Aqua Teen Hunger Force and all the images you see in this editorial are the property of Adult Swim
If you were growing up right at the turn of the millennium, Cartoon Network was probably as influential to you and your taste in entertainment as YouTube is to everyone else nowadays. The ingenious thing about that network is how seamlessly it managed to keep its audience intact for YEARS after you’d think they’d drop off simply for having such good transitional programming for those who were getting older. It started with Toonami which brought anime and somewhat serious drama for those who were getting tired of silly stuff that the likes of Gendy Tartakovsky, Craig McCracken, and Maxwell Atoms were churning out (not to say those shows weren’t substantive; just that tweens aren’t exactly looking to those kind of shows to feel grown up), and then it led seamlessly to Adult Swim which had the naughty shows on that you craved when you were getting old enough to stay up that late. The greatness of Adult Swim and its monumental effect on animation really cannot be underestimated, and while it’s shine has faded somewhat in recent years, we’re gonna reach a point where it’ll end up with a whole generation of animators inspired by those shows the same way that many of the creators OF those shows were inspired by Warner Bros, the Fleischers, or even Ralph Bakshi. I really could go on about Adult Swim and so many of its shows, but today we’re talking about probably its most enduring creatin; Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Now sure it wasn’t among the FIRST run of series for Adult Swim (it’s somewhat a spinoff of Space Ghost Coast to Coast), it’s one of the shows that gave the programming block its identity and made it a cultural phenomenon. In fact, it’s such a massive series with so many great episodes under its belt that I couldn’t simply make a list of the ten best episodes of the series! No, I had to do TWENTY, and we’re gonna start with the first half that list right now!!
20) Bible Fruit – S5 E9
Frylock makes some new friends online and invites them over to the Aqua Teen house. When they arrive however, he is surprised to learn that not only are they fruits but that they have a dark past that they are trying (and failing) to overcome.
What better way to start this off than with the most disturbing fruit since those Claymation California Raisins? In an episode that’s actually quite ahead of its time considering Sausage Party wouldn’t come out for another eight years, this hilarious and often unsettling episode looks at three fruits compensating for their problems with drugs and alcohol by having faith in a higher power. Now the big guest star here is David Cross (along with Kristen Schaal and H Jon Benjamin) under the pseudonym Sir Willups Brightsly Moore who previously had a guest spot all the way back in season one as Happy Time Harry in the episode Dumber Dolls. While that episode is really good and was just barely cut from this list, I feel that Cross’s performance as Bert Banana in this one is by far the better of the two. He may have done a great job as that sad and useless piece of shit Happy Time Harry in Dumber Dolls, but the character didn’t have much depth to him and so Cross’s performance is somewhat one note. Here, he’s given SO much more material to work with as someone TRYING to hold it together but is quick to succumb to his worst instincts. Now I’m not sure if Cross himself has a history of alcohol dependence (his first book is called I Drink for a Reason which may just be titled that way for a goof), but his feelings on religion have been made VERY clear in his standup comedy and it almost feels like the role was written with him in mind because of that. It may not be for everyone as making light of people with SERIOUS addition is not the kind of humor that everyone can enjoy, but it’s easily one of the best episodes with a prominent guest star and manages to find that right balance between tragedy and hilarity.
Sonic the Hedgehog and all the images you see in this recap are owned by Archie Comics and Sega of America
We’re back with another look at the comic books that came out right around the time that Sonic Mania is so DESPERATELY trying to recreate! Now if the NEXT Sonic Mania introduced the Freedom Fighters, you might just hit MY nostalgic sweet spot as well, so get on that SEGA!! Anyway, let’s go ahead and make this recent resurgence of Classic Sonic complete with a look at two more issues of the comic!!
Issue 10 – (May 1994)
The issue begins with Sonic doing something that’s actually pretty awesome and is a very useful application of his speed; namely, detonating land mines placed by Robotnik’s robo-minions.
Ingrid Goes West and all the images you see in this review are owned by Neon
Directed by Matt Spicer
Everyone likes Aubrey Plaza, right? I mean sure, she played Grumpy Cat that one time… and she was in Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates… but even those can’t take away from her amazing work in Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Parks and Recreation, even stuff like Legion which I haven’t seen yet but have heard good things about. Though, she doesn’t have to push it with stuff like Dirty Grandpa. Anyway, this film seems to be quite a departure for her, at least as far as the stuff I’ve seen, and seems reminiscent of stuff like The Cable Guy or One Hour Photo where you take a famous comedian and have them go SO far against type that it’s practically the key selling point of the movie. It’s not ALWAYS a winning formula, but it can at least make for an interesting movie which this certainly looks to be at the very least! Does Aubrey Plaza have what it takes to branch out of her comfort zone and blow us all away in a completely different genre, or are we stuck watching the same old shtick over and over again to diminishing results? Let’s find out!!
Ingrid Thorburn (Aubrey Plaza) has had it rough as of late. Not only did her mother just die, but her best friend had a wedding and didn’t even bother to invite her! Okay, TECHNICALLY they were FACEBOOK friends and her way of handling the situation wasn’t the BEST show judgement (mace is usually not the best tool when trying to express your disappointment in someone), but hey! She got some help at a nearby hospital and she even got a decent amount of money from her mother’s insurance policy! This is the perfect chance for her to start fresh and find someone NEW to stalk! But the million dollar question is… who!? Well, she finds out about a photographer named Taylor (Elizabeth Olsen) while reading a magazine and follows her on Instagram; immediately falling in love with the life that Taylor leads and decides that she wants a piece of that. She ends up going to California (oh NOW I get it!) and rents a pool house from some dude name Dan (O’Shea Jackson Jr) who’s writing an unsolicited spec script for the new Batman movie, and proceeds to find a way to ingratiate herself into Taylor’s life. She manages to do so (I won’t spoil how here!) and soon becomes close friends with both Taylor and her husband Ezra (Wyatt Russell), but how long can this charade go on before the two find out just how obsessive Ingrid is or are on the receiving end of her wrath? Well Taylor’s brother Nicky (Billy Magnussen) might just have something to do with it who seems to be able to see through Ingrid’s bullshit. Probably because he’s manipulative and evil in just the same ways that she is; or perhaps even worse! Will Ingrid find the connection with people she’s so desperately seeking, or will she find a way to ruin everything once her façade starts to crack? Will Dan realize that Ingrid is up to no good before he gets sucked into her world of lies and impulsive violence? Is it just me, or is this an unnecessarily dark turn to take a Parks and Recreation spin-off!?
Logan Lucky and all the images you see in this review are owned by Fingerprint Releasing and Bleecker Street
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Oh hey! Wasn’t this guy supposed to retire like five years ago? Last I heard, he was done making movies and Behind the Candelabra was supposed to be his last film! I guess it’s never easy for someone in this business to TRULY retire (didn’t Jet Li try to do that like fifteen years ago?) and it’s usually a good thing when they don’t. I mean sure, not EVERYONE manages to make their best films in the latter half of their career, but Soderbergh has been a solid talent for some time now and I think we’re better off with him at least TRYING to stay game than just giving it up all together. Will his latest effort confirm just how much he was missed for the maybe one year at most he stopped directing stuff, or was his initial instinct to quit at the peak of his career the right call to make? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) getting fired from his construction job at the Charlotte Motor Speedway due to a pre-existing injury that the company found out about. Now if you ask his brother Clyde (Adam Drive), he’ll tell you that this is just yet another example of The Logan Family Curse which he believes to be responsible for an IED blowing off his hand and forearm, and while the guy is clearly the superstitious type, it’s not like he doesn’t have a lot of evidence backing him up. Jimmy losing his job is just another burden for him to carry on top of his somewhat messy divorce with his wife Bobbie Joe (Katie Holmes), his straining relationship with his daughter Sadie (Farrah Mackenzie), and just the general suckiness of living in North Carolina where the Drinking water is almost always at risk from shoddy chemical plants who just keep spilling their shit into the supply. Maybe this is all a sign for him to go the Walter White route and make money in a less than ethical way just to get some of the weight off of his shoulders and live just a bit more conformably. He may not be cooking meth, but he DOES plan to rob the very speedway that he worked for because he knows that the money is transported through a series of tubes that go from the individual (and overpriced) merchants to the big vault down below. Even with his little inside tip, it STILL seems like a tough job to pull off which means he’ll need a little extra help from demolitions expert and current inmate Joe Bang (Daniel Craig) as well as his rather dumb yet completely loyal brothers Fish and Sam (Jack Quaid and Brian Gleeson); not to mention his brother as well as his sister Mellie (riley Keough) who’s an expert driver and the perfect wheel woman for this job. Can this ragtag group of misfits manage to pull off the heist to end all heists right under everyone’s noses? How exactly do they hope to not only get in the vault and steal all that money in the first place, but make sure they don’t get caught after the fact? Is this where the James Bond movies will end up going? Hey, it’s at least more coherent than the LAST movie!
The Hitman’s Bodyguard and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate
Directed by Patrick Hughes
Okay, so MAYBE Atomic Blonde didn’t turn out to be everything I was hoping for, but that’s not the ONLY move I was looking forward to this year! Who DOESN’T want to see two of the best action/comedy actors of the modern age bounce off of each other in an over the top buddy shoot’em up!? That’s at least what we were promised in the trailers, but if there’s one thing that Atomic Blonde (and admittedly lots of other movies) has taught me, it’s that trailers aren’t always the best at telling you what a movie will ACTUALLY be about. I know; SHOCKING revelation there! Does the team up between these two titans of Hollywood blockbusters manage to work even better together than they do as individuals, or was this a team up worse than when Pouty Superman fought with Even Poutier Batman for no reason whatsoever? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) who is a TOP NOTCH bodyguard with his own security company that’s apparently richer than half their clients considering how styling him and his crew are, but his idyllic life of protecting the rich and powerful is abruptly brought to an end when someone he’s supposed to be protecting gets shot right the head by an unknown sniper. He spends the next few years stewing in his own self-loathing and is stuck protecting losers and drug addicted lawyers as he tries to climb his way back to the top. An opportunity presents itself though when super hitman Darius Kincaid (Samuel L Jackson) is to be brought before an international court to testify against the Belarusian Dictator (Gary Oldman) who everyone seems to know committed NUMEROUS war crimes, but only Kincaid has the evidence… for some reason. Michael is given a chance to possibly redeem himself if he can get Darius to The Netherlands in one piece as the Belarusian Dictator is sending out a lot of hired goons to put him in a body bag before he can testify. That’s not the REAL problem though. No, what’s REALLY gonna make this the mission from hell is that Darius is a TOTAL asshole who likes to do things dirty which clashes with Michael’s preference of being clean and professional about everything he does. It’s like The Odd Couple, but with guns and a lot more swearing! I don’t recall Walter Matthau calling people mother fucker before shooting them in the head! Can these two get along JUST long enough for Darius to testify and put that dictator behind bars once and for all? Will Michael finally redeem himself and get his life back on track after delivering Darius to the international authorities, or will he end up shooting him in the head out of sheer frustration before that? Seriously, does Samuel L Jackson own the rights to the words mother fucker? He HAS to be getting royalties considering how much he says that!
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic and all the images you see in this recap are owned by Hasbro
Episode directed by Denny Lu and Mike Myhre
We’re back with another episode of Friendship is Practical Magic! For the most part, this season has been rather underwhelming when focusing on our core cast of characters that have had dozens of episodes dedicated to them already while episodes on not so ubiquitous ponies have been real highlights; not just of this season but of the series as well. Clearly there needs to be a shake up if this series wants to keep being such a prominent fixture in western animation; maybe not as much as Adventure Time ended up doing, but the LEAST we can do is expand the world a bit more and maybe not touch base with Ponyville as often! Hopefully they’re listening to my FANTASTIC advice because we have yet another episode that we’re focusing on characters that haven’t quite gotten their due in the series proper! Will this be yet another successful gamble for the season that’s on a hot streak for these kinds of episodes? Let’s find out!!
The episode begins with… oh… oh wow!! They’re getting back to the Cutie Map!! YES!! I’ve never been so happy to see this pointless MacGuffin! After an interminable stretch of mediocre episodes stuck right in the middle of boring ol’ Ponville, this is the perfect excuse to get us out of this rut the season has found itself in and the series should REALLY utilize this plot device more! Oh, and what’s this!? The map is sending out Best Pony Starlight Glimmer to solve the problem of Other Best Ponies Princess Celestia and Princess Luna! The only way this could get any better is if they send Trixie too!! Wait, ARE THEY!?
The Glass Castle and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate
Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton
Based… on a True Story. Ugh… is there any other phrase in the English language (other than Starring Jai Courtney) that sends a bigger chill down my spine? Trying to parse out which decisions a film makes that are due to the source material is not an easy task (especially when you don’t KNOW the true story to begin with) and it makes judging a movie with a well-rounded opinion THAT much harder to pull off since it works on different levels. Sure, ANY adaptation is gonna have some changes when going from one medium to another, but adapting something that ACTUALLY happened by its very nature practically begs to be judged on merits that are different from any other movie. So does this family drama manage to be enjoyable in its own right, or am I gonna have to read the book and do a whole bunch of research after the fact to TRULY understand what it’s going for? Let’s find out!!
The movie is an adaptation of Jeannette Wall’s memoir of the same name and we follow her as an adult (Brie Larson) as well as a child (Ella Anderson and Chandler Head); discovering how the latter is informing the former and learning about the pleasant as well as not so pleasant aspects of growing up with an abusive alcoholic father Rex (Woody Harrelson) with big ideas but too many personal demons to follow through on any of them. Along for the ride are her siblings Lori, Brian, and Bridgette (Sarah Snook, Olivia Kate Rice, Sadie Sink, Josh Caras, Iain Armitage, Charlie Stowell, Bridgette Lundy-Paine, Eden Grace Redfield, and Shree Crooks) as well as their mother Rose Mary (Naomi Watts) who all deal with their father in their own ways; though none of them come out of their life with him unscathed. Still, they all turned out well enough I guess, especially Jeannette who’s working for a big New York magazine and is engaged to a super-rich guy! Everything’s going great, right!? Well… maybe not, especially when Mom and Dad show up in New York and start squatting in an abandoned building. Will Jeannette be able to make peace with the way her father behaved when she was growing up? What exactly are her parents even doing in New York in the first place? Is Woody Harrelson able to NOT be likable, even when playing a total jerk!? Heck, he managed to stay at least SOMEWHAT charming in Natural Born Killers!
Annabelle: Creation and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures
Directed by David F Sandberg
I’m gonna let you all in on a little secret. I absolutely HATE The Conjuring. Seriously, my hatred for that movie may not be on par with something as dreadful as Incarnate, but I was completely miserable while watching it. Even if you ignore the rather gross way it tries to legitimize (or at the very least sensationalize) a pair of “paranormal investigators” who have been bilking people out of money for decades. I mean sure, this is true of ANY of those assholes who purport to be super natural experts (outside of those groups that dress up as Ghostbusters) but it just irks me how a talented cast coupled with a talented director were being wasted on what is essentially propaganda for fraudsters because SPOILER ALERT, GHOSTS AREN’T REAL! I can suspend my disbelief for a movie or basically any work of fiction, but The Conjuring crossed that line by not only claiming to be BASED ON A TRUE STORY, but by doing so in a way that would only boost the supposed validity of people that clearly didn’t deserve it. Anyway, rant over. My hatred over the first movie kept me from seeing the sequel which got GOOD reviews as well as the Annabelle movie which… didn’t. Seemingly realizing the hole they dug themselves into, Warner Bros is trying to pull a Ouija: Origin of Evil; not just because they got the same actress from THAT movie, but by creating a retro prequel that looks to have nothing to do with the other film. Sounds like a good movie as far as I’m concerned. ANYTHING to get us as far away from The Warrens as humanly possible! Does their gamble to distance themselves from the first crappy movie manage to pay off, or was this a bad idea then and an even worse idea now? Let’s find out!!
Back in the good ol’ days before polio vaccines were widely available, there was a little girl named Annabelle (Samara Lee) who got the Pet Semetary treatment, i.e. she got hit by a car that REALLY should have been going a lot slower! Her parents Samuel and Esther (Anthony LaPaglia and Miranda Otto) get very depressed with the latter even suffering from some sort of degenerative disease, but they eventually open their doors to a group of orphans who have nowhere else to go. The two main orphan girls Janice and Linda (Talitha Bateman and Lulu Wilson) soon realize that weird stuff is going on with the former even finding a mysterious doll in Annabelle’s old room. Okay, not so much her room but what looks to be a War Room that’s been secretly carved into her wall… for some reason. Anyway, we eventually find out that the doll houses some sort of demon that was passing itself off as the ghost of Annabelle, but the parents found out and locked it away! I figure they should have BURNED the damn thing instead, but I guess locking it behind a not-so-secret door and leaving the key out so that practically ANYONE could find it was a good option too! And so Janice spends the rest of the movie trying to convince her fellow orphans as well as Sister Charlotte (Stephanie Sigman) that something weird is going on, but no one other than Linda seems to take it seriously which can only mean that things are gonna get worse and worse in the house as Demon Annabelle is free to roam the halls and I guess extract its revenge. Can Janice and Linda survive the near constant onslaught of spookiness brought about by the demon? Will everyone else wise up to what’s going on before it’s too late? How does someone make this doll and the NOT expect it to be a demon magnet!?
Kidnap and all the images you see in this review are owned by Aviron Pictures
Directed by Luis Prieto
TWO YEARS! This movie has been sitting on a shelf for nearly two freaking years due to the financial troubles of its original distributor Relativity media before being picked up by its current distributor and finally getting a release. I mean, I guess it’s better than the cinematic limbo that Amityville: The Awakening is stuck in (wrapped in 2014 and STILL hasn’t been released) but it still doesn’t bode well considering how little this movie is being promoted. Hell, I thought this thing came out last year which is when I saw the first trailer, and I only found out like a week ago that it was only now coming out! Still, Halle Berry is a really great actor (Catwoman non-withstanding) and I do tend to like a decent car chase movie. Does this have a chance of rising above its troubled and awkwardly handled release, or was shelving this thing the best anyone involved could have hoped for? Let’s find out!!
Karla Dyson (Halle Berry) is the clichéd single mom who’s got a crappy job but is trying to make it work as well as make time for her son (Sage Correa). Being the perfect mother figure though, it was only a matter of time before dramatic irony rears its ugly head and the ONE FREAKING MINUTE she walks away to take a very important phone call, some scumbags (Lew Temple and Chris McGinn) manage to swoop in and take her son. Why did they take her son and what do they hope to get from this working class mom? Who cares! THEY’VE GOT HER FREAKING KID! Time for Karla to do the only sensible thing which is to be a total bad ass and chase after them in her minivan and try to get SOMEONE’S attention long enough for them to help her stop these crooks from keeping her son for any longer. It’s too bad that her phone died AND she accidentally left it at the park where her son was kidnapped, but that’s beside the point! COME HELL OR HIGH WATER, SHE WILL GET HER SON BACK!! Does Karla have even the slightest chance of stopping the criminals before they do any harm to her precious son? How far will she need to go and how much collateral damage will she cause in her mad dash not lose sight of the kidnappers? Just where the heck did she learn to drive like that!?
Girls Trip and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures
Directed by Malcolm D Lee
I am so not looking forward to this one. They just kept playing that trailer over and OVER again in front of everything I saw, and I never once found it funny; especially that joke (and I use the term loosely) about infectious diseases NOT being spread through the rectum. Are we supposed to laugh because it’s ignorant? I don’t know, but all that said it’s got a decent enough looking cast and trailers don’t ALWAYS accurately reflect the finished product. Maybe there’s a chance this will turn out fine! That’s possible, right!? Well let’s find out!!
The movie is about four friends who were besties in college, but then life happened and they started to drift away as they found love, careers, and other things that kept them busy. We’ve got Ryan Pierce (Regina Hall) who’s a self-help celebrity married to some dude named Stewart (Mike Colter), Lisa Cooper (Jada Pinkett Smith) who’s a divorcee as well as a helicopter mom, Sasha Franklin (Queen Latifah) who was going to be a great journalist but is stuck writing about celebrity gossip on her blog, Dina (Tiffany Haddish) who’s… well THE WILD CARD I guess. Anyway, the titular trip of the movie happens when Ryan has an opportunity to get a TV show and is meeting up with the TV executives in New Orleans while she’s ALSO giving a speech at a women’s conference of some kind; both of which by the way are happening over the same weekend as the Essence Music Festival. Given this once in a lifetime opportunity, she decides to call up her friends and invite them for a wild weekend which will surely be filled with shenanigans and wine coolers! Of course, things don’t go as planned as all four of them have issues that bubble up to the surface during the trip and Ryan is at risk of losing that TV show deal if things get too far out of hand. Can Ryan keep things under control between her wild friends and even her husband long enough to get what she’s always wanted? Will Sasha betray her best friend once she gets her hands on some juicy gossip about her and her love life? Will the other two resolve… whatever story arcs THEY have!?