The Mummy (2017)

[3.0 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

I have about the same reaction as reviewers: eh, fine. And-don't tell Pun Son, with whom I attended—I fell asleep during the early part of the movie. That's never a good sign of movie quality.

Tom Cruise plays two-fisted soldier of fortune Nick "Nick" Morton. He is unfortunately around when the tomb of an evil ancient Egyptian princess is disturbed, and her aura (or something) infects him with a curse. He is destined to help her plans for world domination (or something), and frankly, it looks pretty bad for the good guys here. Nick would prefer to not be cursed, and in this effort he is assisted by the gorgeous Jenny, an archeologist secretly working for… Dr. Henry Jekyll. Who has, as you probably know, monstrous issues of his own.

The special effects are fine, especially a plane crash that you might have seen in the trailers. There are some laughs, too. (Pun Son doesn't like humor in his monster movies, but I'm OK with it.)

This movie is allegedly part of Universal Studio's plan to reboot its stable of monster flicks. Next up, according to today's WSJ is Bride of Frankenstein, due in 2019 with Javier Bardem as the Monster. This, despite disappointing box office results.

The Meddler

[3.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

A good example of how you can make a movie watchable by flooding the zone with excellent acting talent. The actors here I've heard of: Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne, J.K. Simmons, Cecily Strong, Michael McKean, Jason Ritter, Casey Wilson. And in minor blink-and-you'll-miss-em roles: Robert Picardo, Harry Hamlin, Laura San Giacomo, Bill Fagerbakke, Randall Park. They didn't skimp on the payroll here, and it shows. Everybody else is good too, but it's an unusual movie where I recognize so many of the actors.

Ms. Sarandon plays Marnie, mother to Lori (Ms. Byrne). Lori's in the divorce process, and she's pretty broken up about it. Marnie doesn't help much; the main problem is she's widowed, and that Lori's now her sole focus, and Marnie's looming ever-presence makes Lori realize that there's not much going on in her life otherwise.

Lori's in the TV biz (by the way), and her job requires her presence in New York. (It's not clear if it's a requirement, or just a convenient excuse to escape.) So Marnie makes do: she happens on a movie set and gets accidentally hired as a walk-on (where she meets divorced ex-cop "Zipper", J. K. Simmons' role); she offers to finance Cecily Strong's fancy lesbian wedding; she drives her Apple Store guru, Freddy, to his community college classes. Hilarity ensues.

It's kind of a chick flick, but it doesn't take itself seriously, and it pinballs from one charming low-cliché scene to another. It won no awards, but if you're looking for a decent popcorn movie….

Last Modified 2017-07-02 3:35 PM EST

URLs du Jour


■ I made a mistake yesterday in only providing the first verse of a two-verse Proverb. As it turns out, adding the second verse changes the tone. Let's see Proverbs 25:21-22:

21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat;
    if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.
22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head,
    and the Lord will reward you.

Yes, those burning coals add more of that Old Testament flavor to the proverb. And, as a bonus, the Lord will cheer from the sidelines at your successful passive-aggressiveness.

■ Andrew Klavan, truthbringer: Corruption and Collusion: Obama, Comey, and the Press

It now seems clear that Barack Obama was a corrupt machine politician in the worst Chicago mold. He used the IRS to silence his enemies, and the Justice Department to protect his friends. His two major "achievements" — a health care law that doesn't work and a deal that increased the power and prestige of the terrorist state of Iran — were built on lies to the public and manipulation of the press. And that's according to his own allies! Only the leftist bias and racial pathology of the media kept his administration from being destroyed by scandal, as it surely would have been had he been a white Republican.

Readest thou the Thing in its Entirety.

■ Thomas Winslow Hazlett has been writing on various aspects of telecom policy for decades, and he's got a new book out. Excerpt at Reason: We Could Have Had Cellphones Four Decades Earlier

The basic idea of the cellphone was introduced to the public in 1945—not in Popular Mechanics or Science, but in the down-home Saturday Evening Post. Millions of citizens would soon be using "handie-talkies," declared J.K. Jett, the head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Licenses would have to be issued, but that process "won't be difficult." The revolutionary technology, Jett promised in the story, would be formulated within months.

But permission to deploy it would not. The government would not allocate spectrum to realize the engineers' vision of "cellular radio" until 1982, and licenses authorizing the service would not be fully distributed for another seven years. That's one heck of a bureaucratic delay.

How many times do I have to say it? (And how many times will you have to read it?) Abolish the FCC.

■ KDW@NR writes on Trump’s Credibility Problem. No, it's not the Worlds Longest Book, KDW admirably restricts himself to a column-size summary. Specifically, how do go about investigating the various charges against the Donald?

It is impossible to get at that in a meaningful way without considering the unsettling question: What sort of man is the president of these United States? We know he is a habitual liar, one who tells obvious lies for no apparent reason, from claiming to own hotels that he does not own to boasting about having a romantic relationship with Carla Bruni, which never happened. (“Trump is obviously a lunatic,” Bruni explained.) He invented a series of imaginary friends to lie to the New York press about both his business and sexual careers. He has conducted both his private and public lives with consistent dishonesty and dishonor. He is not a man who can be taken at his word.

Conclusion: "The question isn’t whether the president is a crook. The question is: What kind of crook is he?"

[I can only imagine how Trump might answer: "I am the best kind of crook. Nobody crooks better than me. I will crook so much, so hard, so fast, that you may get bored with all the crookery."]

■ For some reason, every so often, I get mail from people who clearly want to mail someone else: from a Cadillac dealer in Bentonville, Arkansas; from a high-end Merrill Lynch investment advisor in Bethesda, Maryland (who said he "enjoyed the conversation" we [didn't] have earlier in the day); an order confirmation from Orvis to a customer in Glen, Montana.

And then there's Marion F. from (it appears) Deer Isle, Maine. She writes to about a half dozen of her friends (and me) with the Subject "Administration’s Full 2018 Budget Ends Eight Decades of Bipartisan Presidential Support for National Service Programs - Voices for National Service". What's the deal, Marion?

The Trump budget which was proposed a few days ago includes ZERO funding for Senior Corps which for us means no more Bone Builders.

Oh noes! No more Bone Builders!?

Marion urges her friends to click the link she provides to the "Voices for Service" website, which (in turn) allows canned robo-mail to be sent to the clicker's Congresscritters, urging them to keep the taxpayer money flowing to the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

Coincidentally, I noted this David Boaz post at Cato, whose headline asks the tongue-in-cheek question: What Do the Subsidy Recipients Think about Cutting Subsidies?

A $4 trillion annual budget is about $12,500 for every man, woman, and child in the United States. If the budget could be cut by, say, $1 trillion — taking it back to the 2008 level — how much good could that money do in the hands of families and businesses? How many jobs could be created? How many families could afford a new car, a better school, a down payment on a home? Reporters should ask those questions when they ask subsidy recipients, How do you feel about losing your subsidy?

The CNCS yearly budget is currently slightly north of a billion dollars. The people who deride "trickle down economics" don't seem to mind it when it trickles down to a senior fitness program in Stonington, Maine.

Diving In

[Amazon Link]

[This "review" also published at Amazon at the author's request.]

I know the person behind the "M. Bleekis" pseudonym, and I confess I was expecting a globetrotting thriller involving nuclear proliferation with a two-fisted but brainy hero, something in the style of Lee Child or Tom Clancy.

As it turns out, I got some of that, but... things start out different. The protagonist, Ariel, is a troubled young lady. Her once-promising academic performance has inexplicably gone into the toilet. She once showed phenomenal athletic talent in diving, but suddenly gave it up. She cries a lot. At the urging of a friendly therapist, she enrolls at "Lily Academy", an all-girl boarding school up in the Great North Woods near Jackson, NH.

Just when you think: "this is like an all-girl version of Harry Potter, except no magic, and more Latin verb conjugation" it turns out that one of Ariel's classmates is a member of a family under Witness Protection. And there are bad guys who desperately want to use her as leverage. So, over and above Ariel's problems, there's a lot of nasty skulduggery and (eventually) violence.

And a hungry, irritable, bear. And a secret society of women (you'll note that this book is "Secret Sisters Volume 1"). A sly reference to the 60's British singing duo Chad and Jeremy. And more.

The book is self-published and there are some noticeable typos: e.g., one character's name is sometimes "Kincaid", other times "Kinkaid". And there's some confusion between "discreet" and "discrete". This didn't stop the pages from turning.