Last night I dreamed that the Beatles reunited. John was brought back to life but George wasn’t. Ringo wasn’t there either for some reason. So it was John and Paul and two other English dudes. Paul gave me VIP tickets so I got to pal around with them backstage before the show. I had so much fun I forgot to get an autograph or picture to post on Facebook to make everyone jealous.
Intense action and engaging acting kept me riveted. Barkhad Abdi’s portrayal put a face on Somali piracy and showed humanity. Tom Hanks did a great job as usual. The hand-held camera work was distracting at first but I got used to it. This is a good movie and you could use it trick a high school social studies class into learning.
The most terrifying movie in theaters. See it in 3D. Bullock and Clooney nail it.
Not bad, but I expected more out of the final installment of the Cornetto Trilogy. Kind of a disappointment after Shaun and Fuzz. Watch it if you are a fan of these guys but don’t expect wall-to-wall laughs.
Seriously hilarious. Denzel Washington is great and Mark Wahlberg kills it with one of his funniest roles yet. Action-packed and fun.
Thanks, Steve. Thanks to MCA-I Madison for throwing this party and thanks to ProVideo for hosting it. Steve Donovan, thanks for listening to my podcast and asking me to come to this event.
When Steve asked me to speak at this event, I immediately said yes. I told him that I always like talking about Breaking Bad. This is hands down my favorite show and I frequently and loudly proclaim that it is the best show on television. But here’s the thing: no matter how much I enjoy Breaking Bad, no matter how many discussions I have with friends, no matter how many cast interviews we’ve been lucky enough to conduct for the podcast, there are piles of people who have better, smarter, and funnier things to say about it. What I’m saying is, while I’m the one up here talking about it, I know that each of you has loads of things to say as well and I’d be happy to have a discussion after this.
I was recently eating lunch at work in a conference room and one of my coworkers asked the group, “have any of you seen Breaking Bad? I heard it’s a show about meth.” Obviously I immediately left the room and finished my lunch at my desk. The point is: while I like talking about Breaking Bad, there is one problem that I have with it. The problem is that there still exist people who don’t watch this show even though they know it exists. These people are clearly insane and probably have many other things wrong with them. These people should be pitied. We should feel bad for them.
Alright, so Breaking Bad is a great show. We all know this. But what makes the show so great?
Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan told us that when he created this show his goal was to take a character and make him Break Bad. He wanted to show Mr. Chips transform into Scarface. I think he could’ve come up with a better reference to use than Mr. Chips, like maybe a character I wouldn’t have to google, but we got the point. We were told to expect to see a person transforming from Mr. Nice Guy to King Douche. So I think that’s at least part of what the show’s about and that’s a big part of what makes the show so great.
I’ll say more about Walter White’s transformation but I want to talk about some of the other characters first.
Walt Junior reminds us of our own teenage years. In early seasons he rejects his name and adopts the nickname “Flynn.” By doing so, he shows his angst and his struggle with identity. His hero is his uncle. His parents are embarrassing. We’ve all been there. But if our teenage years were rocky, his are a roller coaster. It’s important to remember that over the past four and a half seasons, only one year has passed and he has gone through the challenges of learning of his dad’s cancer to his parents splitting up and getting back together to getting his driver’s license and going through two cars to becoming a big brother. Oh yeah, and did I mention he also has to deal with his disability on top of all this? This kid is a trooper. Fun fact: Vince Gilligan told us that he had a friend in college with cerebral palsy and the character of Walt Junior is kind of an homage to him. R.J. Mitte has a mild case of cerebral palsy in real life but he makes the symptoms more severe for this role.
When we are introduced to Skyler White, we meet a housewife who goes from clueless to intentionally obtuse to mob wife. A woman who at one point had such a strong reaction to her husband’s marijuana use now cooks the books for the family meth business and hires goons to rough up her boss when he attempts blackmail.
Marie Schrader is a complex character who hides behind the mask of a happy housewife who turns to kleptomania in an effort to regain the control she feels she loses.
Saul Goodman goes from being a clown to a tragic… clown. I don’t know. Just love that guy and I look forward to the spinoff.
Hank Schrader. We are introduced to Walter White’s buffoon of a brother-in-law in the first episode. When the news reports a big DEA bust of a meth lab, Hank Schrader hijacks Walter’s birthday party to grandstand. Hank is a man’s man who likes his cars big, his beer cold, and his bigotry subtle. We see what happens when we take a macho, “men don’t cry and pain don’t hurt,” kind of guy and knock the legs out from under him. We watch him be vulnerable and we feel his embarrassment at appearing weak. Our perception of Hank gradually evolves over the course of the show. We learn that this guy is layered. He’s smart – possibly one of the smartest people on the show. He’s earned his position with the DEA. Not such a buffoon after all.
Jesse Pinkman. I don’t know what to say about this guy. This is the character who has our sympathy. I don’t know how or why he got into drugs in the first place but the story I’ve invented is that he did it to rebel when his overachieving younger brother started getting the limelight from his parents. Aaron Paul acts the shit out of this role and there is way too much going on with this character. Jesse’s story is tragic and heartbreaking.
Let’s talk about Walter White.
I think the nature of Walter White’s transformation is commonly misunderstood. Walter White was never a nice guy. Go back and rewatch the early seasons. He tells himself that this is all about providing for his family. We know this is bullshit. If Walter White’s primary focus was on financial security, he’d swallow his pride and take the charity from his former business partners at Gray Matter. No. This isn’t about doing right by his family; it is about his own pride. A failed chemist and entrepreneur turned schoolteacher, Walter White is a man whose life has clearly not gone the way he’s intended. Breaking Bad begins with a loser with a chip on his shoulder and a low-paying job. A boring person with a boring name. He has a bland wardrobe, an ugly car, and the most impotent mustache I’ve ever seen in my life. Right? Walter White was able to take the mustache, a quintessential symbol of male virility, and make it look wussy. Bryan Cranston told us that he did this on purpose by showing up with a mustache that was trimmed to the lowest setting possible while still technically being a mustache. But despite his outward appearance, Walter White is a prideful man who feels like the world owes him something.
I submit that Walter White’s character never changed but his confidence did. He has become on the outside what he always was inside. It was never about money for him. It’s about power. Lines that have now become iconic show this attitude and his motivations. “I’m not in the meth business. I’m in the empire business.” “I am the danger.” “I am the one who knocks.” “Say my name.” And so on.
Ok, so Walter White is a piece of shit. I think we can all agree on this. But we find ourselves rooting for him.
The use of anti-hero is not unique to this show. There are other shows where the protagonist is a bad person that we like anyway. Shows like Dexter, The Sopranos, or even House are wildly popular. One of the latest iterations of this trope is the show Banshee on Cinemax.
The difference between these shows and Breaking Bad is that Walter White is so evil that we are almost ashamed of ourselves for rooting for him. I think he deserves to die. Or better yet – live in suffering. But when I saw Hank put two and two together while pooping, my heart sank a bit. I guess I still like Walter White at least a little.
In a speech he gave a couple weeks ago, John Landgraf, the network executive of FX said, “I can’t imagine a protagonist darker than Walter White. I think that’s the end of the road for out-darking each other.”
That’s how bad Walter White is. The CEO of a competing network has heralded the end of the “nuclear arms race of darkness.”
Walter White is the anti-anti-hero and the idea of a good bad guy or a bad good guy has been destroyed. This show has, in a very real way, Broken Bad.
Paul Feig, creator of the cult TV classic Freaks and Geeks, brings you the funniest movie that you’ve already seen. Buddy cop movie, mismatched personalities, fish out of water, boss breathing down your neck, “you’re off the case,” drunken montage where the two disparate personalities realize they have more in common than they thought, etc. etc. etc. But it’s really funny despite being dumb. Lots of jokes. Sandra Bullock keeps up with Melissa McCarthy. Lots and lots of jokes. And I think this movie is self-aware. It knows that it is the same movie you’ve seen before.
It’s interesting how studios decide to market movies. This is underlyingly a PG-13 movie with the F word added a bunch to bump it up to a solid R rating. This kind of move would’ve hurt teen movies like Pitch Perfect, Harry Potter, and Twilight but it might help The Heat. Like, it kind of tells people that this is a movie for adults even though violence is minimal and sex is non-present. I don’t know. But I’m sure this was done on purpose.
Oh, and Bullock is hotter than ever. Hard to believe she turns 49 in a few weeks.
The best yet from writing team Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. This movie is the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long, long time. This movie will be appreciated by comedy nerds and members of a broader audience alike. Hilarious jokes, fantastic special effects, sweeping epic apocalyptic imagery, and a great story that addresses the topics of celebrity, self-importance, selfishness, sacrifice, and friendship. Watch this movie today.
The third and least funny of this trilogy, this installment deviated from the “let’s piece together what we did last night” formula. In my opinion, this hurt the movie. As implausible as this formula was, it was an effective device to create two successfully funny comedy capers. This movie clearly had a big budget but not enough of it went to staffing the writers’ room. The laughs were there but they were infrequent.
I knew it was going to be ridiculously over the top. I knew it was going to be haphazardly slapped together. I knew it was going to be brim-filled with cheesy one liners. What I didn’t know was that it was going to be tremendously sentimental. I can look past the terrible editing and the physics defying stunts because I was a huge fan of the original when it first came out and this movie is rambunctiously nostalgic. Removing that from it though, the movie could have been about 30 minutes shorter. This movie has a third act, then a second third act that is solely self-satisfying. ALSO, the post credit scene will make your mind implode! I don’t know if it’s a harbinger for something good, bad, or equally mediocre but I’m definitely going to see the next installment.
Guest Reviewer: Trent Sellers