West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 3/8/24

Howdy, folks! I’m on a work deadline, and I’ve got Awesome Con waiting for me in a few hours. So, this will follow a bit of a different format. This preamble is usually where I describe a recent thing I watched, or I get on my soapbox. I’ve got none of that this week, so enjoy twice the usual amount of trailers and all my wonderful thoughts on those!

Trailer Park

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (Theaters, March 22)

I’m sorry, fellow Elder Millennials, but I just can’t muster excitement for this movie. Everyone keeps saying “It’s like an episode of The Real Ghostbusters!”, which was a show that I LOVED. That said, it was never a show with stakes. Everything was wrapped up in 22 minutes, and the episodes can be shown in any order in syndication. I’m not sure if it was Breaking Bad or the MCU that finally broke me, but I now need my entertainment to be going somewhere. I’m not really into “slice of life” stuff unless it’s from A24 or something. Otherwise, this needs to be setting up the grand introduction of Samhain or something. Plus, though I loathe the present day phenomenon of the “Final Trailer” (I don’t remember there being 3 trailers per movie back in the day!), this one lacks a key ingredient that’s in all Final Trailers: The “Oh Shit!” moment designed to win over anyone on the fence. I mean, it would have been in poor taste, but maybe show some energy flowing around a headstone with “Spengler” on it or something. I dunno. If not that, then maybe “Tully”? Some sort of throwback, so old school fans are like, “OK, I’m sold!” I’ll pick up the Blu-ray on Black Friday, and throw it in my Unwatched Ghostbusters pile.

The Idea of You (Prime Video, May 2)

OK, first things first: I love Anne Hathaway. Always have, and probably always will. That’s why I was saddened during that period right after folks hated Katherine Hiegl, but before folks hated Brie Larson, where folks decided to hate Anne. And she was going through a lot! Her fiance turned out to be some sort of con artist, who posed as the official real estate agent of The Vatican (No, REALLY!), and she had a string of flops that didn’t help matters. In the past couple of years, I’ve caught trailers for her films that looked really good (Eileen, for instance), only the movies never came out theatrically, or the studios didn’t do much to promote them. I want to see her rise again!

I’m struggling here because Hathaway’s only 41, yet she’s in the Older Woman Experiences Her Sexual Reawakening role. That’s what Julianne Moore exists for! Have we forgotten Julianne Moore?! Yes, she’s 63, but she keeps it tight! Oddly enough, Nicolas Galitzine – the male lead here – plays Moore’s son in the upcoming period drama Mary & George.

Anyway, when it said it was based on a novel, it all made sense. This has “beach read” written all over it. It’s basically some woman writing down what she thought it would be like to bang Harry Styles (it was released in 2017, so it tracks). This, however, is where it gets interesting: the novel was written by actress Robinne Lee – a Black actress. So, was Hathaway’s character race swapped? The character’s name is “Solène Marchand”, which you could say is a French White woman’s name, but you could just as easily say she was from New Orleans. There’s a thinkpiece out there, just waiting to be written!

Jerrod Carmichael Reality Show (HBO, March 29)

First off, this trailer probably isn’t Safe for Work, so keep that in mind. I have a weird relationship with Jerrod Carmichael’s career. I was a big fan of his NBC sitcom The Carmichael Show, and I also really enjoyed his standup. That said, there were moments on that show where it felt like he wasn’t comfortable in his own skin. We’d later found out that was true, when he came out as gay in his 2022 HBO special Rothaniel. While I’m glad he was finally able to express himself, it felt like some of his best work was from the era before that. I can’t really put my finger on why. Maybe it’s because sometimes comedy comes from pain? Who knows? Anyway, since then, it has seemed like he was on some sort of sexual Rumspringa, as he comes to terms with his New Normal. And that’s all documented here. This looks uncomfortable, but could also be really good. As a generational thing, all Black people know his parents or folks like them. They “hate the sin, not the sinner”. The scene with the mom praying for the Lord to take away his desire for men…damn. So, maybe this will start some conversations. I could say it’s brave for him to do this, but there is a part of me that feels bad for everyone else in his life, who may not want their growth to be documented through his lens, if that makes sense. People have to grow in their own time, and not because they were humiliated in front of a national audience. That doesn’t tend to produce *genuine* change, but we shall see.

Fallout (Prime Video, April 11)

I immediately got Westworld vibes from this, which was validated when “From the director of Westworld” came up onscreen. That’s not a good thing. You see, to me, Westworld is the most recent example of an ambitious, low concept drama that screwed over its audience. Four seasons, with no resolution. The cast members were never even told how it was gonna end. Ain’t nobody got time for that! If this were headed to Netflix, it’d be D.O.A. Amazon might give it a chance, but it’s got to be a hit out of the gate. I’m not a gamer, so I know nothing of the Fallout franchise. That said, I did quite the deep dive on it when the first teaser came out for this show. It seems like it’s got a rich mythology, pulling from over 25 years worth of games. Yeah, there’s no way this show is going to satisfy its fan base, but it might attract those also not familiar with the games. Frankly, I’m over all this end of the world stuff. Sure, everybody wants to go to Heaven, but nobody’s in a rush to get there. You wouldn’t know it by our entertainment, though. All the biggest hits are about the worst aspects of humanity being amplified when the shit hits the fan. We’re about a stone’s throw from that coming true, so unless you’re watching these things for tips and potential lifehacks, I’d rather just occupy my time with happier pursuits until it’s time for the real deal. Might seem pessimistic, but just look out your window sometime…

Inside Out 2 (Theaters, June 14)

I’m pretty sure I discussed this here at some point, but I didn’t love Inside Out. It was during that period where it felt like Pixar had gotten stale, as they tried to reinforce their reputation for pulling on the heartstrings over story. As a caveat, however, I have to add that I’ve never watched it all the way through, as we were watching a disc from Redbox that started skipping during that whole Bing Bong story. So, that character means nothing to me, even though he seems to have been one of the aspects folks remember the most fondly. I was able to finish the film, but I missed chunks. Still, I didn’t walk away, thinking “I sure can’t wait to see Riley go to high school!” We KNOW what happens. There have been countless movies, TV shows, and After School Specials about it. Teen girls feel insecure due to the pressures and expectations applied by society. Is it gonna make it any different that I’m experiencing it through the eyes of animated Amy Poehler inside this girl’s head? I think not. Also, I don’t like the behind the scenes drama here, where Poehler got $5 million, while everyone else was offered $100,000, leaving several – like Mindy Kaling – to decline reprising their roles. I know she’s a “name”, but that’s the beauty of animation: your “star power” almost doesn’t matter, as no one is gonna see you. I felt like anyone could have been Joy. Hell, get Anna Kendrick to do her Princess Poppy Trolls voice. It’d still work. So, my kids might want to see it, but I doubt it, as there’s no Roblox game for this franchise.

Will Around The Web

My buddy Chad did a write up about his recent toy haul, which included his stop at my place that I mentioned last week. Go give it a read!

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Fox Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch is engaged to be married for the fifth time, this time to molecular biologist Elena Zhukova. Why is this important? Because his last wife was former model Jerry Hall, whom we discussed in the last episode of the Remember That Show? Podcast!
  • There was a ton of news from CBS’s The Big Bang Theory Universe, as it was announced that Jim Parsons and Mayim Bialik would be returning for the Young Sheldon series finale (This has Star Trek: Enterprise written all over it…). Meanwhile, Sheldon’s older brother Georgie and his wife would be getting their own spinoff – an odd choice, seeing as how The Big Bang Theory already confirmed that not only does their marriage not last, but neither does Georgie’s next one after it…
  • It was announced that Jodie – the Daria spinoff that was originally planned as a show that became a film – would not be moving forward at MTV Entertainment, though star and producer Tracee Ellis Ross is being allowed to shop it elsewhere. Seeing as how it was developed to star both Jodie AND Daria, removing Daria made this feel like there was some agenda afoot…
  • Target unveiled plans for the new paid tier of their Target Circle rewards program, known as Target Circle 360. As a competitor to Amazon Prime and Walmart+, $99 a year will get you free same-day shipping from Target’s Shipt service, as well as an additional 30 days for returns and free 2-day shipping. Also, the Target RedCard will be rebranded as the Target Circle Card. I mean, I get it, but I don’t think they’re bringing enough to the table to make it worth it.
  • In true Netflix fashion, they announced their adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender was renewed for 2 more seasons, and then it will end. Grand opening, grand closing!
  • Mike Tyson, of Nintendo’s Punch Out fame, will be facing social media bad boy Jake Paul in an exhibition boxing match to be streamed on Netflix in July. Specifics are unknown, as far as whether this is for charity, but hopefully the video game titan will murder Paul, and steal his brother’s Pokémon cards.
  • Hannah Gutierrez Reed, the armorer on the set of the Rust film, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins. They were determined to get SOMEBODY for that shooting, and Alec Baldwin was all “Taste my Schweddy Balls!” I haven’t read all the reports, but I feel bad for Gutierrez Reed, especially when last I knew Baldwin claimed he never pulled the trigger. I didn’t think guns worked like that unless you dropped them, so…

Nothing really blew my socks off this week, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the passing of Japanese manga artist Akira Toriyama. Most notable for creating the international hit franchise Dragon Ball, he also worked in the video game industry, designing characters for games like Chrono Trigger and Dragon Warrior (Dragon Quest). I’m not gonna sit here and try to write an obit for the man, as Dragon Ball is one of my biggest pop culture blind spots, right next to Harry Potter. That said, just a glance at my social media feeds proves to me that it was clearly my loss, as his passing has affected a world of fans. He was clearly an inspiration in both of his fields, and his influence can still be seen today. I’m not going to become a DB fan overnight, but I’d love it if anyone wanted to point me in the direction of some of his best work.