The Pedestrian’s Choice: M3GAN, an Adaptive Movie about Artificial Intelligence and Its Phenomenology
There was a question of whether this was an idea worthy of a ticket or if it was another example of a movie that was going to be popular. There’s somewhere in between, as director Elizabeth Banks makes absurdist energy and humor without giving anything near a sustained rush.
Coming a few weeks before Cocaine Bear’s February 24 release is M3GAN. This column has already delved into the diabolical doll dance moves that the film’s trailer inspired, and there’s no need to retread that angle here. It was hard not to see how ironic that the movie about the horrors of artificial intelligence being promoted with a campaign engineered for peak virality was also the same as the one about the script.
Speaking of discourse, the Sundance Film Festival announced its lineup for 2023 this week. Cat Person is among the most eye-catching entries. While it’s based on the New Yorker short story of the same name, there’s no word yet on whether the film will follow that story’s narrative completely, but if it does it will be interesting to see if it generates the same level of attention and discussion.
Originally published in 2017, “Cat Person” landed amidst a flurry of conversations around #MeToo and, as a story about a college sophomore’s complicated relationship with an older man, found itself at the center of the zeitgeist. It was credited with sending the internet into a “meltdown” and its virality is mentioned in almost every reference. Five years later, a retelling may have different impacts, but it does seem poised to ride a similar wave. (Side note: The author of “Cat Person,” Kristen Roupenian, wrote the story on which Bodies Bodies Bodies—another film for the extremely online—was based.)
Goofy Movies: A Game Theoretical Analysis of a Lost Cocaine Ship in the Galactic Wild (the case of the bear)
Although “Snakes” comes to mind among killer-animal comedies, the more germane comparison might be “Lake Placid,” which found laughs and scares in the rampage of a giant alligator. “Bear” doesn’t achieve that level of wit, but it does ratchet up the gore factor with limbs occasionally flying in all directions, those body parts looking a whole lot more realistic than the bear itself.
The movie is based on true events, and an incident where a shipment of cocaine was lost in the Georgia woods in the 1980s, but it is very much in line with many other films of the same subject. It sometimes feels like all that is missing is a hat and love for picnic baskets.
Movie magic that recreates modern animals like the bear can be effective, but bad computer aided depiction can cause a movie to be stopped in its tracks. It’s small wonder this bear is so effective when it’s in the vicinity, but you can’t see it.
Written (that is, creatively embellished) by Jimmy Warden, the film derives a degree of its humor from sheer goofiness, introducing a bunch of actors in smallish roles that make everyone potentially expendable.
For cops like Bob (Isiah Whitlock Jr.) and Reba (Ayoola Smart), the coke’s a sign that known kingpin Syd (Ray Liotta) is making big moves, while people like Syd’s son Eddie (Alden Ehrenreich) and Eddie’s friend Daveed (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) see it as a mess they’re going to have to clean up. Between her new boyfriend and keeping an eye on her daughter, quintessential ’80s mom Sari (Keri Russell) is too busy to pay all that much attention to whatever nonsense is going on in the forest. Dee Dee, Henry, and Sari decide to leave school one day and go for a walk in the wilderness, but they don’t realize just how much danger they are in.
The problem with that template is nobody really registers until they become potential bear food. Already an apex predator, this chemically enhanced bear possesses extraordinary abilities and appetites, with the only means of escaping those slavering jaws being to distract the addicted beast with even more cocaine.
Cocaine Bear’s not without its charms, and both Convery and Martindale deliver exceptionally delightful performances that reinforce how just a little bit more substance for other characters could have done wonders to make them all more memorable. To really enjoy the movie, though, you have to be in the right kind of headspace, and willing to tolerate pure ridiculousness.
The genre does reflect an expansion of Banks’ directing resume after “Pitch Perfect 2” and “Charlie’s Angels,” and the film only runs about 95 minutes, so the filmmakers were wise enough not to overly stretch an already-thin premise beyond its limitations.
The low-budget horror film “M3GAN,” which spawned plans for a sequel, was recently released by Universal, which is releasing the movie. To the extent wandering around the woods being menaced by an unconvincing bear doesn’t cost much either, even a modicum of success will probably unleash a Cocaine Bear Cinematic Universe.
The Wire: a dark tale of three crazy characters and a gang-of-drug-loving hoodlums on Blood Mountain
The concept is more important than the movie and it shows that things may not always go well with coke.
The stage is set for a group of crazy characters to descend on Blood Mountain to get the gear. You have Syd White, arch-drug dealer (played by the late Ray Liotta); his wimpy son with a penchant for plain penne pasta (played by Solo’s Alden Ehrenreich); and Syd’s deputy, Daveed, played by O’Shea Jackson Jr. Isiah Weston Jr., of The Wire, is a police detective who is worried about his dog Rosette, despite being hot on their trail. Also tempting death-by-drug-bear: a pair of kids cutting school and a concerned mother in pursuit, a park ranger and a Smokey Bear-loving wildlife man, and a gang of colorfully dressed hoodlums who patrol the woods stabbing people for loot. Some are viciously mauled, and some aren’t. Then the film ends.