In Case You Missed It! (ICYMI) August 19, 2017

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Happy Saturday MMT Fam! I’m starting a new post category called “In Case You Missed It,” or ICYMI for short, to catch you up (and condense) music and movie news bites!

Typically, this info is regularly posted at MMT on Facebook, or my Instagram and Twitter pages, but I wanted to make sure the website subscribers are also “in the know.” 😉

First up,  is the amazing deal Groupon is having for the “ICON” Janet Jackson’s upcoming “State of The World” tour in Philly. You can click here to purchase $40 or $75 tickets – but act quick because they are selling fast!

And if you missed this concert announcement, the one and only Brandy Norwood will appear in Philly on September 23 at the Theatre of the Living Arts (TLA). Get additional information and tickets at tlaphilly.com.

Next up is the streaming event most comic lovers are discussing, the release of the long-awaited Marvel’s The Defenders on Netflix Friday, August 18! Our resident Marvel contributor Darryl King has been super busy with his first love, film making and editing, but I know for a fact that he’s binge-watching the show this weekend, and I pray his schedule allows him to give us a proper review and wax poetic about Luke Cage, Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist soon. 🙂

For those who still don’t have a Netflix subscription, even though we’ve recommended some great watches in the MMT Netflix Picks section, you can sign up for a free month of viewing by clicking the link here!

And congrats are in order for director/producer Malcolm D. Lee, producer Will Packer, and the stars of Girls TripRegina Hall, Tiffany Haddish, Jada Pinkett Smith and Queen Latifah – which grossed 100 million dollars according to yesterday’s box office totals, making it the first film starring, written, directed and produced by African-Americans to reach that mark.

Lastly, if you missed some of the blockbuster films MMT reviewed this year – including Spider-Man: Homecoming, War For the Planet of the Apes, and Girls Trip – cable channel FX will have you covered! According to Deadline Hollywood, the network has acquired several major movies titles from Fox, Universal and Sony for cable broadcasting. So stay tuned to the FX channel schedule for those release dates!

Until next thoughts family, Thomasena

PS – There are advantages to reading to the end! Congrats to subscriber Earlene Drummond, who won that copy of Phoenix Forgotten on DVD/Digital/Blu-ray! We’re giving away a copy of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, courtesy of our friends at HBO Films, soon! So make sure you’re not only following, but interacting with us on the MMT social media sites! I keep on eye out for those active responders 😉

 

 

MMT Quick Review of GIRLS TRIP

Set amidst the Afrocentric treasure that is the Essence Festival, GIRLS TRIP is a hilarious comedic romp, filled with celebrity cameos, entertaining performances, and an intriguing story of friendship, “extreme” fun, foul play and forgiveness. Having attended the festival as a first-timer, only two weeks prior, I was drawn right back to the cadence, charm and party atmosphere of the city, nicknamed “The Big Easy, while viewing.

“Girls Trip” tells the story of four friends – veteran actresses Regina Hall (When The Bough Breaks, The Best Man Holiday), Jada Pinkett-Smith (Gotham, Magic Mike XXL) and Queen Latifah (Star,Bessie), with scene stealing actress/comedian Tiffany Haddish (The Carmichael Show) – who reunite after several years of ups, and major downs for part of the foursome, for a New Orléans trip.

Easy comparisons of the film will be made to “Bridesmaids,” and the more recently released “Rough Night,” which highlights women reuniting for big life events. However, this film avoids the “wedding” trope, and explores universal themes through four African-American women who are reuniting to support and celebrate Hall’s character (Ryan Pierce) being selected as the keynote speaker for the aforementioned fest. As the one who appears to have it all together, Ryan’s friends find out she needs support, in more ways than one, and secrets are revealed that test the boundaries and strength of the “Flossy Posse’s” friendship.

In regards to the cast, let me first say that Tiffany Haddish is a star rising towards an extremely bright path. She not only held her own along side heavyweight female leads, she often stole the show. And Regina Hall, who is adept at providing comic relief in her own right – see 2014’s “About Last Night” as an example – brought it as the straight “man” opposite the comic riot that is Haddish.

As a (gasp) middle age woman, it was also a delight to see Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett-Smith reunited on-screen – and be sure to look out for the nod to their 1996 all female lead hit (hint, hint).

But this just isn’t a film with female star power – with actors such as Larenz Tate (Power, Deuces), Mike Colter (Luke Cage) and newcomer Kofi Siriboe (Queen Sugar) bringing the heat for the male team. The female dominated audience I viewed the film with did everything but stand, although I can’t be sure what happened behind me, with the ovation given to Siriboe when his character is first introduced.

And can Mr. Tate please share what fountain of youth he has located, because he has delayed aging significantly! As friend to the crew and touring bass player Julian, Tate also brought “go for it girl” moments for one of the posse members, and a serious heart-throb factor – especially for one of my companions, who so accurately noted that you could put stills of him from both “Love Jones” and this film side by side and he’d look the same.

All in All, “Girls Trip” was the most fun I’ve had watching a film in a while, and I have no doubt that director Malcolm D. Lee (Barbershop: The Next Cut, The Best Man Holiday) and screenwriters Kenya Barris (Barbershop: The Next Cut, black*ish) & Tracy Oliver (Barbershop: The Next Cut, Survivor’s Remorse) have knocked this one out of the park, will surpass box office expectations, and create an influx of “flossy posses” at next year’s Essence Festival.

Until next thought, Thomasena

 

 

 

GIVEAWAY: advance screening of GIRLS TRIP on July 18 (Philly, PA)

Happy Tuesday MMT Fam! We’ve acquired 25 pairs of passes to the Philly advance screening of the highly anticipated comedy GIRLS TRIP – produced by Will Packer (Ride Along and Think Like a Man franchises, Almost Christmas) and directed/produced Malcolm D. Lee (The Best Man franchise, Barbershop: The Next Cut) – on next Tuesday, July 18.

In the film, four lifelong friends – Regina Hall, Tiffany Haddish, Jada Pinkett Smith and Queen Latifah – travel to New Orléans for the annual Essence Festival and sisterhoods are rekindled, wild sides are rediscovered, and there’s enough dancing, drinking, brawling and romancing to make the Big Easy blush.

Want to put your name in the hat to win tickets? You must be subscribed to this website (and if you also follow MMT on Facebook your chances are doubled!) and send an email to contests@musicmoviesthoughts.com with the subject line “Big Easy” and your full name in the body. Twenty five winners will be selected at random and notified by Sunday, July 16.

You can check out a trailer for the movie below and get additional info at the official website here. GIRLS TRIP opens in theaters nationwide on July 21.

Good Luck!

GIVEAWAY: advanced screening for BAD MOMS on Thursday, July 21 (Philly, PA area)

Bad Moms (STX)

What’s new MMT Fam? We have a great advanced screening giveaway today, for subscribers and non-subscribers – but if you’re a part of the latter group, um what are you waiting for? MMT has acquired passes to the Philly screening of BAD MOMS on Thursday, July 21 in King of Prussia.

To try your luck at an admit-two pass, click here to get to the STX Entertainment landing and follow the “get my passes” prompt. Passes, like theater seating, is on a first-come, first-served basis.

You can read the film synopsis and the watch its trailer below, and get additional information at the official website here.

Good luck!

BAD MOMS synopsis:

In this new comedy from the grateful husbands and devoted fathers who wrote The Hangover, Amy has a seemingly perfect life – a great marriage, over-achieving kids, beautiful home and a career. However she’s over-worked, over-committed and exhausted to the point that she’s about to snap. Fed up, she joins forces with two other over-stressed moms on a quest to liberate themselves from conventional responsibilities – going on a wild, un-mom-like binge of long overdue freedom, fun and self-indulgence – putting them on a collision course with PTA Queen Bee Gwendolyn and her clique of devoted perfect moms.

MMT Quick Review of MAGIC MIKE XXL and interview with Stephen ‘tWitch’ Boss

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Happy Tuesday MMT Family!  So there are some big films coming out tomorrow, July 1 and I had the extremely good fortune to sit and chat with a star from one of them! Last week I sat with Stephen “tWitch”Boss – more readily known from So You Think You Can Dance, Step Up film series, and The Ellen Degeneres Show – from the highly anticipated Warner Bros. film MAGIC MIKE XXL.  Now let me be very clear, take that XXL as a warning because if you saw the first movie please know that all things are on a grander scale in this one – including the very hot dance routines!

If you read my examiner article, you know Boss shared that his character, Malik, contributes to taking things to that next level – by encouraging lead character Mike (played by Channing Tatum) to elevate his dance game,

“It isn’t until (Mike) encounters Malik that he’s like “okay I have to show you what’s up!” That was a really important part that I took pride in. And I was like if I have to dance before Channing Tatum, I’m about to show out because once he starts (mimics women in audience screaming)!”

Boss, who is a noted choreographer and dance instructor, shared being enamored with dance since childhood. When I inquired what he would advise to kids, young African-American males in particular, without resources but an affinity to dance he offered, “The moment that you decide this is what I’m going to do,- no matter what – things start to re-arrange. Don’t be afraid to venture out and ask for help.” Understanding that can be easier said than done for children who don’t have the resources, including an immediate support base, tWitch added,

“It’s that decision to say no matter what this is what I’m going to do, and no matter what it’s going to happen. Even though the (access to) resources aren’t as clear, they are out there. But it is a catch 22, when you don’t have someone to help you with that paradigm shift.”

And speaking of support, when I asked Boss – who hadn’t yet seen the film – if he’d prepped his wife and who in his family he may not want to see it he replied,

“My mother, grandparents, her mother, her grandparents – any of my in-laws actually!  We had to let them know there will be other movies – don’t go see this.  And also don’t let your kids fool you, this movie does not have magic in it!  And my mom’s not going to see this movie – last time she saw my booty cheeks was probably when I was four. (laughs)”

So, I will again warn you MMT family that this movie is for “grown folk,” and really is about five guys travelling to a stripper convention for their last “hoorah.” And the XXL moniker is true to its name – so expect way more debauchery than the first. If you enjoyed the story in the first one, yeah that’s pretty much changed and “all bets are off,” LOL.

I did not see the first Magic Mike in theaters, caught it on cable, but I actually thought the story was pretty good. This one, it’s so not about the narrative! But you will get a bunch of laughs and surely be entertained – especially during the group’s Savannah, Georgia stop, which is where Jada Pinkett-Smith, tWitch, and Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino make their entrance into the film (along with another cameo that I won’t spoil!).

But I can’t front, I screened it twice – listen, the second time I took a friend…honest! Okay, it was still all about tWitch for me at that second screening! 🙂  All of the men look great, especially Joe Manganiello – who must have found some type of Greek statue morphing-potion that he surely needs to market. And he and Andie MacDowell, who also looks great, had good chemistry and an extremely funny scene together.

And for those questioning why Pinkett-Smith, a sex-trafficking awareness advocate, would venture to play in a film primarily about stripping – which has been a gateway for many into the sex slave trade – I read an interesting article at The Root where she fully addresses it (click here). In short, she believes in bringing more responsibility to the adult entertainment business – which she believes isn’t going anywhere because of the work she does. Pinkett-Smith felt portraying her character (Rome) was a great opportunity “to show that a woman can have a sense of self-respect, dignity and demand that from whoever she’s dealing with in a sexually charged environment.”

Lastly, and on a less serious note, I didn’t forget about you during my interview MMT family – although looking at tWitch in person for approximately a half hour made that feat very difficult for me!  When asked the MMT signature question, he advised that he would love to portray Sammy Davis Jr. or Jackie Wilson, the legendary dancers/singers/performers, if given the opportunity. I would certainly like to see him at least paying homage to Davis, Jr. with a routine or two – let’s make that happen Ellen!

Magic Mike XXL opens in theaters everywhere tomorrow July 1. Stop back and share your thoughts in the comments if you see it.

Until next thought family, Thomasena

MMT Quick Review of ANNIE

ANNIE (photo: Sony Pictures)

Happy Saturday MMT Family!  I wanted to have this one up last night, because you know I have been anticipating this Annie remake for quite some time. Unlike many of the people whose critiques I’ve glimpsed, I highly enjoyed this version and then some. Let’s be clear, this is not your great-grandparents’ or grandparents’ version of the beloved Little Orphan Annie comics, and it certainly isn’t the same 1977 Broadway stage production or even my generation’s classic (1982) movie version.  And this new movie proclaims that boldly in the film’s opening classroom scene – where there’s a cute parody of the classic Annie type giving a my favorite president speech. But when Quvenzhane Wallis (Annie) steps up to the front of the class for her speech, backed by classmate participation with call-responses and hand percussion, on her favorite president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, one of the first hat tips to the classic, it is cemented that this is something new (and really the produced by Will Smith, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Shawn “Jay Z” Carter credits should have been a clue even before 😉 )

Though there was nothing simple about the “Great Depression,” the event that forms the backdrop of the original film, the times were certainly simpler when it came to our ability to impact social reach or access others socially almost instantaneously. And this is the effective update of the Annie remake – bringing the story into the era of social media & technology – with a display of how it impacts people lives, both great and small. Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx) is an indifferent cell-phone tycoon running for mayor of New York in contrast to Wallis’ Annie, a foster kid who manages to maintain and share the brightest outlook with everyone she interacts, despite her meager circumstances. The movie takes great care to insert current topics relevant to today’s youth – like the update to foster care vs. the term orphan and highlighting youth literacy issues.

The multicultural cast – loved seeing Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Tracie Thoms, and Dorian Missick in key roles – was a beautiful reflection of what could and should happen more often with big studio productions, with lead Quvenzhane Wallis anchoring this modern version. Wallis has an unspoken, “old soul” quality with her delivery and facial expressions – and I believed her journey in this story. And her moment with new song “Opportunity” is a sweet one, despite what some callous critics are stating.

ANNIE (photo: Sony Pictures)

And let me simply ask this, why is it so hard for some to acknowledge the talent of an eleven-year-old, who by the age ten was an Academy award nominee? She sings, no one said the baby had to be Whitney Houston. And she dances, no one said she had to be Katherine Dunham.  Her job in this movie was to act primarily and make us believe she was Annie and for most fair-minded people wanting to enjoy a fun, family film this holiday season, I think she will appropriately fit the bill. And if it or she is not for you, then tough – she got the role and rocked it!

Again there were a couple of original film references I noted, like the aforementioned nod to FDR and the fictional band named “Leaping Lizards” that played in one scene.  I also wondered if the “rescue” George Washington bridge scene near the end – okay it’s not really a spoiler if you know the story MMT fam – was a nod to the scene with the late Geoffrey Holder and his character Punjab who rescues Annie in the 1982 film.

I do wish there was more of a character build for the other foster kids in Miss Hannigan’s (Cameron Diaz) care, since there were name/character changes and the beginning of this one felt a little rushed to get to the good stuff.  I also must be honest and admit that Diaz, although she’s shown her comedic timing in several other films, did not win me over as Miss Hannigan until nearly the end of film. I like her comedy wise as the sweet one (My Best Friend’s Wedding, There’s Something About Mary) versus the mean-spirited one or vixen. By contrast, Jamie Foxx was a fun Daddy Warbucks….umm, my bad, Will Stacks and we all know he can sing, so the numbers with him were really cool.  The chemistry between he and Wallis also worked well, and this film culminates in a very cute resolution to their respective characters’ journeys.

I took my youngest bestie, aka Jayla, and her mom with me to the Philly screening of Annie. At only two-years-old, Jayla visited my house and fell in love with the 1982 version on Netflix. We’ve watched it several times and I was excited to see how she would respond to the new version.  She watched the film very intently, wanted to dance at certain scenes, and has talked about Annie, Quvenzhane’s version, her mother says since last Sunday’s screening. I was worried that the film, unlike the ’82 film with its stage musical similarities, was a bit too much for her – since it isn’t the same sing-song model – and honestly she did require a bathroom break and missed the big “Opportunity” number. But if it’s still on my little (moody) Gemini friend’s mind, I think it works not only for the school-age kids, but also tots.  If they are not used to sitting for an extended period, the running time is 118 minutes, I’d recommend just sticking with school-age and older.  They will certainly get a lot more – especially from the positive messages shared.

Alright family, you know the drill! Stop back and share comments after you’ve seen the film.

PS – Checkout the lyric video to “Opportunity” below and let me know your thoughts as well! 🙂

Until next thought family, Thomasena