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Posts tagged as reviews

Amy Poehler's 'Yes Please' Is the Best Non-Self-Help Self-Help Book Ever

Before I can start my thoughts on Amy Poehler’s Yes Please (Dey Street Press, out today), I have to put aside Professional Writer Voice and make a confession: I love self-help books. I’m not talking about the ones that promise if you just think positively piles of money will magically appear. I mean the ones that urge us to be better people, that gently tell us it’s slowly inch-by-inch going to be okay and that it helps our hearts to be kinder to others and to ourselves. I have an entire shelf of them. If there’s a Brene Brown book to be had, I own a dog-eared, heavily-underlined copy, [...]

The Critics Are Not Being Kind to Fox's 'Mulaney'

John Mulaney's sitcom premieres this Sunday, and while fans and critics across the board agree that Mulaney himself is a talented and likable writer/performer, between the endless Seinfeld comparisons (in reviews and the actual show) and the series' long evolution from an NBC pilot to Fox series, he's had to face an unusually harsh response from TV critics over the past few weeks. So far, Mulaney has been called a "contrived, airless comedy" (Huffington Post), "something a dutiful student might have produced for his final project in his 'Tropes and Themes in the 1990s Sitcom' class" (Time), and labeled doomed to fail by The Hollywood Reporter: "There is no saving a show this heinous."

Mulaney's traditional [...]

An Updated 'Live From New York' Goes Inside the Last 12 Years of 'SNL' History

If the update of Live from New York from journalist James Andrew Miller and TV critic Tom Shales succeeds in one thing, it’s disproving the perennial, cliched criticism that Saturday Night Live is no longer funny or relevant. The additional 200 pages added to this already-hefty volume are a revealing reminder that the most recent years of SNL have been just as memorable as the eras long past.

Covering the period from 2002 to the present, the update takes on the show’s engagement with recent politics, the rise of Lonely Island, and the internet’s effect on both the players and the general reception of the show. It features interviews from [...]

Louis C.K.'s Season of Mini-Movies

"I want season four to go somewhere new," Louis C.K. said when he announced he'd be taking an extra year to complete the latest season of his FX series Louie, which wrapped up last night. What resulted was a season of Louie made up almost-entirely of multi-part episodes, with C.K. using the complete creative control FX gives him to make three movies, spread across multiple episodes, instead of creating 14 individual, self-contained episodes. Past seasons have seen C.K. straying away from vignettes and toying with multi-part episodes (like with season three's two-part episode "Daddy's Girlfriend," following Louie's adventurous first date with a mercurial woman played by Parker [...]

Seth MacFarlane's 'A Million Ways to Die in the West' Isn't Faring as Well with Critics as 'Ted' Did

The summer movie season continues this week with the release of A Million Ways to Die in the West, the second film written and directed by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane after 2012' s Ted. MacFarlane, who makes his (non-voice) acting debut here as the movie's lead, co-scripted A Million Ways to Die with his Ted co-writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, but the creative team's second big-screen comedy isn't faring as well as their first.

Review aggregators Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic are currently rating a A Million Ways to Die in the West at 33% and 45/100, respectively, a significant drop from the scores Ted received two years ago: [...]

'SNL' Review: Jim Carrey Dances Like Everybody's Watching

When Jim Carrey last hosted SNL in 2011 (the first episode I reviewed for this site), I worried the 1990s comedy icon best known for playing manic cartoons from In Living Color, three comedy blockbusters in 1994, and a well regarded SNL stint, would fail to connect with the show's modern lineup. Thankfully, Carrey proved me wrong, blending nicely with Fred Armisen's eccentric subtlety and showing us how much fun a (then) fresh-faced Taran Killam could be to watch. Carrey's performance was a testament to the fact that while SNL may evolve, with increasingly eye-popping production value and an emerging struggle to make its live multicam elements work, some things will always just [...]

Looking at the Dark and Absurd Sci-Fi Comedy of 'Space Station 76'

The Jack Plotnick-directed Space Station 76 takes place in a 1970s vision of the future. You might ask what exactly that means, but it’s a fairly straightforward description: imagine the 1970s. Now imagine them in space. That’s what Space Station 76 looks like, with beautifully cold space station sets, throwback '70s costuming, and robots resembling R2D2. The second most-discussed film at South by Southwest, it’s flown relatively under-the-radar since, but as it comes out on VOD, DVD, and digital download next week, this quietly funny movie is worth your attention.

It’s tempting to view Space Station 76 as a straight sci-fi parody, an homage to the likes of Space:1999. [...]

Melissa McCarthy's New Movie 'Tammy' Is Getting Mediocre Reviews at Best

Melissa McCarthy's latest film Tammy hits theaters today, and so far critics are feeling pretty meh about the film the comedian wrote, produced, and starred in with her husband Ben Falcone onboard as co-writer and director. McCarthy has been on a steady rise to mainstream fame since her breakout role in 2011's Bridesmaids, so the critical reception to Tammy — which ranges from drab to mildly entertained — is a bit of a letdown considering all the hype around the idea of McCarthy writing and starring in her own movie. Most critics seem to agree on three things: McCarthy gives a solid but sometimes confusing performance, Susan Sarandon [...]

'Veep' Season 3 Carves Out New Territory Along the Campaign Trail

Seasons one and two of Armando Iannucci’s political satire Veep depicted the vice presidency as whimsically inconsequential: a politician and her extremely driven staff stuck wasting their intelligence and penchant for insults on carefully-calculated interactions with the press and “normals” while the actually important POTUS eluded all his underling’s phone calls. A change seemed imminent, though, at the end of season two when the president announced he would not be running for re-election. This news set the stage for an excellent third season in which VP Selina Meyer and her cohorts left the comfort of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, home for the past two years to some [...]

The 15 Harshest Quotes from Reviews of Adam Sandler's 'Blended'

The new Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore movie Blended came out today, and it's been drawing some pretty savage reviews from critics. Currently sitting at 14% on Rotten Tomatoes, it's hardly the most-derided Adam Sandler movie ever (that honor would go to Jack and Jill with 3%) but it's still getting dogpiled on in a way that you don't see with your average studio comedy. We've rounded up some of the meanest quotes from reviews of the movie and gathered them up below, from least-harsh to harshest:

'SNL' Review: Bill Hader's Master Class

You can judge how great a past SNL cast member was by the void they refill when they return to the show. Maya Rudolph's hosting gig in 2012 reminded viewers not only how irreplaceable of a triple-threat talent Rudolph is, but how colorless (in every possible meaning of the word) the cast seemed in her absence. Andy Samberg's return last May revealed the cast remained short of a goofball viewers seemed to like, even if the show could still produce amazing video content without him. If SNL needs to know what it's missing, it needs only bring back an old cast member to highlight the weak spots.

Bill Hader returned [...]

How FX's 'You’re the Worst' Has Quietly Become the Best New Comedy on Television

The summer television season used to be reserved for the ignoble combination of network miscalculations and obligatory burn offs as the Big Four reserved their more acclaimed pilots for the prestigious fall season. Luckily, the television landscape is slowly evolving. While the upcoming spate of new network sitcoms suggest that the low end of the dial may be clinging to the cozy confines of the familiar, FX’s freshman series You’re the Worst has embraced the allure of the unknown and, in the process, has quietly delivered the most entertaining comedy of the year.

Described as a "dark twist on the romantic comedy genre,” You’re the Worst follows the budding relationship [...]

'They Came Together': Beating a Dead Horse with Efficiency and Spite

Made by smart, talented comedy people and starring smart, talented comedy people, They Came Together is a dumb movie. It's built on dumb ideas and executed as dumbly as possible, and that's the point. Slickly directly by David Wain and starring Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd, They Came Together is a self-assuredly dumb parody of the romantic comedy, intent on skewering the genre's worst instincts mainly by reproducing them in a biting tone dripping with mockery. To be clear, this movie doesn't give romcoms a good-natured roasting — it's straight up mean. Nearly every scene features a clever riff on the familiar beats of a romcom formula, and even when Wain's absurdist sensibility closest [...]

Breaking Down 'Silicon Valley's Flawed Characters and Promising Debut Season

Silicon Valley’s fourth episode, “Fiduciary Duties,” ends with Richard and Erlich as they leave Peter Gregory’s office, where they spy an old photo of Gregory with Pied Piper rival, Hooli CEO Gavin Belson. In the image, they’re about the same age as Richard and Erlich, who turn back to Gregory. “Is that you and Gavin Belson? Were you guys friends?” And the always-brief Gregory simply replies, “I thought so.”

When the show debuted at South by Southwest, creator Mike Judge described it as being about how in the tech world, "the most successful people are the ones least prepared to handle it." The show must be viewed through [...]