Greetings, and welcome to the 2019 Sammy Awards!! What began as an annual Year in Review more than a decade ago has evolved into the world’s most beloved faux awards show, which we are proud to present for the ninth time. The Sammys are an irreverent yet respectful look back at the people, places, & events that shaped the previous twelve months. Perhaps someday a streaming service like Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon will pick up the show, but until then we shall soldier on. As always most of the nominees aren’t in attendance and there are no acceptance speeches. Our program isn’t a neurotic, pompous, smug snoozefest like The Oscars or The Grammys, and unlike the prevailing trend we do have a host, although finding the right person was not an easy task. The job was offered to actresses Felicity Huffman & Lori Loughlin, but we were informed that there may be an issue with…availability. Those ladies attempted to pay someone to do it for them, but we didn’t want to make a federal case of a phony awards show. We then thought of offering the gig to financier Jeffrey Epstein but he…well, he is no longer available either. Feelers were sent out to ESPN’s Michael Wilbon, but he declined citing some kind of garbage about a “plantation mentality”. Former Vice President Joe Biden was willing to step in despite his busy campaign schedule, but when he was told that none of the nominees were underage girls and he wouldn’t be permitted to inappropriately hug, touch, or sniff anyone he politely declined. Fortunately we were eventually able to stumble onto the perfect guy. Not only is Sebastian Maniscalco a funny stand-up comedian, but he hosted MTV’s VMAs just last summer and is anxious to use that experience for bigger & better things. Well you’re in luck Sebastian because The Sammy Awards fits the bill perfectly.
After an amusing yet brief opening from our host it’s time to begin handing out some trophies!! It is our privilege to welcome back an award winning comedian, actor, awards show host, writer, producer, director, & former host of The Sammys. The man is a legend and one of our favorites…give it up for Billy Crystal!! And the nominees are:
A Dog’s Way Home
I’m a sucker for movies about dogs, and not even the repugnant presence of Ashley Judd could keep me away. Bella is a loveable pitbull whose owner Lucas ticks off a nasty old man who sics animal control on Bella because the local government has outlawed the breed (is that really a thing??). Long story short…Bella gets separated from Lucas and in her efforts to make her way back to him embarks on a two year odyssey full of danger, adventure, & heartwarming cuteness. Everyone knows how the story ends but we don’t mind at all. I’m not crying…you’re crying!!
Fighting with My Family
Former WWE Women’s Champion Paige was forced to retire at the age of 25 due to spinal stenosis, but this biopic tells the story of her youth in Norwich, England where her entire family wrestles for the small indy promotion they own. Tensions run high when she receives a WWE contract but her brother doesn’t, and then Paige must travel to Tampa, FL to begin her new career path. The film itself is lighthearted & entertaining, although as a lifelong pro wrestling fan I question some of the filmmakers more head scratching decisions.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
It’s not what I thought it would be. Perhaps I should’ve done more research, but I was expecting a Mr. Rogers biopic. Instead we get Tom Hanks doing a passably entertaining imitation of the beloved children’s’ show host, but he isn’t the focus of the story. Instead, Mr. Rogers becomes an unexpected life coach for a disheveled journalist with Daddy issues when the reluctant reporter is sent to write a story about the man who wanted to be a neighbor to all of us when we were growing up. It’s not a bad movie at all, and Hanks is as terrific as usual…it just isn’t what I had anticipated.
I honestly thought it’d be a lot funnier, but this allegedly raunchy comedy about a group of 6th graders navigating their way to a “boy/girl kissing party” can’t decide if it wants to be American Pie or Stand By Me, and in the end it is a forgettable imitation of both.
The Addams Family
I’m a fan of all incarnations of The Addams Family, and this latest adaptation featuring computer animation and the voice talents of Oscar Isaac, Charlize Theron, Bette Midler, Allison Janney, & Snoop Dogg is just dandy. We get an origin story of sorts, explaining how the altogether ooky clan ends up occupying their creepy old house (an abandoned insane asylum) and how they meet their butler Lurch (an escaped mental patient). Also, Wednesday attends school, Pugsley prepares for a traditional rite of passage into manhood, a not-as-perky-as-she-seems reality TV host has it in for the Addams’, & the entire extended family visits amidst the chaos. I don’t think this quite measures up to the live action films of the early 90’s, but it’s entertaining enough.
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
It’s so difficult to evaluate Star Wars films. To be fair each movie should be assessed on its own individual merits, but on the other hand it is almost impossible to separate each one apart from the whole. We tend to think of the original trilogy in glowing terms, no questions asked, which is probably unfair. Conversely, the masses retain mostly scorn for the prequel trilogy thanks to the miscasting of young Jake Lloyd & then Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker, both of which were poor choices, and of course the hash induced nightmare that is Jar Jar Binks. However, it is my contention that the third film in that trilogy…Revenge of the Sith…is pretty darn good. Which brings us to the sequel trilogy. The Force Awakens attempted to capitalize on nostalgia while introducing new characters to carry on the legacy. The Last Jedi sought to subvert expectations & throw nostalgia out the window, which really pissed a lot of people off. The Rise of Skywalker?? Well, it attempts to fix some of the problems folks had with The Last Jedi, but it’s also supposed to tie up the loose ends not only of this trilogy but of four decades of cherished sci-fi lore, and I’m not sure it succeeds. Taken on its own merits it’s a fun couple of hours, but as the epic conclusion to one of pop culture’s most enduring entities it misses the mark. The entire sequel trilogy suffers from lack of a unifying vision & clear path, and though some of the actors are quite talented I can’t imagine that decades from now Rey Whatshername, Poe Damron, Kylo Ren, BB8, & Finn NoLastName will be as fondly remembered as Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Darth Vader, Yoda, R2D2, & C3P0.
Spider-Man: Far From Home
Y’all know I couldn’t possibly care less about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The only superheroes I pay any attention to are the Big Three: Batman, Spider-Man, & Superman. Far From Home is a follow-up to 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming and finds Peter Parker on a school trip to Europe. He’d prefer to just hang out with his friends and confess to crushing on classmate MJ (who is NOT Mary Jane Watson), but instead is pressed into action by Nick Fury to do battle against the evil Mysterio. It’s a fun flick…exactly what a superhero film should be: plenty of dramatic action interspersed with some lighthearted moments & character development. Tom Holland gives a solid performance as Parker/Spiderman, and the supporting cast is just fine.
A unremarkable animated tale about an “investigator of mythical creatures” who agrees to help a friendly sasquatch find his relatives The Yeti. It’s a cute movie, but nothing about it stands out or makes me want to watch it again.
Toy Story 4
Nearly a decade after Toy Story 3 seemingly wrapped up a fantastic trilogy Woody, Buzz, Mr. Potato Head, & the rest of the crew reunite for one last (maybe) adventure. The toys went to a new home with new owner Bonnie in the previous film, and now Bonnie is off to daycare where she creates a new toy out of a spork & a popsicle stick that she names Forky. Forky is a bit unpredictable and Woody takes on the role as the new toy’s mentor & protector. Hilarity & adventure ensue, leading to a bittersweet conclusion that once again seems to neatly wrap things up…but never say never.
A live action origin story about the beloved flying elephant with oversized ears & his adventures as part of a traveling circus in early 20th century America. I completely understand the urge to remake old animated movies since modern technology allows the updates to utilize real actors and CGI. On paper it looks brilliant, with a cast that includes Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, & Danny DeVito under the direction of Tim Burton. However, the end result doesn’t feel nearly as magical as it should, and I’m not sure why.
The Art of Racing in the Rain
I have bookshelves with far too many unread books…things that I’ve promised myself I’ll get around to reading someday. One of them is a novel called The Art of Racing in the Rain, about a race car driver and his dog Enzo. I think I might have been more excited about the film adaptation had it been released a couple of years ago since the star of the movie (other than the dog of course) is Milo Ventimiglia, most famous nowadays for his role in NBC’s This Is Us. However, I lost interest in This Is Us a couple of seasons ago so I was far less invested in the movie than I might have been. And then to top things off the story includes brain cancer, the death of a young mother, a custody battle, and Enzo getting old & dying. Folks, I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve got enough drama & sadness in my real life…I don’t need to head out to the local cineplex, pay $20 (gotta have my popcorn & some candy), only to be treated to a two-hour downer. Obviously some movies are going to have those elements, but a really fantastic film can overcome the melancholy and be enjoyable despite it. Rain tries to end on a high note, but by then it’s too late. Perhaps the book is better (it usually is).
Playing With Fire
Semi-retired pro wrestler John Cena stars as an ultra-tightly wound firefighter whose crew suddenly become caretakers for three children whose parents are MIA. It’s super cute, occasionally funny, & decent showcase for Cena’s comedic skills. He’s probably never going to win any major awards, but just like his predecessor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson I think it’s a safe bet that Cena has found a pretty soft landing in Hollywood after more than a decade of kicking ass in the ring.
and The Sammy goes to…..
Spider-Man: Far From Home. The late Stephen Hawking once said “my expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21…everything since then has been a bonus.”, which is probably a good philosophy for us all. Expectation has become a huge buzzkill for movies because too often the end result fails to live up to the hype, but I think Far From Home delivers exactly what we want when it comes to movies in general and superhero stories specifically. It’s a great popcorn flick that I can envision enjoying on some future vegg day in the comfort of my living room, which is about as good as it gets.
Our next award was originally scheduled to be presented by former Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck, but he decided not to follow thru about five minutes before the show began. This isn’t our first rodeo though, so we always have a Plan B, and it is an immense pleasure to welcome actress, singer, dancer, & American Idol judge Jennifer Lopez, along with her fiancée & former New York Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez!! And the nominees are:
Sports Person of the Year
Lebron became LA-Bron back in 2018, taking his talents to The Left Coast. That first season didn’t go so well, but in 2019 James teamed up with fellow NBA All-Star Anthony Davis to rejuvenate a Lakers team that has won 16 NBA titles but hasn’t done so in a decade. The Lakers had to give up a ton in players & picks to acquire Davis, but thus far the plan seems to be working since they’d be the #1 seed in the West if the playoffs were to begin today. At 35 years old & 17 seasons into his pro career James has maybe lost a half step and most wouldn’t consider him the best basketball player on the planet anymore, but he is leading the league in assists.
Harper has long been considered one of the best players in baseball, and for seven seasons manned right field for the Washington Nationals, but the team never made it past the first round of the playoffs. Last offseason Harper signed a 13-year $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies finished with a .500 record. The Nationals?? They finally won the World Series. Oops. Well, atleast Bryce Harper is filthy rich, right??
2019 might have been the last hurrah for Brady. He & his New England Patriots won their sixth Super Bowl, upending the young & talented but inexperienced Los Angeles Rams. The talking heads act like Brady is the unquestioned greatest quarterback ever, an assertion that I’ve never bought into. And now it’s probably all over…unless Brady is like all those serial killers in slasher movies and rises from the dead multiple times, which wouldn’t surprise me in the least.
Zion was the talk of the basketball world even when he was still in high school. He’s probably the most hyped hoops star since Lebron James. In his one & only season under Coach K at Duke the Blue Devils didn’t make it past the Elite 8, which was a huge disappointment. Williamson was the #1 overall pick in the NBA Draft by the New Orleans Pelicans, but after a lot of excitement the 6ft.6 280lb. power forward’s rookie season was derailed before it even began when he suffered a torn meniscus last October. Word on the street is that Williamson will be making his NBA debut soon, but we’ll probably have to wait until next season to gauge how good he can really become.
Oh my…where to begin?? Has a top tier athlete ever fallen so far, so fast, & with such stupidity?? AB ended 2018 by abandoning his Steelers teammates in a game they had to win. He began 2019 demanding a trade and eventually got dealt to the Raiders, but was just as much of a nutjob in Oakland and never played a game for them before being released. When he signed as a free agent with the hated New England Patriots it seemed like an evil plan wherein Brown played the long game and ended up where her wanted to be all along. Alas, after playing in just one game for the Pats the troubled receiver was once again released after “sexual misconduct” allegations began swirling around. Hindsight is 20/20, and signs of Brown’s selfishness & arrogance were there a few years ago, but people tend to give athletes a lot of leeway as long as they are producing. Unfortunately for AB his insanity, instability, & total lack of humility or common sense means that he’s much much much more trouble off the field than he’s worth on it at this point, though I’m sure there’ll be a team desperate enough this offseason to kick the tires.
Well, okay…I suppose there has been a top tier athlete who has experienced a rapid fall from grace. Tiger’s issues on & off the golf course in the past decade have been well documented and there is no need to rehash everything here. Suffice to say that, despite some of the personal choices he made that contributed to that descent, most golf fans have been hoping to see him get back to his old self and win some big tournaments. Once upon a time it seemed like it was a matter of when…not if…he’d break Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 major tournament victories (FYI…that includes The Masters, The U.S. Open, The British Open, & The PGA Championship). However, after winning the 2008 U.S. Open it seemed like Tiger might forever be stalled at 14 majors…until the 2019 Masters. I was at work on that Sunday, but fortunately there is a television nearby and I was able to keep tabs on the final round and see Tiger finally rise from the abyss to reclaim his throne, if only for a brief moment. Tiger Woods is unlikely to ever be as dominant as he once was, and breaking Nicklaus’ record still seems like a tall mountain to climb, but it was nice to see him in the spotlight one more time. Only time will tell if it was his last hurrah.
and The Sammy goes to…..
Zion Williamson. No one knows how his NBA career will turn out. Will he be a dominant force that one day joins Magic, Bird, Jordan, etc. as one of the all-time greats?? Or will injuries and other issues relegate him to the dustbin of history alongside other NBA busts like Greg Oden, Shawn Bradley, Michael Olowokandi, & Darko Milicic?? The answer probably lies somewhere in the middle, but for now we can atleast appreciate how Zion Williamson was the toast of the town in 2019.
This feels like an appropriate place to pause. Please stay tuned for Part 2!!