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Interview: Director Douglas Tirola on ‘Drunk Brilliant Stoned Dead: The Story of the National Lampoon’

Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of National Lampoon

CHICAGO – Before the days of 24/7 internet access to every form of entertainment that exists, there were eras of radical performance expression that changed the landscape of attitudes toward everything – think of The Beatles evolving music and also changing social culture. The roots of another evolution, especially in comedy, began with a modest humor magazine that brought together the right mix of anarchists and misfits. What they did would influence comedy for years afterward, and their story is told in “Drunk Stoned Brilliant Dead: The Story of National Lampoon,” directed by Douglas Tirola.

Film Review: Tartan Prancer – Yes, a Fictional Albanian Car – Steals the Otherwise Borrowed Show in ‘Vacation’

CHICAGO – Retreads from classics are often as weary as having to write that they are almost never as good as the original. And here we go again with the Ed Helms-led “Vacation,” which fails to capitalize on the beloved Chevy Chase film “National Lampoon’s Vacation” from 1983.

Film Review: SNL Rightly Touts Its Influence in ‘Live From New York!’


CHICAGO – Love, hate or maintain indifference to it, the TV dinosaur “Saturday Night Live” has and will continue to influence American culture as long as it may reign. To celebrate its 40th Anniversary, filmmaker Bao Nguyen takes a fresh look at the iconic television show in “Live From New York!”

Film Review: Back to the Funny in ‘Hot Tub Time Machine 2’

CHICAGO – The concept is a hot tub, that also acts as a time machine. It practically writes itself! The too-meticulous plot of “Hot Tub Time Machine 2” still delivers a decent amount of laughs, although most of them fall under the crude and rude category. Better a cheap laugh than no laugh.

DVD Review: Frustrating Fourth Season of ‘Community’

Community S4

CHICAGO – The fourth season of NBC’s “Community” was its most controversial by some margin. The program was barely renewed, its showrunner (Dan Harmon) was unprofessionally fired, and the on-set feuds with co-star Chevy Chase continued. To start the fifth season, Chase is gone and Harmon is back. No one has made out well in the court of public opinion and the fourth season was sometimes unwatchable. You would never know any of this from the recently-released DVD set.

Blu-ray Review: ‘National Lampoon’s Vacation: 30th Anniversary’

National Lampoon's Vacation

CHICAGO – Few comedies from the ’80s are as beloved and rewatchable as “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” a surprise hit that produced multiple sequels and legions of fans. It’s probably playing somewhere on cable right now and will be for another three decades. However, in those cable airings, you won’t get to see the feature-length documentary, “Inside Story,” about the making of the film featuring new interviews with nearly all of the major players from Chevy Chase to Harold Ramis to Jane Krakowski. If you’re a comedy fan, the Blu-ray is worth picking up just for that special feature alone.

TV Review: Beaten, Battered ‘Community’ Finally Returns to NBC

CHICAGO – Rarely has a low-rated show survived as much off-screen drama as NBC’s “Community,” returning tonight to the network bruised, battered, and slightly damaged but still funnier and smarter than most of the alternatives. Where do we begin?

TV News: Comedy Central Adds ‘Community’ Off-Net Rights to Network


CHICAGO – It was only a few weeks ago when the cult favorite “Communtiy” didn’t have a home at all. Through two and a half seasons on NBC, the show was put on hiatus as the network decided what to do. Now, the hit comedy is returning to the NBC Thursday night lineup tomorrow night at 7 p.m. CST and it has also found a new home.

DVD Review: Brilliant Second Season of NBC’s ‘Community’

Community S2 Premiere

CHICAGO – The program most unforgivably missing from Sunday’s Emmy telecast is NBC’s brilliant comedy “Community.” It’s almost as if the Academy decided there were too many NBC shows at the party (“The Office,” “Parks and Recreation,” “30 Rock”) and so left out arguably the best of the Thursday night bunch. See the second season, now available on DVD, and see the level of Emmy injustice for yourself.

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  • Sherlock Holmes with David Arquette (teaser)

    CHICAGO – Different isn’t bad and might be great, but you’d better have an irrefutable reason to change what was never broken. Campy being the only word to accurately convey this alternate-reality version of Sherlock Holmes with an original script, writer Greg Kramer and director Andrew Shaver try too hard to be different without ever figuring out why.

  • Merry Widow, The

    CHICAGO – Standing up at the Lyric Opera house in Chicago is unusual before a show. But in this case, it was the night after a tragedy, and the operetta “The Merry Widow” – set in Paris, France, in 1905 – was about to unfold. The orchestra struck up La Marseillaise, a reminder that we’ll always have Paris.


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