Posted by at 7:06 am  Comments Off on Outsourced
Sep 242010

Did everyone have a happy equinox? I know I sure did…and if the 50 drained pig carcasses on my back yard altar are any indication, I’m gonna have one bountiful-ass harvest. (Much different from a bountiful ass-harvest. Hyphens are powerful things.)
Anyway, enough about the alignment so nice it happens twice…we all know the real reason for the season: Good TV is back.

I sat down this stagnant autumn eve (I would have liked to have said “blustery”, but it wasn’t and I’m not gonna lie to you guys for the sake of ambiance) to take in the NBC Thursday night lineup which, for the most part, has brought me a sizable amount of joy the past few years. (If you’re not at least watching Community and 30 Rock, you’re a gods damned tard.) Throughout the evening, I kept seeing commercials for a new show premiering called “Outsourced”, which appeared to be a borderline racist “fish out of water” situational comedy wherein a smarmy American 20-something moves to India to manage an outsourced call center full of offensively stereotypical Indian workers that comically misuse/misinterpret American colloquialisms.
(I’m 100% sure that someone pitched it as “It’s basically The Office but everyone talks like Apu” to which an NBC executive replied “AH-OOOOGA!” and his eyes turned into slot machine reels that spun and both landed on cherries and then a buzzer went off and then money started shooting out his mouth).

Did I watch it? Of course I watched it. You think just because a show looks like a half-hour-long backwards leap for society that I’m not gonna watch it? What else was I supposed to do until Sunny came on? So anyway, yeah, it was fucking terrible and pretty much what I expected (except no old Indian lady sang a Lady Gaga song while Too Cool McJeans shook his head in amused bafflement, but hey – it was only the first episode. You can’t shoot your comedy load right out the gate).

Trying to wrap my head around how this cultural abortion ended up on a major network while my groundbreaking idea for a Big Brother-style hide-and-seek gameshow called “Are You Smarter Than A Feral Cat?” goes unrealized, I did a little internet super-sleuthing and discovered “Outsourced” is actually based on a movie by the same name and whaddaya know…Netflix has it available to “watch instantly”.

In addition to being the source material for the most insipid television program since The O’Reilly Factor (zing!), the delightfully quirky and innocently hand-drawn  indie-romance cover art didn’t help this movie’s case any. I sat back, started the movie, and prepared myself to hate.

Brazenly defiant in the face of all evidence to the contrary, Outsourced is actually a really good movie. Like, not even just good for what it is…but like actually good for realsies. Well-written, well-acted, well-shot…I couldn’t believe it. Especially since it had bullshit written all over it. Here are a few of the themes explored:

– Stranger in a strange land
– Exaggeratedly evil corporate ambivalence
– Language barrier-based humor
– Witty jabs at American excess
– Forbidden cross-cultural love
– Underdogs pulling together to triumph at the last moment
– Losing everything to find yourself

Total clichĂ© bullshit across the board, right? Yet somehow, it’s all delivered so honestly, dare I say sweetly, and without an ounce of pretension, you never think for a second to call it out. The characters are all so endearing and grounded in reality that when something flat out goofy goes down – like the excitable and oafish Indian worker trying to do his Robert DeNiro impression – it comes off as genuinely funny rather than some “Me rikey da flied lice” horseshit.

Besides introducing me to Ayesha Dharker, the new love of my life (Sorry Aisha Tyler…I’d love to marry you both, but a.) the two A(i/ye)shas thing would get confusing, and b.) that shit’s illegal. We’ve had a good run though…and we can still be friends…), Outsourced did something else unexpected, at least for its genre – It presented a completely plausible yet wholly satisfying ending. I was actually still grinning like a moron halfway through the credits.

Now, I’m completely willing to acknowledge the possibility that this movie isn’t as good as I think it is. It’s not infeasible that Outsourced caught me in a moment of weakness when I was susceptible to heart-warming douchery. It’s also conceivable that it just seemed remarkable in contrast to its ham-fisted, tactless television counterpart. Shit, maybe both. Or maybe – just maybe – it’s a great little movie that you should just shut up and watch.

I give Outsourced 9 out of 10 free-roaming sacred cows that you should totally be able to ride but I bet you’re not supposed to.

Good Time Max

 Posted by at 3:52 pm  Comments Off on Good Time Max
Apr 102010

James Franco, I want to like you, I don’t know why, but I do. You were alright as Daniel Desario on “Freaks and Geeks.” You were no Bill Haverchuck, but you held your own. I couldn’t of cared less for your role in “Spiderman,” but you really pulled your shit together and knocked one out of the park as the lovably dopey stoner, Saul Silver, in “Pineapple Express.” Even though you haven’t dazzled me, for some reason I’ve been keeping my fingers crossed. But after watching “Good Time Max,” the movie that you co-wrote and directed, I’m throwing in the towel.

“Good Time Max” is a movie about two brothers. Older brother Adam works really hard in school and gets good grades, while younger brother Max prefers to smoke cigarettes and dance on rooftops… and still gets good grades. Alright, skip ahead about 20 years. Max is hard at work dealing drugs until he pisses of the wrong huge black dude by selling him a bogus kilo of cocaine (and also sleeping with his girlfriend). After Max becomes an accessory to murder, he hightails it to California, hitching a ride with his brother Adam who is bound for med school. It doesn’t take a genius to see where this movie’s going. There’s a lot of built up resentment on the part of Adam, because all of his life he’s had to bail out his dickhead brother, and there’s just as much resentment on the part of Max, who just wants to be loved. The two fight inner demons, fight with each other, and eventually learn a thing or two about life and the importance of brotherhood.

If i didn’t know any better, I would have assumed the part of Max was written by a nine-year old. Max is handsome, liked by everybody, and is always the life of the party, but to top it all off he’s also a certified genius. Franco really drives this point home too as he solves moderately difficult math equations (like 36 times 24), lands himself a cushy job writing computer code, and constantly states, “I am a genius.” This would all be fine if it ever went anywhere, but it doesn’t. The genius aspect is completely irrelevant, and though we’re all supposed to connect or relate with Max, I couldn’t feel anything but contempt and annoyance with him, from beginning to end. I think James Franco tried his best, but like swimming against a rip tide, the harder he tried, the worse the situation got.

The cover of “Good Time Max” shows that it was an official selection at the Tribeca, Hollywood, Vancouver, and Austin film festivals, as if having those emblems on the cover will convince you that it is worth watching. I honestly feel that James Franco made this movie in an attempt to grasp hold of some lost indie credit that he never had in the first place. It’s like he pulled a indie movie all-nighter and woke up the next morning thinking to himself, “I could do that.” But he wasn’t going to undertake this challenge alone, so he called up indie darling Merriwether Williams (of Nickelodeon’s Spongebob Squarepants and Camp Lazlo fame) to crank out an indie film to end all indie films. It’s not surprising that Merriwether’s only writing experience has been in cartoons, because “Good Time Max” ends up feeling like one big, long, boring live action cartoon.

Don’t waste your time with “Good Time Max.”

I give Good Time Max: an F+ (way to go, genius)