Episode 2 – Jackie Brown

The guys watch Jackie Brown while drinking Soul Pleasure by Wild Acre and Lagunitas Sucks by, you guessed it, Lagunitas. Zac rants about people that stand still on moving walkways and the term ‘coasting beer’ is coined.

Talking points include:

Lagunitas’s apology letter.

The opening scene and its bitchin’ soundtrack (sorry in advance for getting this song stuck in your head for the rest of the day).

Samuel L. Jackson’s terrifying hair.

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Pam Grier being sassy.

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Stoner De Niro.

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Now Playing: The Lego Batman Movie

The Lego Batman Movie

Rating: PG
Directed by: Chris McKay
Starring: Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Zach Galifianakis
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy

Synopsis:

The same manic energy and self deprecating humor found in The Lego Movie sets its eyes on Batman, who learns that being a dark, gritty, handsome, badass super hero with impeccable abs doesn’t mean you have to be a loaner.  

The Good:

An unrelenting blast of fun!

The Bad:

If you’re wanting something deeper than self referential humor then look elsewhere.

What Else You Should be Watching:

The Lego Movie (duh)

The Gist:

I’m not sure if this is the Batman movie we need or the Batman movie we deserve but I don’t care because it was so.  Much.  FUN!  Sure, Batman has seemed to work best when he’s dark and gritty (hell, Batman Begins is what STARTED all of these dark and gritty reboots) but, back when the character was first created, it was just complete, over the top campiness.  This movie manages to embrace all of that heritage.  We get the immense gravitas of the newer installments  blended perfectly with the absurd C list rogues gallery from the 50’s and 60’s and, yes, even that damn shark repellent.

All of this at the SAME TIME!

What we’re left with is a movie that openly mocks itself while still embracing and honoring the core aspects of the character.  It does to Batman’s mythology what The Cabin in the Woods did to the entire horror genre.

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Exactly like this!  But with more Batman… and no mermaids…

And oh, my god, does this movie know its audience.  The Easter Eggs are EVERYWHERE!  I’m deeply upset that the manager working at the theater wouldn’t let me pause and dissect each and every frame of this movie. If you have ever enjoyed a piece of Batman media in the past EVER then there is something hidden for you to find.  Some of my favorites (out of the ones that I was quick enough to pick up on) were: Billy Dee Williams voicing Two Face, Blight and the Batman Beyond suit hanging out in the background and the Wonder Twins partying with their stupid monkey.

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Man, the 70’s were weird…

If you somehow managed to make it this far in your life without seeing anything remotely Batman related then have no fear, there are still plenty more pop culture references for you root around for.  Much like how the The Lego Movie was able to cross all kinds of barriers to show us Ninja Turtles, Abraham Lincoln and the 2002 NBA All Stars, we get nods to everything from Doctor Who to The Wizard of Oz to The Lord of the Rings.  Hell, there’s even a wink to Pulp Fiction if you listen closely enough!

The entire run time is propelled by either over-the-top action or gut-busting hilarity.  And through it all you can tell that everyone who had a hand is this movie had an absolute blast making it.  The whole thing feels like one of those rare occasions where the movie was made by the exact same type of people who would love watching it, leaving us with pure, genuine fun.

That level of energy isn’t without its cons, though.  While I thoroughly enjoyed every second of screen time there wasn’t a whole lot of substance to be found.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s more nuance in Batman’s arc than an animated movie about plastic bricks has any right to have… but Batman is really the only character here that applies to.  Everyone else is put there as either the butt of a joke or to assist with Batman’s story.  That being said, this is one instance where I’m happy this was the case.  This movie isn’t concerned with trying to be something it’s not.  It’s fun. If you don’t like it then you can get the hell out.

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Yeah, that about sums it up.

Now that the gushing is over, there was one simply unforgivable sin that this movie is guilty of: there wasn’t a ‘cameo’of the Everything is Awesome song!  I was fully expecting to hear a snippet of it on the radio as someone was flipping through channels, but no. What a missed opportunity.

Aw, who am I kidding.  I cant stay mad at you, The Lego Batman Movie!

The Lego Batman Movie delivers the same amount of exuberant irreverentness that its predecessor brought to the table, this time tailored towards anyone who’s enjoyed any era of Batman material ever.  The fun doesn’t get bogged down by much character development aside from Batman, himself, but you’ll most likely be too busy rolling on the floor due to all the self referential/deprecating humor lovingly dumped throughout to care.

-R

Now Playing: Split

Split

Rating: PG-13
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan
Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy
Genre: Horror, Thriller

Synopsis:

A dude with multiple personality disorder kidnaps three teenage girls in order to bring about ‘The Beast.’

The Good:

James. Mother Fucking. McAvoy.

The Bad:

Tonally disjointed, lack of any clear purpose.

What Else You Should be Watching:

10 Cloverfield Lane

The Gist:

I haven’t seen an M. Night Shyamalan movie since The Last Airbender and, from what I hear, I haven’t been missing out on much.  So, full disclosure, I had my expectation set very low going into this movie.

My suspicions seemed to be confirmed when, in the opening scene, James McAvoy gets in the driver seat of a car with three teenage girls parked in a crowded parking lot, sprays the two in the back seat with some sort of knockout gas and ignores the one sitting right next to him in the passenger seat (Anya Taylor-Joy) until she half-ass-edly opens the door and he sprays her too.  Um. Ok.  Did this dude just not see her sitting right next to him??  Why didn’t she just throw the door open and make a dash and start screaming in the middle of this, I say again, crowded parking lot… In broad day light! “Whatever, M. Night. I’m done,” I thought.

But! Holy shit, guys! As soon as you see James McAvoy go from one persona to another I was instantly hooked.  This guy was a powerhouse all throughout this movie.  Each persona’s mannerisms, cadence, gait, etc. were completely unrecognizable from the last.  But the more impressive feat was the nuance that he put into those moments when we saw different personalities take over on screen.  He single handedly made this movie work.

Eventually, through a bunch of exposition given by McAvoy’s therapist, we learn that the underlying premise of this movie is that people with split personalities can have certain personas that are left handed or diabetic or need glasses so what if one of them had super strength?  Once this was revealed I got pretty giddy.  I’m a big fan of taking some interesting fact or discovery and taking it one step further into the realm of fiction (Michael Crichton, anyone?) and this same logic leap worked pretty well for Unbreakable.

Unfortunately, all that potential quickly falls flat on its face.

You see, McAvoy is playing a character that has 23 different personalities, one of which is a small child.  I’m assuming this persona was added in order to include some comedic relief but there was more than enough dark comedy coming from McAvoy’s other personalities.  Knowing that this kid persona is lurking around in the same body as these other people completely undermines McAvoy’s ability to be scary. Even when McAvoy becomes ‘The Beast’ in the climax, menacing is the last word that comes to mind.  Though some of that could be due to him goofily climbing on walls. Oh, did I forget to mention that he’s, like, suuuuuuper good at climbing cause he has long fingers? Yes. That is exactly how it’s described in the movie…

When you mix these lackluster suspense moments with the interesting, albeit exposition laden, conversations we see between McAvoy and his psychiatrist you end up having a sort of tonal whiplash. Is this movie supposed to be scary? Then why are we given all this information trying to humanize McAvoy’s condition?  Is this movie supposed to make us question what a human body can do?  Then why weigh it down with a bunch of scenes with girls locked in a room?

And oh, the arc of our protagonist.  I’ve already mentioned how Taylor-Joy does nothing when a strange man gets in the car and knocks out two of her friends but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  When the girls first wake up in this strange, locked room one her friends immediately starts trying to formulate a plan before Taylor-Joy shuts her up, saying “We don’t even know what this is yet.”  We then get treated to some flash backs of Taylor-Joy hunting with her dad and uncle. Ok, cool. Chick is secretly a badass and assessing the situation.  I love me some strong female characters.

WRONG!

Every single time one of her friends tries to escape, Taylor-Joy just sits there like a deer in headlights.  There are three of them and one of this guy’s personalities is a child.  Maybe try all working as a team instead of just sitting in the corner?

After several more hunting flashbacks we learn that Taylor-Joy’s uncle molested her as a kid and she never did anything about it.  Ok… Man, that’s messed up.  But that does put all of her actions into context.  So I guess at the end her character will learn to stick up for herself and take this guy down single handedly!

NOPE!

The climax of the movie has Taylor-Joy cornered by ‘The Beast’ and how does she escape?  ‘The Beast’ gets a good look at her and says “Oh shit, yo.  You been raped?  Ok, we cool.” AND THEN RUNS AWAY!

So. To recap. Girl is a victim of a terrible situation and does nothing.  Then girl is put in another terrible situation again and STILL DOES NOTHING, getting her friends killed in the process. But hey, at least she’s alive still! What’s the moral here? That if you’re a victim one time then everything will work out for you in the future as long as you never stand up for yourself? Cool story, M Night.  At least we’ve made it to the end.

Wait, what’s that?  M. isn’t done with us yet? Shit.

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Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

Remember way back up top when I said this premise had similarities with Unbreakable?  Yeah, Shyamalan agrees.  Which is why we get a pre-post credit scene (also known as the last scene in the movie) of a news reporter talking about how McAvoy, who’s being called ‘The Horde’, has similarities to Mr. Glass, Samuel L. Jackson’s character from Unbreakable.  Oh, and Bruce Willis is there too.

unbreakable

20th Century Fox

WHAT!

Those cases have absolutely NOTHING in common from an outsider’s perspective! One was about a domestic terrorist while the other about a man with multiple personalities. How does anyone make that connection!  

But don’t worry about that little factoid, kiddos, because you know what this means?  It mean’s M. Night Shyamalan now has a guy who is physically stronger and can endure more than an average human (Captain America) and a guy that has multiple personalities, one of which is super strong and can’t be killed (the Hulk).  So be on the look out for M. Night Shyamalan presents: The Spookvengers in the next 4 to 6 years!

In the end, all of the good and all of the bad even out to a mediocre movie.  If you’re a fan of McAvoy’s then you should absolutely see this movie; it will be worth sitting through the rest just to see him shine.  Just don’t go into it expecting to have an experience that’s remotely scary or suspenseful. It really is a shame, though. If Shyamalan decided to drop the whole horror/thriller shtick then we could have ended up with an incredibly thoughtful look at how a man copes with a debilitating condition and ultimately faces his inner demons.

-R