Home Sweet Home Alone (2021)

Quick Synopsis: Disney kills your childhood

When I look back on this year there will be a lot of trends I will think of in regards to film. 2021 was the year of female leads fucking shit up (The Columnist, I Blame Society), weird Nicholas Cage films (Pig, Prisoners Of The Ghostland, Willy’s Wonderland), and terrible sequels/remakes of things from the 80s/90s (Space Jam, Tom And Jerry, Coming 2 America). This belongs in the terrible sequels/remakes, but also fits another trend this year: I’ve watched A LOT more stuff online this year. Some have been brilliant, some have…..really not. I think this is the first year since I started this blog that the number of new releases I’ve watched at home has been bigger than the number I’ve seen at the cinema. That…….that kind of sucks to be honest. The advantage of watching at home though is that I get to make notes while watching it. This means that when I type up these incoherant rants I insist on calling reviews, that I can reference parts I otherwise would have forgotten. My notes while watching this? Well, they’re not really detailed. They’re just two sentences long:

  1. THAT’S NOT HOW PHYSICS WORKS!
  2. Just step to the side.

The thieves in this are idiots. There’s a moment where icicles are dropping from a roof as someone runs underneath them. If he stopped running then by the time he moved forward all the icicles would have already fallen, he’s really just walking into his own torment. I mean, it works cinematically because you might not realise that, but if you do, it ruins it. There’s another one where they walk on lego, instead of just, you know, sweeping it away. The worst “trap” is one that’s SOOOO stupid and unbelievable. He wakes up with VR goggles on which make him think he’s standing on the edge of a canyon in the middle of the day, instead of the reality which is he’s standing in a house in the middle of winter, in clothes that are covered in snow and soaking wet. Somehow this fools him, despite you know, him being able to feel his wet clothes clinging to him, him being cold, and there being no wind. I mean, I don’t want to be brag but I reckon that even if I closed my eyes I could tell if I was outside in summer or inside in winter in wet clothes. But some of us are just built different I guess.

But if you shut your brain off then it’s still funny, right? Well, no. The first two worked because you knew what Kevin was like, the film spent a lot of time with him so he was definitely the main character and you sympathised with him. This goes in the other direction, it gives the thieves a tragic back story. They are not looking for money or jewels, they think the kid stole something from them and they need to get it back because if they don’t then they will lose their house and end up thrown out on the street with their family. So we sympathise with them, a small part of us wants them to succeed because they’re obviously good people, and they’re scared of what will happen if they don’t get the thing back. This makes it less funny when you see them get set on fire or have snooker balls launched at their heads. Coupled with how damn annoying and brattish the kid is and it seems less “Christmas comedy” and more “Spoilt rich kid tortures poor people for his amusement”, it’s comedy, but only if you’re a rich sociopath who takes joy in the suffering of those less fortunate than you (Hi Donald, Boris, merry Christmas).

It’s a shame this is so bad as the cast is incredibly talented. It’s baffling that people as talented as this would be in a film this bad. It’s a massive disappointment, and one that I kind of expected.

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.

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (2020)

Well this was a shock. The character of Borat was thought to be dead, and for good reason; how can you trick someone when everybody knows who you are? Plus, what would it have to say? Didn’t it say everything it needed to say in the first movie?

So it was a genuine shock when they announced this film, not that it was being done, but that it had already been completed and was being released in a few weeks time. I love a surprise release, and they haven’t come more surprising than this.

What’s a bigger surprise is how easy it was for him to get people to say some really stupid shit. The character may be from Kazakhstan but the film is very reminiscent of Russia, in that it’s funny, until it very suddenly definitely isn’t. And it happens very quickly when he goes into a shop and asks whether one of the gas they sell will kill gypsys. The shop assistant replies that he needs to get the bigger one.

It gets much worse, with a scene late on in the film where he gets a festival full of people to sing that journalists should be executed, after choosing between that or injecting them with COVID. Oh yeah, this film mentions COVID, and brilliantly. COVID is the first pandemic in the age of mass misinformation, and the stuff that people say in this is shocking, but also not unexpected. Maybe that’s a weakness. A few years ago, someone saying that the leader of the opposition in America created a disease in China and then unleashed it on the world just to take down the president would seem insane. Today it’s actually US government policy. So how can it be possible to shock and surprise when stupidity and hate is the default setting of half the population?

Enter Rudy Giuliani, a guy who led New York through the aftermath of 9/11, and has since destroyed his reputation with, well just his general personality, although launching a fundraiser and asking guests to donate $9.11 probably didn’t help. In this film it’s not so much what he says, but what he does, he goes to a hotel room of young woman who is interviewing him, lays on her bed, and then he, well he fluffs himself. It’s incredibly creepy and is filmed in almost haunting silence, like you’re watching a slow-motion disaster. This was huge news, in that it made the actual news. On the downside this meant you knew it was going to happen, on the upside it means that there’s a slight chance (very slight) that Borat decided the election, weird.

What’s also weird is that this actually has a good plot(brilliant segue there, fucking seamless). It acknowledges the first film, and focuses on Borat living in shame and Kazakhstan being ashamed of him (which is very based in reality considering their reaction to the film), which causes him to have to go in disguise for this, travelling US with his daughter. Oh yeah, he has a daughter (Tutar, played expertly by Maria Bakalova), and truth be told she provides some of the most shocking moments. Not only the aforementioned Rudy moment, but she swallows a plastic baby from top of a cupcake and goes to get an abortion, saying her dad put it inside her. To which the doctor tries to talk her out of having an abortion because America.

She also provides a lot of the emotional weight. Particularly when a babysitter (Jeanise Jones), is genuinely shocked and tries her best to help Tutar. She’s not scripted, her initial behaviour was to help this poor woman, that’s her genuine human nature, and it’s wonderful to see it in this film. Obviously people agree, as they raised $150,000 for her. I think that’s thee important message of this film, and I don’t know where it was intentional or not. But when rich white guys are dicks to people, there will always be others there who are looking to help. Whether it’s a black babysitter who is concerned for Tutar, a young white girl who calls her own father out on being a creepy bastard, there will always be kindness in the world, you just need to find it. There’s a moment where Borat goes to commit suicide by hugging a Jew (it makes sense in context) and ends up having a beautiful conversation with a holocaust survivor. Keep in mind he enters the synagogue dressed in what can only be described as “Jewface”, dressed head to toe in hate. And this woman, who has seen what this hate leads to, she approaches him without hesitation and gives him a hug. It’s stunningly beautiful and incredibly heartwarming. Sacha Baron Cohen obviously thought the same as he actually broke character and told her that he was just playing a character.

The most beautiful moment comes at the very end, and I’m not entirely sure if it’s Sacha Baron Cohen as himself, or as Borat. He tells Tutar (or Maria), “you were amazing”. It makes sense in the film to be said by Borat, but he says it in Hebrew, which makes me think it was Cohen. It’s…..it’s beautiful. And weirdly, that’s what I’ll remember from this film, the love. And I NEVER thought I’d say that coming into this.

Downhill (2020)

I saw a trailer for this somewhere, can’t remember where, and it should have been a warning to me that I couldn’t remember anything from the trailer besides the movie exists. I couldn’t even remember that Will Ferrell was in it. I knew Julia Louis-Dreyfus was in it, so I considered that a good thing as I genuinely love her performances and am always happy to see her in things. It was directed by Jim Rash, who played the Dean in Community, who co-wrote it alongside Jesse Armstrong, famous for Peep Show, Veep, The Thick Of It, Four Lions, and In The Loop, all of which are wonderfully scripted. So while hopes weren’t high, I did hold out hope that this would be a sleeper hit.

It’s not, it’s just asleep. It’s incredibly lazy, some of the jokes are basically just “Europeans are weird” (bit weird that’s the second Will Ferrell film of 2020 that can be said about). It’s a shame as everybody involved is incredibly talented, but none of them show it in this. If I had to guess I’d say it’s a clash of comedic styles. Will Ferrell normally does quite loud and physical comedy which is slightly obvious and manic, whereas Julia Louis-Dreyfus goes for slightly more dialogue-focused and subdued stuff (her most extreme physical stuff probably being a few Elaine moments in Seinfeld). And Armstrong’s strength is usually dialogue and story, the film is a remake so he doesn’t have control of the story, and Will Ferrell is more physical than dialogue based. That creates a very weird mesh of conflicting styles that never seems to settle on what it wants the film to be.

It’s hard to explain why, but this film felt incredibly small, like a TV movie, albeit with a big name cast. Watching it, you can almost sense the advert breaks. It’s not just that, it’s the tone too. Nothing hits home. The emotional beats don’t work, the characters feel incredibly ill defined, I think one of the kids is written to be incredibly nervous, but it’s not showcased effectively enough for it to be something that character can overcome for narrative purposes. A lot of the side characters are pointless too, appearing just to drive the plot forward for a small moment, then disappearing.

It’s a shame as by all logic this should be a fantastic film, as it is, I can’t recommend it, even as a curiosity.

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.

Parasite (2019)

I hadn’t even seen a trailer for this before I watched it, but I knew it was supposed to be really good. All I really knew was that it was a South Korean film, and it was VERY good. I don’t think I’ve watched a South Korean film before so I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of cinematic culture. South Korean or Japanese (and yes, I know they’re distinctly different but this point does apply to both so stay with me) films tend not to make much of an impact on the western world unless they are one of the following two things:

  1. Incredibly fucked up.
  2. Animated

So when I heard the buzz this was getting I imagined it to have a really fucked up twist somewhere. I think that somewhat hindered my enjoyment of the film, I kept waiting for a twist that wasn’t going to happen, which was especially damaging because there were a few points where I sensed it approaching it and thought “okay now it’s happening”. Really that’s the main issue I had with this film. That’s quite telling that the main issue I had with this film was basically my own idiocy, if the Oscars gave a shit about horror films then the best actress nominations from the last few years would have been a lot more interesting.

The film itself is nothing like what I was expecting. Like I said, it’s a South Korean film called Parasite and it has a seemingly perfect rich family with something hidden in their basement, so you can see why it took me so long to get used to it not meeting my expectations. It’s actually kind of a nice film. It’s about a family. Yup, that’s all you’re getting. They con their way into all working for the same family. The scenes where we see them do that are pretty damn good; brilliantly edited and paced, very reminiscent of a heist movie. There are a few surprises later on, but really you’re not here for the shocks and twists, you’re here for the experience. On that note, I doubt you’ll see another film like it. On the downside, the satirical nature of it may be a bit too subtle. On the bright side this means more people will watch it, but (and I recognise this is personal opinion) I prefer my satire to bite a bit harder. That’s not a slight against the film, it’s just a personal preference. The final scenes do have to be seen though, incredibly heartbreaking and with just a slight touch of hopelessness that overwhelms you, I love it. So yeah go see it, it’s funny, warm, and features a dog eating sausages next to a corpse.

Jumanji: The Next Level (2019)

Film reviews can be many things: they can be an analysis of the techniques used, a discussion on the relevance of the film subject in a modern world, or even a way to showcase hidden depths within a media some might think of as shallow. Well, professional reviews are anyway, with me, they are basically a long pretentious way to answer one question: Should I see this movie?

With this, I’d say yes, with a but (lol, I said “butt”). I’d see the second one first, if you didn’t like that, you won’t like this (but also, what the hell is wrong with you?), if you like it, you’ll like this. It has the same flaws and brilliance. I found my mini-review of it (before I started doing a review of every cinema film) in which I said this:

“Holy hell this was a lot of fun. I think I actually might prefer it to the original. Got some of the loudest and most consistent laughs from other people in the audience out of any film I’ve seen.

+The performances. All the main characters are basically avatars of other characters. So they have to be played the same way the original characters are (think the scene in Harry Potter where Hermione pretends to be Bellatrix, like that, throughout the entire film). Not the easiest thing to do, but they all do it really well. Jack Black, in particular, makes a fantastic teenage girl, and Karen Gillans “no idea how to flirt” scene was hilarious.

-The entire film you can’t escape the feeling that you miss Robin Williams”

Okay I was kind of wrong with “the performances” part. Yes, Jack Black and Karen Gillan were great, but Kevin Hart was just playing himself, and The Rock didn’t throw himself into it as much as you felt he could have. They completely fix that with this, you occasionally have to remember that that actually is The Rock, and he hasn’t actually been possessed by Danny DeVito. Same with Kevin Hart and Danny Glover; Kevin Hart completely nails Danny Glover’s mannerisms and demeanour.

The addition of DeVito and Glover to the cast takes some getting used to (there are moments where it feels like they’re stretching certain jokes out until they become unbearable), but they do end up (about a third of the way in) meshing into the dynamics of the film and wondering how the previous one managed without them.

Other than that, this film is basically the last one, again, but bigger. It’s just as funny, just as great to look at, and the music is really good (something I hadn’t noticed before was how good the score is). So yeah, I would recommend seeing it, seeing it in 3D isn’t completely necessary, and didn’t seem to make much of a difference, so just see it in 2D if you want. You won’t regret it, it’s funny, heartwarming, and has a REALLY subtle link to the first one, with a returning character who you might not even remember. The story isn’t great, and anybody who has ever seen a film will guess one of the “so that’s her powers” moments before it happens, and is so obvious I thought there was no way they would actually do it. Some character motivations aren’t entirely consistent and there are moments which are just done to forward the story. But it doesn’t matter, the film is fun enough to make you forget that. Plus it sets up a sequel beautifully, and a sequel you actually want to happen.

The Day Shall Come (2019)

Anybody who has spoken to me for more than a few minutes knows I LOVE the work of Chris Morris and have been a fan of his since I first saw The Day Today being randomly repeated at some point in the late ’90s after Never Mind The Buzzcocks. I consider it the most important show to shape my comedic stylings and tastes, particularly in regards to British television. This is partly because he always works with such a great team of people;  Steve Coogan, Rebecca Front, Doon Mackichan, Mark Heap, Simon Pegg, Kevin Eldon, Riz Ahmed, Benedict Cumberbatch, Armando Iannucci, Charlie Brooker, Julian Barrett etc are all people I first became familiar with through their work on a Chris Morris show. This continues in this film, with a GREAT performance from Marchant Davis.

So yeah, it’s fair to say I hold the work of Chris Morris in very high regard. This can work against him as I have such high expectations means that anything less than great is regarded as a disappointment. As such this is a slight disappointment. It is funny but more “slight laugh to self”, not as many laugh out loud moments as their should be. The satire at times seems a little unfocused. Because it’s based on lots of different stories there are moments where the film is so concerned with telling those stories that it doesn’t tell a narrative as quickly as it should. It feels like a piece of work for people who already like Chris Morris, I can’t imagine someone hating Four Lions but then liking this. That being said, when it does hit, it hits fucking hard.

Often people say “it’s funny because it’s true”, that definitely applies to this film, but since it’s Chris Morris, it’s kind of depressing for the exact same reason. That’s why I do love this film, I found it very funny, but I do also find it hard to be incredibly excited about it. It’s the kind of film that makes you realise that the world is fucked and the current method of dealing with terrorists is not fit for purpose and is more pre-occupied with results than accuracy, it would rather jail 1000 innocent people than give them trials and find out they’re innocent. It’s the kind of film that should inspire you to fuck shit up and fight against unjust laws, yet also makes you realise that doing so would do nothing, it’s hopeless to fight against and try to change things, so you just have to curl up in a ball and weep at the current state of affairs.

Still funny though.