The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad: Two Enchanting Tales Make One Great Film – 13 Reviews of Halloween/Disney +

This movie is 71 years old and still holds up.

SUMMARY

The film is two different stories with two different narrators. The first, “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame, is narrated by Basil Rathbone, the British actor most famous for playing Sherlock Holmes. The second, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving, is narrated by Bing Crosby. 

I still want them to adapt the Canterbury Tales.

“The Wind in the Willows” follows, loosely, the same plot as the book. J. Thaddeus Toad (Eric Blore) is a wealthy landowner who tends to get caught up in fads and act recklessly to the point that he is constantly on the verge of bankruptcy. His friends are Angus MacBadger (Campbell Grant), who looks over his finances, Ratty (Claude Allister), a river rat, and Moley (Colin Campbell), a meek mole. It turns out that Toad has been obsessed with traveling carts and has been destroying much of the countryside with his horse, Cyril (J. Pat O’Malley). The pair eventually get wrecked by a motor car, leading toad to become obsessed with automobiles. To stop Toad from spending more money or being more reckless, Ratty and Moley lock him inside Toad Hall, his mansion, but Toad escapes and supposedly steals a car. At the trial, Cyril testifies that Toad had traded Toad Hall to a gang of weasels for the car and that Mr. Winky (Ollie Wallace), a barman, had witnessed it. However, Winky testifies against Toad, convicting him. Toad escapes from jail and, together with his three friends, steals the deed to Toad Hall back from Winky, who is revealed to have lied in order to keep the house. 

They’re an eclectic bunch.

“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” similarly, follows the story pretty well, but with some adaptational changes. Ichabod Crane (Bing Crosby) is the new school master of Sleepy Hollow, New York. He mostly gets along well with the townspeople, despite him secretly being a manipulative and opportunistic glutton. However, he falls in love with Katrina van Tassel, the beautiful daughter of the wealthy Baltus van Tassel, and draws the ire of Katrina’s sweetheart Brom Bones. While Brom is strong and aggressive, Ichabod is smart and quick, often avoiding the bigger man’s attempts to deter him. The two attend a Halloween party and Ichabod attempts to woo Katrina with his dancing and sophistication, but Brom concocts a plan. He tells a vivid story of the Headless Horseman, a ghost who rides through the Hollow to take heads, terrifying Ichabod. On the way home, Ichabod is chased by the Headless Horseman and never seen again. Brom and Katrina marry soon after.

That guy knows how to eat at a party.

END SUMMARY

When I think about my favorite Disney movies, I somehow always overlook this film, but it really is an underrated work of the studio. Disney originally was going to just do an adaptation of The Wind in the Willows, but due to WWII and some financial trouble, Walt Disney himself ended up shelving it, thinking it wasn’t good enough to make money. Eventually, a new team took on the project and it was scaled back to half of a movie and paired with the Legend of Sleepy Hollow to make a feature-length film. Despite the fact that the two films have completely different genres, styles, and themes, or perhaps because of that disparity, each of them stands out brighter than they would have alone. 

They do both have great chase sequences.

Wind in the Willows is animated in the traditional Disney style like Bambi, Dumbo, or The Jungle Book. It’s pretty light in tone, although the scenes of Toad being imprisoned and escaping are darker than I remember. Still, Toad’s enthusiasm during the chase and his unwillingness to be too scared of the police while fleeing from them does keep it fairly upbeat. The scene of them attacking the weasels and Winky at Toad Hall might be one of the Disney sequences that put the characters in the most immediate mortal peril, but it’s done in such a slapstick fashion that you hardly think about it. The short is entertaining and contains both one of my favorite songs from any Disney film (below) and also my favorite lawyer joke perhaps ever. During Cyril’s testimony, the prosecutor is cross-examining him and the following exchange happens:

Prosecutor: … Then how did he get the motorcar?

Cyril: The only way a gentleman gets anything: The honest way.

Prosecutor: And what is the honest way?

Cyril: Ha-ha, I thought you wouldn’t know that one, guvnor.

Perfect.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, on the other hand, is done mostly in watercolors and resembles a painting of rural New England from the time period. While the characters are still animated in the Disney style with cartoonish exaggerations of the features, particularly on Ichabod. While it’s dark in tone, it still starts off pretty light. The only voice, aside from the chorus, is Bing Crosby, which showcases his charming voice and naturally amiable narration. However, that really only sets you up for his total absence from the last act, when all you have is the haunting sounds, scary music, and the headless horseman delivering a chilling laugh. The second story does also include more subtle elements than the first. Like the fact that Katrina is using Ichabod just to make Brom jealous, or that Brom Bones’s horse is almost certainly the horse that the Headless Horseman is riding. It implies that, perhaps, the entire ending was just a man trying to get rid of a rival. 

One of the best villains with only like 5 minutes of screen time.

Overall, just a great film. Give it a try.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Hubie Halloween: It’s Adam Sandler, What Did You Expect? – Netflix Review

I mean, it’s definitely not the worst thing he’s done.

SUMMARY

Hubie Dubois (Adam Sandler) is a deli worker and the local loser of Salem, Massachusetts. Every Halloween, Hubie takes it upon himself to be the town monitor to ensure that Salem enjoys a safe and happy Halloween. This, naturally, gets him mocked by everyone from the local rich jerk (Ray Liotta) to the principal (Tim Meadows) and his wife (Maya Rudolph) to the local policeman (Kevin James) to his own junior co-worker (Karar Brar). Only local hot-girl-turned-hot-woman Violet Valentine (Julie Bowen) stands up for him. Unfortunately, this year, an escaped mental patient (Rob Schneider) and a possible wolfman (Steve Buscemi) threaten the celebrations and it’s up to Hubie to stop them.

These kids apparently think this is a fun idea.

END SUMMARY

Did you guys watch Uncut Gems? That movie where Adam Sandler plays a man who keeps having to live on the edge and risk it all because he just can’t be happy otherwise? I think that character was based on Sandler, except that Sandler keeps wanting to test exactly how little effort that he can put forward in order to get a movie to get more watches than the average Best Picture Winner. At least that’s how I explain Jack and Jill and The Ridiculous 6. This movie is not as bad as those, mostly because this movie tries to pull much of its style and humor from Sandler’s older work like The Waterboy, but it suffers from the fact that, at 54 years old, it’s harder to consider Sandler a viable scrappy young outsider. Also, his performance which had previously been the oddball has now devolved into the person who clearly has been avoiding any attempts at maturing. The movie attempts to justify it by saying that Hubie is sweet and honest, but you can be both of those things without being the level of awkward and off-putting that Hubie is. It becomes even more bizarre because the film depicts him as simultaneously socially inept but also hyper competent. I’d say that it’s a form of autism, but since most of the movie’s “humor” is laughing at Hubie’s inherent awkwardness, I’d like to dissociate the performance with any real human conditions.

They use the sheet from the Waterboy for this gag.

The film is a needlessly complicated mess at times as an attempt to conceal the “mystery” of what is actually threatening the town. Hubie also randomly encounters minor sub-plots that require him to pull out his “Swiss Army thermos,” one of the most ridiculous conceits in an Adam Sandler film. It’s a thermos that can do anything the scene requires, from vacuum cleaner to grappling hook, and yet somehow the rest of the movie is pretty grounded in reality. The fact that Hubie built something that defies all practical engineering should have made him wealthy and famous, but everyone chooses to ignore the literal magic bag he holds. The film also suffers from the Sandler trope that the most beautiful woman in the area is already in love with him for no reason.

He also wields a paddle. Don’t ask.

Despite all of these problems, it’s nowhere near the bottom of the barrel for an Adam Sandler production. The cast is filled with talented people who are somehow able to pull a laugh every now and then out of even the most inane lines or scenarios. Sandler himself has several quality moments, mostly when he’s trying to be sincere rather than goofy. The end of the film was actually one of the more surprisingly wholesome ones we’ve seen and it does have a pretty decent message. 

There’s a good Harley Quinn joke.

Overall, I still would recommend watching something else, but if you’re an Adam Sandler fan, this will make your Halloween spooktacular.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Futurama Fridays – S7E2 “A Farewell to Arms”

The Mayan Calendar was only off by a millennium. 

SUMMARY

While on a walk, Fry (Billy West) offers Leela (Katey Sagal) his hand in an act of chivalry, but she ends up getting attacked by a tentacle monster because of it and Fry’s pants get wet. When he puts them out to dry, they get caught by a weather balloon launched by the Professor (West). Fry catches up to his pants, only for a badger to take them down a hole. In the hole, Fry finds walls covered in strange symbols. Leela falls into a deeper hole, with Fry offering his hand, only for her to fall again, injuring her leg. The crew follows her, discovering a giant buried pyramid and a stone calendar with writing on it. Amy (Lauren Tom), able to read the words, determines them to be Ancient Martian and that they’re predicting the world ending in 3012. 

Yes, he took his pants off without taking his shoes off.

Farnsworth explains that his recent weather studies confirm the world is ending. The event starts by disabling all electronics on Earth with a solar flare, including the ships required to escape. Amy reveals that the pyramid they found is actually a buried spaceship made of stone. Without electronics, it can still fly with 30,000 people in it. Zapp Brannigan (West) immediately commandeers it. Nixon (West) orders a machine to choose the people who get to fly. Everyone is selected for the ship, except for Leela. Fry secretly sacrifices his ticket so that she can go.

I’m pretty sure this was in Alien vs. Predator.

On Mars, the survivors start to build a new city, but Singing Wind (West), leader of the Native Martian, arrives to tell them that Amy mistranslated the prophecy. Earth’s not getting destroyed, Mars is. That’s why the Native Martians sold the planet. As the final solar flare hits Mars, instead of Earth, it launches Mars mere feet past Earth. Everyone jumps off the planet back onto Earth, except Leela, whose leg is injured. Fry extends his hand to her, only for her arm to rip off, then his. Luckily, she gets saved anyway and appreciates that Fry was willing to sacrifice himself for her.

These two are finally starting to work it out.

END SUMMARY

I remember in 2012 when everyone was trying to create an apocalypse episode, but you would think that Futurama taking place 1000 years later would have allowed them to avoid it. Instead, they went all in with this fairly nonsensical and mostly forgettable episode. I will admit that the recurring joke about Fry’s gestures always ending poorly was used well, but the ultimate revelation that the entire plot was based around Amy completely misunderstanding the calendar was weak. I also wasn’t a fan of the joke about Fry’s “lucky pants,” although the punchline of Fry getting a ticket based on them was a little fun. The title of the episode, “A Farewell to Arms,” was actually pretty clever, both because it foreshadows Fry and Leela losing their limbs and also because Arms is an anagram for Mars. 

This was the grossest sweet shot ever.

Overall, though, I just don’t care about this episode.

FAVORITE JOKE

The Great Reveal-o. I love the concept. In the episode, when Fry gives Leela his ticket, they ask how he did it. Fry says “A magician never reveals his secrets. Except the great Reveal-o.” Zoidberg then insults the magician. Later, when the new Martian city is unveiled, we see a magician produce celebratory doves, only for him to explain that the doves weren’t magic, only crammed into the netting sewn into his sleeves. I absolutely love the idea of a magician who immediately explains the trick. It completely undermines the entire point of seeing the show and I wish he was real.

That’s a lot of doves. I’m not sure he’s not really magical.

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The Promised Neverland: A Horrifying Premise, a Fantastic Follow-Through – Netflix Anime Review

This show has a disturbing set-up and uses the heck out of it.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Emma (Sumire Morohoshi/Erica Mendez), Norman (Maaya Uchida/Jeannie Tirado), and Ray (Mariya Ise/Laura Stahl) are three 11 year old children who live together at an orphanage called “Grace Field House.” They live an idyllic existence with their foster siblings and their caretaker whom they call Mom/Mother (Yūko Kaida/Laura Post). One night, after one of their siblings is adopted, Norman and Emma sneak out to give the child her stuffed animal, only to find the child dead at the hands of a demon. It turns out that Grace Field House is not an orphanage, it’s a farm and they’re the crop. Now the three have to find a way to escape along with their other siblings while evading Mom and her assistant, Sister Krone (Nao Fujita/Rebeka Thomas). 

The neck tattoo numbers should have been an indicator.

END SUMMARY

This show is one of the most aggressively disturbing set-ups I’ve seen in a long time. It hits harder than many shows because it’s not just a dystopia, it’s a dystopia focused on killing children. Almost all of it, at least so far, has been off-screen, but it’s still a horrifying idea that this happy orphanage is literally just raising children to be slaughtered. The show does a good job of keeping the pressure on all of the characters through that and it’s all the heavier because these are young people who normally wouldn’t have to consider their mortality. 

Yeah, that moment where your life gets torn apart.

What sets the show’s cast of characters apart is that these aren’t normal 11 year olds, they’re all prodigies on an epic scale. They not only are heavily educated, but they’re constantly trained to think critically. The explanation of WHY they were raised that way is a bit of a stretch (at least the one they gave so far), but it justifies having a hypercompetent set of protagonists so I can accept it. Against a normal adult, these kids would likely triumph without issue, so naturally their opposition, Mom, has to be unbelievably intelligent and resourceful. Watching the two groups scheme and counter-scheme is like watching a high-level chess match, sometimes literally. It’s tense and exciting and full of twists. 

She oscillates between loving and sadist very easily.

Overall, this was a really solid series. It’s rough to watch, because of the plot, but it’s worth it.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Ratched: How Is This Not Better? – Netflix Review

Seriously, you have Sarah Paulson, how do you mess this up?

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

In 1947, a man named Edmund Tolleson (Finn Witrock) murders four priests. He is arrested and committed to a hospital in Northern California. At the same time, Mildred Ratched (Sarah Paulson), a former army nurse, applies at the hospital and manages to manipulate events in order to get in the building. She quickly schemes to make herself invaluable to the institution and its head, Dr. Hanover (Jon Jon Briones), a promoter of progressive mental health care (for the 1940s), while avoiding the eye of Head Nurse Betsy Bucket (Judy Davis). It turns out that Ratched’s presence there at the same time as Tolleson might not be an accident, and that one monster may lead to another.

She’s got a great sense of style.

END SUMMARY

Okay, I’ll be frank, I hated this series. I had difficulty even finishing it, and I’m the guy who has sat through Killer Pinata and Clownado. However, I’m going to try to take the high road and start off with what it did right. First, it’s very stylistically appealing. It’s got a sort of gothic 40s vibe, much like some of the retro seasons of American Horror Story, and it does work well. The costuming is great, in particular Ratched’s outfits. The cinematography and sound design both compliment the visuals further. Second, the performances are great. Paulson, while I don’t believe her to be the same character that Louise Fletcher made great in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, delivers a powerful performance as a brilliant but broken woman. Finn Wittrock plays a menacing and psychotic killer, something he displays early on when he commits four brutal murders, but one who does have a kinder and more human side in certain situations. Judy Davis and Sharon Stone both deliver great supporting performances, but the standout supporting character is Cynthia Nixon as Gwendolyn Briggs, a political operative who builds a close relationship with Ratched.

The hair must take a long time to get right.

However, there are three major things that bother me about this series. First, while the style is great, it’s almost completely indistinguishable from American Horror Story, which is ALSO a Ryan Murphy show. It robs the show of any potential uniqueness. Second, as I said earlier, nothing about this show seems to be related to the previous character of Nurse Ratched. Louise Fletcher’s portrayal is one of the greatest in film history, usually listed as one of the best villains ever. However, the strength of the character was that she never had to be outright threatening, because everyone always knew that she was in control. That control, though, always seemed somewhat necessary because of her position at the hospital, meaning that there was at least some justification for her actions. Until the end of the film, she has mostly been doing her job, and that’s the first time we realize just how far she’ll go when pushed. In this show, she starts off as a villainous schemer and just gets crazier. I can’t ever imagine this character becoming that one any more than Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker could become Mark Hamill’s. I’m hating this “origin story that isn’t” craze. Last, this show is pointlessly convoluted. The plot is not just insane at points, but offensively so. In American Horror Story: Asylum, the point of having a ridiculously convoluted story with changing rules was to make the audience feel crazy like the characters. In this, we’re supposed to be relating to Ratched, a character who wants to organize insanity, but instead just keeps making it worse. 

I mean, you can see how one becomes the other, not really.

Overall, just watch the movie and save yourself some time.

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Julie and the Phantoms: It’s High School Musical: Ghost Edition – Netflix Review

I take a look at this adaptation of a Brazilian show about a ghost rock band. 

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Julie Molina (Madison Reyes) is a high schooler in an elite music program, however, she has been unable to sing since the death of her mother a year prior. One day, while going through her mother’s belongings, she finds a CD for the ’90s band Sunset Curve. A band on the cusp of making it, their careers ended tragically when three of the four band members ate tainted hot dogs and died. When she plays it, she finds herself seeing the three dead musicians: Luke (Charlie Gillespie), Alex (Owen Patrick Joyner), and Reggie (Jeremy “Finn from Adventure Time” Shada). Only she can see or hear the members, unless they’re playing music. It turns out that people can hear them when they play, but when they play with Julie, they become completely visible. Once they stop playing, they disappear, making people think they’re a hologram band called Julie and the Phantoms. Turns out, they’re pretty great, to the point that they’re sought after by a powerful ghost named Caleb Covington (Cheyenne Jackson) to be his house band.

Fun fact: They can teleport their instruments, including that drum riser. How, no one knows.

END SUMMARY

I turned this show on because it looked light and I wanted something to fall asleep to. I then failed to fall asleep for like four hours because it was just so much fun. A big part of it is that the music is, appropriately, awesome. While some of the songs feel like filler, any time Madison Reyes is on-screen, she’s belting out a hell of a performance, particularly when she’s accompanied on vocals by Charlie Gillespie. The songs are usually catchy but the lyrics are often extremely touching and the set-up to the performances tend to provide a heavy emotional aspect to the performance. It relates music to what it’s always been, a pure form of human expression and connection. I’ll also wager that no one can watch the sequence “Unsaid Emily” without at least feeling something inside. 

They’re a hell of a duet.

The show is fairly formulaic, but it actually does a fun job of mocking the tropes it embraces. It also often subverts them in unexpected ways. For example, Julie’s rival, Carrie (Savannah May), runs her own band that is like the Misfits to Julie’s Jem and the Holograms (Get it?). However, Carrie is depicted as being a former friend of Julie who resents her because Carrie works harder than Julie does. Additionally, Julie wins almost all of their verbal sparring matches in legitimately clever ways. It’s just a few extra touches that make the show a little more interesting than it normally would be. 

Also, supportive best friend Flynn (Jadah Marie) is great.

Overall, it’s a fun show and I recommend it if you like musicals or shows that are just light distractions.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Enola Holmes: Great Performance, Fun Story – Netflix Review

Sherlock Holmes’ younger sister gets her own adventure.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Enola Holmes (Millie Bobby Brown) is the youngest child of the Holmes family after her older brothers Mycroft (Sam Claflin) and Sherlock (Henry Cavill). Raised alone by her mother, Eudoria (Helena Bonham Carter), Enola is taught to be independent (particularly for a woman in the 1890s) and is educated in cryptography, strategy, and even martial arts. When her mother disappears, the older Holmes brothers attempt to send Enola to a finishing school under the abusive Miss Harrison (Fiona Shaw), but Enola escapes. In her flight, she encounters a young man who is revealed to be a missing Marquess, Viscount Tewkesbury (Louis Partridge) who is being pursued by a menacing man. The pair escape together before getting separated. Enola now wishes to find the Viscount as well as her mother while avoiding the eyes of the greatest detective in the world and his smarter older brother. 

A family of some distinction.

END SUMMARY

While I do read a number of Sherlock Holmes spin-offs, I don’t think I’ve read the source material which inspired this movie. I’ve heard that the books are better, but I can say that it is hard to write a character that can match Millie Bobby Brown’s portrayal. It’s not just that she does such a great job of portraying a smart outcast woman in Victorian England, it’s that she is unbelievably likeable. Even though her character often breaks the fourth wall and falls back on some overused tropes, she’s so charming that you don’t even care. A big strength is how much she can convey to the camera with just a look. Comedy, concern, caring, things that don’t begin with C. She also has great comic timing when she does her breaks and the deliveries of the lines in them, but she also nails the more somber emotional moments. It reminded me of Fleabag, something that wouldn’t have shocked me if I’d realized that Harry Bradbeer, the director of this film, was also the director of that show. Given the heavy feminist themes of both, I feel like this is almost the young persons’ introduction to the same humor that Phoebe Waller-Bridge brought to the screen. If they want to cast Waller-Bridge as an older Enola Holmes in a future movie (or as Irene Adler), I want everyone involved to know I will throw money at the screen with such force that Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate will feel it. 

This look is so damned perfect. She’s so talented.

Henry Cavill portrays a different version of Sherlock Holmes than we usually see. He’s more grounded than Robert Downey, Jr.’s version and more human than Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal. He is still brilliant, but since he’s not the focus, it comes off almost more impressive because we just see him working things out in the background. He also seems more caring, possibly because this is the first version we’ve seen interacting with a family member who actually likes him. However, Sam Claflin’s portrayal of Mycroft, who is essentially the villain of the piece, stands at odds with most interpretations of the character. He’s a misogynist, a classist, and tends to shout loudly. Additionally, he’s often wrong, which is probably the biggest difference from the canonical version. But, I will say, he’s a fun villain, because he’s really just a representation of an archaic mindset and watching Enola rebel against it is cathartic to everyone’s inner teenager. 

He’s the only version of Sherlock Holmes that can block bullets.

The actual mystery of the film is pretty great, particularly in watching Enola slowly unraveling it. She’s clearly brilliant, but she doesn’t have the practical experience of Sherlock Holmes, nor does she have the ability to operate independently, due to her status as a woman. She does a good job to try and overcome it, but often ends up just dressing as a boy to get by. Still, it’s fun to watch her work.

Louis Partridge is great as the Marquess. He’s very surprisingly quick and fun.

Overall, I really liked this movie, but now I need a movie with Phoebe Waller-Bridge as Irene Adler. I’m going to start #IreneWallerBridge on Twitter and see if anyone cares (they won’t).

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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The Art of Self Defense: The Marketplace of Fear – Hulu Review

I take a look at this strange film about modern masculinity. No, not Fight Club.

SUMMARY (Spoilers)

Casey Davies (Jesse Eisenberg) is an accountant who lives a solitary life. One evening he is brutally attacked by a motorcycle gang, hospitalizing him. When he recovers, he starts to get paranoid about his safety. He considers buying a gun, but instead attends a free karate class taught by “Sensei” (Alessandro Nivola). Casey meets Anna (Imogen Poots), a brown belt who teaches the children’s classes, and becomes friends with Henry (David Zellner), the Blue Belt. Casey dedicates himself fully to the class and soon is advanced to yellow belt. Sensei invites Casey to the night classes, which are more extreme, and tries to get Casey to change his life in order to become an alpha male. Unfortunately, while it impresses his douchier co-workers, Casey gets fired for throat-punching his boss… as you would expect.

So much of the movie is thinking about throat punching.

At the night class, Henry sneaks in and Sensei breaks his arm. Anna brutally spars with a new black belt and beats him unconscious. She reveals that Sensei won’t make a woman a black belt. Sensei hires Casey as the dojo’s accountant and helps Casey track down and beat up a man who Sensei claims was part of the gang that injured Casey. It’s revealed that the man was innocent and Sensei records Casey attacking him as blackmail. Casey returns home to find that someone has killed his dog using a technique from the dojo. He accuses Sensei, who denies it.

He also wears a yellow belt everywhere.

Sensei takes a number of students out to ride motorcycles and orders them to attack people. Anna and Casey are partnered and attack an undercover police officer, who shoots Anna. Casey then kills the officer. Casey takes Anna home and finds a new dog, a German Shepherd, at his house. Casey heads back to the Dojo and finds tapes confirming that Sensei’s students were the gang that attacked Casey. Sensei thought that the threat of a roving gang would increase enrollment in self-defense. Casey challenges Sensei to a death match and Sensei agrees, however, Casey just shoots him in the head when he bows. Casey tells everyone that he used a mystical karate technique that mimics a gunshot using his finger and takes over the Dojo, making Anna a black-belt and taking over the children’s class himself. 

END SUMMARY

I’m surprised that I never saw this movie when it first came out because I do tend to like Jesse Eisenberg’s movies, particularly dark comedies like this one. I think when he’s got a good script he can bring a good performance, but he’s best when he’s a quirky little oddball. In this film, he’s the outsider from the beginning, constantly being the butt of jokes among his co-workers and really only being invited to stuff by his very odd boss. Very early on, we see him brutally beaten, now afraid to even do the modest amount of living that he was doing before. It works great because Eisenberg manages to come off as constantly terrified while also attempting to suppress his emotions. He’s unable to show his fear as much as he wants, because that’s not what guys do, and that’s what this film is about: Masculinity.

The gun buying sequence is pretty great.

Casey is a man who is manipulated by fear into accepting a cult-like mentality that is framed about attempting to recapture the supposed lost masculinity of the modern man. It’s designed to ensure that women are inferior, with Anna never being allowed to be a black belt even though she is clearly the best student. It’s also designed to reframe everything into a single structure where the “highest” position is a person who has achieved an arbitrary skill, Karate mastery, in order to justify the hierarchy. Things that are considered “weak,” like listening to music that isn’t heavy metal, being friends with other passive men, and even owning a small dog, are not acceptable. Later, we find out that Sensei uses traditional cult tactics to force loyalty in his members as well as to inspire fear in order to gain more students, who will in turn cause more fear. It’s hard not to see the thematic similarities to Fight Club, even though this is a very different take. At the end of the film, Casey destroys everything by recognizing the truths: Sensei is crazy and Karate is not particularly useful in a world where people own guns. It’s a metaphor for how you escape a cult mentality. 

If you’re in a group that stresses the inequality of women, leave.

Overall, I liked this movie. I recommend giving it a try if you haven’t.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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CarousHell: It’s a Murdering Unicorn and it’s Pretty Fun – Amazon Prime Review

I take a look at the craziest premise since Killer Sofa.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Duke (Steve Rimpici) is a carousel unicorn who is sentient. Unfortunately, he is trapped on a carousel until one day Laurie (Se’ Marie) brings her gross little brother Lunchbox (Teague Shaw) to the park while she’s supposed to be babysitting. Lunchbox wipes his… probably everything, honestly, on the unicorn, finally convincing Duke to get off the carousel and seek bloody revenge. The only one who knows how to stop him is the park’s mascot Cowboy Cool (P.J. Gaynard). Unaware, Laurie and Lunchbox head to a party hosted by Sarah (Haley Madison) and Preston (Chris Proud), two local unicorn fans. The other guests include a host of stereotypes (and oddities) and they’re soon joined by Pizza Guy Joe (Director and Writer Steve Rudzinski). However, Duke soon shows up trying to get to Lunchbox and he’s willing to kill anyone who gets in his way… or in his vicinity. 

Behold, the face of evil.

END SUMMARY

If you guys remember my review of Killer Sofa, I genuinely found the movie enjoyable because it was so ridiculous to watch a sofa attempt to stalk and kill people like Michael Myers. This movie instead decides to make the joke of having a carousel unicorn, which cannot move, kill people like a combination of Jason Vorhees and the bad guy from Revenge of the Ninja. I’m not even kidding, he actually has shuriken and random weapons that he can somehow not only use but is extremely proficient with. Because of that, almost all of the kills in this movie are creative, graphic, and entertaining as hell. Duke monologues in a way that expresses a dispassion and dissatisfaction with his existence right from the beginning. He is having an existential crisis related to being considered an object while still being sentient which gives him an honestly kind of interesting backstory for the killer in a cheap horror movie. It’s not expanded on much beyond a few monologues, but it’s still more than many of these films give us.

Also, he kills a clown, so I think Duke might be the hero.

The human characters honestly seem to be every stereotype exaggerated beyond the point of absurdity. Preston is a Bro who is obsessed with that universe’s equivalent of My Little Pony, making him a literal brony. His girlfriend Sarah is so obsessed with unicorns that she is responsible for at least two of the more disturbing scenes in the film (yes, because she has sex with a carousel unicorn). Laurie isn’t just the slutty girl, she’s so slutty she’s willing to have sex in front of her little brother and is willing to make dozens of double entendres to the pizza guy. The French siblings, who are actually revealed to be Quebecois, are snooty and incestuous. Then there’s Joe, the Pizza Guy, who spends almost all of the film on his quest to get $42.35 plus tip (I think that was the number) for delivering pizzas. He completely misses or rejects any of Laurie’s attempts to seduce him in the name of completing his delivery and keeping his job. It’s actually pretty hilarious at times. Unfortunately, the scenes between the humans sometimes go on for a bit too long and you just start wondering why a movie about a killer unicorn isn’t getting to the killing already.

He’s the life of the party, but these guys don’t know he’s alive.

When it comes down to it, the biggest problem with this movie is that it sometimes is trying to be ironically so bad it’s good and succeeds and sometimes it’s trying to be legitimately funny, but much of the time it’s not quite pulling off either. I will say that almost every scene with Duke is amusing as hell, but the scenes with the humans in the movie sometimes go on for way too long. There are some great jokes peppered in, including another serial killer randomly being in Duke’s path, as well as most of Duke’s one-liners, but the characters needed just a little more polish before they got on screen. Then again, it’s a low-budget horror movie about a killer unicorn, so maybe I’m overthinking it. Either way, at 70 minutes, you aren’t losing too much if you give it a try. Just maybe grab a drink sometimes when the humans have been onscreen for more than 2 minutes straight. 

Unless it’s Cowboy Cool, because he’s the man.

Overall, if you’re a fan of low-budget goofy horror, this is right up your alley. If you’re sensitive to gore or gross-out humor, you might want to catch the next ride. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Futurama Fridays – S7E1 “The Bots and the Bees”

Okay, kids, it’s time to learn about… oh, right, it’s in the title.

SUMMARY

Professor Farnsworth (Billy West) reveals that he purchased a new vending machine named Bev (Wanda Sykes) for the office. Fry (West) quickly becomes addicted to Bev’s Slurm Loco, leading him to start glowing green and not sleeping. Bender (John DiMaggio) starts off hostile towards Bev, but she turns out to be better at insults than she is. He goes out to a bar to drink away his pain and picks up two robot floozies. He takes them back to Planet Express, but Bev ends up insulting the girls and spraying them with Slurm until they leave. Bender and Bev start fighting, but then eventually move to having sex. The next day, Bev gives birth to a tiny robot who looks like Bender. Bender denies paternity, until the baby says “Wipe my tiny metal ass.” 

She’s a big lady and Bender is down with that.

Bev starts to take care of the child and Bender is wary of fatherhood. When asked how it’s possible for him to impregnate another robot, Bender is shown a video explaining that robots can reproduce sexually. Bender decides to relinquish paternity, something Leela (Katey Sagal) endorses, as she believes Bender would be a terrible parent. When he tries, however, Bev instead leaves the child, Ben (Phil LaMarr), with Bender and takes off. Bender tries to raise the child, bonding with him over their love of bending. Ben wants to learn how to bend as well, but it turns out that bending is matrilineal. Farnsworth, taking a look at Ben’s specs, informs Bender that Ben only has one slot for memory in his head, meaning he can’t have a bending card installed. Ben will never bend. At his 13 day old celebration, he is set to be upgraded to a manbot. He thanks Bender for being a great dad, only for Bev to return to reclaim him.

Why do robots get acne?

Bender refuses to give custody to Bev, but she reveals Bender’s original certificate of abandonment, allowing her to take Ben. Bender eventually rescues Ben from Bev’s trailer, but the pair are pursued by the police. Bender mangles his arms trying to bend a helicopter and needs Ben to bend a set of steel bars. Unfortunately, Ben can’t and the police and Bev catch up. However, Bev gives birth to another baby, courtesy of police officer URL (DiMaggio). Because this gives her another child, Bev lets Bender keep Ben. However, Ben’s dream is to bend, so Bender has Ben’s memory, including his memories of Bender. Bender tries to take Ben to enroll in Bending College, but the registration is in an hour and the air is filled with fog. Fry, now glowing radioactively, acts as the Rudolph so that the ship can fly.

END SUMMARY

This episode has one of the most ridiculous premises in a show often filled with ridiculous premises. I would say that they needed to get an unplanned pregnancy storyline in, but they sort of already did that in “Kif Gets Knocked Up a Notch.” I guess it’s more of an unplanned fatherhood episode, then. By using Bender, they could give us a full parenting episode that wouldn’t have to take several years. However, they also had to somehow justify how a robot can be a parent accidentally. The concept of robot sex has always been insane, but now we find out that robot sex does actually have a mechanical purpose. They don’t really explain how robots age, but let’s be fair, that would be too much to handle. 

Ben can lift a girder at like 2 days old. Does he get stronger?

This episode barely has any subplot, with the closest thing to a B plot being Fry’s addiction to Slurm, but they needed to focus on Bender bonding with Ben so that at the end of the episode Bender could actually have an emotional connection that requires him to make an uncharacteristic sacrifice. Then again, we never see Ben again, so maybe he just wanted out of parenting. At least at the end they tie Fry back in, even if it’s extremely convoluted.

It’s nice to see Bender be genuinely nice.

Overall, at least it’s an entertaining episode.

FAVORITE JOKE

Hands down, this is the Temple of Robotology’s sign: Happy ln(bΩmer). The ln means the natural log and the omega here represents resistance, which is measured in Ohms. So, this translates to “Happy Natural Log(B(Ohm)mer.” This is a reference to the Jewish Holiday Lag BaOmer, which celebrates Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, the disciple of Rabbi Akiva. I don’t think there’s any further connection between the holiday and the episode, but a math pun is always a win.

See you next week, meatbags.

PREVIOUS – Episode 102: Reincarnation

NEXT – Episode 104: A Farewell to Arms

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.