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New Escapist Column! On Letting Daredevil be Daredevil…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the upcoming release of She-Hulk, and news that the show will be responsible for folding Matt Murdock into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe, it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about what makes Daredevil unique.

The production team on She-Hulk have talked about how the series will showcase the “lighter side” of the Man Without Fear. This is somewhat worrying, given that part of what makes Daredevil relatively unique among the major Marvel superheroes is the fact that his stories are appreciably darker in terms of tone and content. Part of the appeal of Daredevil is the way in which the character allows the publisher to explore themes that it never could with more mainstream characters. It would be a shame to lose that while transitioning the hero into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

299. Going Overboard (-#16)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, this time with special guests Jess Dunne and Luke Dunne, The 250 is a weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released Saturdays at 6pm GMT.

This week, Valerie Breiman’s Going Overboard.

Shecky Moskowitz is a cruise ship waiter who dreams of being a stand-up comedian. However, he finds himself at odds with the ship’s resident comedian, Dickie Diamond. Shecky’s comedic ambitions become decidedly more complicated thanks to a series of overlapping plots involving rock band Yellow Teeth and General Noriega.

At time of recording, it was ranked 16th on the list of the worst movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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289. The Princess Bride (#—)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guest Aoife Barry, The 250 is a weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released Saturdays at 6pm GMT.

So this week, Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride.

As a young kid lies sick in bed, wasting time on video games, his grandfather decides to pay a visit. Taking the opportunity to indulge in a timeworn family tradition, the grandfather decides to share a timeless tale of romance and adventure that has been passed down from one generation to another: S.W. Morganstern’s The Princess Bride.

At time of recording, it was not ranked on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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283. The Hangover – Andrew’s Stag 2022 (#—)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, The 250 is a weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released Saturdays at 6pm GMT.

So this week, to mark Andrew’s wedding, Todd Phillips’ The Hangover.

A bachelors’ party in Las Vegas goes horribly awry when the three groomsmen wake up in their lavish suite only discover that they have misplaced the groom. With only hours to go until the wedding, the trio find themselves racing against time to remember one unforgettable night. However, the more that they discover, the higher the stakes become.

At time of recording, it was not ranked on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On “Peacemaker” and “MacGruber” as Reckonings with Reagan Era Action Heroes…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the recent release of MacGruber and Peacemaker, it seemed like an interesting opportunity to reflect on two comedy streaming shows that are very firmly anchored in a very particular nostalgia for a certain kind of eighties Reagan era action hero.

MacGruber and Peacemaker are essentially extended riffs on a very archetypal form of American heroism, a very militaristic and jingoistic expression of heroism. While both shows are reasonably affectionate and surprisingly sympathetic to its subjects, they are also quite aggressive in their desconstruction of this archetype. Both MacGruber and Peacemaker are shows about characters who are deeply unpleasant and incredibly juvenile, in what feels like an interesting interrogation of the action heroes of the era. It’s an interesting angle on this nostalgia, feeling at times like a tempered reflection.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

 

New Podcast! The Escapist Movie Podcast – “Ted Lasso and the Onslaught of Optimism”

The Escapist have launched a movie podcast, and I was thrilled to join Jack Packard and Marty Sliva for the twenty-third episode of the year. Because Ted Lasso seems to be generating a lot of buzz and attention, we thought it might be fun to talk about the show, about optimism in popular culture and about the half-hour comedy format in general.

You can listen to back episodes of the podcast here, click the link below or even listen directly.

Non-Review Review: People Just Do Nothing – Big in Japan

People Just Do Nothing: Big in Japan has had an interesting journey to the big screen.

People Just Do Nothing began as an online video series, before transitioning to BBC Three and then to BBC Two. The mockumentary comedy accrued a cult following, and so it’s refreshing to see much of the cast and crew given the chance to take the concept to a cinematic adaptation. There’s something inherently charming in this comedy concept built around a bunch of unqualified (and perhaps even untalented) local pirate DJs getting to make their own feature film that takes the characters and the cast to Japan. (It is also, for example, fascinating to see the characters fronting an anti-piracy public service announcement.)

The band at a crossroads.

Big in Japan has a lot of work to do, both in appealing to fans of the series and in winning over potential new converts. The movie is designed to function both as a culmination of the characters’ journey and paradoxically as an introduction to the characters. It’s a lot to ask from a feature film, particularly a comedy, and Big in Japan occasionally stumbles under the weight of those competing demands. Big in Japan is at its weakest when it’s trying to craft a story that is at once a satisfying development for long-term followers these characters while also being universal enough to work for audiences new to this world.

Big in Japan works best in its smaller moments, when it commits to individual jokes rooted in particular character. It falters when it sacrifices those strengths in the hopes of advancing the big picture. Big in Japan is arguably at its best when it goes small, a lesson that the film tries to impart to its own characters.

Toasts of Tokyo.

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New Escapist Video! On How “Black Widow” Demonstrates the MCU’s Humour Problem…

So, as I have mentioned before, I am launching a new video series as a companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch with every second Monday’s article, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel the following week. This is kinda cool, because we’re helping relaunch the magazine’s film content – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

With the release of Black Widow earlier in the month, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the film. In particular, the use of humour in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in general and in Black Widow in particular. In its best moments, the Marvel Cinematic Universe uses humour to enrich and deepen its themes. However, in Black Widow, it undermines them.

New Podcast! The Escapist Movie Podcast – “Will Black Widow Have Us Russian Back to Cinemas?”

The Escapist have launched a movie podcast, and I was thrilled to join Jack Packard and Richard Newby for the twenty-first episode of the year. With the release of Black Widow on streaming and in cinemas, there was only one movie to discuss. So we went for a deep dive into Marvel’s interquel, its character-centric movie for a dead Avenger.

You can listen to back episodes of the podcast here, click the link below or even listen directly.

New Escapist Column! On “Rick and Morty” Embracing Exponentiation Over Escalation…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. The fifth season of Rick and Morty is currently airing, a the most recent episode has been greeted as a modern classic, so it seemed like a good time to take a look at what makes the show work.

Rick and Morty is a science-fiction comedy. Both comedy and science-fiction thrive off the dramatic principle of escalation, of extrapolating from one iteration of an idea to the next. What is so interesting about Rick and Morty is how the show adopts an exponential approach to that philosophy. The comedy and the stakes of Rick and Morty often derive from starting with a straightforward science-fiction concept and then doubling down on it repeatedly.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.