Category Archives: Movies

How to Train Your Dragon 3, Lego Movie 2, and kid movies that won’t grow up

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Given the logistical undertaking of making a movie franchise out of big-studio animation, it must be a blessed relief not to have to include live-action performers in the mix. Voice actors can often fit their performances into packed schedules, they can change their appearance without affecting production, they can let natural aging take its course—and if the studio’s hand is forced, they can be replaced with minimal fuss.

It’s notable, then, that the sequels to the 2010 film How to Train Your Dragon have decided not to take advantage of the medium’s potential for eternal youth. The first movie is about a Viking teenager’s bond with the dragon he’s supposed to be hunting; in the sequels, released in 2014 and now in 2019, the boy ages more or less in parallel with the passage of real-world time. He’s taller and more assured in How to Train Your Dragon 2, and in The Hidden World he’s old enough to lead his tribe and think about getting married. Another recent (mostly) animated sequel aimed at kids, The Lego Movie 2, also works the passage of five years into its storyline. The walking, talking Lego minifigs who populate the movie don’t suffer much wear and tear, but in the movie’s parallel live-action storyline, the boy from the first movie is now approaching teen-hood—and his shifting interests are an engine of the sequel’s plot.
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The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: The Best Movies of 2018

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Now that you’ve read our list of the best movies of 2018 (right? right??), it’s time to hear us justify our choices! Marisa, Sara, Nathaniel, and Jesse got together to count down our list, talk about our choices, where we were unanimous, where we disagreed, and what outlier picks we wish everyone else as much. It’s a brisk overview of an unusually strong year in film, so go ahead and listen in and figure out what the deal with this Stalin guy is.

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The Best Movies of 2018

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Our list of the best movies of 2018 didn’t have to be 15 titles. It could have been 20, or 25, or 30, because all four of the core SportsAlcohol.com movie-watchers had plenty of choices for our individual lists from a year with no shortage of smart, entertaining, galvanizing, beautiful, traumatizing, exciting, and otherwise distinctive 2018 releases. But these choices for the 15 best movies of 2018 are the ones that found a kinda-sorta consensus among the four of us. They aren’t all on every list, but they’re still the 2018 movies that some portion of us, occasionally of us, bonded over in some way. So grab a friend and check out these particularly unifying pictures.
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Sorry, Pop Fans: ‘A Star Is Born’ Thinks Ally’s ‘Why Did You Do That?’ Is Bad

Gripes

Marisa

There are contrarians, there are iconoclasts, and then there is SportsAlcohol.com co-founder Marisa. A contraiclast? Her favorite Springsteen album came out this century, so she is basically a controversy machine.

Also, she is totally not a dude!
Marisa
Gripes

I feel like I have to correct the record on something. Ever since A Star Is Born came out, there’s been a lot of analysis about the soundtrack, especially one song on it in particular: “Why Did You Do That?”

“Why Did You Do That?” is the song that a post-fame, pop-repackaged Ally performs on Saturday Night Live. A sampling of its lyrics: “Why do you look so good in those jeans? Why’d you come around me with an ass like that? You’re makin’ all my thoughts obscene.” Later, Jack derides her for these words.

The analysis I’ve seen around the song usually takes the form of two questions: 1) Is “Why Did You Do That” a bad song outside of the universe of the movie? 2) Within the world of the movie, does the movie believe it’s a bad song, or is it just Jack who doesn’t like it? The first question can’t have one definitive response. Either that type of music works for you, or it doesn’t and that’s fine.

But the second question has a concrete answer, and yet the conclusion I arrived at isn’t really the one drawn unanimously, much to my confusion. But  A Star Is Born really, truly thinks that “Why Did You Do That?” is bad. My proof:

It’s So Different From Ally’s Other Songs

Ally is so talented that Jackson can’t help but be taken in by her. He falls in love with her through her songwriting. But “Why Did You Do That?” sounds nothing like the tunes that kick-started their romance. Before her big pop-career launch, even the catchier songs she wrote, like “Look What I Found” (which I personally like a lot better than “Why Did You Do That?”), come rooted in a much more singer/songwritery place. If we’re supposed to believe in the transformative power of Ally and Jack’s love, and they express that feeling through music, how are we supposed to see the change in her sound as anything but a betrayal of that love?

She Refuses the Dancers

Okay, artists evolve. Things change. If you believe A Star Is Born is about Jackson’s desire to manage Ally’s artistic work and stifle her creativity, I think that’s a truly cynical reading of the movie, but you can read his dismissal of “Why Did You Do That?” through that lens. But my big question to you: Why did she refuse to have backup dancers at her first performance? 

The answer is she turned the dancers away because that’s not how she sees herself as an artist. This, to me, is the biggest clue into what Ally thinks of her pop image. If those songs truly came from her developing sense of self, she  would’ve embraced the dancers at her debut and in her SNL performance. Instead, she said she didn’t think she needed them.

And Jack had nothing to do with that. She doesn’t get rid of them because she’s afraid Jack won’t like it. It’s because, in her heart, she knows she’s a songwriter and  not a pop product.

Diane Warren Co-Wrote It

Actually, this probably runs counter to my point. Warren has written some of the most successful songs ever.

Jackson Hates It

This is where we veer into a bit of subjectivity: If the hero of our romantic story says mean things about the song, does that look bad for him, or for the song? This time, I think it’s both. His criticisms come at a point in the movie where it’s clear he’s on a downslide, and could potentially take Ally down with him. But he’s also heralded by the movie as a musical genius, and he knows what he’s talking about.

For what it’s worth, I think this is a departure from the other versions of A Star Is Born. (The biggest departure after changing her name from Esther Blodgett, which I’m gutted they did. Esther 4-Eva!) You’re supposed to think Judy Garland is an acting tour de force. You’re supposed to think Barbra Streisand is a consummate performer. I don’t think you’re supposed to think Janet Gaynor is untalented. James Mason, Kris Kristofferson, and Fredric March never impugn Esther’s talent. I kind of like that Bradley Cooper does.

You Only Get a Sideways Glance at It

When Ally does perform “Why Did You Do That?” on Saturday Night Live — with dancers — the performance isn’t really the focus of the scene. It’s something happening in the background. If A Star Is Born was really behind this evolution in Ally’s career, and really thought the audience should consider it an unambiguously good song,  it would’ve had a moment as powerful as “The Shallow.”

There is no moment for “Why Did You Do That?” The movie doesn’t want you to consider it a triumph. Whether you do or not is up to you, but the movie’s thoughts on it are pretty clear to me.

The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Spider-Man Movies, Ranked

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Longtime readers and listeners of the SportsAlcohol.com World Wide Web Brand may have noticed that we kinda dig on Spider-Man. In fact, one of our most popular pieces ever, and the site of our only (so far) bona fide comment war is about Spider-Man 3; our first-ever podcast episode was about The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and we’ve recorded on related films since then; Rob has written about Betty Brant while Marisa has written about the songs of Spider-Man.

So yeah, we dig on this.

To celebrate the release of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, we did something different: Marisa, Rob, and Jesse threw together a straw poll to rank out every major Spider-Man and Spider-Man-adjacent movie of the past 20 years. That’s right: In this podcast, we talk about them all. The animated highs! The amazing lows! The venomous middles! It’s all here, in a compact hour-long episode with multiple post-credit scenes! Basically, it’s a Spider-Man extravaganza for our new age of superhero abundance. It’s the next best thing to what I know you’ve all been craving: PICTURES OF SPIDER-MAN. While you wait for your photographer to come back with those, have a listen to us!

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The SportsAlcohol.com MiniPodcast: Second Act

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Typically, the SportsAlcohol.com podcast does overviews: of directors, of stars, of full TV seasons, of a year or decade’s worth of pop culture. But as part of our miniseries look at business movies, Jesse and Ben decided to rush into the studio right after watching a screening of the new Jennifer Lopez movie Second Act and discuss it, just like we discussed Pretty Woman and The Secret of My Success, among others. Only this time, there’s no science fiction… except that which this Jennifer Lopez vehicle provides.

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The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Creed II and the Rocky Series

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

The Rocky series was unexpectedly revived in 2015 with the release of Ryan Coogler’s terrific movie Creed, which was followed last month by the sequel Creed II. Nathaniel, a lifelong Rocky fan, and Jesse, a relative newbie, both saw the new Creed movie and got together to discuss the latest sequel and how it fits into the Rocky series in general, as well as the often-confounding career of one Mr. Sylvester Stallone. Our Rocky podcast has several FLAMING HOT TAKES, including our weirdly mutual opinion of certain internet-beloved Rocky sequels as well as certain universally reviled Rocky sequels.

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The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts, and the Wizarding World

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

The new Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald opened this past weekend, with a critical/fan reception prompting some questions about the state of the Wizarding World. Marisa, Jesse, and Nathaniel all saw the new movie and formed some podcast-ready thoughts about what this Fantastic Beasts series is doing wrong, what it’s doing right (?!), and how a Potter spinoff works (or doesn’t) at all. Accio hot takes?!

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Widows cooks like a heist picture and sprawls like an epic drama

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

In the Saturday Night Live-based comedy MacGruber, Will Forte’s would-be action her assembles a kickass team of he-men during a stirring montage, packs them into a truck for a mission, and accidentally blows them all to hell. That’s not exactly what happens at the opening of Steve McQueen’s Widows, and probably drawing the comparison is a little bit insulting. But hear me out: McQueen dispatches an entire B-movie’s worth of tough guys with similar (if non-comic) efficiency, and precision-cut style. He toggles between a man and wife nuzzling in bed together and a brutal robbery turned car chase turned armed showdown. Back and forth it goes, quiet and loud, until the crew (including Liam Neeson and Jon Bernthal) is consumed in an explosion and, in the final pre-title image, the pillow next to Veronica (Viola Davis) lingers, empty. Her husband Harry (Neeson) isn’t coming back.
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The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Indie Movies of Summer 2018

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

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 woman 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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