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Movie Review: Total Recall

Mike Finkelstein wants to be a cowboy. Sadly, he is not a cowboy. But then, one day, some random, skeevy looking place gives him the chance to make him think he’s a cowboy. Instead of working, though, the process really, really, really messes with his mind, and now, he looks like Jack Nicholson at the end of One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest. Next time, maybe he’ll just go to the movies. Here is his review of “Total Recall”.



Mike Finkelstein wants to be a cowboy.  Sadly, he is not a cowboy.  But then, one day, some random, skeevy looking place gives him the chance to make him think he’s a cowboy.  Instead of working, though, the process really, really, really messes with his mind, and now, he looks like Jack Nicholson at the end of One Flew Over the Cukoo’s Nest.  Next time, maybe he’ll just go to the movies.  Here is his review of “Total Recall”. 

PLOT: Doug Quaid (Colin Farrell) is a factory worker in a futuristic, post WWIII wasteland who is fed up with his life.  To add some spice, he decides to go to Rekall, a corporation designed to give its customers artificial memories of whatever life they wanted to lead.  Soon, Quaid is thrown into a world of espionage and spying as he “finds out” that he’s really a secret agent whose memory was erased to keep him from the rebels.  But while he’s trying to save the day, he has to decide…is this reality, or just Rekall?

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW: When you’re remaking a sci-fi action flick from the 80s like TOTAL RECALL, it should be like shooting fish in a barrel.  Look at what Len Wiseman had at his disposal: twenty years worth of SFX, the intelligence and resources to cut some great fight scenes together, and some excellent actors ready to breathe new life into a classic.  All you need to do now is come up with a deeper script that adds onto the original a bit, and you have a remake that’s worth going to see.

Heh…I think somebody forgot about that script part…

It’s the year 2084.  After a widely destructive World War III, the Earth has become largely inhabitable except for the rich and powerful Federation of the British Republic and the poor, downtrodden Eastern Colony.  Doug Quaid (Colin Farrell) is a tired, restless factory worker living in said Colony.  Despite protests from his beautiful wife (Kate Beckinsale) and best friend, Harry (Bokeem Woodbine), Quaid decides to try Rekall, a corporation that promises that if you bring them your fantasy, they’ll give you the memory.  But when a malfunction supposedly reveals that Quaid is actually Hauser, an important secret agent fighting with the rebel force against the president of the Republic, it’s up to Quaid to figure out if what he’s seeing is reality or all in his mind, and either way, how to save not only himself, but the people he loves.

If the plot synopsis sounds a bit familiar, it’s because it is.  For the first half hour, we hit beat by beat every step of the original film, and it’s welcomed with a nice hint of nostalgia and excitement for what’s next.  Hell, even the three-breasted prostitute stopped by to say hi, hi and hi (even though this time it was a bit strange to see her in a world with not one other mutant).  We never actually get to Mars this time around, but the views of the wasteland that is The Colony is breathtaking (obviously an ode to BLADE RUNNER), and the special effects hint that the technology may have finally caught up to the story.

But the second our new Quaid dives into his new Rekall reality, any and all feelings of hope turn to dread.  What made the original TOTAL RECALL so much fun was that it was blatantly obvious Quaid was sitting in Rekall chair all along.  Even though we wanted him to save the day, we also have the extra weight of not wanting him lobotomized in the process.  This time around, all that extra weight is lifted and replaced with non-stop action.  Forget about any depth for Cohaagen, love interests, or rebel leaders…they get maybe two minutes each to explain themselves.  Forget about the fun moments of Quaid picking his perfect girl and the technician talking about the “blue sky on Mars”.  Hell, forget about Benny the cab driver!  All that is replaced with running, shooting and killing that tries to make the film bigger and grander, but ultimately kills it by leaving us absolutely nothing memorable.

As for the actors, I almost feel bad for anybody involved because of the amount of talent wasted.  It was nice to see Colin Farrell headlining a movie again, and the guy plays a great Quaid, both as an action star and when he’s able to squeeze a few lines in.  Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel do a beautiful job complimenting each other, with Beckinsale being absolutely ruthless and Terminator-ish as Quaid’s imposter wife (a role super extended from the original), and Biel being the sweetheart, bring-home-to-mommy girl everyone wants.  Even Bryan Cranston and Bill Nighy show up briefly as the evil president Cohaagen and rebel leader Matthias Lair, respectively.  (It’s important to mention that Cranston had to act with the weirdest hair I’ve seen since Donald Trump.)  Sadly, while all of them did what they had to do with what they were given, nobody really had much to work with.

It almost pains me to say it, but while TOTAL RECALL should have been a sure thing, it became anything but.  With an overload of action and special effects in lieu of any character development whatsoever, the remake became exactly what Rekall guaranteed it wouldn’t be: forgettable.  If anything were a redeeming factor for this film, it would have to be the special effects, with everything from the flying car chase to the elevator chase to the Fall looking absolutely magnificent.  (Don’t get me wrong…we never for a second thought our heroes were actually in trouble, but aesthetically, you couldn’t help but be impressed.)  But in the end, if you want to see what TOTAL RECALL should be, go rent the original with Ah-nuld, which still holds up today.  It’s more fun, fleshed out, and dare I say…smarter than its imitator twenty years later.

Who knew?


Mike’s LIKES:

1) COLIN FARRELL: It’s good to see the man back headlining a movie, especially a jam packed action flick.  Granted, there weren’t many lines and a hell of a lot of running, but for what he was given, Farrell did a great job.

2) THE LADIES OF TOTAL RECALL: Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel…do I really have to say any more?  Like a good cop/bad cop comparison, Biel brought the natural, sweetheart beauty, while Beckinsale could have given the T-800 a run for his money with the way she moved.  Easily the best part visually of the entire movie.

3) ACTION SEQUENCES: Yes, it was way too much and left no room for any of the dislike list below, but you have to give Len Wiseman credit…the man can film a hell of a chase scene, and blow stuff away like it’s nobody’s business.  If you turn off your mind and are just there for visuals, you’ll be happy.

4) SFX/SET PIECES: The Colony, The Fall, and an entire chase scene with flying cars…all absolutely stunning to look at and take in as a universe all its own.

5) OBAMA MONEY: Maybe, someday…


1) NO DEPTH: In the original TOTAL RECALL, we knew that Quaid was still in Rekall.  That’s what made the movie so exciting…the fact that this man we’re rooting for to win may win in his dreams, but lose everything in his life in the process. This entire film was one long chase scene that never had a chance to dive into that psychological battle.  And without that, all the running in the world couldn’t help make this remake good.

2) NO CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT: Forget even any exposition!  We get absolutely NOTHING to go on in terms of backstories!  At least in Ah-nuld’s world, Doug Quaid was a real man with dreams and conflicting feelings.  Cohaagen was a fully fleshed villain that had his reasons instead of just popping up at the end.  Here, we never had any time to breathe to get to know any of them!

3) NO SENSE: Yes, I know you have to suspend your disbelief for an action flick, but there were so many moments of “wtf?!” from a guard-less headquarters to a ridiculously easy-to-access military plane, that I threw up my hands about halfway through and waved my white flag.

4) S***: Seriously?!  How many times can someone say S***?!  After a while, I felt like I was counting them like the “South Park” episode when they say the same word on television.  Now that I think about it, it can make a PERFECT drinking game…


1) Ethan Hawke was cast as Doug Quaid before his time at Rekall, and actually filmed a glorified cameo in the form of a five-page monologue.  However, his scene was cut due to pacing, and will be included in the DVD release.

2) Colin Farrell filmed the one-shot fight scene in Rekall 22 times before he did it perfectly.



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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