book haul, books, currently reading, John C. Reilly, Netflix, Penguin Books, recently watched, rundown

This week has seen me get more than a little bit nostalgic. My oldest friend, I’ve known her since I was about 4 years old, is turning 30 in a couple of weeks. She celebrated last night so I’ve been looking through old photos organising a present. I wouldn’t say that I’m exactly bothered about turning 30 but I am struggling to accept that I’m not where I thought I’d be by this age. Looking back just 15 years and the change is huge. I has the naive belief that I’d have left university and got the job of my dreams incredibly easily. I was set up by the television and films of my childhood to think that adult life was easy. Instead, I’m still madly searching for a job and still living with my parents. It’s not exactly the stuff that dreams are made of. Anyway, I’ve got my lovely books to help me escape from my real life problems. That’s why I need so many. The more problems then the more escape routes you need.
Currently Reading

  • The Answers by Catherine Lacey
Fingers crossed by the time I go to bed tonight this will be done and dusted.

Recently Purchased 
  • Vintage Penguins

I was so excited to write that I hadn’t bought anything this week before I remembered I found a couple of my favourite books in vintage Penguin form. Any readers who follow me on Instagram will know, I’m something of an amateur collector of vintage Penguin editions and if I ever come across a good one I’ll buy it. So as soon as I came across a copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray and The Great Gatsby I knew there was no other option. They were a bit more expensive than I usually prefer, moving toward the £10-15 mark) but these are two of my all time favourite books. I think it’s worth it.

Recently Watched 
  • Netflix Binges: Modern FamilyWestworld
As of today my NOW TV subscription has run out and I will, eventually, be returning to Netflix. I think. Before it ended I managed to finish Westworld and I’m not entirely sure what I think about it. I want to like it and there are many parts that I do. Thandie Newton was incredible as was Ed Harris and Anthony Hopkins. However, there’s something about it that just gets to me and I’m not sure what it is. The Dolores storyline bugged me a bit and I think there were too many smug monologues. I like the themes at play but there was something annoyingly pretentious about the first series that I hope the second loses. I want to get to know the characters more because, right now, I don’t think there’s enough depth there. We’ll see.

  • Atomic Blonde
I never really had a dream job when I was a kid but, as of right now, my dream job is Charlize Theron. She’s the only reason I was super excited about Atomic Blonde. Read my review of it here.

  • Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story
Is there anyone out there who doesn’t love John C Reilly? I could watch a lot of shit films starring him and not completely hate them. He’s so fucking charming and funny that he can make anything work. I finally watched his parody of Walk the Line for TBT this week. Read my thoughts if you wish.

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 – Step Brothers (2008)

buddy comedy, family, fucking funny, John C. Reilly, silly, TBT, Will Ferrell

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.