Scott Vrooman is a comedy writer for television, radio and the web. You can find his work at scottvrooman.org and follow him on Twitter @mescottvrooman.
2017 was a year so extraordinary that watching the day’s news often felt like a cinematic experience. In that spirit, here’s a look back on the events of a remarkable year through the most appropriate lens we could think of: movie reviews.
The Donald Trump Presidency
This dystopian political satire deftly balanced over-the-top comedic performances with terrifying glimpses of a dark future. A truly original work of fiction, its upside-down world of “alternative facts” and ghoulish cast of characters felt like a twisted, live-action cartoon. Regrettably, the plot was so overstuffed with subplots and villains that even though the runtime technically came in at just under a year, it left me feeling as though I had aged centuries.
The Charlottesville Rally
A fourth-rate Triumph of the Will, this tepid 1930s rehash had all of the ignorance and hate of the original with none of the style. Its derivative script and clumsy appeals to nostalgia were nearly as cringe-worthy as the costumes. Those polo shirts and tiki torches were less “master race” than “suburban luau.”
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No expense was spared in this multi-billion-dollar disaster epic, with effects so realistic that many reported feeling as though climate change was literally destroying their home/city/country/species. The relentless tragedy was overwhelming at times, but a third-act California wildfire engulfing climate-change denier Rupert Murdoch’s mansion provided some welcome comic relief. While the future of this saga promises to be loaded with gripping action and searing drama, all signs point to an extremely unsatisfying ending.
The #MeToo Movement
A razor-sharp sendup of Hollywood norms, its nearly all-female cast was a breath of fresh air. Based on real (yes, real) events, it overflowed with haunting imagery (I’m still trying to get Matt Lauer’s genitals out of my head). Harvey Weinstein’s masterful performance as an unrepentant monster would be Oscar-worthy if he wasn’t banned from the Oscars forever.
A tedious slog that didn’t measure up to the Sun’s earlier work.
The North Korean Stand-off
An action-comedy packed with high-octane fun and hilarious characters, it kept fans of the “Oh my god we’re all going to die!” genre on the edge of their seats. While the bowel-loosening suspense made for compelling viewing, the production visibly suffered from budget limitations, specifically in the hair and wardrobe department. Still, its most popular catchphrase—“Dotard!”—is destined to live on for years, presuming humanity isn’t soon incinerated in nuclear hellfire.
An all-star ensemble cast was wasted on this grim spectacle. Clumsy Oscar-death-reel bait.
While the story had enough to satisfy die-hard fans, the giant plot hole of inequality was a major distraction. Bloated on past success, it seemed content to coast on the usual gimmicks and storylines (let me guess… the banks did very well). But the expressions of sympathy for the poor were sometimes well-acted, and the “Paradise papers” subplot was a satisfying twist with delightful cameos by Bono and Queen Elizabeth II. As mainstream interest in the franchise wanes, tone-deaf gaffes like the Kylie Jenner Pepsi ad will ensure that its cult following among irony-loving millennials continues to grow.
Prince Harry’s Royal Engagement to Meghan Markle
A lazy period piece that inexplicably delighted audiences worldwide.
The Middle East
Another devastating chapter filled with chaotic action and a confusing plot. While the victory against ISIS in Iraq was an audience pleaser, the ongoing destruction of Yemen garnered little interest outside weapons manufacturing circles. Saudi Arabia was once again horribly miscast as the region’s “moderate reformer,” with a laughably unconvincing performance.
This breezy, low-budget romp got off to a slow start, with Justin Trudeau’s reversal on electoral reform causing several moviegoers to leave the theatre in disgust. New leads Jagmeet Singh and Andrew Scheer did their best to charm, but the incomprehensible Gerry Ritz character (a.k.a. Ger Ger Binks) and his brainless “Climate Barbie” and “Sharia law” slapstick landed with a thud. With rumours of a Jason Kenney reboot next year, the future of the franchise looks bleak. But a last-minute plot twist involving a private-island getaway with a wealthy guru holds some promise for future intrigue.
Dad Gives Interview to BBC As Child Interrupts
An inspired vaudevillian masterpiece.
The legalization of same-sex marriage in Taiwan and Australia, along with many other legislative wins around the globe, was a treat for fans of this charming romantic franchise. As usual, the evangelicals played their role of cold-hearted adversary with fierce commitment, making their inevitable comeuppance all the more enjoyable.
This classic sci-fi popcorn thriller left the audience hanging with a series of cliffhangers: Will automation steal our jobs? Will computers control our minds? Will autonomous killer robots murder us next year, or shortly thereafter? Eagerly anticipating/dreading where this one goes next.
Embracing an unusual format, the story was presented from the point of view of two different protagonists, each one isolated inside their own echo chamber, spending their days working themselves into frenzies of outrage and back-patting, and never once meeting face-to-face. Interesting idea, but kind of annoying to watch.