Posts Tagged ‘Comedy’

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Cockneys Vs Zombies

July 8, 2013

Cockneys vs Zombies

As the name suggests, this is a very serious British period piece set shortly before the death of Queen Victoria, the general plot follows an assassination attempt on……

No, it’s cockneys, guns, zombies, guns, old people, and guns.  It is everything that you’d hope the film would be, scene stealing actors (not great actors but scene stealing ones), zombie action, and some of the funniest scenes I’ve seen in a movie in  years.  It is camp to the extreme, but done brilliantly for the budget and keeps the laughs coming.

I was fortunate enough to see this film as CONvergence, a yearly con in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, at a screening prior to it’s limited US release and with James Moran, the screenwriter, in the audience.  There was then a question and answer section after that.  So a bit of “history” on this film, it was the idea of the films director, with the original idea being a more serious film until James Moran got his hands onto it and turned it into a hilarious comedy/action film.  He had a few goals in this film, which included coming up with three things that he had never seen in a zombie film before, I would write what they are, but I only remember two of them and they are a bit spoilerish, albeit on the light spoiler side.  This film also has a moment that James Moran said was the best idea he’d ever come up with and that he wouldn’t ever come up with anything as great again, it is one of the most hilarious scenes in the film and very memorable as well.

The story is pretty simple, two brothers are trying to help out their granddad, but don’t have any legal means to do it, so they decide to rob a bank, while they are in the bank, the zombie apocalypse happens in London and they have to fight there way to try and save their granddad with various adventures and odd moments along the way.  What works with how this is written is, firstly it doesn’t take itself seriously, at all.  It keeps the jokes coming quickly, and with non-stop hilarity.  Secondly, the characters have their own stories and personalities.  Thirdly, for the type of story it is, it has a happy ending, and one that works perfectly with the film, I get a momentary chill thinking about it, it doesn’t seem like a happy ending was stuck on, but a sad ending would have been so out of place that it would have ruined much of the first part of the film.  And the blend of characters works well, you have a good sized range in age and type, plus none of the characters are pigeon holed into one area.    And Moran doesn’t do two common zombie things, firstly, he doesn’t spend time explaining where the zombies come from, they are found in a tomb, genetic experiment, contaminated ground water, previous zombie outbreak, who knows, but it doesn’t matter.  And lastly, he doesn’t spend time explaining about the head shot.  This takes place in modern day London, if you and I know to take out a zombie with a head shot, why wouldn’t these people.

The big names in this film aren’t really the main characters for the most part.  Alan Ford and Richard Briers, Snatch and Watershipdown respectively,  have rolls in this film and are on screen for a strong period of time, but aren’t the two major protagonists.  Rasmus Hardiker and Harry Treadaway play the two main characters, they do a good job in those roles, they play off of each other well, as does everyone else in the film, but they are minor names when it comes to American knowledge of their acting with City of Ember and Your Highness being the most recognizable names on their IMDB pages, after Cockneys vs Zombies (or at least I hope it will become that).  I should also mention Michelle Ryan who has been in a number of things as well including Jekyll and Cashback, her role is different than the normal girlfriend sort of roll she’s had and she apparently jumped at the opportunity to play a stronger smarter character.

Visually this film has a low budget, the make-up and special effects are solid, but there aren’t a ton of them like you would get with something like Zombieland, but it works well enough in this film, and zombies are so popular now that they had extras coming out from everywhere who wanted to be zombies.  One of the extras even sent a 20 minute screen test of himself being a zombie in to become an extra, he got a slightly larger roll than most zombie extras in one of the most memorable scenes.  But there aren’t any major mistakes in this film that I caught with continuity or anything like that, and with the type of film it is, who cares.   The music also works very well for the film, and a British Cockney band, Chas ‘n’ Dave wanted to be in the film ,but it wouldn’t work with their schedule so they wrote original end credit music for the film.

Overall this is a film I could gush over a long time.  Find this film, watch it, it’s coming out in 8 cities in the beginning of August in the US, but also VOD the same day.  It is hilarious, well done, and a feel good film.  My best comparison for this films is Black Sheep (NZ), but it isn’t nearly as bloody and gory as that film was, and I think it works better that way.  It doesn’t try and have the zombie horror jumps, it just is a very straight forward action/comedy film with zombies, and while zombies are starting to get over played a little bit, this is one case where they remain simply fabulous and work.

Critical Grade: C

Entertainment Grade: A+

Overall Grade: A

Just a quick reason for the grade, this film isn’t meant to be looked at through such a critical lens, there are films like this that are just meant to be enjoyed for the absurdity that they are, and if they don’t completely suck in other ways they can be enjoyed, so that is why this has an overall grade of an A while maintaining a C critical grade.

 

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50 New Movies in 100 Days: Transylvania 6-5000

March 12, 2013

Transylvania 6-5000

This is probably the only G movie that will make the list, but it had Jeff Goldblum in it so I had to watch it.  He’s always entertaining on the night shows and in the other movies I’ve seen him in, and that is what drove me this movie.  It is kind of a goofy sort of movie, I would call it an early spoof playing off of creature features and turning them into a fun lighthearted family movie, but still something that is quite funny.

The story starts with Jack and Gil being sent off on a after there is some found footage of Frankenstein.  They are sent there find if there is something actually going on for a tabloid.  Things in the town don’t seem quite normal, and Jack falls in love, while Gil decides that the stories are definitely real.  However, things don’t go all that well, Jack doesn’t believe Gil.  Things change with Jack’s flame’s daughter gets kidnapped by one of the monsters from all the old horror movies, Frankenstein, Dracula, Mummy, and many more.  The town folks come to kill the monsters, but it turns out they aren’t quite as monstrous as they seem.

The acting talent is pretty good.  Jeff Goldblum is obviously the actor of note in the film, and it is a pretty good film because of that.  He has his normal nice goofy quality to the film.  Ed Begley Jr, Spinal Tap and other films.  So there is a second name with some note in it the film, and they play off each other fairly well as the two main characters.  The supporting cast is good too.  It seems, the acting style is actually pretty old in terms of how they wanted it to look, it makes sense because they are spoofing a lot of old films, but they do so very well and it fits the whole goofy mood of the film.

Visually this film works, like I said, playing off of an older style and feel, where it mirrors more closely to the older creature features.  It has a nice light and goofy feel to it, and it is a very entertaining G film.  It has a fairly predictable twist at the end of it, but it comes off really nice and is enjoyable, even with the goofiness.

Overall this is a film that is very out of my character, I don’t watch all that many goofy children’s films, but this one, like I said has Jeff Goldblum in it, so that is why I watched it.  Overall I was pleasantly surprised with how it turned out.  Twist was pretty predictable but overall I don’t think it should have ended another way.

Critical Grade: B-

Entertainment Grade: B

Overall Grade: B

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50 Movies in 100 Days: Safety Not Guaranteed

February 18, 2013

Safety Not Guaranteed

This indie comedy is an enjoyable ride through some character development and fun situations.  It isn’t what you expect when you start it out which is nice and enjoyable, unfortunately about half way through it is easy to figure out what else is going to happen in the film and it ends up being pretty predictable at the end.  It works well though and is an entertaining film that is put together with a bunch of heart.

The story revolves around a newspaper add stating that someone is looking for someone to travel back in time with them, safety isn’t guaranteed and you have to bring your open weapons.  A Seattle based magazine decides to write a story about it, mainly so the writer can try and find an old girlfriend of his who still lives in their home town.  He takes along two interns and they track down the old girlfriend and the time traveler.  Things aren’t quite as they seem, the girlfriend isn’t the same and the time traveler isn’t all that right in the head, but he really believes what he is doing.  The journalist can’t get in with the time traveler (eventually does with the old girlfriend) but Darius, the intern can.  They continue collecting on the story and Darius becomes the fellow traveler, but the story falls apart when the journalist is rejected by his old girlfriend after they sleep together and it turns out that the time traveler is going back to save someone that didn’t die, but was an old crush of his that never had the same feelings about him.  But he was rightfully paranoid throughout the whole thing as the government did suspect him as a terrorist and were trying to find him.  He turns on the time machine and we’ll leave my retelling of the story there.

The acting in the film is good.  Aubrey Plaza, Scott Pilgrim vs the World and Parks & Rec, does a very good job as Darius, it isn’t a step outside of her comfort zone, she is still quiet and awkward and sarcastic, but she does a really good job of it.  Mark Duplass is good as the crazy time traveler, from the League, he comes across as paranoid, slightly insane and damaged but not as a dangerous crazy person, but someone who is off, probably suffering from some social mental disorder, but brilliant otherwise.  Jake Johnson is solid as the reporter who is fairly all over the place, he has a high image of himself but isn’t an outright bad person.  That is one thing interesting about this film, none of the characters are outright bad people, there is no pure villain, even the government officials aren’t bad, they have reason to be worried about the time traveler after he stole from government buildings, and they aren’t jerks.  Everyone is just normal in many ways, well very abnormal people, but normal in that there aren’t clear cut good and bad, everyone has their good things about them and everyone has their bad things about them.

Direction wise, this is a well put together film.  It has polish to it and doesn’t get caught up in trying to be stylized.  It is simply shot and shown and is a great character piece because of it, the characters only develop a little throughout the film in terms of progression, but there is a deep and rich back story which sheds light onto the characters as you go along.  There isn’t anything about this film that is overdone, even the time machine was a impressive looking machine is clearly cobbled together by the time traveler and isn’t this slick device.  It is bulky and the time traveler believes it will work, but no one else is completely sure about it and is very skeptical throughout the whole film.

The more I think about it, the better I like it.  The depth and flavor of character is really well done, even the side characters have their own back story which we get to hear part of.  It is predictable in the end, but that doesn’t detract a ton from the film.  Safety Not Guaranteed is a well crafted story that is very character driven in a very unique situation, and it doesn’t get bogged down in trying to be clever and people don’t act like they wouldn’t in those situations, so while the premise is very far fetched, the acting and everything seems very realistic in tone and makes for an enjoyable watch that I would highly recommend as a film that most everyone can enjoy.

 

Critical Grade: B

Entertainment Grade: B+

Overall Grade: B+

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50 Movies in 100 Days: The Experts

February 17, 2013

The Experts

Time to party like the 80’s, this is a hilariously absurd movie.  John Travolta with a mullet makes this movie, and the completely absurd plot makes everything work.  A Soviet town which looks like something from middle of the USA in the 1940’s is being used to train KGB agents for the infiltration of America.  Of course, it is set in the 1980’s, so the Russians are a bit backwards, which is where John Travolta and Arye Gross come in.

Anyways, more on the plot again now.  It is completely absurd like I said. A Russian officer goes to New York City to try and find something to bring the Russian training into the current time frame.  He ends up recruiting two young “hip” seeming former club owners, Travis and Wendell for a club that he says in the small town USA, Nebraska in particular.  They think the town is off and lame, so when they open up a new style club, it ends up flopping, they convince the Russian  officer to get them some stuff from the states,  and they end up creating in the people the idealism of the American freedom, some of the old steadfast KGB agents who decide to blow up Travis and Wendell, they escape, to get captured again when Wendell’s girlfriend turns him in, but by that point in time, the people in the town want to have freedom, so they escape again and  take almost the whole time with them to the USA and New York City, they realize that it feels wrong, so they take them to a small town in Nebraska to settle them there.

The acting is pretty hilarious.  John Travolta seems stoned throughout much of the performance, which is okay because it isn’t meant to be a serious film.  Arye Gross is maybe even more over the top.  His character goes through massive mood swings.  And they manage to change the whole town to their side in seemingly the matter of months, but, hey, it is a secret fake US town in Russia, so it is allowed to be hilarious.  Kelly Preston shows up as a KGB Agent who is sent by the committed Russian officer to break the boys and seduce Travis, but then she falls for Travis, and her performance/accent is as hilarious as almost everyone else in the film.

The film itself  actually has some solid look to it, the Russian town actually looks like it was a step back in time.  So Dave Thomas did a pretty good job with the look and feel of things, getting the actions of the people right.  And it was a great excuse for them to throw in almost every house song from the 80’s into a single film.  The sound track isn’t good, 80’s house music, isn’t all that great, but it is pretty hilarious, and it works wonderfully with the film.

This is one of those 80’s films that is so bad that it is great.  It is hilarious, intentionally, and just hits on every level of 80’s-ness.  If you aren’t up for a film that is very cheesy and absurd, then this isn’t for you, but if you want something to look back at (and reflect back upon if you were born in the 80’s or love the 80’s) and feel “nostalgic” about, this is a great film for that, extremely over the top, but very fun.

Critical Grade: D

Entertainment Grade: B+

Overall Grade: C-

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50 Movies in 100 Days: DeadHeads

February 7, 2013

DeadHeads

The best way to put it is that this movie is a poor mans Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland.  It is a low budget zombie romance comedy that has a very predictable plot.  However, that is okay, because the dialog is hilarious with some of the better one liners and awkward scenes that you’ll see.  There are definitely some forced lines in there, but the stoner zombie has many a great line that makes it an entertaining movie.  It isn’t on the same level as the other two zombie spoof movies that I’ve mentioned, but it holds its own for an entertaining ride.

After waking having been shot three years earlier, Mike finds out that there are now zombies roaming the Earth, not a ton, but more so in his area.  Things go from bad to worse when he realizes that he is a zombie as well.  He, however, is a higher functioning zombie where he doesn’t just eat and kill but can talk and think, and remember bits and pieces of his old life.   He is befriended by Brent, another high functioning zombie.  Mike finds and engagement ring in his pocket and is confused until he remembers his old girlfriend Ellie, and he wants to go back and find her and give it to her.  Brent decides that sounds like fun, so he tags along.  Along with the help of an uninfected old man they manage to break the quarantined area (along with their new mindless zombie friend whom Brent names Cheese).  They reach the home town where they are captured again, but not before Mike almost asks Ellie but chickens out.  They get help to escape so that Mike to fulfill his mission (and this is after he’s remembered that it was Ellie’s dad who had killed him).  And he finally tells Ellie, and she still loves him and says yes.  That is where the movie ends.

The acting in this film isn’t all that impressive.  The two lead actors are okay, Ross Kidder and Michael McKiddy, Brent and Mike respectively.  Kidder is probably the better of the two, but he also has the best lines to work with in the film.  Benjamin Webster, as a jerk perimeter security officer is probably one of the worse performances I’ve seen in a long while, it seems like something you’d see in a poor highschool short film, he overacts everything, which I think is what they want him to do, and yes, his character is meant to be annoying, but it isn’t annoying because he’s a jerk but because everything is so over the top and you don’t give a rip about his character.

Visually you can tell this film is a cheap film to make, which is kind of nice.  Brett and Drew Pierce do a good job directing this film for the most part, and more so did a very good job writing for this film.  They keep the jokes coming and make them so they aren’t completely predictable in their jokes.  And they tie in other movies like the Evil Dead quite well to their film, which their dad actually worked on.  And for their first feature length film, it isn’t all that bad.

This is a fun film, crass at times, over the top at times (well a lot of the time), but it is a fun blend of a zombie spoof.  It looks a bit cheap in the quality, but makes up for it with the jokes and a few of the characters, Brent and Cheese mainly.  If you want more of a zombie fix, you’ll enjoy this film.  It doesn’t have a ton of depth, but they keep it a cohesive film and it moves along quickly and isn’t all that long.

Critical Grade: D

Entertainment Grade: B

Overall Grade: C

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50 New Movies in 100 Days: The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu

February 5, 2013

The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu

I give this movie props, it is raunchy, funny, over the top, and slightly comic book like in how it handles some things, heck there are some comic books even in there.  It is a story that makes no sense, a relic of Cthulhu has been found, which is likely going to bring him forth and the only one who can stop him is this group who has the other half the relic, and the only one that they can give it to is the last remaining relative of HP Lovecraft.

So, I basically summarized the story already, but to go into more detail.  Two slackers, Jeff and Charlie are in a dead end job, there is a girl that one of them likes (and that’s the last we see of that girl).  Then there is a professor who gets pulled from his class by a secret organization which he is a part of, they give him the task of bringing their part of the artifact tot he last descendent of HP Lovecraft, who turns out to be one of the slackers, and a creature from the deep tries to steal the artifact, they run off to their nerdy highschool losers place (who happens to still with his Grandma.  They go off trying to find a sea captain who had run across the sea creatures before.  They end up eventually defeating Cthulhu’s minions in a pretty hilarious manner befitting the film.

The acting and whole film are really low budget, but it works for the film.  It is meant as a completely absurd comedy action film and no doubt that it actually works for the extremely low budget that it is.  Everything is completely hilarious in the action.  But Harry Saine, the director does a pretty good job.  The Kyle Davis and Devin McGinn are the two leading actors and they are pretty hilarious.  Barak Hardley is probably the best comedy in the film as the lonely nerdy friend.  Like I said, the production values are really low, but for the small budget that it likely had, it doesn’t seem cheap.  I started five minutes of the movie Cross, and it had bigger names, and it looked much cheaper in how it was put together.

Overall it was a pretty funny film and is actually entertaining to watch, and isn’t a long watch.  If you are in the mood for something that is completely absurd and full of wonderfully odd pointlessly weird situations.   It isn’t worth all that much more than a silly comedy and anything with Cthulhu mentioned in it, and briefly seen in animated form, is pretty good in my book.

Critical Grade: D+

Entertainment Grade: B-

Overall Grade: C-

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50 New Movies in 100 Days: TiMER

January 23, 2013

TiMER

This is probably my favorite film that I’ve seen in this 50 movies in 100 Days.  It is quirky good dark indie comedy.  It is set in the future when a new invention matches people tot he one that they are meant to be.  You get a TiMER imbedded in your arm.  Overall it is really dark and works really well.

Uma is a gal who is turning 30 and whose TiMER hasn’t started yet.  They only start when the other person gets theirs as well.  So she is tracking down guys without a TiMER, dating them, then getting them to get a TiMER to see if both of theirs start and match-up.  So far she hasn’t had any luck and he is constantly obsessed with trying to find someone.  In comparison her sister Steph knows when she’ll meet her true love, and it is 40 years away, so she is enjoying life while she can.  She convinces her sister to just enjoy life a little bit and have a one night stand, she has one with a guy with a TiMER that says he’s going to meet his true love in a little more than three months.  It turns out that his TiMER is a fake and they fall for each other.  In a final act of defiance Uma and Steph decide to get their TiMER’s removed, and just when Uma’s is about to be removed it starts counting down at five hours.  She decides to keep and then the dark tragic side of comedy starts.

The acting performances are pretty good in the film.  Michelle Borth and Emma Caulfield star as Steph and Uma respectively and their performances are good.  Emma Caulfield, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, does a particularly  good job acting desperate and obsessed with the TiMER’s.  John Patrick Amedori is good in the role of a young rocker with the fake TiMER and he does a good job of holding stuff together and falling apart at the end.

Visually this is a pretty good film, it has the look of an indie film.  They keep it simple without trying to build a futuristic looking world, everything seems to be set in a time very similar to now with a few minor changes, like the TiMER, people are still acting like people do now a day.  It is a well constructed film and nicely dark.

Like I said, this is the favorite of the films that I’ve watched thus far in the 50 new movies in 100 days.  It is my type of film, the dark and quirky with a hint of tragedy towards the end.  It is well put together and has a number of good laughs in it without being a film that tries and pull out the same tired jokes.  The concept is smartly put together and the acting performances are actually quite good.

Critical Grade: B-

Entertainment Grade: A-

Overall Grade: B+