208 Best Releases From the Genre Comedy

The Spool Staff

1- Title (Year) for Movies or 2- Title Season X for TV shows

StarringCarl Lumbly

Netflix’s action-comedy is deadly short on both. There’s something undeniably attractive about the premise of Obliterated. A highly skilled team of soldiers, spies, bomb experts, and tech geniuses stop on nuclear bomb detonation in the heart of Las Vegas and fully celebrate their victory. And by fully celebrate, we mean FULLY. Drugs, alcohol, exotic animals, hundreds of guests, plenty of sex toys, and so on. Then they wake in the morning to find their mission wasn’t as successful as they thought, and now they have no choice but to try and save the day in various stages of loaded and hungover. Continue Reading →

The Holdovers

After stumbling with Downsizing, Alexander Payne bounces back with a gentle & witty comedy-drama. The artist Dmitry Samarov one said to me that the ratio of good to bad late periods in an artist's life was depressing to consider. For every Sir Edward William Elgar there was an Eric Clapton (my example, not his), and that it was rare to see someone sharpen as they aged. Now, I like Dmitry and certainly respect his opinion, but I can’t help but feel that when film overtook painting as the dominant artwork that people engage with, the ratio shifted towards bizarre experimentation and welcome self-reflection as much as dull self reflection. Continue Reading →

Scott Pilgrim Takes Off

The ScienceSaru-produced animated series rebuilds rather than retells Bryan Lee O'Malley's beloved comic. Late in the final volume of Bryan Lee O'Malley's 2004-2010 comic series Scott Pilgrim (Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour), once the action's done and the hateful Gideon Graves has been slain, protagonists Scott Pilgrim and Ramona Flowers take a moment to process everything. Defeating Gideon meant facing not only the vicious misogynist swordsman but also their respective character flaws (It's telling that one of Scott's key moments is his realizing just how alike he and Gideon are, and by gaining that understanding, he affirms that, yeah, Gideon has so got to die). Continue Reading →


The Trolls movies continue to indulge in their best and worst impulses in a third installment. The poster for this past summer's R-rated comedy No Hard Feelings had a reasonably clever tagline to explain the strained dynamic between the film's two leads. Against an image of Jennifer Lawrence squeezing Andrew Barth Feldman's cheeks, a single word is placed on top of each person's face: "Pretty" and "Awkward." Nothing revolutionary in design, but it gets the job done. Best of all, that tagline also makes for an apt descriptor for Trolls Band Together. Continue Reading →

Austin Powers in Goldmember

An overview of the diverse features selected to screen at this year's Austin Film Festival. This piece was written during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike. Without the labor of the actors currently on strike, the work being covered here wouldn't exist. Continue Reading →

Inspector Sun y la maldición de la viuda negra

I love detective stories. Tales of how, as Sara Gran would say, "truth lives in the ether." Explorations of people and places and how they shape each other. The journey down the streets towards a hidden truth. Dennis Lehane's Darkness, Take My Hand, is my favorite book. Rian Johnson's Brick and Ben Affleck's Gone Baby Gone are movies I think the world of, never mind all-timers like Howard Hawks' The Big Sleep and Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye. And, of course, the immortal Who Framed Roger Rabbit? from Robert Zemeckis. Any time there's a new detective film, whether it be an affably bleak comedy or an action-driven character study, it's a treat. Continue Reading →



Local filmmakers, horror & desire are all given the spotlight at the Chicago International Film Festival's shorts program. This piece was written during the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike. Without the labor of the actors currently on strike, the work being covered here wouldn't exist. Continue Reading →

May December

In such films as Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, Velvet Goldmine and I’m Not There, filmmaker Todd Haynes has taken the stories of famous people and utilized what we know—or think we know—about them to explore ideas about celebrity and our all-consuming need to render their often-complex stories into straightforward narratives. That strange compulsion to explain, understand, and commodify the lives of real people is at the heart of his latest work, May December, and it certainly seems to have sparked something in him because the end result is the strongest work that he has done in quite some time.  Continue Reading →


With her first film, Promising Young Woman, writer-director Emerald Fennell took a storyline that was essentially a cloddish-but-glossy retread of such female-driven revenge sagas as Ms .45 and I Spit on Your Grave, infused it with insights regarding gender issues that would barely have passed muster in a 100-level college class and somehow rode it to inexplicable praise and an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Continue Reading →

Once Within a Time

When Godfrey Reggio’s monumental experimental documentary Koyannistqatsi (Life Out of Balance in Hopi) first entered the zeitgeist, its radical nature as a postmodern film, with a thoroughly entrancing score by Phillip Glass, became intertwined with the rise of MTV and a new era of visual aesthetic being born within the music sphere. From the noise rock band Cows to electronic musicians Dr. Atmo and Oliver Leib to superstar pop singer Madonna, the film had an indelible effect on music and the music video.  Continue Reading →

Dicks: The Musical

The audaciously titled Dicks: The Musical comes with an equally eye-catching tagline, boasting the honor of being “A24’s first musical.” That’s bound to intrigue cinephiles everywhere. After all, not every movie studio is trendy enough to regularly sell out of logo festooned merchandise. Or even make hipster merch in the first place.  Continue Reading →

Dream Scenario

At this point, you can roughly divide the output of Nicolas Cage into one of two categories. First, there are films so tailored to his reigning wild man of cinema persona that it seems unimaginable they could exist if he passed. In the other camp are the quieter efforts like The Weather Man, Joe, and Pig that remind of what a powerful actor he still can be. His latest project, writer-director Kristoffer Borgli’s Dream Scenario, combines both approaches into a single offering. The result is a strange and wildly audacious work anchored by a surprisingly deft and low-key turn from Cage that stands in marked contrast to the weirdness surrounding him. Continue Reading →

The Burial

Whenever a crowd pleasing movie hits theaters or streaming, people lament, “They don’t make ‘em like they used to.” Often, these people refer to middle-of-the-road movies from the 80s and 90s, the type of film that would play on cable television in the middle of a Sunday afternoon, something that people watch over and over again, simply because it makes them feel lighter. The Burial, the new courtroom drama from writer/director Maggie Betts, falls firmly into this category. It’s dad-fare, set in 1995 when it also likely would’ve had mainstream success in popular culture.  Continue Reading →

Dear David

Outside of Janicza Bravo’s Twitter thread turned feature film Zola, viral social engagements have rarely yielded great art. Nonetheless, Buzzfeed Studios wades into the fray with the horror film Dear David. Based on a series of Twitter threads from their former comic artist Adam Ellis, the story chronicles Ellis’s experiences with a possible supernatural presence in his New York apartment. That may seem like a fresh idea, but the film traffics in standard scary movie tropes, a stunted look, and an overreliance on the concept.   Continue Reading →


Do we need another live-action Goosebumps adaptation? After a ’90s Fox Kids series and a pair of 2010s films, one would assume that the ground of turning Slappy the dummy and other frightening beings into flesh-and-blood creations has been well-trodden.  Continue Reading →

Our Flag Means Death

It’s always the surprise hit quirky shows with the most to live up to in their second season. A bad sophomore outing, especially after quickly gaining a cult following, could make or break, say, the plucky little pirate romance known as Our Flag Means Death Season 2. Luckily, David Jenkins, Taika Waititi, et al. keep things fresh and fun without reinventing (or stealing) the wheel.  Continue Reading →

Everything Now

As the TV series Everything Now begins, Mia (Sophie Wilde) is eager for freedom. After spending months in a hospital undergoing treatment for her anorexia, her supervisor, Dr. Nell (Stephen Fry), has decided she’s well enough to return to school with her best friends Becca (Lauryn Ajufo), Cam (Harry Cadby), and Will (Noah Thomas). Cooped up inside for what seemed like an eternity, Mia is bursting with enthusiasm about finally undergoing many teenage rites of passage like first dates and big parties. Continue Reading →


When Frasier premiered in the fall of 1993 it had massive shoes to fill. That's probably an understatement. Its parent show, Cheers, was a critical and commercial monster in a way that can only happen when there are only three shows for two hundred million people to choose from. It was nominated for almost two hundred Emmys over the course of its eleven-year run, and its series finale aired to 90 million people (40% of the country’s then population) three months before Frasier’s start. So yeah, expectations were pretty high, and Frasier ended up pretty much meeting them all. While never as popular as Cheers (nothing has been as popular as Cheers since Cheers), it was nevertheless a solid commercial hit that carved out its own identity and won more Emmys than its parent show over the course of its own eleven-year run. A lot of that success was rooted in Frasier’s ability as its own, independent show with its own characters and rhythms instead of being Cheers 2.0.   Continue Reading →

Case History of a Sales Meeting

No 21st-century filmmaker has a more accurate and forceful finger on the pulse of global political thought trends than Radu Jude. His movies brim with a completely black-pilled attitude towards his own country’s political and social state amid the populace and an affinity for using social media obsession as a cipher in his cinema. In his latest, he comes out firing in an ironic and didactic rampage unseen since Jean-Luc Godard’s La chinoise (1967). Both film and digital collide in the characteristically wry and unambiguously titled Do Not Expect Too Much of the End of the World.   Continue Reading →

Totally Killer

The low-budget confines of Blumhouse movies mean that any idea can become a movie, including bold original visions like Whiplash or Get Out. Unfortunately, it also means a lot of subpar stuff can easily get the green light. The latest example is the new Amazon/Blumhouse collaboration, Totally Killer. Hailing from director Nahnatchka Khan, Totally Killer dares to ask a question no reasonable soul was pondering. “What if Happy Death Day and Hot Tub Time Machine had a tedious baby?” Buckle up, horror devotees. Here comes yet another dose of 1980s nostalgia and some frighteningly lousy editing. Continue Reading →

Killer Joe

Upon the news of the passing of William Friedkin, every headline reporting on the news focused on two films. It’s not surprising that the media spent so much time talking about The French Connection and The Exorcist, two bona fide masterpieces that paved the way for a new era of American filmmaking. What was disappointing was this seeming willingness to reduce a cinematic legend’s legacy to a burst of time in the early 1970s, thus dismissing the five decades that followed as either negligible or outright unworthy of interest.  Continue Reading →