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Movie Review: The Five Year Engagement

Mike Finkelstein is madly in love with his fiance. But then, she got offered a job across the country, and now the two are trying to figure out how to make things work. For some advice, Mike went to the movies. That probably wasn’t the smartest idea. Here is his review of The Five Year Engagement

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Mike Finkelstein is madly in love with his fiancée.  But suddenly, she got offered a job across the country, and now the two are trying to figure out how to make things work.  For some advice, Mike went to the movies.  That probably wasn’t the smartest idea…Here is his review of “The Five Year Engagement”.

PLOT: Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt) are a newly engaged couple living in San Francisco.  When Violet gets accepted to a post-doctorate in psychology program at the University of Michigan, Tom decides to leave everything, including a new head chef job, behind to move across country with her for two years.  As time keeps ticking away and more obstacles keep getting piled on, will their ever extended engagement last to see a wedding day?

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW: Judd Apatow and Co have a gift for making comedies out of obscure concepts.  It’s a trademark that, when mixed with some ridiculous improv, has spawned some of the best comedies of the past decade.  But there comes a time when all the craziness and eccentric behavior can become overwhelming and even downright distracting. Case in point: THE FIVE YEAR ENGAGEMENT – a movie with a funny, heartwarming romance at its core that never gets a chance to really take off, all due to the overpowering eccentricities piled on.

THE FIVE YEAR ENGAGEMENT follows Tom (Jason Segel) and Violet (Emily Blunt), a San Francisco couple who just got engaged (congrats!).  But when Violet gets accepted to a post-doctorate program at the University of Michigan, the two decide to postpone the wedding and move out there so Violet can focus on her career.  While Violet’s career soon takes off, Tom falls victim to a lax lifestyle, boredom, and depression.  Hilarity ensues.

Before anything, I will say there are a few great things about THE FIVE YEAR ENGAGEMENT.  The story is promising, and whenever Segel and Blunt share the screen together, I couldn’t help but smile.  (Kudos to Blunt for fitting so perfectly into the Apatow universe, and to Segel for creating one of the cutest nervous-boyfriend-about-to-propose ever.)  The two have a natural chemistry, and it’s absolutely adorable to watch them play and banter back and forth about things like getting “super laid” and being an old man.  Besides the two gorgeous leads, Rhys Ifans shows up as Violet’s suave, aggressive boss, and runs away with every scene he is in (literally at one point), and be prepared for a battle between Cookie Monster and Elmo that will be quoted for a long, long time.

But then, it all goes off track from there.  The second Tom and Violet get to Michigan, they are surrounded by peculiar characters, including a husband obsessed with knitting, a pickle connoisseur, students obsessed with masturbating and murder experiments, and one girl who looks and acts a lot like Kelly Kapoor. (Oh wait, it was her…)  With such a charming couple at the base and some real organic laughs throughout, I was getting more annoyed than amused every time I had to listen to the obvious improvisations among these “friends” that just went on too damn long.  The same goes for the group back home in San Francisco, including Violet’s weepy sister (Alison Brie) and Tom’s best friend, Alex (Chris Pratt), who are just too ridiculous for their own good.

Now, I understand all these supporting characters are supposed to be funny and memorable with how over the top they are, but it just doesn’t work this time.  Yes, it is the norm nowadays to let actors go off and just let the camera roll, but it was all so ridiculous that none of it was ringing true!  Maybe it was because I’m growing tired of the practice overall, but either way, I just wanted everyone to shut up so I could get back to the main focus at hand: Tom and Violet (a backhanded compliment about a movie if there ever was one).

While the improv did create most of the film’s problems, the writing caused another.  Within two years of moving to Michigan, Tom went from an up-and-coming chef to a venison-obsessed, handle-bar mustache wearing shell of himself.  In short, he turned into a character instead of a real person.  My favorite moment of Tom’s is when he slips and goes flying to the pavement while trying to clean ice off his windshield.  Something as simple as that is all you need.  When you go from there to the extremes of drinking honey and having three deer hanging in your garage (not to mention doing some of the dumbest things any human being could do, drunk or not), I feel every ounce of my being calling bull.

At its core, THE FIVE YEAR ENGAGEMENT has a promising storyline with two charming leads that we want to stay together.  Sadly, though, that beautiful core is let down, buried under mounds of excessive improvisation and exaggeration.  I know in my gut that this movie could have been one to remember.  (Hell, maybe it could have happened with only a few extra snips in the editing room!)  But as of now, Tom and Violet are the only real stand out factors that will stick in audiences’ heads.

And they deserve better…

GRADE: B

Mike’s LIKES:

1) JASON SEGEL AND EMILY BLUNT: These two make the cutest couple on screen I’ve seen in a while.  Perfectly natural and playful together, all we want is things to work out.

2) RHYS IFANS: A friend and I were talking about the range of characters Ifans has played in his career, from the likes of Spike in NOTTING HILL to the mature, seductive professor here.  He is one supporting actor that I feel can do no wrong, something he proves by being one of the best parts of this film.

3) PROPOSALS: Absolutely adorable on all sides.  Trust me, you’ll want your proposals to be like this!

4) COOKIE MONSTER VS ELMO: I don’t think I’ve ever heard these two say such horrible things.  Just goes to show you that every conversation is better when it comes out of Elmo and Cookie’s mouths.

Mike’s DISLIKES:

1) ECCENTRIC SUPPORTING CAST: With strange quirks and unforgiving, pushy improv (see #2), not one of the supporting characters around Tom and Violet seemed anywhere near real.

2) IMPROV: It is the norm in comedy these days (especially in Judd Apatow movies) to let the camera roll and let the actors improv.  Here, however, it just doesn’t help.  It doesn’t move the story along, it gets boring, and I was usually just waiting to get back to Tom and Violet.

3) TOM’S EXTREMES: To go from a nice, head-chef-in-waiting to a fat, hairy lumberjack and back again just didn’t sit right with me.  Mix that with a naked snow run, some stale donuts and a crossbow, and all I can think is “really?”

4) THE FIVE YEAR STIGMA: Something tells me if the specific stipulation of five years was scratched and the same story was told under different conditions (maybe a few months time with anger growing between the two, and minus so much venison…), we would have been able to get to the heart of the story better.

EXTRA FACTS:

1) In order to work on her character’s British accent, Alison Brie listened to recordings of readings provided by co-star Emily Blunt.

2) Emily Blunt also appeared in THE MUPPETS, which Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller both wrote.

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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…

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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, POPgoesTheWeek.com and Snackist.com.

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.)

Pat-Benatar-Splash

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 BrianBalthazar@aol.com.

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

And – become his friend on facebook! www.facebook.com/brianbalthazar

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.

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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

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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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