ESPN Offers Sneak Peek at New Documentary, More In NFL Sunday Countdown Week 2

Courtesy:  ESPN

Courtesy: ESPN

ESPN has a change to its NFL Week 2 schedule to pass on to audiences.  Broadcast of the network’s weekly Sunday NFL Countdown will air this week Sunday, September 15th beginning at 10am on ESPN.  Chris Berman will anchor the broadcast.  He will be joined by NFL analysts Cris Carter, Mike Ditka, Tom Jackson, Keyshawn Johnson, and Ray Lewis.  Also on board for this week’s three-hour pre-game show will be senior fantasy sports analyst Matthew Berry, NFL analyst Ron Jaworski, and NFL insiders Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter.  Berry brings to the table this week the discussion of a rather unique punishment instated by one fantasy league.  The story is just one of many stores shared in Berry’s new book.

Berman and company will focus on five more matchups in week two with insight from reporters at each game.  The first of those games is a matchup of the Washington Redskins and Green Bay Packers.  Reporter Suzy Kolber and NFL analyst Merril Hoge will have all the latest information on that matchup.  In coordination with coverage of the game, ESPN will also have a special feature on the Redskins’ team name and the controversy surrounding it Sunday morning on Outside The Lines.  Bob Holtzman will have the story.  Audiences can catch the special edition of Outside The Lines  at 8am on ESPN2.

Something else to watch for in week 2 is the annual “Manning Bowl.”  Eli and brother Peyton face off as the Broncos take on the G-Men this week.  ESPN reporter  Josina Anderson will have all the latest from that game. Leading up to the game, Sunday NFL Countdown will feature a sneak peek at ESPN’s new documentary on the brothers, The Book of Manning.  The documentary kicks off the third season of ESPN Films’ SEC Storied series.  It focuses on the legendary Manning family, from father Archie to his equally famed sons.  Veteran actor John Goodman (Monsters UniversityMonsters, Inc., Roseanne) narrates the special, which will feature home movies of the Manning brothers in their youth, interviews with those closest to the Manning family and more.  It airs Tuesday, September 24th at 8PM ET on ESPN.

The third of the matchups on which NFL Sunday Countdown will focus is the week two matchup of the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers.  Dominguez and company will look at the pump fake of Seattle QB Russell Wilson.  Audiences will get to hear from Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell as he discusses how he helped the former NC State University QB on the use of the technique.

Also planned for coverage in week 2 are matchups between the Cowboys and Chiefs, and the Eagles and Chargers.  More information on all of this week’s coverage from NFL Sunday Countdown is available online at http://www.facebook.com/ESPN and http://espn.go.com/nfl/notebook/_/page/sundaycountdown11/your-weekly-nfl-guide.

To keep up with all of the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Monsters University A College Flick For A Younger Generation

Courtesy:  Walt Disney Studios

Courtesy: Walt Disney Studios

Every generation has its own college movie.  The 1970s boasted the timeless college comedy, Animal House.  In the 1980’s the social strata of college took another turn in the equally popular comedy, Revenge of the Nerds.  The 1990s saw art imitate life when Jeremy Piven (Entourage, Mr. Selfridge) and David Spade (Rules of Engagement, Tommy Boy, Saturday Night Live) went toe to toe in PCU.  The children of the 2000s even had their own college flicks in the Van Wilder franchise.  Sadly, that franchise was largely forgettable.  Now in the second decade of the 2000s, Disney/Pixar has released this generation’s college movie in the form of Monsters University.  It should come as no surprise to audiences that little more than four months after it premiered in U.S. theaters, Monsters University is already scheduled to be released on DVD, Blu-ray and BD/DVD/Digital combo pack.  It’s definitely not the worst movie of the year.  But it isn’t the year’s best, either.  Though in its defense, it does deserve at least a spot on the list of the year’s best movies.  The reason for this mixed response is that on one hand, it should be obvious to older audiences how this family friendly college flick is little more than an update of the previously noted movies.  This isn’t the movie’s only problem.  Just as Disney/Pixar’s Cars 2 focused far too much on Mater (voiced by Larry the Cable Guy), so did Monsters University have its share of problems with character development.  In its defense though, what can be said good about Monsters University is that it does teach some valuable lessons, which are just part of the heart that this story boasts.  That heart is just enough to make the movie worth at least one watch for those that have yet to see it.

The most obvious problem that rises with Monsters University is its general lack of originality.  Monsters, Inc. was such a wonderful film because it was original.  Not even the likes of the 1989 Fred Savage/Howie Mandel flick, Little Monsters could compare to Monsters, Inc.  In understanding this, Monsters University sadly pales in comparison to its forerunner in this avenue.  All it did was take elements of all of the previously mentioned college flicks and tone them down to make them into one family friendly movie.  Yes, it’s good that otherwise grown-up movies finally have a family friendly outlet.  But considering that Pixar has quite the history of being a front runner in the modern world of CG “animated” films thanks to its original movies, this mash-up of already made films knocks the studio (and Disney) down a notch.

The mash-up of so many already made films is only one of the problems from which Monsters University suffers.  Not only does it lift liberally from other much more classic movies, it even goes so far as to lift from its own predecessor.  That is obvious throughout the near two hour movie.  There’s even a scene in which Mike and Sully end up in the real world and have a heart to heart talk before their effort to return to the monster world.  This sort of writing behavior harkens right back to another Disney movie that goes by the name of Tron: Legacy.  That movie basically took the original and retold it for a new generation.  Monsters University has done much the same thing, just in reverse.  Yet again, points are taken off for that.  It doesn’t get much better from here.

Monsters University suffers quite a bit thanks to the fact that it lifts from so many other movies and tries to convince audiences that it’s something new.  What makes it worse is that its team of half a dozen writers do something that another previous Disney/Pixar movie had already done.  Just as Cars 2 ended up being more about Mater, Monsters University is more about Mike than his friendship with Sully.  Yes, audiences see how the friendship between the two originally formed.  But more time is spent focusing on Mike’s impact on the friendship than on the friendship as a whole.  Sully (John Goodman) ends up taking a back seat to Billy Crystal this time out, unlike the equal billing shared between the duo in Monsters, Inc.  Along with the story’s other problems, the collective issues noted here weigh down the story to the point that it makes it difficult to see beyond them.  Luckily though, there are some positives to the overall presentations that save it.

The first of the positives that saves Monsters University is its collective life lessons.  The story presented in this movie’s script includes lessons about acceptance, tolerance, and self-confidence.  They are taught as Mike ends up taking on the lead role of his monster fraternity and has to help them be accepted back into the university through a series of challenges.  Mike learns to have more self-confidence in himself through his experiences.  He also realizes a valuable lesson about how the differences in the monsters at Monsters, Incorporated were what made it such a legendary company.  Again, this goes back to that lesson of self-confidence.  It also ties in to the lessons of acceptance and tolerance in the bigger picture as he and his OK brothers fight to win their competitions and earn their way back into the university.  All of these lessons are important for viewers of any age.  So for all of the problems that weigh down this movie, it is these lessons that keep it afloat and worth at least one watch.  The movie will be available in stores and online on October 29th on DVD and DVD/Blu-ray/Digital combo pack.  More information on the home release of Monsters University is available online at http://www.facebook.com/WaltDisneyStudios, http://movies.disney.com/watch-at-home, and http://www.disneystore.com.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.