Questions, Comments, Concerns: A Christmas Prince

Today’s Questions, Comments, Concerns features A Christmas Prince, a Netflix Original Movie that’s really a Hallmark movie for cord-cutters. Mindless, low-quality holiday entertainment isn’t just for people with a cable package! It’s 2017!

Comment: You can tell they’ve got that Netflix budget because of all the establishing shots of New York City.

to be fair they saved some $$ by using the clipart that came preloaded on their PC

On Hallmark, everything takes place in a picturesque small town that’s obsessed with Christmas because that’s the cheaper thing to do.

Comment: “Amber! We’re junior editors! Not writers!”

Dialogue like this is why people think that editor means human spellcheck.

Question: Wait, how can I become a Junior Editor?

Forget that my real rank is above “junior editor.” Amber gets sent abroad to cover a European prince. Nice work if you can get it.

Concern: Netflix spent its whole NYC budget on those establishing shots.

or actually, this is new york’s FINEST diner.

Amber goes into a tiny, empty diner that definitely seems like it’s somewhere in Hallmarkville. It’s her dad’s. He’s a Real New York Character, AKA he has an accent.

Comment: Netflix also spent some Establishing Shot Money on European mountains. Alps?
Concern: By the time they show the lush, snow-covered Swiss? Bavarian? castle, I’m already sold.

I don’t need this to be a GOOD movie, I just need to have a good time watching it.

Comment: Maybe Lead Girl would be a senior editor if she hadn’t showed up to a royal press conference in jeans and sneakers.

non-spoiler: rom-com lady is clumsy. also i have a follow-up question about the white plastic light switch. surely the castle electrician could upgrade that.

Now would be an appropriate time for me to use the terms “slacks” and “pumps.” Yech.

Concerns: Many

Amber gets mistaken for Princess Emily’s new tutor, Martha.

Question: Can we cut to the part where Emily is vibrant and lovable?

On one hand, A+ for having a child with disabilities as a primary character! On the other, they make her petulant and peevish like that hidden boy in Secret Garden. Collin, was it?

Comment: You know Rose McIver (Lead Girl) from other stuff.

I IMDB’d her because her face was so familiar, and not just because she looks like she’d play Keri Russell’s sister. She’s been in a LOT but I remember her best as the sister in The Lovely Bones.

Comment: We didn’t have to wait long for Emily to get vibrant and lovable.

She’s a cutie.

Concern: My ability to suspend disbelief.

For a split second I start questioning how Amber is pulling this off, whether there are visa implications, the scads of journalistic ethics violations… and then I relax into the soft fluff of A Christmas Prince like a child making a snow angel.

Comment: Cousin Simon’s no Prince Richard, but could still get it.

Richard though.

Concern: Male primogeniture, boo.

Princess Emily isn’t in line for the throne and I’m having S1 Downton Abbey flashbacks.

Comment: The cell phone sticking up out of Amber’s back pocket is honestly some of the most realistic costuming I’ve seen.
Concern: We have competition.

Meet Lady Sophia, a hussy in a red dress. You can tell she’s a hussy by the red dress. I don’t make the rules.

Question: Do we know for absolutely sure that Princess Emily’s not a Little Girl Ghost (TM Joey Tribbiani)?

Emily discovers Amber’s true identity and barters to keep Amber’s secret as long as she writes the truth about Richard. Emily says knows because she sneaked into Amber’s unsecured computer, but she seems awfully British and all-knowing …  like a Little Girl Ghost.

Comment: I want Emily the Little Girl Ghost to get a friend who is a child.
Concern: Amber takes Emily sledding

I definitely think that children with disabilities should be encouraged to do anything other kids do (with necessary modifications and safety supports) but I just feel like Amber should’ve at least Googled if it was fine.

[It was fine, by the way.]

Comment: Horse stuff.

There was an equistrian sequence, but we all already knew that going into this. Richard chases off wolves in a page straight out of the Beauty and the Beast storyboards, then they retreat to Gaston’s lounge.

Concern: Prince Rick looks good in a turtleneck.

I don’t hate turtlenecks but it’s such a specific man who can pull it off, right? I know Amber agrees because they almost kiss in a beautiful barn. I could pay off my student loans selling reclaimed wood from this barn. And those are law school loans, ok.

Question: Do they put Christmas lights on actual castles?

Genuine question. I love them but bet royals think they’re naff.

Comment: Prince Richard is a fake!! Prince Richard is a fake!!

Well not FAKE, but he was adopted into the royal family in 1990. I assume there’s a rule about that in most royal families? Also with the giant age gap between Richard and Emily, I like to think this is one of those fake adoptions, like when old-Hollywood actresses would get pregnant, disappear for a year, then “adopt” a baby.

Concern: I was surprised by a plot twist in A Christmas Prince.

I never get surprised in Hallmark movies. Advantage: Netflix.

Amber’s so shocked that she uses the words “gosh” and “freaking.”

Comment: I love Amber’s bedroom with the Christmas tree.

When I was a kid, sometimes I used to pretend I was princess Anastasia and had a room like that. Yes, I know it’s actually Grand Duchess. Yes, I willfully ignored the unpleasant imprisonment and execution angles.

Comment: Richard’s so British (or whatever… Genovian?) he pronounces Sophia “Sophier.”
Comment: Amber wears her converse with her formal outfit…

Just like every group of groomsmen in wedding photos, c. 2010.

Question: Do princes really have a wedding ceremony to their country?

That’s more or less what Richard has. Objections and everything. Reminds me of when Dennis Rodman married himself (I’m old).

Comment: Mean Sophier’s objection was the adoption thing, clearly.
Comment: Richard’s late father hid the truth in an acorn ornament because nobody can be normal in these movies.

My favorite part is how Richard’s dad knew this would all come to a head at Christmas, and that somebody would decipher the secret clue about acorns, and how nobody would crack open or throw away the ornament before this point.

I also don’t see how a note in an ornament is legally binding. He should’ve just changed the code while he was alive. Easy-peasy.

Comment: Aldovia. The country was “Aldovia.”
Comment: The judge or whatever says “Merry Christmas to all,” which is the most Christmas we’ve had in a while.
Question: Why won’t Amber’s editors encourage her to run a piece on this?

They call it a “puff piece” but it looks like an exclusive, walks like an exclusive, sounds like an exclusive, it’s a duck.

Comment: It’s not a romcom unless someone makes a grand gesture at the end.

Richard comes to NY and proposes to Emily. I’m still floored that she works for a publication that thinks this ISN’T a story. He has neither a security detail nor a press following. She accepts.

Comment: A Christmas Prince has one thing in common with Hallmark movies

…. and that’s a couple meeting, falling in love, AND getting engaged all between the start and end of the Christmas season.

Questions, Comments, Concerns: Christian Mingle – The Movie

There’s a Christian Mingle movie, and it’s on Netflix. It stars Lacey Chabert (Claudia Salinger, Gretchen Weiners) as Gwyneth, a vaguely (but not seriously) Christian lady who joins Christian Mingle. That’s all you need to know. I watched it so you don’t have to, and here are my questions, comments and concerns:

Comment: I have nothing against Christians. Or Mingling.

Where “mingling” = online dating, if it appeals to you. Mingling in the sense of making small talk at networking events? Now that I have some problems with.

Concern: But as a movie?
Comment: Lacey Chabert used to have a bible next to her bed.

Which is to say: I have a weird memory of an article or blurb about Lacey Chabert in a Christian teen magazine in the late 90s/ early 2000s. She has a bible next to her bed. Or did as a teen. According to this magazine my friend had.

Now, Lacey Chabert is one of my favorite Frequent Hallmark Actresses. I’m afraid you’re going to read that as sarcasm; it isn’t.

Question: Is this a fictional movie that the characters are watching in Saved?

Because that’s how I’m approaching it.

Comment: Voiceover: “I found him. With a capitol H.”
Question: Is this an AU fic about a 30-year-old Gretchen Weiners?

Because that’s also how I’m approaching it.

Comment: When Europeans talk about American teeth, they’re talking about Lacey Chabert’s teeth.

That’s not shade. Her teeth are pretty.

Comment: Gwyneth’s friend group = (L-R) a girl from a Disney Channel Original Movie who wants to do modern dance but her mom won’t let her, a blonde woman who was friends with Mindy on .5 seasons of The Mindy Project, Gretchen, and an indie singer from the early 2010s.

I mean, based on wardrobe and styling choices.

Concern: The general portrayal of single women is NOOOOOOO.

It’s fine to want a relationship, but this whole competing with female friends to get engaged first / seeming like a sad sack because you’re – gasp! – 30 years old and single (even though you have a nice apartment, some kind of job where your office is shabby chic, and a nice friend group) / judging your still-single friends thing feels like if a 60-year-old Christian man were trying to write my life and got it all wrong. Which – by the way – is exactly what this is.

It’s like a movie through the lens of how your aunts probably see you.

Concern: The Sassy Black Secretary is WHYYYYYYY.

Not the actress – she’s good- but the trope.

Comment: Oh hey, Sandy Ryerson from Glee. Fancy seeing you here.
Comment: Voiceover: “At this point, I’m like God, this is Gwyneth Payton calling, and if you are out there, um, help?!”
Comment: Gretchen Gwyneth is stalked by Christian Mingle commercials.

(Non-shady moment: I know of at least 3 couples who met on a Catholic dating site, so if it’s your thing go for it.)

Comment: In her CM profile, Gretchen inputs her church’s name as “God’s House.”

… Which, if it’s a joke about someone who doesn’t go to church making up the name of something that sounds churchy, is funny.

Good work, Christian Mingle: The Movie. Made me chuckle.

Question: If Gretchen isn’t into church/Jesus/etc, why doesn’t she just join literally any other dating site?

 

Question: Why are people so concerned about nicknames for two-syllable names?

The Christian Mingler asks Gwyneth what people call her. I flashed back to every time one of my siblings or cousins or friends has a baby  and some uncle type always asks what you’ll call them. For a two-syllable name. Which takes like a second to say.

Comment: The Christian Mingler is written to be a Jake Lacy type.
Question: Is Jake Lacy a type yet?
Comment: Gretchen is wearing crucifix earrings to her Christian Mingle date.

HAHAHAHA. Got me again, Christian Mingle: The Movie.

Question: Is the set design of the Bible Study friend’s house a joke?

It’s full of framed inspirational posters with waterfalls and Bible quotes and a throw pillow that definitely says Jesus on it. Really feeling the Saved vibes here.

Questions: Do Christians love skinny scarves and coffee?

Or just in this movie?

Comment: This church is all wrong.

Not theologically or whatever! In terms of design.

Safe to guess that these people aren’t Catholic. The decor of the Church says, if not Catholic, at least mainline protestant – Anglican or Lutheran, probs, based on the Jesus on the crucifix (vs a bare cross). Maybe Methodist or Presbyterian. But the overall rhetoric the church people use says nondenominational evangelical.

I guess I’m saying I was surprised to see Gretchen walk into an Episcopal-looking church and not a megachurch with lyrics on screens and a worship band and a smoothie bar.

Comment: All these people are awful.

Gretchen, faking a dating profile? Awful. The Christian Mingler’s skeptical WASP mom? Awful. The people Gretchen works with except for the Sassy Secretary? Awful. Gretchen’s friends who scoff at her outfits AND at Meryl Streep? Awful. Only the Christian Mingler himself is okay.

Comment: Everyone at this rancho is dressed like they’re at one of those camps where they send Christian youths to get them back on the straight and narrow or whatever.
Question: Why does Mexico need mission trips?

It’s like 95% Christian. Unless they don’t mean evangelizing. But what else is Gretchen fit to do?

I’m almost positive they explained this while I wasn’t paying attention. It’s my fault, not the movie.

(Ed. note: there was a hurricane.)

Comment: They’re painting a church. Sister Act did it better.

That’s not really a fair comparison. The only movie as good as Sister Act is Sister Act II: Back In The Habit.

Question: What is having this white lady read from a bible, then having a Mexican lady translate, accomplishing that having a Mexican lady read the bible wouldn’t?

Is it because she’s glowing with the white lady love of Christ?

Concern: The white lady’s “good” Spanish almost makes me want to lose all Christian charity.
Comment: Voice over:  “they know, I know they know, they know I know they know,” paraphrased, but way less funny than it was on Friends.
Comment: The Christian Mingler hands Gretchen her copy of Christianity for Dummies that was found under her bed. He presents it like a mom who just found a bong in her teen’s room.
Question: Isn’t Christianity for Dummies already a thing? Isn’t that just the Bible?

Not calling anyone who reads it DUMB I just mean all the stuff is in there.

Besides, what’s so bad about Christianity for Dummies? Gretchen says she was baptized and grew up with church and now she’s trying to learn more about it – see “all these people are awful,” above.

Question: Also does anyone read For Dummies books anymore?

The whole internet is a for dummies guide already, for free.

Comment: Count the broken commandments in this movie.

I’ll start: bearing false witness against thy neighbor.

Comment: Don’t worry, the secretary goes to a storefront church with good music.
Concern: Gretchen has a creepy haunted doll baby in her apartment. And a murky gray painting of disembodied hands.

Is this what they think interior design of the unchurched looks like?

Question: HOW IS GRETCHEN USEFUL IN MEXICO. HOW.

A little boy tells Gretchen to go to the church – a Spanish 101 query, if that – and she needs him to repeat it slowly in English. #UglyAmerican

Questions, Comments and Concerns: The Wolfpack

The Wolfpack is a documentary about the Angulo brothers, 6 teenage(-ish) boys kept almost entirely confined to their apartment by their father, Oscar. The boys watched thousands of movies, became obsessed with film, and even recreated favorite films at home: transcribing scripts, assigning roles, and building props by hand. On one of their early forays into the streets of New York City they met filmmaker Crystal Moselle, who was intrigued by their matching long hair and dark suits, looking like the cast of Reservoir Dogs. A friendship began based on their mutual love of film, and eventually Moselle began a documentary about the Angulo brothers’ lives: The Wolfpack.

Unlike most of our Comments, Questions and Concerns post, this is actually a GOOD movie. It’s just that there’s so much going on here that we do have a few questions, comments and concerns about this most unusual family.

Comment: This is a documentary with no narration, very few talking heads, and no name cards.

So if you didn’t see the 20/20 special on the family ( or any of the myriad articles about these brothers, you’ll be figuring out what’s going on as the doc progresses. But other than some trouble keeping the boys’ names straight, you’ll be just fine.

Comment: Someone in this family is a prop master in the making.

Link: The Wolfpack brothers show us how to reenact our favorite films.

In their film recreations, the Angulos create their own props and some of them are really impressive, especially when you remember they were literally using what they had around the house.

Question: Did anyone else transcribe films and TV in their youth?

I think I remember rewinding my VHS tapes to take down dialogue from shows and movies I really liked in the pre-internet era, so while these kids do have some things in common with those of us who had more typical childhoods.

Comment: Understatement of the year: “If I didn’t have movies, my life would be pretty boring.”

It’s a phrase a lot of us can at least somewhat relate to (feel free to substitute movies with TV, or music, or theater), but coming from a teen whose only connection with the outside world was through movies, it’s on a whole other level.

Concern: What would it be like to be Vishnu?

First of all, Vishnu is the only girl in this family. Second, she’s described as special and in her own world, and was reported to have some sort of developmental disability. How did she get the services she need when her family rarely left their apartment? (NB: This isn’t answered, and for good reason: Vishnu isn’t really a subject of The Wolfpack. That’s a good choice because if she does have a developmental disability it would be harder to obtain her knowing consent, and anyway none of it is our business. However, I imagine that her life is probably every bit as fascinating as her brothers’.)

Concern: How does this HAPPEN?

One boy wonders how his parents fell in love in the first place. While more extreme than most of us, this is pretty relatable – when your parents have been together forever, it’s hard to picture them as the young people who first met each other.

In this case, the boys’ Midwestern-raised hippie mom, Susanne, met their father Oscar in South America. They moved to New York. Susanne was under Oscar’s control and Oscar began to shun the outside world, allowing the children to leave the apartment – closely supervised – only about once a year, if that. I understand, on a level, how overwhelming NY would be to a man from a less-populated area, especially when it’s plausible that he has some issues with paranoia and narcissism.

As for their mother,the boys mention Oscar hitting her sometimes, but there wouldn’t even need to be much or any physical violence with this level of psychological control. It’s almost like when you hear about cult members who have realized the leader isn’t what he promised to be, but it’s too late to leave.

Comment: THAT HALLOWEEN SCENE WAS SPOOKY AS HELL THO

The brothers film children trick or treating outside their window. Meanwhile in the apartment, they record themselves in costumes lighting hay on fire and doing a spooky circle dance to This Is Halloween. It was so eerie I almost had to fast forward. If you want evidence that some boys in the group are born filmmakers, look no further. With no budget or script , they sure did evoke Halloween terror.

Question: What would happen if we all talked to people who seem interesting?

The filmmaker (Crystal Moselle) saw this pack of long-haired, suit-wearing brothers on the street. Like most of us, she wondered what on earth their story was. Unlike most of us, she went up to them and asked. What would I find out if I started talking to the characters I see on the street?

(That’s gonna have to remain a mystery. Riding public transit to and from work, I have enough unwanted interactions with strangers without seeking them out.)

Concern: The level of control Oscar had is staggering, and I thought I’d heard everything.

Only Oscar had the keys to the apartment. If he told the boys to stay in one room, they weren’t allowed to leave. He kept seven children so stifled that many neighbors didn’t even know they existed.

Comment: My heart was in my throat during “the escape.”

Mukunda, then 15,  sneaked out of the apartment wearing a Michael Myers mask. He seemed “off” (as a teen in a horror movie mask would) and eventually, concerned strangers called the police. Mukunda was admitted to the psych ward, which he considers a positive experience as he was finally able to interact with non-family members. THEN, upon returning home, he told his father “I refuse to talk to you, I refuse to take your orders, we are no longer father and son anymore.” That has to be one of the bravest things I’ve heard in my life.

From that point on, the spell was broken and the brothers began to leave the apartment.

Question: Should Child Protective Services have intervened?

And in fact, what are the bounds of legality here? I say this as someone who concentrated in family law in a New York state law school, but this is such a gray area. There’s a push and pull between allowing parents the freedom to raise their children, but to intervene if the child’s health and safety are in peril. Is isolating the children at home a form of abuse or neglect?

Concern: YIKES at one of the boys thinking their mother should still homeschool them.

There’s nothing wrong with homeschooling if that’s what both the parents and kids want, and everyone’s getting a good education. The yikes comes because maybe a rule where nobody in this family says that another family member shouldn’t have to leave the apartment would be a good thing, moving forward. (To be fair, he doesn’t say she should never leave AT ALL, but that working outside the home wouldn’t be best when she is qualified to teach the brothers. Also he certainly has insight that we don’t into what Susanne actually wants to do in life.)

We’ll get to this later, but the best and most freeing thing for Susanne might be to move back to where there are open spaces, which she says she misses, particularly if as her son said, having to go out into New York to work would be too taxing on her.

Concern: The hair thing.

The boys have super-long hair, at least until some make the decision to cut it. Their father says it gives them power. Their mom has really short hair. Her decision or nah?

(If it is, and she’s chosen to look different from her family members, that’s pretty cool.)

Question: What would the real world seem like if all you knew was movies?
Comment: I would have loved to see more of the filmmaker’s interactions with the brothers.

I think leaving herself out of the film was a good choice, that’s just my own curiosity. It’s an interesting dynamic and like I said above, reaching out to these kids on the street isn’t something your average person would have done.

Concern: In old footage, Susanne looks at Oscar like Michelle looks at Jim-Bob.

I guess the concern would be that there are hundreds of Michelles looking at hundreds of Jim-Bobs like that.

Comment: Just want to make it clear I’m not blaming Susanne here.

Is there a chance she’s at fault for some of this? Sure, she could be, but I don’t have enough info here to say that. Susanne was very controlled by Oscar for a long time, and she’s obviously a thoughtful and intelligent person who really loves her kids (and even Oscar).

Concern: Oh no. Is Oscar comparing himself to Jesus now? Oh. no.

Comparing yourself to the Christ: almost always a bad sign unless it’s in the vein of “when the weather is warm, Jesus and I are both known to wear sandals” or “Jesus and I both have an Aunt Elizabeth.”

Comment: Sometimes Susanne’s accent really betrays her Midwestern roots (especially when talking with her mom) and I love it.

I also enjoy how very excited she was to reconnect with her family. This is why I love this documentary: I am so rooting for the boys and their mom. (I do feel for Oscar, on some level, and hope he finds some peace.)

Question: Did anyone else practically cheer seeing one of the boys getting a job on a set and interacting with coworkers like anybody else?

Guys. I’m just really into the triumph of the human spirit. They’re gonna make it after all. I’m sure of it.

Comment: ONE OF THEM MOVED OUT!

Jobs. Haircuts. Rock bands. Environmental protests. Girlfriends? I knew this was coming, but I’m amazed anyway.

And we start with the kids watching trick or treaters through their window, and end with them picking pumpkins and apples out in the world. Because at last, they live in it.

Concern: I’m very happy for everybody but if they do any more of this spooky Halloween shit I SWEAR TO GOD.

You’re very great at spooky masks and eerie sequences but I’m’a have to turn this off now.

Questions, Comments, Concerns: Curly Sue

Curly Sue is having a MOMENT. Alisan Porter is back on TV, the movie is streaming on Amazon Prime, and believe it or not, the 90s sets and outfits look surprisingly fresh. All of that meant that we were due for a rewatch – but don’t worry, we have some comments, questions, and concerns about the whole thing.

Concern: It’s been so long since I’ve seen this movie, it almost feels like it should be a Pop Culture Blind Spots post.

Curly Sue was a mainstay of early 90s HBO, and I used to watch it constantly. But that was 25 years ago, and I was a little kid. What I remember: a shyster pals around with a little girl, cooking up schemes. Was her name even Sue? Can’t remember. It was like a John Hughes-y take on Paper Moon, but set in 1991.

Comment: Curly Sue is now a contestant on The Voice.

Alisan Porter, AKA Curly Sue, wasn’t just another talented tot – she’s a talented adult, too. Of course, if you watched Curly Sue on regular rotation in the early 90s, you won’t be surprised.

Comment: Orphans from the late 80s/early 90s had all the best swag.

Like. I’m glad I have parents, but otherwise I’m pretty jealous of that sweet orphan swag

Curly Sue has this awesome bag covered in pins and ribbons, Punky Brewster had mismatched shoes and the coolest bedroom ever.

Comment: Somewhere in my brain, the instrumental Curly Sue theme has been lying dormant just waiting for me to rewatch.

Question: Is the opening sequence ever going to end?

We inventory Curly Sue’s bag for fully 3 minutes, which is longer than I spend packing for a cross-country trip.

Comment: Law offices were so steely during this era.

I spy: mahogony, modern art, shoulder pads, hairspray. Shards of rubble (?) on the windowsill, artistic empty vessels, UFO lamps, recessed canister lighting.

It looks like how someone from 1991 would decorate an office from “the year 2000.”

Concern: I mentally refer to James Belushi’s hair as a “nice mullet,” then I catch myself.

As mullets go, ok? As mullets go: nice.

Not sure if that’s my low standards for early 90s fashion, but it’s surprisingly non-ratty for a mullet. It looks freshly shampooed and brushed. He nurtures it.

Concern: “However much you love me, that’s how hard you hit me. However hard you hit me, that’s how much you love me.”

This is Belushi instructing Curly Sue to knock him upside the head but ALSO a primer into the psychology of abuse so IDK about you but I’m having a great time.

Question: Were there security cameras in 1991?

Curly Sue and Belushi stage a fake car/pedestrian collision in a parking garage (that’s why Curly Sue had to hit him), but I think in ’91 a closed circuit camera would have cleared that up. Weren’t we all into hidden camera shows during this era? There was no internet; America’s Funniest Home Videos and Candid Camera were our internet.

Concern: Steve Carell is a vampire

Steve Carell, impervious to the forces of time and age, plays a fancy restaurateur. Someone please hunt down Carell’s Civil War daguerreotype?

Comment: 1991 was the fanciest year ever.

Look at these people in their money-colored music hall dressed like they’re definitely at a benefit concert for some sort of Country Day School.

Comment: Calling it: the icy blonde lady who got scammed is going to marry Belushi and be Curly Sue’s new mom.

I think this because Belushi told C.S. that’s who she should hope for as a mom, and because the icy blonde lady looks pensive while she thinks about C.S. at the money-colored music hall.

Concern: a crappy man steals Curly Sue’s ring at the homeless shelter and pawns it.

I just kind of feel like if it was worth money, Belushi (AKA Bill Dancer) should have sold that before making Sue beat a grown man to score a free dinner. Is all.

Comment: THE FIRST CELL PHONE JOKE IN CINEMA HISTORY, maybe.

Remember when cell phones themselves were a punch line, and the joke was that the person who owned it was a Mr. Burns-style mega-millionaire? A phone rings in a restaurant, everybody instantly grabs their giant Zach Morris phones and raises them to their ears. It goes without saying, the restaurant is fancy… 1991-fancy.

Comment: How you know you’re rich and important in movies: an assistant runs alongside you telling you calls and appointments that came in for you.
Question: You know what movie this isn’t?

Different movie entirely.

Answer: Life with Mikey.  (It turns out all of the scenes I thought I remembered from this movie were from Life With Mikey.)

Comment: I will never be rich enough to have a 1991-Rich bathroom.

I love the unnecessary floor lamp and the child-sized house plant.

Question: Did the trailer say this was a movie about going “from rags to riches – and back again!”?

Because that seemed like a really popular trailer tagline for a while there.

Comment: OF F’ING COURSE THE ICY BLOND WOMAN’S NAME IS GRAY.

“Mrs Gray?”, Curly Sue asks.

“No, just Gray” the Icy Blond Woman answers.

Of. Freaking. Course.

Concern: This creepy-ass child’s bedroom.

Curly Sue asks – in the style of a Newsie or a background orphan from Annie – why Gray doesn’t have children because she “has enough dough for lots of them.”

More importantly, why doesn’t Gray have children when she has a fully decorated LITTLE GIRL’S BEDROOM off of her bedroom?

(Also, Gray doesn’t have children because like the sterile modern art in her chilly law practice, she is an empty vessel.)

Comment: You better sing, Curly Susan.

Comment: the makeup department is having a blast doing the egg on Belushi’s head; I can tell.

Really going for it.

Question: Why is Gray’s boyfriend trying to go to sleep in the Haunted Little Girl Bedroom in the middle of the night, anyway?
Comment: Gray’s kitchen really holds up because 1991 is so fancy that its kitchens are from the future.

Some Chip & Joanna shit right there.

Subway tile, glass-front cupboards, stainless steel, minimalist hardware. Is that a copper farmhouse sink?

Comment: This looks fun!

“I’m human cereal, suckers!”

Question: Do you know who I love?

Gray’s surly housekeeper, who dresses like a youth from Sister Act 2. “I don’t usually smoke cigars. My friend had a baby.”

Concern: Curly Sue can’t spell.

Curly Sue spelled asphyxiate as a stunt, but can’t spell the word cat, and thus can’t read/write. Alisan Porter plays this scene so well – no hammy child actor stuff, just really natural.

Comment: Belushi isn’t Sue’s dad, but he “got her from a one night stand.”

I don’t know about you all, but I’m going to need way more info.

Question: Is Gray the Miss Honey of this movie?

She makes a pitch to Curly Sue that somebody’s going to have to tell Sue about girl stuff or whatever, and Gray would make a great fake mom, I think.

Question: How long do you have to go to school to be a lawyer?

The surly housekeeper says lawyers go to school for 20 years, which I guess is true if you’re counting preschool? IDK I’m a juris doctor, not a math doctor.

Comment: I want to go shopping at a nice store in 1991.

See also.

I know, you know: 1991 was fancy. But more importantly, Gray has a saleswoman present her with different things she might like, which Gray then approves or vetoes. Then they box everything up for her in neat parcels. Maybe I just need to go to better stores.

(When I was about 4, I loved to read a story from the 1950s about a little boy whose mom has a shopgirl at the department store find him new summer clothes – red and blue sandals, plus a red and a blue “nice, cool playsuit” – and has them wrapped in paper and tied with string. It all sounded so tidy. Before we had words for the concept, that was 100% my aesthetic)

Comment: Gray has a nice blowout.
Comment: It’s GrEy, with an E.

Like Grey Poupon, the nice mustard that was fashionable at the time. I’m not going back to change it.

Question: How much fabric is in this wedding veil?

You could prevent zika in 3 brazilian villages with this veil

Needless to say, the bride’s name is Tiffany.

Concern: Grey is getting involved in Belushi & Sue’s cons very quickly for a chilly attorney made of stainless steel and shoulder pads.
Concern: What if this is all a long con on Grey? I’ve grown to really like her and I’d never forgive Belushi.

I’d forgive Sue but only because she’s so freaking cute. Also, I’m not feeling any chemistry between Grey and Bill Dancer, like any at all, and I usually ship everything. Their relationship feels exactly like what it is, a shyster staying with a lawyer for a bit because she hit him with her car.

Comment: Maybe every movie I love is just a variation on Annie.
Question: If Belushi is so good at piano, and Sue’s such a good singer, why don’t they busk? Or get jobs?

I know it’s garbage to ask why homeless people don’t “just get jobs” but these are fictional people and I do wonder.

Comment: Grey’s boyfriend (?) calls in an abuse and neglect complaint on Belushi and I gasp “no!” out loud.

John Hughes always made you care about his characters, who were often really, really terrible parents/legal guardians.

Comment: Grey’s giant scrunchie was such a  status-symbol.
Concern: I’m very distressed about Sue getting seized by CPS, but also, on paper Belushi is an unfit parent.
Comment: Very sure temporary foster care wouldn’t be allowed to just randomly cut Curly Sue’s hair like that.

Ward Of The State hair.

Question: Was a person from the future involved in this production?

When Grey (and Bill?) become Sue’s legal guardian, and Grey wears her school drop-off casual look, she’s wearing the same olive-green jacket that every girl has now.

 

Questions, Comments, Concerns: The Passion

It’s time for another live TV production for everyone on the Internet to comment on! We’ve previously covered The Sound of Music, Peter Pan, The Wiz, Grease: Live! and now we’re giving our thoughts on everyone’s favorite musical, The Passion. Although it’s technically not a musical, but more of a story with music.

What even is The Passion? It’s basically the story of the final days of Jesus’ life. This passion play has been done for years around the world, but this specific show is derived from a British TV production, where celebrities paraphrase certain Bible passages which tell the story of Easter, and in between, they sing live performances of pop songs relevant to the story. Meanwhile, a group of people carry a huge cross towards the main stage in the center square where all the action takes place.

The Passion has been huge in The Netherlands over the past few years, and each year it takes place in a different city. In the American version, Tyler Perry’s The Passion took place in New Orleans on Sunday, which was Palm Sunday aka the Sunday before Easter. Whether you’re a believer or not, there’s still a lot to talk about regarding the actual show, so here are some questions, comments, and concerns that came up while watching this musical event for the first time.

Question: What is this stage?

It looks like it could double as Justin Bieber’s latest tour stage.

Concern: This is not a play

Apparently this show is more of a presentation than a theatrical play. I thought it was more along the lines of telling the Easter story with music, but according to Tyler Perry, it’s not. He is the emcee/host/storyteller/narrator of this show, and I also didn’t realize he was going to be doing an opening monologue and continuously explain what’s happening or what’s about to happen. He starts on the Bieber stage in the middle of New Orleans’ Woldenberg Park, and at one point, he’s trying to get through his speech but people start cheering and he pauses to let them continue cheering. It’s… weird? He also says, “…As New Orleans becomes our Jersusalem” there are more cheers from the crowd, who are v excited to see their city turned into the big JC’s hometown.

Comment: Yolanda Adams is serving Jesus chic in this dress

Gospel singer Yolanda Adams sings the first song of the night, When Love Takes Over, originally by David Guetta and Kelly Rowland. I guess it works.

Comment: I’m thrown by the pre-taped packages

Tyler Perry throws to the huge video screens which show Jesus (Jencarlos Canela) rolling with his crew aka the disciples featuring Prince Royce (Peter), Chris Daughtry (Judas) and Christian singer Michael W. Smith (misc. disciple) singing Celine Dion’s Love Can Move Mountains. They’re initially on a famous New Orleans trolley and make their way to some large park and it’s clear this was one of the pre-taped segments for the show. I’m still trying to get my head wrapped around what’s happening. Like there are these folks on the trolley who I think are acting as if Jencarlos is Jesus, but the folks near Tyler Perry are regular audience members. So I guess the Bieber stage is present day and everywhere else is “Jerusalem”? Does it even matter that I have to delineate which one is which?

Question: Is Tyler Perry going to keep telling us what’s about to happen?

Is it necessary to give a character breakdown of all the people in this show? Tyler Perry gives a brief description of the main players in JC’s crucifixion story, but I feel like we can figure it out? But I guess if no one’s saying lines describing what happened in makes sense? And I get that if people are tuning in and not familiar with the Bible/this story and have no idea who the “characters” involved in this story are, you have to explain it… but why are they watching anyways?

Comment: I see you Pontious Pilate

 You talkin’ to no one, Seal.

Comment: Tricia Yearwood is still a solid singer

Trisha is playing the role of JC’s mom Mary. By “playing” I mean Tyler Perry tells me she’s Mary and Trisha sings a song describing how Mary felt towards her son Jesus. On the bright side, I will say it’s hard to cover a Whitney song and be good at it but Trisha’s doing My Love Is Your Love justice.

Concern: All of the disciples’ scenes are possibly pre-taped

We cut to JC and his disciples in a coffee shop and JC is all, ‘Yo Peter, you gonna be the main man to build this whole Christianity thang’ and Peter’s all… ‘Imma dip out byeeeeee’.

Comment: This is giving me Left Behind vibes

Right now, I feel like I’m watching a Christian movie and Kirk Cameron is going to pop up at any second.

Concern: Jesus is… offputting

Is it horrible that I do not care for the way Jencarlos is playing Jesus right now? It feels forced and he has a hint of cockiness to how he’s playing it, and I don’t like it one bit.

Comment: Cross bearers are part of a glorified news report

Throughout the show, a giant illuminated cross is being carried through the city with more and more people joining the group as they go along the route. Joining them is Nischelle Turner, who is a reporter on Entertainment Tonight – I only know this because I have to watch ET every day but they didn’t mention it during the show. She’s basically like the man on the ground with the cross bearers and talking with some of them as they go. So that’s a thing we didn’t see in Grease: Live!

Comment: “Celebrity” cameos are happening

Jesus goes up to a food truck and asks for loaves and fishes (see: parable). Top Chef alum and The Chew host Carla Hall works on the Fish & Bread (???) truck and happily gives it to him, but did we need a cameo from a familiar face in this?

Comment: No one likes Creed

this is a real angelfire site

Jesus is singing Creed’s With Arms Wide Open during The Last Supper but I think JC would still be on the side of most people by saying Creed isn’t the best.

Concern: Time is going slowly

Trisha Yearwood is currently singing contemporary pop hit Hands by Jewel and legit I feel like I’ve been watching this for 2 hours but it’s only been 30 minutes.

Comment: The cross just went down Bourbon Street

The illuminated cross was brought down New Orleans’ famous Bourbon Street, which if you don’t know is home to a bunch of bars and a lot of Mardi Gras celebrations. So that’s a first. Nischelle interviewed a man who is in the military and also a woman whose teenage son was killed due to violence, so in addition to the Christian story they’re telling, they’re also incorporating social issues. Tyler Perry made a few (horrible) jokes too. I’m just so confused as to what this whole thing is.

Question: Why is Judas singing Evanescence in an empty factory

Judas is having some internal struggles while he battles betraying Jesus, so he decides to since Bring Me To Life by Evanescence in a dark, empty, creepy factory building. I find it impressive yet unnerving due to the location, but Tyler Perry has a different response, saying of the (pre-taped) scene, “Wow, I believe he’s in turmoil.”

Comment: The audience is feelin it

 A lot of the audience members are really feeling the show and are getting emotional. It looks like it could be a scene from Jesus Camp. But then there are some who are the folks who constantly are aware they’re on TV and wave every chance they get.

Comment: Jesus Christ: The Unauthorized Musical

I just realized the best way to describe this show – an unauthorized musical about the final days of Jesus’ life. Remember how a couple of producers in LA have made the Unauthorized Cruel Intentions musical and the Unauthorized The O.C. musical (which I pitched songs for) and the upcoming Unauthorized Friday Night Lights musical? This is what that is. Retelling a story with the characters singing “modern” pop songs is exactly what The Passion is and I wish I truly understood that before I watched this.

Question: Why is it taking so long for Judas to kiss Jesus

Honestly, there’s no time for singing. He needs to betray him immediately. I will say that this is a powerful scene with the police taking Jesus away while the other disciples fight back and an eerie reminder this is what’s happening in America and not just fictionalized Jerusalem.

Comment: Lil Wayne tho

This commercial featuring Lil Wayne just aired and I am dying. He’s actually really funny! And maybe the most entertaining part of this show!

Question: Where is Hoobastank?

Because they’re still getting royalties off The Reason 12 years later and honestly, good for them. But was I missing Hoobastank in my life? No.

Concern: How heavy is this cross tho?

Photo Mar 22, 12 20 03 AM

I know a bunch of folks are carrying the cross and the weight is distributed evenly, but still, it can’t be easy to carry a large illuminated cross for 2 miles.

Comment: A real musical in a faux musical

Trisha’s singing You’ll Never Walk Alone from Carousel and I’d honestly rather watch Carousel right now.

Comment: Seal as Pontius Pilate

Jesus is in custody and brought to the Bieber stage for the first time since the show started an hour and a half ago. Seal also shows up as Pontius Pilate and I’ve always thought that if Seal played a villain it wouldn’t be a stretch. Also, they’re singing a song I’ve never heard before called We Don’t Need Another Hero, which is apparently by Tina Turner for Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

Comment: I think I’m biased against Seal

Remember last week when I said Kiss From a Rose was overplayed and I ended up hating it because of its heavy rotation? I think that has made me subconsciously dislike Seal and throughout his entire rendition of Mad World, I tuned out.

Question: Is Lifehouse a Christian band?

Trisha Yearwood is singing Lifehouse’s Broken, which is not only a song I’ve never heard of but, seamlessly fits as a song Mary sings as she says goodbye to her son. It’s such a good match that I’m wondering if Lifehouse made a foray into Christian music.

Comment: Tyler Perry has confidence

The way pastor Tyler Perry is talking and saying how “amazing” the show is makes it seem like he’s overly confident like he is well aware all of America is watching and tweeting about this show right now. Update: 6.61 million people tuned in to see The Passion, which is way down from when Fox did Grease: Live in January. To put it in perspective, more people watched Steve Harvey’s new kid talent show Little Big Shots than The Passion.

Question: Is Jesus about to pull a Michael Scott?

After the crucifixion (that Tyler Perry described to us instead of it being acted out), Jesus rises from the dead and Jencarlos shows up on the roof of a building overlooking the Bieber stage and the reveal of his location is legit like Michael Scott going on roof of Dunder Mifflin and threatening to jump. Also, it’s really windy which is a bit concerning.

Comment: I guess that was ok

Photo Mar 22, 12 09 28 AM

I think the main problem is that although I knew what the idea of the show was, I still thought it was going to be more like Godspell or Jesus Christ Superstar. Not to say it was horrible. You know who probably really liked this show? My parents. My parents who are super in the big JC and are probably talking about it like we talk about the last episode of Scandal. So, glad they finally have a TV program to chat about.

 

Comments, Questions, Concerns: Grease Live

I guess we, as an American people, have decided that we can’t get enough of lived televised musicals – and I love this development. Something about the live format, the beloved, classic musicals, and the slightly cheesy sets and costumes makes me feel like I’m living in the 1960s, when the whole family would gather around the television set to watch the big Sunday night movie. It feels like I should be eating that kind of popcorn you make in an aluminum pan over the stove, or a quaint dessert like popovers.

Grease Live did not disappoint. Sure, parts of it were a bit questionable, but on the whole it was what light family-friendly television is at its best: just a whole lot of fun. Here are the comments, questions and concerns that came into my head during the very enjoyable broadcast.

Comment: There’s so much stunt casting I’m watching this with the IMDB page open.

Some favorites: Eve Plumb (Jan Brady) as Mrs. Murdock, Didi Con (the original Frenchy) as Vi, Wendell Pierce (The Wire) as Coach Calhoun – not to mention the more heavily touted roles played by Vanessa Hudgens (!!), Aaron Tveit (heart-eyes-emoji), Julianne Hough, Keke Palmer and Ana Gasteyer. And Boyz II Men, who I think are probably all just men now.

Question: Did the fourth wall break?

The musical starts (and ends) with the actors prancing throughout the Warner Brothers backlot – AKA Stars Hollow, among other locations. There are a whole lot of wink-wink references to this being a live musical on television in 2016. It wasn’t bad – it was perfectly fine – but it also wasn’t a necessary addition.

Concern:  The live audience yelling when someone enters like the Titanic is sinking and they missed the lifeboat.

When we were watching The Wiz we noted that the one thing the production was missing was a live studio audience. We got one here, but sometimes it was a bit awkward. Namely, they screamed with joy when the stars entered but weren’t actually present for all of the numbers, where you want to hear an audience applauding and reacting. However, as time went on they were present for more and more scenes. The way they were worked in – visible, sitting in bleachers, watching the action – was a tad awkward, but it was the first go at having an audience at one of these and, as they say in self-help books, we’re aiming for progress not perfection.

Comment: Sandy is from Utah. Julianne Hough is Mormon. Sandy is Mormon.

Mormon Mommy Blogger Chic.

We both watched this with the head-cannon that it was secretly a Modern Mormon Musical. Sandy was a stylish yet modest dresser (like some of our favorite Mormon mommy bloggers) and she was really wholesome, yet friendly to everyone even if they were into stuff she’d never do. However, good luck getting that temple recommend after wearing that Hussy outfit and drinking all that caffeine at the soda fountain.

Concern: Maybe they could have changed the gross lyrics in Summer Nights.

Despite making a few family-friendly lyrical revisions, they kept the line asking if Sandy “put up a fight.”

Question: Are we pretending that Patty is really ugly because of the glasses?

Patty Simcox (Elle McLemore) is clearly gorgeous, but I guess we’re doing that thing where she has bad glasses and a dowdy skirt so nobody can tell. She quickly becomes one of my favorites. Actually, I always liked Patty: she was earnest and a bit of a joiner, but so am I.

Question: Where is my Patty and Eugene spinoff?

If this were a Disney Channel Original Musical there would have been one.

Comment: Jan, in the OG Grease movie and in Grease Live, looks like a cross between a 1950s girl and early 90s Kathleen Hanna.

Question: What are these accents?

Some of the actors are talking like my friends’ nanas from Long Island. Others are talking like the Kristen Wiig “I don’t wanna sing” character. What state is Rydell High supposed to be in?

Question: Was Kenickie only named Kenickie because it rhymed with hickey?

I’m almost positive.

Comment: Aaron Tveit during Greased Lighting, everybody.

Within seconds there were requests on Twitter for Tveit’s pelvic thrust, but me, I’m more into the wink at the end. Oh, who am I kidding. I’m into all of it. (live-tweeting mnemonic: “I before E, except Aaron Tveit.”)

Comment: I ship Danny and Doody.

They have the best duet of the night and they CLEARLY love each other!

Concern: I ship me and Doody.

I think I went through puberty again during Magic Changes. Jordan Fisher was in the Teen Beach Movie franchise and appears to be over the age of 18.

Comment: Vanessa Hudgens is amazing.

Her father died the night before the broadcast, making this the acting version of when a football player’s parent dies the day of the Superbowl or whatever. Her performance would have been just as impressive sans tragic circumstances, but still – wow. No people like show people, y’all.

There Are Worse Things I Could Do is a song you have to nail in order to keep Rizzo from being a cartoon, and she did it. She’s also by far the youngest Rizzo I’ve ever seen, high school productions aside.

Concern: Carly Rae Jepson’s new song.

If they added the song All I Need Is An Angel for awards show eligibility, I have some news they won’t like. It doesn’t even fit stylistically with the rest of the show.

Question: Can Boyz II Men do one of those talking intros where they call Frenchy ‘girl’?

That’s my only quibble. They were WONDERFUL and I was so happy seeing them!

Concern: AC  Slater is hitting on teenaged Marty as though he learned nothing from Jessie Spano.

She’d never allow that behavior.

Comment: Saved By The Bell is really old.

I did some math during the school dance. When Saved By The Bell began, Grease was set 30 years in the past. In 2016, season 1 of SBTB was 27 years ago. Ergo, the late 80s/early 90s look as old to kids today as the NINETEEN FREAKING FIFTIES did when SBTB was on. Which is to say: yikes.

Concern: I feel like people aren’t excited enough about Jan Brady.

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Question: Why is the carnival in the gym?? Especially when there is an outside?

The carnival is set up in the gym, which doesn’t seem the most fun.

Concern: I wish there was a way around Slutty! Sandy.

Sandy’s hoochie clothes are really fun, but I wish there was a way to frame it as something other than her changing for Danny – like that her parents made her dress in those cute pastel librarian clothes but she personally hated it, or something.

Comment: NEVER MIND. THEY GO OUTSIDE. IT IS AMAZING.

Everyone gets a curtain call, and they let actors drive those studio tour carts, and it’s just a whole lot of fun!

Comments, Questions, Concerns: Coat Of Many Colors

Like most tv movies, Coat of Many Colors left us with a few questions, a handful of concerns, and a whole lot to say. Airing on NBC last night, it was a two-hour sugar-fest as Dolly Parton told a childhood tale of this one coat she had. And I loved it.

Comment: Dolly Parton + Red Sequins + A Sleigh + Dollywood = Christmas Magic

Dolly opens the movie wearing a sequined dress and sitting in a sleigh in Dollywood. That might be the merriest thing I’ve seen all season. By the way, when I was a kid I thought Dolly was way older than she is (even though she looks great). It’s because I interpreted her platinum hair as white, and also because being from the Northeast, I’ve only ever known very old ladies to have that kind of sculpted, sprayed-out hair and heavy makeup. But again: Dolly looks wonderful. .

Question: Did Baby Dolly really trot up the aisle at church wearing clownish makeup and singing?

They’re retroactively making Baby Dolly act just like Sassy Adult Dolly. She even quips that she wants to go to heaven but doesn’t want to “look like hell to get there.”  Dolly fans will remember that story about how she saw a heavily made-up woman as a child, and told her mother that’s what she wanted to look like. “That woman’s trash,” her mother replied. “That’s what I’m gonna be when I grow up, trash!” Dolly said. The whole thing sounds more like a funny story an adult would make up, or a Family Circus comic, but whatever. It’s a cute origin story.

Comment: This Baby Dolly actress is adorable. Oh my goodness. And she’s great!

Face it, a lot of child actors are working just because they’re cute, can read lines fairly convincingly, and they aren’t awful to work with. But this girl is adorable and she can ACT. I know 8-year-olds. Most of them could never do this. Her name is Alyvia Alyn Lind; remember it.

Concern: Can this family support another kid?

Dolly is excited about getting a new sibling, but seemingly has dozens already. They’re like blonde, southern Weasleys. I’d say Muggle Weasleys, but we all know that Dolly is magic. (I looked it up, by the way. Dolly had 11 siblings and obviously it worked out just fine for her).

Comment: Dolly’s mom compliments each kid when she prays before dinner.

I don’t even care if it’s not true, that’s beautiful and something I’d do if I had kids. A lot of people complain about the modern ‘everybody gets a prize, everybody is special’ parenting, but if you let kids know what’s wonderful about them they’ll always remember to let those qualities shine.

Question: Will this end with a Christmas scene? I may not be able to deal with that.

Spoiler: it doesn’t, unless you count Dolly in that sleigh again.

Comment: This sequence after Dolly’s brother dies is ROUGH.

Dolly’s baby brother dies and adult Dolly takes over singing. Props to little Alyvia for keeping up with a duet with Dolly Parton. However, if this movie doesn’t pick up after baby Larry dies, I’m going to have to change the channel.

Comment: Jennifer Nettles, everybody.

She’s great! As is Ricky Schroeder, who I didn’t recognize at first but should have due to his trademark twinkling blue eyes.

Question: She’s going to turn the dead baby’s blanket into a coat for Dolly, right?

Right. Dolly is really excited to be the first person to wear it. I’d say that was sad, but as a kid my wardrobe was like 80% hand-me-downs, 10% school uniforms, 10% new, so I feel that.

Concern: I’ve gotten so into this movie that I’m starting to think Willadene and Dolly are pretty cute names.

When I first started at my job, a copy-editor addressed a whole bunch of queries to me as Dolly instead of Molly. I thought it was the cutest mistake ever.

Comment: MAN SCREW THOSE KIDS laughing at Dolly’s coat.

Her coat is beautiful and all their brown clothes suck. They’re like Garbage Pail Kids. Or the Herdmans (Best Christmas Pageant Ever? Anyone?).

Concern: There is an hour left and the only thing to resolve is whether or not Dolly will feel good about her new coat.

And I guess whether her dad will start to like church.

Question: Why don’t we like that girl Judy? She seems nice.

There’s some reason we don’t like the Ogles (the Garbage Pail Kids/ Herdmans) but I must have been out of the room. Anyway, apparently Judy is still Dolly’s BFF, which is precious.

Comment: I just got really excited when I realized Dolly’s dad was probably going to start going to church and become wonderful.
Concern: How will they fit Jolene into this?
Comment: Dolly cuts school to put on makeup at a department store. Dolly, you little scamp.
Comment: “I’ve got a little, shriveled up black heart” – Baby Dolly, expressing my worst fears about myself to be totally honest.

But she doesn’t, of course. Dolly is full of love. Do you all know about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library? Get acquainted. Rumor has it she gives a TON of her money away to other causes too, but it is mostly anonymous.

Question: Can you do big confessions of love at Church like that?

Dolly’s parents have one of those romantic public confession of love scenes — in the middle of church. Can you do that? I grew up Catholic and for us, the answer is definitely no.

Comment: YOU WEAR THAT COAT, PRECIOUS BABY DOLLY.

 

 

Questions, Comments and Concerns: The Wiz

Last night, millions of Americans tuned for another edition of NBC’s ______ Live! Last year, we flew with Allison Williams over London in Peter Pan Live! and the year before that, we named our favorite things with Carrie Underwood in The Sound of Music Live! This year, third time proved to be the charm with The Wiz Live! As expected, the telecast dominated social media with viewers’ quips, but perhaps what wasn’t expected was the sheer positivity across the board. We livetweeted it, but we still have a number of questions, comments and concerns about the show, so here’s our post-mortem on the life-changing musical that was The Wiz Live!

Concern: The Wiz is my pop culture blind spot

Oops. Somehow I’ve never seen The Wiz. Not the MJ/Diana movie or anything from the OG musical. I’ve somehow managed to be in the Wizard of Oz musical, see the horrendous recent Wizard of Oz tour, and Wicked four times, but never The Wiz. This might be my downfall. – T

I’ve seen The Wiz, but the first thing I always remember about it is how someone we went to high school with was in an all-white production, which sounds like a joke but isn’t. – M

Question: Is this a modern day musical?

Dorothy’s dressed like she could be from 2015, but also it’s nondescript enough that it could be a generic timeline. Either way, I’m kind of really into it, and her skirt? – T

Into it, too. Those skirts were popular when we were in high school (c. 2000 – 2004), but had moments in the 70s, 80s and 90s as well. I like the nod to the original light blue and red Dorothy color scheme. But then Auntie Em is dressed like Aunt Bea from Andy Griffith.  “Generic timeline” checks out. – M

Question: Is The Wiz a precursor to The Color Purple?

Pretty sure the cart Stephanie Mills leans against is the same one from The Color Purple. – T

Comment: Beyonce took part in this

The cyclone scene almost looks like it was lifted from a Beyonce tour production, or more specifically, the music video for Ghost. By the by, the choreography was done by Fatima Robinson, who has worked with some of the best musicians in the biz, including Michael Jackson, Pharrell, Aaliyah, and the Backstreet Boys, which is the only reason she’s been a part of my life for so long. She did the choreo for iconic songs like Everybody and As Long As You Love Me, and when I hear her name it’s like *Home*. – T

The cyclone reminded me of those trippy live-action children’s shows from the 1970s, like H.R. Pufnstuf and The Wombles. – M

Question: This costume

If I dress up like one of these munchkins for Halloween next year, will I have missed the boat on the zeitgeist of it all? – T

And if I wore the glittery silver Mary Janes, the Scarecrow’s fun bird blouse, and Dorothy’s skirt in my daily life, would you still be friends with me? – M

Question: Omaha?

Was Dorothy always originally from Omaha, Nebraska?? – T

I THOUGHT IT WAS KANSAS. Was “we’re not in Kansas anymore” just a reference to how Nebraska and Kansas are mostly samesies? – M

Concern: I *almost* forgot just how amazing Amber Riley is

OKAYYYY YOU BETTER SING AMBER RILEY!!! #FlashbackFriday – the time my friend and I were on our way to the Glee concert and were belting out Amber’s part in one of the Glee songs in the car, and Amber rolled up next to us and I looked over, felt flushed with embarrassment and she gave a wave before driving off. Moral of the story, leave the belting to Amber. – T

RYAN MURPHY DOESN’T KNOW A TREASURE WHEN HE HOLDS IT IN HIS HANDS. – M

Comment: Life lesson number one:

“There is some nasty stuff betwixt here and there.” – T

Comment: Looks like Lord Licorice’s house

Photo Dec 04, 4 33 42 AM

Pretty sure this set could double for a Candy Land musical. – T

Thing I’d be into: a Candy Land musical. – M

Comment: Life lesson number two + joke

“Sometimes the most dangerous things are also the most beautiful.” “That’s deep, cuz.” – T

Concern: I might be a Shanice fangirl now

Shanice sings Soon as I Get Home, and I’m actually screaming. YASS SHANICE. A STAR IS LITERALLY BORN. WERK. IT. – T

If Shanice Williams isn’t all over the Broadway stage or a movie screen or WHEREVER IT IS SHE WOULD LIKE TO BE MOST, there’s no good in the world. – M

Concern: I already forgot who’s playing the Scarecrow

That’s how good this costume is. Oh JK it’s Elijah Kelly. I’ve watched Hairspray enough to recognize that voice. – T

I hope Elijah Kelly has been living his best life, and I know he’s worked consistently, but I’m still surprised he didn’t get huge after Hairspray. – M

Comment: Apparently you CAN win

During You Can’t Win, the crows are giving me so many jokes (“I’ll catch you on the B-Side”). Also giving me life with this song. Did anyone else notice the stanky leg from the Scarecrow? – T

Comment: I have a bad memory

Ok I thought I didn’t know any songs from The Wiz, but I forgot about Ease on Down the Road. But is the original arrangement as funky as this version? I love it. – T

I feel like you would also know Home, if only from televised singing competitions. – M

Concern: I’m crying again

And this time it’s for this Barbie commercial. – T

Me too, we’re messes. – M

Question: What’s up with this magic oil?

Yo does this magic oil make everyone sing like Ne-Yo tho because I have some choice handsome men I could think of that could become 10 times hotter if they could sing some R&B. – T

Is this supposed to be very sexual or is there a problem with me? – M

Question: Why do we still not have a live audience for this?

Both The Sound of Music and Peter Pan before this were shot without a live audience, and it was awkward when it came to needing laughs for jokes and clapping after big numbers. If this was shot in front of a live audience, there definitely would’ve been a lot of cheers and applause for Ne-Yo’s robot dance break. – T

Yeah, when you have to time the beats to laughter or applause that ISN’T THERE, it doesn’t work. The whole reason they had fake laugh tracks in old shows is because audiences respond better when they hear other people responding. Give these stars an audience next time! – M

Question: Does the scarecrow’s hair look like The Weeknd or nah?

Photo Dec 04, 4 31 38 AM

Comment: That’s a trusting lion

For someone who’s cowardly, the Lion had an oddly easy time to ease on down the road with strangers. Also, David freaking Alan Grier. What a talent. Also the psychiatrist owl really made me chortle. – T

Comment: Nature’s not for me.

These shenans are exactly why I don’t go into enchanted forests with three strangers. – T

Everyone trusts everyone so much.  – M

Concern: I’m crying again

DIDN’T EXPECT TO BE CRYING THIS MUCH AT THE FREAKING WIZ. YOU BETTER SANG SHANICE AND DAG. – T

Question: What are these poppies trying to get at?

“I know just what they want and it’s not gonna happen.”… Is the Lion going to sex these sexy poppies???? – T

No but everything IS v sexual, right? – M

Comment: Ad targeting

I’m just gonna say it – a lot of these commercials are geared towards black viewers. From McDonalds to USPS, there’s a number of them which prominently feature black actors. It’s like when you’re watching BET and the commercials are not quite the same as the ones you would see on say, Fox News. And it’s great on one hand, as in a whole other demographic is being catered to, but like, also, just show the same commercials during an episode of Castle or The Big Bang Theory. That being said, The Wiz being playing on primetime network TV is so incredibly important, because like I’ve said many times before, representation is important. And this cast and crew is doing an outstanding job at it. – T

“the ones you would see on say, Fox News” – Traci, I love you forever. – M

Concern: I FORGOT COMMON WAS IN THIS

Photo Dec 04, 4 42 59 AM

OK BUT COMMON. I WOULD GLADLY BE DENIED ENTRY TO A CLUB IF I HAD FACE TIME WITH HIM. – T

Question: But I do I get into this club frreal tho?

I am LIVING for this Wiz club! It feels like the set of J Lo’s Waiting for Tonight video filled with dancers from the Sprockets SNL sketch with Mike Myers. ALSO, I can’t stop watching this part where they circle around Dorothy & the squad, and they’re vogueing and whacking while the ensemble says, “Live. Werk. Yass. Fierce. Slay. Serve. Fierce.  Twirl.” “I don’t know what none of that means,” says the Tin Man. LOL. – T

The ensemble is everything! They sell it so hard. – M

Comment: Life lesson number three

“The door is just a door.”

Question: Is this secretly a Spice Girls crossover?

We meet Queen Latifah as The Wiz, sporting a Brigitte Nielsen haircut. She also says the phrase, “Tell me what you want. What you really really want.” Is that a Spice Girls ref or coincidence?? – T

Since we’re sharing embarrassing celebrity encounters: at DeGaulle airport c. 2006, I thought my friend said “Queen Latifah just passed away!” I squealed “No, I LOVE Queen Latifah!” But, she said “Queen Latifah just passed by.” Queen Latifah heard, and smiled like the Queen that she is, and was really nice and chit-chatted with a bunch of American college kids, she’s royalty, the end. — M

Comment: Through the wire
Photo Dec 04, 3 38 52 AM

I just realized Ne-Yo sounds like Kanye circa Through the Wire, because the tin is around his face. Still sounds 10 million percent better than I ever will. Also, I’ve never been so attracted to a chunk of metal before. – T

Question: Is a standing ovation a real standing ovation if you do it by yourself?

I legit just stood up and gave the cast a standing ovation after singing We Got It. I’m watching this alone in my living room. I tried looking up this song and I didn’t realize Ne-Yo co-wrote this specifically for the telecast. Amazing. – T

Am I wrong that they included an original song for award nomination purposes? – M

Comment: Praise in the highest to Queen Mary J

Bitch comes on screen and I’m already all SLAY YASSS QUEEN. By the by, I feel like the words screamed out the most by viewers are “YASS” “SLAY” and “QUEEN” over and over again. – T

When Mary J. was on screen I found myself sitting with my chin propped in my hands and the glistening eyes of a child present at the Sermon on the Mount. – M

Comment: No Bad News = No More Drama

WHEN MARY J BLIGE IS SCREAMING AT YOU TO WORK, YOU WERK. – T

Question: Did we switch to another musical’s set again?

I feel like the Brand New Day scene turned into Fela! all of a sudden. Either way, props to DAG for werking this choreo (including some Carlton and Soul Train action) in the ridic lion getup, and props to him for catching Elijah Kelly in his arms at the end. – T

Concern: Have I become an elderly person at age 29?

Queen in a robe is lit’rally me rollin up to the club. And the club is my bed. – T

Comment: The bench is deep

Legit every member of this cast, including the ensemble is fantastic! – T

Question: Can u not?

UZO ADUBA IS A LITERAL ANGEL FROM HEAVEN. – T

She is SO GOOD as Crazy Eyes that I feel like people don’t even realize how beautiful and amazing she is IRL. – M

Question: Is this a Michael Jackson tribute?

Actually is Dorothy’s jacket an homage to MJ??? – T

Speaking of which, it takes guts to take on a role most associated with MJ. Let’s hear it for Elijah Kelly! – M

Concern: I am crying again

I JUST STOOD IN FRONT OF MY TV CRYING. SHANICE GIVING ME GOOSIES. GIVING ME LIFE. I get really emotional when I see people achieving their best, ya know. Shanice was picked out of obscurity (New Jersey) and because of her true talent – and NBC taking a risk on a non-celebrity – she’s truly become the breakout artist of the year.  (Also watch this video of Shanice post-show. All the tears.)- T

Random final comments:

Overall, I loved this Live! version of The Wiz. The talent, the production value, the costumes (by Hamilton costume designer Paul Tazewell), a teleplay by Harvey Fierstein (I KNOW), the choreo (no but did you see that dabbing tho) – everything. But most importantly, I think something changed last night. Changed the landscape of what we expect and see on television and media in general. Like in the 1970s when this musical made its debut, the themes still have a prominent relevance in today’s society. When kids who are watching this with their families at home can see themselves on the screen, it’s progress. And that is the power of art. -T

 

Questions, Comments, and Concerns: The Pilgrims on PBS

Last night, the Pilgrims aired on American Experience, and we all learned that the Mayflower was a floating piece of garbage that carried miserable people to a land of despair and death. HAPPY THANKSGIVING.

Question: Is Ken Burns Involved?

Ken Burns is behind all of the best American Experience episodes. I also had a semi-crush on him back when I assumed he looked like Richard Attenborough, which actually doesn’t help matters and if anything makes it worse, never mind, let’s pretend I never said that.

[It’s Ken Burns’ brother, Ric, who did this one, by the way.]

Comment: Plymouth Rock is the worst.

 

 

Anyone been to Plymouth Rock? It’s a literal rock, and it’s not even that big, and there’s honestly no way they could have known that it was THE rock. A crowd of people stand on a platform above the rock and your mom just wants to get a good picture and you just want to go on the replica boat.

Comment: Governor Bradford Was The Eliza Hamilton Of Plymouth

… in terms of being the person who controlled how it was represented in history. And also the Alexander, in terms of writing like he’s running out of time.

Comment: It’s like practically the ONLY thing to do in 17th century England was go to church and the Puritans were like “oh no, this is too fun and interesting, better make CHURCH less FUN.” (No offense, church.)

I mean I’ve never been at church and been like “wow, this music is too good right now. Everyone’s breath is amazing and I am entertained by this decor.”

Concern: They Were A Straight-Up Cult

PBS even said. Ken Burns’ brother Ric said. America wasn’t founded so much on the concept of freedom of religion, so much as by a handful of religious crazies, plus other people who thought there was maybe gold here.

Question: Is a boat being ‘seasoned’ a good thing?

Because it kind of just sounds like a way to say “an old boat.” Granted, the Titanic was brand-spanking-new, but.

Comment: “Two miles an hour;” “Chamber pots everywhere;” “Voyage from hell.”

But on the plus side: two dogs.

Comment: The Pilgrims were heading for the Hudson river, but look, I think we’ve all ended up in Provincetown by accident a time or two.
Concern: PBS says it’s “necessary to ask who the savages were,” but I think we all know.

It’s the people who rode a poop-boat to go camping because church was too fun in England.

Comment: That moment when the pilgrims find a rotting skull on the beach and it has blonde hair on it:

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Question: Did Dorothy Bradford kill herself or fall off a boat?

Anyone’s guess, to be honest.

Concern: 50% of the population died by springtime and Bradford was just like, maybe if I don’t write it in my diary nobody will know?

And you know why he did that? Because they propped up the DEAD BODIES AS HUMAN SCARECROWS SO THE INDIANS WOULD THINK THEY WERE GUARDS. I really did need to use all of those caps.

 

Comment: The Mayflower was sold for scrap.
Question: What really happened at the real first Thanksgiving?

Sounds like not much. They ate dinner.

Concern: These people sure did like decorating with dead bodies.

Propping up pilgrims as human scarecrows, hanging up Indian heads in the  town square – just bury them, guys. Just be normal. I’m getting serial killer vibes from all of y’all. The ornament adorning Bradford’s wedding was a head on a pike and linen soaked in blood.

Comment: William Bradford married a 32-year-old woman.

See, all of the relatives I’ll have to see this week?

Comment: Sitting here during this discussion of the high price of beaver like:bingley-giggles.gif

 

“The beaver saved them” – Ken Burns’ brother Ric I guess.

Concern: So, Bradford gets buried in a grave.

Guess the town had all the disembodied heads they could handle.

Comment: Nope, One More Reference To A Head On A Pole Before We Go.
Question: Are we supposed to think Bradford’s journal is legit when a guy just found it in a book store right before the Civil War when there was a “battle” between New England and Southern historians?
Comment: “Somewhere, William Bradford might have smiled.”

But probably not because he’s the kind of man who got married under a rotting head on a stick right?

Questions, Comments, and Concerns: Miss America 2015

The Miss America pageant is still a thing, and we have questions.

Usually we reserve the Questions, Comments, and Concerns format for Lifetime Movies, but it works for anything that lends itself to Cathy Comic humor (which, since the early 1980s, has been the female analog to dad jokes). Vaseline your teeth and hairspray your butt, it’s pageant time!

Comment: Disinterest in Miss America is my destiny.

9/14/86: Kellye Cash’s first full day as Miss America, my first day as a human.

On another September 13, 29 years ago, my mother’s water broke when she was watching Miss America with my sister. I was like “nah, this looks boring, not interested” and waited to be born until the morning. I find that fetal me and newly-29-year-old me have a lot in common.

Question: Who WRITES these tag lines?

Each of the contestants delivers a little …. is quip the word? blurb, maybe … about her state. They all contain either G-rated sexual innuendo, Cathy Comics humor, or a fact about the state that is not what the state is known for. Example: “Popcorn, get your popcorn! Representing the state that contributes the most to the US popcorn supply! I’m Miss (Indiana maybe?)” Miss Massachusetts informs us that hers is the state of Meghan Trainor, just like schoolchildren will be saying 50 years hence. Another contestant mentions that her state is the home of Sutton Foster and I get very excited that Sutton Foster might be on the program. Nope. Just a factoid about Georgia.

Comment: The winner of last year’s pageant graduated debt-free thanks to the Miss America scholarships.

I feel the same way about pageant scholarships as I do about kiddie pageant “prizes.” You must have to incur so many costs participating that all you are really do is recoup some of your expenses. They probably have sponsors, but still. Here’s an NPR article on the topic. For every contestant who wins the big prize, many more get filtered out at the state level or don’t make the first cut and get like $1-3K. I’m just saying, if your goal is to get money for college, there are more direct ways to go about it.

Comment: They all have the same haircut except the one with a pixie.

She’s like the post-haircut Mary Anne Spier of the group.

“Come smell our dairy air!” – actual thing that was said.

Questions: What is this America’s Choice vs Judges’ Choice thing?

Some contestants get in to the top 15 by “America’s Choice” (voting) and others by “judges’ choice.” Is it just a way to make sure that the network gets the people they want in the finals? Like a reality show?

Concern: They are incorporating every awful top-40 song on the airwaves into the broadcast.

Nick Jonas curated them.

Questions: How much does it suck to be the girl NEXT to the girl who is called who has to pretend that she is happy?

Today, they are all Justin Guarini.

Question: The swimsuit competition still exists in 2015?
Concern: The swimsuit competition still exists in 2015.
Comment: Zendaya puts her glasses on during the swimsuit competition, like she really needs to STUDY this.

All of the judges are wearing serious thinking faces, like Joey Tribbiani Smell The Fart acting.

Concern: It seems even worse to be one of the three eliminated after swimsuit than to not make the top 15 at all.

“We thought you were Miss America material, but it turns out you are garbage in a bathing suit.”

Comment: They call the group of former winners the “sisterhood of Miss America.”

Only sisterhood I am interested in: “of the Traveling Pants.”

Concern: The judges seem super ambivalent about swimsuit as well.

Vanessa Williams says the first thing they judge is confidence in swimsuit. Then expounds that this is very hard because all of the contestants dread it. Then maybe just … don’t anymore?

Zendaya: “A woman is more than wearing evening gowns.” Sometimes, it’s wearing bathing suits.

Question: A contestant mentions that she bargain shops for clothes due to her “college budget,” but wouldn’t she have a whole lot more cash flow if she weren’t spending thousands a year on pageants?
Comment:  Mary Katherine Fechtel laid down during the  “lay me down” part of Bridge Over Troubled Water in her dance.

It’s a sentimental, not-too-peppy song, but she dances the whole time wearing a smile that could light up the Eiffel Tower.

Comment: They give little facts about the contestants during their talent.

The contestant singing Happy Days Are Here Again overcame cervical cancer.

Concern: Miss Louisiana cuts a few verses from Climb Every Mountain so it doesn’t make sense.

She is behind a half-beat or so for part of it, which makes me think the backing track is reaching her ears a tad too late.

Comment: Miss Louisiana forgot to tan the back of her arms.
Question: Why the loud background music for the contestant playing piano?

You can tell she’s good, but you can barely hear it for all the synthesized cha-cha . It’s like Hannah Robison (Miss Tennessee) being amazing at piano wasn’t “flashy” enough.

Note:  I can hear piano later, during the  violin number.

Concern: I am probably an awful person for thinking that the monologue was dreadful.

Miss Colorado, Kelley Johnson, performs a monologue as a nurse talking about a patient who has Alzheimer’s. It reminds me very much of a Mary Katherine Gallagher tv movie monologue, and the delivery is stilted. It’s like being a fly on the wall for a bad audition. I always feel for the girls who didn’t have an artistic talent before the contest and obviously had to come up with something they could do.

Comment: It seems like there’s always someone who sings opera.

This year: Miss Georgia, who also gave us that fun tidbit about Sutton Foster. I like her.

Concern: A contestant is asked which woman should go on the $10 bill. She answers Ellen DeGeneres.

I love Ellen as much as the next lady, but she didn’t exactly free the slaves or lead the fight for suffrage, y’know?

Comment: Miss Tennessee nailed a question about defunding Planned Parenthood.

Bless her, she had the eyeballs of a deer who’s about to get hit by a semi, probably because she runs with a pageant crowd from Tennessee, but good on her.

Concern: What will happen when Miss Alabama is asked about Donald Trump?

She says that “if she were a Republican, she would be terrified” of him as a serious candidate. Let’s be clear, I think pageants are silly, but all of the contestants are hardworking, smart, and polished – they have to be to make it this far.

Question: Why were the hosts so hurried that they cut off the judges throughout the whole show, then they draw out the announcement of winner for like 10 minutes?
Comment: You always feel kind of happy when the person you were rooting for wins. Go Georgia! I guess.

Besides, isn’t Betty Cantrell a great name for a pageant winner from Georgia? You could also hear her eye-roll when she explained that her gown shows “like an inch of midriff,” making me think she’s had to explain that dozens of times already.

Concern: After the crowning my station abruptly cut to black then started playing Judy Blue Eyes by Crosby Stills & Nash.

… which made me worry that a disaster occurred in Atlantic City. It’s fine. Just my local ABC affiliate being a silly goose.