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Just Rankin’ Sh!t

‘It’s Friday; you ain’t got no job… you ain’t got shit to do’

Photo Illustration: Save As/Medium; Source: New Line Cinema via Amazon Prime Video

We knew this short-lived MTV2 toon would be weird when we realized John DiMaggio — the voice of Futurama’s Bender — would attempt to channel the greatness of John Witherspoon’s Pops. What we didn’t anticipate was Smokey’s character looking like dude from ToeJam & Earl. Friday has never felt so fugazi.

Ranking this sequel so low should be as illegal as the cash stuffed in Joker’s hydraulic pump. Sure, Chris Tucker’s absence is felt in this follow-up set in the suburbs, but Mike Epps seamlessly fills the void as Day Day. Damn near every moment he’s on screen is hysterical…


The ‘Bad Trip’ duo talk chemistry, almost dying on set, and the magic of Tiffany Haddish

“Bad Trip.” Photo: Netflix

“First of all, are you safe? It looks like somebody kidnapped you.”

Lil Rel Howery has just beaten me to the punch. Not to be outdone, Eric Andre quickly follows up with, “Blink twice if you’re in a hostage situation.”

We’re about 20 seconds into our conversation and we’re already laughing. I’ve forgotten the questions I’d prepared, let alone their sequence. But the laid-back air and laughter also confirm a suspicion I’ve had since watching the duo’s new film: These two have genuine chemistry.

That chemistry is the driving force behind Bad Trip, which lands on Netflix on March 26…


Just Rankin’ Sh!t

To number one — and beyond!

Characters from Toy Story.
Characters from Toy Story.
Photo Illustration: Save As/Medium; Source: Pixar via Disney+

They’re always great, but the various Pixar shorts and half-hour TV specials from the Toy Story franchise are largely interchangeable and never quite as satisfying as the movies. These are good for occasional play but ultimately remain at the bottom of the toy box.

The fourth movie in a franchise like this doesn’t have any business being as solidly entertaining as this one does, but the addition of dynamic new characters (Tony Hale’s Forky, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele’s sublime Ducky and Bunny) and a tear-jerking send-off to Woody elevates a saggy middle and a creeping case of hijinks fatigue.


Just Rankin’ Sh!t

Do the funky Charleston!

Photo Illustration: Save As/Medium; Source: Getty Images

Listen, Hollywood: “Take the plot from the original but make it trash” has never worked. There’s no redeeming quality here, but at least give the producers some claps for having Kid ’n Play make a special appearance. In summary: The party’s over.

The key art tells you all you need to know. Kid ’n Play weren’t part of the film, and IMx (formerly Immature) got star billing. Group lead Jon Jon (Marques Houston), housesitting for his rich uncle, only has two jobs: Don’t have a party (in a film called House Party), and don’t put the keys in the ignition…


Just Rankin’ Sh!t

Can you smell what The Rock is cooking?

Photo: James Devaney/Getty Images

If there’s one role Dwayne Johnson was born to play, it’s a CIA agent who can kill 12 people with a mechanical pencil. Central Intelligence gave The Rock (as Bob Stone) an extra layer of character development by making him wildly insecure, looking up to Kevin Hart of all people. This is like True Lies and Twins all rolled up into one movie.

While The Scorpion King showed that Johnson could be a box-office action hero, The Rundown proved that he could play comedy and charisma as well as any movie star around. Don’t sleep on this one, jabroni.

From…


Eddie Huang discusses his directorial debut, and what it was like working with the late Pop Smoke

Eddie Huang at The Vulture Spot on January 27, 2020 in Park City, Utah. Photo: Phillip Faraone/Getty Images

For the past decade, Eddie Huang has maneuvered with the passion of a mixtape rapper. Whether through memoir or food, the author-chef-restaurateur-producer-host-attorney used that mentality to produce generation-defining projects that highlight his experiences as the first-generation son of Taiwanese immigrants. And now, he can add “film director” to the list.

Huang is less than a month away from the release of Boogie, his directorial debut. It tells the story of Alfred “Boogie” Chin (played by actor and former yakitori chef Taylor Takahashi), a basketball player living in Queens who dreams of NBA stardom. …


Welcome to Minority Report, a weekly newsletter from the LEVEL team that packs an entire week into a single email. From the future of Black biopics to the week in racism, from pop-culture picks to a must-read LEVEL story, it’s everything you need and nothing you don’t. If you’re loving what you’re reading, tell a friend to tell a friend.

Over the weekend, after watching Judas And The Black Messiah, New Yorker writer Jelani Cobb came under Twitter fire for hoping aloud that Assata Shakur gets a biopic at some point in the future. While the tweet seemed to come…


Hampton’s story, even in the abbreviated form that ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ provides, is too important not to tell

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Inc

My Blackness came to me while I was a student at Ohio State University.

To be clear, I always knew I was Black. My mother, who grew up silt-poor in the mud hills of Nelsonville, Ohio, made sure all of her sons knew we were Black. Not knowing was akin to signing your name to a suicide note. But I did not know its properties, the alchemy of its historical bonds in reaction to my daily life. I only knew its consequences. I was aware of the American problems that pursued my Blackness but could not see the joy that…


Photo: Micaiah Carter/August

The LEVEL Man at 30

As he heads towards his thirties, the electrifying actor is laying himself bare — and finding a new sense of balance

For nearly a decade, LaKeith Stanfield has used his screen time reveling in the bizarreness of America’s racial consciousness. Whether Atlanta’s quippy street mystic Darius, or the code-switching sardonics of Cassius in Sorry to Bother You, his characters have always seemed to be in on the joke — and in his latest, Judas and the Black Messiah, Stanfield is closer to the secret than ever before.

Shaka King’s film, which chronicles the final days of Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) through the sullen eyes of FBI informant William O’Neal (Stanfield), finds the actor in his darkest, most…


Just Rankin’ Sh!t

More like Xavier’s Franchise for Disappointing Films, amirite?

Source: X-Men: Days of Future Past/20th Century Fox/Hulu

This was the pinnacle of comic book movies upon its release, yet the Marvel flicks that have dropped in its wake have shown the genre’s true upper limits. In contrast (and in hindsight), this Fox production doesn’t hold up, for reasons including but not limited to Storm’s cheesy send-off for Toad.

This is one of the most beloved X-Men movies of the entire series, but we just can’t get over one scene. You know the one: That moment when Kevin Bacon explained racism to Darwin, a BLACK MAN LIVING DURING THE ’60s. Then the bad guys killed Darwin even though…

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