Monday, April 21, 2008

Film Trailer: Quarantine

Release date is October 1, 2008. It looks scary enough. But I think Diary of the Dead already did something like this. Cool Trailer though.

Masters of Horror: SICK GIRL

My pechant for the macabre knows no bounds. I am a big fan of Showtime Tv's Masters of Horror series. Each one hour film is directed by a known master of the craft. The show (created by Mick Garris) has featured John Carpenter (Halloween), John McNaughton (Henry Portrait of a Serial Killer), Dario Argento (Suspiria), Joe Dante (The Howling), Brad Anderson (Session 9), Ernest Dickerson (Tales from the Crypt's Demon Night), etc.

This is a film series not to be missed. Show creator Mick Garris (The Shining, the Stand)has developed a wonderful escape from the usual and each guest director brings his own feel to the fearful with each film. Brilliant!

Lucky McKee, director of MAY, is reunited with his leading lady Angela Bettis in the Master's of Horror movie SICK GIRL. (costarring Erin Brown aka Misty Mundae) Sick Girl is the story of an unlucky in love entomologist named Ida whose life is suddenly changed by the arrival of a mysterious package.

Ida collects, studies and lives her life surrounded by bugs. She keeps a collection of them in her bedroom (which genuinely puts off anyone who sleeps with her). Ida is lonely and sad, but that all changes when she meets Misty and the package arrives.

Inside of the package is a strange, large, aggressive bug that Ida takes to immediately, and brings into her home.

With the arrival of this new bug and her love life in full swing, everything seems in order. Ida and Misty hit it off almost instantly and begin a torrid affair. The Bug escapes from its box, kills a neighbor's dog and then in an unlikely plot twist begins to feed on Misty to survive.

Misty's attitude and demeanor (as well as her physical body) begin to change and she succumbs to the bug's influences. Ida is dumbfounded even more so when she receives a letter from Brazil apologizing for sending the bug to her in the first place. The sender is Misty's homophobic father and Ida's old entomology professor.

So do they eventually live happily ever after? Well, happily ever after ain't all its cracked up to be, but after Misty murders two people, they do live.

Director Lucky McKee co wrote this babes and bugs story. It is a funny and fascinating tale. Angela Bettis and Erin Brown do have genuine chemistry on screen and because they make such a cute couple, you find yourself actually rooting for them.

The Bug might symbolize to some the male patriarchal ego intruding on the Sapphic love fest, and that is cool. Because it does basically do that, but the threesome does make for an interestingly creepy film.

The skin factor is minute which for Showtime is a plus. I don't look at Masters of Horror for soft core porn. I like to be scared. When the plot of the movie has a sexual basis, then the extra skin is necessary. McKee maintains that balance and thus tells an effective story on screen.

If you haven't seen the Masters of Horror series, go to your local video story and rent a couple of films. visit for the full low down on the series.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Bad-Ass Battle, round 1

I'm behind in the curve, so I just recently saw There Will Be Blood and No Country For Old Men and liked both immensely. Daniel Day Lewis and Javier Bardem both played knock-out characters who were total bad-asses, which explains why they both won Oscars this year. But whose character was more bad-ass?

Daniel Day-Lewis as Daniel Plainview
He's a cut-throat oil tycoon who doesn't care about the men who die along the way to the top.
When you double-cross him, he beats you to death with a bowling pin or he just shoots you.
He'll disown you if you decide to become his competition, regardless of familial relations.
He'll profess his love to God just to expand the business.
He makes a shooting range in his own house.
He owns a Great Dane (normally not making you bad-ass, but big dogs do carry some worth).
Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead fame does the soundtrack, which really has nothing to do with Mr. Plainview, but his excellent compositions play over some great scenes involving him.
He breaks his leg, and doesn't even give a shit and just pulls himself out of his pre-oil well.

Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh
He uses a air-gun to not only unlock doors, but also to kill people.
He has no sense of morality whatsoever, and pulls a Two-Face move and uses a quarter to decide fate.
Killing is a sense of honor, not for sport or pleasure.
His shotgun with silencer attachment is the scariest thing I've seen, other than his air-gun thing.
He brings back the pageboy haircut in a huge way.
He breaks his arm, pays a boy for his shirt, and then just walks away, arm still broken.
He's the present-day T-1000. He doesn't stop until the job is done.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A disturbing image from Clive Barker's Midnight Meat Train. I am looking forward to sleeping with the light on after watching the film adaptation of this short story.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Review: "Wristcutters: A Love Story"

A few months ago, I posted my top 20 films of last year. When discussing my top ten with friends, acquaintances and the occasional annoying cinema employee, many were extremely surprised that ranked third on my list, only behind "Into The Wild" and "No Country For Old Men", was an indie movie that made the film festival rounds in 2006, only to have its release repeatedly delayed and was eventually dumped into theaters for a week before disappearing. This was "Wristcutters: A Love Story", and though 2007 was a great year for films, I did not see one more heartwarming or life-affirming all year, and now that it has reached video, I feel I need to revisit it for the sake of persuading a few more people to see it.

The film starts off with Zia (Patrick Fugit, "Almost Famous") staring numbly into space. After cleaning his incredibly messy room, until not an object lies out of place, he calmly walks into his bathroom, slits his wrists and dies. Most comedies don't start like this; in fact, most dramas don't either, but this is not your average movie. We then follow Zia to what is presumably Purgatory, but looks more like New Jersey. Upon committing suicide, he discovers something incredibly ironic: "Everything here is just like it was before, it's all just a little bit worse." The only real differences between this world and the afterlife Zia resides in are that nobody in his world is able to smile, and everybody looks like they did when they died, the latter of which is used just enough to lend another dimension to characters without being gratuitous. Like on Earth, Zia falls into a routine: Lie in bed, go drinking with his friend Eugene (Shea Whigham), remember and miss his beloved Desiree (Leslie Bibb), repeat. We learn that Zia killed himself after Desiree left him, and when he finds out that Desiree too killed herself, Zia and Eugene set out on a road trip through the afterlife to find her. Along the way, they pick up Mikal (Shannyn Sossamon), a quirky young woman convinced she's there by mistake. From there, we follow the trio as they negotiate a strange host of characters, a black hole beneath a car's passenger seat, a camp run by a scatterbrained old man (Tom Waits) where miracles can happen as long as they're completely insignificant and a cult leader obsessed with separating his soul from his body; I will not spoil who that is, as it's one of the film's biggest laughs.

With a story like this (based on the short story "Kneller's Happy Campers", by author Etgar Keret) and a budget this low, the film is made or broken by its cast, and to that end, I can't think of a better one. Fugit, Whigham and Sossamon light the screen up with their chemistry, and as they travel along this wasteland, they become more endearing with every single scene. Whigham in particular is fantastic as the cynical ex-musician (his music played in the film is done by Gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello) who cares enough about Zia to travel with him but has trouble leaving his family, all of whom live together in the next life as well. The film is just long enough to make us care, and ends in the most satisfying, undeniably romantic ending to any film I've seen in years.

I can't speak highly enough of this film, and were I to go on any longer, I would spoil too much, so I'll just say that for all the "important" films I saw last year, few were even a sliver as meaningful as "Wristcutters", or possessed nearly as much heart.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

SWEENEY TODD: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street





I never thought I would get this far into a musical, but Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd lit a fire under me so red hot that I can still hear the singing in my head.

This is a great, wondrous film. Johnny Depp was amazing, as was Helena Bonham Carter and the rest of the cast.

The Story of Sweeney Todd is a tale of revenge and justice, and of love. Sweeney was not always the Demon Barber of his fame. He had a life and a wife and a beautiful child. He also had an enemy in Judge Turpin (played by Alan Rickman) who coveted his wife. So much so, that he used his influence to have Sweeney locked away for fifteen years, rapes his wife (who swallows arsenic and goes mad) and then has the nerve to raise their child as a prisoner locked away until she is old enough to marry. Time passes as time does.

Sweeney is haunted by the ghosts of his past. He wants revenge.

Ghosts seem to be a theme in this movie. Not apparitions or poltergeists, but the longings of the head and the heart. When you know the story of the Barber's fall from grace, you as the audience, are allowed to sympathize and even cheer him on as he dispatches the rich to feed the needy and his needs.

Helena Bonham Carter plays "MS. Lovett" who covets a place in the heart and by the side of Mr. Todd. So much so, that she devises a plan: He kills and she serves them up as pies. Ms. Lovett longed for Sweeney in her youth. And truthfully, as there mischief continues, you may actually think them unstoppable.

They are not. They are instead undone by their own wickedness.

The music in this film (not unlike Tim Burtons Nightmare Before Chirstmas) is absorbing and contagious. I don't like musicals, but I loved this film.

Its Satirical take on morality was refreshing. "And now those above shall serve those below." they sing as they look out onto the busy London streets and wonder over who will taste like what.

A gross thought, that is presented beautifully by, Steven Sodheim's musical score.
This musical is not for everyone, bloody as it is, but the blood looks remarkably like something from a Justin Hammer movie. A nice touch, I think.

The visuals are typical Tim Burton style, dark and shadowy. But, full of life. He plays with alot of blacks and grays in the setting, which suits the type of city Sweeney believes London to be:

"There's a hole in the world like a great black pit.
And the vermin of the world inhabit it--
and it's moral aren't worth what a pig could spit!
..... and its London."




This was Johnny Depp's and Helena Bonham Carter's first singing role, and hers was the hardest. There are parts where the woman barely breaths in this picture. But, they made it.

The perfect couple, the perfect crime, and the perfect musical/movie.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Oh the Places You'll Go: Illinois

Illinois rocks, in my personal opinion, and some great films have been set or made in this fair state. Here are the top 10 best films set in Illinois, most of which are set in Chicago:

  1. High Fidelity (Chicago) - How can anyone deny the greatness of this film? John Cusack gives the performance of his life as a middle-age record freak living in Wicker Park who loses his girlfriend. It shows the cool spots in Chicago, such as the Music Box and the Double Door, showcases Reckless Records, and features the cleanest El train ever to exist in Chicago.
  2. The Breakfast Club (The fictitious town of Sherman) - John Hughes loves the town of Sherman. Too bad it doesn't exist, but to the group of five detention-bound high schoolers it's a very real place. The interiors of The Breakfast Club were shot at the now torn down Maine North High School, while the exteriors were shot at Glenbrook North High School, Hughes alma mater. Both are in the suburbs of Chicago, about 30 minutes away. Even though you can't jam out in the cool library to some 80s tunes, you can go to Glenbrook's football field and re-enact Bender fist-in-the-air moment.
  3. The Untouchables (Chicago) - I've never been prouder to live in Chicago than the moment after I saw this movie. Brian De Palma does a wonderful job of showing the Al Capone era of Chicago history through his Prohibition film starring Kevin Costner and Sean Connery. Many of the exterior shots were filmed in Chicago by blocking off the streets and recreating the 1920s all over again.
  4. The Blues Brothers (Chicago) - What can I say? There wouldn't be a Blues Brothers if there wasn't a city named Chicago.
  5. Wayne's World (Aurora) - Aurora is not a cool place to live, but Wayne and Garth make it cool. The two host a late-night public access show that takes off when people actually start watching it. One plus of this film, you can actually go out towards O'Hare, sit on the hood of your car, and see the planes fly over you. Just don't freak out like Wayne and Garth do.
  6. Ferris Bueller's Day Off (Chicago/Sherman) - John Hughes just loves Sherman. Yet again, a bored youth of Sherman ventures off. Ferris Bueller and his friends decide to ditch school and visit Chicago for the day, much to the chagrin of the principal. Now, I'm not sure if it's actually possible to do everything that Ferris does in a day (go see the Sears Tower, Wrigley, the Art Institute, and participate in the German Pride Parade), but I will give $20 to whoever can.
  7. Home Alone (Chicago/Winnetka) - What ten year old kid doesn't want to be left behind in a huge house like that? You can actually go visit the house in Winnetka where they shot the film at, but I would suggest going around Christmas time. It's much prettier. And, I have to admit, I am guilty of re-enacting the running scene in O'Hare, even when I wasn't late for my flight.
  8. Proof (Evanston) - This play to screen film is set in Evanston, which is right outside of Chicago. Most of the college scenes are at the University of Chicago, not Northwestern as many believe. But can you believe it, some of it was shot in the UK! But there is an amazing shot of Gweneth Paltrow looking over the skyline by the lake up north.
  9. Chicago (Fake Chicago) - Ok, none of this film was shot in Chicago. But it's a great adaptation of the musical and it does showcase the outside of the Chicago Theater.
  10. My Best Friend's Wedding (Chicago) - Julia Roberts, you stop that wedding! And go to a Soxs game while you're at it and get into a fight in the bathroom!
Honorable Mentions:
-- Field of Dreams - Although not set in Illinois, is does feature Chicago's best baseball team the White Soxs.
-- Batman Begins - Yes, it's called Gotham, but he's standing on top of the Water Tower!
-- Risky Business - Kudos to Tom Cruise for having sex on the El. He probably has ten venereal diseases now just from that moment alone...and all his clothes smell like piss.
-- Mean Girls - Just because Tina Fey is awesome, and I miss pre-coke Lindsey Lohan. But if you didn't know, it's supposedly set in Evanston even though it was mostly shot in Canada.


This looks really stupid and really fake.
This is possibly an April fools joke.
But Here it is: THE LEGEND OF ZELDA.

Check out this video: - Legend of Zelda Movie Trailer Premiere

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Summer Movie Preview

It seems like every year, the summer movie season starts earlier and earlier. June was the usual jump-off, until about six years ago, when "Spider-Man" came out the first weekend of May and shattered records. Since then, even late April has brought a big film or two about. So, I thought today we could take a look at what this year's crop of summer pictures has to offer.

(in chronological order)

May 2:

Iron Man - He of the most successful post-drug career in Hollywood, Robert Downey Jr., is suiting up to play Tony Stark. Now, because of his history, I'm pretty sure the part in the comic about him being an alcoholic won't be in the movie, but I'm still excited. However, this actually isn't the Downey movie I'm most excited for (more on that later). This probably isn't even the superhero movie I'm most excited for, but I think this'll work. I just haven't been awe-struck by the trailers for this like I have been by some of the others.

Made of Honor - And now, ladies and gentlemen, counterprogramming. See also: "The Notebook" coming out against "Spider-Man 2" in 2004 and "The Devil Wears Prada" released against "Superman Returns" in '06. This might work as well as those did, because though I'm handing in a man card to say this, this film really doesn't look that bad at all. Patrick Dempsey's a likable guy, and he was good in Enchanted. "Grey's Anatomy" still sucks, though.

May 9:

Speed Racer - I've never really wondered what dropping acid and going to a carnival would be like, but I imagine it'd look something like the Wachowskis' (The Matrix trilogy, V For Vendetta) imagining of Speed Racer. They've taken the deep-focus style used in films like Citizen Kane, where everything in a shot is in focus at the same time (as opposed to just the foreground), and created a live-action cartoon/rainbow explosion with it. The cast is solid (especially John Goodman looking like the lost third Mario Brother as Speed's dad), but I have a feeling that the people who got motion sickness watching Cloverfield might not even show up for this one. Personally, I'll be seeing it on IMAX and watching in awe as my synapses are fried.

What Happens In Vegas - A romantic comedy starring Ashton Kutcher. Moving on.

May 16:

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian - I didn't see the first one. I thought it looked like The Lord of The Rings for the under-12 set, but I saw the trailer for this, and I think I'm sold. I just have issues with the fact that religious allegory in films like this is acceptable only if it's in favor of religion. If not, we get the Golden Compass debacle. That's another rant for another time, though.

May 22:

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - For the sake of full disclosure, I have to mention that I have only seen "Raiders of the Lost Ark", and saw that film for the first time only this past summer. With that being said, I'm a huge Spielberg fan, and I'm really interested to see how this franchise catches on with the current generation of young filmgoers, considering most of them hadn't been born yet when the last Jones film came out.

May 30:

Sex And The City - I've tried to watch the show this film is based on before. I went in with an open mind, and I still hated it. Many close female friends have told me I just don't get it because I'm a guy, and I respond by saying that, as my tastes in pop culture as a whole go, I'm a lot more open-minded than the average 19-year-old guy. For fuck's sake, Say Anything and Love Actually are both among my favorite films. I just can't see listening to four rich women talk about sex and whine a lot being a use of two hours of my summer, without making me hate myself the next day.

June 6:

Kung-Fu Panda - The kid in me (the one who took two little sisters to see Horton Hears A Who last week and laughed harder than either of them) is incredibly excited for this movie. Jack Black and Seth Rogen as animals that do kung-fu? I'm so there on opening day.

You Don't Mess With The Zohan - Reasons why this could be hilarious: Judd Apatow has a writing credit, Sandler's back to his older-school schtick and the trailer looks promising. Reasons why this could suck a fat one: When's the last time Sandler made a really good screwball comedy? (I'll go with Anger Management, and I was in junior high when that came out).

June 13:

The Happening - M. Night Shyamalan got absolutely blasted for Lady In The Water, but in all honesty, it wasn't a terrible movie. Sure, it wasn't as good as his other films, and it didn't give the twist-ending payoff people have come to expect from him, but it was still a good time. With this in mind, I blame the people who slandered him for the fact that his new film is about Mother Nature causing people to kill themselves in extravagantly violent ways. I've been waiting for Shyamalan to tackle an R-rated film for a while now, but I'm just having trouble getting behind this.

The Incredible Hulk - I cracked up when I heard about this, to be honest. Apparently, even Marvel Comics thought that Ang Lee's 2003 stab at the Hulk story was terrible; so much so, that they've basically called a do-over on it. Replace Eric Bana with Edward Norton, Jennifer Connelly with Liv Tyler and Nick Nolte with Tim Roth, and I'm psyched. Add to that the fact that according to the producers, the final fight scene between Hulk and Abomination is going to be 26 minutes long, and I'm doubly psyched.

June 20:

Get Smart - Please, God, Let This Be Good, Part I: The trailer shows a lot of goofy promise, there's a fantastic cast attached, and this might be Dwayne "Don't Call Me The Rock" Johnson's chance to tap into all the charisma he showed in his WWF days and actually apply it to one of his films. (Other than Southland Tales, but most people haven't seen that. If you haven't, stop reading this right now and go rent it.) I just have my doubts, given that Warner Brothers really isn't pushing this as hard as most other companies are with their tentpole films, at this point in time.

The Love Guru - Please, God, Let This Be Good, Part II: When Mike Myers is working for a paycheck, he can be downright terrible (The Cat In The Hat. Enough said.) However, when he's really on his game, like with the Austin Powers trilogy or So I Married An Axe Murderer, he is easily one of the funniest men in Hollywood. Despite the fact that all sorts of Middle Eastern rights groups are already up in arms about this movie, Myers wrote it himself, he's been working this character in clubs for years now, and he has Romany Malco (who co-stole the show in The 40 Year Old Virgin) to play off of. If this is terrible, I'm probably going to fall into a massive depression.

June 27:

Wanted - Universal seems to have major faith in this flick, but so far, I'm not feeling it. I can't quite put my finger on what it is, either, but this just looks like an amalgam of about ten other action movies that I've already seen. Bonus points to Angelina Jolie for still doing movies like this while being one of the most publicized actresses in Hollywood.

Wall E - Weirdly enough, this might very well be my most anticipated film of the summer. Pixar has yet to make a bad movie (I wasn't a fan of Cars, but a lot of people are), and now, they're releasing a film with only one human character and a bunch of cute robots that communicate through voiceboxes, set several centuries in the future and set around a trash-collecting robot's quest to save his beloved EVE. I honestly think this movie is going to forever change what filmmakers do with animation, I truly believe that.

July 2:

Hancock - Ill-thought-out third act notwithstanding, Will Smith's performance in I Am Legend was one of those command performances that has to be seen to be believed. Now, for his latest shattering of Fourth of July box office records, he's playing an alcoholic superhero who hires Jason Bateman to polish his image, only to fall in love with his wife (Charlize Theron). I'd just like to note that this movie was originally titled Tonight, He Comes, and to be honest, I'm a little sad that they didn't keep that title. The talk show jokes practically write themselves.

July 11:

Hellboy II: The Golden Army - The first Hellboy was a huge surprise to me, and left me wanting more. Plus, after Pan's Labyrinth, Guillermo Del Toro could film himself painting for two hours in silence, and I'd be there on opening night. I just hope this doesn't fall into the sequel trap; that is, to cram too much in for the sake of making it epic.

Journey To The Center Of The Earth 3D - When I saw the trailer for this (attached to the 3D re-release of The Nightmare Before Christmas last fall), it was just called Journey 3D. It's been changed now, most likely because those looking to get their "Don't Stop Believin'" on in theaters would have been very disappointed. However, from what I've read about this, Brendan Fraser has put yet another nail in the coffin of his once-flourishing career. For instance, this movie has Fraser and his son taking cell phone calls. In the center of the Earth. I'm all for suspension of disbelief in movies, but that's just ri-goddamn-diculous.

Meet Dave - I couldn't handle three Eddie Murphys in Norbit. Apparently, there's going to be around a hundred in this. That's material for a room in hell right there.

July 18:

The Dark Knight - This chatty little indie surrounds the existential crises of.....oh, screw it. You've been inundated with everything about this movie, and unless something goes terribly wrong, this might very well shatter every expectation of what a superhero movie can and should be. Can't. Freaking. Wait.

Mamma Mia! - And now, ladies and gentlemen, more counterprogramming. Honestly, I don't think you can get any more "counter" in counterprogramming than releasing a musical based on ABBA songs against The Dark Knight. Doesn't look bad at all, though.

July 25:

Step Brothers - Will Ferrell doing a non-sports movie? Awesome. (Seriously, Semi-Pro was awful.) Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly as childish best friends whose parents are about to get married? This has the potential to be Anchorman funny. I'll wait, though, because potential can only go so far.

X-Files 2 - I was too young to actually have watched the series when it was on, but given that I worship at the altar of Lost, I might just try to catch up with it. This movie is definitely going to be manna from heaven for a certain sect of people, but I don't know how well a film based on a series that ended over five years ago is going to come off to a broad audience.

(I'd also like to note at this time that on this date, a football-related family comedy directed by Fred Durst is coming out. Yes, that Fred Durst. The guy who, in the song "Rollin'", rhymed the words "here" and "here" while rapping. Yeah.)

August 1:

He's Just Not That Into You - Now, I'm not sure, but I thought the book this was based on was a self-help book. Weird source material aside, the premise screams "generic date movie", but there's some really talented people attached, so maybe there's a chance. It's good to see that Hollywood isn't exclusively reserving the summer for males ages 18-24 anymore.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor - I really enjoyed the first two Mummy films; though I know now that they were really a poor man's Indiana Jones, they're still fun. I think this'll be pretty entertaining, given that it's been quite a few years since The Mummy Returns, and so enough time has passed for this to not be a mere cash-in.

August 8:

The Pineapple Express - Would it be a stretch for me to say that, in relation to film today, "Freaks & Geeks" might be the most important television show ever? Here, we have a buddy stoner action comedy (yes!) starring James Franco and Seth Rogen, about a stoner and his friend/dealer who end up being pursued by the mob. Or something. The trailer didn't quite make sense, but it has funny one-liners, explosions and the unbelievably good M.I.A. song "Paper Planes", so this looks like a fantastic summer movie.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 - Remember that argument I made about Sex And The City? About how anyone can potentially enjoy a female-skewing film? Yeah, I'm not going to lie to you, I have no intention of being anywhere near this. Sorry.

August 15:

Star Wars: The Clone Wars - George Lucas intended this "add-on" saga as a live-action film, but decided it would work better as a cartoon. And by "decided it would work better", I mean that he probably finally realized how shitty the prequel trilogy really was. I say too little, too late, but people will be camping out for this anyway.

Tropic Thunder - This is the Downey movie I'm most psyched for this summer. Why? Well, in case you haven't seen the trailer or the teaser posters, he plays an actor who, in order to go Method on a part written for a black actor, has his skin dyed and starts quoting "The Jeffersons". Terrible? Yes. However, with him, Ben Stiller and Jack Black playing actors in a war film that get dropped into a real war zone, I'm along for the ride, political correctness be damned.

Also, sometime in August, Eli Roth's Trailer Trash is supposedly coming out, where he plans on releasing, in theaters, an hour and a half of fake trailers like the ones in Grindhouse. I couldn't be more excited.

And there you have it. Once again, don't see Meet Dave, and have a good summer!