Reviewed: I Give It A Year (2013)

i_give_it_a_year_xlg(SPOILERS AHOY!) Here we have a romantic comedy which attempts to subvert the genre and almost gets it right. Watching this, two films of recent came to mind; The Five Year Engagement and Friends With Kids. Both focus on the negative of traditional relationships but result in different ways. Where The Five Year Engagement looks at what can happen when people make the commitment to “wait” for each other over an extended period of time, Friends With Kids looks at the idea of starting a family without the foundation of a “relationship” and/or marriage.

This film begins with our unlucky in loves at their wedding with all the signs pointing to the fact that they are not meant for each other. From there it establishes all the regular tropes to push them apart – the bride, Nat (Rose Byrne) finds herself working for a perfect man in the form of Guy (Simon Baker) while we find out that Josh (Rafe Spall) still feels for his ex, Chloe (Anna Farris), that he never really broke up with when she went on an extended overseas trip. As the plot pushes forward we find them confirming everyone’s thoughts that they just aren’t made for each other and that maybe they’ve made the wrong decision to get married.

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It all builds to a point where you think they’re going to break it off but when it comes to the crunch, they decide they want to give it a proper go and commit to making a better effort using the rest of the year as their trial run to fix things. In the meantime, Guy and Chloe get together and you think everything’s going great guns for one and all but then on their anniversary night, Josh realises he really is in love with Chloe. Telling Nat this brings joy to her as now she can be with Guy and they race together (although separately) to the airport to make things right.

The emotional side of this film doesn’t quite work – I never really found myself caring what became of any of the characters. What got me through was the dialogue; the little moments of humour that came through in conversation and character interaction.

Dan Mazer who wrote and directed this one has previously worked with Sacha Baron Cohen on BoratBruno and the Ali G TV series so a little bit of the awkward humour from these shines through.

The cast all do very well with what they’ve got but what’s lacking is real chemistry (whatever the hell that means). Steve Merchant also turns up to do his standard bit playing the inappropriate best friend of Josh who everyone loves to hate (and with good reason).

There are a handful of laugh out loud moments and I’ll give them points for that but as I said before, no real emotion is the where this one falls over.

Reviewed: Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007)

walk-hard-the-dewey-cox-storyI’m a fan of music as well as a fan of comedy movies. Do I like films that parody the music scene? Hell yes. Those guys take themselves far too seriously and need a bit of a jab every now and then. But more importantly, it’s not the music itself that needs making fun of – just the culture surrounding it. Here are a handful of favourites that do it perfectly for me; Waynes World (1 & 2), Airheads, This Is Spinal Tap and A Mighty Wind (CB4 deserves a mention too).

A Mighty Wind came out in 2003 but after that, there is a bit of a gap in this subgenre. Movies being made about music were mostly Biopics and not really going out of their way to make us laugh (which I guess is fair enough) – things like Walk the Line with Joaquin Phoenix (just before he went all Borat on everyone’s asses – see: I’m Still Here) and it was this film that inspired the ridiculous stroke of genius that is Walk Hard.

On a whim, I threw this into the player the other day to give it another spin and found it to be just as good as the first time around.

Written by Judd Apatow & Jake Kasdan, this one stars John C. Reilly and a whole host of comedy greats (too numerous to mention here) dropping in for cameos to not only parody the life of Johnny Cash but other classic moments in modern music history too.

I could rattle off some of my favourite scenes but it’s really just one to sit down and enjoy without knowing too much about. As a bonus, you don’t really need to know your music history that well to get all the jokes as they’re silly enough to work without that inside knowledge.

If like me, you can’t get enough of John C. Reilly’s man-child bit, this is a must-see.walkhardpic11

Reviewed: Hotel Transylvania (2012)

Hotel-Transylvania-wallpapers-1Hotel Transylvania. A cartoon family movie with Adam Sandler starring as Dracula – what’s to like about that? …Quite a lot, actually.

Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexters’ Lab, Samurai Jack) and a screenplay by Peter Smigel (Saturday Night Live) and Peter Baynham (Borat, I’m Alan Partridge, Arthur Christmas), this film is pleasantly surprising. I’m quite a fan of the Animated family film genre but not everything is gold. I like good animation, unusual character voice choices and witty scripts. I approached this with one trepidation but it turns out that it has all three.

Often when an Adam Sandler project comes out, a groan of “here we go again” follows from fans and critics alike. The man has built himself a niche market not unlike Martin Lawrence or Rob Schneider for broad appeal bland family films where you can almost see how dead he is behind the smiling eyes of whatever semi-retarded character he’s bringing to the screen this time. Perhaps it’s because we can’t see him that this works – his performance feels to me like he genuinely enjoys the character, not unlike Steve Carrell’s Gru in Despicable Me.

The story follows Dracula who has set up a hotel in remote Transylvania, tucked away from the prying eyes and pitchforks of humans where all monsters can come to be themselves and not worry about being run out of town or killed. Every monster you can think of makes an appearance here and they’re all deliciously played by past Sandler/SNL collaborators including Andy Samberg, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, David Spade and Jon Lovitz.Hotel Transylvania - GangDracula has a daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez) who is coming of age and curious about the outside world – a curiosity that Dracula tries hard to quell to keep his daughter safe from harm. Everything is going fine until the world in the form of Jonathan (Samberg) comes to them.

As a family film it has its share of fart jokes and terrible pop music that I can only assume that the kids are into these days so if that’s not your kind of thing there will be moments of, “Why am I watching this?” but they are few and far between.

Give this one a go. You might be pleasantly surprised.