Friends With Kids

I pretty much just write about TV shows, but I thought I’d change it up and write about a movie every once in a while.  A couple weeks ago I went to see Friends With Kids.  I already knew I would love it because I love the people in it.  No, it wasn’t as good as Bridesmaids, but then what is?  I don’t think it’s fair to compare the two, because they’re two completely different stories, even if half the actors are the same.  When the commercials are comparing them, they’re not saying it’s like Bridesmaids, they’re saying that the actors are also funny in this movie.

The concept is kind of hard to wrap your head around.  Two friends, best friends, decide to have a baby together, even though they plan to just remain friends and not be romantically involved at all, and just continue dating other people while being committed to raising a kid together.  I was curious to see how they came up with that idea.  Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt are the last two singles left in their group of friends.  The other two couples, Kristen Wiig and Jon Hamm, and Maya Rudolph and Chris O’Dowd, are married with kids.  The two singles see how having kids have affected their friends’ lives and that gets them thinking about their own.

Jennifer Westfeldt’s character brings up the point that she wants to have a kid and how it’s scary to think that after having the kid, it would be a person who she would love more than anything, including the person she’s chosen to spend the rest of her life with.  They discuss how it might be better to have a kid now, and then find love later.  And then they somehow decide the two of them should have and raise one together.  And so they do.

This seems like a convultued idea, but think about the number of women who want to have kids and opt for sperm banks, which is considered a perfectly acceptable thing to do.  I guess this way, at least she knows the father and he’s invested in helping raise the kid.  But obviously, we know that feelings and attractions will occur, as it is a romantic comedy after all.  Apparently I like romantic comedies and chick flicks?  I honestly don’t know when the hell that happened.  But to be fair, it’s the rauchy, funny ones that I like, not the sappy ones.  So it’s okay.

And as I said, I couldn’t not love this movie because I love the people in it.  I liked seeing Jon Hamm and Kristen Wiig in another dysfunctional relationship.  And Maya Rudolph and Chris O’Dowd were great.  It was kind of weird seeing Adam Scott play a womanizing jerk as opposed to a nerdy pushover like on Parks and Recreation, but I got used to it.  And I haven’t seen Jennifer Westfeldt in anything before, but I love her.  I also love her clothes.  I found myself noticing her fashion choices throughout the movie and loving them.  I especially loved her coats and there was this red one she wore that I really wish I had.

So yeah.  Great movie, and if you don’t like chick flicks, don’t call it a chick flick.  Because it has the type of humour that should give it a different category, a better one than that.  And while I still think the concept is convoluted, I like the way the story plays out.  But I would never in a million years want to have a kid with a friend.  Unless my friend was Adam Scott, Jon Hamm, or Chris O’Dowd.

Touch

Touch is the new television series starring Kiefer Sutherland that aired last Thursday.  I find there are a lot of complex one hour dramas to keep track of that all seem to be on Thursdays.  I’m sure you’ve seen several commercials for Touch by now.  I know I saw the same one over and over again which made me sick of it before it even began.  But I decided to watch it anyway.

The premise of Touch is that Kiefer Sutherland’s character, Martin Bohm, has trouble connecting with his 11-year old son Jake, played by David Mazouz.  Jake never speaks and doesn’t let anyone touch him.  He’s constantly preoccupied with writing down numbers and no one knows why.  But in the beginning of the show, Jake explains the the viewers about some ancient theory that we are all connected and there are certain connections between people who’s lives were meant to touch.  And apparently for some reason it’s his job to keep track of them all.  I think that would be an awesome role for an actor to play, just having to look upset and disturbed, and never having to memorize any lines.

Martin goes to see a man named Arthur Teller, played by Danny Glover, who tells him that his son can see all these connections and patterns in the world that the rest of us can’t, and that the numbers mean something, and it’s up to Martin to follow these connections and figure it all out.  Or something like that.  But how does he know that without having even met the kid?  He also says that his son sees so much beauty in the world, no wonder he doesn’t talk.  I don’t see the connection there.  Why would being overwhelmed with the world’s beauty make a person not talk ever?  And if he’s seeing all this beauty, then why does he look angry all the time?

Jake climbs the cell tower three times in a span of three weeks while he’s at school, causing a social worker, Clea Hopkins, played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw to have to intervene and take him in for assessments.  Martin tries to tell her that there are patterns in what Jake is writing down and showing them, but she refuses to believe there is any meaning behind them.  But then Jake arranges popcorn kernels in groups of numbers, which are the same as her mother’s phone number, and she receives a call from her right after.  It must be incredibly annoying for them that Jake can’t talk, and that they have to follow his indications and clues in order to figure out what the hell he’s trying to tell them.

There are also worldwide connections shown throughout the show, ones which don’t seem to have anything to do with Jake.  A man loses his cell phone, and it consequently ends up being passed around the world and connecting the people who come across it.  The man who loses it needs it back, as it has pictures of his daughter who died a year ago.  Because of the way the phone is passed around, he ends up seeing these pictures on a jumbo tron in Japan, because someone put a video of a girl singing, in hopes that the next person to find the phone would discover her.  Then, a girl in Japan made sure everything on the phone was put onto the jumbo tron because she wanted to start a fan club for the singer.

Meanwhile a boy in the middle east tries to steal an oven for his family who is in need, gets caught, and ends up with a bomb strapped to him, with the phone attached to it.  The original owner of the phone had made a request to get it back, and so the boy gets a call from the call centre on that phone.  Coincidentally, the woman at the call centre is the same woman who was recorded singing on the phone.  When she realizes he has a bomb strapped to him, she convinces him to take out the battery and not go through with it.  He says the only thing that would get him to stop would be an oven for his family.  Conveniently, the original owner of the phone is a restaurant supplies salesman, so the call centre woman is able to acquire an oven for the boy.  She also realizes the video of her singing has received many hits on youtube.

I don’t know why her friend couldn’t have just put the video on youtube to begin with, as opposed to sending it off on a phone.  And I also wonder why the cell phone owner’s only pictures of his daughter were on his cell phone.  Did he not own a camera?  And did he not ever upload the pictures to his computer?  And as for the boy in the middle east, the men he tried to steal from still know who and where he is, so wouldn’t he still be in trouble, even if he was able to get an oven for his family?  And what does any of this have to do with the mute boy writing down numbers?

My mom mentioned they didn’t really need the boy, they could have just called the series “Phone” and focused on how it was randomly passed around and connecting people.  The part that does have to do with the kid, is that he is preoccupied with the numbers 318, and tries to indicate to his dad that there’s something he needs to do.  What Martin ends up doing, is going to the terminal at 3:18, and trying to use the payphone.  He gets in a fight with the guy at the payphone, causing him to miss his train.  Later on the news, we find out this same man was able to save a bus full of children, something he wouldn’t have been able to do if he hadn’t missed his train.

Coincidentally, this man had been on the phone leaving a message for Martin at the time, informing him that he had been a fireman who had tried to save his wife when she was killed at the world trade centre on 9/11, but had left her not knowing whether or not she was really dead.  He had played lottery numbers significant to that date ever since, and had just won.  I think they would have called this show “Numbers“, if the title hasn’t already been used previously.

My mom remarked that this show may even be more confusing than Awake, if that’s possible.  And I remarked how we’re only dealing with one reality here.  I don’t know, I suppose the connections and everything are interesting.  But do I really care that much?  I guess the show will progress with the kid trying to predict other various things and getting his dad to do certain things in order to make connections.  It would be funny if he just showed him random numbers that didn’t mean anything for fun.  But I guess he takes his job seriously.  But I still don’t get why it’s up to him and why this prevents him from talking.

GCB

GCB is a new series that aired last night on ABC.  I had seen a bunch of commercials for it and thought what the hell is GCB?  I had to look it up to find out that it stands for “Good Christian Bitches“.  And then they changed it to “Good Christian Belles“.  And then they just decided to abbreviate it to save the trouble.  Good Christian Belles would have been an awful title.  The b obviously stands for bitches.

It’s a classic story of “I used to be a mean girl in high school but now I’m a nice person but things aren’t going so well in my life so I have to move back home where the girls I was a bitch to in high school are now major bitches themselves and won’t let me live it down”.  Or you know, something along those lines.

When I saw the show starred Leslie Bibb, I thought “She was in some TV show that was popular when I was a kid”.  But I couldn’t remember what it was.  And then I realized the show itself was called Popular.  I never watched it though, so that’s why I had such a hard time remembering.  In GCB, Leslie Bibb plays Amanda Vaughn, who used to be popular in high school.  Her husband has just died and it’s been revealed that he was involved in a scandal and had stolen money from investors.  He also died in a car crash while another woman was giving him head.

And so Amanda has no choice but to take her two children and reluctantly move back home with her mother in Dallas.  The community is small, and so everyone seems to know each other, and the women she went to high school with gossip and plot upon hearing of her return.  And their husbands are all too eager to greet her when they see her.  And her mother makes her go to church with her.  Because they are good Christian bitches, after all.

The new queen bitch in town since Amanda’s departure is Carlene Cockburn, played by Kritstin Chenoweth.  When I saw she was on the show I thought “Oh, look, she’s getting more work after Glee, but still playing a really annoying character”.  Carlene is dead set on making Amanda’s stay in town miserable enough to get her to leave.  Amanda used to be cruel to her in high school about her looks, but Carlene has since had a lot of plastic surgery and refuses to accept that Amanda is now a better person.  She is also religious and self righteous, while being very judgemental.  The other women sort of just go along with her, although one of them may be actually starting to accept that Amanda has changed.

I found it a bit difficult to keep track of all the people in town, particularly the husbands.  We learn that one of the husbands says he’s in love with Amanda, lures her into his car dealership and kisses her, where she refuses his advances.  Another husband is secretly gay and in love with the other guy who works on his ranch.  And then there’s Carlene’s husband who seems alright and just loves sex.  And then I think there’s another husband of someone who’s just there but I’m not sure.

Amanda needs to get a job but can’t find anything, so becomes a waitress at a bar, which the other women look down on her for and say that it goes against their moral standard, based on the outfit that she wears there.  But Amanda doesn’t let their judgement stop her from trying to make the best of her new life and even comes to make peace a bit with her mother who’s outlook on life she doesn’t agree with.

This show wasn’t as bad as I expected.  I kind of liked it.  I heard it was supposed to be like the new Desperate Housewives.  Except I never watched Desperate Housewives, so I wouldn’t know.  I just know there’s going to be a whole lot of drama in it.  I think I’ll watch it again next week and see how it develops.  Not sure yet if I’ll follow it completely.  Also I don’t know if I should feel sorry for Amanda and want things to work out for her, or if I should think “While that’s what you get for being a bitch in high school”.  But Carlene is so annoying and manipulative, I think I’ll have to root for Amanda.

Pan Am

I really like Pan Am.  There aren’t a lot of one hour shows that I have the patience to sit through and follow regularly.  PVR helped, since I often didn’t feel like watching it late on Sunday night.  But I was able to keep up with all the episodes.  Apparently I enjoy period dramas.  Who knew?

Pan Am focuses on the lives of 4 stewardesses and 2 pilots who worked for the Pan American World Airways in the early 1960s.  Christina Ricci plays Maggie Ryan, the purser for Pan Am.  When I first watched this, I thought what the hell is a purser?  I believe it basically refers to the head flight attendant who oversees the rest of the crew.  I like how her character stands up for herself and is very outspoken and opinionated.  She demonstrates this when she talks back to the woman doing the weigh-ins, and stabs a passenger with a fork for coming onto her.

Karine Vanasse plays Colette Valois, a French stewardess.  She is always very pleasant, patient, and understanding.  She develops a relationship with pilot Dean Lowrey, played by Mike Vogel.  Their relationship undergoes many complications throughout the episodes.

Kelli Garner plays Kate Cameron, who gets recruited by the CIA, as being a Pan Am Stewardess seems to make for a good cover.  I remember my mom mentioning that it seems like throwing in the espionage into the story was sort of implying that being a flight attendant wasn’t interesting enough in itself.  I thought that Kate’s story was still good and not too overdone as it could have been.

Margot Robbie plays Kate’s younger sister who is new to the airline business.  She has just left her fiance, after feeling too much pressure from her family to go through with the wedding.  Her following in her sister’s footsteps and becoming a stewardess allows her to experience life on her own and gain a sense of independence.  Sexual tension develops between her and First Officer, Ted Vanderway, played by Michael Mosley.

I think I watched all of the episodes.  I was annoyed that episode 13 was out of order.  When I started watching it, I got very confused and then though that it must be a rerun of an episode I had missed.  Because it didn’t make sense otherwise.  They could have easily played it in the proper sequence so as not to confuse people.  Laura had already taken nude pictures and Ginny was already out of Dean’s life, as Nico was out of Kate’s life.  Why bring all that back up when the series was ending?

I’m upset that it has been cancelled.  I liked it as a whole, but was disappointed with the finale.  I mean it sort of tied up a few things but not really.  I know they couldn’t just make everything end perfectly, but still, I’m left wondering what happens.  Does Colette find her brother, and then get back together with Dean as he helps her in the process?  Do things go back to normal when he gets his job back in six months?  Does Maggie stop with the smuggling and eventually pursue something in politics?  Does Kate leave Pan Am to be a full time agent?  And most importantly, does Laura become Ted’s mistress?  That’s not what either of them wanted.  Maybe Amanda isn’t really pregnant or has a miscarriage?  But that would just be too convenient.

In any case, I guess it’s not coming back, from what I’ve heard?  I guess it was good while it lasted.  Some of the episodes along the way did have a few dull parts and plot lines, but overall I think it was a good show.  And it did momentarily almost make me wish I’d pursued one of my dreams of being a flight attendant.

Awake

No, I’m not talking about the movie starring Hayden Christensen and Jessica Alba (which I haven’t seen).  I’m talking about the new TV series that aired this week starring Jason Isaacs.  This show starts off with a car crash.  What a great way to start off a new series, right?

The premise of Awake is that detective Michael Britten deals with two alternate realities after the car crash.  In one, his son is dead.  In the other, his wife is dead.  The catch, he doesn’t know which one is real and which one is a dream.  Every time he falls asleep, he wakes up in the other reality, and each one feels equally real to him.

Upon hearing this premise, I laughed and thought really?  And I thought of the movie Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow.  Except in that movie, each parallel reality is based on whether or not she gets on the train.  In Awake, there is nothing different that he does.  And instead of just being alternate realities that could have happened, he is actually experiencing both of them.

This show has the potential to be very confusing.  He is a cop, and in each reality, is working on a different case.  It’s going to be difficult to keep track of which case is in which reality.  There are a few differences to help us differentiate.  In one reality, Efrem Vega, played by Wilmer Valderrama (yes, he’s getting work, doesn’t this make you excited?), has been promoted to be Michael’s partner.  In the other, he is just a detective.  I’ve already forgotten which reality is which.

Also in each reality, he has a different therapist.  This makes sense, because if he were to have the same therapist in each reality, this would get confusing and annoying for him.  He would probably be like “I already told you that!” and get frustrated having to repeat himself twice to the same person.  At least with things different in each reality, there’s less of a deja vu feeling for him.  Each therapist assures him that this is reality and that the other one is a dream.  In order to help himself remember, he wears a different coloured rubber band on his wrist in each reality, a red one for when his wife is alive, and a green one for when is son is alive.

One therapist remarks that this “dream” he has is a fascinating coping mechanism in order to deal with his son’s death, and allow him to live as though he is still alive.  But really, it’s not a great coping mechanism.  Because in the other reality, his wife is dead.  He just can’t win.  Except this way of living would allow him to cheat on his wife if he wanted to, but not really.  Because he can do it in the reality where she’s dead and it wouldn’t count.  I only say this because there seems to be a potential love interest for him in the reality in which his wife is dead.

This is all rather confusing and it’s going to be really hard to keep track of everything.  It’s hard enough to keep track of what’s happening in one case in these shows, let alone two cases that are occurring simultaneously.  Something from one reality helped him think of something that pertained to the case in the other reality.  In this first episode, he successfully solves both cases.  There’s not really any indication yet that his life is better or worse in either of them.

At one point, he wakes up and is not wearing any rubber band on his wrist.  This causes him to freak out and yell his wife’s name, call his wife, then yell his son’s name.  And then he gets so crazy and desperate that his takes a knife and cuts his own hand.  At which point his wife walks in and wonders what the hell he’s doing.  He then notices the red rubber band on the bed, that must have fallen off his wrist.  At least now he can differentiate between the two in that his hand is injured in one and not in the other.  I think he should get a tattoo in one reality, that way he wouldn’t have to worry about losing it like with the rubber bands.

So which reality is real?  Is his wife dead?  Or is his son dead?  Is one reality just a dream?  Maybe it’s all a dream?  Maybe there’s a third reality in which both of them are dead.  Or maybe it turns out he’s really dead and they’re both alive?  And they’re both having dreams that he’s still alive?  The possibilities are endless.  I kind of just really want to know how it’s going to end.  He tells his therapist that he’s not willing to make progress and face just one reality, and would rather be able to spend time with both his wife and his son, even if that means a risk to his own sanity.  This should be interesting and I’d like to see how it develops, but I know I’m going to get confused along the way.

The Middle

I didn’t really start watching this show until last year.  I’ve watched every episode this season.  I remember when I first saw commercials for it, it didn’t really look like something I’d want to watch.  It basically looked like they’d married off Debra from Everybody Loves Raymond with the Janitor from Scrubs and then given them three weird kids.

Taking an actor from a successful sitcom that is no longer on who played a well known character on said sitcom, and pairing them with another actor who also played a well known character on different successful sitcom often doesn’t work out so well.  Patricia Heaton had already previously tried it.  Does anyone remember the show Back to You that she did with Kelsey Grammer?  No?  Good, it wasn’t worth remembering.

But this time it worked.  Because The Middle has a great concept which is simple and well written.  When I watch it I’m able to disassociate my automatic connections to Everybody Loves Raymond and Scrubs, both of which I used to watch.  I liked Patricia Heaton and Neil Flynn both in their previous sitcom roles as well their current roles now.  In one episode, they showed a flashback to their characters Frankie and Mike Heck, going camping for their honeymoon.  Their trip is interrupted by Mike’s old annoying friend, played by Ray Romano.  At one point he asks Frankie if they’ve met before and she says “no, I think I’d remember meeting you”, which I thought was hilarious.

The show consists of Frankie and Mike trying to survive raising their three kids, Axl, Sue, and Brick, who all struggle through their own problems as well.  Axl, played by Charlie McDermott, is your typical lazy slob of a teenager.  He excels in sports but struggles with school and thinks homework is a waste of time.  He’s also full of himself and thinks he’s awesome.  His sister Sue, played by Eden Cher, is sort of the opposite, and is basically the epitome of the super awkward and neurotic teenage girl.  Despite being a total misfit, she’s optimistic and tries out for all the school activities, and more often than not fails at them.  The youngest, Brick, played by Atticus Shaffer, is a quiet kid who always has his nose in a book.  He might go unnoticed if he wasn’t so weird.  He’s pretty smart for a nine-year-old, but has a bit of social awkwardness as well.

Frankie is often saying how tired she is from trying to stay on top of the kids all the time.  In one episode, she describes their parenting style as relaxed.  In the last episode, the kids complained that she’s too much of nag and that Mike just throws out crazy punishments for them when he gets too annoyed to deal with them.  They all struggle together as a bit of dysfunctional family.  I think the reason the show is a success is because they’re a family you can sort of relate to.  Kids go through awkward phases, and think their parents are unreasonable, and parents want to make sure their kids are alright and wish they would get their act together.  And when things don’t go as we’d like, we can turn to shows like this and see characters who may be slightly more dysfunctional than we are.

The Middle

Bomb Girls

I was confused last week when I saw a commercial for the season finale of Bomb Girls.  Season finale?  Didn’t it just start?  And then I realized it was a six part mini series.  I had pvred a few episodes, but never got around to watching them.  And when I had decided to watch, I realized that I had somehow neglected to pvr the pilot episode.  No point in watching a 6 part mini series out of order.  But as luck would have it, I found the episodes on the Global TV app on my iPad.  And I watched all 6 of them.

Bomb Girls focuses on the lives of women working in a munitions factory making bombs during World War II.  From that description, it may sound like a rather boring drama.  But it’s not.  It’s actually entertaining.  The series takes a look at the personal lives and problems that each of the women face as they do their part in the war effort.

Jodi Balfour plays Gladys Witham, a rich girl who is engaged to be married and whose family is adamant on maintaining their reputation and status in society.  She goes to work in the office of the factory doing paperwork, but wanting to do more, gets herself reassigning to the floor with the rest of the girls.  She wants to be seen as one of them, and wants to do her equal part to help.  In doing so she must lie to her controlling parents who would never allow her such a menial job.

Gladys Witham

Charlotte Hegele plays Kate Andrews who is also new at the factory, having run away and assumed a new identity to escape from her abusive father who is a preacher.  She is befriended by Betty McRae, played by Ali Liebert, the hardest worker in the factory, who helps her and looks out for her.

Kate Andrews & Betty McRae

Meg Tilly plays Lorna Corbett who is the shift matron at the munitions factory who struggles with her personal life.  Her two sons are in the war, and her husband is a crippled war veteran who feels as though his efforts were all in vain.  She struggles with her mistrust of certain factory workers as well as trying to stand up for those who she cares about.

Lorna Corbett

After watching the first episode, I was intrigued and also angry.  I was angry and Gladys’ father for being so controlling and unreasonable, and angry with her fiance for being such an ass, and angry with her mother for only caring about social status and nothing more.  I was angry at the munitions factory boss for being so arrogant and not valuing the girls’ efforts.  I was angry at Kate’s awful abusive preacher father for what he put her through.  I was angry at what happened to Vera after an accident at the factory.  And I wanted to continue watching to see if anything would happen to make my anger subside.

As I watched the next few, complications and relationships between the characters furthered as secrets, passions, and lies were concealed and revealed.  The relationship between Gladys and James does not start out honest, as they both have things which they keep from each other which may threaten their lives together if discovered.  Kate remains fearful of her father finding her, and Betty struggles with her feelings of affection.  Lorna is suspicious of an Italian worker in the factory who she doesn’t think should be there, and then deals with the passion that develops that she is not getting from her husband.

In the commercial for the season finale, they said something like “prepare to be shocked”, as they often do when leading up to the end of a season.  The final episode did have a few surprises and things that I wasn’t expecting to happen.  I thought it was really well done.  I suppose it made sense to make this a mini series, just to try it out.  But 6 episodes is not enough to resolve issues that have only just begun, and it has been renewed for a second season.  I love it when Canadian shows do well.  I look forward to watching this and I’m glad the series succeeded and didn’t bomb.

Bomb Girls