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    Friday, July 19, 2024

    Tipping Point: Our picks and pans

    MOVIE TIP

    Unfrosted

    Netflix

    This Jerry Seinfeld black comedy about the 1963 battle between Kellogg’s and Post cereal companies over who could develop and market what became Pop Tarts is being treated with cruel disdain by most critics. I suggest it’s because none of the critics are old enough to get it. There’s so much period humor and context — a world as exemplified by TV shows like “Leave It to Beaver,” “Bewitched,” “My Three Sons” — that people under 50 simply don’t have the pop culture touchstones to appreciate the subtleties. Seinfeld, Jim Gaffigan and Melissa McCarthy star as Kelloggs execs at war with Amy Schumer and Max Greenfield’s Post visionaries, and a comedy hall of fame of stars appear in all sorts of clever support bits. Hugh Grant, for example, is the real-life Thurl Ravenscoft, the frustrated Shakespearean actor who voiced Tony the Tiger, and Bill Burr plays JFK, whose Bay of Pigs face-off has a decided breakfast cereal component. Many of the jokes are silly but hilarious, and at the same time there are a lot of pointed contemporary bits that suggest we’re a lot stupider now than we were then.

    — Rick Koster

    MOVIE TIP

    Challengers

    What happens when you have a love triangle with three people who aren’t very likeable? Well, you have “Challengers.” It’s the latest from Luca Guadagnino, who gained fame with “Call Me By Your Name,” and while “Challengers” really strives to be sexy and provocative, it ends up trying too hard and making too little of an impact. The story focuses on three tennis players: straight-arrow Art, played by Mike Faist, and wild Patrick, played by Josh O’Connor, who both fall for Tashi — portrayed by Zendaya, who shimmers with superstar charisma. Tashi is the phenomenon here, but a knee injury takes her out of the game before she can turn pro. She ends up coaching and marrying Art. The movie bounces back and forth in time, as relationships morph and become increasingly complicated. The trio always seem to be competing in life, even in amorous situations, but that gets wearying to watch after a while.

    – Kristina Dorsey

    BOOK TIP

    You Like It Darker

    Stephen King

    For some reason, baseball star Willie Mays — and his underwhelming final season in 1973 — is unfortunately the go-to example of someone great who holds on to a career too long. Author Stephen King, now 76 and the author of almost 80 novels and collections, is apparently nowhere close to his “Willie Mays moment.” “You Like It Darker” is a wonderful collection of mostly new material. The longer pieces — “Two Talented Bastids,” “Danny Coughlin’s Bad Dream” and “Rattlesnakes” — effortlessly hook the reader with empathetic real-world characters respectively facing stand-alone but life-changing experiences. The shorter efforts are more wide ranging, with King seeming to kick his imagination into overdrive just to see how far he can go and still kick his usual ass. The answer? There’s no “Willie Mays” moment on the horizon. King’s still in all-star form.

    — Rick Koster

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