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Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Love and Other Drugs: Review

Thank you, Love and Other Drugs! Not including some of the tasty treats coming soon, recently the cinema have been dishing up some absolute turkeys (Little Fockers, Gulliver's Travels, even Tron: Legacy to an extent) but I am glad to say that, while not the greatest rom-com ever, this is a film that had me laughing (and sweating as the cinema had their heating full blast!)

Jamie Randell is a cocky, self assured womaniser who can turn on the charm for his own personal needs as well as hoping to rise the ladder selling pharmaceuticals to doctors. His life is completely uncomplicated until he meets Maggie, a beautiful young woman who is suffering from stage one Parkinson's disease. He isn't looking for love and neither is she but what they are looking for is uncomplicated sex without the hang-ups. Unfortunately Jamie is starting to see things differently and his future, including selling Viagra, is changing.

You might be surprised to know that the film is directed by epic film maker Edward Zwick, who has given us Glory, The Siege, The Last Samurai and more recently, Defiance. Don't be that surprised, as he was also the producer of the hit TV show thirtysomething, a mix of comedy and drama around young upwardly mobiles facing all kinds of life problems. So he manages to handle the material here with a huge amount of sensitivity.
It being a romantic comedy there are the rom-com cliches, except this time they don't feel faced like in others.

Jake Gyllenhaal, as Jamie, is far too nice to be regarded as a bastard and even though we are suppose to hate him at the beginning, you cannot help but like it. Ably supported but the ever reliable Oliver Platt and Hank Azaria, there is a nice comic turn by Josh Gad as his slobbish younger brother, and even though every rom-com has to have one, his turn is actually funny.

Anne Hathaway is the star of this film. Not only is she one of the screens natural beauties, her performance is a dream. Never taking the Parkinson's disease to the extreme, she carries herself brilliantly, with warmth and humour (and she gets to show more of her than we've seen before, if you know what I mean.)

Mixing the comedy with real pathos, there is one scene that is both hilarious and moving, in which Maggie goes to a convention made up of Parkinson's sufferers, telling their stories and it is one of the high points of the film.

Those who read my reviews will know that the rom-com is not my favourite genre. When done bad, they can be awful. Gladly this is one of the good ones and instead of heading off to see Jack Black being unfunny or the Little Fockers being genuinely disappointing, try this sweet natured tale instead. Word of warning, however, it contains a lot of sex scenes...and I mean a lot, so maybe don't take your gran with you.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Gulliver's Travels: Review

For months now, every time you went to the cinema you were forced to watch an advert for Orange phones that was also an advert for Gulliver's Travels. Finally the film is here so hopefully we won't have to be inflicted with that unfunny advert again. I can only hope the same for this pathetic excuse of a comedy, and this has managed to elbow its way to the number 3 spot of the worst films of 2010.

Loosely (and I mean loosely) based on Jonathan Swift's classic satire, Jack Black plays Gulliver, a mail room worker for a New York newspaper who has a massive crush on a travel writer. He pretends to write about some of his so-called travels and is given the opportunity to go to Bermuda. On his journey, his boat gets sucked into a whirlpool that catapults him to Lilliput, a land filled with little people, and he is the beast. He is also the only hope they have of saving the land from another island, and a power hungry leader of the Lilliput army.

To be honest with you, the plot doesn't really matter, because this is a Jack Black movie, so we get Jack Black slacking, mugging, dancing and rocking it out. That's where the problem with this movie lies. Jack Black, it can be officially announced, is NOT funny. Sure he was brilliant in High Fidelity and School of Rock was superb. Even Tenacious D are terrific, but we've seen this act so many times it is beyond boring.

There is a terrifically talented cast involved here, all wasted. Jason Segel does a very good job with the English accent while Emily Blunt is always watchable but it looks like these two have wandered into the wrong movie. Billy Connolly, Catherine Tate and James Cordon might well have not even bothered to turn up, their parts are so insignificant and Chris O'Dowd (from The It Crowd) seems to be the only one to give his role the proper attitude and that is to ham things up as much as possible.

So it is left to Black and even he looks bored with the whole thing. The film, as with almost every film out now, is in god-awful 3D and is a complete waste of time. Only the Scrat short before the main feature is worth wearing the glasses and at 3 minutes long, it is far funnier than anything that happens in Gulliver's Travels.

Wondering why it's so bad? When gags involve wedgies, weeing on people and, worse of all, a Lilliput solider almost being crushed by a falling Black, only to be saved by Black enormous bum crack, then you know how basic this film is. Let's not forget the completely pointless and cringe-worthy end musical number, so we can have jack Black singing Edwin Starr's War!

If you haven't had enough of Christmas Turkey, then go see this miserable piece of tripe. Personally, it's not even fit to go into a Turkey curry!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Meet The Parents: Little Fockers: Review

In 2000, Meet The Parents hit our screens and it was a laugh riot of embarrassing situations and misunderstandings. Then came the sequel, Meet the Fockers, in which we were mildly amused by the embarrassing situations and misunderstandings. Now, ten years on, we get the second sequel and we are hardly amused by the embarrassing situations and misunderstandings.
Greg and Pam Focker are now a happy family with their twins who are on the verge of being 8. Jack, father-in-law from hell, has decided that Greg needs to prepare himself for leading the Byrnes family onwards, as he is suffering from heart problems, although Jack is still suspicious of Greg and when Greg is asked to help promote a new drug by the beautiful Andi Garcia, Jack is concerned that Greg might become more than involved with her and ruin his whole family.
I was a huge fan of the original film. It made me laugh harder than most comedies around at that time and it still does. The comedy of errors worked brilliantly, mainly because Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller had such great rapport together. Meet The Fockers was amusing but not as funny, yet by introducing Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand as Greg's parents and their overly sexual ways, took the series to another level. The trouble with Little Fockers is that there is no where else to go with the story. We know that jack doesn't like Greg and Greg will usually do something that makes him even more disliked by Jack but you cannot carry a series on that one premise.
The makers this time throw everything they have in the story, with subplots galore, none of which really work. Introducing Jessica Alba as the oh-so-no-funny Andi Garcia and making her behave like a 60s drop-out isn't funny. Having Harvey Keitel as a builder who seems to be ripping Greg off seems pointless. Even Ms Streisand's now cameo appearance with her sexual TV show, just isn't funny.
In fact, nothing in this film is funny. We get a scene in which Stiller has to inject DeNiro in the penis after he takes a new Viagra drug, only to have the 8-year-old boy enter the room, which is more creepy than cringy. Where Greg accidentally knocks over an urn of ashes in the first film, which was played out beautifully by all, this time he almost cuts off his finger while carving a turkey. Oh how we laughed as the family get covered in blood.
The ironic thing about this movie was that Dustin Hoffman wasn't suppose to be in this one, but after test audiences found it woefully unfunny, they re shot scenes with him in and these actually turn out to be the parts that do work.
If ever a film series needs to be put to bed, this is it. A shameful excuse of a comedy that makes you want to dig out the DVD of the original and watch how the series started off as being hilarious. This gag-less mess just needs to be forgotten and the otherwise talented cast need to move on with other projects that are better.
And by the way, just because the name Focker sounds like something rude, doesn't mean we have to hear the same gag over and over again. It was funny the first time, not anymore.

Monday, 20 December 2010

This year there have been two very different movies about facebook: the story of the beginning with the excellent The Social Network, and now this cautionary tale of what is real and what is not in the cyber world.

Two filmmakers, Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost, decide to make a movie about Ariel's brother Nev, a photographer of dancers, and his growing friendship with an 8-year-old girl who sent him a painting and now they correspond on facebook. She lives with her mother and father in a small town and has a sister, Megan. After speaking to the mother, Angela, he starts a relationship with Megan, a beautiful looking woman. Everything seems to be perfect. A little too perfect.

We have been told not to give away too much about this film, and so I will respect the film makers request. To be honest, it would really spoil this well made, clever and thought-provoking documentary which deals with how we all live in a world of lies and deceit.

We never know whether this film is truth or not. If it is, then there are moments of pure emotion that you would find hard to get from any other movie. If it is fabricated, then this is one of the best dramas of the year. This is where the film falls down. You sit watching and you become immediately captivated by the forming of the relationships that Nev makes, that when the first bomb drops, you genuinely feel for him, so if this is the real McCoy, then watching a man's heart literally shatter is a hard enough experience.

The Internet is a really positive place to be in, but in the hands of someone who doesn't fully grasp life, it can be a tool of destruction, and you do wonder how someone can do what is done here.

If you do see this film, and I strongly recommend you do, because it is moving, uplifting, funny and incredibly interesting, don't give away what happens. You will spoil it for those who haven't seen it and can enjoy it.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Tron: Legacy: Review

Way back in 1982, Disney produced a ground-breaking movie. Tron was the first film to use computer generated special effects and it was a treat for the eyes, although seeing it recently, it still manages to amaze, maybe not as much as it did in the 80s, but you cannot ignore the technical genius that was produced. 28 years later and the sequel has finally reached us, with modern technical achievements taking over, and once again it is a visually amazing treat. Shame that they didn't put as much effort into the script.

Sam Flynn is a the son of Encom creator Kevin Flynn, the man who made The Grid, a computer world way beyond anything that is available on earth. Flynn disappears in the 80s and is thought was dead, until his business partner receives a page message. Sam follows the message up by going to the old arcade. Once there, Sam discovers a secret room with a computer board that propels him into the Grid, run by Clu, a creation turned bad by Flynn. He also finds his missing father and so Sam's mission is to destroy the Grid and get his father home.

The effects are incredible. Taking all the elements from the original film, like the light bikes and the disc game, and bringing them right up to date. It is a feast on the eyes.

The script, however, isn't as appealing. It drifts in places and some of the lines are unintentionally funny. With a much tighter storyline this could have been the sensation of the season. As it is, it's nothing more than a light show.

Jeff Bridges reprises his role of Flynn with the bonus of a younger Bridges as Clu. It does take a little getting use to, but Clu is one of the triumphs of the film. Bridges, once again, is great, but you keep thinking that The Dude is in a computer world.

Garrett Hedlund is fine as Sam while Olivia Wilde is another treat for the eye. You do wonder what Michael Sheen is doing in the film. I thought for one moment he was auditioning The Rocky Horror Show.

The 3D disappoints, like all 3D seem to do, and you question why film makers are spending so much money when the technology isn't been used to its full advantage, and thus it just angers the audience who have to pay extra to see their wears which would probably have the same effect in 2D. This should have been incredible, it wasn't.

So if you like something flashy without an substance, then this will be for you. Just don't expect the cinematic event that we were promised.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Monsters: Review

Monsters has been compared as the thinking man's Cloverfield and has been promoted as this year's District 9 but this is a very different creature indeed. If you are looking for a sci-fi action film about aliens, then look somewhere else. if you are looking for a drama about two people falling in love then this will be right up your alley.

A NASA space probe crashed landed in Central America, bringing with it life forms from outer space. Trying to control the spread of the creatures, a large area called the 'infected zone' has been created between Mexico and the US. Andrew is a photographer who has been given the job of bring back the daughter of the owner of the magazine he works on from Mexico after she was injured during an alien attack. He is the father of a child but he has no love for the mother, while she is reluctantly engaged to a man that seems she doesn't want to be. As the pair head off to the ports to catch a ferry, they miss it and are forced to travel by land through the infected zone, which slowly brings each other closer together.

The back story is as interesting as the film. Director Gareth Edwards took a camcorder and two actors to South America to make a film. This is the result and I have to say while everyone has raved about it, it's good but not amazing. The problem is that at only 97 mins it seems much longer.

Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able are likeable as the couple and they do give reasonably good performances but you are constantly craving for more. The occasional threat from the aliens or the army lift the film but this is mostly a travelogue that shows some unusual sights as they move through the country.

The ending is a highlight, with an impressive sequence in a gas station that can be compared to the human relationship, but there are so many moments when you want something exciting to happen and it doesn't. Never taking away the fact that this is a well made, nicely played romance, it is also a very misleading film that is much more than Monsters.