Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hey, Chicago: It's FREE MOVIE Time!

Hey everyone,

Do you like Shawn Ashmore?  He's a twin, I think he was on the Animorphs series, and then he grew up and did X-Men where he screwed over Anna Paquin (I think).

Remember The Ruins, when he was shirtless?  I do!

Anyway, The Film Yap is giving away free passes to his new movie Frozen (in which he will hopefully be shirtless again--probably not, given the film's setting, but I can dream).  Click on the link for your chance to win!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Liveblog: The Pregnancy Pact

First things first, y'all: I'm in the final three to write for TVGasm.  Considering this was their biggest submission year ever, that's pretty cool.  So vote for me, why don't ya?  (If you're not registered in their forums, you'll have to do that, but it only takes a couple of minutes and will make me very happy.)

Now down to the postage: this week's Unpro comes courtesy of the latest in the Lifetime lady-shaming ouevre, The Pregnancy Pact.  I was so eager to watch this kinda-but-not-really based on a true story, that I decided to live-Tweet it and put the results on my blog(in chronological order) for you to enjoy.  All you need to know is that a couple of years ago, Time magazine did a story on a small Massachusetts town that was experiencing a spike in teen pregnancy.  This was allegedly because of a pact made by agroup of teenage girls, though that was never proven to be the case.

My viewing experience?  Um, interesting.  More than a little stabby.  Read on:

Haha, covering your ass with a disclaimer. Lifetime FTW.

SCARE TACTICS! News montage practically fetishizing girls' sexuality, followed by copious MAKING OUT!

High school girl is NOT pregnant, and disappointed. She kind of reminds me of an underage Charlotte from Sex and the City.

Beware kissing! It gets you PREGNANT!

Has Thora Birch had work done? There's something off about her face.

Wow, look at her cool office! Just like all online magazine journalists have! Just like I have...oh wait.

Camryn Manheim the School Nurse is concerned(TM).

Redhead protagonist hugs her boyfriend w/ Zac Efron hair. Because kissing gets you PREGNANT: at least, that's what they want us to believe.

Zac Efron Hair has a shlight lishp. And I'm an ash-hole for laughing at it.

The principal reminds me of the police officer in the SNL Lifetime skit--won't listen to Camryn Nurse because she's a woman.

I keep wanting Nancy Travis to have an English accent like she did in Three Men and a Baby. Was Mary born because of a pact? I wonder...

Zac Efron hair "couldn't imagine being married to anyone elsh."

Thora Birch is all EDGY with her videocam and her snappy snarkiness. Ugh. Um, no way is that gay dude her former boyfriend!

Zac Efron Hair's dad has a cell phone outside church and is therefore a jerk. Because only rich people have cell phones.

Thora Birch used to live in the small town but "went away suddenly." I wonder WHY? WHY? WHY?

Nancy Travis is all, "you kids and your blogs."

Why is redhead protagonist SO FOCUSED on getting married? It's weird. Zac Efron Hair, of course, just wants to have shex.

Redhead protagonist=deliberately pregnant. "OMG, I'm gonna have a baby!" Her friends swear secrecy on the pact. I need cheesecake, yo.

Seriously, are teenage girls really this stupid? I knew 2 girls who got pregnant at my high school in the same year. No talk of a pact.

During commercials: Should I get back into Project Runway? I dunno.

Disclaimer AGAIN? They must really be afraid of a lawsuit. Here's the contemplative guitar music and mirror-gazing. Condoms. They work!

High school Charlotte is kind of the badass rebel of the group. Huh.

Okay, Thora Birch lived in the crap small town for 2 years and therefore has NO right to complain about having no friends.

A video blog on teen issues? That's her full time job. O-kay.

Her ex is the gay-seeming guy who works at the school. Of course he knocked her up. Did he look at Honcho before doing the deed?

Obligatory Courtroom Scene, except I think it's more of a tribunal. Which I don't think would take place in a COURTROOM.

I know I'm asking a lot for a Lifetime movie to make sense, but why does pregnancy glamorizing=no birth control?

Conservative pro-abstinence Nancy Travis is SERVING Camryn Manheim with her scarves and silver jewelry.

High school Charlotte is wearing Jon Gosselin's patterned castoffs. Maybe he's the babydaddy.

Barfing! Nancy Travis Concerned Face. The Inevitable "Don't Be Mad," dad dragging daughter by arm, and Rich Asshole Zac Efron Hair Dad.

Commercial: Oh wow, a movie with fat suits that looks waaaaay more offensive than Shallow Hal.

Commercial: Am really sad. Was invited to 4 press screenings of "Dear John" and can't make ANY of them.

Why is there horror movie music over a pregnancy movie? Oh right, it's LIFETIME. I hate the whole "value yourself"=not have sex. God.

Actor who plays redhead's father. Have seen him somewhere and it's driving me crazy. I think he played a jerk. Using IMDb is cheating.

How is Zac Efron Hair "shupposed" to act? He should have figured out how to get "condomsh."

These are the girls who Oprah wants you to think have "rainbow parties." Even after that was proved to be a myth.

Now when someone says "sexually active," I think of Juno. It's a very strange term when you think about it.

Oh God, I'm getting a hipster Elizabeth Wakefield vibe from Thora Birch. All that's missing is the black-fingernailed shoulder pat.

Gay Ex in his checkered shirt is Concerned. He is way too natty to have knocked up a girl. Unless it was via turkey baster.

This movie was so clearly written by a 45-year-old trying to be hip but still afraid of the interwebs.

And who believes in rainbow parties.

Gay Ex is soooo in denial. You know his hot wife is either really Christian or goes to New York and swings on the weekends.

Commercial: Skinny Marie Osmond looks like a cross-eyed Barbie. It's not a good look for her. At all.

"Plus, all the girls in the olden days were married." Thanks, Thora Bitch, from all the single moms of America.

Gas stations sell condoms by the STRIP? I've never seen that ever.

Zac Efron Hair: "misherable." Perhapsh shome shpeech therapy would be of asshishtansh.

She's doing the Sarah Marshall pulling-his-face-to-her-face.

A Catholic mom is fundraising for the daycare? The Catholic moms I knew wouldn't have done that. Too deep in denial.

AGH, now I empathize with Thora Birch. Adoption is okay.

Sepia flashback: "let's all get pregnant and raise our babies together!" Big smiles. Now I understand all the disclaimers: that was a LIE.

Nancy Travis Status Update: I am haggard.

Yes, confide in a reporter. God, was I ever that stupid?

"So this is what it feels like to be Jamie Lynn Spears"???? What are they, at a coed boarding school for tweens?

Zoey 101 reference FTW!

Zac Efron Hair: "Did you get pregnant on purposh?" I wish he'd say porpoish. He is shorry for his accushation.

Oooh, "peer pressure." It's like a time travel machine to DARE 1988!

Is Camryn Manheim going to swoop in with magic condoms and save the day? Please make it so!

Aw, here's the lawyer! Combined with the rich asshole dad spouting cliches and screaming.

I doubt even my Catholic mother would refer to teenage me's out-of-wedlock baby as a "precious gift from God." At my gyno appointment.

That tabloid reporter looks like Pee Wee Herman. And Redhead's Dad is kicking his ass. Oh noes, Zac Efron Hair got arreshted!

By the way, teenage me did not have an out of wedlock baby. Partly because pregnancy scared the shit out of me. Still does.

Commercial: Did you know that there's a gay love story in "Valentine's Day"? Right, 'cause it's not in any preview. Hollywood, I hate you.

Thora Birch is being all JOURNALIST-Y. For her very famous blog that makes her enough to live in NYC.

Also, aren't teen pregnancy rates actually down from previous years?

Now we're talking Paternity Test (TM)! I really can't wait to see Lifetime Wow's take on this.

Oooh, now Nancy Travis is being kicked off the PTA council thingy. Her eyeshadow is very unhappy about this.

The timeline is all messed up. I'm not sure how pregnant Redhead is, or how long Thora's been in town.

Thora Birch totally went to the Elizabeth Wakefield School of Sanctimony. You heard it here first.

Ten bucks that Redhead conveniently miscarries.

Way to go, editors. That baby in an incubator is totally stock footage. They didn't even try. My shit laptop coulda done better.

I think Gay Ex and Thora Birch need to call a truce and head out to Musical Theatre Monday for cocktails and showtunes.

Ohhhh, I think Thora Birch had a shmashmortion.

"Was there a pact or wasn't there?" The reporters are confuuuuuused!

The moment of truth: there was a pact!!!!! Way to dishappoint your babydaddy, Redhead.

Commercial: Aaaand a Precious wannabe. They turned that around quick.

Underage Charlotte has determined her babydaddy. Heartfelt mother-daughter confession in car GO!

Mom said "butt!" Oprah fans everywhere are scandalized.

Redhead's dad said, "we're a little numb down here." Tell me the screenwriter didn't put that in on purpose.

Redhead just made a confession that ups her dumb quotient. I wouldn't trust my kid either if she were open about wanting a baby at 15.

It's a party! With teenage drinking shenanigans. And probably fornicating.

Hold up, is Redhead wearing a SCRUNCHIE?! And I'm pulling a Carrie Bradshaw: any iota of believability? Out the window!

Oh crap, Redhead just took a DRINK! Noooooooo! Also, there was roughing up, aka Miscarriage Foreshadowing. You know it's coming.

Now Thora Birch is telling Nancy Travis how to parent. Somewhere Liz Wakefield is smiling gently and patting her own shoulder.

Kristy Thomas is probably pretty proud of herself too.

Thora Birch's confession: she DIDN'T have the a-word. Because God forbid anyone in a Lifetime movie take that option and not, you know, die.

Redhead: passed out! Why do I want to sing "Pants on the Ground"?

Her pants are intact, FYI.

Someone had to say it: kids, don't drink and drive.

Wow, baby survived. Maybe the alcohol will have the reverse effect and she'll be smarter than her dumbass mom.

Wow, Nancy Travis is a hypocrite. But her daughter's mistakes. Were way worse.  (That's how. The line was said.)

This really is Full House: Now With Even Less Birth Control. It's a weird hybrid of Slut Shaming and Consequence-Free Teen Pregnancy.

I know all kids make mistakes, but Thora Birch didn't grow up in that town. She REALLY wouldn't have hunted down condoms?

Aaaand the abstinence message STILL prevails. Even though Nancy Travis herself didn't abstain before marriage.

Thora Birch admits that her "knee jerk liberal" mind has been changed by Nancy Travis' Magic Speech of Abstinence. And I go kill myself.

Color me shocked: Zac Efron Hair got a girlfriend who washn't knocked up.

Closing shot: stupid Redhead cuddling her baby and Thora Birch saying "congratulations." Brought to you by Sarah Palin.

Camryn Manheim says over the credits: "talk to your teens about sex." Start with the mixed messages of this movie.

GARRRRR. This movie wasn't as fun to snark as I thought. It just made me stabby. And it made me want to buy condoms, and I'm not even 15.

So later, when I bitched about this horrible movie, a friend of mine asked why I watched it in the first place. I mean, a Lifetime movie about teen pregnancy is most likely NOT going to be the most sex-positive thing around, so it's a valid question.  I guess my answer is this: I thought it would be eminently funny and snarkable like so many of its counterparts (Co-Ed Call Girl, anyone?).  Maybe it was that way for other people, but it turned out not to be the case for me.

Why?  It's an issue way closer to my heart than co-ed call girls or cheating wives.

Unpro Steps Up on a Very Brief Soapbox

Here's the thing: teen pregnancy isn't good.  I have no doubt that there ARE girls out there who are so uninformed and sheltered that they think getting pregnant before you graduate high school is, in fact, great. With The Pregnancy Pact, Lifetime had a real opportunity to warn against teen pregnancy, while promoting alternatives that are indeed positive: birth control, effective parental communication, and most of all, things that teens can do (together, or by themselves) that aren't intercourse but are still fun and healthy and normal. Because making birth control available won't turn teenagers into sexmongers (well, any more than they already are)--it will just make them more informed and safer.  Also, not every teen is ready to have sex, but there are other ways to feel good that don't carry the risk of pregnancy and STD's.

But no.  Lifetime took those opportunities and shot them STRAIGHT TO HELL.  Because who needs education, information and excitation when you have the ever-effective abstinence?


*end rant*

Just a quick heads-up: next week, I will be heading out of town for the two-week writing residency I mentioned in my last post.  During that time, you'll get two amazing pop culture-related guest posts: one from Etiquette Bitch and one from Nikki of Are You There Youth?  It's Me, Nikki.  Should be fun!

See ya in a few weeks, and as always, thanks a mil for reading.

Monday, January 18, 2010

I Ain't the Worst That You Seen (Hopefully): My Fiction

First things first: my ever-so-fashionable and witty lil sis (whose thoughts were featured in this post), has started her own blog.  She loves reality TV and is quite awesome, so follow her, please!

So in addition to ripping on pop culture, dissecting movies, and befriending Jeremy Sisto, I also write YA fiction that doesn't involve vampires.  No agent yet, but I'm working on it.  I started this blog as a way to indulge my love of pop culture and create another writing channel--one with feedback more positive and detailed than "thanks, this isn't for us."

Though apparently I don't totally suck, as this place is going to pay me to work on my novel for two weeks in February.

I've had readers ask if they could read some of my fiction.  As it happens, two weeks ago I wrote a short piece for this contest.  I didn't win, but I was pretty happy with what I came up with.  It's a self-contained story, and it's already online (therefore I'm not paranoid someone will steal it) so I thought I'd share it.

NOTE: this is a highly atypical post. Regular snarkage will continue next week.

A little background: the prompt for the contest was 500 words or less from a teenager's secret diary or a letter they never sent.


If only Levon hadn't worn that red grandpa cardigan.

Now I'm stressing whether Taylor will flay me with their recently-expelled fetus.

I need to write this down, even though circumstantial evidence probably isn't a good idea. Like what just happened.

I wish I could say "he's like my brother." We were together in the nursery, grew up singing the Elton John songs we were named for, alongside parents who'd been the oldest in Lamaze class, shot up from faithful story hour-goers to high school employees at the library.

But I was convinced that we were meant to be. Who else sounded as retro compatible as Levon and Harmony?

Then came Taylor, who preferred Cosmo to Tolkien. Taylor, who we liked anyway. Taylor, who found herself knocked up and didn't need Maury to prove that Levon was the father.

I went along for the nine-month ride. What else could a virginal third wheel do? And Taylor was grateful to confide in me when her boobs hurt.

That night was the first time Levon and I were trusted to close the library alone. Taylor was home, about to pop.

While I picked up discarded hardcovers, I listened to him heave up the ancient stereo hidden behind the circulation desk. Crap. Why did he have to pick that song? Out of all the Beach Boys, he had to choose the prayer of unrequited lovelust.

"Wouldn't it be nice if we were older, and we wouldn't have to wait so long/
and wouldn't it be nice to live together, in the kinda world where we belong?"

"I wish that every kiss was neeeeeeeverending," Levon crooned along. In the fluorescent light, I could see lines on his forehead that weren't there last year.

"Harmony!" I turned around. "Why ya running away?"

I held up the book.

He told me to put it down. "We always wanted to be all alone in the library." Levon spread his arms wide, banging his elbow on the newspaper carrel.

I rushed over, gingerly rolling up his sleeve, not even sure what I was supposed to be looking for.

His hand covering mine should have set off the security alarms.

What happened next was like flipping crisp new pages of text: stumbling to the windowless genealogy section, the tight space, the big gap in experience.

The swirl of "this is exactly how it's supposed to be" blending into "this is the worst thing we could possibly be doing." I wasn't sure which one was right, if there was a right feeling at all.

By the time Levon's cell beeped, the Beach Boys had moved on to "Barbara Ann" and we weren't looking at each other.

Taylor's water broke.

He started pulling on his clothes. He left the cardigan spread out on the floor facedown, and caught my eye with a glance I couldn't read. Asked if I'd be okay.

I swallowed. Nodded.

The heavy door slammed. Goosebumps broke out on my bare skin.

The closest thing was the red cardigan, but I didn't touch it.

NOTE2: HEY LITERARY AGENTS! Like what you see?  There's more where that came from!  Email me at maybeimamazed02[at]yahoo[dot]com.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Free Movie Screening in Chicago

Hey everyone,

So The Film Yap, this most excellent movie website I've been writing for when I'm not blogging here, is starting to give away passes to free screenings in Chicago.  As a Chicagoan myself, I will be helping to promote these screenings (and I may even show up at some!  Unpro in the flesh, y'all!).

Anyway, if you're from Chicago or know someone who is, and if you like The Rock and/or cheesy kids' movies and/or free stuff (and who doesn't like free stuff?), click here to win passes to a screening of Tooth Fairy taking place Thursday, January 21.

You may remember Tooth Fairy as the film Theresa's daughter Gia unsuccessfully auditioned for on The Real Housewives of New Jersey.  No?  Just me then?

Anyway, spread the word to your Chicago pals, and let's pack the place with freebie-lovin' moviegoers, shall we?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Do Me This Solid If You Would, Pretty Ladies (and Gentlemen)

So if you're a fan of mine on Facebook, you may remember that last week I talked about entering two writing contests.  The first, I didn't get anywhere, though I was VERY proud of the piece I came up with, so that's something.

The other?  I'm a finalist!

The contest is to be a recapper for TVGasm, quite possibly one of the most hilarious sites out there.  I discovered these guys back when I was a disgruntled, depressed law student.  They made me laugh.

I'm not disgruntled and depressed anymore, but I would LOVE to write for them.

So here's what you can do to help me out:

Go here, read my recap of "For the Love of Ray J" (sorry about the asterisks, it's a formatting issue on the site's part), and vote on it.  NOTE: if you're not registered on the TVGasm forums, you will need to register.  It should only take a few minutes and you will receive my undying gratitude in return.

Thank you so much!  (And don't worry, should I win the honor of making fun of crappy shows on a cool website, the blog will continue.  That's the Unpro Guarantee!)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Why Can't We Be Friends?: An Open Letter to Jeremy Sisto

Dear Jeremy Sisto,

So I feel like we got off on the wrong foot.  Last week, I posted a review of the excellent 2002 cult horror May, in which you play a pivotal role and meet a very, um, choppy fate.  In said review, I devoted a sidebar to your effective portrayal of bipolar sister-lovin' Billy Chenowith on the seminal series Six Feet Under--a portrayal so effective that it's sometimes hard for me to watch your other work (which is varied and consistent, the Holy Grail for actors) without thinking of Billy.

Backwards as it sounds, I meant it as a compliment.

In the comments, someone posted a tidbit about you that they believed to be true.  Without doing my homework, I went along with it.  Naturally, you were upset, and I apologized.

I then did a little research on you (as maybe I should have done before replying to the comment).  I found out that not only are you a former Chicago resident, but you attended the lovely Francis W. Parker School.  In my day job, I've not only worked with the school itself but some of its alums and parents, and they're all delightful people.  I have no reason to believe you aren't the same.

I have to admit, I wasn't sure if it was really you posting at first.  So I did some more research, and I found out that not only do you friend your fans on Facebook (which not every celebrity does), you also respond to them via Twitter (which not every celebrity does).  That's really nice.  You seem intent on giving props to people who like your work, and I respect that a lot.  As for me, I'm really excited to have the subject of one of my posts track it down and comment, as this has only happened once before.

Because of this, I am thinking it was really you commenting on my last post.  Did you know that my May review got the most comments out of any of my posts, ever?  Thanks, dude!

In the commenter's defense, she is a personal friend of mine and is not the type to stir up trouble.  As you know, the Internet is a place where rumors fly and people are easily misled.

In my defense, I'm a nerd for proper spelling and grammar.  A complete and total NERD.  I've been taken to task for it, trust me.

So Jeremy, I extend an olive branch, which if your latest comment is to be believed, you are "considering."  Consider this, dude: I think you are cool for calling me out, and there are no hard feelings on my end.  I hope you keep reading this blog, because I've been told I'm kinda funny.

Roll with me, homey!

Your (hopefully) friend,
The Unprofessional Critic

P.S.  I really dig Waitress.  Also Clueless.  Will probably write about them at some point.

Monday, January 4, 2010

For Sadako: May (Plus, THE GIVEAWAY WINNER!!!!!)

This week, I close out Reader Request Month with a review for Sadako of Dibbly Fresh.  After enjoying my take on Ginger Snaps, Sadako requested that I watch another "feministy horror film" and report back.  Some heavy Googling conjured up a title that's been on my "to rent" list for a while now: May

(By the way, May has a connection to one of my all-time favorite indies, Brick: Brick director Rian Johnson edited May, and the title character makes a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo appearance in Brick.)

Not sure if I'd term May a "feminist" film, exactly, but it's certainly female-centric, with a fascinating, fragile protagonist, some very recognizable supporting actors Before They Were Stars, and buckets and buckets o' goo. 

Needless to say, I liked it!

Plotarooskie: Since childhood, May (Angela Bettis, winner of the Why Aren't You in More Movies? Award) has been cursed with a lazy eye, leading to outcast status and maximum social awkwardness.  As a young woman, May works at an animal hospital by day and sews her own clothes by night, in a cavernous California abode with only her doll collection for company.  However, when she befriends lunkhead mechanic Adam (Jeremy Sisto--more about him in a bit) and responds to the advances of purring coworker Polly (Anna Faris in her dark-haired Scary Movie days), May's life seems to be taking a turn for the . . . normal.  But as May soon learns, people are fickle, and even a lazy-eyed misanthrope doesn't have to take it lying down.


Here's my issue with the Sis.  He's a fairly good actor.  Pretty attractive.  I'm sure he's a nice gentleman in real life, and the fact that he grew up in Chicago makes me want to like him more (I'm a sucker for a hometown boy made good). 

That said . . . when I see anything, anything featuring Jeremy Sisto, all I can think of is Billy, his character from Six Feet Under.  If you've never watched the show (which you absolutely should, because it's a television masterpiece and the finale alone will leave you crying for days), Billy is completely insane.  Granted, he's a product of a very screwed-up family environment, plus he's bipolar, but the guy is also an unwashed obsessive douchebag who keeps going off his meds.  Did I mention that he also wants to screw his sister?  (I know, I know, I love Wasteland, but Lex is a self-aware teenager wracked with guilt about feelings he knows are inappropriate, whereas Billy's just . . . gross.)  And I guess I could attribute it to Sisto's effective portrayal of a largely unsympathetic character (not easy to carry off), but . . . God, every time something bad happens to a Jeremy Sisto character, I can't help but yelling at the TV (or yelling in my head if I'm in a public movie theatre), "Haha, BILLY, you deserve it!"


So yeah, buckets of blood in this movie.  Ginger Snaps has nothing on May.  Also, reeeeeaaally cringe-inducing moments from a young woman who genuinely has no idea how to behave in an acceptable fashion.  Finally, the film moves very slowly for the first forty-five minutes or so...but there's quite a payoff, so it's worth sticking around for.  Also, I like my heroines bespectacled!

I'm still pondering the meaning of May.  Did director Lucky McKee set out to make a darkly funny social commentary on the eventual crackup of lifelong outcasts, or a purely fun, female-driven slasher-fest?  Hard to tell: May carries a bit of film-school-grad lack of focus.  However, along with blood, there's also karma, schadenfreude, and even a little twisted empowerment. 

Worth the rental.

And now (drumroll, please), the WINNER of the Reader Request Month Giveaway!

As you recall, anyone who suggested a topic (whether via email, Facebook, or comment) was eligible for a drawing to receive a cool prize from yours truly. 

After a totally-random drawing of names by my roommate, the winner is...


Congratulations, Ana!  Email me this week with your address so I can mail your prize!

And thanks to everyone who suggested a topic...I'll definitely do another RRM again soon.