Tag Archives: Comedy

Review: Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

mike-and-dave-poster
via Cinergetica

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates (2016)

R / 98 mins

Adventure / Comedy / Romance

Starring: Adam Devine, Zac Efron, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza

Director: Jake Szymanski


Craigslist is a wonderful thing.  It’s easy to post and sell your things without having to worry about shipping costs and all the other stuff that comes with shipping packages around the world.  Instead people come to you and buy your stuff with cold hard cash.  I’m oversimplifying it (a lot) but it really is a great thing.  As it turns out, you can also use the website to find wedding dates.  In Mike and Dave Needing Wedding Dates, the movie from writers Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O’Brien (Neighbors), Mike and Dave…well, need wedding dates so they go to Craigslist to find their lucky ladies.  Just like their idea, the movie is stupidly funny but not that great.

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via College Movie Review

Mike (Adam Devine) and Dave (Zac Efron) Stangle are a pair of party-hard brothers who always seem to screw up every family function they attend, whether it’s a birthday, anniversary or family reunion.  They always cross the line and things go south really quickly, as shown in the film’s introductory moments.  By the request of their father, the two are asked to attend their sister’s (Sugar Lyn Beard) wedding with two wedding dates that will keep the pair in check.  After a tedious and thorough process (involving Craigslist and a gross amount of blind dates) the two stumble upon two very “respectable as f***” ladies, Alice (Anna Kendrick) and Tatiana (Aubrey Plaza).  The girls are a wild pair but they keep themselves under control just long enough for them to get the chance to attend the wedding in Hawaii with Mike and Dave.  Let the shenanigans begin!

As far as story goes, Mike and Dave is pretty boilerplate when it comes to crazy wedding comedies.  The movie gives us nutty family members, a stressed out bride, a rehearsal dinner gone wrong, and lots of alcohol-fueled antics.  The film doesn’t do anything to change up the formula and as a result we get a largely uninteresting story.

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via Tribute

Despite the unoriginal script, there’s a lot of stupidly hilarious R-rated insanity that leads to a good bit of laughter.  Moments like a weird massage and a pre-wedding ecstasy trip gone too far make for some hilarious moments.  Writers Cohen and O’Brien are no strangers to R-rated comedic romps so anyone who’s a fan of the Neighbor movies should feel right at home here amongst the shenanigans.  There’s some downtime, sure, but there are definitely some humorous scenes that make up for it.

The most puzzling thing about this movie, however, are the two female leads, Kendrick and Plaza.  It’s almost as if they put no effort into their characters.  The girls, despite their slightly insane nature, are actually pretty boring and the two don’t do a good job of selling their characters at all.  It’s a shame because their male co-stars, Devine and Efron actually work pretty well together.  Their chemistry shows on screen and some of the movie’s funniest moments come when the two are together.  It’s just too bad this same type of chemistry can’t be said about Kendrick and Plaza, who are two very funny people.  This film could have been a lot stronger if everybody pulled their weight.

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via Main Echo

Despite the movie’s absurd moments, Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza, as well as the uninteresting story, hold it back. I really wanted to like Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates, but I was expecting a lot more out of Kendrick and Plaza.  Luckily the movie’s humorous moments prevent it from being a total wash.  I had a good time with the film, but it’s not a movie that’s going to stick with me in the long run.

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Review: BoJack Horseman Season 3

bojack s3 poster
via iMDB

BoJack Horseman (Season 3) (2016)

Netflix / TVMA

Animation / Comedy / Drama

Starring: Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie

Creator: Raphael Bob-Waksberg


I was already in love with Netflix’s BoJack Horseman after its first two seasons, but lo and behold, the show’s third season made me love the show even more.  I didn’t think it was possible.  The show manages to stay fresh while delivering its trademark dark and dry humor.  It’s a show that’s brutally honest and bend over backwards hilarious.  It also isn’t afraid to get real…super real.  (You already got a taste of this towards the latter half of season two) Show creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg has a true bona-fide hit on his hand and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be slowing down any time soon.

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via Webthieunhi

This season we have the post-Secretariat aftermath that BoJack (Will Arnett) has to maneuver himself through.  If you’ve been keeping track, the show has pretty much taken us through the gauntlet of what it’s like to be an actor in Hollywood.  The show’s first season portrayed the trials and tribulations of being an old washed-up actor while season two dove head first into the world of filming a movie.  This season, we get to watch as BoJack deals with press junkets, award shows, and the brunt of execs who want to throw script after script at him because he’s made it big with Secretariat.  In true BoJack fashion, he seems to be handling everything well (relatively, of course) but then things take a turn for the worse as friendships get tested and tried.  Remember when I said this show isn’t afraid to get real?  Yeah…this show gets pretty sobering in the later episodes.  BoJack might have approached his lowest point yet.  That says something, especially considering the fact that last season he was caught in a yacht with a teenage girl on prom night.  Just watch season two to see for yourself…

All your favorite characters, both big and small, make it back for season three.  BoJack’s feline agent, Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), is facing some hard times with her new agency and she starts to question herself as well as others.  She even finds new love.  Diane (Alison Brie), one of BoJack’s best friends, is helping him with his social media outlets, among other things.  Her and Mr. Peanutbutter’s (Paul F. Tompkins) relationship is tested once again as they continue to work out the kinks in their estranged marriage.  Finally, everyone’s favorite lazy roommate Todd (Aaron Paul) is…well, not so lazy this season.  He still has his fair share of wacky off-the-walls adventures, but the main portion of the season focuses on his new tech start-up, which focuses on giving woman a “safe place” in the cab industry.  Although it soon starts to evolve into some crazy directions.

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There aren’t too many new characters introduced this season, besides BoJack’s publicist Ana Spanikopita, voiced by Angela Bassett.  Bassett does a great job with the character, who has to put up with BoJack’s crazy shenanigans and bloated persona.  Instead, this season mainly focuses on the character we already know and love and develops them even deeper, giving us some much appreciated backstory in the way of flashbacks.  It felt like I knew the characters even more by the end.  There’s a whole episode that’s totally devoted to each character’s backstory, which happens to be one of the best episodes of the season.

I was constantly amazed by the fresh ideas that were brought to the table over and over again this season.  The same familiar humor is still abundant and healthy, but we get some cleverly written episodes that demonstrate the show’s prowess.  There’s an episode that rewinds time back to the year 2007.  Not only do we get to see all the characters and where they were at during this time, but it’s also chock full of 2007 references.  Everything from the music to the billboards.  I was laughing out loud for the entire episode.  On the other hand, we got an episode in similar vein to the silent films of the Golden Era of Hollywood.  BoJack takes a trip under the sea for an underwater film festival, but things go south as he has to care for a newborn seahorse.  He’s unable to speak (because he’s underwater), which makes for an episode devoid of conversation but full of heart and hilarity.  Despite the lack of words, it might have been the most well-written episode of the season.

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It’s not often that we get TV shows that consistently nail it out of the park every single episode.  With its third season, BoJack Horseman truly makes the mark.  It’s brilliant up and down the board.  There’s lighthearted episodes mixed with some sobering episodes, all with a heavy dose of clever and relevant humor.  The writing this season is top-notch and almost all the characters elevate in terms of development.  This season’s finale is both sad and optimistic for BoJack, who goes through a whole arsenal of emotions of the course of the season.  It only got me hopeful for what is next in the already confirmed fourth season.  You know your killing it when your fourth season gets green-lit before the premiere even airs.

bojack s3 score

Review: Central Intelligence

central intelligence poster
via Good Film Guide

Central Intelligence (2016)

PG-13 / 114 min

Comedy / Crime

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Amy Ryan

Director: Rawson Marshall Thurber


When you put Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson in a movie together, it should be pretty clear what kind of movie you’re going to get.  The two actors have some great off-screen chemistry, so buddying them up in a movie like Central Intelligence just seems like the right way to go.  In fact, the movie might not have been as good without the two stars.  Central Intelligence largely works because Hart and Johnson’s chemistry is what carries the movie.

central intelligence 1
via Filmonic

The fun begins in high school, where we are quickly introduced to Hart and Johnson’s characters.  Hart plays Calvin Joyner, the all-around cool kid at Central High.  He’s practically involved in everything and has been voted as “most likely to succeed.”  He’s the model student.  On the other hand, we have Johnson’s character, Bob Stone.  Bob Stone is his alias that he goes by, but frankly I forget his actual name. (I know it’s something similar to “weird dick”) Anyway, he’s a fat kid (The Rock was actually transformed into a fat kid, yeah I know, surprising!) who’s the target of every bully at school.  After being thrown out onto the gym floor in front of everyone at an assembly, naked, Calvin helps out Bob by giving him his varsity jacket to cover up his special parts.  This plants the seed for a future friendship.

Twenty years later, we find Calvin looks exactly the same, but he’s working as an accountant.  Not exactly the type of job he would have wanted after being voted most likely to succeed.  After sending Calvin a Facebook message asking him if he wanted to meet up, Calvin finally meets up with Bob Stone who now looks like…well, the Rock.  How did he get so jacked?  Well, he worked out six hours a day, every day for the past twenty years.  Pretty simple right?  Later that night Bob Stone, who happens to be part of the CIA, ropes Calvin into a matter of national security…one that he can’t get himself out of.  Thus, hilarity ensues.

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The Austin Chronicle

The movie is about as formulaic as a mismatched buddy comedy can be.  If there was a golden slate listing all the common tropes that these films need to contain, Central Intelligence follows it to a T.  The thing that makes the film seem fresh is the scattered bits of bullet-spraying gunplay that usually involve Johnson’s character doing all the work while Hart somehow manages to flail around without getting hit.  No surprise there, but it still leads to some funny moments.  This is the kind of movie where a banana is a credible weapon that can do some serious damage.  The movie isn’t trying to be sophisticated.  That’s not its mission.  It’s a lot of dumb fun; a movie where you turn your brain off for a little while.

There’s a lot of laughs to be had throughout the movie thanks to the signature brand of Kevin Hart comedy.  Some might find it gets old, but I personally still enjoy every minute of it.  There’s also lots of movie and pop culture references to be found, more than I was expecting, that lead to some great moments as well.  16 Candles anyone?  Some of the film’s best moments however come from the interactions between Hart and Johnson’s characters.  The actor’s chemistry shows and they instantly become very likable.  Like I previously said, the movie would have been a bore if it weren’t for these two actors taking the top spots.

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via The Wrap

Where Central Intelligence starts to break down a little is towards its ending, where plot-wise the movie starts to become a mess of who’s who. The movie’s main plotline is the identity of the mysterious Black Badger, the guy who is trying to buy some top secret intel from the CIA on black market auction sites.  Calvin and Bob’s mission is to find this guy, but there seems to be a bunch of people who are thought to be the Black Badger.  You don’t really know who the big baddie is until the movie’s final moments.  It becomes hard to follow, but once again it’s the humor from Hart and Johnson that pulls it all out of the water.

Central Intelligence isn’t a groundbreaking comedy by any means.  With a Hart and Johnson comedy, you should be well aware of the type of movie you’re signing up for.  There’s still a bunch of fun and laughs to be had however that makes this a comedy that works.  The movie might not be for everyone, but if you like Kevin Hart’s previous big-screen comedic efforts, then this should be a movie for you.

central intelligence score

Review: Day of the Tentacle Remastered

dott cover
via Entertainment Factor

Day of the Tentacle Remastered (2016)

PS4 / Rated T

Adventure

Publisher: Double Fine Productions

Developer: Double Fine Productions


Tim Schafer is a genius when it comes to adventure games, and I genuinely mean that.  All you have to do is take a look at his past work, which includes games like Grim Fandango, the Monkey Island series, Full Throttle, Maniac Mansion, and most recently Broken Age.  His latest trend, one that I wholeheartedly enjoy, is bringing some of these classics back, like Grim Fandango, as remastered versions.  Double Fine’s latest remaster project, Day of the Tentacle Remastered, brings back the wacky time-travel adventure that stars three odd-ball teenagers and one very evil purple tentacle.  The remaster beautifully modernizes the story while retaining the charm and amusement of the original.

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via multiplayer.it

You take control of the nerd Bernard Bernoulli, the weirdo Laverne, and the heavy metal roadie that goes by the name Hoagie.  They are a band of misfits that must work together to put a stop to the evil Purple Tentacle’s plans of world domination.  In order to stop Purple Tentacle in his tracks, they have to enlist the help of the mad scientist Dr. Fred and his janky time machine.  Dr. Fred attempts to send them back in time so the kids can shut off the contamination machine that is the source of Purple Tentacle’s powers, but thing’s go horribly wrong as you would expect.  The three kids are split up into three different time periods, the past, the present, and the future.  They must work together, in different eras, to bring a stop to Purple Tentacle and, in turn, save the world.

The game’s story, primarily designed by industry veterans Schafer and Dave Grossman, is consistently great and on point throughout the entire adventure.  Day of the Tentacle features a variety of comedy styles, ranging from benign potty humor to wry, sometimes dark, humor.  Every joke works well and there are a very slim few that don’t connect, even twenty years later in this day and age.  There was one early moment in particular, involving a down-on-his-luck product designer who puts a gun to his head in his hotel room, only to reveal a bright “BOOM” flag upon firing the weapon.  It was a shocking moment that still managed to paint a smile on my face.  The inclusion of time travel also makes for some great story and character moments as well.  Watching as Hoagie instilled his heavy metal slang on the founding fathers in the past makes for some great comedic material.  The story is smart and sharp all the way through till the credits roll.

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via Polygamia

What made Day of the Tentacle so unique from other adventure games of its time was its time travel mechanics and the ability to switch between the different characters in their respective time periods.  It makes for some inventive puzzles that require some smart solutions.  Speaking of puzzles, unlike most adventure games of its time, the game never had any puzzles that require obtuse or abstract solutions.  Everything that you do makes sense and I never had to bash random items together in hopes of progressing the story.  The game makes you feel smart by letting you solve the problems in logical and clever ways.  With that being said, there were still some tough solutions, especially towards the latter half of the game.  It made me wish there was a built in hint system, which these remasters seemingly never have.  The game wasn’t overtly difficult, but a little dynamic hint system would have gone a long way.

There’s a layer of polish that lathers Day of the Tentacle Remastered that delightfully brings the game to life in this modern era of games.  Every screen was reworked from the ground up, giving the game higher resolution graphics.  The art isn’t the only thing got reworked, as the music was given a remastered treatment as well.  Maybe the best part about it all is that you can switch between the remastered and classic versions of the game on the fly with one press of a button.  I constantly found myself switching between the two just to marvel in the amount of work that was put into the remaster.  There’s also the inclusion of concept art, developer commentaries, and a fully playable version of the original Maniac Mansion, a little Easter egg that could have been found in the original version as well.  This amount of work that the game’s original creators put into this version of the game shows in every nook and cranny.

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via Fan Pop

As far as remastered games go, especially adventure games, Day of the Tentacle Remastered holds up extremely well, in large part thanks to Tim Schafer and the team at Double Fine.  The game features a hilariously absurd and clever story that’s chock full of witty humor and ingenious references.  It also has a bright and cheery look that translates every single little detail from the original.  If you haven’t played the original, this is about as good as the game is going to get.  Now, the wait begins again for Tim Schafer’s next remaster project, Full Throttle.

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Also available on PC and PSVita.

Review: Bully

bully cover
via Neoseeker

Bully (PS2 – 2006) (PS4 – 2016)

PS4 / Rated T

Action / Adventure

Publisher: Rockstar Games

Developer: Rockstar Vancouver


I never remember high school being this intense.  In Rockstar’s PS2 classic Bully, which is now available on PS4, you take on the role of the new kid.  You start off pretty low on the high school hierarchy, but you eventually work your way up to bigger and better things.  Along the way you accomplish some weird, random, and insane things, stuff I never remember doing in high school…probably for good reason. (Probably) When you think of Rockstar, Bully might not be a game that comes to mind, but it’s a game that’s worth a good amount of praise.

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via Lakebit

As I mentioned before, Jimmy Hopkins is Bullworth Academy’s newest student.  After being expelled from numerous schools beforehand, which he is very proud of, Bullworth Academy is his final landing place, a place that will supposedly whip him into shape.  The school might be tough, but let’s be honest, there’s nothing stopping Jimmy from his habits.  After meeting some kids and making new friendships, Jimmy becomes determined to make his way up the high school totem pole, not stopping until you literally rule the school.  All of your classic high school cliques, including the nerds, jocks, greasers, and preps, are present and you have to make some alliances along the way if you want to rule them all.

Although your primary goal is clear from the get-go, the journey to achieve this goal is fun and often times ridiculous.  The game’s story and it’s writing is top notch and provided for numerous laughs, way more than I initially thought.  The dialogue is clever and the situations that Jimmy gets himself into are completely insane, especially as you get into the later chapters.  The story starts off pretty grounded, but then starts to go places as the game goes on, especially when the rest of the world, or in this case “the town,” opens up to the player. The characters that Jimmy comes into contact with, including the game’s antagonist Gary Smith, are all pretty enjoyable as well.  Gary Smith is a pretty big dick, so his characterization was pretty well done.

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via PS4 Pal

The thing I appreciate the most about Bully is the fact that it’s basically Grand Theft Auto, but instead of guns you have slingshots and stink bombs and instead of thugs and the police you have bullies and the school’s authority figures, who are absolutely ruthless by the way.  Technically there are also police in the game, which is kind of ridiculous in its own hilarious way.  Just like any other normal school, you should expect to be disciplined for violence against other students, or any other mischief for that matter, unless you can find a way to get away with it.  Bullworth Academy cracks down pretty hard on just about anything you do, but that shouldn’t worry players since getting away with your dirty deeds is pretty easy to do.  Just prepare to do a lot of running.  Running away from the school’s authority or the police is a majority of what you’ll be doing.  Life’s tough as a bully.

Bully’s mission structure favors short bite-sized missions over long and drawn-out affairs, which actually works to the game’s benefit.  A good portion of the missions involve you doing some pretty stupid things that often work best in shorter experiences.  You’ll partake in a majority of the missions on the academy’s grounds, but the story will also take you outside of the academy’s walls into the town of Bullworth, which is surprisingly big for what I expected.  There’s also a good amount of side missions, although most of them are relegated to fetch quests or beat-em-up missions.  Some of the missions might not be super imaginative, but I never found myself getting bored.  In addition to the missions, you can also partake in go-kart and other BMX-style races, carnival games, newspaper delivery, and combat training…because you know, that’s what high schoolers are into I guess.  There’s also a relationship component to the game that can lead to some hair-pulling fights depending on the girls you kiss.  Let’s just say there’s no shortage of trouble that you can get yourself into.

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Gameplay is where Bully starts to feel a little dated.  Combat handles pretty well and usually only involves punching or slingshot attacks from a distance.  Other weapons in the game, like firecrackers or potato guns, offer some variety in combat as well.  There’s also items like marbles and stink bombs that can give you the upper hand in fights as well.  The first part of the game is pretty tough since everybody hates you and wants to pick a fight, however, once you start to make more alliances and upgrade your arsenal, fights become a lot less frequent and when they do happen, they are much easier to handle.  You’re also able to ride bicycles and go karts, but these can get a little squirrely at times, especially the bicycle which I found myself wiping out on a lot if I wasn’t careful.  Perhaps the most frustrating part of the game were some of the classes, which are basically glorified mini games that you have to attend until you complete them.  (You can skip class, but that basically makes you a refugee in hiding until the class times are over.)  There are five classes in all, and most of them are either boring and unimaginative or frustratingly difficult.  I never remember Art class being that difficult.  Also, if Chemistry was as easy as just pressing buttons, then I’d probably be a scientist at NASA by now.  The classes are essential in that they grant you access to upgrades upon completion, but they are not fun whatsoever…which is maybe the most realistic thing about this game.

Never did I think a teenager’s rise up the high school totem pool would be so fun.  Bully provides a unique experience; unlike most traditional games we are used to.  Some of the game’s mechanics might not date well, but the overall experience still stands as one of Rockstar’s best.  This game makes me crave another dive into Bully’s world via a sequel, although that still remains a pipe dream at this point.  Now, this is the part where I would say I wish my high school experience was akin to this game, but then I realize how terrible that would be.  Bullworth is not a normal or sane school by any means, but boy was it fun.

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Also available on PC and PS3.

Review: Love Season 1

love season 1
via Melty

Love (Season 1) (2016)

Netflix / TVMA

Comedy / Romance

Starring: Gillian Jacobs, Paul Rust, Claudia O’Doherty

Creators: Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin, Paul Rust


Your telling me there’s another show about love?  Another show about the trials and tribulations that relationships bring with them?  I guess it’s not that surprising when you think about it.  The topic of love is a subject that has been tackled time and time again.  It’s certainly not an original theme.  Teaming up with Netflix, Judd Apatow has put out a new comedic show about the journey of love, appropriately titled Love.  So far nothing about this show sounds original…but Apatow finds another angle that makes the show a little refreshing.

love s1 1
via Beauty Slides

Love is the story of two star-crossed lovers who seem like the unlikely couple at the onset.  Mickey, played by Gillian Jacobs, is a rambunctious and loud girl who works for a radio show.  She’s an alcoholic and a sex addict who has her fair share of boy problems.  On the other hand, we have the timid and geeky Gus, played by Paul Rust, who works as a tutor at a big name television studio.  The two couldn’t be any more different but after a chance acquaintance at a gas station convenience store, the two being the long road to love.

Topics like first dates, ex-lovers, awkward parties, and sex are all covered over the course of the ten-episode series.  As I’ve mentioned before, there is nothing original about Love’s subject matter, not even the name.  Series creator Judd Apatow, the guy behind other hit comedies like Bridesmaids, Knocked Up, and Girls, manages to change things up and gives the concept of love a different perspective.  Mickey and Gus have different views on the subject of love and their outlooks on the crazy rollercoaster of romance are what make the series interesting and different from the rest.  Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely moments where I was like, “okay, this has been done before,” but the show managed to stay fresh a lot more than I initially thought.

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The first half of the season acts as a character study, examining Mickey and Gus and the type of people that they are.  These kinds of episodes happen a lot over the course of the season.  There’s even an episode that revolves around the two’s days at work and the kind of madness surrounding their respective workplaces.  Weird creepy bosses and dramatic Hollywood actresses, you know, normal fare.  Admittedly the show gets off to a slow start but begins to pick up when the two start to get into a more serious relationship.  As things intensify between the two, things get a lot more interesting.  The last couple of episodes were not only full of hilarious situations, but serious drama as well.  I wasn’t expecting the show to get as serious as it got…but there’s an interesting story to tell behind Love’s comedic exterior.

Judd Apatow has put out a show that gives a funny view of love, but also a sobering one.  Love isn’t perfect in its execution but it’s a fun show with some really likable characters.  I haven’t even mentioned Mickey’s roommate Bertie (Claudia O’Doherty) who was actually one of my favorite parts of the show.  The show gives us a stunningly accurate depiction of love, one that is instantly relatable to anyone who has had a bout with love.  Love is a fun little show, one that I was not expecting to enjoy.  The show has already been renewed for another season, so we’ll see where Apatow goes with this comedy.  Also, how many times have I said “love” during this review.  It almost sounds silly at this point.  Love love love.  By the way…..love.  Okay, I’m done now.

love s1 score

Review: Pee-wee’s Big Holiday

pee wee big holiday posterPee-wee’s Big Holiday (2016)

PG / 90 min

Adventure / Comedy

Starring: Paul Reubens, Jordan Black, Doug Cox

Director: John Lee


It’s been almost fifteen years since the quirky Pee-wee Herman took to the small screen for Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.  Actor and comedian Paul Ruebens has had small roles as Pee-wee here and there since then but the quirky and sometimes absurd character has been on hiatus for a while.  It’s almost felt like there wasn’t going to be another Pee-wee movie.  Leave it to Netflix to bring an old nostalgic property to the small screen.  Pee-wee has come out of retirement…to take a holiday in the new family-friendly comedic romp Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, only on Netflix.

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via Collider

Were fans calling for another Pee-wee movie?  I’m sure there were some fans hungry for another adventure with Pee-wee but it’s hard to say.  When Netflix announced that they were making a full-length Pee-wee movie I was like, “okay, let’s see what they can do with it.”  Not so surprisingly, Paul Ruebens still has it.  Despite his age, he slid right into the role of Pee-wee Herman perfectly.  He’s got the goofy laugh and rocks the numerous facial emotions that will instill nostalgic feelings in any die-hard fan.  He even has the looks.  I swear Paul Ruebens just does not age.

For his latest adventure, Pee-wee decides to step out of his comfort zone and go on a road trip to New York City.  Perhaps the film’s biggest draw is the inclusion of Joe Manganiello who plays himself in the movie.  In a bout of destiny, Joe meets up with Pee-wee at his café and inspires him to travel to New York City to attend his big birthday bash at his penthouse.  There’s a big hilarious bromance that brews between the two that can get a little weird at times.  Paul Ruebens and Joe Manganiello seem like the unlikely duo to star in a comedy but the two work well together and provide most of the feature’s laughs.

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via Coming Soon

We only really see Joe at the beginning and end of the film, so the bulk of the comedy has its spotlight on crazy Pee-wee.  Since this is a comedy of the road-trip variety, don’t expect Pee-wee’s first vacation to go smoothly.  He runs into a female trio of thieves that kidnap Pee-wee, kicking off his journey with a bang.  Pee-wee also runs into a farmer who has a whole handful of daughters that instantly gain interest in Pee-wee.  Not to be outdone, there’s also a community of Amish people that welcome Pee-wee into their home.  Pee-wee’s journey is never uneventful and it’s full of wacky surprises.  He eventually makes it to New York, only to get himself into more foolish shenanigans.

Pee-wee’s Big Holiday has a short run-time, clocking in at about an hour and thirty minutes, but Pee-wee’s antics start to wear thin as the film goes on.  Nostalgia takes the humor for a good while but even that can’t keep it floating for too long.  The humor might work well with the younger crowd, but it just doesn’t work that well in today’s day and age.  Pee-wee’s brand of comedy had its time and place but I’m not sure it flies these days.  The movie has its moments that made for some genuine knee-slappers, but I wanted to laugh more…I really did.

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via Nerd Report

The movie’s production value didn’t really help its cause either.  It was from the film’s first moments that I instantly realized director John Lee was working with a slim budget.  Normally I don’t mind low budget comedies, but there were scenes were I just laughed because of how silly they looked.  There’s a scene where Pee-wee is flying through the air and yeesh…it didn’t look too good.

Fans of Paul Rueben and Pee-wee will probably enjoy the serviceable comedy that is Pee-wee’s Big Holiday.  It operates a lot on nostalgia for the character, as well as the bromance between Pee-wee and Joe Mangianello.  However, it’s a road trip comedy that wears its welcome and starts to burn out.  Luckily Pee-wee made it to New York before the comedy started blow it’s tires, because that would have put a bad cap on an otherwise serviceable trip.

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Review: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 2

unbreakable kimmy s2 poster
via Christian Post

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Season 2) (2016)

Netflix / TV-14

Comedy

Starring: Ellie Kemper, Jane Krakowski, Tituss Burgess

Creators: Tina Fey, Robert Carlock


Kimmy Schmidt is finally starting to get adjusted to her new life above ground in the big apple.  She overcame all of life challenges that it threw at her with a cheery smile and a witty 90’s reference or two.  She even managed to win the trial against the Reverend, the man who kept her contained underground as part of his cult.  The “mole-woman” tag is starting to fade away as she starts to put those days behind her.  However, life is full of obstacles and there is still a lot that Kimmy has to learn.  This is where season two of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Netflix’s hit comedy show from Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, picks up.

unbreakable kimmy s2 1
via Splitsider

Last season, Ellie Kemper brought the bright and quirky character of Kimmy Schmidt to life and she returns with another knockout performance.  Think of her as an eccentric 90’s girl-meets-world.  She’s getting adjusted to her new life quite well but there is still a lot that she has to tackle.  In fact, each episode is still framed in a way that signifies what challenge she has to overcome.  Sometimes these tasks range from the mundane (giving up and driving a car) to the serious (finding her mom and meeting a celebrity), while some are just plain ridiculous. When Kimmy goes to a hotel with her Vietnamese love interest Dong (Ki Hong Lee), she learns a whole lot about what two lovers “do in a hotel.”

Kimmy Schmidt still centers around its titular character, but the returning cast is what brings the show together.  Everybody’s favorite from last season, the loud Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess), is back and he’s better than ever.  His pinnacle moment last season was his brilliant ode to Pinot Noir and this season he returns with more song and dance.  He is also in a new relationship with a construction worker named Mikey, which brings its fair share of ups and downs as well.  We also see the return of the rich and glitzy Jacqueline Voorhees, played by Jane Krakowski.  She fresh off her divorce from her rich husband and back from her Native American vision quest, which means she’s back in New York City with the mission of getting her life back in order.  She definitely can’t do it alone so she entrusts the help of Kimmy as her personal life assistant.

unbreakable kimmy s2 2
via IB Times

Perhaps one of the best parts about this season is the emergence of a returning character and the introduction of a new one.  People probably remember Kimmy and Titus’ landlord Lillian (Carol Kane) from last season.  She was off her rocker and was never afraid to do her own thing.  We didn’t see enough of her crazy antics last season.  She’s back this season and she gets a lot more screen time as she aims to fight gentrification in the rough neighborhood that her and the gang live in.  We also get introduced to Andrea Bayden, played by Tina Fey, a psychologist who meets up with Kimmy during a drunk Uber call.  (Yep, Kimmy now moonlights as an Uber driver this season) We saw Tina Fey in a minor role last season but she plays a bigger part this season, one that brings along its fair share of hilarious moments.  Nothing can possibly go wrong when Kimmy takes advice from a drunk psychologist, right?

Pop culture references of the 90s variety are still as prominent as ever this season, which was one of the best parts about the show.  Kimmy is still stuck in her 90s world and she never lets you forget that.  Everything from the Ninja Turtles (who Kimmy still can’t believe are a thing) to Seinfeld to Nickelodeon make appearances through the many different references sprinkled throughout.  The show still remains super quotable as well, especially when a character like Titus is on the show. (“I’m not the one who assumed all gay people know how to arrange flowers. Why don’t you do some prop comedy, Carrot Top?” Titus says to Kimmy during a party set-up)

unbreakable kimmy s2 3
via Dork Shelf

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s second season goes places and still retains its status as one of Netflix’s biggest crowd-pleasers.  It’s a show that will make you smile in more ways than one.  (The show’s addicting theme song returns, which is a reason to smile in itself) The minor problems from last season, like the abundance of blatant stereotypes, still linger but they are getting better.  The show’s sophomore season is just as good, if not better, than last season.  All the episodes are on Netflix right now, available to binge, so what are you waiting for?

unbreakable kimmy s2 score

Review: LEGO Marvel’s Avengers

lego avengers cover
via Superhero Hype Forums

LEGO Marvel’s Avengers (2016)

PS4 / Rated E

Action / Adventure

Publisher: WB Games

Developer: TT Games


At this point, I will pretty much play any LEGO game that you put in front of me.  LEGO and Traveller’s Tales have been putting these games out for years, largely without change in the classic LEGO game formula.  Sure, there have been changes along the way like open world gameplay and voice acting, but the actual backbone that these games run on has stayed tried and true, for better or worse.  This has turned a lot of people away from these games, but I find myself coming back over and over again thanks to the franchises that the games tackle.

lego avengers 1
via Gameinformer

This time around, Marvel’s highly popular Avengers franchise gets the spotlight.  This isn’t the first time that Marvel’s superheroes have gotten the LEGO treatment.  This games predecessor was aptly titled LEGO Marvel Superheroes.  With Marvel’s Avengers, the first two Avengers movies, along with some of the other Marvel movies that have come out around them, are the primary focus with the main cast of characters being everybody’s favorite band of superheroes.  Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, the Hulk, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and the Vision make up the main selection of superheroes that you will be able to take control of, along with a surplus of other lesser known characters.

Anybody that has seen the first two Avengers movies (seemingly everybody at this point) should instantly be familiar with the story’s main happenings.  There’s nothing new or original here.  In fact, the voice acting is all cut from different parts of the movies.  Some people find this pleasing, but I find the audio kind of jarring.  The audio is never edited to fit the situation happening on screen so you might get Captain America yelling with wind blowing in the background while the game has him just talking normally in a wind-less room.  Jarring moments like this always make me question the choice to pull audio from the movies, but I guess there really isn’t an appealing alternative.  The generic voice acting has been okay in the past but it’s really nothing to write home about.

lego avengers 2
via Game Side Story

The aspect that gives these games their trademark charm is the slapstick humor and hilarious retellings of popular movie scenes.  All of that humor is present and still strong as ever.  I have to give the writing team a little credit here, because they manage to make me laugh over and over again over the stupidest things that happen on screen.  They don’t have too much liberty to tell their own story since they are closely mimicking existing storylines, but they manage to put a spin on classic scenes while staying true to the source material…in classic LEGO fashion.

Maybe the game’s weaker aspect is the unoriginality of its gameplay formula.  There’s fifteen levels for you to play through spanning the events of the two movies.  Within these levels there are things to collect and characters to unlock.  You won’t be able to get everything on your first run through, so Free Play mode allow you to go back through the levels with all of your unlocked characters to pick up anything you have missed.  Sound familiar?  Outside of the levels are the open world areas that offer up side missions and well, more collectibles.  The city of Manhattan is the main open world arena, but you also get to visit smaller and more condensed locales such as Washington D.C., Sokovia, the Avenger’s ranch, and Asgard.  There’s a lot of things for you to do in these areas, but you’re going to be doing a lot of the same stuff.  Side missions are aplenty, but a majority of these missions are either fetch quests or beat-em ups.  They start to get tedious after a while, turning things into a grind when you are going after 100% completion.

LEGO® MARVEL's Avengers_20160203115411

Collecting and unlocking characters are one of these games’ strong suits and that is no different for LEGO Avengers.  In fact, there is a wide range of characters spanning from extremely popular to wildly obscure.  Like I mentioned before, heroes like Captain America and Iron Man are present but there are also lesser known heroes like Squirrel Girl and Bengal.  There’s a lot of deep cuts on the rich roster that will please any hardcore Marvel fanboy.  I didn’t have a clue who have the characters were, but that’s a cool thing.  It made me go and dig out some info on some of the characters I was unlocking.  Needless to say, you’re going to find someone new on the roster.

There’s good things and frustrating things that make up LEGO Marvel’s Avengers but hey, that’s pretty much LEGO games for you these days.  TT Games hasn’t really done anything to change the aging LEGO game formula and that’s frustrating.  There’s a lot to like however in this iteration, like the deep cast of characters, fan service, and humor.  Basically, LEGO Marvel’s Avengers is another solid LEGO game that will satisfy comic fans and younger kids alike.

lego avengers score

Also available on Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, PSVita, Wii U, 3DS, and PC

Review: Deadpool

deadpool poster
via ScreenRant

Deadpool (2016)

R / 108 min

Action / Adventure / Comedy

Starring: Ryan Reynolds, Morena Baccarin, T.J. Miller

Director: Tim Miller


Dark and gritty R-rated superhero content is not something you see too often.  Recently Netflix has been killing it with more mature series like Daredevil and Jessica Jones, but besides that, there hasn’t been that much to please adult superhero fans.  As of last February, a certain “hero” of sorts has been breaking records and providing adult superhero fans a movie to get excited about.  This superhero is Deadpool and his self-referential movie is full of blood, bullets, love, and R-rated anti-hero antics.

deadpool 1
via Fox Movies

The titular hero is played by Ryan Reynolds, who embraces the role with an almost joyous glee.  He has played the role before in the X-Men movies, but he has been the biggest proponent for a solo movie involving one of Marvel’s wackiest characters.  His dream came to fruition and the final product is a superhero movie unlike any other.  A large part of what makes the movie so special is the energy and dedication that Reynolds put into the role.  Deadpool is a narcissistic asshole that somehow manages to fight crime.  His incompetence seems like it would hold him back, but he manages to kick a lot of ass over the course of the largely self-contained movie.

Deadpool serves as the hero’s origin story, detailing the creation of the unlikely hero.  The movie is set up in such a way that rubber bands between present and past.  The opening introduction is a high-octane action sequence where Deadpool takes out a caravan of bad guys travelling down the highway and serves as a good introduction to the crazy hero.  We then get flashbacks interlaced throughout that give us the backstory of how he came to be.  I thought the execution of the story was well done and well-cut, giving us a unique telling of the somewhat sad story of love.

deadpool 2
via Roger Ebert

Although Deadpool would probably love the movie to just be about himself, there are some other characters in the story worth mentioning.  Deadpool’s girlfriend Vanessa, played by Morena Baccarin, is the hero’s motive that drive him to do what he does while his good friend Weasel, played by T.J. Miller gives him advice and “wisdom” along the way.  The guy that Deadpool is after, the one that made him the way he is, is Ajax, played by the Brit Ed Skrein.  He’s a steely dude that shows no emotion whatsoever.  His type of character doesn’t really fit with the whole movie’s tone and he isn’t that interesting.  His character just falls flat and doesn’t really add anything to the movie, which is a shame.  The movie tries to build up tension between Deadpool and Ajax, but who really cares in the end?  There’s also the tough girl Angel Dust (Gina Carano) that teams up with Ajax, but she isn’t that compelling either.

The anti-hero isn’t alone in his fight against Ajax.  Joining him are two members of the X-Men, the metallic meathead Colossus and the moody Negasonic Teenage Warhead (yeah I know, the name is kind of ridiculous), played by Stefan Kapicic and Brianna Hildebrand respectively.  The three don’t really get along at first, but they soon rub off on each other and they end up making a pretty good team by the end.  The exciting prospect of these three being together is that Deadpool’s movie future could involve the X-Men.  I’m not sure to what capacity, but I don’t think this is the last we will see of the crazy anti-hero.

deadpool 3
via Eklecty-City

The movie’s writing is top-notch and the humor is consistently steady with jokes flying fast and furious from the opening to the final credits.  Not all of the jokes land, but a good majority of the humor had me laughing out loud in the theater.  There’s also a certain dose of meta-humor that is clever and never outstays it’s welcome.  Director Tim Miller and his writing team nailed the type of character that Deadpool makes himself out to be.  Unfortunately, due to the nature of the movie’s humor, it’s not a movie that I picture myself seeing again and again.  A lot of the novelty wears off seeing the movie for the first time.  Your probably not going to be bored watching the movie more than once, but the humor probably won’t stick as much as the first go around.

Deadpool throws a wrench in the traditional superhero movie formula, making it a refreshing and hilarious affair.  The movie is aware of what it is and what it is doing, poking fun at superhero movies as well as moviemaking in general.  The humor is outlandish and the best moments are when it steps into the fourth wall.  Deadpool isn’t the R-rated superhero movie that you would expect.  It’s a self-proclaimed “love story” that never ceases to amaze.

DEADPOOL