Welcome back!! After a brief delay (to build suspense…yeah…that’s it…suspense) we have returned for the conclusion of the 2014 Sammy Awards. Please be sure to check out Parts I & II if you have not already done so.
After a moving tribute to the late Robin Williams by our host Billy Crystal as well as Whoopi Goldberg, Henry Winkler, Matt Damon, & Garry Marshall it is time to present our next award.
Please give a warm ovation to a young man who is able to join us because his team stubbornly refuses to revamp a horrendous defensive secondary and therefore has been eliminated from the NFL playoffs. Welcome to the stage the two time Super Bowl winning quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers…Ben Roethlisberger!! And the nominees are:
Biggest Sports Sports Story
The Winter Olympics
When the most memorable thing to happen during an Olympics is Bob Costas’ pink eye I think it means they’re doing it wrong.
Seattle Wins The Super Bowl
The Seahawks defense dominated Peyton Manning & the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII (that’s 48 for those of you who might be here all night trying to utilize Common Core to figure it out…you’re welcome). Might we see a rematch in the near future?? It’s possible.
Derek Jeter Retires
I’ve never been much of a Yankees fan. Okay…I despise them for no apparent reason. However, Jeter has always seemed like a classy guy, and to my knowledge he was never accused of juicing unlike ¾ of MLB. He hung up the cleats last fall after two decades…all with the same team, which is a refreshing rarity, and got a game winning hit in his last at-bat, which was pretty cool even if the game itself was meaningless.
The World Cup
I’ve tried…I really have. But I just can’t get into soccer. Now the Quidditch World Cup…that I’d watch…maybe.
Lebron James Comes Home
Few have been harder on Lebron James than your humble Potentate of Profundity. The way he left the Cleveland Cavaliers a few years ago for the Miami Heat…with that idiotic television spectacle called The Decision…was asinine. However, I am a forgiving man and Lebron has apparently seen the error of his ways, especially in regard to The Decision. He has returned home to Cleveland, and even though things are a bit rough right now I have no doubt that he’ll have the Cavs in the playoffs this summer and in serious championship contention next year.
College Football Playoff
After decades of “mythical” national champions and BCS silliness college football finally got a 4 team playoff this season. The specifics & the methodology need some fine tuning, but I have to admit that the playoff committee ultimately chose the right four teams. The two semi-final games got monster TV ratings, and I am sure the title game will do so as well.
And the Sammy goes to…..
Lebron. Homecomings are always cool. I understand why he left even if I disagree with how he did it. He has grown up now and has different priorities. I hope there is a happy ending. The Cavaliers haven’t gotten off to the best start and have made some moves that seem kind of desperate. They aren’t winning a championship this season, and it looks like their current head coach probably shouldn’t be buying any property in Cleveland. I sincerely hope Lebron James doesn’t get frustrated & impatient and leave his hometown a second time. That would be horrible and might send me into the kind of rage that ends with a prison sentence even though I really couldn’t care less about the NBA. Until we get to that bridge though I will remain optimistic and believe that this will all turn out to be a really nice story.
The Charles Barkley Role Model Award
There isn’t a list of nominees for this award. There is only one nominee & winner. Lauren Hill is a 19 year old woman who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor a little over a year ago during her senior year in high school. The first thing Lauren wanted to know after her diagnosis was if she could still play basketball. She finished her senior year and set her sights on playing college ball. Lauren had already committed to Mt. St. Joseph University, a Division III program in Cincinnati, OH, before her diagnosis. In September 2014 a scan showed that Lauren’s tumor had grown and she was unlikely to make it to Christmas. Her dream was to play in one college basketball game, a goal that she achieved. Lauren got to play in 4 games before her health would not allow her to continue. She also utilized her growing notoriety to start a fundraising campaign for cancer research that has raised over $1 million. And oh by the way, the doctors were wrong…Lauren made it thru the holidays. She & her family are being assisted by hospice care, but she got to see one last Christmas & New Year’s. I don’t know Lauren Hill. I don’t know anything about her other than what I have read and seen on television. But one thing I do know is that Lauren chose life. She chose to battle this evil scourge called cancer to the bitter end. She achieved her goal and took time to do something helpful for others. Godspeed Lauren…I’ll keep you & your family in my prayers.
The following awards were handed out last weekend at an abandoned Ramada Inn just outside Detroit:
Most Annoying Song
Happy by Pharrell Williams
Idiot of the Year
“Daredevil Naturalist” Paul Rosolie (the guy who was “eaten alive” by an anaconda for a Discovery Channel special)
Most Disappointing Movie
Funniest TV Moment
Frank Caliendo reads Lebron James’ “Letter to Cleveland” in the voice of Morgan Freeman on Mike & Mike in the Morning
The appeal & continuing success of Taylor Swift
Best Game to Play on Your Phone
Those who had an issue with a free U2 album being added to their iTunes library
Our next presenter(s) come to us via satellite. Please give a slightly puzzled welcome to infamous Brat Pack actor Rob Lowe, along with his pals Super Creepy Rob Lowe, Painfully Awkward Rob Lowe, Far Less Attractive Rob Lowe, Scrawny Arms Rob Lowe, Meathead Rob Lowe, & Crazy Hairy Rob Lowe.
And the nominees are:
Muppets Most Wanted
This is a follow-up to The Muppet Movie, which won The Sammy for Favorite Movie in 2011. Unfortunately this one lacks the same magic. Neither Jason Segel nor Amy Adams return from the previous film, and instead we get Ricky Gervais as a sinister criminal and Tina Fey as a German prison guard, as well as cameos from Tony Bennett, Puff Daddy (or is it P. Diddy??), Celine Dion, Lady Gaga, Josh Groban, & Ray Liotta. It’s not a bad way to spend a couple of hours, but just isn’t as charming as its predecessor.
God’s Not Dead
The premise is this…a college student decides to stand up to his atheist philosophy professor. It’s not a horrible film and is somewhat inspiring at times. Here’s the problem with this as well as other “Christian” films though…Christians will like it while non-believers will scoff (as non-believers are wont to do). So what exactly does it accomplish if it is “preaching to the choir”?? I don’t think this movie is going to convince anyone of anything as written. The idea is ripe with potential, but the execution is lacking. Nice try though.
Kevin Costner finally decided to do a sports film. Okay okay…I’m joking. We all know that Costner is the king of sports movies. This time he plays an NFL GM whose team (the Cleveland Browns) has the #1 overall pick in the upcoming draft (talk about realism!!). He’s not sure which player he wants to take, but we are introduced to three candidates: a cocky QB (sound familiar Browns fans??), a talented RB, & an underrated linebacker. The GM has some drama going on in his personal life too, but it’s really not that compelling. Draft Day is no threat to replace Field of Dreams, Bull Durham, or even Tin Cup as beloved Costner classics, but as a fictionalized behind the scenes look at the NFL Draft it is decently entertaining.
The critics are raving about this film. It is a coming-of-age story about a 6 year old boy and his slightly older sister being raised by their single mother in Texas. Their father (played by Ethan Hawke) pops in & out of their lives but is a good Dad. What is unique about Boyhood is that it was filmed over the course of 12 years, so we literally watch these two kids grow up in the space of a couple of hours. The same actors were used the entire dozen years. It is a fascinating & mesmerizing concept. However, there are a couple of issues. First of all the distinctive idea doesn’t have any kind of really interesting plot accompanying it. It is just about the ups & downs of everyday life…love, marriage, divorce, parenting, breakups, drinking, drugs, friendship, loss. It’s not that those things can’t be interesting, it’s just that I found myself asking “what is the point??” beyond the singular way the story is presented. The other issue is that the filmmakers and Hawke…an unabashed liberal…couldn’t resist taking a few political potshots along the way. These jabs were unnecessary and only distracted from my enjoyment of the film. Some things are better left unsaid.
A Merry Friggin’ Christmas
I love Christmas movies and I love Robin Williams. I had to check out one of his last projects. I’d be lying if I said that Williams’ demise didn’t have a negative impact on my perspective. The whole time I was watching I just kept thinking how worn down & disengaged he looked. This is not the enthusiastic, energetic, witty, full of life Robin Williams we all knew & loved. The story involves a somewhat alienated father & son taking a road trip back to the son’s house to fetch some misplaced Christmas presents for his children. It is funny in spots, but not nearly funny enough. This isn’t a movie the masses will be watching every Christmas in perpetuity like so many others.
Seth Rogan and his wife & kid move in next door to a fraternity house. Hilarity ensues. Mildly funny but mostly forgettable.
Million Dollar Arm
This is based on a real life story wherein a hotshot baseball agent mines the mean streets of India for untapped talent. It is somewhat charming but also mostly forgettable.
Adam Sandler & Drew Barrymore have teamed successfully before… in 1998’s The Wedding Singer and again in 2004’s 50 First Dates, both of which are the kind of solidly entertaining movies one is apt to watch multiple times, especially if it comes on some random TV channel on a lazy weekend. Will Blended become that kind of “modern classic”?? Ehhh…probably not. The duo portray two single parents whose initial blind date is disastrous, but then both inexplicably end up bumping into one another (with their respective children) during a vacation in Africa. We all know the inevitable conclusion, but we don’t care if the journey is satisfactory. I think there are just too many moving parts here that don’t allow us to focus on the central romance. Blended tries really hard and isn’t a terrible film by any means.
This Is Where I Leave You
Take the 1983 classic The Big Chill and cross breed it with 2005’s The Family Stone and you come up with this dramedy about a dysfunctional family forced to sit shiva for a week after their father’s death. I am usually a sucker for the dramedy format, but this one goes back & forth more than a ping pong ball. It can’t decide whether it wants to be funny or serious, and that uncertainty hurts the momentum. The cast (Jason Bateman, Tina Fey, Dax Shepard, Katherine Hahn, and many others) is outstanding, but probably a bit bloated. Adam Driver may be on the verge of superstardom as the bad guy in the new Star Wars movie(s), but I think his true calling is following in the footsteps of Vince Vaughn as the always likable ne’er-do-well. TIWILY is, overall, kind of a downer, but it has its moments.
I love a good rom-com, and this is a good rom-com. Originally released internationally in 2013 as The F Word (no…not that F word), it was finally released in North America in 2014 after the politically correct name change. Daniel Radcliffe sheds his Harry Potter persona quite nicely as a jaded young man who falls in love with a young woman he meets at a party. That young woman, portrayed by the enchanting Zoe Kazan (why she isn’t a bigger star is a mystery to me), has a boyfriend and immediately puts Radcliffe’s Wallace into “the friend zone”. Yes I know…we’ve seen this a thousand times and we all know how the story ends, but that’s okay as long as the script is well written and the cast is good. What If is kind of an updated riff on When Harry Met Sally, which is fine by me. Adam Driver shows up playing the same kind of aforementioned scalawag that seems to be his strength, and another captivating young actress named Mackenzie Davis that I am quickly developing an affinity for has a nice supporting role.
Heaven is for Real
This is a stronger effort in the Christian film genre than God’s Not Dead and is based on a true story. A 4 year old child becomes ill and has emergency surgery. After his recovery he begins to act strange and reveals to his family that he went to Heaven and saw God. His father is a minister in rural Nebraska and even he has doubts about his son’s claims. The small community doesn’t like the publicity that the story brings and ponders ousting the preacher. Greg Kinnear is an underrated actor and touchingly portrays the struggle of this minister and how his beliefs are shaken. Again, this is kind of “preaching to the choir” in that it’s the type of movie that will appeal mostly to believers, but unlike God’s Not Dead I think it has the potential to give fence sitters some food for thought.
That Awkward Moment
Three 20-something dudes suffering from a severe case of arrested development agree to stay single in solidarity with one another. Of course immediately thereafter they all find themselves in relationships. Complications arise…some of them funny, some of them not-so-much. I haven’t decided if I like Zac Efron or not, but I do know that if he wants to ever be taken seriously as an actor he has to grow beyond these juvenile frat boy parts. I do like up n’ comer Miles Teller, and the aforementioned Mackenzie Davis has a supporting role.
This is a well-executed biopic about the legendary 1960’s band Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons and is based on a Tony Award winning play. The actors are all Broadway vets and do their own singing, which is impressive. I learned a lot about Valli and his pals, which isn’t saying much since the only thing I knew before was the music. It is amazing to ponder what heights The Four Seasons could have achieved if everyone would have stayed on the same page and maintained a laser focus on their collective success. Alas life has a way of interfering and stuff happens. As it is though the foursome ended up with five #1 hits, sold over 100 million albums, and were inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hal of Fame in 1990. Not bad, right??
IMDB users have quickly crowned this the worst movie of all time, which I think is rather harsh, especially considering competition like From Justin to Kelly, Glitter, & Gigli. Look, I realize that Kirk Cameron is a polarizing figure. Even some Christians don’t like the guy. But I have to give him credit for making this effort. I’m not sure I completely agree with all of the theology, but there is some decent food for thought here. Santa was a badass?? Who knew?? Saving Christmas wasn’t exactly what I was expecting, and I think the same points could have been made in a more acceptable format, but this is far from the worst film ever made. Haters are just gonna hate I guess.
And the Sammy goes to…..
What If. I have to be honest…I didn’t go to the movies as often as I would have liked in 2014 and there were several films I didn’t get a chance to see. In a relatively weak field What If stood out. Is it a bit derivative?? Sure. But that can be said about a lot of things. The fact is that the masses enjoy this kind of story and that’s why filmmakers keep churning them out. Many crash & burn, while some are just distinctive enough to carve out their own spot in the crowd. This is the latter. Don’t worry Harry Potter fans…Daniel Radcliffe is going to do just fine as a muggle.
To present our final award of the evening The Manofesto is honored to bring back a man that had so much fun presenting in 2012 that he called and asked if he could participate again. His presence has the added benefit of annoying liberals which is always fun. Please give a warm welcome to the former President of the United States…George W. Bush!! And the nominees are:
Biggest News Story
WV Water Crisis
In the early days of January 2014 there was a chemical spill into the Elk River in the capitol city of Charleston, WV. Nearly 300k residents in 9 counties were without drinkable water for several days. The owner of the plant where the spill occurred, Freedom Industries, filed for bankruptcy within a week of the incident.
Malaysian Airliner Mystery
2014 was a tough year for Malaysia Airlines. In March a plane carrying over 200 passengers disappeared mysteriously somewhere in the Indian Ocean. No debris was ever found and conspiracy theories popped up, mostly from people who had been a little too into that TV show Lost. Was the plane hijacked by terrorists?? Was North Korea somehow involved?? Are the passengers alive somewhere on an island hanging out with Gilligan, The Professor, and the dude from Cast Away?? We’ll probably never know. To make matters worse another Malaysia Airlines flight crashed in July, killing nearly 300 passengers. But atleast we know that plane was shot down by a Russian missile. The moral of the story is don’t ever fly Malaysia Airlines…like ever.
Ebola in America
Ebola is the kind of deadly Third World virus that we usually read about in National Geographic, but in 2014 it hit very close to home. About 10 people in the U.S. were diagnosed with ebola. Two people died. Most of those contracted the disease outside of America and a couple were nurses that contracted it while treating ebola stricken patients. Some say the concern was overblown, but it is human nature to fear what we do not know.
Ferguson, MO Race Riots
Back in August an 18 year old black man was shot & killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis. Some say Michael Brown was a nice kid who was gunned down by a racist cop. Others believe that Brown was a thug and that Officer Darren Wilson was just doing his job after Brown had robbed a convenience store then resisted arrest and assaulted the officer. Unfortunately the former opinion touched off violent protests, vandalism, & looting that lasted for weeks. Ultimately Officer Wilson was not indicted by a grand jury but understandably resigned from the Ferguson PD.
Same Sex Marriage Spreads
Same sex marriage became legal in an additional 19 states in 2014, meaning that it is now legal in about 35 states. And that’s all I have to say about that.
Secret Service Ineptitude
Look, I’m no fan of President Obama, but that doesn’t mean I want to see him get kidnapped or murdered. The Secret Service is supposed to protect the President 24/7/365, but in 2014 there were…issues. There were atleast two incidents of unauthorized, ordinary people just waltzing into The White House unnoticed, while an unauthorized and armed security guard for the Centers for Disease Control somehow gained access to an elevator and took a little ride with the President while he was visiting Atlanta. Come on folks…get your stuff together.
Robin Williams’ Suicide
I have been a huge Robin Williams fan since I was a kid. He was a brilliant comedian and an even better actor that could do dramatic and funny roles with equal aplomb. I knew he had battled substance addictions in the past, but I wasn’t aware that he also suffered from severe depression. On 8/11/14 that vibrant, talented, complicated life came to an abrupt & all too premature conclusion when Williams ended his own life. I am usually not that invested in any actor/comedian/singer/celebrity. They come, they go. Their stardom shines bright for a short time and then it fades. But I have to say that I was rocked by this tragedy. Oh sure…not all of his movies were winners, but so many of them were and we assumed that there’d be more. I am not an expert on clinical depression, but I find it profoundly sad that someone who seemed to have it all didn’t feel his life was worth continuing. I am sad for his fans who will never be able to look forward to another awesome performance or even a funny appearance on a late night talk show, and I am sad for a family that has lost a husband & father.
ISIS stands for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. They are a group of Muslim terrorists that have a penchant for kidnapping people and then cutting off their heads. In 2014 ISIS beheaded atleast a couple dozen people, including a few Americans. I am sure the videos are available somewhere online, although I am not sure why anyone would want to see that. But don’t worry folks…Islam is a religion of peace. They mean no harm and there is nothing to be concerned about. And also I have some lovely beachfront property in South Dakota that I am willing to sell for three Hershey Bars and a tricycle. Call me!!
Mid-Term Election Republican Sweep
In November 2014 the Republicans gained control of the U.S. Senate, increased their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, and gained an additional two governorships. Even here in WV Republicans took control of the legislature for the first time in…forever (I think). Unfortunately controlling the U.S. Congress won’t mean a thing as long as Rep. John “Tears” Boehner and Sen. Mitch McConnell are in charge and willing to bend over to kiss Obama’s…ring.
Veterans Administration Scandal
My father is a veteran and has received acceptable care with various issues from the local VA Hospital, but I guess not everyone has been so lucky. Apparently dozens of patients have died while trying to wade thru weeks & months of red tape & waiting lists in the past several years. Investigations are ongoing.
Terrorists Kidnap School Girls in Nigeria
In April 2014 nearly 300 teenage female students at a school in Nigeria were kidnapped by a Muslim terrorist group (them again) called Boko Haram. Months later only a few of the girls had been rescued. A couple escaped. A few were killed. Supposedly many of them have been taken to various other countries and sold into slavery. The inept Nigerian government has done basically nothing, and the only U.S. response was to express anger on Twitter (#BringBackOurGirls), as if that’ll accomplish anything.
And the Sammy goes to…..
Ferguson. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I do know a few things. I know that Michael Brown wasn’t an innocent kid. It’s simple…don’t commit robbery or any other kind of crime and the police won’t have the opportunity to shoot you. I know that the reaction was way way way over-the-top. I don’t get looting. People need to mind their own business. If a guy down the street from me gets beaten or shot by the cops…right or wrong…why in the world is that a reason for me to walk downtown, set fires & bust out windows, and steal a TV from the local electronics store?? It’s idiotic. As far as we’ve come with race relations in America in the previous 3 or 4 decades it feels as though we’ve gone backward in the past few years. I am sure that there are bad law enforcement officers out there, but I think the vast majority do a damn fine job. It’s not their fault that black males are about 6% of the American population but are almost half of the prison population in the U.S. That’s not racism…it’s fact. Yet we have whackjobs like pretty much the entire lineup of MSNBC talking heads that see racism in e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, and people like “Rev.” Jesse Jackson & “Rev.” Al Sharpton (aka The Justice Brothers) that make a living out of stirring the pot. It’s pathetic and insulting. And while it is tragic that a young man lost his life in Ferguson it is also sad that a lot of other people lost businesses & property because people decided to use that tragedy as an excuse to act like animals and compound the issue exponentially. Can’t we all just get along??