9 Years of this Exceptional Blog

This week marks my 9th anniversary as a blogger on this exceptional blog. In that time, WordPress has changed its blogging controls no less than 1,000,000,000 times. Joke’s on them because I never bother learning the updates anyway because I figure by the time I figure it out, they’ll change it.

I kid, I kid. Thank you WordPress for helping my voice reach out to no more and no less than exactly 3.5 readers.

Movie Review – The Greatest Beer Run Ever (2022)

War! Spies! Beer!

BQB here with a review of The Greatest Beer Run Ever.

I’ve got streaming services, 3.5 readers. I’ve got streaming services out the wazoo. No, seriously. Check my wazoo and you’ll see nothing but services streaming out of it.

Apple TV is one of those streaming services and for the most part, I wonder why I bothered to sign up for it in the first place, though occasionally, I find a rare gem like this flick that makes the expense worthwhile.

The premise? It’s the 1960s and merchant marine John “Chickie” Donahue is a wayward bum. Yes, he does work on commercial shipping vessels, but then does nothing but sleep and drink all day during the months between voyages. He and his father disagree on this. Dad calls it sloth. Chickie calls it his downtime, like a professor’s sabbatical.

The Vietnam War is in full swing and every day, there’s news of one of Chickie’s high school friends who died in action. Upset by protesters (his sister is one of them) and negative news coverage, Chickie and his fellow barflies at a dive run by an old WW2 colonel simply called “The Colonel,” (an almost unrecognizable Bill Murray in terms of haircut, voice and demeanor), lament over booze that US soldiers aren’t getting enough support. Press and protesters suck, in their point of view, and while people are lining up to criticize America’s fighting men, no one is doing anything to thank them.

And so, a scheme developed in the mind of a bunch of boozehounds is hatched. The Colonel donates a giant gym bag full of brewskis that Chickie will take to Vietnam, where he will then seek out every one of his enlisted high school classmates and give them a beer and a thank you.

At first, it sounds ridiculous. But then when you realize Chickie has access to commercial shipping vessels, it sounds less ridiculous. Chickie takes a job aboard a cargo ship hauling ammo for the military and for a brief moment you wonder if he can pull it off only to realize there’s an enormous difference between bringing supplies to a port controlled by the US Military and a civilian traipsing around a war zone.

Personally, I wondered why Chickie just didn’t pop the gym bag full of brews down on an ammo crate, shake the hand of one of the soldiers who came to pick it up and tell him to pass the beer out to as many boys as he could. But when it comes to beer, Chickie does nothing half-assed.

I won’t spoil the rest other than to say from thereon, Chickie goes on a whirlwind adventure as a civilian traipsing around wartorn Vietnam. Attacking Vietcong, shady CIA spies, and US military appalled by how stupid anyone could be to come here if they don’t have to are among the many threats that Chickie has to contend with.

At times, the movie feels silly and one wonders how much of it is real and how much of it is embellished for film. Chickie survives by the skin of his teeth through a series of lucky breaks, miracles and misunderstandings (many soldiers help him move around under the false assumption that Chicky and his truthful story of being on a beer run is just a wink, wink, nudge, nudge cover story because the truth, that some idiot from New York thought it would be a good idea to run around a war ravaged country handing out beers, is too unbelievable.

Bonus points for the movie bringing home some serious points about war. On one hand, as the Colonel points out, television has ruined America’s chances of ever winning a war again, for, as he argues, if America had received daily live reports showing the carnage of the Battle of the Bulge, Americans would have demanded an immediate end to WW2 and the Nazis would reign supreme all over the globe today.

On the other hand, Chickie, aided by a warzone correspondent played by Russell Crowe, comes to learn that press and protestors have valid concerns about the war, that there’s no way to win it so to continue to let US soldiers die in a hopeless quagmire is wrong and those who make this argument aren’t trying to hurt the soldiers but rather help them.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. A great performance by Zac Efron as Chickie. There is a book this movie is based on but I haven’t read it yet. I would be curious to know how much of the film is real and what was fictional just to make the movie watchable. If it is all real, then Chickie must have had a guardian angel watching over him during his epic beer run.

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Healthy Eating

Hey 3.5 readers.

Your old pal BQB here.

So, the past several months I have really gotten into healthy eating, such that I have seen a good amount of weight lost. My pants are actually loose and I’m at the point where I’m going to have to buy one size down. Hooray for healthy eating

It’s been a long learning process, and I’m still learning. My entire life, I was a dude who despised vegetables. I can’t say that I love them more than pizza, but I am becoming an adultier adult who understands pizza is bad and all foods like it must be verboten.

I have been trying new things. I bought a spiralizer, a device that you can stick a vegetable into it and it spits out “veggie noodles.” These aren’t really noodles, but a little bit of sauce…well I’d say it tricks you into thinking you’re eating spaghetti but it really doesn’t but cooked in noodle-like strips with a little light sauce is an easier way to get said veggies down.

I also bought a juicer. It’s a small, cheap one and did well for the low price. The good news is I made three little bottles of juice to drink throughout the week. The bad news is it took me all morning and by the time I was done my kitchen looked like a war zone. I am debating whether or not it is worth it and reading that good and bad things about juicing. The good is that it is a way to get those vegetables down. The bad is that it removes the fiber and while veggies don’t have sugar, they do have some, so you’re putting sugar into your body without the fiber that slows it down.

Speaking of sugar, I have learned to treat sugar and carbs as though they were those twin villains, Hitler and Stalin. Whenever I go into a grocery store, I hiss like a vampire when I see the bread aisle and walk away. Whenever I walk past the ice cream section, I entertain a fantasy in my mind to run around and karate punch every single last pint of these evil frozen sugar death traps.

Meanwhile, there was a time, and honestly, that time is still fairly recent, where I was a fast food junkie, such that when I pulled up to the drive-thru, the low paid minimum wage slaves would already know my order and knew me by name and shared their friggin life stories with me cuz holy shit I was at the fast food joints so much they all considered me their fat BFF. Hell, I probably put their kids through college…well, discount community college annex anyway because it’s not the 1970s anymore and a McD’s salary ain’t going to pay for higher education.

BTW, if sugar = Stalin and carbs = Hitler, then soda is definitely Pol Pot. Never heard of him? Oh sorry, your history teacher was probably one of those too hard to fire due to union rules types who just played movies for the class while he napped and fumed about how his wife ran away with the mail man and so cruel was she that she even took the remote, the cuisinart and the dog, Fido.

Pol Pot was a Cambodian psycho who became a commie dictator and convinced his devotees that in order to implement communism, they had to murder everyone who thought earning an honest buck via honest work was a rad idea…but then as violent regimes go, that moved from murdering capitalists to murdering everyone who looked at Pol Pot cock eyed, to anyone who might have thought about doing so, to murdering the guy who keeps leaving the seat up on the toilet, to murdering the guy who put a tin can in the paper only recycling bin, to murdering Grandma for baking stale cookies, and so on. But I’m not here to educate you on the evils of the Khmer Rouge. That’s what that movie “The Killing Fields” is for.

I’m here to tell you why soda is Pol Pot.

According to data I gleamed from the internet but am going to pretend like I figured it all on my own in a science lab, ladies should only eat 24 grams of sugar a day and men should only eat 36 grams of sugar a day. I don’t know the science of how much sugar you should eat if you are a dude who identifies as a lady or a lady who identifies as a dude other than to say that if your bodies don’t allow you to consume the requisite amount of sugar of the gender you identify as then your bodies are bigoted AF.

Long story short, I was in a store the other day and saw a display for, get this, Marshmallow Peep Flavored Pepsi.

Not gonna lie. The old me would have injected that shit straight into my veins. You think I’m joking but I’m serious, y’all. I would have taken that bottle home, spiked it up, then passed out with a record playing that “Hello Darkness My Old Friend” song in the background.

What? No it can’t be played on a phone. It has to be played on an old, scratchy AF record player that was made in 1935 for ambience. I know no questions are stupid, but damn.

OK here’s the kicker. That bottle of Peep Pepsi contain 68 GRAMS OF SUGAR!

And thus it all made sense, like I had suddenly become Neo and learned how to defeat the fat matrix by flipping the fat script and turning the fat rules against its fat self.

Seriously. Sugar = Stalin. Carbs = Hitler. Soda = Pol Pot. Don’t even get me started on Sodium. Sodium is Chairman Mao and if you think I’m being hard on communism and bad food, I am because both only survive on the back of the lie that everyone can do stupid shit forever and everything will be ok, whether it be thinking that people will work and do a good job for no profit or that you can consume a beverage that has 32 more grams of sugar that a dude should be drinking in a day. Ladies, I’m sorry, I didn’t do that math for you because I’m not sexist and I know you can work a calculator like an MF.

Anyway, such has been my journey and I am giving some serious thought to starting a second blog. What? No, I would continue to run this fine blog you’re reading right now. I’m just saying my second blog would be all about healthy eating but with my humorous take on it all.

Let me know what you think in the comments of this fine blog.


Other things I have done in the past few months I never thought I would ever do:

#1 – Eggplant steaks and eggplant fries

#2 – Veggie burgers

#3 – Saying and using the word “Keto” regularly for real and not as a goof.

#4 – Salads, to the point where I bought plastic salad bowls and dressing on the side cups and I make my own to take with me. Yes, always dressing that is low carb and low sugar.

#5 – Veggie burgers…which weren’t horrible.

#6 – Quinoa burgers…which weren’t horrible.

#7 – Quinoa itself which was the worst and I’m rethinking it because I believe it has lots of carbs.

#8 – Kale. So much kale. And spinach.

#9 – Cauliflower. Yeah, I know everyone is trying to pretend it is pizza and mac and cheese but it is not but that’s ok. Keto Ninjas like myself understand the ways of the keto force.

#10 – Not buying a bottle of that Peep Pepsi then using it to wash down a pizza. I used to do crap like that all the time. Imagine how much Stalin/Hitler/Pol Pot/Mao evil was mixed into all of that.

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Movie Review: Antman and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)

Ants! Wasps! Tiny tomfoolery!

BQB here with a review of Marvel’s latest joint.

The good news is that this flick is a special effects extravaganza, a veritable CGI fest for the senses.

The bad news is that only works if you like that sort of thing. Otherwise, it’s a giant, expensive, computer-generated cartoon with people spliced into it. Roger Rabbit on acid, if you prefer.

The plot? The titular Ant-Man aka Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is finally in a good place in life. His ex-con days are behind him. He’s gotten over trauma incurred from past adventures. He’s living his best life with his family, including daughter Cassie (now a teenager) (Kathryn Newton), girlfriend Hope aka the Wasp (Evangeline Lilly), and in-laws Hank (Michael Douglas) and Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer).

Alas, things go awry when budding young scientist Cassie accidentally opens a door to the uber mysterious and creepy Quantum Realm, a world so tiny that it exists right under our proverbial noses but it is so inexplicably tiny that we can’t see it. Can you imagine that? Sub-atomic beings living in a society so small that it is invisible to the naked eye. And yes, opening doors to alternate realms is something that teenage scientists can totally do in the Marvel-verse, so shut up.

Ah, but the Lang/Pym/VanDyne family have mastered the art of shrinking and enlarging themselves, thus simply by shrinking they are able to navigate this treacherous world.

It’s all a matter of perspective. :::pa rum pum pum:::

Upon arrival to the Quantum Realm, the LPVs (boy what a modern blended family with so many different surnames), are tasked with the missions of finding each other, finding a way out and most importantly, defeating Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors), a villain who has, as his name suggests, conquered the Quantum Realm, ruling over its inhabitants with an iron fist and bending their will to his dictatorial reign. Oppressed inhabitants are a hodgepodge of humans and wacky creatures. If Kang escapes, he will wreak havoc across the multiverse.

Some random thoughts:

#1 – We first saw Kang the Conqueror in Disney’s Loki and TBH, I felt that series was so confusing that its good parts were lost on me. Here, things start to make sense. Majors nails the role and is shaping up to be the most formidable villain since Thanos.

#2 – The MODOK (Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing) character is stupid and an example of something that might work in a comic book but just looks very dumb on the big screen. To the film’s credit, the characters opine on how dumb it is early and often. I wonder if it wouldn’t have been better to have just left it out, though that might have enraged true comic book nerds.

#3 – Fun as the CGI adventure is, one of the coolest parts of the Ant-Man series is Ant-Man and company using their shrinking/growing tech to make random objects big or small. In past films, they have carried around a shrunken building on wheels with a suit-case like handle, kept a tank on a keychain just in case they need to make it big and use it against baddies and who could forget the scene where a Hello Kitty Pez dispenser is lobbed at villains during a car chase and grown to a crushing size?

To be fair, there is a lot of growing and shrinking and you need to take a minute to wrap your head around it. The fam were human sized in human world. They shrunk to visit tiny world. In tiny world, everything and everyone is tiny such that everything (because of perspective) seems normal sized. Ergo Ant-Man can shrink or grow and it still looks like he is getting smaller or enormous (even though enormous Ant Man in tiny world would be tiny subatomic not even as big as bacteria to us.)

#4 – It was nice to see everyone come together as a family in this film. We have seen the various characters work together but they really are a fun, fighting family unit in this film.

#5 – I might be the millionth person to offer an opinion on this but I’m not a fan of Evangeline Lilly’s haircut. Actually, I take that back. In one of the Ant-Man promos she was rocking a weird, short yet curly, almost hobbit-like do that should have gotten her hairdresser fired for malpractice, even if Lilly asked for it. There are just some cuts that should be straight up verboten. Here in the movie the short look is fine and I get it. She’s a scientist and a superhero and doesn’t have time to style and blow-dry a long do.

#6 – Has Michelle Pfeiffer made a deal with the devil to look more or less like she looked when she was early 90s Catwoman? Some aging actresses try to fight Father Time with plastic surgery but I don’t see any traces of that here. I don’t know if it’s good genes, a healthy lifestyle or what have you but dayum girl.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. It’s funny how sometimes the most unlikely and humorous characters can carry a series during its downtimes. With Marvel, we come for Captain America and Iron Man and the main Avengers but sometimes the lesser knowns like Ant-Man can be developed into a franchise of their own. I mean, Ant-Man did come up with the solution to save the day in the last Avengers film, after all. Similarly, many of the DC films have been crap, yet Shazam! always seems to leave audiences happy.

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Movie Review – A Futile and Stupid Gesture (2018)

You’ll laugh! You’ll cry!

BQB here with a review of Netflix’s A Futile and Stupid Gesture.

Brace yourself, noble reader.

What if I were to tell you that the man most responsible for the modern state of comedy is a man you most likely have never heard of?

Heck, I’m a comedy lover from way back and I had never heard of the late, great Doug Kenney. As a 1980s kid, I had a vague notion that National Lampoon was a company that made funny movies like Chevy Chase’s Vacation series but until I saw this film I had very little knowledge about how National Lampoon really started it all.

It’s the tale of Doug (Will Forte, perhaps in a role he was born to play) and Henry Beard (Domhnall Gleeson), two 1960s Harvard buddies who had a lot of fun when they were writers/editors for the Harvard Lampoon, Harvard University’s long-running comedy magazine.

When graduation threatens to tear the dynamic duo apart, wacky Doug talks straightlaced Henry into ditching law school (he has been accepted at several top schools) to run to New York to start a comedy magazine, “The National Lampoon” (done by leasing the name rights from Harvard.)

Numerous publishers tell the duo to eat dirt and/or pound sand but all it took was one yes and away they went. After struggling to get the publication off the ground, soon anyone interested in comedy is knocking on their door and their office becomes a veritable who’s who of the 1970s comedy scene, with pretty much every big name you can think of from that era getting their start in those hallowed halls.

Bill Murray. Chevy Chase. Gilda Radner. John Belushi. Christopher Guest. PJ O’Rourke. Harold Ramis. Anne Beatts. Michael O’Donaghue. The list goes on and on, many you have heard of, others you might not have but who were instrumental behind the comedic scenes. All got their start, not at Saturday Night Live as you (and even I) always thought but at National Lampoon.

Doug and Henry become big time successful dudes. While Henry maintains a level-head and handles the business side of things (sadly might be why you might not have heard of him until this movie and don’t worry I hadn’t either), Doug cracks under the pressure. All the deadlines, the demands from the publishing company, having to deal with the talent, working on a magazine and a radio show plus the need to continuously top his last project (always be funnier than your last project or else you lose fans) lead to Doug becoming an emotional wreck.

Alas, Doug falls victim to the twin vices of cocaine and women. He indulges in the white powder liberally, stuffing enough up his nose to kill a horse throughout the film. Though lucky to have a wonderful wife, Alex, he can’t control himself around women. Technically, most men can’t but most men never get the temptation. A comedy all star raking in the dough on the other hand? Too many babes to count. He loses his wife through cheating. He finds a loving girlfriend and just when you think he might have learned the error of his ways, alas, more cheating.

While Doug’s personal life is a wreck, his comedy success is non-stop. Becoming a millionaire from writing jokes would satisfy most people, but Doug is understandably irked when legendary comedy producer Lorne Michaels hires away all of his talent – his writers, his actors, pretty much everyone, to staff a new show you might have heard of, Saturday Night Live, Doug is bummed. To be fair, the movie claims that NBC pitched the idea of a National Lampoon comedy TV show to Doug’s publisher first and said publisher turned it down without Doug’s knowledge.

At any rate, Doug is forlorn from missing out his own opportunity to create TV gold and worse, that someone else spun gold from his yarn. While many would take their money and run at this point, Doug is motivated to go Hollywood and produces Animal House, what was at that time the highest grossing comedy movie ever made, ushering in a new era of raunchy comedy – all basically Doug’s revenge for SNL hiring his talent away.

I could go on but to do so would be a spoiler. Needless to say, the drugs wreck his brain. The loneliness of the cheating on and losing good women lifestyle takes its toll. Ultimately, he is his own worst enemy. While he has plenty to be proud of, he feels constant pressure to always top his last project. If his next project isn’t as funny, then he feels he has failed. Sadly, some family trauma from his youth comes into play, as he strives to be a success in the eyes of his parents but feels he can never please them.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy and I’m surprised it has taken me this long to see it. The film is mostly an homage to Kenny, but also a love letter from today’s comedians to the 1970s heavy hitters who started it all. Various comedic actors play those 1970s legends but to be honest, the film doesn’t really go out of its way to hire actors who look like those legends or at least try to make them up so they look like them. The film makes fun of this and of itself often. The story of an underdog who took a very unlikely project, turned it into a multi-million dollar empire, become filthy rich before he hit 30, got screwed by a greedy corporation only to come out on top with a hit movie of his own, all while dealing with drug and sex addiction…this is the stuff that Oscar films are made of and while the cast does great, I can’t help but think that if Netflix had invested a bit more money into this, they might have won some gold statues and been able to give Doug more of the recognition he deserved.

BONUS POINTS: Doug also made Caddyshack, which he thought was a lackluster sell-out movie, which is sad because I always thought it was very funny. Joel McHale, who starred alongside Chevy Chase in Community, does a decent Chevy Chase impression, though none of the actors really go out of their way to mimic their alter egos and you just have to pay attention to when the movie says who they are.

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TV Review – Yellowstone (2018 – Present) (And the Prequels!)

Stay away from the train station, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of Yellowstone.

I’d heard rumors and mumblings that this show was good but avoided it for a long time. I started watching the first season in drips and drabs in late October/early November, somewhere around there, and at first I was a little bored with it but boy howdy if you stick with it, it really hits its stride by season 2.

The plot? Imagine Bonanza but with lots of murder and guns! My late baby boomer parents were huge fans of Westerns and always had their TV tuned to the Bravo Western channel, so I’m sad they missed out on this series because it is one of the best Westerns Hollywood has cranked out in awhile.

If you have never heard of Bonanza, it was the story of a family, the Cartwrights, who pretty much spent every episode protecting their vast ranch from being raided and stolen by a whole host of evildoers. But that show came out when, the 60s? So it was rather tame compared to today’s television.

Yellowstone follows the Dutton family and their multigenerational, longstanding quest to stop a constant onslaught from a seemingly neverending enemies from absconding with their cattle ranch. Seedy developers, crooked gas station casino operators, evil corporations and assorted criminals all want to get their mitts on the land.

In the villains’ defense, the Dutton ranch is said to be enormous, taking up a large part of the state of Montana and is so big it could be considered a state all by itself. Occasionally one of the so-called villains makes a legit point, i.e. why should one family control that much land when no one else is making anymore? The very future of Montana is at stake in that some want the land developed to build houses and businesses and bring more income and housing to the state. Others argue the last is best preserved in the Duttons’ hands as Montana is one of the last few bastions of undeveloped wilderness America has left.

John Dutton (Kevin Costner) is the defiant, stone-faced, tough as nails patriarch of the clan, the latest in a long line of Dutton patriarchs who have been tasked with the job of defending the ranch from villains who want it. Perhaps time is the greatest villain of all, for as we learn, privately owned family ranches and farms are becoming less and less profitable whereas the quickest path toward boku buckaroos is to sell and or develop land.

Hell, John’s adult kids even think maybe the best way to preserve the family legacy isn’t to hold onto the land but to liquidate it so as to preserve the family cash. If you thought your family was dysfunctional, the Dutton family includes Beth (Kelly Reilly) a constantly drunk, openly promiscuous, foul mouthed trainwreck yet somehow still functional to be a stock broker/corporate raider who knows how to use finance as a weapon to wield against the family enemies.

Her nemesis is brother Jamie (Wes Bentley), a Harvard educated lawyer who is highly skilled at using the law to thwart those who want the ranch.

Ah but while Beth and Jamie use finance and the law as weapons, John’s other son Kayce (Luke Grimes), a battle hardened army veteran and John’s ranch foreman/practically adopted son/eventual son in law/Beth’s love interest turned husband Rip (Cole Hauser) use actual weapons to dispatch of the various would be land grabbers who can’t be easily gotten rid of through Beth’s stock manipulations or Jamie’s lawsuits.

Sounds like a large ensemble cast? But wait…there’s more!

Gil Birmingham plays Chief Rainwater, one of the Dutton clan’s most admirable rivals and make no mistake, while there are a lot of scumbags who want the land, there are just as many decent folk with a good argument that the Duttons are, in fact, the ones who are the scumbags. At the top of the list is the Chief and his tribe, who once owned the land now known as the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. While his ancestors tried but failed to keep the land with bows and arrows, Rainwater is on a quest to take back the ranch using his own lawyers, financiers, casino revenue and his Harvard business education. Rainwater is a sometimes frenemy of John Dutton because on occasion, they team up against a scumbag who wants to turn the ranch into an airport or housing or shopping or other developments and Rainwater at least knows that Dutton shares his belief in keeping the land preserved and pristine, though Rainwater does want it back in the hands of the tribe. Rainwater finds help in a whole cast of tribal members as well as challenges from tribesmen and women who want to take over his post because they think they can do a better job of fighting the Duttons.

I could go on and on because the show really is that epic, grand and sweeping in size. Various subplots ensue, each as intriguing as the main plots. The Dutton ranch is run by a large contingent of cowboys (and some cowgirls), many of whom have taken a mafia-esque oath (and literal branding) of loyalty i.e. that they agree to do any dirty job, no matter how evil or illegal, to protect the ranch and in exchange, the Duttons promise they will always have a roof over their heads and a job.

Wow. That’s a lot, right?

But wait! There’s even more!

There are two prequel shows and honestly, the first, 1883, is one of the best Westerns (taking place in the old west and not today) that I have seen in many years.

1883 is all about the Oregon Trail and on the off chance you get to travel back in time and are offered the opportunity to ride the Oregon Trail, please decline, for it was the absolute worst. No other book, show, movie, or yes even the popular video game from my youth has convinced me more that the Oregon Trail sucked so, so much dirty ass.

This prequel follows a very early branch of the Dutton family tree as they make their way west on the trail in the hopes of claiming free land, the thought that the land already belonged to the natives being oblivious to the white pioneers at the time.

Real life married couple/country music stars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill play James and Margaret Dutton who go west with children Elsa and John (Isabel May and Audie Rick.) The show is largely Elsa-centric as she narrates and comes of age on the trail, makes decisions, falls in love, drives cattle, fights off bandits, befriends some natives and fights others. When I watched, I made the joke that Elsa is the 1800s equivalent of the modern college kid who goes off to college then comes home for Thanksgiving freshmen year to inform his/her parents that they know more than the parents do. Elsa falls for a cowboy and suddenly becomes a cattle driver. She falls of a native and is suddenly a native clothing wearing, bow and arrow shooting warrior princess. You get the picture.

Sam Elliot and Lamonica Garrett star as Shea and Thomas, a civil war captain and one of his soldiers, now in the Pinkerton business. A group of German refugees hire them to guide them across the trail and the Duttons tag along. Sam steals the show, lamenting how ill suited the Germans are for the mission (yet somehow this doesn’t stop him from taking the money) and sure enough, sadness, hardship and death are constant companions. In this undeveloped wild country, the body count gets higher and higher with each episode as pioneers fall victim to bandit attacks, native attacks, snake bites, critter bites, some become large animal lunch, disease, bad water, weather, tornados, cold, I mean seriously, holy shit, the Oregon trail really was the worst.

But if 1883 is the story of how the Duttons found the Yellowstone Ranch (found being a misnomer because as the show explains, the natives were already there), then 1923 is the story of an early brutal war to defend it. Harrison Ford and Ellen Mirren star as Jacob and Cara Dutton, the patriarch and matriarch of the early 1900s Duttons. This one just began around the holiday season so I wont give too much away other than to say it pits the Duttons against Timothy Dalton and Jerome Flynn (the first of James Bond fame, the second of Game of Thrones fame), a rival rancher and a rich tycoon who want the land and frankly, like many throughout history, think the Duttons are totally bogarting way too much land. There’s a whole cast of adult Duttons in this generation but the most interesting thus far is Spencer (Brandon Sklenar), a WWI veteran who travels Africa as a big game hunter, too haunted by his war memories to come home but must to help the family protect the ranch.

STATUS: Shelfworthy. So very shelfworthy. Creator Taylor Sheridan (he has a part in the modern Yellowstone as a horse trainer) is the behind the camera star of the series. You might remember him as the police chief on Sons of Anarchy. He really created a whole world here. You wouldn’t think a show about Montana land rights and politics would be that interesting but it is.

Admittedly, at times the show is “a bit much.” Especially in the modern version, it is hard to believe that if so many body bags were being filled in all out war and bloody gunfights over a ranch, that the President wouldn’t declare martial law and take the land over but like many shows, suspension of disbelief is required. You’ll also need to suspend a lot of disbelief over Beth, who literally smokes and drinks enough to bring down a bull elephant every day, yet somehow is able to be a high functioning business woman.

But if you can get past the “bit muchness,” the show is a real hoot and very bingeable. If you have cable, then you should be able to get a free Peacock subscription which will let you watch the first four seasons. At this time, and at least in my understanding, you’ll need the Paramount Network to watch season 5. Not sure of other routes to the prequels though I watched them on Paramount Plus.

SIDENOTE: A year ago I thought Paramount Plus was very silly. Today I’m glad I bought a subscription because with Yellowstone, Tulsa King and a few other shows (there’s a werewolf show with Buffy actress Sarah Michelle Gellar I want to watch but haven’t yet), I think PP is poised to become what Netflix was 10 years ago and HBO was 20 years ago. Netflix and HBO Max, IMO are getting too deep into that hyper woke, devise a movie/show by committee to make everyone happy but skimp on the plot trend while Paramount is making shows for adults who want gritty drama.

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Movie Review – You People (2023)

Meh, it’s ok.

But honestly, when I first heard about it, I wanted to love it, given the cast of famously funny people, but I’ll give it a solid C. Not a total waste of time but not something I’d rush to watch again either.

Let’s get to the review.

In a modern re-telling of Sidney Poitier’s classic film “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” Jonah Hill plays Ezra, a stockbroker who hates his job and yearns to podcast full time with his buddy Mo (Sam Jay.) An Uber mishap brings him together with Amira (Lauren London) and the duo fall in love.

Six months later, the kids are ready to get married but alas, they have to navigate the waters filled with their wacky in-laws. Sounds like a typical rom-com in which the protagonist couple is getting married.

Eh, but then the waters get choppy. Julia Louis Dreyfus, she of Elaine on Seinfeld fame, plays Ezra’s mother as a walking, talking, living parody of liberal white guilt, constantly showing off her perspective African American daughter in law to friends and family as though she has won a “See?! My Black Daughter in Law is Total Proof that I’m Not Racist!” trophy. Ezra’s Dad, played by David Duchovny, he of X-Files fame, attempts politeness only to drone on and on in his first meeting with Amara about what a fan he has always been of the rapper Xzibit, culminating in him cluelessly asking if she has ever met him.

Meanwhile, Amara’s parents, Akbar and Fatima (Eddie Murphy and Nia Long) are devout Muslims and no fans of Ezra. They are, however, huge fans of Louis Farrakhan, culminating in a clash with Julia over Farrakhan’s controversial remarks about the Jewish people. I think this scene was intended to be funny but it is a bit cringe, IMO. Akbar later invites Ezra on a series of escapades designed to trip him up and prove his lack of worth as a future husband and son-in-law.

The shenanigans culminate in the happy couple splitting up, deciding that their cultural differences are too great to get around. Somehow, it’s up to Julia and Eddie to come together and find a wake to fix what they broke with their parental meddling and make their kids happy again.

On one hand, there are some good messages. The first is a tale as old as time in many a flick, namely, that at some point in your adult life, if you’re ever going to become an adult yourself, you have to tell your meddling parents to stick a cork in it and back off. This could have been a chance for the film to show how despite our cultural differences, parents trying to run their kids’ lives well into the kids’ adulthood often occurs. Parents of all different backgrounds love their kids, think they know what the right path is for their kids, but don’t always understand what their kids are going through, what their kids want, that sometimes they just need to chill out and if they are right and the kid is indeed making a mistake, then the kid needs to fall flat on their face and pick him/herself up and learn the lesson on their own. Then again, maybe what they are doing is the right move for them even if it isn’t what makes the parent happy.

On the other hand, the film takes the Netflixian hype woke approach of demanding that everyone be constantly, and I mean CONSTANTLY aware of racial differences at every turn. And look, I’m not saying that such awareness is a bad thing. It’s a good thing but holy smokes, I spent the whole film waiting for the part where the Ezra’s and Amari’s fams figure out that they’re more alike than they are different, that they all just want the best for their kids, that the more time they spend together, the more they’ll start to trust and respect one another.

Maybe I just didn’t get it but the film almost comes across as arguing that interracial marriage sets up such a difficult minefield – that the black half of the couple must keep their head on a swivel, constantly on the lookout for oppression from their white love interest, and said white half of the couple must constantly walk on eggshells, as any comment, any mistake, any foot in mouth moment will be taken as a horrendous offense, as if black people aren’t able to tell the difference between true racism and someone who said something boneheaded but they still love them.

In other words, it almost comes across as saying that interracial marriages are too much work, too filled with hostility, destined to fail because neither side could ever possibly understand the other. Honestly, I can’t say I understand that because I’ve never been in a racial marriage but of all the interracial couples I know, I don’t get the impression that they spend all day tip toing around with their words, making sure the other understands that their words and actions should not be misconstrued as racial offenses. They just seem to love, respect and get each other, as all healthy, happy couples do.

SIDENOTE: Eddie Murphy, one of the GOATS of comedy, in a role where he barely cracks a smile and is given nary a funny line. Julia Louis Dreyfus, one of the greatest sitcom funny ladies of the 1990s also in an unfunny role. Jonah Hill, one of the funnier actors in modern times…so many funny people in a movie that’s about as funny as watching paint dry.

STATUS: Borderline shelf-worthy. To be fair, there are a few good one liners. Ironically, David Duchovny, the one actor in the cast known for having a dramatic, not funny resume, rattles off some of the flick’s best hits, at one point schooling Amari’s parents about how his wife is so not racist that she hated “Gone with the Wind” long before white people became aware that they were supposed to.

It had the potential to be good but all in all, I don’t get the idea of a streaming service that casts practically every couple in their movies and TV shows as interracial making a movie that paints interracial marriage as an arduous chore such that both parties must spend every waking moment worrying about how their actions might be misinterpreted by the other, how they might accidentally offend the other, how it’s all too difficult to bother with…eh…I just…it had the potential to be moving and funny but I have to agree with the majority of critics who call this flick too heavy handed. It took a jump but just didn’t quite land the dismount.

Still worth a watch but not something I’d watch again and again. We live in America folks. Love is love and life is short and in a country where people of so many different races, religions, ethnicities, backgrounds all live so close to one another, interracial, inter-religious, inter-this or that marriage happens all the time. It’s not a bad thing and it shouldn’t be seen as an arduous chore.

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Movie Review – M3Gan (2023)

Movie over, Chucky. You’ve got competition.

BQB here with a review of the latest killer doll movie.

When I saw the trailer for this movie late last year, I thought it looked stupid. In fact, when the trailer said it was coming out the first week in January I thought, “Yeah this seems about right for a January movie.” January, after all, is a notorious dumping ground for Hollywood’s worst schlock. All the kids have gone back to school. All the adults have gone back to work. Everyone is focused on getting the new year started and only a handful of brave cinephiles are willing to go to the theaters so early in the year.

But then the reviews came in. All positive. Suddenly “Megan” was popping up everywhere. After a Megan sketch on Jimmy Fallon, followed by a Megan sketch on SNL, I said OK, I need to see what all the hullabaloo is about, so I sucked it up and paid the $20 rental fee to watch it on my TV.

#1 – It is better than expected and deserved more of a March placement than its January parking spot.

#2 – It is not as good as the hype suggests but few hyped up movies ever live up to the hype. It’s a decent flick but not really the gamechanger that all the latest pop cultural homages would suggest.

The plot? Gemma (Allison Williams who, no matter what she does, how many Oscars she wins, how many breakout roles she snags, will forever be known as the chick who got her butt eaten on the HBO series Girls) plays Gemma, a robot scientist employed by a toy company, under intense pressure by her dickish boss David (Ronny Cheng) to develop a toy robot that will rake in boku buck-a-roos.

Gemma’s been working on M3gan, a creepily close to real life child’s doll for years, but the company wants her to focus her energy on a cheapy, easy to produce furry little line of toys that say silly things and make fart noises. Kids do love fart noises after all.

Blah blah blah. Gemma cuts some corners and rushes her M3gan bot out believing it is the big thing that will make her career. Coincidentally, her niece Cady (Violet McGraw) ends up in her care when her parents die just in time for her to become a test playmate for M3gan.

At first, M3gan seems like a real winner – i.e. the friend that every kid wants. The friend that has your back no matter what, always plays the games you want to play, doesn’t make fun of you, doesn’t gossip about you and always stands up for you.

Eh, but the problem is that the Megster takes her duty to protect Cady way too seriously. Suddenly, everyone who so much as looks at Cady cross-eyed ends up deep-sixed and slowly but surely, Gemma suspects her creation is to blame.

It’s fun. It’s a good time. For me, it was worth the 20 dollar rental but then again, I did make a whopping 36 bucks in self published novel sales last year, so I can totes afford a superfluous movie rental. If you’re asking me if it is worth a rental or a trip to the theater, I’d say yes but eh, I could also say it’s not quite up to the hype so feel free to wait till it is on your favorite streamer.

Personally, I think the film’s chief villain is not Megan but the PG-13 rating. I have a hunch that Hollywood was trying to make a movie that would largely appeal to the teenage Tik Tok crowd. The trailer was full of wacky Megan dances and other scenes that are popular on social media but don’t play that large of a role in the actual movie itself. The PG 13 rating hooked a youthful audience but alas, fans of gory horror will be disappointed because the rating prevents Megan from racking up a high kill count, and her methods are far less bloody.

In other words, Chucky’s crown as the murderous doll who spouts off swear laden jokes while he savagely murders his prey in the most horrific, disgusting, deranged and yes, sadly, often humorous ways, is safe. Megan just doesn’t have a chance at dethroning the Chuckster until Hollywood is willing to let her have an R rating.

(SIDNOTE: Maybe it is because I am seeing this movie as an adult whereas I first saw Chucky as a kid but Chucky is just way scarier to me. Chucky is a serial killer who put his soul into a doll via voodoo after being shot by the police while on the run and now his goal is to kidnap a kid and put his soul into the kid so he can be alive again. Also he is a sadistic serial killer so he delights in murder. Meanwhile, Megan is more of a malfunctioning appliance. You just wonder why someone doesn’t just smack her with a baseball bat and throw her in a closet until the repairman stops by.)

(DOUBLE SIDENOTE: The film did a good job of bringing Megan to life. They could have relied solely on CGI and it would have been just a glorified, cheesy cartoon. Though I am not a filmmaker so I don’t know for sure, I get the impression that they used a combination of CGI, puppetry, and a kid actor in a Megan costume to provide a more realistic approach.)

(TRIPLE SIDENOTE: As old folks who saw the original Child’s Play when it came out will tell you, the scares came not at first from Chucky but from the mystery/suspense. Throughout the flick, there’s a question of whether Chucky is really killing everyone or perhaps it is coincidence or maybe Andy is a homicidal little psychopath but then when the scene comes where Andy’s mother threatens to throw Chucky into a fire if he doesn’t reveal himself and he does, coming out of the gate swearing and stabbing, holy crap, you really want to crap your pants. Here, you pretty much know from the start the doll will be a killer.)

(QUADRUPLE SIDENOTE: Whereas Chucky meant to do his kid buddy Andy harm, Megan wants to do harm to everyone who might, and I stress a big might, do her BFF Cady harm. So in a way, she’s somewhat of a noble killer doll in that she’s trying to protect her kid pal, though her programming doesn’t understand nuance or morality or the Christian concept of turning the other cheek or that if everyone murdered everyone who slightly offended them, the entire world would be dead. There is an underlying lesson about absentee parenting i.e. Aunt Gemma sways back and forth between seeing Cady as a blessing and a burden, the joy of having a child vs. the cramp it puts in her career goals. Megan is less of a kid bot and more of a killer Mama Bear in a kid bot’s body and even makes the case to Gemma that you can be a superstar at your job, or you can be a parent, but rare is the person that can do both, so you have to decide early in life whether you want to be a parent or have an impressive career because rare is the person who can pull off both.)

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Storywise, there’s a lot to ponder here. We all long for a true friend, but ultimately, we want the perfect friend, the friend who knows exactly what we want and caters to our every whim and says and does the right thing at all times. Such perfection only comes with silicone and micro-chips. Alas, if we can accept our imperfections and the imperfections of others, there are plenty of friends out there to be had. Even so, you have to learn to understand your best friend is yourself, so try to be a better friend to yourself, because I don’t know about you, but for most people, the number of friends who are there for you through thick and thin can be counted on the fingers on your left hand if you’re lucky.

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Movie Review – Shotgun Wedding (2023)

Guns! Violence! Nuptials!

BQB here with a review of J-Lo’s rom-com action flick, Shotgun Wedding.

Two observations at the outset:

#1 – It was a rather disappointing, lackluster holiday season when it came to movies. Usually, Hollywood brings their A-game during the holidays, but nothing really seemed worthy to go to the theater (I thought the first Avatar was overrated so I wasn’t going to sit through 3 hours of the second) and usually the streaming services put out a holiday blockbuster or two but nothing drew me in, so my viewing low these past few months has been lackluster. (The good news is I discovered Yellowstone but more on that in a future post.

#2 – Most streaming movies have turned into hot crap on a stick. In the beginning, Netflix brought a lot of good stuff but then over the years, it became weaker and more formulaic than network television. Show after show that looks like it was designed by a committee of people who are going out of their way to not offend anyone. Either that or they pay big money for stars then save on the writing. IMO, Amazon has been the worst offender as much of their schlock is unwatchable. Ergo, when Amazon makes a good movie like this, it’s almost like I can’t help patting them on the head and giving them a cookie for an unexpected job well down.

Onto the review.

Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel play Darcy and Tom, a couple about to get married in a luxury resort in the Philippines. J-Lo has either discovered the fountain of youth and is keeping its location a secret from the rest of us, or she works out like a monkey on crack and has literally never ingested a carb or sugar in her life, or a combination of the two. Meanwhile, Josh looks more his age but that’s ok because he’s still a handsome SOB.

I complained about this in my review of Ticket to Paradise and I’ll do it again. Apparently there’s a new trend for aging stars in their 50s to pretend to be 40 and I resent that because I’m in my 40s and I remember seeing all these people in movies when I was a teenager. Just embrace your age, stars. No one cares if you’re playing people who get married in their 50s. People find love when they find love.

I will admit though that J-Lo is well preserved enough to pass for 40. Bonus points as the film gives us some gratuitous shots of her infamous tushy, which is a national treasure unto itself. J-Lo’s booty really should be put on display in the Smithsonian.

Moving on.

Typical rom-com fare. The couple fights on the eve of their wedding, bringing up absurd, nonsensical fears as to why the relationship might not work. The in-laws do not get along. Darcy/J’Lo’s father, played by 70’s pot comedy icon Cheech Marin, is super rich and complains that the resort is a dump and he could have thrown a better wedding if the kids had taken his money. Tom’s mother, played by Jennifer Coolidge, is a mother hen who smothers yet embarrasses everyone.

Sidenote – Jennifer Coolidge is really running victory laps around Hollywood lately. Between this movie, the Watcher, and the White Lotus, she must be making bank, always playing more or less the same character i.e. the old lady with a dirty mind and says naughty things. Irony is I don’t think J-Cool is old enough to be Duhamel’s mother. More like his older sister at best, but again this is Hollywood and no one wants to admit their real ages.

Long story short? OK. When a squad of pirates attack the resort, looking to hold the wedding party hostage in exchange for ransom, it is up to Tom, Darcy and the in-laws to set their comedic bickering aside and save the day, kicking pirate booty in fun action scenes, each more outlandish than the next.

Will it win Oscars? No. Will you remember it a year from now? Maybe, but not really in a OMG that movie was so good way but more in a that movie was fun but now that I have seen it I can put it on to entertain me while I clean my house sort of way. There are lots of pretty colors, kick-ass explosions, the occasional lesson about how marriage and romance is a commitment and you take the good with the bad.

J-Lo really is one of the last true movie stars, beautiful as she is charming. To her credit, it is funny when someone so beautiful rolls around in the muck, gets her hands dirty, is put into comedic situations and made to say silly things. I don’t think one of her middle-aged competitor beauties, say, the illustrious Angelina Jolie, could score as many laughs in a rom com. Pop culture historians such as myself will remind you that J-Lo’s early days were spent dancing on the set of In Living Color, so I doubt one can spend that much time with the Wayans Brothers without some of the funny rubbing off onto them, and the early flicks that made her uber famous were rom-coms. She was a rom-com staple in the late 90s/early 00s so she’s going back to her roots here, but now with action.

Oh and rock star Lenny Kravitz puts down his guitar to stop by as Darcy’s old flame, invited to the wedding by Cheech – there’s a whole subplot about how Cheech likes Lenny more and wishes Darcy were marrying him instead. Sigh. Those pesky in-laws.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy. Amazon hits a home run here but I have to admit sometimes I wonder if a subscription service that at best, wows me with one, maybe two movies tops per year is worth it.

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Happy New Year!

Happy new year, beloved 3.5 readers.

I hope there is still 3.5 of you after my holiday hiatus.

I took most of December and January off from bloggery but I am back. I took some time out in December to work on health and life improvement. I did great in December. Hit a bit of a wall in January but still doing better than usual. Here’s to making February much, much better. I’m doing that thing where I make an effort to think about how lousy I felt this past Christmas about all my problems, how next Christmas is but a year away (actually only about 11 months now) and how much better I’ll feel at the end of this year if I put in the work and sacrifice short term gratification in the name of long term gains at the end of this year.

Hate to say it but when I get in that self-improvement zone, blogging and social media tend to go because I start to think, really, what does my opinion matter? Why am I wasting time shouting my meaningless opinion into the void with no credit to back it up?

But in nearly 9 years of bloggery, I haven’t let one month go by without posting at least once, so here’s my January post.

What is new with you, 3.5 readers?