Monthly Archives: February 2012

Caffeine Deprivation – A (Kinda) Scientific Paper

Self Restraint or Self  Torture?

This study started over a week ago when friends of mine were talking about giving up something for Lent. I was never considering giving something up for Lent because 1. I am not religious so I don’t want to jump into a proper religious ritual and then make a pigs ear of it and 2. forty odd days is a dam long time! Still, it got me thinking about what I have become dependent on that I don’t need. One thing cropped to mind, the copious cups of tea and coffee that I drink daily. I would say in the winter on a sleepy day I can be edging towards ten cups in a caffeine fuelled cocktail of Java, green tea, Twinings, sugar, milk and hazelnut syrup. I didn’t think that I was dependent on these wonderful substances that perk my awareness levels but I have not gone though any prolonged time without them. So…. let’s try some prolonged time with out them!

The method was simple. I go cold turkey without tea or coffee (or any other hot drinks or energy replacements) for a whole week. Seven days. 168 hours. Sounds simple. Only that one rule. Starting at midnight on Monday 20th of February and finishing midnight on the Sunday. No problem, right?

Well….. I never expected it to be so hard actually. But guess what! I did it. A whole 7 days without the sweet brown nectar of tea or coffee. Was it easy?

No.

In the first few days the biggest challenge was the mornings. I would go into auto pilot, reach for my cup and start to fill it with my caffeine of choice. It is heart breaking to pour the half-inch of rocket fuel out once you realise what you have done! Think about what you do in the morning. Do you automatically go for a cup and fill it? If you do, then tomorrow try stopping yourself. Your brain will get very angry with you. It will then try to trick you into drink coffee. It does this by making you really sleepy, followed by make you constantly bang you head off of cupboard doors and making you stub your toes over and over. This was what I was up against to start with but it soon past and by Thursday I was taking out a glass and filling it with water (Funny that auto pilot still takes me to the kitchen and I had to have some kind of drink).

Although these morning problem had passed by Thursday this was the first day of the headaches. Dam! They were like no headaches I have had before. My brain wasn’t saying “Oh, say their old chap. Any chance of some water, I’m a bit parched and I need something wet to function”, it was swinging from the light fitting, shouting profanity and every now and then releasing a primal scream of “COOOOOFFFFFFFEEEEEEEEEE!!!”. The usual methods of paracetamol and water were not going to work. So Thursday, Friday and Saturday I had these throbbing away in the background to varying degrees.

Another massive issue was old Mr. Temptation. Every time I saw a cup of tea my heart sank a little bit. At work it was a killer but these people needed their tea. I couldn’t feel angry or that they were trying to tempted me. They weren’t doing a stupid week of self torture and needed their fix. Even my girlfriend was nice enough to not drink her tea when I was around and the lovely lass didn’t offer me a cupa all week (actually come to think of it, its been about two years, three months and six days since she offered me a cup of tea!).  BUT there people out there who were trying to be the devil on my shoulder. A main offender is one of my best friends who orders a POT of tea in a PUB at 9PM to rub it in. This wasn’t too bad as it was on Monday and I probably had some of the last 24 years worth of caffeine in my system. The real villain of the piece is none other than my MOTHER! My mum came to town and we went for a walk about the shops, had a meal and during the day she asked me no less than 6 time if I wanted a coffee! SIX TIMES! Talk about temptation! To make things worse when we got back to my flat she asked me to make her a cappuccino and then she started to roll around the floor laughing at me while I made it for her. Evil! But none of these temptations got the best of me. I succeeded.

So what were the effects on me? Other than the sore heads and the frustration I felt much the same as always do and towards the end of the week I felt more level. By that I mean not tired and then fine and then sleepy. Just OK all day. It was nice. Another side effect was the huge amount of alcohol I substituted for caffeine. Now this was in the evenings, not at work. Just get that straight! It was also a week which had more social occasions that I usually have so the alcohol was not all down to the lack of coffee. It was a dam good distraction though! Last of all, the omission of milk and sugar to my diet, six to ten times a day, meant that I lost about 2 lbs off my weight! (Although like the coffee that is now back).

In conclusion I would say that I was dependent on caffeine before my week without. I also felt better at the end of the week than I did before starting the challenge. I think at least cutting down on caffeine will beneficial to me and is what I plan to do.

So I am back to drinking caffeine. I also need to be honest and say that my first coffee on the Monday morning was amazing. Best coffee I have ever had and at the very least the week of head aches and wanting to attack my family was worth it!

Anyway, till next time

Fall

Review – The Muppets

CGI vs Sock Puppet Theatre

This is my long-awaited review of the New Muppet’s film. This is the first venture onto the big screens for everybody’s  favourite puppet characters for 12 years. Since Muppets Treasure Island there have been massive advances in technology and almost every kids film is now CGI (well at least the very best are). So will old Kermit and Miss Piggy be able to battle it out with Wall-e and the Toy Story Gang?

I was instantly worried when at the beginning of The Muppets as Disney had added a little Pixar short called “Short Fry” starring the Toy Story Cast. I am a huge fan of these shorts and own the DVD of them. I was exited but also a bit worried. This wasn’t a Pixar film so maybe Disney felt the movie was going to need this highlight  to soften the blow of a poor Muppets film. It was either under confidence in the feature film or they had a nice wee Toy Story short that Disney wanted to get out there. Thankfully it was the second and The Muppets was excellent, as was the short. The plot of the short is that a miniature Buzz Lightyear toy in a burger joint wants to get out of the display case his is stuck in. He sees regular size Buzz Lightyear in the ball pit and hatches a plan to escape in his place so he can be played with. The story also has a brilliant scene of a support group for “Happy Meal” toys who don’t get the love that other toys get.

So the Muppets. Basic premiss of the film is that Walter (a Muppet) and his brother Gary (played by Jason Segel) live in a happy-go-lucky stuck-in-the-50’s-esk place called Smalltown. Walter grows up being a huge fan of the Muppets as he feels he can identify with them (he never twigs that he himself is a muppet). When he joins Gary and his girlfriend Mary (Amy Adams) on a trip to LA they visit the Muppets studio which is run down and on its last legs. While there Walter finds out about an evil oil barons plan to take over the studio, level it and drill for the oil that lies below. He then finds Kermit, explains what’s happening and that they need to find 10 million dollars before the deadline. The only way to do this is to get the old gang together and put on a telethon to raise the cash. Can they get the gang together? Can they put on a show?

Here is where I usually give a whole “there maybe spoilers ahead” but there will only be one and it’s not critical to the film. I will however put a wee spoiler alert in italics when it coming!

So my thoughts on this film. I loved it. It’s the first film I have seen in ages that I couldn’t find a fault with. I’m not saying that they whole film is gold, it has its lulls but even these are entertaining and develop the story, but at its best it is brilliant. The film works on a few levels. First it takes the mick out of itself, it’s not at all serious and there are a lot of little nudge nudge references given to the audience.  It also has a wee go at the popular “singing” film where people burst into sporadic song by doing the same thing but with a “tongue in cheek” attitude to these scenes. One of these songs (Man or a Muppet) also won an Oscar for best original song.  It is also a really good Muppets story. All the main characters get their time to shine and whole film is entertaining, funny and really easy to watch.

Ok this paragraph has the small spoiler. Here I want to look at the subtle joke that is made when getting the Muppets gang back together. So the gang need 10 million dollars to survive but the “ONLY WAY” is to put on a show. Obviously it’s not the only way and as you meet each of the Muppets you notice that Miss Piggy (who is working high up for Vogue) and Gonzo (who owns a massive bathroom warehouse) could probably both afford 10 million straight off. Also Kermit lives in a Bel Air mansion which he could probably sell. At least between them they could stump up the cash. To drive this joke home Gonzo blows up his factory when he decides to joint the cause rather than sell it, for say, ten million dollars. I liked this. It kind of looks that the decision making of characters in films and makes a joke about them (like when you can’t understand why a character did one thing rather that the easier and more effective option other than it makes the film better).

Last off I would like to mention the cameos in the film. There are loads but they are done really well. I will not tell you who they are but the best are when Walter looks into the mirror and sees a human version of himself and the person who plays drums in the Muppets tribute band in Reno.

I would advise anyone to go and see this film. It’s really good and I probably should have gone to see this again instead of seeing Ghost Rider!

Till next time

Fall

Week Without Coffee and Tea…….COMPLETE!

What a sleepy week!

Well, I managed the 7 days. At points they were hard, especially at work and in the mornings. I have started to write up my paper and will post it tomorrow.

Also had my first mug of coffee in a week this morning and it was amazing!

Later today – Muppets Review

Tomorrow – A (Kinda) Scientific Paper on The effects of Caffeine deprivation

Till then

Fall

Day Three and Four

A quick update! My Mum visits and two long days at work. 

So this is a quick update. The good news is that it is 23.02 on day 4 so I am over halfway! I have not touched a drop of coffee or tea but dam! its been hard.

Day three started with a long day at work. During my day I started to get weird headaches which were explained to me as withdrawal symptoms. I also found at work I went from drinking loads of tea to drinking nothing. Not good. My mum then visited and we went for a meal. It was the closest I have been to giving up when I was offered a Latte at the end of my meal. But no! I was strong and still sit here caffeine free!

Day four has been easier. First day without any tea/coffee near-things first thing in the morning and the day ticked by better that the last few. But as I type I can feel my desire for coffee grow so I must now stop talking about it and submerge my mind in some trash TV to stop me thinking about it.

Three days to go!!! Possible hurdles? Running a Birthday party at work tomorrow and a day on the ticket desk on Saturday. Can my nerve withstand these trials.

Wish me luck

Till next time

Fall

Review – Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Can Old Saint Nick (Cage) get back to his best? 

So. I was going to write a review of the Muppets, which I went to see last night but something happened. A friend of mine asked if I would like to go to the cinema today. I said “Sure, not up to anything. What is on that you have not see?”. Now my friend frequents the cinema a lot and the only real option was “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance”. First thought was “Ok. Nick Cage. Good in Kick Ass but was also in The Wickerman making a fool of himself” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6i2WRreARo) So I went in with an open mind, as you need to if you are going to write about a film. Especially a Nick Cage film.

So whats it about? Well if like me you missed the first film this is how it was explained by my mate. Johnny Blaze (worst name ever for comic book character) makes a deal with the devil to keep his dad alive. The devil doesn’t keep the deal but still puts the spirit of some kind of evil vengeance angle into him. Every now and then Blaze’s head…well…. turns to a blazing skull and he then kills all evil people around him with his really hot chains. Ok. You got that? Cool. Also in the last film he quests to get rid of his split personality but when he is told he can ditch his fiery head he chooses to keep it. This is also the main theme of this film. He is the Ghost Rider. The son of the devil shows up and he needs to save him past the day of the “ritual” because he fancies the kids mum. He also thinks there is a good angel stuck in the bad angel that is stuck in him. Not complicated at all.

So let’s get this out of the way right now. Its getting to be a bit of an elephant in the room. You want to know what I thought? Well….. it was terrible. Not in a movie snob way but in the way that it was so boring even during the action sequences. Also Nick Cage is trying act his way to a contender for his performance in the Wickerman. He over acts everything, his one liners are delivered with the timing of a whale in tap shoes and he has one sequence where he intimidates a “bad guy” he is squawking and moving his head so much it looks like the Family Guy impressions of Bill Cosby. In fairness this scene was hilarious but i feel was never intended to be.

Talking of Family Guy jokes, one of the bad guys had the power of decay (despite decaying anything he touches ( i.e. swords or monks) he can still drive a car?). So he tries to eat food from a lunch box in a bit of light hearted “bad guy” comedy. He has an apple but lo and behold it rots as he raises it to his mouth. The same happens to the sandwich he has a go at.  But then he picks up a Twinkie and (lol) it doesn’t decay. “HAHAHAHAHA, U KNOW LIKE IN FAMILY GUY!!! ROFLCOPTER!!!”. This is also the only joke in the whole film. The rest is terribly dull action sequences and shocking one liners. The main problem is the film can not work out what I wants to be so tries everything. Its a bit of a mess really.

I don’t really what to continue with this review. It is to easy to pick apart and I am trying so hard to find a positive. Maybe if you have nothing better to do you can go and have a laugh. The only upside I can see is this film will allow you to appreciated better films more having seen this dross. So technically this film is doing a lot of good by lowering expectations so that average films will now be  seen as “quite good”. That a positive I suppose!

Nick Cage needs to take a long look at himself, then he will look at all the cash he has and not feel so bad I suppose.

Coming soon my Muppets review.

Till next time

Fall

Day Two

The curse of Tom McCormick

Well it is 22.22 on day 2 of my exile from the world of caffeine. It did not start well. After a good nights sleep I went into auto pilot to the kitchen, took down my superman mug and my hand drifted towards the cupboard that contains all of the tea and coffee goodies. I opened it a crack and could see my Japanese Green tea smiling at me. I had it in my hand but then I woke up a bit, I realised what I was doing and then swore for a little bit. Ah well. After this crushing disappointment I went to the gym and the pet shop to buy a new bulb for my fish tank (I have a rock and roll life style you see). All was fine. Then came the text. “On the train, will see you in a bit”.

My good friend Tom McCormick was visiting from the exotic glamour of Glasgow. We met up, had a wee drink and discussed what we were up to. I then mentioned this little experiment. Bad idea. My good friend Mr McCormick then ordered a pot of tea to tempt me (or maybe to mock me, only he will know!). Who orders a pot of tea IN A PUB? The barman looked embarrassed when he brought the pot to the table but Tom was delighted. I was incredibly jealous. Despite drinking beer, nice beer at that, I really wanted tea! So the evening went on. No more mention of caffeine until we got back to my flat. “Tom, would you like a drink. Beer, whisky?”, “Nah man, any chance of a coffee?”. He was grinning like a Cheshire Cat. I cursed him a bit under my breath and made him his coffee. Green with envy I watch him drink it as I had the last inch and a half of a bottle of coke zero. DAM YOU MCCORMICK! (tbh other than the caffeine incidents it was a lovely day as it always is in Toms company (That’s a nice wee disclaimer)).

So, 5 days to go. I wonder how many days it will take me to stop reaching for my mug in the morning!

Wish me luck

Fall

Day One

So it begins……

Right. So for my next (kinda) Scientific Paper I am going to look at the effect that caffeine has on me. To do this I have had a few days of drinking more than my usual coffee and tea intake to see if there was a difference. Not really. But now the real pain begins. Today is the first day of NO CAFFEINE! So no Coffee. No tea while watching the TV. Not even my usual Superman mug of green tea in the morning. This is day one and after seven days (or how many I manage) I will write-up my findings.

So how was today? Was it an easy day. No, I think I picked the worst first day I could have. I woke up a little hung over from a leaving do the night before. Well the hangover is not from the party but from the cocktails that were consumed and the lack of food (school boy error!). So I had that kind of hangover that a cup of Coffee sorts right out….. dam. I can tell you I was so close to bucking after just 23 minutes of being conscious on first day. But I resisted and the walk to work cleared my head. Fine. So work would be fine. Nope! I was basically manning the doors to tell people we were closed. After see the twelfth heart broken child who couldn’t get into our wee science centre I wanted to cry into a cup of tea BUT NO! I resisted again! Win!

So I have made it to now. 6pm. 10 hours down. The next few should be fine dinner and the like but later. We have Caramel buttons to eat. I will want tea more than anything else at that point. Please, just say a little prayer for me tonight so that I can over come temptation and continue at least into Day 2!

For updates follow on twitter or facebook and see how I manage through this impossible task!

Till next time

Fall

List – My 7 Most Underrated Albums

Everyone Loves a List! 

Ok so I am going to start putting the odd list on the page. This is for two reasons. One. It’s a really good and clear way to get an opinion over. Two. They are really easy to do especially after a few tins of Budweiser!

So this list is looking at my top 7 most underrated albums. What is an underrated album? Well I feel it is an album which was a bit over looked in its time and has not been given the longevity that it deserves. Some that were cut from my final selection were the likes of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Future King of Spain’s both self titled albums and Billy Talent first album (also self titled). So let’s get down to the list eh!

7. Something Corporate – North 

This is one of the most beautiful albums I own. It is a collection of pop punk  love songs which always leave me with a little lump in my throat. Songs such as “Ruthless” and album opener “As You Sleep” pack a punch while still remaining a dazzling mixture of piano, pop punk and love song. I can’t believe that so few people I know have even heard of Something Corporate never mind this album. I believe this is an album that would have universal appeal to all people of all tastes. If I had to pick a favourite song it would be she paints me blue. It keeps true to the above ingredients but has amazing lyrics. http://www.youtube.com/watchv=a0J05E_Rig0&feature=related

6. Electric Six – Fire 

This album is well-known for the song “Gay Bar” everyone knows it and its a bit of a novelty classic. Also well-known songs are “Danger! High Voltage” and “Naked Picture of your Mother”. So straight off there are 3 of the most well-known songs of recent alternative music history, yet in my experience when you mention the whole body of work people will scoff. These three songs are great but the rest of the album is also a joy to listen to. Clever, tongue in cheek in places and a really good riff driven album. Examples of great songs are “Nuclear War on the Dance Floor” and “Dance Commander”. My favourite song is maybe the most straight-laced on the album, the song that closes the album “Synthesizer”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnsq9XtpmEk

5. Hot Hot Heat – Make up the Breakdown  

This was one of my most played albums while growing up and had the ultimate joy of seeing the lead singer being refused into his own gig for being under age when they played at the Liquid Rooms in Edinburgh (many, many years ago!). This album again like the last has a couple of recognisable songs that would make you say “oh, eh, thats….eh….the heat band thing”. You kinda remember but are not 100%. But I believe songs such as “No, Not Now” and “Bandages” deserve the fame that songs like “Roll With It” and “Sex on Fire” get on the radio these days. Straight up, they are classic songs. The rest of the album is of a similar level for me, with other stand out tracks being “Oh God Damit” and “Talk To Me, Dance With Me” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-Rmz-nOJn4&ob=av3e

4. Alkaline Trio – From Here To Infirmary

 This album is one that I know a lot of people like songs from but the real beauty of this album is when you listen to if from start to finish. There is not a single song on this album which I dislike. The reason it is on this list is it was slated by alternative music critics for not being “hard” enough, losing the bands edge and contained too much “filler”. I disagree. I think that every song on th is worthy to be released on its own accord but when listened to in order each song complements the one before and the album has an amazing flow that I have not heard to many times in my vast album listening experience! The best tracks if I had to pick a few would be “Mr Chainsaw”, “Armageddon”  and “Private eye”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WASt9E5slM0

3. The Hives – Your New Favourite Band 

Funny when an album name is right. The story behind this album a simple one. The CD was one  near the bottom of my CD collection for years. It came time to have a clear out and it was 50-50 for this album. I hadn’t listened to it for years and remembered it being ok. I liked Hives songs when they came on in clubs or on the radio but I couldn’t say I was a fan. So I popped in the album to give it a chance and fell in love with it. Its fast paced, intricate yet simple in its presentation. I think maybe The Hives are a band you grow into. I would say they are in my top 3 bands now, which is not bad for a band I almost literally discarded! So I Underrated this album and I think a lot of other people do to. This and “Tyrannosaurus Hives” are incredibly underrated. Best songs? “Supply and Demand”, “Die, All Right!” and “Hate to Say I Told You So”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MCQ7VLoY7bQ

2. The National – Alligator

This is the Third offering from New York band The National. I think the post-punk alternative melodies of The National maybe one of the most under rated bands of modern times. My main reason for saying this when comparing this album to the last two offerings from the Kings Of Leon (in my eyes two of the most overrated albums ever). What the Kings of Leon try to do is make this album. The lyrics are mesmerizing,  Matt Berninger’s baritone singing is hypnotic and the songs flow effortlessly over the whole album. This album also works as background music, study music or the focus of listening. It works on so many levels. Best tracks? “Secrete Meeting” is very good but my Favourite song is “Looking for Astronauts” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NdS7ETy2fww

1. Brand New – Deja Entendu 

Well. This is my number one most underrated album that I own. If you haven’t listened to this album you should make this a musical priority. The album is a dark angst riddled post pop-punk smorgasbord of total tunes. I suppose it would even fall into the realms of Emo but this album was kicking about before the major Emo explosion that erupted with MCR’s “Black Parade”.  The strengths of this album are its phenomenal lyrics and bass lines which are played in an off tune Drop D which make the hole album feel a little deeper and in places a little darker. A stand out track would be “The Boy Who Block His Own Shot” which includes the lyric “You are the smell before rain, you are the blood in my vanes”. The best known track is probably the build up strong “Sic Transit Gloria… Glory Fades” which is an epic wee tune and has a great video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKDc2lkt_mE). Even the hidden track at the end which is a kind of sea shanty fits into the feel of the album. Everyone should own this album and listen to it at least once a month. Its brilliance.

So there’s my first list. It took a bit longer than I thought it would and was a bit trickier than I had hoped but I didn’t want to sound like I was gushing over any of the albums. I genuinely believe that all of the albums above are worthy of any CD collection and if you haven’t heard any of them I would hope you would love at least one of the above.

Let me know what you think.

Till next time

Fall

Review – The Artist

Was this quiet film better than the “talkies”?

So about 6 weeks after its gerneral relese and countless nominations for awards I finally took an afternoon trip to my local cinema to see the Artist. The critics love it, my friends all love it and to be honest I have not heard a bad thing about it. But here’s the thing. I never fancied it. I like to think of myself as a open minded cinema goer and especially love works that have come from France (such as this film) but the idea felt like flying the Atlantic in a hot-air balloon instead of taking concord. Fun for a bit but is there any point in going backwards. So I went in thinking “why bring back a form of film which has been dead for such a long time and in these times of rehashing anything, why has this not been done before”. But that is no way to head into a film so I cleared my mind and sat down to watch this critically acclaimed jont around 30’s Hollywoodland.

Basically the story itself is one you have seen a thousand times before not only in films but in TV shows every week. Its essentially the story of the main character George Valentin’s fall from mega star of silent film to his talents becoming obsolete due to the introduction of talking films and his reluctance to change to the new media. Subsequently he tries to fund his own silent film, losses all his money and has a full on break down. At the same time Peppy Miller, a nobody at the start of the film, works her way up to be the biggest star of the “talkies”. The slight twist being that her fake mole was first suggested by George at the start of her career (think of the whole creating your down fall irony type of thing). The film charts the years where silent film dies and Peppy grows to stardom while George plummets as their lives collide from time to time. Also John Goodman plays the studio boss throughout the flick and is a nice familiar face in a cast of new meat to me.

Ok same deal as usual. I am now going to look at some of the themes and my opinions of the film so there maybe a few spoilers beyond this point. Although im pretty sure I am the only person on the planet that hadent seen the film before today.

First off I want to look at the theme of the death of silent film that runs throughout and sees Georges fall from grace. Obviously it is one of the quirks of the film that it looks at the history of the transition between silent movies and talking film but as The Artist is a silent film so you hear non of this new media. I makes the film feel as if it is being told from the perspective of the silent film or someone who is stuck in their ways and will not accept the new technology. Which fits well with Georges character and gives the film a feel of him being nostalgic and down on his luck rather than a loser or foolish . But this is as good as the depth to characters gets for me.

This is where I start to find small faults in the film. The main one for me was character development. The fact that this was a film without dialogue made it really hard to get to know the characters. I felt removed from them, and as this was a film about emotions, I personally found it hard to feel for the characters. Don’t miss quote me in saying that the acting was poor. Far from it, I though it was outstanding, but even with these great performances I could not connect with either George or Peppy. Also there is a lot of reliance on George dog to show what was going on.  It is easier to show threat if there is a dog barking (even silently) or even Georges embarrassment if the dog is mimicking him. I one way I see this as clever to make it easier for the audience but with a film which is taking so many awards, I would have wanted the characters to be deeper than I felt they were.

All in all I feel this is maybe not a great film but a great cinema experience. I do not think that I will want to see The Artist again but I am happy I went to see it. It is different and it works but I feel the film would have been much better with dialogue to develop the characters since the story was so predictable. I feel with dialogue the romance would have been deeper between the two main characters and history of silent film, which was the umbrella of the film, could have played a bigger role, which it probably deserved as that has not been in mainstream cinema for a long time. Its a film worth seeing but I think it could have been improved by the inclusion of dialogue. Funny that the lack of this is the one thing that makes the film more famous that anything else.

I know this will not be a popular review so add a comment if you agree or disagree with anything.

Till next time

Fall

Seeing Double

A quick article about actors playing two roles in a film

With Adam Sandlers new movie Jack and Jill released, I was thinking about actors playing two parts in the same film. Does it ever work? In the case of Jack and Jill I couldn’t bring myself to hit the cinema to watch it. The trailer was hard enough to watch. I mean Adam Sandler playing is own sister and all he does is puts on a wig and talks with a high pitch lisp. Sends shivers down my spine. Also this is an American “holiday” film. Released in November over there and takes in the whole winter festive season. Just what we need in February! It also has a Rotten tomato rating of 3% (www.rottentomatoes.com) so I am going to give it a pass. If you want to watch the trailer I post it below (Good luck!).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHKTXrUnN58

 
So is that it? Are there only two films to try this? Are there no good films where the actor plays more than one part?Well…. not many but there are a few. For starts all the Monty Python films have each member playing several roles. Then again they did that on a weekly basis on the TV so  it may not really count.So what other films come to mind that use the same method. Well the first that came to mind is Eddie Murphy in the Nutty Professor where he plays the Klumps. Basically after the first film someone decided that fat suits were funny and gave a massive budget to the production team for more of the same in the sequel. But you already have the fat suit from the last one. What to do? Ah! Eureka! Lets make more characters for fat suits and buy a few more of different sizes. They then got on to the phone to Eddie Murphy asking if he could come up with more fat suit characters. And did he deliver! Old fat man who farts, old woman who farts, child that farts etc. It’s not a classic but the Nutty Professor has its child film charm I suppose. This may be the problem with Jack and Jill, that it has no identity. Is it a comedy? Is it a kids film? A family film? A frat boy film? God knows!

The one that breaks the mold is Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove. The film is one of my all time favourites and doesn’t make a big thing out of Sellers playing three of the main parts. Of course he plays the Group Capitan, The President and Dr. Strangelove himself. This is not because of a gimmick but because Columbia pictures would not finance the picture if he didn’t play at least 3 main roles. So it’s not cause Sellers would be funny playing three roles but because they were so impressed by his acting, they didn’t want anyone else for these parts. The fact it was not a comedy device makes it very different from the two films above.

So can a comedy work with this formula or will it always fall short. No. There is one film franchise that I love and one actor again plays three main characters. This being Mike Myers in the Austin Powers films. Here Myers plays the two main characters Austin and Dr. Evil, and one support part as Fat Bastard.  I suppose it is pretty obvious that it’s the same actor but I don’t think you are aware of it when watching the film. You dont suddenly think “isn’t that funny the same actor talking to himself”. Unfortunately that seems to be the main hook of Jack and Jill. The joke is that Sandler is talking to himself in drag, Nudge nudge wink wink. I think most folk just wished he had just kept that to his own bathroom mirror and not across our cinema screens.

Anyway. In conclusion, for this ponderous and not well planned out article, I feel that the actor playing more than one role can work but it needs a special mind, who has excellent comic timing and is able to bounce of dialogue which can’t be done live. In this film they cast Adam Sandler.

Till next time

Fall

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