Adam Sandler: 100% Fresh, No Really

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Bygone days of the Opera-Man and Lunch Lady Land we remember with a fondness for simpler, lighter times. Though fame, movie deals and questionable scripts have perhaps tainted our perception of Adam Sandler, Stan and Judy’s kid still has some of the old, stupid magic in him.

‘100% Fresh’, a title tipping the middle finger to the abundance of terrible reviews his most recent film ventures have garnered on the infamous Rotten Tomatoes, is truly a delight throughout, by design.

Directed in part by Steve Brill, with Paul Thomas Anderson (Yes, that one) as Director of Photography for an evening of shooting on film and segments directed by Nicholaus Goosen. ‘Fresh’ is a constructed pastiche of Sandler back out on the road. Sometimes in a cramped New York club, sometimes in huge sold out arenas, the footage collected gives us a taste of the Adam Sandler that captured our filthy little hearts and minds, leaving us gasping in the aisles.

In between anecdotes and short jokes that bank on either a strange image or something to cringe over, we are privy to similarly constructed tunes that take on the minutiae of life (Slow, old folks crossing the street, an unhygienic Uber driver, the dangers of candy) and colors them with familiar apt silliness.

The structure of the hour plus is one made to remain consistent and there is rarely a moment where the joke doesn’t quite work. It appears as though hours upon hours of footage was rifled through for the best takes and with those in tow, a solid (100% fresh) special was crafted to be all killer no filler. This is a neat (and sneaky) trick, but the sentiment is the same. Despite inflated movie premises that bank on weirdly heavy product placement, the Sandman (a name he drops several times in self reference), is back, or rather, never left.

The hysterics wind down in the last 20 minutes or so for some reflection on the past, culminating in a tear-jerking tune dedicated to the departed Chris Farley.

Without giving it all away right here, it’s easy to see the ease at which Sandler can craft jokes, tell stories and sing songs remains. Let’s hope to see more from this side of the Sandman in the future.

You can watch ‘100% Fresh’ on Netflix right now.

Goosebumps 2: Not Too Goosebumps?

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Just in time for the Halloween season, R.L. Stine’s most famous (infamous?) creation is back for another go around. ‘Goosebumps: Haunted Halloween’ is for sure a follow up to the 2015 movie.

Or is it?

Having no returning stars beyond the sparsely used Jack Black, who voices Slappy and portrays the on-screen version of Stine, ‘Haunted Halloween’ has some similar beats without most of the rhythm.

Best friends, Sonny and Sam, are out for one think this Fall season: Junk. Seeking to pick up some extra money, they tout themselves as ‘Junk Bros’ a rudimentary trash collection service for neighbors around town. After posting flyers all over the town, they receive one mysterious, un-traced phone call for a junking job. They are told there is no cash for them, but they are welcome to take anything they find interesting.

Arriving at what appears to be an abandoned house, they ultimately find a miasma of random junk, but something does indeed catch their attention: an almost pristine ventriloquist dummy (Guess who?)

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“Karru Marri Odonna Loma Molonu Karrano”

Reading the magic words, like so many before, brings Slappy to life, and he’s out for…family?

While the character is charismatic as ever, there is something absent. Where before he pined for freedom and slaves, of course, he now seeks out a family to call his own. So much so that we see Slappy doing laundry and even bringing a video game to life (what?).

While his powers seem to have expanded, the story here leaves something to be desired.

Fantastic performances all around, the kids and smattering of familiar adults (Ken Jeong as a wacky neighbor, Chris Parnell as a desperate department store employee) are adept at making the best of the content give for some truly amusing, and chilling moments.

While the tone is consistent and the monsters make a much welcomed return, there is a sense that this time around,  the script seems muddled and warped which loses some of the emotional weight and familiarity. Many of the plot points feel mashed together and watered down perhaps through a mill of writers unable to nail the magic of the first.

Kids will be engaged, old fans will surely find some moments to grasp onto, but the bumps don’t quite goose the way they did.

 

Venom, Anti-Heromantic

 

venom-movie-trailer-release-date-tom-hardy-castThe newest iteration of the infamous symbiotic Spider-Man villain, Venom, as portrayed by the seasoned Tom Hardy, is one I am definitely now keeping tabs on.

The film, a standalone anti-hero origin story, has gotten a lot of mixed reaction amid seemingly bizarre shifts in tone and clarity, but this comes, I think at a misunderstanding what this movie is supposed to be.

Symbiotes from space? Check.

Unwarranted human testing? Check.

Nosy, down on his luck Eddie Brock? Check!

Brock takes on a lot of flack as an investigative journalist meddling often where he is unwelcome, as one would expect in such a line of work. After covertly snaking information from the Life Corporation via his girlfriend, Anne Weying, Brock sets out to expose the under-handed dealings underway at Life Corp.

It does not go well, as one might expect, or does it?

Losing her job, Weying ditches Brock. Alone and also out of work, Brock eventually finds himself back at Life Corp and this time he does not leave alone.

The symbiote known as Venom latches on, and they slowly become one.

How’s that for a meet-cute?

From here on out, Venom follows Brock as he adjusts to his parasi– er symbiote, never quite getting the hang of it, stumbling around sick and afraid.

Coming to ‘Venom’ I expected what most might, an extra-terrestrial evil come to seek vengeance against those that have displaced it in order to return home, or cause further damage.

What I did not expect was the love story.

If you have not seen Venom, you can stop reading here and go right that wrong.

As Venom wraps up, we see Brock meet with Weying in a post-breakup, post-chaos touching base, he is calm and yearning, they share a kiss and ultimately part ways, leaving the chance for reuniting on the table (sequel fodder, no doubt).

This is not the love story I want you to notice.

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Venom, having found a perfect host in Eddie, comes to take a liking for him, a comfort in the knowledge that there is safety and sustenance on this unfamiliar planet in the form of a man.

Eddie too comes to grow an affection for his symbiote, accepting his fate and reveling in the power it brings him.

Venom and Eddie, quite simply, are falling in love. Fans of the comics will see this as no surprise, as it is well documented the characters share an unconventional romance, essentially becoming partners in their time spent together in their symbiotic revelry.

I, not being as familiar, found this delightful and refreshing in an age where sex and gender is finally beginning to be seen for its fluidity and many facets.

I couldn’t help but feel a warmth in my heart as we watch Eddie walk away from Weying down a San Francisco street asking Venom what they would like to do next?

No declaration of love, no wild strange sex encounter (yet), but simply a man asking his symbiote what they might like to see or experience in the expansive, sunny city.

Whether or not they stick to this aspect of the Brock/Venom relationship remains to be seen, but god-damn it I’m rooting for them.

Venom is in theaters now, go see it.

’12 oz. Mouse: Invictus’ Opens a New Chapter

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Back in June of aught five, Adult Swim opened up the world of 12 oz. Mouse, a low budget high concept show from the mind of Matt Maiellaro.

Poorly drawn on its own scripts and simply animated, with dialogue so fast and seemingly meaningless you might think this another anti-comedy venture rife with quotable lines and not much else. You might think wrong.

12oz Mouse, while on the surface is dumb and brash, there is far more below the surface.

Following Mouse “Fitz” Fitzgerald, an alcoholic, shape-shifting mouse taking on various odd jobs to acquire alcohol, we find a through-line of deception, simulations and family life lost.

The show, while full of intrigue and curiosity moved at a snail’s pace. Bits of plot sussed out over time reveal a clearer picture for anyone invested enough to draw anything from this anomaly of late night cartoons.

AND NOW IT’S BACK.

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On the night of October 14th, Adult Swim revived 12 oz. Mouse with a 22 minute special entitled ‘Invictus’.

Upon his return, we find Fitz demonstrating some newly learned Yo-yo tricks, which come in handy when squaring off with the Rectangular Businessman and Shark (no, I’m not being vague) who have a hand in possibly suppressing his memories of a different and better life.

Old favorites like Peanut Cop, Golden Joe, The New Guy, Man/Woman and more all appear in some capacity adding to the chaos of this new chapter in Fitz’ effort to figure out just what, if anything, is going on.

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As to not bog you down with more specifics, I leave you with great news:

12 oz. Mouse is returning to Adult Swim with 10 new episodes in 2020.

Get outta my way, I’m drunk as hell…

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