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Pop Culture Happy Hour: <em>First Man</em> and What's Making Us Happy

Chris Klimek

 Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong (Universal)

Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong (Universal)

I was delighted as always to join my pals Linda Holmes, Stephen Thompson, and Glen Weldon on Pop Culture Happy Hour to discuss the Neil Armstrong biopic First Man—a movie that, like the new A Star Is Born, I appreciate more the more I think about it. Somehow we managed to avoid re-litigating the great La La Land controversy during this conversation. (My bomb-throwing position: It's good!) When I used the word Weldonian in the studio, Glen nearly tore his rotator cuff making the "cut" gesture, but cooler, more hirsute heads—those of producers Jessica Reedy and Vincent Acovino—prevailed.

During the "What's Making Us Happy" segment I endorse Alec Nevala-Lee's new history Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction, of which I'll have a review appearing in the Dallas Morning News shortly. It happens that Nevala-Lee wrote a thoughtful post about First Man and the silly flap among people who haven't seen the movie over the fact that it doesn't depict the planting of the American flag on the lunar surface. I'm glad to share it.

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Mission: Impossible — Fallout, and What's Making Us Happy

Chris Klimek

 Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Tom Cruise, and Ving Rhames.

Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson, Tom Cruise, and Ving Rhames.

Sure, he's a weird guy. But Tom Cruise is the greatest onscreen runner since that horse that Eadweard Muybridge photographed in 1872 to prove that all four hooves of a galloping stallion leave the ground. 

Here's our Pop Culture Happy Hour on the triumph that is Mission: Impossible — Fallout.  Any Cruiselike zealotry in my voice is purely intentional. To watch a two-star action movie with Linda Holmes is a five-star experience. To watch a five-star action movie with her is an M:I-6 star experience.

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Skyscraper and What's Making Us Happy (which is, for me, Blindspotting)

Chris Klimek

 Dwayne Johnson is no Tom Cruise, stuntwise.

Dwayne Johnson is no Tom Cruise, stuntwise.

I had a lovely time dissecting the laughably derivative, greenscreeny pleasures of Skyscraper with Pop Culture Happy Hour hosts Linda Holmes and Stephen Thompson and fellow friend-of-the-show Margaret H. Willison. This movie wants to be Die Hard, and it isn't even as good as Johnson's own Central Intelligence or Rampage.  It's maybe on par with San Andreas.

I get a plug in during the What's Making Us Happy segment for Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal's Blindspotting, one of the two or three strongest movies I've seen this year. Buy a ticket to Blindspotting and watch Skyscraper on a flight or something. 

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Ant-Man and The Wasp

Chris Klimek

 The just-fine firm of Lily, Douglas, &amp; Rudd, LLP (Marvel Studios)

The just-fine firm of Lily, Douglas, & Rudd, LLP (Marvel Studios)

I saw a review headline earlier today proclaiming Ant-Man and The Wasp "the perfect summer movie." I could easily name 20 perfect movies released during the summer going back to Jaws, released the summer before I was, but the phrase "a perfect summer" movie almost invariably refers to movies that aren't very good. 

Ant-Man and The Wasp isn't Not Good. It is, as my pal and editor and occasional (today!) Pop Culture Happy Hour panel-mate Glen Weldon observed in his review, fine.

I'm going to see it again tonight, in fact, but only because it's on a bill at the drive-in with Incredibles 2, which I've not seen yet, and because I haven't been to the drive-in in I think two years. I won't stay for the third feature, Avengers: Infinity War, because that movie will end at 3 a.m. and it's a 55-mile drive back to the District. But I'm glad that screening is happening.

Anyway, please enjoy our PCHH dissection of Ant-Man and The Wasp. It's fine.

Notes on Dinosaur Camp: Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, reviewed and discussed on Pop Culture Happy Hour.

Chris Klimek

 Chris Pratt, velociraptor whisperer. (Universal)

Chris Pratt, velociraptor whisperer. (Universal)

Here's my review of Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. And below you can hear Linda Holmes, Stephen Thompson, and Glen Weldon discuss the movie and its place in the Jurassic-iad with me in the fourth chair. I regret that it never occurred to me to refer to this film as Jurassic 5 even though "Sum of Us" is an all-timer shadowboxing jam. I also regret that none of us, not even Thompson, thought to mention the moment in Jurassic 5 when it seems like Ted Levine from The Silence of the Lambs is about to start singing "See My Vest." You'll know the one I mean.

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's me on The Original Cast!

Chris Klimek

 It all started when I bought my buddy, Superman biographer Glen Weldon, a copy of this LP in Asbury Park, New Jersey for $20.

It all started when I bought my buddy, Superman biographer Glen Weldon, a copy of this LP in Asbury Park, New Jersey for $20.

Funny thing: Patrick Flynn lives in Bethesda, Maryland, a short public-transit trip across the northwest border of Washington, DC, where I live. We know many of the same people because we're both involved in theatre; him as a playwright, me as a critic. And yet our paths never crossed until he heard me on James Bonding last fall, which Matt Gourley and Matt Mira record weekly at Gourley's beautiful home in Pasadena, all the way on the other side of country.

Anyway, Patrick kindly invited me to appear on The Original Cast, his fine podcast celebrating Broadway cast albums, to discuss a musical of my choice. I picked the 1966 curiosity It's a Bird! It's a Plane!, which I'd never heard of but never heard until I picked up a secondhand LP of it as a gift for my buddy Glen Weldon a couple years back. Glen wrote the book on Superman, or at least a book on Superman. It's certainly the book on Superman I can most enthusiastically recommend.

Here's the discussion Patrick and I had, which does not confine itself to the Man of Steel's brief life as a Broadway star, for reasons that shall become clear. This was recorded in late April.

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Deadpool 2

Chris Klimek

 Star/producer/coscreenwriter Ryan ( Green Lantern ) Reynolds, presumably, and director David ( John Wick, Atomic Blonde ) Leitch

Star/producer/coscreenwriter Ryan (Green Lantern) Reynolds, presumably, and director David (John Wick, Atomic Blonde) Leitch

It was my happy task to join Daisy Rosario, Stephen Thompson, and Glen Weldon for a sadly Linda Holmes-free PCHH dissecting Deadpool 2, a movie that in my view succeeds utterly in being the meaningless and mercilessly self-trolling thing it sets out to be. To paraphrase the critic Homer Simpson, writing in Cahiers du Cinéma: I prefer to watch John Wick.

Your mileage may vary!

Furry Road: Isle of Dogs, reviewed.

Chris Klimek

 Boss (Bill Murray), a former baseball team mascot, is part of a pack of exiled canines.

Boss (Bill Murray), a former baseball team mascot, is part of a pack of exiled canines.

It's no shocker that I loved Wes Anderson's new stop-motion adventure of Isle of Dogs. It's a mild shocker that I didn't cry watching it. Either time! My NPR review is here. UPDATE: I'm on the Pop Culture Happy Hour episode where we hash over some of charges of insensitivity and cultural appropriate that a few critics have levied against the movie, too. That's on the same page as the review, but you can hear below, too.