25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: THE CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA – A MIDWINTERS TALE

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Starring

Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men)
Ross Lynch (Muppets Most Wanted)
Lucy Davis (Wonder Woman)
Chance Perdomo (Killed By Debt)
Michelle Gomez (Bad Education)
Jaz Sinclair (Slender Man)
Tati Gabrielle (The 100)
Adeline Rudolph
Richard Coyle (5 Day of War)
Miranda Otto (Lord of The Rings)

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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Abigail F. Cowen (Stranger Things)
Heather Doerksen (The Uninvited)
Mckenna Grace (Young Sheldon)
Adrian Hough (The Fog)
Brian Markinson (Sanctuary)
Annette Reilly (I’ll Be Home For Christmas)
Christopher Rosamond (Siren)

sabrina-midwinter4Considering the first season of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina delighted in toppling the patriarchy and undercutting nostalgia, in between proclamations of “Praise Satan,” it should come as no surprise that the Netflix holiday special takes a relatively unsentimental view of Christmas — or, rather, solstice. It’s a time for family, both living and dead, but it’s also a dangerous time, when mischievous spirits scurry down the chimney, demons kidnap children, and transgressions are forgiven, but not necessarily forgotten. In short, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Winter’s Tale is ideal viewing for fans who can’t stomach another saccharine Christmas episode that shovels on platitudes like so much December snow. There’s probably a moral to be gleaned here, but any excessive sweetness is tempered by sentiments like, “Satan bless us, every one!”sabrina-midwinter7However, “A Winter’s Tale” isn’t a standalone episode that can serve as a welcoming introduction to Sabrina. It’s directly connected to the events of the first season, and some of its threads will no doubt continue into the second. A platinum-haired Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) remains distant from her mortal friends, determined to give them time to come to terms with the revelation that she’s a witch. That won’t be easy for Harvey Kinkle (Ross Lynch), who admits he still sees his undead brother every time he looks her. Aunt Zelda (Miranda Otto) is trying to settle into her new life as a mother to Letitia, the infant she secreted away from Father Blackwood, while cousin Ambrose (Chance Perdomo) slowly stretches his wings now that he’s no longer on house arrest. Then there’s the demonic Mary Wardwell (Michelle Gomez), who’s desperate to learn why Satan has seemingly forsaken, yet still up to her old tricks.sabrina-midwinter8aAppropriate to the season, “A Winter’s Tale” leans hard into the Yuletide folklore of Iceland and Central Europe, with key roles for the mischievous Yule Lads, a version of the giantess Gyra, and Krampus, or at least his not-too-distant cousin. They provide another layer to the developing mythos of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, while adding a nice holiday touch. But as fun as they are, they’re merely garland; the centerpiece is, of course, is Sabrina and her friends and family. The episode serves those characters well, carving out room for them to grow, even if they don’t always learn in each instance. Sabrina, for example, determines her friends’ new boundaries, only to promptly overstep them with her present to Harvey and her well-meaning attempt to help his hard-drinking father. Driven to reconnect with her dead mother, whom she encountered in Limbo, she enlists the Weird Sisters to help perform a seance, with predictably disastrous results. But while Sabrina appears doomed to repeat her mistakes, Harvey learns from his, and decides he can’t allow any witchcraft — even the beneficial kind — around him, which promises to further complicate their already fraught relationship.Sabrina-Christmas-EpisodeLikewise, Zelda’s heart-breaking conclusion about baby Letitia, which exposes an emotional depth to the frequently cold auntie previously only glimpsed, is certain to have a ripple effect across Season 2. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Winter’s Tale is, at turns, joyful, somber and spooky, but never, ever cloying, with an ending that’s immediately relatable to anyone (whether witch or mortal) who’s had to muster a semblance of holiday cheer for the benefit of loved ones. Because, really, isn’t that what solstice is about — family, friends … and home invasion?

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REVIEW: THE CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA – SEASON 1

Kiernan Shipka in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018)

Starring

Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men)
Ross Lynch (Muppets Most Wanted)
Lucy Davis (Wonder Woman)
Chance Perdomo (Killed By Debt)
Michelle Gomez (Bad Education)
Jaz Sinclair (Slender Man)
Tati Gabrielle (The 100)
Adeline Rudolph
Richard Coyle (5 Day of War)
Miranda Otto (Lord of The Rings)

Miranda Otto, Lucy Davis, and Kiernan Shipka in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Bronson Pinchot (Lois & CLark)
Abigail F. Cowen (Stranger Things)
Adrian Hough (The Fog)
Gavin Leatherwood (Wicked Enigma)
Justin Dobies (Get The Girl)

Kiernan Shipka in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018)The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is the latest incarnation of a long-running teen archetype — the half-witch, half-human, all-American girl, fighting to grow up on her own terms and being front and center in an ever-mutating story about girldom and its discontents. Every iteration is different — the Archie comic book, the groovy Seventies cartoon, the post-Sassy Melissa Joan Hart 1990s sitcom, the macabre new Netflix thriller. Like A Star Is Born, it’s a story gets told over and over, because each generation’s Sabrina has a new tale to tell. But there’s always the premise there’s something inherently occult about being a teenage girl in a hostile world — that growing up female means living a secret life the straight world will never know.Michelle Gomez, Kiernan Shipka, Ross Lynch, Jaz Sinclair, and Lachlan Watson in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018)And the superb Chilling Adventures is the first version that’s an outright horror story. Showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa takes the Archie Comics milieu and gives it a dark and edgy makeover, as he did on the CW’s fabulously lurid Riverdale. Mad Men‘s Kiernan Shipka is a truly fearsome teen, trapped in the interzone between high school and the netherworld. This time, instead of tangling with Britney or N’Sync, she’s taking on her devil-worshipping coven and its misogynistic satanic patriarch. “This is totally the Sabrina for 2018, in so many ways,” Shipka told Variety. “She’s a woke witch.”Kiernan Shipka in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018)Sabrina started out as just another bit player in the Archie Comics universe. She made a brief Archie’s Madhouse appearance in in 1962, when it hard to say if America was more terrified of “teenage” or “witch.” But tellingly, she never came into her own as a Sixties character, and didn’t get her own comic book until 1971, after the show became a hit — it was TV, not the comics, where Sabrina blew up into an icon. Her story really starts with the 1970 Saturday-morning cartoon, from the era of Scooby Doo or Josie and the Pussycats. She’s just another fun-loving student at Riverdale High who keeps her witchcraft a secret, hanging with Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead and the gang. The occult was huge on kiddie TV at the time, from the Groovie Goolies to The Funky Phantom, but there was something about Sabrina that set her off as a star. She lives in a haunted mansion with her old-school witch aunts, bubbling cauldrons and all, though she uses her ear-tugging magic to battle the forces of evil or just flip the record on the turntable. As the theme song explains, “Her magic power can get her out of trouble!”Miranda Otto, Richard Coyle, Lucy Davis, Kiernan Shipka, Tati Gabrielle, Abigail F. Cowen, and Adeline Rudolph in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018)The next Sabrina debuted in September 1996 — one of the decade’s funniest and realest teen shows. Melissa Joan Hart, already familiar from Clarissa Explains It All For You, lived her so-called life with a couple of Lilith Fair-era feminist aunties and the gayest cat in TV history, a glorious feline bitch queen named Salem. It was full of the uncoy feminism that saturated Nineties girl culture, with guests from Da Brat to Blondie to Britney Spears. Melissa and Britney teamed up for the epochal 1999 “You Drive Me Crazy” video — clearly a friendship too perfect for this world.Kiernan Shipka in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2018)Of all the Nineties’ teen superheroines from Buffy the Vampire Slayer to The Powerpuff Girls, the sitcom’s Sabrina had the most authentic ordinariness. It wasn’t a dark show — it was full of Nineties optimism that these young women were about to take over the world and get their due. (Broomsticks are so last century.) Like the time that Sabrina sneaks off with her friends to a Violent Femmes show — “classic Eighties rockers!” Gordon Gano serenades the girls with “Please Please Please Do Not Go,” after she dazzles him by casting a “half-hour infatuation spell.” The aunts are proud of how Sabrina behaves herself, so they let her take her first solo flight. The perfect song blasts on the soundtrack: Liz Phair’s “Supernova.” Sabrina’s face is pure joy as she surfs the astral plain on her vacuum cleaner, bopping to Liz’s guitar. In a way, this episode sums up all the best hopes and dreams of American pop culture in the Nineties, just as The X-Files‘ “Memories of a Cigarette Smoking Man” summed up what we feared about ourselves. Patriarchy was a nightmare Sabrina was waking up from, along with the rest of Gen X. We believed teen witches were our future.chilling-adventures-of-sabrina-season-1-spoiler-free-review-sabrina-harveyThe Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a darker show, for darker times — the optimism of the 1970s or 1990s versions would look absurd now. This is Resistance Sabrina. For the first time, our heroine has male authority figures running amok in the witch culture she’s inherited. Shilpa’s supernatural adolescent has to battle jock bullies at her human high school, but she also has to battle the Dark Lord, who wants her to sign herself over to him in the Book of the Beast. She belongs to a coven called the Church of Night, who are heavily into devil worship with human sacrifices and flesh-eating. She also attends the Academy of Unseen Arts, where she’s menaced by high priest Father Blackwood (Richard Coyle) and a trio of mean girls inevitably known as the Weird Sisters (the excellent Tati Gabrielle, Adeline Rudolph and Abigail Cowen). And just as the 1990s version had Paul Feig as her high school teacher, now her principal is Bronson Pinchot, from that show’s TGIF predecessor Perfect Strangers.Screen-Shot-2018-10-03-at-10.43.00-AM-1000x570Shipka has the gravitas to make this Sabrina the toughest yet, a violent femme who comes on like Joan of Arc crashing into a mastermix of Harry Potter and The Craft. Shipka broke out of Mad Men as Sally, Don Draper’s reckless daughter. She became one of that show’s biggest revelations, the rarer-than-rare case of a child performer who grew up into a real actress, capable of pushing the drama further. (When the series began, there’s no possible way anyone could have guessed how lucky they got casting Shipka — her chops made the historic heights of Seasons Four and Five possible.) And just like Sally Draper, her Sabrina is growing up well-versed in the evil that men do. In Chilling Adventures, she’s visibly realizing she’s going to fighting this battle long after high school is over — a young woman already steeling herself to be the bad-ass senior-citizen witch she knows she’ll have to be. This Netflix I-love-you-but-I’ve-chosen-darkness YA scream is more than just a great high-school horror trip. It proudly carries on 50 years of teenage witch tradition.

31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN REVIEW: SHAUN OF THE DEAD

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CAST
Simon Pegg (Star Trek)
Nick Frost (Snow White & The Huntsman)
Kate Ashfield (Spivs)
Lucy Davis (Ugly Betty)
Dylan Moran (Notting Hill)
Peter Serafinowicz (Spy)
Rafe Spall (Prometheus)
Bill Nighy (Underworld)
Martin Freeman (The Hobbit)
Shaun (Simon Pegg) is a 29-year-old electronics shop salesman with no direction in life. His younger colleagues show him no respect, he has a strained relationship with his stepfather, Phillip (Bill Nighy), and a tense one with his housemate Pete (Peter Serafinowicz) because of Ed (Nick Frost), Shaun’s other housemate and vulgar, unemployed best friend. Furthermore, Shaun’s girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) dislikes their social life as they spend every date at the Winchester, Shaun and Ed’s favourite pub. Because Shaun always brings Ed, Liz is always forced to bring her flatmates, David (Dylan Moran) and Dianne (Lucy Davis). After a bad day at work, Shaun forgets to book a table at a nice restaurant, and after suggesting the Winchester again Liz breaks up with him. Shaun drowns his sorrows with Ed at the Winchester. While celebrating at home, an enraged Pete — suffering from a bite wound caused by “some crackheads” — confronts Shaun on his flaws, telling him to sort his life out.
The next morning, a zombie apocalypse has overwhelmed the city, but Shaun is too busy dealing with his hangover to notice. He and Ed discover a female zombie in their backyard, but assume she is just drunk until she survives being impaled on a pipe. Another zombie makes its way into the garden, and Shaun and Ed run back inside. They learn more about the outbreak by watching the news and kill the two zombies (and another zombie that slips in through the front door) with blows to the head. The two decide to rescue Shaun’s mother, Barbara (Penelope Wilton), and Liz so they can wait out the crisis in the Winchester.
Shaun and Ed escape in Pete’s car and pick up Barbara and Phillip — who has been bitten — and then switch vehicles after Ed deliberately crashes Pete’s car for Phillip’s Jaguar. They then head over to Liz, Dianne, and David’s flat and collect them. On their way to the Winchester, Phillip makes peace with Shaun, dies from his bites, and then reanimates — forcing them to abandon the vehicle and set off on foot. The streets surrounding the pub are overrun, so the group pretends to be zombies to sneak past them, but Shaun gets into an argument with Ed and breaks their cover. Shaun leads the horde away while the rest take refuge in the pub. Shaun rejoins them after losing the zombies.
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Several hours later, the zombies return; Shaun discovers the Winchester rifle above the bar is functional and the group uses it to defend themselves. Barbara reveals she was bitten along the way and dies, and a distraught Shaun is forced to shoot her after she reanimates. David is then pulled through a window and torn apart by the zombies, and Dianne frantically unbolts the front door to rescue him, disappearing into the advancing horde. Pete arrives as one of the zombies and bites Ed; Shaun kills Pete and sets fire to the bar, but also sets off the remaining rifle ammunition by accident. The survivors flee into the cellar and contemplate suicide, but discover a barrel hatch elevator that opens to the outside. Shaun and Liz escape on the elevator as Ed is left behind with the rifle. Back on the street, the British Army arrives and guns down the remaining zombies, rescuing the two. The couple approach the safety of the trucks, reconciled.
Six months after the outbreak, civilization has returned to normal, but the living now use the zombies as cheap labour and entertainment. Liz has moved in with Shaun, and Shaun keeps Ed — now a zombie — tethered in the backyard shed so they can play video games together.
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are both brilliant in this spoof of the zombie genre. If you are into zombie films, or comedy, then you will enjoy this film. It is a well made film that dosen’t fail to bring a smile to anybody who watches it.

REVIEW: WONDER WOMAN (2017)

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CAST

Gal Gadot (Fast & Furious)
Chris Pine (Star Trek)
Robin Wright (Blade Runner 2049)
Danny Huston (30 Days of Night)
David Thewlis (The Theory of Everything)
Connie Nielsen (Basic)
Elena Anaya (Point Blank)
Ewen Bremner (Trainspotting)
Saïd Taghmaoui (Conan The Barbarian)
Samantha Jo (Mortal Kombat: Legacy)
Lucy Davis (Shaun of The Dead)
Ann Ogbomo (World War Z)

In present-day Paris, Diana Prince, curator for the Louvre’s Department of Antiquities,[8] receives a World War I-era photographic plate couriered by the Wayne Enterprises and recalls her past.Diana was born and raised on the hidden island of Themyscira, home to the Amazon race of warrior women created by the gods of Mount Olympus to protect humankind. In the distant past, Ares, the god of war, slew all his fellow gods, but his father, Zeus, struck him down. Before perishing from his injuries, Zeus left the Amazons a weapon capable of killing his renegade son: the “Godkiller”, which Diana believes to be a ceremonial sword. Queen Hippolyta, Diana’s mother, believes that Ares will never return and forbids Diana from training as a warrior, but Diana and her aunt, General Antiope, defy the queen and begin training in secret. When the two are discovered by Hippolyta, Antiope convinces her sister to allow Diana’s training to continue.As a young woman, Diana rescues Captain Steve Trevor, a pilot with the American Expeditionary Forces,[9] after his plane crashes off the coast of Themyscira. The island is soon invaded by the landing party of a German cruiser pursuing Steve. The Amazons engage and kill all the German sailors, but Antiope dies intercepting a bullet meant for Diana. Interrogated with the Lasso of Truth, Steve reveals that World War I is raging in the outside world, and that he is an Allied spy. He stole a notebook with valuable information from chief chemist Isabel Maru, who is attempting to engineer a deadlier form of mustard gas under the orders of General Erich Ludendorff. Believing Ares is responsible for the war, Diana arms herself with the ceremonial sword and leaves Themyscira with Steve to find and destroy Ares.When the two arrive in London, they deliver Maru’s notebook to the Supreme War Council, including Sir Patrick Morgan, who is trying to negotiate an armistice with Germany. Diana translates Maru’s notes and reveals that the Germans plan to release the deadly gas at the warfront. Although forbidden by his commanders to act, Steve, with secret funding from Sir Patrick, recruits spy Sameer, marksman Charlie, and smuggler Chief to help prevent the gas from being released. When the team reaches the Western Front in Belgium, they are halted by the enemy line, but Diana pushes alone through No man’s land and rallies the Allied forces behind her to liberate the village of Veld. The team briefly celebrates and takes the group photograph from the beginning of the film. Later that night, Diana and Steve bond and share a kiss.The team learns that a gala will be held at the nearby German High Command. Steve infiltrates the party, intending to locate the mustard gas and destroy it. Diana, however, believes Ludendorff is Ares and that killing him will end the war. Steve stops her to avoid jeopardizing the mission. Ludendorff unleashes the gas on Veld, killing its inhabitants. Diana blames Steve for the deaths and pursues Ludendorff to a base where the gas is being loaded into a Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI bound for London. Diana fights and kills Ludendorff, but is confused when his death does not stop the war.Sir Patrick appears and reveals that he is Ares. He tells Diana that although he has subtly given humans ideas and inspirations, it is ultimately their decision to cause violence as they are inherently corrupt. After destroying the ceremonial sword, Ares reveals that Diana is the true “Godkiller”, as she is the daughter of Zeus. Ares attempts to convince Diana that she should help him destroy humankind to restore paradise on Earth. While the two battle and the rest of Steve’s team destroy Dr. Maru’s laboratory, Steve pilots the bomber carrying the gas to a safe altitude and detonates it, sacrificing himself in the process. Ares tries to harness Diana’s rage and grief by telling her to kill Dr. Maru, but Diana’s memories of Steve inspire her to decide that humans have good within them, and she spares Maru before destroying Ares. Back in London, the nation celebrates the end of the war.In the present day, Diana sends an e-mail to Bruce Wayne thanking him for the photographic plate of her and Steve and reaffirms her mission to protect the world as Wonder Woman.The film is well rounded, the plot never leaves you bored, the humor is fresh and relatable, and the actors are so good! The costumes are realistic and the fight choreography is some of the best I’ve seen in a while!  It’s an awesome entry for the DC film universe.

REVIEW: POSTMAN PAT: THE MOVIE

CAST (VOICES)

Stephen Mangan (Rush)
Susan Duerden (Flushed Away)
Mike Disa (Hoodwinked Too)
Jim Broadbent (Game of Thrones)
Rupert Grint (Harry Potter)
David Tennant (Jessica Jones)
Ronan Keating (Goddess)
TJ Ramini (Spivs)
Peter Woodward (Crusade)
Robin Atkin Downes (Babylon 5)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Parminder Nagra (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Jo Wyatt (Tales of The Night)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Enn Reitel (Prey)
Jean Gilpin (The Stud)
Jacob Witkin (Hail, Caesar)
Anastasia Griffith (Shadow of The Sword)
Craig Ferguson (Brave)
Lucy Davis (Shaun of The Dead)

Patrick “Pat” Clifton also known as “Postman Pat” (voiced by Stephen Mangan), is a friendly postman who has been delivering letters in the village of Greendale in the north of England for years. He wants to take his wife, Sara (voiced by Susan Duerden), on a late honeymoon to Italy. He plans to afford it through a bonus from his employer, the Special Delivery Service (SDS), but their new boss, Edwin Carbunkle (voiced by Peter Woodward), has cancelled all bonuses. He plans to make SDS more efficient by replacing its human workers with robots, thinking that being friendly is a waste of time.When Pat gets home and tries to tell Sara about the fact that the honeymoon is cancelled because the new boss has cancelled all bonuses, his son Julian (voiced by Sandra Teles) shows Pat a TV talent show, You’re the One, hosted by Simon Cowbell (voiced by Robin Atkin Downes in typical Simon Cowell voice), which states the next auditions are coming to Greendale. Cowbell also confirms that the person who wins the contest will be awarded a holiday to Italy and a recording contract. Pat decides to take part in the contest and his unexpected singing voice (played by Ronan Keating) wins the contest. Pat is to sing again in the finale, in a head-to-head contest with the winner of another heat, Josh (voiced by Rupert Grint). His manager, Wilf (voiced by David Tennant), however, is very keen to make sure it is his client who wins at all costs.The Chief Executive Officer of the SDS, Mr. Brown (voiced by Jim Broadbent), and Edwin Carbunkle had been watching the contest on TV. They say that they would like to use Pat in a publicity campaign including his own television series. Carbunkle also confirms that because Pat will be away participating in the contest, a robot replica of him called the “Patbot 3000” will be taking over his postal duties, along with another robot replica of Jess called the “Jessbot” as well. After Pat has gone, the Patbot delivers the rounds like Pat normally does, but it behaves oddly and the people of Greendale are starting to complain about Pat behaving in such a way. Sara and Julian are starting to worry about Pat too.Meanwhile, Ben Taylor (voiced by TJ Ramini), the manager at the SDS, is fired by Carbunkle and is convinced that Pat doesn’t want him anymore, not realising that Pat is a robot. Meanwhile, Wilf tries his schemes to stop Pat, not realising that Pat going around Greendale is in fact a robot. The more Pat’s family and friends become concerned, the more Pat feels guilty about coming on the contest in the first place. But, after a while, Sara and everyone else in Greendale discovers that Pat has been replaced by a robot, and find out Edwin Carbunkle’s true intent. It turns out that Carbunkle is in fact making these robots to try and take over the world. Sara and Julian now know the terrible truth about what Mr Carbunkle’s plan is. Moments before Pat leaves for London, Sara tells Pat that she forgives him and is fully aware of the Patbot 3000. She reassures Pat that she knows that Pat only entered You’re The One to win their honeymoon that she and Julian will be there for him and they both share an optimistic goodbye as Pat leaves for London.big_1473912748_imageNow fully aware of Mr Carbunkle’s plan, Sara decides it’s time to stick up for Pat and she takes everyone else in Greendale to see the You’re The One finals. Meanwhile, Jess, who had been stowing away on one of the SDS helicopter replicas that one of the Patbot 3000s used, manages to make his way to where Pat’s performance, and he helps Pat escape after he is almost locked away in a dressing room by a Patbot and Mr Carbunkle, who reveals that Pat’s publicity was just to make people like him, so Mr Carbunkle could replace him with Patbots. They are then pursued by the Patbots. Meanwhile, in the performance, a Patbot performs instead of Pat, unbeknown to the audience. Wilf, knowing it to be a robot (and not realising there is the real Pat too), tries to unmask the Patbot. Then, the real Pat interrupts the performance. As Carbunkle releases the first few Patbots to kill off Pat, Simon Cowbell and Mr Brown, revealing that he has had enough of them hindering his plans, Pat’s wife, Sara along with everyone else from Greendale enter the auditorium within seconds. They manage to switch off the Patbots and stop Mr. Carbunkle’s evil schemes, revealing that they all forgive Pat for turning a blind eye when the Patbot was first put into action.BaseketballFeatAs soon as Carbunkle is arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, everything is back to normal. Sara gives Pat a great, big hug and claims that she can more than happily forgive him. Now fully aware that Sara has forgiven him, Pat decides to do his act, but decides to change the act slightly. Sara also takes part in the act. They both win the holiday to Italy, but pass the recording contract to Josh, so Wilf is happy too, and all is forgiven. baseketball4-620x349It’s entertaining and simple enough for the kids to follow that their interest will be captured enough not to annoy you for an hour and half!

REVIEW: ALL ABOUT STEVE

 

CAST

Sandra Bullock (Gravity)
Bradley Cooper (Limitless)
Thoams Haden Church (Sideways)
Ken Jeong (The Hangover)
DJ Qualls (Road Trip)
Katy Mixon (Mike & Molly)
Beth Grant (Wonderfalls)
Howard Hesseman (Halloween II)
M.C. Gainey (Lost)
Keith David (Pitch Black)
Holmes Osborne (Donnie Darko)
Kerri Kenney (Anger Management)
Lucy Davis (Shaun of The Dead)
Eddie Jemison (IZombie)

Mary Horowitz, a crossword puzzle writer for the Sacramento Herald, is socially awkward and considers her pet hamster her only true friend. Her parents decide to set her up on a blind date. Mary’s expectations are low, as she tells her hamster. Mary is pleasantly surprised when her date turns out to be handsome and charming Steve Miller, a cameraman for the television news network CCN. Steve does not reciprocate her feelings. After an attempt at an intimate moment fails, in part because of her awkwardness and inability to stop talking about vocabulary, Steve fakes a phone call about covering the news out of town. Trying to get Mary out of his truck, he tells her he wishes she could be there.
Mary believes him and decides to pursue him. Mary’s obsession gets her fired when she creates a crossword titled “All About Steve”. Following her termination, Mary decides to track Steve around the country in the hopes of winning his affection. She is encouraged by CCN news reporter Hartman Hughes, who hopes to use Mary’s encyclopedic knowledge in his reports to help himself get a promotion to become an anchor. On the road, Mary annoys some bus passengers so much, the driver abandons her. She hitchhikes with a trucker named Norm, then meets and travels with a pair of protesters, Elizabeth, a ditzy but sweet and likeable girl, and Howard, who sells apples he carves into celebrities. She gradually grows close to the two.

Steve and crew end up covering a breaking news story: an old mine collapsed with numerous deaf children stuck inside. Initially, it appears that the children are rescued. Mary, who arrives on the scene, accidentally falls into the mine shaft as well while making a beeline for Steve. It turns out that not all the children have been rescued, and Mary is trapped with one left behind. Steve begins to realize that Mary, in her own unique way, is a beautiful person. Just as Mary figures a way out, the two are joined by Hartman, who is made to feel guilty by Elizabeth and Howard for getting Mary into this predicament. Mary’s rescue plan works, but she lets Hartman take the credit. Mary finally realizes she does not need Steve to be happy. She states, “If you love someone, set him free; if you have to stalk him, he probably wasn’t yours in the first place.” After the end credits, a competitive TV reporter, in despair that Hartman got popularity by falling into the mine while trying to save Mary, also jumps into the mine.I was a little dubious at first at watching this film as I hadn’t heard good things…..But what can I say it was a laugh from start to finish. Sandra Bullock is as always fantastic. A fun film not to be taken seriously.

REVIEW: THE NEIGHBORS – SEASON 1 & 2

MAIN CAST

Jami Getz (Twister)
Lenny Venito (The Brave One)
Simon Templeman (Lois & Clark)
Toks Olagundoye (Castle)
Clara Mamet (Bad Neighbours 2)
Tim Jo (Glory Daze)
Ian Patrick (Looper)
Max Charles (The Strain)
Isabella Crovetti-Cramp (Joy)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Megan Park (Diary of The Dead)
Doug Jones (Batman Returns)
Leslie Grossman (Popular)
Amy Farrington (Faking It)
Matthew Glave (Argo)
Meagen Fay (Agent Carter)
Maribeth Monroe (The Back-Up Plan)
Stacy Keach (Two and a Half Men)
Debra Mooney (Everwood)
Billy Malone (Sleepers)
Leslie Jordan (Ugly Betty)
Carla Renata (Hart of Dixie)
Nora Dunn (Bones)
Richard Riehle (Texas Chainsaw 3D)
Judd Nelson (The Breakfast Club)
Grant Harvey (Billy Boy)
Lora Plattner (Turkey)
Patrick Cassidy (Smallville)
Sandra Bernhard (2 Broke Girls)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
George Takei (Star Trek)
Jerry Springer (The Ringmaster)
Lucy Davis (Shaun of The Dead)
Meredith Baxter (Family Ties)
Reginald VelJohnson (Die Hard)
Jack Scalia (Red Eye)
Lori Loughlin (Full House)
Rhea Perlman (Cheers)
Rosalind Chao (Star Trek: DS9)
Candace Cameron Bure (Full House)
John Karma (Scream: The Series)
Scott Weinger (Shredder)

3rd Rock from the Sun is a tough act to follow. The Neighbors does a pretty good job, but uses wit and timing instead of zaniness and slapstick comedy to get its laughs. That makes it consistently funny, just not side-splittingly funny. Naming all of the aliens after sports heroes was an inspired choice– they’ll never run out of funny names (a tot named Dick Butkus?), and the fact that the aliens are dorky doubles down on the running gag. So are all their matching outfits/uniforms that remind us of golf clothes from the 1970s.

Also on the upside, some of the cast members are real gems. I don’t know where Toks Olagundoye has been up til now, but she’s got real movie star power as the glamorous alien mom. Her rapid fire back and forth with alien husband Simon Templeman, who has perfect comedic timing and never wastes a good line, are my favorite parts of the show. Jami Gertz and Max Charles are good enough as the earthling straight man/woman, but I think maybe too much of the plot compares their unfunny ordinariness to the aliens’ backwards/upside down view of what humanity is like. The child actors are pretty good, too, even if the show relies a little too much on alien child Ian Patrick’s precociousness. Clara Mamet is exceptional as the brooding, frighteningly calculating and cynical teenager.

I was worried that after a few episodes the running gags would wear thin and they’d run out of ideas. Not so at all! It was a series that went from strength to strength but put on in American in the Friday night death slot, so sadly only 2 seasons were made.