Friday, December 11, 2015

Top 10 Quotes: "Home Alone"

1. Marv: "Santy don't visit the funeral homes, little buddy."

2. Gangster 'Johnny': "Keep the change, ya filthy animal."

3. Kate: "Heather, did you count heads?"
Heather: "11, including me. 5 boys, 6 girls, 4 parents, 2 drivers, and a partridge in a pear tree."

4. Harry: "I think we're gettin' scammed by a kindy-gartener."

5. Kevin: "Bless this highly nutritious microwaveable macaroni and cheese dinner and the people who sold it on sale. Amen."

6. Kate: "This is Christmas! The season of perpetual hope! And I don't care if I have to get out on your runway and hitchhike, if it costs me everything I own, if I have to sell my soul to the devil himself, I am going to get home to my son."

7. Gus (while trying to make Kate feel better about forgetting Kevin): "I did leave one [his kid] at a funeral parlor once. Yeah, it was awful We were all distraught, the wife and I. We left the little tyke there in the funeral parlor all day. All day. And we went back at night, you know, after we came to our senses. Apparently he'd been there alone all day with the corpse. But he was okay. You know, after 6-7 weeks, he came around and started talking again."

8. Kevin (after flipping through Buzz's copy of Playboy): "No clothes on anybody! Sickening!"

9. Peter: "How am I supposed to shave in France?"
Kate: "Grow a goatee."

10. Buzz: "Is it true that French babes don't shave their pits?"
Rod: "Some don't."
Buzz: "But they got nude beaches."
Rod (exasperated): "Not in the winter."

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Brothers DeLuise on 21 Jump Street

Posting this recap because family is such an important part of Thanksgiving. Hope everyone enjoys their day of eating turkey and being together!

In the Chapel squadroom, Peter DeLuise's real younger brother Michael, sporting almost-shoulder-length hair and old clothes, is sound asleep (and snoring). His feet are propped on Doug's desk. Judy pokes him in the shoulder a few times, but he doesn't move. McCann rouses their guest and asks what he's doing there. Michael rubs his eyes and gives the obvious answer, "Sleeping." McCann tells him he can't do that in the Chapel. "Why not?" asks Michael, "This seems as good as place as any."

Judy tells Michael there's a homeless shelter down the street with "clean beds and everything." Michael says he belongs here. Judy and McCann exchange a what-the-hell-is-this-guy-on look. McCann tells him the Chapel is only for cops and criminals. Michael flashes his badge and explains he was told to report to the Chapel. Judy is embarrassed and apologizes. Michael shrugs, "No apologies needed, I like churches." He introduces himself as Joey Penhall. Given this episode's title, there's no way that's a coincidence.

Judy says they already have a Penhall on staff. When Joey explains that he's Doug's brother, Judy's expression shows she's never heard of him before. She asks if he's joking. Joey says earnestly, "No, I don't think so. Unless my dad lied." Brains clearly do not run in the Penhall family, even though looks certainly do.

Fuller comes in and shakes the hand of Jump Street's latest addition. Doug arrives and wants to know what everyone's looking at. "Hey, big brother, long time, no see," Joey greets. Doug shocks everyone present by punching Joey square in the face. Fuller catches the rookie before he hits the floor. Theme song.

At Casa de Penhall, Doug is cooking dinner and Clavo is coloring at the kitchen table when they hear a knock. Doug opens the door. Joey has a nice bruise on his jawline and admits he had "a knuckle tattoo coming." Doug wonders what Joey could possibly want; Joey wants to catch up. 

Clavo appears and asks who Joey is. Joey eyes the kid and asks if his brother has "a wife or two." "Not anymore," says Doug. Joey introduces himself to Clavo, shakes his hand, and asks what his name means. "It means...nail," Clavo says slowly, still unsure of his English. 

Joey's eyebrows almost disappear into his bangs: "Ya named yer kid Nail?" Doug shortly explains Clavo is his nephew. Joey asks, "Who named him Nail?" His mother did, obviously. Doug demands to know what the hell Joey is doing at his house.

Joey ignores him and keeps talking to Clavo. He asks what being Doug's brother makes him, relative wise. "It makes you nothin'," Doug says angrily. Joey asks to come in. "Like I got a choice," Doug responds. Joey steps inside. Doug gives Joey he has 5 minutes. Joey isn't sure he can fill his brother in on 5 years in that amount of time.

"Why don't you start with yesterday and work backwards?" Doug suggests. Joey recently graduated the police academy and requested Jump Street because Doug is the only family he has left. And let's be honest, with his baby face, Joey would've ended up there anyway. Doug understands, "All the bad stuff is over, [so] you wanna be brothers again...Pop was dyin' and you just left.

Joey protests that he didn't know how to handle it; he was 15 at the time, just a kid. Doug fires back that he was 17, AKA not much older. He grew up fast being left behind to watch their father die of alcoholism. Doug didn't know how to handle the situation either, but he didn't run away. Joey agrees that he was always the troublemaker, but he changed; he's a cop, fer cryin' out loud. Doug reminds him that a lot of cops aren't great at being people. Joey repeats that he wants to be back in his brother's life.

Doug sighs and delivers a nice monologue about how he's waited a long time for Joey to come back and tap his special knock on the door. After Joey ran off, Doug hardly left the house because he was afraid of missing it; he used to think about what kind of speech he'd give, then he decided he couldn't forgive Joey. He never wanted to hear his brother's special knock again. "You shoulda put in a doorbell," Joey sasses. Doug growls, "You're a riot. Get out."

As Joey is bodily pushed out of the apartment, he begs for another chance. He has nobody except for Doug. "You got no brother," Doug says before slamming the door in his face.

In Fuller's office, the captain meets with a worried father, Mr. Morgan. His teenage daughter Stephanie is missing and apparently "got sucked in with a group of crazies called Heaven's Family." Fuller understands they're a religious group. "They're a damn cult is what they are," says Mr. Morgan. Fuller explains that cults are protected under the law as religious organizations. Mr. Morgan asks if that rule applies when the group is involved in things like drug trafficking.

Fuller assembles the officers in the squadroom. He needs a volunteer because the cult assignment will be a 24-hour-a-day role. Whoever goes undercover will have to completely give up their personal life. Joey offers to take the case, "seein' as how I got no pending engagements with relatives or friends." It's an obvious jab, but nobody comments. Fuller tells the rest of the team they'll be researching background information on Heaven's Family.

Joey enters the Heaven's Family house and is greeted by a brunette named Rachel, who looks a lot like the missing girl Stephanie. Joey explains that he saw the EVERYONE WELCOME sign. Rachel offers him a glass of punch and they go in another room to drink it. Did nobody ever teach Joey what can happen if you drink the literal Kool-Aid?

Rachel asks if Joey is from the area. "Sorta...If you call sleepin' in a doorway down the street livin' around here," says Joey. Rachel asks if Joey has any family. He honestly replies, "None that wants anything to do with me." Rachel understands and invites him to stay for dinner. Joey thinks she's asking him out and agrees.

Later, everyone sits in the living room eating fried chicken and mashed potatoes off paper plates. Rachel explains the Heaven's Family philosophy: replacing all the hate in the world with love. In their society, there's no hate, greed, or loneliness and "we give our love freely." Free love, huh? I'm getting a very Charles Manson vibe.

The next day, Joey calls Fuller from a phone booth to say he's going to the Heaven's Family camp for a weekend retreat. Fuller doesn't think it's a good idea; nobody told Joey where the camp is. Fuller points out that's because they don't want anyone to go looking for him. Joey's no sucker and dismisses the Family's beliefs as "hocus-pocus, lovey-dovey crap." Fuller tells him anyone can get lured in by a cult.

Joey reminds the captain he can't follow the narcotics lead if he doesn't go. Rachel comes over to say the bus is leaving. Joey quickly pretends he's talking to his Aunt Anne, hanging up with a sweet "Don't cry on the phone, it makes me ill." Like Rachel won't be suspicious after Joey told her that he's estranged from his whole family.

A school bus bumps its way down a country road, stopping at what looks like a sleepaway camp. A crowd of people swarm the bus and hug the passengers as they disembark.

In a dining room filled with long picnic tables, Heaven's Family chows down on rolls and salad. Joey asks, "When's the protein comin' out?" Rachel explains that they're vegetarians and grow their own organic produce. Is that what they call marijuana these days? Joey wants to know how the compound is paid for. Rachel says they sell flowers, arts and crafts, and clothes. A man named Joshua calls for attention and welcomes everyone on behalf of their spiritual leader David. Can anybody say "Waco"?

"It's hard to be a young person in this world today," he starts, "How many of our guests today can honestly say, 'I have love in my life?' I mean real love, pure love." Nobody raises their hand. "That's what I thought," says Joshua, adding that society and the planet cannot survive if people don't accept love and reject hatred.

At the Chapel, Mac brings Fuller a computer records check on Heaven's Family. They're clean, except for one thing. It seems that Mr. Morgan filed a report at another precinct about the group running a prostitution ring. The investigation was dropped for lack of evidence. Fuller wants to talk to Mr. Morgan again. 

In the dining hall, the Heaven's Family members put their arms around each other and sway to religious music. Joey breaks away and sits down, fanning himself. He checks his watch. Rachel comes over to get him back in the circle. "It's 3 AM. Don't you people ever sleep?" Joey asks. Rachel chuckles that Joey's cute, kisses him, and pulls him to his feet.

Joshua enters the mens' cabin, singsonging, "Morning brings a new day! A new day brings more love!" The others join in as they wake up. Joshua tries to get Joey out of bed. "It's 5 AM!" Joey bellows at him. Joshua tells him that an hour spent sleeping is an hour wasted. "If you don't mind, I'd like to waste about 8 more hours," says Joey. Joshua practically dumps Joey out of his bunk bed.

Joey joins the rest of the cult on the lawn, where they're doing jumping jacks. Joey wears out faster than a recent police academy grad should, but I'll chalk that up to lack of sleep. There's a montage of them singing more hymns, playing Red Rover, and making wreaths.

The Heaven's Family kids sit in a circle on the grass and talk about their lives. Rachel's father never loved her, just his job. When her best friend died of a crack overdose, Rachel's dad said he didn't have time to help her deal with her grief. 

The others' stories are similar. A black boy describes being beaten by a gang. A redhaired boy with glasses was beaten by his father. A girl was sexually abused by her father.

Joey isn't sure he wants to unpack his emotional baggage just yet, but eventually starts talking: "My old lady died when I was 4, actually, she killed herself. Starting when I was about 6, my pop, he started drinkin'...boozin', uh, a lot. By the time I was 15, he was really sick. The doctor said it was too late; his liver was almost gone. Me and my brother, we didn't know what to do." No teenager would. Hell, sometimes people's adult children don't know how to cope. Joey ran away right after that.

Joshua asks if that's what led Joey to Heaven's Family. Joey goes on that he's been living in hotels or on the streets for the last 5 years, moving around a lot. He came back home, got a job, and tried to reconnect with his brother. The reunion didn't go as planned, which I'm sure they can tell by the nice bruise. Joey thought Doug would welcome him with open arms "instead of a clenched fist."

Joey wraps up, "When I was a kid, I thought the only thing family was for was to share pain. That was the only thing I knew growin' up. 5 years on the street changed my mind about that; 5 minutes with my brother changed it right back." Rachel comforts him that Joey has a new family now.

In Fuller's office, the captain questions Mr. Morgan about the false prostitution report. Mr. Morgan asks them to understand. Doug understands that he lied again to get Heaven's Family investigated. Mr. Morgan is upset because, "They took my little girl away." Fuller is sympathetic, but, legally, there's nothing he can do.

Mr. Morgan blames himself: "All I was givin' her were material things. I wasn't givin' her love; no one was." Yeah, Rachel is definitely really Stephanie Doug asks what that has to do with anything. Mr. Morgan explains how cults "find some kid who isn't getting any love from her own family and then they take the place of the family." The significance of this statement is not lost on Doug, who immediately looks guilty. Fuller is concerned too and orders, "Pull Joey outta there."

Back at the compound, Joshua initiates new members into Heaven's Family. They repeat after him that will symbolize their acceptance of love and rejection of hate by rejecting their old names. Rachel kisses Joey and says, "Welcome to Heaven's Family...Abel."

Doug and Judy arrive at the camp; Judy found the address by looking up the land deed. Doug tells Joshua they're looking for Joey Penhall. Joshua assures them they don't know anyone by that name. Doug asks if he has to tear apart all 20 acres to find Joey. Joshua says they're welcome to do so if they have a warrant; Heaven's Family isn't involved in anything illegal. He's sorry they wasted their time and wishes them a peaceful trip home.

Doug grabs Joshua and says they're not leaving without Joey. "What if I don't wanna leave?" Joey asks, appearing suddenly. He informs them his name is Abel now. Doug tells Joey to drop the act; these people aren't dealing drugs like they thought. Joey knew that from the start. He wants to stay there because he feels loved. Doug tells Joey they can still fix their relationship and tries to drag him to the truck. Joshua shouts that trying to kidnap Joey is a felony. Judy herds Doug back into the driver's seat.

Around the table in the Chapel, Doug asks if anyone has any ideas about getting Joey out of the cult. Judy asks how deprogramming works. Fuller tells her the cult member is kidnapped and locked in a room with someone trying to get through to them. But kidnapping is still a felony and "we stop kidnappings; we don't do 'em." Mac asks what Fuller would do if it was Kip. "Whatever you do, I don't wanna know about it," says Fuller.

Doug tells Fuller he needs the interrogation room over the weekend to talk to a suspect. Judy already cancelled her weekend plans.

The next morning, Doug and Rachel stand in front of an office building trying to sell flowers to passersby. Joey's sales pitch needs a lot of work. Suddenly, a champagne colored panel van makes a screeching U-turn. Doug jumps out of the passenger. Joey tries to run to Rachel, who's on the next corner. Doug and Mac tackle Joey. Joey swings at them a few times before Mac can handcuff him. 

Rachel drops her bundle of flowers when she hears the commotion, crying, "Abel! Call the police! They're kidnapping him!" Mac and Doug toss the still struggling Joey into the van. Rachel puts her hands over her mouth in horror.

Doug fireman-carries Joey into the Chapel's interrogation room. Judy handcuffs the younger Penhall to the radiator. Doug requests that his coworkers go next door and get Joey a cheeseburger. Judy and Mac leave. Doug asks Joey if he's hurt. 

"Joshua warned me about you. He said you'd try to do this," says Joey, "He said you'd try to get me to reject David's teachings." "He's right," Doug says, "You're my brother, Joey." Joey retorts that his name is Abel and stares at the wall. "That's so intelligent," says Doug, "I say something you don't wanna hear and you just clam up and don't listen." Doug throws a chair against the wall, smashing it. 

His voice gets louder, "You are gonna listen to me. You are gonna talk to me!" Doug slaps his baby brother in the face. That'll get him to see reason, all right. Mac comes in just as Doug gets ready to hit Joey again; he tells Doug to take it easy. Doug gripes that he might as well be talking to the wall. Mac gives Doug a paper bag and suggests, "See if he's hungry. Give him somethin' to eat." He asks if Doug wants him to stay, but Doug says he'll be fine. 

Doug unwraps the cheeseburger and offers it to his brother: "Come on, I read about this stuff. That's how they weaken your mind; they deprive you of protein." Joey keeps looking the other way. Doug puts the burger back in the bag and leaves it in case Joey changes his mind.

In the squadroom, Judy and Mac play Go Fish. Fuller tells them that Heaven's Family has reported a missing boy whose description matches Joey. Mac hasn't seen Joey for a week. "Um...neither have I, I guess," mumbles Fuller. Much like Art on Justified, he's probably wondering how he keeps getting himself in these situations.

Meanwhile, Doug tries another tactic, "You get sucked into that b.s. cult, it's just like runnin' away. You ran away from Mom's suicide, Pop's drinking, from me, from life. You're a coward." Joey glares at him and says, "I didn't run from anything; I ran to something. I ran to a better way of life. I ran to people who are capable of loving me." Also, to be fair, Doug also ran away for brief periods after their mom's suicide.

Doug asks who gets the money from the flowers Heaven's Family sells. Joey tells him it goes to the Heaven's Family Foundation to support its 5,000 worldwide members. Doug wants to know how many flowers they sell a day. Joey tells him most people sell 5 at $5 each. Doug does the math: 5,000 kids times $25 a day equals $125,000 a day (tax-free). Joey doesn't have to listen to this. "Not again," Doug mutters.

Joey is sleeping on the concrete floor and wakes up when the door opens. "Now that you got some sleep, you feel like eatin' somethin'?" Doug asks. He put the cheeseburger in the microwave and "it's better than fresh." He begs Joey to just have a little, kneeling down to his brother's level. Doug can't believe he's doing this.

"You know, Ma used to do this when you were a little punk just outta diapers," Doug tells him, "If it weren't for [Ma] force-feeding ya, you'd-a died of self-starvation by the age of 3." Doug jams the cheeseburger in Joey's mouth. Joey takes a bite but spits it right back out.

Doug sits next to Joey and decides to take a more sensitive approach. He tells him about what happened one morning all those years ago. Their father called Doug over to his bed, "tells me he loves me. That scared the hell outta me, Pop usin' the 'L' word. Then he calls me over closer, says, 'Where's Joey?' 'I dunno, Pop.' There's a long silence...just sittin' there...just him and me. 'You tell Joey, no matter where he is, I love him.' Those were his last words." Doug adds that he lost Joey once and doesn't want to lose him again: "I need my brother."

Joey finally speaks, "What was Ma like?" Doug tells him she was the best. Joey hardly remembers her, not surprising because she died when he was pretty young. He asks, "You bury Pop next to her?" Doug did. Joey wants to go visit their graves sometime. "Whenever you like, Joey," says Doug. Joey starts eating the burger.

This scene was absolutely beautiful. It has a lot of raw emotional impact. The love that Peter DeLuise has for little brother Michael really comes across. No high drama or hysterics, just slow realization on Joey's part that Doug really just wants the best for him. And Doug has realized how much he still loves Joey and needs to fix the situation so they can be a family again.

Joey makes a trip to the Heaven's Family house and sees the group leaving on another retreat. Rachel walks over to Joey and says she misses him. She invites him to go to the camp for the weekend. Joey suggests she stay in town with him, but Rachel says she can't. They share what will probably be their last kiss and Rachel hurries to join the rest of the cult. Joey watches sadly as the bus drives away. End of episode.

Monday, October 12, 2015

21 Jump Street and Disabilities

Since it's Disability Awareness Month, I thought I'd share a post from my sister blog about an episode entitled "The Buddy System." Expect an avalanche of posts this week because I'm on fall break.

Mournful piano music plays over a clip of students filing out of a school. A kid with curly red hair talks to his curly-haired mulleted friend about music as they walk through the woods. Beethoven put Mullet to sleep. Curly offers him another classical tape. Mullet tells Curly he'll be back after Curly sets up their hideout. It's obvious Curly is socially awkward, so I have a feeling that Curly is about to be the victim of a very mean prank. 

A police officer or security guard (I don't know which but the dude has a badge), Mr. Cousins, asks if Mullet has his money. Mullet swears Mr. Cousins will get it. The situation gets more hostile; Mr. Cousins starts punching the kid in the face. After the second hit, Mullet doesn't get up. Curly, hiding behind some trees, has witnessed the whole thing. He falls down a hill into view. Mr. Cousins chases him, but Curly gets away. Theme song. The opening credits reveal a new star has been added: Michael Bendetti. IMDB reveals 11 credits to his name, mostly guest spots on shows like Doogie Howser.

Next we see of Michael Bendetti, he's setting up his desk in the Chapel. Judy and Doug wonder who the new guy is. His desk, it transpires, will be next to Judy's. The officers introduce themselves; Michael's character is named McCann. Sidebar: That was last name of one of my favorite baseball players right up until he left Atlanta for the Yankees. McCann says he's from "here and there." When Judy asks about specifics, he responds, "Here, there, and everywhere." Wow, this guy's friendly...

Fuller summons everyone to his office for a briefing. The only lead on Mullet's murder is Curly. Curly is mentally handicapped and part of a mainstreaming program called The Buddy System in which handicapped teens are paired with underprivileged ones. The goal, according to Fuller, is to give the underprivileged kids "a sense of responsibility and the mentally challenged one a sense of fitting in." The victim was Curly's Buddy.

Fuller reports that Curly was noted as being terrified in the the interviewing officer's notes. He claimed he didn't see anything, but Fuller thinks he did. In a rude tone, McCann guesses he's supposed to be Curly's new Buddy. Doug suggests he or Judy could do it. "No offense, but aren't you guy getting a little too old for that?" asks McCann and remarks Judy hasn't seen 10th grade in a while. I officially don't like this character anymore than Booker. Judy offers McCann some Buddy System brochures; McCann says he doesn't need them. He claims in a monotone that he's thrilled to be on Jump Street. Judy thinks McCann is prickly. "That's almost the exact same word was thinking of!" says Doug. You and me both.

When McCann's gone, Judy wonders where Fuller finds these people. Doug has a theory: "You look young enough to get carded, you get tagged for Jump Street." He jokingly asks how long it's been since Judy was in 10th grade. "About as long as you've got to live," she jokes back, tossing an apple at him. Doug easily dodges it.

At the high school, McCann gets interviewed by Ms. Kline, the Buddy System's coordinator. In my head, she has a son named Kevin. Curly AKA Christopher comes in. Ms. Kline introduces McCann as Christopher's new Buddy. McCann offers his hand, but Christopher doesn't shake it. He doesn't want a new Buddy. Judy enters, posing as Ms. Kline's T.A.

McCann runs downstairs and tries to talk to Christopher. Christopher doesn't hear him because he's listening to his Walkman. McCann tells him they're assigned Buddies, like it or not, so "why don't you try to like it?" Bullying the handicapped, lovely. Christopher gets upset about being called Chris; he wants to be called by his full name. McCann apologizes; he knows how Christopher feels because he likes Mac better than anyone.

Ms. Kline walks Judy to her car; the older woman doesn't feel safe on campus since the murder. Mullet AKA Gavin wasn't gang affiliated, wasn't part of any cliques really. She's grateful for the presence of the school's security guard Robert. He's instantly recognizable as Gavin's murderer Mr. Cousins.

Robert walks into the empty guidance office. He puts a tape that Christopher dropped in the woods into a tape player. Unsurprisingly, it's classical. 

Fuller asks Mac how the case is going. Mac wants to know what the rush is; he's known Christopher for 2 days. Fuller's concerned that the killer may know there was a witness. Mac's strategy with Christopher will be turning up the charm. Doug laughs sarcastically. Fuller thinks they should talk to Christopher's parents; they're divorced and Christopher lives with his mom. Mac will talk to her under the Buddy guise. 

Judy suggests letting Doug do it. Mac wants to handle it; he knows the kid (yeah, after 2 days) and the mom might give up a clue that means nothing to someone who's never met Christopher. Doug promises to take detailed notes. Mac gets territorial; it's his case. Fuller tells the rookie they work as a team.

Doug and Judy want to know more about Mac's background. Mac was a beat cop in "New York, New Jersey, someplace like that." Doug thinks the boss is stonewalling them. Fuller tells them to go back to work. Doug wants to go back to the Chapel later and find out what Fuller seemingly doesn't want them to know.

Christopher admires some girls in the hallway. He knows their names are Claire and Tanya. Mac thinks Christopher should talk to them; knowing their names is a good start. Christopher says he gets nervous talking to girls. Mac has an idea: asking Claire and Tanya on a double date. Yeah, that oughta work. They catch up with the girls. It turns out they're both in the Buddy System too. Miraculously, they want to double date. Christopher looks like he doesn't know what to do now that they've said yes. He tells the girls he changed his mind and runs outside. Mac follows him.

Christopher is clearly upset and asks, "Why does everyone think I can't like regular girls?" Mac gets it; Christopher was more interested in Claire. Christopher describes Claire as prettier, nicer, and more fun. Problem is now she likes Mac.

Doug and Judy talk to Christopher's mom in the guidance office. They want to know how Christopher is doing at home after the shock of Gavin's death. Christopher's mom says he's been moody and withdrawn; Christopher really liked Gavin. She thought of Gavin as a good kid. He helped Christopher increase his mental age from 8 to 10. Christopher hasn't said anything about Gavin's death and stopped wanting to visit his friends at the school for "exceptional children" he used to attend. Mom asks Doug if Christopher will be safe. Doug says they'll keep an eye on him.

Robert goes to the music room where Claire and Tonya are doing homework. He asks if they know who the Beethoven tape he found belongs to. They don't, but will send the person to Robert if they find them.

At the Chapel that night, Doug and Judy tell Fuller they're staying late to catch up on paperwork. Once the boss is gone, Doug picks the lock on the file cabinet in his office and gets out McCann's file. Judy opens the folder and finds blank paper. Doug wonders why Fuller had Mac's records sent elsewhere. Just then, Mac comes in to look at the report on Gavin's death again. He sees his coworkers looking at a file with his name on it. 

Judy swears they didn't mean anything by it. Doug thinks they're entitled to know who they're working with. Mac says they're only entitled to know if he's a good cop. Doug wonders why it's so hard for Mac to befriend one kid and wants him off the case. Mac, of course, refuses.

The next day, Doug and Judy find Mac shooting hoops in a park. Doug tells Mac he thinks that they both said things they didn't mean. Mac challenges him to one-on-one. Doug's playing style is a wee bit too aggressive. He starts throwing hip and body checks. By the end of the game, Mac has a ripped shirt and a bloody nose. He says he hasn't been beaten up like that by anyone sense his older brother. Doug hasn't dished out that kind of beating since his younger brother. This is only the second time in 5 seasons that Doug's ever mentioned having a sibling. Doug adds that he doesn't talk to his brother anymore.

The two sit down and discuss their jock pasts. Mac's game, of course, was basketball; he made the All-City Honorable Mention list his senior year, which doesn't say a lot about his talent. Doug, as long-time readers know, played football. He tried to play basketball but fouled out all the time. 

Mac opens up about his law enforcement career. He was a beat cop in the notoriously safe (read: crime-infested hellhole) of Newark, NJ. He got assigned to a precinct full of cops on the take who didn't appreciate having an honest rookie in the station house. Mac was the first one through the door at a domestic disturbance call that turned out to be a setup and "took 3 hits." Doug is stunned: "They tried to kill you." Are we sure Mac was a cop in Newark and not Farmington? Mac couldn't even bring charges because he didn't see who shot him. That prompted him to move and not trust anyone but himself, both of which are understandable.

Doug reminds him that dirty cops are the exception, not the rule. Mac asks Doug for advice about getting Christopher to talk. Doug tells him not to push the issue. He shouldn't act like he's on a case and instead should "just treat people like...people."

Through the music room door, Mac watches Christopher play the piano; the kid is listening to his Walkman at the same time. Christopher thinks Mac is hassling him and explains he's allowed to be in the music room during his free period. Mac is amazed that Christopher knows how to play songs just by hearing them. The two decide to take turns playing the piano. Think HORSE but with music. Pretty soon, they're both having fun.

Judy goes to the park with three mentally challenged boys who are in the Buddy System. They ask her a lot of questions about what it's like to be a cop so she obviously told them what she does for a living. She wants to know if Christopher's told them anything interesting lately. They haven't seen Christopher in a while; they met him in the woods behind his school near some boulders and he seemed sad. Judy offers them a tour of a police station on Monday. They eagerly accept, though a boy named Brian seems upset that he can't be a policeman.

Robert takes a break from patrolling the halls of Patrick Henry High to watch Christopher playing the piano by himself in the music room. After school, Patrick enthuses about a tape Mac gave him to listen to; he could play the songs while Mac sings them. Christopher thinks Mac isn't such a bad Buddy after all. Mac says Christopher must miss Gavin. Christopher does and supposes "Gavin must've got in really bad trouble with that policeman." He saw Gavin fight with a policeman and that's who killed him.

Unbeknownst to them, Robert's car is parked nearby and he hears everything they're saying. Christopher doesn't want to tell Mac the name of Gavin's murderer and darts away. Robert tries to run Christopher over with his car. Mac attempts to shoot out the tires and misses. Christopher has escaped injury and keeps running. Robert stops his car and chases Christopher into the woods. Doug happens to arrive with his truck and Mac gets in.

Doug parks his truck when Mac points out Robert's abandoned car. The cops run toward the woods. Christopher has hidden himself in what looks like a duck blind. Roberts calls for him, promising not to hurt the kid. "Stop! Police!" Doug and Mac shout. Mac trips and falls, then tells Doug to go on chasing Robert. Doug stops Robert with a flying tackle. Doug takes Robert's gun and sits on the ground trying to catch his breath.

Further in the woods, Mac clutches his hurt leg. He gets up and limps toward Christopher. He tells the kid it's safe to come out and that he didn't lie to him for a bad reason. Gavin's killer wasn't a cop; he was a security guard and "real cops are supposed to help people." Mac asks Christopher to trust him. He know what it's like to be scared, but Christopher shouldn't be scared of trusting Mac. Christopher comes out of hiding and takes Mac's hand. End of episode.

I'm still not sure if I like Mac, but he did kind of redeeming himself by being genuinely nice to Christopher. I work part-time with the disabled and I'm familiar with the challenges it presents. However, it's all worth it knowing that the person you work with has at least one person they can depend on for friendship and kindness. 

It's also disappointing that they didn't reveal what Gavin owed Robert money for. Drugs? Gambling? Bootleg Beethoven tapes? The world will never know.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Longmire Rides On: "High Noon"

There's not a lot I can say about this episode without entirely spoiling a major plot twist. However, I will say it's one of the strongest episodes of the series. Deception and intrigue are around every turn. Walt is being accused of harassment and racism by Nighthorse, with Nighthorse alleging that Walt went as far as shooting at his house. A Boston-based law firm sets up shop in Durant and offers Cady a very generous salary to work there. They praise her work on the Henry Standing Bear case, expounding upon how much they could use the expertise of acn ambitious local woman with strong ties to the Native American community. Cady uncovers something disturbing on her first assignment, but she can't share the information with her father because she signed a non-disclosure agreement.

The investigation of Branch's death plows full steam ahead. Soil found in the rifle used to shoot Branch is a possible match to Nighthorse's property. However, a judge refuses to issue a warrant to search Nighthorse's house because of Walt's alleged harassment. The episode's final scene will have you on the edge of your seat as Walt confronts Barlow Connally. Gerald McRaney and Robert Taylor play their parts to absolute perfection. Shocking secrets are revealed and you won't see the final twist coming.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Guest Review: "Sleepy Hollow"


Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" was turned into an even stranger tale at the hands of Tim Burton! Brom Bones ends up getting whacked in both the book and the movie for making fun of the Headless Horseman.

In the book, Ichabod Crane was a schoolteacher, an ugly, unappealing schoolteacher at that. In this movie, Johnny Depp was neither ugly nor unappealing nor a schoolteacher. Instead, Ichabod was a Goth-looking Sherlock Holmes type detective. He was intelligent and much more appealing than the original character.

Katrina Van Tassel wasn't a witch in the original book or movie. She was cast as a sort of good witch, the counterpoint to her stepmother's evil witch character. The evil stepmother was a bit too Cinderella for me with a bit of Snow White thrown in because the Evil Queen was also a witch. There wasn't a stepmother in the book nor any living Mrs. Van Tassel. As far as I recall, Mr. Van Tassel was a widower who stayed that way.

The book and movie both give the same reason for the Headless Horseman's behavior: the misplacement of his own head. After the Horseman was beheaded during the American Revolutionary War, someone buried him with his head away from his body. He became a sort of pathetic but frightening restless spirit traveling around in search of his head and avenging himself on people who still have theirs.

Very creepy take on an old tale, especially the finding of the head collection under the roots of a very old tree.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Longmire Rides On: "War Eagle"

Spoilers ahead! This week's episode involved a touchy chapter in U.S. history, deception, and old wounds that just won't heal. Walt is called to the scene of War Eagle, a former Japanese internment camp, because some local teens partying there reported hearing Asian voices coming from a building. Walt and Vic immediately notice that the donation box has recently been broken into and a HAM radio tower has been erected. They find War Eagle's caretaker Thorvin Hampton dead on the floor of his office.

While investigating the case, Walt and Vic find out that Thorvin recently unearthed a family secret. His father, who had been a guard at War Eagle, impregnated a Japanese detainee. The woman gave birth and Thorvin began trying to get in touch with his illegitimate half-brother. Ferg eagerly pitches in to find out who Thorvin had been talking to. The deputy is no stranger to CB technology, having used it as a kid to keep in touch with his father, a long-haul trucker. Ferg, using the cute handle High Plains Drifter, contacts a woman who knew Thorvin. She's local, so Ferg and Walt head out to talk to "Sunshine Sally."

"Sunshine Sally" turns out to be a crazy turtle lady; she has live ones of all shapes and sizes roaming her living room. She had also "catfished" Thorvin by mailing him a picture of a much younger, thinner woman in a bikini. There's a funny bit during her interview when Walt catches a wandering turtle in his ever-present cowboy hat. Sally expresses being hurt that Thorvin ignored her when she introduced herself at a bar, but still talked to her every night on the CB. She even moved from Florida to Wyoming to be with Thorvin.

Walt and Vic locate Thorvin's half-brother, now an old man with dementia, who's being cared for by his daughter. His daughter is also resentful of Thorvin's efforts to restore War Eagle in order to turn it into a museum/tourist attraction.

Also in this episode, Walt deputizes Henry so Henry can handle evidence in Branch's case. The soil samples from Branch's rifle don't match the creek bed where his body was found, further proving it was not a suicide. A fingerprint check reveals Jacob Nighthorse to be not Jacob Nighthorse at all. Rather, he's Jacob Blankenship, a Native American radical who was once arrested for assaulting an FBI agent.

Vic has a flashback to her abduction thanks to the sight of a man carrying a baseball bat. Walt recommends she seek professional help for her PTSD. Not sure if she will follow Walt's sound advice.

Henry answers one of the letters addressed to Hector. It was written by a single mother whose neighbor is stealing money from her. He sees her in a grocery store, unable to pay for all the food in her basket because she doesn't have enough money. Henry employs a little psychological warfare when the man comes into the Red Pony. He slips a letter under the bathroom stall that reads HECTOR LIVES and scrawls the same message on the bathroom mirror with a Sharpie.

So who killed Thorvin? "Sunshine Sally"? His half-brother Francis? One of the teens who broke into War Eagle's donation box? Watch and find out!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Longmire Rides On: "Down By the River"

Thanks to my fellow members of the Longmire Posse and the good people at Netflix, us folks at home can once again ride along with the Absaroka County Sheriff's Department. If you haven't had a chance to watch Season 4 yet, this is your warning: SPOILERS AHEAD.

When we last left our heroes, Branch had a serious confrontation with his father Barlow. A gunshot rang out and the screen faded to black. The season premiere opens with Walt stalking across the prairie with homicide on his mind. He intends to kill Jacob Nighthorse, the man who hired a meth addict to stab Walt's wife Martha to death. Henry has followed Walt and convinces his friend not to go through with it.

Cady goes to her father, concerned that Branch isn't answering his phone. Walt can't get a hold of him either and senses something isn't right. He organizes a search party. Walt, Vic, and Ferg find a man's body in the river, dressed only in boxer shorts with a rifle by his side. It's barely recognizable as Branch. Everyone present is stunned. Suicide is initially ruled the cause of death due to the angle of the wound and the note Vic found in Branch's house. Walt, however, firmly believes that his deputy was murdered.

Meanwhile, Henry has signed over the Red Pony's deed to Malachi. Malachi is also now in charge of day-to-day operations of the bar. People are continuing to leave letters for deceased Cheyenne vigilante Hector, asking for him to intercede in matters such as abusive husbands and drunk uncles. Henry seems to be contemplating taking over where Hector left off.

The cast is in fine form, as always. Rookie actor Adam Bartley continues to show great potential in his role as Ferg. There's an especially heartbreaking scene where Ferg breaks the bad news about Branch to Cady. He chokes out that he doesn't know how he'll get through going to Branch's house to take back the fallen deputy's uniform and squad car keys. I cried myself watching it unfold.

The season's main story arc is intriguing. Even though I already know who killed Branch, it will be entertaining to see how Walt figures it out. I'm not sure how I feel about the implication that Walt and Vic could become romantically involved. However, I can easily picture Henry becoming the next Hector; after all, Lou Diamond Phillips did play one of the Lincoln County Regulators :-)

Boy howdy, what a start!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Colt Ford and Charlie Daniels Band at the State Fair

I will just come right out and say that country music is my least favorite genre. It seems to praise being drunk and ignorant, at least most of the stuff I hear on my local radio station does. There's always been one exception to that rule for me: Charlie Daniels Band. On a road trip to Ohio as a kid, my mom played one of their greatest hits CDs, and by the end of that weekend, I was a Charlie Daniels fan. Charlie can sing, play, and write some great songs. I saw him in concert at the same venue when I was 13 and he blew me away.

Last night, Charlie came by again and I went to see him. His opening act, Colt Ford, is somebody I had never heard of. I may not listen to country, but since I live in Kentucky, I can't help but be aware of who the popular artists are. I saw hordes of girls wearing Colt Ford T-shirts, which led me to assume he was young and/or attractive. When Colt stepped onstage, I immediately saw I was wrong on both counts. He was very overweight with long hair and a beard that could earn him a guest appearance on Duck Dynasty. 

I almost laughed hysterically when he started singing about cruising around getting girls to ride in his pickup because women were rushing the stage to get selfies with him. I guarantee that if they were approached by a man who looked like Colt but wasn't rich and famous and wanted to take them for a ride, they would run screaming in the opposite direction. They might even call the cops.

Lots of tiresome lyrics about huntin' fishin' and muddin'. I also learned that Colt is responsible for one of the most overplayed, terrible songs of the last few years "Dirt Road Anthem." I may not like country, but I still think he has a lot of nerve comparing himself to George Jones. In a different song, Colt compared his feelings for a woman to his love of chicken 'n biscuits, both of which he should probably cut out of his diet if he wants to live a few more years. "I love you like a fat kid loves cake" was not a complimentary sentiment when 50 Cent sang it; making it about different food items and singing it with a Southern twang does not improve upon it. The only song I didn't absolutely hate during his set was his cover of "Lose Yourself" by Eminem.

When Charlie Daniels hit the stage, the crowd went even wilder, as well they should have; he's a living legend of country music. His set wasn't like what he played back in '03, which featured everything from Lynyrd Skynyrd covers to his own music. Last night's concert consisted mostly instrumental jamming, terrible solo projects his band members wrote, Dylan covers, a Johnny Cash cover, and a drum solo that went on entirely too long. Charlie did play a handful of his standards: "Long-Haired Country Boy," "The South's Gonna Do It Again," and my all-time favorite "The Legend of Wooley Swamp." The finale was the guaranteed crowd-pleaser "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." Even though Charlie is 78 years old and had a stroke a few years ago, the man can still play the hell out of a fiddle and a guitar.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

"Vacation (2015)"

Remaking a classic movie that so many people love and quote is a very risky idea. I tried to keep an open mind, figuring it wouldn't surpass the original but might be a fun new take on the story. The premise is that an adult Rusty, now an airline pilot, wants to take his family on a cross-country road trip to Walley World. His wife Debbie and sons Kevin and James do not want any part of this adventure. With a foreign made rental car called the Prancer standing in for the Family Truckster, the Griswolds hit the road.

Along the way, they stop at Debbie's alma mater Memphis State and visit her old sorority Tri-Pi. Rusty learns that his wife's sorority nickname was Debbie Do Anything. In Texas, they visit Audrey, who is now living on a ranch and married to a local weatherman played by Chris Hemsworth AKA Thor. There are a lot of shenanigans that happen in between Chicago and Walley World.

The good: Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo make a cameo appearance near the end. Christina Applegate as Debbie is a great Ellen to Rusty's Clark. Walley World still looks like a cool place. I thought Rusty's scrapbook spanning all the various movies was a nice touch.

The bad: This movie is guilty of showing the majority of the funniest scenes in the trailer. The actors who played Rusty's sons were obnoxious, which makes it very difficult to enjoy the movie since they're in almost every scene; the younger brother mercilessly bullies the older one. Self-aware jokes like "This will be different. In the original vacation, there was a boy and a girl. We have two boys."

Stick to the Chevy Chase version.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

"Con Air"


My mom and I actually argued about whether or not I'd seen this before. She swears I used to watch it all the time when I was younger; I was confident that the only airplane movie I've seen is Top Gun. Having watched this movie all the way through, I can say I definitely never saw it as a kid because there are scenes that would've stuck in my mind.

The movie opens up in Alabama. Our hero, Army Ranger Cameron Poe (Nicolas Cage), has just learned that his wife is pregnant. While they're celebrating, he defends his wife against a couple of drunken thugs. He kills one of them and is sent to prison for manslaughter. 8 years later, Cameron is paroled; his release date just so happens to be the birthday of the daughter he's never met.

Cameron is put on an ancient cargo plane to go back to his family. He's joined by an assortment of convicts, most of whom seem to be on their way to supermax. This flight is being carefully coordinated by U.S. Marshal Larkin (John Cusack). Cameron's fellow cons are a charming bunch: a serial killer Cyrus "the Virus" (John Malkovich), a serial rapist nicknamed Johnny-23 (Danny Trejo), a militant black man Diamond Dog (Ving Rhames), and spree killer Billy Bedlam (Nick Chinlund). Also along for the ride is Cameron's cellmate Baby-O (Mykelti Williamson).

Besides being desperate, Cyrus is also booksmart and cunning. He stages a mid-air riot. The rest of Cyrus's merry men incapacitate the guards and hijack the aircraft. It's now up to Cameron, the only honest man on board, to save the day.  

I wouldn't call myself a Nicolas Cage fan, but I greatly enjoyed his pitch black turn as a paramedic in Scorcese's Bringing Out the Dead as well as his performance as a wizard in Disney's The Sorceror's Apprentice. He does a great job of making Cameron into a relatable "aw shucks" good ol' boy, but you can glimpse the combat trained, torture-tested interior. Steve Buscemi as Garland Greene is every bit as creepy a villain as Hannibal Lecter; equally terrifying in their roles are Nick Chinlund and John Malkovich.

The plot is pretty simple, but it's an action movie; it's not supposed to be deep. In fact, some of the worst action movies I've seen were ones that tried too hard to be clever and meaningful. Con Air's storyline really just provides an excuse to watch fight scenes and things exploding. And as bad as things get for Cameron, you know that good will eventually triumph over evil. 

Not only is this a suspenseful action movie, for TV crime drama buffs, watching Con Air can become a fun game of Hey, It's That Guy! The cast features two principal villains from Justified and other actors have played criminals on various shows over the years. Tell me how many you can spot in the comments.

Friday, June 19, 2015

"The Outsiders"

This Brat Pack-era movie is based on the novel of the same title by S.E. Hinton. The book was assigned reading when I was in 8th grade; back then, I called it the worst thing I had ever read. Years ago, I stumbled across the movie and decided to rent it because one of the stars is Emilio Estevez. He's one of my favorite actors and has made very few bad movies.

As a book movie, The Outsiders is extremely faithful to the original story; the same things happen to the same people and the characters' personalities and even appearances are just as the author described them. The movie takes place during the early/mid-1960s in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The basic premise is that there's a feud between the rich teenage boys who live on the north side of town and the poor ones who live on the south side of town. They're nicknamed the Greasers and the Socs (the latter I'm assuming is short for "socialite").

The movie focuses on the three Curtis brothers, who are also Greasers: Darryl (or Darry), Sodapop, and Ponyboy. Darry, played by Patrick Swayze, has just been hit with a lot of responsibilities he wasn't prepared for. Mr. and Mrs. Curtis died in a car accident and Darry became the legal guardian of his two younger brothers. The family can stay together as long as Sodapop and Ponyboy don't get into trouble; if they do, they'll be taken away from Darry and set to a boys' home. Sodapop (Rob Lowe) dropped out of high school and works at a gas station with his best friend; he's sensitive and hates it when his brothers argue. He can't take sides even though Darry and Ponyboy want him to. Ponyboy (C. Thomas Howell) is the baby of the family. He's book smart, but doesn't always use his head for common sense, something that annoys Darry to no end. Ponyboy is quiet and likes to read.

The Curtis brothers have a gang of friends they hang out with, guys they've known most of their lives:

  • Two-Bit (Emilio Estevez) sporting his trademark sideburns and hair greased into a pompadour. He's the clown of the group and has some great one-liners. 
  • Sodapop's best friend Steve. Steve wasn't a great guy in the book and Tom Cruise's portrayal makes him less likable and even more stupid (if you can believe that). I think the reason Steve comes across so stupid in the movie is because Tom tried to fake a Southern accent. He slurred his words so much he sounded more like he'd had a few too many drinks. The movie contains a bit of what I see as foreshadowing into Tom's later career. In one scene, Steve comes to the Curtis house for breakfast; he sits on the back of the couch and puts his feet all over the couch cushions.

To be honest, the first half of the gang is almost irrelevant. The ones you see the most of are Johnny Cade and Dallas Winston, played by Ralph Macchio and Matt Dillon, respectively. The character of Dallas is a far cry from the lovable, victimized husband that Matt played in You, Me, and Dupree and just a shade lighter than the racist, groping cop he played in Crash. Dallas isn't much older than anyone else in the gang, but he comes off older because of his attitude. Dallas more or less raised himself on the streets of New York City and has been in and out of jail for years. He has a scary personality and doesn't really care about anyone else...with the exception of Johnny Cade.

Johnny is sixteen years old and often mistaken for being younger because he's small for his age. Dallas and the others look after him because Johnny's parents are both abusive alcoholics. Johnny's skittish and almost never says a word. He hero-worships Dallas because he thinks Dallas is everything he'll never be; Dallas is tough, respected, feared, and always seems to know what to do. However, even though he idolizes Dallas, Johnny's best friend is Ponyboy.

Because of the many intricate layers of Johnny Cade, I imagine this was a tricky role to cast. Francis Ford Coppola made the right call in picking Ralph Macchio. I feel his acting abilities really shine in this movie. Ralph manages to come across as a shy, vulnerable person who's been dealt a bad hand in life without seeming like a self-pitying loser.

An innocent trip to the drive-in with Dallas culminates in an event that will change everyone's life, especially Johnny's and Ponyboy's, forever. They sit with two Soc girls and are chased by their boyfriends Bob and Randy for "trying to pick up on our women." They find Johnny and Ponyboy in a park. While Bob and Randy attempt to drown Ponyboy in the fountain, a couple of other boys kick Johnny. Cornered and frightened for his friend, Johnny pulls out his switchblade and stabs Bob to death. He and Ponyboy go to Dallas and tell him what happened. Dallas tells them to hop a freight train and hide out in an abandoned church a few towns over.

If you plan on renting or buying this movie, I recommend that you get the Complete Novel Edition. It contains a director's cut of the movie, which will help further explain things to those unfamiliar with the novel. There's a good making-of documentary, interviews with the cast, and funny DVD commentary. I found the audition tapes particularly intriguing; if some of the actors had been cast in one of the roles they initially read, the movie would not have been as good as it is.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

"Toy Story"

Image source

My friends in college have been routinely shocked by me uttering the phrase, "I have never seen Toy Story...ever." They were quick to tell me what I'm missing out on. There are two big reasons why I'm first watching this movie a full two decades after its release. The main one is that I remember seeing TV commercials for the movie back in 1995, but nothing about it jumped out at my 5-year-old self enough to cause me to beg my parents to take me to see it. (And believe me, I saw just about everything Disney released between 1992 and 2002 in theaters). I vaguely recall getting a remote controlled RC the Car from a family friend who had no idea I never watched the movie.

The second reason is that in my later childhood, I became (and remain) a Disney snob. Computer animation looks cheap and ugly to me compared to the hand-drawn cartoons of my youth. The only fully computer animated movie I have ever enjoyed is the first Happy Feet. Give me an old-school cartoon like Cinderella or The Emperor's New Groove any day of the week. I truly believe that getting involved with Pixar was Disney's downfall, because their other collaborations like Cars and Finding Nemo seem like they can only be enjoyed by very young children. Disney movies are supposed to be fun for the whole family.

A third relatively minor reason I never sought this out is my extreme dislike of Tom Hanks, who voices Woody. Ever since seeing the horror that is Forrest Gump, I have stayed far away from any movie he's had anything to do with. I think Saving Private Ryan is a masterpiece, but absolutely not because of him. He also did a fantastic job with Band of Brothers, as his role was confined to being behind the scenes.

I'd like to say that finally seeing this changed my entire view of the computer animated genre despite my prejudices. Don't misunderstand me, this is far from the worst thing Disney has ever done, but it's also not even close to their best. Though the human characters don't appear often, they are all distractingly ugly. The movie's other flaw is its godawful Randy Newman soundtrack. How could the studio that gave us Pocahontas the same year and The Lion King the year before miss the mark so badly?

The basic story is simple. A kid's toys come to life whenever he leaves his room. Cowboy doll Woody is concerned that his owner Andy's cool new astronaut action figure Buzz Lightyear (voiced by Tim Allen) will replace him as the kid's favorite toy. Buzz and Woody end up lost together and have a series of misadventures trying to get back to Andy's house before he and his mother move away. They don't like each other, but have to find a way to overcome their differences.

From an adult perspective, both of these toys have some mental issues. Woody is mildly sociopathic; he pushes Buzz out of a window to keep Andy from being able to play with him and doesn't seem to feel bad about it. Buzz Lightyear has delusions of grandeur and thinks he really is a Space Ranger on a mission to defend the galaxy; when he learns otherwise, he becomes depressed and at points catatonic.

I grew up loving Tim Allen in Jungle 2 Jungle, so it's no surprise that the character I warmed up to the most was Buzz. He really does make you feel for the plastic spaceman who can't fly and doesn't have superpowers. My second favorite character was the green army man voiced by the only man for the job: R. Lee Ermey. There were a lot of moments made me laugh out loud, particularly the part with the claw machine aliens at Pizza Planet. I enjoyed the inside references like Andy listening to "Hakuna Matata" in the car. The movie was fun enough to make me wonder if Toy Story 2 is any good. However, I am by no means a computer animation or Pixar convert.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Around (Walt's) World in 3 Days: Animal Kingdom & Conclusions

We kicked off our last day at Disney World with breakfast at Be Our Guest (I'm still amazed I was able to get reservations at all on Mother's Day). The food is overpriced ($20/person if you're paying out of pocket instead of using a dining plan), but the experience of eating in the Beast's castle is wonderful. There are 3 different themed dining rooms: the grand ballroom, a smaller ball room, and the forbidden West Wing. The attention to detail is exquisite; it's like stepping into the movie. 

I ordered a croissant/doughnut hybrid smothered in chocolate sauce and topped with caramelized bananas. Breakfast entrees come with a fruit cup on the side and 4 assorted pastries for the table to split. The miniature cinnamon roll was not quite as good as its counterpart at Gaston's. I didn't care at all for the bran muffin. The chocolate-drizzled croissant was tasty, but my personal favorite was the miniature blueberry muffin, which features a streusel-like topping made of white chocolate.

After touring the castle and taking tons of pictures, we boarded the bus to Animal Kingdom. I've loved going to zoos since I was a little girl and my expectations were high, given the general quality of Disney entertainment. Animal Kingdom left me sadly underwhelmed. The exhibits were nicely designed and the animals seemed happy, but there weren't enough of them. Rides are also in short supply, which leads to long waits everywhere.

Expedition Everest, the newest Disney coaster, seemed kind of short considering how long you have to wait. I wasn't aware the ride would go backwards and that part kind of jarred my neck unpleasantly. Primeval Whirl is jerky enough that Paul and I agreed it should be renamed Whiplash. The signs at the entrance of Kali River Rapids should probably say "You WILL get drenched," but I'm not complaining; it was fairly hot while we were there and it's a fun ride. Festival of the Lion King did not live up to expectations; it was a bit too Cirque du Soleil for my taste. Dinosaur was fast-paced with great jump scares, easily the best ride at Animal Kingdom. It's something else I wish we'd had time to ride more than once. 

Overall, our trip was amazing: not too hot, not too crowded. You can cram all 4 theme parks into 3 days if you absolutely must, but it will require sacrifice on your part. Paul and I got to each park about half an hour before opening and stayed until closing; rinse, lather, repeat. Even though I was being pushed around in a wheelchair, the schedule was exhausting.

On the off chance any cast members are reading this post, I'd like to end this post with some shout outs to the ones who helped make my trip magical:
  • Patsy at The Great Movie Ride: You were an energetic, awesome tour guide. You even remembered Paul and I when we came back late in the day for a re-ride! We were really glad we got to travel through movie history with you twice.
  • The older gentlemen at Magic Carpets of Aladdin: You let us go into the Fastpass line even though we didn't have Fastpasses for it. Your kindness was much appreciated.
  • The handicap attendant at Splash Mountain: I really wish I could remember your name! You told us we would get the VIP treatment and you delivered! It was really fun talking to you.
  • Food service workers: My boyfriend couldn't carry our tray and push my wheelchair at the same time. I was worried about spilling our drinks if I tried to hold it on myself (I'm clumsy). You were all more than happy to take our tray to a table (a few times, we didn't even have to ask). 
  • The host at Belle's Enchanted Tales: You noticed I was wearing a tank top with a Beauty and the Beast stained glass design on it, came up to my wheelchair after the show, and asked me, "Princess, would you like your picture taken with Belle?" I said yes and hobbled my way to the line. When it was my turn, you introduced me to Belle as a princess; it made me feel like a kid again!
  • Shop workers: Fantastic every place I went. One of the things I wanted to buy most was pretty specific: a small plush Figment doll. It took going to many places, but with your help, I was able to find exactly what I wanted. Every one of you made it a point to chitchat with me and all the other customers to make us feel welcome. It really is the little things that make you smile, like the woman at the shop near Gaston's, who offered me a Beauty and the Beast sticker. A gift shop worker at Pop Century threw in a Lion King sticker when I bought a Simba doll.