Surf and Turf Reviews

Starship Troopers and Burlesque – A Lopsided Meal

All right, guys. Let me apologize in advance. This week’s two movie “Surf & Turf” review is… a hot mess. 

In case you’re new here, every week, my husband and I choose two movies to watch together. He picks one, I pick the other, and we enjoy a date night. We don’t base our choices off of what the other one is picking, and the pairing can be anything from Wine and Cheese to Wine and burnt hotdog buns. 

This… was a hotdog buns week. Let’s take a look at Starship Troopers and Burlesque and review why these two should not be paired for a double feature movie review.

Starship Troopers Review

This movie fucking rocked

And yes, I know I’m late to the game in realizing that.

If–like me–you’re a Starship Troopers newbie, the movie is a political satire disguised as a humans-versus-aliens war movie.

Don’t get me wrong, the humans-versus-aliens war movie was decent. But the hidden political satire–which Vuk admitted went over his head when he watched this movie as a kid–is really what made Troopers shine. 

The movie takes place in a future where violence supposedly solves everything. Children are handed guns at a young age. Accused criminals are captured, tried, sentenced, and executed on the same day without time or hope for appeal. Even “censored” television footage showcases way more blood than I’d ever expose my child to. 

Considering today’s heated socio-political climate, Starship Troopers felt fresh, original, and impactful. 

About the only negative thing in this movie was the fact that everyone was cheering for Carmen when she wheeled her starship around and very narrowly missed hitting the edges of her parking spot. I know, I know, it’s supposed to show that she can handle the spaceship well in tight spots. But in real life, no one would commend a rookie for showing off on her first day in the driver’s seat. They would tell the rookie to respect the fucking multi-billion dollar vehicle and get her head–and ego–out of her ass. 

That annoying moment aside, this movie kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end, somehow telling a compelling story about friendship, love, and coming-of-age while also holding up as a satirical allegory. 

Would you like to know more?

My favorite take-ways from this movie include: 

  • The unexpected appearance of a young Neil Patrick Harris as one of the tertiary characters. Be still, my heart. 
  •  The beautifully-executed line, “Figuring things out for yourself is the only freedom anyone really has.” 
  • The fact that humans were really the bad guys in this movie, but the propaganda-like telling of the story ensured no one said so directly

Chosen By: Husband

Would Have Paired Perfectly With: Live, Die, Repeat 

Overall Rating: 9.5/10

Burlesque Review

Look, guys. Sometimes, you just have to be woman enough to say, “I made a mistake.” 

That’s what happened with Burlesque. 

The worst thing is that I’ve seen this movie before, back in college. I remembered it being powerful and strong and heartbreaking. I don’t know if that memory was colored by a few too many “special” fruit punches or if it was just because that was when I was first getting exposed to musicals, but the rewatch on this film was a total let down. 

But let’s talk pros. It’s not like there was nothing good about the movie. There were a couple of things that kept Vuk and me sitting through the whole 2 hours (more than two hours. We have to pause so I can pee. A lot). 

  • Cam Gigandet is hot AF (admittedly, more of a pro for me than for Vuk)
  • The platonic love between Cher’s character and Stanley Tucci’s character was amazing, and there should really be more of this kind of representation in media
  • The burlesque choreography was really pretty, and it gives you a good introduction to what burlesque is (and isn’t)
  • The singers could really sing

So, how is it that this movie, with its all-star cast and heart-warming story, barely held our interest? 

Put simply: it wasn’t really a musical.

Sure, it had lots of music in it, but the music didn’t do anything to further the story. It was just shoved in there–an excuse to show off burlesque costumes and choreography while occasionally featuring their vocal talents. 

The story was… fine. It’s basically the same as Rock of Ages, except set in a burlesque club. It was predictable (and not just because I’d seen it before). The love story was probably the best part of it, and even that felt a bit trite. 

Overall, the whole thing felt like something you’d see on a cruise ship after dinner. It was entertaining, in its own way. But it wasn’t a good movie. 

Sorry, Vuk. My bad. 

Chosen By: Me

Would Have Paired Perfectly With: Rock of Ages or Mean Girls

Overall Rating: 5/10

3 Similarities Between Starship Troopers and Burlesque

Despite the striking differences between Starship Troopers and Burlesque, the two movies had more in common than you might think. Here are three key similarities between these two very different movies. 

Following Your Own Path

In both movies, the main characters are young adults who are trying to figure out their own paths in life.

In Starship Troopers, the main character is a rich, entitled young man who chooses to enter military service despite the fact that his parents threaten to cut him off if he doesn’t follow their dream of going to Harvard. In Burlesque, it’s a young woman who leaves her small-time waitressing job to follow her dream of becoming a singer (and, eventually, a burlesque dancer). 

In both cases, the main characters have to grow throughout the course of the movie in order to become the people they’re supposed to be. Or something like that.

Accidental Promotions

Both movies also use accidental moments to propel their main characters from “rookie” status to “important” status. 

In Starship Troopers, the main character’s many promotions are due largely to the fact that the person who was in that position died in combat and Rico was in the right place at the wrong time. 

Burlesque’s “accidental promotion” was a bit more overt, coming as a result of the fact that Ali’s rival, Nikki, cut the music in the middle of a show and Ali was forced to improvise. Unfortunately, Nikki didn’t realize that Ali was played by Christina Aguilera and was, therefore, shocked when Ali managed to sing her way through the rest of the set.

Who Knew?

Totally Expected “Unexpected Romance”

Both movies have romances as a B-plotline, and in both cases, the romance is set up at the beginning of the movie as “impossible” and then becomes possible in a way that was maybe supposed to be unexpected but was totally expected. 

In Starship Troopers, Rico only enters the federalist service to impress his high school girlfriend, Carmen. Despite the fact that his best friend, Dizzy, is clearly in love with him, Rico has eyes only for Carmen. 

No one is surprised when Carmen dumps Rico shortly after they both enter the federalist service. And despite Rico initially being rude to Dizzy when she joins the same squad he’s in, no one is surprised when he eventually falls in love with her, either. 

In Burlesque, Ali initially thinks that bartender Jack is gay, and when she eventually finds out that he’s straight, it’s because she learns that he’s engaged to a woman following her dream in a different city. Despite this obstacle, Ali eventually wins Jack’s heart, and Jack dumps his fiancé to be with her. 

And once again, no one is surprised

Overall Surf & Turf Rating

The issue with the pairing of Starship Troopers and Burlesque has nothing to do with genres or whether or not they have compatibilities. The issue is that Starship Troopers was fucking amazing and Burlesque was… meh. It was like eating quality escargot–the kind that’s all buttery and melts in your mouth–and then washing it down with a pint of flat soda. 

Double Movie Rating: 6/10. 

Surf and Turf Reviews

The Thing and Trolls: World Tour – A Lesson in Assimilation

For our weekly Two-Movie Tuesday, which I’ve taken to calling our “Surf and Turf” special, my husband and I each pick one movie to watch together. We don’t run the movies by each other first, and sometimes the pairings can get a little… esoteric. That was definitely the case with this week’s line-up, which consisted of the Thing followed by Trolls World Tour

Let’s take a look at each movie individually and then investigate how they did (or did not) work together as a pairing. 

The Thing Review

About 10 minutes into The Thing, I was ready to fall asleep. Other than some guy in a helicopter trying to gun down a dog and a fair amount of casual xenophobia (McReady mixed Norway and Sweden up so much that I’m still not sure which base was actually near them), the opening felt like To Build a Fire. Characters wandered in and out of supposed-Antarctic bases wearing little more than leather jackets, sometimes shrugging them on as they walked outside, and I fully expected the plot to focus on them getting stranded in the cold somewhere. 

It doesn’t help that the only thing I knew about the movie going into it was a single gruesome, poorly-shot picture of the Thing, which I had grabbed from Google in preparation for this review. 

Six years ago, when Vuk and I met, I’d have fallen asleep or started scrolling on my phone during the wearily slow beginning. I’m glad I didn’t, because what followed was a grisly, horrifying mindfuck that was totally worth watching.  Despite being released in the early 80s, the Thing’s sparse setting and lack of CGI’d effects allowed it to hold up over time and still creep me out ever so gently. 

Good choice, Vuk. Solid. 

Chosen By: Husband

Would Have Paired Perfectly With: Gremlins

Overall Rating: 8/10

Trolls World Tour Review

Trolls World Tour was… weird. 

And, honestly, disappointing. 

The first Trolls movie stood out by perfectly pairing beloved music to what was happening in the story. But, despite having a wider arsenal of music at their disposal in Trolls World Tour, this movie missed the mark. They could have done so many cool things with music, but instead seemed to pick songs at random and hammer them awkwardly in place like misshapen Ikea furniture. 

the map was a disappointment

It wasn’t a bad movie. Justin Timberlake still has the voice of an angel. Anna Kendrick still makes the perfect, vivacious Poppy. But the plot was weak, the motivations of the new characters ambiguous, and the music–the driving force behind the original movie–left something to be desired. 

Chosen By: Me

Would Have Paired Perfectly With: Trolls or The Willoughbys

Overall Rating: 4.5/10

3 Similarities Between The Thing and Trolls World Tour

As I mentioned before, this pairing was esoteric. So much so that Vuk all but bet me that I wouldn’t be able to find my requisite 3 similarities to tie the movies together. 

But I did. 

Proving, once again, that women can do anything. #Feminism. 

Here are three (loose) similarities between The Thing and Trolls World Tour. 

The Crazy Old Coot

Although this is a small scene in both movies, it was so strikingly similar that I had to include it as a similarity. Basically, when shit starts to hit the fan, the Old Coot of the civilization loses his goddamn mind and starts destroying stuff. 

In Trolls, it’s played for humor, with Poppy’s dad denying their history and eating the invitation mailed to them by the Queen of Rock. 

It’s less humorous in the Thing when the (scientist? doctor?) realizes any one of them could be possessed by The Thing and begins destroying their communication and transportation to keep from infecting the world. 

I said NO TECHNOLOGY, damn it!

But in both cases, the Old Man sees the end of times on the horizon and decides that destruction of property is the only solution. 

Isolation from The World

Both movies deal with civilizations that have been isolated from the rest of the world for a significant period of time. 

In Trolls, the Pop trolls have been isolated since the six strings of music were separated an uncertain amount of time ago. 

In the Thing, the isolation is due to the main characters being from a scientific research base on Antarctica. 

In both movies, isolation from the rest of the world colors the actions of the characters and is a driving narrative force.


The central theme to both movies is that the antagonistic force is trying to assimilate everything in the world and make it the same. In Trolls, the Queen of Rock is trying to make all trolls Rock n Roll trolls. In The Thing, the monster is trying to make… everything… the thing. 


Of course, Trolls, as a kids movie, sort of hit you over the head with the moral that individuality is good and sameness is lameness. 

The Thing was less didactic, and at the end of the movie, you still can’t be sure that assimilation hasn’t won out. But the thread of assimilation that ran through both movies actually held them together as a combination and kept the pairing from feeling unpalatable. 

Overall Surf & Turf Rating

The Thing and Trolls World Tour made for a strange combination. I’m all for watching something cheerful after something scary, but there was just something unsettling about moving from the gore of The Thing into the acid-trip that was Trolls World Tour. It wasn’t bad. It was just odd, pairing about as well as ice-cold water and circus peanuts (which, incidentally, is what I ate while watching these movies). 

Double Movie Rating: 5/10.