The Lego Movie


Viewed – 11 February 2017  online rental

I thought I’d finally get around to this popular and highly regarded animated movie following the current hype for the newly released Lego Batman Movie.  Now I must say despite being a big fan of animation, the style and concept of animated Lego characters didn’t exactly appeal and I think I only played with Lego bricks fleetingly as a child.  However having played bits of various Lego videogames and hearing a lot of good things about this movie – I thought I’d give it a chance.

Emmet and Batman

A nobody construction worker named Emmet (voiced by Chris Pratt) dreams of fitting in, having friends and enjoying life, but quickly realises most of his fellow workers ignore him because there’s nothing ‘special’ about his personality.  One day following an incident at the construction site, Emmet stumbles upon a mysterious girl who catches his eye, then discovers a grand scheme involving a sacred relic and a megalomaniac President that might be his chance to become a ‘somebody’.  This is fun, energetic and entertaining from the off and a clear satire of our growing superficial, social-media obsessed society and it’s focus on annoying EDM music as well as an obvious stab at our current political climate (with an eerie prediction of Trump).  It’s not quite as sharp or as funny as I was expecting and is surprisingly light on pop-culture jokes or references other than appearances from various comic book and movie characters.  Therefore, there’s not a great deal here for adults, unlike other animations.  That being said it zips along at an almost exhaustive pace and throws plenty of action and spectacle meaning I was far from bored.  A twist towards the end also turned the movie into a more heart-warming experience than up to that point I’d been lead to believe.

With memorable voice work from Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson and Will Ferrell amongst others … this was still fun, but for me no animated classic.

Verdict:  3 /5

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy


Viewed – 16 July 2014  DVD

I had wanted to see this much talked about comedy for a while.  I have a liking for Will Ferrell, that former Saturday Night Live comedienne who proved so likable and funny in the popular yuletide hit ‘Elf’.  So sitting down to this was quite enticing.  Farrell plays Ron Burgundy, a TV channel anchor in the seventies who see’s his chauvinistic, macho persona in jeopardy when he falls for a pretty and ambitious reporter (Christina Applegate).

anchorman

From the off it’s clear this may have been a fun sketch on SNL, but does it hold up to a full length movie?  Not really.  Burgundy as a character is a limited ‘gag’ that’s been done before and his surrounding news team, featuring the likes of Paul Rudd and Steve Carrell are equally limited in their appeal.  The pairing of Farrell & Applegate works well enough as they make for fun rivals, but after a while the forced humour and the general gooning and pratfalls gets tired.  The idea just isn’t all that special, and despite obvious enthusiasm from the cast – the general feeling I was left with was of a simple gag milked for all it’s comedic value, of which there was only very little.

That being said it’s not like this isn’t funny.  Farrell gets some good moments (his encounter with Jack Black, his descent into self-loathing), and a showdown between rival news teams with cameos by Tim Robbins and Ben Stiller proved quite funny.  Overall though, this was a movie trying to be a lot funnier than it clearly was.

Verdict:  2 /5

The Other Guys


Viewed – 01 January 2012  Blu-ray

As my first movie viewing of the year, a comedy seemed as good a choice as any, and having recently enjoyed Elf, seeking out something else starring comedy actor Will Ferrell was an enticing prospect.  Here he is paired with normally serious actor Mark Wahlberg as one part of a cop partnership who never see the outside of the office, mainly because hot-shot super cops Samuel L. Jackson and Dwayne ‘the rock’ Johnson get all the limelight.  Yet when tragedy strikes, Wahlberg see’s it as his opportunity to be the hero, having languished in obscurity following his own fall from grace after accidentally shooting a football star.

Will Ferrell is naturally the comedy sidekick here, and is likable and at times quite funny.  Mark Wahlberg looks much more out-of-place however and is not a natural fit for comedy hijinks.  The biggest problem here though is not its cast, but the writing and dialogue, with a main plot so convoluted as to become uninteresting very quickly (with a pointless Steve Coogan), and a gag-quota so hit and miss (mostly miss) that for the most part, the movie looks like its struggling to be funny – with a few too many absurd moments that don’t fit in with setting or story (a ballet dancing Wahlberg?).  Thankfully some of the action is fairly well done and the movie is quite stylish.  Ferrell as expected is enjoyable despite the poor material which says a lot for the actor, but Wahlberg really doesn’t belong here.

Perhaps not the best choice for first viewing of 2012 then.  Ah well.

Verdict:  2 /5

Elf


Viewed – 21 December 2011  Blu-ray

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a Christmas movie.  Last year was a bit of a let down (cough, A Christmas Carol, cough), but this year I was borrowed this much-loved movie starring comedy star Will Ferrell.  Telling the tale of a baby who when Santa visited an orphanage, snook into his sack, and it wasn’t until Santa returned to the North Pole that he discovered he had a stowaway.  Deciding to bring up the human baby amongst the elves in his workshop, after 30 years, Poppa Elf realises that ‘buddy’ the elf should be told the truth, and so sends him to New York to track down his real father, a mean-spirited business man, played by James Caan.

This is thoroughly charming stuff.  At first I found it a touch too kiddie, with its near-cartoon like rendition of the north pole etc, but once events jumped to the big apple, I really began to enjoy myself.  Will Ferrell is clearly a gifted comedy actor, and reminds me of Chevy Chase to a degree, and his slapstick antics and just all round likability, made him very easy to watch.  Supporting Ferrell is James Caan in a role he’s done plenty of times, and doesn’t really deliver anything surprising (what, the mean business man discovers his softer side eventually?  Who didn’t see that coming?!), and love-interest Zooey Deschanel is gorgeous, but offers little more than a pretty face and a good singing voice, with wafer-thin characterisation.

This is clearly Ferrell’s show then, which is no bad thing as he’s often laugh-out-loud funny, with many of the fish-out-of-water situations really hitting my funny bone.  Considering up until now I was feeling a bit bar-humbug, this has got me in the Christmas spirit no end, and at this time of year, who can ask for more?  The ending also, was feel-good heaven.

Verdict:  4 /5