Sunday, June 20, 2010

She’s Out of My League (2010)

Movie quotes:
Jack: You know what your problem is Kirk?
Kirk: What?
Jack: You’re a moodle.
Kirk: A moodle?
Jack: A man/poodle. Girls want to take you out on a walk, they want to feed you, cuddle you, but – no girl…wants to do the moodle.

At a glance:
‘League’ starts with a hilarious, original and quirky insightful comedy, but falters when it insists on becoming a more conventional rom-com.

Our review (with spoilers):
Kirk (Jay Baruchel) is a plain looking guy with mild ambitions and medium-level self esteem. Up to now he has settled for a go nowhere airport security job and a cuckold girlfriend. But through circumstance, he becomes friends with fresh-faced beauty Molly (Alice Eve). Against all odds, Molly begins to fall in love with him. And even though everything is going right, Kirk purposefully foils the relationship due to his own lack of confidence.

There are very few great films. Most are flawed in one or more ways, of course. She’s Out of My League is tantalizingly frustrating in this regard, because it is one of those films where the first 40 minutes or so is everything one would want from a comedy. But as sometimes happens, the entire script is not great. There are 40 minutes of great jokes combined with fantastic comic casting. ‘League’ is in many respects a by-the-numbers rom-com, but Baruchel is unique, Eve is well cast and well-performed, and the supporting cast is a deep well of quirk. But League’s need to be by-the-numbers also does it in. Baruchel’s fumbling of the relationship is not believable – not after so many scenes where he had done so well in this regard. Some of his goofs are pale imitations of similar scenes from better films. And the jokes run out when the romance gets more serious. Still, you’re not going to see a better 40 minute snippet of rom-com for some time – so it’s still worth it. And Kirk’s outrageous dad, brother, ex-girlfriend, and their hockey-related humor is priceless.

Rating:  2.75 of 4

Other reviewers said:
"Every time I thought it was developing a comic pace, it would stumble, most notably in a few extended, ridiculous gross-out scenes late in the film."
- Brian Tallerico [Movie Retriever]

Friday, June 4, 2010

I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)

At a glance:
Jim Carrey throws his all at playing famous con man Steven Russell in this lighthearted, sometimes hilarious romp through scams, prison, and love

Our review (with MAJOR spoilers):
Note: Please watch the movie first before reading any further!

Steven Russell (Jim Carrey) presents a compelling argument for nurture versus nature. Abandoned as a child, his life is shaped by deception and lies. He seems to be happily, passionately married to Debbie (Leslie Mann), but he’s living a double life. Some of his hidden moves are on the other side of the law. When he is arrested and incarcerated, he meets and falls in love with fellow inmate Phillip (Ewan McGregor), a sweet man whose naive nature has been taken advantage of before. Steven swears to protect him, but the only way he knows how is with money made from scams. Of course, that ends up having the opposite effect.

The film’s first 20 minutes are absolutely hilarious, especially if you have not been spoiled by a review like this one. Directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa set a buoyant, lighthearted tone, deviate from it when required, and return to it, making for a true start-to-finish film experience. There are a couple of moments that may offend some people by making light of illness – but comedy does that sometimes – and it’s worth it for the surprise. Plus it’s based on a true story.

This is a wondrous starring role for Carrey, who gets to combine his gift for comedy (and, occasionally, his talent for bending his body into amusing shapes) with his latter day ability to create a sincere character. McGregor, one of my favorite actors, gets to play gay ‘straight’ here – not taking part in the comic side of things at all. Carrey’s character is based on a true person/story – check out the Steven Jay Russell wiki article for more information.

Rating:  3.5 of 4

Other reviewers said:
"It's the comic role of a lifetime for Jim Carrey, who apparently worked for union rates in order to help the film get made."
- Catherine Bray (Film4)