Theatre Review “Million Dollar Quartet” Kansas City, Missouri

“Million Dollar Quartet”
Starlight Theater
Kansas City, Missouri
May 22, 2015

Our score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

On December 4, 1956 the stars aligned as they never would again. That day, Carl Perkins and his band walked into Sun Records, located at 706 Union Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee, with the intent on recording a new hit. Carl’s choice of song was a rocking version of a song called “Matchbox.” Sun’s owner, Sam Phillips, had his latest act, a young boy named Jerry Lee Lewis, sit in to play piano during the session. Later that day, Johnny Cash rolled in to see Perkins (though in his autobiography Cash maintains that he was the first one there that day). Even later, the studio is graced by Elvis Presley and his current girl. As the musicians relaxed they began what turned into a (46) song jam session. Rumor is that Phillips called a friend at the newspaper, who came by and captured a legendary photo of the session. The next day that photo appeared in the paper, dubbing the boys the “Million Dollar Quartet.”

Heavy on classic songs and buoyed by the energy of it’s cast, the current touring production of “Million Dollar Quartet,” which played at Starlight this weekend, is a show that will have you out of your seats and into your dancing shoes. The enthusiasm is brought on by the strong performances of the cast. As Carl Perkins, Gabe Bowling carries the bulk of the musical load, with his outstanding guitar playing and vocals. He gives Perkins a small chip on his shoulder, one brought about by Presley having sung “Blue Suede Shoes” (which Perkins wrote and which was his first big hit) on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Scott Moreau does a fine job mimicking Johnny Cash’s musical style, though his vocals seemed uneven on some spots. As Presley, young Jacob Rowley nails the King’s vocals and mannerisms perfectly. I was shocked to learn that he is only 19 years old. For someone who wasn’t born until almost two decades after Presley passed, his performance was amazing. The highlight performance, for me, Colte Julian as the precocious Jerry Lee Lewis. Playing the piano in Lewis’ patented “let it all hang out” style, Julian hit all the right notes, both musically and with a great sense of humor. In a non-musical role, Bryan Langlitz, as Sam Phillips, keeps the show moving through his narration.

Where as a lot of the music sung during the original get together was Gospel (both Presley and Cash were very spiritual and released several successful albums in their career) the show is made up of familiar songs from all of the artists. That the music is being played live (all of the performers play their own instruments) makes the show even more exciting. The backing band (stand up bass player Chuck Zayas and drummer Patrick Morrow) keep the beat moving throughout. If you’re in the mood for some good, old-fashioned rock and roll, I urge you take in the “Million Dollar Quartet.”

The show heads to Tulsa, Oklahoma for shows beginning on May 26th and then continues throughout the summer. For more information head to

Film Review “Million Dollar Arm”

Starring: Jon Hamm, Aasif Mandvi and Alan Arkin
Directed by: Craig Gillespie
Rated: PG
Running time: 2 hours 4 mins
Walt Disney Pictures

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

In 2008, sports agent J.B. Bernstein, struggling to keep his firm afloat, devised an idea that, he proposed, would bring “a billion, with a ‘B’” fans to the game of baseball. Inspired by watching a few games of cricket, Bernstein (Hamm) proposes a competition known as “Million Dollar Arm.” To those who participate, the two that can throw a baseball the fastest wins a chance to come to America and be signed by major league scouts. Of course, things aren’t as easy as they sound.

Based on a true story, “Million Dollar Arm” is an uplifting and inspirational tale that invites the audience to put themselves in the culture of another person. When Rinku (Suraj Sharma, the young man from “Life of Pi) and Dinesh (Madhur Mittal from “Slum Dog Millionaire”) impress J.B. enough to warrant a trip to the states, the two must adapt to an entirely new way of life.

First all, it’s so nice to see Jon Hamm on the big screen. I’ve enjoyed his work for a couple of years and he’s never disappointed. Here he reveals the smooth talking J.B. to be much more than the slick hustler others think him to be. The two young actors who portray the “winners” are equally good. Lake Bell has a nice turn as J.B.’s rental tenant. But the prize here goes to Indian actor Pitobash. As the boy’s interpreter and all around baseball guru, he gives a portrayal the glows with enthusiasm. As the boys learn the game, fueled by Power Bars and pizza, their culture is almost lost. The Indian actors are well cast and the audience is made to feel what they feel. Only a short period where the film becomes “Jerry McGuire” slows the story down. That and the fact that the boys always seem to be throwing from the “stretch.” If they went into the windup they’d add a few MPH to their velocity. Just saying.

Twink Caplan revisits her role in “Clueless” and working on “Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie”

Twink Caplan is best known for her role of Miss Geist in “Clueless”.  She also had a fun role in this year’s raunchy comedy “Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie”.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Twink about her role in the film and reflect on playing Miss Geist.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about working with Tim & Eric in “Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie”?
Twink Caplan: Working with Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim in “Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie” was insane fun. We had met a few years earlier when I worked on “Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show.” It was a huge compliment to find out the duo had me in mind while writing the role of Katie. The cast was impressive with Will Ferrell, Zack Galifianakis, John C. Reilly, Jeff Goldblum, Robert Loggia, Will Forte… I was excited to play the lead female in this glorious company of men.

MG: The duo are know for their bizarre comedy, where you aware of this before coming on board?
TC: Reading the script I couldn’t wait to start. I was in my 60’s playing the older woman girlfriend of Eric, who is in his 30’s.

MG: What was the funniest thing that happened on the production?
TC: The funniest thing that happened on the production? The sex scene …when Tim slapped a realistic suction-cup dildo to his forehead and still had the remnants of the indentation and a red rash the next day. He’s very fair skinned. That scene was so wild with escalating in-the-moment improvisation.  When you are so absorbed in the character you realize later you might have done something or you might have gone too far or you might have…oh no…its a Tim and Eric movie!!

MG: What did you enjoy most about playing Miss Geist in “Clueless” movie?
TC: I loved the 40’s fitted clothes and stunning wedding dress Mona May designed for me. The character was humble and sweet and playing opposite Wallace Shawn was the topping on the cake. Hiring Paul Rudd and watching his career blast off. Alicia was adorable and Donald was a ball of energy and Breckin and Brittany were so funny….and gorgeous Stacey…I loved working with the entire cast and we were very close. I’m working with Stacey Dash now playing her old school agent in “Stacey Dash is Normal,” for television. The best opportunity was working with Scott Rudin who is a genius and Sherry Lansing who is not only beautiful but an amazing woman.

MG: …and TV series?
TC: Paramount Studio is luscious and Amy Heckerling and I had Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin’s bungalow. It was brilliant. We continued to do the Clueless series and I was one of the Executive Producer’s as well as playing the role of Miss Geist. It was fun casting the Guest Stars and meeting new actors and its always fun to be able to be in a position to grant wishes.

MG: How did you meet Amy Heckerling and work with her on various projects?
TC: I met Amy Heckerling at Warner Brothers. She had just finished filming European Vacation. We hit it off immediately. We were yin and yang and it was a perfect match! Our working relationship continued for twenty-two years. Amy is a wonderful friend and very clever. I loved her writing and knew she was special. They say a happy set starts at the head of the fish and our sets were always calm and happy which speaks for Amy.

MG: Tell what you have planned upcoming?
TC: In January, I’m looking forward to start filming writer/director Craig Goodwill’s “Boy Toy,” a satirical fairytale adaptation of his award winning short, “Patch Town.”


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Blu-ray Review “Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie”

Directed by: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim
Starring: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim, Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, John C. Reilly, Will Forte
MPAA Rating: R
Distributed by: Magnolia Home Entertainment
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Running Time: 94 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Tim and Eric are definitely one of my favorite comedy duos. Ever since “Tom Goes to the Mayor, they have continued to make awkward comedy…cool! “Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job!” was one of my favorites show on television and this movie is just a giant blown-up sketch and succeeds in all areas. The main and only real probably with this film is that it will not appeal to “non Tim and Eric” fans. It is mainstream to the point of production but not beyond that. I have seen this film many times and I find that each time I like it more and more. I look forward to seeing what they will come up with next…”Trillion Dollar Movie??”

“Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie’ is definitely the weirdest comedy of the year, no question. If you are a fan of long stretches of awkwardness and zany humor, this will be the film for you to check out. The basic premise for the movie is that they blow a billion dollars making a movie and escape Hollywood to go run a mall.  That’s about it. If you are looking for all the familiar faces from “Awesome Show”, you will see them but they are very minor. Palmer Scott playing the Shrim God, steals the show.  I don’t blame Tim and Eric for focusing on the bankable names in the movie like Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, John C. Reilly and Will Forte, especially since they all have worked with Tim and Eric before.

The Blu-ray presentation overall is impressive.  The video looks sharp but of course there is Tim and Eric’s trademark VHS-quality sketches as well. The sound is also good with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, but doesn’t really push it too much.   The Blu-ray combo pack also comes with a DVD and digital copy of the film.  I like this option in case I am at work and don’t have access to a DVD player or I am on the road and have the digital option.  I wish they would switch to digital streaming service, Ultraviolet though.

The special features are decent but I was hoping for a little more I think. There is a decent yet a bit restrained audio commentary track with Tim and Eric. There are eight deleted scenes, including a commercial for EZ Swords, and are worth checking out. There is about three improved extended scenes, which run about 20 minutes. “Good Evening S’Wallow Valley” is a basic behind-the-scenes promo but with a Tim and Eric twist. There is an incredibly awkward and long interview with Tim and Eric. “HDNet: A Look at Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie” is the typical Magnolia piece. The coolest feature has to be “Shim Dance Screensaver”, which runs content for almost five hours. Lastly there are a bunch of promo videos and trailers included.