FILM

"Matilda" and the Brain-Melting Trend of Movie-Musical-Movies

It's the second announcement this month of a movie based on a musical based on a movie.

Sony and Netflix announced on Tuesday that they will be partnering to produce a new Matilda movie based on the Broadway musical.

If you're feeling confused right now—thinking that you've already seen a Matilda movie based on the Roald Dahl novel, breathe easily with the knowledge that you are not hallucinating a memory of Danny DeVito with bleached blonde hair. It happened. Just as Nelson Mandela survived prison and you grew up reading the Berenstain Bears, you really did watch Miss Trunchbull swing a little girl around by her pigtails in 1996. And this new movie is not attempting to replace the special joy of seeing an eight-year-old Mara Wilson gain magic telekinetic powers and use them to assault authority figures. Nothing can take that away from you, and this new movie isn't even an attempt. It's not a reboot or an update. No, this movie is an adaptation of the Broadway musical that was adapted from the 1996 movie that was based on the 1988 novel.

Danny DeVito

If that sounds like an absurd telephone game of mounting degrees of removal and adaptation, you are clearly just out of touch. This is the latest trend in filmmaking. Last week it was announced that the Broadway musical version of Mean Girls, based on the 2004 movie Mean Girls, is also being adapted into a musical movie that will presumably be called Mean Girls.

When the 2005 film The Producers pioneered the daring approach of making a musical movie based on a live musical that was itself based on a 1967 Mel Brooks film about making a musical, the resounding response was that they had gone too far even for a franchise that was so intentionally self-referential and absurd. The movie bombed despite its all-star cast. But clearly they were just ahead of their time. MTV made a hesitant foray into the same arena when they aired a recording of the Legally Blonde musical based on the 2001 movie, but that was just bringing the existing stage version to a wider audience.

Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane in The Producers

But at long last it appears that the era of movie-musical-movies has finally arrived. In other words, the end times are upon us. If you've managed to read this entire article without getting a nose bleed, you are the chosen one. Let the chorus of angels sing your praises while performing elaborately choreographed dance routines.

TV

Can We Please Stop Casting Bland White Guys as Lead Characters?

Netflix's "Daybreak" features its blandest character

Screen Rant

Netflix's new series, Daybreak, sells itself as a post-apocalyptic teenage Rashomon (the Japanese classic told in divergent perspectives), with a sequence of characters in the trailer each claiming to be the real protagonist.

At its best, the show does capture some of this appeal. It almost makes up for the lack of believable dialogue, compelling world-building, or competent portrayal of youth culture by having a diverse array of vibrant characters—like Wesley Fist, the gay black samurai whose story is narrated by Wu Tang's RZA. But ultimately, the claim that these characters have equal weight is undermined by the show's insistent focus on Colin Ford as "just Josh."

Wesley Fists Wesley Fists, being more Interesting than josh

He's the bland white guy at the center of the story, because that's something Netflix thinks we need. Prior to the apocalypse, he was just a C-student, a recent transfer from Toronto who claimed to only like food from The Cheesecake Factory. He's continually mistaken for "tennis Josh, little Josh with the big truck, gay Josh, and other gay Josh," to which his friends respond that he's "just Josh." His love interest, Sam Dean (a deliberate nod to Colin Ford's stint on Supernatural?) describes him as "terrifically uncomplicated."

Just Josh

After the bombs drop and all the adults are wiped out, Josh's wilderness skills make him a hot commodity, but it all just reads as an excuse to cast the blandest possible white guy and force all the more interesting characters into orbit around him.

As a bland white boy myself, can we please just stop?

There's no need to plaster on a confused approximation of wokeness (no, Daybreak, you can't say "Todd Altman self-identifies his gender as a seahorse" in a hip, accepting way…) and qualify your main character's bland whiteness by saying "but he's supposed to be boring!" What you can do is skip all that by ditching the bland white guy character in the first place.

While Sam Dean—a blonde, sex-positive Pollyanna with an English accent and a heavy dose of damsel in distress—is a shade more interesting than "just Josh," they could both be removed from the show without losing much value. But nope. Daybreak makes them the center of the whole world.

"The Cheermazons"

I mean, there's a turf war for control of hellscape-LA, with cliquish tribes—a la The Warriors—all vying for power. That's pretty fun. And, oh boy! There are even a handful of novel, dynamic characters who are engaging enough to warrant a focus in that unfolding war. Yay! But no. The show insists that Josh's quest to rescue Sam is the really important story.

He can't even have a face believably

Why? Josh just sucks. He feels bad that, pre-apocalypse, he called Sam a sl*t, and he wants to save her so he can win her back. Why should we root for that? He called her a sl*t because she's too cool for him—and she's barely cool. He's the blandest flavor of cottage cheese in a toxic-masculine shell. Even if Colin Ford delivered a stellar performance, it's hard to see how this sh*tty character would be salvageable, let alone worthy of the central role. And Colin Ford is faaaar from stellar...

So, Netflix. Do better. You seem to have the freedom to green-light whatever you want, so why keep centering your stories on the same lame characters? Why is a WASPy half-nerd white guy still the default? Speaking on behalf of us all, even we're bored of us by now.

Plenty of casual Super Bowl viewers tune in solely for commercials, which has inspired a flood of pre-show coverage analyzing marketing strategies and now, early releases of the most high-profile ads. Who cares how Rob Gronkowski's ankle is doing, will anything ever top Google's Parisian Love? Matthew Broderick's Honda CR-V spot set to air during Sunday's game is a take on his 1986 film Ferris Bueller's Day Off, resulting in a healthy portion of '80s nostalgia, only without one crucial element: "Danke Schoen." "Matthew's Day Off," finds Broderick recreating aspects of the epic cinematic field day—the museum trip, untrustworthy valet service, even Sloane's white fringe jacket—but not the traffic-halting, float-riding performance of Wayne Newton's classic. How are we supposed to prep for karaoke night now? In honor of this poor choice by the Honda marketing team, we've included the new commercial as well as the film's performance, lest you need to be reminded of Broderick's original choreography. Behold, Ferris taking the lead on "Danke Schoen" and "Twist and Shout," which have made us perpetually optimistic about any and all parades in the Tri-State area.