CHRIS MIKSANEK - THE MED CITY
MOVIE GUY It might sound a little out of my
wheelhouse, but it’s not been that long
(geologically, anyway) since I was entering 6th grade
as a dorkish insecure dweeb. That’s why I simply
don’t buy Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life,
the pre-teen comedy based on the popular James
Patterson series. Teen Vogue models having a tough
time in middle school? Boo-Hoo.
requisite but thinly-defined characters like the “cool
teacher” (better executed by Jon Stewart in The
Faculty), a standardized-test-obsessed
principal, and the stock one-dimensional bully.
But wait, there’s more. The attempt to make the
story more mature, v. for instance, the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, by
adding a dark backstory — main character Rafe
Khatchadorian communes with his recently deceased
brother — comes off forced on screen though it
probably played better in print. For my money, Zac
Efron in Charlie St. Cloud was much more moving in a
similar situation though I more quickly warmed-up to
Thomas Barbusca as Rafe’s imaginary brother Leo and
was actually disappointed to learn he was not real.
(Lila & Eve, Fight Club)
Laughs are few
and Rafe’s mom’s jerk of a
boyfriend Rob Riggle gets them all.
funny, and poignant grade school narratives are what
you’re after, rent a copy of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules.
CHRIS MIKSANEK - THE MED CITY
MOVIE GUY The title is a bit
misleading. This is actually just the Magnificent
Denzel Washington and the pretty good six. (The John
Sturges 1960 original teamed Academy Award winner Yul
Brynner at his peak, “The King of Cool” Steve
McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, “and the
rest,” to borrow from the season one Gilligan’s
Island theme. Technically, they weren’t all
magnificent either, I suppose, but it was one of my
dad’s favorites which means I was introduced to it
growing-up. It’s my baseline.)
the hardest thing for me was getting past the whole
why would they even remake this masterpiece, next
thing you know they’ll be redoing Ben Hur, too
rhetorical indignation. The partnership of Denzel and
Antoine Fuqua (who together gave us Training Day and
The Equalizer) intrigued me so I pushed past my
Here, like in 1960, downtrodden
townspeople hire seasoned guns to get the yoke of
oppression off their backs. (Film writers are
mandated to point out that this is merely an
adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, though
I am convinced that only makes them sound lofty. The
American West invented the western and was Kurosawa’s
influence. So, there,
I’ve grown tired of remakes
in general and the hackneyed excuse that they serve
to introduce a new generation to a classic film plot.
Thus, how you enjoy this revision (one man escapes
the hangman when the latter is unable to assemble his
mail-order “Gallows by IKEA” but the plot is
otherwise intact) depends on whether you think Fuqua
adds actual value by amping-up the action, depicting
gritty and more realistic violence, and servicing
fully all of the mercenaries’ backstories — something
Sturges did not do.
Regrettably, for Denzel fans, too
much screen time is exhausted on the diversity of the
team while never actually demonstrating the value
of it. The Comanche is good with arrows and the
Korean good with knives — “quaint” 19th-century
caricatures at home in the Rose Creek of 1879 where
hardscrabble settlers, farmers most of them, just
want to be left alone to work hard and keep the
fruits of their labors.
Chris Pratt as Josh Farraday, “a gambler with a fondness for explosives,”
probably does the best job though his ribbing of
Mexican outlaw Vasquez (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) is
cringe-worthy at times. The unlikely standout is
Vincent D’Onofrio as a grizzly mountain man.
Rounding-out the seven are Ethan Hawke, Byung-hun
Lee, and Martin Sensmeier.
I expected more though we
did get a treat during the end credits: a few bars of
the original Elmer Bernstein theme.
“I thought things were going to get better under
President Obama,” NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden
(Joseph Gordon-Levitt) says in the eponymous
docudrama. “I was wrong.” Obama, he says, assured
supporters there would be no domestic surveillance.
Not only had our intelligence agencies been spying on
us all (all!) though backdoor access to emails,
chats, SMS, Skype, and remote activation of laptop
webcams (I have a Band-Aid covering my peephole now,
and so will you after watching this one) but on
foreign leaders, as well.
All the while, of course, denying doing so.
(“Yes we scan!” reads one
protestor's sign in the film. And not to pile on, but
Obama dismissed Snowden as just a “hacker.”)
start-out an enemy of the state. He came from a long
line of public servants and himself began adult life
as a would-be Army Ranger. But when an injury led to
his discharge (he broke a leg falling out of bed,
does it get any more ignoble than that?) he looked
for another way to serve his country, unwavering
patriot that he was then.
The math- and cyber-wiz has
no problem landing a gig with the CIA where he excels,
though in short time he’s exposed to agencies’ dirty
deeds, weak rationalizations and their barely
Adding to his demoralization is
liberal girlfriend (Shailene Woodley); soon he’s
thinking maybe our government is not infallible after
all. (“This is not about terrorism,” he says in a
revelation, “Terrorism is the excuse; it’s about
economic and social control.” Maybe. Probably. Let’s
Director Oliver Stone both leverages and puts
behind him his reputation as a conspiracist; i.e., if
you were to suspect your own government of doing what
Snowden (and WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange) has
demonstrated they do,
your character (or worse) would be assassinated
marking you just to the right of Dale Gribble.
when it’s true?
Right, so that’s when the dialog
begins. Unfortunately, few films evoke the
conversation they purport to. This one, though,
makes-salient issues like privacy, government trust,
and the delineation of whistleblowing v espionage.
With amazing performances by Woodley and
Gordon-Levitt, this is a must see, but if you go...
pay with cash.
CHRIS MIKSANEK - THE MED CITY
MOVIE GUY OK, he didn’t do that
thing Denzel did in Flight,
land a plane upside down, but the emergency maneuver
US Airways Captain Chesley Sullenberger exercised
back in 2009 is still pretty remarkable.
Sully (Tom Hanks in yet
another award-worthy performance), unable to safely
return to New York’s LaGuardia airport, managed to
remarkably land his plane on the Hudson River without
a single loss of the craft’s 155 souls.
When Harry met Sully
Before he was Captain
Sully, he was Captain Phillips.
I caught-up with Tom Hanks at 2004’s Critics
Choice Movie Awards where we reminisced for
45 seconds about the old days and futons. But
unlike the US Secret Service, George Clooney, and
Leonardo DiCaprio, Hanks was unimpressed with my
little Sony camera. Hmmm...
Hungry for good news to latch onto, NYC
immediately heralds this Miracle on the Hudson
and declares Sully a hero, and indeed he was/is. But
barely before the ice-waterlogged survivors are
helped aboard first-responder boats the NTSB starts
supposing that Sully might have unnecessarily risked
the lives of his crew and passengers. Simulations,
they say, demonstrate the plane could have made it
back. Sully’s experience told him otherwise but that
doesn’t prevent him from second-guessing a lifetime
of flying. He’s vindicated, of course, though not
before undeserved public persecution.
Eastwood, noted for bringing the tales of alternate
American heroes to the silver screen — Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (American
Sniper), self-sacrificing everyman Walt
Kowalski (Gran Torino), and
legendary FBI Director J. Edgar [Hoover] (if you swing that way) — outdoes himself here. Unfortunately,
when it comes to the politically-outspoken director,
Hollywood’s been as stingy with awards as Delta is
And for those playing the “Do
any of the rescuers say No one dies today?
drinking game,” of course they do.
(Because the geese, who I regard as the real
die in excruciating pain when sucked into the
CHRIS MIKSANEK - THE MED CITY
MOVIE GUY Reminiscent at times of
the magnificent Coen Brothers’ No Country
for Old Men, Scottish director David
Mackenzie’s Hell or High Water
is handily one of the year’s best and a treat for any
fan of well-executed westerns.
Sheridan-penned story follows Howard brothers Toby
and Tanner (Chris Pine and Ben Foster respectively)
who orchestrate a string of bank robberies in an
economically-savaged region of West Texas with a
crusty Texas Ranger (Jeff Bridges) in close pursuit.
While Tanner is game for anything, Toby has a motive
that involves revenge for a predatory
reverse-mortgage so the lines of morality are blurred
and the delineation between hero and villain is not
Extremeley well written and
immediately engaging with just enough humor to
humanize the characters without making them
caricatures. Special call-out to T-Bone Café waitress
Margaret Bowman (who, coincidentally, had a small
role in the aforementioned Coen 4x Oscar-winner)…
you’ll know what I mean when you see it.
bulked-up Hill (admit it, though he has an
appointment with a coronary we like him better this
way) partners with an old friend (Miles Teller) in need
of a career bump. The two make a nice dollar off the
crumbs larger suppliers don’t bother with during the
peak of our involvement in Afghanistan. Then they get
Lots of laughs and surprising intrigue
from Hangover director Todd
Hill’s confident and obnoxious character is
one of his best performances to date.
CHRIS MIKSANEK - THE MED CITY
MOVIE GUY There’s an old Yiddish
saying: “With money in your pocket you are wise and
you sing well, too.” It’s tempting to levy that axiom
on Florence Foster Jenkins,
the 1940s New York City music patron who’s surrounded
by a cadre of socialites and columnists bribed by a
husband self-charged with protecting her from the
scoffers and mockers.
The things is, though it has the vibe (humor
+ pathos) of a Woody Allen film (e.g.,
Radio Days) and some comical moments (a
tubful of potato salad is a guaranteed guffaw,
Shakespeare wrote), it’s hard to laugh at her
positively atrocious singing for her sincerity is so
Meryl Streep is the delightfully
deluded Jenkins in perhaps the first awards-worthy
performance of the year; Hugh Grant is her dutiful
husband. Upstaging them all whenever he’s around is
Big Bang Theory’s Simon
Helberg as her accompanist.
A joyful film that
skews to an older audience who can relate to the T-shirtism:
Dance like no one’s watching. Jenkin’s
version, “People may say I can’t sing, but no one can
ever say I didn’t sing.
Less than sophomoric,
Seth Rogan’s animated comedy Sausage
Party is freshmanic and replete with
entendres ... yet it is not without laughs.
Or at least “a” laugh.
The single-joke premise: a hotdog named Frank (the
first of the so-called “obvious humor” that plagues
this one) voiced by Rogan wants to, err, get into
Kristen Wiig’s bun.
First, they need a
shopper to deliver them from their shelf to the great
beyond — a Valhalla for consumables where they are
liberated from their packaging and all of their wild
fantasies will come true.
that happens they are separated from the shopping
cart and left to fend for themselves among mostly
harmless ethnic stereotypes like a Woody Allen-ish
bagel (voiced by Edward Norton) who constantly
quarrels with a Middle Eastern flatbread complaining
the former is “occupying shelf space;” their
relationship is straight outta Don’t Mess With
examination falls flat even before it’s revealed the
Great Beyond was a just myth created by the
nonperishables (Mr. Grits, Twinkie, and a bottle of
Firewater) to give comfort and insulate the
consumables from the brutal reality. (Their ultimate
revelation is reminiscent of the famed Twilight
Zone episode “To Serve Man.”)
While this one deserves
its R-rating for language and food carnality,
remarkably it is not short on violence, either. Those
edibles that did manage to make it out of the market
and into a comfy condo kitchen face savage fates. A
potato with a cheery Irish brogue screams as his skin
is peeled from his body and thrown into boiling
water. Once jolly bacon fries. Chips and cheese
anguish in a microwave. And the baby carrots? It’s
just too terrible to describe.
One brilliant —
brilliant — moment: singer Meat Loaf’s cameo.
But otherwise, Sausage
Party is … not fit for human consumption.
CHRIS MIKSANEK - THE MED CITY
MOVIE GUY We should demand more from
Matt Damon and the wildly popular spy thriller
Bourne franchise than this fourth (or fifth, if
you count Jeremy Renner’s The Bourne Legacy)
installment: Jason Bourne.
Ending it once and for all, a mantra repeated
throughout, Jason Bourne (Damon) modulates between
avenging his father and helping to prevent the CIA
from obtaining a backdoor into a Facebook-like social
app called Deep Dream. And though there are
mentions of Edward Snowden, privacy and government
overreach, the topic is never fully explored. The Zuckerberg-like creator of Deep Dream (Nightcrawler’s
Riz Ahmed) merely has a crisis of conscience over the
app’s start-up dollars. (A plot explored in Sandra
Bullock’s The Net though
there with more leg.)
Irritating shaky cam shots
and unnecessarily-long scenes like an early 15 minute
chase in Greece saddle the pic though it does finally
get traction midway through and from there is
“Expect the empire to strike
back,” Dinesh D’Souza says from a jail cell early in his
new documentary, Hillary’s America: The Secret History
of the Democratic Party. The Indian-America director
not-too-subtly attributes his stripes to the hand of our
President and his delicate ego over D’Souza’s earlier scathing film,
2016: Obama’s America. The director’s crime? A $20k
political donation he made but neglected to call a
Like Michael Moore’s cinematic
screeds, best-selling author Dinesh D’Souza’s hit-piece
is unlikely to change minds. (More on so-called
here.) Still, if even only a fraction of
Hillary’s America is accurate, writer William Peter Blatty’s pull quote describing it as “Utterly terrifying”
says a lot. After all, who knows ‘terrifying’ better than
the author of the shorts-soiling classic chiller The
D’Souza spends most of the film’s
107 minutes preaching to the choir; illustrating what the
Right believes are indictments and what the Left
waves-off as either conspiracies, irrelevance, “no
evidence of,” or “Dude, that was years ago.” To wit:
Democrats formed the KKK to
frighten newly-freed slaves from voting for
carpet-bagging Republicans from the north who vowed to
disenfranchise white southerners. (To be fair, except for
persisting in their low expectations, the party has
since moved left of the notorious hate group they
JFK would not recognize his party today. For
example, more Iowa Dems identify with socialism than
with capitalism and President Obama has embraced the
same Cuban regime Kennedy once fought.
The so-called “Big
Switch” is nonsense. Democrat archetype Andrew Jackson,
father of the party, drove Native Americans off their
land, created reservations, and made the indigenous
people dependent on
the government. Little has changed since: minorities in
most large cities, in President Obama’s own words, are
victims of similar ‘plantation policies’ and government
codependence. (D’Souza reminds us of the administration’s
creepy cradle-to-grave adverts, e.g., “Under President
Obama, Julia decides...”
Liberal darling and eugenics
advocate Margaret Sanger drew some of her loudest huzzahs
when she spoke to a Klan rally.
Less than 10% of the cash
(cash!) that the Clintons solicited for Haiti was
disbursed to ailing country.
Then D’Souza starts on Hillary
herself concluding — surprise! — Ms. Clinton deserves not
the White House but the Big House. (He calls
both Clintons corrupt and congenital liars demonstrating once again
that it is a mathematical certainty that any talk of Bill
Clinton eventually gets around to mentioning genitals.)
And the director had better hope for the latter because
if Hillary wins in November it’s a cinch that come the
morning of January 23rd, 2017 either a drone or the IRS
will be visiting him.
Of course, much of the
dot-connecting is specious, as is the case with films of
this ilk and politics in general. But with so many
individually damning nuggets, how long can the Clintons
continue to play their supporters for fools with
shameless carefully-worded non-statements like “[I'm not
saying I didn't, just that] there is no evidence of” or
the insufferable “it depends on what your definition of
For D’Souza, none of this made sense until
his time behind bars. (“Locked up,” he says, “not
in a nice Martha Stewart-type accommodation, but in a
barracks-style jail among robbers and murderers.”) There, he met a gang leader who helped
him draw a connection between the Democrats’ reign and grifters,
in general — both swear by the mantras “Never give up the
con,” and “deny, deny, deny.”
Perhaps most remarkable: Hillary’s America comes from producer Gerald Molen who
brought us the films Jurassic Park,
Rain Man and others. So there’s that.
The Right doesn’t need this one
to tell them that the Clintons are slippery and nothing
will convince the Left of their fallibility so take this one at face value.
Still, as an entertainment piece,
it’s not without merit.
CHRIS MIKSANEK - THE MED CITY
MOVIE GUY In the mid-80s, at
the height of the War on Drugs, we were desperate to
try just about anything, even a stab at the
simplistic with, “Just say no.” Short of legalizing
everything and hoping free-market pressure would
disincentivize third-world suppliers, for reals, what
could be done?
U.S. Customs agent Robert Mazur
thought it would be novel to follow the money, which
proved to be both the brass ring and the bane of
dopers south of the border. After all, tons of cash
were unwieldy flowing. Disrupting that might just
draw-out the cartel leaders. Thus was born Bob
Musella, The Infiltrator.
Based on Mazur’s
book of the same title, director Brad Furman’s film
more than sufficiently mixes intrigue and suspense
with Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston deeply — often
times in over his head — undercover as a virtuoso
favorite John Leguizamo co-stars as Mazur’s partner
but the standout is Benjamin Bratt as Roberto Alcaino
whose family “Musella” and his pretend wife befriend
to help take down the notorious drug lord Pablo
Escobar as well as the corrupt multinational bank
that helped sterilize his cash.
loses its period vibe after only about twenty
minutes, it maintains a feel of authenticity
reminiscent of the best of the genre including
Donnie Brasco and American Hustle.
CHRIS MIKSANEK - THE MED CITY
MOVIE GUY Though no one is knifed
walking through Central Park, the New York City depicted
in The Secret Life of Pets otherwise captures
the urban spirit of NYC from the upscale Brooklyn
neighborhoods to the pampered pets of the hipsters who
One of the coddled is Max (Louis C.K.),
a pleasant Jack Russell whose owner (Unbreakable
Kimmy Schmidt’s Ellie Kemper) takes good care of
until one day she brings-home a rescue the size of the
Chrysler Building and upsets the apartment’s dynamic.
two canines find themselves heatedly at odds one
afternoon and tussle their way out of familiar territory. Lost, they scamper the naked city until falling-in
with a comical group of sewer thugs: misanthropes who’ve
been flushed by their original owners and led by a white
rabbit named Snowball (Kevin Hart), himself abandoned by a
Meanwhile, back in the safety and
comfort of their co-op, a search for the two is underway
by a white Pomeranian neighbor (Jenny Slate) with
feelings for Max.
Fun for all, but mostly for
younger demographics. Unlike a Pixar tale, here there is
no deep transformational moral takeaway. In other words,
this one is filled with empty calories but it is
nonetheless delightfully innocuous. The animation is
fresh and colorful and the action is well-paced without
Props for the reference to Some
Like It Hot — when an old dog is hitting on a fat
feline, she protests, “Dude, I’m a cat;” The dog shrugs,
“Well, nobody’s perfect” — but I would have liked to see
a nod to Ed Norton, the original King of the Kosciusko Street Sewer.
From Despicable Me director
Chris Renaud and preceded with a Minions short.
Lazy scholarship and derisive
political narratives would have you believe that everyone
south of the Mason-Dixon Line is/was a racist and that
what we generally call the Civil War was all about the
South’s desperate struggle to maintain the deplorable
practice of slavery.
In fact, few that fought even owned
slaves and the so-called “peculiar institution” was
already in a swift decline towards extinction —
had only recently forsaken it themselves. What is telling
is how each side referred to the conflict. Unionists (the
North) viewed it as a “Rebellion” by those states daring
to leave the superior jointure (a sort-of 19th-century Brexit); the South, conversely, saw it as their dutiful
fight for independence, for self-determination, likening
it to the break eighty-five years earlier from British tyranny.
In many ways, then, this one was similar to every war since in
which we asked ourselves: Why are we here?What is the
Matthew McConaughey movies that are alright,
Tropic Thunder In this
outrageous send-up of A-list egos, McConaughey is
Ben Stiller’s devoted agent.
Dallas Buyers Club
McConaughey took home a number of accolades —
Critics’ Choice Movie Award for
Best Actor — for his portrayal of real-life AIDS
patient Ron Woodroof who resorted to
unconventional treatments that helped extend his
and other victims’ lives.
Time to Kill
“It’s easy when you have great writing,” the
actor told me in 2013 when I brought-up this John
Grisham story of a young lawyer (McConaughey)
defending a Mississippi man (Samuel L. Jackson)
who killed the men who violently assaulted his
If you’re still with me, Free State of Jones may be the truest telling of real
life during the War Between the States.
Matthew McConaughey is Newton Knight, a nurse for the South who
deserts in 1862 and takes-up with a band of runaway
slaves in the swamps of Jones County, Mississippi where
they make life difficult for confederate tax collectors
and supply foragers. As time goes on, other deserters
Knight and he
takes for a wife a slave named Rachel (Gugu
Mbatha-Raw). Eventually the outlaws proclaim their own independence as
the titular Free State of Jones.
“People deserve to keep the
fruits of their own labor,” is
their motto and in the
course of exercising that right, this one at times has a Robin Hood feel with the swamp their
Sherwood Forest and a predatory Lieutenant (Brad Carter)
their Sheriff of Nottingham.
It’s loosely based on a true
story and intercuts with 85-year flash-forwards in
which a descendant of the pair is on trial for the
preposterous charge of intermarrying. The cuts jolted me
from the mid-19th-century vibe and I would have preferred
them left out (especially that the film both runs and
Still, it’s a well-executed film
have trouble finding an audience. That’s a pity.
Co-stars Keri Russell and
House of Cards’ Mahershala Ali.
CHRIS MIKSANEK - THE MED CITY
You never really know what to expect in a Dwayne Johnson
movie but you can be pretty sure that Meryl Streep is not
going to co-star. Double sure when the Rock is teamed-up
with comedian Kevin Hart. (Though to be fair, Al Pacino
was a Dunkin’ Donuts spokesman in Adam Sandler’s Jack
and Jill so the realm of the impossible is smaller
than it was back in cinematically-saner times.)
The phrase that comes to mind with Hart’s hyper-comedic
persona is “typecast.” He’s virtually the same character
in every movie: Ride Along, Ride Along 2, Think Like
a Man, Get Hard, The Wedding Ringer. That’s not
necessarily bad as two other phrases come to mind: “Give
moviegoers what they want,” and, “Laughing all the way to
Much of the same can be said of
breakout action star Dwayne Johnson (exceptions being
Empire State, Be Cool, and Hercules) whose
career apex was probably flexing his arm muscle to
pop-off a cast in Furious 7, which was pretty
So don’t get all uppity if this
mash-up of the two is not your cup of Kickstart. After
all, it’s not in the running for a Palme d’Or at Cannes,
though that might make for a sequel plot with delicious
opportunities for A-list cameos.
Central Intelligence was, hands-down, one of the best comedies
I’ve seen in a long time.
Hart is Calvin Joyner
who in high school was a big deal (The Golden Jet). For
Johnson, a/k/a Robbie Weirdicht, it was just the
opposite. He was the target of every bully there. Twenty
years later, Calvin has little to brag about at an
upcoming class reunion until Weirdicht comes back into
his life as a buff, possibly rogue, CIA agent.
teaming makes for great laughs (Johnson sporting a fanny
pack and unicorn t-shirt in virtually every scene and
Hart reluctant to jeopardize his marriage or career) and
the intrigue surprisingly engaging.
comic chops impress and Hart does not annoy.
Trigger warning: if you need/heed trigger warnings you
will find this review (and film) offensive because you
are the documentary’s
President Obama will be
remembered for a number of accomplishments among them
ushering-in an unprecedented hyper-level of sensitivity.
Can We Take a Joke director Ted Balaker credits this unfounded outrage for both the
demise of comedy and the erosion of free speech. And it
has fomented in the most unlikely place: college
once charged with the intellectual maturation of
nascent generations in whose hands our liberties are
entrusted. The original “safe space” for diverse speech
and controversial ideas is now occupied by pajama boys
suckling into their late 20s. Indeed, 47% of 18-30-year olds,
think the First Amendment goes too far. Goes too far.
Take a moment to get your arms around that one.
Traditionally liberal bastions think free speech goes too
far. This had even taken the great George Carlin aback. “I have come to expect censorship coming
from the Right-Wing,” he says in Balaker’s film, “but
from the Left PC crowd it was surprising.” A
disappointment that comic icons Jerry Seinfeld and Chris
Rock recently lamented, as well.
The documentary opens with, what
else, an apology tour. Gilbert Gottfried, Jimmy Kimmel,
Jonah Hill, Don Imus — all of them making public
allocutions and begging forgiveness for entertaining their
audience at the expense of a few grievance interlopers.
This, Balaker intersperses with scenes of villagers
taking-up torches from 1931’s Frankenstein, a visual for
popular podcaster Adam Corolla’s assessment that the
perpetually outraged assume a mob witch-hunt mentality
when you dare deviate from their SJW narrative.
Know-it so you don’t
laughter means you should be ashamed (and
punished) for laughing at something that someone
else thinks is offensive.
Veteran comics like Penn Jillette
especially “rage against the outrage.” His career inspiration
came from the archetypal line-crosser Lenny Bruce, who
was himself a textbook example of government policing
(literally) speech. Yet only a generation later (Bruce
died in 1966 after being sentenced to real, not
suspended, jail time for
obscenity) we’ve regressed from kicking down the door of
censorship to being too frightened to open it.
And where does it end? Balaker
makes what at first seems like a leap connecting the
outrage movement to the Charlie Hebdo shooting in which
11 people on the staff of the French satirical magazine
were killed. But as the film carries on the tragic
conclusion feels less like a stretch than it does the
“Outrage is a powerful political
tool,” Jillette says. As the symbiotic two-step between
appeasers and the always-offended group circles the bowl,
the siphon effect sucks us all down.
Thoughtful commentary that is
entertaining, infuriating, and
CHRIS MIKSANEK - THE MED CITY
MOVIE GUY SNL
alum Andy Samberg and longtime comedy partners of ‘The
Lonely Island’ comedy troupe, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma
Taccone, are the fractured pop/rap boyband ‘The Style
Boyz’ in the funny-as-hell mockumentary, “Popstar: Never
Stop Never Stopping.”
Samberg never veers far from the
formula of these types of gone-solo and/or
reluctant-reunion send-ups (e.g., Sam Jackson’s and
Bernie Mac’s “Soul Men”) but what makes this one stand
out is the outrageous humor and spot-on parody. There is,
for instance, an ever-developing TMZ lampoon (Will Arnett
kills it as a Harvey Levinesque gadfly) and some of the
hits from ‘Conner4Real’ (Samberg’s solo character) — “Bin
Laden” and “Mona Lisa, You’re an overrated piece of s***”
(the R-rating is well-earned) — are themselves worth the
price of admission.
Clearly this would not work
without an ‘air of authenticity’ so there are plenty of
solid cameos. The best are Seal and Martin Sheen though
for the brief moments he’s on screen, Justin Timberlake,
as Tyrus Quash, Conner’s personal chef, steals the show.