In 2017, IRL, truth is no longer a given in public life. Lies, and the acceptance of dishonesty as a bargaining tool in civil discourse, have become prevalent to the point of being considered the norm. And so, paradoxically, when it comes to our products of cultural and artistic expression, we value authenticity more than ever.
We want our pop culture to peel back the facade, not add to its fakeness. And that goes for the genres dealing with typically lighter subject matter, like relationships and comedy, as well as the more serious stuff. On the small screen, examples abound: the songs on Crazy Ex Girlfriend expose the pitfalls of beauty standards and traditional male-female dynamics, shows like Catastrophe and You’re the Worst revel in the fact that there are no thrilling relationship ups without equally dizzying downs. Girls might have been an outlier when its protagonists started making bad decisions and having ugly sexy, but now that’s par for the course on any show dealing with romance, lust and love, or any combination of the three.
On television, a whole slew of romcoms have embraced a “warts and all” philosophy when it comes to their portrayals of dating, falling in love and staying there, and even breaking up (looking at you, HBO’s Divorce). But film has lagged behind. There are a few exceptions, Trainwreck being a great one, but so many straight romcoms still cater to outdated gender stereotypes, which usually reduce even the most likable characters to thinly written clichés. (And by “straight” here, I don’t mean hetero, although most, sadly, are also that. What I mean without a genre twist. So not a romcom set within a sci-fi or thriller or superhero movie, just a regular old, person-meets-another-person-falls-in-love-and-complications-ensue story. If I could get everyone to go watch The Lobster by selling it as a romcom, I would, but it just isn’t).
On the big screen, we needed a Girls moment, a Rachel Bloom singing The Sexy Getting Ready Song moment, something for those of us who genuinely appreciate the romantic comedy format and wanted to see it evolve – with stories rooted in genuine affection and realistic challenges (rather than mind-blowing notions like, men enjoy sports and women are screeching harpies). And thanks to Emily Gordon and Kumail Nanjinani, nerd power-couple extraordinaire, we have it. Their new movie, The Big Sick, which is based on their real-life love story, is a breath of fresh air for the whole brand.
In The Big Sick you get the ordinary – they meet, fall in love, deal with work and family stress, suffer through roommates and the crappy apartments we all lived in our 20s – and the extraordinary – did I mention that one of them is placed in a medically induced coma due to a life threatening infection!?! The latter lends a sense of urgency to the otherwise very relatable struggles the characters face: How much do we owe our parents for the sacrifices they made to raise our quality of life? How much should we sacrifice and even pretend when their traditions are no longer relevant to us? Is honesty or devotion more important in our relationships with our partners? Does it matter more if we lie about who we are to our friends and family or to ourselves? That’s a lot to grapple with, so we’re lucky the movie’s specialty is making the weighty and complex surprisingly hilarious (primo-example – a 9/11 joke that had my whole theater lol-ing) .
All the while, The Big Sick never cuts its characters slack when it comes to their blindspots. She calls him out for mansplaining old movies, he confronts her about not making more of an effort to understand his culture. There are no villanous “other women” or sprints through the airport to fix everything with a grand romantic gesture. Just two complicated people, plus their families and histories, not sure if they can work it out. This frank look at what it’s like to love someone and try to decide if you want to spend the rest of your life together, reminds me of one of my favorite Drake lyrics – we’re shown that Emily and Kumail are “the furthest thing from perfect, like everyone I know.” That’s what make The Big Sick such an authentic take on modern love – and in 2017 that’s the romcom we need.
No Question Mark Box Here; Super Mario Delivers a 1-Up in Theaters
If you were born in the ’80s, ’90s, or literally ANY decade after those, you know about Super Mario. A cultural phenomenon was brought to life on the big screen this last weekend. One that has not only stood the test of time but reinvented itself time and time again. This wasn’t even the first time it’s been made into a movie but, well, let’s be honest.. some of us choose not to acknowledge the LIVE action adaptation of the beloved game from 30 years ago.
It was pretty bad… But this was animation. ILLUMINATION animation at that. The Universal company that brought us Gru and his Minions, showed us the Secret Life of Pets, and gave us a reason to SING! Still, I had my reservations and even some concerns, especially when the casting was announced.
Eyebrows were raised. As big of stars as they were on paper, could they really deliver on voicing characters from a staple of our childhood? They did.
Chris Pratt and Charlie Day may not be Italian, and Jack Black may not be a King or Turtle creature from the Mushroom Kingdom, but they make the characters their own all while paying homage to the lore of a video game.
From the jump, the story reintroduces us to the brothers that just want to save Brooklyn one clogged sink at a time. We feel an instant connection and relate to these “underdogs of the plumbing world”. The movie is riddled with easter eggs, each of which tugs on the heartstrings of every generation of Mario fandom. And the soundtrack was beautifully put together to not only make us feel like we’re taking a walkthrough of the game but like an experience all its own with some familiar favorites thrown in.
Every word in the movie is pure eye candy for both those that are casual fans, and those analyzing every frame to see what they’ll catch next. Bowser’s ship, the Mushroom Kingdom, Kong’s arena, and the Rainbow Road.. They’re all meant to give us just enough of a “new” look at these amazing worlds, but stay true to how we remember them.
The movie itself moves along at the perfect pace. Although, if you don’t really know ANYTHING about the Super Mario Bros, you may have gotten a little lost and felt left behind in the green tunnel. But that’s ok! It’s an adventure of the imagination and a classic story of a boy that meets a girl and tries to save the world from a monster that wants to destroy it.
What’s funny is that you could easily say this is a story about two characters who couldn’t be more opposite if they tried, battling to win the heart of a princess. Who would’ve thought that the King of the Koopas was just trying to impress his crush?
And that song? Ohhh THAT song! It’s my new ringtone and deserves the Oscar for Best Original Song.
Back to the movie.
Universal and Illumination clearly understood the assignment. Is it missing some things or could things have been done differently or even better? Absolutely! We’re the worst critics of the things we hold nearest and dearest to our hearts. But if you’re up for going on a 90-minute adventure through amazing worlds, with awesome music, and characters that’ll make you smile and laugh, then this is the perfect movie to spring you into that warm summer feeling.
Plus there’s the whole part with karts and shells, and banana peels and oh my goodness how amazing was that?? It’s enough to make you want to stand up and cheer, then go home and destroy your friends and family on your favorite track haha.
The bottom line, it pays homage in all the right ways to the little guy with the mustache, while giving us something new and exciting. Take the kids and go see Super Mario Bros. You’ll be glad you did!
Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023
Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Opening Act Saturday, March 25 at 1:30 p.m. on North 200A. Talent confirmed so far to participate in the post-screening panel is Natalie Alyn Lind (Big Sky, The Goldbergs, Gotham) as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince and longtime RWBY cast member Lindsay Jones (Camp Camp) as Ruby, Kara Eberle ( RWBY: Ice Queendom) as Weiss, Arryn Zech (Detective Now Dead) as Blake and Barbara Dunkelman (Blood Fest) as Yang – along with Jeannie Tirado (Soul, Saints Row) as Green Lantern and Tru Valentino (The Rookie, The Cuphead Show!) as a cyborg. Also attending the panel will be producer/director Kerry Shawcross (series RWBY) and writer Meghan Fitzmartin (Supernatural, Justice Society: World War II).
Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023 with the big screen debut from DC Animated Films: highlights this year include the world premieres of the highly anticipated Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham and Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Part One the weekend of March 24-26 in Anaheim, California. Both screenings will be followed by panel discussions with actors and creators. Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham premieres at The Arena on Friday, March 24 at 6 p.m. Tati Gabrielle (Kaleidoscope, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Uncharted) as Kai Li Cain, Christopher Gorham (The Lincoln Lawyer, Insatiable) as Oliver Queen, David Dastmalchian (Dune, Suicide Squad, Ant-Man) as Grendon, producer/co-director Sam Liu (The Death and the Return of Superman), co-director Christopher Berkeley (Young Justice) and screenwriter Jase Ricci (Teen Titans Go! and DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem Across the Multiverse).
Both films will have encore screenings in the Arena on Sunday, March 26. Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsmen, Part One will screen at 12:15pm, followed by Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham at 2:00pm