25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: KRAMPUS

CAST
Adam Scott (The Aviator)
Emjay Anthony (Chef)
Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense)
David Koechner (Anchorman)
Stefania LaVie Owen (The Carrie Diaries)
Krista Stadler (Soraya)
Conchata Ferrell (Two and a Half men)
Allison Tolman (The Gift)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
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On December 22, a suburban family gets together to celebrate the holidays—Tom (Adam Scott) and Sarah (Toni Collette), their children Beth (Stefania LaVie Owen) and Max (Emjay Anthony); Sarah’s sister Linda (Allison Tolman), Linda’s husband Howard (David Koechner), their children Stevie (Lolo Owen), Jordan (Queenie Samuel), Howie Jr. (Maverick Flack), and their baby daughter; Sarah and Linda’s aunt Dorothy (Conchata Ferrell); and Tom’s Austrian mother, who is affectionately referred to as “Omi” (Krista Stadler).
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Max wants to continue the family’s Christmas traditions, but tensions between various members of the family keep everyone from having a good time and the family lose their Christmas Spirit. Shortly afterwards a severe blizzard appears and cuts out power in the entire town. Beth, worried about her boyfriend, decides to go visit him in the storm. Upon reaching his house, she spots a strange being who then chases her. She hides under a stalled delivery truck, where she is attacked by an unseen monster. After a period of apparently being alone with no power, Tom and Howard go out seeking for Beth by going to her boyfriend’s house and find it in devastation, with the chimney split open as well as large, goat-like hoof prints on the floor. Fearing what they do not yet understand the family board up the doors and windows, promising Sarah they will look for the missing Beth when morning comes. Howard promises to stay up to keep watch during the night, but he falls asleep. As the fire in the fireplace dies, a hook is lured down the chimney, which drags Howie Jr. up and away. Omi reveals to the family what is happening—they are being tormented by Krampus, an ancient demonic spirit that punishes those who are bad at Christmas, referring to him as the “shadow of Saint Nicholas”. Omi admits that when she was young, her family’s poverty caused her to lose her love of the holidays, which summoned Krampus and resulted in her parents, and town being dragged into hell. She alone was spared by the demon, who left behind a bauble with his name inscribed and her life as a reminder of what happens when one loses their Christmas spirit.
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In the attic, a bag of presents suddenly begins shaking. The family run to the attic and witness a large, snake-like jack-in-the-box monster devour Jordan. The others are attacked by a group of monstrous toys, but fend them off and regroup downstairs. They are soon again attacked by Krampus’s elves, who abduct Dorothy, Howard, and the baby before leaving. The remaining family decide to make a run for a snow plow in the street. Omi stays behind to confront Krampus and buy time for the others. Krampus opens his bag of toys and she is attacked. As the rest of the group run for the plow, the family is carried off one by one until only Max is left. Krampus then appears before Max and gives him a bauble with his name on it, wrapped in a piece of his shredded Santa letter, before leaving. Max confronts and pleads with Krampus to give his family back and take him instead. Krampus seems to consider his request before picking Max up and holding him over a pit into the underworld. Max apologizes to the demon for losing his Christmas spirit but Krampus drops the screaming Max into the pit.
Max suddenly awakens in his bed on Christmas morning. He looks out his window and sees that the neighborhood has returned to normal, and finds his family downstairs opening presents. Believing that the entire experience had been a dream he opens a present and discovers the Krampus bauble. The family falls silent and the camera zooms out to reveal that their house is seen inside a snow globe on a shelf in the Krampus’ lair, along with others.
The film works very well in a number of ways. There is a nice balance between the comedic elements, the in-laws “from Hell”, (with Conchata Ferrell as Aunt Dorothy, doing a nice turn), and some genuinely quite tense moments (for example, when Tom and Howard go out in the blizzard to look for Beth – the significance of the ginger bread man pinned to the fridge with two knives only becoming clear later!). In addition I thought the “Jack in the Box” was genuinely quite creepy. The cloven-hoofed Krampus himself, as the “shadow of St. Nicholas” is rarely seen close up until the end, but is well done. What I also liked about the film was that it did not all dissolve in the final act into the usual too sweet and sugary ooze of most Christmas films “with a message”. It stayed true all the way through to the end.

25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: HIGH CRIMES

 

 

CAST

Ashley Judd (Divergent)
Morgan Freeman (Along Came A Spider)
Jim Caviezel (The Passion of Teh Christ)
Adam Scott (Krampus)
Amanda Peet (Identity Thief)
Bruce Davison (X-Men)
Tom Bower (Crazy Heart)
Emilio Rivera (Bruce Almighty)
Michael Shannon (Man of Steel)
John Billingsley (Star Trek: Enterprise)

Attorney Claire Kubik (Ashley Judd) and her woodworker husband Tom (James Caviezel) find their idyllic life in Marin County, California shattered when, during a Christmas shopping excursion in San Francisco’s Union Square he is captured by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and charged with the murders of nine peasants in a remote village in El Salvador in 1988. Claire is shocked to discover Tom, whose real name is Ronald Chapman, was a covert military operative serving in the United States Marine Corps and has been on the run for the past twelve years.

Tom admits he was present at the scene of the mass murders but staunchly denies any involvement in the killings. He insists he has been scapegoated in order to conceal the identity of the real culprit, Major James Hernandez (Juan Carlos Hernández), now the aide of Brigadier General Bill Marks (Bruce Davison).

First Lieutenant Terence Embry (Adam Scott) is assigned to defend Tom, but his youth and lack of experience prompt Claire to decide to defend her husband, as well. When she realizes she needs help from someone familiar with the workings of a military court, she hires Charlie Grimes (Morgan Freeman), an embittered former military attorney who has a grudge against the military brass, to assist her. Three of the five key witnesses, who previously testified Tom was guilty, have died under seemingly mysterious circumstances, raising Claire and Charlie’s suspicions. As the trial proceeds, they uncover a massive cover-up perpetrated by one of the military’s highest-ranking officials. Also creating problems are the sudden appearance of a resident (Emilio Rivera) of the village where the mass murder took place, who insists Tom was responsible; Embry’s romantic involvement with Claire’s irresponsible sister Jackie (Amanda Peet), which leads Claire to assume that he leaked details about secrets she has uncovered to the prosecution; and Charlie’s falling off the wagon after more than a year of sobriety.

The Salvadorian witness identifies an injured Hernandez as the culprit responsible for a bombing incident prior to the massacre. With aid from Embry, whom Claire realizes is innocent, Claire recovers classified medical files from the FBI as evidence of the cover-up. Claire blackmails Marks by threatening to reveal what she knows about the cover-up and asks him to make the case go away; the next day, the U.S. Defense Department has the case thrown out of court due to “security reasons”.

Just as Claire is about to celebrate her victory in court, Charlie discovers the truth, while in Mexico, that Tom had murdered one of the witnesses in front of his family. The widow who witnessed the act described Tom’s having tossed his gun from one hand to the other (a habit Tom displayed with keys and other objects throughout the film) and his shooting his gun first using one hand, then the other (revealing his ambidexterity); the match between these descriptions also indicated that Tom committed the massacre and also murdered two of the other key witnesses years prior to his arrest. After Tom overhears Claire talking to Charlie on the phone, a short scuffle between Claire and Tom ensues, during which Claire fears for her life. The Salvadoran witness shoots Tom through the window, and the film ends with Charlie and Claire’s starting a new partnership-based law firm.

This film was excellent. The plot was perfectly timed and new twists and turns were added at the right time. The timing in the film keeps the watcher genuinely interested from start to finish. Throughout the film, you are supplied with just the right information to keep you guessing but not so little that you have no clues as to what is happening! The performances put in by Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman were, as always, superb!

 

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: PIRANHA 3D

CAST

Richard Dreyfuss (Tin Man)
Ving Rhames (Mission Impossible)
Elisabeth Shue (Hollow Man)
Christopher Lloyd (Back To The Future)
Steven R. McQueen (The Vampire Diaries)
Jerry O’Connell (Sliders)
Jessica Szohr (Ted 2)
Eli Roth (Inglourious Basterds)
Kelly Brook (Three)
Adam Scott (Kampus)
Riley Steele (Pirates II)
Richard Chavira (Desperate Housewives)
Dina Meyer (Birds of Prey)
Bonnie Morgan (The Devil Inside)
Paul Scheer (Year One)

Fisherman Matt Boyd is fishing in Lake Victoria when a small earthquake hits, splitting the lake floor and causing a whirlpool. Boyd falls in, and is ripped apart by a shoal of piranhas that emerge from the chasm.

Jake Forester is admiring attractive tourists as spring break begins. He reunites with his old crush Kelly Driscoll and meets Derrick Jones, a sleazy pornographer, as well as Danni Arslow, one of his actresses. Derrick convinces Jake to show him good spots on the lake for filming a pornographic movie. That night, Jake’s mother, Sheriff Julie Forester, searches for the missing Matt Boyd with Deputy Fallon. They find his mutilated body and contemplate closing the lake. This decision, however, is made difficult as two-thousand partying college students are on spring break, which is important for bringing revenue to the small town. The next morning, a lone cliff diver is attacked and consumed by the vicious, marauding piranhas.

Jake bribes his sister, Laura, and brother, Zane (Sage Ryan), to stay home alone so that he can show Derrick around the lake. After Jake leaves, Zane convinces Laura to go fishing on a small sandbar island. They forget to tie the boat down and are stranded in the middle of the lake. Meanwhile, Jake goes to meet with Derrick and runs into Kelly, who accepted Derrick’s invitation on board his boat, The Barracuda. Jake meets Crystal Shepard, another one of Derrick’s actresses, and cameraman Andrew Cunningham.  Julie takes a team of seismologist divers—Novak Radzinsky, Sam Montez, and Paula Montellano to the fissure. Novak speculates that the rift leads to a buried prehistoric lake. Paula and Sam scuba dive to the bottom and discover a large cavern filled with large piranha egg stocks. Both are killed by the piranhas before they can alert the others to the discovery. Novak and Julie find Paula’s corpse and pull it onto the boat, capturing a lone piranha, which they take to Carl Goodman, a marine biologist who works as a pet store owner. He explains that it is a highly aggressive prehistoric species, long believed to be extinct, and that the piranhas have survived through cannibalism. The species is able to vigorously devour its prey in seconds.
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Julie, Novak, Fallon, and Deputy Taylor Roberts try to evacuate the lake, but their warnings are ignored, until the piranhas begin to fiercely attack the tourists. Novak boards a jet-ski with a shotgun to help while Fallon drags people to shore, and Julie and Taylor try to get swimmers into the police boat. Almost everyone in the lake is either wounded, dismembered, or killed by the piranhas altogether, while the remaining surviving tourists escape. The party spot rapidly turns into a bloodbath.
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Meanwhile, Jake spots Laura and Zane on the island and forces Derrick to rescue them. Derrick crashes the boat into some rocks, flooding the boat’s lower deck and causing the boat to begin sinking. Kelly is trapped in the kitchen while Derrick, Crystal and Andrew fall overboard from the impact of the collision. Crystal is devoured, and Andrew escapes to shore unharmed. Meanwhile, Danni manages to get a partially eaten Derrick back on board, where he then dies.  Deputy Fallon makes a last stand, taking a boat motor and using its propeller to shred many piranhas, though he is presumed to be killed by the Piranhas. After the chaos settles, Julie receives a call from Jake pleading for help. Julie and Novak steal a speedboat and head off towards the kids. They reach Jake and attach a rope to his boat. Julie, Danni, Laura, and Zane start crossing the rope, but the piranhas latch onto Danni’s hair, causing her to lose her grip on the rope and fall into the water, where she is quickly devoured. The others make it across safely, but the rope comes loose. Using Derrick’s corpse as a distraction, Jake ties the line to himself and goes to save Kelly. He ties Kelly to him and lights a flare after releasing the gas from a pair of stored propane tanks. Novak starts the boat and speeds away just as the piranhas surround Kelly and Jake. They are dragged to safety as the propane tanks explode, destroying the boat and killing most of the piranhas.
Image result for piranha 2010Mr. Goodman calls Julie on the radio, and Julie tells him that they seem to have killed the majority of the piranhas. A horrified Goodman tells her that the reproductive glands on the piranha they obtained were not mature, which means that the fish they have killed were only the babies. As Novak wonders aloud where the parents are, the human sized-Piranha Queen leaps out of the water and eats him.

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This film was of course, filmed in 3D (there are two discs, one 2D, one 3D) with dismembered body parts and voracious piranhas coming at you in abundance. Strangely enough, I found that the 3D effects worked rather better in 2D and wearing the gasses provided was little more than a gimmick and made everything a bit monochrome. Still, it is all great fun and I enjoyed every bloody minute of it and, provided that you throw your artistic sensibilities out of the window, so, I am sure, will you!

REVIEW: VERONICA MARS – SEASON 1

Starring

Kristen Bell (The Good Place)
Teddy Dunn (Jumper)
Jason Dohring (The Originals)
Percy Daggs III (Detention)
Sydney Tamiia Poitier (Death Proof)
Francis Capra (Izombie)
Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint)

Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Michael Muhney (The Young and The Restless)
Corinne Bohrer (The Flash 90s)
Amanda Seyfried (Les Miserables)
Lisa Thornhill (Agter The Sunset)
Kyle Secor (The Purge: Election Year)
Daran Norris (Izombie)
Brandon Hillock (Villains)
Bradley Joseph (Stone & Ed)
Patrick Wolff (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Duane Daniels (Fashion House)
Jonathan Chesner (Bones)
Christian Clemenson (Apollo 13)
Aaron Ashmore (Smallville)
Wilmer Calderon (Fast & Furious)
Paris Hilton (House of Wax)
Ryan Hansen (2 Broke Girls)
Bobby Edner (The Amanda Show)
Paula Marshall (Murder In The First)
Alison MacInnis (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Kyla Pratt (Dr. Dolittle)
Adam Wylie (Child’s Play 2)
Robert Baker (Supergirl)
Sam Huntington (Superman Returns)
Melissa Reneé Martin (The Secret Craft)
Lisa Rinna (Days of Our Lives)
Jane Lynch (Glee)
Harry Hamlin (Clash of The Titans)
Amanda Noret (Bunny Whipped)
Jessica Chastain (Zero Dar Thirty)
Adam Kaufman (Buffy: TVS)
Steven Williams (Jason Goes To Hell)
Bonita Friedericy (Chuck)
Alona Tal (Cult)
Tina Majorino (Scorpion)
Erica Gimpel (God Friended Me)
Anastasia Baranova (Z Nation)
Jonathan Bennett (Mean Girls)
Chris William Martin (The Vampire Diaries)
Megalyn Echikunwoke (That 70s Show)
Kevin Sheridan (Heart of Dixie)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half Men)
Max Greenfield (New Girl)
Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)
Christopher B. Duncan (Legacies)
Katie Leclerc (The Big Bang Theory)
Bridget Hoffman (Total Recall)
Anthony Anderson (Transformers)
Jowharah Jones (Ugly Betty)
Ken Merckx (Masked Rider)
Christine Lakin (Family Guy)
Adam Scott (Krampus)
Leighton Meester (The Roommate)
Alyson Hannigan (Buffy: TVS)
Cynthia LaMontagne (Austin Powers)
Zachery Ty Bryan (Home Improvement)
Erin Chambers (Stargate: Atlantis)
Ken Marino (Agent Carter)
Jonathan Taylor Thomas (Last Man Standing)
Theo Rossi (Luke Cage)
Joey Lauren Adams (Chasing Amy)
Roy Werner (Power Rangers Time Force)
Kyle Gallner (American Sniper)

Veronica Mars is set in Neptune, California, a town without a middle-class. Everyone’s either a millionaire or works for one, and the man largely responsible for Neptune’s unparalleled success is Jake Kane (Kyle Secor), the resident billionaire software mogul. Kane and his family are still reeling from the murder of his daughter Lilly (Amanda Seyfried) some months earlier, and as if that loss wasn’t enough, the beloved Kane family was doggedly pursued by a county sheriff convinced that they were hiding something. Public sentiment turned against Sheriff Keith Mars (Enrico Colantoni), who was ousted from office and abandoned by his wife.Kristen Bell and Jessica Chastain in Veronica Mars (2004)Cue the title character. His daughter Veronica (Kristen Bell) had already lost her best friend with Lilly’s death, but standing by her father also cost Veronica her friends, her social status, her house…even her mother. Veronica had already been unceremoniously dumped by Lilly’s brother Duncan (Teddy Dunn) shortly before her friend’s murder, and a defiant visit to face her former friends at a party weeks later led to Veronica being drugged and raped. Despite having lost so much, Veronica is resilient enough to move on with her life, and as her father struggles to stay afloat as a private eye, Veronica puts her smarts and determination to work to help ease the caseload at Mars Investigations. She also puts her talents to use to help her classmates with their troubles — for a price, of course. To cap it all off, Veronica’s faced with a couple of her own mysteries to solve. What convinced Lianne Mars to abandon her family, and where is she now? Who was it who drugged and raped Veronica last December? Also, is her father right — did someone other than disgruntled Kane Software employee Abel Koontz murder Lilly? If there is, who orchestrated the conspiracy that led to Koontz’ confession and why?Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)The dialogue in Veronica Mars has the same sparkle as Joss Whedon’s work…arguably better, even, since Buffy sometimes sounded like a deliberate attempt to be hip, whereas Veronica Mars manages to be witty and clever without feeling quite so forced. The writing doesn’t skew as young as one might expect from a TV show set in a high school. If anything, the target audience seems to be twentysomething — I don’t know how many fifteen year olds would be able to appreciate references to Archie comics or 21 Jump Street, f’r instance. Characterization is another strength of the series, and part of the reason Veronica Mars works as well as it does is that the audience truly does care about the characters. Despite having a seemingly endless array of talents, Veronica isn’t some sort of idyllic Mary Sue. She’s not always right. Her investigations frequently take morally questionable turns. Things don’t always go the way she wants. Not every episode has a happy ending.Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)Along with the cases that are solved in the space of forty minutes and change every week, a couple of mysteries are introduced in the pilot that are gradually explored throughout the entire length of the season. That’s right — unlike the hydra that is Lost, where answering one question spawns ten more, all of Veronica Mars’ mysteries are resolved by the time the season finale rolls around. (The finale tosses out a couple questions of its own, but if a second season hadn’t gotten the green light, it still would’ve been a fitting end to the series.)Veronica Mars has a capable cast to match the quality of the writing. Veronica is strong and cynical…bright and sarcastic…and even though all of the trauma she’s suffered over the past year has aged her somewhat, she’s still an emotionally vulnerable teenage girl.Kristen Bell and Alona Tal in Veronica Mars (2004)That’s a lot to juggle, but Kristen Bell is talented enough to make such a colossal task seem effortless and captivating enough to carry a show on her shoulders. Of course, Bell is joined by a strong enough supporting cast that she doesn’t have to shoulder it all herself.VM-S2D2_04After cutting down Wallace (Percy Daggs III), the new kid at school, who’d been stripped naked and duct taped to a flagpole, he and Veronica become best friends. In teen-TV land, it’s an immutable rule that people of different genders can’t just be pals…there’s this endless temptation to couple everyone. Veronica Mars manages to resist, resulting in one of the few platonic friendships like this left on television.Enrico Colantoni, who plays Veronica’s father, is another fan favorite, able to shift from warm, loving, and borderline-goofy to secretive and deadly serious when the situation calls for it. There’s also Eli “Weevil” Navarro (Francis Capra), the leader of a local biker gang from the wrong side of the tracks who engages in some mutual backscratching with Veronica.Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars (2004)The character who stands out the most — aside from Veronica, of course — is Logan Echolls (Jason Dohring). Like Kristen Bell, Dohring is endlessly engaging. He’s introduced as an “obligatory psychotic jackass”, but as the season progresses, Logan’s humanized without being watered-down; even when he’s doing something as thoroughly loathesome as bribing a homeless vet to join in on his homebrew Bumfights video, there’s an undercurrent of understanding why Logan is the way he is. The character changes throughout the season, but the shift feels deserved and natural, not just because that’s what’s scrawled on the whiteboard in the writing room.Other guest stars throughout the season include Napoleon Dynamite’s Tina Majorino as computer whiz Mac, Aaron Ashmore as a love interest with a shady past, Logan’s movie star family (played by Harry Hamlin, Lisa Rinna, and Alyson Hannigan), Anthony Anderson, Zachary Ty Brian, Joey Lauren Adams, Jonathan Taylor Thomas, and, in a shameless bit of stuntcasting, Paris Hilton. Kristen Bell and Francis Capra in Veronica Mars (2004)The fact that the second episode of Veronica Mars manages to be really good despite a Paris Hilton guest spot really is a testament to how good a series this is. Oh, and, in true Laura Palmer fashion, just because Lilly Kane is dead doesn’t mean that Amanda Seyfried can’t rear her head in nearly every other episode.The conclusion to most of the mysteries caught me by surprise. Throughout the entire season, the only time I correctly guessed the culprit was in “Lord of the Bling”, and even then, the motivation and execution were well out of my reach. The many twists the stories take are clever, and watching these episodes a second time, I could spot all sorts of clues and hints that didn’t seem that important the first time through. Veronica Mars is a series that’s easy to dive into as a marathon, but for viewers catching these episodes for the first time, I’d recommend drawing it out a bit.

REVIEW: THE GOOD PLACE – SEASON 3

Ted Danson, Kristen Bell, William Jackson Harper, Manny Jacinto, Jameela Jamil, and D'Arcy Carden in The Good Place (2016)

Starring

Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars)
William Jackson Harper (All Good Things)
Jameela Jamil (Ducktales)
D’Arcy Carden (Barry)
Manny Jacinto (Top Gun: Maverick)
Ted Danson (The Orville)

Kristen Bell and William Jackson Harper in The Good Place (2016)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids)
Adam Scott (Krampus)
Mike O’Malley (My Name Is Earl)
Marc Evan Jackson (Kong: Skull Island)
Eugene Cordero (The Mule)
Kirby Howell-Baptiste (Barry)
Ben Lawson (No Strings Attached)
Ben Geurens (Reign)
Leslie Grossman (Popular)
Anna Khaja (Quantico)
Ajay Mehta (Anger Managment)
Tiya Sircar (The Internship)
Michael McKean (This Is Spinal Tap)
Jama Williamson (School of Rock)
Stephen Merchant (Logan)
Jason Mantzoukas (The Dictator)
Maribeth Monroe (Downsizing)

Adam Scott and Kristen Bell in The Good Place (2016)After their down right incredible second season I was more than a little curious about how this season would turn out. The real joy of The Good Place is how every season is drastically different in content while still staying true to the shows sense of humor, core characters and themes of moral philosophy.Ted Danson and D'Arcy Carden in The Good Place (2016)Season 3 opts to explore the usual ideas of morality while on Earth, giving more great moments of the core group of humans interacting and learning together without so much of the original gimmick.Kristen Bell and Jameela Jamil in The Good Place (2016)The biggest positive of this show is how well written the interactions between the main cast are managing to be very funny while offering actual incite into the underlying philosophy of the show. By taking the characters out of the crazy afterlife setting for a large part of the season forces the writers to focus on this element and allows the actors to show of their comedic sensibilities. However I would be lying if I said that the later half of the season, where more of the absurd elements the show rose to prominence for came back into play more, wasn’t the more interesting part. I have to give props to the writers for trying something different though and I can’t wait to see where they take this concept next.Ted Danson and Kristen Bell in The Good Place (2016)This season is where the cast got to show off more. The character of Jason became far more realised, fleshed out and funny when he had more mundane concepts to deal with. Kristen Bell and William Jackson Harper got to flex their dramatic mussels for larger sections and D’arcy Carden absolutely crushes it in every episode, especially in episode 9 “Janet(s)”.Ted Danson and Kristen Bell in The Good Place (2016)With it’s emphasis on name-drooping actual philosophers and general upbeat and absurd tone, The Good Place continues to separate itself for most of it’s competition.

REVIEW: MONSTER-IN-LAW

CAST

Jennifer Lopez (Jersey Girl)
Michael Vartan (Alias)
Jane Fonder (Barberella)
Wana Sykes (Clerks 2)
Adam Scott (The Aviator)
Monet Mazur (Just Married)
Will Arnett (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Jimmy Jean-Louis (Heroes)

Christina Masterson (Power Rangers Megaforce)

John Aylward (Armageddon)
Elaine Stritch (30 Rock)
Bruce Gray (Cube 2)

Jennifer Lopez - monster-in-law Photo

Charlie Cantilini (Jennifer Lopez) is a temp/dog walker/yoga instructor and aspiring fashion designer from Venice Beach, California, who meets doctor Kevin Fields (Michael Vartan). She thinks he’s gay at first, based on a lie Kevin’s former girlfriend Fiona (Monet Mazur) told her. But then Kevin asks her out, and Charlie believes that she’s finally found the right man. Things start to go wrong when Kevin introduces Charlie to his mother, Viola Fields (Jane Fonda). Viola is a former newscaster who has recently been replaced by someone younger, and is in the midst of a meltdown. Loathing Charlie from the outset, Viola becomes even more distraught when Kevin proposes to Charlie. Fearing that she’ll lose her son the same way she lost her career, she sets out to ruin Kevin and Charlie’s relationship. With Ruby (Wanda Sykes), her assistant, she tries everything possible to drive Charlie away.

Jennifer Lopez - monster-in-law Photo

Charlie eventually catches on to Viola’s plan and fights back. On Charlie’s wedding day, Viola turns up wearing a white dress instead of the peach-colored dress specially made for her. This leads to a violent stand off between the two, leading with Viola refusing to accept Charlie and states she’ll never be good enough for Kevin. Suddenly, Viola’s own dreadful mother-in-law, Kevin’s grandmother, Gertrude Fields (Elaine Stritch), appears and they have an indignant argument, while Gertrude takes a liking to Charlie, saying she is stunning, her grandson is a lucky man, that she is an “exotic Latina”, and if only her son, Kevin’s father, was as lucky to find a woman like Charlie. Gertrude’s resentment of Viola bears a strong resemblance to Viola’s feelings of animosity toward Charlie. Gertrude even believes that Kevin’s father had died years ago of “terminal disappointment,” for which Gerturde holds Viola responsible. Viola counters stating Gertrude “smothered him to death” because she thought nobody was ever good enough for him(basically similar to how Viola is). Gertrude, satisfied she got her last word in, leaves; showing she still favors Charlie. Charlie decides to back down as she witnesses Gertrude and Viola’s relationship. “Nothing’s going to change,” she laments to Viola after Gertrude leaves the room, “In thirty years that will be us.”
Jennifer Lopez - monster-in-law Photo
Charlie exits to tell Kevin that the wedding is off. But before that can happen, Ruby enters and talks with Viola. Viola is miffed that Charlie compared her to Gertrude, although Ruby points out that Viola is actually far worse than Gertrude, as she doesn’t ever recall Gertrude trying to poison Viola once, referring to earlier at the rehearsal dinner when Viola put crushed nuts (which Charlie is highly allergic to) in the meal’s gravy. Ruby points out that Viola’s efforts against Charlie to make Kevin happy are unwarranted. “Whatever made you think he wasn’t?” is her final point. Viola has an epiphany and realizes that she wants Charlie to stay, and they reconcile, which ends the feud. Charlie then explains to Viola that she wants her to stay, too, on one condition: if Viola accepts the boundaries Charlie needs, if she is present at any family event, and if she treats her children with love. Charlie and Kevin then get married and when Charlie throws her wedding bouquet, Viola catches the flowers. As Charlie and Kevin drive away to their honeymoon, the film ends as Viola and Ruby walk out of the celebration.

Jennifer Lopez - monster-in-law Photo

The two central characters are both strong women so it makes for some big confrontations and funny moments as they try to get one-up on each other. There is a good support cast too. It is very enjoyable to watch on repeat viewings.

REVIEW: KNOCKED UP

 

CAST

Seth Rogen (Bad neighbours)
Katherine Heigl (27 Dresses)
Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)
Leslie Mann (17 Again)
Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother)
Jay Baruchel (This Is The End)
Jonah Hill (Cyrus)
Martin Starr (Veronica Mars)
Charlyne Yi (Cloverfield)
Harold Ramis (Year One)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Kristen Wiig (Zoolander 2)
Bill Hader (Superbad)
Ken Jeong (The Hangover)
Craig Robinson (Zack and Miri Make a Porno)
Adam Scott (Krampus)
J.P. Manoux (Birds of Prey)
Paul Feig (Spy)
Jessica Alba (Machete)
Steve Carell (Evan Almighty)
Andy Dick (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
James Franco (Spider-Man)
Eva Mendes (2 Fast 2 Furious)
Dax Shepard (Hit and Run)

Film Title:

The 40 Year Old Virgin took more than two hours to get its main character laid. In Knocked Up…? Fifteen minutes flat. It’s not that Ben Stone (Seth Rogen) was on the prowl or anything; fate just kinda got hammered and passed out in his lap. See, Alison Scott (Katherine Heigl) landed a gig as on-air talent at E!, and after celebrating a bit too hard, she wakes up the next morning to Ben’s hairy, pasty, bare ass poking out of her bedsheets. Ali groans to her sister (Leslie Mann) about making such a shameful mistake, while Ben darts home to brag to his stoner roommates as they slowly get their topless celebrity database off the ground.

Writer/director Judd Apatow doesn’t use Knocked Up as an excuse to toss in whatever dick jokes he’d been stockpiling for the past couple of years. He genuinely likes and respects these characters, and so much of what happens is drawn from his own experiences as a father-to-be that as hysterical as the movie often is, it also feels surprisingly real and sincere. Knocked Up treats pregnancy with quite a bit of gravity, and the way its characters fight — particularly between on-screen husband and wife Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann — can be unflinchingly cruel. Most filmmakers would water down the less glamorous side of love, romance, and parenthood or use them as a springboard for cheap, easy laughs, but Apatow is sharp enough to deftly balance the comedy with the drama.

The movie is perfectly cast. Katherine Heigl is a buxotic Amazon cut from the Russ Meyer cloth, sure, but she’s also sweet, somehow sympathetic no matter how much her character’s hormones may be raging, and sharp enough to hold her own with the rest of the cast. Seth Rogen joins a small army of Apatow regulars — name just about any project the prolific producer has shepherded over the past decade and chances are at least six people from it are in here somewhere — and it’s a breakout role for him. Ben is slovenly but kind of endearing at the same time, enough so that I could almost buy someone with Heigl’s good looks succumbing to his charms. His jaunt into adulthood feels natural and believable too, not just something in a montage penned by a screenwriter collecting a seven figure payday. There’s something about the fact that Ben’s roommates are played by actors who are all friends in real life that gives their loose, improvisational energy that much more spark.MV5BMTU3MTIzOTU3N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwOTM3ODc2._V1_Knocked Up didn’t strike me as the sort of instant classic so many people heralded it as, but I did enjoy it, and I’m kind of left with the impression that the movie will grow on me more and more its viewed.