Chris (Eric Andre) doesn’t have much going for him – no nice house, or good job, or even a car, but when his childhood crush walks through the door, he feels like the luckiest man in the world. Unfortunately, Maria (Michaela Conlin) is just passing through Florida – though she does suggest he look her up in Manhattan if he’s ever in town. It sounds like a polite kiss-off to me and you, but Chris is desperate to take her up on the offer, so he enlists best friend Bud (Lil Rel Howery) to hit the road with him.
Neither has a car, so they borrow Bud’s sister’s car. And by borrow I mean they take it without her knowledge or permission, which she would never give. But Trina’s in prison, so what can she do? Break out of prison, for one, and pursue them all the way to New York City for another. Trina (Tiffany Haddish) doesn’t take any shit from anyone. Anyway, this flimsy plot is really just the framework to allow Eric Andre to pull a series of pranks on unsuspecting rubes up and down the east coast.
Not as political as Borat nor as foolish as Jackass, Bad Trip is thankfully not mean-spirited, but it does get to some pretty outlandish heights (or lows, really), including but certainly not limited to gorilla sodomy and projectile vomiting. I’m not really into pranks but most of their victims weren’t just good sports but good people (discounting one while guy on a golf course), which is sort of heartening to see. And the trio are clearly having so much fun getting away with their tricks it’s kind of irresistible. With a few genuine laughs, this isn’t a terrible option if you don’t mind rude, juvenile (yet still R-rated) humour, but no one’s mistaking this for great. Maybe just a bit of harmless escapism to get you through another weekend in the Red Zone.
The film opens with a David Attenborough nature documentary-style narration as we swim through the reef toward Bikini Bottom, where our protagonist resides. It’s a nice touch though possibly lost on a lot of kids, and unfortunately, pretty much the highlight of the entire movie.
In today’s extended episode, Plankton (Mr. Lawrence) decides that his longtime rival Mr. Krabs (Clancy Brown) is not the true bane of his existence; it’s his devoted employee SpongeBob (Tom Kenny) who seems to thwart all his nefarious plans. And so Plankton hatches yet another nefarious plan, this time to rid Bikini Bottom of SpongeBob by kidnapping his beloved pet snail, Gary. Gary winds up in the hands of King Poseidon (Matt Berry), ruler of The Lost City of Atlantic City, who’s just a little bit obsessed with youth (and snail slime, or snail mucin, an even worse word, is an actual, legitimate ingredient in a lot of skin care products). So SpongeBob, his best friend Patrick (Bill Fagerbakke), and their robotic chauffeur Otto (Awkwafina) will embark on a road trip adventure that will take them across the sea and even on land in search of said Lost City. On the way they’ll find a sage named Sage (Keanu Reeves) and be guided spiritually if not geographically by him in their quest to bring Gary home.
Sean and I are not fans of SpongeBob generally, and without prior attachment to these characters, this movie isn’t exactly spectacular. Longtime fans might be quite happy to find out how young, cute SpongeBob, Patrick, and Sandy (Carolyn Lawrence) first met, but for the rest of us it feels suspiciously like padding for an extremely thin concept.
Not to mention you REALLY can’t get nitpick this show. You have to accept that they live under the sea AND their glasses can still be only half full AND there can still be puddles on the ground AND they can light grills and keep burgers from getting soggy etc etc. It’s a cartoon so I’m going to work on letting this shit go but just know that I’m on to you, Nickelodeon.
Sponge On The Run isn’t really meant for non-fans, and possibly not for adult fans either. Its simple story is constantly interrupted and sidetracked, with so many distractions no one would blame you for losing track of the plot. The stars of the show are upstaged by a tumbleweed and the truth is you’re just not going to be blown away by this film. There’s a slim chance you might be entertained by it though, at least mildly-to-moderately, especially if you care for these characters and wouldn’t mind paying them a socially-distanced visit.
[Note: not so much a review as a full-on recap and discussion…I’d say *spoilers ahead* except you already know she’s going to sing…right? So let’s get into what she wore and to whom she was bitchy.]
Some might say that a “premise” isn’t really necessary for a Mariah Carey Christmas Special. She’s practically Christmas royalty – hand her a microphone and we’re set. But nobody ever accused Mariah of not being extra, and so we have this:
Tiffany Haddish opens up a book and begins reading a Christmas tale about the year 2020 and how it was very difficult for people, resulting in a general lack of Christmas cheer. We check in with Billy the Elf (Billy Eisner) at the North Pole, who confirms the numbers are dangerously low. He greets Millie Bobby Brown, Bette Midler, and Heidi Klum, who concur (a random consortium, but I’ll take it). Billy surmises that there’s really only one thing to be done:
Cut to: Mariah Carey in a body-con holiday onesie the envy of ski bunnies everywhere, trimming the tree with her beautiful twins, Monroe and Moroccan, and a third child who’s basically just there to do the acting on their behalf. Unfortunately, no such stand-in is available for Mariah, who gives the most wooden Mariah Carey performance of her life (in fairness, she is probably physically incapable of moving her face). Mariah’s secret Santa phone is ringing, and she is summoned to the North Pole to save Christmas the way only Mariah Carey can. To the Batcave! Or the secret Christmas cave behind the fireplace anyway, where a self-propelled sleigh is awaiting to to whisk her away to the North Pole.
Anyway, she arrives to the North Pole like she is its Queen, and she kind of basically is. As “Santa’s Great Friend,” her arrival merits a parade thrown in her honour, rolled out so quickly they must keep it on standby and rehearse it periodically, like funerals for all the members of the royal family.
Or, I suppose I should say the “North Pole” – we’ve really taken increasing artistic license with the North Pole over the years. The geographic North Pole is found in the Arctic Ocean, on constantly shifting pieces of sea ice. It’s mostly just the sea ice, icebergs, and glaciers up there (no, those aren’t synonyms), with plant life mostly limited to grasses, mosses and lichens, not the oodles of evergreens Christmas Special set decorators are prone to overuse.
Mariah consents, from the bottom of her generous bosom heart to give a concert that will bring cheer to all who hear it. In her first costume change (out of 6.5), she appears in a glittering gold gown and stands beside a red lacquered piano to belt out the first of many Christmas carols.
In a third outfit, a short red and black dress with an impressively unnecessary train, she greets Snoop Dogg and Jermaine Dupri for a song, Snoop Dogg looking like he’s blissed out on some sort of special elf blend in a big red Santa suit he’s not remotely self-conscious about. And then Ariana Grande and Jennifer Hudson join her on stage, and by join her I mean quite visibly play back up singer to Mariah Carey’s lead singer. Wearing green dresses (Ariana in a cute velvet number and Jennifer looking like an absolute vision in sequins) and standing slightly behind and to the sides of Ms. Diva Carey, flanking her like they’re definitely not the stars of this special. When Mariah hits those high whistle notes of hers with a finger in her ear (an affectation when you’re lip-syncing, sure, but Mariah Carey is like 117% affectation), you might almost believe she’s doing it to block out Ms. Grande who’s joining her up in that upper register, but no, Mariah Carey has marked her territory and no one could mistake this as anything but her show. Not even Misty Copeland, ballerina extraordinaire, who’s up next.
Then there’s the silver dress which Mariah wears standing out in the “forest.” Let’s take a moment to shout out the formidable wardrobe department who help Mariah’s considerable assets defy gravity with a minimum of straps or structural support. This, above all, is the magic in Mariah Carey’s Magical Christmas Special. Her wig department is no less overworked but a little less technically proficient. The silver dress segment has her sporting a windblown look that stays windblown even without her dedicated wind machines, of which there are many.
Next we have the great big white dress that takes up nearly the entire stage. If you saw a woman wearing it down the aisle you’d wonder who the hell she think she is (Celine Dion?). She could be hiding several Billy Eichners under there. But then, for the next song, it seems the voluminous skirt is removed to reveal a fitted mermaid dress underneath, with sheer cutouts, no sleeves, and plenty of cleave. This is the portion of our evening in which Mariah will now heal the world, and she does it with two things: candle light, and extensive humming. If you’re thinking about watching this special, BYOC (bring your own candle). Millie, Heidi, and Bette all seem to have been cured. Billy Eichner confirms up: cheer is alive and well! Mariah has indeed saved the day, as we all knew she would.
Tiffany Haddish closes the book on Mariah’s Christmas miracle, but have no fear, we’re all heading back to the North Pole for one last number, and Mariah will be joined onstage by her children, who are pretty enthusiastic little dancers. Her encore deserves one last costume change, into a military/nutcracker inspired red sequined number that is worthy of the song that inspired the special, All I Want For Christmas Is You. Mariah Carey could be cryogenically frozen the other 11 months of the year and just rolled out for Christmas, and to add another billion to her bank account for a song she co-wrote and co-produced with Walter Afanasieff. That song gains in popularity every damn year, it’s a modern Christmas classic and it keeps her busy all December long, belting it out at every tree lighting ceremony across the country. It even broke the record for the longest trip to the number one position, reaching the spot 25 years after the song’s original release. It’s her bread and butter and has the coveted last spot in her Christmas Special (though it’s teased earlier). It’s exactly the kind of special you need around the holidays, and it couldn’t contain any more Mariah per square inch without exploding.
I didn’t know my Phineas from my Ferb until about 20 minutes ago. No, I’m exagerating. I still can’t tell them apart. I vaguely knew they existed but had assumed the teal bird was either Phineas or perhaps Ferb. He’s not. Turns out he’s called Perry the Platypus, so apparently he’s not even a bird. As far as Phineas and Ferb (two human children, step-brothers) know, Perry is just the family pet, but he’s actually been placed in the family as a secret agent, which is old news if you’re a fan of the show – nearly every episode’s b-plot involves Perry trying to foil mad scientist Dr. Heinz Doofenschmirtz’s latest evil scheme. The main plot usually consists of Phineas and Ferb embarking on some grandiose project – like building a roller coaster in their backyard – which annoys the heck out of big sister Candace, and of which all evidence is improbably erased before she can alert their parents. This movie, it would seem, is when poor Candace finally gets her due, not to mention a starring role (although have no fear: Phineas, Ferb, and even Perry are all along for the ride).
If, like me, you’d never seen the show, worry not, because Candace basically sums up her fraught history with Phineas and Ferb in a cute opening musical number. Which brings me to the next point: Phineas and Ferb is somehow an animated musical comedy. That’s ambitious!
Anyway, poor Candace is usually portrayed as controlling and a tattletale, but I bet you’d feel kind of annoyed if you little brothers were always getting away with murder in the backyard. This is the film that finally reveals that she’s mostly been misunderstood. She’s not mean. She doesn’t hate them. She just feels excluded. So not only will Phineas and Ferb’s project today involve her, she’s actually its inspiration: Phineas and Ferb are going to rescue their sister from an alien abduction!
Yeah, I may have buried the lead. The stepbrothers witness her abduction and recruit Isabella, Baljeet and Buford to build a portal which fails to bring them to the planet where she’s been taken and instead redirects them to Dr. Heinz Doofenschmirtz’s lab, where he too was attempting to build a portal. So instead they board the evil doctor’s spaceship and head toward outer space, with Perry the Platypus secretly tagging along.
But Candace is not having the very bad day you might expect from the recent victim of an alien invasion. She’s bonding with her captor, who commiserates with her hardships (she also has 2 brothers, ugh), and who makes her feel special for carrying the rare element Remarkalonium.
Will the brothers find Candace before extraction takes place? And if they do – will she even want to leave? And will their parents finally catch them in the act?
The movie was surprisingly accessible to a first-time viewer, and was also surprisingly well-written. A stand-alone movie is planned for a theatrical release, but this movie, meant to have taken place before the series ended, was written specifically for Disney+ where it will find its fans the quickest. And that’s who this movie is really for, after all: the people who have loved and supported it since day one. The people, young and old alike, who miss seeing their favourite characters in new adventures. Fans of the show will be delighted with the film, which expands the Phineas and Ferb universe while working in all the things you loved about the original series.
Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candace Against the Universe features the voice work of Vincent Martella, Ashley Tisdale, Dan Povenmire, David Errigo Jr., Alyson Stoner, Maulik Pancholy, Bobby Gaylor, Ali Wong, Dee Bradley Baker, Wayne Brady, Olivia Olson, Thomas Middleditch, Diedrich Bader, Caroline Rhea, Tiffany Haddish, John O’Hurley, Weird Al Yankovic, and more besides, but my fingers are cramping. It’s a good mix of new and old, which is what you want in a nostalgia-driven sequel. And what better way to indulge your youthful whim than to spend a Saturday morning in pajamas, with a heaping bowl full of sugary cereal, and your subscription to Disney+.
Mia (Tiffany Haddish) and Mel (Rose Byrne) are best friends since middle school. They started a beauty company together in a garage and grew it into a beautiful storefront location. Mia is the creative one, hands-on with customers and bursting with ideas, but there’s no structure to her process and it can’t be rushed or quantified. Mel takes care of the books and the logistics. She makes sure things run smoothly so that Mia can continue to create. But they’ve yet to recoup their costs from the storefront opening and they’re running quite a deficit. Mel doesn’t like to be the bearer of bad news and Mia doesn’t like to hear it, so Mel’s been carrying that burden alone and is relieved to hear that beauty giant Claire Luna is considering investing in their company. It sounds like the lifeline they’ll need to survive.
But while Mel is relieved and excited by the offer, Mia disdains it. They started their own company so they’d never have to work for anyone else again, and Claire Luna (Salma Hayek) has been pretty clear that her influx of cash comes with plenty of strings. In fact, when Mia and Mel reluctantly accept having not much of a choice, we the audience know something they don’t: Claire intends to sow discord among them to ultimately break them up so she’ll have controlling share. She’s pretty ruthless.
She’s also the only thing worth watching in this hot mess, although not necessarily in a good way. Hayek’s character is so baffling she’s hard to look away from, her complete lack of grounding or humanity make her unpredictable but also uninteresting. Which is still better than Haddish, who is too much, and Byrne, who is far, far too little. I have confirmed that this was in fact intended as a comedy, possibly because there is no genre for “just a group of people doing stuff of no particular value to no discernible effect.” There are better movies about business partners. There are better movies about friendship. Heck, there are better movies about eating something way too spicy.
Like A Boss cannot live up to its own title. It’s a bottom of the barrel comedy and director Miguel Arteta couldn’t find a joke if his mummy put it in a brown paper back with his name on it.
The people (birds) of Bird Island have been deeply engaged in an epic prank war with the people (pigs) of neighbouring Pig Island. But then an actual serious threat arrives from a third island, which has the pigs’ King Leonard (Bill Hader) calling for a truce so the two frenemy nations can discuss. Red (Jason Sudeikis), however, isn’t into truces. He’s the bird who gained popularity last movie when he saved the birds’ eggs from the evil green piggies. He’s afraid that a truce would make him irrelevant, and worse, unpopular.
But the threat is real, y’all. Purple-feathered tyrant Zeta (Leslie Jones) from Eagle Island is tired of living on the cold island. Birds and pigs are going to have to band together to overcome the threat together. Only problem: both Red and Leonard are reluctant to give up alpha status. Red is terrified if no longer being needed. But things are a little more complicated than the bill we’re being sold.
The movie hits all the cute notes the first one was known for: bright characters, great voices, zany antics. Plus pigs and flightless birds breaking out into dance almost constantly to crazy catchy pop songs. That’s literally all an animated film needs to be popular with kids. Angry Birds knows it. It’s undemanding, at times even unthinking, but it harnesses a charming chaotic energy that moves along so agreeably and so quickly you’ll hardly have time to think, let alone be bored. Fire! Ice! Lava injectors! Smells like bacon! Urinal hijinks and pigs in spandex: it doesn’t make a lot of sense but you wouldn’t be watching the sequel of a movie based on an app if you cared about logic in plot.
The voice talent is wonderful though it’s growing so exponentially it’s hard to give everyone their due. The animation seems to have leveled up since its last foray, if you bother to look past the garish colours and frenetic action. The sight gags are almost as frequent as the pop songs which means brainless or not, this movie is light-hearted fun.
And on a personal note, I get that Zeta is supposed to be the villain here, but as a Canadian living in my own wintry wasteland, I get you, girl. You just want to get some sun on your buns. But we could have avoided all this violence and mayhem if you did as Canadians do and buy a ticket to Mexico. Did I mention we’re going to Mexico next week? Feliz navidad, bitches.
When a bunch of gangsters get put away for terrorizing Hell’s Kitchen in the 1970s, their wives are left up s creek without a p. Oh sure The Family says it will provide for them, but the measly few bucks isn’t even enough to pay the rent. And we’re talking several years of jail time. So Kathy (Melissa McCarthy), Ruby (Tiffany Haddish), and Claire (Elisabeth Moss) grab their own p and conquer s creek.
Okay, that’s a bit reductive because as you can imagine, absolutely no one was thrilled to have the women take things over – not the people paying them, not their rivals, and especially not the leftover male members of their own mob. And I do apologize for having said ‘male member.’
This is exactly the kind of story you want to get behind 1000% and I can still recall seeing production stills from when they were filming and being extra hardcore jazzed about it. But as you can tell by the timing of this review, I didn’t even bother to see it in theatres. And that’s because try as they might, these 3 exceptional ladies can’t make up for a story that just isn’t there. It’s generic and bland and boring. I expected to see some ass kicking and clever one-up-womanship and salty language. But instead it’s just a bunch of hand-wring and counting money into neat little piles. That feeling of empowerment seems to be missing entirely – and so is the point.
I don’t fault anyone in the cast because they’re all churning out great work, but their characters are underdeveloped and at the end of the day, without character investment, the stakes are very low.
The Kitchen is a disappointment. A disappointing disappointment. I only finished watching it because I’d already paid the rental price, and even then I seriously contemplated a “pause” that we just never came back to.
Zach Galifianakis is our tour guide as we enjoy a behind the scenes look at the set of his wildly successful talk show, Between Two Ferns. It’s completely fake of course. And wonderful.
Zach’s “show” is a series of web videos you can find literally anywhere on the internet but most of all on Funny or Die. It looks like a bit of amateur public access television that somehow manages to book very high profile celebrities and seat them betwixt the eponymous two potted ferns. He has interviewed the biggest names: Brad Pitt, Justin Bieber, even Obama, but the thing that makes people seek out his videos is that he uses it as an excuse to insult celebrities to their face. He uses his own name but the interviewer character is extremely antagonistic and recklessly inappropriate. As Will Ferrell states, we’re laughing at him, not with him.
The movie’s premise, which is as thin as they come, is just Zach hitting the road in order to film 10 rapid-succession shows in order to achieve his ultimate goal of a network late night show. The plot, if you want to call it that, is flimsy because it’s just a vehicle for random acts of bizarre humour. You either like it or you don’t. It’s on Netflix so it’s low risk, but this is not going to win over any new fans and isn’t trying to. It’s just a 10 course dinner rather than its usual light snack. Can you take that much fern? Can anyone?
“People find you unpleasant,” this according to David Letterman, and he’s putting it lightly. This version of Zach Galifianakis is an asshole, but that’s the fun of his little show: it subverts the usual softball style of celebrity interviews. It looks Jon Hamm straight in the eye and asks whether Bradley Cooper’s success “will open doors for other hot idiots?” If you think it must be hard to get those insults out while remaining deadpan, stay tuned through the credits for proof.
Let me ask you a question: are you a sack of shit? Yeah, I didn’t think so. In that case, it’s pretty safe to say you’ll find this movie enjoyable. Like the first one, it’s not going to rock your world. It’s not going to usher in a new era of animation. It’s not a story that will be passed down generation to generation. It’s a just-funny-enough, tug-on-the-old-heartstrings, relate to humans through their better counterparts kind of thing.
The best kinds of people are dogs. That is a FACT.
Max (this time voiced by Patton Oswalt rather than the sex offender Louis C,K.), the very good boy from the first film, is back again. He and his very good boy brudder Duke (Eric Stonestreet) are welcoming yet another new addition to their family: a human baby named Liam. Yes, owner Katie (Ellie Kemper) has met and married a human man and produced an heir. We still don’t know what it is that Katie does to afford her very nice Manhattan apartment, but her life is very full. And Max, initially quite ambivalent about human children, grows to love Liam very very much. The feeling is mutual. But just loving Liam is not enough; Max feels he must protect him from the world. Max, normally a happy-go-lucky dog, is now a bit of a nervous nelly. The behaviourist outfits him with a cone of shame, and then his owners pack him off to the farm. Oh gosh, not the proverbial farm, an actual farm, where he meets rough and tough farm dog Rooster (Harrison Ford), who is determined to cure him with tough love and hard work.
Meanwhile, back in the city, old friends are up to new tricks. Fuzzy bunny Snowball (Kevin Hart) is helping new pal Daisy (Tiffany Haddish) to, believe it or not, rescue a tiger from a circus. And sweet little fluffball Gidget (Jenny Slate) has her own little rescue mission going, and enlists Chloe the cat (Lake Bell) for her particular brand of expertise.
This movie caught me right in the feels on at least to parts: a) My sister had a lovely good boy, also named Max, who got a little “overprotective” during her pregnancy, and through the birth of her first child, and he had to go to the proverbial farm. We all miss him to this day. b) My own little Fudgie is himself a bit of a nervous nelly and is newly on anti-anxiety meds actually called Clomicalm. He is not yet calm, but he is definitely not unhappy. He mostly worries about stupid stuff like: am I posing with my toy in exactly the right way to impress Sean when he comes in? How about now? How bout now? Now? NOWWW????
And of course, as pet owners generally and dog lovers specifically, and people who are just plain old not monsters, you can’t help but melt a little when you recognize a bit of your own four legged friend up on the screen. When Daisy made her mad face, I saw my Herbie. And when Max learned how to howl, I heard my Bronx (though Bronx does more of an “Awuuuuu.”)
So no, it’s not a terrific film. But it’s a sweet film, a cute film, it’s the film I wanted to see tonight and I’m glad I did. Awuuuuuu.
A fear-mongering, power-hungry president has decided to asked his fellow Americans to sign a loyalty oath to prove their patriotism. There are incentives to signing – tax breaks, of course – but signing will be totally optional. Americans have nearly a year – until Black Friday – to opt in or out. No pressure. But during that year, things are not as easy-peasy as first promised. ‘Patriots’ turn vitriolic. Hate crimes increase. Protests often get violent. Protestors start to mysteriously disappear. ‘Concerned’ citizens start turning each other in.
Sound disturbingly plausible?
But of course holidays must still be observed, so we join Chris and Kai as they host is family for Thanksgiving.
Chris (Ike Barinholtz) is staunchly against signing the oath; he and Kai (Tiffany Haddish) agree on that. But while Kai just wants to survive the family and survive her in-laws, Chris is glued to the television and obsessed with minute-to-minute reports from across the country. It’s hard to blame him: these are indeed crazy times.
Chris’s mother (Nora Dunn) insists on “no politics” at the table, but Chris can’t help but clash with his right-wing, oath-signing brother Pat and Pat’s alt-right, fake news spouting girlfriend. Even Chris’s “more reasonable” sister Alice (Carrie Brownstein) can’t get a word in. The first half of the movie plays out exactly like many of our own family gatherings would under similar circumstances. Ike Barinholtz, who also writes and directs, gets right to the heart of things, satirizing and underlining America’s troubling and polarizing partisanship. He keeps things interesting by casting Chris as equally culpable. He’s on the opposite side of the spectrum, but he’s every bit the blowhard, intolerant of every opinion but his own.
And then John Cho shows up. He and Billy Magnussen play CPU agents – that’s Citizens Protection Unit to you. It seems someone has reported Chris for his unAmerican activities. Cho plays a relatively reasonable guy, but Magnussen plays exactly the kind of guy who would be attracted to the position. Never mind that this oath was supposedly voluntary, he believes Chris is the worst kind of traitor, and he’ll stop at nothing (and I do mean nothing) to serve his country in the manner he’s deemed necessary. Shit goes south FAST. The film takes a detour toward the increasingly absurd, and yet Barinholtz never loses us because it never quite feels unrealistic. And maybe that’s the scariest part.
What I’ve failed to mention is that although this is technically a political comedy, it’s also a horror movie. It’s not gory or graphic or particularly scary to watch, but it is deeply frightening to feel how close we are to this very situation.
I may have enjoyed the concept more than I enjoyed the execution of this film, but damn if it didn’t keep me 100% mentally engaged and 110% emotionally enraged.
Every single character is acting out of love of family and love of country – every single one. But they’re coming at it from such different directions it feels impossible that they should all want the same thing. This is exactly American’s biggest problem right now, and the gap between the sides widens every day. No matter which side of the problem you think you’d come down on yourself, you must admit that in 2019, the most revolutionary act we can commit is one of compassion.
The Oath is a smart, thoughtful movie that I wanted to end only because I couldn’t wait to start talking about it.