“The Grinder”: No Rest for the Wicked

The Grinder is an odd duck. It’s not exactly a family comedy or a workplace comedy, though it has elements of both. It’s not exactly a lawyer comedy, though some plot points revolve around legal procedures. It’s certainly not a documentary about the origins of the popular gay corollary to Tinder, though it’s easy to see (or hear) why you would make that assumption.

But there’s one thing that’s easy to say about The Grinder: it’s really funny.

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The M&M Report: “Room,” Grantland and Devin Doesn’t Like Things (!)


On this episode of The M&M Report, Devin Mitchell and I review the claustrophobia-inducing drama Room, which stars Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay as a mother and child held captive in a garden shed for more than five years. This movie freaked us out, but we recommend it.

Then we paid tribute to one of our favorite web sites: Grantland, which ESPN abruptly shuttered a couple weeks ago.

And finally, Devin explains why he doesn’t want to hear one more word about the 2016 election. (This episode was recorded on Sunday, before Tuesday’s GOP debate.)

Room – 0:25
Grantland ends – 20:56
Devin Doesn’t Like Things: 2016 Election – 36:05

Peruse the M&M Report category page for previous episodes of the podcast. Thanks for listening!

Carly Rae Jepsen: Below the Top, Proudly


Carly Rae Jepsen isn’t Taylor Swift. She seems perfectly fine with that. And so am I.

In fact, it’s probably better for everyone that her success, and her goals, are more modest. Jepsen probably couldn’t command a stadium or flaunt a Rolodex of famous pals with Swift’s conviction. And she definitely can’t sell albums or singles at a fraction of Swift’s impressive rate.

But she can sing, she can shimmy and last night at the Fillmore in Silver Spring, Maryland, she shined.

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“SNL”: Post-Trump, Lots of Grump

Trump SNL

This past week was the worst one in a while for passionate Saturday Night Live defenders like me. In the run-up to this week’s episode, hosted by Donald Trump featuring musical guest Sia, a fervent crowd of SNL dissidents sprung up, as if from hiding, to diminish the cultural importance and creative vitality of a show they either haven’t watched in years or continue to watch while actively rooting against it. (Here are just two of many examples, from critics I otherwise respect: Buzzfeed’s Kate Aurthur and Vanity Fair’s Richard Lawson.)

The argument that SNL has never been funny, I contend, is a product of unreasonable expectations. The show doesn’t proclaim to be consistent or even reliable. The live format inherently generates up and down weeks, high and low moments, strong and weak sketches. What makes SNL impressive is the frequency with which it succeeds at being funny despite the difficult production restrictions baked into it — tight schedule, collaborative workflow, competing motivations, high-pressure environment, no do-overs.

But every once in a while, I have to doff my cap to people who have written SNL off, and admit that for all of its highs, SNL is also capable of great lows. Last night’s episode represents the show’s nadir in the last five years, if not longer. And it’s on me, and anyone who watched, for expecting anything different.

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The M&M Report: “Saturday Night Live” Season 41


On this episode of The M&M Report, Devin Mitchell and I looked back at the first three episodes of the new season of Saturday Night Live, remarking on the highs of Tracy Morgan’s triumphant return and the lows of Miley Cyrus’s…less triumphant return. Then we took previewed this week’s new episode with a discussion of whether it’s ethical, or advisable, to let Donald Trump host.

Since we recorded, the groundswell of groups urging NBC to cancel Trump’s stint has intensified. The network hasn’t backed down. Meanwhile, the customary promos featuring Trump and cast member Cecily Strong have generated controversy of their own.

Peruse the M&M Report category page for previous episodes of the podcast. Thanks for listening!

The M&M Report: “Steve Jobs”


On this episode of The M&M Report, Devin Mitchell and I discuss the notorious box-office bomb Steve Jobs, a big-budget prestige drama from a major studio that’s performing almost exactly the same as the 2013 indie drama Jobs (starring Ashton Freaking Kutcher).

Peruse the M&M Report category page for previous episodes of the podcast. Thanks for listening!

“Steve Jobs”: Shiny Exterior, Some Bugs


Steve Jobs was innovative, creative, driven, dogged and inestimably intelligent. But was he an interesting person?

Judging by Steve Jobs, a feature film meticulously scripted by Aaron Sorkin and studiously crafted by Danny Boyle, the answer is…maybe not? Kind of? It’s hard to tell what the filmmakers think, let alone what you’re supposed to after spending two hours with him. As enlivened with dazzling intensity by Michael Fassbender, the Jobs of this film vociferously berates his coworkers, belittles his female colleague and confidant Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet) and rejects all notions of responsible parenting. Yet by the end, he is redeemed, or at least validated.

The movie doesn’t provide insight into how he gets there, nor does it transcend the limitations of its genre. The first two acts set up a fascinating story of a man overcoming professional setbacks without even the barest hint of interpersonal skills, but the third act doesn’t nail the dismount. What’s left is a cheap and lazily rendered stab at sentimentality that’s supposed to make you feel bad for a guy who spent the previous two-thirds of the movie alienating everyone around him – and you. Instead, you just feel bad for the people who will accept this cop-out as honest.

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