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Movie Review: Stand Up Guys

Mike Finkelstein is wondering what it would be like to spend a day with Al Pacino and Christopher Walken. Would it be relaxing? Would it be crazy? Would it be everything he ever dreamed it could be? One day, he went to the movies to find out…suddenly, Mike is a little scared to hang out with Walken and Pacino. Here is his review for “Stand Up Guys”.




Mike Finkelstein is wondering what it would be like to spend a day with Al Pacino and Christopher Walken.  Would it be relaxing?  Would it be crazy?  Would it be everything he ever dreamed it could be?  One day, he went to the movies to find out…suddenly, Mike is a little scared to hang out with Walken and Pacino.  Here is his review for “Stand Up Guys”.

PLOT: After 28 years in prison, Val (Al Pacino) is finally released into the hands of his closest friend, Doc (Christopher Walken).  But despite not giving up his partners of the heist for nearly three decades, a single accident that fateful night pins him as a dead man…with Doc being the one forced to finish the job.  For the next 24 hours, the two wrestle with how to live the definite last day of Val’s life, and the possible final day of Doc’s.

Check out the trailer:

MIKE’S REVIEW: If you watch the above trailer, you’d think that STAND UP GUYS would be a welcomed return to form for Al Pacino.  You’d think that always reliable and eccentric Christopher Walken would be impeccable, and with the two of them relieving the good old days (but, as they say, better), we’d have a beautiful drama to make us think about life long after we left the theater.

So what the hell happened?

With such an attractive plot, I was expecting greatness from STAND UP GUYS.  Within the first fifteen minutes, I was getting nervous.  Both Walken and Pacino looked tired, out of it, and off their game.  We aren’t even scratching the surface yet, and two of the best actors of all time are doing no better than two old men in an Intro to Acting course?  Again, I repeat…What the hell happened?

Fast forward a few scenes, and luckily for us, Pacino is doing much better, throwing his weight around in a hysterical scene that’s basically a warning for taking too much Viagra.  Add onto that one very emotional, subtle conversation with Doc about all he’s gone through and being a stand up guy, and you could almost redeem the man completely.  However, those hints of classic Pacino are few and far between, and we are left yearning for the man we once knew.

While Pacino gave some sporadic moments of hope (although let’s face it…if a long Viagra joke is one of the two best parts of a film, what are we really saying?), Walken is absent completely, giving a new meaning to the term ‘minimalism.’  It hurts to bad mouth the legend, but let’s just say that the caricature of him from “Cooking With Christopher Walken” has come to the forefront.  It’s perfectly fine for comedies, but not for a role like this, especially when what could be great lines are delivered like he’s doing a bad impersonation of himself.  Give me something, please!

As for the story, screenwriter Noah Haidle seemed to have his heart in the right place, but with legendary possibilities and a small time frame, he made the common mistake of trying to pack too much in.  More of a series of incidents than an actual movie with a plot, everything felt very awkwardly paced, with simple scenes lasting too long and what could have been epic scenes going by way too quickly.  Pack onto that some absolutely ridiculous moments (including the absolutely ludicrous death and burial of one character), some forced back story, and a constantly changing soundtrack telling you how to feel and you never get a chance to find your footing long enough to enjoy what’s going on.

So was there anything redeeming, you might ask?  Besides Pacino’s small moments of glory and some beautiful cinematography, it was honestly the supporting cast who saved the film, with each actor doing the best job they can with what they were given. Alan Arkin is by far the most fun and most alive as Hirsch, Val and Doc’s friend and former wheel man who gets ‘broken out’ of his nursing home.  He is loving every minute of the role and it shows through.  On the villainous side, it was a “Breaking Bad” reunion, with series regulars Mark Margolis as boss Claphands and Bill Burr as his head enforcer, both of which do a decent job (although I couldn’t help but think of Burr at Ted Beneke’s home every time I saw him…).  As for the ladies, Julianna Margulies, Lucy Punch, Weronika Rosati, Addison Timlin and Katheryn Winnick aren’t given too much, but are all beautiful and try their best, with Punch especially giving some major character and laughs to a role that could have been nothing.

Somewhere hidden deep inside of STAND UP GUYS is not just a good movie, but a great one.  You have the first-time pairing of two legendary actors, a storyline that tugs at the heart strings, and an idea that, by the trailer alone, leaves you thinking about your life.  What we got instead is a half-assed piece of work with good intentions.  With two leads that don’t seem to really want to be there and a story that almost seems to be strung together like a laundry list of ‘funny old people situations’, it’s hard to care whether these two gentlemen are really Stand Up Guys or not.  And in the end, with what could have been, that’s just a disappointment…


Mike’s LIKES:

1) ALAN ARKIN: Subtle yet hysterical, Alan Arkin is the greatest part of this entire film.  Out of all our veterans, he is the one who seems to be having the most fun, and every moment on screen with him is pure gold.

2) LUCY PUNCH: I have to give this girl credit…if you read the role of Wendy in a script, there is no way that the character she created would have come to mind.  I don’t know if Punch was told to play Wendy the way she did, or if she came up with it all by herself, but I will shake her hand for creating something huge and three dimensional out of complete nothingness.

2) BONER JOKES: No matter what you say, it’s still amusing to hear Al Pacino and Alan Arkin make boner jokes.  I chuckled at least.


1) AL PACINO AND CHRISTOPHER WALKEN: For the past decade, people have been giving Robert DeNiro a hard time for phoning all in his performances.  Only recently, which such films as BEING FLYNN and SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, has he been coming out of his slump.  With STAND UP GUYS, one has to wonder if that means that Al Pacino and Christopher Walken have somehow caught DeNiro’s bug…let’s hope not.

2) DISJOINTED STORY: More like a series of events than an actually straight story line, we never have enough time to really enjoy what is going on, because we’re constantly moving to some new predicament (although the soundtrack definitely tries to lead us and let us know how we should feel…)

3) ONE-DIMENSIONAL SUPPORTING CHARACTERS: All the supporting characters felt like just that: characters needed to push the story along.  Granted, this wasn’t an issue because of the actors, but because of the writing, which left us with clichés, attempted one-liners, and emotional moments that made absolutely no sense in the scheme of things.  As I said, all the actors did the best with what they had, but they could have done so much better if they just had something good…


1) Jon Bon Jovi took home an Oscar Nomination for Best Original Song for his soundtrack contribution, “Not Running Anymore”

Editor's Pick

VIDEO:Rolled Ice Cream, Cheetos Bagels And Grasshoppers Are Just Some Of The Unusual Things Brian Balthazar Has Eaten On ‘The Wendy Williams Show’



You’ve seen pop culture expert, Brian Balthazar, appear on The Wendy Williams Show quite a bit over the last few years. He even co-hosted the show on three separate occasions. It wasn’t until his last visit where he and Jason Biggs chowed down on a KFC Cheetos Chicken Sandwich that it hit me: Being on the daytime talk show makes Brian Balthazar hungry!

The proof is in the pudding…pun definitely intended. Carla Hall made sure to bring some snacks for Brian when they cohosted together.

Sure, Wendy is known for telling us to “grab a snack and come on back”…

But you’d have to be absolutely famished to want to eat fish sliders at 10am.

He’s gotten so hungry he resorted to eating GRASSHOPPER TACOS on the show!

Could it be that Brian isn’t actually hungry though? Could he just be a brave soul willing to be the taste tester so we don’t have to? Could my theory be flawed?!

I suddenly feel like maybe we owe Brian a big thanks…

Either way, it’s fun to watch! Click below to take a look at a compilation of all the fun stuff Brian Balthazar has eaten on The Wendy Williams Show!

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Get The Look! A Buyer’s Guide To Brian Balthazar’s Philadelphia Home Redesign



As the world was forced to spend more time at home, Brian Balthazar found himself in a position where he had sold a house before the lockdown and had to find a new one.

“We sold our home with all the furniture in it, so not only did we find ourselves struggling to find a new place, once we found one we didn’t have any furniture to put in it.”

And so, Brian and partner Dennis got resourceful, turning to refurbishing and buying store floor models. They were inspired to make bold, fun choices in color and style when they started shopping around for wallpaper.

Below is the segment as it appeared on the Today Show, and further down, a rundown of where you can find the pieces or ones with a similar look!


Let’s start with the Dining Room!

Move the slider dividing the image to see all of the before or all of the after!

Brian saysThe dining room was the first space we wanted to do. I haven’t had a true dining room since I was a kid, and I’ve always wanted a big table for dinner parties! There were no tables within the price range we wanted, so we found a floor model at one of our favorite go-to stores, Arhaus. We easily saved 75 percent on this table by getting the one that they weren’t going to carry anymore. The chairs are from Wayfair.  On each side of the fireplace (not seen in the photo, but visible in the Today Show video) are two black tall lanterns flanking the fireplace. I got them at Target. I can’t currently find them on their app, but similar versions pop up every year. Get thee to Homegoods! Homegoods and Homesense (same parent company) are my go-to spots for home accessories for virtually every room in the house. You never know what you’re going to find, which is part of the fun.

But let’s focus on the real WOW element to this room – the wallpaper! This pattern is called Bellewood, by RebelWalls.   As you will soon see, I’m sort of obsessed with their patterns. To me, this room is magical with the added whimsy of this forest pattern. (They also have a more muted version with grays and even one with blues.) I also love that by hanging the paper from the chair rail up, you almost get the feeling that you’re standing on a balcony overlooking the forest. I surrounded the whole room with this paper, which I love, but you could easily add the same magical feeling by just doing one feature wall. Their website shows how it can translate to a bedroom or office. You might be intimidated by hanging wallpaper but don’t be! This pattern has so much going on that it really looks perfect when it goes up!



Brian says: The guest bedroom is on the top floor of the house, so it’s got roof lines on two sides that make it a tricky space to navigate if you’re not careful. The planning of this space alone resulted in a few bonked heads. On the upside, the wall where the bed goes is tall, so it was an obvious place to create some visual pop. Again, the wallpaper takes the spotlight.  Called “Nude Roses,” also by RebelWalls, I love this design. Floral wallpaper was ‘big’ in popularity back in the 1920s when this house was built, but the patterns at that time were smaller, repeated more often, and were often really bold in color. This interpretation is so fun to me! Gone are the small roses in favor of oversized blooms, and the bold colors are more subdued pink and gray hues, with touches of dark green and creamy whites.

While roses can inherently feel feminine, the plaid bedding (30 dollars for a queen set from Target) are a surprising complement that keeps everything from feeling a little stereotypical. The side tables are mismatched – partly because we didn’t want to go too “matchy=matchy” – but also to save some money – the one on the left side (hard to catch here) was from West Elm. Normally $199, we got it for half off as the floor model. The one on the right we found in the trash. It was perfectly fine, clearly someone had just gotten tired of it! Nothing some disinfectant can’t fix. That gave us some extra money to spend – To reduce the softeness we went with industrial lamps and edison bulbs. The lamps  are called “Ginyard,” from Wayfair. The headboard was on sale at Arhaus. The dark gray takes balances out the pink hues well. The pillows are from Target and Homegoods.

For the 360 degree view of this room, watch the Instagram reel below!  You’ll see the dresser, on sale for $599 from Arhaus, a lamp from Homegoods, and mobiles from Amazon which we fashioned into a ‘piece of art’ that keeps you from hitting your head on the angled wall opposite the bed. Watch the video to check it out!


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A post shared by Brian Balthazar (@brianbalthazar)



Brian says: The idea for the basement game room was to create a space that feels like a lounge you might find if you went out with friends. When you go into this basement it definitely feels like you’ve gone someplace unique! Believe it or not, I found out the Today Show had invited me to to record my house tour just a few days in advance, and so we turned around this spot in just THREE days! There was literally no pool table at the time, (although it had already been scheduled to come on Friday, the wallpaper came on Saturday, (as well as the floor tiles!) and by Sunday we were covered in paint and glue and drinking wine to celebrate it’s completion! I recorded the final video that Monday.

Some people might not think to take a bright basement and make it dark, but that was our first instinct. Clubs are dark and moody, and we wanted this to feel like that. We painted the walls Wrought Iron by Benjamin Moore, which is a very dark gray that seems to take on different hues based on where you paint it and the light that shines on it. We painted the ceiling black. This was Thursday night! Then Friday the pool table came. The floor tiles (“Tweed Indeed” in black by Flor) hadn’t arrived until the next day, so when they did arrive I meticulously trimmed four tiles to fit around the pool table legs so it looks like they were there the whole time. I had ordered the pool table online weeks before from and by sheer coincidence it was scheduled to arrive in time for me to shoot the redesign. This was the second time I have ordered a pool table from them (which was initially scary because you’re not even seeing it beforehand!) but it always arrives in perfect condition to your specific selections. I love that the felt jet black and keeps things dark and moody. In the time that has passed since this photo was taken, I’ve added more of the carpet tiles to make the carpeted floor area darker and bigger.

But once again, the wall mural steals the show in a marvelous way! This mural is called “A Priori” from Rebelwalls, and is inspired by The Allegory of Divine Providence and Barberini Power, a famous fresco by Italian artist Pietro da Cortona. Fitting, because this house is Italian in style on the outside. You can’t see it from this photo but the wallpaper runs up part of the ceiling as well. It truly gives the room a wow factor when you enter it. The lamps are from Homegoods, (we’ve since added some industrial floor lamps for extra mood lighting) and the piano was something we brought with us. The bar tables are from Amazon ($72 each) and the stools we brought with us – they were discards from someone who didn’t like their original bright colors and thought they were dated! We covered them ourselves with gray plaid fabric and they’re better than they were new!


So there you have it! Hope you enjoyed the rooms and find something you like!

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The Pentagon Has Released Official UFO Videos Because 2020 Is The Absolute Worst



Aren’t swarms of locusts supposed to be the next installment of this plague?!

Can we finally declare 2020 as the worst year ever? In January there were fears of a third World War. In February the coronavirus began its rapid spread. In March the world essentially shut down due to social distancing and quarantining. And now in April…with only two days left in the month…we have official government footage of unidentified flying objects. I’m sorry but Milton Bradley’s game of “Life” never prepared me for any of this!

The Pentagon has confirmed the authenticity of three videos that have been circulating the web but didn’t really answer what is visible in them. In the videos, now declassified by the Department of Defense, navy pilots capture “unidentified aerial phenomena” aka unidentified flying objects aka UFOs! Pentagon officials were sure to state that the videos do not show “any sensitive capabilities or systems,” meaning we probably won’t be seeing any little green men any time soon.

The first video dates back to November 2004 and the other two from January 2015. Of the Pentagon’s confirmation of authenticity, Pentagon spokesperson Sue Gough said the videos were released “in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos.”

So great. We now know that these strange videos are real but what exactly are we looking at? Well, the Department of Defense says it has no concrete answer as to what might be floating around the skies and has classified the phenomena as “unidentified.” And…just like that I suddenly feel less defended.

Social media is having a field day with this revelation of course. The #AliensAreReal has been trending high on Twitter since the news broke. One user referenced Independence Day and said the aliens are “getting ready for July 4th.” Of the bad timing, another wrote “Et tu aliens?” And finally one user couldn’t help avoid sarcasm and wrote”Where’s the space force when you need it?”

Well 2020, you have worked your awful black magic once again. What’s next, cat videos get banned from the internet?! You’ve taken everything else from us!

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