Podcast: SJ 171: American Horror Story; The Exorcist; Bong Appetite; American Housewife; Modern Family; Will & Grace; Great News; Thor: Ragnarok; Bad Moms’ Christmas

White Background LogoSwanner and Judd talk about American Horror Story; The Exorcist; Bong Appetite; American Housewife; Modern Family; Will & Grace; Great News; Thor: Ragnarok; Bad Moms’ Christmas.

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Thor: Ragnarok

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Judd: Marvel keeps churning out the movies, and when The Avengers aren’t teamed up to defend Earth and/or the galaxy, they’re off having their own adventures. Thor: Ragnarok is one of those solo films, and it deals with our hero fighting his evil sister Hela (Cate Blanchette) who is back to claim Asgard as her own. But first, Thor must escape a planet ruled by the flashy despot, Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), where he is imprisoned and kept as a gladiator. The person he must beat to have a chance at freedom? Hulk.

Thor is my least favorite character of the Marvel franchise. His character doesn’t lend itself to humor or snappy dialogue, but Marvel did take one step in the right direction this time around, by ditching Jane Foster and her grating sidekick Darcy. No longer relying on Kat Dennings for “comic relief”, the screenwriters Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost, could finally start playing with the ridiculousness that is the Thor character.

Director Taika Waititi keeps thing light and moving quickly, and the movie’s two hour and ten minute runtime flies by. This is partially contributed to Goldblum’s goofy Grandmaster, but mostly because of the amazing Cate Blanchette as Hela. She is sex and evil rolled into one stunning villainess and she stole the movie.

The art direction is gorgeous and colorful, as I expect of all Marvel movies. The soundtrack keeps things in the vibe of the poster art with sounds of early-80s prog rock, with the requisite riff of Led Zeppelin’s The Immigrant Song thundering in every time Thor starts to swing his hammer.

While Thor: Ragnarok isn’t going to change his ranking in my order of Marvel heroes, it wasn’t a bad way to spend two hours taking in the sights and sounds.

Judd: 3 stars

A Bad Moms Christmas

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Swanner: I’m a huge fan of the Bad Mom’s franchise, and actually more excited that there is an actual franchise. When the original film opened last summer it was such a breath of fresh air to have an all girl comedy that’s rated R. It made it into my top ten for the year as the best comedy. What could possible make it better? Christmas with the Bad Moms. This time around the moms (Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and the scene stealing Kathryn Hahn) are ready to take back Christmas, until their moms show up and want things their way.

Like the original, this sequel is filled with silliness and enough musical montages to send most critics running to their cars, but not me. I love it. For some reason these characters have struck a chord in me and I can’t get enough. Of course it never hurts to bring in three great comediennes: Cheryl Hines, Susan Sarandon, and Christine Baranski to play the mom’s moms. Mixing all these elements with a funny script from directors/screenwriters Jon Lucas and Scott Moore you have an “Instant Holiday Classic”.

The set design is festive, with great music and even a cameo from Kenny G. If you’re not a Kenny G fan you’ll love this even more, as he get abused for playing his signature music. This has everything you need in a holiday film including an over dressed house and plenty of hating on the family; but not to worry, no blue Christmas here. There is a cameo from Justin Hartley (This is Us) who makes a BIG impression as a stripper Santa. It may be opening in November but treat yourself to some early holiday fun.

Swanner: 3 1/2 stars

Suburbicon

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Swanner: As I walked out of the theater after seeing Suburbicon, I had no idea what I had just seen. Matt Damon plays Gardner Lodge, a husband and father in this quiet little suburb. One night two men enter the residence to rob the home. During the robbery Rose (Julianne Moore) is given too much chloroform and dies. Now father and son are left to fend for themselves. Fortunately, Margaret (Julianne Moore) Rose’s identical twin comes to stay with them. Next door a black family moves in and this quiet little hamlet freaks out.

Judd: With Joel and Ethan Coen as part of the writing team it makes sense that this has that Coen brothers feel and look. The rest of the writing team consisted of Director Clooney and his writing partner, Grant Heslov. This should have been a grand slam. The first half of the film, which includes the home invasion and the new neighbors moving in, just wasn’t enough to move the film. The pacing was too slow in comparison to the second half, which finally brings the film to an attention grabbing pace.

Swanner: I still don’t understand why the black family moving in was such a dominant part of the film. I get the irony that while the town is only focused the new neighbors, right next door there has been a murder. I just think forcing that ugliness on an audience was unnecessary, since the writers never give us a decent outcome more than forcing a family from their home. Oh the fifties and their racism! I expected more from the Fargo/Argo teams.

Judd: On the topic of the two conflicting storylines: it was a shame that what could have been a very interesting look at a black family trying to enter white suburbia, ends up being filler. All we get are dirty looks, cruelty at the grocery store, and a lot of head shaking. The filmmakers spend all this time on their storyline and all we know is that it’s the Meyers and their son Andy.  We know nothing more about them. It makes the film feel like one of the protesters, since it hasn’t taken the time to meet the new neighbors either.

Swanner: This is twice this month that a trailer has lead me to believe I was going to see a different film. I’m okay with the twists in the storyline and would be disappointed if they weren’t there; but I wanted to see the film that was promised in the trailer, or even something better. The film is well made and the cast is great, but with the slow first half and the misstep of the secondary storyline, leaves Suburbicon looking like every other house on the block with nothing very interesting going on inside.

Swanner: 2 stars
Judd: 1 1/2 star

Podcast: SJ 169: Bong Appetite; American Horror Story; Halloweed; Tales of Halloween; South Park; Modern Family; American Housewife; Fresh Off the Boat; Great News; Will & Grace; The Snowman

White Background LogoSwanner and Judd talk about Bong Appetite; American Horror Story; Halloweed; Tales of Halloween; South Park; Modern Family; American Housewife; Fresh Off the Boat; Great News; Will & Grace; The Snowman.

Left Click To Listen, Right Click Here To Download

The Snowman

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Swanner: In The Snowman, Detective Harry Hole (Michael Fassbender) is trying to solve the disappearance and ultimate murder of women in a Norwegian city. Outside of every woman’s house is a mysterious snowman starring towards the house. First things first… Harry Hole? How can anyone concentrate on a storyline when characters are saying things like “Well it’s the great Harry Hole.” Brian and I were the only ones giggling every time they said it.

Judd: The movie is based on a book by Norwegian Jo Nesbø, so may Hole is like the Norwegian version of Smith. But they knew this movie was made for American audiences, and someone along the line had to know that the name Harry Hole sounds like a gay Bond Villain. To make matters worse the movie is two hours long, and about as bleak as a Norse winter. It was long, drawn out, and complete nonsense. Apparently, Norway has terrible detectives.

Swanner: I watched the preview again and realized they sold me another movie. The snowman has no importance in the film at all. It may have in the book but not here. It looks like a thriller which it’s not because a thriller must thrill. I mean, I expected to the film to be slow, but during the middle of all that nothingness, I found myself praying for the thaw. Nothing really made any sense at the end. I mean, I was thankful it was over but I still have so many questions and really don’t care enough to search for the answers.

Judd: I didn’t watch the trailer until just before the movie, so I was initially expecting a movie about a killer snowman, which would have been infinitely better. The movie had so much wasted potential, that that’s really what adds the insult to the injury. Val Kilmer hasn’t done a movie in years, and he gets 10 minutes of screen time for a character that was an important, but glossed over plot point – which really describes the whole movie.

Swanner: Since I don’t know the original story I can’t really comment on how badly it was hacked up but someone fucked up here. You take a best seller with what in any other film would have been an exceptional cast, how could things go so terribly wrong. I wouldn’t suggest seeing this film in theaters or on TV. I’d wait till it’s been remade and done right. Harry Hole? Shame!

Swanner: no stars
Judd: 1 Star