Monday, December 31, 2018

They're no dummies.

My dad was just in for his annual/semi-annual visit to the mid-Atlantic. Cooked a bunch, finished my basement, played an infinite number of games of Hangman with my daughter. Good times, indeed.

For as long as I can remember (but much more so in recent years), politically speaking, he's been incredibly involved. Consumed, even. No matter the topic, all roads lead to some massive injustice perpetrated by a sinister government on its innocent people. While there's a level of shame in discussing any of these crimes with my father, turns out there's a bonus level. The fact that I, his son, knew absolutely nothing about these terrible, terrible events.

What do you know about Cambodia? You know about Laos, right - what happened there? Do you know what the United States did to ________________? I either shrug, sigh, or go silent.

Because, me? I haven't really been the best student of history - especially U.S. History. But, uh, not to brag or anything...

...I do watch a lot of movies.

Vice, the latest cinematic dick punch from director Adam McKay. Packaged and sold as a movie, as in something one would enjoy with popcorn, Vice ends up being one of the most amusing/f--king dreadful two hour history lessons to hit the theater since McKay's previous effort, The Big Short [review]. Imagine your favorite person you the worst news of your life, and you might be on the right track.
It was only fitting that I took my dad (and my wife) to

Just short of shadowboxing my way into the theater (and wearing a white towel with a hole cut in it for a shirt), I felt incredibly confident heading into our evening showing of Vice. At 39, I'm old enough to have a solid recollection of the depicted events, theoretically meaning I wouldn't sound like a bigger moron than usual during the post-watch breakdown we were bound to dive into. Also, there was a good chance I would be the only who stayed awake the entire time, so, advantage m.brown.

Here's the thing, I honestly can't tell you, if knowing more (in this situation), can really be framed as an advantage - a positive. When the house lights came on, as much as I enjoyed my time in the theater, and letting the people flanking me know who snores louder, this depiction of the Bush-Cheney Administration absolutely gutted me. Vice, and the era that it portrays, is nothing short of an absolute f--king nightmare. Maybe the current administration has made some us long for the Dubya days, but seeing this film not only shatters those rose-colored glasses, but then it picks up the shards and jams them in your eye. I think this tweet sums it up the best:

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Let's do it.

I don't mean to brag or anything, but, uh, back in high school? I pretty much saved the Pacific Ocean.

See, I spent the better part of a fairly-humid afternoon walking around my hometown spray-painting the words Dump No Waste, Goes to Ocean in front of all the storm drainsThere was even a little outline of a humuhumunukunukuapua'a chilling there in the middle, so you could clearly see the adorable victim of your potentially reckless dumping. Killing any fish was bad enough, but our state fish? You stay lolo fo' ac' li' dat. (translation: you're a crazy douche, for such actions)

Remember, this was 1995 - an environmentally conscientious Hawaiian kid with a can of spray paint and stencil was, like, incredibly intimidating. Even if he didn't have luxuriously long hair, green eyes, and well, all the muscles.

As little faith as I had in my own efforts to protect the ocean that day, quite frankly, I had even less some two decades later that anybody could make a good Aquaman movieHow would the majority of a film that takes place underwater even be possible? *James Wan clears throat* Fine. The film looks and sounds incredible. But Aquaman? Really? Good luck making that character cool. *Jason Momoa stands, flexes, and winks*

I'm sorry...what were we talking about again?

I'm not going to bullshit you and say that I absolutely loved Aquaman, but I don't think that anyone can deny that it's pretty f--king impressive. Visually striking from the first frame to the last, James Wan's latest is eye-candy to the nth degree. And that's before you get to the visual effects.

As far as origins stories go, I'm pretty sure you've seen this one before. Badass Hero Guy, who came from mysterious/humble upbringings, is called upon, despite his general lack of interest, to reclaim the throne that's rightfully his, more or less because it's good for the people. Take a generous helping of The Lion King, with a side of Black Panther [review]garnish it with the slightest bit of Avatar, and preheat the oven to 400. Now, soak that f--ker in saltwater, add Amber Heard's heaving bosom...and you're good to go. Just don't leave it in too long, or you might dry it out and end up with a Bad Batch.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

I am disappointed in this threesome.

In the last few holiday seasons, there's been an alarming (and entirely unwelcome) trend threatening to make me swear off Christmas forever. No, not the ugly sweaters or freezing my nuts off to see some a-hole light a f--king tree in the town square. Those, it appears, I can actually suffer through. No, what really roasts my chestnuts is this idea that I, yes me, need to provide the absolute perfect f--king present for each one of my children...FROM EACH ONE OF THEIR GRANDPARENTS. 

How is this my responsibility? Don't they know I've got my own mostly blank list to deal with? Isn't it clear that I'm the one dealing with lights that don't work on a rickety-ass ladder that may or may not be able to hold me? And if I manage to find a spare minute in my increasingly shitty days...

...don't they know I've got terrible holiday movies to see?

You know we're in a bad spot when Susan Sarandon is the best part of the movie.
Once Home Alone and Elf have been watched (and re-watched), I'm pretty much all set with holiday movies. Mrs. Two Dollar Cinema, refuses to quit while we're ahead and scours the globe for other potential yule-tide cinematic traditions.  Turns out, the only thing seemingly taking place on an annual basis is that she falls asleep during some shitty film she hand selected. 

Cue the 2018 entry, A Bad Moms Christmas, the follow up to the mostly not-good 2016 flick, Bad Moms [review]. And also cue the deadly combo of my indifference and her exhaustion.

The sequel opens with the lovely Amy (Mila Kunis, sexy as always) amidst the tattered remains of what looks like a holiday party. She's alone, and the place is totally f--ked top to bottom. And I'm pretty sure a rented camel just walked through her living room. How we ended up here isn't a mystery (selfish a-holes doing dumb shit should just about cover it), but over the next 104 minutes she's unfortunately going to tell us how it all unfolded anyway. Here's the short version: Her mom is an absolute f--king psycho and pretty much everything wrong in the world is her doing.

While we could all probably give the merriest of f--ks about this movie, I feel compelled to let you in on something resembling a true Christmas miracle. No, I didn't go from living under a bridge in the park and talking to my pigeons to sharing a precious moment with a ten year old boy in the snow and rejoining society, but it was pretty damn close.

Friday, December 28, 2018

You're the best of all of us, Miles.

When I say I hate kids, clearly I don't mean hate them hate them, but like anyone approaching the end of my fourth decade on this planet, being young ain't exactly in my wheelhouse anymore. I look at all aspects of my own youth and when I find something comparable today, I can't help but recoil and immediately trudge away in the opposite direction.

The new version, of just about everything, absolutely sucks. But what pisses me off even more?

Is when it doesn't.

You don't even know how hard I want to shake my (wrinkled) fist at the absolute greatness that is Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Not only is it quite possibly the best superhero film of the year, there's a good chance it's the best thing I've seen a very long time. My apologies to Toby, Andrew and even the new guy, Tom. But in the race to be the best Spider-Man, you were all beaten by Miles.

Miles Morales is a good kid from the around the way. He's just gotten into a top-shelf boarding school, met a cool girl in science class, and it's pretty clear that expectations are high. And if that ain't enough to deal with, after some epic tagging with his uncle, this kid goes and gets himself bitten by a radioactive spider.

While that story seems beyond familiar, well, it's because it is. Very familiar, in fact. Turns out Miles is just one of many Spider, er, people... as each of the many known universes has their own web-slinging hero. For reasons initially unknown, portals have been opening up all over New York City, and, well, the gang's all here. 

Friday, December 21, 2018

You never get used to the smell.

Ghosts? I get ghosts. Not really alive, just kind of hanging around where they used to live, maybe even being the occasional dick - this makes sense to me. Ghosts...*checks clipboard* welcome aboard.

Monsters - these f--kers rule, too. Hey, you're an friendless abomination, probably hungry as f--k, so it's totally logical that you're killing and devouring everything in sight. What else are you supposed to do - rely on the kindness of strangers? You're a f--king monster. Ain't nobody giving you shit, outside of a bullet between the eyes or a pitchfork up the ass. Go ahead and eat a kid, Monster. F--k it, we can make more of 'em - like that.

But Demons? Man, f--k you pricks right in your upside-down asses. First, you're getting people's religion involved, and murderous f--kwad or not, that shit's just rude. On top of that, you're crass, prone to pissing, shitting and vomiting wherever it suits you, and just generally a bummer to be around. Oh, and a special f--k you to ruining nudity, too, as no one wants to see every curve of your goddamned pelvis. 

And all that's before you start crawling around the floor like a coked-up asshole.

Anybody out there making the argument that 2018 was a great year for horror should grab the nearest crucifix and thrust it repeatedly at The Possession of Hannah Grace. Dumped into theaters unceremoniously a few weeks back, it wasn't Christ that compelled me to catch this janky mess on the big screen, it was Venom. But more on that in a bit.

The Possession of Hannah Grace opens exactly like you would expect it to, mid-exorcism, where a nasty demon has taken control of, you guessed it, a young white woman. Her dad is nearby, and when things head south, he smothers her like a stack of pancakes, assuming instead of syrup, you cover your pancakes with a pillow. Violently.

Cut to three months later, and all of a sudden we're balls-deep in some sexy lady's quarter-life crisis. Apparently she's an ex-cop determined to trade in her metaphorical demons for literal ones. Turns out, there are no other jobs available outside of graveyard shift at the world's most poorly-lit morgue, so even fine-ass Megan Reed  (Shay Mitchell, probably from a show I've never watched) takes the gig. I mean, this is Boston, so it's either schlepping the corpses of dead hobos about or the night shift at a Dunkin' Donuts in Saugus. Either way, for someone prone to wicked flashbacks, this new situation ain't exactly ideal.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Sweet mother of monkey milk.

When we moved to Hawai'i back in the late eighties, the hotel that hired my dad also, perhaps obviously, hired a ton of other people, too. I guess you need more than just one pastry chef to open a 1,200 room hotel. Who knew?

Anyway, the condos we lived in? Well, it seemed like everybody was pretty much in the same boat: new transplants from all over, navigating the move to paradise from wherever the heck they were from prior. A couple of units down, were the Hay brothers - Dustin and Jared. They were from California, and their parents were hired to be the flippin' dolphin trainers of all things.

Though both a little bit older than I was, they would quickly become my best friends. Just not for forever.

While the Hays and I would remain friends for only a couple of years, it would appear that Ralph and Venellope are still going strong in Ralph Breaks the Internet, the follow up to the wildly successful 2012 original [review]. Despite the title conjuring images of sites that won't load (or the N in Netscape refusing to pulse), this clever sequel instead finds the giant-fisted goofball wrecking (and ralphing on) the thing he cares about most: his friendship.

After some unfortunate little girl wrecks their Sugar Rush cabinet (mostly because of Ralph's attempt to appease Vanellope), the racing game is unplugged and destined for the scrap yard. In order to save their home, Ralph and Venellope are going to need a new steering wheel. Turns out, there's one left...but it's only available on something known as eBay. So of course they do what any of us do when we need something: they head to the internet.

Seeing the world wide web brought to life in a Pixar film (as opposed to in something like The Emoji Movie [review], clearly the work of Satan) is something probably everyone should do, as it's equal parts amazingly adorable and impossibly clever. Like much of their previous work, Ralph Breaks the Internet walks that balance between being for kids and (or?) adults, and the cyberspace setting compliments that aspect even further. My kids got just as much joy out of seeing the little Twitter birds fly by as I did...though I'm not sure that's something I should say out loud.

Monday, December 10, 2018

I couldn't go back.

With six and a half days off staring me in the face, anything was possible. I had forty minutes to pack up, say goodbye to my co-workers, and travel exactly thirty-two miles. The last third of this jaunt being typically stop-and-go. It was going to be close, sure, but I would not be denied. 

And when Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' version of Immigrant Song came on the radio, it felt like divine intervention. The traffic seemed to part right in front of me, and the lights were the greenest of greens. I was going to make it.

Shocking no one, I was headed to the movies. To catch an afternoon matinee. Alone.

And I couldn't have been happier.

Even in the best of moods, I found it damn near impossible to consistently enjoy Fede Alvarez' The Girl in the Spider's Web. Bereft of the insane hype that smothered Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo back in 2011, this second film in the Lisbeth Salander series still manages to somehow disappoint. Sure, there are some cool moments, and Foy's turn/performance as Salander is (fairly and surprisingly) rad, but what once felt like a sordid tale that could actually happen, feels now like the Swedish Hallmark Channel's woebegone remake of 9Fast9Furious. You know, assuming that's a thing...

For a minute or two (aka, the time I still have popcorn to eat), things we're looking good. Lisbeth, looking like a mash-up of Scarlett Johanson in Ghost in the Shell and The Crow, breaks into into a house to taze some wife-beater in the gooey bag. Cut to her and her giant girlfriend, scissoring each other to some ill trip-hop beats. Or maybe I imagined that...

Anyway, Lisbeth is hired to hack some top secret government system that allows users access to, get this, launch nuclear weapons from anywhere in the world. What? No way. You never hear about nuclear launch codes in movies! And in another shocking turn of events, after she gets in and downloads the file, everything goes tits up. The United States sends someone to find her while the Swedish government is simultaneously all up in her shit. But even worse? Also patiently waiting in line to f--k over Lisbeth, is some unruly f--ker known as Her Past. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

I don't require a vouch.

Because my wife's business is life insurance, I'm routinely strong-armed into making sure I have enough coverage in the event I die tragically, like in a fire, or before the end of a good movie. 

When I (jokingly?) tell her that she should just remarry immediately and not worry about the money, she makes this face suggesting this isn't a f--king joke you moron, we have kids and you can't leave them both fatherless and penniless, so stop being a moderately-clever asshole and grow the f--k up and be responsible for once in your pathetic life. 

Seriously, it's quite the look. 

But, I get it. I do. It's bad enough she'd have to deal with the sudden loss of her husband, and the last thing I'd want her to have to worry about would be money. Or the wives of the people I worked with. And their families. Or Chicago's corrupt political system, where nepotism and systemic racism run rampant.

At least she'd have our dog.

(I've always hated it when the names and faces don't line up)
Widows is too good a film, and Hell, too utterly f--king relentless to toss around a phrase like it's a slow burn, but I don't get paid for this shit, so go ahead and put that cliche in your pipe and smoke it. Slowly.

See, as I strolled out of the theater that day (with my lovely wife, no less), I simply wasn't wowed like I expected to be. It was good, sure, but it felt a bit like that mountain climber game on The Price is Right: all build up and a quick, not entirely satisfying ending. I know, I know, saying this film is anything but brilliant is sacrilege (at least on Film Twitter) so I should probably yodel my way off a f--king cliff immediately. But can I at least keep the waffle maker?

Unless you've repeatedly read the title as Windows, it shouldn't surprise you that this film tells the tale of four women (eh, let's go with three) coping with the sudden and violent deaths of their crooked husbands. And it wasn't just their dicks or their noses either, as these dudes were balls-deep in all sorts of illegal shit. While their charred corpses can be buried, it turns our their problems can't. 

Well, at least not at first.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

He didn't steal Christmas. He stole stuff.

I'l let you in on a little secret: I hate the Fourth of July. The fireworks are the main culprit (how are adults still impressed by this?) with a dash of the absurdity of celebrating the current United States in there too. Also, and this is a bitter teacher talking, because the day signals the beginning of the end. Of summer. The back-to-school sales will start soon, and the carefree nature of June has officially given way to the impending doom of August.

But all the other holidays? Nothing but love from me. Fine, Valentine's Day I could take or leave, and New Year's Eve ain't ever been my scene, but Halloween? Thanksgiving? I couldn't enjoy them more.

And Christmas? Goodness. I mean, everyone loves Christmas.

Even the Grinch.

Violet liked my idea of sprinting by the poster, instead of posing like a normal kid.
Yep, in The Grinch, brought to us by the good (but never truly great) folks at Illumination, even that salty green curmudgeon doesn't seem to outright loathe the holiday like he once did. Nah, this time, as voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch, ol' Grinchy seems more generally irritated with Christmas versus his borderline psychotic let's burn this mutha to the ground stance seen in previous outings.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

But, hey - what are we gonna do, cancel Halloween?

We've all heard that right before you die - your whole life flashes before your eyes. Or, according to movies, the easily-decipherable important bits do. Your wedding. The birth of your children. Your spouse telling you they love you. It's all rather romantic, isn't it? I mean, who'd want to see a montage of all the times you wiped your ass?

Whether it's your little brother stabbing you while you toplessly comb your hair, or a kitchen knife through the back of your throat from a silent stranger dressed like a garbage man, one way or another, that highlight reel is cued up and ready to go.

All you gotta do is die!

Because I wanted to finally rejoin (film?) society and see the new Halloween movie (on opening night, no less), it would only make sense to revisit the old one beforehand. As in, immediately beforehand. So, within the space of half an hour, my wife and I (both of born in 1979), finished the 1978 original, then dashed across town to the theater to catch the 2018 sequel.

So, just like that, our entire lives had flown by. Four decades, gone. And when we came to, everything had changed. We were alive and very old, and more pressing, Jamie Lee Curtis' hair was no longer feathered.

After slogging our way through the deliberately-paced original, with my wife side-eyeing me the whole time (this is a classic? This?), it's safe to say that we both enjoyed the latest sequel infinitely more. While not much has changed for Laurie Strode, the pace and intensity of horror films, thankfully, has. Yes, this beauty versus the beast setup is a tale as old as time, sure, but now it's more visceral and exciting. Mikey is still as quiet and pissed off as ever. Bus transfers at the prison are still scoring needs improvement on Survey Monkey. And when Love It or List it comes to Haddonfield, Illinois, I don't give a shit how nice that new kitchen looks - you f--king list it, goddamn it. 

Saturday, November 17, 2018

It's the burning rain of death!

The Halloween of 1993 was probably the last time I went trick-or-treating. I think.

I would have been fourteen (and a high school freshman), so I might be a year off, but for the sake of this post (and the fact that it doesn't matter in the least), let's just go with it.

I wore a San Jose Sharks jersey (um, it was '93 - the Sharks teal road jersey was issued to wannabe a-holes by the federal government) and a glow-in-the-dark Jason Voorhees mask. If it had come in a package, once could assume it would have been titled murderous hockey player and/or timid dickbag desperate for Skittles. Either way, I knew right away, from the slight frowns of the candy-givers, that I had made a huge mistake. Simply put?

I was too old to be participating in this annual tradition. 

Which brings us to Hocus Pocus, yet another Halloween-related activity that I shouldn't have partaken in. You'd think I'd have learned something in the ensuing quarter century since 1993, but here I am, still ruining a perfectly good holiday with a bad decision.

In my defense, at least this time I wasn't an awkward virgin, knocking my sweaty hands on the doors of my apathetic Hawaiian neighbors. Instead, I was an awkward adult, gathering my children around the television, insisting they watch this 'classic' with me and my wife. I'm emphasizing they're mine, my kids, just so we can be clear that unlike that kid back in 1993, the 2018 model of m.brown has had sex. More than once, in fact.

Blogger Guy, what the f--k? No one needs to know all that. Oh, but they do Italicized Voice of Reason, because in a silly kids' movie about Halloween, whether or not the main character has ever gone for a ride on the wild bologna pony is paramount. Trust me - it matters. So much so, in fact, we should probably talk about his virginity as much as possible. Just so the little ones can really understand that having sex is like, super important, if witches be all up in your shit.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

What is wrong with me?

Honestly, I liked it better the first time.
In June.
When it was called Upgrade.
And I wasn't a miserable prick.

Even though the, uh, modifications weren't as cool, and the voice in his head wasn't as routinely hysterical, I had a better time with Leigh Whannell's flick. The violence was more visceral and the love interest was more, well...lovelier.

Hell, even if the Tom Hardy wasn't actually Tom Hardy, for whatever reason, I still had more fun with Upgrade [review] than I did with its cinematic cousin...

...VenomEven if early word (at the time) had suggested it was a hot mess, I still went in hoping Sony's latest Marvel flick would defy odds and kick so much ass.

But as the audience around me seemed to be enjoying themselves more and more (including my sister, an enthusiastic moviegoer, to say the least), I felt myself drifting in the opposite direction. This is what you guys came to see? This? People were damned near falling out of their seats they were laughing so hard, and even more bewildering, it wasn't at the movie, but with it.

All I can think of at this point, is that I'm incapable of joy, because this Venom flick, while being thankfully Topher-free, rubbed me the wrong way. Tom Hardy is great in everything, so despite his performance being the best part of Ruben Fleischer's latest (dude did Zombieland and Gangster Squad), he's also why I was so let down.

See, once Hardy was announced as Eddie Brock, it only seemed logical that this new version of Venom would be a hard-R, impossibly creepy look at the famous villain/anti-hero. I imagined something along the lines of what Heath Ledger (and Nolan) did with the Joker in The Dark Knight, and began to count the days until Venom hit theaters. Hardy is going to literally eat someone.

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Well, I guess I'm in.

The original Predator film is in my DNA.

String up my naked corpse from a tree, rip my skull and spine out of my tattered body, and all over the jungle floor will be fragments of John McTiernan's classic. Even if I ain't got time to bleed, you'll see the 1987 Schwarzenegger flick spilling out all over the damn place.

The woosh woosh of the Predator scanning his surroundings. The minigun that cleared out an acre of trees in thirty seconds. The dead scorpion in predator vision. The yousonuvabitch handshake between Arnie and Apollo Creed. Hawkin's simultaneously teaching me about the birds and the bees and how sound reverberates in a vast chamber. I have seen that movie so many f--king times, it's a part of me. Hell, a part of us, as each of my three brothers feel the same way.

But my sister? My twenty-eight year old baby sister? She's never seen it. Like, never ever.

Violet was infinitely curious as this poster adorned our local theater for months.
Which likely explains why she absolutely adored Shane Black's latest entry into the Predator franchise. Bouncing and clapping along and just having a merry f--king time was my sister Tatianna, who, after we had just got home from Monster-Mania Con [wrap], straight-up devoured her first taste of the outer-space skull collectors.

For me, however, The Predator was just the latest film featuring those ugly muddafuckas that desperately lacked the sublime magic of the original. Oh, it's not terrible by any stretch. It's just not, you know, Predator.

After its ship crashes on Earth, a Predator gets into a bit of a kerfuffle with soldiers who were on some sort of hostage-rescue mission. An army-ranger type dude named McKenna, kicks its ass a bit, and in the process gets a hold of some sweet alien tech. Worried that the government will frame/kill him, he mails himself the iconic helmet as a potential bargaining chip later on down the road. Unfortunately, his autistic son opens the package and, obviously, wears the badass helmet to go trick-or-treating.

While that's good news for the kid, it's bad news for everyone else, as the helmet/mask thing acts as a beacon which the Predator can follow to get its gear back. Of course it does this, but not before gloriously murdering a room full of dudes in lab coats in the meantime. Though it doesn't kill everyone, as it thankfully decides to spare a naked woman. Yep. Even the most elite sport hunters in the galaxy aren't total dicks. 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

I was spellbound.

I'll watch your kids.

Assuming, that is, you're desperate enough to ask me. I'll talk to them, I'll feed them (take them to the King of Burgers, in fact), I'll even play with the little goofballs. Shoot, I'll even cleannnnn.....up after them (I'm a dude, so bath time's at your house). The whole nine.

I don't even need money, or a gift card (though they are appreciated) - absolutely no payment is required. And quite honestly, I don't even need reciprocation.

All I ask, all I require, is that eventually, perhaps even as soon as possible... is that you, after whatever it was you were doing that afternoon/evening...eventually come back and get them.

We good? Good.

Significantly better than good (but not quite great), was A Simple Favor, the latest film from (cue announcer voice) the dark side of Paul Feig. Based on a novel by Darcey Bell, this seemingly innocuous tale of friendship gone awry, initially presents itself as a bit of a fish-out-of-water comedy. But as the plot starts to unravel, any singular thing you might have penciled in as objective truth dissipates into a bloody handful of glitter, leaving you questioning the actions and motivations of everyone involved.

As much as it wants to f--k with your head, A Simple Favor is primarily a dark comedy, one that's an alluring mix of silly and sexy. Think of the most hysterical blowjob you've ever given/received and you're on the right track. Sure, some of the cutesy f--kery can be a bit much, but then you remember that that's Anna Kendrick onscreen, and well, all is immediately forgiven. Or forgotten. Sorry...someone mentioned Anna Kendrick?

Oh, right. I did.

Anna Kendrick, er, Stephanie Smothers, is your typical small-town movie widow: impossibly awkward yet way too hot to ever truly remain single. Stephanie, a doting mom, runs a moderately successful vlog, but still seems friendless and alone. Cue a mysterious amazon named Emily, skulking about with the heavy-footed grace of someone unburdened by f--ks to give. Steph and Emily (the names of my sister-in-laws, in an odd turn of events) have boys in the same elementary school, and over playdates and mixed drinks become fast friends. Turns out, Emily's gotta head out of a town for a bit, and if wouldn't be too much trouble, asks the astonishingly bubbly Steph to watch her son. Sure. She'd love to. *spits out drink* Wait, you can say that without being sarcastic? Who knew?

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Thanks Dad :)

I think any father has thought about what they would do in that situation. What action they would take if their child went missing. It's not a game I enjoy, but sometimes my mind wants to play it, so of course, I've kicked it around a few times...

Earlier in the baseball season I lost my son at a Phillies game, after he failed to hear/comprehend the let's head this way command. It was probably the longest forty-five seconds of my life, but luckily that's all it was. He did the right thing and told the nearest police officer that he'd lost his family, and before they could even begin the search, we'd doubled back and reunited.

But my original plan, if one of my kids went missing? The one I've given some thought to? Oh, it's simple: absolutely lose my f--king mind. 

Good thing, unlike me, David Kim's an actual adult, capable of solving problems involving those he loves the most. Starring the impossibly-underrated John Cho as the aforementioned Mr. Kim, Aneesh Chaganty's Searching is a gut-wrenching thriller you definitely need to check out. And as cool as it was to see on the big screen, turns out, it might just be better to catch it on your laptop. Wait, what?

Taking place solely on a lone computer screen, Searching ups the found-footage ante to eleven in the clever presentation of a desperate father's frantic scramble for his missing daughter. While it works better than Unfriended [review] - which I remember liking a bit -  there are still some moments and scenes where you're gonna have to shut your eyes before they role out of your f--king head.

Maybe you kids see nothing wrong with every moment of every day being live-streamed by everyone, but there were a few occasions where things got pretty ridiculous. Maybe I'm just not on YouTube when the local news streams footage of a car being pulled out of a lake, or I've never logged into a live broadcast of a f--king funeral, but these moments seemed beyond absurd. (rambles the guy on his blog)

Monday, October 1, 2018

Monster Mania Con 41: Wrap and Crap

Having two highly-deviant older brothers, I grew up watching a lot of horror flicks. While they were likely in it for the requisite shower scenes, I was too young to be enthralled by a soapy co-ed. At least initially. Instead of focusing on the double-d's, I was more fixated on the double v's. That is, the villains and the violence. Yeah, those two were doing something in the bed, but did you see how Jason jammed a spear through both of them? Wowzers.

But if there was anything I was even more obsessed with than late 80s/early 90s horror, it was the simple act of acquiring the indecipherable scribbles of someone other people had heard of. Or, as you might put it, collecting autographs. Never to sell, but always to gawk at, I spent too many nights writing letters to moderately famous...athletes, in hopes of getting a much sought after Herbie Hancock. 

If only three decades later, an event would be held near my house where my two long-forgotten obsessions could coalesce into a writhing orgy of unrelenting nerdiness. 

If only.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Who bit your boner?

Gary Maynard was the second film professor I'd ever encountered. And maybe my favorite.

While he looked like the lead singer of The Verve, he moved and sounded like Professor Frink from The Simpsons.  When he would introduce a film, he would almost always describe one of the characters as milquetoast, which perhaps unsurprisingly, was the perfect noun to describe Professor Maynard.

Other students who took the class because Bro, all you do is watch movies made fun of him behind his back, but I f--king adored this dude. You just knew, he was living his dream. And when he casually turned our MC 270 - Techniques of the Cinema class into solely a study of film noir, you could tell it was for no other reason than it was his favorite genre. Quickly, I became a fan. Night of the Hunter was so good, and Double Indemnity was even better. Before long, I knew all the hallmarks of the genre.

Except, you know, f--king puppets.

And the award for Most Apt Title in the history of cinema goes to...
And you can emphasize that either way, frankly, when slogging your way through The Happytime Murders. Because not only is this film about actual f--king puppets, but also about puppets actually f--king. And quite vigorously, at that.

Ah, late summer - you vengeful bitch. Not only was the latter part of August the cruel reminder that I would soon have to go back to work, but it's was also where all the bad movies go to die. And with the clock ticking on time I still had to waste, foolishly, I took my wife to the f--king puppet movie.

Why? Well, I figured as absurd as the whole premise appeared, The Happytime Murders simply wouldn't exist unless the film weren't utterly f--king hysterical. Combining that (horribly misguided) logic with the fact that Melissa McCarthy playing a hard-ass cop in an R-rated comedy (not to mention she needed to atone for the shit-tastic Life of the Party [review]) and the laughs were seemingly guaran-f--king-teed. Yeah, about that.

Instead, the only thing guaranteed was a mostly unfunny tale of murder and revenge starring a grizzled ex-cop named Phil and his estranged human partner, Connie (McCarthy). Of course, their past is decidedly checkered with Phil having inadvertently shot an innocent puppet in a bust gone wrong. And on that fateful day, Connie took a hit and ended up with a, you guessed it, puppet vagina liver. No. Really.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

The great game continues...

I would have looked you in the eye and said it was five miles, easily, but according to Google Maps, it was only one point four. Whatever the distance may have been, the mileage was more or less irrelevant: the walk home from the bus stop was treacherous.

Along the route there were many obstacles a middle school kid could encounter, many factors that could make the trek tumultuous.
  1. Oppressive heat (afternoons in Hawai'i? Might hit 82 degrees)
  2. Rogue elementary students, swinging bookbags and/or throwing rocks
  3. High school kids driving by (and being dicks)
  4. Weird old people that wanted to say hello for an hour.
  5. Shortcuts that not only weren't shorter, but were littered with a generous amount of kiawe thorns (Google it, I dare you) just waiting to tear your shi(r)t up
  6. And, if you wanted to take an actual shortcut across the golf course, an overzealous Marshall, waiting to bust us
But to be quite frank with you, none of this along the way stuff ever really bothered me. In fact, it was the calm before the storm. Because when I got close to home, like almost there, I-can-see-our-roof level of closeness? That's when all hell broke loose. The final stretch.

That's when the shit really hit the fan.

OPTION 4: See another movie.
Mile 22 isn't about an annoying kid trudging home from school, but instead tells the tale of a covert group of hardasses attempting to get an informant from point A to point B. Brimming with an overzealousness that borders on f--king hysterical and cobbled together with the grace of flaming sledgehammer, Peter Berg's latest collaboration with Mark Wahlberg is a tactical strike gone horribly wrong. And as we search through the rubble for survivors, there's one overwhelming positive: only a few people were foolish enough to be in the theater when the (box-office) bomb went off.

I may be enjoying the smell of my own farts too much, sure, but good God Mile 22 is a chaotic mess. And not in a good way. The story is simple enough (dude knows some stuff, people want to kill dude, America must protect dude during twenty-two mile trip to airport), and the actors are all game (f--king John Malkovich is in this!), but the wheels fall off almost immediately. Good thing I stayed around till the end, because, and this is likely because I'm a moron, but...that shit was a banger.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Why you actin' like you ain't got skin in the game?

I didn't vote for Donald Trump.

Since I have eyes and ears (not to mention a brain and a heart), I never even considered it. But being that there was (supposedly) no way in Hell the obnoxious prick from The Apprentice could possibly be voted in to our nation's highest office, what I did consider, with a sort of morbid fascination at the time, was what the future would be like if he somehow pulled it off.

But I couldn't come up with anything that made sense, you know? Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos, jokingly echoed through my head (about that brain I mentioned earlier? Scratch that.) when I imagined this exceedingly far-fetched scenario. 

How was this guy going to change things so drastically? President Obama was the most radically different person I'd ever seen in office, and everything still felt...normal, right? How could Trump really change our future?

Turns out, by making it a lot like our past. 

As it's been just under a month since I've seen Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman, safe to say I've had some time to sit and think about. And while most films tend to dissipate in the noise of life (and it's been especially noisy as of late), remarkably, I still haven't been able to shake this one off. Which shouldn't be surprising, considering it's so f--king heavy.

At times?

See, the (mostly true?) story of Ron Stallworth (a fantastically droll John David Washington) starts innocently enough, with the young man joining the Colorado Springs Police Department back in the early seventies. Initially banished to the records department, Ron desperately wants to do more, and is reassigned to work undercover. His first gig? To check out a meeting the local black student union is hosting. There, Ron meets a lovely young lady, the politically-charged president, Patrice. Sparks don't necessarily fly, and Ron's going to have to work the long game.

Good thing his career is on the fast track, however, as Ron is not only reassigned again (to the intelligence division) in record time, but somehow manages to infiltrate the local chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in the blink of an eye. While it didn't take more than a phone call to get the invite, Ron can't exactly reach out an touch a white supremacist someone. Instead, he recruits an impossibly reluctant co-worker named Flip Zimmerman, played by the perpetually unimpressed (though thoroughly impressive) Adam Driver. Together, they'll play the character of Ron Stallworth: Proud American/Racist F--kface.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Promise me you won't ever watch that video.

I guess the hook in the car door is pretty stupid when you think about it. Same for the call that came from inside the house! I'm not even sure how that one's even possible.

And as a kid growing up in Hawai'i, we had the Nightmarchers, who as I recall, were spirits that lined up single file and, well, marched toward you. At night. Even worse, was the local Hawaiian belief that you should never, never ever never, whistle at night, or tiny demon spirit things (menehunes? obake?) would descend upon you, sending you to the depths of madness.

Whatever the legend was around where you grew up, I'm sure in hindsight, it's pretty f--king stupid if given the slightest amount of rational thought. But whatever it is, whatever it is that you and your friends told each about other all those years ago? I absolutely guarantee you one thing.

It's scarier than f--king Slender Man.

Just kidding, of course, as the Slender Man movie is thoroughly f--king terrifying from beginning to end. Assuming, of course, you're afraid of Freddy Krueger. Wait, what?

Possibly the most boring 'horror' film I have ever seen, director Sylvain White's latest had me wishing I was the one who had mysteriously vanished on a high school field trip to the, you guessed it, creepy old cemetery. Based on an urban legend I am infinitely too old to give a f--k about, this suckfest takes every horror trope you've ever known and somehow makes them even more...trope-y. Assuming that's  even a thing/possible. It was summer, and I was a carefree fool, and still, I did all I could to not fall asleep.

Here we have teenage girls doing what teenage girls do: f--king around online late at night. After nervously laughing at some porn, they decide to check out some lame-ass video you're not supposed to watch. Think The Ring but minus all the hair brushing, dead horses and ladder-play. Days later, everybody is having visions of a downtrodden Jack Skellington silently rehearsing This is Halloween in the woods. Big f--king deal, right? Right. Just turn around. Don't look at him. He's in a shitty tux and skulking about like the Cloverfield monster. It's not like he's Jason Momoa Voorhees with his dick hanging out. Assuming you're able to (mostly) stand, it's fair to say you can outmaneuver this lanky a-hole.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Squeaky clean, so to speak.

My cousin Tony used to call it the two dollar theater, because, shocking no one, all the shows were only two bucks. While I'd never (necessarily) turn down a trip to the movies, chances were if a flick had made it to the cheap seats and I hadn't seen it? Well, there was probably a good reason.

But on the off chance we would go? It was always kind of cool, you know? It was like a f--king time machine. Like, Oh, yeah. I remember this. 

Now, uh, can we get the f--k outta here...and go back to the real deal?

During the height of MoviePass' extended period of good f--king luck seeing a movie tonight, my wife and I managed to catch Ocean's 8 at our local two-dollar theater a few weeks back. But being that it's 2018 and not 1998, make that the five dollar theater, we caught Ocean's 8 at. That spy movie with Kelso's girlfriend was going to get us home too late, so we basically had no other choice.

And while maybe it truly was the sticky floors and broken chairs of the once-esteemed South York Cinema, let's just say the whole evening felt dated and unnecessary. Even if I was surrounded by eight, er, nine lovely ladies...

Debbie Ocean has just got out of jail, and instead of drifting about and getting a job as a school bus driver like every other ex-con, she immediately swan dives back into her sexy, criminal lifestyle. In lieu of push-ups and finding religion, Danny Ocean's sister planned and schemed her next big score for every day of her five-year sentence. She's run the numbers over and over, and apparently, her math isn't just good, it's f--king exceptional. All she has to do is put together a rag-tag crew of one-trick ponies, and bickety-bam, justice, vengeance and maybe even a little decadence are hers for the taking. The only problem? Oh, right.

There is no problem.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Anybody up for some shenanigans?

Jonah Hex has one. So does Doctor Strange.

Hellboy has two. And his name is Hellboy. Blade? The Daywalker has a trilogy, for crying out loud (even if I don't count the last one, honestly). And the Fantastic Four? However many they have...well, it's too many. And speaking of too many, I still wake up with visions of Dr. Manhattan's um, giant stethoscope, swinging through the sky. Yikes.

My point, if there is one, is I get it. It seems like all kinds of superheroes - including those of the once obscure variety - have had their movie made. Heck, maybe even their own franchise.

I mean, Hollywood once gave the green light to Green Lantern. 

While Hollywood is likely searching for yet another Batman to light up a marquee, poor Robin has yet to get his big chance. He's painfully aware that it's probably never coming, either. Painfully, self-aware, in fact.

In this summer's Teen Titans GO! To the Movies, based on the ubiquitous Cartoon Network show of the same name, the Dark Knight's sidekick hilariously laments this cruel reality with his sidekicks, the Teen Titans. Though the animated flick starts out as a rainbow explosion of sight gags and fart jokes, it quickly becomes incredibly subversive and beyond self-referential. If you've seen the show, you know what to expect. And if you haven't? This might be a good place to start.

After getting embarrassed at a big premiere, Robin decides that he and the rest of the Titans need to immediately leave Jump City and head to Hollywood. There, they meet leading-director Jade Wilson (that name sounds familiar, hmm), and she bluntly tells them the only way they'd ever get their own movie, is if they were the last superheroes on the planet. So what does Robin do? Um, quite brilliantly, he undoes every origin story. 

I mean, there is no Batman...if Bruce's parents never get killed. 

Friday, August 17, 2018

I'm beginning to see why you guys enjoy this so much.

Hey, Dr. Jones. No time for love!

I've gone on record likely too many times saying this, but I hate, absolutely loathe, the passionate goodbye kiss when the fate of the world is in play. The end of days is in your hands and you take a moment to clean someone's teeth with your tongue? Ridiculous on so many levels. The clock's ticking, dickhole. If you saved the entire f--king world, pretty sure the line to go down on you starts two streets over.


...when that same hero (or heroine) chooses against saving the world and instead saves someone that means something to them? I'm beyond cool with that. How can you let someone you care about die directly in front of you? You can't. Imagine if you kept the detonator, walked away, saved the planet, only to find out your loved one survived getting shot in the face?

That would be, like, so embarrassing. 

The only thing embarrassing about Mission: Impossible Fallout is how little I remember about the story. Kicking off shortly after the events of the stellar Rogue Nation [review] (whatever they were), Ethan Hunt finds himself forced between saving his friend and, you guessed it, saving the world. Unfortunately for the rest of, Hunt chooses his (and let's be honest, our) main dude, Marsellus Wallace. Er, Luther. The badass computer dude of the IMF team.

Hey, that's cool - the CIA will totally be cool with Hunt's loyalty, till they aren't, and assign a mustachioed rock-monster named Walker to aid Hunt in undoing what he done did, which is f--k the Hell up. See letting Luther live allowed some nuclear components to enter the hands of some unsavory types. Hunt and his crew gotta get that shit back, and Walker's gonna make sure they don't f--k up again. No pressure, really. Just imagine your boss standing over your desk every second of the day. And even worse? He's staring deep into your soul at all times, cocking his arms. Or arming his cock...whichever one makes you more nervous.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Hey...I misjudged you.

You respectable types probably never do this, but being that I often get in way over my head, I, uh...well...I sometimes go back and re-read the plot synopsis of a movie I'm about to make a post on. Feels good finally saying it out loud.

I know, I know - it's pretty f--king embarrassing how terrible my memory can be, but despite stumbling around like a moron half the day, there's a lot going on upstairs, you know? I mean, how can you remember what a movie was about, when your head is full of baseball stats and the lyrics to 90 percent of every pop song ever recorded.

But even after watching it two nights in a the events of the film? I still couldn't tell you what the f--k it was about. And I read it twice. 

The good news? Even though I really can't tell you what the mission was exactly, I can, with exquisite detail, tell you that I f--king loved Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation. I had so much fun, in fact, I was actually upset. Like, why the Hell did I wait three years to see this? 

Had I not looked it up, I would have told you this one was about the usual double-agent stuff...a list of operatives has gone missing, everyone's in danger, and Tom Cruise is gonna slow-motion jump through a window.

Turns out, most (if not all) of that is untrue, and this fifth installment instead finds the IMF being folded into the uncaring arms of the CIA. Ethan Hunt (possibly the long-dead CGI version of a 33 year old Tom Cruise) is desperately trying to prove his teams' worth to a government agency that ain't exactly feeling it. Yeah, Hunt and his crew always get the job done, but often at a spectacular cost. Just ask any one trying to take a selfie in front of the Kremlin.

Apparently, there's some mysterious/imaginary group of terrorist known as The Syndicate, and shocking no one, these a-holes are major fans of creating utter f--king chaos. Turns out they are going to assassinate some chancellor dude, and Hunt secretly enlists Benji (Simon Pegg) to thwart the hit. They do, sort of, and the game is officially on. Already beautiful people will continue their seemingly genetic lucky hand and pull off some of the most insane and daring things all in the name of world peace. Meaning?

Bullets will be dodged. Gadgets will be deployed. And, of course...faces will be torn off.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Humans? Monsters? What's the difference?

This November, my wife and I (assuming she hasn't eaten my head like a lady praying mantis) will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. Mr. Piven, your thoughts?

While the weekend getaway is always nice, at this point, staying at a hotel again is a bit played out. Not that I wouldn't enjoy myself, mind you, but I'm thinking my wife would like something a little more rewarding for putting up my brand of nonsense for a decade. Something a little more...beachy, perhaps. But being that we live in lame-ass Pennsylvania six weeks shy of Christmas, I don't think sun and fun are something we could pull of in a short amount of time. Unless, of course...we went on a cruise.

But who wants to spend valuable time stuck on a boat with a bunch of a-holes?

Perhaps surprisingly, after seeing Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, I'd be all for the open ocean, even if we too, were headed to the Bermuda Triangle. Sure, a cruise is essentially a hotel on water, but if it's this much fun, who cares?

Yes (possibly ex) friends, the third installment of a franchise that absolutely no one asked to go this long turned out to be a pretty good time. My wife had fun, the kids had fun, and even though I thoroughly loathed the second one [review], Hell, I had fun. 

A long, long time ago, Drac and his crew were attempting to travel by train when that goofy bastard Van Helsing showed up and tried to kill the whole lot of them. Ever since, Van Helsing has been obsessed with hunting Drac, the same way Elmer Fudd always twies to kill that wascally wabbit. But no matter how far he shoves that gun down the hole, Van Helsing always shoots himself in the face.

Fast forward a bajillion years, and we catch up with a lonely Drac scouring his phone in an attempt to meet a lady. Poor dude has been a widow for over a century, and even if he's got his sexy daughter and her family to keep him busy (um, and the hotel), he can't help but long for the warm embrace of a lady vampire. Aww.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

This is stupid.

Take five minutes and look up the Kyle Maynard story. Go ahead, I'll wait. Hell, you probably won't even need all five of them to believe.

Born with a condition that prevented him from developing limbs, this dude decided at an early age to be an absolute powerhouse. And though I saw his story years ago, it's never left me. Kyle has no arms and no legs. And he wanted to be a MMA fighter. And he did.

While many disabled people simply want to be treated like the rest of us, let's not really kid ourselves, okay? They are not like the rest of us. 

They're better.

While Kyle Maynard fought his entire actual life, in Skyscraper, fellow amputee the fictional Will Sawyer (Dwayne Johnson, continuing his streak of great fun in not-so-great movies), will fight for one incredibly long day. And a helluva day it turns out to be.

After losing his leg in a horrific blast years prior, we meet up with Sawyer as a loving husband and humble father of two, simply trying to make ends meet. He's left the S.W.A.T. team far behind, and is currently running a small security company. Inexplicably, he gets hired by a mysterious zillionaire to determine if there are any security concerns in the world's tallest building, a 225-story behemoth known as The Pearl. Turns out, there's a few. 


Not an hour after his presentation, the seemingly gentle-giant Sawyer straight up murders a dude. Sure, it was in self-defense, but good God this is a man that clearly, is not to be f--ked with. But what do some low-level gangster types do? Something worse than f--king with Sawyer. They f--k with his family. And shocking no one, he ain't exactly having that. And even with one leg, The Rock, yet again, is kicking twice as much ass. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The American people don't need this!

Twelve hours...and I can do anything I want? Like, anything-anything? That sounds f--king fantastic.

I've got it. I know exactly what I would do, motherf--ker. Exactly. *rubs hands together, Mr. Burns-style*

But, it still considered a nap if you do it for half a day?

Somebody in Marketing needs a raise. And probably a passport.
It's not that The First Purge was sleep-inducing or anything, but this was the only time in four films I thoroughly didn't give a shit. Dialing the series back to how the annual night of lawlessness began was a solid (if unsurprising) way to further the lore, but the results are mixed at best. Maybe it's because series creator James DeMonaco finally didn't direct his own script (he was three for three prior), or maybe seeing how it all began was simply... redundant. I mean, we all know how the Purge began, or well, will begin. It's f--king happening all around us.

Turns out, the (fictional) initial Purge was a bit of a bust. Confined to Staten Island, most people just wanted to get high and dance in the streets like coke-fueled MC Skat Kats. These opposites don't attract however, and the recently-elected New Founding Fathers of America (the NFFA, derp) have a big f--king problem on their hands. After going all in on this absurd/brilliant (if you're Thanos) concept, the NFFA see firsthand that America, well, a certain segment of it, ain't exactly all about the murdering of their neighbors. Even if you pay them to do it.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

You are the World's Greatest Grandma.

My wife, seated three seats to my right, leaned forward, beaming. She was saying something, but with my brother Bryan next to me, and Violet next to him, I couldn't make it out. The house lights were coming on, and all the rookies were leaving.

She basically doubles over, saying, I said, 'pretty much the best Marvel movie ever', right?

I nodded. And then sat back, disappearing behind my brother, who, along with Violet, may or may not just have rejoined the grownups in consciousness.

Best Marvel movie ever? It barely makes the top three. Of this year.

It's not that I didn't like Ant-Man and the Wasp, it was fine, but I honestly don't think I was ready for how small small-scale would be. Obviously, following the universe-enveloping events of Avengers: Infinity War [review] is an unenviable task for just about any comic book film - I get that. And of course, someone had to take that bullet/vicious finger snap and be up next, so I commend Peyton Reed and his crew endlessly. But, even as it was happening, the more I thought about the second Ant-Man flick, the less I cared.

It's not that I don't get it, of course I would drop everything for Michelle Pfeiffer - who wouldn't? But heading into the Quantum Realm to rescue the original Wasp wasn't as intriguing as I hoped it would be. I don't know how to explain it, but I wanted more Ant-Man. And more Wasp. I'm not even sure this is possible, but I felt like neither of them were in the movie that much. Hank's fine, Luis is beyond awesome, the secondary dudes in the crew absolutely slay. There's not a character I don't like.

But during all the silly bickering and back-and-forth, what I found charming in the first film...felt like filler. The daughter (adorable as she was), the villain (cool as she was), both great, but haven't we got bigger fish to fry, ladies? Purple Cable is (about to be?) up in the sky tossing Uhura off a cliff and we're down here arguing over a tackle box? C'mon.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A creature from the future, made with parts from the past.

A Chinese Lantern.
William Shakepeare's signature. 
The elusive Albino Humpback. 
Someone genuinely excited about Scarlett Johansson's next role.

In an age of copies and mass production, it's a good thing the world still offers up something unique and rare on occasion. Something we can gaze upon and collectively marvel at its overwhelming scarcity. The kind of thing that you'd turn to the person next to you and say:

Wow. I didn't even know that was possible.

It's funny that it took a theatrical showing of something as derivative as Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom for me to realize that my own niece and nephew, ages 15 and 12 respectively, had never seen a freakin' Jurassic Park movie. I didn't know this astounding fact when I invited them (and my father-in-law) to a mid-week screening. Frankly, it was a good thing too, because I probably wouldn't have let them tag along otherwise. I mean, what responsible uncle/movie nerd lets his own family walk into a part FIVE without at least a ten to four-hundred slide PowerPoint about Dr. John Hammond and the nefarious InGen Corporation. 

Think about that for a second. Two kids, both of a (previously believed) perfectly normal and appropriate upbringing, had, in a home with many screens, somehow avoided what one could argue is the most popular film franchise of all-time...and it absolutely made my life to let them in on it. When we walked out of the movie, these two normally reserved goofballs were ablaze with nerdy questions and comments about what we'd just seen unfold. If I have a better time at a movie this or any year, tell my wife and kids (and Dodger) I loved them all, because I probably died during it.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

I actually kind of like that.

Remember when Chris Webber called a timeout he didn't have against North Carolina (and narrowly missed traveling before that...)? Or when he dunked on Sir Charles after going behind the back on an outlet from Spree? Of course you do. Who doesn't?

Hell, what about that time Nate Robinson threw down over Spud Webb to win the dunk contest? That was nuts. Almost as crazy as when he jumped on Big Baby's back to form Shrek and Donkey in the Finals for the C's.

Shaq (/Neon Boudreaux) has too many moments, right? Like when he brought down the hoop against the Nets. Or when he so delicately declared, Kobe. Tell me how my tastes.

But nothing tops Reggie Miller destroying Spike Lee and the Knicks in the 1995 Eastern Conference Finals. The next day at practice our coach had to ask everyone to cut the shit with choke signing everyone after a made three. As stupid and pointless as it was, we couldn't help ourselves.

I also couldn't help myself from seeing Uncle Drew, as stupid and pointless as it was. Hell, even if I didn't have an eight-year old son who lives and breathes all things N.B.A, being a lifelong hoophead/bad movie aficionado?This flick, based on a series of Pepsi commercials (!) -of all things- was 100% must-see cinema.

Uncle Drew, played by current NBA all-star Kyrie Irving (who I completely hated as a Cav, but endlessly respect as a Celtic), is an old-school playground legend. And when local good-guy Dax (Lil Rey Howery aka the funny dude in Get Out [review]) loses his Rucker tournament team at the last minute, he begrudgingly turns to the old timer for help. Uncle Drew is in, uh...rather long as Dax gives him the full LeBron, and lets him assemble and run the team. Meaning? Naturally, we've got to get the gang back together The Muppets [review] style with an epic and episodic (and utterly nonsensical) road-trip. Apparently, nobody has a cell phone. Got all that? Good. But, guess what?

It doesn't matter, even if you don't.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, a 'film' starring old NBA players about even older streetball legends isn't exactly rocket science. Hell, Uncle Drew isn't even Weird Science. It's almost offensively predictable and impossibly bland, but in a shocking turn of events...still pretty damn amusing. Um, assuming you absolutely love the NBA. And watching men have a dance-off. Both of which, I'm a firm supporter of, truth be told.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

She isn't gone.

I should have just went to sleep.

Yeah, I was a little bit spooked, sure, but it was late. No one would have questioned me if I had gone straight to bed.

But I couldn't get it out of my head, you know? There was no way I was going to fall asleep. Not with that massive f--king burden coursing through me.

So when she asked me how was it? I did the worst thing possible you could do to someone who doesn't like horror movies: I told her. Everything

Why would you tell me this? Why? 

Um, because trust me, letting you find out on your own is worse. Way worse.

Hereditary, written and directed by Ari Aster, has pretty much permanently f--ked me up. I'm not sure I ever wanted to see some of the things I saw that night, and goddamn it, now I can't unsee them. And because of that, I really want you to see them, too.

I was (unfortunately?) raised on horror movies as a little kid so I'd argue my tolerance for scary shit is pretty high, but needless to say, I wasn't prepared for this one. As the film opens, Annie (Toni Collette, who I assume hates sleeping. And joy.) is giving the eulogy for her recently departed mother. Turns out, ol' grandma was a bit of a handful, and may have been batshit crazy. And grandma's favorite kid? It's not Peter, Annie's high-school aged son. Nope. It's Charlie. Annie's infinitely creepy middle school daughter who will straight-up haunt my nightmares til the day I die. 


I know it's basically after the fact, but I'd still rather not spoil anything for those of you lucky enough to have not seen this film (still not sure if I should add yet to the end of that sentence). Safe to say the next hour and fifty minutes will absolutely knock you on your f--king ass, even if your audience was as shitty and distracting as mine. Sure, I left the theater hollow and a healthy combination of confused/disappointed (I initially thought it went waaaaay off the rails in the last twenty minutes), but after talking with my sister [who has seen this movie more than once] I think most of my questions have been answered. So if you've seen it, give me another minute or two of your time and let's talk it out below. And if you haven't? Good f--king luck.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Done properly, parenting is a heroic activity.

I've mentioned it before, but I tried instituting a We Go To The Movies policy with my wife and son a few Christmases back. Shocking no one, neither of the passengers in my car were on-board, and good ol' Dad ended up being the only one having any fun. Welp, scratch that, shall we? But, uh, isn't Christmas really about what Dad wants?


Okay, fine. We'll never do that again. But on Father's Day, dammit...
We Go To The Movies. 

And this past Father's Day? We did. But how it all shook down? Let's just say it was Incredible.

But more on that in a bit.

No, lie. I love doing laundry. Even love folding it.
But putting it away? Uh.....
Like pretty much everybody else walking the planet, I was a big fan of 2004's The Incredibles. Clearly Brad Bird's first go-round with the Parr family stuck with me, as I ended up naming my kids Dash and Violet years after the fact. (fine, Matty's middle name is Dashiell, as I wimped out at the hospital - but still). Not only was I looking forward to finally catching up with the family of supers fourteen years later, but safe to say I pretty stoked to have both my kids by my side as well. Uh...about that.

Anyway, I'm happy to report that Incredibles 2 is easily as good as the first film, if not better. Picking up immediately after the conclusion of the '04 film (always a nice touch, right?), Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl and the kids defeat the Underminer in a thrilling and chaotic clash beneath the city. Unfortunately, as these things tend to go, the collateral damage is too much, and once again superheroes are forced back into hiding. Scarlett Witch feels their pain.

Luckily the Deavors, a rich set of siblings, contact the Parrs, and in honor of their late father, decide to launch an epic PR campaign to get the Incredibles (and other costumed crime-fighters) back in the good graces of society. While Mr. Incredible is beyond excited, it takes his wife Helen a little longer to get on board. Good thing the Deavors want to feature her first, leaving Bob to go from being Mr. Incredible to Mr. Mom.

Monday, July 2, 2018

You work with what you got, not with what you hoped for.

I'm good for at least three or four a year.

One to two of them are adults only, meaning our anniversary or my wife's birthday. I say it's because she needs a break, but I think everybody involved (including my wife) sees through that selfless gesture. The other two are with the kids, and are usually the respite after a hellacious inter-state car ride that would make even Clark W. Griswold turn this damn car around. 

Clearly, the whole point of staying at a hotel is to relax and recharge your batteries. But whether it's alone with my wife, or together with my kids...I'm typically ten times more exhausted checking out then checking in.

Even if the reasons are wildly different (ahem), when it comes to a hotel stay, I can't get a decent night's sleep.

After getting less than nine hours sleep Monday and Tuesday night combined, I foolishly decided to celebrate the last day of school with a Wednesday matinee showing of Drew Pearce's Hotel Artemis. 

I raced to the theater high on the smell of empty lockers and disinfectant, knowing that this flick was about to begin the nine weeks of heaven I had earned for the previous ten months of Hell. But being that I had (kind of) already begun the celebration with consecutive trips to see the Red Sox buttf--k the Orioles (getting home after one AM each night), I overestimated just how far pure f--king elation would carry me. In short, I fell the f--k asleep.

Not entirely, which would have been nice, but more like the way my grandfather would nod off at the dinner table: long blinks at first, followed by the slow and steady drooping of the head, culminating in that awful snap back + snarl/snort combo. What'd I miss?

From what I gather, Jodie Foster is The Nurse, a kind older woman who runs a hotel/urgent care clinic in downtown Los Angeles. Hiding in plain site, this facility serves criminals and all sorts of bad mamma jammas, but only for members that are down with a set of non-negotiable rules. Think that badass hotel in the John Wick movies, minus the class and charm. The Artemis is kind of a shit-hole.