Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

By: Kevin Jordan

The best animated feature of the year?

I was not planning on going to see Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.  I assumed it was going to be a throw-away film aimed specifically at comic book nerds to make an easy buck.  Then, my wife asked if I was taking our six-year old son and, before I could answer, he said “it has Peter Porker in it.”  Well, that answered that question and I found myself sitting next to my son at the theater, waiting to watch a movie and I only had a passing interest in.  After sitting through it, I can say that either it was a really good film or I am secretly a comic book nerd.  Fun fact: I have never purchased a comic book in my life.

As usual, my opinion barely matters when it comes to animated films, so, as usual, here is what the intended audience, my son, thought of the film.

(Side note: This film was really, really good.  Far better than I was expecting.  Deep characters, extremely witty, and motivations both interesting and profound.)

How did you like Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse?

Like, all the funny parts were really funny.  The only part that wasn’t funny was none of the movie.

What was the funniest part of the movie?

The funniest part about the movie was when Miles fell off the building.

Spider-Man wearing sweat pants is pretty funny too.

Who is Miles?

You know.  The kid.  Miles is the kid.

Is Miles the main character?

No.  Peter Parker is because he’s Spider-Man.

Okay.  So tell me more about Miles.

I liked both of his suits.  The normal one; the red one.  And the black one.

Was Miles also Spider-Man.

Yeah.  Yeah.  I like that term – multiple Spider-Mans and Spider-Womans.

Were there more than two Spider-Mans?

Yes.  The coolest Spider-Man was the black Spider-Man with the black hat.  The thief Spider-Man.  Because he looked like a thief.

You mean Spider-Man Noir.

Yeah.  He took the Rubik’s Cube.

What other Spider-Mans were there?

There was the little kid Spider-Woman with the big giant robot that was her best friend.

Okay.  Any other ones?

The white Spider-Woman.  She was really, really, really, really, really beautiful.

She was also kind of awesome in fights, huh?

Yeah!

Weren’t there two other Spider-Mans?

Yeah.  There was a cartoon pig who said “I washed my hands.  That’s why my hands are wet.”  And I like how at the end when he was laying down and the pig said “phbtbbtbtb – did that feel like a cartoon?”

Very diverse. And funny.

That was Spider-Ham?

Yes.  Spider-Ham.  And the last one was older Spider-Man with a bigger belly.  I also liked at the beginning when Miles accidentally fell into Peter Parker’s grave stone because I thought it was really funny.

Why did you think it was funny?

Because the camera was going right into the grave stone and I think maybe it cracked or broke apart.  Because you didn’t see what happened.  That’s all.

Okay.  What was the movie about?

Multiple Spider-Mans fighting.

Why were they fighting?  Or who were they fighting?

Liv.

Who is Liv?

That scientist that had the big claw-y, big tentacle arms.  Remember that part?  She chokes people by that?  (Waving his arms around)

I do remember.  She was also called Doc Oc, right?

Yeeessss.

What was Doc trying to do that the Spider-People were trying to stop her?

I don’t know.  I forgot.

It was hard enough remembering six different Spider-Persons.

Do you remember the big machine they were trying to turn off?

Yes.  It like blasted things together and made another dimension.

Why was she trying to make another dimension?  Was there someone else she was trying to help?

Kingpin was trying to get his family back.

Wow.  That sounds pretty serious.  Was it okay to have serious and funny?

Yeah.

Did you like it?

Yeah.  It was really, really funny.  Also, I liked when Miles did all the stuff and it was on the magazine.  I like the picture with all the words and they traced him on the wall in the sewer.

If another kid asked you if they should go see it, what is one thing you would tell them about the movie?

It’s a scary movie.  Because you said “It” and “It” was a scary movie.  (Rimshot)

That’s all folks!

Rating: It is greater than what you paid for it.

Bad Moms

By: Kevin Jordan Molli Jordan

We interrupt this programming to bring you a special message.

bad_moms poster

Over the past couple of years, women’s equality has been a major topic of discussion, especially in the entertainment industry.  Equal pay and lack of female leads have been two prominent issues in the film industry.  Then there’s GamerGate in the video game industry.  (If you haven’t heard of GamerGate, I’m not even sure you should go look it up.  I’ve read a bunch of stuff and I still don’t fully understand it.  It’s a combination of misogynistic assholes, corrupt game journalists, and extremist feminists all accusing each other of being terrible people…I think.)  Most recently, we’ve had to put up with the asinine narrative surrounding the Ghostbusters remake, in which Sony and many media outlets accused anyone not liking the film of being sexist because a handful of actual sexists started trolling the film when it was announced that the Ghostbusters would all have vaginas.  I have no idea why the sexists had to be such raging dicks about Ghostbusters (other than because they actually are raging dicks) because the women spend a good portion of the movie waving phalluses around.  I also don’t know why pro-women’s movement people would defend Ghostbusters for the same reason – giving a woman a fake dick doesn’t make them equal to men (also, it’s an atrocious movie).  Luckily, after two years of people getting all wound up over the wrong things, we finally have an example in film that actually is pro-women without pandering, lying, or making them drive giant penis-shaped trucks (sorry Furiosa) – Bad Moms.

The genius of Bad Moms is that it isn’t just a movie to empower women, though it primarily is that.  If you’re the kind of guy who doesn’t understand deadbeat dads or men that refuse to change diapers, this movie is for you as well…but in a whole different way.

[Jostling at the computer…wife cuts in.]

Whoa, whoa, whoa.  Does anyone else see the irony in a man reviewing a movie, and talking about how it empowers women?

I read and edit all of the Number-9 movie reviews, and he tends to ramble.  Let’s just get to the point.

He’s not wrong.  Bad Moms is a great pro-woman, pro-mom movie.  It offers a wonderful peek into how moms often get the short end of the stick.  And I don’t mean from men, and I don’t even mean the dirty-diaper-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-clean-barf-off-my-shirt end of the stick.  I mean the pressure to simply do a good job.  Books tell you that you suck (“don’t drink caffeine while you’re pregnant, or your baby might have eleven toes”).  Articles tell you that you suck (“14 alternatives to watching TV this summer”).  Pinterest tells you that you suck (“77 bento box lunches that don’t include sandwiches”).  And other moms might not tell you to your face that you suck, but they’re sure as hell thinking it.  Being a mom can often feel like you’re doomed to fail, even when you’re doing the best you can.

Don't be these moms.

Don’t be these moms.

Bad Moms walks right up to those books and articles and people…and flicks them all in the nipple.

Or we do this.

Or we do this.

Bad Moms is realistically empowering.  This is key.  Empowering a female character does NOT mean dropping her into an established male role, handing her a penis-like weapon so she can shoot stuff, while her impossibly stupid, male secretary cowers in the corner.  Empowering a female character is building up her power IN THE SPACE SHE ALREADY OCCUPIES.  Ghostbusting is not relatable.  Tearing down entitled, insensitive men is funny the first couple of times (I will admit), but still does not drive home the point.  ….But a female character showing up at a 3-hour PTA meeting about food allergens in the bake sale on a Friday night with food spilled on her blazer, resulting in a mental breakdown and a wine binge….now THAT’s relatable.

Catharsis.

Catharsis.

Not to mention, Bad Moms is funny.  Fuuuuuuunny.  If you don’t laugh during this movie, then you’re probably the author of those condescending Pinterest articles.

I drank Diet Cherry Pepsi while pregnant.  My kid watched non-stop Paw Patrol all weekend.  And his lunches this week included cheese sticks and Fig Newtons.  ….I’m often just doing the best I can.  And my family is going to be juuuuust fine.  Including my husband, who (thank the Lord) is NOT a nincompoop.

Rating – Two enthusiastic tits up.  Because I actually put on a bra today.

The Visit

By: Kevin Jordan

The rules are…there are no rules.

THE VISIT Color Art

As you can see from the movie poster (and which are verbalized in the previews), The Visit has some ground rules and the third is the one that is the most heavily emphasized.  If you are foolish enough to sit through another M. Night Shyamalan movie, know that you can ignore those rules because Shyamalan definitely did.  You should also know that Shyamalan has fallen so far from the graces of Hollywood that he is now making found-footage flicks on shoestring budgets ($5 million), which is the nicest way to describe The Visit.  The meanest way to describe it is that it is, like one of its props, a pile of shit (seriously, there are two scenes in the movie featuring poop).

(Massive SPOILERS coming, including Shyamalan’s patented twist because you should definitely not waste your time and money to see this movie.)

The premise of the movie is simple – mom (Kathryn Hahn) sends her two teenage children, Rebecca and Tyler (Olivia De Jonge and Ed Oxenbould, respectively) to spend a week with her parents, their grandparents.  Something is off with the grandparents, highlighted by grandpa (Peter McRobbie) telling them that bedtime is 9:30 and they aren’t allowed in the basement because it’s moldy, and since this is a horror movie, the questions are (1) what is wrong with the grandparents, (2) how long before we see what’s in the basement, and (3) will the children survive the week?  The problem is that in order for the twist to work, there have to be massive plot holes.

To begin with, mom and her parents are not on good terms.  In fact, they haven’t spoken in fifteen years.  So, it makes perfect sense that she would send her children to stay with people the kids have never met and whom she doesn’t like.  And it also makes perfect sense that she wouldn’t even go with the kids, but rather puts them on a train heading for the Pennsylvania countryside.  I mean, what teenage children wouldn’t want to hang out with two really old strangers in the middle of nowhere for a week and not even have their only parent facilitate the introduction?  But it’s all okay because Rebecca is going to make a documentary in the hopes of helping the adults reconcile and Tyler is going to be there too.  And don’t worry about the kids being shy around two total strangers – when they meet, the kids immediately refer to them as Nana and Pop-Pop (yes, this actually happened).

(Note: I refuse to use those names for the grandparents throughout my review because it was arguably the worst thing in a screenplay that also involved poopy diapers and vomiting.)

For the first day, everything seems normal.  Grandma (Deanna Dunagan) makes food, the kids get settled in, and when it’s time for bed, grandpa tells the kids that bedtime is 9:30 because he and grandma are old.  Seriously, that’s what he says.  No ominous warning like the movie poster and trailer say, just “we’re old.”  Because this is a clichéd horror movie and Shyamalan blew his writing wad with The Sixth Sense (fine, I‘ll give you Unbreakable – let it go already), there is absolutely no chance the kids will stay in their room for even one night.  Just once, wouldn’t it be nice if the warning were heeded in this type of movie?  Rather than have the kids immediately do what they shouldn’t do (like every scary movie ever made), wake them up with sounds coming from the house and let them explore the next night (after more sounds) after finding signs of weirdness in the house during the day.  Instead, Shyamalan chose to have Rebecca leave the room and walk to the top of the stairs, where she sees grandma puking her way across the landing.

The next three days are basically all the same.  The kids discover more weird behavior, but the grandparents explain it all away as “we’re old.”  And the problem is that they are right.  Yes, grandma moves a little fast on all fours (she does a lot of crawling around), but everything else that is happening can definitely be attributed to senility and advanced age.  Grandma loses her clothes more than once and laughs at the wall while grandpa wears adult diapers and keeps dressing up for a costume party from the past.  If anything, this movie is a sad comedy about two kids stuck with crazy old coots rather than a horror flick.  And, yes, that turns out to be half the twist (and the extremely predictable half) – the grandparents are crazy.

By the fourth night, the film finally starts to escalate the tension when grandma discovers the kids’ hidden camera in the living room and slams into their bedroom door while wielding a carving knife.  Unfortunately, the film takes nearly its entire running time to escalate to something beyond kooky, so by this point you will be thoroughly bored.  The final morning of the trip, the kids are Skype-ing with mom and they tell her to come get them.  They aim the laptop camera at the grandparents and the other half of the twist is revealed – (one more time…SPOILER ALERT) – they aren’t mom’s parents.  Now that that’s out of the way, the film goes into full-blown stupid horror movie clichés, such as…

  • Rebecca leaves Tyler alone with the grandparents.
  • Rebecca decides to investigate the basement – by herself.
  • Rebecca discovers that the fake grandparents are escaped mental patients, and also discovers the dead bodies of her actual grandparents.
  • While locked in a dark room with grandma, Rebecca keeps moving the light off of grandma, even though grandma appears to be paralyzed when the light is on her.
  • Both kids refuse to pick up weapons during the battle with the grandparents (we literally see fire pokers and cast-iron skillets), choosing to tackle and jump on them instead.
  • Rebecca did pick up a weapon – a shard of broken glass from a mirror, but decided not to keep it when she attacks grandpa.
  • (Is it just me, or is Rebecca awfully stupid for a character portrayed as a super-brainy film nerd?)
  • The kids overcome ridiculously specific issues (Rebecca won’t look in mirrors and Tyler freezes up during football games) to defeat the grandparents.
  • Cops don’t show up until three seconds after the kids have dispatched with the grandparents even though they alerted their mom to the issue that morning.

To be fair, my immediate reaction to the film upon leaving the theater was that it was really boring, but not Shyamalan’s worst film.  But on the drive home, my friend and I went from thinking it was merely a waste of time to a wretched piece of crap.  Now that you know the twist, you can see how enormous a plot hole the premise itself presents and it led use to realize even more plot holes, like…

  • Why is nobody in town searching for two escaped mental patients who killed their own children decades earlier?
  • Why doesn’t mom tell the kids to just run from the house?
  • Why does Rebecca wait three days to clean the food off the laptop camera that grandma “accidentally” put there?
  • Wait – grandma was savvy enough to block one camera and find another, but not savvy enough to cut the Internet cable in the house?
  • Wouldn’t the kids be able to smell the bodies of two corpses that have been rotting for at least a week?
  • And my personal favorite – what kind of terrible mom sends her children to meet two strangers and doesn’t bother to show them a picture of the people they are supposed to be looking for when they get off the train?

So, yes, The Visit is a giant, boring, steaming pile of Shyamalan.  It has terrible pacing, the twist is completely unnecessary, it relies on predictable jump-scare tactics to make sure the audience hasn’t fallen into a coma, and doesn’t even bother to follow its own rules.  In other words, it’s exactly what we’ve come to expect from M. Night.

Rating: Haha, good one.