Film Review: Long Shot

Director Jonathan Levine’s Long Shot is a comedy-drama that never fully convinces. Despite a good start, the film fails to satisfy completely.

A chance encounter reunites Fred, a recently unemployed journalist, and Charlotte, Secretary of State and in the running to be the next President. Charlotte hires Fred as a speechwriter, while he still has feelings for his former babysitter…

Directed by Jonathan Levine (who previously worked with Seth Rogen on The Night Before and 50/50), Long Shot is written by Dan Sterling and Liz Hannah. The premise offers enough to keep viewers engaged. An odd couple pairing with a political backdrop, the film has promise. Unfortunately the direction which the film takes is a little disappointing.

Long Shot works best when it is buoyant and when it is satirical. When the film veers into romcom territory the wheels come off a little. The romance is never compelling when it plays out, although the chemistry between the two leads before this is good. The more serious tone does not sit as well as the first half of the film. Long Shot makes a few well targeted jabs, yet does not take aim at some obvious targets. The result is a little lukewarm; the film prefers to straddle the middle ground, politically speaking.

The emotional aspect of the final quarter of the film does not give the pay off Levine may have hoped. There is not really a sense that Fred is deserving of the risk Charlotte takes to be with him. He is a rather one-dimensional character; the type we have seen Rogen play before. The climax of the film is rather schmaltzy, a sharp departure from the film’s amusing opening. 

Charlize Theron is wonderful in the film. She is great in the film’s comedic moments, and does well to generate chemistry with Rogen. O’Shea Jackson Jr. and Bob Odenkirk stand out among the supporting actors. The film’s soundtrack is most appealing.

Long Shot offers some great moments of levity, but the romance is fails to capture the imagination.

Long Shot is out on Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, and DVD from 9th September 2019.


Film Review: Good Boys

Gene Stupnitsky’s directorial debut Good Boys is infectious in its silliness. Offering both heart and a lot of laughs, the comedy is very enjoyable. 

Three sixth grade boys ditch school in order to save themselves from trouble. However, with teenage girls chasing them, a bag of drugs, and a party to get to, things are far from simple…

Co-written with Lee Eisenberg, Good Boys is the feature debut of director Gene Stupnitsky. Influences of earlier comedies are clear. Advertising for the film gives audience an indication of what to expect (from the guys who brought you Superbad, Bad Neighbours, and Sausage Party the poster promises). The film counts Seth Rogen among its producers. The premise combines elements of Superbad and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Yet thanks to the age of the protagonists, Good Boys offers an innocence which is endearing. 

The protagonists are well drawn, each distinct in personality but with plenty of chemistry. The filmmakers are wise to keep focus on these three, keeping older characters on the periphery. The camaraderie between the trio is very believable. Despite the focus on humour, there is a level of sincerity present. The film focuses on an age where there are a lot of changes. Good Boys explores this in a way that feels earnest but not overwrought. 

The jokes hit the mark almost every time. The combination of silly jokes, age-sensitive references, and crude humour is a winning combination. The dialogue is great; there are a lot of laughs to be had here. The physical comedy is also very good.  All three boys deliver great performances. Jacob Tremblay and Brady Noon are most convincing in their roles. But it is Keith L. Williams who really shines as Lucas; hopefully he will have a bright future. 

At ninety minutes, the film does not overstay its welcome. Well paced and a lot of fun, Good Boys will put a smile on viewers’ faces. 

Previews: Long Shot Clip, Rocketman, Dark Phoenix, More!

Plenty in this week’s preview of coming attractions, including a new Long Shot clip, Rocketman, Dark Phoenix and more…

Long Shot Clip

Here is a brand new Long Shot clip. The film is about a journalist who reunites with his childhood babysitter as she is about to make a presidential run. Directed by Jonathan Levine, the film stars Charlize Theron, Seth Rogan, and O’Shea Jackson Jr. Long Shot will hit UK cinemas on 3rd May 2019.

Rocketman Featurette

This featurette looks at Elton John’s involvement with biopic Rocketman. The film, featuring the music of John, stars Taron Egerton as the musician early in his career. Directed by Dexter Fletcher, Rocketman will screen at the Cannes Film Festival before being released in UK cinemas on 22nd May 2019.

Fast & Furious: Hobbes & Shaw Trailer

A spin-off of the hugely successful Fast & Furious franchise, Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw focuses on two of the favourite characters from later films. The two former enemies partner up to bring down a threat to humanity. Starring Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba, and Vanessa Kirby, Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw is scheduled for release on 2nd August 2019.

Dark Phoenix Trailer

Above is the latest trailer for Dark Phoenix. A continuation of the latest X-Men series, Dark Phoenix concentrates on Jean Grey as she evolves in Phoenix. Regulars Sophie Turner, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, and James McAvoy return for the sequel. They are joined by newcomer Jessica Chastain. Dark Phoenix will hit UK screens on 5th June 2019.

John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum Clip

Here is a new clip from John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. In this latest episode, assassin Wick has a hefty price tag on his head. Director Chad Stahelski (John Wick and John Wick: Chapter Two) returns for the film, and is joined by Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Ian McShane, and Angelica Huston. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum will be released in UK cinemas on 15th May 2019.

Playmobil: The Movie Trailer

Here is the first trailer for Playmobil: The Movie. The film is based on the toy line of the same name. The film is about a sister who must rescue her younger brother when he disappears into the Playmobil universe. Featuring Anya Taylor-Joy, Jim Gaffigan, and Daniel Radcliffe, Playmobil: The Movie is set for release in UK cinemas on 9th August 2019.

London Film Festival 2015 Preview

The BFI London Film Festival 2015 commences this Wednesday, with a total of 238 fiction and documentary features being screened, including 16 World Premieres, 8 International Premieres, 40 European Premieres and 11 Archive films. The festival opens with the European premiere of Suffragette, starring Meryl Streep and Carey Mulligan. Here are some of the films to catch at the London Film Festival 2015…

Trumbo

TRUMBO

Bryan Cranston plays Dalton Trumbo, the Hollywood screenwriter who was blacklisted after refusing to testify in the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1947. A must-see for fans of films about the film industry, Trumbo is a biopic set in Hollywood’s Golden Age. The film also stars Diane Lane, Helen Mirren and Louis C.K.

The Witch

Taking place in a pre-Salem Witch Trials New England, The Witch is about a family who believe a supernatural force is at work. The Witch is the first feature directed by Robert Eggers, who won the Directing Award at the Sundance Film Festival in January this year. The film is nominated for the Sutherland Award for first feature at the London Film Festival 2015.

Beasts of No Nation

BEASTS OF NO NATION

Netflix’s foray into film distribution comes in the form of the powerful Beasts of No Nation. The film is directed by Cary Fukunaga, based on his screenplay about a young boy who is forced to join a group of soldiers in Africa. Starring Idris Elba, the film received critical acclaim at the Venice Film Festival earlier this year.

Steve Jobs

The London Film Festival 2015 hosts the European premiere of Steve Jobs as its closing gala. Based behind the scenes at three product launches, the film has envious credentials. Directed by Danny Boyle and scripted by Aaron Sorkin, the film stars Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet and Seth Rogen.

The BFI London Film Festival 2015 takes place between 7th-18th October. For full listings and more information, see here.

Previews: Ant-Man Trailer, Irrational Man Trailer and More

Previews of forthcoming attractions this week include the latest Ant-Man trailer, Irrational Man, Steve Jobs

Ant-Man Trailer

Here is the latest Ant-Man trailer. The film looks like it will have a healthy dose of comedy, and given that the film is about an ant-sized superhero, this will be welcome. Starring Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas, Ant-Man hits the big screen on 17th July 2015.

Irrational Man Trailer

Woody Allen’s latest film Irrational Man stars Joaquin Phoenix as a philosophy professor who  gets caught in a love triangle with two women. Emma Stone returns for her second performance in an Allen film whilst it is the first for Parker Posey and Joaquin Phoenix. Irrational Man opens in UK cinemas on 11th September 2015.

Steve Jobs Trailer

Here is the debut trailer for Steve Jobs. The film comes with quite a pedigree; it is directed by Danny Boyle, written by Aaron Sorkin, and stars Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet and Seth Rogen. Steve Jobs will be released in UK cinemas on 13th November 2015.

The Walk Poster

The Walk poster

The Walk is based on the true story of a man who walked between the two World Trade Centre towers in New York. The film stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Charlotte Le Bon and Ben Kingsley, and is directed by Robert Zebecks. The Walk hits the big screen on 2nd October 2015.

Creed

The Rocky franchise gets another instalment, albeit with a bit of a difference. Michael B. Jordan stars as the son of Apollo Creed, and sees Sylvester Stallone reprise his role as the boxing legend. Creed also reunites Jordan with his Fruitvale Station director Ryan Coogler. Creed is set for release on 27th November 2015.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl Trailer

The Diary of a Teenage Girl has already won praise at film festivals this year. The film is about a teenage girl growing up in San Francisco in the 1970s. Starring Bel Powley, Kirsten Wiig and Alexander Skarsgård, The Diary of a Teenage Girl will hit the big screen in the UK on 7th August 2015.

Masterminds

New comedy Masterminds tells the true story of a group of idiots who pulled off a $17 million heist. The film stars Zach Galifianakis, Kristen Wiig, Own Wilson and Jason Sudeikis. Masterminds will hit UK screens on 7th August 2015.

 

 

Film Review: This Is The End

Apocalyptic comedy This Is The End is squarely aimed at the Judd Apatow audience. It is sometimes crude, but more often than not pretty amusing.

When Jay Baruchel goes to Los Angeles for the weekend, he is hoping to spend the time catching up with his best friend Seth Rogen. However Seth is keen that they go to a party at James Franco’s house. The party is a bad idea, but not for the reasons Jay thought…

In This Is The End, all the characters play themselves. The film itself boasts a fun premise – a group of Hollywood actors trying to survive an apocalypse. This set-up wears a little thin over the almost two-hour duration, but This Is The End is thoroughly entertaining for the most part.

The fact that the characters a playing themselves, or at least a version of themselves, is one of the film’s main attributes. With the inclusion of a plethora of cameos, it is certainly fun to watch these stars sending themselves up. Nonetheless, it is a pity that James Franco, for example, does not make more of his perceived persona.

The humour in This Is The End is often crass. This is not unexpected, however, given the talent involved in the film. Although the jokes tend to go for the lowest common denominator, the humour does generate laughs.

Jay Baruchel is a likeable protagonist. He functions as the ‘normal guy’ within the sea of celebrities. As a result, he is the one viewers will most likely identify with. Jonah Hill and Craig Robinson offer good support, whilst some of the film’s funniest moments arise from the high-profile cameos.

Although it won’t be to everyone’s tastes, This Is The End should certainly satisfy the demographic it will appeal to. The film is silly fun, and recommend just for this purpose.

Film Review: The Watch

The Watch is a sufficiently entertaining film. The comedy needed better and more frequent jokes to become memorable, however.

Evan is an active member of the community. When a murder takes place in the store which he manages, Evan decides to form a neighbourhood watch. The other members are more keen to use the group as a way to escape their daily routine, but Evan insists on investigating the mysterious death…

The Watch offers a comedy with a science-fiction twist. Trailers for the film posit it as a straightforward comedy, which belies the sci-fi angle. The aspect of The Watch is fairly potent, particularly in the second half of the film.

The problem with The Watch is that several of the jokes fall flat. For a comedy, there is a lack of belly laughs. This is because the jokes that are present fail to work, and there are not as many of the jokes that do. The Watch could have been a lot funnier.

The elements of action and sci-fi function suitably well. There is enough in this area of the film to keep the audience entertained. The premise of The Watch is perfectly fine, it’s only in the execution that the film falters. The need of screenwriters Seth Rogen, Jared Stern and Evan Goldberg to give Evan in particular more of an emotional edge appears a misstep. As the humour does not always work, it can feel as if viewers are being lumbered with a serious angle without the comedy pay off.

Production values in Akvia Schaffer’s film are great. Performances from the cast are also good, although the main players never really step out of their comfort zone. Vince Vaughn plays the same kind of brash character audiences have seen from him before, while Jonah Hill does bring humour as the slightly eccentric Franklin.

The Watch works well enough not to bore or annoy viewers. However, it is unlikely to leave them begging for more. A suitable lazy afternoon film.