*NEW* EDDIE THE EAGLE REVIEW *NEW*

eddie-eagle-movie-poster

Easy going feel good fun.

The story of Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton), the notoriously tenacious British underdog ski jumper who charmed the world at the 1988 Winter Olympics.

“Eddie, you are NOT an athlete!”

I should have seen this coming from the producers of Kingsman: The Secret Service.

The silly opening got things going with a resilient young Eddie determined to achieve his dreams of reaching the Olympics. You had to admire the little lad for trying to do every known sport to man and failing terribly. Tumbling over obstacles, smacking himself in the face with shot puts, launching javelins through his dad’s window.

I was a little worried (at first) that Taron Egerton’s impression would make Eddie the Eagle look a bit simple. Especially with all the face pulling. BUT it wasn’t long before the bumbling oaf soon won me over. Another impressive turn from the Kingsman star. Definitely one to watch for the future.

I loved the 70/80s soundtrack. Belting some absolute tunes. BUT I didn’t love it as much as the supporting cast attached to this!

“And where do you think you’re going? I’m off to the Olympics Mum!”

Jo Hartley (This is England) was brilliant as Eddie’s mum. Forever supporting the poor lad and giving him belief when everybody else told him to give up (Including his dad!). Keith Allen was hilarious as Eddie’s exasperated father. Tired of watching him fluff up and not taking to the family trade of plastering.

Tim McInnerny (Blackadder) played the dastardly Dustin Target with aplomb. The snobby head official of the British Winter Olympics Commission who went out of his way to stop Eddie entering. Raising the bar that much higher every time he achieved the impossible.

The panning and landscape shots of the ski slopes gave me vertigo watching! Things did get a little repetitive as we watched Eddie crash and burn again and again. There was only so many times I could wince at Egerton’s CGI’d body fumbling and bumbling down the hill.

BUT you were still rooting for the clutz as he faced constant criticism. He was snubbed and ridiculed by the competing Norwegian Winter Olympic team. Even the prolific Finnish winter skier Matti Nykanen refused to give the Eagle an autograph.

However, once Hugh Jackman’s drunken and disgruntled former Olympian Bronson Peary came into the fold, I was sold. Egerton and Jackman were a fantastic duo. They worked really well together.

Jackman was a nutter. His OTT cheesy ski jump introduction did take the biscuit. BUT his crazy motivational speeches had me in stitches. I won’t think of Bo Derek in the same way. That’s all I’m saying.

The middle act did drag in parts as we had to wait for the reluctant drunk to fight Edwards’ bumbling charm and offer his services. Even if we’ve seen the underdog spiel time and time again (With the endless training montages), I still enjoyed watching this dysfunctional duo try and do the impossible.

I could feel myself getting engaged into the story as he overcame every obstacle that was thrown at him. I didn’t realise some of the facts and records that Eddie actually broke. The first British ski jumper since 1929?! He broke records just by qualifying! Unbelievable. I felt a little bad after only really remembering him as a novelty act and a bit of joke.

It probably didn’t help that I saw him recently in that horrific Olympic show Splash! on ITV just before watching this film. Writers Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton did bring that up as tempers flared between Peary and Edwards with that ever-increasing bar raising that much higher.

BUT the Eagle really didn’t care because he set out to achieve what he wanted. To become an Olympian. He came last in everything and yet kept breaking records for Britain. Mental!

The finale was cheesy BUT heartwarming and uplifting. The story may have been exaggerated BUT despite all its silly moments, this fun little biopic delivered one of the best messages going: “Don’t give up. If you have believe and determination, anything is possible and don’t sell yourself short”.

It wasn’t without its imperfections. The pace meandered along and Christopher Walken was wasted in his minute cameo BUT this was a real feelgood film and with a brilliant cast and some good humour, I think this one is worth your time.

3.5/5

Advertisements

WHAT WE DID ON OUR HOLIDAY REVIEW

what

From the makers that brought you Outnumbered. Now if you’re wincing at that title, then this may not be for you.

Doug (David Tennant), Abi (Rosamund Pike) and their three children travel to the Scottish Highlands for Doug’s father Gordie’s (Billy Connolly) birthday party. It’s soon clear that when it comes to keeping a secret under wraps from the rest of the family, their children are their biggest liability . . .

What We Did On Our Holiday very much follows that style and structure. Well, it is Outnumbered just with a completely different family. The children inevitably allowed the freedom to share their incredibly random but hilarious outlook on life.

A nicey-nicey dramedy that leaves you smiling. All in all, not bad. Not without its imperfections but a stellar British cast, along with some little newbies, help smooth out the creases.

David Tennant and Rosamund Pike (she’s been popping up everywhere at the moment and deservedly so) work well together as the sparring couple who must pretend to be happily married for the sake of keeping up appearances.

However, the kids have other plans. Mainly because they are kids and have no idea why they have to lie when Mum and Dad are always fighting and live in separate houses.

Harriett Turnbull and Bobby Smalldridge are fantastic as the curious little tykes. They come out with some belters that were most definitely not scripted. A highlight for me was when the little ‘uns met Annette Crosbie’s (One Foot in the Grave) lesbian ostrich farmer (You read that right).

She attempts to explain her sexuality, leading to the kids believing she is from a place called Lesbia. Smalldridge completely catches Crosbie off guard with a question about putting an ostrich’s egg back up her bottom. Even the comedy veteran cracked a grin.

Billy Connolly was, to be expected, brilliant. His story line with his ailing health hits a little more close to home. Especially with what the comedian is going through.

The discussions of death with the children are done very well and his character is instantly loveable as the giggling granddad. The family arguments are dealt with brilliantly and tackle the issues of divorce and spite, with the children inevitably suffering.

Ben Miller (Death in Paradise) doesn’t do a bad Scottish accent and plays the pompous uptight brother very well. Amelia Bullmore (Scott and Bailey) played quite a subdued role. That was until we dig into the reason (Luckily there was one) behind her silence. The answer lying in a YouTube video viewed by millions. Brilliant.

However, these stellar comedy actors were always going to play second fiddle to the kids. Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin have introduced another set of future prospects. Turnbull was definitely the adorable scene stealer. Her gruelling interrogative manner with Ben Miller was worth the ticket price alone.

Halfway through this easy going fam-dram, there is an unexpected twist. Well the outcome of the twist was predictable but how the characters deal with it surprised me. It certainly played with the macabre. I won’t say much more because this a film I want people to see.

It’s not all perfect. I wish more was made with the family drama. It all gets heated, brilliantly acted but then evaporates into a corny finale with cheesy grandiose speeches and everybody singing and dancing.

Bullmore’s character was clearly going through some sort of breakdown and how Gavin (Ben Miller) treats her and their son Gordy (Ryan Hunter) was quite poor. To be honest, Gordy was a bit of a drip. It could have been down to Gavin’s treatment but nothing was made of it. A wasted opportunity.

Celia Imrie (The Love Punch) played such a small limited role. A shame for a talented actress. She did well but anyone could have played her.

Another minor quibble was the relevance of the escaped ostrich? It kept popping up and running across the screen. By the end of the film, apparently none and it wasn’t even funny.

Despite a darker twist, the film was always going to be a fluffy family drama and it all ends a little too cheesy and happily for my liking (Maybe it’s the cynic in me) but certainly one of the better ones. Worth an investment.

3.5/5 for me

*THROWBACK REVIEW* BELLE

belle_xlg

Pride and Racial Prejudice or Frownton Abbey. A stellar British cast uplifts a syrupy biopic that you’d expect to see on ITV. 12 Years A Slave, this ain’t. It’s certainly watchable and zips along but it doesn’t really make full use of the cast or the subject matter and inevitably leads to the same old predictable schmaltzy finale.

So what’s it all about? Inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). The illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy captain is raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and wife (Emily Watson).

Belle’s lineage affords her certain privileges, yet the colour of her skin prevents her from fully participating in the traditions of her social standing. However, she soon falls for an idealistic young vicar’s son (Sam Reid – The Riot Club) bent on change who, with her help, shapes Lord Mansfield’s role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in England.

Well, at least gets the ball rolling . . . sort of, kinda.

The beautiful Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Touch) takes the fold and delivers a strong performance. One to watch for the future. Matthew Goode (Stoker/The Good Wife) applies enough charisma to make a memorable impression as Captain Sir John Lindsay, who plucks an orphaned Belle from poverty and much worse. A shame that he is only in the film for five minutes before departing on a long voyage.

To be honest, anyone could have played him. Penelope Wilton (Downton Abbey) seems to be typecast of late as the uptight old prune of an aunt but if she delivers the goods, does it matter? To me, just a bit.

Even Tom Felton is playing a Victorian Draco Malfoy, complete with “mudblood” attitude in tow. Don’t get me wrong, he plays the slick toothed snob to perfection. As does James Norton (or Tommy from the highly acclaimed BBC TV series Happy Valley) as Felton’s smug brother and partner in crime.

They are both the weasel-y twins (What?) as they try and weave their way into Belle’s fortune. Miranda Richardson (Blackadder) is also brilliant as their conniving matriarch. Emily Watson plays her part well, even if her character is completely unnecessary.

Merely, a commentator sitting on the side lines. Commentary that is self-explanatory as, to be honest, there is not a lot going on. The beautiful Sarah Gadon (Dracula Untold) is making an impression. She plays the dibby cousin Elizabeth well. You do feel for her character as she appears to be used as pawn in a game of rich chess or left lingering in the shadow of the “exotic beauty”.

I appreciate the concept and direction the film took. This is a completely different story to 12 Years A Slave that deals with the issue of race within the aristocracy. The fact that Belle was awarded the stature and position of any rich member of power and is unable to use it, says it all.

However, it all feels a little petty in comparison to the visceral gritty torture that Solomon endured. He was beaten, whipped and hung. Belle was made to eat in a separate room to the rest of the family and was perceived merely as an exhibition piece, an exotic jewel, nothing more.

Tom Wilkinson is fantastic as Lord Mansfield whose position is compromised in between fulfilling the law. The law that does not treat any person of colour with respect or even see them as people.

He works well with Mbatha-Raw which allows for some heartfelt moments. After the initial introduction and set up in an easy going half hour, the film seems to be happy to tend with the mundane gossip of petty rich Victorian folk while the inevitable romance blossoms between Belle and John Davinier (Reid). The awkward exchanges, the subtle glances and turning aways. Check, check. All there.

It all feels like by the end it is merely ticking the boxes for all the clichés of a period drama. Any chance of making statements are crushed by an inevitable corny love story. The finale is merely a revelatory court case with the verdict relying on Mansfield’s overriding decision.

A decision that is so obvious and unbelievably predictable that all the grandiose speeches mean nothing. I expected so much more.

It’s well-acted, easy going but doesn’t seem to be sure on whether to be a hard-hitting drama or a slow burning love story.

If you’re a period drama fan, then you’ll love this but it brings nothing new to the genre. Weaker episodes of Downton Abbey have done a better job (There’s never been a weak episode of Downton? That’s scandalous!)

If you’re already going in making comparisons and expecting 12 Years A Slave, then . . . watch 12 Years A Slave. Such a shame. Not bad but not great.

2.5/5

THE HUNDRED-FOOT JOURNEY REVIEW

The-Hundred-Foot-Journey-Movie-Poster-South-Africa

I wish it was done in 100 minutes. An easygoing feel good movie that is light on the drama but heavy on the cheese. Nice to look at but a little overcooked.

Enough food punnery! Let’s tuck in. It’s Chef meets Slumdog Millionaire in a nutshell.

The opening quickly establishes that from a young age, Hassan has a taste for flavour. A passion for food. It zips along, skimming past all the usual cliches as Hassan (Manish Dayal) tells the story of his humble upbringings from India to an uninterested stuffy French customs officer.

There are some predictable if endearing revelations as to why the family are now emigrating to France. “England was too bloody cold”, grumbles the talented Om Puri (East is East and my personal favourite The Parole Officer). An easygoing half hour has enough to keep me watching as the Kadam family reach the beautifully shot pastoral French countryside and open a restaurant directly across the road from Madame Mallory’s (Helen Mirren) Michelin-starred eatery.

An inevitable war brews between the restaurants as they compete for custom. Mirren plays the stubborn snotty French hostess with aplomb. Even if she had her upper lip pumped (tut tut tut Madame). It’s all quite tame and silly, with the odd chuckle as Mallory buys all the food in the local market so the Kadams have to drive 50 miles to the next village, for example. Inconveniences and minor scrabbles is as far as the tone of the film will allow. Puri delivers some cracking one liners and is instantly love-able. A character you’re happy to see more of.

However, he doesn’t quite get the screen time or depth to really make as much of a impression as you first thought or expected. A shame for a talented actor who has proven successful with comedies. He works well with Mirren and they have good chemistry. However, not enough was made of the tension between them and it all wraps up so predictably.

Dayal plays the role of Hassan brilliantly and is a very charismatic lead. More to see of him in the future, methinks. Inevitably he falls for fellow chef, the adorable Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon). For me, it all felt a little tame. Every obstacle felt more like a hiccup in which the family stumble but get back on their merry way with a cheesy grin.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still some surprises along the way. Especially in the brewing spat. Moments that I thought this fluffy film may not have touched. An event that resolves itself all too quickly, which leaves little for conflict after. Hassan and Marguerite’s ambition for becoming a renowned chef soon puts the sprinklers on their spurning romance. However, you just know how that story is going to end.

Hassan soon has to deal with the stress and pressure of fame as his cooking soon boasts his reputation among the cooking elite. As much as we can feel and relate to Hassan’s frustrations, you can’t help but know and predict how it’s all going to pan out with everybody smiling by the end.

For me the length was questionable. It meandered along way too much like the picturesque lake that Hassan and Marguerite share their picnics. There just wasn’t enough being made of the story or the talented cast with their loveable characters to justify it. Amit Shah, an up-and-coming comic talent was wasted in his role as Hassan’s brother-in-law Mansur. He has proven how funny he can be in The Infidel and the ITV sitcom Honest. Restricted and unmemorable.

It just about keeps you going but the tone of the film indicates what film you’re in for. An easygoing, nicey-nicey film, which isn’t a problem BUT it’s a shame because it could have been a lot more hard hitting and done in less time and been better for it.

You just can’t help but feel that if Mirren wasn’t attached to this vehicle that it might not have made the big screen altogether. The ingredients enough to serve as a ITV TV movie, at best. Uplifting, certainly. Funny, so-so. Easygoing? Yes plus it makes you want to go to France. But drama, tension and intrigue, it seems that the chef Lasse Hallstrom skipped a few steps in the cook book.

3 (just) out of 5 for me.

PLASTIC REVIEW

Plastic-Movie-Poster

Surprisingly watchable and entertaining. Hardly original or groundbreaking. Pretty much a darker Hustled up Hollyoaks hybrid but with a likeable and talented young British cast, I can think of worst ways to kill 90-odd minutes.

I went in expecting the worst and was relieved. A watchable easygoing crime caper, even if the end result is predictably the same. Ed Speelers has finally found a project to show off his talents after a number of misfires; Eragon and ITV’s Echo Beach. Playing the charismatic lead Sam, desperate to make a quick buck, he leads a rag tag team of chosen criminals who inevitably end up messing with the wrong people. In all fairness, the first 20 minutes zipped along quite nicely with the little fraudsters starting off as little Del Boys, fobbing off stolen merch to stereotypical posh toffs at uni. Stereotypical if hilarious riffs on the Made in Chelsea numpties.

The team of grifters get a passion for plastic. Stealing credit card information and data to buy a lot of expensive jewellery and  harvest a lot of wonga. The ease in which the team obtain their data is scarily realistic; perfectly demonstrated in a petrol station sequence in which cameras are positioned perfectly to catch pins and fake machines. A crime that does need to stop as the world goes DPA crazy. The “subtle” social commentary on the fact that students who are studying their degrees or have achieved them are probably not going to get a job in that field is a harsh reality that I can relate to. But resorting to corporate espionage and card crime, meh, I’ll stick to blogging. The lazy jibes about the economic crisis wasn’t necessary. We’re all stuck in it. Been there. Can’t afford the t-shirt. Felt like a mere excuse to help justify the cockney rebels’ cause.

However, the team soon rip off the wrong man, the ever reliable slithery Thomas Kretschmann (Dracula/Wanted). Not enough of him to be honest but he manages to make a mark. Hardly Brick Top from Snatch but impressionable none the same. He gives them a deadline of two weeks to pay up a £2 million “compensation” fee, leading to one massive, crazy, can’t-believe-it-but-apparently-a-true-story, con. Will Poulter (We’re the Millers/Son of Rambo) was arguably overshadowed. And for some reason, the lad had not grown up enough to carry the conviction his character craved. In one scene, the gruff gangster worked, the other he seemed more like he was doing one of his performances in School of Comedy. He delivers some of the more comical one liners. I mentioned overshadowed as one culprit in particular steals every scene and that goes to old Theon Lovejoy (prefer that comparison to sibling of Lily Allen) Alfie Allen.

Allen has always been able to play the shady, slick faced shithead but he does it so well and delivers yet again as the volatile Yatesey. A necessary, if untrustworthy, evil. A ticking timebomb waiting to explode. The beautiful eye candy, I mean, Emma Rigby (Hollyoaks) doing her best to be nothing more than a stocky love interest. I couldn’t believe that Graham McTavish (Dwalin from The Hobbit franchise) was in this, playing the ridiculous OTT and gullible mark to perfection, lapping up every minute.  It was great to see Ashley Chin (Starred Up) and Robbie Gee (speaking of Snatch) in somewhat limited roles. But talented enough to stand out. And Malese Jow. I only ever remember her from that Nickelodeon show Unfabulous. Wow. Stunning. But perverted comments aside, she plays the supporting role well. Sebastian De Souza (Skins/The Borgias) was originally quite a funny character and you did feel for him as he is rewarded the more irritating gigs but his character soon gets quite annoying and luckily subsides into the background. Shame.

As Sam says at the start of the film, “it’s not how it started but how it ends. How you got there”. And that’s a little bit of the problem, the start was highly watchable and once the con gets going, the plot holes start appearing and once the crazy Mission Impossible costume work comes into it, well it all gets a little silly. There were missed opportunities; most notably in Sam’s recruiting techniques. Intriguing at first, it soon didn’t surmount to anything by the end, without spoiling too much. And when I say, silly. The strange overuse of slow motion by the end of the film was irritating. I mean, a tense build up to an inevitable shoot out sequence borders on parody by the end, with people being shot left right and centre, then popping back up like they have been re-spawned in a game of Call of Duty.

Arguably this could have been a TV movie but in comparison to the bigger budgeted and supposedly more talented counterparts that have been released this year, this fares reasonably well. More so for me as a movie aficionado after an atrocious April of one star cinematic car crashes. Enough to stay afloat. At this moment, I’m looking for films that are watchable and this one falls into it. If you’re expecting Lock, Stock then you will be disappointed. I’m glad that this didn’t try to be, it’s better for it at that sense. But maybe a little of that ambition would have helped it fare a bit better and all. It’s 3 (just) out of 5 for me!

Currently ranks #86 out of 170!