Saturday, May 16, 2020
Fred Willard has passed at the age of 86.
Willard was one of the funniest people to appear in TV and movies, full stop.
When I was in high school, Nick at Nite sprang into being and shortly thereafter brought on old episodes of Fernwood 2-Night, which, as a kid who could never sleep (or an adult who still won't go to bed), I found myself watching when I'd get a chance. And then, of course, his appearances in Christopher Guest movies of the mid-90's just sealed the deal. The man was hysterical.*
I'm really going to miss knowing he was out there, his guest appearances on shows, his recurring roles on others, and basically just having Fred Willard in this universe.
*those doubters should immediately view Best in Show, and then tell me Willard's role wasn't the inspiration for how today's dog shows on TV are broadcast.
Format: Amazon Streaming
Director: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
As it starred neither apes nor robots, I was never a watcher of the original 21 Jump Street when it was on TV. I knew roughly what it was about, but I don't believe I've ever seen an episode. Between this fact and the massive pile of comedy remakes that had been hitting since the mid-90's Brady Bunch revival, I was in no particular rush to see this movie.
But, then I learned it was a Lord & Miller movie and gave it a shot. All in all, an ideal Friday-night comedy with enough Lord & Miller stuff to make it really work. The cast is great (special shout out to Ellie Kemper) and there's a ton of really good stuff packed into 90 minutes, even with some pretty pat "high school kids sure are different now!" stuff that's a little hard to buy with only 7 years passed since our heroes supposedly graduated high school.
Pretty clearly there was a lot more shot, as a few things are referred to and it looks like some unused stuff wound up in the credits. Which makes me reflect on the assignment of Lord & Miller to the Solo Star Wars movie, and their eventual firing. What did Disney think they were getting, again?
Anyway, the movie is exactly what you think it is, maybe funnier than you'd guess.
Format: Amazon Streaming HBO
Director: Gene Stupnitsky
Look, the secret life of boys on the verge of teenhood is hard to capture. The last time I remember thinking anyone got it was parts of Boyhood and Stand By Me. It's the last time you're friends with kids who you might not have all that much in common with before you hit middle and high school and become more yourself.
Good Boys (2019) doesn't avoid that idea, but it does show the potty mouthed, sheltered dopes boys are at around age 12, with confused ideas about masculinity, an overpowering need to demonstrate their worldiness and maturity, and one foot firmly on the side of kid-hood and one foot on the side of becoming a teen. In short, you're a @#$%ing mess.
I don't want to overthink what is a "well, this worked very well at least the first time, but maybe not so well on the second once the shock and surprise value is lowered" comedy, but this movie was, indeed, funny. And I can just imagine all the explaining parents and those on set had to do with the kids (if they did any at all) about half the things in the movie.
Anyway, writing about what is and is not funny and everyone's sense of humor is all over the place, but some of this felt very familiar, indeed, from a certain age (about 5th grade). A quick glance at Metacritic is pretty much a roadmap of how this movie just isn't going to land with everyone. Some seem to think it's just being outrageous and that's bad. Others seem to have a, shall we say, interestingly sociopathic idea of what *would* have been funny. I will say, regarding one flavor of complaint I read - it doesn't hurt to know that one of the laws of comedy is stupid repetition. Or, in fact, if you repeat something, it just gets funnier. Sort of the way that if you keep doing something, it just increases the comedy value.
But, that's the thing with comedies. I looked at Amazon to see what was on there, and, man, are there a lot of 90 minute movies out there that just look painful to watch. And a lot of it is - I have no idea what world the filmmakers are living in where they thought "yes, let's make this movie and, from coast to coast, a lot of people will find this hilarious". Like, sometimes you're just funny to your friends.
Anyhoo... this is a very Rated-R movie, so do not watch with the kids.
Friday, May 15, 2020
Viewing: second or third
Director: Masaaki Tezuka
This Godzilla film is a direct sequel, sort of, to Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla. But in the tradition of Godzilla movies, the humans in the foreground are not the same as those in the prior film, minus a cameo and a return of the same Premier of Japan.
This one follows up, basically, with the rebuilding of Kiryu - the Mechagodzilla built by humans to protect Japan - smartly made from the bones and DNA of 1954 Godzilla. The flight team from the prior film is shipped off for additional training and so we get a new flight crew.
Thursday, May 14, 2020
Watched: I actually am not sure. Roughly 05/05/2020
Director: Ron Howard
I don't remember seeing Cocoon (1985) after about 1989 or so, but it was a surprise how much of the movie stayed with me on a rewatch. It's also amazing to think that this sort of thing, which was a huge hit when it came out, would now be pitched as a stunt or aimed only at the Boomer crowd (and would certainly be derided as a fantasy meant to hurt Millennials somehow).
Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Format: Criterion BluRay
Viewing: First all the way through
Director: Jun Fukuda
We're in that part of the Showa era of Godzilla where it's kinda for kids and every once in a while there's a bunch of samurai blood shooting out of a kaiju. Godzilla v Gigan (1972) features about 30 minutes of WWE-style monster fighting at the end of the movie, so it's light on plot and eager to deliver what you paid to see.
Format: Criterion BluRay
Viewing: First as an adult
Director: Jun Fukuda
This movie is straight nonsense.
That's not exactly a criticism, but it is remarkable how, in a short couple of decades, Godzilla went from "manifestation of faults and failures of a nation coming back in the form of an unstoppable behemoth" to "giant friend to the children who likes a good bit of wrasslin' with other giant monsters". As I said elsewhere, any time you see one of these movies and it stars a kid in shorts and a long-sleeve shirt, you know you're often getting a particular flavor of Godzilla that is knowingly goofy.
Monday, May 11, 2020
Director: Boris Sagal
More Ways To Listen
We're in quarantine, and there's one sci-fi movie that's been on our minds. Join us as we talk about being the last man on Earth! At least the last sane man on Earth. Except for those other people out there living in the 'burbs. Anyway, it'd be nice to just drive cars off the lot without having to haggle.
The Omega Man Theme - Ron Grainer
What a career this guy had. If you're going to set out to be a comedic actor, you can't do much better than the lifetime of work Jerry Stiller turned into gold. I can't begin to count the number of times he made me laugh til I cried.
Heck, I watched TV shows I had no real interest in just to see him. But he also popped up in one of the best movies of the 70's, Taking of Pelham One Two Three.
We'll miss you, sir.
Every once in a while you read a comic that you know is just going to stick with you for a long, long time.
Novelist Neil Gaiman of course broke into the public consciousness through Sandman, the perennially popular comic series that, frankly, got me back into comics when I'd wandered off to spend my money elsewhere. What we don't talk about nearly enough is that, in addition to Gaiman's scripts and plots, he was paired with some of the finest artists to grace the business (you can thank editor Karen Berger), among them Colleen Doran.
Format: Tweet-a-long on Amazon Prime
Director: Tonjia Atomic
I don't know. I don't know what I expected.
Somehow a return to "Manos"- The Hands of Fate, the 1966 zero-budget horror indie out of El Paso, TX, which had neither synced sound nor coherent narrative, and arrived in 2018'ish as a shot-on-video-but-not-great-video and featured simply too much dialog - was kinda just right.
Manos Returns (2018) features - and I want to get this out there, because I missed this prior to watching - the original actor who played The Master and the former little girl who played Debbie, now a grown lady-person still playing Debbie! Take that, David Lynch and your 25 years later!
Much like the original, I don't understand the movie or what it is trying to do. At times it seems like it wants to be a parody, and at other times, a straight sequel with some enhancements thanks to the power of video editing. There's genuinely more story to this movie, but with similar outcomes. And more red bras. Lots of red bras.
I dunno. I didn't *not* enjoy seeing the movie, and it is definitely a worthy successor to Manos, whatever that means. But, you know, beware something striving to be a sequel to Manos.
BTW - seeing this also told me there's a mini-market of Manos ancillary media being produced. Debbie is going on to make a TV series, there's a Rise of Torgo movie out there, too. And seemingly other things. Anyway, proceed with due caution.