Posts Tagged ‘comedy movie’

Cheeps and Chirps for July 31, 2018

July 31, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
July 31, 2018

Bits and bites from ye olde Twitter stream:

• A few personal notes

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Death doesn’t get in the way of a good time, even years after I first watched ‘Weekend at Bernie’s’

May 11, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
May 11, 2017

A few years ago, as I wrote Wednesday, I re-watched The Black Hole, a science fiction movie that I’d enjoyed as a kid but which seemed severely lacking when viewed through my adult eyes. The other day, I revisited Weekend at Bernie’s, a 1989 comedy that had struck my adolescent self as hilarious, despite being poorly received by critics upon its release.

Reader, I must report the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth: I thought that Weekend at Bernie’s held up pretty well on my recent viewing.

The movie features a darkly hilarious setup. The two protagonists, young insurance-company employees played by Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman, get their holiday off to a rocky start when they discover that their boss and Labor Day weekend host, Bernie Lomax (Terry Kiser), has just died. Because the pair wants to enjoy a few days in Bernie’s opulent beach house, they manipulate the corpse so people think that he’s still alive — much to the consternation of Paulie (Don Calfa), the drug-addled hit man who keeps assassinating Lomax on behalf of a mafioso whom the profligate Lomax has angered.

Director Ted Kotcheff (The Apprenticeship of Duddy KravitzFirst Blood and Uncommon Valor) and screenwriter Robert Klane (National Lampoon’s European Vacation) embrace the corniness at the heart of this premise. The cast goes for broke, too, especially Calfa, whose eyes seem to bulge more and more with every passing moment.

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The inventive comedy ‘Colossal’ shows what happens when a woman’s life becomes a disaster, both literally and figuratively

April 15, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
April 15, 2017

Minutes after the start of Colossal, Nacho Vigalondo’s quirky, entertaining new comedy, the protagonist’s life has crashed to a halt. Party girl Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is thrown out of her tony New York apartment by her exasperated boyfriend, Tim (Dan Stevens), who says he can no longer put up with her joblessness and drinking. The chronically directionless 30something woman, now suddenly homeless, retreats to the unfurnished vacation house her absent parents own in the small town of Mainhead, where she grew up.

Little does she know that her ordeal is about to get even worse. On the plus side, she reconnects with a solicitous old school friend, bar owner Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), who offers her a job, jump-starts her interior decorating, and gives her a set of instant buddies in the form of his pals Garth (Tim Blake Nelson) and Joel (Austin Stowell). On the minus side, she soon realizes that her intoxicated early-morning forays through a local park are linked with the manifestation of an immense monster that has begun terrorizing Seoul.

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‘Good going, FAG’: The uneven, sporadically amusing satire of ‘Team America: World Police’

December 6, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
Dec. 6, 2015

Team America: World Police is a sporadically amusing musical action-adventure movie spoof enacted with puppets by the creative team behind the ribald animated show South Park. If that sounds appealing to you, then by all means, make sure you watch this 2004 movie. (Actually, if that sounds appealing to you, then you probably watched this 2004 movie when it came out, or shortly thereafter.)

I’ve seen a few South Park episodes — enough to know that Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s creation is not exactly my thing. I find the show to be quite funny in parts, and there are a few episodes that I’ve really enjoyed, in particular “The Fellowship of the Lord of the Rings,” which is the episode with which I’m most familiar.

But South Park traffics heavily in coarse language, toilet humor and other vulgarities to an extent that makes me uncomfortable. (Call me a prude if you must.) That same tendency influences Team America: World Police, which I can’t recommend despite enjoying at times.

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Feather-light entertainment is all that animated ‘Heavy Metal’ can offer

December 26, 2012

The bizarre animated anthology Heavy Metal is something of a cult classic. Unfortunately, my recently viewing of the 1981 picture (my first time watching it) clearly showed that the film has not aged well.

That’s not entirely the fault of director Gerald Potterton and the film’s writers, led by Dan Goldberg and Len Blum, who scripted the frame story as well as two of the segments. Since Heavy Metal appeared, special effects have advanced far beyond the state of the art in 1981. (Which this film likely does not reflect, with its estimated budget of $9.3 million, per the Internet Movie Database. Compare with The Fox and the Hound, an animated picture released one month earlier, which IMDb says costs $12 million.)

Moreover, since this film’s debut, popular entertainment’s restrictions on showing nudity, sexuality and graphic violence have loosened significantly. As a result of these changes, Heavy Metal offers views of material that, far from being forbidden, now qualifies as rather routine. The film’s decidedly juvenile mentality isn’t helpful, either.

The movie loosely revolves around an intelligent glowing green orb possessed of a malignant magic and a megalomaniacal mentality. In the wordless opening sequence, a space shuttle deploys a 1960 Corvette convertible manned by a spacesuited figure, which enters the Earth’s atmosphere, drives across a desert landscape, navigates a twisting road and parks in front of a hilltop mansion. Inside, the astronaut is joyously greeted by a roughly 14-year-old girl, presumably his daughter, who asks what he’s brought. “You’ll see,” the grey-haired man says with a playful wink.

Indeed. When he places his case on the table and opens it, the green orb inside reduces him to bones and goo and corners the girl. This is the Loc-Nar, a floating, talking sphere, and it demands that the girl look into its depths. The bulk of the anthology plays out as stories that the orb shows its terrified prey.  Read the rest of this entry »

Season of the fink: ‘(500) Days of Summer’ offers a quirky but not always satisfying vacation from (some) romantic comedy conventions

November 30, 2012

Director Marc Webb’s 2009 romantic comedy tries to break the romantic comedy mold.

And it tries hard — it really does! Instead of beginning with boy meets girl, (500) Days of Summer (parentheses in title — quirky!) actually starts with its male lead’s post-breakup meltdown. As his two best buddies and his sister try to console him, distraught Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) moans that the woman who has broken his heart is the One with whom he was meant to spend his life.

As the movie’s narrator warns us, this is a story about love — not a love story. The female lead herself warns Hansen early on that she doesn’t want a boyfriend. But Webb and writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber have switched things up: In this movie, it’s the man who needs a commitment! (Gender role reversal — so unusual!)

The winsome heartbreaker here is Summer Fynn (oddball name — how indy!), winsomely played by Zooey Deschanel. Fynn and Hansen cross paths at a small greeting card company in Los Angeles where he is a frustrated architect cum writer and she is a Michigander cum Los Angeleno. She has just moved to California (simply because she wanted something different — mark of a free-thinker, y’all!) and gotten a job as an assistant to the card company’s CEO.

Fynn is irresistible to men although she is of average height and weight, the narrator rather irrelevantly notes. Hansen, who believes that everyone has one and only one soulmate thanks to a serious misreading of the movie The Graduate, falls for Fynn the moment he sees her. Then he discovers that she’s exactly the right kind of quirky: She likes the Smiths and all the other stuff he does! Hansen tries to play things cool, but it’s clear that he’s in deep trouble. Read the rest of this entry »

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