*NEW* BAD MOMS REVIEW *NEW*

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Bad, just bad.

Well, that’s what I thought I was going to say. Kunis and co killed it! A surprisingly watchable and mad little movie.

When three overworked and under-appreciated moms are pushed beyond their limits, they ditch their conventional responsibilities for a jolt of long overdue freedom, fun, and comedic self-indulgence.

I went in expecting nothing and came out with a big ol’ smile for all the right reasons this time!

The opening zipped along as Mila Kunis’ workaholic mom Amy (Family Guy) raced around ferrying the kids from school to all their extra-curricular activities, as well as PTA meetings and holding a part time job. You could relate and empathize with her character as she dotted about the place at 90 miles a minute while her childish husband lounged about the place.

To be honest if I didn’t know that this was penned by the writers of The Hangover and exaggerated so heavily, this could have passed as a dramedy. Emjay Anthony (Chef) and Oona Laurence (Southpaw) were pretty good as Amy’s mental kids.

Kristen Bell (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) was perfectly cast as the nerdy “weirdo stay at home” mom. Her eccentric behaviour and random one liners had me smiling throughout. I wasn’t sure whether I was going to like Kathryn Hahn’s (We’re The Millers) loudmouth trailer trash talking slutty single mom. The endless dick references did go on a bit BUT she soon won me over. An absolute nutter.

The dynamic between the three leading ladies worked really well. I think there were genuine moments where they improvised which made the scene better for it. Especially during Amy’s mom-bra and sex talk scene. I don’t know how Bell kept a straight face while Hahn was using her as a prop.

It felt like a “What if Mean Girls became Mean Moms” scenario. Especially when you look at the PTA board. Jada Pinkett-Smith (The Women) was great as Applegate’s snidey underling. Christina Applegate (Vacation) was brilliant as the stone cold bitchy PTA chairwoman and Annie Momolo (Bridesmaids) was funny as the ditsy Viv who really hadn’t a clue. You kept wondering why she was in their little entourage in the first place.

David Walton (About A Boy) played Amy’s obnoxious husband Mike well. It annoyed me how quick their relationship was breezed over. You got the idea that maybe marrying too early and having kids was the only thing keeping them together BUT it could have been explored so much more.

BUT it wasn’t that type of movie. It was all swept under the carpet for the new widower on the block (Jay Hernandez – Suicide Squad). Kunis had great chemistry with Hernandez which helped drudge through the hammier scenes as their romance blossomed.

I had a laugh watching the ‘bad moms’ break free from their “jobs” and “roles”. Giving the kids a life lesson about fending for themselves instead of being entitled little gits. Getting drunk, going to the movies during the day and getting fooked up. It was OTT, mad BUT for a good portion of the film, entertaining.

Kunis was excellent and redeemed herself after her shambolic performance in Jupiter Ascending. My only quibble was the endless “being a Mom” speeches. I got the point after the first one BUT we had several more cheesy speeches in between the drunken parties and crazy supermarket shenanigans.

Clark Duke (Hot Tub Time Machine) wasn’t really that funny as Amy’s childish boss. The whole new generation gag was good BUT not quite as effective when Kunis’ character was 32.

It may have been a little corny and stupid BUT it was fun and went past any expectation I had. Especially after the mixed reviews I read. It was a nice touch in the closing credits to have the actresses sharing childhood memories with their real mums. Kristen Bell’s mum was hilarious.

If you’re in the mood for an easygoing laugh, give it a go.

3/5

*NEW* NOW YOU SEE ME 2 REVIEW *NEW*

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And now for my next trick. Watch a franchise that nobody wanted . . . DISAPPEAR!

The Four Horsemen resurface and are forcibly recruited by a tech genius to pull off their most impossible heist yet.

Now You See Me was an enjoyable romp. Hardly ground breaking BUT easy going fun with a group of magicians hustling some rich conglomerates. I didn’t expect the finale and was even more surprised when a sequel was confirmed.

I hoped the next outing would carry that same level of energy and fun BUT this was utterly dreadful. Irritating characters, drawn out pace, a terrible story line, farfetched stunts that pondered all levels of plausible acceptance and really shoddy CGI made this one to avoid.

It’s not essential to watch the first outing. You get the entire plot summarised in the first 30 seconds. The opening showed promise as we explored Dylan’s (Mark Ruffalo) past and the reason behind his rivalry with Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman).

BUT once it flashed forward to the present, the intrigue was lost. Eisenberg’s Atlas was far too serious and sulky. I don’t know whether he was still getting over losing his hair for the shambolic superhero saga that was Batman vs Superman BUT his griping and silly backstabbing antics were dull as dishwater.

We had a new Horseman, person or Female Horseman (Whatever) in Lizzy Caplan (Mean Girls). I thought she would be a worthy addition to the mix. BUT she was incredibly annoying. She wasn’t funny and her verbal diarrhoea was insufferable. I think Isla Fisher made the right decision not to come back.

What didn’t help was the agonizing pace. The film should have been cut by a good 30 minutes. Mark Ruffalo (Avengers) was the most interesting character and he was barely in it! Every time Dylan appeared, things happened and I was hooked. I was happy to follow his subplot NOT the Horsemen. Battling to keep his cover under the watchful eye of Sanaa Lathan (who was wasted in her role).

Proof in the pudding when one of the best scenes was Dylan causing havoc in a Chinese street brawl. The fight sequences combined with a series of magic tricks were well choreographed and stopped me fidgeting in my seat.

I have to admit the Horsemen really did infuriate me. Woody Harrelson had been on resurging form with his recent endeavours (True Detective) BUT this was a complete misstep. He went full retard as Merritt’s twin Chase with his Will Ferrell-esque wig and badly capped teeth. An unnecessary character that tested me in every scene.

Dave Franco (NERVE) did his best with his role BUT was lost in the mix. Eisenberg eventually lightened up and delivered his usual schtick BUT it was too little, too late.

You know you’re onto a loser when Morgan Freeman’s dulcet tones are doing your head in. His silky voice couldn’t save this leaden script. If anything, it highlighted the clunky exposition. A revelation about Bradley unintentionally undermined pretty much a good portion of the premise from the first one.

Daniel Radcliffe wasn’t too bad as the weasely Walter Mabry. He played the slimy techno villain well BUT he wasn’t in it enough. NOT even the return of Sir Michael Caine did anything for me. He was laughable. Doing his best Victor Meldrew impression. Dismal.

What made matters worse was that the actual hustle and magic tricks were far too OTT and farfetched for my liking. I know it’s only a movie BUT some of the big reveals defied physics or common sense to work even in a Hollywood universe.

An elongated card flinging sequence took the biscuit. Watching the gang flick a badly CGI’d card in the air and around their torsos to smuggle a computer chip was just plain terrible.

However, the finale delivered a little of what I expected from the get go. The effects actually did impress; especially when Eisenberg disappeared into a puddle of rain. Tense, engaging and watchable. WHERE WAS THIS FOR THE REST OF THE FILM?!

The characters were dull, the pace was too long, the effects were hit and miss and the twists were either too predictable or just plain ridiculous. They even missed a trick by not calling this Now You Don’t BUT if there any rumours for another; my title would be:

NOW, PLEASE STOP!

2/5

A MOST WANTED MAN REVIEW

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Philip Seymour Hoffman was definitely a most wanted man for this drab moody political thriller. A showcase and a reminder of the loss of a talented actor. The film will certainly not soil’s Hoffman’s prestigious reputation. But Anton Corbijn on the other hand . . . not so much.

A drawn out and needlessly complicated thriller that proves to be oh so simple and tedious that the 127 minute length just doesn’t justify itself or keep you engaged. It was always going to be tough to do a spy film these days, especially after nine series of Spooks, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Homeland.

The opening score and the subtle title sequence was nostalgic of the 70s political thrillers. A good sign. The moody overtone captured perfectly against the Hamburg backdrop by the cinematography of Benoit Delhomme. The story was typical John le Carre. Spies lurking in the shadows. The inevitable waiting game as a mystery man washes up on the banks of Hamburg after evading capture from Russia. Is he a terrorist? A man sneaking refuge from a torturous nation? Or a distraction for a bigger play?

The inevitable chess game as each agency fishes information out one another waiting to see who makes the first blunder or bluff revealing their intentions. Each move carefully analysed and discussed. Cryptic references and stories that are saying something without saying something. Grigoriy Dobrygin plays the mysterious Issa very well and will certainly be one to watch. However, the main scene stealer was (and was always going to be) Mr Hoffman. The opening half hour was PSH chain smoking and walking a lot of steps. It was a waiting game and believe me you felt like you were.

Hoffman is a fantastic presence along with a flawless accent. He doesn’t break out of his German twang once. The same cannot be said for Rachel McAdams who certainly gives it a punt but dips in and out. Not everybody can do it. Willem Dafoe was surprisingly good but his character was wasted as the film churned along.

The mystery soon borders on pretentious and just plain dull. Maybe Andrew Bovell and Anton Corbijn should have taken some lessons from The Lives of Others. Slow burning but tense, intriguing, hypnotic with a nail biting finale. This was just slow. Corbijn had impressed with his previous efforts: Control and, more importantly, The American. Suspenseful, tense and brilliantly shot. I understand it was adapted from Le Carre. But even some of his weaker and less renowned works still had some intrigue. The hour marker allowed Hoffman to shine and show what we will miss from him and that is his acting prowess. Delivering lines with tenacity and conviction. Pumping some life into this lead balloon.

The sense of paranoia and fear against the post 9/11 backdrop certainly provided a suitable catalyst. Robin Wright playing the American envoy who gate crashes the party was good. Sweet and supportive in one second, cruel and commanding the next. Typical. Some will smile. The fractious tension between the Americans and Germans is set up perfectly in the relationship between her and Hoffman. The film finally appears to be getting somewhere, setting things up for a tense finale, only for it . . .  to fizzle away abysmally, becoming a lazy statement that is all so predictable. Commentary that has been made time and time again.

A look into the inner working of politics between the agencies was interesting if void of suspense. PSH didn’t look particularly well. He looked rough. I mean he never was the epitome of physical health but it certainly puts an air of darkness around the film, especially knowing that this was his last film to grace the silver screen. Daniel Bruhl was completely wasted in the role. A nothingy supporting role, a mere cameo that didn’t do him any justice, especially after the prolific year he has had appearing in Rush and The Fifth Estate. Anyone could have played him.

It is a good a send off as we will get for the man. The problem with these slow burning poker games, I’ve seen them done so much better. I have patience for pace if the characters are interesting enough to keep me peaked. We were watching one man as Hoffman spurned cryptic babble to a number of agencies trying to enforce their own method of politics in the veil of “counter terrorism”. Homeland proved that watching one man could be interesting but here’s the thing the man actually did something. Not hang around in a bedsit praying, whining and trying to pull a Mean Girl. (Okay, Homeland did do that too).

Dull, drawn out and desperate. For every little move, a nightclub chase here, it was crushed with one chess piece, being endless dialogue and conversation that went no where. It certainly captured the look and had a prolific star that will certainly be missed but had to little in terms of suspense and intrigue for me.

2.5/5