From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, hot seat editor, 24th Street bureau, Des Moines, Iowa.
ITEM FIRST: We’re all stuck inside and, if we’re following CDC guidelines, not traveling or gathering for Thanksgiving. So, it’s time for the ol’ Paragraph Stacker to break out some of his patented five-sentence reviews. Plus, he got a free trial of HBO Max’s streaming service to help him get through the crushing grief of not being able to eat Mom 2.0’s dressing.
ITEM SECOND: 5-sentence review of “Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn),” HBO Max, (2020).
- Margot Robbie reprises her role as Harley Quinn, the psychiatrist who fell in love with Batman’s nemesis the Joker first seen on screen in the 2016 stinker “Suicide Squad.”
- Robbie is the best part of both movies, which damns her with faint praise because both movies are awful, though in different ways.
- “Suicide Squad” is awful in the way superhero movies often are: too many characters with no clear purpose or reason to be together fighting a big CGI blob at the end.
- “Birds of Prey” brings together a lot of strong women to portray ill-conceived and unbelievably shallow characters to fight a throng of armed goons that ends with one big, unsatisfying boom.
- There may be an attempt at some underlying attempt at positive messaging about female bonding, but if this is the kind of garbage women have to watch to feel seen and represented in society and art, the patriarchy has a lot more to answer for than previously thought.
ITEM THIRD: 5-sentence review of “Class Action Park,” HBO Max, (2020).
- This documentary alternates between a nostalgic reminisce and grisly crime story of an amusement park in Vernon Township, New Jersey, in the greater New York City area known as Action Park.
- Wall Street hustler Eugene Mulvihill opened the combination water and motorsports park with almost no engineering and no supervision as thousands of New York and New Jersey youth broke bones, ripped off their skin and died on the dangerous rides between 1978 and 1996.
- The film relies heavily on some MTV “Headbangers Ball” footage shot there as well as a tourism video and some home video footage, which limits the visual scope of the film.
- Interviews with patrons and former park workers, as well as the mother of the first person to die at the park, force the viewer to sway between funny anecdotes and true tragedy without much reverence for the dead or their survivors.
- “Class Action Park” is a worthy watch, but as it closes it reinforces two points: Teenagers should never be trusted with anything ever and people from New York and New Jersey are insufferable.
ITEM FOUR: Five-sentence review of “Scoob!,” HBO Max, (2020).
- Scooby-Doo was good exactly one time: in the 1969-70 confusingly punctuated series “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” created by Joe Ruby and Ken Spears.
- Every incarnation after that has diluted the character, from the hour-long “movies” with guest stars such as Phyllis Diller, Tim Conway and the Harlem Globetrotters, to the abysmal creation of Scrappy-Doo.
- Warner Bros. made two live-action movies with a CGI Scooby and Sarah Michelle Gellar of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fame in a very short purple skirt.
- “Scoob!” is an attempt at a love letter for Hanna-Barbera cartoons and attempts to cram in Dastardly and Muttley and the Blue Falcon and Dynomutt into an all-CGI (Does no one draw anymore?) Scooby-Doo movie with a plot that boils down to “friendship fixes everything.”
- The ol’ Paragraph Stacker seldom concedes that when you’re an adult you should put away childish things, but perhaps with Scooby-Doo, it’s better he stick to the originals that gave a few laughs than another redux.
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