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Stephen Merchant

Film Review: As Comedy, ‘Table 19’ Only Serves Hor d’Oeuvres

CHICAGO – “Table 19” is an example of a movie that doesn’t try to do too much. It simply takes its little idea and lets it play out, without the forced subplots and desperate stabs of fake urgency so many studio comedies resort to – it’s one part aimless hang out comedy, one part rom-com.

Film Review: ‘Logan’ Bares Its Sharp Claws & Eviscerates Us Emotionally

CHICAGO – There is a war raging in the comic book cinematic universe where filmmakers think that these kinds of films should embrace their over the top (verging on campy) nature while others think they should be darker and made deathly serious. “Logan” proves that they are both wrong as it strikes a balance between all of those elements while remaining true to the character.

Preview: Just for Laughs Chicago 2012 From TBS Kicks Off June 12, 2012

Just for Laughs Chicago 2012

CHICAGO – If a collective chorus of guffaws is heard throughout the Windy City this week, blame it on the ‘Just for Laughs Chicago’ 2012 Festival. From June 12th-17th, stages large and small throughout Chicagoland will feature some of the hottest comedy acts, stars and the taping of the ‘Conan’ TBS chat show, featuring Conan O’Brien and Andy Richter.

TV Review: HBO’s ‘Eastbound & Down,’ ‘Life’s Too Short’ Offer Unique Takes on Comedy

CHICAGOHBO brings back a few of their most larger-than-life personalities with the third (and final) season premiere of “Eastbound & Down” and the stateside premiere of “Life’s Too Short.”

TV on DVD Round-up: ‘The Adventures of Merlin,’ ‘An Idiot Abroad,’ ‘Primeval’

Primeval

CHICAGO – We’re back with another DVD Round-up of recently released titles that may catch your attention when you’re browsing the DVD store this week. (Do they still have DVD stores?) This time, read this entire piece aloud in a British accent.

DVD Review: Special Edition of BBC’s Original ‘The Office’

The Office BBC

CHICAGO – I can still vividly remember when it was announced that NBC was to air a remake of the incredible British series “The Office.” Those of us familiar with the original thought it was a VERY bad idea. A guy from “The Daily Show” filling the shoes of Ricky Gervais? Now it’s safe to say, the current season excepted, that the remake has eclipsed the original. It leads me to wonder if there isn’t a whole generation now that doesn’t even know the NBC version is a remake. School them with “The Office: Special Edition,” now available for discerning Black Friday shoppers everywhere.

Blu-Ray Review: ‘Gnomeo & Juliet’ Falls Flat as Busted Yard Display

Gnomeo and Juliet

CHICAGO – The animated adventure “Gnomeo & Juliet,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, features an A-list voice cast and some beloved hits by Sir Elton John, but just getting talent in the recording booth either musically or merely vocally does not a movie make and the script for this thing is so uninspired and accompanied by lackluster visuals that it’s just dull to anyone over ten.

Video Game Review: Inventive, Clever, Addictive World of ‘Portal 2’

CHICAGO – “Portal 2” feels so unlike any of the dozens of games that I play every year for review that it’s nearly hard to put into words. Video game critics train themselves with their approach to shooters, sports games, mini-game collections, etc. But how do you approach something this original, this unique, and this clever without sounding hyperbolic? It’s impossible. “Portal 2” is an amazing achievement.

DVD Review: Hysterical Animation of HBO’s ‘The Ricky Gervais Show’

Ricky Gervais Show

CHICAGO – Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant are two of the funniest men alive. Their work on “The Office” and “Extras” stills stands up as brilliant, clever, and consistently hysterical. Their quick wit made them a perfect fit for the world of the podcast and it’s simply spectacular that they hold the Guinness title for the most-downloaded audio recordings. The smash hit podcasts have been turned into an animated HBO series, returning to the network on Friday, January 14th, 2011, shortly after the DVD release of the first season.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Kid Thing, The

    CHICAGO – Like the awesome Engine Who Could, the mighty Nothing Without a Company stage crafters have constructed another triumph at their new home in Berger Mansion on Chicago’s north side. “The Kid Thing” – written by Sarah Gubbins – is a terse, convincing and emotional play about fear, identity and breeding, and it is performed by its cast of five with utter authenticity. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Berger North Mansion through April 15th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Wiz, The

    CHICAGO – When stage theater can cause outbreaks of elation, celebration and joy, then it must be due to Kokandy Productions’ revival of “The Wiz.” The urban reinterpretation of “The Wizard of Oz” story – told through tuneful euphoria and jubilant dance – is ecstatically produced, in every morsel of its stagecraft.

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