And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

Currently browsing the "Dark Comedy" tag.

Review: The Gentlemen

The Gentlemen is a stylish crime caper with writer/director Guy Ritchie’s fingerprints all over it. It’s very much a “Guy” movie – and a “guy movie”, with a splash of estrogen provided by Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey) in some lethal-looking Christian Louboutin stilettos. She’s surrounded by an A-list cast of chaps including Matthew McConaughey, Charlie Hunnam, Henry Golding, Jeremy Strong, Eddie Marsan, Colin Farrell and Hugh Grant winding their way through a witty and wily narrative about drug syndicates, blackmail, bribery, murder and all-around mischievousness. The plot thickens, and thins, simmers and boils over to yield a dish that’s a bit messy, but still tastes good.

Review: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

I wish I could say I was a ‘Tarantino fan’. But sadly, I am not. Mostly because I’m generally squeamish when it comes to violence, and decidedly traditional when it comes to story structure. So imagine my surprise at finding several things to genuinely like (or at least, appreciate) in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, even though it doesn’t have much by way of story and does indeed take a bloody turn, albeit toward the very end of a decently-paced 2 hour, 40 minute epic. Quentin Tarantino films (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill, etc.) are still very much an acquired taste, but Once Upon a Time in Hollywood goes down somewhat easier for the non-fan, thanks to the stellar performances of Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. They are a joy to watch as fading television western star Rick Dalton (DiCaprio) and his longtime stunt double Cliff Booth (Pitt), two guys struggling to adapt to changing times in “Hollywood” – the place, and the industry – in the summer of 1969.

Quickie Reviews: Atomic Blonde and Landline

Atomic Blonde is set against the backdrop of the fall of the Berlin Wall in late 1989. As the Cold War appears to be nearing its end, the spy game is hot as ever. British MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is sent to Berlin to retrieve a stolen list that threatens to expose the identity of all Western spies. It’s a familiar plot line in espionage thrillers, and in this case, the convoluted plot is a mere vehicle for launching a tangled web of deceit among Broughton’s contacts (including James McAvoy as embedded station chief David Percival) and triggering a whole lot of extended fight scenes. Lorraine’s weapons of choice include anything she can get her hands on – from guns and knives, to keys and high heels – all swung with lethal force. The film is like a hyper-violent Jason Bourne or Bond movie with a lead that happens to be a badass chick.

Bad Words

“The end justifies the mean.” That’s one of the tag lines for Bad Words. And that pretty well sums it up, because you spend the majority of the movie waiting to discover why the main character is such a prick. Pardon my language, but seriously, that’s the most appropriate word to describe Guy Trilby, a 40-year-old man who forces his way into a kids’ national spelling bee competition by exploiting a loophole in the eligibility rules. The usually-endearing Jason Bateman takes a walk on the dark and crude side to play Trilby in this R-rated comedy that also marks his feature directorial debut. At first, it’s hard to buy the baby-faced Bateman as an evil spelling genius who’s willing to do whatever it takes to sink his young and emotionally-vulnerable competition. But by the third or fourth ‘oh no, he di’int’ moment, bad Bateman becomes believable.

The Family

The Family is fine, but ultimately fuhgeddable. Robert De Niro plays Fred Manzoni, a mafia boss with a price on his head for ratting out his friends. Fred and his quirky family – including wife Maggie (Michelle Pfeiffer) and teenage kids Belle (Dianna Agron) and Warren (John D’Leo) are placed in the Witness Protection Program – but keeping them out of trouble is no easy task. Old habits die hard and all.

Pain & Gain

Usually, when a movie is based on a true story, it’s inspirational, dramatic, transformational, or heartwarming… or some combination thereof. This one is just plain absurd. And tragic. And gross. And yes, pretty darn funny in a “You can’t be serious. That did not just happen!” sort of way. And did I mention it stars a very buff and often shirtless Mark Wahlberg? Just throwin’ that out there, so you have all the facts at hand when weighing your cinematic options.

The Details

The Details is opening under the radar, and I think for good reason. It tries really hard to be a dark comedy, but doesn’t really get either part of that equation right. It is not funny enough or dark enough, and for me the biggest problem was the casting of the lead – Spiderman, er, Tobey Maguire. The movie is about Jeff whose nice little life suddenly seems to spin out of control. He is an obstetrician with a beautiful wife (Elizabeth Banks) and a cute kid, and they live in Seattle in a lovely house. But when raccoons take over his newly sodded back yard, everything else starts to unravel, and somehow that leads to poisoning, porn, infidelity, organ donation, blackmail and murder!

Young Adult

Young Adult has been out for a little while now, but it’s definitely worth seeing if it’s still in a theater near you or renting when it becomes available. Just be forewarned it is a dark comedy, emphasis on dark. Seriously, from the trailers, I expected this movie to be funnier. They’re totally marketing this one as a comedy. But it’s much deeper and more cynical than the trailer suggests. Not that it’s a bad thing. It just wasn’t what I thought I was going to see.

Bad Teacher

Cameron Diaz gets an A for an audacious performance in Bad Teacher. But overall, I give the movie a B. It amuses – you’ll chuckle throughout – but it doesn’t quite reach the level of grade A comedy.