Our Story: A Snapchat Original Film

Following in the footsteps of Amazon and Netflix, Snapchat has joined the ranks of tech innovators trying their luck in feature films with Our Story: A Snapchat Original Film, a bizarre look into the fears and desires that define the millennial generation. Our Story is an unforgettable and undeniably original film, setting the bar pretty high for any future cinematic endeavor Snapchat may undertake in the future.

I had no idea what to expect when I sat down to watch Our Story in a movie theater, as I chose to see it merely due to my loyalty to the Snapchat brand. Imagine my surprise when midway through the movie, the frame flipped from horizontal to vertical. The ushers had to shuffle up to the screen, pick it up and turn it on its side to accommodate this daring cinematographic choice. They executed the maneuver with admirable grace and in perfect coordination with the projectionist who rotated the projector simultaneously.

But enough with all the technical mumbo jumbo. Who really cares about cinematography, editing, or special effects? What makes or breaks a film is the narrative content, also known as the story or in this case, Our Story. Given the choice of possessive pronoun in the title, I should have known Our Story would be a twisted omnibus of ingeniously intertwined tales set deep in the underbelly of the City Of Angels (LA is home of Snapchat’s corporate HQ).

Some may call Our Story a ‘coming of age drama,’ but it’s really more of an ‘everyone of all ages cumming all the time drama’. Our Story now holds the record of most orgasms in a movie beating Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac: Vol. II by at least forty orgasms. This movie truly earns its NC-17 rating, so leave your babies, tots, toddlers, and regular old kids and tweens at home when you go see this one.

What separates this movie from a straight up porno is the awe inspiring acting from an extraordinary ensemble cast. Making a startling and truly breathtaking acting comeback is the one and only ‘Amanda Bynes,’ reviving one of her greatest characters of all time. One of Our Story’s interconnected tales concerns Penelope Taynt, from the highly acclaimed sketch series ‘The Amanda Show.’ Bynes resurrects Penelope with such ease and rejuvenating energy, it feels as if fifteen years hasn’t gone by.

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However, what astonishes me most about Our Story is not the shift of frame, nor the parade of explicit sex scenes, nor even the appearance of Penelope Taynt. Rather, it’s the filter choices portraying the disturbed subconscious of the villainous Spider Jones (Funnyman Eric Andre). Without the flower crown filter appearing repeatedly on various characters’ faces, I don’t think I would have been able to travel as far into the darkness of the Spider Jones’ sick mind as I did. And the face swap filter made the movie uncommonly surreal. At times it almost took on the texture of sci-fi, and come on, who doesn’t like a bit of sci-fi in their weird, artsy sex movie?

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Our Story is difficult to watch; it will rub you the wrong way; it make you laugh, cry, scream and shout; it will get you all horned up, it will implant a bottomless pit of anxiety in your stomach; it will fill you with dread and initiate an existential crisis that may lead you into a full blown nervous breakdown. But somehow, just like the “the Entertainment” which serves as the crucible/macguffin in the very long book Infinite Jest, you CANNOT look away from it for even a second. (Let’s just hope you don’t die from watching it. HA-HA.) It’s better than any snapchat story you’ve ever seen because it ain’t no My Story, it’s Our Story and I’m fully confident it will win every award and appear in quite a few BuzzFeed listicles and quiz-type things. Trust me, you don’t want to miss this one.

What the rest of the critics are saying:

“David Lynch wishes he made this film.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

“Richard Linklater wishes he made this film.” – Wallpaper Goldstein, New York Post

“Gasper Noe wishes he made this film.” – Amy Nicholson, MTV

“Miranda July wishes she made this film.” – Alison Willmore, Buzzfeed

“Rick Alverson wishes he made this film.” – Latasha Abraham-Peri, Village Voice

“Lars Von Trier wishes he made this film.” – Greer Trier, indieWIRE

“Harmony Korine wishes he made this film.” – Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

“James Franco wishes he made this film.” – Eric D. Snider, EricDSnider.com

“David Gordon Green wishes he made this film.” – Doug Benson, Doug Loves Movies

“Thornton Wilder wishes he made this film.” – Nathaneal However, Guernica Magazine

“Caryl Churchill wishes she made this film.” – Legs Lavish, New York Observer

Melonmeter® Score:

99% liquid & seed retention – watermelon_icon_pitr-1979px CERTIFIED JUICY

Before and After Dark and Also Before Dark Again

I did not enjoy Before and After Dark and Also Before Dark Again at all. First of all, it’s a black and white movie, and let’s face it: black and white is not the latest technology when it comes to making movies.

However, I could’ve forgiven that if Before and After Dark and Also Before Dark Again had been scary or if I understood what was going on. Horror movies should not be confusing. They should deliver the scares and then let us go home. We’re not talking rocket science here.

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I did not care about the romantic subplot between these characters.

Before and After Dark and Also Before Dark Again takes place in a haunted mansion (woopity woo like we haven’t seen that before) over the course of single night. A lively dinner party is interrupted when all the lights in the house suddenly turn off. And then later they switch back on again. But soon after that, the power goes out once more. It turns out it’s not only once more though because the electricity turns back on and shuts off and turns on and shuts off over and over for nearly two hours.

It’s never explained why the power keeps turning on and off, though several of the characters spend the entire movie trying to figure it out. Even worse, there’s never a clear reason why the characters don’t just leave the damn house while the power company gets its act together and fixes the fusebox or whatever’s wrong with the house.

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I couldn’t see what was going on when the lights were off. Dumb!

None of the characters are even scared that the lights keep turning on and off. Some are calm and others keep laughing like it’s all a big joke. I wouldn’t be laughing. I’d be scared as hell! And I’d leave the damn house, that’s for sure. Why would you stay and risk being killed by some crazy person who keeps turning the lights on and off again? Makes no sense.

TL;DR Before and After Dark and Also Before Dark Again is a bad horror movie full of stupid characters and it’s in black and white.

What the rest of the critics are saying:

“The best horror movie since It Follows!” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“The lengthy scene in which the party’s host (Danny DeVito) yells at the electric company’s customer service was actually pretty funny.” – Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, AVClub

“Daringly experimental and full of memorably offkilter moments.” – Hoover Framingham, ScreenAnarchy

“I fell asleep during this one. Sorry.” – Eric D. Snider, EricDSnider.com

“Look, I don’t have to watch every movie that comes out. Sometimes it’s better NOT to watch movies. You ever think of that? No, you didn’t. Because you’re not a film critic.” –  Nathaneal However, Guernica Magazine

“I was surprised at how many times they turned the lights off and back on again.” – Roberta Fong, Premiere Magazine

Melonmeter® Score:

8% liquid & seed retention – watermelon-512  ALMOST NO JUICE OR SEEDS AT ALL, BARELY EVEN A CANTALOUPE, DON’T TRUST YOUR GROCER IF HE HANDS YOU THIS™

Life (2017)

When Eddie Murphy became a movie star in the early 80s, he vowed to make a film every fifteen years or so that examined the human condition in a comic yet profoundly truthful manner, each time using a prison as the primary location. (Like Foucault, Murphy finds prison to be an apt metaphor for the world and man’s place within it.) He also announced each film in this series would be called Life so that no one would mistake the larger philosophical intentions that would distinguish these works from his less ambitious projects such as the Beverly Hills Cop and Nutty Professor films.

Many people laughed at Murphy’s grand vision, doubting his commitment to the higher aims of cinema. You won’t hear those people laughing much these days.

In 1985, following the enormous success of Beverly Hills Cop, Murphy produced and starred in Life (1985), the story of Sammy, a streetsmart hustler who attempts the biggest score of his young career by robbing the bag man of a fading drug kingpin. The plan goes awry, and Murphy’s character (described as “Axel Foley before he went legit” by Murphy in interviews at the time) lands in prison with a life sentence. Sammy uses his quick wits and sharp elbows to thrive in the prison economy, eventually leading the other inmates in a full-fledged prison riot that ends tragically.

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Eddie Murphy as Sammy in Life (1985)

Just shy of fifteen years later, following the enormous success of The Nutty Professor, Murphy produced and starred in Life (1999). Life (1999) is a Prohibition-era tragicomedy about the lives of loudmouth Harlem grifter Ray (Eddie Murphy) and no-nonsense Claude (Martin Lawrence). Ray and Claude team up on a bootlegging mission to Mississippi that could bring them big bucks. But they run into trouble when a crooked lawman hits them with a phony murder charge. Faced with life sentences and shipped off to prison, they must think of a way to prove their innocence and avoid the brutal (yet wacky) guards while battling their biggest enemies of all — a pair of totally mismatched personalities.

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Eddie Murphy as Ray and Martin Lawrence as Claude in Life (1999)

Ever since Life (1999), all the haters and naysayers have loudly insisted Murphy would never make another movie called Life. And for a few years there I almost started to believe them. I should have trusted my gut. The funnyman/filmmaker is back at it again with Life (2017), which returns to the time-tested themes from the previous two movies by taking them into space.

Life (2017) is a sci-fi adventure movie starring fast talking astronaut Kimbo Kallison (Eddie Murphy). Murphy’s performance combines the swashbuckling swagger of Lando Calrisson and Indiana Jones with the quixotic ambitions of Brian Fitzcarraldo and Dr. David Bowman. Kallison embarks on a quest to smuggle space refugees through a heretofore unnavigable region of deep space. Betrayed by his crew, Kallison ends up arrested by Intergalactic Customs Patrol and sentenced to a lifetime internment in space jail.

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Eddie Murphy as Kimbo Kallison in Life (2017)

Space jail turns out to be a patch of deep space they chuck you into when all you have left is the space suit on your back. To prevent escapes, space jail is policed around its frontiers by nasty prison guard ships. Kallison must lead the other imprisoned spacemen to forage for food amongst asteroids and space debris. It’s a tale of the perseverance of the human spirit against all odds, just like Life (1999) and Life (1985) before it.

Murphy has now produced and starred in three Life films that could make a near perfect trilogy that will define his legacy as a funnyman/filmmaker. But at this point I wouldn’t bet against that sly fox coming back to Life in his early seventies to make a fourth movie called Life, just like we always dreamed.

TL;DR – With Life (2017), Eddie Murphy finally takes his laughs and philosophical longings into space and the result is a cinematic smash hit rich and varied in its content.

What the rest of the critics are saying:

“I’ll be the first to say it: this is the best movie to come out since Life (1999).” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“It’s hard to believe the man behind Norbit has created such a thought-provoking and ultimately redemptive space movie.” – Verity Campbell-Barr, The Atlantic

Life is one the most realistic – and harrowing – space movies to come along in decades.” – Book Denison, Associated Press

“Eddie Murphy’s supporting role as an officious customs patrolman is even funnier than his leading role as Kimbo Kallison.” – Siyaka Camacho, New York Daily News

“We, too, are just collections of cells, and Murphy plays our nervous system like a flamenco guitar in concert with nauseous drums and vomiting trombones.” – Amy Nicholson, MTV

Life has cool effects, big laughs and a sweet twist. It ain’t rocket science, but it does what it does well — even, one might say, with a kind of genius.” – Eric D. Snider, EricDSnider.com

“Here is a story that knows how to force nihilism and optimism into an uproarious death match in the vast nothingness of space. If you’re into that sort of thing.” – Legs Lavish, New York Observer

Life struck me as several cuts above ‘meh’ but never made me jump out of my seat.” – Glenn Kenny, RogerEbert.com

“Never reaches greatness, but it’s solidly good, from its earned laughs to a spot-on ending.” – Mercedes Saster, Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“A waste of talent and money, Life (2017) seems convinced that simply sticking Eddie Murphy in outer space with expensive special effects is enough to make a great space movie. But it truly does take more than that to make a great space movie.” – Goh Gwek Eng, TIME Magazine

Melonmeter® Score:

99% liquid & seed retention – watermelon_icon_pitr-1979px CERTIFIED JUICY

Big Bad Beetleborgs (2017)

This weekend’s box office is dominated by Power Rangers, Lionsgate Entertainment’s reimagining of the popular children’s television series. But don’t miss out on Big Bad Beetleborgs, 20th Century Fox’s attempt to compete with Lionsgate for that much sought after kid and teen audience.

Unlike Power Rangers, the reboot of Big Bad Beetleborgs makes no attempt to reinvent the franchise’s preexisting mythology. If you know the original Big Bad Beetleborgs TV series, you won’t be very surprised by the plot of the movie.

Set in the fictional town of Charterville, three typical average kids— Draw (Finn Wolfhard), Joss (Millie Bobby Brown), and their tubby friend Roland (Rico Rodriguez) enter the supposedly haunted Hillhurst Mansion on a dare from rich snobs Trip and Barn. While exploring, the kids accidentally bump a pipe organ that releases a phantasm named Flabber (Ben Kingsley). Flabber offers to grant the kids one wish because he is friendly and grateful that they liberated him from the hellish maw beneath the mansion.

Draw, Joss and Roland immediately wish to become the heroes of their favorite Saturday morning TV show. Flabber obliges and turns them into the Big Bad Beetleborgs. The Big Bad Beetleborgs wear bio-armor and wield bio-swords infused with the life force of insects, developed by the Earth Academia’s brightest minds.

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Draw, Joss and Roland become the Big Bad Beetleborgs with the help of Flabber

It’s all fun and games until the Big Bad Beetleborgs discover silly Flabber accidently brought their sworn enemy to life: the evil Vexor (Robert DeNiro). Vexor transforms regular humans into his synthetic beast slave monsters (or “Magnavores”) using the Jamahl Melody, a form of occult magic. To battle the Beetleborgs, Vexor summons a veritable “rogues gallery” of Magnavore monsters:

  • Death Mult (Al Pacino) – A bird-faced monster with a pronounced wheeze.
  • Bagma Virus (Casey Affleck) – A hunchbacked gray-furred rat monster.
  • Heavyznake (Luis Guzman) – A reptilian humanoid with a long snake draped over the head area that serves as his arms
  • Bububu (Brian Dennehy) – A pig monster who can breathe a white gas that steals human voices, reducing them to grunts and squeals. He can breathe fire and blast lasers from his tusks
  • Kamaza (Leslie Jones) – A mantis monster whose mission is to spread her eggs all over the planet, injecting them into people using her long, spiked tongue.
  • Gagamoth (Sylvester Stallone) – At first an energy-sucking caterpillar monster, Gagamoth metamorphoses into a red moth monster when it absorbs the Beet Ingram’s power
  • Rasbelga (Wayne Knight) – a monster similar to a carnivorous plant that can move on its own and feeds on small animals
  • Figer (Kirsten Dunst) – A legendary fire-breathing cat monster that is fossilized and unable to move
  • Macho No. 5 (Jeffrey Tambor) – A horned tree-sloth monster who is extremely lazy much to Vexor’s dismay. Eventually Vexor has Macho No. 5 pose as a bus driver and use his tongue to suck the energy out of people to become active while they become lazy.
  • Hammer Kong (Jon Hamm) – a silver and gold robot with giant hammers on his hands and a head in the shape of a hammer head with the striking surface being his face. He can pound his hands on the ground to create Hammer Crush shock waves, or toss them in his Hammer Boomerang attack while firing a “Kong Beam” from his single eye & spit giant nails to pin his enemies to a wall.

The Big Bad Beetleborgs successfully destroy nearly all of the Magnavores in a series of action-packed adventures. However, Hammer Kong proves to be too powerful for the Beetleborgs to battle on their own. They decide to seek out Roland’s grandmother Nano (Jessica Lange) for help.

Nano works at the TV station responsible for broadcasting the Beetleborgs TV show. She introduces the kids to Art Fortunes (Dustin Hoffman), the creator of the show. They beg him to help them defeat the Magnavores. Though he doesn’t think it will work, Fortunes agrees to use the TV station’s satellite dish to beam a strong signal directly into their friends Pokus and Braden. The signal transforms Pokus and Braden into White Blaster Beetleborg and the Mega Blue Beetleborg

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Dustin Hoffman as television producer Art Fortunes

With the help of White Blaster and Mega Blue, the Beetleborgs finally defeat Hammer Kong, turning both him and Vexor into nothing more than a pile of nuclear ash. Meanwhile, Art Fortunes makes evil plans to take advantage of the newfound power of his satellite dish in a clear set up for a sequel.

Obviously, there’s nothing in Big Bad Beetleborgs that’s particularly new or original if you’ve spent any time watching the original TV series. Though a few names have been changed and certain aspects of the plot have been rearranged, it all felt very familiar to me. But with top of the line special effects and production design, a stellar cast, and inspired direction by David Cronenberg, it’s definitely worth the price of admission.

TL;DR – While not breaking any new ground, David Cronenberg’s first film for children is a highly polished and professional production that is a worthy successor to the original series.

What the rest of the critics are saying:

“Big Bad Beetleborgs is a smash hit!” – Owen Gleibermann, Entertainment Weekly

“I had never heard of the original TV series, so this was like a brand new normal movie for me, and I loved every minute of it.” Eric D. Snider, EricDSnider.com

“David Cronenberg’s lurid imagination is finally at work again in the insectoid and skeletal design of the movie’s many fabulous creatures and machines.” Tirn Moloch, Bloody Disgusting

“Robert DeNiro’s hammy performance as the film’s villain Vexor is yet another embarrassment the once great star will never live down.” – Ward Geith, IGN Movies

“The movie constantly introduces new characters and strange, largely unexplained concepts like the Jamahl Melody. You can try to understand Big Bad Beetleborgs or you can try to enjoy Big Bad Beetleborgs, but you cannot possibly do both.” – A.O. Scott, The New York Times

“An embarrassment for the entire cast, for director David Cronenberg, but mostly for you for spending time and money watching this moronic garbage.” – James Berardelli, ReelViews

“Everyone involved in this movie should be ashamed they accepted payment to fabricate such a nonsensical waste of time.” – Scott Tobias, NPR

“Sit back and let the Big Bad Beetleborgs take you on the ride of your life.” – Murvin Del Toro, Cinegarage

Melonmeter® Score:

72% liquid & seed retention – watermelon_icon_pitr-1979px CERTIFIED JUICY™ BUT MAYBE LACKING SOME SEEDS OF ORGINALITY

Power Rangers (2017)

Lionsgate Entertainment and director Dean Israelite have reinvigorated the Power Rangers franchise with an entirely novel approach to the characters and mythology we all know and love. If you strip away all the flashy computer generated special effects and whizzbang action, the new Power Rangers film is actually a compelling, 1970s-style paranoid conspiracy thriller in the mold of The Parallax View or Three Days of the Condor.

Power Rangers is elevated by its award-winning ensemble of actors, including Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba, Naomi Watts, Paula Abdul, Sissy Spacek, Eddie Redmayne and Jon Cryer. Cryer in particular gives a standout performance as the autistic Billy Cranston (aka the Blue Ranger), a computer expert with an inability to understand the most basic social cues.

The first hour and twenty minutes of the movie is a strictly realistic story of an internecine bureaucratic struggle between the corrupt Secretary of Homeland Security Rita Repulsa (Spacek) and a team of spies working in the National Security Agency nicknamed the “Power Rangers.” The Rangers struggle to prove that Secretary Repulsa is betraying America by hollowing out the border security and immigration screening functions of her department. They attempt to steal files and hack into computer systems but are consistently outfoxed by Repulsa’s mastery of the the general and permanent federal statutes of the United States government.

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Michael Fassbender as the Green Ranger (unmorphed)

Toby Olbers (aka the Green Ranger, portrayed by Fassbender) cracks the case wide open when he obtains information from an anonymous leaker in a dimly lit parking garage. The information he receives proves that Secretary Repulsa has been covertly working for the Islamic cleric turned terrorist ringleader known as Lord Zed (Dileep Rao). The Power Rangers must use their secret morphin’ powers to battle the putty patrollers, defeat Goldar and summon the Zords for a final showdown with Lord Zed’s Jamaat Ansar Islamic Liberation Front.

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From left to right: Idris Elba, Paula Abdul, Eddie Redmayne, Naomi Watts and Jon Cryer

The last hour of Power Rangers is a nonstop smash fest between the humanoid robot Zords (piloted by the Power Rangers) and the suicide bombers of Jamaat Ansar Islamic Liberation Front, who have been trained up to an elite level in Africa by Boko Haram fighters. By the end of the movie I was gasping for more, and cannot wait to see the “five or six or seven sequels” already being discussed by Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer.

TL;DR – Suspenseful and politically astute, Power Rangers is a superior entry in the franchise’s canon and is sure to thrill audiences of all ages.

What the rest of the critics are saying:

“While I appreciated the dense political content of the movie, it seemed to bore the children who made up the vast majority of the audience in the theater. Many of them napped until woken up by the loud and interminable battle of Zords and suicide bombers at the end of the movie.” – Anthony Lane, The New Yorker

“I can’t decide which performance I found more mesmerizing: Paula Abdul as the Black Ranger or Idris Elba as the Yellow Ranger.” – Belkina Mazona, IndieWire

“I found the obvious Islamophobic and anti-immigrant sentiment of Power Rangers to be alarming, as it has been marketed primarily to young children and teenagers.” – Bhaskar Sunkara, Jacobin

“The taut, conspiratorial, dialogue-driven scenes of the first half contrast dramatically with the phantasmagorical and entirely nonverbal action of the second half.” – Full Edwards, Village Voice

“Who expected a Power Rangers movie could be so smart and relevant to the world we live in now?” – Eric D. Snider, EricDSnider.com

“I’m sure I’m not the only one who noticed the hints dropped indicating Fassbender’s Green Ranger is actually a mole for the Chinese government, setting him up as the villain for the inevitable sequel.” – Jasper Knowles, Den of Geek

Melonmeter® Score:

90% liquid & seed retention – watermelon_icon_pitr-1979px CERTIFIED JUICY™ 

CHiPs

I just got back from watching CHiPs (2017), the long awaited adaptation of the classic 70s cop show. Full disclosure: I am long time CHiPsie and appear briefly in the documentary CHiPsies about the CHiPs fan community and our annual convention in Anaheim. I guess you could say when it comes to any media related to CHiPs, I’m a little biased.

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Regardless, I am absolutely thrilled with CHiPs (2017). It’s a laugh out loud roller coaster ride full of unexpected twists and turns that stays true to the lore established by the original series. As difficult as it was for me to forgive the film’s producers for ignoring my spec screenplay which I sent to them several times, and as challenging it was for me to accept that the producers chose not to cast Will Ferrell and Jack Black as I advised to play the film’s leads, and as hard as I found it to believe they completely dismissed the vision that came to me in the night to create a new villain called Savage Influence played by Gary Busey to bring a quasi-surreal menace to the proceedings, in the end I must admit that Dax Shepherd and his team did a phenomenal job bringing CHiPs back to life all things considered.

(For those of you who would suggest it would be wrong for Jack Black to play the hot blooded Latino Officer Frank “Ponch” Poncherello, let me remind you Jack Black proved he could play an ethnic Mexican type in Nacho Libre.)

I’m still absorbing what I saw tonight. Back at the CHiPsie convention in ‘09 we were all convinced an honest-to-God CHiPs movie would never come to fruition. I apologize if I’m still a bit stunned that this movie came true and I actually got to see it in my lifetime.

Let’s start with what I assumed would be nearly impossible to pull off. There were points during the movie when Michael Peña’s portrayal of Ponch actually made me forget Erik Estrada’s generation-defining performance. Can you imagine what it would take for a dedicated CHiPsie to admit another actor could go pound for pound with Estrada?

I’m getting so excited remembering the movie that I think I’m going to go back to watch it again right now. If you’re in the LA area meet me at LA Live for the midnight screening in about ten minutes.

TL;DR – CHiPsies from coast to coast will rejoice and parade through the streets when they see what Dax Shepard has accomplished with CHiPs. CHiPs happens!

What the rest of the critics are saying:

I don’t care what the rest of the critics are saying. This is CHiPs and no one else but a true CHiPsie like me gets a say on the Melonmeter for this one.

Melonmeter® Score:

100% liquid & seed retention – watermelon_icon_pitr-1979px CERTIFIED JUICY™ & I PROMISE THE JUICE WILL BE RUNNING DOWN YOUR CHIN AFTER THIS ONE

That Guy Who Gets All The Bad Poison Away

That Guy Who Gets All The Bad Poison Away is the best superhero movie since Logan. Finally we get to see a movie with both the gritty realism of Logan and the edgy, playful sense of humor of Deadpool. You heard it here first: TGWGATBPA is a fast-paced, absolutely crazy and action-packed thrill ride. I can’t recommend it highly enough to comic books fans and movie fans in general.

OK, I know what you’re thinking. You say it’s a great superhero movie, but what about the story? Trust me, this one’s got a story: Drick Bravisson (John Krasinski) is a mild-mannered computer systems analyst for the CIA until a Russian spy (Joe Pantoliano) throws toxic chemicals all over his face and body. It turns out the Russians mistook Drick Bravisson for a high-level political target, and now they’re gonna have to pay the price.

The chemicals transform Drick Bravisson into a crazy green monster kind of like the Hulk but with more wisecracks and less rage. At first Drick uses his powers to do crazy tricks like flip over cars and ride the skateboard really fast until it jumps over buildings. But then Drick realizes he has to use his powers to make the world a better place and that’s when he becomes That Guy Who Gets All The Bad Poison Away.

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John Krasinski as That Guy Who Gets All the Bad Poison Away

In the second act of TGWGATBPA, our hero uses his powers to stop the bad poison from killing innocent people. Bad poison is everywhere, but luckily because of his accident That Guy Who Gets The Bad Poison Away can be everywhere too. The editing and cinematography the filmmakers use to achieve this effect will blow your mind. Plus, Drick Bravisen has still got plenty of motormouth one-liners to add spice while he’s saving lives.

Eventually, That Guy Who Gets The Bad Poison Away realizes where all the bad poison is coming from: the Russians. That’s right, the same Russian military intelligence agents who sprayed Drick Barviton with toxic chemicals in the first place are discovered to be manufacturing all the bad poison that’s killing so many innocent people. I won’t reveal what happens next because no spolies but trust me when I say That Guy Who Gets The Bad Poison Away definitely gets all the bad poison away in the end.

Paramount has already announced plans for Dark Bavisson to return in TGWGATBPA 2 and 3 plus a tie-in series on Netflix. I personally can’t wait to see what happens next in this franchise that’s got more thrills and laughs than anything in the stupid Marvel Avengers movies which are just for dumb kiddies.

TL;DRThat Guy Who Gets All The Bad Poison Away subverts superhero film formula with wildly entertaining — and decidedly non-family-friendly — results.

What the rest of the critics are saving:

“I couldn’t believe how funny this movie was because superhero movies are usually just about the action.” – Mamat Trikabeon, Birth.Movies.Death

“Luckily for all of us in the audience, the chemical attack on Krasinski’s face and body transforms him into a much funnier and more interesting character.” – Nathan Rabin, The Dissolve

That Guy Who Gets All The Bad Poison Away boasts some great stylish action, and is probably the funniest movie of the young year.” – Brad Keefe, Columbus Alive

“Joaquin Phoenix delivers a feat in his directorial debut (he also plays the villain Vladimir Rodchenko). On the superhero movie rating scale – which we can safely say has certainly had its ups and downs – TGWGATBPA is pretty juicy.” – Tombo Cruz, Collider

“Each time That Guy Who Gets All The Bad Poison Away turns into the camera and gives us some oddly phrased commentary on what’s just happened, it sent me into a huge giggle fit.” – Eric D. Snider, EricDSnider.com

“A dispiriting mishmash of elements from Deadpool and slightly rewritten lines from Beckett and Ionesco plays taken out of context and inserted into scenes of gratuitous violence and explosions.” – Nathaneal However, Guernica Magazine

“The sex scenes involving That Guy Who Gets All The Bad Poison Away and a visibly frightened Kristen Stewart made me so uncomfortable my brain just shut off for the rest of the movie.” – Alison Wilmore, BuzzFeed

“The Movie of the Decade!” – Owen Gleibermann, Entertainment Weekly

Melonmeter® Score:

95% liquid & seed retention – watermelon_icon_pitr-1979px CERTIFIED JUICY

Wishing for Quicksand

Released to theaters last weekend to little fanfare, Wishing for Quicksand is yet another one of those Luke Wilson road movies that seem to come along every couple years. Cast once again as a soulful sad sack, even Luke Wilson seems bored playing another a down on his luck hometown hero who has to hit the road on a journey that will lead him to encounter a ensemble of quirky supporting characters and in the end find a measure of redemption (and even happiness).

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If you can’t distinguish the plot described above from the last two Luke Wilson road movies, you’re not alone. There’s little in Wishing for Quicksand that couldn’t be traded out for a nearly identical component from Waiting for My Wings (2015) or A Slow Ride on a High Road (2013). Personally, I haven’t enjoyed a Luke Wilson road movie since Lowdown Country Swing (2009), and Wishing for Quicksand is certainly a far cry from my personal favorite Life o’ Crime, Life o’ Mine (2002).  

Facing diminishing returns at the box office and increasingly hostile notices from critics, I’m optimistic this will be one of the last Luke Wilson road movies I’m forced to sit through. If not, then in the words of Wishing for Quicksand‘s Pete Deanston (Luke Wilson): “Might be about time to pack it in after all these years.”

TL;DR – There’s nothing fresh or original about the latest Luke Wilson road movie.

What the rest of the critics are saying:

“As far as Luke Wilson road movies go, it’s no All Roads Lead to Arlington, Texas (2000).” – Reggie Becker Dodley,  NPR

“At least it’s better than Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (2007).” – Tara Carker, New Orleans Times-Picayune

“Who keeps going to see these Luke Wilson road movies? Could you please stop for the sake of my sanity?” – Bin Everly, San Jose Mercury News

“There’s something reassuring about Wishing for Quicksand. It may be familiar, but it’s full of the homespun wisdom and salt-of-the-earth sense of humor that I crave around this time of year.” – Eric D. Snider, EricDSnider.com

“The characters and plot in Wishing for Quicksand are nearly identical to Slippin’ on Down the Highway (2005), which isn’t even the best Luke Wilson road movie.” – Tad Gompers, ScreenAnarchy

“Hat’s off to Luke Wilson – you finally lost me after all these years.” – Brian Truitt, USA Today

“There’s barely been a change to the formula of these movies since Hat’s Off to Ya (1999). Even James Bond movies evolve faster.” – Tidbis Volurian, IGN Movies

Melonmeter® Score:

21% liquid & seed retention – watermelon-512  THOROUGHLY LACKING IN JUICE AND SEEDS AND RATHER CANTALOUPE-LIKE TO BE HONEST™

T2 Trainspotting

Everyone remembers how the 1996 classic Trainspotting ends. Having survived all kinds of crazy adventures together, Mark ‘Rent Boy’ Renton (Ewen McGregor), Daniel ‘Spud Boy’ Murphy (Ewan McBremner), Simon ‘Sick Boy’ Williamson (Gerald Butler), Franco ‘Franc Boy’ Begbie (Robert Carlyle), Thomas ‘Tommy Boy’ MacKenzie (Robbie Coltrane), and Diane ‘Diane Boy’ Coulston (Kelly MacDonald), agree to reunite in twenty years to do heroin together for old time’s sake no matter where life takes them in the meantime. As much as I loved this feel good ending, I never once expected the filmmakers would make good on their promise to deliver a sequel twenty years later. I’ve never been more wrong about anything in my life.

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T2 Trainspotting picks up exactly twenty years later, with Simon ‘Sick Boy’ Williamson and Franco ‘Franc Boy’ Begbie sitting in the Crosslands Pub counting down on their watches to the exact minute when the old ‘Trainspotting’ gang is supposed to get together for one last ‘score.’ (‘Score’ is street slang for ‘Time to do a bunch of heroin!’). Thomas ‘Tommy Boy’ MacKenzie arrives exactly on time just as ‘Sick Boy’ and ‘Franc Boy’ look up from their watches. But that’s just ‘Tommy Boy’ for you, he’s always right on time.

The three men start to reminisce about the old days, but become increasingly anxious when the other members of the old ‘Trainspotting’ gang don’t show up as planned. “I wonder where they could be?” asks ‘Franc Boy’ as he finishes his second beer. In a moment of pitch perfect comic timing, Mark ‘Rent Boy’ Renton enters the pub at this very moment, which caused the whole audience I saw the movie with to burst out in laughter and applause.

‘Rent Boy’ tells his old ‘mates’ that Diane ‘Diane Boy’ Coulston is running late because she’s currently on a date but will meet up with them later. But no one knows where ‘Spud Boy’ is, so they all decide to go on a search for him.

At this point, I was worried the whole movie would be about the search for ‘Spud Boy,’ which would have been a wasted opportunity in my opinion. Luckily, the old ‘Trainspotting’ gang finds its missing member very quickly at another pub nearby. Apparently ‘Spud Boy’ was confused about which pub the gang was supposed to meet at which is just like ‘Spud Boy,’ he always got details mixed up especially when he was feeling the effects of heroin withdrawal.

The movie really takes off when ‘Franc Boy’ takes out a gun and insists they immediately fly to the ‘Golden Triangle’ in Burma to partake in some fresh heroin on the cheap. ‘Sick Boy’ gets very excited about all the different types of heroin they’ll get to try including brown, white and black tar.

Setting the majority of the movie in Southeast Asia was the best decision the filmmakers could have made because Scotland is a very boring country. The first movie is about how the characters adopted heroin habits to cope with ‘Scottish boredom’ so it’s only natural the characters fly the coop in the sequel. It also follows in the tradition of similar successful sequels such The Hangover Part II.

I won’t reveal too many spoilers about the ‘Trainspotting’ gang’s adventures in Southeast Asia. Suffice to say that ‘Rent Boy’ finally perfects his infamous ‘toilet dive’ after twenty years of tireless practice and pulls off convincing impressions of Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig finally making him the foremost James Bond actor impressionist in the entire world. There’s also an unforgettable twenty-minute sequence where the characters try every method imaginable to cure their perpetual constipation.

TL;DRT2 Trainspotting fulfills the promise made by the original movie to revisit the characters twenty years later for one last heroin binge, this time in Southeast Asia.

What the rest of the critics are saying:

“All great sequels take place in Southeast Asia, and T2 Trainspotting is no different.” – Turissa Plicksen, Uproxx

T2 Trainspotting follows in the globetrotting footsteps of many sequels that are better than the original such as The Hangover Part II and Terminator 2: Judgement Day. These movies teach us the secret of sequel success is moving the action to Southeast Asia.” – Todd VanDerWoof, Vox

“Danny Boyle, James Cameron, and Todd Phillips all have one thing in common: they all realized audiences hungered to see their beloved characters travel to Southeast Asia for another adventure together.” – Eric D. Snider, EricDSnider.com

“It’s heartwarming to watch these characters gaze into each other’s eyes with such warmth, nostalgia and heroin-induced euphoria.” – Kyle Smith, New York Post

“The movie turns hard drug use into just another lifestyle choice for the middle aged bourgeois.” – Nathaneal However, Guernica Magazine

Melonmeter® Score:

93% liquid & seed retention – watermelon_icon_pitr-1979px CERTIFIED JUICY

The Saturday Night Live Movie

From The Blues Brothers to MacGruber, Saturday Night Live has a rich tradition of adapting their most popular sketches into feature length comedies. While they range in quality from the hilarious Wayne’s World to the intersexphobic It’s Pat, audiences are always excited for the next SNL movie.

The Saturday Night Live Movie, released exclusively on broadcast television last night at 11:30pm, met but did not exceed my expectations. Running for exactly 90 minutes, it contained a variety of sketches featuring the current cast and host Scarlett Johansson, two musical performances by Lorde, one commercial parody, and several actual commercials I recognized from real life.

The political cold open was excellent, if perhaps a little too ephemeral. I would have liked to see the writers focus on creating catchphrases that become part of our daily vernacular (e.g. “Superstar!” or “Shwing!”) instead of recycling the worn out “Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!” To quote Tina Fey, “Stop trying to make ‘Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!’ happen.”

The opening credits were very cool. We get a peak inside the personal lives of the film’s cast, although some of these actors should stick to characters, and not try and be “natural” – yikes. The whole sequence was edited together with a visual flair reminiscent of Saul Bass.

I won’t get into specifics about the monologue scene or the sketch scenes, but suffice to say some were better than others. The last sketch of the film was the least funny, but was also kind of weird and original too, and I keep thinking about it days later.

If you like Saturday Night Live, and the movies they inspire, I recommend The Saturday Night Live Movie, with the caveat that it’s hit and miss and not as good as the show used to be.

What the rest of the critics are saying:

“What a terrific idea to make a movie composed of whimsical comic scenes interrupted by a couple of musical performances by one of our current era’s most promising singers! I tip my hat to the producer, Lorne Michaels. If he keeps this up, I’m sure he will have a long and distinguished career in the pictures.” – Anthony Lane, The New Yorker

“Though amusing for what it is, all the references to pop culture and current events suggest this film will not have staying power in the long run.” – TomTom Jackson Jones, Newark Star-Ledger

“The eye popping energy of the cast makes up for nearly all of the jokes falling flat.” – Bertha Channis, Flavorwire

“I found the inclusion of a live audience as part of the feature film experience to be an exhilarating innovation, especially now that we watch most movies alone at home.” – James Berardelli, ReelViews

“At first I was upset about the inclusion of commercials in a movie. Commercials are for TV, you know? But then I noticed some of the commercials were so silly and absurd that they had to be created just to lampoon the idea of commercials being in a movie.” – Eric D. Snider, EricDSnider.com

“Yesterday I was surprised to receive a call from a Comcast Universal publicist inviting me to a ‘secret screening’ of a brand new feature film. I received no title, cast or synopsis and was dismayed to learn the only screening was at 11:30pm which is past my bedtime. I dutifully took a nap in the afternoon so I would be fresh and ready for the film that evening. Imagine my disappointment when the film turned out to be nothing more than an episode of Saturday Night Live, the long running late night TV series.” – Thumiso Neepawa, Miami Herald

“A talented cast is constrained by half baked writing and geriatric production.” – Albania Vasquez, Variety

Melonmeter® Score:

60% liquid & seed retention –  icon_fruit1-14-512 SUFFICIENTLY JUICY, YET BLAND, A HONEYDEW