Tag Archives: Comedy

Failed Critics Podcast: The Dudleycast / Comedy Triple Bill

Ee arr, our kid. Yow wo’ believe it, but we’ve only gon’ an’ published anuva bostin’ episode! Ark at four half-soaked wallies blaberen about films an’ that in a Failed Critics Dudleycast.

Continue reading Failed Critics Podcast: The Dudleycast / Comedy Triple Bill

Swiss Army Man (DVD)

Remember back in August last year when Ubisoft announced the Nosulus Rift? It’s a VR device to be worn over the nose while playing South Park: The Fractured But Whole, which induces a noxious smell whenever your character farts. Everybody thought it was fake, at first – but it’s actually real.

How disappointed writer/director team Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert must be that this technology did not come out in time for them to make use of it with their farting-corpse comedy, Swiss Army Man.

Continue reading Swiss Army Man (DVD)

Office Christmas Party

“I once filed a sexual harassment complaint. Against myself.”

As if Bad Santa 2 wasn’t bad enough, leaving the spirit of Christmas in a back alley with its underwear around its ankles, bleeding from the anus, along comes another parasite of a movie hoping to get its jollies off at the unconscious victim its predecessor left behind.

Drunk, drugged and unlubricated, Office Christmas Party is here to have a bash at the sloppy seconds Billy Bob Thornton left behind. And wouldn’t you know, this party is a veritable ensemble gangbang that’s about to make a mess and spread its diseases all over the poor, crumpled up, whimpering Christmas spirit.

When the CEO of fictional tech firm Zenotek Carol Vanstone (Jennifer Anniston) visits her moronic, waste of space brother Clay (TJ Miller) and tries to close down his branch of the company that he’s ruining financially, him and his Chief Technical Officer, Josh (Jason Bateman), hatch a plan to throw the greatest Christmas Party ever, convince big fish IT Buyer Walter (Courtney B. Vance) to bring his business to them and save everyone’s job.

Honestly, don’t think about it too much. To give it more than a second or two’s thought is to waste valuable brain time and triple the amount of effort the “writers” put into this vile monstrosity.

I so desperately wanted this film to be good. I so desperately wanted to come out of this film having pissed myself laughing at it, struggling to breath as rapid fire gag hit rapid fire gag. But sadly, the only piss here was to be found on the trousers of the slightly tipsy guy that fell asleep three rows ahead of me who wet himself during the trailer for Star Wars.

As it was, this almost two-hour “comedy” was simply painful to watch. I saw so many people – all of whom individually I love to watch on screen and so many of whom are genuinely funny – in this shipwreck of awfulness, sinking to the bottom of the ocean of shit that is the ritual of the Christmas comedy.

I mean seriously, look at this damn poster! Look at the names on it!

office-christmas-party-poster

These people are in this shit show. Like last year’s awful Crimbo flick and every one before it, I’m positive these simple-minded fools are being tricked into appearing in these films. Because no way do I believe any of these imbeciles looked at a script that included someone 3D printing their own dick and proclaimed “I must be in this film!”. I just don’t believe it.

Honestly, at somewhere around the fifteen minute mark, as a pair of ball fondlers are hilariously knocking over a Christmas tree in a department store, I was desperately looking for a sharp candy cane around somewhere so I could light it on fire, push it through my eye and swirl it about in my brain for a bit just to make the ghastly cunt show end.

Out of 105 minutes, there was a three minute segment not set in an office full of turd chomping oxygen thieves, where Jennifer Anniston got the best lines in the film and the one and only laugh I got from the entire run time. She gets a scene all of her very own and throws a tirade of beautiful abuse at some little shit in an airport. Not amazing, but worth a chuckle.

What makes this worse – because it does get worse – before this diseased fanny of a film even started, we were subjected to a trailer for a third Christmas comedy for 2016. A THIRD FUCKING FILM. Hasn’t 2016 been bad enough already? We are getting three dreadful, hateful Christmas comedies in a year? I need that like I need a staff infection in my left testicle.

Please god, let this year pass without anymore films that leave me violated, because like the tattered body of my Christmas spirit, this dumpster fire of a movie has left me feeling like someone has banged a sandpaper wrapped traffic cone up my arse – and then asked me to fucking pay for it!

If I never see another ensemble comedy, filled with desperately overpaid donkey fondlers paying back the favours they were done over the year, pretending to celebrate this most meaningless of commercial celebrations again, it’ll be far too soon.

Do yourselves a favour: To get the same experience I got for half the mental anguish, give microwaving your own shit a go.

Or drunkenly shaving your nuts with a rusty razor.

Or perhaps try tattooing your own taint with a hot biro.

Anything to stop these fucking atrocious vaginal-secretions making money every bloody holiday season!

Moana

moana

“Don’t you want to be the hero?”

As much as it may force me to sacrifice one of my man cards (I’m a massive, tattooed, bearded, former cage fighter; I can spare a couple), I can’t help but love Disney animated films. I adored Zootropolis earlier in the year. Not because it tries to cure all forms of xenophobia with a cute bunny, but because it was a fun film to watch. To spend a couple of hours every other week for a couple of months watching it in the cinema with my three year old was an awesome way to spend my Saturday mornings.

It’s also the only film this year who’s cinema trips comes close to the number of times I saw Deadpool.

So now the House of Mouse have squeezed in a second feature for the year, screwing up my favourite animations list for the upcoming Failed Critics awards and, possibly, thrown a wrench in the works for certain other upcoming rewards.

Moana is the strong headed teenage daughter of a tribal chief on a Polynesian island. Having discovered “The Heart of Te Fiti” as a toddler on the beach, Moana finds herself as the one person, chosen by the ocean itself, whose destiny is to travel across the seas to find a long missing demigod, Maui (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). Foregoing the responsibilities of being a future chief, the young girl follows what she believes is her destiny and heads out to the open ocean to find the shapeshifting god that can save her tribe’s island from dying.

But her travels aren’t easy, and even once she’s found the banished god amongst men, the journey to return the Heart to its rightful place is wrought with danger and the unlikely pair must learn to work together so Moana can save her people and Maui can be the hero he wants to be.

First things first. I went to see this film having read more than one review that said the Maui’s musical number “You’re Welcome” is a song to rival “Friend Like Me” from 1993’s Aladdin. I’ll be honest, this put my back up a little bit and I rolled into the screening already on the defensive. Between being my favourite animated movie ever, and having a real personal and emotional connection with almost all of Robin Williams’ comedy works, I was ready to tear this film apart.

But I can’t. It’s just amazing.

No, the song doesn’t compare with Williams’ musical numbers. But Johnson’s Maui (not Maui’s Johnson – that’s the Brazzers XXX parody you’re looking for) is easily the best sidekick SINCE the Genie.

Another strong female character for Disney, Moana is immensely fun to watch and cheer for. She’s not infallible and she’s not the smartest kid on the block, but to watch her grow up in front of us is awesome. She grows from simply being a hotheaded kid to someone who doesn’t just get done what she needs to get done, but learns about herself, her path and her destiny along the way. Guided by not much more than her gut and her determination, to see this youngster succeed is an absolute pleasure.

Like the Genie before him, Maui – and his tattoos – steal the show. This cocky, arrogant, cheeky demigod is simply The Rock’s personality transplanted to the magical hero. Maui is what drives the story forward. Painted like a bad guy by Moana’s tribe, when we finally meet him and his story is revealed, we get to see the big man – this God on Earth – as a humbled hero looking to prove himself not just to the world, but to himself as well. You can only get so far on confidence alone and we see Maui grow almost as much as we see Moana. I mean, there’s almost certainly some dry-humping do-gooder out there complaining that the representation of the demigod plays to overweight Samoan stereotypes, but screw those guys. He looks cool!

Maui’s history is told through his tattoos, a gorgeous traditional Polynesian design that the hero talks to. Marked by the gods every time he does something to earn one, his ink is a storyboard of his life that includes more than one depiction of the man himself. It’s this silhouette that Maui talks to, argues with, and he brings a huge amount of laughs with his relationship with his tattooed self. The pokes, prods and insults that our hero suffers at the hands of his tattoos are an absolute show stealer.

The bottom line, Moana isn’t a film with as strong and serious an undercurrent as Zootropolis. But it is a story with a point. It’s a story about a strong woman proving she’s strong. It’s a story about a strong headed woman pushing back against a culture that tries to stifle her. More than anything else, it’s a fun, feel good family adventure with laughs aplenty for kids and adults alike.

It’s an exhilarating 100 minutes that I’m genuinely looking forward to sharing with the wife and kid once it hits general release. I dare you to give me a better measure of a movie than one you’re excited to share with the family.

Moana is released in cinemas nationwide on Friday 2nd December.

Bad Santa 2

“It’s just a semi, don’t get so bent out of shape.”

Remember Bad Santa? I mean REALLY remember it? Because I remember it being one of those really wrong comedies that had me in stitches back in 2003. But that was the last time I watched it. So I thought I’d give the original a second pass last night before I saw its sequel.

Man that film has not aged well. An hour and a half of awfulness is the only way I can describe it. Absolute shite of the highest order that only managed to elicit a couple of mild chuckles out of me.

That didn’t leave me in the best frame of mind for the sequel, I can tell you.

Some 13 years after the events of the first film, we find Willie Soke (Billy Bob Thornton) exactly where we left him: drunk in Phoenix, Arizona, with no prospects, no friends and failing miserably to kill himself when the oven he sticks his head in turns out to be electric! When the now 21 year old Thurman Merman appears at Willie’s apartment with an invite to Chicago for a job – and an obsession that’s only grown for the drunk Santa impersonating bank thief in the decade and a half since they met – it’s Christmas in the Windy City for Soke, reunited with his pint-sized partner Marcus (Tony Cox).

A family reunion awaits Willie in Chi Town as his equally crooked mum Sunny (Kathy Bates) meets him at his destination and lays out a plan to rob a kids charity during their Christmas Concert.

IT’S FUCKING NOVEMBER!!! Seriously! I’m watching Christmas comedies in November! Whoever scheduled this release needs to be strapped to every Christmas tree that’s put up this month and left to burn with them. IT’S FUCKING NOVEMBER!

Now that’s out of my system…

I’m not sure of the purpose of this film? It’s not like the world has been crying out for Billy Bob Thornton’s least likeable screen character – yes, I’m including the arsehole from Monster’s Ball – and I’m sure we’ve exhausted all the midget jokes there are to use. So what the Hell is the point of this movie?

Let me tell you, after ninety minutes and only a few genuine laughs, I can tell you that this review doesn’t have the answer you’re looking for. I just don’t know.

Bad Santa 2 doesn’t do anything different from the original; and maybe this is its biggest problem. On a second watch, the first film does not hold up against any measuring stick you wish to use. It’s an unfunny mess of a film that can’t skate through on its cut-close-to-the-quick, politically-incorrect comedy. Not because I’m some easily offended buffoon that thinks everyone needs a safe space, but because the jokes simply aren’t funny.

This misguided attempt at raking in Christmas movie money falls for the same problem for the most part, although where the original can be chalked up to a badly aged film, the sequel has absolutely no excuse for its lazy hack job script that attempts to offend anyone. It only really succeeds in getting under my skin because I took time out of my day to watch it.

I mean, Billy Bob must be kinda desperate for cash to do this. It’s possibly his most memorable character (except for the suit from Armageddon). I will never understand why Kathy Bates is doing the awful nonsense she keeps appearing in now. Between this, Tammy and The Boss over the last couple of years, I’m starting to fall out of love with the veteran, OSCAR WINNING actress. While she gets the best of the jokes and her delivery is the only thing that dragged laughs out of me for the most part, I can’t say the same thing for Christina Hendricks. A woman who’s had some amazing roles in the past, has been dragged into this monstrosity to be the replacement for Gilmore Girl Lauren Graham as the stock romantic interest. And honestly, I’m disgusted for her, if she isn’t already for herself. Brought in only so Thornton can deliver a “I’m not into that romantic mushy stuff” joke telling her she has big tits! An awesome talent, wasted because someone wanted to make a boob joke? For fuck’s sake.

As 2016 begins to wrap up, it never stops reminding us just how fucking pitiful a year it has been for films. As we roll into Oscar-bait season, we can only hope and pray that this unwashed nutsack of a film is forgotten as quickly as its predecessor; and hopefully the world will have ended before someone greenlights Bad Santa 3: Santa Harder.

IT’S FUCKING NOVEMBER!

Field & Mullinger’s Underground Nights: The Comedians Guide to Survival

ugn-logo-itunes

Welcome to this special episode of Field and Mullinger’s Underground Nights all about the brand new comedy film The Comedian’s Guide to Survival, the semi-biographical story of James Mullinger.

Written and directed by Mark Murphy, featuring The Inbetweener‘s star James Buckley as Underground Nights’s co-host Mullinger, Comedian’s Guide follows the trials and tribulations of a hapless pant-wetting stand-up juggling his dreams with paying the bills as a magazine writer.

In this hour-long podcast, Mullinger chats with Paul Field about how true to life the film’s depiction is, how the movie came about, as well as some reminiscing about life as a journalist for GQ and nights in comedy clubs.

The Comedian’s Guide to Survival is released in cinemas nationwide on Friday 28 October 2016. Follow on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date with all the latest news.

Support the podcast by streaming the podcast from our hosts Acast, subscribing on iTunes and leaving us a review and rating, and sharing this page with all of your friends – and some people who aren’t your friends too, just for good measure.

The Comedian’s Guide to Survival

comedians-guide

“I’m not even on stage and I’m getting heckled.”

Imagine you’re heading into the office in the morning. Heading towards your desk, coffee in hand, when for the fourth time that week, you’re reminded not to piss on yourself at work. If you’re anything like me, you’ve quit that job as soon as the first trickle hit your thighs. You certainly haven’t made it such a regular enough occurrence that colleagues feel the need to drill into you that urine on your jeans is simply not the way to go.

While you or I might quit and take solace in a darkened corner hoping for the ground to open up and swallow you whole, that’s not how veteran stand-up comedian James Mullinger rolls.

Maybe he’s got less pride than me or you? Maybe he likes the feel of warm urine leaking into his socks? Or maybe, if semi-biographical comedy The Comedian’s Guide to Survival is to be believed, it’s just that a shoe filled with warm asparagus scented fluid isn’t even close to the worst thing that happen to James Mullinger on his journey to become a stand-up comedian.

Stuck at a career impasse, magazine writer James Mullinger (The Inbetweeners star James Buckley) has aspirations to be a stand up comedian. And he would be able to do it, except for one rather large problem: he sucks harder than one of them toothless £1.50 cum-buckets you can smell coming down Catford High Street. Oh, and he pisses his pants on stage.

Failing to balance a job he’s beginning to loathe with countless hours on the road, urinating on pub stages, and spending time with his wife and kids; James is fast coming to a point where something has to give.

The writer’s abusive twat-bag boss (the equal parts sublime and hilarious Paul Kaye) gives him an ultimatum: take a promotion to deputy editor but drop the dreams of making people laugh, or lose his job and try and live on the pittance bar room comedy pays.

It seems the difficult decisions are being made for him. If having his dreams shat on isn’t bad enough, his dick-breath editor sends the down-trodden writer half way around the world to interview some of his comedy heroes and cover Montreal’s Just for Laughs comedy festival.

One way or another, James is going to have to take control of his own destiny and decide what he wants to do with his life. Only once he hits several feet below rock bottom does his path become clear.

Biographical comedies are a tough sell. You’ve got to make someone’s story interesting enough to watch, but make it funny as well. This can only have been made more difficult for a stand-up comedian as the audience will be expecting side-splitting, laugh out loud funny from start to finish. Of course, the early gigs where everything is going laughably bad are easier to win the viewer on side, but the tricky part is saving a little for when all is going well in the life of Mullinger.

For a barrel-scraping hobby writer like myself, the mere thought of having to do that is giving me heart palpitations, but the man himself, writer James Mullinger along with co-writer and director Mark Murphy, have not only pulled off the great comedy balance, but managed to squeeze a little soul into the film that I really didn’t expect.

James trudging through the bar and pub comedy scene is a depressing little look into the lives of all those stand-ups that have told us stories of their early days. The fourth wall is broken to regale us with stories of journeys with people he couldn’t stand, running for busses and trains, and of nothing ever really going right. At the point that our protagonist gives in, going about his regular writing job, trying to move on with the 9-5 life, you truly feel sorry for this man who can’t catch a break. You can’t even find it in yourself to will him to keep going. The poor bastard is done.

And you really feel it when a line of the man’s heroes, in a string of “as Himself” credits from the likes of Omid Djalili, Mike Wilmot and Gilbert Gottfried, tell him to give it up repeatedly, brutally and painfully.

Conversely, The Comedians Guide to Survival is a real joy to watch. Particularly after the turning point in the film as a sense of purpose and a new found confidence washes over Mullinger. It’s almost humbling to watch – which says just as much about the direction and Buckley’s performance as it does about the writing.

It’s not all plain sailing. I do have one minor complaint about the film and it’s simply this; while I appreciate seeing Mullinger’s story on the screen, I would have liked to have seen a little more of the darker, behind the scenes stuff that the comedy scene can be known for. I only say this because it seems like the film should be telling me the whole story. This rings especially true when your film features Brendon Burns; a man who has very prominently, very loudly and very bluntly spoken about the comedy scene in the past. I just would have liked to have seen it explored a little more.

But this isn’t a deal breaker by any means. Comedians Guide doesn’t suffer without this aspect, it’s more a personal preference and I wouldn’t expect everyone that watches this laugh-out-loud comedy to come out wanting it.

What I would expect for everyone that sees the film is to see a big old smile on their face. The Comedian’s Guide to Survival is a comedy with a steady stream of chuckles right from the start that gradually builds into some brilliantly delivered laughs. It will have you pissing in your pants (not literally, James) and at the same time rooting for our hero the whole time. There are even some unexpected moments that had me wanting to reach in and give the guy a hug.

As the credits roll, you will find yourself with a massive involuntary grin on your Chevy Chase. Just remember who told you how much you were going to enjoy this cool little comedy.

The Comedians Guide to Survival is released in UK cinemas nationwide on 28 October 2016

War on Everyone

“Whose money? Our money.”

I tell you what this year has been missing: a good black comedy. We’ve had a never ending conveyor belt of churned out shit when it comes to comedy in 2016 (and 2015, and 2014) but while some of those might have been worth a laugh or two, none have really done anything worth talking about. Until now.

And if the negative reaction of the majority is anything to go by, the latest from director John Michael McDonagh – the man responsible for excellent jet-black comedies The Guard and Calvary – is his most rude and most offensive yet. Whether or not this is a good thing, is completely up to you.

Holding the world by the balls, less-than-completely-honest cops Terry (Alexander Skarsgård) and Bob (Michael Peña) have it made. Getting through life on a steady stream of bribery, blackmail and general crookedness, the guys live the life of Riley. Seemingly uncaring when it comes to their jobs and the list of complaints against them, the lads are happy to dance down a very fine line between good guys and bad as they fleece every criminal that they trip across.

But things take a nasty turn when the pair come across someone worse than than them: James Mangen (Theo James). A phoney looking “lord” who has all ten of his filthy fingers jammed deep into some even filthier pies. When the dirty cops try to man handle the career criminal into his latest big bag of stolen cash, the Brit takes it upon himself to makes the policemen’s lives hell!

Now, you might think that me telling you this is a comedy means that you’re in for some light hearted buddy cop bullshit that desperately imitates classics like Lethal Weapon hoping to garner a laugh or two and create themselves an audience with silly pop culture references and self referential crap. Much like we’ve had for a scary portion of this year – and last. But you’d be mistaken.

In fact, I’m not entirely sure this film, or its creators, cares if it has an audience such is its brazen attempt to offend pretty much everybody in its short 98 minutes.

And that is this film’s beauty. While it’s busy pissing off absolutely everyone – the reactions I saw online after the screening was done were nothing short of hilarious – I was sat, red faced, struggling to catch my breath as I laughed constantly from the opening vehicular assault on a mime (“I wonder if you hit a mime, if it makes a noise”) to the closing credits hinting at previous laugh out loud jizz jokes. While others were grimacing at possibly the most non-politically correct jokes to be put on screen in a couple of years, I was in absolute bits, with tears rolling down my face.

Story-wise, I can’t say the quality is as good as the comedy. The flimsy, paper-thin plot revolves more around Terry’s stereotypical loner drunk trying to force himself a family to imitate his equally stereotypical partner Bob – a family man who treats the drunk like his brother – than it does the actual bad guy and the partners’ attempt to extort him. While it’s not difficult to follow what passes for a story here, to try would be a waste of time. It makes absolutely no sense and seems almost scattershot in its execution.

It’s nowhere near as nonsensical as Killer Bitch, but it is all over the shop. The cool part is, that it doesn’t really matter, you’re too busy laughing at the latest bit of hell-worthy racism that’s gonna keep you feeling guilty for laughing at it for ages.

Peña and Skarsgård have amazing chemistry together, and their buddy-buddy routine is a real thing of beauty. Not since Riggs and Murtaugh have an unlikely looking pair of friends had such a great onscreen presence. Having seen his previous work, I’m sure that director John Michael McDonagh got exactly what he wanted out of his American debut, whether or not everyone was happy with the result.

To try and see this as anything but a blacker than black comedy in the spirit of films like In Bruges would be futile. But for me to try and recommend it to anyone, considering the overwhelmingly negative reaction it’s gotten would possibly be just as silly an idea. So I’ll leave it at this: War on Everyone is one of the most grossly offensive comedies I’ve seen in a while. I loved every single racist, sexist, and whatever other “ist” you can think of minute of it, but it definitely won’t be for everyone.

David Brent: Life on the Road

“A great time. The time of my life.”

Somewhere around the forty-minute mark of the latest television show to get a big screen adaptation, I wondered to myself “maybe Ricky Gervais is being a little self-referential. Maybe he’s being a little self-deprecating. Maybe this sad, pathetic, bumbling dickhead on screen is supposed to be some kind of metaphor for Gervais and his career.”

Then, I realised that Gervais isn’t clever enough to think of making a film that intelligent.

Long made redundant from the job that made him famous, David Brent is back in front of the documentary cameras as he tries desperately to fulfil his dream of being a rock star and not a bottom rung rep for a toiletries peddler.

Gathering together a band and planning a massive tour of Berkshire, Brent finds himself struggling with empty clubs; militant band members and trying desperately to look good for the cameras as the world falls apart around him.

David Brent: Life on the Road is not a good film. It’s not even a watchable film. In fact, the only reason I didn’t walk out half way through Ab Fab style was because I had another film to watch directly after the screening and I had no intention of hanging around in the lobby of Cineworld for an hour looking like a complete loser. While the idea of killing some time, banging one out in the disabled loos certainly appealed more than the idea of sitting to the end of this utterly self serving bag of shit; the thought of going into my next film red-faced and sweaty didn’t really sound like a viable option.

Never before has a show had such little need of a movie to follow it on. Never before has it been so apparent that a star/writer/director is doing something because the money dried up and it was either this, or start selling Daz and Cillit Bang to the pathetic inbreds watching Jeremy Kyle on a weekday morning.

I am flabbergasted that there seems to be a market for his film. What might seem appealing in the short episode of The Office simply doesn’t work in an extended amount of time. Everything from the casual racism, that in a better film or a good bit of tele would elicit a gasp and a “you can’t say that” as you guiltily giggle at it, feels nothing but offensive in the worst possible way as you haven’t laughed once up to the point that Native Americans, black and even disabled people are ribbed in a “look at how edgy I can be” kinda way. To the terrible songs that are purposely written to be hilariously bad, but forgot the hilarious part.

The hour and a half runtime seems far too long as we see Brent clumsily claw at his dignity in documentary form, like one of those awful misery porn shows that Channel 4 like to advertise as real life television. Watching him scrabble for the limelight and embarrass his band mates – who have, for what it’s worth, spent the entire time bitching about the guy like old women over fences – is just a little sad and very embarrassing.

After a little while, you get the feeling that you’re watching the escapades of “Ricky: the little boy that could” as this simpleton seems to be aiming for nothing but a participation trophy. Not helped one little bit by the turn of the entire cast from hating Brent and his bullshit to saccharinely falling for his boyish charms and daft demeanour with a “aww, he’s lovely really” kinda vibe towards the end. Utter, utter bollocks.

Gervais’ trademark – if you insist on calling it that – style, is obviously aimed at those that enjoyed watching him in his ghastly TV show, or any of his stand-up sets or movies since it finished. Seeing as I wasn’t the intended audience for this film, and the fact that I find the guy to be a charmless cretin with all the comedic chops of a bag of chilled AIDS; it’s no surprise that I spent most of my time in the film hoping for some kind of act of terrorism in the heart of sunny Milton Keynes just to end my suffering for me.

Ghostbusters

“Welcome to the good old days of New York.”

I’ve just walked out of my local cinema in one piece. I survived the latest trip to my local Cineworld thinking that this might be my final act. For the last few months we’ve been bombarded with basement dwelling imbeciles trying to convince us that the remake/reboot/reimagining of bonafide 80’s classic Ghostbusters was going to ruin our childhoods, destroy the ozone, melt the polar ice caps and bring about the apocalypse with its evil plan to replace all the ghostbusters with ladies. With lady parts. Who have the audacity to have boobs, and lady periods, and god knows what else. Leg wax perhaps?

This isn’t to say I went in hopeful. It is a remake after all, and if there’s something I really crave with my cinema going, it’s something original. But… Well, you gotta try everything haven’t you?

Years after going their own separate ways, paranormal investigators Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) and Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) find themselves working together again. Joined by nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon), the team soon find themselves digging around haunted houses and God-knows-what as reports of ghost sightings around the city of New York need looking into. When subway worker and local historian Patty Tolan (Leslie Jones) gets the shock of her life coming face to face with a ghost in the tunnels under the city, she quickly joins the girl ghoul hunters and the four become the Ghostbusters.

Wouldn’t you just know it? Turns out that the increased ghost sightings have been done on purpose. Someone is out to release generations of angry, trapped spirits, and with them begin an apocalypse. With the world against them, the team must spring into action and stop the maleficent ghosts and the end of the world.

Let’s get this out of the way early. It’s ok to be a bit hesitant about this film. A 50/50 reboot/remake of Ghostbusters was never going to garner much in the way of good vibes. It’s not ok, however, to act like an entitled, selfish, sexist asshat about it. Watch it, don’t watch it, I don’t care. Just don’t be a dick about it.

Now that’s out of the way, a little positivity.

Ghostbusters is great. It’s more than great, I loved every second spent watching it and I can’t wait to go watch it again. That’s not to say it’s perfect, of course it’s not. But it’s absolutely worth your time, in my humble opinion.

Paul Feig, the guy behind films like The Heat and Bridesmaids has modernised this classic and given new life to it; in turn bringing a few of the best comedic actors – of any gender – into the limelight and letting them have a bit of fun with the characters they are playing.

The originals had a real sense of fun and adventure in them. Their tone was never serious and still gets laughs out of me to this day. This lovely little reimagining of their story keeps all of those feelings there for you. You never feel like you’re not having a ton of fun, and it even manages to whip up a surprise or two along the way; for both us and for the New York natives hunting beasties.

The beauty of this film lies in the chemistry of its stars. In absolutely no time at all, the leading ladies have gelled together not only as a fresh-faced ghostbusting team, but as an awesome little comedy troupe. With a steady stream of one-liners and physical gags that hit the mark almost every time, it’s evident in every scene that our new ghostbusters are having a great time in front of the camera.

Maybe my favourite part though, is how no one thought it necessary to have analogue representations of the previous team. There’s no lady Peter Venkman, there’s no female Egon. All of the previous characters’ traits are represented (more or less) but there’s no one person filling each role; and considering how easy it would have been to have a selection of carbon copies, that’s possibly the bit that impresses me the most.

In fact, Jones’ Patty Tolan is the closest to a direct comparison there is, being the non-scientist of the group and more or less tripping into the job; she’s almost the mirror image of Ernie Hudson’s Winston Zedmore. But even then, as the historian of the group, she definitely shows more purpose than the classic character in it for “the steady paycheck”. Also getting the gender reversal treatment is the Ghostbusters’ receptionist; out is Annie Potts’ feisty Janine and in is the gorgeous but dumbass Kevin Beckman, with Chris Hemsworth having a whale of a time in the role.

And I tell you, considering how much of a fan of her I am, I was surprised to see the awesome Melissa McCarthy upstaged and out-laughed at almost every step by the little known – at least here in the UK – Kate McKinnon. Her Holtzmann is laugh-a-minute brilliance that will get her an army of insta-fans with her role here. Me included.

If we can step away from the controversial stars for a few minutes though, I’d love to chat a bit about the film.

I would comfortably say that Ghostbusters is probably the most well put together and well-paced comedy I’ve seen in quite some time. Feig’s films – as I’ve said plenty of times before – have been pretty hit and miss for me and his pacing is definitely one of his biggest problems. He doesn’t always know what to keep and what to cut; something very obvious with this film. With four Saturday Night Live improvisation specialists in your bill, there’s going to be times when you have to cut something you love to help the pacing.

Luckily, this time around, the comedy hits the right notes so frequently that you don’t feel the film sagging and you can happily enjoy your two hours without so much as a boring scene or a bit of dead air. In a twist from the usual “all the best bits are in the ads”, somehow, we got all the worst bits in the marketing leading up to the film’s release. The flat jokes aren’t any better in the film, the jokes that fall on their face in the trailers still fall on their face in the film, but they’re 90 seconds of gags in a two-hour movie. If ever there was a great example of why you shouldn’t judge a film on its trailers, Ghostbusters is it.

Of course, you can’t have a ghost film without a few ghosts, and here’s where I had a bit of a tough time. The ghosts look great, they really do. They’re beautifully detailed and once you’ve gotten used to them, they’re a great addition to the film. Unfortunately, and I am very aware this is just how I saw it, they reminded me far too much of the awful spooks in the even worse The Haunted Mansion; not a good film to be bringing into the minds of your audience when you’re trying to get them to enjoy your flick!

But, they do fit into the film nicely. Their aesthetic is eventually important to the film and you know what? If I have to reach for the style of ghosts you chose for your film in order to drag out a negative, you ain’t doing that bad a job.

Is Ghostbusters perfect? No, of course it’s not. It’s a sci-fi action comedy about ghost hunting in New York. But it’s a barrel of fun. There’s never a dull moment, even in the early half hour while the film finds its footing and you’re not sure if this is going to work. But with enough cameos to embarrass your average Kevin Smith production and a solid job done by everyone on both sides of the camera, in Ghostbusters we have the year’s first proper summer blockbuster. I can’t wait to watch it again.

Now You See Me 2

“I hope you’ve been watching closely.”

In 2013, The Transporter director Louis Leterrier brought a little ensemble heist caper to the screen with Now You See Me. With aspirations to be the next Ocean’s Eleven, the film added a cool magical element to spice things up a little from the norm and hopefully make it stand out from the crowd. Sadly, the film set up well, went in a good direction but ultimately shot it’s load early, leaving a limp and disappointing ending.

So of course, we needed a sequel.

A year after successfully escaping the FBI and convincing the world that one of them is dead, the Four Horsemen are itching to get back into the limelight. Our heroic magicians, playing out their own Robin Hood story are finally handed their latest mission by the secret society that they are a part of, The Eye.

When their latest series of tricks set to expose and embarrass another upstanding asshole goes horribly wrong, The Horsemen find themselves the targets; not just of the local law enforcement agencies, but from a faceless voice who has a job for them. Foiling their escape and dropping the magicians off in Macau, the owner of the voice reveals himself to be technology prodigy Walter Maybry; a man with a somewhat personal issue with the wand waving band of thieves. Having been sent off to steal a super computer chip, the Horsemen must find a way to pull off their heist, expose the psychotic tech genius and keep themselves alive and out of a cell.

*Almost* the whole gang is here. Jessie Eisenberg’s Danny Atlas, Dave Franco’s Jack Wilder and Woody Harrelson’s Merrit McKinney all return as the Horsemen, led by – SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE FIRST FILM – Mark Ruffalo’s Dylan Shrike. Out for the sequel are Isla Fisher and director Leterrier. In are replacement Horsewoman? Horselady? Lizzie Caplin as Lulu; new director John M. Chu (the man behind such hits as Step Up 2 and GI Joe: Retaliation) and shiny new bad guy Daniel Radcliffe as Walter Maybry.

The film plays more or less the same beats as the sequel to the film the original was copying. That is to say, we are sitting down to watch a magical Ocean’s Twelve. With a little added stupidity.

Maybry has dragged the illusion loving tea leaves into his diabolical little plot because they messed with him and his interests in the first film. He’s also recruited McKinney’s twin brother Chase, who is basically Woody Harrelson, with Matthew McConaughey’s worst, most permed, romcom hair and an awful soul patch. As the story twists, turns and appears to unravel in front of you; nothing is as it seems as we build towards our big reveal.

Sadly, the sequel has the same pitfalls as the first. There are some really good ideas, some interesting set pieces and I am really liking the slightly more comedic tone the film takes. And I’ll be honest, the trailer for this film has had me intrigued for a little while. Specifically, I wanted to know what the hell – the unusually bearable – Jessie Eisenberg was doing in the rain and the context to the whole thing. I’ve got to say, it’s probably one of the coolest scenes I’ve seen recently. But I won’t ruin anything, mainly because it’s part of the third act but it is a butt load of fun to watch. Equally excellent is the team’s effort to steal the computer chip central to this whole story. A five minute long, beautifully choreographed set piece that had me enthralled the entire time.

If only the rest of the film was as good as these scenes.

For a heist movie, it’s clever, it’s a bit of fun and for the most part it’s a decent film. I’d even call it a good old romp. But like its predecessor, it leads to a damp squib of an ending that is far too convoluted for its own good and drags on for far too long. If you liked the first one, even a little bit, I’d recommend Now You See Me 2. But it doesn’t break any new ground. If you didn’t like the first, this wont do anything to change your mind.

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

absolutely-fabulous

“You lit it, now it’s a cigarette.”

There are days when I wish I could write for a living. I love it. Sharing my opinion of films I watch, or games I play, or books I– Nope, none of that intellectual nonsense; it’s a passion of mine. And whether you agree with me or not, I love to chat about films with everyone – just see me talking over our esteemed leader when Hellraiser came up on last week’s podcast.

But then there are days when I am glad I don’t do this as my job. Today is one of those days. If this was how I paid my bills, no way would I have been allowed to walk out of a film for the first time in years when I discovered just how much I fucking hated the Absolutely Fabulous movie.

Stuck in their 90’s heyday and finding themselves increasingly irrelevant in modern London, PR agent Edina (Jennifer Saunders) and magazine editor Patsy (Joanna Lumley) make a last ditch attempt at securing their futures when news breaks that supermodel Kate Moss has fired her PR agency and may need a new one. The pair’s brilliant plan to meet the superstar and convince her to come on board goes horribly wrong when Edina knocks Moss into the Thames where her body completely vanishes!

To escape the media frenzy, the inseparable women kidnap Edina’s granddaughter and head to the south of France with the teenager’s credit card as their only financial backing. Attempting to get their lives back on track while on the lamb, imbecilic hijinks ensue.

Between the insufferable twat bags “starring” in this 90 minute mong-fest and the awful, awful idea of what the queef-biscuits that wrote this ghastly nonsense – which includes Saunders – think is funny; you’re god damned right I walked out of this piece of shit with less than an hour having run.

If I heard one more self-obsessed ball-bag say “totes” or “adorbs”or some other bullshit from the douche-canoe dictionary, I swear on all that is holy that I would have burned down the cinema I was in. If I was forced to sit through one more out of date and out of touch gag from these unbearable cunt-stains that think snorting coke in a police station interrogation room is edgy and funny I would have pushed my car keys through my eyes just so I couldn’t see it any more.

I’m deadly serious. One more “oh darling”, one more glimpse of some weaponised shit-swizzler in a sweater covered in hashtags, or one more utterance from one of these goofy spunk bubbles about “the good old days” and I would have killed everyone in the screening and then myself.

For the record, I couldn’t give two wet shits if you’re politically correct or not. Be as offensive as you like. The more people raging at what you said, the better, as far as I am concerned.

But when your jokes aren’t funny and your visual gags aren’t hitting, you’re just a racist, homophobic cunt-dribble with a very obvious problem with transgender people. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is something you should be keeping to yourself and not asking people to pay to be subjected to on the big screen you angry little tit.

Not clever, not funny, and definitely not worth wasting any more of my time on it than I already have. I don’t have much else to say. Absolutely Fabulous is a steaming bag of flaming shit that should be ignored and left to fizzle out lest you end up unable to get the smell of what you just stamped on out of your nostrils.

The Nice Guys

the nice guys

“Hey man, that girl in your trunk? She was in that car.”

Almost three decades ago, Shane Black all but invented the buddy comedy when he wrote Lethal Weapon and unleashed Riggs and Murtaugh on the world. One of the most famous – and most infamous – action-comedy duos would propel Black into a string of writing jobs where he would hone his craft.

When it finally came time to make the jump to directing, his debut would of course be one of his own scripts – and it was going to be a buddy comedy. In 2005, Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang was almost universally adored and with Marvel tapping the man to helm Post-Avengers set Iron Man 3, he is as close to a household name as a cult film screenwriter has ever been.

Not one to rest on his laurels and take it easy, Shane Black is using his new-found status to get some of his own writing on the big screen to be noticed. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, The Nice Guys.

Los Angeles, 1977. Days after the death of a well known porn star, hapless private eye Holland March (Ryan Gosling) is hired by the actress’ aunt, convinced that she’s seen her alive, to track her down. When he finds himself on the trail of young activist Amelia (The Leftovers‘ Margaret Qualley) he also finds himself on the wrong end of paid enforcer Jackson Healy’s (Russell Crowe) uncanny skill for violently persuading people off of whatever course they happen to be on.

When Amelia suddenly disappears, the unlikely pair find themselves forced to work together and wade through the seedy underbelly of LA to find her; unravel the truth behind the growing collection of bodies that seem to be following them around and try desperately not to end up at the top of that pile of corpses themselves.

Now, some films like to think they’re funny and fail miserably. Some films want to tell a story and never quite seem to keep me interested enough to have me care about it. The beauty of a film like The Nice Guys is that it hits a perfect sweet-spot of really cool story, told brilliantly; and a perfectly paired up couple of polar opposites that get a steady stream of laughs as one hapless detective becomes two.

Headlining our fun little noir crime caper, in unlikely comedic turns for both, are all-but-typecast hard-man Russell Crowe as investigator/leg-breaker Healy – the stereotypical tough guy loner who may (or may not) have a heart of gold – along with his unwitting partner, Ryan Gosling’s equally unlikely funny-turn as the stumbling, bumbling, private eye who moonlights as a single dad to a mouthy, attitude filled teenage girl.

Supported by a pretty stellar cast including Matt Bomer as the hired clean-up guy; Keith David just being Keith David as a long-in-the-tooth heavy sent to beat on Healey; and Kim Basinger popping in for a few scenes and getting to play a high up police official for a bit. All of them come together to give an outstanding overall performance, but are almost completely outshined by relative unknown Angourie Rice as March’s teenage daughter, Holly; a girl whose smarts equal that of any of those she shares the screen with, but has more balls than any of them. She’s just outstanding and a ton of fun to watch.

70’s Los Angeles has been created beautifully, with plenty of subtle – and not so subtle – things to say about the way the world is today. The nuts political landscape in the States, climate change, and I’m sure if I actually understood how the entire city of Detroit went bankrupt a couple of years back, I’d get the point that was being made about the American auto industry. But as it is, I know our writer is poking at someone or some thing. I just don’t get what or who. What makes it great though, is that it doesn’t matter. I don’t need to get all the little nuances to thoroughly enjoy the film.

To say that Shane Black has found a nice soft chair right in the middle of his comfort zone would, without context, seem a little damning. But the fact is, he has long been the master of the buddy comedy, so he’s throwing the big punches that brought him to this fight and he’s throwing them perfectly. All those years hanging around the pros has given Mr. Black all the experience he needs and in only his third outing as a director has more than proven his ability to stand with the big boys. He delivers The Nice Guys with a precision of pace usually reserved for much more seasoned veterans, without compromising the story or the dialogue that once made him the highest paid screenwriter in Hollywood.

The film doesn’t break any new ground, certainly not for its director. When you see Kiss Kiss Bang Bang‘s noir crime setting, The Last Boy Scout‘s ballsy teenage daughter and, frankly, every great buddy cop movie since 1987 – to name just a couple of the more obvious nods – The Nice Guys feels like you’re watching Shane Black’s greatest hits in one two-hour film.

But man, if you’re going to watch the best bits of someone’s Hollywood career, there aren’t many better to watch than his. I went in expecting a great film, well made, with a clever script and plenty of laughs – and that’s exactly what I got. A thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyable film that I’ll gladly pay to go watch again.

Field & Mullinger’s Underground Nights: Cult Comedy

Underground Nights

The lads are back!

After a brief hiatus whilst James Mullinger was busy doing actual paid stand-up comedy, rather than fannying around on the internet talking about films with Paul Field, our Underground Nights duo return with a cult comedy special.

They tackle the outrageous Danish road trip movie Klown and try and look back on James’s childhood obsession with the little known Scorsese feature After Hours.

There’s news – lots of news – as we discover the outcome of James trying to flog more gig tickets than Jerry Seinfeld, they reminisce about over-indulging in the 90’s, tackle the Cannes film festival and go misty-eyed over the Carry On movies.

They end by discussing some listener suggestions and deliver their own Top 5 personal favourite cult comedy movies – and as ever, they discover ever more things they have in common and parallels in their lives.

Right-click and choose ‘save as’ to download the podcast as an mp3

Check out Mullinger’s most riskiest stand-up comedy routine ever in the YouTube clip below!

Keanu – A spoilerific review of a film you probably will never see

So I’m a few days into a Las Vegas holiday, I’m already sunburnt and I need something inexpensive to do before I eventually splurge on the Strip in a few days time.

I was advised by my friend Jeanne, who is a Vegas local, that there is a newly-opened, small, but awesome, cinema at a nearby mall. Myself & Mrs L set off with fairly low expectations to see Keanu, a film about a cute kitten who wears a bandana and a gold chain and is in the middle of an ownership dispute between a couple of regular guys and several gangs.

An odd premise, I’ll forgive you for thinking. However, there is a lot to like about this movie. The film is based around Jordan Peele, who plays Rell/Tectonic (we’ll get to the second names later) who has just been dumped by his girlfriend and is going through the clichéd “my life is over” blues, very similar to the start of Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Attempting to console Rell is Clarence (aka Shark Tank), played by Keegan-Michael Key, who is en route to Rell for a bit of brotherly love, when Rell hears a strange scratching sound at his door.

He opens the door to find a little kitten, whom unbeknownst to Rell, has just escaped a gangland hit by the Allentown Boys at a local drugs den. Rell instantly snaps out of his depression as he takes on the Kitten as his own and names him Keanu, although there is little offered to explain why he went for that name… It just works however.

Skip forward a couple of weeks, Keanu is fully integrated into Rell’s home and as Clarence’s wife is going away for the weekend with a male neighbour (Errr, wtf?) the boys decide to hit the latest Liam Neeson movie. In the drive home they both get into a debate about which of them is the most lame, or more specifically, the most white in their behavior. Rell is the stereotypical stoner type, however more from a white person’s perspective, he is unemployed, bums around his apartment all day which is adorned in movie posters of his favorite gangsta movies such as New Jack City.

Clarence is blue-collar and as polite as you can imagine and has an unusual penchant for George Michael & Wham, not too dissimilar to Deadpool, however it plays a slightly more significant role in the overall arc of this movie. So they debate who is the most lame and to be fair they are both pretty dull and uninteresting at this stage but as they arrive back at Rell’s place they discover it has been ransacked and Keanu is missing. They approach Rell’s weed dealer, who conveniently lives next door and are able to deduce that the heavies meant to target the dealer and not Rell.

This sends Rell into a rage and he drags Clarence to the strip club where the 17th Street Blips are known to be based (Blips based on a gang bigger the bloods and the crips), however they have no plan whatsoever on how to deal with these guys when they arrive. They are instantly earmarked by Hi-Cee, a female gang member, on arrival due to their clean dress and lack of street cred. This forces the guys to improvise on the spot, and suddenly the movie comes to life as Clarence retorts in hilariously over the top gangsta lingo to try and earn her trust. They demand to see the boss of the gang ,Cheddar (played by Method Man), whom we learn has adopted Keanu as his own, dressed him in the Bandana and Gold Chain as depicted in the movie posters and called him New Jack.

FEduCVZ_

Cheddar smells that the guys are not what they try to portray, which are heavy-handed gangbangers looking for work, but the guys step it up even further on the mimicking of gang culture, particularly pushed by Rell who is the more angry, cold blooded of the 2 and Cheddar eventually presumes they are the notorious Allentown Boys (or Allentown Niggas as he prefers), the 2 super Assassins from the opening scene of the movie (who are actually also played by Peele & Key).

The guys keep up the act and reveal their gang names as Tectonic & Shark Tank, and ask for Keanu as a mark of respect if they complete a drug sale for Cheddar. The boys take Cheddar’s fledgling gang members (including Hi-Cee) on the job where they demonstrate their faux-deadly skills to hilarious effect, including some Matrix-sequel wall running which is so sloppy that it really took the roof off the cinema with laughs!

RjPvwHkL

Rell takes Hi-Cee to deliver their merchandise whilst the rest of the crew stay in the Van (Clarence’s all family vehicle) and listen to George Michael. Clarence hilariously spins the lyrical content of songs like Father-Figure and the break up of Wham/Andrew Ridgley’s fading career being a metaphor for George Michael taking him out, and was never seen again. This hilariously results in one of the gang members getting a George Michael tattoo, not even realizing that he isn’t black.

The drug deal is a strange part of the movie, as Rell delivers to Anna Faris (Scary Movie) who is playing herself and the deal eventually goes awry and Hi-Cee pops them all off as they escape with the movie, whilst Rell has to pretend he is unfazed by the carnage. They eventually get back to the strip club and have a celebratory party, the gang fully convinced at this stage that Tectonic & Shark Tank are legit. The boys approach Cheddar, asking for Keanu however he wants more work from them in return.

This sends the boys plan spiraling out of control and they eventually kidnap Keanu and run, but bump into the real Allentown Boys who also want Keanu for themselves. Whilst tied up and about to be dismembered by the Allentown boys, Keanu bites through Rell’s ropes (as he’s been traiedn to scratch pictures of Rell’s ex) and Rell is able to one-up the heavies as they pick through various implements to torture the guys. This ends up with the boys crossing the line of being faux-gangstas as they actually shoot the Allentown Boys in self-defense, but no sooner do they escape, they run in Cheddar’s gang who now know the truth about Tectonic & Shark Tank.

The gang deliver them to Bacon (Luiz Guzman), a Mexican super drug boss whose brother is killed by the Allentown Boys in the opening scene of the movie, and is the real owner of Keanu (actually called Iglesias). Cheddar passes the boys off as the real Allentown Boys whom Bacon has a massive contract out on. Just as it seems all is lost for our protagonists, Cheddar refuses to hand over Keanu/New Jack/Iglesias and a mass shoot out erupts with most of the gang members on both sides dying.

Eventually the film closes out with a car chase between Cheddar, Bacon & Rell who, are all after Keanu. They crash eventually and show down, just as Cheddar appears to have the upper hand as his remaining crew arrive, Hi-Cee reveals herself as an undercover cop and arrests everyone, including Rell & Clarence. However at this point Rell & Hi-Cee have become suitably close enough to warrant a romantic interest and she promises to testify favorably on his behalf, but ultimately they go down for the murder of the Allentown Boys, with Hi-Cee adopting Keanu until Rell gets out.

In summary: This is such an odd movie, because despite it being written and starring two black actors in Peele & Key, the humour is definitely aimed at a white audience, or at a push, a non-urban black audience for lack of a better word.

That in most instances would be a damning critique, but it’s not. It’s actually genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, and whilst the first 15mins I found the protagonists dull, once they start faking it, they’re very entertaining in a hugely Alan Partridge-esque cringeworthy fashion.

Keanu himself doesn’t really feature a whole bunch, but he is the central plot figure that connects the various factions and is really adorable in a combination of real animal acting and a bit of silly CGI. The various factions allure to Keanu is somewhat inexplicable, other than Rell perhaps but you do find yourself falling in love with the little guy whenever he shows up on screen.

It’s a shame this won’t be coming to the UK but I think it’s one that is incredibly hard to market to an audience that has no familiarity to Peele & Key, who are seemingly being pushed as the new Wayans Brothers, in the United States. Hopefully it might make it to streaming sites as a home-only release and it will definitely provide lots of laughs if you enjoy a truly silly comedy with a dash of cuteness for good measure.