REVIEW: OUR IDIOT BROTHER

CAST

Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)
Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games)
Zooey Deschanel (New Girl)
Emily Mortimer (Lars and The Real girl)
Steeve Coogan (Alan Partridge)
Rashida Jones (The Muppets)
Adam Scott (Krampus)
Kathryn Hahn (Bad Moms)
T.J. Miller (Deadpool)
Shirley Knight (As Good As It gets)
Hugh Dancy (Hannibal)
Janet Montgomery (Black Swan)
Sterling K. Brown (Black Panther)
Julie White (Transformers)
Wrenn Schmidt (For All Mankind)

Ned Rochlin (Paul Rudd) is a biodynamic farmer living with his girlfriend, Janet (Kathryn Hahn). While selling produce at a local market, Ned sells marijuana to a uniformed police officer due to the officer’s claim that he had a stressful week, which made Ned feel sympathetic after initially being skeptical. Ned is then arrested on a charge of selling drugs.Ned has three sisters: Miranda (Elizabeth Banks) the middle sister, is a journalist for Vanity Fair trying to get her first major article published. Though she has trouble finding a man to keep her interest, she and a neighbor, Jeremy (Adam Scott) have hidden feelings for each other. Natalie (Zooey Deschanel), the youngest, is an independent, bisexual hipster living with her girlfriend, Cindy (Rashida Jones), and five other roommates. Liz (Emily Mortimer), the oldest, is married to Dylan (Steve Coogan), a documentary filmmaker. Their marriage is failing as Dylan shows no sexual or emotional interest in Liz. They also have strict control over their son River (Matthew Mindler), which leaves him unhappy and unable to express himself.When Ned is released from prison, he returns home to his girl and his dog (“Willie Nelson”). He finds that she is living with Billy (T. J. Miller), and no longer wishes to continue their relationship or allow him to work at the farm. Billy gives Ned a ride into town and tells him that if he can scrape together $1000 for the first 2 months rent, Janet might let him stay in the goat barn behind the farm. Ned initially stays at his mother’s house but a few days later shows up at Liz’s place, asking if he can stay with her. He is put in River’s room and told that he must help around the house and work with Dylan on his newest documentary about a Russian ballerina named Tatiana (Lydia Haug).The next day, Miranda reluctantly asks Ned to chauffeur while she interviews an important client, Lady Arabella (Janet Montgomery). Miranda hopes to pry into her scandalous past, but is dismayed to learn of a legal agreement to only ask about charity work. Miranda tries to pretend Ned isn’t there, but his friendliness charms Arabella, who takes a liking to him. That night, Ned goes with Natalie to a self-help meeting with Natalie’s artist friend, Christian (Hugh Dancy). Christian is attracted to Natalie but is dissuaded by her lesbian relationship until Ned informs him that she is bisexual and likes guys too. Christian and Natalie take a cab home and end up having sex.Ned goes back to working with Dylan, but is told to watch the car while Dylan conducts a private interview with Tatiana. Hours later, Ned is told by a police officer to move out of a tow zone. Running upstairs to get the keys he discovers Dylan naked with Tatiana. Dylan later says the only reason he was naked was to make Tatiana feel more “comfortable” while being naked, which Ned believes. The next night, Ned goes with Miranda to Arabella’s benefit dinner, and stays behind to have a conversation with Arabella. She explains the gossipy part of her life (that Miranda had hoped to discover) to Ned, who listens with interest. Ned is later kicked out of Liz’s house because, at an important school interview, River tells the interviewer that Ned just got out of jail for selling drugs to a policeman. Ned apologizes, stating he was only trying to help River be himself. Now staying with Miranda, Ned casually mentions Dylan’s nude interview with Tatiana and Miranda concludes that Dylan is having an affair. Ned also mentions a personal detail about Arabella that makes Miranda realize that Ned has the info she needs. She forces Ned to tell her the details, which Ned is ashamed to do since he was trusted. Ned returns to the farm with the rent money but Janet doesn’t allow him to rent the barn, or leave with his dog.Ned asks Cindy, who is a lawyer, about ways to get custody of his dog but she suggests as an alternative that they work together to simply take the dog from Janet. He later goes out to lunch with Jeremy and hints at Jeremy’s attraction towards his sister. Jeremy explains that Miranda is too bossy for him, though admitting she is beautiful. Ned mentions the idea to Miranda, who is hurt to learn what Jeremy had to say and tells Ned her thoughts on Jeremy, leading to a fight between the two. Natalie later confides in Ned that she is pregnant. Miranda and Nat try to tell Liz about Dylan’s affair but Liz becomes angry and the conversation turns into an argument between the three about their personal lives. Liz later confronts Dylan about the affair, and he blames her attempts at pleasing him. Liz is angry that he is blaming her for his infidelity, and divorces him.Miranda takes Ned into work the next day as she needs him to vouch for the veracity of her article. Ned reads the article but doesn’t want to sign a release as he knows Arabella had told him the details in confidence. The editor calls in the company lawyer and decide they can’t publish Miranda’s article without Ned vouching for it, which he refuses to do. She kicks Ned out and he stays with Nat, who lies about having told Cindy about the cheating. The next morning, Cindy and Ned drive to the farm to steal his dog back. They sneak into the house but Ned casually brings up Nat’s infidelity and Cindy angrily calls Nat from inside the house, which alerts Janet to their presence. Janet refuses to give Ned his dog and Cindy drives away, leaving Ned behind.Ned goes to his parole officer, Omar, and thinking he can trust him, tells him that the stress of his life was getting to him and he smoked marijuana with a neighbor. Omar tells Ned now he must report him. Ned goes home to a family dinner and is blamed by his sisters for all the trouble in their lives. Ned finally loses his temper and yells at them for their selfishness and for bringing everyone else down which seems to strike a chord with them. Omar arrives with an officer to reluctantly take Ned into custody. Miranda posts Ned’s bail, but he refuses to sign his release form, opting to stay in prison rather than be with the girls. They devise a plan to get Willie Nelson from Janet in order to get him to leave. Although Janet refuses, Billy comes out of the house carrying Willie Nelson, tired of Janet refusing to give Ned his dog. They take Willie Nelson to the prison where he is reunited with Ned, motivating him to leave prison.A few weeks later, Ned is out to lunch with his sisters. Nat receives a call from Cindy, who wants to go with Nat to her gynecologist appointments for support. Miranda has patched things up and started a relationship with Jeremy. Liz has decided to start dating again and has started letting River be himself. Meanwhile, Ned and Billy have opened up a small homemade candle shop together. One day, Ned cannot find Willie Nelson and begins running through town looking for him. He finds Willie playing with another dog who has also run away from her owner. The owner comes up and when Ned asks her dog’s name, she replies “Dolly Parton” to which Ned says his dog is “Willie Nelson”, and they both smile.A fun ride throughout, the film only has a couple of weak spots. But still an entertaining Comedy.

 

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: STEP BROTHERS

CAST

Will Ferrell (The Other Guys)
John C. Reilly (Guardians of The galaxy)
Richard Jenkins (Burn After Reading)
Mary Steenburgen (Elf)
Adam Scott (Krampus)
Kathryn Hahn (The Dictator)
Andrea Savage (Izombie)
Ken Jeong (The Hangover)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Seth Rogen (Bad Neighbours)
Rob Riggle (21 Jump Street)
Jason Davis (Reprisal)
Gillian Vigman (Date Night)
Matt Walsh (Ted)

12252_439-year-old Brennan Huff and 40-year-old Dale Doback are men-children still living at home. Brennan lives with his mother, Nancy; and Dale has been living with his father, Robert; the parents meet and fall in love. Robert and Nancy get married, forcing Brennan and Dale to live with each other as step brothers. Brennan and Dale dislike each other, blaming the other for interfering with their lifestyles. Brennan plays Dale’s drum set and a brawl on the front lawn ensues. They are grounded for a week and they must find jobs within a month or they will be forced out of the house.
65647-1When Brennan’s younger brother Derek, a helicopter leasing agent, comes to visit with his family, he mocks their unsuccessful lives and being spoiled brats, which entices Dale to punch him in the face. Brennan is awed that Dale stood up to Derek, while Derek’s wife Alice finds Dale’s courage a turn on, beginning a sexual affair between the two. Brennan and Dale use the incident to discover their shared interests and develop a brotherly friendship. Robert schedules several job interviews for Brennan and Dale, who offend the interviewers with their disrespectful attitudes. Robert and Nancy reveal their plans to retire and sail the world on Robert’s boat and allow Derek to sell the house, and demand that Brennan and Dale attend therapy and find other living arrangements.
downloadDale and Brennan decide to start an entertainment company, “Prestige Worldwide”. They present their first music video at Derek’s birthday party, which includes footage of them accidentally wrecking Robert’s boat. Robert refuses to make an investment and spanks Brennan after a heated verbal exchange between the two. On Christmas Day, Robert announces he wants to divorce Nancy, causing Brennan and Dale to break down. Blaming each other for their parents’ divorce, the boys fight, but they decide to go their separate ways. Brennan works for Derek’s helicopter leasing firm and Dale works for a catering company. Weeks later, Brennan and Dale are fully mature adults and are becoming successful.
Hilde-and-her-Scooby-gang-minBrennan manages the Catalina Wine Mixer for Derek’s company and invites Robert and Nancy. They hire the catering company for which Dale works. The party is a success, until the lead singer of Uptown Girl, a 1980s Billy Joel cover band, responds to a man in the crowd by using explicit profanity, and is removed from the event. With the stage empty, Derek fires Brennan for the singer’s mishap, Robert ultimately encourages Brennan and Dale to be their eccentric child-at-heart selves again. Brennan and Dale take the stage and perform “Con Te Partiro.” Derek is so moved by the performance that he and Brennan make amends. Dale terminates his affair with Alice to her dismay.
STEP BROTHERSSix months later, Robert and Nancy are reunited and move back into their old home. Brennan and the therapist Denise get married, while Brennan and Dale form a successful entertainment company that runs karaoke events. Robert has his boat repaired and put in the backyard. In a mid-credits scene, Brennan and Dale stand up to a group of bullies from a middle school who abused Dale a year before. In a post-credits scene, Brennan and Dale sleepwalk once more.STEP BROTHERSThis is a great comedy. Will Ferrell and John C Reilly are hilarious as adult step brothers who refuse to grow up! There are some brilliant laugh out loud moments and some cracking scenes. I love the Job interview scenes and when Brennon burys Dale in the garden during an argument, hilarious. If you want a laugh you will find loads here