‘Weird,’ But True: This is the Most Accurate Movie Review Ever

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Weerd. (CREDIT: The Roku Channel)

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Evan Rachel Wood, Toby Huss, Julianne Nicholson, Rainn Wilson, Spencer Treat Clark, Tommy O’Brien, Jack Lancaster

Director: Eric Appel

Running Time: 108 Minutes

Rating: Unrated (It’s a little over-the-top, but fun for all ages)

Release Date: November 4, 2022 (The Roku Channel)

What’s It About?: Did you see that fake trailer for a Weird Al biopic when it dropped on Funny or Die back in 2010? Now it’s fake no more! Well, the movie is real, but the trailer is still kind of fake, insofar as it was produced separately from the actual movie and most of the cast is different. Also, much of the biographical aspect of the whole endeavor is purposefully fake, befitting its subject.

Yes, I’m talking about Lynwood’s Alfred Matthew Yankovic, master musical parodist nonpareil! He’s played this time around by none other than Daniel Radcliffe, who doesn’t exactly resemble Al much beyond skin tone (and perhaps comedic sensibility). In case you haven’t figured it out by now, Weird: The Al Yankovic Story isn’t exactly sticking to the facts in the strictest sense of the term. We’ve already been blessed both with musical biopic parodies and with Weird Al sensing his cinematic muscles, so can this latest venture possibly meet those high standards?

What Made an Impression?: I am a Weird Al devotee. Whenever I encounter anything he’s ever done, I’m comforted by a sense of everything feeling right in the world. That’s all to say: Weird was kind of burdened by unfairly high expectations. How I can go on living if this movie weren’t non-stop hilarity?!

But within just a few minutes of the projector rolling, something magical happened: I laughed. And then I laughed some more. This was no mere forced tittering, my friends, but instead the most natural reaction in the world. Pulling this off couldn’t have been easy. We Weird Al fans are by definition uber-savvy about pop culture, so we can spot every predictable plot twist and turn from a mile away. And while occasionally Weird can’t help but be straightforward, there are enough times that had me going, “Whoa, where the heck did that come from?”

One of those bizarre decisions is a propensity towards a multiplicity of shots of characters watching major developments happen on small TVs. That was certainly a directorial CHOICE from Eric Appel, and I’m not sure why he did it, but it definitely stuck with me.

Besides its slippery relationship with reality, Weird‘s other major attraction is its whirlwind of celebrity cameos. You could certainly look them up ahead of time on a thoroughly maintained online database, but I’ll keep it a secret on my little corner of the Internet. Instead, I’ll describe my reactions to seeing these cameos arrive: “Oh wow.” “This is just too much.” “Whoa. Whoa, whoa, whoa.” “I hope this never ends.” “There she is!” “How are we so blessed?” “Gah!” “Oh, man.” “!!!” “!!!!!” “!!!!!!!”

And for the record, yes, I did eat a cup of Rocky Road afterwards.

Weird is Recommended If You Like: UHF, Walk Hard, Bologna

Grade: 4 out of 5 Accordions

And You May Ask Yourself: What Awaits Us in ‘The Lost City’?

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The Lost City (CREDIT: Paramount Pictures)

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Channing Tatum, Daniel Radcliffe, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Patti Harrison, Oscar Nuñez, Brad Pitt, Raymond Lee, Bowen Yang

Directors: Aaron and Adam Nee

Running Time: 112 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for A Few Bursts of Violence and Strategically Shot Nudity

Release Date: March 25, 2022 (Limited)

Should The Lost City be discovered, or should it remain lost? That is the question. Or maybe it’s not really the question, but I’ll nevertheless go ahead and ask it because I’d like to have something to focus this review around. And by bringing up the topic of focus, I don’t mean to imply that this film lacks focus. Far from it, in fact! You heard it here first, folks: this is a movie with a straightforward plot that’s easy to follow. Sandra Bullock plays Loretta Sage, a novelist who gets kidnapped and taken to a legendary location from her latest book, while Channing Tatum plays the ditzy cover model who attempts to rescue her, and eventually they make their way out the other end. It’s globe-trotting, high-stakes fun that’s designed to be oohed, ahhed, and laughed at. And I imagine that pretty dang close to 100% of audiences will know exactly when to provide those gasps and chuckles.

So if I have one big criticism about The Lost City, it’s that it’s perhaps a little too straightforward. I hoped for some charming repartee between Bullock and Tatum, as well as a full course of comic relief supporting performances from the likes of Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Patti Harrison, and Bowen Yang. And that’s exactly what I got! But not much more. There’s one surprising development early on involving one of the biggest stars, but afterwards I was left with a sense of, “Yes, that was an adventure.” Here’s the deal: if you’re going to cast Daniel Radcliffe as an eccentric billionaire villain, things should probably get unabashedly weird. Instead, they only get kind of weird. Who knows, maybe I was just infected by the malaise that Loretta was giving off by resenting her career and audience.

But here’s what stuck with me in a welcome way, and why The Lost City might just be worth tracking down. A showcase scene involves Bullock peeling leeches off Tatum after a jungle river swim, which necessitates him dropping trou to make sure she checks every crack and crevice. They keep it PG-13, but this is a classic case of survival-minded lack of modesty that keeps things rolling along. And then there’s an unforgettable performance from Oscar Nuñez (aka Oscar from The Office) as a guy who has a plane and a goat. It makes sense in context, or at least part of it does. And the rest that remained nonsensical is where I derived most of my joy from. So I guess my answer is: I’d like to find this titular city while still feeling like I’m at a loss.

The Lost City is Recommended If You Like: Sandra Bullock unexpectedly witnessing her male co-stars in the buff

Grade: 3 out of 5 Cover Models

Best Film Performances of the 2010s

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CREDIT: YouTube Screenshots

Back in April, I revealed my lists of the best podcasts, TV shows, TV episodes, albums, songs, and movies of the 2010s. I declared that that was it for my Best of the Decade curating for this particular ten-year cycle. But now I’m back with a few more, baby! I’ve been participating in a series of Best of the 2010s polls with some of my online friends, and I wanted to share my selections with you. We’re including film performances, TV performances, directors, and musical artists, so get ready for all that.

First up is Film Performances. Any individual performance from any movie released between January 1, 2010 and December 31, 2019 was eligible, whether it was live-action, voice-only, or whatever other forms on-screen acting take nowadays. For actors who played the same character in multiple movies, each movie was considered separately.


Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend: Jmunney Log #1

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CREDIT: Netflix

I’m a little skeptical about choose-your-own adventure stories, but I’m not skeptical about Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, so I happily watched the UKS choose-your-own-adventure special Kimmy vs. the Reverend. I am planning on watching it some more times in the future and choosing different story branches. I will then log my selections after each viewing. Here is Log #1

-Fun dress
-Go to the gym
-Plan wedding
-Donna Maria
-Call Cyndee
-Take Titus
-Get down to beeswax
-Lillian sings
-Walk to town
-The script
-He knows it
-Go with Lillian
-Lose it
-Read to the baby
-Woodland banquet
-‘Splode him
-Spare him

In ‘Guns Akimbo,’ Daniel Radcliffe Discovers That EVERYTHING’S Gone Akimbo

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CREDIT: Saban Films

Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Samara Weaving, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Ned Dennehy, Rhys Darby

Director: Jason Lei Howden

Running Time: 95 Minutes

Rating: R for Big Booming, Bloody Effective Gunfire and An Awkward Attempt to Use the Toilet

Release Date: February 28, 2020 (Limited)

If some goons bolted a couple of huge black pistols to your hands and then forced you to fight in a live-streaming death match, what would you do? That’s the setup for writer-director Jason Lei Howden’s thought experiment/action bonanza Guns Akimbo. Presumably, for many of us, the answer to this question would be what happened to Daniel Radcliffe’s video game developer character Miles, which is to say: run around in a panic, get really stinky while struggling to put on pants and go to the bathroom, and maybe survive for a little while by relying on instinct and adrenaline. What is perhaps less likely is where Miles ultimately ends up, which is summoning all he’s got to turn the tables on the freaks running this game. Maybe most people in this predicament would wind up dying within five minutes, but that’s why this story isn’t about them.

With movies about these sorts of illicit underground sensations, I always wonder about the larger context. Is the rest of the world just carrying on normally, or this some sort of dystopia, or maybe a mini-dystopia in a town that can’t think of anything better to do than have its citizens kill each other? The game in Guns Akimbo takes place wherever its players go, so there is a vibe of massive violence occurring in plain sight. Actually, it’s not a vibe so much as an actuality. To wit, when Miles goes to his office to get one of his co-workers to help him out with something, there ends up being a massacre with plenty of collateral damage. There’s not a whole lot of context-setting, but I think we get just enough to understand that the deadly consequences are unpredictable and indiscriminate, though only a small percentage of the world is obsessed with the carnage.

Keeping Miles on his toes is his opponent Nix, played by Samara Weaving in a profoundly disaffected style that’s miles away from her wonderfully hysterical work in Ready or Not. She’s got herself constantly numbed by drugs, all the better to keep herself focused on blasting away any comers with panache and to not be overcome by the emotional scars of her tragic backstory. Eventually, she and Miles realize they have more in common than they thought, and that leads to a fairly satisfying climax. But really, the main attraction is seeing how Miles figures out how to do fairly simple tasks with huge pieces of metal blocking his hands. At one point, a homeless man played by Rhys Darby offers him a hot dog but refuses to slip it into his mouth, and you can never know how cruel that is until you see it. How Miles was not constantly fainting from the pain, we may never know. The human body’s fight to survive can be quite resilient.

Guns Akimbo is Recommended If You Like: Embracing that scuzzball lifestyle

Grade: 3 out of 5 Handguns

This Is a Movie Review: Swiss Army Man

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SWISS ARMY MAN (2016) Daniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano

Swiss Army Man is a lot like the recent X-Files episode, “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster,” in that a human-esque creature learns the rules that govern human civilization and then offers a rejuvenating perspective to a fully human companion. In this case, that creature is the corpse of Daniel Radcliffe,henceforth known as “Manny” (not unlike Rhys Darby as “Guy Mann”), whose presence revitalizes suicidal Hank (Paul Dano), most strikingly with the propulsive power of his flatulence. But there is so much more to Manny. He combines a blank slate, sophistication, and bluntness for a new form of wisdom. As Manny develops the ability to talk, his and Hank’s conversations tend toward the discomfort (both physical and social) of bodily urges and functions, but they are treated with the tenderness worthy of deeply connected friends. Swiss Army Man threatens to lift the veil of its fantasy, but it keeps its corpse fart-engine running, because magic exists.

I give Swiss Army Man 721 New Uses for the Human Body out of 1030 Possibilities.

SNL Recap January 14, 2011: Daniel Radcliffe/Lana Del Rey

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Cold Opening – A Message from Mitt Romney
SNL seems to have decided that the main idea of Sudeikis’s Romney is that he is emotionless and doesn’t know how to talk like a normal person, which isn’t much, but when it leads to lines like “slinging the pigskin around” and “my five human sons,” then it is something, at least. B

Daniel Radcliffe’s Monologue
This wasn’t so much comedy (i.e., joke-telling) as much as it was an expression of a philosophy.  Dan brought up some reasonable points, even though we all knew he was just jerking us around a little bit.  Still, it was a good idea to temper expectations. B

Ricky Gervais
Ricky Gervais makes fun of celebrities because they are a group of people who perhaps ought to be taken down a notch.  It’s not like dogs and flowers have that in common with celebrities.  Hiring Ricky to make fun of those groups would just be pointless, and this sketch had a corresponding lack of spirit. C