Now Playing! May 2021

    We’ve had an undeniably difficult year (and counting), and with the hope of a real summer on the horizon, what better time to enjoy the best comedy and action movies of the year so far! The films in this month’s column are alive with new energy, bringing stellar innovations to each genre through groundbreaking humor, fresh storylines, and truly gargantuan special effects. Ultimately, each film shows us the beauty in chaos, and what we can learn from everything wild, unexpected, and absurd.

    Bad Trip (2020)

    Dir. Kitao Sakurai – Netflix – Comedy 

    In Bad Trip, Eric Andre disrupts and brings chaos to otherwise ordinary days, and we should all thank him for it. In this joyfully outlandish hidden camera comedy, Eric Andre plays Chris, a man who runs into his high school crush Maria while working at a car wash. Vowing to follow his true love to New York, Chris and his best friend Bud (Lil Rel Howery) steal a car and embark on a road trip. The car belongs to Bud’s sister Trina, hilariously played by Tiffany Haddish, who follows the two on her own road trip to get it back. The pranks along the way are so over-the-top hilarious that you may have to pause the film to get a breath in between laughs, and Eric Andre’s ability to bring a wide range of emotions from bystanders, from discomfort to horror to joy, is truly remarkable. In combining an anarchic, punk rock sensibility with extravagant comedy theatrics, Andre displays a subversive style all his own. 

    Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)

    Dir. Adam Wingard – HBO Max – Sci-Fi/Action 

    There’s nothing much more satisfying than seeing Godzilla and King Kong duke it out. The film is already a smash hit, breaking box office records as the most-streamed film on HBO Max to date. The film opens with human society trying to peacefully coexist with the titans. When Godzilla begins an unexpected and ceaseless quest for destruction, scientists realize that their only hope to defeat the creature lies in fellow titan King Kong. The film is the fourth installment of the MonsterVerse franchise, but you’ll be more than fine if you haven’t seen the preceding films. The cast is incredible, featuring Millie Bobby Brown, Brian Tyree Henry, and talented newcomer Kaylee Hottle, among others. The film’s soundtrack is super fun as well, full of seventies hits that pair beautifully with the film’s glistening special effects. 

    Moxie (2021)

    Dir. Amy Poehler – Netflix – Teen Comedy/Drama

    Amy Poehler’s new coming-of-age film has a big heart. The film follows Vivian, a young girl who starts publishing and distributing a zine after learning about her mom’s past in the riot grrrl feminist movement. As copies get passed around school, Vivian meets other students interested in protesting the racism and misogyny present among the student body. The film’s cast is wonderful, including terrific performances from Alycia Pascual-Peña, Nico Hiraga, and Amy Poehler as Vivian’s mom. The movie may have its flaws, but it’s well worth a watch and a surprisingly touching Mother’s Day film.

    Shiva Baby (2020)

    Dir. Emma Seligman – $6.99 Rental on Amazon Prime, YouTube, or Apple TV – Comedy 

    Emma Seligman’s new film may not be for everyone, as the level of cringe can be nearly unbearable at times. It is, however, a remarkably one-of-a-kind comedy. The film follows Danielle, a college student who attends a Shiva with her parents, only to run into her ex-girlfriend, her sugar daddy, and his wife and baby. The film takes the awkward encounter to nightmarish heights, with some critics referring to the film as more of a horror movie than a comedy. Still, the film’s humor is strong, with no wasted line in the script. Though the entire cast is great, Rachel Sennott carries the film as Danielle and proves she is a talent to watch. The actress gives a truly compelling performance, and regardless of how you feel about her character’s behavior, it’s impossible to look away.