Sunday Rundown – That’s What She Read

book haul, books, currently reading, Hugh Grant, Julia Roberts, Netflix, Paul Rudd, recently watched, Steve Carell, stranger things, Will Ferrell
Yesterday was Remembrance Day and, as usual, we had a 2 minute silence at 11am at work. Except, we weren’t given our usual warning before it started and I was so distracted by what I was doing that I didn’t realise what time it was and started chatting away whilst everyone else was silent. It was awful. One of those moments where you have an out of body experience and just start shouting at yourself to ‘shut the fuck up’. Thankfully, it wasn’t for the entire 2 minutes but I can imagine all the customers sitting silently and listening to me gabbing away to myself. I was mortified. I think it’s such an important practice so can’t think of anything less disrespectful. I recently read somewhere that about a third of young people are refusing to wear poppies because they believe it glorifies war. If it’s true and not just journalistic sensationalism then it’s absolutely fucking ridiculous. How can you be accused of glorifying conflict by remembering the people who died to bring freedom to persecuted people? Also, the money raised actually helps the armed forces. It’s not promoting war but helping people who have been affected by it. I don’t whether it’s just that I, having read a load of WW1 poetry in my time, have a pretty good grip on the grim reality of the conditions facing soldiers in the ‘Great War’ but I think wearing a poppy is an important practice. It doesn’t mean your buying into the notion that war fixes everything but it means we’ll, hopefully, learn from out past. Anyway, I wasn’t planning on getting in to this so let’s just get down to business.

Weekly Blog Posts


With nothing else to review this week I decided to watch a film that I’d been recommended to watch on Netflix. 6 Days is about a historical British event that I knew very little about so I was quite interested in watching it. See what I thought here.


Before Halloween I reread And Then There Were None by Agath Christie. I always love revisiting her novels because they are so charming and British. I wrote down my initial thoughts here.

  • TBT – NOTTING HILL (1999)

Another case of just watching whatever I could be bothered to click on when I was browsing Netflix. I’ve never been a big fan of Richard Curtis’ romantic comedies but, as it’s been a while, I sat down to watch Notting Hill. My review can be found here.

Currently Reading

  • Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
I’ve done some reading this week but, after a particularly difficult day at work, I was forced to stop mid chapter. I hate doing that so haven’t picked up the book again. I still adore it but it’s getting darker as it goes on. I realise it’s par for the course that a novel about an escaped slave being hunted would be a difficult read but the moments with the real underground railroad were so light and happy.

Recently Purchased 
  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

I’ve never read this book so when I came across the gorgeous Centennial Edition whilst browsing Amazon I couldn’t resist. And I always believe that buying a book for the cover and because it’s a piece of classic literature makes it an okay kind of purchase. I was probably going to read it eventually so I might as well buy a nice version of it.

Recently Watched 
  • Netflix Binges: Stranger Things, Anchorman 2, American Vandal
I finally got to the end of Season 1 of Stranger Things again and it was wonderful going back. I didn’t think it would be possible to love Hopper anymore but it’s happened. I’m obsessed. What is so great about season 1 is the relationships between the four main kids and how up and down it was. Dustin as mediator is just adorable. The only thing I didn’t like it Steve being a dick for most of the season. His character development between seasons was fabulous and now he’s one of my favourites. Although, that final showdown with the Demogorgon let him have his moment. Here’s to rewatching Season 2. Today, I’ve had a pretty lazy day and have just watched films. I decided to rewatch Anchorman 2 and I’ve decided that, whilst it’s not great, it’s better than I first thought. Finally, I watched the entire first series of Netflix’s true crime parody American Vandal. It’s super silly but also a really clever parody of the genre. I’d recommend it to anyone and I happily await a second series.


book haul, books, comic books, currently reading, Harry Potter, Netflix, recently watched, Will Ferrell

So I’ve survived the first week on my own without any major incidents or going insane. I have to admit I’ve got into something of an OAP type routine in the last few days when I had a run of early shifts. I started to eat around 5pm and head to bed about 9. It’s so fucking rock and roll I can’t function. Tonight was a little different though. I didn’t eat until after 7pm. It was a massive shock to the system. Tonight my twin sister invited me round for dinner. I imagine this was mainly to make sure I hadn’t starved whilst being alone. It was a lovely evening but my routine is a little off. Which is why I’m writing this now and watching the season 1 finale of The Handmaid’s Tale. So I’m feeling a mixture of contentment, panicked and traumatised right now. But I’ll get through. Well, not so much the trauma… this show is fucked up. I love it! Now, I’d best get to bed because it’s now way past my new bedtime.

Currently Reading

  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
I really need to get on with reading this now. I’m arranging a night with a few of the girls at work to have a night of Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit. I’ve played this game before with my family on Christmas Day. I managed to beat my Potter-mad brother-in-law to take the title so have been a little cocky about the prospect of playing again. However, I worry that my friends are a little more knowledgeable than my family. Especially when one of them is currently re-reading the series at a much fast pace than I am. I need to pick up the little details to win. Although, I also remember these mainly being about the film versions so maybe I can just cheat a bit? 
  • The 7th Function of Language by Laurent Binet
I finally feel like I’m getting somewhere with this book. I mean… nowhere great but somewhere. The investigation into Bathes’ death is picking up and we’re close to getting more information about the mysterious document. I’m obsessed with the narrative but am still finding it so difficult to pick up the book. Also, as the book goes on the chapter get bigger which means I find it harder to finish a chapter before I fall asleep. I have fewer early shifts this week so I’m hoping I can get through more before bed this week.

Recently Purchased 

Thankfully, I bought no books this week. I didn’t need any and, considering how little I’ve read, I didn’t deserve any either.

Recently Watched 
  • Netflix Binges: Teachers
Slowly getting through the second series of Teachers. It’s been wonderful repeating this experience. Series 2 is the one that I remember the most so it’s been even more nostalgic than the first. Andrew Lincoln leaves at the end of this one and everything gets kind of shit after this. I’m not even sure that I’ll finish the next 2 series.
  • The House
I didn’t really want to see this film but I ended up watching it this week. See what I thought in my Tuesday Review this week.

  • Casa de mi Padre
To go with my other Will Ferrell watch, I watched this 2012 Spanish language parody. I wasn’t expecting greatness but did it surprise me? Find out in my TBT review this week.

TBT – Casa de mi Padre (2012)

comedy, Diego Luna, films, fucking weird, Gael García Bernal, parody, silly, TBT, Will Ferrell

On Tuesday I criticised Will Ferrell’s new film The House for being short at 88 minutes long. Casa di mi Padre undercuts that by 3 minutes. So, if you thought I was harsh to the former then just wait until I get started on the latter. Until I watched it specifically for this review I’d never seen this film before. I used to pride myself on watching every film that Will Ferrell starred in but, over the years, I’ve really become quite lax in my viewing. I think it was probably around the Bewitched era when it just became a bit too much for me. I feel as though I’m on fairly safe ground with any kind of Will Ferrell/Adam McKay combination but the pair only act as one of the many producers for this film. Instead it is a combined effort of ex-SNL writer, Andrew Steele’s, script and Funny or Die co-creator, Matt Piedmont, in the director’s chair. I can’t say that, after seeing the disappointing results of a union between Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler, I wasn’t exactly excited to see this. Especially when it couldn’t even find enough comedy to fill a 90 minute running time. Then again, maybe it’s just so well-developed that anything over 85 minutes would be too much for the audience to handle? It’s possible, right?

You know that Will Ferrell character who starts off being a mild-mannered, lovable loser who is forced to become a badass? You might well ask “which one?” because, these days, it’s fucking all of them. He’s the guy we saw it in The Other Guys, The House, Get Hard, and Daddy’s Home. No doubt there are countless others that I just never got round to seeing. Casa de mi Padre is different, though, because Ferrell turns into a badass whilst speaking Spanish. Genius! Casa de mi Padre is the telenovela parody that nobody wanted or needed Ferrell to be a part of. A film that combines subtitles, an impressive cast, including Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna, an utterly silly narrative and, underwhelming jokes. What’s not to love?

We have seen Ferrell take on many unlikely guises over the years but this has to be one of the more out there ones. He plays Armando Álvarez, a Mexican rancher on his father’s cattle ranch. His world is turned upside down when his younger brother, Raúl (Diego Luna), returns to the homestead with a beautiful fiance, Sonia (Génesis Rodríguez), in tow. Armando not only instantly falls for his future sister-in-law but discovers that his brother is a drugs dealers who has come back to finish his war with fellow dealer Onza (Gael García Bernal). When Sonia is put in danger, Armando has to prove himself to everyone who saw him as the useless brother.

It’s hardly the most exicting or original story we’ve ever seen but that is probably more to do with the genre it is parodying. This isn’t really a film that wants to do something new and exciting but that wants to give Ferrell and co the chance to go all out with their performances. The problem is, there isn’t enough within Casa di mi Padre to get a lot of laughs out of. That’s not to say that there aren’t any enjoyable moments in the film but they are few and far between. Most of the humour is forced through obvious spoofs of the television dramas it is based on. There are dodgy backdrops, ‘hilarious’ bad continuity, and terrible editing. Still, there are a couple of memorable moments that will get more than a mere titter form the audience. It’s just a shame that there aren’t more.

Honestly, there is never a point where Casa di mi Padre feels like a real film. It’s more like a sketch that really outstays it’s welcome or a fake trailer that would briefly go viral before becoming irrelevant. Unfortunately, it is a real film and it stars real actors. They all give it their best shot but there is just too little for them to work with. It never really strikes a balance between serious or silly. Ferrell always gives 100% to every part he plays but there isn’t enough to Armando for it to ever come to anything. His Spanish lines always feel too awkward to feel real but not silly enough to feel intentional. This could have been a wonderful and fresh comedy but it just feels cheap and pointless.

Tuesday’s Reviews – The House (2017)

Amy Poehler, bullshit, comedy, films, fucking awful, fucking ridiculous, meh, reviews, Will Ferrell

Will Ferrell is one of those comedians that you can trust to be funny whatever he’s doing. Through the years, I’ve happily watched and enjoyed every film starring him that I’ve ever seen. Even the shit ones, like Daddy’s Home for example, have something fairly entertaining in them. The guy always gives his all in a role and is so naturally hilarious that you’ll find yourself crying with laughter at the stupidest things. So I kind of feel like I’m on solid ground with him and that’s before you even consider that Amy Poehler is also in it. Combine the pair and you have a powerhouse of SNL alumni. Of course, things start to unravel when you look at how the film is being marketed. It’s very telling that neither Ferrell or Poehler seem very eager to talk about the film itself. Interviews aren’t treated as a place to talk about the film but simply about getting the pair in front of a camera. Will Ferrell has done some shit films in the past so when he’s keeping shtum about a film then you know it’s embarrassing. 1 hour and 28 minutes worth of embarrassing. Yep, The House can’t even hit the 90 minute mark and we’ve all heard the one about good films
coming in short run times. Well, even if this is going to be shit at least it’s not going to be shit for too long. Let’s be thankful for small mercies.

The House is one of the films that sounds really good on paper. Taking two fabulous comedians, a great supporting cast of funny people, and giving them an interesting premise to work with. It should have been simple. When their daughter gets accepted into the university of her dreams, Scott and Kate Johansen (Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler) are over the moon. Until they discover that the scholarship they were being offered by the town has been scraped in favour of an exciting new town pool. In order to drive the plot forward, neither Scott or Kate had prepared for any other eventuality and have failed to put aside any money to pay for their daughter’s tuition. You kind of have to question parents who are this lackadaisical with regards to their child’s future. And, also, how far in advance does the town pick a child to fund? Did they know she was getting the cash from birth or was it just super lucky that her name was drawn?

Of course, I know the answers to these questions: because the narrative demands it. When the pair find themselves unable to send their precious daughter to her dream school they accept their weird friend, Frank’s (Jason Mantzoukas), suggestion that they open an underground casino in his empty home. Frank, as it turns out, is a gambling addict who is going through a divorce and in danger of losing his coincidentally casino-sized house. We all know that “the House always wins” so why not become the House? The mild-mannered parents take to their life of crime and wealth and embrace everything about it. Kate becomes addicted to weed whilst Scott unwittingly becomes a casino heavy who uses force to get patrons to pay their debts. Things quickly get out-of-hand as the narrative gets more and more extreme. Finally, ending with political cover-ups and a crazed mob boss played by  Jeremy Renner, in a completely underwhelming cameo.

The House isn’t the biggest disaster that you’ll ever watch at the cinema but you can’t get away from the fact that it’s just not good. You’ll probably watch it and think it’s okay but that will mostly be down to the three leads. All three actors at the film’s centre put everything into their characters but it can’t be ignored that there isn’t really much there. If I’m honest, I had to look up everyone’s names because by the time the credits rolled I had no fucking clue who anyone was. They’re just bland and underdeveloped characters who just take part in outrageous activities with no real justification. Their actions always seem unnecessary or unexplained outside of the “we thought it would be funny” argument. There’s an utterly pointless plot-strand that sees Scott being rubbish with maths that really goes nowhere and is, in actuality, not as funny as it may have seen whilst writing the script.

It’s just not very inspiring. There isn’t time for an aspect of the film to evolve into something interesting or even funny. The humour is mostly derived from awful stereotypes that directly tie to the actor’s involved. This film just feels like several short sketches haphazardly stitched together to create the kind of quilt that you’d definitely tell people was made by your young child. Handily, for a film concerning parents experiencing empty nest syndrome, this film is equal parts embarrassing and sad to watch. There are very few genuine laughs to be found but plenty of places where the writer/director attempts to force it with lame gags or physical comedy. It makes me both sad and angry that Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler were subjected to this and that they both allowed it to happen. This is the kind of disaster that should never have been made. Turns out, The House doesn’t actually always win.


animals, animation, currently reading, just read, Marvel, Netflix, recently watched, Will Ferrell, X-Men

I feel like I’ve had a rough day at work. I can tell because, somehow, it’s 21:30 and I’ve just woken up with no idea where the time went. I think it’s because I had last weekend off so I forgot what it’s like. Still, I am writing this feel a sense of accomplishment because I’ve finally finished another book this year. That means I’m up to about 5. In 2.5 months. That doesn’t feel like a great rate when you put it like that. I need to find more time to read. I used to read on my break at work but I’m getting more sociable. I miss the days when I was a quiet introvert sat in the corner reading. I just need to stop making friends with the people I work with. It’s so distracting to the more important things in my life.

Just Finished

  • The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker
I finally finished this book. After all this time. It’s over. And, lacking anything to talk about on Tuesday, and because I haven’t done a book review in a while, I’m going to discuss it then. 

Currently Reading

  • The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion
Finishing my previous books means I finally get to start a new one. This one of the new novel by the writer of The Rosie Project. I read that book last year and, to my surprise, I didn’t hate it. I liked it but felt it was a bit predictable and cliched. I also thought that, despite the positive image it presents of Autism and the potential for love, it somewhat romanticised Don a little. He almost becomes the Asperger’s version of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. It meant I never read the follow up novel but it did make me excited for this one. It’s all about growing older and looking back on what you lost along the way.
Recently Purchased
  • The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (Illustrated by Alan Lee) 
I already own each of The Lord of the Rings books in various forms but I decided I wanted to buy these illustrated editions. I managed to find them all fairly cheap and I’m so excited. Lee’s illustrations are quite impressive and add something to the story. Tolkien didn’t illustrate these books much because he ended up hating the illustrations he did for The Hobbit. For the majority of texts, the most you’ll get is maps and images of runes and stuff. This is perfect for me but I was interested in seeing what Lee’s illustrations added to my reading experience. Plus, it’ll be the first full set I’ve ever owned.

Recently Watched
  • X2
In honour of the release of Logan and my review this week, I went back and watched this film. Not only was it my favourite in the entire X-Men film series but it was the only one that I hadn’t already reviewed. See what I thought in last week’s TBT review
  • Netflix binges: BoJack Horseman
A guy at work has constantly been recommending this to me but I’m never that sure about adult animated shows. Sometime they’re great but other times it just seems too pointless. Like someone is trying too hard to be risque and it just doesn’t make it. As I watched the first series I wasn’t really bothered until at least halfway through. It just felt like every alternative adult animated comedy and every other story about a middle-aged man doing awful things. Where was the originality? Other than the fact that the man in question is a horse that wasn’t much new or fresh about the show. It certainly picked up towards the end and series 2 feels better. It’s opened up more and given supporting characters more substance. There’s finally light at the end of the tunnel so I’ll definitely stick with it.

Top 10 Wen-sday: Top 10 Fictional Characters I’d Invite to Christmas Dinner

books, Christmas, comic books, Disney, Eddie Redmayne, ghostbusters, Gilmore Girls, Harry Potter, Kate McKinnon, list, Marvel, Melissa McCarthy, superhero, Top 10, Will Ferrell

It’s so close to Christmas it’s unreal. In 10 days it’ll be Christmas Eve. I think I’ve just about got my presents all sorted but who really knows. I’m not a fan of last minute shopping but I tend to need little stocking fillers as I go through the month. Still, I’m mostly there. As it’s a time of celebration I’m adding a few additional posts this month. Each year I’ve released a Christmas top 10: My Essential Christmas films and My Least Favourite Christmas films. So I’m planning on keeping them as festive as possible but I’m likely to run out of ideas by next week. We’ll see how it goes. For now, I decided to delve into the world of fantasy dinner party and decide who I’d invite to my ultimate Christmas celebration.
Ten: Brienne of Tarth

My main reasoning for including Brienne on this list is simply because it’s kind of a habit to include her on all of fictional character based lists. It’s no secret that she’s my favourite character in both the book and the show. It’s also no secret that I adore Gwendoline Christie. If Brienne came to my Christmas dinner then I’d spend most of the time just starring at her the way Torumund did at Castle Black.

Nine: Belle

Now I’m not talking about the Belle from the upcoming, unnecessary live action Beauty and the Beast as played by the annoying Emma Watson. Nor am I talking about the Belle on the show I’ve tried so hard to enjoy Once Upon a Time. No, I’m talking classic, animated Belle. She’s always been my favourite Disney princess because she loves books as much as I do. There’s nothing I enjoy more than talking about books and it’s something I don’t really get to do too often. So, I’d love nothing more than sitting in a post-Turkey daze and discussing my favourite novels with Belle. Unlike friends, she might appreciate the Romantic era fiction that I recommend to her. Of course, being so fucking cynical, I’d find her hopeless romantic thing quite annoying but it would be something we could happily debate on.

Eight: Holtzmann

Another of my latest character obsessions. Jillian Holtzmann is the greatest thing to come out of the Ghostbusters reboot and Kate McKinnon is such a fantastic performer. I’d love the chance to meet the Holtz but worry that she would make dinner a little awkward. Not that I don’t love awkward moments but, as a perfect host, I’d have to think about my guests. Still, I love her so she’s coming.

 Seven: Rob Fleming (High Fidelity)

High Fidelity is one of my favourite books and films. I love it. You may remember Rob was featured on my list of Top 5 Fictional Husbands. As such, I’d love to invite Rob to my Christmas dinner. I mean we both a predilection for making Top 5/10 lists so we could definitely turn it into an amusing dinner table game. He’d also know the best tunes to play before, during, and after dinner to keep us all in the party mood.

 Six: Leslie Knope

Re-watching Parks and Rec recently gave me an all new appreciation of Leslie Knope and what a great person she is. She champions women, loves her friends, and won’t back down in an argument. She’s the kind of person I pretend to be but much nicer and much more successful. I’d love to sit next to her at Christmas dinner because, not only would we have a great in-depth discussion about all things, I think she’d share my childish love of the holiday.

Five: Thor

Thor is my favourite superhero. I love all of the Norse mythology and his Shakespearean qualities. He’s so dramatic and literal about everything. I have to admit it would be kind of cool to have him at my Christmas dinner just so I could say there was a real-life God there. Kinda cool, no? Plus, the arms are always a plus. He also seems that he’d be fun to have at a party. Asgardians are basically Vikings and they were kind of up for a good time. Also, how great an after dinner game would it be to try and lift Thor’s hammer, Mjölnir? You’ve had all the turkey so now let’s find out whose worthy.

Four: Buddy the Elf

I don’t know about you guys but I always feel that Christmas Day is kind of let down after the endless weeks of lead up. I’m not saying I’ve ever had a terrible Christmas Day but we’re always just so exhausted we end up eating and lounging for the entire day. What we really need is an injection of Christmas spirit. And who has the largest supply of that round here? Buddy’s love for the holiday is contagious and he’d have no trouble getting everyone up around the piano for a sing song. With Buddy at your house, every Christmas can be like the ones you see in every American sitcom’s Christmas special. Plus, you know, the candy.

Three: Tyrion Lannister

Despite everything the Bible tries to tell us, Christmas is basically about excess and over-indulgence. It’s about spending too much money, stuffing your face, drinking too much, and basically letting go. Who embraces these ideas more than anyone? Yes, the self-titled “God of tits and wine”. To re-appropriate Ke$ha for a second, the party don’t start til he walks in.

Two: Newt Scamander

Not only would the addition of Newt to the party mean guaranteed Eddie Redmayne but it would also mean some fantastic stories. Newt has travelled all over the wizarding world and met some of the most amazing creatures. He’d be able to fill the time with so many exciting tales. There’s always a boring lull on Christmas Day when you’re eaten too much but there’s a few hours before Doctor Who is on. Newt would be the perfect person to fill the silence. Hell, if we’re lucky he might even get his Niffler out… which, as I’m writing it down, definitely sounds like a euphemism you might come across in the wizard world. Hey, Newt, how’s about you let my play with your Niffler.

One: Sookie St. James

This is the second time this month that Sookie has been in the number 1 spot of my top 10 list. Maybe she’ll be the new Brienne? Anyway, I think Sookie would be a great person to invite to dinner. Not only would she definitely bring something scrumptious to eat but she’s just such lovely human being. Why would you want to spend this holiday with people who were anything but nice? My only doubt would be the fact that she would clearly be silently judging everything that was being cooked for her. It would take about five seconds of her being in the house before she was “fixing” everything that was being made in the kitchen. Still, what a meal we’d get in the end.


Amy Poehler, book haul, books, currently reading, Kate McKinnon, Stephen King, Tina Fey, Will Ferrell
I’m running so late with this because I promised to help out my brother-in-law with an essay he’s got to hand in. I’ve supposedly been proofreading it since Friday but I’ve really only just got round to it. This weekend has been rough so I’ve just put it off. So I’m rushing to get this out but I’ve not really done a great deal this week. I promise you aren’t missing out on much.

Currently Reading
  • End of Watch by Stephen King

I’ve read a bit more but I’m still not convinced it’s worth my time. Especially as the pile of deserving books is getting larger by the day. I’ll be fair and give it another week just to be sure.

Recently Purchased

  • His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet
A book from the Man Booker 2016 Longlist that had a blurb so awesome I couldn’t help but buy it. A brutal murder has taken place in the Highlands in the 1860s and a young man has been arrested. The book, set out as a memoir, tells us that he is guilty but we must wait to discover what drove him to commit the act. It sounds fucking brilliant. Obviously, if I had unlimited time and money then I’d have bought the entire Longlist but I’m trying to limit myself to the ones I can’t live without. I decided this was the best place to start. 
  • Spider-Gwen Vol 1 by Jason Latour
When I was still wasting an insane amount of money on postage getting my weekly comic book order shipped to my house I fell in love with Spider Gwen. She’s awesome. However, I got a little behind with my reading when I stopped the comic books. So why not get every issue I  probably already own in one handy dandy book?
  • Batgirl Vol 1 by Cameron Stewart
Likewise, Batgirl. I love her. To be honest, this mainly comes down to her sense of style. It’s because of her that I’ve desperately seeking a cheap pair of yellow Dr Marten boots. I don’t think I have any physical copies of Batgirl so I decided it was time to track down the collection. I’ll get them all eventually. After all, I’m always willing to read a few good comics and if it means picking up a few fashion tips then it’s all the better.  
  • Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin (Blind Date Book Company)
To be honest, this really isn’t the kind of book that I’d have bought for myself. The coverart is pure chick-lit and the premise is too trashy thriller even for me. It’s the usual kind of guff, survivor of a serial killer suspects that the man she helped imprisoned is not the man who tried to kill her. Noting too exciting. Still, I found myself in possession of this novel when I took a chance on the Blind Date Book Company. I picked out this mystery book based on three simple words and ended up with this. I’m sure it will be a decent enough read but this was more about the experience of getting a surprise book int he post. it was fun and an experience I’m keen to repeat. 

  • Hostage by Robert Crais (Blind Date Book Company)
The second book in my Blind Date Book Company haul and another book I’d never have picked myself. That’s the fun though, right? This is another crime thriller about a frontline negotiator who is haunted by his dead family. After taking a job in a sleepy town, the police chief finds himself in the midst of a Mafia stronghold. Sounds like a mindless kind of thing that’ll keep me entertained enough. 

Recently Watched
  • Sisters
Kind of wanted to see this when it came out. Really wanted to see it when I found of Kate McKinnon was in it. Now regret being so excited. See my Tuesday review for more details.
  • Step Brothers
TBT really is just my chance to watch one of my favourite films once a week. This week was no different as I continue my TBT Will Ferrell retrospective

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.

TBT – Starsky & Hutch (2004)

Ben Stiller, Jason Bateman, Owen Wilson, TBT, television, Will Ferrell

My sister’s wedding is getting ever closer so I’m not exactly focused on the blog this week. There’s a lot of sorting, cleaning and final mad panic buys going on round here that I’ve been a bit lazy with my selections this week. High-Rise was something I’ve had on my list for ages and I watched it when I had a spare evening. My pick for today had even less thought behind it. Netflix suggested it to me last weekend and, as it’s been such a fucking age since I saw it, didn’t hesitate. Now, every week I try and get my Tuesday and Thursday posts to match up in some way: that might be by actor, genre or director but, as is usually the case, it’s based on whatever flimsy connection I can create. This weeks connection is the 1970s. Both of this week’s films are set in the 70s and that was enough of a connection to prevent me madly searching for a film set in a tower block or just watching the 90s adaptation of Crash. Neither of those things fit into my schedule or filled me with a massive amount of desire. So here we have it. A random film that you’ll probably all have watched many many times. It almost doesn’t seem worth bothering but when have I ever been known to listen to common sense?

Hollywood in the late 90s and early 2000s was definitely going through the time of Frat Pack: the name given to the group of comedy actors like Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell. The guys placed into this group by the media would turn up together in films in any number of combinations and were constantly churning out films that are, at least now, beloved by fans. Starsky & Hutch came after a string of films like Old School, Zoolander and Meet the Parents and attempted to reboot the popular 70s TV show using the lure of the Frat Pack stars. With added Snoop Dogg oviously. Ben Stiller takes on the role of David Starsky from Paul Michael Glaser whilst his Zoolander co-star Owen Wilson stepped into David Sole’s shows as Ken Hutchinson.

The film’s plot is hardly anything to write home about but it was never really going to be. We see the two Detectives form an unlikely partnership as they attempt to bust a drug baron, Reese Feldman (Vince Vaughn), as he attempts to pull off the biggest drug deal ever seen. Along the way, they are given assistance from dodgy “businessman” and Hutch’s acquaintance Huggy Bear (Snoop Dogg) and a dragon obsessed convict (Will Ferrell). Obviously, things aren’t easy for the pair and their eventually have to go behind their captain’s back when they are inevitably suspended. It’s all very by the books for a buddy cop but fleshed out with a few in-jokes concerning the original series.

Still, that’s not to say the film isn’t funny. Yes, it doesn’t do anything to blow the genre wide open but it gives the performers enough room to work their comedy. Stiller and Wilson have just enough chemistry on screen to sell their characters and the hit-and-miss script. Their relationship is the same kind of thing that has kept them in business for years. Stiller plays the tightly wound and by-the-book Starsky whilst Wilson plays the cool and loose-moraled Hutch. It’s also the thing buddy cop movies have been know for: pair up two opposites and watch as they eventually work out their differences and capture the bad guy. It’s nothing too out of the ordinary but the pair work so well together now that it doesn’t matter.

Most surprisingly, of course, is the revelation that is Snoop Dogg as Huggy Bear. Nobody would ever have described Snoop as a great actor but he does pretty well in the role. Yes, some of his stuff is a bit wooden but he offers some genuinely funny moments. Although, for my personal tastes, it is Will Ferrell’s Big Earl who offers the most memorable moment. The two cops go and visist Earl in prison and, in order to get him to talk, pretend to be sexy dragons to get him off. It’s a moment that absolutely killed me when I first saw the film and is something I reference far too regularly. Ferrell may be a tiny part of the film but, as is so often the case, he is definitely the greatest.

When it comes down to it, Starsky and Hutch isn’t really that inspiring a film but, thanks to the cast and a fairly charming script, it manages to update the tired television show into a modern film. The narrative is so flimsy it could break in a slight breeze but there can be no denying that the gags keep coming. Not all of them land as successfully as they’d like but you can’t fault it on sheer numbers. This is a quantity rather than quality kind of situation and, in spite of everything, it works. It’s not the greatest Frat Pack movie ever made but it’s still up there. I may not have watched it with as much regularity as Zoolander but it’s memorably enough to make me go back every now and then.

TBT – Zoolander (2001)

Ben Stiller, David Bowie, fucking funny, Owen Wilson, TBT, Will Ferrell

It’s hard to believe now that, upon its release in 2001, Zoolander wasn’t a great success. It suffered mostly from bad timing as it came out only a matter of weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Critics weren’t exactly wowed and audiences just didn’t flock to see it. However, it eventually made enough of an impact to become a much-loved classic. My friends and I are huge fans and have been for many years. We left our school leaver’s ball, aged 16, to go home and watch it. I really love the film. So when I found out that my work friend hated it I really didn’t know what to do. Especially when she told me her reason was that it’s “too silly”. What the fuck was she expecting? Hating Zoolander for being too wacky is like hating Jaws for having too much shark. It’s the whole fucking point of the film. So, I may have lost a new friend but it did give me an excuse to rewatch this classic.

Zoolander is Ben Stiller’s satirical look at the fashion industry and is absolutely hilarious thanks to its insights. The narrative follows veteran fashion model, Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) as he comes up against newcomer, Hansel (Owen Wilson) and finds himself embroiled in a murder plot, whilst still trying to perfect his new look Magnum. There’s also a love interest, his coal-mining father, and a psychotic fashion designer involved but the plot is really by-the-by.  

What matters here is how Stiller and co. represent the industry that they are trying so hard to dissect, He and Owen Wilson nail the two male models at the centre of the story and Will Ferrell some of the most memorable moments thanks to his exaggerated fashion designer, Mugatu. Derek and Hansel were born out of that breed of 90s male fashion models known for their vacuous and vain sensibilities. It’s cruel in its own way but it’s incredibly funny nonetheless.

 Zoolander is a wacky and silly concept, it’s true. but it also offers some of the funniest writing Stiller has ever written. The results are often patchy but more jokes hit than they miss. The duds really don’t matter when the successes are as quotable and hilarious as these ones. Unlike the titular character, there is more to Zoolander than meets the eye and the seemingly stupid comedy has a darker and biting undertone to it. Everything on screen is based in some aspect of reality … but at least 3 times bigger.

The plot is perhaps pathcier and more rambling than it really wanted to be and feels like a bunch of shorts stitched together instead of a standalone narrative. The overall assassination plot is fun but it is at odds with much of the other work Stiller is bringing to the table. To say it’s only about 90 minutes long, this film feels too full whilst still managing to stretch its meagre plot to breaking point. It often just relies on celebrity cameos and quirky humour to get through. Had the film been a completely satirical look at the fashion industry it might have felt like a slicker film. However, it probably wouldn’t have been as funny.

Because, despite all of it’s problems, Zoolander is an incredibly funny and charming film. That’s mainly down to the cast of characters and the obvious love that went into making it. Just like Derek himself, you can’t help but love this film despite all of its obvious flaws. The chemistry between Stiller and Wilson and Will Ferrell in general are what has allowed this film to rise above it’s disappointing release and become the classic is deserved to be.