BOJACK HORSEMANA stupid comedy that’s actually very clever and witty. A cynical series that actually has a lot of heart. Nothing in Bojack is as it seems and that’s the fun of it. This show only gets better as it goes and the season finale could actually be a series finale if it had to be. Celebrity, friendships, life, love, hopes, dreams, lots of themes for a cartoon centering on a talking horse but they all come together in a bittersweet (mostly bitter) end. Here’s to you Bojack…and the looooooong wait for season 2.

Stormy Curry


the-skeleton-twins-posterHow connected at brother and sister Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig in THE SKELETON TWINS. Very near the start of the film they both decide to commit suicide on the same day. Hader is a little more committed to the task at hand, he actually winds up in the hospital. Wiig appears ready to do it, then gets a phone call from the hospital about her brother. So, you’re wondering where is the comedy right? It’s there. Just not the point of THE SKELETON TWINS. Hader is the centerpiece. He is a failed actor in Los Angeles (not many of those, right) who has apparently just broken up with his boyfriend. She takes him home with her to their childhood home in New York. You know, being the responsible sister. I mean, she’s married to a great guy (the wonderful Luke Wilson). So she’s ok. Yeah, not so much. She is as miserable as Hader, maybe even more messed up. While Hader masks his despair by being a smart aleck, Wiig fucks away her feelings. Having affairs, even though she is married to a great guy who she claims to love. The Skeleton of the title are little toys given to Hader and Wiig as children by their eccentric father. But it also refers to the Skeletons the two keep hidden from the world and from each other. Hader has a big one, but I won’t spoil that for you here. I don’t know if it is surprising, but the remarkable thing here are the performances of Hader and Wiig. Both known more for being funny than moving. But in this film, the funny is secondary to the heart and the exploration of their dynamic as brother and sister in a dysfunctional family. Hader is a revelation. A fantastic performer who is also a potentially great actor. Only time will tell. THE SKELETON TWINS will make you laugh, think and maybe even shed a tear. What more can you ask for in a movie? — Alan Yudman


Take 1 cup of THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE, a 1/2 cup of THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, 2 tbsp of WOLF CREEK, (plus another tbsp of WOLF CREEK 2, optional), a generous dash of Tod Browning’s FREAKS, a soupçon of FEED, and any amount you like of any of the other horror movies from which Kevin Smith derived this thin, adolescent piece of meh. On the upside, grand old Michael Parks and an almost unrecognizable Johnny Depp are fully committed and quite wonderful as the psycho and the ex-detective tracking him down; their sole scene together has the tension and crackle of two actors seizing their one chance to go balls out. Otherwise, Parks and Depp have to play opposite a meant-to-be-obnoxious-but-ultimately-just-annoying Justin Long and some nobody named Genesis Rodriguez. (Credit, though, to Haley Joel Osment for taking a nothing part and at least making a welcome — actually, a welcome-back — impression.) To me, the most shocking thing in the movie was my reaction at the end: “That’s it ???” The story starts at Point A, ends at Point B and never takes a turn or a twist to complicate matters or give them any heft. The gore is minimal and indifferently shot (especially the final death battle). The “walrus” makeup? Pretty much a guy in a rubber suit. TUSK is a husk. — Jeff Schultz


BOJACK HORSEMANBOJACK started out funny, then it got hysterical, and then it blossomed, with increasingly fleshed-out (not sure if pun intended) characters who have become more three-dimensional than those on the crummier human sitcoms. In fact, this is a comedy that could easily have been produced with people instead of drawings. Except then you wouldn’t have the wonderful “animal folks”, both everyday (a maggot waiter, a frog secretary) and famous (directors Cameron Crow and Quentin Tarantulino). And while simply drawn and animated, the likable depictions of the leads bring the characters to life as much as the marvelous voicings, with standouts Will Arnett (Bojack), Aaron Paul (Todd) and Amy Sedaris as cat agent Princess Carolyn; I can hear all three of them in my head. The pop culture and social satire is sharp and funny, from the “clips” of Bojack’s long-ago tv show “Horsin’ Around” to a dysfunctional Vietnamese family with Boston accents. The show’s open puts the nod to “Mad Men” (falling… falling…), plus, listen to the very end of it: that saxophone solo salutes the open of “The Simpsons”. This is one of those cable series whose entire season is put up at once, and I write having seen 7 of the 12. Perhaps Alan (and maybe Stormy; he’s watching it too) and I will have additional thoughts. — Jeff Schultz


BOJACK HORSEMANOn a whim, I decided to check out Netflix latest entry into original content. Oh my god!! BOJACK HORSEMAN may be one of the most cleverly brilliant shows around. The premise is a 1990’s sitcom star is living off his laurels and residuals while drinking to forget. But it’s so much more nuanced than that. It’s animated, which allows the writers greater freedom. it’s populated with people and anthropomorphic animals. But, that doesn’t really describe how the creators use that conceit. Bojack is a horse. Voiced by Will Arnett, he is the eponymous star of this comedy. His agent (and on again/off again) girlfriend is a cat named Princess Caroline. A guy named Todd (Aaron Paul) is living on his sofa. His “nemesis” is Mr. Peanutbutter, a dog voiced by Paul F. Tompkins. He is writing a memoir with the help of Diane, his ghostwriter (Alison Brie) who is also dating Mr. Peanutbutter. Yeah, it sounds ridiculous. At times it is. But it’s also very smart. It’s a not so subtly veiled shot at the Hollywood culture, a commentary on relationships and the fleeting nature of stardom. Yeah, House of Cards is brilliant. So that’s one reason to subscribe to Netflix streaming. Orange is the New Black is good fun. But BOJACK HORSEMAN may be the guilty pleasure that makes a subscription worth it all. — Alan Yudman


guardians of the galaxy

Editors note: I wrote this review months ago. I saw the film the day it came out. As usual I wanted it to marinate in my head for a while. Just not this long. I re-read the review and I still feel the same. I thought maybe Stormy had some valid points, but I couldn’t disagree more with his take on the movie. So read the reviews and if you are one of the few who have yet to see it, my only question is what the heck are you waiting for?! — Alan Yudman

Can Marvel do any wrong? Probably. Depends who you ask. But GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is not proof of that. The challenge for director and co-writer James Gunn was how to introduce characters that not everyone is familiar with. Everyone knows who Iron Man, Thor and Captain America are. We’re all familiar with The Avengers. But, Star Lord, Groot, Gemora, Rocket Racoon? No clue before seeing the first trailer. So Gunn had to introduce the characters and make the movie entertaining. Wow, did he succeed!! Let me get it out of the way early… This may be the second best Marvel movie ever! A close second to THE AVENGERS. The story, the characters, the drama, the action. Perfect. The pace? Perfect! I was totally into this from the beginning. The first strains of “Hooked on a Feeling” got me hooked. Jeff and Stormy detailed the plot, so no need to go too deep into it. But, wow! Chris Pratt was great. Vin Diesel as Groot had basically one line and a bunch of grunts but that totally worked. Dave Bautista’s Dax the Destroyer was a great straight man for the rest of the cast. Bradley Cooper’s voice work as  Rocket Racoon was perfect. There is nothing I did not like about this movie. Even the 3D worked perfectly for me. And the easter egg in the post credits sequence.. BEAUTIFUL!!! I could go into more detail, but why over analyze it? Just go and see it and enjoy!! — Alan Yudman

You know you’re in for something different in the movie’s first moment: when’s the last time you saw a major studio picture, a tentpole blockbuster no less, that did not begin with its studio and production company logos? Not for about ten minutes does the new, jazzed up and fleshed out Marvel header roll onscreen, and the title comes later still. What follows, in fact, only mildly upends the genre apple cart; it’s your standard superhero movie with laughs. But the wisecracking and even snarkiness at times never betray its story or characters. I’d call it pure fun, but the screenplay deftly inserts intensely felt human moments, some touching, others quite sad (and possibly disturbing to little kids). It is masterful at making us care so much about what could have been cartoonish. I mean, a talking raccoon? A lovable-lug tree come to life? And yet it works. Speaking of that raccoon, I don’t know who to credit more: Bradley Cooper for his spot-on line readings, or the animators who have given human-level subtlety of expression to the “hybrid animal”. And just as marvel-ous, the way Groot the tree is conceived, from his enveloping branches to the tenderness of his responses. (All credit to Vin Diesel for taking the only three words Groot knows and giving them so many inflections.) Plus, there’s a striking moment of spectral wonder when the group finds themselves in a dark place – and Groot opens his “hand” to release hundreds of firefly-like creatures. Maybe because the five Guardians are so distinctly drawn, I had trouble distinguishing the standard issue villains from one another — Ronan from Yondu from Korath — although Michael Rooker is vivid and menacing. So much has been written about how groundbreaking, even revolutionary this project was seen as from the get-go. Not quite. But who cares when you’re having such a good time? — Jeff Schultz

I was hoping to love “Guardians of the Galaxy”. I expected to like it. Nothing could prepare me for my actual reaction, which reminded me of a morning after a night of drinking cheap beer. Blech. This one tries waaaaaay to hard at everything. Overused special effects, story exposition that passes for dialogue, jokes that fall flat, no chemistry between the “characters”, an attempt to be both edgy and appeal to toddlers, predictable at every turn, I could clamor on and on….but then I would be just like this movie. I haven’t walked out of a movie in years and the only reason I didn’t this time was because of the “Marvel” brand. I kept thinking “this will get better”. Aside from the first five minutes which were incredible and Rocket Raccoon, this Galaxy blew. I am in the minority as far as my opinion goes and that’s okay. I was also alone in my thinking when a movie centered on a “Crystal Skull” came out and now most folks agree. Guess time will tell. — Stormy Curry


boyhood posterIf you pay any attention at all to the hype, you know what an extraordinary project BOYHOOD is. Richard Linklater filmed the movie over the course of 12 years, all to tell the story of one young boy and his journey to adulthood. It seems like a gimmick. Like something that was just done as a goof. “Hey, let’s give this a try”. Well, what you may not know is that it works. It’s not a gimmick. It is a creative decision that transcends the genre. BOYHOOD stars Ellar Coltrane as Mason. We first meet him when he is 6-years-old, lying in the grass at his elementary school. We leave him as he begins to live his life as an adult in college. What falls in between is the story of a life. It’s not a especially remarkable life, at least not yet. It’s not filled with unspeakable tragedy or a lot of joy. But it is life. Life as lived by real people. I kept expecting some huge plot twist, a car accident, a school shooting or some outsized violence. But that isn’t what populates the lives of most people. It is the small things. The things that when put together make up the quilt of who we are. That is what you learn about Mason. How his mother’s failed marriages and his father’s crushed dreams fuel his fire and make up who he is and who he will become. People enter his life. People exit his life. There is one moment of extreme drama involving his mother’s second husband, but that’s it. While that sounds like the stuff of a dull film, just the opposite is true. Linklater’s skill is in making what may sound mundane jump off the screen. By the end of the film, I felt like part of this family and cared what happened to them. In addition to Oscar worthy storytelling and direction, the film features outstanding performances from Coltrane (who grows as an actor through the 12 year cycle), Patricia Arquette and Ethan Hawke. The soundtrack is also fantastic, a musical journey through 12 years of pop music. You may see the running time of 2:45 and hesitate. I know I did. I had recently sat through the 2:40 minute slog that was the latest Transformers movie. Don’t paint these two with the same brush. No way. Not even close. When the film ended, I was amazed at the pacing and how it kept me interested and never once felt slow. Linklater has broken the genre apart and changed filmmaking maybe forever. He deserves at the very least an Oscar nomination for direction, writing and best picture. It’s still early in the year for that kind of prediction, but this is a rare movie that deserves every bit of praise it receives. — Alan Yudman



godzilla-2014-poster-7hlzfcvoWhen the final battle comes to pass in San Francisco, you may find it so enjoyable, you’ll forget how dull much of the preceding two hours has been. That’s mostly because the humanizing attempts are laughably melodramatic — literally: the audience was tittering in spots where their heartstrings are meant to be pulled. In particular, Bryan Cranston’s storyline, involving the loss of his wife in a nuclear accident, elicits giggles as he makes the tough decision to (again, literally) close the iron door on her — a move the director is not content to let be without adding a windowpane in said door through which Cranston watches her die after they mouth lovey-doveyisms to each other. Later, Cranston’s demise (don’t worry, I’m giving away nothing) is tossed off so cursorily, I thought for a while it was a fake-out. That’s the kind of narrative sloppiness that plagues the picture, made worse by having Ken Watanabe explain key plot points in his thick accent, which left me unsure just what was going on. One of the moldiest action movie conventions — the digital countdown to a nuclear detonation that MUST BE STOPPED — is used as a sort-of afterthought that, along with so much else, takes away from what we all go to this movie to see: the Monster. Actually, this remake seems more like a sequel to one of those GODZILLA VS. GIGAN knockoffs, because the other creatures, here called Muto, get more screen minutes than the Big Guy himself. By the time these Muto have rampaged through Tokyo, Honolulu, and San Francisco, Godzilla’s thunder seems to have been stolen — until it’s made clear, late in the game, that the giant reptile is the movie’s hero and savior. The ultimate confrontation, which in a way is the largest-scale fistfight you’ve ever seen, is what we’ve been waiting for, and it does not disappoint — including a last burst of dragon-breathing fire that brought spirited applause despite the earlier derisive laughter. As for the humans, Cranston’s role is thankless, Aaron Taylor-Johnson is bland (like Tobey Maguire without the charisma), Elizabeth Olsen’s role (as Aaron’s wife) is underwritten, and Juliette Binoche and David Strathairn are just paying the rent. The great Andy Serkis is credited as Motion Capture Consultant, but while undeniably impressive, Godzilla still seems like a guy in a lizard suit when he walks. Maybe, like certain animals, he’s more at home in the water. — Jeff Schultz


I was never a really big fan of “monster” movies. So I never saw the original (or any of the sequels or remakes) of GODZILLA. If any of those were half as good as this, I am an idiot for dismissing them. The story of this version is that all of our use of nuclear power and testing nuclear weapons has created these creatures called MUTO (massive unidentified terrestrial organisms) that thrive on nuclear power and discharge an electromagnetic pulse that disables all our conventional weapons and technology. But Godzilla is lurking out there. He is an alpha-predator who exists to keep nature in balance and kill the Muto (or that’s what I kind of understood from Ken Watanabe’s explanation). But as usual, the military doesn’t buy it and sees Godzilla as a threat. The film starts off very good. The biggest names in the cast, Brian Cranston and Juliette Binoche, are a married couple who work at a nuclear plant. There’s a disaster that starts the story in motion and turns Cranston into a conspiracy nut. But as we learn, he is not so nutty. Director Gareth Edwards and screenwriter Max Borenstein (with a story from Dave Callaham) could have gone one of two ways. They could have gone all Michael Bay/Transformers and made the action sequences so confusing and unwatchable that we have no clue what is going on. Instead they took the smarter approach. The action isn’t non-stop. They actually take some time building suspense and anticipation for Godzilla’s appearance. Then we get small glimpses of the monster, as if to tease us of bigger things coming. And they do come. The CGI is great and staged from a comfortable distance so we can see these massive beings battle to the death. San Francisco is pretty much demolished, but it all seems logical in this world, unlike Zach Snyder’s Man of Steel which seems to take glee in demolishing Metropolis for no apparent reason. This is what a summer popcorn movie should be.. thrilling, edge of your seat entertainment that makes you think a little bit and ultimately entertains on a massive scale. – Alan Yudman


“Let them fight.” Truer words have never been spoken, especially in “Godzilla” where there ARE no fights to speak of! At least ones we see. Oh sure we catch glimpses on news broadcasts playing in the background while boring characters make tough decisions about where to send their kids while monsters destroy the city or supposed scientists talking about why Godzilla is a good guy even though there’s, I don’t know, no actual scientific proof of this? I give this version points for trying to do something different, but they spend more time on the buildup than the payoff. Every time we are THISCLOSE to actual action, the movie jumps to another slow drawn out scene. Oh yeah, and Godzilla is hardly in the thing!!! The big climax doesn’t hold a candle to the first 5 minutes of “Pacific Rim” and there’s no sense of fun to the whole affair. Be serious, take risks, but also reward the audience. By the time the credits rolled, I actually considered giving the horrible ’98 version a second chance to see how it compares. — Stormy Curry