A&E » Film

Don't read this while you eat



Reader discretion: this review might make you puke.

But unless it makes you puke into a toilet bowl of your own diarrhea, you're getting off easier than I did last weekend — summer flu season has arrived apparently.

Of course, one of the best things (the only one) about laying around sweating, shivering and shitting water for 96 hours is being able to catch up on your binge-TV watching and the flavour of the month is Stranger Things, a new Netflix horror-thriller that's actually pretty kick-ass.

From the title font (a classic called ITC Benguiat that was used on the old copyright notices at the start of VHS tapes), to the synth soundtrack, to the casting of Winona Ryder, Stranger Things is, first and foremost, a love letter to the '80s. This is a series for those of us who grew up reading Stephen King books under the blankets and couldn't imagine anyone ever making a better movie than The Lost Boys.

If you remember what it feels like to stare at a wall of VHS tapes, Stranger Things has a lot to offer.

It's also a pretty great adventure drama about three kids searching for a lost friend while protecting a new one. There are sci-fi elements and horror bits and very real-feeling storylines about the tenacity of a mother pushed to the edge, the redemption of a small town sheriff in a corrupt world and, of course, the upheaval (and heavy petting) of teenage love.

And Stranger Things pulls it all off thanks to consistent world-building and relatable characters who actually care about each other, even as everything around them goes to shit.

One of the nice things about having seven-plus hours of storytime to play with is every character is given a decent arc — this is why TV is slaying theatrical films right now. The cherry on top is the show's killer mix of real, physical special effects and some pure imagination from creators Matt and Ross Duffer. There is CGI, but it's used sparingly.

Certainly, it's not perfect (although young actress Millie Bobby Brown is) and you have to buy into the rules of the Duffer world early on, but if Stand-By-Me-meets-Poltergeist sounds like something you'd pull off the shelf, Stranger Things is the medicine for what ails you.

On the big screen, Jason Bourne opens this week at the air-conditioned Village 8 Theatres, and for this one Matt Damon is back where he belongs — breaking arms and taking numbers. Can this franchise get away with yet another instalment of rooftop chases and "you don't know as much as you think you know, Jason Bourne"? Of course they can.

Director Paul Greengrass is also back so despite a contemporary cyber-espionage plotline this one is more kick-to-the-throat than cloak and dagger. Hung on a premise of computer hacking, conspiracy and Tommy Lee Jones and Alicia Vikander as CIA operatives, Jason Bourne also sees Julia Stiles returning as the dashing right-hand girl. It feels a bit like a "best of" compilation but when you're talking Bourne, the greatest hits are good enough.

The only other flick opening this week is Bad Moms starring Mila Kunis, Kristen Bell and Kathryn Hahn in a mom-comedy (written by dudes) where the frazzled-fed-up-moms battle with the anal, bitchy competitive moms. And there are no other kinds of moms (there are whippets though!).

With no pre-screeners and a trailer that stinks worse than sun-festering sea otter shit (which is the worst because they eat a lot of seafood), Bad Moms looks like a bad time. For sure, the parenting world is full of gloating and judgment these days but I suspect the real moms out there will see through the clichés and wish they'd went to that bookclub where they ride bikes from house to house and drink wine and never get around to talking about the books.

Stay healthy friends, wash your hands and flush frequently.