Reviewed: The Love Guru (2008)

el_guru_del_buen_rollo_2008_7Ah, Mike Myers. You were the comedy darling on the cusp of the 21st century. We all remember such endearing characters of yours as Wayne CampbellAustin PowersDr. EvilFat Bastard and Shrek. We loved them so much we said, “Give us more!” and you made a bunch of sequels. And then what happened? You just went away. Sure, you had a cameo in Inglourious Basterds but who remembers that? What happened? Oh, that’s right. The Cat In The Hat. Was that the final nail in the coffin? For many; yes. However, you wouldn’t let a little thing like that keep you down. Like the undead, you clawed your way out of that hole to make The Love Guru. Oh, the hate for that movie when it came out in 2009. Who went and saw this film? No one (myself included).

The Love Guru has a huge 3.8 score on IMDB and unsurprisingly so. Up until recently I’d avoided this film and existed quite happily not knowing what I was missing. Then in a moment of weakness I had a bit of a Mike Myers bender and after exhausting the Waynes’ World & Austin Powers franchises, I desperately searched about the place looking for another hit. Like a stoner out of weed, I stared into the ashtray looking for butts that had been un-smoked hoping for enough dregs to sustain that one last high.

So yes, The Love GuruMyers plays Pitka, an American raised by gurus in India who returns to America to topple Deepak Chopra from his position as number one self-help guru in the business. His first assignment is to help a hockey player whose personal life is affecting his game.

A handful of names turn up such as Justin TimberlakeJessica Alba and most oddly, Ben Kingsley with a barrage of cameos that I imagine are happy to be on board after seeing the success of similar roles played in his previous movies.

Although I watched this film from beginning to end and thought to myself, “it’s not that bad”, by the same token, it’s not that good. In fact it’s really quite average and I don’t think it’s Myers’ fault. He puts just as much effort into his performance as always and Pitka’s character is endearingly flawed like Austin Powers with the same penchant for lame jokes that are carried simply because we love seeing Myers do his thing.

I think what this one lacks is direction from someone who knows how to put comedy on film. The Austin Powers films had Jay Roach at the helm, a man who knows his way around telling a comedy story (most recent example, see: The Campaign). Penelope Spheeris was the genius behind the success of the first Wayne’s World (WW2 was admittedly, a little weak) but Marco Schnabel, with this film it feels like the takes they go with are the ones where someone’s said, “That’ll do.” And this is what we’re left with.

So, if you find yourself scraping around for a Mike Myers fix at the bottom of the bowl, go and watch So I Married An Axe-Murderer instead. Again, not the greatest thing he’s done yet closer to finding that forgotten bud under the couch cushion – not like this mess of half-burned butt dregs.

Reviewed: Land Of The Lost (2009)

land-of-the-lost_posterChances are you didn’t run out and see this adventure film starring Will FerrellAnna Friel and Danny McBride when it hit the big screen in 2009. And to that I’d say, ‘fair enough.’ What I do recommend however is checking it out now that it’s had time to settle and let everyone forget how much it cost to make.

Land of the Lost was an effects-driven kids TV show from the 70’s that I never saw. Apparently the guys who made it got jealous of other TV shows that had been made into big budget films (Charlies AngelsLost in Space) and wanted a slice of the pie too*.

Will Ferrell plays Dr. Rick Marshall, a disgraced scientist whose fire for his research gets rekindled when Holly Cantrell (Anna Friel) walks in and shows him something impossible that’s related to his work. They head out to test his invention in the middle of nowhere that also happens to be a 3rd rate family attraction run by a redneck named Will Stanton (Danny McBride). One thing leads to another and they find themselves travelling to an alternate dimension peopled by lizard men, primates and dinosaurs. There are also three moons and a bunch of other whack shit that doesn’t make sense. In this world they meet Chaka (Jorma Taccone), a primate who helps them on their quest to get back home.13255626_In terms of great films this is not one of them, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun. It looks great (directed by Brad Silberling – the guy behind the adaptations of Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events and Casper – among other things), this guy knows how to bring stylised worlds to the screen. The script is helmed by Chris Henchy and Dennis McNicholas (SNL alumni) who know how to piece together an entertaining script but also leave enough room for Ferrell and McBride to improvise which is where they both really shine. Anna Friel does very well to counter their lunacy with her ‘straight guy’ approach.

So if you want to see something that’s big, fun and a little bit like a bad acid trip with Will Ferrell riding a dinosaur, this is the movie for you.

*I can not verify this statement with facts as I may have made it up.

Reviewed: Yellowbeard (1983)

yellowbeard_poster2 of the 3 Pythons that appear in this film said it was the worst script that they had ever read. The other one wrote it, starred in it, and then died. That Python is the late great Graham Chapman. Yellowbeard is another mediocre film with an outstanding cast. The casting call includes half of Monty Python, Peter Cook (who also shares a writing credit), Spike Milligan, Cheech & Chong, Madeline Kahn, Marty Feldman, James Mason and David Bowie as a shark.

As a kid I loved this movie. Its coarse risqué humour was a delight to my pre-adolescent mind. It also helped that it had all these people in it that I knew were funny or great in their own right so this must be the greatest comedy of all time! Sadly the re-watch didn’t substantiate these beliefs.

It’s a well-worn pirate story. A switched on yet unassuming boy finds out that he is actually the spawn of one of the worst pirates on the high seas. He gets drawn in on an adventure to find some treasure and finds that it ain’t such a bad life. The usual tropes are subverted in a comical way to give it flavour but what we’re left with is a handful of talented people working the best they can with what little they have.

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The title character was apparently written by Chapman for Keith Moon originally but Moon went and OD’d before that got a chance to happen. Chapman plays the leading man well in a film like Monty Pythons’ Life of Brian or Holy Grail. His straight man in a world of lunacy hits exactly the right notes for him to pull you along for the ride. In this however, it doesn’t quite work. His is the main role but his robust obnoxiousness as a pirate becomes grating. Our ‘everyman’ protagonist, Dan (which was more likely the role Chapman was meant to play) is weak and quite unremarkably played by whats-his-name who went on to do things like something you never watched and that other thing you never heard of with that other guy.

Cleese and Idle put in solid performances and Cheech & Chong do very well as evil (yet very silly) Spanish conquistadors.

Maybe watch this under the influence of something.

Reviewed: Mental (2012)

Mental_PosterWhat fresh hell is this movie? An Aussie suburbs flick by the guy who did Muriels’ Wedding, that’s what. It’s a movie about the little guys, the battler’s, the everyday Joe’s and the psychologically affected. Rebecca Gibney plays Shirley Moochmore, an essentially single mum with a herd of daughters that all claim to be “mental” in some way. Shirley’s husband Barry (Anthony LaPaglia) is a local council member who spends as little time at home as possible because a) he’s a shit person and b) he’s a shit person.

The film opens with introducing us to Shirley who at the end of her tether emotionally, is ready to snap and it’s not long before she does. As a result, she books herself in at a psychiatric hospital for some time out. Because of this, Barry finds himself in the unenviable position of sole carer for the kids, a responsibility he quickly discards by picking up a stray he sees on the side of the road to be their live-in babysitter. This stray takes the form of Shaz (Toni Colette) – a bong smoking, muscle dog-toting scrap of a human being who looks like she’s been given the short end of the stick for most of her life.

The film is aware of its story parallels with The Sound Of Music and features songs from the 1965 “classic” (something that does not, in my opinion, work in anyone’s favour). Like Maria with the Von Trapp kids, Shaz’s unconventional lifestyle brings something new to the table of the Moochmore family and is able to bring a little stability and pride to the lives of the girls she has found herself looking after.

The plot thickens however when we find out that the local water park attraction where the eldest daughter works is owned by Trevor Blundell (Liev Schreiber) who happens to be the ex-husband of Shaz.

I bought into this movie at the beginning, allowing myself to enjoy the craziness and variety of characters on the screen. Yet 90 or so minutes in, I felt that I’d overstayed my welcome, the quirkiness became irritating and I lost interest in the lives of the individuals of this “wacky” family.

Being Australian, I like the idea that Australia has a film industry but every time I give “one of our own” a go, I walk away disappointed (especially when it comes to comedy). I always get the feeling that whoever’s put the film together is really excited to begin with but then they get bored and by the time it gets to the end are either just going through the motions to get it done or overcompensating with more faux-farce zany situations. This one’s no exception.

Good effort guys but come on, Aussie. Come on. Seriously.