Daily Streaming Guide: March 16th Edition

We are going mid90s with today’s edition of my Daily Streaming Guide! MY selection may well one you have already seen. However, it warrants a repeat viewing if it’s been awhile. And if you haven’t seen it… really?!?!? You’ll thank me later.


Frank Darabont’s The Shawshank Redemption is all about hope and we could use that right now. Somewhat of a box office disappointment at the time of its release over a quarter century ago, the behind bars friendship saga has become one of the most beloved movies of all time and for good reason.

Watch it for the goosebumps that occur when freedom finally reigns supreme. And if you need a laugh following that, check out Frank Caliendo’s masterful impression of Morgan Freeman reading the LeBron James letter on his return to Cleveland in 2014.

Here’s a post I wrote years ago about the power of Shawshank:


Smallfoot Box Office Prediction

The Warner Animation Group sets the Legos aside momentarily when Smallfoot debuts next weekend. The 3D computer animated comedic musical (a twist on the Bigfoot story) comes from director Karey Kirkpatrick. He made the well-received Over the Hedge over a decade ago and the not so well-received live-action Eddie Murphy pic Imagine That in 2009. Channing Tatum, James Corden, LeBron James, Zendaya, Common, Danny DeVito, and Gina Rodriguez are among the voices heard here.

As mentioned, the current animation department at Warner Bros has mostly been giving us Lego titles as of late. One exception was 2016’s Storks. It also opened in September and made $21.3 million for its start. That is likely a far better comparison that anything involving those famous blocks.

A low 20s to mid gross should put this in second place next weekend behind the Kevin Hart/Tiffany Haddish comedy Night School. 

Smallfoot opening weekend prediction: $23 million

For my Night School prediction, click here:


For my Hell Fest prediction, click here:


2015: The Year of Amy Schumer

Director Judd Apatow has had a fine history of bringing comedic performers known more for their small screen work to silver screen glory. Steve Carell in The 40 Yr. Old Virgin. Seth Rogen in Knocked Up. Kristin Wiig and Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids (which he produced).

It happened yet again in 2015 with Amy Schumer for this summer’s Trainwreck, a critically acclaimed box office hit which gave the celebrated comedienne her inaugural starring vehicle. Schumer made the most of it, writing the script and giving Apatow a bit of a comeback vehicle after a couple of commercial disappointments. The pic earned $110 million stateside (and an 85% Rotten Tomatoes rating) while giving humorous supporting roles to Bill Hader, Tilda Swinton, and even LeBron James.

2015 has been a watershed year for Ms. Schumer. In addition to her considerable film success, her Comedy Central show “Inside Amy Schumer” was nominated for five Emmys (after winning a Peabody last year) and she capped the year off with an HBO stand-up special.

Expect to see lots more of Schumer on the big screen as she is currently working on a buddy comedy with her buddy, Jennifer Lawrence. We will certainly remember this year as the one which turned her into a movie star.

Trainwreck Movie Review

In the past decade, we’ve witnessed Judd Apatow bring the best out of his comedic performers and vault them into big screen stardom. This has occurred in films he’s directed and produced. Steve Carell in The 40-Year-Old Virgin. Seth Rogen in Knocked Up. Kristin Wiig and Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids. It happens again in a major way with Trainwreck, which announces stand up comedian and star of her acclaimed Comedy Central program Amy Schumer as a force onscreen.

Simply out, Amy’s got the It Factor. The film (which she wrote, marking the first time Apatow isn’t directing his own material) allows her to showcase her already known comedy skills but also a surprising amount of depth with dramatic material. Trainwreck is both an anti romantic comedy and a very real one. Amy plays Amy, a writer for a trashy men’s magazine who grew with up a philandering and alcoholic dad (Colin Quinn) who preached his dislike for monogamy to Amy at an early age. Her younger sister (Brie Larson) didn’t get the memo and she’s living a suburban life with her sweater clad husband and stepson with a baby on the way. It’s an alien existence to Amy, who relishes her sexual freedom. She’s Daddy’s girl for certain.

An unwanted writing assignment gives her the task of profiling sports doctor Aaron (Bill Hader), medic to superstar athletes including his best bud Lebron James. Amy knows little about his field but soon does what she normally does and her one night stand with Aaron turns into something more. The two enter into a couple territory which petrifies her. He’s ready for it.

What follows is a pic that reverses the typical roles we’re used to seeing in the genre. Amy is more like the dude in this situation. Before her interaction with Aaron turns steady, this allows for some raunchy humor that we expect from the star and the director. A scene of dirty talk gone wrong with a Hulk like beau played by John Cena is a prime example.

Trainwreck, however, is often more serious than the trailers suggest. The subplots involving Amy’s family are treated with some somber undertones. A scene involving our central character at a funeral is wonderfully written and provides that aforementioned evidence of Schumer’s acting skills beyond  her ability to make us laugh.

The pic also provides more proof that Hader is a truly gifted performer and his chemistry with his costar is on point. Their union seems wholly believable and that’s a factor that’s sunk plenty of rom coms that fail. Not here at all.

Tilda Swinton is nearly unrecognizable as Amy’s shallow boss and she is given some amusing material to work with. The casting of Lebron could’ve felt purely like a gimmick, but his exaggerated version of playing himself (as a caring and sensitive cheapskate) is a trip.

This is ultimately Amy’s show though. Her screenplay’s mix of bawdiness with emotional substance usually plays well. There are times when the flaws of Apatow’s filmography creep in. Mainly, it could have certainly been about 20 minutes shorter (a staple with Judd). There’s also a bizarre film within a film displayed a couple times with Daniel Radcliffe and Marisa Tomei that adds nothing.

Where Trainwreck so often works is showcasing the real talent (in front of the camera and on the page) of its star. Schumer is satirizing the genre and also celebrating it, especially as it nears its conclusion. Like her relationship with Aaron, Trainwreck is a little bit messy. Like the character she plays, Trainwreck lacks a little bit of focus. It’s worth it in the end I must say. That applies to the union of our two lead cast members and the movie itself.

*** (out of four)

Trainwreck Box Office Prediction

Comedies from Spy to Entourage to Ted 2 have yet to become the breakout entry in the genre this summer and next Friday, Judd Apatow’s Trainwreck will throw its hat in the ring. The prospects for it are rather promising as the director has had a sterling track record in helping kick start the film careers of Steve Carell, Seth Rogen, and Kristin Wiig.

Trainwreck is the first major starring role for Amy Schumer, the popular standup who’s enjoyed critical acclaim with her Comedy Central show “Inside Amy Schumer”. The pic has an eclectic supporting cast that includes Bill Hader, Tilda Swinton, Brie Larson, John Cena, and, in his first movie role, NBA superstar Lebron James.

The early word is extremely positive and Trainwreck currently stands at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Looking over Apatow’s directorial resume, it would seem to stand a shot at earning his all-time record opening. In order to accomplish that, it’d need to surpass the $30.6 million made by Knocked Up eight summers ago. This is one comedy that could succeed in bringing in a male and female audience (on the male side, it probably doesn’t hurt that the pic was advertised heavily during the NBA Finals, when Mr. James was playing).

Ultimately, I think it will fall a bit short of Apatow’s best debut and open more in line with the Judd produced Bridesmaids, which took in $26.2M in the summer of 2011. Like that, this should do for Schumer what Bridesmaids did for Wiig – herald the announcement of a new comedic force on the silver screen.

Trainwreck opening weekend prediction: $27.8 million

For my Ant-Man prediction, click here:


Todd’s 15 Most Anticipated 2015 Summer Movies: Nos. 10-6

This evening on the blog, part II of my Top 15 Most Anticipated 2015 Summer Movies!

If you missed part one covering numbers 15-11, you can find it right here:


We move forward into the Top Ten with numbers 10-6 before my final installment tomorrow revealing the top five.

Let’s get to it!

10. Ted 2

Release Date: June 26

Seth MacFarlane’s Ted was the comedic hit of summer 2012 with its foul talking teddy bear. Mark Wahlberg is back, though Mila Kunis is out with Amanda Seyfried in. Comedy sequels are a risky proposition, but let’s hope MacFarlane can recapture the magic he made three years ago (and couldn’t duplicate with last summer’s mediocre A Million Ways to Die in the West).

9. Straight Outta Compton

Release Date: August 14

F. Gary Gray, the man responsible for several music videos featuring the film’s subjects as well as Friday and The Italian Job, directs the musical bio of NWA – the highly influential gangsta rap group that included Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and Eazy-E. Dre and Cube serve as producers.

8. Trainwreck

Release Date: July 17

Judd Apatow had a one two punch of comedy classics with 2005’s The 40 Year Old Virgin and 2007’s Knocked Up. His follow-ups, Funny People and This is 40, were just OK. Trainwreck is said to be a return to form based on word of mouth, with comedian Amy Schumer primed for a breakout starring role. Bill Hader and Lebron James (!) co-star.

7. Ant-Man

Release Date: July 17

The last time Marvel Studios had a feature thought to be outside the box and risky, it was last summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy and it turned out to be the season’s biggest hit. This studio knows what they’re doing and here we have Paul Rudd playing the title character with Michael Douglas and Evangeline Lilly in supporting roles.

6. Aloha

Release Date: May 29

For the past decade, Cameron Crowe’s filmography has been unimpressive with Elizabethtown and We Bought a Zoo. Let us not forget, though, that this is the man that brought us Say Anything, Jerry Maguire, and Almost Famous. Crowe’s latest is a romantic comedy with a truly impressive cast – Bradley Cooper (hot off American Sniper), Emma Stone, Bill Murray, Rachel McAdams, Alec Baldwin, and Danny McBride.

And that’ll do it for now, folks! Top five coming at you tomorrow…

LeBron James: My Perspective

It’s been an interesting last few days on my “movie” blog as I write of 90s R&B music and now I’m going even further outside my comfort zone of entertainment and talking about sports. Yes, I’m daring to venture in on the biggest sports story today. No, not the German dismantling of Brazil but LeBron James and what team he’ll be playing for in the 2014-15 season.

As I write this, developments seem to literally be changing minute to minute. That’s at least if you follow NBA writers on Twitter… which I do (and I’ve followed about a dozen that I hadn’t before in the last two days).

Let’s get to a few points that help explain my perspective off the bat:

1) I live in Ohio and have all my life.

2) I have been a Cleveland sports fan all my life – meaning the Cleveland Cavaliers have always been my team.

3) I am an ardent NBA fan.

Obviously this means I’m closely following The Decision: Part II as LeBron decides which team to play for. Does he stay with the Miami Heat where he’s won two championships in the last four years? Or does he take his talents back home to Northeast Ohio where he spent his first seven seasons and won no championships? Those questions alone might lead one to believe Miami is the sensible answer, but not so fast…

The Miami Heat are an aging team with Dwayne Wade a shell of his former self. According to reports, Chris Bosh may be seriously considering an exit to the Houston Rockets where he can be part of another “Big 3” (though most reports believe he stays if LBJ does). And the supporting cast surrounding LBJ, D-Wade, and Bosh is questionable and I don’t believe signing Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger changes that.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are younger and full of potential with point guard Kyrie Irving as a budding superstar and a #1 draft pick in Andrew Wiggins who could be one, too (time will tell).

There are supremely valid arguments for LeBron to stay in Miami or return to Cleveland. If you’re following this saga like me, you’ve read them all. You know the scenarios and pros and cons. And I won’t bore you rehashing them.

Just like four years ago, media speculation is at a fever pitch with rampant speculation. And like four years past, there are probably a handful of people on the Earth who know what’s going to happen. LeBron would be one (if he’s made up his mind). His agent is likely another. Anyone else who thinks they know is suspect.

The world will probably know of The Decision Part II by week’s end. Maybe tonight. Maybe tomorrow. Who knows?

Here is where I wanted to give my perspective from a diehard Cavs fan. There are those who believe it’s a betrayal for a Cavs fan to welcome LBJ back with open arms. And as it is with sports – people’s opinions can be steadfast, unwavering, and a little rough around the edges if you see it a different way than they do.

Perspective is important. I was angry when LeBron James left the Cavs. I was angry for two reasons:

1) The Cleveland Cavaliers are my team and we lost the best player in the world.

2) The ESPN spectacle in which LeBron announced the infamous Decision.

Note that I wasn’t mad at his decision for leaving for Miami. I was mad that my team was losing him and mad at the way he did it. Did I understand why he left? Of course and I said that immediately in the 2010 summer. For seven seasons, the Cavs failed to put a team around him that won a championship. Antawn Jamison is no Pippen to LBJ’s Jordan. Nor is Drew Gooden. An aging Shaquille O’Neal is no Abdul-Jabbar to LBJ’s Magic Johnson. And let’s face it – Mike Brown has proven then and more recently that his coaching is not exactly Pat Riley or Phil Jackson level.

LeBron James leaving for Miami made sense. As a Cavs fan, it kills me to say that. It’s true though. He was able to partner up with teammates that were an improvement to anything he had in Cleveland and be on a program run by Pat Riley, a genius of the sport. Does that change the extreme disappointment of losing the greatest player on my team? Of course not. It also doesn’t mean I’m not sensible enough to recognize it was a better opportunity for him to win a championship… which he did. Twice.

Four years later, the Miami Heat have changed. They may not have what it takes to be title contenders in their current formation. And the players that Cleveland has — ironically, because LBJ left — just might. Time will tell.

About the ESPN PR disaster that was The Decision… it hurt as a Cleveland fan to see him do that. It was inconsiderate. It was tacky. It was arrogant. I did a lot of inconsiderate, tacky, and arrogant things when I was 25. I’m not excusing it. I’m just saying I understand (as Chris Rock might put it).

You know what happened with my extreme hurt of how he handled The Decision? I eventually got over it. Don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t about to root for the Miami Heat and never did and never will. However, I certainly don’t harbor enough ill will anymore that I wouldn’t want the best player on the planet back on my team. That’s because I’m a Cavs fan and their fans should wish for the best. LeBron James is the best. LeBron James gives us the greatest chance to win a championship.

And that’s my perspective on the situation. Truth be told – I have no idea what LeBron is going to do. Neither do you. We will soon find out together. If he comes back, it makes sense. If he stays, it makes sense. I know what I’d like him to do. Yet if he doesn’t – I won’t be filled with the sadness that came four years ago.

Life’s too short, my friends.