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Allen Adams

Allen Adams

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It sure does feel like the romantic comedy is back.

For a stretch, it seemed as though the rom-com was fading away. However, recent years have shown an upswing in these sorts of films, powered largely by the relentless content churn of Netflix. And in Hollywood, success begets success (or at least imitations of success). So we get more.

(Please note: this is NOT a complaint. I love romantic comedies and am thrilled that they seem to be bouncing back to an extent, though I highly doubt we’ll ever see a return to the glory days. Still, I’ll take what I can get, even if what I get isn’t always particularly original or exciting or … good.)

Next up in the parade of fun, forgettable, semi-disposable rom-coms is “Shotgun Wedding,” coming to us courtesy of Amazon Studios. The film – currently streaming on Amazon Prime – stars Jennifer Lopez and Josh Duhamel and is directed by Jason Moore. It’s a throwback of sorts, a goofy action-packed romp that makes a lot of noise even though the ultimate outcome is never in doubt. You’ve seen this movie before, to be sure, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have a nice enough time seeing it again.

A good comedy will make you laugh. A GREAT comedy will make you laugh and think. Unfortunately, too often, when a film aspires to the latter, they wind up not just failing in that regard, but whiffing on the former as well. Laughs have a tendency to evaporate when people try too hard.

And let me tell you – “You People” tries WAY too hard.

On paper, this Netflix movie should have been a slam dunk. The people involved have legitimate comedic bona fides, with Kenya Barris behind the camera directing from a script he co-wrote with Jonah Hill. Hill also stars, alongside some pretty heavy hitters – Julia Louis-Dreyfus, David Duchovny, Nia Long and Eddie F---ing Murphy, among others. Plus, you’re looking at a film intended to mine humor from the culture clashes and social dynamics of the current day. All in all, looking pretty good.

Right up until you, y’know, watch the thing.

“You People” is one of those movies that can’t get out of its own way, trying to be all things to all audiences and instead failing to please anyone. There are some cringe-y comic moments and some feints at social awareness, but the film never manages to find anything resembling balance. The wild variances in tone make it difficult to settle in and wind up undermining whatever moments of humor might be found. It seems like a good faith effort, but one sorely wanting in terms of execution.

Thursday, 29 December 2022 14:48

Kibbles and Picks 2022 - Week 17

Hubris (noun): Exaggerated pride or self-confidence

God damn it.

Obviously, I knew deep down that this was how it was going to play out. After a mediocre showing from me – 8-8 – and another killer week from Stella – 11-5 – I have relinquished my lead. The three-game swing has her back on top by a game, with just two weeks remaining. Yes, there is time for me to take it back. Will I?

We all know the answer to that.

It won’t keep me from trying, of course. Once again, we are at odds in seven of the week’s contests. That means plenty of room for me to take the power back, although considering last week’s debacle, it seems … let’s just say unlikely.

Thursday, 22 December 2022 15:08

Kibbles and Picks 2022 – Week 16

Holy s—t, you guys – I might actually have a shot at winning this thing.

Stella and I both had stellar weeks in Week 15, but mine was just a touch better – 11-5 to 10-6 – which means that my lead has doubled to a whopping two games. It’s not a huge margin, but we’ve only got three weeks left. I’m in a better position than I’ve been in in years.

Stella is, of course, utterly unconcerned. She fully anticipates a couple of big weeks in a row (starting with this one) where she leaves me in the dust. She may be right, but for now? I’M WINNING!

We’re at odds on seven of the week’s matchups, so there’s plenty of opportunity for the standings to shift. By how much remains to be seen, but I have no doubt that movement is coming.

It used to be that if a film was going to get a sequel, that sequel would happen soon after the original. No matter how successful the movie, if a follow-up hadn’t at least gone into production within a couple of years, it probably wasn’t going to happen.

Obviously, that is no longer the case. We’re seeing more and more of these legacy-quels, sequels landing a decade or more after the original. As the mainstream movie landscape shifted, the value of IP increased dramatically.

All that said, it’s tough to know exactly how to categorize “Avatar: The Way of Water,” the new film from director James Cameron. This new film comes out some 13 years after its predecessor (a film that, in case you’ve forgotten, remains the highest-grossing film of all time), but Cameron was TALKING about the sequel(s) even before the first film made well over $2 billion worldwide.

Still, “Avatar” was kind of old news, a movie that never really made a lasting pop cultural impact despite its massive commercial success, so it feels a little weird that we’re getting a sequel now, so long after the fact. Of course, this is James Cameron we’re talking about, who has demonstrated not just a mastery of blockbuster filmmaking, but of blockbuster sequel filmmaking – this is the dude who made “Aliens” and “Terminator 2,” after all. Bet against him at your peril.

And all things considered? “Avatar: The Way of Water” has the makings of yet another winning bet.

Saturday, 17 December 2022 09:43

Kibbles and Picks 2022 – Week 15

So you’re telling me there’s a chance …

After Stella and I put up identical 8-5 records in Week 14, I have maintained my slim one-game lead. And with just a few weeks left, I’m starting to have just the tiniest glimmer of hope that I might come out on top this season.

Foolishness and hubris, of course, but a man can dream, right?

For her part, Stella is unconcerned; traditionally, this is about the point in the season when she gets red-hot, so no lead is really safe, let alone one that is a scant single game.

There’s room to move this week, as we’re at odds in seven of the week’s full slate of 16 contests. In an odd confluence of circumstances, in six of those games, I have taken the visitors, while Stella has contented herself with some home cooking. Just one of those things, I suppose – we’ll see whether I’ve made a (or several) terrible mistake(s).

Thursday, 08 December 2022 16:18

Kibbles and Picks 2022 - Week 14

This one’s looking like it’s going to come down to the wire, isn’t it?

I was pretty pleased with my 10-4-1 record for Week 13, but Stella just had to go and one up me with a phenomenal 11-3-1 showing for the week. That means that we are once again separated by a single game as I cling desperately to what remains of my lead.

If I’m putting up 10-win weeks and losing ground, well … I’m in big trouble.

There’s a lot of action on the table in Week 14, however, thanks to Stella and I being at odds on six games. This despite a heavy bye week that means that there are just 13 contests overall. It’s going to be a tough one, I think. Put it this way – I’m not counting on another week of double-digit wins.

BANGOR – Who was the boy who never grew up before he never grew up?

That’s the question asked and answered by “Peter and the Starcatcher,” the latest production from Penobscot Theatre Company. The play – adapted by Rick Elice from the 2004 novel “Peter and the Starcatchers” by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson – serves as a prequel of sorts to the classic J.M. Barrie tales of the one, the only Peter Pan.

The Bangor Opera House springs to raucous, rowdy life with this piece. Directed by Matt Hawkins, it’s a chance for audiences to learn the origin of the original Lost Boy, as well as meet the girl who helped set him on the path he would eventually follow. Laughter and thrills abound as this rollicking adventure plays out on the high seas and beyond.

Packed with pirates and pratfalls and plenty of music – directed by Kevin O’Donnell – and magic, featuring some stellar performances and phenomenal production values, “Peter and the Starcatcher” promises loads of holiday fun for the whole family. The show runs through December 29.

Thursday, 01 December 2022 15:10

Kibbles and Picks 2022 – Week 13

Could it be? Do I actually have a shot at this?

Another strong showing from both of us, but my 11-5 week was one game better than Stella’s 10-6, which helps me to double the size of my lead for the season to a whopping two games. Sure, it doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you’ve spent a decade being dominated, any whiff of hope is welcome.

Of course, it could well be that Stella is simply toying with me before laying down the hammer in the season’s final month and once again wiping the floor with me. We’ll have to wait and see.

There’s a chance for some real movement this week, with the two of us at odds on almost half of the Week 13 slate – seven games out of 15. A big performance by either one of us could potentially lead to the season essentially being sewn up. Will one of us go 7-0 or 6-1 in these games? Probably not, but stranger things have happened.

Monday, 28 November 2022 15:33

Life on Mars – ‘Good Night Oppy’

We as humans have a tendency to project our own emotions and experiences onto those around us. And that’s not just our fellow people – we’ll anthropomorphize just about anything. Pets, wild animals, even inanimate objects; we have an inherent desire to create those connections.

And yet … sometimes, it’s the right thing to do.

“Good Night Oppy,” the new documentary from Amazon Studios, is a thoughtful exploration of that tendency by way of the Mars rover, of all things. This engaging and surprisingly heartfelt film from director Ryan White takes the viewer along as the rovers Spirit and Opportunity are conceived, constructed and catapulted into the cosmos.

Interviews with some of the major players in the rover program – the engineers who designed them, the scientists who directed them – are interspersed with archival footage from varying points along the two-decade timeline and some recreations intended to give more of a first-person understanding of the rovers’ experience.

It’s the sort of story that would have been compelling enough had the rovers simply fulfilled their three-month mission. Instead, these robots would spend the next decade-plus moving across the surface of the red planet, going above and beyond their original mission again and again. And as the years passed and the rovers kept going, the scientists and engineers on the ground began to view them as not just tools or equipment or machinery.

They were family.

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