Throwback Thirty – Bull Durham (1988)

Throwback Thirty – Bull Durham (1988)

51u8fxjcqal5_star_rating_system_4_stars1 Another week down and another 30 year-old film to discuss. I’d not seen Bull Durham before because, quite frankly, when something is described as a mixture of romantic-comedy and sports film then I’ll just assume it’s not for me. I don’t have the best history with sports film because I really can’t give a shit about sports. Sure when the Summer Olympics is on I might watch a few of the more exciting events but I can honestly think of better things to do with my time. I’m of the opinion that if you like a sport that much then you’d be better off playing it than sitting in front of a TV watching it. But I’m also the kind of person who finds board games to be edge of your seat excitement. So, I don’t exactly go out of my way to watch a sports film unless there’s another reason to enjoy it. Sure, when I was younger, I was obsessed with the film Little Giants but that was only because it came in a 3 film VHS set along with Richie Rich and Dennis. Still, just like my beloved Mighty Ducks trilogy, it’s an incredibly silly film that happens to be about sport. Not exactly up there. The closest I’ve come is The Damned United; a film that I only watched because I’m completely in love with Michael Sheen and his face. Ask me anything about football and I’d draw a blank. So, I couldn’t exactly say I was looking forward to Bull Durham but I also figured that it was about time that I watched it.

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Throwback Thirty – Twins (1988)

Throwback Thirty – Twins (1988)

So today is the first in my new series that I have, ingeniously, called Throwback Thirty. As I laid out in my blog update post, for the next 52 Thursdays, I will review a film that came out the same year that I was born. This is all in honour of my 30th birthday: an event that will take place on March 5th. Am I making a big deal of it in the hope it distracts me from the fact that I’ve not made it to the point I thought I’d be at this age? Maybe? Am I also hoping that seeming okay with it will make me comfortable with being a 30 year old? Maybe? Am I just using it as an excuse to watch loads of questionable 80s movies? Erm… hells yeah! I am a huge love of 80s films anyway so a year of watching some of my old favourites and some that I’ve never seen before sounds perfect. I’ve put the title of loads (way more than 52) films in a jar and each week I will pick out a title. By happy circumstance that first title I picked out was Twins. I guess it’s only right considering I am, in fact, a twin myself so this is also my sister’s 30th birthday year. In our 3 decades together, my sister and I have never got involved in a dodgy deal about a prototype fuel injector but we’ve got into some scrapes. I’ve got no doubt that I’d be the Danny DeVito of the pair and she’d be Arnie… although I’m not sure she’d necessarily think that was a good thing. We’re very different people. Me? I’ve been practicing trying to say “put the cookie down now” in my best Arnie voice ever since I watched Jingle All the Way last month.

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Tuesday’s Reviews – The Nice Guys (2016)

Tuesday’s Reviews – The Nice Guys (2016)

So this review is only a week later than I planned. It’s also been a fair while since I watched the film and, after my family had some sad news today, I really don’t feel like writing this. To be honest, I don’t feel like doing much. But I’ll endeavour to do something. After all, this is a film that I’ve been meaning to watch for a while. I love Shane Black, film noir, and Ryan Gosling so it sounded fucking ideal. The only thing that stopped me? I think it’s my inability to remember whether it’s Russell Crowe or Mel Gibson that I find super annoying. I’m pretty sure it’s Mel Gibson on account of his recent years of craziness and anti-Semitic rants. But then there’s Les Mis to consider. He was hardly a suitable Javert and some of his “singing” was just awful. Still, Russell Crowe seems like a nice man so I think my negative opinions of him just stem from my inability to tell American actors over a certain age apart. There’s was a whole thing when I was younger about Richard Gere and Harrison Ford. I mean they were both grey haired men: how was I supposed to tell the difference? Anyway, I finally watched this film a week or so ago but my intense feelings after finishing Losing It meant that I moved back my scheduled post to this week. Let’s see if I can remember this.

The last time we were treated to a Shane Black movie it was Iron Man 3. For a director most associated with the classic action comedy type films it never seemed like the most obvious career move but, as it turned out, Iron Man 3 pretty much rocked. Well, if you’re willing to forgive the fact they all but ruined the Mandarin but the MCU have never really excelled with their villains. The main thing Black achieved in that film was to adequately make amends for the dismal Iron Man 2, which is, in my humble opinion, the worst film in Marvel’s cinematic history. Yes, I’d even put it after Thor: the Dark World. Turns out there isn’t anything Shane Black can’t do and there isn’t a film around that he can’t find an opportunity to buddy someone up for a few witty interactions.

Still, that was about 3 years ago now so it was high time for a return to form. A return that came thanks to Ryan Gosling and Russell Crowe. Seriously, the story behind how The Nice Guys came to be made is almost a better story than the final film. Black and Anthony Bagarozzi started writing the script way back in 2001 but it never quite fell into place. After a few rewrites, including an attempt to revamp it for TV, the time setting was changed to the 1970s and everything started falling into place. The success of Iron Man 3 and having successfully bagged the film’s two leading stars, Black was finally able to make the film he had been working on for 13 years.

The Nice Guys follows two Los Angeles private eyes in the 1977 as they investigate the disappearance of a teenage girl. Their investigation uncovers connections to a recently deceased porn star and starts to reveal a host of political scandals. The two mismatched detectives first meet up when the teenager in question, Amelia Kutner (Margaret Qualley), pays Jackon Healy (RussellCrowe) to intimidate the men following her into leaving her alone. One of those men, Holland March (Ryan Golsing) is actually being paid by the dead porn star, Misty Mountainss (Murielle Telio), aunt who believes her neice is actually alive. After Healy is attacked by two thugs looking for Amelia, tht two mismatched detectives end up pairing up in order to find her first.

With some help from March’s young daughter, Holly (Angourie Rice), we are taken through the seedy underbelly of LA in the 1970s, which was already in a fairly dismal state thanks to the dangerous smog and the prevalence of the pornography industry. As Healy and March get closer to finding Amelia they are quickly put in the sights of hit man, John Boy (Matt Bomer). Can the two overcome their differences and find the girl before John Boy finds them?

The Nice Guys is an enjoyable and funny film that is firmly within the genre and style that Black is comfortable with. Gosling plays the alcohlic, ex-police officer who is still recovering from his wife’s death and trying to do right by his daughter but mostly failing. Crowe plays the tough enforcer who, still bitter from the divorce to his adulterous wife, uses violence to help people and make a quick buck. Neither know what they are getting in for and are unprepared for where it takes them. However, the pair somehow manage to pull together and get the job done. It’s the same kind of thing we’ve seen before but it is still just as enjoyable. Gosling and Crowe work supremely well together and the chemistry between the two detectives is what drives the story forward.

There are plenty of traditional Shane Blackisms and is full of the type of sharp and witty banter than fills all of his films. In terms of story, it’s hardly the most original but it’s undeniable that the 70s setting makes the film. It adds a new dimension to the narrative that a modern setting would have lacked. The Nice Guys is one of the most Shane Black films that Shane Black has ever made and, provided you’re a fan of his style, it’s hugely entertaining ride. I can sort of see why not everyone cared for it and can understand why it failed to make a huge noise upon it’s release. It’s very self-indulgent in a way that some of Black’s films are. However, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. It has all you could want from this genre and has a cast that bounce of each other incredibly well. I can’t wait to see Black’s Predator sequel.

TBT – See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989)

TBT – See No Evil, Hear No Evil (1989)

Last week the great Gene Wilder died at the age of 83. Whilst the news was upsetting, I have to admit that a part of me thought he was already dead. Plus, in the ensuing days it really showed me that my ability to differentiate between Gene Wilder and Gene Hackman was sorely lacking. I lost count of the number of times I confused those two. Now, when a colleague mentioned the news the other day she referred to it as “the death of Willy Wonka”. Now, because I never miss a chance to argue with people, I declared this as being an insult to an actor with so much talent. What of his work with Mel Brooks and his films with Richard Pryor? Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka is iconic, no doubt, but he is more than that. Besides, I don’t think I’ve ever really liked Wilder’s interpretation of the owner of the world famous chocolate factory. I’m fucking stubborn and it didn’t fit with my idea of the book. Still, Wilder was a phenomenal performer and probably had a huge impact on many people’s childhoods. I even considered reviewing it for this post. However, I’ve always been a bit freaked out by that one fucking creepy scene on the boat and didn’t want to go through it again. Like the well-adjusted adult that I am. I also think, as adaptations go, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory isn’t as good as it could have been. As such, I’ve never been the biggest fan. So I turned to the ever reliable Netflix to see what alternatives I could find. Turns out, not many. Now, if I was a person with more time and less laziness I would have gone down the Mel Brooks route. Unfortunately, I’m not that person. Instead I’m the kind of gal that will pick one of his shitty comedies because of how easy it is to watch.


On paper See No Evil, Hear No Evil had huge potential for an 80s comedy film: Wally Krue, a blind man, gets a job at a newsstand working with the deaf Dave Lyons. Both men try their hardest to hide their disability and get by using their other senses. Dave manages by reading lips whilst Wally has learnt how to get around using his hearing. Clearly, when the pair come together they find each other making up for their own limitations and the way is left open for some incredible moments of hilarity. There are plenty of situations that the pair could have got themselves into to provide the audience with a laugh. The film had the makings of a fantastically silly comedy where two men come to terms with their own issues thanks to their new friendship.

Of course, See No Evil, Hear No Evil is not that kind of film. No, it was decided that the best thing to do with Wally and Dave is to get them mixed up in a shitty murder plot. Inspirational. When Wally’s bookie turns up a the newsstand demanding money he ends up being killed by a mysterious lady with great legs (Joan Severance). Thanks to their respective disabilities neither Wally or Dave are able to describe the killer and, thus, become implicated in the crime. Cue many repetitive moments where nobody remembers that you need to look at Dave for him to understand you. Meanwhile, it turns out the bookie was working with a couple of criminals to steal a coin, which is actual fact a microchip or some shit… not that it fucking matters that you know that. Great legs and her sidekick, a young, British-accented Kevin Spacey, follow the pair in order to retrieve their loot. Cut to many classic capers where the pair escape, get captured and escape again before making their way to the final showdown in a huge house in the middle of nowhere. This film has it all: a blind car chase; a kidnapped sister; mistaken identity; fake European accents; and angry guard dogs.

With that list I’d suggest that the plot is just your standard, paint by numbers 80s action/crime/comedy but that seems really unfair to other films of that decade. There’s nothing about the story that seems to have been put there to interest you. The narrative is patchy and the script is mostly awful. There are a few nice touches here and there but the majority of the stuff is just uninspiring guff. The only thing that makes this film even remotely successful is the partnership between its two main stars. See No Evil was Wilder and Pryor’s third outing together and they show the great chemistry that had made them such a hit with audiences before. The scenes in which the two are just talking are fantastic. It’s just a shame that they are over with so quickly. Clearly the director  believed we didn’t want sentiment but an endless stream of mindless nonsense… which is fucking insane.

See No Evil, Hear No Evil is hardly the worst film of its kind, especially when it comes to the 80s, but, considering who was starring in it and the exciting premise, it should have been better. Rather than being a clever comedy that uses the interesting dynamic between its two main characters, it settles down to be a cheap and easy comedy-crime caper. I wouldn’t exactly say that I wish I hadn’t seen or heard this film (because that would be both incorrect and vomit-inducing) but I wish I’d watched one of the better Pryor and Wilder pairings. The films boats an excessive 5 writers, including Wilder himself, so maybe that explains why the See No Evil script feels so disjointed. It’s like a patchwork quilt where the plots of several films all sewn together in a manner than was only just workable with various embellishments thrown in from several different people. It’s the kind of quilt you’d love because it was handmade but would definitely hide in you spare room so you didn’t ever have to see it. The film very often doesn’t make sense and logic is easily replaced with lame gags. I’d be okay with it if it was funny enough to make up for it but it’s just not. This film fails on nearly every count. Although, despite all of this criticism, it’s a great film to watch if you want to remember just how fucking awesome Gene Wilder is. It’s not many actors that could star in such shit and still make it work for them.

TBT – Step Brothers (2008)

TBT – Step Brothers (2008)

After watching Sisters for this week’s Tuesday review I was all set to re-watch Baby Mama for the accompanying TBT post. However, the last few days have been tough and I haven’t had the time. So, in keeping with the apparent theme of the week, I had to come up with a plan B. When Sisters first came out last year a lot of critics made a connection between it and the Will Ferrell/John C Reilly film Step Brothers. It just so happens that I fucking love that film so it didn’t take much to persuade me to review it for this week’s post. It’s one of those Will Ferrell films that you can just quote on any occasion and it is an unrelentingly funny film. If there was any film that deserved a TBT review then it was this one. Plus, the idea of having to watch the shitty Baby Mama again was too fucking abysmal. I mean that family guy joke about the film totally rings true. “What happens when a 40 year old woman asks her 41 year old friend to carry her baby?” I love the Tina Fey and Amy Poehler but that film is so hard to love. Give me Will Ferrell and John C Reilly shouting and fighting any day of the week.

I have to admit that I have an intense fondness for John C Reilly. I think ever since I saw him in the film Chicago as a teenager I’ve always felt a certain amount of joy when I see him on a cast list. Reilly is both a tremendous actor and a hugely funny performer. It’s no wonder that, after they first teamed up for Talladega Nights that Will Ferrell was keen to repeat the experience. There can be no denying that the pair have exceptional chemistry and Step Brothers plays on their comedic connection perfectly. They get to be silly, outrageous and play off each other’s silly outrageousness. If anything their second film together only further proves that the two actors should work together in everything.

Step Brothers deals with two 40 years who refuse to grow up and laze around their parent’s houses. When Brennan Huff’s (Will Ferrell) mother, Nancy (Mary Steenburgen), marries Robert Doback (Richard Jenkins) the man-child finds himself at odds with his new step-brother, Dale (John C. Reilly). When the two find themselves as roommates they take an instant dislike to each other despite having so much in common. They fight and cause problems for their weary parents. However, a vist from Brennan’s younger brother, Derek (Adam Scott), shows the two men that, as well as a dislike of their annoying sibling, they share a whole host of interests. Facing eviction from Robert’s house, Brennan and Dale must work together to turn their lives around and find employment. But can their dream of starting an entertainment company really come to life?

Step Brothers is the kind of film that was created for its audience rather than critics. It isn’t as clever or original as some of Will Ferrell and writing partner, Adam McKay, have previously created but it will satisfy anyone who enjoys their silly, adolescent sense of humour. This isn’t a film that wants to make some sort of social commentary about the increasing number of grown-adults who still live in their parental homes. No no, this is a film that just wants to make you laugh and it manages to do this thanks to the undeniable chemistry between the two main stars. It is a testament to the two that they make Brennan and Dale such lovable characters as they could so easily have been nothing more than obnoxious and annoying dicks.

There are several aspects of the film that don’t work as well as the two actors, of course. No matter how good the talent on screen is they never quite manage to convince that the world they inhabit is one in which people would put up with Brennan and Dale’s shit. I know this is a movie and should be viewed with a pinch of salt but even by Hollywood’s standards these guys would have been slapped many years ago. It does occasionally take a huge suspension of disbelief to go along with it. Still, it just so happens that there is enough funny stuff to make it much easier to ignore that nagging feeling at the back of your mind. The gags aren’t always successful and the more adult stuff doesn’t exactly fit with McKay and Ferrell’s previous films but, in the end, there is more than enough to funny shit here to get you laughing your tits off.

Tuesday’s Reviews – Sisters (2015)

Tuesday’s Reviews – Sisters (2015)

I have to be honest with you, I wasn’t expecting to be reviewing this film this week. It was a last minute watch so I could find something to talk about. I was supposed to go and see David Brent: Life on the Road with some guys at work but they proved to be too unreliable. I’m not sure if I’m happy or sad about this. From what I’ve heard it’s good but, obviously, nothing compared to The Office. I’m sure it’ll be funnier than Gervais’ last outing Special Correspondents but how easy will it be to slip back into David Brent. To be honest, once The Office finished I was done with Brent. I didn’t watch the shitty Learn Guitar series that he released on YouTube a few years ago because it just felt to desperate. Maybe that was just me? I love Gervais but he really believes that everything he does is the best example of comedy. If there’s one thing he last experiences in Hollywood have taught us, it’s that Gervais isn’t suited to every format. Just like the pair of funny women heading up the film at the heart of this review. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have not always been as funny on the big screen as they have been known to be on television. Now I’m not saying they’ve had fuck loads of major disasters but the films they star in tend to be forgettable ones. I had no real expectations for Sisters except that I was going to freak out whenever Kate McKinnon was on screen.
Without wanting to offend all of those idiots that went mental at the idea of female Ghostbusters, Sisters is almost like the female version of the Will Ferrell/John C. Reilly comedy Step Brothers. That is to say that it revolves around two middle-aged siblings who, on returning to their family home, descend back into some sort of second childhood. Not able to deal with their vast emotional baggage and being scared to let go of the house they grew up in, the two sisters decide to throw a final epic blowout for all their old friends. And, because this is an incredibly unoriginal idea, the shit hits the fan with supposedly outrageous and hilarious results. 
Much of the comedy comes from the fact that the two sisters are polar opposites. Maura (Poehler) is the sensible one: she’s a nurse who just wants to help people but is unable to help herself following her recent divorce. Kate (Fey) is the eternal party-girl who is an unreliable employee, friend and mother to her teenage daughter, Hayley (Madison Davenport). They constantly bicker but the two sisters deeply care about each other. Whilst cleaning out their childhood bedroom, Kate decides Maura needs to experience the kind of wild night that she was always too good to be a part of when she a teenager. In exchance, Maura has Kate promise to take the role of “party mom” and prove that she can be sensible and care for other people. 
Sisters is basically just a run-of-the-mill comedy about two sisters in the midst of difficult times who come together to help each other out. There isn’t much to rave about beyond the chemistry of the two leads. Poehler and Fey have an undeinable connection that make them perfect in the role of sisters. They may be playing opposite to their typical characters but the pair make what little they are given work for them. Fey keeps the jabs coming as the frank and brutal Kate whilst Poehler adds more than a touch of awkward charm to the proceedings. It’s a testimony to the two stars that you end up caring for the pair and hoping they get their inevitable and schmaltzy ending.  
Still, this film is just another example of great comedic talents being relegated to lazily written comedies. Just like actors like Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman, the two women who have earned countless accolades for their work on television are never given the kind of material they rightly deserve. Sisters has some funny moments but most of the jokes fall flat. Much of Jason Moore’s direction is just continuous reaction shots from the vast sea of supporting characters and the script, written by Paula Pell, is incredibly repetitive and chock full of all your favourite stereotypes. With anyone else in the main roles this film would hardly have been on the film radar at all. It’s just nothing that exciting. 
It sort of feels like a tired SNL sketch based on the hilarious premise of people over 40 getting wasted (lol) and elongated thanks to an endless stream of characters that wouldn’t even make it into the worst SNL sketch. The background characters are overplayed and single-note. Any humour they may provoke is based almost entirely on stereotypes or repetition. I mean as soon as they large group of lesbians walk in you can guarantee there’ll be some sort of girl fight and at least one of the of the women will make some sort of reference to it being her ultimate fantasy. The BBC are currently reviving their classic sitcoms from the 70s and 80s but Sisters clearly jumped on the nostalgia bandwagon first with humour that comes straight from the dark ages. 
I so wanted to like Sisters and, really, I liked it more than I should have. It’s not a particularly funny film that doesn’t find the idea of mothers and fathers enjoying a drink utterly hilarious. The main narrative is so unsubstantial that the film has been padded out with countless unfunny subplots, running gags and supporting characters. It’s like taking an old worn out teddy and stuffing it with a load shit. It might make it look plumper but it doesn’t make it better. It’s about time these two funny women join forces in a genuinely funny film that proves women can dominate in Hollywood. So far, we’re not getting much evidence to support that claim. 
TBT – Hot Fuzz (2007)

TBT – Hot Fuzz (2007)

So, the keen eyed amongst you will realise that last week I missed my TBT post for the first time in absolutely ages. The reason? I couldn’t think of anything to write about and I didn’t want to write anything shit just for the sake of it. This schedule has been really good for me in terms of planning and time keeping but there are times when the rigidity just doesn’t give me any room to breathe. So I decided to skip a week. In fact, I’ve been pondering getting rid of the whole thing entirely. I mean who really wants to read my review of a film that has been out for so long that pretty much everyone has had their say about it? Especially whilst I desperately try and tie it into my other posts that week. So we’ll see how long this goes on for. Until then I’ve actually got a topic for this week so I’ll get on with it.

On Tuesday I once again bemoaned the state of Simon Pegg’s career and his ability to agree to appear in any old shit. This, in itself, isn’t too big a problem because the man has to work. I get that. I’ve worked for in a job that hasn’t ever really given me any professional enjoyment. I understand the woe of having to sell your soul in exchange for a pay check. The thing that makes Pegg’s back catalogue so hard to bear is the fact that he’s been responsible for some of the greatest British films over the past twenty years. His Cornetto trilogy, written with Edgar Wright, are incredibly popular and are the perfect big screen follow-ups to sitcom Spaced.

Arguably, it is Hot Fuzz, the middle film, that is the best. Pegg and Wright wanted to explore the idea of a British version of the Hollywood buddy cop genre and they managed to create a film that was almost perfect. Pegg plays Nicholas Angel London’s top cop who is sent to a sleepy village of Sanford after he starts making the rest of London’s police look incompetent. He partners up with naive Danny Butterman (Nick Frost) and the pair uncover a mysterious plot that is leading to the deaths of some of village’s most prominent residents. Danny gets his first real glimpse of police work whilst Nicholas learns to ditch the rule book and embrace the kind of theatrics seen in most action movies.

At the heart of the village is the Neighbourhood Watch Alliance who go to great lengths to keep the peace and ensure the village remains picture perfect. However, Nicholas starts to suspect that one of its members, Simon Skinner (Timothy Dalton), is responsible for the deaths to cover up a secret property deal. Nicholas must use every trick in the book to convince his boss Inspector Frank Butterman (Jim Broadbent) that he’s telling the truth and get the rest of the village’s inept force to help him track down the killer.

Hot Fuzz does great things with its location and the tropes traditionally found in big budget cop movies. It references several of Hollywood’s biggest action films and plays with the genre amongst the sleepy British setting. It offers both a satirical glimpse and a charming celebration of all things action and gives it a delightfully fresh British twist. I mean I can’t imagine Bruce Willis taking part in a high speed chase whilst having a lost swan in his possession, can you? The end result is biting, incredibly funny and hugely entertaining.

Thanks is no small part to the chemistry between Pegg and Frost. The pair have, as we all know, been friends for years and this is never more evident than this film. They are so utterly comfortable with each other that they don’t mind letting the other dominate when need be. They have a great understanding of how they work together and how they can make something funny. Their relationship on screen here is much more convincing than in Shaun of the Dead and is more heartfelt than in the dire At World’s End. This is vintange Frost/Pegg bromance and it’s great to watch.

Hot Fuzz boasts an incredible British cast including several drool worthy names. Jim Broadbent and Timothy Dalton stand out amongst the crowd and are joined by the equally captivating Edward Woodward, Paul Freeman and Billie Whitelaw to name but a few. The talent on show is fantastic and they all work with the material wonderfully. My only gripe with Hot Fuzz, if I had to admit to one, is that it’s a little self-indulgent. Something only highlighted by its cast. It allows itself a bit too much room for error and ends up missing a few of its marks. There are jokes a plenty and, inevitably, not all of them land in quite the right way. Still, it barely matters. No matter how many times I watch this film I still feel as elated and satisfied as the first time.

R.I.P.D (2013)

R.I.P.D (2013)

It’s really difficult to like Ryan Reynolds these days. I’m sure that there’s a good actor in there somewhere but he just keeps agreeing to star in shitty films. Just take a look at some of his past credentials (The Green Lantern, The Change-Up, The Proposal, Just Friends, The Amityville Horror remake) and it’s a sorry list of bland blockbusters and insipid romantic-comedies. Certainly, it’s a huge change from his early days when his presence would be a welcome addition to any cast-list. These days it’s starting to look as though his two major talents seem to be his rock-hard abs and his ability to get blonde women to marry him. Surely there’s got to be something fantastic hidden away and he’s just waiting for the right film to come along? Unfortunately, that film was never going to be R.I.P.D. Yes, number 3 in this week’s surprise buddy-cop season. Upon release in the US it was universally panned by critics and even given the title of worst film of the year… even with a full 4 months worth of terrible films still to come. So of course I had to check this out for myself. It surely can’t be that bad… can it?


I can imagine just how the first pitch for the R.I.P.D script must have gone: “Well it’s like the type of film you’d get when you mix Men in Blackwith Ghostbusters starring that cowboy from the remake of True Grit, and the Green Lantern… oh and it’s based on a comic book.” You can see why it was snapped up. The world was crying out for a film focusing on the Rest in Peace Department: a supernatural law enforcement agency that hunts down those pesky deceased souls who just aren’t ready to call it quits yet.

It is the unfortunate Boston detective Nick Walker (Ryan Reynolds) who finds himself as the newest member of the secret group when he is killed on duty. I say on duty but he is actually killed by his despicable partner, Bobby Hayes (Kevin Bacon), after Nick gets cold-feet about the pair helping themselves to stolen gold. Rather than finding himself in whatever afterlife awaits him, Nick is recruited by Proctor (Mary-Louise Parker), given a special Deado killing gun and introduced to his new partner, Roy Pulsipher (Jeff Bridges). Roy is straight out of the Wild West and a bit of a lone wolf. He reluctantly accepts his new partner and delights at throwing the rookie in at the deep-end. Which is where find themselves in possession of evidence pointing to a plot to bring utter chaos to the living world.
Instead of being a refreshing new take on the Men in Black format, R.I.P.Dis haphazard and certainly not breaking new ground. It’s the same old story that has been churned out in Hollywood time and time again: grizzled veteran cop meets cocky rookie in an utterly bewildering computer-generated world. The flimsy plot serves as a means to move the story forward but few of the characters or narrative components are given any time to develop beyond their basic function. It serves as nothing more than a means to hold together the various CGI sequences that are constantly being thrust in our faces.
A fact that would be less of a problem if the CGI was actually well-crafted. CGI has come a long way in recent years but R.I.P.D sets the entire area back at least 20 years. If it weren’t for the lead actors you could easily believe that this was an example of the plasticky creatures seen in films throughout the late 90s. Despite having a reportedly large budget, the effects just lack the polish of modern CGI and the longer sequences move at great speed in order to cover up these inadequacies. The downside is of course that everything just becomes so confusing and frantic that an audience will be unlikely to follow, let alone appreciate, any of the unfolding mischief.
Everything about this film just screams laziness. The script is littered with bland humour, awkward character interactions and general weirdness. When it comes down to it, R.I.P.D has only two real things going for it: Bridges and Parker are both fun to watch and do the best that they can with the material they are offered. She gives an interesting spin to the prim and proper manger figure and is the perfect foil to Bridges’ over-the-top Roy, who is pretty much an undead version of Rooster Cogburn. Bridges once again does his best cocky cowboy impression but whilst constantly being under threat of getting upstaged by his eyebrows and facial hair. He’s generally the most interesting character on screen (although that isn’t exactly a compliment in this crowd) and puts considerably more energy into the script than it really deserves. Constantly punctuating the lacklustre action with his physical comedy and comic timing, Bridges ensures that this film doesn’t fall on its face in the first 10 minutes.
Certainly it wouldn’t be able to hold itself up on the strength of Reynolds’ performance. He never really finds his place on screen and finds himself being consistently overshadowed, whether that’s by the much-more talented Bridges and Parker or the shocking CGI. Despite being the necessary plot-point that introduces the audience to the R.I.P.D, this film would have been much better off without Nick moaning about his death and mooning over his widow.  He has almost no personality and none of the stand-out material that Roy gets to play with. Kevin Bacon’s dismal villain aside, Nick is the most forgettable character in the entire movie… a huge triumph for both Reynolds and the writers considering just how long he is on screen for.
Overall, R.I.P.D. is a weak example of the action/comedy genre and will never stand-up against previous releases. It never finds high ground and offers a limp and rarely funny script, underdeveloped characters and awful visuals. Not even the energetic attempts of Jeff Bridges can breathe life into this film but, with the help of Mary-Louise Parker, he does offer some glimmers of joys to help you keep going. Whilst this may not be the “worst film of 2013”, it certainly isn’t making up for Hollywood’s recent filmic misfortunes. 
The Other Guys (2010)

The Other Guys (2010)

These days I find myself drawn to Mark Wahlberg films. I’m not entirely sure when it happened but Marky Mark became one of the more reliable actors around. So much so that I find myself desperate to watch Pain and Gain and 2 Guns every time I see the trailers. I may prefer the rap career of Hollywood favourite Will Smith but there can be no denying that Marky’s talent lies outside of hip-hop. He’s a talented actor and, most surprisingly, an incredibly funny performer. His role in Ted was a revelation so I started my mission to work my way through his filmography. If I’m not careful he’ll become one of my favourite actors and once that happens I will certainly have to start re-evaluating my life.

The Other Guys is another spoof of the classic buddy-cop film with Wahlberg and Will Ferrell taking their position as the title characters. Allen Gamble (Ferrell) and Terry Hoitz (Wahlberg ) are police officers who find themselves overlooked next to a pair of superstar detectives, played wonderfully by Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne Johnson. They find themselves paired up thanks to their past professional mistakes and are stuck filling out their co-worker’s paperwork. That is until they accidentally stumble into the middle of a huge financial scam, with Steve Coogan’s corrupt businessman at its centre.

As with every movie of this type, The Other Guys struggles to find a balance between comedy and the cinematic tropes of the genre at its foundation. Just how much adrenaline-pumping explosions and shoot-outs do you need in a comedy crime caper? Unfortunately, The Other Guys doesn’t quite get it right. McKay and cinematographer Oliver Wood (what happened to the Quidditch career?) push the action sequences as hard as they can and make sure everything is as in-your-face as possible. The focus should be the characters but there is always too much of a focus on the genre that everything just gets muddled and feels too big for the film-makers.

Writers Adam McKay and Chris Henchy stretch the already thin narrative just a little too far and they never quite manage to control it. There is too much confusion surrounding the flimsy stock market scam and subsequent armed robbery and kidnap that the main plotline just becomes a runaway train that blasts its way through some of the better moments. Thankfully The Other Guys has a saving grace in its central relationship and there are just enough stand-out moments throughout. These snippets occur when the bizarre characters get a chance to bounce off one another and distract us from the derivative plot.

For one thing, Ferrell and Wahlberg are a comedy super team here. Whilst Ferrell is still as funny as we have come to expect, it is refreshing to see him working the more straight-man role (albeit with a dark secret past hidden just below the surface). This also means he has some room to move within his performance. Rather than playing a character at 100% coarse, The Other Guys allows him to mix things up a little. He works well against Wahlberg’s brash and hot-headed Terry who is living with the frustration of being saddled with an inept partner and dull duties. He is full of anger and is the perfect foil to Ferrell’s reserved Allen. As with similar films, the humour is primarily based upon their conflicting way of life and their overall chemistry.

The pair is aided along their way by a wonderful and hilarious supporting cast. Michael Keaton is a comic highpoint here as the outrageous police captain who can be relied upon to provide a TLC quotation for every occasion. Likewise, Eva Mendes once again proves to be a funny performer and completely throws herself into some of the more ridiculous moments. However, it is the brief appearance of Jackson and Johnson in the opening scenes that really stood out for me. These moments are an outrageous but excellent parody of every over-the-top police action films. Whilst on screen for only a brief time, they are the stars of some of the funniest moments.

The most disappointing star is Steve Coogan, the man responsible for one of the all-time greatest comic characters, Alan Partridge. Suffering from being involved in such a forgettable and insignificant plot-line, Coogan just gets lost in the chaos. He has a few throw-away lines that might garner a titter but it just feels like he’s simply along for the ride.

A feeling that will only grow as the film progresses towards its finale. There are moments of true hilarity but this has the overall feel of one long sketch show broken up by a farcical crime plot. The funniest moments are the random tangents and the banter between our leading pair. The actual narrative is just consequential. Still, The Other Guys is a film that is primarily concerned with making its audience laugh and there is no denying that it does that. If only it had been less interested in the other side of the coin and veered off the Michael Bay path of film-making.

The Heat (2013)

The Heat (2013)

It was the Bridesmaidscombo of Melissa McCarthy and director Paul Feig that really put the former on Hollywood’s radar. She is slowly making a name for herself as a reliably funny performer despite not always receiving the type of material she deserves (see IdentityThief). Here the two reunite for the film that was, for a long time, known as ‘The Untitled Female Buddy Cop Comedy’. In Snakes on a Plane style part of me wishes they had kept this at the title but alas, The Heat is what we were left with. As with his last film, Feig was on a mission to make a female-centric comedy that both men and women would enjoy. To prove that women are just as funny and downright silly as men. It worked with his first film, which was incredibly popular with both critics and audiences alike. Can he and McCarthy work their female-centric magic in the world of cops and robbers? 


The Heat doesn’t exactly break any boundaries in terms of plot and the script, written by Katie Dippold of Parks and Recreation, sets out a pretty simple premise in order to introduce the pair. At its bare bones it’s the standard buddy cop narrative but with more jokes about vaginas and spinsterhood. Sandra Bullock plays the career-driven FBI agent, Sarah Ashburn, whose desire to succeed is alienating her from her colleagues. Much like the career-driven and socially awkward FBI agent that Bullock played in the Miss Congeniality films in fact. With the promise of a prestigious promotion, Ashburn finds herself investigating a drugs baron working out of Boston. It doesn’t take long before she is stepping on the toes of local detective Shannon Mullins (McCarthy) and her never-ending mission to clean up her streets. Unsurprisingly, the pair soon discovers that their only chance of cracking the case is to combine their individual skills.

It’s really not difficult to see how this will pan out from here. The by-the-book Ashburn and the anything goes Mullins clash throughout the investigation. Whether that’s about how they dress, how they deal with suspects or their romantic lives. It is their differences that keep the plot plodding along until the inevitable turning point in their relationship occurs. This happens, unsurprisingly, during a night of heavy drinking when they ladies discover that under the surface the two are just passionate about their jobs. It is a scene which only goes to highlight the wonderful chemistry between the pair which gives their banter a pleasingly natural and improvised feel to it.
I think it’s safe to say that in the hands of different actresses this film would have flopped instantly. Both Bullock and McCarthy are capable of being incredibly funny and have no concerns about looking too silly. They throw themselves into every aspect of their parts and are incredibly successful. It would be easy to dismiss this as an ‘it’s all been done’ situation but, thanks to Feig and his two leads, you end up caring about the main characters. This is even more of a testament to the actresses when you consider that, at their core, the pair of law enforcers are essentially just dicks. It’s easy to see why they are so alienated from their co-workers. Ashburn brags about her superior skills and delights in humiliating her colleagues at any opportunity. Likewise, Mullins is loud, brash and turns to threats and profanity if she ever feels cornered. In lesser hands it would be easy to end up turning against these characters but, thanks to the incredibly likeable leads and Feig’s direction, the audience are with them every step of the way.
Feig may believe in his characters but he has some problems with keeping the film going. Just as he did in Bridesmaids, the director has a slight problem with pacing; some scenes keep going for much longer than they need to, some jokes are stretched out to beyond their limit, and there are moments which just distract from the main action. For example, the stand-out bar scene where Mullins and Ashburn drink themselves into a mutual understanding may be one of the funnier scenes but it is hard to escape the idea that it sort of outstays its welcome. At the same time, Dippold’s script often attempts to turn its simply narrative into something grander and attempts to pull off the kind of twist ending expected by a much better film. As it happens, the final reveal of the identity of the drugs lord is just unnecessarily confusing and feels sillier than any of McCarthy’s physical comedy… which, now I think about it, is probably a fitting revelation.
After all, at its heart, The Heat is an incredibly funny film. In fact, if it ain’t funny it’s more than likely that The Heat just isn’t interested. Every scene, even the weakest ones, contains something that will get you chuckling. Despite an arguably weak narrative, Dippold’s script if full of fantastic jokes and amazing physical comedy perfectly tailored to the women at its centre. It is impossible not to get caught up in the sheer energy and heart that everyone is bringing to the production.