In Which Detroit is Rebuked, Cloudy Rains Again and Free Style is Disciplined…


Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Detroit Lions

Photo Credit: Andy Emcee

Photo Credit: Andy Emcee

If I were Detroit I’d really hate Pittsburgh right now. Think about it.  Last month, during the G-20 conference hundreds of articles were published revealing how Pittsburgh avoided the scythe of the Recession Reaper by focusing on green innovation, education and health care. In many of these same articles Detroit was mentioned as an example of how a city can really f*ck things up. In the eyes of the world it seems that Pittsburgh represents a 21st Century embodiment of Bensalem, the Utopian Island found in Bacon’s New Atlantis, while Detroit is a Bartertown where the Thunderdome has closed shop and Master/Blaster can’t find a job.

Photo Credit: MichiganMoves

Photo Credit: MichiganMoves

Yet this socio-economic juxtaposition is nothing compared to the recent inter-city sports drama– in the realm of athletic competition, the specter of the Steel City continues to haunt the Motor City like Banquo’s ghost at Macbeth’s banquet.

During the Stanley Cup finals in June, the Pittsburgh Penguins entered Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena and became the first team to win a Finals Game 7 on the road since 1971.  Not heartbreaking enough? How about this past Monday when the Detroit Tigers completed a historic baseball collapse, becoming the first team in major-league history to lose a division title after holding a three-game lead with four to play. And who is the manager of the Detroit Tigers? Jim Leyland, the beloved former skipper of the Pittsburgh Pirates who still resides in… (You guessed it) Pittsburgh.

Now the Detroit Lions, fresh off last season’s historically execrable 0-16 season, play host to the Super-Bowl-winning Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday afternoon. Anyone willing to bet that this will be the weekend where Detroit’s luck will change? Didn’t think so.


Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs

And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven. And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutes, it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

–Acts, Chapter 9, The Holy Bible, King James Version

cloudy_with_a_chance_of_meatballs_ver3Three weeks ago I dismissed Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs with a flip, one sentence evisceration. I indulged in my cleverness until almost universally positive reviews poured down on the film like its eponymous food. By the end of that Friday, I began to have the creeping fear that my prognostication would take its ignominious place in the Hall of Bad Predictions alongside “Dewey Defeats Truman,” finding W.M.D’s in Iraq and the all-but-certain success of Crystal Pepsi.

That weekend I hesitantly went to see the film in IMAX 3D, hoping that my instinctual aesthetic standards would be proven correct, allowing me to  gloat over the spurious taste of the critical masses. But as the old Yiddish proverb goes, “Man plans, God laughs.” And so, like Galileo Galilei, I stand ready to renounce my previous statements on Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Quite simply, it was a blast. One of the best cinematic experiences I’ve had all year. A movie that works equally well for children and adults, it manages to capture that same sense of awe, adventure and humor that made Up such a masterwork.  While there are minor flaws to nitpick, I shall not do that here. If my previous blogumn caused you to not see the film (considering Cloudy’s supersized box office returns, I somehow doubt that), then I can only hope that this one makes you see it ASAP.


Free Style

Whenever I need to find something to fit into the “Wouldn’t ______ If You Paid Me” category, I simply take a deep breath and look at a list of upcoming movie releases, which has never failed to provide me with more-than-enough fodder for ridicule. Case in Point: Free Style.

Not that the trailer needs any further mockery (picking on Free Style is about as easy as picking on Detroit), but I just wanted to share with you four short observations I gleaned from watching it. A free style on Free Style, if you will:

1. The 2009 Definition of Insanity Award goes to 20th Century Fox. In the entire history of humanity has there ever been a dirt bike / motocross / BMX movie that has been any good or made any money? In fact, the 1980’s seemed to prove that instead of actually bringing people to theaters, this sub genre actually has the power to keep people away. Does anyone remember The Dirt Bike Kid, BMX Bandits, Rad, or Winners Take All?


No? Me neither.

2. Welcome back to the world of feature films, Penelope Ann Miller. We’ve missed you! However, before you get too far into your comeback, may I offer some advice? Why yes, you say? Great. Here goes: For your next movie, please ask the hair and makeup department to give you a hair style that doesn’t make you look like the second coming of Pat Nixon.


3. Speaking of our 37th First Family, who wants to make a bet that Free Style’s leading man, High School Musical-alum Corbin Bleu is currently engaging in late night bouts of Nixonian boozing and paranoiac monologing over the fact that his career will soon go the way of the dodo once Jaden Smith gets pubic hair?  (I’m sorry, I know he’s a Brando to the Tweeners, but I just can’t look at his name — Corbin Bleu — without thinking about ham, Swiss cheese and chicken.)

4. You know a studio lacks faith in a movie when the marketing budget doesn’t cover a professional voiceover announcer. I mean, where did they get the guy on the trailer? He sounds like the announcer of a community access special about teenagers with STD’s. Somewhere in heaven, Don LaFontaine is laughing.

P.S. If Free Style wins the Best Picture Oscar or goes on to gross more money than Titanic, I refuse to write a retraction.