03 January 2018

First Impressions: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

Yes, amidst all the hustle and bustle of the end of the year, with parties and family, and trying to crank out as many last minute end-of-year movie viewings as possible, along with writing all this shit down, I managed to get to the theater and watch one more release before it was all over. No, no, not The Shape of Water (2017). Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017).

Now, I don't know why it wasn't called Welcome 2 the Jungle, or even, Jumanji 2: Wel2ome 2 the 2ungle. I suppose they didn't want to be confused with the Tim Allen movie Jungle 2 Jungle (1997), or they're just all Hollywood and not really wanting to remind folks it's a sequel. Let's talk about this for a bit, now this is not going to be Star Wars-length, because there really isn't much here, but SPOILERS in the following discussion, if you really care enough about this movie. Actually, I could tell you the exact ending (you actually know it already, it's exactly as you picture it) and it wouldn't detract from your enjoyment.

such smoldering intensity
And that's actually an important thing about this movie - it is damn enjoyable. Yeah it's totally predictable and corny and there's no semblance of depth or theme, but it's pretty fun. The cast is having an absolute blast and the chemistry between the Rock and Kevin Hart is dynamite. Jack Black hasn't been this good in years (he's hardly been in anything), and he plays a vapid teenage girl remarkably well. I should probably explain that. Much more on Karen Gillan later.

The movie actually picks up right were Jumanji (1996) left off. For those that forget, Jumanji was about a mysterious jungle game that appears in the 1960s and sucks in little Alan Parrish, which pretty much ruins everyone's lives. Thirty years later he's freed by Kirsten Dunst and pops out as Robin Williams, but they have to finish the game. CGI animal chaos ensues, kind of like a terrifying Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995). Eventually the game is finished and in one of the most fucked up family adventure movie endings ever, everything is reset to 1969 with the kids' memories intact of their future lives. They changed history, man! Especially at the end when Kirsten Dunst and monkey boy show up again, it's so weird and creepy.

Anyway, Robin Williams tried to ditch the game, but it's got a consciousness or something and is also a dick. It quickly finds some other 90s chode to taunt, but since board games are lame, he ignores it. Obviously that's no problem, Jumanji just morphs Bumblebee-style into a kewl modern video game, which then sucks in the player.

This is where the plot diverges, and it does so in a refreshing way. Instead of a retread with the same kind of tropes we see the inverse. The game lies dormant for another twenty years when it's found by a modern-day group of misfits. Each of their four characters are actually well-established, even if they're mostly stock. We know their motivations, their desires, and the conflicts that will arise in their new weird bodies. See, they all get sucked in, but within Jumanji this time they're not just wiener kid Alan Parrish, they're the video game avatars they've chosen. The dweeb becomes the Rock, the jock becomes Kevin Hart, the hot chick becomes Jack Black, and the nerdy chick becomes Karen Gillan.

Now let's spend some time on that. This movie is clearly trying to have its cake and eat it too. Karen Gillan is dressed like a straight Angela Jolie Tomb Raider (Even video game Lara Croft has since been updated to be more practical), and they comment that it's kind of a useless outfit, and she's uncomfortable with how hot she is. But she is soooo hot. The male gaze is clearly still apparent. She could have bought some pants or something in the bazaar once they lampshaded the hotness. It ends up feeling really exploitative. Her failed flirting is one of the funniest scenes in the movie, and if you compare this with her turn as Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) you actually need to respect Gillan's range and the year she had, but it's still awkward here. Then again, so hot. You know they were never going to not showcase hot Karen Gillan.

such...hotness
Morally it's rough water but I'm also horny as hell, so I was able to swing into the fun, still. And the first Jumanji was kind of fun in a madcap David Alan Grier sort of way, but this is just bonkers. Kevin Hart explodes from eating cake! That's the level we're talking about. Of course, that's in the trailer, and the trailers spoil most of the best jokes. What really helped, though, was seeing this in the theater with a five-year old kid in the row in front of me, and I think some intellectually disabled folks, who laughed at every single silly moment. And this movie is surprisingly kid-friendly. It is a little weird that apparently it's totally okay to have Karen Gillan in hot pants for the kids. We need to move on.

Besides the game itself, which transitions to a knock-off SEGA Genesis pretty quickly, there are scant references to the first film. There is exactly one mention of Alan Parrish and we see his tree hideout. Something that lacks is that despite the characters actually dying (they all have three lives - it's a video game!) the land doesn't seem as scary as was hinted at in Jumanji. There just seemed like deep dark danger at every turn - lions and Aubrey II and 19th-Century English hunters at every turn. This Jumanji seems like kind of a cool place to chill out for a bit. Yeah, there's some Jaguars and weird pirate people I guess, but it all feels kind of neutered.

Still, in a movie like this, none of this really matters. The tone, atmosphere, cast chemistry, charisma, and appeal smooths over all the rough patches and delivers a pretty entertaining movie. I'd like to think this could have made more of a cultural impact had it not premiered the week after The Last Jedi (2017), but it's actually done solid business so far. That is of course actually do to the exposure Star Wars gives everybody - drive more people to the theater, see more previews, posters, other flicks. It all works.

One last thing - we said the ending of the original Jumanji was fucked up? Well, this ending is like the same thing but crazy worse. The Rock saves the kid who zapped into Jumanji twenty years ago, and like the first movie, it spits him back to his own time, where he lives his life and grows up to be a metal-loving Colin Hanks for some reason. Then he names his kid after Jack Black's character, who he was totally jonesing on, but she's also now in High School and he's middle-aged, and also not a hairy, overweight man. It's so weird.

Anyway, a solid Two Big Toes up. There's lots of crap here, but overall the movie does what it wants to do.

02 January 2018

2017 Television Watching Review

Yesterday we sank our teeth into every single movie I watched in 2017, but that wasn't all I did. There's also a little thing called Television! Now, I actually gave up any form of TV service in July, but my numbers were surprisingly steady. You mean you don't need cable to watch TV?! Oh my!

You can of course go through everything month-by-month here. Come to think of it, I have no idea why you'd want to. I think next year I'm just going to keep a running tally of each show. I don't care how many months in a row I watched something (although I kind of want to keep track of my 29-month straight streak of watching at least one Simpsons episode).

Anyway, I totaled 786 episodes of 70 distinct shows. Last year I hit 867/81. So, that's kind of a bummer and I'd still like to get to the 1000 mark eventually, but then again - no cable for half the year, and I spent a lot of that time watching movies. Cranking out movies is a little bit more important to me for whatever reason right now.


TitleEpisodesMonths WatchedEpisodes / Month%
The Simpsons105128.813.4%
Arrested Development57414.37.3%
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia5177.36.5%
Marvel Avengers Assemble39313.05.0%
Adventure Time3866.34.8%
South Park37103.74.7%
Seinfeld3393.74.2%
Rick and Morty2993.23.7%
Futurama2793.03.4%
The Flash2382.92.9%
Brooklyn Nine-Nine2063.32.5%
Saturday Night Live1691.82.0%
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt1628.02.0%
The Last Man on Earth1562.51.9%
Justice League Unlimited15115.01.9%
Last Week Tonight14101.41.8%
BoJack Horseman13113.01.7%
One Punch Man12112.01.5%
Over the Garden Wall1125.51.4%
Sense81125.51.4%
New Girl1042.51.3%
Better Call Saul1033.31.3%
Fargo1033.31.3%
The Detour1033.31.3%
Workaholics1033.31.3%
Master of None1025.01.3%
The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story10110.01.3%
Man Seeking Woman933.01.1%
Stranger Things924.51.1%
The Punisher924.51.1%
Mike Tyson Mysteries832.71.0%
Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later818.01.0%
Legion723.50.9%
Zoo717.00.9%
Taboo623.00.8%
Typical Rick616.00.8%
Archer431.30.5%
Documentary Now!422.00.5%
Making History422.00.5%
Justice League414.00.5%
A Young Doctor's Notebook321.50.4%
Black Mirror321.50.4%
Louie321.50.4%
Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee321.50.4%
Ash vs. Evil Dead313.00.4%
Community313.00.4%
Nathan for You313.00.4%
Review313.00.4%
Conan221.00.3%
The Venture Bros221.00.3%
The Eric Andre Show212.00.3%
30 for 30: This Was the XFL111.00.1%
All Hail King Julien111.00.1%
Broad City111.00.1%
Chappelle's Show111.00.1%
Dave Chappelle: Age of Spin111.00.1%
Dave Chappelle: In the Heart of Texas111.00.1%
Jerry Before Seinfeld111.00.1%
Jimmy Kimmel Live!111.00.1%
Metalocalpyse111.00.1%
Mickey Mouse Clubhouse111.00.1%
Moral Orel111.00.1%
Norm MacDonald: Hitler's Dog, Gossip, and Trickery111.00.1%
Parks and Recreation111.00.1%
Party Down111.00.1%
The Bachelor111.00.1%
The David S. Pumpkins Animated Halloween Special111.00.1%
The Problem with Apu111.00.1%
Tim and Eric's Bedtime Stories111.00.1%
Veep111.00.1%

None of this is too surprising. Netflix-streaming options dominated. I kind of like The Simpsons, although I hit 222 episodes last year, which is insane. That was really bolstered by having FXX, which would play like eight episodes a night four nights a week. That was it, just plop down and crank that out. This year, unbelievably was a lot of old DVD use. Yes, we're regressing.

And a lot of cartoons. So many damn cartoons. While The Simpsons was down, that allowed other shows to be a little more potent. No show last year other than the residents of Springfield cracked the 50-episode mark and only four were above thirty. This year we had seven. That order was mixed up a bit, with Arrested Development and Always Sunny coming in hot (they finished 41st and 13th last year respectively). That makes sense, though - I binge seasons based on a cycle. Simpsons and South Park tend to be consistent, but I'll crank out an old season every once in a while.

Keep an eye on 2018. What does your list look like?

01 January 2018

2017 Movie Watching Review

Here we go, baby!

I know you've been waiting all year for this. Well, I definitely have. It's time to add up what the hell I watched in 2017. The build-up is incredible. I've put together a formidable list, but it's time to do some hearty analysis.

First off, plain and simple, I managed to watch 224 movies this year. This is barely up from the 220 I watched in 2016, but still trending up from the 198 in 2015. I really can't believe it was that close. Apparently I top off at around 220-ish flicks. That's a movie every 1.6 days, which is about right.

My repeat movies were really down. I only saw two films twice: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017) and The Interview (2014). So that's 222 unique films.

Of these 222 movies, I watched 133 for the first time, or 60%, way up from last year's 53%.

Let's start this year breaking it up by medium:

MEDIA:
-->
MethodNumberPercentage
Digital Download20.89%
DVD177.59%
Google Play10.45%
Hulu10.45%
Illegal Download10.45%
Netflix DVD5725.45%
Netflix Streaming7433.04%
Theater125.36%
TV5524.55%
YouTube41.79%

Last year my Netflix Streaming was at a paltry 22.7%, so that's clearly the biggest jump. My TV watching has gone down the most (38% to 24.55%), likely due to the fact that I gave up cable in July. I can't help but think these are the trends. Surprisingly I was at 8% DVD last year, which is dead on. I watched one more film in theaters this year than last year, but similar percentages.

Of the 55 films I watched on Television, here is my channel breakdown:

-->
ChannelNumberPercentage
AMC47.27%
Bravo23.64%
Cartoon Network11.82%
Comedy Central47.27%
ESPN11.82%
Freeform11.82%
FX1018.18%
FXX23.64%
Nicktoons11.82%
HBO23.64%
MTV11.82%
Showtime11.82%
Spike47.27%
Starz23.64%
SyFy1018.18%
TBS47.27%
TNT35.45%
Vh123.64%

Besides SyFy and FX, which clearly kills it, this is pretty spread out. The next highest percentage is 7% from TBS, Comedy Central, Spike, and AMC, but that's only a difference of one or two films from the bottom. This is the same as last year, although the polarization was even more dominating. And yes, I watched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) on Nicktoons. It...does not hold up.

YEARS:

I always want to get my years up. Obviously, when Netflix Streaming is 33% of my consumption, that makes it tough. I'd like to have a goal next year of diversifying my media. I'd also like a goal of getting at least one film from each year, from about the 70s on. This year I astoundingly missed '71, '72, '75, '78, '79, '80, '86, '91, and '93. How did I miss 1993?! I'm watching Jurassic Park (1993) as soon as I can. But anyway, here's how that shakes out:

-->
YearNumberPercentage
193110.45%
193510.45%
196010.45%
196110.45%
197010.45%
197310.45%
197420.89%
197610.45%
197710.45%
198120.89%
198220.89%
198310.45%
198431.34%
198510.45%
198720.89%
198810.45%
198910.45%
199010.45%
199220.89%
199420.89%
199541.79%
199620.89%
199720.89%
199841.79%
199931.34%
200052.23%
200152.23%
200262.68%
200341.79%
200431.34%
200541.79%
200694.02%
200762.68%
200831.34%
200994.02%
201062.68%
201183.57%
2012104.46%
201383.57%
2014125.36%
2015156.70%
20162912.95%
20173917.41%

The past decade is obviously the most well-represented, with the top five coming from the last six years (2012 over 2013). I'm not too bummed about this, but again, it'd behoove me to watch older shit. Here's the breakdown by decade:

-->
DecadeNumberPercentage
1930s20.89%
1960s20.89%
1970s62.68%
1980s135.80%
1990s208.93%
2000s5424.11%
2010s12756.70%

Alright, now for some amazing year-to-year stats. In 2016 I watched 15.9% from the current year, so we're a bit higher. The most recent year that I didn't see a movie from was 1982, so that's not great. I actually only saw 12% from the 2000s, so I doubled that. I had much more 90s and 80s flicks (15% and 8% respectively). But I was 58% 2010s at...wait for it...127! Yes, I saw the same number of films from this current decade. I don't know how this happened.

So, superlatives:

Oldest film: Frankenstein (1931)
Most Recent film: Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (12/20/17).

Yeah, that's not great.

Okay, here's some more.

Breakdown by Month:

-->
January22
April22
September20
December20
May19
October19
August18
November18
June18
July17
February17
March14
Average18.67

There's almost no consistency year to year except for January being heavy and February being light. I dunno.

Let's end with films I've seen year-to-year:

-->
2017 and 20162017 and 2015all three
BridesmaidsStar Wars VII: The Force AwakensFast & Furious 6
A Christmas StoryBad Boys IIThe Interview
Beverly Hills Cop IIFast & Furious
Rogue One: A Star Wars StoryFrozen
Step BrothersGangs of New York
Suicide SquadLucy
The LEGO MovieMad Max Fury Road
That's My Boy!
The Fast and the Furious
The Matrix
The Replacements

I don't think I'll keep going back and forth, like in 2018 I'm not going to compare to 2015, that will get out of control. But it IS interesting to note how 2017 has more in common with 2015 than last year. Maybe that's not surprising. More time between movies makes more sense. However, there is no excuse for watching Fast & Furious 6 (2013) three years in a row. I also...apparently really like The Interview. For those keeping track, yes, I watched it twice this year, which makes it four times in three years, more than any other film. I'll admit it's become somewhat of a go-to for me when I don't know what else to do, or if I'm real drunk. I also own it on YouTube, which makes it easy to cast in weird places.

I also want to note that I watched Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) twice last year, and its sequel twice this year. I dig it, I guess.

So, that's it. Now 2018 is upon us. Just imagine next year, when you have more stats to look forward to! For now, we're back to square one. Blank slate. Time to start over. What might we have in store this year? Stay tuned to find out!
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