Throwback Thirty – Killer Klowns From Outer Space (1988)

30 years, 30th birthday, comedy, dark comedy, film, film blogger, film blogging, film reviews, films, fucking awesome, fucking creepy, fucking funny, fucking ridiculous, fucking stupid, fucking weird, horror, review, reviewing, reviews

killer_klowns_from_outer_space_28198829_poster

5_star_rating_system_4_and_a_half_stars When I first came up with my Throwback Thirty idea there were a handful of movies that I was super excited about. This week’s film is one of the most exciting. I have always loved a good B movie and, despite my avoidance of traditional horror stuff, will always have time for a worthy comedy horror film… especially one starring aliens that look like clowns. I know a lot of people who are freaked out by clowns but I’ve never seen it. Maybe it helped that I never accidentally watched IT when I was a kid but I’ve never really been fussed either way about clowns. I did work with a guy who was absolutely terrified by them. I admit, we all kind of abused the situation and I was, at times, guilty of humming circus music whenever he was around. It genuinely used to freak him out because he was that scared. Yes, it was a dick move but, in my defence, it was really funny too. So I’d imagine that he’d never seen the 1988 classic Killer Klowns From Outer Space because that would be mental. Like the girl who was in the year below me at uni who was afraid of balloons and, during out college’s end of year party, freaked out during the balloon drop. I’d grabbed a balloon and she forced me to pop it. I was fucking livid! Mate, if you get so freaked out by balloons then why turn up to a place where you know there’ll be shit loads of them???? Not that I’m still bitter 10 years on or anything…

Throwback Thirty – Twins (1988)

30 years, 30th birthday, Arnie, Arnold Schwarzenegger, buddy comedy, Danny DeVito, films, fucking awful, fucking ridiculous, review, TBT

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.

Tuesday’s Reviews – Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond (2017)

behind the scenes, Danny DeVito, documentary, films, fucking ridiculous, fucking weird, Jim Carrey, Netflix

I first saw the trailer for this Netflix documentary on Facebook and I was obsessed. To be fair though, I’ve been obsessed with Jim Carey’s descent into whatever kind of existential crisis or performance art he’s been going through over recent years. Watching him declare his love for Emma Stone and talk about his shitty paintings with absolute sincerity has been super fascinating. So to get the chance to see the supposedly buried behind the scenes footage of the 1999 film Man on the Moon. The trailer promised footage so outrageous that Universal didn’t want it to be released in case Carey came across as “an asshole”. I mean who wouldn’t be interested in that? Although, I can’t say that I really remember the film. I’m absolutely positive that I’ve seen it because I have the vivid image of its opening scene in my head. It may just be because it’s so iconic but I’m sure I remember watching that black and white shot of Carey as Andy Kaufman in front of a black screen apologising for having to cut the movie down to that opening scene. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter. I still really wanted to watch this documentary. Mainly because, as a kid, I loved Jim Carey films. My sister and I were obsessed with the second Ace Ventura film and I can’t even begin to describe how much I still love The Mask. Oh, and the bloopers for Liar, Liar, we would absolutely piss ourselves every time we heard him say the word “goose”. Plus, you know, I love it when famous people start to go insane. Like when Robbie Williams started talking about how he believed in aliens. I loved it.

There was such a lot of mythology surrounding the film detailing the life of entertainer Andy Kaufman. Possibly because there was so much mythology surrounding the man himself. How can you trust anything regarding a man who tricked so many people with his intricate performances and whose own death created a strong conspiracy theory about it being fake. So much of Andy Kaufman’s career was based around perception: how he wanted people to see him and how he manipulated their view. It’s a fascinating concept and it wouldn’t really be surprising to discover that all the stories of Jim Carey, who played Kaufman in the film, going super method whilst filming were all just fake. I guess it would be quite a fitting tribute to the man himself. However, Jim & Andy the new documentary from director Chris Smith, attempts to prove that everything we think we know to be true is, in fact, the truth.

The film knits together behind the scenes footage from Milos Forman’s Man on the Moon with clips of both Kaufman and Carey’s similar journey’s towards fame, and recent footage of an interview with Carey about his experience. The film tries desperately to present itself as an in-depth analysis of fame, performance, art and the madness that lies so closely behind it all. The only problem is, Jim & Andy isn’t as deep or intellectual as it thinks it is. On the plus side, the film is incredibly watchable. The behind the scenes footage is fascinating and there are moments within the present-day interview with Carey that are surprisingly thought provoking. It’s just a shame that it all starts to wear a little thin a bit too quickly.

There are clear connections between the two performers that the film seems too desperate to highlight. As if Carey was destined to play him because they were one and the same. It’s an interesting idea but it all starts to get lost when Carey starts getting too psychoanalytical with his career choices. After a while, this starts to feel like a great insight into a man who uses comedy as an escape but more about perfecting the performance of a man in his 50s trying to seem introspective. The problem with Carey, as it was for Kaufman, is that you never know how much to take seriously. What is real and what is just part of the act? Is this all part of the same build-up he’s been setting up in the last few years before he reaches the mother of all punchlines?

I mean how much can we really believe this documentary anyway? Did Carey really stay in character as Andy Kaufman or his alter ego Tony Clifton for the entire shoot? Or was it simply for the behind the scenes footage? Does it matter? I don’t know. What I do know is that the footage is great to watch as we see Carey refuse to be referred to as Jim whilst he embraces Andy and Tony totally. It, obviously, causes a load of tension on set and makes things incredibly difficult. Some of his co-stars think it’s hilarious whilst others are, understandably pissed. There are some weird but tender moments where Andy’s real family have encounters with Carey in the guise of Andy. It’s compelling viewing and, whether it’s real or not, is a great story. The family are able to get some form of catharsis thanks to this man who is pretending to be their son or brother. But, at the same time, it all feels a bit too weird to ring true. We’ll never really know and, to be honest, that’s exactly how Kaufam would have wanted it.

Jim and Andy sets out to tell the untold story of the making of Man on the Moon whilst also highlighting the talent of the two performers at its core. The documentary only highlights the original film’s argument that Kaufman was a one of a kind performer who has nor ever will be matched. It also goes to great lengths to do the same for Jim Carey himself. Jim and Andy is, as I’ve mentioned, a very watchable film but, really, it needed to be shorter. We get the basic message it’s selling very quickly so a lot of the film is just going back on familiar ground. Instead, there are moments when it starts to feel like a vanity project for an actor who has long since faded into the background. This is the Jim Carey show and he plays his part with utter sincerity. Either he’s doing a great job at playing the role he’s created or he really has just become absorbed in the idea of his own greatness. Your individual viewpoint on that topic will have a major impact on how you view this film. Either way, it’s worth a watch.

TBT – Left Behind (2014)

bullshit, films, fucking awful, fucking creepy, fucking ridiculous, fucking weird, Netflix, reviews, TBT


I promise you that I definitely meant to write a bookish post yesterday but I’ve recently contracted the plague. My head feels like it’s full of sea water, aquatic life included, and I swear there is someone trying to jam a screwdriver through my right eye. There are various liquids slowly seeping from every available space on my face and my nose would come in handy on a foggy Christmas Eve night. Yesterday, during the worst day of my cold so far, I genuinely believe there were tiny pixies stabbing me in the head with tiny swords. So as you can see, I really wasn’t in any state to try and come up with a post for you. I am hoping to have recovered enough by tomorrow to manage something but we’ll see if I survive the night. In relation to today’s TBT post, I have to admit that I’m kind of ashamed that I watched this film but, again, in my sensitive state, I really wasn’t able to focus on anything too taxing. So I took to Netflix and searched for Nicolas Cage. Boy was I left with a myriad of shit. My friend and I always disagree about Nicolas Cage. She’s convinced that he has more good films than he does. I admit that there are a few decent ones out there but, let’s be honest, the ration is more in favour of the bad than the good. Still, I will say that his films are probably worth a watch just for how bad they are. I mean, I’m in no rush to see Drive Angry again but I’ll never fucking forget it.

I tried to describe Left Behind to someone I work with today and it just made me sound fucking mental. Starting with the words “it’s a film about the rapture” is bad enough but then you have everything else. It’s a film about the rapture starring both Nicolas Cage and Chad Michael Murray: two of my favourite guilty pleasure actors. It’s a film about the rapture that is actually based around trying to stop a plane crash. It’s a film about the rapture that sees the people that have been “left behind” immediately start looting, attacking each other, and just being general dicks. It’s a film about the rapture that neither promotes Christianity nor really criticises non-believers. It’s a film about the rapture that is so bad it’s not even funny. It’s fucking mental.

Left Behind is the big (ish) budget reboot of a previous film series from the early 2000s. This time starring Nicolas Cage doing, perhaps, the least acting he’s ever done in any film. He plays pilot Ray Steele who is flying from New York to London on his birthday. Why is he doing this? To get away from his overly relgious wife (Lea Thompson) and spend a dirty weekend in England with a sexy, young air hostess (Nicky Whelan). One of their passengers is investigative journalist Buck Williams (Chad Michael Murray) who, by happy circumstance, has just spent the last few minutes flirting with Ray’s daughter Chloe (Cassi Thomson) in the airport. Suddenly, a load of people, including several passengers on the plane, disappear leaving their clothes and belongings behind. Chloe loses her younger brother at the mall and is caught up in the chaos that ensues. She must find her way home safely and see if she can find her mother. When his co-pilot disappears, Ray must find a way to land his plane and save the remaining passengers.

Left Behind sounds like an incredibly parody that you’d see on some sort of sketch show. It’s that fucking ridiculous. But it’s based on a popular Christian novel about the end of days. It’s source material was produced to warn people about the dangers of ignoring religious teachings and not taking God into your life. This film? Well, I’m just not sure what it’s trying to say. All of the Christians depicted in the film are fucking mental so it’s not as if they’re even casting themselves in a positive light. Then, the a lot of the non-believers all seem like really nice people who don’t deserve to be left no Earth to face whatever punishment awaits them. If anything this film just seems to push the idea that God, as the Bible writes him, is a cruel and unfair master. I mean there’s a woman suffering from dementia who is left behind after her loving husband is saved. What kind of God would leave a confused, old lady alone on a plane that’s about to crash?

It’s also just a really bad film. Even when you ignore the preposterous idea at it’s very core this film is just plain bad. It’s badly written, poorly acted and the CGI is just incredibly shit. I mean even Geostorm looks like a technological success next to this film. The worst thing about Left Behind is that it’s not even so bad it’s funny. It sounds like the kind of camp nonsense that could have been played for laughs but everything is handled with such seriousness. There isn’t an ounce of self-awareness within it’s relatively short running time. I mean at least Geostorm has me laughing at it occasionally. I couldn’t do that here. It’d be like laughing at someone with a disability: unnecessary, cruel and immoral. Although, like every other Nicolas Cage film I’ve seen recently, it’s an experience that I won’t forget in a hurry.

Tuesday’s Reviews – Geostorm (2017)

bad, bullshit, films, fucking awful, fucking ridiculous, Gerard Butler, reviews, terrible, uninspired, unintentionally funny

There was a time, back in about 2012, when I genuinely believed that Gerard Butler was going to be a great actor. I admit, this was mostly to do with the film Coriolanus where he blew everyone’s minds by being fucking awesome in Shakespeare. Since then, Hollywood has continued to cast him in underwhelming action movies or shitty romantic-comedies. How many of you out there can name a Gerard Butler movie that they enjoyed? Okay, I’m sure a few of you will have said 300 but then we have to get into the whole Zack Snyder debate. I mean the guy fucking sucks! Look at what he’s doing to DC. I mean I’ll give him Watchmen because I was one of the few people who liked it. Anyway, I can’t get into this again. So, ignoring 300 (because we’ll never agree) name a Gerard Butler film that you actually like? It fucking tricky, right? Can you even name 5 Gerard Butler movies? They all pretty much meld into one so it’s really difficult to tell them apart. Kind of like Vin Diesel, if you’ve seen one Gerard Butler film then you’ve seen them all. Or at least that’s what I thought before Geostorm came out. I genuinely believe that this film marks the very moment that Gerard Butler became the new Nicolas Cage. It was a film that looked so preposterous that I never planned on seeing it. The kind of film based around such dodgy scientific fact that you walk out of it feeling like fucking Stephen Hawking compared to the writers. Still, I wasn’t counting on being full of cold this week. I wanted to watch and review the new Netflix film Mudbound because it looks bloody amazing. My brain wasn’t quite prepared for that though. So yesterday, overcome by the various fluids that are slowly filling the hole where my face normally resides, I decided it was a good idea to actually watch the film that made Gerard Butler one of the most unconvincing American scientists ever seen on-screen. I mean, it is only about 109 minutes long. Even in as close to a snotty death as I was, that was a length I could manage.

Tuesday’s Reviews – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017)

bullshit, Disney, fucking awful, fucking ridiculous, fucking stupid, Javier Bardem, Johnny Depp, Keira Knightley, pirates, sequel, unnecessary sequel

Let’s be honest, even leaving the possible domestic abuse to one side, Johnny Depp has well and truly gone rogue in recent years. No offence to the man but he’s kind of a walking parody of himself these days. I mean I wouldn’t be shocked to discover that the actor genuinely believes he is Captain Jack Sparrow. It’s the only thing that explains the fact that he won’t stop making Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Watching the 4th film was painful enough; those fucking mermaids man. Then we have to suffer the indignity of a 5th. It just stinks of desperation. This has been a dying franchise since the 2nd film because, let’s face it, there was only so far you could go making films based on a fucking theme park ride. Yet, Disney keep flogging that dead horse and are back with Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. A film that, for some unknown reason, was renamed Salazar’s Revenge in the UK. Now, it was bad enough that I actually watched this film but to have to watch it with this god awful title? That’s too much. So I’m defying my geography and referring only to the superior title. Salazar’s Revenge? For fuck’s sake, that sounds like a really terrible soap opera or something. This is the POTC movie that, basically, nobody asked for so to give it such an underwhelming name for its European distribution just seems like a super bad idea. Although, with the news that a 6th film is dependent on DVD sales it may actually pay off for us in the long term.

It seems to me that there are two types of people in the world. There are those who have slowly but surely grown sick of the same Captain Jack Sparrow shtick that has become so tired and predictable over the last 4 POTC movies. Then there are those with brains so tiny that they’d be endlessly amused just from looking at their own hands. Since the first Pirates of the Caribbean film wowed audiences in 2003 very little has changed about the character. There has been little, if any, development over the span of 4 films and he feels less like a character than a series of mannerisms at this point. We saw, from the disappointing On Stranger Tides, that Jack cannot hold a movie on his own so, to try and reinvent the wheel, the franchises 5th outing is going back to its roots. We see the return of original stars Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley and Geoffrey Rush as well a carbon copy of the plot. All wrapped up in a package that is nowhere near as polished as any of the Gore Verbinski’s three films. So, it was never going to go well.

The powers that be have clearly decided that too much of Captain Sparrow can be bad thing and have, once again, placed him as second fiddle to a couple of bright young things. In this case it is Henry Turner (Brenton Thwaites), offspring of William Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley), and Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), an astronomer and horologist on a quest to complete her father’s work. Just like the first film, Will and Elizabeth 2.0 are both searching for some sort of mystical McGuffin (in this case it’s Poseidon’s trident) that will, supposedly, solve everyone’s problems. To do this they must ask for the help of everyone’s favourite rock star pirate, Captain Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp). At the same time, Jack is trying to outrun an old enemy (Javier Bardem) who is seeking both bloody vengeance and an end to his death curse. There’s also the inevitable appearance of the British navy who decide to get mixed up in everything. Dead Men Tell No Tales is clearly trying to recapture the excitement of the first but the ride isn’t as much fun this time round.

The main problem lies in the fact that, the more you examine the plot the less it makes sense. I mean how does Salazar know that Jack’s compass holds the key to his escape? Why, when they do escape, are they unable to step on land? What exactly is Barbossa’s motivation for anything? Why the fuck do British sailors go after the trident? There is so much included in the plot that, when you think about it, doesn’t add anything to the narrative. David Wenham turns up as the face of the British Empire but he has absolutely no impact on anything that happens. This film isn’t a well-crafted masterpiece but is just a series of events that come together to make the ending possible in the most dramatic way. Things need to happen so we can have the cycle of double-crossing that has become a requirement in this franchise. It’s just the most convenient and laziest way of making the story work.

Which, I guess, really isn’t a problem in itself. It’s just that there isn’t enough to distract us. Johnny Depps’ Captain Jack has become super irritating in the past few years so no amount of his weirdness is enough to keep you on board. Even Javier Bardem, who is the greatest Bond villain of recent years, doesn’t feel as invested in the character of Salazar as he should be. The character may be a triumph of CGI but he never feels like the most terrifying of foes. Of course, there are some fine action sequences at the start of the film but as time moves on these become more absurd and confusing. An early sequence that sees Henry save Jack and Carina from being executed is a fabulous sequence in the same vain as the Gore Verbinski era but it quickly just descends into madness. The final showdown is just a mess of CGI with no elegance or coherence.

I was genuinely shocked to discover that this film is actually the shortest in the franchise. It definitely felt longer than any of the previous films. Watching it from start to finish seemed like a fucking marathon. There simply isn’t any life in this franchise anymore. Or at least in the franchise as it once was. I think the days of Johnny Depp doing his Keith Richards impression are well and truly over. If this is going to continue, and really I don’t think it should, there should be a change of direction. People will try to defend Dead Men Tell No Tales as being mindless entertainment. I defy that statement. This film isn’t mindless entertainment: it’s just mindless.

TBT – Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2008)

films, fucking ridiculous, Jack Black, John C. Reilly, Judd Apatow, meh, parody, Paul Rudd, reviews


Yesterday I left work a little early after feeling super ill all day. I was knocking back pints of ginger beer and peppermint tea in the hopes that it would prevent the waves of nausea that kept hitting me like a tsunami. So when I finally got home all I wanted to do was get into bed and watch the film I always watch when I’m sick. I know it’s a bit of cliche but how can anyone watch anything other than The Princess Bride when they’re stuck in bed? Well, as luck would have it, I couldn’t find my copy of the film so had to pick something else. Thankfully, the case of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? flashed out at me from the shelves and, as I haven’t seen it in ages, I thought it would be a nice treat. If only the fucking DVD had been where it was meant to be. So, to top off an already shitty day, I’m left blankly staring at a sea of films that I’m really not in the mood for. So I do what any person would do in 2017 when they can’t make up their mind: I googled it. Well, I googled “random film generator” and eventually came up with this. I’d never seen Walk Hard before but I used to live with a guy who spent ages trying to convince me it was the
greatest thing ever. I also adore everything about John C Reilly. So, after spending way too long on such an insignificant decision, I was finally wrapped up in the bed I’d been dreaming about since 9 am that morning.

For a time, it looked as though the early 2000s was a time of the music biopic. There was Ray, Walk the Line, La Vie en Rose, I’m Not There and god knows how many more all out within the first decade of the noughties. Despite being based on the real life of musicians, all of these films end up following the same sort of pattern. We see a troubled young wannabe struggle to get past their childhood, sliding out of obscurity into the big time and stopping off to sample women, booze and drugs before they finally become legends. It’s your average from zero to hero success story that oh so wonderfully follows the equation for the American dream. So it was only natural that Judd Apatow would see it as a genre was rife for parody. I mean I’m Not There already felt like a ridiculous spoof as it was so why not make a film that actually meant to be funny?

So in walks Dewey Cox played by John C. Reilly: a legendary rock star who has overcome a childhood trauma to become a decade spanning superstar. What is that trauma, you ask? Cutting his older bother, a gift pianist, in half with a machete. The death ways heavily on Dewey’s father, who blames his remaining son, and on Dewey himself, who believes he needs to produce enough success for the both of them. This is what drives him to pick up a guitar and aim for the big time. As he embarks on a massive tour, he finds himself drawn into the ever expanding world of drugs and groupies until he meets the woman of his dreams. Backing singer Darlene (Jenna Fischer) catches his eye immediately and, after singing a raunchy duet together, the chemistry becomes too much to ignore. With her help, Dewey is able to realise what is truly important to him.

There is a lot to enjoy about Walk Hard but it is a concept that never really reaches great heights. John C Reilly’s performance as Dewey is superb as he plays everything with a naive charm. Reilly’s musical talents were hardly a secret before this film but we now see how adept he is at imitation. Dewey goes through several changes of style during his career and Reilly becomes almost chameleon esque as he channels the likes of Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, Elvis, Bob Dylan and the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson. It’s a highly impressive turn that, if I’m honest, this film doesn’t really deserve. Co-writers Judd Apatow and Jake Kasdan made the perfect choice in casting the actor because it is his straight-faced and sincere performance that holds all of this together. Well, that and some amazing original songs. The soundtrack is truly remarkable in that it manages to be both hilarious and an incredibly well composed bunch of songs. Each one is a great quality and really represents the musical style of the time it was supposed to be mimicking. Again, it is something that this film didn’t really deserve.

It’s not that Walk Hard isn’t a good film or that it isn’t a humour spoof of the genre. It does everything it wants to quite well but it doesn’t exactly push itself. The jokes don’t exactly come thick and fast and, if I’m honest, a lot of them don’t quite land. This film would have worked better if it wasn’t too obviously trying to sell itself as a parody. The jokes that are desperate and downright silly get old really quickly. There’s a fantastic moment later in the film when Dewey ends up dropping acid with the Beatles in India. The Fab Four are played by Jack Black, Paul Rudd, Justin Long and Jason Schwartzman. Now these are obviously not the four actors you’d get to play the Beatles in any ordinary circumstances but it is the stand out scene in the entire film. In fact, all of the slightly miscast celeb “cameos” are hilarious. These clever bits of movie making just make the incredibly silly and unnecessary moments seem worse than they are. The times Walk Hard when this flies are the times when John C Reilly is allowed to get on with the job of playing the character. If this had been played a tad straighter then it could have been a different thing all together.

TBT – The Parole Officer (2001)

British, comedy, crime, cringe, films, fucking awful, fucking ridiculous, fucking stupid, meh, Steve Coogan, TBT


When you’re the creator of an iconic character it can be super difficult to get yourself out from under its shadow. Steve Coogan has tried to move away from just being the guy who plays Alan Partridge but nothing else has ever really stuck. Let’s be honest, he’s appeared in some utter shite over the years and it’s not been pretty. In more recent years he has made the move that most comedy performers over a certain age try and picked more serious roles. Gone straight if you will. It was a different story back in 2001 when he co-wrote and starred in his own British comedy crime caper. For some reason, when The Parole Officer came out it was constantly being compared to the Ealing crime comedies from the 1950s and 1960s. I guess there were just no real expectations for British comedies in the early 2000s so anything that got made was deemed kind of successful. It was the same year that the Vinnie Jones comedy vehicle Mean Machine and a film about a hairdresser from Keighley starring Alan Rickman were released, after all. When the greatest British comedy to be released that year was Bridget Jones’ Diary then maybe I can see why people got so excited. Nowadays, Coogan seems pretty embarrassed to have ever made the film and, in 2015, stated that he doesn’t understand why anyone likes it. I’ve known a load of people who loved this film but, really, they aren’t the kind of people who I would ever seek advice from. On any subject matter. However, it’s been a really long time since I saw this film so, after I so harshly critiqued it during my Tuesday review this week, I decided it was time to see if it really was as bad as I remembered.

Alan Partridge claimed The Parole Officer was “unarguably the greatest film ever made”. We have to assume that he’s at least a little biased, of course, on account of it being his creator, Steve Coogan’s film, and, you know, cause he’s a fucking fictional character. Rewatching the film in 2017 I was struck by 2 things: number 1, Stannis Baratheon and Cersei Lannister are both pretending to be British police officers and, number 2, this is a fucking awful film. It’s weird to think of a time when Steve Coogan was having to try so fucking hard to make it in Hollywood but this film is proof of the murky depths he was once willing to sink to. It’s sad and more cringe inducing than anything Alan Partridge has done in his illustrious career. The major positive I have for it is, because it was made during a time when British comedies tended not to wander too far beyond the 90 minute mark, it’s short. I mean it still felt like I was watching it for a good few days but, in reality, I didn’t actually have to waste too much time on it.

The Parole Officer is not a fresh British comedy and, instead, uses a really tired situation but with additionally gross-out gags. It’s trying to do the same thing that Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg did so successfully just 3 years later with Shaun of the Dead but failing. With their Cornetto Trilogy, Wright and Pegg managed to repurpose the narratives of classic Hollywood genres for use in a UK landscape without it seeming too gimmicky. Here, Coogan and co-writer, Henry Normal, just lazily implant the premise of films like The Italian Job in the North of England. It just ends up being overly twee and nonsensical. It needed a more careful hand instead of just putting Coogan on a rollercoaster in Blackpool and calling it a day. It’s just infuriating to watch this film and know how much better it could have been. Instead, the narrative is just a mess that is full of holes, dropped storylines and so many awful attempts to push comedy where there shouldn’t be any.

Coogan, obviously, has the starring role as the titular Parole Officer, Simon Garden, who accidentally witnesses a murder carried out by a corrupt cop (Stephen Dillane). He is threatened with going to prison for the crime unless he shuts his mouth and leaves Manchester forever. In order to clear his name, Simon puts together a plan to rob a banks and retrieve a VHS tape showing the truth. He creates a crew using the only 3 criminals that he has successfully convinced to go straight and a teenage joy rider he was trying to help. At the same time, Simon is attempting to romance the way out of his league WPC Emmap (Lena Headey) who, for reasons not shown during the film, has fallen for the charms that nobody else seems to realise Simon has.

Despite boasting a great cast, everything about The Parole Officer feels kind of flat. The actors all do as great a job as they can but it never comes together. It always feels like we’re watching a terrible film instead of being engrossed in a fantastically woven tale. Although, Dillane is memorable as the bent copper who threatens Simon and the trio of ex-criminals fair much better than Coogan himself. It helps that they are played by the likes of Om Puri and Ben Miller, of course, but they all get some fairly decent moments. What is majorly disappointing is that none of the characters have any real depth. Coogan clearly has a talent for creating well-rounded characters but nobody, not even Simon, feels fleshed out. You don’t really know anything about anybody or why we should give a shit about them. This film is so desperate to get to the action and the gags that it skips the important stuff.

There is certainly an issue with pacing and editing in this film. The first 30 minutes are a confusing mess which feels as though major parts of the story have been cut. People suddenly talk to each other like old friends and seem to know things they really shouldn’t. And that’s exactly the point where you realise that you still have an hour of this shit to sit through. The script has a decent stab at creating some comedy to move things along but most of it falls flat in the end. There are a couple of really funny moments but, for the most part, it relies too heavily on physical comedy or gross-out gags. I can see why Steve Coogan regrets making this film. I regretted watching it again before I was even half-way through. There is very little to really celebrate here. It deserves props for getting such an amazing cast together but it ruins it by not giving them anything to do. Considering how great we know Coogan can be, The Parole Officer it’s even more insane that this film is as bad as it is.

Tuesday’s Reviews – Mindhorn (2017)

cops, films, fucking creepy, fucking funny, fucking ridiculous, fucking weird, parody, reviews, Steve Coogan, the mighty boosh

I guess I’ve always had a bit of a weird sense of humour but, as I get older, it’s becoming more and more obvious to m that people are just nodding politely whenever I’m trying to be funny. Years ago, my twin sister prepared me to meet her boyfriend for the first time by uttering the phrase “don’t be weird”. There’s nothing quite like sisterly love, eh? So, yeah, you could say I’m a bit strange at times. I blame television. Okay, I blame the television I grew up watching. I was a huge fan of weird British comedies like Spaced, The Adam and Joe Show, Alan PartridgeThe League of Gentlemen, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, Peep Show, and, most importantly for the purposes of this post, The Mighty Boosh. Now, and I feel super fucking old having to write this, it’s been 10 years since the final episode of the show aired and the pair have gone on to other things. Noel Fielding has entered the murky, innuendo filled world of baking shows whilst Julian Barratt has done bits and bobs in films, television, and theatre. Maybe its just his Northern charm but I have always absolutely adored Julian Barratt. I knew plenty of girls around my age who were major fans of Vince Noir’s face. Personally, I was always a bit in love with Howard Moon. So, when Mindhorn was announced I was beyond excited. Of course, being as useless as always, I never got round to watching it… until now.

From what I can recall, Bruce Mindhorn first made an appearance in The Mighty Boosh radio show as a poet taking part in a talent competition. Clearly, since then, he’s gone through a bit of an identity crisis and rebranded himself as the greatest law enforcer on the Isle of Man. Detective Bruce Mindhorn, gifted with a cybernetic eye that could see the truth, was the star of a hit 1980s tv cop show played by actor Richard Thorncroft (Julian Barratt). Caught up in the wave of popularity that came with his role in the show, Richard left the Isle of Man to make it in Hollywood. Cut to 25 years later and Richard is a shadow of the man he once was but, thanks to a handy murder, he is about to be given an opportunity to turn his life around. A young girl’s body has been found and the deluded prime suspect is demanding to speak to Detective Mindhorn. Can Richard get back into character and help the police capture their man? Or will his quest for fame hinder the investigation?

Written by and starring Barratt and Simon Farnaby, Mindhorn isn’t exactly what you’d call cutting edge. We’ve seen the basic premise of a washed-up former star getting one last chance for redemption countless times. The plot is hardly a stretch but it does provide some fun. It introduces us to the weird, slightly awkward and occasionally laugh out loud funny world of Richard Thorncroft and, despite being incredibly similar, it’s still ever so slightly better than 2013’s Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa. A great deal of the humour comes thick and fast in the opening scenes where we learn the history of Bruce Mindhorn and the people associated with the show. The spoofs on classics like Bergerac and Six Million Dollar Man are spectacular and you can well believe, now more than ever, that a show that insane would have been broadcast. Throughout the film there are hints as the same kind of zany humour that filled all 3 series of The Mighty Boosh but, kind of, more rooted in reality. I’m not going to pretend the jokes hit every single time but there is enough comedic energy to keep driving the meagre plot forward.

What absolutely helps is that all of the actors tackle their roles with aplomb. Julian Barratt’s clearly doesn’t give a shit about anything but making people laugh. Up for anything, his portrayal of Throncroft is both hilarious and strangely touching. The obvious narrative wouldn’t work anywhere near as well as it does if you didn’t, despite everything, actually give a shit about this guy. As he slowly realises what an arse he’s been, you’ll find all of that initial annoyance fading away. His co-writer is on less solid ground as Thorncroft’s ex-stuntman, Clive, thanks to a Dutch accent that is only marginally better than the one last heard in Austin Powers: Goldmember but you’ve got to give him props for happily walking around the Isle of Man topless and wearing denim short shorts. Russell Tovey puts every effort into his role as The Kestrel, the deluded young man who the police are chasing and holds his fair share of the laughs. Steve Coogan pops his head up as Thorncroft’s ex-costar who found insane fame thanks to a spin-off from the original show. It’s hardly Coogan’s best or most memorable work but it sure beats anything he did in the early 2000s (*cough* The Parole Officer *cough*).

Which, ultimately, is fine. Mindhorn is an uneven and kind of mediocre comedy that will appeal to fans of Barratt and those who miss the glory days of 70s cop shows. It is, in a way, a warning to the idea of nostalgia and fandoms that never quite finds its voice enough to relay its message. What is does, for the most part, is manage to be funny. Not as much as it would have liked but, you know, God loves a trier. And yes, it does have the whiff of a 30 minute TV episode that has been stretched out for the big screen but, aside from a few plot strands that do nowhere, it’s super easy to mask the smell. Mindhorn won’t be for everyone, I realise, but, after dismal big screen appearances from both Alan Partridge and David Brent in recent years, Barratt has managed to move his brand of comedy to film. Yes, this is very different from a Mighty Boosh movie but, maybe, that’s why it works as well as it does. This film isn’t trying to be fresh or relevant. It just wants to make you laugh and, goddammit, it occasionally will do.

TBT – Very Bad Things (1998)

bullshit, films, fucking awful, fucking ridiculous, meh, reviews, TBT


As I mentioned on Tuesday, I have seen quite a few comments recently bemoaning the fact that Rough Night is basically a female remake of the 90s film Very Bad Things. I don’t know how, why or when I saw Very Bad Things but I was probably far too young and channel hopping late at night. I can’t say that I remember it all that fondly and didn’t see that there would be a problem with a film taking a similar premise using female actors instead.Apparently, I didn’t count on a load of random people out there who believe this to be the best film of all time. According to the fan reviews on IMDB this is best dark comedy that has ever been created. I just didn’t buy it.  I mean, we all know that standards for films were lower in the 90s. Joel Schumacher’s Batman films are all the evidence you need for that. So I decided it was time to revisit the film and see if I’d forgotten the brilliance somewhere over the years. I doubted very much that I had but what is life if you aren’t willing to take risks, right?

Very Bad Things introduces us to groom-to-be Kyle Fisher (Jon Favreau) who is in the final stages of planning his wedding to fiancé Laura (Cameron Diaz). Whilst Laura is obsessively planning her dream wedding, Kyle and his four friends are eagerly awaiting their trip to Vegas for the bachelor party. Their night in Vegas quickly becomes intense as the group partake in a lethal cocktail of drugs and alcohol. After best man, Robert Boyd (Christian Slater), arranges for a stripper/prostitute to visit the guys’ hotel room, a wasted Michael Berkow (Jeremy Piven) agrees to pay her for sex. Unfortunately, the encounter leads to the hooker’s death and the men clueless on how to deal with it. Michael’s brother, Adam (Daniel Stern) wants to phone the police but, after also killing a hotel security guard, Boyd manages to convince the group that their only choice is to bury the bodies in the desert. Unable to forget what has happened in the run up to the wedding, each of the men become more and more unhinged and Boyd becomes more willing to make deadly sacrifices to cover everything up.

Very Bad Things starts off as a pretty interesting premise. A group of men let off too much steam and end up with a body on their hands. Things quickly get out of hand and the narrative just ramps up the pressure to a ridiculous rate. What could have been a funny, dark comedy just becomes more and more absurd as it moves forward. It just reeks of desperation and ends up feeling a little sad. It’s certainly not funny as most of the situations it tries to create humour from are just uncomfortable. There’s a whole sequence revolving around Jewish beliefs as the group prepare to bury the bodies that is played out as if it’s funny but it feels anything but. There is so much questionable humour on show here: potentially racist, sexist, and just plain offensive material is frequently introduced as grounds for comedy. I’m all for humour that raises questions but these aren’t the kind of questions I need to be raised. 
The question I need answered is this: who thought this film was a good idea. Very Bad Things has so much confidence in its abilities to be funny that there were times when I thought there must be something wrong with me. Aside from a handful of funny moments early on, which were all thrown away without a second thought, there was nothing here that made me laugh. It’s main aim seems to be shock value, which is why things get so unnecessarily dramatic and bloody as the story moves on. The narrative doesn’t make sense as it stands and the tone really doesn’t make it effective enough. It is a film that struggles to be one thing or another. It wants to be a tense and violent thriller but also a side-splitting dark comedy that pushed the boundaries. It fails to be either and just ends up being a bland affair with a huge fake-blood budget. And the less said about the ending the better frankly.