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January 16, 2008 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2008-01-16

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, January 16, 2008 - 5A

SThou
shalt nc
see ti
Despite a cast of
headliners, 'First
Sunday' fails to
garner any laughs
By IMRAN SYED
Daily Arts Writer
Idon't know that much about rap, but
apparently Ice Cube was really good
at it. And that makes me feel better
about what I have to say about his new
movie "First Sunday," an honest, though
disastrous attempt at a meaningful family
comedy.
Further attempting to
build up the ill-fitting,
unnecessary persona First Sunday
established in "Are We
There Yet?" and its even At Quality 16
more hapless sequel, and Showcase
Ice Cube plays Durell, a Screen Gems
hardworking, down-on-
his-luck man struggling
to stay afloat. Threatened with the possi-
bility of never seeing his son again when
his mother decides she'll have to move out
of state to make a living, Durell needs to
find $17,000 right away. His friend Lee-
John (Tracy Morgan, "30 Rock") banks
on a lucrative deal involving black market
sales of pimped-out wheelchairs (complete
with custom leather and 24-inch rims), but
when that goes awry, Durell and LeeJohn
are left more desperate than ever.
And desperate people do desperate
things. For Durell and LeeJohn, that
means breaking into a church and steal-
ing from its vault. That's not as easy as it

From Bush to Lil'
Wayne in four steps

COURTESY OF SCREEN GEMS

"No seriously, the fish was this big."

may seem. Through their ordeal, the two
friends will learn to do the right thing,
and at least one of them will possibly find
Jesus, but the laughs are thin and the
moral undertones are about as perceptive
as the foreign affairs suppositions of "xXx:
State of the Union."
This movie wants to do the right thing,
which is commendable, and there's cer-
tainly an attempt made to criticize the
selfish, near-sighted thinking that leads
people to their own destruction. However,
trivialized and watered-down to a mind-
numbing degree, the message is easily
ignored, while the sophomoric gags and
one-liners keep coming. There are funny
moments, of course, just not nearly enough
to lift the film to the status of anything
more than a wasted Friday evening.
Ice Cube, who, to be fair, has seen bet-
ter acting days ("Three Kings," "Friday"),
hardly has the emotional wherewithal to
sustain a two-minute father/son heart-to-
heart on screen, let alone an entire movie
built around the concept of a well-mean-
ing father struggling for his son. That's not
to say he doesn't have a soft side - I'm sure
he does, and I'm sure it's great - but this
simply isn't a role he is suited for, or one
that he can excel in. While Will Smith may
have the versatility to pull off a tear-jerker

like "The Pursuit of Happyness" in addi-
tion to throwing down in "Independence
Day," most other actors should be con-
tent with finding one screen persona that
works for them and sticking with it.
Morgan - the former "Saturday Night
Live" standout who has recently gained
credibility amongst the wine and cheese
crowd for his spot-on satire in "30 Rock"
- has generally been a non-factor in his
big screen performances, limited to banal
roles such as an effeminate inmate in "The
Longest Yard" and the guy who keeps
asking "Is 'Martin' on yet?" in "Head of
State." Here, in what is his first starring
film role, he is wasted in ironically the
same type of derogatory, meaningless
comedic antics that he pokes fun at in "30
Rock." His character feigns depth and
seems genuinely likeable, but, hung up in
between empty drama and equally vapid
jokes, there's almost nothing here to make
him worth watching.
The standards aren't all that high on
a film like "First Sunday." Regardless of
what old, purist critics may say (and they
haven't said anything good), this film is
a success if it makes people laugh. The
problem is that it fails to do that while
trivializing its wholesome premise and
well-meaning cast.

The formative years of my musical
taste is something of a blur. Some-
where in the past 15 years, I went
from listening to Bush to Metal-
lica (full disclosure) to the Mighty
Mighty Bosstones to Mogwai to,
now, Lil Wayne.
Like most pre-teens, I followed
the trends. I loved Deep Blue Some-
thing when they
released "Break-
fast at Tiffany's."
Live's' "Light-
ning Crashes"
and Bush's
"Machinehead"
were instant
hits. These were CHRIS
the songs of my GAERIG
youth, and I
devoured them in
all their 89X/MTV/what-have-you
glory.
I grew up during the peak of the
alternative craze - a time when,
seemingly, every hack that picked
up a guitar released a good song, if
not entire album. Think about it:
Blues Traveler, Gin Blossoms, Fuel,
Creed, Bush, Oasis, Counting Crows
and Garbage. While groups like the
Pixies were exploding in the college-
radio/indie-rock scene, mainstream
radio had its own set of stars and
Billboard toppers.
But as these groups aged, so too
did their formula and the wide-
spread production ofthese incredible
singles. "Hey Jealousy" gave way to
"Last Resort" The airwaves became
flooded with cookie-cut pop-punkers
like Papa Roach and Blink 182. The
ingenuity and catchy hooks dissolved
into a mass of 7-string guitars and
rocking-out-with-one's-cock-out.
It seemed for some time that
mainstream music had been com-
pletely ruined. There was nothing
worthwhile on the radio, MTV was a
vapid wasteland and with each new,
passing fad, it seemed like the popu-
lar realm was moving more towards
banality, lacking all originality and
those famously singable choruses.
But like nature, the mainstream
always finds a way.
In the past several years, despite
what anyone tells you, popular music
has found its savior in mainstream
hip hop.
I know what you're thinking:
"Aesop Rock and Talib Kweli are
the only legitimate rappers and any-
one who glorifies the thug lifestyle
is (insert derogatory adjective)." To
you: I call bullshit. Not only is the
indie-/conscious-rap genre typically
played out and overly aggrandized,
but also, there's much more to the
tracks constantly spinning at your
local hip-hop radio station.
Let's take, for example, 50 Cent. A
top-to-bottom atrocious rapper, 50
released one of the better gangster
rap albums of the last decade in Get
Rich orDie Tryin' (not to be confused
with his film of the same name). The
breakthrough single "In Da Club"
IN CONCERT

still gets played at clubs and parties,
while it boasts the most memorable
chorus sung by a dude with a drawl-
ing slur this side of Kanye West's
"Through the Wire." Get Rich also
produced singles "What Up Gang-
sta," "21 Questions," "Wanksta"
and "P.I.M.R." aside from all of the
incredible album tracks like "Many
Men" and "High All the Time."
Many attribute the album's suc-
cess to Dr. Dre's production, argu-
ing that anyone could make a great
album with that many great beats.
And while that may be true, it
doesn't matter. 50 Cent released a
great album by whatever means.
Similarly, the Virginian duo Clipse
and the Houston goliath Slim Thug
have both released classic albums
with the help of wonder-producers
the Neptunes. Though both artists
have impeccable flow on their own,
their recent albums Hell Hath No
Fury and Already Platinum, respec-
tively, were essentially guaranteed
to be stellar with the help of these
astounding beats.
But even though not all main-
stream MCs are afforded the luxury
of an entire disc of mixtape-worthy
beats like 50, Clipse and Slim Thug,
everyone seems to be dropping
Why mainstream
music isn't all bad
sugar-sweet hooks and explosive
singles. Fat Joe - who has, arguably,
the worst lyricism and flow in recent
memory - released the incred-
ibly catchy "Lean Back" even in the
face of his own ineptitude, while
artists like Rihanna can release an
"Umbrella" without batting an eye.
Say what you will about Unk, "Walk
It Out" is one hell of a club banger.
Everyone complains that this
mindsetmeansthe deathoftherecord
industry - the focus on singles rather
than outstanding albums - but this is
the way its always been. It's difficult
to pin down the best albums from
the Motown/Stax period because of
their insistence on high-flying sin-
gles. Hell, the mid-'90s were all about
the singles. How else would anyone
remember Creed?
Faced will all of this, it becomes
clear that we're currently experienc-
ing the golden age of mainstream hip
hop - as bothersome as that might
be for some people. But those people
have tolearnthatgreatmusic isn't all
about being "deep" and "arty." The
'00s will be remembered as the shift
from legitimate pop-rock to pop-hip
hop. Just let it happen. Or just "Lean
with it, rock with it."
Gaerig's favorite Friday-night
activity is singing "Breakfast at
Tiffany's." E-mail him at cgaerig@
umichedu to sing with him.

I ew Mafia' In
ftown doesn'
look to be ahit
By DAVE REAP the City" movie coming out
Daily Arts Writer this summer.
- -- Now, how does this sound?
Four overly-aroused mid- Four, slightly more attractive,
dle-aged women living in New overly-aroused middle-aged
York City. Ring a bell? If you're women living in New York City.
drawing a That's the not-quite-novel con-
blank, then ** cept behind ABC's "Cashmere
you probably Mafia." "Cashmere Mafia" is
haven't seen Cashmere pretty much "Sex and the City"
I HBO for the - note that the two even have
past 10 years. Mafia the same executive producer,
Everyone and Wednesdays DarrenStar. Butthe show's lack
their brother, ato10 p.m. of creativity may not be such a
or in this case bad thing. ABC's just trying to
sisterhasseen ABC give "Sex and the City" fans
an episode of more of what they want to see
"Sex and the City." The show on network television. There's
was tremendously successful even a small chance that ABC
- hell, there's even a "Sex and can improve on a battle-tested

"Here's to being in Lucy Lui's shadow."

TV for
Girl" d
In
diffict
Mafia
three
eleme
It's
ti
wit
on
versit'
girl w
her tr
portra
as ha
tives i
home:
shoul
womel
Blacki
their
simult
sonal
group
makes
ing pl
the pil
off ag
promo
to the
a-day
dimen
Mafia
"Sex,.

rmula like CW's "Gossip Liu is the primary draw
lid with Fox's "The O.C." here as the three other mafia
order to accomplish this members, Frances O'Connor
ult task, "Cashmere ("Bedazzled"), Miranda Otto
puts a lot of stock in ("War of the Worlds") and
potentially compelling Bonnie Somerville ("NYPD
nts - BlackBerries, Uni- Blue") have little TV or film
experience. But, the show's
success won't hinge on Liu's
like 'Sex and performance, but on how the
girls interact with one another.
he City' but While the four have the poten-
tial to form an entertaining
th jobs ... and quartet, they still have a long
way to go until they get to the
network TV same league as the "Sex and
the City" group.
The most intriguing element
of the pilot came in the form of
Somerville's character, Caitlin
y alum Lucy Liu and a Dowd. She breathes life into a
ho is trying to discover show that would otherwise be
ue sexual identity. The too repetitive. Dowd is a mar-
yal of the four women keting executive with a tough
rd-working top execu- New York accent and is without
s incessantly hammered a husband or kids. In the pilot,
to decide when they she begins a relationship with
d meet for drinks all four another woman. Somerville,
n must whip out their not Liu, is the primary reason
Berries to glance over for watching the show because
schedules. While the her character provides much-
aneous checking of per- needed breaks from segments
planners gets old, the dealing with jobs, husbands
's fixation on their jobs and children.
for somewhat captivat- As hard as it may try, it seems
ot lines. For example, in all but certain that "Cashmere
lot, one of the girls faced Mafia" will never overtake
ainst her husband for a its predecessor in popularity
tion that ultimately led or fame. But by utilizing the
ir separation. The work- "Sex and the City" formula,
world gives another with moderate tweaking here
sion to "Cashmere and there, "Cashmere Mafia"
," making it more like should draw in enough viewers
Jobs and the City." to achieve some success.

"l

COURTESY OF ABc
You'l see none of these people naked. This show's not on HBO.

4.

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