Jennifer Lopez should have held out for more than Shotgun Wedding ; Poker Face is the crime show reborn
(On Prime Video now)
Has anyone said "I do" on screen with more yes-to-the-dress commitment than Jennifer Lopez? Between The Wedding Planner, Monster-In-Law, Marry Me, and now Shotgun Wedding, she's given us an entire frothy oeuvre. The honeymoon ends fast, alas, in her latest union, a slapdash action comedy too silly and frantic to really be fun.
Lopez stars as Darcy, a woman with no discernible back story and a fiancé (Josh Duhamel) named Tom, a minor-league baseball player who's cost-conscious enough to insist on a DIY destination wedding in the Philippines (it's cheaper than Bali). Things are already tense with her loopy future mother-in-law (Jennifer Coolidge) and the chesty ex (Lenny Kravitz) that her wealthy father (Cheech Marin) has invited without her consent.
And then the couple's bargain location bites back: Pirates bum-rush the resort, taking everyone in the wedding party hostage — except the bride and groom, who've been too busy bickering pre-ceremony to get caught up in the sweep. Hijinks and shenanigans ensue, most of which director Jason Moore (Pitch Perfect) plays for chaotic featherweight camp. (Whoopsies, we just blew up another terrorist!)
The movie doesn't ask Lopez and Duhamel to do much more than stay sentient and golden-skinned while they run and flail, though Coolidge can still do daffy-deadpan in her sleep. (A flamboyantly shirtless Kravitz, bless him, has more sharp angles on his clavicles than in his line delivery.) This Wedding clearly wasn't meant to be a masterpiece, but even as mid-winter fluff it feels like a rush job: a marriage made for lazy-Sunday streaming at best, 'til death — or more likely, a better script — do you part. Grade: C– —Leah Greenblatt
(In theaters now)
Courtesy of Sundance Institute
Wealthy white people getting ugly on vacation — they're having a bit of a moment with White Lotus and Triangle of Sadness, toxic entitlement greasing the wheels that, if stuck, would trigger harsher consequences. When these scenarios turn cautionary, as with the thrilling third-world revenge fantasy Bacurau, they play like valuable dispatches from the front lines of today's social warfare. But as it turns out with director Brandon Cronenberg's slick, strenuously naughty Infinity Pool, letting the characters descend into a moral freefall without any real downside gets tiresome fast.
Don't blame his game-for-anything cast: Alexander Skarsgård, still ripped from The Northman, plays James, a blocked novelist with one flop to his name who, regardless of his dim prospects, finds himself at a swanky resort in a vaguely Adriatic country, thanks to his wife Em (Cleopatra Coleman), daughter of his wealthy publisher. Already, you sense the balance of marital power is skewed, so the idea of sneaking off the heavily guarded compound with another couple becomes appealing — until James accidentally mows down a farmer in the middle of the night with a convertible.
The penalty for such infractions in fictional Li Tolqa is death, but there's good news: This fascist country with Communist-era décor also seems to have mastered the science of instant cloning, and, for a fee (there's a convenient ATM in the brutalist-designed jail), you can "double" yourself and watch your own execution from the sidelines. Yes, we're in Cronenberg country, where goo, gore and bodily rebirth are religions. Let's be kind: Before Brandon's famous dad David matured into the maker of Dead Ringers and Crash (the good one), he was a purveyor of sophomoric fall-of-civilization flicks just like Infinity Pool.
At least Mia Goth, herself recently reborn as indie horror's new scream queen with Pearl, understands the assignment, getting more unhinged with every scene (her character starts off with vigorous flirting and a brusque handjob, and goes from there). Even as the escapades become more violent — and why not, with a cloned surrogate to take the fall? — they somehow feel less meaningful with every brandished genital and suckled breast. But what of James's soul? Cronenberg wants us to worry about that. But you never think this guy's next book is going to be any better. Grade: B– —Joshua Rothkopf
(On Netflix now)
A millennial Meet the Parents with a heavy side of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (or at least a spectacularly awkward lunch at Roscoe's), You People feels like a lab experiment designed for Netflix: big stars, broad comedy, a sitcom brightness to every scene.
It's also strenuously topical and not a little bit outrageous about race: a tale of two lovers recast for a hyper-self-aware 2023 by black-ish creator Kenya Barris, making his feature-directing debut. Jonah Hill, who cowrote the script with Barris, plays it relatively close to home as Ezra Cohen, a Jewish finance guy from West L.A. whose true passion is the cross-cultural podcast he hosts with his best friend, a Black lesbian named Mo (comedian Sam Jay).
Even Mo thinks Ezra's dating situation is desperate, but when he meets Amira Mohammed (The Game's Lauren London), the search is over; it's real love. All he has to do is convince Amira's parents, Akbar and Fatima (Eddie Murphy and Nia Long) that he can make their daughter happy. But it's clear from Akbar's "Fred Hampton Was Murdered" hoodie and his cold stare that Ezra is not the suitor this particular dad — he used to be Woody, before he converted to Islam — is looking for.
Barris has too much collective comedic talent on screen between Hill, Murphy, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (as Ezra's wildly overcompensating mom) not to land a few genuinely great lines, and he gives his upscale Los Angeles settings a sunny Nancy Meyers gloss. But his insistence on maximum discomfort comedy in nearly every scene seems like a test of how much your sphincter can contract in secondhand embarrassment (my kingdom for no more fun facts about Xzibit from David Duchovny). The movie is much better when it relaxes its death grip on screenwriter-y punchlines and slapstick cringe and just allows its cavalcade of stars to act like actual, you know, people. Grade: B– —Leah Greenblatt
(Streaming now on Apple TV+)
Apple TV + Jason Segel and Luke Tennie in 'Shrinking'
Jimmy (Jason Segel) is a mess, and has been since his wife, Tia (Lilian Bowden), died unexpectedly a year ago. He spends his nights sublimating the pain with booze and pills, leaving his also-grieving teen daughter, Alice (Lukita Maxwell), to be parented by his blunt next-door neighbor, Liz (Christa Miller). During the day, a fried and hungover Jimmy heads to work at the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Center, where he struggles to stay engaged as his regular patients recite their regular complaints.
Exhausted and pushed to the limits of decorum by a woman (SNL's Heidi Gardner) who's forever making excuses for her emotionally abusive husband, Jimmy erupts. "Just f---ing leave him!" To his surprise, it works. Despite warnings from his methodical boss Paul (Harrison Ford) and newly divorced colleague Gabby (Jessica Williams), Jimmy decides to continue his "psychological vigilante" approach with his newest patient, Sean (Luke Tennie), a military vet who keeps getting into violent altercations with strangers.
Segel, who created Shrinking with Ted Lasso exec producer Bill Lawrence and star/writer/co-EP Brett Goldstein, has crafted the perfect character for his comedic strengths. Jimmy is almost pathologically flustered, alternating between overbearing enthusiasm and awkward, under-the-breath asides ("I see what I'm doing with my body, I'll stop, it's weird"). Segel excels at fidgety physical comedy, and the actor engenders a self-aware sweetness throughout Jimmy's rocky path to healing. Ford is an absolute freaking delight as Paul. The 80-year-old icon seems to revel in this curmudgeon phase of his career, and it's never not funny to hear the actor grumble lines like, "Why do you have so many scrunchies on your lamp?" in his gruff and gravelly baritone. (The aforementioned scrunchies belong to Gabby, played with vivacious confidence by Williams.)
Like Lasso, Shrinking sometimes heightens the drama unnecessarily in an effort to force an emotional climax, and two characters enter into an ill-conceived romantic entanglement during the second half of the 10-episode season. But this is a promising and unique venture, blending highbrow (shout-out to Carl Jung!) and lowbrow (projectile vomit humor!). The sharp writing offers poignant feels, and the cast seems up for anything. Trust me: Watching Harrison Ford sing his heart out to Sugar Ray is therapeutic. Grade: B+ —Kristen Baldwin
Read EW's full review of Shrinking here
(Four episodes streaming now on Peacock, new episodes streaming Thursdays)
Sara Shatz/Peacock Natasha Lyonne as Charlie Cale on 'Poker Face'
Executive producer Natasha Lyonne plays Charlie Cale, a casino waitress with a special talent, in this snazzy new mystery weekly. As a "human lie detector," she knows when you bluff about cards — or murder. By the end of the twisty series premiere, Charlie becomes an amateur detective on the run, solving perfect murders across a nation of guest stars. Creator Rian Johnson glories in his procedural influences, grafting Columbo's structure onto Charlie's Kung Fu-ish wanderings. Each episode features a new extraordinary guest cast of victims and killers. Lil Rel Howery goes big as a BBQ baron. Chloë Sevigny exudes blasé swagger as a rock singer. Hong Chau is a trucker, it's awesome.
The storytelling evokes a lost mood in TV investigation with its focus on free spirit with no budget and no gun. With her ashy voice and molten hair, Lyonne's a delight, and Charlie's polygraph skill layers tension into every conversation. You feel how much she enjoys the truth — and how disappointed she gets when lies start flying. The thrills can feel old-school, but by successfully carving a third way between network franchises and prestige gloom, Poker Face announces itself as the crime show of the year. Grade: A —Darren Franich
Read EW's full review of Poker Face here