Doom Patrol: Insane Adult Superhero Comedy (Seasons 1 and 2) – HBO Max Mini-Review

If you haven’t given this a look, you’re missing out.

SUMMARY

Cliff Steele (Brendan Fraser/Riley Shanahan) was a professional racecar driver who was killed in an accident. He was revived in a robot body by Dr. Niles Caulder (Timothy Dalton), a scientist who leads a group of individuals that have tragic origins and fantastic powers. They include Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero), a woman with 64 personalities and 64 superpowers, Rita Farr (April Bowlby), an actress whose body is elastic, and Larry Trainor (Matt Bomer/Matthew Zuk), a pilot who is possessed by a radioactive “negative spirit.” In the first season, Niles goes missing, and the team, along with Vic “Cyborg” Stone (Joivan Wade) has to rescue him from the powerful Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk). In the second season, the team has to deal with the arrival of Niles’ daughter, Dorothy Spinner (Abigail Shapiro), who is likely to end the world with her imaginary friend, the Candlemaker (Lex Lang). 

They’re weirdly photogenic for a group of “social outcasts.”

END SUMMARY

I was skeptical about this show because it was originally shown as a spin-off of the show Titans on DC Universe. If you didn’t read my review of that, my opinion of that series was not positive. Doom Patrol, however, is an entirely different animal. While the show is still dark like Titans, this is a bitter, cynical dark comedy and it is done really well. Probably in an attempt to keep the series separate, the two shows have since been established to be in different continuities, although a “Doom Patrol” does still exist in the Titans universe. 

But that Doom Patrol is nowhere near as fun.

The show mostly duplicates the feel of Grant Morrison’s famous revival run on the comic book series. While the original Doom Patrol was a straightforward group of outcasts banded together as a superhero team, Morrison decided to age-up the series and make it more surreal and with more meta-commentary. He focused on making the universe in which the Doom Patrol operated bleaker and weirder than the average comic book being put out by DC at the time. Just how the comic’s nature differentiated itself from other contemporary series, so too does this show set itself apart from most of the other superhero shows on television right now. For example, a fun part of the first season is that the show is actually narrated by Alan Tudyk, who is both a genre-savvy character and also aware of his fictional nature. Not only is his commentary hilarious, but the fact that he’s narrating the events of a show in which he regularly appears also gives him an air of omnipotence, raising his threat-level as a villain. 

Dear every television producer: Alan Tudyk makes anything better.

While all of the main characters are pretty interesting and have wildly different personalities and motivations, the show’s ability to supply inventive guest characters is perhaps its greatest strength. Entire episodes typically revolve around the group making contact with some strange new entity, ranging from a donkey that can eat a town to a guy who can reshape reality by flexing his abs. Hell, there’s a recurring character that is a sentient cross-dressing, pan-sexual street. It’s populated by people who need sanctuary from the cruel world. The second season has focused less on guest characters and more on exploring the ramifications of what has happened to our central cast, but each episode has still featured a number of interesting worlds to explore and people to meet. This keeps the jokes and hilarious situations coming at a regular pace, which complements the dark nature of the world appropriately.

Yes, the street talks through signs.

Overall, just a really well done show. 

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Umbrella Academy (Season 2): Practice Makes Better – Netflix Review

The most dysfunctional family of superheroes on TV comes back for seconds.

SUMMARY (Spoilers for Season 1)

In 1989, forty-three women around the world gave birth to children despite not being pregnant minutes beforehand. A rich alien in human form named Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) buys seven of the children: Luther/Number One (Tom Hopper), Diego/Number Two (David Castañeda), Allison/Number Three (Emmy Raver-Lampman), Klaus/Number Four (Robert Sheehan), Number Five (Aidan Gallagher), Ben/Number Six (Justin H. Min), and Vanya/Number Seven (Ellen Page). All of the children are gifted with fantastic abilities, except for Vanya. They grow up to be the Umbrella Academy, a superhero team that split up after the death of Ben and the disappearance of Number Five. After the death of Hargreeves, the group reunites just in time for Number Five to return and announce that the apocalypse is imminent. Unfortunately, it turns out that the apocalypse is Vanya. More unfortunately, they fail. In a last ditch effort, as the Earth is dying, Five takes the group back in time to try and fix the situation.

The sunglasses show that they’re sexy, but not trying to be.

It turns out that time travel is not an exact science, so the siblings end up getting stranded in different parts of the early 1960s in Dallas, Texas. It also turns out that their jump to the past results in nuclear armageddon happening in 1963, shortly after Kennedy gets killed. Five goes back one more time, giving the team less than two weeks to reunite and prevent the apocalypse. Correctly, this time. 

END SUMMARY

I liked the first season of this show quite a bit, but, when I rewatched it in anticipation of this release, there were a handful of things that did irk me slightly. The first is that Diego was used more as the butt of a joke than as the great psychological specimen he could be. He’s the only one of them who operates as an actual vigilante, which makes him rife for deconstruction, but he mostly gets mocked for wearing tights. There were better openings for development everywhere, but he kind of ended up lacking. The same was true of Allison, as a celebrity who started as a superhero. Instead, most of her development focused on her difficulties as a mother in a dissolving marriage and her feelings for Luther. Lastly, the show itself tried to spend too much time on the mystery of the apocalypse, rather than just using that as a way to get all of the characters to interact. This season fixes all of those flaws and even just flat-out redirects some of the characters who had mostly used up their plotlines into much more interesting ones.

The new bad guys are three Swedish hitmen. It’s pretty cool.

While a lot of the season could feel like a re-hashed version of the first, particularly since the setup is still “dysfunctional family of superheroes need to stop an impending apocalypse that they don’t know the cause of,” most of the characters have changed massively from their time in the past. This makes all of their interactions feel fresh, and gives us a decent amount of new information about the core of their characters. They also expanded the role of Ben, the dead member, which was a great decision. Perhaps the smartest decision is that the season starts off by showing us a vision of what the Umbrella Academy COULD be if they actually managed to achieve their potential. They’re a force stronger than almost anything mankind has ever seen, and when organized together they can be unstoppable. Then, the show takes that from us almost immediately afterwards and shows us the reality that they’re all deeply flawed individuals that keep themselves from being that apex. Just like the rest of us do every day.

Yes, Five is still wearing bowling shoes.

The one thing that I most realized I enjoyed about the first season of the show was how well the show used their soundtrack. While this season doesn’t quite manage to match the amazing sequence of the teleport fight set to “Istanbul, not Constantinople” from the first season, they still did a great job continuing to emphasize action or development through music. 

Don’t ax Five to dance, though.

Overall, if you liked the first season, I think you’ll like this one. If you didn’t like the first season, you might like this one, so… give it a try?

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The Battered Bastards of Baseball: Always Stick it to The Man – Netflix Mini-Review

If you love an underdog story, then you will love this.

SUMMARY

In the 1970s, Actor Bing Russell, father of Kurt Russell, started the only independent ball club (not owned by a major league team) in the Northwestern US, the Portland Mavericks. True to their maverick name, they did not play by the “rules” that defined traditional teams. They hired outcasts who had been kicked out of the Majors, they hired people who had aged past their primes, they hired minorities as coaches, they had the first female general manager in baseball. Moreover, they won a lot against teams that were better funded. During their entire run, they never had a losing record. Their story is that of a scrappy group of warriors rebelling against the MLB Corporate overlords. If the whole thing wasn’t true, it’d sound ridiculous.

In glorious ’70s quality film.

END SUMMARY

This is one of the best documentaries that I’ve seen in a long time. Due to my lack of interest in most professional baseball since the 90s, I hadn’t really considered watching it when it came out, but that was definitely my loss. You don’t have to like baseball to like this movie; in fact, knowing almost nothing about baseball won’t hurt you at all. This story isn’t about how a team made great catches or hit home runs, it’s about a team with a lot of personalities that would never have been allowed on a field in any other circumstances. 

Mostly, the haircuts would be banned until the 80s.

Much of the movie is narrated by the surviving members of the team, including Kurt Russell, who played for them briefly before injuries forced him back to acting, Todd Field, the Oscar-nominated writer/director who was a batboy for the team, Rob Nelson, Jim Swanson, Frank Peters, Robert Richardson, and Jon Yoshiwara. A ton of other great personalities appear in archive footage, due to the amount of film clips there were of the team, mostly due to the fact that they were fan favorites. 

It was a fun time for everyone.

While a few elements of the movie didn’t really work great for me, mostly the ways in which they present the newspaper clippings, those were overshadowed by the clear love of the story that comes out through the film. It makes sense, given that the directors are the grandsons of Bing Russell, Chapman and Maclain Way. There are an insane number of twists and explanations at the end, alone, that would have made the entire film worth watching, and it feels like the creators knew exactly what they were doing with that final set of revelations. Moreover, the final act crystallizes what the Mavericks were really doing, trying to prove that the monopoly of Major League Baseball was really just killing America’s love of the game. Given the fact that American interest in the sport has been dropping compared to the amount of money spent on payroll and promotion for the last 20 years, they had a point.

Preach, brother.

Overall, great film. Give it a watch some time. 

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Vivarium: Nature is Cruel, Even Unnaturally – Amazon Prime Review

A couple are trapped in a suburban nightmare.

SUMMARY

Gemma (Imogen Poots) and Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) are a couple who are looking to buy their first house together. Gemma is a schoolteacher and Tom is a landscaper. They visit a real estate agent, Martin (Jonathan Aris), who tells them of a new development called Yonder. Yonder is revealed to be filled with identical houses, all of them empty except for number 9. Martin disappears while showing them the location, and when Tom and Gemma try to leave, they can’t find an exit to the suburb, eventually running out of gas. No matter what they try, they can’t get out of the maze of houses. They end up finding a box filled with food, and a second box filled with a baby, with instructions that if they raise the baby, they will be released. Unfortunately, the child (Côme Thiry/Senan Jennings/Eanna Hardwicke) proves to be just as unnatural as Yonder itself.

I feel like this is a number of red flags.

END SUMMARY

First of all, both of the leads in this movie are fantastic actors who I have loved in other films, including The Art of Self-Defense, their previous collaboration. They’ve both got a knack for balancing dramatic roles with a heavy dose of relatability and humor. This movie takes full advantage of that by having just the right amount of levity to drive home how horrible their situation is. We see two people whose relationship is suffering not necessarily because of their own actions, but because they are in a situation which is literally driving them both insane. The third lead role belongs to Senan Jennings, who I have never seen in anything before, but who absolutely nails his role as the Boy. Not only is his voice constantly unnerving because it sounds so adult despite his young age (I think he was only like 8 when filming this), but everything about him seems like a mockery of humanity. Since he ultimately seems to be just trying to copy Gemma and Tom in order to better understand how humanity acts, much as how the suburb is set up to be a pale imitation of how humanity lives, this is just perfect.

Seriously, this kid’s freaking great.

That’s really where this movie shines. It’s uncomfortable. It’s not that Gemma and Tom are really being tortured most of the time, although having a crazy child that is rapidly aging would be disconcerting for anyone, but their existence is not really existence. The food they have doesn’t have taste. The house they live in doesn’t have any real smells. There’s even a great scene of them going into their car just because it’s the only thing they have left that still feels “real.” The houses are too identical. Even the clouds aren’t right, because they just look like clouds. It’s like living in a twisted caricature of reality. Watching how much it starts to drain the psyche of our leads, particularly Poots, just drives home that this is a torture which is more cruel than any thumbscrews could ever be. 

God, so disturbing.

The one big problem I have with the movie is that it might be a bit too direct in trying to tell everyone what it’s “about.” The film opens with footage of a cuckoo bird’s life cycle, which consists of being placed in another bird’s nest as an egg, hatching before the other eggs and developing faster than most species of birds, which allows the adolescent cuckoo to knock the other chicks out of the nest. Having killed their competition, the cuckoo is then raised by the mother bird until it’s an adult. So, that’s a bit of a massive spoiler about this film’s arc. Also, the title tells us that the neighborhood is supposed to be a Vivarium, a place where life is grown while observed as part of data collection or experimentation. I think the film was clear enough, so it feels unnecessary to have it spelled out so much, but maybe that’s nitpicking. 

Hey, it was just a critique.

Overall, this was a solid horror film. I recommend giving it a try. 

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Futurama Fridays – S6E22 “Fry Am The Egg Man”

Fry tries to hatch an egg and ends up creating a monster.

SUMMARY

Fry (Billy West), Bender (John DiMaggio), and Leela (Katey Sagal) stop by Fishy Joe’s restaurant after a mission, but Leela becomes upset about the fast food restaurant’s lack of healthy options and questionable ingredients. In response, Leela forces the crew to start buying their food at a farmer’s market. She buys a bunch of eggs that a farmer found in the woods and blackmails the entire Planet Express staff into doing brunch. After discovering that the eggs are fertilized, Fry refuses to eat his and instead decides to hatch it. Eventually, it hatches into a tiny blue alien with acid spit that Fry names “Mr. Peppy.” The group wants to kill it, but Fry tells them he plans on raising it.

Lrrr also orders at Fishy Joe’s. Try the veal.

After a few weeks, Mr. Peppy becomes extremely large, to the point that it can easily rip Bender’s limbs off. Professor Farnsworth (West) eventually discovers that Mr. Peppy is a Bone Vampire, a species that sucks the bones out of its victims. After finding out that Bone Vampires are extinct on their home planet, Doohan 6, the Scottish planet, and reproduce asexually, Leela suggests releasing Mr. Peppy to repopulate the species. After letting him go, the crew goes to a local pub on Doohan 6. They meet Handsome Major Angus McZongo, Esq. (Maurice LaMarche), who hits on Leela before informing them that the planet’s residents had killed all of the Bone Vampires because they kept eating all of the livestock. Fry insists that Mr. Peppy isn’t dangerous, so McZongo agrees to let the creature live for a few days while he tries to woo Leela. 

Mr. Peppy clearly doesn’t like “cuddles”

Soon they find a collection of boneless sheep and McZongo declares that Mr. Peppy must die. Fry insists on putting his pet down himself. After hunting for hours, Fry finally shoots at the figure attacking the sheep, but it turns out to be Angus McZongo. It’s revealed that he pretended to be the Bone Vampire in order to regain his popularity as a hunter, due to Mr. Peppy being a vegetarian. They soon discover that Mr. Peppy has abandoned his vegetarian ways, however, and gone back to eating the bones from sheep. Rather than killing him, the villagers celebrate, because after the sheep get killed, they’re now just boneless hunks of mutton which can be easily sold. Leela and the crew later head to Fishy Joe’s again, where Leela orders the mutton, reasoning that at least they know where it comes from now.

Handsome is relative on Doohan 6.

END SUMMARY

This episode always seems like a natural extension of the episode of The Simpsons where Bart hatches what he believes are two bird eggs only for them to be ecosystem-wrecking lizards, which was itself a twist on the episode of The Andy Griffith Show called “Opie the Birdman.” The Simpsons episode was written by David X. Cohen, one of the creators of Futurama along with Matt Groening. It always feels like I’m glimpsing something about how fiction represents society’s progression when you see a plotline that starts with a sincere parable about parenting eventually becomes a sarcastic tale of good intentions wrecking a town and eventually a nearly surreal story of a monster that saves a village of strange Scotsmen in space. If you look over how fiction usually evolves, this tends to be cyclical, so maybe one day in the future we’ll be back to sincere emotional tales as the thing that people want to see again. Or maybe sincerity is dead forever. It’s hard to tell as of 2020.

Lisa gets that this is horrifying.

This episode does have one of the more satisfying setups, because it doesn’t just get dropped after the plot moves to the second act. Instead, there’s a nice final scene where Leela accepts her small victory, even though she ends up putting a ton of cheese filling in her supposedly “natural” meal. Just like the rest of us, Leela’s only willing to try a certain amount to stand on principle before accepting a big bucket of fried goodness. 

Plus, this guy’s at the Farmer’s Market.

Overall, I enjoy parts of this episode, but the actual scenes with Fry hatching the egg and raising Mr. Peppy take like 7 minutes and are not particularly entertaining. 

FAVORITE JOKE

One of the people on Doohan 6 originally speaks in Gaelic when they meet him, which is understandable for a Scottish planet. Hilariously, Leela insists that they speak English, despite this planet likely being as strongly anti-English as it gets (just look up the history of Scotland for why that would be). However, the next two times they see him, he doesn’t speak Gaelic, but instead shouts a series of words with a heavy accent. The first time it’s “Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff,” a reference to three of the Hogwarts houses. The second time, it’s “Dersu Uzala, Yojimbo, Rashomon,” the titles of three films by famed Japanese master filmmaker Akira Kurosawa. I wish they’d thought of a few more of these, but the gag still makes me chuckle. 

See you next week, meatbags.

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DoroHeDoro: It’s Glorious and Gorey… Goreous? – Netflix Anime Mini-Review

I take a look at the story of a guy with a reptile head and his martial arts chef friend.

SUMMARY

Welcome to the Hole. It’s basically a city from Mad Max, except that magic wrecked the world instead of nukes. Sorcerers, a mutant species of humanity created by demons from hell that live in a different dimension, periodically come to the Hole to experiment on the humans that live there. One of those humans was Caiman (Wataru Takagi/Aleks Le), a man who was cursed by a sorcerer to have a giant lizard head. Caiman awoke without any memories and found out that when he puts his mouth around a Sorcerer’s head, that a second person crawls out of his throat and decides if that Sorcerer is the one that cursed Caiman. I know that sounds weird, but it’s literally the opening of the show, so get used to it. He’s accompanied by his friend Nikaidō (Reina Kondō/Reba Buhr), a local chef and expert fighter. The pair work together to eliminate Sorcerers from the Hole and find out who cursed Caiman. They end up drawing the ire of the Sorcerer gangster En (Kenyu Horiuchi/Keith Silverstein) and his lackeys: Shin (Yoshimasa Hosoya/Sean Chiplock), Noi (Yū Kobayashi/Cherami Leigh), Fujita (Kengo Takanashi/Bryce Papenbrook), and Ebisu (Miyu Tomita/Cristina Vee). 

Masks are very popular in the show.

END SUMMARY

From the very beginning, this show makes it clear that it’s not going to shy away from being pretty dang gross. Not only do you see a human being emerge from the throat of a lizard man, you then see a person essentially minced into a number of pieces too great to count. The wood chipper from Fargo was probably more forgiving to Steve Buscemi’s body. This sort of thing happens frequently in the show, although the cartoon effects do lessen the disturbing nature of some of the acts. This show’s not for the faint of heart, is what I’m saying. 

No, he’s not eating him. This is diagnostic.

The world that’s been built here is never fully elaborated on, but what we see of it keeps drawing the viewer further in. Sorcerers basically view humanity as lab rats to be experimented on, with very few humans willing to stand up to them. When we see the range of their abilities, this unchecked domination starts to make a lot of sense. Almost all Sorcerers only have a single ability, like “creating mushrooms” or “bringing stuff back to life,” but those are sometimes taken to horrific ends when it’s revealed that one of the sorcerers can literally just turn people into mushrooms or that bodies don’t have to be whole when they’re resurrected. It’s like everything is taken to a twisted natural conclusion. This includes the fact that once a year, the Hole’s dead come back to life as zombies due to the amount of magic that the Sorcerers leave behind.

Some sorcerers are not just strong, but nearly invulnerable, so there’s that.

The characters are compelling in that nobody really seems to be the “good” guy or the “bad” guy. Caiman is a victim, sure, but he also massacres people for his own enjoyment. Nikaido is the closest we have to an altruist, but she has her own secrets and past issues. En seems malicious, up until you find out that he was the ultimate victim in his youth and is seeking to break up a horrible societal problem. Most of his henchmen are similarly ambiguous. Everyone kills people or Sorcerers pretty frequently. It makes for a lot of interesting scenes where we know everyone’s motivations, so we feel extra invested in the conflicts. 

The character designs are also a nice blend of form and function.

Overall, it’s a pretty good show. Glad I checked it out.

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Banana Split: A Fun Teen Comedy For Everyone – Netflix Review

A girl finds a strange friendship in her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend.

SUMMARY

April (Hannah Marks) is a smart, funny, and foul-mouthed high school senior. She has been together with her boyfriend Nick (Dylan Sprouse) for the last two years. While they naturally went through some of the big moments together (falling in love, losing their virginities, senior prom), they’re going to colleges on the opposite sides of the country. April and Nick have a hard conversation where he’s disappointed in her decision to go away to college, but she doesn’t realize that they’re broken up until she sees him with another girl online. She goes to a party with her and Nick’s mutual friend Ben (Luke Spencer Roberts), only to find out that the new girl, Clara (Liana Liberato), is there also. When April gets drunk and tries to confront Clara, she instead finds out that Clara was unaware of the situation with Nick when they started seeing each other. Moreover, Clara and April quickly bond and start becoming fast friends. Unfortunately, Clara doesn’t want to break up with Nick, and that’s some kind of tension to deal with in a friendship. 

You can tell they’re friends because they dance like no one’s watching.

END SUMMARY

First off, if you came here looking for a review of The Banana Splits horror film, this is a different movie. I already reviewed that one here.

This movie has fewer flamethrowers, sadly.

The key to Banana Split is that it takes two lead characters that feel like best friends and gives them an almost irreconcilable problem that they constantly have to deal with. If they were older, it would seem stupid that they keep fighting over Nick, a guy who seems to be mostly unimpressive, but since they’re in High School and heading to college, the feelings are relatable to almost anyone who went through that time period. Unfortunately, because you’re familiar with it, you can kind of guess everything that is going to happen, because avoiding kids being stupid is just lying about reality. It’s still funny to watch most of the scenes play out, though, because the chemistry between Marks and Liberato is just that solid. Their friendship is one of the most interesting relationships I’ve seen in a comedy for a while. It’s not like they grow into it, either, it just happens almost the minute they meet. I secretly kept hoping they both would just realize they were more interested in each other than Nick, but, sadly, not that kind of movie.

This for a guy who they can’t trust with the truth.

Another big positive in the movie is that the soundtrack is great. The weird thing is that most of the song choices seem like they should be for people that are a bit older than our characters, but I think that might be a reflection of the fact that the two girls are more mature in some ways than their biological age, which makes it more devastating when they fall prey to immature passions. 

Like threatening to shank someone with a butter knife.

This movie suffers a little bit from the fact that it doesn’t feel like they actually had 88 minutes worth of material, so the film gets stretched by sort of repeating the same scenes or montages in new locations without really adding much to the story. There are a few subplots, including April working at a movie theater with an awkward manager and her having an inappropriate moment with Ben, the Ducky of the movie. Still, the jokes that they use to occupy the time are definitely worth hearing, giving me quite a few chuckles, to the point that I barely even noticed that the plot was just being arbitrarily stretched. It helps that the movie contains a countdown until April’s orientation, meaning that you always know you’re approaching the end of the plot. 

Makes sense, given that it’s the impetus.

When I first heard of this film it was in a Facebook group that compared it to the film Booksmart. While I can say I get the comparison, since both are films featuring smart, fast-talking, dirty-minded high-school girls, Booksmart took home the Gold medal while this film only managed to eke out a bronze. That’s still pretty good, and I recommend seeing this film, but Booksmart was the higher-caliber cinema experience. 

Overall, pretty entertaining. I’d recommend it if you like teen comedies and have some free time.

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Devil’s Gate: Angels We Have Feared on High – Netflix Mini-Review

A missing person investigation turns out to be bigger than expected.

SUMMARY

Agent Daria Francis (Amanda Schull) is assigned to investigate the disappearance of the wife and son of Jackson Pritchard (Milo Ventimiglia). She heads to the town of Devil’s Gate, North Dakota, where she meets with local Sheriff Gruenwell (Jonathan Frakes) and is partnered with local cop Colt (Shawn Ashmore). Pritchard is from an infamous local religious family and his property is covered in lethal booby traps. When they arrive on his property, they find that he claims that his family was abducted by angels. However, it soon becomes apparent that he might not be as crazy as he seems, because it turns out someone is actually coming down from the heavens.

Gun totin’ crazy man sometimes isn’t completely wrong. In fiction.

END SUMMARY

So, this is the first film that Clay Staub has written and directed. Since Staub is known as a second unit director working on most of Zack Snyder’s major motion pictures, it should be no surprise that he is pretty solid behind the camera. The shots are well done throughout the movie and the effects are just the right kind of showy when they’re on screen. The film is pretty dark throughout, but it matches the town that it’s going for. It makes sense that this is the guy that Snyder calls to do his second unit work (which is usually anything that doesn’t involve lead actors). Unfortunately, writing is not featured prior to this on his resume, and the movie suffers from it a little bit. The script is mostly expository, which renders some of the great shots and set design in the movie redundant. Additionally, the pacing on the story is not great. There are about 6 major reveals in the film, but several of them aren’t given enough time to really have the impact that they should.

Particularly the scenes with Bridget Regan as Mrs. Pritchard.

The acting in the film is solid, but I will say that Ventimiglia really brings some solid characterization to a role that could very easily have come off as cliche or even just underwritten. That’s the big problem with the film, honestly. The idea behind it is great, but there were, if anything, too many ideas and not enough done to expand on any of them. It leads to a lot of interesting “twists,” but, again, they don’t really land as hard as they could. The one thing I can say is that it raises a ton of interesting questions, particularly about the intersection between religion and science fiction and about the nature of sentience. 

And that lightning looks cool in any genre.

Overall, not a bad film, nowhere near what the 24% on Rotten Tomatoes would suggest, but it just isn’t quite as good as it should be. 

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 Unicorn: Finding a Third is Menage a Tricky – Hulu Review

Lauren Lapkus and Nick Rutherford star in this tale of a couple trying to branch out.

SUMMARY

Mal and Cal (Lapkus and Rutherford) are a couple that have been together for seven years, engaged for four, and have not yet set a date to get married. They go to the vow renewal of Malory’s parents (Beverly D’Angelo and John Kapelos) and find out that the couple have kept their marriage alive through being sexually adventurous. That evening, the pair go out to try and reinvigorate their relationship and end up deciding that they should have a threesome. They end up running into a very open young woman named Jesse (Lucy Hale), a gay strip club owner/dancer named Tyson (Beck Bennett), and a very helpful “masseuse” named April (Dree Hemingway) in their hunt to find the elusive “unicorn,” the person that is down for a threeway with a couple. 

That face when you realize your parents are swingers.

END SUMMARY

This movie asks the important question: Is everyone having group sex except you? It’s similar to the trope of most high school or college sex comedies where everyone feels like they’re the only one that isn’t sexually active. The thing is, this is never really about having sex or having group sex or whether it’s a good idea or not; just having to ask the question means that you are feeling insecure about something. In the case of the film, it’s that Mal and Cal both are trying to avoid the fact that their relationship has grown extremely stagnant. They feel like the idea of having a threesome is the best way to breathe new life into their rut, but they instead find out that there are lots of things that they didn’t know about each other. 

They’re super awkward.

That’s actually the subtle thing The Unicorn does that separates it from other, similar, sex comedies. There are moments of genuine emotional honesty that come out as the two find out that there are always more layers to the other person than you would expect. Unfortunately, that also means that there are things that the other person didn’t feel comfortable sharing, and if you’ve been together for seven years, you should probably not have a ton of those. Everyone has secrets, to be sure, but most of the ones in this movie are just told to the other person to avoid an honest discussion, something that ends up overwhelming the pair as more and more come out. While Lapkus and Rutherford are both more naturally comical, they also pull off the dramatic scenes well.

There are some really solid emotional scenes.

The supporting cast are also excellent. Each of the potential partners that the couple tries to find are all a different kind of inappropriate for them. Hale plays Jesse as being fairly ambiguous as to what she actually wants, and the final scene with her plays out perfectly. Bennett is… well, Beck Bennett is just damned funny. Here, he thrives on being just the right kind of inappropriate. Hemingway is a combination of effortlessly sexy and naturally understanding and contemplative. They’re all interesting characters that evoke different things from our leads. However, at the end, it seems likely that no one would ever REALLY be the right person for them, because they were only ever trying to find a way to avoid dealing with reality. As such, the right person doesn’t exist, like a unicorn.

God, Beck Bennett nails this character.

Overall, it’s a decent movie, but I wasn’t blown away by 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.

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.