Browsing Netflix I wanted something fun to watch, so I stumbled upon this Will Farrell comedy that I’d heard had garnered some buzz. As a casual appreciator of the long-running song contest of the title, mostly for it’s wacky examples of European culture, I must say the subject appealed. This tells the story of Lars (Farrell) and Sigrit (Rachel McAdams), life-long friends who have always dreamt of one day competing in Eurovision just like their heroes Abba. However the small Icelandic town where they live have always mocked such hopes, finding the duo a bit of a laughing stock rather than anything to encourage, especially by Lars’ disapproving father (Pierce Brosnan).
For a Will Farrell comedy this seemed on the surface fairly typical, delivering his usual brand of buffoonery and slapstick. However his pairing with McAdams, an actress I’ve grown to like brings a bit more emotional depth to the story, delivering equal parts heart-warming moments as well as laugh out loud funny. At times Farrell’s antics threaten to destabilise things, even in some of the more meaningful moments, yet the often touching, feel good story quickly won me over.
A surprising experience then with a lot of heart. The music varies from intentionally cringe to rather show-stopping (that end song) and delivers a genuine celebration of all things Eurovision (including several cameos from real contestants). Farrell is fun but doesn’t do much here he hasn’t in the past. Overall though, this is McAdams’ movie, with her character having the strongest journey. She’s also just so damn likeable. Check it out.
I used to be, and probably still am a big fan of Jackie Chan, and have at one time or another seen a great deal of his back catalogue. In subsequent years I’ll admit he’s gone off my radar even though I realise he still makes movies. Yet this latest caught my eye as it had been granted a cinema release at one stage and good word of mouth. Chan plays Quan, a local Chinese restaurant owner living in London who unfortunately witnesses a bombing outside a shop where his daughter goes, leading to her death. Vowing to track down those responsible, he soon latches onto Liam Hennessey (Pierce Brosnan) who’s former links to the IRA may prove invaluable.
You could call it Chan’s version of all those copy-cat Liam Neeson thrillers we’ve seen of late and has echoes of Taken. Chan may not be the most compelling of actors and his grasp of English is still hit and miss … but he’s a likeable presence and well, can still kick ass and defy gravity even in his sixties. Pierce Brosnan however completely steals the show as a not so subtle take on former Sin Fein leader Gerry Adams, and his spot-on Northern Ireland accent brings a level of authenticity to proceedings. Also it was interesting having the backdrop of the IRA troubles and director Martin Campbell (Golden Eye) delivers a realistic and thrilling movie with plenty of action and intrigue.
I’s a shame then that really, it hasn’t much going for it we haven’t seen dozens of times before. It’s engaging and mostly well acted especially from Brosnan, but it’s sense of deja-vu mares what is otherwise a solid thriller, and one certainly more convincing and gritty that I’d normally expect from Chan.
I went into this fairly apprehensive. I’d heard only luke warm opinions of it and the usual it’s no ‘Shaun of the Dead’ which has been ringing in my ears with every movie the comedy pairing of Simon Pegg & Nick Frost have appeared in since. This time around Pegg plays a lovable loser whose never really grown up and still yearns to complete the sacred ‘golden mile’ pub crawl that he and his friends attempted and failed at on the last day of school. Now approaching forty, he decides to ‘get the band back together’ and hunts down his old mates who have all moved on, got jobs, gained families, become someone where as Pegg is still the same person he ever was.
A great initial concept sets forth a very energetic ride with snappy dialogue-a-plenty and the usual slapstick pop-culture referencing fun of Pegg & Frost at their best. Lending a helping hand is a wealth of familiar Brit actor faces, including The Hobbit’s Martin Freeman along with Paddy Considine to name but a few. Unlike Pegg & Frost’s last outing ‘Paul’ however this is brought endlessly to life by the scatter-shot, imaginative direction of Edgar Wright, yes the same man that brought us ‘Shaun and Hot Fuzz not to mention the underrated Scott Pilgrim Vs The World. Very clever editing and stylish camera work and surprisingly excellent effects work too. You see the friends all go back to their home town to attempt this so-called pub crawl and suddenly find themselves in the middle of an alien invasion where the majority of the towns folk have been assimilated, ala The Stepford Wives.
I’m not ashamed to say it, but I had a riot with this. There’s some very funny lines (… ‘he may be a bit of a cock, and he is a cock … but he’s my cock’…) and some great action (the gents fight scene is first rate, think the matrix with a twist) and the on-going gag of getting a pint in in every pub, no matter what is happening just never stopped being funny. Yes the ending feels a tad thrown together, and well the alien invasion concept is almost as tiresome as zombies … but that never hurt Shaun of the Dead.
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