Review: Labor Day

Labor Day - directed by Jason Reitman, starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin

My proposed tagline: 98% more pie than in all other movies this year could possibly have even though it’s only January.

Oh, boy! What a movie of sensual delights rendered in PG pie form. It’s 9-1/2 Weeks for a new, conservative, gluten-fearing generation! Who needs passion when you have pie! What a delicious movie. Excuse me; I get ahead of myself. There is more to this movie than pie. Spoiler alert: there isn’t.

Poor Kate Winslet is so, so sweaty and sad because it’s Labor Day and her husband (the bald guy who dies in The Avengers, but is alive again in “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) is spending his life with his new wife and family. All sweaty Kate has to do is swing in a hammock with her teenage son while she explains how wonderful sex is and he begs her to shut up. It’s a pretty boring and strange existence until Josh Brolin, escaped murderer (Don’t worry! Let him explain! He’s a nice murderer!) forces the family to let him stay with them and make them chili. Yes, the murderer makes them chili with coffee in it to add a depth of flavor because OH MY GOD HE IS THE BEST MARRY HIM, KATE.

So everything is great except the Tobey Maguire voice over that is the adult version of the teenage son is kind of wistful and sad about this story he’s telling about his younger days, so we know something is going to go wrong, don’t we. Tobey Maguire’s sad voice doesn’t show up for a Bildungsroman with no tragic parts, no way, no how. That would be a waste of Spiderman and that, we cannot have in this Marvel universe.

The next day, Kate comes downstairs to see Future Tobey and Josh enjoying breakfast the way a father and son should. Not like Future Tobey’s real dad who can’t fix stairs or make chili or accidentally murder his wife and go to prison for it and then escape from prison and hold a family hostage. So lame. As if the chili wasn’t a feat of almost magical Will Smith in The Legend of Bagger Vance proportions, Josh has made some kind of giant drop biscuits so amazing, Future Josh tells his mother she has to try them. When she does, well, the look she gives it worth the price of admission. That big ball of four might as well be the secret of the universe that can only be understood by eating it. MARRY HIM KATE! He makes dinner AND breakfast foods that make all your parts water!

So Kate and Josh and Future Tobey are having a great time hanging out, not going out, not having people over, sweating, and generally celebrating Labor Day the way it was meant to be celebrated, that is until a neighbor comes by to check on Kate. Oh, NO! The neighbor has brought a giant bucket of peaches for Kate! Quick thinking Future Tobey tells the neighbor his mom is taking a bath, which averts disaster momentarily, but the bigger problem is how will they eat all these delicious ripe peaches? OH GOD how will they ever eat all of these peaches before they go bad? Kate suggests they just throw them away, but Josh has another plan. He’ll give an entire baking lesson to his new fake wife and fake son then sensually squish peaches in a bowl with them. It’s like that clay scene in Ghost only stickier and with a kid there too.

Then I guess they eat the pie, but director Jason Reitman is too much of an idiot to show that part. Instead we get more shots of Kate Winslet looking frizzy and worried. Does he not understand that the core of his own film is how amazing food is? And how getting held hostage is fine as long as there is pie involved?

Pretty soon, really soon actually since almost the whole movie takes place over three days, things get more serious with Kate and Josh and they decide to run away to Canada and start a new life full of Canadian bacon scones and maple syrup custard pies. It’s Revolutionary Road crossed with Little Children, an episode of “Barefoot Contessa”, and a dusting of No Country for Old Men. It did make me want to try putting coffee in my chili, so you could say this movie has changed my life.

But I digress. Everything is going great until Future Tobey gets picked up by Dawson from “Dawson’s Creek” who is a “cop” that is “suspicious” but mostly he just wears a hat and stares at all the stuff in Kate’s car and leaves to make a pilot for USA or whatever James David Van Der Beek is doing these days. Once things start going wrong in a movie like this, you know they’re just going to go wronger. And wronger they go, indeed. The cops show up and Josh goes back to jail for 25 years. End of story.

OR IS IT? Years pass, Kate is sad and Future Tobey grows up into a different actor. Eventually actual Tobey Maguire shows up. He’s a small business owner of what? A PIE company. That’s right! That one pie making experience was so profound he decided to dedicate his life to making pie. We know this because a bunch of ladies are making pie behind him while he looks at something and acts like the boss. Life (I mean, pie) works in mysterious ways though, because the multi-page spread about Tobey’s amazing pie in, uh, Pie Aficionado Magazine catches the eye of Josh, moldering away in a prison where magazines about pies are apparently common reading material. Josh is more beardy, but just as spry as ever, so he writes Tobey a letter asking if he can contact Kate. Pie has brought them together once more if only Tobey will let it! The pie entrepreneur (piepreneur?) reads the letter in bed with his wife who we know is his wife because she has brown hair and looks worried and they are both wearing rings. Their characters are almost too interesting. So of course Tobey is fine with his mom being happy so Kate and Josh meet up and are still in love even though she has strange old person makeup on now. The movie ends with them walking out by some corn which Josh will probably shuck and grind into some amazing polenta dish.

So what is the point of this story? Love (of pie) is all you need. That which God (pie) hath joined together, let no man may put asunder. You are never alone when you have love (pie). The skill you learn when an escaped murderer stays at your house is the skill you will one day use to make a living (pie).

Why am I craving pie now?

The Office Jumped The Shark of Comedy And Landed On The Porpoise Of Gloomy Reality

When the American version of The Office first aired what feels now like fifty years ago, it was a charming little show. It wasn’t groundbreaking, Anglophiles and film students kept reminding us, it was only a faded copy of the greatness that the Ricky Gervais’ The Office had been, but to the viewers of network TV comedy it was a bemused reflection of the ordinary dramas of an ordinary workplace. The boss was an idiot, but whose boss isn’t? Dwight, the weird guy who grew beets and was obsessed with self defense was a variation of that weird guy in the office most of us have come into contact with at one point or another. The “will they or won’t they” romance between Pam, the receptionist and Jim, a paper salesman was sweet and hopeful. All the ordinary people expressing their subtle or not so subtle strangeness was delicate and mild, like a vanilla latte.

And then the years dragged on and on and on..and on. What had been a bunch of wacky young or youngish people became a group of older people in a place they didn’t care about surrounded by coworkers they didn’t really respect, led by a man who craved their love more than the success of the company. The Michael Scott of season one was quirky and aggravating, but the odd selection of replacements that has followed (James Spader, Catherine Tate, Ed Helms) have cranked the quirk level up as the subtlety of the show has decreased. It never was a great show, but somewhere around the time Jim and Pam finally got together, it became the sitcom it always pretended it wasn’t - a relationship comedy in the vein of Friends or Two and A Half Men.

Yes, I said it. I invoked Two and a Half Men, but the show really has gotten that depressing. And why shouldn’t it? It’s a comedy set in the workplace of a not very successful paper company during a recession. Jim and Pam, rather than being just a boring couple like Ross and Rachel, have become emblematic of a tight fearful economic time, when taking risks and expecting big rewards seems like an unwise path. Jim never respected his job or the people around him because he knew he could do more. Picking on Dwight and romancing Pam away from her fiance was his way of reminding himself he was smarter than this, better than this, and that soon this office and everything in it would be a distant memory. In one particular episode Pam and Jim compare movies they love and Pam says Fargo is one of her favorites. Fargo? The timid receptionist loves Coen Brothers movies? She was striving to be more, went to art school, and then, in a move that made me give up on the show, quit and moved home to marry Jim. The Office has been on so long was have watched John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer go from young actors reveling in the first blush of success to lifers waiting out the series. Once they got married there was nothing else for the characters of Jim and Pam to do, but struggle with the contradiction of being the coolest people in the office who “totally get it” and being trapped in a boring life they backed into by talking themselves out of everything else. Ultimately, they weren’t too cool to try, they were too scared to try. Of course, the show required that these characters stay at Dunder Mifflin, we couldn’t follow their characters anymore if they didn’t, but how sadly does this mirror the lives of so many people. In what might be a brilliant move of sad editorializing, Jim and Pam’s ever diminishing opportunities to be interesting characters reflect may just reflect the diminishing opportunities of people in American cities like Scranton, OH. It does appear that Jim and Pam will finally be released to internet start-up success by the deus ex machina that is the series finale, but that’s TV for you. The car went over the cliff, but somehow Jim and Pam and the whole Office gang are going to drive off into the sunset to live out their dreams.

The Olympic Team

I have been watching the Olympics from the weird Industrial Revolution/Internet Rave opening ceremonies to Michael Phelps’ record breaking 19th Olympic medal swim last night. Normally I don’t really care about the Olympics that much. I certainly didn’t in 2008. I have basically zero recollection of the Olympics since the Los Angeles games in 1984 and even those memories are pretty fuzzy. This year though, it’s different. I have been living so long in a world where the difference between winning and losing is both arbitrary and mostly based on appearance, seeing people celebrated for working hard for doing something they love and excel at feels like a relief. The only reason these athletes are where they are is that they were lucky to be capable and trained that natural ability into a skill that would bring them the attention of the world.

But this isn’t the main thing I love about the Olympics. I love seeing Michael Phelps thank his teammates for giving him a lead in the 800 relay that allowed him to swim to gold. I love seeing Jordyn Wieber weeping in disappointment over not being able to compete for an individual gold medal only to cheer with her whole heart at the success of the teammates who will. They are part of the Olympics, the United States team, and then, finally, their team. The accomplishment of an individual is not diminished when it is shared. Reveling in success is only truly possible with fellow revelers. When someone has passion for something, anything, and can find like minded people to foster that passion, they are separated from the rest of the bored, apathetic world and allowed to be extraordinary.

Beavis Albert Nobbs

Beavis Albert Nobbs

Oh, my sweet Lord! That baby is going to grow up at eat us all.

Oh, my sweet Lord! That baby is going to grow up at eat us all.

I would run down to Forever 21 and buy these pants right now if my intention was to look stupid all day long.

I would run down to Forever 21 and buy these pants right now if my intention was to look stupid all day long.

I’m not going to eat Thai food with you.


And I’m sure as hell not going to spoon you in the afternoon with the AC blasting.

By far the most specific blog entry I’ve read in a while…

Wait, I know that name…

Wait, I know that name…

Boomer Profiles: Janey Winters - watch more funny videos


This is on the front page of Funny or Die today!

We miss you Ryan!

Yes, yes, we do indeed. Watch Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update Thursday tonight at 8pm!

Really, NBC? No one in all those slick ad man meetings said, “Hey, may-be that’s a bad juxtaposition of words, may-be combo might be offensive”?

Really, NBC? No one in all those slick ad man meetings said, “Hey, may-be that’s a bad juxtaposition of words, may-be combo might be offensive”?