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April 18, 2005 - Image 9

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-04-18

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ARTS

TV's'Last
aComic'
students
By Jessica Koch
Daily Arts Writer
COMEDY R EVIEW

'Amityville'
By Jeffrey Bloomer
Daily Arts Writer

The Michigan Daily - Monday, April 18, 2005 - 9A
offers surprising scares

Why don't they just leave? During all haunted
house movies, between the classic musical cues and

the inevitable forays into the
dark, musty basement, the same
question lurks in the back of
every viewer's mind: Do these
people not know certain death
when they see it? What do they
think it means when their refrig-
erator magnets start spelling out
"Katch'em and Kill'em" and their
daughter dangles off the roof of
their Victorian manor because
her so-called "imaginary friend"
could "play together forever?"

The
Amityville
Horror
At the Showcase
and Quality 16
MGM
told her that they

With such an
frame, Alonzo
Bodden is a sur-
prisingly soft-spo-
ken comedian. He
has made a name
for himself with
his outstanding
comedic timing

imposingly

large

Alonzo
Bodden
Ann Arbor
Comedy Club

and style. As part of his national tour,
Bodden entertained audience members
this past weekend at the Ann Arbor
Comedy Club.
As the winner of the third season of
NBC's "Last Comic Standing," Bod-
den beat out other now well-known
comedians to claim his title. Curiously,
the finale was shown on Comedy Cen-
tral instead of on NBC. Bodden com-
mented on the switch as part of his
act - "As soon as NBC found out the
black guy had won, they shipped it to
Comedy Central."
Thanks to television appearances on
"Late Night with Conan O'Brien" and
"The Apollo," Bodden has rapidly been
gaining popularity. He also appeared in
several films including the teen comedy
"The Girl Next Door" and the family-
friendly "Bringin' Down the House," and
has gone on United States Officer's tours
to entertain troops around the world.
Bodden didn't start out performing
comedy. In fact, Alonzo spent over
nine years as a jet mechanic working
on DC-10s and the stealth fighters.
However, Bodden found more enjoy-
ment entertaining his coworkers than
actually working with them and left to
pursue a career in comedy.
As expected, Bodden's live act was a
bit edgier from what was seen on "Last
Comic Standing." "NBC wouldn't
let me tell this one joke because it

Courtesy o Omnipop
Comedian Alonzo Bodden
involved kicking a midget. Fox would
have let me kick a midget. In fact, they
would have asked if I could light it on
fire first and then kick it," Bodden said.
Despite his strong language, Bodden
never broke his calm composure, or his
cynical, laid-back appeal.
The best part of Bodden's act was
his interaction with the audience. Dur-
ing Thursday night's performance, two
engineering students received more
than they had bargained for when he
attempted to set them up with multiple
women in the audience. While showcas-
ing the students, Bodden joked "Come
on, ladies, they are engineers. Take
them home and they will build you a
bookcase or something." His act was
enhanced by his quick wit and smooth
ability to adapt to his audience.
Although Bodden's material was a bit
recycled, tapping overused topics such
as the 2004 Super Bowl half-time show
and President Bush, his cynical style
and speedy delivery still made the per-
formance worth seeing. He did, howev-
er, succeed with the ever-popular jokes
about stereotypes. "With every stereo-
type comes the good and the bad. For
instance, Asians have that whole bad
driving thing, but they are also really
smart. Then Mexicans always have like
30 people in their car, but they are all
going to work, " Bodden said.
Throughout his entire act, Bodden
remained comfortably good-natured,
making it easy for audience members
to laugh at political correctness and
race issues. The comedian stressed
that it was important to laugh at our-
selves instead of taking everything so
seriously.

While many horror flicks have nobly attempted to
answer this question, they usually come up with the
same, stupefying verdict. Namely, it seems that people
would love nothing more than to get the hell out of
dodge - but, wouldn't you know it, their houses just
won't let them leave.
Still, in "The Amityville Horror," the effective
new remake of the hit 1979 thriller, Ryan Reynolds's
("Blade: Trinity") haunted stepfather comes up with
something that's at least a bit more in touch with real-
ity. "Houses don't kill people, people kill people," he
says, and in any other movie, he'd probably be right.
But his house has quite a history; it's the sort of place
where holy water boils on the floor and dense clouds
of flies live in the ventilation, and over the years, it's
proved to be one persistent S.O.B. In fact, give it just
28 days and it promises to turn the man of the house
into an axe-wielding heathen whose eventual killing
spree makes its way through his entire family, includ-
ing the unsuspecting pooch.
As with the original, the new "Amityville Horror"
claims to be based on a true story, with its primary
source material being the 1977 book by Jay Anson.
Strange, isn't it, how the two films' plots - which are
supposedly based on the same events - have little to do

Courtesy of MGM

"All you need is scented candles, massage oil and Barry White. Write that down."

with each other, aside from that ominous early-morning
hour that all the aforementioned mayhem begins (3:15
a.m., by the way, for those keeping count).
But no matter - that isn't really the point. The
important thing is that in the capable hands of director
Andrew Douglas and the surprisingly strong cast, the
film trumps the idiotic, inexplicably popular original
and finishes it as one of the more substantively disqui-
eting horror offerings in recent years. True, it relies on
the usual stock of thriller devices to up its shock fac-
tor and never quite finds narrative coherence. Yes, the
ending is a nonsensical copout that shies away from the
film's natural climax in the face of easy closure. But
the film is also a tightly wound, consistently creepy

86 minutes that puts a face on its evil and doesn't take
itself too seriously.
And fact or fiction, taut or trifling, let's face it: That
obligatory basement scene alone, which takes heavy
inspiration from the 2000 mind-bender "The Cell," is
more haunting than full-lenth thrillers this year. Add
to that the contextually spot-on performances from
Reynolds and Melissa George (TV's "Alias"), and
"The Amityville Horror" proves to be a solid, fully
functional haunted house movie that has more than its
fair share of scares. It might go down the usual, creaky
hallways, but as a remake, the movie comes close to
finding something new at the end - and sometimes,
that's enough.

Incomplete 'Gunmen' misfires with DVD

SHORT TAKES

THE Bob NEWHART SHow:
THE COMPLETE FIRST
SEASON
20TH CENTURYFox
"The Bob Newhart Show" is
classic '70s comedy at its best.
The aptly titled series centers on
the personal and professional life
of Bob (Bob Newhart), a psy-
chologist who deals with the trou-
bles of his wife Emily (Suzanne
fPleshette), his patients and friends
(including Bill Daily of "I Dream
of Jeannie" fame).
The 24 episodes are entertain-
iog and funny. Viewers are thrown
right into the thick Bob's life from
the first episode, when Bob must
teach his patients and his wife that
there is nothing to fear from fly-
ing. Bob's world is almost entirely
white-bred, and sometimes the
comedy doesn't conform to current

notions of political correctness;
sometimes sexist and sometimes'
it lambastes patriarchic notions
that father - or in this case Bob
- always knows-best.-But it is
safe to assume that none of the
material is intended to offend;
these instances, which leave view-
ers scratching their heads more
than anything, are not reflective of
the show as a whole.
The DVD set doesn't feature
any extras: There isn't one delet-
ed scene, promotional spot, audio
commentary or documentary. The
show itself is the only incentive to
buy this three-disc set, and for most
who love classic TV or comedy,
that should be more than enough.
-Melissa Runstrom
Show: ***
Picture/Sound: **
Features:No Stars

By Melissa Runstrom
Daily Arts Editor
Patriotism for America is rare-
ly represented in the practice of
publishing government secrets or
conducting shady personal inves-
tigations of small-time criminals
or polar-bear poachers. "The Lone
Gunmen" series reshapes the popu-
lar image of hero into three awk-
ward, truth-seeking journalists who
manage to show their unwavering
pride, ignorance and dedication with
each episode.
"The Lone Gunmen," a spin-off
of "The X-Files," didn't even make
it through a full season; only 13 epi-
sodes were shot. The cast of unlikely
heroes includes the original three
tech-savvy Lone Gunmen (Bruce
Harwood, Tom Braidwood and
Dean Haglund) who helped Mulder
(David Duchovny) and Scully (Gil-
lian Anderson) on "The X-Files"
and incorporates two new charac-
ters: Jimmy (Stephen Snedden) is a
do-gooder with a heart big enough
to compensate for his abundant
ignorance and naivete, while Yves
(Zuleikha Robinson) is a shadowy
figure whose character slowly devel-
ops into a person with real motiva-
tion to do good.
Most episodes are heart warming
yet mediocre. The "Gunmen's" final
four, however, highlight the series'
potential. Given another season to
develop characters and plot, this

mostly light-hearted fair could have
become a quality cult-hit, following

in the footsteps
of its "X-Files"
mother, which
managed to sur-
vive dismal rat-
ings early on to
hammer out nine
seasons on Fox.
Unlike its par-
ent series, "Gun-

The Lone
Gunmen: The
Complete
Series
20th Century Fox

men" is more comedy than drama
and has fewer links to the super-
natural. Plotlines - comprised of
consistently fortunate, "coinciden-
tal" plot turns and perpetual happy
endings - grow tiresome after just
a handful of episodes.
It isn't until the final episodes that
the writing starts to move past these
tired dynamics. Despite these weak-
nesses, the series is still entertain-

ing - both for those who have seen
"The X-Files" and for those who
haven't.
The characters are very lik-
able and the situations the Gun-
men get themselves into might be
far fetched sometimes, but they are
always entertaining or funny. As the
season progresses character voices
become stronger and viewers forge
individual connections.
Important "X-Files" characters
Mulder and Skinner (Mitch Pileggi)
manage well placed cameos, and
many episodes - which were shot
mainly in Vancouver like early "X-
Files" seasons - match the dark
look for which "X-Files" creator
Chris Carter is known. And despite
its universal appeal, the show does
cater to its most likely audience -
"X-Files" fans.
The special features on the three-

disc DVD set are nothing to get
excited about. The two standouts are
a retrospective featurette and "Jump
the Shark," an "X-Files" episode
that brings closure after "Gunmen's"
premature death. There are also four
really crappy local Fox promotions
and the standard audio commentary.
The DVD set is nothing special
probably because the series was
never allowed to mature into any-
thing really worthwhile.
"Gunmen" did have potential as a
series but that doesn't, in this case,
translate into a great DVD set. X-
philes will surely delight in the box
set, but it is doubtful that others will
find it as appealing.

Show: **
Sound/Picture: ****
Features: **

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