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Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp is a 2015 Netflix original series and a prequel to the 2001 cult classic film Wet Hot American Summer. Don’t watch the show unless you’ve seen the movie. The movie is required viewing. You won’t pick up on half the jokes and you won’t appreciate it as much if you haven’t seen the movie already. The movie is an absurd comedy about the last day at a summer camp. The humor is not for everybody but you will love it if you can open your mind a little.

The movie has a large ensemble cast featuring Janeane Garofalo, Paul Rudd, Molly Shannon, Elizabeth Banks, Amy Poehler, David Hyde Pierce, Bradley Cooper, Christopher Meloni, Michael Showalter, Michael Ian Black, A.D. Miles, Zak Orth, Ken Marino, Joe Lo Truglio, Marguerite Moreau, H. Jon Benjamin, and Judah Friedlander and they all came back for the prequel series. The film is about the last day of camp and the show is about the first day of camp. All the actors are playing three-month younger versions of their characters despite everyone being fifteen years older in real life. If you thought it was funny watching twenty-year olds pretending to be teenagers, wait until you see forty-year olds pretending to be teenagers.

There are eight episodes, each about a half hour long, and each one is about a certain time of day: Campers Arrive, Lunch, Activities, Auditions, Dinner, Electro/City, Staff Party, and Day Is Done. All the episodes were directed by David Wain, who also directed the movie and co-wrote both projects with Michael Showalter. The end result is a TV show that feels like a really long movie. It’s very easy to binge watch and you probably will end up binge watching it. It’s hilarious, filled with jokes and gags from beginning to end. The style of humor is very diverse. It’s slapstick, it’s witty, it’s brash, and it’s subtle. It warrants repeat viewings. I just finished the series and can’t wait to watch it again.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Anchorman2: The Legend Continues is the 2013 sequel to Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Adam McKay returns as director and Will Ferrell, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, and Christina Applegate all reprise their roles. It’s not as funny as the first one, and honestly there’s no way that it ever could have been better. The first one is a classic. This one is just a sequel. It has its moments, but it’s not as quotable and some of the jokes seem forced (like not understanding how cruise control works, what a tired gag). The movie tries too hard to be funny. They resort to recycling or paying homage to jokes from the first film, and they trot out celebrity cameos like it’s going out of style.

It spoofs the rise of 24-hour cable news networks that deliver more entertainment than actual news. There might not be much of a message, but there is a message: don’t be duped by sensationalist newscasts. Will Ferrell’s character is still funny. Paul Rudd and David Koechner’s characters are still funny. But Steve Carell’s Brick Tamland is a black hole. His character had some decent moments in the original movie, but he drags down the sequel. Ron Burgundy, Brian Fantana, and Champ Kind are all unintelligent characters because they have big egos and stubborn personalities. Brick Tamland is an unintelligent character because he is mentally handicapped. Steve Carell plays him as a retard and that’s lazy. And his whole romantic subplot with Kristen Wiig was downright stupid and unnecessary. Cool, lets hook up a retard with another retard and let hilarity ensue.

Did I enjoy this movie? Yeah, a little bit. I would only recommend it if you liked the first one. It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s not a rehash of the first one like The Hangover Part II. It’s not hard for a sequel to be better than The Hangover Part II though.

Critically Rated at 11/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Wet Hot American Summer

Wet Hot American Summer is a 2001 comedy about the last day of summer at the fictional Camp Firewood. It’s not just a comedy; it’s completely off the wall and ridiculous. It’s more like Airplane! than most comedy films that come out. It’s packed with jokes, one-liners, and sight gags. It has a pretty solid cast featuring Michael Showalter, David Hyde Pierce, Bradley Cooper, Janeane Garofalo, Elizabeth Banks, Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Michael Ian Black, Molly Shannon, and more. The movie was a flop when it came out but it’s become a cult classic in the years since.

There’s a plot, albeit a nonsensical one. It’s the last day of camp and the big talent show is tonight. Coop has a crush on Katie, but she’s in a relationship with the douchey Andy. Camp director Beth has a mutual crush on Associate Professor Henry Newman, but they are both too awkward to act on it. And to make things more complicated, Henry has detected a piece of NASA’s Skylab has broken off and is heading directly for the camp and he must find a way to stop the disaster. Even though the film takes place in one day, there’s no way that all the things that happen in the movie could happen in one day. It’s like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off but they acknowledge the fact that it’s impossible and have fun with it, like the scene where the camp counselors go into town and have a crazy drug-fueled montage and return to camp an hour later.

This movie is the smart kind of stupid. And it’s not for everyone. Watch it for ten minutes and give it time to settle in. If you don’t like it by then, stop watching it. But if you manage to make it through the whole movie, it will become one of your favorite comedies. Well, it should be at least. You might have awful taste in movies.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story is a Judd Apatow comedy about a fictional singer named Dewey Cox. John C. Reilly plays Dewey Cox, a gifted but dimwitted musician trying to create his masterpiece, a song that sums up everything he’s learned about life. It’s pretty much a direct parody of Walk the Line, but it also spoofs biopics in general.

Walk Hard begins with little Dewey Cox accidently cutting his brother in half, and his father spends the next few years reminding him that “the wrong kid died.” This childhood trauma propels Dewey’s desire to prove that he’s worth something and win his father’s approval. He’s a natural at the guitar and soon begins his rise to the top. The film follows Dewey’s life as a rockstar: meeting women, having kids, doing drugs, going to rehab, changing his sound to reflect the current decade, all that fun stuff.

The humor is not for everyone. I know people who can’t make it five minutes into the film without turning it off. Personally, I think it’s one of the funniest movies of the last ten years. There are a lot of absurd moments and intentionally horrible casting, but John C. Reilly is able to make Dewey seem like a real person. His lyrics might be stupid, but to him they’re sincere and more importantly they are consistent to his character. He’s a poet who uses terrible metaphors and believes in what he thinks he knows. And John C. Reilly actually sang all his songs.

There’s a great supporting cast and tons of cameos: Jenna Fischer, Kristen Wiig, Tim Meadows, Craig Robinson, Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, Jack Black, Justin Long, David Schwartzman, Frankie Muniz, Jack White, Eddie Vedder, the Temptations… the list goes on and on. I like this movie a lot. I still quote this movie more than I should. And I also bought the soundtrack. The iTunes exclusive extended edition in fact. I don’t regret it.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Will Ferrell makes Will Ferrell movies, and Anchorman is his best. Adam McKay (Talladega Nights, Eastbound & Down) directs and co-wrote the script with Will Ferrell, who stars as stars as Ron Burgundy, the best anchorman in San Diego. Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, and Christina Applegate costar, and Judd Apatow produces.

Ron Burgundy is the best damn anchorman in San Diego. He’s number one and isn’t afraid to let everyone know it. His Channel 4 News team is made up of meteorologist Brick Tamland (Steve Carell), sportscaster Champ Kind (David Koechner), and field reporter Brian Fontana (Paul Rudd). Brick is legally retarded, Champ has man crush on Ron Burgundy, and Brian fancies himself a ladies man, but doesn’t have much luck. It’s a happier and lighter style of reporting, showcased by the ongoing reports on Ling-Wong the pregnant panda.

Things are going great for a while, but it’s the ‘70s and times are changing. Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) is the first female reporter hired at the station, and she has to deal with the immature men and blatant sexism as she battles for respect. Her and Ron get together and start a relationship, but it’s doomed because she’s looking forward to the future and Ron is stuck in the past.

One day Ron has a run-in with an angry biker who kicks Ron’s dog Baxter off a bridge. Ron is too distraught to report the news, so Veronica fills in and nails it. Ron is hurt and betrayed that Veronica would read his news and ends their relationship. There’s no denying Veronica’s talent and she is promoted to co-anchor.

Ron and his news team try to get rid of her in various ways, but Veronica sabotages Ron’s teleprompter so that he says, “Go fuck yourself San Diego”. You generally can’t say shit like that on TV, so Ron gets fired and Veronica becomes the lead anchor.

After a few months, Ron is just a drunk, but Veronica is more famous and successful than Ron ever was. One day Ling-Wong the pregnant panda finally starts to give birth, so the all of San Diego’s media shows up for the story of the year. Veronica gets shoved into a bear pit by a rival anchor that wants a good shot of Ling-Wong giving birth. When nobody can find Veronica, Ron Burgundy gets a chance to report once again.

Ron cleans himself up and shows up at the zoo to do some anchoring, but when he sees Veronica is in trouble, he jumps into the bear pit too. And just for good measure the rest of the news team jumps in too. Just when it seems like they are completely fucked, Baxter the dog shows up again. After he got kicked off the bridge by an angry biker, he had a fantastic journey to get back to Ron. He met a bear named Katow-jo, who coincidently happens to be the bear’s cousin, and so Ron and Veronica and the Channel 4 news team is safe. Talk about deus ex machine.

Will Ferrell is hysterical but he plays the same character in every single movie. Anchorman was before he wore his shtick into the ground. But there’s no denying he is funny as hell. Anchorman would not have worked without Will Ferrell, but Paul Rudd, Steve Carell and David Koechner deserve a lot of the credit for making the movie one of the best comedies of that decade. Sex Panther… 60% of the time, it works every time. There are a lot of cameos: Vince Vaughn, Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson, Jack Black, Seth Rogan, Tim Robbins, and a few other celebs make appearances. The news team showdown is one of the highlights of the movie.

Judd Apatow movies are usually always good. He track record is almost as good as Pixar’s. Drillbit Taylor sucked but Cars 2 was no gem either. This is Will Ferrell’s best movie. I can’t wait for the sequel.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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Forgetting Sarah Marshall

There are comedies and there are Judd Apatow comedies. Comedies just try to make you laugh. Judd Apatow tries to make you laugh and cry and he usually succeeds. He makes dramadies. They are more reminiscent of real life; they are full of real situations that you can relate to, they just happen to much prettier and wittier people. In Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Jason Segel plays Peter Bretter, who decides that going to Hawaii is the best way to get over his ex-girlfriend. Of course she shows up at the same resort with her new boyfriend, and Peter must find a way to start forgetting Sarah Marshall.

It’s easy to forget about your hot ex-girlfriend when you get a hot new girlfriend. Mila Kunis plays Rachel, the hot new girlfriend. She’s a concierge at the hotel that Peter stays at. They strike up a friendship that eventually evolves into a relationship, but she is reluctant to get involved with a tourist.

Jason Segel is a great comedic actor. Mila Kunis is sexy and funny and brunette. Kristen Bell is sexy and funny and blonde. Russell Brand plays Sarah’s new boyfriend, famous rock star Aldous Snow. Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, and a whole bunch of other funny people also make cameos. The whole cast is solid, and they play off each other well.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall is about moving on from a doomed relationship. Through a bunch of random flashback depicting the highs and lows of their time together, you see how they just don’t mesh well. They are both the victim and the villain, and that happens a lot. Relationships don’t always work out, but that doesn’t mean one person is at fault.

There’s a running gag about Peter’s unfinished Dracula musical done with puppets. You hear a few songs and see a couple of scenes from the play. I hope that they make a full length Muppet Dracula movie. This flick just wetted my appetite. I want the real thing.

If you’ve never seen this movie, you should. I’m warning you know that there the movie is bookended by shlong. It’s not like Watchmen, it’s not an awkward CG blue shlong, but it’s there and it’s unnecessary and I don’t like that I’ve written this much about Jason Sigel’s cock.

There’s a half-assed sequel about Aldous Snow that changes his character around completely, but it doesn’t have anything to do with this movie. This movie is good. It’s relatable, there are lots of quotable lines, and it’s an honest comedy. You can tell that it was a passion project for Jason Segel. He did a great job and made a great movie. Kudos to him. I’ll always remember Forgetting Sarah Marshall.

Critically Rated at 13/17

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