BB2 Monthly Assessment: January ’15


So. How are your New Years’ Resolutions going???
Better yet: How are those resolutions you set last year in January 2014?????

The point of setting a personal “resolution” is usually to make one’s self better in some way, big or small, via a positive change in life. This change must be achieved with a consistently changed habit. Changing a habit is one of the most challenging things a living being can experience, because it forces us to consistently think about the little things we are doing on the daily. When pursued for the right reasons and supported by consistency, it can often lead to the strongest of development for you in major ways. We often think of dietary/physical change as one of the biggest, but it doesn’t really matter what the change is – what matters is that you stick to it in order to transform. Here’s an example that I was absolutely taking for granted.

Just over a year ago now, I dislocated my shoulder while stretching. My arm popped completely out of the socket for about 90 seconds while watching Johnson Family Vacation (could have influenced the rating I gave the movie upon reviewing it months ago) and it was, to date, the worst physical pain I have ever felt. Prior to this, I was rather double-jointed – as in, I could do the rolling the arms over the shoulder thing. However, after my accident, I definitely could not stretch my arms over & behind my shoulders anymore. This meant every single time I went stretch (which was a pretty good amount per day), I couldn’t really extend myself too much. If I was around my mother, she would have to remind me to put my arms down. Of course, I’d be instantly annoyed because I usually did this absent-mindedly. But that’s part of the point – I had to  make a conscious decision to keep myself from doing that in order to avoid the possibility of disconnecting my arms again. Because let me tell you – it was not fun the first time around!

Changing a habit involves a conscious decision to do so, followed by an intentful consistency in keeping yourself evolving. That is what’s currently helping me to keep myself physically in tact in the limbs department. I kind of need these things to last for a while (just saying). The same goes for any habit you may want to change about yourself for the better! Are you seeking to better your relationships, a physical attribute, or being bad at mornings? (I’m still working on that one.) Take that thing, program it into your daily life, have a person nearby to keep you honest about it, and push through the frustrations. This was a small example, but I’m still dealing with it and probably will for a while. However, it’s giving me the right kind of motivation and perseverance in small ways that I’ll need on other things on a larger scale.

So I ask again: how are your habit-changing lifestyles going?

-BB2

Advertisements

Blake Shelton’s SNL Needed More Riblet


The hype for a certain kind of SNL host is the most interesting thing. Blake Shelton is, obviously, a major part of another NBC show, The Voice. While many enjoy his music as well as his personality on the show, that doesn’t always guarantee that someone will make a great component of a sketch comedy show. Do surprises occur? All the time. However…last night wasn’t the good kind of surprise. Shelton seemed game for anything given to him, but most of the material he was involved with seemed either thin (less sketches, which led to killing time by the end…) or like one big ol’ commercial for NBC. I get why these things have to happen (because ratings, because NBC, because promotion) but when the focus is more on someone’s presence, it takes away from the material…and what we got was a rare miss in an otherwise very good SNL season. I found myself more bored than anything on all sketches Blake Shelton was in. (The good news: Weekend Update was the best it’s ever been this year.)

On to a ho-down of a scorecard!

COLD OPEN: INSIDE NFL (Thompson, Bennett, Killam, McKinnon, Mooney, Zamata, Pharoah, Moynihan)
Bobby Moynihan = MVP of this sketch as soon as he started yelling about the balls. As it turned out, he was the MVP of this episode and I wish there was a little more of him throughout the evening. The concept here produced a few good lines (Beck Bennett’s Bill Belichick was pretty great), but even if this was on point with the recent press conference & suspicions, Taran Killam’s Tom Brady having to be basically dumb instead of in a defensive denial (maybe?) could have been focused a little differently…just me.
Blackometer: 6.5/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/patriots-press-conference-cold-open-084617628.html

BLAKE SHELTON MONOLOGUE (Shelton, Moynihan, Killam, Pharoah, Jones, Davidson, Strong, Bayer)
This was a moderately creative way for Blake Shelton to show that he could be a fun host and put a little of himself into his role here. It almost worked! The best part was Pete Davidson’s brief roast lines. Not much going on here, but otherwise…Shelton looked like he was having fun.
Blackometer: 6/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/hee-haw-monologue-084616968.html

FARM HUNK (Shelton, Strong, Bayer, McKinnon, Zamata, Bryant, Jones)
This sketch was only worth it for the final Leslie Jones appearance (who can save almost any sketch, and I look forward to the day she becomes a big star and returns to host SNL). Meanwhile, this sketch went on way too long for lines that didn’t leave too much of any lasting impact aside from Kate McKinnon & Aidy Bryant’s deliveries. Blake Shelton didn’t have much to add here other than some creepy stiltedness…but they may as well have replaced him with a cardboard cutout and it would’ve been about the same.
Blackometer: 4/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/farm-hunk-084617003.html

WISHING BOOT (Shelton, McKinnon, Bryant, Pharoah)
Blake Shelton sings! Watching this, I felt like it would serve well as the random song during an episode of Spongebob. No, really. It definitely sounds like something you’d hear pop up in a nonsensical, over-emotional country song. I may have found this that interesting due purely based on my own interests in country songs, but it was at least well done & everyone in it is good.
Blackometer: 6/10
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YA756ItcL-s

CELEBRITY FAMILY FEUD (Thompson, Shelton, Killam, Pharoah, Strong, McKinnon, Zamata, Bennett, Mooney)
You know, the thing that made the other two installments of this sketch were memorable host performances along with the ensemble. The first time, Jimmy Fallon fell apart at Justin Timberlake’s impression of him. The second time, Andrew Garfield killed as an overly-hammy Justin Timberlake. This time…it was pretty much just a sloppy but direct promo for NBC’s The Voice (they literally announce it) with Shelton playing himself, not really offering anything fun. The others did the best they could (Killam’s Adam Levine was spot on), but ultimately, there wasn’t much here with the material to make it good. Also, I usually enjoy Kenan’s Steve Harvey, but it’s getting farther and farther away from the real person each time. (Though, “not in my neighborhood” was funny.)
ONE MORE THING. Does anyone still watch American Idol? Because I haven’t since maybe 2007, but nothing about the teams featured here led me to believe I should start again. (It was nice to Kate McKinnon’s Keith Urban again, but that’s about it.)
Blackometer:  2.5/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/celebrity-family-feud-084617142.html

WEEKEND UPDATE (Jost, Che, Moynihan, Davidson, Zamata)
Weekend Update was the lone saving grace of this episode. All of the material was sharp, hilarious, slightly different, and made for one of the best Updates of the season so far. I truly think Colin Jost has been getting better and better behind the desk this year – his first SOTU/Patriots joke had him firing shots right out of the gates immediately, which was great! He and Michael Che especially seemed a little looser than usual (“You look so stupid…”) and the pieces of camaraderie we got between the two of them felt very much like the audience could enjoy the comedy with them a little more.
Riblet jeering Che was one of the funniest ‘goofball’ kind of things to show up on Update, reminding me of things we would’ve seen during the Fey-Fallon Update days. I hope next time, he’s already behind the desk with Colin at the start of Update, with a furious Che showing up to kick him out. Pete Davidson‘s bit was an echo of his first appearance in September (still the best one) but he’s still just great to watch all the same. The best parts of Sasheer’s Nicole were Colin and Bobby. That’s all I’m gonna say. Meanwhile, I hope Sasheer can still find a breakout character soon…but I feel she’s getting closer lately.
Man, this was all great.
Blackometer: 9/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/weekend-part-1-084617831.html
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/weekend-part-2-084617903.html

PAROLE BOARD
 (Thompson, Shelton, Strong, Moynihan)
So, was Kenan supposed to be an echo of Morgan Freeman in Shawshank Redemption? Either way, he’s a cannibal…and that’s about it. Really. Okay. At least it was weird, I guess. In other news, Kenan’s voice here sounds like Sump’n Claus. I would rather have watched that. Kenan was as committed as ever in this, but once the concept was revealed, it got boring fast.
Blackometer: 3.5/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/parole-board-084617375.html

MY DARLIN’ JOAN (Moynihan, Zamata, Killam, Shelton)
Whoever took those great old-times pictures of Taran Killam & Kate McKinnon deserves a raise. Not super memorable, but far more interesting than other non-Update things on this show. It kind of reminded me of Jon Hamm’s “Hamm & Buble” sketch a few years back when he forced Michael Buble to sing against his will for his business idea. Also, more Blake Shelton singing.
Blackometer: 6.5/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/darlin-joan-102704984.html

MAGICIAN (Killam, Thompson, Bryant, Shelton, Bennett, McKinnon)
Ugh. Where do I start? This sketch is everything wrong with getting a host that just doesn’t offer much to once you get past “oh look the famous singer” (or athlete, or whatever). This concept might have been funnier in different hands, and Taran Killam is practically sweating trying to make it all work aside the pestering/annoying Blake Shelton skeptic. But in the end, this was nothing but a lame, cheap ploy at comedy, and it continued to go on and on, snowballing as it deconstructed. Blake Shelton’s big “twist” line was a very desperate shot for a “shock laugh.” In fact, that’s all these types famous-personality-host-focused types of episode become – desperate.
Blackometer: 1/10
https://screen.yahoo.com/snl/magician-084617793.html

Best Sketch of the Night: Weekend Update
Worst Sketch of the Night: Magician
Joke of the Night: “This Wednesday was National Hug Day…Dad.” – Jost
Observations: Other than Bobby Moynihan being the MVP of this show, there’s not much else to say about it. It was the first time all season in which I was mostly pretty bored or annoyed, sans Weekend Update. Blake Shelton seems like a nice guy and all, and from what I hear he’s a pretty fun & talented individual. But I’d rather see a host who can offer contributions to a great episode of SNL with good sketch writing & acting…rather than here’s a host because ratings and the internet. Alas, I’m sure next week’s show hosted by an actor will provide much better material.

My advice: Don’t feel bad about skipping this one and re-watching last week’s Kevin Hart-hosted episode.

BLACKOMETER AVERAGE: 5.0

Next time: J.K. Simmons!
-BB2

Martin Freeman: 6.98
Bill Hader
: 6.91
Kevin Hart: 6.86
James Franco: 6.81
Woody Harrelson: 6.80
Jim Carrey
: 6.80
Cameron Diaz: 6.78
Sarah Silverman: 6.78
Chris Pratt: 6.54
Amy Adams: 6.18
Chris Rock: 5.75
Blake Shelton: 5

Kevin Hart Fires Shots on SNL

Kevin Hart returned to host SNL for his second time – his first hosting gig brought about one of the best commercial parodies ever, Z-Shirt. Just as before in 2013, Kevin Hart brought a grand amount of energy and character to everything he was doing, which made the strong material amazingly entertaining, and the lesser material at least a little more enjoyable at best. (Pretty much an echo of his recently heavy movie career.) Last night had him used well as himself, a talk show host, a talk show stage hand, rap artist, and even James Brown. So how did things pan out? On to a pretty excitable the scorecard!

COLD OPEN: MARTIN LUTHER KING  (Davidson, McKinnon, Thompson)
Hey, we get Kenan Thompson as MLK again! Last time he appeared after Obama’s second inauguration, and he talked about things he observed were happening in America. This time, he appeared as a spirit guide to Pete Davidson, who can’t finish his school report but this time it’s him telling Dr. King about what’s different. The individual jokes followed with Kenan’s MLK yelling ‘mountain!’ were all pretty great (If I’m MLK, I wouldn’t mind my boulevard being a nice neighborhood w/gardens). These usually end with a nicer, more convincing message, and something to say more than “well, this is where we are now, and that’s that.” I wish there was a little more here than “I’m just gonna copy-paste my report about all the progress you’ve made.” Doesn’t that undercut things a bit?
Blackometer: 6.5/10
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZ_jp11WxC8

KEVIN HART MONOLOGUE (Hart)
Kevin Hart dives right into some standup on his story about a burglar-type raccoon in his new neighborhood. Honestly, I could listen to Kevin Hart tell a story about bread and be entertained. (My personal favorite is the bum bump story, which he told a lighter version of last time he hosted. But anyway.) Fact: black people just do not like going outside in the dark when there’s animals on the loose. “You don’t need thumbs to scare me!” and “this is YOUR journey” are examples of why Kevin Hart is good at what he does.
Blackometer: 9/10
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jH_OI3Sfo0U

CALVIN KLEIN ADS (McKinnon, Strong)
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Kate McKinnon’s Justin Bieber is a national treasure. Also, I was really hoping for a third installment of these during the show (which appears here!!).
Blackometer: 8/10
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXvo6ksBHnI

WHY’D YOU POST THAT? (Hart, Bayer, Bryant, Mooney)
First of all, this sketch has a point. People do post stupid things on Instagram. Unfortunately, it was subject to some technical issues that fought against how committed Kevin Hart was. However, I did like the ending sign-off line “please don’t post pictures of coffee.” (Confession: I post pictures of my starbucks semi-frequently. Sorry, SNL.) This serves as another great example of Kevin Hart trying hard to elevate even the best of material, but it wasn’t super great to begin with. You get the point pretty quick, and there are worse things on Instagram than what these people were doing that deserve this kind of discipline.
Blackometer: 3/10
http://www.hulu.com/watch/739053#i1,p0,d1

CORNER BOYS (Hart, Thompson, Pharaoh, Bayer)
It was funny seeing Kevin Hart walking all those dogs after everything he said about the raccoon in the monologue. The gentlemen had a great repartee during the whole thing about making pretty tamely white things sound pretty tough and ‘normal’. Best line: “you sound like someone put gluten in your muffin.” Anyway, this was great.
Blackometer: 8/10
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wAsBta25OGQ

GET ON UP (Hart, Thompson, Killam, Moynihan, Bennett, Mooney, Pharaoh, Zamata, Strong, Davidson)
I was pretty excited for this sketch when it started, showcasing Kevin Hart as James Brown, because, why not? It technically doesn’t get out of first gear, but it’s a fun ensemble piece, Kevin Hart is a blast as James Brown, and I now want to know why one of his singers got married on a Tuesday and changed her first name. Also, I want to attend a concert like this.
Blackometer: 7.5/10
http://www.hulu.com/watch/739054#i1,p0,d1


SOAP OPERA REUNION (Bryant, McKinnon, Killam, Zamata, Bayer, Strong, Hart)
My favorite part of this sketch is just how great Taran Killam does the “artsy celebrity walking.” I also found Vanessa Bayer’s cartoony walking music funnier than it deserved. This is a silly thing, but ultimately there’s not much to it other than ‘funny entrance music.’
Blackometer: 5/10
http://www.hulu.com/watch/739040#i1,p10,d1

WEEKEND UPDATE (Jost, Che, McKinnon)
Kate McKinnon appeared as Colin’s neighbor to talk about dealing with bad neighbors. A few good lines here or there, but not largely as much fun as Michael Che’s neighbor Willie from last month (my own opinion.) A few great show-pausing jokes (especially from Jost, still piling on the Bill Cosby stuff), one quick segment, and they kept this one shorter after a long first half of the show. Not the most memorable Update this season, but pretty solid all the same. I’m sure if they had more time, we could have gotten something like Pete Davidson or Leslie Jones talking. Anyway, Colin Jost was great this week – his deliveries on jokes get me a little more each week.
Blackometer: 6.5/10
http://www.hulu.com/watch/739048#i2,p0,d2 (Part 1)
http://www.hulu.com/watch/739047#i2,p0,d2 (Part 2)

THE JOURNEY (Thompson, Hart, Killam, Strong, Zamata, Jones)
A sketch in the same vein as the 90s ‘Cobras & Panthers’ sketch with Robert Downey Jr., in which both opposing gangs go into song dance choreography, while one person questions why they are breaking into song. This one focuses more on the broadway-style drama of it all, which keeps things not as memorable, but definitely still fun. There wasn’t much to this one, but the best parts were Kevin Hart overreacting and, again, Taran Killam nailing “overly dramatic performance by someone having a ‘moment’.” (The singing is pretty good, though!)
Blackometer: 6/10
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zXmgH_plz8

KEVIN’S SON (Hart, Jones, Pharaoh)
Even if this is just a chance to take a break and let Jay Pharaoh do his Kevin Hart impression, it was still a ton of fun to watch. Leslie Jones must have practiced keeping a straight face over the holidays, because a month ago she might have have lost it when the Hart & Pharaoh were standing next to each other.
Blackometer: 7/10
http://www.hulu.com/watch/739045#i1,p5,d1

LISTENING PARTY (Hart, Pharaoh, Jones, Moynihan, Davidson, Bennett, Killam, Strong, Thompson)
One of the best uses of Kevin Hart all night. His nonstop energy plus some pretty funny reactions to the secrets made for some good comedy. I completely lost it at the reveal of Pete Davidson eating gummy bears.
Blackometer: 9/10
http://www.hulu.com/watch/739049#i1,p5,d1

Best Sketch of the Night: Kevin Hart Monologue & Listening Party
Worst Sketch of the Night: Why’d You Post That?
Joke of the Night: “Harry is a Muslim but he eats pork. He pops gummy gears all day…gummy bears have gelatin, and gelatin comes from pigs. That’s pork! You didn’t know that, did you?!? Dumb b****!” – Hart
Observations: Kevin Hart came with some stellar, contagious energy that lasted all night, right up to the last minute! Some of the lesser material that would have sank completely in the hands of a different host was raised with just his high-energy spirit being involved. The strongest parts of the show may have been the second half, but it was a generally solid show all things considered.

BLACKOMETER AVERAGE: 6.86

Sia went for a rather artistic, emotional set with per music. It was highly interesting to watch…but she was mumbling through ‘Chandelier’ so much that it took away from the presentation as a whole. Not sure how someone can make a singing career without diction. But that’s just me.

Next time: Blake Shelton!
-BB2

Martin Freeman: 6.98
Bill Hader
: 6.91
Kevin Hart: 6.86
James Franco: 6.81
Woody Harrelson: 6.80
Jim Carrey
: 6.80
Cameron Diaz: 6.78
Sarah Silverman: 6.78
Chris Pratt: 6.54
Amy Adams: 6.18
Chris Rock: 5.75

BB2’s Best, Worst, and Favorite 2014 Movie Reviews

I reviewed nearly 50 movies in 2014. Most got a rating on the Blackometer from 1-10, and some I simply wrote about with a “Top 10” list (or whatever number). Out of all of those, here are my subjective best & worst movies, and my favorite reviews to write. Enjoy!

WORST movies I reviewed in 2014
:
(Only 4…because I can only take so much garbage)

  1. VH1’s Man in the Mirror: I didn’t rate this one, but it gets everything wrong. The biggest thing is that it’s about someone’s life. I wrote this in August and after the Aliyah biopic came out, this somehow got a lot of viewing traffic.

  2. Love Don’t Cost a Thing: One of my earliest reviews. So bad, I had 12 things under ‘what doesn’t work’ and a section called ‘people I missed during this movie’ as well as ‘actual lines from the movie I hated.’

  3. Madea’s Family Reunion (Play): The worst of all of Tyler Perry’s play…and somehow, this was the first one I ever saw as a kid, and I kept watching. I’m glad I kept watching his shows. I’m not glad that this play sucks.

  4. House Party 4: Most pointless thing ever put to film. So bad, I couldn’t even rate it – I just listed the top 20 things WRONG with it. My brother tricked me into watching this, and I haven’t been the same since.

BEST movies I reviewed in 2014:

  1. Dreamgirls: Still one of my all-time favorite movies. SO well done.

  2. Prince of Egypt: One of the best things every put to animation, and it still holds up magnificently.

  3. Into the Woods: Without a doubt, one of the best movies to hit the big screen in 2014. Meryl Streep deserves all the awards.

  4. Beauty and the Beast: My favorite Disney film, and everything is perfect about it. Period. In other news, GASTON.

  5. Pitch Perfect: I wrote about how good this movie is, and why it deserves a sequel. It will probably always be a favorite of mine, and it was one of my earliest ‘I can throw gifs in my posts?! Cool!!!’ posts.

TOP 10 Reviews That were the most fun to write:

  1. Fat Albert (The most viewed post on my site! What an impact this movie has had…I suppose.)

  2. Why Did I Get Married?

  3. Dreamgirls

  4. Beauty Shop

  5. Pitch Perfect

  6. Anchorman

  7. Princess and the Frog

  8. Beauty and the Beast

  9. Madea Goes to Jail

  10. Muppet Treasure Island

Here’s to more movies in 2015!
-BB2