I make it a nice round half dozen in volume 6 of Perusing Prime 2016!
So, back in January I signed up for Amazon Prime’s free 30-day trial on the back of Dave’s recommendation. So far I’ve done five perusals – with one based on it’s two big drama series Mr Robot and The Man In The High Castle – which can all be found here. And over the course of the 30 days I managed to watch enough films to fill 4 volumes of Perusing Prime, but had one film left over, so I’ve topped this up with a few films that are on Amazon Prime but that I have watched on DVD.
And with that out of the way…
Kentucky Fried Movie (John Landis, 1977)
To most, Kentucky Fired Movie is probably best known as the film that launched the career of director John Landis and wirters Jim Abrahams, David Zucker, and Jerry Zucker. Landis made Animal House the next year, and went on to made such classics as The Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf In London, Trading Places, and Coming To America. Zucker, Abrahams, and Zucker also hit the big time a few years later with Airplane!, and followed up with The Naked Gun series. But how does the film itself stand-up?
Kentucky Fried Movie is a sketch-based film, similar in tone to Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life. There’s also a similar (rather adult) silliness to the comedy. The main part of this film, however, is a half an hour Enter The Dragon spoof called A Fistful Of Yen, which is probably the weakest part of the Kentucky Fried Movie. The martial arts sequences are really good, but it is the least funny “sketch”. The rest are still a bit hit and miss, but as I mentioned in my w/ Bob & Dave review, even if you don’t laugh, you know there will be another one along in a minute.
The number of good sketch comedy films can be counted on the fingers of one hand – I’m really struggling to think of any beyond the Monty Python films, and one of them is basically a compilation of the TV series, repacked for the American audience. This is one that I really enjoyed. If you’re a fan of of the Zucker, Abrahams, and Zucker films and have always been curious about their first film, I definitely recommend it.
The Duff (Ari Sandel, 2014)
The first film I watched when Perusing Prime was Scott Pilgrim Versus The World which featured Michael Cera and (in a small role) Mae Whitman. So it is with a sense of symmetry that the last film I watched is Whitman’s The Duff.
Since the American Pie movies (the first of which came out seventeen years ago, which makes me feel depressingly old) the high school movie is no longer the cinema staple it used to be. Apart from Dave’s favourite High School Musical, 2005’s Brick and 2010’s Easy A are probably the highlights, with maybe Napoleon Dynamite in the discussion as well.
The Duff is a far more traditional high school film than these. Brick is basically a film noir, and Easy A is a retelling of The Scarlet Letter. The Duff is the story of Bianca (Mae Whitman aka Arrested Development’s Ann) who comes to realise that she is seen as the D.U.F.F. (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) in her group of friends. Her neighbour and childhood friend Wes (Robbie Amell, cousin of Stephen Amell, star of Arrow) is the one who accidentally tells her that is how the whole school sees her, and in return for helping him pass a science class, will help her become popular in her own right. The film plays out almost exactly as you would expect, with the “plain, awkward” Bianca and popular football captain Wes slowly finding they have more in common than they imagine.
However, The Duff is better than it’s simplistic premise would suggest. There’s a very, very funny sequence with Bianca, in a fit of anger, deleting, unfriending, and unfollowing her friends on various social media platforms, and them doing the same to her. Ken Jeong and Allsion Janney get some decent lines as the school paper editor and Bianca’s mother respectively, both outright funny and occasionally moving.
An above average film. A definite recommendation.
Mr Holmes (Bill Condon, 2015)
And the purists amongst you can skip to the end. Although this film is on Amazon Prime, I actually watched this on DVD after my free trial. No Qatar-World Cup election controversy on my watch, everything above board and out in the open.
Mr Holmes enters a slightly crowded Sherlock Holmes marketplace. Although 2011 was the last time Arthur Conan Doyle’s detective was in the cinema with Guy Richie’s Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows, we currently have both the Benedict Cumberbatch version Sherlock from the BBC and the Jonny Lee Miller helmed Elementary from CBS. It is only a few years since the excellent House, which had Hugh Laurie playing a version of Sherlock as a doctor.
What makes Mr Holmes stand out from the crowd is a distinctly different Sherlock Holmes from any of these other incarnations. Based on Mitch Cullin’s book A Slight Trick Of The Mind, we meet Holmes (Ian McKellen in imperious form) as a 93 year old, frail and elderly man long retired from his consultancy. His housekeeper Mrs Munro (Laura Linney) and her young son Roger (an excellent performance from Milo Parker) are his only companions, but as he is trying to write a corrected version of his last case, his failing memory is causing him problems. He has taken to having jelly made from the prickly ash plant in his meals, a habit he picked up on a recent trip to Japan.We see his struggle with his last case in flashbacks (McKellen in glorious form as an older, not elderly, Holmes) as well as flashbacks to his trip to Japan.
The three strands (1918 Holmes, Holmes in Japan, and elderly Holmes) are all distinct, with three brilliant distinct performances from McKellen. The way the three stories come together is so satisfying.
A definite recommendation, in the strongest words possible, go and watch this film. In fact, it gets one of these…
and I don’t give those out often. In fact, only Planes, Trains, and Automobiles has got one so far in my time as a Snooty Usher. So yeah, Mr Holmes is very good indeed.
The LEGO Movie (Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, 2014)
And so the final film in my final Perusing Prime is a film that (like I think everyone else) when I first heard about made me shake my head. How on earth can a studio make a film about LEGO?
Well, Lord and Miller (who also wrote and directed 21 Jump Street) crafted a story around “the Special” a normal Lego minifigure who is prophesied to save the world from destruction. We meet Emmett (voiced by Guardians Of The Galaxy and Jurassic World star Chris Pratt), a normal, ordinary guy, who meets WyldStyle (Elizabeth Banks) who leads him to the wizard Vitruvius and the resistance, a group of Master Builders who want to rid the world of the evil Lord Business. Can Emmett realise his potential and save the world?
The LEGO Movie works really well as a “unlikely chosen one who has to save the world” type of film. It has one of the catchiest songs you will ever hear (with a brilliant, acoustic rock version in the end credits) and a whole bunch of hilarious cameos including Superman and Green Lantern, characters from Star Wars, and a certain American president. There are also some brilliant supporting characters, such as Liam Neesons’ Good Cop/Bad Cop, Alison Brie’s Princess Unikitty, and of course Will Arnett’s Batman, who will have his own movie next year.
However, there is a fantastic undercurrent of family that comes to the fore in the latter part of the film. Without revealing spoilers, the film actually starts working on a much deeper level than you would ever expect. As the kids say – right in the feels.
There’s not really much else to write about this film. Simply one of the most enjoyable, joyful films you will see. Highly recommended.
All in all, another good selection of films. Only having one month means that I cherry-picked the films I watched a bit more than when I’m Negotiating Netflix (which will be back soon!) but Amazon video has a brilliant selection of films on demand. I recommend each and everyone of you to sign up to the free trial NOW! You can cancel it straight away and the trial will still run for 30 days, so go for it!
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.