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Movie Review: Our Idiot Brother



Mike Finkelstein was working so hard to make something of himself, that he lost focus of who he was.  Then, a kind soul named Ned came along.  He wasn’t the brightest guy, but he definitely made a hell of an impact.  Here is Mike’s review of “Our Idiot Brother.”

PLOT: After being arrested for selling marijuana to a police officer, Ned (Paul Rudd) tries to get back on his feet with the help of his uptight sisters (Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel, Emily Mortimer).  Soon enough, though, his innocent and almost childlike personality begins to drastically interfere with both their personal and professional lives.

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW:  There’s something about Paul Rudd.  I don’t know what it is, but I feel like one night hanging with him at a random dive bar would be the coolest night of my life.  From Andy in WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER to Brian Fantana and Peter Klavin, he is the ultimate wingman/stoner/improver, and all around nice guy.  And now, we have another classic character to add to his list: Ned, the loveable, naïve, good intentioned stoner in OUR IDIOT BROTHER.  Doesn’t mean the movie doesn’t have its problems…

We start off the film with Ned at his fruit stand at a farmer’s market (he’s a biodynamic farmer…fits perfectly) being duped by a uniformed police officer into selling him some weed.  Ned at first smartly denies, but when he feels the cop really had a bad day, he flat out gives him the pot, and the officer insists on giving him something for it as a thank you.

This moment defines Ned through the movie.  Needless to say, it was a trap and Ned is arrested (most cooperative inmate four months running), but despite the incident, his purity and incorruptibility stays intact.  He greets everyone he meets with open arms, tries to do right in every situation (Jimmy Stewart multiplied by 1000), and literally, his ONLY goal is to get his dog, fittingly named Willy Nelson, back from his ex.

The rest of Ned’s family, however, is a different story.  Yes, we have his mother (Shirley Knight) who is just as naïve as him, but then, there are his three sisters, each of which have been jaded by reality and have their own life problem to deal with.  Liz (Emily Mortimer) is a housewife stuck in a loveless marriage to cheating, arrogant, and manipulative filmmaker, Dylan (Steve Coogan).  Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) is an aspiring writer for Vanity Fair who would sell her soul and morals for a cover story, and is blind to the fact that she’s perfect for her best friend and neighbor, Jeremy (Adam Scott).  Natalie (Zooey Deschanel) is the bohemian, live-for-the-moment type who cheats on her long-time girlfriend, Cindy (Rashida Jones) all because of personal insecurities.  Issues much?

Don’t get me wrong…OUR IDIOT BROTHER isn’t a bad movie by any means.  More of a THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT/DAN IN REAL LIFE comedy, it delivers a number of smart, funny moments, and is actually quite charming in its innocence and message instead of the usual Judd Apatow/Kevin Smith raunchiness. Rudd, usually cast as a cynic the past few years, constantly steals the show with how unaffected he is and you can’t help but smile and be motivated to try and treat life the same way.  At the same time, the dynamic between the sisters is very convincing and real, almost to the point that you could see your family in them.  It’s just that in its jumping back and forth to flesh out all these huge issues (all three of which seem strategically placed and conveniently completely different from one another), you can’t help but feel like you’re being directed.  Suddenly, you become aware of the steps of every character to get where they need to be, and it’s hard to believe everything could be wrapped up in such a neat little bow.

But you know what?  Maybe that doesn’t matter.  Maybe that’s not the point.  Because when you live in a rat-race type of world where everyone is trying so hard to find their way and find out who they are, maybe sometimes you need to sit back and enjoy the little things.  Maybe you need a bit of that Jimmy Stewart, Frank Capra sugar sprinkled throughout.  That’s the message of OUR IDIOT BROTHER, and it’s a good one.  And while the movie may have its flaws and may seem contrived and may drag at points (guilty of all three), the script feels real, every actor makes every character seem real, and it delivers its message without any fart or sex joke overload.  I respect that as a decent movie made.


Mike’s LIKES:

1) Innocence/”Rise to the Occasion”: While everyone else is lying to themselves about who they are and their morals, Ned is the epitome of innocence.  All he gives is love, and he genuinely believes that if you just give a person a shot to do something good, they’ll “rise to the occasion”.  In comparison to everyone else around him, it’s beautiful to watch.  Which brings me to number two…

2) Knowing Your Identity: We are living in such a fast moving world today, that it’s hard to even find yourself without feeling like you’re being trampled by everyone else around you.  Here, we see those issues: lying to oneself, compromising your morals, etc, and confronting them head-on.  Put this with number one, and we have a beautiful message in the story

3) “Congrats on Your Win”: An adorable line that brought a smile to my face.  Ned is open to anything, and even at moments of complete ridiculousness, he still focuses on the best aspect available.

4) Willy Nelson: The dog is named Willy Nelson!  The dog is named Willy Nelson!  Soooo cute!

5) TJ Miller/Candles: Forget a female…These two are meant for each other.  The sequence completely reminded me of “You know how I know you’re gay?” except in a sweeter, naive way.


1) CONTRIVED AND DRAGGING: Maybe it was because it kept switching between three sisters, their “significant others”, and all of Ned’s associates, but the film did drag at points.  Also, while all three sisters gave us something different, it almost seemed a bit contrived and too perfect…


1) At least three scenes from the trailer were not included in the final film.

2) The title character was written with Paul Rudd in mind.



Who Is This Brian Balthazar Guy, Anyway?

Did you see Brian on TV today? Wondering who he is? Here’s much more than you wanted to know. They leave the part out that he loves a well mixed Dark And Stormy, but let’s keep things professional…




You may have seen Brian Balthazar on television this morning, heard him on the radio, or read about some recent developments in the world of media and pop culture. But who the hell is this guy? Brian Balthazar leads a double – triple – okay, maybe quadruple life. Part journalist, actor and comic, he appears on many TV shows as a guest, but is also a developer and creator of several television shows behind the scenes. This when he’s not renovating homes and making snacks for his websites, and

After launching the fourth hour of the Today Show with Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, he turned his attention to cable television, overseeing the direction and development of several shows on HGTV, including Flip or Flop, Love It Or List It, Christina On The Coast, House Hunters, Hit Properties with Nathan Morris, Flea Market Flip and dozens more.

As a comic he served as the opening act for Russell Brand In New York City and the MTV series Man and Wife featuring hype man Fatman Scoop.  He has performed at The Comic Strip, Caroline’s On Broadway, Gotham Comedy Club and more.Wendy Williams Show Feb 2013

In addition to being a frequent guest on “The Wendy Williams Show,” (he co-hosted several times during Williams’ three week break) and appearing on the “Today” show, where he guest co-hosted with Jenna Hager-Bush,  Brian has frequently been seen co-hosting the syndicated TV gossip show Page Six TV.

Additionally, he was the sideline reporter for HGTV’s Rose Parade Coverage, hosted the HGTV Special I Bought A Famous House, and has appeared on CBS’s The Talk, HLN’s Showbiz Tonight, MSNBC’s Caught On Camera, The Joy Behar Show, and more.

Brian Balthazar Kathie Lee Hoda

An appearance on the fourth hour of the TODAY show with Kathie Lee and Hoda.

He has also been an emcee for many notable events and sponsors, including work as a brand ambassador for Bombay Company, the co-host of the Miss Tennessee and Miss Mississippi USA pageants, and a red carpet host at the Daytime Emmy Awards.

You may also have seen Brian in some viral videos, most notably a recent parody of Bird Box, and a satirical look at House Hunters’ Writers’ Room.

HGTV – House Hunters Writer’s Room from Buffalo Picture House on Vimeo.

 Brian Balthazar Bombay

Appearing in a series of videos for Bombay Company.


Brian has provided analysis, interviews and helped co-host the Tony Awards backstage show. He also followed all the backstage madness at the launch of Fashion Week in New York City while co-hosting the Red Dress Event. He has been a roving reporter for the Dr. Oz show. Earlier in his career he was a features reporter and contributor on NBC, MSNBC, United Airlines In-Flight Entertainment and more.

For A&E network, Brian appeared in an episode of Biography about Jim Carrey. He also provided play by play of some of film’s greatest car chases for a documentary about, well, car chases. (Ask his family and they will tell you: NO one would have expected to see him in a show about cars. We’ll leave it at that.)


Before ‘finding himself’ professionally, Brian was a singer on a ship, a publicist for a trance medium, an insurance customer service rep, waiter, bartender, activities director, substitute teacher, website programmer, pianist at a camp for spoiled children, and college mascot. None of them worked out. Let’s hope this does.

To contact Brian, email

To check out his video clips from NBC, HLN, and MSNBC, click HERE…

And – become his friend on facebook!

For a more extensive listing of his TV appearances visit his IMDB page.

And he’s apparently getting better about Twitter. So he says. He’s @BrianBalthazar.

Thanks for reading POP GOES THE WEEK!

For his TV Appearances, Click on the TV APPEARANCES page.

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POP in the Kitchen! The Perfect Snack and Cocktail Pairings.



POP Goes The Week’s Brian Balthazar is part of the all new Food Network Kitchen App! Cook LIVE alongside Brian as he makes get party food and the drinks that go perfectly with them!

Hey everyone! I’m so excited for this – I was thrilled to be a part of the new app, which is an all new way to cook with your favorite chefs and cooking experts. In the app, you can get the recipe and ingredients and recipe in advance, check the live class schedule, then cook at the very same time as your instructor!

I was fortunate enough to be invited to do a live snack and cocktail pairing, which you can still watch – and cook along with me! Trust me, these all start out as live, which means anything can happen! (I have an adventure with the broiler in one of them!)

Download the app here.

For my recipes, I made a pulled pork toast with queso, sour cream radishes and green onions, along with a smoky mezcal paloma.

Pulled Pork Toasts with Sour Cream, Queso, Radishes and Green onions, garnished with cilantro. The recipe is literally those ingredients stacked onto baguette slices!

In another class, I make lavender honey that gets drizzled right on top of baked brie with herbs, then use that same lavender honey for my own interpretation of a “Bees Knees” cocktail that I call a “Bees Knees Breeze.” I came up with the variation because the original recipe, simply gin, honey and lemon was just TOO strong for me and I found myself always getting plastered!

Check out the gallery of what I made, all available on the FNK app!

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I hope you can check them out, AND all your favorite instructors like Bobby Flay, Giada de Laurentiis and Ree Drummond!



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‘Saved By The Bell’ Cast Reunited For 30th Anniversary – And I’m So Excited



If you think your high school experience feels like ancient history then it won’t bring you any comfort to know that Saved By The Bell debuted 30 years ago!

Back in 1989, Saved By The Bell hit the small screen and quickly became a television staple. Over the course of its four seasons, the sitcom followed Zach Morris and his unique blend of friends as they navigated the tricky waters of high school. Everyone had a favorite Bayside Tiger and the series spawned many memorable scenes…but you are a liar if you didn’t say your favorite scene was where Jessie broke down crying after coming to terms with her caffeine pill addiction while crying out the most iconic line ever, “I’m so excited…I’m so excited…I’m so…scared”


In any event, some of Bayside’s most memorable students reunited over the weekend to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the hit sitcom. Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zach Morris), Tiffany Thiessen (Kelly Kapowski), Mario Lopez (A.C. Slater) and Elizabeth Berkley (Jessie Spano) all gathered together to hit us right in the nostalgia. Notably missing were Lark Voorhies (Lisa Turtle) and Dustin Diamond (Screech). Berkley wrote on her Instagram “FRIENDS FOREVER!!!” along with some sweet and fun hashtags. Lopez upped the ante and posted a video recapping the fun time the gang had as they reminisced on the days way back when. WHY WASN’T THIS TELEVISED?!? Many are speculating the reunion to be the beginnings of a reboot or revival but nothing of the sort has yet been confirmed.



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FRIENDS FOREVER #spousestoo!!!❤️❤️❤️#imsoexcited #buddybands #love #friends #family #life #magic

A post shared by Elizabeth Berkley Lauren (@elizberkley) on



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Credit card roulette comin up! #OldSchool

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