Film Review: “A Fat Wreck: The Punk U Mentary”

“A Fat Wreck: The Punk U Mentary”
Director: Shaun M. Colon
Writer: Greg Pratt
Open-Ended Films/ Leaders & Flares/Charlie Uniform Tango
Runtime: 84 minutes

Our score: 5 out of 5 stars

“A Fat Wreck: The Punk U Mentary” is half inspirational story of chosen family and community and half debauchery as it tells the story of Fat Wreck Chords founder Fat Mike (bassist for the band NOFX) and his ex-wife Erin-Kelly Burkett. “A Fat Wreck” has it all from the birth, growth and struggles the label has endured over its 25 years to the thriving label we know today who continues to put out some of the best punk rock albums year after year.

If you were into punk rock in the 1990’s then chances are you at one time or another listened to a Fat Wreck Chords released album or band. Group’s such as Strung Out, Lagwagon, No Use For A Name and Propagandi and many others were fortunate enough to call Fat Wreck Chords their home while at the same time making a phenomenal impact on the evolution of punk music. “A Fat Wreck: The Punk U Mentary” is the story of that monumental label and the bands who helped define 90’s era punk rock. From candid interviews with label founders NOFX bassist Fat Mike and his ex-wife Erin to clips and interviews with the multitude of bands who have made up the labels roster during its past 25 years through today. For the first time in one spot the entire story of how this small independent label grew from a bay area basement to one of the most recognized and respected labels in punk rock. It’s all here!

How can you not like a killer punk rock soundtrack, fresh interviews and puppets!? Yes I said Puppets! “A Fat Wreck” from beginning to end is pure gold. If you were/are a fan of 90’s era punk rock then you owe it to yourself to watch this. The film is more than just another documentary about a group of musicians and a label that kick started a lot of careers, Underneath all of that is a refreshing story of family, unity and fun that everyone needs to check out.

Fat Mike of NOFX talks about the bands new book “The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories”.

Mike Burkett better know to the world as Fat Mike is the bassist/lead vocalists for California punk rock band NOFX and owner of Fat Wreck Chords. Together with first time writer Jeff Alulis and his band mates Eric Melvin, Aaron “El Hefe” Abeyta and Erik “Smelly” Sandin the guys have just released their first tell autobiography aptly titled “The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories”. The book which is being released via Da Capo Press is a down and dirty tale of punk rock debauchery told candidly by those who lived it. Media Mikes had the chance to speak with Fat Mike recently about the book and also about the bands upcoming album and tour.

Adam Lawton: Where did the idea for you guys to do a book come from?

Fat Mike: It was something that we had been talking doing now for awhile. It wasn’t until I read “The Dirt” by Motley Crue that I started to take doing our own book seriously. Once I read that book it got me thinking that NOFX could do a really good book because I think our stories our better. Our stories are a little less rock and roll. I had also read the book “Please Kill Me” which really changed me as I thought the book was just so good. Our story is right up there but totally different so we said “let’s do a book”.

AL: Did the other members of the band have any reservations about doing this type of book being that it was going to go pretty deep?

FM: There were things that I knew the guys were going to be a little uneasy to talk about. Eric Melvin had never talked about being molested before and Smelly never wanted to talk about his times with Courtney Love. Those guys went in and gave it all up for the book. Smelly really told everything which makes the book his in a lot of ways. We had to wait this long to do this because 10 years ago guys wouldn’t have wanted to tell these stories. You have to get to a point in your life where you are comfortable to talk about these things. For me the chapter which talks about cross dressing was something we added at the last minute because as of 2 years ago I wasn’t ready to talk about that publicly.

AL: Was it difficult revisiting some of those darker memories that make it into the book?

FM: The chapter where I talk about killing my mom was from a very hard part of my life but at the same time I think it was one of the best things I have ever done. My mom brought me into this world and raised me and I was able to give her the greatest gift I could ever give by helping her when she needed it. I wanted to put this in the book because it’s a heroic thing to be able to do that when someone needs your help in that way. Just letting the doctors take care of it is bullshit. That’s what a coward would do. My lawyer didn’t want me to put that stuff in the book so there’s a line stating that it’s the only part of the book that’s not true. (Laughs)

AL: What was it like going back and reading some of the chapters written by former band members?

FM: The chapter with Dave Casillas was really funny because he denied a lot of the stuff at first but then by the end of his interview he said “I guess it could have all happened”.  During the older days of the band when everyone was doing a lot of drugs I only drank beer so my memory from those years is really good. I remember stuff no one else does. It’s the past 15 years that I have a problem remembering. (Laugh)  I just remember those early days so well. Nowadays we will do a House of Blues tour or something like that where everyday kind of blends into the next however, when we first started we would stay at some ones house and sleep on their floor for 3 days, get crabs and then get told not come back. (Laughs) Those are the things you remember.

AL: Were there pieces of the book done separately or were there portions that everyone worked on together?

FM: Everything was done separately. That was something that Jeff Alulis wanted so that we would be able to open up more. What I love about the book is that after reading it we all learned things about one another that we had never known. There was one part of the book I had to call Eric Melvin about just to give him a warning about what he was going to read because it’s a pretty hard thing to read.

AL: What was it like working with Jeff in this capacity as compared to the group’s previous video work with him on “Backstage Passport”?

FM: It was difficult and very trying at times. He didn’t change any of our stories but he did change some of the wording to make himself look like a better writer. (Laughs) He used words that I would have never said. It was still the same thing but he just cleaned it up a bit and made it readable. We went with someone who had never written a book before because we didn’t want someone with a lot of experience who would take our experiences and change them. Jeff felt his way through the book and the early reviews have been great so I think we made the right decision. I am really proud how it turned out.

AL: Did you notice any similarities between writing a book and writing an album?

FM: Our new album is I think our most personable album yet. For me it was like peeling off my skin. The new album which will come out in June is the first album that I wrote and recorded a lot of while I was using drugs. In the past I have always gone into the studio and recorded sober. What I found while working on this album was that I cared more. After I would do a line I became extremely focused on making whatever song I was working on the best it could be. A lot of this came from not only writing the book but also from when I was working on the “Home Street Home” musical. With a musical you can’t put in one word that’s not needed as you have 2 hours to tell an entire story. You can’t waste a word. You will definitely be able to tell the influences of the book and the musical on this new album.

AL: With a book and album coming out this year what are the bands tour plans?

FM: When we make a record we tend to not tour like a lot of other bands do. Our schedule generally doesn’t change in that we will do a two week tour, have six weeks off and then we will do another two week run of shows. With having a book out we really want it make the New York Times Best Seller list so we are going to be doing a bunch of signings and stuff like that to help promote the book. The book was already in its fifth run of printing prior to the release on April 12th so we are really excited for everything.

Be sure to check out our review of NOFX’s “The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories” in the book review section of the site.


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Film Review “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2”

Starring: Nia Vardalos, John Corbett and Michael Constantine
Directed by: Kirk Jones
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hr 34 mins

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

In 2002, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” came out of nowhere to become one of the most successful, and beloved, romantic comedies of this young century. The film told the story of Toula Portokalos (Vardalos) and her search for love. The film ended with her marrying the very handsome Ian (Corbett) and living happily ever after in the house next door to her parents. 14 years later she’s still there.

If I had to sum up this film in one word it would be “familiar.” With most of the same cast doing a lot of the same things, the film depends a lot on the fact that you have seen the original. If not you won’t understand family patriarch Gus’ penchant for using Windex for everything, or why the hilarious Andrea Martin as Aunt Voula is the film’s comedic highlight. The story, in a nutshell: Toula and Ian have a teenage daughter. Her name is Paris (Elena Kampouris) and like other kids her age she’s looking for someone to go to prom with. School is hard because Ian is the principal. Toula continues to help out at the family restaurant, run by her parents. While Gus appears to be in charge, it is his wife, Maria (Lainie Kazan) that runs things. Proud of his Greek heritage, Gus is convinced that he is a direct descendent of Alexander the Great. In researching his family tree he finds his wedding certificate and notices that the priest that performed the service didn’t sign it. Does this mean he and Maria are not married? I sense a wedding in their future. Perhaps a big, fat Greek one.

If the film has anything going for it it’s the cast. As I said, many of the cast are from the first film and your familiarity with them is a plus. As a big fan of both Lainie Kazan and Michael Constantine, I enjoyed most of the film. As a couple they are perfectly matched, and even when they are fighting it’s easy to see the love. And the film is filled with everything Greek. From John Stamos, who is wasted in a cameo as the local weatherman married to Rita Wilson (who in real life is a full seven-years older than Stamos). The film also features a nice montage with the Billy Idol song “White Wedding” blasting out on a Greek bouzouki! Opa!


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DVD Review “Fat Albert And The Cosby Kids: The Complete Series”

Actors: Bill Cosby
Number of discs: 15
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Shout! Factory
DVD Release Date: June 25, 2013
Run Time: 2340 minutes

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

If you were an adult or kid in the 70-80′s then you should be aware of “Fat Albert” and the man behind the show Bill Cosby. And no I don’t mean the terrible 2004 live-action film. Bill Cobsy is one of the greatest comedians of our time. Kids these days most likely will not recognize him since he hasn’t done much in the last decade or so. Well, I remember the “Fat Albert” original animated series growning up and it is a riot. Finally, thanks to Shout! Factory we can own the complete series, which includes the best original 36 1972-75 Episodes, all 24 1979-81 episodes and all 50 1984 episodes. If you are a fan of this show and looking to take a trip down memory lane then this would be the set for you to purchase.

Official Premise: Premiering in 1972 on CBS this classic animated series was created, produced and hosted by comedian Bill Cosby, who also lent his voice to a number of characters, including Fat Albert himself. The show, based on Cosby’s remembrances of his childhood gang, focused on the lovable, oversized Albert and his friends. The show always had an educational lesson emphasized by Cosby’s live-action segments, and the gang would usually gather in their North Philadelphia junkyard to play a rock song on their cobbled-together instruments at the end of the show.

“Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids” Season 1 from 1972 contains the following 16 episodes: “Lying”, “The Runt”, “The Stranger”, “Creativity”, “Fish Out of Water”, “Moving”, “Playing Hookey”, “The Hospital”, “Begging Benny”, “The Hero”, “The Prankster”, “Four Eyes”, “The Tomboy”, “Stagefright”, “The Bully” and “Smart Kids”. Season 2 from 1973 contains the following 5 episodes: “Mister Big Timer”, “The Newcomer”, “What Does Dad Do?”, “Mom or Pop” and “How the West Was Lost”. Lastly, we get season 3 from 1975 contains 15 episodes including “Sign Off”, “The Fuzz”, 3 Ounce of Prevention, “Fat Albert Meets Dan Cupid”, “Take Two, They’re Small”, “The Animal Lover”, “Little Tough Guy”, “Smoke Gets in Your Hair”, “What Say?”, “Readin’ Ritin’, and Rudy”, “Suede Simpson”, “Little Business”, “TV or Not TV”, “The Shuttered Window” and “Junk Food”.

Next up we have “The New Fat Albert Show” season 1 from 1979 with 8 episodes, including “In My Merry Busmobile”, “The Dancer”, “Spare the Rod Bucky, Weird Harold…”, “Sweet Sorror”, “Poll Time”, “The Mainstream”, “Free Ride” and “Soft Core”. The second season from 1980 is next with 8 episodes including “Pain, Pain Go Away”, “The Rainbow”, “The Secret”, “Easy Pickins”, “Good Ol’ Dudes”, “Heads Or Trails”, “Pot Of Gold” and “The Gunslinger”. The last was season 3 from 1981 with another 8 episodes, including “Habla Espanol”, “Two By Two”, “Barking Dog”, “Water Are You Waiting For?”, “The Father”, “Double Cross”, “Little Girl Found” and “Watch That First Step”

The last series included for this show is “Bill Cosby’s Fat Albert” from 1984 with another 50 episodes including “Have a Heart”, “Watch Thy Neighborhood”, “Cosby’s Classics”, “Justice Good as Ever”, “Rebop For Bebop”, “Sinister Stranger”, “Handwriting On the Wall”, “Busted”, “It All Ads Up”, “Never Say Never”, “Don’t Call Us”, “The Runner”, “Video Mania”, “You Gotta Have Art”, “Long Live the Queen”, ”The Joker”, “Second Chance”, “Kiss and Tell”, “Teenage Mom”, “Film Follies”, “Harvest Moon”, “Read Baby Read”, “The Whisky Kid”, “Millionaire Madness”, “Call of the Wild”, “Funny Business”, “Three Strikes and You’re In”, “What’s the ID?”, “Rules Is Cool”, “The Birds, the Bees, and Dumb Donald”, “Double Or Nothing”, “Hot Wheels”, “No Place Like Home”, “Not So Loud”, “The Jinx”, “You Don’t Say”, “Amiss With Amish”, “Gang Wars”, “Computer Caper”, “We All Scream For Ice Cream”, “Superdudes”, “Painting the Town”, Rudy and the Beast”, “Wheeler”, “Faking the Grade”, “Write On”, “Cable Caper”, “Say Uncle”, “No News Is Good News” and “Attitude of Gratitude”.

For episodes that range from 30-40 years old, these episodes looks damn good. They are presented in full frame and are well represented by Shout! Factory. If you didn’t think that 110 episodes were enough to leave you satisfied, there is still more in the special features. “Hey, Hey, Hey . . . It’s The Story Of Fat Albert” is solid hour long documentary on the show and it’s legacy. There are audio commentary tracks with Show Creator Bill Cosby, Storyboard Artists Michael Swanigan And Tom Tataranowicz, Writer Robby London And Host Wally Wingert, which are definitely worth checking out. Lastly there is a Still Gallery included, as well as DVD-ROM content with Script And Storyboards.

Matthew Lillard talks about his directorial debut with “Fat Kid Rules the World”

Matthew Lillard has appeared in over 70 films and is probably best known for his roles in Wes Cravens “Scream” and the live action “Scooby-Doo” films. Media Mikes had the chance to talk with Matthew about making his debut as a director with the film “Fat Kid Rules the World” which is an adaptation of the K.L. Going novel of the same name.

Adam Lawton: Can you give us a brief overview of the film?
Matthew Lillard: In the first few frames of the film the main character Troy Billings who is an obese teenager tries to jump in front of a bus. He ends up being saved by a punk rock guitar savant and the two start a band. The film is really about their journey as friends and them finding themselves.

AL: What drew you to the project?
ML: I was the kid who was lost in high school. I feel like 95% of the world feels like they don’t belong in whatever high school situation they are in. I felt like the story of Troy’sjourney depicted my experience in school. I think there are kids out there that need a movie like
this. The film is very honest and we just wanted to deliver that to those who need it.

AL: What was the hardest part of both directing and acting in the film?
ML: I actually cut my part out of the final frames of the film as it just didn’t work. Thestory is very fast and tidy and I felt my stuff really kind of lagged.

AL: How did Pearl Jam’s Matt McCready become involved with the scoring of the film?
ML: I had told my agents that I was directing a film and they asked me if I had anyone in mind to do the music. I told them no but the film was based in Seattle. They brought up Matt’s name and that he was looking for a film to score. He came on board and changed the quality of our film. He made a huge impact on our movie.

AL: What are the film’s release plans?
ML: The idea is that any one in America right now can go to and request a screening of our movie in their local theater. Once there are enough people to pre-buy tickets the screening will happen. It’s kind of a new way distributing independent films.

AL: You used to fundthe film. How did you become aware of that?
ML: I have had tons of friends that have used it in the past. It was a pretty amazing experience as we raised $158,000.00 in 31 days. It just helped propel the film as there is always the chance that an independent film can drift off in to oblivion. The support we have gotten from the community has really allowed us to find a new avenue to distribute this movie.

AL: What other projects are you working on right now?
ML: I just finished a film with Clint Eastwood titled “Trouble with the Curve” that comes out this fall. I also will be leaving soon for Australia to start work on “Nims Island 2”. I am always looking for films to do and hope to be doing another one in the next 6 months.

DVD Review “The Fat Boy Chronicles”

Directed by: Jason Winn
Starring: Ron Lester, Cole Carson, Kelly Lynn Washington, Christopher Rivera
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Studio: Phase 4 Films
Run Time: 78 minutes

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

Obesity is a very serious issue especially amongst young children. If you match that with the subject of bullying and this film really aims to deliver a very important message. The movie definitely packed some really emotional content into its short 78 minute run time. Christopher Rivera delivers a fantastic performance and really grabs hold of the audiences attention from the start. It is inspiring and also very educational for kids and adults.

The film itself is inspired by a true story, which makes it feel even more real and important. It follows Jimmy Winterpock, who is an overweight student starting his first year in high school and dealing with being bullied by his classmates. The film follows Jimmy’s efforts to overcome his bullies and win the girl of his dreams.

The special features are decent and include a preview of the eBook and information on Bully Prevention. Also included is an audio commentary track from the director and some interesting interviews from the cast, all worth checking out for sure. The only issue I had with the film itself was the teenage murder subplot. I thought it was a little out of place and didn’t really fit into the films message. In the end I feel that the film succeeds in delivering its important message and hopefully people will see this film and take its issues seriously.