Sunday, June 14, 2009

Movie Review: The Hangover

I should preface this review by mentioning that normally I do not like movies that mention or show bodily fluids. However, The Hangover is the exception - this movie is a laugh riot from beginning to end. I'm sure many of you have seen the previews - the basic premise - 4 friends go off to Vegas for a Bachelor Party - after almost everyone has repeated the mantra what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Fast forward and three of the friends wake up in their luxury villa and discover one friend is missing, a tiger in the bathroom, a baby in the closet and one of the 3 is also missing an incisor. From there they work to find out exactly what took place since none of them remembers a thing.

The movie has great performances by the entire cast - the only ones remotely recognizable is Bradley Cooper from He's Just Not That Into You and Ed Helms from The Office. And of course Mike Tyson. But the humor comes largely from the great story and surprises that await the crew at every turn as they try to find out what happened and find their lost friend. Mike and I laughed like crazy.

Is The Hangover great art - not really. Is it a great way to spend a few hours - absolutely. Big thumbs up.

I do want to note I give a thumbs down in advance for whoever scheduled the trailer for The Final Destination 3 D that preceded the movie. The trailer totally freaked me out - I am not a fan of that kind of movie and between that and the terrifying trailer for the Orphan I was a little jumpy by the time our movie started.

Oh, and The Hangover is definitely a hard R - not for children. And the woman three rows in front of me who brought the screaming two year old should be ashamed of herself - who in their right mind brings a two year old to the movies - but especially one like this.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Marketing in China: Traveling to a New Culture

Recently I've been engaged in a number of discussions about markting to another culture. I've done quite a bit of that. I spent two years working for a Chinese company and four years for one that was essentially an Indian company. This first story is about my first trip to China.

I went to work for LinkAir in January 2000. In fact I was the second employee in the US. I'd actually gotten my job offer first but the HR/Accounting person had to be hired first so I could get processed in properly. My job was to take this Beijing based company and effectively launch it in both countries. Those are stories for another post. This is about my first business trip over.

So I was hired and spent the first month or so hiring those essentials - a design/collateral firm and a Public Relations firm. The design firm was great - though not the best listeners. One thing we told them was that anything fire related was bad luck in China - their first proposed police of collateral had flames on it and looked like it had been singed. They thought fire was good luck in China. Ack.

My first trip to Beijing was when I had been in my job only about 2 months. It was a long flight - I changed planes in Japan and had a 4 hour layover - I'm not sure Mike ever quite recovered from a long distance call from Tokyo saying I'm bored and I have three more hours - talk to me.
When I finally arrived I had been awake for roughly 24 hours and I was desperate for sleep. Somehow I'd managed to arrive towards the end of the day and my firm sent me greeters - the office manager, my translator and my driver.

To prepare for the trip I had done extensive research - I read 4 books about China, consulted the members of and did a lot of web research. So when I arrived I was prepared with copious numbers of gifts in my bag for everyone I encountered. I had also learned that Watermelon was a leading national crop. What I was not prepared for was the reluctance of my greeting committee to let me just go to bed. They insisted on taking me to dinner.

Finally I succumbed - it seemed they would never let me go. I was faced with an enormous menu in Chinese though there were some photos. I was in despair - I speak no Chinese and frankly would never even attempt to read it - and so I desperately pointed to one item which I took to be a large sausage . "What's that?" I asked. The translator looked at the item and immediately began an intense discussion with the rest of the group in Chinese. Finally he spoke, "Braised Ass Penis".

I thought I would faint. "Seriously?"

"Yes it is a great delicacy in our culture. Men eat it so they can give their wives many children."

"Never mind".

"No no, it's ok. It's just very expensive - 1000 Yen."

I was even more horrified. What must they think? 1000 Yen was the equivalent of rougly $80 at the time - and more than most people make in a month.

the more I protested the more they insisted but I would not give up. i insisted I just wanted a salad. The waiter suggested Caesar salad. I agreed and we were able to move on. That is until my salad showed up - consisting of soggy lettuce with a large fish on top - the fish was completely intact - scales, fins and eyes. I couldn't help myself - i just had to ask. "What kind of fish is this?"


I did my best - between chopsticks and the unscaled fish I was doomed to go hungry - but I remain convinced to this day that I had been offered the Moby Dick of all anchovies - but better that than eating.....

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Movie Review: A big thumbs up for UP

I am a self professed Pixar fan. I love all their movies and have seen them all more than once. Well except for the rat movie but my aversion to rats is one I have no pressing need to overcome.

UP however is one of the most satisfying movie experiences I've had this year. I laughed, I sobbed, I cheered, I clutched my seat - it was wonderful.

The basic story is simple, a lonely old man decides to move his house to Paradise Falls, a remote location in South America, to honor a promse he made to his dear departed wife. He does it by attaching 1000's of helium filled balloons to the house. On the way there he discovers a stowaway and the adventure begins.

The movie is a visual delight - the colors are amazing from the balloons to the giant bird they encounter, named Kevin, and even the house itself. The voices are terrific - gruff Ed Asner, a favorite of mine from the days of Mary Tyler Moore and Lou Grant and the boy who voices the stowaway Russell to the villain voiced by Christopher Plummer. Looks good, sounds good and the movie engages your heart.

I won't spoil the fun, I just think that everyone should run out and see UP. Our theatre did not have 3D (which always gives me a headache so no problem) but if anyone does see it in 3D let me know what it's like.