Half in the Bag is a movie review web series by RedLetterMedia. It features Mike Stoklasa and Jay Bauman as "Mike and Jay," employees of Lightning Fast VCR Repair who pass the time avoiding work by chatting about new movies they've seen.
The framing tale has Mike and Jay attempting to fleece Mr. Plinkett (Rich Evans), a clueless and misanthropic senior who hires them to fix his VCR. Instead, Mike and Jay just sit around drinking beer and discussing movies while billing Plinkett for work they're not doing. Over the course of the series, the pair become embroiled in all manner of ridiculous high jinks, yet nothing ever seems to distract them from getting down into detailed discussions about modern films.
The show has featured numerous guest critics, including Tim Heidecker, Samurai Cop star Matt Hannon, a self-appointed Milwaukee superhero known as The Watchman, and Macaulay Culkin. Other members of RedLetterMedia occasionally drop in playing one-off strangers with a paper-thin excuse to talk movies.
Half in the Bag gives examples of:
- Accidental Misnaming: Mike in the After Earth review refers to Will Smith's wife as Jada Plinkett Smith, causing Jay to give the appropriate reaction.
- Much to Jay's amusement, Mike repeatedly refers to Professor X as Picard during the Logan review.Jay: Just call him Picard it's fine!
- Much to Jay's amusement, Mike repeatedly refers to Professor X as Picard during the Logan review.
- The Alcoholic: Drinking beer is a major part of the show's motif. The opening title includes a popcorn bag filled with empty beer bottles. Mike and Jay usually have a beer in hand while discussing the film, and the set is covered with empty beer bottles. In their "Troll 2 and Best Worst Movie" episode, they get ticketed for having too many empty beer bottles beside their VCR.
- Alternative Character Interpretation: In-Universe: Adam Sandler has actually been pulling a Springtime for Hitler with his movies.
- Alternate Identity Amnesia: This is the explanation of Mike occasionally describing movies as a hackneyed movie reviewer. He mentions that he frequently blacks out for about 15 seconds during which which all he hears is a loud ringing noise.
- And You Thought It Would Fail: In episode 117 (Box Office Numbers Crunching, the one where they find every movie available at the theaters so uninteresting, they decide to just skip it and instead analyze recent box office trends), Mike makes the prediction that 2017 will be the year when the Superhero Film bubble will finally burst. Jay immediately admits that they have been claiming the same for the past few years.
- Annoying Laugh: Rich Evans. His laugh is referenced multiple times within the episodes as quite possibly the worst thing you'll ever hear.
- Anything but That!: When Jay shows a poster of Jeff, Who Lives at Home, Mike exclaims, "NO!!! Get that away from me!", then calmly tears the poster into tiny pieces, while Jay deadpans, "Oh, no" in the most emotionless tone possible. Then eats the pieces.
- As You Know: Played straight and lampshaded in Episode 73 by Future Mike and Future Jay, who give an Info Dump about the Bad Future where Carol took over the world.Mike: Wait, why are we telling each other this? We know all this information. What is this, X-Men: Days of Future Past?
- Asshole Victim: Anytime something bad happens to Jay and Mike, they basically deserved it. Plinkett began as this, but has gradually devolved into The Chew Toy as the duo continues to exploit him.
- Ass Pull:
- Invoked and parodied in the Interstellar review, where Mike and Jay floats around in a house on Lake Michigan, and wonders how they are going to watch films to talk about under the current circumstances. It is justified in a deliberately half-assed way, as a folder of boot-leg DVDs of unreleased films and a DVD-player randomly washes into the living room with the seawater, enabling them to somehow watching Interstellar on Plinkett's totally smashed TV. Both of them point out at great length how incredibly convenient it all is, before Mike ends the segment with an exasperated "Let's just talk about the movies, okay?"
- In later episode Jay asks how they getting electricity when the house should obviously be disconnected, but Mike doesn't even bother to Hand Wave it and quickly changes the subject.
- Author Appeal:
- Mike considers The Rocketeer an underrated gem, and occasionally includes a clip as an examples of correct storytelling. He eventually made it official by discussing it on an episode of Re:View.
- He's also quite biased towards Kirsten Dunst.
- While on-screen As Himself, Mike's brand of humor revolves around Bad "Bad Acting", Anti-Humor and lampshading the trappings of his own show, Gary Shandling-style.
- Mike is a massive fan of Star Trek, and takes any opportunity to reference it or compare another movie to it. Jay will often roll his eyes whenever this happens.
- Jay acknowledges that he frequently brings up Gremlins 2: The New Batch as an example of a sequel that puts a fresh twist on its original premise.
- Bad "Bad Acting":
- This is Mike's signature comedic style. Jay does this, too, but he's not as good at pretending to be a bad actor as Mike is.
- Subverted and Played for Laughs in their Dark Knight Rises review:(Mike answers Plinkett's phone)
Man: Is this Harry S. Plinkett?
Jay: Pretend to be Plinkett!
Mike: (doing the Mr. Plinkett voice) Yes, this is Harry S. Plinkett, who is this?
Jay: That is the worst Plinkett impression I've ever heard. He's going to think you're a fake!
- Bait-and-Switch: A common running gag consists of them building up the "plot" of the episode to the movie they're about to review (which the audience knows since it's in the title), but then mention the movie in a completely different context and proceed to review it.Jay: "Speaking of hungry, have you seen The Hung—"
Mike: "We should now talk about the recent films we've seen."
(The Hunger Games trailer rolls)
- Also, in their review of The Last Stand:[Jay explains the premise]
Jay: Mike, what did you think of The Last— movie we saw?
- Used in a different way in their Iron Man 3 and Pain and Gain review. Instead, it immediately voices their general opinion on them.Mike: Seen any good movies lately?
Jay: Yeah. And I saw Pain and Gain.
- Lampshaded in the A Good Day to Die Hard review:Mike: "Speaking of reference, have you seen movie?"
- Also, in the X-Men: Days of Future Past review:Mike: [The movie] marks the return of director Bryan Singer, a man who was recently accused of making two really good X-Men movies.
- Also done in their review of The Mummy (2017):
- Also, in their review of The Last Stand:
- Big Bad: George Lucas fills this role here also, with requisite Lampshade Hanging from Mike and Jay, of course.
- Big "WHAT?!":
Rich: (flabbergasted) It was so distracting!
- Rich's reaction in the Rogue One review to Jay saying the Conspicuous CGI Tarkin wasn't all that bad.
- Mike does a huge one in the Wonder Woman review when Jay tells him that the film is getting great reviews.
- Bile Fascination:
- Invoked in-universe. As much as Jay and Mike want to hate Things for being an abject failure of a movie, they love it precisely for the very reasons why it is so terrible.
- Mike also mentions this as being the reason why they went to go see Transcendence.
- Biting-the-Hand Humor: If you invite these guys to a fan expo, expect to be blasted with both barrels.
- Black Comedy Rape: In one episode, the hosts accidentally create a robot while trying to fix Plinkett's DVD player and VCR. Then another robot comes in and rapes the first robot to death.Jay: "I never thought I'd be so happy about rape!"
- Brand X: The bottles on the title card are labeled "CHEAP BEER". Averted within the show proper, in which Mike and Jay are quite frequently seen to be drinking Wisconsin's own Spotted Cow.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Evan Richards, attorney at law, is specialized in this.Evan Richards: Well kids, my name is Evan Richards, attorney at law, and I specialize in slip and fall, asbestos and groin injury cases. So please, tell me: how did you slip and fall into asbestos, thus injuring your groin?
- Brick Joke: A literal one in the first season. Throughout episode 13, Mr. Plinkett's vase remains intact despite the fact that bricks are thrown through the window where the vase sits atop a tetering table. The vase is destroyed intentionally by Mike in the next episode.
- Broken Record: The "Red Letter Media Talks About Prometheus" segment. Mike asks endless questions "Why did they...(x20) Whhhhhhhyyyyyy?". Jay stares vacantly into the distance and says precisely nothing.
- Butt-Monkey: Plinkett has essentially been flanderized into this trope on Half in the Bag. He's still creepy and a pervert, but he's generally portrayed as ineffectual. He's suffering from amnesia, and is abused by Jay and Mike on a regular basis, up to attempted murder. He even shows some form of genuine affection for them in some episodes. He did violently murder two men in the Pixels review, thinking they were Mike and Jay.
- In the review for Jack and Jill, Mike uses Plinkett's memetic line, "you may not have noticed, but your brain did," complete with the identical "child playing with molding clay" image.
- In the Transcendence/The Amazing Spider Man 2 review, Jay asks Mike why they're still keeping Mr. Plinkett in their store, even though they're getting nothing out of it. Soon after a big black hole "Plot Hole" appears on the screen, referencing Plinkett's Star Trek: Generations review.
- In the Avengers: Age of Ultron episode, Mike references "making the guy run game". It recalls the Previously Recorded livestream of QWOP, one of the few games Mike participated.
- In the review for Independence Day: Resurgence, Jay says Resurgence made him want to get a refund, similar to a joke he made for The Matrix Reloaded. He immediately points this out after making the joke.
- In the Annabelle: Creation episode, sitting on the duo's desk is a VHS with the label The Day the Clown Cried, which they had previously stolen from Rich and Jack's safe at the end of the Pixels review.
- While they have a few questions about Avengers: Endgame, it's not at a "Prometheus level" - recalling their very long list video from that movie.
- The Cameo:
- Captain Obvious: Frequently used by Mike to introduce movies, usually ones he doesn't like.
- Cat Scare: Used endlessly in the Paranormal Activity 4 review, chiefly to make a point and mock the film at the same time.
- Mike's "That's right, Jay!" shows up almost Once an Episode, and is often used alongside Bad "Bad Acting".
- Mike, in his lawyerly way, will always ask, "Are you suggesting that...", as a lead-up to Jay openly accusing the filmmakers of being hacks.
- Whenever Mike gives an (honest) unpopular opinion on a movie, Jay will respond with an understated "Oh my god..."
- Celebrity Paradox:
- Police officer Rich mentions the video of "that guy who reacts to the Robocop trailer" which features actor Rich Evans.
- In a world where Mike and Jay frequently discuss the Star Wars movies, neither of them seems to recognize that Plinkett's new roommate is Emperor Palpatine, force powers and all.
- Chekhov's Skill: In the Interstellar review, when Plinkett's house is sinking to the ground of Lake Michigan (It Makes Sense in Context), it is randomly revealed that Mr. Plinkett used to be a hot air balloon pilot. Mike replies with an exaggerated "I wonder how that will come into play later!".
- The Chew Toy: Plinkett has gradually evolved into this. The show makes light of his age, deteriorating health and senility, and constantly getting killed over and over a la South Park's Kenny only to arise again next month.
- Comically Missing the Point: Jay and Mike spend the first few minutes of the review of "SkyFAIL" bashing the movie for being full of cliches and unrealistic ("Why doesn't the bad guy just shoot M in the face") before the real review cuts in and they say what they really think (they liked it).
- During Mike's Captain Obvious description of White House Down, he concludes, "Thank you, Roland Emmerich! I hope someone shoves a club up your ass!" then giggles out of character.
- Jay finally gets Mike to really laugh (after 45 episodes) during the Haunted House discussion, which segues into a riff on the Seltzer and Friedberg films (ironically, it's about how unfunny their jokes are). Jay is clearly taken aback by how hard Mike is laughing, even starting to ask him "Did your brain...", before being overcome with laughter himself.
- In the review of Star Trek Into Darkness, Mike laughed the hardest he ever has in a video... when Jay refers to the villain as Benedict Cabbagepatch. Both Jay and Rich react to his sudden burst with wonder.
- Mike gets Jay to corpse during the 2014 Summer Movie Preview when he says that Michael Bay's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014) film is so bad it won't be screened for audiences.
- Mike's geeky diatribe about Mandarin from Iron Man 3 during the Man of Steel review got Jay and Rich to giggle incessantly.
- Mike manages to make Jay crack up talking about The Penis Movie.
- Mike and Jay both start to giggle incessantly at the beginning of their review for The Revenant.
- You can tell how hard Rich Evans is trying not to crack up when he fails to hang up the phone and knocks it off the table at the end of the 2016 Oscars episode.
- Jay manages to get a truly legendary laugh out of Mike at the end of episode 105.
- In the Rogue One review, the fake Nerdgasm by Mike, Rich and Jay over the references in the film to previous films (AT-STs!!! AT-STs!!!) results in all three laughing their asses off mid-joke, with Rich being particularly loud. The reference to Grand Moff Tarkin's Obvious CGI Uncanny Valley - by having the The Clone Wars version of Tarkin inserted into the trailer - results in them laughing again.
- Jay (and then Mike) lose it in the outro of episode 122 after Mike goes into gruesome detail about Mr. Plinkett's lack of oral hygiene and finishes by turning to main camera and awkwardly saying "That's the end."
- Couch Gag: Plinkett knocking over the beers at the start of each episode."Half in the baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaag!"
"I don't even know who I am anymore."
"Jay and Mike are frauds."
"Hey, ain'tcha got anythin' better to do?"
"Why are you even watching this shit?"
"Who do these guys think they are? Rick Berman?"
"Everyone always complains about things on the internet!"
"I just shit in a coffee can."
"Whatever happened to Meg Ryan? oh right, she died"
"I'd buy THAT for a dollar!"
- Credits Gag: One of the few reuses of a comedic gag by RLM that isn't run into the ground, they seem to do this once every couple years: it appears in the reviews for The Cabin in the Woods, Chappie, and Wonder Woman.
- Damned by Faint Praise: You can tell they didn't like a movie when Mike introduces it in the most generic way possible.
- Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy:
- Deadpan Snarker: Mike Stoklasa appears to be this in Real Life, and it's a trait that all his characters share, but especially Mike on "Half In The Bag". He's usually able to get his co-host Jay to laugh without even cracking a smile himself, and any time he's called upon to show any kind of emotion, he always does it in a very phony and insincere way. He also likes to say things that he knows will piss off his audience (i.e. Dr. Seuss is overrated and The Muppets are for babies).
- The Dog Bites Back: During the A Good Day to Die Hard review:Plinkett: I'm just watching the end of the movie on my iPad... These things are great. You know all about it - yours is in my TV. (chuckles) I sure loved watching the same movie 68 times tonight. Maybe that'll teach you fucks not to LIE to me.
- Doorstopper: The Prometheus box set promises to answer all of Mike and Jay's questions... which is why it comes in 47 discs.
- Driven to Suicide: Mike's reaction to finding out The Zookeeper is a real movie and not just a fake trailer is to pull out a shotgun and flatly declare "I'll go first."
- Dull Surprise: Mike and Jay's criticism of Ryan Gosling in Blade Runner 2049, to the point that they made a separate parody video of Rich Evans auditioning for the role and staring blank faced in each scene, causing the casting director to ask for someone with less charisma.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- Many early episodes cover movies which would be far more at home in Best of the Worst... which hadn't started running yet. Now that it has, Half in the Bag focuses almost exclusively on current releases.
- Half in the Bag also used to review the original versions of remakes they were reviewing for comparative purposes, but they now reserve this for a Re:View episode which is usually uploaded a few days prior to their Half in the Bag episode covering the remake.
- The very first episode shows Mike and Jay taking a very cavalier attitude toward revealing spoilers, but in most later episodes they are very good about spoiler warnings and listing timecodes for viewers to skip past the spoiler-heavy discussions. (Every once in a while, if a movie has been out for a while and/or it's doing terribly at the box office, they won't bother.)
- Early episodes are somewhat infamous for Jay's changing facial hair, starting out with his Amish-looking beard before getting rid of it and spending several episodes clean shaven before settling into his longstanding full beard. Jack also shows up sporting a beard and head-hair, a far cry from his completely clean-shaven look.
- Early episodes are shorter, with some as quick as 11 minutes. The show would later stabilize at around 30 minutes per episode.
- In early episodes, Mike and Jay frequently address the audience directly like show hosts, while later episodes have them play more into the framing narrative and only address each other.
- The first season includes several episodes following Mike and Jay attending a convention. They stopped doing this going forward.
- Elephant in the Living Room: Invoked by name reviewing Captain Marvel. They announce that they pretty much have to talk about Brie Larson and her divisive public opinions on diversity among movie reviewers.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Jay, who's spent most of the series exploiting, belittling, abusing, and even attempting to murder Plinkett, objects to Mike trying to take advantage of his recent meth addiction. Though how much of this is due to genuine concern or because the story demanded it is unknown.
- Fake Guest Star: Played for laughs with Rich Evans.
- Fat and Skinny: Mike is tall and stocky, while Jay is fairly short and thin, though not as much in some of the early episodes.
- Full-Name Basis: As with other RedLetterMedia projects, Rich Evans is credited as and often referred to by his full name, in contrast to the other members.
- Funny Background Event: When Mike and Jay sign off in their the 2011 Toronto Comic Con footage, Jake Lloyd is visible in the background, photobombing Mike by waving his arms at the camera.
- Gainax Ending: The end of the RoboCop (2014) reboot review, where the cop played by Rich Evans flies into space and lands on the planet of Howard the Duck, which is his favorite film. Also doubles as a Brick Joke.
- Genre Deconstruction: Mike and Jay talk about Blue Ruin and how it deconstructs revenge movies.
- Genre Throwback: In the review of Red Tails, Stoklasa deconstructs this, asserting that making a film a throwback to 1940s wartime B movies actually hurt the film overall, because, while the subject matter and presentation were familiar and nostalgic, other, less positive tropes (cliched characters, illogical plotlines, caricatured and demonized villains...) were not excised and had already been a part of the genre from the beginning. He further asserts that this makes Red Tails an uncomfortably offensive film because "we know better."
- Guilty Pleasure: Mike felt that Annabelle was a flawed cynically-made movie, but managed to get some enjoyment out of it.
- Hard-Work Montage: Jay has one of his day-to-day tasks since he's not quite as interested in talking about Star Wars than Mike and the director of The People Versus George Lucas.
- Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: Spoofed in the Jurassic World episode, wherein Jack and Rich announce they're leaving for E3 together - and then take great pains to point out that they'll be sleeping in separate hotel rooms - even though nobody asked and (it being Mike and Jay) nobody cares.
- Heroic BSoD: When Jay and Mike note the endless sequels coming in 2013, such as A Good Day to Die Hard, Fast & Furious 6, The Hangover Part III', and so on.
- Hiss Before Fleeing: George Lucas does this when scared off by the original release of Star Wars.
- Hypocritical Humor: "Did you just say black? (To Rhoda) How does it feel to sit so close to a racist? (Beat) Anyways, the movie was directed by black filmmaker Clayton Prince ..."
- I Am Not Shazam: In-universe example. In the review of Zaat, the duo keep referring to Dr. Leopard as "Zaat".
- I Got a Rock: Mr. Plinkett leaves nuts as Halloween candy - nuts as in nuts and bolts. At some point, he eats them all himself.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: In episode 40 of Half in the Bag, Mike and Jay goes out seeing Paranormal Activity 4 wondering how bad it could be. Gilligan Cut to "2 hours later", where they sit in the repair shop and pour up vodka shots.
- Insistent Terminology: When Mike and Jay discuss the Oscar nominations, they become very annoyed that Krampus did not receive a nomination for "Sound Design," even though they felt it was much more worthy than those films that did, but was ignored because of the stigma against horror and fantasy films. The problem is, the Academy Awards do not have an Oscar for "Sound Design". The Oscar in question is the one for Sound Editing, not design, although to be fair this designation is so confusing to laypeople it has been explained on-air at more than one Oscar ceremony.note This is lampshaded when a subtitle reading *There is no Academy Award(R) for "Sound Design" appears on the screen each time one of them mentions "sound design".
- Instant A.I.: Just Add Water!: Connecting a VCR and a DVD player apparently creates an intelligent robot that wants to kill everyone.
- Jump Scare: Their main criticism of Paranormal Activity 4 is that it consists almost entirely of these. The review includes some Jump Scares itself to spoof this practice.
- Just a Machine: Jay states he'll never have any emotional connection to robots because they're just objects.
- Kayfabe: Defied. While the show nominally centers around Mike and Jay, two amoral VCR repairmen, the duo barely even try to conceal the fact that they're Mike Stoklasa and Jay Bauman, two internet sensations and indie filmmakers. Likewise, any additional members of RedLetterMedia are introduced as fictional characters with only the barest of pretense.
- In their review of The Amazing Spider-Man, frequent guest reviewer Rich Evans is introduced as a comic book store owner they totally never met; since Rich was a major comics fan and expert, he had to be on the show for his insights, but would make no sense even for Half in the Bag for Mr. Plinkett to join in on the review. This becomes a Running Gag as Rich is then a homeless person they never met, a construction worker they never met, a police officer they never met, and so on. Ironically, they do meet comic book store owner Rich again for the review of The Amazing Spider Man 2.
- For Man of Steel, Mike asks Rich about how as a construction worker if he had any reactions to the buildings collapsing. Rich replied, "Construction worker...? Oh, I'm a construction worker!"
- Jack joins Rich (in sort of a Previously Recorded reunion) in some Kayfabe for the Avengers: Age of Ultron review. They stick around for the Pixels review.
- In the Rogue One episode, they have Rich being a building inspector, but Mike just shuts it down and demands they get on with the review. At the end, Rich forgets momentarily who he's supposed to be, as in Man of Steel.
- Knight of Cerebus: Jocelyn Ridgely seems to be their go-to actress for playing these characters. When she first appears in the show, it marks the beginning of a lengthy story arc which culminates in George Lucas attempting to destroy every VCR and kill every VCR repairman in the world, so that nobody will ever be able to watch the original edits of the original Star Wars trilogy, which were only ever released on VHS (at least, for the purposes of the story).
- Lack of Empathy: Jay and Mike. They almost never feel... gooeelt? Gooey-elt? Gweelt? Guilt— no, that doesn't sound right.
- Lame Pun Reaction: As part of the show's general Anti-Humor schtick, Mike's terrible puns will often receive an humorously awkward pause, groan, or ironic production effect. In a 2011 episode, Mike announces that "the Pun Police" are coming over the sound of a siren. In another episode, after saying that he's "hungry for more Hunger Games," he immediately vomits.
- The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: During the review of A Haunted House, Jay talks about Scary Movie as the template for the "horrible plague" of the modern era of spoof movies, and examples of movies that fits the template such as Epic Movie, Date Movie, Vampires Suck, and Meet the Spartans are shown on the screen. The last of the "horrible spoof movies" examples is I Am Sam.
- Last-Second Word Swap: Mike (in full Sarcasm Mode) sending up Fan Dumb:I call him Javier BOREDOM... I call him Daniel BOREDOM.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When Mr. Plinkett announces he's going to inflate a hot air balloon with his farts, Mike seems to step out of character, and moans depressedly As Himself, "Oh, my God... this is my life", then adds, "Really? This is where the show has gone?"
- Mid-Review Sketch Show: This is the general style of the show. Each episode begins with the Framing Device, then transitions into the reviews, then transitions back into the Framing Device. The sketches themselves are often openly parodying the trope, in the sense that they are deliberately hackneyed and self-deprecating.
- Mistaken for GayJay: I'm thinking of getting rid of my beard.Mike: I didn't know you had a beard. What's her name?
- Motive Rant: Rich the comic book guy gets a pretty epic one when he explains why he stole Mike's Horse Ninja idea:Mike: What??? How is that possible?Rich: You see Mike... you've stumbled upon the last unmade idea. A racehorse possessed by the soul of an enchanted ninja, seeking revenge upon an evil corporation hellbent on weaponizing horse sperm.Jay: It's pretty fucking good.Rich: It's the last idea in the world... and it's all mine. I'm gonna take this shit to Michael Bay or Mark Webb or Brett Ratner and we're going to make it into a fucking movie. A god awful fucking movie that people are gonna see in droves. Nothing can stop me now. Soon you will see the world as I see it, as a fat shlub with terrible ideas. Now my terrible ideas can become larger, dumber, even more terrible ideas. Soon the world will know my wrath. The standards in Hollywood are so low right now, that even I can make a movie. A fucking horse ninja movie. And we're gonna shove Scarlet Johanson in there, just because man, who gives a fuck? We're gonna shove her in the movie and give her random lines, her name's gonna be "Love Interest" and she's gonna fuck a horse.
- Mondegreen: During the Rogue One review, their delivery of "Grand Moff Tarkin" often sounds like "Grandma Tarkin."
- Mundane Object Amazement: In one episode, Mike is amazed when Jay shows him that the video he wanted to watch is actually a piece of pre-VHS technology called a book.
- Mythology Gag:
- Nerdgasm: The crew often fake this, most recently Rogue One.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: How Mike and Jay get their store back. Plinkett mistakenly kills the owners of the game store.
- The Nicknamer: Mike does this a lot, such as calling Channing Tatum "Magic Mike" during the White House Down review.
- Noodle Incident: "Remember that time when we misplaced [Plinkett's] kitchen?"
- "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: During the Half in the Bag review of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance they have to put "This is REALLY in the movie" below one of the weirder scenes included by the directors of Crank.
- Nutritional Nightmare: In the episode where Mike and Jay review The Wolf of Wall Street, there's a subplot about Mr. Plinkett trying to intentionally have a heart attack through eating a lot of greasy food (mostly bacon burgers with added butter).
- Obfuscating Insanity: While most of the time Plinkett comes across as genuinely lost and senile, he occasionally has moments where he seems to be a devious manipulator who just enjoys having Mike and Jay around so he can mess with their minds.
- Of Corpse He's Alive: Mike and Jay carry Plinkett's skeletal corpse to his lawyer to attempt a Weekend at Bernie's ploy. The lawyer doesn't buy it for even a second.
- One Steve Limit: The Dark Knight Rises apparently has characters called Bruce Wayne, Bane, Bruce Bane and Bruce Banner, and they travel to Brisbane to watch basketball. It's very confusing.
- Our Lawyers Advised This Trope: In their review of Jack and Jill they make a very half-hearted one as they make the transition from the review proper to making their case that the movie is basically a scheme to pump the cash from an inflated movie budget into the pockets of Sandler and his friends. Though the first two notes they start to read from their lawyers are themselves libelous (and even in the third, Mike has to change the word "cohorts" to "associates" as he is reading the statement.)
- Overly Long Gag: Part of the show's Signature Style is running lame gags into the ground so hard that they become funny.
- Mike dialing the paranormal investigators' number in the Paranormal Activity 4 review.
- Mike asking Jay which summer movies he has seen which include Elysium, Planes, and Fast & Furious 6 in The Wolverine review. Each one is responded with the same clip of a blunt no from Jay.
- Independence Day: Resurgence has Mike incorrectly title the film, replacing "resurgence" with other "re" words, such as "retribution" and "redemption," for over a minute. When he finally goes to say the correct title, he's actually forgotten what it was.
- In the review of Star Trek Beyond, Jay theorizes that because VCRs are finally going out of production, people who want to keep watching their old VHS tapes will ring the shop's phone off the hook for repairing their old machines. They sit in near complete silence waiting uninterrupted for the phone to ring for nearly fifteen minutes. The phone finally rings with a wrong number.
- Overly Narrow Superlative: In their review for Unfriended:Mike: I can honestly say that Unfriended was the very best horror film set on FaceBook and Skype that I've ever seen.
Jay: I would have to agree with that, yeah.
- Parallel Porn Titles:
- Percussive Maintenance: Mike's favored method of repairing VCR and game consoles, including the use of power drills, hammers and axes.
- Perma-Stubble: Mike's facial hair is usually somewhere between five o'clock shadow and about three days of growth trimmed into the beginning of a beard.
- Pet the Dog: Plinkett of all people literally pets a dog at some point. Okay, it was a VCR he mistook for a dog, but still.
- Poe's Law: In-Universe. Mike and Jay think the trailer of The Zookeeper is a fake movie trailer parody of by-the-numbers comedies starring Kevin James.
- Priceless Ming Vase: Subverted. In the review of Cowboys & Aliens, Plinkett puts out a priceless vase on a flimsy stand while people are throwing bricks with notes responding to Mike and Jay's Captain America: The First Avenger review through his window. The vase is never broken... until the next episode, that is, where the first thing they do is smashing it with a baseball bat without any further comment.
- Product Placement: This trope is frequently discussed and parodied in the Jack and Jill review, especially when outlining its Excuse Plot:Mike: They wanna get Al Pacino in a Dunkin' Donuts commercial.
Jay: Dunkin' Donuts?
Mike: Dunkin' Donuts.
Jay: Did you say Dunkin' Donuts?
Mike: Dunkin' Donuts.
Jay: Oh, so Dunkin' Donuts is in the movie?
Mike: Dunkin' Donuts plays a prominent role in the film.
- Put on a Bus: In the Man of Steel review, Mr. Plinkett is forced to move out of his house since the city is going to pave a highway over his property. Later reviews take place in the Lightning Fast VCR repair shop. However, The Bus Came Back. Mr. Plinkett is revealed to have moved into an apartment that he shares with Palpatine and still calls Mike and Jay to fix the very same VCR.
- Recycled Soundtrack: Pretty much all of the music, including the opening piano piece, is freeware music from iMovie or Incompetech.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Mike has even joined the Crips, while Jay is a Blood.
- Reset Button:
- Mr. Plinkett's Laser-Guided Amnesia thanks to dementia allows Mike and Jay to mooch off him as VHS repairmen once more, after Plinkett had exiled them.
- Mr Plinkett wasn't really dead (it was his twin brother who had assumed his identity who died from eating greasy hamburgers) and his house gets rebuilt by the city as part of his settlement for their destroying an historic monument (which his house was, somehow). Naturally, his VCR still isn't working and needs repairing.Jay: So the government rebuilt your house but couldn't give you a working VCR?
Plinkett: Exactly as it was, as per the agreement.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Mr. Plinkett does this, hunting down Mike and Jay for leaving him to freeze on top of a mountain. Ultimately rendered moot as he ends up killing Game Store Rich and Jack. This indirectly helps Lighting Fast, and latter Plinkett seems to have forgotten the whole thing .
- Rule of Three: Discussed while talking about Lucas' record of creating cultural icons. Mike asserts, "Two means coincidence. Three equals a pattern," while trying to decide if Lucas has created three cultural icons.
- Running Gag:
- Mike excessively congratulating himself for making a bad pun/zinger.
- The Bait-and-Switch segues into talking about the current movie.
- As with every RLM show, whenever the guys need to walk or run off camera, they'll take extremely short, trotting steps.
- The plot review voice-over recorded by Jay is sometimes intentionally and humorously inaccurate, such as when he reads the plot synopsis of My Little Pony: The Movie (2017) before the review of Blade Runner 2049.
- Sarcasm Mode:
- Schmuck Bait:
- The Oz: The Great and Powerful review contains a storyline about Mr. Plinkett's meth addiction. At the end of the episode, Rich Evans gives a PSA concerning meth addiction with a phone number to call, which was a phone sex line at the time. Later it connected to a martial arts school in Ohio, ruining the joke.
- At the beginning of their mother! review, Mike and Jay jokingly recommend it as a family friendly, mass appeal film.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Mr. Plinkett, during a robot attack: "Fuck this, I'm taking a bath!"
- Scully Box: In-universe. The X-Men: Days of Future Past episode had Jay and Mike standing next to one another during the intro. At the end, Jay visibly steps down, and Mike directly lampshades the use of the trope as being necessary for Jay to be "almost as tall as me".
Mike: If you looked up "forgettable" in the dictionary, you would find a picture of us, and then beneath that, you'd find a picture of this movie, Carrie, the remake.
- Mike and Jay often jokingly diss their own film, Feeding Frenzy, as being a horrible flop movie.
- Don't miss a chance to purchase RLM's greatest hits on "ancient non-digital media."
- Also, they really like to do whatever they've criticized in the movie they've been reviewing in the ending segment of the episode, for example in the Jack and Jill and Transformers episodes.
- Mike describes an awkward exchange of clearly ad-libbed dialogue in Ghostbusters (2016) as "so bad it was straight out of Space Cop."
- When they come back after their Suicide Squad review to acknowledge a couple of things they'd missed, Jay mentions that he still couldn't tell where Harley got her cell phone from — as Rich, playing a prison security guard, slips phones into their pockets and chucks one at Mike's head while remaining completely unnoticed.
- Positively reviewing Wonder Woman they make a point to add a box-out of Mike being very rude about Gal Gadot's debut as the character in Batman Vs Superman and how he thinks she'll be awful in a standalone movie.
- During their long take on diversity in film criticism while reviewing Captain Marvel they opine that, even though they do it, they objectively think that reviewing movies is possibly the least important job in the entire world.
- Lampshaded in this merchandise promo. Jay and Mike make it apparent they're ashamed by remaining completely miserable and monotone.
- When they pretend to shill out Grown Ups 2, their bodies start to protest by bleeding profusely.
- A gag at the end of their review for The Force Awakens, after Mike and Jay talk about how much they loved the movie, has them help Rich with reciting his Disney-issued "praise letter" (talking about how they'll edit it out in post and trying to hide the fact that Rich is clearly reading it off the paper by awkwardly zooming in on Mike and Jay, cutting off parts of the frame and sometimes leaving half the screen in darkness) as a potshot at the part of their fanbase who were angry that they liked the movie.
- After several years of giving fairly positive reviews to MCU movies, Mike and Jay started getting accused of being shills for Marvel, so they'll occasionally make sarcastic reference to the heaps of money they're getting for promoting Marvel.
- Serial Escalation: "Fuck You, It's January!" was coined in 2015 to explain the concept of the Dump Months. Due to the rampant rise of sequels, reboots, gimmick films and bad horror ideas in the years following, the line was changed to "Fuck You, It's Year!" in 2016 and "Fuck You, It's Forever!" in 2017.
- Shared Universe: Relentlessly mocked, especially by the presence of the various Mr. Plinketts. Despite an entire episode where Mike spoke with indie filmmaker Alexandre Phillipe about the making of the Plinkett reviews, Mike later claims to have never heard of the reviews in their "2013 recap" episode.
- George Lucas is eventually revealed to be one of the aliens from They Live.
- Mr. Plinkett lives on 847 Hauser St. (Interestingly, there is a real Hauser Avenue in the guys' hometown of Milwaukee.)
- Several scenes from Titanic are interspersed with parodies of the film, including Cheri Oteri as Old Rose.
- Mike makes one to his other series, Best of the Worst, in The Wolverine review when trying to decide whether that one or X-Men Origins: Wolverine is better.
- Zaat was one of the first films the show reviewed, and the guys will occasionally use it as a punchline when they need to name a terrible movie.
- So Bad, It's Good:
- So Okay, It's Average: Their general consensus is that this is the worst kind of movie, or at least the least interesting one to talk about on their show. In contrast, they dedicate several episodes to showcase So Bad, It's Good movies.
- Sophisticated as Hell: Mike, Jay, and just about everyone else who discusses movies with them perfectly balances a learned and erudite approach to film critique with a sense of playful clownishness. There's also a distinct lack of snobbery in their analysis, as exemplified when they denounced critical darling Boyhood as being dull, ponderous and self-indulgent, then praised Guardians of the Galaxy for succeeding at its goal of being a fun, light-hearted action movie.
- Spit Take:
- Mike does in the review of Sucker Punch when mentioned that it was meant to empower women.
- He gets another one when Jay informs him that Taylor Lautner was in love with a vampire baby.
- In the After Earth review, Mike in a I Need a Freaking Drink moment downs a bottle of pills, then suddenly spits it out and exclaims, "LAXATIVE?!"
- Status Quo Is God: The VCR will never get fixed, ever. It gets so bad that in the 154th episode of no progress whatsoever, the VCR company sends in a guy to observe them in their workplace and do a progress report. At the end of the video, he reprimands them severely...for doing their jobs too fast.
- Stock Sound Effects: Every time Mike hurls something offscreen it makes the stock sound of a plate being broken, even that sound makes no logical sense.
- Straight Man: Jay is usually depicted as this, in contrast to the senile Plinkett and the bizarrely fetishistic Mike (though both he and Mike are about equally misanthropic).
- Stylistic Suck: Anytime anyone is called upon to "act". The "plot" and any "effects" fall under this as well.
- Every time gore effects are used, they are cheap shoestring budget effects that an independent movie maker might use. This ties in with Mike and Jay's explanation of why computer generated blood looks so fake and lifeless while low budget horror still feels lively and fun to watch.
- During their discussion of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, the glow from the greenscreen used to chroma key the driving effect is quite visible on Mike and Jay's faces, as well as the interior of the car. However, all other stereotypical amateur greenscreen mistakes are not present at all, leaving the impression the glow was left in deliberately, and is far more pronounced when discussing the film's own jarringly bad and amateurish CGI.
- The review for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom begins with a parody of amateur internet reviewers complete with terrible sound and shallow observations before shilling likes and subscribers. Then they return to the VCR repair shop and start the real review.
- Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum: George Lucas' face melted off after he realized that he could never cleanse the world of the original Star Wars.
- Sure, Let's Go with That: During the Man of Steel review, Jay exclaims he needs money to buy more crack. Mike quizzically asks, "Jay, you smoke crack?!" Jay offhandedly replies in the affirmative while shrugging.
- Take That!:
- At the fans who were disappointed by the fake Mandarin twist in Iron Man 3 by Mike in the Man of Steel review. He imitates their feelings towards it with a dumb-sounding lisp.
- During the Looper/Dredd review, Mike gets a call from Rick Berman - former Star Trek producer and now pizza delivery guy.
- At the people who accused them of being Marvel fanatics by hating Man of Steel and liking a lot of Marvel movies in their The Wolverine review even though they actually liked The Dark Knight Saga.
- Mike and Jay took a number of shots at Boyhood around the time of its release, sarcastically praising it for taking 12 years to make while implying criticism of its lack of plot, pretentious dialogue and underwhelming cinematography.
- At the end of their review for Nightcrawler and Birdman, they discuss videos doing one continuous take and the risk of looking like they're just showing off. They later sarcastically talk about how the continuous shot in Corey Feldman's music video was needed to advance the story and didn't look sloppy or anything.
- Rich Evans mocks the The Force Awakens YouTube reaction videos by going way overboard on the fanboyish, masturbating a droid. He's still doing it in "Fuck You It's January (2015)".
- In the Jurassic World review, they mention Joss Whedon accusing the film of sexism based on a single scene and decide to refer to him as Sensitive Joss Whedon. They then decide to shorten it into the initials SJW, which appear in bolded text.
- In the Star Trek Beyond review, Mike mentions the recent revivals of Twin Peaks, Arrested Development, and Full House, where a picture flashes up on screen for each show he names. Twin Peaks and Arrested Development each get a shot of their actual promo material, Full House gets a picture of a toilet.
- Rian Johnson's immortal quote from 2017 about "subverting expectations" while making The Last Jedi are almost guaranteed to be weaved into the conversation of a film, to the point where the joke is used by Jay across all RLM productions.
- The guys really don't like CinemaSins. In their review of A Quiet Place, they deride internet critics who just nitpick the plot and pretend that it's criticism. The video then goes into a parody of CinemaSins videos, counting up such "sins" of A Quiet Place as its Conservation of Detail and Show, Don't Tell narrative. In their review of Us, Mike says that it would be irrelevant to make a big deal about the plot holes, and each time he mentions one, Jay sarcastically says "Ding!" in parody of Cinema Sins videos.
- Take That, Audience!:
Mike: That's right, Jay.
- In the "Selling Out" video, Jay's response to Mike listing things they have on sale is "When is the next Plinkett review?".
- The entire premise of the Grown Ups 2 review. After echoing the opinions of Adam Sandler fans who actually like his awful movies, the fans' opinions cause Jay and Mike to bleed profusely from the head.
- Invoked during the discussion for Ghostbusters (2016). Rich points out that the filmmakers' obvious attempts to address criticism within the movie itself come off as painting everyone who loved the original film as a misanthropic Basement-Dweller. He very sensibly notes that insulting your core audience —who made the franchise a cash cow to begin with— is not a great moneymaking strategy.
- Technology Marches On: In-Universe, Mike and Jay haven't had a VCR repair job in 15 years before Plinkett called them. Which leads to Society Marches On when they start getting business from hipsters who use VCRs 'ironically'.
- Tele-Frag: At the end of episode 43 when Mike and Jay play a trivia game that causes VHS tapes to appear out of thin air, one of them materializes into Mr Plinkett's head.
- That Poor Cat: Every item casually tossed out of frame will produce the sound effect of either a yeowling cat or shattering glass.
- This Cannot Be!: Jay and Mike are amazed that Paranormal Activity 4 makes Jack and Jill look competent.
- Throw It In!: Subverted in the The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey review:Mike: It's sort of amazing how we just... *coughs wildly* SORRY *cough* PLEASE LEAVE THIS IN THE FINAL EDIT *cough*
- Title Scream: Every episode opens with Stoklasa's Plinkett voice saying "Half in the BaaAAAaaag", followed by a random comment ("Jay and Mike are frauds!" etc.).
- To Be Continued: Episode 66 retroviews the original RoboCop (1987) film (as well as the two sequels), and ends with a To Be Continued as Mike, Jay and Rich go off to watch the remake.
- Trash the Set: Part of the [RedLetterMedia] Signature Style is being very cavalier about breaking sets and props:
- Plinkett's house takes quite the beating over the course of the show.
- Carol's house in Episode 73 gets absolutely destroyed by Mike and Jay.
- True Art Is Incomprehensible: Discussed and Played With in "2014 Movie Catch Up Part 1". Jay says many of his favorite movies have a balance between a coherent story and surreal elements. While Mike says he prefers coherent stories, but thinks surrealist elements can be cool as long as it's not too incoherent.
- Uncanny Family Resemblance: Harry S. Plinkett (Sr. and Jr.), Telekinetic Plinkett, Telekinetic Plinkett's brother, and Harriet Plinkett are all played by Rich Evans.
- Undercover Cop Reveal: Inverted. "Officer Cooper" turns out to be an undercover hooker, out to get Mike and Jay to pay money so that she and her colleagues can perform "humiliating sex acts". Cue Evil Laugh.
- Unpleasable Fanbase: Invoked in the review of Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Jay expresses his frustration that a fanbase will either react to movies by saying that they are terrible or will form a backlash against acclaimed movies by calling them over-rated. Also mentioned in the reviews of The Dark Knight Rises and Prometheus, Mike and Jay's deadpan sarcastic "That Christopher Nolan/Ridley Scott is an overrated hack" when talking about minor plot holes is clearly a Take That! at this kind of Fan Dumb.
- The Un-Reveal: The story behind that red spot on Jay's shirt. When Mike asks him about it during their Shazam review, Jay says, "It's actually a funny story" and does not elaborate further.
- The Un-Twist: The mastermind behind all of the attempts on Jay and Mike's lives is — George Lucas (again), trying to wipe the original cut of Star Wars from the face of the Earth (again). Jay and Mike go on openly express their disappointment about The Reveal being just "another George Lucas thing" and make small-talk over Lucas' Motive Rant, barely even paying attention to him.
- Verbal Tic: An amiable "Sure," for Jay.
- Very Special Episode: Spoofed in episode 49, wherein Mr. Plinkett develops a meth addiction.
- Video Review Show: More review-oriented than the Plinkett Reviews (though that's not saying much), but still always includes a Mid-Review Sketch Show.
- Villains Out Shopping: Palpatine arguing with Plinkett over the apartment's chores list.
- Villain Protagonist: Jay and Mike are total monsters in the Framing Device. Bilking Mr. Plinkett for every cent he has is only the beginning. In one episode, Mike accidentally dismembers the mailman while demonstrating why low budget horror movies do better with ugly effects used creatively rather than throwing money at the screen. Jay disposes of the body in the next episode and neither show any remorse or concern other than the dirt tracked around from digging his shallow grave.
- Visual Pun: The "bomb" George Lucas uses to kill the repairman and their guest is a Howard the Duck DVD box.
- Vulgar Humor:
- The ending of the Transformers: Dark of the Moon review. Plinkett's ruptured colostomy bag sets off over a minute of Mike and Jay throwing up.
- Despite having little time for many grossout movies, they were happy to admit to liking the box office flop Grimsby ('Brothers Grimsby' in the US) because so much of what Sacha Baron Cohen does is his movies is identical in tone to their OTT moments.
- Wham Shot: Classic Yellow Cake Mix Now with Gay Pheromones!
- Where The Hell Is Plinkett's House?: Early episodes of Half in the Bag are contradictory about whether the show is set in Teaneck, New Jersey (setting of the Plinkett Reviews) or Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Real Life home of Red Letter Media). About the same time that the "two separate Plinketts" theory prevailed, so too did the show's setting in Milwaukee.
- White Male Lead: Discussed and parodied with the review of Ready Player One, in which the main character Parzival is described by Rich as being one of these. His terms are a hell of lot less flattering though: to quote, Rich calls him a "Boring White White Rice Motherfucker".
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: At the start of the Ghostbusters (2016) review, VCR Repairman Rich brags he's now immortal. After discussing the movie, Rich slowly walks into the back of the store. A gunshot is heard, after which Rich is heard cursing, "Aw, fuck!"
- Word of Gay: In the Chappie review, Plinkett, Jay and Rich discover they all have a Grindr profile, with captions above them saying "Confirmed As Gay".
- Worst. Whatever. Ever!: Carried over from other shows such as Best of the Worst, Mike's liberal use of this trope has become something of a Running Gag or personal catchphrase. On separate occasions he has declared The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Jack and Jill, Things, and Conan the Barbarian (2011) to be the worst movie he's has ever seen. When he declares this about A Million Ways to Die in the West, Jay lampshades it by asking, "The new one?"
- "YEAH!" Shot: Lampshaded by Plinkett who remains moving normally and wondering what is going on anytime Jay and Mike end a review with a freeze frame jump.
- Your Costume Needs Work: The one time Mike used the Mr. Plinkett voice on-camera, Jay told him that it was a terrible Plinkett impression.