olympic wrestler and Pride Fighting Championships favorite Dan Henderson.
Jumps weight class for shits and giggles, destroys James Irvin.
Was in no trouble against Patrick Cote (who injured his knee mid-fight) who was on 5 fight win streak.
Coasts to an easy decision win over Thales Leites, who was 5 fight win streak.  Sentiment begins to turn on the champion.
Jumps weight class, destroys former champion Forrest Griffin who runs out of the cage in embarrassment.
Coasts to another win against Demian Maia, who was 12-1 going in.
Gets pushed to the limit by Chael Sonnen, submits him just to prove a point.  Bandwagon fans rejoice that this could be the beginning of the end for the champion.
Destroys former champion, Vitor Belfort, who was on a 5 fight win streak, with a frigging front kick to the face supposedly taught to him by Steven Seagal.
Destroys perennial title contender, Yushin Okami, who was 10-2 in UFC.
Destroys trash talking Sonnen again.  I wish he'd beat up on him more.
Jumps weight class to save UFC 153 main event and destroys Stephan Bonnar who was on 3 fight win streak.
Clowns and gets caught, loses to Chris Weidman.

Other contenders?  Fedor is great but his resume isn't any stronger than Silva's and The Last Emperor was annihilated in 3 straight fights.  Chuck Liddell and his three straight KO losses?  Tito Ortiz didn't win a fight for five years.  Randy Couture with his gifted opponents and title shot?  Georges St. Pierre has never jumped weight classes and hasn't finished a fight in 4 years.

In the end, Anderson Silva didn't lose for 7 years, defended his title 10 times and only went to decision twice in his 17 fights in the UFC.

Yup, greatest of our time.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Gotta Drank! Nic's Beverly Hills

Working for a kick ass social media company is fun but usually requires having to hustle to a Happy Hour that ends at 7:00PM.  Fortunately, Nic's in the B Hills has it all day Monday.  It's more for food than drinks though with small plates of calamari (which was excellent and of the real variety, tentacles and all, no worries of rectum here), fries, oysters and a dozen more of the like go for $7 while a "drink of the week" and a wine selection or two are also discounted.  There are multiple nods to a POOL on site but I didn't see it.  Parking was found in a structure for a flat $5.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Summer Cinema: Armageddon

Everything goes in waves and cycles, right?  The ocean, fame, sports teams, relationships, training and eating plans, good luck, misfortunes.  Nothing gold can stay yet it can't rain all the time.

Same thing with movie programming around Los Angeles.  Recently, The New Beverly Cinema just didn't seem like it had things together.  Programs were only announced the week prior, special events and speakers seemed few and far in between and many of the films playing just plain didn't interest me.  Cut to last week and the triple threat of Last Action Hero, Armageddon and The Right Stuff reeled me right back in.  Unfortunately, seeing The Right Stuff on the big screen just wasn't meant to be as work, life and a hangover kept me from attending.

Not so for Michael Bay's 1998 recruiting ad for Nasa and so much more, Armageddon.  After chips, tacos and margaritas at El Coyote down the street (I really should take more pictures, I happy hour as frequently as I see movies!), it was time to take a trip back to the good ol' 90's.  I remember going to Driver's Ed and letting a friend borrow the soundtrack to Armageddon that summer.  I'm sure the members of Aerosmith remember that summer well, their "Don't Want To Miss A Thing" was everywhere and that album sold something like 3 million copies.

It was surprisingly yet not surprisingly kind of empty inside.  Say what you want about Michael Bay but Bad Boys, The Rock (Michael Biehn as a Navy Seal alert!) and Armageddon are all top notch examples of why we go to the movies.  Big, glossy, filled with movie stars, explosions, jokes and thrills.  As he would showcase the Air Force in Transformers in the 2000's, here, Bay puts the slick, smart and determined spotlight on The National Aeronautics and Space Administration.  The members of NASA, led by Billy Bob Thornton, are the good guys of Armageddon.  They discover, assess and react to the threat of an asteroid heading towards Earth.  Meanwhile, the military is shown as a bunch of macho posers who do nothing but bark, come up with shitty ideas and get their asses killed dead.

I was surprised at how much of the flick works, it's a disaster movie from the 70's on PED's (Performance Enhancing Drugs, steroids is too general a term used by uneducated low foreheads) with a large, memorable cast of characters played by wonderful actors (Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Owen Wilson, Steve Buscemi, Michael Clarke Duncan, Peter Stormare...).  On some level you know it's all impossibly implausible (oil drillers sent to space to drop a nuke into a potentially world ending asteroid...actually it sounds less ludicrous than trying to explain the plot of I Come In Peace...)but it's also incredibly fun and exciting.  Strangely, the scenes that fall flattest are the emotional anchor types with Affleck and love interest Liv Tyler.  The stakes continue to rise and saving the world is far from a cake walk.  Plus, if you don't feel a little something at the end during the Affleck/Willis or Willis/Tyler scenes, well, you're just too cool for this school.

Now, if someone could just screen The Rock.  Until then, enjoy this clip of a Russian Astronaut.

Fun Sponge Cinema: This Is 40

Once upon a time, Judd Apatow made entertaining movies.  Sure, they go on too long but The Cable Guy (underrated!), Anchorman, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Step Brothers and Pineapple Express among others are uniformly funny, well cast, frugally yet handsomely produced good times.  At some point, like the Farrelly Brothers, he started to get a little soft and audiences stopped caring.  Funny People, The Five Year Engagement and This Is 40 took on more realistic aspects of relationships and family and box office receipts dried up.  Why?  Because the fun had been sponged out and replaced by first world melodrama.

At least Funny People was a change of pace for Adam Sandler; the tale of a man seeking redemption and lost love in the face of possible death.  It had heart (thumps chest, Matthew McConaughey/Jean-Claude Van Damme style).  Five Year Engagement had it's fun moments as it surprisingly dealt with the conundrums of circumstance and opportunity and their sometimes negative effects on a growing relationship.

This Is 40, however, was just painful to watch.  Or rather, it was annoying to watch.  From Leslie Mann's high pitched bitching to making Paul Rudd boring (no small feat because he usually exudes weird/nice charm) to a plot that really goes nowhere and ends with, "we're all crazy and that's ok".  You couldn't have gotten to that in less than 2 hours?

The good times: