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Movie Reviews with Karl: The Lazarus Business

Movie Reviews with Karl: The Lazarus Business

Karl Taro Greenfeld reviews movies without seeing them. He watches trailers, or parts of the trailers. (If the movie is a sequel, he has not seen any earlier films in the series. He basically doesn’t watch any movies. Any plot similarities between his reviews and the actual movies are coincidental.)

The Lazarus Effect

Starring Olivia Wilde and the guy from Togetherness

Science is once again under scrutiny as a potential force for both good and evil. Olivia Wilde and the guy fromTogetherness are professors of chemistry at a for profit university struggling in the face of over-zealous Federal government regulation of the education sector. To help off-set decreased Federal student loan revenue, their university Chancellor asks them to develop a new serum that can raise the dead, in the hopes that this will be a valuable patent that can save the university. They do develop the serum, which has a semen-like consistency, and they hold it up to the light in red-capped test tubes and say in stern voices, “behold the breakthrough.” The first few clinical trials are successful, or so it seems, but then they discover their serum not only “raised the dead, but also unleashed an evil inside.” That’s right, they have created a serum that turns the dead into zombies, but fast moving zombies that can shoot electrical currents from their hands so powerful they can throw you across the room.

Wilde and the guy from Togetherness want to shut down the program, but the greedy university Chancellor is so obsessed with the bottom line that he insists they develop the serum anyway. He kidnaps Wilde, locks her in the Dean of Student Affairs office, and says he will kill her if the guy from Togetherness doesn’t manufacture the serum. He then reveals his plan to dominate the world by raising the dead and commanding a zombie army. Instead, the guy from Togetherness goes to rescue Olivia Wilde, but he must fight his way through hundreds of zombies with electrical ray capability, and fight the Chancellor in his fiery, underground bunker/zombie chamber/Chancellor’s office. The guy from Togetherness frees Olivia Wilde and the two of them kill the Chancellor, but not before the guy from Togetherness is killed by an electrical ray.

Desperate to revive her fellow Chemistry Professor, Olivia Wilde goes back to the lab where she looks over the calculations on the chalkboard and realizes they forgot one crucial ingredient in the serum: human love pheromones. Now that she’s got the serum right, she gives it to the guy from Togetherness who comes back to life—and is not evil.

Because of their scientific breakthrough, both professors are offered tenure track positions at an Ivy League school.

The Lazarus Effect shows the potentially disastrous outcomes of any government intervention in the education sector.


Unfinished Business

Starring Vince Vaughn, Dave Franco, Tom Stoppard and Sienna Miller


Vince Vaughn is an aging VP of Marketing for Dynamic Systems, a company run by Sienna Miller. When he is fired for sexually harassing himself, he starts his own rival company, and hires Dave Franco and Tom Stoppard as his two employees. Vaughn’s marketing business is struggling, primarily because Sienna Miller and Dynamic Systems are crushing them. Then Vaughn hears about a huge contract in Germany, and takes the team on a crucial business trip. “We’re bankrupt if we don’t close this deal!”

The three of them embark on a raucous business trip during which they take MDMA, desecrate cemeteries, foil a terrorist attack, participate in a neo-Nazi rally and end up dressed in bondage gear and dancing on a float during Berlin’s Love Parade. But these hi-jinks don’t distract them from the deal—these are focused, entrepreneurial American businessmen in pursuit of a contract. This is as noble a quest as exists in American capitalism. And the terrorists, neo-Nazis and ravers pose no obstacle. But you know who does: Sienna Miller and Dynamic Systems, who are in town competing for the very same contract!

Despite drinking all night and throwing darts at each other, the three of them put together a power-point presentation that will blow away those Germans. Minutes before their presentation, however, Sienna Miller swipes their laptop, forcing Vince Vaughn to pitch his services from the gut. His German clients are moved to tears by the American’s earnestness, and Vince and company win the deal. And Sienna Miller realizes she may have been wrong about Vince Vaughn all along, and that night, they consummate a corporate merger.


Unfinished Business is an insightful look at the heroic lengths to which American businessmen must go to compete in our globalized economy.

Karl Taro Greenfeld
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About The Author

Karl Taro Greenfeld

Karl Taro Greenfeld is the author of eight books, including the novel The Subprimes, to be published in May. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Harper's, The Paris Review, Best American Short Stories (2009, 2013) and O. Henry Prize Stories (2012). Follow him @karltaro.

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