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Movie Journal: Step Brothers

Step Brothers is probably the out-and-out raunchiest of the movies made by Will Ferrell and director/co-writer Adam McKay. Where their previous collaborations like Anchorman and Talledega Nights had their moments, they were more about gleaning the comedy from a collection of characters more than trying to get a laugh from, say, Ferrell rubbing his testicles on John C. Reilly’s drumset (and no, that’s not a metaphor – it’s a set of drums).

But Step Brothers is extremely funny if you go along for the ride. All of the sequences seen in the trailers play out even better when surrounded by the supporting material. Watching Ferrell hit Reilly in the face with a shovel and then try to bury him alive, for instance, was all over the marketing but actually works better in the film itself.

The thing that makes it funnier than it probably should be is that the actors are so committed to their characters. That’s the same secret ingredient that makes Anchorman and the other films work so well and it’s in good supply here.

This is what I get for learning more about church history

Perhaps it’s because the two both fell on a Sunday this year, but I just learned that December 28th is not only my birthday (I turned 34 yesterday) but also, according to Christian tradition, the remembrance of the Massacre of the Holy Innocents. It commemorates this event from Matthew 2: 16 – 18:

Herod Kills the Children

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

Goodbye Mr. Lennell

The Maurice Lennell outlet in Norridge has closed. This was a destination point for many Sunday afternoon post-church drives when I was a kid so it’s sad to see this go.

Movie Journal: Fred Claus

There are moments in Fred Claus that give the watcher a glimpse of the kind of movie it could have been if the script didn’t so often descend into some of the most well-worn cliches of the Christmas movie. Most of these moments come when stars Vince Vaughn and Paul Giamatti are able to really let loose and actuallly act. Each one has a handful of moments when their performances transcend the material they’re given and do something special.

Overall Fred Claus isn’t the worst Christmas movie I’ve seen but it’s by no means the best. Enjoyable and worth checking out for those few and far-between performance moments.

QOTD: 12/29/08

Charlie O’Donnell:

Ask anyone in PR what they tell their clients when they say they want to be on TechCrunch–it isn’t worth it.  You’ll get a firehouse of traffic that will be gone in a week, with few of the people likely to be in your target audience anyway–unless your audience is other Web 2.0 entrepreneurs.

Incidentally, the idea that’s been floated of ranking Twitter search results by the number of followers is just the kind of thing that sounds interesting at first but which wouldn’t really work. Google ranks results based on an equation involving multiple factors that adds up to their definition of “authority.” While I don’t agree with some people’s assertions that *everyone* is gaming the number of Twitter followers they have, basing authority on one number isn’t all that comprehensive or accurate. Yeah, you could ignore it or sort results in other ways but it’s still a stupid idea.


I had MMM columns for Valkyrie, Last Chance Harvey and The Reader on my mind for this week but just never got to them. I’m sure I’ll be disappointed that I didn’t cover them when I look back on the end of December six months from now but right now I’m just too tired to care very much.

The next few weeks are, thankfully, light on movies worth covering as we enter the January doldrums.

More regular posting will likely pick up next week. In the meantime I’ll be turning 34 on Sunday and doing some planning for 2009 both personally and professionally.

–Chris FTW

We had a worrisome moment the other day in the Thilk household when we realized that the instructions for a Lego “Creator” set had gotten lost in the year between 1) We received it and 2) Anyone was interested in actually building the vehicles shown on the box.

Luckily for me, I’d seen Jake McKee speak at BlogOrlando a couple of times.

Wait, what?

See Jake used to be a community evangelist for Lego and still talks about them often, telling the story of fan enthusiasm and his efforts to embrace those fans by the community, as well as the ways fans have created their own tools for sharing their passion.

So anyway, I eventually remembered Jake mentioning that most of Lego’s instructions were now online and so I ran upstairs, grabbed my laptop, hit the website, found the correct product code and within five minutes a construction vehicle was being built. I even downloaded a PDF of the original instruction sheet so I can pull it up any time I need to.

Lego putting the instructions online, I’m sure, has helped out a lot of people in similar situations to mine. Doing so not only helps resolve the immediate crisis but also has done a lot to enhance the goodwill I have for the company and its strategies. Good for them on all counts.

QOTD: 12/26/08

Tribble Ad Agency:

For all those legacy HD-DVD vs Blu-Ray format war vets, the winner was none of the above… it was downloaded movies and videos.

Merry Christmas

At the risk of offending some readers I’m going to go ahead and wish you all a Merry Christmas. You might have different religious or cultural beliefs but as a confessional Lutheran this is what I’m sticking with. No, we don’t know that Christ was born on December 25th. Yes, there might be underpinnings of other cultural traditions that have gone into what we now consider Christmas. I’m alright with all that.

But Christians hold dear to this date as the celebration of the arrival into this world of our savior Jesus Christ. Born among the lowliest animals, his kingdom is not of this world but of the next. He didn’t come to show us how to manage our finances, how to win political elections or anything else, just to act as a propitiation for our sins and intermediary between us and God the Father.

So Merry Christmas, everyone. God’s blessings on you all.

Finding an Audience: Distribution Notes for 12/24/08

bowling-pinsThe Seattle Times has a good story on how Netflix is bridging the PC/TV divide, something that’s long been the stumbling point for online video. If they can lead the way on this – since Apple doesn’t seem to be interested in expanding beyond the early adoptor niche – they can truly dominate this field.

Massify has finished its first fan-created horror film Perkins 14 and R/WW has the details on how they did it.

CineVegas’ Roger Erik Tinch is doing a bit of forward thinking about online distribution and viewing in 2009 that is based on what has come before.

The DVD of Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog actually contains value-add material, providing a strong reason for those of us who already bought the show on iTunes to also seek out the disc. That sort of incentive is what’s missing from most “Special Editions” that contain little but self-aggrandizement.