Archive for the ‘Reviews’ category

Three Jars and a Bottle of Jersey

January 27, 2017

Hard to believe, but it’s been nearly four years since I left my beloved New Jersey. Since then, I’ve collected numerous things to remind me of the Armpit of America and comfort me as I get nostalgic for the state’s litter-strewn highways, chemical vapor-filled skies and golden but dirty shores. So join me as I break into four cherished mementos, in the form of Jersey-flavored tomatoes, alcohol and wax!

Jar #1 – Ethnic Cottage Jersey Tomato Sauce

tomato-sauce

Purveyors of internationally flavored products like Indian and Thai sauces, Ethnic Cottage decided to cover a new ethnicity, Jersey-Italian, with its line of four Jersey tomato sauces, including the pictured marinara. I was pretty surprised by the ingredient list, comprised of just tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, salt and seasonings, and no sugar, no chemicals and no weird thickeners. The result is a great tasting sauce that tastes like some little Italian grandmother made it herself. Sure, if you like your tomato sauce to be overly sweet and salty, you might not enjoy this. But if you want a tomato sauce without any weird additives and in which you can actually taste every individual ingredient, give Ethnic Cottage a try! (more…)

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Movie Review: Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives!

January 17, 2015

Almost two years ago, I took one for the team and watched – and reviewed – the craptacular movie known as Eddie and the Cruisers, the 1983 film about a fictitious Jersey Shore band that was a complete rip-off of Mr. Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band. Though I was less than impressed with the movie and its dumb plot, it did capture the spirit of the Jersey Shore pretty well. And though I swore back then that I’d never watch it again, I did feel compelled to watch its sequel, 1989’s Eddie and the Cruisers II: Eddie Lives! – admittedly for no other reason than to have something to blog about.

To understand this film, I’ll first give a brief recap of its predecessor. Back in 1963, we’re introduced to singer/guitarist Eddie Wilson and his band, the Cruisers. They play the Jersey Shore bar scene, make an album, and get popular. Then they make a second album, but the record label didn’t like it, so the overly sensitive Eddie freaks out and steals the tapes, hides them, and kills himself. After an excessively long and drawn out plot, which hints that Eddie could have possibly faked his own death, his former bandmates find the lost tapes and sell them to the record label.

Fast-forward 20 years to when Eddie and the Cruisers II: Cruise Control takes place, and the band’s music is more popular than ever. That makes things weird for a particular construction worker in Canada who – spoiler alert – is really Eddie! Turns out he didn’t kill himself and just wanted to escape the spotlight by taking a blue-collar job in some alternate version of Montreal where no one speaks French and everyone has an American accent. To blend in, all Eddie has to do is grow out a pornstache and change his name to Joe West, and no one has a clue about his former identity.

Eddie looking just like a porn star...or gym teacher

Eddie looking just like a porn star…or gym teacher

However, his little secret is getting harder to keep. Not only did the record label release the album that they originally hated, but they also released the super secret tapes that Eddie recorded without his Cruisers. So, now that his music is all over the radio (and discussed on TV by special guest stars Martha Quinn of MTV fame and a rather spry 1989 version of Larry King), Eddie’s tough exterior is starting to crack. He even confides in his new love interest, Diane, about his real self. (more…)

Movie Review: “Jersey Shore Shark Attack”

July 13, 2014

Two years ago, the Syfy network, purveyors of such cinematic classics as Sharktopus, Dinocroc vs. Supergator, and Mongolian Death Worm, premiered its newest masterpiece, Jersey Shore Shark Attack. Somehow, I didn’t see this gem until last night. In all honestly, it was as bad as you would probably expect, but I did the dirty work of watching this literal horror show so you don’t have to.

The movie follows the wacky hijinks of a group of overtanned, oversexed 20-somethings living together in a house in Seaside Heights. If it sounds like MTV’s Jersey Shore, that was intentional – the main characters are directly inspired by the cast of that show: you have The Complication (The Situation), Nooki (Snooki), J-MONI (JWoww), Donnie (Ronnie), etc. And just like the show, they’re obsessed with drinking, fighting, sexing and creating their own stupid abbreviations; rather than GTL, the guys proclaim how they are going to go out for some ASS – Alcohol, Sun, and Sex.

And while our gang is just trying to have fun, there are some significant wrenches thrown into what is supposed to be a carefree summer at the Jersey Shore. Some real estate developer wants to create a luxury country club and displace the guido population, they get into some brawls with preppy rich kids, and, worst of all, there is a school of rabid albino sharks prowling the water. And that’s pretty much the entire plot. Oh yeah – I forgot about another aspect of the movie – everyone’s looking forward to the “big” 4th of July concert by former *NSYNCer Joey Fatone, who plays himself in the film. Don’t know how they dug him up – I guess JC Chasez must have been busy that day.

Anyway, the whole movie is like a bad combination of Jersey Shore and Jaws. Some scenes are even almost exact replications of scenes from the latter. Like when local fishermen catch a shark, though not necessarily the shark, and everyone thinks it’s safe to be in the water. Or when the police chief desperately tries to convince the mayor to close the beach on the 4th of July. But as Jaws itself was based on real New Jersey shark attacks (that occured in my hometown), I guess that can be forgiven. There are also elements of dumb high school shows like 90210 or Saved By the Bell; you have the rivalry with the preppy kids, the local hangout of Captain Sallie’s bar (akin to the Peach Pit or the Max) and Captain Sallie himself who serves as a mentor to the gang (just like Nat or Mr. Belding).

And then there are the effects, which I refuse to call special. These supposed blood-thirsty sharks are rendered as crappy CGI fish with faces that look like the cave trolls from Lord of the Rings. They even make the fake shark from Jaws look real. Moreover, the characters constantly refer to the sharks having red eyes – but the effects people obviously missed this detail. Also consider how our gang tries to kill the sharks by throwing fireworks at them – fireworks that somehow remain lit under water in some weird SpongeBob SquarePants type of logic.

No wonder the effects sucked; half the budget went to fake tanner and earrings.

When all this is combined with a cast of bad actors with over the top New York accents, a few too many Italian stereotype jokes and a cameo by Jersey Shore’s Vinnie (playing a news reporter as unconvincingly as you might expect), this movie just sucks. And no, not in a “so bad it’s good” kind of way. It sucks in that you find yourself rooting for the ugly CGI sharks to just eat the entire cast already. Unfortunately you have to wait two hours to see that they all survive.

Like this review? Check out my other movie reviews for Eddie and the Cruisers and Killer Klowns from Outer Space, or my recap of the classic Jersey Shore episode of South Park!

Bar + Arcade = Barcade!

May 4, 2013

Yeah I live in Lawn Guyland now, but that doesn’t mean I can’t still write about the place I lived for 29 years, right?

Well I was back in my home state last weekend after making the trip to the Paris of the Armpit of America, AKA, Jersey City.  What I didn’t count on was this journey including an extra 45 minutes of driving around looking for parking. Anyway, the trip was well worth the effort, as the plan was to head to a bar I’d never heard of until that night: Barcade.

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Movie Review: Eddie and the Cruisers

February 10, 2013

eddieWow it’s been a while.  Between long days at work, a hurricane, and more long days at work, I haven’t been able to blog as much as I’d like.  But last night I saw a movie that got my bloggy juices flowing again: 1983’s Eddie and the Cruisers.

Let me start by saying this isn’t the greatest movie, not by a long shot. It moves incredibly slow, it’s impossible to identify or sympathize with the characters, and the plot is kinda dumb.  So why blog about it?  Because the movie takes place in New Jersey!

Starring a young and fresh-faced Ellen Barkin (before she became an old yet still oddly fresh-faced Ellen Barkin), and a bunch of no-name character actors from the 80s, the film tells the story of Jersey Shore bar band, Eddie and the Cruisers.  Though briefly successful in 1963, the band disbanded when lead singer Eddie Wilson seemingly committed suicide after the record label refused to release their second album, because it sucked.  Eighteen years later, with the re-release of the band’s premier album, Eddie and the Cruisers are more popular than ever.

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Drinking the Jersey Shore

December 18, 2011

It tastes like burning...and Snooki

Due to a certain show on MTV, the Jersey Shore is more popular than ever.  To appease a public hungry for all things Jersey Shore and to capitalize on it, companies are selling anything related to the shore in one way or another.  So, this holiday season, you can buy the guido-wannabes in your life all sorts of Jersey Shore merchandise, like ornaments and perfume.  Just put the words “Jersey Shore” on something, and you’ll have a bunch of idiots willing to by it.

I am one of those idiots.

While at the liquor store the other night looking for something to bring to a Chanukah party, I saw a bumper-sticker-like Jersey Shore label stuck on a bottle of vodka.  Being the fanboy that I am, I snatched it up and brought it to the register without giving a second thought.  After taking it home, I realized that some things are worth deliberating.  Jersey Shore branded vodka is one of those things.

This Jersey Shore vodka has nothing to do with the MTV show of the same name.  It doesn’t really have much to do with the real Jersey Shore either.  Though the perimeter of the label is lined with the names of various party towns on the Jersey Shore, there is one glaring mistake.  Among all the locations known for their bars and crazy nightlife, like Seaside, Pt. Pleasant, Wildwood, and Belmar, appears Spring Lake, a town known for rich old people and little else.  Why Spring Lake would be included on a bottle of vodka is beyond me. (more…)

Killer Klowns from Outer Space: A Review

October 31, 2011

This Halloweekend, I had the pleasure of watching what is obviously the best movie ever, Killer Klowns from Outer Space.  As the name implies, this 1988 film is about a bunch of clown-like aliens who land on Earth and kill everyone in sight.  With a premise like that, what’s not to love?  Anyway, about five minutes into the movie, I knew I’d have to write about it.  But how would such a review fit in on a blog about New Jersey?

As the movie progressed, it hit me.  Killer Klowns from Outer Space may very well take place right here in the Armpit of America.  The evidence?  Well, although the movie is set in the fictional town of Crescent Cove, the characters make reference to neighboring Marlboro, a prominent town in central Jersey.  Also, if clown aliens ever really came to Earth to kill as many people as possible, it only makes sense that they’d land in New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the country.  Besides, it wouldn’t be the first time an evil clown has wreaked havoc in New Jersey…

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