Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Hitman's Bodyguard

 
Film Review by Kam Williams


Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds Grudgingly Join Forces in Unlikely-Buddies Comedy


World-class bodyguard Michael Bryce's (Ryan Reynolds) services were in great demand when a Japanese tycoon (Tsuwayuki Saotome) was executed on his watch. That botched operation ruined not only his professional reputation but his romantic relationship with Interpol agent Amelia (Elodie Yung). In fact, his career took such a hit that a couple of years later we find him homeless and reduced to chauffeuring clients around in a beat-up jalopy for a fraction of his former fee.
 
A shot at redemption and at winning back the object of his affection arrives when Amelia surreptitiously approaches him for help protecting Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson). He's the key prosecution witness in the trial underway at the International Court of Justice of Vladislav Dukhovich (Gary Oldman), an Eastern European dictator accused of committing genocide. 
 
Amelia has determined that there's a mole inside of Interpol who has compromised Kincaid's safety. So, the only hope of getting him to court alive is by hiring someone outside the organization. 
 
Trouble is Darius is no altar boy, but a vicious hit man who has murdered hundreds of people. Despite being disgusted by the assassin's grisly resume, Michael grudgingly agrees to escort him from a British prison to The Hague where he's scheduled to testify in less than 24 hours. In return for his cooperation with authorities, Darius bargained for the release of his wife Sonia (Salma Hayek) who is herself sitting behind bars for slitting a guy's throat in a gruesome bar fight. 
 
That is the point of departure of The Hitman's Bodyguard, an unlikely-buddies comedy directed by Aussie Patrick Hill (The Expendables 3). Superficially, the film unfolds like a high-octane, action adventure where a pair of protagonists prove to be impervious to harm from bullets, explosives, pyrotechnics or boat and car crashes . 
 
The production works primarily because of the palpable screen chemistry generated by veteran thespians Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds. However, it does help immeasurably that each of these indestructible characters has been somewhat humanized by their vulnerability to a fetching love interest. 
 
But the guys mostly exchange lighthearted barbs while having a close brush with death every other minute or so as they negotiate their way through a neverending gauntlet of bloodthirsty goons. 
 
An eye-popping, stunt flick chock full of implausible fight and chase scenes orchestrated in accordance with the laws of cartoon physics.




Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for graphic violence and pervasive profanity
Running time: 118 minutes
Distributor: Summit Entertainment


To see a trailer for The Hitman's Bodyguard, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4Afusxc2SM

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Mamoudou Athie

The “Patti Cake$” Interview
with Kam Williams


Mamoudou's Breakthrough Role!

Mamoudou Athie is set to play opposite Brie Larson in her directorial debut, Unicorn Store. He also can be seen in the recurring role of Grandmaster Flash in “The Get Down,” a Netflix series created by Baz Luhrmann.

Mamoudou recently starred opposite Stockard Channing in “Me & Mean Margaret,” a pilot for an NBC sitcom. On the big screen, he appeared alongside Emma Watson and Tom Hanks in The Circle, a suspense thriller based on Dave Eggers’ novel of the same name.

Mamoudou received critical acclaim for his stage debut at New York's Lincoln Center Theater opposite Diane Lane and Tony Shalhoub in The Mystery of Love and Sex. Here, the graduate of the Yale School of Drama discusses his new film, Patti Cake$, an overcoming-the-odds saga revolving around a Rubenesque, white rapper's (Danielle Macdonald) quest for superstardom.


Kam Williams: Hi Mamoudou, thanks for the interview.
Mamoudou Athie: Thank you, Kam.

KW: What interested you in Patti Cake$?
MA: In a nutshell, the script, the director and the character, particularly meeting Geremy [writer/director Geremy Jasper]. I had a sense he was going to make something special. I initially had reservations about my character, Basterd, but I just couldn't get it out of my mind. And the script is one of a kind, yet also familiar in a personal way. Had me laughing aloud as well.

KW: How would you describe the film in 25 words or less?
MA: It's a glorious underdog story with wit, charm, and verve about the illest rapper in Dirty Jerz [aka New Jersey], KIlla P [played by Danielle Macdonald] with no holds barred stunts, high octane high speed car chases, and superheroes galore. And we have 300 million Instagram and Twitter followers.

KW: How did you approach playing Basterd? Did you base him on anybody?
MA: Not on any one particular person. I took something of a dim sum approach to him. He's a mix of some people I grew up around, Geremy's thoughts and influences, for sure, and Mickey Theis, a classmate of mine from YSD [Yale School of Drama]. He's one of the most beautifully sensitive actors I've ever worked with.

KW: What message do you think people will take away from the film?
MA: Go mother-[bleep]-ing hard!

KW: Were you surprised by the performance of your co-star, Danielle Madonald?
MA: Nah, I knew she'd totally slay it after I heard her first track. But when I heard that first track, yes -- I was surprised. That was amazing!

KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What was the last song you listened to?
MA: May've been "Stunt Queen" by Bloc Party or Arcade Fire's "Infinite Content."

KW: Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?
MA: I don't know . It's kind of a medley, but what sticks out the most is going to the park and zoo with my family and my holographic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle TV. It was half an inch and actually for my action figures, but I loved it more.

KW: Was there a meaningful spiritual component to your childhood?
MA: Sure!

KW: Who loved you unconditionally during your formative years?
MA: My family.

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
MA: Eggs... I'm lazy..

KW: The Morris Chestnut question: Was there any particular moment in your childhood that inspired you to become the person you are today?
MA: Again, I'm not sure if there was one particular moment, but I'm almost positive my parents have never lied while I've been alive. So they certainly set the bar for morals. I've lied though. Sorry, Moppa.

KW: Sherry Gillam would like to know what is the most important life lesson you've learned so far?
MA: Hmm... I can't say it's THE most important as it's hard to rate these things, but certainly being honest is a good way to sleep well at night. Learned that verrrrrry early. [Chuckles]

KW: What was your very first job?
MA: Cutting grass. I worked at the National Shrine in DC for a spell in 10th grade.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
MA: Depends on the day!

KW: What's the craziest thing you've ever done?
MA: Sorry, I didn't hear that question. Next!

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
MA: Instant worldwide utopia.

KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
MA: Excess napping and snacking. Shame.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
MA: [LOL] No. That's funny to imagine, though. I'm thinking of a person in an interview wondering, "I wish they'd ask me about this!" while quietly fuming internally.

KW: Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you'd like to star in?
MA: No! There are so many stories that have yet to be told. New content! Infinite content!

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?
MA: The usual.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Mamoudou, and best of luck with Patti Cake$.
MA: Thank you so much, Kam.

To see a trailer for Patti Cake$, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L-591Dqa48g

Alien: Covenant

 
Blu-ray Review by Kam Williams

9th Episode in the Sci-Fi Series Certain to Scare the Living Daylights Out of You

Alien: Covenant is the 9th episode in the enduring, sci-fi franchise launched back in 1979, provided you count the trio of Alien vs. Predator spinoffs. This installment is a sequel to Prometheus (2012) which devoted fans know was a prequel to the original. Covenant was directed by the legendary Ridley Scott who also made the first and the previous picture in the series.

As the futuristic tale unfolds, we find the spaceship Covenant hurtling through the ether on a mission to colonize a distant star with its cargo of 2,000 cryogenic humans and 1,140 frozen embryos. The crew, under the command of Captain Jacob Branson (James Franco), is composed of seven couples plus a state-of-the-art android named Walter (Michael Fassbender).

Before they reach their destination, the vessel is damaged by a "shock wave generated by a neutrino burst from a solar flare," whatever that pretentious, scientific jargon means. The upshot is that the accident conveniently dovetails with the arrival of mysterious radio signals that appear to be human in nature.

Curiosity gets the better of them, and they divert the crippled craft to the source of the transmissions, an uncharted planet nearby. Against their better judgment, they dispatch an expedition team to the surface to determine whether the place is habitable and might thus serve as a substitute settlement spot for their hibernating pod people. 
 
Unfortunately, the intrepid explorers are blissfully unaware that they're being contaminated by a monstrous, microscopic virus that can enter a body through any open orifice. After a brief gestation period, the opportunistic infection drains the hosts of their vitality while simultaneously morphing into the drooling, gelatinous, man-eating creatures long associated with the Alien adventures. 
 
This doesn't bode well for the Covenant, and what ensues is a high burn-rate affair in which crew members are gradually picked off one-by-one, with each succumbing to a demise a little more grisly than the last. To paraphrase, the franchise's immortal, inaugural tagline: In space, no one can still hear you scream, or save you from a body-snatching chestburster either. 

A blood-curdling sequel and worthy addition to the series certain to scare the living daylights out of you! 


Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for violence, profanity, sexuality, nudity and bloody images
Running time: 122 minutes
Distributor: Distributor: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: Audio commentary by Ridley Scott; a dozen deleted and extended scenes; Meet Walter; Phobos; The Last Supper; The Crossing; Advent; Master Class: Ridley Scott; theatrical trailers; and David’s illustrations.

To see a trailer for Alien: Covenant, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H0VW6sg50Pk

To order a copy of the Alien: Covenant Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, visit:  

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Top Ten DVD List for August 15, 2017

by Kam Williams


This Week’s DVD Releases

Everything, Everything [Bubble Girl Courted by Boy Next-Door]

Bluebeard [South Korean Suspense Thriller]

Murdoch Mysteries: Season 10 [Police Drama Set in Toronto in the Gay Nineties]

Alien: Covenant [Ridley Scott Returns to Direct Storied Sci-Fi Series]

Britney Ever After [Britney Spears Biopic]

Mickey and the Roadster Racers [Start Your Engines]

Hickok [Legendary Wild Bill Hickok Western]

Baby Steps [Gay Asian Coming Out Dramedy]

Digimon Adventure Tri: Determination [Dubbed Version of Popular Anime Movie]

How to Be a Latin Lover [Jilted Gigolo Seduces Wealthy Widow]



Honorable Mention

The Blacklist: Season Four [Crime Thriller TV Series]

Revolting Rhymes [Based on Classic Tales by Roald Dahl]

Once upon a Time in Venice [Purloined Pooch Whodunit]



Everything, Everything



Blu-ray Review by Kam Williams


Adaptation of Bittersweet Best Seller Arrives on Home Video

It's Maddy Whittier's (Amandla Stenburg) 18th birthday, but she won't be celebrating the occasion at a party or restaurant. In fact, she won't be leaving the house or even having friends over anytime soon. 
 
That's because she has SCID, a rare genetic disorder that basically makes her allergic to everything. Consequently, she's been stuck inside a hermetically-sealed house since being diagnosed with the disease at the age of 3, shortly after her father and brother's untimely deaths in a terrible car crash.

Lucky for Maddy, her mom, Pauline (Anika Noni Rose), is a physician who could afford to raise her in a luxurious, if sterile, environment free of the germs that could compromise her immune system in an instant. Although Maddy grew up curious about the outside world, she's gotten used to exploring it over the internet with the help of online courses and a support group for kids with her sickness. 
 
Then, Maddy receives the best birthday gift she could ever imagine when new neighbors move in right next-door. For, one member of the family, Olly (Nick Robinson), is a boy about her own age. And all it takes is a glance through the glass window for the handsome hunk to fall head-over-heels in love with her. 
 
The ardent admirer uses sign language to ask Maddy for her phone number, before typing "U R beautiful" in his very first text. Olly's zeal only increases upon learning about her crippling affliction, and he asks if there's any way he could be decontaminated to come over for a visit. 
 
But that's against doctor's orders, especially mom's, which forces the lovebirds to admire each other from afar. Hormones raging, Maddy is suddenly discontent with her sheltered existence in an antiseptic gilded cage. 
 
Will she recklessly abandon the protective bubble to rush into the arms of a perfect Prince Charming she barely knows? That is the burning question at the heart of Everything, Everything, a bittersweet, bildungsroman based on the young adult novel by Nicola Yoon. The picture was directed by Stella Meghie who successfully adapted the book into a syrupy soap opera certain to satisfy fans of the source material. 
 
A tender enough tearjerker to dehydrate even this crabby curmudgeon!


Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for mature themes and brief sensuality
Running time: 96 minutes
Distributor: Warner Brothers Home Entertainment Group
Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: Trapped in Love: The Story of Everything, Everything; and deleted scenes.



To see a trailer for Everything, Everything, visit:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42KNwQ6u42U


To order a copy of the Everything, Everything Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack , visit:

Friday, August 11, 2017

In This Corner of the World


 
Film Review by Kam Williams




Evocative Anime Chronicles WWII from Hiroshima Native's Point-of-View


On August 6, 1945, President Truman took to the radio to announce that "the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base." Truth be told, only about 15% of the 140,000 people killed by the blast were Japanese soldiers. Nevertheless, the history books have routinely ignored the fact that the vast majority of the casualties were civilians, in favor of crediting the Manhattan Project, a top secret scientific project, for the mammoth explosion hastening the conclusion of World War II. 
 
If you've ever wondered what it might've been like to live in Hiroshima before it was vaporized, submitted for your approval is In This Corner of the World, an evocative anime presented from the perspective of a young woman born and raised in the ill-fated city. The poignant tale covers over a dozen years in the life of Suzu Urano (Rena Nouren), an aspiring artist with a vivid imagination. 
 
The story unfolds in 1933, when we find her dream of drawing as a vocation frustrated by her having to work in the family seaweed business. That hope grows even fainter after the outbreak of the war when resources become rationed and just finding pencils to doodle with proves to be an exercise in futility. 
 
The plot thickens when she is courted by Shusaku (Yoshinasa Hosaya), a sailor from a neighboring seaport called Kure. After they wed, she relocates to the city, and resides with his family for the duration of the hostilities. 
 
That means she's away from her hometown on the fateful day that it's blown to smithereens. Nevertheless, she's deeply affected, as so many people and places dear to her heart disappear in an instant. 
 
A timely morality play, indeed, given the dire apocalyptic threats currently being traded between the unhinged leaders of America and North Korea.



Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for mature themes and war images
Running time: 129 minutes
Production Studio: Mappa / Genco
Distributor: Shout! Factory


To see a trailer for In This Corner of the World, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaRqwKfMlKU


Annabelle: Creation


Film Review by Kam Williams


Demonic Doll Haunts Yet Another House in Prequel to "The Conjuring" Franchise

Annabelle: Creation is the fourth film in a horror franchise that previously featured The Conjuring 1 and 2 as well as Annabelle. Because this prequel is set in 1952, well before the events which transpired in the others, one need not be familiar with those pictures to thoroughly enjoy this one, provided you like having the bejesus scared out of you. 
 
The stand-alone screamfest trades in all the staples of your generic haunted house adventure, ranging from a spooky disembodied voice singing a cappella, to involuntary levitation, to a victim leaving nail marks in the floor as she's dragged down a darkened hall by a mysterious force. The movie was directed by David F. Sandberg, the Swedish wunderkind who made an impressive debut just last year with the low-budget thriller Lights Out.

As the film unfolds, we find dollmaker Samuel Mullins (Anthony LaPaglia) and his reclusive, bed-ridden wife, Esther (Miranda Otto), passing their days in a ramshackle, Victorian mansion sitting on a mountaintop in the middle of nowhere. They're ostensibly still shaken by the loss of their daughter Bee (Samara Lee) who was hit by a car over a decade ago. 
 
That might explain why the inconsolable couple has decided to share their humble abode with a half-dozen orphans. The homeless girls are being chaperoned by Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman), a God-fearing guardian grateful to get a roof over their heads. 
 
The waifs are pretty much given free rein of the place, except for a direct order from Mr. Mullins to steer clear of Bee's bedroom. But that injunction proves too tempting for Janice (Talitha Bateman), a curious kid suffering from polio. 
 
Of course, she ventures inside and unwittingly unleashes a host of demonic forces doing the bidding of Annabelle, a doll Samuel had originally made for his dearly-departed daughter. It isn't long thereafter that all hell begins to breaks loose. 
 
Director Sandberg proves particularly adept at ratcheting up the tension. In fact, the spine-tingling flick delivers innumerable heart-stopping moments along the way, though they come more from jolting sounds and abrupt edits than from investment in the simplistically-drawn characters. 
 
Ask if they'll sell you a ticket for half a seat, since you'll never bother to sit back during this edge-of-your-seat thriller."



Very Good (3 stars)
Rated R for horror violence and terror
Running time: 109 minutes
Production Company: New Line Cinema / Atomic Monster
Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures


To see a trailer for Annabelle: Creation, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KisPhy7T__Q



Thursday, August 10, 2017

Kam's Kapsules for movies opening August 18, 2017

 
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun 
by Kam Williams

OPENING THIS WEEK

BIG BUDGET FILMS

The Hitman's Bodyguard (R for graphic violence and pervasive profanity) Unlikely-buddies comedy about an ace bodyguard (Ryan Reynolds) who grudgingly helps a notorious assassin (Samuel L. Jackson) negotiate a dangerous gauntlet en route to the Hague where he's set to testify in 24 hours at the International Court of Justice. Co-starring Gary Oldman, Salma Hayek and Elodie Yung.

Logan Lucky (PG-13 for profanity and crude comments) Oscar-winner Steven Soderbergh (for Traffic) comes out of retirement after four years to direct, shoot and edit this comic crime caper revolving around two brothers (Channing Tatum and Adam Driver) who hatch a plan to pull a heist at the Charlotte Motor Speedway during NASCAR's Coca -Cola 600 car race Ensemble cast includes Daniel Craig, Hilary Swank, Seth MacFarlane, Katie Holmes, Dwight Yoakam and Riley Keough.

Patti Cake$ (R for crude sexual references, drug use, pervasive profanity and a brief nude image) Overcoming the odds saga, set in Lodi, New Jersey, revolving around a Rubenesque rapper's (Danielle Macdonald) quest for superstardom. With Bridget Everett, Siddharth Dhanajay, Mamoudou Athie and Cathy Moriarty.


INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN FILMS

Crown Heights (R for profanity, sexuality, nudity and violence) Miscarriage of justic drama recounting the real-life ordeal of Colin Warner (Lakeith Stanfield) who was sentenced to life in 1980 for a murder he didn't commit. With Nnamdi Asomugha, Bill Camp and Yil Vazquez.

Dave Made a Maze (Unrated) Nick Thune plays the title character in this horror comedy about an artist who ends up trapped in his living room inside a booby-trapped fort of his own making. With Kristen Vangsness, John Hennigan and Stephanie Allynne.

Gook (Unrated) Racial strife saga, set in South Central L.A. in the wake of the Rodney King verdict, revolving around the attempt of a couple of Korean-American brothers (Justin Chon and David So) to protect their shoe store from rioters with the help of a street-wise, 11 year-old black girl (Simone Baker). Cast includes Ben Munoz, Curtiss Cook, Jr. and Chris Jai Alex.

Lemon (Unrated) Midlife crisis dramedy about a struggling actor-turned-drama teacher (Brett Gelman) whose world falls apart after he's dumped by his blind girlfriend of ten years (Judy Greer). With Nia Long, Fred Melamed and Michael Cera.

The Queen of Spain (Unrated) Penelope Cruz stars in this sequel to her 1998 film, Girls of Your Dreams. Follow up finds her character returning to Spain from Hollywood to star in a movie about Queen Isabella. Supporting cast includes Antonio Resines, Neus Asensi and Ana Belen. (In English and Spanish with subtitles)

Shot Caller (R for graphic violence, drug use, brief nudity and pervasive profanity) Crime thriller about a recently paroled DUI convict (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) who finds himself pressured to pull a big heist by the gang that protected him while behind bars. With Omari Hardwick, Benjamin Bratt, Emory Cohen and Lake Bell.

Sidemen: Long Road to Glory (Unrated) Reverential retrospective taking a fond look at the careers of pianist Pinetop Perkins, guitarist Hubert Smith and drummer Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, members of the unsung band that backed up such blues legends Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. Narrated by Marc Maron, and featuring commentary by Bonnie Raitt, Eric Clapton and Greg Allman.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul

 
Blu-ray Review by Kam Williams


Franchise Reboot Revolves around Road Trip from Hell


According to Murphy's Law, "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong." And Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul provides cinematic support for that pessimistic principle. For, this kitchen sink comedy relies on the domino effect to exacerbate the ever-mounting misfortunes visited upon the beleaguered Heffley family over the course of one disastrous, summer road trip.
The film is the fourth in the series based on Jeff Kinney's illustrated children's novels. It was directed by David Bowers who also made Wimpy Kid 2 and 3. 
 
It's understandable that the youngsters from the original might have aged out of their roles, though it's a bit of a surprise that the movie features an entirely new cast, starting with Jason Drucker as the title character, Wimpy Greg Heffley. Alicia Silverstone and Tom Everett Scott play his parents, Susan and Frank, while Charlie Wright and Dylan Walters assume the roles of his older and younger brothers, Rodrick and Manny, respectively. 
 
The premise of Wimpy Kid 4 revolves around a cross-country family outing to attend grandma's 90th birthday party. The catch is that Susan envisions the drive as an opportunity to share quality time, so she collects everybody's cell phone devices before departing. 
 
This frustrates her fidgety brood who prove clueless without electronic devices. So Rodrick calls her "the worst mom ever" and sticks a "kidnapped" sign in the rear window which leads to their being pulled over by the police. 
 
Subsequent eventful stops range from an overnight stay in a motel with rats in the pool to a visit to a country fair where Manny wins a live piglet as a prize. The humor flowing from the escalating insanity is mostly of the bodily function variety: with farts, feces, burps and barfing being real crowd-pleasers. 
 
Every skit is designed to keep the target audience of tykes and tots in stitches, with only occasional asides for adults, such as the inspired homage to Psycho's legendary shower scene. 
 
Altogether, a delightfully-mindless diversion for the pre-teen demographic!


Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG for rude humor
Running time: 91 minutes
Distributor: Distributor: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack Extras: Bonus copy of the original Diary of a Wimpy Kid; Making a Scene; Greg Heffley’s 10 Rules for the Perfect Road Trip; Road Games; Learn To Draw; A Decade of Wimpy Fun;
bloopers and deleted Scenes; deleted animation; and Haulin’ Through Georgia.




To see a trailer for Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nlI3Ykm3HV4

To order a copy of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack, visit:  









Monday, August 7, 2017

George Lopez

The “I Am Battle Comic” Interview
with Kam Williams


Comedy Icon Talks about Entertaining the Troops on Overseas Tour

George Lopez’s multi-faceted career has encompassed standup comedy, TV series, feature films, and hosting and guest appearances on television. For two seasons, he starred on TBS' "Lopez Tonight," a late-night television talk show. 
 
Previously, he co-created, wrote, produced and stared on the groundbreaking sitcom "George Lopez," which enjoyed a six season-run on ABC. The series remains a hit with viewers in syndication on both broadcast stations and cable’s Nick at Nite.

In 2006, George received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In addition, Time magazine has named him one of the 25 Most Influential Hispanics in America.

Here, he talks about his new movie, I Am Battle Comic, a concert film about a tour he and 13 other comedians took overseas to entertain troops stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Bahrain.


Kam Williams: Hi George, I'm honored to have this opportunity to speak with someone so successful at standup, with a sitcom and hosting your own talk show. Just mastering one of those would be very impressive, but accomplishing all three is quite a phenomenal feat.
George Lopez: Well, thanks Kam. Let me say that this is the best start of any interview that I've ever had.

KW: I'm not even factoring in your challenging childhood where your migrant farm worker father abandoned your mom when you were a toddler. And then she left you to be raised by her parents. That makes your success utterly implausible.
GL: Thank you. You know, my grandmother's been gone since 2009. She had dementia since about 2005. It was very painful to watch. My grandfather passed in '88. So much time has passed that, when I think of him, it's so far back, it feels almost like a silent movie. He's gone so long that I can't remember ten things we did together. Just maybe one or two.

KW: I'm sorry to hear that.
GL: Still, when I reflect on my life, I wouldn't change one thing. I feel that like in the movie Slumdog Millionaire, everything has a purpose. I believe that everything that happens to you is currency for you down the line. Now, it all makes sense.

KW: What interested you in I Am Battle Comic? I don't remember ever crying so much while watching a standup comedy film. It was really moving.
GL: That project is amazing. I've known [co-star] Don Barnhart forever, and Bob Kubota, Jordan Brady and all those other comedians, a long, long time, too. In the movie, they talk about Bob not being successful after almost 30 years in the business. But you know what? If you're going to war zones to entertain the troops, you are successful. The culture may put a superficial value on celebrity, and associate success with fame. But success really has much more to do with your character and behavior beyond the limelight. It,s not only successful, but honorable, for those guys to go over there to entertain the troops in such dangerous conditions.

KW: How do you tweak your standup act when performing for G.I.'s?
GL: It has to be clean, and there a certain subjects you need to avoid, like jokes complaining about how hard your own life is, because their lives are at risk 24/7. But it's pretty easy to make the adjustment. Normally, the #1 worry of any standup comedian is: how am I going to do? But that doesn't matter when you're performing on a military base in a war zone. Your just showing up is greatly appreciated. That's an unspoken standing ovation. Since I had the TV shows, I've been getting a lot of letters from soldiers asking for autograph pictures or this and that. And I've always sent stuff to them. So, when I show up in person, they can't believe I'm there, and they're 're so appreciative of that that there's no need to worry about how much I make them laugh.

KW: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier asks: Has there been any soldier you really connected with?
GL: Sure. One from years ago was a corporal serving in Afghanistan named David Wheat. He'd been burned over 90% of his body after being ejected from a tank and landing in a pool of fuel. I went to visit him while he was recuperating in the hospital He was burned worse than anyone I've ever seen. I gave him my email and we've stayed in touch ever since.

KW: Patricia was also wondering whether your visits change the mood of the soldiers you entertain?
GL: Of course, by taking them away from themselves for a couple of hours or so. During that time, they're not thinking about how dangerous their their situation is, people they miss back home, or lost comrades. The show is an escape, much like going to the movies.

KW: And she asks: What did you take away from going on these tours?
GL: That's a great question, Patricia, because the country is so divided today, not only racially, but between the right and the left. I get a ton of messages from right-wing people who don't like my ethnicity or my political views. But before this current administration, no one ever told me they didn't think I was funny. What I take away from performing for the troops is that their service gives me the freedom to express myself in whatever way feels right for me.

KW: The country is so divided and internet trolls have become so snarky and hateful, I wonder where the world is headed.
GL: Kam, I've been doing standup for 38 years, and I've never seen it like this. Freedom is supposed to mean being able to express yourself. But now, inside this freedom ball, you have people pointing fingers, which is actually anti-freedom, and anti-American. I get hostile messages every day on Instagram, like "Go back to Mexico!" How am I going to go back to Mexico. I'm not from Mexico. But I never started hearing stuff like that until a couple of years ago And I get it every day now.

KW: That's so sad.
GL: It's amazing that someone needs to take time out of their life to wish me bad. And they don't seem to be able to separate humor from reality or to look any deeper than the immediacy of whatever that message is.

KW: Patricia's last question is: Did you have a role model who when you were young who made you believe that the sky was the limit?
GL: Yeah, my high school baseball coach, Steve Marden. When I quit the team my senior year, we went nose-to-nose. He called me a quitter and told me I'd never achieve anything in life, because I was a quitter. Then, when I was an aspiring standup comic, it dawned on me that he was right. And years later, I went back to the school to apologize to him for wasting his time. I said, "You were right, and I had to come and tell you I'm sorry, because I did eventually understand what you were trying to teach me." He appreciated it, and would call me whenever he saw me on TV, and ask, "How's my 3rd baseman!"

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?
GL: I always carry an amulet from the Chinese Year of the Ox, that a fan gave me after a show in 2002. She said that it would bring me good luck, if I always kept with me.

KW: Thanks again for the time, George, and best of luck with the film.
GL: It's been a pleasure, Kam.

To see a trailer for I Am Battle Comic, visit:: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1e9Jg0-tOJ8



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