West Week Ever: Pop Culture In Review – 6/14/24

Well, 13 year old Will would have been very happy this week from an interaction on Twitter. Here lately it seems I’m upsetting people on social media, but this time Ol’ Will did something right! You see, news broke that the long-gestating Power Rangers reboot was dead at Netflix. After 4 years in development, with Jonathan Entwistle at the helm, Netflix was passing, with Hasbro reporting they would be “shopping it around to other outlets”. Yeah, that’s the equivalent of a politician getting caught in a scandal, and then resigning under the pretense that they wish to spend more time with their family. Anyway, as you can imagine, the terminally online Power Rangers fans had feelings. I don’t really engage, as we’re not exactly cut from the same cloth. But I did see a post from original Pink Ranger/Kimberly Hart, Amy Jo Johnson, who was basically suggesting Hasbro look to her recent MMPR: The Return comic miniseries for inspiration for a potential franchise reboot. Well, I quote tweeted it with my own thoughts, and the Pink Ranger Liked it! THE Pink Ranger! The one who did flips and wore little shorts! The one who dated The Greatest Ranger of All Time! I don’t have much to be excited about lately, so you’re just gonna have to let me have this one!

For my youngest’s birthday, we all went to the movies to see IF. In case you missed the trailers – which were somewhat misleading – it’s the latest film written by John Krasinski, starring Ryan Reynolds. Ya see, the trailers sort of made it look like a live action adaptation of Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, but that wasn’t the case here. Yes, IF does stand for Imaginary Friend, but the story is laid upon a tearjerker foundation that doesn’t really suit what the film is trying to do. Twelve year old Elizabeth had a happy childhood, shown through flashback footage. But wait – Why are they visiting her mom at a hospital? Oh shit. Mom’s wearing a scarf on her head. This won’t end well! It’s basically the Main Character’s Dead Wife trope applied to a kid instead of, say, John Wick. And it seems like all of these flashbacks took place over one magically tragic summer? Anyway, once we catch up to the modern day, she’s returning to the apartment, which I guess was her grandmother’s apartment. When grandma tries to show her she’d kept all of her stuff from that fateful summer, “B”, as she’s called by everyone around her, states, “I’m twelve, grandma. I’m not into that stuff anymore.” Buckle up, folks!

B discovers she can see things, eventually finding out that she’s seeing folks’ imaginary friends, or “IFs”. It’s, like, a gift or something. Not one that would necessarily change the world, but you’ve got to imagine even the Xavier School probably had a few non-combatant losers living in the basement, so it tracks. Ryan Reynolds pops up because he’s, like, the “chaperone” for the IFs. He’s really coy about what’s going on, in a way that I guess only Ryan Reynolds can pull off, but it’s annoying as Hell. It’s one of those things that an ugly person couldn’t get away with, but you see those eyes and that beard, and you’re like, “Sure, you can crash on my couch til you get back on your feet!” He explains that when people grow up, they forget their IFs, causing those abandoned creations to wander, looking for new assignments. Since B’s got The Touch (No, we can’t afford to put Stan Bush right here), she thinks she and IF Wrangler Reynolds should team up to find these IFs new homes. We learn more about the IFs, as well as their former kid buddies. Oh, and the IFs keep saying cryptic shit, like, “Don’t you remember when you were here, B?” Anyway, this all serves as a great distraction, as B’s dad, played by Krasinski, is in the hospital due to a *checks notes* “Broken Heart”? They don’t really explain it too well, but you’re supposed to think B is about to lose her remaining parent, and she’s not sure how to cope with that possibility.

One place I have to give this movie credit is the voice casting. The main IF is named Blue, but he’s actually purple – his kid was colorblind when he named him. Anyway, Blue is voiced by Steve Carell, and when I saw the character, I immediately thought “This thing looks like Bobby Moynihan? Why didn’t they just cast Moynihan? He surely would’ve been cheaper than Carell.” Then, we meet Blue’s former kid, all grown up now, and played…by Bobby Moynihan. I see what you did there, Jim from The Office! There are also great performances from Maya Rudolph, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and more. The IFs even take B to an IF Assisted Living facility, where the caretaker is an old, raggedy, stuffed brown bear, voiced by Louis Gossett Jr. Can you believe this was probably that man’s last role?! It’s not even a Raul Julia situation, where you’re like, “Yeah, it was Street Fighter, but he did a HELL of a job in that role!”

It’s a meandering mess that really tries to tug on the heartstrings, but doesn’t really earn an emotional response from its audience. In the third act, Krasinski just goes for broke, and while there’s not quite a Shyamalanian Twist, it still throws you for a bit of a loop. Bottom Line: Do NOT pay to see this, but have at it once it comes on FX one boring Sunday morning.

Trailer Park

Supacell (Netflix, June 27)

I didn’t even know about this show when the week started, but it’s right up my alley. It basically looks like “What if we remade Misfits, but made errbody Black?” I’m sure I talked about Misfits on this site a long time ago (seriously, the show came out over a decade ago), but it was a British show (I think on E4, as they tend to have all the “hip” shows), about a group of teens who only knew each other because they were assigned to the same community service project. They were each delinquent in their own way, but one night while they’re picking up trash, a meteor shower occurs, resulting in them gaining powers. Well, them and a whole slew of others. It was basically someone watching Smallville and thinking, “I could do that!” Ya know, since every villain in Smallville was somehow tied to the same meteor shower that had brought Baby Clark to Earth? I like the whole “ragtag team that has to rely upon each other even though they don’t like each other” trope. Plus, I never made it to the end of Misfits, and I guess I feel like watching this would assuage my guilt, Or, ya know, I could just track down Misfits. It’s gotta be on BritBox or something…

Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Paramount+, August 9)

Ya know, Ninja Turtles enjoys a franchise model that I wish Power Rangers could adopt: A new iteration pops up, hangs out for 4-5 years, and then the franchise rests, waiting for its next fans to come of age. With each new iteration of Ninja Turtles, I realize more and more that “it’s not for me”. And that’s not a bad thing. I’m just not their audience. And I’m glad I was positioned correctly amongst the fandom that allowed me to be able to step back. I mean, this thing was a PHENOMENON. I don’t think you’ll encounter anyone born in the 80s who’ll say they hated the Ninja Turtles. The spectrum goes from “Yeah, They Were Kinda Cool” all the way to “I’ve Been Feeding Chemicals to My Pet Rat So It Can Teach Me Karate One Day”. We were all in that media storm, just some of us closer to the eye than others. For me, the “original” Fred Wolf cartoon is it. After that, I was too entrenched in Power Rangers fandom, which is what made me check out Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation. And that was the first time where I realized “You can’t go home again” with some of these fads. By the time the 2003 4Kids cartoon came out, I wasn’t remotely interested (And Power Rangers was still going!). I’d go on to miss the TMNT film (I can’t get past the first 20 min of the CGI slog), I merely sampled the 2012 Nick cartoon, and while I saw the first Michael Bay film, I missed the second, as well as Seth Rogen’s Mutant Mayhem. I think I’ve lost my keycard access to the sewer lair, but I’m glad to know the franchise is still around, for new generations. I like seeing Turtles on toy shelves, but I’m not about to get angry if you tell me Shredder is now an actual mutated kitchen utensil. These are different times! Anyway, I know these streamers have to drum up subscribers, but it’s sort of “sus”, as the kids say, that this is going to Paramount+ instead of Nick. Yeah, I’m not dumb, and I know it will eventually land on Nick, but that just feels like wasted time.

The Wild Robot (Theaters, September 27)

This ain’t nothing but pro-A.I. propaganda! Stay woke, my fleshy brothers and sisters!

Will Around The Web

Just yesterday, Adam & I released the latest episode of our podcast, Remember That Show? This time around, you’re getting what we’re considering Part 2 of our “spiritual crossover” with Totally Rad Christmas that I mentioned that week. Still talking about the 1984 CBS sitcom E/R, but giving it the ol’ RTS treatment!

Links I Loved

Things You Might Have Missed This Week

  • Following last week’s debut of the Disney Channel movie Big City Greens: Spacecation, it was announced that the main series has been renewed for a 5th season.
  • Speaking of Season 5, Eric Kripke announced that The Boys would end with its 5th season, as Season 4 was just released on Prime Video yesterday.
  • Paul Giamatti has been cast as the villain in the upcoming Star Trek: Starfleet Academy series.
  • Due to budget cuts, Late Night with Seth Meyers has cut its live band. Several members have reported that they’ll still be providing music for the show, but not in a live capacity going forward.
  • Meanwhile, Netflix has canceled yet another show I’d never heard of until its cancelation notice: My Dad The Bounty Hunter, which was apparently an animated series about a Black family where the father is discovered by his kids to be a space-faring bounty hunter. That sounds cool as shit, and it had 2 seasons?! Were they only promoting this thing in Jet?!
  • In another blow to the Black Community, the Marvel Studios Blade film has lost another director. This time, Yann Demange has walked away from the film, in what was reported to be an “amicable split”, AKA He’d like to be able to work in that town in the future. Remember – This thing was announced FIVE YEARS AGO at this point. Let’s just call it, and quietly take it off the timeline.
  • Sony just bought Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, which sounds like a good thing, but is probably a very bad thing. Studios shouldn’t own theaters. There were laws to prevent this, for 70 years, until there weren’t those laws anymore.

Ya know, for an industry where folks seem to be scared A.I. is takin’ all the jerbs, you’d never believe that from the caliber of announcements that came out of the Annecy Animation Festival this week. There were a TON of announcements of upcoming animated projects, including:

  • Suicide Squad ISEKAI – a Suicide Squad anime which, for some reason, will begin streaming on both Max and Hulu on June 27th.
  • Prep & Landing: The Snowball Protocol – a new Prep & Landing Christmas special from Disney
  • Marvel’s Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur: Moon Girl’s Lab – an 8-episode short-form, STEM-focused, musical series, featuring music from Raphael Saadiq
  • Disney Jr’s Ariel, inspired by last year’s live action remake of The Little Mermaid, will debut on June 27th.
  • Warner Bros Animation announced three (!) upcoming Adventure Time projects, including The Adventure Time Movie, the younger-skewing Adventure Time: Heyo BMO, and Adventure Time: Side Quests.
  • Warners also announced upcoming reboots of familiar favorites, like Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends (this time targeting a younger audience), as well as the return of J.G. Quintel’s Regular Show!
  • Finally, WB announced Go-Go Mystery Machine, which sends Shaggy and Scooby on a food tour of Japan, where they make friends with the locals as they try to track down the mythical ghosts they unwittingly unleashed. Yup, we’re basically getting Scooby-Doo: The Anime!

So, that’s a lot of cool-sounding stuff, and they’re all gonna require writers and animators to pull them off. I know we’re not out of the A.I. woods yet, but things might not be as bad as folks have been thinking. So, with that, I’m gonna say that Animation (yup, I’m gonna be just that vague!) had the West Week Ever.