Current Mini Reviews (3000 Years of Longing, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero, Acapulco)

Hey everyone! I hope you are doing well. I have been super busy as always so it’s time to update you on what I’ve been watching lately. Just 3 updates today but I would love to hear what you are watching and what you thought of these projects.

3000 Years of Longing

Because I have been so busy I went into this knowing basically nothing about it, except that it is directed by George Miller. He of course directed Mad Max Fury Road as well as Happy Feet (which is a super weird movie if you rewatch it. Particularly the last act of the film that moves away from the singing penguins).

I didn’t even know that 3000 Years is about a genie but unfortunately my lack of knowledge didn’t help me enjoy the film much. Sometimes being green does but not in this case. I was totally overwhelmed by the project and found it both uninteresting and bizarre at the same time.

The weirdest part about the the project is what it seems to be saying about love. Each story the genie (Idris Elba) tells Alithea (Tilda Swinton) tells revolves around some kind of servitude. One character is literally kept as a prisoner for her husband to rape while she uses her wishes to not be free but to learn, which is very strange. Even Alithea and the Genie’s relationship ends up being one of servitude and control. Does Miller believe love is some form of slavery? I don’t understand what the point of such a message is or how that is supposed to be empowering or moving as the tone of the film would imply.

I suppose some will enjoy 3000 Years of Longing on a visual level but it was all so joyless and strange that even that didn’t work for me. This is a definite pass.

3 out of 10

Frown Worthy

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero

In my experience anime franchises are the hardest films to convince average moviegoers to give a chance, which is a shame because they often have a lot to offer in both storytelling, animation and characters. Such is the case with the latest Dragon Ball entry: Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero.

Part of what sets this film apart is it focusing on some new characters: Gohan and Piccolo. We also get to dive into the Red Ribbon Army and its commanders Magenta and Carmine. These are younger, fun characters that teens will be able to easily relate with.

The animation is also a unique combination of the traditional 2D anime style with computer graphics to create a fluid and exciting action adventure. The music also adds a lot to the story and visuals.

There were parts of this film that dragged when the action stopped but if you’ve never seen a Dragon Ball entry this would be a good gateway into this vibrant anime franchise

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Acapulco

We all know there is enough gloom and doom in the world around us that we look for media to brighten our spirits with heart-warming stories. Such is what Apple Plus gave us with Ted Lasso but a smaller series from them is equally as crowd-pleasing: Acapulco.

This series stars Eugenio Derbez as Máximo a wealthy man telling his nephew about his early days working at a luxury resort in Acapulco. Young Máximo is played by Enrique Arrizon and he is just awkward enough to be charming. He immediately falls for the beautiful poetry-loving Julia played by Camila Perez.

The first season follows Máximo as he pursues Julia but also becomes more at home in the resort and seeks to help his mother out of poverty (and get a much needed pair of glasses).

If you are looking for a feel-good binge Acapulco is just the ticket. Don’t miss it.

8 out of 10

Smile Worthy

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[REVIEW] ‘Coast’ and ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty’ or a lot of Teenage Struggles

Summer is alive and thriving and that means it is time to break free and live your teenage dreams. Two recent examples, a film and series, are worth checking out especially if you are going through those tumultuous years!

Here are 2 recommendaitons:

The Summer I Turned Pretty (TV Series 2022– ) - IMDb

The Summer I Turned Pretty

First up we have a new series on Amazon Prime where newcomer Lola Tung plays Isabel or Belly (reminded me of Baby in Dirty Dancing in a lot of ways). She evidently has had a magical year and gone from nerdy to pretty in that time. Now when she goes to her yearly summer home with a friend’s family full of hunky boys they all notice her in a new  way. It literally is the Summer she turned pretty.

The hunky boys in question include her long-time crush Conrad (Christopher Briney), dreamy blue-eyed Jeremiah (Gavin Casalengo) and kid who looks very similar Cam (David Iacono). All of these teens look like they are in college and behave like they are young adults but a show like this is escapism for teens, so I am fine with it. It’s nice when teens in shows behave in more authentic ways but there’s a place for aspirational characters in teen stories just like any other audience. Teens will love this sun-dripped romantic show.

The North Carolina beaches are gorgeous and the whole cast has a nice chemistry together that it works. If you are a fan of writer Jenny Han’s previous To All the Boys… series of movies you’ll enjoy this one. We are going to be covering it on Hallmarkies Podcast so make sure you are subscribed!

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Coast (2021) - IMDb

Coast

In the world of movies we have an indie teen drama called Coast that is also worth checking out. This is set on the other side of the country on the California Central Coast and young Abby (Fátima Ptacek) hates living in the agriculture-based town of her Mother (Cristela Alonzo) and wants to stretch her wings. I much more relate to this feeling than the love woes of Pretty. I couldn’t wait to get out of my small town and experience the world when I was a teenager.

This need of hers is put to the test when she meets a boy named Dave (Kane Ritchotte) who is the lead singer for a punk band and he invites Abby to join his band. The relationship between Alonzo and Ptacek feels authentic without the theatrics you typically see in this kind of coming of age story. Even when Abby leaves her Mom is upset but she looks up at the sky and says a simple prayer her daughter will find her way back. Directors Jessica Hester and Derek Schweickart do a good job keeping scenes like this grounded and honest in and it makes the movie feel easy to relate with even if you aren’t a teen or into punk music.

It does feel derivative at times but it has the heart and the authentic performances to keep it going and make it a worthwhile indie to check out. You can rent it now on all the streaming sites. Oscar winner Melissa Leo has a memorable turn as a ornery hospital patient Alonzo takes care of.

7.5 out of 10

Smile Worthy

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[REVIEW] ‘The Bob’s Burgers Movie’ or How to Make a Good Movie From a Show I Don’t Like

I must be honest I have tried to get into the television show Bob’s Burgers many times and have always failed. Being a big The Simpsons fan it seemed like something I should like, but I found the humor to be too gross and off-putting for my taste. I’ve heard from friends that the first season isn’t that great but then once it finds its footing it can be a real hoot so maybe I just need to try some random episodes  and I would love some recommendations if any readers have some.

Anyway, I say all this because I was not expecting to like this movie. I was open to liking it (otherwise what’s the point in going to the screening) but it seemed unlikely. Well, count me surprised because I ended up really enjoying it! In fact, am I now a Bob’s Burgers fan?

I think what won me over, where the show hasn’t, is how endearing the characters are and how likable the spirit of family is. The story is simple with a sinkhole blocking the entrance to the families famous eatery and them all working together to uncover a mystery behind their landlord Mr Fischoeder (Kevin Kline).

Not only is the movie sweet but it is also very funny with lots of gags involving each family member. I particularly enjoyed anything with Louise (Kristen Schaal) and her struggles to be brave towards bullies at school who tease her for her bunny ears hat.

I also really enjoyed all the songs (I guess music is a thing in the show which I didn’t know about). They were catchy and well preformed. All the vocal performances were great, and I appreciate an animated film that almost exclusively uses voice actors. I hate when movies like Lego Ninjago ditch the voice actors for celebrities.

The Bob’s Burgers Movie will be a real treat for any animation fan as it has scene after scene of glossy 2D animation. I loved in particular the segments in the last act of the film when they are being chased through an underground bunker in an amusement park. The dark browns and blacks and the speed of the cars was wonderful.

All in all this film has the potential to be the surprise of the summer. I laughed, bopped to the songs and enjoyed spending time with this quirky family. If you are on the fence give it a shot. It just might surprise you as well. My only critique of the film is there was a time with the villain monologuing that went on too long and started to drag but once the section was done it picked back up again.

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy

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Current Mini Reviews (18 1/2, AmbuLAnce, Father Stu)

Hey everyone! I hope you are doing well. I have been busy as usual.  The fun thing about doing my podcasts is there is always something new and fresh to talk about. Lately I’ve been covering a lot of television at Hallmarkies Podcast which has been demanding but exciting.

Anyway, I have some reviews to update you on. What have you been watching? There is so much it’s impossible to keep up with everything, so I would love your suggestions!

Sanditon Season 2

Anyone who knows me knows I was not a fan of Sanditon season 1. Based on Jane Austen’s unfinished novel the creators decided it was more important to be edgy than to provide a satisfying love story. I particularly disliked anything to do with Esther and her relationship with her “brother” Edward.

What’s so surprising is it is created by Andrew Davies who has given us great period piece projects like the 1995 Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth. With Sanditon it’s like he has completely forgotten what makes for a satisfying romance.

Why did I watch season 2 you ask? Well, there was such an outcry at the terrible ending of season 1 I assumed season 2 would fix it all. Unfortunately that was not the case. Almost every love affair ends badly. Esther’s plotline is still awful, and we get another befuddling ending for Charlotte. What on earth! Jane Austen would not approve!

I hate this show!

3 out of 10

Frown Worthy

18 1/2

I always enjoy a good historical fiction. It’s fun to go back in time and wonder what might have happened or what people might have been like? Such is the case with the new indie 18 1/2. In this movie we get a fictionalized portrayal of what it might have been like for a White House transcriber and her associate who find the 18 1/2 minutes missing from the Watergate tapes.

I liked Willa Fitzgerald and John Magaro in the lead roles and the simulated tapes with Bruce Campbell as Nixon and Jon Cryer as Bob Haldeman feel very convincing. Richard Kind also appears as a supporting role as a man who owns an inn where the transcribers are staying (it had the feel of It Happened One Night in those sequences, although not as much a romance).

The film does drag in the middle when Connie and Paul are trying to schmooze fellow guests (Sullivan Jones, Marija Juliette Abney) at the inn who also want the tapes. But overall this is an exciting and engaging time at the movies!

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Father Stu

I admit I tend to be easier on faith-based films than a lot of my fellow critics. This comes partly because I recognize the audience they are creating content for and that often they are made on small budgets with good intentions. Nevertheless, I recognize the genre could do a lot better in making nuanced and engaging films certainly to appeal to more than just the hard core believers (which I am not a traditional Christian so I include myself in that group).

This is why I get excited about a film like Father Stu. It is far from perfect but it takes risks in the genre that excite me and I hope it is successful enough to encourage others to make similar attempts. The first reason Father Stu stands out is it’s strong R rating. This is not a one or two curse words R. It uses the f word frequently as well as other profanities. This is really surprising given the target market.

That alone wouldn’t make the movie worth seeing (of course) but I appreciate the film has flawed characters that aren’t paragons of virtue. The title character, Father Stu, played by Mark Wahlberg is kind of a mess and he remains a mess even when he gets an ASL-like condition and his body starts deteriorating.  His relationship with God is also refreshingly simple and free from theatrics.

Unfortunately I wish the movie was made better. The directing is very clunky with strange photo choices and odd pacing.  There are also some weird side-plots that don’t work like Father Stu’s girlfriend who he seems infatuated with until all the sudden he’s not and wants to be a priest. Also his priest roommate was maybe closeted gay man but it was handled strangely?

Nevertheless, flaws and all I think Father Stu is worth a watch and if someone were to ask me this is the way I would like faith-based films to go.

6 out of 10

Smile Worthy

AmbuLAnce

I have never been a big fan of director Michael Bay particularly his overbearing and annoying Transformers films. I did like his movie 13 Hours: the Secret Soldiers of Benghazi which perhaps was too politically charged to get the credit it deserves as an engaging action film but for the most part his style of directing isn’t my favorite.

Now we have AmbuLAnce and it is definitely the best movie Bay has made in a long time and while I had some issues it’s a fun action thriller.

The story centers around 2 brothers Jake Gyllenhaal and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II who plan the perfect bank heist only to end up in a high speed chase around LA in an ambulance (hence the captialized LA in AmbuLAnce). This seems to be the year for movies set in LA and I think anyone who has visited or lived there will recognize the ridiculous nature of most of the chases in this film. Never has LA traffic been so free during a whole business day!

Gyllenhaal and Mateen do a great job playing off each other and Bay builds tension well as the day gets crazier with each decision Gyllenhaal makes. Eiza González is less convincing as an EMT trying to keep a cop alive in the ambulance but it works.

My problem with AmbuLAnce is the way Bay filmed the movie. The constant swirling drone shots and shaky cam made me nauseated. Honestly I’d recommend skipping this film in the theaters and watching it at home where you won’t be as sick. I know I’m more sensitive than most but it’s a long movie and all that movement was too much.

The movie also gets more ridiculous as it goes along with Gyllenhaal’s character getting more insane by the minute, which is fun, but also hurts the tension when its so unbelievable. It also vacillates greatly on how we  are to value human life. People are mowed over, cars are flipped, cops and thugs are killed and we are to be entertained where other deaths are treated with great solemnity.

There is fun to be had in AmbuLAnce but in the end the shaky filmmaking and questionable character/plot choices were enough to make it not enjoyable for me. Maybe watch it when it comes on streaming at home. Otherwise it’s a skip

5 out of 10

Frown Worthy

Colma: The Musical

This last review isn’t a ‘current’ film but one we are covering for The Criterion Project podcast I host that covers films on the Criterion Channel streaming service. It’s a micro-budget musical called Colma: The Musical and I loved it!

Made on a budget of only 15k in 2006 this labor of love from director Richard Wong and writer HP Mendoza (and lead actor) is a total delight. It tells the story of 3 friends graduating high school in Colma, California and trying to decide what to do next. The songs are the real highlight and it is full of bop after bop.

Naturally some of the production feels hyper-indie but it’s all done with such love and energy I didn’t care. If you have the Criterion Channel I highly recommend Colma: the Musical and look for our review to come on the podcast next week. It is a fantastic hidden gem more people should be talking about.

8.5 out of 10

Smile Worthy

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[REVIEW] ‘Bridgerton Season 2’: Still Swoonworthy But Do I Miss the Spice?

My review of Bridgerton Season 1 is one that surprised many of my readers. Given I cover Hallmark movies on Hallmarkies Podcast most put me in the ultra-conservative bubble that wouldn’t enjoy something as spicy as this Netflix regency show is. However, not only did I enjoy it but the way the show handled its eroticism was one of the best parts about it and what made it stand out.

Here was a show made to titillate and entertain women. All women. It did not worry itself with realism, historical accuracy or the dark side to the aristocracy. Bridgerton season 1 was about a marriage and both participants coming to an understanding of their own sexuality and its power within the relationship and it was great!

I say all of this to try and give some context of why Bridgerton season 2 is still an enjoyable romantic romp but not nearly as special as season 1. Some who didn’t appreciate the sensuality of season 1 may like this new approach but I found it disappointing, even while still having fun with what they did offer.

Part of the difference comes from the show focusing on a Bridgerton son, Anthony (Jonathan Bailey), rather than a daughter- a male perspective is going to be inherently different. Also the couple in question does not get married right away and so less sexuality is obviously going to occur in a regency set show. There really is only one major love scene in the entire season. Instead, we get a lot dancing, staring and parties, which is great but just not as special as season 1.

Bailey and Simone Ashley who plays Kate Sharma do have terrific chemistry together and I loved the way he breathed her in with his near kisses. It definitely built tension until I was about ready to burst- along with the characters! Charithra Chandran is also strong as Kate’s sister Edwina. She seems like a weak, flighty character at first but there is surprising strength in her.

There are also lots of swoonworthy moments viewers will go nuts for. One scene where a white-shirted Lord Anthony gets thrown into the water will remind viewers of Colin Firth coming out of the lake in his version of Pride and Prejudice.

As far as the other stories go in the season they are entertaining enough (and mostly steam free). The best arcs probably come from upstart/misfit Eloise Bridgerton (Claudia Jessie) and her best friend Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan- who I also love in Derry Girls). I would love if they made Penelope the focus of season 3 because you so rarely see a dishy romance with a plus size actress. And such escapism is the true joy of this show.

Like I said, there is still a lot of fun to be had in Bridgerton Season 2. I just wish they hadn’t decided to pull back on what made the first season so special. It’s like they got a comment card from a concerned parent and lost their nerve. It will be interesting to see what others  think when it gets released this week.

As for me, I recommend this romance, even if I’m not over the moon, in love with it. Let me know what you think!

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy

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[REVIEW] ‘Impeachment: American Crime Story’ or When Women Are Weaponized

It almost seems like a waste of time to write about a show that ended a month and a half ago but it seemed like nobody was talking about the latest season of American Crime Story dubbed ACS: Impeachment. I really enjoyed it and wanted to say my peace about it.

Impeachment tells the story of the events that led up to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998. I actually didn’t think Clive Owen was very good as the president but it didn’t matter because the show is not about him. The show is all about women and how they were all manipulated by a system that still even with #metoo does the same things today.

Sarah Paulson is unbelievable as Linda Tripp. She not only transforms before us (I didn’t even realize it was her she looks so different until I looked up the cast list!). Linda is a fascinating character because she both believes she is doing the right thing and she also has a major chip on her shoulder which is manipulated by her publicist and the investigators to go beyond what she is comfortable with. Then once she goes there she’s too stubborn to admit what she did might be wrong. Of course, she is responsible for her behavior but she also was marginalized and underappreciated to the point where most of us would be tempted to lash out and gain some control over her situation. Taping those calls might seem more than a little tempting if we were in her shoes (job well done by the creators making me care about Linda Tripp).

Then we have Beanie Feldstein perfectly cast as Monica Lewinsky. She is responsible for her choices but also manipulated by the most powerful man in the world. Then the investigators who treat her like she is some kind of war criminal trying to get the confession they need to bring down the man they hate.

Paula Jones (Annaleigh Ashford) is manipulated by lawyers and her husband when all she wants is an apology. Hillary Clinton is manipulated by the press, her husband and his team to be the long-suffering wife who can clean up the messes her husband leaves behind. This would follow her until her own run for the presidency. She was seen as both not feminine enough and yet too weak to lead the country by many. Edie Falco is fantastic as Hillary and I bet a lot of people might see a new side to her if they watched this show, or at least I did.

It’s a tricky thing to tell a story where everyone watching knows the key events and outcome, but I was riveted each week by ACS: Impeachment. It wasn’t about the events taking place but about the lives of these fascinating women and the way the system used, abused and spit them out as casualties to its mean game. Bill Clinton could go on and give speeches and play golf when Lewinsky, Tripp and Jones’ lives would never be the same. Even the very friendship which helps women survive in tough times was weaponized by these people as a tool to take down people they disliked without care of the lives ruined.

I suppose some people are just tired of politics after the presidency we all experienced (even if you are pro-Trump you can’t deny it was exhausting) so maybe there wasn’t an appetite for a political-based story? If so, that’s a shame because this was riveting television. Riveting television that reminds us all what women face each day and how unfair the system can be as it takes us in, squeezes us dry and spits us out for the world to mock.

8 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Current Mini TV and Series Reviews (Loki, Ted Lasso, Virgin River, Hacks, Big Shot)

Hey everyone! I hope you all are doing well. I had grand intentions to do full reviews for all of the films and series I’ve watched recently but as more is opening up I got more behind. I am afraid my mini reviews will have to do. I am going to start with all the series reviews (yes I’ve watched a lot of series lately! I don’t know how I’ve become a TV person but here we are).

Make sure to also check out my review of Schmigadoon Season 1

Loki Season 1

Loki season 1, episode 3 review: Lamentis

I loved Wandavision but I think I might like Loki Season 1 even more. What an inventive, unpredictable, engaging show! I have always been a huge fan of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki and he is in top form here. I loved I never knew where the series was going. I loved his chemistry with both Owen Wilson as Mobius and Sophia di Martino as Sylvie. It was weird in just the right ways with immersive world-building and production. Are we sure this is the MCU? It’s like Marvel meets Brazil and I’m here for it. So excited we are getting more!

9 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Ted Lasso Season 2

Ted Lasso Season 2 review: Jason Sudeikis' Apple show is a beacon of decency; the best comedy on TV right now | Web Series - Hindustan Times

When everyone else has seen all of season 2 of Ted Lasso I may do a more detailed review but this show is just great. Everything you’ve heard about it is true and more so. I loved season 1 and season 2 has kicked it out of the stadium once again. I know many will disagree but the highlight for me was the Christmas episode (episode 4) that will go down as one of the best holiday episodes of any show ever made. I adored it.

Aside from obviously Ted (Jason Sudeikis) and Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) Higgins (Jeremy Swift) was a real highlight of the season. Also whenever you see Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) with his niece Phoebe (Elodie Blomfield) it is so charming. There is a new cast member, a therapist, played by Sarah Niles that brings out much of the heart of the season. My only real criticism is I want more! The season is too short!

9 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Virgin River Season 3

Virgin River' Season 3 Finale: [Spoiler] Pregnant — Who's The Father? | TVLine

I have to admit if I had written my review of Virgin River Season 3 right after I watched it I would have been a little bit higher. I like being with these people and it’s pleasant enough entertainment to watch. However, the more I’ve thought about it more asinine a lot of the decision-making is for season 3.

The positives are the chemistry between Mel (Alexandra Breckenridge) and Jack (Martin Henderson) has gotten really good. I actually wasn’t sold on them at first but they’ve grown on me. Also we have less of the Charmaine (Lauren Hammersley) drama than last season. In general the town has a lived-in feel to it and whenever they have group scenes it feels natural and authentic.

However, I have never been a big fan of the conflict in the show and that doesn’t change here. The whole drug ring plot is dumb and I don’t love the plotlines for Preacher (Colin Lawrence) or the young lovers Ricky (Grayson Maxwell Gurnsey) and Lizzie (Sarah Dugdale). I won’t give any spoilers but the cliffhanger was completely unbelievable and didn’t work with the character in question as we’ve come to know him or her.

Also obviously they had COVID problems with Annette OToole but the plot they came up with for Hope was bad. It wasn’t believable and the town missed her presence.

I’ll still watch season 4 since I’m invested, but I wish the writing was better.

3 out of 10

Frown Worthy

Big Shot Season 1

Big Shot' Review: John Stamos Stars in Disney Plus Basketball TV Show - Variety

When I first saw the preview for Big Shot it looked like a throw-away show on Disney Plus. Something similar to the comedies we see on Disney Channel which are fine for their demographic but not for me. However, over the last few months a number of friends recommended the show so I decided to give it a try and color me surprised how much I enjoyed it!

Big Shot stars John Stamos as Marvyn Korn, a college basketball coach who is sent to a private girls high school to coach after he embarrasses himself getting angry at a game. Naturally the girls are something different than he is used to but they all eventually warm up to each other and the team begins to improve. As we watch the season all of the girl’s characters are fleshed out as well as the coach.

The writing is solid here and all the actors are up to the task. Veteran TV producer and writer David E Kelley brings his expertise to the program and it really shows. I hope it gets renewed for a second season. A hidden gem!

8 out of 10

Smile Worthy

Hacks Season 1

Hacks Season 1 Soundtrack | Tunefind

I’m normally not a big fan of the HBO type of raunchy shows but I heard enough good buzz about Hacks that I decided to give it a shot and I’m glad I did.

It’s greatest standout is Jean Smart’s performance as an aging comic in Vegas named Deborah Vance. She has been coasting on her old material for a while when in walks Ava (Hannah Einbinder), a young hipster writer forced to work with Deborah because of some bad publicity.

If I’m honest sometimes Ava was a little too grading for my taste but she fits the role of the entitled millennial perfectly. Jean Smart is the best as Deborah. She’s funny, relatable, sad, and engaging all at the same time. Kaitlin Olson from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia also puts in strong work as Deborah’s daughter DJ.

All in all, Hacks is a well written, engaging show with an incredible lead performance.

7 out of 10

Smile Worthy

There are other shows I’m caught up on but I haven’t finished airing yet like HSMTMTS S2, Monsters at Work, Good Witch S7, The 100 Ft Wave, and more (seriously how am I this TV person!)

What about you? Have you seen any of these shows? Let me know what you think?

I have a bunch of movie reviews coming to you tomorrow so much more to look forward to!

[REVIEW] ‘Schmigadoon!’ or Sing Out Musical Parody

If you are following me on social media you know not only am I huge fan of musicals but since I got vaccinated I have had a goal to support local musical theater as much as possible. I currently have seen 18 shows since April including everything from The Music Man to Next to Normal and loved all of them. (Here is my ranking of my first 10 shows)

Evidently I’m not the only one who has been on a musical kick in 2021 because movies and series have embraced them to an unusual degree. In fact, I have deemed 2021 as ‘The Year of Musicals’. The latest entry is from director Barry Sonnenfeld and can be streamed on Apple Plus: it is an enchanting and hilarious parody series called Schmigadoon!.

The first 2 episodes lands today but I have been able to watch the entire first season. It tells the story of a couple Melissa (Cecily Strong) and Josh (Keegan-Michael Key) who in a weak spot in their relationship stumble upon the magical town of Schmigadoon.

The name of the town and show is an obvious homage to Brigadoon (which I have always felt is a very underrated classic musical!). But the series takes shots at many musicals with everything from Carousel, Oklahoma, The Sound of Music, The Music Man and even La La Land. Sometimes the jokes are a little on-the-nose but I was consistently laughing throughout.

Naturally the traditional values of classic musicals get a brunt of the jokes with Alan Cumming being particularly funny as the closeted mayor Aloysius Menlove. Fred Armisen plays the town reverend and gets a lot of laughs while Strong’s doctor bristles up against the traditional Doc Lopez played by Jaime Camil.

The rest of the cast is loaded with Broadway’s best including Kristen Chenoweth, Jane Krakowski, Aaron Tveit (so great!), Dove Cameron and more. I’m not sure how they are going to continue this concept into a second season but the cast is having a blast and their joy is contagious.

The original music is written by Cinco Paul who mainly has an animation background. The songs are a lot of fun. I especially enjoyed every time Key tried to avoid bursting into song. Another highlight is a The Music Man inspired number (especially ‘Trouble’ ) sung by Chenoweth about the danger these big city folks are to Schmigadoon. Whenever Tveit sings it is also perfection! I love his voice so much.

I don’t think Schmigadoon! will appeal much to non-musical fans but I don’t think it has to. It’s made for those of us that love the genre and will both appreciate the jokes and the actual musical numbers. It both laughs at and embraces musicals at the same time.

All I know is Schmigadoon! won over this musical-lover’s heart. Delightful.

8 out of 10

[REVIEW] ‘Kim’s Convenience’ So Good I Binged Watched 4 Seasons This Week

I am not a binge watcher. It is probably my least favorite way to consume content. However, every once in a while I find a show where I just can’t help myself. I enjoy it so much I have to devour it! The CBC show available on Netflix Kim’s Convenience is such a show. There are currently 4 seasons with 2 more coming, and I can’t recommend it more highly. It’s funny, sweet, authentic and just great.

Kim’s Convenience is about a Korean Canadian family that owns a convenience store in Toronto and is based on a play of the same name by show creator Ins Choi. I’d love to see the play someday because it creates a setting for the show that feels authentic and true (it reminded me of Lin Manuel’s similar set up with his In the Heights musical).

Paul Sun-Hyung leads the cast as the father or Appa of the Kim family and owner of the store. What I appreciated about his character is he is a funny loveable curmudgeon who is set in his ways, but he also is a flawed character that is estranged from his son. This makes him more than just the butt of jokes but someone we can relate with and become invested in his journey.

Jean Yoon is equally strong as the matriarch of the family. She is famous for her pokes when people are frustrating her and her sneak attacks when she wants to get her way. But again she’s not a cliche character because the separation of her family is quite devastating for her throughout the show. I loved her character so much.

All the characters are great. Andrea Bang as Janet is fantastic as the daughter of the family. Simu Liu (who is about to blow up in Marvel’s Shang-Chi) is wonderful as the estranged son Jung who is trying to rebuild his life after a rebellious youth. I absolutely loved his relationship with his boss Shannon played by Nicole Power. She’s just weird enough to be charming and funny.

The supporting cast is wonderful with people like Jung’s best friend and roommate Kimchee (Andrew Phung) and the whole cast at the car rental place Handy that Jung, Shannon and Kimchee work at. You could honestly have an entire show just at Handy.

I think what’s most important about Kim’s Convenience is the writing. There honestly isn’t a bad episode. It’s so funny and it creates a family I cared deeply about. Sure it pokes fun at Korean stereotypes but that’s not the main source of the humor. Mostly it is about relationships and everyday problems anyone from a family can relate with.

The entire cast has chemistry together and even small roles like Amanda Bruget as Pastor Nina are so well executed. With weaker writing such a role could have been a bland overbearing religious figure but she’s not. She’s funny, flawed yet sincere and that’s the way all the characters are.

I can’t recommend Kim’s Convenience highly enough. It goes along with the recent Ted Lasso as a fantastic comedy with a big heart. I adored it and can’t wait for 2 more seasons!

Have you seen Kim’s Convenience? What did you think of it? What other hidden gems are out there I might have missed?

9 out of 10