Tag Archives: 22 Jump Street

2017 in Review – July

“It ain’t the size that counts, asshole. It’s what you do with it.”

Brooker’s challenge to watch 365 films in 365 days takes an unexpected turn this month. An announcement from his favourite cinema had him slamming on the brakes hard at the half way point of July.

Continue reading 2017 in Review – July

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Failed Critics Podcast: Crossover Triple Bill

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In this week’s Failed Critics Podcast, it’s time for a crossover episode! Inspired by the news that 21 Jump Street and Men In Black will be merging for a new upcoming comedy, Steve Norman and Owen meet Paul Field and try to come up with some ideas for other movie characters and franchises that they would like to see crossover during the triple bill segment of the podcast.

Meanwhile, they try not to cross the streams when talking about the latest Ghostbusters trailer after its release earlier this week. We also have a wide range of movies to review! Owen takes a look at Studiocanal’s DVD release of the Stanley Milgram biopic, Experimenter, starring Peter Sarsgaard and Winona Ryder. Paul checks out Austrian horror Goodnight Mommy after the hype over the supposed “scariest trailer ever”. Elsewhere, Steve rethinks his opinion on big-dumb-action-film Battleship, but has his opinion reaffirmed on the Men In Black series.

It’s also, like, our 200th episode, or something. Apparently.

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Failed Critics Podcast: San Andreas, Tomorrowland & A Pod Virgin

san andreasDogged this past week by claims of corruption, rigged voting and overweight power mad men running the show… No, it’s not Steve and Owen here at Failed Critics!

No. It’s not even Sepp Blatter at FIFA. It’s actually our guest Tony Black, who is joining us from Black Hole Cinema. After an open and equal voting process, Tony won his opportunity to join us this week completely fairly. Owen’s new sports car and Steve’s new handbag are just mere coincidences.

The quiz this week has a slightly tongue in cheek twist as the team try to defend the FIFA backed film United Passions (don’t forget to let us know which one is your favourite!) As well as this, the team also discuss: the front runners for the role of Spider-Man in the new Marvel Cinematic Universe film; Owen watches Alpha Papa twice in a week; Tony takes a look at the Kickstarter backed short film Kung Fury; and Steve finally gets around to seeing 22 Jump Street.

And as if all of that wasn’t enough, there’s even time to squeeze in reviews of Brad Bird’s somewhat underwhelming fantasy story Tomorrowland, AND even The Rock’s new film, San Andreas, the “best disaster film since Volcano” (interpret that how you will!) makes it onto the pod.

Join us again next week as we rebuild [cue: American flag] and discuss Jason Statham’s new comedy film Spy.

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Tammy

TammyGenuinely sweet and often funny, Tammy’s problem lies not in its lack of big laughs, but in its title character.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

I’ll say this for Tammy, I really liked going to see a comedy whose primary humour is, for once, not derived from characters being cruel to one another or just plain grossness as the main source of comedy.  There’s nothing wrong with either of those things in concept, so long as the jokes are actually funny, it’s just nice to get some variety in comedies.  When one of the characters snaps and refers to Tammy (Melissa McCarthy) as “cheeseburger,” it’s played for drama instead of laughs.  There’s a legitimate sweetness running through the film, though it may poke fun at its character, it feels more like good-natured ribbing than mean-spiritedness and that makes a nice change of pace.  Know what’s also a nice change of pace?  Homosexuals being treated as people in 15-rated comedies instead of punchlines.  There’s a sequence where Tammy and her grandmother, Pearl, (Susan Sarandon) end up at Pearl’s cousin’s (Kathy Bates) house for a lesbian 4th of July party and at no point does the film make a joke about two straight women being at a party for lesbians (OK, it does so once, but it’s invoked by the characters themselves as a sweet way to establish how close they are).

I take time to bring those things up because they’re the best things Tammy has going for it.  Look, I know that this Summer, hell, this year in general, has had us drowning in comedies.  You’re probably learning to be tighter with your money (Guardians Of The Galaxy isn’t going to see itself three times, after all) and you need reasons beyond “that trailer made me chuckle at points” to turn up to a comedy nowadays.  After all, after a certain point, they do start blending into one another.  Well, Tammy’s selling point is that it’s a comedy with a legitimate heart and a sweet nature about it.  The trade-off for this USP is that giant laughs are practically non-existent.  Trust me, you will not leave Tammy clutching your sides from laughing too hard, cos I certainly didn’t, so if that is a pre-requisite for you going to see a comedy, you’re better off holding off for something else or seeing 22 Jump Street again.

That being said, Tammy is not bad and nor is it dull.  See, although that sweetness seems to have robbed the film of giant laughs (although I’m not willing to pin that wholly on the sweetness, seeing as I am pretty sure you can actually have it both ways), it trades that for consistency.  The sweet tone allows for a nice laidback feel where the actors and actresses can strike up a smooth, easy-going chemistry that enables things to be funny, even when they’re not so much.  If the actors are clearly enjoying themselves, and that enjoyment is believable without being smug, then it’s going to end up leaking out of the frame and reaching the audience, making them have a good time, too.  So when Tammy and Pearl end up discussing the time that Pearl had sex with an Allman brother (not Gregg, the “Brother” part of the band name) and then end up verbally jamming along to one of their songs together, I actually found myself chuckling along despite that on paper sounding just plain terrible.

And so it goes.  Scenes come and go where likeable actors and actresses like Allison Janney, Mark Duplass, Gary Cole and Sarah Baker appear on screen and interact with either McCarthy or Sarandon and a steady stream of chuckles keep appearing.  It all flows well, there’s good pacing, even if the actual plot itself is rather non-existent (although I’d argue that adds to the charm).  McCarthy and Sarandon are the primary reasons why this film ends up working as well as it does.  Their chemistry together is palpable, believable and almost capable enough to draw attention away from the script’s uncertainty as to who Tammy and Pearl actually are (more on that in a sec).  McCarthy, who co-wrote the script, seems desperate to prove that there’s more to her than you might have gathered from Bridesmaids, Identity Thief and The Heat and she’s very good here.  Although she seems as lost as the script as to who Tammy is, she plays the various different versions of her very well, resisting the urge to get boorish, excepting one sequence set to “Thrift Shop” that feels airlifted from a separate film, and nearly always managing to stay attached to the big heart that exists at the character’s centre.  It’s a good performance and a better script would make this the role to break her out of the type-casting she seems to have fallen into.

Because, yeah, the real problem with Tammy, the one that keeps me from making a proper recommendation to you to go and see it, is the fact that I have no idea who Tammy is supposed to be.  The script jumps about the place, making her sweet and awkward in one scene, and short-tempered and childish the next.  A bit pathetic and needy one minute, just plain dumb the next.  I feel like the film wants to make her realistic, a sweet person who takes bad news and setbacks poorly but just spends forever whining about it instead of actually trying to enact change and bettering herself, but it doesn’t pull it off.  Instead of a singular and multi-layered three-dimensional person, Tammy feels more like a series of rejected clones from Orphan Black.  One scene she’s awkwardly trying to flirt with Mark Duplass, the next she’s pathetically sleeping outside her own motel room because her grandmother was using it for sex, the next she’s childishly knocking over gas station stands because the cashier shouted at her.  Several of the various sides attempt to come together during the fast food robbery scene that’s been played in all the trailers and, whilst the scene is funny, it just serves to make Tammy feel more like somebody suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder than the ordinary girl the film wants us to see her as.  One can also apply this to Pearl, the grandmother, too and be justified in feeling that way, seeing as she feels like a conflict inciter more than a character.

That being said, I did enjoy Tammy a fair bit and I’d even go so far as to say I actually liked it.  Maybe it’s just the change of pace in seeing a comedy designed around being nice and sweet with nary a bad bone in its body for once (I did give a positive review to the similarly nice and sweet The Love Punch, after all), but I genuinely liked what this film was selling.  I may not have laughed with every fibre of my being at any point, but there was a constant stream of chuckles and smirks and snickers and maybe even a full on laugh at one or two points (not a giant laugh, just for clarification, there is a difference).  Everybody involved has great chemistry and is clearly enjoying themselves even if they aren’t saying anything funny (in less polite terms, there is a criminal wasting of Allison Janney and Sandra Oh going on here) and the whole experience is so kind-hearted and sweet that it severely dampens down the impact of the otherwise glaring problems of character inconsistency and general aimlessness.

If you’re wanting a comedy that operates at a different speed than the other ones drowning the cinema this Summer, Tammy may be your bag or what have you.  It’s not essential viewing or anything, and I practically guarantee that you won’t come away feeling like your world has been revolutionised, but catching it at a matinee or cheap somewhere would honestly not be a bad use of your time.  If nothing else, I’m hoping that Melissa McCarthy is willing to try coming back to these kinder types of roles in future.  A better script than the one featured here and I feel like she could seriously surprise the living hell out of people by proving that she’s got more depth as an actress than people may think.

Callum Petch can ring anybody’s bell and get what he wants.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

Chef

ChefChef is basically two hours of Jon Favreau working through his issues with the studio system.  Mainly because of this, it’s rather entertaining.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

Chef is Jon Favreau: The Movie.  Any pretence that this film is telling a story about characters that have no relation to the film’s writer, director and star is jettisoned the moment Dustin Hoffman swaggers in and orders Jon Favreau’s chef to cook by menu, “play [his] hits,” as it were, and that, if he doesn’t like it, there are a million other people that Dustin Hoffman could easily replace Jon Favreau with as director of the kitchen.  If not by then, then it will most certainly become clear when Jon blows up at a food critic who trashed his cooking, questioning whether he cares that the hurtful stuff he writes genuinely hurts those he writes about.  This is not subtle.  It makes the high school parallels in Divergent look like the lyrics to a They Might Be Giants song.  The film permanently seems five seconds away from actually dropping all of the pretence and having everyone just dramatize Jon Favreau’s post-Iron Man life.

One, therefore, may see Chef as a vanity project and little more, what with its extremely unsubtle real-life parallels, starring role for Favreau that lets him stretch himself beyond ‘funny comic relief guy’ and that he casts both Sofia Vergara and Scarlett Johansson as his ex-wife and possible ex-lover respectively (the latter of which outright tells Favreau’s character at one point that he’s the best chef she ever worked with).  And… well… yeah, it kinda is.  The actual character work, and characters in general, populating the film are flimsy and undercooked and, once things head to Miami, nothing ever goes wrong for Favreau ever because he is the world’s greatest chef if people will just LET HIM DO WHAT HE DOES BEST INSTEAD OF CONSTRAINING HIS CREATIVE GENIUS, DAMMIT!!  That being said, I’d recommend not writing off Chef sight unseen.  It’s nothing revolutionary, it’s nothing memorable, but it is mildly amusing, rather entertaining, nearly always interesting and, brace yourself for the big one, it’s a comedy that runs for two hours… that I can’t see cutting down to 100 minutes!

Oh, I have your attention now, do I?

Our story, then.  By the by, I’m going to dispense with much of the pretence and just straight up tell you the “subtext” cos it’s that unsubtle and it saves me time later on.  Jon Favreau is a chef, a very well-respected chef, at that, who caused a splash ten years ago as a hungry guy wanting to make a name for himself.  He’s currently employed at a big, fancy and relatively famous restaurant that’s about to get reviewed by the biggest food blogger in town and he wants to surprise the guy, cook up something original and shocking and biting and all that jazz.  The restaurant’s owner, Dustin Hoffman, thinks that’s not a good idea, being too risk-averse, and orders Favreau to cook by menu, reasoning that people who go to see The Rolling Stones want to hear them play ‘Satisfaction’.  This ends disastrously, Favreau’s heart is clearly not in it and the critic tears apart both the food, which is too safe and generic, and Favreau himself, believing him to be over-the-hill and also fat jokes cos critics are dicks.

Favreau does not take this well, with the review and Favreau’s resulting meltdown at the critic going viral.  Fired from his job for refusing to follow orders, Favreau’s ex-wife (played by Sofia Vergara) convinces him to meet her successful first ex-husband, Robert Downey Jr., and get back to basics.  Gifted a food truck, Favreau decides to take his little low budget venture on the road, making smaller products with more heart that may connect with the public more and revitalise his love for his art.  Tagging along are his son, EmJay Anthony, who doesn’t see his dad much but aspires to follow in his culinary footsteps, and his old workmate, represented here by John Leguizamo, where father and son may just bond together and learn a thing or two about a thing or two.

It’s even less subtle than that, before you ask.  A good 50-60% of Chef really is just Jon Favreau working through his frustrating studio experiences via the thinnest of metaphors.  Not that that’s a bad thing inherently, mind.  A fair bit of the film’s entertainment value comes from just how far the metaphor goes, in much the same way that 22 Jump Street’s appeal comes from just how far that film is willing to push its central joke, “we are a pointless sequel and we’re well aware of that fact.”  It also helps that the execution is rarely cringe worthy or overly blatant, the lone exceptions come during the times when Favreau meets up with the critic that wrote the nasty things about him (embodied by Oliver Platt).  Those times trot out the usual “what you say hurts me! I make art, what do you do?  Just sit behind your computer and vomit words” clichés that typically accompany artists ranting against critics.  (It’s not the heckler bit from Louie, is what I’m getting at.)  Otherwise, the execution remains interesting, it becomes a kind of fun little exercise to see Favreau working through his problems and seemingly rediscovering his love for filmmaking.

See, the film does have characters, which makes this a landmark point in Sofia Vergara’s acting career if nothing else, but they take a backseat, along with nearly everything else that’s not related to the metaphor.  Even the food stuff feels more like an extension of that metaphor instead of a total love of food, there are several scenes where Favreau explains his creative process to his son that come across far more as his creative process to filmmaking than food-making (especially when he mentions that he first goes looking for ingredients and only then decides what he’s going to cook, he doesn’t go in with a fully-formed pl-it’s a reference to the creation of Iron Man, alright).  The whole enterprise feels less like a story that Favreau wanted to tell and more like he just decided to make a film and see if it made him fall in love with filmmaking again.  Such a theory is practically confirmed when it comes time for the film’s ending to occur, which the film practically crashes into and is over before it has a chance to become satisfying.  Again, though, it is fascinating to watch, feeling relatively raw and personal instead of pretentious and whiney.

Look, I apologise for spending so long fixated on the metaphor side of Chef.  I know a lot of you will be able to get past it, or maybe not even clock onto it (although I have no idea how you would, I have seen South Park episodes with subtler allusions and metaphors), but it really does constitute the meat of the film.  Outside of it, you have the barest of plots about a father and son bonding over a shared enthusiasm (if you choose to read it like that and not, say, as the kid merely being a representative vessel for Favreau’s increasing realisation that he does still love making movies) and a very glossed over subplot of Favreau reconnecting with his ex-wife Vergara because… I actually don’t know, it’s that glossed over.  I should note that I’m not knocking the film for these things, I’m just letting you know how incidental the whole thing is.

Besides, there’s really not a whole lot to talk about with regards to the film outside of that subtext.  It’s all fine and pleasant.  There’s a runtime that’s just shy of two hours and though it feels like that at times, the film is paced well enough, and its content serves the whole metaphor point enough, to make it hard for me to find scenes to cut out to reduce that time to 90-or-so minutes.  There aren’t really any big laugh out loud moments and I guarantee that there are no jokes you’ll think back to 12 hours after seeing the film and go “that was hilarious” or some such, but the film is still funny.  It has very charming actors and actresses striking up a great enough chemistry with one another to make exchanges amusing, even if nothing particularly funny is being said.  Praise should especially go to EmJay Anthony who is not only hugely non-irritating, he’s able to keep up with Jo(h)ns Favreau and Leguizamo.  Food, meanwhile, is very often shot excellently, which is a hard thing to do right on film and television.  Not up to Hannibal standards of “mmm, that looks de-licious” but enough that I felt legitimately peckish for some high-quality grub as I left the cinema.  Also, for whatever it’s worth, I really like the film’s soul, Cuban and groove-laced soundtrack; Jon Favreau (and/or his music supervisor) has excellent taste in music.

Yes, I am stretching for stuff to talk about but there’s one last thing that deserves some conversation.  Chef loves social media.  Chef loves social media.  If social media and Chef were embodied by real life people (which the film kinda is, anyway), they would have a hopelessly romantic meet-cute, followed by a whirlwind fairy-tale romance that culminates in a magical beach-side wedding at sunset.  Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Vine, the celebrity gossip website Holy Moly!; all these and more get prominent screen time and are actually relevant to the plot, as well as being the subject of hi-larious gags about how Favreau has no idea how the Internet works (he tweets an insult at the food critic who wrote the negative review cos he thought the service worked like text messaging).  It’s equal parts toe-curlingly awkward, like when your dad posts a “selfie” of himself having a day out in Scarborough, and strangely progressive.  Like, yeah, the film does mine the expected jokes out of Favreau not knowing how social media works and his son being a whizz with it because kids today and their computermabobs, but the usage of social media is actually vital to the plot.  It ends up being utilised as a tool for good, a way for Favreau and his low-budget venture to travel around drumming up buzz and connecting with the people who matter.  It’s refreshingly free of cynicism or confused-dad-“when-I-was-YOUR-age”-ness which, if nothing else, puts it above f*cking Transcendence.  It does officially go too far when 1 Second Everyday comes up for the sole purpose of adding some feels to the finale, but get over the initial “oh, no, Dad’s trying to get down with the kids” response you will inevitably have when it comes up and it’s not actually a problem.

Chef, then, is more of an extended therapy session for Jon Favreau than it is a movie in its own standalone right.  That therapy session, though, is always interesting and frequently entertaining; it’s definitely the most personal thing Favreau has been involved in in a good decade and it’s nice to see him seemingly fall back in love with his art again.  Outside of that, there’s not much here.  There are funnier films available now, there are more heartwarming films available now, there are TV shows with better food porn on the air right now.  On the surface level, it’s a mildly entertaining way to spend two hours.  I would, however, be lying if I said that I didn’t enjoy the film for what it is under that surface.  You may too, but that depends on both your knowledge of the film industry and your tolerance for “inside-baseball” stuff.

So, with Favreau having rediscovered his passion for filmmaking by going back to his roots and delivering a deeply personal work, I look forward to seeing what he’s going to transfer that passion into next!  … …“he’s making a live-action, CG version of The Jungle Book for Disney?”  Well, in that case, either he’s a quick forgiver, or I eagerly await the spiritual successor to this in 2020!

Callum Petch saw you standing on the opposite shore.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie

Although this fact may surprise quite literally no-one, Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie is awful.  Hoo, boy, is it awful.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

DARDIS1+MRS+BROWNS+BOYS_33The continuing mega-success of Mrs. Brown’s Boys bewilders me.  It truly does.  Hell, the fact that something like it was turned into a television show in 2011 alone bewilders me.  The show feels ripped straight from the 80s, from its music to its sets to its raucous studio audience to its total lack of stakes and the like.  I hesitate to label it a throwback because I don’t think that adequately conveys just how much like a rejected 80s sitcom it is.  I also hesitate to label it a throwback because Only Fools And Horses existed in the 80s and to even so much as insinuate that the former is even close to Only Fools in quality is quite possibly the biggest insult one could throw at British comedy as a whole.

Mrs. Brown’s Boys the show, you see, is garbage.  Total and utter garbage.  For one, there are no jokes.  There are no set-ups, no punch-lines, no semblance of pacing in their construction or delivery and no intelligence in their design.  The fourth wall breaks are pointless and add nothing except a distraction, the inclusion of outtakes in the final cut of the episode only serve to kill the non-existent pacing and colour the entire enterprise as amateurish and slap-dash, and when it starts sermonising on star and writer Brendan O’Carroll’s thoughts on the world?  It’s like those “I learned something today…” parts from South Park except played completely straight and even more unbearable.  It’s aggressively unfunny and, yes before you jump in, I have seen several episodes (two full ones and snatches of other ones) so I do feel quite qualified to impart my opinion on the show.  And the show is shite.

Yet, it is popular shite, seeing as something being shite has almost never stopped it from becoming famous.  Popular enough to get a movie.  A full movie.  One that lasts 96 minutes which is just over the combined length of three episodes of the show.  One that has a reported budget of $6 million.  You know what the budget for In The Loop, the film version of The Thick Of It, was?  Just under $1 million.  So, not only did the BBC deem this worthy of a budget six times that of one of the century’s best comedy films, it’s also practically guaranteed to open with nearly twice the gross of In The Loop (£4 million).  I felt like waiting at the entrance of the nearly sold-out cinema screen prior to the movie and shouting in the face of everybody who walked in “AND JUST WHERE THE F*CK WERE YOU WHEN IN THE LOOP CAME OUT?!”  I mean, I shouldn’t be surprised, we live in a world where some enterprising young studio head deemed that the Great British public, and cinema-lovers across the world in general, were deserving of movies based around Keith Lemon and Harry Hill.  What’s one more to add to the growing pile of evidence that we, as a collective nation, considered by the rest of the world to be the finest purveyors in comedy, have officially lost all taste in humour?

As you may be able to deduce from the tone of the prior three paragraphs, I was not approaching my assignment with much in the way of hopeful positive enthusiasm.  You may, therefore, pre-emptively decide to dismiss this review outright, citing reviewer bias or baggage or some other such stuff.  I would like to refute your claims, that going in with low expectations and a less-than-sunny attitude taints my critical opinion, by calling attention to my thoughts on The Fault In Our Stars, a film that I went into expecting to actively dislike and prove resistant to; my genuine reaction upon first viewing that film’s trailer was a succinct “nope!”  Instead, it proved to be a legitimately heart-wrenching film with excellent lead performances, a film I very much liked.  Just because I was expecting nothing, doesn’t mean I can’t admit the film in question is any good.  I’m not that unprofessional.

So, with that cleared up, it is my professional and unbiased critical opinion that Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie is complete and total shit.  I went in hopeful that the 96 minutes it ran for would make it less painful than similarly total crapfest comedies I’ve recently had to sit through that ran for two hours, and was proven to be wrong about the time that O’Carroll showed up playing the single most racist Asian stereotype I have been subjected to in a good long while.  This film is appalling, a complete mess of conflicting tones, lack of jokes, regressive stereotypes, cheap production values, unearned drama and heart, and prolonged soapboxing.  It is dire and the sustained laughter that greeted most every frame by the packed audience will prove to be one of life’s greatest mysteries to me, one that shall remain unanswered even as I wither and die unloved and unmourned.

The plot, then, what little there is, concerns Agnes Brown’s (Brendan O’Carroll in case you had yet to figure out the show’s central hook) family owned market stall coming under threat from unpaid debts, scheming politicians for some reason that is never explained, and Russian gangsters for reasons that are never explained but likely boil down to ‘it’s a movie so we need an overlong and painfully unfunny action/chase scene in the last third”.  I would also accept “because foreigners are funny,’ what with all of the casual racism going about it.  Do you find Russians saying “rip off their head and sheet down their neck” a thing that is automatically hilarious?  How about that same ‘joke’ being repeated ad verbatim with no changes in set-up, delivery or design in the space of about 10 minutes?  Well, today is your lucky day because Brendan O’Carroll has made the movie villains for you!

That’s it, by the way.  That one sentence is the whole extent of the film’s plot.  The politician is in league with the Russians but they’re relegated to “Third Act Chase Scene Fodder” as the real villains are tax collectors who are seeking €3.8 million in unpaid taxes because Mrs. Brown willingly refuses to pay taxes (in the words of Joel Hodgson, “Our hero, ladies and gentlemen”).  The plot is flimsier than the ‘jokes’ that are strewn about the film; jokes so lazy that writers of Chuck Lorre sitcoms would throw them out for being so terrible (or, at least, had been edited out of their first drafts).  Hey!  Do you know The Pink Panther theme song?  Well that plays as two characters plan to sneak their way into a building.  That is the entire extent of the joke.  Ditto the Chariots Of Fire theme for when the gay stereotype son gets ready to swim the channel in an ill-fitting swimsuit (the costume is also the entire extent of the joke).  And The A-Team theme when it seems that help has arrived.  And how about ‘She’s A Lady’ by Tom Jones during the opening which show’s Mrs. Brown getting ready for her day?

“Callum,” you may now be going, “You’ve only listed one joke four times.  What others are there that suck?”  Fair enough.  Do you find a man in drag who is supposed to seem sweet suddenly swearing a giant rib-tickler?  Everyone involved in this seems to think so and it’s the film’s main stock in trade, so you’d better too.  Does a whole bunch of characters mistaking a man of Indian heritage for a Jamaican just bring you to your knees in hysterics at the mere concept?  I hope so, cos that’s the entire extent of the joke.  Do you think blind people being blind but attempting physical activities is a knee-slapper of epic proportions?  How about if they’re part of a ninja group?  In full not-at-all-racial-stereotyping ninja get-up?  And what if they were led by a guy, also played by O’Carroll, who is the single most unpleasantly racist Asian stereotype I have come across since I can’t even remember?  How racist?  His entire character, his entire character for a guy who gets at least 15 minutes of screen-time (and is possibly going to be the subject of a spin-off movie in our very unpleasant future), is that he talks like the City Wok guy from South Park but with an even more played up accent.

The flagrantly casual racism that embeds itself throughout the film infuriates me because a) it’s racist and we really should be past this by now and b) the film has a near-five minute stretch during its climax where one of its characters (the daughter, played by Jennifer Gabney) stands up and proceeds to soapbox for an unbearably long time about… stuff.  Honestly, I’m not sure what the overall point even was, which could be the most damning criticism against the whole segment, but there was one point where they specifically call out the progressive and inclusive nature of Ireland.  How it is a wonderful country that is loving and accepting of all races and creeds and sexual orientations and that we should celebrate people being people.  This, from a film that not 10 minutes prior had asked you to laugh at the return appearance of a man who speaks like Kim Jong-Il from Team America having a stroke, to laugh at a barrister who has Tourette’s and that’s funny because swearwords and nonsense, and to, during the speech no less, once again laugh at the fact that someone thought The Indian came from Jamaica.  The joke is not on the characters for finding these things funny and being terrible people for thinking so, because the characters are wonderful human beings who you’re supposed to care for, it’s on the racist stereotypes.  There is no subversive edge, no point, just “laugh at the people who dare to be born different!”  Yet it still wants to preach a message of tolerance and progressiveness despite that.

In fact, Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie is perhaps one of the most regressive films that attempts to seem progressive that I can recall seeing.  In addition to the previously mentioned casual racism, and the one-note jokes against Tourette’s sufferers and blind people, the film dares to paint a daughter’s decision to not follow in her mother’s footsteps (in this case, inheriting the running of a market stall that’s been in the Brown family for generations) as some inconceivable notion, with the inevitable wrapping up of said subplot being a heart-warming moment of true family values and bonds… despite said character never once showing a vested interest in going into the business and repeatedly stating that it’s not for her.  Meanwhile, there’s a plot-twist about a character putting her kids into care temporarily because she can’t provide for them otherwise, and it’s painted as the absolute worst thing any mother could ever do… despite the fact that it is made quite clear that the kids were better off being in care for those few weeks because the mother really couldn’t care for them.  I mean, after all, admitting that maybe you do need some help and can’t quite make it on your own is quite literally the worst thing you could ever do, right?

Anyways, back to the jokes, of which there are none and what ones there appear to be suffer from the same problems as the ones in the show: lack of set-ups, punchlines, intelligence, etc.  There’s also a really mean-spirited streak of dark humour running throughout the film.  An old person who has gone senile wanders into the street and gets hit by a bus, yet the film remains all jovial and light.  Grandad attempts to blow up a pub full of Russians but the explosives expert he hires has Parkinson’s and so blows himself up, yet the film remains all jovial and light.  A blind man in a ninja uniform accidentally runs into the street and gets hits by a vehicle, yet the film remains all you get the point.  Much of the film’s humour runs off of relatively light things, like musical cues or dragged up men swearing despite supposedly being sweet old ladies, characters mistaking things for other things or sexual single-entendre (to say that they were double-entendres would be giving them way too much credit).  To suddenly have casual racism or death brought up as light-hearted joke fodder, in a pathetic attempt to give the film edge, just feels needlessly cruel.  This is not South Park, where anything goes and nothing is off-limits, yet it sometimes acts like it is.

The fourth wall leans and breakages are poor and lazy.  In comparison to 22 Jump Street, where the fourth wall leans and lampshade hangings are worked into its DNA, it’s embarrassing.  There’s a bit where the camera keeps dramatically zooming in on Mrs. Brown until it very noticeably fake-ly breaks in a gag I am sure you have never ever seen before in anything at all ever.  Mrs. Brown’s friend Winnie, when they’re looking for ways to break into the tax organisation’s office, suggests that Agnes disguise herself as a man and the film stops dead for five seconds to make 100% certain that every single soul in the audience has gotten the joke “because Mrs. Brown is actually A MAN DRESSED AS A WOMAN!”  The inclusion of outtakes, meanwhile, are even more out of place, here.  There are three in the film and they only serve to disrupt the flow; a scene where Russians are threatening Mrs. Brown’s sons loses all of its potential threat or menace because they leave in a take where everyone starts corpsing for no apparent reason for a few seconds, whilst a scene with a receptionist has O’Carroll forget his line, improvise something stupid and then starts again so that we can do it for real.  Their inclusion makes the whole thing seem like it was thrown together by rank amateurs, especially because THERE IS A GODDAMN OUTTAKES MONTAGE OVER THE END CREDITS ANYWAY!

Performances are dreadful.  Everyone acts like there’s a studio audience just off-screen at all times, so half ham up their performance so much that Jim Carrey would think they’ve gone overboard, whilst the other half can’t act period and flatly deliver their lines with all of the interest of someone who’s been made to watch the World Paint-Drying Championships.  The most egregious offender of the former is Simon Delaney as solicitor Tom Crews (yes, that is the whole joke, and it is explained too in case you didn’t get it) who cannot make it through a single line without actively straining to find a funny way to deliver his trite dialogue, whilst the latter goes to Jennifer Gabney whose work only serves to make the soapbox segment even more insufferable.  Brendan O’Carroll at least seems to be having fun as both Mrs. Brown and Walking Racist Asian Stereotype, although I may be misinterpreting that as glee for swindling myself, and millions of other people who don’t know any better, out of their hard-earned cash.  He’s not funny, but he’s at least committed, which must count for something, I guess.

Oh, look.  I’m out of time and I didn’t get around to talking about the film’s half-assed attempt to inject some heart and drama despite giving us absolutely zero reason to give a shit about these terrible, unfunny, unentertaining characters.  Fitting, really.

Look, the nicest thing I can say about Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie is that it is not The Worst Film I Have Seen So Far This Year like I had predicted it to be back in January.  That, however, reflects more on the quality of 2014’s suckiest movies so far than it does Mrs. Brown’s Boys D’Movie.  This was utter tripe that was painful to sit through.  Actively unfunny from start to finish, a film that went out of its way to ensure that my time was being thoroughly wasted, stuffed from head to toe with the laziest and cheapest ‘gags’ imaginable, all executed with total ineptitude.  I know that humour is subjective and that one man’s Disaster Movie is another man’s Airplane!, but I am begging you to keep this from being a hit.  Please, for all that is sacred, let this one bomb.  Let it bomb and let it take the entirety of the Mrs. Brown’s Boys empire with it.  Let it take Brendan O’Carroll’s box-office and creative clout with it, because, I swear to Alanis Morissette, I refuse, I REFUSE, to be subjected to a spin-off film about the racist Asian stereotype in my far-flung future.

We used to have standards with our comedies.  Now a film where a man in drag gets his tights stuck in an escalator is going to print box office money.  Where the fuck did we go wrong?

Callum Petch lived too fast in this fantasy.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

Failed Critics Podcast: New beginnings, and the same old shambles

22 Jump StreetBetter late than never (probably), it this week’s Failed Critics Podcast! And please welcome our latest full-time member of the team… Carole Petts! In honour of this momentous occasion, James managed, with textbook precision, to do something dumb to the recording. Don’t worry though, as it only means there’s less of him this week.

And what a week? We review 22 Jump Street, discuss the latest news in Marvel’s Ant Man omnishambles, and Carole lets us know which is the bigger car crash (get it?) out of Diana and Grace of Monaco.

Join us next week for a World Cup Special (including free audio wallchart).

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