The Wizard of Oz

Welcome to The Water Cooler, a weekly feature where the /Film staff is free to go off-topic and talk about everything except the movies and TV shows they normally write about. In this edition: Ben watches a cinematic classic outside, Brad picks up Pokemon Go again, Jacob falls in love with a podcast, Jack checks out Friends From College, Hoai-Tran indulges her K-pop obsession again, and Chris watches Ozark.

Ben Pearson Attended an Outdoor Screening of The Wizard of Oz

This past weekend, my wife and I went to an outdoor secret screening that a friend hosted in the backyard of her house. She set up a bunch of clues beforehand and had food that was themed appropriately for the movie so we could try to guess what we’d be watching, and after dinner, our friend revealed that the movie she was screening was The Wizard of Oz. The 1939 classic is my dad’s favorite movie (and one of the surviving Munchkins lived fairly close to us when I was a kid), so I watched it a lot when I was growing up. But it had probably been 15 years since I’d seen it, and after talking about it with my wife, we decided it might be the perfect choice for an outdoor summer night screening like this.

The Wizard of Oz is one of those movies that everyone should see, but it’s probably not in very many people’s regular rotation of things they just throw on to watch; I’m guessing I wasn’t the only one who hadn’t seen it in years. There were some kids there who I’m guessing hadn’t seen it at all, so even if it were just for them, that’d be a good enough reason to choose it. But it’s also a classic movie that holds up wonderfully, it’s lighthearted and uplifting in a time when we needed a release from our current political hellscape, and it’s easy to get lost in its vibrant, rich colors and swept away in its memorable songs.

Plus, who’s going to be pissed off at the idea of watching The Wizard of Oz? It’s an excellent choice, and it inspired me to refresh my memory about the movie’s fascinating production history – including the time the actress playing the Wicked Witch was horrifically burned during a stunt gone wrong. If you haven’t heard some of the stories about the making of this film, you should definitely check them out.

Pokemon Go

Ethan Anderton Has Been Completing Raids in Pokemon GO

All the rage surrounding Pokemon GO died down relatively quickly after the game became a huge hit last summer. Game developer Niantic didn’t keep the game interesting enough for an extended period of time and the gameplay got boring. Thankfully, ever since the disastrous Pokemon GO Fest in Chicago (which happened the same weekend as San Diego Comic-Con), the introduction of legendary Pokemon available in raid battles at the overhauled Pokemon gyms has reinvigorated the game and gotten players back outside to catch some powerful Pokemon.

In the weeks following Pokemon GO Fest, new legendary Pokemon have been released to the game. So far they’ve included Articuno, Moltres and Zapdos as companions to the Mystic, Valor and Instinct teams respectively within the game. Plus, the Pokemon bird Lugia has been part of the raid battles as well, introducing a new way for players to unite and cooperate to catch some powerful Pokemon. It’s made for a fun addition to the game that has gotten me to start playing way more often, and so far I’ve caught all the legendary birds (and I’ve picked up a Tyrannitar too, which is pretty great).

Plus, Pokemon GO shows no signs of slowing down their continued updates with raid battles, because the latest Pokemon GO event in Japan announced that Mewtwo will be coming to the game as part of an exclusive raid battle that players will have available to them sometime soon. In the meantime, all the legendary birds are available in the game until the end of August, so round up some friends and see if you can defeat and catch them.

Friends from College Trailer

Jack Giroux is Watching Friends From College

Friends from College is a very watchable show about mostly unlikable people. In spite of some problems, and almost in spite of itself, it works. After watching the first few episodes for the cast – somehow I missed the fact Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) co-created the series with Francesca Delbanco – I checked out the reviews. I was surprised and unsurprised by the overwhelming negative response to the new Netflix comedy, which is four hours of characters who are bound to turn a lot of people off. They are sometimes difficult to empathize with. I think going back and forth over the ensemble and their choices created a sense of engagement and a bit of honesty, which is sometimes overshadowed by a few plot turns and conflicts too broad for an otherwise grounded series.

The show isn’t without its laughs. It’s directed by the filmmaker behind Forgetting Sarah Marshall and The Muppets, so no real surprise there. Some of the humor, again, is a bit too broad, but with a cast like Cobbie Smoulders, Keegan-Michael Key, Nat Faxon, Fred Savage, Jae Suh Park, and Annie Parisse, many of the jokes hit their mark. The biggest laughs come from Greg Germann and Ike Barinholtz. Barinholtz makes one joke and facial expression that made me rewind more than once to watch it again (his clown laugh in Neighbors II: Sorority Rising made me do the same). He plays completely convincing and authentic jerks.

Friends from College can sometimes feel patted and long-winded, but there’s a lot to like in the unlikability of these characters. Their flaws are at the front and center of the show. Even when they’re at their worst, they can still earn empathy, especially Annie Parisse as Marianne. She’s fantastic.

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