BASEketball: Two childhood friends create a new sport called BASEketball, but have to ensure that corporate sponsors don’t ruin the league. This film is as funny as they come – everything from college humour, gross-outs, slapstick, sports and normal gags; every scene is crammed with throwaway jokes, both in the script and in the background – it’s truly a gag-a-minute. From the director of Airplane!, The Naked Gun, and writer of Kentucky Fried Movie – you would expect no less. It’s got a surprisingly high budget too; no expenses spared with sets, extras, and an impressive comedy cast. There are a couple of small issues – notably that it’s very American, with lots of US-based gags, stars and parodies that don’t export well. it’s also quite clean and timid, given that it stars the creators of South Park and several playboy playmates – you feel that someone was deliberately keeping this reasonably clean. Having watched this over 20 times as a kid, it’s still as enjoyable as an adult. BASEketball is one of my comedy benchmarks, with more laughs and gags per scene than any modern comedy could even dream about.
BASEketball League Teams
New Jersey Informants
San Francisco Ferries
San Antonio Defenders
Brick: when his ex-girlfriend goes missing, a teenager goes prodding around in his school’s underbelly to try to find some answers. Given the high school setting and the film’s leanings towards a Noir detective story – where everything down to the dialogue & clothing of feels old-timey – you don’t really get many films with such a uniquely stamped style and feel. Borrowing so heavily from the Noir genre starts off quite refreshing, but becomes borderline tedious and annoying by the end – it’s also the film’s biggest downfall that anybody remotely familiar with the genre will see the major twist way, way before it’s revealed. The olde vernacular and slang-heavy dialogue also flips and flops between cool and stupid, as some parts become hard to follow, given the speed of delivery and unfamiliar phrasings. The adherence to Noir also means that the characters are simply drawn – one-dimensional – and overly familiar. The film’s stupendously shot: light in particular is used superbly throughout to add crazy good detail, depth and subliminal characterisation – especially during the indoor scenes. It’s also full of nice little touches, details and tricks that raise it above your average genre rip-off picture. As a crime story Brick pretty good, but it’s a film that is 100% defined as a modern take on 60-year-old conventions: sure it’s unique, stylish, funny and entertaining, but it’s also predictable, clichéd and full of stock characters because of its rigid adherence to the Noir genre. The positives do outweigh the trappings, making Brick worth a watch.
Casino Jack: the rise and fall of top Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, after his increasingly flaky attempts at influencing politicians lead to some ugly outcomes. It’s quite an interesting story, that’s part drama and part comedy / political satire. The film’s at it’s best when it’s dramatic: both Spacey and Pepper are red-hot, top-drawer, scene stealingly good. The comedy moments cover everything, from solid gags and witty lines all the way down the scale to unnecessary quirk – most annoyingly, Spacey‘s cinephile character bursts in to (some pretty good) cinematic impressions in every second scene. The direction matches what’s on screen, ranging from sensible handling of the dramatic moments, through to playful snappy quick-cuts and comedy timing. While the tone leaps all over the entire spectrum, there’s enough good performances, and moments of drama / satire to keep this watchable and entertaining. Not least, the film’s good for bringing Jack Abramoff, and his insane life story to your attention.