Crashing: Christian in the wild

HBO's new series "Crashing" finished its first season on Sunday. As with many of the network's other comedies, I highly enjoyed it. The combination of star/creator Pete Holmes and executive producer Judd Apatow made this look into the stressful world of stand-up comedy heartfelt, awkward and funny, often in the same beat. But it's the show's spiritual side that made it resonate."Crashing" follows Holmes (playing a slightly fictionalized version of himself) as he tries to make a break in New … [Read more...]

Review: The LEGO Batman Movie

See, Zach Snyder? Batman can be fun.Since  Frank Miller's "The Dark Knight Returns" plunged the Caped Crusader into morally dubious territory in the 1980s, Batman has been defined by a grim aesthetic. Tim Burton made him a tortured weirdo; Chris Nolan a grounded-but-haunted vigilante. "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" depicted him as an angry dudebro, branding his symbol into thugs' flesh and trying to kill Superman. He's become pretty one-note.Sure, Batman's always been a character t … [Read more...]

Review: “Ghostbusters”

"Ghostbusters" is what happens when originality clashes with lucrative intellectual property.Truthfully, Paul Feig's remake of Ivan Reitman's beloved 1984 comedy is about as good as you could hope for. In its best moments, the cast makes you forget about the original and accept this new version as its own funny, weird thing. But those moments are too often undercut by awkward references to the first film, as if it's haunted by the specter of Peter Venkman.Feig veers from the trend of … [Read more...]

Review: The Secret Life of Pets

Dear parents: It's inevitable — you're going to see "The Secret Life of Pets." Your kids, who have likely already flipped for "Zootopia" and "Finding Dory," will eat up this comedy about what dogs and cats do when their masters are away.They are going to love the cartoon antics, slapstick shenanigans and anthropomorphic tomfoolery. Sure, they may have just seen a giant octopus drive a truck in "Finding Dory," but that won't stop them from cackling with delight when a homicidal bunny causes a traf … [Read more...]

“Popstar” brings the jokes, lacks the bite

At the end of the day, the only thing that matters about some comedies is whether they made you laugh.I can say upfront that "Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping" did, often very hard. The movie throws every gag it can think of at the wall, and a surprising number stick. Lonely Island's digital shorts were the funniest and most subversive thing about "Saturday Night Live" for several years, and "Popstar" generates laughs that are just as big, even if it lacks their bite and focus.For the u … [Read more...]

Why I hope the new ‘Ghostbusters’ is great

Two months before the release of "Ghostbusters," I have to wonder if Paul Feig's answer to "Who you gonna call" is "A better PR team."Feig's remake of Ivan Reitman's beloved 1984 comedy is making entertainment headlines, but probably not for the reasons he's hoped. Its trailer has earned the distinction of the most disliked trailer on Youtube. Today, a reviewer at the website Cinemassacre announced that he flat out refuses to review the film. While I'm sure the world will continue to turn … [Read more...]

The rainbow disconnection: Goodbye, “Muppets”

You'd be hard-pressed to find a bigger Muppet fan than me.As soon as my son was old enough to notice the moving colors on the TV, I pulled out my DVDs of "The Muppet Show." Consequently, his favorite stuffed animal for the past four years has been a Fozzie Bear that he takes everywhere. On my office wall hangs a plaque of Kermit the Frog, with the quote "Life's like a movie, write your own ending, keep believing, keep pretending" — the final lines of 1979's "The Muppet Movie." I've read bios … [Read more...]

New ‘Ghostbusters’ trailer brings something strange to your neighborhood

One of the highlights of 2015 for me (with the exception of my daughter's birth, of course) was spending 20 minutes on the phone with Ernie Hudson talking "Ghostbusters." Hudson, who hails from the Detroit area and even attended my alma mater, was in town to introduce some local screenings of the movie during Halloween weekend. As we talked about his time on set and his memories of the film, one thought kept going through my brain:Oh my gosh, I'm talking to a Ghostbuster. If only my … [Read more...]

“Groundhog Day,” Ecclesiastes and the many faces of Bill Murray

As I alluded to earlier, I had some minor outpatient surgery yesterday, and I've spent the past two days laid up on the couch. It hasn't been horrible —the surgery went quickly, and while I'm a bit achy and sore, there's no excruciating pain. Plus, I was given the doctor's blessing to lay around watching movies all day. I caught up on some good ones. Given all my thoughts about the Coen Brothers recently, I binged on a few of their films. I rewatched "A Serious Man" and "No Country For Old Men," … [Read more...]