Here Today (2021)

Quick Synopsis: Comedy writer Charlie Burns (Billy Crystal) forms a friendship with local singer Emma Payge (Tiffany Haddish) and starts depending on her more and more as he begins to suffer from the effects of dementia.

What is it with 2021? Normally you get a film about dementia every few years. This year there’s been three. Annoyingly, all three have been really good but in different ways. The Father dealt with the frustration of being deep into it, the confusion and panic that causes and the absolute hell that is daily life for not just the person suffering, but also the close family members. Supernova was based on the fear of knowing what’s coming, and wanting to exit it before it happens. Also the fear of loved ones watching it happening. This? This was different. This was more about coming to terms with it yourself and trying to hide it from others out of some misguided sense of pride.

All three have had one really important similarity: the performers are all a certain type, they all play people who are normally in control of the room. Anthony Hopkins normally plays people who are in control of situations. Stanley Tucci normally plays people who are smarter than everybody. And Billy Crystal normally plays characters who’s minds are quicker than everybody else, so they always have a quip ready for any situation. I’m not sure if the casting implications were intentional or not but it’s brilliant either way as it means we see them out of their comfort zone.

As an audience member I have a strange view of Billy Crystal, I never really seek out things he does. But I will always be glad to watch something he’s in. He’s clearly got a great comedic mind that never feels like bullying. His voice runs through this film, not just because he’s in it (obviously), but he also co-wrote and directed it. It’s not just about him. He’s confident enough as a writer and a performer that he allows others to take the spotlight. In this that shared spotlight goes to Tiffany Haddish, who I’ve seen before in Keanu, Lego Movie 2, and The Kitchen. She does a great job here, her character could be annoying and unlikeable if played by someone else. She provides her with enough humanity and warmth that even when she is doing incredibly cliche things, it works and you love her.

That is a downside of this film. It occasionally feels like you’ve seen a lot of it before. You will know what’s happening before it happens most of the time. But that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable because the way they do it is still great. It’s like a rollercoaster, just because you can see the track coming up doesn’t make it any less enjoyable.

There are a few moments where it feels like the film is slightly going off the rails and it has a chaotic energy that really wakes you up. There’s one scene in particular which stands out, when Crystal’s character interrupts a live recording of a TV show he works for to chastise the performers delivery. It’s genuinely hilarious and the reaction from it gives you a very warm feeling. It’s a scene that’s really needed as it closes off one of the running jokes, and it’s also the last big laugh scene of the movie. After that it gets very serious. You need that comedic high before you go to the depressing lows, it accentuates both beautifully. When this film hits, it hits hard. Part of that is because of how funny it is, the mood whiplash the film provides is perfect.

This is not a perfect film though, the plot is a little bit too predictable at times, and the moment where he has a “moment” at work in front of colleagues is never really followed up on enough. It felt like they couldn’t think of a good way to carry on that story, but ignoring it means that a huge part of his life and character is ignored, and it would have been nice to see how the cast react to the news. Either they’re told, and we get to see their concern or worry. Or they just get told he’s gone away, and we see how they react to that. As it is it’s just dropped and forgotten.

There are also moments where it seems to be veering into rom-com territory, which is just strange to watch and doesn’t really work. It works better when they focus on the friendship and don’t bother with the romantic side (which they don’t up dealing with anyway).

Is still a really good watch though. The writing is brilliant, as are the performers. I now want to see Louisa Krause in more things, there’s something of the Helen Hunt about her and she is just incredibly loveable in her role as his deceased ex-wife. Her scenes are a good example of the best and worst of the film. The flashbacks are all from his POV. It’s a brave move that takes some getting used to but it makes sense, it’s his memory so that’s how he’ll remember it. It really puts you in his shoes. Sadly she has an appearance at the end which doesn’t really work for me. Crystals character goes to a cabin they shared, he’s there with his family being all cosy and facing the future, and gets a vision of her sitting nearby. I get what they were going for but it didn’t really work for me and just seemed a little silly. Would have been better if it dissolved from him and his family there, to him and her there in the past talking about the future. Would have given the film a moment of visual beauty, which it doesn’t really have enough of (the beauty mainly coming through character moments).

The section leading up to that shot is great though. His family being told about his condition, and the instant 180 from “we hate him” to “he’s our dad and we need him, we can’t have our final interaction be what it was” is believable and is genuinely making me tear up just recalling it here. That’s what this film leaves me with. Not the dull final shot, but the emotion the whole thing made me feel. Truly beautiful and I highly recommend it (plus the ending is made up for by Haddish doing a Bob Dylan cover, which I truly didn’t expect).

People Just Do Nothing: Big In Japan (2021)

Quick Synopsis: Years after they split, Kurupt FM find out one of their songs is being used on a game show in Japan, so head out to sign a record deal.

I watched the series last year, which was almost the perfect time in preparation for this film as it meant I still had to wait for it, so I still got the anticipation, but I didn’t have to wait very long for it so a lot of it was still in my mind. The show occupies a certain section in my mind reserved for sitcoms where I enjoy watching it, I recommend it to people, but I couldn’t pick an episode to watch to suggest to people. I was quite excited about this, but also slightly worried it wasn’t happening. All I knew about it was the basic plot, and it was due out in August of this year. As the year went on I was slightly concerned that I hadn’t heard anything, and then the trailer came out and I was relieved, it was happening, and I knew I was going to see it.

I was still slightly concerned about the quality though, film adaptations have a somewhat mixed history. They’re tricky to pull off as if you make them the same as the show then it can seem pointless, but if you make them too big in comparison, then you risk losing the essence of what the show real. The standard fix for this is just “send them on holiday”. I feel the measurement for success or failure for this depends on one aspect: the side characters. If you have too many background characters “just happen” to join them then it seems unrealistic, one or two is okay though.

The way they’ve done it in here makes sense, other than the main group only two other cast members go with them. One is their manager who pays for it himself so he doesn’t feel left out, the other is the wife of one of the group members, who invites herself. Both of those make a lot of sense for those characters to do so it doesn’t seem out of place.

This film is bigger than the show, it feels slightly more professional and slick, but only slightly. It’s not suddenly turned into a 3 camera sitcom with incredible lighting and sound. It still has the feeling of a guy following them with a camera. The characters haven’t changed too much either, they’re still the lovably unlovable slightly pathetic people we know and don’t love but enjoy watching. The new characters slide perfectly into the ensemble cast too. Although for one of them you are left wondering whether he is actually trying to make them fail, and if so, why because he’s spending all that money? It would have made more sense if the group was pushed upon them by a manager who he is trying to get fired, so he’s pretending to be doing all he can whilst doing things he know will cause the group harm.

I’m not sure how this will hit for people who didn’t like the show. I think they’ll still enjoy it. The film does enough to signpost who the characters are that you won’t feel lost. Actually now thinking about it I think there are times where they actually repeat jokes from the series. But that makes sense in context as not every conversation you have with someone is brand new, you do say the same things to multiple people at times, so it’s okay if that happens in the series, it’s not like they’re having the exact same “wacky coincidences” happen. They still make you laugh a lot.

Now onto the downsides: it does still feel “funny” but nothing else. As much as I did enjoy it, I’m in no rush to go out and watch it again. It’s standard popcorn/time filler, that’s all you get from it. Sometimes that’s what you need though. It would be a shame if this was how the series ended because there is still a lot of potential left in these characters. But I also wouldn’t complain if this was the end. It’s pretty much a “the end…..or is it?” to the series, leaving it open for more, but providing closure if that’s what’s needed.

How To Deter A Robber (2021)

Quick Synopsis: A young couple (played by Vanessa Marano and Benjamin Papac) face off against a pair of burglars in Wisconsin.

I was interested by this. The concept seemed fun and the trailer? Well my reaction to the trailer was to send someone a link to it and say “this looks like it will be made or ruined by the pacing and directing”. The concept seemed wacky and fun, but the way the trailer was edited made it look weirdly slow-paced. The concept was crime-comedy, but the directing seemed Napoleon Dynamite. It’s a weird mix that doesn’t really seem suited. That was just the trailer though, there was always a chance the actual film would be the opposite.

It’s not. This film is dreadfully slow. It seems like a short film unnaturally stretched out. There are moments here which add nothing and a lot of this film is kind of tedious. You have a lot of the film just setting the plot up, and it doesn’t really do a good job of that. Part of that is that it’s not needed, there are quicker and better ways of setting up what it sets up. It doesn’t help that the situation doesn’t develop naturally. The plot drives the characters actions, their motivations solely being “we need this to happen so the plot can develop”. Chief among this is the “inciting incident” where they think their neighbours house is being robbed, so they break in, and then…….do a séance? Okay then. That’s something believable. They fall asleep and wake up to the house having been robbed. It doesn’t make character sense, and it wasn’t really needed. They could have had the same end result if they just went to the house and found it robbed. The only way this would have changed the plot is would have had to think of another reason for them to move to their uncles house (at the moment they do so because they’re under suspicion of being the robbers because they’re the ones who phoned the police, which is obviously what robbers do after they burgle a house). It’s unnatural and overly written, and there doesn’t seem to be much of a reason for them staying that nearby if they think they’re in danger. Considering it’s a snowy area they could have just gone with “snow is too heavy” and would have saved time. Plus it would have made the most of the gorgeous setting, something it only really does in the closing stretch. Maybe it’s because Bissell is used to those visuals that she doesn’t realise just how beautiful it has the potential to be. She sees those kind of things all the time so they’re standard to her, but to the rest of the world it’s something new and exciting, and I wish it used it more.

The set-up to the robbery itself is also pretty funny too, when they duct-tape a knife to a roomba, when they get nervous about handling guns etc. It all feels incredibly real. It does still have a few moments where the film is sitting around waiting for the plot to start, but it’s mostly good.

And then the robbery itself starts. And it’s here where the quality of the writing and directing really shines and we get a better idea of what Maria Bissell is really capable of when she’s at her best. It’s slick, smart, and funny as hell. It’s just a shame that doesn’t start to happen until halfway through the runtime. It’s a shame as when the film is good, it’s incredible. Like I said, the robbery itself is a delight to watch (that sounds wrong). If the film was just that, it would have been one of the best things I’ve seen all year. The characters are at their best, and we’re introduced to the robbers themselves, one of whom is played by Abbie Cobb. I’m not too familiar with her work but she is incredible. There’s something of the Anna Kendrick in the way she plays her and I would love to see her do more stuff. The writing is at it’s best here too, the dialogue has a natural flow to it which really makes the situation seem real.

So in summary, see this film, but you don’t need to pay too much attention for the first half of it. As a directorial feature debut, this is incredible and shows a lot of promise. It’s just when it’s compared to other films that it seems to lack, maybe that’s unfair but it’s really the only way you can do it. It has made me want to see what Bissell does next as she’s obviously incredibly talented and has the potential to one day do my favourite film, it’s just she hasn’t quite managed that yet.

Thunder Force (2021)

Let’s face it, there was always a chance this was going to be awful (and the fact I’m using that as an opening line is an indication as to my feelings about this film), I mean, let’s look at the evidence:

  • Direct to netflix
  • No marketing
  • Nobody is talking about it
  • Melissa McCarthy.

Now I don’t hate McCarthy, I just heavily dislike a lot of her characters. I think that’s the most frustrating thing about her. She can be really good, but then there are times where it seems like she’s phoning it in and attempting to go as broad as possible, and when she’s doing that it’s normally not a good thing to watch. The things is, I can’t tell whether that’s entirely down to her, or just the characters. Is there a way to make some of her worse characters likeable in any way? Is it her performances damning the characters, or is it the characters damning the performance? Until somebody does a shot-for-shot remake of one of her films, replacing only her, we will never know.

For this? I feel it’s the writing that lets her down. Someone can only do so much with the material they’re given. You can’t give someone rancid vegetables and then expect them to be able to make a great dinner out of them. And this film is almost entirely composed of a soggy lettuce of a script, mouldy tomatoes of dialogue, and bitter salad dressing of effort. And this all combines to the worst salad you have ever eaten. I may have lost the metaphor a bit. The croutons of concept was pretty good though.

A big problem with this film is how immediately dated it feels. It came out this year and yet feels like a relic from the 90s. This is seen in not just the way it treats superheroes, but also some of the humour. Some of the jokes are basically the main character bullying someone, but it’s okay as they’re socially awkward. That really doesn’t work with this kind of character. You can’t do a “main character makes fun of this socially awkward person” and then have her be the standard bad McCarthy character who ignores social cues. You don’t get to deliver the lines “beam me up scotty beep boop bop” and “i speaken ze english” then make fun of what others say. It just makes the character seem like a hypocritic asshole.

Now back to how it treats superheroes. It doesn’t feel like this film has realised that they’ve moved on since the Bat-toys and Robin Nuggets Happy Meal days of the 90’s. Comic books have always had mature themes, dating back to the horror comics that were essential in establishing them as a form of media, all the way through to Watchmen, and even modern classics like Clean Room (maybe not considered a classic by most people, but it really fucking should be). Even the traditional comics have had storylines with mature themes. But despite that, the general consensus of them was “people in brightly coloured tights being silly” because that’s what was presented in mainstream depictions and how it was defined in other media. But with the Dark Knight Trilogy, Logan, and the MCU, everybody knows that comic books have moved beyond that now. Very few people view superheroes in the same way as they did in the past. In fact I’d argue it’s the opposite, and if a comic book movie DOESN’T deal with genocide, existential angst, and other mature themes, then people deride it.

You may have noticed I haven’t technically talked about the film that much in this review (in fact, you could be forgiven for forgetting this was a review at all, and not just the random ramblings of someone who takes this kind of shit far too seriously), but if the film was better, I’d talk about it. This film is nothing, it’s a bowl of unflavoured tofu, but with food colouring to make you think it’s more than it is. There’s something I think was supposed to be a twist, but was so obvious to anybody who has ever seen a movie. The visuals are nothing to write home about and the film makes some, let’s call them questionable choices in regards to music. Most notably, choosing just after what was supposed to be an emotional scene, to play AC/DC, so even if you were emotionally effected by it, it lasted no more than 2 seconds.

Really I can only recommend this film for the performances of Taylor Mosby and Jason Bateman. Even Octavia Spencer doesn’t shine in this movie, that’s how weak the script is.

Bill And Ted Face The Music (2020)

Yeah I love this film series, I love it so much I’ve even read the comics (I didn’t buy them, I’m not mad). I get they’re not the best films in the world, and I will still argue they didn’t deserve a passing grade for their history presentation (they didn’t do anything, they got the historical figures to do all the work). But there’s just something so damn wholesome about the whole thing. The characters are dedicated to each other, and to their partners. Seriously, across three movies they are never tempted to be led astray in their relationships, it’s so comforting.

So does that continue now? In a world where they are trying to make dark and gritty superman movies, is there really space for a Bill And Ted movie? Or will it just seem out of place, a relic of a bygone age that the modern cynical world will just laugh at?

Of course it works. Of course there’s still space for lightness and stupidity, in fact in times like this you could argue it’s essential. We need this movie. We need a movie devoid of cynicism, that we can just watch and enjoy ourselves for the duration of. In my review of Brahms: The Boy 2 (worst title ever btw) I mentioned that it seemed like nobody involved gave a shit, that’s definitely not the case here. I’m not saying this is definitely the case, but it seems like this role is the one that Keanu Reeves has some of the most love for. Despite The Matrix, John Wick, etc, this is the most comfortable you see him, it’s like he’s having the time of his life. Alex Winter, too, is relishing this role. The way the two perform it’s like they’ve lived these characters constantly since the last film. It doesn’t feel like they’re performing, it feels like they are.

The supporting cast is great too. I still can’t tell the difference between Samara Weaving and Margot Robbie, but that’s more my fault than theirs. There are two great surprise performers though.

One, I suspected would be the case from the trailer. Brigette Lundy-Paine, NAILS their part as Ted’s daughter, completely. I don’t know how much research they did into the part, but they got the mannerisms down 100%. You completely buy them as related and I really want to see them do more stuff. One that did surprise me, was Anthony Carrigan as a killer robot sent from the future. I’d only seen him before as Victor Zsasz in the Gotham TV series, so when I saw he was playing a robot assassin in this film I thought I knew what to expect. I won’t spoil his character here, but trust me you have to see it as it provides some of the funniest moments in the film.

Now onto the negatives: it doesn’t do quite as much with the general concept as it could. One of the highlights of the first one was seeing them use time travel to their advantage (when it comes to hiding keys etc). You don’t get any of that smartness in here which is a shame. Also, there’s an extended musician performance which I feel will really date this movie in a few years time.

So in summary, please see this, it’s wonderful and you’ll enjoy it.

Palm Springs (2020)

I went into this pretty blind. I knew it existed, I knew Andy Samberg was in it, and I knew the poster. The first minute or so were pretty much as I expected: he wakes up and has sex (attempts to) with his partner the morning of a wedding.

Then it gets weird. He seems a little too bored, a little too like he knows exactly what is going to happen at all times. There’s a reason for that, he’s in a Groundhog Day situation and has lived this day multiple times. The good thing about this is the film drops just enough hints that if you’re paying attention you can figure it out before it’s revealed. Before the reveal it is kind of a standard romcom, and then he gets shot by someone who hates him because he caused him to go through the loop too.

So yeah, the opening section sets in stone the notion that this is not a typical romcom. It has far more jokes about suicide than the typical romcom (well, the typical romcom not written by me, at least). It also has a much darker undertone than it appears. He brings up how he behaves knowing nothing has consequences, bringing up the fact that it doesn’t matter if other people don’t remember, you do. So if you do something awful, you will be haunted by it. As he says

“Being a source of terror is not fun and it’s not fulfilling, I know from experience”

That one line gives us so much potential backstory to that character. It hints that he went through a stage where he killed people, where he viciously tortured those who annoyed him (and considering he knows his girlfriend is cheating on him, that gives us some VERY dark possibilities). I love that it hints at that backstory, but never shows us. It gives us the impression that the characters have lives outside of this film, these characters and this world seem real (except the random dinosaurs).

This film does so much right, the performances are all spot on, and overloaded with unsaid character motivations and beliefs. Everybody is on top form, it doesn’t have as many comedian cameos as you think it would. Truth be told I only remember recognising three of the cast members, but even the “unknowns” do their job incredibly well, all meshing together to form a cohesive unit. I firmly believe this may be one of the best ensemble casts I’ve seen in a long time, not a single weak link.

Now the downsides: visually it doesn’t really do much. There is some impressive stunt work in it, but the location itself never feels as paradisiacal as you feel it could. I don’t know whether it’s set design, or directing, but the location itself doesn’t “pop” as much as you feel it should. Also I feel the music could be better, I can’t remember a single song from this film, and considering it’s a summer-based horror-comedy that’s a disappointment. Also some of the montages aren’t quite fun enough. There are some moments where they’re genuinely sweet and funny, but then there are others where they just feel kind of standard. Overall though, well worth a watch. If you have a hulu account (or have a friend with one), it’s on there so you should definitely check it out on there.

The Lovebirds (2020)

Earlier this year I reviewed Fantasy Island, and in that review I said “the”,which was probably the only word I used in the review which wasn’t insulting it. It’s time to admit there was something good from that film, before it I had the trailer for this. If it wasn’t for that I wouldn’t know about it, which would be a shame.

I mean, it’s also a shame that this film got put on netflix, it would have been nice to see this in the cinema (and I get the feeling I’ll be saying that A LOT this year), as I feel it deserves that.

It’s not the best film in the world, but it is pretty solid with nothing to truly hate about it. The characters are well-written and all their decisions make sense, even when they are stupid decisions they have a certain logic to them.

The core of this film is the central relationship between Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae (while we’re on the subject; how refreshing is it to see a film like this being lead by two non-white performers and not have that being their defining character trait?). This film does the smartest thing I’ve seen in a while in how it shows their relationship, it shows them first meeting and awkwardly flirting, and then cuts to years later when the relationship is in turmoil. The fact we see them happy means that we are invested in their relationship as we know what they can be together, otherwise we’d just be sitting there screaming “FFS just end it”, but because we know how happy they can be, we want them to work it out, and you need that. Trust me, you do need that, because the break-up scenes hit HARD. Much much harder than you’d expect a film like this to. You genuinely feel like both characters are a single comment away from a complete breakdown. Whether it’s criticising their work on documentaries “documentaries are reality shows that nobody watches”, or their personality types. When they argue, they aim low, and it’s painful to see (in a good way).

Now onto the actual story, about them attempting to uncover the truth behind a stranger getting in their car (who they think is a cop) and running someone over, repeatedly, to incredibly uncomfortable silence. Since it’s in their car, and they get found by two hipsters (one of whom takes a photo of the body, called it) who call the police “I’d like to report a murder or whatever”. They assume they’re going to be blamed for the murder, so run away and try to solve it themselves, all the while arguing. It’s not exactly the most original plot, but it is a lot of fun to watch. It does become original at the end though where the police say that they were never suspects, the original murder was caught on camera (obviously), and they just wanted to speak to them as they were witnesses. I like when films twist the common tropes like that, it was also done well in Keanu where the main characters were arrested because despite being innocent of murder, they still broke a lot of laws trying to clear their name.

So should you see this? Well it’s on netflix so you really should. The director’s previous film was The Big Sick, and whilst it’s nowhere near as good as that, it is still worth a watch.

My Spy (2020)

I mentioned in my review of Stuber last year my hope that this would be the film that causes Batista to go from “oh yeah, that guy” to “THE guy”. Sadly that’s not the case. This film is predictable, the villains are SEVERELY underdeveloped, and a lot of the actions of the characters don’t make any sense if you think about it for more than a minute. It’s also REALLY fun and well worth a watch.

Yeah it has some flaws, but I seriously doubt you’ll regret watching it. It’s funny, sweet, and has enough unique parts to stand out. It sets its tone very early on with a hostage situation that turns into laugh out loud comedy, and a reference to Iron Man 2 (although if the MCU exists in this universe, who played Drax?), and then plays a car chase to foreign language covers of I Will Survive and My Heart Will Go On. It’s a cheap laugh, but it’s a laugh nonetheless. It’s also something you don’t really expect in this film, a bit like the high number of Notting Hill references compared to most comedy action films.

Now when I say “things that don’t make sense” they’re mainly character-based mistakes rather than impossibilities. For example he stands in front of a class and admits he’s a spy. Number one on the “list of things needed to be a good spy” would be “never mention you’re a spy” yet he never suffers any backlash from this. (Number two on the list, by the way, is “a preference for cheese sandwiches over ham”, I don’t know why that’s important, it just is.) It’s strange as he suffers for other things he do which aren’t spy-like, but not for this. It’s a very sweet moment, and incredibly funny, but like I said it doesn’t make that much sense. I mean, it is worth it for his description of his time in the service when he mentions killing people: “they were all terrorists, human traffickers, or really annoying”

One thing is made abundantly clear in this film: Batista is f*cking huge. You don’t normally notice it because he’s paired up against similarly muscled men. But when you see him standing against normal people, you realise he’s a massive human being. Like, scarily large.

So in summary I think you do need to see this. It’s not like “omg that was so smart and brilliant” but near the end they think a helicopters about to explode so she begs to do a slow cool-guy walk away from it. it doesn’t blow up so he throws a grenade at it so she can do it. How can you not love a film like that?

An American Pickle (2020)

I should have liked this. It’s a funny idea, and it’s something quirky and strange, I like strange. It just didn’t land with me, though. I went in not knowing what the story is, I came out and still didn’t really know, it goes through multiple ideas so quickly that it never really has an identity.

Essentially it’s about a guy who falls into a pickle vat and ends up being uncovered still alive 100 years later and you think the film is going to be about him adjusting to a modern age. Nope. He meets his great grandson who he hopes is a success, and you think it may be a family based drama about the two connecting, nope, although for the brief moment where it is that, it is superb. He finds a billboard in the graveyard where his family is buried and vows to get enough money to take it down. That storyline lasts about 20 minutes. He gets into an argument with his relative and starts selling pickles out of spite, becoming internet famous among hipsters. That is part of the previous story and is how he gets the money, so also doesn’t last that long. He goes on twitter and tweets offensive shit, which people love. He then slightly suggests running for President before offending Christians and having everybody hates him. That lasts about 5 minutes. He is about to get deported so makes up with his relative and the two try to smuggle him into Canada. That lasts about 10 minutes. He swaps places with his relative (they’re both played by Seth Rogan), so his great grandson gets deported to a place he doesn’t know. That storyline takes about 20 minutes, then the film ends.

It was first showcased on HBO’s streaming service, and it’s definitely a streaming movie. I would probably be more charitable towards it if I watched it online instead of cinema. As it is I just wish it was a TV show instead. If it was then each of those storylines I mentioned would have time to be fleshed out and breathe, they’d be able to develop into actual stories instead of just a collection of scenes.

It’s a shame, as Seth Rogen is great in it. Even when they are supposed to look exactly the same you can tell which one you’re looking at due to the way they carry themselves. It’s a testament to his talent that despite some characters being confused as to who is who, the audience never is. I would compliment the other actors, but most of them turn up, do a few scenes then are never heard from again as their story is dropped. So in summary, I’m not sure whether to recommend this. It had some good moments, but they were too fleeting to offer the film a full recommendation I’m afraid.

Fisherman’s Friends (2019)

This is not the greatest film I’ve seen, but it’s enjoyable. It’s the cinematic equivalent of a piece of toast (I compare films to food way more than most people do, I should look into that). By that, I mean that no matter how perfectly it does what it needs to, it will never be your favourite. It sticks to a formula, and as such is kind of restrained by that. You can guess almost every single plot point in this film from the opening 10 minutes. It won’t surprise you at all. But it doesn’t really need to, this is not a film to analyse and pore over, it’s a film to sit and distract yourself, and it does that well. The dialogue is razor sharp, the characters are loveable (and fully fleshed out, even the background ones have minor details to them which help you know them), and it will make you smile. The whole thing is just massively endearing and charming and, I don’t know, warm I guess is the word I’m looking for. You know how certain films have colours attached to them? I’d say this one is a warm sea blue. It’s just comforting and lovely, the kind of film the whole family gathers and watches on Christmas Day, in that post-dinner haze where you’re all too exhausted to move, and someone inevitably falls asleep in the sofa with their Christmas hat still on. It’s incredibly BBC, and I mean that as positive and a negative.

So yeah don’t go out of your way to watch this, but if (actually, when) it comes on iPlayer, watch it immediately.

The above made complete sense in relation to this film. Which is weird, as with the exception of 3 words, it was lifted word for word from an earlier review. That’s both the best and worst thing about about this film. It’s nice to have something familiar, even if it is something new. It’s comforting to not have to sit there wondering exactly what’s going to happen and to just be able to lose yourself in the dialogue and the characters. It’s nice to have something you can have on in the background and talk to people during. It’s good to have something you expect, and have it meet every expectation. But yeah it can be a bit annoying to have that. It can be slightly frustrating to feel you’ve already seen everything in it. I think my feelings would be a lot less forgiving if I had paid for this, I feel that about quite a few films, but this one in particular was received more warmly because it was free. I mean, it is enjoyable, incredibly so, it just never feels like it does more than exist. It doesn’t grab you. It does have James Purefoy looking like a West Country Wolverine though, so it gets a few points for that.