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Archive for the ‘Schadenfreude’ Category

Schadenfraude / Take Five: Pun Disses of “Year One”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on June 19, 2009

Year One

  • “Talk about a disaster of biblical proportions!” –Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News
  • “So simple even a caveman will appreciate it. Correction: Make that only a caveman.” –Michael O’Sullivan, Washington Post
  • “And the studio did open “Year One.” And the people did see it. And then the wailing and gnashing of teeth did truly begin, and the people did rend their garments once more, even those cute white capris that they just got at such a sale you wouldn’t believe.”-Stephen Whitty, New Jersey Star Ledger
  • “Its script isn’t worth the papyrus it’s printed on” / “THOU SHALT NOT SEE IT”-Kyle Smith, New York Post
  • Sets prehistoric comedy back at least 20 years.” –Stephanie Zacharek, Salon

Posted in Schadenfreude, Take Five | 1 Comment »

Schadenfraude: Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on October 4, 2008

This is not a good career move, my friend, I promise you

Please tell me you cringed when you saw the title, and then who was starring in it. I don’t care who you are–how twee you are on your tweest days, how much you like names that start with the letter N (or references to The Thin Man), or how hopelessly underrated you believe Bishop Allen to be–please tell me the title of this movie made you die a little inside when you realized it was gonna be the next big step in Michael Cera’s career. Cera, as I’m certainly not the first to point out, is the closest thing this generation has to a John Cusack–the puppy-dog adorable loser who just cares about things a little too much, and who is too loveable for any mean-spirited soul to begrudge his inevitably getting the girl at the end.

But even John Cusack had to move on at some point, and it’s going to be exceptionally difficult for Cera to move into the Grifters and True Colors phase of his career if he keeps making movies like Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Seems like in every role Cera takes, he’s a little meeker, a little more emotionally vulnerable and a little more easily bossed around than the last one, and in the previews for Nick and Norah, all he seems to do is get yelled at and taken advantage of by people with stronger willpower than he does. I mean, I’ll admit the movie’s general premise (two rebounding young’ns bond over identical tastes in music over the course of a crazy night in the New York wilderness) does sound like it could be pretty touching–I’m not completely dead inside just yet–but you just know it’s going to be diminishing returns from here on out until Cera mixes it up a little.

I was encouraged by the Village Voice’s exceedingly negative review of the movie, which basically confirmed all of my worst fears about the movie (“The only thing it’s an alternative to? Good.”) But alas, it seems that most critics have, fairly unsurprisingly, allowed themselves to become susceptible to the movie’s charms. David Ansen of Newsweek hopes that all teen movies would “be as sweet and seductive as [director Peter] Sollett’s smartly observed romance.” USA Today’s Claudia Puig finds the Vampire Weekend and Band of Horses-laden soundtrack “an excellent counterpoint to the film’s quirky scenarios.” And worst of all, there’s Travis Nichols of the Seattle Post-Inquirer, who tests the very limits of my gag reflex with his review, including the all-too-appropos quote “Who needs to go back to the polysyllabic spree of John Cusack channeling Nick Hornby when you have Michael Cera making awkward emo look so lovable?”

Well, at least Cera’s drawing a little less acclaim for Nick and Norah than he did for Juno, which was a little less than he got for Superbad, which was a little less than he got for his work in Arrested Development. And Cera himself has pooh-pooh’ed his potential involvement in a future AD full-length movie, saying that his fans probably wouldn’t want to see it (he’s wrong, but he should be right) and demonstrating that he at least has the capability to realize that sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. But hopefully the run of Nick and Norah will pass inconspicuously, without words like “sleeper,” “cult” or “MySpace Generation” getting attached to it, so that Cera will get no mixed messages about whether or not he should take that role he gets offered in Joey’s Magical Evening in Chinatown or Spencer and the Strip-Club Sweetheart next time out.

Posted in Schadenfreude | 6 Comments »

Schadenfraude: The Return of Chicken Little

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on August 26, 2008

The hearts of a million little old ladies, instantly dashed

Yet another unfortuante by-product of watching too much ESPN this summer is getting straight-up assaulted by previews for College, the latest cinematic perpetuation of the myth that if you have a miserable high school experience, you will be rewarded with unlimited beer, pussy and irresponsibility within 15 minutes of your arrival on university campus. Fair enough, but the movie looks absolutely dreadful, like yet another entry in the Van Wilder series without even the benefit of Ryan Reynolds (and/or Kal Penn) star power. Apparently it stars the guy from Drake & Josh (guess which one!), although having never seen a lick of the series that means relatively little to me. However, I recognized one face in the preview, a face that rang all sorts of bells in the very recesses of my subconscious. I couldn’t quite place it, but I know I had seen it before. Those glasses. Those beady little eyes. That pale skin. That protruding forehead. That nervous little twitch. Where had I seen it? Then I wiki’d it, and it was so obvious. Of course:


If you missed the 5th season of American Idol, you have no real reason to know who this person is, and more power to you for it (my advice would be to skip College, though as an IITS reader I’d imagine you’d have sense enough for that anyway). I personally didn’t even watch the whole thing–I had gotten hooked with S4 because my roommate Freshman year was super into it (Joey and Leno, his other two televisual vices, didn’t quite take), and without his enthusiasm feeding the process, I only made it about halfway through five before getting fed up with the patter, the filler episodes, and the lack of Bo Bice (I got your back now and always, Bo-seph–keep rocking those Badlands ballads and laughing at that loser Constantine Maroulis).

But Kevin Covais was one of the dramatic lynchpins of those early S5 episodes. In each Idol season, there tended to have one candidate that didn’t quite seem to fit–too young, too physically and/or socially awkward, too generally LOL-worthy. You imagined (s)he appealed to some sort of niche audience, some oppressed minority that wanted to make sure their representative got all the support they needed. Then you found out it was just that shadowy internet cabal Vote for the Worst was behind the whole thing, and a little of the magic was lost. Still, there was definitely some truth to the idea that, as Simon often so derisively suggested, the then-16 year old pipsqueak Covais (nicknamed “Chicken Little” due to his physicaly similarity to the title character of the then-hit Disney flick) appealed to Idol‘s nursing-home contingent with his nasally vibrato and interminably pinchable cheeks. Whatever the cause, it was enough to somehow get Covais into the top 12, at which point he became not long for this world. He was voted off shortly thereafter, and that was the last we ever heard of Kevin Covais.

Until now. Chicken Little plays one of the three friends visiting the titular educational phase on a weekend’s orientation, with craziness ensuing–something of the Christopher Mintz-Plasse to Drake’s Michael Cera and the fat kid’s Jonah Hill, I presume. Except compared to Covais, even McLovin himself is practically Zac Efron–there is no part of this kid that shouldn’t bring out the inner Revenge of the Nerds-era Ted McGinley in all of us. Don’t you just feel your fists balling up looking at him? It’s a rare talent, truly, but one that should only be reserved for when absolutely necessary. College is definitely not absolutely necessary.

Hopefully the film debuts of Sanjaya Malakar and Scott Savol will be far more auspicious.

(IITS might be taking something of a hiatus for the next week or so, as we move westward to sunny California for the last of our summer soujurns, possibly with an aching in our hearts)

Posted in Schadenfreude | 1 Comment »

Schadenfreude: The Love Guru & Katy Perry, Pt. 2 (Results)

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on June 25, 2008

“Hey, Obama won the primary and “American Boy” finally made the top 40, so things are looking bright all over for our country. A #3 or lower debut for The Love Guru and a sub-gold status for Katy Perry don’t seem all that unreasonable to ask for.”

“Get Smart, starring Steve Carell as title character Maxwell Smart, took in $38.68 million over the weekend, well above estimates by box-office predictors and Warner Bros., the studio that released it, according to final figures released Monday by Media by Numbers. The only other film to open wide, Paramount’s The Love Guru, starring Mike Myers, found little love among moviegoers as it debuted in fourth place with just $13.91 million. Meanwhile, the second week of Universal’s The Incredible Hulk slipped to second place with $22.14 million, while Kung Fu Panda, produced by DreamWorks Animation and distributed by Paramount, brought in $21.93 million in its third week. Meanwhile, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull returned to the top of the international box office for the third week with $25 million. The film has now taken in $392 million overseas versus $291 million at home. The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Media by Numbers (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):1. Get Smart, Warner Bros., $38,683,480, (New); 2. The Incredible Hulk, Universal, $22,136,060, 2 Wks. ($97,055,430); 3. Kung Fu Panda, Paramount, $21,934,716, 3 Wks. ($155,830,875); 4. The Love Guru, Paramount, $13,907,130, (New); 5. The Happening, 20th Century Fox, $10,482,146, 2 Wks. ($50,749,495); 6. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Paramount, $8,540,313, 5 Wks. ($290,961,044); 7. You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, Sony, $7,453,215, 3 Wks. ($84,308,418); 8. Sex and the City: The Movie, Warner Bros, $6,532,394, 4 Wks. ($132,452,769); 9. Iron Man, Paramount, $4,030,272, 8 Wks. ($304,816,141); 10. The Strangers, Universal, $2,122,410, 4 Wks. ($49,759,735).”


“As expected, Coldplay tops The Billboard 200 with “Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends,” which shifted a whopping 721,000 first-week U.S. copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

The Capitol effort sold nearly as many copies as the band’s other chart-topper, 2005’s “X&Y,” which moved 737,000. Only one other rock band has had a 700,000-plus week since the release of that effort. Last November, the Eagles‘ “Long Road Out of Eden” began at No. 1 with 711,000.


With a 69% sales decrease, “Tha Carter III” (Cash Money/Universal) slips 1-2 with 309,000 units. The soundtrack to the Disney Channel film “Camp Rock,” featuring the Jonas Brothers, debuts at No. 3 with 188,000. The movie premiered on June 20 and averaged 8.9 million total viewers according to Nielsen, making it the network’s second-most-watched original movie after 2007’s “High School Musical 2.” The multi-label “Now 28” compilation continues its decline 3-4 with 81,000 (39%), while Plies‘ “Definition of Real” (Big Gates/Slip-N-Slide) falls 2-5 with 68,000 (-68%). Selling 65,000, Usher‘s LaFace/Zomba set “Here I Stand” descends 5-6 with a 36% sales decrease. Flying up the chart 124-7, Rihanna’s “Good Girl Gone Bad” (SRP/Def Jam) experiences a 930% sales jump to 63,000; a re-issue of the 2007 album hit shelves with three additional tracks. Disturbed’s former chart-topping Warner Bros. set “Indestructible” declines 4-8 with 59,000 (-42%).

Capitol pop newcomer Katy Perry has a No. 9 start with her debut album, “One of the Boys,” which sold 47,000. The single “I Kissed a Girl” has been climbing its way up the Hot 100 and sits currently at the No. 2 spot, behind Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida.””


Posted in Schadenfreude | 2 Comments »

Schadenfreude: The Love Guru and Katy Perry

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on June 20, 2008

Revenge is a dish best ordered over the internet

A few days ago, I issued Pop Culture an ultimatum of sorts–It was me or The Love Guru, time to decide. So far, I appear to be fairly safe in my ground, as The Love Guru has but a 22 on composite review website MetaCritic. “Adam Sandler can breathe a sigh of relief,” says TV Guide. “Thanks to this crude, bafflingly unfunny comedy from fellow SNL alum Mike Myers, Sandler can rest assured that his “You Don’t Mess With The Zohan” won’t go down as the worst movie of 2008.” The New York Post is a little more clever about it, quipping “The Love Guru is even funnier than ‘Wayne’s World’ or ‘Austin Powers.’ Not.” And providing the drama is The New York Times, who says “The Love Guru is downright antifunny, an experience that makes you wonder if you will ever laugh again. ” It doesn’t necessarily guarantee poor box office, but at least I dunno if there’s been any movies in the much-dreaded below-25 regions of Metacritic scoring that have been outright hits.

More impressive, however, is how the critics have come to look askance on Ms. Katy Perry. I was nigh on positive that Perry, she of “I Kissed a Girl” fame (#2 song in the country, don’t you know) would court general acclaim from clueless types as the latest in the Lily Allen-Amy Winehouse lineage of quirky, world-weary, buzzworthy young female types, embracing her refreshing frankness and clever wordplay. Apparently not, as the album has a cumulative 51 so far on Metacritic (which by album standards might even be worse than The Love Guru’s 22–the only albums currently with lower scores are Ashanti’s The Declaration, Def Leppard’s Songs from the Sparkle Lounge and Foxy Brown’s Brooklyn Don Diva, and 20 points if you’ve even heard of one of those before). Even the generally level-headed and objective All Music Guide has taken Katherine to task, saying of her One of the Boys that “The problem is not with Katy’s gender-bending, it’s that her heart isn’t in it; she’s just using it to get her places, so she sinks to crass, craven depths that turn One of the Boys into a grotesque emblem of all the wretched excesses of this decade.” You’ll recall I said things not all that dissimilar but a week or so ago, but it’s refreshing to see others fail to fall for her attention-courting act as well.

Once again, it’s not to say that from the album’s critical reaction is a kiss of death for its commercial fortunes, and I’m sure Perry’s returns will be brisk at first, as will The Love Guru‘s. But point is, it’s important that our culture’s first line of defense not go gently against these juggernauts of evil, and here’s hoping that the rest of the country follows suit shortly enough. Hey, Obama won the primary and “American Boy” finally made the top 40, so things are looking bright all over for our country. A #3 or lower debut for The Love Guru and a sub-gold status for Katy Perry don’t seem all that unreasonable to ask for.

Posted in Schadenfreude | 3 Comments »