The social structure of a wealthy high school is upended by a broody newcomer.
Directed by Michael Lehmann
Starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater
Review by Jon Kissel
We discussed personal favorite World’s Greatest Dad a few years ago, and I praised that film to the rafters for its satirical, black-hearted take on dead teenagers and the survivors’ subsequent reactions. It turns out World’s Greatest Dad had an antecedent in Heathers, a film somehow blacker and more cynical than Bobcat Goldthwait’s black and cynical work. World’s Greatest Dad exists in a recognizable reality that acknowledges that everyone has their particular weaknesses and blind spots that can be exploited at will, but Heathers takes place in a heightened world where empathy is a foreign word and death and murder are meaningless outside of whatever personal gain can be wrung out in the aftermath. I thought Heathers was going to be some pointed teen comedy, like a sharper Clueless or Fast Times, but it stands alone in the (personally foreign) teen comedy genre.
The mileage one gets out of MacGruber is going to be directly proportional to how much the viewer appreciates Will Forte’s facial gymnastics. I personally love it every time his weird face scrunches up in agony or fury, so this is a movie that works on me. Jorma Taccone, away from his Lonely Island roots, essentially makes a straight action flick and staffs it with a character who not only is a ripoff of an absurd 80’s primetime detective but is also the direct antithesis of every bad-ass testosterone-fest from the same decade. A solid premise plus whatever Forte is doing with his eyes in any given moment makes MaGruber into one of the decade’s better comedies, and one more unjustified commercial flop on the Lonely Island’s collective resumes.
This one was a lot of fun. Lenny Abrahamson's Frank could have been an insufferable quirk-fest, but his story of a musician with a unique compulsion strikes the balance between oddity and pathos. Featuring a spectacular physical performance from man-in-the-head Michael Fassbender and a ridiculous soundtrack, Frank is loaded with meaty material that has kept me thinking about it long after the initial viewing.
The release of a new Paul Thomas Anderson movie qualifies as an event that requires immediate tribute. The first opportunity to see it must be taken. I saw There Will Be Blood and The Master the first day they came to my midwest theaters and have clear memories of both. The opening shots of There Will Be Blood lighting up the darkness are seared into my brain. The feeling of being pushed back into my seat by Freddie Quell's intensity is an indelible memory. Hoping to get the same cinematic thrills from Inherent Vice, I left intrigued and impressed but not blown away in the way that I expect to be from PTA.
I don’t think anyone would disagree that Brie Larson has had an incredible career, but one that hopefully didn’t achieve its greatest potential too fast. From her breakout roles in Scott Pilgrim and United States of Tara through her critical success with Short Term 12 that culminated a mere two years later with Room, Larson has since migrated to big blockbusters with Kong: Skull Island and Captain Marvel. Neither utilized her talents particularly well but both were big successes, and dollar signs frequently light the way to the blank check, some of which she’s cashed to make her directorial debut before her 30th birthday. Arriving on Netflix, Unicorn Store adds a new imdb tab to Larson’s page but it doesn’t return her to the heights of 2015, though I don’t think she’s returned to that level at all in the intervening years.
JUST SOME IDIOTS GIVING SURPRISINGLY AVERAGE MOVIE REVIEWS.
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