BFG Podcast #088: ‘The Last of Us,’ ‘Velma,’ ‘House Party,’ and ‘A Man Called Otto’

Our team of critics breaks down the culture

BFG Editor-in-chief Neal Pollack rounds up the best culture critics in the world once again for this week’s show. Let’s start with Omar Gallaga, talking about ‘The Last of Us.’ Neal doesn’t play many video games and is afraid of zombies and hates apocalypses. Omar has no such aversions, and ‘The Last of Us,’ which broke video-game fans’ hearts, appears to be ready to do the same in the excellent HBO adaptation. Omar reserves praise for Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey, who play the series leads, and likes the clever intro that explains the fungus outbreak that threatens humanity. High marks from us, but not the last of us.

Low marks, however, for another HBO Max product, Mindy Kaling’s obnoxious ‘Velma,’ a Scooby-Doo cartoon without Scooby-Doo. The show is relentlessly bitter, mean, unpleasant, and unfunny, a legendary disaster that everyone hates, including our critic, Paula Shaffer, a “contrarian” by nature who “really wanted to like it.” The right hates it because it’s too “woke,” the left hates it because it’s “turning people into Republicans,” and we just hate it because it’s not charming or funny.

Stephen Garrett makes his appearance to talk about the ‘House Party’ reboot. Stephen has seen the original ‘House Party’ a dozen times, and loves its charming innocence and depiction of a still-underdog hip-hop culture. For the reboot, he does enjoy Kid Cudi’s wacky supporting role as himself, but the movie feels very corporate and cynical, much like LeBron James, the King, himself.

Then Stephen listens to Neal review ‘A Man Called Otto,’ a family-friendly or at least grandma-friendly two-tissue weeper about a grumpy old man who finds meaning late in life despite carrying around a massive duffel bag of disappointment and grief. Is there anything Tom Hanks can’t do? A Man Called Otto isn’t really ‘good,’ but people love it anyway, so we need to pay attention.

Enjoy the show!

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