Shannon Penrod Reviews "Elvis," "Locke & Key," and "Extraordinary Attorney Woo"

Updated: Sep 11


Elvis B- On Demand


Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to get bumpy! I love Elvis, Baz Luhrmann, and Tom Hanks…so what could go wrong? Oye! Where do I start? No one can ever accuse Baz Luhrmann of undertelling a story so it’s no surprise he couldn’t help himself here. His goal appears to be to make us all car sick with wild camera swings and hairpin story turns. It worked. I just wanted to see Austin Butler play Elvis, but Luhrmann’s carnival ride story telling only takes us away from who we hoped was the protagonist. Spoiler ALERT: Even though the name of the film is Elvis, its all a lie. Our lead character is Colonel Parker and it’s a hit piece with a very unreliable narrator. Hanks plays Parker as if his inspirations were John Lovitz and Danny DeVito’s Penguin character in Batman. His accent is ALL over the map and occasionally he reverts to playing Mr. White from That Thing You Do! (GREAT movie, BTW) There is not enough prosthetic make-up in the world to save Hank’s performance, although the make-up department gave it a college try. It’s okay we still love you Tom! We don’t expect all your movies to be winners.

Austin Butler, on the other hand. does a pretty damn good Elvis, although I wish he’d done the signature snarl smile more. He had the hips though and that’s saying a lot. We have been told repeatedly that Butler also sang the songs in the movie which is impressive, if true. I can only direct you to watch the credits closely. Butler is credited with singing a few songs, but there are many more songs credited as being sung by Elvis Presley. I will leave it to you to interpret that.

It is a movie worth seeing. You will enjoy cringing at Hank’s accent, you will delight in Butler’s portrayal and there is some truly skilled editing. Watch closely, Baz is pretty clever. But don’t expect a spiritual experience: you will be disappointed.

Locke & Key Season 3 A Netflix


Season 3, gulp, is the final chapter in the Locke & Key series. They clearly went out with a bang, because season 3 is its best season by a cool mile. Maybe we are more familiar with storyline, perhaps it is the pulse pounding through line that comes to a head…maybe it is seeing the delightful Coby Bird get more screentime as Rufus. I think it is all three, but the point is…it worked. I was riveted from minute one until the final moment. I loved the emotional content of this season and what it had to say about our memories. It was delightful, entertaining, and suspenseful. It also quietly spoke to many of us about true inclusion on and off the screen. For those of you who don’t know, Coby Bird is an actor on the Autism Spectrum. He was 16 years old when he was hired to play Rufus. By the time he was 19 he was upgraded to principle cast. I was especially thrilled with the writing of Rufus’ storyline. It’s worth seeing, as is Coby’s performance. Kudos to all.

Extraordinary Attorney Woo A Netflix


Extraordinary Attorney Woo is the #1 rated TV show in Korea, and it has steadily been in the top 10 series list on Netflix since launching. Let me say first, everyone should be watching this show. It is some of the best writing I have ever seen in the industry. It’s funny, endearing, gorgeous, thought-provoking and life changing. Yes, it’s that good. It also has some problems. Attorney Woo is a fledgling attorney with a strong visual memory and almost no social skills. Yep. You guessed it! She is on the spectrum. This is complicated. Here in the US we are increasingly less tolerant of neurotypical actors playing neurodiverse characters. Authentic representation is more the “War Cry” in most US casting offices. I have long held the belief that diverse actors should be given every opportunity to audition and win any role they choose to set their cap on. I believe in access to auditioning, but I have been reluctant to say anything that suggests any actor is incapable of playing a role that is not like themselves. But Extraordinary Attorney Woo makes a strong case for authentic casting. The actress who plays Woo is not on the spectrum. She is a wonderful actress, doing a compelling job. You cannot help but fall in love with her character. However, for those of us who are familiar with the spectrum, and it is a spectrum, it is painfully obvious that the actress is playing a role, and it is jarring. I got past it, because she is a terrific actress and the writing is so amazingly, beautifully spectacular. I am still in the camp of letting the best actor win the role, but when it comes to playing a character on the spectrum it is becoming increasingly clear to me that this may always be an #actuallyautistic actor. Stay out of the politics, watch the show! Enjoy!

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