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September 09, 2009 - Image 41

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The Michigan Daily, 2009-09-09

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Wednesday, September 9, 2009 - 5A

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, --"

Crash-test
dummies in
real life

By CAROLYN KLARECKI
Daily TV/New Media Editor
Everybody knows there's only
onerealreasonto watch NASCAR:
the crashes.
Without them, *
there would
be very little &
entertainment
in watching Coure
cars drive coun- Wednesdays
terclockwise at 9p.m.
around the same ABC
track 200 times.
People root for
drivers simply because hours of
race-watching yield only seconds
of crashes. And after investing so
much time in a hobby, it would be
a shame not to develop personal
attachments to your favorite rac-
ers via seeing them at their most
automotively desparate.
To alleviate the long bore that
is the sport of NASCAR, ABC has
developed "Crash Course," a new
game show focusing only on the
best - and most destructive -
parts of racing.
The show chronicles five two-
man teams as they take turns
competing in dangerous stunts
for $50,000 and the coveted Gold
Steering Wheel. For each chal-
lenge, the team who doesn't com-
plete the obstacle or takes the
longest to finish is eliminated, and
the last team remaining wins. It

sounds simple enough. But when
the stunts involve driving a car
onto a moving flatbed truck full of
barrels, theyoftenresultin flipped
vehicles and require the use of a
fire extinguisher or two.
The relationships between team
members include everything from
siblings to roommates to married
couples to best friends. Each per-
son is loud, excited and perfect for
a TV game show. Because every-
one is so outrageous, it's easy to
mock the contestants. Rooting for
someone is only a matter of choos-
ing between the most and least
obnoxious teams.
Of course, by picking such col-
orful contestants, "Crash Course"
runs the risk of becoming more
It's like
NASCAR, but
not completely
boring.
annoying than amusing. The show
prides itself on focusing on the
people behind the wheel, but with-
out some restraint the show could
lose track of itself and become
See CRASH COURSE, Page 7A

The freshest catch

Miyazaki's newest animated
film is on par with his
typical standard of excellence
By ANDREW LAPIN
Daily Film Editor
More than most other so-called "kids" mov-

ies, Hayao Miyazaki's "Ponyo"
actually seems to understand
what life is like for a child.
Its main character, the five-
year-old Sosuke, is impres-
sionable enough to take for
granted the fact that his pet
fish has suddenly turned into a
human. He's less frightened by
encounters with magical crea-
tures than he is when his mom

moment of bravery comes not from defeating
any evil villain, but from simply watching over
the house while his mom has to run out in an
emergency.
This attention to the details of a child's life
shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone famil-
iar with Miyazaki's previous films. Most of his
earlier features have starred young children on
simple quests who either enter a world of magic
or let the magic come to them. There's a reason
why Miyazaki is the most revered living anima-
tor in the world today: His films are meticulously
crafted works of beauty that attempt to engage
people of all ages in his audience. And he typi-
cally succeeds in that mission.
Ponyo - a fish who longs to be human - is
taken in by a little boy in a coastal village, much
to the frustration of her human-despising wiz-
ard fish father, who floods the town in his anger
until Ponyo can prove to him that she can sup-
port herself on two feet (literally). It's a simple
retelling of "The Little Mermaid" - emphasis

on "simple."
"Ponyo," though equally as charming and
magnificent to look at as any previous Miyazaki
film, is not quite as successful atbridgingthe gap
between his younger and older audiences. It's
closer in spirit to 1988's "My Neighbor Totoro,"
about two little girls who find a giant mythical
animal in their backyard, than to 2001's "Spirit-
ed Away," about a girl who must work in a spirits'
bathhouse to free her captured parents.
Confidentially, "Spirited Away" is this
reviewer's favorite film, animated or oth-
erwise. It touches on many adult themes,
including the evils of human greed and the
importance of maintaining one's own identity,
while at the same time entertaining younger
viewers with cute creatures and slapstick
humor. It's a bit disappointing to discover
that "Ponyo" is more interested in appealing
to the latter demographicthough it does have
a strong message about family and love (but
See PONYO, Page 7A

Ponyo
At Quality 16
and Showcase
Walt Disney
Pictures
Studios hihi

speeds to get him to school on time. And his big

A practical joke that's lost on everybody

By ERIC CHIU thing inherently entertainingabout
1 DailyArts Writer the skill and detail that go into a
properly performed hoax. It's safe
It's hard to argue against the to say, though, the true art of the
value of a well- practical joke probably wasn't a
executed prank. concern for MTV's "Pranked."
From the meticu- "Pranked" follows the clip-show
lously designed Pranked format popularized by shows like
pranks of bored "The Soup." In each episode, hosts
Ivy League stu- Thursdaysat Streeter Seidell and Amir Blumen-
dents to the 10:30 p.m. feld ("The CollegeHumor Show")
simplicity of a MTV snarkily comment on a variety of
perfectly timed online videos of people pulling
shot to the crotch, there's some- pranks on each other.

Not surprisingly, "Franked"
suffers from the same pitfall that
impairs most clip shows. If every-
thing in the show is already avail-
able online, there's no reason to
spend a half hour in front of the TV
watching the same videos. To cri-
tique it kindly, "Pranked" doesn't
exactly justify its own existence.
The level of stupidity at work
in "Pranked" borders on oppres-
sively toxic - there's a prevail-
ing vein of cringe-worthiness
throughout the highlighted

videos in the show, but there's no
redeeming comedic value to any of
the wince-incitingmoments.
That's not to say that pranks and
cringe-heavy humor can't go hand
in hand. The "Prank War" series
See PRANKED, Page 7A

"Please never fart in the car again."

-

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