The Opening Act

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Street Date 12/15/20;
RLJE Films;
Comedy;
$27.97 DVD, $28.96 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Stars Jimmy O. Yang, Alex Moffat, Cedric the Entertainment, Neal Brennan, Debby Ryan, Ken Jeong, Bill Burr, Jermaine Fowler, Russell Peters, Whitney Cummings, Tom Segura, Iliza Shlesinger.

Fans of stand-up comedy should get a kick out of The Opening Act, the story of a young man at the crossroads of whether or not his life’s ambition is worth the pursuit. The cast of The Opening Act features a who’s who of the stand-up world, and only a few are actually playing the comedians.

Written and directed by stand-up comedian Steve Byrne (“Sullivan & Son”), and based in part on his own experiences starting out in stand-up, The Opening Act stars Jimmy O. Yang (“Silicon Valley”) as Will Chu, a claims adjuster who aspires to be a comic because growing up he bonded with his late father watching stand-up comedy together.

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Struggling just to get enough stage time with local open mic nights, Will gets the opportunity of a lifetime when a friend recommends him for a weekend MC gig for the Pittsburgh Improv. The headliner is Billy G (Cedric the Entertainer), who Will idolized growing up.

However, one awkward encounter after another leaves Will questioning if he has what it takes to make it in comedy. The feature comedian, Chris (Alex Moffat of “Saturday Night Live”) constantly wants Will to party, throwing off his concentration. A disastrous promotional appearance on a local radio show puts him on the radar for hecklers, throwing off his game as he tries out new material that just doesn’t land.

He seems more like he’s trying to go through the motions of what he thinks a stand-up comedian should do, without understanding what it takes to connect with the audience, until Billy G takes some pity on him, reminds him that every comedian has to learn to bomb hard, and gives him some advice that might help him turn things around.

All in all, the message of perseverance should resonate with all viewers.

The Blu-ray includes a six-minute making-of featurette, a three-minute featurette in which the cast members discuss the difficulties of getting started in comedy, and 11 minutes of footage of extended stand-up performances from the likes of Yang, Cedric, Whitney Cummings, Ken Jeong and more.

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Controversial ‘Insatiable’ Bows at No. 5 on Digital Originals Chart

Despite a 20% drop in demand, the Netflix women-in-prison drama “Orange Is the New Black” remains the most in-demand digital original, according to Parrot Analytics data for the week ended Aug. 18.

Three weeks after the debut of Season 6, the series continues its reign at No. 1 on Parrot’s weekly digital originals chart.

“Stranger Things,” also a Netflix digital original, also repeats at No. 2, with a 16% upswing in “Demand Expressions.

“Demand Expressions” is a proprietary metric used by Parrot Analytics to measure global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

A new entry on the digital originals top 10 chart is Netflix’s “Insatiable,” which debuted at No. 5, with a 67% demand increase from the prior week. The new show, which launched on Netflix on Aug. 10, stars “Barney” and Disney Channel alum Debby Ryan as a high school student who has been bullied because of her weight. But after a fight with a homeless man leaves her with her jaw wired shut, she becomes thin – and a beauty pageant contender bent on revenge against those who mocked her.

Even before the series launched, there was controversy. After a trailer dropped in late July, critics accused the series of body-shaming and a Change.org petition demanding its cancelation gathered more than 200,000 signatures.

Netflix’s VP of original series, Cindy Holland, defended the show at the annual Television Critics Association (TCA) showcase, saying the underlying message is to feel comfortable in your own self.

Elsewhere on the chart, the perennially popular Netflix digital original series “Voltron: Legendary Defender” moved up to No. 3 from No. 7 the prior week, with a 51% spike in demand, while Hulu’s “Castle Rock” was bumped down a notch to No. 4, with demand essentially flat.

Media Play News has teamed with Parrot Analytics to provide readers with a weekly top 10 of the most popular digital original TV series in the United States, based on the firm’s  proprietary metric called Demand Expressions, which measures global demand for TV content through a wide variety of data sources, including video streaming, social media activity, photo sharing, blogging, commenting on fan and critic rating platforms, and downloading and streaming via peer-to-peer protocols and file sharing sites.

‘Cover Versions’ Premiere

The premiere of the film Cover Versions took place April 9 at the Landmark Regent Theater in Westwood, Calif. The movie deals with members of a rock band being interrogated by police and telling a different story about how a fan ended up dead in the pool at one of their out-of-control parties. Sony Pictures released the film through digital home entertainment channels April 10.