Showing posts with label Zach Galifianakis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Zach Galifianakis. Show all posts

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Dinner for Schmucks

Based on a French comedy called Le Dîner de Cons, 2010’s Dinner for Schmucks is a politically incorrect screwball comedy. Featuring likeable leads and an overstretched central idea, the film stars Paul Rudd as ambitious financial executive called Tim Conrad. After impressing his managers, Tim is invited to an exclusive dinner which he hopes will lead to a long overdue promotion. The only catch is that each guest must bring a plus one, chosen for their ability to compete for the prize of ‘biggest loser’. Tim’s in two minds about attending the insensitive dinner but when he literally runs into the sweet but simple squirrel taxidermist Barry Speck (Steve Carell) and thinks to himself, what’s the worst that could happen?

Despite being a fan of pretty much everyone in front of the camera in this movie, it passed me by until now. I remember its release but the trailers and reviews did nothing to pull me to the cinema. It’s not a film I’m gutted to have missed three years ago but I came out the other side thinking that it was an average comedy which was short on laughs and story but enjoyable nonetheless.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

The Hangover Part III

I seem to be different to everyone else. Not just different like we’re all different but different, different. I don’t think that Peter Kay saying the words ‘garlic’ and ‘bread’ in close proximity is remotely funny yet he has sold more than ten million DVDs in the UK. The phrase ‘Am I bovered’ no matter how cockney’ed up also fails to draw a smile. When The Hangover was released in 2009 I didn’t see it in the cinema but months later I gave into the pressure of everyone telling me it was the best comedy since sliced film and I watched it at home with my girlfriend. I thought it was dreadful. About a year later we ventured to the cinema to see Part II with a large audience. This time it was even worse. I thought it was offensive and not at all funny but was surrounded on all sides by people having the time of their lives. It was with great trepidation then, and immediate regret, that I took a few hours on my day off to see The Hangover Part III and d’you know what? I think it’s the best of the series.

I use the phrase ‘best’ in the same way as one might describe Albert Speer as the best Nazi. Sure he was a Nazi but didn’t he design some lovely buildings? What I’m getting at is that The Hangover Part III is the best of a bad bunch. Once again I might find myself in the minority here and I’m sure the cinemas will be packed for weeks with guffawing humans, rocking back and forth in their seats and looking at each other with mutual recognition that they are part of a group. The third (and hopefully final) instalment of The Hangover series is neither as offensive nor as formulaic as the second film and about as funny as the first. I laughed once and smiled about four or five times.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Muppets

The Muppets is a reboot of the classic puppet show that has been on a twelve year hiatus from the big screen. The story follows brothers Gary (Jason Segal) and Walter (a Muppet born character) to Los Angeles where they are meant to be celebrating Gary’s ten year anniversary with Mary (Amy Adams). While in town they take in a tour of the old Muppets studios, only to find that the evil Tex Richman (Chris Cooper) is planning to tear it down and drill for oil. In order to save the studio and the Muppets themselves, Walter must persuade Kermit to get the gang back together…

I have to be honest and admit that I have never seen a Muppets movie before but due to how much they have penetrated modern culture, I was able to name over half of them on sight. Despite never seeing a Muppet movie, I am a big fan of puppetry and love Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. The puppetry in the film was incredible. There was so much emotion in their faces, more than Orlando Bloom for instance and it is a feat of direction that the film makers managed to have so many puppets on screen at one time.

The first third of the film was amongst the funniest I have seen in the cinema. I had a constant smile on my face as gag followed gag at a frenetic pace. Had it continued for the entire film I’d be putting it up with This is Spinal Tap as one of my favourite comedies. The number of jokes and laughs inevitably decreases as the film progresses in order to focus more on the plot but there are still more laughs to be had than in even the funniest of films I’ve seen recently. The screening I was in had a real mixture of young children, teenagers and adults and all were laughing, often at the same time and sometimes on their own, but everyone seemed to be enjoying what was on screen.

The film’s songs were excellent and so obviously the work of Flight of the Concords Bret McKenzie. Each one had a Concords ring to it and was funny and catchy. There were also some pretty good cameos in the film, and Jack Black. I’d expected a little more from the cameos having heard about the massive stars the Muppet Show used to attract but most were funny. The main human cast was ok. Amy Adams was her usual fluttery, singing self and although Jason Segal wasn’t great, he has written a very funny film so I’ll let him off. The stars of the show though were of course The Muppets. Kermit and Miss Piggy are at the centre of the story but it is Animal who gets the most laughs and each main character is given at least a couple of chances to shine for a few seconds.

My one complaint with the film is the shameless advertisement for the film Cars. On no less than three occasions we saw a billboard for the film. They might as well have just had Kermit say “You know what guys? We should go and see Cars when we’re finished” and be done with it. I expect this came down from somewhere in Disney rather than from James Bobin but it was disappointing so see so often. I hate to see targeted or semi-subliminal advertising, especially when it is aimed at children.

The Muppets will have created a whole new audience for the fuzzy puppets and I expect we’ll see much more from them in the next few years. The film is a very accomplished comedy that is not afraid to reference itself or even break the forth wall and overall is incredibly enjoyable, funny and sweet.


Tuesday, 31 January 2012

It's Kind of a Funny Story

Well, no, it really isn’t. It’s Kind of a Funny Story is based on the true story of a 16 year old New York teenager who seeks help for his suicidal feelings. He is checked into a mental hospital which he is forced to share with adults due to the teenage facility undergoing renovation. There he impacts on the lives of his fellow inmates and meets the girl of his dreams.

I have two main problems with the film. The first is the main characters name; Craig. While Craig is a fine name, it is the American pronunciation which I cannot stand. It appears the Americans are blind to the letter ‘I’ in the name and instead pronounce it Creg as in Gregg. I find this incredibly annoying so a film with a lead called Craig/Creg has to do a lot to impress me. One scene in which the entire hospital chants ‘Creg, Creg, Creg!’ is infuriating.

My second problem with the film is Craig/Creg’s reasons for being in the hospital in the first place. As far as I can tell he is depressed due to the pressures of being a teenager (getting good grades, impressing girls, being popular etc). While I empathise with this, most teenagers feel this way but he appears to have no reason to. He is worried he isn’t smart and has no talents when he goes to one of the top schools in New York City and is a talented artist and singer. He is in love with his best friend’s girlfriend and doesn’t think he will ever find love but during the course of the film, both the girl he is in love with and another girl throw themselves at him. I just find his reasons for depression to be a bit woolly.

Craig/Creg is played unspectacularly by newcomer Kier Gilchrist while Zach Galifianakis plays Bobby, a fellow patient at the hospital. Galifianakis is well cast and gives a solid performance as Bobby. He is able surprise the audience with his ability to go from stable to unstable and back again and keeps the audience on the edge of its seats as you don’t know when he might ‘lose it’ again. He also plays the role of mentor to Craig/Creg in a believable and loving way. Craig/Creg’s love interest is played by Emma Roberts who is convincing as a depressed and quirky teen. Her reasons for being in the hospital are never really explained.

While the film has some nice moments including a sing-a-long to Queen and David Bowie’s Under Pressure and the ending is typical Hollywood slush but nice the film falls down on its protagonists reasons for being there in the first place. I don’t want to sound as though depression is not an illness as it most definitely is but I just don’t buy into Craig/Creg’s reasons for his depression.