Tuesday, April 08, 2008


The Grand is a poor man's Christopher Guest mockumentary that ends up running short on real comedic steam and gets oddly dramatic by the end, but overall it's worth at least a rental. The film was aided greatly by its cast of actors who I almost entirely like --- David Cross, Cheryl Hines, Chris Parnell, Woody Harrelson, Judy Greer, Ray Romano, Estelle "Mrs. Costanza" Harris, Dennis Farina and even Guest veteran Michael McKean himself. The likes of Hank Azaria, Jason Alexander, Brett Ratner and Shannon Elizabeth appear in small roles to boot. Despite all of his comic talent, the show is just about stolen by (of all people) German film legend Werner Herzog as a borderline psychotic poker player. It may not have been much of a stretch, given that Herzog is allegedly something of a borderline psychotic himself. His 'Grizzly Man' may be the single most fucked-up movie I've ever seen in my life. It truly has to be seen to be believed.

Anyway, yeah, the Grand. I'd give it maybe a 6.5/10. It seems as if this concept (a bunch of characters gathered to play a major poker tournament) could've delivered more with a tighter script, or maybe some of the better improvised bits were left on the cutting-room floor. My personal favourite was McKean's casino tycoon, Steve Lavish, talking about his vision for a one-room hotel that's 30 stories tall and split into two buildings. "You'd think it's two rooms, but that's just an air shaft between the buildings."


Ok, so obviously Woods is the major Masters favourite. But just in case you're in some kind of golf pool and need a few more spots to fill out your foursome, consider these names...

* Retief Goosen. In the last three years at Augusta, he's finished T2, T3 and T3. And he has another second-place finish in 2002. He has quietly (the man does everything quietly) amassed a terrific record at not just the Masters, but at majors in general over the last decade. People may think he hasn't done much since his inconceivable meltdown at the 2005 U.S. Open, but he's won three European events and one PGA Tour title in that time. I swear, Goosen must be with MI6 or something. The man could catch fire in the middle of the fairway and still nobody would notice him.

* Fred Couples. Old Man Freddy, a contender? Remember, he finished second just two years ago, so it's not out of the question. Couples has recommitted himself to golf this season, has a number of strong finishes under his belt thus far and finally seems to be healthy for the first time in ever. A Couples win would be reminiscent of Jack Nicklaus' immortal victory in the 1986 Masters. My cousin Steve, perhaps the biggest Couples fan ever, would quite possibly die of joy. Actually, Steve's wife Kathleen is celebrating a birthday this very week, so Fred, if you wanted to provide a really great gift, so ahead and win the Masters. I guess do it for yourself as well, but really, Steve and Kathleen. Come on. If you wanted to mention them in the Butler Cabin ceremony too, that would be cool. You'll have a few minutes to sneak in a shoutout while Jim Nantz is grinning like a maniac.

* Vijay Singh. The Big Vagine has had some buzzard's luck this season, as he's played generally well but hasn't been able to put it together for four full rounds thanks to his notoriously inconsistent putting. Put it this way: if Vijay putted like Tiger Woods, he'd be Tiger Woods. It seems unlikely that Singh will suddenly figure out his short game on the insane Augusta greens, but hey, he won this tournament in 2000. And let's not forget, that win was the only major Tiger didn't capture in 2000, and now eight years later, people seem to be almost conceding a Grand Slam to the Woods man. Could Vijay play spoiler again?

* Mike Weir. HA HA HA, just kidding. Remember when Mike retooled his swing a year and a half ago, which coincidentally was around the time he started sucking? Weir made the mistake of getting a Mormon swing --- it never works on Sundays.


The great Ric Flair hung up his wrestling boots last week after 36 (!) years in the pro wrestling business. Flair was behind some of the best matches I ever saw back in my wrestling fandom days --- his win in the 1992 Royal Rumble, his title match with Randy Savage at Wrestlemania 8, and his 'win the title or retire' match with Vader in WCW. My buddy Trev does a very creditable Flair impression, though he has to have about 10 beers in him to pull out the WOOOO. I myself was influenced by Flair's figure-four leglock maneuver, which I mastered for playground wrestling matches in grade school. Years later, when watching a wrestling pay-per-view with the buddies, my friends Dave and Bryan questioned whether or not the figure-four actually hurt. This was my time to shine. In Bryan's exact words, "Oh, this doesn't hurt at a....AHHHHHH!" I then topped off the submission with a patented Flair strut.

Now, in honour of Flair, LISTAMANIA VIII: My Top 20 Favourite Wrestlers Ever

20. Mr. Perfect
19. Sting
18, Chris Jericho
17. Undertaker
16. Vader
15. Ravishing Rick Rude
14. Ricky Steamboat
13. Kurt Angle
12. Owen Hart
11. The Rock
10. Hulk Hogan
9. Rey Mysterio Jr.
8. The Rock
7. Stone Cold Steve Austin
6. Chris Benoit (yikes....this is a good time to mention that I'm basing this list solely on in-ring accomplishments)
5. Mick Foley
4. Shawn Michaels
3. Randy Savage
2. Ric Flair
1. Bret Hart


Toronto natives, please clear this up for me. You know those ticket meter machines that say you can park in the spot from 9 AM to 9 PM from Monday-Friday? My question is, what happens after 9 PM? Are you allowed to park there for free, or are you not allowed to park there unless it's between the designated hours? I know in London you can park pretty much anywhere at 9 PM for free, but then again, Toronto is a city where stuff actually happens at night downtown.


This idea sounds fucking abominable. A Bill & Ted remake? That would be disgraceful. Keanu's idea of he and Alex Winter just reprising Bill & Ted as 40-something guys actually sounds much more entertaining. I'm pretty sure Alex Winter would be up for it. In fact, I'll ask him about it tomorrow when I pass him selling pencils from a cup on Spadina Ave.

Will I buy a pencil? No.


Anonymous said...

I vote "call a friend" for parking answers:


Parking considerations
Toronto Police, through the Parking Enforcement Unit, give consideration under a variety of circumstances upon request of individuals and groups. Consideration numbers are issued which permit withdrawal of infractions involving prohibited parking areas, expired meters, three hour limit or parking in excess of permitted time. You can call the Customer Service Section any time, seven days a week and leave a message and phone number where you can be reached during the day. Someone will return your call during business hours, Monday to Friday.

Toronto Police Parking Enforcement
Customer Service Section

The Parking Tag Operations unit is able to deal with questions and concerns about parking tags by telephone, fax and mail. For example, obvious errors, on-street parking permits, disabled persons parking permits, stolen vehicle and defective meter complaints.

Station 1210
21st Floor, Metro Hall
55 John Street
Toronto ON, M5V 3C6
Call: 416-397-8247
Fax: 416-392-4436

Hal Incandenza said...

I just watched The Grand last night, so I thought I'd track this old post down.

6.5 is about right for this movie (though I think I gave it a 5 on imdb), with my biggest complaint being that it wasn't particularly funny. It's all well and good for this to be be billed as CYE meets Chris Guest, but I tend not allot points solely because the film is improvisational in nature. (Case in point: even Guest is capable of falling flat on his face at this point--see: For Your Consideration and, to a lesser extent, A Mighty Wind.)

Herzog I liked ("at one point, we actually tried to murder each other...but I loved him"). Farina, too. Romano, surprisingly, I also enjoyed (the fantasy football bit was a nice touch). And Phil Gordon even got in a couple of good lines. But I was kind of let down by everyone else (David Cross, in particular...who was giving virtually nothing to do after the fairly fun gag about his extremely long website name). McKean...I dunno. The one-room hotel was pretty funny, but everything about his character was so off that I thought I was watching a different movie.

Quick poker beef: the Richard Kind (whom I've noticed you've-- (deliberately?--left off of your list of "people I really like that are in this movie.") thing was telegraphed from a thousand miles away...and--MILD SPOILER--does it really make sense for you to adopt the persona of a chump...and then proceed to play like a chump, too? Clearly not.

My sense is (like yours) that this would've worked better as a fully fleshed out script--internet chatter suggests the actual script was something like 29 pages long--as the idea is inherently funny, just not terribly well executed here.