Spy


Viewed – 01 December 2015  Online-rental

I have to admit I quite like Melissa McCarthy.  I thought she was hilarious in Bridesmaids and followed her star-making turn well with the amiable Identity Thief.  She’s not just funny either, she’s likable.  So her latest venture has her as a desk clerk who is the eyes and ears for her man on the ground Jude Law; a highly skilled spy with more than a passing Bond complex (with a bit more cheese…).  However said spy goes missing and soon McCarthy gets her chance to go on a mission of her own, and maybe finally prove her worth to the CIA.

spy_melissa

Typical fish-out-of-water stuff granted but given no end of personality by the ever enjoyable McCarthy who throws herself (sometimes literally) into the task of tracking down bad guys and seeing off the advances of a lecherous side-kick.  At the same time she has gung-ho rival agent Jason Statham to deal with (more full of shit than full of action), and also on hand is Brit comedienne Miranda Hart … whose inclusion threatens to ruin everything because well, she is just not funny.  I don’t get her popular but cringy brand of ‘posh/awkward’.  I just don’t.  Also a cameo by rapper 50 Cent feels like he’s wondered off a music video onto the wrong set.

spy judeIt’s a movie of two halves for sure … the first plodding getting to know the main character, sympathise as she swoons over Jude Law and dreams of better things … stuff.  Not that interesting but gets a lot more fun once McCarthy gets caught up with villains, bombs and globe trotting, whilst kicking ass, donning disguises and being involved in chases.  Rose Byrne is very good too as the lead bad-girl megalomaniac (and those legs!) but a rather predictable, clichéd plot and a reliance on annoying supporting characters stops Spy reaching it’s full potential.

I enjoyed this, but better use of it’s cast and a sharper script could have made for a more memorable experience.  As a McCarthy vehicle however, this did it’s job.

Verdict:  3 /5

Bad Neighbors


Viewed – 08 May 2014  Cinema

This movie starts with a couple having sex on a table as their baby watches … an ‘I can’t do it when she’s lookin’ scenario.  So that pretty much sets the tone straight away for this mostly juvenile, crude and typical comedy starring Seth Rogan (Knocked up) and Zac Efron (High School Musical).  The story such as it is, has a happy couple, complete with a baby girl whose idyllic suburban paradise is wrecked when the house next door is taken over by a fraternity – cue parties, drugs, alcohol, bangin’ tunes and twenty somethings acting like idiots in the name of fun and excess.  What to do?  Put up with it, or wage war?

Neighbors

This is a funny concept, I’ll admit and Rogen and also Bridesmaids actress Rose Byrne etc give it their all – and moments like Byrne getting er, milked and a nunchuku fight using a rubber dildo caused a few belly laughs, revealing the teenager inside me a bit too often.  But a scene involving the baby girl finding a condom (!) on the lawn, and then various other overly sexual and crude situations just felt forced – should I be laughing or offended?  It’s difficult to tell sometimes.  Rogen is basically the same as he always is – the immature potty-mouthed middle aged fella, and Efron sheds his formerly squeaky-clean teen movie image (which I’ll bet was tarnished before this) to little effect other than his many shirtless moments (please, control yourselves ladies…).  Oh and Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Kick-Ass) is in this … and utterly wasted.

Funny if you’re into very adult humour and jokes about sex, sex toys, pregnancy and drugs … but if you’re after anything with a message (it sort of dodges a potential ‘should have studied harder in high school’ sub-plot) or even the slightest depth, look elsewhere.

Verdict:  2.5 /5

Bridesmaids


Viewed – 18 April 2012  Blu-ray

On first hearing of this, I passed it off as a cash-in on the success of The Hangover movies, but from a female perspective.  And although during the awards season this was getting almost as much press as the likes of The Artist and Hugo, I still wasn’t convinced.  Kristen Wiig (Paul, Saturday Night Live) plays a down-on-her luck woman who is given the responsibility of being the Maid Of Honour at her best friend’s upcoming wedding.  Taking the role on with passion, she soon finds her life turned upside down as a result, and events quickly start to spiral out of control.

Now what surprised me with this one, was that going into it I was expecting a mildly funny, tiolet-humour based comedy with lots of swearing and crude gags.  It has all that in spades, but what it also has is heart and emotion, mostly down to Kristen Wiig’s character’s rocky love life and the heart-warming friendship she has with the bride to be, that are both touching and believable.  This is a movie that is much more than the sum of its parts.  It’s not just a comedy, it’s not just about a wedding … it’s incredibly feel good, well acted and full of great lines, great characters and great moments (the dress fitting, anyone?).  Supporting cast members Chris O’Dowd and Rose Byrne especially shine, and Wiig continues to be one of the best female comedy stars around, carrying the movie with real panache.

Of course it’s not perfect, with a pointless Matt (Little Britain) Lucas cameo and some of the comedy gets a tad OTT, but as a movie that gave me the impression it was one thing, then turned out to be so much more – I came away shouting its praises to anyone willing to listen.  Simply brilliant.

Verdict:  5 /5

Insidious


Viewed – 03 May 2011  Cinema

I wasn’t expecting this.  Going completely blind into this one, and knowing nothing but the fact it was directed by Saw’s James Wan.  So what would you expect?  Clever twists?  Wall to wall gore?  Then I hope you are sitting comfortably.  A young couple with two boys and a baby girl, move into one of those clichéd big-ass American houses that seems creepy from the off set.  Of course it’s not long until things start going bump in the night and weird shit begins to go down.  I know what you’re going to say, this is just like Amityville or Poltergeist, which was certainly my impression, but as the story progresses it takes a much more weirder and disturbing path, and to say it scared the hell out of me, well…

Starring Patrick Wilson and Rose Byrne, along with an appearance by the increasingly freaky Barbara Hershey (just see Black Swan, you’ll know what I mean), this is well executed and incredibly effective, with jump-scares that don’t take the viewer for an idiot, and a nail-biting tension, helped by the eerie lighting and mostly hand-held camera work, that kept this viewer permanently nervous.  Ok, some moments of comedy seem out-of-place and towards the end the movie did sink into an extended Ghost Train ride, but by then you’re already glued, and in a crowded genre of torture porn gore flicks, sequels and remakes, this was a breath of fresh air, and shows that James Wan clearly didn’t fluke Saw and his follow-up, Death Sentence, making him one of the most assured horror-talents in the business.

Verdict:  4 /5