Posts Tagged ‘comedy’

Sorry To Bother You – A Fascinating Mess

Posted 28 Jul 2018 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead 

Sorry to Bother You, USA, 2018

Written and Directed by Boots Riley

It is often lamented by casual movie fans that “Hollywood has run out of ideas.” In fact, the seeming lack of originality in the mainstream movie pool has more to do with a fear of taking chances on those new ideas, which certainly do exist. Why gamble when you can pretty much guarantee a huge opening weekend with a sequel to, or adaptation of, an already beloved existing property? With that in mind, it’s rather amazing that this debut feature from writer-director Boots Riley, a founding member of legendary Hip-Hop group The Coup, ever got greenlit. I mean this in both a good way – because Sorry to Bother You is full of original ideas, sharp satire, and great performances – and in a somewhat more negative way, because it often feels so overstuffed with interesting concepts that it can’t possibly come together as a wholly satisfying, coherent narrative.  Read More

Surprise Dinosaurs! Can Make Any Movie Better

Posted 14 Jul 2018 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay

By Ezra Stead

On the cult-classic two-season animated sitcom The Critic (R.I.P.), one of the half-dozen or so fake movie clips recycled in the opening credits throughout the series depicts a Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers-style black-and-white ballroom dancing scene suddenly interrupted by a full-color Tyrannosaurus Rex devouring the dancing couple. The show’s protagonist, Jay Sherman (voiced by Jon Lovitz), responds with his usual catchphrase (“It stinks!”), but every time this particular clip comes up, I can’t help but think he’s dead wrong about it. That would clearly be one of the greatest movies ever made, because nothing can improve literally any movie like the sudden, unexpected appearance of a prehistoric creature or two. In other words: surprise dinosaurs!  Read More

Dr. Seuss’ How Ron & Jim Ruined Christmas

Posted 16 Dec 2017 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead

How the Grinch Stole Christmas, USA/Germany, 2000

Directed by Ron Howard

Several times while watching the Ron Howard-directed How the Grinch Stole Christmas, I found myself wondering, “Who is this even for?” At 105 minutes, it’s a bit on the long side for kids small enough to actually enjoy Jim Carrey’s manic, over-the-top turn as the title character, and the whole thing is far too ugly and irritating for older kids, let alone adults. On the other hand, my niece (aged six) and nephew (aged ten) say they love it, and it was released long enough ago that I also have adult friends who remember it fondly. I do know who it’s not for, however, and that is the grumpy old Grinch writing this review, as this is decidedly a Movie I Didn’t Get.  Read More

Brigsby Bear – Make Something Cool With Your Friends!

Posted 26 Aug 2017 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead 

Brigsby Bear, USA, 2017

Directed by Dave McCary

Though Dogtooth certainly has its dark sense of humor, one wouldn’t expect a movie about an abducted child raised in an isolated, hermetically sealed world based on lies to be a comedy. This type of premise has yielded great results as emotionally devastating drama, as in the rightfully acclaimed Room, or intense psychological suspense, as in the by-and-large underrated 10 Cloverfield Lane (not about a child abduction, but dealing with similar ideas in terms of the nature of the protagonist’s captivity). Despite these and some other obvious comparison points, though, veteran Saturday Night Live director Dave McCary’s feature debut, Brigsby Bear, is a wonderfully original, sincere, and idiosyncratic movie that manages to not only earn cruelty-free laughs from an inherently unsettling subject, but also to make a larger point about the very nature of art and entertainment, without being annoyingly meta about it.  Read More

The Little Hours – Quirky Isn’t Necessarily Funny

Posted 14 Jul 2017 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead 

The Little Hours, Canada / USA, 2017

Written and Directed by Jeff Baena

Comedy and horror are the two most difficult genres to successfully pull off, because what makes us laugh—just like what scares us—is highly subjective. Even nearly universally acclaimed works in either genre will inevitably have their detractors, as some [backwards-thinking idiots] might not think last year’s The VVitch is scary, while other [no-fun jerks] might not find Anchorman funny, for example. I myself have been informed by numerous people that they find the sketch show Portlandia “hilarious,” though, having personally witnessed the entire first season, I don’t see how this can possibly be true.

Based on the reactions of the admittedly small crowd with me at a recent screening of The Little Hours, this is apparently a pretty funny movie, though I honestly felt like most of the laughter I heard was somewhat forced, as if the other moviegoers were just going through the expected motions when they could tell a joke had just been attempted onscreen, flat as it might have fallen. Maybe it was the only way they could feel as if they’d gotten their money’s worth; I don’t know. I never laughed once, and it pains me to say that because there are a number of gifted comedic talents involved.  Read More

The Sandlot – What Was The Greatest Summer Of Your Life?

Posted 06 Jul 2017 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Member Movie Reviews, Movies I Got

By Mike Shaeffer 

The Sandlot, USA, 1993

Directed by David Mickey Evans

Filmed in Utah, the 1993 coming-of-age film The Sandlot wonderfully captures the summer of 1962 through the eyes of nine middle-school boys, and—in what was certainly a case of life imitating art—this cast of unknowns would later admit that the summer they spent filming this cinematic gem was, indeed, their favorite summer. Just like Simon Birch—another film involving an ill-fated baseball—this story opens with the voice of an adult narrator recalling one of the more memorable chapters from his youth. A good sports drama involves conflict, and the main pickle in this adventure stems from a stepfather’s prized baseball being knocked over the fence of the neighborhood sandlot that plays host to a summer-long baseball game. Normally, a 95-cent baseball would just be replaced, but this ball was autographed by the Sultan of Swat, Babe Ruth, and the neighboring yard is patrolled by a drooling monster of a dog known to the boys as “The Beast.”  Read More

Baby’s Day Out – A Scathing Indictment Of A Pre-Apocalyptic Society

Posted 19 Jun 2017 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead 

Baby’s Day Out, USA, 1994

Directed by Patrick Read Johnson

As anyone who’s read my in-depth review of Beethoven knows, family movies from the 1990s are often covert founts of darkness and despair, sometimes to the point that it’s nigh impossible to see them any other way. Another great example of this curious phenomenon is 1994’s Baby’s Day Out, which depicts a world on the brink of total destruction just underneath its deceptively cheerful surface. This is a world that no longer values anything but material possessions, social status, and unbridled hatred. If allowed to go on the way it is, this society will surely collapse on itself, as childcare, familial connections, and basic human decency are utterly neglected. Baby’s Day Out is the tale of the one super-genius infant who just might be able to save a world full of nihilistic idiots from itself.  Read More