The Films of 2020: The Binge (dir by Jeremy Garelick)


America, in the near future.

Due to a rise in crime coupled with an economic collapse, a new moralistic government has taken power.  All drugs and alcohol have been banned …. except for one day of the year.  On that day, anyone who is 18 years old or older will be able to drink, smoke, inject, and snort anything that they want.  This is the annual …. BINGE!

Okay, so does this sound familiar to anyone?

The Binge is a mix of The Purge and Superbad.  Three dorky high school students (played by Skyler Gisondo, Eduardo Franco, and Dexter Darden) want to take part in their first binge but it’s not going to easy, largely because they’re not actually cool enough to have been invited to any of the big Binge parties.  Unless they can find a way to sneak into the legendary Library Party, they’re going to miss out on all the fun and they’re not going to get laid.

Vince Vaughn, meanwhile, plays the high school principal who, at the start of the film, exhorts his students not to binge so hard that they end up getting horribly disfigured or bring any sort of shame on the reputation of their school.  However, when he finds out that his own daughter has snuck out of the house and is taking part in the Binge, he hits the streets and ends up binging himself.

And listen, The Binge gets off to a good start.  It opens with a Morgan Freeman sound alike narrating a short film about how much better life in America is thanks to the Binge.  Yes, it’s totally ripped off from The Purge but let us give the film some credit for at least admitting that it’s not exactly an original idea.  The short film is followed by a scene of Vaughn standing in a shabby high school auditorium, explaining to his students why binging is not a good idea and he goes through all of the classic horror stories that teenagers have been told through the years to keep them from indulging.  Vaughn comes across like some sort of demented gym teacher in this scene and it’s genuinely funny.

Meanwhile, throughout the high school, the students share stories about what they’ve heard life was like before the Binge.  Someone talks about how people used to do keg stands just for someone else to ask, “What’s a keg?”  Another student talks about how her mother claims that there used to be a show called Sex and the City, in which the characters would have sex and drink pink alcohol.

Those early scenes are funny but the rest of the film doesn’t live up to them.  Once the Binge begins, the film becomes just another raunchy high school party film and, to be honest, it’s a bit dull.  It’s also hard not to notice that, for a bunch of people who have apparently never drank or done drugs before, some of the characters handle getting drunk and stoned surprisingly well.  You would also think that, if you could only drink or do drugs one time a year, some people would at least try to be a little bit creative in how they did it.  Instead, it appears that everyone learned how to binge by watching old episodes of Saved By The Bell, California Dreams, and 90210.  With the exception of one drug-induced musical number that occurs about halfway into the film and a pretty amusing contest to see who can snort the most coke while doing the best Pacino imitation, everyone’s just so boring.

This is one of those comedies where people randomly screaming is often used as a substitute for any sort of real wit or clever dialogue.  The main characters are so poorly defined that you really never care whether or not they’re going to get laid, get stoned, go to prom, or get into college.  I appreciated any movie that satirizes prohibition but The Binge, much like the students that Vince Vaughn warned about at the start of the film, fails to live up to its potential.

Into the Dark, “Down”, Dir. Daniel Stamm, Review By Case Wright


Down

Happy Horrorthon!!!!

Should some people embrace their creative mediocrity? YES! Yes, they should.  I don’t mean that what they write or direct is bad. It’s simply unoriginal, predictable, with characters who make obviously bad decisions REPEATEDLY, and still are amazingly fun! I never thought I’d get into Lifetime movies until Lisa got me into them. I discovered how fun Hallmark movies are these past few years.  Law & Order embraced its predictability so much that their main sponsor Listerine would break the show down in the Commercials: Body discovery, Wisecrack, Investigation and Arrest, Prosecution, and Verdict. Law & Order lasted 19 years.  Case, what’s your point?  My point is that mediocrity can be fun…a LOT of fun.

Hulu’s “Into the Dark” series is the fun trash that is great to watch and nothing more (accept for the episodes that are hamfisted, political, and preachy) ; it’s like the Jack in the Box Munchie Meals…yeah, they’ll give you a bit of diarrhea, but come on, sometimes you just gotta have a Sriracha Curly Fry Burger.  That’s just science!

“Down” is awesomely bad.  The actors mug, the character decisions are stupid, and it’s great for the elliptical or exercise bike and probably safer to watch as you’re burning those last Lbs.  The plot is simple and doesn’t try to go into a supernatural direction. It’s fun because it never tries.  Jennifer Robbins ( Natalie Martinez) is trapped in an elevator on a holiday weekend with Guy (Matt Luria), BUT is Guy hiding something sinister? Yes…yes, he is and you can tell because he mugs A LOT!

If Lifetime went down the horror route, this would be the premiere.  Guy is in fact Jennifer’s stalker and manipulates her into having sex like the Lifetime movies with the Single Moms and the Predator Next Door.  Lifetime movies are better than “Down” because with Lifetime movies once the heroine realizes she has to fight; it’s to the death.  Here, when Jennifer realizes Guy is a Psycho Killer she doesn’t Run….Run…Away.  In fact, he tries to kill her a lot and then she gets the upper hand, but does she finish him off? Nooooope.  She fails to deliver the Coup de Gras not once, not twice…no, we’re talking six times here when she could’ve finished the movie and literally had a smoke after the 45 minute mark, but 45 minutes of filler was fine for my physical therapy time.

I know that this reads harsh, but these movies have their place; they’re fun.  If the pacing and plot points matched with a Lifetime MOW, it would’ve been that much better, but you can’t have everything, nor should you! Will I review a bunch more of these Into the Dark quasi-episodes? YES, Yes I will!

Happy Horrorthon!

This Way Up: TV series review


Before I start this TV series review I will admit I am gullible for a dark British comedy; and the darker they go the more I love them!

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This Way Up:

Is a dark British comedy that follows Aine (Show creator Aisling Bea ) While she goes thru the disaster of her life. Rebounding as an English tutor in a foreign land she begins to discover who she really is. Finding a new life with a someone you wouldn’t expect while also connecting with her sibling rivalry Shona (Sharon Horgan) This Way Up also stars (Tobias Menzies as Richard) (Indira Varma as Charlotte) and (Aasif Mandvi as Vish)

I know other reviewers are going down the “Catastrophe” or “Fleabag” thoughts. And I completely understand that. But, for me, I just watched Aine suffer a “teeny weeny” breakdown and re-introduce her-self to her-self. For this series only having six, about 25 minute episodes, it is fast paced, excellently written and handles delicate subject matter very succinctly.

Would I Recommend?

Why are you still reading this review? Go, now, and spin up your Hulu and get to watching!

Here is you a teaser if you want!

This Way Up: All episodes are now streaming on Hulu

 

Weekly Trailer Round-Up: Mary Queen of Scots, Colette, The Miseducation of Cameron Post, The Favourite, Goosebumps 2, A Simple Favor, The Extinction, The Package, Life Itself, Along Came The Devil, Little Italy, Unfriended: Dark Web, Wonder Park, Castle Rock


It’s time for the weekly trailer round-up!  We’ve got fourteen today so let’s get down to business:

First off, we have the trailer for one of the most anticipated films of the year: Mary, Queen of Scots.  This movie brings together two of last year’s nominees for best actress, with Saoirse Ronan playing the title character and Margot Robbie playing Queen Elizabeth I.  It is set to be released in December for Oscar consideration.

Also getting early Oscar buzz is Keira Knightley for her performance in Colette.  Colette premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this year and will be released on September 21st.

Another film that generated buzz at Sundance was The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which stars Chloe Grace Moretz as a teenage girl forced into gay conversation therapy.  The Miseducation of Cameron Post will be released into theaters on August 3rd.

Following the arthouse success of The Lobster, Yorgos Lanthimos returns with The Favourite.  Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone play cousins who compete to be the favorite of Queen Anne.  The Favourite will be released on November 23rd.

The books and the monsters are back but Jack Black is nowhere to be seen in the trailer for Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween.  This film will be released on October 12th.

When Blake Lively disappears, her new best friend, Anna Kendrick, teams up with Lively’s husband to find her.  Directed by Paul Feig of Ghostbusters and Bridesmaids fame, A Simple Favor will be released on September 14th.

Everyone’s favorite sidekick, Michael Pena, finally gets the leading role in The Extinction, a sci-fi thriller that will be premiering on Netflix on July 27th.

Also coming to Netflix is The Package, a teen comedy from the creators of Workaholics.  The Package will be delivered on August 10th.

The second film to be directed by This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman, Life Itself will be released on September 21st.

According to this trailer, Along Came The Devil is “an exorcism film for a new generation.”  This film will be released on August 10th.

Have you ever wondered what happened to Danny Aiello?  He’s in Little Italy, with Emma Roberts and Hayden Christensen.  Little Italy will be released in August.

The internet is still the most dangerous place on Earth in the second trailer for Unfriended: Dark Web.  See for yourself on July 20th.

After a long and troubled production that saw original director Dylan Brown fired for “inappropriate conduct,” the animated film Wonder Park will finally be released on March 15th, 2019.

Finally, here is the long-awaited official trailer for Castle Rock, the new Hulu series from J.J. Abrams and Stephen King.  Castle Rock premieres on July 25th.

 

Here’s The Super Bowl Spot for Castle Rock!


Castle Rock, the latest big Hulu series, is based on the writings of Stephen King.  This Super Bowl commercial gets things off to the right start by name dropping Shawshank Prison and then going on to create an effectively creepy atmosphere.

(Usually, I tend to be skeptical about Stephen King adaptations but, with the success of both It and Gerald’s Game last year, I’ll be more than happy to take a chance on Castle Rock!)

Here’s the Super Bowl Spot For Hulu’s The Handmaid Tale!


“My name is Offred.”

Margaret Atwood’s novel is a classic and one that, perhaps even more than Orwell’s 1984, feels especially relevant today.  Will Hulu do it justice?  We’ll find out on April 26th.

Here’s the Teaser for 11.22.63


James Franco in Dallas!?

Yes, please!

(James was actually in Dallas filming last month but I was on vacation so I missed him.)

It’s just unfortunate that James is going to be appearing in yet another rehash of the Kennedy assassination.  Allow me to turn on my sarcasm as I say that this film will probably be a totally fair and even-handed portrait of my home city and that everyone in the cast will actually try to get the local accents right (as opposed to sound like a bunch of yankees with peanut butter in their mouth).

But, ultimately, all that really matters to me is that 11.22.63 stars James Franco!  It’ll be available on Hulu starting on February 15th, 2016.

Watching The First Episode of Tommy Wiseau’s The Neighbors Was The Most Unpleasant 31 Minutes Of My Life So Far


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The cast of The Neighbors. Yes, that is Tommy Wiseau in a blonde wig…

Earlier tonight, I went onto Hulu and I watched the first episode of The Neighbors, which is the latest project from cult movie icon Tommy Wiseau.

Before I even start watching, I knew that The Neighbors would be bad.  That’s really the only reason that anyone would choose to watch The Neighbors, just to see how bad it could possibly be.  After all, Tommy Wiseau is best known as the director of The Room, a film that has become famous for being one of the worst ever made.  And, as I’ve made clear on this site in the past, I absolutely love The Room.  I own a copy.  My boyfriend and I have attended countless midnight showings of The Room, where we’ve shouted out all the lines and we’ve thrown plastic spoons at the screen with joyous abandon.  When Clint Jun Gamboa showed up on American Idol, I wanted him to win just because he composed three of the songs that appear on The Room soundtrack.  I consider The Disaster Artist to be one of the best film books ever written.  I’ve even been lucky enough to interact with Room co-star Greg Sestero on twitter.  The Room is a bad film that you can’t help but love and I think that a lot of people — like me — assumed that The Neighbors would be a bad sitcom that you could not help but love.

Uhmm yeah … about that.

Having now watched the first episode of The Neighbors (entitled “Meet the Neighbors”), I can definitely say that sitting through it was perhaps the most unpleasant 31 minutes of my life so far.

The Neighbors is about an apartment complex.  (Every few minutes, we see the exact same establishing shot of the building while some rudimentary but catchy EDM plays in the background.)  The tenants are an eccentric bunch but, fortunately, they’re all watched over by property managers Charlie (Tommy Wiseau) and Bebe (Gretel Roenfeldt).  Remember how, in The Room, everyone was always asking Johnny for his advice?  Well, the same seems to apply for Charlie here.  For the most part, the first episode of The Neighbors consisted of characters stepping into Charlie’s office and telling him about their problems.  Charlie gives advice that is, of course, delivered in that famously impenetrable Wiseau accent.  Characters leave the office.  “What a day!” Charlie says.

(It’s interesting that, in both The Neighbors and The Room, Wiseau played a wise man who keeps his childish friends from making terrible mistakes.  Based on his performances and the portrait of him that emerges in Greg Sestero’s book, The Disaster Artist, I imagine that’s the way that Wiseau prefers to view himself in real life.)

The other main storyline deals with CiCi (Pamela Bailey), a woman who owns a chicken.  When she can’t find her chicken, she wanders around the apartment complex, screaming at people and demanding that they return her chicken.  Eventually, she finds her chicken.

Yay.

There are other things going on, of course.  There’s a guy who is thinking about hanging himself but then he’s paid a visit by Philadelphia (Karly Kim), who has big plastic boobs, looks straight at the camera whenever she has to deliver her lines, and who spends the entire episode wearing a pink bikini.  And then there’s Troy (Andrew Buckley) who smokes weed and sells gun and yells a lot.  When we first meet Troy, he’s angry because he’s found a big note on his door that reads, “BRING $850 TODAY OR BE EVICTED.”  And then there’s Tim (Raul Phoenix) who always has a basketball with him and who is always borrowing money from Tommy so that he can pay back Bebe or from Bebe so that he can pay back Tommy.  There’s a handyman named Ed (Jonathan Freed) and a pizza boy named Joe (Brian Kong) who rents an apartment of his own.  Joe is Asian but his last name is Spielberg because that’s what passes for the height of hilarity in The Neighbors.  Both Joe and Ed also wear Tommy Wiseau-brand underwear.

There was one character that I did like.  Lula (Cheyenne Van Zutphen) is the girlfriend of drug dealer Ricky Rick (played, in a blonde wig, by Tommy Wiseau).  Lula has the power to literally hypnotize people with her charm.  That’s a great power to have and, at one point, she uses it to get a free gun from Troy.  When Troy comes out of his charmed state, he yells and yells while the camera zooms in on his sweaty face.

There’s also a tenant who is upset because his pregnant wife has figured out that he’s gay.  His name is Don and when he first steps into the office, Charlie says, “Oh hai, Don,” and you’re briefly reminded of how much more fun The Room was compared to this.  Don and his wife have a huge fight in the manager’s office while Charlie and Bebe try to maintain the peace.  It all adds up to a lot of yelling.

And that, to be honest, is why The Neighbors was such an unpleasant viewing experience.  Everyone in this show yells nonstop.  They yell when they argue.  They yell when they say hello.  They yell when they tell jokes.  They yell when they say goodbye.  After spending just a few minutes of listening to them, I had a massive headache.  Imagine if the “WHERE’S MY FUCKING MONEY!?” scene from The Room had gone on for 32 minutes and you have a pretty good idea of what it was like to watch The Neighbors.

One reason why The Room is so beloved is because, as bad as it is, it’s also a legitimate movie.  The Room is blessed with such a mix of sincerity and ineptness that the film becomes both terrible and endearing.  You marvel at how bad the film is while also respecting Wiseau for staying true to his own eccentric vision.  The Neighbors, on the other hand, has all of the ineptness of The Room but none of the sincerity.  The Room is fascinating because it’s so clearly the product of Wiseau’s own eccentric world view.  The Neighbors, meanwhile, is the product of Wiseau’s newfound fame.  The Room was made by a director who wanted to make a statement.  The Neighbors, on the other hand, was made by a director who knows that people will watch anything that has his name slapped onto it, regardess of what it may be.

The Room is a guilty pleasure.  The Neighbors is just guilty.  (One side effect of thinking about Tommy Wiseau is that you soon find yourself writing like him as well.)

That said, I’m still probably going to watch the other three episodes of The Neighbors.  The first episode was so bad that the show itself has nowhere to go but up.