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Richard Roeper Blog

Is now really the time for a presidential bash with $35,800 gifts?

Some moves just strike you as tone-deaf.

Like holding a monster fund-raiser in Chicago when the dust is still settling from the debt-ceiling debate, and millions of Americans are still desperately seeking gainful employment.

Of course President Obama needs to continue raising kabillions of dollars to feed the campaign beast. Of course he has the right to come home and celebrate his birthday, and enjoy the musical stylings of Jennifer Hudson, OK Go and Herbie Hancock.

Maybe it would have been something of a logistical nightmare to postpone the trip. But it’s not as if president hadn’t invoked the Aug. 2 deadline again and again as he bickered and battled the GOP over the best way to attack the deficit. He knew he was scheduled to fly to Chicago later that same week, and he knew he’d be open to criticism for a fund-raiser with a top cost of $35,800 per person — a figure that many unemployed and underemployed adults would be happy to take as a yearly salary right now.

“With 9.2 percent unemployment, [Obama] could work on creating jobs, but I suppose the White House is thinking he should stick to the part of his job he really likes,” said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski.

Obama’s campaign says it has canceled or pushed back 10 fund-raisers involving the president and/or other top Democrats due to the debt debate — but that doesn’t counteract all those stories that include that $35,800-a-person figure.

If Obama had turned his 50th birthday celebration into some kind of job fair, or if he had asked his fellow Americans to find 50 jobs for 50 people in all 50 states on his 50th birthday, I suppose he would have been accused of political grandstanding.

Heck, if Obama flew into Chicago under his own power, revealed himself to be a superhero and magically reduced the unemployment rate to 0.0 percent while simultaneously curing five major diseases, his critics would say, “But why did he wait so long to reveal his true powers?”

Still.  The Chicago party coming so quickly on the heels of the debt debate just feels like a wrong move.

President Barack Obama celebrates his 50th birthday with 1,700 supporters and greets entertainers Herbie Hancock and OK Go August 3, 2011 at the Aragon Ballroom. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Poop! There it is

With the right equation of story and cast and director and screenplay, the time-honored flatulence scene or scatological joke occupies a proud spot in comedic motion picture history.

Think the post-beans campfire medley in “Blazing Saddles.”

Or Eddie Murphy’s Oscar nomination-worthy multi-character performance in “The Nutty Professor,” including the famous dinner table scene punctuated by Cletus letting a few rip.

Or Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman in the phone booth in “Rain Man.” (“How can you stand that?” “I don’t mind.”)

On and on it goes. The movies that have turned to the fart or the poop for laughs number in the hundreds.

Judging by the reactions such scenes usually get from screening audiences, I’d say my chuckle-meter is somewhere below the national average. Maybe it’s because I see too many movies, but for me the rear-end humor is often about as creative and daring as yet another scene that involves a kick to the crotch or a character proclaiming, “You broke my nose!”

As is the case in real life, usually it’s the men involved in the bathroom-humor hijinks — but occasionally filmmakers will go for the hot-girl-with-bowel-problems laughs, e.g., “Not Another Teen Movie” or the battle-bleep rest room sequence in “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.” Often the scene involves horny guys peeping on a woman in the bathroom — and then they’re grossed out when the comedy hits the fan.

This year, the woman-with-serious-gastrointestinal-issues joke is on the verge of becoming a full-blown trend.

First there was the sneeze-gone-wrong bathroom scene in “Hall Pass.”

Then there was the extended, group reaction to a bad bridal shower lunch in “Bridesmaids.”

And if you’ve seen the trailer for “The Change-Up,” opening Friday, you’re all too familiar with the scene where Leslie Mann sashays into the bedroom in slow motion — then makes her way to the bathroom, plops herself down on the toilet and declares, “I need to cool it on the Thai food!”

I believe we’ve now reached the point of oversaturation with this brand of humor.

At least I’m hoping.

 
 
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