REVIEW: JAMIE FOXX in “DAY SHIFT” (Minor spoilers)

Netflix has released a new vampire movie starriing multiple-award winner Jamie Foxx as a vamp hunter. While it breaks no new ground, it has a great bit part by Snoop Dogg as a “cowboy” vamp hunter. Fairly gory, not exactly family fare, but watchable. Also, check out TV series “Moonhaven” and upcoming movie “Slumberland.”

Figure 1 – Jamie Foxx in Day Shift

Jamie Foxx has won all kinds of awards, including an Academy Award (Ray—Best Actor), a BAFTA (Ray —Best Actor in a Leading Role), a Golden Globe (Ray —Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical), plus just about every award available for an African-American actor (BET, Black Reel, Black Movie, etc.). The dude is multi-talented. One of the reasons he’s won so many awards is that he never limits the kinds of roles he takes on, from a blind pianist/singer/composer (Ray), to a taxi driver (Collateral), to a super-villain (“Electro” in Spider-Man: No Way Home), a gun-toting, freedom-fighting cowboy (Django Unchained), and so on. This year he continues his genre roles in Day Shift, where he plays Bud Jablonski, who’s been separated from his wife and thrown out of the vampire hunters’ union.

Vampire hunters’ union? Oh, yeah—not only is there a big union, but it’s global in scope! But there are rules for vampire hunters—things they can and can’t do in pursuit of the fanged ones—and Bud’s not exactly a rule-book type. In fact, he’s cut so many corners and broken so many rules that he was on probation several times and finally kicked out. So he’s gone solo. Not only that, but because vampire hunting is a secretive sort of job, he’s never told his wife Jocelyn (Megan Good) or his daughter Paige (Zion Broadnax) what he does, which is unfortunate, because Jocelyn thinks he spent all that unaccounted-for time chasing women and drinking, so they’ve separated. And she needs money so she can move, and Paige needs her teeth fixed; which means Bud has to find $10,000 right now! (Okay, within a week.) During the day Bud masquerades as a pool cleaner, but he really seeks out and destroys bloodsuckers, and sells the teeth (which can go for really big bucks if you get the right fangs) to his friend Troy (Peter Stormare) at the pawn shop.

But Troy can’t get him enough dough for the newest teeth, so Bud has to call his friend—one of the great vampire hunters—Big John (Snoop Dogg) to help him get back into the union. Because union hunters make big bucks, and if Bud can last long enough to make the ten grand, he can persuade his wife not to move, he thinks. Only problem is, the boss of the local, Ralph Seeger (Eric Lange) hates and despises him. But Big John vouches for him, and Ralph saddles Bud with a union rep to watch him and document any rule breaking—so Ralph can kick him out of the union for good this time! The union rep, Seth (Dave Franco), has never been out of the office, but he’s forced by Ralph to become a field agent. He’s a vegan, smoothie-sucking, gun-hating weenie who wets himself (literally) at the first sign of trouble, but Bud has to put up with him for the sake of his kid.

The vamps in the valley have organized under the tutelage of one Audrey San Fernando (Karla Souza), who (using sunblock made out of endangered desert tortoise shells) masquerades as a real-estate agent. But she’s secretly setting up hives and hideouts for LA’s vamp community. And one of Bud’s newest kills was her grandma; and Audrey’s out for revenge—it’s personal!

This is a pretty gory movie, so if you don’t like the sight of blood, even movie blood, you might not want to watch it—but after all, do you expect a vampire movie to be, excuse the expression, bloodless? There’s nothing really new in this film, which borrows from practically every vampire movie that’s gone before, including Blade’s use of silver as an anti-vamp weapon. One new thing is that vampire teeth are serrated, which is kind of a neat touch; and although vampires can regenerate from most wounds, they can’t regenerate their fangs, so if the fangs are pulled they starve to death. An interesting concept.

Jamie Foxx is always good to watch, because he’s a terrific actor, but a surprising (to me at least) entry is Snoop Dogg as Big John. He looks good in a cowboy hat and boots, and is a very cool character in all senses of the word. Dave Franco as Seth annoys at first, but finally owns his role, and Bud’s motel neighbour Heather (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) also owns her bit of the screen. Peter Stormare is always fun to watch, though they don’t give him a lot to do. (My favourite movie role with him is when he played Satan in Constantine with Keanu Reeves.) According to what I read, there’s a possibility of this becoming a TV series, though with or without Foxx, I don’t know. If with Foxx (who is also an executive producer) I would assume it would be a limited series. The show’s worth watching, though you shouldn’t expect more than a bit of fun.

Figure 2 – Moonhaven poster

Short subjects: We’ve started watching an interesting program on AMC+, called Moonhaven. It stars Dominic Monaghan, Emma McDonald, Amara Karan, Joe Manganiello, and more. Set about two hundred or so years in the future, Earth is in big trouble; the air is unbreathable, etc.(you know, the usual stuff). The difference here is that there’s a colony on the Moon that’s been there for a century or so, run by an AI, and they’re ready to send an expedition to Earth (“the mother”) to cure it. Apparently the AI has created artificial gravity, and there’s a big area with air, trees, houses, etc.; and they’re all living in a paradise which they want to share with Earth. But everything’s not what it seems: their paradise is kept going with a lot of drugs, and people on Earth want those drugs. And apparently someone’s willing to kill for them. It’s promising. I plan to keep watching; there are only 6 episodes (so far; some of these limited series get second seasons).

Figure 3 – Little Nemo 1905

One of the all-time greatest draftsmen in comics was Winsor McCay, whose comic strip Little Nemo in Slumberland (previously Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend) ran in the 1900s. If you’re not familiar with Little Nemo, you probably already know about McCay from Gertie the Dinosaur, one of the earliest films to mix live action with moving cartoons. Although McCay was a product of his time, and many of his strips feature characters drawn in what is considered a very racist style, there’s a certain psychedelic outlook in Little Nemo and The Rarebit Fiend (including the racist character Flip the clown) that make it possible (for me, at least) to temporarily overlook the racism. Your mileage may really vary; but I hope you can give it a shot. At any rate, Netflix is going to release a new movie soon called Slumberland that’s loosely based on Little Nemo, but Nemo has become Nema, a girl, and Jason Momoa plays a completely revamped Flip, who’s neither racist (I think) nor a clown. Live-action remakes of comic strips don’t often work well, but since I love McCay’s work, I hope this one succeeds. At any rate, I’ve got hopes for this. You can download all the Little Nemo strips (which are out of copyright) here: Little Nemo 1905-1914 by Winsor McCay : Winsor McCay : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive.

If you have any comments, I’d love to hear them. You can comment here or on Facebook, or even by email (stevefah at hotmail dot com). All comments are welcome! (Just be polite, please.) My opinion is, as always, my own, and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of Amazing Stories or its owner, editor, publisher or other columnists. See you next time!

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