In Which We Have A Thoughtless Feeling Inside

Hard to Say is This Recording’s weekly advice column. It will appear every Wednesday until the Earth perishes in a fiery blaze, or until North West turns 40. Get no-nonsense answers to all of your most pressing questions by writing to justhardtosay@gmail.com.

Hi,

For the past year, I have awoken myself early to go for a run before work. Recently, my roommate Anna’s doctor suggested that she start running, and she invited herself along on my morning runs. I have tried to make the best of this, but she talks the entire time about her worries and her complaining about the pace gets kind of annoying as well.

Previously this had been a peaceful part of my day; now it has turned into a chore. I can’t just tell her how much she ruins this for me, since we have to go on living together, and it is kind of hard to hide what I’m doing considered our close proximity. Is there any way out of this?

Laney F.

Laney,

I mean if you told her you were doing personal training on the side and would be sending her a bill that would probably get things moving in the right direction. But no, that will not accomplish the prime goal of any useful lie – to directly eliminate the hurt feelings the truth so seems to consistently cause.

Since she seems to obey her own doctor, it may be best you have your doctor chime in on this as well. Maybe your “doctor” can inform you that you need to be running at night. Without you to push her she might give up the mornings and running altogether, at which point you can covertly switch back. This introduces a lot of complications, but could be the most pain-free solution.

A fake boyfriend that Anna hates and who criticizes her is probably your best bet. You can use a friend or hire an actor; she will probably see that this is a couples activity now and gracefully bow out. Problem solved.

Hi,

I recently broke up with my girlfriend of nine months and I feel like I am going through the twelve stages of grief. It is hard to connect with someone else and the energy required to keep up with dating is not really in me right now.

Still, I feel like meeting someone else would probably help me get over things faster? I want this to be as pain-free a process as possible, and it feels like all I do is think about Maggie or compare other women to her. I have written her and called but she doesn’t reply. Do you have any tips for getting through this rough period?

Walter S.

Dear Walter,

Every human person allows their perspective on the world to be altered by different things. Think of what you did – and this need not be related to romance at all – that last altered your point of view on life as a whole. Was it a trip, a fuck, a movie or book? You’ll want to repeat whatever that is, in hopes of giving you an identification with someone else’s situation that has a chance of putting yours in perspective.

As for the not answering your messages: if someone is ignoring you, that means it either causes them great pain to have to communicate with you, or they simply do not give a shit anymore. Either is really bad news for you. It is not only not healthy to continue sending messages into a void and believing you might get a response, it is a waste of your energies that could be directed on someone who actually values you as a person.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

In Which He Remains The Right Man For Her

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Used to Love Him

by ETHAN PETERSON

The Mummy
dir. Alex Kurtzman
107 minutes

Tom+Cruise+headlines+a+spJennifer (Annabelle Wallis) meets Nick (Tom Cruise) in Baghdad. Although he is twenty-two years her senior, there is a serious paucity of English-speaking men in this city. She therefore invites him back to her hotel room, where he pleasures her as many times as his advanced age is able to accommodate. In her quiet moments, Jennifer hunkers down in front of her laptop, puts on a pair of optional eyeglasses – at no other time in The Mummy does she ever wear them – and checks in with her supervisor Henry (Russell Crowe).

These are the two men in her life. She might have chosen better if she had left Cambridge and took the job offer from an American company; instead she wanted to make her home in London, and work for an organization called Prodigium, which dedicates itself to the elimination of evil. It is subtly suggested in The Mummy that Jennifer is hoping to turn the focus of her company from the commercial exploitation of historic sites to a more active role in political affairs, e.g. Brexit and the like.

She is pretty lukewarm on Nick after the sex. She has given him her body, which is impressively sculpted, and when we see Nick in the nude during the weeks that follow we recognize why he is able to attract such a spry young woman. (Her cheekbones are particularly impressive; they radiate like the vibrant, enticing pouches of a squirrel.) She alleges that while the sex was consensual, Nick’s theft of an important map she kept for reasons afterwards was most certainly not. She is very angry at him for awhile until they discover a tomb beneath the earth.

The couple escorts this historical find by airplane out of Iraq. On the way, the plane crashes and Nick gives Jennifer the only working parachute on the flight. She is grateful for his sacrifice, and when she finds out that he survived the crash through some kind of wonderful miracle, she is so appreciative that she is like, “Want to get dinner?” When a woman asks you if you want to get dinner, it means something very different from what it would ostensibly seem, and Nick’s experience the following evening agrees with my observation.

Even though she now expresses to Nick that she cares for him and believes he is a good person, she never touches Nick again throughout the rest of The Mummy. She does take him to meet the other man in her life, I guess to compare them? Meanwhile Nick is having these little daydreams about another woman (Sofia Boutella), the woman in the tomb, an Egyptian princess who wanted to find a vessel for Set, the god of death.

This embalmed creature of power decides that Tom Cruise is the ideal person to embody such a deity and drowns Jennifer. Before she dies, Jennifer tells Nick that she is scared. He loves her so much that he brings her back to life a few minutes later, and she does not even spit water from her mouth or lungs. His decision is understandable. I mean, how many more young blondes will allow him to save their life in the near future, do you suppose? Not many: they will all probably be brunettes, so he should cling to this Jennifer.

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It is a serious, tragic shame that everyone hated The Mummy so much, since a sequel where Tom Cruise plays the Egyptian God of death would be top tier. Unfortunately the direction of Alex Kurtzman (Fringe) is pretty cartoonish for the material – he is better known as a writer, and this script feels like it was worked over by every scribe in Hollywood. Nick and Jennifer literally have no preferences at all – there is nothing they enjoy. They have no family, no friends. It is like they are already in a tomb.

The pacing also suffers. For an adventure film, The Mummy never really goes anywhere. After the opening scenes in Iraq, the film returns to a particularly garish part of London and never really leaves it. It is rather unclear what the film’s $125m budget went to: Tom’s trailer and jet? The princess’ plan to take over the world or whatever is thwarted in a matter of scenes, in order to place the focus back where it belongs: the heart of Tom Cruise.

While she is imprisoned by Russell Crowe, the Egyptian princess threatens all the English people who have chosen to hold her captive. At first, she speaks in the old language. Nearby, London sits atop their quiet stronghold like a mother bird on a basket of eggs. The princess quickly learns English, proclaiming it a simple way of expression. Tom Cruise makes a face like he is maybe about to object, but then he blows out the air in his lungs and shuts the fuck up.

Ethan Peterson is the reviews editor of This Recording.

In Which We Smell Like Last Night’s Rain

This review covers episodes five and six of Twin Peaks: The Return.

Dark Women

by ELEANOR MORROW

Twin Peaks: The Return
creators David Lynch & Mark Frost
Showtime

There is a certain kind of woman that has captured David Lynch’s attention over the years. She is either a blonde or a brunette, and very rarely both. Her cheekbones reverberate through her face, and speech comes as a relief for them, a momentary release from the tension that inhabits her face like a rite. Her attention is focused on something — a person, an idea — for as long as she can hold it without completely losing track of herself. In these areas Naomi Watts has always been Lynch’s perfect module. She is the most brunette a blonde could ever be, and the most blonde a brunette could ever be. In comparison to Twin Peaks: The Return, the previous statement is the height of comprehensibility.

Trying to figure out what absolutely everything means in Twin Peaks: The Return is the kind of task that could take weeks, months, or even years. Imagine if they brought back Cheers and Ted Danson’s character was now brain-dead. Actually, that’s not that big of a stretch. Through six episodes Kyle MacLachlan remains an impotent loiterer who grabs his private parts in abject pain every time he needs to go to the bathroom. In a way, this subversion of our expectations is a brilliant joke on what most of us expected from this long-awaited revival, but in other way, it feels like a sketch that may have outlived its usefulness. Watts may as well be acting with a CGI racoon for all that MacLachlan’s impotent character gives her on a scene-to-scene basis.

Fortunately this is Naomi Watts, and maybe she has never received the full adulation and appreciation she deserves as an actress. She is also the only character seemingly involved in any tangible plotline who is not an officer of the law. Watching her try to settle her husband’s debts was like a lot of moments on Twin Peaks: The Return: ludicrous with a serious plausibility at its base. Despite this abstract feel, Twin Peaks: The Return succeeds on the basis of one thing which makes it completely unique and hilarious – the manner in which one human person relates to another.

Lynch is at his best in these two person scenes, when there is only one thing bouncing against another. Particularly amusing was Sheriff Truman (Robert Forster) and his verbal battles with his wife Doris (Candy Clark). It was legitimately hard to make out the coke-addled dialogue transacted between Becky (Amanda Seyfried) and her mess of a boyfriend. Each encounter between person A and person B is fresh and inimitable. This is such a different type of comedy, one that surpasses Ionesco and the stagey parodies of the original series while retaining just enough verisimilitude to keep us watching. Twin Peaks: The Return features a tone best described as merciless.

Strangely, it is the not-so opulent setting of the original that seems most diminished and diluted in this revival. The original Twin Peaks looked like it actually took place in a small Washington town. I don’t know if it was a budget issue at work or what the deal is here, but the sets have not generally been up to par. When Miguel Ferrer finds Laura Dern in the warmth of a crowded bar, we see how little Lynch needs to create his specific moods, but larger set pieces are few and far between. Perhaps that can account for the lingering Las Vegas storyline, since any part of that plastique city is easily reproduced on a soundstage.

The plot, as well as I can surmise, concerns the two Dale Coopers: one is a demon, and one is a saint. This moral binary colors every individual in Twin Peaks, in Las Vegas, and in South Dakota. The only character who can be said to reside in the grey area would be the FBI agent that Lynch himself portrays. We have learned that only one Dale Cooper may live, and so soon Twin Peaks: The Return will turn into Prison Break. Maybe with only one Dale Cooper on the loose, we can finally revisit some of the loose ends of the original show.

Whatever you say about Twin Peaks: The Return, it is about as far from fanservice as anything can ever be. Fanservice reached an all-time low point when J.J. Abrams released a Star Wars movie with the exact same scenes as the previous films, only with slightly altered characters. If people could pretend to enjoy that, they would surely gobble up whatever is left of Lara Flynn Boyle writhing in a hotel room, but Ms. Boyle is mercifully missing. Lynch developed a severe distate for the dark woman when she ruined his storylines and subsequently her face through artificial maxillofacial alterations. Bringing her back and having loud fights with her on set would have been somewhat along the lines of Kylo Ren.

At least Star Wars was always empty commercialism – like Wonder Woman, it was a property strictly conceived to make money at the expense of act. Twin Peaks was mercurial and original, and to watch it surrender to the whimsies of television executives would have been a fate worse than the show originally encountered when Lynch was pressured to name the murderer of Laura Palmer against his better judgment. No matter how many old properties are callously dragged before us with many of the original actors still involved, I will always be grateful that Mr. Lynch did not cave this time.

Eleanor Morrow is the senior contributor to This Recording.

In Which We Appear Headed For An Amicable Split

A Very Special Marriage

by ELEANOR MORROW

I’m Sorry
creator Andrea Savage
truTV

Screen Shot 2017-06-09 at 9.31.11 AMIt was a very special, yet very unexpected moment when Cheryl Hines and Larry David finally divorced on Curb Your Enthusiasm. It was such a rare thing for seasons and seasons of a show to occur in the context of an ostensibly happy marriage and then to have the show write off one of its signature characters in this fashion. Larry David’s real life divorce obviously played a prominent role in taking the story in this direction —  I believe Laurie David took up with one of their servants.

Cheryl David became a sinister character after that, a woman who was more interested in Larry’s money and the status that he provided than true love. On truTV’s new Curb clone, I’m Sorry, Andrea (Andrea Savage) and Mike (Tom Everett Scott) seem to be heading down a similar path. Unlike Curb, the problems will have been manifest from the very beginning.

The other major difference between Larry David and Andrea Savage, besides a shitload of hair, is Andrea’s six-year old daughter Amela (Olive Petrucci). Savage, 44, has been hanging around the periphery of various shows over the years much like her co-star in I’m Sorry, Judy Greer, who even penned a memoir about how often she is recognized by passerby for absolutely nothing.

Like Larry, Andrea is a comedy writer. Her friends in that industry, including writing partner Kyle (comedian Jason Mantzoukas), are meant to prevent I’m Sorry from feeling as boring as say, Better Things or Louis CK’s show since he became an absolutely dreadful shell of his former self. The scenes where Savage banters with her comedian friends initially feel forced, but they are a welcome change-of-pace from traditional mommy satire.

Savage is a likable and skilled performer, as the creative mind behind I’m Sorry, she appears to be working overtime as a performer as well. She has a surprising capacity for exploring the particulars of a sudden desperation. Many of her neuroses seem a little forced, like when she gets into a screaming argument with a roomful of seniors in her dance class over the air-conditioning. At other times, I’m Sorry hones on the absurdity of Los Angeles life without feeling complain-y or entirely bourgeois. The main conflict in Andrea’s life seems to be with her husband, who has to endure the attention of her fellow comedians and his wife’s outsized personality. This marriage has been set to slow cook.

Tom Everett Scott, 46, has never found that exact role which suited his abilities perfectly. He is miscast, as in I’m Sorry, as a bumbling nice guy, and he did not make much sense as a schemer with a heart of gold in Steven Bochco’s short-lived but brilliant legal drama Philly. Audiences either see Scott as an absolute patsy or a liar, and it is really difficult to embody that contradiction properly as a performer. At the beginning of I’m Sorry, we are most struck that Scott’s Mike is an introvert, a rare television opportunity to play someone who does not advertise every aspect of themselves with his mouth.

As parents, Mike and Andrea are devoted, but you can see that they are somewhat baffled by these unfamiliar roles. My mother had me when she was 26; it is far different to enter parenthood when you are already fully formed as a person. Reevaluating the world at that age is a different challenge, and the strain it puts on the marriage in I’m Sorry is new territory that was never explored in Curb Your Enthusiasm.

It is exciting to think we will be able to watch someone’s life fall completely apart, for Andrea Savage’s existence is so blissful and untroubled otherwise that it would be hard to see where else I’m Sorry looks for storylines. Exploring the not-so-wild concept of a not perfectly happy couple in an honest and revealing way could propel I’m Sorry from a Larry David tribute half-hour to something completely its own.

Eleanor Morrow is the senior contributor to This Recording. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.

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In Which We Cross The Little Water To Get There

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Mind Absorption

by ALEX CARNEVALE

James Agee read Ulysses in the summer of 1933. He almost immediately abandoned a writing project that had consumed him for the previous three years. “Joyce I think sees all sides and present them more consistently, clearly, and simultaneously than even Shakespeare,” he cooed in wonderment.

 

In the wake of Ulysses, a humbled Agee focused on his journalism.

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He had failed at putting together an epic poem titled John Carter, so he immediately went to Tennessee on assignment, interviewed some poor people, and began writing a story about them. This was routine in those days, it was basically one of the twelve steps. After the story appeared his boss, Fortune editor Henry Luce, told him to go to Harvard Business School.

 

Agee did not go, but Joyce was still left behind. He read Ulysses again and then once more before never touching it again, holding it at bay like someone staring at the sun.

He described his work at Fortune like this: “It varies with me from a sort of hard masochistic liking to direct nausea at the sight of this symbol $, and this % and this biggest and this some blank – billion…But in the long run, I suspect the fault, dear Fortune, is in me: that I hate any job on earth, as a job and hindrance and semi-suicide.”

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He did consider taking his own life, sometimes standing on the sill of a skyscraper, looking over at whatever it was that lay below. The temptation was there, how could it not be?

Agee then began Proust, for he felt it was now time. It did not take. “He is very clearly one of the greatest people I’ve read any of,” he wrote his friend. “But I shan’t read him now. Even the little I’ve read convinces me that once you got going in him he wd absorb your mind and thinking for months or even a few years. Which is not at all good when you feel somewhere near ready to write.” Instead he read Interpretation of Dreams and some Dashiell Hammett mysteries to pass the time.

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The Fortune article that would begin his work on Let Us Now Praise Famous Men was suggested by editor Ralph Ingersoll. Agee accepted the time away from New York gratefully. He could not decide between two women, so went on with both, or wandered Greenwich Village’s jazz clubs.

The manuscript he began writing, when I first read it in college, seemed appropriately serious. Poverty is the one subject about which it is useless to joke, but Agee seemed to turn that notion itself on his head. Rereading the book now, I realize I was entirely mistaken – Agee was completely serious as he waxed poetic about rural life. It is disappointing how much he misunderstood Ulysses.

Agee’s writing at the time remained too lyrical for his subjects. They could not live up to his ideas about them. The writing pretended not to take itself entirely seriously, but the reality was that the author was never constance of the distance between himself and his subjects. This was his interpretation of Joyce, a way of asking how to be. His idol/peer called out in anguish and joy, and Agee only heard part of the cry.

Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.

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In Which We Will Appreciate Your Honesty

Hard to Say is This Recording’s weekly advice column. It will appear every Wednesday until the Earth perishes in a fiery blaze, or until North West turns 40. Get no-nonsense answers to all of your most pressing questions by writing to justhardtosay@gmail.com.

Hi,

It’s been almost four months with my new boyfriend Steven. Every time I try to quantify or talk seriously about our relationship, which is rarely, Steven feeds me this stuff about how it is best to take things day by day and not put labels on it. In the meantime, he has introduced me to his friends and some family (not his parents) and we spend a lot of time together on a daily basis.

I really don’t understand why he is so uncomfortable with labels. My family lives farther away and while I would love for them to meet Steven, I hesitate to mention this to him because of his attitude towards talking about the idea of us. What do you think I should do?

Althea R.

Althea,

Normally I would say that Steven’s actions speak louder than words, but the more I thought about that expression, the more like garbage it really sounds. If he really cares about you, he should either articulate that in whatever form you desire it, or articulate why he is unable to articulate it.

The reason Steven is not OK with talking about things is because he has some essential reservation about you. The reason he introduced you to his friends and family is to see if that reservation disappears or if his feelings change. In the meantime, he is basically using you until he finds something better. In order to gain the upper hand, simply tell him that while you’ve enjoyed being with him, you’re interested in something more serious. If he doesn’t immediately reassure you, you have your answer.

Hi,

I have a problem. I had already been in a relationship with my girlfriend Tess for about a year when an ex, Ana, moved back to New York. We had already been really close when she was transferred to London for her job. Initially I did not tell Ana about Tess, but it all came out once she got back to the city. I said that I didn’t want to break up with Tess, so she suggested not telling her that we were having sex.

I know I should have said now and ended things with one of them, but I didn’t. It has been six months of being with these two women, and it is the happiest I have ever been in my life romantically. Things have gotten so much better with each of them than they ever were when I was in a relationship with one alone. Normally if I am focused on one person I get a little bit clingy, but having both of these wonderful women in my life makes things with Tess a lot better, and screwing around with Ana is about a hundred times more exciting than it was when we were exclusive.

I honestly believe I could conceal this from Tess for a long time, and since she says she is happy, I don’t see how it is really hurting our relationship. I’m tempted to simply keep this up for as long as it can, and if it all blows up, it will have been worth it.

Dave D.

Dear Dave,

I’m glad you’re happy, but if you need the idea of “screwing around” to enhance your main relationship, there is either something deeply wrong with that relationship, or something deeply wrong with you. I would say that at the conclusion of this effort you are probably going to be left alone, but since Ana seems interested in being with you no matter the circumstances, maybe you will still have her. You won’t ever have her respect, or her full attention, and you will have hurt someone you claim to care about in the process, but you might still have her.

It is hard being with one person, but if you want your best chance at actual, verifiable happiness, end things with Tess and try them out with Ana on a full-time basis. If you only broke up because she left the country and she’s now back on a more permanent basis and you couldn’t resist her, it sounds like you really care for her. If things don’t work out, Tess may still be there as a viable option, and you won’t ever have to deal with the detonation of her anger that is likely coming when she eventually finds out that you’re a piece of shit.

Hi,

I have been seeing a girl named Shanda for a few months. I met her through a friend of a friend. Shanda is very focused on taking things slowly when it comes to the physical side of our relationship. It seems to be having the effect of making me want her all the more, but at some point the lack of sex does seem frustrating. I really like her, but this is starting to feel like a waste of time. Should I just bail?

Arlin B.

Arlin,

A few months is extreme unless she is a religious person and maybe just doesn’t want to tell you that she has no plans to be with you.

If you are a man, it is best to have sex as quickly as possible. You will know if you are compatible, and feel more connected. If you are a woman, it is best to wait a bit. If a guy can’t wait a few weeks to be with you, he is most probably human garbage. Any longer than that, and she most likely does not want to have sex with you in general.

I would take a hard pass, but make sure she knows exactly why you are ending things.

Hi,

I am running into a problem in my relationship with a guy I will call William. William has a group of friends from his college that he spends a lot of time with. This in itself is no problem; I also enjoy being with my girlfriends although our activities and outings aren’t as focused on drugs and alcohol.

The issue is the astonishing amount of discussion between us about each other’s lives. Did you see that episode of The Mindy Project when Peter Prentice pretended the plotlines of Grey’s Anatomy were his real life at the hospital in order to make his wife think he was still working? Well, the incredible amount of storylines revolving around these people usually concerns the most mundane shit posturing as intense drama. There is no drama, but I am having to hear about it a lot more than I have ever wanted to hear about anything.

Any suggestions for bringing this annoying practice to an end?

Ally K.

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Dear Ally,

Some people talk out of nervousness, or just to fill the pauses between the penetration. While on six or seven various types of drugs, Benicio Del Toro once talked for ten straight days without stopping. You can bet all of it was not super-interesting.

If your boyfriend is this much of a chatterbox, maybe you can emphasize to him that, “Isn’t it great when you’re close enough to someone not to talk all the time?” This is grade-A bullshit, but William doesn’t sound very intelligent, so you can probably get away with it.

If this doesn’t work, attempt to create an actual schism between William and his friends. Best practice is to claim one of them hit on you.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen.

In Which We Stand Against The Music Of Time

Another Country

by ETHAN PETERSON

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
dir. James Gunn
136 minutes

Kurt Russell’s first scene in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is this creepy flashback of him and his young girlfriend where the camera barely glimpses his face. Since he is supposed to be twenty years old during these scenes, and is in all actuality a ripe 66, director James Gunn papers over his face with some hot CGI. The fact that he did not all have the courtesy to do this for Sylvester Stallone as well seems deliberately mean and perhaps even anti-Italian.

Stallone portrays a ship captain named Stakar. He is absolutely tiny, like morsel-sized, and he only really has one scene. Unfortunately, I was unable to recognize a single word he slurred in any of his dialogue, so this review will remain incomplete until the movie comes out on Blu-Ray or Gunn updates the special effects for a theatrical rerelease forty years from now when they seem vague and corny. Right now they seem vibrant and fun, but as we know, time turns everything into molten shit.

The plot of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 concerns Russell finding his son Peter Quill (Chris Pratt), and taking him to the planet he has created, called Ego. As a result, Star spends the entire movie completely gullible in his Papa’s thrall and never really goes anywhere. Pratt is deemphasized in favor of the real protagonist, Rocket (Bradley Cooper) a CGI animal, who is briefly imprisoned before attempting a rescue mission. Rocket’s internal dilemma is that he has the sense he may be nothing but a little asshole.

It is sort of sad to see Gunn hamstrung with the general shittiness of this cast and material. He is a bravura director, whose swirling, colorful style for these films is extremely sophisticated, and should fit the diaphonous galaxies on display. The art direction in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. ranges from awe-inspiring to dogshit, and the general atmosphere of the planet Ego comes across as a bit too familiar. Gunn papers over this lack of visual depth with stunning movement and accomplished cinematography.

Pratt looks absolutely huge physically, and he should have a lot to bite into on an emotional level with his father as the antagonist. This is the most disappointing of his recent roles from that perspective. Harrison Ford was never great at communicating sorrow or indecision either, but his directors and writers knew how to give him purposeful, active characters that played to his abilities. When Pratt is in motion, he is like a high-speed train, but stalled his considerable bulk is too close to the impact of his larger colleague, Drax (Dave Bautista).

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is ostensibly a comedy, and the film is at its most amusing when the various members of the starfaring team are playing off one another. Unfortunately Gunn decides to split them up for most of the film, and the resulting pairings do not work so well. The flirting between Quill and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is given a higher priority than the latter’s more interesting plotline with her sister Nebula (the preternaturally talented Karen Gillian). Gamora never asks Quill for advice or details the vagaries of her situation, which is a lot more complex than anything her boyfriend is going through.

Instead of analyzing these deeper issues, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 spends way too much time having the characters laugh at each other’s jokes. It starts to become seriously forced around the time a space pirate named Taserface has his name mocked for ten straight minutes. It is a very strange bit that reeks of body-shaming, and it would have made a nice DVD extra if it weren’t for the fact that Rocket is not given anyone else to crack on.

This is a minor quibble, however, when the film’s completely awful soundtrack manages to ruin most of the extended action sequences. Through careful analysis, I can inform you that outside of a single song by Fleetwood Mac, every single piece of music used in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is an unending horror on the ears. I understand that this gimmick was meant to offer something to spice up the lack of cohesion in the original film, but transplanting it to another feature-length audio mess was easily the worst decision Gunn made on this project.

Ethan Peterson is the reviews editor of This Recording.