Monday, 25 August 2008

Space Chimps, The Fox and the Child and College Road Trip Review

In honour of Mr. Paul Francis Gadd coming home (there's a sentence that should never have been typed) and the end of the school holidays (coincidence?!?!) here is a run down of the kids flicks I had to watch to keep up with the silly 'Lets watch every film ever challenge'. They include me seeing no good reason why the Lord God should take Bernie Mac when Martin Lawrence still walks the earth, the worst CGI movie since The Ugly Ducking and some of the most horrific animal abuse masquerading as family friendly fare ever cut to film.

First up the animal abuse in The Fox and The Child. A twee pseudo-wildlife documentary following a small child annoying a fox. Not happy with just loving/tormenting this fox (whats the difference? ooo cynicism) the small child feels the need to trap it in her bedroom where it promptly spazzes out in the most realistic 'fox spazzes out in a bedroom' scene I've seen all year. Its all narrated by Kate Winslet and, having just re-watched Extras, I was really hoping she might surreptitiously drop in the phrase 'purple headed womb ferret' one last time. She didn't. Still I like foxes, especially that clever one from The Little Prince, so this was all quite tolerable.

Not so tolerable was Space Chimps. A reasonable idea made crappy crap crap by some awful animation and the complete non-existence of jokes for adults. Or jokes for kids. Basically its Apollo 13 with monkeys which doesn't sound too bad until you replace every other word in the script for some pun on the word chimp. The worst of these was Chimpmarshalled instead of courtmarshalled which doesn't even chimping work. To all the 'scriptwriters' - Suck my greasy Chimp and lick my Chimpy balls. See what I did there?

While its the screenwriters that get the worst telling off for Space Chimps there isn't a single cast or crew member from College Road Trip that deserves to stay alive for what they put me through for 90 minutes. Essentially, a remake of Ice Cubes Are We There Yet? with a slightly older family. And Martin Lawrence instead of Ice Cube. This is in no way a good thing. When I watch films as bad as this I sometimes stay for the whole credits picking names at random like Ralph Fiennes in Schindlers List in the hope that one day I will wield enough power to end those that I was unfortunate enough to pick out. Not even the catering staff and grips will be pardoned. The excuse I was just following orders will not stand.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

You Don't Mess With The Zohan! Review

I'm a bit of a hypocrite when it comes to Adam 'Happy Gilmore' Sandler. I bemoan the existence of Adam 'Mr.Deeds' Sandler at every given moment when I actually enjoy a lot of his films and I quite like the man himslf. He has a certain retarded charm, so much so that I think he might be an actual retard so therefore I can't dislike him too much in case the PC brigade takes away my soul. (At the moment they're not too happy about me using the word retard so I best play safe.) But the problem with 'quite liking' Adam 'Wedding Singer' Sandler is I had high expectations for Zohan and ended up... disappointed. Disappointed by Adam 'Little Nicky' Sandler, what a tragic state to be in.

Coming off like a rejected idea by Eric Cartmans' Awesome-O 4000 (Adam Sandler is like, in love with some girl, but then it turns out that the girl is actually a ...golden retriever, or something. We'll call it Puppy Love!) Zohan is An Israeli Special Forces Agent who dreams of being A Paul Mitchell Hair Stylist. Faking his own death, he leaves for America and fucks lots of old women before falling for a Palestinian hairdresser. Come to think of it I think Matt and Trey would have rejected that for being too far fetched.

Especially the Israel/Palestine stuff. Who the holy crap would have thought Adam 'The Waterboy' Sandler would be making a film that addressed one of the most important conflicts in the Middle East? Okay so he addresses it in a way that was somewhat better summarised by Australian comedian Tim Minchin in the song "If you don't eat pigs, and we don't eat pigs. Why not, not eat pigs together?". But still. The fact remains that he's had a go.

If all this talk of fighting over the Holy Land has you double taking the name of the review, never fear. Because if you're looking for fart, knob and hummus jokes they are all here in plentiful supply. In the last case there are enough hummus jokes for quite a few films. If you can take a film where the main joke is people from Israel like hummus. And Fizzly bublech. Apparently they also like Fizzly bublech too. The film doesn't say how much Israelis like Adam Sandler films though. I reckon they'd put them somewhere betwixt bacon and spam.

Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day Review

There are a few problems with realism when setting a film in the space of a solitary 24 hour period. First up if you're introducing characters to each other for the first time their connection can't be too strong, unless you believe in that 'love at first sight' bullshit (like I do!). Secondly you can't pack too much incident in (see Jack Bauer's hectic 'real' time life) without it all seeming a little co-inkidinkily. Lastly its hard to wrap everything up all neat and tidy without forcing it. But saying all that I'm talking out of my arse because the list of quality films set within a single day is extensive. Before Sunset, Dr. Strangelove, Clerks, Falling Down all work in spite of these things. And so does Miss Pettigrew. In a way.

Set in pre WWII London, Miss Pettigrew tells the tale of Miss Pettigrew (Frances McDormand) a pompous down on her luck governess who never says Yes to anything. Her life is awoken when she meets up with naive, free-spirited, actress Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams) who conversely finds it difficult to say No to anything. As Miss Pettigrew helps Delysia decide which of her three beaus to pick she begins to loosen up and live and maybe find a little love for herself. At least for a day.

Don't be surprised to see either Frances or Amy's name come up around awards season. Not that this is a particularly worthy film, or even that their performances are anywhere near exceptional. No its just that there are so few decent roles for actresses that fare like this is likely to pop back up around January saying "Look everyone, we do make films for Girls!" In spite of that incredibly sexist notion both women do deserve high praise indeed. Each lending their characters a different type of fragility.

This particular trait means both are adorable in their own way despite their conflicting morals (nun Vs slut, bore Vs fun). Frances all uptight yet vulnerable and Amy doing her best Marilyn, all breathy and eyes fluttering. She gets away with it because of her unique looking face and the fact that she can bang out a tune certainly helps. While the film as a whole could do with a little Talented Mr.Ripley style darkness to give it at least a little drama that might put a few of the silver hairs in ambulances and that would be really annoying because I'd have to stop the film and that would cut into my valuable sitting around time. So we'll leave it as a frothy, jazzy piece of entertaining but instantly forgettable fun.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging Review

In honour of this sensational teen comedy about a girl who wants to kiss a boy and the hilarious repeated gag of dressing up a cat, here is a list of things I've enjoyed in my life more than watching Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging.

1. Undergoing the 'umbrella' test at the STD clinic.
2. My first pet dying.
3. David Camerons smug sense of satisfaction.
4. The disappointing looks on my ex-girlfriends faces after I've prematurely ejaculated into them.
5. The depressing look on my own face as I've ejaculated onto my stoamach for the 57th time this week.
6. The crisis in Burma.
7. The subway scene from Irreversible.
8. The deep, intense, nauseous feeling of being hit in the balls.
9. Roy Orbisons hit song 'I drove all night'. The least romantic or sexy song in the world. Its about non-consensual sex! I don't fucking care if you have spent a fortune on petrol. You ask 'Is that alright?' before the event not after.
10. Needing to defecate so much that its brought on a migraine.

I could go on but thats about it for my poo, sex, willy and rape repertoire. Its not that Angus etc is even particularly awful a film. Well it is, but the main unpleasantness of the whole experience was the looks being shot at me for sitting on my own in a cinema full of thirteen year old girls. And while in hindsight I probably shouldn't have made notes in my lap for the duration of the movie and groaned whenever something displeased me, I still don't think I deserved the cries of 'Pervert!' as I left. After all they don't know whats going on in my mind. Its not like I pour out my deepest darkest thoughts via a medium the whole world can access.

Star Wars : Clone Wars Review

"You are so blind! You so do not understand! You weren't there at the beginning. You don't know how good it was! How important! This is it for you! This jumped-up firework display of a toy advert!" When Mr. Pegg first spewed this little rant against the menacing phantom I was bouncing round my Sixth Form common room playing lightsabers, having a whale of a time. Nearly 10 years on (and even accounting for the, at times, wonderful Revenge of The Sith) Simon couldn't have been more spot on. This time, however, there is no need for Lucas to come running out and scream "But its meant for kids!" as less than ten seconds into the Seventh Star Wars film its abundantly clear how 'for kids' this latest offering is.

Picking up after the second/fifth film but before the third/sixth film and after and before the Clone Wars TV series (if this is not baffling to you I suspect you spent your formative years staring at intergalatic senators in metallic gold beachwear), Clone Wars deals with, well, The Clone Wars. The Republic is still at war with The Droid Army, Obi Wan is still trying to mentor Anakin while he in turn is mentoring a jailbait padawan. The main story deals with the kidnapping of Jabba the Hutts son and Yoda falling into yet another trap by sending Jedis to rescue him. The most gullible Jedi Master in the galaxy I am hmmmmm.

So difference and similarities between this and the 'real' films. First up no 20th Century Fox logo, no opening scrawl (because kids can't read) and a soundtrack that sounds more new worldy than the celebration scenes at the end of the remastered Return of the Jedi. Oh and its animated. I don't think I mentioned that before. Then we have the terrible dialogue, the annoying emoting robots, bad jokes, literally two dimensional characters and R2D2 flying. In other words it is just another 'new' Star Wars movie.

But its almost so under the radar, and kinda pointless, that there will be no fanboy furore this time. There are some pretty spectacular fight scenes, some inventive new characters (while new padawan Soka may be almost as annoying as Jar Jar, as its in cartoon form she will survive the internet bashing) and enough lightsaber duels to keep you entertained for the brief running. Alas though Lucas, as we now know exactly how it all unfolds its just a bunch of deleted scenes (albeit drawn all lovely) bridging the gap between two films that didn't have a huge gap to begin with. On the essential geek scale its somewhere between the Ewoks series and Bill Murray sings Star Wars. Thats low then.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Get Smart Review

Hey I haven't confessed anything in quite a while (save crying like a bitch at Wall-E, twisted thoughts on donkey punches and my teenage fantasies of Gillian Anderson) and considering thats the name of the show I best start getting some embarrasing information off my chest. Here it is. I like I-Spy. For those that haven't seen it, its a modern era Eddie Murphy (already a bad sign) and crooky nosed Owen Wilson playing at spys in a movie based on television show. Universally panned most people saw it as just another nail in Murphys comedy coffin and a sign of what depths Wilson might sink to. But I liked it. Enough to own it. Why I'm telling you all this will become clear after the plot details.

Steve Carrell is Maxwell Smart, an office body in the secret world of CONTROL, a spy organisation helping keep the world safe. Max dreams of being a real field agent like Agent 23 (The Rock) and Agent 99 (Anne Hathaway) but seems destined to file papers instead of kick terrorist butt. Luckily for Max, KOAS, a bad guy organisation led by Terry Stamp wipes out all but a handful of the agents giving the hapless Max his big break. Teamed up with Agent 99, Max sets off to save the world in his own shoe talking style.

Welcome back, (Does anyone just skip the plot bit?). So I Spy. Well I reckon the makers of Get Smart liked it too, for while its definitely not a rip off and is superior in many, many ways Get Smart reminded me how much fun can be had by playing it straighter than 70's era Elton John. Spies, FBI's and CIA's are always good mines for comedy gold and while the knobs on Newsnight Review will fall over themsleves to talk about the relevance of this post 9/11 comedy the real truth is its just a simple good guy-bad guy romp with plenty of double leggers to keep my friend Juzzy happy.

In fact despite some poo and wee jokes falling a little flat its by far the funniest film of the summer (thats not too high praise considering the competition is Sex and the City and Mamma Mia). The cast from Steve to Alan Arkin are spot on, but my biggest congratualtions go to Anne Hathaway as she's made it into my lamenated top 5 with a bullet. (She'll be so pleased). She is sexy, has great comedy timing and made me well up on a couple of occasions by doing a thing called acting (Jessie Alba take notes). I may even start a petition for Anne as Catwoman. Hathaway with a whip, purring. I gotta go confess...

Make It Happen Review

There are quite a few reasons why I don't bat for the opposition. Firstly I'm a bit of a slob. My personal hygeine, while not awful, is well below the standard needed for acceptance into that particular club. Secondly, I black out at any type of pain, so putting something into sensitive areas of my body doesn't sound like much fun. I hate camp comedy so much that if I was to select members for a game of Russian Roulette Graham Norton and Alan Carr would be at the top of the list. But to quote Bernard Black the main reason I'm not a practicing homosexual is because of "all that dancing".

Well here we go again. Another cocking dance film. This time its the world of burlesque, where a white girl (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) with a dream to dance is repressed by her brother and her selfish dead parents that aren't there to support her. What with them being dead. But fear not a friendly girl invites Mary into her house and workplace and soon she is dancing again! Yay! Live the dream of wiggling!

Why do people have such a hard time shaking their collective booties. As the Gallagher brothers sang "Dance if you wanna fucking dance". And if you wanna do it in just your pants, brilliant. I'll be honest there were moments in this 'live the dream' smegmafest where I was genuinely entertained. Strangely enough they all seemed to be in the burlesque club. Hmmm. But whenever the focus shifted to underground, cool, Step Up type dancing my entire body convulsed like someone in a wheelchair soiling themself.

As cliche after cliche was thrown at the screen (dowdy girl turns sexy, girl dances on stage when no-one is about, etc,etc) the real cocky horror picture show was saved for the scenes with the 'love interest'. An amoeba of a man, wetter than a 13 year old otter at a Zach Efron convention. Cut the ten minutes he's in the movie and it'll be improved ten fold. I can also have the ten minutes of my life back to go stare at a tree or something less productive. Finally a note to the filmmaker make the final dance better than ones before it or its not really a climax. Having a hot girl come onto a stepladder is not a fitting climax. Even for Showgirls-esque tripe like this.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

The Mummy : Tomb of the Dragon Emperor Review

24 hours is along time in the world of amateur movie reviews. For it was only yesterday that I was extolling the virtues of the top directors taking over the summer for the greater good. I forgot about Rob Cohen. Rob Cohen the man behind such masterpieces as XXX2, The Fast and the Furious and Stealth is handed one of Universals flagship films of the summer. Real Golden Age of Hollywood Owen! Well, be fair. At least they've given a shit director, a shit franchise, with a shit cast.

Beginning with an extended flashback of a big war (hey it worked for Lord of The Rings!) The Mummy 3 then re-intoduces us to Rick and Evelyn O'Connell holded up in boring old England wishing they could go on another adventure. Sadly for us, their wish is granted. Although if they'd have stayed in the house talking to each other in some kind of character piece, I would have probably burnt the cinema down before the second reel. So off they go to meet their rapidly aging son and fight Jet Li.

I was never a fan of The Mummy, and The Mummy Returns was just the cinematic equivilant of shitting and puking at the same time, so my expectations were lowerererer than for The Love Guru. Thankfully everybody has pulled through for little old me by making one of the worst, most painful experiences of the year. Good on Rachel Weisz for bailing but at least she would have made this tolerable as I, love, her. Her replacement Maria 'more tooth than face' Bello puts in a Razzie worthy performance not helped by having to spout the worst dialogue I've heard since Anakin chatted up Padme in a field on Naboo (geek chic). My biggest tears, however, where left for Anthony Wong Chau-Sang of the superb Infernal Affairs Trilogy. Rent a bad guy indeed.

The whole film makes Indy and the Crystal Skull look like Raiders era Indy. Even the special effects are inexcusably shoddy. When the terracotta army is formed it looks more like the chocolate man from the Coronation street ads has multiplied. The Yetis are cartoonish and the stunt doubles used sometimes resemble Kimbo Slice more than the actors they're supposedly doubling for. I imagine the filmmakers where hoping for a funny, enjoyable romp, but the end result is as fun and enjoyable as shagging the corpse of your dead mum.

Hellboy 2 : The Golden Army Review

We're a pretty lucky bunch us cinema going people. The influx of 'real' creative types into the big budget blockbuster end of Hollywood has done nothing but good things for the medium. From Bryan Singer taking on X-Men to Christopher Nolan with The Dark Knight, summer movies have never been as thoughtfully constructed. Compare that to the late 90's and your 'visionary director of $100 million plus budgets' was more likely to be hacks like Joel Schumacher or Jan DeBont. Now with the sequel to his own, not too shabby, Hellboy we have the king of the twisted fairytale Guillermo Del Toro having another crack at making the kids holidays cinema friendly again.

The Golden Army begins with a flashback of kiddie Hellboy being read a story by his pops (the deaded from the first one, John Hurt) which tells us of the war between Mythical Creatures and Man. Flash forward to the present and it looks like Luke Goss from Bros has decided that the war must come again. Which is a pain for Hellboy as he's having some girlfriend issues, but a pleasure as it means he might be able to step into the limelight. And he's quite a fan of the limelight.

This sequel is set just long enough after the first one for our characters to have grown up and settled down a little. Which is the first thing it does right because the original had that whiny bunch of teenagers feel to it. You know that 'we're fitting a demographic here people, lets give the hairless ballbag brigade someone they can associate with' feel to it. So while the gang have stopped listening to Bullet For My Valentine and moved onto the Eels (is there a film they haven't soundtracked?) Hellboy is still as sullen, moody and argumentative as before. Which is a real treat when played by the 58 year old Ron Perlman.

In fact like no other comic book character before Ron Perlman is the quintessential Hellboy. Even Bale, as terrific as he is as Batman, could be replaced, but that jaw line coupled with the prosthetics mean Ron is Big Red from now until the end of time. Hellboy 2 is also a better comic book movie than The Dark Knight. (Please read that sentence again as I did say its a better 'comic book' movie as opposed to simply a better movie.) In that the look, the feel, the sheer ridiculousness of it means the fanboys will lap up the closeness to source material. But Guillermo also adds his 'Del Toroness' to it, meaning his imagination far out ways the constraints of simple adaptation. If he can do the same to the forthcoming Hobbit, this Golden Age of Blockbusters may continue for some time.

The Love Guru Review

I am so dissapointed by the awfulness of this movie. In that it isn't. Perhaps it was the weight of expectation from so many saying that it was the 'worst movie of the year' therefore I had such low hopes. I'd even written half the review before watching it, including some of my most scathingly dark material that I'd been saving up for a film of true shitness. In the end though it just turned out to be a very bad film. Which is a shame. I had my gloves off and everything.

Mike Myers is Pitka a childlike self help guru hired by Jessica Alba (I thought I told you to stay off my screen for the remainder of the year!) to sort out the love life of Romany Malco, a black ice hockey player. This is funny because he is black. And black people don't usually like ice hockey. Do they? Ha. Ha. Ha. Hmmmpphh. More jokes about race, willies and funny names that sound like willies play out the rest of the, mercifully brief, running time.

Willies and the fact that Indians pronounce their 'w's as 'v's (imagine the comedic possibilities in singing 9 to 5, "vot a vay to make a living", i.e none) seem to be the basis for all the humour, while the idea of loving yourself is the single message rammed home again and again. Yet, like Meet Dave before it, I'm letting it off worse movie of the year for one reason and one reason alone. Verne Troyer punches Mike Myers in the balls. Really hard. Then Mike drops to his knees screaming, "Ow My balls." This to me is worth the price of admission. I am that easily pleased.

The ultimate decline of Myers might just be a timely thing. Every comic has his day if they don't re-invent and its clear that ten years on the Austin Powers schtick just won't endure. Its a shame because Mike Myers is an incredibly likeable actor (even if he does hire the no talent Alba, seriously just become a model or pornstar or something). But if you really want to see him doing something truly hilarious Youtube the telethon for Hurricane Katrina, where Kanye West blurts out "George Bush hates black people". The look on Mikes face is funnier than a man being hit in the balls.