What to stream this weekend: Ariana Grande, 'Wonka,' Garth Brooks, animal queens and 'Poor Things'

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This combination of photos shows promotional art for the films "Poor Things," left, "Wonka," center, and the Netflix series "The Gentlemen." (Searchlight/Warner Bros./Netflix via AP)

A new album from Ariana Grande and Garth Brooks taking viewers behind the scenes to the opening of his bar in Nashville are some of the new television, movies, music and games headed to a device near you.

Also among the streaming offerings worth your time as selected by The Associated Press’ entertainment journalists: John Cena starring in the film comedy “Ricky Stanicky,” the debut of the admired Atlus' video game Unicorn Overlord, and Emma Stone's “Poor Things” lands on Hulu.

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— Just in time for the Academy Awards, Yorgos Lanthimos’ “Poor Things” is on Hulu now. At the Oscars, it’s nominated for 11 awards, including best picture, best actress for Emma Stone and numerous nods for its fantastical craft. In the Victorian-set film, adapted from Alasdair Gray’s 1992 novel, Stone plays Bella Baxter, a woman brought to life by a mad scientist (Willem Dafoe) with a childlike brain and an adult body. In her review, AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr called “Poor Things” “among the year’s most sumptuous visual delights.”

— While he’s off wrestling sand worms in “Dune: Part 2,” in theaters, Timothée Chalamet’s last box-office hit, “Wonka,” arrived Friday on Max. Fashioned as a musical prequel to the Roald Dahl-scripted 1971 original, Paul King’s film stars Chalamet as a young, wide-eyed Wonka setting out to establish his candy empire. Though the film benefits greatly from Chalamet’s charisma and King’s “Paddington”-like designs, in my review I wrote that the film “is lively but too neutered to do Dahl justice.”

— In “Ricky Stanicky,” a trio of friends have long relied on a made-up pal named Ricky Stanicky for excuses to keep them out of trouble with their spouses. When their families get suspicious, the three friends (Zac Efron, Jermaine Fowler, Andrew Santino) hire a struggling actor known as “Rock Hard” Rod (John Cena) to impersonate the fictional Stanicky. The film, directed by Peter Farrelly, debuts Thursday on Prime Video. ( Read AP's review here.)

AP Film Writer Jake Coyle


— Four years ago, Ariana Grande was switching up “Positions.” Five years ago, she changed the language around breakups with “Thank U, Next.” Then there were the earlier albums: “Sweetener,” “Dangerous Woman,” “My Everything,” and “Yours Truly.” And now, there is “eternal sunshine.” Grande has returned to her rightful place atop pop music’s throne with a new full-length release. Of course, absence makes the heart grow fonder: her lead single “Yes, And?” brought her into new sonic territory — house-informed pop music — and immediately shot up to No. 1. The only thing that could make it better? A Mariah Carey remix, which quickly followed. ( Read AP's review here.)

— When he is not producing with Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, Lorde, Florence and the Machine, Clairo and many, many others, Jack Antonoff fronts the New Jersey band Bleachers. The group’s self-titled fourth studio album is a continuation of their previous work: ascendant pop-rock, deeply indebted to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street band (the saxophones that kickoff the single “Modern Girl” alone are evidence enough.) It’s good time live band music for those aching to hear another side of Antonoff’s work.

Kim Gordon, known for her work in the pioneering noise rock band Sonic Youth, is preparing to release her second solo album, “The Collective” — an exercise in no wave modernity. The album is stacked with spoken-word vocals (known as sprechgesang to those with their pinkies extended), placed atop explosive and asymmetrical production — like the hip-hop beats and glass shattering sounds of the near-nu metal “Bye Bye," or on the album's best track, “I’m A Man,” a gothic assault on traditional images of masculinity under late capitalism. Decades later, and forever, Gordon's art is not for the faint of heart.

— Moor Mother, the musical moniker of Afrofuturist poet-artist Camae Ayewa, has always considered Black history and Black music history in her work — creating albums that grapple with diasporic realities while entertaining listeners with their beauty and discomfort. On Friday she returned with a fifth studio album, “The Great Bailout,” an experimental album that examines the ever-present effects of British colonialism — and the relationship between displacement and liberation. There are gorgeous moments here. Strings crescendo beneath sweet, almost whispered harmonies – interrupted by her rich, deep voice loud in the mix, detailing some of the effects of slavery — as in the first single “Guilty” featuring Lonnie Holley & Raia Was.

AP Music Writer Maria Sherman


— All hail the queens. A new docuseries on National Geographic follows female leaders of the animal kingdom. Narrated by Oscar-winner Angela Bassett, the seven-episode series was filmed over four years in 12 countries by a female-led production team. Animal queendoms filmed include insects, orcas, hyenas and lions. The seventh episode focuses on those women who dedicate their lives to documenting wildlife and contributing to conservation efforts, as natural history is typically a male-dominated field. “Queens” aired Monday on National Geographic and is streaming on Hulu and Disney+.

— Theo James stars in Guy Ritchie’s new TV series “The Gentlemen,” a spin-off of the 2019 film of the same name. James plays Eddie, whose late father has bequeathed him the title of Duke, along with a run-down country estate that he views as a money pit and a major burden. Eddie is thrown for a loop when he discovers his homestead has also operated a marijuana-growing business for years, and he’s inherited that, too. “The Gentlemen” is on Netflix.

— “Friends in Low Places” is arguably Garth Brooks’ best song, as it never fails to get people to smile, sing along and have a great time. That’s the vibe Brooks is hoping for with his Friends in Low Places Bar and Honky-Tonk on Thursday, which opened this week in Nashville. A “Friends in Low Places” docuseries about the making of the bar is now on Prime Video. Cameras rolled as Brooks, his wife, Tricia Yearwood (who has hosted a popular Food Network show and knows a thing or two about hospitality), and their team created this new business.

— A critically acclaimed BBC dramedy called “Boarders” is coming to the U.S. via Tubi. The show is about five Black teens from the inner city who receive scholarships to St. Gilberts, one of the oldest and most posh boarding schools in Britain. Adjusting to change is never easy and adjusting to St. Gilbert’s is even harder. All six episodes are on Tubi now.

Alicia Rancilio


— Who is The Thaumaturge? Basically a miracle worker, according to the dictionary. In this particular case, he’s Wiktor Szulski, and he has the power to detect “salutors” — supernatural creatures that prowl the streets of 1905 Warsaw. Wiktor can help some of the locals by exorcising their demons, but he can also summon salutors to help him fight the imperial Russian soldiers who control the city. Polish studio Fool’s Theory, led by veterans of the beloved Witcher series, describes The Thaumaturge as a role-playing game with “morally ambiguous choices,” and its blend of alternate history and metaphysical mystery looks intriguing. It's now on PC.

— Atlus’ Unicorn Overlord is the early front-runner for title of the year. The protagonist is an exiled prince named Alain who’s fighting to reclaim his empire from the backstabbing General Valmore. Alain may have lost his throne, but he does have a magical ring that helps him recruit allies — humans and elves, angels and beasts — across a sprawling fantasy world called Fevrith. Unicorn Overload comes from Japan’s Vanillaware, the developer of 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, and fans of that cult favorite will recognize the studio’s blend of colorful storytelling and real-time tactical battles. Saddle up on PlayStation 5/4, Xbox X/S or Nintendo Switch.

Lou Kesten


Catch up on AP’s entertainment coverage here: https://apnews.com/entertainment.

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