Author: Justin

By this point you likely already know whether the comedy of Kimmy Schmidt tickles your funny bone or not, so you’re mostly wondering about this film’s big gimmick—choosing your own path. Yes, Kimmy Schmidt is finally delivering upon the promise of 90s interactive movies with a “choose your own adventure” story that they’re very careful never to call by that name, lest they be sued by the books’ publisher. The setup here isn’t all that important, but Kimmy (Ellie Kemper) discovers the titular Reverend (Jon Hamm) may have more women locked up in bunkers just like he did with her…

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Much has been made in recent years about comedy getting too safe and how the Mel Brooks satires such as Blazing Saddles couldn’t be made in today’s politically correct society. So, what are we to make of a film like Jojo Rabbit? Is it safe to make a film where a young German boy has Hitler as an imaginary friend? And yet, Jojo Rabbit feels entirely appropriate for our time. As noted, Jojo Rabbit tells the story of young Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) and his mom Rosie (Scarlett Johansson). Jojo is as devout a Nazi as any young boy can…

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Of all the love stories, perhaps the young love one is the most difficult to fully capture. Inherently, it is almost always told by someone much older. From the writer to the director to the actors, the people recounting young love are very rarely, well, young. Somewhere in those years the discovery, awkwardness, passion, and fear often get lost and what we really get is an adult romance set in a high school. The Half of It is that rare teen romance that captures so much of those lost elements. It tells the story of Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis), an…

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The buzziest show of coronavirus outbreak has been Tiger King on Netflix. Perhaps it’s fitting everyone is stuck at home surrounded by death outside watching a show about people stuck in a zoo surrounded by potential death at the jaws of tigers. But really, people just want to watch some wacky characters. Tiger King is about the big cat breeding and zoo industry, but it’s really the Joe Exotic show. Joe is a gay man will a mullet living in rural Oklahoma and taking care of over 100 big cats (lions, tigers, and bears—oh my) as part of his zoo.…

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TV

How do you revive characters we haven’t seen in nearly twenty years, from a show that itself is over thirty years old? By bringing back our central hero and setting him off on an entirely new quest. Captain Jean-Luc Picard is back, but this time without the safety and crew of the USS Enterprise. But is a new Picard what fans really want? We find Picard living at his vineyard back on earth, having traded in adventure for the mundane. Soon, however, a strange young woman comes in search of him and sets and him and a new crew off…

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I sat down to write something about the need to take care of one another during this mess. April Fool’s felt like the appropriate time for me of all people to pen something somber and serious. Only, as I got to writing, it progressively got too somber—too disheartening. Writers sometimes have to be careful what words they unleash upon the world, because truly it’s out of our control once we do. So, I’m going to pull back from quoting Jung and talking about the seriousness of this moment in time. I think the seriousness is self-evident for all by now—even…

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I must admit, knowing nothing about this film going in had me hoping it was a sequel to the 1984 Jeff Bridges film Starman. It is not. Still, it is about an unusual visitor who comes into the life of someone forever changing it. The titular Stargirl might not be from outer space, but then again maybe she is? In Stargirl our hero Leo (Graham Verchere) is leading a fairly forgettable life, or at least that’s what the film tells us. Leo has friends, is in band, helps produce a talk show at his high school, and has a loving…

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If you were a kid in the 80s there’s a good chance you read (or were too scared to read) the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series. Hollywood has dragged its feet, but it finally has attempted to adapt a book of short stories into a coherent film. While the writers deserve credit for that feat, the problem is the result isn’t very good. It’s Halloween night and a group of kids out pulling pranks on the local bully (this is a weird setup) take refuge in the local haunted house. You see, this is the kind of…

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TV

Locke & Key is based on a comic book series, but I couldn’t help from the start thinking about the 80s horror flick House II: The Second Story. Both are about haunted houses with doors that can take you to bizarre other places, and both are more comedic, dark fantasies than the horror their trappings might imply. But while I adore House II, I found Locke & Key more of a muddled mess. It’s the story of the Locke family moving in to Keyhouse (clever, though it should probably go the other way, right?). The father has recently been killed…

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TV

Over the years, I’ve been very clear on my evolving love for this show about a washed-up acting horse. While BoJack starts slow in its first season, it quickly reveals itself not just as the smartest show on television today, but one of the smartest ever. Its depictions of addiction, grief, depression, and other issues are among the most nuanced television has ever seen. Here, in its final season, the show is still swinging big and goes out how so few classics manage—on top. The sixth season chronicles BoJack from rehab. to a teaching position. to his entire life falling…

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