Sunday, July 3, 2016

Series: Summer Lovin' -- Week 15

As we head into the fourth of July weekend (for all of our American friends), it's hard to believe that it's already July. In a few weeks, the biggest convention in the United States — and probably the world — will be happening in San Diego. And after all the dust and cosplay costumes settle, it'll be close to August. But before we get ahead of ourselves too much, let's continue to celebrate the summertime the only way our staff really knows how: by talking about what we love!

This week, I'm joined by:

Let's get started!


What Jenn's lovin': The Fundamentals of Caring

Why she's lovin' it: In a move that's entirely unprecedented for me, I watched four movies over the course of three days. And while I really enjoyed Spotlight (the concept was simple which caused the performances — especially Mark Ruffalo's — to shine), Save the Date (any movie with Lizzy Caplan and Alison Brie as sisters is a keeper in my book), and The LEGO Movie (I did not expect that plot twist and got a little misty-eyed), the one that I'm really lovin' this week is Netflix's original The Fundamentals of Caring. Very recently added, it immediately made my queue for a few reasons. First, it seemed like it would be a quirky comedy, full of off-color humor and a stellar soundtrack. But secondly, and perhaps most importantly, it had a cast I believed in. Paul Rudd, the ageless wonder, plays Ben, a former writer turned caregiver whose patient — a mouthy, sarcastic teenager who suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy (played expertly by Craig Roberts) — wants to see the world, but doesn't want to actually live in it. The two take a road trip to see sights that Trevor has marked off on a map: the weirdest roadside attractions. While on the road, they meet Dot (Selena Gomez), a runaway who's got an attitude to rival Trevor's.

Critics didn't really care for this movie, and I guess I can maybe see why. To most of them, the plot is nothing extraordinary. But honestly, I think that's where the movie's beauty comes from. It's a story that doesn't do anything crazy or grand just for the sake of having shock and awe included. And what really moved me and why I loved the film so much was because the cast totally and completely sold their characters to me. Paul Rudd is exceptional, and it's one of the best performances I've seen from him recently. Selena Gomez's character will cause you to see her in a whole new light, but I loved it. I loved the grit and anger and bitterness she brought to her character, while still being able to find the warmth within Dot. And Craig Roberts is perfection as Trevor. He's a really divisive character and you spend most of the movie wanting to smack him. But he's more complex than he appears, and Roberts does a great job conveying those facets of his personality.

I can say with certainty that The Fundamentals of Caring is worth watching. I was never bored, and I think that the film did an incredible job of mining some really complex, really great character moments from a good plot. You'll laugh and you'll cry, and you'll probably be in awe of the actors just like I was.

Bonus lovin': Re-watching Psych

I haven't re-watched Psych in its entirety since my initial watch, but this weekend I spent (way too much) time re-watching episode arcs — in particular the Yin/Yang one — and was reminded of exactly why this show needs a reunion special or a movie ASAP. I cannot recommend this show to you all enough. If you're in the market for an extremely well-written comedy with zappy one-liners, pop culture references, and hilarious continuity, this is the show for you. I was reminded upon my re-watches just how tightly written the show really is. It's comedy is its crown jewel, and James Roday deserves every award possible for the time he spent acting, writing, and directing episodes in the show. The relationships between the characters are just so stellar and the cast has energy and chemistry in spades. But while Psych's exceptional writing made it an equally exceptional comedy, it's the show's ability to turn on a dime and deliver exquisite drama that really gets me. I've overtly sobbed at this show, and I can say with certainty that I've also been at the edge of my seat, too, hands partially covering my eyes because of its ability to tell dramatic and suspenseful stories just as well as comedic ones.

If you don't have a show you're currently binge-watching on Netflix, please make this one your next stop. And be sure to tell me when you do! (Also, see if you can spot the pineapples. That... will make sense later.)


What Jennifer’s lovin’: The swimming Olympic Trials

Why she’s lovin’ it: This doesn’t really need an explanation, does it? First of all, it’s the Olympic Trials, which means a week of intense competition, unfettered joy for those who make it and crushing heartbreak for those who don’t. It’s the kind of drama that most TV and movies can only aspire to, made even better because it’s real life. The lead up to the Olympics is always my favorite part of the Olympic year. There is just so much potential, so much possibility, and while I’m partial to gymnastics as a sport, swimming has a very special place in my heart. The reason? The photo above. Look at them. Words cannot describe the ultimate attractiveness possessed by a world-class swimmer. Tall, lean, perfect muscles, conveniently dripping wet most of the time... my love for this sport isn’t entirely shallow, but it’s a definite bonus.

In 2016, all my favorites from four years ago are back in action in the pool. Michael Phelps, who insisted four years ago that he was done (LIAR!); Ryan Lochte, who is adorable until he opens his mouth; Connor Dwyer with his awkward little smile. And my personal favorite, Nathan Adrian, who always seems to pull out a win, even when everyone counts him out.


It’s been a great week of competition and I can’t wait to see these guys in Rio!

What Julia’s lovin’: ABC’s “Sunday Fun and Games” block

Why she’s lovin’ it: It’s hard to find a good drama or comedy to watch over the summer, so I always look forward to tuning in to game shows. There are rarely any game shows shown in primetime during the normal TV season, so there’s usually a plethora of them ready to go every summer. I was extremely excited to hear that ABC was going to devote their entire Sunday night programming block to bring back some popular shows. Dubbed “Sunday Fun and Games,” we get a three-hour relaxation period that includes some of your favorite celebrities playing Celebrity Family Feud, The $100,000 Pyramid, and Match Game.

ABC started Celebrity Family Feud last summer, and it was my favorite show to watch. Host Steve Harvey is absolutely hilarious and always has a joke lined up for when a celebrity gives a dumb answer. I was glad that ABC decided to bring Feud back to primetime for the summer because it’s hands down the funniest game show and most fun hour on television. I also enjoy that Harvey’s Feud has more adult questions that require sly thinking to say inappropriate answers.

Michael Strahan hosts The $100,000 Pyramid, which airs right after Feud. I had never seen the show prior to last Sunday, but it’s actually pretty fun. Pyramid is more family-friendly and contains celebrities and regular people struggling hard to explain a simple word. Rosie O’Donnell was especially hilarious in the debut episode as she blurted out some good quips. The only issue with Pyramid is that some of the categories are very easy while some are extremely challenging. Every board seems to have one tough set of words with a slew of easy sets surrounding it, which made the game pretty unfair to the team that had the harder set. I would like to see the game be harder in general because the first contestants were able to win a lot of money very easily.

The other revival, Match Game, is hosted by Alec Baldwin, who does a much better job at hosting than you would think. Match Game wound up being the funniest of the three game shows due to the celebrities that graced the panel. However, both this show and Pyramid have very similar issues, as Match Game’s questions are all over the place in terms of difficulty. I felt that the questions should all be consistently difficult because the show becomes useless otherwise. Overall, I really enjoyed ABC’s “Sunday Fun and Games” debut. Each show found its own comedy without copying the others. All the hosts and contestants were hilarious, so hopefully the next few weeks can keep up the pace. Watching three hours’ worth of game shows is the best way to cap the weekend, and it’s lots of mindless fun.

What Megan’s lovin’: Animal Kingdom

Why she’s lovin’ it: I absolutely loved the 2010 Australian film Animal Kingdom starring Jacki Weaver (who was nominated for an Oscar and Golden Globe for her performance), Guy Pearce, and Joel Edgerton. So when I found out that TNT was adapting it for the small screen, I practically jumped out of my seat.

Animal Kingdom tells the story of a teenager named J whose mother dies and calls the only person he can think of: his grandmother, who he hasn’t spoken to in years. She picks him up and he’s thrust into a world of crime and a family that his mother spent his entire life protecting him from. His life is flipped upside down and he has to navigate a way to survive it.

What I loved about the original film was how gritty and no-holds-barred it was. It took the crime family to new heights in the sense that it was just a mother as the ringleader and her band of delinquent sons doing the dirty work all while living in the suburbs. She was a take-no-prisoners kind of lady and I loved that and was so excited when Ellen Barkin lived up to what Jacki Weaver had already brought to the character. It’s a dynamic that is rarely seen and I love, love, love it.

It also takes what happened in the movie and flushes it out more since it’s a series. It allows for more character growth and more of a fleshed out storyline. So much more can happen, which is so satisfying as a viewer. It’s high stakes, fast-paced, and you just want to know what happens next. Also, the cast is super hot in that rugged, tattooed, long hair, California kind of way.

If the series is a little too much for you, the movie is certainly worth a watch. But if you like that heart-stopping action and drama, the on the edge of your seat "are-they-going-to-get-away-with-it suspense," this is definitely the show for you. Catch up now and watch new episodes on Tuesday nights on TNT!

What are you lovin' this week? Let us know in the comments below!


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