Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton – Week of August 23, 2021

Popcorn Perspectives with Danny Minton

Week of August 23, 2021

Rated R for language, bloody horror violence and some sexual references
In theaters

On the surface this looks like a remake of the original 1992 slasher pic about a man with a hook and a swarm of bees who pops out to kill you if you say his name five times in a mirror. And if you want, this can be just that. But look further and you’ll see that this is no ordinary horror film. Written and produced by Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us) and directed by newcomer Nia DaCosta (who has already been assigned to direct the next two Captain Marvel films), the legend of Candyman takes on new meaning and context, with a deep dive into systemic racism in America in a style that has never been used before to do so. What is most interesting about this project, is that once you can start to tell that the meaning is largely symbolic, the film becomes far less scary and just plain good. I had a similar experience while watching Peele’s previous film Us. While I was slightly disappointed that the film wasn’t the nightmare-inducing pic I expected, I was more fascinated at the brilliance behind it. But not only was the story on point, but the production was top-notch as well. It is quick to see why DaCosta has been enlisted as a top director, but even things like cinematography and sound design pop boldly off the screen, giving the film a real sense of art, rather than just genre. And while the stars aren’t huge names yet, you have no doubt that one day they will be. Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (Aquaman, Us) and Teyonah Parris (If Beale Street Could Talk, Wandavision) really shine on screen, giving us lead characters that we really care about in a story that would normally not provide this kind of attention. A

Vacation Friends
Rated R for crude sexual references, language throughout and drug content
Streaming on Hulu

One of the things I love most about going on vacation as a couple are the friends we meet and sometimes even hang on to. But taking this to an extreme is the subject of this newest comedy from Hulu that very much took me by surprise. Here Lil Rel Howery and Yvonne Orji are a young couple looking forward to their intimate little beach-front resort getaway when they unwillingly become connected to John Cena and his girlfriend Meredith Hagner. While they have no interest in the new friendship, they go along with it any way and manage to have fun. But after the vacation, they want to pretend it never happened, only to find that their new friends won’t have any of that. This project kind of came out of nowhere for me. I had never heard of it before last week and honestly, if I wasn’t low on material to cover, I would have ignored it. But I remembered that one of my favorite movies of last year (Palm Springs) was a Hulu original and maybe I should give this a chance. And I’m glad I did as I found myself laughing out loud throughout. Especially great was John Cena, who just keeps on impressing me with his comedy chops. The dude is way funnier than he gets credit for. While some of the plot points and jokes don’t exactly work, the film manages to keep finding a way to sneak up on you with unexpected humor. What most surprised me is that I enjoyed this film sober. With an old fashioned or two in me, I might have missed a major chunk of dialog from my own laughter. B

Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins
Rated PG-13 for sequences of strong violence and brief strong language
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 36%
Available on Disc and Streaming

As a child I loved the Hasbro action figures and the corresponding Saturday morning cartoon, but as an adult I had trouble making sense of the world of G.I. Joe and the various movies over the years failed to rectify this. And now the prequel that no one asked for is hitting home theaters. Replacing Ray Park in the role of Snake Eyes is Henry Golding (Crazy Rich Asians) who does an admirable job of holding this thing together but it is quick to see that this is overall a low-quality production with a lousy script, worse directing and ultimately an attempt to make a cash grab due to its familiarity. By the credits you will have already forgotten the movie, or at least wish you had. D