Thursday, February 11, 2010
The Daily Aztec
REEL 2 REAL
Large cast gives new spin to love holiday Even the toned and the tan are prone to heartache in this pleasing seasonal flick M AG G I E P E H A N I C K S TA F F W R I T E R
Despite curiously smog-free Los Angeles skylines, Director Garry Marshall’s star-spangled film does more than dazzle audiences and even evokes quite a few “oohs” and “ahhs” along the way. In an effort to discern the true meaning of one of Hallmark’s most profitable days of the year, Marshall shows the holiday through the eyes of several interconnected L.A. residents. “Valentine’s Day” packs the most star power since last year’s “He’s Just Not That Into You,” but substitutes brutal honesty for lovey-doveyness. The cast list reads like a who’s who of young — and old — Hollywood: Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Alba, Julia Roberts, Jessica Biel, Jennifer Garner, George Lopez, Hector Elizondo, Shirley MacLaine, Jamie Foxx, Eric Dane, Patrick Dempsey, Topher Grace, Anne Hathaway, Bradley Cooper, Queen Latifah, Kathy Bates, Taylor Lautner, Taylor Swift, Emma Roberts and a handful of the cutest babies, toddlers and children in America. As their stories interweave and the day progresses, the audience sees what a small world it is after all. Some stories are stronger than others and the main narrative seems to come from Reed Bennett (Kutcher), owner of the busiest florist and café in downtown L.A. The movie opens with Reed proposing to his girlfriend (Alba), who at the time seems overjoyed. We then meet Reed’s best friend Julia Fitzpatrick (Garner), a teacher who is unknowingly in an extramarital affair with a doctor played by Dempsey. Complications ensue.
The best storyline — and coincidentally, also the simplest — takes place in the coach section of an airplane, where an Army captain (Julia Roberts) and a mysterious professional (Cooper) become fast friends on a 14-hour flight. Both are headed home to see their loved ones, and because their story doesn’t force traditional romantic roles, it is easily the most satisfying. The problem with such a large cast is that most characters have so few on-screen minutes that their appearances seem little more than cameos. While most of the Hollywoodalums make the best of their time (Latifah, Lopez, Elizondo, MacLaine) some members of the younger generation appear uninvested in their roles, most notably Alba and Biel, the latter of which has a thin frame that does not match her character’s neurotic tendency to eat multiple boxes of chocolates. Other stories include a love-struck thirdgrader awkwardly planning high school sex; America’s most pensive, shirtless NFL player; Hathaway as a secretary moonlighting as a phone sex operator; and an older couple struggling to maintain ties after one confesses a years-old affair. Marshall could have done without some of the fluffier stories — the Swift and Lautner lovefest in particular was a bit much, seeming more like a plea for tween interest than a sincere attempt at a story. All in all, “Valentine’s Day” is darling, full of genuine laughs and leaves the audience with the lingering notion that despite age, status and sexual orientation, both love and heartache are universal.
Movie: Valentines Day Directed by: Garry Marshall Distributor: Warner Bros. Release Date: Friday Grade: B+
Courtesy of Warner Bros.
NBC hit series shows there’s life after ‘SNL’ Tina Fey shows American audiences a different type of lead character SA RA H GR I E C O MANAGING EDITOR
Those not watching NBC’s hit television show “30 Rock” must lead a sad and unfulfilling life. Arguably one of the funniest shows on Thursday nights, “30 Rock” deserves nothing but high praise. This show hasn’t won 14 Emmy Awards without a good reason. Compared to other prime-time comedies, “30 Rock” is down-
to-earth, yet maintains a crucial comical perspective. The show is written by Tina Fey and inspired by her experience as a writer for “Saturday Night Live.” Fey also plays the main character, Liz Lemon.
Many of the show’s jokes are directed at NBC, even though the show airs on that particular network. By poking fun at the network, Fey humanizes the powerful General Electric conglomerate. The average American audience can truly identify with Liz. She is the anti-celebrity and all-around nerd. In shows such as “Gossip Girl,” the main female characters are often model-esque, obnoxiously gorgeous and their biggest problem is they have not one, but two handsome, rich guys chasing after them. Not so for Liz. She constantly embarrasses herself and spends her Friday nights watching “Top Chef.” Liz is also the head of a writing group for a popular TV show that resembles “SNL.” The writers and actors on “The Girlie Show with Tracy Jordan” are constantly causing trouble and Liz often deals with their problems unprofessionally. In one instance, she
maliciously fires an innocent accountant who is dating her crush. The humorous cast members, including Tracy Morgan and Alec Baldwin, persistently provide true laugh-out-loud moments. But the true gem of this show is the character Kenneth Parcell, played by Jack McBrayer. Kenneth is an NBC page whose job description involves keeping the fictional actors of the show content. In many episodes, he is forced to clean up after the actors of NBC, but does so with a cheerful attitude and eager devotion. Kenneth’s love for television keeps his spirits high while doing the dirty work and his Georgian southern drawl makes his one-liners priceless. The names of a couple of “30 Rock” characters are hilarious, including Dot Com and Grizz, who are members of Jordan’s entourage. The funniest nickname is given to the character who is both black and a Harvard graduate, making him a “two-forone” toward the show’s demographic diversity, thus the nickname “Toofer.” Many of the show’s jokes are directed at NBC, even though the show airs on that particular network. By poking fun at the network, Fey humanizes the powerful General Electric conglomerate. The witty writing and charming cast provide an audience of nearly seven million with ceaseless entertainment. Fey reaches out to a large demographic and connects with her audience by awkwardly taking life as it comes. Classic Liz quotes include, “What the what?” and “I want to go to there.” Incorporating these quotes into daily conversation will instantly increase one’s coolness factor. Start reserving Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. for a half-hour of happiness.