Wednesday, September 3, 2014

[book and movie review] Bob Saget & Reign Over Me

I read a book recently. I say that like it's some sort of accomplishment. On a much lazier scale, I also watched a movie the other day. I had been interested in reading Bob Saget's autobiography since I saw his appearance on the Norm Macdonald video podcast a couple months ago. I had been very intrigued by "Reign Over Me" when I first saw the trailer in 2007. Never got around to watching it. My finishing of the book and movie occurred around the same time. Both were okay, nothing spectacular, which is why they don't each get separate reviews.

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Dirty Daddy: The Chronicles Of A Family Man Turned Filthy Comedian

"Full House" was a show I enjoyed watching when I was a kid. The show hasn't really held up well for me over the years, so I'm not presently involved in the Full House renaissance currently going on over at Nick-At-Nite. 

My favorite genre of books is autobiographies. I enjoy learning about people. I'm a big fan of Norm Macdonald's video podcast. In fact, I've stolen some little quirks and sayings from what he does and threw them into my own podcast. Bob Saget was a guest on Norm's podcast a couple months ago. Norm tells a funny story about being a teenager and sneaking into a club to watch Bob perform. Bob then clarifies that he was 22 and Norm was 19.

Bob was on the podcast to push his new book, and the interview got me wanting to read it. This is where I admit in the interest of full disclosure that I'm not really a fan of Bob Saget's stand up comedy. I can listen to it and get a few chuckles. His bit on the Aristocrats was probably the funniest part of that movie, but that's because that movie really wasn't all that funny. Don't get me wrong, I liked it. But, it was more interesting than funny to me.

The book deals a lot with death and sadness. Bob talks about how the death of his father and the deaths of his two sisters at young ages affected him as a person and comedian. 

The problem with this book is something that you wouldn't normally assume to be a problem: Bob Saget wrote this book by himself, without a ghost writer. The problem with this is a ghost writer will listen to Bob's life story and piece it together in mostly Bob's own words. With this book, Bob is kind of scatter-brained and not staying on point. He's also throwing out a lot of small jokes that probably work in his stand up, but come across as distracting when you're reading about his life.

It was an easy read, marred slightly by distracting jokes. If you're a huge Bob Saget fan, pick it up. If not, listen to his appearance on Norm's podcast; you get all of the good stuff there. And they also talk about Norm's hilarious anti-roast of Bob Saget from his Comedy Central Roast.

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Reign Over Me

This movie came out in 2007. I was a junior at Concord University and was very intrigued by the concept. There was a lot of early Oscar buzz for the film. I had grown up on Adam Sandler being a doofus and was very interested in watching him play a serious role. His turn in "Punch Drunk Love" was a favorite of mine and I was ready for more.

This was one of the first movies in a post-9/11 world to mention the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Don Cheadle plays a successful dentist who runs into his old college roommate, played by Adam Sandler. This was the first time he had seen Sandler's character since his wife and three children had died on one of the 9/11 planes.

Music plays a big role in this film. Bruce Springsteen and The Who, in particular. The movie's title is based off of a song by The Who, which was covered by Pearl Jam for this film. In what is almost a throw-away scene from the movie, Sandler's character mentions that "Quadrophenia," the album containing the song from the movie title, changed his life. It comes to play during a pivotal moment near the film's conclusion.

Sandler gives a very understated performance. They say he's suffering from PTSD and he's basically very awkward in social situations and explodes into rage every time Cheadle's character tries to bring up his family. It's definitely not what you get from his usual stuff.

This isn't delving into spoilers, but it may say a little too much. What I didn't like about the film is that it didn't let itself become a dark, sad movie. There is a moment near the end where something very dark started to happen and I sat up a little bit, expecting something game-changing. Then it passes and the movie continues for another 20 minutes.

It's a good movie, but I think the ending made a lot of the Oscar buzz go away. Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle put in awesome performances, but nothing that makes the film stand out. A dark, "9/11 killed his family and he's never going to be okay because of it" ending would have made this stand out more. For what you get, it's good. But, it could have been a lot better.

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