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: JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK

CAST

Jason Mewes (Bottoms Up)
Kevin Smith (Daredevil)
Ben Affleck (Batman v Superman)
Jeff Anderson (Now You Know)
Brian O’Halloran (Vulgar)
Shannon Elizabeth (Scary Movie)
Eliza Dushku (Tru Calling)
Ali Larter (Heroes)
Jennifer Schwalbach Smith (Jersey Girl)
Will Ferrell (Elf)
Jason Lee (My Name Is earl)
Judd Nelson (Steel)
George Carlin (Dogma)
Carrie Fisher (Fanboys)
Seann William Scott (Welcome To The Jungle)
Jon Stewart (The Faculty)
Tracy Morgan (Cop Out)
Chris Rock (Madagascar)
Jamie Kennedy (Son of The Mask)
Wes Craven (Sceam)
Shannen Doherty (Mallrats)
Mark Hamill (The Flash)
Marc Blucas (Bufy: The Vampire Slayer)
Harley Quinn Smith (Yoga Hossers)
Diedrich Bader (American Hosuewife)
Scott Mosier (Clerks)
Bryan Johnson (Vulgar)
Renée Humphrey (Fun)
Joey Lauren Adams (Harvard man)
Dwight Ewell (Dogma)
Alanis Morissette (Top Wing)
James Van Der Beek (Dawnsons Creek)
Jason Biggs (American Pie)
Matt Damon (The Bourne Identity)
Scott William Winters (OZ)

Jay-and-Silent-Bob-Strike-Back-Main-ReviewAfter getting a restraining order from Randal Graves (Clerks) for selling drugs outside the Quick Stop, Jay and Silent Bob find out from Brodie Bruce (Mallrats) that Bluntman and Chronic, the comic book based on their likenesses, has been adapted into a film in production by Miramax Films. In response, the two see Holden McNeil (Chasing Amy), the co-writer of Bluntman and Chronic for the royalties of the film. However, Holden tells Jay and Silent Bob that he sold his part of the creative and publishing rights of the comic over to his former friend Banky Edwards. Upon learning of the film, as well as the negative reaction it has received so far on the Internet, the two set out on a quest to Hollywood, to prevent the film from being made and tainting their image, or at the very least receive the money from the royalties owed to them.
On the way, they befriend an animal liberation group, consisting of four women: Justice, Sissy, Missy, and Chrissy; and one man, Brent, who they had picked up for the cause. It is revealed that the organization is a front; Brent is a patsy, intended as a diversion by freeing an animal from a testing laboratory while the girls rob a diamond depository nearby. Jay tricks Brent and throws him out of the van in order to get closer to Justice, with whom he is smitten. Justice, who becomes close to Jay and Silent Bob (particularly the former), reluctantly accepts the two as the new patsies. While the girls are robbing the diamond depository they accidentally set off the alarm, prompting them to break the glass and steal the diamonds. While this is going on Jay and Silent Bob free the animals and take an orangutan named Suzanne with them. They escape outside to see the police arriving and the van exploding, which they believe has killed the girls.Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001)Jay then takes the orangutan with him as a memorial to Justice. Quickly afterwards, Federal Wildlife Marshal Willenholly (whose name is taken from the three characters in the TV show Land of the Lost: Marshal, Will and Holly) shows up at the scene. Blinded to the diamond heist, he claims to have jurisdiction because of the large number of animals that escaped. He learns that all the animals have been recovered except for the orangutan. The officers then find and watch footage of a video Sissy recorded of Jay making remarks about “the clit”, claiming to be “the Clit commander.” The literature accompanying the tape says that “Clit” is an acronym for Coalition for the Liberation of Itinerant Tree-Dwellers. Willenholly blindly finds this as an act of terrorism and calls for police support to hunt down what he considered “the two most dangerous men on the planet.”
When the officers later have the trio cornered inside a diner and threaten to open fire, Jay and Silent Bob dress the orangutan as a child and walk out, claiming that they want to get their “son” out of the danger zone. Willenholly, thinking about the political repercussions of arresting a gay couple, decides to let them leave, but he quickly realizes his mistake and resumes the chase. When they jump into a sewer system, only Willenholly himself follows them while the other police officers, led by the Sheriff, leave him, and he is soon tricked into jumping off of a dam. Having escaped the law, Jay and Silent Bob once again return to their quest to reach Hollywood, only to have Suzanne taken by a Hollywood animal acting agency car. Now on a quest to get their ape back and to clear their names, the two once again embark to Hollywood.

On their arrival in Hollywood, the two find themselves in the background of an E! News newscast (ironically about their threat against Miramax on the Internet) that Justice is watching. While Justice takes the diamonds and goes to Hollywood to set things right, Marshal Willenholly learns of their mission to reach Hollywood and leaves to find them.
After a long chase with studio security and reclaiming Suzanne from a fictional Scream 4 in production, Jay and Silent Bob end up in Jason Biggs and James Van Der Beek’s dressing room, where they quickly realize that these are the actors that will play the roles of Bluntman and Chronic. Suzanne beats both of them up effortlessly and Jay and Silent Bob assume the roles of their characters. Production staff throw them on stage with racist director Chaka Luther King, and they must engage in a duel with Mark Hamill playing a comic book supervillain called Cocknocker. jaysilentbob4png.pngEventually Willenholly arrives to capture Jay and Silent Bob, but Justice arrives to save them. Justice admits that the CLIT organization was not real and that the two were used as a diversion while she, Missy, Sissy and Chrissy, were stealing jewels. As the rest of jewel thieves arrive, a climactic final battle ensues, after which Jay and Silent Bob get their royalties to the film from Banky, and Justice turns herself and her former team in to Willenholly in exchange for a shorter sentence and letting Jay and Silent Bob go.  The film ends with Jay and Silent Bob spending their royalty to locate everyone who expressed negative opinions on the internet about the movie and characters, ranging from kids to clergy, and traveling to their towns to beat them up. The scene then cuts to everyone leaving a movie theater, having just watched the Bluntman and Chronic movie and expressing negative reception: Hooper X calls the film a “one 90-minute-long gay joke.” Jay and Silent Bob, with Justice and Willenholly, then go across the street to enjoy a performance from Morris Day and The Time. After the credits, God closes the View Askewniverse book.I love Jay and Silent Bob,Kevin Smith is an amazing director/writer and since arriving on the scene with Clerks the adventures on the king of stoners Jay and Bob have got better and better. This film is just laugh out loud gags from start to finish with so many massive stars putting in cameos including Chris Rock who is brilliant in his small role in the film It also features Will Ferrell as a wildlife marshall with half a brain. A must have for Kevin Smith fans and comedy fans alike

REVIEW: CHASING AMY

CAST
Ben Affleck (Argo)
Jason Lee (My Name Is Earl)
Joey Lauren Adams (Harvard Man)
Dwight Ewell (Dogma)
Scott Mosier (Clerks)
Casey Affleck (Gone Baby Gone)
Ethan Suplee (Fanboys)
Brian O’Halloran (Vulgar)
Matt Damon (Elysium)
Jason Mewes (R.S.V.P.)
Kevin Smith (Scream 3)
Illeana Douglas (Ugly Betty)
Joey Lauren Adams stars as Alyssa JonesHolden McNeil (Ben Affleck) and Banky Edwards (Jason Lee) are comic book artists and lifelong friends. Holden is the friendly, more mild-mannered half of the duo; Banky, meanwhile, is the loud and fiery half. Everything is going well for them until they meet fellow comic book artist Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams) at a comic book convention in New York where they are promoting their comic Bluntman and Chronic. Holden is attracted to Alyssa, but soon learns that she is attracted to women. The two begin hanging out, and a deep friendship develops. Eventually, Holden is no longer able to contain his feelings, and confesses his love to Alyssa. She is initially angry with him, but that night, the two begin a romantic relationship.
This new development worsens the tension between Holden and Banky, who hates and mistrusts Alyssa and is disturbed by her and Holden’s relationship. Banky investigates and uncovers dirt on Alyssa’s past, and he reports to Holden that Alyssa participated in a threesome with two guys during high school, which gave her the nickname “Finger Cuffs”. Holden is deeply upset by this revelation, having previously believed that he is the first man Alyssa had ever slept with. He angrily confronts Alyssa while attending a hockey game, and clumsily attempts baiting her into confessing. During a tearful argument, she tells Holden about her “many” youthful sexual experimentations. She apologizes for letting him believe that he was the only man she had been with. However, she refuses to apologize for her past, and Holden leaves feeling disillusioned and furious.

Later, during lunch with Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith), Silent Bob reveals that he was once in a relationship similar to Holden’s. Despite the fact that he was in love with his girlfriend, Amy, his neurosis about her adventurous sexual past caused him to sabotage the relationship and leave her. Angry at himself for letting her go, he has “spent every day since then chasing Amy, so to speak.” Moved by Silent Bob’s story, Holden devises a plan to fix both his relationship with Alyssa and his estranged friendship with Banky. He invites them both over and tells Alyssa that he would like to get over her past and remain her boyfriend. He also tells Banky that he realizes that Banky is in love with him—kissing him passionately to prove the point. Holden suggests a threesome. Though initially shocked, Banky agrees to participate, whereas Alyssa explains to Holden that it will not save their relationship. Before leaving, she states that she loves him, but she will not be his “whore.” Banky also leaves the apartment, instantly ending their friendship.Ben Affleck and Joey Lauren Adams in Chasing Amy (1997)One year later, both Banky and Holden are busy promoting their own respective comics at a convention in New York. It is revealed that Holden has dissolved their partnership over Bluntman and Chronic, leaving the viewer with the assumption that he sold the publishing and creative rights over to Banky (which is corroborated in the beginning of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back). Banky smiles sadly at seeing his old friend, who silently congratulates him for his success on his own comic. Banky gestures over to a booth hosted by Alyssa, and provides wordless encouragement to Holden to go talk to her. He has a brief, quietly emotional conversation with Alyssa, and gives her a copy of Chasing Amy, his new comic based on their failed relationship. After Holden leaves, Alyssa’s new girlfriend (Virginia Smith) arrives and asks who she was talking to. A shaken, misty-eyed Alyssa feigns indifference and replies, “Oh, just some guy I knew.”

Ben Affleck and Joey Lauren Adams in Chasing Amy (1997)Seldom do you see a movie that mixes humour and love in such a way that it both makes you wet yourself laughing and feel a strong connection with the plot.  The plot is pretty straight forward but the quality of the writing is the thing that sets it a part from the rest of the films of its ink. Affleck and Adams pull off terrific performances as the lovers, Affleck in particular performs one of the best roles he has ever done on  film. But Jason Lee steals the show once again (much like Jeff Anderson in Clerks) as the jealous best friend.

 

REVIEW: MALLRATS

CAST
Shannen Doherty (Heathers)
Jeremy London (Party of Five)
Jason Lee (My Name Is Earl)
Claire Forlani (Antitrust)
Ben Affleck (Gone Girl)
Joey Lauren Adams (Harvard Man)
Renée Humphrey (Drawing Flies)
Jason Mewes (R.S.V.P.)
Ethan Suplee (Raising Hope)
Stan Lee (The Avengers)
Priscilla Barnes (The Devils Rejects)
Michael Rooker (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Brian O’Halloran (Vulgar)
Kevin Smith (Daredevil)
Sven-Ole Thorsen (Gladiator)
Bryan Johnson (Vulgar)
Scott Mosier (Clerks)
mallrats-london-suplee-lee
The day prior to the events of Clerks, college student T.S. Quint (Jeremy London) is preparing for a trip to Universal Studios in Florida with Brandi Svenning (Claire Forlani), during which he plans to propose to her; however, Brandi tells him she cannot go because she has volunteered to fill in as a contestant on Truth or Date, her father’s dating game show. They argue over this and eventually break up. T.S. turns to his best friend Brodie Bruce (Jason Lee), who has also broken up with his girlfriend, Rene Mosier (Shannen Doherty), after having an argument, and Brodie suggests the two might find comfort at the local mall.
Brodie and T.S. discover Truth or Date is being filmed at the same mall, through their friend Willam (Ethan Suplee, who throughout the movie tries to see a sailboat in a Magic Eye poster), and ask local drug dealers Jay and Silent Bob (Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith, respectively) to destroy the show’s stage, a task for which they devise elaborate but ultimately unsuccessful plans. These actions result in the two being pursued by mall security guard LaFours (Sven-Ole Thorsen), but they are able to escape him. Brodie finds out Rene began a relationship with his enemy Shannon Hamilton (Ben Affleck), a clothing store manager who hates Brodie because of his “lack of a shopping agenda.” Brodie confronts Rene to find out more about her relationship with Shannon, and the two have sex in an elevator. Brodie is later abducted and attacked by Shannon, who intends to have sex with Rene in a “very uncomfortable place”, a reference to anal sex. (As a running joke, this is interpreted as the “back of a Volkswagen”.) As a result of this incident, Jay and Silent Bob assault the mall’s Easter Bunny, under the incorrect assumption that he attacked Brodie.
Brandi’s father, Jared (Michael Rooker), who is aware of Brodie and T.S’s presence at the mall, has the two arrested on false charges of drug possession. Jay and Silent Bob are able to rescue Brodie and T.S. and are once again able to evade LaFours. Meanwhile, Brodie and T.S. seek refuge at a local flea market, where they meet fortune teller Ivannah (Priscilla Barnes). T.S. decides to win Brandi back and the two return to the mall.
Before the show begins, Brodie receives advice on romance from Stan Lee, who was visiting the mall. After this, Brodie requests that his friend Tricia Jones retrieve footage of her having sex with Shannon. Tricia herself was doing a project in which she had sex with a number of male adults, despite being only 15 years old, for a book about the sex drive of men. Meanwhile, T.S. also persuades Jay to get two of the game show contestants stoned, which allow him and Brodie to replace them on Truth or Date. The initial plan was all three contestants but the third one, Gil Hicks, showed up late, and Brodie and T.S. must go on with him.
During the show (which Brodie continuously heckles by telling bizarre stories), Brandi recognizes the voices of Brodie and T.S., and an on-air argument between the three ensues. Brodie tells Brandi that T.S. had spent all day trying to win her back. T.S. then proposes to Brandi, which she accepts. As the police arrive to arrest T.S. and Brodie after the show is over, Silent Bob plays a sex tape of Shannon and Tricia, resulting in his arrest for statutory rape. Brodie and Rene renew their relationship as a result.
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The conclusion reveals that T.S. marries Brandi, Tricia’s book is a bestseller, Shannon is imprisoned, Willam eventually does see the sailboat, and Brodie becomes the host of The Tonight Show (with Rene as his bandleader) after impressing the show’s producers with his stage banter. Jay and Silent Bob are also shown with a monkey named Suzanne, which promises to be “another story” (told in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back).
This film is excellent, and it’s easy to see why Kevin Smith and his Jay and Silent Bob characters are such cult figures. Very funny from start to finish.