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October 28, 2002 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2002-10-28

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October 28, 2002

ARb I LiWiu n JBaU I


courtesyyof Pramontuu
With golfwear and sunglasses, Knoxville starts another fashion trend.
jackass' sticks to
stupid fun of show

Courtesy of Columbia and New Line
Emily Watson asks Adam Sandler where he pulled his performance from.

By Jeff Dickerson
Daily Arts Editor
When director Paul Thomas Anderson said he
wanted to make a 90-minute Adam Sandler movie
everyone dismissed the comment as a joke. The
announcement came shortly after the theatrical
release of "Magnolia," his three-hour L.A. opera
that impressed critics with its sprawling, inter-
twining personalities, but left the masses scratch-
ing their heads at the sight of raining frogs. Little
did people realize that Anderson
was, in fact, serious about working 6
with Sandler. The result is "Punch-
Drunk Love," an intoxicating roman- **
tic comedy that owes its greatness to
a career-redefining performance by PUNCH
Sandler. Yes, that Adam Sandler. L
"Punch-Drunk Love" introduces us
to Barry Egan (Sandler), a shy, At Sho'
despondent self-employed business- Qua
man who specializes in the manufac- Columbia
turing and distribution of novelty
plungers. As the movie begins, Barry,
wearing a loud blue suit that seems to be his pedes-
trian superhero costume, witnesses a jarring car
crash that is followed immediately by the peculiar
appearance of a harmonium that sits ominously on
the barren sidewalk outside of his workplace.
Director Anderson carefully composes static shots
of Barry with the harmonium, making the usual
hectic streets of Los Angeles look like a ghost town.
After brief consideration, Barry takes the broken
instrument into his office where it becomes a sort
of strange companion and object of comfort.
Even more interesting to Barry is the appear-
ance of Lena (Emily Watson, "Breaking the
Waves"), a friend and co-worker of one of Barry's

seven sisters. The woman politely asks him if it's
all right to park her car outside of his building,
but it's clear she is there for more than a parking
spot. From the onset of their relationship, it
becomes vividly apparent that "Punch-Drunk
Love" is not a typical romantic comedy in any
sense. Here the characters are not so cut and dry,
but complex personalities with realistic problems.
Barry and Lena are as far from normal as can be,
and Sandler and Watson illustrate that beautifully
with their impeccable acting.

wcase and
lity 16
/ New Line

The other women in Barry's life
are not so reassuring; they are the
source of his problems. His sisters,
perhaps the cruelest siblings this side
of "Cinderella," relentlessly pester
Barry about women and his child-
hood, specifically how they would
refer to him as "gay boy." Sandler
subtlety expresses his character's
overwhelming lack of confidence
and general unhappiness with great
precision, mimicking the small phys-
ical nuances in life that are left out

to carry out the scene with the fervor of a great
stage actor.
From there on out, Barry winds up in the middle
of a phoney phone sex scam, led by a sleezy mat-
tress man (Philip Seymour Hoffman, "Almost
Famous"), w'ho threatens him with his "brothers,"
four blonde gentleman who look like those kids in
the 7th grade who smoked behind the school during
lunch hour. At this juncture in the film the sound-
track becomes more pronounced than ever, most
notably when Anderson cleverly uses the song "He
needs me" (from the Robert Altman film "Popeye")
as Barry flees from the derelict thugs. The musical
soundscapes of "Punch-Drunk Love" are highlight-
ed by Jon Brion's score, which perfectly coalesces
with the Anderson's virtuoso imagery.
Who would have guessed the best acting per-
formance of the year would have come from the
same man who gave us the awful "Little Nicky"
and the insulting remake "Mr. Deeds?" Sandler
carries the weight of the film on unassuming
shoulders, a role that was written specifically for
him. The supporting cast is just as strong, with the
always reliable Luiz Guzman and Hoffman giving
it their usual best, but it is Sandler who essentially
makes what initially seemed to be a joke into
something whimsical.
Paul Thomas Anderson has crafted an entirely
original film that feels genuine and not calculat-
ed. His characters lack the superficiality of most
films and offer viewers something more tangible.
Here is a romantic comedy that doesn't comply
with the rules of the genre, showing a soft, dark
underbelly of an otherwise over-sweetened style
of Hollywood film. Despite its quirks, "Punch-
Drunk Love" has the feel of a classic Hollywood
love story. The experience is nothing short of

By Todd Weiser
Daily Film Editor
The typical adjective affixed to
anything associated with MTV's
"Jackass" is stupid and while "Jack-
ass: The Movie" does not make any
attempts to change this less than intel-
ligent connotation, the film does
make one very smart move, avoiding
the pressure to affix a plot to their
grotesque'and dangerous stunts. The
lack of a story leaves "Jackass" in its
simple television format, making the
"The Movie" part of its title only true
in the same sense as "South Park: The
Movie" was a movie, too; "Jackass:
The Movie" is just like its television
counterpart, but this time it's bigger,
longer and uncut.
Unlike its Comedy Central com-
parison, "Jackass: The Movie" never
takes full advantage of its new, less
restricted format. Where "South
Park" pushed the boundaries of the
MPAA, offering the avid fan some-
thing they could never get on the
small screen, "Jackass" includes a lit-
tle superfluous nudity and swearing
that the MTV viewer has never seen
before but never really needs to.
Still, unlike "Crocodile Hunter:
Collision Course"
which threw Animal
Planet star Steve Irwin
into an absurd plot
involving American JAC
special agents and for- T
got the. strength of the THE
show was just Irwin At Sho'
creeping dangerously Qua
and hilariously nearby
wide-jawed reptiles, Para
"Jackass: The Movie"

of most Hollywood productions.
In a moment of curiosity and loneliness, and
one of the more powerful scenes in the film,
Barry calls up a phone sex hotline. He speaks
with the operator, questioning her about every lit-
tle procedure and how the service works. In the
midst of their discussion, he gives her his credit
card number, phone number and social security
number, all for the sake of just needing someone
to talk to. Anderson rarely breaks from the action,
preferring to use long takes to tell his oddball love
story. His camera moves gracefully in true Altman
style, never leaving his protagonist. It is a true
testament to Sandler's performance, as he is able

seen such antics performed countless
times on-screen, sees it coming miles
away. "Jackass" needs only laughs as
the inspiration and causation for its
extreme stunts, and the "Jackass"
crew must spend hours sitting around
bars brainstorming ways to embarrass
each other in the most creative ways.
Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera,
Steve-O, Jason "Wee-Man" Acuna
and the rest of the gang conquer (or at
least attempt to) on-screen many of
life's fears that the average viewer
may dream about but never thinks
possible. "Jackass" proves that life
really can be lived to the fullest, you
just may end up with a toy car in your
ass, a concussion or paper cuts on
your tongue and the webbings of your
feet (a sequence that forced this view-
er to squeal in his seat as the images
of Knoxville and others in pain was
as real as that fantasy better ever get
for most people, specifically myself).
Besides over-the-top opening and
closing sequences featuring a giant
shopping cart and huge explosions
that ricochet off of the "Jackass" fami-
ly, the film boasts very low production
values. Shot on grainy video, in an
effort to keep up with all the fast
paced fun and danger of the activities,
"Jackass" never looks
better than your family's
home videos. The men
behind "Jackass" are
ASS: just like a lot of young
MOS: people everywhere with
[OVIE video cameras and
cand nothing to do. A bunch
yase of friends get together,
do stupid things and
ount then laugh as they
watch it again later.
The only difference here is that "Jack-
ass" gets broadcast to millions of peo-
ple through their televisions and now
projected in theaters everywhere.
But in the end, one thing sepa-
rates "Jackass: The Movie" from
the vast majority of motion pictures.
Would you ever pay to see those
home videos your friends make?
The answer is an unequivocal no.
Their stupid behavior can be enjoy-
able, and a good piece of entertain-
ment when drinking, but choosing
the free television alternative over
the prices at a local multiplex
should be a quick decision.
While vicariously taking pleas-
ure in the insane lengths to which
the "Jackass" community will go to
test the limits of their pain and
other people's pleasure is surely a
pleasant experience, it's better
served for the couch than the stadi-
um seating recliner.


Kelley delivers new, fresh 'Girls' to FOX

By Katie Marie Gates
Daily Arts Writer

GYN becat

Lynn - "You SUCK, you should brings com
just quit now!" she looks at herself mined to su
in the mirror with disgust while Her boss,
practicing interrogations for tomor- Markinson
rows witness. It is her first trial ... suggestion,
and she is terrified. ones, leavi
Jeannie - "It's a school night." disgusted.
She smiles awkwardly at her boss's After fev
dinner invitation, feeling inadequate brief, Sarah
and pressured in the male-dominated Praying M
world of litigation. He is very inter- female part
ested in her success, but for all the who is "dis
wrong reasons.
Sarah - "You're a S
dyke!" she explodes at
her most hated cowork-
er as the office goes
silent. After agreeing to GIRLS CLUB
weekend anger man- Mondays at 9 p.m.
agement seminars to FOX
save her job, she heads
back to do research
wondering if she'll ever see the believes wa
inside of a courtroom. Long-tim
Welcome to "Girls Club," execu- be disappo
tive producer David E. Kelley's drama, off
("Ally McBeal," "The Practice") and less lau
fresh look into the lives of three the element
young San Francisco lawyers on in its own
FOX. Lynn (Gretchen Mol, "Donnie is inviting
Brasco"), Jeannie (Kathleen Robert-
son, "Beverly Hills 90210") and
Sarah (Chyler Leigh, "That '80s
Show") friends since law school,
now work for the same firm where
stress is prevalent and mistakes are
inevitable. Surrounded by bosses
that disrespect them and bombarded
by clients ranging from the over-
whelming to the outrageous (in true
David E. Kelley form) their bond of
friendship is the only thing that
keeps them sane.
Attempting to fill the big shoes
left by "Ally McBeal" on Mondays at

for a lady suing her OB-
se he fainted duringher
n. A hilarious flashback
ic relief. Jeannie is deter-
ucceed, but at what cost?
Spencer Lewis (Brian
, "Dark Angel") has a
, actually several sexual
ng Jeannie trapped and
erishly studying to write a
h is reprimanded by "The
antis" (the firm's only
ner played by Lisa Barns)
appointed" in her writing
and loses the case.
Overwhelmed with
frustration, she blows
up in a homophobic
manner. Sarah dreams
of life in the courtroom
but fears the partners,
especially Nicholas
Hahn (Giancarlo Espos-
ito, "Ali") who she
nt them to fail.
ne "McBeal" fans might
inted in this levelheaded
fering more seriousness
ghs. But "Girls Club" has
ts needed to become great
way. The cinematography
and interesting, with slow

sticks to its guns, offering the viewer
a highly destructive rental car colli-
sion course, the aptly titled yellow
snow cone sequence involving both
its creation and consumption, croco-
dile pond tight-rope walking and lots
of more stupid human tricks that are
equal parts bravery, stupidity and
most importantly, boredom.
In the avoidance of a plot, "Jack-
ass: The Movie" aims for nothing
more than entertainment and brain-
less hilarity. In this goal, it succeeds;
while the Tom Greens and Jason Lees
of the world continue making films
with these simple objectives as well
but fail miserably, "Jackass" simpli-
fies its content to the raw core of the
material that actually makes a Tom
Green movie funny, the failed stunt.
Films like "Stealing Harvard" dream
up fantastical plots to produce rea-
sons to have dogs biting the genitalia
of its stars, and the viewer, who has

Courtesy of FOX

Avril Lavigne they are not.

motion and fast frame segments
underplayed by upbeat music or sus-
penseful silence. Court scenes are as
portrayed by TV before but more
nerve-racking as we watch these
novices learn the ropes.
Though it takes a little imagination
on the audience's part to accept that
all three best friends happen to have
jobs in the same firm, their com-
radery is charming. The script pro-

vides an ideal blend of comedy and
drama showing the long road to suc-
cess is difficult and full of self-
doubt. The three leading ladies are
professional, beautiful and convinc-
ing, causing the audience to await the
rest of their lives with them. Life
after law school isn't easy for this
"girls club" of 27-year-olds, but they
have the guts, confidence and great
producers to help them succeed.



Summer Season 2003
, & Technical


~J~j ,> u

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