Category Archives: Comedy

Little Monsters (2019) Movie Review By Peter Pluymers

 

Little Monsters Review

Director: Abe Forsythe
Writer: Abe Forsythe
Stars: Lupita Nyong’o, Josh Gad, Alexander England

“Can we play the shooty game, Uncle David?
 I don’t want us to get in trouble, Felix.
We’ll have to play it with the sound off.”

Well, there’s always the award “Disappointment of the year”. I’m afraid this year the film “Little Monsters” will take the credits for this. I had regained confidence in the combination of horror and comedy after watching “Monster Party” and “The dead don’t die“. I’ve always had a problem with it when moviemakers mix these two genres. But these last two films managed to rekindle my enthusiasm. Well, “Little Monsters” has nipped that enthusiasm in the bud. There were some highlights in this zombie movie. But overall, I was plagued by a yawning attack and I was constantly annoyed about certain situations.

I do understand that all kinds of new perspectives have to be devised nowadays to make the zombie genre even more interesting. In “The dead don’t die” they largely succeeded in that. But that’s personal taste. Coincidentally this film used the type of humour that I like the most. In “Little Monsters” the humour was generally absent. The absurdist tone of “The dead don’t die” was traded for flat and childish humour. Believe me, the amount of irritation exceeded the allowable level several times. After 2 minutes I was already annoyed by the opening scene where Dave (Alexander England) and his girlfriend constantly yelled at each other. Just like their friends, I felt ashamed on their behalf. And that wasn’t the only time while watching this film.

First, let me list the most positive aspects. Without a doubt, there’s first and foremost the presence of Lupita Nyong’o. This Oscar winner moved me in “12 Years a slave“. And played a hair-raising role in the movie “Us“. In this movie, she’s such a ray of sunlight with that dazzling yellow dress. Probably strategically chosen so it contrasts sharply with the splattered blood. And with her ukulele and catchy version of Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off“, it seemed like I was looking at a modern Maria from “The Sound of Music“. Certainly when the entire classroom joins her with the song like a real Von Trapp family. But apart from the fact that she’s very musical and fashion-conscious in this film, you also have to admit that Lupita is simply a beautiful woman. Even if she opens her mouth in a panic and produces an uncontrolled scream with her eyes wide open, she’s still adorable. And she’s actually the funniest one in the film.

To a lesser extent, I also thought Alexander England was pretty good. This irresponsible, sometimes imbecile klutz, is quite annoying at times. But nonetheless, due to his clumsy attitude and behaviour (mainly in terms of social skills), he still manages to arouse some sympathy. I found his encounter with Miss Caroline quite endearing. That suddenly emerging urge to seduce this teacher. But then, in the next scene, you see him giving a demonstration of solo sex on the toilet while drooling over a class photo (with school teacher Carolina in it of course) of his nephew Felix (Diesel La Torraca). Would I be a teenager, I would chuckle about this. Now a raised eyebrow was the only result.

This would-be-creepy zom-com also had its charms. The clumsy way in which Dave tries to impress Miss Caroline is quite funny to see. And of course, eventually, she gives in, even though she hates Dave from the start because of his brutal and stupid remarks. And finally, there are a few very funny moments such as the Darth Vader scene and the horde of singing zombies. I got the most spontaneous smile on my face when I saw a bewildered zombie attempting to clap to the rhythm and he found out that both his arms were missing. And here and there there was a pretty good joke or one-liner.

But still. Unfortunately, the number of irritating things was overwhelming. I was relieved when this zom-com ended. First of all, I thought the zombies were extremely ridiculous. It was like a school project in which the creatures were played by fellow students. A Wednesday afternoon activity that involves a lot of fun. You can’t call it a horror, in my opinion, because of the lack of tension. The most bloody scenes always take place off-screen. This is probably due to the budget. Perhaps the much-used photo with Lupita covered in blood and those anxious-looking children in the background, raised wrong expectations for me. And as I mentioned before, the humor was missing. But mainly I was annoyed by the figure of Teddy McGiggle (Josh Gad). Such an annoying character. If I could, I would have personally fed him to those bloodthirsty undead. I know it’s an Australian indie. But to be honest, it looked really cheap (literally as figuratively). The only question I had was: “What’s a famous, talented Hollywood star like Lupita doing in this movie?“.

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The Dead Don’t Die (2019) Movie Review By Peter Pluymers

The Dead Don’t Die Review

Director: Jim Jarmusch
Writer: Jim Jarmusch
Stars: Bill Murray, Adam Driver, Tom Waits

This isn’t gonna end well.

Life is full of surprises. First of all, the location where I saw this film. I thought it was a unique experience. I watched “The dead don’t die” outdoors in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. And yes, this is something I don’t do too often. To be honest it’s the second time that I watch a film under a starry sky.

The first time, however, I guess the budget was a slight problem. The screen wasn’t exactly resistant to the wind. The result was that in “Racer and the Jailbird“, Matthias Schoenaerts looked unwillingly comical every time the wind rose. In Ljubljana, however, in addition to the perfect location namely Ljubljanski Grad (The Castle of Ljubljana), they also provided professional equipment. In short, a perfect image and sound (even with a gust of wind).

Next, I was surprised by the film itself. I’m not a fan of a mixture of comedy and horror. But, I recently saw the movie “Monster Party“. And I must say I also liked that movie. Perhaps I should, therefore, revise my opinion on this latest statement regarding humor and horror. Maybe it was also because of the type of humor that was used in “The dead don’t die“. Such a repetitive, bone-dry, absurd Monty Python-like humor. The kind of humor I’m a huge fan off. Already in the 80s, I watched TV shows such as “Monty Python’s Flying Circus“, “The Young Ones“, “Not the Nine O’Clock News” and to a lesser extent “The Muppet Show“. I’m sure there are people who don’t appreciate the “Theme song” joke. And others will be bored when a third person makes the same remark about the possibility that some wild animal had something to do with the victims in a diner. Well, that’s the humor I love.

However, if you expect a purebred zombie movie, then the disappointment will be even greater. Because this flick won’t scare you at all. Even the attempt to introduce some gore didn’t really help. The reason why the dead left their graves en masse can be called original. Perhaps it’s even a subtle environmental message for Governments. In any case, natural gas fracking causes incomprehensible phenomena to manifest themselves worldwide. For example, the movement of the earth appears to be disrupted, so the sunset is no longer correct (apparently it has something to do with the rotation of the earth). Pets and livestock suddenly disappear. And mobile phones and digital clocks no longer work. The behavior of the resurrected fellow human beings also deviates from the standard zombie behavior. This time no mindless non-living whose desire for blood and flesh is uncontrollable. No, these creatures stumble through the streets in search of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Xanax, and Snickers. Probably what occupied them just before they kicked the bucket.

It’s kind of normal and understandable to see actors such as Bill Murray and Steve Buscemi showing up in such an absurd horror-comedy. Bill Murray has such a natural appearance of a man who can’t be profoundly disturbed and who apparently always reacts soberly to situations that make average persons hyperventilate. And Buscemi’s appearance is extremely suitable for this kind of crazy movies. Bill Murray apparently also has a taste for zombie movies now. Hence his collaboration on the film “Zombieland: Double Tap“.

But I didn’t expect actors such as Adam Driver (Jedi Kylo Ren in Star Wars) and Tilda Swinton (Mason from “Snowpiercer” and The Ancient One in “Avengers: Endgame“) in this film. And yet they proved to fit perfectly one way or another. Adam Driver is a person with a neutral facial expression who looks at the situation in a relaxed manner. And Tilda Swinton took care of the most hilarious role as the mortician Zelda, who speaks with a Scottish accent and dangerously swings around with her Samurai sword just like Uma Thurman did in “Kill Bill“. And last but not least you can admire the infamous Iggy Pop. The people from the make-up department didn’t have much work on him, I guess.

Although I had lots of fun watching this film, I had to conclude that the film didn’t have a definite goal in mind. The whole is fairly frivolous and absurd. The denouement manages to surpass the absurdity in this film. I’m still surprised this was the opening film at the festival of Cannes. I think Jim Jarmusch had a very different target audience in mind. Certainly not an audience consisting of gentlemen in tuxedos and coquettish ladies dressed in evening dresses. I’m sure those who were there in Cannes will speak about “The dead don’t die” for years to come. There’s one person who benefits enormously from this grotesque film. And that is Sturgill Simpson whose song “The dead don’t die” can be heard several times. Good for him.

The Hustle (2019) Blu-Ray Review By D.M. Anderson

 

 

The Hustle Review

Director: Chris Addison
Writers: Stanley Shapiro (screenplay by), Paul Henning (screenplay by)
Starring Anne Hathaway, Rebel Wilson, Alex Sharp, Ingrid Oliver, Emma Davies, Nicholas Woodeson, Dean Norris, Timothy Simons, Rob Delaney, Tom Blake Nelson.

Holding up my screening copy of The Hustle, I asked my daughter, Natalie, “Did you wanna check this out with me? Your wife is in it.” Natalie often jokingly refers to actors she considers attractive as her ‘wife’ or ‘husband.’ In this case, it would be Anne Hathaway.

“Nah,” she replied. “I  can’t stand Rebel Wilson.” No wedding bells there, I guess.

I never found Wilson particularly funny, either, but at least in the other films I’ve seen her in, she’s been just a supporting character. In The Hustle, not-only does Wilson share top billing with Anne Hathaway, she’s essentially the main protagonist, meaning her brash brand of it’s-funny-because-I’m-fat humour is here in abundance. Fans will probably enjoy her performance; others will find it obnoxious and interminable.

The Hustle is an inferior remake of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (which was also a remake, by the way). Other than swapping genders, it doesn’t bring anything new to the table that might justify its existence. Hathaway & Wilson are no Caine & Martin, but you probably knew that already. And while there’s an occasional chuckle here and there, this is another case where all the truly laugh-out-loud moments appear in the trailer.

Hathaway can be quite funny but isn’t given much of an opportunity here, mostly playing straight-man to Wilson’s buffoonery. Speaking of which, the film often coasts on the assumption that being overweight is inherently amusing. And I suppose many people think it is. But even when she isn’t trying to milk laughs based on her size, there’s something about Wilson’s delivery and performance that feels kind-of desperate. In that respect, she’s more Chris Farley than Melissa McCarthy: Laugh with me or laugh at me, as long as you’re laughing.

I didn’t laugh much either way, not at anything Rebel Wilson says or does, anyway. Hathaway looks like she’s having fun, but the best moments belong to supporting characters, particularly Nicholas Woodeson as one of Hathaway’s con-game cohorts. As for the rest of the film, the story is completely free of surprises, its four writers unable to come up with a unique spin on a familiar tale. That might make The Hustle a reheated dish of comfort food for undemanding viewers. It still tastes like leftovers, though, including Wilson’s schtick.

What Men Want (2019) Movie Review By D.M. Anderson

What Men Want Review, A woman is boxed out by the male sports agents in her profession, but gains an unexpected edge over them when she develops the ability to hear men's thoughts.

The Good & Bad of WHAT MEN WANT

Director: Adam Shankman
Writers: Tina Gordon (screenplay by) (as Tina Gordon Chism), Peter Huyck (screenplay by)
Stars: Taraji P. Henson, Kristen Ledlow, Josh Brener, Tracy Morgan, Aldis Hodge, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Tamala Jones, Phoebe Robinson, Max Greenfield, Erykah Badu, Brian Bosworth, Auston Jon Moore, Shane Paul McGhie.

Taraji P. Henson is an interesting actress. Whether her characters are assertive or reserved, strong or vulnerable, bitchy or congenial, she regularly delivers convincing performances. And whether she’s the star, supporting character or part of an ensemble, Henson tends to stand out (in a good way). She’s even rendered bad films at-least watchable. Well, maybe not Acrimony.

It’s nice to see Henson finally getting her due as an A-lister, and What Men Want seems tailor-made for her, which is both a good and a bad thing.

It’s a good thing because this gender-switched remake of What Women Want allows her to demonstrate her considerable comedic talents as Ali Davis, an abrasive, headstrong sports agent whose sudden ability to hear all men’s thoughts turns her life upside-down. At first, she uses it to her advantage as she tries to sign a young NBA hopeful. But later, when it begins to complicate her life and relationships, Davis begins to engage in the usual self-reflection that comes with movies like this (a shift in tone Henson adapts to quite well).

It’s also a bad thing because the film itself coasts almost entirely on the performances of Henson and her co-stars. What Men Want is the working definition of formulaic. There isn’t a single character we haven’t seen before, nor one plot turn we don’t see coming from miles away, much like the original (though, as the trailers suggest, this one is far raunchier).

But that doesn’t mean the film doesn’t have some great moments, mostly thanks to the cast (Henson, in particular). After a woefully shaky opening act, the film improves considerably once Ali awakens from a blow to the head with her new ability, leading to some hilarious situations. None of it is particularly clever – or surprising – but the film is generally funny enough that one might forgive the deja vu that hangs over every scene.

Just like the original was a form-fitted vehicle to cash in on Mel Gibson’s charisma, What Men Want does likewise for Taraji P. Henson. As such, it delivers exactly as expected, though nothing more. We’ve seen it all before, but for the most part, the film is congenial, undemanding fun. However, you should probably put the kids to bed, first.

The Sisters Brothers (2018) Movie Review By Justin Aylward

The Sisters Brothers Review, In 1850s Oregon, the infamous duo of assassins, Eli and Charlie Sisters, chase a gold prospector and his unexpected ally.

Director: Jacques Audiard
Writers: Jacques Audiard (screenplay by), Thomas Bidegain (screenplay by)
Stars: John C. Reilly, Joaquin Phoenix, Jake Gyllenhaal

The western genre is largely a relic of a bygone era, but when we do see a new incarnation on our cinema screens there is much to admire. Recent films such as The Assassination of Jesse James…, 3:10 To Yuma, Bone Tomahawk, and Hell or High Water have shown how the dusty landscapes and fatalist attitudes of the Wild West are still ingredients for exceptional films.

The new film by Jacques Audiard (A Prophet, Rust and Bone) stars Joaquin Phoenix and John C. Reilly as Charlie and Eli Sisters, a ragtag gun-toting duo in 1850s Oregon. The pair, who are as much chalk and cheese as drunk and sober, are recruited by The Commodore, (Rutger Hauer) a brutish, wealthy landowner, to pursue and kill a gentle prospector named Hermann Kermit Warm (Riz Ahmed). Warm has allegedly stolen a special formula for uncovering gold and is set on keeping the riches for himself. Although Eli is unmoved by The Commodore’s sorry tale, Charlie is willing to take on the job, and the two bickering brothers set out on the trail.
Also on the trail of Hermann is a measured and erudite assassin called John Morris (Jake Gyllenhaal). Morris gets a head start over the Sisters Brothers, and keeps a diary along the way, leaving letters at each stop-off point to inform Charlie and Eli of his progress.

French director Audiard, has shown again how sometimes it is with a foreign eye that old American mores are best dissected. From Douglas Sirk with All That Heaven Allows in the 50s and Wim Wenders with his film Paris, Texas in the 80s, European directors have used their outsider prospective to parse out the diverse ways of living in America.

In The Sisters Brothers, four disparate people in conflicting pursuits – the hunter and the hunted, the gold seeker and the taskmaster – are thrown together in a tornado of incompatible desires. Despite the obvious route he takes, Charlie is emotionally adrift. He drinks to get drunk where he then empties bars and picks fights. He sleeps with as many women as he can pay for, and abuses his brother at every turn. Eli, on the other hand, knows exactly what he wants but the ties that bind him to his errant brother grow tighter around him. Charlie relishes the danger in the job, but Eli has had enough and wants to put away his gun and return home to their estranged mother.

John Morris, the dogged assassin, is locked down by his obligations. Despite all his thoughtfulness for the surroundings, he has never asked himself what he is really doing. The working life seems to be the only one he thinks exists. When he finally catches up with Hermann – who basically presents himself to Morris – he finds a young man who is thoughtful, idealistic, and bright. Hermann wants to set up a community in Texas, free from the toxicity of the broader American society. When Morris realises that Hermann is not the craven individual he was told about, he decides to accompany Hermann to San Francisco in search of gold.
Within the unfolding story are many well-crafted, cinematic elements. The cinematography by Benoit Debie captures the celestial skylines and mountainous peaks of the West Coast. Some of the scenes following Eli and Charlie on horseback as they ride through fields of hay and tall grass are exceptionally eye-catching. Audiard directs with a special confidence a foreign director in an alien genre has no right to have, but his command over the material is obvious in the multitoned moods of the film. Also, John C. Reilly stands out as a gifted and thoughtful character actor who can perform through many layers of complexity. Look at the scene where he solicits with a prostitute, although not for sex, but just to play out a harmless but heartfelt fantasy; a husband saying goodbye to a grief-stricken wife. Joaquin Phoenix proves yet again that he is perhaps the best American actor of his generation, or at least the bravest and most unpredictable. He has the great ability of the famous method actors; you never know what he will do next, but it promises to be emotional.

Throughout, the Sisters’ Brothers journey to San Francisco is fraught with turmoil and the travails of the dangerous territory. Between night-scrawling spiders, duplicitous bordello owners, and dying horses, they can’t catch a good break. Charlie is just about ready to puke his guts up once and for all, while Eli seems to be on the verge of a hopelessness he may never outlast. Eventually they cross paths with Morris and Hermann Warm, and the ties of the plot come undone in scenes that are equally tense and sad.

I will not spoil the final act of the film. But I will say that the Homerian journey ends with all the appropriate beats that the film has been orchestrating throughout its running time. In the end we have a Western as charming as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, as melancholy as Unforgiven, and as unforgettable as The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. The Sisters Brothers is the best film of its type in many years and shows much promise for the director Audiard. Let’s hope he continues to make films away from home where it’s dusty, dangerous and the gun blasts ring long into the night.

Cherokee Creek (2018) Movie Review By Gianni Damaia

Cherokee Creek Review, A bachelor party in the woods gets crashed by the ultimate party animal.

Director: Todd Jenkins
Writers: Jarrett Bigelow (original story concept), Billy Blair (original story concept)
Stars: Billy Blair, Todd Jenkins, Justin Armstrong

Horror and comedy have always gone hand in hand. Like salty and sweet, opposite flavors tend to bring vibrancy to each other. The 80’s defined a generation of film in many ways, but its footprints on the horror industry have been especially prevalent today. Craven, Romero, Carpenter each had major strides with 80’s hits in the horror genre. And today, with things like Stranger Things, people are eager to capitalize on such a pivotal nostalgia inducing era. Enter Cherokee Creek, an 80’s inspired, horror/comedy that feels like the perfect blend of Van Wilder and Friday the 13th with Bigfoot in place of Jason. To say this is a ‘wild ride’ doesn’t do Cherokee Creek enough justice. Gratuitous nudity, gore, and general depravity is customary in this genre, but Cherokee Creek manages to take all of these traits to their ultimate conclusion. In turn, I feel it is no exaggeration to claim that Cherokee Creek is the quintessential B-Horror film of this generation. It’s absurd, deranged, and occasionally fun. The unfortunate reality is that this vibe is established in spite of itself, and Cherokee Creek is often void of sympathetic characters and logic.

Cherokee Creek revolves predominantly around a night in the woods for a ragtag group of morally bankrupt friends celebrating a bachelor party. Of course, due to an elaborate introduction, we know that this celebration is bound to turn sour considering a large creature, in the vain of a Sasquatch, is lurking in these same forests.

On what I imagine to be a modest budget, the practical effects are shockingly effective. Whether used entirely for slapstick comedy or more conventional showcases of flesh and blood, the effects team manages to deliver grotesque visuals that imbue the film with vitality. If you’ve ever wanted to see a man franticly trudge through the woods holding his best friend’s dismembered hand and genitalia, congratulations! You found the perfect movie for you! The most pleasant surprise, for me, was how much of the effects work is kept prominently in frame. Todd Jenkins and his team know their ace in the hole and use it entirely to their advantage. Conversely, this may not appeal to viewers that are squeamish or faint of heart (more on that later). While Cherokee Creek certainly owes its identity to slaughterhouse 80’s films, it finds equal roots in 90’s and early 2000’s comedy. The fraternity style humor is given a lot of love when establishing relationships in Cherokee Creek. As an avid fan of That 70’s Show, I’d mark the campfire, pot brownie session as a particularly effective comedic high point in the film. The camera flicks from character to character with precision that perfectly juxtaposes the fluid ramblings showcasing each person in their descent into lack of lucidity. Bodily fluids and genitalia are discussed with an odd regularity, and improvisational performances are highlighted with an intense amount of screen time. Granted, I was not given access to the script for Cherokee Creek, but if I was a betting man, I would estimate that a majority of the film is improvised or loosely scripted to allow actors free rein. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Occasionally, Jenkins and company find genuinely entertaining beats of banter. It may not be striking your funny bone as consistently as something that may have inspired it, but Cherokee Creek is charming enough in the way it gives its actors ample time to flex, even if they aren’t always saying something of note.

Which brings me to my negatives with Cherokee Creek. The dedication this film has to its genre is commendable, but it also makes it inaccessible. In a world designed to inevitably feature characters fighting for their lives, there isn’t anyone worth rooting for in Cherokee Creek. Of course, this isn’t a comment on performances so much as it is the way these people navigate the world of the film. Side characters leave hardly any impression, the female lead is awfully hypocritical, and even the ‘heroes’ bicker over mundanities to the point of exhaustion. Not to mention the general depravity on display. In the opening minutes with our main characters, we see one of them masturbate while the other two discuss recent hook-ups. The inclusion of female characters feels particularly tone deaf in current political climates, with characters often openly commenting on their sexual appeal, and even going as far as to have two characters decide which girl they get to sleep with via a coin flip. Of course, politics is not what I’m interested in when it comes to reviewing film, but the statement is made to give clarity to my opinions on the characters. They’re hard to root for, and I can’t see any evidence in the film of arcs among them. It seems deliberate to make the audience excited for character deaths, but the bulk of the 2 hour screen time in Cherokee Creek is given to establishing relationships between the odd members of this group. Often times, we get repeated information regarding a scene that happened prior, or bizarre revelations about plot devices introduced in quick glances to give context for future events in contrived ways. This is all to say that Cherokee Creek doesn’t spend a lot of time actually building character traits so much as it spends time giving people whacky things to talk about before they’re eventually hunted. As a result, Cherokee Creek is overlong and wrought with inconsistencies in logic building to an ending that feels forced and outrageously frustrating.

As stated before, this is not an easily digestible film for anyone not accustom to the slasher genre. Cherokee Creek is gratuitous, for better or for worse, in both its drawn out comedy bits and its strikingly graphic visuals. To my knowledge, this film was banned from Amazon streaming services due to graphic content. Given the amount of blood and nudity, I am not particularly surprised by that fact. At this point in the review, I imagine an unfamiliar reader will know whether or not Cherokee Creek is for them.

Jenkins clearly invests a lot of love into Cherokee Creek, as does the rest of his cast and crew. Combing through the credits and seeing exactly how many odd jobs each person had on set (even watching the intro and outro thanking me for watching this film) genuinely made me emotional. Critically, I don’t hide that I have a lot of issues with Cherokee Creek, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that I respect the team for not only making a movie, but for making their movie. After watching, I went ahead and rented Cherokee Creek on iTunes to support the creators, and I encourage anyone reading this to do the same. Even if Cherokee Creek is not your particular cup of tea, it’s worth supporting.

Cherokee Creek features genuine moments of fun, inconsequential horror/comedy, but it’s unfortunately riddled with halfhearted motivations in place of character arcs. Jokes drag on, characters squabble about petty nonsense, and Bigfoot lurks in the darkness with little-to-no backstory. Even still, I find myself excited for Jenkin’s next work. I enjoyed my time with Cherokee Creek, more than I may have if it were in less ambitious hands. And while my scoring of the film reflects my objective opinions, I stand by my sentiment that Jenkin’s and his company are commendable for their efforts. 5.5/10