Over/Underrated 2015 – Part One

1 Jan

Happy New Year!

I am pleased to ring in the new year once again by celebrating the only time of year my blog seems to have consistent entries! That’s right, folks, it’s time for my bestie Brooklyn and I to channel our inner Michael Ausiello and sum up for you, lucky readers, the highlights and lowlights of popular culture in 2015.

This year was a year unlike any other, in that Brook and I found ourselves with very little to complain about. We are not easily impressed, but 2015 was a year that met our expectations more than it didn’t. Still, that doesn’t mean we didn’t find a few things worth ripping apart critiquing. Like last year, we will review 2015 with five parts of over/underrated, followed by five parts of on pointe and off the mark.

With that said, let the snarky comments begin! 

Please note, all images included in the over/underrated series are from Google images.

Overrated

Fifty Shades of Grey (film)

– Andrea (@prettyandink)

Let’s be clear about one thing. Fifty Shades of Grey was never going to be a good movie. Given the source material, my bar was not set very high. I knew going into the theatre that what I would be viewing was not going to be Oscar material. Still, I was hopeful that Fifty Shades could at least provide me with a couple of hours of fluffy, no-thinking-required entertainment.

Call me naive, but I don’t think my hopes were misplaced. After all, the casting was good. (See 2013’s post about the casting here.) To summarize for you: Jamie Dornan, Calvin Klein underwear model. You’re welcome.

The first trailer set to an on fleek gritty version of Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” teased just the right amount of romance, sex, and Jamie Dornan. Did I mention Jamie Dornan? I’ll admit it. Against my better judgment, I was actually looking forward to the movie. This became even more true when the MPAA announced a firm R rating. Choosing to forgo potentially higher ticket sales in favor of keeping explicit content seemed to be a pledge to the viewers: This will be the movie you want it to be.

Except it wasn’t.

Let’s start with the dialogue. While I am normally all about movie adaptations sticking true to the books they’re based on, there are some things that just should not be said out loud. Yes, the characters in the book say lines as ridiculous as, “If you were mine, you wouldn’t be able to sit down for a week,” and, “I don’t make love. I fuck. Hard.” What makes these lines (barely) tolerable in the book is Ana’s narration. Her inner thought process reveals that she, too, finds these words to be disturbing in a, “Who says shit like that?” kind of way. That doesn’t stop her from overlooking the warning signs and pursuing Christian anyway, but at least we know she’s aware of what she’s getting into. Without that narration to give the dialogue legs to stand on it just comes across as uncomfortable and laughable, in scenes that are definitely not supposed to be funny.

I could have maybe, maybe, gotten over the dialogue if I at least got some steamy romance out of the deal. Except I didn’t.

Dornan and Johnson may have been well cast in terms of their physical appearances, and maybe even in terms of their acting abilities. Whoever screen tested the pair together, though, and thought, “Yes, they have chemistry,” was clearly smoking crack.

Let’s be honest. Fans of the Fifty Shades series are not fans because of the well crafted plot and well developed characters. Women flocked to the movie in droves to see some hot sex between two attractive actors. How disappointing, then, that there was nothing hot about it. Dornan and Johnson may as well have been siblings for all the enthusiasm they portrayed for each other. The storyline requires the two characters to want each other so badly that it turns into a sick and fifty shades of fucked up need. The one and only saving grace in the thin story is the “so wrong it’s right” urgency between the characters. This was something that simply did not come across in Dornan’s and Johnson’s performances.

Soundtrack aside, Fifty Shades of Grey was a disappointment in every way possible, but that didn’t stop the movie from raking in over $560 million worldwide. Still, if you’re one of the few people who haven’t seen the movie, don’t. Similar to how I felt after reading the book, the only thing I have left to say about the movie is, “I’ve seen better.”

Fifty-Shades-of-Grey-Movie-Poster-2

Underrated

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

– Brook (@brooklynhofstad)

This year, Tina Fey bestowed upon us yet another gem from her seemingly endless creative genius. Originally set to debut on NBC, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt premiered on Netflix in March and was as much a breath of fresh air as Kimmy, herself.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt tells the story of the “Indiana Mole Women,” four women held captive in a doomsday cult by the reverend John Wayne Gary Wayne (played by none other than Jon Hamm), their rescue, and their assimilation into modern culture. After the women are interviewed on the Today show, Kimmy Schmidt decides to stay in New York City, and forge a new life for herself.

I enjoyed the hell out of this show for the following reasons:

  • You won’t be able to get the theme song out of your head. It’s basically a newsclip mash-up a la Antoine Dodson or “Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That.” It’s catchy, and just like the show as a whole, is a tongue-in-cheek nod to the societal preoccupation with tabloid soap-opera obsession.

  • It absolutely crucifies millennials. You’d think Netflix would be out to cater to the under-21 crowd, since they seemingly refuse to watch anything on network television, but no. Fifteen-year-old Xanthippe, the step-daughter of Jane Krakowski’s character, is mean, fickle, friends with terrible people, and incredibly self-absorbed. While it is amusing to watch her tease Kimmy for her misuse of modern vernacular and her outdated pop culture references, mostly Xanthippe is a scathing indictment on the youth of today.

  • Seasoned actresses have tons to do on the show (and Tina Fey’s cameo as a scatterbrained, incompetent lawyer is spot on). There’s a line in the theme song: “These females are strong as hell.” And it’s true of all the women in the show. Carol Kane and Jane Krakowksi offer up some of the biggest laughs in the show. Amy Sedaris and Christine Ebersole also turn in memorable performances. In fact, the men in the show (or at least the white men in the show) serve as little more than a parody of themselves, which hardly seems accidental. These females really are strong as hell.

unbreakable

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