Film Review: Fun Mom Dinner

Alethea Jones’ Fun Mom Dinner is the latest in a series of female ensemble adult comedies. Despite the premise, the film is not quite as wild and humorous as expected.

The mother of four children, Kate has little in common with other mums. When she is dragged along to a mothers’ dinner by her friend Emily, Kate is less than enthused. However, the evening takes an unexpected turn…

Directed by Alethea Jones and written by Julie Rudd, Fun Mom Dinner aims for the bawdy, one-wild-night style of comedy which has had varying degrees of success over the years. The film throws together four distinct characters, linking them by virtue of motherhood. The film reaches for a mothers gone wild theme, with the vast majority of the duration focussed on this one evening.

One of the most striking things about Fun Mom Dinner is that the action is not that wild at all. There are not the outrageous moments that viewers may expect from a film such as this. Instead, the four main characters have a late night out, perhaps reminiscent of the days with fewer responsibilities. The screenplay has a few humorous gags, but this is not a laugh-a-minute film. There is some gross-out comedy at the beginning and some crude jokes scattered throughout, but the film is funniest when it is at its most natural. Some of the cultural reference seem a little dated, and indeed the film charms when it harks back to the John Hughes’ teen films of the 1980s. The nostalgia factor works well, yet the film seems to crave contemporary resonance.

The four protagonists are developed in so far as they fit particular archetypes. Performances are decent throughout, yet it feels like the talents of Toni Collette, Molly Shannon, and Bridget Everett are wasted. Meanwhile, Adam Scott gets to mope in a minor role. The 1980s-heavy soundtrack is great.

The overriding message of Fun Mom Dinner is that mothers are people too, outside their roles as caretakers. Yet the film makes motherhood look rather unappealing, despite its intention of showing mothers who are letting loose. Too few jokes are ultimately what make the film rather forgettable.

Fun Mom Dinner is available to watch on Digital Download from Monday 7th August 2017, and can be downloaded here: http://apple.co/2uMUSTu

Previews: Captain America: Civil War Trailer, Krampus and More!

Plenty to see this week, with the Captain America: Civil War trailer, a Krampus featurette, the latest Pride and Prejudice and Zombies poster and more…

Captain America: Civil War Trailer

Yesterday the Captain America: Civil War trailer dropped. From the looks of it, the film will continue with the tone of the excellent Captain America: The Winter Soldier. With a host of Avengers making an appearance in the new film, it looks continue on from events introduced in Avengers: Age of Ultron. No sign of Spider-Man yet, so roll on 29th April 2015.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Poster

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Here is the latest poster for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Based on the 2009 parody novel, the film stars Lily James, Sam Riley and Jack Huston. Featuring the characters from Jane Austen’s celebrated novel, the film is a period zombie flick. Pride and Prejudice and Zombie is out in UK cinemas on 12th February 2016.

Krampus Featurette

Krampus looks a bit insane, but a lot of fun. The above featurette explores the legend of Krampus, giving viewers a background to the creature featured in the upcoming film. Starring Adam Scott and Toni Collette, Krampus hits UK screens on 4th December 2015.

The Secret Life of Pets Teaser

Here is a little Christmas teaser for next year’s animated feature The Secret Life of Pets. The film concentrates on the lives of pets when their humans are away. With the voices of Louis C.K. and Kevin Hart, The Secret Life of Pets is set for release on 14th June 2016.

The Big Short Poster

The Big Short

Ooh, look at this cast. The Big Short is based on a true story about four outsiders in the finance who predicted the credit and housing bubble collapse of the late 2000s. Starring Christian Bale, Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell, The Big Short is out in cinemas on 22nd January 2016.

The Other Side of the Door Trailer

Well this looks alarming. The Other Side of the Door is about a family who are able to use an ancient ritual to contact their young son who was killed in a tragic accident. The mother’s failure to adhere to the rules has horrifying consequences, as the above trailer demonstrates. The Other Side of the Door hits UK screens on 18th March 2016.

Central Intelligence Trailer

Central Intelligence is a new action comedy about a CIA agent who enlists the help of his high school best friend on a mission. The film certainly plays to the strengths of Dwayne Johnson in a larger-than-life role. Partnered by Kevin Hart, Central Intelligence is scheduled to open in UK cinemas on 1st July 2016.

Film Review: Hot Tub Time Machine 2

HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2

Steve Pink’s sequel Hot Tub Time Machine 2 lacks the waggish charm of its predecessor. Those looking for belly laughs will be sorely disappointed.

As a successful tech billionaire and rock star, Lou’s attitude in 2015 gets him into trouble. In order to save him, Nick and Jacob realise they must take another trip in the hot tub time machine…

Director Steve Pink and writer Josh Heald return with most of the cast (barring star John Cusack) for Hot Tub Time Machine 2. Unfortunately, the team cannot replicate the humour of the first film, bawdy as it may have been, for this follow-up. The crude humour is even more present, yet it fails raise laughs.

The film’s narrative fails to capture the imagination. As with the first film, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 borrows from other time travel movies, particularly Back to the Future 2. With the majority of the film set in the future,  this sequel loses the nostalgia factor that Hot Tub Time Machine offered. Time travel pop cultural references are back, but feel tired and overused in this instalment. The costumes, music, and references are no longer a source of amusement.

Hot Tub Time Machine 2‘s main failing is its script. Other elements in the film cannot compensate for this defect. What is left is for the main characters to carry the film. Unfortunately, they are not strong enough to do this. Lou’s schtick gets annoying fast, and Nick is not given enough decent lines. The missing Adam is not felt as such; with the calibre of the script, his inclusion would not make much difference.

Performances in the film suffice. Craig Robinson’s comic talent is underused. Adam Scott does a suitable job, but is not helped by the script. The soundtrack is not as effective as in the original film.

Ultimately, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 fails to make viewers laugh. Without the comedy, the murder mystery plot does not engage, and attempts at drama fall flat. Give this one a wide berth.

Film Review: Friends with Kids

A romantic comedy drama, Friends with Kids works better as a drama than it does as a comedy. Nevertheless, it is suitably engaging material.

When they see the toll having children takes on the relationships of their friends, best friends Julie and Jason choose to do things differently. They decide to have a child together as platonic friends, so that it won’t spoil any romantic relationships they may have. Their friends have reservations about the arrangement, which prove to be well-founded…

Friends with Kids plays on the fact that it reunites much of the Bridesmaids cast. Given the success of that film, it is easy to see why this would be used as a selling point. Nevertheless, the comparison between Bridesmaids and Friends with Kids is a bit misleading. Although they are both comedy dramas, broadly speaking, Bridesmaids is a lot more humorous than Friends with Kids. Viewers expecting belly laughs from Jennifer Westfeldt’s film are likely to be disappointed.

There is humour to be found in the film, but this is slight rather than hilarious. Much more emphasis lies in the aspects of drama and romance. Writer, director and star Westfeldt attempts to depict characters in an authentic manner. For the most part, this works. Characters in Friends with Kids are believable in their interactions with others. Nonetheless, it feels as if a happy ending is shoehorned in rather than reaching a natural conclusion. The turn around in Jason’s character feels a little rushed, given the time taken to portray him in a different light previously in the film.

Performances in Friends with Kids are good overall. Jennifer Westfeldt and Adam Scott have chemistry as the two best friends. Chris O’Dowd injects some humour, while Kristen Wiig is decent in a more serious role than usual.

Friends with Kids is an entertaining enough film, but more laughs would have been appreciated.

Friends with Kids is out on DVD and Blu-Ray from 12th November 2012.

Film Review: Passenger Side

It’s the journey not the destination, as they say. Passenger Side certainly concurs with this sentiment, offering to take viewers on an ambling journey to destination unknown.

Michael’s birthday begins with a phone call from his drug addict brother Tobey. Instead of offering birthday wishes, Tobey needs Michael to drive him around Los Angeles. The brothers set off, with Michael unsure of exactly what the purpose of their journey is…

Written and directed by Matt Bissonnette, Passenger Side is an indie film that puts the emphasis on character interaction rather than narrative purpose. Nonetheless, the premise is presented promisingly enough; there is an air of mystery as to the real purpose of Tobey’s quest. As characters, Michael and Tobey are not as well developed as they could be. Although the nature of their relationship is exposed as the film progresses, they are not particularly well rounded as individuals. This detracts from Passenger Side, a film that focuses on conversation rather than action.

The elements of humour present in Passenger Side work well. The film is never raucously funny, but there are some amusing moments. Most of these are provided by the supplementary characters, who merely flit in and out again in their given scene.

Passenger Side emits the feeling that the script has been painstakingly crafted. Given that it is a dialogue-heavy film, this is perhaps unsurprising. Nevertheless, at times it appears like the actors are reading off a rigid script, rather than re-enacting natural conversation. The performances of Adam Scott and Joel Bissonnette (as brothers Michael and Tobey) veer between believable and stilted delivery, depending on the scene.

One of the most appealing elements of Passenger Side is the interesting atmosphere it provides. At the beginning of the movie, it is difficult to ascertain when exactly the film is set. Certain indicators point to a less than contemporary setting, however later references dispel this. Without these references, the film could easily have been set in the 1980s or 1990s.

Adding to this curious feel is Passenger Side‘s location. The film is Californian in most senses. It has a mellow feel that is often associated with the state. The camera work is simplistic; offering a basic shooting style. There are some lovely glimpses of the Californian landscape as the brothers make their way to the various destinations. The music is excellent, very in keeping with the overall style of the film.

The conclusion of Passenger Side is anticlimactic, but this is in keeping with the overall style of the film. Ultimately, Passenger Side is not the most memorable of films, but it is a lightly enjoyable ride.