comedy

REVIEW: “Men in Black: International”

mib posterHere’s the thing about the Men in Black movies: none of them are really that good. None of them are bad, either, but they’re nothing particularly special. They’ve always been harmless summer blockbusters that were more concerned with being a comedic, visual treat than telling a particularly compelling story. The first three films always succeeded based on the chemistry of their stars – Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. And that was okay. Men in Black never needed to be some pinnacle of storytelling; they were just these enjoyable action movies. All of that remains true for Men in Black: International, the latest sequel/reboot in the Men in Black franchise. The film features a pretty basic, predictable plot, some enjoyable jokes, some serviceable action, and largely succeeds based on the chemistry of its two stars – Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson. (Mild spoilers ahead.)

Men in Black: International (written by Art Macrum and Matt Holloway, directed by F. Gary Gray)
The Men in Black have always protected the Earth from the scum of the universe. In this new adventure, they tackle their biggest, most global threat to date: a mole in the Men in Black organization.

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REVIEW: “Dumbo” 2019

dumbo posterDisney just keeps remaking their animated movies, huh? It all could be traced back to 2010’s Alice in Wonderland – fittingly directed by Tim Burton, the same director helming this latest live-action remake. From there, Disney just kept on going down the proverbial rabbit hole with remakes. Their latest trip down said rabbit hole – one of no less than three live-action remakes due to be released theatrically this year (with a fourth expected to premiere on the Disney + streaming service by the end of the year), Dumbo is a live-action remake of the classic 1941 Disney cartoon of the same name. This time, helmed by director Tim Burton and screenwriter Ehren Kruger, Dumbo expands that fairly short animated film into a nearly two-hour long Tim Burton extravaganza. The problem is: nobody was really asking for a Dumbo remake. So, is it actually any good, or is it just another mediocre film from Disney, a company that seems to specialize in releasing mediocre films all throughout their various film studios? Answer: it’s the latter.

From Disney and visionary director Tim Burton, the all-new grand live-action adventure “Dumbo” expands on the beloved classic story where differences are celebrated, family is cherished and dreams take flight. Circus owner Max Medici (Danny DeVito) enlists former star Holt Farrier (Colin Farrell) and his children Milly (Nico Parker) and Joe (Finley Hobbins) to care for a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock in an already struggling circus. But when they discover that Dumbo can fly, the circus makes an incredible comeback, attracting persuasive entrepreneur V.A. Vandevere (Michael Keaton), who recruits the peculiar pachyderm for his newest, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland. Dumbo soars to new heights alongside a charming and spectacular aerial artist, Colette Marchant (Eva Green), until Holt learns that beneath its shiny veneer, Dreamland is full of dark secrets.

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REVIEW: NBC’s “Abby’s”

Abby's - Season PilotI really enjoy the shows that Michael Schur produces. All of them manage to do this thing where the jokes aren’t coming at the expense of any of the characters, but rather comes at the expensive of whatever ridiculous thing they’ve just done. Any time I watch a Michael Schur show, I always leave the episode feeling happier – even if something sad has happened. That’s the joy of Michael Schur’s shows. So, when NBC announced that another show, produced by Schur, would be premiering, I was over the moon. Add in a starring role for Natalie Morales and I’m even more sold. Created by Josh Malmuth and executive produced by Michael Schur, Abby’s is a delightful throwback sitcom, filmed in front of a live audience on (mainly) a single set, that features great writing, even better characters, and a whole lot of laughs.

From Michael Schur and Josh Malmuth comes a hilarious new comedy about the best neighborhood bar in San Diego –– home to low prices, good company and, of course, Abby (Natalie Morales). This unlicensed, makeshift establishment in Abby’s backyard is the perfect gathering place for locals to find camaraderie and sanctuary. To maintain the perfect bar ecosystem, all patrons must abide by a specific set of rules. This includes no cell phones (not even to look something up), understanding that earning a seat at the bar takes time to rise through the hierarchy and knowing that losing a challenge may have some unpleasant and unpalatable drink-related repercussions.

As bar owner, Abby has found her true calling, hosting friends and newcomers alike. No nonsense, Abby is ex-military, having served two tours as a Staff Sergeant in the Marines. Her world is shaken when new landlord Bill (Nelson Franklin), who recently inherited the house from his deceased aunt, unexpectedly shows up citing all kinds of reasons why the whole venture is illegal. Newly divorced, he is a cautious worrier and definite non-risk-taker who eventually warms to the place and agrees to let the bar remain open, provided Abby makes some changes.

The cast of regulars also includes Fred (Neil Flynn), a fixture at the bar who is grateful for a place to enjoy a beer and conversation – and refuses to allow some bureaucratic busybody to disrupt his perfect refuge; Beth (Jessica Chaffin), a harried mom living next door who can escape the madness of her home life while still keeping an eye on things from her perch atop a bar stool; Rosie (Kimia Behpoornia), the bar manager who prides herself on having memorized all 162 rules and regulations; and James (Leonard Ouzts), the gentle scaredy-cat of a bouncer who crumbles in the face of confrontation.

As any regular patron of Abby’s will attest to, hanging out there is a coveted honor. And once you’re in, you’re family.

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REVIEW: “You Might Be The Killer”

You Might Be The KillerWho doesn’t love a good scary movie around Halloween? I’m a bit of a wuss, so I like my scary movies to not be too scary. I enjoy being spooked but not being scared so far out of my wits that it’s unpleasant. Because of that, it’s often hard for me to find good, new scary movies to watch since so many modern horror movies rely on jump scares that just make me anxious to a degree that’s entirely unenjoyable. Then along comes You Might Be The Killer, written by Brett Simmons, Thomas P. Vitale, and Covis Berzoyne and directed by Brett Simmons. Based on a viral twitter thread from authors Chuck Wendig and Sam SykesYou Might Be the Killer is a horror-comedy where Sam (Fran Kranz) finds himself trapped at a summer camp, being hunted by a masked killer, and calls his friend Chuck (Alyson Hannigan) for help.

A camp counselor suffering from blackouts finds himself surrounded by murder victims. He turns to his horror movie enthusiast friend for advice, and to contend with the idea he may be the killer.

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The Season Finale of “Trial & Error: Lady, Killer” is a Delightful Hour of TV Filled With Twists and Satisfying Answers (SPOILERS!)

Trial & Error: Lady, Killer - Season 2All good things must come to an end, and it’s a shame that it’s looking like this might be more than a season finale for Trial & Error. If this is the final ending for this great show, at least it’s a stellar one. Trial & Error: Lady, Killer is the second season of Trial & Error, a comedy mockumentary created by Jeff Astrof and Matt Miller, and follows lawyer Josh Segal (Nicholas D’Agosto) and his associates, Dwayne Reed (Steven Boyer) and Anne Flatch (Sherri Shepherd), as they defend someone from murder charges being brought about by Carol-Anne Keane (Jayma Mays). In these episodes, Josh is trying to prove that Jesse-Ray Beaumont (Michael Hitchcock) wasn’t responsible for the murder of Lavinia Peck-Foster’s (Kristen Chenoweth) brother, Chet, and that it was really Lavinia who was his murderer.

“A Big Break”: Josh and his team continue to find themselves at literal dead ends in their casework until they unearth game-changing evidence with the help of Jesse Ray Beaumont. Meanwhile, in court, Carol Anne tries to finish the case before she has the baby. (Written by Jeff Astrof and directed by Jeffrey Blitz)

“Barcelona”: As Jesse Ray Beaumont’s trial begins, the team struggles to keep him under control while they discover more of Lavinia’s secrets. Now that the baby is born and awaiting the DA election results, Carol Anne discovers who is the baby’s father. (Written by Jeff Astrof and directed by Jeffrey Blitz)

This review will contain spoilers for the season finale of Trial & Error. Read at your own risk…  (more…)

NBC’s “Trial & Error: Lady, Killer” is Full of Delightful Plot Twists (S02E03-04 “The Murder Clock” and “A Hole in the Case” REVIEW)

Trial & Error: Lady, Killer - Season 2A good ongoing mystery show is only as good as its twists, turns, and red herrings. Trial & Error: Lady, Killer continues to provide us with countless twists and turns and cliffhangers. Created by Jeffrey Blitz and Matt Miller, Trial & Error: Lady, Killer is the second season of NBC’s true-crime satirizing comedy Trial & Error. This season follows the trial of Lavinia Peck-Foster (Kristen Chenoweth) as Josh Segal (Nicholas D’Agosto) and his Associates (Anne (Sherri Shepherd) and Dwayne (Stephen Boyer)) defend her against prosecutor Carol-Anne Keaton (Jayma Mays).

“The Murder Clock”: Josh’s team continues to hunt for the potential murder weapon that would seal their timeline. The case takes a dramatic turn as their search leads them to two new suspects and some shocking news about Lavinia. (Written by Liz Astrof and directed by Jeffrey Blitz)

“A Hole in the Case”: As the trial begins, Josh and his team experience some hiccups in proving Lavinia’s innocence to the judge. As soon as Josh thinks he’s been able to find cause for dismissal of the case, Carol Anne argues to test the timeline herself, leading them to uncover a hidden passageway on Lavinia’s property. (Written by David Booth and directed by Yana Gorskaya)

NOTE: There will be spoilers for episodes 3 and 4 of Trial & Error: Lady, Killer.

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“Trial & Error: Lady, Killer” is just as wonderfully funny as the first season! (S02E01-02: “The Suitcase”, “The Timeline” Review)

Trial & Error: Lady Killer - Season 2It may be more than a year after the first season of NBC’s Trial & Error finished airing, but the second season makes it feel like no time has passed. Season 2 of Trial & Error is a perfect continuation of the first season in every way and the writers and directors haven’t missed a beat. Trial & Error is a comedic anthology series that follows defense attorney Josh Segal (Nicholas D’Agostoa), and his associates: Dwayne Reed (Steven Boyer) and Anne Flatch (Sherri Shepherd) as they go toe-to-toe against town prosecutor Carol Anne Keane (Jayma Mays) in a new murder trial in the small town of East Peck, South Caroline. This season’s defendant: Lavinia Peck-Foster (Kristen Chenoweth), First Lady of East Peck.

“The Suitcase”: Josh Segal and Associates get their first case, defending Lavinia Peck-Foster, the eccentric First Lady of East Peck who was found with husband Edgar’s corpse in a suitcase in her trunk. Lavinia is surly, entitled, larger than life and, instead of hugs, her currency of connection is a face slap. On the other hand, she is wealthy so she can pay him. Winning this case could be Josh’s ticket for his true goal, to be considered a “Pecker.” Unfortunately, complications and bodies keep piling up and there are more questions than answers. (Written by Jeff Astrof and directed by Jeffrey Blitz)

“The Timeline”: When Judge Kamiltow rules that Lavinia must stand trial for the murder of her husband, Josh and the team try to poke holes in the timeline of the case Carol Anne will present. But when a clock is determined to be the murder weapon, they are forced to seek help from two unlikely sources — the convicted murderer of Lavinia’s brother and the host of a popular murder podcast called “M-Town.” (Written by Craig Gerard & Matthew Zinman and directed by Jeffrey Blitz)

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Ghosted Could Be a Truly Good TV Show if Only it Had a Longer Run Time (Ghosted S01E06 – “Sam” REVIEW)

ffghosted_ep106_sc5_0004_f_hires1_fullThere’s a good show somewhere deep inside of Ghosted just waiting to reach the surface. The obstacle in its way: Ghosted‘s runtime. The problem with the show lies in the fact that it doesn’t have enough time to properly explore its case of the week plots and its character development. Tonight’s episode, “Sam“, perfectly demonstrated this. The episode was a perfect example of everything good and everything bad about Ghosted. Written by Ryan Ridley and directed by Jamie Babbit, “Sam” is the sixth episode of the new FOX comedy GhostedWhile Captain Lafrey (Ally Walker) is out, Annie (Amber Stevens West) installs a smooth-talking Artificial Intelligence, “Sam,” (Dax Shepard) to manage the office, but Max (Adam Scott) and Leroy (Craig Robinson) are put to the test when “Sam” turns out to be an evil and powerful force trying to take down the Bureau Underground. All the while, Max is jealous when Leroy makes a new friend. (Mild spoilers follow) (more…)

REVIEW: People of Earth (Seasons 1 and 2)

mv5bmtuzmtcxnzg0nl5bml5banbnxkftztgwmdiwnzczmdi-_v1_sy1000_cr006671000_al_Who’d have thought that one of the funniest, most consistently well-written shows on TV would be a comedy series about a support group for alien abductees? Well, People of Earth is just that. Created by David Jenkins, People of Earth follows journalist Ozzie Graham (Wyatt Cenac) as he is assigned to investigate a local support group for alien abductees, Starstruck. The deeper his investigation goes, the more seduced by the idea he becomes until he slowly discovers that he, himself, was abducted by aliens as a child. Everything Ozzie ever knew was a lie as his life unravels before his eyes and everything becomes a lot weirder than he’d ever imagined they could be. Meanwhile, on a ship orbiting the Earth, a group of aliens, Jeff, Don, and Kurt, continue making preparations for the upcoming invasion of Earth by their respective races. Little do they know that their plans may be about to be revealed to Ozzie by a traitor from their own ranks… (Mild spoilers ahead).  (more…)

REVIEW: FOX’s Ghosted, S01E01 – Pilot

ghosted-1x01-16You know how there always ends up being that one show that has a premise that you’re super into and a trailer that really gets you pumped and it ends up being disappointing as all get out? Yeah, Ghosted was that show for me. Created by Tom Gormican and Kevin Etten, Ghosted is basically what you’d get if you made The X-Files into a sitcom, executed it as a buddy-cop story, and had it star two men. In the pilot episode of Ghosted, a key member of The Bureau Underground – a top-secret government agency – goes missing. Subsequently, Leroy (Craig Robinson), a cynical former detective, and Max (Adam Scott), a genius “true believer” in the paranormal, are recruited to find him. The two polar opposites must work together to find the agent while uncovering possible alien activity and chilling “unexplained” paranormal events in their own city of Los Angeles. (Mild spoilers follow)  (more…)