Fairy tales come to life, and some die, in Into the Woods, Disney’s long-awaited screen adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s beloved Broadway musical. Director Rob Marshall struggles with the trickier second part of that equation, but for the first hour or so, he conjures an engaging blend of Brothers Grimm fairy tales, soaring musical numbers and lively performances.
Just as a pile of puzzle pieces doesn’t inherently add up to a masterpiece, Let’s Be Cops has precious few laughs for a movie starring people as historically funny as Jake Johnson, Damon Wayans Jr. (both from New Girl), Rob Riggle and Keegan Michael Key. In fact, it has precious few laughs at all.
Tom Cruise is a movie star for a reason. With his square jaw, dazzling smile and effortless physicality, he’s the man we feel comfortable entrusting with sci-fi action because he has a near-perfect combination of humanity and inhumanity. But he can be boring. Last year’s Oblivion tried to compensate for Cruise’s inherent and often beneficial blankness by literally multiplying the number of Cruises onscreen. Edge of Tomorrow takes a different and far more successful approach: Cruise’s blankness becomes the joke, and the narrative “Edge of Tomorrow”: See It Todayengine, and the emotional hook. Hidden beneath his muscular exterior is the man we all fear we’d be.
Earlier this year, the directing team of Phil Lord and Chris Miller tackled the perils of conformity and the joys of creativity in The Lego Movie, which took America by storm and became the year’s highest-grossing movie so far. Having previously adapted Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and revived 21 Jump Street for the big screen, Lord and Miller were no strangers to Hollywood success, but The Lego Movie elevated their profile to previously unthinkable heights.
22 Jump Street ought to do it again. It’s as funny as the original, with an extra layer of metacommentary on the inevitable fatigue and repetition that plagues most movie sequels. Better yet, the metacommentary exists not as a mere distraction from a dearth of originality, but rather a springboard from which new ideas emerge. The movie is about the hapless Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and the muscular Jenkoff (Channing Tatum) chasing their former glory and confronting the unusual nature of their relationship. As in the first movie, there are car chases, preposterous plot twists, romantic entanglements, professional jealousies, pop-culture references, celebrity cameos and tidy resolutions. Working from a script by Michael Bacall, Oren Uziel and Rodney Rothman, Lord and Miller manage to freshen this retread with self-awareness and a genuine layer of compassion.
Listen to this week’s episode here.
This week on The M&M Report, Devin Mitchell and I review the new Jon Hamm baseball drama Million Dollar Arm and reveal the results of a month-old bet involving this season of Saturday Night Live.
The podcast will return with episodes devoted to Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black and more. Stay tuned!
Remember when I used to post daily on this blog? It’s been a while. I’ve been consumed by schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and all sorts of other pursuits that you likely don’t care about. As a result, I’ve failed to do more than re-post the latest episodes of The M&M Report, and sometimes even those went up late.
But summer has arrived, and with it, some pretense of this thing called “free time.” I’ll spend some small part of that free time doing apparently important tasks like “eating,” “sleeping,” “spending time with other human beings” and, if I’m feeling particularly daring, “venturing into the outside world.”
But those tasks are far less interesting than the pop culture consumption I’ve got planned for the months ahead.
Welcome to The M&M Report! This week, Devin and I broke down the Oscar nominees in the major categories, offering our thoughts on the nominees, as well as some alternatives who we would have enjoyed seeing on the list. We closed by listing our five favorite movies of 2013. (For further reading, check out my thoughts on the Oscar nominations.)
Devin and I are proud to announce that The M&M Report will be moving to TheEagleOnline.com beginning next week. We’re very excited to bring a podcast presence to our student newspaper, and we hope that you’ll join us in our transition. Our shows will be very much the same, though perhaps a little shorter – we know firsthand that college students have busy schedules. We’ll start the new era of The M&M Report with a discussion of one of our favorite shows, The West Wing. Plus, the triumphant return of Devin Doesn’t Like Things.
Until then…thanks for listening!
Click through for the time breakdown.