Richard joins CP24 to have a look at Canadian movies and television shows coming to VOD and streaming services. Today we talk about the second season of “Only Murders in the Building,” the mystery comedy starring Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez on Disney+, the return of the sci fi head scratcher “Westworld” on Crave and the season four, volume two of “Stranger Things” on Netflix.
Richard speaks to “CTV News at Six” anchor Andria Case about the best movies and television to watch this weekend. This week we have a look at the Disney+ series “Only Murders in the Building” with Steve Martin, Martin Short and Selena Gomez, the Jeff Daniels drama “American Rust” and the rom com “Finding You” in theatres.
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to VOD and streaming services including the Netflix animated movie “The Willoughbys,” the Netflix doc “Circus of Books,” the high school crime drama “Selah and the Spades” and a pair of big screen movies coming to VOD, “Bad Boys for Life” and “Run This Town.”
Based on a book by Lois Lowry, “The Willoughbys,” a new animated film now available on Netflix, is a parody of “old fashioned” classic children’s stories where terrible things happen, babies are abandoned, long-lost relatives show up and nannies look after the kids. Yet somehow, a happy ending and a lesson or two always emerge from the chaos.
Narrated by Ricky Gervais—”I’m the narrator. And a cat. Get over it, yeah.”—the story takes place at the Willoughby mansion, a home tucked away between two skyscrapers, hidden from the modern world. The family has a long and distinguished legacy of tradition, invention creativity and courage. “Their greatness passed down from generation to generation like their magnificent facial hair,” says the narrator, “until this one.” Enter the youngest son (Martin Short) and his new bride (Jane Krakowski). Madly in love, they only have eyes for one another. They don’t even care for their kids. “I am your father and that woman in there you insulted with your rude burp is your mother,” father says to eldest son Tim (Will Forte). “If you need love, I beg of you, find it elsewhere. Thank you.”
All they gave Tim was their name, and siblings Jane (Alessia Cara) and twins, both named Barnaby (Sean Cullen). “Let’s face it this Willoughby family isn’t great,” says the narrator, “and by the looks of it, they never will be. Not without a little help.”
So the kids hatch a plan to create a better life for themselves. “We can send them away!” says Tim. “What if we orphaned ourselves? We shall craft a murderous adventure that gives our insidious parents exactly what they want.” “To be left alone with their love!” says Jane.
Tim concocts a “a romantic get-a-way hiding deadly orphaning opportunities. If they do not melt in the hottest places on earth, they shall drown in the wettest. Cannibals will feast on them unless they freeze in glacial ice.” They create a travel brochure from the Reprehensible Travel Agency—No Children Allowed!—and make sure the folks see it. They love the plan but fear the children will destroy the house. The solution? Get a nanny. “But aren’t good nannies expensive?” wonders mom. “Yes, so we’ll hire a not good nanny! For cheap!” says father.
Thus, begins a wild adventure for mom, dad and the kids.
“The Willoughbys” It’s not as dark as “A Series of Unfortunate Events” or as magical as “Mary Poppins.” Instead it finds its own tone, deriving much humour from the dire circumstances. “If you like stories about families that stick together and love each other through thick and thin,” says the cat narrator, “and it all ends up happily ever after, this isn’t the film for you OK?” Director and co-writer Kris “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2” Pearn energizes the story with characters that look like they’re shaped out of bubble gum; colourful and highly stylized. Then he puts them in constant motion. It’s frenetic and fun, even when the kids are plotting to kill their parents.
There’s strong voice work from Will Forte, Alessia Cara, Jane Krakowski, Martin Short and Terry Crews but Gervais and his droll narration steals the show. “It’s hard to leave home for the first time,” he says, “although I was six days old when I left. All my folks ever did for me was lick my eyeballs open and sent me packing.”
“The Willoughbys” isn’t remarkably original story wise. It mixes and matches from a variety of sources. There’s a taste of Roald Dahl, a hint of “Despicable Me” and a dollop of “Mary Poppins,” but, all spun together, they form a delightfully dark (but not too dark) story about finding the true value of family.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with host Andrew Carter to talk about the weekend’s VOD and streaming releases including the Netflix animated film for kids (and their parents) “The Willoughbys” and the documentary “Circus of Books.”
Everybody knows what happens on stage at a big show like this Sunday’s Canadian Screen Awards. A host sings, dances and/or tells jokes, glamorous presenters tear open envelopes and announce award winners who thank everyone from managers to spouses to Jesus. There’s the slapping of backs, bespoke tuxedos and flowing gowns and tears.
Add in some drama, a red carpet and you have the ingredients of a big awards show, but what happens backstage?
Lots, as it turns out. Every year at the Canadian Screen Awards there’s a whole other show that happens offstage in the pressroom. Located deep in the bowels of the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts it’s my domain during the live broadcast. Every year I host the room, interviewing the winners as they come off stage in front of an “audience” made up of local and national reporters there for the free food and access to the celebs. I am the purveyor of sound bites, the compère to the press who take the interviews I do and turn them into stories for the next day’s papers and newscasts.
Over the years Elvis Costello, Tatiana Maslany, William Shatner and many others have passed through, tossing out bon mots like they were candy. Jay Baruchel let it slip he was engaged to Alison Pill on our small stage. Viggo Mortensen proudly waved the Montreal Canadiens flag in the face of a roomful of Leafs fans and Jill Hennessey gushed about the Canadian Screen Awards gift bag, thanking the Academy for the Norman Jewison Maple Syrup.
It’s an easy gig for me. Everyone who comes down from the main stage is a winner, automatically in a good mood and ready to have some fun.
When Lifetime Achievement Award winner David Cronenberg was asked where the inspiration for his movies came from he took a moment to examine the assembled crowd of journalists before deadpanning, “Just standing here is giving me all kinds of ideas for horror films.”
Call Me Fitz star Tracy Dawson picked up a CSA for Best Actress but later told me that awards don’t guarantee work. She won a Gemini in 2011 for playing Meghan Fitzpatrick on the show and thought she had it made. Then her phone didn’t ring for ten months. In the pressroom she joked that she wanted to be clear—she was looking for work. “I’m totally available,” she laughed.
It’s a different show downstairs, less glitzy and more relaxed.
This year Andrea Martin is taking over hosting duties from fellow-SCTVer Martin Short but I’ll never forget last year how Short tore up the pressroom, still jacked up from hosting the show. He was hilarious when I asked if he’d try and top his spectacular flying entrance next year. “I can only fly so many times,” he said. “That harness chafes.”
See Richard, along with Victor Garber, the cast of Corner Gas: The Movie, Martin Short, Rex Harrington, Bruce Cockburn, Meesha Brueggergosman, Gordon Pinsent and more recite “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas!” Watch the whole thing HERE!
The term “inherent vice” can be found on property insurance policies eliminating coverage for loss “caused by a quality in property that causes it to damage or destroy itself.” In other words, if the chocolate you’re shipping melts, you’re out of luck.
The new film from director Paul Thomas Anderson not only borrows the term as a title, but also the spirit. A complex stoner detective story, the movie’s characters are a doomed lot, debasing themselves with their own behavior. The result is a story of damaged personalities that requires a roadmap to navigate.
Joaquin Phoenix, is Larry “Doc” Sportello, a shaggy haired hippie detective in 1970 Los Angeles. Perpetually stoned he sees the world through a fog, and writes things like, “Paranoia Alert!” and “Not hallucinating” in his red detective’s notebook. When his ex-girlfriend Shasta (Katherine Waterston) asks him to investigate a plot to have her wealthy, married lover committed to a mental health facility, Doc is sucked into a complicated web of deceit involving a neurotic LA cop named Bigfoot (josh Brolin), a snitch (Owen Wilson), a drug crazed dentist (Martin Short), a drug syndicated called the Golden Fang and a man with a swastika tattooed on his face (Keith Jardine).
“Inherent Vice” plays like a brainier Cheech and Chong movie. The rambling story, that makes the work of Alaskan Native storytelling seem linear, sometimes gets lost in a cloud of pot smoke, and is occasionally almost incomprehensible, but never less than compelling. The actors, doing very high-level work, cut through the confusing murk of the plot, putting a human face on the twists and turns of the tale.
It’s been suggested that the mutton-chopped Phoenix based his performance on Leslie Nielsen’s work with the Zucker Brothers. That means playing it straight, or as straight as a stoner can be played. His hard-boiled lingo and natural PI ability are not played for laughs, but every now and again a measure of slapstick works its way into the performance; an unexpected yelp or an eager lunge at a table full of white powder. It’s an audacious performance that rides the line between serious and ridiculous without ever swaying too far one way or the other.
Your appreciation of Phoenix’s work, or at least the essence of the work, will relate directly to your enjoyment of “Inherent Vice.” The wonky tone, spread throughout the movie’s 148 minute running time, feels like an extended joke the audience isn’t always in on. When it works, it hums along, like a strange but enjoyable dream. When it doesn’t, it’s nightmarishly incoherent.