Arrested Development (Season 3): Michael Bluth is still trying to keep his dysfunctional family together – and they’re doing their best to screw everything up. This series coasts a little more on the established gags like the Bluth lessons (why you should always leave a note!), rather than creating new ones; some old plot-lines and characters are also written back in to beef up the story. Because it was the last scheduled season, the final few episodes felt obligated to tie-up the loose ends like the Iraq “light treason” court case, cousin love etc – which was good to see, but feels more forced than the usual completely unrelated antics. Once again the two stars of the show are the cast and the writers – you just don’t get it this good on both sides very often. As you’d expect, Season 3 is still great TV, but it doesn’t feel as fresh or funny as the first two series – the episodes aren’t quite as tight, or packed with jokes, and some of the bigger laughs stoop down to things like rude language (pussy/fags) and retards; which previous seasons didn’t need to fall back on. However, those niggles are minor, and Season 3 ensures that the show remains one of the greatest comedies of all time.
Arrested Development Season 1 Review
Arrested Development Season 2 Review
Arrested Development (Season 2): with George Bluth on the run, the family must march on without him, and Michael must keep the Bluth Company – and his family – under control. This is my third time watching through AD and in reflection it’s so obvious why a show like this was destined to fail on TV. The biggest problem is that the running gags are subtle, and would be easy to miss if there were 7 days (let alone weeks) between the episodes. With the DVDs however, you can bash through a season in a few nights and really appreciate the fine writing. In saying that, S2 tries to address this by having clusters of jokes that are confined to an episode; like the ‘Charlie Brown’ slow walking, Gene Parmesan, etc. The biggest step up for me is lot more brilliantly timed physical comedy: chicken dances, face pulling, slipping, and Mrs Featherbottom’s spectacular Mary Poppins moment. Once again the brilliant ensemble cast of comedic actors does great things with well-written characters. This should be mandatory viewing for anyone that enjoys comedy TV – almost a decade later and it still puts most shows to shame.
“I just blue myself”
Arrested Development (Season 1): when the CEO of the Bluth Company gets jailed for fraud (and light treason), one son must step up and take charge while the rest of the dysfunctional family try to get back on their feet. This is an absolutely explosive combination of fantastic writing, stellar casting, and perfect comic acting / timing. The 20 minute episodes are so tight and neat – not a single word is wasted, and everything is relevant to the plot or character development, to be used somewhere down the line. For a comedy, every main character is funny, well-played and developed over the season. And, for something this upbeat and watchable, it’s remarkably dense, layered, lean & efficient. Arrested Development is the holy grail of comedy; fun for casual, first-time viewings, but rewarding for repeat viewings as you’re able to pick out more and more running jokes, themes and catchphrases. Unmissable comedy.
Hangover Part III (aka The Hangover 3): The wolfpack are reunited (again), and end up going on a road trip that takes a wrong turn (again). For what started out as a really good original film, this series has taken a rapid nosedive into sub-mediocrity. It doesn’t feel like a ‘Hangover’ movie: there’s no blackout, no fun, no shocks, no unorthodox situations, no Mike Tyson – the only attempt to tie it in is some forced nostalgia; inserting shots from previous films. The cast are OK, but all look like they’d all rather be elsewhere – and the rent-a-John–Goodman cameo is such uninspired casting. I don’t understand how someone managed to spend $103M on a film with no real stunts, or heavy CGI. The first film worked because it was equally shocking and funny, the second film was OK because it was mostly shocking; this one feels empty in both tanks – timid story, and simply not funny enough to be a comedy. Ken Jong does something ridiculous; Zach Galifianakis says something silly/inappropriate; Ed Helms screams in bemusement; and Bradley Cooper stands around looking broody – repeat x100. Sadly, this feels more like a bunch of contractual obligations than a film.
Hangover Review (7.5/10)
Hangover Part II Review (6.5/10)
The Hangover Part II: Take my review of the first film – change mentions of ‘Vegas to Bangkok and it’s a job well done! Realising that the one-man wolf pack and Leslie Chow (the only two that pull off ‘funny’) were the best things about The Hangover, these two characters get even more screen time and gags than before. Once again, the humour is very Lad / Frat friendly and doesn’t appeal to everyone. Not much else to say other than it’s even more crass and offensive than the first, and seemed to have longer periods where nothing amazingly funny was happening. It’s good, but definitely more of an expansion pack than a new addition. Kudos to the people responsible for taking Hangovers for from a low-budget comedy to the biggest comedy of all time in 2 films!
Win Win: A lawyer-cum-wrestling coach gets more than he bargained for when assuming custody of an elderly client. From the very first scene this is clearly an Indie Flick, but you can also tell straight away that it has more potential than most. The casting is very strong: Giamatti‘s looking a bit jowly but does his everyman thing; the main kid actor (Shaffer – first film role) is very watchable – great presence already; not-quite-Billy-Zane/Andy-Garcia (Cannavale) also plays a blinder with an amazingly dark undertone. Although it’s a textbook underdog / misunderstood intentions story it’s very watchable, and the family aspect in particular is compelling. More than anything else, Win Win is subtly funny, and enjoyable to watch.