Andy Samberg Is Starring In A New Romcom

Andy Samberg’s New Upcoming Romantic Comedy Is The Film That I Didn’t Know I Needed Until Now

I'm on a boat m*********** don't you ever forget! - "I'm On A Boat" by The Lonely Island

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Yes, you read that right. Andy Samberg, aka Jake Peralta on "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," member of the iconic parody band The Lonely Island (also featuring Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone), co-producer of the new Hulu show "Pen15", and notable SNL alum, is starring in new romcom — and I could not be more excited to see it.

He literally revolutionized meme culture with this video. media1.giphy.com

Skeptics might try and say that Samberg doesn't have the range. I'm here to dispute that. Andy has acted or lent his voice to multiple films of various genres, including "Hot Rod," the "Hotel Transylvania" saga, "Celeste and Jesse Forever" (aka C&JF;), "Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs," and "Popstar: Never Stop Never Popping." While not all of his movies do spectacularly at the box office, ones like "Hot Rod" have become cult classics. Others have stated that his work in the romantic comedy C&JF; really displayed his acting abilities. I have no doubt that Andy can pull this off.

He's like cheese or a fine wine. Gets better with age. media2.giphy.com

Some of you may not even know the impact that Andy Samberg (and the Lonely Island) have made on pop culture, or why they're even relevant today. In 2005, they released the SNL skit "Lazy Sunday." It was one of the first videos to literally blow up overnight, and redefined virality. They had become superstars. Over the next few years, they released classics like "Natalie Raps," "Jack Sparrow," "I'm On A Boat," and the song that won them an Emmy, "D*** In A Box." They continue to subvert expectations and create great art while staying funny and true to themselves, and I think that's why they're still so loved today.

This boat is REAL!!!! media2.giphy.com

And another thing — Andy Samberg absolutely crushes it in "Brooklyn Nine-Nine." I've already described my love for the show, but I don't think I've touched on how good of an actor Samberg is in it. I mean, have you seen his heart eyes?! He's going to crush his new movie. And did I mention he's 40 and still looks 25? What's not to love?

C&JF; is seriously so underrated. media2.giphy.com

I don't know how many Andy Samberg fans there are out there besides me and a very niche group of people, but that doesn't matter. We're here to support his career, and if that means going to see a very cheesy movie based around Palm Springs, that's exactly what we're going to do.

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The 9 Eras Of Disney Animation

The evolution of Disney animation over the years
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As a kid I always loved movies, and no movies did it quite for me like Disney movies did. Whether they were old or new, there was something about Disney movies that just spoke to me. The music the characters, the stories-- they all helped to shape some of my fondest childhood memories and are responsible for many of my interests and beliefs today. But what I always found most interesting is the history behind these films, how the time they came out influenced their themes and meanings. So today I’ll be exploring just that-- the nine eras of Disney animations.

1923-1928: The Silent Era and the Origins of Disney

The history of Disney begins with the Silent Era. In 1923, Walt Disney, working for Laugh-O-Gram studios out of Kansas City, Missouri, created a short film called Alice’s Wonderland, which would serve as the first of the Alice Comedies. After the company declared bankruptcy, Walt moved to Hollywood, where he and his brother Roy formed Disney Brothers Cartoon Studios. They worked out a deal with Winkler Productions to produce the Alice Comedies and eventually, in 1926, moved their company to Hyperion Street, where it was renamed Walt Disney Studios. After the decline of the Alice Comedies, Walt created his first ever original character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, and produced 26 short comedies starring the character before a falling out with Charles Mintz, who had by 1928 taken over Winkler Productions. Legally, Oswald belonged to Mintz and his company, so he took the character and four of Disney’s animators and started a new animation company, Snappy Comedies.

1928-1937: Pre-Golden Age and Mickey Mouse

The Pre-Golden Age saw Walt recovering from the loss of Oswald and also set the stage for Disney as we know it today. In 1928, Walt, in collaboration with Ub Iwerks, created a new character that he originally named Mortimer Mouse. However, his wife didn’t like the name, so he renamed him Mickey (I think we can all agree this name is much better). Mickey made his first appearance in 1928 in a test screening of the short film called Plane Crazy. However, the film failed to pick up a distributor, so Walt went back to the drawing board and created Steamboat Willie, which was released in 1928. The film was an immediate success due to the fact that it was the first cartoon to feature synchronized sound and established Mickey as the mascot of Disney. After this, a series of Mickey Mouse cartoons were released. This series also saw the introduction of many Disney staple characters, such as Minnie Mouse, Pluto, and Goofy. Donald Duck, another iconic Disney character, first appeared in Disney’s Silly Symphonies, a series of animated short films that were popular for their innovative use of Technicolor. With this, Walt had successfully bounced back from the hardships of the Silent Era and set the stage for the Golden Age of Disney.

1937-1942: The Golden Age

The Golden Age of Disney began in 1937 with the release of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The film was the first full-length feature film to use traditional animation and was an immediate commercial success, establishing Disney as one of the leaders of animated filmmaking. Other films that were released during this time include Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo, and Bambi. Although all of these films would go on to become considered classics, at the time of their release only Snow White and Dumbo were commercially successful. What made this time considered the Golden Age wasn’t the commercial success of these films though, but rather the trends they created in terms of Disney filmmaking. Snow White was the first of the fairytale-based movies that Disney is known for and established the “Disney Princesses,” Pinocchio started the concept of taking well-known literature and turning it into a child-friendly film and Bambi explored the possibilities of making a movie through the eyes of a non-human character. Other Disney staples such as exaggerated villains, the use of music and prominent, comedic sidekicks were first introduced during this time as well. Another key characteristic of the films of this time was the inclusion of many dark scenes, which were usually sandwiched between upbeat and light scenes in order to create a mood shift. A similar, toned down version of this techniques would also be used in later films.

1943-1949: The Wartime Era

With the U.S.’s entry into World War II, Disney Studios faced lower budgets and a smaller team of animators as it entered the Wartime Era. Also known as the Package Era, the films of this time included Saludos Amigos, The Three Caballeros, Make Mine Music, Fun and Fancy Free, Melody Time, and The Adventures of Icabod and Mr. Toad. What made these films distinct from the Golden Age films is that instead of telling a single, continuous story, these films consisted of multiple short films within each. These films are largely ignored and widely unpopular, with fans criticizing them due to their lack of consistency and tone in each short. The Wartime Era also Disney Studios producing wartime propaganda, which included anti-Nazi commercials and flyers encouraging Americans to support the war.

1950-1967: The Silver Age and the Death of Walt Disney

Disney’s Silver Age, also known as the Restoration Age saw the return of many of the trends set forth by the Golden Age of Disney. Films released during this time include Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, The Sword in the Stone, and The Jungle Book. What made these films distinct from its predecessors was the use of more ornate backgrounds and softer colors. Furthermore, the Silver Age also saw the use of lighter themes balanced with more complex characters, creating many of the well-known characters that are still considered fan-favorites today. The Jungle Book was the last film that Walt himself worked on before his death in 1966, and the movie’s release marked the end of the Silver Age

1970-1988: The Dark Age and the Decline of Disney

Hope you guys have a flashlight ‘cos we’re about to enter a dark place, or rather a dark age (see what I did there?). The Dark Age of Disney, also known as the Bronze Age, saw Disney Studios struggle to find their footing without Walt there to hold the reins. This was a time of trial-and-error in which the animators shied away from traditional storytelling tropes seen in the Golden and Silver Ages and instead shifted toward darker and more secular stories. Films released during this time include The Aristocats, Robin Hood, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, The Rescuers, The Fox and the Hound, The Black Cauldron, The Great Mouse Detective, and Oliver and Company. With the exception of The Great Mouse Detective, which was both critically and commercially successful, most of these films only received little success, with The Black Cauldron being a box office flop. These films lacked Walt’s imagination and were criticized for only being intended to bring in money. The greatest criticism of these films was their departure from traditional animation and their use xerography. This saved both time and money, allowing animators to directly print their drawings onto cells. However, this process did have its limits and initially only black lines were possible using this method. As a result, films during this era are known as “Scratchy Films” because of the heavy black lines in their animation. While these films weren’t initially successful upon release, many have gone on to become cult classics. Also, the Disney Dark Age helped set the foundation for the pinnacle of Disney animation

1989-199: The Disney Renaissance and Birth of the Millennials

If you’re a millennial like me, then most of your favorite Disney moments and films likely come from the Disney Renaissance. The Disney Renaissance saw a return to the musical fairy-tale storytelling seen in the Golden and Silver Age while at the same time expanding on many of the themes and techniques introduced in the Bronze Age. Films released during this time include The Little Mermaid, The Rescuers Down Under, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, Pocahontas, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Mulan, and Tarzan. These films were also the first films that Howard Ashman and Alan Menken worked on, both of whom are key elements to Disney’s musical success. The films during this time also had many important themes that would influence the current views of millennials; Beauty and the Beast and The Hunchback of Notre Dame taught us not to judge people by their appearances; Mulan and Hercules taught us the importance of making sacrifices; and Aladdin taught us that there’s nothing wrong with being ourselves and that the circumstances of our birth don’t have to dictate who we grow up to be.

2000-2009: Post-Renaissance Era

Also known as the Second Dark Age, the Post-Renaissance Era was unique in that whereas previous eras were marked with having a common theme about them, this era was defined as a time in which Disney tried their hands at new methods in storytelling, similar to the Bronze Age. Films from this time include Fantasia 2000, Dinosaur, The Emperor's New Groove, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Lilo and Stitch, Treasure Planet, Brother Bear, Home on the Range, Chicken Little, Meet the Robinsons, and Bolt. These films explored new storytelling elements marketed towards kids and more mature themes marketed towards the kids that had grown up during the Disney Renaissance that were now teenagers and young adults. While Lilo and Stitch was a commercial success, spawning several sequels and a T.V. show, most of the other films released during this time only received moderate success. This was in part due to the fact that they also had to contend with huge movie franchises like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Despite not doing as well as their predecessors, the films released during the Second Dark Age are well known for their innovation. Dinosaur was the first Disney film that used CGI animation, which would become a popular element of this era’s successor.

2010-present: Marvel, Star Wars, and the Second Disney Renaissance

Just as a Renaissance followed the first Disney Dark Age, a Second Disney Renaissance followed this Second Dark Age. Also known as the Revival Era, this era marked a return to the fairy-tale storytelling seen in the Gold and Silver Ages as well as the first Disney Renaissance. During this time, Disney bought the rights to Marvel and Lucasfilm, meaning they no longer had to worry about trying to market their films toward older audiences since the MCU and Star Wars did that for them. Films released during this time include Princess and the Frog, Tangled, Winnie the Pooh, Wreck it Ralph, Frozen, and Big Hero 6. Like the first Disney Renaissance, the Second Disney Renaissance built off several things introduced by its predecessor. Tangled, for example, used the CGI techniques first used by Dinosaur. Most of the films of this era have been met with great popularity, with Frozen being the highest grossing animated film of all time and Big Hero 6 being the highest audience-rated film of this time period.

And there you have it, the nine eras of Disney animations. I hope you guys enjoyed reading about the history of Disney and its growth through the years. I personally loved writing this article and look forward to writing more like this one.

Cover Image Credit: Travel and Leisure

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"Russian Doll" Is Just a Groundhog of Another Color

Natasha Lyonne stars in the new dramedy that plays off a familiar trope.

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I'm mostly writing this article to prove a friend wrong.

Haha, what? No, no, no I'm not that petty…okay maybe a little bit. But he's wrong! He's really, really wrong! But maybe we agree on what we're talking about?

What? You want me to go back to the beginning? I can't—

Oh, alright.

So, last week Thursday I had the Netflix original, Russian Doll, recommended to me by no less than three people in a span of four hours. It was good! It was so good! That was the claim they all made, anyways. And they're my friends, after all. I trust them with my TV-watching habits.

So, I tuned in. That very night. I watched.

The first episode was good…and that's kind of it.

Don't get me wrong! In a world rife with uninspired content that doesn't quite hit the mark, it was good. But it wasn't overly so. Not in the kind of preach to the heavens way that my friends had approached me with.

But I shrugged it off. I kept watching. The episodes were only about a half hour, after all. Surely, it'd get better. Surely, it would reach soaring, post-Icarian heights that man could only dream of. Going where none had gone before.

But it didn't. It merely stayed good.

Now, don't get me wrong, that's no small feat. There's plenty of shows that start off good and get the better of themselves as time goes on (looking at you Supernatural). Even as the latest season of Black Mirror is showing us, nothing lasts forever.

So, I tip my hat to you Russian Doll. To your darkly tragicomic self, a buddy comedy taking direct inspiration from Groundhog Day.

Wait, Groundhog Day?

Yes, that's where my friend is indelibly wrong.

A solid purveyor of the concept that nothing is that original anymore, my friend asserts that apparently Russian Doll is distinctly different from Groundhog Day. Which is utter bologna.

I am going to describe a piece of media content in this paragraph: A snarky, stressed out, contemptuous fella finds themself stuck in a time loop. Every time they die, the loop resets, putting them back to the exact same singular moment that they first heard the gentle, drifting melody of a slightly too-upbeat pop song. They try to escape the time loop by fleeing, by dying, by doing literally anything they can. That's when they realize it's futile and that they'll be stuck forever, perhaps even erased from existence, unless they can become a better person.

Now, which product did I describe: Groundhog Day or Russian Doll?

Truth is, I can't tell either.

That's not to say there's nothing distinctive about Russian Doll. Natasha Lyonne is wildly funny and I loved the idea of her being trapped with a "partner in crime" in Charlie Bennett's Alan. The setting is obviously different too (New York vs. Punxsutawney) and the character's drug use provides for some trippy fun, there's no denying.

But in theme, tone, and a lot of jokes, Russian Doll can't escape the shadow of Groundhog Day.

Hell, even in this review in which they try to avoid talking about Groundhog Day they can't avoid talking about Groundhog Day.

And for good reason! Groundhog Day is a brilliant movie that condensed a brilliant concept for a generation. It's such a common staple of contemporary culture that the military widely uses the terminology "Groundhog Day" in its slang. Christ, even Congress has preserved it for all time in its library.

The influence is inescapable and anyone who says differently doesn't know what they're talking about.

Now, does that mean Russian Doll is unoriginal? Or that nothing Hollywood makes nowadays is all that original? No, of course not. To offer a slight concurrence with my friend, everything really does derive from something. One has to look no farther than Jason Campbell's monomyth to realize the stories that we tell are rarely "original" in the lofty ways that we ideally think about them.

But the well-worn trope of living in a time loop, unable to escape via death, only via some higher power or greater good, is so thick in Russian Doll that it's similarities to Groundhog Day are particularly noxious. The show would not be evaluated in the same terms today if it had been released in 1992, forever and a day before Groundhog Day premiered. And that matters.

But Noah, if nothing's original how come you hate Russian Doll more than, say, Black Mirror? Isn't Black Mirror just a reimagining of The Twilight Zone?

Well, firstly, I never said I hated Russian Doll. I happen to like Russian Doll very much. And Black Mirror certainly can't escape its own history, which is necessarily inclusive of The Twilight Zone. Rod Serling's masterpiece series perfected the spooky, thought-provoking anthology series like nothing else before it. Of that there's no denying.

I would contend, however, that Black Mirror does not rely on a singular trope to form its core. While Russian Doll isn't Russian Doll without the die, live, repeat gimmick, remove any similar singular element from Black Mirror, say artificial intelligence, and the show still stands. It moves and breathes of its own accord. While both shows are (mostly) masterfully written, Nadia Vulvokov simply plays the drug-addled redhead to Murray's weatherman Phil Connors if they both don't die and live again.

So call me petty. A hater. A downer. A Debbie downer even. Bottom line? Russian Doll is great. Just not too great.

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