Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BAD HAIR (Hulu)

You can not tell me that the premise for Hulu’s new original movie, BAD HAIR, doesn’t sound interesting: “In 1989 an ambitious young woman gets a weave in order to succeed in the image-obsessed world of music television. However, her flourishing career may come at a great cost when she realizes that her new hair may have a mind of its own.” The movie is about a hair weave that kills people. Plain and simple. Brilliant. I have never seen a movie like that before. It pains me to say though that even though the script and the tone gets the late 80s right, with plenty of fantastic social commentary on the African-American woman and how her hair looks/how she looked in general at the time, the execution of the horror aspects are absolutely abysmal. Especially the editing and the CGI of the hair weave killing people. A. BYS. MAL. I think writer, director, producer, Justin Simien, was just completely out of his element here, directing wise. He’s known for the semi-satire movie and Netflix series, Dear White People, which those are little great features on their own, but he is in no way a horror director. Simply put, what needed to happen was that he needed his script polished by someone in the horror industry and the film needed to be directed by someone well versed in the horror industry. This could’ve been something really really special, but the hammy horror scenes, which aren’t meant to be hammy, I can 100% confirm that, are just plain awful. I would’ve understood and have been more into it if this had been a complete satire or commentary on African-American hair, but the horror aspects in this are completely meant to be taken seriously, they are just directed like a film student who doesn’t have a budget. The Chris Rock narrated documentary Good Hair was more of a horror film than this was.

This movie has some pretty recognizable faces in it: Usher, Jay Pharoah, Vanessa Williams, Lena Waithe, James Van Der Beek, with Unsecured Elle Lorriane providing a strong lead performane as Anna, the young women who is trying to make it in the music television industry. They all give good performance, in fact, I would say that I really enjoyed the tone of the first half of the movie. It’s a very solid social and appearance commentary. But once the horror film takes over, it’s all down hill, and it’s all down hill fast. What are meant to be earned and creepy jump scares are shot and edited to shit, with embarrassing CGI that takes the realism out of everything. The mythology of why this particular hair weave kills people is interesting, but instead of there being an entire scene where the mythology is brought to light, in this case from a Folklore Story Book, that scene is chopped up and spread out, where the story being interrupted 2 to 3 times is a huge disadvantage for some viewers as they could’ve forgotten the information given to them 20 minutes ago. Considering what happens during the course of the movie, the ending is rushed and doesn’t make a lick of sense. I liked that it was visual story ending, a not telling but showing ending, with some obligatory sequel set ups, but a little explanation was required why certain people ended up getting away with certain things and weren’t caught and arrested. Hopefully you get my drift without me completely spoiling it. Bad Hair is half a good movie, but half a mostly bad one…ultimately disappointing with how much potential it squandered because of a likely budget, editing and directing issue. This tale was not woven together very carefully.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BOOKS OF BLOOD (Hulu)

BOOKS OF BLOOD, a Hulu Original Movie that released a couple of days ago, is just generic and bland horror, plain and simple. There are a couple of good yet cheap jump scares and a couple of neat bloody visual shots, but for the most part it is all uninteresting, schlocky cheap, not frightening, and the intertwining of the three stories near the end left a lot to be desired. IMDB describes the movie with the following: “A journey into uncharted and forbidden territory through three tales tangled in space and time. Based on the Books of Blood, a series of horror fiction collections written by the British author Clive Barker, Books of Blood adapts Clive Barker’s framing device story from his novels but also includes brand new stories written for this film that Barker was involved in creating.” In essence, this is a sequel to the much superior film Book of Blood (they went with just an S here, like Aliens did), released in 2009, but more of a reboot/remake as the main story that binds the other two together is the same from the 11 year old film, just rewritten with different story elements and plot twists. Other than a couple of good scares and some neat bloody visuals. the only other compliment I could give it is that it has two decent performances from Britt Robertson and Anna Friel. Other than that, if Clive Barker did help coming up with these brand new stories, which is kind of confusing because the screenplay is credited by two others, then he is truly out of his game, and hasn’t been relevant since his decent novels, stories, and filmography of the mid 80s to early 90s.

I’m just going to list a one sentence little log line in my own words for each story:

  1. The first story involves a professional killer whose latest assignment clues him in on a priceless book, called The Book of Blood, that may allow him and his wife to permanently retire.
  2. The second story involves Jenna, a depressed and hypersensitive girl who suffers from ‘misphonia’ (an abhorrence of sound), and as she learns her mother is about to send her back to the psyche ward, she steals her cash and sets out for Los Angeles and may or may not end up at the BnB from hell.
  3. The last story involves Mary, a psychologist who has gained fame as a skeptic that debunks all theories or beliefs that are not solely scientifically based after she lost her 7-year-old son to leukemia and then met Simon, a potential medium.

The way the stories are linked together before the end credits and the content in them individually are anemic and clumsy. Frustrating too because all the stories show potential but they back off before that potential is fully realized. There are not any likable characters among them all. The best story of the three is the 2nd one which stares Britt Robertson. Even though all the characters are a bit flat, her performance, and along with Anna Friel, who plays Mary in the third story I mentioned, clearly showed that they tried with what they were poorly given. The stories don’t “tangle” organically, as you can tell that a couple of threads were thought up of last minute to try and make the viewer exclaim, “oh so that’s what that was!” I’d like to think that people are smarter than that and also answered with, “Nah, we ain’t buyin’ it.” One of the teleplay writers hasn’t done much, wrote the mediocre The Haunting In Connecticut, and wrote the abysmal Carnosaur and Snoop Dogg’s 2001 horror film, Bones, so with Adam Simon, you get what you pay for. However, the other teleplay writer, Brannon Braga (who also directed), should know better, as he has written some great episodes of television, such as 24, The Orville, Cosmos, and Star Trek: The Next Generation. It doesn’t even seem to be as if he’s trying here. The only thing this movie made me want to do is go out and search for Clive Barker’s 6 ‘Books of Blood’ that were published in 1984 and 1985 and read those. I bet they would make for a great Halloween treat. This ‘book’ I threw after slamming down the back cover in angry angst, hoping that I could draw blood from it.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BABYTEETH

BABYTEETH, a drama with a few comedic bits that you can stream on Hulu for free today (otherwise you can rent it streaming), was a nice refresher of mild quirky-ness after the overload of garbage that was my previous movie I just reviewed, Kajillionaire. Babyteeth is still not a perfect or great movie by any means, I think out of 1 hr and 57 minutes about 15 to 20 could’ve been shaved off, the movie has a very strong beginning, very strong ending, and very strong performances. It does lag a bit toward the end of the beginning of the film and the middle of the film, but it makes up for it in the other qualities I just shared. It stars Eliza Scanlen, who has been in a ton of things recently such as HBO’s Sharp Objects, Little Women, and Netflix’s The Devil All The Time and IMDB describes the movie as: “Milla, a seriously ill teenager falls in love with a drug dealer, Moses, her parents worst nightmare.” She is pitch perfect here as a girl that just wants to live her life to the fullest in case she dies. Her parents are played perfectly by Essie Davis and Ben Mendelsohn, the latter of which is becoming one of my favorite actors of all time. He plays it quirky and weird when his character calls for it, but serious yet calm when those scenes come along. It’s because the honest script and dialogue helps the performances, written by first timer Rita Kalnejais, and she doesn’t force the characters to be too abstract and weird. While the characters and situations have their quirks, it is grounded in a sense of dramatic realism where you feel like all of them make true to life decisions and actions.

The movie is directed by Shannon Murphy, who I’m not familiar with, although she directed two episodes of the hit tv series Killing Eve, and she is definitely an actor’s director and has a spark of visual flare, something I hope she can translate to future projects. Unlike Kajillionaire, there isn’t one unlikable character in this, as even though Moses has his fare share of problems, his good heart ultimately prevails. He is played by Toby Wallace who apparently is really good in Netflix’s most recently cancelled beloved series The Society. I’ve seen a few clips of him in that, and needless to say, he’s a damn fine actor when you compare that with this role. My only complaints for this film come before the living situations of all involved are permanently set in stone (that’s all I can say without giving anything away). Milla trying to get Moses interested in her as more than just friends (when they are the only two onscreen) are the scenes that didn’t really have any emotional weight or context for me, compared to the scenes where Milla’s parents are also involved. I think that maybe point A, point B, & point C were the structure of the screenplay, the solid ideas of the story that were cemented in stone before the screenplay was even written, before the connections were made by filling out the tiny details. While getting from point B to point C was fleshed out and solidly told, more time was needed on how to get from point A to point B, as those scenes dragged on too long and didn’t really work for me. But, Babyteeth is still a decent one time watch, if not for the strong ending and beginning, and for all the performances. You won’t be grinding your teeth, wishing for this movie to end, but I suggest to bring some tissues so that tears won’t be hitting them constantly throughout.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: HOOKING UP

HOOKING UP is another straight to video movie that came out earlier this year, and like my last movie review Buffaloed, I just bid my time yet again to when it came on a streaming service that I already partake in. Hence, it just came on Hulu, hence I’m reviewing it for you since 2020 sucks. But this movie does not, it’s actually a decent and cute one time watch with good performances from both Brittany Snow and Sam Richardson, especially the former. The only thing hindering it from becoming a multiple time viewed comedy hit is that it gets bogged down in a couple of cliches near the climax of the film, which makes it drag, until it saves itself with a little less predictable ending than you would think a raunchy sex comedy like this would get. It starts out as just another crude to be crude type movie you’ve seen before but quickly veers into more sweet and emotional territory, which is why this ultimately gets a slight recommendation from me. But only if you have time to spare one afternoon or evening and you are not trying to hook up with someone and trying to have lots and lots of sex during these COVID quarantine times. The jokes land about 60-40, which isn’t bad for something straight to video, and thankfully the sweet stuff lands about 80-20 to make up for the things that don’t work in its favor.

IMDB describes Hooking up as such: “After he receives a new cancer diagnosis and she is fired from her job as a sex columnist, Bailey and Darla take a road trip that forces them to get intimate with their issues, as well as each other.” Simple enough. That description tells you its a sex comedy road trip movie with feelings. That’s what it is. Bailey is also dealing with a recent break up from a high school sweetheart and Darla is trying to get her job back by writing a last chance column for her boss, played feisty by the always welcome Jordana Brewster (I’d have her yell at me any day of the week she’s so hot in this), while trying to come to terms about how her sexual promiscuity has hurt people in the past. Darla last chance column is on Bailey’s cancer journey and she’s writing it behind his back…you see where this is going don’t you? Once that very predictable confrontation scene happens, the movie drags a bit, but like I said earlier, the ending saves it. It really does, as you think it will go all the way in one direction, but it ends up in an “acute” yet more reasonable path. Rather than going for a straight out ending of declarations of forgiveness and I love you’s that are beginning to get annoying in other films at this point, it tries to be realistic enough. To give you a different perspective, my wife watched it with me and liked it much more than I did…so there you go. For me, Hooking Up is like a decent one-night stand, you are ultimately glad it happened, it felt good and you don’t feel dirty afterwards, even though it will probably never happen again.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: THE BINGE (Hulu)

THE BINGE is almost literally the same movie as Good Boys…but On Drugs. But don’t worry, the kids are 18 in this, and considering the year this takes place in, I’m surprised that they didn’t just use the characters from that movie and have that be the title of the sequel.The Binge is also a sort of, semi-parody of The Purge movies, described so eloquently in IMDB’s log line for the film: “Set in a time where all drugs and alcohol are illegal, the only day anyone can participate in the “fun” is on Binge day.” The year is 2032, where teenagers that just hit 18 don’t even know what a keg stand is anymore. You’d think maybe it should’ve been ten more years into the future (2042) for that notion to be believable, but believe me when I tell you this, to enjoy this movie, completely leave all logic and reasoning at the door before you hit PLAY. This is a teen comedy if there ever was one. There are drug jokes, dick jokes, sex jokes, crude humor up the wazoo, almost as bad if not worse of the amount there was in Good Boys. Other than The Purge angle, this movie is completely unoriginal. It’s about three friends, one who wants to ask his school Principal’s daughter (who he’s known since he was a kid) to prom. One of them just wants to go to this annual Binge party, take place in a competition there called The Gauntlet, and have sex with one of the hottest girls in school. The last one is that token weirdo that says random ass shit with dead pan delivery we’ve come accustomed to in films like this. You HAVE to watch this movie in a good mood (or at least be able to want to be in a good mood), because if you do, like I did, you are going to have a fantastic and hilarious time. If you aren’t in a good mood and don’t want to have a fantastic time, like most regular critics are with the film, you are just going to rip it a new asshole in terms of originality and the fact that the movie doesn’t do nearly enough to develop how a day like this might really play out in the real world. At least today, I don’t care how unoriginal this film was and we are living in a country that doesn’t give two fucks what it does during a pandemic right now, so I certainly don’t want to watch something that is eerily reminiscent of what we are going through. I just wanted to laugh and I haven’t laughed this hard since last month’s Palm Springs. To conclude this introductory paragraph, Hulu is KILLING IT this year with original movies. I just put The Binge on my top 20 list, and along with Palm Springs, I don’t think I see a Netflix film on there. That’s saying something.

Two out of the three friends are from the recent movie Booksmart, and the main main protagonist Griffin, you might recognize as Skylar Gizondo. He stole the show in Booksmart but really stole every scene in Netflix’s great original series that was cancelled too early, Santa Clarita Diet. He plays it straight here…until he’s on drugs and alcohol. The other two teenagers, played by Dexter Darden and Eduardo Franco, get their moments to shine and made me laugh constantly. Speaking of playing it straight, Vince Vaughn is in this and he plays the school’s principal and the father of the girl that Griffin wants to ask to prom. Mr. Vaughn, even though being the ‘and’ in the opening credits, is in this much more than you initially probably think he would be. At first Vaughn plays the typical stuck up father old man role that hates the annual Binge night (although still with that stinging classic improv from him that makes you do several double takes to understand what just came out of his mouth), but as every minute of the movie ticks by, and the more scenes he is in, the Wedding Crasher comes out of him, and by the end of it he ends up being the funniest he’s ever been since that classic 2005 film. It’s just a really funny fucking movie. There is so much random shit in it, such as really funny auto-correct texting jokes, a giant bar multi-person bicycle, and cocaine in a cow’s eyeball that, for an hour and 38 minutes, made me forget about these shitty times the whole world is going through. I didn’t expect a masterpiece. Sure, you are going to have to suspend your believe in how much drugs and alcohol some of the lead characters do and somehow they still A. survive and B. seem sober the next minute. Especially involving one part of The Gauntlet competition where you have to snort as much cocaine as you can and when you aren’t snorting you have to do an Al Pacino Scarface impression. Yeah, I shit you not, that is in this movie. There is even an end of second act random drug trip lovely musical sequence. The film right now is doing TERRIBLE critically, it’s 22% on Rotten Tomatoes. This is one time where I completely disagree with the critics. They are especially being too harsh on the film, and you can tell all of them completely brought their brain into the mix when they hit the PLAY button. They are calling it irresponsible, inate, and wasted potential. I have a feeling that some of these critics just can’t be put into a good mood right now. I understand. But you have to WANT to be in a good mood to enjoy a film like this. And trust me, with 2020, every minute I want to binge on a high of good moods.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: PALM SPRINGS (Hulu)

Groundhog Day is the blueprint that all other “same day/time loop” films jump off of, correct? Asking for a friend. But being truthful, it really is. I can’t think of another time loop project that came out before Groundhog Day (upon doing some research, I found one short film and one television film that explored this concept briefly, but Groundhog Day was really the first theatrical endeavor). And all the other ones that came after, whether it be Before I Fall, Source Code, Happy Death Day among many others, only maybe Source Code has come even close to at least matching the masterful 1993 Bill Murray/Harold Ramis comedy. PALM SPRINGS just beat Source Code for me and is only a hair below Groundhog Day now. It is also now the best film of 2020 for me as well, as I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a straight to streaming title this much…since…well…EVER. It is a near perfect movie, with great set ups that provide great pay offs, huge laughs, incredible performances, and one hell of a tight 90 minute structure that I could’ve watched about an hour more of. I completely fell for this world and everything in it and know that in the future I will be watching Palm Springs over, and over, and over, and over again. I think repeat viewings will solidify how perfectly constructed this film is from start to finish. And it is likely to put a giant grin on your face, which is especially nice considering 2020 has been a total asshole to the entire world.

Per IMDB, it describes Palm Springs as: “When carefree Nyles and reluctant maid of honor Sarah have a chance encounter at a Palm Springs wedding, things get complicated as they are unable to escape the venue, themselves, or each other.” If you’ve seen any marketing for this movie, you’ll know that the “unable to escape” part is the time loop twist the story has where several individuals are reliving the same day over and over again. It’s not really even a spoiler at this point anymore because this film has been talked about so much (but the ending has not been so SHHHHH, please don’t ruin it for anyone else!). Before you start to write this off as just another “time loop” movie that has been done to death, this one is unique in that it has more than one person stuck in this time loop. So the movie explores much more territory than Groundhogs Day did and digs deeper into the relationship between two (maybe even three) people. Yes, it did explore Bill Murray’s relationship with Andie McDowell in Groundhog Day, but it was more one sided, as she had no clue that a time loop was even occurring. Andy Samberg isn’t just Andy Samberg in this movie, he actually plays much more than just another Jake Peralta/Brooklyn Nine-Nine type (although that role on television will never get old for me). This is easily a career best performance from him, as it is also for Cristin Milioti, who has come such a long way from being what would end up being the **spoiler alert for something different** disposable mother character on the sitcome How I Met Your Mother.

J.K. Simmons is also in this film, but the less that is said about his character, the better. Experience that boat load of fun on your own. But like I said, the movie is near perfect if not perfect. Right at the end, when it was about to have a huge plot thread roll loose in a depressing fashion, it doesn’t, it remembers what it needed to explain a quick bit without spoon feeding it to the audience. I literally almost screamed “oh yeah” right as the scene happened. The movie has some great twists and turns that I dare not reveal here, just to say that I didn’t see some of them coming at all. There are great set ups, pay offs, smart crude and sex humor that I haven’t seen in awhile, the works. It has a definitive set of universe rules and doesn’t break or even bend them in the slightest. I love when filmmakers stick to that shit. It has fantastic replay value, as a feel good romantic sort of sci-fi comedy that should help you get out of any funk that you are in currently. Although the great and talented Lonely Island boys (Samberg, Akiva Shaffer, Jorma Taccone) produced this film, so you could possibly call it a “Lonely Island movie”, they did not write or direct this. That would go to screenwriter Andy Siara and director Max Barbakow, neither of which I’m familiar with. Maybe one day, as I hope they can make movies as great as this one. So if you have Hulu, watch this immediately, and if you don’t have it, fucking find a friend that does or do a free trial and just watch this movie if you have to. It is a masterful and hilarious 90 minutes to distract you from the days of COVID-19, which seems to be going on forever at this point. I know I’ve said it but, again, best film of 2020 for me so far.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE

Kind of like why I did my review of Just Mercy, PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE came out in theaters early February, right before the pandemic hit. Normally I only do reviews of new stuff that comes out the year it comes out to form best of and worst of lists. Technically, Portrait is a 2019 film because it was eligible for the Academy Awards because it came out in NY and LA in December. It didn’t receive any nominations, and so I skipped it in theaters and just recently watched it on Hulu. And again, since it’s release date is blurry combined with content released in 2020 to review running out and COVID-19, I thought I would just count it as 2020 film. But just like there were reasons for Just Mercy to not quite make it on my best of list so far, heck this wouldn’t have made it on my 2019 one either, Portrait OF A Lady On Fire just missed the mark because of the movie not ending one scene earlier, what they did with the beginning, and a plot element that seemed to be taken straight from Dirty Dancing, the same plot element that didn’t make me care for that film all that much either (I’ll tell you exactly what it is later). Other than that, it is a beautiful and sweet film about love between two women in France in the late 18th century.

It the story of a forbidden affair between an aristocrat and a painter commissioned to paint her portrait. The last dude was fed up with the aristocrat woman because she wouldn’t ever pose for him so he couldn’t get her face right. The reason why this portrait needs to be done is because when it is finished her mother is sending her to Milan to get married. And you know…the woman doesn’t want to get married. Also, she’s suffering from depression because her sister killed herself by jumping off a cliff not too long ago. So they hire this other woman painter and they tell the aristocrat that she is there to go on walks with her and console her. The painter though is trying to just look at her face to do a portrait, until she isn’t, and she listens to the aristocrat, and you know, falls in love with her. The love story is tastefully done. Yes, there is nudity and some kissing, but there aren’t any full on gratuitous sex scenes, which kind of makes their love for each other earned in a way. Not like what the movie Blue Is The Warmest Color does. If you’ve ever seen THAT movie…then yeah, don’t worry, it is nothing like that. The movie is in French with English subtitles, and clocks in at an even 2 hours, but this is one period piece that actually kept my interest because of the acting, the pace of the story, and the beautiful cinematography of the sea side French landscapes.

The only real problems I had with the movie was the very beginning, a certain plot element that could’ve been completely cut out, and the ending should’ve ended one scene earlier. I can’t really reveal why it should’ve ended one scene earlier, other than to say that if you ever watch this movie, you’ll know why the scene right before the last one was more perfect than when it really decided to cut to black. The very beginning of the movie was a problem for me because I can’t stand it when movies start in the present day, and then go back in time to lead to the present. It voids a lot of mystery of where the characters might end up. And while I was wrong about the fate of one of the characters, there was no guessing about the other one, because it reveals that’s she’s alive and well right at the beginning of the film. And the frustrating thing about it is that scene could’ve played at the end and still had the same effect, maybe even more so, on the audiences emotions than where it plays at the beginning. Lastly, there is a B plot of the two women helping a young house maid get an abortion of a kid she doesn’t want. And if you’ve seen Dirty Dancing, you’ll know that was a plot thread too. That plot thread is the main reason I can’t stand Dancing, here it is done a little more tastefully, but I felt like it could’ve been cut out or re written to give more screen time to our two lead protagonists. But the movie is solid as is. If you like international feature films, I highly recommend a viewing, as it is a gorgeous movie to look at, as well as it has a decent love story of yore. I don’t know the director or any of the actresses from anything else, so I will save you a history lesson, and just say that all involved did a great job. You could watch much worse things on Hulu right now…like Shirley! This one is more on fire than that one for sure.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: SHIRLEY (Hulu)

SHIRLEY, now available on either Hulu or you can rent it, is my pick of the most boring “kill me please” film of 2020. Yet it won’t be on my worst of the year list because I can acknowledge that I understood and appreciated what the film was trying to do and Elizabeth Moss’s performance is extraordinary, yet it just didn’t work for me, wasn’t my cup of tea you could say. And I won’t ever ever watch it again…if I happen to be with you while having a movie marathon night and you suggest that we watch this I’ll shove popcorn forcefully down your throat until you cry uncle. I was that bored. I was that bored I was wishing it for it to be done so I could watch a depressing episode of 13 Reasons Why for Christ’s sakes. This will be a very short review because there isn’t much that happens in the film other than senility, adultery, jealously, rinse & repeat. Logan Lerman is completely wasted in a supporting role and I would’ve rather watched just an ordinary bio pic on the life of horror writer Shirley Jackson than a unique experimentation film about a very brief time in her life, which don’t be fooled by the title, the latter is exactly what this is. I don’t even know if this shit happened at all and I don’t have the stamina to actually do some research. To be rather jerk-ishly forward with you, I’ll probably forget the entire film in over the course of a month.

Becky, per Rotten Tomatoes, is about “Renowned horror writer Shirley Jackson is on the precipice of writing her masterpiece when the arrival of newlyweds upends her meticulous routine and heightens tensions in her already tempestuous relationship with her philandering husband. The middle-aged couple, prone to ruthless barbs and copious afternoon cocktails, begins to toy mercilessly with the naïve young couple at their door.” Shirley Jackson’s philandering husband is played by Michael Stulbarg, and he does a pretty good job as well. But the young couple played by Odessa Young and Logan Lerman are one dimensional joke of characters, you neither get to know them or care what they are going through. And the ‘toy mercilessly’ in the description makes it sound like this movie is a thriller, but it isn’t. The toying isn’t even that bad, just a rude word said here or there with a couple of weird lucid dreams. The film is very uneventful. The only times I perked up was when Elizabeth Moss was acting, but when the camera was away from her it was hard to pay attention to what was going on.

The movie acts like an experimental film, the camera all over the place with extreme close ups and some time extreme blurriness, and it just didn’t work for me. I get that it was trying to go outside the slow and easy steady cam, and bring some life into a small part in Shirley Jackson’s life, but to me it just ended up being boring store brand icing on a boring store brand cake. A lot of top profile critics are liking this film, and I can see why because of Elizabeth Moss. She is doing fantastic things this year of COVID-19, with this and the much, much better The Invisible Man already under her belt. She’s becoming the Kate Winslet of a new generation. But to me, just one performance not a great movie make. I’ve always said that, whether it be Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married…or Joaquin Phoenix in Joker. I’m not going to just like a movie based off a performance alone. It’s gotta more value in different areas, and unfortunately the story and pacing just made me want to stab my eyes out in boredom. This is actually based on a short novel, and looking at the reviews, not a lot of regular readers took to it, thought that the written form of this project was boring as well. So I feel good about ending my review with this, if you didn’t like the novel and thought it was boring, surely this ain’t going to do anything for you either.

Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: THE GREAT SEASON 1 (Hulu)

HUZZAH!!! Get used to that word, you are going to be hearing a lot of it if you check out the great new television show on Hulu called…well…THE GREAT. If you are a constant reader of my reviews, you know I’m not too fond of period piece movies, any kind of that kind of content in general…I hated history class in school. But The Great, very much a period piece, is different in many, many ways, one of which is that when the title card comes up on each episode, it has an asterisk above the t, and then below it says “an occasionally true story.” Very much a fictionalized true story then, because this television show has all the characters almost talking, and especially cursing at each other, like we do today. There’s even loads of dick and fart jokes for me to enjoy! The Great stars Nicholas Hoult and Elle Fanning in what IMDB.com and Wikipedia describes as “A royal woman living in rural Prussia during the 18th century is forced to choose between her own personal happiness and the future of Russia, when she marries an Emperor. It is a satirical, comedic drama about the rise of the longest-reigning female ruler in Russia’s history. The series is fictionalized and portrays her youth and marriage with Emperor Peter and focus on the plot to kill her depraved and dangerous husband.” That woman is Catherine The Great (hadn’t heard of this historical figure until now), but whatever category it decides to enter when Emmy nominations come about (either drama or comedy) both Hoult and Fanning much deserve to be in the lead actor and actress categories. They have never been better, their performances alone worth checking out the show. I have a feeling though that it will enter the drama category, kind of like Better Call Saul does, even though I found myself laughing much more than being shocked or awed or sad at either of these two shows. If you are still in quarantine and not one of the fucking idiots heading out to un-social distancing like beaches and parties this past Memorial Day weekend, I highly suggest checking this one out, you will have a shit load of fun while also sort of semi-experiencing a nice, yet very fictional, history lesson.

This review is probably not going to be that long, as I don’t know much about the history of Catherine the Great to do a comparison, but then again, if something is as entertaining as this, you shouldn’t really care and just take in the overall jist of what happens as semi-true and about the other 90% with a grain of salt. If you are a stickler as a history buff, this might not be for you. While there is some drama, in this there is tons of sex, sex jokes, fart jokes, dick jokes, squabbles that will remind you of a lot of the bullshit millenials fight over these days, etc. etc. etc. That’s about 40% of why you should watch this, the overarching story of the attempted coup of Peter (Hoult) is 10% of why you should watch this, and then the last 50% are the performances, especially from leads Elle Fanning and Nicholas Hoult. They are hilarious and have never been better, and hopefully the Emmy’s recognize that come eventual award season. This series I think is what the film The Favourite tried to set out and accomplish but ultimately failed. I know that film was critically lauded, but I just didn’t care for it. When going to the theater, I was expecting a modern take on the period piece movie formula. I got some of that, but mostly weirdness and dread that I couldn’t explain the basis for that overshadowed it. This show, which coincidentally Nicholas Hoult has roles in both, succeeds 100% of the time and then some. And I just did some more research before finishing up this review, and come to find out that the screenplay writer Tony McNamara, who had a direct hand in all 10 episodes of the series, also co-wrote The Favourite. Maybe he did The Great because he was unsatisfied with how that turned out personally? Maybe the weirdness from The Favourite came from the other co-writer or director Yorgos Lanthimos? Who knows? It doesn’t matter, the fact of the matter is that I would watch period piece films every day if they were like this. However, I do know not to expect that, as most want an accurate depiction of the times. This was just set out to capture audiences’ attention with a fun and different take on it all. And in that regards, it is great. Huzzah!!!

Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: DAVE SEASON 1 (FX/HULU)

Just so you know this going into my review, I had no fucking clue who Lil’ Dickey or Dave Burd was until my brother recommended watching DAVE SEASON 1 during quarantine. But I do know who co-creator/writer Jeff Schaffer is, who has done numerous fantastic projects such as: Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Bruno, Eurotrip….yet unfortunately provided the screenplay to Mike Myers’ The Cat In The Hat…oops. But anyway, setting that one misstep aside, I ultimately decided to dig in because of his involvement, and I’m glad I did, this show is excellent. Watched all 10 episodes in a little over 24 hrs (this series wasn’t released all at once, it started in March and just ended a couple of weeks ago), and am happy it was announced that a Season 2 was coming eventually, even though Season 1 feels pretty self contained and could’ve ended there. Going back and doing some research on Lil’ Dickey, can’t say I’m a huge fan of his work outside of this show, but I do understand the appeal, but to be fair I’ve only seen two of his videos so far, maybe I need to do some more back cataloging to get fully on board. But I am fully on board the show, as Dave Burd’s writing on this series far surpasses what I’ve seen of his older stuff on You Tube. What confuses me a little bit is when I recently posted on social media that I was digging the show, some of the comments listed several of the episodes being, and I directly quote, “Weak AF”. Especially some messaged me a specific episode to explain where they were coming from…and I have to disagree on their analysis completely. But that is what this review is for. Sorry, I know if it would’ve been humorous and ironic if I had done another rhyme poem on this, especially for those fans reading this that are also huge fans of Lil’ Dickey, but I save those for movies/television shows that truly suck ass, and this is the exact opposite of sucks ass.

Dave is on FX/Hulu and IMDB.com describes it as, “The series stars a fictionalized version of Lil’ Dickey, a neurotic mid 20’s suburbanite who is convinced he’s destined to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Now he’s got to prove it to everyone else.” It fails to mention that he is White & Jewish, which is a big factor in how he is treated in his career by others. Also, some (if not most) of his content might be very weird and pretty offensive to some. Again, while I might not be the biggest fan of his previous work (I don’t hate it, it’s just not my cup of tea, kind of like content that tries to sing regular dialogue and count that as music, aka Les Miserables), the show worked for me 100%. It’s freaking hilarious, the pilot titled “The Gander’, the 3rd episode titled ‘Hypospadias’ and the season finale titled ‘Jail’ probably getting the biggest laughs out of me all of 2020 so far, and when it isn’t funny, it’s heartfelt, focusing intently on character depth and development. Speaking of depth and development, when looking up or hearing about what people think of the show, many do up liking it overall, but have cited some of the episodes being, “weak as fuck,” specifically referencing Episode 5 entitled, ‘Hype Man.’ Ummmm…I don’t know what you were talking about, but that was one of the strongest (if not THE strongest) episodes of this series so far and maybe one of the strongest half hour television comedy episodes I’ve seen so far this year. Sure, it didn’t have that many laughs, and Lil’ Dickey himself was barely featured in it, and instead it focused on his real life hype man named Gata, but man, was that a fantastically written half hour. I don’t really want to give much away, but the episode concludes with one of the most tear inducing confessions I have ever witnessed on television. It felt honest and realistic. That episode moved me, and I can’t say even half as much about other episodes of television these days.

See, the problem sometimes is that when you tell someone that a half hour program is a comedy, and they go into it thinking it is a straight one, and they don’t end up getting minute by minute laughs, sometimes they will end up being really disappointed. Maybe it was the marketing of the show, or the marketing of Lil’ Dickey outside of the show, I don’t know, I didn’t see much marketing (if any) for Dave because I don’t have cable with commercials anymore. It’s streaming services without them or bust for me. At any rate, marketing or not, with any show, comedy, drama, etc., you need to have an open mind. Sometimes a comedy can be more than just a crude humor laugh a minute fest and sometimes a drama can be more than depressing moments of people screaming at each other with a pinch of violence every now and then. Sometimes what you think will be a cheesy romantic chick flick turns out to even outsmart your expectations with some side steps that subvert your expectations. Sometimes, and most of those sometimes are in the best ways possible, they can transcend. Dave might not be the laugh a minute comedy you hope for, but it is the dramedy filled character depth and developmental story that you need right now. When all ten episodes were said and done, I felt like I knew these characters, knew they’re layers, and knew that none of them were one dimensional. Needless to say I can’t wait for Season 2.

And even though it sounds like he’s about to lisp every other word, Lil’ Dickey can act and he has this sense of presence about him. If I were to compare this show to something else, I would say that this show feel a bit like Curb Your Enthusiasm, if Larry David were a much younger Jewish rapper. Larry David isn’t much of an actor in the beginning seasons, but some on years later, Larry David is a warm felt presence on that show. Here, by the end of episode ten, Lil’ Dickey already has a warm presence with me, and it’s just the first season. Everyone around him, even including his real hype man, Gata, do fantastic jobs with their acting chops. They surround themselves with some veterans like Christine Ko, Taylor Misiak, and Andrew Santino, and it seems like they have been acting for years, even though its their freshman run. In the end, if you are reading this, and are thinking about giving this show a chance, please give it to the end of episode three. That’s all I ask, then, if that hilarious episode along intrigues you, but you hope to find more out of the comedy than just really funny and smartly written sex jokes and situation, continue till episode 5. If episode 5 doesn’t win you over, than there is nothing more the show could off you and you should just quit. And it’s okay, everyone has different tastes, but don’t not like the show, or think it is “weak AF” just because you go into it with the wrong expectations. If you’ve read my review, and are going to check it out, I hope I’ve given you the correct ones. If you end up enjoying it as much as I did, then mission accomplished.