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Sports

Review: Chuck

May 05 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]221422:43548:0[/embed] ChuckDirector: Philippe FalardeauRating: RRelease Date: May 5, 2017 Chuck has an endearing center in its star Liev Schreiber, whose ease and affability keep the film watchable even when it's sluggish or middling. I was reminded how good and versatile Schreiber can be and how underrated he is as an actor. As Chuck Wepner, he's both pathetic and sympathetic, a legitimate hometown hero and a fame-chasing clown. I'm not sure how true to life these contradictions are to the real-life Wepner, but as a character in a film, there's promise there. One minute he's quoting Anthony Quinn from Requiem for a Heavyweight, the next minute he's trying to hump anything with boobs by mentioning Rocky. Many of Schreiber's co-stars also elevate the material. Jim Gaffigan's solid as Wepner's brother, a guy who loves to be a hanger-on so long as there's coke or women involved (and as long as he doesn't have to pay). Schreiber's former real-life partner Naomi Watts appears mid-film as Linda, who would eventually become Wepner's third wife. Watts isn't given much to do but flirt and support the pathetic palooka, but the genuine fondness she and Schreiber shared comes through on screen. Elizabeth Moss is especially good as Wepner's second wife, Phyllis, even though she mostly just has to put up with his BS. Despite that cast, Chuck falters because of its writing, and by extension its production. Writers often use the term "connective tissue" to describe the moments between the big scenes. In Chuck, the connective tissue feels more like biopic filler. The film is stitched together with on-and-off voiceover narration. It's too hand-holdy and on-the-nose. The movie also rushes itself, breezing along with its flutey, wah-wah kinda-disco stock score, which cheapens the overall feel. Some of the scenes may have been written too big for the budget or without much consideration for lighting and texture. Take the opening scene in which Chuck fights a grizzly bear in the ring. That's a godd set up, but it's lit like a coke-fueled disco party later in the film; it may have been shot in the exact same location. It feels small, but in a "Yeah, we couldn't quite afford all this" way rather than a seedy, "My god, what's become of my life" way. The parts of Chuck that work are the scenes in which the movie slows down, builds out a scene, and allows the awkward moments of these characters lives to unfold. When Wepner tries to hassle Sylvester Stallone about Rocky, there's something there. The same goes for a bad audition or a crummy parent teacher conference. These scenes are when Chuck feel less like a movie from "biopic trope land" and more like a movie about flawed people trying to screw up a little less (or a little more). So much of the movie feels like it's just checking off shaggy story beats rather than letting the moments come like they would but given a deliberate shape. Oddly, Chuck might have taken more cues from the original Rocky to be a better film. Rocky is a quiet, quirky, thoughtful love story about discarded people finding hope in each other. There's also boxing, but the connection between two misfits is so strong that it doesn't matter if Rocky wins or loses in the end, just that he endures. In Chuck, the whole arc of someone's rise, fall, and redemption feels like it's missing that human core. There are scenes that have it, but like fame or pseudo-celebrity, they're fleeting.
Review: Chuck photo
This coulda been a contender
Certain movies have the seeds of a much better movie sown through them. Usually these movies are a little bit of a mess, with a jumble of tones and scenes and characters, some working better than others. The stuff that works ...

Tony Hawk video game doc photo
Tony Hawk video game doc

Help crowdfund a documentary on the Tony Hawk's Pro Skater games


Chain them grinds w/ kickflips & manuals
Mar 21
// Hubert Vigilla
I have fond memories of the first couple Tony Hawk games, particularly the first three Tony Hawk's Pro Skater entries for PS1. Sure, the Tony Hawk franchise has seen lots of downs the last couple of years, but the fond feelin...
OJ marathon screening photo
OJ marathon screening

NYC: Metrograph has marathon OJ: Made in America screenings, director Ezra Edelman Q&A


The best documentary of 2016
Sep 15
// Hubert Vigilla
O.J.: Made in America is the crowning achievement of ESPN's 30 for 30 documentaries. Director Ezra Edelman's five-part, seven-and-a-half hour film is an imposing masterpiece, one which delves into the details of the O.J. Simp...
South Park season 20 photo
South Park season 20

First clip from South Park season 20 takes on Colin Kapernick's national anthem protest


This should end well
Sep 13
// Hubert Vigilla
It's hard to believe that South Park is about to start its 20th season. I still remember when it first debuted. I was in high school, and I had hair, and I wore an onion on my belt. The late Isaac Hayes had a #1 UK single tha...

Chris Benoit biopic photo
Chris Benoit biopic

Lexi Alexander will direct Crossface, a biopic on infamous WWE wrestler Chris Benoit


Wrestling with a painful tragedy
Sep 13
// Hubert Vigilla
Back in late 2011 we mentioned that a Chris Benoit biopic was in the works called Crossface. Benoit, as you may recall, was the professional wrestler for WCW and WWE who murdered his wife and son and took his own life in 2007...
Mascots trailer photo
Mascots trailer

Watch the trailer for Mascots, Christopher Guest's new mockumentary film on Netflix


Hope they don't play "Cotton Eye Joe"
Sep 01
// Hubert Vigilla
Christopher Guest knows his way around mockumentaries. One of the co-stars of the influential mock-doc This Is Spinal Tap, Guest would eventually direct, co-star, and co-write three modern mockumentary classics with Euge...
Screenings photo
Screenings

See Hands of Stone early and free


Washington DC and Baltimore screenings
Aug 17
// Matthew Razak
Roberto Duran might not be the household name he once was, but the boxer led one of the most interesting careers in the sport. Now, as with all great boxers, there's a movie about him and you can see it first. We've got passe...
WWE Final Deletion photo
WWE Final Deletion

Watch The New Day vs The Wyatts at the family compound, WWE's version of The Final Deletion


Get the Dramamine ready for this one
Jul 12
// Hubert Vigilla
The other day we wrote about TNA's Jeff Hardy vs. Matt Hardy: The Final Deletion, which is pro wrestling's equivalent of Tommy Wiseau's The Room. It was an oddball kitschfest, yet one that was sprung from the minds of the Har...

Watch Hardy vs. Hardy: The Final Deletion (aka wrestling meets Tommy Wiseau's The Room)

Jul 10 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]220650:42981:0[/embed] Guys, that aired on TV somehow. (Given, it was on Pop TV, but still.) Let's get something straight: this was not a good match, it was not a good promo, and it wasn't even that good a wrastlin' short film. And yet there's something about it that's almost badgood. I found it watchable because I couldn't look away. Hardy v Hardy: Dawn of Dilapidated Boat is a sort of minor kitsch masterpiece in the vein of bad 80s action movies and earnestly made but ultimately execrable indie films (e.g., The Room, the work of Neil Breen). I don't like it. I don't love it. I don't know. What do you think about this match? Let us know in the comments, and say hi to the doggy. [via YouTube]
Hardy v Hardy v Wiseau photo
It's an extraordinary xylophone, Lisa!
WWE dominates the wrestling world today, though indie and international promotions like Ring of Honor, Lucha Underground, New Japan, and Chikara offer some excellent alternatives. Yet these are relatively niche; even WWE's in...

Space Jam 2 photo
Welcome to the god damn Jam!
Holy mother of pearl, it's happening. It's really happening. We're about to return to the Jam and Lebron James is coming with us (also Justin Lin). THR is reporting that the basketball star is set to star in the Looney Toons ...

Screenings photo
Screenings

See Concussion early and free


Washington DC, Baltimore and Norfolk
Dec 15
// Matthew Razak
I'm not sure why, but Will Smith's performance in Concussion is flying a bit under the radar. Yes, he's getting nominations, but no one is considering him a contender and they really should be. Don't believe me? Check ou...
Rocky! Rocky! photo
Rocky! Rocky!

30 for 30 does Rocky IV


Ending the cold war one punch at a time
Nov 12
// Matthew Razak
A few week's ago College Humor brought us a parody of ESPN's 30 for 30 programming by creating a hilarious short on Angels in the Outfield. It worked and it worked well. It looks like they'll be continuing the series as ...
WOOOOO! photo
WOOOOO!

ESPN is doing a 30 for 30 documentary on Ric Flair, WOOOOO!


WOOOOO!
Nov 05
// Hubert Vigilla
According to The Washington Post, ESPN is doing a 30 for 30 documentary on pro-wrestling legend "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair.
ESPN 30 for 30 photo
ESPN 30 for 30

ESPN 30 for 30: Angels in the Outfield


A straight-faced College Humor parody
Oct 23
// Hubert Vigilla
While I don't necessarily like baseball, I really like the idea of baseball, especially documentaries about baseball. That goes for pitching docs like Fastball and Knuckleball, as well as underdog stories like The Battered Ba...
New Creed trailer photo
New Creed trailer

New trailer for Creed fleshes out the drama between Adonis and Rocky


You gotta know your chicken
Sep 17
// Hubert Vigilla
The first trailer for Creed showed a whole lot of promise. Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) has become a new Mickey and Adonis Creed (Michael B. Jordan) is a hungry newcomer to the ring. This second trailer for Creed reveals...
Jon Stewart WWE photo
Jon Stewart WWE

Jon Stewart is hosting WWE SummerSlam 2015


"Moment of Zen" is a nice finisher name
Aug 17
// Hubert Vigilla
Many people have wondered what Jon Stewart's first gig would be after his final episode of The Daily Show. We learned earlier tonight. Stewart will be the host of WWE's SummerSlam this weekend in Brooklyn. Yeah. Seriously. I ...

5 Other Cinematic Robots That Should Be In WWE 2K16

Jul 29 // Hubert Vigilla
RoboCop [embed]219700:42512:0[/embed] RoboCop vs. The Terminator. That's the WrestleMania main event that everyone's been waiting to see. Plus, RoboCop has some experience with wrestling. In the video clip above, watch as RoboCop makes World Championship Wrestling history and kills kayfabe more than any of Kevin Sullivan's hokey booking ideas. Signature Spot: I'll Buy That for a Dollar (Lariat Clothesline) Finishing Move: Murphy's Law (Top Rope Frog Splash that causes the ring to collapse)   Johnny Five (Short Circuit) After speed-reading Mick Foley's Have a Nice Day, Daniel Bryan's Yes!, and Bret Hart's Hitman, Johnny Five is convinced he has what it takes to win the WWE Heavyweight Championship. On his road to WrestleMania, he's managed by Fred Ritter from Short Circuit 2, who's trying to make a quick buck with merchandise--you know the name, now own the texting gloves. Signature Spot: Input/Output (Running Splash into the corner followed by a Running Bulldog) Finishing Move: Disassemble = Dead (shoots opponent with laser)   IG-88 (The Empire Strikes Back) IG-88 was really hoping to collect the bounty on Han Solo to pay off his student loan. ("Stupid Boba Fett!" "Friggin' Columbia MFA!"). Instead, he's decided his best route to a debt-free life is main eventing WrestleMania and winning the WWE Heavyweight Championship. Signature Spot: The Droid Revolution (Pele Kick) Finishing Move: IG 3:16 + Resistance Is Futile (Alabama Slam chained into a Sharpshooter)   Paulie's Robot Girlfriend (Rocky IV) After years in storage, Paule's Robot Girlfriend is back and better than ever, and she's looking to become the new WWE Divas Champion. Her entire life has been a training montage, and she's ready for the main event. Also, Paulie is her manager. Signature Spot: Fisto (basically a Superman Punch) Finishing Move: Happy Birthday, Paulie (Top Rope Moonsault while holding a birthday cake)   Mechagodzilla After Mechagodzilla destroyed all monsters, he has one more beast in his sights: Brock Lesnar. He's been miniaturized for the squared circle and intends to turn Suplex City into a smoldering mound of rubble. Signature Spot: Hyper Kiryu (Roundhouse Tail Strike followed by Enziguri when opponent is on the ring apron); German Suplex Finishing Move: The Shining Lizard (basically a Shining Wizard)   Bonus Tag Teams - Evil Bill & Ted and The Good Robot Us's (Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey) As Wyld Stallyns brings world peace through some most excellent music, their robot doubles decide to make their mark on history through most excellent in-ring action. Signature Spot: The Wyld Ryde (Double Powerbomb to the outside through a time-traveling phone booth and the circuits of time) Finishing Move: The Bogus Journey (Flapjack into Cutter tandem combination, basically the Dudley Boyz's 3D)
Robots in WWE 2K16 photo
Arnold Could Use a Robot Friend (or Foe)
Yesterday we had a list of five other Arnold Schwarzenegger characters who should be in WWE 2K16. (I apologize for leaving out Kindergarten Cop's Detective John Kimble.) With all that Arnie in one place, the game would basica...

5 Other Arnold Schwarzenegger Characters Who Should Be In WWE 2K16

Jul 28 // Hubert Vigilla
Conan the Barbarian Between the time when Vince McMahon subsumed the old territories and the rise of John Cena, there was an age undreamed of. And unto this, Conan, destined to wear the WWE Heavyweight Championship around a troubled waist (or over his troubled shoulder). It is I, his chronicler, who alone can tell thee of his path to WrestleMania. Let me tell you of the days of high adventure! Signature Spot: Hyborian Rage (flurry of punches, with flourishes similar to an unarmed version of the Atlantean Sword Kata) Finishing Move: Riddle of Steel (basically an Alabama Slam)   Howard Langston/Turbo Man (Jingle All the Way) In order to get a Turbo Man doll for his son, Howard Langston must dress up like Turbo Man and win the WWE Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania. (It makes about as much sense as The Terminator being there, really, Also, Sinbad is his manager.) Signature Spots: Deck the Balls (low blow when referee isn't looking) Finishing Move: It's Turbo Time! (basically a Spear)   John Matrix (Commando) I went back and forth between John Matrix from Commando and Dutch from Predator here. While I went with John Matrix, let's just pretend there's a mud-covered skin for the character that you can use to play Dutch. Signature Spot: I'll Kill You Last (flurry of chops in the corner of the ring) [Note: As Dutch, this move is called "The Choppa"] Finishing Move: I Lied (shoots opponent with rocket launcher) [Note: As Dutch, this move is called "Do It Now!"]   Mr. Freeze (Batman and Robin) In order to find a cure for his wife's strange condition, Mr. Freeze must win the WWE Heavyweight Championship. The road to WrestleMania is paved in cold! Signature Spot: Chillax (jumping double axe handle from the second rope) Finishing Move: The Iceman Cometh (basically the Stone Cold Stunner)   Quaid (Total Recall) Quaid's fantasy is to become a pro-wrestler, so he goes into Rekall to live it out. Of course, things go wrong, and somehow he winds up hallucinating that he is a wrestler and winds up in the squared circle. He main events WrestleMania on Mars, but it's all just part of the simulation... or was it? Signature Spot: The Nose Job (submission maneuver that involves shoving his thumb up the opponent's nose) Finishing Move: Two Week Notice (throws an exploding head at opponent, all matches end in disqualification... or do they?)   Bonus Tag Team - The Benedict Twins (Julius and Vincent from Twins) Yes they'd wrestle in matching suits. Best. Tag team. Ever. Signature Spot: Twin Science (switching places without a tag, sort of like The Bella Twins) Finishing Move: Brotherly Love (Julius throws Vincent from top rope, sort of like when Colossus and Wolverine do a Fastball Special in X-Men comics)   [embed]219699:42510:0[/embed]
Arnold Schwarzenegger WWE photo
The Terminator needs company in the ring
As reported on Destructoid yesterday, if you pre-order WWE 2K16, you get to play as the T-800 from The Terminator. The promo video showed Arnold Schwarzenegger recreating the bar scene from Terminator 2: Judgment Day alongsid...

Review: Southpaw

Jul 24 // Matthew Razak
[embed]219692:42504:0[/embed] SouthpawDirector: Antoine FuquaRated: RRelease Date: July 24, 2015 If you've seen any boxing movie you've seen Southpaw. This one picks up in the "boxing movie career timeline" around where Rocky V does, but instead of Rocky we've got Billy Hope (Jake Gyllenhaal) as he defends his title once again. However, truly great boxers can't be rich, they have to work from the ground up and so after a tragedy Billy loses all his money, custody of his daughter, and his manager (50 Cent). That means he's got to return to his roots and get a new trainer in the form of Tick Will (Forest Whitaker), who runs a boxing center in Hell's Kitchen for poor youths. You literally can find every single aspect of this film in a film that has come before it. There is not an original concept going for it in terms of story. There's even less going for it in terms of pacing. The screenplay is horrendously light on tension building and this means that by the time the final fight has rolled in you don't feel like you should be there. The conflict between Gyllenhaal and his opponent is so lightly touched on and poorly handled that the guy just becomes a punching bag. Even the sports training montages feel like they're rushed and disconnected. At no point does the movie build successfully in emotion, leaving its talented actors and director with little to grab the viewer with.  They all try, though. The cast is obviously fantastic and without them the film would be utterly boring. We've seen it all before and we've seen it done better so it's a good thing the actors turn redundancy into something slightly original. Gyllenhaal, who must have had a sculptor chisel his abs for the film, seems to think he's in a quality movie. His tortured and enraged performance brings back echoes of Stallone's perfectly countenanced delivery in the original Rocky.  Whitaker also layers in nuances to a character so cookie cutter you wonder how much the spent at William and Sonoma on him. Tick Will's motivations and character are so awkwardly crammed in that he's barely there yet Whitaker makes his presence known.  Director Antoine Fuqua does as well. While the story may be slapdash and contrived his direction is anything but. Boxing matches are notoriously hard to direct, but Fuqua does a fantastic job of putting his together. His direction is visceral during the matches, sometimes even cutting into first-person -- a risk that pays off thanks to his skill. This move uses its R-rating hard during the matches as they're bloody and powerful. It just can't sustain that feeling throughout, getting bogged down in melodrama too often and forgetting we all came to see a boxer train. Another sticking point for me was the almost forced use of Eminem's music in the film. He was a producer on the movie, and has a single for the film called "Phenomenal." It plays over a training montage, but just feels awkward. It's angry and loud and out of place. That's really a problem for a lot of the film. There's a lot of sound and fury, but in the end it signifies nothing (to steal from the Bard). You know you've watched some great things, but they sure didn't make a great movie. Southpaw is a boxing movie made out of other boxing movies and is only buoyed by the fact that its director and actors thought they were in something more. There's not much of an original thought in here, but that doesn't always matter for a sports movie. What does matter is that you get that little thrill in your heart as our underdog hero climbs up from whatever depths he's been flung into. Southpaw doesn't give you that thrill and because of that it can throw a few good punches, but it never lands a KO.
Southpaw Review photo
No punch
It's pretty obvious why America loves boxing movies despite the fact that boxing itself is dwindling in popularity. Ever since Rocky the genre has proven that it can easily deliver the best of what we want out of our spo...

Creed Trailer photo
Gonna fly now, gonna fly forever
Everyone's got that one film franchise that means more to them than anything. Some have Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, Jurassic Park, and there's probably a few folks that really want more of Pixar's Cars. But me, I've got...

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First official photo from Rocky spin-off Creed


Eye of the (old) tiger
Apr 13
// Matthew Razak
We're mostly just posting this to remind you that, yes, another Rocky film is coming and it's called Creed. Remember? Probably not since it's hard to get excited outside of the fact that Michael B .Jordan is starring in it as Apollo Creed's son. Here we have what must be an image of him visiting a retirement home and teaching the elderly how to box.  Creed releases on November 25. 
Southpaw Trailer photo
Southpaw Trailer

First trailer for Southpaw starring Jake Gyllenhaal


Mar 27
// Nick Valdez
After Enemy and Nightcrawler, I've been really looking forward to what Jake Gyllenhaal would do next. Thankfully the wait looks completely worth it with this first trailer for Southpaw. Directed by Antoine Fuqua (Training Da...
Creed photo
Creed

Rocky spin-off Creed gets a sad synopsis


I'm not ready for this to be over again :(
Feb 26
// Nick Valdez
It took me years, YEARS, to get over Rocky Balboa. When the three decade long Rocky saga finally came to end, it was a good end but I still wanted much more. The Rocky films mean so much to me (so much that I wrote my undergr...
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Here's all the trailers you'll get to see during the Super Bowl


Because we know you're not interested in the game
Jan 29
// Matthew Razak
While the Seahawks and Patriots might be one of the least interesting Super Bowl match ups we've seen in a while that doesn't mean you shouldn't be watching. There's going to be commercials and some of those commercials will ...
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Trailer for McFarland, USA features minorities triumphing


With the help of a white guy, of course
Nov 04
// Matthew Razak
As far as motivational sports movies go Disney has been on a pretty good streak of pumping out at least descent films. Million Dollar Arm was enjoyable and the next in the line up is McFarland, USA, which, you guessed i...
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Real Steel 2 in development, but not likely


There are sad fighting robots everywhere
Sep 08
// Matthew Razak
As a fan and supporter of the first Real Steel I was happy to hear a while back that they were working a sequel. While the movie wasn't perfect it was just enough fun to make it worth your while and I figured that more b...

Review: When the Game Stands Tall

Aug 22 // Matthew Razak
[embed]218236:41776:0[/embed] When the Game Stand TallDirector: Thomas CarterRated: PGRelease Date: August 22, 2014  When the Game Stands Tall tells the story of De La Salle High School's football team, who, under coach Bob Ladouceur (Jim Caviezel) went on a record breaking 151 long winning streak. This is the story of the team that lost that streak and how the overcame the challenge of losing it. The problem is there weren't actually that many challenges. They lost two games and then won the rest. Any drama that comes from their seasons is from them playing the number one ranked team in the country after their two game losing streak, but the movie rambles on long after this and takes too long getting to it. There is maybe a story here. If the movie didn't spend the first hour rambling through its overbearing religious lessons and instead focused on the characters and their faith it could have pulled us into the team. Instead we're left outside of it so that when that first loss comes it's less of an emotional feeling and more of a who cares. Thanks to the fact that so much time was needlessly spent on watching the characters not play football we're rushed through the training and work to get the team back into winning shape. Then, once they do beat the team that the entire film was building up to the movie goes on for another 30 minutes finishing up a side story that no one actually cared about. Any competent filmmaker would have clearly seen that the ultimate game for this team was their first win after losing the streak, but When the Game Stands Tall is not made by competent folks.  Did I mention the heavy handed religious message? When a star player who was on his way to Oregon dies, his story almost entirely immaterial to the rest of the film, the movie takes a what should be a touching scene about death and why God may choose to take a young man (if you believe in such things) and turns it into a sermon. It shouldn't be a surprise that this is handled so poorly as the screenplay is all over the place, but since the film is clearly designed to speak to a Christian audience you'd think they would at least get that part right.  When the Game Stands Tall is a mess of a film that gets lost in its inability to tell a single story. Instead it grasps at too many different straws in an attempt to tell every story. Instead of focusing on a coach and team struggling to find itself, and dosing so through its faith, it rambles incoherently through its messages. There's a sports movie here, it just got lost in bad film making.  One last point I'll make. For a Christian movie the sports training montage was insanely homo-erotic. Like creepily so. 
Stands Tall Review photo
Like scoring a touchdown for the other team
I'm a sucker for sports movies. You give me a gang of lovable underdogs, a few training montages and a triumphant final game and I'm in your pocket. It's just so easy to get caught up in a sport film even when their bad. They...

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See When the Game Stands Tall early and free


Washington DC, Norfolk and Richmond screenings
Aug 13
// Matthew Razak
Football is almost here! That's really exciting (if you like football). To get into the mood how about a little sports movie celebrating greatness on the gridiron. When the Game Stands Tall is perfect for that, and we've...
Mudbloods Trailer photo
Mudbloods Trailer

Trailer for Mudbloods makes Quidditch awesome


Aug 08
// Nick Valdez
Harry Potter has a huge, huge fandom. Spanning seven books, eight movies (possibly more soon), theme parks, and now a real sport based on the fantasy sport Quidditch. While I never liked the Quidditch sections of the story (...
FFS: O Futebol Classico photo
FFS: O Futebol Classico

Flix for Short: O Futebol Classico, a Mickey Mouse short


Jun 17
// Nick Valdez
To celebrate the FIFA World Cup kicking off in Brazil, Disney has crafted a new Mickey Mouse short entirely in Portuguese, O Futebol Classico. It's short, sweet, and funny. You don't even need to know Portuguese to like it!  JOSE CARIOCAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.  

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