REVIEW: Jumanji: The Next Level [2019]

Wherever they may be. The first cinematic adaptation of Chris Van Allsburg‘s Jumanji brought the board game’s wild jungle environment to its players’ quiet suburbia for a crazy survival adventure. Jake Kasdan and company could have easily done the exact same thing again with their reboot/sequel hybrid Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle due to over twenty years having past since its predecessor’s release, but they chose to breathe new life into the property instead. And it worked beautifully to earn critical, creative, and financial success. They revamped board and dice…

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REVIEW: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle [2017]

“Find the missing piece” The end of Jumanji shows Alan and Sarah chaining up the board game before throwing it over a bridge into water. Later we see it washed ashore on a beach, buried in the sand with chains removed as people walk by speaking what sounds like French. So we wonder how long after the main plot this Planet of the Apes ending is set. Did it cross the Atlantic? There’s real fun to this abstract epilogue with infinite possibilities, especially since the unlikely sequel Jumanji: Welcome to…

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REVIEW: The D Train [2015]

“Like lawn chairs” Calling The D Train a comedy is probably the most accurate description to bestow upon it, but the label doesn’t quite do it justice. I’m still wrestling about whether that’s because it’s more than a simple comedy or because it utilizes the genre so it can get away with a strain of insensitive humor. Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel‘s sophomore feature script (they wrote Yes Man) ultimately feels alternatingly exploitative and heartfelt. Each time they take a pitch-black turn to some heavy corners that force Dan Landsman…

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The 87th Oscars recap through tweets …

I’m not sure why I keep filling myself with false hope that the Oscars will one day be an entertaining show to watch. The optimism is almost completely unfounded by this point. Whether they go weird (Anne Hathaway and James Franco), safe (Billy Crystal), hip (Seth MacFarlane), or try and steal another show’s success (Neil Patrick Harris), the result is the same. NPH should have been the shot of adrenaline the 87th Annual Academy Awards needed—a song and dance guy who’s young, fun, and funny. Sadly—and I do blame the…

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VIDEO: Weird Al Yankovic’s “Tacky”

I can’t say I ever find myself clamoring for more Weird Al Yankovic, but I always come running when he pops back into society with a new parody video. With his latest album Mandatory Fun on its way, the first single “Tacky” has hit the web as a pretty great play on Pharrell Williams‘ “Happy”. Through a cast consisting of Aisha Taylor, Margaret Cho, Eric Stonestreet, Kristen Schaal, and Jack Black in what appears to be one continuous take, the lyrics of his song come to life. Check it out…

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REVIEW: Prince Avalanche [2013]

“Sometimes I feel like I’m digging in my own ashes” The film Prince Avalanche proves to be the perfect segue for writer/director David Gordon Green to circle back to the independent scene after three studio comedies with varying degrees of success took him on a polar opposite route. I was glad to see his trademark dramatic edge remained intact while watching his latest Joe at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, but rediscovering it post-Your Highness and The Sitter couldn’t have been an easy transition despite taking a year off…

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REVIEW: Bernie [2012]

“We may have to make a leg adjustment” The unique true story of Carthage, TX assistant mortician Bernie Tiede proves worthy for the big screen. A man too kind, compassionate, and humble for words, he shows how the best of us can still find a bottomless wealth of love stifled to the point of murder. It surely happens more than we’d like to believe, those “he was such a harmless and quiet gentleman” explaining our inability to comprehend our neighbors’ potential for dark deeds. For Tiede, however, those usually empty…

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Posterized Propaganda April 2012: Where Art and Commerce Meet

“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” is a proverb whose simple existence proves the fact impressionable souls will do so without fail. This monthly column focuses on the film industry’s willingness to capitalize on this truth, releasing one-sheets to serve as not representations of what audiences are to expect, but as propaganda to fill seats. Oftentimes they fail miserably. There’s a good mix of work coming out in April and the posters do well to mirror such. I’m not quite sure how Chris Sparling could have his script for…

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REVIEW: The Muppets [2011]

“Laughter, the third greatest gift of all!” If you saw Forgetting Sarah Marshall, it’ll be no surprise that Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller were chosen as the ones to bring The Muppets back to the big screen. Almost three decades since the last true Muppet movie besides their literary adventures after Jim Henson’s untimely death, it’s also not shocking that the two decided to base their plot around this lengthy hiatus. Years removed from the original “Muppet Show” that began in 1976, this new iteration begins by introducing us to…

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REVIEW: Kung Fu Panda 2 [2011]

“Tell those musicians to play some action music because it is on” The phrase sophomore slump wasn’t just coined out of the blue; it is a very real description for a good number of sequels overall, but especially the realm of cinema. Very few follow-ups to praised work ever earn a place to be mentioned beside their predecessors let alone become deemed a step above. And the attempt gets even harder when you’re dealing with animated children’s fare—the Toy Story films a grand exception—since most end up languishing in direct…

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REVIEW: Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage [2010]

“Props to the nose” I don’t have any idea what made me buy Rush’s two-disc greatest hits Chronicles many years ago, but it definitely changed my outlook on music. Popping it in my CD player, the sound flooded over me, playing songs that either I had heard and never aligned with the band or just had that intrinsic feel of greatness and familiarity. My parents had a few LPs when I was growing up and, once CDs came into being, I do recall listening to Roll the Bones often—still admittedly…

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