Movie

Book Reshorts: The Thankening III: The Thankening Thanks Back

Despite everyone’s best efforts, the Thankers are back! This time Danielle and Sam do a little ego stroking to grow their already prodigious senses of self-importance. So enjoy as they discuss some of the media and themes they’ve shared which they’re thankful for, and just have all of the trouble speaking like normal human beings.

Can of Worms

This week Danielle returns to her comfort zone with the 1999 Disney Channel Original Movie Can of Worms. Mike is your typical angsty teen, he doesn’t feel like he belongs on Earth and no one understands him, especially his parents. He’s on the football team at his dad’s insistence, but he doesn’t like it and isn’t very good at it, though it does give him a chance to ogle the cute cheerleader Katelyn. Mike is also a massive computer nerd, but he gets bullied by Scott, the much more popular computer nerd/football player at school. After a series of insane, and quite lame, computer pranks, Katelyn takes a shine to Mike and asks him to make fancy, electronic Halloween decorations for the school dance. Oh also, Mike likes to tell stories and give PowerPoint presentations in his tree house about an alien baby that was launched into space after his home planet was invaded and the alien baby crash lands on Earth where it grows up and feels out of place. The alien baby is obviously supposed to represent Mike, and everyone knows Mike tells this story and freaking loves it. Anyway, the dance is a disaster and Mike runs home and steals his family’s satellite dish to send a message into space about how he doesn’t belong on Earth and wants to leave. What follows is a parade of absolute nightmares as a variety of grotesque aliens with horrific human teeth answer Mike’s call. One, a dog that speaks out of a mouth on its collar, invites Mike to live on its home planet of Puppis (ugh) to escape the onslaught. Mike refuses, and eventually a series of maddening sit-com level misunderstandings leads to Mike’s best friend’s brother being kidnapped by a frog-like alien for its exotic zoo. Mike, Katelyn, his friend, and even his former enemy Scott all team up to save the brother, though Scott is really more tricked into it than anything. Will they succeed and save they day? Who cares! So long as we can end the movie and get away from the insane, eldritch abominations this movie considers fun aliens for kids, Danielle and Sam will put up with pretty much anything, except maybe Mike’s useless prophetic alien dreams, that is.

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Happy Death Day 2 U

Spook Retorts ends with a bang as Danielle shares the second installment of the Happy Death Day franchise with the 2019 movie Happy Death Day 2 U. Everyone’s favorite character is back, that’s right, it’s Fine Vagina Kid, henceforth known as Ryan. He wakes in his car after being evicted from the dorm room he shares with Carter so he and Tree could get freaky. Ryan then heads to the physics lab where he’s working on a magic device that blah blah blah something about time. That’s not important, what is important is that the dean is shutting them down and then Ryan is killed by someone wearing a baby face mask, which is somehow, still, the mascot of this school. Ryan wakes up in his car, he’s in a time loop! Tree is immediately clued in on this and helps Ryan capture his would-be murder, which is also Ryan. But, like, a different Ryan from another dimension? Or the first Ryan is from another dimension? Look, it doesn’t matter, as the movie will completely forget about this entire premise mere minutes later when Ryan One activates his magic science device and accidentally sends Tree into another time loop. However, unlike when this device was apparently doing this in the previous movie, this time Tree ends up in another, slightly different dimension. At this point, Sam is just so angry at this movie for trying, and failing, to explain why all this is happening rather than just getting on with the fun parts of the movie; this is an emotion he will feel continuously for the rest of this episode. Anyway, in this universe Lori is not trying to kill Tree, Carter is dating Danielle which makes Tree jealous, and Tree’s mom is still alive. However, Tree does manage to get herself killed a few times before enlisting the help of this universe’s Ryan to help fix the magic science machine and end the loop. Why doesn’t Tree have a doppelgänger in this universe? Don’t ask questions, that’s why. So join us for another fun filled romp through time looped shenanigans, where the twists are so dumb and out of nowhere they don’t even earn the name twist. At the end, Tree must make the most difficult choice of all: Stay in this universe where her mom is still alive, or go back to the other universe for the boy she’s been dating for, like, twelve hours. I know what choice I’d make.

Happy Death Day

This week Danielle brings the laughs to Spook Retorts with the 2017 time-loop movie Happy Death Day. One day, a sorority sister wakes up after a night of blackout drinking in a random dorm room. So far, so college. The young woman, whose name is Tree (seriously), makes her way back home to her sorority house where her roommate offers her a cupcakes, since it’s her birthday. Tree, being a jerk at this point, tosses the cupcake and seems determined to be mean to everyone around her, except the professor/medical doctor she’s boning on the sly. That night on her way to a party, Tree comes across an apparently magic music box that plays Happy Birthday and is immediately stabbed to death by someone in a baby-face mask. It’s important to take a moment here to explain that this college has a baby as their mascot, and they are apparently so proud of this fact they practically force everyone who even looks at the campus to take one of these masks. Both Danielle and Sam agree, it’s the most horrifying part of the movie by far. Anyway, immediately upon her death Tree wakes up back in that dorm room and relives the day again, this time avoiding the music box, but still being killed later by a killer who is somehow the most impressive stalker of all time. Seriously, best, most dedicated murderer ever. So Tree spends the rest of her loops trying to uncover who is murdering her and how to stop it. She also undergoes some character growth, but that seems mostly incidental to the whole not being murdered motivation. As the movie goes on, you can enjoy Sam becoming increasingly frustrated at a time loop that makes no sense, capped off with a twist that somehow just makes everything more confusing. When all is said and done, however, Danielle and Sam think one thing is clear: Tree is definitely going to prison.

AI Love You

This week Danielle brings the 2022 Thai sci-fi rom-com movie AI Love You. Dob is a sentient AI office building who pines for the woman, Lana, who works inside of him, and if that sentence fills you with a creeping sense of horror, you and Sam have a lot in common.If you’re looking for any rational reason why sentient AI buildings are a thing, this movie will disappoint. After Lana tanks her presentation, Dob helps her make a new one and then confesses his love for her. Lana dismisses it because, and this can’t be emphasized enough, Dob is a building. Instead, Lana goes on a bad date with a creepy guy named Bob, which does not go well. Meanwhile, Dob’s abnormal behavior is noticed and this is apparently just a normal thing that happens, where AI buildings develop human emotions, because the procedure of resetting Dob is immediately settled on. Coincidentally, Bob is the technician that is tasked with resetting Dob and while he’s interfacing with Dob via VR goggles (seriously) Dob somehow downloads his AI consciousness into Bob’s brain, taking over Bob’s body. Now Dob (in the body of Bob) is able to pursue Lana as a human-ish thing. First, though, Dob must learn how to be a human, since apparently he was never programmed with basic human behavior, even though he was designed to be a helpful building for people. No, we don’t understand any of this either. Anyway, Dob now must spend his nights learning about dating and trying to convince Lana to give Bob (who he’s pretending to be) another shot, while by day he’s puppeteering the building, so as not to arouse suspicion about the building not working. Did we mention there’s a (maybe secret) network of these building AIs, including the building Lana lives in, all conspiring to help Dob (as Bob) get with Lana by deceiving her into thinking he’s a better version of Bob. Lana eventually relents and they start dating, but the company the makes the robot buildings, Smart Plus, has dispatched their laser-chainsaw wielding AI hunter to recover Bob’s body and remove Dob from it, because apparently AIs take over human bodies just all the freaking time in this horrific future. So join us for Danielle’s turn sharing a sci-fi rom-com that definitely seems more like a horror film the more you think about it.

Heartbeeps

This week Sam brings the romance with the 1981 robot rom-com Heartbeeps. Val (Andy Kaufman) and Aqua (Bernadette Peters) are two companion model robots currently being stored in a factory for repairs. We’ll leave it as an exercise to the listener to determine what the purpose of a “companion” robot is. However, after talking for a little while Val convinces Aqua and a hack-comedian robot that they all should leave the factory to go look at some trees. Apparently, this factory has no security, so Val jacks a van and they quickly crash into some woods, since he was programmed to drive, but seemingly not very well. Once they’re discovered missing, two factory workers are sent out to recover them, but then also an automated tank called the Crimebuster also goes rogue and breaks out of the factory to chase the fugitive robots. No one in the factory seems to notice this latest robot escape, which is just an incredible indictment of this factory’s operating procedures. Meanwhile, Val and Aqua have built themselves a robot child in the woods, primarily so it could be used as a pack-mule to haul around spare parts in a trailer strapped to it. Shortly thereafter, the troupe of robots finds a cave, and after a convenient helicopter scares away a bear, they hunker down. While alone, Val and Aqua find a new use for their pleasure centers (did we not mention that the robots seemed to be trained using pleasure to reinforce desired behavior? Because they are, and it’s bonkers). However, the factory workers and Crimebuster robot are both separately hunting the fugitive robots, who are now intent on maintaining their freedom. The big question remains: Will our robot lovers succeed in escaping, or will they be returned to servitude? While the surprise reveal of a pet raccoon in a junkyard seems to sever Sam’s tenuous grasp on reality, the stuff going on behind the scenes is equally insane as this movie tapped top talent like John Williams and Stan Winston for its production. So see what happens when you take a bunch of amazing talents and put them into the most insane movie possible, and see if two robots can actually fall in love (no, no they can’t).

The Lake House

This week Danielle brings the 2006 time traveling romance movie The Lake House. When Dr. Kate Forster (Sandra Bullock) sells her lake house to apparently no one, she decides to leave a note for the next owners in the mailbox, like a totally normal human being. Alex Wyler (Keanu Reeves) moves in and receives her letter. This confuses him, because the letter mentions things about the house—like apparently impossible to remove dog prints in paint—that don’t exist. Instead of just ignoring this letter like a sane person, Alex writes back and puts the letter in the lake house mailbox. After Kate fails to save a man pancaked by a bus in front of her, she decides the best course of action is to return to the lake house and raid the mailbox there and see if the new owners took her letter. She finds the letter from Alex and they start exchanging letters, learning that Alex is writing from 2004, while Kate is writing from 2006. They also seem to have a magic dog that they both have owned for years even though it’s, again, the same dog and they don’t know each other. They engage in more time-communication shenanigans, like Alex planting a tree for Kate that suddenly magically springs into existence before her eyes. It should be noted Sam absolutely hates the nonsensical time mechanics of this movie. Alex engages in some light time-stalking of Kate, and then he kisses her at a birthday party Kate’s not-Alex boyfriend threw for her when she still doesn’t know who Alex is. It should also be noted that both their families know they are having romantic communications through time and, insanely, no one seems to care. So join us for what is amazingly, baffling, the least coherent time travel story ever heard on Book Retorts, which is really saying something.

The Thirteenth Year

This week Danielle returns to the Disney Channel Original Movie well with the 1999 TV movie The Thirteenth Year. The movie opens with a mermaid being chased by a far too enthusiastic fisherman and abandoning her extremely human-looking child in a basket on a boat in a reverse Moses situation. We later learn that this may, or may not, be a natural part of the mermaid lifecycle, and already the first few minutes of this movie would require years of study to unpack. The baby is found and claimed by two humans who own the boat, they name him Cody and raise him to help them administer their fiscally unsustainable $5 boat tours. Cody is also on the swim team, and boy does Danielle have opinions about swim meets in this episode. Cody is eventually partnered up with the school nerd, Jess, on a marine biology project when he discovers his body is going through changes. The kind of changes every young man deals with: scales on his hands, Sith lightning from his fingertips, being able to tell fish to do circus tricks, and the ability to climb walls; you know, the classic merperson things of lore. Cody’s mom negligently avoids taking him to a doctor, and his kinda girlfriend Sam (no relation) at first doesn’t care, until she sees him with arm fins later (seriously, this movie has no idea how merpeople work). Cody struggles to understand his new identity while trying to hide his changes from Jess’ dad, the same fisherman who chased his mer-mom all those years ago and is now obsessed with finding proof of fish-people. Sam (yes relation) wonders if there’s some common heritage between merpeople and centaurs, and then makes a bunch of terrible fish puns which Danielle does not appreciate. Anyway, Cody tries to reconcile his burgeoning mer-identity with his human upbringing, and also just absolutely crush it at the most well attended state swim meet ever. However, a time comes when he must make a very difficult choice between his human life and and mer-heritage. Kidding! This is a Disney movie, so it goes completely bonkers trying to make it a happy ending for everyone. So get ready for an Olympic-sized swimming pool of aquatic nonsense!

Don’t Look Under the Bed

This week Danielle brings the tween horror with one of her favorite movies, the 1999 Disney Channel Original Movie: Don’t Look Under the Bed. When teen Francis Bacon (yes, seriously) wakes up one day to find all the clocks in her completely average town have been moved forward by hours, and all the neighborhood dogs coaxed on to the roofs of the houses, she knows she’s in for a weird day. Only the weirdness comes not from those events but from how all the adults instantly blame this innocent child for the hijinks. Oh also, she starts seeing a boy named Larry Houdini (yes, still seriously) that no one else can see, and who claims to be an imaginary friend, but not her imaginary friend. Francis being the logical sort, decides to tell just everyone around her about the invisibly boy and constantly ask if people can see the boy that only she can see. To no one’s surprise but her own, this does not work. Larry reveals that he was her brother’s imaginary friend until she recently (or not recently, the timeline makes very little sense) convinced her brother not to believe in imaginary friends so he could focus on his leukemia treatments. This movie is amazingly insane. Anyway, Larry is upset by that, but also reveals that the person framing Francis for all the pranks is the Boogeyman, or rater a particular Boogeyman (Boogeyperson?), who has a vendetta against Francis. Also, she can see Larry for no reason other than that he thinks “she needs him”. Eventually, Francis and Larry construct an anti-Boogey weapon called a Temporalfuge and some Boogey bait called Boogey Goo. Now Larry and Francis need to travel into Boogeyworld to try and save her brother by venturing under the bed, but Larry is struggling with an unwanted transformation. Hopefully, Larry and Francis can make it out of Boogeyworld alive, otherwise Larry may end up dressed as a Victorian lord speaking in rhyming couplets like the other Boogeyman. How has this movie not won all the awards?

Paradise Hills

This week Danielle brings the style with the 2019 sci-fi film Paradise Hills. Meet Uma (Emma Roberts), someone who wears a metal cage on her face for her wedding veil and sings creepy songs to her new husband for a toast. But to become this perfect bride, some months ago she was shipped off to an island reform school for headstrong upper class ladies (Uppers) called Paradise Hills. There she meets the very odd head of the school known as The Duchess (Milla Jovovich) and immediately starts just telling her all about her life and secret lovers even though she doesn’t trust anyone there. She also meets fellow “students” Chloe (Danielle Macdonald), Yu (Awkwafina), and famous singer Amarna (Eiza González), and despite their strong desire to escape one night, they all fall asleep instead and never speak of it again. Uma spends her weeks on the island wandering among the many rose gardens, eating meals of two asparagus and a glass of milk, and engaging in therapy with The Duchess. Eventually, Amarna graduates and is sent off the Island, and the next that Uma sees of her on TV Amarna seems to be a completely different person; spooky. Sam grows increasingly exasperated with a movie that seems more interested in making weird looking scenes than in making sense. To wit, one day Uma is strapped to a carousel horse and lifted high in the air and then shown a looping video of her arranged fiancé—whom she does not like—proclaiming how awesome he is for hours on end. Why this is done is utterly baffling, and made only more so when the movie’s big twist is revealed. Well, one of the big twists, because the ending is so totally bonkers it nearly breaks Sam. So join us for a movie that’s fun to watch and pretty to look at, but is perhaps the most-nonsensical media we’ve covered this year.