MINIONS MOVIE REVIEW

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Not as despicable as I thought but nowhere near as good either. I know. Whaaatttttt?

This Minion fan was left feeling a little blue. For all the promise and the crazy cast, this lazy offering did enough to keep things watchable for the little ‘uns but failed to really make a mark like its predecessor.

Minions Stuart, Kevin and Bob (all voiced by Pierre Coffin) are recruited by Scarlet Overkill (Sandra Bullock), a super-villain who, alongside her inventor husband Herb (Jon Hamm), hatches a plot to take over the world.

As soon as the Universal logo emerged and those funny little yellow buffoons started humming the theme, I could feel a guilty smile spread across my face.

The animation was brilliant. The pace zipped along. The minions had enough charm and silliness to keep things lively. However, my smile soon faded as the opening 15 minutes were exactly like the heavily flogged and overlong trailers. If you were lucky enough not to see them then it’s fun enough. BUT for me all the best bits were spoiled.

I honestly thought that Gru had made the little yellow money makers. But it turns out they had been on this Earth long before man. The only surprise that I got from the film. That and the fact this script got through editing.

We watch the Minions as they desperately search for the biggest, baddest villain to serve and somehow manage to eliminate them instead. I did laugh at the gang as they knock a T-Rex into a volcano, blow Napoleon Bonaparte out of the sky and wipe out Count Dracula after opening the curtains during the day to surprise him with a birthday cake.

Geoffrey Rush’s voiceover was entertaining. If anything I wished there was more of it BUT there were only so many times the man could pronounce the word, “BA-NA-NA!” in a funny way. Thankfully, all the heavily flogged bits were wrapped up in that opening act.

And things did take a more interesting turn when the Nelson family were introduced. Michael Keaton and Alison Janney were on fine form. To be honest, I wish the Minions had stuck with them. They were mental!

I liked how you were able to tell Kevin, Stuart and Bob apart. Each with their own unique personality. Not bad considering they all sound the flipping same with their helium induced broken English, Spanish and gobbledygook.

Sandra Bullock did her best to bring the notorious Scarlett Overkill to life but her lines were not nearly as funny or memorable enough. She fell short of Jason Segel’s villainous Vector (“Curse you tiny toilet!”) and wasn’t even half as crazy as Benjamin Bratt’s brutish El Macho.

She had the odd one liner, “What are your names? My knights in shining denim”. But as she blathered on about her crusade for the Queen’s Crown Jewels, I realized how much I missed Steve Carrell’s Gru.

I couldn’t believe Jon ‘Don Draper’ Hamm was voicing Scarlett’s hub Herb. Completely out of character and lapping it up. He did his best to steal the show as the dimwitted scientist.

The sixties soundtrack was rocking, man. The Who, The Kinks, The Doors, Jimmi Hendrix. Loved it.

The premise was a little weak with our heroes, I mean villains, tasked with stealing the Crown Jewels. Cue a lazy montage of the Minions minion-ing up London as they breeze through a number of landmarks; The House of Commons, The Tower of London, Trafalgar Square. One little landmark did get a laugh that I didn’t expect.

BUT there just wasn’t enough. The gag ratio was low. Don’t get me wrong. The little devils still delivered in parts. Stuart wearing a thong while bathing in a hot tub with two yellow fire hydrants got a chuckle and the song and dance number homage to Singin’ in the Rain’s ‘Make ‘Em Laugh’ was brilliant.

I just felt that the writers went for lazy gimmicks. Resorting to old stereotypes for a quick titter. The whole British people with bad teeth and constantly drinking tea spiel has been done to death. I’m not just saying that as a Brit but come on! Really?

Not even the legendary Jennifer Saunders could save the day as Her Majesty. It was too OTT and just not funny. The bobbies on the beat running around with tea cups and shouting “Cor Blimey!” just infuriated me and the scene with the Beefeaters was just weird. No, seriously. It was a strange Full Monty-esque moment. Desperation?

The dark undertones were handled well. The macabre bumping off of “leaders” and the torture chamber scene luckily went over the little ‘uns heads. A joke involving Kevin and a noose may not have been the best thing for a kid’s film.

The Minions were always the funny scene stealers in the Despicable films but this movie proved that you can have too much of a good thing. And maybe that there was a reason why they were only minions.

It’s not all bad but it’s not that great. Disney and Pixar have proven time and time again that you can have films that appeal to everyone. This has enough for the little ‘uns but for the bigger kids (at heart) you may be left disappointed.

2.5/5

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UNFINISHED BUSINESS REVIEW

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Unimaginative, unmemorable and unfunny. My business with Vince Vaughn is now finished.

Well, I’ve found my contender for worst film of 2015 and we’re only into March.

Dreadful. I desperately wanted to like this with the talent on display BUT good lord!

If it wasn’t for Dave Franco, I think I would have given this a zero.

So what’s it all about? A hard-working small business owner (Vaughn) and his two associates travel to Europe to close the most important deal of their lives. But what began as a routine business trip goes off the rails in every way imaginable – and unimaginable.

A little imagination would have been nice.

I’ve always rated Vince Vaughn and defended his last endeavour; Delivery Man. I felt Vaughn could do both serious and comedic acting.

His deadpan delivery (No pun intended) has worked before. Dodgeball being a perfect example. BUT I can’t help but feel he’s trying to apply the same spiel to every character he takes on.

It didn’t help that his character, the lead character, whom we’re supposed to relate to and route for was incredibly droll and bland.

Vaughn’s delivery would have worked better if he had better gags to bounce off.

And trust me, the gags are few and far between.

Sienna Miller had the easiest job going. She looked stunning (as always) and nailed the American accent but her character was so dull I didn’t really feel anything.

I didn’t care that she was the bad guy in this picture. I wasn’t routing for the gang to thwart her plan. She wasn’t even that bitchy to be honest.

She just played a one dimensional corporate drone. If that was the goal, she nailed it.

Tom Wilkinson, oh how the mighty have fallen! He did his best but there was only one moment involving him that got a little chuckle.

I know Wilkinson can deliver in comedies. I couldn’t believe this was the same man from The Full Monty and hell, even the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel!

A hotel room blunder involving a sex maid with the alluring Kasia Malinowska was unexpected. More could have been made with the gag.

A missed opportunity but it wasn’t bad with Wilkinson trying to give out orders to a normal maid. “I want you to call me, Tony Stark.”

I think the only one who will come out of this unscathed is Dave Franco. He was brilliant as Mike Pancake. His surname being a recurring and irritating gag.

The first mention of his surname in a PowerPoint presentation got a chuckle.

Pancake? It’s Greek. Sounds delicious. Yum!

BUT the constant discussion and repetition of said surname soon buried that puppy by the 30 minute marker.

However, Franco’s nervous twitching, random theories and strange pronunciations on words stopped me from either walking out or falling asleep.

Screaming “Boobs!” at a naked sauna like a kid in a sweet shop. Yes! Trying to work out the wheelbarrow sex position and talking about it endlessly? No!

BUT at least he kept things watchable.

Nick Frost was terribly unfunny. A scene involving glory holes in a men’s toilet started off funny BUT went on far too long and got increasingly uncomfortable as the number of penises continued to pop out.

It felt just as uncomfortable as reading that last sentence.

There was no focus. No drive. The tone was all over the place. It didn’t know what it wanted to be. By the closing 20 minutes, the film took a more serious route. BUT it was still a dramedy that failed on both the comedy and the drama.

A naff subplot involving Vaughn’s fictional son being cyber bullied came off incredibly hammy and uninspiring. It reeked of desperation to try and add an extra dimension to Vaughn’s cardboard clown.

The desperation got increasingly worse as Vaughn’s other child is revealed to be a bully. Shock! Gasp! Snore!

And to make matters worse, it was dealt with so quickly and cheesily that I could feel the will to live fading, fading. It ended up becoming a lecture on cyber bullying. Heavy handed and in the wrong film altogether.

Even when the gang finally get to Berlin, I expected Euro Trip meets Margin Call BUT boy, was I wrong?

There were probably two gags that got a giggle out of me BUT every thing else was just terrible and it pains me to say that.

The cast do their best with the material BUT the material is so bad.

Even when a gag had potential, they either go too far, stretch it out or kill it. A frustrating encounter with a German talking SatNav had everyone laughing in the audience. God knows why? They must have raided the drinks fridge.

Yelling “Flugelslafen” repeatedly while Vaughn drives the wrong way up a motorway just didn’t do anything for me.

If Vaughn keeps doing stuff like this then I’m done.

One for the Franco.

1/5

PRIDE REVIEW

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A film that should have taken more pride in it’s story and cast. Solidly acted, well written but a case of hype helping an easygoing biopic that seemed to hinder as it reached it’s conclusion.

To be honest, I think it may be a sign of the time. Despite it’s subject matter appearing “controversial”, it seems to be showing that we are very much past that era. The fact that nowadays a film like this can be viewed and received positively says it all. I know I wasn’t around during that period and I can certainly empathize. But I’ll never really know what these groups truly went through. Director Matthew Warchus and writer Stephen Beresford capture that perfectly and there are endearing moments as the Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners group suffer the scrutiny of the miners as they try and show their genuine support.

An attempt to publicise their beliefs soon becomes so much more once they meet the mining community and realise that despite conflicting sexualities, the groups very much share something in common and unite in a time of desperation, anger and torment. My main issue is that the film deals with it far too lightly and for it’s all hype, I wasn’t really laughing that much nor did I shed a tear.

At times, the story felt like it was going through the motions. It’s tough to stick to a true story without exaggerating certain facts to make a little more drama. However, I feel maybe a little more could have been exaggerated to justify the 120 minute length. When I saw the trailer, I expected an OTT, feel-good laugh a minute British dramedy. It certainly ends uplifting and brings the odd chuckle but most of them are revealed in the heavily flogged trailers. If you’re lucky then the jokes will certainly be fresh to you.

One thing I will definitely commend is the cast of British talent at Warchus and Beresford’s disposal. It was a surprise to see ol’ McNulty from The Wire in drag. Dominic West plays the role perfectly, balancing it with the right level of camp and heart. Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton are, to be expected, superb taking roles with completely different temperaments. Nighy’s deadpan but gentle Cliff to Staunton’s domineering outspoken chairman Hefina. Paddy Considine played Dai brilliantly. A complete change from his more introverted and volatile roles (Dead Man Shoes being a personal favourite).

The film also gave opportunities for up and coming actors. Ben Schnetzer was fantastic as group leader Mark. He is one to watch and has made a huge transformation from his supporting role in the highly enjoyable The Book Thief. He certainly carries the group in their time of peril and indeed the film. Jessica Gunning’s performance as the ambitious Sian was also worth noting. She has been around on the UK TV circuit for a while now and was most memorable for her small role in Great Night Out. She certainly proved that she can take a bigger role and deliver just as much gusto.

Menna Trussler was superb and in scene stealing form as the gullible and naïve Gwen. A loveable sweetheart whose intentions are in the right place, even if they may have come out the wrong way. “Where are my gays? I’ve missed them”, as well as her bizarre questions that she wanted rectifying after hearing from a friend down the market. She certainly delivered the one liners. Andrew Scott (Moriarty from Sherlock) was finally able to make an impression once his character was allowed to open up. A meeting with his mothers after years of being shunned seemed like a missed opportunity that was dealt with far too easily and quickly for my liking. Faye Marsay (Fresh Meat) was very good as Steph, the only lesbian in the group.

Joseph Gilgun played the role incredibly straight faced, which made a change after his role as Rudy in Misfits. However, you really wanted him to have some of that eccentricity as his character is hardly memorable. Liz White (or Annie from Life on Mars) played the role of Dai’s supporting wife as well as she could but is somehow pushed into the background.

With respect to the miners, Warchus and Beresford do not portray them as oafish or as naïve as you first anticipated from the trailers. Beresford has established an array of well rounded characters that stand out and are easily relatable to. At Pride’s heart it is still a story of two groups of people that were being shunned and downtrodden by the public, the papers and the government (most importantly). The AIDS propaganda campaign. The red band coverage of the miners’ strike. It was a surprise to believe that the majority of the events did happen and as the credits appeared over each character explaining what happened after this unifying moment, there were some surprisingly revelations which did hit home.

The soundtrack was brilliant and really ignited that nostalgia for the 80s. Well acted, well written, bit long at the tooth but . . .

For all the hype, the best British film of the year? En par with The Full Monty, Brassed Off and Billy Elliott? A film that will stand time and be remembered in the future. Not to me, I’m afraid pet.

3.5/5 Still one of the better ones but for it’s all hype, falls short for me and could have been more. Worth a gander most definitely.