Looking for your next binge-worthy series or film to add to your streaming queue? Check back with Village Life every Friday for Jordan Parker's comprehensive insights on the week's most buzz-worthy programs from top streaming services like Netflix, Crave, Amazon Prime, and beyond.
On Netflix – Leo
In one of the largest delights of the year, Adam Sandler manages to delight audiences once again with a rousing animated feature.
He plays a 74-year-old lizard named Leo who – upon realizing his species only last until 75 or so – attempts to break free from the terrarium he lives in at Florida school classroom and see the world.
Leo finds comfort in the weekly assignment new teacher Ms. Malkin thrusts upon students, having them take turns bringing home Leo or his turtle friend Squirtle each week to teach them responsibility. But the talking lizard soon begins giving the students advice and helping them, finally giving him the sense he’s making a difference.
The voice cast is so fun, and includes Sandler, Bill Burr, Cecily Strong, Jason Alexander, Rob Schneider, and Jo Koy. They all relish in their roles, which makes this a joy to watch.
Leo is a hilarious, playful and touching entry into the animation genre and marks another huge win for Sandler over at Netflix.
On Amazon Prime Video – Candy Cane Lane
I can’t tell you Candy Cane Lane is objectively a good film, but if you need to get in the holiday spirit with a new family affair, it sure will do the trick.
When Chris Carver is laid off just before Christmas, he turns his full sights to his neighbourhood’s annual Christmas decorating contest, which comes with a $100,000 prize for the winner.
But when he enlists the help of an elf to win, little does he know that he’s actually bringing the 12 days of Christmas to life, and putting himself in the elf’s crosshairs. The evil Pepper will turn Chris into a decoration if he doesn’t fulfill his contract to-the-letter.
Writer Kelly Younger creates a pretty formulaic script, but the charms of star Eddie Murphy keep this one afloat. Other stars Tracee Ellis Ross, Jillian Bell, Nick Offerman, Ken Marino, and young actors Madison Thomas and Thaddeus J. Mixson keep this one humming along.
With some decent special effects and some real spirit, it’s a film that’ll tide you over between classics.
On Paramount+ -- At Midnight
I’m a romantic comedy lover, so mileage may vary on this one. But I absolutely adored this little romp, and found it to be a whole lot of fun.
It follows Sophie, a big-budget action film actress who swears off love when she catches boyfriend and co-star Adam cheating on her. Forced to a remote locale, she has to continue to work with him on a sequel and keep up appearances for the press.
Enter Alejandro, a hotel manager with high ambitions who is tasked with keeping Sophie happy during her stay. Both bitter and not in the mood for romance, the two are drawn to each other nonetheless.
Diego Boneta and Monica Barbaro have wonderful chemistry, and they both make entertaining leads. With an enjoyable supporting cast including Anders Holm, Jon Rudnitsky,[ and Whitney Cummings, it looks like everyone is having a great time here.
Co-writer and director Jonah Feingold knows he’s making a relaxing, easy, breezy film, and he hits the right notes to make this one a great diversion.
On Crave – Joy Ride
This is one of the absolute funniest movies of the year, and the theatre was filled with uproarious laughter the whole run-time.
It’s about four Asian-American friends who travel to China in search of one of their birth mothers. During the trip, they learn about each other and their relationships, as well as how they interact with their culture.
It’s a really beautiful portrait of friendship and a raunchy, no-holds-barred endeavour from director Adele Lim.
Stars Ashley Park, Sherry Cola, and Oscar-nominee Stephanie Hsu all give phenomenal turns. But this film belongs to Sabrina Wu, who is by far the weirdest and most entertaining of the four.
The level of heart that this quartet brings to the screen makes this one worth taking a look alone, and I loved this effort.
On Disney+ -- A Murder At The End Of The World
This brand-new Hulu show caught me by surprise, and I haven’t been able to stop watching since it premiered last month.
A young-adult-style show, it follows Gen Z hacker and sleuth Darby Hart, who attempts to solve the murder of her former lover at a secluded retreat.
Told partially in flashbacks – chronicling their relationship – the show mixes past and present to explain the motivations and traumas of our characters.
Created by series co-star Brit Marling, it’s a great new mystery for anyone missing her previous show, the cancelled Netflix cult hit The OA.
Emma Corrin, the fabulous Harris Dickinson, Alice Braga, and Clive Owen lend their considerable talents here, and elevate the script with their very presence.
It’s smart, interesting and endlessly watchable. If you need something to binge this holiday season, this is a fantastic choice.
About The Author:
Jordan Parker is a freelance journalist and runs entertainment firm Parker PR. A huge lover and supporter of the local arts scene, he’s an avid filmgoer and lover of all genres.
A 2SLGBTQIA+ professional, he also works doing Events & Fundraising for the AIDS Coalition of Nova Scotia and has a passion for giving a platform to queer events and artists.
His writing often skews toward local businesses, productions, events, and covering arts & entertainment. He’s also an avid sports fan and spends every May getting let down by the Maple Leafs in the first round of the playoffs.
Jordan believes in an open-door policy and welcomes story pitches and questions from readers.
Email: [email protected]