Film Review: The Other Guys

20/09/2010

The Other Guys is not as funny as Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. That is not to say it isn’t a decent comedy, but merely that it does not reach the peaks of hilarity of Adam McKay’s 2004 film. Contending with the likes of Date Night and Dinner for Schmucks, however, The Other Guys becomes one of the better comedies of 2010.

Detective Terry Hoitz is sick of doing paperwork for hero cops Highsmith and Danson. When the opportunity arises, Hoitz and his reluctant partner Allen Gamble attempt to fill their shoes, but things don’t go according to plan…

 The Other Guys combines elements of the buddy cop movie, comedy and action to produce a very entertaining film. Whilst the narrative is linear and fairly predictable, the film amuses sufficiently so that this is not a problem. For example, juxtaposing a headstrong, aggressive cop with a goofy and more placid partner is not highly original, yet the relationship works due to a good script and chemistry between the pair.

The Other Guys is successful because of the various strands of humour at play. On a surface level, the antagonism (intentional or not) of Gamble towards Hoitz, and Hoitz reaction to this is a great source of amusement, particularly in the first half of the film. Elsewhere, the humour is sometimes juvenile but good fun nonetheless. The multiple references featured in the film (everything from Derek Jeter to Enron to Star Wars) are also a site for comedy, although sadly a number of these may be lost on some audience members. Finally, The Other Guys works well in the way in the way it skewers the conventions of the action and crime film. Hardened cop Hoitz has become adept in ballet only to make fun of the kids who took ballet, whilst Captain Gene Mauch also works a part-time job in retail.

Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg work well as the odd couple, with Wahlberg sending up his alpha male image. Eva Mendes performs well as Gamble’s unlikely wife. The Other Guys provides a welcome return to the mainstream for Michael Keaton, whose flair for comedy remains as strong as ever.

Coming at the end of a season bereft of good comedies, The Other Guys is an excellent caper; perfect if you want to switch your brain off and have a few laughs.

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Film Review: Date Night

23/04/2010

The lure of leads Steve Carell and Tina Fey is undoubtedly the biggest draw of Date Night. Sadly the film does not live up to expectations, despite good performances from the popular comedy actors.

The main problem with Date Night is that it simply isn’t that funny.  There are good one-liners and funny incidents, however it is not the laugh-a-minute extravaganza you would hope for. Likewise, there is not much wrong with the actual narrative, but the film is let down by poor writing.

The plot itself is incredulous, but that is to be expected from a film of this nature. After taking another couple’s reservation on their weekly date night, Phil and Claire Foster land themselves in a whole heap of trouble after a case of mistaken identity. The pair must go to substantial lengths in order to get the criminals off their backs…

Fey and Carell have good chemistry, and are believable as the married couple stuck in something of a rut. Furthermore, with a supporting cast that includes Mark Wahlberg, Kristen Wiig, Mark Ruffalo and Taraji P. Henson, it is a shame that good performances are let down by a lacklustre script.

The action sequences are orchestrated with some aplomb by director Shawn Levy. Likewise, the more serious conversations between Phil and Claire add some earnest to an otherwise far-fetched story. But for all the craft that has gone into making Date Night, it cannot escape from the fact that the film fails as a comedy. Not worth the price of admission.


Film Review: The Lovely Bones

11/03/2010

Based on the bestselling novel by Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones is a heart-wrenching drama that will elicit emotion in even the most hardened cinemagoers. The story of a murdered teenage girl and the aftermath of the tragedy overrides the harrowing nature of this event, instead choosing to focus upon the relationship between family members.

The film combines drama and fantasy to produce a film that leaps between the identifiable and the surreal. It is in these fantastic “afterlife” sequences that The Lovely Bones most closely resembles director Jackson’s previous work. It is the real life action however that packs the most punch on an emotional level.

Tucci excels as the creepy neighbour turned murderer. He gives an unnerving performance a world away from roles he has formerly been associated with. Weisz and Wahlberg are convincing as Susie’s distraught parents, each struggling to cope with her death in their own way. Newcomer Saoirse Ronan is absorbing as the tragic teen, and has a promising career ahead if her performance here is anything to go by.

Set in the 1970s, art direction, cinematography, score and costuming is spot on in recreating the period. Rather than focus on the terrible crime, the film shifts its attention to the family and the way each member copes with the loss of a loved one. In doing so, The Lovely Bones is an uplifting experience despite the sombre subject matter.