Podcast: SJ 243: Big Little Lies; Big Brother; Hotel Transylvania 3; Mary Poppins Returns 3; Aziz Ansari: Right Now; Robo Vampire; Stuber; and more!

White Background LogoSwanner and Judd talk about Big Little Lies; Big Brother; Hotel Transylvania 3; Mary Poppins Returns 3; Aziz Ansari: Right Now; Robo Vampire; Stuber; and more!

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Stuber

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Dave Bautista plays Vic, a cop who’s been working on the case that got his partner killed, and now he’ll do whatever it takes to bring the killer in. The problem is that when he gets a great tip on the location of the killer, it’s right after he gets eye surgery, and is unable to see. Vic calls an Uber to drive him to the location. The Uber driver is named Stu,(Kumail Nanjiani) and it’s where we get the title Stuber. Vic and Stu go from one gun fight to the next as the two get closer to either catching the bad guy, or getting killed.

Director, Michael Dowse give us your standard buddy movie, feeling very much like The Ride Along films back a few years ago. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just there’s nothing that new here. The screenplay is by Tripper Clancy, who is making his big screen writing debut. The story is fun but although both main characters are good, they feel awkward together. Not sure if that’s a lack of chemistry with the actors or the script.

Bautista is trying hard to be the leading man, but feels like he’s out of his comfort zone, where Nanjiani takes to his character very well. He’s confident and hilarious. Natalie Morales plays Bautista’s daughter, and Mira Sorvino plays his Captain. I will warn you that the dog on the poster has very few scenes, which is good considering the gun play.

The movie, even with it’s flaws, is very entertaining. The film is a comedy, even though it’s R rating bring a lot of violence. This isn’t the best buddy movie, but it’s certainly a good distraction on a hot summer night.

Swanner: 2 ½ stars

Spider-Man: Far from Home

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Swanner: After the loss of Tony Stark and the others in the Endgame film, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is looking to relax as his class takes a summer trip to Europe. Happy (Jon Favreau) shows up because Peter isn’t answering his phone. Happy tells Peter that Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has been trying to reach him because he needs an Avenger to help with a problem. Peter is retiring Spider-Man for the summer and goes on his trip only to find out that their first European stop is exactly where Nick Fury wanted him to be. Good thing May (Marisa Tomei) packed his Spidey suit.

Since this is the first film after defeating Thanos, it sets where the franchise is going: keeping a light touch on the seriousness at hand. The film does introduce Quintin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal), a superhero from a different dimensional Earth where the creatures that destroyed his earth have leaped to our Earth. Jon Watts returns to the directors chair giving this new Spider-Man it’s much needed consistency. Holland finally gives us a Spider-man who is the right age and the temperament. He’s young and is going to make mistakes.

The rest of the cast is made up of his school friends from the first film including Zendaya. playing Parkers love interest M.J., and Jacob Batalon playing Ned, his only friend to know Peter is Spider-Man.  Far From Home is the perfect vehicle to get the Marvel engine up and running again. It’s funny, but still has all the special effects one would hope for. Even though Spider-Man is in Europe doesn’t mean he’s not going to defeat the American fourth of July box-office, because he will.

Swanner: 3 ½ stars

Yesterday

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Jack Malik (Himesh Patel) is a street musician. He writes his own songs and is getting nowhere at becoming a professional musician. After another failed event, Jack is hit by a bus at the same time all the world looses power. When Jack comes to everything seems the same except The Beatles were never a band. After singing “Yesterday” to friends who say they have never heard the song before, he realizes he can claim all the Beatles songs for himself as though he wrote them.

Of course Jack becomes an overnight sensation, writing the greatest songs ever written, but will Jack’s guilt prevent him from enjoying the success? Lily James plays Ellie Appleton, Jack’s best friend and manager. Ellie is also the girl that Jack let get away. Ed Sheeran plays himself, asking Jack to open for his tour after seeing him on a local chat show. Kate McKinnon plays Debra Hammer, Jack’s new manager. Once again McKinnon’s character feels like one of her SNL characters that’s trying to steal every scene she’s in, and it doesn’t work in the film.

Danny Boyle directs this lovely charming film from a screenplay by Richard Curtis. I love Boyle’s choice of films. Everyone knows him for the Oscar winning Best Picture Slumdog Millionaire but his filmography is filled it wonderful stories and people we don’t see much of on the big screen. Curtis on the other hand has written screenplays for some of my favorite films of all times including Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral, and Bridget Jones’ Diary. This film has it’s flaws, but it’s heart and, let’s face it, amazing soundtrack, make Yesterday a treat for the movie goer.

Swanner: 3 stars

Toy Story 4

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Swanner: When Bonnie goes to go to kindergarten she makes a toy out a spork and brings it home. The other toys are adjusting to “Forky” when Dad announces a road trip for Mollie and and the toys. While on the trip Woody spends all his time trying to keep Forky from running away. Woody also meets up with an old friend from the past who is living a life he never considered. Josh Cooley makes his big screen directorial debut.

Judd: I like that the plot is a continuation of the themes from number three. While it is a “new adventure,” the dilemma of what happens to a toy that is no longer played with, and what is the meaning of their existence, their purpose, is still a major theme of this movie. Forky only Hale), Bo Peep (Annie Potts), Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks) and her creepy goons are excellent additions to the cast.

Swanner: I don’t think this is a spoiler but at the beginning of the film we find out that Woody is no longer one of Bonnie’s favorite toys; sometimes left in the toy box while his friends are playing. This gives Woody the motivation to keep Forky around because Bonnie loves him and maybe his selfless deeds will somehow regain Bonnie’s favor. So to your point, Woody was collecting dust which is something Woody’s never done. This element devastated me. It’s about being left behind, even if you’re in the same room. Deep issue for an animated film but nothing Pixar couldn’t handle with perfection.

Judd: The runtime of this fourth installment is quite a bit shorter than the others, and while that is usually a bonus for me, I was a little disappointed it ended so quickly. I could have done with more Forky and more Bo Peep. Gabby Gabby could have had a little more time being evil before finding redemption. I left wanting more, which means Pixar’s done their job, but this time it feels so final. Like the team is never going… And we’re never… I’m sorry, I can’t…

Swanner: I was a mess watching happy-go-lucky Woody become insignificant, but that’s what the brilliant folks at Pixar do best, they make you feel. This did seem final, but there is always a way of finding a new story to tell. Not because it will make a lot of money, but because it needs to be told. This fourth installment had be crying happy tears more than sad, which was confusing for me but after a day to digest, I’m very happy with the ending. Toy Story 4 might not be your favorite today, but in a few days you’ll find it’s themes filling your heart. 

Swanner: 4 stars
Judd: 4 stars