Banality Over Broadway

by Jon Mullich on April 18, 2014

Sylvester Stallone at the Broadway premiere of “Rocky: The Musical”

Sylvester Stallone, who leapt to overnight fame and artistic renown by writing and starring in the 1976 film classic Rocky and has proven himself to be a one-note hack by cranking out rip-off after tiresome rip-off of Rocky ever since. Mr. Stallone’s latest rehashing of the Robert Balboa saga is Broadway’s Rocky: The Musical, which is currently in residence at the Winter Garden Theatre to lackluster business and terrible reviews. He is far from the first Hollywood transplant to try and breathe life into his fading career by resurrecting an early film success as a musical on the Great White Way; Woody Allen adapted his film Bullets Over Broadway into a Broadway musical which opened at about the same time (to lackluster business and terrible reviews), but at least Mr. Allen has had a long career in the theatre (dating back to the 1960 musical revue From A to Z) and the source material even has “Broadway” in the title, so it seemed like a reasonable idea. Mr. Stallone’s project seemed less promising considering that he has zero stage experience and the source material has a rock in the title. True, Mr. Stallone’s most recent testament to artistic shoddiness is co-authored by Tony Award-winner Thomas Meehan, who collaborated with Mel Brooks on a more creditable (if overrated) retread of a past movie success with The Producers. But the New York Times summed up Rocky: The Musical by reporting that (aside from its exciting climactic boxing match) “this sluggish show’s sensibility isn’t just underdog; it’s hangdog.” At least Mr. Stallone had the good sense of recasting the title character with Andy Karl (who has received mostly positive notices for a thankless task) rather than attempting to recreate the part himself. Anyone who has heard him sing in the movie musical Rhinestone knows that airline vomit bags would have to be issued with each ticket if he hadn’t. But even without Mr. Stallone’s talents in the title role, his stage version of Rocky is yet another indication that the Broadway musical is on the ropes and may soon suffer a knockout that will kill it off for good. I only hope it does before we see Rambo: The Musical. The idea of listening to a soulful ballad titled Do We Get to Win This Time? makes me want to reach for an airline vomit bag. [click to continue…]

Character Study

by Jon Mullich on April 11, 2014

Who is this man?

Funny man Stephen Colbert, who it was announced will take over for late night TV icon David Letterman when Mr. Letterman retires next year. I am a long time fan of Mr. Colbert’s cable TV show The Colbert Report in which he portrays a woefully uniformed right-wing pundit named Stephen Colbert. But that’s my issue with him replacing Mr. Letterman because while I love the fictional Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report, I have no idea what I think about this so-called “real” Stephen Colbert that CBS is foisting on us. It reminds me of years ago when the Seinfeld TV show was #1 in the ratings and the character Cosmo Kramer was beloved by America, Kenny Kramer (the guy who Cosmo was based on) set up “Real Kramer” bus tours of New York to cash in on the show’s popularity. I have no way of knowing if this “real” Stephen Colbert got his job on CBS because of any alleged talent he might possess or if he’s just riding the fictional Colbert’s coat tails to fame and fortune Colbert says he won’t be playing the Colbert character on Late Night, so the question remains what character will he be playing? Since he’s not playing Stephen Colbert anymore, CBS could be opening a Pandora’s Box of characters that are currently up for grabs. Will I turn on my TV to CBS at 11:30 in 2015 and find Stephen Colbert depicting the sinister Heisenberg from Breaking Bad now that no one else is playing him? Maybe he’ll pick up the titular “half man” character played by Angus T. Jones on Two and a Half Men before he left that show for the far more lucrative field of bizarre religious cults. Or perhaps Mr. Colbert will take the safe way out and host Late Night as the latest incarnation of Dr. Who. Whoever takes his place behind Mr. Letterman’s desk in 2015, it won’t be the Stephen Colbert that I’ve come to love for the last ten years on Comedy Central, and I deeply resent the betrayal. Frankly, I think that it shows a lack of character. [click to continue…]

Imaginary Lover

by Jon Mullich on April 4, 2014

Donna Manus with her
fantasy boyfriend, Louis C.K.

My associate Donna Manus, who admitted to me that she has a crush on comedian Louis C.K. I can relate to Ms. Manus’ situation, having maintained fantasy sexual relationships with celebrities dating back to my earliest masturbatorial daydreams with Mary Tyler Moore, continuing through to my long term relationship during my teenage years with Linda Ronstadt, and right up to my recent dalliance with Disney Channel teen heartthrob Laura Marano that I had to break off because it was just too creepy. I was concerned about Ms. Manus hooking up with Mr. C.K. because of the considerable difference in their bio-masses and the fact that if she imagined the two of them in the wrong sexual position, she could easily wind up being crushed. Then I remembered that this is a fantasy relationship, and just as when the diminutive Audrey Hepburn sported DD breasts during our few furtive nooners following an afternoon screening of Roman Holiday on TCM, Ms. Manus could visualize the rotund Mr. C.K. with the chiseled physique of a teenage swimming champion as she reaches for a freshly-peeled cucumber while his standup special Chewed Up plays on YouTube in the background. While she’s at it, she should add an extra inch or two to his wang to avoid any potential embarrassment. I forgot to do that to myself once, and Audrey Hepburn couldn’t stop laughing. [click to continue…]

The Moron was a Douchebag

by Jon Mullich on March 28, 2014


My associate Tawdry Baubles, who vented about inconsiderate neighbors by raging “There’s now someone I hate even more than the moron who spills coffee on the stairs. It’s the douchebag who parked a Maserati behind my car this morning so I couldn’t get to work. Arrggghhhh!” Personally, I think Ms. Baubles is reacting to the situation all wrong. Imagine if the moron who spills coffee on the stairs and the douchebag who blocked her Prius with his sportscar are one-in-the-same. All she needs to do is look at her life is if it was a summer date movie in which she is played by, say, Emma Stone; a go-getting young professional woman whose bland personality is made up for by her smoking-hot appearance, making it all the more confusing that she not only doesn’t have a man in her life but her only friend seems to be the quirky “unattractive” co-worker (I put “unattractive” in quotation marks because the friend is constantly making self-deprecating remarks about how plain she is despite the fact that if she took off her thick eyeglasses and ran a comb through her hair, she’d easily be able to book a photo shoot with Maxim) she is inexplicably able to have long conversations about her nonexistent love life with at all hours of the day or night even though she is supposedly consumed by her career and the only time we see her in the office is when she’s bullshitting with her Plain Jane friend. Under these circumstances, the douchebag/moron who has been making her life hell would have to turn out to be her upstairs neighbor played by Channing Tatum, who she never gets a look at until she unsuccessfully tries to extract revenge by having the Plain Jane’s unemployable yet comically-unthreatening brother hook up a bucket of coffee to drop on him just as he’s about to get into his Maserati. When Emma (who is spying the prank from the bushes) sees that the guy isn’t simply a douchebag but a douchebag who looks like Channing Tatum, she tackles him at the last minute, bumping him softly out of harm’s way while the latté with extra foam cascades all over her. This humiliating set-up results in 90 minutes of hackneyed dialogue about how she doesn’t need a man to get in the way of her career and angst-ridden monologues about his crappy childhood which somehow makes us believe that his appalling selfishness is actually just a cry for help and not just him being a self-centered asshole, interspersed by montages of the two of them walking through parks and having unlikely exchanges with elderly people of variant ethnic backgrounds which make them realize that they’re not so very different after all. This will lead to a final scene in which she runs out of a dance contest staged at a 5-star hotel ballroom that they’ve inexplicably partnered in, dolled up in an evening gown you typically only see at an Academy Awards telecast, with him in a tuxedo in hot pursuit. He finally pins her against the wall of a rain-glimmering metropolitan boulevard where he finally proclaims his love to her against the skyline of Toronto posing as some American city because it’s cheaper to shoot there. The camera fades out as the audience is won over by the idea that their perfect love has triumphed, overlooking the fact that they both still have the crippling emotional flaws that made their lives hell in the first place, and everybody is momentarily happy as the end credits roll.

At least that’s how it plays out in the movies. Regrettably for Ms. Baubles, she’s already in a committed relationship and all of her neighbors look like they belong in the cast of a Fellini film, so I wouldn’t be looking for any romantic fade-outs if I was her. To paraphrase Freud, sometimes a douchebag is just a douchebag. [click to continue…]

An Incredible View

by Jon Mullich on March 21, 2014

God, who has been off my radar for far, far too long. A ridiculous little man named Fred Phelps died yesterday; he was a publicity whore who founded a hate group that claimed to base their actions upon God’s principles, which conveniently matched up precisely with the principles of Mr. Phelps. That’s nothing new; there have always been loudmouths around who try to bully their priorities through society and give them teeth by claiming that it’s actually Jehovah they’re speaking on behalf of, using as authority books written thousands of years ago by dudes who also claimed that they were speaking on behalf of God. Mr. Phelps gained his notoriety by banding together a tiny group of people (whose numbers were so small that they’d lose a game of tug-of-war to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association) and cruelly picketing funeral services to draw attention to their belief that God disapproved of all the man-on-man butt sex and girl-on-girl scissoring that was becoming a plague on our society, even though it was primarily an obsession of the friends of Fred Phelps. I have always professed to being an atheist, but the reality is that I have looked upon the face of God many times. I have seen it when looking out upon the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. I saw it once or twice when I did my best to play Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I have seen it when gazing into the eyes of a woman I loved. I’ve even seen it when I look at my little pug Winston wake from a sound sleep, glimpse up at me and wag his little tail. I always know when I’m in the presence of God because I am enveloped in an aura so massive that I lose a sense of my own individuality and become one not only with everything around me, but everything in existence. In that brief flicker of an instance, I am aware that the physical universe is such a massive thing that it has the space to embrace all things in it, because all things in it are essential to making up what it is. I am nothing. And I am everything.

And I am incapable of judgment, because I am no more able to comprehend the vast expanse that I am suddenly a part of than I am to comprehend a microbe in one of my fingernails. The regrettable truth is that men like Fred Phelps, men who have the galling arrogance to claim that they have the ability to understand the unknowable soul of God so clearly that they can speak in Its name, are all around us and often rise to the heights of power by conning the gullible masses into believing their shell game. Mr. Phelps was just a laughable clown who is to be pitied, and was far less dangerous than theological con men who put on a more sophisticated act while selling the same snake oil. Mr. Phelps often made the reprehensible claim that “God hates fags,” as if a massive unfathomable deity was even capable of something as trivial as hate. And now that his life is over, I can’t help but feel sorry for him because it is my experience that anyone who could make such a statement has never looked upon the face of God even once

And that just makes me sad, because it’s an incredible view. [click to continue…]

Little Miss Gluten

by Jon Mullich on March 14, 2014

Screen legend Shirley Temple. I wasn’t feeling well this weekend and rather than subject the person behind me in spin class to my projectile diarrhea, I decided to stay home and watch a marathon of Ms. Temple’s films on Turner Classic Movies. I had little experience with the curly-haired sweetie’s work prior to that, so I was absolutely enchanted at her formulaic way of charming the dickishness out of all the grumpy old curmudgeons she encounters. So much so that I decided that I’m going to invent a machine that will bring her back to life and make her 6 years old again so that my beloved pug Winston and I can costar in a typical Shirley Temple movie for the 2010s. We’ll have to make some changes for modern sensibilities though, so in my movie Little Shirley will be an orphan (she’s always an orphan in these things) who is sent to live with her rich bastard of a grandfather (Lionel Barrymore is unavailable, so the part will be played by Wilford Brimley). This doesn’t sit well with Grandpa’s fortune hunting niece and nephew, who want their bratty child (played by the insufferable kid from Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close) to inherit his fortune. Shirley doesn’t like it there either because she has sensitivity to gluten and can only eat peanut-flavored gluten-free animal crackers in her soup, but the brat has a peanut allergy so the fortune hunters don’t feed her and keep her doped up on Prozac. That infuriates Grandpa because he thinks Shirley has an eating disorder that will require an expensive stay at a rehab center, so she turns to the only people she can trust: the best friend of her late father (who was killed by friendly fire in Iraq) and his adorable dog, played by me and Winston. Shirley is convinced that her father is really still alive, and Winston and I placate her by trolling army hospitals with her trying to find him as we dream of adopting her despite the fact that I am a single man in his 50s who has no other experience with children, makes no discernible income and whose only other close relationship in life is with a dog. It all looks grim until the final reel when we find Shirley’s Dad alive in the army hospital, except he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and commits suicide right in front of her. Winston and I decide then and there that we’re going to adopt her but the Child Welfare Department swoops in and says they’ve been investigating me because it’s not natural for a middle-aged man to be hanging around a 6-year old, so I’m placed on the Megan’s Law website and Grandpa kicks Shirley out of his house because she’s too much trouble to put up with, no matter how cute she is. Shirley has no choice but to start making Internet porn and dies at the age of 13 from a drug overdose. I grant you that setting the story in 2014 makes it a little darker than something like Bright Eyes but I’m hoping that if I can regenerate John Ford (the director of Shirley’s best film Wee Willie Winkie) back to life, he can give it the sentimental touch that will make it palatable. If he does a good job, we’ll get to work on remaking The Grapes of Wrath where the Joad family endures an odyssey of trial and despair when they log onto to sign up for Obama Care.

A classic scene from “Little Miss Gluten” just before Child Welfare
breaks in and puts me on the Megan's Law website

[click to continue…]

Did You Ever Know That I’m My Hero?

by Jon Mullich on March 7, 2014

Academy Award winner and Everybody's Hero, Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey, who won the Academy Award for Best Actor Sunday night. While most Oscar winners charmed the audience by thanking their family or acknowledging the crew who toiled in obscurity to pave the way for their glamorous rise to wealth and fame, Mr. McConaughey paid tribute to the “Heroes” theme of the broadcast by pontificating to the audience about who he considered his real hero to be: himself. Oh, not the Matthew McConaughey who gave such an admittedly brilliant performance in Dallas Buyers Club, but always the Matthew McConaughey who lives exactly ten years in the future from the current model of Matthew McConaughey. That means that the hero of 23 year old Matthew McConaughey wasn’t anyone as mundane as Abraham Lincoln or Anne Frank; it was Matthew McConaughey the star of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. 26 year old Matthew McConaughey’s idol was the heartthrob in Failure to Launch. And 29 year old Matthew McConaughey’s highest role model was the dude who played the male lead in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. It was ironic that the Oscars ended their once-moving “In Memoriam” montage (before so many other award shows ripped it off that it lost its impact) by having Bette Midler sing a solo of her old radio hit Did You Ever Know That You’re My Hero? (giving the whole sequence, since it remembered a group that consisted entirely of people who had never worked with or presumably even met Bette Midler, a dissatisfying feeling of being a tribute to Bette Midler). But after Mr. McConaughey’s speech, the song would have had more of a sense of sincerity if Mr. McConaughey could have sung it to himself. That wouldn’t be practical though, because we’d need a version of Matthew McConaughey ten years in the future for him to sing it to. Perhaps instead of sending out for pizza, Ellen Degeneras should have gone to CVS Pharmacy for a giant douchebag to listen to the ballad. From what I’ve seen, it could pass for Mr. McConaughey in any era. [click to continue…]

Oscar’s Crystal Ball

by Jon Mullich on February 28, 2014


The Academy Awards, which take place this Sunday. As many of you know, I am obsessed with the Oscars and take great pride in being able to predict the winners (I even make it a point to see all the nominated short subjects and documentaries), which only recently occurred to me only means that I’m adept at anticipating other people’s taste since I am not a voting member of the Academy and never will be until the temperature in Hell drops to 32° F. Nonetheless, the Oscars have been a big part of my life since my earliest childhood and this year seems to be the widest-open race in recent memory, with American Hustle, Gravity and 12 Years as a Slave having a legitimate chance at the top prize. A number of films that appeared to be sure things in their categories have lost momentum and are now question marks. Cate Blanchett, for instance, appeared to be a lock for Best Actress in Blue Jasmine until Woody Allen’s estranged daughter Dylan dragged Ms. Blanchett’s name into a controversy when she wrote a letter published in the New York Times bringing up old (and from everything I’ve read, totally unfounded) charges of child molestation against him, possibly losing Ms. Blanchett some votes to Sandra Bullock in Gravity. Gravity and The Great Gatsby seemed to be runaway winners for Editing and Costume Design, respectively, until the guilds for those fields voted their awards (often a precursor to who Oscar picks) to Captain Phillips and 12 Years a Slave instead. In other words, being able to predict who wins the Oscars is simply a matter of looking at what films won awards that one group decided on and then assume that a different group (made up of many of the same people) will decide the same thing. It’s all pretty silly when you stop to think about it (I thought the best movie of the year was Her, and that doesn’t have a chance of winning), but the only reason I even watch is to see what everyone is wearing. I still like dragging out my crystal ball to predict who will win though. Otherwise, I watched all those short subjects and documentaries for nothing.

Jonny’s Oscar Predictions

The “I Actually Care What Wins” Awards

Best Picture
12 Years a Slave

Best Actor
Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club

Best Actress
Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine

Best Supporting Actor 
Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club

Best Supporting Actress 
Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave

Best Director
Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity

Best Screenplay, Adapted 
12 Years a Slave

Best Screenplay, Original 
American Hustle

Best Animated Feature 

The “I Don’t Know Art, But I Know What I Like” Awards

Best Foreign Film 
The Hunt

Best Production Design

Best Costume Design 
12 Years a Slave

Best Original Score

Best Original Song
“Let It Go” from Frozen

Best Visual Effects
Gravity (Jonny’s **** Sure Thing)

Best Documentary Feature
The Square

The “I Don’t Possess The Technical Expertise To Have a Clue What The Best Was, But I’ll Root For My Favorite To Increase Its Total” Awards

Best Cinematography

Best Film Editing 
Captain Phillips

Best Makeup & Hairstyling 
Dallas Buyers Club

Best Sound Editing 

Best Sound Mixing 

The “Who Really Gives a Damn?” Awards

Best Documentary Short 
The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life

Best Short Film, Animated 
Room on the Broom (in a coin toss over Get a Horse!)

Best Short Film, Live Action 
Avant que de tout perdre [click to continue…]

My Man Powell

by Jon Mullich on February 21, 2014

‒My Man Godfrey,– nominated for 6 Academy Awards

The 1936 film classic My Man Godfrey. I was reading a wonderful article by film writer Carley Johnson entitled My My Man Godfrey: The Unforgotten Man which brilliantly analyzes the screwball classic, and Ms. Johnson’s writing made me ponder something that has always annoyed me about the William Powell/Carole Lombard starrer (one of my favorite movies). As my faithful readership already knows, I am obsessed with the Academy Awards and much of their history and trivia can be found throughout my website. My Man Godfrey’s connection to the awards raises my nettles because it was highly regarded by the Academy that year, being nominated for Best Actor (Mr. Powell), Best Actress (Ms. Lombard), Best Supporting Actor (Mischa Auer), Best Supporting Actress (Alice Brady), Best Director (Gregory La Cava) and Best Screenplay (Eric Hatch and Morrie Ryskind) but not Best Picture, and this was a year when there were 10 nominees in the Best Picture category. Instead of giving My Man Godfrey a Best Picture nod to go along with its nominations in every other major classification (a feat which has only occurred 12 times since in the following 77 years, all by films which were also nominated for Best Picture), its place in that honor roll was taken up by Libeled Lady, another screwball comedy also starring William Powell but which failed to be nominated in any other category. So the Academy decreed that My Man Godfrey was among the five best of the year in directing, writing, and every acting designation it could come up with, but wasn’t among the 10 best films of the year, while Libeled Lady was one of the best movies of the year despite not measuring up to My Man Godfrey’s acting, writing or direction. Fortunately no further confusion ensued when neither film actually won any awards at the Oscar ceremony that year, with the Best Picture prize going to The Great Ziegfeld, which also starred William Powell and is generally considered to be among the worst movies to ever win the award. The Academy should have done themselves a favor and made My Man Godfrey the Best Picture that year. Their fetish for William Powell would have still been satisfied, a great and memorable movie would have won the award for a change, and the Oscars wouldn’t have an idiotic paradox turding up 1936. It gets me so upset that I want to calm down by lying on the couch with a wet towel on my forehead and watch Libeled Lady. It wasn’t much in the acting, directing or writing departments, but that was a good movie. [click to continue…]

Silk Stalkings

by Jon Mullich on February 14, 2014

Just a couple of the tributes Mara Marini can look forward to today.

Barack Obama, who started the year by issuing a proclamation that made January 2014 National Stalking Awareness Month. Mr. Obama writes in his proclamation that “During National Stalking Awareness Month, we extend our support to victims and renew our commitment to holding their stalkers accountable.” As many of you know, I have been unjustly accused of “stalking” Enemies List favorite Mara Marini for trying to win her affection with such innocent pursuits as attempting to watch her shower by looking through her bathroom window with high-powered binoculars (always thwarted by the potted plant next to her sink which blocks my view). Today is Valentine’s Day which means that I intend to take my efforts up a notch. That means Ms. Marini can look forward to a day of receiving romantic presents from me like a plastic bag full of my pubic hair or wedding photos that I’ve Photoshopped of us together that are inexplicably sticky. If “date movies” have taught us anything over the years, it’s that if a hot chick meets a dude she finds repellent, she’s going to wind up falling madly in love with him by the closing credits and it doesn’t matter if he’s played by Brad Pitt or Jonah Hill. Yet if Mr. Obama has his way, my beautiful tokens of affections (which Ms. Marini and I will be fondly recalling to our children decades from now, once she comes to her senses) would be used as evidence against me in a stalking trial just because we’re towards the beginning of the second act when she’s still complaining to her “ugly” friend (who in real life just posed for a photo layout in Maxim but she’s wearing eyeglasses and a loose sweatshirt in our story so you know she’s not hot) what a pain in the ass I am. I plead with Mr. Obama to drop this “stalking” proclamation on Valentine’s Day so that romantics like Ms. Marini and me can properly play the game. Or if he must keep it on the books, at least have the website where women report stalkers created by the same people who made the one for ObamaCare. That will buy me lots of time. [click to continue…]