Posts Tagged ‘comedy’

In a nutshell: Mental, fun and very, very funny.

Popcorn rating: 4/5

There’s something lovely about sharing a laugh with someone – siblings sharing a chuckle over a parent’s well-known habits, children’s bubbling mirth at something wonderfully silly, friends’ raucous, dirty giggling on a night out. 21 Jump Street is the kind of movie best served up in a group, preferably with beer and nachos, because when films comes this funny, you’ll want to share the laughter with friends.

Written by the formerly chubby and always lovable Jonah Hill and writer Michael Bacall, 21 Jump Street takes a rather beloved, albeit worn-out movie premise (adults coping with modern day high school,  and somehow manages to make it fresh and, delightfully, both madcap and tongue- in-cheek all at the same time.

The adults in question are new cops, former school nerd Schmidt (Hill) and former school jock Jenko (Channing Tatum). Assigned to 21 Jump Street, a specialist division, the fresh faced duo are tasked with infiltrating a local high school by posing as students and uncovering the dealers and suppliers of a new, lethal, designer drug.

As I said, not exactly a new idea in movie land, but somehow 21 Jump Street manages to pull it off, giving us a smart and affectionate satire of all those 80s teen movies. Central to its likability is the Hill-Channing partnership which, simply, works. Two actors I would never have thought of together and yet they fit perfectly, with Channing bringing plenty of muscle and an unexpected tenderness to Jenko while Hill is shorter, smarter and enjoying being in the cool gang for once in his (well, Schmidt’s) life.

The chuckles come thick and fast, from slapstick to the odd in-joke for those who remember all those teen movies from before they were “classics”; though at times Hill and Bacall do rely a touch too heavily on foul language to tickle the old funny bone. There’s a fair bit of action shoehorned in too, as well as a nice play on kids’ mentality today (it’s cool to care) and, of course, a little harmless romance. There’s even a very angry police chief or two and, hey, who doesn’t love a shouty police chief?

I’m too young to remember the original 21 Jump Street series on which this is loosely based (cameo alert!), but I’ve heard it was a rather earnest affair. Fortunately this time round, it’s the funny that wins the day, even if there is a little moral at the heart of it all.

Reviewer: CurlyShirley

In a nutshell: The Muppets reunite to raise $10 million to save their studio.

Popcorn rating: 4/5

In September 1976, The Muppet Show premiered on television. The show ended up spanning the length of five years, with a total of 120 episodes. Created by Jim Henson starting in 1954-55, The Muppets also spawned feature length films, television specials and a wide array of other television series.

And now, twelve years after The Muppets’ last theatrical release, Muppets From Space (1999), they’re at it again in the new eponymously named The Muppets written by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller.

The movie is rife with familiar faces like Segel and Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him to the Greek). Music and directorial credit go to Bret McKenzie and James Bobin respectively, both of the television series The Flight of the Conchords. The starring roles, Gary and Mary, are held by Segel himself and the beautiful Amy Adams. And of course it wouldn’t be the Muppets without a slew of celebrity cameos throughout the film, from the likes of Neil Patrick Harris to Mickey Rooney, Whoopi Goldberg to Selena Gomez.

So the production had a variety of well-known names attached to it, so what? How does it stand to the history of the Muppets, and how good of a movie was it?

The story focuses on Gary, Mary and Gary’s puppet brother Walter as they are enlisted to help Kermit peace together the disbanded Muppet group in order to save their beloved studio from the oil-crazed Tex Richman (Chris Cooper). They must raise $10 million to buy back the studio and how else do you raise $10 million as The Muppets besides a televised telethon with a surprise guest celebrity host!

The Muppets pulls together a combination of child humor, adult humor and slapstick comedy perfectly to create an all together hysterical film.  Well-deserved applause and laughter echoed through the theatre nonstop during the movie, as small children as young as 3 and adults as old as 50 alike joined in on the festivities of the Muppets.

The Muppet stars and actors opposite them do such a great job with the back and forth, making viewers forget the fact that these are puppets and puppeteers that are interacting on screen. It takes us back to our childhood when we really believed in talking frogs and pigs, instead of looking for signs of the puppet master. It is such a great film, whether you are young in years or just young at heart.

Reviewer: TylerMcCane

In a nutshell: Bizarre but brilliant.

Popcorn rating: 4.5/5

Bill Bailey doesn’t do much in the way of social comedy – but maybe he should.  The Prime Minister and the Pope were among those in his firing line during brief interludes between his random observations and musical wizardry.  He had the huge crowd at Liverpool Echo Arena in stitches when he mocked David Cameron for saying ‘we’re all in this together’ when he and his Cabinet chums live in luxury.

Bill also didn’t shy away from controversy when he lampooned the Pope for criticising British society when the same man has been accused of failing to act against a paedophile priest.

The rest of the show saw Bill in more familiar territory by twisting our perceptions on modern music.  Hip hop artist Akon’s misogynistic lyrics in ‘Smack That’ were analysed line-by-line before being given a West Country style makeover to eye-watering effect.  Then James Blunt’s wet and whimsical brand of guitar music had the same misfortune when Bill attempted to write a song for him.

For long fans of Bill Bailey, there have been moments of frustration in previous tours as he has been known to recycle old gags.  But the new tour, Dandelion Mind, was refreshing, featuring completely new material.

One of the best moments was actually when Bill broke down into a fit of giggles when he realised how absurd his ‘job’ is.  At the time he was playing Enter Sandman by Metallica on horns. It was bizarre but quite brilliant.

Reviewer: DavidMorgan

In a nutshell: ‘Killer’ countryfolk prove ripe for comedy pickings

Popcorn rating: 4/5

Deliverance made dead eyes, toothless grins and banjo music both famous and terrifying. The horror story about four city men who encounter some unfriendly locals in the back country was acclaimed and spawned countless imitations.

But it was hardly believable. Countryfolk living in isolated parts of America might be used to a slower pace of life or perhaps have extreme right wing leanings. However, a murderous rampage probably isn’t at the top of their agenda. So it’s about time that the scenario was given a humourous makeover.

Tucker and Dale vs Evil is a brilliant comedy of errors and perceptions. Dale (Tyler Labine from Rise of The Planet of The Apes) and Tucker (Firefly’s Alan Tudyk) wear dungarees, checked shirts and vacant grins.

They are on holiday at their dilapidated mountain cabin when they encounter a group of stereotypical college teenagers. Naturally the youths think the pair are cold blooded killers and when Tucker and Dale rescue one of their friends Allison (Katrina Bowden), the chaos commences as the teens think she has been kidnapped.

As the college kids try to ‘save’ their friend, they are dispatched in a number of wild and wonderful ways in hapless accident after hapless accident. Chainsaws, wood chippers…you can see every gag coming from a mile away but it doesn’t diminish the humour in any way. Expect belly laughs.

With all the disappointing comedy films of late, this is breath of fresh backcountry air.

Reviewer: DavidMorgan

In a nutshell: No Willow

Popcorn rating: 0.5/5

Remember Willow? Sweet natured farmer Willow (Warwick Davis) out of his depth battling to save a special baby from an evil queen. Remember crazy old Madmartigan (Val Kilmer hamming it up and loving every minute of it)? Good movie huh? Bit predictable and slushy, but one of the classics of your childhood really, when you think about it.

Your Highness is nothing like Willow. That’s probably okay really, in that its target audience isn’t kids. Unfortunately, that’s not what I mean. What makes Your Highness nothing like Willow is because sword and sorcery “comedy” Your Highness is irredeemable garbage no matter what age you are.

It is so bad, so boring, so pointless and predictable, in fact, that it has completely changed my mind about Danny McBride. I used to think his slobbish, drawling, southern idiot schtick was charmingly amusing. Now, I just can’t stand it. Or him. Or ever want to see anything as bad as this celluloid sh*t ever again.

Obviously going on the premise that swearing and lewdness in an unusual setting is utterly hilarious, Your Highness gives us an alternative fairy tale style story *insert rude word here* with bad words aplenty. It sees tubbster McBride playing Prince Thadeous, a lazy good for nothing royal constantly overshadowed by his charming and brave Prince Fabius sibling (James Franco) *insert sexy medieval lady in a bikini here*

In order to prove himself worthy of his daddy’s love,  Thadeus sets out on a mission to save his brother’s bride-to-be (doe-eyed Zoe Deschanel) along with his trusty servant (Rasmus Hardiker), his brother and sexy, foul mouthed heroine Isabel (Natalie Portman)  *insert crude, gross out slapstick scene here*. This unlikely gang face various dullard challenges, double entendres and dire jokes along the way. *insert general lewdness here*. And that’s it. End of.

If ever there was a movie to make you fret for the future of film, this is it. Don’t bother.

Reviewer: CurlyShirley

In a nutshell: On holiday with the lads

Popcorn rating: 3/5

The Inbetweeners was a surprise TV hit. For many, those awkward teenage years and the hierarchy of high school conjure up long lost memories of dread. But the honesty with which writers Damon Beesley and Iain Morris portrayed four friends made it a success with the young and the young at heart alike.

The joy of the TV series was that all the scenarios, no matter how embarrssing, seemed somehow feasible, from the first fumbling encounters with girls to a disastrous trip to Thorpe Park.

The film takes geeky Will, besotted Simon, potty mouthed Jay and dopey Neil on the next logical step after finishing high school – a lads’ holiday.

Making the transition from the small screen to the cinema has often been tricky for British comedies. Fear not though as this is not another Kevin and Perry Go Large.

The Inbetweeners trip takes them to Malia in Crete where, inevitably, their misadventures lead them to meet four girls – as well as Simon’s love interest from the show Carli – and the plot rolls on from there.

It’s fair to say The Inbetweeners does lose something in its transition to Crete. The high school gags are long gone and many of the supporting characters are absent. Greg Davies’ brilliant portrayal as cynical teacher Mr Gilbert makes a fleeting appearance but you long for more. It’s also a lot more vulgar than the show and, although many fans will love that, you can’t help but cringe.

But in other moments, the film is on absolutely top form. Watch out for the scene when Will, Simon and Neil dance over to a group of girls in an empty bar.

Credit also goes to Beesley and Morris for deliberately sabotaging every moment of the film that was deemed overly sentimental.

Essentially the movie stays true to original series but, with a short run time, you do get the lingering sense this could have all been achieved as an extended final episode on the telly.

Reviewer: DavidMorgan

In a nutshell: Buttock-clenching realism played for laughs

Popcorn rating: 5/5

The mockumentary format can be tough to get right. Fortunately Twenty Twelve is more akin to The Office’s gently-paced realism than Come Fly With Me’s funny voices and fat-suits.

Writer-director John Morton has form when it comes to documentary-style comedies, having previously penned the excellent People Like Us. People Like Us starred Chris Langham – and is consequently unlikely to appear on your screens again in the wake of his prison sentence for downloading child porn, betraying aggrieved Guardian readers in the same way that legions of Sun-buyers felt cheated by The People’s Paedophile, Gary Glitter. Lucky for us, then, that Twenty Twelve is such a brilliantly-observed little treat of a satire that it more than makes up for it.

Set in the fictional Olympic Deliverance Commission, Twenty Twelve follows a team of public sector senior managers, who behave… well, like public sector senior managers. If you don’t think that would provide endless scope for absurd awkwardness, Kafkaesque dialogue and beautifully-timed farce, you’ve clearly never worked in the public sector. And now you don’t need to. Just watch Twenty Twelve instead. There’s no difference.

The meetings with blindly confident ‘Head of Brand’ Siobhan Sharpe (Jessica Hynes), in which everyone fiddles with their BlackBerry and accomplishes nothing, are devastatingly accurate vignettes of office life, as are the small failures that seem to conspire to ruin day after day for Head of Deliverance Ian Fletcher (Hugh Bonneville). A temperamental swipe-card reader denies him entry to his own office. Some unearthed bones could mean abandoning the much-hyped ‘urban water hole’ showpiece of the Olympic Aquatic Centre, already behind schedule, if they prove to be Roman remains. ‘Let’s hope it just turns out be a murder or something,’ Ian says cheerfully on his way to meet the archaeologist.

Head of Sustainability Kay Hope (Amelia Bullmore) is a particular delight as she tries unsuccessfully to explain what sustainability actually means, in between desperately begging Stratford youth groups to find a post-Olympic use for the white elephant Tae Kwondo Centre. So is Head of Infrastructure Graham Hitchins (Karl Theobald), who with only a year to go, still hasn’t worked out how London’s packed transport network will handle the Olympic traffic. Perhaps that’s why Graham rarely seems to go home – or maybe it’s just because when asked where he lives, his only response is ‘It’s got its own bathroom’.

I have just two complaints about Twenty Twelve. One is that it’s so accurate that I sometimes get confused while watching and think I’m at work. The other is that it’s shoved away on BBC4 at 10pm. This is a sharp, well-made comedy that deserves better – 9 o’clock on BBC2 for the repeat, perhaps?

Reviewer: JoSheppard