THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU REVIEW

this-is-where-i-leave-you-84296-poster-xlarge

This is where I leave the cinema for a bit . . .

No, it’s not that bad. But not that great either considering the talent at Shawn Levy’s fingertips.

Levy’s projects have always been okay (Real Steel/ Date Night/The Internship). For some of you those titles might make you wince. The master of ground breaking comedy classics? Not even close.

The cast did their best with the material. It’s just a shame that the material is not that good. In all fairness, Levy takes a stab at family dramedy. But maybe he shoudn’t have.

AND if you wanted anyone to head a dysfunctional family, it would be Jason Bateman (Arrested Development/Horrible Bosses).

So what’s it all about? When their father passes away, four grown siblings are forced to return to their childhood home and live under the same roof together for a week, along with their over-sharing mother (Jane Fonda) and their spouses and exes.

Jason Bateman was brilliant. He carried the film in my opinion. His marriage breakdown story line was hardly original but it gave an extra something to the endless childish sibling bickering that dominated the majority of the screen time. How it was all resolved was a little predictable and terribly flat but at least there were a few dramatic moments to be had.

Tina Fey didn’t really deliver as much as I hoped. I know she’s funny. Come on, 30 Rock and Date Night proved that. It felt like she played it safe and stuck with the tame script which made her highly unmemorable, bar two little scenes. She worked well with Bateman and did her best but with her comedic prowess, you expected something a little better.

Adam Driver (What If?) was a much needed comedy injection. His lines were hardly comedy gold but his delivery and style managed to get a smile out of me. His relationship with Bateman made for an entertaining and endearing one.

Connie Britton was wasted in her role. A shame after her turn in Friday Night Lights and Nashville. A nothingy character that didn’t really add anything to the mix. Nothing more than a psychiatrist MILF that Adam Driver got to show off to the family.

Speaking of nothingy role, Timothy Olyphant come on down! Absolutely gutted after his terrific performance in Justified. His character was involved in a naff subplot that didn’t really go anywhere. This is what infuriated me with TIWILY. There were so many missed opportunities with the characters and the cast to make more drama and better story lines.

I know that this was adapted from a Jonathan Tropper novel. I can’t say how faithful the film is to its source material but it certainly hasn’t made me want to read it.

Some of the gags were just plain terrible. I mean the recurring joke of the little toddler moving his potty around to poop all over the house was just not funny. The little toddler himself actually was hilarious. His improvisation with some of the cast was brilliant. They didn’t expect him to retort back. More of that would have been perfect.

But potty-ing (I know it’s not a word. I’m not wasting any time finding another) around the house and flinging poo? Awww. No. AWWW – Are you kidding me? Put your potty in the bathroom, boy. Jeez.

Anyhoo . . . The sibling rivalry and tension wasn’t badly done. Everyone can relate to it in some capacity and the moments in which they look back and experience the old nostalgia make for some nice moments. One of the gags that should have been branded as just plain lazy actually entertained me.

A scenario involving some marijuana and a synagogue classroom actually allowed for a comical encounter between Bateman, Driver and Corey Stoll (Homeland). It was great to see Stoll have a bigger role and he doesn’t do a bad job as the stubborn older brother.

Ben Schwartz was incredibly annoying as the hyperactive Rabbi Charles Grodner or Boner to everybody else. Delightful. A guest that gets a giggle and then overstays his welcome . . . in almost every scene. Not even the (usually) hilarious Kathryn Hahn (Step Brothers/We’re The Millers) could save the day with her kooky momma hell bent on getting preggers. It was weak.

And Jane Fonda . . . Apart from having fake pumped up breasts to cue inevitable breast feeding gags, she was highly unmemorable. In fact, there was a bizarre revelation that occurs nearer the end of the film which doesn’t fit in at all. It didn’t work and just completely unnecessary. It was nothing more than a lazy plot device to stop the family scrapping. The only bit of real heated drama that got me interested.

Dax Sheppard (Without A Paddle) played the two-timing sleazebag well. But is this the only character that he can play? And to be honest, when he was first introduced with the Howard Stern DJ spiel, it wasn’t funny. Just annoying as hell. It made a change for Abigail Spencer (Suits) to play a more meatier role as the cheating wife. But the story line was so hammy and predictable, it never really hit the heights that you’d hope.

Rose Byrne (Damages) and Bateman had good chemistry but their love subplot was so generic and corny that I really couldn’t care. Tropper left their little romance so open as a feeble attempt to prevent the predictable outcome but just made it flat and uninteresting.

To be honest, this film only did one thing. Well, two. Waste my time. And make me realise how good August: Osage County was. If you want a good family drama, then I’d invest your time in that instead.

There is the odd moment to be had. One chuckle here, one little heart plucker there. But memorable and entertaining? Quotable and re-watchable? Meh.

2/5

*THROWBACK REVIEW* A NEW YORK WINTER’S TALE

imagesanywt_intl_warm_27x40_1sheet

An unexpected watch. Went in to the screen (not literally) expecting the usual luvvy duvvy guff (my terminology for romance stuff), but came out surprised. A well-acted love story that is as different as it is strange. Cudos for the concept but not so much for its execution. Great chemistry from a great cast shies away from the numerous plot holes. However, I would say give it a go. One that doesn’t deserve the backlash it received.

At its core without spoiling too much is the story of thief Peter Lake (Colin Farrell) who fights to keep a dying girl’s (the beautiful Jessica Brown-Findlay from Downton Abbey) hope alive in a battle against a devilish villain, the scarfaced Pearly Soames (a sinister Russell Crowe). However, what ensues is quite different, actually. Their love unwittingly becomes a game between hidden angels and demons. I kid you not. A supernatural love fantasy that spans a century . . . almost.

Not what I expected at all from the trailers. I was going in for a typical by the numbers old fashioned period piece. The opening hooked me from the get go. We follow an amnesiac Farrell in the present day New York attempting to piece together his identity and his past. It all flicks back and forth and has enough questions and intrigue to keep me quiet.

Once the story sets itself in 1916 and the supernatural elements kick in, it gets even crazier. It all settles down a little too comfortably when Farrell and Findlay first meet, with the pace slackening. The usual love at first sight guff. The chemistry between Findlay and Farrell is brilliant. They make such a likeable couple that can get away with some of the more cringey one liners.

Crowe plays the baddie role to perfection. But for even with his Bond villain scar face, you can’t help but feel his role is being wasted. Reduced to merely plotting, making deals with fallen angels and demanding approval from his superior, The Judge (ol’ Big Horns himself. That’s right. The Devil). Cue an unexpected cameo that brought a smile. I would love to tell you. But this a story all about how . . .

I don’t want to talk about the story too much as I do want people to see this.

Caleb Deschanel’s cinematography certainly made the film worth looking at. The performances are brilliant with a massive ensemble; William Hurt (Lost in Space/Damages), Jennifer Connolly (Labyrinth/Blood Diamond), Matt Bomer (White Collar/Glee) and Scott Grimes (ER/Band of Brothers) in a blink and you’ll miss it role.

Now I understand that the film was adapted from a Mark Helprin novel. Unfortunately I will admit that I haven’t read it. This film has certainly peaked my interest. But that is mainly because despite its attributes and every supernatural twist or turn, a bigger plot hole popped its ugly head. Without being too spoilerific, why was Farrell Irish when his parents were Polish immigrants? Can the guy really not do any other accent?

And what was the deal with the horse? Anyway, despite being pulled apart at the seams, it’s still a nice jacket to look at, even if it looks different to what you expected when you paid for it. An interesting concept for a debut from writer/director Akiva Goldsman. Considering this was the guy (yeah he’s a guy. I know, right? Thank God I did my research) who produced the Paranormal Activity franchise.

An easy-going supernatural love ride that may be a bit shoddy on the exposition but makes up for it with originality, special effects and good acting.

3 (just)/5

BAD NEIGHBOURS REVIEW

neighbours

Rogen vs Efron. Family vs Frat. Who Will Win? There’s only one way to find out . . . if you like that sort of thing.

Rogen’s best? Not even close. But is it funny? (The very purpose of a comedy). Did I laugh? Is it one of those movies where the best bits are in the trailers? Yes, yes, and unfortunately quite a bit. Once you’ve seen Rogen hurtled up in the air after sitting on a rigged chair involving an airbag, it gets old very quickly. Although Rogen creeping around the house with a broomstick did reprieve the gag. Surprisingly enough one of the heavily advertised gags wasn’t in the film. Back to my getting old quip. At it’s very core, the film is about a couple who have had their first child (the adorable Vargas twins) and are still trying to be cool and young. Beating the “constraints” that parenthood has apparently set on their “partying” lifestyles. In all fairness, there could have been a bigger examination into their relationship but it would have been an entirely different film.

A couple of well acted scenes make them a little more than a caricature couple. But come on, this is a fraternity freakshow involving Seth Rogen. He applies his slobby swearing spiel and luckily it still works. The whole slacking smoking pot thing is getting a little old. Rogen and Rose Byrne work well together and have good chemistry. It was good to see Rose Byrne (Damages) take off the serious shackles and lighten up. The scenes in which the Radners are trying to be cool with the kids is incredibly cringeworthy but nicely done. Others will say not funny, but that’s kind of the point as the pair battle to come to terms that its time to grow up. Or is it?

That soon gets thrown out of the window as low and behold the house next door is sold to a fraternity led by the charismatic and incredibly hench Zac Efron. (Just when I couldn’t hate him any more). Efron shakes off that squeaky clean High School Musical mould in one silk movement of his middle finger. Efron proves yet again to be a talented lead in a testosterone-pumped cast of fraternity frat boys. In all fairness, once Efron and Rogen meet, the film picks up. Their Batman impression off is worth watching alone. The getting high and taking shots scenes. Again, once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. Rogen and Efron in a drunken dance off. Better.

Once the rivalry is set and the pranks begin, the thin plot gets thrown out like Rogen on the airbag. Where we got Efron coming to terms that he may have wasted his college years partying and the Radners battling to accept parenthood, we soon get college humour, dicking around (No literally, Rogen and Efron at one point are slapping each other with giant dildos) in an inevitably corny and OTT fashion. The big punch up finale being an incredibly hilarious, if ridiculous scene. It’s all still enjoyable, if a little lazy. It’s a shame that the talented cast didn’t really make as much of an impact as you would hope. Lisa Kudrow (Friends) plays a useless dean, Carla Gallo (Bones/Superbad) is shoved in an irritating and useless role and Christopher “McLovin/The Motherfucker” Mintz-Plasse is highly unmemorable, simply squawking YOLO in a high pitched voice. Disappointing after so many great turns. Ali Cobrin (American Pie: American Reunion) and Halston Sage (The Bling Ring) were wasted as silly frat chicks. Shame.

It’s the smaller names that provide the funnier characters. Craig Roberts’ turn (you may remember him? Look again. Here’s a hint. Richard Ayoade’s Submarine. Yep) as the appropriately named Assjuice wasn’t bad. Just as we get rid of one Franco, we find out there’s another. Dave Franco (Now You See Me) was good and is proving to be one to watch. Up and coming stand up Jerrod Carmichael was hilarious as weed junkie Garf. The award for scene stealing support act goes to Ike Barinholtz (The Mindy Project) as Rogen’s neurotic best friend Jimmy. His impromptu one liners, bat shit crazy attitude and impeccable impressions of certain celebrities brings the film up a notch. The scene in which the frat house explain their origins and how they came across beer pong, the boot, etc was cheesy if funny and a lazy excuse to shove in a number of cameos from The Lonely Island and Jake Johnson (Nick from New Girl).

So in conclusion, do you like Rogen? Do you like Efron? Then bienvenue this film is for you. It’s big, dumb, silly, corny, OTT but brings the odd chuckle. Not a keg full but enough little shots to keep you buzzing 3 (just) out of 5!

Currently ranks #64 out of 175!