Monthly Archives: August 2017

Jumping the Soapbox: Top 20 Episodes of Aqua Teen Hunger Force – Part 1 (20-11)

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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!!

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20) Bible Fruit – S5 E9

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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.

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“I did THREE of those God Damn chipmunk movies!  I’VE EARNED THIS, right Mr. Wrench!?”     “That’s right Mr. Banana!!”     “Burt, you’re talking to yourself again.”     “You know what will help with that?”     “Is it booze-”     “GET THE BOOZE!!”

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Super Comics: Sonic the Hedgehog 10-11

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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!!

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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.

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“Batman’s got nothing on ME!”     “Sonic, I think that’s in pretty poor taste-”     “Death of Innocents? More like Death of Good Comics, am I right!?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Ingrid Goes West

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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!?

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“Miss Ludgate! Where did you hide the bodies!?”

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Cinema Dispatch: Logan Lucky

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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!

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“The name’s Bang. Joe Bang.”     “Wait, so your first name is Bang-Joe?”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Hitman’s Bodyguard

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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!

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“I see you driving round time with the girl I love, and I’m like… MOTHER FUCKER!!”

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Super Recaps: My Little Pony season 7 (A Royal Problem)

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!?

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“Boy! This is gonna be GREAT!”     “Twilight? TWILIGHT!? STARLIGHT! I THINK SHE’S HAVING A STROKE”!

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Cinema Dispatch: The Glass Castle

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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!

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“The demon lives in here.  It feeds on your hate.”     “Oh daddy!  You’re so funny!!”

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