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Sat10242020

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After a strong, sweet and funny start, Adam Sandler’s latest Netflix effort, The Week Of, falls apart in its second half.

Sandler plays Kenny, a dad whose daughter (Allison Strong) is getting married in a week. He sees it as his last chance to do something for her, so he tries his best to put together an impressive spread for the two families. Chris Rock plays the father of the groom, a wealthy heart surgeon who isn’t impressed with the hotel Kenny has picked. Others on hand include Rachel Dratch (It’s good to see her!) as Kenny’s wife, and Steve Buscemi as a sleazy family member with amazing climbing abilities.

Directed by Robert Smigel, the film goes on long enough for the jokes to start dying from old age. A joke involving a legless uncle starts funny, gets funnier, almost gets really funny … then goes stale.

As a Howard Stern fan, I was happy to finally see the culmination of Ronnie the Limo Driver’s hard work; he’s a bad actor, but he was better than I thought he would be. (He’s a convincing sleeper.)

Having grown up on Long Island, I can say the movie does a good job of capturing the region, from the accents to the undying loyalty to Billy Joel. You have to have some respect for a comedy that kills a legless man by throwing him into a bounce pit in the middle of a strip club—but that’s not enough to make it a winner. That’s a shame, because Sandler is actually fairly endearing here, and some of the performers bring at least their B- game. The Week Of just needed to be about 25 minutes shorter, and 35 percent funnier.

The Week Of is now streaming on Netflix.

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing

On Friday night, June 9, Chris Rock’s “Total Blackout Tour” made a sold-out stop at Fantasy Springs—and his no-holds-barred, raunchy humor on various subjects was a hit.

First, one important detail: The tour is called the “Total Blackout Tour” for a reason—and that blackout includes cell phones. The line to get into the Fantasy Springs Special Events Center on Friday night was lengthy, and attendees were told they had two options: They could take their cell phones back to their cars, or they could put them in a bag that would be locked until the end of the show. (At one point before the show started, I saw a couple who had broken through the bag provided for their cell phones—and they were being dealt with by law enforcement.)

When Rock took the stage, he said, “Where the hell am I?” asking if he was in Palm Springs. He expressed disbelief that people actually lived in the Coachella Valley, based on how hot it was—and then quickly declared in the same breath that he was tired of hearing about Donald Trump every day. After that awkward non-transition, Rock went on to say that Donald Trump’s actions every day are stupid, and that these actions have made him tired of hearing about political matters.

There were two times early in the show when in the middle of his jokes, he asked, “What’s up with this microphone, man?” after his wireless microphones apparently cut out on him. It then happened a third time; when he showed frustration and asked what was going on, stage management pointed to a microphone on a cord in front of the monitors. He picked it up, stated that the Fantasy Springs Special Events Center must have been built “this past Wednesday,” and added, “We’re definitely not in Vegas.”

Chris Rock is known for his political commentary, and discussing what goes on in our society in both a funny and serious manner. In fact, he’s one of the best at doing so. After mentioning the shootings of young African-American men by police, he said that the cops should include some white teenagers, stating, “We want justice for Brad! No justice, no quiche!” (During that rant, I noticed an older white couple in a section close by who walked out disgusted, after only about 20 minutes of the show. Who in the world did they think they were going to see?)

There have been some major changes to Rock’s personal life recently. He stated rather seriously that one of those changes included a divorce from his ex-wife, to whom he was married for 16 years. He admitted in a serious manner: “I cheated with three women,” which quickly turned into a joke, given he’s been asked, “Why only three?” He talked about the woes of his divorce proceedings, and that his wife was out to get his “New Jack City and I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” money. However, he added that his divorce proceedings were much better than those between rapper Tone Loc and his ex-wife, who would argue over “who gets ‘Funky Cold Medina’ and ‘Wild Thing.’”

The show’s funniest part came when Rock explained how a marriage works—based on “fucking and playing the tambourine.” He stated that being in a relationship is like being in a band, and there are days when you are the front man, and days when you’re playing the tambourine. He also talked about how a man might think he owns his house, but if a man wanted to test this idea, that man should test it by “put(ting) up a picture of your mother in the house.”

Rock is known for his hilarious successful HBO comedy specials, starring roles in various films, and a sitcom based on his childhood; he even hosted the Oscars last year. It’s obvious based on the laughs he generated during the show: Rock remains one of the funniest stars of stand-up comedy.

Published in Comedy

Summer is upon us—officially, even, as of the night of June 20. Why don’t you beat the heat and enjoy a great show or two?

Agua Caliente Casino Report Spa’s June schedule is a little light, but there are a couple of things worth mentioning (beyond a sold-out Moody Blues show on Saturday, June 3). At 7 p.m., Saturday, June 17, you’ll need to get your shout-outs to your “shorty in lockdown” ready, because the Art LaBoe Summer Love Jam will return. All joking aside, there’s some great music on the lineup this year. Funk legend ZAPP is one of the acts worth going to see, as the group has been sampled by several hip-hop artists, including Dr. Dre. Tickets are $45 to $65. If you never got to see Pink Floyd play a live show, you missed out, since the members have stated there will be no reunion—ever. But at 9 p.m., Friday, June 30, you can experience Pink Floyd’s music set to lasers at Paramount’s Laser Spectacular. Some of these laser shows with Pink Floyd’s music can be pretty cool—plus it beats sitting at home watching Netflix. Tickets are $20 to $30. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has just one big show in June—but it’s huge. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 9, get ready for some serious laughs, because Chris Rock will be stopping by. Chris Rock has been incredible to watch over the years, given how well he always reflects the times in his stand-up routine. I still love the bit he did about Lil’ Jon and rap music, which has become one of his best-known standup moments. Tickets are $89 to $149. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29’s entertainment slate for June is also a little light, but there is one thing you won’t want to miss (aside from the Ziggy Marley show, which you can read about on Friday, June 2, here at CVIndependent.com): At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 24, Los Chicos del 512 will be performing a tribute to Selena. The group will perform all of Selena’s music that you know and love. Tickets are $20. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort and Spa has several great events on the calendar. At 9 p.m., Friday, June 2, Marlon Wayans will bring the funny; tickets are $23 to $29. Be sure to check out my interview with him here. That same night, at 10 p.m., Friday, June 2, power-pop band The Romantics (upper right) will perform. This is a show you should see if you’re a true rock ’n’ roll fan. The Romantics had a couple of big hit songs: “What I Like About You” and “Talking In Your Sleep.” The band’s lineup once included Blondie drummer Clem Burke; he’s no longer with the band, but three original members are! Tickets are $20. Keeping with the ’80s theme, at 10 p.m., Friday, June 16, new-wave band The Motels will be appearing. The Motels had one or two hits in the ’80s and then faded away, before re-forming in 1998. Martha Davis still fronts the band—and still believes in the music. Tickets are $20. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace will be the place to go this summer for great live music—and the venue’s June calendar is packed. Read my interview with the Tijuana Panthers here; the band will perform at 9 p.m., Friday, June 2, and tickets are $15. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 9, Mick Rhodes and the Hard Eight will take the stage. Rhodes was once the front man of the Los Angeles punk band Human Therapy, and now performs in this spectacular alt-country band. If you can’t make it to the show, at least check out the band on the streaming services. I can almost guarantee you’ll like it. Admission is free. At 9 p.m., Saturday, June 10, New Orleans R&B/country band The Deslondes will be returning to Pappy and Harriet’s. The band’s New Orleans sound is timeless; The Deslondes really do have something going for themselves. After seeing the group perform at Stagecoach, I can tell you it’s a fun band to watch. Tickets are $15. At 9 p.m., Saturday, June 24, psychedelic rock band The Black Lips will be returning. The band’s shows are often pretty insane. While they’ve behaved themselves at Pappy and Harriet’s the last couple of times, they’ve been known to get naked, vomit, set things on fire and so on. War Drum front man Jack Kohler once told me a story about how when he worked for the Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs, he was told to deliver shaving cream to the band’s hotel room—and found the band shaving a group of women from head to toe. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room has some familiar names returning in June. At 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, June 2 and 3, America’s favorite dragapella group, The Kinsey Sicks, will be performing the Things You Shouldn’t Say show. Tickets are $30 to $45. At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 17, The Buddy Holly Review will do its thing. As a fan of Buddy Holly, I’ve been interested in this show; I’ve heard it’s a lot of fun. Tickets are $25 to $35. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 30, there will be a benefit for the American Cancer Society featuring Debby Holiday (below). Debby Holiday is a star on the rise with two hit singles, “Never Give Up” and “Key to Your Soul.” Tickets are $25 to $35. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has a couple of events, starring local bands, that are worth your consideration. At 9 p.m., Friday, June 2, there will be a metal show with Drop Mob, Perishment, Instigator and In the Name of the Dead. Considering how long as Drop Mob has been around, it’s good to see the band finally being noticed. Admission is free. At 9 p.m., Thursday, June 8, Courtney Chambers, Caxton, and 5th Town will take the stage. This should be a fun show; all of the bands are female-fronted—and rather talented. Admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Published in Previews

Chris Rock writes, directs and stars in Top Five, a semi-autobiographical look at a stand-up comedian turned film star looking for industry respect.

After a string of movies about a bear cop and a bout with substance abuse, Andre Allen (Rock) is taking a break from stand-up and slapstick to do “serious” movies. On the day of a big premiere, a reporter (Rosario Dawson) tags along to interview him. Rock and Dawson are fun together, while a supporting cast that includes J.B. Smoove, Cedric the Entertainer, Gabrielle Union and—holy crap!—Ben Vereen score a bunch of solid laughs.

A sequence involving a cocaine-and-hooker party stands as one of the year’s funniest scenes, and Rock’s writing is solid throughout. As Chris Rock films go, this is his best starring vehicle by far. Also: Adam Sandler and Jerry Seinfeld have hilarious walk-ons. Sandler hasn’t been this funny in years. Perhaps he should allow Rock to direct him all the time. Maybe Rock can turn that whole Grown Ups franchise around!

Top Five opens Thursday, Dec. 18, at the Cinemas Palme d’Or (72840 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-779-0430).

Published in Reviews

Adam Sandler has done it again: He has made the worst movie of his career. How do his films keep topping themselves in horribleness?

Grown Ups 2—a sequel to the Dennis Dugan disaster that joined David Spade, Chris Rock and Kevin James—is twice as bad as the original. Considering how awful the original was, I didn’t think such a feat was possible.

The plot involves Sandler moving back to his hometown, where a deer enters his house and promptly urinates on him. Then he goes shopping with his friends who fart and burp a lot. Then he has a big party where everybody dresses up as people from the ’80s (Pat Benatar, Bruce Springsteen, The Terminator). Then somebody farts again, and then the movie is over. I sat in a theater in which people were laughing their asses off every time somebody farted. It was one of the most-depressing experiences of my summer so far—and I had to sit through The Purge, so that’s pretty bad.

I have officially given up on Sandler. This is a talented, funny guy who can’t seem to say goodbye to people who drag him down.

Given the box office performance of this piece of crap—it earned more than $42 million on its opening weekend—Sandler will probably be giving Dugan plenty of directing jobs in the future. This is our loss.

Grown Ups 2 is unfortunately playing at theaters across the valley.

Published in Reviews