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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”


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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