ANNIE REVIEW

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I think I’m going to like it here. Well, I didn’t like this.

A needless remake of a classic musical. OTT, ridiculously cheesy and to make it all worse, it was just rubbish.

From the opening musical number with the sassy Annie (Quvenzhane Wallis) making all the class clap and stomp in tune (The front row the rich, the rest of the class poor) I was cringing. I believe a face palm may have occurred.

Really, Hollywood? An urban take on Annie. On paper, I thought why not? There hasn’t been one BUT rehashing the classics badly with auto-tune? This could have been an opportunity to make a statement on foster care or the social care system under the veil of song but no, no, no.

A poor rehashing of the same old story line that felt even more dated and hammy than the original.

The music wasn’t bad but the “Hard Knock Life” remixed with “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” didn’t do it for me. I felt the choice of Hard Knock Life was a little lazy considering one (of a long list) of the producers was Jay Z.

The whole spring cleaning routine to it was choreographed well but it just didn’t work. “The City’s Yours” sung by Jamie Foxx and “Opportunity” by Wallis were very good.

I did warm up to Wallis by the end but I found her a little annoying and too headstrong for my liking. Look at me, I sound like an old man. But something just didn’t sit right until she was paired up with Foxx. They worked well together and made the predictable cheesy relationship a little more bearable.

Foxx delivered on the singing. Of course, he would. The man won an Oscar for Ray BUT his character Will Stacks was almost a caricature. A deluded politician out of touch with the people.

Hardly original but guzzling hand sanitizer after touching and kissing a few voters? Spitting food at the homeless? Too OTT for my liking.

The auto-tuning video of said food flinging incident did get a chuckle.

Cameron Diaz overacted to the max. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a musical but I couldn’t take her seriously as the volatile foster parent, Hannigan. I winced every time she came on wailing at the kids.

The conviction wasn’t there and she annoyed the hell out of me. That was until she sang. When she first started, I thought “Bloody hell” (Well there might have been a few other choice words) but as the song carried on, her voice got better.

And credit where it’s due. She hadn’t got a bad singing voice. One actress I wouldn’t have minded hearing sing a little more was Rose Byrne. In the scenes she supported, she had a nice voice.

I would have preferred to hear more of that than her long winded stereotypical Oxford talk about being a workaholic and having no friends. That was irritating.

Look, I know musicals are always exaggerated and in your face BUT normally you can switch off and be immersed in it. And that is because as much as the songs stand out, the characters do too but I felt they strung any old cliched character together and just thought “It’s a musical, they’ll love it”.

Let’s not forget Glee is going. The musicals losing their magic once again.

There were watchable parts and the pace zipped along for its two hour length. You could tell the cast were having fun and there were scenes where you got caught up in it NOT just poking fun at it.

The cast choices surprised me. They sung very well even if the reworkings were a little hit and miss. I think I’m Going To Like It Here wasn’t bad, bar Stephanie Kurtzuba’s ridiculous impromptu social worker performance. She did my nut in.

The cameos were a little random. Patricia Clarkson (The Maze Runner) as a focus group member suffering bad side effects after using one of Stack’s phones fell flat on it’s backside. Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje (Mr Echo from Lost) was nothing more than a smiling chauffeur. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

David Zayas (Dexter) didn’t do too bad with his flower shop mope role with a vendetta against the powers that be. Michael J. Fox popping up in a satirical PR campaign segment was a clever touch.

A mermaid movie premiere that ripped off Twilight involving Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher and Rihanna wasn’t bad. It certainly poked fun at the guff that makes money these days.

BUT the rest of the actual movie was just like it!

Bobby Cannavale was on scene stealing form until the last 15 minutes of the movie. Boardwalk Empire’s Gyp Rosetti singing and dancing?! Madness. His song and dance number with Diaz did leave a little to be desired.

But the whole PR campaign in which they used Annie as a marketing tool was a good little bit of satire. Shame there wasn’t more of that to make up for the lifeless characters. Cannavale’s ruthless PR executive certainly kept things moving.

Some of his one liners were spot on; “There have been worst politicians. I know. I got them elected. Schwarzenegger, Kim Jong-Il, that blood diamond guy”. It got one of a few chuckles.

The story was weak. Little orphan looking for parents that left her. Befriending a man out of touch and out of love. Finding each other. Yawnnn.

Plus the plot holes were terrible. Annie sings about the note left by her parents. BUT then later on, reveals she can’t read?! What?!

Granted. Someone could have told her what it said. It would have been more of a twist if the note actually said something else. OR if all the sub-plotting and twists weren’t revealed in song. Seriously you knew everything that was about to happen. Would have been nice to have a little mystery.

Still would have been predictable BUT something.

The film ended so frantically and cheesily that I was shaking my head. All logic out the window for a racy finish. It was stupid. BUT no worries. Throw in some schmaltzy dialogue and a few jazz hands and everything will be okay.

Shudder.

It will be a while before the sun will come out on messy musicals like this. Not a complete write off. There will be enough for the little ‘uns and the hardcore musical maniacs who are not deterred by this review. Sorry, it’s a no from me.

2/5

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SEX TAPE REVIEW

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Like any sex tape really. Overhyped. Talked about by all your friends. And not as good or as dirty as you hope or think.

As soon as it started with the alluring Cameron Diaz effing and jeffing about sex. Cue a montage of her and Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) in numerous sordid positions in numerous places, I feared the worst. It was OTT, stupid but most importantly not funny. I can do random, silly, crude humour. As long as it’s funny.

To be honest, it only really kicks off when the duo inevitably make the sex tape to spice up their flailing marital sex life. If you’re lucky not to have seen the trailers then some of the gags in which the pair try and outdo each sex act, it brings the odd chuckle. Diaz has proven she’s game for a laugh in the past; There’s Something About Mary, The Other Woman and boy she’s still got it at 42. Wowewewow. Anyway . . .

I could get over the fact the pair were trying to act like 20 year olds in the flashback montage because Diaz and Segel worked well together. The film only really gets going when the actual sex tape is shared across a number of iPads through a naff syncing app. A ridiculous premise in which Jay (Segel) gives away all his iPads as a charitable gesture. But that’s only because I’m tight and would have sold them for a quick buck but hey, there wouldn’t have been a movie otherwise.

Cue an anonymous text blackmailing our guilty couple and a mad hunt to seek all the iPads and deleting said tape leading to a watchable if mediocre comedy. The supporting cast were picked perfectly. Rob Lowe was fantastic and in scene stealing form. How he did all it dead pan? I will never know. His obsession with Disney characters being an unexpected but much needed gag, helped ignite this flat battery.

Incorporating himself into every Disney picture around his mansion was completely random but hilarious. The heavily advertised Alsatian fight sequence with Segel was still brilliant. And to be frank, I was laughing a lot more than I expected to and the pace soon zipped along as the madness ensued. Segel’s spiel (Didn’t mean to rhyme there) certainly improved things and made gags and one liners work when they really shouldn’t.

Rob Corddry (Hot Tub Time Machine) and Ellie Kemper (21 Jump Street) were pretty good. Cordrry in particular, delivering some belters yet again.

Robby (Corddry): Who has sex for three hours?
Jay (Segel): We did!
Robby: That’s the length of the movie “Lincoln”. You did the full Lincoln.

A guilty laugh from me. An unexpected cameo from Jack Black was great. Black can do no wrong. Literally showing up  to spew some random porn site names. Should be dumb but funny. Desperation? Laughing at porn site names? Maybe.

Apart from the odd one liner here and the unexpected funny gag there, the rest of it does reek of desperation. Swearing, drug use and shagging thrown in to make up for the lack of . . . anything really. The kid actors were wasted (Not literally) and were highly unmemorable. Well it can’t be helped when the biggest kids in the film are the parents. Sebastian Hedges Thomas made the most memorable impression as the little sod (Trying to keep it clean) Clive.

The commentary and debate about couples losing their sex life as soon as they get married wasn’t a bad concept. We got a little tidbit of depth with our couple as Diaz and Segel juggle busy schedules, work and kids but it’s soon soiled by, “When shall we pencil in to fuck?”. Delightful. NOT.

It zips along and certainly kills 90-odd minutes. Not the worst film I’ve seen by the way critics are laying into this. I don’t know why snobby toffs would even bother seeing films like this. It was always going to be slated. Sometimes big dumb movies are a great release. Switch your brain off and relax. Unfortunately this one was killing my brain until the gags finally got going.

2/5 for me

THE OTHER WOMAN REVIEW

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Here come the girls yadda yadda yadda. I mean, here comes another generic OTT chick flick. But if you go in with the right temperament, it’s actually quite watchable, if ridiculous and a lot funnier than I anticipated. Hardly perfect. But with a lovely set of leading ladies who are game for a laugh, it just about gets away with it.

If you haven’t seen the trailer; firstly you’re lucky. Secondly, the gist is that after discovering her boyfriend is married, Carly (Diaz) soon meets the wife (Leslie Mann) he’s been betraying. And when yet another love affair is discovered, all three women team up to plot revenge on the three-timing S.O.B.

A slightly different take on it all. We follow Diaz falling in love with the charismatic Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, or Jamie Lannister to the majority. I can’t believe he was in this after Game of Thrones. Some will see it as a different turn from the actor, others a massive step down. The moment in which Carly finds out he is married is still entertaining, despite being flogged in the trailers. You can feel for both Mann and Diaz and their cringey first encounter makes for humourous viewing.

Cameron Diaz has proved before she’s game for a laugh and plays the straighter role and plays it well. However, the scene stealer is Leslie Mann. She has proven time and time again to be a talented and funny actress. Her introduction into the movie did come off very irritating at first.  Her running commentary was annoying and highly unfunny. However, once she meets Diaz, she steals the show. In one scene, she is able to play a remarkable drunk. I’m still convinced she was actually drunk. The next scene you see this vulnerable woman who is battling to come to terms with the fact her marriage is over. She soon grows on you and you do feel for her.

I mean the film could have gone down a more serious route, but I felt for most of the film, the balance worked. I mean it does get more ridiculous as the film carries on it’s running length, especially by it’s shattering climax, shall I say. Crazy. But it’s that sort of film, it’s silly, stupid but at least its fun. I mean the introduction of Kate Upton wasn’t really needed. I felt Mann and Diaz were a decent pairing and worked well off each other. However, Upton doesn’t do a bad job, as far as model debutantes go. She plays the airhead to her strengths and her slow motion bikini clad beach run was a fitting tribute to Bo Derek in 10. Surprisingly, she brings another angle. The trio work well together and manage to make silly jokes come off a lot funnier than they should be. Plus they’re not bad on the eye either. What? Ladies you got Lannister and Taylor Kinney (Chicago Fire) as Kate (Mann)’s brother.

Coster-Waldau plays the arrogant cheater very well. I mean, come on he is Jamie Lannister. The pranks and reconnaissance on him are silly but entertaining. It was surprising to see Nicki Minaj play a normal role. Looking lovely. What? Shame her acting left a little to be desired. I mean I knew she was robotic when she rapped but I didn’t realise she spoke like one?! Don Johnson (old James Crockett from Miami Vice)’s appearance was unexpected. He plays Carly’s crazy player of a father quite well.

It was never going to win plaudits. Nick Cassavetes’ directing efforts have always surprised me. The fact he can go from John Q to The Notebook still baffles me. Some will see it as another lazy chick flick that goes for lazy gags.  I mean scenes involving a badly behaved devil dog will split people. I didn’t know a certain moment with Diaz and the dog was not planned and unscripted. Brilliant. At it’s best, a well acted fun film. At it’s worst, thanks to the finale, ridiculous and predictably corny. If you love these sort of films, then give it a go. If you don’t, then this won’t change your views. But if you can take them with a pinch of salt, then give it a go. I’ve seen a lot worse this year.  3 (just) out of 5!

Currently ranks #123 out of 172!