Tag Archives: Jonah Hill

The LEGO Batman Movie (2017) Movie Review by Kevan McLaughlin

LEGO BATMAN MOVIE

Director: Chris McKay
Writers: Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna
Stars: Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Zach Galifianakis, Jenny Slate, Ralph Fiennes, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Rosario Dawson

A DC movie that’s clear, fun and knows what it wants to be. Let’s hope someone’s taking notes.

But that may be slightly unfair. There are going to be massive comparisons between this blocky-Batman adventure and the forthcoming DC movies scheduled for release over the next few years. The fact that this movie can poke fun at previous incarnations of the Batman franchise (including those Joel Schumacher ones) and include cameos from Gremlins and Daleks speaks volumes. This is Warner Bros. ONLY opportunity to be so light-hearted when dealing with such revered characters as Superman, Batman et al.

The plot is… ridiculous. It’s a roaring laugh-fest with Batman/Bruce Wayne (Arnett) as a self-indulgent, brooding loner who’s one Fall Out Boy song away from becoming a full-blown Emo. The Joker (Galifianakis) is the hammiest embodiment of the character we’ve probably ever seen. He should come with a ‘Strictly-Not-Kosher’ warning. Robin (Cera) is a wide-eyed (literally in this case) needy kid who’s only missing the empty bowl when drawing comparisons with other famous orphans. And it’s all so terribly wonderful.

Bruce Wayne is doing his usual thing of obsessing about his dead parents. Understandable. But here we get to poke fun at the fact we’re quite bored of this back story. He’s living in his mansion, obsessively eating lobster thermidors and spends his free time watching romance movies. There’s a reason we don’t see him doing much else the un-Batman things in other movies. It’d be like watching James Bond assemble an IKEA flatpack. Too weird.

The Joker is devastated that Batman DOESN’T hate him. That alone is an amazing observation. Batman, in every format ever released, has never actually expressed that emotion for his enemy. He’s only ever reacted to the Clown Prince’s need for chaos. So, the Joker gives himself up for good. Seriously, he hands himself in and retires from the life of crime, accepting that without Batman as his enemy he might as well hang up his novelty BANG-flag guns.

But Batman doesn’t buy it. He’s convinced that the Joker is up to his most devious scheme yet and sets about trying to capture Superman’s Phantom Zone generator to trap him for good, reasoning that Arkham will never be able to hold him. Sound plan. Until it goes wrong.

In the meantime, Bruce accidentally adopts Dick Grayson who’s puppy dog display borders on the hilariously moronic. Dick can’t even work out that Batman and Bruce are the same person, believing that he’s been adopted by both of them.

Barbara Gordon (Dawson) along with Alfred (Fiennes) are the only two level-headed characters in Gotham, both trying to persuade the Caped Crusader that he needs help fighting crime.

The Joker is tremendous fun to watch as a homicidal maniac clown, standing in front a vigilante dressed as a bat, asking him to hate him. Credit goes to Galifianakis for his slightly whiny and desperate portrayal of the Joker, whilst retaining his lunatic dimensions.

This is the most selfish and inconsiderate version of Batman we’re ever likely to see. Will Arnett, in his funniest role since Arrested Development, is hysterical as the sulky Dark Knight.

Michael Cera is perfect as this version of Robin. Why would a teenage kid dress like a total dork, have a tiny bird as his pseudonym and live with an insane billionaire crime-fighter if he wasn’t a complete half-wit?

This is the light relief we need from all the gossip, on-set leaks, baffling announcements and horror stories we’re constantly hearing from the DCEU. Superhero movies should be fun, right?

War Dogs (2016) Movie Review by Kevan McLaughlin

WAR DOGS

Director: Todd Phillips
Writers: Stephen Chin (screenplay), Todd Phillips (screenplay)
Stars: Jonah Hill, Miles Teller, Steve Lantz

War Dogs is the incredible real life story of Efrain Diveroli and David Packouz who were supplying arms and ammunition to the US military by the time they were 19 and 23, respectively. It’s perhaps more astonishing that the film, with it’s very serious subject-matter, can actually live up to its description as a comedy/drama. This is Wall Street in the Bush administration.

The Goodfellas of gun-running.

David Packouz (Miles Teller) is in a cycle of mediocrity and failure. He’s a struggling entrepreneur and working as a masseuse when he meets his old friend Efrain (Jonah Hill) at a funeral. They reminisce about their exploits at school, getting into schemes and scrapes while high off their asses.

David learns that since they last saw each other Efrain has been doing very well supplying the military with equipment  in low-end contracts that none of the big arms dealers would concern themselves with. They’re squabbling over the pie and he feed “on the crumbs.” Efrain is savvy, fast talking and ambitious and David is in awe of him.

When David’s girlfriend Iz (Ana de Armas) tells him she’s pregnant he panics.

Efrain offers him a job but David has misgivings because of his and Iz’s stance against the war in Iraq. Efrain charms David into morally tap dancing his way around his beliefs, reasoning that someone will get rich out of this and it may as well be him. But he lies to Iz, telling her that one of his previous schemes has finally paid off and he’s secured a deal supplying linen to the army. In the middle fo all this is Kevin Pollack who plays Ralph, a devout Jew who believed it’s his responsibility to protect America and Israel by financially backing Efrain in his exploits with the military.

The boys enjoy success until David makes a mistake. Unaware of an Italian embargo on the sale of weapons to Iraq, David can’t fulfil his order for the Iraqi police, under the watchful eye of the US army. David and Efrain then smuggle the guns, unbeknownst to them, through the Triangle of Death.

They’re gaining a reputation for getting a job done when they land a $300 million contract for supplying AK-47 ammunition to the military. This is what has become to be known as the Afghan Deal.

They’re approached by the shady Henry Girard (Bradley Cooper), a legend amongst arms dealers, who can supply the ammunition to them and when Efrain enquires why he isn’t doing this deal directly the boys learn that Girard is on a government terrorist watch list. Unperturbed, David and Efrain continue with the deal leading them to Albania where stockpiles of unused guns have ammunition have been sitting in warehouses since the Cold War, waiting on unscrupulous middle-men to make arms deals.

There is, however, a huge concern. Girard hasn’t let the boys know that the ammunition is Chinese, and since America has an embargo against China any potential deal with the US government would be illegal. Efrain has an idea to re-package the bullets using a local Albanian box company. He tells the Albanians it’s necessary to re-package the ammunition because the old containers are too heavy.

Efrain’s increasingly erratic mood swings jeopardise the deal. His drug use has escalated and he’s become dangerous and paranoid. He tells David he intends to shut Girard out of the deal by buying the bullets directly from the Albanian government. When David snaps at his friend’s insanely dangerous plan Efrain retaliates by informing Girard that the opposite is true – that David is the one who intends to betray Girard.

Everything finally unravels when David and Efrain finally fall out with the latter refusing to give his friend one penny from the deal. Furthermore, the FBI arrest both David and Efrain for fraud as it’s came to the attention of the government that the boys knew about the bullets being Chinese and that they deliberately tried to conceal this. It’s revealed that it was the owner of the box factory who tipped off the US government in retaliation for not being paid.

Jonah Hill’s performance is both hilarious and disturbing. Efrain is morally ambiguous and a social chameleon.

He will say anything to get what he wants. To Ralph he acts like the staunch Jew to curry his favour, to an army general in Baghdad a devout Christian to buy more time on a gun deal. Hill has already shown his potential for brilliance in The Wolf of Wall Street  and furthers his reputation as more than a comedy performer by his portrayal of Diveroli in War Dogs.

Miles Teller’s character is, ultimately, likeable. He lies to his girlfriend about his job and the danger he’s in but it’s a sympathetic performance by Teller. He narrates throughout the film, always telling you his perspective and winning you over with reason.

Todd Phillips has not-so-much departed radically from Old School and the Hangover trilogy as incorporated his comedic background into a pretty bleak and tense set of circumstances.

It’s no mean feat, but it doesn’t exactly pay off. Scarface is oft-quoted throughout War Dogs and, with a darker tone, this film could have potentially tapped into that claustrophobic and paranoid feel. Still, it’s a very enjoyable movie with a killer soundtrack and memorable performances.