Monday Morning Critic – X-mas Edition

On tap this week:
— Brittany Murphy is dead….where’s her Oscar?
— I got The Goods….do you?
— End of the year shenanigans
And slightly much more!

One of the things that have been bugging me is all the retrospectives about the decade. Nuts for nothing, as we’re rolling one out for January 2010 (keep your eyes open), but with the sports moments they always come back to one moment:

The autistic kid torches another team for like 20 points during mop up time like four years ago. Sports Illustrated put it on theirs, as did a couple others I saw online, and I don’t doubt that ESPN will have it on theirs. Don’t remember it?

Here’s the CNN story on it, courtesy of the awesomeness of embed that is You Tube:

This is the thing that keeps bugging me: it’s not like he was full on disabled. He’s highly functioning. The guy can run, jump, et al, and do everything a normal human being can. He’s just not right upstairs, like the guy who hears voices telling him to kill people or people into the Twilight series. Their “special” in their own way, I suppose. But how is it a significant athletic feat of the decade?

The dude has all four limbs and isn’t crippled; he should be able to do what he did. Granted it was pretty cool that he caught on fire and torched the other team for 20 points, but we’ve seen that before in high school gyms all across the country. Kids come off the bench and have that one special moment when they’re the best player on the floor. Just because the kid has a little autism doesn’t mean he can’t function; the kid “highly functioning,” so I’m presuming that shooting a basketball isn’t exactly the same as performing high level physics. So don’t act like this is some sort of great achievement.

If he had like no arms and legs, and was shooting with his stumps, I’d be all about it. Or if like he had one leg and hooks for hands, or was born with like minimal brain function, I’d have no objection to it. But he could run up and down the court without a problem and just was a little cognitively challenged. So how is this something more noteworthy then a CNN piece about James McElwain that he’ll look back on in 20 years and go “wow, that was awesome” I have to wonder.

There have been so many other great athletic accomplishments this decade that a team using its student manager in a game to really show up the other team isn’t really noteworthy in my book. But then again, thoughts like these kept me out of the good colleges.

Random Thoughts of the Week

Celebrity deaths are always sad, especially with Brittany Murphy passing around the holidays. Losing a loved one is always the worst around the holidays; I lost my grandfather last year around this time and it hurt significantly more because of the holiday season. With less then a week before Christmas, this has to be a real blow to her family. And with no movies coming out this year, it really kills her Oscar chances.

Listen to me now and believe me later.

Her corpse may not be cold already, but death is easily the best thing to happen to a minor celebrity or B-level actor. Heath Ledger doesn’t win an Oscar for The Dark Knight, nor does he get nominated, if he doesn’t die. One of the things no one said, but everyone should’ve agreed with, was that Ledger’s nomination would’ve been a long shot without his death. He was amazing and deserved the Oscar, for sure, but without death he’s just another good actor who gets overlooked because of the genre he’s in. Ledger got nominated for Brokeback Mountain, should’ve gotten one for Casanova, but won for the film that would’ve been his acting peak and thus oft-ignored by all that mattered when it comes to awards season.

Being great in a comic book movie is the same like being great in an action film, or a comedy. If it isn’t a drama, usually released in the last four months of the year, that’s usually the sole criterion for being nominated. The Academy goes out of there way to enforce that unwritten rule every year, which is why you see so many actors doing prestige pictures that normally wouldn’t; Jim Carrey does a dramatic role that screams “give me an Oscar” because no matter how good he is in a comedy, he’ll never get nominated for playing the title role in Ace Ventura. It’s the kiss of death to have a great acting performance in a movie that doesn’t meet the slim criteria the Motion Picture Academy usually judges the best of a cinematic year by.

Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, Luke Wilson and any other top comedic actor will never get nominated for an Oscar unless they do a dramatic role in the same way that Christian Bale won’t get one for an action film. It has to be drama and it usually has to be at the end of the year, and without a dramatic role Murphy will be just another montage shot in the “dead actors roll” of the Oscars in March. Too bad Ms. Murphy didn’t have a “give me an Oscar” film in the can when she died of a massive, possibly drug induced heart attack. Next year, when her last big film (The Expendables) arrives in theatres, it’ll be more of a footnote then a coup de grace for her career.

She’d have been a shoe-in.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s DVD – The Goods

the goods

Sometimes you just need a good, filthy R-rated comedy to cleanse the pallet. And after the stinkfest that was Avatar this weekend, I couldn’t fathom spending any more money at the theatre. Thus I grabbed the first comedy off my DVD rack of movies that haven’t been watched and thus The Goods is this week’s comedy.

I already reviewed it right here if you want an in depth look at it the first time around I saw it.

And if you’re in a bad mood, this is perhaps the foulest way you can find a “pick me up” via the grand gift of cinema. Filthily crude, and checking in at just under 90 minutes, it’s the best R-rated comedy of the year and well worth picking up.

Strongest 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

Alvin and the Chipmunk: The Squeakquel – Jason Lee’s Earl money has officially run out.

Skip It – The first one was putrid, expect this one to suck even more.

It’s Complicated – Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin get divorced, he gets married to Amanda Peet, and then starts seeing the ex-wife on the side. Steve Martin is also trying to get in on the action.

See It – With a cast like this, you can’t argue against it.

Sherlock Holmes – Robert Downey Jr. is the titular detective, assisted by Jude Law, as Guy Ritchie creates another franchise for Downey to star in.

See It – Robert Downey Jr. is approaching Russell Crowe/Denzel Washington territory in that anything he’s in is always good. This shouldn’t be any different.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – Heath Ledger’s last film role.

See It – Heath Ledger was an always an actor who treasured indie roles, doing studio pictures for the paycheck. That was obvious by the roles he picked, as he did a handful of indie roles in between films that were backed by the studios. I always admired him for that; he was an actor that probably passed on more roles then he took because it was always about the art. It’s a testament to his character as a human being that three actors had to fill in for him after his death. If you can see it, do so.

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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