Zach Zany Movie Reviews: DUMBO (2019) (A Hate Rap Poem)

This one is dedicated to Dustin Bade:

DUMBO 2019 (A HATE RAP POEM) By Zach Alexander

Who the fuck was this movie made for?

It can’t be for older people, who will instantly snore,

Not for younglings, scared back behind a door,

For tweens, they’ll think it’s a chore,

Yet it’s another loser for Tim Burton,

Hopin’ to raise the curtain, for certain,

His career, since Returns it’s been a hurtin’

An awful green screen CGI crap fest,

Live action stress test, ends up being a pest,

Hurts our childhood hearts, makes a mess of our chest

The acting, all distracting, spewing lines instead of reacting,

Detracting from a story that’s too abstracting, compacting

Cliched and no emotions impacting, redacting

From the heart of the story, a small elephant

Ehren Kruger’s script quite arrogant,

Danny DeVito borrowed from It’s Always Sunny set,

As Mac’s mom is there too as an asset, blasted,

Colin Farrell looks like he wants to kill himself,

His career on a dusty shelf, Eva Green, herself

Burton’s muse, adds nothing, it’s crushing

Michael Keaton rushing and busting,

His performance, more a gay Batman

Than a thespian with a plan, all panned,

Tried to make the movie too grand,

Instead it gives a backhand, to the Disney brand,

Finding single parent angle too bland,

Darker themes children won’t understand,

Made for no one, no fun hun,

Not surprised it didn’t gross a ton,

Remakes now shunned, wish they were undone,

Taken out to pasture with a shotgun, anyone?

Someone please slap me with some hard leather,

Or tether me to a tree, hang together, with shitty weather,

I wondered whether,

An elephant could be better,

Than new Aladdin or Lion King, be on top to blether

But Dumbo just asked them to hold his feather.

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Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: UNDER THE SILVER LAKE (no spoilers)

WARNING: If you are a casual film goer, you are going to hate this movie. But if you look at the deeper meaning of things, and you love artistic movies that aren’t trying to be artsy fartsy for artsy fartsy sake, you might actually love it. If you are a constant reader of my blog or other opinions, you already know what side I am on. UNDER THE SILVER LAKE is an A24 property that, when it got mixed and polarizing reviews at a festival back in early 2018, kept getting delayed and delayed until it was finally quietly dumped on VOD back in April of this year. I hadn’t heard much about this movie beforehand, let alone had watched a trailer, all I knew was that it starred Andrew Garfield and was from writer/director David Robert Mitchell, whose first film back from 2014 I absolutely loved, It Follows. While that movie had a clear cut narrative, this 2 hr and 20 minute weird Hollywood epic has multiple plot threads (some that go places, some that don’t…or do they?) all with the same underlying message. It’s a very unique piece of work.

But whether you think that unique piece of work is brilliant or shitty is completely up to you. I’m not trying to tell you how to feel about this movie. If you watch this and don’t understand what the fuck I was talking about and thought it was boring and pointless, that’s fine, but you better be able to back it up on a film scholar level with me. This movie will require several viewings for some to fully understand it. I got it on the first try, but you know me. This film was a $3 blind buy for me on VUDU (having $3 credit on there made it basically free) and I was told to give it a chance by my favorite film reviewers Mike & Jay on http://www.redlettermedia.com. I watched the first part of their review before they got into spoilers (I recently watched the rest of it and they saw the film the same as I did). Boy, was that the best $3 credit purchase ever, because I kind of love this film. The best things about it is the underlying messages and theme of the movie, the AMAZING cinematography and the AMAZING score by Disasterpiece (who also had an amazing score with It Follows). Oh and uh, I don’t know what attracted Andrew Garfield to this project, but the dude gives it is all in his best performance since Hacksaw Ridge and The Social Network.

It’s going to be really hard to describe this film to you without giving any spoilers, but I’m going to do my best. Andrew Garfield is literally in almost every scene as a young man named Sam who, after a brief yet impactful encounter one night with a new neighbor, Sarah (Riley Keough), goes out and investigates her sudden disappearance, only to stumble upon hidden messages that may or may not lead him to an elusive and dangerous giant Hollywood conspiracy. And there happens to be a dog killer lurking about. Whew, I think I got the gist of it. Obviously there is so much more to what is going on that my statement pertaining to watching it multiple times to actually get it might come true to you. It is a very maze-like wicked tangled web of a film. So much subtext, so much allegory, so many layers. But that’s what I love about the film. It makes you think, where as 90% of the films that come out nowadays are just spoon feeding everything to you, where you can just sit there like a zombie and literally do nothing and these studios and filmmakers expect you to just get a kick out of it…

I think the reason why I probably like this film so much as well is that it comes off the heels of just seeing Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. I don’t know if Mr. Tarantino has seen Under The Silver Lake yet, but if he ever does, I wonder if he thinks both of these movies would go nicely in a whole afternoon long double feature. I sure did. Where as Mr. Tarantino’s film describes the last days of an old, innocent Hollywood system, Under The Silver Lake is inspired by the dirty, gross, seedy underbelly of the New Hollywood system, clearly coming more into light recently because of the #MeToo Movement. This film is more of a transition from old Hollywood to New Hollywood and I expect that there maybe somewhere down the line will be a third film only focused on New Hollywood that combined with these two will make some kind of unofficial trilogy. While representing more New Hollywood, this film shows the transition pretty well with a great musical score by Disasterpiece that is inspired by classic mystery/thriller films. Hitchcockian, if you will. While being set in the present day that old school essence is still there, with a lot of imagery and homages to classic movie industry actors and actresses. Hell, there are even nods to classic philosophers and astronomers in this film to tie everything together!

Some might leave this film wondering if it was sexist or misogynist, clearly missing the point of the entire message, and I feel bad for those that do so. It isn’t weird and elaborate just for the sake of being weird and elaborate. None of this film is just surface level shit and if you don’t want to use your brain to figure out different symbols, messages, and meanings in this, don’t bother ever trying to seek this out, because this film is clearly not for you. If 20 minutes you think the film is too slow, turn it off because you aren’t going to enjoy the rest of it. But if you want your cinematic experience to take you on a WTF journey of long and epic proportions, then I can’t recommend this enough. I have a feeling that in the future this film is going to be studied by film students, especially avante garde and/or expressionistic and experimental ones. Just like Midsommar, I can’t clearly see that and this as masterpieces yet, but I have I feeling on repeat viewings that it might take me in that direction. If you have the bravery to form your own opinion and actually pay attention when watching Under The Silver Lake, I really do hope you enjoy it.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE FAREWELL (no spoilers)

If there is one thing to truly remember about this movie if it ever comes across the topic of conversation…well, two things, is that Awkwafina can truly act and isn’t just a one trick comedy pony, and the ending. If you don’t want the ending of THE FAREWELL spoiled for you, DO NOT go into the trivia section of IMDB or look this up on Wikipedia. The ending brings a whole new light to the entire story and makes you think about deeper meanings and messages of what it means to lie and keep something hidden from someone. It’s a pretty good little film, a dramedy that manages to avoid all the pit falls and cliches of other situational dramedies/comedies that HAVE to have those typical confrontational scenes at the end. But other than Awkwafina and the ending, I do feel that the movie ultimately is going to be pretty forgettable down the line.

The set up is simple, it’s based on an actual lie/actual true story and follows a Chinese family, who find out that their grandmother has only a short while left to live and decide not to tell her and instead use a cousin’s upcoming wedding as a front for a family gathering, so that everyone is together one last time before she dies. Awkwafina is front and center, playing the granddaughter Billie. At first the family doesn’t want her to go to the gathering as they think her emotions give her away, but Billie goes anyway and manages to keep the secret to herself. From then on, we get countless scenes before and during the wedding with Billie spending time with her grandmother and the entire family together, and then scenes without the grandmother where Billie is still debating whether they should really tell her or not. Even though the scenes discussing whether the lie is good for everyone or not get quite repetitive, the scenes adds natural and laugh out loud moment to balance the tide. Word of warning, while this is an American film, all the dialogue is really a 70-30 percent ratio of Chinese subtitles and actually spoken American dialogue, which doesn’t bother me at all, just warning you that you might be doing more reading throughout this film than what the trailer online makes you believe.

Like I said above, if there is any reason to watch the film, it’s Awkwafina’s performance, which I think could garner her a well deserved Oscar nomination come awards season (her real name is Nora Lum, which I actually really like and hope that eventually down the road she does a changing back of her name a la The Rock/Dwayne Johnson). Her performance is unlike anything you have ever seen her do before, playing an actual layered mutli-dimensional character, stripped away of all her over-the-top zanyiness you’ve come to recognize her from crazy roles in Ocean’s Eight and Crazy Rich Asians. She is really spectacular. In the acting department, every one does a good job, from all of the unknowns to Tzi Ma, who plays Billie’s father. The director, Lulu Wang, who mostly directs shorts and music videos, and has only done one other feature, is clearly an actor’s director, getting natural and realistic emotions from everyone involved. Stylistically though, it feels as though she watched one too many episodes of Mr. Robot, as all the shots have characters all to one side of the frame where there is too much space for blank walls and static boring backgrounds. The scenes between Billie and her grandmother are the best, giving the best emotional weight to the narrative.

However, there is one perfect scene in the film, no wasted space or filler, that I’d like to mention. When the cousin groom & his bride are getting pre-wedding pictures taken, Awkwafina and I believe her mother and/or aunt are having a meaningful conversation about “the lie” and the bride & groom taking weird pictures in the background that manages to elicit laughs from the audience but also just enough to not distract from the dialogue taking place. Very well done scene, and I wish there were more than that in there, as all the Mr. Robot cinematography felt kind of bland. I know you are looking for me to talk more about the ending, but since I said no spoilers in the title, all I will say is the ending makes you think even after you are on your way home and you’ll want to do some research on the film once you’ve gotten there. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good film, I just think down the line it will ultimately be pretty forgettable. If it gets Oscar nominations, I’d be fine with it as long as Awkwafina was included in the mix. This is the film that is going to make me take her seriously as an actress from now on (as you can tell, I know nothing about her rap career).

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: HOBBS & SHAW (no spoilers, and no, I’m not putting Fast & Furious Presents before the real title)

Remember when this series started out by dude bros just stealing VCRs? Then by installment 5 we got a giant bank safe being pulled by cars down a highway, installment 6 we got Vin Diesel being tossed out over a highway during a military tank sequence then catching Michelle Rodriguez in midair and landing safely, then in the 7th installment you have cars going out of airplanes in parachutes and then later having a car jumping from skyscraper to skyscraper, and then in the last one you have Dwayne Johnson being able to steer submarine missiles mid trajectory in the ocean using just his foot. Needless to say, if the franchise ever lost you at one point, you’d have plenty of pretty damn good excuses as to the reasons why. It hasn’t lost me…but with Fate of The Furious and now HOBBS & SHAW, I feel like the franchises good ole’ days are officially behind them, and that it may be finally time to wrap everything up.

That’s not to say Hobbs & Shaw isn’t a half way decent installment in the franchise, it just isn’t a very good one, and doesn’t get anywhere in the ballpark of greatness. But at least it was better than The Fate of The Furious (I’ve only seen it twice, and can’t remember much of what happens in it other than Charlize Theron is the bad guy, that submarine sequence, and Vin Diesel’s baby and other small snippets). The real big problem with Hobbs & Shaw is very apparent, even before you buy your ticket to see it: you’ve already seen the movie. The marketing for this film, ever since the Super Bowl, has been fucking insane, with long ass trailers revealing EVERYTHING in the film, save for two surprise cameos and a bunch of mid and end credit sequences (stay thru ALL of the credits, even when it seems like the mid credits thing is it). There are literally no other surprises in the movie, which kind of bummed me out, as I very quickly pieced together what was going to happen with what sequences I had already seen in trailers and TV spots as the story went along.

It also doesn’t help that the plot elements are ripped straight out of Mission: Impossible 2, and in some ways it is basically the same exact film, albeit with a lot more insane vehicle action sequences, but without people pulling off masks to reveal themselves as different people. The real story? Not much of one, just know that it deals with a virus that Jason Statham character’s sister has, and that he and Dwayne Johnson must go after it before Idris Elba’s villain and whoever he is working for steals it and use it to “cleanse” the Earth (**yawn** sound familiar). As you know from the previous films, Johnson and Statham’s character still hate each other even though they have fantastic chemistry; that chemistry still there and strong being one of the only things that make this a decent one time watch. However, they don’t really have much character development, the only bit of it is that they predictably realize that even though they hate each other they at one point MUST work together in order to seize the day.

Yes, their banter is great and funny and all, and Statham and Johnson know how to act and be a great physical presences in action sequences, but unless you have story/plot arcs to fully back them up, it’s all just hollow shells. And nobody else has character development either, which is another big problem. Vanessa Kirby, who does a great job with physical demands for the role and her acting ability is a little above average, doesn’t do much arc wise but make faces as Statham and Johnson when they are bitching at each other. Idris Elba is one of the most yawn worthy villains in the franchise, and seems to be phoning it in, especially in the part of the film when he is touting himself as a “black superman.” He looks like he is just going through the motions to get this movie done and then go onto the next one. You’ve probably seen what was so effortlessly given away in the trailers that Dwayne Johnson goes to visit his Samoan “family” at one point (none of this should’ve been shown in marketing as it would’ve been a nice surprise). But any kind of character development and intrigue is thrown out the window with a couple of sentences of cliched “I’m sorry” dialogue.

Let me touch on Elba’s villain sci-fi element that has become so controversial to Fast & Furious fans because they want the films to stay a bit grounded. GROUNDED?! Are you fucking kidding me? The series waved bye bye to grounded with 2 Fast 2 Furious. So if you are mad that a new character got some kind of spinal surgery upgrade where he can see combat statistics in his eyeballs and be a helluva lot stronger physically, you can literally blame yourself. How did you not see it coming? If each installment needs to be more insane than the last, and you’ve already done what you could do bat shit crazy wise with vehicles, at some point, they are going to introduce sci-fi, and you just have to accept it. I have. I love the lunacy of it all. It is actually trying to do some shit different than just be the same film over and over and over again. Granted everything else about the film (like dialogue and story) is tired and true but at least none of these films have been a soft reboot of the first film or any of the previous installments. And if you think any of the previous installments action scenes are ridiculous, every single scene in this tells the previous films to hold their beer.

Before I end my review, let me give you some more positives (other than just the banter and chemistry of Statham and Johnson) to prove that I really do think this film is decently an okay one or two time watch. The action (there is a tone of it, almost every 5 minutes for a 2 hour and 10 minute run time) is crisp and clear, no shaky cam, you see every punch, kick, shot, and crash. You have to appreciate films and directors like that. They aren’t hacks that fix boring, slow shots and shoddy camera work by filming it all shaky cam and then editing the shit out of it in post production to try make you think what you are seeing is cool. WE KNOW BETTER. But a steady cam on Statham, seeing all the choreography up close, personal, and flawless? I loved that here. The director is David Leitch, who did Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2, and was an uncredited co-director on the first John Wick. Solo wise, Deadpool 2 is still his best film, and at least Hobbs & Shaw is a helluva lot better and more fun than Atomic Blonde. Also, the two cameos in the films were a nice surprise, and one of the extended ones was really really funny (even though it ruins the ending of Game of Thrones) and I hope that he continues to pop up in the franchise moving forward.

And while the last vehicle sequence was fucking unbelievably ridiculous but fun and while the other action scenes throughout the movie were very elaborate, ridiculous, and entertaining, the problem boils down to that the marketing ruined this movie. All of the action scenes in this are shown in all the previews, LITERALLY ALL OF THEM. There are no surprises other than the two cameos; you are basically paying a theater $9 to $15 dollars to watch a film where someone just edited all the marketing footage together. Did the studio not have any confidence that the film could survive on its own? They already ruined the title by putting Fast & Furious presents before it, but did they literally have to spoil every fucking action sequence just to get people’s butts in seats? You already had my butt with Statham and Johnson in a movie together. I love those guys and you should have put a little more faith into what you had. It could’ve been one of the top movies, instead, it’s just going to fade into the middle (quite literally, see below).

Rank of the Fast & Furious Films:

  1. Fast 5
  2. Fast & Furious 6
  3. Furious 7
  4. The Fast & The Furious
  5. Hobbs & Shaw
  6. The Fate Of The Furious
  7. Tokyo Drift
  8. Fast & Furious
  9. 2 Fast 2 Furious

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: ANNA (no spoilers)

So ANNA came out in June and I skipped it because the Rotten Tomatoes reviews were bad and basically cut off any waning interest I had in seeing it. The trailer looked to me like Luc Besson just trying to copy elements of Atomic Blonde and John Wick and while I thought it would maybe have a couple of exciting action sequences it would ultimately just be a shrug and a mind wipe away from obscurity. I’m writing this review knowing that you probably can’t see this in theaters right now, and is probably still a month away from being released digitally/Blu-ray, but I got the chance to see it the other day, and thought I’d put in my two cents because it is actually a decently solid flick, albeit a couple of distracting flaws.

I took off this past Friday because I was just really needed a day off work and wanted to just have a relaxing day before I saw Once Upon A Time In Hollywood that night. I had a friend staying over for a couple of days (she just came down to see Leo’s new movie because she’s obsessed with his Dic…Caprio)  and was trying to find us stuff to do while we waited for the new Tarantino movie, and since I’m a very closed minded individual and think the only two things to do in Texas is shop and see movies, I chose the latter. Since I have either seen everything already in first run theaters or had 0% interest in everything else there, I looked up the only $1 second run theater we have in any sort of close proximity to us, and saw that Anna had only one showtime left playing it, and it was at the perfect time to waste some time. (Fun fact: I didn’t realize until yesterday but the day that we saw Anna was actually the last day that dollar theater in Plano was going to be open for awhile, it’s been closed and remodeled to turn itself into a first run theater since the idea of a dollar theater is essentially dead because media comes out digitally less than 3 months later after initial release nowadays). So I paid a measly three bucks for us both to see it, and came out expectantly surprised.

From director Luc Besson, who has done some classic films such as The Fifth Element or Leon The Professional, and some not so classic films like Lucy and Valerian, comes well, another actioner that is maybe somewhere in the middle between all those past projects of his. Again, if I talk too much about the plot, it will lose some of the edge it has on you if it sounds interesting and you eventually rent or buy or illegal download it sometime in the future. All I will say is that it stars a real-life model named Sasha Luss as a girl named Anna, and she’s strong, badass, and works for the KGB while moonlighting as a well…model, during the day. The whole movie she keeps on telling other characters and the audience countless times that she wants out of the life and just wants to rest and be left alone, so we know what the end goal is. Whether Anna reaches that goal and how is the whole basis of the story. The movie also co-stars Luke Evans, Cillian Murphy, and the great Hellen Mirren, as Besson and the studio knew well that the movie couldn’t garner interest for Luss alone as she is a no name for right now.

Acting wise the movie is very solid. Sasha Luss, even though she is a real-life model, is actually pretty great as Anna. She displays all the ranges of emotions asked from her and didn’t think she was over acting one second of the film. The only problem is that her character is sort of one note, as she’s just complaining about wanting her own life the whole film but the screenplay doesn’t really give her much of an arc to actually earn that sympathy from the audience. Luke Evans is convincing as a KGB agent that recruits her, Hellen Mirren is great as both of their bosses, and Cillian Murphy is effective as a CIA agent trying to go through the motions trying to find out what the Russians are up to. Oh, did I mention this takes place in the late 80’s, early 90s with Russia and the U.S. still kind of trying to figure shit out after the Cold War? Probably should’ve started with that so it didn’t sound like a futuristic movie where we are against the Russians (maybe that wouldn’t been cool though?).

Where the movie kind of stumbles is that it tries to pull the wool over the audiences eyes one too many times and the constant switch of the passage of time. At the beginning of the film it felt like every few minutes we were getting a new title card that says, “Five years earlier,” “3 days later,” “4 hours earlier,” “Three Months Later,” so on and so forth. It wasn’t hard to keep up with per say, it was just kind of annoying. Also constantly throughout the movie and more so near the end, the movie double backs on itself and reveals to the audience certain events that “happened to be left out” of scenes that we saw previously. So when anything bad happened to Anna or any other good character, at one point I sort of stopped caring/believing, knowing that the film would just double back on itself and reveal a happier point of view. The movie is the literal definition of the phrase, “Fool me once, shame on you…”

Also, the beginning of the movie is kind of slow, but I appreciated that it kept my interest more and more the further it went out, most movies are usually the opposite of that. There were a couple of things to even out the beginnings pacing and the time passage annoyances, such as the action wasn’t over done and when it was happening on screen it was well shot and effective. Luc Besson knows how to direct movies for sure, the problem is his stories. He’s got good ideas, it is just the executions are a bit off. This includes his writing only credits such as the Transporter series and the Taken series. Valerian and the City of A Thousand planets is almost the exact same thing, except that movie isn’t that great because of the acting of the two leads. But Anna is a pretty solid movie, much better than I was originally giving it credit for. It is the definition of a perfect rental, perfect streaming film, and a perfect lazy afternoon at the movies. Just shut your brain off before you start viewing.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: GOOD BOYS (no spoilers, comes out Aug. 16th)

Time to ask the age old question: Is elementary school aged kids repeatedly saying fuck and other curse words while telling endless dick and fart jokes still funny? Why yes, yes it is. What if that is the film’s entire 89 minute run time combined with being an almost exact remake of Superbad, does it still work? Yes, why yes it still does somehow. That’s what the new movie GOOD BOYS is, just pure, stupid, dumb, crude, crass, hilarious escapism, turn off your brain fun. It’s short, sweet, and doesn’t overstay its welcome. Is it the greatest movie in the world if picked apart scene by scene? Of course not. Probably won’t even be on my twenty top films of the year list. But will it somehow be a film that I just put on one boring afternoon with nothing else to do? Multiple, multiple times yes. There haven’t been a lot of comedies this summer, unless you count the great Long Shot that literally almost no one saw, so if there is a funny bone you are needing to pick soon, and are still trying to recover from the vast Once Upon A Time In Hollywood or a binge-able weekend of Amazon Prime’s The Boys, Good Boys fits that bill.

The plot? Three elementary boys that are close friends, who are just a couple of weeks into the sixth grade, must get ready to go to a party that one of the popular kids invited them to, and it happens to be a kissing party, and none of them have kissed a girl before. Sound familiar? Replace high schoolers with elementary school kids, replace a drinking party with a kissing one, keep 1/4 of the booze, keep the friendly camaraderie and chemistry between the male leads, keep the road trip like adventures but replace the other 3/4 of the booze trying to replace one of their Dad’s expensive drones, and you’ve successfully turned Superbad into Good Boys. But it still works, because all the road trip adventures are quite different, it has a really smart and really funny ending/third act, and I literally laughed almost every ten seconds from beginning to end. If a comedic film makes you laugh a shit ton of times, it has done its job, no matter the context (well…there are exceptions).

Kid actor Jacob Trembelay, who has had a hell of a career after starring in Room with Brie Larson, is the main character named Max, and although he said I think one F word in the recent Predator movie, to hear a bunch of curse words and dick and fart jokes constantly was quite jarring, but also quite hilarious. And I can see how he is getting a lot of work, he stretches his talent considerably here, seeing he has already been in a depressing drama, a dramady, and an action film, and now with this, a straight comedy, kid can literally do anything. It helps that his chemistry with the other two boys, Keith L. Williams and Brady Noon, is so good that you believe that they have been friends for years. They are the stars of the show, but the supporting characters that surround them, like two teenage girls trying to get their drugs back from them, Will Forte as Max’s father, or even Stephen Merchant playing a weird sex doll crazed nerd do their small parts well to bring even more laughs to the party.

There are a couple of scenes that don’t work, and you may have seen this in the trailer, but where they are crossing a highway to get to a mall has been done so many countless times where that’s the only part that put a halt in my laughter a little bit. Otherwise, anything with the drone, a sex doll, the drug Molly, the two teenage girls, the cop that just wants his shift to end, the actual party, beer sip records, etc, etc, etc are hilarious and almost had my belly hurting laughing so hard. And I mentioned it earlier, but I thought the 3rd act/ending of the film was really, really, really smart and inventive and kind of made the film go from just a dumb young kid crude cursing movie into a pretty good dumb young kid crude cursing movie. I won’t spoil any of it, but it has to deal with the passage of time and how it relates to younger kids. You’ll see, it’s brilliant.

What really surprised me was that it was written and directed by two guys that haven’t really done all that much and what they have done is kind of meh. Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg wrote Bad Teacher, which was meh, they wrote a couple of decent episodes of The Office (but none of the great ones IMO), but they also wrote Harold Ramis’ terrible last film with Jack Black and Michael Cera called Year One. It’s because of that movie that you didn’t see a Ghostbusters 3 when Ramis was still alive (they were writing the screenplay and it kept getting rejected). This is honestly their best work. Maybe I would look forward to their future projects if they can keep this momentum, there is only improvement from here. So if you are looking for a pretty damn solid hilarious comedy on the weekend of August 16th (when it comes out, I saw a sneak preview), Good Boys gets a solid B/B+ from me. Looking at what all comes out in August, it might be your only decent option for the month (jury still out on Hobbs & Shaw, review this Friday).

Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: THE BOYS (Amazon Prime, no spoilers)

Were you expecting something else? Maybe a review of the wildly and negatively talked about 4th season of Veronica Mars? I’m in a mood to review decent things today, so my scathing review of that time wasting trash will have to await a different mood for a different day. Let’s talk about something that was just released last week and I watched all 8 tightly woven narrative episodes within a three day time span, THE BOYS, where you can catch it on Amazon Prime Video. The Boys is the refreshingly different comic book television show based on a comic book that has a drastically different take on superheroes and how they would be perceived in our modern day. I want to underline the word drastically a billion times. It is up there with Bosch and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel as one of the streaming platforms best shows.

The different concept? The Boys is about superheroes and the real nitty-gritty behind the scenes of their ‘heroic’ endeavors. In this world, super people are downright negligent, daft, create a shit ton of collateral damage and sometimes, are really evil sons of bitches. How evil? Murdering and rape evil. Yeah, scary right? Anyway, one day a young adult named Hugh Campbell (played by Jack Quaid, son of Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid no less!) is walking down the sidewalk with his girlfriend Robin when she suddenly disappears in a cloud of blood and guts with Hughie still holding her hands. A fast travel superhero named A-Train just ran through her in a hurry, stops for a second to just say he can’t stop, and keeps going. Hughie wants payback, but the huge company named Vought, that sponsors a bunch of superheroes including The Seven (imagine a corporate owned Justice League), wants to just give Hughie a $48,000 check in damages as long as he signs a non-disclosure agreement. Distraught, Hughie runs into Billy Butcher (played by the great Karl Urban), a guys who claims he is FBI tasked in bringing down these negligent super people once and for all by making them actually responsible and atone for their giant mistakes.

Hughie joins him but little does he know that Billy is more of an unconventional tactic freelancer with an unconventional team (hence the title, The Boys) doing whatever it fucking takes to bring down these inept super people. Hughie actually starts to befriend one of The Seven, the newly initiated Starlight (who isn’t like the others) and Billy has his own reasons why he wants to take the supes down, but the lesser said about those two story lines, the better. In fact, I’m really not going to talk about plot anymore, as the pot boiling story is a great journey and is better left unspoiled. Other than Billy and Hughie. The Boys also include Frenchie, a French mercentary; Mother’s Milk, a dangerous yet polite and well spoken man that doesn’t really want to rejoin the gang after past exploits; and there is a female member of the boys, but the less about Kimiko, played superbly by Karen Fukuhara, with more to do her than her role in DC’s Suicide Squad, the better.

I want to go off track here for a second and say how much I love these new television series that are only 8 to 10 episodes. Almost literally no filler to get it to 13 to 16 episodes, it really is refreshing. You can get a very tight story and a bunch of fully developed character arcs without having to add inane filler D, E, or F subplots or any repetitive narrative dialogue. You either pay attention to the show or have to rewind, there is no recap. Now while 8 episodes can seem rushed like Stranger Things Season 3, with The Boys, it’s absolutely perfect. It was fun, fresh, didn’t feel bloated yet had me craving more in a more conventional healthy way unlike say infuriating cliffhangers such as Veronica Mars Season 4 or even aspects of Stranger Things Season 3.

When watching The Boys, you might get the feeling that this depiction of real superheroes in our modern day world hits a little too close to home. All the capitalism, corporate sponsorship, red tape, lies, manipulations, secrets, and political agendas, feel very similar with what we are going through now. And that’s the great part about it, that feeling of realism this television series brings even though you have more than 200 superheroes flying about. It certainly depicts things better than Hancock with Will Smith did. I love how all the superheroes in this are satires of the ones in real DC Comics. For example, Homelander is a satire on Superman, The Deep is a satire on Aquaman, A-Train is a satire on The Flash, Queen Maeve is a satire on Wonder Woman, and so on and so forth. And the action in the action scenes is realistic too. When Homelander uses his laser beams heat vision to slice through ‘bad guys’ he really does ‘slice’ through them. You get flying blood, dismembered parts, the works.

And the acting is all there too. Like I said, Karl Urban is fantastic in this and is the linchpin of the series. But EVERYONE does a good job, such as Laz Alonso’s cool yet calm demeanor as Mother’s Milk, Jack Quaid is phenomenally nervous yet bold as Hughie, and Erin Moriarty sizzles with new found bravery as the newest member of The Seven, Starlight. All of the acting and action always teeters the line between over-the-top comic book-y to abstract realism and the tone is perfectly balanced. If you are sick and tired of the formula that Marvel and DC films have brought time and again to the theatrical experience, this show slaps you in the face with a new twisty take on the genre. These 8 episodes are certainly worth anyone’s time if interested. Hey, the show was already renewed for season 2 before the premiere of this first season and they start production soon, so if that doesn’t grab your attention, I don’t know what will. You will have a fun time with The Boys, I guarantee it.