Gone Girl [Spoilers!]: on their 5th wedding anniversary an American Sweetheart goes missing, and it doesn’t take the public long to turn on the husband. This is a film of two halves split right down the middle: the first part is a dramatic and gripping missing person case that leads you down one path. The second half is where the film unravels – it would have been better if Amy had just stayed in the wind, followed her plan, or the plot just followed the downward spiral of Nick, but when Amy meets up with the demented ex, it opens up so many ‘that’s silly / the police would totally be all over it’ aspects and undercut the hard work of part I. It’s almost as if the longer the film goes on, the more silly it becomes – to the point of TV/B-movie. As with all Fincher movies it looks fantastic, it’s beautifully shot, well acted, but it’s all rather low-key, with none of the flare you’d expect from a director this good. The Blu Ray sound mix is also pretty shocking; music and soundscapes dominate and dialogue is completely lost in the mix. Had to watch with subtitles on. There’s a good critique of the media and how dangerous their clout is, paired with some minor social commentary – but for the most part it feels bolted on. All in all, an unremarkable David Fincher film is still way above your average movie – and for that reason alone, this is worth checking out – just dont’ watch it if you’re in a new relationship, or about to get married!
American Reunion: the original gang head back to Great East Falls for their ‘Class of 99’ high school reunion, but will they be up to their same old antics? In a nutshell, it’s pretty obvious that the cast have struggled to shake off the image from the first few films (which were such a phenomenon at the time) and are only looking to make a bit of good cash again. In my books, Sean William Scott (Stifler) is the only one that’s done well – but even he’s still typecast! Being honest – although they’re all flatter than stamps – it is good to see everyone back on the screen again, and it’s even better when the smaller characters keep popping up: Shermanator, MILF guys, Nadia, Stiffler’s Mum, Jim’s dad etc etc. As before, the soundtrack is very punchy and pop-rock filled (with a nice encore from one of the original tunes), but has some of the most uninspired literal lyrics to match the scenes that I’ve ever seen. The story’s a bit of a mess; it feels like a bunch of random / funny scenes that loosely fit the tired ‘shaky friendship’ story arc. It’s all a bit business as usual, from the gratuitous boob / bum shots, slow motion scenes of hot babes being hot babes and plenty alcohol-fueled regrettable & misunderstood scenarios. I won’t lie, I laughed, lots so on a comedic level it’s better than expected, but overall it feels much safer than the original three. American Reunion is familiar territory (dick and poop gags), that will land well as a nostalgia piece for people like me that grew up on the first films; however, younger viewers will see this as a pretty weak effort, especially in the wake of films like Superbad, Pineapple Express, et al.
Alternative sticker, will be in the DVD extras
Undercover Brother: when it turns out that “The Man” is trying to quash black culture through brainwashing important figures, an all-black spy agency (the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D.) send in their best man. The script grabs every stereotype imaginable by the horns and rolls with it: afros, fashion, jive talk, a mind-control drug deployed through fried chicken, Undercover Brother’s weakness is ‘White she devil‘, the agency have to employ a white guy through affirmative action… most of them are hits, but as a honky, there were probably a load that slipped by me. The director needed a better handle on this; doesn’t know if it should be a straight up spoof / blaxploitation / Spy / martial art or political… it covers them all, but in half-hearted, clunky segments. The camerawork is also quite poor: awkward jaunty angles overused and it breaks the 180-degree rule for no reason. A lot of the jokes reference the time where it was filmed (2002), so it feels a little dated now, and at 85 minutes, it does well to not overstay its welcome – but hey, the real James Brown appears at the end. Undercover Brother is both a hit and miss; it’s smart and dumb; has both high and low brow laughs – there’s something for everyone, but just not enough of the good stuff.
A very Harold and Kumer 3D Christmas: [3D] It’s Christmas eve and when a magical doob burns down Harold’s one-of-a-kind Christmas tree the two must find a replacement before the big day. And yes, this film is every bit as stupid as the title would suggest. There’s babies on drugs, dick jokes, racial stereotypes, lesbian nuns/pedo priests, drug use, dealer Santa, a surgery montage, sexy massage, and a robot that makes waffles (and hates pancakes) – it’s totally mental, 100% crude but so festive that it’s almost impossible not like. The stoner element is minimized to a few scenes and 3D smoke rings, and it feels more like a ‘Hangover’ type situation-after-situation affair. The 3D was brilliant: very aware, gimmicky, in-your-face pointy-pokery – the way it should be. Surprisingly funny, solidly uplifting, and equally offensive to every and all age/race/belief this could well be one of the best modern Christmas stories!