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Hungry for laughs? Check out John Pinette

Hungry for laughs? Check out John Pinette
Aug. 8, 2011
By G. Michael Dobbs
Managing Editor
This week in the DVD column there is a pair of funny men and a vampire movie worth watching.
John Pinette: Still Hungry
and
Lavell Crawford: Can a Brother Get Some Love?

Growing up in the 1960s and 70s, the comedy album was one of the staples of my listening habits. Bill Cosby, Stan Freberg and Godfrey Cambridge, were frequent guests in our home thanks to their records.
As I grew older, I sought out comedy collections by Jonathan Winters and Eddie “The Old Philosopher” Lawrence, among others.
Although there are artists such as “Weird Al” Yankovic who still are making audio the primary medium for their comedy, the number of comedy videos is growing as the preferred format to reproduce comedy and here are two DVDs worth watching, at least once.
John Pinette has been a prominent stand-up comic for years and is well known for his love — perhaps obsession — of food. He reports that he no longer visits buffets, because of his health — and the restraining orders.
Pinette is not just a one-note comic. He does a screamingly funny bit about going to an electronics store to buy a television and struggling to make the salesman explain why he needs an extended warranty.
Pinette has great timing and masterfully twists his cherub-like face to wonderful effect. Pinette uses profanity sparingly — and to great effect. I’d love to see this guy in person.
Lavell Crawford is a relative newcomer on the comedy scene and came to the attention of many people through his appearance on the television series “Last Comic Standing.”
Crawford is no small guy himself, but his comedy centers more on his memories of growing up and observations on life. I liked his very funny routine about his mother’s tough love.
Like comedy albums, the success of these DVDs will be in how many times one plays them and that will be a matter of the buyer’s comedic taste.
Stake Land

I really liked this new indie vampire movie, despite the fact the film is essentially a somber version of “Zombieland.”
Usually, I get turned off by two films of the same genre with such similar plots, but the direction is so competent and the film has such compelling performances that it overcame my standard objections.
Matt is terrified when a vampire attacks his family and is saved by an enigmatic wanderer — only known as “Mister” — whose sole mission in life is to kill the undead.
The nation is under siege by a vampire plague and the United States is no more. The countryside is dotted with settlements of people banding together for survival as well communities of religious extremists who embrace the vampires as part of a cleansing apocalypse.
Mister and Matt are trying to get north where a settlement called “New Eden” supposedly exists. Along the way a nun, a Marine and a pregnant young woman join their journey.
This film strikes a balance between a tense horror film and a character study about people banding together under duress. There is never a moment that didn’t strike me as authentic and genuine.
There is a real mournfulness about this film that perfectly matches the story.
Gorehounds might be disappointed there is a restrained amount of bloodshed, although frankly I thought there was plenty for this kind of movie. I liked the fact the vampires were monsters and not some sort of romantic figures in this post-“Twilight” world.
The film has one surprise in the cast: 1980s leading lady Kelly McGillis, the co-star of “Top Gun” and “Witness.” McGillis is in a supporting character role as the nun who joins the group of refugees and does well.
Horror fans should give this film a try.

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