If you heard a video got 3 million views this weekend (and the weekend isn’t over yet) you’d probably assume it features like, Beyonce performing a live concert on top of the Empire State Building or something but what would you say if I told you it was about the Napoleonic Wars?
I know. Mind blown, right? Anyone can get 3 million people to watch a video about Beyonce in a spontaneous concert, but it takes a pretty special kind of brain to get 3 million people to watch a video about 1800s French warfare.
Little seems to be known about “The Oversimplified Guy” but his videos are pretty great. He “over simplifies” history, boiling down histories of wars, battles, time periods etc. down to a half hour to an hour or so. His work is an example of great things that can be done on a small budget. Animated characters that are little more than stick figures, lots of clip art…but the jokes come flying at a fast and furious pace and honestly, I’ve learned more about world history from these vids than any history class.
BQB here with a review. (Yes, it’s on Pluto TV. I’m really getting my money’s worth out of this app, which is zero.)
I remember thinking this movie was funny as a kid but now as a geezer, I think it is more clever. I was able to guess the jokes as they were coming, partly because they are memorable and partly because 2019’s “The Hustle” starring Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson in a modernized female version with basically the same plot kept the jokes fresh in my head.
Michael Caine, looking rather dapper at roughly 55 here and man what a life you can live if you eat your Wheaties, plays Lawrence Jamieson, a master con artist who lives a lavish lifestyle in a wealthy town in the south of France. He finances his mansion, servants, travel, wardrobe, extravagances, etc. by bilking rich women out of their money, often by telling them he is a prince living in exile, trying to coordinate a rebellion against the communists who have conquered his non-existent nation. The ladies think they are donating to the cause of freedom, while Jamieson simply pockets the dough and gives the women the heave-ho.
Freddy Benson is also a con man, but on a much less impressive scale. He is an American, conning his way through Europe with stories about his sick grandmother and how he can’t afford lunch because he’s saving up for her operation. Freddy bilks rich women out of free lunches and pocket money.
When they meet on a train, Freddy demands that Lawrence take him on as a student, that he become Darth Vader to Jamieson’s Emperor, which is funny because Palpatine himself is in this flick. Ian McDiarmid plays Jamieson’s trusty butler Arthur, who assists in the cons. I know McDiarmid has a long career but personally, I believe this is the first non-Emperor role I’ve seen him in (at least that I can remember.)
Lawrence and Freddy go out on the con together but soon butt heads, finding it difficult to work together as they rarely see eye to eye. They settle their differences with a bet. First one to con super sweet soap company heiress Janet Colgate out of $50,000 gets to stay in town, while the loser must leave.
From there on, it’s a mad cap romp as Lawrence and Freddy constantly one up each other, telling one lie after the next and apparently they have no fear of burning in hell for there’s nothing, literally nothing that they aren’t willing to do to defraud this poor woman.
To the film’s credit, I remember it being a common trope in many films where a character sets out to defraud another character (sometimes it’s a man defrauding a woman or vice versa) and then after they get to know one another, they fall in love. Here, love does bloom amidst this twisted triangle, but (SPOILER ALERT) the duo is not rewarded for their treachery. The ending is rather ingenious and if you’re watching it for the first time, unexpected. I thought it was better than the old “Oh OK I forgive you for being a fraudulent piece of crap and will reward you with my love and trust now” ending that so many other movies go with.
The late, great Glenn Headley plays Janet and this movie reminded me of how sad I was to hear of her passing. She also played Dick Tracy’s Tess Trueheart and I always thought that movie illustrates the dilemma many a man finds himself in. Dick wants Breathless Mahoney (Madonna) because she’s hot, but knows she’s trouble as she can have any dude she wants. Tess, on the other hand, is true blue and will be there for Dick through thick and thin. Ultimately, you bang Breathless and marry Tess…or maybe just skip breathless and marry Tess because Tess will dump you if you knock up Breathless. Whatever. God, my knowledge of film stretches back to some super old movies. No one even gets these references I wager.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. I do remember repeating Steve Martin’s bathroom at the dinner table joke over and over as a kid.
Wasn’t it Thomas Wolfe who said you can’t come home again?
BQB here with a review of the sequel to Eddie Murphy’s classic film.
For the uninitiated, in 1988, Eddie Murphy, the hottest act in 1980s comedy, virtually guaranteed to leave you in stitches such that you’d be grabbing your sides and shouting, “No more, no more! Bah ha ha!” proved what was then thought to be impossible – that raunchy R-rated comedies can have a heart. “Coming to America” was the story of Akeem, the young prince of the fictional African kingdom of Zamunda, whose father, King Jaffe (James Earl Jones) demanded his son take a bride amongst the many dutiful royal babes available.
Alas, Akeem realizes these women are lacking in personality. They just want him for his money and position and are willing to do whatever he says (one of them literally barks like a dog on his command), uninterested in challenging him or being his intellectual equal, he and his trusty man-servant Semi (Arsenio Hall) flee to Queens, New York (where else would you look for a future Queen?) in search of a soul mate.
Disguising themselves as a poor immigrants from Zamunda, Akeem and Semi take jobs at McDowell’s (a ripoff of McDonald’s though owner Cleo swears it isn’t), Akeem falls for the owner’s daughter Lisa, but faces adversity in winning her heart, i.e. his father, like Jaffe, wants his daughter to marry rich (in the form of Soul Glo jerri curl dynasty heir (Eriq LaSalle.)
Ultimately, it’s a coming of age story, similar to the struggle every young person faces. Every young adult wrestles with their dreams vs. harsh realities, the desire to go forth and chase their hopes vs. the pressure to be practical – to do what they actually want to do vs. what their parents and family demand they do. It can be hard for a young person in that they have experienced little of the world, know little of its dangers, and when parents demand they give up X dream, they often do it from a place of good i.e. maybe they tried to do something fabulous when they were young and it backfired and they want their kids to do better, but yet, the parents might know little of what is in the kid’s heart, what the kid is and isn’t capable of, what will and will not make them happy.
I saw this movie as a little kid – in the movie theater. I probably shouldn’t have, what with the jokes about the royal bathers and what have you, but the 1980s were a weird time and parents were like, “Eh. Whatever. It’s just a movie.” Thus was the sentiment that allowed me to see Robocop in the movie theater too and I swear seeing that mutant guy being run over and smashed to bits didn’t warp my young brain at all. Hmm. Maybe I need to tell my shrink about this.
Moving on. Long story short, I’ve been a comedy fan my whole life, from a young age, ever since I figured out it was possible to sneak downstairs while the ‘rents were sleeping to watch Saturday Night Live. At that young age, I knew Eddie had made something special with this movie, something the world hadn’t seen before.
Since then, I became an adult and sold out big time. Yeah, sadly, I caved to what my own personal Jaffes wanted rather than go forth and sew my oats. What can I say? I didn’t have a trusty manservant Semi to back me up I guess. It didn’t work out…or maybe it did. I do have this sweet blog that is only read by 3.5 readers after all, so that’s something.
Alright, enough stalling. Let’s get to the review.
In short, Coming 2 America is a cute stroll down memory lane, but if you were expecting a raunchy festival of frivolity equal to the original, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Watching Eddie in this movie is like watching Da Vinci paint with one arm tied behind his back. It just feels like Amazon clipped his wings and had a whole list of woke hoops that Eddie had to jump through.
Now, mind you, it did dawn on me there might be an alternative argument. At some point, we all get old. We realize we’ve done all we can do in this life and times have changed and we have to move over and let the kids take a turn. Apparently, the kids really like all this highly sanitized, run through ten focus groups to make sure no one’s feelings are hurt drek, so who are we oldsters to deny it to them? Eddie’s older Akeem faces a similar challenge in this film, having to grapple with a desire to please Jaffe’s old adherence to tradition, or to say to hell with it and bring in modern reforms as he assumes the crown.
At times the film feels like Mom and Dad pulled out their old photo albums and gathered the kids around to tell them stories of the past. The kids begrudgingly roll their eyes and sit through it. Mom and Dad have to run the story through their internal brain censors, sharing the good and hiding the bad. Mom and Dad were once naughty kids when they were young, after all, but now as adults, they need the kids to do what they say and not what they, well, once did.
The plot? Remember that girl who barked like a dog in the first film? She and her brother are all grown up now. Wesley Snipes literally steals the show and appears to have had a really fun time playing General Izzi, the brutal dictator of Zamunda’s neighboring country (literally called Nextdoria). When he isn’t busy training his adult soldiers with shake weights or his child soldiers in the finer arts of deploying C4, he is demanding that Akeem join the ruling families of Zamunda and Nextdoria in marriage. Bottomline – Akeem already thumbed his nose at the Izzi family once by turning down Iman (the dog barker) and General Izzi won’t stand for it twice. If Akeem can’t produce a male heir to marry his daughter, the general will declare war, and as Jaffee humorously warns, Akeem is too weak to fend it off. (James Earl Jones rivals Snipes in stealing the show here.)
Ah, as luck would have it, Akeem does have a male heir in the form of Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler) a ticket scalper from Queens trying hard to make an honest living, but kept down by a cold world that won’t give him a break. Apparently, one night, while Akeem and Semi were in America, Akeem was drugged and taken advantage of by Leslie Jones’ Mary, thus explaining where Lavelle came from. (Apparently we still have much woke progress left to make as jokes about men getting raped by women are still considered funny. Literally nothing else is considered funny but Leslie jumping Eddie’s bones while he is an intoxicated state is supposed to be a laugh riot.)
While there is plenty of time for us to get reacquainted with older characters – Akeem, Lisa, Semi and the gang, there are large swathes of the film where it feels like Saved by the Bell: The New Class, the New, New Class, how many new classes are we up to now? There are large parts of the film where the kids take over and work out their differences, i.e. Lavelle got the short end of the stick as he spent his life begging for scraps while he had an uber rich side of the family he never knew about vs. Meeka (Kiki Layne) Akeem’s eldest daughter who trained her entire life to rule as Queen one day, only to be ousted out of nowhere by Lavelle.
STATUS: Shelf-worthy. As with all sequels and reboots of old, classic films, I do wonder who is this for? Is it for today’s young adults? I don’t know but I have a hard time thinking they enjoy stuff like this. Kids today probably just smile and nod politely when adults tell them about all their favorite 1980s movies like I smiled and nodded politely when my parents tried to tell me that cowboy movies and Frank Sinatra were the shit. Is it for adults? Maybe. Part of me enjoyed the nostalgia. Part of me felt old as fuck thinking it feels like just yesterday when I was wowed by the original and now so much time has gone by that they’ve already made the highly sanitized remake. Maybe it’s for Eddie, who deserves to cash in in his old age after spending his youth making us smile, but I do feel like Eddie is like this film’s caged lion. If a studio would remove the cage, he still has enough energy left inside to roar, and leave us roaring in hysterics, but alas, studios with cajones have gone the way of the dodo.
But still, it’s cute, and has its funny moments. Hell, Amazon got me to sign up for Prime for a month just to watch it. Oh Jeff Bezos, you devious mastermind, you did it again.
I packed all six of my twisted short stories into one volume, slapped it up on Amazon and this weekend, this collection is FREE! Totally, FREE! My prices are lower than a rattle snake wiggling underneath a limbo stick! If you find a better deal on a better collection of short stories for a price that’s less than FREE, then take it!
A few years ago, I was younger (spoiler alert, a few years ago we were all younger by a few years) and I had more energy to write creatively on this fine blog. Among my contributions were a series of the top ten reasons why your boyfriend or girlfriend was…a vampire…a doomsday prepper…a ninja…an assassin…a wannabe rapper…and so on.
Now I’m a few years older and I have less energy. Also, quite frankly, I have less time on earth now and my mind no longer placates itself into thinking that I’m gonna turn it all around by becoming a famous write. I’m stuck in the bed I made for myself and let that be a lesson to you, 3.5 readers. Once you make your bed, you got to lie in it…forever and ever and ever and ever and ever. Ergo, I am now a grumpy old bastard with less time and/or interest in bringing myself to think of creative things to write on this fine blog.
But a few years ago I wrote a post about the Top Ten Warning Signs Your Girlfriend Might Be a Witch. Over the years, I saw interest in this post grow, including search terms like, “Is my girlfriend a witch?” (Son, I hate to break it to you, but if you have to google it, you already know the answer.)
I am curious if such googlers are worried their girlfriends are witches of the occult variety (i.e. some dude who saw a female silhouette strafing across the night sky atop a broomstick and he couldn’t help but notice that while this was happening his girlfriend and broomstick were nowhere to be found) or of the regular variety (i.e. she never lets him watch the game or chill with his homeboys and if he burps sideways she writes eighty-seven posts about it.)
Anyway, there is usually an uptick of interest in this post around Halloween. Hard to say, but 30 visitors a day to this exceptional blog is average. Around Halloween this year I received close to 200 visitors thanks in large part to this post. To the close to 200 dudes trying to find out if their girlfriends are witches, I think you ought to stop wondering and just go out and find yourselves girlfriends who you are SURE are not witches…unless you are ugly and/or poor and/or unsuccessful in which case you should probably stick with these witches because on a statistical level, no one else wants you so you need to put up with your girlfriend’s cauldron full of eye of newt and/or charging designer furry boots on your credit card without your permission, whichever witch case she may be.
Or don’t. Because hey, it’s better to be single than to be with a witch. Then again, I hear green women are freaky so maybe she’s worth it. You know what? Don’t come to me for advice about women, be they witches or non-witches. If I knew anything about women, I wouldn’t be writing on a blog that is read by only 3.5 readers.
Anyway, I hope this increase in visitors continues. Though Halloween is behind us, the daily visitors seem consistent at around 70, so there are still a lot of dudes who want to know if they are dating witches.
To those dudes I say:
But are you a prize yourself?
Maybe you should just go with it. Not all witches are bad.
I’m sorry she turned you into a toad.
Do you want to know if your girlfriend is a witch? Read the epic post here.
FYI: I would have embedded the above post into the words “Read the epic post here” but WordPress changes its blogging functions around more than Lady Gaga changes her outfits and I don’t have the strength to figure out how to embed links into words at the moment.
DOUBLE FYI: I just googled “Top Ten Warning Signs Your Girlfriend Might Be a Witch” and I’m proud to say that this post was ranked not only at the top of the page, but a similar post from The Washington Post came in second. A few years ago, that would have really stroked my ego, but today as I mentioned I am quite old and lethargic so I’m not that impressed…although I would note that when it comes to the topic of determining whether one’s girlfriend is a witch, this blog beats the paper that took down Nixon even while it has all the resources that Jeff Bezos can bring to bear, including the whopping 17.8 cents that Jeff has added to his fortune thanks to my self-published books.
TRIPLE FYI: Lesbians, I didn’t forget you. You may also be dating witches. You might also want to check out this post or you might want to ignore it because again, I’m not the one that straight dudes should be going to advice for about women so I doubt my advice will help you out either.
I have a new FREE short on Amazon. Totally FREE. Did I mention it is FREE? Now and for the next few days you can get a FREE copy.
Harry Blanding is a crazy old conspiracy theorist…or is he?
Every day he arrives at a subway stop in New York City, ringing a bell as he shouts out wacky claims, each one sillier than the next. Pudding cup labels that contain subliminal messages. A nuclear warhead stockpile inside Teddy Roosevelt’s head on Mt. Rushmore. Bigfoot is a hitman in the employ of Russian spies.
Absurd, right? When cell phone videos of Harry’s antics go viral, most assume the old man is a performance artist with a twisted sense of humor.
One particular agency that may or may not exist isn’t laughing.
At the outset, this is a fun action comedy. It’s not something I’d want to watch over and over again, but it was worth the rental fee.
Kumail Nanjiani plays Stu, a down and out sporting goods store clerk who makes money on the side driving for Uber, thus earning him the undesired nickname, Stuber.
He pines for friend Becca (Betty Gilpin, and who doesn’t?) but despite his best efforts, including forking over his savings so she can start a spin class business, he’s permanently in the friend zone.
His life of boredom is interrupted for a night of action, adventure and sheer, out and out terror when Vic Manning (Dave Bautista), a bad ass cop on the hunt for his partner’s killer, who rather conveniently just had eye surgery and can’t drive (or in reality, do anything but you have to suspend disbelief) hires him to drive and forces him into service as his unwilling partner for the evening.
They become the ultimate odd couple, Vic helping Stu to man up, Stu helping Vic to tap into his softer side. Will Stu be able to save the day, get the girl, and maintain the highly coveted 5 star rating that all Uber drivers desire?