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What's Making Us Happy: A guide to your weekend viewing, listening and gaming

Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling in the action comedy <em>The Nice Guys.</em>
Daniel McFadden
/
Warner Bros.
Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling in the action comedy The Nice Guys.

This week, Jerry Seinfeld was still mad about ... something, Baby Reindeer kept getting messier, and the Tony nominations came out.

Here's what NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour crew was paying attention to — and what you should check out this weekend.

The Nice Guys

If The Fall Guy doesn't do it for you, try The Nice Guys,a 2016 movie starring Ryan Gosling as a private eye and Russell Crowe as a tough guy enforcer who team up to solve a mystery about a missing teenage girl. Set in 1977 Los Angeles, it's got this whole glitzy, seamy, underbelly noir vibe going — it's all shag carpeting and pleather. It's got stunts, it's got set pieces, it's got crackling, funny dialogue, it's got a great soundtrack — and it's got Ryan Gosling playing a character who is even dumber and funnier than Ken. This is an action movie that's smart about the genre, and gets you to care about its characters. (Not to be confused with the Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg buddy copy movie The Other Guys.) — Glen Weldon

Vanessa Williams song "Legs"

When I am in my 60s, I hope that I am still able to move my legs and dance just like the one and only Vanessa Williams, who recently released a fantastic song called "Legs." In the music video she looks fantabulous — she's singing about her body and feeling more comfortable and being older and wiser and not caring about anything. I'm in my 30s, and I care less about things now than I did in my 20s. I hope by the time I'm in my 60s I care even less about things that I shouldn't care about — and this is what that song represents to me. — Aisha Harris

Arooj Aftab new album Night Reign

My favorite album of 2021 was this beautiful, atmospheric record called Vulture Prince by the singer-songwriter Arooj Aftab. She is a Pakistani singer based in Brooklyn, and I have played that record over and over again as a blood pressure lower-er, as a scene setter, as just nighttime vibes. And Aftab has a new record coming out May 31 called Night Reign. This isn't necessarily a summer record the way you think of summer records, but I think a lot of people will really love it. She's fantastic. — Stephen Thompson

Planet Zoo

All I want right now is to make my ostriches happy. Which is to say: Planet Zoo,my favorite zoo simulator, is now on consoles. You build a zoo, you hire staff, you provide food, water and toys. When you obtain your animals, it'll tell you what other animals they can share space with. So I made this gigantic enclosure that has ostriches, zebra, buffalo, wildebeest and warthogs. They get enrichment points for all living together — which is a good way of reminding us that we all benefit from being around creatures who are not exactly like us as long as we are compatible and not trying to eat each other. I have ultimate control over the conditions at my zoo and it gives me a sense of control over the world that I normally lack. — Linda Holmes

More recommendations from the Pop Culture Happy Hour newsletter

by Linda Holmes

Rachel Martin, whom many of you will know from her years at Morning Edition, is now hosting an interview/game-show hybrid podcast called Wild Card. The first episode features a conversation with Jenny Slate, and I very much recommend you check it out.

If you follow discourse around public spectacles and unethical television, you may have heard of the story of a Japanese game show in which a man known as Nasubi lived naked and hungry in a small room for more than a year. it. But the new Hulu documentary The Contestant has the benefit of not only Nasubi's participation, but that of producer Toshio Tsuchiya, who ran the show and continues to seem proud of it.

Netflix is continuing to try to make live TV events work; the latest effort finds John Mulaney in Los Angeles for the streamer's comedy festival talking to the many funny people who are in town. They're calling it John Mulaney Presents: Everybody's in L.A. It kicks off tonight (Friday) at 10:00 p.m. Eastern, and then there will be episodes every night next week from Monday to Friday. Will it be good? Don't know. Will Netflix have a better live presentation than it's sometimes had in the past? Hope so!


Beth Noveyadapted the Pop Culture Happy Hour segment "What's Making Us Happy" for the Web. If you like these suggestions, consider signing up for our newsletter to get recommendations every week. And listen to Pop Culture Happy Hour on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Copyright 2024 NPR

Glen Weldon is a host of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. He reviews books, movies, comics and more for the NPR Arts Desk.
Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)
Linda Holmes is a pop culture correspondent for NPR and the host of Pop Culture Happy Hour. She began her professional life as an attorney. In time, however, her affection for writing, popular culture, and the online universe eclipsed her legal ambitions. She shoved her law degree in the back of the closet, gave its living room space to DVD sets of The Wire, and never looked back.
Aisha Harris
Aisha Harris is a host of Pop Culture Happy Hour.