The Gift


Viewed – 13 August 2015  Cinema

Jason Bateman for as long as he’s been around, has never really been the sort of actor that guarantees bums on seats.  He’s been known for TV sitcoms like Arrested Development and a wealth of comedy movies such as Horrible Bosses.  Yet I’ve always liked him and always look forward to seeing him in stuff.  This latest thriller has him as a successful business man who has recently moved into a nice up-market neighbourhood with his beautiful wife (Rebecca Hall).  The perfect little life, until that is an old school friend bumps into him one day and gradually starts muscling his way into their lives.  Gordo (Joel Edgerton) seems nice, normal if a little awkward and pushy, but mostly harmless – or is he?

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Classic psychological thriller territory for sure, think The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, Single White Female etc. and you’ll get the idea.  However this has a stand out performance from Bateman, who shows a depth and complexity to his character I wasn’t expecting.  Also Edgerton as Gordo (who also directs) is perfectly strange and mysterious and possibly psychotic – but balances the uncertainty well.  The GiftThe movie mostly focuses however on Hall’s character who is vulnerable and troubled, with a past hinting at something that went wrong (possibly a miscarriage) between the couple and how the new home is a new start.  I enjoyed this as it played with genre conventions, threw in a few excellent jump-scares and kept me guessing.

It’s fairly safe in it’s concept and certainly could have elaborated more on things with the odd flash back, as I came away still asking questions about these characters.  There was also potential for the story to go to much darker depths.  But these are small gripes and overall The Gift was a gripping and well written thriller that surprised and entertained in equal measure.

Verdict:  3.5 /5

Identity Thief


Viewed – 09 April 2015  Netflix 

Hot off the success of her star-making turn in Bridesmaids, comedienne Melissa McCarthy plays Diane, a woman who steals people’s identities.  One such unsuspecting victim is Sandy (Jason Bateman) who’s life quickly spirals out of control when debts wrack up in his name.  In an attempt to reclaim his identity he chooses to track Diane down in a hope of bringing the woman to justice – but doesn’t bank on the heap of trouble that comes with her.

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This was a fun movie.  I had heard about it and the rather ‘meh’ reviews that followed so didn’t exactly jump at the idea of seeing it, but hell – sometimes I like an easy going comedy if I’ve had a stressful week, and this fit the bill nicely.  What I wasn’t expecting was just how funny and likable Melissa McCarthy is – who for me wasn’t the sole reason Bridesmaids was so damn good.  She handles slapstick, a motor-mouth persona and more than matches a very enjoyable Jason Bateman as the everyman nice guy (sort of his thing these days) on a roller-coaster road trip from Florida to Denver chased by a duo of hit men and a bounty hunter (a great appearance from an almost Terminator-like Robert Patrick).

The jokes aren’t exactly stunners and it relies a bit too much on McCarthy’s prat-falls and I’ll admit her wild antics sometimes fell short (was that the un-funniest sex scene ever?).  The hit men (or should that be hit man and hit woman) were also glaringly under-developed and even a cameo from Breaking Bad’s Jonathan Banks shed no light on just why they were after Diane.  That being said, McCarthy & Bateman made for a very enjoyable pairing and I for one had a good time in their company.  Worth seeing.

Verdict:  3 /5

Horrible Bosses


Viewed – 27 January 2012  Blu-ray

When first hearing about this movie, the classic Dolly Parton movie / song Nine To Five came to mind, as it similarly follows the story of three disgruntled employees who plot to kill their bosses.  Jason Sudeikis of Hangover fame, finds his lovable boss Donald Sutherland replaced by son Colin Farrell, who just happens to be a coke snorting womanizing ass****.  Jason Bateman is ruled over by scum bag Kevin Spacey who treats him like crap, and newly engaged Charlie Day is being sexually harassed by Dentist Jennifer Aniston.

This very funny movie is full of great lines, most of them toilet humour juvenile granted, but with a quality cast that all deliver and increasingly absurd situations (look out for the ‘wet works’ moment), this was a movie that really entertained.  Sudeikis again proves to be one of the more assured comedy talents around, and Bateman also made for a likeable and funny ‘straight man’ amongst the chaos.  A special mention must go to Jennifer Anniston playing against her rom-com stereotype and being ridiculously sexy throughout, and Spacey also makes for a very good villain, even if the part is not exactly a stretch for him.  The script may be a little too reliant on crude gags and colourful language, and some times it gets a bit too silly (with a totally over-the-top Farrell) … but along with a memorable cameo from Jamie Foxx, this ticked many of my boxes.

Fans of movies like The Hangover, Hall Pass etc should be all over this, and for anyone who likes a well written comedy with a quality cast … recommending this one is a no-brainer.

Verdict:  4 /5

Paul


Viewed – 15 February 2011  Cinema

It’s easy to like Brit comedy actors Nick Frost & Simon Pegg, two obvious best buds whose television and movie parings have made for comedy gold, helped by their obvious talent and endless knowledge of pop culture.  Shaun Of The Dead, their big-screen debut was the perfect marriage of romantic comedy and zombie horror and remains one of the best comedies to ever come out of the UK.  Pegg has subsequently gone onto a Hollywood career, starring in the likes of the Star Trek reboot.  But as is expected, he’s right at home alongside Frost, and again we have a sure-fire hit on our hands.

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Hancock


Viewed – 23 Jan 2009  DVD

Now what I don’t get is why this film came in for so much stick when it came out in the summer blockbuster season.  Ok, it may not be as knowingly stylish as Wanted or as in-yer-face as Batman & Hellboy (ooh, there’s a movie waiting to happen), but this charming and well made superhero flick has it where it counts – originality.  Oh and Will Smith is brilliant in it.

Will plays a superhero powered guy shunned by the people he tried to help because of his uncaring, self-destructive attitude and careless approach to every situation.  Its funny as hell, and also very different than what we are usually erm, treated to.  Step in Jason Bateman’s advertising exec who sees in Will (or should I say Hancock?) a chance to prove himself and help someone who obviously needs a new image and way of thinking.

If it wasn’t for Will Smiths obvious charisma this bold idea would fall flat on its face, and with the help of a likable Bateman and a purr, hubba hubba Charlize Theron, as well as some truly exciting set-pieces and quality effects, this is just really good entertainment.  So what if things get a bit serious in the final act – in my opinion, it still works and adds plenty of emotion too.  What more could you want?

Verdict:  4 /5