Why “People We Hate At The Wedding” Just Might Be Your Next Favorite Rom-Com Misadventure

Why “People We Hate At The Wedding” Just Might Be Your Next Favorite Rom-Com Misadventure

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!

4 Things That Make Dan Levy’s “The Big Brunch” So Alluring

4 Things That Make Dan Levy’s “The Big Brunch” So Alluring

I love brunch.

Savory, sweet, a fun combination… I will eat pancakeswaffles, fries, quiche, a great bagel, and shmear, or otherwise. Give me bellinis and rose, citrus juice, or a hot chocolate concoction. This delicious ritual of great friends enjoying each other’s company is something I have always been on board with.

So when Dan Levy’s face popped up on HBO next to the term “brunch,” I had to check it out. Here is why I believe you should take some time to enjoy this offbeat chef’s challenge show, “The Big Brunch.”

The Cast Is Inclusive

Whoever was involved in casting this show did an impeccable job. They chose people from all racial backgrounds, religious and social affiliations, cultures, and regions. Some of their chefs were professionally trained, while many had complicated and beautiful backstories that made their vision for their meals come alive.

Take, for example, fan-favorite Catie Randazzo, who is the Executive Chef of Huckleberry Bakery & Cafe in Santa Monica. She can come to some hard self-realizations during the show, and her vulnerability makes her endlessly relatable. Or Danielle Sepsy, a pastry chef from New York who has already made quite the name for herself through her elaborate and eye-popping confections, as well as her wholesale business.

Then there’s Roman Wilcox, co-owner of the first 100% plant-based food business in El Paso. You can find his culture and family traditions sprinkled throughout his creations, as he explores flavors that led him to his own meatless diet in recent years.

Episode Themes Make It Original

While many chef competition shows explore multiple ideas per episode, The Big Brunch simplifies things with a cohesive theme throughout each episode. Take, for example, Episode 1 Today’s Brunch Special is You. From the name alone, you get the impression that the chefs have been tasked with representing themselves, somehow, on their plates.

And that is exactly what is happening. The episode allows each chef to introduce themself uniquely, using ingredients and techniques they are fond of or that represent a part of them. It is an incredible icebreaker and gets the audience to consider how they would present themselves if given the opportunity.

The chefs get especially vulnerable in the third episode, titled “Farm to Table Brunch.” They get to individually dive into clean ingredients and this is where we begin to truly see the emotional side to some of them. This is especially true for those who have started their clean food journeys, which it seems they are all very cognizant of the importance of.

The Recipes Are Accessible

Incredible-looking courses created in front of a camera for me to learn about? Sign me up! While some recipes are a little bit more difficult to master, many of them are created with simple ingredients and accessibility in mind. If you really want to see an eye sore, tune into the bread episode, Carb Loading Brunch.”

Looking for a spin on Thanksgiving and other cold-weather holiday favorites? Explore episode #7, Holiday Brunch. We may have snagged a few tips to make this year’s festive favorites a little more elevated than usual!

Dan Levy Is The Host And 1 Of 3 Judges

Need I say more?

If I must, the man’s biting sense of humor perfectly entangles with his affinity for food and helping to make people’s dreams come true. The winner comes away with a cool $30k, and the others get infinite wisdom – and humor – from the judges.

‘La Pitchoune: Cooking in France’ Just Debuted on HBO Max – 6 Things We Enjoy About This Series

‘La Pitchoune: Cooking in France’ Just Debuted on HBO Max – 6 Things We Enjoy About This Series

Have you ever heard of recipe-free cooking? I mean, as someone who has always experimented in the kitchen, this concept hardly seemed foreign at first glance. However, before indulging in the new series La Pitchoune: Cooking in France (presented by the Magnolia Network and HBO Max), I didn’t have a leg up in my cooking. I didn’t take the time to understand the ingredients, the textures, and the flavors.

The show took an educational dive into a real-life experience led by a no-recipe pact. Here’s what I loved about it.

1. The Story is Inspiring

In 2015, Makenna Held, the Lead Creative & Executive Director of La Pitchoune and the Courageous Cooking School, took a leap of faith and purchased La Pitchoune — or “Little One”, affectionately referred to as “La Peetch” — the Provencal vacation home of Paul and Julia Child. (Yes, THAT Julia Child.) She had a strong, inexplicable pull to the listing. Trusting her intuition paid off. 

After landing in France, she started to create the framework that would soon become the Courageous Cooking School, her recipe-free cooking experience. In 2019, she married the love of her life – and Historian for La Peetch and Curriculum Director of the Courageous Cooking School – Chris Nylund at Bamafam and La Peetch.

2. The Kitchen at La Pitchoune is Magical

“Cooking in La Peetch kitchen is so magical because of the history and because of the past that it has,” Held gushes. “The fact that there are so many original things in the kitchen and there’s so much energy in that space. It’s just such a little snapshot in time and it’s connected to so many people who have been so important to shaping food and food culture. Also, it’s a kitchen with so much history and beauty and such a functional workshop. I think ultimately, that’s what makes cooking in kitchens like that so beautiful.”

3. The La Pitchoune Property History Adds Character 

And she isn’t wrong. The kitchen has been maintained almost exactly as it was when Julia resided there. Many of the kitchen utensils belonged to Julia herself. When you take each item off the pegboard, you can see its outline so you know exactly where it goes. It’s a system and a work of art all in one. Even just watching on a television screen, you feel chills watching the camera pan that space. Every. Single. Time. 

The overgrowth of the ivy along the side of the building is picturesque, coupled with some of the most gorgeous hillside panorama shots you have ever seen. The property is luscious, the guests seem captivated. Through the historical explanations littered throughout the episodes encouraged by Nylund, the property almost comes alive, both in how it is presented now alongside snapshots and stories of its past.

4. Courageous Cooking School Graduates Stick Around

Those who enjoyed their time at the Courageous Cooking School at La Pitchoune usually stick around. Many people go back for repeat vacations and cooking school experiences and the property gets a lot of referrals from previous guests. During the pandemic, they truly leaned into the idea of digital recipe-free classes. While there was a more in-depth paid experience, they hosted live streams and posted continuing education with recipe-free cooking lessons, posting the recipe in advance so people could procure their ingredients. 

One La Peetch remote employee participated in both the digital and in-person experience. “It took participating in the cooking school in person to relly grasp the framework and gain the courage to experiment alongside other guests!” Erin P.S. Zimmerman, Associate Producer on the project admitted. 

“I knew that the cooking school needed to be introduced to the world in a broader way,” Zimmerman explained. “With her personality, the framework, the location, and the team she’s gathered – it was the perfect storm for an entertaining, transformation-driven storyline!”

5. The Cooking Lessons Are Simplified and Accessible

In the first episode of the series, Makenna and her cohort Kendall tackle a basic. They approach the perfect omelet with their students. Many viewers learned a specific flipping trick to create the perfect texture and fold that day. This is a fact confirmed by a slew of comments and photos via social media. What a simple, beautiful recipe to ease the viewers into!

Each episode is sure to highlight the greenery that sets the backdrop for well-rounded meals and experiences. There is an educational angle to each episode that is charming. I feel like I am getting the cliffs notes version, but watching this show just makes me want to book the next available experience.

6. Adventure is Encouraged at La Pitchoune

The storyline goes on beautiful tangents to other villages and towns. It follows the owners on side projects, adventures to markets, and gorgeous experiences along the countryside. We get to see inside cheese shop storefronts and flower markets. Not to mention produce stands and fish shops, among so many other places. These sidebars make their true immersion into the culture feel authentic and sincere. 

It serves to inspire others that adventure is wildly encouraged to succeed in life. 

‘Hocus Pocus 2’ Is Finally Here (And It’s Wickedly Good)

‘Hocus Pocus 2’ Is Finally Here (And It’s Wickedly Good)

29 years.

We waited 29 years to experience these witches again. The long-awaited sequel to the cult classic Hocus Pocus was released just in time for the witching season, on September 30, 2022. Just 29 years, 2 months, and 2 weeks after Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy, and Sarah Jessica Parker portrayed the most wicked trio of sisters the silver screen had ever encountered. 

Equal parts sass, silliness, captivating humor, and darkness, the first film created a movement of witch-adjacent fans. Holding onto that sense of magic, that belief in powers and the safety of nostalgia has kept its fire fueled all this time. So, of course, the whole world went wild when the sequel was announced.

The Deets on Hocus Pocus 2

In all honesty, my expectations were low. Three decades removed, Hocus Pocus 2 was written by producer and actress Jen D’Angelo, who was just 5 years old when the first movie made its theatrical debut. While I am a very big fan of the first movie, I was afraid enough of the characters in my early years. I didn’t get into the fandom side of things until much later in life. Still, how could this new movie possibly do the original any justice? 

Let me tell you, this movie was enjoyable above and beyond all expectations. It begins by establishing the (honestly heartbreaking) history of how the Sanderson sisters became witches in a dark forest as orphaned teenagers. It quickly swoops us back to present-day Salem, where holistic wellness and mindset work mirrors witchcraft that dates back centuries. Three teen girls reignite their friendship through a high-energy plotline. It brings back key characters and highlights the importance of community and friendship. 

What’s The Final Verdict?

Aside from the rogue religious rant here and there about the unholiness of witchcraft (many of whom clearly never saw the original), the movie is getting high praise from fans everywhere. Critical acclaim, however, has been a little more difficult to come by. Rotten Tomatoes only rates it at 63%, and most of the negative reviews I have happened upon indicated the plot was too simple, but most sequels are mirrors of the original plotlines.

This one is more tongue-in-cheek, the characters and their personalities are so much more diverse, and the lessons to be learned echo louder than they ever have before. My personal social media feed was full of insanely positive reviews within the first 48 hours of release. This, in turn, convinced me to dig in quickly. 

Like the original, there was a lot of attention and care put into the soundtrack. While the Sanderson Sisters’ cover of “I Put a Spell On You” became a huge hit in the 90s, their entrance in this film is just as theatrical with their fun spin on Elton John’s “The Bitch is Back.” 

From thoughtful easter eggs to the inclusion of popular technology and skincare, the movie is truly delightful from beginning to end. It is available to watch on Disney+ now.

after postponement, the goo goo dolls reinvigorate their kansas city fans

after postponement, the goo goo dolls reinvigorate their kansas city fans

On a mid-summer night at the beginning August of 2022, The Goo Goo Dolls took the stage to an (almost) sold-out crowd at Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri. A show that had been postponed from a previously scheduled date, there was heightened energy around the event.

The Goo Goo Dolls riveted the audience with a 23-song setlist. They brought the heat starting with the first lines of opener “Yeah, I Like You,” an effervescent track from this year’s self-reflective Chaos in Bloom. Along with their new work, they played the audience through a multitude of hits and favorites. “Slide,” “Here Is Gone,” “Black Balloon,” and “Lucky Star” were all performed within the first ten songs. And there was no room for slowing down there.

Bassist/vocalist Robby Takac brought his quintessential “ball of fun” energy to the stage all night long–this time around, notably wearing shoes, which isn’t necessarily his MO–dazzling the crowd with some deep-cut tracks in moments you can only classify as magic. As many post-pandemic shows have gone along to prove, The Goo Goo Dolls’ influence spans generations, as people of all ages and demographics came out to enjoy the show despite the blistering midwest heat. (I wore a neck fan I borrowed from my parents, and have no shame around that fact.)

As someone who has had the honor of seeing this storied band perform live multiple times during their time in the limelight, I can firmly say that their performance felt different this time around. Though there were kaleidoscope lighting features and the same level of excitement coming from the band members as in previous shows, there was an extra layer of sheer joy emanating from the stage. You could sense Johnny Rzeznik’s (guitarist, vocalist) weightlessness as he beamed at the audience, appreciating the moment much more, perhaps, than anyone could have pre-pandemic.

If you stayed through to the end, you had the benefit of singing along to “Name,” “Broadway,” “Iris,” and more, and may have even had the privilege of singing along to a beautiful, showstopping cover of Petty‘s “Runnin’ Down a Dream.” It felt like glitter was falling over the crowd if you took the chance to gaze up at the starry night sky at that moment.

Until you remembered that, with the end of the show comes the end of the beautiful distraction. And you’re actually outside. Sweating from every pore. And the band is gone.

But–if you’re one of the lucky few–the black balloons that were passed around the audience might not be gone. (And we treasure a show souvenir.)

**words + photos by meredith schneider

4 Things I Learned While Binging Hulu’s MAGGIE (RIP)

4 Things I Learned While Binging Hulu’s MAGGIE (RIP)

When you hear me say I’m about to talk about the television show “Maggie,” there is a chance some of you might have flashbacks to reruns of the 1998 single-season series starring Ann Cusack, John Getz, and John Slattery. In that, a middle-aged Maggie returns to veterinarian school and approaches life from a different perspective.

But HULU just released the first season of “MAGGIE” — a sitcom about a young woman with psychic abilities (Rebecca Rittenhouse) and the obstacles that crop up after she thinks she has seen a vision into her own future. She grapples with her idea of what ethics a psychic needs to live by and how she thinks society views psychics. She also wonders what leverage she has over the ability to adjust her visions, and struggles with curiosity over that impact.

Everything is all the more complicated as a one-time hookup – and a man from that vision – moves into the lower level of a property her parents own with his long-term girlfriend while she occupies the upstairs apartment.

Sound silly and weird? Surprisingly, it has more depth to it than you might think. Here are four things we can all learn from watching a show like MAGGIE, below.


What Watching Maggie Can Teach Us

1. To Recognize and Appreciate All Of Yourself

The first half of the season focuses on how Maggie sees the world as a psychic and intuitive. It throws acute observance onto the fact that she is hesitant to fully embrace who she is. The second half of the season sees Maggie unable to cope when her intuition falters and she is no longer able to see visions. Her sense of self was more wrapped in her abilities, than in herself.

Just like Maggie, we all need to see that just because other people may not see all of our unique, wonderful sides doesn’t mean they are not valuable. We need to put time and attention into all of the things that we love, all of the people we adore and all of the hobbies we have. This will allow you to have other interests and fallbacks if something doesn’t work out, or if one interest burn outs.

2. To Be Honest When Establishing Relationships

The entire first season, Maggie is grappling with the guilt of sleeping with a man who is now her neighbor. For reasons we won’t spoil, Maggie finds herself feeling bad, as an empath often can. And that feeling discourages her from being open with her new friend Jessie about her dating history.

One big thought I had while watching this entire season was that Maggie could have avoided a lot of her strife with an open and honest conversation. If anyone wants to establish a lasting relationship, it should start with an open and honest dialogue that sets you up right.

3. To Know That You Create Your Own Destiny

After Maggie sees herself in someone else’s future, she begins to heavily rely on her psychic abilities to inform her decision-making.

When Maggie’s powers to see into the future abandon her mid-season, she is thrown into an identity crisis, though. First of all, who is she without this insane and unique ability to tap into the future? Does she have other talents and hobbies that can lead her into another career or pastime? The second part of her crisis is that she feels like she has no control over how she maneuvers her new relationship.

Like Maggie, we can all benefit from learning that we do have the power to create our own destinies, even if it’s not how we imagined it to unfold. And that’s okay.

4. To Stop Stressing About The Future

All of this brings me to my last point. As a habitual worry-wort, I have never had the luxury of a stress-free life. But, examining everything from the perspective of having the ability to see into the future seems heavy and stressful as well.

Worrying about how you are influencing an outcome or your own future is a fair thought to have, but focusing on it can be so detrimental. Not only does it take you out of the here and now, but it blocks you from appreciating what you do have at this moment. It distracts you from enjoying your surroundings, accomplishments, and community.

We can all truly benefit from stopping how much we put our energy into stressing about the future.