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  • Issue of
  • Nov 12-18, 2008
  • Vol. 29, No. 5

News & Views

Arts & Culture

  • The Scene
  • 5 The Hard Way

    On Aug. 15 of this year, while opening for Blue Oyster Cult at Hart Plaza with his band Spitting Nickels, 43-year-old guitarist Tom Furtaw collapsed onstage and passed away. It's with no small amount of pleasure (and, admittedly, a little relief) that we can say 5 The Hard Way is a fine example of Motor City blues rock.

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  • The Scene
  • Soul Men

    And though it’s bound to be a mere footnote in Isaac Hayes' and Bernie Mac's distinguished careers, Soul Men ain’t a bad way for either to go out, fondly satirizing the soul music Hayes embodied with one of Mac’s better screen performances. And in Samuel L. Jackson, Mac has a perfectly matched co-star, someone with an equally intense glare, a commanding voice and a gift for delivering profanity as poetry. As an estranged and embittered R&B duo back on the road for one last hurrah, each performer is allowed to unleash the full power of his comedic fury. Unfortunately, limp pacing and a clumsily deployed supporting cast only get in the way.
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  • The Scene
  • Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa

    This animated sequel quickly picks up where the other Madagascar left off. The four animals — lion Alex (Ben Stiller), zebra Marty (Chris Rock), giraffe Melman (David Schwimmer) and hippo Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith) — who were raised in captivity and pampered in a New York zoo all their lives, are still stranded in the wild and want to go home. With the help of cross-dressing, egomaniacal King Julien (Sacha Baron Cohen in full off-the-hook mode), a pair of uppity monkeys and some straight-talking penguins, the stars board a broken-down plane destined for New York City. The doomed trip ends with a crash-landing in Africa, where the foursome quickly adapts to its new surroundings: lush green fields filled with other lions, zebras, giraffes and hippos. For the first time, the formerly caged critters experience freedom and the joys of frolicking with their own kind — as long as they stay on the reserve.
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  • The Scene
  • Role Models

    Wiseass Danny (Paul Rudd) and amiable dude Wheeler (Seann William Scott) have a peculiarly demeaning job — they cruise around in a monster truck peddling an antifreeze-colored energy drink to middle schoolers; Wheeler wears a furry costume while Danny delivers the bullshit pitch. The dead-end gig is turning Danny into a royal jerk, and when his long-suffering girlfriend (lovely Elizabeth Banks) dumps him, it leads to a major road-rage blowout with Wheeler stuck in the shotgun slot. This tantrum earns the guys 150 hours apiece of community service, reluctantly served as youth mentors. They’re quickly saddled with a hilarious pair of problem kids, pint-sized potty-mouth Ronnie (Bobb’e J. Thompson) and fantasy-obsessed dorkling Augie, in another standout geek performance by Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Superbad). It’s not freshest premise, but it’s enough for these funny pros to work, smuggling very smart stuff into a dumb comedy, Trojan horse-style. Wain co-scripted Role Models with Rudd, and what could’ve been another wincing exercise in cuteness (Daddy Day Camp, we’re gazing at you) is punched up with nudity, a dash of raunch and clever punch lines about Marvin Hamlisch, Fellini and live-action role playing.
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