Read it and Weep
Summary: Read it and Weep is a good podcast about bad books, movies, and TV. Each week 2.5 comedians and a guest make fun of things like Twilight by Stephanie Meyer, Dear John by Nicholas Sparks, Going Rogue by Sarah Palin, and anything Keanu Reeves has been in.
After a fifty year wait, Atlas Shrugged is finally a movie. Kind of. It's a movie the same way YouTube clips of people talking in limos and building train tracks would be a movie. The production values are just this side of a Lifetime Movie (Alternate title: "Not Without My Train Tracks"), but as an added bonus this movie definitively proved you can take a 1000 page book and cram that expansive feeling of boredom into a two-hour movie. Not to worry though, as we took that stagey drama and made stagey drama-ade. Comedienne Bri Pruett, came by to bring the pain and the funny. If you're in Portland be sure to catch her on 4/22/11 at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival. Also giving us a much-needed assist was the ever-insightful Comrade DougJ of Balloon Juice. Doug took the side of "pro-reason" in our first-ever tag team debate. Read it and Weep debates: Now with 50% more tags! Lastly, we'd like to give a shout out to Brian and Erin, who provided Ezra with the second most appropriate snack imaginable during the movie: Limited-Edition Reagan Library jelly beans. (The first was Rearden Popcorn.)
Something very strange is going on in Read it and Weep land. When Alex goes missing, Ezra, Chris, and Stephen have to call in celebrity blogger/ children's librarian Betsy Bird to try and find him. The most likely answer is that he's lost somewhere inside one of the most overrated kids' books of all time, so that's where this journey takes our heroes. The Giving Tree, Love You Forever, and The Rainbow Fish are all terrible, but which book is Alex stuck in? Will our intrepid trekkers save him in time? How do you say Rainbow Fish in German? Tune in to find out!
L. Ron Hubbard's religion has lots of problems. But apparently, it was convincing enough to persuade his followers to do lots of stupid things. Things like giving him money, having babies in completely silent rooms, and investing personal fortunes in the production of one of the worst films of all time. It is this last foolish endeavor that brings us together today. Buried deep behind a pile of makeup, fake dreadlocks, and nose-danglies towers John Travolta. He's the main force behind this movie being made, and also one of the least enjoyable parts of it, so we can blame him twice. Other bad parts: inconsistent technology, things that seem bad and then magically work out, and then, a nuclear explosion that destroys an entire planet of aliens who couldn't have all been jerks. If only someone would be so kind as to wipe out our memories of this movie.
Watching the Jersey Shore leaves you with a feeling that must be similar to waking up next to one of the characters from the show. The regret hits you right away. But then the hangover settles in and all you know is you need to be somewhere else as soon as possible or you're going to throw up all over the Situation's sheets. Rather than doing what any sane people would do (running away), we've voluntarily jumped back into those polluted Jersey waters to finish what we started. It's an arduous process that is mostly about finding anything at all to pay attention to besides Ron and Sam's incessant fighting. We grasp at any and all straws. Like, for instance, Snooki's claim that the ocean is salty because of whale sperm.
Before there was the bad TV show Gossip Girl, there was the terrible series of novels by the same name. So if this is worse than crap, what is it? Shit? Well, as the book would say, it's shit with the smell of French perfume that the maid sprays around the house ever hour. Narrated by an omniscient blogger, Cecily von Ziegesar's book has the descriptive depth of a Huffington Post headline, the psychological insight of TMZ, and the plot of Cute Overload. Fortunately, it also has another trademark of the blog world: brevity. Yes, at an easy to swallow 2 hours, the abridged audiobook gave us just enough to joke about and not enough to ruin our lives.
The reasons Troll 2 is so bad are the standard ones: stupid plot, boring characters, a director who didn't speak the same language as the cast, and actors who were literally on day passes from mental hospitals. I know what you're thinking, we already reviewed The Room. But no! This is even worse. Troll 2 is our 3rd movie from the list of films commonly considered to be the worst of all time. The worst part is the trolls, which are actually goblins, and which look like they're wearing masks from a high school play. Then we learn that the goblins want to kill humans by forcing them to eat green desserts which turn them into salad puddles (or trees, depending on nothing, apparently). The result is so un-scary, I not only didn't pee my pants, I haven't urinated since. [Editor's note: You probably should get someone to look at that.]
Every time we read a book, we hope that the second half will be an improvement on the first. Sadly, with City of Bones, it's quite the opposite. We've gone from confusing and boring straight into incestuous and creepy. When the main characters find out they're related, they don't despair, or even change their behavior. When the bad guy gets away and Clarissa's mom is stuck in a perma-coma, they don't seem concerned. When the book seems to be ending, the author doesn't bother to tie up even a single loose end. If you're thinking about taking your mind on a vacation, stay away from this city.
City of Bones is undoubtedly better than Twilight, and it's better than Percy Jackson and the Olympians. In fact, it's way better than those two series. But when you set the goal posts that low, it's entirely possible for something to just lumber over them. And lumber this book does; it's clunky and boring, with complicated exposition and simple characters. Its actual dramatic moments are overshadowed by its high school drama and love triangle. Also, one of the characters turns into a rat and instantly becomes more believable. How do you deal with a book so unimpressive? The way we see it, you can either make it way better or way worse. That's why we invented the game "Get Me Out Of Purgatory." It's like "One Change" meets "Race to the Bottom." We also brainstorm on other fantasy series that we'll probably have to read when they inevitably get published. This week's show is also a battle of the titans, as we are joined by rival podcaster Dan McCoy. He's the producer of The Flop House, a remarkably similar podcast that might have copied ours, except that they came before us. Dan also has an animated web series, 9 AM Meeting, which is awesome.
You know what's sadder than one 26-year-old guy watching the new Justin Bieber movie alone? Four of them doing it in different parts of the country at the same time. I know you thought your life could never get this bad. Well, NEVER SAY NEVER! Never Say Never is a movie about triumph over adversity. Like the way Justin Bieber dealt with not being discovered until he was almost 14. And then having to go a whole year between signing a record deal and making a bazillion dollars. Will he finish off this crazy rollercoaster of a year by playing to a sold out crowd in Madison Square Garden? Or will a mild sore throat cause him to ultimately... wait a few weeks before playing to a sold out crowd in Madison Square Garden? You'll have to watch to find out.
Love is a many splendored thing. Sadly, Gary Chapman doesn't like any of those splendors. His view of love has been shaped by more than 20 years as a marriage counselor to old Christian couples who got married very young and don't have anything in common. He solves all these couples' problems using an easy two-step process: Make a list of things you want Tell your partner what you want I know it sounds simple, but as we prove, Gary Chapman only counsels extremely simple people. But the book is also pretty sad. In Chapman's opinion, women have no physical desire for sex, but they love doing dishes. All men want is sex, and they hate talking to their spouses. These things are probably true, but it's pretty hard to listen to.
Gigli (rhymes with really. As in "Really? Who approved this?") is summarized on IMDB this way: The violent story about how a criminal lesbian, a tough-guy hit-man with a heart of gold, and a retarded man came to be best friends through a hostage. How could something like this possibly be bad? Well, for starters, Al Pacino is in the movie for 5 minutes and Ben Affleck is in all of the minutes. That's a poor casting decision. Other than that, the movie is just a mess. The plot is as confused as the female lead's sexual orientation. The dialog is muddy, and the score manages to contrast with the mood the entire time. All in all, it's a perfect movie for us to watch.
It seems like only yesterday our cute little guidos and guidettes were getting drunk and punching/humping each other in Miami. Oh, how things have changed. Now, they're back in Jersey and they're really gonna live it up. And so are we. We try to gather everything we've learned about life in a game we call How To _____ At The Jersey Shore. How do I start a fight with Deena? Laugh. How do I apologize to my boyfriend? Pizza. How do I get it in with Vinnie? Don't even try. He's too big. All that and more on this fantastic episode of Read it and Weep.
Every so often a book comes along that's so moving, we can't help but get involved. We didn't know going in that The 4-Hour Body was destined to be that book, but it was. Rather than just reviewing it, we're trying on some of the recomendations for a full month. You can follow our progress at Body By Bullishit.com. In addition to challenging ourselves, we also took a long, hard look at the world Timothy Ferriss has created, especially focusing on why he's not dateable.
For our first ever live show we tackled three great Keanu Reeves movies. This is the unedited recording of the night's festivities. Special thanks to Pat and everybody at ComedySportz Portland for the hospitality.
The first half of this book was mostly boring and dumb, but in the second part, L. Ron decides to go full-on gross. No joke, Dianetics is almost entirely about abortion. It's messed up. We do our best to fight through Hubbard's disgusting imagination by... totally giving in to it. We introduce our new breakout character The Incautious Vulva and our new national pastime Zygote Boxing.