Film Review: Little Monsters

Writer-director Abe Forsythe’s Little Monsters is an entertaining, if forgettable, zombie comedy. The film’s leads are a definite plus.

Dave agrees to chaperone his nephew’s class trip, after he takes a shine to the teacher Miss Caroline. The pair must protect the children when an zombie outbreak occurs…

The narrative of Little Monsters follows Dave, an adult who clearly needs to grow up. The opening gambit is very funny, and a great introduction to the protagonist. Dave’s outlandishness is amusing; he is both refreshing and crude in his expression. The film is clearly a redemption tale, with a protagonist initially following self interest before learning to care about others. Forsythe approaches this theme in a playful manner, giving the audience enough to laugh about on the way. When it does get a bit more serious, the film loses its shine a little. 

At just over ninety minutes, Little Monsters is fairly succinct in telling its story. As the film reaches its climax, the peril is never really sincere. Despite the bawdiness of the first half of the film, the way the second half pans out means there is never a fear that the children are in real danger. The jokes hit more often than not. The film does not skimp on gore, although Forsythe goes the cartoonish route, in keeping with the tone. 

Alexander England delivers a good performance as Dave. Lupita Nyong’o is a delight. Josh Gad is suitably irritating as Teddy. Although an antagonist among the zombie hordes may have been needed, Teddy gets too much screen time for the scope of his role. Music is used well in the film, and is often employed for laughs. 

In focusing on Dave’s character development, the film gives up on outrageousness. There was an opportunity for the film to become blackly humorous, and it is a bit of a disappointment that Fotsythe does not go this route. Nevertheless Little Monsters never bores, and there are enough laughs to placate most viewers. 

Little Monsters is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2018, and will be released in UK cinemas on 15th November 2019.

Film Review: Thanks for Sharing

 Thanks for Sharing

Stuart Blumberg’s Thanks for Sharing is a drama that does engage viewers, but perhaps not to the extent it hopes to.

Although he seems like a regular guy on the surface, Adam faces a continual battle. Along with other members of his support group, Adam struggles on the road to recovery from sex addiction…

Thanks for Sharing attempts to imbue some humour into the subject of sex addiction, whilst still underscoring the impact of such a condition. The success of the film is that it can switch between drama and comedy in an instant. The story is serious for the most part, with occasional bursts of humour.

The three main characters in Thanks for Sharing work to exhibit various stages of addiction; although some are more interesting than others. The film shows the pitfalls and the triumphs of recovery. The grey area makes the film feel more authentic.

The main issue with Thanks for Sharing is that it lacks catharsis. Perhaps this is intentional; an attempt to mirror the tribulations of recovery. Nonetheless, from a viewer’s standpoint this means that the film is not as satisfying as it could be.

Another problem with the film is that secondary characters are not as engaging as they could be. Although Adam is a likeable protagonist, it is more difficult to empathise or engage with to the same extent characters such as Phoebe or Mike.

Blumberg’s direction is solid. Thanks for Sharing is suitably paced. The soundtrack, however, is a bit hit and miss. Performances are good. Mark Ruffalo is believable throughout, as is Patrick Fugit as Danny and Josh Gad as Neil. Gwyneth Paltrow’s Phoebe is as aggravating as the actress herself.

Thanks for Sharing works well in some aspects, although it is patchy overall. Not must-see cinema, but not a bad watch either.

Film Review: Love and Other Drugs

Love and Other Drugs is an enjoyable comedy drama with two very attractive leads. The film retains a good balance between humour and emotion, which only strays too far one way at the end of the film.

Jamie is a charming ladies’ man hoping to become a success in the burgeoning pharmaceutical sales industry. He is instantly smitten by Maggie, a young artist living with Parkinson’s disease. Jamie must struggle with the stressful nature of his job while also pursuing Maggie, a free spirit who does not intend to get tied down…

One of the highlights of Love and Other Drugs is the way the two protagonists are developed. The opening scene works perfectly to succinctly compose an illustration of Jamie as an attractive and charismatic guy who can charm any woman. It is a great opening to both the character and the film. Maggie’s personality, on the other hand, evolves over the course of the film, revealing both her bluntness and her sensitivity at various intervals.

There is nothing groundbreaking about the story; the narrative turns in Love and Other Drugs are fairly predictable. The film’s strength lies in its ability to project believable and interesting characters. Aside from a few cheesy moments at the end of the film, the dialogue appears authentic, and is peppered with humour and affection.

Love and Other Drugs differentiates itself from other films in the same vein through its very particular setting. Taking place in the late 1990s, the film is set in a period where pharmaceuticals became big business with drugs being sold commercially. Love and Other Drugs casts a knowing eye over how the industry evolved in this era. This is accompanied by a great soundtrack featuring tracks from that period and prior to it.

Edward Zwick does a capable job of directing the film. Love and Other Drugs‘ emphasis is firmly on the couple, yet allows for some interesting side characters. Many of the scenes between Jamie and Maggie are beautifully crafted, employing adept camerawork and editing to create an intimacy between both the couple themselves, and the couple and the audience. The home video footage is particularly striking in the way it highlights the beauty of both actors.

Jake Gyllenhaal is convincing as Jamie, oozing the charm that is so central to this character. Anne Hathaway demonstrates an admirable range, showing that Rachel Getting Married was no fluke. The charismatic pair are bolstered by some great supporting players, including Hank Azaria and Josh Gad. Judy Greer is delightfully ditzy in a small role.

Love and Other Drugs effectively combines depth and lightness, delivering a believable rendering of a tumultuous relationship. For the most part, the film strikes the right balance, which makes the decline at the ending unfortunate but not unforgivable.