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Posts tagged as reviews

'SNL' Review: Martin Freeman Comes Bearing Gifts

While watching this weekend's SNL hosted by first-timer Martin Freeman, I couldn't help but wonder what the show's original head writer Michael O'Donoghue might have thought of an episode that turned the recently released CIA torture report into jokes about autocorrect and Time Warner Cable, all while tens of thousands of people crowded the length of Sixth Avenue just outside the 30 Rockefeller doors in protest of police brutality and racism. Fans who abandoned SNL back in the '80s will be the quickest to point out that the show's satire hasn't had any edge since O'Donoghue left, but those of us still who still watch regularly know that [...]

Hannibal Buress Calls Cracker Barrel "The Tim Duncan of Chain Restaurants"

Hannibal Buress posted a brand new restaurant review over the weekend, this time on a Cracker Barrel location in Macon, Georgia. Unlike Lamb's Creek in Pennsylvania, Buress has a few nice things to say about the Cracker Barrel franchise: "I've never walked out of a Cracker Barrel thinking 'What the fuck?'" Also: "Cracker Barrel is the Tim Buncan of chain restaurants: It's a superstar, but slightly boring, but efficient." Plus, without Cracker Barrel's gift shop he couldn't have made the impulse purchase of a $20 keyboard to pursue his dreams of being the world's #1 Hannibal. Cracker Barrel: It's underrated, it's consistent, and it'll make your dreams come true.

Jon Stewart Finds Moments of Levity in a Horrifying Ordeal in 'Rosewater'

In early 2013, when Jon Stewart announced his first-ever hiatus from The Daily Show to direct a film about a journalist tortured in an Iranian prison, fans did a collective double take. Stewart’s directing? And it’s a drama? Though the move was unexpected, perhaps it shouldn’t have been. It wasn’t all that long ago that think piece after think piece was written about the hope of Stewart going serious. Much of this started after his famous appearance on Crossfire (ten whole years ago!) and lasted for years afterward. Directing Rosewater may not have been the turn toward seriousness that Stewart’s fans were demanding, but it’s a good fit for [...]

'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. [...]

Making Sense of Serializing 'South Park'

South Park has made a name for itself by breaking boundaries and pushing the envelope, with their incredibly streamlined production schedule allowing them near-unrivaled power on commenting on breaking and current events. So it’s a little surprising that the most unpredictable and ambitious thing South Park did this season was experiment with serialized, continuity-heavy storytelling. This season embraced the approach more than ever before, almost distilling the year into a singular storyline that they kept returning to.

While its prevalence has fluctuated throughout the season (some episodes have functioned entirely as standalone entities), it’s worth assessing why South Park has decided to make this shift this late in the game, [...]

Critics Say 'Dumb and Dumber To' Fails to Live Up to the Original

Twenty years after the release of the original, the Farrelly brothers' Dumb and Dumber sequel finally debuts in theaters today. Currently earning an underwhelming 27% on Rotten Tomatoes, Dumb and Dumber To is raking in the kind of reviews one might expect from a sequel with leads that are now 20 years older: It's good for callbacks, cheap laughs, and "crotch-centric" humor, but don't expect it to surpass the appeal of the 1994 film. Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels both get points from critics for embodying their silly '90s roles and carrying the film and Rob Riggle gets some love for his supporting double role, but [...]

Aidy Bryant on 'SNL' Reviews: "We're Definitely Aware of It"

"I mean we're definitely aware of it. We hear things. Some of us read more and some of us don't. One of the things we talk about a lot within the cast is how much the show now is broken down into three-minute chunks and dissected. I don't think that happened in the '90s and the '80s and I wonder if there's a purity to that that I envy sometimes. I think that if you went to go see a stand-up show or a sketch show live, you'd take it for what it is and just enjoy it … But it's become such a math problem of 'who has the [...]

'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 [...]

'SNL' Review: A Step Back with Cameron Diaz

Well, that didn't last long.

Just one week after seemingly proclaiming its transitional era to be over, SNL reaffirmed viewers' perennial skepticism with an episode that made Woody Harrelson's excellent outing look like that much more of a fluke. Cameron Diaz's hosting gig wasn't quite the disaster the show is capable of, but it exhibited all the symptoms of a bland episode that no one will remember by the end of the season: a game-for-anything host that the writers didn't know what to do with (despite this being her fourth time), a dependence on watered-down recurring bits that the actors seem to love more than audiences do, and a general miscalculation by producers on [...]

Hannibal Buress Reviews a Restaurant in Mansfield, PA: "Your Restaurant's a Real Piece of Shit"

Hannibal Buress is currently on his Comedy Camisado tour, so he decided to put his experience on the road to use by launching a new series of local restaurant reviews. He uploaded the first (and hopefully not the last) installment today, recalling his less than stellar experience at Lamb's Creek in Mansfield, Pennsylvania. Hopefully Lamb's Creek steps up their celery game in the future.

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 [...]