‘The Tomorrow War’ Review: Mike Mitchell Edition

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The Tomorrow War (CREDIT: Amazon Studios)

Starring: Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, J.K. Simmons, Betty Gilpin, Sam Richardson, Edwin Hodge, Jasmine Mathews, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Keith Powers, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Mike Mitchell

Director: Chris McKay

Running Time: 140 Minutes

Rating: PG-13 for Alien Scum

Release Date: July 2, 2021 (Amazon Prime Video)

The Tomorrow War stars Chris Pratt as the leader of a fight between Earth and invading aliens in which he must be sent 30 years in the future. He teams up with a ragtag crew, including a future version of his young daughter (Yvonne Strahovski). But I’m not here to talk about them. Instead, this review is all about Mike Mitchell, who’s about 12th on the call sheet, but he’s pretty much the only reason I wanted to watch this movie. Mitchell is primarily known as a podcaster and a member of the Birthday Boys sketch comedy group, the latter of which featured him as a friendly alien who sings a jingle at birthday parties. His podcasting duties include co-hosting Doughboys, in which he reviews chain restaurants. The Tomorrow War, meanwhile, does not feature him chowing down on any good grub, which feels like a missed opportunity.

I’m guessing that Mitchell was cast to be the comic relief character, or one of the comic relief characters. And there needed to be multiple ones! Because, you see, the best part involving Mitch happens when Chris Pratt asks Mary Lynn Rajskub’s character what her name is, and she says “Norah,” which is indeed her character’s name. And then he immediately asks Mitch’s character what his name is, and he also says “Norah.” It’s really well-timed, I promise!

If you’re like me and watching The Tomorrow War only for the Mike Mitchell, you’ll have to be patient, because he’s only in a small percentage of it. But luckily today’s technology allows you to fast-forward and rewind as you please.And there’s also perhaps a consolation prize, as Sam Richardson (of Veep and Detroiters fame) has much more screen time, a good portion of which is meant to be funny. There’s one moment in particular when he continuously shouts a certain four-letter word over and over about a couple dozen times in a row. So I guess this review wasn’t entirely focused on Mike Mitchell. I hope you can forgive me.

The Tomorrow War is Recommended If You Like: Fast-forwarding through Amazon Prime Video’s viewing experience

Grade: 2 out of 5 Doughboys

Movie Review: ‘The Lego Movie 2’ Has Some More Valuable Lessons to Teach Us With Bright Colors and Peppy Songs

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CREDIT: Warner Bros.

Starring: Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Tiffany Haddish, Stephanie Beatriz, Charlie Day, Alison Brie, Nick Offerman

Director: Mike Mitchell

Running Time: 107 Minutes

Rating: PG for Traumatizing Lego Destruction

Release Date: February 8, 2019

Where does a sequel go after the original makes such a definitive statement? This is the conundrum facing The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part. (That subtitle is infinitely unnecessary, but not indicative of the movie’s humor as a whole, and also this title would have looked rather naked without a subtitle.) 2015’s first part summed up in cinematic form the whole ethos of the iconic Danish building blocks: in a world that often favors rigidity and conformity, you cannot give up on your individuality, because everyone can be and is special. Childlike imagination and wonder are what fueled The Lego Movie to be as successful as it was. Those values will get you pretty far in life. So why do any more statements need to be made?

It turns out that while The Lego Movie offers a philosophy with wide-ranging applicability, it is not quite a grand unified theory that covers absolutely everything. It spoke to the power of a singular creative vision, but The Second Part demonstrates how collaboration is equally vital. Emmet Brickowski (Chris Pratt) and his Lego friends are now living in the wasteland Apocalypseburg, because in the human world that is controlling them, a little sister has invaded the playspace of her big brother. So Emmet, Lucy (Elizabeth Banks), Batman (Will Arnett), and company head out to broker a peace with some differently designed block-creatures. This leads to permanent bachelor Batman becoming engaged to a sparkly shape-shifter voiced by Tiffany Haddish, while Superman (Channing Tatum) lives happily alongside General Zod in a Stepford-esque perfect suburb.

Sizing up the situation, Emmet believes that his mission is to free his friends from the brainwashing of strangers. But while it may seem that all is not what it seems, it turns out that that particular mystery trope is not being played as straight as you might expect. The Lego Movie taught us to be skeptical about a constantly smiling world insisting that everything is awesome, but it also taught us that awesomeness sometimes really is awesome if it has genuine feeling behind it. The candy-coated invading milieu of The Second Part initially appears to be fundamentally suspicious. But sometimes a bright, peppy outer layer is only covering a bright and rewarding core. Sometimes a catchy song that jams itself right in your head is so buoyant that you’re happy it’s stuck there. Belief in yourself is important, but don’t forget to be open-minded about everyone else.

The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part is Recommended If You Like: The Lego Movie and its spin-offs, Playing with your siblings

Grade: 4 out of 5 Catchy Songs