iCarly: iBuild A Team

2/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Very much a filler episode that brought back Josh in a desperate attempt to bait audiences with nostalgia.

What more do I need to say about this episode? The a plot is a rivalry between Josh Peck’s Paul and Freddie, played by Nathen Kress, and the b plot is about Harper, played by Laci Mosley, losing her mojo and Spencer, played by Jerry Trainor, facing off against a food critic who is actually an art critic. My, my what delights.

The a plot has a few amusing quips from Carly, played by Miranda Cosgrove, but basically boils down to a cliché jealous love triangle, not in a romantic sense, and a vague excuse to bring back Cosgrove’s co-star from Drake and Josh which reeks of desperation; but hey at least it wasn’t the other one they brought back.

The b plot goes nowhere and does nothing interesting with Spencer or Harper, it basically just kills time until the end. Spencer’s silliness is again dialled up too high to try and make this subplot more interesting but it doesn’t move the needle.

Overall, a weak episode that is clearly filler.

Pros

Carly has a few amusing lines

It is fine to have on in the background whilst doing other things

Cons.

The gimmicky return of Josh Peck

The jealousy arc is cliched and dull

The b storyline feels like filler

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Downton Abbey A New Era: Everyone Likes A Trip To The South Of France

4.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Two interconnected stories of a trip to the south of France and a film shoot.

I never watched the Downton Abbey series and only went to see this film and the one before it because my girlfriend likes the show, but I have to say I did find a lot to like about this film. Most notably it has just the right amount of heart, making you laugh and making you cry in equal measures even I who have no attachment to these characters found it hard to not well up in the end.

Moreover, the film moves along at a nice pace and never starts to feel slow or boring you are constantly being entertained from start to finish. By that same token the performances across the board are fantastic with everyone involved giving it their all, if I had to pick a favourite I would probably say Hugh Dancy’s Jack Barber as he was a very welcome addition to the usual line-up.

I also enjoyed that this film gave Barrow, played by Robert James-Collier, a love interest and was not afraid to pursue an LGBTQ+ romance, I thought not only was it very progressive for the film but it also became the main source of heart in the film, by the end I was really hoping they could be happy together.

Overall, a good time and a lot of fun, even if like me you aren’t a huge Downton fan.

Pros.

The jokes

The emotion

The performances

The LGBTQ+ representation

The ending

Cons.

The brother sub-plot really goes nowhere

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Shining Vale: Courtney Cox’s Comeback

3/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A series about a struggling writer, played by Courtney Cox, who moves out to the country after cheating on her husband, played by Greg Kinnear, and shortly thereafter finds herself coming under the influence of a demon, maybe?

I thought this series had a lot of potential but was quite rough around the edges. Firstly, I thought the social commentary aspect of the show where it talked about struggles with addiction and mental illness, mainly from a female perspective, was for the most part pretty on point. However, there were times when I found the show to be really ramming its message home and operating without any subtlety at all, and a lot can be said for a point made well in a subtle manner being more thought provoking.

Moreover, I thought for the most part the cast was strong, however, I thought Cox played it a bit too straight and at times it came across as though she was just playing a version of her character from Scream. I think a case could be made that Cox was miscast for this show, especially because it is supposed to be a comedy.

For me the comedy didn’t really land either, there were a few moments that made me chuckle but by and large it left me cold.

Overall, a show with undeniable potential but one that needs to be refined and possibly recast.

Pros.

An interesting idea

A few strong points

A strong ending

Cons.

Cox

Sometimes a bit too in your face with its social commentary

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iCarly: iCupid

3.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Feeling as though she has held back Spencer, played by Jerry Trainor, from finding love Carly, played by Miranda Cosgrove, decides to try and set him up.

I will give this episode praise for calling out several things that needed to be. Firstly it points out how weirdly close Spencer and Carly are and then secondly it has Freddie, played by Nathan Kress, standing up to the women in his life and stop being a doormat who is easily pushed around by other people.

Within the a plot I liked that Spencer and Carly’s relationship was front and centre and that they developed it in a meaningful way, with Carly saying that Spencer was like a father to her. Rachel Bloom as Mckenna the matchmaker was okay, but bordered on the side of annoying, also I thought some of the ideas put forward by her character in the episode as to what constitutes a red flag were problematic and sent a bad message. Labelling being short as a red flag seems inherently discriminatory and is clearly example of heightism.

Within the b plot Freddie had to stand up to his mother, played by Mary Scheer, and his adoptive daughter, played by Jaidyn Triplett, and tell them they don’t get a say in his dating life. I found this to be a very cathartic character moment for Freddie as for a while he has done whatever those around him tell him to do and it is nice to see him asserting himself.

Overall, some good character, only made slightly worse by an annoying matchmaker and some questionable morals.

Pros.

Good character work

Carly acknowledging Spencer as a stand-in father

Freddie finally standing up for himself

Cons.

The heightism

Bloom’s whole character

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iCarly: iHire A New Assistant

2.5/5      

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Carly’s grandfather, played by Greg Mullavey, shows up for a visit and becomes Carly’s new assistant.

I think a lot of this new season of iCarly has the same issue, either a really good a story and a terrible b plot or a terrible a story and a good b plot, this episode was no different.

I disliked almost everything about the Grandad Shay character, I thought he was annoying and used to make the same lame predictable jokes you would expect from an old meets young storyline. Moreover, through this introduction Spencer, played by Jerry Trainor, becomes even worse as a character- this season really hasn’t been kind. Throughout the a story of this episode Spencer debases himself to try and get his grandfather’s love and then begrudgingly gets it at the end, this could have worked on some level, however, the ending of the episode doesn’t feel earned and instead feels written for convenience.

The saving grace of this episode comes from the Freddie, played by Nathan Kress, and Harper, played by Laci Mosley, side story wherein it seems like Freddie and Harper might be soulmates based on their birth charts. I thought this b plot was genuinely quite funny and the characters worked well within it, I thought that Freddie and Harper made for a good pairing and I would like to see more of them having their own adventures in the coming episodes.

Overall, the b plot manages to stop the episode from being bad and does provide some shielding, however, the whole Grandad Shay narrative was trite and I hope the show does not bring him back again.

Pros.

Freddie and Harper

A few good jokes

Cons.

Grandad Shay

The old man jokes were super obvious and lame

They made Spencer even worse   

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The Fairly Oddparents Fairly Odder: Yikes On Multiple Levels

0.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Due to Paramount + lacking content the higher ups forced through a hybrid live action version of The Fairly OddParents, and rather unsurprisingly it crashed and burnt horribly.

On multiple levels this show is a mess, so much so that I can’t see how those making it didn’t foresee how it was going to turn out, in my mind since the ideas inception it was clear this was destined for the scrap head. I understand that Butch Hartman has become somewhat of an internet bogeyman and so needs to cling to this franchise to keep the lights on, but come on Butch you’re driving your cash cow over a cliff and to certain death.

I think the biggest issue with this show is that the hybrid approach doesn’t work, in my mind The Fairly OddParents is and always should be an animated show, the previous jumps to live action with the deviant staring films didn’t work so they really should have realised that this was not the way forward. It is not just that the hybrid approach doesn’t work, but whenever there is an animated character on screen the show seems to come apart at the seams and become a hodgepodge of issues.

Moreover, the idea to create a new lead is a bold idea, it doesn’t pay off at all and it ends up feeling like it was only done for the sake of appealing to a younger audience, whilst still being in some way tied into the older show. However, the real issue with this series is the fact that damn near every character is awful, either as a person or as an inferior carbon copy of the original series, some of the characters bare the same name as those from the original series but in no way hold a candle to them. In addition the way young characters are written in this show in terms of dialogue screams to me of a group of aging executives trying to remember buzz words they have heard from their grandkids and force them in. In reality I don’t think anyone ever talks like how they do on this show.

Pros.

Sometimes it is unintentionally funny

Cons.

The characters suck

The animation seems like it was done on the cheap

The hybrid approach doesn’t work

The decision to create a new lead has no effect and changes very little for the better

It defiles the reputation of the brand at every turn   

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The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent: The Best Nicolas Cage Film

5/5         

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Nicolas Cage is paid to attend a wealthy man’s birthday party, once there he is forced into working for the CIA.

This was one of the best films I have seen in a long time, it never stopped making me smile.

I am a big fan of Nicolas Cage so I loved every second of this film, which is basically a love letter to Cage as well as to all of his fans out there; this is what the fans always wanted to see Cage at his full blown craziest. I do think you can be a fair-weather Cage fan or even a newbie to Cage and still get some enjoyment out of this film as it is simply just a really good time anyway.

Both Pedro Pascal, who plays the man Cage is paid to spend time with, and Cage himself are both having a lot of fun and you can tell that in every frame of this film. Their friendship is not only easy to root for but also one that you hope carried over outside of the film. The two had such great chemistry that I would love to see them star in a bunch more films together.

I thought the finale with the bang bang action set pieces was a weak point of the film but I enjoyed that it self-referenced this within the meta commentary of the film the two characters were making. We like them would have preferred for the film to be a serious drama about two men bonding over a shared love of Paddington 2 but as they say in the film ‘you need something for the trailer’.

Overall, one of the most enjoyable experiences I have had an the cinema in a long time.

Pros.

Cage

Pascal

The comedy

The meta references

The love towards the filmography of Cage

Cons.

None

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iCarly: i’M Wild And Crazy

3.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Carly, played by Miranda Cosgrove, realises she is the boring one of the friend group and so asks Harper, played by Laci Mosley, to take her on a wild night out.

This was a nice episode for the most part. I enjoyed seeing more of Harper and Carly’s friendship on screen and have them both get some much needed character development. I thought it was nice to see the series reference back to Harper’s breakup and her processing period rather than just move immediately past it and act like it never happened. I thought both Cosgrove and Mosley were on top form here as well.

However, the b-plot about Freddie, played by Nathan Kress, and Spencer, played by Jerry Trainor, coming to blows over there business partnership was not only dull but it also brought out the worst in Spencer as a character. I have written before in other reviews about how I dislike that the show treats Spencer as a constant get out of jail free card, with his undetermined wealth allowing him to do practically anything, it feels like lazy writing and it is on perfect display in this episode. The conflict between Spencer and Freddie comes about as Spencer buys them an old smoothie bar as an office location for their business and then slowly loses interest in their start-up and instead wants to restore the old smoothie bar. Within this conflict not only do we get yet another lazy set up paid for by Spencer’s magical wealth, but also Spencer being his most childish and ridiculous. These last few episodes have really gone out of their way to show that as an adult Spencer is a failure, he can barely function in the adult world and just throws money at things to make them go away, and though I never thought he was the most efficient character ever, I did think he was more competent than this. It is sad to see the character reduced so much.

Overall, a better episode than the last but the show needs to decide what it want to do with Spencer as a character.

Pros.

Carly and Harper’s friendship explored in more depth

Cosgrove

Mosley

The references to Harper’s break-up and the character growth

Cons.

Spencer is being reduced to a poor cliché

The b-plot serves no purpose

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The Lost City: Daniel Radcliffe Continues His Journey Into Strange

3/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

A romance novelist, played by Sandra Bullock, and her cover model, played by Channing Tatum find themselves deep within the jungle, on an Indiana Jones like adventure.

Honestly I enjoyed the trailer for this film more than the film itself, which is sad as I had been eagerly awaiting this film for some time. I thought a lot of the film’s best jokes were wasted on the trailer, leaving the actual viewing experience as devoid of humour, with me laughing maybe once or twice at most.

I thought for the most part this was a deeply generic adventure film though it had its moments. I enjoyed the romantic connection between Bullock and Tatum, I thought they had great chemistry and were a very strong on screen pairing. Moreover, this film is a strong return to form for Tatum and marks yet another good step in his return to the big screen following on from a great performance in Dog. Likewise, Daniel Radcliff continues his journey as one of the most versatile and strangest performers in Hollywood with his character being a highlight of the film, whenever he came on screen the film seemed to pick up.

However, on the other hand this was a very by the numbers performance for Bullock, and Brad Pitt was barely in this film, again all his best bits were used in the trailer, clearly they couldn’t afford his day rate.

Another big issue I had with this film was its tameness, clearly in the beginning this film was supposed to be raunchier than it is, but was then made tamer to appeal to a wider audience in my mind this was a huge mistake.

Overall, entertaining but disappointing in the long run.

 Pros.

Tatum

Radcliffe

It is very watchable

Cons.

Pitt

A lot of the good jokes were spoiled by the trailer

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The Nan Movie: Elder Abuse

1.5/5

Written by Luke Barnes

Summary

Catherine Tate tries to resurrect her career by bringing one of her characters from her noughties sketch show to the feature film realm, with rather unsurprisingly negative results.

Who was this made for? I am curious as this didn’t act as a gateway into Tate’s sketch show so it can’t have been for new audiences, maybe it was made for older fans but then if that was the case then why wait so long? It doesn’t make sense.

This films brand of comedy has not been funny or in vogue for about 10 years. This comedy can only be described as laughing at those with differences, the Little Britain sense of humour. There were multiple jokes in this film were the punchline was the fact that the lead, played by Tate, was being homophobic or laughing at a man in drag, not only is this not funny but it is borderline offensive. I am not one of those people to get up in arms over something not being PC, but here it felt mean spirited, excused away by ‘oh the joke is her reaction and her attitudes’, to me it felt like Tate and her fellow co-writer couldn’t think of any funny jokes so just decided to bash people not like them.

Moreover, I was sad to see Katherine Parkinson in this as she is so above this kind of slop that slumming it would be an understatement, I hope she at least got a big pay out for this appearance. The flashback stuff worked well, perhaps better than the present day sequences that range from nonsensical to desperate, sadly the flashbacks are undercut by the rest of the film and clash horribly.

Overall, a desperate film made for a bygone age.

Pros.

It is watchable

The flashbacks work well

Cons.

It isn’t funny

It is offensive

It wastes the talents of Katherine Parkinson

It is dull

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