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Soda Fountain Carves Out Space for Original Sketch Comedy

By Graeme Wiggins VANCOUVER – Vancouver’s stand up and improv comedy scenes are thriving, with shows of each available almost…

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The Vidiot: December 2017

Tuesday 19th, December 2017 / 17:01

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets 

The only difference between air and space travel are the amount of tentacles the rude flight attendant has. 

Bad service is likely the reason the star-farer in this sci-fi fantasy commands his own spaceship. Major Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and his pilot Sergeant Laureline (Cara Delevingne) are dispatched by the International Space Station to intercede the black-market sale of a special converter that could help save the travelling city of Alpha. However, the converter holds an ancient secret within it that could undermine the very system Valerian and Laureline are fighting to defend.  

Director Luc Besson’s eye-popping 3-D adaptation of the long-running French comic series, this lengthy production certainly captures the way-out there ideas of the space opera strip, but the childish humour, goofy looking aliens and hollow acting don’t translate to the screen as well. Besides, French comic book heroes tend to surrender at the first sign of danger.   

 

Logan Lucky 

Most criminals know that when you steal from NASCAR you are stealing from Jesus himself. However, someone failed to tell the morons in this comedy about NASCAR’s number one fan. 

Recently laid off Logan (Channing Tatum) concocts a plan to rob his former employee: Charlotte Motor Speedway, by intercepting the money capsules that move through the facility via tubelines. With help from his brother Clyde (Adam Driver), two dimwitted hackers (Brian Gleeson, Jack Quaid) and a safecracker (Daniel Craig), Logan hopes that the caper will reunite him with his estranged daughter. 

Instead it sets off a wild chain of events.

Despite its stacked cast and an accomplished director in Steven Soderbergh, this comedic heist is light on laughs and heavy on annoying characters, highly improbable situations and monotonous pacing. In fact, Driver’s dopey accent discredits the entire production.  Worse yet, when you steal from NASCAR, your punishment is to watch NASCAR.   

​  

Atomic Blonde 

The reason blondes make such terrible spies is that they always confuse their birth control with their cyanide pills. Fortunately, the fair-haired operative in this actioneer is smarter than the average blonde.  

Near the end of the Cold War MI6 agent Lorraine (Charlize Theron) is sent to Berlin to recover microfilm containing the names of active spies, as well as kill the double agent who is planning on selling the list to the KGB. Aided by a fellow agent (James McAvoy), Lorraine faces brutal adversity at every turn as she helps a defector (Eddie Marsan) with the list memorized flee the country with his family. 

While the straightforward storyline following familiar counterintelligence procedure, including predictable plot twists and the obvious red herrings, it is the kinetic action scenes and the magnetic lead actress that make this stylish spy thriller standout. 

Incidentally, all female spy gadgets double as sanitary napkins.   

 

 

Wind River 

For some reason US Fish and Wildlife officers have a bad habit of shooting defenseless black bears. Mind you, it’s not the body of an animal that has been discovered in this thriller, but a human. 

While he is hunting a mountain lion, Wind River Indian Reservation’s resident Fish and Wildlife Service agent Cory (Jeremy Renner) finds the bodies of a Native female and a Caucasian male frozen in the middle of nowhere. An FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) is dispatched to the isolated reserve to investigate, but with no knowledge of the terrain she must employ Cory’s tracking skills to locate the killer. 

Although its heart is in the right place, bringing light to missing indigenous women, this neo-western with a Nick Cave composition stumbles in its delivery. The mystery is far-fetched while the indigenous cast simply serves as background scenery. Lastly, having a white corpse always gets better response time from the authorities.   

 

 

The Babysitter 

Nowadays, it’s hard to find a babysitter on a budget that your husband still wants to seduce. Fortunately, the family in this horror-comedy has had the same sitter for years. 

Despite being 12-years-old Cole’s (Judah Lewis) parents insist on hiring a babysitter while they are away for the weekend.  Luckily for Cole his sitter is a leggy blonde named Bee (Samara Weaving) who is into sci-fi and junk food. After Bee puts Cole to bed her friends (Bella Thorne, Hana Mae Lee, Robbie Amell) show up for a human sacrifice. Now, it’s up to Cole to keep them from completing their unholy ceremony. 

Trying desperately to be both hilarious and horrific, this tongue-in-cheek teen slasher fails on all fronts. While there are a few laughs, the majority of jokes fall flat. Even the blood and gore feels trite. Furthermore, millennial babysitters just get their parents to look after the kid.   

 

 

Cars 3 

The upside to living in a world ruled by sentient vehicles is ample parking. Mind you, the articulate autos in this 3-D animated movie refer to parking spaces as condos.

Weathered racer veteran Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) is sent to the scrap heap when tech-savvy newcomer Jackson Storm (Armie Hammer) joins the Piston Cup race circuit and bests all of his lap records. While he is on the mend Lightning takes his new trainer Cruz Ramirez (Cristela Alonzo) under his wing and, instead, helps her achieve her own racing aspirations; with a little help from a mysterious mechanic (Chris Cooper).

Although the animation in this second sequel is superlative, its sad storyline spins its tires on long bouts of boring dialogue with high-speed racing only bookending its PC narrative. As well, the voice work feels uninspired by the laugh-free script.

Ultimately, even self-driving cars find NASCAR to be completely boring.   

 

 

The Glass Castle    

Dysfunctional families work best when everyone in the family is dysfunctional. Unfortunately, it’s only the father in this drama that cannot stay sober. 

Born and raised in an unstable home environment by her alcoholic father Rex (Woody Harrelson) and her free-spirited mother Rose Mary (Naomi Watts), Jeannette Walls (Brie Larson) and her two siblings struggle to stay sane. Constantly on the move due to their dad’s gambling debts and social services, the children are perpetually placated by Rex’s flowery promises of a better life just around the corner.

Dealing with sensitive subject matter like rape, incest and substance abuse head on, this melodramatic adaptation of Walls’ own biography tries too hard to find a silver lining in the oppressive sadness. While the performances are impactful, the Hollywood ending feels as fanciful as one of the father’s yarns. 

Incidentally, alcoholics sacrifice sobriety so their children can someday write a bestselling tell-all.   

 

 

Ingrid Goes West 

The upside to internet stalking is that you don’t have to hide in thorny bushes anymore. In fact, as this dark comedy points out, you don’t even need to disguise your voice nowadays. 

Subsequent to her release from a mental institution, social media stalker Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) finds her latest online crush in Instagram star Taylor (Elizabeth Olsen). With a large inheritance in tow, Ingrid relocates to LA and worms her way into Taylor’s trendsetting world. But when questions concerning Ingrid’s life arise, she must convince her stoner landlord (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) to pose as her boyfriend in order to keep her ruse going. 

A brutal critique of human vanity in creating false realities online and the sad sack followers that swoon over every corporate sponsored post, this sardonic production also has a number of outstanding comedic performances to help get its point across.    

Moreover, online fame is as lucrative as real fame except you get paid in bitcoin.   

 

 

The Dark Tower 

The only way to solve gun violence is to turn all weapons manufacturing over to Nerf. Mind you, foam darts would be detrimental to the gunslinger in this fantasy. 

Roland (Idris Elba) and his six-shooters have been chasing the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) across the post-apocalyptic terrain of Mid-World ever since he cut down Roland’s father. The roles reverse, however, when an Earth boy (Tom Taylor) with psychic abilities crossing over to their realm through a portal. Now, Rolland must keep the Man in Black from using the child to destroy the nexus between our world and theirs, releasing all hell. 

The drastically abridged version of Stephen King’s magnum opus, this anemic adaptation is an absolute insult to fans of the long-running series. Newcomers will also be put-off by the film’s hurried pace, muddled script and hokey dialogue. 

Incidentally, these portals to other realms would make for ideal landfills.  

 

 

Kidnap 

Ugly parents don’t have to worry about their children being kidnapped. Attractive ones however, like the mother in this thriller, should be concerned. 

While spending the day with her son at a carnival, single-mother Karla (Halle Berry) takes a phone call that will alter the course of her life. While she is talking to her divorce lawyer, someone in a green Mustang is making off with her  six year-old son. In desperation Karla gives chase, following the kidnappers back to their secluded liar where they have other children held captive. With no one but her to free them, Karla takes matters into her own hands.  

Wasting virtually no time at all on exposition or character development, this breakneck car chase movie instead floors it hoping no notices the lack of narrative. Short, simplistic and unmemorable, Kidnap isn’t worth the ransom. 

Moreover, thanks to food allergies and behaviour problems, kidnappings are down.  

  

The Emoji Movie 

Growing up the only emoticon you were allowed to feel was: Smiling Face. As per this animated-adventure: Now there’s a myriad of symbols to emote your psychosis. 

Inside of a teenager’s phone lives a multi-faceted face emoji, Gene (T.J. Miller), that doesn’t want to be defined by his ‘meh’ designation, like his parents, so he teams up with a HI-5 sign (James Corden) and a hacker (Anna Faris) that can help fix his glitch before Gene is deleted. But to repair Gene they must survive Candy Crush, Instagram and Spotify. 

A platform for app and software companies to reach impressionable young minds, this commercial masked as a 3-D kids cartoon is corporate brainwashing. Intent on creating brand loyalty amongst preschoolers by way of cutesy characters, showing this schlock to minors should be deemed child abuse.         

Furthermore, who needs emoticons when every human emotion can be articulated by a dick pic?   

 

He’s a Killing Machine Repairman. He’s the… 

Vidiot 

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