Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Maybe We're Being Punked?*

This is a joke, right?

Disney XD orders “Pair of Kings” a live-action comedy series for kids and families about two fraternal twins who are living a typical teenage life in Chicago, but unbeknownst to them, are the successors to the throne of The Island of Kinkou. The multi-camera series will begin production in Hollywood in March 2010 and begin airing in Fall 2010 around the world.

Starring are popular actor and Walt Disney Records recording artist Mitchel Musso (“Hannah Montana,” “Phineas and Ferb”) as Brady and Doc Shaw (“The Suite Life on Deck” and “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne”) as Boomer.

…Oh dear.

So we've got a wacky buddy show (they're twins! But one is black and the other is white! Craaaazy!) about kids who relocate to a wacky island nation with wacky island ways. Absolutely no potential for inadvertent racism there, no sirree! (Note: sarcasm.)

On top of which, while I know basically nothing about Doc Shaw (I've never seen House of Payne, and the Suite Life on a Motherfucking Boat is so terrible it's essentially unwatchable), I've always been pretty fond of Sandwich Boy and his ludicrous hair. I'm glad he's got another acting project on deck, because he's always been one of the only watchable things about Hannah Montana. And while I didn't have high hopes for him, precisely, I had sort of assumed, I don't know, that he'd concentrate on his music career (that should probably be in sarcastic quotes) for awhile, and then fade away, only to burst back on the scene eight or ten years from now as a charming sidekick on an otherwise-crappy network sitcom.

Instead, it's straight to another Dinsey project, on a lesser-known network, with a premise that seems, at best, pretty dumb, but holds potentially to be so much worse.

Who knew it was even physically possible to step down from Hannah Montana?

* Maybe we'll get to meet Ashton! But probably not, because he's too busy trying to bring The Beautiful Life Colon TBL back from the dead. Uh, good luck with that, dude.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Just when I thought I couldn't love her any more...

Fact: There is nothing in this world that makes me smile more than tap dancing.

Fact: My absolute favorite tweendom star is quintuple threat Jennette McCurdy, who charms me on a regular basis with her singin' dancin' writin' skatin' best-actor-on-iCarly-in' ways.


Jennette tap dances on "iWas a Pageant Girl" from Nickelodeon Press on Vimeo.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

A question for the readers...

Does it count as a toolish wool cap if it's actually weather appropriate? If so, we have #9. What say you?


Thursday, December 17, 2009


I haven't posted here in forever, have I? I suck. In lieu of actual posts containing the hard-hitting making-fun-of-the-Jonas-Brothers you've come to expect from Tweenage, have some quick links 'n' stuff:

- This picture made me laugh because it's so hilariously emblematic of the HP kids. Bonnie: 16 going on 40. Man Radcliffe: Looking like the world's most formal elfin interior decorator. Emma: Rocking an age-appropriate trend that I would probably loathe on anyone else. Rupert: Looking unaware that the British do not generally make stoner comedies, so he can probably stop being all method about it; also, like a hobo. Tom: Not as cool as he thinks he is. And I don't know who that other dude is.

- Dylan and Cole Sprouse Play Video Games with the Eldery. I seriously thought that was an Onion headline at first.

- Just for Becky: Esteban returns to Suite Life! Set the TiVo!

- Okay, a little making fun of the Jonas Brothers, from the always-fabulous Kate Beaton.

- And finally, in the spirit of the holiday, have some Alyson Stoner, who is far more adorable and talented than Camp Rock would lead you to believe:

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Zac Efron is a Lying Liar Who Lies

Zef to

"There are little things you have to forgo (as a celebrity). If you walk around in sweatpants and don't shave or shower, or look a bit sleepy, there's a high probability that there are going to be rumours out there that you're on drugs or starting some sort of spiral downhill. So I've always tried to look my best, and look clean when I go outside. I think I owe it to everybody to show up well-groomed and put in a little effort. It's the least I can do."

Emphasis mine.

Zef: We know that's a lie. Does it hurt when your pants are on fire like that?


Sunday, November 15, 2009

Zac Efron Wool Cap Watch: #8

FINALLY! After several months of photos where Zef looked like a giant tool -- as he does -- but without his trademark knitted cap, he brings a new one to the mix. It does resemble #7 (also black), but it appears to be ribbed entirely instead of having a ribbed brim band type thing.

Welcome, Toolish Cap #8. You are in ridiculous company.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Oh, HELL no.

Unacceptable. I have no opinions on Jennifer Stone, but awkwardly forcing Harriet (a teenage Harriet) into the modern age by having her blog (Why on earth would she blog? The things she writes about are secret! THAT'S KIND OF THE WHOLE POINT.) makes me want to punch everything. NICKELODEON ALREADY TRIED TO MAKE A COOL, MODERN HARRIET THE SPY AND IT DIDN'T WORK. STOP IT.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

I recognize most of the costumes and about half of the kids in this photo, but am left with one very important question:

What exactly is David Henrie dressed up as? A douchey dudebro? I'm starting to worry we may need a "douchey pictures of David Henrie" category around here, alas.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I Kissed a Vampire and Was Kinda Underwhelmed By It

From the second that I Kissed a Vampire, a rock musical webseries staring Lucas Grabeel and Drew "Emmy Nominated, No, Really" Seeley, was announced, it was clear I was going to have to watch it, right? I mean, that's just common sense. Apparently, Misters Grabeel and Seeley agreed, because they were kind enough to hold a free premier event in NY, which they both attended, where viewers were treated to all three episodes and a free t-shirt. So, naturally, I attended.

I'd be frank, but we know that's just not my style, right? To beat around the bush, it is totally worth it to purchase the series on iTunes, if your goal is to support Lucas and Drew (and Adrian Slade, I guess, though I have no emotional investment in her). And that is a noble, totally worthwhile goal! I would support you in doing so! But if you purchase I Kissed a Vampire, that should be your only goal. Because guys… It was bad.

Like, bad-bad.

I went into expecting something terrible but full of ludicrous fun. Instead, it was just terrible. I mean, there are nice things I can say about it! It was almost a half-hour total, and I wasn't bored! The cast members all have lovely singing voices! I enjoyed seeing boys in eyeliner! But… Yeah, that's about it.

There were a bunch of weaknesses. The series was amusing, but didn't go nearly far enough to be good parody. It wasn't parodying anything in particular, either, as far as I could tell; there was sort of a general sense of, "Oh, vampires are hot right now, so we'll do vampires, but kind of funny, I guess? And singing! No one has done singing vampires before!" Except that yes, they have, and so while there were a few amusing lines, the parody aspect fell flat.

To give credit where it's due, I'll acknowledge this: Drew was flat-out, show-stealing-ly hilarious. Every single line he delivered made me laugh; in fact, looking back, those are the only lines I can remember. And while the whole thing was campy, he was the one who really turned it up to 11 -- where it needed to be, frankly -- frolicking around, licking guitars, made up like (as my friend Jen put it) the bastard love child of Ryan Ross and Pete Wentz.

But, speaking of laugh lines, it turns out that Lucas Grabeel does have an Achilles heel as an actor: punchlines. I was surprised, too! You guys know how much I love him and think he is fantastically talented! But every punchline he delivered fell into a sort of awkward no-mans-land of humor; none of the ludicrousness was played up enough to keep pace with Drew "Another Cinderella Story, No, I Mean the One With Selena Gomez" Seeley, but it was consistently played with too much of a wink to the audience to be a straight man or to let the situation speak for itself. (Um. Adrian Slade was also there. The fact that there's not much to say about her is primarily the show's fault; she had one big number, and otherwise did not, in fact, do anything at all.)

As for the material the cast had to work with… Oy fucking vey.

There was no story, no plot, no nothing. Each episode was an intro monologue, a few lines of dialogue, a song, a few more lines, a song, and out. The songs didn't advance the plot or establish character, particularly, and there just wasn't enough dialogue to carry plot or characters, either. So… There was basically nothing to it. Which would have been okay if the songs had been stand-out phenomenal, but they weren't; again, while well performed, the best of they managed was instantly forgettable, with not a single tune stuck in my head after. The worst was flat out dreadful. I mean… Really, really atrociously bad.

And yet, the worst part? During the Q&A session after the screening, the people behind the production -- the writer and director, if memory serves, though one may have been the producer? -- essentially copped to… Well, not how bad it was, exactly, but how utterly unconcerned they were with making it good. Like, they said, in as many words, "Oh, we weren't trying to put together something where one scene really followed another," and "We don't really know that much about vampires," and "It wasn't about telling a story." When asked a question about internal consistency by a fan, they were obviously shocked that anyone actually did assume that the series was supposed to move logically from points A to B, or present us with characters were should care about, or tell us a story about, I don't know, a guy who was bitten by a vampire and can't quite come to terms with it.

Though the fact that no one tried to do that was pretty clear from watching it.

So, all in all? It was a big mess. But on the upside, these moments happened!

So I count the night as a win, frankly.

Monday, October 5, 2009

No guilt here, just pleasure.

One of the (many) reasons I love Tizz is that she just keeps getting better. She was vaguely endearing when The Suite Life of Zack and Cody started; she wound up being the apparent glue that held the show together, since The Suite Life on Deck is unwatchable without her. She was one of the only tolerable actors in High School Musical; by High School Musical 3, her background eyerolls were more entertaining than anything in the nonsense plot. And while her debut album, Headstrong, was an embarrassment all around, Guilty Pleasure, her sophomore effort, is…really, really fun. Who knew?

This is first and foremost because Tizz sounds surprisingly good. Gone is the squeaky, Hilary Duff-esque Tizz of the past; this is a strong, grown-up voice, one that can actually belt and convey multiple emotions, something only a couple of her peers can do. It’s a continued growth from her surprisingly good (albeit sadly truncated) singing performance in HSM 3. Hey, remember how we all scoffed at her “deviated septum” story back when she had her nose job? It might actually have been true, because she sings much more powerfully and less nasally now. I know, I can’t believe it either!

The songs themselves are, for the most part, decent. Most of them tend to run together – there’s 19 on the album, and a good five could have been cut without a noticeable change to the content. They all tend to follow a basic formula of “purred verse, bridge, shouted chorus, rinse and repeat,” as if whoever wrote them was taught to adhere to song structure as rigidly as Elizabethan sonnets, but they’re definitely listenable. The whole album is also seriously 80s-inspired; the title track in particular sounds like it was once recorded by Paula Abdul in her heydey. Others, like “Crank It Up,” sound more current, where “current” equals “like a lost track from Britney Spears’ Circus.”

There are, however, some standouts. There’s only one really bad song, “How Do You Love Someone,” but its caterwauling melodrama is really bad. And the otherwise unremarkable “Time’s Up” is notable for bizarre lyrics like “We’ve squeezed the fruit ‘til there’s no more juice left” and “This cake’s already baked.” Uh. What?

On the other hand, there are some really bright, fun songs: “It’s Alright, It’s OK” is a great kiss-off song, “Hot Mess” is endearingly, well, messy, and “Switch” is bouncy good times. On the rather lovely ballad “Me Without You,” Tizz delivers a vocal performance I wouldn’t have guessed she was capable off, moving effortlessly from whispered vulnerability to a belt that reaches to the cheap seats. And “Hair” is hands-down the best song on the album; the lyrics are clever (well, if you ignore the part where she says “unperfect”), Tizz’s singing is strong, and the whole thing has a lilting, unusual cadence that I just can’t get enough of.

This is not the next Abbey Road, or even the next, say, Oops! I Did It Again. But it is a good, strong, fun album, and gosh darn it, I’m proud of Tizz. Keep it up, sister! You keep defying my expectations, and that’s just fine by me.

Because it's been awhile...

...have a stupid picture of Zac Efron.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

MAJOR Details

Things I Love:

1. Stories about girls' private schools.
2. Stories about girls solving mysteries.
3. Stories about girls' friendship.
4. Jennette McCurdy.

Movies That I Am Going to Watch the Crap Out Of, Even Though They Are Direct-to-DVD and Don't Look Very Good:

1. Minor Details, baby!

Pic from Just Jared, Jr.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fame: Pretty Good, ActuaTHEY DID WHAT???

Despite my reservations, I saw Fame tonight. It was pretty good! Except for one aspect that was completely infuriating and disgusting and more retrograde and vile than anything shown in the 1980 version. WHOOPS. What follows is a quick, non-spoilery breakdown of the performances, followed by a SPOILER WARNING, followed by the infuriating part. (Although I should point out that Fame, like both the original film and the play, has no plot, so there's not much to be spoiled.)

The Kids We'd Heard of Before: Little Panabaker was quite good! So was Anna Maria Perez de Tagle, who really, really needs a better stage name, but who can apparently do justice to a script that's neither Hannah Montana nor Camp Rock. Kherington of So You Think You Can Dance turns out to be a mediocre actress, but she was also, oddly, a mediocre dancer - technically fine, but nowhere close to the entrancing uber-goddess she was supposed to be. Asher Book of V Factory was definitely the weakest link acting-wise, and though his singing was not bad, he sounded...well, like a member of a boy band, which didn't really fit in with songs like "Someone To Watch Over Me."

The Kids We Hadn't: All quite good! Naturi Naughton is rightfully going to get a lot of praise for her voice. None of the others were real standouts to me, but they all did very well.

The Grownups: Should have had more to do - at least, Bebe Neuwirth, Kelsey Grammer, and Megan Mullally should. They didn't have much to do besides expose the soft fleshy underbellies of their students, and Megan's one song was a disappointment, but they captivated the viewers' attention (particularly Bebe) in a way these wet-behind-the-ears young actors haven't yet learned to do. (And one scene made me want epic fanfiction about how Kelsey Grammer's character is in love with Megan Mullally's. I DON'T KNOW.)

And now, for the part that pissed me off...


Little Panabaker and Asher Book play aspiring actors who start dating. At a party, Andy, a former student of the school who is now a regular on a TV show, approaches Little, compliments her on a recent performance, and suggests she come by the set to meet the casting director and audition as a day player. He's also clearly into her, although it's not clear if she knows that. She's thrilled at the professional opportunity, and gives him her number. Asher comes in just in time to see her apparently give some guy her number and accept a kiss on the cheek from him, and storms out. She explains what happened, apologizes (even though she didn't do anything wrong), offers to never talk to Andy again if that's what Asher wants, and then placates him by inviting him up to her empty apartment. So...placating the angry boyfriend by telling him he can veto who she talks to and then offering sexual favors (it's not clear how far they go, but they're not going to her apartment to play Parcheesi)? Uh...sounds great.

Then she goes to Andy's set and is invited into his trailer. He tells her the casting director isn't there, but wants them to make a video, and oh, here's a kissing scene in the script - all a very transparent attempt to get into her pants. She doggedly attempts to act the scene a couple of times, but finally realizes (or accepts) that this isn't legit, tells him off, and leaves. Good for her! In the original film, something similar happens but the girl doesn't get the courage to leave, and I was pleased that Little was able to do so.

Next scene: she's telling Asher what happened. She's clearly very upset, and with good reason - she was just betrayed and molested.

He gets mad at her.

His girlfriend was just SEXUALLY ASSAULTED, and he yells at her while she cries that she knew all along what was going to happen, that she was using sexuality to get ahead, and that if being famous means that much to her, fine, he's done. Then he storms off.

Some time later, at a party with mutual friends, she apologizes again for hurting him and asks if they can ever get past it. He doesn't answer, but later in the scene takes her hand, which apparently means that he's forgiven her.

For being MOLESTED.

This movie blames the victim of sexual assault for bringing it on herself. Her boyfriend essentially calls her a slut and a tease and breaks up with her because she was tricked and violated. This didn't happen in the 1980 film, or the 1988 play, when female characters found themselves in similar situations - situations which turned out a lot worse for the girls in question. All they received was sympathy.

No, it's not until 2009 that we're told that a 17 year old girl who trusts a former schoolmate not to take advantage of her is BAD and WRONG for DARING to be alone with a man without her boyfriend's permission. It's not until the 21st century that Fame wants us to join this supposedly likeable, upstanding boyfriend in shunning a girl who has just been through a traumatic experience. It's not until now that we're expected to applaud a steaming pile of misogyny in what is otherwise a pretty decent movie.

Way to take us backwards, Fame. Fuck you.

Spoke too soon!

So you know how this morning I made passing reference to Corbin's new show, The Beautiful Life-Colon-TBL?

Did I mention it wasn't very good? Because it really, really wasn't. Aaaaaaaaaaand, it's already canceled.

Sorry, Corbin. But you're still super-cute, if that helps. Especially when carrying a puppy.

Round Up

Some brief happenings, mostly but not exclusively featuring the HSM alum crowd, because even as HSM's stranglehold on tween culture fades, they remain my favorites:

* Lucas Grabeel (and Drew "Singing Voice of Zac Efron" Seeley) are making a musical vampire love story webseries.

* Tizz is blond again! For the most part, she's been looking awesome lately, but at the Fame premier, not so much.

* Corbin's motocross movie finally premiered. Meanwhile, The Beautiful Life-Colon-TBL also premiered. Thing I love about it: Corbin wandering around with no pants on. Things I am bored to tears by: virtually everything else. Alas.

* And finally, Sterling Knight gets a DCOM scheduled for next year. Hooray! (And yes, I read Popstar Online for this blog.)

And because what the heck, it's Friday, have a flashback:

O-Town: Liquid Dreams

Not gonna lie. I watched every episode of their two seasons of Making the Band.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Wizards Movie: Who Knew?

So. Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie. Here are four short words I never thought I'd find myself typing, unqualified and unironically, in a review of a DCOM -- let alone a DCOM based on one of Disney's kidcoms:

It was pretty good.

Not "it was an infuriating waste of my time, or "cute cast, terrible movie," or even "it was enjoyably bad."

It was pretty good! Like, actually good in the way that you want a movie to be!

The two-second summary: Alex and her mother are fighting non-stop during their family vacation, and Alex makes a thoughtless, angry wish that her parents had never met. Of course it comes true, and now she, Justin, and Max only have two days to get find the Stone of Dreams, a magical artifact that can grant (or in this case, reverse) any wish.

Basically, this movie is what would happen if you threw Goonies, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Back to the Future, and It's a Wonderful Life into a blender: treasure maps, mysterious booby traps, characters who disappear because history has been altered, and a revelation of just how good life really is. But, while the action adventure sequences are fine (unlike the regular series, the effects aren't laughably bad; but they're nothing to write home about, either), what ultimately sets it apart as probably the best DCOM I can think of is the fact that it's a well constructed story. There's only one movie in the movie (something DCOMs aren't alone in screwing up; a lot of recent tween and teen movies have tried to shoehorn two, three, or in some cases seven plots into one movie, *cough*CampRock*cough*). There are some bits that don't really make sense (they make the rule that the kids will forget things, but for most of the movie, only Max does, and then he disappears; Justin forgets things all at once, two seconds before he disappears) or were never followed through with (what exactly had Giselle the parrot done to earn her punishment, and why did the street magician guy go off with her at the end, after she'd been so horrible to him?).

But the plot was smooth enough that it didn't take away from the actual important part: the interpersonal relationships.

Whoa, I never thought I would type that about a DCOM, either. But it's true!

The movie does several things well at the character level: for one thing, you can see how the kids get their personalities from their parents, in an "I learned by watching you!" sort of way. The most obvious example is Max, when he's hanging out with his now-single, still-magic-possessing father. Generally, Max is an immature joker -- and now we see, so's his dad! And without hammering the point too hard, Max learns what a pain that can be to deal with by spending time with his dad.

Better still, the kids (especially Alex) relate to their parents the way actual teenagers do. Every fight Alex had with her mom impressed me, because they didn't seem at all contrived; yeah, magic, whatever, but other than that, they were fights that a lot of teenage girls do have with their mothers.

But, because I am a sucker for such things (and because, let's face it, Selena and D-Hen are the best things about the show), it was the surprisingly depth to the relationship between Alex and Justin that got me and knocked the movie up from "fine" to "pretty good" territory. In the regular series, we see that Alex is a slacker who's perfectly good at magic, but doesn't care enough to try. And we see Justin is a neurotic nerd. And we know that they don't generally get along. It turns out, all of these things have motivations! Justin is desperate for his parents' approval, and thinks that being super-smart is the only way he can earn it. Alex sees that his parents do approve of that, but thinks that she can never live up to his example, so she refuses to even try. Justin is sick of getting in trouble because of Alex. Alex is sick of Justin being a know-it-all. They fight because of all of these things, and through the course of the movie, they gain empathy for one another, they make it clear that beneath it all, they really care about each other, and it's kind of. Um. Touching. And not in a bad-touch way.

You guys, a DCOM had character depth in a way that made sense and drove the plot along and made me care about things! What madness is this? And if Disney can actually find competent people to write and direct things, why don't they do it more often????

Look: the movie wasn't perfect. When I said it seemed like someone had stuck those four movies in a blender, I wasn't joking; there's leaning heavily on movie tradition, and then there's borderline plagiarism, and this movie is much closer to the latter. Nothing about it was especially original, or strikingly brilliant. But (given the source material, and the quality of basically all other DCOMs), it was better than it had any right to be, and even removing the context of the Wizards series and the tradition of DCOMs making no sense, you're left, well… A movie that was pretty good.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

She's not like other girls.

I like iCarly a lot, but one of the major weaknesses of the show is the character of Carly – or, more precisely, the lack thereof. She’s smart, but not a nerd! She’s cool, but not too cool! She’s not particularly temperamental or particularly laidback or particularly interested in things or particularly anything. She’s not zany like Spencer or aggressive like Sam or nerdy like Freddie. All she ever gets to do on the show is react. This is not a good or strong or entertaining centerpiece for a television show!

On the other hand, there's Sam, who is the very best part of the show, and the complete opposite of Carly in that she's absolutely bursting with personality. Sam is played by my tween BFF Jennette McCurdy, and Jennette McCurdy’s amazing hair. Seriously, I know I’ve said it before, but this hair is magical. Check it out:

Anyway. Sam is loud. Sam is uncouth. Sam is ill-behaved.

Sam is a fantastic role model.

Obviously kids should not model their behavior on Sam’s. Sam doesn’t do her homework, she sasses the teachers, she attacks kids in the hallway on little-to-no provocation. She’s violent and rude and a bit of a bully, and her moral compass is a little borked. This is not a good way to behave!

And yet.

Sam is a girl on TV, and yet she still gets to be loud and uncouth and ill-behaved. She gets to eat enormous quantities of meat and push people around and buff her feet on Carly’s couch, and…that’s just Sam. The show doesn’t make her worry about her weight or tell her to nibble daintily at a salad. It doesn’t restrain Sam in any way. She just gets to be Sam, and her friends and her audience love her for it.

Which is why I was so very disappointed when iCarly pulled the same stupid bullshit Hannah Montana did, way back in Season 1. In “You Are So Sue-able To Me,” otherwise known as the Most Infuriating Hannah Montana Episode Ever, Lilly has a crush on some random Boy of the Week, who is obviously equally smitten with her, but Miley tells Lilly that she (Lilly) is “not a girl” and thus cannot attract him. Miley gives Lilly a makeover, but the boy stands her up, so Lilly takes him to some kind of teen court TV show, where she discovers that the boy liked her just the way she was, and happily goes back to the old Lilly. Because it’s not okay to be yourself unless a boy likes you that way!

The iCarly version of this, “iMake Sam Girly,” sidestepped some of the problems with the HM episode. Sam really is uncouth and undainty, as opposed to Lilly, who had those attributes slapped onto her for an episode and forgotten the next week. Carly totally accepts Sam the way she is and only agrees to make her over when Sam asks for help, instead of Miley’s fairly nasty and totally unwarranted attack on Lilly. And Sam goes back to being herself in order to protect herself and her friends by fighting a bully. But she’s still subjected to half an episode of “you are wrong for being yourself,” and she is still validated by the Boy of the Week continuing to like her. Both episodes even have their tomboys eat spaghetti messily to prove how unladylike they are. And both episodes turned my stomach.

“I want to be more like you!” Sam tells Carly at one point. “You know, all soft and girly and weak.”

It’s a funny line, but when I heard it I thought of a comment I’d once seen on the official iCarly website, left by some little girl out there in viewerland: “I think Sam is the coolest, strongest girl I have ever seen.”

And I wondered what that little girl would think of Sam – the strongest girl she’d ever seen – begging Carly to teach her how to be weak, because that’s how girls are supposed to be. Unless, of course, a boy tells them they can be otherwise.

Come on, iCarly. You can do better. Let Sam be Sam.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


This weekend, your bloggers took a journey to the heart of darkness -- or, more specifically, to the small New Jersey town where Jess went to high school. We were only trying to beat the heat of New York City, but it turned out to be thematically appropriate, because while in the Garden State Parkway State, we saw Bandslam, which is not only set in a New Jersey high school, but which turned out to be much like Jess's high school experience: angsty, hormonal, poorly paced, and full of ska. Oh, and kind of suckish.

A few of our commenters had let us know that a) the movie was much better than it looked; and b) it was completely mismarketed. Y'all were right on both points. The marketing failure is basically understandable, when you consider that it's starring both Vanessa Hudgens and Aly of Aly & AJ (sorry, I mean 78violet) fame; making it look sparkly and tweenie was inevitable. But that wasn't the movie's real market -- it was a teen comedy, more along the lines of 10 Things I Hate About You (albeit with a more indie feel); it's a movie meant for actual teens who are actually in high school. You can tell, because it was heavy on the How Much High School Sucks commentary.

Jess: It also had the kind of protagonist who appeals more to teens than tweens: the awkward, sensitive loner Will, played to perfection by Gaelan Connell, who probably spent the entire movie baffled by the fact that he was playing opposite Aly and La Hudge. He had the earnestness of a teenager who is totally into classic rock and convinced that he's the only one who's ever heard of, say, Led Zeppelin down pat, and he may soon start stealing roles from Michael Cera, but God, I'm so sick of whiny nice guy misfit protagonists, and the fact that the plot went seriously awry towards the end doesn't really help me to like Will. But more on that later.

Becky: Squeaky Hudgens played outsider Sa5m (the 5 is silent), and made a serious effort to be less piercing than usual. She doesn't quite pull off flat monotone, which makes her first few scenes awkward, but when the writing settled down and focused less on "look what a misanthropic outsider weirdo she is!" she did a pretty good job. But the script never quite decided what kind of outsider she actually was -- the visual cues (heavy eyeliner, black nailpolish) said goth, but the personality cues leaned much more heavily towards shy nerd. And somehow they missed the archetype that would have actually made sense, the music-obsessed indie chick, which is a shame, because if Sa5m (that causes me physical pain to type) had been more into music, it would have made the relationship between her and Will read a lot more genuine.

Jess: Aly Michalka was much more convincing as Charlotte, the oh-so-fascinating-and-unattainable rock goddess who recruits Will as her band's manager. (The plot around her character was kind of rocky, but that wasn't her fault.) Lisa Kudrow and Scott Porter were fine but unremarkable as Will's mom and Charlotte's ex-boyfriend, respectively, although Scott Porter can barely pass for a college student anymore, let alone a high school one. The rest of the cast of kooky misfits was appropriately kooky and misfitty.

Becky: Basically, this movie had all the elements it needed for a decent teen flick. The pacing was a little off and some elements never quite gelled into place -- Hudge's jealousy of Aly springs to mind -- but the first 3/4 or so were fun and watchable. Some of it was actually really sweet, some of it was really funny. But unfortunately, it went all to hell at the climax. The climax was supposed to be a double-whammy of awfulness: it's revealed that Will's been lying to everyone about his father, and also, Charlotte has betrayed everyone. And while the first part more or less works, the second... Not. At. All.

Jess: Yeah. Not to spoil you guys too much, but the "betrayal" scene basically consists of Will, our ostensible hero, screaming at Charlotte for being distant and cranky on the way to her father's funeral. At which point Becky and I realized we both hated him, and none of his mopey "poor me" posturing for the rest of the movie could get him back into our good graces.

Becky: Not to mention the fact that her "betrayal" didn't actually involve betraying anyone. The only thing she did that was in any way bad was make Will feel bad about himself, and since he was being a total asshole AND her father had just died, yeah, our sympathy was with her, not him, which wasn't what the movie wanted us to take out of that scene. And it didn't help that the entire rest of the movie was about what a super-special, awesome, all around fantastic, fabulous guy Will was. ZOMG WE GET IT. SHUT UP, MOVIE.

Jess: And then the movie wanted us to believe that Will's band went on to take the world by storm. There are several reasons to doubt this:

1. The band's name is "I Can't Go On...I'll Go On." What? No. Shut up.
2. It is fronted by Vanessa Hudgens in a macrame dress. Rawk.
3. They cover "Everything I Own," which...I'm sorry, but you cannot rock out (or shred, which Vanessa commanded them to do in the trailer but sadly not in the movie) to a Bread song. A Bread song that has been covered by *NSYNC, Boy George, and Olivia Newton-John.
4. It's a ska band! Ska! I'm sorry, I didn't realize this movie was set in 1994.

Becky: And finally, let's not forget some casual racism. Early on in the movie, Will completely dismisses a group of black students as listening to hip-hop or rap; they aren't worth his time to talk about (in fact, the only black students I can recall seeing are listening to or performing rap and hiphop). He goes on to make fun of white kids who are listening to reggae. But repeatedly in the movie, he and other characters profess their deep love of ska artists by saying, "They took reggae...and made it their own!" So: black kids enjoying music primarily performed by black people? Dismissed out of hand. White kids listening to music primarily performed by black people? Laughably stupid. But white kids listening to music primarily performed by white people while actively applauding the artists for appropriating it from black people? AWESOME. Not that it's a surprise. After all, Will is obsessed with rock generally, so I guess it's a proud tradition.

Jess: Basically, Bandslam had elements of a good movie floating around in there, but failed to tie them together, and threw a few major stumbling blocks in there for good measure. We basically wanted to go back in time, get our hands on the script, and mark it up like crazy with our red pens. Alas, that technology is not yet available. If you're a big Hudgens or Michalka fan or enjoy neurotic white guys being sad about their lives (and someone must, or Woody Allen wouldn't have a career), you could do worse than giving Bandslam a shot. But you could do a whole lot better, too.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Baby, remember my name

The latest remake of Fame leaves me with many questions. Is it based on the movie, the stage show, the TV show, or is it just a bunch of kids at a performing arts school with a couple of the more recognizable songs crammed in there? Is it still set at the New York High School of Performing Arts, and if so, does it take place in the 80s, since the NYHSoPA was folded into LaGuardia High School a quarter century ago, and I don't see any painters in the trailer? And perhaps most importantly, what on earth is the point of remaking a movie that's less than 30 years old? I mean, the clothing may be violently late 70s, but the film's central thesis isn't exactly dated beyond recognition.

It's not that I'm in love with the original Fame. I've actually always found it rather boring. But I'm so very baffled by this new one! And vaguely concerned by the veneer of glitz they seem to be laying over it, when the original Fame was more about laying bare the hardwork and agonies of performing - not about the stage, but about the memorization, the vocal scales, the exercises at the barre, the blood, sweat, and tears that go into that fleeting chance to, as the song says, live forever. It's not sparkly.

I am pleased by the cast. Bebe Neuwirth and Debbie Allen are rightfully living legends, Kesley Grammer is an inspired choice, and Megan Mullally will probably surprise quite a few people with her pipes. As far as the kids go: Asher Book is the perfectly acceptable frontman of the fairly decent boy band V Factory, and from what I can tell from snippets of the soundtrack, he is at least vocally pretty much perfect for the part I suspect he's playing (regardless of the version, Fame always seems to have a skinny neurotic white boy actor, although if that's him with the guitar in the poster he may have just thrown my theory out the window). Kay Panabaker (or Little Panabaker, as we call her) has appeared on various Disney Channel stuff, and although our hearts belong to her older sister (Big (Danielle) Panabaker, star of our beloved Sky High), we're down with all Panabakers as a rule. Anna Maria Perez de Tagle (you probably should've shortened the stage name, hon) plays a bitchy sidekick (poorly) in Hannah Montana and a bitchy sidekick (poorly) in Camp Rock. Let's see if she can actually act off a decent script (assuming this movie has a decent script)! Finally, Bitchy Dance Goddess is played by Kherington of So You Think You Can Dance Season 4, who wasn't our favorite, but at least we know she can dance, which is not always the case in these kinds of movies, Zac Efron.

So cast-wise I am cautiously optimistic. But...listen to those soundtrack snippets again, or at least the second and last ones, the snippets of the title song. "Fame" is not a laidback, groovy dance tune. It is not cool. It is not patient. It is an explosion of ambition and joy and excitement, of dancing on taxis and demanding attention. It is this:

I don't care what you do to the plot, NewFame, but give me that uncontrollable longing bursting out of every student in that school, or you and I will have some very harsh words.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I thought I'd posted the third installment of the Official Tweenage Wasteland Official Boy Band Watch a while ago, but I guess I didn't. Whoops!

Well, anyway, meet Wow:

There’s not enough info out yet about these guys to give them a full rating. The number one thing that comes to mind when looking at them is “OW MY EYES.” Once you get past the blinding hues, though, they seem to be a bunch of average-looking dudes who at least understand two of the key principles of boy bandom: wearing bright colors (oh, do they ever understand this point) and jumping on things. Their single, “Goosebumps,” sounds appropriately boy bandish, so it’s a shame that it’s terrible. In fact, we’re not sure that it was actually recorded by human beings and not robots.

But boy, they certainly do like to jump on things.

They’re currently on tour opening for the MoFoJoBros, so we imagine we will hear more about them soon.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

All the Way Osment

Here at Tweenage, we love Emily Osment, the most adorable part of Hannah Montana. I'm not sure it's fair to say that we've been eagerly anticipating her album, because all we've heard from her so far has been an overproduced Tiny Robot Voice, which does not inspire confidence in her singing ability, but we've definitely been interested. Here's the first peek:

Is it just me, or does she sound like she's doing her best Miley impression? She's way overproduced, but I'm pretty sure at this point that her voice is so weak it requires such overproduction. Which is a shame, but the greater shame is that every tween actor feels the need to record an album (or, conversely, every tween singer feels the need to do some acting) when they are not necessarily any good at it.

Also, the song isn't very good.

And yet, I think I love it, just because I love Emily that much. Oh, Tiny Robot Voice, I am your willing slave!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Aliens in the Attic

I mentioned a couple of times that Jess and I were excited for Aliens in the Attic, La Tizz's first post-HSM3 cinematic offering. Excitement levels skyrocketed when we found out Josh Peck, Jess's Inappropriately Young TV Crush, was one of the voice actors. So, while we didn't quite make it opening day, we did catch it last weekend. Here's the rundown: Math-and-science nerd Tom Pearson (Carter Jenkins) is none too happy about spending his summer vacation with his family, particularly his bully of a cousin (Austin Butler), his perfect older sister (La Tizz), and her jerk of a boyfriend (Robert Hoffman), but the summer takes a turn for the even worse when the kids discover that a scouting expedition for an alien invasion has landed on their roof.

So how was the movie? Let's go to the points system!

Physical Comedy: The repeated guy-gets-hit-in-the-nuts gags were overdone (did you know aliens have testicles? you do now!), but Robert Hoffman's performance as the sleezy boyfriend under alien mindcontrol was amazing. And Tizz fell in a lake! We love when she does that! +10

The moral: Math is cool! It's good to be smart! Don't hide who you are! +5

Poor execution of the moral: No one stops halfway through a fight to draw a parabola and do math problems before shooting at the enemy. That's not how aiming works. -5

Wacky alien romance subplot: What was this? Why did it happen? It was clumsy and the gender politics made my skin crawl a little. -10

Josh: Jess's Inappropriately Young Tween Star Boyfriend did a decent job as the nice alien, but was underutilized in Jess's opinion, in that he didn't have all the lines. +10

Nerdy Protagonist: He did a perfectly serviceable job in a completely by-the-numbers role, but was most enjoyable when the story forgot he had an emotional arc because he was busy fighting aliens. +2

Austin "Hey, It's That (Tween) Guy!" Butler: He was reasonably amusing in his brief appearances on Hannah Montana and iCarly, and is pretty genuinely hilarious in this as the slacker cousin who gets a leeettle too cheerfully Full Metal Jacket on the aliens. His "It's the po-po!" was probably the funniest line in the movie. +10

Little sister: Of course the little girl (who, with Tizz, is outnumbered 2-to-1 by boy cousins) is the gentle, nurturing one who befriends the nice alien. The idea that boys are devoid of compassion and girls are nothing but is a stereotype we have had more than enough of, but it was hardly a surprise. But this poor kid suffers from Webby Vanderquack Syndrome: she looks about eight, but sounds and acts about four. It's meant to be cute but just makes her come off as mentally deficient. - TEN THOUSAND.

The twins cousins: Were even more forgettable than the Sprouses. 0

Surprising star power: Tim Meadows, Kevin Nealon, and Andy Richter were all in this movie. +10

But they didn't do anything: Like, at all. -5.

The Actual Plot: Holds together reasonably well, despite some flaws (like frequently forgetting the parents exist, and the alien invasion plan not making much sense). +5

And finally...

La Tizz: She is well-cast as the sassy older sister in love for the first time, and does a kick-ass job in the role. She's endearingly vulnerable when the plot calls for it, but she is not going to put up with any crap - not from her brother, not from her boyfriend, and certainly not from aliens. Her comedic timing is spot-on, and her hair actually looks like it grew out of her head instead of being placed there by third-rate wigmakers! And speaking of kick-ass, after this movie, I want her as my plus-one in case of zombie apocalypse. +1 MILLION

TOTAL: 990,032. In other words: if you really love Ashley Tisdale, go see this movie! Otherwise, you're probably okay waiting for it to show up as a FOX Saturday Afternoon Movie.

Saturday, August 8, 2009




The shirttails, and the crooked tie, and the shiny pants, and the hat, and the...

No. NO.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Open Letter

Vanessa. Honey. We have to talk.

Look: I like you! I think you're cute as a button, and in tiny part thanks to you, I now use delicious-smelling pink grapefruit facial wash. You are a cutie-patootie, a passable pop singer, and a mediocre but pretty-to-look-at actress. But honey.

Stop being naked on the internet.

Now, look. I love the theory that Naked Vanessa #1 was an attempt to get out of doing HSM3; fair enough. But whether it was a stunt or an accident, there was no way for you to come out of it not knowing that sending nudie pics to your boyfriend is a bad plan. Neither e-mail nor phone is super-secure, and people will get ahold of them! And you know this! So stop putting naked pictures of yourself where they can be easily pilfered!


I don't mind that you're naked. That's none of my business. I don't think it makes you a bad person, or even necessarily a bad role model (except that it makes you look kind of dumb because really, twice now?). Hey, you've been in a committed relationship for a few years now; you're above the age of legal consent; your boyfriend is a super-hottie. Knock yourself out behind closed doors, honey.

But this? This is not the way to break away from your Disney career. And since Bandslam looks to be another pretty tweenie-looking movie, I'm not even sure how you thought this would play out as a publicity stunt. Look: if you like showing folks your naked body, kudos for you! I bet you anything that Playboy or Maxim would take your phone call. You are an adult lady. You don't need anyone's approval if you want to be naked. You don't need to apologize for it. But for god's sake, stop with this cutesy, "Teehee, I'm accidentally naked, whoops!" thing. You don't need it.

Be naked if you want to. And if you don't, stop being a freaking moron.

That is all.


Saturday, July 25, 2009

My Life: So Hard!

Some days, it's really hard to write posts for this blog. You have to find something ridiculous that a tween star did, said, or wore recently; you have to look through Youtube for silly videos; you need to subject yourself to super over-produced pop music; you need to spend the time to find ludicrous pictures and then write jokes about them.

Other days, Zac Efron talks to the press, and makes everything really, really easy.

Zac Efron in Showbiz Spy, via Rachel:

"On a normal day," Efron told a British magazine, "I'm usually out of the shower and ready to go in a couple of minutes. I'm not a naturally groomed guy."

No kidding! Oh, do go on.

"Someone said to me that guys are trying to copy my hairstyle, but to be honest, this hairstyle is derived from laziness. I wake up and go -- that's it. There's no product in it, nothing.
"If you really want your hair to look good, just don't wash it for a day. That's my secret."

But Zef, we already know that! Please, give us something new to giggle at.

"In high school there were guys who were really tall, there were burly guys on the football team who looked like my dad -- and then there was me, who looked like a little kid. I was a late bloomer," he said.

Wait for it…

"I actually rocked a pubescent mustache for a while. It was so unattractive."


Click here for a Tweenage Wasteland exclusive picture of Zef's mustachioed years! Or a reasonable approximation there of, anyway.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Saturday Night Watching "Wizards on Deck With Hannah Montana"

So the thing is, my sister Rachel does not care about the Disney Channel or tween things. Really. That's why she was the one who initially talked me into watching HSM, and why she watched Camp Rock with us last summer, and why she not only Tivoed Princess Protection Program when I forgot to do it, but actually watched it. And why she TiVoed "Wizards on Deck With Hannah Montana" for me.

So now I am making her watch it! Fun times.

-Alex has dropped from 10 assignments behind to 14 assignments behind in science
Rachel: They only get one assignment a week?

-Justin: "It's ironic that the person who likes school the least…Has to go the most!"
Becky: I like that Gay Older Brother is kind of a dick.

- Parents: "We'll make you go and see all the fun they're having, and then you'll feel bad about yourself! … That's good parenting, right?"
Becky: It's still better than the mom on "The Suite Life."

-Justin: "Look, it's from the teen cruise contest I wrote an essay for!"
Rachel: "Watch while I casually exposit!"

Aboard the SS Tipton…
-Moseby: *is wearing shorts and knee socks*
Both of us: Aaaaaaah!

-Slightly Better Sprouse: *is wearing skinny jeans*
Both of us: Aaaaaaaaaaah!

-Alex: *casts a spell*
Becky: Did she just rhyme "here" with "here"? And why is that an elevator to take them to shore?

-Youngest Russo: "It's one of those clocks for people on to tell the time in their bodies!"
Rachel: Is he brain damaged? Like, actually?

-Slightly Worse Sprouse: "So I hear you're randomly taking people's blood pressure. I'm Zack."
Rachel: That is the best introduction ever.

-Alex: "Ashley Olsen. I can remember that. Ashley… Oh, no. Oh, well!"
Rachel: I think all the Russo children are brain dead!

-Justin: *spit takes*
-London: "That's how you know you're full!"
Rachel: There is no explanation for that line.

Becky: So basically, youngest Russo is just Zack Martin.
Rachel: But somehow dumber.

-Justin: "I'm gonna dump her."
-Alex: "Can I watch?"
-Justin: "I'm not. Going. To cry."
Rachel: Wow, he's a much better actor than this show really calls for.

-Justin: "Would you… Would you go out with a guy who worked in a sandwich shop, and wrote… Stories, and essays…"
Rachel: And fanfic, I'm guessing?

-Not!Tizz (Bailey): *wears horrible yellow pants*
Rachel: OW, MY EYES!

-SBS: *wears white skinny jeans*
Rachel: REALLY????

Rachel: Is it D-Hen's only job to walk around saying angry things? Because I will actually watch that show.

-Miley: *wears purple satin pants*
Rachel: How are EVERYONE'S PANTS worse than the last pair I saw?

-Justin: *takes his shirt off*
Becky: I find the fact that D-Hen is actually ripped really disconcerting.
-Justin: *is now covered in blue*
Rachel: You could just take off the latex suit.

-Justin: "This is Alex, I know my sister!"
-Moseby: "This is Zack, I know my hooligan!"
Becky: Awww, Zack is his hooligan.

-The show: *makes no sense*
Rachel: It's sort of like a middle school play.

-Zack: "Isn't there something you'd like to say to me? That rhymes with 'I'm … florry?'"
-Moseby: "You're flannoying?"
Rachel: I thought he was going to say, "You're a bad rhymer."

-Youngest Russo: "I'm never going to wash that cheek again."
Rachel: What, no "You've never washed that cheek before!" joke? How do you miss that beat?!

-"Hannah Montana" episode: *is unwatchably boring*
Becky: Why is the Hannah Montana episode so much less manic? And more dull?
-Suite Life characters: *all enter*
Becky: That actually improves things.
Rachel: Where did the Wizard kids go?

-Zack: "I've got chocolate shirtcake!"
-Hannah: "I don't like chocolate."
-Zack: "That's okay. I've got vanilla in my pants pocket…"

Rachel: Who's that other kid? … Wait, that's Oliver in a stupid wig. Why so many stupid wigs on this show?

Rachel: I like how it's clear Billy Ray just couldn't be bothered to go to the set to film and that's why all of his scenes are in bed.

-Not!Tizz: "Did you do this?"
-Cody: "Bailey, if this relationship doesn't have honesty, it doesn't have anything. … Yes, I did."
Rachel: See, it's funny because he's lying to his girlfriend.

Becky: Well… that was dull.
Rachel: Instead of going wacky, they tried for pathos. On "Hannah Montana."

In conclusion…

Rachel: So Slightly Better Sprouse is dead in the middle of his awkward phase, huh?
Becky: For five years now.

The end!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A fervent prayer

According to Just Jared Jr. (my faviest blog in the world, at least for tweeny things), Tizz has gotten a tattoo. But no one knows what it says! This here is our closest look at it so far:

please say Bet On It please say Bet On It PLEASE SAY BET ON IT

Friday, July 10, 2009

Princess Protection Program (Warning: exclamation points abound!)

So. The Princess Protection Program. How to describe this movie? Hmmm. Let's try this: the best thing about this movie is Demi Lovato's acting. Wow. But, to be fair, if you don't care about things like how monarchies function, or international relations, or government agencies, or basically anything remotely resembling the actuality of princesses (or, you know, plot) it's actually quite enjoyable! Once you accept that nothing makes any sense and just go with it, it's a sort of charming tale of the surprisingly likeable girls developing a friendship. And I actually kind of enjoyed it.

Okay, so here goes. We tune in on, miraculously, not the last day of school, but rather on Selena Gomez and her Creepy Pageant Baby Face, working at a bait shop in the Louisiana Bayou. She gives away some free bait to a guy named Donny, who I will be referring to as McDoucherson, because he is a ginormous douche. This is made apparent immediately: Selena gives him the bait because a) she is Totes In Love with him, but also because b) he agreed to give her a ride to school. Even though he doesn't know her name (it's Carter, because she's a tom boy, and tom boys always have boy names, see?). But McDoucherson's girlfriend, a bitchy Asian girl named Chelsea (no, really, Disney, you aren't subverting stereotypes by making every Asian character a villain) has her dress in McDoucherson's car, and won't move it to give Selena room, and McDoucherson shrugs and drives off EVEN THOUGH THEY HAD A DEAL. So they (along with Chelsea's nervous sidekick) speed off, and Selena calls them spoiled princesses, which is a wacky bit of foreshadowing because gosh! Soon she's going to have to deal with a real princess! Clever! Or, wait, the other thing, where it isn't clever, just awkward dialogue.

Anyway. Selena's dad has to go out on a mysterious mission for two days. He promises "it's a routine op" and he'll be fine.

MEANWHILE! In the small country of Costa Luna, Princess Demi Lovato is practicing for her coronation in a month. While she chatters with her swishy gay sidekick/dress designer Mr. Elagante, her mom exposits that since her husband passed away, only Demi can become queen of Costa Luna, or, as I will call it henceforth (based on the accents of everyone who appears in this scene), Fakeonia. So Demi might get in trouble, and someone named General Kane might try and attack her, but (gasp!) Selana's dad is there to protect her!

You know, because really, you hire the most body guards for the practice coronation, a month before the real event. But I guess that is when trouble happens, because right as a helpful old man in generic religious garb goes to place the tiara on Demi's head, gasp! The general shows up! And he throws a sword through the tiara and starts a food fight! That means he is totes the dictator now, and so Selana's dad grabs Demi and drags her off, because surely an American soldier kidnapping the princess of a sovereign nation won't be any kind of international incident. (Meanwhile, Mr. Elegante is dragged off by soldiers, and smirks a little bit, which is so very inappropriate, Disney Channel.) And even though Demi and Selena's dad take, like, 15 minutes to leave, and walk right in front of some enemy soldiers without anyone bothering them or trying to stop their helicopter from taking off, for some reason Demi's mom has to stay behind. But the general doesn't kill her (or even, as far as we see, imprison her -- he makes reference to it, but every time she shows up she's wearing a ball gown with her hair done, so that's some special prison Kane has, I guess). Because that's totally not something you want to do when you overthrow a country.

Note to self: start working on that "Become Empress of Everything" plan a bit more seriously, because you are smarter than this villain, and apparently, no one will try to stop you. Not as long as you throw chocolate sauce on people, anyway, I guess.

Here's the weird thing, though; Demi actually kind of pulls of scared and sad but still dignified and trying to hold her shit together in this scene. Which isn't "generically happy" and thus much more complex than anything she has ever conveyed before. Go, Demi?

So Selena's dad takes Demi to a top-secret facility, which is the headquarters of the Princess Protection Program, where they do nothing but hide exiled princesses. (Apparently, there are 29 princesses currently being protected, because this whole "throw your sword through a tiara and stage a coup" thing is pretty common, I guess. And there are, like, 15 princesses wandering around trying on new clothes and such in the background.) They give Demi a makeover so she'll look like a normal girl, which involves trimming her bangs a little and unbraiding her hair.

This is also the scene where it becomes clear that whoever wrote the movie confused "regal" with "robotic" dialogue, because Demi isn't allowed to use any contractions. Her delivery is dead flat most of the time, but that's at least as much the dialogue's fault as it is hers, but it makes her sound more like Summer Glau Terminator character than anything else. Anyway, they send her off with Selena's dad to go into hiding… Disguised as Selena's cousin! Wacky!

Back on the bayou, Selena chatters with her bus driver, who's the prostitute from My Name Is Earl, which is mildly disconcerting. She and Demi run into each other and it's wacky hijinks! Selena doesn't want to share her room! Demi is afraid of lizards! Selena's a tom boy! Demi wears dresses! It's like the odd couple, but really stupid!

So without bothering to enroll or anything, Demi now goes to Selena's school. They get off the bus and meet Zach from Sky High, who continues with his traditional role of being That Kind of Tall Guy, who is, for some reason, filming Selena (and I guess some other girls) because of homecoming? Okay. McDoucherson is a douche to Demi until he discerns that she's hot, and Demi sticks out like a sore thumb because she speaks French in French class. (Fair enough; I took high school French and never actually learned a word. On the other hand, even I can tell that her accent is terrible.) But for all people are totally mean to her because she does crazy things like use a napkin and a fork when she eats her hamburger, the dudes all think she's hot, so Chelsea decides she is competition that must be taken down. Some teacher announces that it's time to nominate girls for Homecoming Queen, to narrow it down to three -- the Princesses, if you will, GET IT??? -- with the final winner announced at the dance. Demi totally humiliates Selena by nominating her, not realizing that she's a tom boy, and everyone laughs. Because tom boys don't like dresses so they can't be Homecoming Princess because that would be ridiculous! Next thing you know, basketball players will be singing, or baking! Smart girls will pop'n'lock! Stoners will play the cello! Flamey drama boys will play baseball! Okay, I'll stop.

Demi remains plucky and upbeat even though Selena dislikes her; Selena agrees to try and be nice to her for her dad's sake. But Selena plays a mean trick on her by making her, um, count worms. So basically, Selena is playing the same character she always plays -- bitchy -- and Demi is… Again, surprisingly decent. It's a variant on her standard "look how nice I am! Please like me!" girl, but with a bit more, I can't believe I'm typing this, depth. And she's kind of… empathetic. And if you squint hard enough, you can see both characters' motivations. Demi and Selena play off each other pretty well. I kind of, like… Almost care about them and stuff. Girls fighting but then banding together to help each other out and becoming BFFs! It warms my cold, dead heart! Even though it's ludicrously bad.

Anyway, Demi and Selena finally make peace, so Selena takes Demi bowling. At the bowling alley, Zach from Sky High is adorable and tall, and McDoucherson is a douche. Demi turns out to be great at bowling, and all the boys think she's hot, and Selena is frustrated because her dad and McDoucherson and Zach from Sky High all suddenly like Demi best. But of course, and all the girls hate Demi because the boys like her (because girls only care about what boys think and consider one another strictly in terms of competition, you see) so they decide to prank her so she'll be humiliated and no one will vote for her for Homecoming Princess. Naturally, they start by pretending to be her friend (because girls are mean and scheming and are never actually really friends with each other; on a related note I AM SO FULL OF HATE FROM THIS PART OF THE PLOT. Well, "plot." WHATEVER, HATE.).

When Selena angrily tells Demi she should go get a job, Demi does so. Chelsea gets Demi hired at her father's frozen yogurt restaurant, where she is immediately put on duty, as the only one working, and she's never been trained, and OH MY GOD HAS NO ONE AT DISNEY EVER WORKED A JOB OF ANY KIND, EVER? Chelsea calls everyone to laugh at her and has some dude sabotage the machine, so the customers are mad and there's frozen yogurt everywhere! Heck, you could overthrow a small country that way! Selena comes to save the day, but not before Demi is humiliated, and Demi's moment of wounded dignity is actually… Surprisingly good (I know I keep saying that, but I keep being surprised). But the plan has backfired, because everyone thought Demi was pretty cool about the whole thing, so Chelsea starts scheming again.

Meanwhile, in Fakeonia! The General has an evil scheme to marry Demi's mom, but not for real, just to make sure Demi finds out about it. See, that'll lure Demi back into the country, so the General can then, um, exile her. Awesome plan, dude.

At school the next day, the three princesses are announced: Chelsea, Demi, and Selena! Because, see, Chelsea's plan backfired again! She told everyone to vote for Selena, not Demi, but instead they voted for Selena and Demi! ZOMG! And then McDoucherson asks out Demi. And, in a pretty awesome moment, she shuts him down flat. ("Oh. It is very kind of you to ask. But no. Excuse me.")

Selena is sad because McDoucherson doesn't like her, so Demi decides to make her feel like a princess by having her… Volunteer to read to children? Um, sure. Oh, and then they go on a wacky shopping trip! I liked this sequence better when it was in A Cinderella Story, but eventually they find perfect dresses for themselves. But at this point, Chelsea's nervous sidekick runs across a Spanish-language magazine with Demi on the cover, for some reason. And she immediately figures out that Demi is a princess! Like, she immediately figures it out without opening the magazine or reading the article or anything. Meanwhile, Selena's dad finds out about the General's evil plan, and Chelsea bosses around some nerdy girl we've never seen before. Nervous sidekick tells her about Demi. Chelsea then goes to blackmail Demi, but instead, just throws their dresses on some gravel. OH NOES, NOT GRAVEL! I mean, to be fair, there's a mud puddle, too, but on the other hand, they are on the freaking bayou and there is an enormous, muddy, algae-covered lake two feet away. The upshot is, how will Demi and Selena go to the dance if there is gravel on their dresses???

Somewhere around here, Demi finds out about her mother's fake marriage, and wants to go back to Fakeonia, but Selena makes her promise to stay through homecoming and hatches a wacky scheme. It mostly seems to involve calling Mr. Elegante and having him make them new dresses, and then giving makeovers to the various nerdy girls who've been wandering around in the background.

And then comes homecoming. Selena's big plan involves everyone wearing masks, except for when they're not, which is about 90% of the time. And so a long line of now-pretty, made-over nerdy girls walk past the boys, who of course are so captivated that no one notices when Chelsea's dress gets caught in a car and she starts screaming and her dress rips and she falls on the ground, LOL! (See, it's funny because boys only care about hot girls, and will totally ignore everything else when they see one, get it?) Inside, Selena dances with some freshman and McDoucherson walks over to her and asks her out. She shuts him down, because hey! He's a total douche! She points out to him that he only is asking her out because she's hot all dressed up -- but she's still the same tom boy she always was, and she's proud of who she is, and she deserves better than someone who can't even remember her name. I mean this non-sarcastically: It is AWESOME. And of course, in the bathroom, Chelsea continues her slow descent into madness, as her nervous sidekick finally ditches her. Chelsea runs outside and smack into, gasp, the general! He heads inside and kidnaps a now-re-bemasked Selena, mistaking her for Demi; thirty seconds later, Demi wins Homecoming Queen and goes up on stage. Good thing that dude doesn't look back, I guess. Also a good thing that everyone at the school was down with voting for a girl who doesn't even go there.

Demi gives a speech, with the camera right up her nose, but Selena is too busy being kidnapped to listen. Realizing Selena has vanished, Demi goes searching, but is interrupted by Chelsea, who freaks out and demands the homecoming crown, then falls in a pool. As you do when you're the villainess in a DCOM, I guess. Demi sees Selena and runs up to stop her, the general grabs Demi instead, and opens the door to his helicopter. But Selena's dad jumps out and accuses him of kidnapping! It's a sting! Except then he lectures Selena about doing something super dangerous, even though he had to have been in on it, so… huh? It's kind of the least climactic ending ever; no one actually gets kidnapped or even especially menaced, no one gets shot, and the villain goes without putting up a fight. Demi gives the crown to Selena, but a bedraggled Chelsea runs over and demands it. Selena laughs it off, because… Wacky!

And then, back in Fakeonia, everyone is happy and Demi is crowned. The end. So, in conclusion: it turns out princesses aren't just spoiled and superficial after all! They're actually nice and generous and hard working, and totally deserving of your love and respect! But if someone calls you a princess, it's totally an insult.

In closing, have Demi and Selena's music video. At your own risk, though. I am much more favorably disposed towards them as actresses than I was before watching the movie,* but that good will doesn't extend to their singing.

* Well, mostly towards Demi; I already enjoyed Selena quite a bit.

Image source.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

It's like bringing sexy back, except not. With a sandwich.

Jess: So apparently Mitchel Musso is legal today. You gonna go for that? I know you want to.
Becky: Ooooh, Mitchel.
Jess: With his pointy face and his Ally Sheedy hair...
Becky: You know, I appreciate that he's making awkward cool again.
Jess: Okay, I'm gonna go blog that now.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Bonnie: Right!

The Harry Potter kids count as tween stars, right? Well, I say they do.

I can remember when the trio was first cast, staring at these kids and gaping at how unbelievably young they looked. I mean, look at their little faces:

But they're growing up! Every time I pass a Half-Blood Prince poster I am startled by the sudden appearance of Man Felton. I'm still trying to get used to Man Radcliffe and Emma, who doesn't look like a grown-up quite yet but is maturing gracefully into a lovely older teen and proudly taking on the role of the one who always looks nicely put together while everyone else schlubs out confusedly. (Rupert, meanwhile, simply grows more Ruperty. This year he is Rupertier than ever.)

And, because Ginny is my favorite (no letters, please), I have paid especially close attention to Bonnie Wright, which is why I was especially disappointed in this:

OH BONNIE HONEY NO. A bagged-out long-sleeved black shirt, ill-fitting dark jeans, and inexplicably sandals? A necklace that adds nothing, plum lipstick, and a ponytail that makes me suspect you were actually jogging five minutes ago? You can do better! (So can Jessie Cave on the left there, but I don't actually have the strength to tackle that one.) She looks like me, circa 1999, on a drizzly April day when I had no clean clothing and a math test first period, but I had the excuse that it was 1999 and I wasn't attending a film premiere or whatever they're attending here. I can't help feeling like Emma is looking directly at me with that tired expression, saying "I know, Jess, I know. I tried to tell them! Stylists! Tailors!" Emma understands me.

So, of course, I was thrilled to see this:

OH BONNIE HONEY YES. This picture is ten miles of leg and ten miles of hair and ten miles of sass. I love it.

But the truly embarrassing thing is that as soon as I saw this picture, I actually said - out loud! - "See? You're such a pretty girl!"

So apparently, because I've watched her grow up, I think I am her mom.

In which case, I should probably tell her to stay away from Man Felton. That kid looks like trouble.*

*Not a commentary on Draco/Ginny, seriously, NO LETTERS I MEAN IT.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

"The Gay One"

Towleroad: The old joke is that absolutely every boy band has one gay member--

Nathaniel: [Laughs] Some have two!

So when Jess and I did our write up of V Factory, we were basically joking about Nathaniel being The Gay One. It's definitely an archetype, particularly in the post-Lance era, but we were basically saying that with absolutely nothing to back it up. (See also Thomas of Varsity Fanclub.)

But, turns out, we were right! We hadn't seen this interview yet, or reference to it on the official site or on the fansite we checked out, but sure 'nuff Nathaniel Flatt is gay and out.

Jess said awhile ago of 90s boyband Boyzone that it was kind of cool that, in their reunion, they had their The Gay One singing his ballad to a dude, but, "I mean, it's less groundbreaking than it would be if an up-and-coming boy band did it, but there are no up-and-coming boy bands (more's the pity, and no, the Jonas Brothers do not count), so I'll take what I can get." Well, now we've got an Official Boy Band Watch on officially, and we've got an up-and-coming group with an out member.

And yes, it remains pretty awesome. Here's that link again. Nathaniel definitely makes a good showing for himself, and is both charming and insightful, so thumbs up for him and for V Factory.

Also, turns out he may just be doubling up archetypes as The Hot One.

Monday, June 29, 2009

OTWOBBW: Varsity Fanclub

Our second boy band on offer is Varsity Fanclub. We don't know whether they came up with their name before or after V Factory came up with theirs, but someone should have done a little asking around first. It's like if Lou Pearlman had sat down with his second batch of fresh-faced Orlando-ites and said, "Okay, for you I'm thinking Frontstreet Boys." Also, what the hell does "Varsity Fanclub" mean?

Image: Well, it ain’t good. Everything about Varsity Fanclub is unappealing. It looks like someone sanded them all down with a fine-grit sandpaper, then dropped them into Panic at the Disco’s castoff wardrobe, after it had been dyed neon colors. The amount of shriekingly bright scarves, skinny jeans, ruffly or low-cut shirts, and terrible, terrible vests is appalling, and the one in the trucker hat has apparently not twigged to the fact that “trucker hat” is shorthand for “douche.” It doesn’t help that at least three of them are seriously unattractive. Yes, that’s shallow and mean, but come on, this is a boy band. 1 out of 5.

Archetypes: Jayk, by virtue of his misspelled name and trucker hat, is clearly The Bad Boy. However, he is also the incredibly unappealing one who we hate, so that’s sad for him. Drew Ryan Scott, he of the three first names, is The Little Blond One, but one does not suspect, by looking at him, that he will pull a Carter/Timberlake and become The Heartthrob. The Heartthrob is kind of up in the air right now; it used to be Thomas, who also appears to be an aspiring gay porn star (see below), but he has since left this train wreck of a band, presumably to star in gay porn. Way to go, Thomas. (He also gets points for listing DuckTales as his favorite movie, even though it’s not a movie.) He has been replaced by another guy named Thomas, or T.C., but Varsity Fanclub’s terrible, terrible website still only has pictures of Thomas 1.0 on it, so we cannot speak to T.C.’s role. Bobby, who has the gratifying credentials of having appeared on Veronica Mars, may be the new Heartthrob, or possibly The Shy One, based only on the fact that he looks kind of like a normal dude and not a lunatic. And then there’s David, who we forgot about until we counted, which makes him The Other One. Surprisingly, 4 out of 5.

(Thomas may also have been brewed in the same genetic experiment that created Drake Bell and Zac Efron. We are investigating.)

Music Video: You'll have to click the link, as VFC's ex-record label has disabled embedding. Because why would a record label want one of their music videos to be easily disseminated? You know, this is actually a great boy band video. They’re wearing silver on some futuristic set with girls admiring but not touching them, there’s choreography, they introduce them all, Thomas winks and all the confused middle school boys feel funny…it’s great. Unfortunately, they’re really unappealing, so although the video contains all the ingredients for entertainment, it falls flat in execution. Also, there’s a “dance break” towards the end that appears to come from another song entirely. 3 out of 5.

Personality: On the Varsity Fanclub website, there’s a tab for comedy videos. It doesn’t work, because the Varsity Fanclub webmaster should be fired. But if you look on their YouTube channel, you can find a video of Drew Ryan Scott lip syncing to a terrible, terrible song called “I Hope You’re Not a Man,” about how gross it would be if you accidentally danced with a man and/or ugly woman in a dark club instead of a hot chick. And, you know, it’s good that Varsity Fanclub realizes that they need to put out footage of themselves being likable and funny. Unfortunately, they are incapable of being likable and funny, and Drew Ryan Scott’s performance comes off as simultaneously homophobic and offensive, while also the gayest thing that has ever happened in a boy band, including Lance Bass coming out. This is a pretty good example of how awful the whole band is (except for Bobby, who seems like just some dude). Also, they are already at a point where they are suing their label, and their album has been delayed a couple of times, and they’ve replaced a member, and their website doesn’t work, and basically the whole thing is an insufferable train wreck. 0 out of 5.

Oh yeah, the music: So boy bandy. Way more so than V Factory; they almost sound like a parody of a boy band, like 2Ge+her or Kim Possible’s Oh Boyz. Or, you know, O-Town, who were basically a parody. (Don’t tell them that.) The voices we heard on the three songs available on the website were seriously not good, but the music itself was pretty catchy. Sung by a JC Chasez or a Brian Littrell, it would be in frequent play on our iPods. 2 out of 5.

Bonus hilarious lyrics: “I think I gotta get your hair right/ Loosen up, you’re so tight/ Baby come on (Let me in tonight)/ You got me lost inside your circus/ You got me feeling nervous/ Baby come on.” GEE I WONDER WHAT THAT’S ABOUT?

Final Score: 10/25. They divided up nicely into archetypes, but that’s because they were put together by somebody who knows boy bands. Don’t let the not-completely-abysmal score fool you, though – we hated them.