Pre-Oscar’s Nominee Round Up

4 03 2010

As part of my pre-Oscar night flurry of watching as many movies as possible, I’ve managed to fit in quite a few films that I don’t have the mental stamina to write full-reviews for. And so, to make sure I have all my facts straight come tomorrow when I put together my list of “will win/should win” based upon the movies that I’ve actually had a chance to see. Most of these movies are also relatively old, or have been talked about left and right in the press so this reduces the risk of sounding repetitive. That being said, here we go!

UP

Directors: Pete Docter, Bob Peterson
Starring: Ed Asner, Christopher Plummer, Jordan Nagai
Release Date: May 29, 2009

One of the two 3-D movies I’ve seen in the past year, UP delivers as a feel-good children’s movie that both adults and kids can enjoy together. If I were 15 years younger, I would have enjoyed the story of an old man who tries to escape from the busyness on interruptions of city living by attaching a ton of balloons to his house and floating away with it not realizing he has a stowaway, Russel. The two travel the skies as they try to make their way to Angel Falls, where Carl, the old man, always wanted to travel with his darling wife as they sought to be like their role model, the adventurer Charles Muntz. The physical hijinks Russel and Carl encounter would have been laugh-inducing and the character of Dug, the dog, would have been lovable. Seeing it as a 23 year old (or rather, I was 22 at the time), I loved it even more. Not only did the comedy and hijinks appeal to me, but I was able to enjoy the deeper undertones of love and loss as well. The first five minutes of the film are a magical look at how love blossoms, grows, and endures and are well worth the price of admission. And exploring the visually stunning world Docter and Peterson created around the Angel Falls was a treat alongside the friendship Carl and Russel strike up. Final Verdict: Good

2010 Academy Award Nominations – Writing (Original Screenplay), Music (Original Score), Sound Editing, Animated Feature Film, Best Picture

Inglourious Basterds

Director: Quentin Tarentino
Starring: Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Melanie Laurent, Diane Kruger
Release Date: Aug. 21, 2009

Tarentino is known for his violent, uncomfortable and all-around WTF plotlines and his latest film, Inglourious Basterds, is no exception. The first scene featuring Christoph Waltz as a deliciously devilish Nazi officer conniving his way to getting what he wants during WWII set the stage for a fast-paced thriller that actually makes you think. And then, all too soon, that compelling tale dries up into the pulp medium Tarentino seems most comfortable in. The Basterds, a team of Jewish-Americans bent on raising hell in the Nazi regime, is introduced in a confused sort of way that leads viewers to ask “well, wait, who are they?” And just as they start to figure out just what it is the Basterds do as a group, Tarentino once again shifts the action to only include 5 of them. There are moments in the movie that are delectable, most notably Diane Kruger’s entrance as an actress holding her own among a group of Nazi soldiers as a few Basterds try to infiltrate the ranks as Nazi officers, and any scene with Waltz, but for the most part the movie falls flat. Had Tarentino not attempted to rewrite a huge part of history – namely, Hitler’s death – the movie would have been a darkly comical look at WWII. As it is, Pitt and co. are entertaining – and at times disturbing, as when he shoves his finger into a bullet hole to torture Kruger – but it is Waltz that carries the movie and saves it from being an abysmal failure. His supporting actor nod is well-deserved (if not head-scratching worthy – who did the academy decide was the primary actor? Pitt?), but the Best Picture nomination is sorely lacking and may be a case of the Academy needing to fill out their inflated 10 spots. Final Verdict: Mediocre

2010 Academy Award Nominations – Best Supporting Actor, Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Director, Film Editing, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Best Original Screenplay

Avatar

Director: James Cameron
Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Joel Moore
Release Date: Dec. 18, 2009

Coming in at the tail-end of the Avatar madness there’s no way I was ever going to see the movie without a preconceived notion of what I was walking into. It’s like Pocahontas in Space! It’s Fern Gully on crack!Hell, James Cameron even admitted that it’s Dances with Wolves in space! That said, there’s no way that I could have not seen it prior to the Oscars. And I had to see it in 3-D to get the full effect. Avatar is visually stunning. There is no doubt about that. The world which James Cameron created holds intrigue and wonder and I was constantly looking forward to what creature we would be introduced to next. From the six-legged horses to the scary panther who chases Jake’s Avatar and leads him to the Na’vi to the flying ikran’s and toruk the introduction of each new species was a pleasure to behold and kept things interesting in an otherwise dull story. The scenery was also spectacular. The floating mountains, the home tree, the tree of voices and the tree of souls are gorgeous and each sweeping panorama is almost as breathtaking as the next as Jake and Neytiri run through the forest at night. The plot, though, causes the film to fall a little flat. We get it, humans are bad for destroying Earth, Cameron disagrees with the war in Iraq, humans are too caught up in materialism. Yes, we had a fantastic little movie called Wall-E which reminded us of this all two years ago. Still, the love story, while predictable, was entertaining, and it was pleasant to watch Jake’s interactions with the Na’vi move from ethnocentric to familial. Final Verdict: Mediocre plot, Good Visuals

But the big question is: Did it need to be in 3-D? To an extent, the 3-D helped to capture the immensity and wonder of Pandora, but the entire movie did not need to be in 3-D. While the landscapes and battle scenes were visually compelling, the scenes in the RDA colony containing only human beings were awkward and slightly jarring. I don’t think I’d see it in 3-D again, but it might be interesting to see it in 2-D so as not to be distracted by the extra dimension.

2010 Academy Award Nominations: Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Original Score, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Visual Effects (honestly…this is a category? Just hand the award to Avatar now (up against District 9 and Star Trek)…there’s no point in even taking the time to announce it at the show) and Best Picture

Julie & Julia

Director: Nora Ephron
Starring: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci, Chris Messina
Release Date: Aug. 7, 2009

A light-hearted romp through time, Julie & Julia is probably the fluffiest of the films on this list – and that’s not saying much when you remember this list includes an animated movie. The film, based on a true story, follows Julie Powell (Amy Adams) as she works her way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking and blogging about the experience. At the same time, we’re treated to a secondary plot following Ms. Julia Child herself (Meryl Streep) as she moves to France with her husband, Paul (Stanley Tucci), and tries to find something to keep her occupied during their stay. She settles on cooking and shortly becomes one of the best cooks in her class regardless of the fact that she was supposed to fail, according to the woman running the cooking school. The two stories touch on highlights of the women’s lives as they parallel each other as Julia tries to write her book, and Julie tries to cook her way through it. Sounds like a fail-proof plot, and yet, it fails. The Julie side of the story is unbecoming of Adams, who has proven herself to be versatile as both a princess (Enchanted) and a lower class woman trying to make ends meet in a gruesome way (Sunshine Cleaning). She’s shrill, she’s whiney and she’s at times downright obnoxious which causes her husband to leave her for a few days. While this may be an excellent character study by Adams, it’s detrimental due to the fact that her character isn’t compelling at all. Who cares if Julie makes it through the cook book? Not I. And certainly not Julia Child, who had a dismissive attitude towards the Julie/Julia blog. The directors should have taken a cue from the master herself. If Julia doesn’t care, the viewer won’t either. Instead, we should have been treated to an all Julia, all the time movie. The glimpses of France are beautiful and the in-depth look at just how a cook book is produced is interesting. But it is the character interactions between Julia and Paul that truly shine. Streep falls in the role of Julia wonderfully. She perfectly captures her mannerisms and her character, and Tucci is the perfect compliment as he offsets Julia’s eccentricities with his loving, yet solid demeanor. And the food looks so appetizing. Julie Child could definitely cook and she (and Streep) proved that much better than Julie Powell ever could. Final verdict: Mediocre

2010 Academy Award Nominations: Best Actress in a Leading Role

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‘Imaginarium’ takes viewers on giddy, enjoyable ride

22 02 2010

Photo courtesy of Thescorecardreview.com

Directed by: Terry Gilliam

Starring: Heath Ledger, Christopher Plummer, Lily Cole, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell, Tom Waits, Andrew Garfield & Verne Troyer

Release Date: Jan. 9, 2010 (wide release)

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus never was going to have a chance to be a film released in its own right and judged on its own merits. From the moment the news broke that one of its main characters died from an accidental drug overdose on Jan. 22, 2008 this movie was always going to be known by its one defining factor – it’s the last movie Heath Ledger ever filmed.

And then the main question arose – What happens to a film when your star passes away with only a third of filming completed?

Filming was temporarily suspended as Gilliam quickly worked to reconfigure the script to keep Ledger’s role intact but also complete the movie.

In the end, Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell stepped into the role at different points in time during filming and the three, in an act of chivalry, donated their salaries to Ledger’s daughter, Matilda.

Once the cast details were worked out, a second question arose – Just how does four actors portraying the same character work?

And the answer to that question is – quite well.

The movie, quite obviously, surrounds Dr. Parnassus (Plummer), a man said to have seen 1,000 years, and his troupe of actors who travel London trying to entice people to enter a mirror into the world of their imagination. The troupe consists of Percy (Troyer), who has been with Parnassus since the beginning and knows his darkest secret, Anton (Garfield), a sleight of hand expert, and Valentina (Cole), Parnassus’ almost 16-year-old daughter.

And there’s the rub. Parnassus made a deal with the devil, Mr. Nick (Tom Waits) for everlasting life once upon a time, but when he was old and fragile he met the love of his life and returned to Mr. Nick for another shot at youth, which he spent with Valentina’s mother, who died in childbirth at the miraculous age of 60. But that youth came at a price and Mr. Nick was to take possession of any child Parnassus fathered upon their 16th birthday.

As his daughter is very close to this deadline, Parnassus is understandably concerned and jumps at Mr. Nick’s new wager (for they are both ever-betting men) that whoever claims 5 souls first will gain possession of Valentina.

The troupe, however, has fallen on hard times and can hardly induce people to travel into the world of their imagination – in which they are offered a choice between a challenging task which will reap a reward at a later point in time which Parnassus sets up to claim their soul or the instant gratification of offering their soul to Mr. Nick. That is, until they meet Tony (Ledger).

Tony, who eerily enough was found hanging underneath a bridge, but is not dead because he lodged a golden pipe in his trachea to keep the rope from crushing it, completely overhauls Parnassus’ show and leads the troupe to an upscale mall where he woos a wealthy lady through the mirror and follows after her to see what all the fuss is about.

And here the audience is introduced to Gilliam’s solution to Ledger’s death. As the imaginarium transforms the imagination of its first entrant into reality, Ledger’s Tony is no longer necessary. Instead, the woman has transformed Tony into Johnny Depp – who plays the role much like he plays any other slightly comedic role with a mixture of Captain Jack Sparrow, Willy Wonka and Edward Scissorhands.

Each time Tony steps into the imaginarium he becomes a different person. His second trip leaves him looking like Jude Law – who effortlessly steps in to fill Ledger’s shoes with the most organic of the “other Tony” performances – while the third presents Colin Farrell in the role – who falls into the role only a little less seamlessly than Law.

With Tony’s help, Parnassus manages to capture 4 souls, but Mr. Nick has kept up with 4 souls of his own.

Parnassus finally decides it is time to tell Valentina about her fate, which causes her to lose faith in her father and reject his side of the imaginarium. After a scuffle, she, Tony and Anton end up in the mirror together living out Tony’s fantasy and dealing with the consequences of his decisions.

The movie is beautifully staged and shot as Gilliam has an eye for design, and the sets and costumes – both of which are up for Academy Awards – add dynamic value to the message of the film.

In addition, Plummer, who’s Parnassus is overshadowed by the Ledger legacy, is wonderful as a man seeking redemption, as are Cole and Garfield in their roles which call for an innocence tinged with disbelief.

The only dull spot in the entire film is Percy, who proves that Verne Troyer might actually do his best work when he’s silent a la Mini Me in the Austin Powers series. It’s unclear whether the glaring interruptions in action each time Troyer speaks is due to his underdeveloped character or a miscast of his role, but either way his lines grate against what is otherwise a good, if not a little trippy, movie.

As a whole, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus is an astounding tribute to Heath Ledger and his acting ability. As he came off of an Oscar-winning role as The Joker in The Dark Knight it would have been easy for him to stay on the course of dark and twisted souls as Tony fits the bill as well, but he instead backs off to play Tony with an air of irony and light-heartedness as he is given what he thinks is a second chance with the troupe in the face of dismal circumstances. It is clear that he had not yet realized his full potential as an actor when he left us.

Still, Dr. Parnassus is an appropriate send-off to the man who brought us the Joker, Ennis del Mar (Brokeback Mountain), Gabriel Martin (The Patriot) and Patrick Verona (10 Things I Hate About You). Bits and pieces of each of his performances are seen through Tony and while one could pinpoint the exact moment Patrick Verona burst through in Tony’s skin it does not overpower Ledger’s final bow across the big screen.

The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus is a fantastic representation of how to incorporate multiple actors in one role, as well as a giddy jaunt into the off-kilter mind of Gilliam – who began his career as a member of Monty Python. Aside from the lackluster performance by Troyer, the film benefits from strong performances by veteran actors and new comers alike, and the brilliant colors of the imaginarium world offset the bleak and dismal London side of the performance, reminding viewers that an escape is as close as closing your eyes and passing through your own mirror.

Final verdict: Good





A Regal Blunt Is Perfect As ‘Young Victoria’

29 01 2010

Directed by: Jean-Marc Vallee

Starring: Emily Blunt, Rupert Friend, Paul Bettany, Miranda Richardson, Jim Broadbent

Release Date: Dec. 18, 2009 (limited release)

26-year-old Emily Blunt may not seem like the best actress to portray Queen Victoria as a princess and through her first few years of reign from the ages of 18-22 in the 1830s. While not completely out of her age range, the maturity reflected in Blunt’s face could seem out of place on Victoria, who lived a sheltered life under the “Kensington System” devised by her mother, the Duchess of Kent, and Sir John Conroy (her mother’s ever-present companion and supposed lover). However, from the first moment Blunt utters the line reminding us that “even a palace can be a prison” in Jean-Marc Vallee’s The Young Victoria it’s more than apparent that she will do this role justice and make Victoria sparkle.

The film, as the title suggest, follows the life of Victoria as she navigates her way through life towards the throne and love and attempts to leave the rules and regulations placed upon her by the Kensington System behind.

The system, which was supposedly put in place to protect the heir-apparent to the English throne, forbid Victoria from ever being apart from her mother, her governess or her tutor. She was not allowed to walk down steps unless she held one of her keeper’s hands and she was kept isolated from anyone whom the Duchess or Sir John felt could be influencial against their will.

Not surprisingly, when King William died and Victoria ascended to the throne she did away with the Kensington System by requesting an hour to herself and demanding that her bed be removed from her mother’s room. And, upon moving into Buckingham Palace – she was the first royal to live there – she subsequently had Sir John banned from her apartments.

But The Young Victoria is not primarily a story about the rebellion Victoria led against the system,  her mother or Sir John to become her own person. Instead, it is a coming of age story and features a brilliant love story between Victoria and her cousin Albert.

When Victoria first meets Albert, it is apparent that these two are destined for greatness – whether that be solely a part of the movie or how it truly happened in history is an unnecessary question as Hollywood is not known for it’s strictly factual historical pieces but rather for entertaining the audience. And entertaining it is. Rupert Friend looks as though he stepped out of a portrait of Prince Albert and walked on set. He imbues his character with a warmness and strength that beautifully compliments Blunt’s Victoria who is innocent and intellectual. It’s impossible not to smile as the two discuss the microscopic life she leads in terms of chess, especially when Albert suggests that she find a husband who can navigate her life with her instead of for her. They might has well have put a neon sign above his head with an arrow saying “Choose Him!,” but that doesn’t make the scene any less tender.

However, their love wouldn’t be easy as Albert was not easily accessible as he lived in Germany and Victoria needed guidance upon her ascension to Queen so she turned to Lord Melbourne (Paul Bettany). Again the writer and director seemed to flash the neon sign of “This guy is bad news!” above Lord M.’s head, but that didn’t stop Victoria’s infatuation and complete dependence on the man for a time. Albert began to feel slighted as Lord M. began to play a large factor in Victoria’s letters causing him to plan a return trip to England. He offered his services to Victoria, but she rebuked him by stating that she wasn’t ready to accept his help in her reign.

Soon after Albert offered his help, Victoria’s court was imbued in a political scandal caused indirectly by Lord M. but furthered through Victoria’s own stubbornness. Melbourne had resigned as Prime Minister and his successor wanted Victoria to dismiss some of her ladies of the bedchamber as they were all wives of Melbourne’s friends. Victoria refused as she believed the ladies to be her friends and confidants more than political advocates. Public opinion turned against her however and found her crying out to Albert for help.

The two married in 1840, three years into her reign, and Albert became her constant companion until his death in 1861.

Blunt’s Victoria and Friend’s Albert are so compelling that their love is touching. The brief glimpse into Victoria’s early life and the life she shared with Albert is frivolous at times, romantic at others and altogether enjoyable to watch for an hour and a half.

Final Grade: Good





Jersey Shore Finale & Reunion Leaves Too Much Left Unanswered

22 01 2010

Photo courtesy of Life & Style

Anyone thinking that the MTV hit reality show Jersey Shore was going to go out with a bang might have been disappointed in its finale last night. Afterall, this is the show that habitually showed the cast partying, creepin, fist pumping and hooking up so what less could the last episode of the season bring? Unfortunately, the hard partying ways were put aside in favor of a more emotional goodbye.

Everyone (except for Pauly D, unfortunately) seemed to get their time to shine during the finale. Vinny finally got The Situation back for the cottage cheese/smelly room incident, albeit not in as nasty a fashion with his “Situation’s best girl” joke; The Situation proved just how big of a man-whore he was by creepin it on a girl who may or may not have been legal; JWoww got to chase her gorillas; Snooki brought the only glimpse of a party by living it up on the boardwalk as she talked to guys; and Sammi and Ronnie dealt with being apart for the first night since they got together due to Ronnie’s stupid actions.

Seeing the aftermath of Ronnie’s arrest at the beginning of the episode was interesting, if not a little out of place. I’ve heard from other viewers that they thought last week’s episode was running long so they changed the channel. It’s understandable that MTV would want to leave Ronnie’s arrest as a cliffhanger, it didn’t make sense to use it as a lead in to the season finale — viewers were going to be watching last night no matter what.

While I’m disappointed that the cast didn’t party it up on their last night, it was nice to see them all together at the house. If they had been at a club they would have been all over the place, but them sitting down and reminiscing about the summer was a good change of pace no matter how staged or scripted it was. Ithelps that I swear the chair Vinny was sitting in was the one I picked up from St. Vincent dePaul for my old dorm room. And here’s to hoping that The Situation’s dreams of a second season,  no matter how stale the material may become over the next few months, becomes a reality.

The cast exit was also a little awkward and stilted. Did anyone else notice that Sammi didn’t actually ever leave the house? Each person was shown hugging everyone else and peacing out, but Sammi hugged Ronnie as viewers were treated to a nauseauting vignette of their short relationship in Seaside and then he leaves, but she was never shown exiting the house, though Snooki was apparently the last one there.

And then, viewers were treated to the reunion show, which begged so many questions. Why was Angelina there? What caused Sammi’s emotional breakdown? Did Ronnie and Sammi really break up?Does the cast really hate each other? They sure seemed to last night.

Angelina left on the third episode of the show. Everyone in the house seemed happy to see her leave, and viewers at home were given a lot of time to forget she even existed. Yet, yesterday she showed up on both Rachel Ray and the reunion show. Get it through your heads MTV, no one wants her at events like that. Please don’t invite her back for a second season.

And thankfully, a quick google search led to the information that Ronnie and Sammi did NOT break up for good last night, Fox411 is reporting that they’re giving it another shot here. The information isn’t suprising as Ronnie and Sammi had a pretty volatile relationship on the shore as well. They seemed to break up more times than any healthy couple should, but as they explained last night, most people don’t start living together before they start dating. Hopefully the fact that they aren’t around each other 24/7 has led to some normalcy in the relationship.

The reunion show provided some great fist pumping memories, and the unseen footage at the end only endeared me to Snooki more. I hope that we can see her Snookin’ for Love, maybe sister-station VH1 can pick that show up….

I guess all that’s left to do is wait and see what happens to our favorite Shore friends next summer, or, if you’re lucky enough to live near a club that is being graced with their presence, to hit up the club and try to get a picture with them. Anything more than a picture would probably scare me…





Series Finale of ‘Jersey Shore’ Brings Questions About Future of Show

21 01 2010

With tonight being the season finale of Jersey Shore, the so-bad-it’s-good MTV reality series phenomenon that swept the nation, it begs the question of what happens next.

Jersey Shore fever seemed to reach its peak just after Christmas and into the New Year. Its target audience was on Winter Break and could devote hours and hours to watching reruns and introducing friends to the sensation.

And then, they all went back to school or work and real life took precedence over the reality life Pauly D, The Situation, Snooki, JWoww, Vinny, Ronnie and Sammi were leading.

Sure, last week’s two episodes were enjoyable, but it seemed as though MTV had jumped the shark a bit with their previews as the most memorable moments – The Situation’s “rolls” insult and getting hit by JWoww – were well-known well before they were broadcast.

It could be considered the downside of fame. As the cast became more famous and the show picked up steam everyone seemed to want to know what they were all about. Events that happened in August and September were dredged up before they had time to air on episodes and things stopped being new.

Over the course of four episodes, the show went from ridiculously entertaining to ridiculously redundant due to fights.

Maybe I’m jaded, but the Snooki punch was a startling beginning to the violence on the show, Ronnie’s fight on the boardwalk in the next episode elevated the tension, Snooki fighting with the “hippo” and the “grenade” was hilarious, JWoww going after the Situation seemed unnecessary and Ronnie knocking a guy out in one punch was disturbing.

It’s still enjoyable watching the cast party, which seems to be about all they do other than fight, but can this style of show last past one season?

There is no inherent conflict on Jersey Shore, no reason for being. The Real World at least puts their cast members to work – which Jersey Shore did too, or at least they say they work at a t-shirt shop even though it’s been noticeably absent in the past few episodes – and Road Rules always had a task driving an episode. Even MTV’s new show The Buried Life sets a goal for each episode.

I enjoy Jersey Shore’s escape from reality as much as the next person. I’ll definitely be watching tonight and cheering the cast members on as they beat up the beat and creep it on the residents of Seaside Heights. I would love to go to a club with them and fist pump. And I’d love to see more of the cast, but what more can they do? As much as I want to see them all again, I’m worried a second season may seem stale.

Only time will tell what will happen with our favorite guidos and guidettes, though. Until then, we’ll have to enjoy the reruns MTV seems to run constantly.

And maybe we can all make it through the separation anxiety sure to be left in the wake of season one with some of the parodies people have made – Like the Little Jersey Shore.





Secrets of Pauly D’s Hair Care Revealed

15 01 2010

In the last post, I wondered how Pauly D, of MTV’s Jersey Shore, managed to get his hair so epically perfect each and every day.

Apparently the New York Daily News was wondering as well and Pauly D gave them an inside look at his hair care regimen. I’m not sure if this confirms the rumors that he uses $60 of product a week, but he is using quite a bit. His hair has more product in it in one day than mine does in an entire year!

Check it out!





Jersey Shore Proves a Delicious Dose of Entertainment

12 01 2010

The Jersey Shore Cast, L to R The Situation, Pauly D, Ronnie and Vinny; JWoww, Sammi, Snooki and the firecracker Image courtesy of Hollywoodgossip.com

Another first for The Good, the Bad and the Really Crappy– A television review!

There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the new MTV reality show “Jersey Shore.” Whether it’s Italian Americans claiming that the show demeans them, residents of the Jersey Shore claiming the cast members misrepresent what goes on at the shore or advocates crying foul over MTV’s decision to air – and then not air – the violent punch that Snooki takes in the Third episode it seems everyone has at least heard of the phenomenon.

I have to admit, I’m not normally a fan of reality tv, but I have a soft spot when it comes to MTV. I love Road Rules (which needs to come back soon, please) and the Real World/Road Rules Challenges is pure brain candy, so when I heard about Jersey Shore I had high hopes. Never in my wildest dreams could I have ever imagined. It’s fantastic, amazing, crazy, delicious and a ‘fist-pumping’ good time.

The seven cast members – which started as eight but I don’t count Angelina (as Mike “the Situation” said, she was a “half-a**ed fire cracker who fizzled out real fast and made a loud noise”) – are crazy, obnoxious and entirely too loveable. Each has an exaggerated personality that, when mixed with the others, becomes a hot mess.

Whether they’re “beatin’ up the beat” (which I so want to do with them someday!) at Karma, starting fights on the boardwalk, working their jobs at the t-shirt store, or coming together for epic family meals, this is one show that definitely gets a fist pump and a rating of so bad it’s deliciously GOOD!

If you’ve never seen the show or the cast, here’s a quick rundown of everyone:

Mike “The Situation” – is the classic “creeper” as the Jersey Shore kids call it. He’s at the shore to get ladies, and more often than not succeeds when he flashes his washboard abs. If I were to encounter this man in real life I’d probably run screaming in the other direction (prior to seeing him on the show, of course, now I’m trying to find out if he’s making appearances at clubs near me). He’s intense, as witnessed by his quotes that “it’s not a matter of if I hook up with [her], but when I decide,” but he’s loveable nonetheless as he teaches viewers about his lifestyle of GTL – Gym, Tanning, Laundry.

Nicole “Snooki” – the most likeable of the women on the show, Snooki has a deranged innocence about her. She may make a habit out of not wearing pants to a club, flashing more of her underwear than the world wants to see, and hooking up with her roommates in the hot tub, but she also shows her vulnerable side when her mom comes to visit. And then there’s the infamous punch heard round the internet when a man took a pop at Snooki in a bar one night causing her to cut her mouth and which the cast members credit as bringing them together as a family.

Pauly D – The Situation’s go-to wing man, and vice versa, as the two creep it on the ladies of Seaside Heights, NJ. He subscribes to the GTL lifestyle as well, but his hair is truly of note. It’s been rumored that he uses $60 of haircare products on it daily and it is magnificent. As he said himself, “My hair’s windproof, waterproof, soccerproof, motocycleproof. I’m not sure if my hair’s bulletproof, I’m not willin’ to try that.” How does he get to so high? What does it feel like to touch? Is it greasy? Stiff? Hard as a rock? All questions I ask myself whenever he comes on screen.

JWoww – at times her chest seems to overpower anything she says, does or wears, and she spent two episodes actively cheating on her boyfriend with Pauly D, but JWoww is fantastic. She has no qualms to telling it like it is and she becomes the go-to person for advice as Ronnie searches for guidance in his relationship with Sammi and Snooki tries to deal with the aftermath of getting punched in the face.

Ronnie – the biggest meat head of them all, Ronnie proved himself to be a juiced dude with anger management issues in the sixth episode of the season. He’s a fighter, but he’s also a lover as he and Sammi “Sweetheart” are enamored with each other. And take note when he dances, his unique style is both amazing and a little crazy. He also got one of the best quotes of the season off while he joked around with his girlfriend saying, “your Flinestone big toe,” which caused Sammi to flip out.

Sammi “Sweetheart” – Ronnie’s girlfriend, Sammi proves to be a bit nuts. When the switch flips on her personality, it flips hard, as witnessed by her unnaturally emphatic freak out to Ronnie saying she had a Flinstone toe because she “Can’t help the way her body looks!” When she’s not in all out crazy mode, Sammi has a sweetness about her that’s hard to come by from the other girls. Unlike Snooki, her sweetness isn’t due to vulnerability, though that may be because people are walking on egg shells around her so as not to flip the switch.

And finally,

Vinny – For the first four episodes I had no idea Vinny was even a cast member. I thought he was a friend who would happen to pass through a few scenes, but didn’t pay him much attention. Once I learned he was actually living in the house though, I started to take note, and apparently so did the cameras as we’ve seen a lot more of him lately. Unlike Pauly D and The Situation, Vinny doesn’t perscribe to the guido lifestyle of GTL, instead, his would go something like BPB – “basketball, pool, beach.” He’s not as awesomely crazy as the other cast members, but he provides a subdued unity to the house. He’s also apparently brilliant as he just took his LSAT and is debating going to law school.

I can see the spin-off now….Jersey Shore Crashes Harvard! I know I’d watch…would you?