Monday Morning Critic – 10.12

monday morning critic 10.12: couple’s retreat, zombieland, malin ackerman

On tap this week:
— A midsummer night’s horrible joke
— Eddie Murphy is old. Officially.
— Going into the house
And slightly much more!

Ever go to an Oktoberfest party? I did this weekend at the urging of some friends of mine. I joined my friend Gen, her husband Brian, Gen’s buddy Shelly and her fiancée Yuri for this night of hilarity. It began with the People of Wal-Mart entertaining us. This should’ve been a sign that the night was going to be amusing on any number of levels.

We had gone under the impression that it’d be a big, German-themed party at a bar with a bunch of young people in the same manner of St. Patrick’s Day. Except we’d be celebrating a country that invades France every 20 years or so by plowing ourselves with liquid refreshment and culture appropriate food with a group of people within our own age bracket. There’s an amazing amount of people whose families came from Germany in the greater Chicagoland area so I thought it’d be an evening of chugging beer, doing shots of Jägermeister and making Holocaust jokes to people in Lederhosen. What did we get when we got there?

A conference hall filled with people with an average age of 70. It was like going to a Matlock fan convention, except without the smell of Icy Hot and with lots of Polka music. And shockingly Lederhosen were nowhere to be found. I was shocked at that, as I thought Oktoberfest was supposed to be filled with all of the accoutrement of Germany: Lederhosen, David Hasselhoff records, Nazi Memorabilia and the like.

There was a plus: Jägermeister girls. Insanely hot and scantily clad, they gave our table an impressive amount of swag. It, however, couldn’t deter the insane amount of old people gathered in one place. Usually hot young girls bring out the usual meatheads and mouth breathers who wear Affliction T-shirt and drink to reckless abandon. That’s what ethnic festivals in this country are made for: rampant alcoholism and cheeky shenanigans.

It did inspire me, though, and I think this idea is the one that officially earns me a one way trip to Hell. Shelly was wearing nearly all black and I had a moment of inspiration around all these old people. I asked Yuri if he could get a scythe. Yuri is originally from Belarus and I figured if anyone had an ancient tool used to thresh wheat he would. Plus he’s a funny guy who was thinking it as well, except with a thick Russian accent, so he knew what I was going to say before it came out. He said no and I asked his fiancée. Gen and Brian looked at me odd as I explained what I was thinking.

“Well, if we get her a scythe and put a hoody on her with white face paint, all the old people will think she’s the angel of death coming to take them away. I bet at least three will die of heart attacks on the spot. Any takers? You’re getting 3-1 odds, over under is 2 1/2.”

I thought it was funny, as did Yuri and to a lesser extent Brian. I further argued that we could cover the costs of beer and food by this awful, awful exercise in gambling by expanding it to the other side of the bar. Shelly and Gen…not so much, though they did chuckle before being a bit mortified. I thought it was good because Shelly could pull off Bengt Ekerot’s most famous character but then again it’s thoughts like those that kept me out of the good colleges.

Random Thoughts of the Week

With the news that Eddie Murphy isn’t going to be playing Richard Pryor in the biopic about the “Picasso of our generation.” Marlon Wayans, the first pick in action flicks for the “comedy sidekick of color” role and star of anything his acting family decides to make, is replacing him. And while this isn’t shocking, as Murphy seems to be favoring children’s fare to begin with, the more adult role like the seminal comedian would seem to be a vanity project for Murphy.

In the same way Beyond the Sea was for Kevin Spacey’s affinity for Bobby Darin, Murphy playing one of the greatest comics of all-time seems like one of those lifelong projects one attaches oneself to. He did cast Pryor and Redd Foxx, his heroes, in Harlem Nights mainly because of his own hero worship of the two. But it’s amusing that Eddie has been replaced with someone who has half the talent and no where near any of the box office pull. Murphy may have had a number of flops in the past couple years but for the bulk of his career he’s been able to get people to see his films.

After Imagine That, I can imagine that perhaps Murphy’s box office clout has been damaged as a serious actor. But the thing that’s amusing is that, for all his faults, Eddie Murphy has finally had something be held against him that isn’t his own fault for once: he’s gotten old.

One can talk about how Wayans might be a better fit, etc, but I can’t keep stop feeling that Murphy is getting pushed aside for younger talent merely because he’s gotten old. He has laugh lines and looks a bit aged from the 20 something that was insanely funny in Beverly Hills Cop and 48 Hours. He can play the father in family comedies because he looks like a guy who should have older children at this point.

He’s pushing 50 now and he’d be limited in playing Pryor without tremendous makeup or CGI. Pryor was 65 and lived hard; he looked at least a decade older then what he was because of it. Murphy has taken remarkable care of himself but he’s almost 50 and looks his age. It is not an insult, it is reality. For his age he still looks great (unlike a lot of his contemporaries) but it’s sad in a way.

Murphy was the last of the big superstars of the 1980s to really start to age. Arnold and Stallone look like they have been ridden hard and put away wet, as do most of the really big stars of that era. He was one of the few that still looks closest to what he was in his mid 20s, if obviously a bit aged, but like an actress who hits 40 he’s being replaced by the younger, better looking model. And it’s kind of sad.

Welcome to the brave new world.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s Film – House, M.D (Season 1)

house s1

If you made Sherlock Holmes into a curmudgeonly doctor addicted to pain meds, you’d have Dr. Gregory House. And it’s spectacular.

House, M.D is a medical drama starring Hugh Laurie as the titular character, a crippled doctor working in a teaching hospital heading up a specialty unit. He’s the best diagnostic physician out there and heads up a team that tackles the toughest of the tough cases that come in. House heads up a team of top notch physicians in specialty fields to crack these cases, but not always in time. Throw in an Oncologist best friend (Robert Sean Leonard) and you have the beginning of an interesting dynamic.

I haven’t been watching the show from the beginning, but with the power of the USA television network and Hulu over the past two years I’ve seen the entire series, if only piecemeal wise. But, with a little extra cash and an opportune visit to Best Buy, I picked up the first season and mowed through it. In order to really watch a show I think you need to watch it from Episode 1 forward, I’ve always thought, but then again I’ve never been able to just sit down and come midway into anything. And the first season of House, M.D is insanely brilliant, as Hugh Laurie pulls out an acting clinic.

Strong recommendation.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

Law Abiding Citizen – Gerard Butler’s family is brutally killed. Jamie Foxx gives the perpetrator a sweetheart deal. Butler decides it is payback time to the entire system.

See It – Saw it a couple weeks ago, quite a nice little thriller. Review will be up later in the week.

The Stepfather – The nice guy from Nip/Tuck is really a serial killer who delights in marrying women with kids, this time with the dork from Gossip Girl, then slashing everyone up into nice little ribbons.

Skip It – Another horror remake that didn’t demand it.

Where the Wild Things Are – Spike Jonze takes a break from watching guys kick each other in the balls for fun and profit to put to film the children’s tale.

See It – Jonze got authorization and approval from the book’s author to put the film together and everything looks amazing so far.

Black Dynamite – A washed up former NFL player stars in an homage to a ‘70s blaxpoitation flick.

See It – If anything, this should fall into the “so bad it’s good” category.

New York, I Love You – A love letter to the city of New York from the people who did Paris, je t’aime.

See ItParis, je t’aime was an interesting film that aspired to be wildly different. Seeing New York in the same light ought to be worth the $10.

Do you have questions about movies, life, love, or Branigan’s Law? Shoot me an e-mail at and you could be featured in the next “Monday Morning Critic.” Include your name and hometown to improve your odds.

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