Everyone in Baywatch seems amused to be in a movie version of Baywatch—how could they not be? (Their expressions range from “Is this really happening?” to “This is really happening.”) The laughs in director Seth Gordon’s surprisingly fun and self-mocking comedy don’t sneak up on you so much as hail you from a mile off with an air horn and then bonk you over the head as you approach. This is a film in which lifeguard Dwayne Johnson leaps out of the water (in slo-mo) with a rescued paraglider in his arms, while porpoises flip behind him in celebration. That moment also brings the film’s title, text rising from the deep like a repressed giggle that won’t go away. The generous—radical?—thing about Hollywood’s version of the tush-ogling ’90s TV phenomenon is that, pretty quickly, it makes you feel in on the joke. Taking lessons from 2012’s wonderfully silly 21 Jump Street (in which Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill scientifically proved that bad television need not result in bad filmmaking), Baywatch owns its preposterousness with every barked line of self-serious dialogue and stuffed-to-bursting wet suit. The actors are what save it. Not only does Johnson build on his subversive persona of hulking, dim-witted likability, but he’s joined by Neighbors’ Zac Efron, today’s reigning king of the hazy one-liner, who plays cocky yet disgraced Olympic swimmer Matt Brody, nicknamed the Vomit Comet. (Confused by his bodacious lifeguard team’s role in routing out crime, Efron’s Brody says it
Trainwreck was the perfect introduction to Amy Schumer’s talents, striding the line between saucy, sweet and spill-your-popcorn funny. But with her second major film role, Schumer needed to show her range: Could she play anything other than a directionless, oversexed thirtysomething who drinks too much but learns a few valuable life lessons before the credits roll? On this evidence, no. Schumer is Emily, a directionless, oversexed thirtysomething whose dream holiday to Ecuador goes off the rails when her boyfriend dumps her and she’s forced to invite her scaredy-cat mom, Linda (Goldie Hawn), instead. Linda is convinced the pair of them are going to be kidnapped and sold for ransom by drug lords—which is, of course, exactly what happens. What follows is a series of aimless, goofy high jinks, as the pair hamfistedly escape only to bicker their way across the Amazonian jungle. A few of the gags hit home: Schumer’s flawless timing makes the best of some creaky one-liners. Her blend of glee and horror when she inadvertently murders one of their captors hints at the sharper, more interesting film that might have been. But too much of the humor derives from Emily’s insatiable appetite for booze, food and sex, while the central mother-daughter relationship is predictable. Goldie Hawn broke a self-imposed 15-year retirement to do this movie; she must be missing her armchair now.
You couldn’t be blamed for low expectations if you wandered into Salvation Taco, the new stylized taqueria located in the budget Pod 39 Hotel. During prime loosen-your-tie-and-slip-off-your-pumps evening hours, the Murray Hill crowd can be as obnoxious as a roving band of SantaCon reindeer. And the place is in-your-face garish, like a party joint imported from Cancun spring break, with bright Christmas lights and a wall covered in fake fruit. But that first impression tells only half the story. With April Bloomfield running the kitchen and Ken Friedman in charge of everything else, this is far from your typical after-work sloshfest. The powerhouse team behind the Spotted Pig and the Breslin is playing against type—like Danny Meyer reinventing the burger shack or Tom Colicchio launching a sandwich chain—bringing their highbrow skills into a new mass-market arena. The venue—as colorful as a Mexican blanket, decked out in a rainbow of thrift-store junk—skews younger than any this team has opened previously, designed to fit the Pod’s youth-hostel vibe. The sprawling space, a happy-hour rec room, features two long votive-lit bars, plush couches for lounging and Ping-Pong tables in glass-enclosed nooks. It is first and foremost a place to imbibe, its Mexicanish finger food mostly designed for easy consumption while clutching an icy cerveza. Bloomfield could have phoned it in for this out-of-her-wheelhouse venture. But instead she’s raising the bar on dirt-cheap Mexican snacks: S
Venue says: “We offer over 40 different craft beers on draught, over 40 bottles and beer infused dishes!”
This Murray Hill watering hole isn’t just another sports bar. Unlike most neighborhood joints, Taproom No. 307 offers more than the usual suspects on draught. Suds lovers can choose from a glimmering lineup of 40 craft-beer taps and a few casks behind the long oak bar, plus a selection of another 40 to 60 bottled beers that changes seasonally. On a recent visit, bartenders were pouring Lagunitas Brown Shugga’ ($9), Black Hog Delicata Squash Saison ($8) and Downeast Winter Blend Cider ($8). Rare beer enthusiasts will want to check out the Logsdon Peche ‘n Brett ($48 for a 32-ounce bottle) and Stone Old Guardian Barleywine OakSmoked 2013 ($25). All that drinking is bound to work up an appetite, so order up some of Taproom No. 307’s grub. Maybe some poutine ($14) or bay shrimp hush puppies ($11) and a kale-basil pesto flatbread ($14) will hit the spot.
Despite cries to abandon ship, Pirates of the Caribbean sets sail yet again: We’re on film five now and this really is swashbuckling by numbers, with prison altercations, ghost crews, hangman’s high jinks and battle scenes that could have been lifted from earlier installments. Dead Men Tell No Tails is clearly an attempt to return to the good old days of the franchise, with an actual plot—however wishy-washy—and two new young things, played by Kaya Scodelario and Brenton Thwaites. Scodelario is Carina, a "woman of science," a self-taught astronomer hunted on land as a witch. She’s smart and strong, but the movie is too distracted by its own kookiness for her to really get interesting. Thwaites is Henry, the bland but honorable offspring of the even blander Will and Elizabeth (Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley’s characters in the earlier films). Bloom even makes a pair of brief, breathless appearances, his cheeks covered in cockles, but fans hoping for a substantial reunion with Knightley will be left hanging. Carina and Henry are on the hunt for Poseidon’s Trident, a mythical weapon that, if uncovered, has the power to break every oceanic curse—and therefore undo the plots of the movies that came before. Geoffrey Rush’s Captain Barbosa ends up being the most likable character here; Javier Bardem’s pirate-hunter Salazar is all raspy one-dimensional vengeance and let’s not even talk about that Paul McCartney cameo. Unfortunately for everyone, Captain Jack Sparrow is still sl
If just thinking about Michael Fassbender makes you want to strip off all your clothes, Alien: Covenant has a cure for that. David the robot, Fassbender’s creepy-as-a-serial-killer android butler, was the breakout star of Ridley Scott’s 2012 Alien prequel, Prometheus. Scott, realizing that David was scarier than a spaceship full of parasitic flesh-eaters, makes him the star of this sequel to the prequel. It’s just as well, because nothing else kicks quite enough ass. It’s 2104, 10 years after the Prometheus’s crew members ended up as alien meat on their mission to find the origins of human life. A colony ship, the Covenant, is gliding through space on a voyage to a distant planet. Its cargo includes 2,000 people sleeping in hibernation pods, as well as a trove of embryos intended to populate their new home. Scott has famously noted that nothing happens in the first 45 minutes of his brooding 1979 originator, Alien. Not so here. When the Covenant runs into a storm, its computer, Mother, wakes up the crew of 15 from hypersleep, seven years too early. The weather front, it turns out, originates from a nearby planet that seems habitable, with a breathable atmosphere. Too good to be true? Yes, says ship scientist Daniels, played by the terrific Inherent Vice actor Katherine Waterston, who quickly assumes a variation on the butt-kicking Ripley role that Sigourney Weaver made iconic. The rest of the crew is a bunch of science geeks and low-tech dudes who operate the ship (you can
Seeing the sushi master practice in this bamboo-embellished space is the culinary equivalent of observing Buddhist monks at prayer. Counter seating, where you can witness—and chat up—the chefs, is the only way to go. Prime your palate with a miso soup and segue into the raw stuff: petals of buttery fluke; rich eel; dessert-sweet egg custard; nearly translucent discs of sliced scallop over neat cubes of milky sushi rice. Still craving a California roll? Move along.
The food-hall boom of 2014 keeps on keepin’ on, with trumped-up grub depots hawking plates from both street-circuit icons and chef-helmed havens (City Kitchen, Gansevoort Market). Joining the ranks is this whopping 12,000-square-foot perma-venture from UrbanSpace, the team behind seasonal streetside pop-ups like Mad. Sq. Eats and Broadway Bites. The 200-seat court plays host to market favorites—Bar Suzette crepes and Roberta’s wood-fired pizzas, including a Vanderbilt-exclusive pepperoncini pie—as well as newcomers like Ovenly, Toby’s Estate Coffee and a fried-chicken project from BrisketTown’s Daniel Delaney.
Kat & Theo
This Flatiron gem offers seasonal, New American fare from executive chef David Fisher, who's put in time in such Michelin-starred restaurants as Jean-Georges, Aquavit and Aldea. From an open kitchen overlooking the 70-seat dining room—a moody, brick-walled stretch divided into a front bar area fitted with leather booths and metal trellis archways, and a back dining room warmed with a stone fireplace—Fisher deploys starters like tomato-braised octopus with cannellini beans ($18), and delicata squash agnolotti with lemony shrimp and firey chiles ($14). Robust mains include a juicy hanger steak accompanied by earthy rutabagas ($28), and a slow cooked leg of duck glazed accented with sweet plums ($29).
Venue says: “Kat & Theo offers Happy Hour Mon - Fri from 5pm-6:30pm, enjoy a Classic Cocktail $10, select Wines & Prosecco $8, and select Beers $7”