POPCORN: Dude, you been holdin’ out on me?  

CINEMA: Not surprisingly, I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.

POPCORN: This review for the Harley Quinn movie, man. Dude’s just rippin’ on it, like he ain’t been laid in years and he’s takin’ it out on the movie. You got a second gig you haven’t told me about?

CINEMA: Is it the one where he said the movie shouldn’t exist? That money shouldn’t have been raised for it, the screenplay should have never been filmed . . . ?

POPCORN: – and it was hard to stay awake cuz the movie was like a dead thing. Yeah, that’s the one. Way to shut me outta the review, dude. Thought we were friends.

CINEMA: Well, that wasn’t me, pal. However, I read that review –

POPCORN: Bet you agreed, huh?

CINEMA: As a matter of fact –

POPCORN: It’s all that NPR you listen to, man. It rots your brain so you can’t just enjoy stuff like the rest of us –

CINEMA: – I really liked that movie, as unlikely as that might be. Don’t you remember, on the drive home, when I said –

POPCORN: – it’s always gotta have, like, deep meaning and themes and shit –

CINEMA: – that it was hyperactive and gleeful, full of loud, manic energy –

POPCORN: – and, like, the second there’s any boobs or somebody gettin’ hit in the head with a baseball bat, it’s all over for you –

CINEMA: – and Margot Robbie was both more realistic and more unhinged here than she was in Suicide Squad? You don’t remember any of that?

POPCORN: – wait, no. So you actually liked the movie? Like, this wasn’t your review?

CINEMA: No, that wasn’t me, and I really liked Birds of Prey. It might surprise you, but sometimes I actually enjoy things that aren’t meant to have a deeper meaning . . . at least on those rare occasions when I can tear myself away from Masterpiece Theater.

POPCORN: Uh . . . see? Like, maybe that’s you being sarcastic, I dunno.  

CINEMA: You imbecile, I don’t have some kind of superiority complex. Sometimes I just want to be carried away on the wave of a good action movie, no matter how many books-with-big-words I’ve read.

POPCORN: Like when that Paul dude saw the trailer for Hobbs and Shaw and said he got an action boner . . .  

CINEMA: Like that, sure. I’m telling you, I don’t know what it was . . . I went into this movie with really low expectations –

POPCORN: Secret of life, dude. Right there.

CINEMA: – because I absolutely hated Suicide Squad. Like most of the DC movies, it was overblown, overly complicated, and far too serious. I was a bit concerned at first, with the nonlinear way this story unfolded, rewinding at key moments to explain why something matters or to tell us about a character –

POPCORN: Tarantino’s up in everything, man.

CINEMA: – but the kinetic, kind of fractured aspect of it ended up working for me. It matched the cracked nature of Harley Quinn’s persona. As for her soon-to-be teammates, we got just enough of their histories in flashback –

POPCORN: The actual Birds of Prey? Huntress and Black Canary and the Rosie Perez cop chick?

CINEMA: – yes! – but not in the ham-fisted way they tried to do it in Batman v Superman. In this case, the story keeps moving –

POPCORN: Harley cuts her hair and blows up that chemical plant –

CINEMA: – because all of this is taking place after Harley breaks up with the Joker, and a girl’s gotta move on. No more codependent relationship for her – and she used to be a psychologist, so she’d know. The drawback to climbing out from under his shadow, of course, is that the spotlight is on her now –

POPCORN: – and that chick’s got a lotta enemies –

CINEMA: Exactly. Not the least being Roman Sionis, the flamboyantly psychotic gangster gleefully played by Ewan McGregor –

POPCORN: That dude was having a blast playin’ crazy.

CINEMA: Yeah, he was, and – after Margot Robbie – he’s the next best reason to see the movie. He’s comical, but intense too, playing everything with a reassuring wink –

POPCORN: Pretty sure Huntress was winkin’ at me, dude.  

CINEMA: – and the whole movie has that same sense of chaotic abandon. Despite being set in gloomy old Gotham, it’s full of light and motion, and not just from Harley tossing glitter bombs and colored smoke –

POPCORN: Those fight scenes, dude –

CINEMA: Oh yeah, those were great. They seemed more realistic than usual for a superhero movie, with a greater reliance on practical stunt effects than green-screen madness –

POPCORN: Choreographed like a motherfucker.

CINEMA: Right.

POPCORN: Like somebody actually had to learn to fight for those scenes.

CINEMA: There were some nice touches too. For example, in the middle of a full-on melee, when Harley gives Black Canary a hair tie  to keep her hair out of her face. Classic. The movie was self-conscious in the same way that Deadpool was, but not quite as satirical –

POPCORN: Not as emotional as a Marvel flick –

CINEMA: – nope, but more than you get with most DC movies. It’s like a breakup movie, but also kind of a girl power anthem.

POPCORN: Yeah, these chicks are badass.

CINEMA: Definitely, and the whole thing seems less purposely posed than that battle scene against Thanos in Endgame – you know the one –

POPCORN (cheesy announcer’s voice): It’s the Women of Marvel.

CINEMA: Right.

POPCORN: Alright, then. So that review totally wasn’t you then.

CINEMA (pointing to something on his phone): No, look. That’s the guy there.

POPCORN: Oh yeah. Dude’s just mad cuz he can’t grow any hair. He probably doesn’t like anything, especially badass chicks.

CINEMA: Maybe, or maybe it’s just time that you and I both liked the same movie.

POPCORN: Maybe, dude.

CINEMA: Don’t get used to it, though. Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve got some Masterpiece Theater to catch up on . . .

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