Sunday, November 28, 2010

OTWOBBW: Big Time Rush

Let's just start off with the big disclaimer: we love the TV show Big Time Rush. It is completely delightful, and well crafted -- and it's hard to separate Big Time Rush the TV show from Big Time Rush the boy band. But since they now have two real videos and their debut album (the creatively-named effort "BTR") debuted at #3 on the Billboard Top 200, they're also the biggest thing going in boy band-dom at the moment. So it's time to resurrect the OTWOBBW and do our best to objectively tackle the actual band in question.

Image: It's really, really hard to do this objectively, but flipping through the various promotional materials out there about the band, the image they're going for appears to be "fun-loving guys who are the best of friends and also cute." Since your humble bloggers originally fell in love with the Backstreet Boys and ‘Nsync because they projected fun-loving-ness, friendship, and cuteness, this is clearly a good angle to work. (And is the central theme of the TV show. Synergy!) They're always smiling and looking playful without looking dumb, and it certainly doesn't hurt that every single member of the band is easy on the eyes. Not even ‘Nsync had that going for them. 5 out of 5.

Archetypes: As in the show, when it comes to the actual band, James Maslow is very much The Heartthrob. He's non-threateningly attractive, and the camera just looooooves to linger on shots of his long eyelashes and rouged-up cheeks. I'd estimate he gets the most camera time in the videos. Coming in second, screen-time wise, is Kendall Schmidt, who presents a bit of a problem: the show gives the Kendall character to us as The Leader, but while that's fine for a Scooby gang, it's not actually a boy band archetype. Kendall's too old to be a Little Blond One and too boring to be the Bad Boy. After much thought and perusal of J14 images, though, we solved it. Kendall is The One Who Wears Hats, an occasional variant on The Other One archetype.

Like James, Logan Henderson gets to keep basically the same archetype in the real world and the fictional world; while he's The Smart One on the show, he's The Responsible One in real life. It's really just a matter of semantics. And Carlos Pena, Jr. is...well, his archetype isn't really clear on the show or in real life, but let's say he's some sort of hybrid of The Funny One and The Baby Brother and call it a day. (He's also our favorite, but more on that later.) 4 out of 5.

Music Video: Their two videos at this point are "The City Is Ours" and "Til I Forget About You." And they are actually both pretty good! In "City," you've got the boys driving around, then throwing a flash party on the roof of some random building, with lots of energetic teens dancing around them while they sing. In "Forget," you've got the boys performing at a stodgy country club, until they use a magic camera to create anarchic hijinks, and the video is complete with an intro scene of Kendall being dumped before the show. Both videos do good jobs of showcasing them as fun and attractive while fairly gracefully masking the fact that they aren't very good dancers. 3 out of 5.

Personality: In interviews, the boys make a big deal out of saying how much their characters and relationships on the show are pretty much based on the guys' actual personalities and the friendships they've developed since getting cast. Since we find all four boys delightful on the show, we assume they are delightful in real life, and all the behind-the-scenes footage we've seen has reflected that. 5 out of 5.

Oh Yeah, The Music: While the album is actually quite democratic when it comes to doling out solos (and also, we can't stop listening to it), the show itself is set on promoting James and Kendall first and foremost. And this is a problem for a bunch of reasons, but let's start with James.

We are certain somewhere in our heart of hearts that James Maslow has a lovely singing voice. It's just unfortunate that he doesn't actually use it. It's very clear that Maslow is trying his hardest to Sing Like A Popstar, which, unfortunately, he seems to think means Singing Like a Jonas Brother. If he would unclench at least some of the muscles in his body, stop singing through his nose, stop exaggerating all of his vowel sounds, and just sing, he would be a delight. But since he apparently won't do those things, he renders himself unlistenable.

Kendall, meanwhile, sings exactly like that guy in your high school who is super charming and a good actor, so he gets the lead in the school musical because he can carry a tune and won't actively hurt himself while dancing. Which is to say, he sings okay. This doesn't mean that he should necessarily have a career in singing, but he's not embarrassing himself, and with proper training he could reach Zac Efron levels of mediocrity (and hey, a non-singer acquitting himself well as a romantic lead in three musicals is a worthy goal to shoot for).* And Logan, with his pleasant but weak voice and tendency to go flat, sings like that guy in your high school who gets the secondary lead: the Kenickie to Kendall's Danny Zuko, the Riff to his Tony. (He's also often autotuned into oblivion. They all get the autotune treatment, but sometimes we think they just send Logan home and bring out his robot clone, Logandroid.)

But then there's Carlos. Oh, Carlos. (Please insert a million hearts here.) You guys, Carlos can actually sing! Like, really, really well! More than that, he can put across a song. When Carlos sings lead, our hearts go pitter-pat. Why oh why won't they change the band to "Carlos and the Rush?"

2.5 out of 5 (one for Carlos, one for whoever writes the mediocre but insanely catchy songs, and a half for Kendall, who really isn't that bad)

Bonus Hilarious Lyrics: "If you tell me where I'm waiting here/ Every day like Slumdog Millionaire/ Bigger than the Twilight love affair/ I'll be here/ Girl I swear"

Total: 19.5 out of 25. The highest score yet! Way to go, BTR.

* "Three musicals" meaning Hairspray and High School Musical 2 and 3, since Becky's dream man Drew Seeley does Troy's singing in the first HSM.

Images from

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hey, she's old enough to get this reference!

I know they're doing updated re-releases of The Baby-Sitters Club and all... I assume from this picture that Tiffany Thornton is hoping they'll do a spin-off about the girls in their late 20s and she's really, really hoping for a role as Stacey McGill.

Actually, I think she looks quite pretty and I want her jacket, but that's not really the point, is it? Source.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

In fairness, it really was so random.

So a few days ago, I watched the Sonny With a Chance Halloween special. Which, for some reason, was just an extended episode of "So Random" which... I don't know why that was. Anyway, I wasn't paying a lot of attention because there wasn't much Chad Dylan Cooper in the episode, but I looked up when I saw what appeared to be a music video of Brandon Smith at the end.

My first reaction was glee! Because I've become really fond of him. He does a fine job on SWAC and was the only non-terrible thing about Starstruck, and I would love for Disney to decide to break him out as one of their more highly-promoted stars. Though as it turned out, that wasn't happening at all, alas.

When I actually watched the video and had two more thoughts:

1) I grudgingly acknowledge that autotune is here to stay, at least for awhile, and will be used to fix, or at least drown out, weak voices. (I don't like it, but for some reason, no one asked my opinion.) But usually at least you can tell a human sang the lyrics at some point. Here, I'm not so sure. There is no voice behind that robot at all.

2) SWAC writers, I know Lonely Island is great and all, but there's no way to do a tween-friendly version of Dick in a Box. Possibly it would have been less embarrassing over all if you hadn't tried.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Give me an H! For "homoerotic"!

Although late to the party, we have finally watched Hellcats, Tizz's new show on the CW (which I have been anticipating with a somewhat embarrassing eagerness), and oh my God, you guys, it is gayer than High School Musical.

Like, okay, it's a CW show and exactly as mediocre and overwrought as that implies, but Tizz and Aly Michalka (of Aly and AJ...I'm sorry, 78violet fame) spent every second they were onscreen together looking like they were about to start making out furiously. Or tenderly. Or flexibly. (No, wait, only the stunt doubles are that flexible.)


The plot so far goes like this: Aly thinks cheerleading is stupid until Tizz almost slaps her and Tizz is impressed by Aly's fast hands; then they move in together and Aly declares that she's a bottom. Then Tizz gives Aly a neck rub!

Everything I just said is true.

There are other things that happened on the show - douchey friend, alcoholic mom, super-Christian family - but frankly, the LesYay is why we're going to keep watching the show. Hooray for LesYay!

Monday, September 13, 2010

I've decided to call it "lumberjack chic"

Yes, I KNOW this is the third post in a row that's a stupid picture of Zac Efron, but it's not my fault! Because do you know what his new look did not need?



Saturday, September 11, 2010

I swear we've covered this before.

Zac Efron appears to be having a moment of silent reflection there. Let us hope he's reflecting on all the bad, bad choices he's made with his facial hair.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I'm sorry, Zef...

...but no amount of armpit hair can convince me you aren't a Ken doll magically brought to life.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Flashback: 'Nsync

Absolutely true story: this is the very first 'Nsync video I ever saw, and I remember watching it on VH1 and thinking that it must be some kind of boy band parody, because no one would ever have Chris's hair seriously. Oh, how wrong I was.

'Nsync: God Must Have Spent a Little More Time on You (1998)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Flashback: 2ge+her

In honor of the Big Time Rush special tonight, another semi-fake TV boy band:

2ge+her: U + Me = Us (2000)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

In case you forgot, we still hate the Jonii

Becky: Joe Jonas, WHAT ARE YOU.

Jess: I. I don't even. What.

Becky: I find it less loathesome than usual because I'm just sitting here going WHAT WHAT WHAT.

Jess: Same here. The hat is what pushes it over the edge into sheer madness for me.

Becky: Agreed.

Jess: Motorcycle tennis playing nonsense! For you!

Becky: I hope he wants her to call him Captain.

Jess: I assume then that she is Tenille?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Are you tired of being told you can't meet your cute teen idols?

So here's the thing: in the months since I first posted about Big Time Rush, I've come to really, really love the TV show. It's pretty much the only tween/teen show I point to and say, "No, it's actually good," as opposed to, "It's completely ludicrous but I can't stop watching it." (Though that's true, too.) I've got basically every episode of the show saved on my TiVo and have no compunctions about making people who visit my apartment watch them.

And then I found out there would be a BTR concert today. I was kind of curious, because boy bands aren't really The Big Thing right now, and I wanted to see how kids from their actual demographic respond to them. Curious enough to go, though? ... Well, yes, once I found out the concert was free. Jess couldn't make it, alas, so my poor sister agreed to go with me (though she insisted on pretending to be my mom to explain why she was there).

BTR, of course, was headlining this show, in as much as one can headline a free show hosted by the Macy's Back To School Sale. The complete rundown:

1) Victoria Justice, who didn't actually perform. She was the host, along with some guy from Macy's. Judging by her MC skills, I'm really, really glad she didn't sing. She was almost extraordinarily not good; she sounded like she was reading off a cue card, badly, and kept mumbling barely audibly, and failed to be charming or entertaining or even energetic. On the other hand, the guy from Macy's was worse -- he introduced her as Victoria Jones -- but not worse enough to make her look decent by comparison. Look, Victoria, I'm trying not to hate you just because I hate your show, but you're making it hard.

2) The first act was Internet Sensation Josh Golden. I had heard of him from a couple of tween blogs, which were pushing him as "OMG the next Justin Bieber!!!1!" because he was also discovered through YouTube. Now, I don't personally love the Bieb, but I can assure you, Josh Golden is no Justin Bieber. The best thing about his performance was that he only played three songs. The worst thing was that he played at all.

3) Next up was Cherice As Seen on Oprah and Ellen. From our vantage point half a block away and behind a bush, she appeared to be 10 years old, and so I was incredibly impressed by her performance. As it turns out, she's 18, not 10, so it was slightly less impressive, but I have to give it to her: the girl has a voice. I didn't particularly love her music, but I'm always excited when I discover a singer who can actually sing.

4) Which leads us to Big Time Rush. Now, I'm just old enough to remember the 90s creed that if anyone had ever heard of you, you weren't cool anymore; and the idea of being pre-packaged by The Man in any way was the kiss of death. And as I said, boybands haven't really hit this generation yet, so I wanted to see how people were actually responding to BTR as a band.

The answer is "adorably." There were maybe 500 people there, mostly tween girls and their parents. There were dozens of home made t-shirts and a couple of full on costumes from the show. Lots of overheard, "But MOM, I KNOW the show is free but we have to buy stuff at Macy's to get the pass to meet them! I NEED to meet them, Mom! YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND ANYTHING, YOU'RE RUINING MY LIFE!!! IF I DON'T GET TO MEET JAMES I'LL DIE!!!" Unwilling to fight 12 year olds for a good view of the band (what with being grown ups and all) we weren't nearly close enough to see the crying and swooning girls, but since we'd gotten there an hour early and the front section was already full of devotees, I'm pretty sure they were there.

In short, the crowd loved the band, and the band, to their credit, wasn't dreadful. They were lipsynching -- so far, nothing from their show has convinced me they can hit 4-part harmony live -- but they had more presence than I expected. They only did three songs, which Rachel rather cynically suggests was because that's all they've got choreographed. Since the choreography was directly from the TV show I suspect she's right. Their choreography wasn't terribly complex, but it was athletic and high-energy, and...

Look. There were four cute, non-threatening, clean-cut teenage boys*. They were (sorta) singing and dancing in unison. There were screaming girls and harried-but-patient parents. Their songs are up-beat and earwormy as hell, and that's all I could have asked. I don't think I'd have paid to see them (especially not because it was only three songs), but as it stood? Totally worth the hour spent standing outside Macy's.

Though it would have been a better hour without Victoria Justice and Internet Sensation Josh Goldsen. They were really bad, you guys.

*Actually, they're all 20, but close enough.

Photo from Tall Blonde and Eyebrows.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Step Up 3Disappointment.

1. I love Alyson Stoner.

2. I love old tyme-y musicals.

3. Alyson Stoner has a Fred-and-Ginger-inspired duet - two and a half minutes of dancing with no cuts - in Step Up 3D.

Clearly, I had to see this film. Especially when I learned that it contained parkour dancing, not to mention some familiar faces from So You Think You Can Dance, from back when I cared.

And, well. It was pretty dreadful.

(Warning: This is long, and highly opinionated.)

The plot kicks off with Moose (Adam G. Sevani) and Camille (Alyson) at their freshman orientation at NYU. Apparently they are lifelong best friends, even though they didn't even appear in the same previous Step Up movies (she was in #1, he was in #2). She is also obviously in love with him.

When Moose accidentally gets into a dance battle with a member of the Samurai dance crew, he is witnessed by Luke (Rick Malambri), who helps him flee the Samurais and cops. Abandoning Alyson, he gets into Luke's car and lets Luke drive him to Brooklyn (after taking an enormous detour uptown to Times Square, for some reason) and take him to his warehouse in an abandoned district. There, Luke kills Moose and takes his wallet and any organs he can sell on the black market.

No, that's just what would happen in real life. In Step Up 3D-land, the warehouse is full of dancers! In a super-cool funky crib! They have a giant wall made of boomboxes! And another wall full of expensive sneakers! But they have NO MONEY. Uh-oh! Luke (who owns three computers and an expensive camera) explains to Moose that he needs him to help their crew, the Pirates, win the upcoming World Jam. He also recruits the sexy but mysterious Natalie (Sharni Vinson). They must defeat Samurai House, or the bank will foreclose on their mortgage and they'll be out on the streets! Also, it's a matter of pride, since Luke has a rivalry with Julien (Joe Slaughter), head of Samurai House.

Luke and Natalie train together, and also fall in love, as you might imagine. Meanwhile, Moose consistently ditches both school (but this is apparently not an issue, because he's never penalized for it) and Alyson in order to dance. But it turns out that Natalie is Julien's sister, and he planted her as a mole! And the bank forecloses! And they're homeless! Oh noes!

Luckily, Moose comes to the rescue, since he apparently knows the people who run the arcade at Coney Island? The Pirates live and practice there, and Moose brings in some of his old high school crew to replace a few members who've deserted for Samurai House. World Jam arrives, and a guilty Natalie springs onto the stage at the last minute to help them win. Then she reveals that she sent in an application to some film school on behalf of amateur documentarist Luke, and they go off to California together. On the train. Um. These characters aren't smart.

Okay. First off, there is not a single good actor in the entire movie. Alyson is one of the better ones, and she's at best mediocre. Luke and Julien are so bad that whenever they delivered Important Dialogue, I cracked up. Moose was slightly better, but so mealymouthed I could barely understand half his lines. It didn't help that they were working with a stupid and incoherent script, in which no one ever spoke or acted like real people, ever.

But more importantly, everyone was terrible. The entire Pirate House seemed to feel like they were entitled to live in their enormous warehouse/club with awesome expensive decor and hundreds of pairs of sneakers without ever working. Once they lose the warehouse, we get about three minutes of Luke being an incompetent, reluctant waiter, who eventually flips out on a customer who just wants his damn coffee. Moose, meanwhile, acknowledges the sacrifices that his parents made to get him into NYU, but is completely unwilling to make any of his own - and Luke appears to be actively attempting to get Moose to fail out of school so that he'll be available full-time to dance. I don't care if dancing is your passion, boys, YOU STILL HAVE TO WORK. I'd love to kick back in my awesome warehouse and sit around and write for funsies, but I also don't expect a bank to bend over backwards holding my amazing property open for me on the off-chance that I might win the money to pay five months backrent. There's even the implication that Luke's parents owned the property outright, which means Luke took out a second mortgage so that he could host a bunch of transient dancing bums and their stupid expensive hobbies. No, sorry, my sympathy is actually with the guy who's going to pay money for the property, even if he is doing it with his trust fund. This artiste-who-refuses-to-work attitude may have flown in the 90s, but this isn't RENT. Get a damn job.

On top of that, all of Moose's dances seem to involve wanton property destruction and theft. In his original battle he knocks a street seller's merchandise onto the ground so that he can dance on the guy's table, then breaks a balloon seller's helium tank and releases hundreds of his balloons (which is why he has to run from the cops). In the second qualifying round for the World Jam, he somehow manages to break the pipes under the stage (???), which leads to a cool "dancing in water" effect, but seriously, that's thousands of dollars of repair money, you dick. In his duet with Alyson, he steals some guy's hat. YOU ARE NOT CHARMING. YOU ARE AN OBNOXIOUS MENACE. STOP IT.

Oh, and did I mention that all four leads and the villain are white? Luke in particular seems fresh out of an Abercrombie ad. Yeah, I figured hip-hop and breaking was for white people to angst their way through against a background of cryptically wise (or ferociously violent) black people, helpful (or sinister) Asians, and comical, girl-crazy Latinos.

I will say that all of the dancing was superb (though the parkour was seriously lacking), and, as you might imagine, absolutely the reason to see this movie. That said, the cinematography around it was dreadful. This isn't a music video, this is a movie that is supposed to be a) featuring dancers, and b) telling a story through dance. I'm not saying you can move the camera or make cuts, but the camera should be an equal partner in the dance. Take the title song from Singin' in the Rain:

This is not a solo. It's a duet between dancer and camera, done so unobtrusively and naturally that you don't even notice the camera. Watch at 3:23 as the music crescendos and Gene leaps into the street and spins huge circles; the camera pulls back as he goes to show you how big his emotion is, how the joyousness of the dance is pouring out of him and taking over the street. Step Up 3D has no understanding of the relationship between camera and dancer. Cuts seem to be made because, eh, we haven't had a cut in a while, why not here? And the camera placement is mindbogglingly dumb. If you're showing breaking, shouldn't you show the floor? A pair of legs flailing in the air isn't really that impressive if we can't see the upper body holding them up. At another point the dancers carry Alyson forward on their shoulders, and her head is cut off by the top of the screen. Seriously? SERIOUSLY? Brilliant things could have been done with this frenetic, powerful dancing and the use of 3D, and you're cutting off people's heads. Jesus.

(Um. I have strong feelings about musicals. You might recall my screed against High School Musical, back when we started this blog. But I'm right, dammit!)

The only time the camera works with the dancers instead of against them is in the duet between Moose and Alyson, which is a modern, hip-hoppish remix of "I Won't Dance" (I can't find him singing it on YouTube, but here, have him and Ginger dancing to a reprise in my favorite of their movies). There are no cuts, as I mentioned before, and so the camera is allowed to just follow them up and down a New York street, sweeping around them as they move, celebrating the spontaneous joy of the dance.

And the dance itself! Partnered musical-theater-inspired hip-hop! I wanted to grab the number out of the movie and show it to everyone who thinks the musical is dead, because it's a brilliant blend of old and new that springs completely naturally out of a conversation, incorporates the environment as they slide along on trash can lids and swing on gates, and moves the story along. It's a modern dance that does what old-fashioned musical dances did. And it's so good.

(I admit that this cinematography wouldn't work for a hard-hitting battle scene. But it's at least a step in the right direction, in that you can see all of both dancers the whole time. What a novelty!)

In conclusion, there's a kernel of brilliance and potential in Step Up 3D, mostly thanks to the enormous dance talent they've managed to assemble in one movie, but they've failed to nurture that brilliance into something that could transform the genre, and it gets almost completely lost under terrible acting and an idiotic script about awful people. I will impatiently await the day Alyson's number appears on YouTube, but other than that, I am going to do my best to forget everything about this movie,

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday Flashback

Apparently today is Ginger's birthday!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Bieb Still, My Heart

Justin Bieber's memoir has a title:

Justin Bieber: First Step 2 Forever: My Story

I guess when you're the all-time most-viewed video on YouTube, you can have as many colons in your title as you want.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Hey there, Boo Boo! Wait, what?

Yes, this makes total sense to me.

Apparently, Justin Timberlake will be voicing Boo Boo in the upcoming Yogi Bear movie.

You know, some days this blog just kind of writes itself.

Brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack, 'cause when I leave for the night I ain't coming back

Would these two fresh-faced Disney kids go anywhere unsavory?

You know, it's funny. A couple of the tween blogs I keep on my Google reader lit up yesterday with articles about how Zac Efron was in town to premier his new dead-sibling-meets-manic-pixie-dream-girl flick, and also went to In the Heights to see Corbin. D'awww. The blogs explained that they went out together afterwards to catch up. One even specified that they drank mojitos. Cool beans.

And yet somehow, these blogs TOTALLY FAILED to mention that in actual fact, omg you guys, Zef and Corbin WENT TO A STRIP CLUB and dropped TWO GRAND on drinks and dances. OH BOYS. It's like they knew I had nothing to post about and decided to go get lap dances JUST FOR ME.* I dunno, I think it says something about how much I love these kids that I just find this endearing. I react like I do when my cat does something particularly cute: "Awww, who's an adorable widdle heartthrob who wishes he was a grown up? It's you! Yes you are! Yes you are!"

Though I think the funniest part might be the mystery insider's comment that their favorite strippers all vaguely resembled Vanessa. Um, should someone tell Zef that he can probably actually can hit that as soon as he gets back to LA? Presumably without spending 2k? I mean, he's dumb, but not THAT dumb, right? "That night, Efron walked the red carpet at the premiere of Charlie St. Cloud. Hudgens was not at his side, although she attended the LA screening last week." Right. Surely that's connected to his stripper escapades, and not because she's busy with another project on the other coast, and also has attended this movie's premier once already. SCANDAL!

But what I'm really curious about is who the mysterious "other male friend" with them was, especially since he was the one spending all the money, it seems. Having grown up on late 80s/early 90s after-school specials, I'm assuming he was the out of character Buster Bunny to their hesitant-but-easily-persuaded Plucky and Hamton. Presumably now that they've tasted the forbidden delights of likker and wimmin, they're also both alcoholics who will die in a car crash, y'know, tomorrow. I bet Hudge will look awesome in a black veil.

So remember, kids! Cartoon All-Stars say don't do drugs! But if you do find yourself drinking in a strip club, please make sure it's at least this hilarious.

* I choose not to speculate about anyone's sexuality in this particular blog post. Feel free to insert your own joke here about how there's very little other reason one or the other or both would be interested in lapdances from the ladies. I'm just sayin'. I mean, not sayin'. I mean…

Monday, July 26, 2010

Because it's been awhile...

Dear Zef,

I know you're trying really hard, but you're still not James Dean. Sorry, bro.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Down on Klickitat Street.

I love Beverly Cleary's Ramona books more than I can properly express, and I was both excited and worried about the new movie adaptation, mostly thanks to Selena Gomez, who I enjoy quite a lot as an actress, but who is pretty much the last person I'd cast as sensible, awkward, somewhat-dowdy Beezus. Still, I went, because according to the trailer they were going for a Beezus/Henry Huggins romance, and I have been gunning for those two to get married since I was about six.

And, well. Ramona and Beezus does not fit my mental image of the books at all, really. But it is a cute, bright, funny movie about an extremely likeable little girl, and I enjoyed it immensely.

Sure, the movie's a little overfull, since they tried to cram in plot elements from most of the eight Ramona books. And the special effects-laden fantasies of Ramona's imagination running away with her don't really work. And Henry (who is, in general, kind of blah) does not appear to have his famous dog, Ribsy, which is a travesty beyond expression.

But, on the plus side:

- Joey King is adorable as Ramona, who is spunky and creative and lovable, and holds up the theme of being true to yourself very well.

- Her relationship with her father - she was always a daddy's girl in the books - is beautifully done, and John Corbett does a great job in general at playing Ramona's stressed but loving father. Like, I want him to be my dad. So great.

- The romance between Ramona's Aunt Beatrice (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Ramona's best friend's Uncle Hobart (Josh Duhamel) is really sweet and fun. Also, I don't think I'm going to be able to reread the books without having the hots for Uncle Hobart now.

- The cat(s?) playing Picky-Picky is precious.

- It was really funny! Some parts had me laughing kind of embarrassingly loud (best line: Beezus tearfully asks "Who could love a girl named Beezus?" and Ramona timidly offers "...Jesus?").

- Selena Gomez, while not my Beezus, plays an acerbic Type A older sister very well, and is pleasingly aggressive in her romance with Henry.

- ...and all the little moments from the books that made me squeal. Susan's curls! Willa Jean being a brat! There's a moment when their dad brings home gummy bears for the girls in a paper bag, just like in the books, and I kept nudging my poor friend in sheer glee. Books! Books I love, on the screen!

In conclusion, while not my Ramona, this was a good Ramona, and I'm glad there's a fun, cheerful movie out there about girls and family and imagination, and gladder still that it'll probably get more kids reading the books, because those books are darn good.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to pen my four-trillion-word Henry/Beezus fanfic. AND DAMMIT, THERE WILL BE RIBSY.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


I loved Drake and Josh, and have been keeping an eye on the the careers of both stars since it ended. A few days ago, when I heard that Drake would be appearing in The Fairly Oddparents movie, I was:

1. pleased to hear that he is actually going to be in a thing, since he's been kind of MIA since the show ended,
2. troubled that he's apparently still under that blood oath to Nickelodeon, and
3. confused, because he's obviously too old to play a kid and too young to play a parent, and the fairies are apparently going to be CGI. Maybe he's slated to play pop star Chip Skylark?

But no. According to Just Jared Jr., Drake will be playing 10-year-old Timmy Turner.

omg that outfit


On the one hand, this is kind of terrible. The movie (about Timmy's refusal to grow up) looks terrible, the hook of the plot (hotting up the crazy nerd in order to make Timmy want to grow up) sounds terrible, and the effect this will have on Drake's career will probably be terrible.

But on the other hand...oh my God I am so going to see this movie, because that picture is hilarious.

Next up: Russell Crowe as Jimmy Neutron.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I've got this low center of gravity. You can't knock me over.

How many Justin Biebers could you take in a fight?

Created by Oatmeal

Yeah, that's right. WHO WANTS TO TOUCH ME?

(Link courtesy of Becky, who is stranded in upstate New York, fending off bears and wolverines and the Amish.)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Flashback: Backstreet Boys

Backstreet Boys: I Want It That Way (1999)

(This is actually not even close to my favorite video ("Quit Playin' Games (With My Heart)") or their most iconic ("Everybody (Backstreet's Back)"), but these geniuses have disabled embedding on, like, everything on YouTube. Boys, I know you're old and stuff, but that's not how you make viral media work for you.)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Open Letter VIII

Dear Zac Efron,

Your mustache is unacceptable.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Leave it to Bieber

(Okay, that post title has almost nothing to do with what I'm about to say, but I've been wanting to use it for a while and I'm tired of saving it.)

I was on the subway the other day and some guys were doing a sort of dance/comedy act to various recent hits. At one point this supremely catchy song came on. "I kind of like this," I thought to myself, grooving along to the music. "Who is this girl singing?"

Then I realized it was Justin Bieber. Whoops!

The song was his smash hit "Baby," which I then went home and listened to all the way through. And, you know, I was pretty disappointed with myself. I mean, the lyrics alternate between moronic ("And I was like 'Baby, baby, baby, oh'/ Like 'Baby, baby, baby, no'/ Like 'Baby, baby, baby, oh'") and creepily, age-inappropriately commitment-focused ("And we would never ever ever be apart...I'd buy you anything/I'd buy you any ring"), but the song itself is super catchy. I'm not going to lie: I've listened to it about a billion times in the past few days.

But if you're afraid that I've succumbed to Bieber Fever, don't be, because I watched the music video, and it is vile beyond imagining.

[Trigger warning for sexual aggressiveness and stalking.]

The basic plot of the video consists of Bieber chasing his ex-girlfriend around a bowling alley. And I do mean chasing, or at least physically pursuing, and doing the following charming things:

- He grabs her jacket and pulls her towards him, and she pushes his hand away angrily.

- He leans in, cups her face, and tries to kiss her, and she pushes him away (we can't see her face) and walks off.

- He bumps into her, stands directly in front of her so she that she has to stop, and places his hand over her chest, almost but not quite touching her breasts, and she pushes him away angrily.

- He dances over to her as she sits on a stool and sits on the next one as she sidles away, then leans into her until she stands and walks away, with an epic hair toss.

- As she walks down some sort of ramp he keeps pace with her on the railing, at one point reaching down to grab her shoulder briefly and then letting go as she looks up at him; then she walks away.

- He chases her around and over a pool table and presses his forehead to hers. She's clearly weakening, because she gives a little exasperated smile to the camera as she (you guessed it) walks away.

Then they have a danceoff, which I guess wins her over? He slowly progresses closer and closer to her over the course of it, and finally places a hand on the small of her back and pulls her hips flush against his own. They sway with their foreheads touching, then Ludacris gives him a "Way to go, dude" high-five/handshake, and Bieber and the girl walk out of the bowling alley hand in hand.


I watched the rest of Bieber's music videos today, and two of the others also involve him being a creepy, creepy stalker who follows a teenage girl of color around a colorful set until she falls for him, but this one grossed me out the most. SHE IS PUSHING YOU AWAY, DUDE. PHYSICALLY, WITH HER HANDS. And yet he still persists! So here are the messages I've gotten from this video:

1. It's totally okay to stalk your ex-girlfriend.

2. It's also totally okay to keep bothering a girl who wants you to leave her alone. You can wear her down!

3. You can touch her if you want. Her body is not inviolate.

4. If a girl acts like she doesn't like you, she probably thinks you're cute and charming and wants you to keep harassing her.

5. Ludacris will like you if you do these things.

I don't blame Bieber himself for this video, or for the other ones where he's Creepy McCreepenstein. He's like, what, four and a half? He doesn't direct these things. And I will give him credit: when he's not Autotuned to within an inch of his life, he has an impressive voice, and I was pleasantly surprised by his dancing ability. He's a talented kid!

But good lord, do his videos give me the skeeve. Usher or whoever else is guiding this kid's music video career, could you please dial down the creepy like, 20 notches? Because right now they just make me want to boil my eyes in order to clean them. And I'm horrified that the 8-year-olds who love him may be basing their romantic fantasies on the horrendous little dramas Bieber is playing out for us.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Victorious! No, Wait, the Other Thing. Failure.

Since I've become a little obsessed with Big Time Rush in the last few days -- by which I mean there are nine episodes on the TiVo and I snarled at Rachel when she asked if she could delete them -- I've been watching a lot of Nickelodeon. And thus I've been inundated with promos for Victorious so I figured what the heck, and TiVoed the pilot and second episode.

And then deleted them immediately, swearing to never watch the show again. Seriously. It was THAT BAD, and also THAT INFURATING.

Let me get the worst out of the way first: the second episode contained flat-out sexual assault played for laughs. I started to describe it to Jess (smoke pouring out of my ears from rage) and she already knew; she pointed me towards this angry rant by her friend (and Tweenage commenter!) BeyondHeroism. It encapsulates my feelings on that subplot nicely. And that's the reason I won't be watching the show again, because that shit isn't funny.

Beyond that -- if you can get beyond that -- the show was just bad.

Basically, the set up goes like this: Tori (Victoria Justice, of course) is a normal, average, typical girl whose sister happens to go to a performing arts school in Hollywood and is preparing for a big showcase with Andre, a piano player and composer. But the night of the big show, Tori's sister has an allergic reaction and can't sing, so Tori has to go on instead! She wows the crowd and is immediately enrolled in the school, but isn't sure she's good enough! Everyone says she is, so she gives it a chance, but on the first day she accidentally spills coffee on Douchebag Whose Name I Can't Remember But I Think I'm Supposed to Like ("Douchey Guy" for short), and as she's trying to help him clean up, his girlfriend Jade walks up and goes all Mean Girl on Tori for touching her boyfriend. She and Tori catfight for the rest of the episode until Tori out-sasses her and wins, the end.

Except it sucked way harder than that can possibly convey.

First, to give credit where it's due, Victoria herself is actually a pretty good singer. She could stand to take it down a few notches, but her voice is strong enough and despite the fact that she's popstarring it up to 11, she manages to avoid the Demi Lovato School of Tuneful Shouting. As an actress, she's passable. She managed to hit some punchlines, seriously blew others, but wasn't offensively bad. She was blandly likeable, but, well, that was the show's fault. More on that in a bit.

So the problems with the pilot: first off, her sister. Her sister is the one at the arts school who wants to be a star, right? But she's bad at singing. That's not my judgment, it's a gag (Trina: "How was that?" Tori: "Loud.") so it's unclear to me why she would be at this school, and why apparently no one ever thought to ask Tori if she also likes singing or whatever when she's presented in the show as being so much better. So it doesn't make a lot of sense that no one had ever actually asked Tori if she liked singing before, but whatever; there's a rant in there about female protagonists who aren't striving for anything, but that's not entirely about this show. Which is bad enough that I don't need tangential rants.

Aside from that, the instant feud between Tori and Jade really irritated me, because literally their only interaction before hating each other had to do with Douchey Guy. Look, I'll be honest, I'm never going to love mean girl characters and bullying; just not my thing. But this one annoyed me specifically because it wasn't, like, "Jade is jealous of Tori's mad skills," or even, "Jade is pissed because Tori spilled coffee on her." Nope: their entire feud revolved around the guy, who, by way of occasionally speaking to Tori, seems to be turning it into a really stupid love triangle. Now, I'm not fond of those either, but this one actually gives me a double-whammy of Do Not Want:

1) Douchey Guy has no character and doesn't do anything; I think we're supposed to want him to get together with Tori because he's just sort of there and is the only viable candidate, which he is because

2) The only other guys on the show are the nerdy sidekick with the puppet -- who I loathe because "puppet sexually harasses people" is not funny, it is creepy and gross -- and Andre. Andre! Who is talented, and actually shown interacting with Tori, and encouraging her, and being friendly and nice! (You know, when not sexually assaulting people and being an asshole, as he does in the second episode…) These are the sorts of things you should found a relationship on! But I don't think it's going to happen, and maybe I'm overly cynical about this, but I'm betting he stays supportive friendly guy and not flirty boyfriend material, because -- sigh -- he's black, and interracial relationships are still pretty rare on TV generally, and teen/tween fare in particular, and more so on Nick than on Disney.

Like I said, maybe I'm just being cynical. Maybe the show will surprise me! This is an area where I'd be thrilled to be wrong. But at the moment, despite showing an actual friendship between Tori and Andre, and even though they haven't worked to make this guy likeable, to show any reason why he and Tori would like each other, or actually given him any sort of personality at all, the narrative is shaping up in a Tori-and-Douchey-Guy-UST way.

[Note: actually, looking at cast pictures to go with this post, Douchey Guy appears to be more ethnically ambiguous than I remember from watching the show. So that does alleviate the "why no interracial relationships, show?" fear a little bit, though not totally, since black/white relationships are much more rare than white/hispanic or white/ethnically ambiguous relationships in tween/teen fare. But once again, a discussion for another day.]

So even though Jade is a fine, generic mean girl, I'm annoyed by her; I want to like Andre but he was detestable in the second episode; I hate Puppet Guy; I have zero interest in Douchey Guy. Tori's sister basically vanished. That leaves the teacher (generically wacky) and another female character, Cat, who the show jokes is bipolar. Because someone says something mean so she bursts into tears, but then someone gives her candy and she squeals! Yup, that's bipolar all right. Mental illnesses totally work like that, and also, are hilarious.

Then you've just got Tori herself. (I said I'd get around to her eventually, right? How long is this rant now?) She's best described by looking at the second episode. There's a subplot about how all students at her new school paint their lockers to represent themselves. Like, the piano guy has a keyboard on his, Douchey Guy says he has no secrets so his is somehow translucent, etc. Tori is made intensely uncomfortable by this, and her initial solution is to put up a white board on her locker, so other people can draw whatever they want on this area that reflects her. She has so little character that she's actually defined by other people. Jess once described the main problem with iCarly like this:

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!

It remains true! The shows are both Dan Schneider fare, and they both center around basically blank slate characters. The differences are that Carly herself actually makes things happen -- the iCarly show-within-a-show exists because it was Carly's idea -- and the supporting cast are pretty much all endearing. Victorious, on the other hand, centers around a blank-slate character who so far hasn't really made anything happen -- she's dragged on stage and talked into going to the school -- with a supporting cast I overwhelmingly disliked.

I know it's early going. Even good shows tend to need a handful of episodes to find their stride. But Victorious alternated between run-of-the-mill dreadfulness and actively, seriously offending me, so I won't be hanging around to see if it improves. Sorry, Nick, but this one's a failure.

Monday, April 12, 2010


"We're trying to set up a movie for me in the near future - it's going to be similar to the story of how I got discovered. Kinda like my own version of 8 Mile." - Justin Bieber






...I mean, is it about his life on the mean streets of YOUTUBE? Or...what?



Saturday, April 10, 2010

Hey Hey, We're the Big Time Rush

So I've decided I should attempt to watch more Nick shows. With the exception of the odd episode of iCarly, I really haven't paid much attention to Nick in awhile; I tend to be entranced by the cracktastic stylings of Disney, and the way they promote their stars does its job in that I get sucked in and become fond. But there's plenty going on at Nick, so I figured what the heck and decided to watch the next Nick show I stumbled across. It happened to be Big Time Rush.

YOU GUYS, why didn't anyone TELL me that Nick was running a barely-disguised updated version of The Monkees? I love boy bands, and I love wacky hijinks, so it took about four seconds for me to decide I needed a season pass on my Tivo. I mean, come on! It's boys running around with cartoon side effects, and then doing choreographed dances and wearing wacky costumes! Their theme song seems to be primarily sung by robots, but that hardly matters, because YOU GUYS, THEY HAD TO SPY ON SOMEONE SO THEY HID BEHIND A SHRUBBERY WEARING TREE HATS. THIS IS MY NEW FAVORITE SHOW.

Also check out the theme song/music video, which I was going to embed, but it auto-started AND the embed code broke Blogger. Nickelodeon, that is very bad planning, boo.

The show also has most of the peripheral cast going for it; they range from unremarkable (the sweet but dumb mother) to actualfax adorable (the smarter-than-everyone-else little sister) to over-the-top but watchable (everyone else -- manager and his assistant, record exec, hotel guy, etc). There are some recurring girls in the background somewhere; I'd like to see them get larger parts to even things out gender-wise, but at least they've managed to make the boys' girl-craziness as non-skeevy as possible.

Sadly, the show is not without LOL Wacky Sexism. The subplot of the second episode I saw -- look, Nick has aired about six episodes in the last 24 hours, what do you want from me? -- featured The Gay One desperately wanting to see a sexy mathematician (totally not Danica McKellar, really) give a lecture, but it turned out to be at an all girls school. Naturally, he had to wear a dress and sneak in. I'm with them so far! But once he got inside, Not Danica explained how she was excited to be at a girls-only school because boys are so dumb and no boy has ever understood her book because they're all so bad at math! LOL. So The Gay One proclaims that yes, he is a guy who is good at math! So all the girls tackle him angrily, with cat meow sound effects. The cat sound effects would have bugged me on their own, but were actually the least irritating part here. What bothered me is that, in real life, we know how it works and it ain't like that. In real life, people still suggest there's an innate difference between men and women that makes women bad at math. Maybe the show thought reversing that would provide hilarity; idk, but actually, I found it belittling to a very real, very existent problem.

That said, if I can still watch Hannah Montana, an actually terrible show, despite its issues with racism and sexism -- wait, why do I watch that again? -- I can tolerate the problems with Big Time Rush for now, and hope that the show, still early in its run, improves in that regard. Because it was 90% charming to only 10% irritating (…okay, it was 60% charming, 30% old-school Hanna Barbera sound effects, 10% irritating), and for tween TV, that's actually a pretty good ratio.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Kids' Choice Awards 2010: I Didn't Actually Watch Them

So the Kids' Choice Awards! They were, uh, a couple of weeks ago. Look, I've been very busy writing a story about gay pirates, okay? It's serious business.

I didn't watch the actual show because I was out of town on a business trip, but I paid very close attention to all the follow-up coverage on the tween blogs. I have no strong feelings about the winners, except surprise over Slightly Worse Sprouse walking away with Choice TV Actor, and firm agreement that iCarly and Selena deserved their wins. I'm here to talk about the most important thing: the clothes. Specifically, the clothes on the tween starlets, because boys are boring, and I don't actually care about Rihanna and Katy Perry.

(Click on the pictures to embiggen.)

Best Dressed: Selena. You guys, she looks like a goddess. I love the summery yellow and the toga-like drape of the dress, and the gladiator-esque sandals and braided belt complement the Greek look without being cheesily on-the-nose about it (and, incidentally, make her legs look about a thousand miles long). The delicate gold accessories and loose side braid are appropriately girlish and, again, help to subtly buttress the theme without being, you know, a heavy collar and an updo and a "DO YOU GET IT THIS IS A GREEK LOOK?" A++++, would KCA again.

Runner Up: Ashley Argota. In preparation for this post I did a little research on Miss Double A Battery here, and YOU GUYS, I LOVE HER. Expect a flaily post about how I want her and Jennette McCurdy to make a thousand musicals about friendship and determination, okay? Anyway, it's not quite as unusual or striking as Selena's, but it's bright and springlike and fun, and she looks great in it, and when we're best friends she's totally going to let me borrow those shoes. I'm like 97% positive this is going to happen. Okay? Okay.

Close But No Cigar: Keke Palmer. Keke P will also be getting a post about how much I love her, because - brace yourselves - I also love her. And, you know, I can see what she's going for here - kind of a funky, unusual fabric (upon close examination those appear to be beads and not candy. alas.) to break up the usual "sundress, colorful pumps, minimal jewelry" look everyone was rocking. And she herself looks lovely, of course. But I just...I want to eat her dress. And I keep wondering if it hurt to sit in it. I feel like these reactions are not optimal! Also, the pockets are awkward.

Yawn: Demi. Clingy. Black. Silvery stuff. Half a size too tight. I repeat: yawn. Demi, there will be plenty of time for this sort of thing when you're a 20something starlet and you're not allowed to wear pastels. In the meantime, you're, like, what, 11 years old? Have a little fun! Wear something with color and flutter to it!

Also, she accessorized really poorly. Is it just me or does it look like Adopted is in costume as a young Doc Brown?

Yawn, Redux: Miranda. Miranda is so, so pretty. I included the closeup solely because I can't get over how insanely pretty she is. But this is so boring. She looks like she's headed to an eighth grade prom in Anywhereville, USA, not an awards show. There's nothing wrong with the dress or the shoes or the bangles, there's just...something missing. It needed something more. (Psst! Miranda! Next time accessorize with Former TV Big Brother and Jess's TV Crush Josh Peck and all is forgiven. Dude has been scarce lately.)

Disappointing: Jennette. I get the feeling Jennette gets tired of stomping around in Sam's board shorts and hoodies and converses, because she always goes all frilly and poofy at events. Which could work (even though Sam's costuming - and all the costuming - is one of the highlights of the show, and she looks adorable in it), but this doesn't. All the baggage around her waist just kind of makes her look like a turquoise creampuff, and also way too matronly for the KCA. My kingdom for a pared-down sundress!

The best-dressed member of the iCarly cast was actually Nathan, surprisingly enough. But look at him! He looks like a little man! (Which is exactly what I said, out loud, when I saw him.) He's totally dreamy if you're eight, and not even in that "eight-year-old girls like boys who look like girls" way - dude's got some shoulders. I love the shades and the cuff; he looks like he just snuck out behind his prep school to grab a smoke, but in a wholesome kind of way. Well done, sir.

(Yes, I know I said I wasn't going to talk about boys. Hush, you.)

Not Winning Me Over, Newbie: Victoria Justice. Her new show looks incredibly blah (I like Leon Thomas and the rival seems amusingly caustic, but Victoria needs to go to the Miley Cyrus School of Shouting Is Not Acting, post haste), and in general the way Nickelodeon is promoting her everywhere (and it does seem to be Victoria Justice the Product, not Victorious the Show, that they're making a big, borderline-creepy deal over) leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The Stacey McGill-esque emphasis on sort of hard-line sexy New York nightclub fashion here doesn't help - "Ooh la la, doesn't this shirring make my dress look tight? It's off-the-shoulder! Check out my peep-toe booties!" It's boring, I can see it walking down Madison Avenue every day of my life, and those booties make me sad, Victoria. Sad inside.

Would a Smile Kill You?: Miley. Nightshirt. Leggings (I think?). Those damn peep-toe booties. Hair. A sullen expression. Jeez, Miley, I know you're money and everything these days, but come on, you're still only 17, and this is the award show aimed directly at the people who made - and are still making - you famous. Make an effort.

Just...No: Justin Bieber. What is this, Bieber? Are the green shoes supposed to be Nickelodeon slime? Have your lower legs been devoured by the dreaded Lime Green Feet-Eating Snakes That Look Like Ugly High-Tops? WHAT ARE YOU DOING, CHILD? Whatever it is, you need to stop. Immediately.

All pics from Just Jared, Jr., which shouldn't surprise anyone.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

From the Bad Idea Files

You guys know how much I love High School Musical. And how much I love La Tizz, and how many ridiculous (and downright terrible) things I will watch for her. Heck, I'm even planning to watch her (presumably) terrible CW show about cheerleading with Aly Michalka. Okay, actually, I'm pretty psyched about that.

The point is: Tiz iss talented! She's sassy! I'd watch her in anything.

But just because I'd watch it doesn't make Sharpay's Fabulous Adventures anything other than a TERRRRRRRIBLE idea. For serious.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Who woulda thought that a boy like him...

In the last few months, basically since the I Kissed a Vampire travesty premiered, I've become extremely fond of Drew Seeley. As I said at the time, he was the only part of IKAV that I actually liked. Afterwards, I watched a few (okay, all) of his YouTube videos and started reading his twitter. And I admit, I was totally charmed by his frequent posting from Starbucks, his adorable curly hair, and his overall, fairly-talented-but-normal-ish-seeming-guy-ness. A lot of that has to do with him coming across as actually pretty clued in to who and where he is in life; he's not famous, but he's talented and lucky enough to be able to do what he wants. I very much appreciate that.

So today he launched his new website. Have a shrunk-down screencap:

And it just leaves me wondering why a guy who seems otherwise pretty clue-full is apparently wearing the boy-version of a Hannah Montana wig and holding a prop guitar. Really, Drew???

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Winning Strategy

Confession time: I have found Miley really annoying lately.

Oh, she's still a great singer! But the pole dancing and the Noah Cyrus controversies and the everything she says coming out vapid and spoiled and the hey's really turned me off to La Cyrus. So I was surprised today when I read something that made Miley come off as charming and likable as she used to, before she conquered the Earth: an interview with her and Nicholas Sparks, whose book is the basis of her new movie, The Last Song.

I mean, she doesn't say much of anything in the article. But Sparks comes off as so condescending, arrogant, and unbelievably, ludicrously full of himself (he compares himself to Sophocles and Hemingway, then cites his own book as his favorite "tale of youth"), that Miley, by contrast, appears to be a treasure of good humor, cute teenage-ness, and self-awareness.

Clearly, Miley's new gameplan is simple: just hang out with people who are so reprehensible they make her look really good by contrast. (Confidential to Miley: This doesn't work when that person is Paris Hilton.) Good luck, Smiley!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Obligatory Post

Zac Efron's hair at the Oscars: bringing tooliness to a whole new level. Wow.

In profile:

As always, thanks to JJJ.

Friday, March 5, 2010

We need to talk.

Sterling. Honey.

You are a talented kid. I really like you! I like you 17 Again. I love you in Sonny With a Chance. I enjoy when you babble about Power Rangers and actually play guitar.

But do you know what you're bad at?

Playing a pop star.

So please don't do that agai....

God damn it.

Never mind.

Monday, February 15, 2010

I'm so starstruck. Where "starstruck" means "bored."

So... Starstruck.

What is there to say? Last night Jess, Rachel, and I ate some chocolates and watched the movie. I woke up this morning and could not tell you a single thing about it. Starstruck wasn't kill-it-with-fire bad, unlike some DCOMs I could name, but it wasn't charming or entertaining or, well, anything. It just sort of... was a thing that was on the screen for a while there.

Basically: Sterling Knight, who we usually love, gave an entirely phoned-in performance as pop sensation Christopher Wilde, who can't escape the paparazzi no matter where he goes. He's being considered for a movie role, but the director tells him he won't get it if he keeps getting his picture on magazine covers with his girlfriend, because, you know, the people who make movies really, really hate it when their stars get free publicity, I guess. Meanwhile, Danielle Campbell, doing her best impression of a young Vanessa Hudgens, plays Jessica Olsen: a small-town girl who, due to wacky hijinks, ends up spending a day with SK trying to duck the paparazzi.

Naturally they fall for each other, despite the facts that they have zero chemistry, Jessica is really unpleasant, and nothing that happens makes any sense. SK has to pretend he doesn't know her so he can get the movie role, then decides he'd rather be with the girl than be in the movie, she gives a nonsensical speech to the press, he shows up at the school dance, and our TiVo spontaneously killed itself from the boredom a few minutes before the end.

And now, the commentary.


Becky: The first unfortunate thing is that Starstruck is also a Lady Gaga song.

Rachel: The second unfortunate thing is Sterling Knight's singing.


Jess: Wait, so the popular sister is the frumpy one?

Becky: I don't think on purpose.

Jess: Okay, the lady paparazzo's name is Libby Lam. You need to write that down so I can use it for a kicky girl reporter later.


Jess: Under 21 club! That's where all the movie stars go.

Becky: Ohhhhh, Brandon Smith. Are you sad you're always someone's sidekick?

Becky: Chelsea Staub is a super low-rent Amanda Bynes.



Jess: The thing that's wrong with this, though, is that girls who are THIS INTO A POP STAR aren't cool and popular. They're insane and everyone knows it. Those girls I knew in high school who covered their walls, ceiling, and floor with pictures of NSYNC? Not popular!


SK's Mom/Manager: You look like a street kid.

Rachel: He looks like a STREET KID? Because he's in a T-SHIRT?


Jess: Oh man, I hope every DCOM from now on has a giant poster of someone's face. IT WORKED IN HSM. YOU MUST HAVE ONE.

Jess: Why is the older sister so old? She's clearly in her mid 20s.

Older Sister: *babbles something about chatting and texting and blogging*

Jess: OMG! Chats and texts and blogs! Kids today!


Jess: Why are they back at the same club?

Becky: It's the only club in LA!

Rachel: Did the black sidekick just talk about "chillin'"?

Jess: I'm more interested in why they appear to live together.

SK to Nico from SWATC: ...You live in my house for free, eat all my food, drive my car...

Jess: SEE?!!!

Jess: Why so many Libbies in this movie? There are at least three.

Becky: Not that one girl. She's smart because she was reading a book.


SK performs while wearing a shirt and some pants and looking bored.

Jess: They aren't even trying to make him look like a pop star.

Rachel: What are you talking about, he's wearing sunglasses!

Jess: They never taught him that if you pull the mic away from your face while you're singing, it looks real fake.

Nico from SWaC joins him onstage, rapping.

Jess: So the paid best friend is also famous...?

Rachel: I think you mean "kept boy."

Jess: What an excellent singing performance by Sterling's pet robot.


Becky: Why do they keep going to this one club?

Jess: Under 21 clubs are totally cool, and you should go to Disney's coolest club, in Downtown Disney in Orlando, Florida! Tell your parents, kids!


Little Sister wanders around a completely deserted alley, then pukes for no reason.

Jess: Oh, she's in the deserted part of LA. ... I like her Laura Ashley dress. She's California Casual, just like Dawn Shafer.

Rachel: Why is the sidekick in highwater pants?

Jess: Why did she puke, exactly? Is she pregnant? That would be the best movie ever.

Rachel: Spoiler: she's not pregnant. But if she was, and Sterling had to marry her and pretend to be the father --

Jess: I would watch that SO HARD.

[hilarious shadow puppets and slap fighting]


Jess: SK and boring girl are wearing the same shade of lip gloss!


Jess: BWAHAHA, HIS NAME IS UP IN LIGHTS IN HIS ROOM. It would be so much better if he were playing this as Chad Dylan Cooper and not trying to be appealing.


Rachel: I wish the girl didn't have to be so virginal and deliver every line in that baby voice. Oh hi, I can't talk to boys if they aren't in my bible study group!

Jess: Are you gonna give me a promise ring? Otherwise I can't hold your hand!


Becky: This song has been going on for a really long, boring time.

Rachel: The girl agrees with you.

Jess: La la la, I have feelings and I sing high... if I sang low, I'd be threatening to 12-year-olds...

Rachel: But to be fair, he's more on key than Taylor Swift singing live.

Jess: I like his autotune. He keeps it in his pocket in case he needs it.

Rachel: Which he does.

[This song: How is it still going on??? The girl escapes to the garage, which is full of sports cars in eye-searingly bright primary colors.]

Jess: Are those Crayola cars? Or... what the Power Rangers drive?

[SK sings along with himself on the radio]

J, R, B in unison: NO NOT AGAIN.

Becky: Acting-wise, this girl is on about the same level as Hudge in the first HSM.

Jess: You mean eye-gougingly bad?



SK and Little Sister push SK's car into Little Sister's empty garage. No, that's not a euphemism.

Jess: Why are they PUSHING the car? Why don't the parents have ANY cars?

Becky: What happened to the car they had earlier?!

Jess: Where'd he get that bucket hat, 1996??


Jess: Big Sister doesn't want to talk to Little Sister about why she (Big Sister) gets taken home by her celebrity crush's best friend after she (Little Sister) disappears? Okay. Also, I love how smug the older sister looks for no reason.

Rachel: I love her wide-eyed look of total crazy.

Becky: Little Sister is a mildly better actress when she's being bitchy.

Becky: Where did she run to? Why the close up of Little Sister just staring at nothing?

Jess: I like that they're wearing that matching look-what-gender-I-am hoodies.

Jess: Why does she hate her sister so much that she wouldn't even be like, "Please say hi to my sister"?

Rachel: Becky, if I ever meet Corbin Bleu, I'm not telling you.


SK and Little Sister run away from the beach to avoid the paparazzi.

Jess: Maybe he should buy an old, shitty car if he's sick of the paparazzi spotting him in nice ones. Also, do the paparazzi really helpfully drive around in giant, sinister black vans?

SK and Little Sister hide by pulling their shirts up over their noses.

Becky: "Where is Sterling Knight and that girl he's with? I just see a strange couple here with no bottom of their heads!"

Rachel: Are we about to have an "LA is awesome" montage? Because...LA isn't awesome.


Becky: They aren't trying at all with the acting.

Jess: She might be. Maybe she's just bad at it. ... Oh, her FACE. Nose scrunch of fake cuteness!

Becky: Uh, so, NO ONE in LA recognizes him, but the paparazzi stalk NO ONE ELSE? Gosh, I wonder if those photos will be a plot point later. Someone might find them! [Note from the future: Shockingly, they weren't. SK just moped over the slideshow of them he put on his laptop. Which is kind of even better.]

Jess: I hope it's her sister, who then STABS HER IN THE EYE.


SK and Little Sister get lost.

Rachel: It's not this hard to find the highway in LA!

Becky: Well, girls are bad navigators, and boys don't stop for directions!

Jess: I bet she wants to go buy shoes!

Becky: Are they stuck in quicksand? ... Oh my god, THEY ARE ACTUALLY STUCK IN QUICKSAND. I was joking.

The car is literally completely submerged.

Jess: Oh, it's just water. HOW DID HE DRIVE INTO THAT? THAT IS A LAKE.

Rachel: She didn't say to turn, and she's the navigator!

Jess: How is that the road?!!

SK: Dad, there's no signal, can you hear me?

Jess: Maybe if you'd put the phone by your mouth.

Little Sister: I'm going to beach where my sister is probably freaking out!!!

Jess: Not that you've cared for the past five hours!


[Some promo thing featuring Demi and the Jonii, um... doing fake old-school, Run DMC-style hip hop? And Nick implores us to keep it funky, and keep bouncing? And we don't hate it and find Demi adorable and the Jonii tolerable? WHAT IS HAPPENING, THE WORLD IS TOPSY TURVY. IT FEELS LIKE WE'RE HAVING A COLLECTIVE STROKE.]


Becky: Doesn't she have a right to be cranky? He did just drive her grandmother's car into a lake.

Jess: A very small, very deep lake.


Becky: ... wait, did she just say his black sidekick is his DRIVER???

Jess: WOW, is that inappropriate.


SK and Little Sister play in a lake. A clean one this time, not a hidden muddy car-eating one.

Becky: So since she was pissed, he dropped her in the lake...

Rachel: ...And now they're in love!


Jess: AUGH, his delivery.

Rachel: He's not even trying.

Jess: "Yeah this is fun, whatever, I'll say lines I guess..."


Jess: What's on his face?

Rachel: Eh, that's just his face.


Rachel: "I'm his driver! Or possibly his best friend, or possibly a rapper."


SK: "That was close!"

Rachel: "I almost acted!"


SK and Little Sister break up or something. LIKE TEN TIMES.

Jess: They've ended this scene, like, four times already.

Rachel: It's like the end of LotR. There are just going to be more hobbits on the bed. Also, if I hadn't seen SK in anything else, I'd think he was the worst actor ever.

Jess: And singer.

Rachel: I do think that, actually.


Becky: If he hates taking pictures, why did he just... walk up to those girls and take pictures?


Rachel: She's the only brunette in LA!

Rachel: Why would the paparazzi pay attention to the one crying girl? Isn't there always a crying girl around a pop star? And why does Sterling only know one chord?

Jess: And why did Big Sister just sit around at his table, in his house, and then just leave without waiting to see him or anything?


Rachel: Nice giant American flag, Boy Miley.

Jess: Is it man-hug time? Why is Nico from SWaC dressed for golf?


[Blonde girlfriend breaks up with him]

SK: ...O...kay...

Rachel: The first word he's delivered well!

[She walks out. Nico from SWaC looks triumphant.]

Jess: "She dumped you! We can finally be together!"


Becky: Why is NO ONE is upset by the destruction of the pink car???


Plot: Throws up all over the screen.

Becky: Sterling, if you were serious about being in a movie, you would NEVER try and get more exposure in the press!

Jess: How dare you look at girls?!! It's a movie about a gay guy! Go make out with your sidekick!!

Rachel: Also, she's not doing anything in the picture! He's not even in it! It's just a picture of a girl!

Jess: It's like if someone took a picture of us tonight and was like, "STERLING KNIGHT IN ORGY WITH THREE JEWS!"

Jess: Also, OH MY GOD, he is doing the RIGHT THING by telling them not to follow you around because do you really want the paparazzi STALKING YOU? THIS MAKES NO SENSE!


Little Sister makes a tearful speech to the paparazzi about how horribly horrible they are for insinuating that SK dates girls.

Becky: Why are they there?!! What are you crying about??! WHAT IS GOING ON, I DON'T UNDERSTAND. HOW ARE THEY TEARING HIM DOWN BY SAYING HE'S DATING A PERSON???

Rachel: Becky, he can't date a girl.

Jess: They have cooties. Also, way to totally confirm that you know him, Little Sister.


Becky: What... WHAT are Brandon Smith's pants?

Jess: They're leggings. Purple ones. Also, he's the only one TRYING to act.


Becky: Pausing to rant. Just FYI, because I'm the only one who's watched Another Cinderella Story all the way through (and fair enough), but there is TOTALLY A SCENE in that where Drew Seeley talks to his token black sidekick and then storms in to talk to his parental manager and fires her. And yeah, Drew Seeley? WAY BETTER fake pop star than Sterling Knight.

Jess: Because he's a fake pop star in real life.


Becky: "Come to the dance with me. I've been horrible to you and you keep ditching me and leaving me places, and also didn't help me meet the guy I'm in love with who you spent all that time with, but it's totally cool because we're sisters!"

Little Sister: "You're a good sister."
Big Sister: "Aww. Pretend you don't know me."

Us: HA.


Becky: Oh godddd, he's going to sing again. SK, you need to Christian Bale this shit right off your resume.

Jess: Couldn't he have just, like, held up a boombox or something?

[And then the TiVo cut the damn thing off for no reason!]

Becky: Okay. Well... let's make up an ending.

Rachel: She slaps him and is like, "Don't use my high school dance as your forum."

Jess: And he goes back to Hollywood and cries. Then he makes out with his best friend. The end.


So in conclusion... That was a waste of our time. When we tune in to DCOMs, we expect crazy capers and wacky hijinks, not to be bored to death. We don't watch DCOMs for quality (it's an occasional bonus), we watch to be entertained. Starstruck wasn't outright terrible, but it committed the cardinal sin of boring the crap out of us.

Not to mention that it was a little bit infuriating that SK seems to have just decided not to act throughout it. He was never going to make a great fake pop star -- he's a decent actor, but not a singer or dancer -- but he's almost always charming. Here, it seems like he didn't even try. (Seriously, dude, you are too good for this, talent-wise, but you're not famous enough to just phone it in.)

On the other hand, both of the sisters were just dreadful. SK wasn't trying; they were, we assume, but they were just bad at their jobs.

Overall, the only thing about this that was actually at all enjoyable, or good? Brandon Smith. He's consistently amusing on Sonny With a Chance, and was both entertaining and actually decent at acting in his few scenes in here. Disney, get this kid his own DCOM where he doesn't have to be someone's sidekick, please.