Illustration by Muriel Gordon.

“Bossypants” Review
By Blair Stenvick

In an interview with The Believer in 2003, Tina Fey called herself “more of a writer than an actor,” and if there was any doubt about her comedy writing skills on “30 Rock,” “Saturday Night Live” or “Mean Girls,” she cleared them up with her new memoir, “Bossypants.”

Fey has been in the public eye since she first started appearing in the Weekend Update segment of “SNL” in 2000, and “Bossypants” gives a good amount of insight into what her life was like both before and after becoming a celebrity.

From befriending a bunch of closeted gays at theater camp in high school to trying to commiserate with her frightening coworkers at the YMCA while taking improv classes on the side, to dealing with “Teat Nazis” who insisted she breastfeed her daughter, Fey shows that her life is both remarkable and ordinary and uses her signature self-deprecating and witty humor to make it all entertaining.

One of the best chapters in the book is one called “Sarah, Oprah, and Captain Hook, or How to Succeed by Sort of Looking Like Someone.” Yes, it tells the widely-known story of how she blew up after impersonating Sarah Palin on “SNL,” but it also reveals that during that same week, she had to film Oprah’s guest spot on “30 Rock” and plan her daughter’s birthday party. With this, readers get a much more complete picture of what Fey’s life is like — and it makes her more likeable.

Fey also gives spot-on commentary on what it’s like to be a woman today, in or out of the entertainment industry. Feminism can sometimes be a drag, but Fey uses humor to her advantage, commenting on things like beauty standards by giving advice on “aging naturally without looking like time-lapse photography of a rotting sparrow.” And about the criticism she received for her portrayal of Palin, she smartly observes, “I am not mean and Mrs. Palin is not fragile. To imply otherwise is a disservice to us both.”

And that type of humor and insight is what makes “Bossypants” a knockout. I’d have accepted anything written by Tina Fey, but she exceeded my expectations by making her memoir less about herself and more about the world. Yes, she talks mostly about her own life, but it’s in a way that everyone can relate to and laugh along with.

In the introduction, Fey writes, “I hope you enjoy [this book] so much that you also buy a copy for your sister-in-law.” I don’t have a sister-in-law, but if I did I would strongly recommend it to her and everyone else.


“African Cats” Review
By Hanna Toda

Disneynature presents: a touching tale of the supreme cats of the lush plains of Africa and a mother’s love for her cubs in a cruel world of predators. This movie touched my heart. In fact, it touched my heart so much that it actually went past just touching it — it grabbed it with Freddy Krueger nails, ripped it out, punctured my aorta and did a jaunty Tahitian dance on it. I walked out of the theater craving Prozac and Xanax and any other substance that could possibly erase the horrifying story that had been burned into my brain.

While the film claims to be based on a true story, the “inspiring” tale that Disney hoped to tell was entirely depressing due to a severe lack of balance between the depicted optimism of a mother’s determination and the unforgiving cruelty of the wild. The film attempted to do a Hollywood animal version of a Lifetime Original Movie — a single mother trying to provide for her children.

But most of the time, the lioness and cheetah mother did not succeed. They did not overcome all odds and rejoice. Disney waved it away, justifying it by saying, “Hey, at least she tried. And that’s the circle of the life. It’s beautiful.” I doubt many would find inspiration in a cub surviving an attack by a hyena and the lion of an opposing pride only to go back to her family to find that she has a new stepdad who killed her brothers and sisters.

Samuel L. Jackson is present throughout the film with his blunt, in-your-face voice-over. But it was clear that Jackson’s narrative did not complement the plot and only disrupted the scenes the audience tried to pay attention to.

While the plot and narration were disappointing, the cinematography was impressive, as expected. Filmed at the Maasai Mara National Reserve of Kenya, the breathtaking scenes of the wildebeest migration remind viewers of the beauty of a world halfway across the globe. The thrilling image of the defined muscles of the lioness as she hunts makes for more of a striking visual than any Hollywood actor could provide. The most epic scene is filmed in a much more Animal Planet-like tone and portrayed a beastly showdown between the lion Fang and a crocodile.

In theory, this film had a lot of potential — a real-life version of “The Lion King.” However, the execution of the plot and the poor narration only pushed me closer to going through my old VHS tapes and watching the much happier, though slightly less accurate version of the kings of the animal kingdom.