Multi Ticket Stub: For this installment, I'm cramming in theater, film, and fiction, ooh la la! Better get to it...
* My Price Point by Mike Albo -- Imagine Spalding Gray, George Carlin, and David Sedaris collaborating with your yoga instructor to write a zinging, hilarious critique of what passes for American "culture" these days. I went on Friday night and nearly split my pants from laughing: "I'm trapped inside a Pilates ball!" Hoo! OK, maybe you had to be there -- and you should go, it's witty, goofy, pointed, and intensely creative; the guy is onstage the whole time, talking, dancing around, sitting in the lotus position, railing about "TiVo guilt," prescription drugs, and his "D-list celebrity stalker." Brilliant. (A+)
* Fever Pitch -- Why this movie is getting such mixed reviews is beyond me. Critics seem to be disappointed that it's not a typical Farrelly yukfest, and I bet some viewers are avoiding it because they assume that it is. Miss Mandy and I caught a matinee right down the block from Fenway Park, and I guess if you're not in Boston you won't get that crackle of recognition when "Dirty Water" plays over the opening credits...but still, what's not to like about a cute, competent RomCom in this Season of Garbage before the big summer movies open? It's not a baseball movie, and it's not a dumb comedy -- it's the successor to High Fidelity in the Modern Relationship Movie Pantheon, and not just because it's based on a Nick Hornby book, thank you. Jimmy Fallon was stunningly likable and...dare I say it, subtle as a math teacher who falls for Drew Barrymore's reliably pert career woman, and their onscreen chemistry keeps the movie chugging. She's a workaholic who wants to commit, he's a nice guy but he schedules his life around the Red Sox. They break up, make up, and the Sox win the World Series (!) as almost an afterthought -- and that's OK, because the movie is really about learning to be flexible in love. Speaking of which, everyone's favorite gay sidekick, Sex & The City's "Stanford Blatch," has a funny turn here as an ambiguous anesthesiologist. Extra points for prominently featuring Jason Varitek! (A)
* I guess there's technically no "stub" when you read a great book, but I wanted to note my best read of 2005 thus far: The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. I'm a latecomer to her work because of the Buzz Factor -- sometimes the more awards and recommendations a book/film/record gets, the less I want to read/see/listen to it. Anyway, I was totally taken in by the "Buy 2 Get 1 Free" table at Borders a few weeks ago (the shame!), and this was one of the 3. The writing is so light, effortless and assured, she makes a meandering family story seem like the freshest, most original idea in the world. It's funny without being catty, nostalgic but not sappy, serious but not self-important. The Gangulis are Indian/American, and the details of their life in Boston, growing up in the 80's, are perfectly rendered, right down to the corduroy pants and chunky plastic eyeglasses. The narration shifts from the parents, Ashima and Ashoke, whose marriage was arranged and who long to return to India for good, to their son Gogol, named after the Russian writer in a quirky twist of fate. His coming of age and star-crossed love life drive the novel to an elegant, bittersweet conclusion that literally kept me up half the night. Highly recommended! (A)