Posts Tagged ‘Comedy’

MOVIE: 21 Jump Street (2012)

July 13, 2012

Sorry I haven’t been around much, folks.  Lots of vacationy things going on, plus I just got a new kitten (Otis!), thus upping the number of uber-needy felines in the household to a whopping TWO.  This hasn’t left much room for seeing movies, let alone writing about them.  But while I’m behind on three flick reviews and three books (not to mention 6 Boyfriend write-ups, yeesh), I’m hoping to get caught up at least on the reviews over the next few days, so stick around.

While at my parents’ house last week setting up their new Roku box (a gadget that lets you stream Netflix movies and other online content to your TV set), I somehow accidentally managed to hit the wrong button twice in a row on their remote, which turned out to be the exact number of times you need to hit that button in order to order a Pay-Per-View movie.  WHOOPS!

Even worse? The movie I accidentally ordered was THIS ONE.  WHOOPS, AGAIN!

Being the cheapskates we are, not to mention the big suckers for dumb movies, my sister, mom, brother-in-law, and I decided we might as well watch the thing, now that we’d paid for it (or, more specifically, now that Mom had paid for it — sorry, Mom!). Surprisingly enough, though, this incredibly inane flick actually ended up having a few truly funny moments, not to mention a couple of delightful cameos we hadn’t been expecting and were dorkily excited to see.

I laughed out loud more than once, and even though the actual plot was tedious and unoriginal, not to mention an element of the film the writer clearly thought was secondary to the slapstick, it wasn’t unbearably stupid.  Just kind of ridiculously so.

This movie has one serious, serious problem, though (as well as, of course, about a thousand less-serious ones), and that is the incredibly unnecessary overuse of foul language.  You might assume this only bothered me because I was watching it with my mother — and that’s a fair guess, for sure — but even if I hadn’t been sitting next to the same woman who has only used one curse word in her entire life (though, granted, she’s used it often — the word is “shit” and usually comes out like this:  “Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit!” right as the dishwasher floods the entire kitchen), I would still have been annoyed by the bigoted gay sex jokes and the 10,291-times-too-many uses of the word “dick.”

Even worse, though, is the insult every audience member ought to feel every time a comedy writer assumes we’re so dumb the only thing that will make us laugh is stupid genital and poop humor (or, worse, gential-and-poop humor — gah, forget I mentioned that).  Granted, most members of Mensa probably didn’t run right out to see this flick, but as cheesy as the original 21 Jump Street TV series was, it was also extremely sincere — laughably so at times, granted, but sincere nonetheless.  To me, even a silly comedy-style remake held some promise in concept, if only because the problems of today’s youth would likely be so similar to the problems of yesterday’s, only with a whole new set of complications to explore (text message bullying, for example).

But they totally blew it here by loading the thing up with jokes more suited to 8 year-olds (except for the homophobia, which is more suited to NOBODY, for pity’s sake — what IS the deal with men being so damn squeamish about penises in their mouths, by the way? GET A GRIP, BOYS.).  There was plenty of room for a smarter plot, even with two morons as protagonists, and certainly room for more solid jokes — the cameos that came at the end, for example, featured a hilarious degree of comic-book violence that you knew the actors had requested themselves (“Sure, I’ll be in your movie, but only if I get to have my original character be SHOT TO PIECES in a melodramatic shoot-out AT LONG LAST, MY GOD.”).  But neither of these things were there, leaving me unsatisfied and hoping somebody pulls a The Amazing Spider-Man on this movie in about five years.  So much potential so wasted here.  I hate it when that happens.

Luckily, we watched The Artist the next night, which helped wash the crud from this film out of our ears (ah, blessed silence!).  Incidentally, that one stands up wonderfully even on the small screen (and since we’re talking about my mom’s ancient boob tube, I mean the REALLY small screen), and didn’t fail to sweep me off my feet just as completely the second time around as it had the first.

And so, to recap:

21 Jump Street — worth a rental if you were a schmoopy teenager making goo-goo eyes over Johnny Depp (or, for me, Peter DeLuise) when the original was on. 

The Artist:  worth a rental if you are currently alive on the planet Earth.

[Netflix it | Don’t Buy It, Knucklehead]

Genre:  Comedy
Cast:  Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Brie Larson, Dave Franco, Rob Riggle, DeRay Davis, Ice Cube, Dax Flame, Chris Parnell, Ellie Kemper

MOVIE: Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)

May 4, 2012

Note: This review was written by my 6 year-old nephew, Luke, who watched the movie with me last weekend.

Text reads (sic where needed, he’s SIX for pity’s sake):

I wosh the movie Kung Fu Panda 2. It is fun. It is osum!

My comment:  I could not agree more, oh wise one.  This is an excellent, succinct movie review.  You have a job here, sir, if you ever want one.  p.s. Aunt Meg loves you very much.

[Netflix it | Buy it]

Genre: Animation, Kids, Comedy
Cast:  Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Gary Oldman, Seth Rogen, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman, David Cross, Lucy Liu, Michelle Yeoh, Dennis Haysbert

MOVIE: 50/50 (2011)

March 3, 2012

I was expecting this “dramedy,” about a 27 year-old radio writer, Adam (JG-L), who is diagnosed with a rare cancer of the spine, to be both funny and emotional.  Surprisingly, it ended up being mostly neither for me.

Adam is a quiet, serious sort of fellow, who, as the film opens, has just moved in with his incredibly lame girlfriend Rachel, and is about to go see a doctor about some back pain he’s had for a while.  The doctor’s visit goes badly — after a quick look at his MRI, the doc tells him he’s got a rare tumor in his back and that his odds of survival are 50/50 (hence: title).  Almost instantly, Adam’s life falls apart: his girlfriend dumps him after realizing she’s not cut out for standing by her man, his overbearing mother (the always-great Anjelica Houston) threatens to move in so she can smother him with mothering, and his best friend Kyle — well, his best friend Kyle mostly thinks this is the greatest news ever, as it means Adam can now play the “C-card,” and use his cancer to score chicks.

In theory, the movie then moves into a thoughtful combination of sadness and pain lightened up by goofy “bromance” comedy, as Kyle steps up to help his pal and the two begin bonding even more tightly via shared fear of loss.  The only problem is that it doesn’t really get either dynamic quite right.  The story goes too simply and predictably — Adam’s diagnosed, he goes through the usual five stages of grief, he shaves his head proactively in the obligatory cancer-movie head-shaving scene, and eventually, he accepts his disease and begins to fight it back.

Yet, for all the weight a story like this should have, it never really gets there.  It’s impossible not to feel anything for Adam — Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the master of looking pained, exhausted, and sympathetic — yet his character seemed underconceived to me.  Aside from one spectacular flash of anger, Adam is pretty much just. . . mopey.  His demeanor stays very even-keeled, which doesn’t make much sense given his diagnosis.  He never engages in any authentic emotional swoopage, and I don’t know a single person who’s had cancer who hasn’t had some spectacular emotional swoops from time to time. There’s a lot of power in emotional swings like that — and therefore, a lot of chances to really engage the audience in some shared gut-wrenching agony.  But to be honest, I felt like JG-L mostly just phoned this one in.

As for the “funny” parts, there are a few genuine laughs in there — maybe more if you’re a big fan of Seth Rogan’s schtick (meh) — but, if anything, the constant jarring yank from tender moment to goofy gag just made it impossible for either element to take hold.  It sort of reminded me of how a friend of mine reacts whenever I start crying about something — she immediately makes a joke to try to make me laugh, which I usually do, and then changes the subject to quash my emotional reaction before it gets too uncomfortable for either of us.  Which is great for me, because I hate crying and I don’t want to cry in front of anyone and thank god someone changed the subject before I made a fool out of myself, but it’s not terribly useful in terms of emotional connection and growth.

Overall, this is a very watchable film — I watched it, I didn’t hate it — but nothing special.  Which is kind of surprising, since the guy who wrote it, Will Reiser, based it on his own experience with cancer and his relationship with his best friend, coincidentally also played by Seth Rogan.  Was Reiser too afraid to go all-out with the heavy parts, for fear of making it too much of a downer?  And then too afraid to go all-out with the comedy, for fear of insulting those who have suffered greatly from cancer?  Whatever the cause, this movie just doesn’t seem fully developed somehow.

Disappointing.

[Netflix it | Buy it]

Genre: Drama, Comedy
Cast:  Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Seth Rogen, Anna Kendrick, Bryce Dallas Howard, Anjelica Huston

MOVIE: The Artist (2011)

January 9, 2012

Have you ever seen a movie so absolutely wonderful from start to finish that at the end you stood up and cheered?  Damn the people around you and their funny looks?

I have.

Highly, HIGHLY recommended.  I’ve never seen anything like this film (a silent movie about the end of the silent movie era) — I have never smiled so long and so hard during a film that my cheeks hurt (Dujardin’s grin is so infectious, you won’t be able to keep your own face still), I have never made such an enormous fool out of myself as the final credits rolled, and I have never left a theater dancing.  I did all those things with The Artist.  And I cannot WAIT to do them all again soon.

DO NOT MISS!  Now this is how you start a new year of movie-watching right.  Good goddamn, it’s a delight.  An utter delight.

[Prequeue at Netflix | View trailer]

Genre:  Comedy, Drama
Cast:  Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, John Goodman, James Cromwell, Penelope Ann Miller, Missi Pyle, Malcolm McDowell

MOVIE: A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas (2011)

December 12, 2011

I’d never seen a whole Harold and Kumar movie until this one, but had seen enough pieces here and there to suspect I might have a good time.  And, as it turned out, though I didn’t run right home to rent the other two after seeing this one, I definitely got some solid laughs out of it.  In large part, I suspect, because I saw it with two incredibly sarcastic friends who delightfully refuse to take life too seriously.

The plot isn’t important here, but in a nutshell, Harold is about to get married and is no longer friends with his lazy, slovenly, going-nowhere pal Kumar.  When Kumar gets a gift addressed to Harold, though, he decides it’s time to visit his old pal’s new house and maybe say hello.

Of course, everything goes disastrously wrong, and when a series of events result in Harold’s father-in-law-to-be’s special home-grown Christmas tree going up in (pot) smoke, the two old friends find themselves on a midnight quest for a replacement that leads them through a variety of ridiculous situations and features a running gag about a baby who keeps accidentally getting high.  (We’re all going to hell, my friend commented, as the baby inhaled a bunch of cocaine and we laughed like crazy people.  Totally worth it, I replied.)

This is the first 3D film I’ve seen since Avatar where I felt like the 3D effects were fascinating and fun instead of merely intrusive, and here it’s largely because the 3D is used as a dumb gimmick on purpose.  Be prepared for oodles of marijuana smoke to come floating up so close to your face you can almost smell it (um, not that I’d know what it smells like, of course — hi, Mom!).  That, plus lots of other incredibly silly gags made this movie exactly what it needed to be:  an entertaining, brainless romp, with a smart and endearing edge (I say endearing because I went in not knowing Harold or Kumar, and left with a fondness for them that was almost sisterly in nature — good guys, those two.  Not what I was expecting, to be honest).

As funny Christmas movies go, you could do a lot worse.  I did get tired of a few of the gags by the end (endless rounds of ethnic jokes get old after a while for me, I confess), but it’s definitely worth a gander if you’re a fan of the other flicks in the series, or if you just feel like seeing something completely stupid this December.

[Prequeue at Netflix | View trailer]

Genre: Comedy
Cast:  John Cho, Kal Penn, Neil Patrick Harris, Amir Blumenfeld, Paula Garcés,Danny Trejo, David Krumholtz, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Patton Oswalt, Elias Koteas

MOVIE: Bridesmaids (2011)

November 23, 2011

Okay, everyone.  Prepare to hate me.  I am prepared to be hated.

After going to see Tower Heist last weekend and being pretty disappointed, I decided it was time to rent Bridesmaids, which I’d been saving for the right occasion after hearing rave after rave after RAVE about how hilarious it was.  How brilliantly written.  How refreshingly FEMALE.  How perfect in every way!

My reaction?  Are you all on crack?  Hey, that stuff ain’t good!  And neither is this movie!

Bridesmaids is about a desperately single woman, Annie (Kristen Wiig), whose best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) gets engaged and asks her to be her maid of honor.  Lillian quickly introduces Annie to her fellow attendants, all of whom feature quirky, boring, stereotypical  personalities:  one is sickeningly perfect, one is fat and lacking in manners (must the fat character always be the character that burps and farts and has food on her face? God, I get tired of that), one is ditsy, one is an Old Married desperate to party sans spouse and kids, etc.

And then there’s Annie, the standard lost/seeking 30-something female who can’t keep a boyfriend or a job and doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life.  Okay, realistic.  But still: yawn.

As the wedding planning progresses, a battle begins between Annie and Lillian’s other close friend, the perfect, wealthy Helen (Rose Byrne, the physical manifestation of the flavor of tofu).  Broke Annie wants to keep things true to Lillian’s humble roots; Posh Lillian wants to throw a wedding that costs thousands and is insanely poofy in every way imaginable.  Cue lots of angry glares, cat fights, and sabotage.  End with heart of gold.  Beeyuck.

The highlight of the film’s comedic elements?  The scene in which the girls all get food poisoning and start puking, farting, and pooping all over a bridal showroom.  Really?  This is the hilarious scene everybody was raving about?  The POOP scene?    Ebert seemed pleased to see a chick flick crossed with a typical raunch comedy (“It definitively proves that women are the equal of men in vulgarity, sexual frankness, lust, vulnerability, overdrinking and insecurity,” he wrote in his review), but I say, of course we are.  Duh.  Generally, though, we try to exhibit a bit more class.  I do not think this is a bad thing.

I laughed out loud exactly once during this film, and that was during the airplane scene, in which, credit where credit is due, Wiig proves herself to be a master of physical comedy.  The rest of the time, though, while I was entertained enough to keep watching, I barely even cracked a smile.  I don’t understand why this film got so many raves;  there’s nothing here I haven’t seen ten thousand times before.  Even the love story — Annie falls head-over-heels with a cop; he’s the one character I truly liked, by the way  (in no small part because of his (Irish?) accent) — was predictable and dull.

Tell me, ladies — what gives?  What was it you liked so much about this movie?  The female version of The Hangover, I kept reading.  But the thing I loved the most about The Hangover was that its comedy was grown-up stuff.  I mean, silly too, but in a unique, more adult kind of way.  It was a raunch comedy refreshingly lacking in raunch; there wasn’t a single poop joke in that whole film.  This film, on the other hand, made the poop scene its apex.  And when the POOP scene is your APEX, it’s pretty much guaranteed your movie is going to fail to move me.  Pun intended.

SO DISAPPOINTED!  Is it just me?

IT IS?  Well, hell.  I never said I had good taste.

[Netflix it | Buy it]

Genre:  Comedy
Cast: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Chris O’Dowd, Melissa McCarthy, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper, Jon Hamm

MOVIE: Tower Heist (2011)

November 20, 2011

This movie, about a bunch of swanky apartment building employees who decide to rob the penthouse owner who ripped off their pensions is . . . zzzzzzz . . . *jolt* What?  Wait, sorry, nodded off there.  What was I saying?  Oh yeah, so, Tower Heist, the latest comedy starring Eddie Murphy, Ben Stiller, and Matth. . . zzzzzzz . . . *jolt*  Shoot.  Where . . . what . . . ?  Oh.  Right.  It was nice to see Eddie Murphy can still contort his face into all those wonderful expressions — no botox on that guy — and I’ve missed him and am glad he’s back and possibly has still got it.  But the rest of this movie was just . . . zzzzzzzz . . . *jolt*  The . . . No . . . I . . .  *yawn*

Never mind.

[Don’t Prequeue at Netflix]

Genre:  Comedy (Ha ha!  That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all day.), Crap
Cast:  Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Matthew Broderick, Casey Affleck, Michael Peña, Tea Leoni, Gabourey Sidibe, Alan Alda

MOVIE: Horrible Bosses (2011)

July 22, 2011

Horrible Bosses = Horrible Movie.

(Shortest movie review ever? It’s really all you need to know, trust me!)

[Prequeue at Netflix | View trailer]

Genre: Comedy, Crap
Cast:  Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Colin Farrell, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx, Julie Bowen, Donald Sutherland, Lindsay Sloane

MOVIE: Bad Teacher (2011)

June 26, 2011

Okay, okay, YES, it’s stupid.  And it has a gross fart/poop joke.  AND (gah!) it includes a lengthy scene featuring Justin Timberlake dry-humping Cameron Diaz from behind, which, quite frankly, is something I never need to see EVER AGAIN.

However, I laughed out loud, and loudly, and more than once.  I keep trying to hate Cameron Diaz and I just can’t do it.  Her upper arms are phenomenal!  And her smile just makes me happy, even though it’s borderline Heath-Ledger‘s-Joker.

Plus, ex-Boyfriend of the Week Jason Segel!  And future Boyfriend of the Week Eric Stonestreet (the big guy from Modern Family)!  So much to love right there.  Especially Jason Segel as a sharp, sarcastic, pudgily-adorable gym teacher with no upper body strength whatsoever.

It’s fun, ya dig?  The rest just don’t mattah.  After an emotionally challenging Friday, spending my Saturday afternoon with this flick and a friend (who is a teacher and I’m sure was taking notes) was exactly the fixer-upper I needed.  For that alone, I give it all the stars in the world.  Sure, it’s a one-joke schtick.  But you know what?  It’s a pretty funny joke.

Recommended!  If you’re in the mood for a dumb comedy, and you have to choose between Hangover 2 and this one, pick this one.  Nothing to disappoint you here — no expectations.  Just plain ol’ stupid fun.  Perfect.

[Prequeue it at Netflix | View trailer]

Genre: Comedy
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Lucy Punch, Jason Segel, Justin Timberlake, Phyllis Smith, John Michael Higgins, Dave Allen, Eric Stonestreet

MOVIE: The Hangover, Part II (2011)

June 20, 2011

I saw this flick Saturday night at a bar/movie theater in Seattle where you can have waitresses serve you fancy cocktails at regular intervals during the film, and I must say, that’s really the only way to go with this lame, lame sequel.  After my third drink, I almost stopped caring that it was painfully unfunny! Alcohol!  It’s like MAGIC the way it works sometimes!

Still love the characters, and it’s not like the movie is completely without laughs, but it would’ve been a lot more entertaining just to stay home and drink while popping the first one into the DVD player instead (my recommendation to you, sirs and madams).

Lame story; half-assed jokes mostly consisting of references to jokes from the first movie; a chain-smoking monkey, which is among the cheapest of cheap gags; a heavy focus on anti-homosexual humor that started to make me feel decidedly uncomfortable; and, well, hey, can someone go get me another Bogart (gin, cointreau, lemon-lime, and sage)?  I feel the urge to drink to forget.

AVOID LIKE PLAGUE.

[Prequeue at Netflix | View trailer]

Genre:  Comedy, Crap
Cast:  Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Ken Jeong, Paul Giamatti, Mike Tyson, Jeffrey Tambor