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The Funkhouser Situation E42: Smells like Allegiant Airlines

The Funkhouser Situation with Chris Tomlin and Lee Cruse returns with another episode that will fill you in on everything in the world of pop culture.

Here are some of the highlights from this edition:

-Chris gets the other Chris Tomlin’s fan mail

-The mindset to have going to Disney World

-Why would John Cougar Mellencamp drop the Cougar in his name?

-Chris gives us some big engagement news

-The movies Lee saw on way to Disney World

-First world problems: Lee and Chris discuss issues with picking seats on airplanes.

-Ranker’s Top 90s artists: do they agree?

-Lee loves the Stone Temple Pilots

-Did Lee guess the final two picks correctly?

You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to The Funkhouser Situation podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.


Read-Alikes For The Hate You Give

Read-Alikes For The Hate You Give

Editor’s note: The following piece was contributed by Beth Dunston: Librarian, book critic and begrudging sister to Camerman Daniel. She might not know sports but she knows literature. Enjoy!

Courtesy: Balzer + Bray

Angie Thomas’ debut novel The Hate U Give dominates the landscape of teen fiction in the same way Anthony Davis dominated a college basketball court, even before Thomas’ work made its big-screen debut. The novel’s award stickers threaten to block out the cover. The book just finished its 85th week hovering at the top of the New York Times’ best-seller list. Clearly, Thomas’ coming-of-age tale about finding your voice and standing up to injustice struck a chord with teens (and adults) who found hope and truth in main character Starr Carter’s story.

If you’re not familiar with The Hate U Give, a quick summary: Starr divides her time between her poor neighborhood and her elite private school, and she likes to keep these worlds as separate as possible. When Starr’s friend Khalil is shot by a police officer on their way home from a party, her two worlds begin to converge in difficult and complicated ways. By the time I finished T.H.U.G., Starr had changed the way I understood the world. What do you read after that, short of waiting for Thomas’ next book, On the Come Up (out February 2019)? Here are five excellent books to read if you loved The Hate U Give:

Courtesy: Algonquin Young Readers

Here to Stay by Sara Farizan: Bijan is the comic-book-loving son of an Iranian-American mom, and much like Starr, he attends an elite private school, where he plays on the basketball team. Unlike Starr, he imagines NBA commentators Reggie Miller and Kevin Harlan narrating his life in a hilarious play-by-play (You should hear what they say about Bijan’s painful flirting game). After Bijan saves his team from defeat with skills that would make LeBron proud, he’s an overnight celebrity. And then someone photoshops his face onto a picture of a terrorist and e-mails it to the entire school. Bijan just wants to ignore the cyberbullying, but when it starts to affect his game and his relationships, he turns to his friends and his well-meaning teachers to identify the attacker and bring them to justice.

 

Courtesy: Bloomsbury YA

Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson: This award-winning debut novel follows Jade, an ambitious artist trying to get out of her poor neighborhood in Portland, Oregon. Her teachers keep trying to “rescue” her with special programs for “at-risk” students, but Jade just wants the same opportunities as everyone else – like studying abroad for her dream job. Jade is assigned a mentor who’s too wrapped up in her own drama to do her job, and her friendship with a white classmate is falling apart in a series of arguments and misunderstandings. While there’s no central “event” in this book, Jade’s story is a must-read for any teen (or adult) looking for the courage to advocate for themselves. The last chapter is guaranteed to make you cheer. And want to create mixed-media collages that will never be as cool as Jade’s.

 

Courtesy: Ember

Dear Martin by Nic Stone: This stunning novel shares a lot in common with the previous books: a young person of color attends a mostly white private school. Justyce is a kid with big dreams, so he turns to the man with a Dream for inspiration, challenging himself to live for a year following the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Imitating Dr. King is harder than Justyce thought it would be – especially when a string of violent tragedies ends in the slaying of Justyce’s best friend. Is it worth following the path of peace when death is the only reward? I’ll admit it – this is a tough one, but trust in both Justyce and Stone to snatch hope from the depths of despair as Justyce discovers allies and friends in the most unexpected places.

 

Courtesy: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds: Real talk – Jason Reynolds is one of the greatest writers for youth alive today. In his most recent novel for teens, Will lives by the three rules of his neighborhood: Don’t cry, don’t snitch, and always get revenge. On one early morning, Will steps into an elevator with a gun tucked into his jeans, ready to execute the man who murdered his beloved brother Shawn. Remember Rule #3? Yet this is no ordinary elevator ride: On every floor, spirits affected by gun violence in Will’s community appear to the boy, each offering their own story in powerful poetic verse. This is a quick read, full of tension and tragedy, as spirits battle to save a young man’s soul.

 

 

Courtesy: Scholastic

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older: Speaking of battling spirits, I thought I’d end this list with something a little lighter. The Hate U Give features a community pulling together to overcome violence and tragedy, and this book has exactly that, plus magical graffiti and a dash of zombies. Sierra Santiago is spending her summer break in Brooklyn painting a gigantic mural of a dragon onto an abandoned building, but her plans are upended by the appearance of a secretive Haitian boy and the disappearance of some of her grandfather’s old friends. Plot twist: Sierra’s family is part of a long line of shadowshapers – sorcerers who can enchant artwork with the spirits of the dead, bringing their drawings to life. It’s up to Sierra to reclaim her birthright from a greedy interloper and take back her community’s legacy. If you prefer your heroines to be accompanied by chalk ninjas punching each other, this book is definitely your jam.

What did you think of this list? Do you have any other recommendations? I’ve been a Teen Librarian in Central Kentucky for seven years and I’m always game to add to my TBR list. Send me your favorite read-alikes and recommendations on Twitter @DunsLibrarian.


Spooky Reads For Halloween

Spooky Reads For Halloween

Editor’s note: The following piece was contributed by Beth Dunston: Librarian, book critic and begrudging sister to Camerman Daniel. She might not know sports but she knows literature. Enjoy!

 

Full disclosure: I am a horror weenie. My first real nightmare following the appearance of a monster on television happened because of Ghost Writer, a PBS show that tried to make teens think reading was cool. I freak out at the mention of ghosts in cheesy Halloween podcast episodes. I’ve not yet made it all the way through any actual horror flick, not even Scary Movie. Yet, I steel myself every year to brave YA horror books for the kids who want more of the undead on their bookshelves. Here are five spine-tingling novels to fill the slasher-shaped hole in your life.

Courtesy: HarperCollins

Asylum by Madeleine Roux: Everyone at my college knew which dorm was haunted, and even knew the exact room number in which you’d be most likely to find a Civil War soldier in your closet. Every college has a haunted dorm, but the one in Asylum takes the soul cake. When Dan finds himself in the super-creepy Brookline Dorm in New Hampshire, he discovers that the residence hall used to be a psychiatric hospital, and some of the patients haven’t yet checked out. As Dan and his friends explore the sinister secrets of Brookline, they find themselves in a fight for their lives. (A note to my college: Don’t put students in that dorm. You know the one.)

 

 

Courtesy: Speak

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson: Johnson usually writes the kind of romance novels that remind you of sunshine and summer jobs, but her Shades of London trilogy shows that she has no problem diving into the world of foggy, blood-soaked streets. Louisiana teen Rory Deveaux can see ghosts and moved to a boarding school in London to get away from them in perhaps the most ill-advised decision a haunted teen could possibly make. It turns out British ghosts are nothing if not punctual, and Jack-the-Ripper-style killings begin plaguing the city as soon as Rory arrives. Rory is the only one who can see the ghoulish murderer – or so she believes. If you like reading about students being stalked through dark alleys by a vengeful ghost, or you just like an excuse to sleep with the lights on, this one’s for you.

 

Courtesy: Simon & Schuster

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey: Will Henry’s diaries tell the story of his boyhood as an apprentice to Dr. Warthrop, a monster-hunter who barely qualifies as human himself. Will and Dr. Warthrop newest prey is a colony of anthropophagi, a man-shaped beast with giant, toothy jaws and a seemingly bloodthirsty appetite. The creature is difficult to kill, as its only true weak spot is its brain, located in its crotch (I’m not making this up.). If the stomach-churning gore and jump scares aren’t enough for you, prepare to plunge into Will’s horrible childhood, as the once-innocent boy discovers the true depths of human evil. Yancey used to work for the IRS as a tax collector, and if that doesn’t convince you the book is terrifying, I’m not sure what will.

 

 

Courtesy: HMH Books for Young Readers

Took by Mary Downing Hahn: Moving from Connecticut to West Virginia was hard enough without the locals telling Daniel creepy stories about the with who lives up the hill. Daniel dismisses the stories as attempts to freak the new kid out, but when his sister Erica becomes obsessed with her (disturbingly lifelike) doll and then wanders off into the woods, Daniel becomes convinced Old Auntie has taken her. Being a responsible brother, Daniel decides to rescue his sister from fifty years of terror. Mary Downing Hahn is one of the OGs of YA horror, and a perfect fit for Goosebumps graduates looking for a good scare.

 

 

 

Courtesy: Sourcebooks Fire

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova: Alex is a bruja, a witch with terrifying powers she’s tried to suppress for years. Alex despises her abilities, since they have resulted in, in order, the death of her cat, the disappearance of her father, and the summoning of a snake from her classmate’s mouth. Visions of her dead aunt don’t help either. When Alex attempts to banish her gifts, she accidentally sends her entire family to the underworld (like you do). Now she must journey to the wonderful and frightening world of the dead in an action-packed adventure. This is the Latinx Alice in Wonderland you’ve always wanted, and highly recommended by surly middle schoolers who claimed they hated to read.

 

 

Who’s your favorite YA horror writer? Darren Shan? Ransom Riggs? R.L. Stine? Stephenie Meyer? Send me your spooky reading recommendations @DunsLibrarian!


The Funkhouser Situation E41: This List Stinks

The Funkhouser Situation with Chris Tomlin and Lee Cruse returns with another episode that will fill you in on everything in the world of pop culture.  A few lists are taken to task, they talk about all the latest Hot Goss, and…

— Did First Man live up to expectations?

— Forbes’ Highest-Paid Celebrities.

— Lee’s royalty checks.

— Does Chris lust Lee?

— Who are the best nominees for this year’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class?

— Black Mirror is confusing.

— Vulture’s list of Best SNL Recurring Characters is…something.

You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to The Funkhouser Situation podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.

Today’s episode is brought to you by Jake’s Cigar Bar. 


The Funkhouser Situation’s 40th Episode Horror Spook-tacular

Fo the 40th episode of The Funkhouser Situation, Chris Tomlin and Lee Cruse have created the ultimate movie villain bracket just in time for Halloween.  They debate the best of the worst and talk about what’s happening in the world of pop culture, like…

— Reaction from Bad Times at the El Royale.

— The new Halloween movie hype is unjustified.

— The Haunting of Hill House is great, and there’s more to it than you might think.

— What’s the most frightening movie ever made?

— Lee and Chris’ deepest and darkest fears.

— Who was traumatized by the Wicked Witch of the West?

You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to The Funkhouser Situation podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.

Today’s episode is brought to you by Jake’s Cigar Bar. 


Image via Universal.

Halloween Review: A Great Sequel to A Classic.

Image via Universal.

I have a confession to make, I’ve never been into horror movies. Call me crazy but I really don’t like feeling scared, the feeling of being on edge, and of looking over my shoulder for the boogieman. In fact the only horror movie that I’ve been able to watch was John Carpenter’s original Halloween, in a well lit room with my cousin. So you can imagine my reservations on seeing it’s follow-up in a dark theater. Thankfully I was able to brave through it (with my hands covering up my eyes through some of it) and I throughly enjoyed my return to Haddonfield, Illinois.

It’s been 40 years since serial killer and freak of nature Micheal Myers went on a rampage through the small town of Haddonfield, Illinois and was captured after being shot by his psychiatrist Dr. Loomis. Michael, who is being moved to a high security hell-hole, is visited by two true crime podcaster who want to know more about his killing spree 40 years ago. Meanwhile, Laurie Strode (Jaime Lee Curtis) who has post-traumatic stress from the whole event has been preparing for Michaels inevitable escape and has driven her entire family away including her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak). When Michael escapes on Halloween night, he’s out for blood and revenge on Laurie.

Image via Universal.

What works so well for the film is just how much the writers and director lean in to the original tone and aesthetic of the original. From moment one, when our podcaster’s are introduced to Michael, there is an impressive sense of tension that feels very in line with what made the original so scary. The first scene alone had me covering my eyes anticipating exactly what Michael would do next. It doesn’t rely on cheap jump scares (though there are some) and the movie is at it’s terrifying best when it’s building this sense of dread. My heart was pounding the entire time, and I actually grew to like the feeling a little bit.

I don’t think this movie would work as well as it does without the excellent Jaime Lee Curtis. She effortlessly steps right back into the role that made her famous and she brings some added depth to it. She does a fantastic job of playing a trauma-ridden Laurie, sure she’s awesome as the badass with a gun we see in the trailers, but I think she really sells it in the smaller moments. When she’s at dinner with her daughter and her daughter’s husband and has a small breakdown because of Michael being moved or when she’s interacting with her granddaughter. You can tell that she brought her A game and it brings some much needed depth to Laurie.

Image via Universal.

The main cast for that matter is really great too, particularly during the final act. Judy Greer, usually known for her comedic roles (Kitty Sanchez from Arrested Development) does a great job of playing Laurie’s daughter, Karen. She really sells the traumatic history between a herself and Laurie, and how it affected her childhood. Karen’s daughter, Allyson, played by Andi Matichak equally does a good job of playing the Laurie’s granddaughter, although she doesn’t have all that much to do and some of her best moments are just homages to the original.

I wasn’t expecting how funny Halloween turned out to be. You’d expect a movie like this to be all tension, all the time but these funny moments were well placed and much needed moments of levity. It all made sense as I was watching the credits and I found out that Danny McBride, yes Eastbound and Down’s Danny McBride, co-wrote it. It was a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one.

A horror movie is only as good as it’s unstoppable villain and once again, Michael Myers is the king. There is so much mystery behind Michael and the film really plays off that. Before Michael escapes, and he gets his iconic mask back, we never see his face. The camera pans away just as you think you’re finally going to see the monsters face and adds to the sense of terror. For all you die-hard horror fans there are some absolutely gruesome deaths, deaths that I think most people have come to expect from the franchise.

As much as I really enjoyed most of Halloween, there are a couple of glaring moments where I rolled my eyes and questioned what characters were doing. No where is this more apparent than  Michael’s psychiatrist Dr. Sartain. Don’t get me wrong, Haluk Bilginer does a commendable job of playing the doctor, but there’s a certain moment near the end that really rubbed me the wrong way. It’s certainly not a deal breaker, but it just didn’t make a lot of sense.

There’s a lot of stereotypical horror movie decisions throughout that really frustrated to me. There are so many dumb decisions that could have easily saved do many people. I know that’s probably something I should expect from a horror movie and it makes it more exciting, but still it just bothered me.

A great sequel will use the original as a template and build on what made the original so great and that’s exactly what Halloween does. It’s tense, smart, funny, and most importantly, scary, all while paying homage to the original throughout. As I said in the beginning, I was a bit scared before, but I really liked Halloween and is well worth the price of admission.

Rating: 8.5/10

Thank you guys for reading and follow me on Twitter @StarWarsBill.

May the Force be with you, always.


Image via Netflix.

Netflix and Bill? Five Things to Watch on Netflix this Weekend.

Image via Netflix.

Netflix has taken over T.V. as we know it, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. With so much content on the platform, and so many other competitors, it can be a little overwhelming finding things to watch after you’ve watched The Office for the 87th time. Luckily, that’s where I come in. Here are just a couple of things to watch on Netflix this weekend, next week, or whenever you want to.

Image via Netflix.

Big Mouth

I avoided Big Mouth for a really long time. It just didn’t really pique my interest at first and the animation style looked a little dumb, but man was I wrong because it quickly became one of my favorite shows on Netflix. Based on the friendship of creators Nick Kroll and Andrew Goldberg Big Mouth highlights the most awkward and frankly, gross, period of growing up, and is somehow able to make it hilarious and true to life. Does that boy/girl like me? What the hell is going on in with my body? Why is this giant hormone monster following me around? The show doesn’t shy away from the nastier aspects of going through puberty and does so in a charmingly graphic way. With characters like the ghost of Duke Ellington who gives misguided romantic advice and Coach Steve, the sex ed teacher who’s never had sex, Big Mouth is an incredibly funny show that is well worth your time.

Note: If you’re a more sensitive viewer, DO NOT let your kids watch. Unless you want to have some scarring conversations with them. Trust me, there’s some stuff with pillows that I wasn’t quite ready for. 

 

Image via Netflix.

Bert Kreisher: Secret Time.

Bert Kreisher is a beautiful, beautiful man. I first heard his work about a year ago when I saw his amazingly epic bit on his time in Russia, where Russian mobsters called him the “The Machine.” (Seriously follow that link and listen to it, it’s hysterical.). From there I went down the Bert rabbit hole and watched all of his stand-up and followed his podcast, Bertcast. He is my favorite  comic working today and when he announced his new Netflix special, I could’t wait. Thankfully Secret Time more than lives up to the hype and is my favorite special he’s ever done. Filled with hysterical stories about parent-teacher conferences, his sex-life with his wife, and just “getting drunk and telling secrets.” Secret Time is a fun and funny dive into the mind of Bert Kreisher.

 

Image via Netflix.

Set it Up.

I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a sap. I’ve cried during The Notebook, I can quote entire sections of How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, and I like the lyrical stylings on Michael Bublè. I’m admitting this because that’s exactly what watching Set it Up is like. It’s a formulaic and sappy romantic comedy that everyone can enjoy. Harper and Charlie are assistants that work for two high powered executive types in the big city. Being constantly overworked by their respective bosses they hatch a plan to bring the two together and through the experience find themselves falling in love. It’s funny, sweet, and a bit predictable but I found myself really enjoying it. It’s the perfect stay-in movie that you can enjoy cuddled up with your boo thing.

 

Image via CW.

Black Lightning.

I know what you’re thinking, “Ugh Bill, another superhero show? Haven’t we had enough of these?”, and to an extent, you’re probably right. Black Lightning is a little different and isn’t your average superhero show. When we’re first introduced to Jefferson Pierce aka Black Lightning, he hasn’t been a superhero in 25 years. In fact he’s been doing more good for his community and changing young peoples lives as the principal of Garfield High School. That all changes when a gang called The 100 threatens the city of Freeland and forces him back into the spotlight. What’s so compelling about Black Lightning is that it has all the trappings on a great superhero show. The action, the characters, the conflict that Jefferson goes through, but theres also a lot of gripping social commentary on what it means to be black in America. Black Lightning is at it’s best when it is highlighting those issues as well as interweaving the effects of him being a vigilante has on his family. All while some of his family is displaying powers of their own. It’s a multi-layered show that works on just about every level.

 

Image via Netflix.

Ugly Delicious.

Ugly Delicious is an absolutely delicious adventure through the food that Americans eat and how they were influenced by food around the world. Part history lesson and part food show, Chef and host David Chang highlights a specific food each episode and flashes between a round table discussion with master chefs about the food and going to regions where the food was made and perfected. Chang delivers a unique food show that will undoubtedly leave you hungry for whatever they’re eating that episode. Starting with pizza, then moving on to favorites like tacos and fried chicken, it is a fascinating and fun look at the foods that we love.

Be sure to let me know what you think of the shows, I’ll have some more very soon.

Follow me on Twitter @StarWarsBill

May the Force be with you, always.

 


Image via 20th Century Fox

Bad Times at The El Royale Movie Review

Image via 20th Century Fox

I saw Bad Times at the El Royale late Thursday night and I’m still not quite sure how to describe the insane rollercoaster ride I went on. One thing is abundantly clear though, I absolutely loved every single minute of it. The cast, the setting, the cinematography, all of it. I laughed, I cried, I was nervous, I was never sure what twist would come next and the director and writer, Drew Goddard has delivered something incredibly fun.

Bad Times takes place in 1969 at the El Royale, a hotel right on the Nevada and California state line that is renowned for it’s parties and general debauchery .While it’s lost a bit of its luster, the El Royale brings together seven complete strangers each with different secrets and reasons that bring them to the infamous establishment. A priest from Bloomington, Indiana (Eww gross) Father Daniel Flynn (Jeff Bridges) checks in and crosses paths with a singer, Darlene Sweet (Cynthia Erivo), a vacuum salesman, Laramie Seymour Sullivan (Jon Hamm), and finally a foul mouthed hippee named Emily (Dakota Johnson). As soon as each stranger checks in the mystery’s of the hotel and each respective stranger are explored and uncovered through a series of twist and turns that show what’s really going on at the El Royale.

Image via 20th Century Fox

From top to bottom this is one of the most impressive casts that I’ve seen in a movie all year ( not counting Infinity War, because that’s not fair.). Jeff Bridges, Jon Hamm, Chris Hemsworth, Dakota Johnson, and Cynthia Ervio, are all superstars in their own right and everyone gives it their all. The standout is the always wonderful Jeff Bridges who delivers some truly heartbreaking moments, as well as his traditional charm and wit. Going into this movie I wasn’t expecting to tear up at all but damn, “The Dude” brought a tear to my eye. Bridges and Ervio have a lot of great scenes together and their chemistry throughout really make the film work. Ervio is already a well known stage actor whose portrayal of Celie in The Color Purple won her a Tony in 2016 and I actually got the chance to see her before it closed.It was honestly one of the greatest performances I’ve seen in my life and I couldn’t be happier that a general audience will be seeing more of her. She brings that same energy I saw in 2016 to this film and she really, really knocks it out of the park.

You can have the most talented and star studded cast in the world but it doesn’t make a difference unless you have great writing and a compelling story to tell, and thankfully Goddard does. Admittedly it does start a little slow and can be a bit confusing at times, but when it gets going, man is it fun.  Goddard is effortlessly able to bend and weave through different genres and always leave you on your toes. The story will often go back and forth in time to give some more perspective to the story and show what each person was doing at a specific pivotal moment and leads to a lot of A-HA moments.

First and foremost El Royale is a thriller, one that builds and builds, slowly pulling away the layers that finally give you the bigger picture.  Along the way we get sprinkles of comedy, some action, and even a little bit of horror. It all pays off for a fun and heart-pounding final act that make sense of the sometimes convoluted plot.

Image via 20th Century Fox

Apart from the plot, El Royale is a wonderfully shot film. The scenery is bold and does a great job of selling the late 60’s aesthetic. It makes the El Royale itself a character that has different sides and gives the hotel it’s own personality that shines throughout.

As much as I really enjoyed El Royale, I can fully admit that it has one glaring problem, and I’ve alluded to it throughout. It can be really convoluted at times, and unnecessarily so. It’s a bit of a detriment to the plot at the beginning and as I said earlier, it’s a very slow start. One that I think people will point to as a glaring issue after seeing this movie.

Bad Times at the El Royale is a really fun thriller that has a vibe that’s all it’s own. The fantastic cast play their parts very well and really help the film succeed. Drew Goddard keeps the audience on their toes throughout the entire story and builds to an incredibly satisfying end. Not a bad time at all.

Rating: 8.8/10

Follow me on Twitter @StarWarsBill and let me know what you think!

“Hello there.”- Obi Wan Kenobi

 


The Funkhouser Situation E39: Duets

Is there a better place to get all of your pop culture news and commentary than The Funkhouser Situation?  I think not.  Lee Cruse and Chris Tomlin provide a surprising reaction to Venom, break down the Captain Marvel trailer and…

— Michelle Williams, is she famous?

— Don’t go see a horror movie with Lee.

—  There’s a live action Aladdin, would they have cast Will Smith as Genie?

— Kenan Thompson’s take on Kanye West’s SNL appearance.

—  Married at First Sight is a real television show. Wow.

— What about all of the Pulp Fiction knockoffs?

—  Is there a Saved by the Bell revival in the works?

You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to The Funkhouser Situation podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.

Today’s episode is brought to you by Jake’s Cigar Bar. 


Image via Sony Pictures

Venom Movie Review: A Surprisingly Fun Ride.

Image via Sony Pictures

Venom has been a bit of a puzzle since it’s announcement almost two years ago and it’s place and audience in a already huge superhero dominated landscape has never been clear. Who is this for? Is it a part of the ever popular Marvel Cinematic Universe? Does Sony have any idea what they’re doing here? After two misleading trailers that didn’t get a lot of positive buzz, it seemed like the start of Sony’s own superhero universe was going to be a….turd in the wind. While it’s far from perfect, I had a lot fun with Venom and it leaves the door open for some exciting possibilities for future films.

The film follows Eddie Brock, an edgy journalist (think Vice News but with 100% more scruffy Tom Hardyness), whose antics have run him out of New York City and into San Francisco where he lives with his fiancé Anne (Michelle Williams). When he’s sent on an assignment to cover the Life Foundation, headed by the villainous Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), he upsets all the wrong people, asking questions about unethical tests the foundation conducts on people. After losing his career and through a series of twists and turns Brock learns more of the foundations experiments and gets infected with the iconic symbiote and chaos ensues.

So what works? First and foremost Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock, a character I’m not sure anyone else could play as well. Many fans, myself included, still have terrible memories of Topher Grace’s campy take on the character almost 10 years ago in Spider-Man 3 that ruined the villain’s movie aspirations for more than a decade. Hardy is not only playing a likable jerk whose selfishness leads to his professional downfall, but also the insane and funny alter ego Venom. It’s a very weird line that he toes very well and I’m positive the film would crash and burn without him.

 

Image via Sony Pictures

 

Going off Hardy’s performance, the single most important aspect of the film that really makes it work for me is the dynamic between Eddie and Venom and in many ways the movie gets exponentially better when Venom finally shows up and takes over. You get your stereotypical “discovering your powers” scene and it’s a lot of fun and a bit of a twist on the superhero trope and you get some genuinely funny results through the entire experience. In fact, the most surprising part of Venom is just how consistently funny it is once Eddie and Venom become one. Not just their kick-ass action scenes together, but there are some really stand-out scenes including one involving Eddie’s friend, Dr. Dan(An all around great guy and someone I would want to grab a beer with), and a lobster tank that left the whole theater laughing hysterically. In many ways the dynamic between the two has a real buddy-cop feel to it that adds to the story.

The core actors involved are doing their best to make the film work and and the entire cast works well together. The talent here is really impressive. Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, and Riz Ahmed alone could make any movie great and I think they really committed to their respective parts. The inclusion of Jenny Slate as Dr. Dora Skirth and Reid Scott as Dr Dan were also welcome additions and added depth to the narrative.

The action throughout, particularly the impressive chase sequence seen throughout the trailer was a lot of fun and entertaining, using Venom’s powers in fun and unique ways that could have just been another bland car chase seen in almost every action movie. Once again, I was pleasantly surprised with how much fun these big action set pieces were.

Now as I said at the beginning, this movie is far from perfect and there are a couple of aspects that don’t work particularly well and some of them are seriously cringey. There are some obvious script problems riddled throughout the movie that lead to a lot of questionable lines as well as some weak motivations and plot holes. Riz Ahmed’s Carlton Drake in particular really feels like a villain that’s evil for the sake of being evil and even when Riot, the other version of Venom takes him over, he’s just a stronger,  evil version of Venom.

Speaking of plot holes, there’s one scene involving Michelle Williams where I could hear the internet blow out a collective sigh in frustration. Throughout the entire film they’ve set up the rules for the symbiote and then they kind of just throw those rules out the window for the sake of convenience and to rush the story to the end. I understand you have to move the story forward but it just seemed a little forced as well as overtly sexualized.

I’d briefly like to mention the horrible press that the movie has been getting over the past couple of weeks and in particular it’s current rating on Rotten Tomatoes. As of this moment it sits at 28%, an absolutely terrible score and one that I think is unwarranted. So many critics had clearly made up their minds about this movie before it came out and didn’t give it a chance. I’m confident in saying that Venom is on par or better than most Phase 1 MCU films including The Incredible Hulk and Thor. If you give this movie a chance, like I did, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Don’t forget to stay after the credits to see a small tease for what could be coming next, you won’t be disappointed.

Rating. 7/10

Follow me on Twitter @StarWarsBill


The Funkhouser Situation E38: Hot, Locked and Ready to Cock

Chris Tomlin and Lee Cruse are back for another exciting edition of The Funkhouser Situation. Before the terrific tandem dives into the world of pop culture, they talk about the highs and lows from and exciting sports weekend.  Highlights:

— Does Lee play golf by the rules?

— If The Good Place overhyped?

— The greatest Robert Zemeckis films.

—  There’s a new Halloween movie with Jamie Lee Curtis.

—  Secret celebrity marriages in the news.

— A celebration of The Simpsons on the anniversary of its inception.

You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to The Funkhouser Situation podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.

Today’s episode is brought to you by Jake’s Cigar Bar. 


The Funkhouser Situation E37: Hot Cheeto Problems

After an extended hiatus, Chris Tomlin and Lee Cruse are back for another exciting episode of The Funkhouser Situation.  They talk about a few fantastic new Netflix shows, Maniac and Norm, what they’ve been doing since their last discussion and…

— The world is burning and Lee’s show is a casualty.

— Tiffany Haddish’s authenticity.

— The anger Lee experiences when he “A Star is Born” crosses his path.

— Does size matter?

— What is wrong with Chevy Chase?

— Why Katy Perry is a hot mess.

You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to The Funkhouser Situation podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.