Category Archives: Comedy

All Is Bright (2013)

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All Is Brigth poster

All Is Bright

Two French Canadian ne’er-do-wells travel to New York City with a scheme to get rich quick selling Christmas trees. Easygoing charmer Rene (Paul Rudd) clashes with misanthropic ex-con Dennis (Paul Giamatti), whose wife Rene just stole. Still, this odd couple must make an honest go of it in this buddy comedy

.5 of 5

Two immediate problems with that summary are the words “buddy” and “comedy”, as this mess of a movie contains neither.

I had high hopes, after all All Is Bright is a Christmas movie. It stars Paul Giamatti and Paul Rudd, with an assist from Sally Hawkins, all generally reliable performers. The acting is…fine. In Giamatti’s case, it is quite good. Unfortunately, the material is bad. The story is slow & depressing and every time you think there might a bright spot (or even just a little relief from the gloom) you end up sorely disappointed. Definitely not one for your “feel good” movie list.

Giving it half a point for Giamatti’s presence, Rudd’s brown tooth, and Sally Hawkins Russian accent, which is almost as adorable as her.


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 49%; Audience 23%
Vox AZ

Comedy, drama
2020/12/27

The Selling (2011)

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The Selling poster

The Selling

A too-honest-for-his-own-good real estate agent has to sell a haunted house before its ghostly inhabitants ruin his life.

4 of 5

A movie I went into with the low expectations I usually have for low budget productions. I was beyond pleasantly surprised.

The Selling stars Gabriel Diani, who also wrote the screenplay, as Richard Scarry, a hapless, good-hearted Realtor. Scarry’s life gets even more complicated when the latest home he is trying to sell turns out to be well and truly haunted – and those ghosts aren’t shy.

The twists and turns are creative, the characters are amusing, and there were genuine laugh out loud moments (well, at least chuckle out loud moments)

There are a couple of raunchy bits, but they aren’t bad enough for me to drop my rating: I give it a 4 of 5, just know you may not want to watch it with your mother 🙂


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics N/A; Audience 81%
Vox AZ

Comedy, Horror
2020/10/20

This Beautiful Fantastic (2016)

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Beautiful, Fantastic

This Beautiful Fantastic

A young woman who dreams of being a children’s author makes an unlikely friendship with a cantankerous, rich old widower.

2.5 of 5

Beautiful, but not fantastic.

This seems clearly to be an attempt to recreate the magic of Amelie, right down to a doe-eyed star. The visuals are lovely, but the story is…predictable. There are several wonderful performances, and a couple that are less so.

If you are looking for a pretty bit of fluff to fill 100 minutes, this would be a great choice. If you love gardening and/or want inspiration for your yard, this could be flick worth renting.

But, it’s not going to win any awards


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 64%; Audience 73%
Vox AZ

Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
2018/8/12

Son of Rambow (2007)

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Son Of Rambow, poster

Son of Rambow

During a long English summer in the early 1980s, two schoolboys from differing backgrounds set out to make a film inspired by First Blood (1982).

3.5

A sweet little romp with more depth than I was expecting, as well as a bit of side-eyed commentary on popularity.

As our heroes attempt to emulate theirs, we see them discover family, loyalty, and true friendship. There are some rough bits, after all, life isn’t all sunshine & rainbows, but the sterner stuff doesn’t diminish the story’s overall charm.

I would say this will be suitable for most on my list, though there is a bit of salty language

From Heather Huntington at ReelzChannel.com:
“As a general rule, I’m not a fan of kids, their movies, or Rambo, but this movie absolutely won me over. And — I’m going to say it — if you can stomach the idea of your kids hearing a (not too terrible) curse word or two, this could very well be a good movie for the whole family.


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 74%; Audience 79%
Vox AZ

The Heat (2013)

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The Heat

The Heat

Uptight FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn (Sandra Bullock) and foul-mouthed Boston cop Shannon Mullins (Melissa McCarthy) couldn’t be more incompatible. But when they join forces to bring down a ruthless drug lord, they become the last thing anyone expected: buddies. From Paul Feig, director of “Bridesmaids.” (c) Fox

Another movie I never intended to see. As much as I like both Bullock and McCarthy, the ads for The Heat just made it seem awful. (D disagrees, he thought the ads were fine) It was getting impressive reviews, though, and when friends saw and recommended it firsthand, we decided to give it a shot.

Funny. Laugh out loud in a lot of places. The script is iffy, the direction – eh. The movie is saved from mediocrity by the quality cast – especially Sandra Bullock who is as endearing & funny as she has ever been, and seems to be getting better looking with age.

Melissa McCarthy is a funny woman who, unfortunately, seems to believe more is never enough. Her roles just get more & more over the top, usually dampening my enjoyment – The Heat is no exception. However, if you enjoyed her character in Bridesmaids, you will enjoy her character here. She commits to the portrayal 100%, and you have to give her some respect for that.

It is a bit coarse (credit that to McCarthy) and so definitely not for everyone. Still for a movie that had some very unappealing advertisements, this ended up being quite appealing after all.


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 66%; Audience 75%

Magic Mike (2012)

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Magic Mike

Magic Mike

Set in the world of male strippers, Magic Mike is directed by Steven Soderbergh and stars Channing Tatum in a story inspired by his real life. The film follows Mike (Tatum) as he takes a young dancer called The Kid (Pettyfer) under his wing and schools him in the fine arts of partying, picking up women, and making easy money. — (C) Warner Bros.

I figured I’d watch this one eventually, though I was in no hurry. Still, it got some great reviews so I assumed it would be worth the time. I was wrong.

There is not enough dancing to make this a fun, musical romp. Were it to focus more on the club & dance routines, I could at least appreciate it on that level. By trying to add some deeper, dramatic narrative, they set the bar higher . . .

. . . and fell far short.

This is not a convincing drama. It is not compelling love story. Perhaps if they had spent less time on the club & dance routines, they could have focused on telling a good story.

In far too many scenes the dialogue just d-r-a-g-s along, as if the actors are doing a lazy table-reading and keep losing their places on the page. There are some fine actors in this cast, yet they are so poorly used that McConaughey (who built his career on wooden, one-dimensional characters) actually gives the most convincing performance.

The major players in this drama repeatedly make bad decisions, making it very difficult to care what happens to them in the end. Even our “hero” is unlovable for any reason beyond his ripped body and accomplished dance moves.

We are supposed to care that Mike wants to make furniture out of junk, but we never see enough of that side of him to believe it – and the finished pieces they show are pretty blah. We are to feel for his plight trying to save money for, and get a loan toward, this dream – but we don’t know what he actually needs money for. More junk? We are to just accept that while he is alley catting around, he is somehow finding love with a chick that he repeatedly disappoints – and with whom he has zero in common.

Can’t really imagine recommending it to many folks, so based on the Word of Mouth Scale it get half a star.


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 80%; Audience 63%

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The Women (2008)

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The Women

The Women

A wealthy New Yorker leaves her cheating husband and bonds with other society women at a resort.*

 
This was another movie I never intended to see. But, it was on …

First, the glaring issue running throughout the film – it is a cautionary tale about bad plastic surgery. Several of the women in this cast were, at one time, considered attractive to some degree. Unable or unwilling to age gracefully, they have undergone procedures that have turned them into caricatures. Scary, rubber-faced caricatures.

Now, to the film itself – also a scary caricature…of the far superior movie it claims to update.

  • Meg Ryan plays Mary Haines as a ditsy, uninvolved, overwhelmed mother. It’s hard to feel any empathy for her, which makes the story arc a tough sell, indeed.
  • Annette Bening is a grating Sylvie Fowler, a poor echo of the positively caustic Sylvia from the other versions.
  • Eva Mendes‘s Crystal Allen seems barely appealing enough for a one-night stand, let alone worth leaving your family for (except that Meg Ryan plays the wife as ridiculously unappealing, too)
  • Debra Messing is Edie Cohen, playing her as a schlumpy, goofy earth-mother. Hard to believe how Messing could become even less appealing than she has been in other projects, but she managed it here.
  • Jada Pinkett Smith, always grating, is cast as butch-Lesbian Alex Fisher. Oddly, hers is one of the least irritating characters in the film (which isn’t really saying much with this script)
  • Bette Midler is cast as Leah Miller, an apparent fill-in for Countess De Lave who, in the original, was both amusing and pivotal. Midler’s character has no purpose in this film. Her inclusion, in fact, was so odd I’d have thought it was spliced in from a different movie if she hadn’t dropped the name “Buck Winston” (the cowhand who wooed Countess De Lave). If they weren’t including the rest of her story-line, there was no reason to have her at all.

The list goes on – and on – and on. I could go through the entire awful cast, the awful butchered script, the bland direction, the ridiculous ending.

Unless you are in the mood for a glaring example of how not to remake a classic, avoid this one.

* This description is from IMDB for this remake, but it describes the original. The divorce resort is not a part of the 2008 version.


The Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 13%; Audience 41%

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