In Loving Memory Of Kirk McDonald

In Loving Memory Of Kirk J. McDonald

How do you fit a life like Kirk's into a few paragraphs?  Where are the words to describe how joyous a soul he was, what a pleasure he was to have around and how richer our lives are because of it.  How do you measure the value of a dear friend, a son, a brother, a companion.  It's simple, you don't.  Instead you celebrate the person he was and honor him with happy memories, of which there are many.  And if there's one thing I've learned over the past couple days it's that we were all moved by Kirk in different ways, some are personal, while many stories are as fun to tell as they are to hear.  We, his family and friends aren't all as close to one another as we were to him.  It's a shame, but that's life.  But if there's one thing I know Kirk would want, it's that we all share these memories with one another.  Don't wait until tomorrow, or next week, or even next year.  Kirk would want us all, the people he knew and loved, to share these moments (and not just on facebook) but together, around the table, over drinks or around the campfire.  Kirk's life was a celebration and he'd want us to keep that fire burning. 


I've written many things over the years, but a Eulogy was not among them.  When my grandfather passed away three months ago, I listening the eulogy with a heavy heart, and not just because it was a sad day, but because it was cold, lifeless and sounded like an obituary.  Not this one.  The essence of a Eulogy to me is as I said, a celebration of Kirk James McDonald, born on February 12, 1980 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, a guy cherished, loved and respected by so many people.  I've never known someone more humble, honest, selfless, loyal, earnest, sincere, happy.  He was also quick witted, much wiser than he let on, the loudest voice in the crowd and the heart of the party.  He was also dead set in his ways and stubborn as hell, especially when he thought he was right.  Everybody loved him, everybody.  It's funny, growing up here in Fredericton we all know the mentality around here, everybody's your best friend when you're in the room, but the same might not be so when you leave.  Kirk wasn't like that, and as far back as I can remember, I've never heard anyone say anything bad about him, and in a town like this, that never happens.  As a matter a fact, the only other person I've ever seen that happen with is Seth's sister, Claryssa.  


Kirk had the patience of Job, an expression I've heard many times, but never truly  understood until I actually read the book of Job (yesterday).  Sasha, Cormier and I sat with Jim a couple days ago in his kitchen while he told us about Job, and how this book of the bible touched him and Kirk.  For those of you who may not have known, Kirk was very spiritual, one of his tattoos was a reference to the book of Job. 


Job's story isn't a happy one.  It's the story of a man who had everything; wealth, friends, family.  He was a good man who made it a point to never wrong another or speak out against God.  He was happy, generous and thankful for all he had.  Then God decided to test Job by taking it all away.  Job eventually questioned his luck, only to be humbled and taken down a peg by God himself.  Here are a couple verses that made me think of Kirk:


"Everyone who saw me or heard of me had good things to say about what I had done.  When the poor cried out, I helped them.  I gave help to orphans who had nowhere to turn and I helped widows find security.  I have always acted justly and fairly.  I was eyes for the blind and feet for the lame, I was like a father to the poor and took the side of strangers in trouble.  When I gave advice people were silent and listened carefully to what I said.  My words sank in like drops of rain and everyone welcomed them just as farmers welcome rain in spring.  I smiled at them when they had lost confidence, my cheerful face encouraged them and gave them comfort in their despair."       


Now I'd like to talk a moment about friendship.  If ever there was word that could mean so many things, define so many moments, build so many bonds and change so many lives,  that would be it; friendship.  When I think of friendship, I'll admit I'm a little old school.  I grew up here in Devon, back when two guys got into a fight over something stupid, threw some punches, but did it honorably, one on one, and when it was all said and done you shook hands and became friends (good thing too, because one of the first fights I ever got in was with Ian McKillop).  God knows those days are long gone, but I grew up holding those ideals close to my heart and though I'm far from perfect, I've always approached friendship like it was a brotherhood, and would always do everything I could for a brother.


I met Kirk when he moved back from Dartmouth, back when we were just kids.  He was the exact same guy we all know and love now, just a little smaller and a little shy (something he clearly grew out of).  Even back then when I barely knew him, I liked Kirk, he was just one of those nice, easy going guys you enjoyed hanging out with.  Now if I've heard Kirk tell this story once, I've heard it a million times.  It was one of the first parties I even invited him to and because he was the new face some idiot pulled a knife on him and held it to his throat, threatening him.  I saw it the second it happened, and I handled it in a not so Christian fashion.  I barely knew him, but to me, a friend is a friend, no matter how well I know them, and I stand up for my friends.  Ironically enough, the only time I've ever seen Kirk get angry and want to throw down with someone, was in defense of a friend.  Never for himself, but he had us for that.


Kirk's never forgotten that night, mainly because he didn't understand why I did it.  Now he does, because he's the same way.  After that we became good friends.  One of the many things we have in common is our love of movies.  Kirk was actually the first person to ever buy me a movie for my birthday.  It was Eddie Murphy Delirious...on VHS.  I was told Sasha this the other night, joking around about how old it makes me feel seeing as how DVD's weren't even invented at this point.  I was so moved and that was only the second gift.  He and April gave me a Calligraphy pen set before that, because I'd told them about my love for writing.  Today I'm a film critic and author, I write movie reviews, columns, comic strips and novels.  A couple years ago, I get the 25th Anniversary Edition of Delirious to review for work.  I dedicated the review to Kirk and surprised him with it after it was published.  I could stand up here all day and night telling Kirk stories and that wouldn't even scratch the surface.  And I know I'm not the only one.  Cormier and I were laughing about it the other night saying it couldn't be done even be done in a year.  Kirk loved life, he loved living and the only thing he loved more was seeing everyone around him as happy as he was.  Mike Fitz said it best, you couldn't let anything slip in front of Kirk, because if he knew you were planning something, a birthday, a special occasion, not only would he rush out and find the biggest gift, he'd also jump at the idea of hosting it himself to ensure it was a go big or go home night you could be proud of.    


Kirk always had a smile on his face, and he was the King of sly grins.  Whether it was entertaining the crowd or one on one.  There have been countless parties over the years and not only did Kirk enjoy them, he relished the memories through pictures, never leaving anyone out.  But Kirk was also a heart to heart friend who spent just as much time counseling people through their problems as he did picking us up when we were down. (I'm reminded of Footprints in the Sand), my grandmother had religious verse hanging on the wall, just as Kirk did.  I'm sure most of you have seen it before, but in case you haven't, this is what it says.


One night a man had a dream.
He dreamed he was walking along
the beach with the Lord.


Across the dark sky flashed scenes from his life.
For each scene, he noticed
two sets of footprints in the sand,
one belonging to him and the other to the Lord.

When the last scene of his life flashed before him,
he looked back at the footprints in the sand.
He noticed that many times along the path of his life
there was only one set of footprints.
He also noticed that it happened at the
very lowest and saddest times in his life.
This bothered him and he questioned the Lord about it.

"Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you,
you'd walk with me all the way.
But I have noticed that during the most
troublesome times in my life there is
only one set of footprints.
I don't understand why when I needed you most
you would leave me."

The Lord replied "My precious, precious child,
I love you and would never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffering,
when you see only one set of footprints in the sand,
it was then that I carried you."



If Kirk could carry us all, he would have.  He wanted to help everyone.  And he did, whether it was through laughter, tears, wise words, alcohol or all of the above, his hand was always out and his door always open.


We throw the word "friend" around like it's no big deal.  We all do it.  We like to tell ourselves we have lots of friends, that we know so many people, because at the end of the day we think it makes us feel good.  We think it makes us look good in eyes of others.  Problem is, it's an illusion, and deep down we all know it.  Yes, we know countless people, and as a result have countless acquaintances with whom we have no problem spending small amounts of "fun time" with when things are good.  But when we peel away all the layers, most of us can count on one hand the amount of good friends we truly have.  Good friends being the ones who know everything about us, who walk the path of life with beside us always.  But even amongst those good friends, how many of them can you say with 100 percent certainty, would never talk about you behind my back, would never try to sleep with your girlfriend or boyfriend, would never turn their back on you if you hit rock bottom.  Kirk was that one friend who I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt was 100 percent across the board. 


Now don't get me wrong, I've been fortunate to meet a lot of people like me over the years, great people, great friends, who score a solid ninety-five, even a few ninety-nines, and does that make them bad friends?  Not at all.  Problem is there's lots of ground to cover between ninety-five and a hundred.  And that's why we're all here today, because those one hundred percent loyal friends are rare these days.  And some people never find even a single friend like that in their lifetime.  Funny thing about that is, I look around this room at the unique group of individuals gathered here, people from so many different social circles, unified within Kirk's sphere of influence.  Like I said in the beginning, most of us aren't  close, we're acquaintances through Kirk.  That's not to say we couldn't all be closer, or that the thought isn't there, we just never get around to it.  Why?  We get busy with work, families, stress and all the rest of life's ironic surprises.  But mostly it's because in life, as long as we have at least one true friend, a best friend, we're content with having that small group of close friends and a pile of acquaintances to fill the house when it's time to celebrate. 


That one best friend is the glue holding it all together, the one person with whom you know you can let your guard down, laugh with, cry with, learn from and grow with.  Kirk was that kind of best friend, and not just to me, to Cormier, Heart, Burns, Jay Francis and to so many others over the years, because no matter how much time passed, one visit was all it took to pick up right where you left off.  And the worst part is that we know it deep down, but nothing can prepare you for the hole in your heart once you realize that person's gone. 


Now that we've defined friendship, let me explain some of the many ways Kirk expressed these notions. Kirk was a Jack of trades when it came to friendship.  I've never met a more selfless person.  Not only would he give you the shirt off his back (one of his many unique T-Shirts), he'd even throw in some pants and a pair of shoes--and trust me, he had a lot of shoes.  I've never met a guy with more pairs of shoes than Kirk.  He's got a two door closet full of them, and half of them don't even look like they've been worn once.  He was selfless when it came to material things, selfless when it came to money (he's the kind of guy who orders rounds of shots for everyone in the bar, who lends money without expecting you to return it, who opens his home to you for as long as you need it, or showers you with gifts that go above and beyond the norm).  He was selfless when it came to the support of ambition or goals.  Kirk made it a point to know what makes you tick, and whether you love to collect stamps or have aspirations of becoming president, Kirk was in your corner pushing you with both hands.  His smile was always genuine, and seeing that smile was more than enough to drive you. 


A recent example is Cormier's bodybuilding show.  Kirk was almost more excited Cormier.  He called me the night it was decided to tell me about it (tell story), he then rearranged his gym room in the house,  took progression pictures (which he would pull out every time I came over) and grilled him non-stop if he thought Cormier was slacking.  There was pride in his voice when he talked about it, because he loved you like a brother.  Another guy he was proud of was Mike Fitz.  He called me every time you had a fight with tickets, I was always working but he knew I wanted to go.  He was so excited for you though, and I remember how mad he was that last time he got there and had just missed you because of a last minute card change.  He was also proud of your girlfriend Jaclyn for her IFBB PRO accomplishments.  Jaclyn was kind enough to explain the story behind a picture Kirk has where the two of them are sharing the moment.  Evidently a cab was waiting, but Kirk didn't care, he wasn't leaving until he got that picture.


For me, Kirk was always supportive of my writing ambitions.  His faith was unwavering back before I'd gotten any jobs in the field or had anything published.  He was so proud of my novel, Blood Brothers, and couldn't wait to read every movie review, column or comic strip I got published.  I work for two of the biggest movie websites on the net, and get paid to go the movies at least once a week as well as getting movies and TV series' and sometimes even video games mailed to me weekly for review.  Kirk thought these were the coolest jobs ever.  Kirk loved movies, and one of the perks of my job is the ability to get things that aren't available to the public (for example, I have one of three props of Marty McFly's hoverboard from Back to the Future 2.  Sure, it's pink, but it's still a cool conversation piece).  Kirk loved the show Sons of Anarchy and my boss was able to get a hoody done up like the ones in the show by a prop guy, which I gave Kirk for Christmas.  A couple years back, there was a movie, Solomon Kane, that was supposed to come to theatres here but didn't.  I'd shown Kirk the trailer and he really wanted to see it.  For some reason it never got released on video here either, but got a limited release in Europe.  I called my boss and asked if there was a way to get a hold of two Blu ray copies of the film, and he got them for me.  Kirk was amped when I surprised him with it.  He and I actually laughed about it the other day because nearly two years later it's still not available to the public. 


These are the moments I'll forever cherish when it comes to Kirk.  He had such a childlike innocence that made me smile.  Who gets that excited over a movie, a video game, a TV show, a sword, a card game, or miniatures.  Kirk did.  His face lit up like a kid in a candy store overstocked for Christmas.  But it wasn't just movies and games he loved.  He loved Celtic crosses and anything Irish, he loved getting ink done and anything Harley Davidson.  I don't know how many of you got in that Rhino with him, but let me tell you, it was an experience you'd remember if you did.  Wayne was there, the last time I was riding in there with him.  It wasn't quite spring yet, there was lots of snow on the ground.  It was melting, and there were pools of water everywhere, sinkholes, broken paths, it was pretty much a deathtrap everywhere you looked.  Kirk didn't care.  He's laughing and giggling as we're flying down these paths, sliding into the ditch, branches snapping and popping.  I'm pretty much thinking, "yep, we're gonna die".  But I just shook my head, because I knew he was having the time of his life.  There were so many parties, good times and gathering that it would take a novel to share them, probably even a trilogy.  But the best thing about Kirk was all the quiet times, those nights sitting at the table or in the basement, talking into to wee hours of the morning, or kicking back on the couch playing video games.  These are the times I'll miss the most.     


Son:  Kirk adored his parents, Jim and Doreen.  And even from a young age, it was clear Kirk possessed aperfect set of morals and values.  All through school, even as a young kid, Kirk was the first to volunteer for anything and everything, apt to help anyone and everyone in the process.  Now volunteering meant he'd also volunteered his mother to help do whatever needed done.  And whether it was baking for the class, sewing a sheep costume for a play, or making lunch for Kirk and all his friends at noon hour, Doreen was more than happy to do so.
And there is no man on this Earth Kirk looked up to, loved and respected more than his father, Jim.  In High School when I talked about moving away and chasing my writing dream, Kirk was just as excited to learn all he could about Partner's Metal, his father's business, determined to make his dad proud.  Kirk's ambition was as keen as his intellect, especially when it came to business.  He couldn't say much about the work they did as a lot of it was government oriented (there were lots of spy/secret agent jokes), but when he did explain things, he was precise and to the letter.  Kirk's only true fear in life was disappointing his parents, even though that was clearly impossible. 


Father:  Kirk was also a father, to one of his best friends in the entire world, Durban.  He loved that dog with all his heart.  I remember how devastated Kirk was when Durban got sick, or when he got cataracts on his eyes.  Kirk would've gladly sawed off a limb to spare Durban even the slightest of pain.  Durban knew it too, and loved Kirk something fierce.  I loved it when Durban got riled up and possessive whenever too many people gathered around Kirk.  He'd bark, jump around and then physically come between you.  It was a heartwarming sight.  Durban's not shy either.  If he wasn't licking you for five minutes at a time or jumping all over you, he was trying to get a little frisky instead.  My personal favourite would be when Kirk and I were sitting on the couch playing video games with Durban laying between us sleeping, and then all of a sudden if you didn't hear it, you smelt it, when Durban farted on you.  Sometimes it was so loud he jumped, scaring himself awake, looking at us like one of us did it and then start barking.  When Jim told me he grabbed Durban's picture to put with Kirk I smiled because Kirk would've wanted that (he was so proud of that picture).  Thankfully Jim and Doreen's house is like a second home to Durban, and thought he no doubt misses his dad, I know Kirk will look in on him from time to time happy he's being well cared for.


And speaking of fatherhood, the one thing Kirk wanted most in life was to be a father.  He adored children and was never anything but supportive where children were concerned.  Nothing could paint this picture more clearly than how he chose to honor his sister, Janet, and her husband, Tim, by spoiling his four year old Nephew Isaac and two year old Niece Allie.  Kirk had given them a WII (amongst many other gifts) which the two kids were using to watch Netflicks.  Uncle Kirk's name came up as well as the fact that it was a gift from him.  It was then Isaac said proudly, "Uncle Kirk loves to give things away."  Kirk's selflessness and generosity are visible to even a four old.  That alone speaks volumes for the guy's character.  Another friend, Krista was pregnant not so long ago.  Her life was upside down at the time, until Kirk graciously opened his home to her.  I remember the night he called me and explained the situation, it was nearly my birthday.  I'll never forget it because he called me twice last year on my birthday, once in the afternoon and then later that night when I was pulling in to a restaurant where Elinh was taking me out for supper.  Kirk was adamant I come down for the night, and thankfully Elinh is understanding (which really means I'm lucky it was my birthday).  Just go, she said, shaking her head.  Only Kirk could get away with stuff like that, because Elinh couldn't get ever get mad at the guy or say no.  A fact we exploited all too often.

I knew Kirk wanted to be a father more than anything, which was one of the countless reasons I asked him to be the Godfather of my soon to be born daughter, Aria.  He was so excited.  He told Sasha and his parents he was honoured, but it's me who's honoured.  He and I joked about the fact that we've always been like brothers, but now it we were officially family.  Just last week we were talking about being in the operating room when Elinh gives birth.  When I first brought it up in front of her, she scolded me and told him he didn't have to be in there.  And I said was, oh yes he does, especially after hearing all the horror stories Krista was telling the night of his birthday.  If I have to see all that, so does he.  Kirk just grinned and said, " of course I'll be there".  You'll always be her Godfather bro, she'll know you through pictures and through hours of stories told by friends and family. 


Sasha:  But the most special bond of all was the one he shared with his true love, the light that guided him up and out of the vast darkness that nearly drowned him.  After the accident, Kirk was worried about finding love again.  Everything had been shattered; his heart, his self esteem, his health, he was worried no woman would want to share the burden he now carried, but he was wrong.  Kirk was temporarily blinded by pain and sorrow, but I could see just fine.  And I knew, as all who loved him did, that all it would take was the right woman to see what we see, even a glimpse would be enough.  Sasha brought him hope.  She brought him courage, and most of all she brought him love at a time when he needed it the most.  There are no better words to describe it than those from her own mouth, which she wanted me to share:

Kirk was not only a loving boyfriend, he was my best friend.  Despite our fear to love again, we couldn't help but fall in love.  He always said that we were so "easy" because he never knew or imagined a relationship could come equipped with that kind of love, passion, respect, pride and devotion.  He showed me how to love by filling me entirely with pure, unconditional love, he loved me for me.  And I couldn't  thank him enough for that.  Until we are reunited as one again in the heavens above, I will cherish our love.  He will forever be in my heart and he will forever be missed.   

Cormier:  There are more words, from another best friend, a guy whose pain I understand more than anyone.  I'd met Cormier a couple times in passing way back when, but the first night I was actually going to hang out with him and Kirk, this is what Kirk said to me: "Look man, I'll be honest with you, Cormier doesn't like many people, and if he doesn't like you, he won't talk to you.  I'm not worried about that at all, but just in case, don't be offended if he doesn't say much."  I laughed.  I'd already talked to him a couple times and that night we chatted a lot.  One of my favourite nights with the both of them was a couple Halloween's ago, when Cormier couldn't figure out what to wear so he decided to cover himself in green paint and go as The Hulk.  Elinh actually hung out and talked to him a lot that night but didn't know his name, she just kept calling him "The Hulk".  I had to mention this as Halloween was Kirk's absolute favourite time of year, mine too, it won't be the same without you brother.  Funniest part of that night?  Cormier saying to me, "man, I'm feeling kinda woozy, I think I'm inhaling too much paint fumes."  This is when we realized that it wasn't green makeup, he'd literally doused himself in paint.  The following is what Cormier wanted me to share:


o     Kirk Mcdonald was my best friend for the last ten years, he was like a brother to me. He was the one person who I could talk to about anything. There have been many ups and downs in the last ten years and he stuck beside me through the thick and thin. A best friend is someone who will be there for you no matter what, never judge you, is honest, and stand behind you no matter what, even when you are wrong. Kirk was all that to me and more.

Ill never forget his smile could light up an entire room. No matter how hard times got, Kirk was always a shoulder for me to lean on, and always there to pick me back up whenever I fell flat on my face. We travelled the world together, spent countless hours sitting around his kitchen table, drinking coffee, playing chess, Barbecues, and countless hours playing xbox together. I am a better person today because I had the privilege of spending the last ten years of my life with Kirk by my side. He taught me to be humble, forgiving, and most of all showed me what it was like to have a true friend by my side 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

I could share many fond memories that I shared with Kirk, however it would take me years to sit here and tell you every single one of them. There is one story I'll never forget though with Kirk.  We were in the Dominican republic together. We had a late night the first night we were there, and Kirk decided he was going to take nap in the afternoon so I went and grabbed some lunch and told him I'd come back to wake him up around 4pm.  When I arrived back at the room Kirk was gone, So I called his cell phone to see where he was and he this was his response.  “MAN!!!!! I'm down the road at Philippe's bar and grill come on down I'm having an awesome time”  My response was dude where the hell is Philippe's bar and grill and what the hell do you think you're doing down there I thought you were sleeping!!!!

So I went down to Philippe's bar and grill and there was Kirk, sitting around with 5 or 6 locals from Puerto Plata drinking beer. He jumps up and says CORMIER come have a drink with me and my new friends!!!!!! These guys are awesome!!!  I shook my head but took him up on his offer. I'll never forget the smile on his face. Like I said no matter where the guy was, he made friends quickly and everyone was quick to like him, there's no way you couldn’t. Kirk lived a very happy life, and knew how to enjoy life to the fullest and that’s exactly what he did. I know in my heart Kirk lived with no regrets, His strength and passion for everything he did was truly inspiring.  I feel I have been blessed to have the opportunity to become so close with Kirk, he truly was one of a kind, and the best friend anyone could ever ask for. I will forever miss him.. You may not be here with us anymore, but in my heart you will live on forever. I love you Kirk. Till we meet again. Rest in peace

Inspiration:  More than anything Kirk was an inspiration, a beacon of support and encouragement.  He was someone who brought the best out of me and made you want to be a better person.  I've often heard that best friends admire characteristics within the other that they themselves strive to possess.  Kirk was that best friend.  He was the best of all of us because he turned the other cheek, even when people didn't deserve it.  He stood by you ready to beat the odds no matter how high they were stacked against you.  If someone told him something couldn't be done, he'd simply laugh and do it anyway.  I'd like to share my favourite quote: " It's what we do in our most desperate hour that defines us as people."  There was no more desperate an hour than those Kirk, Andrew and Jim faced in Jamaica.  Words can't describe toll this took on all of them.  Yet, they rose above it.  Kirk rose above it, like a phoenix rising from the ashes.  This was Kirk's most desperate hour.  But rather than break, he held his head high.  He was strong for those he loved and cherished and was determined to let things play out on his terms.  Kirk, I can't even begin to tell you how much respect I have for you.  You were a brother to me always, even when I was miles away.  You were there for me when I needed to talk about things I couldn't tell anyone else.  Hollywood's always giving us movies about best friends whose bond is unbreakable, the perfect friendship, something everyone wishes they had.  I wish I had more like you, but I don't.  You were the one person I knew would never let me down.  You were my best friend, you were Cormier's best friend, you were Sasha's best friend and you were Jim's best friend.  But that doesn't mean everyone else in this room will miss you any less, everyone loved you and with good reason.  You may have ended up with only a third of your pancreas, but that's okay, because you're heart was three times bigger than anyone's I know and it needed the extra room.

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TRAILER: The Host

Stephenie Meyer's name doesn't instill much confidence or excitement as far as I'm concerned (did you try and sit through the last abysmal TWILIGHT flick?), and though I don't know much about her book THE HOST, this trailer has me curious. I'm not expecting much, but it might end up a pleasant surprise.

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REVIEW: 21 Jump Street

"Probably this year's sleeper hit comedy."

Two rookie cops are transferred to a revived undercover unit, working out of 21 Jump Street, after an embarrassing drug bust leaves them looking like fools.  Their new mission is to infiltrate a local High School and find the dealers and suppliers of a new drug before it goes mainstream.    

Jonah Hill's been talking about 21 JUMP STREET for awhile now, and I'll be honest, I had no idea what the lowdown on this "once a TV series now a movie" concoction was, nor did I get the hype/hate it was generating.  Like most films based on TV shows, this was going to have a different feel, look and tone, making it completely different from the show.  Obviously, fans of the TV series weren't feeling the love but Hill didn't let that affect his growing enthusiasm.  I'm a JH fan (and why not, those are my initials too), and thought I dug THE SITTER, beyond a handful of key moments, it wasn't all that great and I can't see myself watching it more than twice.  Hill works better when he's bouncing off someone who can keep up with him (case in point, I'm looking forward to NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH), and much to my surprise Channing Tatum did just that and then some. 

Tatum is the other side of this funny coin and most people (myself included) worried that he wouldn't hold his own on the comedy front.  Thankfully we were wrong.  Tatum is hilarious and steals the show here with most of the funniest scenes and lines.  I know right, who'd have thought, but it's true (ironic considering Tatum passed on this role twice before Hill finally convinced him to do it).  The storyline here is generic, but most cop flicks are.  It's not an issue though as the chemistry between Hill and Tatum is golden.  One of my co-workers interviewed the boys (which you can watch here: http://www.joblo.com/movie-news/interview-21-jump-stars-jonah-hill-and-channing-tatum) where Tatum confesses to this being the most fun he's ever had on film simply because his and Hill's relationship was the closest thing to having a real brother.  These guys are an awesome team, and are currently writing up a sequel (the movie ends with a great sequel possibility).  The boys are doing great with revenue and reviews right now, so here's hoping the sequel gets green lit.

One of the best things about this film is it doesn't take itself too seriously.  The boys are constantly making fun of Hollywood's lack of creativity, action flicks, cop movies, clich├ęs and even themselves.  There's even a cool couple of cameos that pay homage to the show (they won't mean much to you if you're new to all this, but at least they're fun).  Ice Cube makes a great comedic comeback here as well, an R rated comeback at that, which makes me happy considering the rumours of him and Chris Tucker teaming up for another FRIDAY.  I won't hold my breath on that one, but it's good to see the dude's balls and spine are still intact, which is more than I can say for some sellout comedians (cough, cough, Eddie Murphy).

21 JUMP STREET is a much needed dose of hilarity at a time when comedies are feeling a little played out.  Many R rated comedies lean heavily upon language, shock value and nudity to fill seats these days but as we saw with last year's craptacular HANGOVER 2, it's not easy to fool us twice.  There's lots of language, but to be fair, these guys are put back in High School so it fits.  This was probably the funniest "high" scene since BAD BOYS 2, with Hill and Tatum tripping balls on the new designer drug they're sent to sniff out.  The way this drug is explained via three or four phases will have you in stitches, especially when the boys are on it (Tatum's "Fuck Science" bit is one of the funnies things I've ever seen).  Say what you will about Hollywood grasping at straws with these TV show/film remakes, but every so often one just works.  This is that one, no doubt due to being co-written Jonah Hill, but still, it works and is every bit the crowd pleaser these guys were hoping it would be.  Amen to that.

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REVIEW: The Walking Dead S2

"It starts off slow but ends with a bang."

Rick and company seek help and refuge from Hershel Greene and his family who have somehow remained sheltered from the epidemic in their isolated country farmhouse.  Trust remains in short supply as both groups come with their own set of problems and secrets.

THE WALKING DEAD is a fantastic graphic novel series and being that zombies won't ever go out of style, I can truly dig and appreciate why AMC went for the jugular here.  I've read all of it to date and for the most part enjoyed everything thrown my way.  Many naysayers ramble on and on about how AMC changed things here and there, and to that, I only tip my hat.  Yes, a re-creation of the original work frame by frame would've also be cool, there's nothing wrong with playing around a bit just so long as you don't stray too far from the beaten path.  The first season nailed it.  There were only five episodes and fans (myself included) were begging for more.  The first half of the second season however, was a different story altogether.  I hated the way they dragged "the hunt for Sophia" over five episodes, it was uncalled for, daunting and gave off the distinct odour of added filler for the sake of stretching things out as far as they possibly could.  I'm not a fool, I see how much material they have to work with.  I know they're cashing in on this show in more ways than one.  Again, I'm not a hater who regarded the first five episodes as "boring" due to "lack of zombie action".  I get that character development is key and takes time to build, but don't insult my intelligence by having these characters run around in circles for half a season and think I won't acknowledge it for the ploy it is.

While we're on the topic of the first half of the season I would also like to point out another reason to ignore the haters.  This may be a series that revolves around a scientific outbreak causing the dead to walk around as zombies, but I think some fans are missing the point.  The zombie apocalypse is the catalyst but by no means the central focus.  What sets this series apart from others is the fact that it illustrates how we, humans, become monsters far more vicious and evil than any walker.  The emotional impact of this storyline stems from real people in a messed up situation trying to keep it together as society (and the world) fall apart around them.  If you want mindless zombie action go rent any of the RESIDENT EVIL films, DAWN OF THE DEAD or 28 DAYS LATER.  This series is trying desperately to give us more than that, and for the most part succeeds.

The cast is still well rounded with Andrew Lincoln leading the pack as Rick Grimes.  Rick's character changes dramatically over the course of the graphic novel series, and this season gives us a taste of that, especially with the last half of the season working up to the explosive finale.  I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume you've watched this entire season before I delve into a couple details/potential spoilers...so be warned if you still have some episodes to go.  Still with me, okay then.  The Rick and Shane deal was a powder keg just itching to explode, even the book virgins could easily see that coming.  The way it all went down was...different, but not altogether bad.  Carl's character becomes seriously dark in the books, and though we see a small piece of that, it's like a grain of sand by comparison.  I really hope they don't drop the ball with certain characters, Carl being one of them.  I didn't mind them inventing a handful of characters who admittedly add to the mix, but don't water down the badass peeps who shape the series into epic status.

THE WALKING DEAD SEASON 2 made for some good TV viewing (after the first five episodes more so), and after the balls to the walls finale I'm aching for more.  My favourite character is Michonne, and why the hell wouldn't she be as what story wouldn't improve with the addition of a sword wielding chick hacking off zombie heads left and right.  I exploded with glee as she appeared saving Andria's life, hooded and sporting her signature chained zombies.  Yes, I loved seeing the prison in the closing moments too, but Michonne is what I've been waiting for all season (I was rooting for TRUE BLOOD's Rutina Wesley to land the role of Michonne as she would have been perfect, but you can't win them all).  This story needed a strong badass Riddick-like anti hero and she's got that one covered in spades.  Add to that, a villain like the Governor and we could be in for one hell of a season 3.  Again, my only fear stems from the idea of these characters (and the ridiculously graphic chaos that comes with them) being watered down in fear of shocking or turning off fans of the TV series that didn't read the books.  In a world where ratings win wars, I'm sure AMC is and has been debating this very issue down to the very last letter, all I ask is that the decision be handled with proper care and good judgement.  At this point I'm still raging for more and that's definitely a good thing.  Here's hoping I'll feel the same way this time next year.

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REVIEW: Jack and Jill

"I don't think you can fail on more epic a level."

Cocky advertising executive Jack Sadelstein is doing everything he can to schmooze Al Pacino into doing one of his commercials and with his stress level already maxed the last thing he wants or needs is a visit from his insane twin sister Jill.  Much to his ultimate dismay she comes over for the holidays and won't leave.

What the hell is wrong with Adam Sandler!?  Seriously, did half his brain melt over the past decade, was he replaced by a doppelganger with a 10 year-old mentality?  No, I'm pretty sure we've all seen and heard this sad tale before.   The guy's just not hungry anymore, and success can be unimaginably cruel when that fire goes out and you simply get lazy.  I'm not one of those haters whining about the past, I know full well the guy couldn't go on talking like an infant, garbling all his dialogue, yelling at imaginary penguins and throwing stuff, I get it, he's grown up, but that doesn't mean he has to suck as a comedian because of it.  And if one thing has become certain it's this; Sandler is definitely going out painfully.  Sad thing is, the pain is all ours. 

Sandler had a great track record of two funny as hell flicks to one snoozer for a long time, and for comedians that's a track record to be proud of as being consecutively funny isn't as easy as people may think.  I won't bother listing these accolades (if you're reading this, you're a broken fan who no doubt remembers the good times), instead I'll drop some of his most recent titles.  YOU DON'T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN was terrible, especially trailing I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU CHUCK AND LARRY which felt like Sandler was at least trying to come back.  FUNNY PEOPLE was alright and I didn't mind JUST GO WITH IT but it was by no means exceptional.  JACK AND JILL is an all time low for me.  Some people hated LITTLE NICKY, but at least it was watchable, this will make every conscious part of your being quiver.

First and foremost I need to address the poop jokes.  Guys, this isn't SNL (by the way, they weren't funny then either), why in the name of Christ are you still squeezing poop jokes into these films!?  WHY!?  I wasn't so much angered by the way everyone here's phoning it in (who'd be surprised at this point), but damn, they're not even doing that, it's more like texting it in while casually driving around in circles on a Sunday afternoon.  The story is garbage, the message is garbage, the dialogue is garbage and the jokes...well, I can't even call them jokes legally.  Two versions of Jet Li = THE ONE = badass.  Two versions of Van Damme = DOUBLE IMPACT = good old fashioned action.  Two versions of Adam Sandler = (gun slowly being put in mouth).  Yes folks, it's that terrible.  And I seriously don't know what these fools did to entice Johnny Depp to come anywhere near this flop, let alone Al Pacino, whose present for an alarming amount of screen time (I will admit that commercial was the ONLY thing that made me laugh...but at the same time cry a little inside).

JACK AND JILL isn't the worst film I've ever sat through but it's damn sure close.  I want to say there was potential for laughs, I mean hell, three quarters of the SNL alums Sandler's worked with over the years are here, along with his regular entourage of peeps.  However, there was one thing that made me wonder...Rob Schneider was nowhere to be found (he's listed in the credits but I didn't see him).  Schneider's been sucking on the teet of Sandler's Happy Madison cash cow for years now, but even he was smart enough to steer clear of this train wreck (or at least from a noticeable role).  I could write ten more paragraphs as to why this flick stank to the high heavens but it's not worthy of print.  You're definitely slumming when you need the Subway sandwich guy in there for attempted laughs.  Like Pacino's Dunkin Donuts commercial, all copies of JACK AND JILL should be tracked down and burned.

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TRAILER: Snow White And The Huntsman

Forget Disney's SNOW WHITE of old, or the new Julia Roberts based cheeky comedy, this is the dark, haunting version you want to see. This trailer has no business looking this cool, and despite having TWILIGHT's Kirsten Stewart as one of the leads, I can somehow look past this because of the THOR crossover (of course it has nothing to do with THOR but you know what I'm implying). Here's hoping this is a good as it has me thinking it will be.


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TRAILER: Prometheus

The last time I got pumped for a Sci-Fi flick it was for SUNSHINE. Admittedly, that movie is still awesome despite falling apart in the final act. I dug AVATAR as well, but this is different, if feels more real, visceral and damn creepy. I'm loving every second of this and I'm glad there's more to look forward to this summer than comic book flicks.

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TRAILER: Dark Shadows

I have nothing against Tim Burton or Johnny Depp, but this incarnation of DARK SHADOWS is atrocious on every level. Originally, DARK SHADOWS was a soap opera of sorts, then remade in the in nineties as a supernatural thriller series (which I loved) starring Ben Cross as Barnabas Collins. This series was not a comedy, and this remake is easily one of the worst remakes I've seen in awhile. I hope this flick goes down in a blaze of glory.

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GAME TRAILER: Diablo 3

Well, for those of us who got pulled into Hell by DIABLO and DIABLO 2, the wait for the next chapter has been long indeed. It's not secret that Blizzard takes their time, but seeing as how full their plate has been of late (WARCRAFT, STARCRAFT), it's no surprise we've waited nearly a decade for DIABLO 3 to surface. Here's the good news, Blizzard officially announced the a release date of May 15 (yes, this May) and here's the taste of the opening cinematic to wet your appetites until then.

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REVIEW: The People Vs. George Lucas

"An entertaining look at the many sides of a cult phenomenon."

Once upon a time, in a basement far, far away, George Lucas had a vision.  This vision would lead to one of the most memorable trilogies of all time (STAR WARS EPISODES IV-VI), followed by one of the arguably worst trilogies of all time (STAR WARS EPISODES I-III).  Two generations of fans dispute these claims and all the ridiculousness that comes with them.

I was born in 1977, the year STAR WARS was released.  Clearly I didn't come into my own film-wise until much later, but one of my first and fondest memories when it comes to movies is the watching (and countless re-watching) of RETURN OF THE JEDI.  What kid growing up in that era didn't want to be Luke Skywalker swinging around a lightsaber (easily one of the coolest weapons ever thought up) and kicking all sorts of ass with the force while saving half naked chicks from creepy worm monsters.  This point was never nailed home better than in JUST MARRIED, when Brittany Murphy asks Ashton Kutcher what he dreamed about as a kid (enter the STAR WARS music with two kids engaged in a lightsaber battle).  Sadly though, us kids grew up and things started to change.

I was never a huge STAR WARS fan, I dig the movies sure, but when I say "huge STAR WARS fan", I recall a roommate of mine telling me that a guy he worked with could name everything there was in those films.  I wasn't impressed until he put it a different way.  "Say it's a scene on the Death Star, in the Cloud City, or somewhere with a lot of people, robots and stuff," he said, "well, all that stuff, all those robots and all those people have names...and he knows them."  That, ladies and gentlemen, is a hardcore STAR WARS fan.  Some of these fans scoffed at the notion of Lucas playing around the with cuts of the film, but it was a cool move initially.  The first time he did it was to polish and add effects that just weren't possible to create when he originally shot the film.  This I can understand.  It's not his fault that technology wasn't advanced enough back in 1977 to accommodate his grandiose idea, so to me, this change was valid and acceptable. 

Little did I know that polishing and adding effects wasn't the cause of fan ire, changing the scene shared by crafty smuggler Han Solo and the not so bright mercenary Greedo, created a "who shot first" debacle that would end in all out war throughout the fan universe.  Apparently (though Lucas denies it), the original cut featured Han shooting Greedo before the bounty hunter had a chance to do anything, creating a badass persona that fans ran with.  The re-cut features Greedo shooting at Han first, missing him completely despite being barely two feet away, only to have Han return fire and kill him in self defence.  The fans didn't like this one bit, and to add insult to injury, Lucas decided not to add the original cuts to the DVD or BLU-RAY collections, making them impossible to watch if you didn't own them previously.  This is one of many debates tossed around the campfire here.   

When Lucas started out, he was a lean, mean hungry machine.  Success (as it often does in Hollywood) changed all that.  The second trilogy felt lazy and clearly lacked the character driven intensity and charisma the original trilogy had in spades.  The second trilogy also dummied things down to a childlike level in hopes of capturing the imagination of a new generation of children.  Fans weren't nearly as insulted by this as they were about the changes Lucas blatantly made when it came to the core of the story, such as the force not being "all around us" and spiritual as Obi Wan describes in the original films.  Instead, it's now described by way of Midichlorians (cells in our bloodstream).  Again, the fans were not amused.

THE PEOPLE VS. GEORGE LUCAS is fuel injected with nerd rage to be sure, but it also brings to light a great many things about STAR WARS and Lucas, you probably don't know.  If you're a fan of the films even remotely, this is an entertaining watch at the very least.  It also features my boss (Mr. Joblo himself, Berge Garabedian) from Joblo.com as well as a comic strip that yours truly, wrote and designed for the site.  The Requiem For Nachos comic strips (which are found not only on Joblo.com, but also at Funny or Die.com), were written to make fun of a certain movie themed situation in the news or by way of re-creating a famous movie situations with a funny twist.  Lucas has been pushing for a STAR WARS TV series that will take place between Episode III and IV, the hilarity of it all stemming from the idea that it's all from the point of view of the rebellion minus the Jedi, the force, lightsabers, any of the characters we know and love...pretty much everything that made STAR WARS cool in the first place.  Naturally I poked fun at this notion by implying that this was all about the money and director Alexandre O. Philippe loved the idea.  He emailed me and added my comic strip to the film, along with my name (John Hamilton) in the credits.  Not too shabby.  Here's a look, I sincerely hope it puts a smile on your face.

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TRAILER: Season 2 Finale: The Walking Dead

I read all the graphic novels for THE WALKING DEAD and though there are some similarities, the show progresses in the same vein as the written series with just enough differences to make it unique. There are pros and cons to be sure, and yes, I do feel they're dragging things out far too thin, but all in all, it's a cool show. That being said, the real crazy stuff's still to come so lets hope they keep things as real as possible with upcoming characters like The Governer and Michonne. Rumour has it Rutina Wesley (TRUE BLOOD's Tara) is up for the role. I can't think of more perfect choice. Here's a sneak peek at the Season 2's finale.

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TRAILER: God Bless America

I found this trailer utterly hilarious as I'm sure most sane people will. Think FALLING DOWN with less family issues and much more getting to the point. Who hasn't taken a step back from life over the past decade and wondered what it would be like to go on a killing rampage? God knows if I took a gun to the movies with me, there would definitely be blood.

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TRAILER: Ice Age: Continental Drift

I'm not sure why they keep making these, I mean how many phases did the Ice Age have before all these damned animals died? Oh well, I guess Ray Romano and John Leguizamo need to eat too...poor bastards.

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TRAILER: Men In Black 3

I don't get Will Smith. He goes on hiatus forever and then comes back for...this!? I'll admit, the first one was good times, but it's rather difficult to get past the abysmal sequel. This one looks like it might be a fun Sunday night on the couch, but that's about it. Come on Will, we need a Bad Boys 3 if you're looking at sequels.

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REVIEW: John Carter

"A sleek take on Mars and a fun adventure."

A civil war veteran on the run and searching for riches stumbles across a medallion that transports him to Mars, a planet inhabited by both humans and aliens, all of which, at war and looking to him as a possible saviour  who can turn the balance.

Disney isn't prone to taking risks as a studio, sure they've rolled the dice a couple times (I mean, who knew if PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, a film based upon a theme park ride, would even succeed), but for the most part they know what they're doing.  Of course, it doesn't hurt that they have a bankroll to rival Scrooge McDuck himself.  Taming the adult themed waters does take more than money however, something Disney found out first hand with CHRONICELS OF NARNIA and THE PRINCE OF PERSIA.  Those two I get; the first is based upon a popular children's book series and the second was a popular video game franchise.  Both titles were relatively known worldwide.  JOHN CARTER is a different story altogether.  I don't feel many people know it (though it too is based upon fairly popular literature...allegedly anyway), and that's a monumental risk when trying to appease the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Gods.

I first caught the trailer awhile back and was confused, I literally sat back in my chair and said, " what the hell was that all about!?"  I'd never heard of JOHN CARTER.  On the plus side, I'm a fan of Taylor Kitsch and have been since THE COVENANT, I also dig a good Sci-Fi/Fantasy epic a la AVATAR, so the intrigue was there to be sure, but somehow I feel the entire marketing campaign for this flick sucked.  Having a dude beam up to a Mars colonised by seven foot tall aliens, actual races of people and immortal demigods who can travel between worlds is a large pill to swallow on the best day, let alone during our theatrical dump season.  Sure, this flick made about 30 million domestically but it was still beaten by THE LORAX (ouch), and what's worse, is in that in two weeks THE HUNGER GAMES comes out which will have people saying, "John who..." if they aren't already. 

Marketing aside, for a film that runs just over two hours JOHN CARTER was still a fun time.  Taylor Kitsch is a great lead, and his character is hilarious.  He's captured by the army in the beginning in hopes of having him fight for them once again (here's a shout out to my man Bryan "Walter White" Cranston), only to have him escape three times and smack everyone around in the process.  I liked Carter's character transformation, it's not unlike many antiheroes we've come to know, but you root for him and that's what matters.  I'll say this about the red planet though, Carter's adventure is the coolest thing to hit Mars since TOTAL RECALL.  Willem Dafoe lends his voice and here's another "HOLLA!" going out to James Purefoy, one of my favourite underrated actors (if you missed SOLOMON KANE you need to stop what you're doing and go watch it RIGHT NOW).  Lynn Collins (TRUE BLOOD, X-MEN ORIGINS WOLVERINE) was smoking hot and in phenomenal shape, as was Kitsch and the rest of the crew, we're talking rigorous 300/SPARTACUS diets and training here, not to mention the swordplay.  JOHN CARTER definitely scores big points in the fine details column.

JOHN CARTER is no doubt one of the coolest and most epic Sci-Fi/Fantasy flicks most people won't see in theatres...or maybe at all.  You can blame timing, marketing, thematic elements or simply bad luck, but after sinking over 250 million into this bad boy and clearly hoping for sequels, the numbers just don't seem to be there and like I said, they might have a chance next week up against 21 JUMP STREET, but it's game over when THE HUNGER GAMES takes center stage.  This film's been in development hell longer than some people live (seventy-nine years) which doesn't come as much of a surprise considering the source material and what they wanted to accomplish.  These aliens looked and felt more realistic than those from AVATAR, and visually, the landscapes, buildings and machines were breathtaking (Carter's wardrobe looked a bit like He-Man's which made grin, but that's okay because Lynn's wardrobe kept me grinning for two hours).  Disney's come a long way, for a PG-13 adventure we still get limbs being cut off, heads a flying and lots of blood (it's blue, but still).  I dug this film and would love to see another, here's hoping word of mouth travels fast enough to make it happen.  

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