Posts Tagged ‘keegan-michael key’

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The Defiant Ones (2017) & Friends From College: Season 1 (2017)

August 11, 2017

The Defiant Ones (2017), HBO – This is four part documentary series on HBO that tells the stories of famed record executive Jimmy Iovine and gangster rap pioneer Dr. Dre. It’s a must watch for hip-hop fans and really anyone that truly appreciates music would probably enjoy it. It covers a lot of the stuff we already saw in the 2015 film Straight Outta Compton, but fills in some of the holes and tells a much more authentic story. And really, this is an era of music that I grew up on and love to death, so I don’t mind revisiting its roots multiple times. Jimmy Iovine’s story adds variety to the hip-hop stuff as he has also worked with artists like Bruce Springsteen, Marilyn Manson, and No Doubt to name a few. But what both of these moguls did was push the boundaries of what was thought to be acceptable – or even possible – in the music industry and have reached levels of success that are astronomical and extend far beyond merely making music. The Defiant Ones is very engaging for the viewer and quite a breeze for a four part series. Highly recommended.

Replay Value: I would watch this again like… tomorrow.
Sequel Potential: N/A
Oscar Potential: Not sure where this would fall in the Oscar categories, but it should have some Emmy potential, which I’m far less familiar with.

Grade: 4.5/5 (Close to a Must Watch)

Friends From College: Season One (2017), Netflix – A Netflix original series starring Keegan-Michael Key (Key & Peele), Colbie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother), and Fred Savage (The Wonder Years) about a group of old friends that reconnect as adults and… act like total assholes 100% of the time. There are multiple affairs, abundant drug and alcohol abuse, and basically every major character makes horrible decisions – and honestly, I’m not even sure this is a comedy. There are definitely moments that are meant to be funny and most of the actors have a comedic background, but the tone of the show comes across as serious and dramatic a lot of the time and I have to say it doesn’t really work. It doesn’t help that none of the characters are likable, with maybe the exception of Billy Eichner’s Felix. I’m not one to start a show and not finish it, so I made it all the way through the whole season, but if you look at this cast and think the show should be funny and enjoyable, you will probably wind up as disappointed as I was. I guess I’d watch a second season, especially if it’s only another eight episodes, but it would be more akin to looking at a car accident as you drive past it than something I’m actually looking forward to. The first season wasn’t good and there’s a lot of wasted talent in this series.

Replay Value: None.
Sequel Potential: The show hasn’t been renewed yet and if the rest of the world felt like I did, it might not get a second season.

Grade: 2/5 (Not Recommended)

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Don’t Think Twice (2016)

February 6, 2017

Starring: Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Mike Birbiglia
Director: Mike Birbiglia

Bottom Line: Written, directed, and starring Mike Birbiglia, Don’t Think Twice takes a look at what life is like for a group of mid-level improv comedians in New York City trying to break through to the next level – in this case, a “Saturday Night Live” type show called “Weekend Live” – and what happens when one of them does exactly that.

As a poker player, I could actually relate to a lot of what was happening in this movie. Not everyone is created equally. Some people are just naturally gifted. Others work their butts off to become great at their craft. Some people can’t reach elite status no matter how hard they try and then there’s a type of person that just expects things to go their way despite a total lack of effort.

There’s a lot of this dynamic going on in Don’t Think Twice. Keegan-Michael Key plays Jack Mercer, the most naturally gifted in the improv group, and also the sole member to find himself cast in “Weekend Live.” Naturally, the rest of the group wants to piggyback on his success and Jack quickly discovers how difficult it is for the rookie to start asking for favors. And truly, the only group member he really wants to help out is his girlfriend (Jacobs).

It’s interesting watching this group of people that support one another so enthusiastically at the beginning of the film succumb to jealousy when one of their friends finally makes it. At least that’s the case with Mike Birbiglia’s character Miles, the group leader and Jack Mercer’s first improv teacher. As his former mentor, Miles naturally thinks he’s directly responsible for Jack’s success and can’t really wrap his head around why “Weekend Live” wouldn’t want him too.

Don’t Think Twice was my first time seeing Keegan-Michael Key (of “Key and Peele”) and Gillian Jacobs (of “Community”) act in a feature film and I was mostly pleased with their performances. Everybody gets some funny moments, but Key actually gets to show off some dramatic acting chops, while Jacobs isn’t given much to separate herself from the Britta character we already know and love.

One of the better scenes in the film finds the group watching Jack’s first appearance on “Weekend Live” and lamenting on how bad the show is now and wondering if it was ever good, or it just seemed that way because they were 12… which is pretty much how everyone in their mid-30s feels about “Saturday Night Live” now.

Don’t Think Twice is a satisfying dramedy that will make you laugh and possibly make you cry. I wish there were more improv scenes and that those scenes were more diverse, but alas, they are still pretty good. I appreciated the fact that Don’t Think Twice managed to be funny without relying on much low brow humor. If you’re expecting nonstop laughs, you might be disappointed. Instead, you’re just going to have to settle for a well-rounded film full of heart.

Replay Value: I liked it, but I’m not eager to see it again.
Sequel Potential: I would say zero.
Oscar Potential: No nominations.

Grade: 7/10 (highly enjoyable)