Skip this flashy new Netflix show
And Spidey 3 coming early for some
What to know
Being the Ricardos delights critics, Encanto gets passing grade, and Cowboy Bebop flops… This week’s critic reactions are in and well, two out of three ain’t bad. Despite some backlash to Nicole Kidman’s depiction of Lucy in the most recent trailer, Aaron Sorkin’s backstage drama is getting positive praise. Disney’s latest toon, with songs from Lin-Manuel Miranda, is also netting out on the plus side, but some critics found it formulaic. And then there’s Cowboy Bebop, Netflix’s highly-anticipated anime adaptation. Best to skip that one. 🍅
Spider-Man No Way Home to debut 2 days early in the UK… As if avoiding spoilers wasn’t a problem already with this trilogy-capper, it’s going to be a nightmare the week of release. If you’re serious about not having No Way Home spoiled for you, my advice would be to stay off social media as much as you can starting Dec. 15 and see it as soon as you can starting Dec. 17 stateside. In other Spidey news, a new trailer is coming tomorrow. 🕷
Patty Jenkins’ Star Wars Rogue Squadron delayed over reported “creative differences”… Lucasfilm having creative differences with a director — where have I heard that before? Episode 9, Rogue One, and Solo? Right. What’s going on at Lucasfilm and its relationship with directors? This is a very odd pattern. 🎥
Marvel VP says T’Challa won’t be recast… That is probably for the best as the role is so synonymous with Chadwick Boseman and his legacy. But I wouldn’t put it past Marvel to introduce a multiversal variant of the character at some point down the line. 🐆
Pee-Wee Hermann to host one-off radio show on KCRW… I suppose Paul Reubens has figured out that the kids who grew up watching Pee-Wee are now NPR listeners. 📻
Barney the Dinosaur to get Peacock documentary treatment… speaking of documentaries about precocious kids learning life lessons 🦖
For more pop culture news, discussion, and what-to-watch recommendations subscribe to my pals over on the Kickball Friends podcast. 🎙
What’s new this week:
Cowboy Bebop — Nov 19 Netflix sci-fi series | 🍅 39%
The Wheel of Time — Nov 19 Amazon fantasy series | 🍅
King Richard — Nov 19 HBO Max & theaters drama film | 🍅 92%
tick, tick… BOOM! — Nov 19 Netflix & theaters musical film | 🍅 90%
Ghostbusters: Afterlife — Nov 19 in theaters sci-fi family film | 🍅 73%
What to watch:
I am about to drop a seriously alternative take. Are you ready? Here it goes: Home Sweet Home Alone, now on Disney+, is good. Yes, it has 17% on RottenTomatoes, so you might not believe me — but in my estimation, it deserves a lot better than the savaging it received from critics.
Let’s start with the script from SNL duo Mikey Day and Streeter Seidell. So many remakes are beat-for-beat covers of the original that end up feeling stale and unnecessary. Day and Seidell had a genuinely good idea for avoiding this problem by inverting the original premise of Home Alone. What if the burglars are good-intentioned heroes and the menacing kid left alone is a bit of a misguided heel? It turns out you can build a kinder, more sensical, and modern version of Home Alone based purely on farcical misunderstandings. Many of the critics weren’t fond of this inversion, but to me it felt fresh and unexpected.
The slapstick humor doesn’t always work, but the rest of the script (especially the first hour) is packed with funny bits and a deep bench of more than capable comedy people (Ellie Kemper, Rob Delaney, Pete Holmes, Kenan Thompson, Tim Simons, Andy Daly, Chris Parnell). Day and Seidell also make shockingly good use of canon from the Home Alone. Rather than leaving winks to the original as lifeless easter eggs, they bring in Devin Ratray (Buzz McAllister) to move along an important plot point. The reference plays for fans but also moves the plot forward in a key way.
Maybe I’m a sucker for John Williams’ “Somewhere in My Memory,” but I found this sequel to be a competent and comical update. Will it become an enduring classic like John Hughes’ original? Of course not, but it’s not as bad as some would have you believe either.