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Dirty Duck (1974)
Hey man, far out!
2 January 2020
Warning: Spoilers
Willard's life is going nowhere. He's stuck at an awful job as an insurance investigator with a pushy boss, and is always too nervous to ask the girl at the office he has a crush on out properly. But one fateful day when he meets a pimp at a bus, everything changes for him...

The only movie stranger than this I can think of right now is Begotten. This entry from the underground genre isn't perfect, but never unengaging and quite entertaining in its weirdness. The animation is crude, but it somehow fits it very well. There are lots of creative sequences such as the cop who can turn himself into a police car. Or is it the other way around? There are also some truly absurd representations of sex, none of which are erotic in any way but very humorous. As expected in the underground world, people get naked easily or are just walking around that way for no reason. For example, Eddie the duck rips Willard's clothes off at one point, and instead of finding a new set of clothes before going back to work, he just comes there naked. I find it amusing how his boss never comments on it in any way.

It's pretty hard to tell what the plot is, but I'll try to describe it. Willard's confidence is very low, but he sees an opening when a pimp convinces him to buy some dope from a dealer. He's also been sent on an assignment to check on the claim of an old woman who supposedly is dead. He meets "Good Duck" (whose real name is Eddie) and his mother, who has the claim. It turns out she's still alive, but she insists that she'll be killed by a wizard on this Tuesday. Oddly enough, when Willard grumpily wishes her dead, she dies of a heart attack right way. Her heritage says whoever kills her will be in charge of her son. Eddie's mad at him at first, but then decides to cheer him up and show what life is all about.

The poster kinda falsely midadvertises Eddie as a slick player when he's more of a goofball hippie who kinda bumbles his way through everything. Mark Volman's slacker-like voice suits him well and delivers in my opinion the funniest line in the movie ("Shut up, Yoko!"). Howard Kaylan also voices the protagonist Willard to enthusiastic effect, really getting across his massive insecurities and hormone-charged issues. The voice acting in general is pretty solid. The best one has to Robert Ridgely as the stuck-up police officer who is all about patriotism and *hates* ducks. Especially when they crap in his coffee! He's also hilarious as the overly ecstatic pimp who tries to sell Willard on the idea of weed. Cynthia Adler also does a good job as Willard's boss and one of the lesbians that he and Eddie meet.

The soundtrack is very groovy and fun to listen to.

Yet, for as much enjoyment you get out of the trippy sequences throughout, Dirty Duck still has its flaws.

For one, Willard is made almost *too* pathetic, to the point where it's hard to root for him at times. Even though he's supposed to be the underdog, his bizarre behavior is hard to justify at times. The movie also is supposed to be about his spiritual journey to becoming a more confident man who can turn his life around, but the scenes are so loosely strung together that this narrative gets lost in the process. And why did Eddie turn into a woman all of a sudden?

Dirty Duck is not as smart as Fritz The Cat or even The Nine Lives Of Fritz The Cat, and is pretty homophobic and racist at times, but if you just want to kick back and get immersed in a surreal experience, this might just be your jam.
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Very uneven
24 December 2019
Santa is feeling burned out and less people than ever believe in Santa Claus. It doesn't look like Yule is going to be very bright, and if more people don't start believing in Santa soon the Light Lantern will go out and the evil Christmas Goat will come to life...

Panik i tomteverkstan isn't the worst calendar ever, but it's not very good either. There are some aspects about it that work, and others that don't.

The acting is very mixed, but some of the better performances come from those who play the members of the Santa Order plus grandpa and grandma. They never play it up too much and manage to convey some humor and charm in their characters, most of all Helge Skoog. I've always liked him as an actor, so it's nice to see him here. Per Andersson, although his character's annoying at times, he does a good job as Santa Julius and appears to enjoy himself. And when the script allows him to, he can actually be quite funny. Leif Andrée is also solid as Snowman, and is usually the only one who makes the cheap puns work. Victor Beer who I looked forward to seeing unfortunately doesn't appear that much, but he makes the most of the screentime he's given.

Where the calendar fails the most is in the story. While the storyline itself is not so bad, it progresses at a snail's pace. It got so boring eventually that I decided to skip a few episodes. When I started watching again it had only just *barely* moved forward. Not to mention the extremely predictable plot twists. For example they introduce a character who's so suspiciously goody-goody (right down to the very name, Danielle Lama) that it's way too obvious she'll turn out to be evil. And what do you know, she is! There's also one part of the plot which has the opposite problem, which is the homeless guy meant to take over Julius duties. His jealousy over the new Santa and scheming to have him removed could have been interesting, but they rush it through and drop it after only two episodes. I much preferred it over the boring and drawn out plotline of life coach Danielle Lama taking over the workshop.

The comedy, whenever it fails (and it often does) is really painful. They use so many puns in every episode that eventually they start running out of them and repeat the same ones over and over again. There is also this "hilarious" running gag where someone farts and anyone present around the person start complaining about the awful smell. There's also a scene where Julius blows his nose and a lot of gross snot start coming out of it. I also hate that sometimes when a joke is mildly funny it's ruined by someone overexplaining it. I know kids are part of the main target audience, but that doesn't mean you have to insult their intelligence. The jokes are so simple they don't demand explaining.

The acting from most is good or at least tolerable, but some of it is cringeworthy. Worst of all is Pernilla Wahlgren as Mrs. Claus Julia. She was definitely BADLY miscast. She doesn't provide any warmth and homely charm at all, instead she's shrill and annoying. The worst is whenever she's the one who makes puns, overemphasizing them to an unneccessary degree. Elis Nyström is also very bad as the son Julle. With child actors you have to give them extra considerate directing, especially if they're just starting out, since you learn to control your performance more as you get older. It's pretty apparent that the director just gave a thumbs up every time, no matter how terribly he delivered a line. Markoolio as the elf who repairs the sled is okay. It's not really his best role.

The main character Santa Julius is not the most likable protagonist. I know that's kind of the point, but when he's shown as becoming even more of an ass-hole when Danielle Lama starts manipulating him, he's not really that much worse than he already was before.

The episode quality is like a rollercoaster. In the beginning it's decent, then for a while it becomes really shi'tty, and for the last few it's okay. It never reaches an exceptional level of quality however. Even in the best there are still a few issues that permeates it.

While not as not frequently horrible as the last two calendars, it's hardly a classic.
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The X-Files: My Struggle IV (2018)
Season 11, Episode 10
Bizarre series finale
13 December 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Mulder and Scully make a final attempt to find William before the government agents or worse, Cigarette Smoking Man does so first. The alien virus is also still spreading throughout the country.

Probably the biggest redeeming factor here is the acting. Even though they get some questionable material to work with, David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi and William B. Davis are still as sharp as ever. If nothing else, it's nice to see them play these characters for the last time.

But out of all the mythology episodes I've seen, this time rushes things through like no other. Information is given at the quickest possible time, there's an endless amount of action sequences and events that should be given room to breathe are completely brushed over. I thought the scene where Mulder just killed five people at once was really weird. Sure he's sometimes had to kill someone out of absolute necessity, but he was never just an unflinching assassin.

I'll only mention the alien virus epidemic briefly, because there's really not much to talk about. Scully calls Tad O'Malley and gives him new important info about the virus, which he writes into his show. And then... it's never followed up on. Did the virus stop? Is it still spreading? I guess we'll never find out!

William is much more of a caricature here than in Ghouli. In that episode he was a frightened young child who just wanted to be left alone since he's afraid of what he might do. But here we have a scene where he rides with a truck driver and he turns into a monster just to impress him. I thought he wanted to *avoid* using his powers, why would he use them when it's not even neccessary? He also gets a lot of clichéd teen angsty dialogue such as "You don't understand" and "You're not helping. You're leading them to me." He tells one of the girls he's friends with he's tired of running, yet when Mulder wants to help him he doesn't even give him a chance and runs away from him anyway?

Skinner's role was pretty much useless. CSM tells him to give him William, which he doesn't want to do. Fair enough. Then he decides to help Scully find Mulder and William, but then bumps into CSM and Monica. He shoots Monica, then gets run over by a car. That's literally it. Our beloved Walter Skinner gets unceremoniously run over by a car, and then immediately it cuts back to a chase scene. He deserved much, much more than that.

Speaking of Monica, her entire storyline during season 10 and 11 has made no sense at all. Although she bugged me at times, she was nice person in 8 and 9 who cared deeply about Doggett, Mulder and Scully. Hell, she even helped Scully give birth to her child. Then in the season 10 premiere she's suddenly turned evil, and you keep waiting for an explanation as to why. But it never comes. And she too gets killed off very undramatically.

But the final dagger comes with the ending. Scully thinks she finds Mulder, but it turns out to be William in disguise telling her to leave it alone. When Mulder enters the Old Sugar Factory, he runs away. He continues chasing William, but CSM shoots him before he can make it in time. Angry at him for shooting his son (even though it's technically CSM's son, but I hated that reveal already in the season 11 premiere, so won't go over that), Mulder fires several bullets at CSM, who drops dead into the water. Or so we assume at least, we all know that damn Smoking Man is invincible.

Now, here's what I really, really hate: Because they couldn't save William from Cigarette Smoking Man's wrath, Scully tells Mulder he's not really their son and "wasn't meant to be". This is really poor and out-of-character writing. Scully cared about William more than anyone else in the whole world. That's why she regretted giving him up for adoption, she started questioning whether he really was safe or not. She should be shaking, crying at the thought of never getting him back.

The following twist that Mulder has gotten her pregnant (yes, it's actually his child this time) could have potentionally been sweet, but the dialogue is so poorly written that it doesn't resonate with me.

"That's impossible." "I know. I know it is. It's more than impossible."

What does she have to speak in codes for? It's really not that hard to just say "Mulder, I'm carrying your child." She makes it sound like she got pregnant by some invisible force.

And let's not even talk about the incredibly eyerollworthy final shot where William turns out to still be alive, rising up from the water like a swamp monster.

In the end, I'm not sure what makes me sadder. The fact that I've finished the entire series and will never get to see my favorite FBI agents again, or that they got such a poor and inconclusive ending. Even though the season 9 finale didn't answer all questions, it had a lot of sweet moments between them and felt like a love letter to all the loyal fans sticking with it all these years.

I recommend watching the bonus feature where David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson interview each other about the last year. It's pretty cute and leaves you with a warmer feeling than this episode.
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The X-Files: Rm9sbG93ZXJz (2018)
Season 11, Episode 7
Don't forget to leave a tip
11 December 2019
Warning: Spoilers
In some sort of alternate reality, Mulder and Scully go to a virtual resturant to eat. Everything they order is handled by computers. The food isn't best, but still makes for a fun date. After Mulder upsets some robots however, both of them are in danger.

This is easily my favorite episode of the two revival seasons. The visual style, with gorgeous hues of blue and a strange world where everything is ruled by technology and robots is both frightening and fascinating. The drones that hunt Mulder and Scully look very creepy, with their intimidating bright eyes. Even the smiley bus driver that traps Scully and drives at maximum speed is unsettling. I like that all the drones banded together look like a swarm of fireflies.

The "monster" this week is not a mutated being or government official of any sort, it's the devices that humans themselves have created. This is not the first time that a robot has been a villain, but previously it's always been just one. The cat-and-mouse game Mulder and Scully play with their unfriendly robots makes it very suspenseful.

I love the intensity of the scene where the electrically charged objects inside Scully's home start retaliating against her. I find it interesting by the way how vast and fancy her house looks in this episode. Mulder even pokes fun at this by asking "How come your house is so much nicer than mine?"

Yes, despite how tension-filled Rm9 is, it's also highly comedic. Mulder getting a blobfish for dinner, the fact that he and Scully are in trouble just because he didn't want to leave a tip, Scully's angry reaction to the uncomfortable taxi ride, even the resturant menu going "Yum" every time someone makes a selection is amusing.

Both season 10 and 11 have their gems, but the latter showed a little more spark in the old X-Files engine. And this is as great as the show gets.
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BoJack Horseman: A Horse Walks into a Rehab (2019)
Season 6, Episode 1
End of the rope
10 December 2019
Warning: Spoilers
After finally being coaxed into checking in at rehab by Diane, BoJack begins his therapy. But he doesn't get off to the best start. At first he finds it extremely boring, lifeless and barely even makes an effort to engage in any of the actitives. Then after he realizes this is the same rehab Sarah Lynn spent time at, he tries to form a more positive attitude. Yet he still seems to avoid talking about his problems. After unintentionally helping a patient escape, BoJack feels responsible to go with her, not wanting the same thing to happen with her as with Sarah Lynn.

This was a very attention-grabbing season premiere. We first get the police investigation after Sarah Lynn is found dead, and a cop asks BoJack about what happened, which of course he lies about and tells him he found her dead when he got there. I've got an eerie feeling this old case won't rest for that much longer.

The scenes at the rehab center were interesting, not to mention very funny. BoJack's habit of going off on random tangents of course is a hindrance for him to talk about any of his issues seriously. One thing that stood out to me is how closely the part at the rehab where he roasts everyone mirrors the flashback at the party where he makes fun of his party guests. In both instances he goes too far and hurts someone personally.

Unlike That's Too Much, Man!, nothing bad actually happens when he goes with Jameson on her venture. Instead of passively tagging along having some drinks along the way, he does his very best not to have any alcohol at all and begs her not to drink either. That doesn't mean he's not tempted, but he's learned how to hold back. For now at least. Yet what we get is very fascinating. Every time BoJack sees a bottle in his sight, he starts thinking back on all the times he drunk alcohol as young. At first we see an assistant egging him to drink to better perform a scene in Horsin' Around, so it's easy to assume that peer pressure to perform better is the reason he started. But as it goes further and further back, you start to realize the therapist back at the rehab was right. The drinking problem really isn't his fault. The part where he takes a sip from a vodka bottle and then happily falls asleep in his mother's lap is a sweet moment contrasted with a very dark image.

When it comes to Jameson, you first get a picture of her having a similiarly troubled upbringing, where her father cares more about his movie memorabilia than her. As it turns out however, that isn't the case at all. Instead, he cares deeply about her and is worried that she's never gonna get better. He's even forced to take care of her new baby since she can't do it herself. She lies about the cause of her drinking and refuses to deal with her own problems. BoJack even catches her trying to sneak a bottle back into the rehab when he urges her to go back there. It reflects his younger self in a lot of ways, where he refused to deal with his own problems and would rather drink all his pain away.

At the end, BoJack stares at the vodka-filled water bottle he confiscated from Jameson. Can he finally find enough strength to pull through and save himself from self-destruction or is he dangerously close to relapsing? I know one thing for sure. I can't wait to find out.
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Family Guy: Shanksgiving (2019)
Season 18, Episode 8
Lump monkeys!
26 November 2019
Warning: Spoilers
When Peter is given some daunting tasks by Lois, he decides to get himself and his friends arrested so they can just kick back for a few days without any stress. To their surprise however, they get sent right to prison instead...

Okay, so maybe this plot is a bit similiar to Cool Hand Peter. That doesn't mean it's bad however. I found quite a few laughs throughout this one.

The advertisements for a bunch of generic-looking sitcoms made me chuckle, especially when they all merged together at the end, with one of the characters randomly shouting the name of his show. "LUMP MONKEYS!" The cutaway with Peter and Chris trying to move each side of a table made me laugh once Peter takes up a bottle of vodka and starts making sarcastic comments towards Chris. Chris getting just as annoyed and drinking vodka himself when Brian comes in and points out the obvious problem was a great punchline.

Another highlight is Quagmire telling the guys what he does at Thanksgiving. He asks all the blowup dolls seated around they table if they would like some coffee, then finally Ida at the end. Ida's response when she's asked might be the funniest line in the whole episode.

Joe's Thanksgiving is also really funny. He's annoyed that the husband of Bonnie's sister always acts like such a braggart, when all he does is prolong Joe's name to "Joseph". It has a clever callback too when Joe reveals to Peter that he dressed up as Chris once. Bonnie's sister's husband visiting again and calling Chris "Christopher" made me laugh. It's almost like he knew already it was Joe under there.

Peter and the guys trying to make it in prison has some fun stuff. Quagmire joining a Latino gang, Cleveland first trying out a muslim gang only to realize they don't drink then dressing up as Roman E. Israel for some reason, and Joe being in a gang of "not-cops" all made for some good laughs. That they all start stabbing each other due to gang regulations is perfectly ridiculous. Well, except for Cleveland. He's just tired of Not-Cop member Joe's overt racism against him.

At the start of the subplot, Stewie and Brian have a funny scene when they start having a pun-filled conversation about "Kal Penn's pen pal". Stewie then breaking out into song singing about Kal Penn is priceless.

As for flaws, outside of that aforementioned scene the B-story with Stewie romancing a prisoner really isn't that interesting. They don't spend enough time on it to develop into something interesting, and the final joke with Stewie and the prisoner dancing at the prom was a pretty weak one to end on.

The main plot mostly works, but drags when Peter talks with a gang member who wants him to shank Cleveland, plus ends in a very predictable way with Peter having a speech about how you should spend quality time with your family instead of trying to avoid them. Him and his friends getting out of there thanks to a prisoner dressed up as the warden was also an anticlimactic solution.

Besides those things, this was a very good Thanksgiving-themed entry. It's not quite as great as Turkey Guys, but certainly entertaining. Happy Thanksgiving, pilgrims!
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Happy Days: R.O.T.C. (1974)
Season 2, Episode 5
Richie's demons
9 November 2019
After the initial squad leader is fired, Richie is put in charge of his ROTC group instead. He's not too thrilled with the opportunity, not knowing how to keep his men in check.

There are times where you feel bad for Richie, and then there are times where you feel *really* bad for Richie. You can feel his discomfort throughout the entire episode being in this position of power. It's hard enough to be a boss at all, even harder when those you're a boss of are your friends. Ron Howard gives a very outstanding performance here, portrayed Richie's conflict very well. When he's being too nice his friends take advantage of him, when he's being too harsh they make mutiny. Hell, even Fonzie turns away from him when he reveals he felt forced to report his friends when they didn't shape up.

This all makes it sound like a rather dramatic affair, but there is still lots of comedy to lighten it up. Marion cheekily poking fun at Howard for his weight, Fonzie getting the waitress to correct his order only to realize there's still not enough ice in the drink, not to mention the wildly absurd nightmare Richie has. This is one of the weirdest scenes I've seen in a Happy Days episode, but feels completely line with his guilt-stricken Richie is when he feels mentally tortured by his decisions. The funniest part is when everyone transforms into a judge giving him a sentence, even Richie himself. Howard tells his son to make the men love him while the commander who gave Richie the job told him to make them hate him. Howard's reaction when the commander says "they hate him" (assuming that's what made them listen to him) is priceless.

The scenes of Richie getting ridiculed by then alienated his friends are very hard to watch, but they do gain his sympathy in the end when they realize how heavy the weight has been on his shoulders. He successfully leads his squad in the end (at least until they hit the sprinkler system and are soaked in water), just being good ol' himself instead.

When Richie quits as commander and it gets handed over to Potsie instead, he and Ralph seem to give him the same kind of treatment, though Potsie's smile indicates that he knows it's tongue-in-cheek this time.

Howard gives a good lesson near the end where he says it doesn't matter if you're a perfect leader or not, just as long as you give it your best.
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31 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
After Mr. Krabs complains about his bad back after sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress, SpongeBob, Patrick and Squidward throw it out and give him a new one. To their surprise, he's not too happy about these news.

There are many great bits throughout. Patrick thinking long and hard about how many mattresses are at a place, clearly surrounded by thousands, and coming with 10 is a classic simple joke. Mr. Krabs revealing he doesn't know what a bank is when he yells at his employees (as well as Patrick) for losing his mattress is so profoundly absurd it's hysterical. When the trio is sent on a mission to retrieve the mattress, I like how Squidward tries to trick SpongeBob and Patrick into endangering themselves only for the monster to go after him instead. But best of all is the running gag at the hospital where the doctors constantly keep moving Mr. Krabs due to being an inconvenience in one way or another, finally pushing him over a hill. What makes it especially funny is the groan he utters every time.

Krabs Vs. Plankton is just as entertaining. This one gets overlooked compared to Lost Mattress, but I really love the story for it. It's easily one of Plankton's most clever schemes. The entire court scene is comedic gold from start to finish, with Plankton overexaggerating his (nonexistent) pain to every degree, and telling a phoney sob story. SpongeBob having an emotional reaction to it is great. Speaking of SpongeBob, it was a lot of fun seeing him act as a lawyer, and taking the job dead seriously at that. Even if it involves interrogating a mop. Once he finally manages to open the briefcase with incriminating evidence (which by the way has some quite rollicking visual humor) to use against Plankton, he's surprisingly sharp. He figures out right away if he just puts it close enough to him and talks about how juicy it is, Plankton will confess to just wanting the secret formula. SpongeBoy isn't as dumb as he looks.

This is one mattress you don't want to lose. And if you do, I'll take you to court over it.
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Even sponges can get sick of Krabby Patties.
23 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
After Mr. Krabs sees that The Chum Bucket plans to be open 23 hours a day, he decides to top it by making The Krusty Krab stay open 24/7. It turns out to be one of Plankton's usual tricks though ti make SpongeBob so mentally exhausted he'll give him the Krabby Patty formula...

Fear Of A Krabby Patty is amazing. SpongeBob pinching himself repeatedly to "make sure" he's not dreaming, Squidward having bags upon bags under his eyes and SpongeBob continuing to imagine Mr. Krabs as a giant Krabby Patty are all hilarious bits. There is also the montage of the Krusty Krab employees getting more and more tired after being forced to keep at it for as long as they can. Old Man Jenkins' confusion over being there all of a sudden and floating away especially was funny. The highlight is when Plankton acts as SpongeBob's psychiatrist P. Lankton (the fact that Krabs gets fooled by such a similiar name is incredible) to "cure" him of his fear, meaning forcing the formula out of him. There's a wonderfully strange joke where first SpongeBob gets a piano out of nowhere to smash Plankton with after his paranoia gets the bettee of him, then when he rearranges all the cards he's been given he makes a piano out of them. The fact that it just tips over by itself is the best part. He's cured when he falls asleep and one of the patties he's been fearing so much is friendly towards him. There's an amusing reference to E.T. when the patty says he'll always be here... in his arteries.

I can't leave without talking about the excellent animation. It looks different from any other episode, neither like the newer ones nor completely like the older ones. It has a style of its own. The facial expressions alone makes this segment really funny, such as SpongeBob's excitement over having to work at Krusty Krab all the time.

Shell Of A Man has Mr. Krabs coming out of his shell... quite literally. He's getting so fat he can't fit in it anymore and feels too embarrassed to go on the reunion. When SpongeBob tries it on however, he gets the idea to make SpongeBob act like him in front of his navy peers.

The premise holds some great promise, and it certainly delivers. Krabs' annoyance at SpongeBob impersonating him a little too well already gets it off to an humorous start, and it gets even more comical when he has to show himself as tough as possible at the reunion, even if it breaks him. The acceptance speech he holds after receiving a prize pocal is hysterical. Even as good at impersonating as he is, he just can't refrain himself from talking about bubbles and jellyfishing. When Krabs finally admits to conning everybody out of shame, they all start revealing their own hidden flaws. They admire him for telling them he's not perfect. I like how even though he's now on the same level as them, he still feels superior at the end since his shell will grow back. Unlike his navy pals who can't fix their problems as easily.

This episode proves while the show did decline, it didn't happen as quickly as many people say. Fear Of A Krabby Patty is surreal cleverness at its best, and Shell Of A Man does remind me a bit of Mid-Life Crustacean, but still stands out as a great and actually kinda sweet segment since Mr. Krabs and SpongeBob feel like friends rather than boss and loyal employee.

Terrific premiere to season 4.
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Family Guy: Disney's the Reboot (2019)
Season 18, Episode 4
Everyone loves H. Jon Benjamin, right?
21 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
After the network considers rebooting Family Guy, a focus group as well as Peter and his family get to watch different versions of the show. Will any of them be good enough for a reboot?

This is easily one of the most inspired spoof episodes. Every single parody had me laughing, some harder than others. The first one we get a look at is "Lois", an Ally McBeal-type sitcom centering around, as you can tell, Lois Griffin. From Quagmire and Joe as a gay couple, the rival who keeps adjusting his tie with a smirk on his face to the continous mask reveal at the end when Peter steps in helping his wife get the job, every joke and sitcom trope are integrated perfectly.

The second is my favorite of the bunch, a parody of Riverdale starring Chris, Ruth, Patty, Neil and Brian as the mopey teens. The unconventional pair-ups alone makes it interesting. How often do you ever see Ruth and Patty without Meg around? I thought giving Neil a deep voice was a nice touch, and made it all the more funnier. It was hilarious seeing most of the characters having buff or slim perfect bodies, especially Brian. It gets really absurd later on, suddenly turning to a Teen Wolf then superhero movie parody, but instead of feeling disjointed it only adds to the entertainment value. The "gender fluid" wordplay in one scene was gross, but priceless.

Speaking of odd pairings, it can't get any weirder than a Chris spin-off where he's now married to Tricia Takanawa. Well, if there ever were any Chricia shippers out there I guess you got your wish. I liked how any time Chris had to make a decision, Tricia made it easier for him by reminding him she's a hot Asian. The shots of the slippers and then Joe getting thrown out the window really got to me.

After that, you get every kind of crazy reboot idea you can think of, such as Family Guy being a dark serialized show (which some genuinely seem to want, believe it or not), Peter Griffin as BoJack Horseman (Yes, it looks just as screwed up as it sounds like) and a stand-up special with setups but no punchlines. The best one has to be H. Jon Benjamin playing every character except Jerome. Of course this is followed up by an audience member of the focus group voiced by Benjamin complaining about the fact that one of them wasn't voiced by him.

As for negatives, the only one I have is that I'm a little mixed on the reference to that interview where some of the show's writers claimed they were "phasing out" the gay jokes. I always thought that interview was stupid, and don't understand what they're doing working at a show where no one is free from being made fun of. Nevertheless, I guess this proves at least they didn't speak for everyone.

Where was I? Oh yeah, in the end Family Guy goes back to being the show it's always been. Except Joe is in it more. Now *that* I'm definitely all for.
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Family Guy: Absolutely Babulous (2019)
Season 18, Episode 3
Absolutely Babulous wins the participation price.
14 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Peter discovers that Babs has another side to her that's not too unlike him, but it causes a rift between her and Carter. Meanwhile, Stewie wants to win an actual trophy once he realizes all his other trophies were just for participating.

The main plot is basic but still pretty funny. Some of the jokes I liked include Peter rounding up his family when Stewie causes a fire and getting their names wrong, the fake-out of Carter walking into a bar with big tough boots only to turn out they are so big you can barely see the rest of him as well as both he and Peter knocking things down by accident pissing off the patrons.

Something the show has sometimes struggled with are the callback jokes, but this time there were two very successful ones. Herbert rescuing Chris from a burning building only to take him to his house was spoiled in the trailer though funny nevertheless. But Stewie's line when Herbert shows up out of nowhere in Carter and Babs house once again taking Chris with him, this time without even any need of rescuing made me laugh so hard it had me going for several seconds after it was over. The other one was Peter imagining he told a great joke only to have it revealed he just fell asleep and pissed himself. I suppose I should be annoyed since the second time it turned out he had slept during the whole episode's running time, but hey, at least this time the plot generally wrapped up much better. Plus Lois says to him afterwards she's glad Carter and Babs got back together, so maybe it did happen after all.

The subplot definitely didn't lack in laughs either. Just like Brian acting like a dog, Stewie acting like a baby is hilarious whenever they throw those kind of jokes in. His obliviousness to the family only pretending they like his mudpie, listening to Wheels On The Bus as a motivation song and his pretend game with Brian were all endearingly funny. Stewie preventing gravity from ever existing when he goes to fetch the Isaac Newton apple for his pie makes so little logical sense that it's gold. At the pie baking contest we get the return of the lovely Swedish baker Fjord as he makes more accidental dirty puns.

The cutaways all more or less hit the mark, the funniest ones being Peter's traumatic encounter with a perverted German müsli brand, the wedding with names all taken from 60's swing songs and the sly commentary on why Bar Mitzas supposedly make you a man when you're not legally allowed to do most things.

The only flaws I have is that I would have liked to see more development of Peter and Babs' friendship, since after the initial set-up we don't get much of it. For example, why not show Babs at the bar with Peter and the guys? The random musical number after Peter interrupts the Minister's Cat game was just weird.

Not much to complain about really. A nice arrangement of laughs throughout.
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The Quad squad
12 October 2019
Without the slightest bit of doubt, Shake invites the Mooninites (Ignignokt and Err) to come live with them. Frylock already doesn't like this idea, and his patience wears even thinner when he sees the bad influence they have on Meatwad.

Mayhem introduces my favorite side characters of the entire series: The Mooninites. I love the idea of a couple of aliens acting like rebellious teenagers, doing things like stealing television sets, smoking and flipping off people. Meatward trying to follow suit so he'll fit in adds an extra layer of comedy, since he's doing such a bad job at it. His idea of a "gnarly tattoo" is a clown riding a unicycle. And Shake as usual is way too trusting of strangers, letting the Mooninites do literally whatever they want, including ruining Frylock's computer (though he just as likely would do that himself eventually). Carl's annoyance with the two troublemakers makes for some great comedy too when he first complains about the message carved into his car and then gets hit by the Quad laser and vanishes.

Speaking of the Quad laser, the battle between Frylock and the Mooninites at the end is so geniusly anti-climactic, Frylock defeating their pathetic attack with ease. But hey, at least they got to flip him off all the way up in space. If he can see it, that is.

Only the first of the Mooninites' escapades, there would be several more hysterical ones to come.
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This is what people find scary?
9 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
27 years after the members of The Losers' Club defeated It, visions of the clown start popping up again. Mike Hanlon calls everyone up for a meeting to come up with a plan to defeat It once and for all.

Like the first movie, it starts off promising enough with the opening scene. Eddie and Adrian just want to have a nice day at the theme park, but are confronted by a couple of bullies who try to intimidate them. They get annoyed, but walk away from them. After they get cornered again however, Adrian starts mouthing off, going so far as to insult one of their haircuts. As you might expect, this doesn't end well. What makes this scene so much more impactful than any other in the whole movie is that it's the only one which feels real. The violence inflicted upon them just for their sexuality is very disturbing, and the tragedy is heightened when Adrian gets thrown off a bridge. It then finds him as well and eats him brutally, but the scariest part is the homophobic violence shown just before. Though it's still notable for being the *only* scene where any restraint is shown with the clown at all.

As you can tell, I'm already getting into my negatives. This movie was horrendous. As someone who wasn't even a fan of the first one, I would much rather watch that one again since it seemed to care about its characters at least. Which is something It: Chapter Two doesn't. If you're looking for good character development and interactions, look elsewhere. Instead it seems more interested in wasting its time on extremely obnoxious and laughably unscary jumpscares. I was laughing out of embarrassment every time the movie tried to be scary. Who did they think they were fooling? Fortune cookies cracking open Gremlins-style, one of them having an insect with a baby's head? A Paul Bunyon statue showing off its big scary teeth? A naked old lady with hanging tits? A hobo making out with your mother? These attempts at trying to spook you were so phony I couldn't tell if they were trying to be funny or not. There's one part which clearly was supposed to be intense, but for some weird god-damn reason they added comedic music to it. It completely ruins any sense of danger they tried to establish, and comes off as a cringeworthy way to make the audience laugh, since at the test screening everybody already laughed anyway.

The CGI effects work is as fake-looking as it gets. Honestly, I'm surprised a lot of it even got past the pre-production stage.

The dialogue is horrible. Instead of incorporating humor into the script naturally when it *fits*, every serious moment is ruined by a stupid one-liner. Richie especially deflated the tension all the time by either pointing out they are in trouble (as if we're too dumb to get it) or saying something goofy at the most inappropriate time. If they were going for a horror comedy it's too tonally inconsistent, not to mention most of the jokes are so lame anyway they're not funny. And when they try to be heartwarming it's so overdone and cliché that you keep rolling your eyes at the self help-esque quotes they keep spitting at you. I swear, there are maybe FIVE MONOLOGUES throughout, and they all sound exactly the same.

Even Beverly's dad, one of the few creepy things about the first, comes off as a joke in the few scenes he appears in. The way he sprays his daughter furiously with perfume is so absurd I couldn't take it seriously, not to mention the moment where Beverly's inside a bathroom filled with blood and he keeps chanting "COME TO DADDY". Just like everything else it's too over-the-top.

And for a clown as powerful as It, the way he gets defeated is absolutely pathetic. Forget fighting him to death, trick him in any way, or even the ritual Mike keeps going on about (which conveniently he "forgets" way too late it doesn't work). No, let's just call him a few hurtful words and he'll shrink to the size of a baby. I sh'it you not. The most evil and otherwordly clown alive is weakened by being called a regular circus clown. The scriptwriter really must have backed himself into a corner with this one.

The acting is mixed. Bill Hader is good (even though I find his character a bit annoying). Jessica Chastain gave a very earnest performance, and was probably the best out of the main cast. Isaiah Mustafa and James Ransone were all right. James McAvoy was a little off however, which was disappointing. His stuttering doesn't feel like it comes out naturally. Jaeden Martell as the kid version of Bill did it much more convincingly. Bill Skarsgård, and this might come as an unpopular opinion, was pretty hard to watch. To be fair the material he gets is ridiculous, but his line delivery was so exaggerated and goofy I wondered if he was trying to keep himself from cracking up or something.

Most of all however, I was bored to tears. With all the constant repetition of jumpscares and scenes dragging on and on, I kept asking my friend "How much do we have left?" since I could barely wait to leave the theater. No way in hell the merciless 2 hour and 48 minute run time is justified.

The biggest higlights are the cameos by Stephen King and Peter Bogdanovich. Skip this sorry excuse of a "horror" movie.
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Hell of an ending to season 3
9 October 2019
After SpongeBob is threatened by a litterer he got arrested, he looks after a bodyboard. Unfortunately, the one he finds is the strangler disguised.

SpongeBob Meets The Strangler is a masterpiece. It's kinda similiar to The Bully, except even more sadistic since the guy who's after SpongeBob wants to outright kill him. It sounds gruesome, but has the incredible twist of him unwittingly torturing the strangler with his stupidity. My favorite joke easily is him wearing spiked shoes for no reason at all and getting them stuck in his eyes... for 6 hours. I can't even imagine how horrible that must have been. Then there's the neverending string of parties as the strangler begs to be alone with SpongeBob and getting stalked by him as he still thinks he's his bodyguard. They really make him the most naive idiot ever, but that's the reason it's so great.

Pranks A Lot is really funny too. SpongeBob and Patrick take up pranking, and after scaring a guy with invisible spray, they start pretending they are ghosts. As usual with these kind of stories it's the reactions of the villagers that sells it. One that especially stands out is the montage of everyone screaming "Ghost!", except one guy who says "Toast!" instead oddly enough. They go really overboard scaring Mr. Krabs, going so far as to block all exits so he can't escape. The twist at the end where Krabs pretends he'll forget about the whole thing just to invite everyone to stare at them in the nude is a genius sadistic move.

Hillenburg would return for season 9, but as a finale to his original tenure it couldn't go out on a much stronger note.
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Family Guy: Bri-Da (2019)
Season 18, Episode 2
A lot funnier than the premiere, even though it does have its problems
8 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
After meeting her at the bar, Brian starts to realize he actually likes Ida and starts dating her. But Quagmire's not too happy about it. Peter, Joe, Quagmire and Cleveland strap on bodycams to capture their million-dollar ideas they come up with while drunk.

This episode is sort of a follow-up to the controversial Quagmire's Dad, addressing how awkward it's been between Brian and Ida since they slept together. I really liked this idea. I thought the funniest part was when Brian is so scared of anyone finding out they are dating that he takes her to space, just to have to push her away when a spaceship opposite of him is sighted. Generally, although Brian's sceptical of telling anyone at first, the scenes between them are cute. I think they could have gotten some mileage out of developing their relationship in more episodes. The Brian & Quagmire conflict I was a bit worried about, but I did laugh at Quagmire ranting about Night At The Museum, just because he talked about it like it was a huge Oscar winner.

The cutaways were all onpoint. The aforementioned space one, Waldo being found dead, Joe discovering the mean billboards (like in that Frances McDormand-led movie) and best of all, Peter as a mad scientist at work all made me chuckle.

As for the bodycam plot, the truck commercial was amusing (if a little overlong) and the stupid ideas Peter and the guys came up with were funny. I would liked if they included more of them, but what we got was still solid enough.

So the jokes are mostly good, and Brian and Ida dating is a nice idea, but there's one big detractor which at times hinders me from enjoying the episode. And that's Quagmire. While I'm used to his weird grudge with Brian seemingly never going away, I thought he was more annoying than usual this time. Ida urged him to try and get along with Brian, and all he does is scream at him. And then at the end, when he's done trying to appease Ida's wishes he gives her an ultimatum: "It's either YOU or HIM." Ida chooses her son since she loves him too much, but I think this was entirely the wrong choice. I thought the point of him accepting Ida's decision to transition in season 8 would mean he respects her other life choices too, but apparently not. Or, if Quagmire doesn't wise up, Ida should at least stand up against him and tell him she can date whoever the hell she wants to. It's too bad they made Quagmire win since Brian was characterized pretty decently, clearly dating Ida because he likes her, not to spite his nemesis.

Despite that ending, I still found myself enjoying Bri-Da, simply because the jokes were very good. And although their relationship didn't last sadly, I liked the chemistry between Brian and Ida.
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My Three Sons: Lady Engineer (1960)
Season 1, Episode 7
Steve the lovelorner
6 October 2019
Steve learns that he's going to work with a Dr. Johnson, and is surprised to learn she's a woman, though certainly not put off. As they start to work together he develops a crush on her, but doesn't know how to make her like him.

When we saw Steve in the pilot, he was very apprehensive and even scared of dating. But this episode proves to be a game changer as he thinks he might have found his next big love. I think Steve is positively adorable here, as we for the first time see him act really nervous around someone, and embarrass himself on one occasion when he tries to give his "business meeting" with Dorothy a romantic feel. Her quiet observation and his subsequent reaction when he discovers she's been watching the whole time is comedy gold. Though you also feel bad for Steve since he wanted the dinner to be special, but after she sees him he can no longer follow through with the romantic gesture and sits down to do paperwork with her.

On their last day before she has to go the airport we get a really cute scene where they're tired after working all night. Steve gets the idea of them going out late for lunch, and offers to drive. He has such a gut feeling that everything is going in the right direction and kisses her on the mouth. But instead of kissing back she just casually accepts it, maybe not sure how she should respond. It hints at an imbalance in their relationship, or maybe Dorothy not feeling ready to settle down with someone yet.

When she leaves an hour in advance instead of letting Steve drive her to the airport, you find yourself sympathizing with his hurt and disappointment. That someone he thought was "the one" doesn't seem to want anything more to do with him.

Mike and Robbie are up to their usual hijinks plugging and unplugging the dishwasher, and Bub is complaining about all the dirty laundry. It's a neccessary bit of levity to not let Steve's downfall weigh on you to much. But we do get a somewhat happy ending when Chip gives him a note with a message Dorothy left him written down, suggesting that maybe they'll cross paths again. It's a little bittersweet for me considering we never see Dorothy again, but is a pleasant ending to a very pleasant episode.
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Mork & Mindy: Dr. Morkenstein (1979)
Season 2, Episode 5
Unexpectedly emotional
4 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Feeling lonely working as a night guard, Mork gives a robot part of the exhibit (named Chuck) human emotions. When he learns he's getting dismantled next week, he agrees to take him out and experience what life is all about.

This starts off as your typical wacky Mork & Mindy episode. There's some humorous friendly banter between Mork and Chuck, and Mindy's skepticism and horror over having a giant robot live in the apartment is priceless. It's not helped by Chuck constantly throwing Mork across the living room by accident.

She does feel sorry for him when she hears about his oncoming fate, so she lets him stay as long as he gets a job. Mork gets the idea of making him an attraction at The New York Deli. But things get out of hand when he starts malfunctioning and insults people and answers questions incorrectly. This is where a complete tonal shift takes place, as Mork and Mindy are forced to realize he doesn't have enough mental capacity to survive in the outside world for much longer. He's taken back to the museum, and Mindy tells Mork to take out his circuits. Chuck insists however he'd rather die naturally. Robin Williams has one of the best acting moments of his entire career as he can't stand the sight of Chuck suffering, and feeling just as scared of losing him as Chuck is of dying. I was getting really choked up during this whole scene. Roddy McDowall does an equally amazing job voicing the robot, expressing its feelings with vigor and passion.

Even the report at the end is a lot bleaker than we're used to. Orson wonders why Mork can't just build a new friend, and he tells him it's hard to replace someone you've nurtured and had so close to you. But no matter what, Chuck will always be left in Mork's heart. It's a very touching and meaningful epilogue.
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Family Guy: Yacht Rocky (2019)
Season 18, Episode 1
Could have been much better than it was
3 October 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Most of this episode isn't that bad. For the first two acts the jokes are consistently funny. Peter being told to do what he usually does on a day at work, which includes talking trash about the boss right in front of him and commenting about wanting to bang his wife. Or Peter having random gay flashbacks when he thinks he's gonna die. The best joke however comes when Peter's family comes on the cruise unannounced and his friends beg Lois in a really over-the-top manner not to tell their wives or send any pictures. Donna breaking a glass box having the cliché "Friends who don't like your husband" was particularly funny.

Peter hearing about Bob Welch dying was amusing if only for the punchline where Stewie in the midst of everyone mourning asks who the fu''ck that even was. It wasn't as funny the other two times though.

The humor got more hit-and-miss when the ship started sinking, but I was intrigued to see how Peter's family and friends would get out of the danger they find themselves in.

Aaaaand... we never see it. We just cut to them back home and then we end on a completely random unfunny bit with Casey Kasem as a radio host. Why would you build up all that suspense just to pull the rug under the audience? It's not funny or clever, just makes you feel like the whole thing was pointless. Talk about wasting a great premise.

Chris' trying for a full minute to throw Meg's boyfriend's head and Cleveland talking about apples for no reason could have easily been cut out to advance the plot more and give it a real conclusion.

And finally, that shot of Bonnie cheating on Joe made me groan. All the jokes about Joe and Bonnie's failing marriage are just sad and depressing instead of funny.

In general, not terrible by any means, but a disappointing way to open the season.
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28 September 2019
Frylock gets a mysterious email telling him to "get to the damn park" to receive a pot of gold. Immediately suspicious, he decides to investigate where it comes from after Carl comes flying landing on his roof.

This is where Aqua Teen Hunger Force really settled into its groove. Shake becomes more threatening towards Meatwad, and just like Carl acts like a gullible idiot refusing to listen to Frylock's warning him not to follow the rainbow. Meatwad is endearingly cheery when he rambles on about how rainbows are a symbol of happiness. The dialogue is witty and appropriately silly, both with the trio and the bickering leprechaun, where one of them's only interested in collecting people's shoes. They also take another dig at the false pitch of this being a "detective show", where the evidence of the leprechauns being the muggers is clear as day, but Shake ignores it in favor of stealing a gold chain.

Carl gets the short end of the stick as usual. He gets thrown across the sky and hurts his back, the Aqua Teens are still using his pool, and once the leprechauns get the machine to work again, they take his house. His bad luck would be tragic if it wasn't so absurdly over-the-top, which is why it makes me laugh every time.

But the funniest part has to be when Shake dresses up Meatwad in fancy clothes in hopes of attracting women, coming up with incredibly unflattering pick-up lines. The meat dripping out of the jacket is a nice extra touch.
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Ad Astra (2019)
I'm alone.
21 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
After an electrical circuit malfunction threatens the entire planet, Roy McBride is sent on a space mission to Neptunus to possibly find his father, who went missing 29 years ago, and to put a stop to the problem. As you might've guessed, it's not exactly smooth sailing...

From the trailer, this looks like your typical gotta-save-the-planet sci-fi adventure. And there's nothing wrong with that of course. But in reality this is an intimate character journey, combined with some really beautiful visuals. Just like in Mandy, you're kind of put into a trance, where you just let the picture-esque quality absorb you. This is a case where the cinematographer deserves just as much credit as the director.

The cast is very strong, with great performances from veteran actors auch as Donald Sutherland and Tommy Lee Jones as well as Ruth Negga. But who the movie truly belongs to is Brad Pitt. It's extraordinary how you can go from the carefree Cliff Booth to the reserved and hurting Roy in the same year. The change from a distant to a much more personally involved and wounded person is portrayed in a very realistic manner. Roy finds he's got his own personal demons to deal with. His father always cared more about his work than establishing a meaningful relationship with his son. And Roy starts to realize he's becoming the same as him. He neglected his wife in favor of the mission, and is prepared to die without ever really living.

The confrontation between Roy and his dad is underwhelming on a scientific level. Clifford found nothing, didn't even come even close to what he was looking for. But that's exactly the point: sometimes we reach too far to find answers that might not be there. Roy tries to talk his dad into returning to earth with him, but Cliff isn't looking to be rescued. For him life on earth is practically meaningless at this point. How could he live with the shame of spending all this time searching for extraterrestial life and wind up with nothing? Roy's pain over losing his father is very emotionally captivating. He never got the reconciliation he wanted. But he learns an important lesson: always put personal happiness before everything else, or else you end up confused and lost.

There are a few things that drag it down for me though. For instance, the dialogue can be a little on-the-nose at times, with Pitt pointing out things that are already obvious to the audience. It's also left vague how Roy actually fixed the electrical circuit problem. I know it's not the *main* focus in the end, but still would've liked to see how he solved it. The fight scene between Brad Pitt and the alien was intense and well-orchestrated, though I'm not sure about the decision to make it look like an ape. Why would there be aliens on Mars that look like gorillas? Or did someone bring their pet onboard. I don't know, just struck me as odd.

If vast space landscapes coupled with character introspection sounds good to you, I highly recommend Ad Astra.
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Jeremy Jahns (2009– )
Like talking to your best friend about movies
18 September 2019
What I've always appreciated about Jeremy is how well he connects to the audience. Even though he's not talking to you directly, it still feels like he's communicating "This is what I think about this movie, what do you think?". It's always a comfort to see his reviews in your newsfeed, like starting the day with a nice cup of coffee.

Although I haven't always seen the thing he's reviewing, it's always interesting to hear his opinion. Sometimes they are very controversial, which he often makes fun of in a clever and tongue-in-cheek way. Especially when it comes to Marvel and DC movies. He's basically telling you not to take life so seriously. Sure we love movies, but is it worth fighting each other to death over?

His early videos are very different from the newer ones, in that he's more agressive and snarkier in his approach. While in the newer reviews he definitely dumps on a movie he doesn't like, but it's clear it doesn't sour his whole day. You gotta have the shit to really appreciate the sparkling toilet bowl. If you ask me, both versions of Jeremy are worthy of just as much respect. His review of Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen had me dying with laughter. It's so brilliantly mean in tone.

Anyway, my name's mattiasflgrtll6... and I'M NOT FUCKING AROUND!
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Laverne & Shirley: Squiggy in Love (1979)
Season 4, Episode 20
Squiggy finds love... or so he thinks.
14 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
It's hard not to feel some sort of sympathy for Lenny and Squiggy. Even though they're obviously sleazy and have little to no self-awareness of how poor their attempts to pick up girls are, you believe they deserve some sort of happiness as well.

Two episodes earlier we saw Lenny get his heart broken after he realized Laverne doesn't actually love him. This time Squiggy is the one who mistakenly thinks he's found love, though the siuation is a bit different.

Seeing everyone's shocked reactions every time Squiggy comes with good news about his new relationship and hearing Vivian brimming with enthusiasm every time she sees him is hilarious. I particularly love how they keep telling themselves it's none of their business, only to move the table closer and closer so they can hear what the two of them are saying. It's all a little too good to be true.

Shirley's eventually forced to confront her dear Squigman when he still can't see he's being emotionally manipulated for money. The revelation that he knew all along he was used but went along with it anyway because he's never been that lucky before to wind up with a beautiful woman is quite sad, and offers a rare break from his usually unwavering confidence. His mindset is "take all the luck you can get", but Shirl tries to convince him he can be only be lucky with someone who actually cares about him. As expected, he will hear none of it and presses on with Vivian anyway. Thankfully, when his friends all watch with worried looks as she tries to make him buy her a refrigerator, he finally has enough and tells her off. It makes me think of the ending to Hi, Neighbor: Book II where Squiggy yells at his date for ditching him, this time perhaps used to even better effect. I found myself cheering for Squiggy when reclaiming the little bit of dignity he has left. Everyone are happy that he stood up for himself, though it's quickly spoiled when he misunderstands Shirley's intention as she says he can buy her an ice cream. "Buy you an ice cream! You women are all the same!"

There's also a subplot about Shirley trying to re-ignite the spark in her relationship with Carmine when she hears how much fun Laverne and Ted Nelson are having together. The scene where Carmine brings some firewood so they can roast marshmallows contains some very funny awkward humor, with Shirley being too much of a stickler to appreciate the romantic gesture. But they do have a really nice time together later on, going out to a romantic place and... look at the stars. Laverne trying to conceal her disappointment when she hears it didn't lead to any necking is amusingly portrayed by Penny Marshall's slightly unsure smile. It has a great ending where Shirley gets reason to fret about how "boring" their relationship is again when Laverne runs home excitedly proclaiming she just rescued three kids from a burning building.
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Don't cry in front of the Mexicans.
23 August 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Rick Dalton is down in the dumps. Even though he's been a successful TV actor for some time now, he's tired of getting typecast in the same kind of role every time, the villain who gets his ass kicked. His stunt double Cliff Booth's career has fallen by the wayside as well, working with Rick but not getting any other work. While they're dealing with their personal problems the Manson cult is starting to gain traction.

This is a unique movie, even by Tarantino's standards. It harkens back to the dialogue-focused films in the vein of Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown, but it's quite different from those as well. While the stories are fun to watch, it's more strictly focused on character, both the people we are following and the 60's setting itself. The signs, classic posters, vintage stores, classic music and movie sets in their charming rough glory really transports you to a different time. It's not just a cute homage, he puts you right on the spot. The main arc is populated by Rick Dalton's dreams of becoming more than just a B-grade actor, feeling insecure with himself and feeling he's lost it. Leonardo Dicaprio brings a level of sincerity and admirable dedication to the role. Dalton is a starving artist. He's clearly got a lot of talent, but never gets a chance to fully utilize it. When he eventually even struggles to remember the simplest of lines, he loses it in what one of my favorite scenes in the movie. Yelling at himself in the mirror to lay off the alcohol and do the god-damn job an actor's supposed to do is hilarious and very relatable to anyone wanting to be taken seriously as an actor. Sometimes when I'm recording lines and I just keep doing takes of the same line over and over and over again I feel like I'm going insane. Is something wrong with me? When am I going to be good enough? Thankfully in this case, this results in Rick doing the best damn acting job he's done in his whole life. The scene with him as the mustached villain holding a little girl hostage threatening to cut her throat is legitimately intimidating. He finally found the confidence he needed to be truly great.

Cliff Booth's story is less structured and mostly consists of him pissing people off and showing everyone who's in charge. But that doesn't mean it's not a helluva lot of fun to watch. Bruce Lee being shown as a cocky little kid whose mouth is bigger than his fighting skills is pure gold. Mike Moh did a great job playing him. Cliff throwing Lee so hard he creates a buckle in Janet's car got a big laugh out of me. When Cliff drives the flirty hippie girl Pussycat to George Spahn's movie ranch, we get a very tenseful sequence. He doesn't really trust anyone there. People are staring out the windows, the "farm" looks more like a barren wasteland and Squeaky is so desperate to stop him from saying hello to George it's like she's holding him hostage. Cliff's meeting with George is short, but amusing. Bruce Dern gives a colorful portrayal of a senile and cranky old man who's been kept isolated from the world for God knows how long. He's happy someone came to visit him, even if his grouchy behavior indicates otherwise, but Cliff still leaves feeling frustrated and disappointed he's forced to live with all these weird-ass creeps. His irritation reaches its peak when a guy who looks like he hasn't showered in a year punctures one of his tires. The resulting impulse to come over and beat his face bloody over and over again is a well-placed sudden shock of violence. Since the movie has been pretty restrained up to this point, you don't expect Cliff to get so angry he will beat someone to the point where their face is disfigured. It's funny in a darkly humorous way.

The friendship between Rick and Cliff is also a huge factor into what makes the movie so enjoyable, and gives it a touch of heart. Apparently Dicaprio and Pitt became friends in real life during the production, and some of that definitely translates into many of the scenes. When they are watching Rick's part in a television show and commenting while they're doing so, it feels very natural and loose, how you'd really hear two friends converse while they're doing something together. It wouldn't surprise me if this is one of the parts that were improvised.

All right, let's talk about Sharon Tate. Margot Robbie's performance as Tate is adorable. Quentin Tarantino adored Sharon Tate, both as an actor and a person. And while I don't know her as much more than "That girl from Valley Of The Dolls!", I think he made me fall in love with her a little too. My favorite part is when she goes to a movie she's co-starring in in the theater, and finds it so exciting to watch herself and hear the audience behind her laugh. She can feel the admiration people have for her. I also love that her real-life fate was changed to something much more uplifting. Usually this would be a serious breach of historical accuracy, but is that really what you come to a Tarantino movie for? Her murder being prevented and Rick coming over for a friendly visit is the perfect conclusion you can give to her. She get to continue spreading joy and making people smile.

My favorite actor Al Pacino gets a few nice moments to shine, creating a very eccentric and funny personality in Marvin Schwarz. "Who's gonna beat the s'hit out of you next week? Mannix? The Man From U.N.C.L.E.? The *girl* from U.N.C.L.E.? How about Batman & Robin?" Unfortunately, and this is one of the few problems I have with the film, he's extremely underutilized. He only appears in a 3 minute long scene in the beginning, and at the halfway point or so he appears for a few more seconds. Maybe there's a lot that got cut out, but when I saw him in the trailer I thought he would be a major important character. Instead it's only just *barely* more than a cameo.

The pacing can be slow at times too. It never hurts the movie severely, but it feels a little directionless at points. This is only for short stretches though, most of the time I had a blast.

The final act does go all-out with the violence and mayhem, and does so with a touch of black humor. Cliff is so stoned that you think he's practically defenseless and an easy target for the Manson cult members, but then he suddenly starts stabbing people left and right and brutally beats Squeaky's face to a bloody pulp, even more so than the as'shole who damaged his left tire. His dog (which I haven't mentioned until now) gets in on the action as well and demolishes Tex's crotch to the point where it probably looks like an anorexic gerbil. Nothing is more satisfying however than when one of them disturbs Rick relaxing in his pool and he responds by bringing out the flamethrower from one of his movies. Rick's just as much of an action hero in real life as he is onscreen.

Even my friend who's not a fan of Tarantino found a lot to like in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. It's funny, it's nostalgic without ever feeling self-indulgent, and it's got one of the best acting duos I've seen this decade. I promise it'll be worth your dime.
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MADtv: Episode #1.1 (1995)
Season 1, Episode 1
In 15 minutes, Kato Kaelin will finally speak his mind.
20 August 2019
At the network's demands, we see two people scrambling together cast members at the very last minute, literally picking strangers up from the street. Of course, we all know they are anything but strangers in real life, especially now. Some of them would last for a good few years, others left after only two seasons.

When I saw this pilot for the first time, I knew there was something special about this show. The sketches range from amusing to making me cry with laughter. One particularly inspired one spoofs Forrest Gump and Pulp Fiction, and merges them together to Gump Fiction. Combining Forrest's charm and making him into a coldblooded killer is absolutely genius. Orlando Jones is just as funny playing Vincent Jules when he wants to know what shrimp is called in France but never getting an answer. The best part however has to be the incredibly dark but also funny recreation of the Kennedy assassination, with Forrest remarking he "was aiming for Jackie".

Other highlights include a fan getting demolished after a rough week with his favorite band Poison, an insanely rude and racist cashier at Vancom coming up with some of the funniest meanspirited insults I've heard, Star Trek: Deep Stain Nine and the chainsmoking mom whose daughter's gotten lung cancer. I want to talk a little more about that last one. The husky voice Mary Scheer puts on as the mom Mrs. Jewel Barone is hilarious, as well as her as complete naivety over how her daughter could have gotten lung cancer. The twist at the end when she gets mouth cancer instead since she kicked smoking in favor of chewing tobacco is the icing on the cake.

Kato Kaelin has an amusing guest appearance where he "speaks his mind". The intense buildup throughout the episode and deflating payoff when it turns out he doesn't have anything important to say at all except odd and peculiar observations makes it work especially well.

Per the spirit of the magazines, there are nice little animated shorts featuring Spy Vs. Spy and slapstick drawn in the style of Don Martin.

Two raving MAD thumbs up.
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Down, down, down... to the bottom of the sea...
7 August 2019
SpongeBob is excited to throw his first really big party. He's got tons of friends coming over and a whole list of fun planned. But his idea of fun is clearly different from the rest of them...

Season 3 is known for being where the specials really started taking place, containing a total of three. This is the first of them.

Maybe I'm in the minority, but I quite enjoy the Patchy the pirate segments. It's clear Tom Kenny has a blast playing the role. I thought the somewhat dark joke where he accidentally punctures the area filled with water the mermaid needs to be in to survive was pretty funny. Mistaking dynamite for a flute and practically blowing his body off was amusing too.

The story with SpongeBob throwing the party had its moments. Patrick mistaking Mr. Krabs for Patrick (yes, it really is that dumb), Larry looking at himself in the mirror which turns out to be an image of a real lobster, SpongeBob coming up with the utterly boring idea of reading a comic strip outloud and Patrick giving the phone to an ice sculpture of SpongeBob in a punch bowl. The song at the end was cool as well, with some interesting visual animation.

The reason why this is one of the weakest classic episodes however is that SpongeBob is unusually unlikable. It feels out-of-character for him to care more about his silly schedule than his friends having fun. It almost felt like the script was originally written for Squidward. Yet at the end when Patrick tells him the party was great, he's happy that they loved the party. But he could see that they were having fun before and tried to stop it anyway. It doesn't make a lot of sense, but oh well.

Despite these flaws, Party Pooper Pants is still enjoyable. It does break the streak of the 10 amazing opening episodes, but it doesn't lack in entertainment value. I would give it a 7.7/10.
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