Tag Archives: netflix

Movie Review – Triple Frontier (2019)

Money is the root of all evil, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of Triple Frontier.

This is a first for Netflix – an action film that’s worthy of a movie theater, with a cast of big names – Oscar Isaac, Pablo Pascal, Garret Hedlund, Charlie Hunnam and Ben Affleck being one of the bigger names that everyone’s favorite streaming service has landed in recent memory.

It’s clear Netflix wants to take a big bite out of the traditional movie theater to rental to cable station pipeline most movies go through, and if they keep it up, they’ll get their.  Hollywood big shots might just be shaking in their boots over movies like this.

The plot?  Santiago (Isaac) is still in the field, while his former special forces buddies are all long retired and struggling to make ends meet.  There’s a powerful message in there where one of the ex-soldiers says something like (I’ll botch the line, sorry) “If we had accomplished what we did in any other profession, we’d be set for life by now, but no, this man can’t even afford to send his kid to college.”

Some truth there and if any politicians happen to be listening – yeah.  Definitely.  War is something the majority of us just can’t or won’t do and the people who do it should be taken care of.

Anyway.  Santiago identifies a big score – a secluded house where a drug cartel keeps its money, located in the Amazon jungle where three countries meet – Peru, Columbia and Brazil.  No cops, no military to deal with so it should be an easy gig.  Use their skills to help themselves for once and live like kings.

From here, (SPOILER ALERT) the movie gets silly, which is a shame because they’re playing it straight.  The trek across the Andes mountains to a new life proves more dangerous than previously anticipated, and a combination of bad decisions, infighting and downright greed proves to make matters so much worse.

It’s almost comical how much of the cold, hard cash gets lost along the way – (SPOILERS) – falling out of a chopper, falling off a ledge while attached to a donkey, burnt for warmth, tossed into a ravine and so on.  At some point, it gets absurd.  I mean, I’m the furthest thing from a special ops soldier but in that predicament, I would just grab as much money as I could carry and then bury the rest in a safe location to return to once the heat dies down.

But I suppose the money serves as a metaphor for how greed complicates our lives and turns us into monsters.

Ben Affleck is good in this.  For a moment I actually bought that he was an entirely different person, i.e. a depressed loser dad seeking redemption through ill gotten loot.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Good start.  Silly though entertaining middle.  Admirable though unlikely ending.  Netflix is really stealing big cinema’s thunder.

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A Look at the First Episode of The Umbrella Academy

Hey 3.5 readers.

BQB here.

I just watched the first episode of Umbrella Academy.  If you’ve watched more, I’d thank you to not give away any spoilers.  I will eventually return to this fine blog to discuss the first season.

My initial impression is its great.  Before I saw it, I scoffed for a number of reasons.

  1. Anything with too many characters tends to be a mess.  There’s like 7 main characters here plus supporting characters.  Seems destined to be a pot of gumbo where everyone gets lost in the steam, but somehow, everyone gets their moment to shine.
  2. Movies about long established heroes are great.  Movies about new superheroes tend to stink.  I’ll give this show credit though.  It is based on a Dark Horse Comic so perhaps if newer heroes have a chance to percolate in comics first, then they’ll shine on the screen.
  3. It reminded me of Watchmen, which everyone said was genius but I thought stunk.  Again, a bunch of heroes you hadn’t heard of before, all thrown at us at once, each getting less than five minutes to show their power.  Somehow that was lame but this looks good.

The plot thus far is that in 1989, 40 (I think that’s the number) children were born immaculately on one day.  The mothers had not been pregnant previously.  The kids just popped out unexpectedly.

An eccentric, reclusive billionaire with a penchant for collecting exotic things adopts 7 of these kids.  He starts a school for superheroes in his house, training his new wards to use their powers.

His methods turn the kids into (mostly) powerful grownups.  Some have gone on to do great things.  Others flounder and fail.  All blame their problems on their father’s cold, uncaring aloofness.  The only source of love the children ever had was their father’s robot wife and monkey butler.

By the way, is there something wrong with me that I think it would be awesome to have a robot wife and monkey butler?  Thus far, there has been little explanation as to how the robot wife and monkey butler came to be but I’ll keep my fingers crossed for more on that in future episodes.  Ironically, in a series with 7 heroes, the robot wife and monkey butler pique my interest the most.

Not that the heroes are slouches.  Overall, the first episode was cinematic.  Lots of cool fights and special effects.  Cinematic quality.  Had this been laid out in a movie that I paid money to see, I would have walked away happy.

Netflix really upped their game here.  I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve watched the first season but so far, I am impressed and willing to watch more.

STATUS; Shelf-worthy.

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TV Review – Russian Doll (2019)

Everlasting snark…day after day after day.

BQB here with a review of the Netflix series Russian Doll. (SPOILERS ABOUND)

I have to say it, 3.5 readers.  When I was a kid, there were a ton of TV shows and movies were single adults partied hard and lived fabulous, interesting, adventurous lives well into their forties.

Lies.  All lies, I say!  This lifestyle may work for a handful of ultra rich, ridiculously good looking people but for the rest of us normals, your best bet is to find someone you can stand being in the same room with before you hit 30, maybe 35 at the latest.

At first, from the opening scenes I thought this show was celebrating that lifestyle but in reality, it is far from it.  I’m not saying that 30 plus single people should be dumped on, I’m just saying there’s a certain point in time when you’re just too long in the tooth for the jet set crowd.

Natasha Lyonne’s Nadia has just turned 36 and her BFF, Maxine (Greta Lee) has thrown her a much undesired birthday party.  Now over 35, Nadia must come to terms with a fact that she has long been avoiding – she isn’t going to live forever.  She must find her happiness and yet, how does a misanthropic cynic who, with a dry wit and dark sense of humor, manages to openly mock everything and anything in life with great gusto find some sort of meaningful purpose in life?

Long story short,  Nadia dies.  Again and again and again.  Sometimes in scary ways.  Sometimes in hilarious ways.  To put a chill in your shorts, many of the deaths (falling down a flight of stairs, accidental electrocution, gas leak) are all things that could easily happen to any of us at any time if we aren’t careful.  When you think about it, it’s amazing that we all don’t croak again and again, what with our bodies being so fragile and all.

My early assessment was wrong.  This isn’t a show that glorifies the post 35 single life.  It doesn’t dump on it either.  Equal time is given to the fact that people who act like posers and social climbers after 35 are lame, but also, to the fact that not everyone finds love easily and sometimes love and/or happiness doesn’t come easily for everyone and that doesn’t make those people bad either.

This is Natasha Lyonne’s magnum opus, her Mona Lisa and her piece de resistance all wrapped up into one.  From the time she hit it big as Jessica, one of the funnier yet more street smart teens in 1999’s American Pie, audiences have gotten the sense that Natasha excels at playing jaded ball breakers whose fast talking, cynical facades mask deeper pain that few could handle, yet manage to joke about…all with a dose of Jewish guilt mixed in.

In recent years, her character on Orange is the New Black has cemented her status as this archetype and in Russian Doll, I get the impression, at least IMO, that Natasha is trying to say, “This is me.  This is who I am.  I’m troubled.  I carry around a lot of pain but I deal with it by tossing out a snappy one-liner that will kick you in the nuts.  You’ll get mad for a second until you realize that my assessment of you is correct and then you’ll laugh as you nurse your nuts back to health.  Oddly, you’ll find me so charming that you’ll come back for more, which is confusing, because I’m as cuddly as feral cat yet strangely, someone you can lean on, like a loyal puppy.  Although, I will bark at you.”

Was she trying to say all that?  I don’t know.  That’s what I got out of it anyway.

The repeated loop genre seems like it has been done to death, with Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day being, to the best of my knowledge, the first to tackle the idea of someone who has to repeat a day over and over.  Other films and shows have put their own spin on it.  Hell, this week, “Happy Death Day” releases the second in a series of films about a girl who gets murdered again and again only to wake up and get murdered again.

Creative?  Sure.  Overdone? Yes.

So why should you watch this addition to an overdone premise?  Well, it’s different.  Easy to say but it really is.

First, much of the series is devoted to the what of it all.  I.E. most of these films focus on something the looped character must do to make the loop stop.  This series spends a lot of time trying to figure out the why of it all…or better yet, the how of it all.  How the heck is this happening?  Nadia plays junior detective, investigating a number of theories – for example, maybe it’s spiritual energy in Maxine’s apartment caused by it being located on a former Yeshiva school, drawing her back to the same place at the same time after each untimely demise.  Hallucinations brought upon by a ketamine laced joint are another possibility.

Other theories are researched and personally, I’m torn as to whether or not the ending gives justice to the how of it.  I can see an argument for and against vis a vis whether it explained the how, but at any rate, the show does eventually make a shift from the how to the what, as in, what does Nadia need to do to make all this craziness stop?

The show is also different in that Nadia has a partner in crime.  While Nadia keeps returning to her birthday party, Alan (Charlie Barnett) gets it much worse.  He must continually return to the most unwanted of situations, reliving a scene where his girlfriend reveals that she has been cheating on him.

Eventually, Nadia and Alan meet and they must solve this mystery together.  Nadia might be cynical but at least she has somewhat of a can-do spirit.  Alan is deeply morose, ready to curl up in a corner and cry over the slightest of obstacles.  One’s a fighter and the other’s a sad sack.  Somehow they balance each other out and whether or not they resolve this never ending loop is a question I’ll let you answer when you watch it.

Stop by sometime and discuss the ending with me.  Those who haven’t watched it yet, just avoid that discussion until you do.  I think it is a great ending, not what I expected and it is rather complicated.  The show trusts you to use your brain to figure it out and doesn’t spoon feed it to you, that’s for sure.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Not sure I see it lasting more than one season.  It’s binge-worthy but I think to do a second season would be to spoil it.  Sometimes all a show needs to say can be summed up in one outing and this show is that.  Kudos to Lyonne for baring her soul for us Looky Lou’s to pick over and analyze, and for Netflix for letting her do it.  This isn’t the traditional kind of show that network TV would go for, and probably wouldn’t exist at any time other than this streaming golden age.  Also, to producer Amy Poehler.  She doesn’t star in this but by backing it, she steps out of her usual comfort zone of upbeat, silly comedy and into the world of dry, dark comedy.  Just don’t get sucked in too far, Amy.  The world still needs plenty of kindhearted Leslie Knopes, just as it needs Nadias to dump on them.

 

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Movie Review – Win It All (2017)

Life’s just one big gamble, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of Netflix’s “Win It All.”

I caught this film by accident, scrolling through Netflix’s never-ending list of offerings when all of a sudden, the premise just appealed to me.  It’s simple and from a writer’s perspective, simple is good.  Simple isn’t necessarily easy but sometimes simple doesn’t need you to keep a variety of plates spinning in the air the way more complex films do.

Eddie (Jake Johnson) is a down on his luck, degenerate gambler.  His only source of income comes from his lowly job as a parking lot attendant (but only when the Cubs are doing well and fans need spillover parking.)

Addict that he is, his life is in a downward spiral, largely because whatever money he is lucky enough to get his hands on, he immediately takes it to an underground casino club to gamble it all away.

On one fateful night, a rather scary looking loan shark who Eddie has tangled with in the past makes an offer.  He’s been sentenced to relatively short prison sentence and wants Eddie to hold onto a bag of money, no questions asked.  Keep the dough safe and at the end of the bid, 9 months to a year tops, the crook will reward Eddie with 10,000 bucks.

I know.  It is a rather gaping plot hole that anyone would trust a degenerate gambler with any sum of money, but then again, the loan shark may not have a large number of trustworthy people to turn to and frankly, his menacing appearance would be enough for most people to avoid screwing with him but alas, Eddie’s addiction is that severe.

Long story short, Eddie gambles away a large chunk of ill-gotten loot, and as you might imagine, the rest of the film circles around Eddie’s various attempts to get himself out of hot water.

The middle of the film has a nice message.  SPOILER ALERT, at that point, Eddie has lost a large sum yet it isn’t an insurmountable amount.  He works out a deal with his brother to take a job with the family landscaping business, and he devotes as much as he can from each paycheck towards refilling the bag of money.

In doing so, Eddie starts to feel good about himself.  He’s doing productive work.  He’s achieving goals.  His confidence soars, so much so that he meets a nice woman.  Suddenly, he’s got a job, a girlfriend, reasons for being…what a turn around.

I assume the message there is that when it comes to anything good in life, the long game always beats the short one.  You’ll get better health through daily exercise than you will through a one-time sip of that snake oil supplement you saw advertised on late night TV.  You’ll find a more meaningful relationship through a longtime partner than you will with a one night stand.  And while your paycheck doesn’t seem like much, save enough over a long period of time and you’ll get somewhere.

Alas, SPOILER ALERT AGAIN, shenanigans ensue, Eddie can’t beat his addiction and like the alcoholic who can’t shake the booze, he keeps dipping his hand into that bag and keeps losing, and losing and losing.  Like the fast food addict who knows his love of Big Macs will eventually lead to a coronary, Eddie knows that pissing away a murderous criminal’s cash is going to wind up with him six feet under but sadly, that addiction is calling and hey, surely there’s enough time to turn it all around before that inevitable bad ending right?  Come on, just feed the addiction beast one last time, ok and another last time, and one more time…just two or three or twenty last times, tops and then let’s quit cold turkey tomorrow.

I don’t want to give away the ending but there was a part of me that thought it might have defied the typical gambling movie genre by letting Eddie beat his addiction through that “build yourself up from the rock bottom day by day” routine we all hope to master.  Ironically, Eddie beats his addiction by feeding his addiction and while it made for fun viewing, I’m not sure that’s the best message for addicts out there.

Comedian Keegan Michael Key stars as Eddie’s sponsor or at least, friend, because as he notes, sponsors can only help recovering gamblers who are working the program steps and Eddie isn’t, at least at the film’s beginning.

Overall, I enjoyed this movie.  My main critique is that in many ways, it comes across as a shoddy student film.  There are many parts where the dialogue seems improvised and wrap ups of plot points seem thin but I on the whole, I liked it and I think it did have a good message, i.e. the constant ware we all face between instant gratification (do the bad thing that gives us a tiny bit of happiness right NOW and who gives a shit if it fucks up our future later) vs. forcing ourselves to be that little turtle.  He’s slow.  He’s steady.  Progress towards a happier you seems like it is taking forever and will never happen but years later, you look around and you see yourself with a nice house, a great job, a loving family and you’re happy you took the time to solve this puzzle, one little piece at a time.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – The Last Laugh (2019)

Getting old sucks, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of “The Last Laugh.”

Here’s something I’ve learned over the years.  No one really WANTS to check out of life.  Your grandpa doesn’t really like sitting in his rocking chair all day and eating dinner at 4.  Unfortunately, the body gives out and sooner or later, if you don’t slow down then your body will do it for you.

Al Hart and Buddy Green (Chevy Chase and Richard Dreyfuss) are two old timers who despise the retired life.  50 years ago, Buddy was an up and coming stand-up comedian who was about to make it big when he decided to put the glitz behind him and become a podiatrist, much to the disappointment of his manager, Al.

Today, Al is at the end of his talent management career, not by choice but because all of his clients got old and died.  When his granddaughter (Kate Miccuci) checks him in at an old folks’ home, he is reunited with Buddy and they decide to take to the road, booking appearances at dive comedy clubs across the country, all in the hopes of snagging every comedian’s dream, a set on one of the late night comedy shows.

It’s a road trip.  There are some decent laughs.  It’s a bit sad as it highlights how old people are basically young people trapped in bodies that are falling apart.  Andie MacDowell stars as Chevy’s love interest.  Part of me was happy to see her in a movie again and part of me realized that women may have a point about bias in the entertainment industry as Chevy and Richard look like a pair wet old farts but of course, they had to find the hottest old lady imaginable to tag along.  God forbid Chevy hooks up with someone who looks like your actual grandma.

It’s not a movie I’d rush to see but I suppose that’s the beauty of Netflix.  Just as Al gives his old friend one last shot at stardom, this streaming service is giving geezers who would normally be shipped off to the old fart home another chance to entertain.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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Movie Review – Outlaw King (2018)

Hey 3.5 readers.

Gotta break it to you, I’m getting old.  Also, it’s the holidays, so I’m eating too much.  The combo means I watch a movie and then boom, I fall asleep and miss twenty minutes here and there and am too lazy to roll it back.

That’s what I did with this film and lost large chunks of time.  Overall, I think it was good.  Sadly, because of my slumber this will be a lousy review.

Remember Mel Gibson’s “Braveheart?”  This is more or less the sequel.  In the aftermath of William Wallace’s defeat during a Scottish vs. English war, the Lords of Scotland surrender and pledge loyalty to King Edward of England.

The truce doesn’t last long as the lords are merely placating their elder lord.  I don’t know his name but he was in Game of Thrones, as is King Edward and no I’m not looking up their names because remember I said this would be a bad review.

When the elder lord dies, his son, Robert the Bruce (Chris Pine) is all like, “Deal’s off, fuck face” and then he runs around Scotland for the rest of the movie either getting his ass kicked or recruiting Scots to fight the English.

Meanwhile, King Edward has a son who is a doofus and it’s one of those toxic father/son relationships where the father always dumps on the son and no matter what the son does, it is never enough, so the son wants to prove himself worthy so he goes apeshit and runs all over Scotland, killing Scots and hanging them and burning up their castles and houses and shit to punish them for siding with Robert.

Ultimately, I don’t know how Robert wins because like I said, every so often I’d fall asleep, lose twenty minutes, then when I’d wake up, more people would be dead.

Note this film has some nice scenes of the Scottish country side but also intense battle scenes.  In fact, I think we take modern warfare for granted.  Yes, I know modern warfare is tough and can be brutal, but just a reminder that roughly 600 years ago, dudes were hacking each other with axes and murdering swans as sacrifices to God so that he would great them the strength to hack their enemies to pieces.  Entrails.  Loss of limbs.  I mean, holy shit.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Maybe some day I’ll watch it with a Diet Coke so I will stay awake.

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Movie Review – Bird Box (2018)

Birds!  In Boxes!

BQB here with a review of the Netflix film, “Bird Box.”

Is it a zombie movie?  No.  It’s somewhat reminiscent of that genre, but also different entirely.

The delightful Sandra Bullock plays Malorie, an expecting pregnant mother (your guess is good as mine because I love Sandy but I assumed her vag had gone sandy years ago but maybe not.  You never know.)

On her way home from a doctor visit, there’s an outbreak of some kind of mysterious force that causes people to commit suicide.  The film establishes all sorts of rules, the most pertinent being that people can’t be outside without a blindfold on.  If they stay indoors, they’re fine, but outside, if their eyes are open then they’ll see something that will make them kill themselves in the most violent, terrifying ways possible, often taking out others with them along the way.

Meanwhile, birds serve as the proverbial canary in the coal mine as they serve as early warning systems, freaking out in their cages and letting humans know that evil is afoot.

Sandy ends up in a house full of survivors, so there’s a bit of a “Walking Dead” feel for a bit.  Sarah Paulson, John Malkovich, B.D. Wong, Trevante Rhodes and others round out the cast.  They go on typical supply runs, somehow managing to navigate the outside world with their eyes closed.

Eventually, Sandy has to make a blind river run in a rowboat with two kids in tow, an unlikely task if there ever was one.

Overall, it’s a good flick.  Scary.  Has a less is more vibe.  It’s less about CGI monsters and gore and more about seeing people’s reactions to the evil playing out before them.  The first few minutes where chaos breaks out really set the scene and get the film moving.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  Check it out on Netflix.

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TV Review – House of Cards – Season 6

As they say in Gaffney, all good things come to an end.

BQB here with a review of “House of Cards.”

You know, 3.5 readers.  There ought to be a rule.  Call it “The Spacey Rule.”  If you’re an actor about to take a role in a compelling TV series that hinges on that role, you should not have allegations of pervery against you.

Spacey’s character, Francis Underwood, a ruthless, cunning politician who bargained, bribed, bought, cajoled, sweet talked, murdered, screwed (literally and figuratively) and worse, convinced many of his victims to do themselves in, was crucial to the series.

Indeed, Claire (Robin Wright Penn) was his partner-in-crime and before Spacey’s alleged pervery was made public, it looked like the show was heading toward an eventual showdown where the President and First Lady would duke it out.

Thus, the writers were boxed in with this last season.  No season without Francis was going to feel satisfying and yet, to not provide some kind of ending would be a letdown as well.

At the beginning of this final season, Claire is in the first 100 days of her presidency.  Diane Lane and Greg Kinnear play a brother/sister team of wealthy business moguls who apparently were bankrolling the Underwoods and expecting favors in return, though this is the first we’ve heard of them.

Francis is dead, ostensibly due to an overdose of prescription medication, though true accidents without someone at fault rarely, if ever, happen on this show, unless some sort of nefarious evildoer wants it to seem that way.

Claire has learned the art of underhanded politics from the master himself and now free of her husband, she wants to make one last series of weaselly doings to secure her power, push out her enemies and, one might assume, make the world a better place?

Her foil is Doug Stamper, Francis’ longtime henchman.  Claire wants to throw Francis’ reputation under the bus to save herself.  Doug wants to save Francis’ legacy.

Claire, the bro/sis team and Doug go all in on a battle royale and indeed, there is a victor but I won’t spoil it for you.

Suffice to say, imagine if you were invited to a fancy dinner at a friend’s house.  You were promised that if you work your way through five courses, each more tasty than the last, you’d eventually get to that final sixth course that would make your toes curl and your taste buds scream out in orgasmic delight.

Then, alas, your friend comes out and says, “Hey, I’m so sorry, my head chef just got fired due to allegations of pervery so I’m not able to serve you that sixth course you long waited for but hey, here is a tasty bag of Funions.”

Sure, you’ll eat the Funions.  You’ll enjoy the Funions but…you’ll always wish that head chef had kept it in his pants so he could have stuck around to make that final filet mignon.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.  The writers made the best out of a bad situation and ultimately, Spacey is the one to blame but it’s hard not to think about how satisfying a final Francis-centric season would have been and sigh a sad, defeated sigh.

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TV Review – Paradise PD (2018)

My eyes!  What have I seen?  God, help me!

BQB here with a review of Netflix’s Paradise PD.

There’s a part of me that says the master print of this show should be burned, the ashes dissolved in acid, the remnants of whatever is left put into a rocket to be shot into the sun.  It’s that gross and I don’t know why, there’s just something about seeing cartoon animated disgustingness that makes me feel like my soul was warped upon seeing it.  There are scenes that haven’t left me feeling this weirded out since I saw Sausage Party, which, although I laughed at, I pledged I’d never see it ever again and to date, I never have.

On the other hand, I haven’t had such a good laugh in so long.  It’s hilarious – rapid fire jokes upon jokes upon jokes, jokes that are quick, jokes that you get right away, jokes that you get after you think about it after a minute.

Even better? It pulls no punches.  It takes no sides.  It whams, bams, and slams everyone and everything.  It is an equal opportunity offender to one and all.  If you haven’t been offended within the first five minutes, give it another five.  Don’t worry.  They will eventually get to something that offends you.

Ironically, that’s what unbiased comedy is.  When comedians savage one side, one group, one idea, then leave the opposite untouched, it’s biased.  We see that in comedy today when it comes to politics.  Comedians have their sacred political cows and they won’t touch certain topics with a ten foot pole.

Here, liberals and conservatives are parodied with equal vigor.  There’s a particularly funny episode that skewers the cable news channels – CNN, MSNBC and FOX, how they feature knee jerk commentators who skew things to fit their agenda.

I laughed.  I laughed.  I laughed some more.  Still, there’s something about seeing a cartoon penis that seems wrong, even in a cartoon that is intended by adults, and by the way, please, I don’t care if this is a cartoon, if you kid tries to watch this show, please do whatever it takes to stop them from watching it, even if you have to take an axe to the television.

The set up?  Kevin is a loser who ends up as a police officer under the command of his constantly angry police chief father, in the town of Paradise.  There’s the super fat Dusty, the disgusting Hobo Cop (a hobo turned cop), the walking poster for police brutality Gina, the elderly Hopson (owner of the cartoon penis the sight of which makes me want to power wash my eyeballs), the drug addled police dog Bullet and Fitz, the African American cop who, in one wacky episode, accidentally shoots himself in the penis and then gets arrested for committing police brutality against a black man, i.e. himself.

Part of me wants to apologize to Jesus for recommending this.  Part of me appreciates the good laughs it gave me as I watched it the past week.

The best description is that it is basically what you might imagine if Family Guy were able to take the freak outs that it does now but then crank it up to 1,000 with no holds barred.

Honestly, there should be some holds barred.  It’s funny, but I hope this doesn’t mean we’re moving toward a future where all cartoons meant for adults end up this disgusting.

I can’t give it a shelf-worthy rating.  I also can’t not give it one.  See it if you want to laugh and laugh heartily.  Don’t see it if you are easily offended, feint of heart, or if you just believe in common standards of decency…which I do, so why I watched this I don’t know.

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Movie Review – The Voices (2015)

Your dog says behave.  Your cat says be bad.  What to do?  Why, read this review, of course.

SPOILER ALERT – I can’t really get into much of this film without giving it all away, so for now, if you haven’t seen it and your stomach isn’t turned by the thought of guts, gore, murder and also, the fact that somehow this is a comedy (a dark one) then go ahead and watch it on Netflix, then report back here to discuss in the comments.

I caught this at random, just searching through Netflix for something to watch and was surprised that I had never heard of this one.  It’s got Ryan Reynolds and Anna Kendrick and it’s been out for so long yet it fell below my radar.

Moreover, Ryan Reynolds does some honest to God acting in this flick.  You laugh, but I think that even Double-R would admit he has been depending on a snarky, over confident, self-absorbed schtick for a long time now.

Here, RR plays someone different, nay, three someones.  First, he’s Jerry, a shy, socially awkward bathtub factory worker.  To his coworkers, he’s a bit of an odd duck yet still a member of the team.

In his personal life, he’s clearly bananas.  Living in an apartment above a bowling alley, he talks to his pets – Bosco the dog and Mr. Whiskers the cat.  Bosco is Jerry’s good side so naturally, the cat is the villain.  Bosco advises Jerry to behave while Mr. Whiskers urges Jerry to give in to his deepest, darkest impulses.

Usually, Bosco wins, until a fateful night when Jerry scores a date with the babe of his dreams, Fiona (Gemma Arterton).  Alas, Jerry accidentally kills Fiona and Mr. Whiskers takes advantage of this to push Jerry over the line and urge him to kill again, this time on purpose.

Potentially in the crosshairs is Lisa (Anna Kendrick), another coworker who has harbored a longtime crush on Jerry.  Her fate will depend on whether Jerry starts paying more attention to his good pet or his bad pet.

From a writing standpoint (and look away for this is a big SPOILER), Jerry’s medication plays a big role from a “show, don’t tell” perspective.  Prior to the chaos, Jerry has been seeing Dr. Warren (Jacki Weaver) for treatment related to a traumatic childhood.

She urges Jerry to take his medication.  When he doesn’t, his world is happy, calm, peaceful.  He believes he has a pretty comfortable, sweet life, living in a nice, swanky apartment with his best four-legged buds.  Heck, the dismembered head of Fiona, now kept in his fridge, even talks to him, saying all the sweet nothings he longed to hear from her.

What happens when he takes the medication?  Reality sets in, and it’s a grim one.  The apartment isn’t a nice place to live at all.  It’s filled to the brim with filth – dog and cat poop, unwashed dishes, various warning signs that this wack job has not been taking care of himself for quite some time, as well as the bloody remains of his victim.  Worse for Jerry, his pets don’t even talk.  They’re just a cat and a dog.  And yikes!  Fiona is no longer a happy go lucky talking head but as you might have guessed, a silent, rotting head.

As Dr. Warren later explains with advice that could help everyone, no matter their level of crazy, most people hear “voices” though to most people, those “voices” come across as thoughts – ideas of self-loathing, disappointment, urges to do bad things and most people know well enough to push those thoughts aside and not be consumed by them.  Others, like Jerry, hear literal voices and create false worlds to avoid reality.

Scary, dark, funny though it seems like it shouldn’t be, the film has, surprisingly, a good message about facing reality, warts and all, learning to accept ourselves, rally around our strengths, forgive ourselves for our weaknesses, confront problems rather than pretend they aren’t there, to not live in a fantasy land because improving the real world around is often too hard.

It’s a good film where Ryan actually convinces me that he’s shy and awkward even though he’s anything but and to boot, he hams it up as an angelic dog and devilish cat.

It’s a good flick that probably deserved a little more critical acclaim than it got so its worth a watch, unless you aren’t into comedies about crazy men who talk to heads and killer kitties, then you know, don’t watch it.

STATUS: Shelf-worthy.

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