12 Films of Christmas 2020 (Part 6)

Can you believe we’re halfway through this little series of themed posts already? Time sure flies when things happen. I was gonna say “when you’re having fun”, but frankly as I’ve gotten older, days just fly by like a coked up hummingbird. So anyway, let’s talk about something green and nasty. And no, I’m not talking about that moldy loaf of bread you have on your counter.

So as you probably figured out from the header image, we’re talking about “The Grinch”, a 3D-animated reimagining of the Dr. Seuss classic. It was released in 2018 and stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular green git. And as in the other adaptations, he’s a little cranky about Whoville being excited and cheerful about christmas. So he may or may not start plotting to ruin it. But then you also have Cindy-Lou Who (Cameron Seely) as she plots to find a way to talk to Santa Claus. Superfluous subplot much? This suffers from some of the same issues as the Jim Carrey movie, but somehow manages to still be way less interesting than that. At least the Carrey movie was weird and batshit insane enough to be interesting. This one plays it like a lot of modern kids’ films with some pop culture schtick, lazy dialogue, and no sense of edge or personality.
And then there’s Benedict Cumberbatch. I like Benedict Cumberbatch, he’s a terrific actor. But good grief, he is actually kinda bad here, and I’m not entirely sure it’s his fault. But his performance here can never truly know what it wants to be. Is it a scheming, dickheaded affair? Sometimes. But it’s also really wacky and goofy and not befitting of either the title character of Cumberbatch’s skillset. The Grinch doesn’t feel like the Grinch, and the lead actor (who I think could make a great Grinch) feels off. Also, his design here is too cute and visually appealing. Grinch is a monster, not a plush- oooooooh, now I get it… merchandise.
So yeah, “The Grinch” 2018 is a toothless, dull, overlong, and frankly unfunny reimagining of a classic story. Maybe if you have kids or grandkids they might enjoy it… but it’s not exactly what I’d call good.

On the sixth day of christmas, Markus watched another Grinch
A version that didn’t grow his heart an inch

12 Films of Christmas 2020 (Part 4)

Hey, I know you were planning to head out for a walk. But baby it’s cold outside, so you should instead stay indoors, get yourself a cup of your favorite warm beverage, and read this post of mine. Sound good? You got your warm beverage? Good, then let’s do this.

So today we’re talking about “Klaus”, a 2019 Netflix animated movie about Jesper (Jason Schwartzman), a spoiled, lazy brat whose entire world gets flip turned upside down when his dad forces a job on him in hopes that he’ll learn something about responsibility. What job? Being a mailman on a remote island, of course. And while trying to come to terms with his new position, Jesper meets a hermitic bearded man (J.K. Simmons), and the two soon form a partnership to bring joy to the children of the island. All while the elders of the island try to keep this joy from happening, because it goes against tradition. So yeah, a lot of familiar tropes going on here. But familiarity doesn’t mean poor quality. Because the execution here is terrific. It’s filled with heart and warmth and hilarious humor. Mix the already enjoyable story with colorful and charming characters played by a stacked and perfectly chosen cast, and you get a movie that managed to dig itself into my heart.
But this delicious sundae isn’t complete with a little cherry on top, and for “Klaus”, that cherry comes in the form of some of the most beautiful animation I’ve ever seen. What’s even cooler is that it’s generally traditional hand drawn 2D animation, but then it implements some CG in the lighting and shading department, creating this uniquely dynamic style for the movie that is utterly breathtaking to look at.
So to try to wrap this up, “Klaus” is a nicely told little holiday tale filled with heart, great performances, and amazing animation. I can definitely see myself watching this next year too… and the year after that. It’s amazing.

On the fourth day of christmas, to my heart Klaus said hi
And later yours truly proceeded to cry

Series Review: Angie Tribeca – Season 1 (2016)

Police work is serious business. Finding killers, stopping drug dealers, preventing further thefts. So it’s interesting when the profession is played around with in film and tv in a more comedic format. We’ve gotten quite a few variations on that throughout the years, and today’s review is of one such thing.

Ladies and gents… “Angie Tribeca” season 1.

Angie Tribeca (Rashida Jones) is a tough-as-nails, no nonsense, lone wolf of a police detective in an LAPD precinct. But her whole life will change when she’s assigned a new partner (Hayes MacArthur) who will help her solve some really horrible crimes, like the apparent suicide of several bakers, or the death of a beloved ventriloquist. So now we have our cop comedy (copedy?). And what I like about the plot(s) of this show is that it kind of follows the “Airplane!” mentality of storytelling, in that it doesn’t immediately feel like a comedy until they start involving the jokes and other silly things throughout. It gives it a fun and (in these modern times) refreshing feel that I always loved following. And each case that the team takes on is of course a fun spin on the typical cop formula as well. Good stuff.

The characters in this take some of the established characteristics of serious cop shows and turns them into sillier and slightly more incompetent versions of them. First up we have Rashida Jones as Angie Tribeca, who respresents the typical “I had a partner, and now I don’t want a partner” badass who might learn to warm up to a new partner. She’s a good cop, but can be a bit impulsive form time to time. And Jones is great in the role. Then we have Hayes MacArthur as Jay Geils, Angie’s new partner in crime-solving. He shows a decent amount of deductive reasoning, but he is also not the smartest tool in the shed. And MacArthur is great in the role. Next up we have Jere Burns as Chet Atkins, Angie’s and Jay’s lieutenant. He’s loud and a bit stuck up, but ultimately cares about his precinct and is often involved in operations. And Burns is great in the role. Then we have Andree Vermeulen as Monica, a medical examiner who works at the precinct. She’s smart and is probably the one who is the best at actually doing her job at this precinct. And Vermeulen is really good in the role. Then we have Deon Cole as Tanner, another detective from the precinct. He’s a little harder to pin down as a character, but he is an enjoyable character who gets some good moments throughout. And Cole is really good in the role. And finally we have detective David Hoffman, played by Jagger… a german shepherd. Yes. One of the main players is a dog. And there’s a really funny recurring joke about him throughout that I will not spoil. But I can safely say that Jagger is a good boy. Then you get tons of great supporting work throughout from people like Alfred Molina (who might be my favorite in the show), Lisa Kudrow, Gary Cole, John Michael Higgins, and so many more. A lot of talented people in this.

The score for “Angie Tribeca” was composed by Jim Latham, and I think it was really good. Kind of like I mentioned with the plot, the music takes a sort of “Airplane!” approach where it’s done like it’s not in on the joke, and has a fairly serious sound, which adds to the absurdity of the entire thing, which improves on a lot of scenes throughout.

The show was created by Steve Carell and his wife Nancy, and written/directed by them (and various other people). And they’ve created something really fun here. It’s mostly shot like a relatively serious show (again, kind of like “Airplane!”), but it’s filled with a lot of gags. Speaking of which, the comedy in this copedy (I am gonna start using that term from now on) is absolutely hilarious. I’d say that it’s a mix of “Naked Gun” and “Hot Fuzz”. It can be extremely silly (“Naked Gun”) and it can be snappy and self-award (“Hot Fuzz”), while still feeling like it’s own thing. I don’t think there’s any joke in this that I found bad. I always laughed, whether through a small chuckle or a gut-busting laughter. It’s so much fun.

This show/season has been well received. On Rotten Tomatoes it has an 88% positive rating and a “Fresh” certification. On Metacritic it has a score of 78/100. And on imdb.com it has a score of 7,0/10.

Season 1 of “Angie Tribeca” is the type of silliness that we don’t really get much of these days, so I find the show quite refreshing. It has a really good plot, great characters, great performances, good music, good directing, and fantastic comedy. Time for my final score. *FREEZE!*. My final score for season 1 of “Angie Tribeca” is a 9,84/10. So it gets the “SEAL OF APPROVAL!”.

My review of “Angie Tribeca” season 1 is now completed.

Sometimes you just need a good laugh.