“Jojo Rabbit”, Your Knife Is Calling

Jojo Rabbit!

Near the end of the war when the Fatherland began running low on father figures, you had to make do with what was rationed to you.

Midlife Crisis Crossover calls Jojo Rabbit One of the Year’s Best Films!

That doesn’t mean much to anyone outside my own head, but it’s fun to type and just stare at it for a while. What if I said things and they mattered? Pretty cool daydream, right? Sometimes it’s comforting to traipse around in a world of pure imagination, until you’re forced to look at it from another angle and recognize when you’re wallowing in nonsense.

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Our Dark Summertime Binge: Seven “Black Mirror” Shards

Black Mirror!

Toby Kebbell watching his own lifelong YouTube channel inside his artificial second eyelids in a Black Mirror oldie.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: with weeks to go till vacation and no pressing obligations, my wife Anne and I have been bingeing a few different shows together, while I’ve done some additional grim watching on the side. Certainly not through careful planning on our part, each of the shows has had their own depressing and/or tragic aspects. As I wrote at the time, Veronica Mars season 4 fit right in once we finished the finale. The second season (part 1) of Hulu’s Light as a Feather broadened its scope and tightened up its ensemble interplay, but still had Death lurking around every corner. The Netflix documelodrama The Last Czars was a downbeat bummer in its subject matter as well as its various letdowns.

I’ve been selective about which new shows I add to my docket. I’ve skipped many a popular show over the years, which means I stay ostracized from all the best online discussion groups. Among those I’d been procrastinating till now was Black Mirror. The base concept of “Twilight Zone, but cutting-edge and extra nihilistic plus F-bombs” wasn’t an easy sell for me. Also, I heard about that first episode. My son, aghast at the repressed memory of it resurfacing, recommended I skip it and just watch the rest. The suggestion was wise and tempting.

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Memo from the MCC Errors & Omissions Department

The Shirt!

File photo of a souvenir my wife picked up from Indy PopCon 2015, where the special guests included Charles Nelson Reilly, TV’s Charo, and Joan Embry from the San Diego Zoo along with her amazing thirty to fifty feral pigs.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: I wrote at length about a six-part miniseries that my wife and I watched on Crackle called The Final Tsars, in which I couldn’t be bothered to open an extra browser tab and verify the full name of the ruler at the heart of the story. The next morning, our first conversation after “Good morning” was a firm reminder that his official stage name was, in fact, “Czar Nicholas II”. MCC regrets the oversight and is sorry if any Russian historians were offended, but we don’t feel like editing the affected entry because it would undermine one of its underlying points and two of its jokes.

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“Transformers: The Last Knight”: The Super Awesome Ultimate Recap

Nemesis Prime!

Hey, kids! Hope you love our new movie and all the cool toy tie-ins! Mom and Dad, sorry all our human friends keep saying the S-word so much.

Midlife Crisis Crossover calls Transformers: The Last Knight “The worst Knights of the Round Table film of 2017”! This may sound like nonsense, but I would say “You had to be there” if that weren’t the opposite of my final opinion about this misbegotten mess.

Michael Bay’s latest assemblage of toy robot fight footage extracted from a wheat thresher doesn’t stop at just King Arthur for his pop culture cribbing. After an opening fray that brings us the Game of Thrones/Armageddon crossover no one ever asked for, Bay and his four credited screenwriters go out of their way to photocopy portions of Suicide Squad, Downton Abbey, National Treasure, Aliens, Stand by Me and Three’s Company while trying to turn giant toy robot fights into Serious Business, to come up with clever disguises for sports-car placement ads, and to perpetuate the four previous films’ ongoing YVAN EHT NIOJ-style recruitment campaign.

Fair warning: I’m getting into MAJOR SPOILERS because I don’t feel like being kind to this ostensible “movie”. If your love for Transformers is so unconditional and fanatical that you’re hoping to keep the surprises fully preserved so that your first viewing will be as pure and blissful as possible, then this entry is not for you. Then again, you’ve likely avoided any and all critical analyses of your beloved robo-family’s entire series to date anyway, so I imagine I’m safe and talking to myself, which is not uncommon for me online.

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Mamaw’s Big Fat Fraudulent World Tour

firefly bear!

What’s wrong with this picture? The answer may shock you! Or possibly not!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: in November my wife Anne and I made our annual excursion to the Indiana Christmas Gift & Hobby Show, a beloved special event for her grandmother as it’s one of the few times she gets to venture more than two miles from home. Last month we shared a selection of our photos with MCC readers from here in Indianapolis, along with a light summary of who we saw, what we did, and other truthful statements about the occasion. It’s just this thing we like to do.

As we pushed Mamaw’s wheelchair around the East Pavilion, perused the wares, and sped past every pesky DirecTV huckster, meanwhile on Facebook I had fun sharing real-time photos with our family and friends who enjoy seeing our little outings, some of whom know Mamaw well and love to see her enjoying herself. This time for a couple of reasons I threw in a value-added twist to our live-at-the-scene reports:

LIES.

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How the Emperor Stole Christmas

How the Emperor Stole Christmas!

“At last we will reveal ourselves for Christmas. At last we will have presents.”

[DIRECTOR’S NOTE: The following Christmas poem, written by Star Wars fans for Star Wars fans, works best if read in the deep, laconic manner of Boris Karloff, James Earl Jones, Keith David, or Epic Voice Guy. As this piece hews more closely to the original book than to the Chuck Jones animated adaptation, we leave it to the individual reader to invent and insert musical numbers at their own discretion.]

Every Jedi down on Coruscant liked Christmas a lot
But the Emperor, who lived just this side of Coruscant, did NOT!
The Emperor hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season!
Now please don’t ask why. He’ll kill you without reason.
It could be that electricity in his eyes was too bright.
It could be, perhaps, that his robe was too tight.
But I think the most likely reason of all
Was that his heart was two sizes too small.
But whatever the reason, his robe or his eyes,
He stood there on Christmas Eve, hating Jedis.

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Trump: Trump trump Trump? (Trump…Trump?)

Trump Trump!

Trump trump trump Trump Trump trump trump, trump trump trump trump trump trump trump Trump trump trump.

Trump. Trump, trump.

Trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump Trump Trump trump trump trump trump trump trump-trump trump trump trump. Trump Trump trump trump trump trump trump (trump) trump trump trump trump Trump trump trump Trump Trump trump Trump. Trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump trump.

Trump trump trump trump…trump, Trump. Trump.

“Ghostbusters”: Best Film of the Year, Possibly, Let’s Assume

Ghostbusters!

For Your Film Award Consideration. Like, all of them, because we have a dream.

Normally I wouldn’t review a film till after I’ve seen it, but I get the impression from some corners of the internet that cause-and-effect are now passé and prejudging is all the rage with the poorly parented kids these days. I’ve been watching the ongoing Ghostbusters debates for months from the sidelines, but the following tweet kind of broke me Monday evening:

I can’t figure out which shopping site he was browsing, but honestly, that’s how we’re playing armchair critic, guys? By shooting things down that make us frown without even trying them? With attitudes like that, I’m guessing none of those faux advance reviewers ever gave vegetables a chance, either.

Hi, geese. Call me gander. Let’s go ahead and review Ghostbusters like it’s the greatest thing in the galaxy, 100% sight unseen, three weeks before it opens. Free country! Free speech! Free boorishness! Free self-immolation!

Right this way for a heavy-duty shot of positivity adrenaline for Generation Shouty!

Top 10 Changes When “Supergirl” Moves to The CW

Supergirl!

One of our souvenirs from C2E2 last March. Follow the link for our even better Supergirl photo!

My wife and I were pleased to learn this evening one of our favorite shows now on the air, DC’s Supergirl, has been renewed for season 2 after a few rounds of negotiated compromises. Up front we’ve been told the show will be relocating from Los Angeles to Vancouver for cheaper filming, if they can find a few square feet not in use by the 300 other shows and movies already shooting there. Biggest change of all (for now): Supergirl will be moving from CBS to The CW, which is bad news for fans in numerous cities without their own CW affiliate. Here’s hoping your internet access is higher-quality than your local broadcasting industry is.

What else does this mean for the show? What other corners will be cut? What wrongheaded executive demands will ruin everything and turn us all against it? I shudder to contemplate what the future holds for our beloved stars and the only CBS show I’ve followed within the last four years.

Right this way for the countdown!

The Desperate Search for the Rare, Elusive, Original Reboot Joke

Extreme Scooby!

All-new all-different Scooby-Doo art by DC Comics VP Jim Lee. To the EXTREME.

Just when you thought entertainment corporations had cooled down on the idea of rebooting their property catalogs, along comes a day like today to remind you to stop overestimating entertainment corporations. This morning Entertainment Weekly reported Hanna-Barbera has struck a deal with DC Comics — that bastion of work-for-hire literary integrity — to jump-start some of its most well-known characters as 21st-century comics for a new generation who doesn’t know them and/or an old generation that will shell out money for any repackaged remnants of their childhood.

The article linked above includes teaser images from DC’s planned reboots of Scooby-Doo (now with weapons and tattoos!), the Flintstones (realistic proportions + painful Stone Age puns = PROFIT), Space Ghost and Brak (no more Adult Swim irony, natch), and more. (Jonny Quest’s cast looks surprisingly unchanged, but we’ll see what happens after half of them are killed in the first issue.) The official press release offers additional details omitted from the EW summation, including the part where the Scooby Gang will be fighting nanites, which are now officially Over if they weren’t already. (Trivia undisclosed in the article: DC, Hanna-Barbera, and EW share the same giant parent company.)

It didn’t take long for Twitter to burst into laughter and kick off another round of reboot jokes. Within the first thirty seconds after I caught the news, I next saw other users lining up to brainstorm concepts for a grim-‘n’-gritty Yogi Bear, scoffing about a Jabberjaw revival, hoping Mighty Man and Yukk were up for grabs, and so on. By the time I got home after a long work day and in a better position to interact, I didn’t even bother checking Twitter because I assumed all the best jokes and obvious intellectual properties were spoken for, and my late contributions would be tired and redundant. What’s a sarcastic guy to do?

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Meet Your 2017 Wonder Woman Action Figure Line (Probably)

Wonder Woman!

The Wonder Woman MEGO figure was the perfect compromise: too tall for an action figure, too prone to punching for a Barbie doll.

Fans of Star Wars: The Force Awakens have been up in arms the past two months over the complete lack of a dedicated action figure based on Rey, even though she’s the movie’s main character, arguably its most interesting new hero, and quite possibly a powerful descendant of one of the series’ most famous faces. While Hasbro has given Rey a one-way ticket to the Island of Misfit Toys, all the major male characters boast their own figures and multi-packs and variants and prominent roles in numerous other Star Wars toy assortments and games.

Online protesters suspected the executives at Hasbro were just being big fat sexist jerks, but their rage has been further fueled by an interview published Wednesday with an alleged Lucasfilm insider who claims The Powers That Be mandated that Rey specifically be denied an action figure because girl. Fans of Daisy Ridley’s amazing performance are unhappier than ever and demand Rey figures and justice now, in that order. Hasbro, who have yet to reveal the exact location of the landfill where they deposited seven years’ worth of unsold Padme in Immobile Ballroom Gown figures, could not be reached for comment.

While Hasbro squirms and harrumphs in its Rhode Island lair, we here at Midlife Crisis Crossover are betting that somewhere in California, the folks at Mattel are watching the debacle, taking notes, and adjusting their own plans for the eventual toys that we presume will coincide with the 2017 release of the first Wonder Woman theatrical film in world history. Of course there’ll be action figures! If you have a super-hero toy license, it’s what you do!

We’ve consulted our greatest prognosticating minds and our own secret anonymous sources, and have assembled our definitive predictions for the complete release schedule of the Wonder Woman action figure line, broken down by the waves to be released every 4-6 weeks as demand ramps up and the collectors beg for more. We’re thinking 2017 will be a very good year for DC Comics toy manufacturers and the boys who love them.

Right this way for your ultimate Wonder Woman action figure checklist!

The Only “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Shot-by-Shot Trailer Analysis You’ll Need

The Force Awakens!

John Boyega. Daisy Ridley. STAR WARS. Canon. Cope.

In the past 24 hours eight hundred million other internet users have posted their thoughts on the all-new Official Star Wars: The Force Awakens Trailer that premiered Monday night during ESPN’s Monday Night Football and was released online seconds later for those of us who don’t do sports. Hardcore fans have devoted every hour since then freezing every frame, enhancing every pixel, scrutinizing every living being or moving object, collating the data, and sharing results in hopes of extrapolating the plots of the next six Star Wars films, or at least guessing which toys they’ll buy next.

Now…it’s my turn.

Right this way for the greatest film study that matters only to me ever!

Top 10 Surprises in the Upcoming “Teletubbies” Reboot

Teletubbies Time Warp!

Pictured left to right: William Shatner, Harry Shearer, June Foray, and Seth MacFarlane. Or not.

Sooner or later, every old intellectual property must be revitalized for a new generation that has no interest in it. Revivals are perpetually on the way in every medium –as of this minute, your slate of candidates includes Archie, Logan’s Run, and even gum-wrapper superstar Bazooka Joe. Why waste your time and imagination inventing new characters when you can just stamp your preferences onto someone else’s venerated labor of love?

Also on the way: the return of the Teletubbies! England’s other, other, other Fab Four were psychedelic freeform heroes to a generation of toddlers born at a weird time. Now that formerly captive audience will have the opportunity to recapture their childhood, reunite with their old mentors, and complain about all those years of characterization, continuity, and PBS crossovers that are being tossed out the window and now the seasons they’ve collected on VHS are null and void. Welcome to 21st-century entertainment, youngsters.

Right this way for…another list!

Mr. and Mrs. Kay’s Very Bad Indiana Shopping Trip

Pence RFRA signing, 3/26/2015

The actual Indiana Governor’s Office photo from today’s behind-closed-doors ceremony for Governor Mike Pence’s signing of the RFRA. No Photoshop or verified cosplayers were involved in the making of this picture.

[The scene: Kip and Kasi Kay travel from their hometown of Lewiston, Indiana, to do some shopping at a quaint stretch of stores up in the Big City. It’s the weekend after Governor Mike Pence signed Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law and dramatically improved the world and changed lives and ushered in a new era of human greatness and so on.]

KIP: Hello, beer man! We would like ten kegs of your finest brew.
KASI: We need it for tonight’s white-power rally.
LIQUOR STORE OWNER: What? Uh, no. You can go now.
KASI: But we have money and we brought our own truck.
LIQUOR STORE OWNER: Sorry, no. My church believes God created all humans as equals regardless of skin color. I can’t possibly.
KIP: We didn’t ask. Here, have money.
LIQUOR STORE OWNER: No can do. RFRA, folks.
KIP: What’s a roofra?
LIQUOR STORE OWNER: New law just took effect. Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Way I took it to mean, I don’t have to make any sale that offends me on religious grounds. Racists are one way.
KASI: You only sell to non-racists? Do you actually ask everyone? Is there a test they have to take before you’ll let customers go get drunk?
LIQUOR STORE OWNER: Who I sell to and when I sell it to ’em is my business. Good day, folks.
KIP: We’ll get you for this!
LIQUOR STORE OWNER: Wouldn’t advise it. I’m in the alcohol industry. I know some people you don’t wanna know.
[Kip and Kasi exit, confused and upset. Later that night, an angel leaves a quarter under Mike Pence’s pillow.]

Right this way for more of this very special MCC short play…

My Super Awesome Cinderella Reboot Pitch

Walt Disney's Cinderella

The young woman whose life was changed forever by a first date and some pretty shoes.

[It’s a hidden gem from the MCC Archives! The following entry was originally posted on November 19, 2012, with zero awareness that Disney would someday do something new-not-new with Cinderella. Fast-forward two years, and their live-action remake is coming to theaters this Friday, March 13th. The prophecy has come to pass!

I have no plans to see their version unless someone mails me a ticket, but it’d be great if they totally followed my outline and proved me a genius out of time. Based on the last trailer I saw, they declined my pitch and theirs will instead be a Gus van Sant shot-for-shot homage with no twists allowed. This entry, then, captures the marketable joy of What Might Have Been.]

* * * * *

This weekend I revisited Walt Disney’s twelfth animated classic Cinderella for the first time since the late 1990s. Of all the numerous Disney films our family has owned in multiple formats, this is one of several that rarely saw repeat viewings even when my son was a toddler who insisted on watching every animated movie over and over again until I hated it.

As with many older Disney films, parts of it have aged better than others. I’ll admit I had trouble staying conscious all the way through. Even if I’m alone in this struggle, the film is now over sixty years old and therefore in need of a gratuitous overhaul on shallow principle. In the spirit of today’s remake-happy medium that thrives on second-hand ideas, the following notes are my suggestions to downconvert this one-time children’s favorite for the modern, unsophisticated audience that Hollywood executives so dearly crave.

Right this way for notes to make the greatest Cinderella of all times!

Top 10 Best Parts of Tonight’s State of the Union Address

SOTU 2015!

President Barack Obama delivered tonight’s State of the Union address with a cartoon angel and devil at either shoulder.

From the Home Office in Indianapolis, Indiana:

10. Biden blinking in Morse code “BIDEN/BEYONCE 2016”
9. One lone applauding Republican getting tased by the Senator next to him
8. A frustrated John Boehner wishing his bottled rage could turn him into Red Hulk
7. Ambassadors from Iran and Cuba giving each other cutesy quizzical Jim-and-Pam looks
6. Three-minute ovation every time Obama took a selfie
5. Special guest Sidney Poitier awarding nine honorary Oscars to Selma
4. Anointing of Anita Sarkeesian as head of newly formed Department of Gamer Tolerance
3. Preview footage from The Force Awakens in which Jedi Knight Obama and John Boyega fight Imperial ninjatroopers
2. Sheepish apology for preempting Marvel’s Agent Carter

And the number one Best Part of Tonight’s State of the Union Address:

1. Scene after the end credits: all-Democrat conga line while speakers blare “Everything is Awesome!!!”

My Super Awesome “Frosty the Snowman” Reboot Pitch

Frosty the Snowman!

Millions of viewers used to love watching Frosty the Snowman every year when it aired around Christmastime. The beloved 1969 animated special was one of several perennial favorites in my childhood household. We knew the song, we knew most of the lines, we recognized those familiar cartoon voices, and we knew every beat of the story, from the flop magician to the snowman’s parting promise. Frosty was common knowledge among us kids.

See that face up there, full of angst and pathos and magic? That classic hero just turned 45 years old. Isn’t it time for his 21st-century reboot?

I don’t mean as a feature film, because that declining box office is depressing. I also don’t mean another one-time TV Christmas special, because that’s thinking too small. See, I’m thinking live-action regular series. So many facets of this undervalued intellectual property yearn for a modern update with better fashions, extra pizzazz, hipper attitudes, and supernatural warfare. Frosty himself could stay CG, but there’s no reason Karen, her friends, the other townspeople, and most of the town scoundrels couldn’t be played by real actors so we can crank out episodes more quickly and minimize our animation needs. Unless we send this proposal to Fox, animating it will get us nowhere. I say it’s time for Frosty to start over, but this time keep it real.

I’ve taken the liberty of mapping out a hypothetical thirteen-episode first season that would rebuild the Frosty universe from the ground up and make it relevant and “sick” to a whole new generation of impressionable prime-time viewers. This, then, is what my preliminary episode guide looks like for…

SNOWMAN: THE SERIES!

Right this way for capsule summaries of all thirteen season-one episodes and a sneak preview of future storylines!

Excerpts from “The Grand Jury Jokebook”

Jury Duty!

“Ha! I can do this grand-jurying thing with my eyes shut! In fact, I think I will!”

Q: How many grand jurors does it take to change a light bulb?
A: The bulb is burned out, but they’ve ruled it doesn’t need to be changed

Q: Why did the grand jury cross the road?
A: To get to the wrong conclusion

Q: How can a grand jury tell that an elephant has been in their fridge?
A: Those giant footprints in the peanut butter could belong to some other animal, so we have no idea

Q: Why do firemen wear red suspenders?
A: The grand jury has heard insufficient testimony proving that suspenders are a thing

Q: Knock, knock!
A: Who’s there?
Q: Grand jury.
A: We’re not home.
Q: Oh, okay, bye.

Q: What’s black and white and red all over?
A: A grand jury with a checkerboard

Q: Why is a raven like a grand jury?
A: Both invoke sadness, grief, and parody

Q: Why is a grand jury like a writing desk?
A: You can use both to write whatever narrative you want

(If you think these are terrible jokes, by all means, let us speak of things that are like a terrible joke…)

Science Fiction is Our Most Realistic Defense Against Random Shooters

Candle.Headlines today informed Portland, Oregon, they were the next unfortunate recipient of a tragic American public shooting incident. You can dive into Twitter, Facebook, or any other corner of the internet where people with human emotions dwell and witness a diverse cross-section of reactions: horror, terror, outrage, lamentation, grief, et al. There are other corners where you can pull quotes from those who bask in inhuman emotions, but there’s no healthy reason for that.

Sadly, stories about shootings are commanding so many front pages and conversations, as much from frequency as from simple impact, that we’re seeing numbness and moral surrender joining the social-media chorus in increasing numbers. I’m a proponent of directed prayer myself because I firmly believe that many things are parsecs beyond my control, but when it comes to talking preventatives or cures or root causes or coping mechanisms with others of differing beliefs, I fear the internet in general may soon run out of eloquence on the subject. How many more ways can we express indignation, extend comfort, and proffer wisdom over the same kind of event over and over again? Could we reach a point of having to reuse the same sentiments every time it comes up? At the rate we’re covering this same ground at length, I won’t be surprised to see Hallmark mining everyone’s retweets and reblogs for material to reuse in a new line of shootings-specific sympathy cards.

So what can we do?

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