Keeping Rosy [soilers]: after losing her job and taking it out on her cleaner, Charlotte goes from very successful businesswoman to a murderer – and worse – in a couple of days. This is a microbudget microdrama that’s impeccably shot (if you don’t mind relentlessly cold, grey, minimal / clinical visuals) but feels at home on your TV screen. There’s only a handful of actors in this, but none of them are given more depth than their borderline offensive off-the-shelf character sheet: cold career focused woman; rough northern girl; spying security guard; businessman that likes affairs… In saying that, the acting is solid for the most part. The film’s pitched as an ‘hitchcockian’ thriller, but ends up being a bit of a comedy by the end, with some large – and visible a mile away – twists and turns. My biggest problem is that the film asks you to feel sympathy and root for a cleaner-killing, child-abducting lead – who’s setup as a ‘bitch’ from the start. Keeping Rosy has promise, but feels very muddled with its messages and execution.
The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret: a useless U.S. office temp is mistakenly sent to the UK to shift thousands of cans of potentially toxic Thunder Muscle energy drink. The entire show hangs on the idea of cross-atlantic confusion, and will probably play marginally better to Brits, although not wholly inaccessible to yanks! The humour is ultra black, dry, witty, often-tasteless, cringe-inducing… which I love; and some of the jokes are so ‘wrong’ that if you didn’t laugh it off you’d be writing a letter of complaint to the TV station. There’s some fantastic running gags like Todd pissing himself at the end of each episode, terrorists using him, and the recurring lies about Leeds & The Who – more generally, there’s a lot of well-written, catchy ideas such as Thunder Muscle, £30 note, Bad Sanitation, and Steve Davis (polar opposite of energy, well played by him though). David Cross writes the central character to all of his strengths, and the supporting cast all deliver more laughs, again tailored to their brand of humour; coarse Arnett, Laddish Harrison… All in, something this edgy and crass won’t be for everyone, but if you like the idea of an ignorant American with no business acumen setting up shop in a foreign country, it’s comedy dynamite!
The Inbetweeners Movie: Jay, Simon, Will and Neil celebrate the end of school in classic British style; by having a lads holiday in Crete (for some reason filmed in Magaluf?!). From the non-introductions right down to the TV aspect ratio and budget constraints – it’s not even remotely ‘cinematic’, feeling more like an extended / special episode. On the flipside, fans of the series will love it because it’s a good continuation – and hopefully wrap up – of the storyline; has most of the good characters doing their bit at some point; it’s loaded with laughs in the same vein as the show, (obvious but effective dirty jokes) and for all the ups and downs in the storyline, it’s enjoyable and uplifting to watch. Because it’s been on TV for 3 years now it’s also easy to overlook how well-observed, believable and funny the central characters are. While it’s essentially Kevin and Perry Go Large for the next generation, and despite having a generically predictable story, The Inbetweeners Movie perfectly captures teenage angst and everything else that makes the TV series so successful. It would be a great high note to end the franchise with, and the fact that it will probably finish 4th in the 2011 UK Box Office (beating off every other film in 2011 except HP7B, King’s Speech and Twilight) should give you an idea of how it went down with the British public.