A novice war reporter in Afghanistan acclimates to her new surroundings.
Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Starring Tina Fey, Martin Freeman, and Margot Robbie
Initial Review by Jon Kissel
Glenn Ficarra and John Requa are a directing team with a handful of totally acceptable films to their names. The indisputable highlight of their careers is writing the script to Bad Santa, but behind the camera, they’ve got I Love You, Phillip Morris and Crazy, Stupid, Love and Focus, three watchable if unexceptional (I assume, with the unseen Focus) films. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot makes four. This Tina Fey vehicle, adapted from a female war correspondent’s book by frequent Fey collaborator Robert Carlock, takes advantage of its cast’s abundant talent by turning a script with modest aims into the kind of weekend-hangover film that the world can never have too many of. There was potential here for something greater, but unlike its lead character, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is perfectly fine jogging in place.
Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon recorded a video game podcast from 2011 to 2015 called The Indoor Kids. If you spend hundreds of hours listening to two people talk, you can’t help but develop a sense of familiarity with them, and Kumail and Emily are so endearing on The Indoor Kids that that becomes especially inevitable. Seeing the culmination of their creative careers together with The Big Sick is like watching a friend achieve a long-held goal or produce something incredible. I barely trust my opinion on it.
In a world devastated by acid rain and a nuclear winter, a movie is born to leadoff 80's-90's nostalgia flicks. What I think the makers of Turbo Kid are trying to do is create some 1990s nostalgia with tons of gore to make that good-bad movie. For a while, they were succeeding, I appreciate that Turbo Kid got straight to the point, there wasn't a lot of lolly gagging. Grown men in a bar with their BMX bikes parked out front is funny. When The Kid gives Apple a ride on the pegs of his bicycle, that's classic 90's. I can relate to the bikes, the Viewmaster, and the distractingly bad SNES music.
But Turbo Kid never does anything. There is no story, there is no apex, and there are no on the edge of your seat action moments. My generation (born circa 1984) seems to love 80s nostalgia movies, maybe they're living vicariously through their older siblings, but I find them mostly lame. And unfortunately Turbo Kid can't survive on nostalgia alone. The gore is absurd and the soundtrack, even while reminding me of playing Super Nintendo, is atrocious.
I glanced at some of the Rotten Tomatoes (89% score) and they talk 80's retro for this movie, but I think it bridges the gap to the 90's as well. Turbo Kid looks retro and is mocking of 80's/90's action movies, so of course condescending critics are going to like it. Chop this movie into a series of it's bike chases and I'm down for 5 minutes of Youtube glory. Otherwise this is bad. C-
In order for a joke to be funny, there has to be some sort of underlying truth as the foundation of the joke. We’ve talked a lot about Adam Sandler quite a bit in this group since he’s the comedian we grew up with. Sandler’s work suffers oftentimes because there is no foundation of truth underneath him. I love Billy Madison, but objectively it’s a goofy and silly movie rather than one that is funny. You look at Happy Gilmore, a more successful comedy, and you can see why it’s rated better. It’s playfully mocking the perception of the seriousness of golf. It has a foundation to stand on rather than just being a man-child who has a clown nearly die at his pool party.
Tour de Pharmacy is built upon a foundation of something that exists. It relies on something true. It’s a mockumentary that takes on the seriousness of sports documentaries, the rampant and obvious drug abuse in cycling, and the ridiculousness of cycling around France for a month. (I love that they seriously use the HBO Sports logo in the beginning and never bother explaining that this is a joke.)
Bong Joon-ho vacillates between the recognizable (Memories of Murder, Mother) and the bonkers (Snowpiercer, Okja), and he excels at both. No matter the tone, he always leaves viewers pondering the events of his film and the broader implications. His latest, Okja, might on its surface be about a girl and her super-pig, but like Snowpiercer, it has big existential ideas on its mind. Shane, Blair, and I talked for a very long time about it in a podcast review. While I appreciate any film that prompts me to talk excitedly for more than an hour, Okja is still tonally all over the place. It also teases an airtight plot in its bravura first hour before jettisoning characters that ultimately have no impact on the final scenes. This isn't Bong's best movie, and is probably his worst. However, when a director's worst movie is at a B, he's doing a lot of things right.
JUST SOME IDIOTS GIVING SURPRISINGLY AVERAGE MOVIE REVIEWS.