Review: Ghostbusters (2016)

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This reboot of the beloved 1984 comedy ticks a lot of the right boxes. It’s fun, spooky (a haunted house tour makes for an effective intro) and the ideal amount of silly. But above all else it proves the premature naysayers wrong. The cast, made up of Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones own every inch of the film as four women, each with their own quirks (the scientist, the inventor, the subway worker with an expert knowledge of the city), who team up after a pale madman (Neil Casey) unleashes malevolent paranormal entities upon New York. Continue reading “Review: Ghostbusters (2016)”

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Review: The Skeleton Twins (2014)

The Skeleton Twins

Kirsten Wiig and Bill Hader are the beating heart behind The Skeleton Twins, a bittersweet and sharply observed offbeat drama. They star as Maggie and Milo, estranged siblings who are brought back together after the latter’s botched suicide attempt. As each struggles with their own problems, as well as a dark childhood, Maggie and Milo slowly realise that they’re better together than apart.  Continue reading “Review: The Skeleton Twins (2014)”

Review: Despicable Me 2 (2013)

Despicable Me 2

Despicable Me emerged in the Summer of 2010 to surprising success, depicting the transformation of an evil super-villain to the adoptive father of three high-spirited children, Agnes (Elsie Fisher), Margo (Miranda Cosgrove) and Edith (Dana Gaier). It’s no surprise, then, that this month sees the release of Despicable Me 2, uniting the cast under Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud’s direction. Continue reading “Review: Despicable Me 2 (2013)”

Review: Friends With Kids (2011)

Jason (Adam Scott) and Julie (Jennifer Westfeldt), childhood friends, are both successful business-types, but neither have emulated that success in their love lives. With their friends – couples Ben (Jon Hamm) and Missy (Kristen Wiig) and Alex (Chris O’Dowd) and Leslie (Maya Rudolph) – start to have families, they naturally feel pangs of jealousy, leading to a decision that not only has repercussions on them, but also on the seemingly stable lives of those close to Continue reading “Review: Friends With Kids (2011)”

Review: Bridesmaids (2011)

Synopsis: Annie‘s life is a mess. But when she finds out her lifetime best friend is engaged, she simply must serve as Lillian‘s maid of honor. Though lovelorn and broke, Annie bluffs her way through the expensive and bizarre rituals. With one chance to get it perfect, she‘ll show Lillian and her bridesmaids just how far you‘ll go for someone you love.

Though billed as the female counterpart to Todd Phillips’ massively successful The Hangover, Bridesmaids towers over the male orientated crass comedy in every sense of the word. Paul Feig, with the help of the writers and the entire cast, manages to create a film that not only subverts the predictable female comedy genre, but also brings a level of sincerity and nuance to a formula that has become so predictable and stale in its recent years. It’s fresh, exciting and almost completely original.

Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo’s well-crafted screenplay strives to keep away from the obvious clichés, instead presenting us with a female ensemble comedy that is incredibly mature, well paced, and strikingly played by all involved. It is, however, also one that knows when to have a laugh at itself: most notably in the wonderful dress-fitting and aeroplane scenes which, though a little contrived, are two of the funniest moments of cinema this year.

What’s most important, though, are the performances. Wiig, in her first lead role, thrives as Annie, proving her unquestionable comedy chops. She’s charming, sympathetic, wacky and completely believable as the naive yet quick-witted Annie. Rose Byrne plays Lillian’s new best friend Helen – Annie’s jealousy inducing opposite. She uses the role to prove her maneuverability as an actress by playing someone a little more unpredictable and improvised than she’s used to, and she absolutely nails it.

The rest of the cast, including Maya Rudolph as Lillian, Melissa McCarthy as Megan (who is, at times, utterly priceless), Wendi McLendon-Covey as Rita, Ellie Kemper as Becca, Jill Clayburgh as Annie’s mum, Chris O’Dowd as Nathan and Jon Hamm as Ted, are equally as entertaining in their respective roles. McCarthy and O’Dowd in particular, who are more used to TV roles, show their ability to mould into comically charged characters and hold their own against other more versatile and established actors. Bridesmaids is very much a team effort, and that’s what makes it work so well in comparison to other films of its nature.

If there are any criticisms to be made, it’s that at a hefty 125 minutes, Bridesmaids can feel, at times, a little too drawn out in places and could have benefited from a slight trim here and there. Similarly, with a cast as extensive as this, some actors are shamefully underplayed or, in the case of McLendon-Covey’s Rita and Kemper’s Becca, almost completely tossed aside halfway through. These, however, are minor issues and, in the bigger picture, seem relatively non-existant.

Bridesmaids is a truly hilarious ensemble comedy, with some of the best writing, performances and direction you’ll see all year. Find it, see it, love it.

Review: Paul (2011)

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost reunite in yet another bromance buddy film, this time from director Greg Motolla.

Paul sees two best friends, Graeme (Pegg) and Clive (Frost) embark upon a tour of UFO landing sites after visiting Comic-Con in San Diego. Fleeing into the night after angering some aggressive rednecks, they have a chance encounter with Paul (Seth Rogen), a wise-cracking alien who implores them to take him with them before he gets dragged back to Area 51.

All too keen to indulge in a geek fantasy, the two nerds stash Paul in the back of their rented RV and attempt to return him to his landing site. But things don’t go quite according to plan when they accidentally kidnap a trailer park attendant (Kristen Wiig) and discover that they have an FBI agent on their trail (Jason Bateman).

For the most part, the story is solid. It impressively finds the right balance between road movie and alien flick, and results in an old fashioned, grand, amped-up final showdown.

Motolla’s direction, however, is all-too tame and demonstrates that a Pegg and Frost film is banal without their counterpart Edgar Wright. Mottola makes a commendable effort, but is clearly out of his comfort zone.

Pegg and Frost, even without Wright, put their real-life friendship to good use and create a likable duo, with naturally blowing, witty banter and individualistic personalities, enough to differentiate them from their previous on-screen personaes.

Seth Rogen proves to be a inspired choice for Paul, reminding audiences he is in fact a talented actor, and not the one hit wonder he was in danger of becoming. And Kristen Wiig, in her first mainstream film, shows off her natural comedic talent, getting her own fair share of laughs in amongst an already headstrong cast.

Jane Lynch and Sigourney Weaver, though awarded with limited screen time, both bring a remarkable sweet-wise quality to their respective roles, making you ache for more.

Paul is an adequately enlivening Saturday night movie, with gratifying gags, a savvy cast and enough sci-fi references to keep everyone happy.