Archive for the Comedy Category

A League of their Own (1992)

Posted in 1992, Based on True Events, Comedy, Drama, Period Film, Sporting with tags , , , , , , on June 24, 2010 by filmglutton

A League of their Own is based on the first women’s baseball league in America in the 1940s. While the men were at war, somebody had the bright idea of establishing a women’s baseball league. Dotti (Geena Davis) and Kit (Lori Petty) are sisters living in rural Oregon. Dotti’s husband (Bill Pullman) is fighting overseas. Dotti is the beautiful one of the family, and younger sister Kit always feels inferior. This feeling extends to baseball; when the league is scouting women, Dotti is the one they want. She encourages them to take on her sister. From here they make their way to Chicago where they try out for the teams. Here they meet some other women and future teammates. Their team is the Peaches, and they play alongside flirty Meg (Madonna), loudmouth Doris (Rosie O’Donnell), and plain Marla (Megan Cavanagh), among others. They are a melting pot of personalities that share a love of baseball. The team is assigned Jimmy (Tom Hanks) as a coach. He is a washed-up star that has spent the past 5 years drinking. He is rude and he can’t believe that he has to be with the women’s team.

 

This film was directed by Penny Marshall, and her husband has a small role as the head of the baseball league. The cast are well-suited, even Madonna. It’s surprising to see her in a film because she has such an enigmatic identity, but she is actually good as May (though it’s probably not too far from her real personality). Tom Hanks has the best part here. His character is angry and moody, so a lot of the laughs come from his over-the-top anger. Some fine comedy work from him here; actually, the movie just generally elicits some good laughs in addition to the more sentimental moments. 

Even though this is a sports movie it also has a strong narrative. I think it struck a good balance between the games, the characters, the humour and the drama. It has a lot of spirit and Marshall is obviously very enamoured by the idea of these strong women in the 40s. The ending is really nice, and the older versions of the characters look impressively similar to their younger counterparts. I may or may not have felt a bit teary at the end (it seems like I’ve been crying in films a fair bit lately), but this has been handled really well. It’s not too sentimental but just has a hint of nostalgia. There is so much to enjoy in this film. The baseball sequences are great and it’s interesting to see the characters’ relationships develop.

 

This is a great one for women of all ages (I remember liking it when I saw it as a child) but I think men will enjoy it too. It’s not too sentimental, and the women are really tough! Nice to see a woman directing this film also.

 My rating:

Pretty in Pink (1986)

Posted in 1986, Comedy, Drama, Romance, Teen with tags , , , , , , on June 24, 2010 by filmglutton

18-year-old Andie (Molly Ringwald) lives with her father on the wrong side of the tracks (literally). Her best friend is Duckie (Jon Cryer), a sometimes annoying/sometimes endearing pal since childhood. Andie is an intelligent individual, creating her own clothes from items she finds in second-hand stores. Of course, this makes her somewhat the outcast at school. Andie manages to catch the eye of wealthy boy Blaine (Andrew McCarthy), a sensitive type who is unlike his pretentious friends. He asks her out on a date, and from here the develop a relationship with many obstacles…

Of all the Brat Pack films, this is probably my favourite. It’s not as original as Sixteen Candles or The Breakfast Club, but there’s a real honesty here. This kind of story has been done over and over. Poor girl, rich boy, disapproval from both sides. However, it is, probably thanks to the king of teen cinema, the late great John Hughes, a wonderful teen romance. The film manages to be tender and feels fresh despite the apparent cliches.

A lot of the success of the film can be pinned on the wonderful performances of the leads. Nothing too special, but all of them are charismatic with good screen presence. Molly Ringwald really was something in those days. Several of the other main cast are still working today…see Two and a Half Men, my most hated TV show, and The Secret Life of the American Teenager, another of my most hated.

 

It’s refreshing to see a film where not everyone lives in an upper-middle-class world where nobody seems to work but there’s always enough money for everything. Andie has real problems. Her mum left her and her dad. Her dad has been depressed and can’t hold a steady job. She is frequently ridiculed at school, but she is strong and faces her problems with dignity. This might not be the most original story ever but it is told sincerely and with heart.

 

I really liked this movie, I thought it was sweet and even though the concept is old I felt like I was seeing a ‘new’ story, one in which the outcome was not necessarily set in stone. A good teen flick.

My rating:

Up (2009)

Posted in 2009, Animated, Comedy, Disney, Kids/Family, Reviews with tags , , , , on January 24, 2010 by filmglutton

Up is Disney/Pixar’s latest animated feature, and it sure does live up to the Pixar name. It tells the the story of grumpy old Carl Fredrickson (Edward Asner). As a young boy he used to dream of great adventures, and found a soul-mate, Ellie, who shared similar dreams. The years pass and life gets in the way; before he knows it, Ellie is gone and Carl is an old man. The neighbourhood has completely changed. Carl is being forced to move into a retirement home, but he decides to embark on one last adventure, fixing thousands of balloons to his house so it can float away in the direction of Paradise Falls, South America. His plan unravels when he discovers Russell, a young Wilderness Explorer has stowed away on the front porch. From here Up becomes one great adventure as Carl and Russell battle storms, deflating balloons, evil dogs and a certain explorer named Charles F. Muntz (Christopher Plummer).

Up might seem like a bit of a hard sell, particularly since the main character is an elderly man, but this is a genuine crowd pleaser. All of the characters are really great; Carl is amusingly grumpy, Russell is awkwardly funny, the bird is hilarious, and Dug the dog will just melt your heart – he gets some of the sweetest and funniest lines. I don’t want to spoil any of the jokes, but the joke with the evil dog nearly killed me. The animation is no less than perfection, but what else would we expect from Pixar?

I had already read a lot about the opening few scenes so I wasn’t surprised by them but I was still touched.Some have argued that Up is Pixar’s funniest film, and I can see why. I laughed pretty much all the way through this, and I feel that this is more of a ‘gag’ film (in a good way) than some of their other films. It also has a really heartfelt tender side, I shed a few tears at the start and the end. Both adults and kids can enjoy it and will get a lot out of it.

We can’t help wanting to compare Pixar films…where should Up go? Well, Toy Story 2 is still my favourite. I feel like all the films from Toy Story through to The Incredible really form the canon, but things start to get a bit different with Cars and Ratatouille. I can’t really explain why they seem different, maybe it’s different directors or something. They are still great but have a different style (and Cars is definitely a bit of a low point).

This is another fantastic film from Pixar, one for the whole family. Be prepared to laugh.

My rating:

Addams Family Values (1993)

Posted in 1993, Comedy, Kids/Family with tags , , , , , , , on January 15, 2010 by filmglutton

Addams Family Values, sequel to The Addams Family (1991),  is about our favourite creepy, kooky and spooky family. Morticia (Anjelica Huston) and Gomez (Raul Julia) welcome a new baby, Pubert, to the family. Wednesday (Christina Ricci) and Pugsly (Jimmy Workman) feel immediately theatened and make numerous attempts to kill the baby. Morticia hires a nanny, Debbie (Joan Cusack), to look after the children, unaware that Debbie is actually a famed serial killer who marries rich men then kills them to inherit their fortune. Debbie ensures that Wednesday and Pugsley are sent to summer camp (where they befriend nerdy Joel, played by David Krumholtz) as she turns her attentions to Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd). The whole family must try to save Uncle Fester from Debbie before it’s too late!

In some ways this is your typical kids film, but it has some really nice elements that adults will appreciate. The production design is really great, very gothic. It has  really top cast and they are all really good in their roles, they look like they are having a lot of fun, especially Joan Cusack, she is just crazy! Anjelica Houston gets some brilliant lines – she got a Golden Globe nomination for this role. There is a real black, dry humour to this film. Example: Gomez says to Uncle Fester “One day you’ll find someone. Someone who won’t press charges”; or Debbie says of Gomez “Isn’t he a ladykiller”, to which he replies “acquitted!”. All of those witty lines will go over children’s heads, but adults will enjoy them. I guarantee you will laugh, the whole thing is just ridiculous. It only slips into that slapstick children’s-film-mode a couple of times, such as when the baby slides down the banister, flies into the air etc. It’s a shame they did that, because those moments aren’t particularly funny and adults will roll their eyes. Or maybe I am just being too miserly, I’ll shut up about that.

This actually has a lot of well-known actors in it, even down to the two camp counsellors (played by Peter MacNicol of Sophie’s Choice and Christine Baranski of Mamma Mia!), who have smallish roles. An interesting piece of trivia is that Peter MacNicol and David Krumholtz now work together on the TV show Numbers. Christina Ricci steals the show as Wednesday…such a delightfully morbid child! Sending them to summer camp was a great idea, there are plenty of good gags there because they are so completely opposite to the happy blonde children running around the camp.

Not really anything else to say about this one, it’s a really entertaining film. If they had removed some of the sillier elements and replaced them with more black humour this could have been a cult classic (although perhaps it already is?) I haven’t seen the first film in about 10 years, but the sequel holds up quite well on its own. In fact, from what I remember, it’s better.

My Rating:

The Princess and the Frog (2009)

Posted in 2009, Animated, Comedy, Disney, Kids/Family, Reviews, Romance with tags , , , on January 10, 2010 by filmglutton

This is Disney’s first 2D animated film since Home on the Range in 2004, and the 49th in the canon list of Disney theatrically released animated motion pictures.

The film opens with Tianna (Anika Noni Rose), our herione, as a young girl listening to her mother read The Frog Prince. The contrast between Tianna’s modest home and the grand mansion of her friend, Charlotte La Bouff (Jennifer Cody), is stark, but Tianna’s home is happy. She has inherited her father’s gift for cooking, and one day she hopes to open her own restaurant.

Tianna grows into a beautiful, hard-working young woman. Her father went to war and never came back, making Tianna even more determined to fulfill her restaurant dream. Friends and social life take a back-seat to several jobs. Charlotte, meanwhile, is the belle of every ball, and she is sent into a frenzy when she discovers that Prince Naveen (Bruno Campos) of Maldonia will be arriving in New Orleans. All she has ever wanted is to be a princess – here is her chance! Prince Naveen arrives (with manservant Lawrence (Peter Batlett) in tow), a slick ladies-man who loves to have a good time.

Things go awry, however, when Prince Naveen is transformed into a frog by Dr Facilier (Keith David), a voodoo doctor. Naveen hops into Tianna’s room on the night of the ball and says if she kisses him he will be transformed and he will give her the money she needs to open her restaurant. The kiss, however, results in Tianna being transformed into a frog also. From here they must travel through the swamps and beyond to return to their human forms before it is too late, meeting an array of quirky characters along the way…

Well, I really enjoyed this film. The characters are really great (Roy the Firefly and Louis the Alligator are real scene-stealers), and it’s so good to have a Disney female character that works hard for what she wants, relying on her own abilities while still having faith in a little bit of luck and magic! There has been a lot of fuss about Tianna being the first black Disney Princess, but Disney wisely avoids race discussion in the storyline. The screenplay has the typical mix of sadness, humour, ridiculous situations, romance, finding ones-self etc. The jokes are light and witty, and many gags in this should draw a good laugh (particularly one flashback scene involving an alligator, a boat, and a trumpet). The songs are quite good but I prefer Alan Menken (most probably biased, though!)

I must be getting old, because my main criticism of the story is that Tianna and Naveen fall in love waaaaaay too quickly. Naveen doesn’t really have any particularly redeeming qualities, and most of the time he actually borders on being sleazy. Their relationship is not convincing, especially when Tianna is such a smart, hard-working girl…why would she fall for a ladies-man like Naveen? Yes, maybe they could change each other over time then fall in love, but over a couple of days? No chance.

Now I’m just getting picky. Go watch this and enjoy it. Young girls will absolutely love it, and young boys will probably like it too (even though they won’t admit it). This film is not a classic like Beauty and the Beast or The Little Memaid but it is more than worthy of joining the long list of Disney animated films.Yes, they fall in love too quickly, but just appreciate the film for what it is: a highly entertaining and charming family film that marks a solid 2D animation return for Disney. I can only hope this is a good sign for things to come, will definitely be going to see Rapunzel when it is released late this year.

My Rating:

Bad Taste (1987)

Posted in 1987, Comedy, Horror, Reviews, Splatter with tags , , , on December 15, 2009 by filmglutton

In Bad Taste the government has enlisted the help of “The Boys” – Derek, Frank, Oz and Barry – to stop Lord Crumb and his army of aliens from killing mankind and selling us as intergalactic hamburger meat! Set in a sleepy New Zealand town, The Boys face a series of human-like aliens that want nothing better than to eat them for dinner! A cult classic, Bad Taste is an outrageous and hilarious comedy/horror that’s so bad it’s good. It’s also incredibly disgusting…in a good way!

Bad Taste was made over a four year period when Peter Jackson worked as a photo engraver at the local paper. A long-time film fan and special effects nut, Peter purchased a 16mm camera and originally intended to make a short film that he could enter into festivals. That short film, Roast of the Day, kept getting bigger and bigger until it eventually became what we now know as Bad Taste. The film was made on an extremely minimal budget by Peter and his work colleagues and schoolmates. Obviously the acting talent is minimal, but it doesn’t matter in a film like this. I actually thought a couple of “The Boys” were quite good, and Jackson is almost unrecognisable as Derek, really funny performance from him. He also appears in a more recognisable form as Robert the alien, hilarious!

The DVD case warns us (semi-jokingly) that “people of a weak disposition should not watch this feature”. There sure is a lot of blood and gore in this movie, but it’s fantastic. I generally can’t stomach violent films, but the violence in this is just so absurd, and the blood is such a shimmering shade of red, that it won’t truly gross you out. All the gory bits are played for laughs, eg there’s a gaping hole in Derek’s scull, and he keeps rearranging bits of brain. There’s also vomit-guzzling and brain-consuming. An exploding sheep is a highlight, but in general there’s no shortage of vomit, guts, brians and blood. The whole film is very witty and funny, just a big joke.

The film quality itself is not spectacular, and the sound is quite average, but considering this was made 20-25 years ago by a completely amateur group, the movie holds up really well. The plot is a bit muddled (due to the constant script and concept changes over four years) but again, doesn’t matter. The special effects are fantastic, with some really innovative ideas. The film even has a few car chases, a car explosion, and a flying house! Not bad for an amateur film…

If you love splatter movies you will absolutely love Bad Taste. Even if you don’t (this is the first one I’ve ever seen and, as I said, I usually hate films with violence) this film is so funny and original it will win you over. The violence is so over-the-top, it’s great. On the DVD I have there is a featurette Good Taste Made Bad, which was made in 1988, and it has some great interviews with Peter Jackson, his parents, and “The Boys”. Jackson fans should not miss it. Film fans should be inspired by Jackson’s ‘just do it’ attitude, anything is possible if you have the drive, a few good mates, and lots of fake blood…

My Rating:

Julie & Julia (2009)

Posted in 2009, Based on True Events, Comedy, Drama with tags , , , , , , , on November 11, 2009 by filmglutton

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Julie & Julia is set in the late 40s/early 50s as Julia Child (Meryl Streep), the American woman who became a household name due to her bestselling book Mastering the Art of French Cooking and had her TV show, fulfils a desire to take cooking lessons while living in Paris. The film is also set in New York in the 2000s, as Julie Powell (Amy Adams) starts a blog where she will chronicle her attempts to cook all 524 of Julia’s recipes in one year. It moves back and forth between the two storylines, showing how these women are connected by their love of cooking. They are also both married to very patient and loving husbands; Stanley Tucci plays Paul Child and Chris Messina plays Julie’s husband Eric.
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This is a really warm and charming film. All of the performances are strong – they really make this film. Meryl Streep steals the show as usual, but Tucci is good as her husband and Adams makes Julie, a somewhat self-centred character, sympathetic and likeable. Julia Child is the kind of woman you would either love or hate in real life. She has so much spirit, but she is also full-on. I loved her in this, probably because Streep is so empathetic. There is an undercurrent of sadness that Julia and Paul don’t have any children. Julie and her husband are refreshingly ordinary, they just look so normal. As I’ve said, Julie is a bit self-obsessed, but it’s a bit understandable when we see her friends. They are extremely self-centred, and a blog is Julie’s chance to be heard. Despite seeming self-centred, she is actually very empathetic and gets genuinely emotional about the people that call her at work every day. Julie needs to feel validated; we recognise this desire in ourselves, and thus we understand her faults.

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The problem with the film is that you never really connect with the characters. That sounds like I’m going back on everything I said, but let me explain. I was interested in the characters and their storylines, but I never felt that the stakes were very high. It never felt like they were going to fail, thus taking away a lot of potential drama. This film could potentially be quite forgettable.

Overall Julie & Julia is an enjoyable film that is elevated by fine production and great acting. Women of all ages and older men will like this movie.

My Rating: 1111