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You Can’t Stop This Feeling with Siblings

Older siblings have always wondered about their younger brother or sister…

Being an uncle is not only about spending time with and goofing around with nieces and nephews, but also having a legitimate reason to see the newest animated movie as an adult. It’s true. Having been hooked by JT’s (Justin Timberlake’s) catchy song of the summer, “Can’t Stop The Feeling!” for several months, I was looking forward to seeing the movie that featured this song and those famous, crazy-haired troll dolls my older sisters collected way back when.

“Trolls” is in theaters and, lucky for me, one of my nieces invited me to see the latest film in the DreamWorks film roll. Now, since “Trolls” is still new, no spoilers will follow. Instead, what caught my eye was a preview for a new animation from the same movie studio that might have also caught the eye of my niece. She is an older sister to twin baby boys and, perhaps, the trailer below rang somewhat true with her…

and me as well, the youngest of three kids.

Well played, DreamWorks…well played.

P.S. Apparently, political commentator and former Florida congressman Joe Scarborough is the inspiration for the animated father. 

Welcome to The Goldbergs: Episode XXII

“Sunday Matinee: It’s like wearing someone else’s wedding dress”

Spoiler Alert: This post contains scenes and content from the May 6, 2014 episode of The Goldbergs

As Adam’s quote above clearly explains, seeing the theatrical release of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi on opening night became the pinnacle of his existence. And, as all good younger brothers do when they’re in a life-altering quandary (speaking from personal experience here), Adam blackmailed his older sister into waiting with him in line to see this new epic space tale on the silver screen at the local theater.

Obvious success, right?

Think again.

A long line + a long time waiting (Forrest Gump-level soda’s consumed by the excited Adam) + sitting in between a 46 year-old man with a talking Yoda puppet and another grown man sitting on a life-size Tauntaun (no joke) + Erica’s friend walking by with two “cool” guys not into Star Wars = an epic betrayal and two cinnamon rolls/swirly muffins.

We’ll come back to this brother-sister equation a little later.

In the meantime, middle child Barry was busy embracing all things Hulk Hogan (as we all do). Unbeknownst to Barry though, the WWF wasn’t real. After several (yes, it took several) warnings that slamming your opponent over the head with a folded chair was not a legitimate aspect of real wrestling, Barry was training to do whatever it took to impress his crush. For him, this meant earning a varsity jacket. Hilariously, the only person standing in his way was his over-protective mother Beverly Goldberg with her countless stories of fellow teenage boys who all seemed to have tragic mishaps with absolutely everything she didn’t want her son to do.

The stories were totally believable, though. I mean, we’ve all seen a mom carrying the head of her son around the grocery store with her son’s vital organs perfectly functioning from his neck after a freak wrestling accident, right?

Okay, maybe Murray had a point about that one…

Growing up with siblings, there are those special moments that arrive with all the excitement and fanfare of a new Star Wars movie: the instance(s) when an older sister just might become a friend. It’s as rare as holding a real-life lightsaber and it should be treated with as much precision and ecstatic jubilation as waving Luke’s trusted sword made of blue light. This moment occurs during the older sister’s teenage years, which can be difficult because this is when she’s trying to leave behind childish indulgences. This includes dressing up like Princess Leia and battling her then much younger brother dressed as Darth Vader in their basement recorded on VHS (ie-Adam’s winning bargaining chip). As this sitcom does so perfectly, this plot line really hit home for me. My two older sisters and I used to build forts and act goofy all the time in our younger days before the necessity to be “cool” became the undisputed priority of all things important.

For me, it wasn’t Star Wars, but a compendium of events with my two older sisters: It was riding bikes to UDF for ice cream during the summer, playing football with one of my older sister’s friends one Saturday, learning clever and edgy jokes while sitting in an Asian airport while on a family vacation, being “kidnapped” by my sister and her friends for my birthday, trick-or-treating with my sister and her friends, visiting both of them at college and laughing at old-style SNL humor found in Grown Ups and Grown Ups 2.

The relationship between siblings is fascinating and special to say the least, partly because the seemingly unfiltered honesty. We can be blunt with comedic “burns” and it works somehow. We can blackmail our older sister with pictures during her first boy-girl party ($5 a pop!). A comfort level and understanding grows between brother and sister(s), even to the point when Erica finally realizes that after bailing on her younger brother to spend time with her cool friends while he went to the bathroom and therefore lost his place in line, she knew the real reason why Adam coaxed her to seeing Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi with him: the hope for sibling friendship.

Cognizant of her little brother’s sincere motivation, Erica did the unthinkable: she dressed up like Princess Leia (again), fully equipped with cinnamon rolls/swirly muffins on her ears and bribed an usher with a date at the local theater to sneak them into Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi!

“Star Wars: It gave us lightsabers, the force and Billy Dee Williams in a cape.” 

And a fun day at the movies between brother and sister.

At school, Barry heeded the wrestling advice of his dad Murray. After suffering defeat on the mat to his mother in front of everybody (don’t mess with Thunder Bev!), he embraced his WWF character (also named Barry from Philadelphia) and dominated his opponent with the support of his family looking on with pride.

Victory!

As his crush looked on with smiling approval, Barry messed that moment up like only Barry could, which led to a halted chair-over-the-head of his opponent finale.

But don’t worry, Big Tasty will be surely be back for another round…       

The Goldbergs: Return of the Family.

Protecting Thy Kingdom with Hyper-Hilarity

Spoiler Alert: This is a recap of the March 18, 2014 episode of The Goldbergs:

We’ve all been there.

There are moments when we surprise someone close to us because we make the assumption that it will “be good for them.” We want this person to feel better by doing a nice gesture for them. This gift can be delivered in a variety of fashions, including off-white leather, which was the case for the quintessential creature of habit Murray Goldberg.

He wears the same style of pants, shirt, socks and underwear (the latter was of some importance in this episode…). Once home, Murray proceeds to take off his shoes and khaki pants (as we all do) and make the trek to his favorite chair (“Mr. Chair”) that is reminiscent of Marty Crane’s reclining kingdom of masterpiece furniture in Frasier. The only difference is Murray’s throne consists of darker colors, but the spirit and eye-catching attention it demands are identical.

In some ways, Marty and Murray are kindred sitcom spirits…

Beverly Goldberg, however, was having none of this. The time had come for change and this change arrived as tall and enforcing as Beverly’s perfectly styled hair with help from her best friend Aqua Net.

“I need to command respect with my giant hair!”

What Beverly did not anticipate was the scheming mobility of her usually statuesque husband. The journey of revenge to surprise each other with preemptive decisions took predictable and unpredictable turns, including a Benihana-quality fish display and feeding frat guys carrots and celery sticks.

They are the Goldbergs after all.

While this humorous game of hide-and-seek between their parents was occurring, Adam and Barry engaged in a similar mind game. Tired of scratching spit balls off his glasses and books, along with having his face plastered against the window of his school bus, Adam decided to hire a bodyguard to combat a bully. Unfortunately for him, Kevin Costner wasn’t available and he had to settle for his hot tempered, Hulk-like older brother Barry.

Hey, you know what it’s like to wait 10 weeks for a football phone that hasn’t come, which was promised to arrive in 8 weeks. You get angry!

Anyways, Adam’s plan appeared to be working as his big bad brother Barry commanded every one’s attention and fear on the school bus, thereby allowing Adam to ride to and from school without fear, as well as being spit ball free. This was true, until his plan backfired more quickly than he ever could have imagined. One thing you have to understand is that if you release the Hulk, there’s no telling what will happen.

Ironically, Adam neutralized one bully, but created an even bigger one. Barry had to be stopped. But how?

Quite literally, the Hulk’s true colors needed to be revealed by way of Hypercolor.

Continuing their game of raiding each others’ treasured possessions, the Goldberg household lost a stove, a television, Aqua Net (which led to Beverly’s bangs being accidentally burned off by daughter Erica) and a drawer full of tightie whities replaced by boxer shorts (which became a “TMI” crisis of epic proportions). However, thanks to Murray, they gained a microwave. Pops had the perfect reaction to his first bag of microwaved popcorn, which is something I can personally relate to with the radioactive energy of a thousand suns.

“A cure for polio, a man on the Moon, and now this!”

Beverly finally (though unassumingly) revealed her true motives for getting rid of and replacing Murray’s old, worn chair: she wanted it gone for her, not because it was would help Murray. After Murray explained his perspective to this realization, which she could relate to for the important things she cherishes within her personal kingdom, Beverly knew what she had to do.  

Frustratingly, it involved a road from Goodwill to a frat house of an Animal House-likeness.

After refusing claims to lift her top in a frat house as part of a negotiation for Murray’s old chair, Beverly cleverly (yup, that just happened!) convinced the frat guy that he was, in fact, the only boob in the room. A clean frat house and a tasty vegetable medley turned out to be the perfect juxtaposed recipe for returning “Mr. Chair” to its rightful suburban kingdom.

Rising up to a bully can be treacherous, but that’s exactly what Adam, his former bully (wonderful irony) and the entire school bus did. The Hulk Barry was thrown from the bus with the help of a hundred hands, which was hilariously visible on his blue Hypercolor shirt. The two day reign of terror was over, but the back story required another scene.

Interestingly and bravely, Barry disclosed to his younger brother that, at school, some of his classmates tease and bully him. He confessed that it felt nice to have control of a situation, like that on Adam’s school bus. Then, as Barry gave Adam his binder of Garbage Pail Kids back, he assured Adam that he will always protect him for free because he’s his brother.

This moment, like the one between Beverly and Murray when “Mr. Chair” was reintroduced in the family room, underscores the 1986 classic, “The Glory of Love.”

The love of your family: Trust me, it’s good for you.

Gettin’ Tricky: ’80s Style

“The Goldbergs” on ABC continues to do everything right.

Television shows and products have a tendency to, occasionally, be over-hyped (except Life Alert, that’s the real deal!). This is simply not the case with America’s new favorite family from the ’80s: The Goldbergs. This sitcom looked amazing from the promos and almost instantaneously became one of the “Must See” shows of the week. The cast is dynamite, from the two unknown actors and actress who portray the kids/siblings to the hilariously lovable and recognizable parents and eccentric grandfather.

Jeff Garlin, Wendi McLendon-Covey and George Segal all bring their comedic experience and nuances to their parental characters who continue to complement each other and the kids perfectly. The kids epitomize the three-sibling dynamic so well it’s almost frightening. But funny frightening. Having grown up with two older sisters, there are definitely some similarities.

We can all relate to our Mom worrying about us while waiting for our confirmation call informing her we had arrived at our neighbor’s house, fearing that we will somehow find ourselves lying face down in a ditch somewhere. But has that ever happened? Ever?

Moms are just a little paranoid I suppose.

The scenes from last night’s episode that showed Barry and Erica collaborating together in order to trick their über-Mom Beverly for car privileges were diabolical, genius and primed for genuine laughs at that special moment of the forgotten (yet essential) detail. The end result was a quintessential middle child moment for señor Barry.

It was muy divertido!

While Adam’s remote control ploy with Erica (and Barry later) against Murray was pretty tame, it still made for a great family bonding moment. Deception-centered yes, but great nonetheless. Could that trick be pulled off today…

Plus, the references to all things gloriously ’80s have been nothing short of pure magnificence. When nostalgic movie posters and movie clips, clothes, music, cars and attitudes are combined with the clever, fresh and funny dialogue from the creative writers and performed by the brilliant cast of talented known and unknown actors and actresses, it makes for a sincerely fantastic show.

Add in the occasional dose of heart/love and a soundtrack of awesomeness and you’ve got “The Goldbergs.”

Perhaps no other line from last night’s rad episode could encapsulate the love this family shows for one another than the following sequence: Murray, after driving around for an hour one night looking for his (moron) son because of his wife’s nagging, apocalyptic pleas to find him, drives onto a lonely road to spot none other than Barry’s red Flyer’s jacket and said son about ten feet to his right. Murray is relieved to have found his oldest son. Only temporarily though…

“You couldn’t have been sitting up in a ditch? Or reclining comfortably? No. Face down! Like she said!”

So, that can actually happen…who knew? And the point goes to Beverly.

On a note of equal importance, Beverly wants everyone to watch, “The Goldbergs” every Tuesday night at 9:00 p.m. on ABC!

THE GOLD-BERGS