Self High-Five: 11’s Ocean

bill bodkin returns with the 11th column…enjoy it

Movies: Flixin’ and Boxin’: Four Movies in Two Days
Yes, it was a much more quite weekend for me and the fiancee. In between weekends of bachelor and bachelorette parties we decided to stay in and watch some Netflix movies on Friday night and then Redbox it on Saturday.

We started Friday night off with the best of the foursome, the smash hit comedy Date Night. The duo of 30 Rock’s Tina Fey and The Office’s Steve Carrell are pure comedic gold as a boring Jersey married couple looking to spice up their life. Hilarity ensues, obviously, when the couple is mistaken for a pair of thieves who possess a mysterious flash drive that has to contain some top secret stuff (they took their reservations). Honestly, the plot doesn’t matter at all. The interaction between two of television’s best leading actors that makes the film — which by the way clocks in at under 90 minutes, barely a film at all. There’s great cameo’s from James Franco and Mila Kunis as Taste and Whip It, the criminal couple who our heroes stole the reservation from. The extremely underrated William Fichtner is the strip addicted district attorney nearly steals the show. However, the cameo that makes the most impact on the film is Mark Wahlberg as the eternally shirtless government operative who’s more than willing to help Tina Fey out. Overall, Date Night is an extremely enjoyable movie that is worth the rent — it’s not the best one could get out of such a dynamic comic duo, but it’s definitely a good start.

The second film from the ol’ Netflix queue was The Losers. And oh what a loser it was. This had all the trappings of being a cool, under-the-radar, cult action flick. Instead it falls into all problems every bad action movie does — overly convoluted and illogical plot turns, cool shots for the sake cool shots, good actors given poor direction and idiotic dialogue to recite. In this case the usually charismatic Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Comedian from Watchmen) sleepwalks his way through the film as the leader of The Losers, Clay. He gets involved with the typical “not-to-be-trusted” femme fatale played by a completely miscast Zoe Saldana. There’s a whole bunch of superfluous plot elements that make you scratch your head. The only thing remotely enjoyable about this loud and annoying actioneer is a surprisingly hilarious turn by Chris Evans. That’s right, the Human Torch, Captain America himself, was actually funny. Playing the hyperactive Jensen, Evans actually has fun with his role. It seems like he realizes the entire film is absurd, so he figures he’ll have fun with his role — something you wish everyone had tried. If you’re looking for a film to ‘pass’ on, please avoid this ‘loser.’

On Saturday night we Red Box-ed it. Sadly, the first movie we picked was Death at a Funeral. On the surface this film should’ve been good. Chris Rock, Tracy Morgan and Martin Lawrence are the headliners — all three are funny in their own unique way. The rest of the cast is filled out with sturdy supporting actors like Keith David, Loretta Devine, Danny Glover, Peter Dinklage, Zoe Saldana and Luke Wilson. All really solid actors, in very different ways. The only week link should’ve been Cyclops himself, James Marsden. Instead, it’s Marsden who is the only and I mean only funny thing in this movie. Instead of a raucous, morbid comedy, something it’s British counterpart which probably was, we are given an annoying, bland and down right unfunny comedy.

Now the movie I thought that would be a giant flaming piece of garbage was the second film we rented, The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. C’mon, Jake Gylenhaal with a British accent playing a PERSIAN. Seriously give me a break. But I’m a sucker for grandiose epic popcorn flicks, so I figured my expectations are low and it’s only a $1 to rent it, so why not give it a shot. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised that PoP was actually a fun, exciting, harmless actioneer. The stunning visuals and the highly anticipated slow motion, Parkour-inspired action sequences made up for the been-there-done-that plot. I also didn’t mind Gylenhaal or the foxy Gemma Atherton as the bickering leads. The always solid Alfred Molina (minus Law & Order: LA) boosts the film’s comedy quotient as the superficially duplicitous but ultimately altruistic Arab con-man. I think you’ll be surprised at how enjoyable Prince of Persia really is, but be forewarned, don’t go into this movie expecting the world, expect a good rainy day movie, great to pass the time.

Music: “The Sound (John M. Perkins’ Blues)” by Switchfoot
I’ve never been a fan of Switchfoot — it’s that I dislike them, it’s just have never gotten into them. Their megahit “Dare You to Move” is basically your typical overplayed modern rock ballad that ends up being the score to a trailer for a new teen drama on ABC Family. Yeah, it’s decent, mildly enjoyable, but not something I’m downloading. However, recently on 101.9 RXP I heard one of their recent album Hello Hurricane’s singles — “The Sound (John M. Perkins’ Blues).” I was immediately struck by the raw, gritty, rock ‘n’ roll sound that came from a band that I had surmised to be a generic hit machine, another Vertical Horizon for sure. It’s got this sonically dirty, rock ‘n’ roll growl to it, it’s got teeth, moxie. Lead singer Jon Foreman’s soaring vocals that made “Dare You to Move” such a cigarette lighter in the air anthem, provides a really cool wall of sound that meshes perfectly with a thundering bassline and dissonant guitar. It has this intrinsic hard rock quality that I really dig. It’s a solid song, worth a download especially if you’re starving for new rock ‘n’ roll.

Nightlife: SugarHouse Casino
A casino in Philly, sounds crazy, right? Well, in recent years, stand alone casinos have been popping up in cities everywhere it seems. SugarHouse is one of five stand alone casinos that were awarded a gaming license by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board in 2006. And after much hullabaloo and battling between Philly locals and the casino owners, the SugarHouse officially opened in September 2010. Located right on the Delaware River, the actual casino is part of the first phase of a mutli-phase project by the casino’s owners (the other phases includes a hotel, spa, event center and larger restaurant facilities.) My opinion of the casino has actually changed since finding this out. See, my problem with SugarHouse (which gets its name because the location is the former site of the Jack Frost Sugar Refinery) is that it’s just one big room. No doors or dividers separate the bar or the restaurants from the main casino floor. Everything seems to be on top of each other, you’re bumping into people rolling the dice and dealers flicking out cards for blackjack. Aesthetically it’s got all the glitz and pizazz of your typical casino; but the close quarters make it less than an enjoyable gambling experience. The one really cool thing about SugarHouse is it’s outdoor dining area. On a crisp fall night you can snack on pub grub while gazing out onto the Delaware river; all the lights of Philly and Camden providing a beautiful sight. SugarHouse is a spot you should check out for the hell of it, just keep your expectations low.

Television: The Season Finale of Mad Men
Holy smokes! Did you see the season finale of Mad Men? Once again, Matthew Weiner and company leaves us with another “didn’t see that one coming” finale. It was fitting that the season ended as strongly and as open-ended as it did — this was the show’s absolute best season to date. Last season was frankly a
letdown, very muddled and drawn out, till its home run finale. The big question heading into this season was can the show keep up the great momentum built by the previous year’s finale? The answer was a resounding yes. We peered deeper into the tortured soul of New York adman Don Draper. His identity crisis, his relationship with his children, his love of the sauce, his love of the ladies. All looked over with a fine toothed comb, the same comb that gives Draper that killer coif. The season also delved deeper into the lives and loves of uber hottie Joan (Christina Hendricks) and the silver fox Sterling (John Slattery). It also helped create one of the cruelest, most uncaring mothers in history — Betty Draper (a sparingly yet effectively used January Jones). Now we must wait until August 2011 to see if Sterling Cooper Draper Price is going to turn the corner after losing Lucky Strike, how the pregnancy of Joan will be handled and what of Don settling down? So many questions — we’re on the edge of our seat fellas, and we’re waiting to get knocked off of it with another dynamite season of Mad Men.

Food: Dunkin Donuts’ Pumpkin Madness
October is a pretty awesome month and one of the main reasons is Dunkin’ Donuts celebration of pumpkin. If you see me after a summer at my job you’ll see a slender version of me. I work a lot, I stress a lot and my metabolism is Ferrari-esque. However once the season slows down, so do I. And one of my favorite things to do is to eat. And when it comes to October, there’s nothing more that I like to consume more than the pumpkin donuts and pumpkin muffins that Dunkin’ Donuts serves up. They are so delicious, they are so alive with autumnal spices that it just warms my bones and fills my stomach with delight. The donuts, glazed with a simple sugar, are absolutely amazing. They are perfect with a nice cup of hot chocolate as you walk along the Jersey Shore boardwalk. The muffins, served best with a drizzle of white icing, are the best, hardy way to start your day off…if you want to start it off with a muffin. These delicious treats are my signal of fall arriving and that one of my favorite seasons is well under way.

Bill Bodkin is the owner, editor-in-chief and co-founder of Pop Break. Most importantly, however, he is the proud father of a beautiful daughter, Sophie. He can be seen regularly on the site reviewing The Walking Dead, Doctor Who, and is the host of the site's podcast, The BreakCast. He is a graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism & English. Follow him on Twitter: @BodkinWrites