Currently browsing the "Comedy" category.

Review: Wild Nights with Emily

The Emily of the title is the 19th century American poet Emily Dickinson, long thought to be a delicate recluse who was afraid to publish her work. But that, the film tells us, is an entirely false narrative devised for profit after her death. In fact, Dickinson was a strong and passionate woman who carried on a life-long affair with a woman who was her childhood friend and later her sister-in-law who lived conveniently next door. Played by SNL alum Molly Shannon, Emily is certainly an unconventional poet, but also an early women’s rights adherent pushing for women to have the same opportunities as men and to be taken just as seriously. While it is a potentially heavy subject, the film has a light tone, which works most of the time. It’s an odd little romcom that plays off the juxtaposition of Emily’s real life with the sanitized version told by Mabel Loomis Todd (Amy Seimetz), Emily’s brother’s sly mistress, who as her de facto biographer took great liberties with Dickinson’s legacy, despite having never actually met her.

Review: Poms

Three cheers for braving new things as we age! One cheer for the movie Poms, which should have been so much better given its veteran ensemble of Hollywood golden girls. The movie has moments that are relatable and funny and poignant, but it doesn’t break any new ground and will escape your memory faster than you can say Bring It On. It’s a bittersweet comedy about death and dying. And living. And friendship.

Review: Long Shot

Seth Rogen comedies tend to be hit or miss for me. Long Shot straddles the line, eeking out on the side of okay, though somewhat disappointing given the tremendous buzz it received coming out of the uber-cool SXSW film festival. Maybe I’m just getting old. But I don’t find the idea of a Secretary of State defusing a crisis while high on ecstasy to be all that funny. It is, however, quintessential Rogen. So if you’re a fan of films like This Is The End, Superbad and Pineapple Express, then you know what you’re in for with Long Shot. The biggest difference is that Long Shot aims for romantic political comedy in addition to raunchy comedy, with an assist from Oscar-winning dramatic actress Charlize Theron (Monster, Tully, Atomic Blonde).

Review: Shazam!

With Marvel’s highly-anticipated Avengers: Endgame still a few weeks out, DC Comics’ Shazam! swoops in like a tasty appetizer – just enough to satisfy, without spoiling your appetite for the main course. Shazam! is not as LOL funny and lighthearted as the trailer might suggest, but it’s still far lighter and easier to process than most DC Comic movies of recent memory (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, etc.), and it’s certainly much shorter and simpler than the forthcoming Avengers finale. Bottom line: Shazam! is a solid coming-of-age superhero flick that’s suitable for family viewing, assuming the kids are at least approaching teendom. The film is PG-13 and does have the occasional blast of violence (though relatively bloodless), sadness (family dysfunction and abandonment issues) and scary moments (don’t get lost at the fairgrounds or walk through strange doors!). But overall, it’s about personal strength (finding the superhero within), making the right choices, and learning what defines a family.

Review: Isn’t It Romantic

Isn’t It Romantic unabashedly satirizes and celebrates the RomCom, a genre I just so happen to unabashedly embrace. So while the movie falls far short of the classics it draws upon for inspiration (Pretty Woman, My Best Friend’s Wedding, 13 Going on 30, Sweet Home Alabama, Notting Hill, When Harry Met Sally…), it’s still an entertaining watch. Isn’t It Romantic seems hyper-aware of its flaws and limitations, closing with a cheesy musical number a mere 80 minutes or so after the plot – such as it is – begins to unfold, starting with a bonk on the head. You know the drill. Revel in it. Or recoil from it. Those are your only options.

Quickie Reviews: The Isle; Untogether

The Isle is for the horror flick lovers out there. It’s set in 1846 on an island off the coast of Scotland that is shrouded in mist. Three survivors of a shipwreck row ashore to find it nearly abandoned. But then they meet the only four people still living there, a couple of women and a couple of men. And they can tell that things are not normal, and the island folks are not opening up about what happened to all the others who lived there, and the 3 men really want to get off the island, but can’t seem to find a way. Then they start dying. It takes some time for the men to figure what’s happening, and once they do, they’re powerless against it.

Review: What Men Want

What men should want is not to be dragged to this movie for Valentine’s Day. And what men – and women – deserve is a stronger spin on a plot device that worked quite well in Nancy Meyers’ 2000 romantic comedy What Women Want, starring Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt. Gibson (before he went all weird on us) played a chauvinistic executive who learned something about himself – and his treatment of women – after a mishap gave him the ability to hear women’s inner thoughts. This time around, the genders are reversed. Taraji P. Henson plays Ali Davis, a successful sports agent in Atlanta who gains the ability to hear men’s inner thoughts. She hopes to use her newfound power (a blessing and a curse) to score a high-profile client, and land the promotion she is entitled to in the boy’s club that is her workplace.

Review: Oscar Nominated Short Films 2019

I always look forward to watching the shorts. (Short being 40 minutes or less, so some of them aren’t all that short.) This year’s crop had clear winners and losers for me in each of the categories. Some of them felt like films I’d already seen. And overall, I think there have been stronger years for shorts.  However, they’re always worth seeing.  And as I do each year, I will renew my call for theaters to start showing them before the features.

Trailers to this year’s shorts can be found here.

Review: Stan & Ollie

Do (or did) you get a kick out of the slapstick comedy of Laurel & Hardy? If the answer is yes, then Stan & Ollie is worth a watch, primarily due to the heartfelt and moving performances of Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel and John C. Reilly as Oliver Hardy. Stan & Ollie is not your traditional biographical drama. It kicks off with the legendary comedy duo at the height of their fame during Hollywood’s Golden Age circa 1930s, then fast-forwards to the pair as fading stars looking to revive their routine – and film careers – by embarking on a variety hall tour of Britain in 1953.

Review: The Upside

The Upside is a good movie. But it’s an American remake of a better movie called The Intouchables. So I’m in a bit of a conundrum. My preference would be that everyone see the 2011 French indie, but I know that’s a big ask. So if you’re not inclined to see the superior version – or you’ve put it on the list of ‘movies to rent someday’ – then go ahead and check out The Upside, primarily to revel in the comedic and dramatic acting chops of Bryan Cranston. He plays a quadriplegic billionaire, Phillip Lacasse, who hires a recently-paroled ex-convict named Dell (Kevin Hart) to be his caretaker. Phillip figures Dell is the only candidate for the job who is irresponsible and reckless enough to let him die.