Vice Principals: when a school principal retires and the vice principals are passed over for a promotion they form an unlikely tag team to take their new boss down. Not unlike most Danny McBride projects, the humour in VPs is an acquired taste: it’s stupid and lowest-common denominator stuff, but I’m a fan of the funny to watch the crass swearing, childish squabbling, stereotypes, silly faces etc… McBride’s pretty much been here before in Eastbound and Down with his faded baseball star going back to school to teach; his latest character Neal Gamby is essentially an older, and slightly more filtered/censored Kenny Powers. Goggins on the other hand turns in an against-type effeminate role, that requires a lot of eye rolling, sucking up, and mincing around in pink clothes. Both leads are great at what they do and the core supporting cast notes (Gregory / Whigham / King / Love – GO SCOTLAND! / Patterson) all hit the right comedy notes. The show mostly cruises along, with scenarios that lead to silly and cringe comedy, but there’s a few curveballs in here with surreal moments, weird filming techniques, and the finale feels a little too bizarre and doesn’t fit in with the rest of the show. Vice Principals will go down best with fans of McBride’s trademark style, and he’s firmly in his comfort zone… for regular viewers it may be stray a little too far into crass and unacceptable territory.
30 Minutes or Less: two lazy rednecks kidnap a pizza delivery guy, strap a bomb to his chest and force him to rob a bank. There are plenty laughs here, but several unnecessary handicaps for a comedy film: the central character is a negative-Nancy and continually craps all over the knockabout tone of the film; some of the stuff is pretty grim (family murder/kidnap/bomb-vests) but related jokes are all played like is was a standard upbeat comedy; finally, it’s such a stupid, stupid story – especially when the hitman & strippers are added – that you lose interest. Both hicks were funny, McBride is token McBride and Swardson is a solid partner for him. The dialogue didn’t feel quick / smart / dry / sarcastic / scathing enough for Eisenberg‘s brand of humour, making it easy for Ansari to really shine as the comedy highlight. It’s a textbook example of when a trailer features and ruins all of the best gags. The story would have made a fantastic black comedy or screwball (given the number of ridiculous plot developments) but by playing it safe just leaves the film feeling messy and all over the place. Still, it’s entertaining and quite funny, but the silliness means it’s mostly forgettable; definitely sub-Zombieland.
Your Highness: when a lovely damsel is kidnapped, her heroic husband-to-be and his useless brother set out on a quest to save her. With this big budget, cast, and timeless mix of fantasy / peril it would be hard for this to go wrong… Above all, this film is pegged as a comedy, and for me it delivers, particularly if you enjoy some reductive and juvenile toilet humour. The special effects are turned up to eleven in parts – to keep the kidz of 2010s amused, and my nemesis (shaky cam) appears big-time during the last big set piece. The entire cast all play it well; Franco and Portman appear to be having fun and role-reversing both their Oscar-nom roles of 2010; Danny McBride does more of what he’s good at, as does the ever wide-eyed offbeat Deschanel – basically everyone is perfectly cast to play to their strengths. Big fights, dragons, magic, damsels, knights, nudity, swearing, hot pixies, drug jokes, robots, and the most unsettling ‘great wise wizard’ in cinema… what more could you ask from a rompalicious comedy? Laugh-a-minute, potty mouthed x-rated kids film.
Due Date: After both being put on the no fly list two polar opposites have to share a car across America to make it back in time for the arrival of a baby. The first half is like a gag machine gun, then they swap some of the joke time for more serious character development and curveball story points ’til the end. Being in 99% of the scenes both actors needed to be bang on the money, and they were. Downy Jr’s reprises several of his semi-likable borderline mad man roles, and Galifianakis has impeccable comedic timing, nailing a fleshed out version of Alan from the Hangover. While it’s funny the trailer reveals a lot of the good stuff, definitely reducing the impact of at least 1/2 the jokes – in saying that, there’s much more packed away in the film. The humour cover all bases too: slapstick, black, stoner, witty and gross-out – never thought I’d see a dog do that. A bit like Art Race there’s a ton of great shots of America from being on the road. While it’s not quite as good as the hangover, it’s the same mish-mash of comedy, fraternity, and crazy random events that will make it a similar hit. The final product is gag after gag threaded together with a believable and melodramatic relationship that works quite well – and in the end, it’s Just an all-round funny and watchable film.
Hot Rod: a wannabe stuntman has to pull off the biggest jump in history to save his terminally ill step-dad; just so he can kick his ass and win his respect before he dies… Ace! This is one of the few comedies I’ve seen lately that remains consistently funny throughout, with too many laughs to list, and a great script’s that throws up obvious and subtle jokes. Some of the humour’s pretty silly and offbeat but works because of the deadpan delivery. The cast are great with Samberg as the standout (unfortunately the Lonely Island are unheard of in the UK). Danny McBride and his usual posse also put in some good face time, Isla Fisher‘s also on good form. The laughs slow up in the third quarter and a few of the visual gags are predictable but it’s forgivable because the retro 80s hair metal / synth music soundtrack that compliments (and compensates for some of) the humour so well. For me the entire film just worked, and the production values were great. It will get bashed by any serious movie goer but Hot Rod totally exceeded my expectations and was genuinely funny throughout. Will definitely be watching again. Cool beans!
The Foot Fist Way: A tagline like “The story of a man who teaches people how to kick other people in the face” should make you want to watch any movie, and in that respect this film’s a total winner… shame about every other aspect though. It’s pretty much Kenny Power’s nerdy, and less offensive, brother teaching Taekwondo. All other characters are forgettable and get no good lines, the story’s predictable down to the ending and other than a few vulgarisms there weren’t many funnies in the script. The fly on the wall / docu style was interesting, but didn’t always work. I really wanted to like this film but it was all a bit forgettable. More like ‘Foot In Mouth’…
Eastbound and Down: six episode comedy series about a former baseball superstar as he tries to get re-signed to the major-league and win back his old girl. The single biggest reason to watch this is the brilliant Kenny Powers; mark my words, he’ll go down as one of the greatest comedy characters of all-time. Not dissimilar to Cartman, he’s an incredibly self-centred and brutally honest, loud-mouthed, redneck. The script, and in particular Kenny’s lines, are consistently golden, and totally quotable. The other characters are all pretty generic (in a good & watchable way), but McBride absolutely steals the show. Despite all the laughs there’s some alright dramatic moments, and the finale is very well done. It looks nice – not unlike My Name Is Earl – and the story’s interesting enough to keep you watching. I am absolutely lusting over the prospect of a second season. Although it’s aimed more at guys over girls this should be mandatory viewing for all. Comedy of the year?