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The Funkhouser Situation E45: Christmas (feat. The Kominsky Method)

It’s The Funkhouser Situation’s Holiday Extravaganza!  Lee Cruse and Chris Tomlin dissect and debate a list of the supposed 40 Best Christmas Movies of All-Time.  Light your Yule log and enjoy Funkhouser’s holiday cheer that also features…

—  A show recommendation for the listening audience.

— The Top 10 Toys this Christmas season.

— Billboard’s Top Grossing Holiday Songs by download.

— Somebody is having issues with their chair.

— Chris is a big man child.

— How do they feel about Christmas Vacation?

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.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse Review

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse Review

Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Alright people. Let’s start at the beginning. (Little joke you’ll understand when you watch the movie).

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is the latest Spider-Man film to come out from Sony Pictures. This time, however, it’s an animated film focusing on Miles Morales instead of the usual Peter Parker. Don’t worry though – Peter is here too, along with a few other variations of  Spider-Man from across the multiverse. But the question on everybody’s mind is, is it any good? Short answer: It’s absolutely amazing. For the long answer, let’s dive in to this.

First things first: This movie is beautiful. The art direction takes the comic book origins of the character and runs with it. Sound effects are visually represented on screen with impact wording (Thwip! Pow!), characters’ thoughts are shown in thought bubbles or text boxes, and the entire film’s texture makes it look exactly like a comic book. On top of that, the animators make sure the art styles for the various Spider-heroes are unique to their original realities. Spider-Ham, for instance, looks like a classic Looney Tunes-era cartoon character while Peni Parker looks like she was taken straight out of an anime. Spider-Man Noir, besides always being monochromatic, seems to have harsh lighting regardless of the situation, because the deep shadows of a Film Noir are infused into his very character. All of this is layered on top of a brilliantly-designed world filled with colorful neon signs and stylized graffiti.

Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Now, let’s talk about some of the characters. Miles Morales is a fantastic hero to base the movie around.  After some defining events for him early in the movie (trying to keep this spoiler-free) he goes on a journey to figure out who he is. Along the way, he finds others to help guide him in the form of the myriad Spider-Heroes in the film. His character carries a lot of the emotional weight in the film and Shameik Moore does an amazing job bringing that emotion to the screen with his vocal performance. Also, I’m not sure if they did facial captures for the actors or not, but the animation of the expressions is spot-on for the entire film.

All of the casting is brilliant. John Mulaney as Spider-Ham is particularly inspired. His comedic style works wonders with a character who is basically Porky Pig in a Spider-Man costume. I am not going to lie, I was worried when Nicolas Cage was cast as Spider-Man Noir. I love this character and was worried that we might get one of the weirder Cage turns, but instead we got a charming, while still a little dark, performance that characterized the 1930s era crime-fighter perfectly. Kimiko Glenn brings a high-energy charm to Peni Parker which makes her anime-inspired Spider-Mech suit feel like a perfect fit for her. Each character’s visual style is accompanied by a matching soundtrack that is unique to them. It’s a cool thing for a movie with an already incredible soundtrack.

Mahershala Ali brings his gravitas to Aaron Davis, Miles’ uncle whose emotional conflict leads to one of the defining moments of Into The Spider-Verse. Hailee Steinfeld brings a bit of punk rock and a lot of heart to her Gwen Stacy performance. As one of the lead Spider-Heroes, she carries as much weight as Peter Parker in Spider-Verse, and does so with style and grace.

Now, let’s talk about Peter Parker. Jake Johnson plays the beloved wall-crawler in a surprising turn that places him in a different light. This isn’t the same happy-go-lucky webhead we’ve known across 8 movies and 58 years of comics. He is older, if not wiser, and has struggled to be heroic in the face of new challenges. His own self-doubt mirrors Miles’ and the character arcs they both go through lead them to be better people, and ultimately better heroes. Peter might not be the lead in this movie, but this still might be the best version of Peter Parker to ever hit the screen.

Courtesy of Sony Pictures

At it’s heart, that’s what this movie focuses on: The relationships between its characters. There might not be a better example of this than The Kingpin. As the villain in a Marvel superhero movie, Kingpin wasn’t guaranteed to be memorable, or have a motivation that makes sense. It would have been easy to give him a standard “take over the world” goal, letting the spectacle carry the viewer away. But the filmmakers didn’t go that route. Kingpin’s goals are, despite the process it takes to achieve them, relatively simple. They are personal and emotional and based on failings shared by the movie’s heroes. It adds emotional heft to the final showdown, which, despite taking place in one of the coolest and most inventive action set pieces I have seen in a movie to date, has narrow, simple, and very personal stakes for both Miles and the Kingpin. Those stakes help balance the climactic battle far better than most other superhero films. Yes, the world and multiverse is at stake, but the viewer stays focused on Miles’ family and what the outcome will mean for them. It grounds the movie with a sense of emotional realism.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the Stan Lee cameo in the movie is really gold. There is also a nice tribute to him in the credits, but the scene itself is absolutely perfect. It’s funny but poignant aside about what it means to be a hero, and especially to be Spider-Man. Stan Lee always had a soft spot for Spider-Man and it shows here.

If I had to say one thing bad about the movie, and that’s a tough thing to do, I would say they kind of rush through the origin stories for three of the Spider-Heroes, but, honestly, it doesn’t matter. By that point in the movie, you know the Spider-Man origin story and can recite it with them. These aren’t immensely different characters than what we have seen, but that is kind of the point. As a hero, Spider-Man is an inspiration because he is the best parts of who we are. It doesn’t matter who is under the mask, because it could be anybody. It could be us if we are brave enough to take that “leap of faith,” and this might be the first Spider-Man movie to ever truly capture that. As someone who enjoys watching fun, visually unique films, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse is breathtaking in its design, with a strong narrative and emotional backbone to support the stylized visuals. As someone who grew up reading Spider-Man comics, this is the best version of one of the greatest comic characters of all time. If you are even a little bit interested in this movie, go see it. I promise you it’s worth it.

10/10 Perfectly Spider-Man

If you liked Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse or didn’t or just wanted to talk about all those easter eggs in it, hit me up on twitter @DanielDunston

The Funkhouser Situation E44: Wreck-It Creed

If something didn’t feel right over the last month, it’s probably because you haven’t had a new episode of The Funkhouser Situation.  Don’t you worry.  Lee Cruse and Chris Tomlin are back and better than ever before.  The pop culture pariahs have done some traveling and they have plenty of stories to share, like…

—  How the Northeast trip turned Chris into a caviar guy.

— Who had more fun at Disney World?

— Lee Cruse’s Favorite Movie of 2018

— What are Dapper Days at Disney World?

— Strong words for the Wreck-It Ralph sequel.

— The Kevin Hart, Academy Awards incident.

— Lee loves salt and Chris is face down in a pizza.

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 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.