Superstore: Rebranding – Iceman (Review)

 Superstore - Season 2

Things were on a somewhat lighter note after Amy’s confession to Glenn that her home life was dire with Adam living in the basement in the previous episode. However, the overall plot point in Superstore this week moved Jonah one step closer to being on even footing with Amy.

“Rebranding” allowed for some brilliant comic moments and poked even more fun at Jonah, aka Iceman, via the reunion with an old classmate.

Cloud 9 are going through a retail facelift of sorts and changing their image and logo. The Halo is out the door, as is the old murderous and cannibalistic mascot, and all the old products with the halo logo have been massively discounted.

(A great bit of comedy starts at the very beginning when corporate spokesman Jeff reveals the store’s new mascot; a blonde, very white bread female. Cheyenne points out that with the new logo of Super Cloud they could have had a super hero – with a cape – as the mascot who would help customers reap “super” savings. Jeff’s reaction was priceless.)

Jeff brings the Rex the Vice President of Cloud 9 to the store and he is an old classmate of Jonah’s. He calls Jonah Iceman and then shows some video footage of a presentation that Iceman did in college.

Meanwhile, Jeff gets a tad rough with Dina because of the stress of the rebrand. She reacts by picking on a member of staff. Later, after Jeff learns from Mateo that she called him an asshat, the corporate staffer tells her off. Dina’s rage meter reaches Hulk-like proportions and she punches the white bread mascot poster in the face.

Mateo is terrified that Dina will find out so he tells the assistant manager that Sandra ratted her out. He qualifies his accusation by telling Dina that Sandra and Jeff are having an affair. Mateo suggests freezing Sandra out but Dina cannot remain silent and accosts Sandra in the break room.

Sandra confesses and begins spinning a long yarn of all the naughty things that she and Jeff have gotten up to. Mateo is dumbstruck, initially and later gets angry about the whole thing. Dina goes from being angry at Sandra to somewhat, begrudgingly, impressed.

The Cloud 9 VP  (Played brilliantly by Ravi Patel) reminds Jonah that he can still come back and finish his degree. Amy and Garrett poke fun at Jonah and suggest he leave while Glenn tries to get him to stay.

Jonah and Amy get into an argument about how their situations are the same. Jonah maintains that they are in the same boat.  She argues that Jonah can get out anytime he likes. To prove that they are both in the same place he calls the college to cancel his deferment.

He learns that it actually ran out a month previously. Panicking he tries to get it reinstated. Jonah then  tells Amy he was bluffing, he never really meant to cancel it, but now has no choice to return. Jonah is now trapped just like Amy is. Glenn is, needless to say, overjoyed.

Amy and Jonah sit together outside Cloud 9 cold drinking coffee at the end of the episode. Glenn cannot contain his glee and the VP who started it all mentions the deferment and that he and Iceman will have drinks the next time he is in town.

Superstore “Rebranding” gave some of the “other” players a chance to shine. Cheyenne’s jealous hoarding of baby sales items, which were all taken back by another Cloud 9 employee was brilliantly spot on. Just as when she goes to look in the “back” for more sales items for a late customer.

After all her stress and self induced heartache over losing out on the sales items, she finds a warehouse stacked to the ceiling with sales items. Hysterically she returns and triumphantly tells the customer that no, there is nothing left in the back.

Kaliko Kauahi rocks it as Sandra, milking the comedy with delivering outlandish stories of Jeff’s debauchery and her willing responses. “He told me to take out my taters…and I did.” Her storyline was brilliantly funny as was her proving the lie true by touching Jeff’s nose.

“Rebranding” was penned by Superstore creator Justin Spitzer and he proved that there is still plenty of comedy magic in that instrument. It seems fair to say that each episode manages to outdo the one before. This was a sidesplitting installment full stop.

Superstore airs Thursdays on NBC and is one of the best comedy shows the network has to offer.

Cast:

Grandfathered: John Stamos Comes Back (Review)

In a time where “50 is the new 40” it seems fitting that two comedies on FOX both star “middle-aged” actors. The Grinder – Rob Lowe and Grandfathered which allows John Stamos to come back to prime time television, a’la Full House and ER.

GrandFathered-PerfectPhysicalSpeciman_scene6_0283_hires1

In a time where “50 is the new 40” it seems fitting that two comedies on FOX both star “middle-aged” actors. The GrinderRob Lowe and Grandfathered which allows John Stamos to come back to prime time television, a’la Full House and ER.  (It could also be seen as an run up to Fuller House.) Stamos stars as restauranteur Johnny Martino who gets the double whammy of learning that he is a dad and a grandfather all in one fell swoop.

The cast includes Paget Brewster, Josh Peck, Christina Milan, Kelly Jenrette and Ravi Patel and similar to The Grinder comedy series does not rely upon a laugh track or live studio audience. Instead it utilizes great writing, characterization and capable actors to amuse the audience.

GrandFathered-PerfectPhysicalSpeciman_scene15_0305_hires1
Kelly Jenrette and Ravi Patel

Stamos’ character is a simple man focussed on his wishes. Now that he has a “family” Martino is trying to get involved, as much as he can.  His former girlfriend, and mother to his son Gerald, and grandmother to Gerald’s baby girl Edie, Sara Kingsley is attempting to  help Johnny make the transition from career singleton to caring grandfather.

The mid-season return, Perfect Physical Specimen, has Martino being tricked into getting his first physical in over 20 years, Edie gets “ear surgery” and Johnny freaks out over the possibility of having skin cancer.

Grandfathered, created by Daniel Chun, is a great little ensemble piece that amuses.  While the show is not, thus far, capable of inducing huge belly laughs, it does allow Stamos to shine. The entire cast actually perform very well, each one bringing something to the comic table.

In episode 110, even the “non-actor” guest star (Dr Phil McGraw, aka Dr. Phil) manages to get a few chuckles as the exasperated and humorless physician picked to give Martino his examination.  McGraw generally plays himself in other shows and this “role” is his first time playing another character.

GrandFathered-PerfectPhysicalSpeciman_scene6_0244_hires1
Dr Phil McGraw and John Stamos

This well crafted comedy does not require deep thinking from its audience and there is no need to binge watch from the first episode to “get it.” The characters are painted well enough, with the writing and the acting, for all the cast to become immediately identifiable as certain types. Not quite stereotypes, but close enough that the audience can establish who each person is by their actions.

Josh Peck is Gerald, Martino’s son, who is with Vanessa. The two parents of Edie, Johnny’s granddaughter,  are cute together and a good fit.   The latest episode has the two singing positive songs of encouragement to their daughter before her ear surgery to quell their own fears.

Johnny, who is freaked out by what he has learned on the Internet about skin cancer, takes Edie to save her from the doctor and there is a subplot where Annelise and Ravi struggle to open a newly discovered safe in Martino’s office.

Grandfathered is not a comedic formula which fits any particular sub-genre. There is no reliance upon slapstick or over the top comic hijinks.  Instead, there is a focus upon certain “topical” jokes, such as the “Keeners” group (a few “strong willed’ female fans of the actress Catherine Keener) who refuse to leave when the restaurant closes.

Stamos has been busy, he did a tiny cameo as Jean Hamm in the second season premiere of the ABC musical series Galavant and he has Fuller House and My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 coming up.

GrandFathered-PerfectPhysicalSpeciman_scene9_0433_hires1
Christina Milan as Vanessa

For those who do not want to wait for these upcoming productions, tune in to FOX Tuesdays for Grandfathered. Entertaining, amusing and not too deep.

 

 

Meet the Patels: Dating, Tradition and Comedy (Review)

One of the best things about being a “film critic” is discovering films that are so outside the “box” that it may as well not exist. Meet the Patels fits that description perfectly.

Ravi and Geeta Patel

One of the best things about being a “film critic” is discovering films that are so outside the “box” that it may as well not exist. Meet the Patels fits that description perfectly. A documentary, which the official site says started as a “home movie” that follows Ravi Patel’s search for the perfect mate. The film, directed by Ravi and his sister Geeta, is all about tradition, dating, creating new traditions and is chock full of comedic moments.

This brother/sister team look at the question of traditional and cultural problems with dating outside ones ethnicity in a different country.  Soon-to-be 30, Ravi begins to panic that he has not found his “someone.” Dating  a white girl for two years, something he kept a secret from “the parents” Ravi breaks off the relationship to search for a first generation Indian/American.

Meet the Patels documents Ravi’s search for a lifelong companion and the telling is done with an abundance of comedy and revelations. As Ravi says in the film:

You know that girl in Eat, Pray, Love? She goes through a break up, goes on the existential journey to India to get over depression, find out what she really wanted in life? 

I was that girl. Except, my family was with me the entire time.

 

Meet the Patels allows the viewer to be there as well to see Ravi’s journey to find his perfect partner.  While sister Geeta, as cinematographer, spends the vast majority of the film behind the lens and not in front of it she is also a presence throughout the film. Also making appearances is Ravi’s secret girlfriend Audrey Wauchope who is seen through older video footage and later turns up as a  more current part of the documentary.  

f07310_147a8a1c70b74c4fbcf2b747c4c3a9e9
Ravi with his father and the map…

The message of the film, delivered via warm, and hysterically funny, moments that will make the viewer helpless with laughter, is that new traditions are born of necessity and that geographical locations may be an important factor in cultural adherence but is not  a “deal breaker.”  Perhaps the most important thing learned from this sibling production about love and family is that “the parents”  will love whoever the two pick because:

“Your happiness is our happiness.”

Meet the Patels reveals what it means to be a Patel and that humor, and love,  can indeed overcome all obstacles. This movie, which does feel more like a home movie than a “serious” documentary will make the viewer fall in love with the entire Patel clan.

As a long time fan of all things Bollywood, this reviewer found the footage dealing with the marriage ceremonies delightfully epic and funny. The costumed pageantry of the celebrants and the music are evocative of films watched in England on Sunday afternoons where the women are all beautiful and everyone breaks into song and dance irrespective of the film’s genre.

Ravi is an American actor, his credits include Grandfathered, Past Life and Super Fun Night, amongst others and his ease in front of the camera helps make his story of searching for  matrimonial bliss entertaining and funny. His sister Geeta is a  “Jill of all trades” in the industry having worked as director, producer and writer on various projects. Meet the Patels is her third major project as director and second feature length documentary.

This brother/sister team, who welcome the world into their family’s traditions, heritage and culture have made a film that is a real treat. Meet the Patels is easily the funniest “feel good film” on offer in 2015.  The goodnatured humor begins with the very first frames of “real” footage (although the animated portion of the introductory scenes are amusing) where Ravi pokes fun at his sister’s camera operating skills.

What helps is that the entire extended Patel family are a splendid combination of endearing, funny and genuine.  This is the documentary, that began life as a “vacation video” to be watched by anyone who has relationship issues (or not) and needs  cheering up.

Meet the Patels (the documentary) is the most fun you will have watching a film this year.  This film is a wonderful mixture of animated hilarity mixed with a family who exude good humor and brilliant comedic timing. Miss this and miss the best comedy movie of the year.