Popular Culture

ONE37pm’s Songs To Escape the Upside Down

Somehow, one of the most notable things that came out of the first volume of Stranger Things: Season 4 was a song written by Kate Bush in 1985. “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)” smashed the charts after being featured in the series as the song that pulled Max Mayfield (Sadie Sink) out of Vecna’s grip and outside of the Upside Down. Honestly, without Kate Bush, Max would still be flailing around down there.

In that same light, we’ve gathered up some of the ONE37pm staff to explain their picks for the songs that would bring them out of the Upside Down.

“Can I Kick It?” – A Tribe Called Quest

Anyone familiar with me knows that I consider A Tribe Called Quest to be the greatest hip-hop group of all time. It only makes sense that a song of theirs would be the one that pulls me out of the Upside Down and away from the clutches of Vecna (I’m not a fan of having my bones broken and eyes gouged out.)

“Can I Kick It?,” A Tribe Called Quest’s third single off of their debut album People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, begins with a sample from Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” and never lets up from there. Q-Tip and Phife Dawg trade bars from there on out, moving and grooving to the carefully curated beat. It’s the perfect song to shake you loose from Vecna’s grip and keep your body moving until it reaches our dimension once again.

Conor Sheeran, Senior Popular Culture Editor

“The Edge of Glory” – Lady Gaga

Listen, Vecna is a pretty big queen, but Lady Gaga is even bigger.

If there’s one person who could drag me out of the Upside Down, it’s most definitely going to be her. The very first sentence of “The Edge of Glory” is “there ain’t no reason you and me should be alone tonight,” and if I’m stuck in the Upside Down being ravaged by Demobats, stepping in unidentifiable gooey stuff, and having my limbs pulled every which way by some nasty vines, I’m going to take that sentence very literally.

Honestly, you could probably just throw on the saxophone solo alone and I’d be high-tailing it out of there.

Elizabeth Pagano, Staff Writer, Popular Culture

“I’m Shipping Up To Boston” – Dropkick Murphys

If I wanted a song to get me out of the Upside Down instantaneously, it would absolutely be “I’m Shipping Up To Boston.” Loud, aggressive, and passionate, this song not only gets me fired up, but I feel completely invincible when it’s ringing through my ears. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the greater Boston area, but this song just speaks to me. If you want to get me away from the menacing Vecna and back to the real world, play this song as loud as you possibly can.

Cole Keough, Editorial Intern

“The Night Me and Your Mama Met” – Childish Gambino

This song’s slow, mellow beginning lulls you into another world far from your own. It feels like cruising through the woods with your windows down without a care in the world, fully present in the moment. When you least expect it, a beautiful, distorted guitar solo enters the scene, and you know you’ve got a one-way ticket to an entirely new place. This song feels like it was born from another dimension, making it perfect for escaping the one you currently reside in.

Ezra Fuller, Twitter Manager

“Mr. Saxobeat” – Alexandra Stan

What is it the poet said? You make me dance / bring me up / bring me down / play it sweat/  make me move like a freak / Mr. Saxobeat. Underneath its glossy Eurodance sheen, Romanian singer Alexandra Stan’s 2010 bop “Mr. Saxobeat” is really evidence of the kindness of art—for 195 seconds, there’s nothing beyond the visceral, immediate thrill of being. Tellingly, the titular Mr. Saxobeat isn’t even given a real name—he’s only important in so far as what he makes us feel (i.e. like a freak). Amongst infinite uncertainty and discord, Stan clears—or maybe selects—a space where the only question is whether it’s better to be in love or in paradise. Here is a pastiche of fragile joys, a flight towards grace. Mr. Saxobeat dances us to deliverance.

Jack Tien-Dana, Staff Writer, Sports

“Big Iron” – Marty Robbins

If I had to choose one song to escape the Upside Down, it would undoubtedly have to be the 1960 Country Ballad classic “Big Iron” by Marty Robbins. I first heard this song while exploring the dystopian backdrop of Fallout: New Vegas. The song details the inevitable battle between a town’s sheriff and an outlaw known for having the fastest big iron on his hip. As they finally battle at the song’s climax and the townspeople are certain the outlaw will win, our sheriff emerges victorious. I can’t think of a better backdrop to escape the Upside Down than an epic underdog story between two of the fastest guns in the West.

Justin Cohen, Sports Writer

Popular Culture

12 TV Shows and Movies to Watch in July

The beach is overrated.

I’m kidding, it’s not. Well, actually it depends on the beach: Point Pleasant, Long Branch, Manasquan, Spring Lake, and Belmar—not overrated. Seaside and Wildwood? Definitely overrated.

Anyway, my point here is that there’s a whole lot more to do this summer than just roast on the sand. We’ve rounded up 12 of the best TV shows and movies to catch this July when you’re not flapping around in the ocean, dripping ice cream on your shoelaces, or burning your thighs on an extremely hot bench.

1. ‘Stranger Things’: Season 4, Volume 2 (July 1)

…and we’re back! It’s only been five weeks since Season 4, Volume 1 of Stranger Things was released, but given how things ended, it’s been a tough five weeks to wait. With quite a bit up in the air following the end of Volume 1, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover with the two episodes coming our way.

Who’s in It: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Millie Bobby Brown, Sadie Sink, Finn Wolfhard, Natalia Dyer, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Joe Keery, Maya Hawke, Joseph Quinn, Priah Ferguson, Charlie Heaton, Noah Schnapp, Matthew Modine

Where to Watch: Netflix

watch here
2. ‘The Terminal List’ (July 1)

In The Terminal List, Chris Pratt plays James Reece, a Navy SEAL who returns home after his platoon is attacked, questioning how responsible he was for the ambush to occur. When more evidence from the attack is revealed, it leads Reece down an extreme mental journey within himself.

Who’s in It: Chris Pratt, Taylor Kitsch, Constance Wu, Patrick Schwarzenegger

Where to Watch: Prime Video

watch here
3. ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ (July 8)

One of the most anticipated movies of the summer, Thor: Love and Thunder is finally making its way to theaters, and some are already saying that it’s better than Thor: Ragnarok. Impossible, right? This Thor film is all about the namesake character’s quest for tranquility, though he ends up having to balance that when Gorr the God Butcher (Bale) comes out of the woodwork.

Who’s in It: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Taika Waititi, Tessa Thompson, Russell Crowe

Where to Watch: In Theaters

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4. ‘Black Bird’ (July 8)

AppleTV+’s newest series, Black Bird, is based on the book, In With The Devil: A Fallen Hero, A Serial Killer, and A Dangerous Bargain for Redemption. Egerton plays Jimmy Keene, a police officer’s son who is given a major choice: serve 10 years in a minimum-security prison with no parole or serve his 10 years in a maximum-security prison for criminally insane people.

Who’s in It: Taron Egerton, Ray Liotta, Paul Walter Hauser, Greg Kinnear, Sepideh Moafi

Where to Watch: AppleTV+

watch here
5. ‘Better Call Saul’: Season 6, Part 2 (July 11)

Better Call Saul is finally (and sadly) coming to a close this July, with the second part of Season 6 airing in just a few weeks, serving as a final wrap-up for the extraordinary run it’s had since its premiere in 2015.

Who’s in It: Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, Rhea Seehorn, Giancarlo Esposito, Michael Mando, Patrick Fabian, Tony Dalton

Where to Watch: AMC and AMC+

6. ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ (July 15)

Based on the insanely best-selling book of the same name by Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads Sing is getting its Hollywood treatment in mid-July with a film rendition of the novel. Daisy Edgar-Jones stars as Catherine “Kya” Clark, a young girl who lives in the marshes of North Carolina and later finds herself at the center of a murder trial.

Who’s in It: Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith, David Strathairn, Harris Dickinson

Where to Watch: In Theaters

see in theaters
7. ‘The Gray Man’ (July 15)

A Netflix original movie, The Gray Man is being brought to us by Anthony and John Russo, the two brothers responsible for directing quite a few Marvel films, including Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Endgame. With that kind of resume, there are definitely high expectations for this film, which follows a mercenary who—after exposing a slew of classified information—is being tracked by his old colleague.

Who’s in It: Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, Dhanush, Regé-Jean Page, Ana de Armas

Where to Watch: Netflix

watch here
8. ‘The Rehearsal’ (July 15)

This new series was announced with practically no hint whatsoever to its arrival, starring cult-favorite, Nathan Fielder, of the series, Nathan for You. There’s not a ton known about this show just yet, except for a short synopsis that was released by HBO: “a new series that explores the lengths one man will go to reduce the uncertainties of everyday life.”

Who’s in It: Nathan Fielder

Where to Watch: HBO Max

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9. ‘American Horror Stories: Season 2’ (July 21)

With Season 1 of the American Horror Story spinoff under its belt, Ryan Murphy is back with the second season of American Horror Stories. We’ve got a (mostly) new cast this season with both new and old faces, though it’s not completely clear what the story this time around will be (is it ever clear, though?). From the looks of it, it has something to do with multiple rooms in a house and dolls (as if that helps at all).

Who’s in It: Dominique Jackson, Judith Light, Bella Thorne

Where to Watch: FX/Hulu

watch here
10. ‘Nope’ (July 22)

Jordan Peele’s newest horror flick is dropping this month, as Nope follows two siblings who own a ranch and start to notice odd things occurring in their fairly remote town. Horror combines with science fiction in this genre-defying film, as unidentified flying objects are incorporated, along with a mysterious force that seemingly rips through the air and lifts people up.

Who’s in It: Keke Palmer, Daniel Kaluuya, Steven Yuen, Barbie Ferreira

Where to Watch: In Theaters

see in theaters
11. ‘Harley Quinn”: Season 3 (July 28)

Two years in the making, we’re finally getting Season 3 of Harley Quinn, which turned out to be a major hit on HBO Max both before and especially during the pandemic. Kaley Cuoco stars as the voice of the eponymous character with a majorly stacked cast who keep the laughs going in this dark animated comedy.

Who’s in It: Kaley Cuoco, Lake Bell, Tony Hale, Ron Funches, Alan Tudyk, Jason Alexander, J.B. Smoove

Where to Watch: HBO Max

watch here
12. ‘Vengeance’ (July 29)

In his debut as a feature director, B.J. Novak brings us Vengeance, a dark comedy about Ben Manalowitz (Novak), who heads down to Texas to investigate the murder of a woman he was casually dating. Oh, and he’s also looking to turn the story into a true-crime podcast.

Who’s in It: B.J. Novak, Issa Rae, Ashton Kutcher, Dove Cameron, Isabella Amara, J. Smith-Cameron, Lio Tipton, John Mayer

Where to Watch: In Theaters

see in theaters
Popular Culture

‘Only Murders in the Building’ Recap: Season 2, Episodes 1 and 2

Death, cocotinis, and a parrot that says “f*** you” in a thick Brooklyn accent—that’s Only Murders in the Building.

In only eight months, Hulu was somehow able to turn around an entire second season of the show, picking up exactly where we left off in mid-October when its first season came to a shocking close with Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez) crouching over the deceased board president, Bunny Folger (Jayne Houdyshell), of her apartment building.

If you’re like me and were thinking that there was no possible way that this season could be better than the first—well, they found a way.

Hey, You Got a Little Blood on That Sweater
Craig Blankenhorn / Hulu

After being hauled out of the Arconia by the police, our good buddies, Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin), Oliver Putnam (Martin Short), and Mabel were separately questioned by Detective Williams (Da’Vine Joy Randolph) and a new face, Detective Kreps (Michael Rapaport), at the local precinct. The detectives are taking things quite a bit more seriously than our trio is, but Kreps doesn’t seem competent enough to blame this murder on them. Since Williams is more familiar with the group, it’s clear that she’ll be in charge of the investigation, though she gives them a fair warning about staying out of things if they want their names cleared.

Upon their release, Mabel’s trying to wrack her brain around just how all this happened in the two minutes she ran upstairs to her apartment to grab some champagne back in season one’s finale. Each time she thinks back to that moment, a new detail is unveiled: first, it’s of hearing Bunny say the number “14,” and later on, it’s of her saying “savage,” which also happens to be Charles’ last name.

Barbara Nitke / Hulu

The trio is a bit divided on how each of them wants to continue on with their lives after being named as persons of interest in Bunny’s murder case. Detective Williams warned each of them to stay out of things and to find a new hobby; while their knee-jerk reaction is to continue on with their own investigation into Bunny’s murder, they might actually take her advice this time around.

For one, Charles’ former show, Brazzos, is getting a reboot, which would take up the bulk of his time if he were to join the cast. The only catch? He’s not the star of the show; instead, he’d be playing the role of Uncle Brazzos, which Charles isn’t too pleased about.

Then we’ve got Oliver, who runs into new neighbor, Amy Schumer, who expresses interest in turning the “Only Murders in the Building” podcast into a TV series. While Oliver’s pretty jazzed about this possibility, he hasn’t forgotten about his two friends and their podcast; as he considers Schumer’s offer, he’s also weighing this in the back of his mind.

Finally, a random art curator, Alice Banks (Cara Delevingne), slides into Mabel’s DMs about her artwork, looking to possibly represent her at the art gallery where she works. They meet up later on at her art gallery and hit it off, which eventually leads to a bit of a romantic encounter between the two; I guess Oscar (Aaron Dominguez) is truly in the trash now.

While Charles, Oliver, and Mabel are all excited about their new possible ventures, something’s holding them back: the fact that they’re still persons of interest in Bunny’s murder investigation. Yeah, that little detail might hold one back from enjoying their life.

Eventually, the three of them regroup and decide that they just can’t stay away from the investigation, which is now being covered by the legendary true-crime podcast host, Cinda Canning (Tina Fey), who’s throwing herself into investigating Charles, Oliver, and Mabel by making them the subject of her new podcast. With that, our three friends decide to band together once again to prove their innocence—and to start up the second season of their podcast.

A Painting With Legs
Barbara Nitke / Hulu

While meeting up in Mabel’s apartment, Charles, Oliver, and Mabel start to hear Bunny’s voice coming through the vent that leads to her apartment. But she’s dead. Right? Well, kind of; her spirit—and voice—lives on through someone else.

Wanting to figure out what’s causing all the ruckus, the trio decides to tunnel through the air vents and into Bunny’s apartment, where they find her foul-mouthed parrot, Mrs. Gambolini, to be the one speaking like her owner. While in her apartment, they decide to snoop around and remove all evidence that could implicate them, which includes a slew of rude messages that Oliver sent to her. However, while inside, residents Uma Heller (Jackie Hoffman) and Howard Morris (Michael Cyril Creighton) open her door and walk in, as Uma is hoping to take with her a noteworthy (and semi-pornographic) painting of Bunny’s.

They run into Bunny’s bedroom and hide in the closet, though the footsteps get closer and closer as the painting is hanging up in the bedroom. But when Uma and Howard walk in, there’s an empty space where the painting should be. The two leave shortly after, though while hiding in the closet, Mabel makes a discovery: there’s an elevator hidden behind Bunny’s wide array of fur coats that leads down to the back of the Arconia by the dumpsters.

After this discovery, Charles heads back up to his apartment and discovers that the painting is now hanging up in his apartment. Who is toting around this massive painting from room to room constantly? After telling Oliver and Mabel about this, they decide to pull off a little switcheroo. Here’s the plan: Oliver and Mabel will bring the painting to Charles, who will be waiting for them outside of the elevator that leads to Bunny’s closet. He’ll sneak the painting back into the apartment and onto Bunny’s wall while everyone’s gathered for her memorial.

Oh, yeah. There’s a memorial for Bunny. With her gone, it only seemed right for the residents of the Arconia to throw a small memorial to remember their often-times divisive and rude board president. But at the gathering, a new figure comes front-and-center, ready to sniff out who murdered her daughter, Bunny. And that, my friends, is a face that we haven’t seen in quite a while on the big screen: Shirley MacLaine. She’s playing Leonora Folger, Bunny’s mother, who has a long past with the Arconia and knows quite a bit about the history of the building and its residents.

Through her, we’re able to learn a few things about the painting. It turns out that it’s actually depicting Charles’ father with a semi-nude woman, and the painting was done by Rose Cooper, whom his father was having an affair with. Cooper also lived across the street from the Arconia years ago. But okay, back to the story.

When it comes time for the scheme to go down, Charles gets locked outside of the door to the elevator by the apartment building’s dumpsters, leaving him, Oliver, and Mabel out in the open with the stolen painting. As other people start to head over to the dumpsters, they have to hide the painting between those very dumpsters, hoping to retrieve it later. However, upon returning, the painting is (of course) gone.

While visiting Schumer’s penthouse apartment to talk about the proposed series, Oliver notices—while Schumer poorly plays away on the bassoon—that the painting is hanging up in her apartment, as she apparently found it in the dumpster. However, later on when Oliver, Charles, Mabel, and Leonora head up to Schumer’s apartment, Leonora proclaims that the painting in her apartment is not the original—it’s a dupe.

Now that we know the painting that’s being moved from room to room is a fake, Charles, Oliver, and Mabel are left with quite a bit up in the air with regard to their investigation. However, we’re given five final words to end off the second episode, and they happen to come straight from the beak of Bunny’s parrot (which has now taken up residence in Oliver’s apartment).

“I know who did it.”


Final Thoughts

The one thing that I seemed to have conveniently forgotten from the first season of Only Murders in the Building is just how absolutely torturous it is to have to wait each week for a new episode. I know, this could be easily applied to any series that releases a new episode each week, but for some reason, the wait between each one of these episodes hurts a lot more.

So far, I’ve especially loved seeing more of Uma, as her disdain for basically everything and everyone is incredible—including her hatred of screw-top wine caps: “With a screw top? What happened, you couldn’t find a box?”

We’ve only had Shirley MacLaine around for one episode, and I’m praaaaaaaying that she’s a recurring character for the remainder of the season, even if it only means her telling us that her cocotini looks like “canal water.” Listen, I could live without Schumer and Rapaport being a part of things, but MacLaine—both herself and her character—has been one of the most exciting people to watch in these first two episodes. I know she’s 88 years old, but she’s brought a freshness to this show that I didn’t realize was even possible.

All in all, this season of Only Murders in the Building is already everything we wanted it to be—and more.

Popular Culture

The 33 Best Summer Movies To Add to Your Watchlist

With the summer solstice behind us, the most divisive season of the year is in full swing. Divisive I say? Well, only because some people prefer not to be absolutely scorched by the sun for three months out of the year. But for the rest of you who adore it, these are 33 of the best summer movies to give a watch before September 22 comes around.

1. ‘Wet Hot American Summer’ (2001)

Who’s in it: Janeane Garofalo, Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, David Hyde Pierce, Molly Shannon, Christopher Meloni, Michael Showalter, Bradley Cooper, Elizabeth Banks

Rating: 37% (Rotten Tomatoes)

Run Time: 1h 37m

Total Box Office: $295, 206

A satirical take on the last day of summer for a group of camp counselors, Wet Hot American Summer has gained a massive cult following in the years since its release.

Watch on Prime Video
2. ‘Jaws’ (1975)

Who’s in it: Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Shaw, Lorraine Gray

Rating: 98%

Run Time: 2h 4m

Total Box Office: $472 million

For me, Jaws is a winter movie—I’m not going anywhere near a film about a man-eating shark during the months where I’m most likely going into the ocean.

Watch on Prime Video
3. ‘The Sandlot’ (1993)

Who’s in it: Tom Guiry, Mike Vitar, Patrick Renna, Chauncey Leopardi

Rating: 64%

Run Time: 1h 41m

Total Box Office: $34.3 million

Baseball and summer go hand-in-hand; throw in a group of misfit kids and a massive dog and you’ve got an instant summer hit. But a 64% on Rotten Tomatoes? Really? Don’t even pay attention to that.

Watch on Disney+
4. ‘Top Gun’ (1986)

Who’s in it: Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards, Meg Ryan

Rating: 58%

Run Time: 1h 50m

Total Box Office: $357.3 million

We’re hot off the presses from Top Gun: Maverick, which means we’ve got to throw it back to 1986 with the original Top Gun. Okay, maybe it isn’t a summer movie in the classical sense, but it’s got some beach volleyball and it takes place in California—major beach vibes.

Watch on Paramount+
5. ‘Dirty Dancing’ (1987)

Who’s in it: Jennifer Grey, Patrick Swayze

Rating: 69%

Run Time: 1h 37m

Total Box Office: 214.6 million

The summer movie of all summer movies. Dirty Dancing is the icon, crossing off just about every box that any teenager needs for the perfect seasonal flick. It’s got defying parents, music, dancing, love, is set on a lake, and has Jennifer Grey doing her iconic dance by the dock—what else could you need?

Watch on Prime Video
6. ‘500 Days of Summer’ (2009)

Who’s in it: Zooey Deschanel, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Rating: 86%

Run Time: 1h 35m

Total Box Office: $60.7 million

After Tom’s (Gordon-Levitt) girlfriend, Summer (Deschanel), breaks up with him, he goes through each of their 500 days together to try and figure out just what went wrong. Basically, it’s one major nostalgic trip down memory lane.

Watch on Paramount+
7. ‘Almost Famous’ (2000)

Who’s in it: Kate Hudson, Patrick Fugit, Billy Crudup, Frances McDormand

Rating: 89%

Run Time: 2h 2m

Total Box Office: $47.4 million

Sure, part of Almost Famous takes place during the tail end of the school year, but time is basically just an illusion when you’re a kid on tour with one of the biggest bands in the country. This film’s got summer written all over it; and if that’s not enough, Kate Hudson in her role as Penny Lane is a ray of sunshine personified.

Watch on Hulu
8. ‘Mamma Mia!’ (2008)

Who’s in it: Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Christine Baranski, Julie Walters, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgård

Rating: 55%

Run Time: 1h 48m

Total Box Office: $611.3 million

I don’t care if you think that this movie is dumb, overrated, obnoxious, or that it deserves its 55% rating on Rotten Tomatoes (it doesn’t): Mamma Mia! is one of the greatest summer films of all time.

Watch on Prime Video
9. ‘Mystic Pizza’ (1988)

Who’s in it: Julia Roberts

Rating: 77%

Run Time: 1h 44m

Total Box Office: $14 million

In her breakthrough role, Julia Roberts plays Daisy Arujo, who works at the local pizzeria in Mystic, Connecticut for the summer after she graduates high school. Alongside her at the pizzeria are her sister, Kat, and their friend, Jojo, who are each going through their own post-high school growing pains.

Watch on Prime Video
10. ‘The Parent Trap’ (1998)

Who’s in it: Lindsay Lohan, Natasha Richardson, Dennis Quaid

Rating: 86%

Run Time: 2h 8m

Total Box Office: $92.1 million

We’ve got summer camp, taking a holiday in London, traversing a vineyard on horseback, and a camping trip that starts with someone coughing up a lizard and ends with someone stranded in the middle of a lake. Oh, and there’s a little switcheroo in between all of that. The Parent Trap has literally everything you could ever want in a film—it’s why I’ve genuinely watched it around a hundred times since the age of seven.

You should, too.

Watch on Disney+
11. ‘Dazed and Confused’ (1993)

Who’s in it: Matthew McConaughey, Parker Posey, Jason London, Ben Affleck

Rating: 92%

Run Time: 1h 35m

Total Box Office: $8 million

For a film that wasn’t super successful at the time of its release, Dazed and Confused has quite the cult following today; it’s similar to Wet Hot American Summer in that both had casts comprised of young actors who would later turn out to be major stars on the acting scene. Dazed and Confused follows a slew of teenagers on the last day of school in late-1970s Texas.

Watch on Hulu
12. ‘The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie’ (2004)

Who’s in it: Tom Kenny, Bill Fagerbakke, Stephen Hillenburg

Rating: 68%

Run Time: 1h 27m

Total Box Office: $141.1 million

Many have labeled this film as being the last great episode (movie) of SpongeBob SquarePants—everything after this kind of sucks. And the thing is, it’s completely true. The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie tracks SpongeBob and Patrick as they attempt to find King Neptune’s crown after Mr. Krabs is accused of stealing it.

Watch on Paramount+
13. ‘Call Me By Your Name’ (2017)

Who’s in it: Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer

Rating: 94%

Run Time: 2h 10m

Total Box Office: $41.9 million

Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer take on the roles of two young men who develop a strong bond and relationship during the summer of 1983 in Italy. The two meet as Elio’s (Chalamet) father is a professor who has invited his student, Oliver (Hammer), to stay with them that summer.

Watch on Prime Video
14. ‘Something’s Gotta Give’ (2003)

Who’s in it: Diane Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Keanu Reeves, Frances McDormand, Amanda Peet

Rating: 72%

Run Time: 2h 8m

Total Box Office: $266.7 million

Quite possibly the spark that created the “coastal grandmother” style aesthetic, Something’s Gotta Give pairs up Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson as Erica and Harry, who develop a close bond after Harry suffers a heart attack at her house. It’s an unlikely pair, as Harry had actually been dating Erica’s much younger daughter and is known as an infamous bachelor in New York City.

Watch on Netflix
15. ‘Thelma and Louise’ (1991)

Who’s in it: Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis

Rating: 85%

Run Time: 2h 10m

Total Box Office: $45.4 million

Nothing screams summer like a road trip—especially an impromptu one that begins after one friend kills a man in a parking lot. Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon are the fearless Thelma and Louise, two friends on the run from the law who encounter quite a bit of trouble on their way out of the country.

Watch on HBO Max
16. ‘Stand By Me’ (1986)

Who’s in it: River Phoenix, Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell

Rating: 91%

Run Time: 1h 29m

Total Box Office: $52.3 million

Based on Stephen King’s The Body, Stand By Me takes place during Labor Day weekend in 1959 when four boys go hiking and end up finding the dead body of a child who had recently gone missing. An absolute staple of the coming-of-age genre, Stand By Me has become quite the beloved film over the years.

Watch on Netflix
17. ‘Grease’ (1978)

Who’s in it: Olivia Newton-John, John Travolta, Stockard Channing

Rating: 76%

Run Time: 1h 50m

Total Box Office: $366.2 million

Only the tail end of Grease takes place after school lets out, but there’s an undeniable air of summer in the film that just can’t be overlooked. Also, it wasn’t until literally writing this that I realized Grease takes place over an entire year—someone make that make sense to me.

Watch on Prime Video
18. ‘Midsommar’ (2019)

Who’s in it: Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, Will Poulter

Rating: 83%

Run Time: 2h 51m

Total Box Office: $48 million

Maybe it’s not the most comforting summer movie to watch, but Midsommar delivers in basically every other way possible. Florence Pugh and Jack Reynor play a couple who travels to Sweden for a midsummer festival, though things take a turn for the worst when it turns out to be a cult.

Watch on Hulu
19. ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ (1997)

Who’s in it: Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Freddie Prinze Jr.

Rating: 43%

Run Time: 1h 39m

Total Box Office: $125.3 million

Definitely a dark summer flick, I Know What You Did Last Summer is a classic slasher film about a group of friends who are harboring a year-long secret: they killed a man in a car accident the summer prior to this one. In the present day, that very same group is stalked by a killer with a hook for an arm.

Watch on HBO Max
20. ‘Adventureland’ (2009)

Who’s in it: Kristen Stewart, Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Ryan Reynolds

Rating: 89%

Run Time: 1h 47m

Total Box Office: $17.2 million

This dramedy is centered around an amusement park back in the summer of 1987 and follows James Brennan (Eisenberg), who’s forced to work at Adventureland because of his financial situation after graduating from college. He meets Emily Lewin (Stewart) there, where they’re able to develop a close bond, though a love triangle starts to form, leaving Brennan on the outside of things.

Watch on Hulu
21. ‘We’re the Millers’ (2013)

Who’s in it: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Emma Roberts, Will Poulter

Rating: 49%

Run Time: 1h 50m

Total Box Office: $270 million

Based on the previews alone, We’re the Millers seemed like the type of movie that was just bound to be terrible, but after actually watching it, I can firmly say that it’s deserving of a way higher rating than the measly 49% that Rotten Tomatoes has given it. The plot of the movie centers around David (Sudeikis), a local pot dealer who finds himself on his way to Mexico with his fake family in order to repay a debt he owes to his boss.

Watch on Hulu
22. ‘American Graffiti’ (1973)

Who’s in it: Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Paul Le Mat, Candy Clark, Charles Martin Smith

Rating: 96%

Run Time: 1h 50m

Total Box Office: $140 million

Before George Lucas had Star Wars, he had American Graffiti. Set during the course of a single night, the film tracks a group of California teenagers involved in the rock culture of the 1960s.

Watch on Hulu
23. ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ (2019)

Who’s in it: Tom Holland, Jake Gyllenhaal, Zendaya, Jacob Batalon, Samuel L. Jackson

Rating: 90%

Run Time: 2h 10m

Total Box Office: $1.132 billion

Set during Peter Parker’s (Holland) high school summer field trip to Venice, Italy, an elemental water creature appears, though a new superhero is able to stop it from causing any further destruction: Mysterio (Gyllenhaal). Parker and Mysterio work together while abroad in Europe to defeat various elementals, though it’s later revealed that Mysterio is no superhero at all.

Watch on Prime Video
24. ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ (2006)

Who’s in it: Abigail Breslin, Paul Dano, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin

Rating: 91%

Run Time: 1h 41m

Total Box Office: $101 million

Abigail Breslin plays Olive Hoover, a child who’s set on competing in the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant way out in California. The only problem? She and her entire family live in New Mexico, meaning that the whole lot of them will have to pack up their bags and trek to Redondo Beach in their Volkswagen bus.

Watch on Hulu
25. ‘Girls Trip’ (2017)

Who’s in it: Regina Hall, Tiffany Haddish, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith

Rating: 92%

Run Time: 2h 2m

Total Box Office: $140.9 million

Four friends take a girls’ trip to New Orleans after one of them is invited to speak at Essence Music Festival there, reuniting the group years after they graduated from college together.

Watch on Prime Video
26. ‘Skate Kitchen’ (2018)

Who’s in it: Rachelle Vinberg, Nina Moran, Dede Lovelace, Ajani Russell, Moonbear, Jaden Smith

Rating: 90%

Run Time: 1h 46m

Total Box Office: $268,021

All skaters in real life, the cast takes on a fictionalized version of their lives in Skate Kitchen, which follows a group of female skaters—focusing especially on Camille (Vinberg), whose life majorly changes after she first meets this group of skateboarders in New York City.

Watch on Tubi
27. ‘Wine Country’ (2019)

Who’s in it: Amy Poehler, Rachel Dratch, Maya Rudolph, Ana Gasteyer, Paula Pell, Emily Spivey

Rating: 66%

Run Time: 1h 43m

Total Box Office: N/A (Released on Netflix)

Alright, this movie isn’t perfect, but it’s definitely a great summer pick if you’re just looking to laugh and enjoy this insanely stacked cast. Basically, Wine Country is exactly what it sounds like: it’s a group of women who travel to Napa Valley for a wine-filled weekend.

Watch on Netflix
28. ‘Do the Right Thing’ (1989)

Who’s in it: Spike Lee, Danny Aiello, Rosie Perez, John Turturro

Rating: 92%

Run Time: 2h

Total Box Office: $37.3 million

Taking place in Brooklyn, Do the Right Thing quickly transforms from a story about a pizzeria to one about neighborhood racism when a local pizza joint only puts up Italian actors on its wall of fame instead of the black community it’s sitting in.

Watch on Prime Video
29. ‘Meatballs’ (1979)

Who’s in it: Bill Murray, Harvey Atkin, Kate Lynch, Russ Banham

Rating: 72%

Run Time: 1h 32m

Total Box Office: $70 million

Bill Murray takes on his first lead role in Meatballs, a comedy about camp counselors-in-training at a summer camp in Ontario, Canada. The film puts a major focus on the various jokes and pranks carried out through the campgrounds, as well as spotlighting some of the local campers and their rivalries.

Watch on Tubi
30. ‘West Side Story’ (2021)

Who’s in it: Rachel Zegler, Ariana DeBose, Rita Moreno, David Alvarez, Mike Faist, Ansel Elgort

Rating: 91%

Run Time: 2h 36m

Total Box Office: $76 million

While most of us know the basic plot of West Side Story by this point, the newest iteration of the classic 1961 film released in 2021 truly brings the cinematic, summer vibes right to our screens. And come on, all musicals count as summer movies, right?

Watch on HBO Max
31. ‘Sisters’ (2015)

Who’s in it: Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Maya Rudolph, Ike Barinholtz

Rating: 60%

Run Time: 1h 58m

Total Box Office: $105 million

With their old family home being sold by their parents, sisters Maura (Poehler) and Kate (Fey) head back to Orlando, Florida in order to clean out their bedroom. Being that it’s their last night in the house, they decide to throw a blowout party where basically everything gets out of hand and the pool in their backyard somehow turns into a sinkhole.

Watch on Prime Video
32. ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ (2018)

Who’s in it: Constance Wu, Michelle Yeoh, Henry Golding, Gemma Chan, Awkwafina, Lisa Lu, Ken Jeong

Rating: 91%

Run Time: 2h 1m

Total Box Office: $238.5 million

Based on the book of the same name by Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians follows Rachel Chu (Wu), who learns—upon arrival at a wedding in Singapore—that her boyfriend, Nick (Henry Golding) is actually a very wealthy man with a super wealthy family to match.

Watch on HBO Max
33. ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ (2022)

Who’s in it: Tom Cruise, Miles Teller, Jennifer Connelly

Rating: 97%

Run Time: 2h 17m

Total Box Office: $1.010 billion

Set about 30 years following the original Top Gun, Maverick (Cruise) is ordered to be an instructor back at TOPGUN, where he’ll be working with a group of talented pilots who are about to take on an almost-impossible mission for the U.S. Navy. Maybe it’s not technically a summer movie, but after seeing it, it sure feels like summer.

Watch in Theaters
Popular Culture

‘Only Murders in the Building’ Season 1 Recap

It’s only been eight months since we last saw our favorite trio take on an active murder investigation, and in that time, the cast and crew of Only Murders in the Building were able to slap together an entirely new season. While we don’t exactly know what went down to cause the murder shown at the end of season one, we are going into this season knowing quite a bit more than we did back in August when the show first premiered. But remind me again, what happened?

The Plan
Craig Blankenhorn / Hulu

I realize that I just asked the above question to myself, but let’s ignore that fact and get right into the meat and potatoes of season one.

We’ve got Charles Haden-Savage (Steve Martin), an aging, semi-retired actor, Oliver Putnam (Martin Short), a down-on-his-luck Broadway director, and Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez), who’s renovating her aunt’s apartment in the building where they all live: the Arconia on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

While they’re all separately tuning into their favorite true-crime podcast one night, a man in their building kills himself in his apartment (or so it seems); the man, Tim Kono, used to be a friend of Mabel’s. Quite a ruckus was caused by the death, with everyone evacuating the building as police and EMS flooded in. Charles, Oliver, and Mabel end up meeting each other by chance at a local restaurant as they’re unable to get into their building. After learning that they’re all fans of the same podcast, they start applying the same thinking and tactics to what just occurred at the Arconia. In short, they got nosy—and extremely suspicious.

After sneaking by the crime scene, they’re convinced that this is no suicide—it’s a murder. With that, the three unlikely friends join forces and start piecing together what could’ve possibly gone down in that room. Oh, and they decide to make a true-crime podcast of their own about the entire thing, aptly titled “Only Murders in the Building.” Together, the three of them investigate the crime scene, question individuals they believe could be suspects, and unintentionally get involved in a number of related and unrelated issues in the building.

The Jan
Craig Blankenhorn / Hulu

About halfway through the season, Charles starts dating Jan Bellows, a dignified bassoonist who also lives in the building. However, she slowly starts nudging her way into the trio, including herself in the group’s meetings about the investigation and their podcast, creating a weird vibe between everyone. As Oliver and Mabel become a bit suspicious of her, Charles doubles down and insists that the two of them are being rude and unwelcoming to her, completely blinded by his feelings.

A number of leads, breakthroughs, and missteps occur during their investigation, though they keep their podcast going and continue chugging along, though a rift develops, leaving Oliver and Mabel on the opposite side of Charles and Jan. As Oliver and Mabel fall down their own investigation path, they dive further into Tim’s life (and apartment), eventually finding something pretty revealing there: a bassoon cleaner.

The Sham
Craig Blankenhorn / Hulu

In the very last episode, it’s revealed that Jan is in fact the person responsible for killing Tim Kono. Apparently, they actually had a romantic relationship, with the two breaking up a day before she murdered Kono. Just when Charles decides to confront Jan about this, he realizes that she has poisoned him, leaving Oliver and Mabel to rush in and save the day, with Jan being arrested later.

But things don’t just end there.

In the last moments of the finale, Charles and Oliver find a bloody, knitting needle-wielding Mabel crouching over a dead Bunny (Jayne Houdyshell), the elderly board president of the Arconia. With that, Charles, Oliver, and Mabel are hauled out of the Arconia by the police.

Season two of Only Murders in the Building starts streaming on Hulu on June 28, 2022.

Popular Culture

The 12 Best Movies Like ‘Top Gun’ to Stream Right Now

Will we ever get sick of talking about Top Gun? Probably not. But to be fair, we can’t just keep watching the film and its sequel over and over again—well, we could, but maybe we shouldn’t. Sure, there’s no film quite like that one, but there are a few that have similar vibes and circumstances going on. So, in no specific order, these are 12 of the best movies like Top Gun.

1. ‘Speed’ (1994)

Who’s in It: Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Jeff Daniels, Dennis Hopper, Joe Morton

Rating: 94% (Rotten Tomatoes)

Run Time: 1h 56m

Total Box Office: $350.4 million

I’m down for just about any Keanu Reeves movie, but this one might rank even higher than The Matrix (Problematic film take? Maybe—but that’s okay). First off, he’s paired up with Sandra Bullock in her breakthrough role as Annie Porter, a passenger on a bus with a bomb rigged to it that’ll explode if the bus goes below 50mph. Jack Traven (Reeves) is an LAPD SWAT officer who jumps into action and attempts to disarm the bomb. It’s got almost as much speed as Top Gun does (okay, maybe a little less), but overall, it definitely has that same thrill factor that Top Gun has going.

Watch on Prime Video
2. ‘Armageddon’ (1998)

Who’s in It: Bruce Willis, Liv Tyler, Ben Affleck

Rating: 38%

Run Time: 2h 30m

Total Box Office: $553.7 million

While Maverick isn’t technically doing any world-saving in Top Gun, the stakes are almost as high as they are in Armageddon. Bruce Willis is Harry S. Stamper, an oil driller who has been brought in by NASA to destroy an incoming life-ending meteor that’s headed towards Earth.

Watch on Tubi
3. ‘Mission: Impossible III’ (2006)

Who’s in It: Tom Cruise, Philip Seymour Hoffman

Rating: 71%

Run Time: 2h 6m

Total Box Office: $398.5 million

I realize that basically any Mission: Impossible could’ve fit in here, but Mission Impossible: III is by far the greatest out of the five that have been released thus far. This iteration catches Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) on a mission to retrieve the Rabbit’s Foot, an ominous item of high importance to Owen Davian (Philip Seymour Hoffman).

Watch on Hulu
4. ‘Private Benjamin’ (1980)

Who’s in It: Goldie Hawn, Eileen Brennan, Hal Williams

Rating: 82%

Run Time: 1h 50m

Total Box Office: $69.8 million

Top Gun and Private Benjamin are two films that dive deep into the process of getting into a new work groove, though I’d say that Judy Benjamin (Goldie Hawn) had a much rougher go at it than Maverick (Tom Cruise). Private Benjamin leans more so onto the comedy side of things, but all in all, there are a ton of the same themes going for both films.

Watch on Prime Video
5. ‘Erin Brockovich’ (2000)

Who’s in It: Julia Roberts, Albert Finney, Aaron Eckhart

Rating: 85%

Run Time: 1h 11m

Total Box Office: $256.3 million

Much like Top Gun in that it shows the importance of both working together and alone, Erin Brockovich tracks the namesake character (portrayed by Julia Roberts) as she fights to ensure the safety of a California city after its residents are exposed to harmful chemicals. Working for a lawyer, Ed Masry (Albert Finney), at his law firm, Brockovich is able to piece together who and what is responsible for causing tons of residents to fall ill in Hinkley, California.

Watch on Hulu
6. ‘Arachnophobia’ (1990)

Who’s in It: Jeff Daniels, John Goodman, Harley Jane Kozak

Rating: 93%

Run Time: 1h 43m

Total Box Office: $53.2 million

Maybe this one’s a bit of a stretch, but in both Top Gun and Arachnophobia, someone’s trying to push past their fears and come out the other side as a different person. For Jeff Daniels’ character in Arachnophobia, it’s getting over his fear of spiders, and for Tom Cruise’s character, it’s about moving past the death of Goose and trusting himself to fly again.

Watch on Prime Video
7. ‘A League of Their Own’ (1992)

Who’s in It: Geena Davis, Tom Hanks, Lori Petty, Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell

Rating: 80%

Run Time: 2h 8m

Total Box Office: $132.4 million

Listen, I realize that Top Gun is a movie about fighter jets and this one is about a group of women playing baseball, but the two are more similar than you might think. For one, they’re both about a group of people attempting to defy the odds in pursuit of one common goal; and two, both have one somewhat arrogant character who softens up as the movie progresses. Oh, and Madonna plays an Italian baseball player who drugs their older team chaperone in order to go out and dance.

Watch on Prime Video
8. ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ (2004)

Who’s in It: Dennis Quaid, Jake Gyllenhaal

Rating: 45%

Run Time: 2h 4m

Total Box Office: $552.6 million

First off, it’s pretty rude that Rotten Tomatoes would rank this perfect gem of a movie at 45%, but despite that, The Day After Tomorrow has that same “leave it all on the field” vibe as Top Gun. It’s got Dennis Quaid trekking across the country in sub-zero temperatures to find his son and Jake Gyllenhaal swimming through dirty subway water—what’s better than that?

Watch on Hulu
9. ‘The Perfect Storm’ (2000)

Who’s in It: Mark Wahlberg, George Clooney, Diane Lane, John C. Reilly

Rating: 47%

Run Time: 2h 10m

Total Box Office: $328.7 million

Bordering more so on the thriller genre, The Perfect Storm portrays a crew’s dedication to survival as their fishing vessel gets caught right in the center of the Perfect Storm of 1991. Lost at sea, the crew has to figure out a way to re-orient themselves and make it out of the storm alive, much like how Maverick had to get himself back on course after the death of Goose in Top Gun.

Watch on Prime Video
10. ‘Die Hard’ (1988)

Who’s in It: Bruce Willis, Alan Rickman, Bonnie Bedelia

Rating: 94%

Run Time: 2h 12m

Total Box Office: $140 million

Sure, Die Hard has been considered a Christmas movie before, but it’s also got some themes going on that are a bit like those in Top Gun. Bruce Willis portrays a New York City detective visiting his estranged wife in Los Angeles, though things quickly take a turn for the worst when a terrorist attack occurs and he gets caught in the middle of things.

Watch on Hulu
11. ‘War of the Worlds’ (2005)

Who’s in It: Tom Cruise, Dakota Fanning

Rating: 75%

Run Time: 1h 56m

Total Box Office: $603.9 million

Okay, maybe there weren’t any aliens in Top Gun, but there was Tom Cruise—and quite a bit of fiery-explosion action going down. In a remake of the 1953 film of the same name, this iteration of War of the Worlds definitely hits harder than the original. Little stabby things emerging from massive alien ships and piercing people through their stomachs? Yeah, I don’t think that was in the original film.

Watch on Netflix
12. ‘Thelma and Louise’ (1991)

Who’s in It: Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis

Rating: 85%

Run Time: 2h 10m

Total Box Office: $45.4 million

Much like Maverick and Goose, Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) had quite a bit on the line as they traveled across the country, evading the police after Louise killed a man who was forcing himself on Thelma. Top Gun is all about teamwork, and there simply would not be a Thelma without a Louise. And technically there is some flying at the end of this one.

Watch on HBO Max
Popular Culture

A Trip Back to the Upside Down: Our ‘Stranger Things’ Theories for Season 4, Volume 2

In a (my) perfect world, Barb would be alive, Nancy Wheeler would be stuck in the Upside-Down, Eleven would kill Papa, and Hopper and Joyce Byers would get married. Is it likely that any of these things will happen in Stranger Things‘ upcoming Season 4, Volume 2? Well, maybe. The newest trailer for Volume 2 was just released, giving us a few hints and confirmations as to what’s to come. I touched on some Stranger Things theories a short while ago, but given that the new season is dropping on July 1, let’s really dig in and break those predictions down to their cores. These are our official Stranger Things theories for Season 4, Volume 2.

1. Steve Gets Stuck…

This is one of those Stranger Things theories that I realllllly don’t want to happen; alas, I must list it anyway. Listen, the writers did it just last season with Hopper—what makes you think they will hold back with our good buddy, Steve Harrington? Now, I’m not saying that Steve will die in Volume 2, but I could see him sacrificing himself and staying behind to save Nancy (ugh).

I’m not sure how this would physically go down, but since Steve and Nancy have to climb out of the Upside-Down and into reality, he could try and hoist her up and out, landing in Eddie Munson’s bedroom. However, that would leave him to take on what’s left behind in the Upside-Down. Naturally, he’d be by himself again, just as he initially entered the realm.

2. …Or Nancy Gets Stuck
Tina Rowden / Netflix

Okay, so this is basically just a flip-flop of the prior theory and I promise it’s not just because I absolutely hate Nancy (more on that later), but this is definitely a viable option.

With Robin Buckley and Eddie out of the Upside-Down lying in wait for Steve and Nancy, things are put on an indefinite pause as Nancy is being pulled in by Vecna as a result of her unintentional killing of Barb in Season 1 (RIP, Barb). Does she deserve to get stuck in the Upside-Down? Yes. Listen, she was too preoccupied with Steve to even realize that her girl, Barb, was being viciously murdered by a Demogorgon—that’s no good friend in my book.

But back to the main point: if Nancy isn’t able to snap herself (or be snapped) out of her current state of mind, it’s going to be pretty tough to get her out of there. Also, the latest trailer did reveal that the crew is still fighting in the Upside-Down, which means that Nancy being stuck could actually be true. I suppose Steve could pick her up and force her out, but that would probably prove to be too difficult to accomplish. On the other hand, we saw Robin flicking through Nancy’s music collection in her bedroom just a bit ago, so it’s possible that strapping a pair of headphones on her will be able to whisk her out. Despite all that, it might just get to the point where Steve has to peace out in order to save himself, leaving Nancy behind in the Upside-Down.

While leaving Nancy stuck is a major possibility, my gut feeling is that the writers will come up with an interesting way to finally retrieve her, even if it means Steve is leaving her behind for the time being.

3. Demogorgon Heaven

Okay, this might be one of the more unpopular Stranger Things theories of mine. The cynic in me needs to reject the fact that Joyce and Hopper can safely (and finally) be together after Hopper just narrowly escaped being viciously eaten alive by the Demogorgon. It just can’t be that simple—it can’t.

Their hug was just a littttttttle too long and they were just a littttttttle too oblivious to the fact that a Demogorgon was being held in just the next room over. Listen, I’d be happy (and relieved) if they weren’t confronted by that creature yet again, but this is Stranger Things. I’m not saying that the Demogorgon would kill them—just temporarily thwart them; you know, it makes for good television and all that jazz. While Hopper and Joyce would live, I could see a world where one of their buddies (Murray Bauman or Dmitri Antonov) dies in an effort to save the couple.

4. Barb Is Alive!

Well, at least she better be.

Given what we now know about how Vecna/Peter Ballard works, it seems like we might be getting our girl, Barb, back. Sure, she looks pretty dead at the bottom of that infamous pool, but since Peter was killed, perhaps everyone (including Barb) who had been taken to the Upside-Down will be let loose.

Honestly, if Barb is alive, I’d hope that she’d finally get her revenge on Nancy for being such a terrible friend, but the thing is, Barb is genuinely pure of heart—she’d never do something like that. That’s why we love you, Barb.

5. See Ya Later, Papa

Okay, one of the more obvious Stranger Things theories is that Eleven gets broken out of the lab she’s being held in. I’m not sure if Papa is planning on holding Eleven hostage after the insane string of events that we just saw occur (perhaps he suddenly had a change of heart?), but it’s more so in his personality to kidnap children, so let’s say he holds Eleven in the lab. With Jonathan Byers’ crew on their way to reach her, it’s safe to assume that they’re going to be the ones who finally break her out (we literally had to suffer through that plotline for the entirety of the season and deserve some sort of reward).

6. Jonathancy (Or Nanathan) Reunites

Jonathan’s crew’s plot has been fairly separate from the rest of the gang this season; saving Nancy would be the most natural way for him to finally reunite with his kind-of girlfriend. If we’re still following the theory that this crew saves Eleven, it would make sense for them to travel back with her to the Upside-Down to locate Nancy (that is, if that theory plays out, as well). After all, with the Upside-Down still being shown in the newest Season 4, Volume 2 trailer, it’s clear that there’s still some unfinished business in there.

The real question: will Jonathancy prevail? Or will Stancy take the crown? While the show has been hinting at Steve and Nancy getting back together since they’ve been hanging out more this season, let’s not forget how close Jonathan and Nancy have gotten over the past three seasons.

Nancy dropped Steve like a hot potato for Jonathan, and up until the beginning of this season, the two were practically glued to each other. Sure, maybe Jonathan doesn’t want to go to Emerson anymore, but that doesn’t mean the two will simply end things because of that. I’m going to bet that whatever reunion they end up having in Volume 2 will be enough to remind each other of what they have—and that her relationship with Steve is in the past.

Popular Culture

‘Cha Cha Real Smooth’ Review: Growing Up Is Like Getting Punched in the Face

I’m usually fairly dubious about films written by, directed by, and starring the same person. Sort of like, “Who do you think you are, writing, directing, and starring in the same film? Don’t you have other things to do?” I’m also skeptical of films with names like this one. Cha Cha Real Smooth? This can’t be good. I’d say about 90% of the time, these films are never that great. The only problem with that theory is that this one’s actually pretty good.


Professional Bar Mitzvah Party Starter

The writer, director, and actor in question is Cooper Raiff, who plays 22-year-old Andrew, a recent college graduate who has moved back home to good ‘ole New Jersey—Livingston, to be exact (shout out to my NJ pals). Like every recent grad without much of a plan, he sits around for a bit, ponders life, and then finally decides that he needs to get a job. Naturally, he takes a gig at Meat Sticks, a gross-looking (and sounding) restaurant within a mall. Andrew’s demeanor, though, doesn’t resemble a person miserable at his job and in his current situation in life—he’s the epitome of “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” but not in the obnoxious way that you’re probably imagining.

This dude is so likable, sweet, funny, and kind that it makes you almost expect that he will eventually flip on a dime and reveal that he’s actually a terrible person at some point—but that doesn’t happen. Andrew is just a genuinely good guy trying to figure out his life, and maybe some people will find that premise boring, but the way this film frames it kept me hooked the entire way through.

While he’s still working at Meat Sticks, Andrew falls into another venture, though this time it’s purely by accident. While attending a bar mitzvah with his 13-year-old younger brother, David (Evan Assante), Andrew becomes the de-facto party-starter as the shindig has a lame DJ and a lack of dancing guests. By the night’s end, he’s got a flock of Jewish mothers begging him to host their children’s bar mitzvahs, which he ends up pursuing as a sort-of career.

Though he made multiple business connections at the bar mitzvah, Andrew also met Domino (Dakota Johnson) and her autistic daughter, Lola (Vanessa Burghardt), at the party. Domino’s mysterious allure brought him over to the pair’s table, where Lola was solving an extremely advanced Rubik’s Cube with (what looked like) a million pieces in it. His task at hand? To get the pair up and dancing, which he successfully achieves after a little convincing (and with a $300 bet on the line).

The main plot revolves around Andrew’s day-to-day life, but Lola and Domino are quickly mixed into things as he starts babysitting for Lola and after Domino makes an advance on him. Though nothing ever goes very far between the two, he becomes attached to the pair and later has to face a new reality as he starts to forget about his own life.

Dakota Johnson Likes To Be Ominous

I’m shocking myself in saying that the one main criticism I have for this film comes from Dakota Johnson’s performance. I know. Listen, I can still revere her for causing the crack that broke Ellen DeGeneres’ empire, but her portrayal of Domino (another obnoxious name) just wasn’t cutting it.

I can’t tell if I should be blaming the writing and direction or simply her performance, but either way, Domino was an odd fixture of the film. Listen, it’s obvious what she sees in Andrew, but I genuinely don’t know what he sees in her.

She’s extremely ominous and withholding; by the time the film ends, we really don’t know much about her aside from the fact that she has a daughter, is engaged, lives in her fiancé’s parents’ house, and likes Andrew. That’s literally it; after an hour and 47 minutes, that’s what I know about her. I don’t know, I can’t adequately explain her aura, but Domino definitely has cursed vibes.

Also, while we’re here, what does Domino see in her fiancé, Joseph (Raúl Castillo)? She claims that he’s one of her soulmates in life, but there aren’t any facts to back that up coming from the angle of the audience. We’ve only seen this dude be a complete jerk so far, and until the very end of the film, there’s zero redeeming quality to him at all. To me, it just seemed like there was no reason for her to be with him; their relationship wasn’t convincing enough to warrant her not calling off the engagement.

“Mom, I’m Sorry You Got Slugged”

Now, I can’t forget to mention Andrew’s (mostly) sweet family, helmed by his bipolar mother, portrayed by Leslie Mann, along with his younger brother, David, and step-dad, Greg (Brad Garrett). The beginning of the film solidifies the special nature of his relationship with his mother, cutting back to his childhood in a moment where he was completely heartbroken over a crush he had on a much older woman. By the end of the film, his mother comforts him in the exact same way as she had back then.

Andrew doesn’t have the best relationship with Greg—well, except for when his mother accidentally gets “slugged” in the face at a bar mitzvah, and Greg turns around and slugs the guy who slugged her (I forgot how much I love the word, “slugged”).

Andrew is very close with (and shares a bedroom with) David, who’s about ten years younger than him and going through those classic teenage growing pains. Their relationship is gentle and always supportive and the last scene of them together actually brought me to tears (unsurprisingly, because I cry at everything, but still). When you watch it, you’ll know.

Final Thoughts

Despite Cha Cha Real Smooth being a fairly awful name for a movie, it really pulled itself out of the pre-conceived gutter that I had it lying in. Honestly, it might be one of the most natural-feeling films I’ve seen in a long time; it’s kind of like when a teacher writes down “a pleasure to have in class” on a kid’s report card.

So, Cooper Raiff, this movie was an absolute pleasure.

Popular Culture

Throwback: The 23 Best Nickelodeon Characters Ever

What’s SpongeBob SquarePants without Squidward? Jimmy Neutron without Carl? Dare I say, Rugrats without Cynthia, the inanimate, screwed-up doll of Angelica’s?

Most of the time, the greatest characters in a series are the ones who the show isn’t even about. Sure, some of the following are main characters, but the bulk are side characters—the ones who didn’t get enough screen time but should’ve. In no specific order, these are 23 of the best Nickelodeon characters to ever wander past our screens.

1. Hugh Neutron

Ah, Hugh Neutron. He’s Jimmy Neutron’s perfectly-bizarre father who walks to the beat of his own drum and enjoys pretending to be Gollum. He’s so beloved that he’s even getting his own feature this summer in the Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl video game—yeah, you can play as Hugh Neutron now. Will Donut Boy return? I sure hope so.

Series: The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius

Portrayed By: Mark DeCarlo

2. Moody Fallon

Moody Fallon—the eponymous character of the sketch, Moody’s Point, from The Amanda Show—doesn’t like the sky very much. After all, it did take her mother away from her, as a hot air balloon whisked her off into the distance one day. While Moody might not be as bizarre as her friend, Misty, or her crush, Sternum, she does spend half the show looking for her father’s missing toe.

Series: The Amanda Show

Portrayed By: Amanda Bynes

3. Chuckie Finster

Good ‘ole Chuckie Finster—he’s probably the most recognizable character from Rugrats next to Tommy and the most relatable, as he freaks out over just about anything. Also, come on, his name is Chucky Finster.

Series: Rugrats

Portrayed By: Christine Cavanaugh

4. Megan Parker

Megan. Drake and Josh’s younger sister wreaks absolute havoc on the pair in a number of different ways, including adding chemicals to Josh’s salsa, framing Drake for putting Mrs. Hayfer’s car in her classroom, and exploding a cake in Josh’s face.

Series: Drake & Josh

Portrayed By: Miranda Cosgrove

5. Penelope Tate

One of the greatest characters to come out of The Amanda Show is obviously Penelope Tate, an obsessed Amanda fan who wears a hideous outfit and orders her younger brother, Preston, to help her meet Amanda.

Series: The Amanda Show

Portrayed By: Amanda Bynes

6. Helen

Whether Helen’s singing on live television or playing Dance Dance Revolution while blind, she brings the heat as manager of The Premiere, the movie theater where Josh works. Her best work is in “Helen’s Surgery,” which tracks Helen as Josh takes care of her after she gets laser eye surgery.

Series: Drake & Josh

Portrayed By: Yvette Nicole Brown

7. Mrs. Benson

Mrs. Benson is Freddie’s abrasive, helicopter-mom mother who really just can’t let go of her son. After all, that’s why she was pregnant with him for 11 months—she wanted to make sure that he was done.

Series: iCarly

Portrayed By: Mary Scheer

8. Cynthia

Okay, I know Cynthia isn’t an actual person, but hear me out. For being Angelica’s handy dandy doll, she’s made quite a mark on the Rugrats discourse over the years. Personally, I love the fact that she only has four strands of hair on her head where a larger clump used to be.

Series: Rugrats

9. Mrs. Hayfer

“I hate you” might be Mrs. Hayfer’s favorite words to say to Drake, but she could honestly do a lot worse with everything she’s had to put up with when it comes to him. A few examples: handing in a newspaper with his name written on top as his “paper about current events” and breaking up with her daughter because of her laugh.

Series: Drake & Josh

Portrayed By: Julia Duffy

10. Carl Wheezer

Carl’s singing alone cements him as one of the best Nickelodeon characters ever, but it’s the niche aspects of his personality that really give him that extra pizazz. For one, he adores llamas, and two, he adores Jimmy’s mom, Judy. In fact, he once through a brick through her window just to serenade her.

Series: The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius

Portrayed By: Rob Paulsen

11. Cosmo and Wanda

Listen, Cosmo and Wanda are such iconic characters that they’ve literally spilled over into the real world. Let me explain. They’re obviously just coincidences, but a little too frequently, people keep seeing the same hues of pink and green in different objects throughout the day. Personally, I’ve seen two pink and green garbage cans right next to one another on the side of the street and two pink and green rags in a mop bucket.

Series: The Fairly OddParents

Portrayed By: Daran Norris, Susanne Blakeslee

12. Ms. Fowl

Her squawking might just top Carl Wheezer’s singing, and that’s saying a lot.

Series: The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius

Portrayed By: Andrea Martin

13. Squidward

Nyeh, Squidward. Nyeh, Squidward. Nyeh, Squidward. You get the point, and you probably know the episode. While maybe we didn’t fully appreciate him until we all got a little older, Squidward is probably the greatest rude character to have ever been written.

Series: SpongeBob SquarePants

Portrayed By: Rodger Bumpass

14. Misty Raines

Misty Raines is one of Moody’s friends in the Moody’s Point sketch; she’s super paranoid, gets easily upset, and accidentally gets a baboon heart transplant at one point. Oh, and after that transplant, she’s thrown out of a gymnastics competition for her unfair advantage.

Series: The Amanda Show

Portrayed By: Molly Orr

15. Nigel Thornberry

Am I throwing Nigel Thornberry in here simply because of his iconic mustache and accent? Maybe. But while I’m here, he also very closely resembles Simon van Kempen from The Real Housewives of New York City and now you won’t be able to unsee it, either.

Series: The Wild Thornberrys

Portrayed By: Tim Curry

16. Karen

Plankton’s robot-wife, Karen, is host to some of the most absurdly hilarious lines in all of SpongeBob, though I’d say her greatest one is: “Plankton: one percent evil, 99 percent hot gas.”

Series: SpongeBob SquarePants

Portrayed By: Jill Talley

17. Coco Wexler

Coco is by far the most underrated character in Zoey 101; we love her so much because she’s chaotic, eats ravioli out of the can, and speaks the truth.

Series: Zoey 101

Portrayed By: Jessica Chaffin

18. Tito Makani

The beloved owner of the local Shore Shack, Tito is the heart of Rocket Power. Not only is he a longtime fixture in the surfing community, but he always makes time to pass out snacks and give advice to the Rocket Power crew.

Series: Rocket Power

Portrayed By: Ray Bumatai

19. Gordy

Honestly, I almost put the weasel in this spot instead of Gordy, but without Gordy, there would be no weasels—it’s a chicken-and-the-egg sort of situation. He’s the worst janitor around, and without him, we wouldn’t have had half the show we got with Ned’s Declassified.

Series: Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide

Portrayed By: Daran Norris

20. Gerald Johanssen

I know, Arnold might’ve been the obvious choice since the show is literally called Hey Arnold!, but alas, we can’t forget about Arnold’s favorite buddy, Gerald.

Series: Hey Arnold!

Portrayed By: Jamil Walker Smith

21. Quinn Pensky

Whether it’s harvesting banapples, demolishing robots, creating Frazz, or inventing a plasma rat trap, Quinn Pensky is always around to come up with a “Quinnvention” to solve whatever issue’s going on within her friend group at PCA. Do all of them work? Definitely not.

Series: Zoey 101

Portrayed By: Erin Sanders

22. Kenan and Kel

Now, it wouldn’t be a proper gathering of the best Nickelodeon characters without the mention of Kenan and Kel. One of the most insanely funny pairs in all of Nickelodeon history, Kenan and Kel threw themselves into the most absurd situations in this sort-of spinoff from All That.

Series: Kenan & Kel

Portrayed By: Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell

23. Coconut Head

Gadzooks, it’s Coconut Head! I actually don’t know why I wrote “gadzooks” but it somehow felt applicable here. Anyway, I can’t even attempt to come up with a paragraph that adequately pays homage to Coconut Head.

Series: Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide

Portrayed By: Rob Pinkston

Honorable Mentions

Sternum from Moody’s Point, the iTeacher from Ned’s Declassified, Poultra from the Jimmy Neutron movie, Man Ray from SpongeBob SquarePants, and the Unfabulous theme song. I know that’s not a person, but I had to mention it somewhere.

Popular Culture

‘Pete Davidson Presents: The Best Friends’: Review

Where else could you find the strange conglomeration of characters including Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Pete Davidson, Wanda Sykes, Margaret Cho, Machine Gun Kelly, Amy Schumer, Snoop Dogg, John Mulaney, and Trixie Mattel all in one place?

The Netflix Is a Joke Festival went down from April 28 through May 8 as part of a major collection of mostly stand-up comedy shows, though sprinkled in were also musical performances, panels, and other sets. Now, over a month later, we’re finally getting access to those shows on Netflix as the platform is steadily releasing each group of sets over the course of a few weeks. The latest in its lineup? Pete Davidson Presents: The Best Friends.

The “best friends” include Neko White, Dave Sirus, Jordan Rock, Joey Gay, Carly Aquilino, Giulio Gallarotti, Big Wet, and Machine Gun Kelly. Whether or not all of these people are actually best friends is still up for discussion (show me a heartfelt scrapbook as proof!), but it was definitely an interesting crew. Big Wet and Machine Gun Kelly performed musical acts whereas the first seven performers—including Davidson—each had around 10 minutes or less to perform their stand-up routines.

Overall Thoughts

Though a bit misleading as it seemed like a good portion of the show would include Pete Davidson’s stand-up, it was overall a fairly decent set. While I was a little bummed that Davidson only did about 10 minutes on stage before handing it off to the other performers, it ultimately created a well-curated night of semi-like-minded individuals who I wouldn’t have known about otherwise.

Davidson obviously addressed the Kanye West issues he’s been dealing with, calling December 2021 the start of his own personal COVID, and touched on how it’s not necessarily bad to accept free private jet rides from pedophiles.

The comics who truly shined were Giulio Gallarotti, Carly Aquilino, and Jordan Rock, which isn’t to say that the other comics were bad, they just didn’t have the same momentum of hilarious jokes that these three had. Gallarotti went on an insanely perfect rant about how he monitors “bros” when he sees a group of them out in public and discussed a recent run-in he had with a falcon on an airplane. Aquilino reminisced about the parts she misses from the lockdown stage of the pandemic and how she always thinks that she’s pregnant, while Jordan Rock went down a long tale about the differences between Generation Z and Millennials as well as how white people deal with Black Lives Matter.

This was my first time seeing Joey Gay perform, and let me just say, that voice came as a surprise to me; it sort of sounds like a mix between Carl Wheezer and Ms. Fowl from Jimmy Neutron. For Neko White, it might’ve just been tough to come on right after Pete Davidson, as his jokes fell a little flat at times and just didn’t seem to hit the audience in the same way as the other comics were able to. Dave Sirus was actually decent; he poked fun at himself and was a super engaging storyteller, but sometimes the story itself took over whatever the punchline was going to be.

As a whole, this was no life-changing comedy set. Sure, it might have been a little misleading, but no harm was done—the sets that weren’t as great were all short enough that I didn’t even bother skipping through, and on the flip side, I was introduced to a few new comics along the way. Overall it left me feeling a little weird—kind of like if you went to see a movie without popcorn; something just doesn’t feel right.

Pete Davidson Presents: The Best Friends is currently streaming on Netflix.