Pop Culture Odds and Ends – AHS: Cult Edition

Last night American Horror Story debuted their new season, Cult, and as always I tuned in. I have a weird relationship with the American Horror Story franchise – I enjoy the fact that each season has its own special batsh*t crazy vibe, but I usually lose interest in the mess that they have created somewhere around episode 6 when it becomes pretty clear that the series has once again gone off the rails and isn’t going to stick the landing. Yet every season they hit the reset button and faithfully I return, waiting to see what insanity they have up their sleeve.

This season is going to be a challenge for me, since creepy clowns featured pretty prominently in the pilot episode and I am no fan of clowns. One clown I can handle, but once you start introducing multiple clowns I start to get more and more anxious. Between AHS: Cult and the It remake both debuting , it is a banner week for the creepy clown industry. I have to say that I was a little bored with the AHS: Cult premiere; I’ll give it a few episodes, but I’m just not loving the post-election horror story so far. We’ll see how it plays out.

While I contemplate seeking treatment for coulrophobia, catch yourself up on the pop culture that you might have missed with this week’s roundup.

Television

Movies

Trailers

  • The Magic School Bus Rides Again:

 

  • Mudbound:

 

  • Jungle:

 

  • Mindhunter:

 

  • Wheelman:

 

  • A Bad Moms Christmas:

 

  • Long Shot:

 

  • Downsizing:

 

  • The Snowman:

 

  • Mr. Robot, season 3:

 

  • A new season of South Park:

 

  • The Mindy Project, final season:

 

  • Star Wars Rebels, season 4:

 

  • Tin Star:

 

  • Big Bang Theory, season 11:

 

  • Damnation:

 

  • Marshall:

 

  • Friend Request:

 

  • Lady Bird:

 

  • Insidious: The Last Key:

 

  • Una:

Music

Theater

Books

Stand-up

Odds and Ends

Mashups and Supercuts

  • “Enter Sandman” in different genres:

 

  • This supercut makes Jon Snow’s life an inspirational movie (spoilers):

 

  • A Game of Thrones jam session:

 

  • Game of Thrones characters get Tim Burton makeovers:

 

 

 

  • Bart Simpson as Harry Potter:

 

  • What if Game of Thrones took place in modern day?

Trainwreck – A Review

trainwreck

Right now, Amy Schumer is having a moment. She’s currently on the cover of GQ magazine, her very smart and funny Comedy Central sketch show, Inside Amy Schumer, received some well-deserved Emmy nominations and for the second year in a row she is, for all intents and purposes, co-headlining the Oddball Comedy Tour. And today, Trainwreck – a movie she wrote and stars in – hits theaters nationwide.

I, for one, couldn’t be happier; I’ve been an Amy Schumer fan for a long time now and it makes me very happy to see her finally getting the exposure and recognition that I’ve always thought that she deserved. I have been looking forward to seeing Trainwreck since I heard about the project; I was especially excited to hear that Judd Apatow was directing, since he has a solid track record lately of working with smart and funny women. I dare say that of all the summer movies that are coming out in 2015, Trainwreck was the one that I anticipated the most. Not Avengers: The Age of Ultron. Not Jurassic World. For me, this was the summer of Schumer.

In retrospect, putting that much pressure on a comedy was grossly unfair to Trainwreck – even though this was a very solid and funny movie, there was no way that it could live up to my lofty expectations. So even though I really enjoyed Trainwreck and laughed a lot, I was a little bummed that it wasn’t the life changing experience that it never claimed to be but that I hoped for. But one thing I cannot be disappointed by is that I believe that all the prognosticators were right – this movie will make Amy Schumer, in the words of Dirk Diggler, “a big bright shining star.”

Trainwreck is a romantic comedy that follows fictional Amy and her love life. Indoctrinated at a young age by her father (Colin Quinn) that monogamy isn’t realistic, Amy’s life is primarily a series of one-night stands where she never sleeps over and is the one who makes sure the relationship doesn’t progress any further. She also has a quasi-steady guy in her life (WWE’s John Cena) who she doesn’t consider her boyfriend, but does actually go out on dates with. Amy’s perfectly happy with this arrangement and her life in general; she does not want the life that her sister (Brie Larson) has – married with a step-child. When she’s assigned to write a profile on sports doctor Aaron Connors (Bill Hader), it’s not all that surprising that she sleeps with him. It is surprising that she starts to fall in love with him. Does Amy really want a relationship and if so, is she equipped to be in one?

If you cut through all the hilarious jokes and curse words, at its heart Trainwreck is much closer to a traditional romantic comedy than you would think. Schumer is not necessarily breaking completely new ground here, but she is certainly playing with the formula a bit. Trainwreck is not nearly as subversive as I had anticipated, but considering I’m pretty firmly in the anit-rom com camp, I was pretty charmed by Trainwreck and far more invested in this couple being together than I have been in some of my real life relationships – an assertion which either says a lot about this movie or a lot about the guys I go out with. But just because Trainwreck is a more old-fashioned romantic comedy than I expected doesn’t mean that it’s old-fashioned; the trademark Schumer raunchiness and sass is definitely alive and well in this movie and the audience I saw it with was eating it up with a spoon. There was plenty of laughter during Trainwreck and I was an enthusiastic participant.

It helps that Schumer and Hader really have great chemistry in this movie; I thought it was an interesting pairing when I heard the casting announcement, but they work really well together and create two realistic and relatable characters. You believe that they would be interested in each other, even though they are two very different people. Schumer does just fine in her first leading comedic role and Hader is pretty much always solid in whatever he’s in. Both actors are incredibly likable, even when behaving badly. They complement each other nicely, both romantically and comically. If you’re not buying the couple at the center of a romantic comedy, the rest of the film is kind of for naught, but they easily sidestepped that problem in Trainwreck.

The strong supporting cast all also bring their A-game to this film, despite the fact that a lot of the people features are more known for their work in other genres other than film acting. Comic Dave Attell is always funny as the homeless guy that lives outside Amy’s apartment and Colin Quinn has fun playing Amy’s dad. I don’t know that I ever would have assumed that John Cena is funny, but he is pretty amusing in his role (and will also appear in the upcoming Amy Poehler/Tina Fey movie Sisters). There are lots of cameos in the film that I won’t spoil, but that generally work. But I have to say, the person who almost succeeds in stealing Trainwreck is none other than LeBron James. If the whole basketball thing doesn’t work out for King James, he could have a future in comedy. He was legitimately hysterical and if I had one major complain about Trainwreck it was that there wasn’t more of LeBron. He killed it. Amar’e Stoudemire holds his own as well, but this is the LeBron James show. It’s worth seeing Trainwreck just to see him in action. He can deliver a joke and do physical

For a first-time screenwriting effort, Amy Schumer hits more than she misses. Trainwreck is a little uneven – there are some jokes that just don’t land at all (especially the stuff at her office) – but the overall product is very funny. Schumer has a distinct perspective and voice and that comes through in Trainwreck. If you are familiar with her comedy, despite the rom-com trappings the film will feel like “authentic” Schumer. Trainwreck was a more than promising first attempt; I look forward to seeing what Schumer is capable of with just a little more experience under her belt. Her sketch show demonstrates that she is a fabulous writer, but the adjustment from short sketches and punchlines to full length movie isn’t necessarily a seamless one. But despite the occasional off-note, Trainwreck is an indication of truly great things to come.

Some other thoughts:

  • I was very excited by one of the cameos in Trainwreck; I didn’t know that this person was going to be in the movie and I was delighted when he showed up as he is one of my favorites.
  • Fun fact – Amy Schumer actually dated a professional wrestler (Dolph Ziggler) in real life, who one would assume the John Cena character is at least somewhat based on.
  • Any movie where a Billy Joel song is featured prominently is A-OK in my book.
  • If you are not watching Inside Amy Schumer, do yourself a favor and start. She’s doing some spectacular stuff on there. She devoted an entire episode of a parody of 12 Angry Men, where she was on trial for not being hot enough to be on TV. It was brilliant – insightful and hilarious at the same time.
  • Based on some of the jokes, I’m guessing A-Rod isn’t going to be a huge fan of this movie.
  • Those that are well-versed in Schumer’s stand-up will recognize a scene at a baby shower from her earlier routines. One of Variety’s comics to watch, Bridget Everett, appears in that scene.

Trainwreck is a very funny movie that isn’t perfect, but delivers on the laughs. Amy Schumer should be very proud of all her hard work on this movie, both on-screen and off, as this film is a more than solid first entry on her filmmaking resume. Lots of raucous laughs, great interplay with co-star Hader and a surprisingly strong comedic performance by LeBron James are enough to make up for the occasional joke that just doesn’t work. I don’t know that Trainwreck will be my movie of the summer, but it was definitely a lot of fun. I can’t wait to see what Schumer will do next; Trainwreck is a harbinger of very good things to come.

Trainwreck opens nationwide today.

Pop Culture Odds and Ends – Breaking Bad Edition

I normally have a lot of Breaking Bad info in these pop culture roundups, but with the show recently returning for its final eight episodes ever (SOB!), there was more awesome info than normal this week. I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, so sprinkled throughout the roundup is an abundance of links related to the show. And for the love of all that is holy, if you aren’t watching this show get to steppin’. You are missing out! So kick back and bring yourself up to speed on all the pop culture that you may have missed over the last two weeks. Let me be your pop culture curator.

  • N’Sync is rumored to be reuniting at the MTV VMAs on Sunday, which now forces me to watch the VMAs. I’m skeptical as I’m not sure what Timberlake gets out of this. But I do hope it happens.

 

  • Jimmy Fallon is doing a Breaking Bad parody. This will be amazing.

 

  • It’s hard to get excited about football season when you root for the Bills, but I do love when the Manning brothers do commercials:

 

  • This is an interesting casting rumor (emphasis on rumor) – could Charlie Hunnam play Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey film adaption? By the time this movie comes out, will anyone still care?
  • Friday Night Lights, the movie? Make it happen!
  • HBO has released a trailer for the new season of Girls:

 

  • NBC is clearly in the Jonathan Banks (Mike, Breaking Bad) business. After a guest appearance on Parks and Recreation, the actor will be a regular on Community.

A quick break for the depressing stuff:

  • Lisa Robin Kelly, who played Topher Grace’s older sister Laurie on That 70s Show, died. She was 43.

OK – back to the more lighthearted links.

  • Blog fave Dean Winters (Dennis the beeper king on 30 Rock) is headed to the new Andy Samberg comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
  • Oprah gives away cars when she is just a guest on a show. Mental note – get in the audience when Oprah is on a talk show.
  • A trailer for the new season of Homeland:

 

  • Jay Leno’s last night on The Tonight Show will be February 6th. Believe it when you see it, Jimmy.
  • Mark your calendars: the third installment of Adam Scott’s The Greatest Event in Television History drops on November 7th. Nothing is confirmed, but speculation is that they are doing the opening credits from Too Close for Comfort.
  • Ha! Billy Ray Cyrus does look like fat Mac:

 

photo from Uproxx

photo from Uproxx

  • Whoa – it’s Walter, Jr. from Breaking Bad:

 

Photo from Uproxx

Photo from Uproxx

 

  • A tweet from Sons of Anarchy creator and showrunner Kurt Sutter makes me very nervous.
  • The chicken fight from Family Guy was never one of my favorites, but kudos to these two stunt women for the live action re-enactment:

 

  • This new trailer for season 3 of Revenge has piqued my interest:

 

  • The new channel FXX, which will show new episodes of The League and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, launches September. Use this handy website to find out if FXX is available on your cable system (Phew- it is for me!). The network is off to a promising start with a Parks and Recreation marathon.
  • This slowed down version of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” is pretty cool:

 

  • The house from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is for sale.
  • This Avril Lavigne music video is a little nuts:

 

  • The White House Twitter account made a Mean Girls reference:

White House Twitter_Mean Girls

  • My birthday is a month from today and I would sure like it if someone bought me this Breaking Bad Lego set.
  • Another pop culture roundup, another American Horror Story: Coven teaser:

 

  • I’m surprised it took so long; watch a guy crowd surfs in order to “Come on Down” On The Price is Right:

 

  • Benedict Cumberbatch had a message for the papzrazzi trying to get spoilers on Sherlock:

 

Getty Image

Getty Image

  • In this trailer for Fading Gigolo, watch Woody Allen act as a pimp for John Turturro. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.

 

  • I’ve always like Donal Logue, so I’m not surprised he helped a stranger propose. P.S. Terriers is now streaming on Netflix – do yourself a favor and watch this late great series.
  • J.J. Abrams released a mysterious trailer on Monday.

Turns out it was for a book.

  • Listen to the Breaking Bad theme played on meth lab equipment:

 

As always, we end with the mashups and supercuts

  • Mean Girls mashed up with Book of Mormon

 

  • Here are some super cuts of movie clichés. First up “You just don’t get it, do you?”

 

  • Phone numbers that start with 555:

 

  • Superheroes introducing themselves:

 

  • Vulture put together a supercut of all of John Oliver’s explanations for Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show absence.
  • Nerdist put together a Breaking Bad/Saved by the Bell mashup:

Dustin Diamond was available? I’m shocked.

  • Behind Elysium (A Behind the Candelabra/Elysium mashup)

 

  • The opening of Adventure Time done in Legos:

 

 

Another installment of a Seinfeld/Game of Thrones mashup:

 

  • Ha! Thor meets Arrested Development in Thorested Development:

 

  • Breaking Bad recut as a romantic comedy:

 

  • President Obama “sings” Demi Lavato:

 

  • Listen to “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in the style of other divas:

 

  • We Are Never Ever Gonna Cook Together (Taylor Swift/Breaking Bad parody)

 

  • And finally – Walter White “sings” “My Way”