In producing the 2nd Annual Sammy Awards, I began to imagine the choices I would make if this were to become a televised awards show. I would want it to be taken a bit more seriously than MTV’s awards shows, but not be quite as demure as The Academy Awards. The telecast itself would certainly have a brisk pace, because anything over 2 hours loses the audience’s attention and reeks of self-important ostentatiousness. There would be no acceptance speeches because A) a few of these categories have far too many nominees to have in the audience, and B) there are some awards where the winner might not be especially proud of the victory. The host of the show would be actor Paul Giamatti. I believe him to be one of the more talented yet underrated actors in Hollywood, with just the right mix of gravitas, low-key sense of humor, and beleaguered animosity simmering just below the surface that I appreciate tremendously. We would be live on HBO, which would eliminate commercial interruptions, allow for abundant repeats, and create a sense of freedom that should minimize any kind of politically correct pomposity inherent in dealing with the broadcast networks. So without further ado, let us take an introspective look back at the year that was 2011 and reward the people & stories that made it another memorable ride.
To present our first award, The Manofesto is proud to introduce the cast of the classic 1985 teen dramedy The Breakfast Club: Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, Emilio Estevez, & Molly Ringwald. And the nominees are:
Favorite Movie (That I’ve Seen)
I loved the original, and the sequel benefited from the addition of Dustin Hoffman & Barbara Streisand to the cast. However, this third battle of wills between patriarch Robert Deniro and son-in-law Ben Stiller is lacking something. It feels like it was written & produced in a hurry and unfortunately not very well. It’s an example of going to the well one too many times and trying to extract one last drop out of something that is already empty.
I really thought this movie had potential, but outside of Cameron Diaz being smoking hot it has few redeeming qualities. Diaz stars as a teacher who absolutely hates her job, but is forced to keep it after her wealthy fiancée dumps her. It is never explained why such a shallow, mean spirited malcontent chose teaching as a profession in the first place, which is a question that can’t help but baffle any viewer with a working brain as we see this 30-something woman smoke pot at school, drink like a fish, and let her students watch movies while she sleeps. I am assuming it is supposed to be funny, but I did not find myself laughing. I kept looking for a reason to root for the character (who spends much of the movie scheming to raise enough money for an expensive boob job), but there just isn’t any. Justin Timberlake (who I’ve rapidly come to really like as an actor) is decent in a supporting role, and I really enjoyed newcomer Lucy Punch as Diaz’ goody-two-shoes rival teacher. The real crime is the underutilization of very talented actor Jason Segal (How I Met Your Mother, Forgetting Sarah Marshall), who is barely an afterthought.
No Strings Attached
This is the first of two nominees where the story revolves around two pals who decide to enter into a purely physical relationship without the messy complications of romance. Starring Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher, it’s not a bad little film, but it ain’t Shakespeare either. I was sort of surprised at the rather dramatic turn it took toward the end, and Portman has potential as a comedic actress although it clearly is not her comfort zone.
One might think that a 30-something year old man going to see a movie with The Muppets is kind of odd or maybe even a bit sad. I am sure all the soccer moms in the theater with their crumb crunchers might have thought it strange as well, but thank goodness I was clean shaven and not wearing a Penn St. hoodie. At any rate, there aren’t enough superlatives in the dictionary to describe what a wonderful experience this film is. Is it corny?? Sure, but that’s okay. For those of us that grew up in the 70’s & 80’s when Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzy Bear, and the rest of the gang were a ubiquitous part of pop culture it’s like being a kid again. And the angle that is taken…acknowledging that The Muppets are forgotten relics and that the world prefers edgier entertainment nowadays…is absolutely brilliant. There are wonderful cameos, smartly written in jokes about movies, and of course goofy song & dance numbers. Jason Segal (he who did not receive enough screen time in Bad Teacher) is awesome, which is a surprise because I never figured him as a musical kind of guy. Amy Adams is her usual perky self and perfectly cast.
The Hangover 2
It’s not that it’s not a funny movie…it is. The drug dealing monkey elicits some chuckles, and Zack Galifinakis is still hilarious. It’s just that the folks in charge got really really lazy…or were just afraid to take any chances…and so what we get is almost a replica of the first film, only set in Bankok instead of Vegas. The original was unique, but the sequel is just predictable and safe.
Friends With Benefits
Two decades ago the Billy Crystal/Meg Ryan classic rom-com When Harry Met Sally asked the question “Can men & women ever just be friends??”. In 2011 this was the second film to turn that question on its ear and ponder the implications of two friends having casual sex without dating or falling in love. I enjoyed this take on the situation a lot more than the aforementioned No Strings Attached, which I think can be owed to the winning charm of the two leads, Justin Timberlake & That 70’s Show’s Mila Kunis. Sure we can all see the ending coming a mile away, but it’s a fun trip.
I presume it is supposed to be The Hangover for ladies, but it falls short of the mark. SNL’s Kristin Wiig stars as a down-on-her-luck baker whose best friend is getting married. Wiig is the maid of honor and an eclectic group of ladies round out the wedding party. We see this group of women gather for several events that I guess women get into when planning the festivities. Hilarity ensues, atleast theoretically. There are some funny moments in the film, but it is a mixed bag. Wiig’s character is such a pathetic and, at times, unlikeable loser that it’s really difficult to become invested in her journey. Mike & Molly’s Melissa McCarthy steals the show as one of the bridesmaids and is the best thing about the movie.
Two guys get a week long “vacation” from marriage from their frustrated wives. It’s a fresh twist on the relationship genre, and it sorta kinda works, doing so in a way one does not see coming. The two guys…Owen Wilson & SNL’s Jason Sudeikis…are okay, and the wives…Christina Applegate and The Office’s Jenna Fischer…are quite fetching. The funny twist is that the men, when given this tremendous opportunity that many middle aged dudes would kill for, totally whiff and realize just what complete losers they are, while the ladies are the ones who find out they still got it even if they are unsure they want to use it. This is a less funny, less cool version of Old School, but it isn’t a bad way to spend an evening. I could have done without that idiotic shrew Joy Behar besmirching the screen, but I got over it.
And the Sammy goes to…..
The Muppets. Honestly, toward the end when Kermit breaks out into Rainbow Connection I became so swelled with happiness & emotion that if I could have jumped out of my wheelchair and given a standing ovation I swear to God I would have (obviously that did not happen cause if it did you might have read about it in your local newspaper). I sincerely hope more Muppet movies are made and that a whole new generation grows to love them as much as their parents did. 2011 was kind of a down year for movies in my humble opinion, with the vast majority of films being crap that I had no interest in seeing and several of the ones I did see being somewhat disappointing, but The Muppets was a fine way to end the year.
Regrettably Vice President Joe Biden had to decline our invitation to participate, but to present the next award we found a “man” who is certainly a clown and apparently knows a lot about ass. Please give a tepid welcome to soon-to-be former (thank God) U.S. Congressman Barney Frank. And the nominees are:
Assclown of the Year
Charlie Sheen has had what most would call an above average acting career, starring in a handful of decent movies like Red Dawn, Platoon, Major League, & Wall Street, as well as two pretty good TV shows: Spin City & Two and a Half Men. But he’s also long had a reputation as a party animal, and that reached a crescendo in 2011. Sheen apparently lost his damn mind back in the first quarter of the year, becoming a media sensation after doing a few interviews and posting some YouTube videos in which he appeared to be batshit crazy. He told the masses that he was “tired of pretending like my life isn’t perfect” and said that he was indeed using a drug called Charlie Sheen. That drug, according to Sheen, is made of “tiger blood’ and “Adonis DNA”. Whether it was all an act or Charlie is genuinely nuts, eventually his behavior got him canned from his sitcom, after which he went on a nationwide tour doing a one man show called Violent Torpedo of Truth. You can’t make this stuff up.
Rep. Anthony Weiner
The ironically named & very married Weiner…a 46 year old, 7 term U.S. Congressman…not only made the absolutely idiotic mistake of putting a picture of his junk on Twitter, but he then gave a very weak denial in which he acted like he couldn’t recognize his own penis. He was only able to run from his own stupidity for about a month before being forced to resign. Where have you gone John Adams??
Back when Pryor was a highly recruited high school QB he was being courted by my WV Mountaineers. That all ended when then head coach Rich Fraudriguez bolted for Michigan, and I opined at the time that the Mountaineers had dodged a bullet. I was right. Pryor is very talented, but he is an egotistical prima donna who, to the surprise of no one who’d been paying attention, managed to do significant damage to the fabled Ohio State program. Sure there were other players who got suspended for trading memorabilia for tattoos (which is asinine), but the red hot spotlight shined down on Pryor, who should have shown better leadership qualities. Instead he seemed to scoff at the NCAA investigation, publicly driving a sports car that no uncompensated college football player could possibly afford. I’m not sure we will ever know how much money & other illegal benefits Pryor received as a Buckeye, and it’s a damn shame that his former coach Jim Tressel’s career is effectively over and the team will be suffering under NCAA sanctions for a few years, all while this ghetto thug is making quite the comfortable living in the NFL.
It was the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine. On May 21, 2011 the California based (well there you go…that explains it) “Christian” radio broadcaster predicted that Jesus would return to begin The Rapture, which would then culminate in the end of the end on October 21st. Needless to say neither event occurred. This wasn’t Camping’s first rodeo, as he had also predicted The Apocalypse in 1988 & 1994. I guess if one keeps blindly throwing darts long enough eventually…maybe…you might hit something. Any genuine Christian…and even the ones who have successfully faked it long enough that all the fundraisers & public displays of phony religiosity make them SEEM authentic…knows that The Bible, in the book of Matthew, says that we “know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh”. But I guess Camping has shucked that pesky Bible stuff in favor of numerology. How’s that workin’ out for ya there Harry??
MLB Umpire Jerry Meals
My Pittsburgh Pirates, after nearly two decades of frustrating futility, finally seemed to be on the verge of a breakthrough in 2011. They were actually in first place after 100 games near the end of July. On July 26 the Pirates battled the Atlanta Braves into the wee hours of the next morning. After 19 innings of all even baseball home plate umpire Meals made what might be the single worst call in the history of baseball, declaring Braves runner Julio Lugo safe at home plate when he was clearly out by a country mile. The Pirates completely crumbled following the crushing loss, going 19-42 the remainder of the season and finishing in 4th place, 24 games out & 18 games below .500. Both Meals & MLB later acknowledged the colossal mistake, but a lot of good that did.
Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I consider marriage sacred. I realize I am in the minority nowadays since the divorce rate in America is somewhere around 50%, but I’m betting that the overwhelming majority of marriages still last a lot longer than 72 days, which is how long this mental giant’s union with NBA bench warmer Kris Humphries lasted before she decided she was bored. Kardashian was already worthy of a nomination simply by being herself…an obnoxious, out of touch, airheaded attention whore who is only famous because she made a sex tape. However, having her head stuck so far up her own ample posterior that she decided to give up on marriage less than 3 months in makes her even more worthy of consideration.
First of all, what a stupid nickname. His actual name is Ahmir Khalib Thompson, which figures. He is the drummer for The Roots, a band so successful & popular that they had to resort to taking a gig as the house band on a late night TV show. Back in November this idiot had the band play a song called Lyin’ Ass Bitch (how classy) as Presidential candidate and U.S. Congresswoman Michele Bachmann made her way onto the stage of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. He even tweeted beforehand about what he was going to do. Now if a conservative entertainer would have perpetuated such a sophomoric gag on a liberal politician, the outcry would have been loud & forceful. But since Bachmann is a Republican Mr. Thompson faced no penalty and was only halfheartedly reprimanded by his network bosses. The situation, as well as Rep. Bachmann, was treated like one big joke.
Penn St. Fans
As late as Halloween no one would have ever predicted that legendary Nittany Lions football coach Joe Paterno would be fired before the end of the season. However, less than two weeks later he was ousted, buried under a mountain of criticism that he had not done enough after being told that former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was molesting young boys in the locker room showers. Thousands of the school’s students (and I suspect a considerable number of adult non-students) took to the streets in protest, acting as if Paterno had been canned because he’d lost a bowl game or not won a conference championship. It was completely backassward (as my Grandma might have said) and a total failure to recognize the seriousness of the charges, not to mention utterly disrespectful to the alleged victims of the abuse. I am a passionate sports fan and can appreciate such fervor, but there are things that are far & away more significant than sports, a fact the folks in Happy Valley, PA don’t seem to grasp.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
Commandant Fidel Goodell isn’t fooling me. He has consistently abused the power of his position by handing out arbitrary fines & suspensions. It’s all under the guise of “player safety”, which has caused Goodell to crack down on “helmet to helmet” and other bone crushing hits that not that long ago were highlight reel fodder. I realize that modern medical advancements and research have revealed alarming information about concussions & their long term effects. No one wants to see players suffer brain damage or any other calamity. But neither do fans want to see the game we love watered down & wussified to the point that it is unrecognizable. At best Goodell and his minions need to develop some structure & consistency in the rules and the way players are disciplined.
And the Sammy goes to…..
This seems like the appropriate place to take a break.
Please join us tomorrow for Part II of the 2011 Sammy Awards!!