Category Archives: Comedy

Best Marigold Hotel

Bill I’s Review – 3 out of 5

Very pleasant film, of the (multiple) fish out of water genre, 2012 version of Cocoon where old folks find their second life through exposure and immersion in a different culture. Best English actors of their age infuse this movie with their incredible talents, from Maggie Smith to Judi Dench and Bill Nighy, they make it look effortless and keep your attention regardless of the run-of-the-mill plot. Dev Patel is fun as the young scion of a wealthy family trying to make his vision a reality of a wonderful hotel where old people will want to live until they die. Reality of making a profitable venture get in the way, while his first crop of paying patients/guests find things to turn them on in the surrounding environment of a hectic Jaipur.

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Moonrise Kingdom

Bill C’s review – 3.5 out of 5

Moonrise Kingdom is the latest from quirky director Wes Anderson.  Some of Anderson’s previous films include Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaum’s and the animated Fantastic Mr. Fox.  Moonrise Kingdom is set in summer 1965 in a small laid back New England town and is about two young teenagers, Suzy (a member of a dysfunctional family) and Sam (an orphan who is spending the summer at boy scout camp).  They run away together and the town and scout troop search for them as a hurricane approaches.

Anderson has his own unique style and as in all of his films this is filled with interesting characters. They include Bruce Willis as the town police officer, Bill Murray and Frances McDormand as Suzy’s parents, Edward Norton as Sam’s troop leader, Tilda Swinton as ‘Social Services’ and Jason Schwartzman as the strange Uncle Ben.   But most of these characters take a back seat to the fine performances of  newcomers Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman playing Suzy and Sam.

While this has it’s funny moments (especially involving the scouts) I didn’t think this was as consistently funny as some of Anderson’s other movies.  However I found the young love story of two trouble kids sweet and touching.

Bill I’s Review – 4 out of 5

Besides the forgettable title (I had to look again at my ticket receipt just now to remember it) I loved this film, had a smile on my face throughout. Wes Anderson’s truly unique style makes this a fantasy, children’s story metaphor that combines some realistic characters (mainly the grown-ups: Bill Murray’s burnout, neglectful husband and father, Bruce Willis’ decent, lonely, sheriff, Frances McDormand’s cynical, lazy, housewife/mother who relies on a megaphone to call her kids up the stairs to dinner) with some snappy dialogue spouted from 12 year-olds, including the two amazing leads. This puts Juno to shame in fashioning beyond-their-years youngsters who seem to have their acts together and appreciate life’s adventures better than their elders. I guess you should bring your kids to this, don’t think their’s anything outwardly R rated, and the sexual undertones are fairly discrete (an affair where you don’t even see the adults kissing) or so chaste (first french kiss, skinny dipping with their clothes on…well they dry off in their underwear afterwards). The plot gets a little crazy towards the end but you will like the realistic ending. Keep an eye out for Harvey Keitel, Bob Balaban, Tilda Swinton and Jason Schwartzman in small but great roles. I don’t think I can describe this very well, you just have to see it.

 

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Men in Black III

Bill I’s Rating – 3 out of 5

Same formula as before, proven with Will Smith and Tommie Lee Jones, enhanced by what I believe is an Oscar-worthy performance by Josh Brolin, as a Jones’ younger incarnation. Perfect imitation, fun to watch, as is the movie as a whole, with a cool villain, Boris the Animal (Jemaine Clement) nasty with an internal mind-blowing arsenal of which he makes liberal use. I didn’t recognize Nicole Scherzinger as the villain’s girlfriend early on (he’s not a sentimental type). This met my expectations for fun, action fluff, and surpassed them with the touching ending.

Bill C’s Rating – 3 out of 5

I was hoping Bill I. would repeat his ‘laugh stats’ from his review of ‘The Dictator’ and expand them to include ‘power laughs’ like they have for boxing matches!  As an action/sci-fi/comedy sequel it’s tough to do a great job in all aspects so while this isn’t great in any area this is good enough to be an amiable third movie in the series.  Josh Brolin’s performance was excellent and the hilight of the film.  As Bill points out they successfully add another element with the touching finish and it’s worth checking this movie out.

IMDB 

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Tommy Lee Jones in Men in Black 3

The Dictator

Bill C’s Review – 3 out of 5

Sacha Baron Cohen is at it again with another politically incorrect, raunchy comedy. If you don’t like Cohen’s type of movie there is no reason to read any further – this movie is not for you.

Instead of his fictional character roaming around in the real world, Cohen plays a dictator looking for love and trying to preserve his dictatorship in a totally fictional story.  Of course, everyone/everything is fair game to be mocked including our political system, race relations, dictators around the world, etc. This is not nearly as good as Borat but a little better than Bruno (which I thought was sort of mean-spirited).

This movie had a lot of very funny moments but also had a lot of misses. If you’re a Cohen fan, the hits will outnumber the misses and will make for an enjoyable night at the movies.

Bill I’s Review – 3 out of 5

I decided to count the “hits” to analyze exactly how much fun this movie is, and for me I had 63 LOL moments! That’s more than I could hope for, expecting maybe 12 times when I had to do more than smile but make laughing, guffawing and other shout-outs type sounds. Yes, many were spurred from one-liners, low brow scenes, skits that were crammed into the story plot (e.g. tourist helicopter scene), but so what, isn’t that what made Woody Allen famous? Proud to note my fellow high school alum, David Mandel, is one of the writers (he was key writer on Seinfeld – remember “Man Hands”?, and now on Curb Your Enthusiasm). Keep the laughs coming!!!

IMDB

Rotten  Tomatoes

The Five-Year Engagement

Bill I’s Review – 3 out of 5

Quick review: pleasant, charming romantic comedy from Judd Apotow’s production group, co-written by, and co-starring, Jason Segal. Emily Blunt plays Jason’s fiance, and for various reasons their engagement is delayed, then endangered then concluded in a way I won’t give away here. Some very funny moments, and some typical plot twists. I love both of these actors, but after having recently viewed Her Sister’s Sister, where Emily Blunt also plays a similar role, where her best friend and her take years to cement their relationship, I see that The Five-Year Engagement plays it too safe and comes across as too predictable. Her Sister’s Sister is more exciting, more outrageous fun moments, and ultimately a more satisfying ending. The most obvious common thread of these two films is Emily Blunt. Her amazing ability to act without appearing to be acting, and often appear to be improvising, is enhanced by her likability and charm, and goofy laugh, making it believable that these guys fall in love with her and stay in love after years and various travails. My advice: wait until Her Sister’s Sister comes out (I saw  it at Tribeca Film Fest).

Bill C’s Review – 2.5 out of 5

I thought this movie was ok but it didn’t live up to my expectations from Jason Segal and Judd Apatow (producer). I was hoping for another Forgetting Sarah Marshall (since Segal wrote that too) but I didn’t think The Five-Year Engagement was nearly as funny. As Bill points out, the film was very predictable and, while you would expect tension between the couple in a romantic comedy, there was so much here that I would have been ok if they didn’t get together at the end. I also thought the ending was a little too cutesy (is ‘cutesy’ a technical movie review term?).

The movie did have some good moments and I thought the best performance was by Chris Pratt (from Parks and Recreation) in a supporting role.

IMDB

Rotten Tomatoes

The Five Year Engagement trailer Jason Segel and Emily Blunt star in The Five Year Engagement trailer

The Pirates! Band of Misfits

Bill C’s Review – 3.5 out of 5

You can’t go wrong with a movie from the Claymation experts from Aardman Studios.  These are the same guys who produced the Wallace and Gromit films and Chicken Run. Claymation has now been replaced by CGI, but this movie still has the same look and feel as the earlier films. The Pirates! is set in the 1800s, and the hapless Pirate Captain (voiced by Hugh Grant) is once again trying to win the coveted Pirate of the Year award. Things look bleak until the pirates board Charles Darwin’s boat. As typical for an Aardman animated film, there’s plenty of ridiculous mayhem, characters. trivia, and background activity to keep all ages entertained. While I didn’t think The Pirates! was quite as good as the Wallace and Gromit shorts (the shorts are all hilarious) or movie, this latest film is entertaining for both kids and adults.

Note: I saw the 3D version and didn’t think it added much.

  IMDB

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The Three Stooges

Bill I’s Review – 3 out of 5

A short review should suffice here: Were you a fan of the original 3 Stooges? If yes, you will enjoy this tribute, which replicates the original characters perfectly, as well as their stunts with sound effects and stupidity to perfection. And while you’re at it, check out this bit from the genius Billy West who did this for the Howard Stern show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aW7r-wzwqGY

If you did not appreciate Moe, Larry and Curly and their hijinks, then clearly you should (first chill out) pass on this film. I loved it!

I should consider those of the younger generation, guys mainly: go and experience what the funniest movie actors ever have created, first by seeing this movie, then  by watching the reruns. If you’re in college, see it with your buddies.

Damsels In Distress

Bill C’s Review – 3 out of 5

Damsels In Distress is reminiscent of movies like Clueless, Heathers, and Mean Girls in that they all focus on female cliques in school  but that is where any similarities end. This is a quirky, silly comedy about a group of girls at a fictional northeastern college. Led by Violet (Greta Gerwig), the girls try to improve life on campus and rid it of depression. The comedy comes from the quirky and absurd dialogue and the fact that the girls seem to be leftovers from another era (maybe the 50s or 60s). Their solution to depression is dancing (Tap and the-hoped for new dance craze ‘ Sambola’) and good-smelling soap. But the girls run into issues with the men on campus and Violet needs to deal with her own issues. Like the movie, the performances are a little on the quirky side as well, but the leads, Greta, Carrie Maclemore, Megalyn Echikunwoke and Analeigh Tipton are all entertaining.

This film is written and directed by Whit Stillman, his first movie since 1998’s The Last Days of Disco, and he makes a decent return to directing. This movie could have been about 10 minutes shorter and seemed a little rough around the edges, but overall I enjoyed it and am ready to dance the Sambola!  If you like weird/quirky, consider seeing this. Otherwise, you should pass.

IMDB

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Still of Megalyn Echikunwoke, Greta Gerwig and Carrie MacLemore in Damsels in Distress

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

Bill I’s Rating – 3.5 out of 5

Some reviewers called this a terrible title, but at least it’s accurate. What would be an alternative: “When Ascerbic Civil Servant met Hot Lawyer”? or “Faith and Hope beat Science”? or most likely “Swimming Upstream”. So yes, this is a story of a rich sheikh who’s so into fly fishing in his Scotland estate that he decides to create a dam in the Yemen desert, which would create a stream of water that he can dump 10,000 salmon in, hope they swim upstream and his countrymen can discover the joy of fishing. Since money brings power, he has an upscale London law firm (with the lovely Emily Blunt as his personal advisor) make it happen, including obtaining the services of aforementioned ascerbic civil servant scientist (perfect Ewan McGregor), and aided by ultra hyper-political HR flack for the Prime Minister (wonderful Kristin Scott Thomas, watch her try to manage/bully/mother her kids). Side stories are Ewan’s cold, controlling wife, and Emily’s soldier boyfriend sent to Afghanistan. The Shiekh is like a handsome Yoda, spouting wisdom through a sly grin, while truly experiencing the joys of casting his fly and patiently waiting for a bite. Don’t worry, the viewers actually never have to wait longer than about 20 seconds for these guys to catch a big one. I wonder how much film ended up on the digital cutting room floor waiting for the right fish to come along. These salmon personify the true meaning of an extra, I guess. The whole project is a rich man’s fantasy and obsession, that in retrospect reminds me of Donald Trump for some reason, with his apprentices kowtowing to his every wish. Overall, a very pleasant, enjoyable viewing experience. I recommend it, if you want an alternative to American Reunion this weekend!

Bill C’s Review – 3 out of 5

My wife was disappointed because she was expecting a documentary about salmon fishing. But I enjoyed this romantic comedy from director Lasse Hallstrom. Emily Blunt recruits Ewan McGregor, playing the pre-eminent fishing expert in Britain, to help realize a Yemen Sheik’s dream to bring salmon fishing to the Yemen. This endeavor requires faith and at first McGregor is against the idea. But he goes along after meeting the charismatic sheik and beginning to enjoy Blunt’s company. Over time his faith grows in the project.

The dialogue and humor are good and for the most part this is an enjoyable, easygoing comedy. As with any good movie about salmon (A River Runs Through It), the metaphors run hot and heavy about having to go against the stream. At times the movie gets a little too serious and Hallstrom could have been a little more subtle in spots.

The performance were ok. I especially liked Kristin Scott Thomas and Amir Waked in supporting roles. While not great, overall it was an enjoyable evening at the movies (and my wife liked it too after getting over the disappointment that I hadn’t taken her to a documentary).

IMDB – Salmon Fishing In The Yemen

Rotten Tomatoes – Salmon Fishing In The Yemen

Jeff Who Lives at Home

Bill I’s Review – 3 out of 5

I always felt that I could watch Jason Segel do almost anything in a film, and this film takes the concept to the extreme, as most of what he does is hang around waiting for a sign from the universe so he can direct his life, beyond smoking weed in his mother’s basement. He kept my attention, so I also waited for a sign for something to happen in this movie. Meanwhile, the wonderful Ed Helms (great in The Hangover) and Judy Greer keep things interesting. Susan Sarandon plays the put upon sensible mother of the guys (yes, they’re mismatched brothers), stuck in an office cubicle. No spoiler here, but Jason finally takes action and the multiple plots come to a satisfying conclusion. I felt proud to have identified Rae Dawn Chong, since I don’t remember noticing her in a movie in the past 25 years. The Duplass brothers directed and wrote this, as they did the wonderfully quirky Cyrus. Overall, it’s an enjoyable (short at 83 minutes, all the action happens in one day) quirky film that beats most Hollywood big budget movies in my book.

Bill C’s Review – 3 out of 5

The Duplass brothers are my second favorite writing/directing/producing brother duo (behind the Coen Brothers and ahead of the Farrelly brothers).     All three are into comedy (although the Coen brothers make great movies in other genres too) and both the Coen and Duplass brothers do make very quirky comedies. Are there other film making brothers I’ve forgotten about?

It’s pretty boring when I totally agree with Bill but I do here.  I thought the movie got off to a slow start but picked up a lot when Jeff got out of the house and started interacting more with the other cast members.  Jason Segel and Ed Helms are perfect for the Duplass brothers mumblecore style of film making.   In the end this is a good comedy about people dealing with their emotional problems and a satisfying conclusion.

I even agreed with Bill about Rae Dawn Chong (Tommy Chong’s daughter). According to IMDB she has been steadily employed for the last 30 years  but the movie I remember her from was 1981s  Quest for Fire.

IMDB – Jeff, Who Lives At Home

Rotten Tomatoes – Jeff, Who Lives At Home

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