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
The Lego Movie: Emmet Brickowski is a follow-the-manual kind of guy, but when he bumps in to a master builder his life changes forever. Anyone that’s ever played with Lego can relate to the film’s settings, and it’s good fun just trying to spot old and quirky pieces like the glow-in-the-dark ghost. The entire film looks brilliant, vibrant and ridiculously detailed – characters even have slight thumbprints. There’s a grade-A voice cast, with a lot of distinguishable and entertaining character actors in the mix. It’s also one of the few films that is universally funny; covering the slapstick / physical gags but including a layer of smart ‘adult’ satire and running gags for the duration – it’s consistently funny. There are a few stumbling blocks though: the bigger action scenes are too fast/shaky/blurry to keep up with; the split realities at the end knocks the wind out of the finale’s sail; some of the Lego franchises feel shoe-horned in; and for a film that preaches “use your imagination” to everyone, it’s literally a scene-for-scene re-telling of The Matrix… which is a touch disappointing and hypocritical. However, all things considered, The Lego Movie is a damn fine kids film, and even a damn fine film by normal standards. Highly entertaining and uplifting, if unapologetically unoriginal, family BLOCK-buster.
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.
The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret: a useless U.S. office temp is mistakenly sent to the UK to shift thousands of cans of potentially toxic Thunder Muscle energy drink. The entire show hangs on the idea of cross-atlantic confusion, and will probably play marginally better to Brits, although not wholly inaccessible to yanks! The humour is ultra black, dry, witty, often-tasteless, cringe-inducing… which I love; and some of the jokes are so ‘wrong’ that if you didn’t laugh it off you’d be writing a letter of complaint to the TV station. There’s some fantastic running gags like Todd pissing himself at the end of each episode, terrorists using him, and the recurring lies about Leeds & The Who – more generally, there’s a lot of well-written, catchy ideas such as Thunder Muscle, £30 note, Bad Sanitation, and Steve Davis (polar opposite of energy, well played by him though). David Cross writes the central character to all of his strengths, and the supporting cast all deliver more laughs, again tailored to their brand of humour; coarse Arnett, Laddish Harrison… All in, something this edgy and crass won’t be for everyone, but if you like the idea of an ignorant American with no business acumen setting up shop in a foreign country, it’s comedy dynamite!
Walkout: The Secret World of Arrietty – Despite being a Studio Ghibli film, around the 20 minute mark my two mates and I knew this wasn’t for us. Being a re-telling of The Borrowers, it’s definitely pitched at an audience far younger than us (mid 20s men), it was also quite a slow burner, especially for a kid’s film. The biggest turn off however was the English dubbing – not just because dubbing’s rubbish – but because badass Mark Strong is cast as the dad, and not fighting anything. Hanna the assassin was Arrietty, and Sophie from Peep Show was the mum… maybe it’s just me, but it’s such a strange voice cast? Although not as strange as Will Arnett (!!!) being the American voice of the dad…
Realising this was pretty uncool and that we may have looked like a pack of predators in amongst the screen full kids, we bundled out ASAP, not looking back.
Alternative plans – as it was still relatively early we went to the nearest rock Pub and got our beer on!
Blades of Glory: started off very strongly by backgrounding the characters and fierce competition, paired with commentators on the BASEketball level of awesomeness. Unfortunately it fizzles out a little when the focus shifts off the rink and a fairly uninspired underdog / unlikely friendship story plays out. The characters definitely have their moments but they’re no Ron Burgundy or Napoleon Dynamite. Even Will Arnett couldn’t muster up many laughs, an indication of the patchy script. I’ll buy a meal to the people who made Jenna Fischer look that hot! The rest of the film relies on the innuendo of male skaters and there’s a whole load of skating stars & references throughout. Probably more for fans of the sport than Joe Public but there are some good bits scattered throughout.