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September 16, 2009 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-09-16

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, Septe m ber. 16, 2009 - 5A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Wednesday, September16, 2009 -

'Steve' is all about awful

Daily Arts Writer
An abhorrently poor excuse
for art and an insult to crossword
everywhere, a
new film has
opened this All About
weekend to
remind us all Steve
of the inepti-
tude of certain At Quality16
members of the and Showcase
movie indus- 20th Century Fox
try. Low bud-
get, poor actors,
weak scripts - thrdw Sandra
Bullock into the mix as an annoy-
ing faux-nerd and you may end up
with "All About Steve."
Bullock ("The Proposal") plays a
crossword-puzzle designer named
Mary Horowitz who works for a
Sacramento, CA paper. Sexually
frustrated and over-the-top eccen-
tric, she struggles with the monot-
ony of her everyday life. When her
parents - with whom she is tem-
porarily living - arrange a date
for her, she discovers that her ini-
tial misgivings about her parents'
taste in dates are unfounded. Steve
(Bradley Cooper, "The Hangover")

immediately arouses her, and she
proceeds to embark upon one of
the most awkward sexual endeav-
ors that many viewers will ever
have the misfortune of seeing.
During the odd tryst, Mary's
encyclopedic rant (trust me, you'd
actually have to see it to believe
it) confuses and repulses the mild-
mannered Steve, who interrupts
their experience to inform her that
he has been called to work. Since
he works as an on-site TV camera-
man with an ambitious news team,
he explains he'll be traveling cross-
country to follow current events.
During the course of his explana-
tion, Mary misinterprets him and
decides that she is madly in love
with Steve and would sooner stalk
him like a serial killer than aban-
don her feelings.
On the surface, the plot seems
to have potential, but any and all of
that potential is ruined by the intel-
lectually ineptfashion in which the
movie presents itself, The screen-
writer, Kim Barker, must have
assumed the film's viewers are just
as stupid as she is, and considering
the only other film in her portfolio
is "License to Wed," they actually
might be. It seems ridiculous and
patronizing to reiterate plot devel-

opment to viewers in the dialogue
rather than letting them figure it
out for themselves.
Even worse is the stance the
movie takes on the subject of
female stalkers. Since rom-coms
are generally marketed toward
women, it's understandable that
many of them take a pro-fem
stance. However, when the pro-
tagonist is a character study in
Sandra Bullock
makes anything
even worse.
mental illness, it doesn't seem
apropos to portray Steve as crazy
for not taking advantage of his sit-
uation. If Mary could carry herself
with even a hint of typical sanity,
viewers might sympathize with
her position. But sanity is nowhere
to be found in this film, as is evi-
denced by numerous plot holes,
forced acting and a sensationalist
ending. More derision could be
expressed about "Steve," but why
waste perfectly good derision?

Wow. He has a really big ... forehead.
Same old Leno

Jay's new talkshow
basically revives his
'Tonight Show' stint
DailyArts Writer
Whenever "The Tonight Show"
changes hands, things don't go
smoothly. When
Jay Leno took
over NBC's "The
Tonight Show"
in 1992, a dis-
gruntled David Leno Show
jumped ship for Weekdays
CBS. Likewise, at10p'm.
this spring's NBC
O'Brien "Tonight
Show" handover has been dismal
for ratings, with Letterman con-
sistently walloping O'Brien.
It's into this less-than-favorable
environmentthat NBC has launched
"The Jay Leno Show," a nightly talk
show that moves Leno's "Tonight
Show" shtick into primetime. The
set notwithstanding, Leno on "The
Jay Leno Show" is virtually identical
to Leno on "The Tonight Show" - a
testament to how much NBC wanted
Leno to stay with the network.
From the opening minutes
(where Leno high-fives the audi-
ence before going into his usual
monologue), to the return of old
segments from "The Tonight
Show," viewers will be hard-
pressed to notice much of a differ-
ence between this "new" show and

the Leno they're used to.
The show does try to make
some minor additions to Leno's
"Tonight Show" formula, add-
ing segments filled by a rotating
roster of comedians to the usual
interviews and musical perfor-
mances. Even still, "The Jay Leno
Show" retreads familiar territory.
This is, for all intents and pur-
poses, "The Tonight Show With
Jay Leno, Again," and admittedly,
NBC didn't set the bar much high-
er than that. Giving Leno another
show was presumably driven more
by the fear of Leno defecting after
his contract expired than by any
altruism on NBC's part.
As Monday's premiere showed
repeatedly, watching Leno essen-
tially do the same thing he's been
doing since the early '90s only
underscores Leno's unambitious
middlebrow appeal. An obnoxious-
ly unfunny pre-taped segment early
in the show with comedian Dan
Finnerty was forgettable enough,
with Finnerty singing about a car
wash for an excruciatingly long five
minutes. And the interview seg-
ments didn't fare much better.
Granted, the sit-down interview
is virtually archaic at this point,
but it doesn't play well to Leno's
relative strengths as a host. Leno's
interviewing style has never been
especially compelling, lacking the
congeniality of Craig Ferguson
("The Late Late Show") or the
curmudgeonly unpredictability
of Letterman. Unfortunately, the
show's interview format - which
eschews Leno's traditional desk
for a pair of chairs - only empha-

sizes Leno's weaknesses.
His opening interview with
Jerry Seinfeld, which had the two
batting around softball questions
before Oprah made a surprise
appearance, was lifeless enough to
make Jimmy Fallon's interviews
seem dynamic.
Likewise, his interview with
Kanye West was cringe-worthy,
with Leno making West tear up
after asking him how West's moth-
er - who died in 2007 - would
have felt about his outburst at
the MTV Video Music Awards on
Sunday. Outside of that, though,
the show's inaugural outing was
wholly surprise-free, with prat-
falls, jokes about erectile dysfunc-
tion and "Headlines" (a "Tonight
Show" segment where Leno high-
lights funny newspaper headlines)
padding out the hour.
If all this sounds familiar, it's
because Leno'sbeen doing it for the
past 17 years, and he carries it over
into "The Jay Leno Show" largely
untouched. Leno has always been
a comic who delivers, in his own
words, "big tent" comedy, and the
show is a perfect vehicle for that.
Leno, the experienced comedian,
delivers jokes that everyone can
laugh with at 10 p.m.
But at the same time, the new
show's eagerness to please, along
with the fact that it's essentially a
rebranded "Tonight Show," won't
do much to win Leno many new
converts. After all, aiming toward
the middle certainly might be com-
fortable for Leno, but playing it safe
all the time tends to get dull after a

"Sorry Im ruining your movie. Like my new highlights?"
Cultiting a 'Community

A 'Whiteout' of utter garbage

Daily TV/New Media Editor
Community college has a rather
unfortunate social stigma. As the
president of fictional Greendale
College says in *
the beginning
of NBC's new Communty
comedy "Com-
munity,""You've Thursdays at
heard it's loser 9:30 p.m.
college full of NBC
remedial teens,
dropouts, middle-aged divorcees
and old people keeping their minds
active as they circle the drain of
This may or may not be true
for most community colleges, but
either way, the Greendale bunch
is a motley crew that makes for
amusing television.
In "Community," former lawyer
Jeff Winger (Joel McHale, "The
Soup") returns to Greendale Com-
munity College to earn a degree
after his first one gets revoked.
Thinking he can bribe and barter
his way through school just as eas-
ily as in the court room, he starts a
study group with the sole intention
of getting closer to the cute girl,
Britta (newcomer Gillian Jacobs).
Of course, word spreads, the group
grows and Jeff finds himself over-
whelmed, realizing he may need to

do a little work after all.
The premise and storyline
behind the show aren't anything
incredibly unique. The protago-
nist always had it easy and sud-
denly finds he can't just glide
through life. He also unintention-
ally becomes the leader of a group
of social misfits and helps them
all find their sense of self. It's like
"Freaks and Geeks" meets "The
Simple Life."
Fortunately, the writers aren't
blind to their conventional for-
mula and make fun of it through-
out the show. Ironic humor ensues.
Jeff apologizes for confiding in the
cafeteria worker by telling her
he was raised on television and
"conditioned to believe that every
black woman over SO was a cosmic
mentor." And Abed (Danny Pudi,
"Greek") frequently makes allu-
sions to how similar their situation
is to "The Breakfast Club."
The cast of "Community"
is nothing short of impressive,
including accomplished actors
such as Chevy Chase ("Saturday
Night Live"), Alison Brie ("Mad
Men") and Donald Glover ("30
Rock"). More important, though,
is the quality of the characters
study group is incredibly eccen-
tric yet still somehow believable
and maybe even a little relatable.
It's a worn-out ploy, but everyone
is a little bit of an outcast in their

own way and, by exaggerating that
notion, "Community" makes itself
surprisingly relevant.
A large fault in the show is that
it's unclear where exactly these
characters are headed. The pilot
is cute, but it doesn't really give
any clues as to what will hap-
pen throughout the season, aside
from the fact that Winger is defi-
nitely going to have to study for
that Spanish test. Without any
idea of what anyone is working
Funny with no
staying power.
toward (Finish the semester? Get
a degree?), it's tough to find the
motivation to continue watching.
Chances are the characters will
all learn something about them-
selves, Jeff's world will continue
to be shaken up and there will be
plenty of biting sarcasm along the
way (or at least there'd better be
sarcasm - otherwise this might
all get a little too heartwarming).
"Community" is not a force that
will change the way people think
about community college. It also
isn't a show that'll keep you wait-
ing for the next episode. It's simply
a funny show with agreat cast, and
maybe that's all it needs.

DailyArts Writer
A murder mystery in Antarctica
is an intriguing concept, especially
considering the
sheer original-
ity of its seques-
tered setting. Whtout
The gravely cold
temperatures At Qualityl6
and lack of a per- and Showcase
manent human Warer Bros.
population have
made the chilly
continent mostly extrinsic in cin-
ema circles (save for "March of
the Penguins"), but its isolation
and hazardous environment are
ideal for inciting thrills and plac-
ing characters in peril. Still, "Whi-
teout" fails to capitalize on its
unusual locale, instead becoming a
film that relies upon enough genre
conventions to leave one scouring
for synonyms of the word "cliche."
Based on the graphic novel of
the same name, "Whiteout" fol-
lows U.S. Marshall Carrie Stetko
(Kate Beckinsale, "Underworld").
She is stationed on an Antarctic
base as she investigates the grisly
death of a geologist. Stetko is also
under a severe time constraint -
the base is going to be evacuated
in three days before the devastat-
ing Antarctic winter sets in. Stetko
must confront animportant moral

dilemma: Should she get the hell
out of Antarctica and leave the
crime to other authorities, or fol-
low her case to the end and be
stranded on the base for the next
six months? Naturally, our virtu-
ous (read: generic) lead chooses
the latter.
Other characters in "Whiteout"
fill out a checklist of unabashed
stereotypes: the nurturing doctor
nearing retirement (Tom Sker-
ritt, TV's "Brothers & Sisters"),
the straight arrow U.N. officer
(Gabriel Macht, "The Spirit") and
the cocky pilot with an unquench-
able libido (Alex O'Loughlin,
It has Antarctica
and nothing else.
TV's "Moonlight"). As expected,
any sort of development for each
lethargically performed character
is nonexistent.
This lack of character depth
isn't solely responsible for tank-
ing the film, as Stetko's own "dark
past" is yet another hackneyed,
superfluous element of the story.
This backstory, supposedly show-
ing the audience her vulnerability
and toughness, unfolds through
a series of sepia-toned flashbacks
(just go you know it was a lorig

time ago). Her character's "revela-
tion" is not only predictable - it
severely disrupts the flow of the
film, often causing it to feel more
like a Lifetime Original Movie
than a high-tension thriller.
This is unfortunate, as "White-
out" sets a perfect pace with a mar-
velous plane crash in its opening
sequence. The filmmakers, how-
ever, included too much dialogue,
too many extraneous subplots and
too little action to maintain the
level of excitement.
Among the film's few bright
spots is its clever mixing of genres.
Stetko's encounters with the
pickaxe-wielding villain resemble
scenes from decent slasher mov-
ies - a frenetic camera follows
the silent, menacing killer as he
chases his prey through gale-force
blizzards. If the entire film had
followed the approach of these
well-crafted but sparse confronta-
tions, the result may have been a
competent horror movie.
"Whiteout" features several
breathtaking shots of the Ant-
arctic landscape (hopefully they
weren't constructed through CGI,
but they probably were). Of course,
since there's little else the film-
makers have to be proud of in the
film, these shots are frustratingly
overused, contributing to the bru-
tally slow pace of this poor excuse
for an action thriller.

Chevy Chq4e: quite the artist.

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