Greetings programs and welcome to this week’s episode of the Awesome Friday Podcast. Simon is back after his week off and we are talking about two new streaming releases. First up is the new Netflix Sci-Fi thriller Spiderhead, starring Chris Hemsworth, Miles Teller, and Jurnee Smollett. Following that we have Sundance darling Cha Cha Real Smooth, the sophomore effort from writer, director, and star Cooper Raiff and co-starring Dakota Johnson, now released on AppleTV+.
There are streaming links powered by JustWatch a little further down this page, and the episode should be live wherever you listen to podcasts (including on this page) now.
Greetings, programs, and welcome to this week’s podcast! Following a year-long journey from its festival premiere at Fantasia 2021, Mark O’Brien’s The Righteous is finally coming to cinemas and on-demand thanks to Arrow Video and Vortex Media, and after a 36-year gap, Tom Cruise is back as a Pete ‘Maverick’ Mitchell in the long-awaited sequel to the 1980s classic Top Gun, Top Gun: Maverick.
There are streaming links powered by JustWatch a little further down this page, and the episode should be live wherever you listen to podcasts (also including on this page) now.
There’s finally been a bunch of news about the upcoming Fantastic Four movie and it’s been hard to tell whether it’s going to be good or bad. This trailer finally makes it look like it might be ok at least. Let’s watch!
There are few people in this world who can really work with obscenities the way Michelangelo worked with stone or da Vinci with oils. J.K. Simmons is one of those people and it looks like he gets to show us the full range of his talent in the forthcoming _Whiplash_.
Note this trailer is from France so there is some swearing. Put on headphones if you’re at work.
There’s a fine line that adaptations of novels have to walk. Leave too much in and you risk your movie becoming plodding and boring. take too much out and you risk dumbing down or losing a theme or moment or sub plot integral to that story. Nowhere is this more clear than with Young Adult novels. Because they are generally fairly easy to follow in the first place the smallest choice a director makes can have drastic consequences for the movie you are making.
Case in point, _Divergent_ is a movie that I am sure is based on a good book that discusses and explores interesting themes, but the movie itself glosses over all of this to tell a pretty by the numbers story about a girl in a not-that-dystopian future.
Young Adult fiction seems like it must be pretty hard to adapt. Harry Potter made all the money, as did Twilight, and it looks like The Hunger Games will too, but most other young adult novels tend to, well, underwhelm.
Divergent is the next franchise to make a run at it, and here’s a proper trailer, theatrical poster, and character posters. Fun!
The problem with comedy is that it depends on so many subtle factors. Each of the vital elements – script, cast, direction, editing – must be both strong in itself and also interconnected with each other. When it works, it’s a beautiful thing that lifts the spirits and throws smiles around freely. When it doesn’t, when each element fails individually and disrupts the whole, you’re left with a bitty, unstructured mess that leaves an extremely sour aftertaste. Unfortunately, *21 And Over* is one of the sourest comedies I’ve seen.
The premise is one you’ll be familiar with if you’ve ever seen any film starring a group of college kids that include an achiever, a sweary idiot and a introvert with a big day approaching. Miller, Casey and Jeff Chang (who is always referred to in full) are three high school best friends who have found College has pulled them apart in more ways than just geography. On the day of Jeff Chang’s 21st birthday – an important date in America that finally releases alcohol from the shackles of secrecy and fake IDs – Miller and Casey arrive at their old friend’s residence to treat him to birthday hijinx. However, Jeff Chang has a lifechanging interview for Medical School set up by Harsh Asian Father, and refuses to go out so as to be fresh and ready by 7am. Of course, his resolve disappears and extreme drunkenness soon leads to a race against the clock to get Jeff Chang home in time, incorporating spanking, punching and nudity along the way. Basically, it’s *The Hangover – The Early Years*.
Which would be fine, if the constituent parts amounted to anything. There are no new stories, it’s true, but the way in which stories are *told* has the ability to excite through creative choices. This narrative electricity is wholly absent in *21 And Over*.
One of the main issues is that the three main protagonists don’t have any kind of connection on screen. Compared to something like *Superbad*, their relationship never feels genuine, or that it stretches past the words on the page. Maybe it’s the casting, maybe it’s the heavy-handed direction and script; something seems to be holding the actors back, even though they’ve each proven very capable in their other films. Having the heart of the movie so unbelievable makes their journey together barely interesting.
The narrative structure and scripting is equally frustrating. Full of convenient jumps and side-steps, the main characters often behave in a way that does not endear them to the audience but instead leaves us scratching our heads at the way it unfolds. Lines are predictable and practical rather than cheeky and inspired, while characterisation is a standard journey from A to B. Set-ups and scenarios are garish and unattractive, the movie happy to propagate the myth that US Colleges are mostly full of flashing girls and dickhead jocks. It’s very hard to connect with a story that constantly dissuades personal connection.
It’s technically a mess, too. Apart from the previously mentioned ineffective direction, at some points the editing and ADR is so bad that the flow of scenes completely breaks down. Full of dubbed lines over non-moving mouths and jarring drops in pace, it’s odd to imagine how it was not corrected before release.
It’s not a total disaster, though. One or two of the lines break a smile, and chief Douchebag, Randy, has a couple of male followers who are genuinely hilarious in their literal narrative of his every action. More of this kind of curveball humour would have added much to the blandness.
By the end, you find yourself frustrated at the lack of imagination in the turn of events. The conclusion, a seemingly perfect opportunity for Harsh Asian Father to redeem himself in the face of his suicidal son’s newfound honesty, simply ends with straightforward violence and parental rejection. However, this squandered opportunity just matches what has been happening for the previous ninety minutes, and so the viewer is just left with rolling eyes at the missed potential.
If you feel the need to watch this kind of against-the-clock College comedy, there are much better titles to choose from. In fact, just watch *Ferris Bueller’s Day Off* again, even if you’ve seen it before. I guarantee you’ll have a much better time, and anyway, you’ve seen everything *21 And Over* has to offer many times before in much better ways. Avoid.