Saturday, June 4, 2022

What I've Caught Up With, May 2022

May wasn't my best month personally. If you're wondering how long I would survive in a zombie apocalypse, it's two years and two months. I say this because last month, I got COVID. As predicted, I was killed by my family; my daughter came home from college with it. Get vaccinated if you're not--it wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been. I took eight movies off the list in May. Three of those I reviewed fully--Antlers, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, and Swan Song (the Udo Kier version). The other five are the ones listed below.

What I’ve Caught Up With, May 2022:
Film: Paddington (2014)

Holy shit, but this was cute as hell. All Paddington asks is that you accept the conceit of a race of intelligent bears living in Peru and you’ve bought in exactly as much as you need to. Our eponymous hero is one of those bears (voiced by Ben Whishaw), who has travelled to London to find the explorer who first located his family and then prevented them from being exploited. He’s taken in by a family (most especially Sally Hawkins and a fussy Hugh Bonneville), but soon discovers that the explorer’s daughter want to make him an exhibit in her taxidermy museum. It’s clearly a family movie, and a rare one that is just as entertaining for adults and also refuses to talk down to anyone. It’s a shame family films aren’t taken seriously, because this one should be.

Film: City Slickers (1991)

City Slickers was probably the biggest hole in my viewing history (although, honestly, it’s still probably Home Alone) until now. It wasn’t specifically that I was avoiding it; I just never got around to it. Ad guy Mitch (Billy Crystal) is in a rut. His childhood friends Ed (Bruno Kirby) and Phil (Daniel Stern) take him on a two-week ranch trip where they drive cattle from New Mexico to Colorado. Involved in this is the terrifying Curly (Jack Palance), who serves as a foil for Mitch. The three discover a great deal about themselves along the way, of course, as you would expect. It’s rather sweet, and it holds up surprisingly well after 30 years.

Film: Paddington 2 (2017)

The word on Paddington 2 is that it was one of the best movies of its year, a potentially ridiculous thing to say given what was released that year. Virtually all of the same cast has returned from the first film, which has Paddington looking to make money to buy his Aunt Lucy a present for her 100th birthday. But there’s a snag when his chosen gift is stolen and he’s framed for it, thanks to the talent of fallen actor Phoenix Buchanan (Hugh Grant). Ridiculously cute and sweeter than a marmalade sandwich. All it really needed was a little more Sally Hawkins, but isn’t that honestly true of just about everything? Bluntly, this is the movie Wes Anderson wishes he’d made.

Film: 8 Mile (2002)

I’m not a huge rap fan—it’s not that I’m too white for it but that my musical tastes were solidified by the time rap and hip hop became mainstream. That said, I like a lot of movies that focus on rap (Straight Outta Compton is a premier example). The biggest surprise in 8 Mile is that Eminem can actually act. The story is one that is perhaps too expected in terms of where it goes. While the final 15-20 minutes are great cinema, there aren’t a lot of surprises. Doesn’t matter, though, because the whole thing works, and it really is one of the great film endings of the current millennium.

Film: CB4 (1993)

Like I just said, I tend to like movies that focus on rap for whatever reason. CB4 is a mockumentary about an NWA-like rap group of the same name (it stands for “Cell Block 4”). Essentially, a trio of friends want to be rappers, and needing a gimmick, they adopt the identity of a local drug dealer while he is in prison. Hilarity ensues. While there’s a lot this does right, it leaves a lot of things hanging. A more serious issue is the lack of songs—it’s basically the same NWA-style “Straight Outta Locash” over and over again. It also can’t decide if CB4 (Chris Rock, Allen Payne, and Deezer D) want to be NWA or 2 Live Crew. A broader parody song selection would have really helped it a lot.


  1. Paddington is the one film on that list I haven't seen but I have seen the rest. Paddington 2.... I heard it was like one of these rare films that is just wall-to-wall delightful and entertaining. Well... they were wrong. It was more than that. It was hilarious and that post-credits ending with Hugh Grant. Oh, I died laughing my ass off. Seriously, there's a reason it's got that high Rotten Tomatoes score and for all of the right reasons. I would totally go for a third film.

    CB4 is underrated as I just love some of the songs in that film such as "I'm black y'all" as it is a hilarious parody of gangsta rap while 8 Mile is a film I still enjoy and Eminem is still the best white rapper right now with Bubba Sparxx in second (I have to show love for my local homeboy since he is from the Dirty South like me).

    City Slickers is funny while I have a soft spot for the sequel.

    1. Yeah, the Paddington films are true delights. The first one is not as good as the sequel, but it's still very good. Predictable, but smart enough to be as fun for adults as kids. It doesn't hurt that there's a lot of Sally Hawkins in it.

      I wanted to like CB4 more than I did. It needed more parodies and it needed to be less plot-driven. Something more like This is Spinal Tap or The Rutles would have worked better for me.

  2. I looooove Paddington and Paddington 2 is even better than the first. Glad you finally got around to watching them.

    1. 100%. I expected to enjoy them, but I did not expect to love them as much as I do.

  3. Wow. Looks like the Omicron variant is nearly impossible to avoid. I lasted slightly longer than you in the ZA, getting Covid last week after a Memorial Day party.

    I'll be interested in your take on Home Alone. It has all the John Hughes hallmarks, and the most famous sequences in the film (the home invasion) are actually a very small part of it.

    1. I don't know which variant I got. I was intensely sick for 2-3 days and it took a few more for my voice to come back. I can't imagine what it would have been like without the vax/boosters.

  4. Sorry to hear you were down with the virus but glad you were vaxxed so the impact was blunted though it probably didn't feel like that when you were sick.

    I've only seen one of these from beginning to end-City Slickers. I've seen bits of 8 Mile but I'm not a fan of either rap nor Eminem so never felt any pull to stop and watch it whenever I ran across it.

    I enjoyed City Slickers when I saw it in the theatres and Jack Palance was terrific (though an Oscar win was a bit much) but I don't think I've seen it since. I did see the sequel which like most sequels was a letdown.

    I've heard that Paddington was cute but I still don't have any desire to see it.

    1. I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest both Paddington and its sequel. They are both a delight. If you've got little kids around you anywhere--nieces and nephews, for instance--watch it with them. They are both rather sweet, and they're beautifully cast.