Happy Thursday! Today’s recommendation is for a crime comedy that had me laughing harder than I have in months. Plus, a modern classic for a perfect double feature.
In movie news: NYC’s Paris Theater — the last remaining single-screen theater in the city — will permanently reopen its doors with a one-week-long program selected by Radha Blank. Her excellent film The 40-Year-Old Version will screen alongside films like The Apartment, Waiting for Guffman, and Dog Day Afternoon. Tickets here.
Have a gorgeous weekend!
Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar 🏖
Two middle-aged, culotte-clad best friends Barb (Annie Mumulo) and Star (Kristen Wiig) leave their Midwest small town for the first time to vacation in Vista Del Mar, Florida. Meanwhile, an eccentric villain, Sharon Fisherman (also Wiig) and her henchman/sorta lover Edgar (Jamie Dornan) are plotting to destroy the town. But no worries, Barb and Star are on the case! Here's the trailer.
Why you should watch it: It’s been a while since we got a proper kitschy farcical romp that has no other agenda than to make you laugh. Reminiscent of the Austin Powers satirical chiding of James Bond — except unproblematic — Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is filled with silly disguises, not-so-thought-out master plans, and two best friends learning to let loose for once — and maybe trying some recreational drugs.
While it could have easily felt like a Saturday Night Live sketch that went on too long, Barb and Star is constantly changing. It adds new gags, new jokes, and subverts your expectations with its absurdity (there is more than one musical number and at least one drug-induced montage where Jamie Dornan plays the steel drums). It’s the exact kind of smart dumb humor that is made for me. 107 mins.
Knives Out 🗡
The wealthy Thrombey family is shaken when their patriarch Harlan (Christopher Plummer), a famed crime novelist, is found dead the day after his 85th birthday. Detective Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), hired by a mysterious benefactor, is tasked with solving how Harlan died. Was it a member of the family, the staff, or something more convoluted? Here's the trailer.
Why you should watch it: Knives Out is a whodunnit done well (*holds for applause*). Leave it to Rian Johnson, who managed to piece together one of the most compelling Star Wars movies with The Last Jedi, to construct a nearly perfect murder mystery. Despite the many twists and turns, all the pieces to solve the mystery are always there. You can truly solve the puzzle.
That doesn’t stop him from going on a devilishly hilarious romp with it. Funny with a sharp wit, brilliant without pretension, and as relevant a takedown of performative wokeness as any other satire. Knives Out begs to be watched over and over. 87 mins.