In this week’s Cronick’s Couch, we go on a horror remake binge, see if HBO Max can reinvent a legendary children’s cartoon for today’s masses and see if the latest rom-com from Charlize Theron and Seth Rogen is worth a “shot.”
“Looney Tunes Cartoons” (Not rated, 2020, 10 10-minute episodes, HBO Max) — Greatest cartoon of all time? Sure, “The Simpsons” and “Rick & Morty” are right up there, but before cartoons needed to be lewd, crude and constantly tongue-in-cheek, “Looney Tunes” proved that a wascally, sarcastic rabbit, a dumb duck, a stuttering pig and sticks of dynamite could lead to endless entertainment for kids and adults alike.
So when HBO Max announced it was relaunching “Looney Tunes” for its amazing new streaming platform, this fanatic was scared. Were they going to modernize it, ruin its legacy, try to make this national treasure something it was never intended to be?
Well, thankfully, none of that happened. In fact, “Looney Tunes” is as brilliant as it ever was. The creators preserved all that is right in the “Looney Tunes” universe while ratcheting up the quality of animation and just tipping things here and there to make it known we are in the 2020s, not the 1970s.
All of the silliness you ever expected is here and then some, and so are all of the characters you grew up loving. The format is just like the originals, too. Each 10-minute episode is split into two or three cartoons with the longest under 5 minutes.
If you’re looking to be mentally stimulated, “Looney Tunes” is not for you. If you’re looking to belly laugh at ridiculousness, this is a gem.
The beauty is its simplicity. Take “Harm Wrestling,” for example. Where Yosemite Sam challenges Bugs Bunny to an arm wrestling match that results in 4 minutes of Bugs’ trademark wit, sarcasm and trickiness avoiding the arm wrestling match, complete with eyes bulging, heads turning red and dynamite exploding.
Other episodes include Gossamer, the big, red, hairy beast with two eyes and shoes bothering Bugs while he is trying to watch a baseball game, Daffy and Porky trying to take showers in adjacent rooms with maximum problems, the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote beating up on each other ... you get the point.
By the time the series ends you have fun with Sam the sheepdog, Elmer Fudd, Marvin the Martian, Tweety and Sylvester and even the dimwitted Beaky the Buzzard.
Out of the gate, HBO Max is probably the best streaming app, and “Looney Tunes” is reason enough to give it a whirl.
“Long Shot” (Rated R, 2019, 115 minutes, HBO Max, DVD, rent or buy on all streaming services) — The fact that Seth Rogen — a goofy, lumbering, average looking stoner — is a major film star is proof of the American Dream.
The fact that he is now routinely the lead in romantic comedies is just absurdly amazing ... and awesome.
“Long Shot” is Rogen’s best rom-com yet, this time pairing him with the gorgeous and talented Charlize Theron.
The reason it’s his best is because the scenario is a bit realistic. Theron plays Charlotte Field, the Secretary of State and one of the most influential women on the planet who plans to run for president. So why would someone who is hot, intelligent, successful and the next President be interested in Fred Flarsky (Rogen), an average guy who thinks zipping up his windbreaker is dressing up?
Because they have history. Field was Flarsky’s babysitter, and they shared an awkward kiss when they were teens because Field was attracted to Flarsky’s intelligence and humor back then. Now, as she is ready to take over the world, she bumps into him at a party, is reminded of his journalistic gifts and hires him to punch up her speeches as she prepares her platform.
Along the way, they fall in love, but it seems natural and right because Rogen is so damn lovable. Pair that with unflinching moral behavior and general compassion for doing the right thing, and you can see how someone — even a woman as great as this — can fall for this schlub.
“Long Shot” has some really funny moments, heartwarming scenes and yes, some cheesy moments, but those are few and far between. What’s left is a romantic comedy that guys can actually dig. And those are very rare these days.
“Pet Sematary” (Rated R, 2019, 101 minutes, Amazon Prime, DVD, rent or buy on all streaming services) — Let’s be honest: The 1989 original adaptation of Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary” isn’t all that great. The highlight was probably seeing Fred Gwynne — yes, Herman Munster — step into a major motion picture horror flick.
That said, King’s book is average at best, but damned if it doesn’t make a hell of a movie premise.
Like the novel and the previous movie, the latest adaptation of “Pet Sematary” follows a family who relocate from a big city to rural Maine, where a doctor (Jason Clarke) and his family, including two young children, try to start a new, more calm existence.
Of course, that is the opposite of what happens as they live near a mysterious burial ground hidden deep in the woods. When the family’s cat, Church, passes over the rainbow bridge — it gets killed — their friendly but unusual neighbor Jud (Jon Lithgow) shows the doc that the burial ground can bring the dead back to life. But, you know that’s never a good idea.
Surprisingly, the latest stab at this iconic horror property is the best yet. Directors Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer work with a rather well-written screenplay that changes some major moments of the original novel and film and even alters the ending to one that is far better than King’s ... something the writer often struggles with.
Lithgow is awesome as Jud, giving justice to Gwynne’s performance but offering a totally different take on the character, and the film has its jumpy, squeamish moments. Most importantly, “Pet Sematary” is creepy. Zombie pets, dead children, violent deaths ... this is the stuff horror dreams are made of, even if the idea of the story still exceeds the creators’ execution.
Not worth your time
“Child’s Play” (Rated R, 2019, 90 minutes, EPIX, DVD, rent or buy on all streaming services) — To continue the remake binge but on the completely opposite spectrum is “Child’s Play,” which unlike “Pet Sematary” throws away the idea of the original to modernize the franchise with uneven results.
This version of Chucky is that he is not just a doll but literally a robotic best friend who follows you around, can complete tasks and modernize your home like Alexa and absolutely be your “friend to the end.”
And that’s where “Child’s Play” 2.0 gets it all wrong. The fun part of the 1989 original is that Chucky was a doll inhabited by the soul of a murderous, perverted, crazed prisoner who was mean, viciously funny, horny, vengeful and just really frustrated to be a grown man in a doll’s body.
This Chucky is a robot gone bad who murders because he thinks it’s what his best friend Andy wants. He’s an overzealous best friend who will do anything to keep Andy by his side. But he’s just a computer malfunction. Gone are the quirky, weird laughs the original would produce.
That said, it has its moments. There are some laugh-out-loud moments, horrific deaths and a fun performance by the always amusing Aubrey Plaza (“Parks & Recreation”) as Andy’s single mom.
But when it’s all over, you will just long for the original and maybe even “Bride of Chucky.” They are unforgettable horror classics. This remake will be forgotten as soon as the credits roll.