THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU REVIEW

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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

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LEGO MOVIE REVIEW

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Everything in this is AWESOME. Finally, a fun family movie, not without it’s imperfections, but enjoyable none the less. 3D makes certain scenes stand out but not a MUST. Apart from that, the makers behind the equally brilliant Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs have assembled a hit.

Basically, the plot follows Emmet (Chris Pratt), an oblivious construction worker who is mistaken for the ‘most extraordinary person’ in all of the LEGO universe, and according to an old prophecy, must defeat the evil tyrant with the best bad guy name . . . Lord Business (That one got a tweet out of Michael Moore), voiced by the legend that is Will Ferrell, who is plotting to destroy the world with his secret weapon, the Kragle (brilliant. When you see what it is). The animation is brilliant, considering it is LEGO. The detail and the fun it pokes at the limited movements of the LEGO pieces is hilarious. The fact they make great expressions with their little black eyes is nicely done and the action pieces although rapid are great to watch.

The cast are fantastic. Chris Pratt is on form as naive dimwit Emmet. Morgan Freeman providing his infamous voice and gravitas to the senial wizard Vitruvius. Will Ferrell grumbling and picking at the craziness of it all as the sinister Lord Business, President of the Octan Corporation . . . and the entire world. Elizabeth Banks as the loveable rogue Wyldstyle who is tasked with protecting Emmet (“Come with me with you wanna NOT die”). However, cudos must be awarded to the supporting characters. Will Arnett’s (The Millers, Arrested Development) LEGO Batman is hilarious. His dark love song being a personal highlight.

Charlie Day (Horrible Bosses) as Benny, the bonkers 80s LEGO astronaut guy (SPACESHIP!). Alison Brie (Trudy from Mad Men?!) as the bi-polar Unikitty, who unhealthily bottles up her negative thoughts and last not but least, “I don’t have much money, but particular skills legend” that is Liam Neeson as the two faced good cop, bad cop was fantastic. Such a surprise to see the huge cast attached to this and that they can all poke fun at themselves. Don’t look at IMDb if you want to guess them.

There was an unexpected twist near the end that dipped the film a little bit. It worked but I couldn’t help but feel that it was a slight rip off of another animated hit, hint hint, cough, The Spongebob Squarepants Movie. As usual, some of the better bits are in the trailer. But it zips along at a great pace, keeping it light and fun. I was impressed with the clever satire they put in as well. The fact that Emmet is completely unaware he is under the rule of a dictatorship with propaganda everywhere. Most annoyingly so, in the incredibly catchy song Everything is Awesome by Tegan and Sara featuring the Lonely Island. 3D is not neccesarily an investment for this. A couple of bits stand out with the lasers and machinery but not a must. The animation would look just as good as in 2D.

Do you like Lego? Do you like the games? Then this is for you. Is it fun? Absolutely. One the family will enjoy? I don’t see why not. Hardly a classic but a fresh take that stands out from the churned out family movies these last few years. Get on it. 4 pieces (just) out of 5!

Currently ranks #25 out of 141!