Vice Principals: when a school principal retires and the vice principals are passed over for a promotion they form an unlikely tag team to take their new boss down. Not unlike most Danny McBride projects, the humour in VPs is an acquired taste: it’s stupid and lowest-common denominator stuff, but I’m a fan of the funny to watch the crass swearing, childish squabbling, stereotypes, silly faces etc… McBride’s pretty much been here before in Eastbound and Down with his faded baseball star going back to school to teach; his latest character Neal Gamby is essentially an older, and slightly more filtered/censored Kenny Powers. Goggins on the other hand turns in an against-type effeminate role, that requires a lot of eye rolling, sucking up, and mincing around in pink clothes. Both leads are great at what they do and the core supporting cast notes (Gregory / Whigham / King / Love – GO SCOTLAND! / Patterson) all hit the right comedy notes. The show mostly cruises along, with scenarios that lead to silly and cringe comedy, but there’s a few curveballs in here with surreal moments, weird filming techniques, and the finale feels a little too bizarre and doesn’t fit in with the rest of the show. Vice Principals will go down best with fans of McBride’s trademark style, and he’s firmly in his comfort zone… for regular viewers it may be stray a little too far into crass and unacceptable territory.
In the Electric Mist (Dans la brume électrique): a New Orleans detective is trying to link the murdering of local prostitutes with a 1965 lynching and corrupt local businessmen. So you’re sitting there thinking this is a normal(-ish) police investigation then 40 minutes in BAM! Our lead is taking advice from – and having conversations with – a Confederate soldier ghost… WTF?? For a sleepy town there’s also a whole lotta murdering happening with very little law intervention. Tommy Lee Jones plays the lead pretty well, but as a grouchy, craggy, snarly, old-school detective – it’s nothing we haven’t seen already. By the time the final act rolls round there’s almost too much going on; new murders, old murders, suspicious movie set, troubled film stars, conspiracies, kidnapping. The confusion is compounded by almost everyone having a comically hillbilly name, and some fairly hooky narration. In the end ‘Electric Mist’ is watchable enough, but completely unremarkable, flat, and has a look and ‘vibe’ of a film that could be 20 years older than it is. Ultimately, it’s a pretty big waste of an impressive cast.
638 Ways to Kill Castro: Documentary about some of the attempts – and alleged attempts – by various agencies and radical groups to kill Cuba’s charismatic leader. TNT filled sea-shells, exploding cigars, poisoned wetsuits, Mafia hits… it all sounds rather exciting, but after a jovial opening 10 minutes or so the documentary switches focus to a couple of right-wing ‘Terrorist’ factions, and shows how America hold double standards in the old Terrorist Vs Freedom Fighter debate… pretty deep, man. You end up spending more time than you’d want to with a couple of old guys regaling how they came **“this close”** to pulling it off, but there’s not a shred of evidence to prove that it isn’t all nonsense. More focus on the full list, or some detailed commentary on the where/how/why would have been more interesting; instead you get a bunch of American foreign policy bashing. The Doc was made for TV, and it doesn’t aim any higher: it’s all very low budget, feels unfocused and ill-disciplined, and is a bit too one-sided. Even worse, there’s not even that much footage of the titular Castro! Despite it’s sassy title, and a promising opening this is all just a bit dull considering the sensational subject matter.