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DVD Review: Historical Figures are Cheersed in the Brilliant ‘Drunk History: Seasons 1 & 2'

Drunk History Seasons 1 & 2, 2014

CHICAGO – The awesomeness of history loses any of its stuffiness with the incredibly fun, indeed educational show “Drunk History” from Comedy Central, its two seasons now released on DVD. Hosted by its creator Derek Waters, the show is a celebration of various historic figures and their under-appreciated true tales, as expressed by funny people narrating in the universal language of inebriation; their recounts are then reenacted by famous actors working with their given dialogue, dressed with the comic cheapness of a bloated biopic.

Slideshow: Weird Al Yankovic Releases New Parody Song ‘Tacky’

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The new single from Weird Al Yankovic is ‘Tacky.’

CHICAGO – Cyberspace has been all abuzz in the last couple of days as “Weird Al” Yankovic released his newest parody song, “Tacky,” which skewers Pharrell William’s “Happy.” The video for “Tacky” features Aisha Tyler, Margaret Cho, Kristen Schaal and Jack Black, and is part of Weird Al’s new album, “Mandatory Fun.”

Blu-ray Review: Jack Black in Richard Linklater’s Clever ‘Bernie’

Bernie

CHICAGO – Richard Linklater’s “Bernie” is one of those unusual stories that is so bizarre that it has to be true. It is the saga of Bernie Tiede (Jack Black), a closeted, affable mortician who befriended an irascible, cranky woman named Majorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine). After years of psychological abuse, he shot her in the back and stored her in the freezer in their garage. As he does with all of his projects, Linklater approaches this true story from a unique, entertaining angle. He’s simply one of our best living filmmakers and “Bernie” is merely further proof.

Film Review: Tour de Force for Jack Black in Fact-Based ‘Bernie’

CHICAGO – Jack Black is a smart and interesting actor. Not content to ride on the modern day John Belushi-type roles that might have pigeonholed him, Black portrays “Bernie,” a convincing conniver in Texas, based on a true story. Veterans Matthew McConaughhey and Shirley MacLaine add spice to the brew.

Blu-ray Review: Fantastic Release For Joyful, Fun ‘The Muppets’

The Muppets

CHICAGO – God, I love “The Muppets.” It’s such a wonderful, joyful, fun movie. As someone who is forced to see dozens of family films a year, I can tell you that most of them are not full of joy. They are full of pop culture references and gross-out jokes but they are nowhere near as smart, fun, or fantastic as “The Muppets,” a great movie with a great Blu-ray set that will stand the test of time.

Blu-ray Review: Remarkably Talented Ensemble Gets Small in ‘The Big Year’

The Big Year

CHICAGO – Given the wacky nature of Owen Wilson, Jack Black, and Steve Martin in their family comedies and the tendency of all three talented actors to over-act, people will probably be surprised at how generally-subdued their collaboration on “The Big Year” ended up. In fact, while the movie is genial and good-natured, it’s also surprisingly dull. The characters never resonate beyond their descriptions - rookie, veteran, and the jerk in between. So, while the filmmakers deserve credit for not injecting the proceedings with gross-out humor, they needed to inject it with something to bring it to life.

Film Review: ‘The Muppets’ is Hilarious, Joyful Entertainment

CHICAGO – The Muppets stand on such a pedestal for an entire generation that there was an understandable amount of trepidation when it was announced that Jason Segel and Disney were moving forward with a reboot. How could it possibly live up to our expectations?

Film Review: Owen Wilson, Steve Martin, Jack Black Flock Up in ‘The Big Year’

The Big Year

CHICAGO – “The Big Year” is advertised as a comedy. The subject is bird watching, or as the new film likes to express the proper term, “birding.” It stars comic legend Steve Martin, and funnymen Jack Black and Owen Wilson. It is both not funny and is ACTUALLY, seriously about birding. Time to fly away.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 40 Pairs of Chicago Passes to ‘The Big Year’ With Jack Black, Steve Martin

CHICAGO – In our latest comedy edition of HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film, we have 40 admit-two movie passes up for grabs to the advance Chicago screening of “The Big Year” with Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson from “The Devil Wears Prada” director!

Film Review: More or Less Same Formula in ‘Kung Fu Panda 2’

CHICAGO – Good and evil, chase and fight. Those are the two basic formulas that dominate “Kung Fu Panda 2,” the sequel to the very popular first film. That redundancy is helped by the spirituality of an animated panda and some spectacular 3D rendering.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Drunk History Seasons 1 & 2, 2014

    CHICAGO – The awesomeness of history loses any of its stuffiness with the incredibly fun, indeed educational show “Drunk History” from Comedy Central, its two seasons now released on DVD. Hosted by its creator Derek Waters, the show is a celebration of various historic figures and their under-appreciated true tales, as expressed by funny people narrating in the universal language of inebriation; their recounts are then reenacted by famous actors working with their given dialogue, dressed with the comic cheapness of a bloated biopic.

  • Happy Christmas

    CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.

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