Ten days ago, I liveblogged my experiences on JetBlue airlines. It was a fun time, and hopefully everyone enjoyed my passing commentary about the minutiae of a cross-country flight. Well, now I’m on a United flight (or Untied, if you’re dyslexic) back to Los Angeles, and I’m proud to say that the number of undisciplined, screaming children has diminished. The downside though is that this isn’t JetBlue. That means I have to pay for meals, the seats aren’t leather, and even worse: I’m captive to an airing of Joey. Yes, that’s right. Normally, I wouldn’t even tune in, but, well, how can I resist?
Other bonuses for this flight: I’ll get to see Penelope Cruz and her borzoi nose in Sahara, and better yet, I can relish in the fact that one of my very favorite stars from 24 is sitting just a few rows ahead of me. Very exciting.2:30 PM
The pilot is babbling about the temperature in Los Angeles; so I’ll take a moment to recap all the exciting things that have happened so far. First of all, I bet you’re wondering about that 24 star. Okay, I’ll explain. Back at the airport, I found myself in a sour mood. it began while waiting in the self-check aisle. I can’t tell you how many people had to be alerted that a kiosk was open. Hey idiots, try looking around instead of telling your sister Patty about the wonderful new butter cozy you got at K-Mart. And yes, I’m definitely the jerk at the airport that says sternly, “There’s an open kiosk!” Actually, I didn’t have to this time because some snappy woman in front of me was already on top of it. Anyway, after trudging through check-in and security (don’t get me started on the space cadets there), I had to navigate around several hefty couples walking at a pace befitting a slug migration. Nevertheless, I reached my gate intact, albeit cranky. I knew I was being unreasonably harsh to these poor strangers, and that was probably because I hadn’t actually eaten anything all day. Luckily, a convenient Starbucks counter was just behind me. Maybe a double-blended mocha frap would cheer me up (yes, yes, I like the foofy drinks). Wouldn’t you know it though? There was a line. Sigh. Okay, let’s not be ridiculous. It’s just a line. No sense at getting frustrated at everything. I’m just hungry and grumpy. Surely once I drank my overpriced coffee confection, I’d be in better spirits.
Well, as I tried to maintain some semblance of civility, the two idiot women in front of me giggled excitedly as if this were the first Starbucks they had ever seen. Shit. This is going to be trouble. As the ladies (who now are sitting across the aisle from me and making dumb banter) perused the sandwich selection, the Starbucks worker asked about three times, “May I help you?” Fighting… urge… to… snap… Eventually, the women realized that the Starbucks worker wasn’t simply asking a rhetorical question and handed over their sandwiches — but not before saying, “Oooh! They have bottled Frappucinos!” Yeah, welcome to five years ago.
Eventually, I procured my foofy drink (no whip cream though, thank you very much), and as predicted, I immediately felt better and less grumpy. But what really got me all happy and excited was the fact that none other than Roger Cross — a.k.a. Curtis from 24 — was standing at my gate. Awesome. Curtis is one of my favorite characters on the show, and just yesterday I wrote a gushy Emmy piece saying how he should have been nominated. I had to say something, but no, I don’t want to be THAT guy. So I did what I normally do in such situations: quietly paced nearby, occasionally glancing in his direction as if I really needed to look at that bank of pay phones behind him. Needless to say, I was very excited. Flying to Los Angeles, there’s almost always a celeb on my flight, but it’s only the 24 stars that get me going. Once, two years ago, I had the real life couple of Sarah Clarke and Xander Berkeley on my flight (a.k.a. Nina and Mason). I was so excited that I didn’t even realize Gwenyth Paltrow and David Hyde Pierce had boarded as well (but don’t worry, I had quite the TVgasm moment at the baggage claim as all four celebs conversed). Point is, I was very excited to see Roger Cross. And it goes without saying, by the way, that this is all very pathetic of me. Just let me have my moment.
Anyway, after about ten minutes of this, I decided that enough was enough. I was going to say something. Who knew what might happen? About three years ago, I told Jason Cerbone (Jackie Aprile Jr. on The Sopranos) that I enjoyed his work, and then he came and sat down next to me and asked to read my Entertainment Weekly. Maybe I’d have the same effect on Roger Cross? You know, we’d start to banter, I’d tell him about TVgasm, he’d start coming to the site, we’d get a visit to the set, and then maybe, just maybe, I’d get an Oscar. Okay, took the fantasy too far.
So I walked up to Roger Cross, introduced myself, and told him that I really enjoyed his work on the show. He was very polite and said thank you with his patented growly Curtis voice. Honestly, I half expected him to punch me in the stomach and haul me into an interrogation room for some torture. I could immediately sense that he wasn’t the banter type; so I just simply told him about the site and that just yesterday I wrote a piece saying he should get an Emmy nod. “Oh, that’s very nice,” he said. By this time, however, I realized how amazingly pathetic it sounded to say “I have a website.” I just wanted to scurry away and never see Roger Cross ever again. He extended his hand a second time to me, and I said goodbye. I then spent the next twenty five minutes with my sunglasses on trying to look super cool.
Smooth, very smooth.
Eventually, I boarded the airplane and sat patiently through United’s safety video which looked to be filmed about fifteen years ago. Now I can’t be positive, but I think the actor playing male flight attendant is the same guy who drove the bus on Riding the Bus With My Sister. Still haven’t decided which gig is more embarrassing. Meanwhile, just when we were about to wheel out, some douchebag came running onto the plane. Way to hold us all up, jerk. Luckily, the stewardess took care of all the passive aggression: “As you can see ladies and gentleman, we had one late passenger.” Nice! Way to make him feel dumb. I wish we could have thrown old veggies at him.
Okay, Sahara is starting now. Let’s check this out.
The movie starts with a Civil War battle. Cannonballs everywhere. Sadly, Penelope Cruz has not been shot from a cannon yet. I’ve got my fingers crossed though.
The Civil War scene oddly transitions into the opening credits. Incongruous funk music on the soundtrack. Might we see Ms. Cruz playing the wah-wah guitar? Actually, I have a very bad feeling Matthew McConaughey is providing the vocals on this stupid song. I think I hate this movie already.
William H. Macy is in this movie? Great. Maybe he’ll play a mentally challenged salesman in the desert.
Ah, the first Penelope sighting. She rides in an SUV while little African children run by her side and wave. You’re so cute, Africa! Yes you are! Yes you are!!
Penelope is a doctor. She’s wearing a little mask and trying to treat a sickly man. Her prescription: “One dose of Frida starring my good friend, Salma Hayek.”
The United “Fiesta Snack Mix” has arrived. It’s quite tasty actually. Oh shit, Penelope is getting attacked! A man says, “You have no business being here!” He then adds, “I saw Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and it sucked!”
Here’s Steve Zahn. He’s playing the goofy, redneck sidekick. He should really play these sort of roles more often.
Oh, and here’s Matthew McConaughey playing the goofy, redneck charmer. He should really play these sort of roles more often.
Hey, Steve Zahn is wearing a trucker cap to a black tie event. HILARious! Classic Zahn!
Uh-oh. Thunderstorms up ahead on the flight. Getting ready for turbulence. This might be just the excitement this movie needs.
Penelope Cruz says there’s a plague in Africa. She must alert the W.H.O.! And Salma Hayek!
Penelope says she lives in Monterey. Matthew replies, “There’s great diving in Monterey.” She then says, “Is that all you think about? Diving?” Yeah, what’s up with all the thinking about diving, JERK?!?!?!
Steve Zahn is telling an old yarn about catching a marlin. To whichever Paramount exec said “punch this scene up a little”, bravo.
Um, the pilot just told the flight attendants to take a seat. Apparently we’re headed right into the jaws of the monster! I hope Roger Cross is okay.
Shakey, shakey. Not two seconds after the plane starts to bump around, the dumb bitch next to me stands up and stretches. And yes, it’s the same girl who just discovered that Starbucks actually sells coffee.
Back to Sahara. “Sweet Home Alabama” plays on the soundtrack. Leonard Skynard in a Matthew McConaughey movie? Now I’ve heard it all!
Matthew’s boat drifts on a river. Another boat appears around the bend. Steve Zahn says, “Guys……” What the hell? No “we’ve got company”? Ah, I spoke too soon. Matthew McConaughey says, “Company.” A minimalist twist on an old classic!
Steve Zahn’s sidekick (yes, the sidekick has a sidekick) just shot a flare gun, but the flare went wildly out of control. In response, the guy behind me just cackled very loudly. Yes, HILARious.
“WHAT ARE WE DOING?” yells the sidekick. Uh, making a crappy movie. Zing!
The number of people laughing at the Zahn humor is astounding. Boy do they have a treat coming up with Joey!
Penelope and her sidekick (everyone has one) rummage through a dark town they suspect has been ravaged by a plague. They encounter a dead body and exclaim, “Oh my god!” It’s almost as if a plague has killed someone in the plague-infested town! What a coincidence!
Okay, Penelope is descending by rope into a well. My dream come true! Odds that a rat or a bat will startle her? 3 to 2. Odds that she’ll lose her footing? 2 to — oops, just happened. Careful Penelope!
“Got what we need. Let’s get you out of there!” says a guy to Dr. Penelope. Hmmm.. What will go wrong? If you said “Penelope’s sidekick will get shot to death!” you would be correct. But don’t worry, before he died he said, “We’ve got company.” Nice callback!
Penelope status: stuck at the bottom of a well. I wonder if it will suddenly fill with water and she’ll have to crawl out before she drowns? Oh, and maybe Matthew will save her! And maybe, when he shows up, he’ll say “We’ve got company!”
Here’s something cool. Penelope had a second sidekick. And he just got shot too.
The bad guys just torched Penelope’s cars. Don’t they realize those were gifts from Salma Hayek??
Penelope update: the bad guys just tried to shoot a few rounds into her, but Matthew came out of nowhere to save the day. Now she’s trying to get her footing and climb out the well. Fall! Die!
Penelope update: WTF??? She actually climbed out of the well! If Spider-Man and Salma Hayek had a love child…
Ah, the Penelope!
Excellent. A tribe of local Arabs with machine guns all yelling “La la la la la!” I’m sure the two Muslim women sitting in front of me appreciate the depiction.
Oh good. Delroy Lindo! The true mark of a generic Paramount feature.
The local tribe leader tells Matthew that he must leave the next morning at daybreak. Too bad. That afternoon they’re gonna be showing “Frida” in town.
This movie officially makes no sense.
You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Penelope Cruz wearing Arabian robes on top of a camel.
Check that. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Penelope Cruz jump out from under a pile of sand and hop on a camel in slow mo. What do you think about that, SALMA?
The superfriends are headed into a solar plant in the middle of the desert. Again, completely logical.
In the plant: Zahn asks, “What the hell is this place?” I wonder, WILL THEY HAVE COMPANY??
I love the deductions in this movie. Penelope could ask “What’s that?” and Matthew would say, “Oh, that’s a forklift. Looks like it’s got rocks. Wait, the only rocks around here are Uranium. They must be powering up some sort of nuclear device. And it’s probably gonna go off tonight! And it’s headed to Russia! Quick! Let’s check it out!”
Matthew says, “It’s time to call in the cavalry.” Later, he adds, “Well, that’s a new one!” Zahn replies, “We’re home free now.” I start to realize that this movie is just one elaborate experiment: what would happen if someone wrote a script made entirely of clichés?
Matthew and Steve Zahn wander lost in the desert dunes. Oh no, they’re staggering! I wonder if at the last moment they’ll stumble onto something… Something BIG!
Look! They stumbled onto something! Why it’s… a crashed airplane from the ’20s. Oh and conveniently, it still flies. Apparently it runs on Matthew McConaughey’s brazen Southern charm.
Steve Zahn has magically intuited that there must be a giant bomb in the solar plant (yeah, they’re back inside). This is based on ZERO evidence. Luckily, two minutes later, he conveniently finds a map that has the BOMB LOCATION ON IT! I love when the bad guys do that.
Oh no! The bad guys are getting away with Penelope! But wait! She just jumped out of a helicopter! GIVE ME FRIDA OR GIVE ME DEATH!
Great. Penelope is lying on the ground, knocked out cold. Well, that’s what happens when you jump from a helicopter, bitch.
So the trio is reunited and driving through the desert, trying to avoid a helicopter full of bad guys. Wonder if they’ll crash, crawl out of their car, and just when they think it’s all over, one of them will spot the missing war ship.
Penelope is throwing dynamite! Like the t-shirt says, everybody loves a spicy Latina!!!
Surprise, surprise — the car chase ended at the ship.
Matthew wants to fire up an old cannon. Zahn: “No, it’ll never work! It’s 150 years old!” Oh Steve. You pay too much attention to “reality”.
Hey, a helicopter just blew up. Are they allowed to show that on a plane?
With the bad guy dead, his army immediately drops its guns and praises Matthew McConaughey. Makes perfect sense.
Delroy Lindo really contributed a lot to this movie.
The movie ends with Penelope Cruz wearing a sexy swim cap by the beach. Welcome back from 1943!
Okay, time for some more in-flight entertainment. Carol King has been babbling about her music for the past ten minutes. With dollar signs in her eyes, she wraps up by saying that one of the most exciting things to have happened over her career is that Starbucks now sells music. Another exciting thing: no one cares about you.
Patricia Arquette struggles to read: “Hi, I’m Patricia Arquette. NBC InFlight will be right back.” Ten words! Well done!
I fear that my laptop won’t make it to Joey. It was to be my snarkiest moment yet!
Memo to Suze Orman: the tanning bed is NOT a toy.
So, perhaps reacting to Suze Orman’s radioactive orange skin, the laptop finally called it quits. That’s okay, though. The flight ended shortly after as well. Joey did not air, thankfully, and I was able to enjoy the rest of my time in peace. Plus, I saw Roger Cross again at the baggage claim, but I didn’t do the little “Hello again” nod.