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Underrated / Overrated

March 15, 2009


'Zero Effect': Seeing Bill Pullman in last year's middling "Bottle Shock" reminded us of our fondness for the character actor's chops, particularly in this buried treasure from 1998. Directed by a then-23-year-old Jake Kasdan and buoyed by a quietly exasperated Ben Stiller as sidekick to Pullman's eccentric detective Daryl Zero, this comedy is worth getting to know. Got time for a sequel?

The Bad Plus: We'd lost track of this jazz trio since its 2003 major-label debut, "These Are the Vistas," knocked us out with intellectual virtuosity and a quirky sense of covers (Aphex Twin's "Flim" is only scratching the surface). But its latest album, "For All I Care," won us over. It's worth hearing the group, joined by vocalist Wendy Lewis, breathe life into "Lithium" and "Comfortably Numb."



Asher Roth's

'I Love College': We loved it too, but given the economic implosion, we can't decide if now is the perfect or worst time for a song celebrating being zonked out of your mind through higher education. It's not as if there's a job waiting once that red frat-boy cup runs dry, so by all means hold off as long as possible. But hopefully a few people are studying for a way out of this mess.

Russell Brand: We enjoyed this haystack-haired comic's appearance in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," but after seeing his stand-up on BBC America and Comedy Central, we're mystified as to his standing as a comedic heavy-hitter. We've been a fan of British comedy since first seeing "Monty Python." So far, Brand strikes us as a glib rock star without a band. What are we missing?

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