If You Labor on Labor Day, They'll Put You in Jail

*I'm sure you all understand.

*Hey, it's an old (NOT SAFE FOR WORK) Jacen Burrows story, The Cimmerian, written by Tom Sniegoski and originally presented in the Avatar anthology series Threshold. Plot: a pretty girl with weapons fights ugly monsters in a violent manner, and there is also nudity. The serial was never finished; Burrows bounced around on some other Avatar stories and books before settling in with Warren Ellis on another Threshold project, Dark Blue, and thereafter steadily picking up higher profile projects. Now he's readying The Chronicles of Wormwood with Garth Ennis, after which he'll be on to Alan Moore's untitled mystery project at Avatar. I like Burrows' visuals a lot, and it's great to see some of his earlier stuff released online.

*Micro Review Dept: In an unexpected twist, I got to see a movie today. Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby. It was successful, in that I laughed enough that I didn’t feel ripped off at the $5.50 matinee rate. Some really fun performances, especially from Gary Cole and John C. Reilly (who needs to keep doing these silly roles to remind me how excellent a comedic talent he is - say what you will about Magnolia, but Reilly slew me in every one of his scenes). But then, if I'm going to evaluate it on sheer laugh quality/quantity, I'll have to admit it pales in comparison to director Adam McKay’s and star Will Ferrell’s 2004 Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. One crutch: there's a lot of fun little bits from random cast members, but no single recurring supporting player in the Steve Carell mold who scores big laughs so often that by the end of the movie you're giggling as soon as he shows up on screen. A lot more underplaying here (at least in comparison), and a larger cast.

I think a real problem with the movie is that it tries a bit too hard to be more of a rounded, ‘story’ type of comedy, complete with the same old boring epiphanies about family and friendship that seem to get shoehorned into half these movies, David Spade vehicles and the like, while Anchorman was far more an anarchic, comedy-for-comedy’s-sake picture, any ‘message’ played down as low as possible. Talladega Nights tries for this sort of tone at times (Amy Adams has a good over-the-top 'inspiring' speech at one point as the Obligatory Love Interest, though she seriously has nothing else to do), but there’s a few too many heaping spoonfuls of heartland corn being served up to not occasionally grind the laughs to a halt, and this movie’s crew frankly isn’t any better with the semi-serious sludgy bits than average. Still, it’s a pretty expensive comedy ($72.5 million, in contrast to Anchorman’s $26 million), and big expenses mean far more pressure to smooth over the edges and add some formula, feel-good appeal. It may have worked - Talladega Nights is looking to crack $150 million in domestic first-release grosses, and many riches will likely await on dvd, though I wonder if Anchorman's low(ish) cost might put it a bit further ahead in the end.

Still, there's some solid laughs. The random cameos were very nice (wish there was more with Jean's husband, though maybe more would have ruined it). I'm a sucker for any and all pizza delivery jokes, being a former driver myself. The slapsticky bits were nicely spread out, and always great. I left happy.

Trailers weren't too hot. Standing out was the upcoming Dane Cook epic Employee of the Month, which looks to be about as funny as having a cheese grater whipped across your mouth.