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Archive for the ‘Comedy Films’ Category

Ted directed by Seth Macfarlane; released in 2012

Seth Macfarlane is sick. Sick in the sense that he uses twisted, disturbing and no thrills dialogue and on more than one occasion mocks 9/11 and sick in the street slang sense; that he is ultimately one of the comedy genius’ of his generation. ‘Ted’ uses the same monikers that you expect from Macfarlane, the continual ‘close to the edge’ comedy – which  makes you question whether or not you are fully aware that you are laughing at something that mocks probably the whole world and his clever knack of presuming you have the stomach for it. Unsurprisingly this film is highly enjoyable. It tells the story of John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg), a lonely young boy who one night wishes for his new Christmas present – a large teddy bear, to come to life. Amazingly, it comes true and from then on, Ted’s (voiced disgustingly by Macfarlane) life is transformed into one of a globally known celebrity. As the years pass however, you are thrown back into the 35-year-old life of John, who is in a 4 year relationship with Lori (Mila Kunis) and still hangs out with his best bud Ted. They love weed, still think Flash Gordon is badass and unbeknownst to them have a stalker. Packed with horrid humour that rips 9/11 (not too soon), it keeps you laughing and then thinking about what you actually just heard, which makes it a very easy watch. I loved the connection between John and Ted. However old you get, you always have your best friend and what Seth Macfarlane does well, is to not make it corny and ridiculous. Ted is a real character and not just a comedic element, which he could well have turned out to be, even though the film is called ‘Ted’. Mark Wahlberg out does his performance in ‘The Other Guys’ and really shows how he has grown as a person, since his days as a wannabe rapper and then his transition into acting and finally his acting success with ‘The Fighter’ and now this. He begrudgingly has to give up his best friend, which at times is a tough watch and unlike Macfarlane’s cartoon background, hold’s back on the humour and allows for some very emotional moments. This is what made the film great, the way in which it balanced the stupidity and outrageousness with the sadness and the anger. I also loved the supporting cast, which includes, Matt Walsh (Veep), Joel McHale (Community), Giovanni Ribisi (Contraband) and Patrick Warburton (Family Guy). They all add their dramatic and comedic skill, which enhances the film’s, already laugh-out-loud comedy. The relationship between John and Lori is a great success and enables Seth Macfarlane to really throw some curveballs, some excitement and some heartbreak and it still is able to hold its truthfulness. I really enjoyed this film and would recommend it to fans of the Seth Macfarlane world, Joel McHale and the main stars.

9/10

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Somewhere directed by Sofia Coppola; released in 2010

I always wondered what it would be like to be a really successful actor. Not like, starred in a few films and therefore have just started climbing the ladder to legendary status but actually being someone like George Clooney or Matt Damon. This is how I believe Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff) wishes his life had turned out or what it could be in years to come. You are unsure of at what point in his career he has reached when he realises that it’s okay to squander any sort of meaning and fully become the sell-out that he is. Prescription drugs are the norm, unprotected sex with neighbours is okay and treating people like shit is what drives you to make more money than you can think of. I completely understand the pressures that celebrities are under, always in the public eye, bombarded with mail – whether it be positive or negative and finally, maybe forgetting you have an 11 year old daughter who is more talented and beautiful than you will ever be. Much like ‘Lost in Translation’, this film shows you someone’s life, with nothing else added. It is, uncensored, clean-cut daily routine and you have the task of trying to put together what you believe is the truth. Is Johnny an arsehole? Is he just somebody who got caught up in being an A-List celebrity? Or (and most importantly) is he unhappy, unfulfilled and in need of some excitement in his life. Hopefully, you agree with the third option. This is my opinion. This film is a tough watch, tougher than ‘Lost in Translation’, the first 10-15 minutes is really an introduction and even though, understandably, this is important when introducing characters and plot lines, it could have been a tad shorter. That is my only quibble with the entire movie. Containing periods of silence over pictures of Johnny contemplating what to do with his life, breaking down on the phone to someone who probably isn’t really his friend and ultimately discovering that his daughter and his own happiness is the most important thing in the world, ‘Somewhere’ was really enjoyable to watch. As the film progresses you are introduced to many people, who Johnny really doesn’t have much time for. Not because he is rude but because they really just want his autograph or to take his picture or to offer him some free food or to clean his room. This is what being a celebrity is. Having no freedom to do what you want, continually being told what to do and having everything laid out on a plate for you. Sofia Coppola really has put together something that demonstrates ‘Money isn’t everything’. Stephen Dorff may have taken inspiration from his own life for this role but I hope not completely. Elle Fanning is great and pulls off the role of the girl who Johnny really loves and cares about; his daughter. There is a surprisingly good performance from TV’s Jackass star Chris Pontius, who throughout is there as Johnny’s oldest friend and who also deeply cares about Cleo (Elle Fanning). I really enjoyed this film and believe it is a great metaphor for the highs and lows of stardom and what it really means to be a celebrity.

9/10

Jeff, Who Lives at Home directed by Jay and Mark Duplass; released in 2012

It’s always hard to judge what you are going to get when you sit down and watch something fronted by Jason Segel. He’s far better than ‘How I Met your Mother’ in ‘Knocked Up’, funnier than ‘Knocked Up’ in ‘I Love You, Man’ and now delivers his most touching performance in the Duplass Brothers latest ‘dramedy’, ‘Jeff, Who Lives at Home’. The character, ‘Jeff’, is a great fan of M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Signs’, and decides to live his life following the same sort of journey in his home town. On the day the film takes place, he receives a phone call from an unknown man (who has dialled the wrong number!) asking for somebody named Kevin and from then on proceeds to take any path that is led by that name. This results in a mugging, being there to help his brother on more than one occasion and finally, in the totally heart wrenching and uplifting end, discovering what he believes the reason why he has been put on this earth. What struck me most about this film is the sadness. You feel for Jeff’s mum, a woman searching for a new man, who, on the day Jeff goes on a sort of treasure hunt, believes she may have found the person of her dreams. Susan Sarandon does well to encapsulate the life of a tired mother, intent on improving both her sons normal but broken lives. You fully understand the heartache and troubles she has suffered over the years, with the loss of her husband, the lack of self belief from Jeff and the stubbornness of Pat (Ed Helms). All these factors come together to solve the family’s drawn out and unwanted lack of communication. They are able to bridge the gap and connect, with Jeff being the person who has spearheaded the reunion with his overly positive outlook on the world. He had been seen as the one who lacked ambition, who didn’t care but as the years past, he was, really, the one who at no point stopped believing. This is what makes this film a complete tear-jerker. I went into it believing it was going to be a laugh-out-loud comedy but after Jeff’s first knock back, witnessing Pat’s marriage fall apart and Sharon’s continual disappointment, you really want them to succeed and need to them have a better life.  Ed Helms is great as Jeff’s older brother Pat; buying a Porsche has finally put a cherry on the top of his mid-life crisis cake and after the discovery that his wife of a few years, Linda (Judy Greer) may be cheating on him, sends him into a complete meltdown. The only person there to help is the one person he has resented for many years, Jeff. Their brotherly relationship is touching to watch, from the moment Jeff utters anything to do with relationships, Pat points out that he has no leg to stand on in terms of what Pat has been through but when he is the only person who is actually offering any sort of advice, he agrees and when he tracks down Linda, is able to reconnect. I loved this film and was completely moved and surprised by the level of despair and complete heartbreak throughout. Much like the Duplass Brother’s previous work, ‘Cyrus’, you are taken aback by the writing and the total realism of all the performances. I would recommend this film to fans of the directors and the main stars.

9/10

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel directed by John Madden; released in 2012

I always think about growing up and becoming that person who get’s a free bus pass and a state pension. I think about how my life is going to change, what I’m going to be able to do and what will be hard. Therefore, I am so very glad that I decided to watch this film. Filled with sadness, over-the-moon excitement and a donning of the cap to the elder generation of British actors, ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ is one of the most heart warming tales I’ve seen in recent years. It’s hard to watch this film and not take your eyes off the screen, from the opening monologues, as an audience, you are completely engrossed in each character’s woes and prospects. Contrasting agenda’s such as, boosting your self belief, wanting some affection, rebuilding relationships and finding long-lost one’s, results in each scene being either tinged with close to tears sadness or hand clapping jubilation. You are taken on journey’s that are lifetimes in the making, which when witnessed, taking this into account, make some scenes nearly unbearable to watch, most notably Tom Wilkinson’s character tracking down the man he has loved since he first met him over 30 years earlier. What was great about this film was the on-screen time balance between all the central characters, you are given just enough time to enjoy their individual stories and in the penultimate scene, see them all come together. I also thoroughly enjoyed Dev Patel’s performance as Sonny, the over enthusiastic, young, impressionable owner of the hotel, which in reality is a shell of its former self. He really has come along way since ‘Skins’ and ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ and now looks like he will go on to be a great leading man; he is currently appearing in ‘The Newsroom’ which I would highly recommend. As relationship’s blossom, the hotel gains admirers, which was pretty predictable but still highly enjoyable viewing. He pulls off a typical on-screen Indian accent, which sounded pretty generic but still believable. Some films border on racist when having a British Indian actor portray an Indian but in this I’m glad to say this wasn’t the case. Another great part of the film is the setting, the vibrant, loud and colourful Jaipur. It really would be a great escape for anyone wanting to get away from a past life and as the characters realise what they want to do with their lives, they really seem to warm to it, even though from the look of it, this really shouldn’t be difficult. You convince yourself you can feel, smell and taste the environment when you watch it, which enables a great backdrop to any scene, especially those involving happiness. Young actors should watch this film with great appreciation to the people they grew up watching and the people they will become when they have been on our screens for 20-30 years. This film shines a great light for British Cinema and with the recent news that funding may be reduced, I really hope it could be the catalyst for future investments and funding into films based and shot in the United Kingdom, even though this film is shot in India! I really enjoyed this film and would recommend it to fans of the actors, director John Madden and Comedy Drama’s.

8/10

Observe and Report directed by Jody Hill; released in 2009

The guy who directed this was that guy, you know, that guy who went and got his mate in ‘Superbad’ when Seth got period blood on his trousers. That was probably the best intro to a review I have written so far. Okay, this film, is in the same sort of vain as an Apatow produced film but with a slightly darker feel to it. Think ‘Knocked Up’ meets ‘Die Hard’. That may sound ridiculous but with a cast that includes the star of Knocked Up, Seth Rogen and the portrayer of many famous criminals, Ray Liotta, it’s not hard to comprehend. The story is as follows, Rogen plays Ronnie, a mentally unstable mall cop, who sets himself the task of single handedly taking down a serial flasher. This may seem like it is going to be a happy-go-lucky story, where a young deranged cop wannabe, turns his life around and happily brings the penis shower down but to think this would show the film great offence. Like I said, he is deranged, lives at home with his alcoholic mum and is obsessed on becoming a cop. This causes him to go to such extremes as camping out in the mall, going undercover and trying to get the rest of his staff actual guns to police scared customers.  What I enjoyed most about this film was the performance from Seth Rogen, unlike his portrayal of Ben Stone in ‘Knocked Up’ and Zack in ‘Zack and Miri Make a Porno’, he is able to fully embody the personality of a lunatic, reminiscent of Jason Lee’s portrayal of Azrael in Kevin Smith’s ‘Dogma’ and Michael Cera’s psychopathic other half Francois Dillinger in ‘Youth in Revolt’. This makes for some extremely graphic scenes, including heavy gun use, substance abuse and the severe taking down of a local gang, which really highlights the destructive mind of Ronnie. It’s tough to become a policeman and with it comes the jealousy of many security workers throughout the world, which I really think this film is trying to point out. The lengths people will go to achieve the honour of becoming that person on the street who others turn to when in need is so strong, that when it is taking away from them, can really cause a complete life meltdown. This is captured well, not only by Rogen but also the surrounding cast, most notably Ray Liotta, who looks on as the man who Ronnie wants to be and who also I hope, subconsciously wants him to become the cop he deserves to be. At points this film is insanely laugh-out-loud hilarious, one scene in particular involving Rogen and Michael Pena – in a career best performance – when they choose to do what they want, abuse their bodies, destroy lives and teach others a lesson who have spat in their face. This film is billed as a comedy but I believe it is an extremely dark tale with comedy cleverly employed through great performances all round. I would happily recommend this film to fans of Seth Rogen, Ray Liotta and Apatow Productions.

8/10

Waiting… directed by Rob McKittrick; released in 2005

A film that explains the true nature of small independently owned restaurants that normally fail to deliver on food and customer service. Happily the film delivers in comedy and also deeper, life defining truths. The title not only refers to the job but the situations that all the characters are in and what they need to do escape from a life that do not really want. ‘Waiting…’ shows one working day at Shenaniganz , a poorly run, loser-filled restaurant that continually implies that it doesn’t meet the required health and safety standards of a dining experience. Like I said before, the staff there are all battling their own demons and you assume that this is the reason they are working there, whether it is a lack of self-belief, continually trying to sleep with under age girls or that they insist on showing their penis to a co-worker. Saying that, it’s not completely disgusting, there is emotion, linked with the demons suffered by the majority of workers, most notably though, Dean (Justin Long). Having to hear from your own parents that a childhood classmate has graduated from college into a high paying job, which yourself could have achieved wouldn’t be easy for anyone, especially one who decides to fill their time with working at the hell hole that is Shenaniganz. You are taken through his day, dealing with co-workers who have no ambition, which subconsciously he may wish he mirrored but with the feelings of his parents in the back of his mind, he has the drive to, in the penultimate scene of the film, make the correct choice which will see him have an improved life.  This film is one that is filled with great individual performances, Ryan Reynolds, who following this has become a big action-star, is deep down a funny man. With a past that includes ‘Two Guys and a Girl’ and ‘Van Wilder: Party Liaison’, you can see why he was cast in this. You should really hate his character ‘Monty’, mainly because he is a horrid man but also due to his lack of care for the world and having no ambition unlike his best friend Dean, is able to continuously berate and mock his co-workers and shockingly his own mother. All of his scenes are great to watch, as they contain sickly humour and facial expressions that remind you of that person at school who you knew would be working in a restaurant. David Koechner, famous for playing Champ Kind in the legendary ‘Achorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy’, is the only person who actually enjoys working at the pitiful restaurant. Driven by power and the ability to insult the majority of people he works with, has stupidly convinced himself that he is the best man for the job. This comes into fruition when he learns of Dean’s decision on his offer of Assistant Manager, as truly, he is a little man with no friends and the worst life imaginable. A great highlight of this film is the ‘Penis Showing Game’. It is what it is. You have to unwittingly present your penis to a co-worker and then go on to call them a ‘Faggot’. Amusing to watch and in most scenes of the film, this must have hopefully had some sort of real-life historical significance to the writer! Hilarious from beginning to end, ‘Waiting…’ is a great bit of independent cinema that deserves heaps of praise. I would recommend it to fans of American Pie, Justin Long and Ryan Reynolds.

7/10

Attack the Block directed by Joe Cornish; released in 2011

In a year which saw the release of the final Harry Potter instalment and the new Mission:Impossible, it may be a film packed full of unknown future stars which steals all the attention. ‘Attack the Block’ tells the story of a gang of youths from a council estate in South London, who, after carrying out a mugging are attacked by what seems to be an extraterrestrial. The comedic background of director Joe Cornish shines through, as he is able to make a film that could be the distant love-child of Shaun of the Dead and Alien vs Predator. What sets this film apart from other science fiction films is the opposition to the scary creatures who have decided to invade South London – a gang of immature teenagers with criminal tendencies. The banter is spot on and is pretty much what you would hear on the streets therefore I recommend any elderly women do not watch this film, as it may bring back memories of abuse suffered in supermarkets from local kids! The banter flows throughout the film and you grow to love the characters, even if they are the sort of people you would choose to avoid when out in your daily routine. Action scenes that play on the youthful nature of the film also set it apart from big action blockbusters of the past; Die Hard saw John McClane fight numerous terrorists AND Alan Rickman while in this two children hide in a bin! This allows you to grasp the rural nature of the goings on and fully believe the task that the locals have been given, in not only escaping from the scary alien but also having a go at trying to defeat it. The film’s similarities with Edgar Wright’s ‘Hot Fuzz’ and ‘Shaun of the Dead’ are visible, the interactions between the characters have a truth, which thanks to a great script allow friendships to have believable backgrounds. This is not taking away from Joe Cornish though, who with his own comedic background guides you on a whirlwind 88 minute real-time adventure, which again adds to the realism and emotive nature of the scenes. Individual performances are great aswell, the cast of unknown teenage actors all have their own unique skills; John Boyega is courageous and maybe a tad bit to big for his boots as Moses, Jodie Whittaker is scared yet accepting as Sam the muggee, Luke Treadaway is funny and out of his comfort zone as the stoner Luke and Nick Frost in a cameo as weed dealer Ron is his funny old self, reminiscent of his portrayals as Ed in ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and Danny in ‘Hot Fuzz’. The main draw though for this film is the performances of the young cast, which overall is a great advocate for British cinema. I really enjoyed this film and would recommend it to fans of Joe Cornish’ comedy duo ‘Adam and Joe’, the films of Edgar Wright, British Cinema and the science fiction genre.

8/10