“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”: Bait and Switch

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Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is not what you’d expect from a movie starring Tina Fey, written by Fey’s 30 Rock and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt writing partner Robert Carlock, produced by Fey and SNL boss Lorne Michaels, and featuring Margot Robbie, Martin Freeman, Alfred Molina, Christopher Abbott, Billy Bob Thornton and Josh Charles.

Then again: what do you expect from a movie with those credits?

The answer to that question might explain the movie’s piddling box office numbers this weekend. The marketing, from the mystifying title to the underwhelming trailers, suggested a broad, silly comedy about a hapless journalist’s adventures overseas. But the actual movie is a lightly comedic drama about Americans embedded among soldiers amid a dangerous conflict that no one, not even the people fighting it, really understands. That’s not an easy sell, even with someone as theoretically bankable as Fey in the lead role.

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Stephen Colbert: Super Bowl Fumble, Sanders Touchdown

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On Sunday night, Stephen Colbert became the first host in the history of late-night TV to do a show immediately after the Super Bowl. That he and his team fumbled the gig should come as little surprise.

The post-Super Bowl slot has been a mixed blessing of late. Ratings for whatever show follows the nation’s most-watched television event of each year inevitably spike on that Sunday night, but the bump for subsequent episodes is far less substantial, even non-existent. Creatively speaking, most Super Bowl episodes are burdened with such high expectations from audiences and network executives that they’re more concerned with being big and loud than being good. By the end of an exhausting Super Bowl game and halftime show, the last thing most people want to do is keep their brain turned on for one to two more hours of programming, even if they keep their televisions on in an act of sheer inertia.

On top of all those built-in obstacles, Stephen Colbert’s The Late Show is uniquely unsuited to the task of following up the most expensive, expansive spectacle in American pop culture. Continue reading

The M&M Report: “The Big Short” and Celebrity Deaths

Big Short.jpgMark and Devin review Adam McKay’s political comedy The Big Short, which features noisy performances and bad hairdos from Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell and Brad Pitt. Then they look back on a particularly painful week for celebrity deaths to analyze how people respond to the news that their favorite Hollywood stars have passed.

The Big Short discussion starts at 0:45. Celebrity deaths begins at 24:47.

Don’t forget, you can now subscribe to our podcast on iTunes and download the feed directly into the podcast app of your choice. New episodes should show up on your feed immediately and on iTunes within a day or two of release. Subscribe away!

Peruse the M&M Report category page for previous episodes of the podcast. Thanks for listening.

The M&M Report, Episode 16: Battle Howl

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This week on The M&M Report, Devin Mitchell and I talked at length about one of 2013’s last movies and one of 2014’s first. It was a study in contradictions, with the excesses of debauchery followed by the simplicity of combat.

The Wolf of Wall Street has gotten lots of acclaim, as you would expect from a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Martin Scorsese, but it hasn’t been immune to controversy, including allegations that it glorifies the despicable character at its center. Devin and I debated this issue and praised the movie’s performances even as we struggled to decide whether the movie is profound or merely compelling.

Lone Survivor is perched high atop this week’s box office, and it’s not hard to see why: established box-office draw Mark Wahlberg, solid supporting cast (Taylor Kitsch, Ben Foster, Emile Hirsch, Eric Bana), respect and admiration for the American military. We talked about the movie’s grotesque highs and jingoistic lows.

Next week, we’re going to take a deep dive into the best movies of 2013, spurred by tomorrow’s Golden Globe Awards and this Thursday’s announcement of the Oscar nominations. Expect return visits from previous podcast topics like 12 Years a Slave and Inside Llewyn Davis plus our thoughts on other favorites like American Hustle, Nebraska, Her and Dallas Buyers Club.

We talked about several articles during this week’s show. Here’s a helpful list:

  • Devin’s review of The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Steven Perlberg’s Business Insider piece detailing bankers’ reactions to Wolf
  • Devin’s article about Jordan Belfort’s American University visit
  • My review of Lone Survivor

Until next week…thanks for listening!

Click through for the time breakdown.

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