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One of the tricky aspects of being a movie critic is finding the balance between one’s personal (and idiosyncratic) tastes and a broader sensibility. You have to find that sweet spot where you’re addressing the work through your own personal lens while also acknowledging that lens’s subjectivity. You must recognize your own positive and negative biases as you judge the film on its merits.

This is all a long-winded way of saying that I’m not entirely sure how to review the new Netflix animated film “America: The Motion Picture.”

The film – directed by Matt Thompson, written by Dave Callaham and produced by, among others, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller – is a reimagining of the American revolution by way of wave after wave of anachronisms and alternate history, all steeped in adult-oriented juvenile humor. It’s an effort to parody and mock a certain kind of jingoistic action fare even as it follows much the same blueprint.

Not a successful effort, mind you. But an effort.

This is a ridiculous movie, one that readily crosses the line into abject stupidity throughout. It’s the kind of film that wears its idiocy as a badge of honor, proudly pandering to the lowest common denominator with gross-out gags, sexual innuendo and dopey one-liners. Whatever relatively high-minded ideas the filmmakers may have had are quickly buried in a seemingly unending avalanche of curse word-laden scatological juvenilia.

Here’s the thing, though: I enjoyed it. I don’t feel great about the fact that I enjoyed it. And my enjoyment is separate from the relative quality of the film, which again, has a lot of problems and will likely prove off-putting to many.

Published in Movies

It’s rare for a movie to present an idea with such complete success as to essentially take ownership of said concept, to come up with a hook that becomes the model upon which future movies are based.

“Groundhog Day” is one of those rarities. How many times have you heard a film referred to as “‘Groundhog Day’ but X”? It has become an easy shorthand for the sort of recursive time loop story that has proven to work across all genres. Comedy, yes, but also horror, thriller, sci-fi … we’ve seen examples that run the gamut.

The newest entry into the time loop oeuvre is “Palm Springs,” currently streaming on Hulu. The Andy Samberg-starring comedy was a big hit at Sundance, with Hulu buying the film for a tidy $17.5 million (and 69 cents, which … nice). Directed by Max Barbakow from a screenplay by Andy Siara (and produced in part by Samberg and his Lonely Island cohorts Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer), the quick pitch is “‘Groundhog Day,’ but at a wedding” – and it is excellent.

It’s an engaging take on the trope, one that pushes the logistics of the premise to absurd extremes while also finding ways to explore the inevitable emotional ramifications of an eternity of repetition. It asks questions about love and the human condition, yes, but it also features great jokes and slapstick moments. All of it structured around genuine insight regarding life and its meaning.

Published in Movies

It’s seems as though there’s something for everyone these days.

Gone is the era when consumers of popular culture were forced to fit their own tastes into the broader boxes presented by limited options, where people watched what they watched not because they had sought it out, but because it was what was available to them.

Now, with the advent of streaming services and the like, a person can carefully curate their content consumption to a staggering extent of specificity. And so too can creators curate their creations to aim at those same granular niches.

This is all a long-winded way of saying that I watched The Lonely Island’s “The Unauthorized Bash Brothers Experience” on Netflix and I feel seen.

Published in Sports
Friday, 23 September 2016 14:06

Special delivery - 'Storks'

Animated film offers laughs for the whole family

One of the best aspects of 21st century Hollywood's affinity for animated films is that you not only get a wide variety of films, but a wide variety of talented filmmakers filmmakers who might not have otherwise involved themselves with animation coming on board to make movies.

Published in Movies

Lonely Island-helmed mockumentary mines the music world for comedy gold

Few stylistic conventions provide more fertile ground for comedy than the mockumentary. It has proven a delightful playground for folks like Christopher Guest and his merry band of weirdos for many years.

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 20 June 2012 16:09

Father knows worst That's My Boy'

Sandler's first foray into R-rated comedy falls flat

It has become common in critical circles to look down on the works of Adam Sandler. Sandler's man-child antics have lost their luster for film critics around the world; those who watch movies for a living have grown tired of Sandler's never-changing shtick. And with good reason with very rare exception, the films that Sandler and his Happy Madison production company have produced have been getting steadily worse over the past decade-plus.

But hey millions of people go out and shell out their hard-earned dollars to see this junk, so what do the critics know?

Sandler's latest offering is 'That's My Boy,' yet another example of Sandler taking a promising comedic concept and hammering into the ground under wave after wave of repetitive idiocy and poorly-acted cameos from Sandler's buddies.

Published in Movies

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