Two Off-Beat Streaming Picks: The Incredible Jessica James and Opening Night
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Not in the mood for superheroes? Two indie picks worth watching premiere this week on streaming services.
“The Incredible Jessica James” (Netflix) is a star-making vehicle for Jessica Williams, “The Daily Show’s” youngest correspondent. She had a small role in the previous film from writer/director Jim Strouse, and he wrote this film for her. As it opens, she does a fierce, funny, and free dance through her apartment and onto the roof and by the time the credits are over, we are completely captivated. The story is nothing new. She’s an aspiring playwright trying to find her way in New York City, with a wall covered in rejection letters and a heart recently broken in a breakup with a guy (Lakeith Stanfield) who is very appealing, so we feel for her. She attends her younger sister’s baby shower. She tries to help a young girl in the drama class she teaches. She goes on a blind date. She has a quirky/quippy best friend (Noel Wells). It’s a pretty standard romantic comedy. But Williams has a nice chemistry with Chris Dowd as her possible new love, there are some funny lines, and she is utterly irresistible. See it. You’ll have fun and you’ll always be able to say that right from the beginning you knew she’d be a star.
“Opening Night” (Amazon) is a backstage story about a dumb jukebox musical and all of the drama and chaos that goes into giving the audience a great show. It’s wildly uneven, as though it was put together by an improv group or maybe its large cast each wrote a premise on a slip of paper and then everyone picked one out of a hat. Topher Grace is appealing, as always, if slumming a bit as the one-time performer turned stage manager, dealing with various crises of love, fear, and various substances. A plotline about male and female dancers competing to seduce the new guy goes on way too long and way too far as does another about the cynical star’s accidental ingestion of drugs. It’s the kind of raunchy that indicates a failure of imagination. What makes it fun is the cast of real theatrical performers who show us that the show really must go on. It kind of makes me wish we were sitting out front to see them do the whole show.
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We are delighted to present this exclusive clip from “Breaking Legs,” a teen dance competition movie (starring real teens, not actors in their 20’s pretending to be teens). It’s available now on VOD and DVD.
When new-to-town freshman Bloom meets her classmate Harmony, it’s loathing at first sight. Bloom just wants to dance, but the only place to strut her stuff is the school dance team…captained by none other than the number one mean girl herself. When Harmony’s boyfriend falls for Bloom, what starts out as unfriendly competition quickly becomes an all-out war. Bloom’s only shot at her chance to fit into this new school and get on the dance team is to win the Honor Girl top prize. But not even her best friend or her uncle – who is trying to contend with his boss – can help her. And Harmony won’t concede the competition or her boyfriend without a fight!
“Breaking Legs” stars Liv Southard (“Good Enough,” “Horror Haiku”) as Bloom, a high school freshman who has just moved to a small town where the only place to dance is the school’s dance team. Alexa Sutherland (“Sweet/Vicious”) plays the role of Harmony, Bloom’s nemesis, who is willing to go to any length to keep her biggest competitor off the team.
Rounding out the cast is William Leon (“Play by Play”) as Bloom and Harmony’s love interest, Sarah Rochelle (“Offer and Compromise”) as Bloom’s best friend, and Richard Riehle (“Office Space”) as the school’s atypical principle. Mark Marchillo, who also wrote/directed and choreographed the film, stars as Bloom’s aimless uncle. Chris Kattan (“A Night at the Roxbury,” “Saturday Night Live”) and Lee Meriwether (“The League,” “Barnaby Jones”) also star.
Writer/Director and choreographer Mark Marchillo says: “Breaking Legs is a fun, funny and quotable movie that teens and tweens will relate to. We thought it important that the film’s characters ring true, with teenage actors playing their real ages. It’s a kick-up-your-heels kind of entertainment, with a lot of heart for every age. I hope everyone enjoys Breaking Legs as much as we enjoyed making it.”
Andrews has a natural chemistry with her pint-sized students, treating them as she would any human performer, while gently reprimanding her mischievous dog, Toby (John Kennedy), who also happens to be a puppet. The first 13 episodes of “Julie’s Greenroom” debuted on March 17th, and though the series is every bit as delightful as one would expect, it succeeds as far more than a nostalgia-fest.
In fact, there may not be a better defense for saving the National Endowment for the Arts than this program, which has coincidentally arrived during a period in which the President of the United States has proposed cutting it for the first time in history.
The complete library of the popular animated franchise The Powerpuff Girls “classic” is streaming exclusively on Hulu, with the newly reimagined and Emmy Award-nominated animated 2016 series of the same name making its exclusive streaming debut on Hulu March 24, 2017. The series celebrates “Girl Power” through the adventures of three sister-superheroes: Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup.
We have a cool Powerpuff Girls prize kit to give away, with a special edition cape, lip-balm and pair of sunglasses inspired by the show.
Send me an email at email@example.com with Girls in the subject line and tell me your favorite sign of spring. Don’t forget your address! (US addresses only) I’ll pick a winner at random on March 19, 2017.