Category Archives: Comedy

I am serious…and don’t call me Shirley.

Vice (2018) Movie Review

Adam McKay likes to show. And show. And show.

As he moves further from straight comedy and more toward a dark comedy examination of political America, McKay’s showy style becomes more apparent. In a way, it is more permissible to have a broad comedy film be brash and in-your-face. While such a style is not destined to fail in a more dramatic setting, it is harder to grapple with tone in that setting.

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McKay’s The Big Short shows some signs of this tonal problem. Largely a depressing subject, the comedy flourishes in that retelling of the housing crisis don’t translate well. The non sequitur cutaways to celebrities are jarring and ineffective. What shines in that film are the performances, showing that the director understands the import of Continue reading Vice (2018) Movie Review

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The Favourite (2018) Movie Review

Lady Sarah: Love has limits

Queen Anne: It should not

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Those unfamiliar with the work of Yorgos Lanthimos may be surprised to hear that The Favourite is the man’s most accessible film to date. A court drama about the shifting power dynamics between three women—Queen Anne (Olivia Colman), her long-time confidant Lady Sarah (Rachel Weisz), and new arrival Abigail (Emma Stone)—this feverish portrayal of high society at its lowest states of depravity is Continue reading The Favourite (2018) Movie Review

The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018) Movie Review

In The House with a Clock in Its Walls, poor man’s Jacob Tremblay, Lewis Barnavelt (Owen Vaccaro) moves into his Uncle Jonathan’s (Jack Black) house in Michigan following the untimely death of his parents. The house, decorated at the gate with year-round pumpkins, is filled with clocks. One of these clocks resides within the walls.

Get it?

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Jonathan is a bearded man who wears kimonos and top hats, aka a warlock. He eats enough cookies (and nothing else) that he is, optimistically, pre-diabetic. His platonic roommate Florence Zimmerman (Cate Blanchett) is defined by her love of purple. And his nephew, Young Sheldon, is precocious beyond what is healthy for a child. He quotes dictionary entries for fun. That’s what we’re working with here.

Just as Lewis gets settled into his new living environment, he realizes everything inside his house is Continue reading The House with a Clock in Its Walls (2018) Movie Review

The Party (2018) Movie Review

A political nomination, triplets on the way, a terminal diagnosis, a constantly chiming cell phone, and a pistol. These are the nodes determining the tizzy that is The Party, a black-and-white dark comedy from Sally Potter.

Janet (Kristin Scott Thomas) has just received a new position within the opposition party. To celebrate, she hosts a small get together with friends.

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At least, they appear as friends.

Husband Bill (Timothy Spall) sits dour in a chair, only stirring to move the needle on his turn table. College friend April (Patricia Clarkson) is quick to Continue reading The Party (2018) Movie Review

The Happytime Murders (2018) Movie Review

Imagine an intellectual property for children re-purposed for adults but written for the sensibilities of a child. In a nutshell, that is The Happytime Murders, the hard-R reskin of the Jim Henson muppet IP. The film is not created by children—it is directed by Henson’s son Brian and written by indie filmmaker Todd Berger—but you wouldn’t know it from the scripted jokes.

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The film follows a disgraced Los Angeles cop, Phil Philips (Bill Barretta), who now serves as a disgruntled P.I. He does, in one lengthy scene, spew silly string from Continue reading The Happytime Murders (2018) Movie Review

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (2018) Movie Review

Gus Van Sant is a bold filmmaker. Hyper-restrained, brutal meditation on teenage violence in Elephant. Shakespearean adaptation populated by post-beatnik prostitutes and street rats in My Own Private Idaho. Prescient commentary on a dangerous media landscape in To Die For. Ill-advised and ultimately disastrous remake of a classic in Psycho. Even when they don’t work as intended, his films offer something unique and often refreshing.

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Following what is arguably his biggest achievement in Milk, Van Sant fell into a slump with the flat, uninteresting Promised Land and the critically-panned, audience-ignored The Sea of Trees. Now he’s back with a return-to-form film, for better and worse.

Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot is a biopic of the late cartoonist John Callahan (Joaquin Phoenix). It focuses predominantly on his life-long struggle with Continue reading Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (2018) Movie Review

The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018) Movie Review

Susanna Fogel’s The Spy Who Dumped Me reminds me of The Hitman’s Bodyguard, but it probably shouldn’t. Both are two-hander action comedies. Both feature comic characters journeying across European countries toward a singular goal. Both were released in August, the dying-end of the Summer movie season.

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Otherwise, comparison doesn’t seem warranted. The Hitman’s Bodyguard is incompetently shot and flat. The Spy Who Dumped Me exhibits a level of competency in its action filmmaking that exceeds what is required for an action comedy. In most respects, the action is Continue reading The Spy Who Dumped Me (2018) Movie Review