Movie Review: Lost and Found

This content of this post originally appeared in the “JNL” section of the Janesville Gazette.

There is a delightful new comedy out for teens and 20-somethings. “Lost and Found,” which stars “Just Shoot Me” cast member David Spade, is a comical variation on the same old “Boy meets Girl” plot. “Lost” combines a well-chosen cast, funny-enough jokes, and the character and humorous personality of David Spade.

Spade, who many describe as too sarcastic and a little critical, fits into the is movie like one of those round pegs. His “witty” demeanor goes well with the role he plays: a sarcastic Philadelphia coffee shop owner. His character, Dylan Ramsey, has started a restaurant and needs a sizable loan to complete his dreams. But wait – Dylan’s eyes fall upon the new, breath-taking neighbor: a concert cellist from France who has come to the United States to pursue her dream of playing in the Philharmonic. Ramsey, who is told he comes off as a real jerk at first glance, tries to spend time with the neighbor Lyla — Sophie Marceau — so she will get to know him more than his outer layer of jerkiness. But when opportunities do not come up to be with her, Dylan steals her dog, a yappy Cairn terrier. Ramsey then spends time with Lyla looking for her “missing” dog. But wait! Dylan’s friend asks him to hold on to an anniversary ring that he wants to hide from his wife. Jack, the terrier, hides the ring while playing his favorite game — hide-and-seek. This prevents Dylan from being able to give Jack back until he finds out where the ring is. The plot thickens. But WAIT — Lyla Dubois’ ex-fiance, Renee, comes from France hot on her tail to make amends after their messy breakup. Meanwhile, Dylan Ramsey is doing all he can to keep the wealthy Parisian away from the lovely Miss Dubois.

All of these factors come into play in keeping the plot of the movie going. Even with so many of these underlying complications, the plot of “Lost” seemed to come to a screeching halt at points throughout the movie. It would take a while until the action would start up again. Although guest appearances by Jon Lovitz and Danny Goodman — Cosmo Kramer’s shorter friend in “Seinfeld” — did help to keep you watching. Once again, David Spade has been paired with a larger sidekick, Artie Lang, to accent his own small frame. The deal with Dylan Ramsey and his bigger employee Wally is that Wally wants to be exactly like Dylan. The commercial previews make a big deal out of this part, but it doesn’t play such a big role in the movie.

Aside from the profane jokes, “Lost and Found” is enjoyable as a couple of hours away from the outside world. It generally keeps you interested and snickering from beginning to end.


Movie Review: Star Wars, Episode I: The Phantom Menace

This content of this post originally appeared in the “JNL” section of the Janesville Gazette.

Following an interim of 16 years since the last “Star Wars” movie, creator George Lucas has returned with a vengeance and the 5 million ‘Phantom Menace.’ I loved it. After so much hype and exposure, I had felt that there was no way the movie could live up to expectations, but it definitely did.

A new “Star Wars” movie spurs many questions: “Wasn’t the trilogy over?” “Who are those characters?” Here’s the explanation: The first three “Star Wars” movies were actually episodes four through six of a six-episode series. “The Phantom Menace” is episode one, which takes place about 40 years earlier and shows how the
villain, Darth Vader, of episodes four through six grew up. Got it?

“The Phantom Menace” contains a few of the characters from the original movies, including Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda. The plot deals with a ban on interplanetary trading in the galaxy and the growing up of Anakin Skywalker (Jake Lloyd). The two main characters, Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) and his Jedi teacher Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson), are ambassadors to negotiate the end of the blockade. Little did they know that the evil Federation is using the blockade to wage war. They stumble onto the plan and onto a clumsy, computer-animated, pop-culture-quoting alien named Jar Jar Binks. Jar Jar is the ultimate in comedy relief. He is always quoting many of the ’90s TV shows. Besides being a funny sidekick, he becomes a major character.

Many critics have said “The Phantom Menace” has too many computerized effects, a little over 200. Most movies have about 20. I saw no problem with this. The effects were great, and they seemed so real that you wouldn’t be able to tell that they were effects if you hadn’t known that whatever was happening was impossible.

George Lucas has lived up to the standards he set for himself with the first three “Star Wars” movies. The acting is great, the plot line pretty good, and the special effects unmatched.

I enjoyed the much-anticipated “Episode I” with a half-filled theater of cheering fans. So don’t be cautious about going out to see this movie. Even if you do have to wait, it will be completely worth it.


Music Review: Big Hits of Middle America

This content of this post originally appeared in the “JNL” section of the Janesville Gazette.

The big hits produced in the Midwest during the ’60s are back on this two-CD set. All of those teen bands with such clever names are here: Dudley and the Doo-Rytes, The Trashmen, and, of course, The Unbelievable Uglies! In fact, no band on this album has a name without the word “the” in it. And that’s not the only good thing about the CD.

A lot of the songs provide a beat that you could dance to. Many of them follow a blues pattern that was used excessively in older songs. An example of a song you have probably heard that has used this pattern is “Johnny B. Goode,” but it is not on these CDs.

Most of the lyrics have original thought put into them, but as I mentioned in the previous paragraph, many used that blues chord pattern. This is why many of the songs from that era sound so similar.

At the risk of labeling this music and suffering a fate worse than death, I will not refer to these songs as oldies, but many younger people vow that they absolutely detest oldies. What they do not know is that many of the songs they listen to now are based on songs written a long time ago. Not all of these songs are originals, but some of them are.

Some adults will know most of these songs from their childhood, where hot cars and even hotter music reigned. Teens would cruise while listening to classics by The Trashmen such as “Surfin’ Bird” and — or “The Bird Dance Beat,” both containing the scratchy throat vocals of Tony Anderson.

Seriously now, many of these songs are enjoyable. Some could even be making a comeback. My dad took this CD to the school where he teaches and while he was listening to a certain song, some kid asked him if the song was a remake. it wasn’t the original, but it certainly wasn’t the one he knew.

Many of these bands had their starts at school dances or local garages, as The Trashmen, or Lou Riegart and the Troops did. And you can tell that they weren’t in it for the money; they played to have fun. That is a factor in how enjoyable the music is.

You might call me a “Liar, Liar,” but I say you should get in your “OldsMo-William,” “Run, Run, Run” to the music store and “Let the Good Times Roll,” “Papa-oo-mau-mau!”


Book Review: Scott Adams’s “Journey to Cubeville: A Dilbert Book”

This content of this post originally appeared in the “JNL” section of the Janesville Gazette.

Scott Adams’s newest book, “Journey to Cubeville,” combines well-told jokes with nicely done drawings from the life of Dilbert, the main character of the comic strip.

The strip tells the story of the life of Dilbert and his colleagues. Also included are Dogbert, the canine Network Administrator, and Catbert, the evil Human Relations director.

“Dilbert” is packed with humorous views on company staff meetings, the Internet, and annoying co-workers. Scott Adams must know a lot of annoying people to come up with all of the jokes about them.

The whole basis of this witty strip is pretty much that Dilbert is a pathetic engineer who can’t get a date, talks to his dog, and has an ignorant pointy-haired boss, but it makes for some funny jokes. “Dilbert” doesn’t contain too many detailed drawings, but they get the point across.

I’d just like to say one thing. I have no idea why Dilbert’s tie is curved up like that. It is never straight. It’s just hanging there. And what’s with his mouth? He doesn’t even have one!

Back to something important: A lot of people say that they don’t get the jokes in the strip. Most of the ones people do get have to do with bosses and co-workers, but some of them just don’t make any sense, such as the ones about the dinosaur who gives wedgies. I don’t get how they are funny. It someone can explain them to me, I’d like to hear it.

if you don’t want to go out and buy the book ($12.95), or you want to find out more about what the strip is about, you can read Adams’ humorous take on Dilbert’s life Monday through Saturday right here in The Janesville Gazette.


Movie Review: Patch Adams

This content of this post originally appeared in the “JNL” section of the Janesville Gazette.

Robin Williams is hearing the voice of Oscar in his ear once again. He gives an amazing performance in “Patch Adams,” playing a middle-aged medical student who yearns to help people stuck in hospitals. In other words, he wants to “treat the patient, not the disease.”

“Patch Adams” tells the story of a once self-committed insane asylum patient who wants to become a doctor. Adams (Williams) commits himself to a mental institution because he’s suicidal. But he learns that he has a special knack for helping those deemed not able to be helped.

After leaving the asylum, Adams enrolls in med school. There, he becomes one of the top students in his class, but is admonished severely by the dean for visiting patients while only in his second year of school.

By other people’s standards. Adams has a radical way of thinking. People are surprised when he asks about the patients’ names. He treats patients with laughter and amusement; he becomes their friend instead of their superior.

Monica Potter plays Adams’ girlfriend at college. She gives a realistic performance, allowing Williams to play off her personality, making his acting even more believable.

“Patch Adams” is advertised as a comedy, but it is much more than that. Yes, it is, first and foremost, a comedy. but it also is a romance and a drama. it explores the ideas of the mind, equality between patients and doctors, and the value of human life, specifically those people admitted to hospitals.

“If you treat a disease. you win or lose, but if you treat a patient, I guarantee that you’ll win,” Adams says. What he means is: The doctor can either cure or not cure a disease. But the experience and value they gain by becoming the friend of the patient can only benefit them.

Few things about this movie bothered me, one being all of the off-color jokes thrown in. Most of them were unneeded; a few were there to emphasize points that were being made.

“Patch Adams” is based on a true story. one that is still unfolding in real life. Some of the major plot elements seem a little too odd to be real but they are just based on a true story.

This is the fourth time I’ve reviewed Robin Williams on the big screen and as it has been with the majority of his movies, it was funny, entertaining and enjoyable by all.


Glee or Greed? Rewriting Rudolph

This content of this post originally appeared in the “JNL” section of the Janesville Gazette.

Contest judge Sarah Finley chose Chris Finke’s lyrics, written to the tune of “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer,” as the winner for the JNL holiday contest. Finke, 14, will get for his entry. Here’s what he wrote:

A foreword:

A brand-new Christmas carol
Was what we were to compose
For this JNL contest.
Finley’s mind we must engross.

So here it is, the new lyrics to “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.”

Jerry the rich business man
Was as happy as could be.
“Christmas will bring me profit!”
This is what he did decree.
Standing nearby was Billy,
A seven-year-old shopper.
Horrified at this statement
Was the munchkin eavesdropper.
Billy neared the greedy man,
Cleared his throat and said,
“Sir, it’s not gratuity,
Jesus is the cause for glee.”
Finally Jerry fathomed
Christmas is about Christ’s birth.
From them on, for this reason,
Jerry spread the joy and mirth.


Review: Jerry Seinfeld’s “I’m Telling You For the Last Time”

This content of this post originally appeared in the “JNL” section of the Janesville Gazette.

Jerry Seinfeld is back, after the culmination of his hit TV show, with this recording of his Broadway show. He pokes fun at life’s little quirks and discusses important topics, from McDonald’s to skydiving. In this, Seinfeld’s first comedy album, he keeps the audience in stitches 70-plus minutes, all the way from the bit about cell phones to the Q & A at the end, where he takes questions from the audience.

“Did you ever notice…?” Jerry Seinfeld is famous for using this phrase before launching into an amusing tirade about daily life. For example, he talks about McDonald’s and how no one really cares anymore how many burgers they have sold.

Seinfeld recalls from his childhood being influenced by the likes of Bill Cosby and Robert Klein. He explains that he chose to be a comedian because, if you do it right, you can reach the audience on an intimate level, where you
could otherwise not even get near.

You may recognize various parts of the comedy from the television show, most likely some of the things about Superman. Other parts of the comedy act are drawn from his childhood, when everything was up. Wait up, hold up,
I’ll clean up.

There were a couple things I noticed that could have been improved upon. Even though there was not too much profanity, barely any, all of it is used within the space of five to 10 minutes, one right after the other. But 20 out of 21 tracks — that’s about 72 out of 76 minutes — were completely appropriate for all ages.

Seinfeld makes you laugh out loud and leaves you with lots of jokes to pass on to your friends. He has a way about him that makes anything he says seem humorous, probably because it all is.


Movie Review: Simon Birch

This content of this post originally appeared in the “JNL” section of the Janesville Gazette.

Ian Michael Smith has his debut in this wonderful film about life, friends and God. Acting in correlation with Joseph Mazzello and Jim Carrey, he does a great job.

The movie is about a 12-year-old dwarf named Simon Birch (Smith). He was recorded as the smallest baby delivered ever in the small town of Gravestown, Maine, but probably with the biggest mouth and sense of humor. He says exactly what is on his mind, along with some other comments that make you think a little, and makes sure everybody knows it.

At 12, he believes God has a plan laid out for him to be a hero. At first, his friend, Joe (Mazzello) thinks there is no God and there is no plan; however, Simon proves him wrong.

Everything Simon does, he does to the fullest. He never gives up and always keeps trying. He plays on the town baseball team with all the other children, and goes to the same school.

Much of the plot is dedicated to the two boys trying to find out who Joe’s real father is. Joe was conceived out of wedlock, and his mother (Ashley Judd) kept the secret of the fathers identity to her death. Parents may be alarmed at the use of a certain word for this situation because it is so often used for cursing, but in this case it is used correctly. The plot keeps you guessing at who the father is throughout the whole movie.

One surprise for most people is that Jim Carrey is in a movie that wasn’t written around his slapstick comedy skills. He plays the adult Joe, and is narrator for the movie, which he did an admirable job at.

Something I must commend the writers for is the way they continued elements of the plot throughout the whole movie. Two such examples of this are Simon’s attempts at holding his breath under water and a solitary deer, both of which are important in the end.

There is some rough language in the movie, about half of it cursing and half of it remarks toward human anatomy. Most of the latter comes from Simon and Joe, two adolescent boys.

When Simon dies, some of the sting is taken off, because you already know he was going to die when at the beginning of the movie they show his grave.

The movie finishes up with some sentimental scenes: Joe finally coming to friendship with Ben (Oliver Platt), who had been his mother’s boyfriend, and also coming to grips with who his father is. The movie gets sorrowful toward the end, but everybody came out of the theater smiling.