Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery – frozen in the swinging 60s, and thawed out in the 90s Austin “Danger” Powers has to defeat his nemesis Dr Evil while re-adjusting to modern life. Depressing fact: this film is almost 20 years old. Uplifting fact: it’s still as funny as you remember. Mike Meyers’ style isn’t for everyone, but this is about as mainstream as he goes; and the more James Bond knowledge you can bring to the table, the better (dispatch one-liners, henchmen deaths, sets, character names, elaborate death traps…). The clever setup means there’s a lot of rope to be used here: the spy genre, action movies, and fish-out-of-water elements, all fully capitalised. There’s quite a narrow band of humour used here: namely slapstick, funny faces, silly dances, and physical jokes – nothing too high-brow, but it’s all to the highest standard. If there’s one weakness it’s that the movie as a whole is a little too reliant on skits and unrelated interludes. With my James Bond obsession and nostalgic hat on, I’m probably not the most objective person to be watching this, but I would have genuine questions if someone didn’t enjoy such a light, charming, and loving parody of the early Bond Movies. Almost twenty years old, but still a stone-cold comedy classic, the first Austin Powers film is 95 minutes of laugh-out-loud, wall-to-wall top-drawer comedy.
If you can watch this clip without laughing (or even smiling) call a doctor – because you’re dead inside.
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.
The Other Guys: when New York’s most badass detectives come to an untimely end, two unlikely schmucks try to step up and fill the gap. Didn’t expect much from this one but was pleasantly surprised by how funny the film was, with Wahlberg and Ferrell both flexing their comedic muscles with ease. The script and scenarios do a great job of mocking every buddy-cop-film scenario you could think of; and there’s a few amazing running gags about Ferrell’s past and Keaton‘s chief detective unknowingly quoting TLC songs. Story-wise, it follows the classic up-down-up relationship you see in these movies, but it loses its way a little by the end when the jokes thin out and the story needs a-wrappin’ up. Didn’t really understand the random narration from Ice-T, and despite the film being entertaining enough the infographic credits were one of the most interesting parts of the film! The Other Guys isn’t a masterpiece by any stretch but it’s absolutely carried by all of the jokes – especially the delivery by Will and Marky – which make it funnier and more quotable than your average buddy cop comedy.
Megamind 3D: After finally defeating his nemesis, supervillain Megamind finds out that life without a hero around is actually quite boring, so he creates a new enemy, but things don’t all go to plan! This idea and story is novel and interesting for the first twenty minutes, but Megamind quickly runs out of steam as the last hour plays out. It’s 100% aimed at the kids – getting only a handful of chuckles from the adults, attributed to a couple of drawn-out jokes that die too fast: Metrocity / Metro City & Marlon Brando impression. The animation’s good, and characters are interestingly designed but then again pretty much every big-studio CGI affair works on this level these days. The 3D is also nice to look at, but loses its effect after 10-15 minutes. The main selling point is the high-end, and very recognisable voice actors; everyone’s good, but David Cross and Will Ferrell are particularly enjoyable. While the older audiences won’t get as much of this out of films like Toy Story and The Incredibles, the kids will absolutely love this.
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.
Stranger than fiction: (Blu Ray) It feels like a watch advert to begin with, then turns into an outlandish narrator hostage situation – won’t give the story away, but it’s pretty original. What’s most interesting is that you’re not used to seeing WIll Ferrel play the serious everyman, which he does a decent job at despite being out of his comfort zone. Someone also needs to stop casting Queen Latifah as motivational!! Maggie Gyllenhaal balanced it out by rocking my loins for the entire film. The picture’s crisp but there’s nothing really worth seeing here, the sound mix is dull, but the original audio is great. Similar themes and story to Eternal Sunshine / Being John Malkovich / Adaptation so check it out if you like those. I guess the main thing this film has over others is the fresh twist on life and who’s in control of it. It’s quite witty and intelligent, with a fantastic idea but I just can’t put my finger on what was missing.
Eastbound and Down: six episode comedy series about a former baseball superstar as he tries to get re-signed to the major-league and win back his old girl. The single biggest reason to watch this is the brilliant Kenny Powers; mark my words, he’ll go down as one of the greatest comedy characters of all-time. Not dissimilar to Cartman, he’s an incredibly self-centred and brutally honest, loud-mouthed, redneck. The script, and in particular Kenny’s lines, are consistently golden, and totally quotable. The other characters are all pretty generic (in a good & watchable way), but McBride absolutely steals the show. Despite all the laughs there’s some alright dramatic moments, and the finale is very well done. It looks nice – not unlike My Name Is Earl – and the story’s interesting enough to keep you watching. I am absolutely lusting over the prospect of a second season. Although it’s aimed more at guys over girls this should be mandatory viewing for all. Comedy of the year?