Wine Country is hilarious and heartfelt. Six old friends go to Napa for a 50th birthday celebration and things happen that set off memories, old resentments, new worries, and cement friendships.Continue reading “Review: Wine Country”
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is back with season 3. It’s as funny as ever. Kimmy is no longer the wide-eyed child all new to the world after 15 years locked underground. She’s developed a certain mature wisdom – not always reliable, but she’s finding her way. This is a review of season 3 only and contains minor spoilers. Continue reading “Review: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 3”
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is a 2016 Tina Fey starrer about a journalist in Afghanistan. It is based on a book by Kim Barker, “The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” The premise should guarantee an interesting journey into an unknown land. In some ways it fulfills that promise, it some ways it does not. Continue reading “Review: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot”
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt season 2 has 13 short episodes of the same madcap buffoonery we saw in season 1. It does move the story along and show character growth and some hidden depths. You must dig through the comedy to find the message, however.
There are spoilers ahead. Continue reading “Review: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 2”
Amid all the new movies out this week are three that feature female leads. If you are thinking of going to a theater as part of your weekend, one of these three would be a great choice. Continue reading “Women Led Movies In Theaters this Weekend”
Sisters is coming! December 18! Tina Fey. Amy Poehler. Maya Rudolph. Run, don’t walk to your nearest multiplex to watch this film!
You want more funny people? Those three aren’t enough? Cripes. Okay, here they are: John Cena, John Leguizamo, Ike Barinholtz, James Brolin, Kate McKinnon, Madison Davenport, Adrian Martinez, Dianne Wiest, Heather Matarazzo and yet more people running around like idiots. Continue reading “Watch This: Sisters Featurettes, Trailers and First Looks”
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt caught my eye because it was created by Robert Carlock and Tina Fey. The Netflix-only series stars Ellie Kemper as the title character.
The set-up is that 4 women have been held in an underground bunker for 15 years by a crazy reverend (Jon Hamm) who told them there was an apocalypse above them and nothing was left. Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper) survived her 15 years by being determinedly happy and cheerful. She was unbreakable. Now that she’s out in the world, Kimmy’s brand of sunny cheerfulness influences everyone she meets.
This is a season 1 only review. Spoilers ahead. Continue reading “Review: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
This is Where I Leave You is so rich and messy and complicated, I won’t even try to give you the details of the story. You get the basic story watching the trailer, which is that a family comes together to sit shiva for 7 days because of the death of the father.
In many ways, this is Jason Bateman’s film. As Judd Altman, the eldest brother, he carries us into and out of the story. His particular character gets more development than anyone else’s.
Writer Jonathan Tropper is an absolute genius at creating real feeling characters with just a few brush strokes.
Tina Fey as Wendy Altman is the big sister. She has two young children of her own. She’s the only sibling with kids – so far. Her son, played by Cade Lappin, regularly steals scenes with his potty chair and his attitude. She knows her brothers better than she knows herself, although she does make an effort to uncover some of her baggage while sitting on the roof with Judd.
Jane Fonda is the mother. She’s famous for writing a book about the foibles and intimate details of her 4 children. She overshares everything but the most important facts. She brings her children home and enforces her demand that they stay there for 7 days to sit shiva knowing how explosive and inappropriate it will get, but knowing it needs to happen.
There’s the responsible middle child played by Corey Stoll and the irresponsible baby brother, played by Adam Driver. They bring home with them assorted spouses, girlfriends, children, impending children, and discarded spouses. Once they are home they have to deal with old girlfriends, old boyfriends, surprising new girlfriends and many degrees of overshared sex.
As I mentioned, every character feels real. They may not have many moments of screen time, but every one of these actors knows how to make something big out of small moments. Especially the smaller parts, played by Connie Britton, Kathryn Hahn, Rose Byrne, Debra Monk, Abigail Spencer and Dax Shepard. Even as minor characters, they were nuanced people. I want Connie Britton’s character to have a whole movie of her own.
The only character that felt off was the Rabbi, played for comic relief by Ben Schwartz. The fact that everyone in the family insisted on calling him by his childhood nickname, Boner, even in Temple, tells you how that went. There was plenty going on that was truly laugh-out-loud funny without making the Rabbi into a joke.
With so many characters, each with their individual stories, the interactions were complicated. Each of the siblings had personal issues and responses to the loss of their father. The plot had lots of twists and turns and some elegant surprises. The film had humor, emotion, and touching moments of love and connection.
The beautiful thing about family dramas is there are no gun battles, no explosions, and no car chases. Instead, there are meaningful talks on the roof, ineffectual fisticuffs on the front lawn, and shared moments of revelation. This film has heart. It’s as good as any family drama you will ever see, probably better.
All images © 2013 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
This is Where I Leave You boasts an incredible cast. It looks hilarious. It’s based on a novel by Jonathan Tropper, who also wrote the screenplay for the film. It’s scheduled for a September release.
Look at this cast: Rose Byrne, Abigail Spencer, Adam Driver, Timothy Olyphant, Connie Britton, Jason Bateman, Kathryn Hahn, Tina Fey, Jane Fonda, Dax Shepard, Corey Stoll, Ben Schwartz, Aaron Lazar, and Debra Monk.
Really, Tina Fey alone would have been enough for me, but all those fabulous actors – oh, my, yes.
Here’s how Warner Bros. describes the film.
When their father passes away, four grown siblings, bruised and banged up by their respective adult lives, are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother and an assortment of spouses, exes and might-have-beens. Confronting their history and the frayed states of their relationships among the people who know and love them best, they ultimately reconnect in hysterical and emotionally affecting ways amid the chaos, humor, heartache and redemption that only families can provide-driving us insane even as they remind us of our truest, and often best, selves.
Take a look.
It sure looks good to me. What do you think?
The other day I mentioned a couple of pilots on TNT that I’m super excited about that star Jennifer Beals and Julia Stiles. The big networks – NBC, CBS, ABC, CW, and FOX – all have a full slate of summer shows lined up. You can see the full list by following the links.
I want to mention the ones that look good to me, the ones that have a female in the leading role, and the ones I think might be worth watching. I’d love to hear what you think about the summer lineup, so speak up in the comments.
There are lots of comic book spinoffs, zombies, and aliens in the schedules. Lots of comedies and a few dramas.
A variation on the zombie craze, Babylon Fields will star Virginia Madsen, Meagan Good, Skeet Ulrich, Ritchie Coster, Yul Vazquez and Kyle Schmid.
Debra Messing will lead the cast in a police procedural called Mysteries of Laura. It’s based on a Spanish series. Messing and her husband solve crimes while dealing with their twin sons.
Odyssey has a female soldier at the helm, played by Anna Friel. The plot centers around an international mystery.
Katherine Heigl will join the CIA in State of Affairs. She’s counselor to the President. Maybe she’ll run into Olivia Pope in D.C.
NBC has a ton of new comedies. The most interesting one stars Natasha Lyonne and is called Old Soul. I’ve mentioned this one before.
Another comedy that looks promising is produced by Ellen DeGeneres. One Big Happy is about a gay woman (Elisha Cuthbert) and her straight best friend (Nick Zano), who decide to have a baby together.
Tea Leoni will be the Secretary of State in Madam Secretary. Morgan Freeman is producing this one. Tim Daly, Geoffrey Arend, Patina Miller, Erich Bergen and Katherine Herzer will also star.
Patricia Arquette will star in an as-yet-unnamed CSI spinoff. It sounds very high tech in concept, rather like the current show Intelligence because it involves a lot of cyber security. But I don’t think any of the FBI agents in this show have chips in their brains.
Jamie Lee Curtis is a hospital administrator whose four children – quadruplets – all work at the hospital. Oh, and the children grew up on a reality show. This show doesn’t have a name yet either.
Danish series have been adapted for American TV with great success. Jennifer Carpenter will be in Sea of Fire, another Danish adaptation. This one is an FBI story.
Warriors will be a medical drama. The cast includes Morena Baccarin, Don Hany, Courtney B. Vance, Justina Machado, Greg Grunberg, Steve Kazee, Hampton Fluker, Abbie Cobb and Eloise Mumford.
Cabot College is a comedy produced by Tina Fey. A show can’t get much more promising than that. Margaret Cho, Fortune Feimster, Bonnie Dennison, Ely Henry, Asif Ali, Jack Cutmore-Scott and Brandon Jones will star.
On the CW
I don’t see anything that tempts me on this network.
Again, you can see the full lineup of summer shows here: NBC, CBS, ABC, CW, and FOX. I’d love to hear what you think about the ones I consider hopeful, or if you see something else that didn’t catch my eye that looks really good to you.