Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 3/26/21

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Pooch Perfect (CREDIT: Christopher Willard/ABC)

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

Movies
Bad Trip (Streaming on Netflix) – Eric Andre strings Lil Rel and Tiffany Haddish along for his shenanigans.

TV
The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers Series Premiere (March 26 on Disney+) – Ducks never say die.
Solar Opposites Season 2 (March 26 on Hulu)
Pooch Perfect Series Premiere (March 30 on ABC) – Rebel Wilson hosts a dog grooming competish!

Music
-Evanescence, The Bitter Truth

Who Can Resist Taking a ‘Bad Trip’ with Eric Andre? Not I, Said This Reviewer

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Bad Trip (CREDIT: Dimitry Elyashkevich/Netflix)

Starring: Eric Andre, Lil Rel Howery, Tiffany Haddish, Michaela Conlin

Director: Kitao Sakurai

Running Time: 84 Minutes

Rating: R for Thoroughly Shameless Crudity, Nudity, and Psychoactive Drug Indulgence

Release Date: March 26, 2021 (Netflix)

I sure wish I had been able to experience Bad Trip in a packed theater, but at least my hearty laughs in my solo viewing experience were enough to fill my living room. This delightfully demented piece of guerilla filmmaking is basically a feature-length version of the man-on-the-street bits from Eric Andre’s anarchic eponymous Adult Swim talk show. Starring alongside Andre are a couple of famous funny people as well as dozens of unsuspecting members of the public. There’s a bit of a story (with the screenplay credited to Andre, Dan Curry, and director Kitao Sakurai), in which Florida Man Chris (Andre) has a chance meeting with his old school crush Maria (Michaela Conlin), who invites him to come check out her art gallery in New York City. He then invites his best pal Bud (Lil Rel Howery) on a road trip to the Big Apple, and they abscond in a car that belongs to Bud’s incarcerated sister Trina (Tiffany Haddish), who busts out and tracks down the boys with deadly intentions. The narrative actually hangs together a lot more nicely than I would expect in a prank film, but ultimately it’s just an excuse for a bunch of outrageous shenanigans.

Practical jokes can be hilarious, but ethically speaking, if you’re going to be a professional hooligan, you ought to be careful about who you select as the butts of your jokes. I approve of Andre’s mischief because he is consistently the target of his own pranks. He renders himself into every possible version of a fool, while the unsuspecting public provides another layer of humor by serving as witnesses struggling to make sense of the chaos unfolding around them. In Bad Trip, that chaos includes fake blood splatter, fake projectile vomit splatter, and fake semen splatter. (Shame is a foreign concept to Eric Andre.) The crowd might get hit by some shrapnel, but Andre’s the only one who’s truly suffering for his art.

Bad Trip unsurprisingly holds up when considered on a scene-by-scene basis. But it’s tough to sustain a narrative when utilizing a sketch-comedy sensibility. But shocker of shockers, it turns out that the script delivers some satisfying emotional payoffs to all of its characters. It helps that everyone involved takes a decidedly askew approach to the tropes of buddy flicks. For example, there’s a runner about the notorious 2004 Wayans Brothers cross-dressing comedy White Chicks that improbably gets its own little mini-arc and cathartic conclusion. We all need a space for our ids to run free every once in a while, and I’m so glad that Eric Andre and his cohorts have put theirs on display for all the world to see.

Bad Trip is Recommended If You Like: The Eric Andre Show, Jackass, Borat

Grade: 4 out of 5 Stolen Cars

Hey, You Guys Are Reading the WORST Review of ‘Eric Andre: Legalize Everything’ on the Internet!

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Eric Andre: Legalize Everything (CREDIT: Brian Roedel/Netflix)

When you go to an Eric Andre show, you know what you’re getting yourself into. (Or at least you’d better.) But that sense of familiarity can also lead to a bit of a problem, or perhaps a challenge. Eric is always ready to regale us with stories of his drug-fueled and sex-filled escapades, and we know that, so there’s not much shock value to him delivering the most graphic details, whether they’re fully real or a tad embellished. Compare that to The Eric Andre Show on Adult Swim, which derives its wonderment from him interjecting his shenanigans into the unsuspecting public.

Ergo, the most satisfying moments of Andre’s Netflix special Legalize Everything arrive when he ropes in some folks who have no idea they’re about to become comedic cannon fodder. Like the boyfriend of an ex-fling of Eric’s who’s basically a jerkwad 80s movie villain, whom we get to know via a revealingly aggressive text exchange. Then there’s the (very cool) mom of an audience member who finds herself pranked into a surprise FaceTime session. Where others might lean back in the name of safety and propriety, Eric Andre always charges ahead like the most adorable butt-sniffing pit bull. He’s the wokest hedonist there ever could be. You know what he believes in? “Live, laugh, love.” We should all be filled with such ranch.

Entertainment To-Do List: Week of 6/19/20

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Eric Andre: Legalize Everything (CREDIT: Brian Roede/Netflix)

Every week, I list all the upcoming (or recently released) movies, TV shows, albums, podcasts, etc. that I believe are worth checking out.

Movies
You Should Have Left (On Demand) – Blumhouse horror starring Kevin Bacon and Amanda Seyfried.

TV
Sherman’s Showcase Black History Month spectacular (June 19 on AMC and IFC) – Just in time for Juneteenth!
-2020 ESPYs (June 21 on ESPN)
Perry Mason Series Premiere (June 21 on HBO) – The classic defense attorney returns to TV in the form of Matthew Rhys.
Search Party Season 3 (June 25 on HBO Max)
The Twilight Zone Season 2 (June 25 on CBS All Access) – Guest stars include Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, and Billy Porter.

Comedy
-Eric Andre: Legalize Everything (June 23 on Netflix) – Legalize “everything”? Including … ranch?

Music
-Bob Dylan, Rough and Rowdy Ways
-Neil Young, Homegrown

Movie Review: Go to the New-ish ‘Lion King’ for the Technical Marvels If You Must, But Stay for the Goofy Sidekicks

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CREDIT: Disney Enterprises

Starring: Donald Glover, JD McCrary, Seth Rogen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, Billy Eichner, James Earl Jones, John Kani, John Oliver, Beyoncé, Shahadi Wright Joseph, Florence Kasumba, Eric Andre, Keegan-Michael Key

Director: Jon Favreau

Running Time: 118 Minutes

Rating: PG for Leonine Fratricide

Release Date: July 19, 2019

I’ve expressed before that Disney’s recent spate of remakes of its animated catalog is not an inherently bad idea. Plenty of stories have been told and then subsequently retold in fresh ways. For a classic example, William Shakespeare’s plays have remained relevant as many different versions have had their say over hundreds of years. But the major difference, and this is especially clear in the case of The Lion King, is the source document. A feature film that has been recorded on and uploaded onto a variety of durable formats sets a more indelible imprint than an initial theatrical performance that was presented before such recording technology existed. If you want to revisit the journey of Simba’s ascendance to the throne, you can always pop in the DVD or find the right streaming channel. Thus, a fresh feature length retelling demands that there be something new on offer.

The Jon Favreau-directed photoreal Lion King remake does in fact offer something new, at least (or if only) on a technical level. Every speck of dirt and strand of fur is rendered in painstaking fashion. But to what end? I’m reminded of Steven Soderbergh’s mashup of Hitchcock’s original Psycho and Gus van Sant’s remake, which is the sort of thing that you do just because you feel like it. And so, as far as I can tell, the team at Disney recreated the “Circle of Life” opening sequence with an updated animation style just because they felt like it. I have a bit of a Pavlovian reaction to that wonder of a kickoff, but this time it was just a secondhand Pavlov to a secondhand routine.

On a positive note, I will admit that I found this viewing experience valuable for making me feel more amenable to the adult perspective of believing that Simba just needs to get around to taking care of his responsibility. But I don’t know if that is a unique feature of this version or just a function of me happening to see this particular version instead of the original on this particular day.

In conclusion, while I have mostly focused on the disappointments, I do ultimately recommend nü-Lion King thanks to the Timon and Pumbaa of it all. As Simba’s meerkat and warthog companions, Billy Eichner and Seth Rogen are given more free rein than anyone else in the cast to find the characterization that suits them. Their performances avoid any inadvisable postmodern Shrek-style smart-aleckry, while also suggesting that they are at least self-aware of the all-franchise-fare-all-the-time pop culture landscape they are operating within. If you’re going to go back to the well, you can’t be too precious about what came before, and thankfully, enough of Timon and Pumbaa’s non-preciousness is on display here for us to get by.

The Lion King is Recommended If You Like: The wonders of animation technology, Perfectly suited yin/yang comedy duos

Grade: 3 out of 5 Circles of Life

Watch And/Or Listen to This: Eric Andre at the RNC

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“Black lives bladder.”

The Eric Andre Show returns August 5!

2015 Emmy Nominations Predictions and Wishlist

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For my detailed thoughts on my predictions and wishlists in the major Drama, Comedy, and Variety categories, check out these links:
Comedy
Drama
Variety

Guest Actor, Comedy
John Hawkes, Inside Amy Schumer
Michael Rapaport, Louie
Chris Gethard, Parks and Recreation
Dwayne Johnson, Saturday Night Live

Guest Actress, Comedy
Susie Essman, Broad City

Guest Actor, Drama
Mel Rodriguez, Better Call Saul

Guest Actress, Drama
Allison Janney, Masters of Sex
Linda Lavin, The Good Wife

Directing, Comedy
Rob Schrab, “Modern Espionage,” Community

Directing, Drama
Adam Arkin, “The Promise,” Justified

Writing, Comedy
Dan Harmon and Chris McKenna, “Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television,” Community

Writng, Drama
Thomas Schnauz, “Pimento,” Better Call Saul

Animated Program
Bojack Horseman – “Downer Ending”
American Dad! – “Dreaming of a White Porsche Christmas”
The Simpsons – “Treehouse of Horror XXV”

Commercial
Android – “Friends Furever”

Host – Reality/Reality Competition
RuPaul, “RuPaul’s Drag Race”

Interactive Program
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Main Title Design
Man Seeking Woman

Single-Camera Picture Editing, Comedy
Bojack Horseman – “Downer Ending”

Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program
Too Many Cooks
Billy On The Street With First Lady Michelle Obama, Big Bird And Elena!!!

Stunt Coordination for a Comedy Series or a Variety Program
Community

Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role
Man Seeking Woman – “Traib”