Editor’s note: This is the first film review by Jonathan Simione in what promises to be a periodic feature of the Westside Express.

Netflix put out a special theatrical release during Thanksgiving week for its tentpole film entitled “Glass Onion,” a loose sequel to the 2019 film Knives Out, before its heavily-anticipated release on the streaming service on Dec 23. The nearest theater showing it around here was all the way in San Jose, but nevertheless, I went.

It was well worth it. “Glass Onion,” named after an obscure Beatles song, is one of the funniest, most crowd-pleasing movies I’ve seen in a long time. The film retains the lead from its predecessor with Daniel Craig returning as the detective with a Southern lilt, Benoit Blanc, and surrounds him with a new company of possible suspects, this time on a private Greek island. The owner of the island is the ever-arrogant Miles Bron, played by Edward Norton. Also featured among the ensemble are Dave Bautista, Kate Hudson and Janelle Monae, to name a few.

The film is a biting satirical portrait of contemporary America, tackling everything from questionable quarantine decisions, billionaire geniuses and performative demonstrations. Craig is superbly funny here with comedic chops that work to elevate the ensemble and scenery around him, not chew it. Janelle Monae gives a scene-stealing performance, including the climactic scene that brought the house down.

“Glass Onion” has a cunning mystery at its core with peripheral satire surrounding it. It’s a movie filled with great payoffs to unraveling the mystery, gags and meta jokes that result in roars of laughter (it takes a special kind of comedic writing talent to get howls of laughter out of a smoke detector going off). The movie is filled with lavish locations and even more lavish wardrobes, both photographed beautifully by cinematographer Steve Yedlin. I left the theater with a near-uncontrollable urge to watch it again, as it felt like a shared belief among the audience that we just witnessed an instant classic.

Fans of Knives Out can rest assured that this film is on the same level, if not better, than the delightful whodunit that has caught on as a Thanksgiving tradition for some. This sequel has the same level of rewatchability, so I hope that families getting together for the holidays will enjoy this visual treat as well.

“Glass Onion,” written and directed by Rian Johnson, premieres on Netflix on Dec 23.

Jonathan Simione