Cats Review / The What-Did-I-Just-Watch Rant

My base understanding of Cats before I went to go see the movie was comprised of two things:

  1. The movie is about cats.
  2. There’s a really good song called “Memory” in it.

That’s it. When I walked into the theater to see it with a group of friends, that was the extent of my knowledge about Cats.

Now, I know so much more.

And not much of it is good.

In case you don’t want to read any further than this because you just don’t want to have anything to do with Cats, let me leave you with the surface-level impressions.

For the first part of the movie, you might have no clue what is going on, especially if you had no idea that the term “Jellicle” is what the cat-creatures call themselves. There are only two good-ish parts in the whole film, and they are surrounded by what-the-actual-fuck moments. And lastly, while the movie is an incomprehensible piece of refuse, it is tremendously good for laughs.

For those of you morbid enough to want to stick with me, here is a brief synopsis of the “story.”

Side note: The word “story” is in quotes because, as you’ll soon see, the “story” of Cats is a nightmare of confusion, bafflement, and insanity.

Protagonist cat-creature Victoria is dumped by, I asuume, her human owner onto the street. Once there, she is introduced to the world of cats, except they’re not really cats. They call themselves Jellicle Cats, and I still have no idea if this means something.

The Jellicles basically act like dicks for most of the time, like a regular cat would, but they at least try to explain to Victoria what life is like for them. Apparently, Victoria got abandoned at a very special time. This particular night is a celebration for Jellicles because something called the Jellicle Choice is happening.

When they sang their songs about the Jellicle Choice, they weren’t especially clear about what it entailed. But from what I gathered eventually, the Jellicle Choice is made by this old lady Jellicle Cat. She picks one Jellicle from the group (thereby making the Jellicle Choice) to be reincarnated into a new life.

Yeah, I had no idea how that would work, but at this point in the film, I just decided to roll with it.

The majority of the movie is then consumed by Victoria being introduced to a bunch of different cats who all want to be the Jellicle Choice. And they all sing songs about it.

In between their songs, audiences are introduced to this mean Jellicle named Macavity. Macavity really really wants to be the Jellicle Choice, and he catnaps a bunch of Jellicles to try and eliminate them as possible choices for the old-lady cat. (Spoiler warning: His plan doesn’t work.)

In the end, Victoria convinces old-lady cat and the other Jellicles to make this other ostracized Jellicle the Choice. This ostracized Jellicle has the most beautiful voice, and she sings a song (the song) about the faded joy of her youth. Once all the Jellicles hear her song, the old-lady cat decides to indeed make Previously-Ostracized Jellicle the Jellicle Choice.

Side note: I have officially typed the word “Jellicle” more times than I’ve ever wanted to in my life.

The movie kind of ends once the Jellicle Choice is placed in a hot air balloon and sent into the sky to probably die a cold and lonely death.

No, I am not even kidding.

So clearly Cats has some story issues. It is painfully unclear what is going on at times. The plot is not cohesive, and the only structure it is given is by introducing Victoria to new Jellicles, which hardly makes for a good story.

When I left the theater, I actually Googled “what is story to Cats” and I read up on the history of the musical. Apparently, the whole thing was inspired by some T.S. Eliot poems, to which I have to say, “Ohhhhhh, now I see. Now I see why the whole thing feels plotless.”

For those of you not in the know, T.S. Eliot is a writer from the postmodernist era of literature. I actually really enjoy postmodernist literature and poetry. It makes for a delightfully intricate pattern of nonpatterns that relies more on inferences and paradoxes than straightforward narratives. But as you can probably guess from that last statement of mine, that’s not a good backbone for a movie.

See, postmodernism in literature is all about the unreliability of narrators and the impossibility of penning human nature into a strict narrative. Which is the opposite of a basic story.

In layman’s terms, postmodernism can make for terrible movies.

Cats also failed to grab my attention musically. (And it’s a goddamn musical!) The only songs I liked were “Memory” and “Beautiful Ghosts.” When those songs are sung, you actually feel yourself become mesmerized by the melody. You look into the eyes of the Jellicle singing and think to yourself, “Holy shit, you have understandable feelings.” But then the song ends and another Jelllicle starts singing some rubbish.

Now, I know a lot of people complained about the visual effects used for Cats. While they are disconcerting, they’re not that bad. Maybe I’m just used to bad graphics from my time with Mass Effect: Andromeda.

Only two things bothered me visually in the movie. One was the fact that some of the Jellicles wear fur coats.

I mean, they’re cats, they’re already sporting fur all over their bodies. There’s no reason for them to wear these extravagant fur coats.

Also…where did they get them?

The second thing that was a bit disconcerting about the visuals was how sexual they were. They’re doing some weird kind of ballet throughout the movie, but it feels highly sensualized. And the girl Jellicles have the faint outlines of boobs.

Weird.

Cats is only meant for two kinds of people in this world. You are either a really big fan of the musical and want to see the film version of it OR you are going to see it with some chums in order to chuckle and chortle over how bad it is.

I rate Cats an I-can’t-believe-I-spent-money-actual-cash-to-see-this-movie-and-now-I-have-to-mentally-justify-this-to-myself-for-the-rest-of-my-life-or-else-I-might-just-pull-a-Jellicle-Choice.

The Skywalker Experience: A Sort of Review for the Latest Movie

When Joker came out, I actually bailed on writing a review of it. I had the most tumultuous time after watching that movie and trying to suss out how I felt about it. I didn’t want to touch a review of it with a ten-foot pole.

The Rise of Skywalker came out last week, and it felt almost as divisive as Joker, which kinda freaked me out a bit about reviewing it.

But this is Star Wars we’re talking about here. I love Star Wars.

No way am I not going to talk about how I felt about the supposed end of the Skywalker saga.

Besides, the name of my blog should serve as a disclaimer that I have no idea what I’m talking about and will hopefully deter anybody from getting pissy about what I say. It’s a below average review, people.

Also SPOILER WARNING!!!!!!!!

So, basically, The Rise of Skywalker ties up the story we started in The Force Awakens. Rey’s journey with her friends is concluded, Kylo Ren’s “villain” arc is resolved, and Palpatine is introduced as the big bad. (Or has he been the big bad from the very beginning?)

With that said as a general overview, it’s time for my thoughts on it, right?

I loved it!

Yup, I’m solidly in the camp of people who enjoyed The Rise of Skywalker. I had so much fun while watching the movie. I’ve seen it in theaters three times, and I probably wouldn’t mind watching it again. For me, it was a blast from start to finish. I was constantly entertained, and, at the end of the day, that’s what I want from my sci-fi-space-wizard films.

If The Last Jedi or The Force Awakens bored you a tad, The Rise of Skywalker won’t. There are these sweeping fights and escapes that seem to happen every ten minutes in the story, and who doesn’t like a good lightsaber fight, am I right? Plus, the callbacks to the original films, the prequel films, and even the prior sequel films, all hit the nail on the head. This movie made me look back fondly on everything that has happened in the Star Wars universe.

That’s not to say that it’s a perfect movie.

The Rise of Skywalker is rushed as fuck. The action is nonstop, so it doesn’t let quiet moments in the story breathe properly. (Tip of the hat to Danny, who worded this perfectly.)

Critics of the movie also appear to dislike it for two major reasons:

  1. It erases the tonal shift and overall plot changes of The Last Jedi.
  2. It makes Force usage and power levels ubiquitous.

To the first critique, yeah, I can see why that’s a complaint. If you adored The Last Jedi, The Rise of Skywalker might tick you off with how casually it dismantles the foundation its predecessor lay. Though to be fair, The Last Jedi itself deconstructed what The Force Awakens set up, so it’s a total case of what goes around comes around.

To the second critique…

Well…

It’s space magic. This isn’t some Christopher-Nolan-intellectual-head-scratcher or Martin-Scorsese-realistic-crime-thriller type of movie. If a director wants to introduce crazy-extreme Force powers in a Star Wars movie just for the heck of it, I’m more than willing to accept these surface-level changes.

And to those of you saying that it forever ruins the original trilogy…no. No, it does not. Those originals still exist. You can watch them, and they’re the same. If you so choose, you can ignore the sequels for the rest of your life. Don’t waste your time hating on these new movies and crying that they’re ruining your childhood when your childhood is over and done with, and it is essentially pristine thanks to the unalterable effect of having happened years in the past.

Anyways, let’s get into the nitty-gritty.

The big reveal of The Rise of Skywalker is that Rey is a Palpatine. Apparently, someone was willing to bone the Emperor, and he had a son. Presumably, this son grew up, got married, and had Rey, and he decided that he didn’t want her to be influenced by Palpatine in any way. That’s why Rey was abandoned on Jakku.

This revelation wasn’t given much breathing time, so aside from shocked expressions, we don’t see Rey processing it as much as I would have liked. However, it does explain why Rey is so OP. She’s got that Palpatine blood coursing through her.

As you might have guessed, this is what makes The Rise of Skywalker such a middle finger to those who loved The Last Jedi. The Last Jedi was all about deconstructing the importance of bloodlines when it came to the Force. It proudly stated that Rey was a nobody, and there was no rhyme or reason as to why she was strong in the Force.

I’ll be honest with you, I wasn’t a big fan of The Last Jedi. The structure of the story felt a little off to me, and certain plot holes kind of grated on me more than usual. But for me, Star Wars is Star Wars, and I like seeing people try new things with it. So I was not upset about Rey’s lack of notable parentage. Its sudden reversal in The Rise of Skywalker also did not annoy me simply because I kind of expected the last film in the trilogy to shake things up once more.

And even though The Rise of Skywalker dismantled what The Last Jedi built, it funnily enough made me appreciate the black sheep of the sequel family. By far, The Rise of Skywalker is my favorite movie of the sequel trilogy, but I can now look back at The Last Jedi with more fondness than I did before.

The Rise of Skywalker also introduces new characters to the franchise, like Zorii, Babu Frik, D-O, Jannah, and the Knights of Ren. For the most part, these new characters are handled well, and their introductions, while rushed, are entertaining.

Well, all except for the Knights of Ren. When you first see them walking around, you’re all, “Ohhh, so cool. Hashtag squad goals.”

But then you realize they essentially do and say nothing important in the movie, and you feel a disappointment you haven’t felt since Boba Fett’s fall into the Sarlacc Pit.

But alas, that’s the way things go sometimes.

Fans of deep Star Wars lore also have a lot to dissect in The Rise of Skywalker. It introduces something called a Force dyad, and even I have no clue what that means yet. It does give me a hankering to buy Star Wars books as soon as possible, which might be what they intended to happen all along.

Which brings me to that whole Reylo thing.

Look, I’m not a Reylo fan, but I’m not not a Reylo fan.

The Last Jedi featured some definite chemistry between Rey and Kylo Ren during those moments when they were bonded in the Force. The Rise of Skywalker ups the ante for that in a major way. I was definitely shocked that they went as far as they did in establishing and solidifying Reylo as a thing, but it actually seemed kind of…logical? It seemed like a natural progression, in a weird way.

Still, there is a part of me that kind of wishes they had left it more understated than they did. I don’t need much romance in my Star Wars movies, and after Anakin and his I-hate-sand flirtations, I kind of reached my limit.

Side note: At no point does The Rise of Skywalker reach the cringe-levels that the prequels did. The prequels still hold first place when it comes to cringey, yet awesomely quotable, dialogue.

So yes, long story short, I enjoyed the heck out of this movie. I don’t need my Star Wars movies to be a top-notch critical experience. The Rise of Skywalker swept me up in a thrilling adventure and made me forget about my life for a good two and a half hours. And that’s exactly what the first Star Wars film did for me too, all those years ago.

Frozen 2 Song Debate: What Is the New "Let It Go?"

Frozen 2 has blown into theaters this past month, and it has sparked quite the debate.

Before we dive into that, let me just say that I think the first Frozen is the better movie. (Come at me!) It told a more concise story, and the emotional notes hit me in the feels better. This second adventure of Elsa and Anna’s, while visually and imaginatively more appealing, didn’t form a connection with me in the same way.

But that’s not what we’re here to discuss.

We’re here to dissect the two songs that have been raging in everyone’s mind.

Okay, well, maybe saying “everyone’s mind” is an overstatement, but you get what I mean.

The first Frozen featured that all-too-familiar tune, “Let It Go.” If you haven’t heard this song, you seriously must have been living in outer space. Even the people living under rocks knew about “Let It Go.” And despite the populace’s growing annoyance with hearing the song on every child’s lips, there’s a reason why it got so popular.

It’s a damn good song.

The melody is powerful and the lyrics are strangely relatable to many people.

So when audiences went to go see Frozen 2, many were expecting to have a new “Let It Go.”

What they got instead were two potential runner-ups, neither of which live up to the original.

Both “Into the Unknown” and “Show Yourself” are the contested successors to “Let It Go’s” success, and much like that blue-black/white-gold dress, it is dividing the internet.

So for today’s post, I thought I’d take a look at why each song is a possible contender.

Placement in the film

Both songs kind of fail in this category. “Into the Unknown” comes too early in the story, and “Show Yourself,” conversely, came too late.

“Let It Go” was placed after the major complication of the first film, when Elsa’s powers were outed to the people of Arendelle. It’s the song that perfectly represents Elsa’s change into the person she becomes by the end of the story.

Costume Change

“Show Yourself” has swayed numerous people to its side largely because Elsa gets an outfit change during the number. In “Let It Go,” everyone remembers Elsa changing from her restrictive wardrobe as queen of Arendelle into that snazzy blue dress made from her ice powers (?).

During “Show Yourself,” Elsa changes from her original blue color to a pure white dress. Not only that, but her loosely braided hair is let looser. And while I do appreciate losing the restriction of elastic hairbands, I’m still not sure how I feel about a character learning something about themselves being represented by shifting hairstyles.

The End Credits reprise

Disney clearly has their own take on what song is the new “Let It Go.”

In the first movie, “Let It Go” was given a reprise sung by Demi Lovato to mark the beginning of the end credits.

“Show Yourself” was snubbed in favor of “Into the Unknown” for having a reappearance during the end credits. Panic! At the Disco released an incredibly bumping version of “Into the Unknown,” a version that, if I do say so myself, matches the pitch of Idina Menzel’s voice to a tee.

Thematic Undertones

“Let It Go” called out to many listeners because it spoke of being hampered by society’s ideas of right and wrong, until you finally decide to stop caring what they think and “let it go.” It was a theme that practically everyone on the planet can relate to.

Heading off into a mystical world because you hear a strange voice is not something that forms a connection with audiences easily in terms of theme, which is why “Into the Unknown” loses this round.

And while “Show Yourself” is technically about Elsa discovering the identity of the mystery voice, if you were to just read the lyrics without knowing the movie’s plot, it would feel as if Elsa is singing to a side of herself that she has kept hidden her whole life. Which feels a tad more relatable in terms of theme.

Those Unreachable high notes

If there is anything “Let It Go” is known for, it’s being nigh unsingable by mere mortals. Those high notes Idina Menzel tosses out like candy are as distant to the average shower-singer as Mt. Everest is to the average walker.

While “Show Yourself” does feature those kinds of heights toward the end, “Into the Unknown” reaches those peaks a whole lot more. That and the quicker tempo make it feel like a similar beast to its predecessor.

End Results

Bottom line, this is actually a case of whichever you prefer. I find myself humming “Into the Unknown” more than “Show Yourself,” so I’m more likely to be found in that camp.

But if you were to say you’re in the other camp, the “Show Yourself” one, I could not fault you for that at all.

But yeah, “Let It Go” is still better.

Doctor Sleep Movie Review: The Shining Sequel We All Deserved

My friend Sidney and I have watched a strange collection of movies together. We saw Midsommar, Rambo: Last Blood, and Joker together, and if you’ve seen those three movies, you’ll know that it’s a major up-and-down experience. (The down part being totally Rambo: Last Blood’s fault.)

So when he invited me to see Doctor Sleep this past weekend, I was oh so totally down for it. I’ve learned that whatever movie I watch with Sidney, whether it’s good or terrible, it’ll be a side-splitting blast. Plus, Doctor Sleep had been on my radar since the trailer came out.

See, I’ve read both The Shining and Doctor Sleep, both written by Stephen King. I’ve also seen the Stanley Kubrick film, The Shining. And anyone who is a Stephen King fan knows that The Shining movie is a different beast from the book. There’s this huge debate about which version is better, and I’m honestly in the weird camp that really likes both. I don’t think I have it in me to dislike anything Stephen King writes, and Kubrick’s movie is one of my go-to films for when I’m feeling sick.

So, my first impressions when seeing that they were going to make a film about King’s sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep was confusion. How could they reconcile Kubrick’s vision with King’s? I mean, it’s obvious from the imagery and music in the trailer that it was a sequel to Kubrick’s film. But the story of Doctor Sleep that I knew from having read the book was deeply integrated with the events of King’s The Shining.

So I had no idea how the hell this new film was going to turn out.

Well, as it turned out, Doctor Sleep turned out fucking awesome!

They did it. This movie accomplished the impossible. It gave homage to Kubrick’s film while remaining true to everything about “the Shine” that Stephen King imagined.

Visually, the movie tries to emulate Kubrick’s The Shining where it can. The set decorations, the camera movements, the costumes of returning characters, they all make fans of Kubrick get a tingling in the backs of their heads. Even the music, those iconic horns, drums, and rattles will be reminscent of the film.

But story-wise, it is a child of Stephen King.

All too often, movies fail to capture Stephen King’s kind of magic. I think It comes the closest to embodying his kind of mysticism, but even then, given how every iteration of It falls short towards the end, I’d still say It pales in comparison to Doctor Sleep. Doctor Sleep shows audiences what the Shine is supposed to be like, and it does a fantastic job of it. I won’t spoil it here, but it’s mind-bending.

If you can recall from Kubrick’s Shining, when young Danny Torrance is calling out for help to Dick Hallorann, it’s conveyed to you by a high-pitched ringing, Danny shaking and drooling, and quick cuts to scary images. That was supposed to show how Danny uses his Shine to contact Dick.

Doctor Sleep blows it out of the water in this regard. The way in which characters use the Shine is phenomenally portrayed. It’s the best thing about the movie, honestly.

The one thing that bugs me about the movie is the lack of explanation for where those dang canisters come from. (Total spoiler, I guess, but if you don’t know anything about the movie, you won’t know what I’m talking about until you actually see it. So it’s a safe spoiler?) The canisters that contain the “Steam” look futuristic and high tech, but the True Knot state they’ve been around for ages. So what gives?

Anyways, bottom line, if you’re a Stephen King fan, you absolutely have to watch Doctor Sleep. It gives you those twisting narratives and deep emotions we love so well, and it gives Danny Torrance the ending he deserved.

I rate Doctor Sleep a surprising-delight-for-both-fans-of-the-King-and-Kubrick-classics.

Warp Drives, Klingons, and Awkward Female Interactions: The Star Trek Franchise For Newbies

My friend Mia is the bigger Star Trek fan between the two of us. She was the one who introduced me to it first, starting with the original series. We then watched those new J.J. Abrams films, and my exploration of the Star Trek universe only expanded from there.

However, it might be hard for the average person who hasn’t gotten into Star Trek yet to try giving it a whirl. The size of the series can be daunting to newcomers. After all, it spans across television shows, movies, comics, novels, video games, etc. You name the genre, and Star Trek has probably already been there.

Plus, I will admit, it is a bit of an acquired taste. Such concentrated dosages of sci-fi nerdiness aren’t for everyone.

But for those of you straddling the fence right now, here’s just a few things you should know about getting into Star Trek, both the good and the bad!

Pros:

The main draw for me is the campiness. If you don’t like exaggerated humor or drama, then many of the main Star Trek shows of yore won’t appeal to you.

I for one happen to love the meatball monsters that teleport crew members from their starships onto planetray arenas so that they can battle with an ancient Genghis Khan with Abraham Lincoln by their side.

That music that starts blaring out whenever anybody gets into an absurd fistfight is also imprinted indelibly upon my memory. By the by, the combat is campy too. Conflict is supposed to be super dramatic in the original series, but it just ends up being an experience of futility as you try to stop yourself from snorting in derision so much.

Please be aware that this is meant to sell you on Star Trek,not deter you from it.

There’s something inherently delightful in how aged the show appears to be in all aspects. Simply by drawing you in and making you laugh, the show succeeds in some manner.

Another great thing about the franchise as a whole is its devotion to including as many futurstic devices as it can into the story. Warp engines, phasers, tricorders, holodecks, they’re all unbelievably fantastical.

It’s all so technologically unsound, it’s laughable.

Speaking of laughs, the humor is also crazy hilarious. Conversations that are supposed to be funny follow that “dad” kind of humor, to varying degrees of success. You end up laughing at their attempt to make you laugh more than at the actual joke.

But every so often, when the show is trying to shove that theme of the indomitability of the human spirit in your face, it just…works. Kirk or Picard talking about nobility and compassion just makes you feel uplifted, and you have to actually remind yourself that you’re supposed to be watching this silly sci-fi show just for kicks.

And that’s one of the main reasons why I’d recommend Star Trek. At its core, pushing aside the frivolities and inanities for the moment, it’s about exploring the depths of human nature’s capacity for good. And a show about that can’t be all bad, right?

Cons:

With space travel occurring in the series on a figurative daily basis, you would think that meeting new aliens would be the highlight of the show.

You’d be wrong.

Only a few of the aliens in the Star Trek series are what you would call classic or iconic. Klingons, Vulcans, Tribbles, and the Borg are a tiny fraction of all the aliens you encounter in the franchise. The rest are either ridiculous, forgettable, or insulting.

I get that budgets were tight back in the earlier shows, but some of these alien designs are beyond absurd. They look like toys you could buy in a dollar store glued together.

So if your story revolves around meeting new alien species and 80% of those species are terrible additions to the universe, you’ve kind of got a bit of a problem.

Another issue is plot resolution. Often, the crew of whatever starship or space station you are on will find themselves in dire circumstances. It’s only thanks to a last-minute solution that they make it out okay. But these solutions are always whatever makes the most dramatic sense. Logic goes out the window. If you need to rescue a stranded colony and your transporter is malfunctioning, god forbid you use the life boats or other smaller vessels at your disposal to pick them up. Let’s just turn the whole thing into a crisis.

And oof, its portrayal of women.

In the early shows (I’m talking the original, The Next Generation, maybe even Deep Space Nine, etc.), they’re all incredibly misogynistic. If the women aren’t background characters, they’re usually eye candy. And other characters (of the male variety) won’t let you forget that.

Attractive females in Star Trek are constantly being complimented about their looks. It’s insane. Plus, you can always tell when they’re trying to imply Kirk is having some kind of magnetic moment with a lady. The music changes, the frickin’ lighting changes, and the stares that’ll pass between the two are anything but subtle.

If you bite the bullet and watch those early shows, you’ll know what I mean.

Anyways…

As I write this, I’m sitting by a coffee table, tip-tapping away at my laptop while Next Generation plays comfortably in front of me on the television. The wind is blowing away outside, adding an extra chill to the autumn air, and I have a cup of warmth next to me in the form of green tea, lemon, and honey.

I have nothing pressing to attend to.

At this moment, Star Trek is absolutely perfect for my mood. It’s mild entertainment for a quiet time, filled with poignancy and stupidity in equal measure.

Which, now that I think about it, is kind of like real life.

I rate Star Trek a live-long-and-prosper.

Some Crazy-Ex Appreciation

Last time I wrote about a television show, it was about Game of Thrones, and we all know how that went.

After that particular roller coaster, I wasn’t sure how I felt about tackling a television show again. TV series are such a commitment. You invest a lot more time and energy when watching and reviewing a show than when you review a movie.

But after finishing up the show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, I knew I had to talk about it at some point. ‘Cause goddamn that show is subtly amazing. It’s like a sleeper hit show.

So this post is about giving some appreciation to a series that I think has gone underappreciated by the masses.

I got introduced to Crazy Ex by a friend of mine, one Andreya of TotesAndreya fame. A few years ago, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was all she talked about. She was avidly watching the show, claiming she felt personally attacked by the depiction of the main character, but loving every minute of it. She would play the songs from the show (it’s kind of a musical) in the car all the time. She highly recommended I watch it, and I eventually took her up on that.

Side note: Depending on the person who recommends something to me and how they recommend it determines whether or not I’ll actually give it a try. But once I decide I’m trying it, I damn well try it.

I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about the title because it sounded too much like a rom-com, made-for-TV movie, but the show stuck some dynamite in the mouth of my expectations and blew me away. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is supremely self-aware, and if there’s one thing I appreciate in my shows and my friends, it’s self-awareness.

At first, Crazy Ex seems like a campy, corny comedy-romance that you catch on the CW all the time. But underneath that campiness is a scathing wit,and under the wit is heart, the willingness to bare the soul of a story.

Plus, it’s essentially a musical. And who doesn’t love musicals?

The premise of the show is wince-inducing. Main character Rebecca makes this decision to drop everything in her life to try rekindling something with an ex-boyfriend, even though he lives on the other side of the country and already has a girlfriend. What ensues is nothing short of cringe-worthy as Rebecca abases herself and puts herself in these embarassing situations all to win her ex’s favor. I’m telling you, this shit was more cringey than the Scott’s Tots episode of The Office.

But the show, by increasing degrees, starts getting real. It morphs from this cutesy romantic-comedy with a dash of zaniness to a clever and uncompromising look at mental health and character growth.

And when I say character growth, I don’t just mean that the characters on the show grow, though yes, that does happen. What I mean is that Crazy Ex-Girlfriend features a story that is all about what it means to grow as a person, what it means to develop your own character.

It’s hard work, and it’s a lifelong project, but the rewards are self-evident.

I did not expect to like Crazy Ex as much as I did. Now, I’m recommending it to my family, listening to the soundtrack as I work, and lining up to see panels about it at Comic Con.

So while Game of Thrones might have been a show that took up a great deal of my life with how much I loved it, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend changed my life. Yes, that sounds overly dramatic, but it’s not as dramatic as it sounds. It changed my outlook on certain ideas is all.

I rate it a must-watch-for-anyone-who-has-ever-felt-trapped-by-their-own-personality-and-is-looking-to-have-a-good-laugh-about-the-fact-while-simultaneously-confronting-it.

Clowns, Gore, and More: IT Chapter Two Review (Spoiler Free)

Just so you guys know, this whole spoilers free thing I’m trying to do here is just me being very polite. The book and the made-for-TV movie have been out for years. This no-spoilers stuff is basically for people who haven’t taken the time to guzzle up their Stephen King lore.

Anyways.

Clowns make me a tad uncomfortable.

I know a few people who are seriously terrified of clowns, as in they will scream, tremble, run away, all that jazz, if they see one, but I’ve only ever been slightly put off by them.

I’ve seen them too many times as vehicles of horror to appreciate them in real life. At the same time, I don’t live my life flinching at working clowns.

So for me, the latest adaptation of Stephen King’s infamous It is nothing more than a good time for me. I can get properly freaked out by a killer clown without shitting my pants.

IT Chapter Two is by no means the best horror movie in existence. It doesn’t break any boundaries or raise any bars. Its scares are largely predictable (especially if you’ve read the book), its gore is blatantly over the top at times, and the mythos behind Derry’s terror goes largely unexplained.

I still adored it.

IT Chapter Two shines, as did its predecessor, because of the fantastic cast of “Losers” being harassed by Pennywise. They are all incredible actors, from the children to the adults. If you loved the kids in the first movie, you’ll love the adults they grow into. I don’t know who is responsible for picking these actors, but goddamn, they did a great job.

There are three big-name actors in the movie, who obviously do a phenomenal job of picking up where their respective child actors left off. But I’ve got to give special props to the man who plays adult Eddie Kaspbrak. I just looked him up on IMDb. His name is James Ransone. I don’t want to be mean, but I’ve never heard of him before. However, he totally fit the role of adult Eddie to a tee. Spot on.

Pennywise’s personal moments are also extremely enjoyable. Unfortunately, they’re few and far between.

In the first movie, when Pennywise has his iconic sewer moment with Georgie, I was astonished at how well actor Bill Skarsgard played him. I mean, it goes without saying that Pennywise is an evil individual. You know it from the movie trailers, the pop culture references, and in your gut when you see him pop up from inside the drain. But when he speaks in his bubbly voice, you can feel a charisma that lurks underneath, a charm that draws his hapless child victims in.

Just as in the first movie, Pennywise doesn’t always have his time to shine while utilizing the full extent of Skarsgard’s acting ability. There is this one moment that feels similar to Georgie’s moment, and you’ll know it when you see it. (Feel free to take guesses in the comments as to which moment I’m referring to.)

In terms of jump scares, the movie has a regular amount of them, i.e. perhaps too many. However, if you’re on the fence about seeing it, you should know I always knew when to close my eyes before a jump scare. I don’t know if that’s an indication of whether or not this movie won’t be too scary for you, but it definitely was okay for me.

The gore was also cringey, as is expected. However, the fact that a lot of the gory moments relied on CGI and stuff actually helped to alleviate whatever feelings of distaste I might have had.

Any qualms I had with the movie, which were not many, were overshadowed by my love for the source material, my respect for the actors taking on these roles, and my genuine appreciation for the theme of growing up that is ever-present in nearly every Stephen King book. No one boils down childhood hope into palatable, less-corny pulp fiction than he does.

I rate IT Chapter Two a definitely-go-see-if-you-liked-the-first-one-or-if-you-like-Stephen-King-in-general-just-be-prepared-to-cry-a-bit-either-from-laughter-thanks-to-phenomenal-jokes-or-from-genuine-sadness-over-the-film’s-ending.