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 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 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.

Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: SOLAR OPPOSITES SEASON 1 (Hulu)

Let me make this short and sweet for ya: if you do not like or watch Rick and Morty, then you will not like SOLAR OPPOSITES SEASON 1 that just premiered this past Friday on Hulu. It’s from one of the creators of Rick and Morty, Justin Roiland, the one that does a lot of voices on that show too (one of the showrunners, Mike McMahan, came in with him on this) and other than being less meta and a shit ton more language and amped up violence to the nth degree, it’s the same fucking show just with different characters. However, I fucking love Rick and Morty, so I really enjoyed Solar Opposites. Not as much as Rick and Morty, but I watched all 8 episodes released at the same time in about less than 24 hours, they were short and quick, and I laughed my ass off. And I think I can also say this: I think if you have any interest in this show and want to watch it, you’ll have to watch a couple of seasons of Rick and Morty first, just to ease you into that humor. This series assumes that you are here because you are a Rick and Morty fan, so that humor is just fast and furious, a hand full of joke a minute, no time for you to catch up. Rick and Morty started out a little slow at the beginning (not boring, but was just had a generic set up) and eased you into the jokes. Rick and Morty is one Season 4, and I think starting with Season 2 it pulled no punches. You either get the humor, sometimes very meta, or you don’t. And if you’ve tried all that, and you don’t, then stay far, far away from Solar Opposites. It literally has nothing different to offer you other than different characters and different weird alien science-y adventures. But I knew that going in, and that was all I was asking for, and came out of it wanting more episodes now, but am unsure of its potential on Hulu, so I won’t give my hopes up for a Season 2. **goes to check internet** Never mind, it’s already been renewed for Season 2, YAY!!!!

Another warning, this show is an extreme TV-MA, and even though it is a cartoon, it is NOT for kids. There is cursing, sex, nudity, the whole she bang-a-bang. Also, there are many pop culture references you are going to have to go back and do some research on to completely get the joke. For episode one, I would suggest looking up an old Disney program called Disney’s Fuzzbucket. Just trust me on that one. Solar Opposites is about a family of aliens (two adult males and one male and female child, not the males offspring either btw) that move to middle America, where they debate whether life is better there or on their home planet (even though their home planet is revealed to have been blown up by a meteor in the opening credits), have fun and crazy, sometimes very violent and science-y adventures, and there is also this giant B-plot in the show about people living inside “The Wall,” which is basically a community inside the alien’s home filled with a bunch of asshole humans who were shrunk to tiny sizes because they were mean to the boy or girl alien. With the B-plot being a giant size of the story, and a linear narrative itself, you can’t just jump in and watch random episodes (yet), kind of like what you can with Rick and Morty. Which is the only disadvantage, but if you watch the whole thing in order at first, and ever want to watch specific episodes again, it will be no problem for you to do so, seeing as you already know the whole story. But this isn’t The Simpsons or Family Guy where pretty much there is no continuation, there are consequences here, and the characters sometimes mention what happened in a previous episode to show their current train of thought.

The voice acting here, just like Rick & Morty, is incredible. Justin Roiland and Silicon Valley’s Thomas Middleditch bring zaniness yet their characters are also unique, distinct, and colorful. You will love going on adventures with Korvo & Terry. You feel like they are your best friends at the end of the 8 episodes, and all the other voice work, including the two kids, is near as perfect. Nowadays, in order for me to watch an animated show, you gotta be more than just over staying your welcome by about 10 years and don’t try hard much anymore (The Simpsons), jokes that don’t relate to the plot at all and rely on pop culture shit that just happened a week ago (Family Guy), or ones that try to be random for random’s sake (most of what is on Cartoon Network nowadays). You gotta be smart while being funny and your show ultimately has to have some kind of point, and the more you have to dig into the subtext to get to that point, the better. Rick and Morty and South Park fit that bill. Solar Opposites season 1, near the end of it, shows that it ultimately has something to say and might even have bigger laughs and a deeper subtext when it comes back in season 2 and then maybe even beyond. Would Hulu have been smarter if they had released this one week at a time for the next two months? Maybe. Because the watch was entirely too fast. Maybe next time we could get 10 to 13 episodes, just a little bit longer. I think either way, the word of mouth on this is still going to be about the same, especially if Rick and Morty fans get together and end up watching it and then giving endless discussions to it on endless message boards. Hulu’s Solar Opposites has a lot of attraction, and I can’t wait to get more of it down the line.

Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: FUTURE MAN SEASON 3 (Hulu)

“Wow, how the mighty have fallen.” That’s what I usually say when either a sequel to a beloved movie sucks ass, or how subsequent seasons in a television show completely tarnish what came before. I said that phrase about halfway into FUTURE MAN SEASON 3. Let’s be clear here: the first season of FUTURE MAN is a pretty damn near perfect sci-fi comedy. The storyline and time travel was crystal clear, the laughs were huge and earned, the characters had fantastic chemistry…literally everything works in that season. And then you get to Season 2, which for me was a disappointment right from the get go. They abandon all three of the main characters in this really boring future fuck up waste land story line and then the writers had the gall to separate them for about half the season, when their chemistry was critical in the fantastic season before. But then toward the end, the series found its groove, with that last 4 or 5 episodes (out of a 13 episode season, the first season was also 13 episodes) being hilarious and brilliant. Then this first two episodes of the new season I thought the momentum picked up from the end of the previous season. But then episode 3 hits, and all the way through the last shortened final 8 episodes, it all comes crashing down, with a ho hum kind of ending that makes you feel as if you wasted your time.

Season one felt like it had all the money in the world in accordance to its budget. There were people everywhere and the effects were decent for a Hulu Original. But then season two hit, there are less people everywhere, and it seems their production became really cheap for whatever reason. The effects weren’t as good, they couldn’t hire as many extras, and for their dumb wasteland storyline it seemed like they got a cheap permit to film out in the middle of nowhere. Maybe the first season didn’t do as well as they had hoped viewer wise, but enough to warrant a second, and then the second season did worse, but Hulu wanted to writers to wrap up the story, hence a very short 3rd season. Season 3 is as cheap as it comes television production wise. They enact another story line where they are stuck out in the middle of a nowhere forest quarry for 2 to 3 episodes and then when they are out in public near the end, when the year 2000 is about to hit, AT A COLLEGE DORM MIND YOU, there is not a soul or extra in sight. It just felt so damn cheap, and the effects this time are extremely laughable. Perhaps most of the budget went toward its stars and then a beefed up role for Seth Rogen, who co-executive produced the series? I don’t know, but I feel as though the lessened budget that Hulu gave the show did them no favors with the writers department. I’m 100% sure this wasn’t their original vision in how the show progressed or ended.

If you don’t know what this series is about, IMDB’s log line makes it simple: “Josh Futturman, a janitor by day and a gamer by night, is recruited by mysterious visitors to travel through time to prevent the extinction of humanity.” It’s basically a rude and crude retelling, re-imagining, what have you, of The Last Starfighter, in which this loser is recruited because he beats this unbeatable video game that was really just a test for who could end up saving a very desolate and depressing future. And the third season has the gall to bring up a question on everyone’s minds since the first episode, and without getting into spoilers, cuts off the characters explanation as a joke (basically the writers had no idea, so they turned the whole thing into a cut off joke just to get a laugh out of the audience and try to make them forget that we were asking this question since the first season in the first place. You’ll know what this question is if you’ve been loyal to the series in the first place. They bring it up one scene before the show ends here. It’s stupid and lazy. Part of the reason why I think the writers unfortunately had to go in another direction was not only because of budget, but because in the first season one of the actors, Glenne Headley, who play’s Josh’s mom, died in real life. I think the writers had plans for future seasons really involving his parents, but had to scratch that and write around her death. Which I understand, but they should’ve thought of something better. The main problem other than the cheap production value is that the series again keeps this characters in one location for two to three episodes, and those locations become boring fast. They introduce a new place called Haven, and without getting into spoilers, the concept was a neat one, but the execution was very shoddy.

Would I recommend watching this series at all? Probably just the first season, and ignore the cliffhanger. The first season is fantastic. The second season is meh until the very end, and the third season is hugely disappointing after a decent first two episodes (really an only episode and a half). It’s not terrible, terrible, it just feels very, very, very cheap all around and I don’t think what came to be was necessarily what the writers had planned as an endgame. They keep the three leads together mostly throughout this season, which their chemistry is their only saving grace. Josh Hutcherson (Hunger Games), Eliza Coupe (Happy Endings), and Derek Wilson (Preacher), don’t lose sight of their characters and even learn to make their arcs grow this season. And while I was really disappointed with how it all ended, I have sort of come to terms that it was probably the best the writers could come up with the budget that was given to them. When these companies have the writers write themselves out of a corner with a really small budget, sometimes (most of the time) it might’ve been better if they just quit while they were ahead. Yes, I’m saying that I wish this show was cancelled after season one. And with these last 8 episodes just dumped on Hulu this past weekend without any fucking marketing promoting the show was coming back, I guarantee you we were probably this close of not receiving a final season at all, but someone gave everyone involved sympathy money to wrap it up. Just ultimately really disappointing, and other than the first season, this show will be forgotten in time soon, with no future rewatches.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: BIG TIME ADOLESCENCE (Hulu)

Two reviews in one day after this COVID-19 pandemic? Fuck yeah son! I thought I’d maybe review something that you can watch in the safety of your own home this time! On my non paranoid lunch (that consisted of me eating alone in my cubicle), I checked out BIG TIME ADOLESCENCE on Hulu starring Pete Davidson (the stoner youngling on SNL) because they dropped it a week early to maybe boost people’s moods up, because it is a comedy. And it isn’t. Pete Davidson reminds a lot of people of Adam Sandler, but Sandler was definitely less druggy, depressed, and tattooed. However, when audiences didn’t start taking Adam Sandler seriously until maybe Punch Drunk Love, utilizing Sandler’s comedic talents in the best way possible, mixing it with some drama, Big Time Adolescence is Pete Davidson’s first leading feature film (he had a very bit part in a Netflix film a year or so ago), and to me, this is his Punch Drunk Love. Pete Davidson is basically his comedic yet depressing self in this, but he uses the script and material to his advantage to give those watching something more. What I’m trying to say is, don’t be surprised if he’s in something like Uncut Gems in much less time than it took Sandler to get to that level. Even though in the end, the movie is basic coming of age tale plot wise very predictable, the humor, the acting, and those few dramatic moments make it get a big recommendation from me. Come on, check it out, escape from the bullshit of today!

I can describe the plot this easily: imagine if they remade Big Daddy, mix in a little Superbad and Knocked Up, but that old Adam Sandler movie was more serious and less over the top, and it was a dude in his mid 20s hanging out and befriending a 16 year old kid instead of a (which the father type mentor with a much older best friend). And it involved selling drugs. That’s this movie. It’s safe to say that the clinch pin in making this all believable is the set up to how Davidson’s character hangs out with this 16 year old, played very convincingly by Griffin Gluck, who you may know from Netflix’s American Vandal or Locke & Key. Well it is. Gluck’s character thinks his sister’s boyfriend, Davidson, is cool, hangs out a lot with him and his sister, and Davidson just treats him like a normal human being, doesn’t talk down to him. Gluck’s sister eventually dumps Davidson, but Gluck doesn’t want to lose basically the only friendship that he has, and asks if he can still hang out with Davidson even though he’s not dating his sister anymore, and Davidson says sure. And everything is good until one of Gluck’s classmates asks if he can get alcohol for a party that he is having and Davidson gets not only that, but some “choice” weed to sell to the minors. Of course, Gluck doing that is a huge hit, and he is suddenly in wide demand, his eye on a girl classmate that is just as shy as he is, and him and Davidson hanging and bonding more than ever. It’s when harder drugs come into play where things start to go very wrong.

I found the movie to be a very enjoyable. nice and tight hour and 30 minutes, no filler. I laughed my ass off at parts and admired the acting, especially from Davidson, quite a bit. And while the story could’ve used a couple of more wrenches thrown into it, it is unique enough in its own way to make all the predictable plot points forgivable. This movie is pure escapism from the crap we are dealing with right now. Jon Cryer has a bit part playing Gluck’s father, and he does so well, it’ll make you put his endless role in Two and A Half men in the rear view mirror. Newtime writer/director Jason Orley does a pretty good job for a first time filmmaker, everything isn’t so nice and bright picture wise as it would be in a normal comedy like this, and instead add some grit that complements the rest of the glitz and glam well. It feels like this could’ve really happened, and I would love to do some research to see if he just wrote this based off personally experience, because I have a feeling, when you look up his picture on IMDB, that he might’ve been Gluck’s character when he was a kid. So to keep these surprise streaming reviews short, I’m going to end it here so you can check it out if interested and get out of these COVIDerwhatever blues and have a good laugh and a good time. We need it right now. I might’ve not like Pete Davidson’s recent Netflix stand up special much, but this certainly more than made up for it, and showing that, in the future, if he does more adult projects, just like a real adult, we’ll start to take him more seriously.

Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: LITTLE MONSTERS (HULU)

LITTLE MONSTERS, not to be confused with the movie that starred Fred Savage when he was still little Kevin Arnold, is another zombie comedy film that was released on Hulu last weekend after getting decent reviews from Sundance and SXSW festivals earlier this year. It stars the great Lupita Nyong’o and Josh Gad and it is about a teacher that has to guide her class of small children through a zombie outbreak in the middle of a field trip. Basically, with the crude, rude, and crass tone, in a school like field trip setting, imagine if Billy Madison was in Zombieland, and that’s exactly the kind of movie you get. For me, it worked. While some may find the mean humor a little too mean, it is another refreshing take on the zombie tale, and makes for a good double feature if you went and saw Zombieland 2 in the theater before or after watching this in the comfort of your own home. It’s especially refreshing when you happen to still watch The Walking Dead; the past 3 episodes of that dower and grim show in its tiring 10th season has mostly been DOA, not fun at all, and almost a complete snooze fest. This will wake you right the fuck up.

I went into this film almost completely dark. I had not seen any trailers or tv spots, just a couple of still images and a couple of reviews that said while it was juvenile, it was still funny and refreshing. And knowing how I’m basically still juvenile at 33, I knew I was probably going to be okay with it. And when you add all that up, and add in the fact that my wife, who hates zombie/scary movies/what have you, actually sat down with me and paid attention the whole movie and now recommends it to people, you know you have something decent on your hands. So going into it dark, I was kind of dumb struck when the movie started with this random couple, showing their relationship (mostly fights), and then a break up. No Lupita Nyong’o in sight, quick cameo by Josh Gad on a television. I was thinking to myself, “well, maybe they are the start of some zombie outbreak or something.” Nope, in fact, the movie subverted my expectations with this juvenile man baby male being actually a main character and the catalyst of a “growing up” kind of tale. His story eventually intersects with Lupita’s and it does so absolutely beautifully. I was afraid that even though her name is listed first that it would be a Bruce Willis in a straight to video on demand kind of thing, top billing, but maybe only 15 minutes in the film.

But no, once Lupita joins the fray, she is in the movie 100%, her and the grown man baby’s adventure turns into a multi-dimensional arc in what could’ve easily been something generic (such as the plot just be that the grown man baby child wants only to just fuck Maz Kanata). And Josh Gad is in the film much more than I thought he would be as well, considering he is the “and” in the credits. I don’t want to spoil much about his character, but Gad is absolutely hilarious in this, using that fake annoying charm that he brings to other films so well, but then completely flipping it on its head. You’ll see. Out of Lupita Nyong’os classroom of children, they really only focus on one boy, who happens to be the grown man baby’s nephew. If I had any complaints about the film, is that while you want to see the other tiny little children of the classroom survive the zombie ordeal, the rest of their personalities don’t stick out so much, and are kind of degraded into being one dimensional stereotypes. I’m not expecting the Citizen Kane of character development to side kid characters in an hour and 34 minutes zombie film, but it would’ve been nice to have just a little more interactions with some of the kids, instead of it just being a couple of kids think the main boy is weird, but then end up respecting him in the end.

Also, for a zombie movie, you might have to suspend your belief a little bit. While I appreciated that it was only a zombie outbreak and they weren’t in the middle of a nation wide apocalypse, it was kind of weird to see that their field trip to this fun little lamb farm happened to be right next to a military experimental facility. But then again, maybe that was the joke? If that was an intentional joke (I’d have to ask the screenwriter), then it was quite brilliant. Otherwise, it just seems like plot convenience for point A to makes sense getting to point B in a hurry. The violence is a little less what you’d expect from a zombie movie, with some good gore and kills here and there, but then it also pulls back its punches on several good killing money shots, but I expect that it is due to the small budget this thing had, which is of course forgettable. I think this had a budget similar to Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, and this thing looks and is shot, so so so so so so much better than that film was.

This is definitely an entertaining ride on Hulu you don’t want to miss. Especially if you like these kinds of movies and/or are a zombie afficionado. If you don’t have Hulu, maybe find a friend that can loan you their username or password (don’t ask me though) so you would be able to check it out. It’s definitely much better than I thought it was gonna be, as I wasn’t looking at my laptop or phone during any parts of the movie. I am not familiar with the writer/director Abe Forsythe, or any of his previous work, but if his name is attached to a project in the future, I might be actively checking it out from now on. This movie ultimately proves though that Lupita Nyong’o deserved that Oscar she got for 12 Years A Slave several years ago for that very short screen time she was in. I thought it might’ve been a fluke, but her parts in this, Black Panther, Star Wars and especially Us, have proved me wrong. And I’m glad she did. Very good little film.

Zach’s Zany TV Binge Watchin’ Reviews: VERONICA MARS (Season 4) **MAJOR SPOILERS**

It’s been out for a month now, and even though my headline says “binge watchin'” it actually took me a month to finally finish VERONICA MARS SEASON 4, which says a lot, as I am a huge Veronica Mars fan. Yes, I am going to get to THAT spoiler, THAT ending, but this season has a whole mess of problems other than THAT gut wrenching twist. To start, I feel like I need to reveal something about my knowledge of Season 4 before you read the rest of this review, my own little stupid twist if you will. After watching the first episode without knowing shit, I went ahead and took a peek at what happens at the end, including the who dun it, and the death of one of the main characters that has gotten fans up in arms, claiming they will not watch another season if it happens to be made (it probably will, and I call bullshit, you’ll watch it). Knowing what was going to happen, combined with having to wait to watch it with my wife, combined with my 2 year old always being around (this series definitely not suitable for him) are all factors why it took so long to watch. Thinking back on everything though, had I binge watched it all in a day, not knowing what would’ve happened before then, I would’ve still come to the same conclusion. Veronica Mars Season 4 is the worst thing to happen to Veronica Mars.

Yes, that includes the very mixed Season 3. For me, the first two seasons of Veronica Mars are masterful, and the movie is pretty decent. Season 3 has some greatness in it, but the main problem with it is that I just didn’t really much care for the overarching plots of the series, the Hearst college rapist and then figuring out who was Dean O’Dell’s killer. The greatness came from the non-overlapping story arcs. The individual cases. All these television shows nowadays mostly consist of individual episodes that solve one mystery/murder/what have you every 42 minute segment, but then the whole season has one big overlapping narrative that is usually a question posed in the season opener and then answered/resolved by the season finale. And here in lies the main problem with Veronica Mars Season 4, it ONLY has a overlapping narrative. In the 8 episodes that were all made available on Hulu the same day, there are NO INDIVIDUAL/MULTIPLE cases for Veronica Mars and co. to solve, it’s just one, and it is dragged out for SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO LOOOOOOOOOONNNNNNNNNNNNG, and ultimately is a disappointment, because I guessed the culprit in the first episode before I spoiled myself, and I was guessed correctly (TBH, I was 3/4th’s right).

The one and only main plot of these 8 episodes asks the question “who is the Neptune Spring Break bomber?” In the first episode, a local hotel/motel called The Sea Sprite is bombed, and then throughout the rest of the episodes more places and people are bombed. Who is doing it and why? Let me answer that with another question, who cares? Who is ultimately doing it and why (there in the end being two answers and two whys) comes off as a big disappointment. I put major spoilers in the title because I’m only going to reveal the last minute twist that has die hard fans stark raving mad. Let’s just say that the reasons behind everything are ho-hum at best, and have been done countless times before across countless movies/tv shows. If you want a hint, think of I Know What You Did Last Summer mixed with elements of the bad guys’ scheme in The Brady Bunch Movie and you have your answer. Overdone, over played, and the fact that all 8 of these episode are dedicated to this plot and this plot only, and that the episodes stretch from 50 minutes to one hour, and you can see how frustratingly long it all feels.

If this main plot was filled out over a course of a regular season of Veronica Mars back when it was on WB/CW, but with non-related individual cases each episode, it maybe could’ve fared better. Key word is MAYBE. But with all the information that is gathered during the course of the season, I could’ve even seen this bomb plot played out and solved in one or two regular individual episodes. There really isn’t that much too it. Sure, there are B and C plots that involve congressmen, bar owners, and the Mexican Cartel out for revenge for someone who was killed/injured in the main explosion, but ALL OF IT surrounds the bombings, and it just wasn’t that interesting to me. I didn’t care. The difference between me and the regular hard core base of Veronica Mars fans is that I honestly think they enjoyed most of the season and that the only thing that ruined it was the very last minute, stupid, bullshit, dumb, lazy, idiotic, written only for the purpose of being shocking and not at all to help advance realistic character development, twist that had all of them screaming their vile language and hatred toward creator Rob Thomas: The Death of Logan Echolls.

That’s right, Logan Echolls (a character from the first episode of the first season, the ultimate love of Veronica’s life) dies at the very, very end of Veronica Mars Season 4. There are no take backs. It’s true that we don’t see a body and we only see the explosion, but there is no question about it: he is dead (if it ever turns out Rob Thomas was joshing everyone and in Season 5 it tries to pull off the “Alias Season 5 Michael Vaughn faking his death” twist to protect him and everyone else all along, all of Thomas’s credibility as a storyteller will go straight out the window). But we are all pretty certain Logan is dead as there is a long enough epilogue that mentions a funeral, a sweet endearing voice message from him to Veronica, and then her leaving Neptune for good to help others because she just can’t take that city that has caused her so much pain anymore. And then there is also Rob Thomas and Kristen Bell doing multiple interviews explaining why Logan Echolls had to die. It was to keep the noir-ness of Veronica Mars intact and that they couldn’t imagine writing more stories of her solving more mysteries while she had a boyfriend or husband waiting back home. BULL and SHIT.

You are telling me that they couldn’t have maybe had some team ups and him and Veronica solve some mysteries together? Fucking please. Rob Thomas’ explanation makes zero lick of sense and I think he just wrote Logan Echolls death just to be shocking because he probably realized that the rest of the season sucked and wanted to go out with a literal bang. If his death was hinted at throughout all 8 episodes and planned better, maybe it would’ve made sense. But there are literally little to no foreshadowing hints, until about 10 minutes before it happens. And the fact that Echolls gets blown up right after Veronica and him get married was just soap opera cliched drama bullshit. It’s all a farce. He is essentially saying that Veronica Mars can’t have a happy ending doing what she does. I don’t think that is necessarily true. I agree it has to be true for a character like Jack Bauer, who defends the country from terrorists and a whole other bunch of violence each season, but not Veronica Mars. I think Veronica can have a happy life and ending but also solve these noir-like mysteries. I think that maybe Rob Thomas has finally lost touch with one of his characters/franchises. It’s really sad.

It would’ve made more sense if maybe Enrico Colantoni exploded in the car instead of Logan, as the whole season pointed to him becoming too frail and absent minded to continue being a private investigator, but nope, at the end it reveals he was getting frail because of a bad combination of prescribed meds, but it’s all fixed and he’s perfectly okay. Then it should’ve/could’ve went boom, he gets killed in the car explosion anyway, fate claiming its final victim for the season as that grim fate was foreshadowed all season long. But nope, Rob Thomas doesn’t know how to connect the dots. It’s a Game of Thrones type shame. But as I was saying, Logan Echolls’ death wasn’t the worst thing to happen to the season, but it will be the only thing fans will painstakingly remember. What everyone should be focused on was that the main mystery narrative was overlong, stretched way too far out, boring, and predictable, ultimately leading to no one really wanting to ever revisit it again, and just stop at the end of the movie, and consider the story done.

Man, I make it sound like there was nothing good to come of this season. That’s not necessarily true. Before that final death, all of the character development was spot on from seasons past with that little lessons that they learned from previous interactions sneaking its way into their personalities. The dialogue is as original, crisp and witty as ever, making that and the character interactions the only things that made this season even watchable. The fan service was nice, seeing characters from the past show up in little tiny arcs/conclusions here and there (I won’t spoil those), I just wish that maybe Percy, who was Veronica’s right hand man in the first several seasons, had more to do, but his reason for not being in the game anymore are completely legit. Then you have new characters played by Patton Oswalt and the great J.K. Simmons, who I kind of felt were wasted given their talents, especially Simmons. Oswalt had a little more meat to his role, but his character, Penn, could’ve still been written better.

I can’t just be one to write off Season 4 as fan fiction and non canon. It happened. We wanted more Veronica Mars, and we got more, just not the more we were deserving or expecting. Maybe Rob Thomas can course correct if there is ever a Season 5 or another movie. And I don’t mean course correct by bringing Logan Echolls magically back to life, I mean go back to the basics: have one overarching mystery with little hints and bits of narrative development in each episode, but then each episode has its own self-contained case to solve. If it is a movie, have a non-cliched, cool kind of mysterious caper, like the first movie was but just make the sequel bigger and better. Basically: Make Veronica Mars Fun Again or Make Veronica Mars Mysterious Again, whatever your fan slogan might be, it’s probably the right one. This season was too gritty, predictable, and the narrative was fucking abysmally lazy. It wasn’t mysterious and it wasn’t fun. Those are the only two ingredients needed to make those sweet, sweet Marshmallows reappear for another course.