Rachel Burns knows passion. She knows intensity, appreciation, humor, and life. Her music has reached a unicorn “pop-soul-cabaret” genre-bending classification, relatably inspired by her everyday life. As a mother of two and cancer survivor, she could just as easily sing the blues — and most likely very beautifully. Instead, she takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to her art, the culmination of which comes to a head with her new EP release, What a Nasty Woman.
From the very first staccato notes of “Mansplainin'” – which any female-identifying human can probably identify with – through the weight of “Triple D’s” (pun intended), and through to the fade-out of wild-west inspired “Sundown Of The Macho Man,” you are in for a damn treat. Burns has brought just as much sass to her sound as she has talent, and these songs will have you revving up for the weekend the right way. (HELLO to her amped-up version of “All Shook Up”!)
“I like to empower people to empower other people. I’d like to uplift us all with this project,” Burns shares. “When I would dress up as Wonder Woman, I held up a giant sign that said, ‘Time to bust out the golden lasso of truth’ in glitter. Wonder Woman’s superpower was telling the truth. The truth is really powerful; it can break down all kinds of barriers, and I think that’s the kernel of a lot of my music: Truth telling. We’re going to laugh, dance, and be real – and not pussyfoot around anything!”
And pussyfoot she does not. Double entendres like the reference to fingers as “flacid, flimsy” and “soft, limp” in “Tiny Hands” and the entirety of “Triple D’s” are scattered across the 6-track EP, adding just as much joy and giggle to the aftermath of your listen as inspiration and empowerment. Her impressive vocal range is displayed to perfection on What a Nasty Woman, from the soft disposition of “Pollyanna’s Lament” to the deep, guttural performance of “Tiny Hands” and beyond. With nostalgic instrumentation that sets the stage for her theatrical, all-encompassing songs, you may just find yourself with an earworm or two.
On Thursday, March 16th, Colony House brought their Cannonballers Tour to The Truman in Kansas City, Missouri. Pop trio Little Image opened the event, bringing the energy up high enough that the crowd was jumping up and down in unison halfway through the set. For a mid-week show in the midwest (in the snow, mind you), that was enough to have me convinced that even the opener has some lasting power.
Colony House took the stage to a warmed-up crowd, many of whom seemed to genuinely know every word of their music. From the first chords of “Landlocked Surf Rock” through the honest lyricism in “Learning How to Love,” and through on into “Man on the Run,” the crowd was 100% engaged in the performance. (Not even the building blizzard seemed to bring them down.) Fan favorite “One of Those Days” felt a bit anthemic, as the crowd came together in vulnerability and a sense of togetherness.
The 22-song set list was to die for at best, and inspiring at worst. About midway through the event, they did an endearing rendition of Steve Lacy’s “Bad Habit,” a song it seems the crowd – aside from just myself – will never quite tire of. Nostalgic surf rock favorite “You Know It” was the perfectly placed last performed track, allowing the band to assure us that they will be back again.
You People has been the talk of the town, as the cast has been on a larger-than-life press tour. Most late-night talk show hosts have been clinging to the idea of an Eddie Murphy revival. The stacked cast stands on its own even without the comedic talents of one of the most storied celebrities of our time. Shelley (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and Arnold (David Duchovny) are the parents of Ezra Cohen (Jonah Hill), who has recently met and fallen in love with Amira (Lauren London), the daughter of Akbar (Eddie Murphy) and Fatima (Nia Long). The supporting cast includes Molly Gordon, Rhea Pearlman, Taco, and Sam Jay, among others.
The Humor in You People is Often Clunky and Uncomfortable
The plotline centers on the way people of different racial, religious, and ethnic backgrounds look at each other. Everyone has preconceived notions of the way the world is and how it should be. While none of the characters are outright racist, microaggressions that they may never have intended can rear their ugly heads. And this movie created plenty of opportunities to observe this behavior.
Ezra finds himself experiencing a series of unfortunate events stirred on by inherent racism, as does his betrothed. Akbar always imagined his daughter marrying a black man, and his disapproval of Ezra is palpable from the moment they meet at Roscoe’s to discuss the idea of marriage.
The filmmakers chose to have Ezra want to impress them so badly that he missteps and comes off as insensitive as well. This begins with his choice of eatery and the fact that he is proposing the idea of marriage during his first meeting with the family.
While Ezra struggles to level with Akbar throughout the movie, Amira has similar issues with the Cohen family. Ezra’s sister takes a romantic liking to her and his father – who has an affinity for Xzibit and wants the world to know about it – chooses to serenade her with John Legend’s “Ordinary People” in an awkward first meeting moment. His mother? Well, she is on a whole other level, leaning into the “diversity” the family is engaging in a little too much.
Admittedly, the Plotline isn’t Entirely Believable
The plotline goes a little bit too far when Shelley and Akbar take it upon themselves to attend the bachelor and bachelorette parties for their in-laws. These scenes actually make the viewer think, “Why didn’t their significant others or children put a stop to this?” This is the piece of the movie that came off as too wild, too unhinged. The discomfort felt during these scenes could have easily been portrayed in other, more believable ways. Plenty of moms have made themselves seem off-the-rocker on the hunt for a bridal gown or at a bridal shower, for example.
But that might be the exact point the writers are trying to make. These ideals are antiquated. The atmosphere they create is uncomfortable. And sometimes you have to sit through the discomfort to truly understand the message of a movie. Race struggles are still at the forefront of the conversation in America, still. It can be difficult to find humor in it, and it is something we should all be working to fix. This commentary and this perspective are necessary because change doesn’t come unless we get uncomfortable.
Have you gotten a chance to check out You People yet? Maybe you can help me find a new discourse for it… and get it out of its lower-rated category on Rotten Tomatoes.
Did we ever think we would address a Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy as an “adventure rom-com?” The answer is, indeed, no. But after watching her latest – an incredibly ludicrous but equally entertaining wedding comedy set in the Phillippines – it seems like that is the best way to describe this action-packed film.
While the idea of a JLo rom-com feels frilly and predictable, the only frills you will find in the new Amazon Prime film Shotgun Wedding would be in the layers of her dress. And only after she rips it into shreds to escape and defeat pirates.
Yup. It’s kind of like that.
So, what makes this film more entertaining than other new releases? Why should you give it the time of day at all? Here are three reasons to indulge in the ridiculousness that is Shotgun Wedding.
Cheech Marin is a Zaddy
Yup. You read that right. The storied Cheech Marin plays Robert, Darcy’s (Lopez) wealthy father. He shows up to her wedding, not only as the lost one true love of her mourning mother Renata (Sōnia Braga) but arm-in-arm with his yoga instructor girlfriend Harriet (D’Arcy Carden), who is decades younger and hiding a few surprises up her sleeves.
Lenny Kravitz Wears Pearls
Lenny Kravitz makes his way into the fold as Sean Hawkins, Darcy’s sexy, alluring ex who works for her father. The kicker? The man shows up in a helicopter after a pity invite, blindsiding the happy couple having never RSVP’d to the wedding. His presence throws more than a wrench into things, but his endless pearl necklace and unbuttoned shirt at the ceremony almost make up for it.
Jennifer Coolidge is a Badass Moonlighting as an Overbearing Mother
Jennifer Coolidge has been on a magnificent acting streak as of late. It seems as though she appears in everything, and you won’t hear us complaining. The woman who made the “bend and snap” a reality now stars as the mother of the groom (Josh Duhamel), whose unappreciated, rusted cake knife gift to the couple may just come in handy when battling pirates on international soil. Her overbearingness is made up for in time, especially when it comes to her surprise ability to handle weaponry.
While we certainly don’t want to provide too many spoilers, we can say that this film took a drastically different course than we initially imagined. Plus, the behind-the-scenes experience for this all-star cast seems to have been an extremely fun and memorable time.
If you’re looking for a movie with romance, golf cart crashes, live grenades, giant diamond rings, and maybe an insane yoga instructor or scorned ex, Shotgun Wedding should be your next movie night go-to.
In case you have been living under a rock or in a hollow tree, Tim Burton’s latest addition to the Disney universe – the series reimagination of The Addams Family, aptly titled Wednesday – has been making waves since its Netflix release on November 23rd. While purists might not be immediately ready to dive in, I binged the series (3 times) and heavily encourage you to do so as well. Here’s why.
“Wednesday” Is A Welcome Departure From Reality
Reality has been dark. But Wednesday? She’s darker. A teen nightmare who is obsessed with all things evil is absolutely entertaining. The closest we can get to having friends like Wednesday is if we unironically hang out with gothic peers or take a time machine back to the aughts emo scene. Existing in the orbit of someone this maniacal isn’t usually a pleasure we all have.
Watching someone use piranhas for their high school revenge schemes is laughable and unrealistic (for the most part), but so out of left field that it’s funny to watch. Having a detached hand named Thing scurrying around and supporting your educational efforts isn’t something you see every day.
Wednesday Is More Relatable This Time Around
Wednesday – now depicted by the indelible Jenna Ortega – seems even more relatable post-pandemic. The disdain for other humans? Check. The quirky ways she moves through life, particularly on the dancefloor? Check. The constant desire to be alone? Check, check, check.
Wednesday’s Humor Is Elevated
Sure, all former portrayals of the character of Wednesday include some heavy dry humor and sarcasm. But the bits in this revival – and Ortega’s delivery of said bits – are absolute gold. Some of our favorite quotable Wednesday moments?
“I don’t bury hatchets. I sharpen them.”
“But drip [coffee] is for people who hate themselves and know their lives have no real purpose or meaning.”
“I don’t need your help or your pity. I already have a mother and a therapist. That’s enough torture, even for me.”
“It’s not my fault I can’t interpret your emotional Morse code.”
“I find social media to be a soul-sucking void of meaningless affirmation.”
The Easter Eggs Are Amazing
What does everyone want out of a follow-up, sequel, or remake? They want callbacks. Give me all the new material you want, but if you can slide props, quotes, cameos, or similar storylines in for nostalgia, you’ve captured my attention. For example, there is a secret society housed in the walls at Wednesday’s outcast school – where her parents met and fell in love – Nevermore. The “passcode” to enter is a quick two-finger snaps. Where have we heard that before?
How about the archery scenes at Nevermore that harken to scenes of Pugsley and Wednesday practicing archery in Addams Family Values? Plus, Wednesday hates pilgrims… if ever there were a nod to Christina Ricci’s portrayal of the character, this is it. You’ll notice this – plus many more references to previous storylines and even Tim Burton’s work – sprinkled throughout.
Wednesday’s Rendition Of “Paint it Black”
I had never heard anything so painfully beautiful until the first episode of this series when Wednesday plays the cello. Her own siren song, it seems, “Paint it Black” by The Rolling Stones was performed by Ortega herself, who learned to play cello for the role. If you tune in for nothing else, this moment will change you.
Holiday-themed romantic comedies are a dime a dozen these days. So when Amazon Prime posted “The People We Hate At The Wedding” to their app during this timeframe, the cynic inside of me jumped for absolute joy. As a single person, I was over the sticky-sweet, predictable cuteness of the regular winter release. As someone who works pretty heavily in the wedding industry? I was ready to see the jaded side of celebration season.
Based on the book by Grant Ginder and directed by Claire Scanlon, the movie follows a brother and sister as their half-sister gets married in an extravagant ceremony overseas. The three siblings, played by Kristen Bell (Alice), Ben Platt (Paul), and Cynthia Addai-Robinson (Eloise) have a strained relationship, with Eloise being particularly estranged from the other two. The trio has a special type of chemistry in the way they choose to fight and play nice throughout the film.
The incomparable Allison Janney plays their mother Donna effortlessly, echoing the “can’t you all just get along?” sentiments that generations of parents have screamed into the abyss.
1. It Humanizes Parents
So many romantic comedies keep the plotline basic and don’t spend time on characters that have, in theory, shaped the protagonists. I can’t speak to the book, but the movie spends considerable time elaborating on Donna’s story. Yes, she is portrayed as a bit of a tightwad and incredibly frustrating for the kids in the beginning. But for once, you get a glimpse into the matriarch’s past, present, and future. You can see her heartache, notice how she supports and protects her children, and view her as an entirely independent character from the three true protagonists.
2. It Is Inclusive
“The People We Hate At The Wedding” focuses on blended families and the pain of comparison in a way that we are not familiar with in modern cinema. It isn’t afraid to vocalize both the beauties and the difficulties of a layered family.
The movie is inclusive of same-sex relationships – like that between Paul and his boyfriend – and engages in the discussion of what emotions come up when trying something like an open relationship.
3. It Examines Self-Worth Through Many Lenses
“The People We Hate At The Wedding” emphasizes a discussion around self-worth as it stands for each character. While Donna explores what makes her truly happy – and begins to find it in an old flame – Paul also has self-reflection time to explore what he wants in a romantic partner. His confidence in both himself and his familial relationships becomes clearer by the end of the movie.
Noticing true character progression in such palpable ways leaves the viewer inspired and excited for self-discovery in their own lives.
4. British Accents Abound
Love a good British accent? This film is largely based in the UK, so you’ll get your fix every so often. Does anyone really need another reason to melt into a new flick?
5. The Misadventures Will Make You Feel Good About Yourself
While the 3-star rating on IMDB might not exactly indicate it, there are moments of pure hilarity in this film that make it truly enjoyable. Like when Eloise absolutely burns Paul’s ex-boyfriend out of absolutely nowhere. Or when drunk Paul can’t stop talking about his breakup at the rehearsal dinner.
Plus, 3 family members end up in jail the week of the wedding. Can you guess who they might be? You’ve got to watch to find out!