20th Century Studios / Hulu
This week, Joey Chestnut and Miki Sudo won titles at Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. The Gentleminions have taken over movie theaters.
And we said a sad goodbye to James Caan.
Here’s what NPR’s pop culture happy hour team was paying attention to — and what you should check out this weekend.
Overcome Max Cooper
GP Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
I love a good read on the beach during the summer, so I want to recommend a book by Marcelle Karp called Overcome Max Cooper, which came out recently. (Full disclosure, Marcelle is someone I know. She was a co-founder of Bust Magazine.) This is her first novel and it’s set on Fire Island, and the details of the island are so fun and rich. He is someone who has spent a lot of time there.
It was a wonderful transport from my inner home to the shores of water and back to being a teenager. Young adults on can seem like the biggest escape, and I think we all need a pick-me-up right now. — Marguerite Rosario
Rutherford Falls season 2
That’s right, folks, he’s back. Rutherford Falls is a show set in a small New York City that sits right on the edge of a reservation. It’s Reagan Wells, played by the fantastic Jana Schmieding, who is native. She runs her town’s cultural center and her best friend is Nathan Rutherford, played by Ed Helms. Her character’s namesake is tied to the small town, which has a somewhat controversial past.
They struggle with the history of this town and the legacy of dealing with Native American treaties and bringing the two communities together. It may sound a little dry, but believe me, it’s a Mike Schur production. It’s hilarious. Michael Greyeyes is also fantastic as the owner of the local casino, and the writers room includes a number of native writers.
The first season was more self-contained as they may not have known they would be picked up for another season, but luckily season two is now on Peacock. In this season, I think they were finally able to spread their wings and treat it more like other Schur productions, like Brooklyn nine-nine. —Sam Yellowhorse Kesler
Princess is a martial arts fantasy movie on Hulu. This is Lowering in a wedding dress. There’s this princess, played by Joey King, who’s trapped at the top of a tower, and she has to fight her way down through hundreds of goons to save her family. That’s it. It’s the tweet.
I don’t want to promise too much here because it’s not going to join the pantheon of great martial arts movies, but that’s not what it’s trying to do. What Princess really went down easy. Maybe like me, you find yourself in the mood to see a woman blow off steam on a bunch of guys trying to take her agency away.
It’s corny as hell, but he knows it, and it turns out to be extremely important. He also knows what he has to do because the premise is so simple and so linear that the violence must keep iterating, escalating and innovating. It’s the only mission, and she executes it. —Glen Weldon
Magic Mike XXL
Every 4th of July weekend, we have a little family tradition where my partner, Katie, and I sit down and watch a silly movie about America. We watched both national treasure films this way, we often return to the independence day franchise, and we did Team America: World Police one year. But this year we struggled, so we just decided to dive into a comfort food we love watching together so much: Magic Mike XXL.
It’s an eerily charming and affectionate film on the road in which a group of male entertainers travel the East Coast, make people smile, have adventures, and simply put on a show. And spoiler – I just described what happens throughout the movie. Is it major? No. Is it a plot? No. Is it fun to watch over and over while asking yourself very little? This is the ticket.
Something the movie gets so good at is that it’s a movie that loves women, featuring a bunch of characters that love women. And it’s worth re- (re-, re-) watching this movie because it’s a sweet portrait of loving male friendship. Not just those guys who are brothers and pat each other really hard on the back. They’re vulnerable, and they’re nice, they love each other a lot, and that’s the movie. —Stephen Thompson
More Recommendations from the Pop Culture Happy Hour Newsletter
by Linda Holmes
If you follow me on Twitter (or have seen me in person for the past few weeks), you know that I’ve been really enjoying the book lately. A huge world by science writer Ed Yong. It’s about the science of animal senses, so it’s all about whales, bats, dogs, birds, insects and sensory receptors, how color works and how humans at large scale have tended to organize the world around the senses we use – and what that means for any human or animal that uses their senses differently. But it’s also a kind of empathy, for me, in that it’s about understanding that the way you see the world is uniquely yours, literally. (Note: Random House, the publisher of this book, is part of Penguin Random House, as is Ballantine, the publisher of my books. Hope that makes perfect sense.)
I also really enjoyed the comedy special pleasing people from pop culture friend Happy Hour Josh Gondelman. You can rent it from various places on demand, and it’s crisp and funny and weird and very sweet in some ways, especially if you’re into weddings and weddings.
The podcast Household faceshosted by John Ross Bowie, did some great interviews with character actors, but I particularly enjoyed the most recent one, which featured the wonderful Stephen Root.
Speaking of good podcasts from good people, my old friend Joe Reid and his co-host and friend Chris Feil have a movie podcast called This had Oscar Buzz, which is an extension of an ongoing project that examines films that… well, have already caused buzz at the Oscars, but it didn’t pan out. I hadn’t spent too much time with their show, but I’ve listened to a lot of it recently, and it’s a fascinating angle on the history of movies and the film industry, as well as awards campaigns and film marketing. .
NPR’s Maison Tran adapted the Pop Culture Happy Hour segment “What’s Making Us Happy” into a digital page. If you like these suggestions, consider subscribe to our newsletter for recommendations each week. And listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour on Apple podcast and Spotify.