Shows You Can Watch Without the Political Headaches: Part Two

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

I started this series last month, with the promise that I would update it until I ran out of ideas.

So here is part two, and I must apologize because I’m sort of fudging the format. Today I have a movie for you, and if you’re looking for something to digest in one bite, something that won’t leave you with an upset stomach because of all the blatant insults and political posturing, then I think I’ve got a great movie for you.

My family and I recently sat down to watch “You People” on Netflix. No…this is definitely not the movie I’m recommending, but it led to the movie I’m recommending.

“You People” is a modern take on the Sidney Poitier classic “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” (or its far less entertaining 2005 remake “Guess Who” starring Bernie Mac). It stars Jonah Hill, Eddie Murphy, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and some other people I don’t care about because this movie was very hard to care about at all. We understood going in that it was a film about interracial dating dynamics, so we were prepared for the racial humor. We were not prepared at all for the lack of humor, period.

It wasn’t offensive. It was too stupid to be offensive. I’m not even sure there were any written jokes at all. The entire premise seemed to rest on the awkward improv skills of its stars. It was scene after scene of people saying awkward things over each other, pausing, interrupting, and then awkwardly talking again. It didn’t even feel like there was a script. We were just supposed to be charmed by the natural cringe of it all, I suppose.

Anyway, it was awful. So awful that even my 15-year-old daughter asked us to turn it off after twenty minutes, and she’ll watch anything.

Rather than give up on our family tv night, I headed over to Prime to look up a movie my friend Daniel had just recommended. You might know him…or his work, at least. Daniel Knauf is the creative mind behind one of my favorite shows of all time, Carnivale. He has a new writing series he’s releasing on Substack called Gingerland and it’s fantastic. All that to say, if Daniel recommends something, I watch.

He recommended “Vengeance.” Now I’m recommending it to you.

“Vengeance” is an Amazon Prime release written by and starring B.J.Novak, otherwise known as Ryan from “The Office.” Novak has been an accomplished comedic writer and producer for years, and while “Vengeance” is a dark comedy, it is also deeply touching and dramatic.

Novak plays Ben, a stereotypical New York City “single guy,” a millennial writer and podcaster who spends his time pursuing women, drinking, and shallowly waxing semi-poetic with his shallow friends at shallow rooftop parties. He’s bored with life, and yet unable to imagine any other kind of life, a problem that is reflected in his search for a new podcast idea to satisfy his NPR-type employer (embodied by Issa Rae).

That is, until Ben receives a phone call from the brother of one of his female conquests. As it turns out, Abilene from Texas, is dead. As it also turns out, she’s led her family to believe that Ben is her steady boyfriend. They want him to come to Texas for the funeral, but Ben has no intentions of leaving his urban nest for the wilds of Texas. He changes his mind, however, when Abilene’s brother says he suspects his sister has been murdered, and he intends to find her killer. Ben has his podcast. He decides to play along with the lie that he and Abilene were in love, and heads to Texas to make a biting, witty podcast about the backward, toothless hicks trying to solve a murder with conspiracy theories and guns.

Ben is a stereotype. He goes to Texas to make a podcast about other stereotypes. Yet, this movie is anything but one that embraces stereotypes. In fact, it smashes those stereotypes wide open and ends up giving us a well-paced, humorous murder mystery that is also a sensitive story about family bonds, love, and revenge. We see Ben’s journey from a man who seeks to ridicule the subjects of his story to a man who realizes he is the ridiculous one.

Ben isn’t the only one with a journey. Abilene’s family must also come to terms with their own relationships with their lost loved one, each other, and to their home in Texas. It sounds very serious, and it is in many spots, but it is also filled with biting wit, soft humor, and gentleness.

It was a stark change from the painful attempt at humor of “You People.” Watching those two movies so close to each other was an illuminating exercise in the difference a good script can make. You can load your movie with superstars, but if you don’t have a good story, there’s not enough star power in the world to hold an audience.

“Vengeance” is a good story. It’s a beautiful story, actually. And, as promised, there are no “surprises.” Which is surprising. You’d think a movie about a bored, urban millennial heading to Texas would involve a lot of political posturing, insults, and woke lectures. There wasn’t any of that. Sure, there were some moments when the characters explore their differences and expectations, but it’s not political in nature, and it is all organic to the story.

There are no surprise subplots about sexuality or gender. There are no discussions of politics or voting. There isn’t even a whiff of the type of inherent condescension you might expect from a writer like Novak who has spent almost his entire life in entertainment.

There is harsh language and there are some sexual references. I didn’t find it too much for my teenager but you may feel differently.

“Vengeance” is a touching film peppered with authentic humor and a few really great twists and turns. The surprise here is that there are no mean surprises.

Seen it? Let me know what you think in the comments.

Gonna watch now? Come back and let me know what you thought!



The opinions expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of


Trending on RedState Videos