Review: Spy (2015)

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Bridesmaids, The Heat and now Spy, Paul Feig’s rapid ascent to comedy maestro is cemented by this laugh-a-minute and extremely well cast, if padded, action-comedy. Dried up CIA desk analyst Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) is sent out into the field to stop deadly arms dealer Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne) in her tracks when the identities of all active operatives are exposed. Spy is a hearty and spirited send-up of the most infamous espionage films that also embraces – and reforms – the well-worn framework. The script, however, flounders in its unrefined state, causing the film to drag every now and then. But the humour consistently hits the mark; the cast heartily rising to the challenge and producing many stand out moments and hysterical one-liners. Jason Statham, Allison Janney and especially Byrne emerge as the closest matches to McCarthy, who’s a fireball of energy and ingenuity. Spy might drop the ball on the odd occasion, but for the most part it’s top drawer comical brilliance.  Continue reading “Review: Spy (2015)”

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Review: The Duff (2015)

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The Duff treads a recognisable path but peppers regular doses of charm and humour along the way. Bianca (Mae Whitman) leads a fairly content high school life, until she discovers she’s the ‘duff’ (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) to her two best friends. In need of a reinvention, she enlists the help of pretty boy Wesley (Robbie Amell). Continue reading “Review: The Duff (2015)”

Review: Tammy (2014)

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With a string of hits in the bag (Bridesmaids, The Identity Thief and The Heat), Melissa McCarthy makes her first serious misstep with Tammy, a directionless road trip comedy she co-wrote with her husband Ben Falcone (who also directs). McCarthy stars as Tammy, a hostile, loud-mouthed loser who runs away with her elderly, equally as vulgar grandmother, Pearl (Susan Sarandon), after being fired and learning of her husband’s infidelity. Continue reading “Review: Tammy (2014)”

Review: Margaret (2011)

Written and directed by filmmaker Kenneth Lonergan (only his second directorial feature after the multi award-winning You Can Count On Me), Margaret is a rambling, overpowered modern drama that bravely taps into people’s post 9/11 fear and hostility. Delayed, re-edited and shrouded in several still unfolding lawsuits, Lonergan’s effort seemed unlikely to see the light of day. But, thankfully Margaret now makes its way to cinema screens, albeit in a limited capacity, bearing the mark of its six year journey.

When tumultuous college student Lisa Cohen (Anna Paquin) is involved in a horrific bus accident that claims the life of a compassionate woman (Allison Continue reading “Review: Margaret (2011)”

Review: The Help (2011)

Based on Kathryn Stockett’s phenomenally successful and influential novel of the same name, The Help centers on Aibileen Clark: (Viola Davis), a devoted housekeeper in 1960′s Mississipi, who, after being approached to help local writer Eugenia ‘Skeeter’ Phelan (Emma Stone) write her first novel, recounts her life as a black servant in a time of extreme racial discrimination, bigotry and classism.

Moving, compelling and insightful, The Help is a highly commendable cinematic triumph, hitting the nail firmly on the head in almost every field: from well-honed cinematography to a beautifully serene score. Tate Taylor, who also penned the screenplay, has managed to do something of a rarity Continue reading “Review: The Help (2011)”