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.