Cedar Rapids: when ‘Brown Star’ (the best joke in the film) Insurance’s top sales guy dies they have to send a sheltered nerd to the regional insurance conference to win the prestigious “two-diamond” industry recognition. It’s billed as a ‘hilarious’ comedy, but let me break this down for you; John C Reilly is funny, Anne Heche is semi-funny, nobody else is funny at all. On paper, this is a great idea: a bunch of insurance nerds ripping it up at a corporate weekend – but it’s just not done correctly. A character from The Wire makes several references to The Wire, for no real reason – and the way everyone talks to each other is ridiculous, as if a child wrote parts of the script. Worst of all, not a whole lot of the jokes are funny – it’s definitely humor, not humour! The direction, look and feel are all classic American Indie – in the vein of Win Win, Away We Go, The Informant! – but it’s nowhere near that level. It feels like a studio said to a director “we’ve got this film that needs to be made, get all your friends on it”. As far as “Fish out of water” stories go, this could have been amazing, but the execution just isn’t there.
- Why are we here again? - I need a new house...
The Cold Light of Day: when his family are kidnapped near Madrid an everyman has to find a briefcase and return it to the captors in time. This is a strange one: coming out of the cinema it felt like a serviceable ‘nuts and bolts’ action movie, however, two days later the only parts i can recall are the Nike, Blackberry, Coca Cola, Audi, Land Rover, Fabrik Nightclub co-promotion scenes. There’s a couple of night-time action scenes that were too shaky and poorly lit to be even remotely coherent – although there are a few interesting flares of camerawork, and it fades in and out of attempting to have the atmosphere and music of a classic Boir thriller – it’s just not consistent enough. The story is quite derivative, sloppy, and predictable genre writing – and everything down to the title feels focus-grouped to death. God bless Cavill for trying, but there’s next to nothing for anyone to work with – all characters are like concentrated stock. The Cold Light of Day is one of the laziest films I’ve seen in a long time; it just wants to coast on the back of the names involved – although the biggest (Sigourney and Bruce Willis) phone in two of the sleepiest and offendingly unremarkable paycheck performances of the year.
Paul: two ultra nerds go on a US road trip end up assisting an alien fugitive, comical misadventures ensue! Despite a wealth of fantastic SFX and a fairly predictable plot, the overall feel, tone and dialogue remain quite indie. Paul/Rogen is surprisingly human in this, which is a massive relief as he could have easily been another Jar Jar – he also looks amazing, and you believe he’s in the picture for the most part. There’s a total shitload of mainstream and obscure sci–fi references throughout – from dialogue and sound effects to imagery and entire quotes – all lifted from other genre pieces, making this 100% a film by nerds, for nerds. Most surprisingly, Paul is actually really funny, although I’ll admit that most of the appeal for me was the juvenile moments – ridiculously creative swearing, ass jokes, smutty talk etc. Although the trailer makes it look like a low-rent comedy Paul really is easily one of the funniest films that’s been out in a long time, mostly down to the great ensemble cast.
Wall-E: (Blu Ray) a lonely ‘bot and his roach, set out to clean polluted earth – which lands him on a wacky space adventure. Due to the lack of dialogue it relies on two things to engage the audience; the personification of Wall-E and descriptive music. It’s not totally dialogue free as there are talking humans and the bleeps / robo noises are used masterfully to convey basic language. The mid-section’s a happy-go-lucky robo-screwball, with slapstick and visual gags everywhere. Unfortunately, the story is pretty predictable and lacks the adult layer that makes the best animated films (like Finding Nemo) stand out. It’s also quite preachy and so critical about humans, fatness, our capitalist way of life, and the corporation that Al Gore could have co-written it. The broken robot uprising was a poor rip off of the broken toys in Toy Story. The sound throughout is pretty good but the picture’s two tales: brilliant in space but dull and cloudy on earth. Don’t get me wrong, I did like this, but it’s nowhere near as good as the aforementioned Pixar titles.