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It’s official: Weeds gets renewed for an 8th season

11 Nov

My heart essentially dropped when I read that Showtime went ahead and renewed Weeds.  Again.  At one time, it was one of my favorite shows, but once Nancy (Mary-Louise Parker) burned down the house and fled Agrestic, the show felt done.  When the Botwins and friends turned up in Ren Mar, it felt wrong.  It wasn’t the same show any more.  The whole point of Weeds was that we were watching the life of a soccer mom evolve into a drug dealer.  By the time she burned down Agrestic, well, she’d turned into a drug dealer. Goal accomplished.  Where do we go from there?

There are really two answers to that question.  One is let the show finish gracefully, and let the fans come up with their own fate for Nancy.  She could go down in TV history as a drug dealing mom who also is an arsonist among other things.  The other answer is unfortunately the more practical one if you are a Cable network who wants to turn a profit:  you shouldn’t care if a show turns to shit, you still want to churn it out cash for the bottom line so let’s ruin the strong character we created and let’s destroy the show.  For money.  And in Hollywood, you’re lucky if you get any sort of art since the bottom line is always about profit.

I slugged through life in Ren Mar half-heartedly.  It was no longer the same show I knew and loved.  Once Nancy hooked up with the drug kingpin I wondered if it would turn around.  Uh, no.  The only redeeming thing for me was when Shane (Alexander Gould) murdered Pilar (Kate del Castillo).  It was one of those moments I didn’t see coming and I thought, “Wow.  I just had to watch an entire season of this show for one great moment.  Maybe it will pick up next season.”  That was a gross mis-judgement on my part and when my now historically least favorite Weeds season (that is season 6 for any hard core fans) started, I saw it was going to crash and burn.  In fact, I had to stop watching by episode 5.  It wasn’t until Season 7 was about to start that I gave Weeds one last chance, for old times’ sake.  I sucked it up, watched the rest of Season 6 and prepared for the worst.  Strangely, I pretty much enjoyed Season 7.  Now, it wasn’t near the greatness of the first two seasons of the show but it felt as if Jenji Kohan and company had sat down and reflected on what made Nancy Botwin, well,  Nancy Botwin.

What initially made Weeds such as great show was taking an ordinary person and putting her in extraordinary circumstances and watching her struggle to survive.  What ruined this show was forgetting who Nancy was for, uh, about four seasons and just writing plots and forgetting that it wasn’t the drug thing alone that made the show what it was.  It was Nancy swimming with sharks while never quite becoming one, keeping a bit of humanity inside her somewhere, and somehow triumphing.  I realize characters need to evolve and grow.  But Nancy never felt that she organically evolved after she left Agrestic.  She reacted.  Nobody likes a reactor.  Then the character is ruled by plot.  Not their personality.  Nancy was ruled by plot for 4 seasons and the show floundered.  Yes, it still might have gotten good ratings but its watchability, at least in my opinion, took a nose-dive.  This season (7), Nancy was back to being proactive and the show felt different.  Not quite like it did, especially when teeny bopper queen Michelle Trachtenberg shows up as a spoiled drug dealer.  That’s when the show ended up having a nasty power struggle that I don’t feel paid off:  it became a question of what’s stronger?  Nancy as a character determining the show’s outcome, or the plot.  It felt like a stalemate.

I’ve got to admit (SPOILER ALERT) that as I watched the last scene of this season, I felt that it was the right time to end Weeds.  And what better way?  Does Nancy get shot?  I like to think she does.  Does she die?  I kind of think so.  Because you see, Nancy stopped struggling and in Nancy’s world, that really is death.  She needs to live for the next fix of drama.  So, sure, Jenji Kohan can now take her next 13 episodes and do with them what she may.  I hope it is something mind-blowing, not mind-numbing.  And… if Nancy does survive the gun shot, who does get killed?  Someone needs to die.  Maybe one of her children?  Now that might be interesting but I’m talking about an entirely different show.  How would Nancy survive the death of one of her kids?  Would she go out for revenge?  Again, not Weeds.  If Doug or Jill die, then that’s sort of a cop out.  So… what are they going to do?  Honestly, I’m not sure I care any more.  I would have rather seen Nancy go down in a hail of bullets.  An anti-heroine who could go down with some great criminals.  In my mind, there is nothing worse than going down in history as a Connecticut home owner (I lived in Connecticut for two years so I can attest to this).  How boring can you get?  If that’s how her life turned out, then Showtime and Jenji Kohan, I’d like my money back.  And my time.

Death Valley: Something from MTV I can finally watch

18 Oct

I never thought I’d look forward to a horror comedy show about a bunch of police officers in the San Fernando Valley dealing with an onslaught of vampires, zombies and werewolves who must assimilate into everyday life or… die.  Well, with the zombies, they have to die as all they want to do is infect people then tear off each other’s limbs and snack.  But I finally watched an episode of Death Valley at Comic Con in New York (write up on panel to follow) last weekend and I actually liked it.  Yes, I’m shocked as well.

Spider One (brother of Rob Zombie) conceived the idea when he moved into the San Fernando Valley a few years ago.  Any person on the other side of the hill (the Westside, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, the Palisades, etc.) would tell you living in the Valley could do that to you.  If you are detecting some underlying dislike of the Valley from me, you are right.  To understand my dislike, you only need to watch the episode of Gidget (the Sally Field show from the 1960s) where her father takes her to buy a used car in the Valley and they get lost.  So lost, they never find the car shop.   They can barely find their way back to Malibu.  That sums up the Valley for me.

But yes many people actually live there and like it.  Love it even.  And these are their stories.  What works about this show is that it’s a mockumentary as well as a horror comedy.  The mockumentary part is a COPS homage and immediately allows the viewer to feel somewhat familiar with an identifiable genre from television that has been around for a couple of decades now.  Although the show claims the stories are about the cops on the Undead Task Force (UTF for short) and the camera crew that follows them, we never really get to know the camera crew as well as I think we should.  Yes we get small moments from them, usually if they are attacked and have to be replaced, but the opening is misleading about that particular aspect of the show.

A zombie enjoys a donut instead of flesh for a change.

The UTF consists of a group of officers earmarked to fight supernatural forces, Captain Frank Dashell (Bryan Callen), Officer Carla Rinaldi (Tania Raymonde), Officer Joe Stubeck (Charlie Sanders), Officer Billy Pierce (Bryce Johnson), Office John “John John” Johnson (Texas Battle), and rookie Officer Kirsten Landry (Caity Lotz).  Captain Dashell’s briefings/rants tend to set the comedic tone for the show each episode.  Death Valley is violent, irreverent, sexist and completely not redeemable but it’s still a fun watch.  Maybe there is something relaxing and cathartic after a hard day when you just want to watch a mockumentary about shooting and decapitating zombies.  Or making sure that all the werewolves are following the city ordinance during each full moon and their lockdown areas are to code.  Perhaps it’s the growing problem of the “sex for blood” trade with the Valley Vampire hookers.  Or the entire episode about zombie street fighting that the officers want to go watch and enjoy before they shut it down.  All I know is I am somehow, entertained.  That works for me, even if it is illegal zombie fights.

Watch the trailer.

Weeds Season 7 Finale: Is it curtains for Nancy and the gang?

7 Oct

If you’re a Weeds fan, you have been through the highs (the first 2 seasons are my favorites) and the lows (the last season was so painful I could barely watch until the last 4 episodes – things picked up once they got to Michigan). I approached Season 7 with trepidation.  But I was pleasantly surprised, for the most part.  Yes, a few episodes veered off and I never felt they exploited that weird bike thing to its fullest potential but overall, Nancy Botwin felt like the old Nancy from the early Weeds.

SPOILER ALERT:

In the last episode of the season and possibly the series, things start to get wrapped up.  Silas tentatively reconciles with Nancy after he realizes she does actually love him and she was not only looking out for the business but him as well.  Jill and Nancy have an embarrassing fight on the subway that was more uncomfortable than the people who come on and either play bad music and ask for money or just ask for money.  Shane agrees to join the police force and enters training (he doesn’t tell Nancy).  Dimitry goes to prison for an offense unrelated to drugs and Nancy and Jill are able to recover the stolen weed.  Finally, everyone ends up on a Connecticut compound (that is a bad idea considering if you have ever lived in Connecticut you will die of boredom) and Nancy makes a toast to the new living experiment and promptly someone takes a shot at her.  Is it the end for Nancy?  Or does she have one last season left in her?  Honestly, at this point, I’m not sure I care any longer.  If Nancy gets killed, I’m fairly certain Silas, Doug and Andy can run the pot business with Jill stepping in to be an even crazier bitch than Nancy.  I’m also sure that Shane will take protection money and be the most corrupt cop the NYPD has ever had.  As far as I’m concerned, that is the ending I’m giving it.  If Jenji Kohan can do better, more power to her.  I for one, as people used to say in California, think this bowl is dusted (at least I think that is how one spells bowl in these circumstances – I was never actually a stoner so I’m not sure).

The Big Bang Theory is Back and Better than ever: Season 5 Premiere “The Skank Reflex Analysis”

26 Sep

If there is one show I genuinely missed this summer, it was The Big Bang Theory.  I had shunned sitcoms for a few years and a friend of mine sat me down and started me watching a marathon.  I remember not being too sure about it the first time but after that, I grew to appreciate it and by the end of the marathon I was hooked.  Then I had to catch up on two seasons, which seems to be the story of my life with television shows.  It’s become my favorite US sitcom.  There’s something reassuring about watching Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons) navigate their way around a goony version of Los Angeles I never knew existed.  And although Penny (Kaley Cuoco) is an aspiring actress, the show just doesn’t feel like the Los Angeles I know.  Maybe that’s because to trek to Pasadena from West Los Angeles was like taking a day trip to Santa Barbara if you hit traffic at the wrong time.  But the characters are definitely as dysfunctional as most individuals living in Los Angeles.

As most people probably know, sitcoms used to be family-centered.  They still are, only the family is the group of people who happen to be in your sitcom world.  In this case, Sheldon, Leonard and Penny make up the central family unit with Howard (Simon Helberg), Raj/Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar), Bernadette (Melissa Rauch), and the newest addition, Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik) as the close relations.  Like any family, this one is completely dysfunctional.  And if you aren’t in a dysfunctional family, I almost feel sorry for you.  Last season was a bit more hit and miss and I was worried.  Some shows were great and others just made me wonder what the writers were thinking.  They seemed to be all over the place and not focusing on the core fears and desires of the characters.

The main fear and desire that comes from everyone but Sheldon is the need to be loved and in a relationship in this show.  It isn’t as if Sheldon doesn’t need that, he just processes his needs differently.  Honestly, I would like to see Penny and Sheldon end up together.  I believe they are the secret couple that essentially exists in the ether.  Over the years it is Penny that Sheldon usually turns to for comfort.  Certainly before Amy Farrah Fowler came onto the scene.  While Howard and Bernadette work as a couple, I never truly bought Leonard and Penny.  In fact, sometimes I think Leonard and Koothrappali should just get together since he (Koothrappali) has such a bi-sexual slant.  And I know all the homosexual jokes run between him and Howard as a couple (certainly in the following episode, “The Infestation Hypothesis,” with the simulated internet kissing contraption that made me laugh so hard I’m sure people heard me outside); however, for all the action Leonard gets, somehow he seems more asexual to me than Sheldon.  Maybe Amy Farrah Fowler would be better served with Leonard.  The problem with the coupling between Amy and Sheldon is that they are far too alike.  And Amy craves excitement and seems that she might even be sexually adventurous given the opportunity.  Sheldon, on the other hand, likes to play it safe unless he has calculated all the variables for risk.  Leonard, although different from Amy, also likes to be sexually adventurous and I believe they could function as a couple.  She’s not glamourous enough for him but it’s nothing a trip to Sephora and a few clothing stores couldn’t improve on.  Sheldon and Penny would be a fascinating couple.  An introvert and an extrovert.  I personally would like to see Sheldon stop being quite so asexual and move into adolescence.  And let’s be honest, this show thrives on sexual activity.

In this particular episode, “The Skank Reflex Analysis” we watch Penny deal with the fallout of her coupling with Raj.  What is particularly disturbing to me (and don’t forget I love this show) is that Penny is essentially called a slut by not only her close friend, Amy, but admits it herself.  Sure Penny sleeps around.  Guess what?  Adult women do that sometimes.  What bothers me is they are still considered sluts if they do and more disturbingly, they consider themselves sluts.  Conversely, Raj admits to her they didn’t end up having sex but she goes ahead and lets everyone believe they did to save his reputation, because apparently, in 2011, a man is still studly and not slutty if he gets laid and he’s drunk.  This double-standard, I was hoping, would be gone at this point in the game of cultural coitus but I guess not.  And thanks to CBS and Chuck Lorre, there are whole new generations stereotyping women as sluts.  And acting like it’s fine.  Now I’m not arguing that I think Penny shouldn’t have fun.  Nope, I think she should do who she wants when she wants but I think it is up to those who create culture to stop enforcing outdated stereotypes and come up with a term that explains it can be empowering for a woman to behave just like a man.  I know maybe some people haven’t looked but we aren’t in the 1950s or 1960s anymore.  But wait!  I think we might be, considering the two embarrassing shows that embrace the old patriarchal guard, The Playboy Club and Pan Am.  Thanks, Mad Men.  I suppose being progressive is still not synonymous with American network television.  Which is a shame.  I hope they get their act together soon.

Overall, the season premiere was funny and entertaining.  Raj is dealing with the fallout of his encounter with Penny, her rejection of him and Bernadette’s wrath for his dirty poems about her which have made Howard paranoid.  And watching Sheldon as the Captain of the Paintball team and his self-sacrifice scene  is what this show does best.  Amy Farrah Fowler’s excitement over having Penny as a sleep-over guest is, I would argue, one of the best elements in the show, reminding everyone that even if they were insecure as kids and things sucked, at some point in your adult life, they do get better.  A good message for everyone.

New Girl: Pilot Review

24 Sep

Men are not always the best communicators. To be fair, sometimes their parents aren’t either and they are not taught exactly how they should express themselves when it actually matters. This doesn’t just apply to teenage boys or guys in their 20s or 30s, this also applies to my father. Who, instead of actually writing me emails, forwards me emails. Jokes, political commentary, news clips. Almost every day. Today I was struck by one about women being like apples. That men are sometimes too lazy or too scared they are going to fall if they have to climb up to the top of the tree to get the best apples (i.e. women), so they settle for the ‘fallen apples’ (I really want to send an email back and ask him if he interprets that as sluts or just sloppy seconds but that might just confuse him – and that would be direct communication something he isn’t comfortable with after 82 years of living). I’m not sure how I am supposed to interpret this. I suppose I am a top apple and most of the men are afraid of me. I could have told him that when I was 19 when guys started informing me I was scary (amazing what guys will admit when they are drunk) but what made me appreciate the email was the rest of it. Apparently, men are like grapes and women have to stomp the hell out of them to ‘create a fine wine’ just so they can bother to eat dinner with them. Now, I agree with the apple thing and the grape thing. I don’t think men really appreciate women unless they are properly stomped. In fact the more one stomps, the more the men seem to come back for more. Or perhaps I just attract extremely warped men. I’m talking about this because I hadn’t bothered to watch the Fox pilot, New Girl created by Elizabeth Meriwether. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel and I already have so many shows on my plate. But I was reading about the high ratings so I decided to watch it but if you missed it, just go straight to iTunes to download it. Unless you have the Dish Network, you’ll get a message on Fox’s website that you can’t watch the pilot for the first nine days after airing or something ridiculous like that.  Honestly, these studios are so stupid at times.  Uh, I’m a viewer.  I want to see your show.  I almost didn’t bother because I found it so annoying to get it.  And the only reason I didn’t want to bother with iTunes is that my computer and external hard drive are almost full of shows that I’ve bought so I’ve got to be picky.

All the annoyance aside, I liked the show.  It’s a simple enough premise:  Jess (Zooey Deschanel) discovers her boyfriend is cheating on her when she shows up unannounced in the afternoon dressed in nothing but a raincoat to help him out with his fantasy.  Ok guys:  guess what, if you ask a girl to do that and she’s actually into you, at some point, she will actually decide to surprise you like this so you probably should not be screwing around on her because the way things work, you will get caught.  Jess’s boyfriend gets caught.  She’s humiliated standing there stark naked in front of him and his slut but I just kept thinking:  why did Jess take a cab home?  It was daytime.  NOBODY in Los Angeles takes a cab unless you are going to or from the airport or you are a tourist or your pet has a medical emergency and your car has just died (yes that happened to me).  Otherwise, people in Los Angeles like to think cabs are something only for New York.  Jess must now find a new place to live.  We don’t see lots of roommate interviews (I’m so relieved I missed that process in life), we just see the interview with her soon-to-be new roommates, three guys who are nice enough but basically jerks.  Personal trainer Winston (Lamorne Morris) can’t be nice or relate to women, Bartender (at least I think that’s what he is) Nick (Jake M. Johnson) is hung up on his ex-girlfriend but seems the most well-rounded one of the three, and finally, Schmidt (Max Greenfield), who believes all women love him and takes his shirt off for everyone of them (note to guys:  even if you have a good body under that shirt, women think you’re an idiot if you do that in person or online, nobody likes a showoff).  The only reason they reluctantly allow Jess to move in is because her best friend is a model and they figure there will be models hand-delivered for the taking.  Instead what they get is an ultra-geeky female who cannot read social cues and likes to watch Dirty Dancing and cry a lot.

The way this show is described is:  it is about the sexual politics between men and women.  I’d say it is more about wish fulfillment.  This show is about men having to become human with feelings because they see if they don’t, their living situation will become unbearable and they start to realize that other people’s feelings do matter.  I’m assuming each week Jess will do something stupid in their eyes and while they try to teach her what is acceptable to men, her emotional needs will teach them how to understand women and themselves more.  This is most likely why this show did so well.  Jess is non-threatening to men and women.  She’s average but can look better when dressed up.  She has a friend who is a model and you will notice that she’s far more self-confident and the ball-buster.  She cares about her friend but you will notice that the attractive woman is far more superficial than Jess.  She is the object they desire but can’t have while Jess is more accessible to all three of her roommates.  I don’t think this necessarily sends the healthiest message:  if you are an attractive woman you simply cannot be accessible.  These guys seem to have to learn from Jess, the apple that fell to the ground.  Now you can argue with me and say she’s high maintenance and worth the climb.  I would say, uh, every female is high maintenance but not every female is worth the climb, just like some grapes are so sour you wouldn’t waste your time stomping on them.  Conversely, if Jess were hot, there would be a different problem:  all three roommates would probably want to have sex with her and start to understand that she isn’t only a sexual being but a human as well.  Maybe that’s a different show.  And a different lesson.  Because these guys are in their training pants right now.

Yes, I’ll watch the show at least a few more times and see if it sheds more light on um, sexual politics.  Or, if it is just full of hot air.

New Girl airs Tuesdays at 9pm/8pm central on Fox.

Two and a Half Men: when hormones go bad

20 Sep

I’m feeling very conflicted about whether or not I want to watch this season’s premiere of Two and a Half Men. Because, truth be told, I really don’t watch the show that often. I tend to end up watching it when I visit my dad and step-mother and I have seen so many episodes on those visits that I guess I don’t feel the need to watch constantly. And the thing is, maybe a lot of people think Charlie Sheen is an asshole, but I don’t think he is. Okay, I know he has personal issues but I’ve worked with him in the past and while it was true he lives an unconventional life, he was always kind and respectful to me. Which is more than I can say for Malcolm McDowell. But that’s another story.

I’ve held my tongue during Charlie’s meltdown because I figure, everyone is entitled to at least one nervous breakdown in a lifetime. And until you’ve worked in Hollywood, you can judge all you want but life in Hollywood is never quite real. Working in the film or television business is almost like being tempted by the devil and you don’t always know yourself until you have been faced with strange situations like oh say… people running drugs through messenger services or little black books being hidden in places you would never imagine or the very stupid things studio heads do then try to cover them up. Sometimes it is almost like watching a TV show until you realize it is your life. So, I believe in second chances and I hope Charlie Sheen learns a couple of things along the way: first, he really needs to not hit women, that isn’t okay and if he’s angry, until he learns to deal with his rage, he could do what I did and break lots of phones and answering machines. Only walls get hurt. Well, the phones and answering machines as well and as soon as you get sick of having to replace them, you learn that maybe you should think before you loose your temper.  And, I’m truly hoping he realizes that you can only screw so many women and it’s not going to make you feel immortal or have better self-esteem. The only way you feel better about yourself is to figure out why you are feeling so crappy in the first place and discover, with the help of a licensed professional or at least a good personal coach, how you might help yourself in healthy ways. So Charlie, perhaps if you attempt to keep it in your pants and not hit women and focus on what might make you happy, you will have a happier success next time.  I’m routing for him more than I’m routing for the show because quite honestly, after hearing about Chuck Lorre trying to get him taken off the Emmy’s last night, I lost a whole lot of respect for the man who makes my favorite sitcom, The Big Bang Theory.  And just because Ashton Kutcher might have it together a bit more than Charlie Sheen, I find it bad form to flaunt it.  Who knows what may happen with him.  Hollywood’s a funny place.  One minute you’re on top, the next you mean less than shit being flushed down the toilet.  So, it’s always good to be grateful and not gloat while you’re doing good on your ride because you might need help once you get derailed.  That’s almost a guarantee in show business.  But that’s just my opinion.

Moonstruck and the romantic comedy

18 Aug

I love Moonstruck (Norman Jewison, 1987). I don’t care who knows it. It’s one of those films I can watch over and over and never get sick of it. Why? Because, it’s happy. That’s the simple answer. It puts me in a good mood and gives me hope. Yes. That might sound cheesy but I honestly don’t care if it does.  Romantic Comedies have been around since the late 1950s/early 1960s, probably most famously characterized by Doris Day’s films of choice (with the exception of Midnight Lace):  Send Me No Flowers, Pillow Talk, Lover Come Back.  All Doris Day romanic comedy classics. It’s also worthy to note the romantic comedy as a genre began to popularize in the 1950s, after World War II ended and  men had entered back into women’s lives as a constant, and into the work force to replace them.  In most Doris Day comedies, she starts out as a career woman but finds love as a married woman.  Sometimes, and usually, in the end, becoming a mother.  No.  Romantic comedies haven’t changed that much but at least by the 1980s, the women could find love but that usually (but not always) meant they could retain their jobs if that was part of their identity.  While this is true for Working Girl, it’s not for Pretty Woman (but does any prostitute want do keep her day job?).

Moonstruck was made in the heyday of romantic comedies, the 1980s, 1987 to be exact, when they were still not too stale. Yes, by the time Moonstruck came along, they were starting to fill the theaters but they were still a new enough genre for the female audience to be a bit more forgivable. Not that I believe anyone has to be forgivable about this film. And when I claim there were new enough, I’m asserting they had evolved from the 1950s and 1960s.  Not a great deal, but somewhat.  For instance, Romancing the Stone wouldn’t have been made in the 1950s or 1960s, and Working Girl would have had a much different outcome.

The premise of Moonstruck is simple.  Loretta becomes engaged to Johnny.  This will be her second marriage.  Her first husband was hit by a bus and she believes she has bad luck.  Johnny only proposes to Loretta because he thinks his mother is dying in Sicily and he will be free to be married (it doesn’t seem to matter that he lives in Brooklyn).  After the two become engaged, Johnny flies off to see his mother die and begs Loretta to invite Ronny, his estranged brother to their wedding.  Loretta goes to meet Ronny.  Sparks fly.  They fall in love and Johnny returns.  Loretta is faced with a choice:  marry a steady man who she thinks she can count on or take a chance with someone she knows is a ‘wolf’.

So what makes this film work?  The characters.  You have two characters, Ronny (Nicholas Cage) and Loretta (Cher).  Neither one is actually likable on the outside but as the narrative unfolds, we see that while they at first seem disagreeable and disillusioned with life, they are actually secretly hopeful and longing to live and be happy.  And it’s the effect they have on each other that moves the narrative forward, in spite of Loretta’s misgivings and guilt over being attracted to her future brother-in-law.  Perhaps what I love about this movie most is the speech Ronny gives Loretta when they both know they should be together but she resists.  It’s really a speech that not only exposes the underpinnings of why the romantic comedy works as a genre, but affirms to female viewers that love doesn’t work at all how they were raised to expect it.  Ronny declares:  Loretta, I love you.  Not Like they told you love is.  And I didn’t know this either.  But love don’t make things nice.  It ruins everything.  It breaks your heart.  It makes things a mess.  We aren’t here to make things perfect…. We are here to ruin ourselves and break our hearts and love the wrong people and die.  This speech goes along with one of the themes of the film:  betrayal.  Loretta and Ronny betray Johnny (Danny Aiello) while Cosmo (Vincent Gardenia)  betrays Rose (Olympia Dukakis) with Mona (Anita Gillette).  Rose in turn, has the opportunity to betray Cosmo with Perry (John Mahoney).  And we learn that while some betrayals must occur in order to service true love (Ronny and Loretta), others are misguided attempts to cheat death (Cosmo and Mona).

As the characters navigate their twists and turns toward understanding themselves and love, the narrative unfolds within the framework of the safety of the family; almost all of Loretta’s interactions are with family or friends or clients who are so close they might as well be family.  We see Ronny as the opposite, estranged from his entire family, living in the building that seems more like a prison, especially the ovens where he spends his days baking bread under the bakery.  It’s Loretta’s journey to reach outside her family safety net and try for a new life that ultimately brings Ronny into her family.  The entire narrative also consistently refers to Ronny’s favorite opera, La Boheme and its story of tragedy and loss of a love that wasn’t valued when it should have been.   So we are reminded that this story can go either way, depending on whether our characters can understand the importance of love in their relationships, hence why Ronny’s speech to Loretta is so important, just after they go to the opera on their only date.  To add to the mixture, the moon is considered a key ingredient in this almost magical love story that takes place over the course of a few days.  Honestly, it feels longer since by the end of the story, all characters have made life changing decisions, but perhaps that’s what’s so profound in this film.  You never know who you are going to meet and how the will change your life.  Oh, and cover up your gray hair if you’re under 60.  It ages you unnecessarily.  A key lesson for any female.  Or male, if you want the truth…

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