Category Archives: Comedy

Aardvark

Bill I’s Rating – 4 out of 5

You gotta like a writer/director (Brian Shoaf in this case) who names his movie in part because it will be listed first alphabetically in Netflix.  (so no, “aardvark” has no relationship to the plot, although there are clips from the zoo of an aardvark at various points) This film transcends genres.

Is it a creepy horror? The lead character, Josh, (wonderfully played by Zachary Quinto) shows up for his first psychotherapy session with a weird haircut (think punk rock star wannabe), a blank stare, and an obsession with his “genius” TV star brother. Is he psychotic, schizo, a serial killer with a super depressing apartment to fit? He “sees” his brother everywhere, in the homeless lady in the alley (“he’s a master of disguise”), in the neighborhood cop who entices him to joy ride on some stolen bikes, in the local teenage bullies. Flashbacks reveal he may have been bullied by his brother as an 8 year old.

Is it a comedy? The young, fragile, therapist, Emily (another great portrayal, by Jenny Slate), might be seeing her first client, and she gives bad advice, becomes emotional (not because of excessive empathy but because of self pity), begins an unethical relationship with said TV star brother (Jon Hamm playing a version of himself), who at one point calls in her client, Josh, for an emergency session basically to find out more about the handsome stud brother.

Is it a love story? Josh meets a “normal” pretty girl on the street who for some reason seems attracted to him, even after being invited in to watch TV in the serial killer-like apartment. They go on walking dates, starting with meeting at the local gas station. Too bad Josh doesn’t ask for her cell number or address, meaning he needs to walk around town hoping to run into her for his next date, haha.

The movie has a cool ending, tying up loose emotional ends and (spoiler alert) no one has been tied up, slashed, raped, or married. Perfect film festival entry and I recommend it for those of you who don’t need to see the typical Hollywood blockbuster.

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Morris from America

Bill I’s Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Another Montclair Film Festival superb, surprising, film. Similar to another film fest I reviewed, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, this has as its main character a 13 year-old boy (Markees Christmas, in what I assume is his debut, so great) who is in a foreign environment (Heidelberg, Germany in this case), surrounded by unfriendlies (his school mates), and channeling his inner gangster (he’s a wannabee gangster rapper). Craig Robinson is great as his dad, a former soccer player turned coach, who has a unique style of parenting (his wife recently died), and figuring out to deal with his unhappy son. There’s a girl involved, and some embarrassing episodes and an understanding German tutor who gives Morris some motherly attention. This should be a big hit if it gets publicity. See it if you can!

Donald Cried

Bill I’s Rating: 3 out of 5

A low budget film at the Montclair Film Festival that has recently been picked up by a distributor, this is a great character study of two old high school friends who reconnect after many years in their hometown of Warwick Rhode Island. Peter is a Wall Street financier, successful and in no way ready to enjoy returning to Warwick to take care of his grandma’s estate and funeral. He loses his wallet on the way and ends up depending on Donald, an unforgettable character played by the director and writer, Kris Avedisian. Over the course of 24 hours the two go through a roller coaster of emotions and experiences, encountering old “friends”, crushes, and haunts along the way. I can’t do justice to the realness, (enhanced by the hand held camera) but I will say that my wife was really upset afterwards due to the Donald character, who is the super clingy friend who literally won’t leave you alone. I really liked it!

Barbershop: The Next Cut

Bill I’s Rating – 3.5 out of 5

I enjoyed this film greatly, better than Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq, which covers the same territory – how to slow down the gang violence in Chicago. It has a perfect mix of comedy and seriousness. I remember almost nothing from the prior Barbershop films, but Ice Cube remains as the owner and spiritual leader of the crew, with Cedric the Entertainer and a great crew of character actors cutting heads among other things. The shop has a female side now, which gives great balance to the macho bullshit being slung around. Nikki Minaj is delightful and proves she’s more than just an awesome butt. The threat of violence gets personal when Cube’s 14 year old son, and his buddy, son of Common’s character, get drawn into the gangster life. The movie avoids simplistic logic of who is to blame, and they conclude that only the South Side community can save themselves and stop the escalating gun deaths. It’s ultimately an uplifting movie, while raising very topical issues. Oh, and I can’t end without mentioning one of my favorite comic actors, JB Smoove, who does his thing, as “One-Stop”, the barber who has a bunch of side businesses.

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Kapoor & Sons, since 1921

Bill I’s Review – 4 out of 5

Portraying a couple of the most genuine family arguments scenes I can remember, with every character perfectly cast and believable. Summary: two 20-something brothers, Rahul (little older, successful novelist, entrepreneur, lady killer type looks) and Arjun (aspiring/unsuccessful novelist, restaurant worker, scruffy and lacking the self-assured confidence of his bro, but also super good looking), are called to their family home in India from their lives in London and New Jersey respectively to show respect to their ailing grandfather, Dadu. Dadu is the real star of this film, while in his sickbed due to an ailing heart he hasn’t lost any of his lust for life (emphasis on lust) and is the glue that tries (emphasis on tries) to hold his family together as husband and wife, brother and brother, son and father, son and mother, all have their conflicts over the course of this 2 and a half hour Bollywood film, all contained within mostly a few weeks. Rahul explains his secret to a good novel: give the people the happy ending they want. Does this movie do the same? Go see it to find out, I’m not telling. It’s a lot of fun amid the drama, and especially note the charismatic and beautiful but hyper charmer, Tia (played by Alia Bhat), who quickly captivates the interest of both of the young dudes.

Deadpool

Bill I’s Review – 4 out of 5

I went into this film with almost zero awareness of the character Deadpool, who is from an adult X-rated comic book. Interesting note: the first X-rated movie I ever attended (back when you actually went into a theatre to see an X-rated movie), was Fritz the Cat, based on the X-rated comic book. My mother brought me!!! So I am open to the genre, and wow, Deadpool blew me away with its comic book violence enhanced by slow-motion, freeze-action, special effects, combined with Ryan Reynolds’ sarcastic, funny, dialogue and audience asides. This is an origin story, where you see his character earning money as an intimidator for hire, who then meets his soul mate (played by Morena Baccarin, who plays the beautiful, somewhat boring wife on Homeland, and is perfect here), then gets some bad luck and turns into the mutant super hero (anti-hero?) that he ends up calling Deadpool. Fun surprises abound, including martial arts star/actor Gena Carano  as a kick-ass villain (called Angel Dust I found out, which I don’t think was verbalized during the movie). It’s a combination of spoof of typical Marvel super hero films, but also a model for how to make the genre more exciting and more fun. I recommend this to the guys, but women may not love it. Kids, wait a few years, not for you just yet!

Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5

While the movies I tended to go to with my mother were the likes  of Mary Poppins and Elf I am in total agreement with Bill on Deadpool.  It was a unique and funny super hero movie (although Deadpool would not call himself a super hero).  As Bill said, the action was  really good with it’s use of slow motion and use of shifting angles (like NFL coverage where they start a play from one perspective and shift to a different one mid replay).  Unlike many movies you could tell what was happening.

I don’t have much to add to Bill’s review.  If you want to see Gina Carano in full kick ass mode check out Haywire.  Dead pool is definitely worth checking out (if you don’t mind violence, etc.).

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Hail, Caesar!

Bill C’s Review – 3 out of 5

Hail, Caesar is the most recent comedy by the Coen Brothers.  The film is entertaining and had several funny scenes. I enjoyed it, but this is not one of their best.

Hail, Caesar is an homage to different movies genres of the 40s and 50s, including Esther Williams films, Gene Kelly musicals, singing cowboy films and more sophisticated films as well as the Hollywood system of that era.  That might have been some deeper meaning, but if there was, it escaped me.

The movie had a great cast, but there were so many characters that many of them didn’t have enough screen time to sink their teeth into their roles. The exceptions to that were Alden Ehrenreich (who I had not heard of) and Ralph Fiennes, who had a great scene together.

Overall I liked Hail, Caesar, but it did not meet my expectations.

Bill I’s Review – 3.5 out of 5

I also enjoyed this film, maybe a little more than Bill C. It varied depending on the scene, because the plot is certainly nothing to write here about. Memorable scenes: 1) Channing Tatum channeling his inner Gene Kelly, with an R rated take, and thanks to Coen brothers for fitting in the whole choreography; 2) the cowboy star, played by Alden Ehrenreich (as Bill described above…holy cow, where did they find this guy who can do incredible cowboy roping tricks!), trying to act in a English upper class sitting room scene with Ralph Fiennes’ director coaching him on the proper dialect; 3) Scarlett Johannsen in an incredible water ballet scene followed by some salty language and practical, down to earth approach to having a child out of wedlock in the studio system; 3) George Clooney playing a bumbling, semi-idiot Hollywood star. Josh Brolin is solid as the strict Catholic movie studio head honcho who tries to keep it all together.

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Grandma

Bill C’s Review – 3 out of 5

Grandma stars Lily Tomlin in the title role helping to get her granddaughter through  a personal crisis.  It’s sort of a one day road movie with Tomling revisiting some past and current relationships as she tries to get the money to help her granddaughter.  It has it’s good moments and Tomlin’s characters is able to explore and hopefully resolve some of her past/current relationships along the way.

I liked it but I’m not sure it will stay with me very long.  If you’re a fan of Tomlin check it out.

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Mistress America

Bill C’s Review – 3 out of 5

Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig team up again in this new comedy.  As in the entertaining Frances Ha, they share writing credits and Baumbach direct while Gerwig stars.  If you liked Frances Ha you will probably like this.

Gerwig stars along with Lola Kirke.  Kirk plays Tracy, a college freshman in NYC who is  lonely and bored.  Tracy meets Brooke (Gerwig), soon to be her step sister, and Brooke show her how to open up and try to get more out of life. Though Brooke’s plans don’t always work out she is going for all the gusto.

Greta Gerwig is one of my favorite actresses during the past 10 years and, as usual, doesn’t disappoint.

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Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Bill C’s Review – 4 out of 5

If you’re tired of action films this summer, Me and Earl and The Dying Girl is the film to see.  Greg (Thomas Mann) is a shy/awkward high school senior who spends his time making films with his ‘co-worker’ Earl (RJ Cyler) and trying to stay invisible at school.  When Rachel (Olivia Cooke) is diagnosed with leukemia, Greg’s mom makes him spend time with her even though they are not friends.

This movie is at times very funny and at other times very sad.  This is a coming-of-age story for Greg as his and Rachel’s friendship develops and she helps him come out of  his shell, and he realizes that, while relationships have their risks, they are worth taking.

In addition to the excellent acting by the three young co stars, there is an excellent supporting cast including Nick Offerman and Connie Britton as Greg’s parents and Molly Shannon as Rachel’s mom.

This is also a funny homage to movies. The films that Greg and Earl make are their versions of films that Greg’s father has introduced them to. They are quirky/funny.

This is my favorite movie of the summer so far.

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