In addition to cheekily assaying Eastern-influenced self-help culture, The Love Guru also lets Mike Myers get his musical ya-yas out. The movie opens with a version of the theme song from 9 to 5, works in a scrupulous, sitar-influenced cover of the 1990 acoustic shut-up-and-fuck-me ballad “More than Words,” from Extreme (right down to a mimicking of the moves from the shot-in-the-round music video), and closes with a Bollywood version of Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker” under the end credits. Yes, seriously.
Who has a crush on Barack Obama? Scarlett Johansson does, according to Politico, which writes about an ongoing email dialogue between “huge movie lover” Obama and the breathy-voiced actress, who reads The Economist, serves as an ambassador for Oxfam and speaks out on behalf of several charities, in addition to smoking lots of cigarettes.
Fox News long ago devolved into a broken-limbed, blinkered, self-congratulatory parody of itself, but they may have outdone themselves with their latest bit of whack-ass fear-mongering. During the June 6 edition of America’s Pulse, host E.D. Hill threw it to a commercial by teasing an upcoming discussion segment on nonverbal communication, and specifically Barack Obama‘s celebration of securing the Democratic presidential nomination, thusly: “A fist bump? A pound? A terrorist fist jab? The gesture everyone seems to interpret differently.” In the ensuing discussion with Janine Driver — whom Hill introduced as “a body language expert” — Hill at no point explained her previous reference to “a terrorist fist jab,” all of which raises the question of how we feel when the freedom of the press collides with tactics that are the moral equivalence of yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater.
Because 20th Century Fox is going for their collective corporate masters degree in radio silence and media manipulation, they didn’t send out invites for M. Night Shyamalan’s new film. In fact, they’re holding two screenings of The Happening today on their lot, at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., but I’ve been caught up in other things, forgot to reach out and prod them to confirm, and now just have too much else going on today to drive across town and wreck the rest of my schedule.
They’re usually pretty decent about ‘fessing up to these “opt-in” affairs, Fox, but I’ve had a pair of other folks with legitimate reviewing interests tell me they were either turned down for admittance, or flatly told that the movie wasn’t at all screening. I can’t get a firm read on what this means for The Happening specifically — trying to just run up the opening weekend gross since they know/feel they have a turkey, or protecting some arguable narrative twist — since Fox’s new modus operandi seems to be to angle for the quietest release possible anyway. (Exhibitors were also forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement in advance of screening the movie, a highly unusual and punitive move.) There may soon be a day when the studio just accidentally forgets to ship prints of a film, and releases something straight to DVD not necessarily because they meant to all along, but because someone using the logical extension of their publicity rubric figures that’s a good way to slip a film past an audience as well.
From its inception, cable channel Comedy Central has willfully cultivated a following amongst the recreational hippie lettuce crowd, both through word and deed. In this regard, then, this DVD was a long time coming. A great little grab-bag compilation title, Comedy Central’s Home Grown collects a handful of full episodes of some of its series, throws them together with sketches from past shows like Drawn Together and Chappelle’s Show, and rounds things out with twisted Animation Show shorts and other fare like “Spiders on Drugs.”
The material here is partitioned into “buds” (full episodes), “stems” (sketches) and “seeds” (a random assortment of green-friendly fare). The former fare consists of episodes of Strangers with Candy, TV Funhouse, Reno 911!, The Sarah Silverman Program and Root of All Evil. Of these, Silverman‘s “Face Wars” is probably the best, and legitimately edgiest; it finds her donning black-face to better understand the plight of African-Americans, and her two gay pals Brian Posehn and Steve Agee grappling with some potent medical marijuana after their personal dealer gets busted. Silverman’s good with dirty-talk shock value (“Did you eat a fart?” she asks her sister’s cop boyfriend), but she also pushes envelopes with the best of them, as shown here. TV Funhouse seems like a low-rent, less gleefully subversive version of Pee-wee’s Playhouse, from 20 years earlier, with only black-and-white claymation segments really soaring. Comedian Lewis Black’s Root of All Evil, a sort of comedic oral-argument litigant showdown, pits weed against beer, to amusing effect.
The other odds and ends offer up their own hit-and-miss amusement as well. Of the three puppet-fronted Crank Yankers segments, the four-minute “Badonkadonk,” in which a guy tries to place a dirty ad in the Village Voice, is easily the best. Other bits include sketches from Viva Variety, Drawn Together, Chappelle’s Show (no Prince basketball stories, alas) and more. The most truly zonked inclusion, however, is a 25-minute episode of the PBS series The Joy of Painting, with Afroed, sing-song-voiced host Bob Ross. It’s easy to imagine the belongings of someone’s roommate getting ruined by fingerpaint after this.
Housed in a white Amray case and presented on a single disc with a picture of an apple bong on the front, Comedy Central’s Home Grown is of course presented in 1.33:1 full screen, with a Dolby digital audio track to handle the meager aural demands of the material herein. Special mention should be made of the lengths gone to in order to preserve the (cough, cough) “inspiration” of this collection; in addition to the aforementioned sectional groupings, the DVD’s menu screen gently undulate, creating a sensation of dazed wonderment if one stares long enough (or has the right accouterments, one presumes). The back cover of the disc also contains the following consumer advisory: best served with nachos and Funyuns. To purchase the DVD via Amazon, click here. B+ (Collection) B+ (Disc)