King Kong on Broadway

“Why, in a few months, it’ll be up in lights on Broadway: Kong, the Eighth Wonder of the World.”
– Carl Denham

Eighty-five years after Robert Armstrong uttered that line in the original King Kong, the king of Skull Island has made the leap off of screens and onto an actual Broadway stage, with the debut of a new musical now in previews at the Broadway Theatre. It’s not exactly fair to critique the production before their November 8th opening (and there are plenty of folks much better suited to give you a real theater review), but I’m more interested in talking about how the show stacks up as an entry into the Kong canon anyway.* Continue reading King Kong on Broadway

The Podcast: Indie Movies of Summer 2018

Every summer for four years, Marisa, Sara, Nathaniel, and Jesse have gotten together to discuss the wealth of indie movies released between the beginning of May and the end of August, offering an alternative to the onslaught of summer blockbusters as well as a bunch of rental recommendations for the fall. (Here are the past episodes for 2015, 2016, and 2017.)

Our discussion of this year’s crop of summer indie movies covers over 15 different titles: Blindspotting! Eighth Grade! Madeline’s Madeline! Hereditary! Sorry to Bother You! Tully! First Reformed! BlacKkKlansman! And more!

Just listen to what the critics have to say!

“It’s not that I don’t trust this filmmaker, where they’re going to take me. But I don’t know that they have a handle on the effect of this movie, moment to moment.” – Nathaniel

“It did still feel very real to me, just the level of anxiety that you feel on a daily basis on just about every social interaction that you have. And it’s by some YouTube guy!” – Sara

“I feel like it’s about something never really put to screen: Trying to reconcile the woman you were before you were a mother, and the women you are after.” – Marisa

“That was a movie I admired, and never ever want to see again. And would not be inspired to check out previous films by this director. The next one, yes, but there’s no turning back.” – Jesse

What do these quotes mean in context? Listen and find out!

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Labor Day Surprise: Destination Wedding and The Little Stranger do their genres proud

It’s received wisdom that people don’t go to the movies en masse over Labor Day weekend, especially not the way they flock to theaters over Memorial Day or the Fourth of July. Maybe it’s true that back-to-school concerns eclipse interest in going out to movie theaters (although looming classroom time doesn’t seem like it has much effect on any other weekend), but it’s more true that studios and distributors lean right in to the notion that no one wants to see anything but last month’s leftovers, sometimes opting not to properly release movies even when they have movies to release. This year sees the release of two modest but satisfying genre-based pleasures that their respective studios aren’t just keeping audiences from seeing (through limited releases); they’re also keeping them from hearing much about them through press embargos that don’t lift until the movies are practically in theaters.
Continue reading Labor Day Surprise: Destination Wedding and The Little Stranger do their genres proud Contributor In the Wild: Sara at Books Are Magic

If you’re a regular listener to our podcast, you’ll know Sara as’s voice of reason.

But did you know she’s also a brilliant writer? She is, and you should definitely buy her book of short stories, Better Times. And, if you want to do it in person, and perhaps say a friendly hello, you can do so at Books Are Magic in Brooklyn on Friday, August 31. There, she’ll be in conversation with Marie-Helene Bertino (of 2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas fame), another amazing author we somehow haven’t coerced into appearing on our podcast yet. These are two forces to be reckoned with, so it’s going to be a good one! The event is free, but you should RSVP on the store’s Facebook page.

And while I’m plugging the books of our current, recent, and maybe-one-day-will-be contributors, our vampire-expert Maggie has a book out, too! (Sorry, Maggie, I should’ve done a post for your reading, too—I totally dropped the ball.) Her novel, The Last Best Story is influenced by whip-smart screwball comedies like His Girl Friday and The Libeled Lady. You know that’s your jam, so pick up the book!

The Podcast: The Mission: Impossible Franchise

From its less-than-humble beginnings as a major event movie in 1996, it’s still remarkable that the Mission: Impossible movies have become the longest-running same-continuity reboot-free franchise going, with six films in 22 years. The crew is made up of a lot of Mission: Impossible fans, so on the occasion of the newest release, Fallout, Nathaniel, Marisa, Jesse, and Jon got together to go over what we liked, loved, and hmmmm’d about the newest entry, followed by a discussion of the first five movies. Glory to our deep dive into Cruise-ology, Ilsa Faust fandom, auteur analysis, a major movie star’s unwillingness to delivery quips, the coolness of Ving Rhames, and so much more!

We are now up to SEVEN (7) different ways to listen to a SportsAlcohol podcast:

The Happytime Murders: Kid Stuff for Adults

An early pilot for The Muppet Show was subtitled Sex & Violence. This title was not included when Jim Henson’s puppet variety show became a star-studded five-season sensation in international syndication, and in general The Muppet Show proceeded as something families could watch together. A toddler could comfortably watch most of the show’s segments; many have, and will. But the reason toddlers might still watch The Muppet Show is because it has long appealed to adults, both now (when those adults may have nostalgic memories of watching it as children) and when it aired (when a show would need more than just some children’s eyeballs to become a five-season international-syndication sensation).

At the risk of sounding like that guy, the notion of affable and adorable puppets doing comedy for adults is not counter to the Muppets; in a large part, it is the Muppets. Granted, the Muppets never indulged in salty language or explicit sex scenes. But if the supposed incongruity of those actions constitute a cheap laugh, what kind of laugh is a puppet pig karate-chopping a puppet frog? Isn’t funny in part because the pig puppet is acting like an angry human? And isn’t there an enormous cult of appreciation around Team America: World Police in part because it does feature puppets doing things we don’t expect puppets to do?
Continue reading The Happytime Murders: Kid Stuff for Adults

Crazy Rich Asians would have been a hell of a musical

A major reason that Crazy Rich Asians is a landmark is right up there on screen – it’s a big studio production made almost entirely with Asian and Asian-American performers, and before you even get to the many individual charms of those actors, there’s real distinction in watching an American movie without any white people in it, something that hopefully can become less rare in the coming years. But the movie is a big deal for representation behind the camera, too: It’s a dip into the romantic comedy and family drama genres from the talented and versatile Jon M. Chu, an Asian-American director whose career has so far included an unusual number of sequel jobs, as he was sent in to continue Step Up (with parts 2 and 3), G.I. Joe (part 2), and Now You See Me (part 2, and he’s attached to part 3). More often than not, he leaves a franchise in better shape than he found it; here he has the chance to start his own.
Continue reading Crazy Rich Asians would have been a hell of a musical

The 10 Best Revival Episodes of Futurama

I may be showing my age, but I’m pretty excited for Disenchantment, the new Netflix series created by Matt Groening (with an assortment of writers, animators, and voice actors from his previous shows). I was around for the glorious peak years of both The Simpsons (1991 through 1997ish I guess, don’t @ me) and Futurama (late 1999 through 2003), so the promise of a new Groening TV show rates very high on my personal hopes/expectations chart. It’s also why I’m unfazed by mixed reviews of the early episodes, as both of those previous shows offer a template for how this show might develop. Continue reading The 10 Best Revival Episodes of Futurama

The Podcast: Top Summer Movies of 1998

The summer movie season means sequels galore, and we here at are happy to oblige with the latest installment of our own long-running series! Since 2014, we’ve been recording a podcast wherein we go through the top summer box office attractions of 20 years earlier and discuss what it was like going to movies in a different era, and how we feel about some of these beloved/despised/moneymaking/money-losing projects now. So, in the tradition of 1997, 1996, 1995, and 1994 comes our blockbuster episode on summer 1998, including:

  • Two asteroids!
  • Two big comedies!
  • One big comedy star trying drama!
  • More Disney song critiques!
  • Unsold Godzilla merchandise languishing at JC Penney!
  • A lightning round of non-blockbusters!

For supplemental reading about the summer of 1998, you might also check out this site’s story “Godzilla ’98” and its companion piece “Armageddon ’98”!

We are now up to SEVEN (7) different ways to listen to a SportsAlcohol podcast:

The Odyssey: Damsel and Izzy Gets the Fuck Across Town

About halfway through Damsel, maybe a little earlier, maybe much earlier if you’re looking for it, Robert Pattinson, who has been playing the lead role, turns out to be less heroic than you might have assumed, and certainly less heroic than his character has made himself out to be so far. This might constitute a spoiler if I was more specific, or if Robert Pattinson had played any actual heroic roles since his work as the ultimate Hero Who’s Not, Really as the lead in the Twilight series. This isn’t a criticism so much as a fact: Robert Pattinson has played creeps, fuck-ups, and/or blunderers so many times that it’s his moments seeming like a sweet naïf that subvert expectations, not any undermining of his matinee-idol image (besides, five Twilight movies arguably did that already, albeit unintentionally).

That’s about right for Damsel, which makes a sharp point much later and more frequently than is, perhaps, necessary. The cue is right there in the title; obviously when Samuel (Pattinson) recruits a supposed parson (co-writer/co-director David Zellner) to help rescue his beloved Penelope (Mia Wasikowska) in a movie called Damsel, there’s probably going to be more going on than, you know, rescuing the damsel and going home. The movie’s twist, of sorts, is less notable for its ribbing of Old West tropes than its commitment to the bit: Once Wasikowska’s character gains some dimension in the back half of the movie, it doesn’t let up its pokes at very male complexes.
Continue reading The Odyssey: Damsel and Izzy Gets the Fuck Across Town