BigStar TV Reviewing MIDTOWN
"How am I a werewolf?! Two weeks ago I got bit by a Labradoodle! A Labradoodle! Have you ever... have you ever SEEN a Labradoodle!?!" ~WALTER KAPINSKI (Craig Simmons), explaining to Officers Baker and Malloy that he's a werewolf, and the reason for his neighbor's noise complaints regarding "a howling dog".
Starring a former NYPD cop and a graduate from L.A.'s famed I.O. West! improv training program (as are Tina Fey, Andy Dick, Chris Farley, Tim Meadows and Amy Poehler), here we have a webseries that's a little RENO-911 and CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM, mixed with SUPER TROOPERS. A huge hit at the 16th Annual L.A. Comedy Festival in 2014, this 6-episode first season of MIDTOWN is now available on BIGSTAR, and features the comic stylings of Scott Baker and Tom Malloy. These two go about their day one coffee at a time, as each episode starts with their morning patrol car banter. Whether discussing what one's favorite soft drink tells about a person's personality, why playing-partners in the state lotto is so crucial, or even why superheroes have dealt with such anti-Semitism since the Holocaust (ww..wait, what??), Baker and Malloy have a natural chemistry that's quite hard to ignore. Baker even shares some facial features with CURB's Larry David, which makes viewing almost whimsical, in a way. Myself being a graduate of I.O. West! back in 2005, I can tell what works in this concept, and what doesn't (at certain times). What doesn't is in certain scenes, where characters seem to come out of the woodwork to add to an established conflict, i.e., episode 4's apartment scenario with Walter the "werewolf," where one-by-one, neighbors and such barge into the shot to add some exposition. This scene, which has its roots in long-form improv, a.k.a. "The Harold," unfortunately comes across jumbled and dissonant, and is a good example of why a lot of the times improv isn't as funny as it should/could be. This isn't a stab at anyone's talent, per se, just their timing, since it's understood this whole series is mostly improv. Man, but what works, is our two leads! In the following scene after the fiasco at Walter's apartment, Baker and Malloy get gabby over Broadway musicals, which segues into a discussion of Sondheim's WEST SIDE STORY, with Malloy quipping, "What's amazing to me is that they yell OUT; the guy sings 'MARIA', and only ONE girl turns around. That's amazing to me. Spanish Harlem."
We haven't reviewed a series in awhile here, but I'm happy to tell you that this one is worth viewing! This goes along with I ROCK, DOUBLE FIST and THE LIBRARIANS in regards to a BIGSTAR episodic comedy series that'll have you rolling. Yes, it's true that police/civilian relations in post 9-11 America are at a record low due to recent current events. Though watching a mere show won't change everything, it'll put a pep-in-your-step, with hopes that all cops could be as cool and hilarious as these two!
SF Chronicle Reviewing Love N' Dancing
So you think you can watch a movie about dance? Good, because this is a pleasing, modern-day romance with dance, the spectacular kind you see on those reality TV shows.
At the center of this low-budget triumph which blends colorful characters with lively musical sequences, is screenwriter Tom Malloy, a motivational speaker, stand-up comedian and top West Coast swing dancing star who also portrays Jake, a onetime champion hoofer now retired and running a dance school. Jake is deaf and at a low ebb in his career but comes out of his downward spiral when he meets Jessica (Amy Smart), a would-be dancer searching for validation. She's about to marry Kent (Billy Zane), a business-obsessed jerk, so it doesn't take many intimate lessons before she and Jake are in step - and in love. Jake also has to deal with a former lover (Nicola Royston) who wants him back and who judges the contests. Jessica slowly emerges from her negativity beautifully costumed for the dance sequences, and Kent is forced to re-evaluate his ego-driven lifestyle. The climactic dance sequences borrow duos from the TV show "So You Think You Can Dance." Bonus features include cast commentary and 30 minutes of a West Coast swing dance lesson led by the film's choreographer, Robert Royston
- John Stanley