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Heather

Noelle

Disney+ has finally arrived!  Based on cast alone, my first viewing selection was Noelle (2019, G) which was originally intended for theatrical release, but was later reserved for the launch of Disney+.  It stars Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader as Kris Kringle's kids, Noelle and Nick.  Also in the cast are long-time actors Shirley MacLaine and Julie Hagerty, with comedians, Billy Eichner and Ron Funches.

Nick has trained his whole life to take over for his father as Santa, but as the pressure builds, he takes a vacation on his sister's recommendation.  Unfortunately, Nick took that to mean a one-way trip to the southwest.  Noelle has to venture out from the North Pole to find him, all while learning that Christmas is more meaningful when you focus on giving instead of getting.

Overall, this light-hearted film, albeit slightly predictable, will bring laughter and maybe even some tears to you and your family.  Find other Christmas movies to watch with the family on our website.

View Noelle and everything else Disney you can imagine with a Roku featuring Disney+.


Catherine T.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

​Though not your typical road trip movie, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert was a huge hit in Australia back in the 90s and quickly became a cult movie with its outrageous costumes and classic disco music.  Featuring veteran actors, Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce, and Bill Hunter, this film follows the adventures of a group of drag queens who take their show on the road to the Australian outback.  In need of money, they accept a job to perform in Alice Springs, quite a journey from their hometown of Sydney.

Traveling in a fantastically repainted school bus, they head out on a road trip through the outback, bringing us comedy and drama as they interact with the locals along the way.  The flamboyant crossdressers raise a few eyebrows in the country towns they pass through and while there is some intolerance, there is also education and tenderness.

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994, R) is a highly entertaining lighthearted film, but be warned that it does include a lot of coarse language and will have you humming disco hits for days afterward.

This movie is on our list of favorite LGBTQ films. Discover more on our website.


Mary S.

The Good Karma Hospital. Series 1

After breaking up with her boyfriend, Dr. Ruby Walker (Amrita Asharia) decides to connect with her roots and accepts a job in India.  What she expected to be a thriving urban clinic turns out to be a rural hospital, chaotic, overflowing with patients, and short on both staff and supplies. Good Karma Hospital is run by brusque Dr. Lydia Fonseca (Amanda Redman, who starred in New Tricks).  Ruby constantly clashes with the arrogant, handsome Dr. Gabriel Varna (James Krishna Floyd).  Her skills are tested by having to diagnose and treat all sorts of illnesses and injuries.

The Good Karma Hospital (2017) is entertaining, filled with colorful characters, picturesque views, and a soundtrack full of Bollywood music.  Check out the soundtrack on Hoopla.  This TV show will appeal to fans of the movie The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.



Jennifer

Late Night

You can't go wrong with a movie starring Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling.  I adored the workplace comedy Late Night.  Katherine Newbury (Thompson) is a seasoned talk show who is being replaced.  Molly Patel (Kaling) is a rookie writer who shakes up the status quo in the previously all-white male writers' room. The humor in this 2019 film written by Mindy Kaling was spot on and relevant (rated R).


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Emily

What We Do in the Shadows

Living with roommates is hard.  Living for hundreds of years with immature, dirty, narcissistic vampire roommates is even worse.  What We Do in the Shadows is a hilarious mockumentary (think The Office) focusing on the lives of four vampire housemates living in Staten Island as they try to deal with the changing world and fighting over who has to do the dishes.  Things become more complicated when one of their meals is turned into a vampire and brings the modern world even closer.

What We Do in the Shadows (2014, R) is one of my all-time favorite movies, never failing to make me laugh.  Each character is more outrageous than the last and the situations they find themselves in, even more so.  Director Taika Waititi, who is also a main character, brings a comedic quirk that is hard to explain but irresistible once you experience it.

If you enjoy the movie, check out the new TV show on Hulu by the same name.  Arguably even better than the movie, it's not to be missed. You can check out a Roku from our tech takeout for access to Hulu.


Mimi

The Big Lebowski

The Dude (Jeff Bridges) is a professional slacker who spends his days bowling and drinking white Russians.  He lives his life avoiding responsibility and conflict until one day conflict shows up on his doorstep and pees on his rug.  After being mistaken for a millionaire with the same name, The Dude sets out to find the other Jeff Lebowski and get him to replace his rug.  Millionaire Jeff "The Big Lebowski" is in considerable debt.  Soon after The Dude visits his new wife Bunny is kidnapped for ransom.  Lebowski manages to convince The Dude to deliver the money in exchange for a large sum of cash that would let him continue his go with the flow lifestyle.  It only takes 10 minutes of watching The Dude and his friends to know that it all goes terribly wrong.

The Big Lebowski (1998, rated R) is a cult classic and considered one of the best Joel and Ethan Coen's films.  Filled with hilarious situations and quotable lines, it's a go to for a movie night with friends.


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Emily

Booksmart

In this hilarious and relatable coming-of-age comedy, two academically gifted best friends Molly (Beanie Feldstein) and Amy (Kaitlyn Dever) find themselves at the end of their high school career without having ever partied.  After realizing that their peers managed to get into good schools and still enjoy themselves, they set out to prove that they could get down with the best of them. In an attempt to make up for missed time, they try to cram four years of experiences into one chaotic night.  Not surprisingly, they are soon in over their heads.

I was impressed with Booksmart It was much more than the buddy comedy I expected.  The cinematography is amazing, the comedy witty, and the characters well rounded and believably flawed.  The friendship between the two leads is tangible and made me want to hang out with them, wear fanny packs, and watch documentaries.  In today's age where everyone is pressured to constantly do their best, it preaches an idea of balance and self-care.  This 2019 film (rated R) is Olivia Wilde's directorial debut, and I'm excited to see what her career will bring.

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Mimi

If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium

A charming tour guide (Ian McShane) takes a busload of American tourists on a nine countries in eighteen days European tour.  The bus is full of comical personalities, including Samantha Perkins (Suzanne Pleshette) who is seriously trying to find herself on this vacation.  The tour guide tries to romance her and change her mind about a number of things.  Mix-ups ensue, including one person who gets on the wrong bus.

If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium is a throwback to how films were made. Joan Collins, John Cassavetes, Elsa Martinelli, Ben Gazzara, and Norman Fell also appear in the film. It's really a delightfully funny movie.

Emily

Long Shot

Fred Flarsky (Seth Rogan) is a goofy yet gifted journalist devoted to exposing the truth.  After losing his job when his company is bought out, he finds himself down on his luck with no plan.  By chance, he runs into his former babysitter and crush, Charlotte Field (Charlize Theron), who is now Secretary of State with her sights set on the presidency.  She's elegant, smart, and professional…everything Fred is not.  After learning of his predicament, she hires him to be her speechwriter, despite the objections of everyone on her staff.  Although a determinate to her campaign, Fred is helping Charlotte take a step back and enjoy life again.

Long Shot is a twist on the classic rom-com, switching up gender roles and ignoring the classic tropes.  While it resembles a classic Seth Rogan film, awkward moments and drugs included, he managed to go beyond his regular cult comedy.  Hilarious and heartwarming, Long Shot it a great movie to add to the rom-com rotation.

Released as a motion picture in 2019, rated R

Jennifer

Pitch Perfect Trilogy

For lighthearted movies featuring a charming mix of comedy, music, and girl power, try Pitch Perfect (2012) and its sequels Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) and Pitch Perfect 3 (2017).  In the first film, freshman Beca (Anna Kendrick) reluctantly joins a collegiate acapella group.  Heartwarming hilarity ensues. The performances feature catchy music, a range of voices, and a variety of styles.

Each sequel gets more ridiculous, but it is worth going along for the ride.  Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Anna Camp, Rebel Wilson star in all three with Hailee Steinfeld added in the second film.  The first two films also feature a pre-Dear Evan Hansen Ben Platt.

If you enjoy the music featured in the films, check out the soundtracks on Hoopla.


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Ashe

The Office. The Complete Series (2005-2013) TV-PG

Are you looking for some cringe-binge?  Finished Parks and Recreation and have a gaping hole in your life?  Already seen The Office?  If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then watching The Office may be right for you!

While the first season starts off a little slow and awkward, it really comes into its own by the end of the season.  It's funny, irreverent, and strangely heartwarming.  You will laugh, cry, and facepalm along with the characters as each of their stories unfold over its nine seasons.

Check it out today!

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Jez

Good Omens (2019) TV-MA

Ever since humans were cast out of the Garden of Eden, the demon Crowley (David Tennant) and the angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) have been ordered by their head offices to occasionally nudge humanity towards one side or the other.  Over the last six thousand years, they have made an agreement to handle the other's duties from time to time, realizing their efforts were canceling each other out.  Over time, they have grown quite fond of humanity and Earth and when the antichrist shows up (in the form of an 11-year-old boy), they try to save the world and put off the impending war between Heaven and Hell.

Meanwhile, there are parallel narratives with the antichrist Adam (Sam Taylor Buck) and his friends, a new recruit to the witchfinder army, and a woman whose family has been led by entirely accurate prophesies from an ancestor.

The stories of Good Omens cross paths multiple times to form a well-woven narrative web that is emotional and dramatic, but most of all, amusing. Bolstered by a phenomenal cast and written by literary genius Neil Gaiman, based on his book of the same title co-written with the late Terry Pratchett, this unusual love story is one you will immediately want to rewatch.

Don't have access to Amazon Prime?  Check out one of our roku devices for a week.

Already a fan of Good Omens?  Discover your next great book with these readalikes.


Jez

Mamma Mia! (2008) & Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)

Based on the hit Broadway musical of the same name, Mamma Mia! follows a young woman named Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), who is about to get married, and wants to invite her birth father, but first she needs to find out who he is. Her mother, Donna (Meryl Streep), first came to Greece in her early 20s, and, according to a diary Sophie finds, was with three men around the time of Sophie's conception. In an effort to find out the truth, she invites all three to her wedding.

In Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, we find Sophie working to transform her mother's Greek villa into a bed & breakfast. She wants to make the grand opening as spectacular as possible to honor Donna's memory. Though a sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, focuses a lot of its time on Donna's youth, showing a younger version (Lily James) first coming to Greece and meeting the three men later questioned to be Sophie's father.

Both films exist in the fantastical world where every moment leads to breaking out in a hit ABBA song. Fans of the Swedish superstars have a lot to love here, with Mamma Mia prominently featuring many of their biggest hits from their Gold album and the sequel finding lesser known, but still enjoyable songs. Featuring an all-star cast, including Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, Stellan Skarsgård, Christine Baranski, and Julie Walters, these musicals make a light and enjoyable double feature.

Katie

Crazy Rich Asians (2018) PG-13

When Rachel Chu goes with her boyfriend Nick to a wedding in Singapore, she is in for a myriad of surprises.  It turns out that Nick's family is rich, Like...super rich.  Everyone in Singapore is gossiping and wanting to know everything about the girl that Nick is dating.

Crazy Rich Asians is based on the 2013 novel by Kevin Kwan.  This movie is so wonderful.  I loved the acting, the story, the costumes, and the scenery.  This is a perfect rom-com and one that I will watch over and over again on DVD.

But in addition to how great it is, it's also a record-breaking movie: the first movie in 25 years starring a majority Asian cast AND it's the highest grossing studio movie rom-com since 2009.  I hope that producers and executives take note that people are hugely interested in diverse casts and stories and give us the two sequels to the book.


Mary S.

Spotlight: Bill Murray Comedies

72216Versatile actor Bill Murray is primarily known for his comic roles.

  • Carl Spackler, the demonic assistant groundskeeper in Caddyshack (1980)
  • Peter Venkman, a paranormal investigator in Ghostbusters (1984)
  • Bob Wiley, a needy therapy patient in What about Bob? (1991)
  • Phil Connors, a TV weatherman in Groundhog Day (1993)
  • Vincent, a grumpy next door neighbor who drinks and gambles in St. Vincent (2014)

His comedic talent helped make these movies box office successes.  Bill Murray is from the Chicago area and performed in The Second City before starring on Saturday Night Live.

Check out The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray by Robert Schnakenberg to learn more about the actor.

 

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