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This list was made three weeks ago after I watched the season finale of American Dad and came to the realization that it was going to be the last new episode to ever air on Fox. It seemed like a good time to go back through all the episodes of a show that I care deeply about and list my top ten favorites. I have spent the last three weeks trying to list them in order of preference, but it was just too difficult and I have decided to present them here in the order in which they first aired on Fox. I hope you enjoy my choices and if you have any ideas of your own about the best episodes or complaints about the ones I chose feel free to post them in the comments and I will gladly continue the discussion with you.

As a note, I could have easily listed on here any and all of the Christmas Episodes, but that would have been a cop out right? Still the fact that this show is able to consistently produce amazing Christmas Episodes is something to be honored. Maybe next time I’ll put them in order of best to worst, at least if not next time then at least as soon as Christmas time rolls around.

 

 

Bullocks to Stan

This was the episode that made me realize how truly special American Dad was as a show. While every episode before it had at least one moment that made me praise the latest offering from Seth Macfarlane, “Bullocks to Stan” was the first time everything that American Dad brought to the table was successfully on display and working towards a single goal. The best part of the episode is the Meta joke about Klaus doing DVD commentary for his day to day life coming back during the final fight in a way that obscures us hearing “the funniest joke of the episode.” Both giving a proper send up of DVD commentary tracks and cementing the claim that it is in fact the best joke of the episode.

Finances with Wolves

Every member of the Smith household has a storyline in Finances with Wolves. That’s six distinct plotlines in just twenty-two minutes of television. I can’t think of another television show that ever did something as ambition and it is made even better by the fact that it succeeds on all fronts. Even if it wasn’t so successful in its ambitions Finances with Wolves would be up for consideration just for the simple fact that this is the episode where Klaus escapes his fishy fate and winds up back in a human body. It also features one of my favorite uses of music. Klaus celebrates his new found humanity, as the front man of an Earth, Wind, and Fire cover band, to the song “September,” then the scene fades from the montage  to Stan singing the chorus of the song and wondering how it got stuck in his head.

Tears of a Clooney

Is it wrong to like an episode purely because it acknowledges the passage of time? I ask because that’s primarily why this episode has stuck with me as a great half hour of television. The fact that Stan’s efforts to help Francine break George Clooney’s heart take place over the course of a year is a fine example of great storytelling, especially when too often in the realm of animated sitcoms, events have a tendency to happen conveniently fast. Since the writers decided to treat operation: Tears of a Clooney like it was happening  within the confines of the real world, showing just how much time,  planning, and manpower would be required to pull off a mission of such scale, everything seems that much more plausible thus increasing  the enjoyment factor of the proceedings.

The B-story is also exceptional in the fact that it too contains a fully realized narrative when it could have easily been marginalized to provide more breathing room for Francine’s quest for vengeance, again deviating from the norm in terms of animated television. Not to mention the fact that Roger’s attempts at using orphans as slave labor in his backyard vineyard and Haley’s brush with a terminal disease are the places where the writers find room to inject jokes into an otherwise serious episode.

Everything comes to a beautiful conclusion when the episode delivers its message about not dwelling on past missed chances and instead being thankful for that which you have. It’s also nice how the events are bookended by Francine’s birthday.

Stanny Slickers II: The Legend of Ollie’s Gold

It would be easy to say that this episode is on the list purely because of how good the Schoolhouse Rock parody is. While that is definitely the high point of the episode for me, the fact that it is surrounded by so much greatness, is the reason why when I want to hear about the great man that is Oliver North. I watch the entire episode instead of just going on YouTube. The episode is chock full of dark, funny, and smart jokes.  Beginning with little Matty on the scene of a horrific traffic accident, moving through the great visual joke of the EMT describing his date to a co-worker before asking about his Dad’s funeral, then there all the tropes about documentary filmmaking, “here’s looking at you gold,” a chilling look at a future without Stan, an invitation to breakfast with a geologist, and a fireman with a plan to get the gold for himself, once “these white folks go to bed.” “Stanny Slickers” is a fine example of American Dad correctly firing on all cylinders, with the added benefit of it being one of the few times Stan is overwhelmingly right in the face of his family’s doubts. 

The One That Got Away

Otherwise known as the one where Roger finally becomes accountable for the consequences of his actions. Maybe this episode means so much to me because I somehow missed watching it when it first aired and didn’t see it until my first rewatch of the series on Netflix back in 2011. Even if that is the case, this is one of those episodes that I keep coming back to when I need something to help me kill some time when I’m doing my laundry. The episode is such a departure from the norm of American Dad episodes, in that it primarily focuses on just one plot and that Roger is the main character rather than existing just to complicate things for another member of the family. The narrative is also handled amazingly well with the parallel telling of Roger’s involvement in ruining Sydney Huffman’s life in the first act and then the viewer getting to experience the same events from Sydney’s perspective in act two. 

Though only seen briefly the focus the rest of the episode is on the Smith family becoming addicted to “the four toned succubus” that is the game Simon and being saved by Klaus in a move that takes him somewhere unknown where he becomes King. 

Add into the mix John DiMaggio as a hit man who brings his kids to work, and uses passwords requiring letters and numbers. Plus one of sweetest and dumbest love interest characters ever to grace the small screen and you’re left you with one of the funniest and most touching episodes of American Dad.  

Don’t just take my word for it though here’s the last exchange between Roger (as Roger) and Judy 

Roger: You know, I don’t have any genitals?

Judy: That’s okay, I have both. 

See truly a moving story.

Escape from Pearl Bailey

Debbie! Yes, Steve’s on again off again, overweight, goth girlfriend of plot convenience is presented at her most developed in this episode. This is great considering how big a fan I am of Lizzie Caplan after her time on the failed CBS show, “The Class” and how well the episode treats a teenage relationship. The episode also presents a very good revenge story that feels inspired by Kill Bill and features Steve donning a Hopi Indian revenge mask as he subjects the tormentors of his girlfriend to Buffalo Diarrhea, Reverse Liposuction, and Herpes. Then it seamlessly  transitions into a parody of “The Warriors” where the  cracks created between Steve, Snot, Toshi, and Barry,  because of Steve’s relationship, are healed because the  friends are forced to work together, against the threat of mob violence. The homages just keep on coming with the ending being a direct retelling of the end of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” This episode is just so full of plot and here I was thinking it could be placed on the list for being the first and only time that Principal Brian Lewis’ daughter is acknowledged. 

An Incident at Owl Creek

Poop in the pool has been a staple of comedy ever since a baby Ruth was dropped into the country club swimming pool back in “Caddyshack.” The fact that this episode’s foundation is built upon such a heavily tapped well, and still is worthy enough to be in my top ten episodes of the show should be  indicative of how good a show American Dad is. The episode starts out with the well established “Stanism” of wanting to keep up appearances. Then it traffics in one of my favorite things about American Dad by bringing back Buckle, the mountain man from “An Apocalypse to Remember,” as a new neighbor throwing a pool party. Stan is so worried about his family embarrassing him that when he turns out to be the one that drops the ball, it’s a poetic scene. The way that Stan is then forced to run away from his problems because his pool dookie goes viral is made even funnier when we spend an extended sequence with a man who thought he recognized Stan at the Barber Shop. The man with a seemingly unhealthy relationship with his cat ultimately winds up dead, punctuated with the most chilling line from Stan in “You had to remember.”  From there Stan realizes he can’t run from his problems and decides that the only way to solve his conundrum is to force universally liked President Obama to also drop a deuce in a pool, thus making the act acceptable. The shift in plot to that of a heist movie  is handled remarkably well, and if you don’t shed a  tear when Klaus is shot by the secret service for  attempting to give Obama a diarrhetic pill then you  plain just don’t have a heart. The end reveal that the whole ordeal was an “extended dream sequence” is made perfectly acceptable when Stan listens to the advice of Dream Obama and still ends up pinching the fateful loaf, thus securing Barack Obama’s place on Stan’s list of people who’ve lied to him in his extended fantasy sequences. Overall, not a bad first showing for Barack on American Dad in the post Bush years.

100 A.D.

The ninety-seventh episode of the series is a great celebration of ONE HUNDRED episodes of American Dad. I’m sorry I had to mention that, but its part of what makes the episode that much more enjoyable. It somehow makes all of the satire about celebrating the 100th episode more gratifying and lends a deeper air of importance to the fact that they will be killing 100 characters over the course of the episode.  The actual story is the latest volume in the ever continuing Jeff/Haley romance and even though it could have coasted on the death counter or the celebration aspect of the episode they instead decided to tell a great story as well. It wasn’t until I rewatched all the episodes in 2011 that I realized just how big a part of the world of American Dad Jeff Fisher actually is, and the marriage between him and Haley just feels like the natural progression of that story. Of course Stan would disagree and when he offers up the money he intended to give Haley as reward money to anyone who can stop their pending nuptials the episode truly gets going, it enters into laugh out loud territory. Not only is the episode which features Jeff finally getting one over on Stan, but it feels like a reward for all the fans considering just how many one off characters they collected together from over the years to kill in the bus crash, that nets 97 of the deaths. One of those marked for Death is Bret, Stan’s satanic best friend from episode 45: “Dope and Faith.” Maybe it’s because my roommate and I had just watched the episode the night before on syndication (prompting me to believe the episode had somehow done it on purpose) but that moment was made even funnier when he explained who he was despite everyone in the room being acutely aware of his identity. Even if I hadn’t just watched it. I would have known who he was, so hopefully that was a feeling for most of the AD fan base and not just an isolated incident for me.

License to Till

Even though I’ve never seen it, I am almost eternally thankful for “She’s All that.” I know that the story of turning a person from rags to riches is as old as “Pygmalion,” but there are times when it feels like the Freddie Prince Jr. / Rachel Leigh Cook film indicated to creators that the age old story would  play for the modern audience. If all of that is true, then that is why we have this episode of American Dad.  Klaus betting Roger that he can’t make Steve popular is the origin of some of the funniest vignettes in the entire run of American Dad. Plus this episode not only introduces Reshma, who is one of the funniest one off characters the show has ever had “When these come in they’re all yours,” but also brings back another one off character, John Cho’s, Vince Chung, and gives him one of my personal favorite monologues when he tells Steve he thought they would be such great friends and that would result in Vince sharing his darkest secret with him. The moment is made even better by confirming the audience’s worst fears when it reveals that if we want to know his secret we just have to visit “www.VinceWasMolested.com.” The episode also features Stan misinterpreting Francine’s wish to be surprised, to mean scared and their escalating war to outdo one another starts simple with “Peabo Bryson on the Damn Stereo” and ends with the death of the midget assassin. Plus, you also have the most stereotypical representation of Judaism in Snot’s farmer Uncle Solomon, H. Jon Benjamin, as a talking cabbage, and the song “My Dick” by Mickey Avalon.

 

Lost in Space

As  I referenced in my explanation of “100 A.D,” had I not just finished  watching the entire series for a second time before  this episode aired I probably wouldn’t have been as excited about an episode that was all about Jeff as I  was. Luckily FOX decided to promote it as the 150th episode of American Dad, despite it being the 151st, so I’m sure that plenty of people ended up tuning in anyway. The best part about this episode is the fact that even if you had never watched an episode of American Dad before, you would probably find something about it entertaining. It’s just such a great episode in every possible way. Guest stars include Sean Hayes, Sinbad, Michael McKean, and Paget Brewster. The music is exceptional and includes the ever popular “The Majestic” in one of the best animated sequences the show has ever produced. The episode also features some great character development by giving an explanation for just how deeply Jeff actually loves Haley and also adds some more information about a young Roger.  However, what really elevates the episode for me is  not just how many original character designs they used  to represent the slaves onboard the spaceship, but  also how they worked hard to make sure that each  member of Roger’s species looked unique. It would have been easy for them to just present them all looking exactly like Roger, but the care put into making them all individuals was truly appreciated. Of course all of that wouldn’t mean much if the story wasn’t as great as it is. The creators of American Dad really outdid themselves with Lost in Space and the fact that they can still continue to improve on it is a huge reason why it is my favorite animated show on television.

It’s no secret, I did not see that many movies in 2012. I’m not sure why, it just seemed to happen that way. This year I realized that I truly do love movies and decided that I wanted to make sure that I saw a whole lot more in 2013. The result was seeing a total of Fifty-Six different new films in theatres and attending a total of Sixty-Nine screenings. What follows is my top ten films from those 56 unique films viewed in theatres. Agree? Disagree? Let me know how you feel about my choices.

Top Ten

10. About Time

9/26/2013 with William Fournier

11/5/2013 with Kevin Thibault

11/6/2013 with Dorothy “Mom” Decker

I had a bit of a struggle when it came to picking the tenth movie in my list. At the end of the day though it came down to the fact that I saw Richard Curtis’ film three different times in theatres  and was willing to see it at least two times more if scheduling had permitted.  While the premise is delightfully fantastical, “About Time” is really a story about making sure you make the most of every single moment you have on this earth. In reality, most of us don’t have the ability to go back have a do over when we mess something up, and seeing how Tim had to try certain events over and over again in order to make them perfect, was a fascinating way to tell the viewer that you have to make sure you live your life the way that you want to live it. If you want to have a piece of cake, then have the piece of cake. Want to strike up a conversation with a lovely looking young lady at the bar, then you might as well do it, because if you don’t then that opportunity will more than likely be lost to you for the rest of your days. In addition to tackling such a heavy philosophical message, the film also weaved a beautiful tale about family, and making sure you treasure your loved ones and not take the time you have together for granted. Plus it gave the world the ability to joke about how Rachel McAdams seems to exclusively be taking parts now where she is involved in relationships with time travelers, after doing this film on the heels of “Midnight in Paris” in 2011 (my top pick for the year) and “The Time Traveler’s Wife” in 2009. Personally I feel it is in an effort to keep the world from recognizing that she herself is in fact able to travel through time, but I don’t know if I should bother bringing that up. Since if it is true then she with use her chronologic abilities to prevent such a thing from ever being broadcast to the public.

9. 47 Ronin

12/28/2013 with Dayle Decker

I left the theatre after seeing “47 Ronin” turned to my sister and said “that movie will be on my top ten.” Don’t misunderstand, that isn’t the only reason why it’s on the list, it’s just being shared because it was such a good movie that I knew right away that it would be recognized by me for that fact. While a lot of people focused on the fact that Keanu Reeves was in the movie and how many jokes they could make about that fact, what they should have been doing is actually taking the time to watch this modernization of the ancient Japanese folk tale. The film makers were able to breathe new life into  well-trod territory while maintaining the sense of seriousness present in the original story.  Not only was the combination of fantasy and history well handled,  but the performances that were on display by all of the actors were truly top notch. Special acknowledgement should go to Rinko Kikuchi for her portrayal of the witch. She was so off the wall and crazy that every time she appeared on screen you were waiting with bated breath to see what insanity she was going to put on display. Seriously, don’t believe the hype on this film, go in with an open mind, and judge it for yourself. I think you’ll wind up pleasantly surprised.

8. Delivery Man

12/31/2013 with Dayle Decker

Going in I was expecting the kind of laugh out loud, easy comedy which the world has come to expect from Vince Vaughn. Don’t misunderstand, I was still quite excited to watch the film, I just didn’t expect it to be something that would stick with me. Luckily, I had underestimated this film and was treated to one of the most heartfelt and touching films from Hollywood in 2013. While it could be very easy to have made a 105 minute film about a man reacting to the absurdity of having over 500 biological children, they instead decided to approach it from all the available angles. Not every child was going to be a mini-Vince and thus prone to the same comedy pitfalls as him. In fact the majority of the children whose stories we hear are very difficult to handle as an audience member, let alone as the biological father of the person living with such issues. “Delivery Man” was a great film that brought a sense of realism to an otherwise absurd premise. It also delivered some truly memorable moments which I have found myself referencing many times since I viewed it. It also put Chris Pratt on my radar and made me that much more excited to see “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

7. The Spectacular Now

8/24/2013 with Kevin Thibault

“The Spectacular Now” was a film that I didn’t know a lot about going in, outside of the title. While, it would be easy to account for my love of this film on going in with no expectations, that would take away all the credit that is due to the actors for bringing such a hard story to life. In fact after seeing how well Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley handle such a heavy script with relative ease I can honestly say, that until they burn me, I will be going to see any film either one is attached to. Which yes, for those pundits in the crowd, does me I will be going to see “That Awkward Moment.”  Outside of the great acting, the film was so well made that I found myself deeply invested in the proceedings and as a result found myself hit that much harder by some of the moments presented in the film. I fully admit that I left the theatre with tears still in my eyes even after the credits had rolled. In fact this film was so good it was able to reinvigorate my love of going to the cinema, which briefly waned after a terrible experience at a theatre during the advance screening of “The World’s End.” If that’s not a testament to a film being worth seeing I’m not sure what is.

6. The Kings of Summer –

7/10/2013 with Dayle Decker & Dorothy “Mom” Decker

The award for film I traveled the furthest to see goes to the indie gem that is “The Kings of Summer.” Going in I knew nothing more than the fact that it was only offered in limited release and featured Nick Offerman and Moises Arias as actors. I’m glad that those three facts were enough to convince my mother and sister that driving ninety minutes from how to see a film was a good idea. “The Kings of Summer” is one of those rare movies that treats fictional teenagers like actual teenagers.  The anger and regret of these actors were put right out there on display, and in a medium where teenagers are often treated like children, the three young men in this feature showed that in spite of the age difference teenagers are really no different from adults. To top it off all of the actors gave fantastic performances and made this one of the most memorable films I saw in 2013. Not only that but the film was so good that I was fully willing to take a car load of friends to that same theatre to see it again a week later. Unfortunately, by that time it was no longer showing. Basically if you have had the chance to see “The Kings of Summer” yet (and let’s face it, you probably haven’t) I highly suggest you find yourself a copy and see a truly inspirational piece of independent cinema.

5. Fast & Furious 6

5/27/2013 with Dayle Decker

As much as I loved this installment of the beloved franchise, I find it hard to say that it was better than “Fast Five” and that is why like its predecessor it has landed solidly at the number five spot of my top ten.  Aside from finally convincing me that the events which took place in “Tokyo Drift” were actually canonical, this film did the impossible, and ramped up the action from the heist story of the last. People can nitpick and complain all they want about how long the runway was at the end of the movie, and can point out every little thing that were too absurd to happen in real life, but that isn’t why I go to the movies. Me, I go to the cinema to be entertained and “Fast & Furious 6” delivered in the entertainment department in spades. I am extremely excited for the next picture and again my give credit to a series that is six movies deep and still is able to create a sense of shock and awe every film and leave the viewer wanting more.

4. The Purge

6/7/2013 with Dayle Decker

I initially saw “The Purge” because I thought it had an interesting premise. By no accounts did I think I would leave the cinema feeling like I had just seen a great film. While it would be easy to think it may have something to do with my love for Ethan Hawke as an actor taking the foreground this year. I believe it has to do with the fact that film fully immersed me into the world it was creating. For 85 minutes I was transported to a world where every year for twelve hours all crime is legal, and after the film I wanted to continue the discussion about the further reaching effect such an event might have in the real world. Still I was disappointed when I heard that there was going to be a sequel to this film and I initially imagined it would wind up with a much lower ranking on my list. Luckily, while eating supper with some strangers recently the after dinner conversation turned to “The Purge” and it struck me that while a sequel in the same vein as the original would be terrible, if I instead focused on how other people spent the night without law and order and told more tales from a world where “The Purge” exists then there is a chance that my love for the original would only grow as we get to spend more time in the universe that was so beautifully constructed in the original. Plus that fact that I was able to engage in such a deep conversation about a film I had seen seven months prior, indicated to me that this film had earned the spot of fourth best film of 2013.

3. Escape Plan

11/26/2013 with Dayle Decker

As I was driving home from seeing “Escape Plan” I remember clearly saying that it was “a shame it won’t win any Oscars,” considering most people hated the film I could see that being a very polarizing comment. Still the performance given by Jim Caviezel, as the warden of the prison, was so clearly deserving of a nod from the Academy in the category of Best Supporting Actor that there was no other place on the list I could have ranked this underappreciated gem. A big part of my enjoyment of a feature is how deeply the actors are engrained in their characters. While Caviezel clearly gave the best performance and is the first reason I will cite when telling others to view “Escape Plan” kudos must also be given to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone for also committing so completely to their characters. Even as these two men embark on becoming septuagenarians it is clear to see why they were do representative of the action genre and that they should still not be counted out when it comes to making a great film.

2. Before Midnight

6/18/2013 with Dayle Decker

The joke has been made that I am the unofficial official president of the Before Trilogy Fan Club Which is unfortunately an accurate summation of my love for the series, which is pure video store employee gold. At least that is how I look at the now twenty year old experiment performed by director Richard Linklater and actors Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Perhaps that’s because I was only exposed to the series while working at Blockbuster when “Before Sunset” was released. Hearing it was a sequel, and with the luxury of free rentals, I naturally took home the store’s copy of “Before Sunrise” and instantly fell in love. I had no idea that “Before Midnight” was even a movie, until I saw it on the marquee when I went to see “Man of Steel.” That same night I tracked down DVD copies of both “Sunrise” and “Sunset” and proceeded to submit my sister and myself to watching the films in anticipation of seeing the new film that coming Tuesday. Our reward was seeing a film that perfectly reflected where these characters would be after so many years of being in love. A film ripe with dialogue and moments that I can call to mind at a moment’s notice and be brought to a place of pure joy or utter sadness. This film is truly a cinematic achievement and only misses out on the top spot for requiring the viewer to watch two other films to truly enjoy its magic.

1. Fruitvale Station

9/10/2013 with Dayle Decker

It is a rare film that causes a person to get so caught up in the narrative that they forget they are already aware of the ending. While I have heard many critics critique the fact that they heard other audience members wishing that Oscar Grant III wouldn’t be killed in the end of the film. I personally feel that the ability to create such a likable and engaging story where audience members are willfully hoping that a well known outcome will be changed in the end, is something that should be praised not chastised. It would have been very easy to go into a film like “Fruitvale Station” knowing the ending and letting that dictate the viewing experience. Yet, the product which the director was able to create is so engaging you let go of the facts and just allow yourself to enjoy. In addition to the script the film also had exceptional cinematography and acting which is why as soon as I left the theatre the only phrase I was able to use to describe it was “Fucking Exceptional.”

In having seen so many movies this year I decided that I had also collected enough evidence to name the five movies of the year that I kind of wish I had passed on. Without further ado here are the worst films I feel I saw in 2013

 

Bottom Five

5. Frozen

11/28/2013 with Dayle Decker & Dorothy “Mom” Decker

I have been looking forward to putting “Frozen” into my bottom five films of 2013 since I left the theatre. The reason is simple dear reader, I went in expecting to see a movie and instead was greeted with a musical. Granted this is the kind of thing one may come to expect from Disney, but in the past while the films have included songs those songs were used in an effort to enhance the story, not outright tell it. “Frozen” put all of the storytelling into the music, which is why I made my earlier statement, to make matters worse none of the non-singing scenes really did anything to enhance the characterization of the cast, leaving them feeling hollow and one dimensional. I was truly disappointed by “Frozen” and after rewatching “The Princess and The Frog” and “Tangled” over the past two weeks I definitely feel that the responsibility falls squarely on it falling short as a film.

4. This Is The End

6/11/2013 with Dayle Decker

I went to see this film for exactly zero dollars and I still feel like I was ripped off. I especially felt let down considering the film was filled with actors that I originally fell in love with in the failed Judd Apatow television series “Freaks and Geeks” and “Undeclared.” I think where the disconnect really began was the fact that the actors were supposed to be playing exaggerated versions of themselves, I think if instead they were portraying characters then it would have been easier to become invested in the story. The fact that the actors kept referring to one another by name took me out of the film each time. Combine an inability to lose yourself in the movie with a weak story and a poorly written script and you have a recipe for disaster, that couldn’t even be saved by the reunion of the Backstreet Boys in the final scene.

3. Evil Dead

4/6/2013 with Kevin Thibault

I love “The Evil Dead,” it’s one of those movies I remember having people over to the house on the weekend and watching over and over when I was in High School. It’s a piece of cinema that has had a huge impact on me as a lover of the art, but most importantly it has come to represent a pretty amazing time in my young life. I watched every film in the trilogy hundreds of times, I bought and read the comic books, and I even played the admittedly mediocre video games. Every year, we would hear rumours that a sequel was in the works and every year we would find that these rumours were false. Then this picture came along and we finally thought that the prophecy was going to be fulfilled. While it wasn’t the sequel we had all dreamed of “Evil Dead” as a remake still had me excited to revisit a world where the Necronomicon Ex Mortis is a real threat and demons would be waiting around every corner once the book bound in flesh was read, threatening to possess any foolish enough to do so. Unfortunately while I was hoping for an original take on the premise in the remake, we instead got a movie that for the first 80% was basically the exact same thing (with an added addiction plot point) and 20% a complete expectorating in the face of what they had already done. I admittedly was kind of alright with the film when it was just a crappy rehash of what had come before, yet when the script flipped and the formerly possessed sister became the heroine. I was left with such a sour taste in my mouth that this film lost all chance of being remembered fondly. While there is talk that this will be threaded into the original trilogy somehow. The downright terribleness of this film, have caused me to lose all interested in The Evil Dead series.

2. Enough Said

10/9/2013 with Dorothy “Mom” Decker

This movie was terrible… enough said. All joking aside, this was in fact a pretty awful example of entertainment. The script was contrived and unbelievable, there was nothing that interesting that happened within that stuck with me, and above all the best twist in the film was betrayed in the first few moments of the trailer. I was hoping that with such great leads a Julia Louis-Dreyfus and (RIP) James Gandolfini even knowing the central crux of the conflict going in wouldn’t keep it from being an uninteresting film to watch. What I was counting on was the film being so boring that I would instead find myself sitting in the theatre waiting for the big reveal and for the other shoe to drop. The worst offense was that they stuff the film so full of half delivered on side plots that the entire proceedings became ungainly to manage. Perhaps if the action had been more focused on the main plot this film would have been a bit more enjoyable. That or perhaps the director was so busy apeing Woody Allen’s style that it kept reminding me of his film and making me question why I hadn’t just watched “Annie Hall” again.

1. RIPD

7/29/2013 with Dayle Decker

That’s it after all that we have finally reached my least favorite movie for the year 2013. Is anybody really surprised? I hope not, since after seeing this abortion of modern cinema I was very vocal regarding my feelings about it. “RIPD” was such a mess of a movie, every single thing about the film felt half finished, whether it was plot points, recurring jokes, and even characterization. If it had been an original property, perhaps such transgressions would be easier to understand. Unfortunately, this film is based on a comic book, and having read that story I am at a complete loss as to how this is what they wound up with for the film. “RIPD” is a film that you should never… ever… ever  watch, seriously it is that bad. The single glimmer of light in this train wreck was Kevin Bacon, but even his appearance as a major player in the film wasn’t enough to gloss over all of the awfulness present within.

And there you have it my top ten and bottom five films of the year 2013. Just so you can see the other films that were eligible here is a list of all the films I saw in 2013.

1.            Identity Thief – Dayle

2.            A Good Day to Die Hard – Dayle

3.            The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

4.            Evil Dead – Kevin

5.            G.I. Joe Retaliation – Kevin

6.            Trance – Kevin

7.            42 – Mom, Dad, Dayle

8.            Pain & Gain  – Kevin

9.            Iron Man 3 – Dayle

10.          The Hangover III – Dayle

11.          Fast & Furious 6 – Dayle

12.          Run It

13.          Now You See Me – Kevin, Dayle

14.          The Purge – Dayle

15.          After Earth – Kevin

16.          The Internship – Dayle

17.          This is the End  – Dayle

18.          Man of Steel – Kevin

19.          Before Midnight – Dayle

20.          Monster’s University – Dayle

21.          My Little Pony: Equestria Girls  – Dayle

22.          The Heat – Mom, Dad, Dayle

23.          White House Down – Kevin / Geny, Mom, Dayle

24.          The Lone Ranger – Dayle

25.          The Kings of Summer – Mom, Dayle

26.          Pacific Rim – Kevin

27.          The Way Way Back – Michelle, Kevin / Dayle

28.          The Wolverine – Dayle

29.          RIPD – Dayle

30.          RED 2 – Dayle

31.          Turbo – Dayle

32.          Smurfs 2 – Dayle

33.          We’re The Millers – Dayle / Michelle

34.          Blue Jasmine – Dayle

35.          The World’s End – Dayle / Kevin

36.          The Spectacular Now – Kevin

37.          Kick-Ass 2 – Dayle

38.          Star Trek Into Darkness

39.          World War Z

40.          Fruitvale Station – Dayle

41.          In A World… – Dayle

42.          About Time – Will / Kevin / Mom

43.          Gravity – Dad / Dayle

44.          Enough Said – Mom

45.          Ass Backwards – Kevin

46.          Thor: The Dark World – Kevin

47.          Bad Grandpa – Kevin

48.          12 Years a Slave – Kevin

49.          Escape Plan – Dayle

50.          Frozen – Mom, Dayle

51.          Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 – Dayle

52.          Dallas Buyer’s Club – Kevin

53.          Philomena – Mom

54.          Nebraska – Kevin

55.          Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues – Dayle

56.          47 Ronin – Dayle

57.          Grudge Match – Dayle

58.          American Hustle – Kevin, Sejohn

Hey everybody,

Before returning to our regularly scheduled blog, I just wanted to take a moment to explain what happened with the Coffee Commissions. Turns out after not drinking coffee for most of my life I wasn’t really prepared for drinking a cup a day. I found myself not really being able to handle it and as a result for my own health and well being I decided to cancel the series.

Good News is that I completed all the pieces which were commissioned from me and I think I did some pretty good work.

Anyway tomorrow I will be posting my top ten films of 2013, including the full list of everything I saw in theatres over the year as well as te five movies I wish I had passed on.

After that I will be starting a new daily posting feature to cover the month of February.

Lots of things to look forward to, I hope you enjoy

                Since, I started this endeavor a dozen days ago, this has become one of my favorite parts of the day. After all of the hectic things between work, and shopping, and whatever else happens to stumble into my day. It is nice to take a drive to the Dunkin Donuts up the road, take the money that has been given from me from the cup I keep it in an order a coffee. I then sit down, begin to drink it, and take a few moments to ruminate on the subject which the commissioner has given me.

                Today’s is a real doozy of a humdinger, that made me instantly happy when I heard it, and that left feeling confused about how I would produce something based on it. See it was very simple what Lori G. asked me to do, she told me her personal goal is that by the end of the day she has had a positive effect on somebody else, then asked me to explore that idea. To be honest I thought that would be easy, especially when one considers that I try to live a happy life, and believe that one of the easiest ways to make yourself happy is to brighten the day of somebody else.

                Yet despite my own personal philosophy lining up with Lori’s, I was finding it difficult to think of something to write. Then just as my puzzler had begun to grow sore, it hit me. While I said that I completed my Christmas shopping last night, in truth there was one item I was unable to find, that I was able to use the internet to track down in North Kingstown. That meant that as much as I wanted to just go home enjoy a lovely meal of Chinese Food, and spend a quiet night at home with the family. I was instead going to have to disregard the warning of the man on the radio and brave humanity.

                On the surface this didn’t bother me. As a habitual last minute shopper, I am used to navigating crowds of people hoping to pick up that one last gift. In fact not to brag or be bold I have actually gotten quite good at weaving in and out of the throngs of humanity, getting the items I need, and picking the fastest moving checkout line. Tonight though, with the message of Lori fresh in my mind, my excursion was somehow different, tonight I noticed something about my fellow shoppers.

                That stunning revelation is that none of them were smiling, which one might think is usually the case, but let’s pause for a moment to consider the situation fully… It makes some sense for a person to be less than happy out shopping on some random Tuesday in August, the autumn is about to start, the summer months are behind us, its beginning to get darker earlier. There is a myriad of external forces working against your mood. This should not be the case two days before Christmas. If anything the spirit of the season should be so infectious that even though there are long lines, people everywhere, and you couldn’t get the shirt in the exact color you wanted, you still have a smile on your face because Christmas is a coming and the geese are getting fat. Still everyone I saw looked miserable, there existed no smiles, only frowns as the stress of the holiday season weighed down upon them.

                It was a bit sad, when you consider that Christmas is supposed to be a season of goodwill and cheer. A time when you are out in the world purchasing items to make your fellow man smile, and thus bolster your own mood as well, at least that it what I always thought it should. Yet as I look out on the world around me it feels as if Christmas has just become another obligation, like school or work. It is with this in mind that I decided what I would write tonight.

                It’s simple everybody, Christmas is the epitome of doing something for someone else to try and brighten their day. It’s where the phrase “it’s not what you get, it’s what you give,” comes from. Christmas is the one time where people are not only allowed to be kind and generous to one another but encouraged to be. If we could all take the time to remember that, and to smile while out in the world getting the perfect gift for that certain someone, maybe some of the malaise which seems to have recently become to associated with the Christmas season will begin to lift. Then if we’re really lucky people will recognize the joy that comes with acting that way, and it will begin to bleed into other facets of our lives and then it won’t just be mine or Lori Gardiner’s goal to try and better the life of someone each day, but everybody’s. Can you imagine a world where everybody was trying to good for everyone else, now that would truly be a gift worth giving!   

Wow, what a crazy weekend it has been. I do apologize for the lack of coffee commission, but I have been very busy over the last two days and this is the first time I was able to get to my computer to post. Not only that, but I wasn’t even able to pick up coffee ,even though I have two commission pending, and if I’m not drinking the sweet caffeinated beverage that America apparently runs on then it means I’m not writing.

Yesterday I wrapped on location filming for the film I mentioned a week ago. This whole thing is very close to being complete, only needing two more scenes filmed both of which don’t feature dialogue. It is truly exciting that despite all of the setbacks and delays we are so close to the finish line. “Northwood” is the name of this picture, and I’m sure I’ll be posting all sorts of information as soon as the film is done and submitted to the film festival.

In addition to filming yesterday, I spent the three hours before the shoot helping my Mother prepare for the annual Decker Family Solstice party. The best part about helping set up is that upon returning home I was able to reap the rewards of the food and beverage that was available to the guests. After the party, I went to a birthday celebration where I finally saw the entirety of “Christmas Vacation” and watched one of my favorite Christmas films (and holiday prerequisite viewing) “Die Hard” there was also a copious amount of alcohol imbibed by all in attendance and I didn’t return back home until (Big Apple) 3:00 AM, totaling twenty-one hours of solid consciousness.

Then today, I took part in what I thought was a well-known Devon Decker tradition, of shopping for all my Christmas gifts on the twenty-second of December. I’ve been doing it since 2005, but as my Sister wasn’t aware of it, I am beginning to wonder if it truly is an established fact that I wait until three days to Christmas to finally go shopping.

Before the shopping though I took care of the unfinished business that was making Dayle, watch “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy” and then going to the cinema to see my fifty-fifth unique film in the theatre “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.” Overall I thought it was a very good film, but I kind of wish the last twenty minutes had played out differently. Still I say go see it and judge for yourself. Especially since Steve Carell, who was undoubtedly the best part of the first film somehow turned his performance up to eleven and gets the prestige of being the MVP in the sequel as well.

After that I thought I might get a chance to sit down drink a cup and write a little something, but when a college friend is in town from Ohio and invites you to play some billiards, you say yes! I quickly joined my friends and played some great games of pool and had some laughs as we spoke of the past. We also firmed up plans for something special I hope will become the norm going into the New Year, but again more information when it becomes available.

There you have it readers, a succinct reason for the lack of new material this week. Since I do want to reward you for finding this page I will include a little something written long ago that I hope you will enjoy.  Even though I never sent this letter, it seems appropriate because I just recently made very public my love of the Canadian television show “Being Erica”

February 27th, 2011

Dear Jana Sinyor,

I am writing because I am a huge fan of your show “Being Erica.” Ever since I saw a promo for this one of a kind show on Soapnet I was intrigued. At the time the second season had already started and it seemed impossible for me to see the first season. As we tend to do in this modern age I turned to the internet and found that it had been released on DVD. I was ecstatic at my good fortune, but this feeling of ecstasy quickly waned as I realized it wasn’t available for sale in America. I planned a trip to a Fry’s Electronics in Toronto to pick myself up a copy, but was unable to fulfill these plans and I thought my desire to watch the show was might just remain as such. Then I did another thing that has become common place in the modern world, I went to Amazon, the American site, didn’t have it available for sale, but a quick visit to Amazon.ca, proved to be fruitful and I finally found a copy of the show that I would be able to purchase. When I received my purchase, I sat down and watched the entire series and loved every moment of it. The show I had only invented expectations for ended up not only living up to them, but exceeding them. Initially I had only been interested in the show because of the concept, a woman traveling into her past in order to better her future. After watching the first season I realized that it was so much more than that. Not only was the time travel much more than I had imagined, the characters were realistic, the writing was superb, and the comedy was a pleasant and unexpected surprise. In fact the moment I always reflect to my friends about the first season is when Erica performed “Hit Me Baby One More Time” in the fourth episode, it was a beautiful and hilarious moment, which was only perfected by Erica’s rationalization of why it wouldn’t be a problem to Dr. Tom. After finishing the first season, I was excited to watch the second season on Soapnet. When I tuned to the channel for an episode I was surprised to see that it was episode 9 of the first season “Everything She Wants.” Being as it is one of my favorite episodes of the first season, I decided to watch it again, and am I glad I did. On that day I realized that despite appearing on a cable network, in order to protect our fragile American sensibilities they edit the crap out of the American broadcasts of the show. I decided despite wanting to spend more time with the characters who had so endeared themselves to me as soon as possible, and finally having the mystery of Dr. Naadiah solved. I would reserve myself to waiting for the release of the Second season on DVD. I finally got the second season in November and devoured it. I was especially impressed by how Erica’s relationship with Ethan played out. Unlike most shows, where the romance that you’ve been waiting an entire season for finally happens, their relationship didn’t stop the show from growing, in fact I don’t think the second season would have been half as good as it was if you hadn’t finally taken a realistic approach to their relationship. The fact that they wound up breaking up in the end was not only a believable choice in the realm of the show, but also something I was completely surprised by. Most media today thinks that a love story is necessary for any project, and to have these two characters that everybody was rooting to get together in the first season, end their relationship with one another completely by the end of the second, was compelling television. I wasn’t only surprised by that, but also by how the subject of Dr. Tom was dealt with. In a show called Being Erica, I was nervous that the past of her physician would be dealt with in one self-contained episode, especially when the first episode of the season was called “Being Dr. Tom.” Instead that episode only created more questions about our favorite therapist, that would only be partially answered, and even then in small bits throughout the rest of the season, still leaving further answers to be found in future seasons. I now wait eagerly for the DVD release of the third season. While I have found and watched it already on the internet, I do apologize, but I couldn’t contain my curiosity at what might happen after the amazing closing of the second season, and then finding out there was already a completed third season available to watch. Also huge kudos are due for the ninth episode of season three, talk about a game changer, and all of that happened before the theme song, caught me completely by surprise and yet didn’t feel forced or out of place.  Still when the DVD is released, I imagine sometime in September, I will log onto Amazon.ca that day, wherever I may be (I ordered season two, while having lunch in St. Maarten) and order myself a copy. I will then hunker down and watch through all three seasons again, because my enjoyment of this show is just that strong. Now enough doting and onto the real reason why I am writing you, a request: Yesterday I stumbled across the dual news that Being Erica has been renewed for a fourth season in Canada, and also that the fourth season will be the last. In addition to this I also read your statement that the fourth season will answer all of the questions that have been left unanswered. I was super excited and a little saddened to hear that the fourth will be the last season, but in addition to these feelings I was also inspired. I don’t and won’t pretend to know how casting or finding extras works for television shows, but I wanted to write you and see if there is any way that I can appear in the fourth season of Being Erica. I don’t want to be a main character, I don’t want to say something on camera, all I want is to be visible enough in background action that one day when I’m watching the final season of Being Erica on DVD with friends I could pause and say and there I am, that’s me ordering a coffee in the background of one of my favorite television shows. I figured there its free to make a request and that there’s no harm in asking, and if you’ll forgive the cliché, I think I would regret it if I didn’t take the time to write you this letter. I appreciate your time and wish you and your team all of the luck in the world with the fourth season. I would also like to thank you for creating such groundbreaking television. I am a creative minded person, and seeing that something so quirky and fun and so unlike the norms of conventional television not only made it to the airwaves but continues to be successful, inspires me to actual follow some of my own goals in life and gives me hope that audiences might also be receptive to my own work. Thank you again and I hope to hear from you soon.

Sincerely,

Devon D. Decker

                Now is the time when I write the commission for my Father. His request was very simple do something in regards to his favorite thing about Christmas the “Little Drummer Boy!” Now admittedly I don’t think I have ever really listened to the song or watched the old Rankin Bass TV special, so in order to do today’s commission I had to do some actual research. To my surprise aside from all the religious malarkey, I think this is probably one of the best songs to represent not only the season of Christmas but the entire holiday season.

                Let’s start with the beginning, you have this unnamed group of people, probably the Three Wisemen: Melchior, Balthazar, and Gaspar, coming up to this kid on the street with a drum. They tell him that they are on their way to visit a new born king and invite him along for the journey.  Aside from the lazy lyricism of “A newborn king to see… / Our finest gifts we bring… / To set before the king…,” (though I suppose the lyrics deserve a pass because the song is primarily “Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum” repeated ad nauseum) the first verse speaks universally to that feeling of having to go from place to place even though you don’t really want to. The Little Drummer Boy doesn’t know who these guys are, he has no reason to journey with them to meet a baby monarch, and yet out of a sick sense of obligation he accompanies them on their journey, knowing that perhaps he will have a terrible time but hey at least it gets him out of the house.

                By the time we get to the second verse we have the titular character of the song, faced with meeting who we all know as Jesus Christ.  Yet the Little Drummer Boy does not treat him any differently due to the status he has been told he holds by his traveling companions. In fact gazing upon the child born in a manger surrounded by animals and their waste, he decides to focus on that which he and the Baby Jesus have in common. He confesses that like the child he too is poor, and as a result unlikts ti e the three kings he is traveling with he does not bring precious metals, elegant fragrances, and fancy spices. In fact he brings nothing with which to honor the child besides his presence. While most people look at this whole exchange as a negative since he isn’t giving anything, I like the Drummer Boy, choose to focus on the positive, which is sort of a theme of the entire Christmas season. The rest of the year we as a society choose to focus on the differences that exist between one another, but during the holidays we choose instead to focus on what links us together as a species. We acknowledge that all we really want is to be loved and shown that other people care about us. The issue is that we unfortunately views material objects as the only way to show this affection, when really a wind word and phrase should be enough, or as the drummer boy does by displaying a learned skill for him.

                The final verse, is where the sing starts to go pear shaped. The child who is at the most twelve days old nods in agreement that he would like the drummer boy to play for him. Then the Ox and Lamb keep time for him, which is strange because the whole point of a drum is to keep time, so why he would need two animals to keep time for him. Plus how is it that these animals are keeping time, are they mooing and bleating, wouldn’t that detract from the act of the boy drumming? From there the boy *SPOILERS* plays his drum *END SPOILERS,* which one could probably assume considering the title. The boy admits that he give it his all in performing for this child and as a response the baby then smiles at him and his drum. I really focus on the opening of this verse, and how it echoes that statement from Marge in this week’s episode of “The Simpsons” that after the first verse Christmas songs star to get weird. There is one thing that I truly enjoy, and that is the fact that the Little Drummer Boy admits to giving his best in his performance, because at the end of the day that is all we should really be expected to do during the holidays. Give our best to those we have to interact with and hope that in the end they can smile with us.

                The beauty of this song is truly in its longevity. I fully believe that it may be due to the fact that there is a conspiracy propagated by old men from Texas, since both my Father and Hank Hill claim that the Little Drummer Boy is their favorite parts about Christmas. Even outside of that, is the simple fact that the idea of a person drumming is such a great thing that it is the ultimate gift given in the “Twelve Days of Christmas.”  That is why I feel  that if you haven’t taken the time to experience the Little Drummer Boy then I think Christmas 2013 is a perfect place to start.

     I learned something very very important today. Alcohol should only be used as a crutch when dealing with something emotionally or physically traumatic OR as a victory beverage for a job well done.

     Unfortunately I learned this because I got a regular old hot chocolate today and when I got home I Irished it up with some Bailey’s. It was delicious, but after that all of my ambition to accomplish something vanished and I spend the rest of the evening eating tacos, watching bad sitcoms, and playing Pokémon.

      Fortunately I was the one who paid for my hot chocolate today, since I foolishly left the commission money I received today at home when I went out Christmas and food shopping. This means that I don’t owe a true commission to anybody, and that I can use this as an opportunity to preach on the proper time to imbibe alcohol.

     Now let’s review.

Dealing with the lose of a limb?

 – Have a drink

Coping with the loss of the girl you loved?

 – Have a drink or two (or four)

Won the championship Hockey Game?

 – Drink, Drink, and Drink some more

Have to write a significant Blog Post?

 – Don’t even think of a drink

    Well there you have it until next time I’m Devon Decker, telling you to drink often and responsibly… GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK