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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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Katie

Wreck-It Ralph (2012) PG

51mtooacrwl-_sy445_Once Litwik's Family Fun Center and Arcade closes for the night, the characters of each game visit each other and meet in a power strip that connects them all.  Wreck-It Ralph, the antagonist of the game Fix-It Felix Jr., is tired of being the bad guy in his game.  When he's challenged to earn the game characters' respect by gaining a medal like Felix, Ralph enters various video games causing chaos and hilarity.

I can't believe that I missed Wreck-It Ralph when it first premiered in 2012.  I am so glad that the sequel Ralph Breaks the Internet came out to remind me to find the original. This is a fantastic comedic adventure that will engage the whole family.  Kids will root for Princess Vanellope, who they will likely relate to as she's constantly told "no" and left out of the race. Ralph will make them laugh and gain their support by the end of the movie -- a "bad" guy that everyone loves.  Adults will enjoy moments like the bad guy support group meetings and the Diet Coke/mentos mountain -- a chemical reaction that yields some fantastic YouTube videos.

Definitely give this a re-watch before the sequel comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray in February.
IPPL Staff

A Dog’s Purpose (2017) PG

81i2yytjxl-_sy445_When we are first introduced to Bailey, the lovable narrator in A Dog’s Purpose, he’s a spunky newborn pup full of wonder and curiosity.  He asks, “What is this place and why am I here?”  As his story unfolds, these questions are answered, and we come to understand all the wonderful reasons dogs exist in our lives.  This movie weaves together the separate stories of Bailey’s nine lives and explains how the humans he accompanies on each life’s journey have a unique reason for needing and loving a dog.

I loved this sweet movie for the message it shared, but be warned, it will leave you and your children in tears.  Keep a box of tissues nearby! If you love A Dog’s Purpose as much as I did, you’ll find more movies featuring our furry, four-legged friends here.
Heather

Atypical. Seasons 1-2 (2017-2018) TV-MA

mv5bmtcynzk3mzm2of5bml5banbnxkftztgwodcwmzyxnjm-_v1_uy1200_cr9006301200_al_Atypical revolves around high school senior, Sam Gardner.  He loves penguins, art, and biology and just happens to be on the autism spectrum.  Follow the Gardner family as they navigate relationships at school and home, while Sam works to gain more independence and life experience in this witty, yet heart-tugging Netflix original series.  Seasons 1 and 2 are available to stream through Netflix on our Rokus.

 
Jez

Tag (2018) R

91dceafsxzl-_sx342_If you want an action movie with low stakes, look no further than TagBased on a true story, five friends have been playing the same game of tag since childhood.  Now in their mid-30s, these men dedicate a month each year to continuing the game, pulling all kinds of tricks in order to tag someone.  A reporter from The Wall Street Journal is doing a piece on Bob (Jon Hamm) when he’s tagged and decides the game is the more interesting story.

One friend, Jerry (Jeremy Renner), has never once been it, so the other four are determined to make this the year it finally happens.  Full of ridiculous action scenes that beautifully spoof Renner’s other movies, this is a fun film with lots of recognizable comedy faces, including Ed Helm, Hannibal Buress, Jake Johnson, Rashida Jones, and Isla Fisher.

 
Jez

The Good Place. Season 1 (2016-2017)

91dhcylcfal-_sy445_When we meet Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell), she’s just been told that following her death, she’s made it into the “Good Place” due to all of the points she accrued through acts of kindness and humanitarian efforts.  Eleanor is greeted by Michael (played brilliantly by America’s sweetheart, Ted Danson), an immortal being who gives her a tour of the cheerfully colored neighborhood and introduces her to her soulmate, Chidi (William Jackson Harper), a former ethics professor who agonizes over every decision.

Everything seems perfect—except for one thing:  Eleanor doesn’t belong in the Good Place. There’s been a mix-up.  She isn’t the Eleanor Shellstrop who worked in third world countries, instead, she’s the Eleanor whose job was to scam people into buying fake medications.  In an effort to keep her secret, Eleanor convinced Chidi to teach her ethics to help her blend in by appearing to be a good person.

The Good Place is a fun, laugh-out-loud comedy that will easily brighten your day.  We even included it on our list of Feel Good TV Favorites!  Check out the first season of The Good Place, and keep season two at the ready so you can immediately binge it after the season one twist.
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Katie

Love, Simon (2018) PG-13

91uzbb9mbbl-_sy445_One of my favorite things in the entire world is seeing a book turned into a movie and comparing the two.  I am the girl in the theater who turns to her friend afterward and says, "But they didn't say who the Marauders are!" (Sorry, that's a Harry Potter reference.)  I almost always find the movie to be less than the book.  Love, Simon is the best movie adaptation of a book I've ever seen.  It gives such life to Becky Albertalli's novel, Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda (review here!).  Nick Robinson is perfectly cast as Simon. And any nitpicky things that I thought as I watched the rest of the cast announced (Leah's not how I pictured!) disappeared with Katherine Langford's performance.

Seeing the movie in theaters was like attending a giant slumber party where the whole audience was rooting for Simon and cheering.  At home, it feels comforting and like a true teen rom-com, you're just hoping it will end with a "happily ever after".

Make sure to check out Love, Simon from the library today.

 
 
 
IPPL Staff

Cowboy Bebop. The Complete Series (1998-2003) TV-MA

51x5myp3xxl-1If you’re a Firefly fan, then you’ll definitely love Cowboy Bebop.  Both are space-westerns with a sassy, devil-may-care crew.  Join Spike Spiegel, Faye Valentine, Jet Black, Edward, and last but not least welsh corgi, Ein, on their adventures bounty-hunting their way through space.  If you enjoy comedic action/adventures with a dramatic flair, this is the anime for you.
Joe

Roxanne (1987) PG

26290332_saThis modern day retelling of Edmond Rostand’s classic Cyrano de Bergerac, starring Steve Martin and Daryl Hannah, is satisfyingly funny. C. D. Bales (Martin) a fire chief in a small town, falls in love with the beautiful Roxanne (Hannah), a visiting astronomer.  Unfortunately, C. D. has an extraordinarily long nose, and Roxanne is smitten with Chris, one of C. D.’s new firemen.  C. D. agrees to help Chris woo Roxanne, even going so far as to feed Chris romantic lines through a one-way radio. But will Roxanne discover C. D.’s true feelings?  This romantic comedy will not disappoint.

Enjoy Roxanne?  We’ve created a list of rom coms (and more rom coms).
Kathy

The Death of Stalin (2017) R

deathofstalinOne of the most unique films I’ve seen in a long time is Armando Iannucci’s The Death of Stalin. Fans of the horribly absurd (or the absurdly horrible) will find themselves cringing while laughing through this warped historical comedy. Nikita Kruschev (Steve Buscemi) and Lavrentiy Beria (Simon Russell Beale) jockey for the top Soviet position after the 1953 death of Joseph Stalin.

Jeffery Tambor sweats up a storm as Georgy Malenkov, Stalin’s nervous-wreck of a second-in-command. With each member of the Soviet politico watching over his shoulder for the other, this satire bites down hard on the realities of tyranny, cruelty, power, and fear. Given the truth underlying the farce, it sometimes felt wrong to laugh, but I found it impossible not to. This dark comedy will make you think and stays with you long after it ends.
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Mary

Coco (2017) PG

au_movie_poster_coco_1_50f85f97A beautiful animated film wrapped up in the traditions and folklore of Mexico’s Dia de los Muertes (Day of the Dead). Twelve-year-old Miguel wants to be a musician, but his family has banned music from their lives for several generations. Intent on pursuing his dream, his ends up in The Land of the Dead on Dia de los Muertes to find his great-great-grandfather who was a famous musician. Miguel not only discovers his family’s real history but also finds out the importance of family in his life.

Coco won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film and Best Original Song (for “Remember Me”). Check out the soundtrack on CD and on Hoopla.
Jennifer

It Could Happen to You (1994) PG

couldhappentoyouCharlie Lang (Nicholas Cage) is a New York cop who doesn’t have enough money for a tip. Yvonne Biasi (Bridget Fonda) is a waitress who can’t catch a break. And yet when a cop offers her the choice of a regular tip or half of the winnings of a lottery ticket, she ends up with $2 million.

It Could Happen to You is a delightful feel-good romantic comedy. In the mood for other rom coms? Check out our list.
Jez

When We First Met (2018) TV-14

whenwefirstmetNoah (Adam Devine) has been in love with Avery (Alexandra Daddarrio) for three years, but unfortunately, she’s getting married to Ethan (Robbie Amell), the perfect, polite gentleman she met exactly one day after she met Noah. In the middle of a drunken pity party, Noah finds himself in the photo booth he shared with Avery on the night they met and with a quarter and some wishing, he wakes up three years earlier. He repeats this multiple times, a la Groundhog Day, each time changing an aspect about their first date and things go about as well as you’d expect. The only thing that seems to stay the same in each timeline is his friendship with Avery’s best friend, Carrie (Shelley Henning).

Fans of rom-coms already know how this story is going to end, but that doesn’t make the journey any less enjoyable. Filled with lots of laughs, tender moments, regrettable hairstyle choices (frosted tips in 2017?), and photo strips, When We First Met is a great way to spend an evening.

The movie is currently only available on Netflix, but you can watch it now without an account by checking out one of our Rokus from Tech Takeout, giving you access to Netflix, Hulu, and hundreds of movies for 7 days.