Little fish in big pond don't hook
Published 20/02/2011 | 05:00
SIMON Pegg and Nick Frost are Graeme and Clive, two English nerds on a road trip around the extraterrestrial conspiracy hotspots of America's southern states.
They visit a huge comic convention, debate sci-fi and fantasy works and carry on like quaint British fish in a big US pond. When they encounter a cursing, smoking alien (voiced by Seth Rogen) who has escaped from Area 51, the pair are thrust into a race to get the little green man home.
Along the way, they adopt staunch creationist and love-interest Ruth (Kristen Wiig), while being hunted by her yokel father and government men in black. Each party learns a little more about being human from the titular alien as they do their best to keep him safe.
On paper, Paul sounds like promising foundations for an action comedy but the reality is underwhelming. It has its charms: a warm buddy-movie tone, good effects and Rogen's jocular timbre, for example, but too often the gags fall flat as UK and US humour styles clash.
The overall sense is that of a missed opportunity, one where ET could have been parodied and Pegg could have silenced a few detractors.
Paul is now showing
EVER wonder what it might be like to be at the receiving end of one of those Bernie Madoff-style ponzi/pyramid schemes? Watching Inside Job, Charles Ferguson's fascinating documentary about the causes and consequences of 2008's global financial meltdown, it's difficult to escape the sense that you've just been the victim of one.
Ireland isn't mentioned in this searing piece, but the subject matter couldn't be closer to home. Government incompetence on an epic scale? An out-of-control financial sector? Regulators who didn't regulate? All the systematic and human failings that prompted our own perfect economic storm are shown to be but a sordid reflection of the type of behaviour that, by the start of 2008, ensured that Wall Street had taken on the characteristics of a crime scene.
Narrated by Matt Damon and comprised of four distinct sections, Inside Job isn't so much an effort at showing the world where the bodies are buried as an attempt at revealing the identities of those whose fingerprints are on the shovel. It succeeds brilliantly in this regard. Breathtaking attention to detail and the merging of news footage with incriminating interviews involving the main players provides an end-product that is required viewing for anyone interested in separating the facts from the fabrication. The approach is admirably non-ideological and both Democratic and Republican administrations are shown to be equally culpable. Unmissable.
Inside Job is now showing
AN insightful voiceover establishes a suitably reflective tone during the opening scenes of writer-director David Michod's Animal Kingdom. "Crooks always come undone," it tells us, "always." The words are delivered by Josh (James Frecheville), an alienated Aussie teen for whom life is about to take a turn for the tumultuous. The death of his mother from a heroin overdose results in him moving in with his estranged grandmother, Janine Cody (Jacki Weaver) and, at first glance, what seems like the psychopaths "r" us, Melbourne chapter.
It turns out Janine's suburban home provides a base for a ruthless gang of armed robbers comprised of her three sons -- led by the sociopathic Pope (Ben Mendelson) and a partner in crime Baz (Joel Edgerton). It isn't long before this troubled teen finds himself in over his head. When Melbourne police embark on a "dirty war" aimed at eradicating the gang, Josh becomes a pawn in a power struggle being waged between the cops, led by an impressive Guy Pearce, and surviving members of this gang. Tragic consequences ensue.
Amazingly, Animal Kingdom represents Michod's debut feature and it didn't come as a surprise to hear that this quality piece has prompted critical comparisons with Scorsese. Performances are uniformly excellent, with newcomer Frecheville mercurial in the central role while Weaver's chilling portrayal of evil incarnate is worthy of the Best Actress Oscar nomination she recently received. The story is also strong but what raises this spectacle way above the ordinary is the director's capacity for suffusing proceedings with an epic, almost Shakespearean sweep.
Animal Kingdom is now showing
Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son
It was back in 2000 that Martin Lawrence first played FBI agent Malcolm who went undercover in a fat suit and a frock. Big Momma's House was a fairly resounding success and a sequel followed six years later. That first film was action -- all the pitfalls of a man discovering how complex women's underwear can be, and aimed at a grown-up audience. The sequel was pitched at a more family audience and this next instalment, Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son, is yet another repitch, aimed, I think, at teenagers.
Malcolm's (step)son Trent (played by Brandon T Jackson rather than Jascha Washington who played the part in the first two films) has got into university but much prefers the idea of a music career. Father and son are in mid-negotiation when one of Malcolm's FBI ops goes wrong, Trent is in danger and the boys have to go undercover in fat drag in an all-girls' stage school.What ensues is so stunningly tired as to be almost depressing. It's not even a rehash of the previous films, or not entirely because the change in pitch means it is an odd mismatch of previous Big Mommas, Glee and Lethal Weapon; it feels dated and lazy.
It barely even brushes with being funny and it's hard to see who it will appeal to.
Big Mommas: Like Father Like Son is now showing
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