Five Short Reviews

Here are the things I didn’t have time to review this week.


Tom and Janet (Joel McHale and Kerry Bishé) have been married for 14 years and still act like horny newlyweds, constantly in love and lust with each other and doing caring gestures towards each other. This, naturally, drives all of their friends insane. Eventually, they get a visit from a stranger (Stephen Root) before going on a couples’ retreat that changes everyone involved. The thing about this movie is that the idea of having a couple that is so in love that everyone hates them is pretty solid. After all, as they point out, why are you married if you don’t think of your partner as your best friend? The problem is that the movie ends up going too far beyond reality and, honestly, it just plays out pretty blandly. Good premise, bad execution. The performances are really good, which only hurts me more.

This is a Tuesday for them.

The Ones Below

Kate and Justin (Clémence Poésy and Stephen Campbell Moore) are a couple expecting a baby who, through an accident, are blamed by their neighbors for the loss of their pregnancy. Kate begins to suspect that Jon and Theresa (David Morrissey and Laura Birn) are trying to steal her baby, but Justin believes she’s just having a mental breakdown. The biggest problem with this movie is that it doesn’t leave as much ambiguity as you would want for this kind of set-up, nor is the payoff big enough to justify being able to guess the ending early on. Still, there are some good parts to it. It’s not a “must-see,” but it’s shot very well and for a first-time director, there are a number of solid elements. 

Not a fun time.

Leverage: Redemption

If you loved the show Leverage, good news, it’s back. With Noah Wyle coming in as the newby and Aleyse Shannon replacing Aldis Hodge in some of the episodes as the tech person, the team is (mostly) back, albeit without Timothy Hutton (possibly due to the statutory rape allegations). The show pretty much starts to go back to formula, but when it’s a formula as fun as Leverage, you’re not too upset about that. I still absolutely love Gina Bellman, Christian Kane, and Beth Riesgraf in their roles as con-woman, hitter, and thief, respectively. It’s notable that the show has done a lot more “ripped from the headlines” this season, clearly addressing actual criminal behavior in the world that’s going unpunished, which will work for some people more than others. Personally, I liked it.

Noah Wyle is in good company.

Too Hot to Handle (Season 2)

Well, the show about hot and horny people trying to find real romance is back and… yeah, it’s still dumb and trashy and I still watched the whole thing. I think they gave commentator Desiree Birch some better lines this season and it does help. Other than that, it is much the same as last season, with you rooting for some couples and against others. This season seemed to have a lot more brazen rule-breaking, so if you are into that, you will enjoy the show. If you don’t like trash, this will not be your thing.

Marvin and Melinda made me want to scream a lot.

The Naked Director

This show is a fictionalized account of the rise of Japanese adult film director Toru Muranishi (Takayuki Yamada) and adult film star Kaoru Kuroki (Misato Morita). It’s mostly an exploration of the Japanese pornograpnic film industry throughout the 1970s to 90s and how it reshaped Japan’s perception of indecency. It’s very interesting to see how restrictive japanese society was towards sexuality and how it has impacted their societal development over the last few decades.

He’s also an actor.

Netflix Review – Too Hot to Handle: Trashy As It Gets

Netflix gives us a reality show that does not deliver on its title.


Ten single people who are known for their promiscuity are put on an island only to be told that they are in a competition for $100,000 that is dependent on them not doing anything sexual for the next four weeks. Every act they undertake will subtract from the total, including $3000 for a kiss. Meanwhile, the people are encouraged to look for deeper connections with their fellow competitors through a computer monitoring system, named Lana. The show is hosted by former Mayor of Night Vale Desiree Burch. 

If you think you see Jesus in the back row, you’re not the only one.


I was kind of hoping this would be the level of enjoyable trash that Netflix gave us with Love is Blind, but unfortunately this is back to the normal level of reality television. Most of the characters are not particularly likable, probably due to the fact that most of them are attractive enough that they’ve never had to develop actual personalities. There are some contestants that are more relatable and some that are more hateable, but they all rely on being dateable. 

Nicole, the Irish Girl is the best, but everyone already guessed that.

The main conflicts are usually between the group as a whole and some of the more reckless contestants, rather than just between individuals or teams, which creates an interesting dynamic. At the beginning, it is not announced who cause the losses of money, so we do see some interesting situations in which people try to blame each other or deny their guilt or frame others; however, that ultimately ends up falling to the wayside as it becomes more apparent that, despite the relative attractiveness and supposedly enhanced libidos of the people on the island, most of them don’t really have any difficulty in not having sex with strangers and, honestly, there’s not as much drama as you’d expect from a show like this. While the show tries to cover for this by having Desiree Burch provide color commentary, I think most of her “jokes” don’t really land. Given that I find her to be much funnier in interviews and other performances, I’m guessing it’s due to a combination of bad writers and boring subject matter. 

These two are most of the drama, but not in the fun way.

One of the more interesting things that they do in this show, though, is that they periodically have soul-enriching classes that some or all of the contestants participate in. Several of these are interesting, including classes about vulnerability or female empowerment, and I do appreciate a show with such a sex-charged premise encouraging self-care and therapy like this. 

The words workshop seems fun.

Overall, I just didn’t think this show kept my interest as much as I wanted. Since it’s only 9 episodes, it’s not much of an investment, though. I also find it funny that one of the contestants was the guy who made the movie Counterfeiters that was famous for being shot on essentially no budget. I might review that in the future.  For now, here’s an op-ed from another viewer:


I’ve recently heard myself say “getting attached to people is stupid.” This is the mindset that the contestants on the show supposedly had coming in, and supposedly the show is supposed to correct them of their impulse to screw around. This was what I struggled with while watching the show – on the one hand, I strongly believe that sex outside of a relationship or any emotional attachment isn’t wrong or unhealthy on its face, and in many ways it’s the opposite. In particular, the relative ease of dating around in modern society helps keep people from getting stuck in bad relationships. At the same time, sex *is* intimate and kind of a big deal in some ways! You’re letting someone into your personal space, sometimes feelings get kicked up, and it involves a degree of personal risk (especially during these pandemic times.) Like all good things, it’s possible to use it in ways that aren’t healthy.

Pictured: Intimacy without sex.

The show claims a self-improvement premise. Lana states that by preventing the contestants from having sex, she is forcing them to form deeper emotional connections. Couples are rewarded for developing such connections. In one of the various self-improvement workshops, the women discuss the value of their “yoni.” It can all reek a bit of purity culture. Are the couples spending more time communicating and having quality time together because they can’t do other stuff? I don’t really know, these things aren’t mutually exclusive. Some of the relationships on the show didn’t work out, even with this extra time spent building an emotional connection first.


The thing is, it’s kind of a compelling experiment if you’ve spent some time in your life where you had access to many other single people. (College and young adulthood, for a lot of people. And retirement communities.) It’s easy to burn out on the way people conduct themselves in that space. How would things be different if you were forced to go a bit more slowly? I think Chloe benefits from this the most, even though she breaks the rules and kisses both the men she’s interested in. She learned from the first kiss that she wasn’t really into Bryce after all. Shortly after the second, Kori chooses to go out with another girl, and while Chloe is hurt, it could have been arguably more painful if their relationship had gone further physically – which was discouraged by the rules of the show.

Chloe is the best non-Irish contestant.

What really matters are 1. your own needs and expectations, and whether your patterns are helping you to fulfill them and 2. whether you’re communicating with others about their expectations and proceeding in good faith. Chloe described the show to the Sun as “sexual rehabilitation,” and there’s nothing wrong with trying something different to break out of a pattern. I think it’s food for thought in that respect, even if I completely reject the idea that jumping into bed with a person precludes a meaningful emotional connection. But you probably could have figured that out without watching a reality show.

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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