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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
Because they are strong as hell, Jen and Nick talk about the recent season of the Netflix hit, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt! What do they have to say about Kimmy’s latest adventures? Check out this episode to find out!
To listen to the episode, click here or on the image below.
The summer movie season is behind us. Is it me, or has this been a very forgettable and disappointing summer? Don’t get me wrong, Hollywood is probably very happy with their box office receipts with 2015 being one of the most profitable summers they have had (4 films passed the billion dollar mark). But I just feel that none of the movies had any lasting power nor any major effect on pop-culture.
Remember when Vin Diesel said Furious 7 (which I found to be incredibly disappointing by the way) was going to win Best Picture? Or how insufferable online personalities where when Mad Max: Fury Road came out? Now, nobody cares and those films are largely forgotten.
Maybe I’m growing out of these big-budget summer films. Oddly, I prefer the winter season more and more each year. I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s the weather that make the films seem like they are at a higher standard? I don’t know. Can’t explain it.
But, enough of that. Let’s look ahead. The winter season is almost upon us, and we have a couple of interesting flicks coming out.
November kicks off with the one-two punch of The Peanuts Movie and Spectre on November 6th. Everything about Peanuts looks great so far, and I am confident that the property won’t be disrespected with this newest incarnation. I’m also a big Peanuts fan (and, who isn’t – except people with no souls), so I’m going to be there!
Spectre, of course, is the newest James Bond movie. I am intrigued by this. From the look of the trailer, it appears to be tying in all of the Craig-era films together for an over-arching story. If this is the case, I hope they pull it off. Something like that hasn’t been done since the Sean Connery days (and even then, those films were pretty independent from one another). I do worry that it might get a bit convoluted given some of the reported production issues facing the film. But with Sam Mendes and his Skyfall team, I have faith that will be, at least, an entertaining film.
Since both these movies come out on the same day, I might have to go in for a double-bill that weekend.
Later on In November, we have the final entry in the Hunger Games series. Does anybody care for these movies anymore? I know they make buckets of money, but I feel that nobody talks about them. I have no intention on seeing the film as I haven’t seen past the first one and I have little interest in catching up.
But then, a week later, we get Creed, the Rocky sequel/spin-off. When I first heard of it, I was extremely skeptical about it. Why do a spin-off of Rocky. Just seemed like a bad idea. Then I saw the trailer, and I took back my comments. I was impressed. It is obviously following the Rocky formula, but will do its own thing too. I’m there.
Also coming out October 25th is Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur, which I know nothing about, and Victor Frankenstein. Is the latter a dark comedy or a straight-up horror flick? The movie has conflicting trailers for me to get a read on. More perplexingly, why isn’t this being released in October? Another example of Hollywood afraid of putting out horror films during Halloween.
Then there is December. Nothing of consequence is coming out in December.
Oh, I’m just joking! We have the highly anticipated release of
Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip! Audiences have been waiting years for the fourth installment of this beloved series!
Okay, fine. Star Wars: The Force Awakens comes out on December 18. Let’s face it, it will probably be the biggest movie of the year. Though I wasn’t impressed with the first teaser trailer, I have since become more and more interested in the project. From what little I have seen and read, I get that 1980s fantasy movie feeling about this. Color me excited.
Though, I am sure that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are not nearly as excited about it as their film, Sisters (surprisingly, their first film together since 2008’s Baby Mama), opens the same weekend as Star Wars. Why did Universal position this movie against Star Wars? There is no way it will be successful. I can’t help but feel that the movie would have a better shot if released during the March-April period. But, who knows? Maybe it’ll be competitive counter-programing.
That’s my look ahead. What are you interested in this winter?
Last weekend, I checked out the latest Muppets movie, Muppets Most Wanted. I really loved 2011’s The Muppets which rejuvenated the franchise, so I was looking forward to the follow-up. I’ll admit, though, that I had some trepidation about it. As I’ve discussed previously, the marketing was very subpar for the film, and it didn’t really get me excited for the movie. But then, marketing can be terrible. I was still determined to check it out.
After seeing it, however, I was a bit disappointed. Muppets Most Wanted isn’t a bad movie by any means. I’d argue it is on the stronger end of family movies out there currently. But it just left me a bit cold. When I left the theater, I couldn’t help, but ask myself “that’s it?” I guess the movie warned me since a line towards the beginning says that sequels are never as good as the original. The strange thing is that I cannot really pinpoint what didn’t quite work for me. Was my expectation up a bit too much based on my enjoyment of the previous film? I guess that is a possibility, but surely it is more than that.
I suppose what hurt the film for me was the story. In it, Kermit is kidnapped and replaced by a criminal doppelganger, Constantine. The evil frog’s goal is to use the Muppets to travel Europe in order to pull off various heists with his partner played by Ricky Gervais. While there is nothing wrong with the tale, and I did enjoy seeing Constantine trying to pull off Kermit (him constantly calling Miss Piggy “Pig” is just hilarious to me), it just seems so pedestrian. That was the best they could come up with? The scope felt more television-movie than a theatrically released film.
But while a story premise is one thing, the execution of it is somewhat poor as well. I feel this mostly because none of the supporting cast (Fozzie, Walter, Miss Piggy, etc) are utilized very well. Most disappear for a long while and only come up when the story demands them to. I don’t mean for a gag or something like that – more for “oh, we need the story to go in this direction now”. It is a bit sloppy.
The songs are not very memorable as well. The only arguable exception is “Together Again” and that is only memorable due to it being an already established Muppet song. There was a hilarious 80s-styled romance song, but I remember that from the visuals – Lord knows I don’t remember any of the lyrics or the beat.
Muppets Most Wanted is such a mixed bag. There were lots of good such as Tina Fey, Ty Burrell (doing a wonderful farce of a French policeman), and the host of cameos. But the film was an overall disappointment. I was left wanting. And I was disappointed that I was left wanting. That’s two disappointments. It is the Muppets. They shouldn’t deliver a middling film. They deserve better than that. Hopefully, if another film is made, Disney can learn from the creative missteps and make something great.
For this week’s installment of our regular feature What Went Wrong?, I will take a look at the recently released Tina Fey/Paul Rudd collaboration Admission, which has set a low point in Fey’s film career (she had never headlined a box office disappointment up until this point) and stands as the latest in a fairly decent-sized string of flops for Rudd (which have also included recent disappointments Wanderlust and This is 40).
Tina Fey has built a large fanbase over the better part of the past decade through hard work, superlative comedic writing, and some pretty darn good television, book, and movie projects (30 Rock, Bossy Pants, Mean Girls, Date Night). Fey’s work is, generally speaking, of the highest critical acclaim, and I consider her one of the best comic talents currently working in America. Paul Rudd is also a highly critically acclaimed actor, having appeared in movies for over two decades. Rudd gets continual exposure in some big comedy hits, including Clueless, The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Role Models, and I Love You, Man. Rudd is a charming, affable, highly charismatic comedy actor. Placed together, Fey and Rudd should have been able to light up the screen in perhaps the best comedic romantic pairing in years. When it was released into theaters over the past weekend however, their film Admission flopped, grossing just over six million dollars in domestic receipts. So, what exactly went wrong?
Admission seemed almost doomed from the start. Despite the likable, strong leads, the film’s initial trailer wasn’t very funny, highlighting many various quick sight-gags and non-sequiturs (such as Lily Tomlin with a shotgun or Fey and Rudd in a barn shower of some type). The film seemed to generate almost zero buzz in the weeks leading up to its opening release despite it being the first project for Fey since the high profile series finale of her beloved sitcom 30 Rock (which ended on a high note). Fey’s audiences probably pay attention to critical acclaim as well, and Admission received decidedly mixed reviews from critics (the film stands at 46% on aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes). Director Paul Weitz and screenwriter Karen Croner received negative critical marks for their work on the film as well.
Admission certainly wasn’t done any favors opening up against The Croods, Olympus Has Fallen, and only a few weeks after Oz: The Great and Powerful either. Each of these films had a better marketing effort and more buzz leading into their opening weekends. Admission is certainly helped in one way: its budget was only 13 million dollars, meaning it may be able to eventually break even or post a tiny profit after DVD sales and rentals figure in. The month of March is now considered a good time to open a high profile, big budget feature, and each of the previously mentioned films had a lot more at stake and more reason to succeed at the box office than Admission. Focus, the studio behind the film, just seemed content to let their little film not do so well in theaters and maybe hope for the best in ancillary markets. Fey and Rudd probably deserved better all around.