There exists a parallel universe in which Hawk Ripjaw and myself never teamed up to tear down shit-tastic cinema for you, Boozers, because in this alternate reality, perhaps a better reality, countless numbers of soul-sucking silverscreen succubi were never made (so we never reviewed them). We’re still friends, but in that part of the multiverse I’m married to Ted Danson and I met Hawk because he breeds waterproof ferrets which my darling Ted got me a pair for our fifth anniversary (everyone knows your fifth anniversary is the ferret anniversary) and Hawk stuck around for my flawless film and television recommendation stats (just this morning I left my masseuse with a list of Netflix and Hulu recommendations to watch).
But wait! Through yonder computer screen sarcasm and snark break! It is yours truly, Felix Felicis (Celebrity Psychic Kickboxing Consultant) and Hawk Ripjaw (Professional Guy Who Tells Dad Jokes At Parties To The Stars) ugly crying into our toxic-relationshit beers this go ’round so that you, our booziest, most devotediest readers, won’t have to in a very special Felix-Ripjaw Debate Presents: After. These past years we’ve mocked harder (Fifty Shades Of Grey) died inside faster (Book Club) and came out the other side covered in questionable amounts of buttered popcorn, fragmented bits of Transformers: The Last Knight, and salty self-loathing (Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets).
He Said: With the opening voiceover dialogue stating: “There are moments in life that seem to define us,”-
She Said: Hi, so sorry to break in here but I just had an epiphany and it’s this: you’re either defined by something or you’re not, so After can take its weak-ass linguistics, not to mention wishy-washy use of the word “seem”, and jam that right up its orifice of choice.
He Said: ‘After’ throws up more red flags than a chainsaw on a soccer field.-
She Said: I’m gonna have follow-up questions about that very specific visual after we wrap this up, but go on.
He Said: The character behind that dialogue is Tessa (Josephine Langford), a comically sheltered and bookish young virgin who’s about to go to college. Tessa is so sheltered, in fact, that Noah (Dylan Arnold) the guy helping her move into her dorm, along with her overprotective mother (Selma Blair), is misconstrued as her brother until they, uh, kiss on the lips.
She Said: I mean, even if he had been… when in Westeros, do as they do I guess (incest is national past-time in ye olde seven kingdoms). Author’s note: this movie does not take place in Westeros, in order to survive I desperately tried to imagine After taking place somewhere, anywhere, more interesting than Generic College Campus 47.
He Said: Don’t MAKE me want a version of this movie set alongside ‘Game of Thrones’. By the way, Noah looks and acts like the guitarist from an early 2000s Christian rock band.
She Said: Oh, absolutely. All this knockoff Lifetime movie was missing was someone getting pregnant and/or finding their way back to King’s Landing/Jesus.
He Said: Good luck finding anything in King’s Landing right now (too soon?). So upon arriving at Tessa’s new dorm, the fam finds her roommate is a vaping goth that listens to ROCK MUSIC.
She Said: Points to Hawk for perfect timing on that joke and a point, singular, to After for introducing a radical new kind of character, the hyper-sexualized lesbian who has very frequent sexy sleepovers with her also hyper-sexualized girlfriend. Insert sarcasm here. I mean, +100 for mainstream inclusion of queer characters and -1000 for making them stereotypical, ripoff Bratz barbie dolls.
He Said: Selma Blair’s Helicopter Mom is immediately suspicious of all this independent autonomy, because Tessa’s entire family dynamic completely resembles a wholesome *youth group pamphlet (*cult). Tessa assures her mom that she will most definitely not be corrupted by her new friends.
She Said: Come for the knockoff Fifty Shades flick, stay for the foreshadowing about as subtle as Saturday morning cartoons during the nineties.
He Said: A couple of days later, Tessa enters her dorm room after taking a shower and finds British Brood Machine ‘Hardin’ (Hero Fiennes-Tiffin) lounging on her roommate’s bed reading a book.
She Said: It’s so hard to find a man who enjoys literature in his leisure time these days, ladies, but here’s a hot tip: look in unsuspecting college girls’ dorm rooms! All the tone deaf creepiness of a sexual predator lying in wait wrapped in a crunchy taco shell of making terrible life choices just ripe for the plucking. Add a banner scrolling the bottom of this review and it’s a spot-on “As Seen On TV” starter kit for unhealthy relationships.
He Said: According to the movie, this a quirky “where we first met” story instead of a disrespectful and, frankly, very invasive violation of Tessa’s privacy. Hardin eventually does leave (after being asked several times) but can’t resist making one more parting comment (because toxic masculinity is the main theme in romance novels now).
She Said: Didn’t you notice that it’s not true love unless you’re objectified, sexualized, and demeaned before perpetuating the toxic stereotype by rewarding this behavior with submission and sexual gratification?
He Said: Next up, Tessa’s roommate convinces her to go to a frat party where Tessa is almost immediately coerced into a game of ‘Truth or Dare’ where she’s dared to kiss Hardin no more than thirty seconds after arrival.
She Said: I Dare Tessa to embrace her independence by setting Hardin on fire, rolling over his ashes with a steam roller, and shooting him into space stuffed inside a Ruth Bader Ginsburg biography on Elon Musk’s next rocket tour of Mars.
He Said: Do college kids even play Truth or Dare if they’re not in a movie?
She Said: Oh! I know this one! *lips directly on mic* NO.
He Said: Tessa refuses-
She Said: Yes! Finally! An intelligent decis-
He Said: –but somehow wanders into Hardin’s bedroom where she finds a piece of classic literature.
She Said: Oh no. Anything but-
He Said: It’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ or something similar; look, it doesn’t fucking matter what the book is because ‘After’ possesses a suspicious lack of actual subtext in regards to literary references.
She Said: Whew! For a minute there I thought you were going to say After had resurrected the tired cliche of opposites-attract characters arguing over the ‘feminist agenda’ put forth in Pride and–
He Said: Moving on from that, Tessa and Hardin hate-flirt in a shared lit class the next day, pointedly arguing about the characters in ‘Pride & Prejudice’.
She Said: Ahhhhhh fuck it. I give up. As long as she doesn’t immediately cave and fall in lo-
He Said: Tessa can’t stand him-
She Said: [waits for the other shoe to drop]
He Said: –which is why when Hardin invites her to just get in his car and go somewhere he won’t disclose, Tessa barely hesitates before hopping in.
She Said: Aaaand there it is. The actual death of feminism.
She Said: On the one hand, Hardin is an irredeemable dick, on the other hand, Hardin is an irredeemable dick. Wait, that’s redundant, let me try starting this Toast again with a hard pivot.
She Said: On the one hand, it was amazing to see Selma Blair onscreen since her turn as the flammable romantic lead, Liz, in Hellboy II: The Golden Army (let me clarify, Blair’s worked steadily since 2008’s Hellboy 2 but I haven’t seen any of her projects between then and now) and on the other hand, they dyed her hair some fucked up shade of constipated blonde and gave Blair’s character framework/dialogue so generic a stale fig newton placed in front of a television showing all four seasons – yes there were FOUR seasons- of The Simple Life (the reality show starring Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie) on a continuous loop, would’ve been equally as impactful to the film (not to mention a far lesser waste of a talented woman’s time). But big ups to Selma Blair nonetheless for telling multiple sclerosis (diagnosed October of 2018) to fuck off and for keeping on keeping on acting like a BAMF. Other than that, After has no redeemable qualities, none, I’d re-watch the entire first season of Breaking Bad again (and seriously consider ritual seppuku) before voluntarily sitting through After a second time.
He Said: Guys, if you recall, Felix REALLY couldn’t stand ‘Breaking Bad’ and the white privilegedness of its characters’ problems in the first season. Try as I might, I can’t change her mind, so know that we are NOT FUCKING AROUND with this comparison.
She Said: This beer is fully about Hardin and, to a lesser extent, Tessa. The whole movie revolves around these maladjusted fuckpuppets and there’s so much wrong it almost can’t be quantified.
He Said: But if anyone can, it’s us. No matter the cost. Whatever it takes. We have been of service.
She Said: We will BE of service.
She Said: Hardin: His character is underwhelming, has no charisma, definitely suffers from intermittent explosive anger disorder, self-medicates, and, in addition to careening headlong toward alcoholism, projects every one of these issues onto family, friends, and Tessa who all excuse, explain away, or outright enable his escalating outbursts of rage-induced narcissism.
He Said: Maybe she’s supposed to save him because she’s so, uh, empathetic and- ah fuck I give up.
She Said: Family issues are built up, vaguely explained, and artificially contrived so much so that no rational human being would consider the things Hardin has issues with an excuse for the petulant, abominable way he treats his father and step-mother (or anyone else for that matter).
He Said: The fact that Hardin is considered the gold standard of boyfriends from the get-go is extremely worrying for the upcoming age group that will be watching this/eventually running the world… Which isn’t going to hell in handbasket quite yet but is *absolutely* headed there in an UberPool.
She Said: Also, Hardin’s step brother, Landon (Shane Paul McGhie) is – at most- a tepid sponge there to bolster Tessa’s interest in Hardin; he also serves as a possible romantic rival for about negative five nanoseconds in addition to LITERALLY cleaning up his step-brother’s big boy destruction-to-property-damage during outbursts/tantrums.
He Said: To be honest, I was kind of shipping Landon and Tessa for a bit there because Landon is a fairly good example of a supportive and empathetic person.
She Said: Yeah, you know that’s not how these movies work right? That not how any of these franchises work. And I’d never presume to pass judgement on anyone’s coping mechanisms or tell someone that they’re not entitled to the full extent and range of human emotions, but…
He Said: Everybody is entitled to their emotions, but most people stop short of dropping emotionally manipulative atomic bombs on unsuspecting members of the incoming freshmen class. Freshwomen. Freshpeople? I don’t know, go with what you feel.
She Said: Freshhumans? Enh, whatever. We all process trauma in different ways, HOWEVER, the scenario percolating to a mediocre boil in After seems more like a half-baked opportunity to placate romance-hungry-teens with a “parents are the WORST”, us-versus-them, romance-against-all-odds storyline than an actual attempt to convey real-world issues in a relevant and respectful way that very much affects a not-insignificant number of actual people.
He Said: Hey, today’s teens have enough to worry about, why burden them with positive role models for healthy relationships and emotional stability?
She Said: Yeah, you’re right. The risk of creating a generation of emotionally stable post-millennials is too high. Next thing you know they’re no longer in line at Starbucks for the latest Unicorn/Zombie/Mermaid Frap but ACTUALLY SOLVING NATIONAL, SOCIETAL, AND MAYBE EVEN GLOBAL PROBLEMS. We can’t have that.
She Said: What really chaps my ass, though, is that there aren’t any lasting repercussions for any of Hardin’s actions and it robs the narrative of any chance for real tension (or even the smallest MOLECULE of character growth in After).
He Said: Instead, Harden just gets rewarded in the end for being “deep.”
She Said: But, also, how we’re supposed to root for Hardin to get the girl in the end when he *should* be getting a solid thwap upside the head instead, I’ll never know.
He Said: Because a big chunk of this generation is slipping ever deeper into a morally bankrupt hellhole that they probably won’t escape from?
She Said: Well we knew that when Keeping Up With The Kardashians was greenlit for the next century.
She Said: Tessa: Peel back a couple layers of the bland tofu that is Tessa and you’ll reveal that she’s actually a self-involved, two-dimensional nitwit.
He Said: I’m scouring my memory for a single noteworthy or selfless thing she does in the entire movie, and I’m coming up very short. Tessa does nothing I can think of that’s not in some way self-serving.
She Said: Yes, her mother is overbearing, but Tessa reacts to bad behavior with the nuclear option 10/10 times.
He Said: Pffft like nuclear technology has ever gone terribly awry in the wrong hands.
She Said: Which are any hands that had even the smallest part in making After leap from page to screen. Selma Blair Mom says break up with a boyfriend she considers a bad influence? Birch is dead to you now.
He Said: And not just any mom; she’s a COOL MOM.
She Said: Then High School Boyfriend shows up to ruin your budding romance with someone who’s NOT HIM? Go make out with the other dude and then wander home the morning after to meet your actual boyfriend on the residence hall lawn and really give him the rock star treatment on how to end a relationship.
He Said: Wait. There’s a ROCK STAR TREATMENT? The most I’ve ever received is a Taco Bell good-bye. At least crunch wraps will always love me.
She Said: But wait, it gets better. Find out your New Boyfriend made a bet to make you fall in love with him and then crush you? LIGHT HIS SHREDDED PSYCHE ON FIRE AND WALK AWAY.
She Said: Not to say Tessa didn’t have every right to bounce up out that toxic sitch, but the problem is that when she (justifiably for once) dials the emotional tantrum amp all the way up to eleven (if you get this reference, congratulations we’re now friends) only to walk back most of it/forgive and forget, all we’re left with is a weak photocopy of an even weaker emotional narcissist to half-heartedly (at best) root for. This film does NO FAVORS for women – and the portrayal of women (more on than later) as intelligent, multifaceted people.
He Said: [this space intentionally left blank]
She Said: After should be tried in the court of public opinion for crimes against feminism. Or tossed into a pit with Arya Stark and Needle at the very least.
She Said: These two are actually perfect for one another because nobody else deserves to be in that type of shitshow relationship with either of these asshats.
She Said: After is what happens when the worst parts of the Fifty Shades franchise (which would argue that there are better parts of that franchise but that’s like saying there were “very fine people” in both franchises. No. Get your head out of your ass about both of those things and just accept there’s shit and then deeper ‘shades’ of shit in each fuckbundle of films – I’m assuming there’s a dystopian future ahead of us in which the other two books in the After trilogy are adapted into films) and the most insipid parts of the Twilight franchise have a baby.
He Said: If I’m going to be subjected to two more of these lifeless and bland ‘After” franchise flicks, I’d very much prefer my head be shoved as far up my ass as is humanly possible, actually.
She Said: Take out the supernatural elements in Twilight and you have the human equivalent of constipated, pasty-white, plastic grocery bags of people (Bella and Edward) falling in love with about as much natural chemistry as a couple of dahleks trying to anger bang.
She Said: Fair enough. And though this film began life in print as One Direction/Harry Styles fanfic, it morphed into an unholy silverscreen abomination which parrots a BLATANT ripoff of the (PG 13-ized) Fifty Shades franchise which in itself is a BLATANT fanfic ripoff of the Twilight series of books.
He Said: At this point, Z-grade erotic fiction is just a recycled thematic shitshow being re-adapted back and forth until you and I have to review the inevitable movie adaptation. Oh god. I just realized we’re dead and we went to ‘The Bad Place’.
She Said: What circle of hell hath Stephanie Meyer wrought in this UNDERWORLD THAT SHE HAS CURSED US SO.
He Said: Stephanie Meyer has opened the door in the throat of the dragon, from which the wails of the damned belch forth intermixed with the exact same story being narrated over and over again.
She Said: You know, European monarchies tried that shit in the 1500’s (and beyond) and you can ask the Habsburg family (and, actually, the Targaryens as well) how an incestuous dogpile of the same (genetic) material recycled over and over, again and again and again, worked out for them.
He Said: At least for the Targaryens it only took 72.1 hours to find out how it ended. This felt SIGNIFICANTLY lengthier.
She Said: Okay, fine, point to you but I’m not saying every franchise has to be a shining beacon of innovation (I mean, that’d be great) but the weak-ass dumpster water that After is peddling as ‘fresh homemade lemonade” at its roadside stand is, in actuality, a giant pile of diabetes-infused Triceratops shit on the chest of cinema.
He Said: Ah yes, the dinosaur shit hierarchy. The Triceratops is indeed in possession of the title of dankest defecation of the late Cretaceous period, and–ohhhhh, THAT’S why I never get past the first date.
She Said: Sure, buddy, *that’s* why. Please see the XxX and Fast franchises for how to do it better.
He Said: Oh, good reminder! I have gotten exactly one date by mentioning the part in ‘XxX 3’ where dudes surf using dirt bikes. Still pretty sure she misunderstood me.
She Said: Even the three intrepid teens in a theater full of seven people (including myself) were anemically underwhelmed by the bland turdburger After was serving on a PG-13 platter. The only other people in there were three other adults all seated in the back row with me, which was a whole extra level of weird. You guys know this was teenage-friendly regurgitated One Direction fanfic, right? RIGHT?! I didn’t have a choice BUT YOU DID THIS TO YOURSELVES. ON PURPOSE.
He Said: I’ve done this so many times that sometimes I forget that there is an actual, inexplicable MARKET for this shit, that they actually ENJOY movies like this. There was a gaggle of giggling teens directly behind me.
She Said: A gaggle of giggling teens is called a “Forever 21” and to make a long story even longer, After was a soul-sucking, shallow, torturous, toxic, bland boil on the taint of cinema.
He Said: Did you REALLY have to put a boil on a taint? You know I eat while we do these, right?
She Said: After was so bad that you can’t make fun of it, you can’t laugh at it, and you can’t escape the endless, mind-numbing, cinematic water torture that it relentlessly applied to the temple of film. You can’t outrun After–
He Said: Ah, you got me! This is actually why I’ve been practicing cardio!
She Said: -no, you can only endure it and hope you’re still sane when it’s done eroding the last of your will to live.
He Said: Aw, crap. And just imagine what that means when you’re us, and don’t even have a will to live after enduring the ENTIRE ‘Fifty Shades’ series PLUS its unholy devil spawn spinoff, ‘Book Club’. I can still hear the whispering from beyond the void when I drift to sleep at night.
She Said: Buy Billy McFarland’s upcoming self-published-from-prison memoir entitled “Promythus: God of Fyre” upon release to complete your transition into living corpse.
He Said: Hard Pass. Even as one of the undead, I’d still have standards. Unlike the cliches in ‘After’ which announce themselves with all the subtlety of air raid sirens and strobe lights.
She Said: No one wins at that disco.
He Said: No one ever does. Also, ‘After’ is as formulaic as romance movies come, predictable down to the very specific lines of Generic Mad Libs dialogue we can only assume sexually frustrated Care Bears filled in.
She Said: More like Care Bares amirite… HAHAHAHA GET IT THEY’RE BEARS AND THEY’RE ALREADY NAKED. Sorry not sorry. Had to be pun.
He Said: I was almost able to recite the lines word-for-word like characters do in the movies sometimes when they watch a movie they’ve seen a thousand times, eating popcorn piece by piece (except I *wasn’t* acting in a movie but I *was* surrounded by giggling teenagers and staring at a theater screen with dead eyes, nothing to chew on except crippling existential dread and loneliness). So the usual.
She Said: From the NANOSECOND the (insipid and nonsensical) voiceover began in After I knew I was fucked. And not in the good way.
He Said: There’s a good way?
She Said: Not even in the way where you’re not that into it but it’s either that or actually go to the gym for cardio and it’s raining that day so you’re like “fine, but I *will* be using MapMyRun to get an exact calorie count this time”.
He Said: Oh yeah, that way. I don’t burn enough calories.
She Said: I mean, nobody in After gets fucked anyway, either. Let me clarify, they do what I did when I was a teenager and still figuring out penises (heavily make out but just like over the clothes stuff until the guy starts playing with your shirt’s hemline and the camera cuts away before you guys get naked then cuts back in later where you’re found wearing an endless series of overlarge classic rock band shirts. Maybe they had sex, maybe she keeps spilling marinara sauce down her front. The world may never know.
She Said: For as much as this film was billed as a racy teen sexcapade of sexual awakening, After has about as much sexually charged impact as a passenger-side collision between two clown cars shaped entirely out of abandoned Easter Peeps and fueled by chair farts collected from DMV-wait-line seating areas near you.
He Said: I have borne witness to the mass migration of people to Colorado after marijuana was legalized, and let me tell you: the accumulated DMV chair farts would take us to Jupiter.
She Said: Promise me the chair farts take us to Jupiter (Ascending) and we have a deal. Alternate theory: Tessa and Hardin are never-nudes. This is the only explanation that makes sense in this carefully-neutered-for-teens version of knockoff Fifty Shades fanfic they’re peddling here.
He Said: Well now I have weekend plans but that doesn’t help erase the visual of Hardin kissing Tessa down the front of her jeans as some kind of weird foreplay. Does… does Hardin know how vaginas work? Asking for a *friend (*me).
She Said: I can’t believe I’m saying this but I would watch any Twilight or Shades flick before subjecting myself to this endless (and endlessly boring), glacially paced, shitnado of frustrated (non)fuckwittery again. I draw the line at Book Club, though.
He Said: I would rather personally pluck my own eyeballs from my skull and subject myself to the eternal torment of Cthulhu’s dark embrace than view as much as a single frame of ‘Book Club’ ever again.
She Said: I honestly don’t know which poison pill I’d take if forced to choose between Book Club and After, but you could probably put money on me faking my own death and starting a new life as Veronica Lightning Jones, savvy PI by day, President of all Bunnies on Earth by night, making the world a better place one carrot murder solved at a time.
He Said: DETECTIVE LIGHTNING JONES, WE NEED YOU AND YOUR BUNNY ARMY! PETER COTTONTAIL’S EVIL CYBERNETIC TWIN PETER STAINLESS STEEL SCOURING PAD-TAIL HAS STOLEN THE RECIPE FOR PSILOCYBIN-INFUSED CARROT CAKE JUST IN TIME FOR FATHER’S DAY!
She Said: Like we were going to get through this rectal dumpster fire of a film and its offensive, zero-dimensional portrayals of women without me building the biggest soapbox known to humanity to climb on top of to shout from? Birch, please.
She Said: I don’t even know where to start but the fact that the source material for this movie was written by a woman, Anna Todd (who, by all accounts, is a lovely person – but Todd gave birth to a brain baby more terrifying than what came out of Melisandre in that seaside *cave – proves that After is indeed dark and full of terrors. *Another Game of Thrones reference Hawk won’t get until months from now) and the film adaptation written BY ANOTHER WOMAN (Susan McMartin – who wrote for Two and a Half Men and Californication– oh wait this is beginning to make sense as both of those shows featured womanizing misogynists rewarded for bad behavior) and directed by YET A THIRD WOMAN (Jenny Gage – her resume is thin and this is Gage’s first box office feature film which leads me to the conclusion that everyone else with a vagina – or otherwise – who knew better wasn’t gonna touch this with a ten foot selfie-stick) means that some girl-on-girl crime happened here.
He Said: Possibly the worst type of cinematic crime, besides ‘Suicide Squad’.
She Said: Grab about fifteen Etch-a-Sketches (four or five really big ones) and shake them. Now sky dive out of a plane without a parachute clutching an armful of those Etch-a-Sketches and hit the ground like a Warp Ten Rorschach Test mixing blood and sand together in an unholy union. You don’t know where your meaty human bits end and the sand begins. Let that haunting image linger in your mind for a second. I’ll wait.
He Said: That is the most metal thing you have ever said and I AM HERE FOR IT.
She Said: Good. You’ve just been exposed to more depth, drama, and lasting impact-
He Said: Haaaaaaaa, I get it–
She Said: -than any one of the female characters were imbued with AT ANY POINT in After. Let’s start with our lead, Tessa, who is a LITERAL HEARTBEAT away from being an actual Real Doll.
He Said: I know, a Real Doll has more insightful things to say, as well as more respect for herself and others.
She Said: Tessa exists in a largely placid, purely reactive state (much like Echo does – from another Joss Whedon, cancelled-too-soon-television-show named, appropriately, Dollhouse – except Echo evolves into a layered, multifaceted character… eventually) there only to serve the plot and be moved around by others like a bland chess piece, free from annoying traits like independent thought or self-agency of any kind.
He Said: I can only conclude that Tessa is yet another casualty of war in the never-ending battle for the soul of cinema, just one more in long line of female protagonists done a disservice by being served up on a silver platter to be tossed into the insatiable, gaping maw of shitty romance stories intended by their creator(s) to be a sacrificial “tabula rasa” upon which aimless viewers can project their own personalities/backstories onto (instead of challenging themselves by seeking out intelligent, relatable, modern media that would actually add value to their lives).
She Said: Every “decision” Tessa makes serves as empty, lip-service fallacy to feminism – and, as a bonus, runs counter-intuitive to the same principle it espouses.
She Said: Her roommate, Molly (the Lesbian Bratz Barbie Doll played by Inanna Sarkis known best for – oh god – Boo 2! A Madea Halloween – sweet baby Cthulhu, that’s… these are not great life choices you’re making here, kid), as are most of the characters, is defined purely by the clothing she wears which is used to telegraph – in the most obvious way – what kind of person/character she is.
He Said: This is troubling to report, but ‘Boo 2‘, along with being one of the worst moviegoing experiences of my life, had a bizarrely similar problem with defining female character identities via their wardrobe choices.
She Said: It’s bargain-basement, lazy film-making to rely on a set, wardrobe, and/or special effects (where applicable – though not here in After) to prop up bad writing, direction, and/or acting.
She Said: Tessa (yeah, we’re back to her) was also dressed in what I imagine a marooned time traveler from a far away dystopian future raised reading only JC Penny catalogues from 1985 (hoarded in a library/shrine built as a repository for the lost literature of ages past) thinks is what normal women in the year 2019 wear to display *cough* virtue signaling *cough* modest, wholesome values in order to blend in with the herd until they can find a way to fix their Tardis and zip back home to Blast-From-The-Past-warn-the-last-of-humanity (all seven of them) that their robot overlords may be dicks, but at least they’re dicks who don’t make you wear a paisley ankle length skirt outside of some very weird (but consensual) Little House On The Prairie sex-related role play.
He Said: That might be the most beautifully arranged sequence of words compiled in the history of the human language (not to mention the most accurate statement about this movie that I’ve ever heard).
She Said: I don’t know how many different ways we can illustrate that After was a toxic, derivative, superfluous, ebola-filled zit on the face of cinema so I’m going to switch it up and talk about something you *should* be watching instead of this failed fuckstick of a film.
He Said: My shredded soul is in need of repair, as are my eyes, ears and traumatized psyche.
She Said: Santa Clarita Diet is a revelation.
He Said: A pure, uncut masterpiece.
She Said: Drew Barrymore (Sheila) and Timothy Olyphant (Joel) take the premise of banal suburban realators (intentionally spelled that way and a delightful easter egg reference in this review for anyone who’s already seen the show) shoved unceremoniously into a shocking world of undead hijinks and adorably homicidal shenanigans and raise it an untold number of levels. The absolute absurdity of the cleverly written dialogue (which has its finger on the pulse of current culture and isn’t afraid to press down) mixed with flawless character arcs/evolution is a wonder to behold as a genre-splice which shouldn’t work (Think Desperate *Housewives (*realators) – without all the dysfunction – mixed with Shaun of the Dead-ish whimsy).
He Said: Joel is literally my spirit animal on how he treats just about every other human being.
She Said: Joel and Sheila constantly check in with one another, communicate, talk about their feelings honestly, and not once, not EVER, let the other down by failing to support their partner however they need.
He Said: I literally can’t think of any other show that is as wholesomely focused on the well-being of its characters and their relationships as this is.
She Said: They come through, and come through in a big way, consistently, in representing a healthy marriage/relationship (and a healthy, loving, family dynamic with their daughter, Abby) that’s both relatable and admirable.
Santa Clarita Diet: A Montage
She Said: SC Diet gives me hope (well it did before it was brutally axed – pun intended – after a STELLAR Season Three) that healthy relationships with your family can exist in even under the most insane circumstances. I mean, not in mine, god no, lol, the off-the-charts emotional machinations at even a casual Felicis Family Gathering would put Cersei’s Game of Thrones manipulations to shame… but for other people? Absolutely.
He Said: At this point we’ve been conditioned by mainstream television shows to expect drama and infighting and revelations that challenge character relationships and make us worry about the straw that may one day break the camel’s back (or at least put it in traction) for good as the status quo. But instead, ‘SC Diet’ is about a family, nay, a TEAM that goes out of their way to help each other, do small and caring things to show their love daily (and *always* when it counts the most) as well as solving their problems together while staying in tune emotionally.
She Said: Streaming on Netflix (all three seasons) as an original show, Santa Clarita Diet is the pinnacle of perfection. SC Diet has a fantastic leading cast, LGBTQ inclusion that doesn’t kill off – or otherwise demean – queer characters, and a singular mindfulness of, and respect for, its female characters. Not to mention SC Diet juxtaposes the mind-numbingly benign with the impossibly surreal in a (smashingly successful) way that hasn’t been seen outside of a Salvador Dali melting clock painting until now.
He Said: Just in the first episode, SC Diet has more nuance than the entire genre ‘After’ exists in, operating as one part fable of spicing up the existential monotony of suburban life and two parts charming (and hilariously deadpan) relationship roadmap.
She Said: SC Diet is a master class in television done right – and worth every second you spend watching it – unlike the steaming pile of wasted time called After that’s currently taking up space in my memory that could be used thinking about what really happened to Mr. Ball Legs after the Santa Clarita Diet Season Three/Series Finale.
He Said: Sometimes I like to think about how Mr. Ball Legs never had to watch ‘After’, and I just kind of smile knowing how much better off he is as I wipe away a single wistful tear.
She Said: Watch ONE episode and tell me the positively sublime Joel and Sheila aren’t the GOAT at relationships.
She Said: Agreed. I’ll leave you with this parting Santa Clarita Diet .gif(t):
She Said: Slight Tangent: If you’re looking for a steamier (similar to After) indulgence done right, I can’t recommend A Discovery of Witches highly enough. Streaming on a couple of different platforms in the US, this BBC One adaptation of Deborah Harkness’s novels is a beautiful blend of what could have been if Fifty Shades and Twilight had been done PROPERLY.
He Said: I feel like I might have a stroke just trying to comprehend that.
She Said: Stick with me here. It’s a star-crossed romance between a visiting Elizabeth Bennett-y professor (Theresa Palmer – who’s character happens to be a witch) at Oxford University and a delightfully Mr. Darcy-esque Oxford Professor (Mathew Goode – who’s character happens to be a vampire) and their opposites-initially-clash-turned-magnetic-pull-towards-one-another as they solve an ancient esoteric mystery in a treasure hunt for a lost tome of inter-species lore while a war escalates between their two races over this forbidden union/lost tome is as carnally captivating as it is intellectually and historically intriguing (a la National Treasure).
I present to you A Discovery Of Witches: A Montage
She Said: Kind of like Outlander for vampires and witches (albeit with *fewer kilts, more’s the pity – *none).
She Said: It straight-up took Hawk and I a month to write this review because every molecule in our bodies was rejecting After on sub-atomic levels. My current benchmark for bad in 2019, After, is a dark horse, ‘Country House’ Kentucky Derby contender-style for worst movie of the year. You can put money on that.
He Said: Every second of the ‘After’ film reel is pain, not just in every sensory capacity humanly possible (including the sixth sense, because Tessa and Hardin have clearly been dead inside the entire time) but on an emotional as well as an artistic level, not to mention in addition to the effect it can have on impressionable youths who are watching this (and movies like this) in droves. There’s nothing to gain from ‘After’. Nothing interesting, nothing noteworthy, nothing to laugh at, and nothing to learn besides this: understand our pain and make positive decisions/self-care choices knowing what you now know, and don’t (under any circumstances) let this toxic/regressive film willingly into your life.
After (2019) Drinking Game
He Said: Take a Drink for every relationship red flag.
She Said: Take a Drink whenever Tessa gets into a fight… with anyone.
He Said: Take a Drink: for every parallel to Fifty Shades or Twilight.
She Said: Take a Sip anytime you wonder how any of this shit relates to One Direction fan fiction and/or someone mentions or quotes classic literature.
He Said: Take a Shot every time the movie equates college to high school.
She Said: Take a Drink for each dickish thing Hardin says about, or does to, his father/whenever Tessa is a raging narcissist toward her high school boyfriend and/or mother.
She Said: Shotgun Your Beer whenever there’s a voiceover. At this point, you may die of alcohol poisoning, but it would be a mercy killing if it got you out of watching the entire film.