Cinema Dispatch: Deep Water

Deep Water and all the images you see in this review are owned by Hulu

Directed by Adrian Lyne

Movies may be returning to theaters, but the Pandemic has irrevocably muddied the waters between theatrical movies and straight to streaming. Pixar’s splitting the difference with one of their movies going to streaming while other is a theatrical exclusive, and all the major streaming services are sacrificing box office bucks in the hopes of roping in a few more views; Netflix being the most blatant as far as I’m concerned what with Knives Out 2 going straight to their service. It’s certainly been good for me as I’m already paying for these things so I might as well check out what’s on them, and one movie caught my eye this week. It’s a movie I never heard of until a few days before it was to come out, and yet it’s starring the former Batman and Agent Paloma from the last James Bond movie! How did something with such high-profile actors fly under my radar like this? Was Hulu hoping we won’t notice it as they sandwich it between Seth Macfarlane cartoons and whatever the heck Letter Kenny is, or is this just further evidence that I am out of touch and just barely managed to catch a great movie before it sailed right over my head? Let’s find out!!

Vic Van Allen and Melinda Van Allen (Ben Affleck Ana de Armas) are an upper-class married couple who have an… interesting relationship. It’s unclear how much of this is formalized or agreed upon, but it’s clear that Melinda is having sex with other men and that Vic is aware of it. For the most part, he just stands there and plasters a smile on his face while she does her thing, but it’s clear that this is eating him up inside and he starts getting more and more aggressive in his “handling” of this situation. Melinda seemingly has no compunction about this and presumably doesn’t care much for Vic’s feelings, but then Vic is no peach either and his need for control only gets more desperate and more uncomfortable. Just how far will Vic go to hold tight on what he believes is rightfully his, and how will Melinda react to these cages he wishes to put up? Is there something underneath all this contempt that they have for each other, and is it somehow darker than the animosity with which they deal with their problems already? See, back in my day they would just go on Springer and get it all out in the open, but nope! Just gonna bottle it up until someone writes a really inappropriate rant on Facebook!

“She’s so *#!@% that ^&^@#$!”     “Well, HE can’t even %$%#*!”     “JERRY! JERRY! JERRY!”
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Cinema Dispatch: Free Guy

Free Guy and all the images you see in this review are owned by 20th Century Studios

Directed by Shawn Levy

When the Pandemic started over a year ago, this was one of the movies that got pushed back to try and court a big audience once things had settled down, and sadly it seems to have waited JUST long enough to catch the brunt of the Delta variant that has people gun-shy about going back to theaters once again. Still, even when the trailers for this were coming out in the pre-pandemic work, it was not something I was looking forward to as it looked like a cash grab from Ryan Reynolds; using his post-Deadpool clout to score a HUGE payday with something that KINDA resembles his usual shtick. Then again, Reynolds isn’t a guy who takes on roles lightly, especially SINCE Deadpool, and his other big cash grab movie Detective Pikachu turned out to be one of the best video game movies ever made! Can he make lightening strike twice with this send up of the AAA Game Industry, or is the video game curse one that even Ryan Reynolds can’t overcome more than once?

Guy (Ryan Reynolds) is an NPC going about his day to day life in an online sandbox game known as Free City; basically if Grand Theft Auto 5’s online mode was smashed together with a not-so-self-aware version of the Saints Row series. Guy is no one of particular note in the game, he isn’t giving people quests or running in-app purchase storefront; instead he’s just a banker who’s daily routine involves getting stuck up by criminals multiple times a day as players complete the Bank Heist mission for XP. All of this is way over Guy’s head who along with his fellow NPCs doesn’t even know they are in a video game; they are just living their lives day to day and this is what it looks like! That is until Guy runs into a player named Molotov Girl (Jodie Comer) who seems familiar in some way and makes him start to think differently than before; so much so that he decides to take the glasses that these robbers are always wearing and discovers the user interface that’s hidden from all the NPCs. With this new world opening up to him, Guy goes after Molotov and even tries to make Free City a better place to live by stopping crime and being a Good Guy which gets him XP of his own and catches the attention of streamers out there; confused by this character (who they mistake as an actual player) trying to do GOOD things in the game. This attention however does not go unnoticed by the developers and the studio head Antwan (Taika Waititi) who is none too happy with someone trying to break their profitable game loop; especially right before the release of their sequel that will make Guy and his world obsolete. Will Guy’s quest for self-determination and heroism ultimately spell doom for himself and everything he holds dear? Who is this mysterious woman that he has fallen for, and what is her connection to the developers of the game itself? How can Ryan Reynolds be so dorky AND so cool at the same time!?

“Excelsior, Mo-Fos.”
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Cinema Dispatch: Space Jam: A New Legacy

Space Jam: A New Legacy and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros

Directed by Malcolm D Lee

Nostalgia is a heck of a drug, isn’t it?  The original Space Jam is certainly a fondly remembered time capsule and it has some highlights to it like its strong animation and some bizarre asides that gave it a bit of flavor despite being such an obvious marketing tool.  It’s been over twenty years though and what worked for us back then may not capture the imagination of the “Youth” today, and frankly I couldn’t tell you if any of them have seen or even HEARD of that first movie unless it was shoved on them by their Millennial parents.  It seems the question that this movie seeks to answer (along with how to make your budget back with a simultaneous streaming and theater release) is whether you can both reheat old nostalgia while giving something new for next generation to attach themselves to.  Does this succeed in giving us the best of both worlds, or will spreading itself too thin leave nobody happy?  Let’s find out!!

LeBron James may be a worldwide superstar and really good basketball player, but his parenting skills leave something to be desired as his son Dom (Cedric Joe) isn’t really into basketball despite his dad insisting that he go to Basketball Camp this summer.  He’d much rather go to Video Game Camp which I think is what people started calling Computer Camp to trick youngsters into going, but he’s worried about telling his dad that he’d rather make games than play ball.  While all this tension is in the air, Warner Bros has called LeBron James over so that their algorithm named Al-G-Rhythm (Don Cheadle) can pitch… some sort of multimedia deal?  LeBron seems as confused as I am so he turns it down which OF COURSE makes good ol’ Al go full on Skynet and kidnap him and his son, and drag them both into cyberspace.  Since Al-G-Rhythm is a WB program, I guess he’s aware of what a success the original Space Jam movie was and so challenges him to a basketball game while he mentors Dom and nourishes his desire to make video games.  It’s up to LeBron to find the most suitable characters owned by WB to join his basketball team, or failing that the Looney Tunes characters led by Bugs Bunny (Jeff Bergman), and get his son back by winning a game of basketball!  Can LeBron bring the Toons back together who’ve long been separated while also bridging the gap between him and his son?  What is Al-G-Rhythm’s plans for Dom once he’s done making his game, and will it spell doom for his family?  Wait, why do they call it Space Jam when no one in this is from Space?  Shouldn’t it be Cyber Jam?

“This is it?  What, were the Loonatics busy?”     “I RESENT THAT, GOOD SIR!”
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Cinema Dispatch: Tom & Jerry

Tom & Jerry and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Tim Story

The pandemic has been awful for everyone, but I have no doubt that a few movies were relieved to avoid having to release in theaters and have dismal box office returns; particularly the movies that were already being pushed further and further back looking for the least competitive window possible to MAYBE scrape by at number three on slow weekend.  My Spy certainly springs to mind, as does this movie which didn’t exactly light the world on fire with its trailer and frankly I was not looking forward to sitting through it when Warner Bros put it on their HBO Max slate.  Still, even if it looks a bit cheap and cheesy for the big screen, perhaps it plays a bit better on the smaller one and will find its niche in the streaming market.  Is this a fun little romp for the kids that captures the spirit of these classic characters, or is it yet another lousy cash-in that’ll come and go faster than the LAST time they tried to bring these characters to the big screen all the way back in 1992?  Let’s find out!!

Thomas D Cat and Jerome A Mouse are two critters roaming the streets of New York City; one looking for a place to stay that has lots of cheese and the other hoping to be the world’s most famous keyboard playing feline right after Keyboard Cat.  Their paths cross when Jerry interrupts his concert in the park and after a series of convoluted antics; one ends up in a fancy hotel chomping holes into walls and stealing food while the other is left homeless and with a broken keyboard.  Try to guess which one is which!  Said hotel by the way has a new employee named Kayla (Chloë Grace Moretz) who faked her way into the position and is trying to prove herself by fixing the hotel’s mouse problem in preparation for an upcoming celebrity wedding that will take place in the hotel’s banquet hall.  The current supervisor (Michael Peña) is skeptical of Kayla and is looking for any excuse to get rid of her, so she has to bring in a mouse catching ringer and decides to hire this cartoon cat that clearly has it out for the little mouse.  Will Tom be able to stop Jerry’s antics and earn a decent salary to fund his hopes and dreams?  Will the wedding go off without a hitch, or is there more going on with the celebrity couple that can only come to light via cartoon animal violence?  I know the movie is out and I’ve sat through it already… but are we sure this is even a real movie? 

Did they actually get her to be in this, or is that just a cardboard cutout!?
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Cinema Dispatch: Brittany Runs a Marathon

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Brittany Runs a Marathon and all the images you see in this review are owned by Amazon Studios

Directed by Paul Downs Colaizzo

Me and Amazon Studios?  We have an understanding.  Well… not so much an understanding as me having an opinion about them that the multi-billion dollar Mega Corporation doesn’t know or care about.  Their movies that come to theaters are often mid-range fare that almost affects the impression of a small studio like STX or a less ambitious NEON, but other than outright disasters like Gringo, they are reliably enjoyable if not particularly stunning achievements.  Does their latest outing that will surely be on a streaming box near you measure up to those ho-hum standards, or are we in for another feature more unbearable than their anti-union practices!?  Let’s find out!!

Brittany Forglar (Jillian Bell) is your typical millennial washout.  She’s living in New York City… somehow supporting herself with a part time job as an usher at a theater I think, but she’s not happy with herself and uses drugs, meaningless sex, and comedy to get her through the days.  However, after a visit from the doctor where she tries to get a prescription for uppers, the doctor delivers the harsh truth that her health isn’t all that great and she should probably lose a few pounds; not that weight loss in and of itself is healthy, but a lot of her REAL symptoms instead of the fake ones she’s trying to use to get the drugs can be alleviated or even eliminated entirely if she ate better and exercised more.  After some trepidation she does manage to start losing weight which builds up her confidence and she starts improving other aspects of her life including her relationships, her career path, and even plans on running the New York City Marathon as a benchmark for her achievement.  However, all this change is coming with a fair bit of resistance; not just form her but her friends as well as she has to look at the reality of her situation and come to terms that maybe some people in her life aren’t good for her and she’ll have to move on to greener pastures no matter how hard it may be.  Can Brittany get her life back on track and fulfill her newfound dream of finishing the marathon?  What pitfalls will she run into as she starts to make weight loss itself the goal instead of it being a side effect of taking care of herself?  Is her ultimate goal to hone her skills like a ninja and become Batman?  I mean… that’s the reason we ALL try to get in shape, right?

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“First question; do you have a tragic backstory?”     “I mean… the US economy?”     “Okay, that’s a good start.”

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Cinema Dispatch: Good Boys

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Good Boys and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Gene Stupnitsky

Okay, hear me out.  What if we took a movie… but remade it with kids!?  WHY HASN’T ANYONE THOUGHT OF THIS BEFORE!?  Heck, let’s go ahead and add a baby to a sitcom!  THAT’LL blow some people’s minds, I tell you what!  Okay, so a bunch of kids doing things they shouldn’t be doing on screen isn’t the MOST unique premise out there, but then neither is the whole COMING OF AGE narrative that this film along with plenty of other films I love revolve their entire plot around.  Plus, it’s being produced by Seth Rogen which is a good sign in my book as he has a good eye for comedy even when he doesn’t star in the films themselves.  Is this yet another fun raunchy comedy from a creative team that has turned the genre into an art form, or is this a worse idea than Another Bad Creation?  Let’s find out!!

The Beanbag Boys consisting of Max, Thor, and Lucas (Jacob Tremblay, Brady Noon, and Keith L Williams) are a trio of friends who are about to enter the scary world of… MIDDLE SCHOOL!  BUM-BUM-BUUUUUUUMM!  Truly the testing ground for all men who will either face the challenge head on or crash and burn in spectacular fashion ; becoming a pariah for all time.  Well at least that’s what they think as their plan is to get in with the COOL kids by sipping beer, NOT auditioning for the school play which Thor was really looking forward to, and going to the KISSING PARTY.  They get the invite at least, but none of them ACTUALLY know how to kiss so they decide the BEST option would to take Max’s dad’s drone and use it to spy on the neighbors Hannah and Lilly (Molly Gordon and Midori Francis) who are college kids and therefore must be making out all the time.  Well circumstances get out of control very quickly as the kids lose the drone which gets destroyed, they end up stealing Hannah and Lilly’s drugs, and they have to make it to the mall to buy a new drone before Max’s dad gets home; all the while STILL not prepared for the KISSING PARTY happening that night!  Can the Beanbag Boys put their heads together and get everything fixed before bedtime?  What toll will this adventure take on them, and can their friendship survive it?  Will they unlock the mysteries of the universe on this treacherous journey!?

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“Oh!  I know this one!  If it bleeds, we can kill it!”     “If WHAT bleeds?”

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Cinema Dispatch: The Angry Birds Movie 2

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The Angry Birds Movie 2 and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing

Directed by Thurop Van Orman

We only got one shot at the Super Mario Bros in the last twenty five years, yet THIS manages to get a sequel?  I actually LIKED that Mario movie, which just goes to show that Hollywood is out to get me specifically; though I can’t imagine why since I’m SUCH an agreeable and charming fellow!  Anyway, the first movie left me feeling pretty bitter so there’s not a single part of me that is looking forward to see the further adventures of Boring Red, Danny McBoom, and Fast Olaf, but sitting here dreading the darn thing isn’t gonna get us anyway, so let’s put on a brave face and try to meet this film halfway!  Can the sequel meet or perhaps even exceed the low bar that the original movie set, or is hoping for even that much just setting myself up for disappointment?  Let’s find out!!

Following the events of the first film where Red (Jason Sudeikis) became a hero to Bird Island by driving away the Pigs, the two islands are at something of a standstill with each of them pulling pranks and launching food at one another in an attempt to see which island can get the most annoyed.  Red is overjoyed by this since being the hero who fought the pigs is now his full time job as he along with Chuck and Boom (Danny McBride and Josh Gadd) spend every waking moment coming up with new schemes, retaliating against attacks, and giving speeches to the citizens of Bird Island.  That’s all about to change however as a THIRD island starts to float into the middle of the conflict which is head up by Zeta (Leslie Jones); an Eagle on an island of ice who throws ice balls at people just because she’s angry that her island is full of ice.  She could just take a vacation to one of the adjacent islands, but nope!  Massive ice balls that surely crush whatever living thing ends up beneath them!  The pigs are the first one to notice the threat and King Leonard (Bill Hader) offers a truce to the citizens of Bird Island who are all happy to finally be done with this prank war… except for Red who now has to get a real job I guess and find people who like him for reasons other than being the maroon messiah.  Well I guess if being the brave warrior who defeated the pigs isn’t cutting it anymore, than recklessly leading the charge against the eagles is the next best thing!  Along with Chuck, Boom, and King Leonard, they recruit Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage), Courtney the pig (Awkwafina), gadgets expert Garry (Sterling K Brown), and Chuck’s hereto unmentioned sister Silver (Rachel Bloom) to aid in their plot to destroy Zeta’s super ice weapon, but are the ready to face such a dangerous and flamboyant threat?  Can they save both islands without betraying one another or just screwing up due to their own incompetence?  Are we sure we can’t just let Zeta take over the islands?  Maybe it’s just me, but I think we should at least give her a chance!

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Say what you will about her weapons of mass refrigeration; at least she likes dogs!

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Cinema Dispatch: Uncle Drew

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Uncle Drew and all the images you see in this review are owned by Lionsgate

Directed by Charles Stone III

Has anyone been looking forward to this movie?  I’m not the only one who thought this was going to be a very mediocre cash grab from that awful trailer with the bobble heads and the Sugarhill Gang song, right?  Then again, I’m one of those darn Millennials who thinks that Space Jam is the height of basketball comedies, so maybe the lack of Warner Bros characters was throwing me off here but I still got a real bad feeling from this as it checks off a lot of bad comedy tropes.  Old age makeup, retro soundtrack, goofy sports premise (“There’s no rule that says a dog can’t play basketball!”), all the favorites from movies that you may have liked as a kid but really doesn’t hold up now… except for Space Jam.  Will this be a nostalgic throwback to the era of silly sports movies, or will this be more painful than if Tyler Perry did a Madea basketball movie?  Well I’m pretty sure NOTHING would be worse than seeing Tyler Perry’s A Medea March Madness, but let’s find out!!

Down on his luck Dax (Lil Rel Howery) has been training his whole life to be a basketball player but decided to go into coaching after… the incident, and has a team that might just win a basketball tournament in Harlem known as the Rucker Classic and win a boat load of money which he’ll use to… I don’t know; pay his rent I guess.  It all depends on his star player Casper (Aaron Gordon) who is PHENOMENAL on the court but kind of a douche in real life, and he’s been making eyes at fellow douche Mookie (Nick Kroll) who’s Dax’s big rival (especially after… the incident) and coached the last five teams to win the Rucker Classic.  Sure enough, after draining Dax of all his money, Casper goes to join Mookie and the rest of the team just kind of goes away as well.  Not only that but his girlfriend Jess (Tiffany Haddish) kicks him out of the house because she was banking on that prize money and has no use for the shmuck now that he doesn’t have a chance to win it.  Left with absolutely nothing but the clothes on his back and a spot in the tournament, Dax starts scouring the area for unaffiliated ball players but has no luck and is about to give up when he sees an old man school one of the young dudes in basketball; showing him the value of fundamentals over being able to show off.  The old man turns out to be Uncle Drew (Kyrie Irving) who was a legendary basketball player in Harlem that disappeared forty years ago under dubious circumstances, and he might just be the man Dax needs to avoid living on a park bench!  Uncle Drew agrees to play for him, but only if they find the rest of his old team (Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, Reggie Miller, and Nate Robinson) to play as well.  And so they’re off on a road trip to find Uncle Drew’s old friends, mend some bridges, learn some lessons, and play basketball against dudes a quarter their age!  Will Uncle Drew be able to show these youngsters what it means to be a TRUE player of the game while also making up for the mistakes he made all those years ago?  What chances do these older gentlemen have against Mookie’s team, and will Dax be able to get past… the incident?  Did you know there’s a new Shaq Fu game?  I wonder if this is some sort of crossover…

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Heck, you can make a convincing argument that this is a sequel to that Super Globetrotters cartoon!

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Cinema Dispatch: Tag

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Tag and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros Pictures

Directed by Jeff Tomsic

I don’t know about you, but I really liked the trailer to this when it started to go around!  It was a clever enough premise to be sure, and there’s a really decent cast behind it; particularly Jeremy Renner who may have gotten screwed out of Infinity War but at least gets a nice juicy starring role here!  Does Benedict Cumberbatch get as much screen time in that movie as he’ll get here?  I sure as heck doubt it!!  In a year that’s certainly had its ups and downs as far as comedies (Blockers on the high end, Gringo on the low), will this be another standout to tip the year in to the GOOD side, or will this fail to live up to the expectations we got from such a good trailer?  Let’s find out!!

The movie follows the adventures of Hogan, bob, Randy, and Kevin (Ed Helms, Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson, and Hannibal Buress) who are four lifelong friends that have managed to stay close over the last thirty years by playing tag for the entire month of May with the man left as IT at the end of the month being saddled with shame for the rest of the year.  Oh, but it’s all in good fun, right!?  Well, there’s actually one more friend in the group named Jerry (Jeremy Renner) who’s NEVER been tagged in all the years they’ve played the game; to the point that it’s downright scary.  Dude has Sherlock Holmes powers where he can see everything go in slow motion, and he has the cat like reflexes of a superhero that might be popular but expendable enough that they won’t call him EVERY time the group assembles.  To make matters worse, it seems that Jerry plans on retiring at the end of this season and Hogan is more determined than ever to finally lay his hand upon his friend and confer the status of IT to him once and for all; breaking his streak and proving himself to be the best tag player of them all!  However, Jerry has thrown a clever little wrench into Hogan’s plans by putting his own wedding right at the end of the month which will hopefully deter the crew from their mad pursuit; at least long enough to not ruin the big day for his fiancée (Leslie Bibb) and make it THAT much easier for him to retain the title.  Will Hogan and his heroes (along with his wife played by Isla Fisher) manage to stop the reign of Jerry once and for all?  Just how far will they go to tag him, and how far will Jerry go to NOT be tagged?  If any of this is supposedly based on a true story, how are NONE of these people dead!?

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“THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE!!”

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Cinema Dispatch: Get Out

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Get Out and all the images you see in this review are owned by Universal Pictures

Directed by Jordan Peele

2016 turned out to be a fantastic year for horror movies; not just for the ones that ended up on my best of the year list, but also the ones that aimed to be middle of the road seemed to step up their game and try harder than you’d normally expect from the genre. Now sure, 2017 started with The Bye Bye Man, but even 2016 had some low points with The Forest and Incarnate.  Plus, we’ve also gotten the excellent, if problematic, Split not too long ago which is already one of the better films this year; horror or otherwise.  Now we’ve finally gotten to the BIG one which is Jordan Peele’s directorial debut that’s been getting a lot of positive buzz from when it was first announced all the way up to now with those Fancy Schmancy “professional” critics who are raving about it after they saw the “Critics Screenings”.  Well I had to drive thirty miles in the rain AND hail to see this damn thing, so it BETTER be as good as everyone is saying it is!  Is this thoughtful and well-crafted horror film that everyone says it is and that we desperately need right now, or did the hype machine get out of control with this movie which admittedly can sometimes happen with horror films?  Heck, I wasn’t the biggest fan of You’re Next, and that movie was instantly touted as a classic of the genre!  Anyway, let’s find out!!

The movie begins with Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend Rose (Allison Williams) heading off to meet her family for the first time in what is sure to be a painfully awkward experience for everyone.  Sure enough, Mr. and Mrs. Armitage (Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener) are just as “down” and “hip with the youngsters” as you’d imagine from older white people, but Chris seems to know what he as getting into and is just taking everything in stride until he get back home after the weekend is over.  Of course, things only get worse as Rose’s brother Jeremy (Caleb Landry Jones) enters the picture is an obnoxious dweeb as well as a bunch of the Armitage’s other white friends who are VERY excited to meet Chris.  On top of that the Armitage’s have two black servants, Georgina and Walter (Betty Gabriel and Marcus Henderson), who look to have gotten the Stepford Wives treatment, though only Chris seems to be noticing this.  Tensions mount higher and higher as more clues are uncovered by Chris and it’s starting to seem that he may be in more danger than he initially realized.  Can he get out before he becomes the victim of whatever these white people have planned?  What happened to Georgina and Walter that has them acting so strange?  Did we SERIOUSLY get one of the best movies of the year from the guy who co-wrote Keanu?  That wasn’t a BAD movie, but god DAMN is this a step up!!

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Fucking white people.  Not only are we pulling this crazy shit, but we’re doing it in the rumpus room!?
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