Peter Tolan

Peter Tolan

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Rescue Me: Season Three Review


Grim
In the first couple of seasons, Denis Leary's FDNY fire opera Rescue Me flung itself through windows and played out in traffic. It busted jaws, opened old wounds just for spite and made grand sport of the whole ungodly train wreck of it all. It was almost as though co-creators Leary and Peter Tolan (The Larry Sanders Show) felt they were going to get canceled any second and so chucked all caution to the wind. In between sitting around the firehouse and indulging in some of the more profane dialogue ever to grace the TV screen (even on basic cable), the characters were subjected to just about any disaster Leary and Tolan could come up with, anything to push these emotionally stunted mugs to the wall and see what devastation they would mete out in response.

But somehow, the pissy little export from the land of the five boroughs -- and rarely has a show so viscerally captured the city's day-to-day, boiling-over, rat-in-a-cage anger -- survived. And this is after sending the wife of the Chief (Jack McGee) into a debilitating Alzheimer's nightmare and not only devastating Tommy Gavin's (Leary) family with the long-term and low-intensity emotional warfare of a never-ending divorce but then, near the end of the second season, having a drunk driver kill Tommy's little boy. That tragedy was then capped off by a nothing-to-lose Uncle Teddy (Lenny Clarke) gunning down the driver in full view of the cops, since a life behind bars seemed preferable to anything else he had going.

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The Larry Sanders Show: Not Just the Best of... Review


Extraordinary
It's a cliche now to complain that HBO has the best original programming on television, but never has that been more true than in the case of The Larry Sanders Show, which ran for six seasons from 1992 to 1998 and was nominated for (and won) countless Emmys and every other award under the sun.

The show is pure genius and pure simplicity: Larry Sanders (Garry Shandling) is a late night talk show host on an unspecified network in the post-Carson era. Each week we were treated to the behind-the-scenes antics that go on before such a show can get on the air five nights a week: At its slapstick simplest we have Carol Burnett fleeing spiders by climbing on Larry's back. At its smarmy sickest, we have Larry's agent (Bob Odenkirk) selling him down the river so he can move on to greener pastures: Namely one Jon Stewart, a guest host for the show who became a running theme in later years as a cheap, network-approved replacement for the skewing-too-old Larry.

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Rescue Me: Season Two Review


OK
Roughly midway through the second season of FX's Rescue Me, New York firefighter Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary) is called by his dead cousin's widow to give a lecture to her teenaged son, who has just expressed an interest in becoming a firefighter; having lost her husband in the World Trade Center, she's not interested in having another smoke-eater in the family. Tommy is most of the way through his lecture, giving the kid the full business about the horrific side of the job, people found without faces or melted to their beds, but then he turns it around and starts in on how at the end of the day, he knows that no matter what, he made a difference. It all brings a smile to the face of his cousin, standing behind his son. You see, Tommy's cousin might have passed away, but being dead doesn't keep you from the cast of Rescue Me -- it just means you're not necessarily in every episode.

The first season of the show was a rollicking explosion of male-bonding, sadistic humor, and whiskey tears spiked with that FX Channel-brand of almost-HBO boundary-pushing. Gavin was a weekly train wreck of rage, bouncing from his mistress to booze to his failing marriage to booze to tempting death on the job with FDNY Engine 62 to booze again. Along the way, Tommy also held long and in-depth conversations with the ghost of his dead cousin, before deciding to shack up with and impregnate his cousin's equally messed up widow, Sheila (Callie Thorne) in the aftermath of his wife running off with the kids. Season Two opens with everything in disrepair, to say the least, as the firefighters keep pushing through the emotional wreckage of 9/11 long after the country has moved on.

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What Planet Are You From? Review


Grim
It's always a shame to see great comedic minds fall so far from the mark. Garry Shandling is a funny man. Just check out any episode of The Larry Sanders Show. He has a wonderfully dry wit and is downright hilarious without drawing overt attention to himself. I just want to know what the hell happened to What Planet are You From?

Simple story line: Alien must come to Earth and impregnate female human being to establish future dominance of his planet's race. Comedic premise: Alien must learn how to communicate to female human beings. Comedy rolls on: Alien encounters and makes ass of himself to female human beings. Comedy continues: Alien tracked by rogue FAA agent. Comedy continues even more: Alien meets female human and falls in love. Cue drama. That's about it.

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Stealing Harvard Review


Terrible
Toward the end of Stealing Harvard, Tom Green's character goes to great lengths trying to break a Plexiglas window from inside the store he is trying to rob. It took the entire movie, but I could finally identify with his character. It wasn't because I have a tendency for thievery, instead I found it my only chance to escape the entrapment of this dismal movie - naturally he can't get the window to bust.

Stealing Harvard centers on the sensible, hardworking John (Jason Lee) who made a promise long ago that he would pay for his niece Noreen's (Tammy Blanchard) college education. At the time, John thought Noreen would never amount to much, considering she is the daughter of his trailer trash sister Patty (Megan Mullally, in the film's best, but neglected, role). Much to John's chagrin, Noreen gets accepted to Harvard and now he must make good on his word to pay for her first year of schooling. John already has the cash he needs, but he has promised this money to his fiancée Elaine (Leslie Mann) for use as a down payment on their dream home. Sounds like John is making too many promises.

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Analyze That Review


Grim
Analyze This was a very successful 1999 comedy starring Robert De Niro as a mob boss on the verge of a nervous breakdown and Billy Crystal as his unwilling shrink. The movie pulled off a few laughs, most notably by demonstrating De Niro's ability to turn his tough-guy movie persona on its head. Analyze That is a superfluous sequel representing little more than an opportunity to cash in on that prior success.

The new movie picks up with legendary Mob boss Paul Vitti (De Niro) nearing the end of his term in Sing Sing and Dr. Ben Sobol (Billy Crystal) dealing with the recent death of his legendary father. After a series of attempts on his life, Vitti puts on a semi-catatonic act to avoid the general prison population and save his own life. The FBI, baffled by this turn of events, brings in Sobol, his former psychiatrist, to consult on the case, ultimately releasing Vitti into Sobol's custody. Thus, the reluctant doctor is forced to once again try to mend Vitti's fractured psyche, in addition to housing him and finding him an honest job. Needless to say, this wreaks havoc with the poor doctor's already troubled personal life.

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America's Sweethearts Review


Grim
Would you believe -- in real life, I mean -- that if you were Julia Roberts, that you'd be the ugly underdog to your sister, the creepy Catherine Zeta-Jones?

Let me tell you what reality is. Reality is that you are megastar Julia Fricking Roberts and your brother is Eric Roberts, and he picks up whatever crumbs of stardom fall off your coattails as you blaze across the sky in a golden chariot.

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Just Like Heaven Review


OK
Ah death - so hilarious. If not for the neo-glow cinematography and jangly pop soundtrack, one could almost mistake Just Like Heaven as a potentially morbid downer. The story starts with a car crash, follows with an impromptu haunting, and then introduces a sad sack crippled by his depression. Are we laughing yet?

Heaven actually softens the blow by refining its cute idea about two souls needing a connection. One of them just happens to be a widow and the other a ghost. The former, David Abbott (Mark Ruffalo), lost his wife and hasn't been able to recover from the shock. The latter, Elizabeth Martinson (Reese Witherspoon), was a workaholic doctor who was the victim in the aforementioned car accident. When he moves in to her newly available San Francisco flat, David discovers Elizabeth's restless spirit around every corner, and the two set out to learn why her soul is trapped in limbo.

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Bedazzled (2000) Review


Grim
There truly is nothing quite like a Brendan Fraser movie, is there? Encino Man, Dudley Do-Right, Mrs. Winterbourne... these are the films that a generation uses to mark the passage of time.

It's nigh time we added another sparkling gem to the 30-picture oeuvre that is The Brendan Fraser Experience... and that gem is Bedazzled, a limp remake of a 1967 Dudley Moore vehicle -- a Dudley Moore vehicle which was also co-written by Dudley Moore. Just so you know we're working with some stellar raw material here.

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Analyze This Review


Extraordinary
Abbott and Costello. Matthau and Lemmon. Crystal and De Niro? It sound odd but Billy Crystal and Robert De Niro play perfectly with each other in Analyze This. The story revolves around psychiatrist Ben Sobol (Crystal) who runs a small place with a small client list. One day, one of New York's biggest mobsters (De Niro) has a panic attack and strolls into Sobol's office. You can imagine where it goes from here.

Analyze This is comedy at it's best. I like how Crystal (the comedian) plays the straight man, and De Niro (the dramatic actor) plays the funny man. We explore De Niro's various problems such as crying when seeing heartwarming AT&T commercials. Lisa Kudrow and the fantastic Joe Viterelli are thrown in for supporting laughs. Kudos to De Niro for doing comedy, he's a talent that rivals some of today's comics. Classic scenes and hillarious lines make this one of the year's best movies. Go see this one with the family.

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Guess Who Review


Good
Simon Green (Ashton Kutcher), an anxious, young businessman, is about to journey with his girlfriend, Theresa (Zoe Saldana), to meet her parents for the first time. They also intend to announce their recent engagement, so it's going to be a very eventful trip. But there's one small problem. She's black. He's white. And she hasn't told her parents yet.

Theresa's father, Percy (Bernie Mac), another businessman, has completed underground investigation on Simon, and he likes what he's found. Percy admires Simon for holding a position at a prestigious business; though, Percy doesn't know (and neither does Theresa, for that matter) that Simon just quit this job. Percy and his wife, Marilyn (Judith Scott), live a traditional, affluent life, and are looking forward to meeting the lucky guy who's dating their beautiful daughter, but they're in for quite the surprise.

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