Knee-jerk review: "Opening Ceremonies of XXX Summer Olympics"

1. Of the two, we prefer the Beijing opening in 2008.  Even with its vaguely threatening show of socialist uniformity and conviction.
2. Danny Boyle looks like the weird high school chemistry teacher you made fun of behind his back.  But the guy has talent.  Trainspotting's overrated, though.  Sorry, film geeks.  Slumdog Millionaire is the masterpiece.
3. On one hand those glowing blankets that kids had are very space-ace cool.  We kind of want one.  But on the other hand, how can you go to sleep with your blanket glowing right in your face?
The forging of the giant Olympic ring?  And then how it floats up and joins the other four rings?  Genius.  Drama.  Goose-bumps.
4. Enough, Ryan Seacrest.  Enough.  Please.
5. We begrudgingly give respect to the James Bond-Queen Elizabeth II gag.  If only because it seemed like something so impossible to pull off given the stature of Her Majesty and what would imagine would be her refusal to do such a thing.  But we hated the animated Churchill statue.  Too Disney.
6. What's the deal with the enormous Ferris wheel with the round glass bubbles?  How scary must that be to ride?
7. Can someone tell us definitively: is David Beckham really a good soccer player or not?
8. Beware the army of the flying Mary Poppinses.  We think that was a line in Shakespeare somewhere.
9. Sorry, NBC.  Not only did we fast-forward as much as possible through the unending parade of nations, but we fell asleep through most of the part we had to watch in real-time.
10. For us, the Rowan Atkinson bit just didn't fit with the import and pageantry of the Olympics.
All of the filmed bits made the ceremony feel a bit like the Oscars.  Maybe it was how Atkinson morphed himself into Chariots of Fire.  That hasn't been funny since Billy Crystal did it in, like, 2002.
11. And by the way, for the record we're still irritated that Chariots of Fire, a movie no one we know has ever seen, beat Raiders of the Lost Ark for Best Picture.
12. NBC ran a montage of past Summer Olympic posters.  Los Angeles 1984 didn't make the cut.  
13. Love that the torchbearer ran into the stadium through a line of the construction workers who helped build it.
14. At some point, doesn't someone at Ralph Lauren ask the guy sitting in the cubicle next to him, "Hey, shouldn't we have these American Olympic uniforms, like, made in the U.S.A.?"
15. Is it us, or did the pastoral cottage setting of the initial set-up seem like it ought to have a few Hobbits running around?
16. We respect Muhammed Ali, but we're not sure why he suddenly popped up to touch the Olympic flag.
17. Paul McCartney may look now strangely like an old woman, but there's nothing dated about "Hey Jude."  All of those thousands of people singing the "na na na" chorus was beautiful.
18. We're not ashamed to admit we always get a little emotional when the big stadium cauldron finally gets lit.  The moment here was a great one as many small urns slowly caught fire one by one then raised up into one single giant flame.


Knee-jerk review: "Ted"

1. This movie reminds us that the best thing about the 1980 flop Flash Gordon is Queen's catchy, over the top theme song.  It's pretty much downhill from there.
2. If you like "The Family Guy," you'll like this.
3. We do.  And we did.
4. This what they call a "hard R."  You'd probably have to go back to something like Superbad or The Hangover to find a movie this profane and this filthy.  It crosses the line several times.  And we mostly mean that as a compliment. 
5. Seth MacFarlane may be something of a comic genius.  We really don't understand people who hate "The Family Guy."  It's offensive at times, yes, but joke-for-joke there's few TV comedies so frantic and rapid fire.
6. We sometimes feel like we're getting a little too old for bathroom humor.  But then this movie goes and presents two of the funniest fart gags we've ever seen.  We could not stop laughing.  It's like were 10 again.
7. Not crazy about the contrived action-thriller third act.  It doesn't really fit the rest of the movie but we suppose the studio insisted.
8. Also not crazy about the lowlifes who wheeled in a toddler in a stroller to watch this movie.  When Ted was threatened at the climax, the toddler started crying.  Way to parent, people.  Our country is so screwed.
9. Even the narration by Sir Patrick Stewart is profane.  Yes, it's funny to hear Captain Picard's Shakespearean diction used for bad words.
10. Cameo by Lance Armstrong's testicle.  Yeah, it's that kind of movie.
11. They kind of wasted Joel McHale.  We've been a fan ever since we first saw him in those old Burger King spots.
12. Where's Tom Skerritt been?
13. It may not work with most audiences, but the movie's obsession with 1980s pop culture will resonate quite nicely with Generation Xers.
14. We like Mila Kunis, but we're not sure if we love her.  She just kinda is, don't you think?
15. Mark Walhberg on the other hand.  Gold.
16. Hilarious movie.


Knee-jerk review: "Savages"

1. Overheard leaving the theater: "Man, that movie sucked."
2. We disagree, but admit he might have a point.
3. For a movie too long by 30 minutes, it feels rather skimpy and unmemorable.  A nice diversion, but not exactly necessary.
4. Benicio Del Toro must surely be the least vain actor working today.  He never, ever looks good in his movies and doesn't seem to care.
5. If you're looking for a movie that deals in extreme torture and decapitation, this is the one for you.  In other words, it doesn't shy away from the more gruesome, icky elements of Mexican drug cartels.
6. And while it's not often that a movie shows this kind of graphic pelvis-grinding sex (in not one, but two scenes), we're not at all surprised that ambitious starlet Blake Lively chose to stay fully clothed.
7. Who wouldn't want John Travolta strutting around their movie?  Love him.
8. Once you have kids, glib and off-handed threats to children in movies no longer just ha-ha-ha wash over you.  They come off more like a sucker punch to the gut.  They're not funny or entertaining.
9. We were surprised how sympathetic and layered the two villains (Del Toro and Salma Hayek) were portrayed.  As ruthless as they may be, there is a reason and a logic and a purpose to why they do what they do.  Well done.
10. Much has been made of the "trick" ending, but we liked it okay.
11. You really shouldn't focus on the Blake Lively character.  She's the narrator, but her spoiled, petulant, rich-girl stoner lacks sympathy.  We don't understand why the two heroes are so into her, other than that it makes for a sexy threesome "free love" gimmick for the story.  Even her name ("O") is girly annoying.
12. The far more compelling story is the way this violent misadventure completely changes the hippie peacenik character played by Aaron Johnson.  This is a guy who goes to Africa to build water wells.  But when he tangles with the cartel that kidnaps his girlfriend, he soon finds himself participating in a torture murder.
13. Part of us fantasized that the rescue of Blake Lively would be so horrific for all parties involved (what they had to do to get her, what she had to endure as she waited) that by the time the heroes saved her, they'd all be so changed and scarred and soulless that their threesome romance would prove broken and they'd wind up going their separate ways.
14. No one would have guessed this is an Oliver Stone movie if his name wasn't on the the credits.  The Cheese Fry in 1995 got on a local newscast giving a pro-Oliver Stone soundbite while sitting in the audience of a Stone retrospective.  We're sure whatever we had to say was insightful and cleverly-worded.
15. We're rooting for Taylor Kitsch, who may be taking an unfair share of the blame for John Carter and Battleship underperforming.
16. We'll give is a solid C.


Jury duty cast of characters

The Cheese Fry recently waded into the deep end of the criminal justice system shark tank, spending a day and a half suffering through the tedium that is jury duty.  We weren't picked - the defense attorney excused us for what were surely some fiendishly devious reasons - but we certainly saw our fill of interesting people:

* The retiree sitting the jury selection room at 8am who had nothing to read.  He simply sat there and stared into space like a mental patient.  What's he going to do all day?  How is he going to pass the time?
* The frazzled single mother dragging along her three kids to the jury room.  She got a postponement apparently.  Extra credit that her middle son, who looked to be about 14, was wearing a top hat.
* The woman who admitted that her brother was sentenced to three years in prison and, when asked if the system treated him fairly, agreed that it did.  Some brother he must be.
* The deputy sheriff with the ridiculously huge beer gut.  Who's he going to stop?  If he can reach you, okay, you're probably going down.  But if there's any kind of footrace, we advise betting against him.
* The haggard, humorless, unflappable jury manager who ran through her orientation speech for what was surely the 9000th time.  She has seen it all and is not amused by your foolishness.  She even admitted that she's not seeing us.  She's just running through the script in her head.
* The disheveled guy who came to the jury assembly lugging a half-empty gallon jug of orange juice, from which he repeatedly swigged.  What's his story?  He battling scurvy or was there a sale at the corner market?
* The scruffy dude wandering past with the big spiderwebs tattooed on his elbows.  Why?
* The little old Asian lady and the middle-aged Mexican fellow who pretended to not speak English as a way to get out of jury service.  We are skeptical, albeit impressed at their ability to stick to their me-no-speaka character.
* The shlubby and shabby defense attorney who seemed unable to pull that necktie tight to his collar or keep his shirt smooth and pressed.  Contrasted to the button-down defense attorney who looked like she just stepped out of the pages of Cosmopolitan Counselor.
* The two middle-aged women who somehow found each other and proceeded to develop an annoying suburban comedy act of giggly commentary on anything and everything.  No one else found it as amusing as them, including even the elderly man with the hand palsy who somehow got recruited to serve as their McMahon-style sidekick.  He deserved better.
* The two slightly trashy twentysomething women visiting the courthouse in what could only be described as micro-shorts.  So much for the dignity of the court.
* The very elderly woman with painfully skinny arms and legs trying in vain to look young by tying a scarf around her neck.
* The jackass oaf who slouched and mumbled to the judge that he simply could not believe the testimony of law enforcement because of his own multiple bad encounters with police, which of course involved an assertion of his 3rd and 4th amendment Constitutional rights.  He needed video evidence to convict, of course. One of those. The dialogue between him and judge over the definition of the term "hearsay" was comedy gold.  You can't make this stuff up. What a maroon.  He was excused.
* The bald deputy sheriff standing around the hallway with sunglasses perched on his forehead like it was a banker's visor.  If that's not bad enough, he then carefully adjusted it several times so it would sit properly.  Did we mention he was inside?
* The angry, loudmouthed retiree dressed like a bag lady who apparently missed all of the jury orientation and so simply showed up late, walked to the jury manager, waved her paperwork, and shouted "What do I do with this?"
* The soft-spoken woman who explained it's God's place to judge, not hers.
* The Israeli woman utterly incapable of entertaining the idea that people charged with a crime are not automatically guilty.  She couldn't even imagine a hypothetical situation in which she or her kids were wrongly accused.  In her country, you see, it's only the wise judges who render verdicts, not "the common man."  She was excused, obviously.
* The android-like court reporter who seemed to attain some kind of weird Zen state where she simply stared into space as her fingers moved.