It has been mentioned that I am the usher who gets to the cinema the least. I always tend to catch flicks on either Blu Ray or on the various subscription services. When me and the missus get some time off we like to try and get as many films watched as we can. Click here to see what happened last time.
I have just returned to work following a nice 11 days off, which included a trip to Center Parcs, we managed to rack up 5 very different films during this time. Here is a little over view.
The Dish (Rob Sitch, 2000)
This is one of those films that I remember being a delightful treat. It was a time in my life, when I went to the cinema twice a week and watched pretty much what ever was out. This stood out from that time.
It tells the story of The Parkes Telescope, located in a sheep paddock in a small Australian town and its role in broadcasting the Apollo 11 moon landings to the world in 1969.
With any film you remember through a fog of nostalgia, re-watching it is always risky. Is it as good as you remember? How badly has it dated? Those questions are exacerbated by the fact that my wife only agreed to watch it based on my fond recollection.
I needn’t have worried, this little gem is as charming today as it was 16 years ago. The period setting took care of any dating issues and the story, while slight, holds up. Like any “Based on a True Story” film, there are some historical liberties taken but it doesn’t matter. Sam Neill leads the cast as the director of The Parkes Observatory. He and his team, which includes NASA interloper played by the brilliant Patrick Warburton go through a collection of comic episodes trying to capture this famous moment. The rest of the cast are made up of some charming Aussies actors (the older among you will recognise Stonefish, Danni Stark and David Bishop from 90s Neighbours in there).
A charming little trip down memory lane. It is available on Netflix, so get involved.
The Heat (Paul Feig, 2013)
This is one that has been on my DVD shelf for a long time now. Sandra Bullock is my all time favourite actress, but I find Melissa McCarthy a bit of a one trick pony. However my love for Sandra Bullock won the day eventually and we watched The Heat.
Story-wise, we are in classic buddy movie territory here with Bullock playing Sarah Ashburn, a straight laced, by the book FBI Agent (not a million miles away from her character in Miss Congeniality) trying to take down a vicious mobster. Her case brings her into contact with foul mouthed, rebellious but gifted Boston Police Detective Shauna Mullins, played with relish by Melissa McCarthy.
What I expected was Melissa McCarthy re-treading her steps from the multitudes of gross out roles that have come her way since her breakout in Bridesmaids in 2011, what I found was quite different, yes, those gross out elements are there and are over used at times but underneath, there is a gifted comic actress trying to get out. There is a vulnerability to Mullins that is masked by her gross out bravado. The chemistry between the leads is brilliant and Bullock, a wonderful comic actress herself while playing the straight role here has her moments (the diner tracheotomy is a particular stand out). There are also some laughs to be had from Mullins’ crazy family, which features ex-New Kid on The Block, Joey McIntyre and a brilliant cameo from Arrested Development’s Tony Hale.
The plot is pretty bog standard and if I am honest, a bit too thin, but as I mentioned the two leads are what makes it work. Too often female roles are under written, but here both actresses are given some depth (not a lot, but this is a buddy comedy!). Paul Feig keeps the action ticking along in a Brett Ratner-ish way that, while wont thrill the pants off you, it does the job.
I was genuinely disappointed to read that Bullock has turned down the chance to return for a sequel (her sequel CV isn’t the best Miss Congeniality 2 and Speed 2 were both stinkers), as I really felt that this franchise had some mileage in it.
A pleasant surprise.
Blended (Frank Coraci, 2014)
While I had seen this before, we watched this on the first day of our family break to Center Parcs. We had a few issues upon arrival, so when we eventually got child was settled and it was movie time, we wanted something easy to watch.
Blended is the third romantic comedy to feature Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. Both previous outings The Wedding Singer (Frank Coraci, 1998) and 50 First Dates (Peter Segal, 2004) are firm favourites in The McKee house and the latest entry is now firmly in the family. It is the weakest of the three for sure, but Sandler and Barrymore have managed to retain the chemistry of the previous outings.
Here Sandler plays Jim, a slobbish Sports Goods Store Manager, who is widowed with 3 girls and Barrymore is Lauren, a highly strung erm, Closet Organiser, divorced with 2 boys. Following a disastrous blind date, the pair keep finding themselves running into each other and by a twist of fate both land the same holiday of a life time to Africa. Will love blossom and can the two families blend? Of course they can, and it is a lot of fun to watch too.
There are a few too many Sandler-isms in there and Barrymore is a bit too neurotic to be as lovable as she was in the other films. A few too many jokes miss the mark or out stay their welcome (Terry Crews singing group being one) but this is sweet enough for it not to matter. I think it is the family man in me that loved this so much but it is a film that I can watched over and over again.
A nice film to turn your brain off to and relax. It is enjoyable fun.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (Guy Ritchie, 2015)
Now, I don’t get to go to the cinema nearly enough these days but more often than not, I manage to see the big stuff and make a real effort to watch the things that I really want to see. Last year however, I missed this. The TV show was one of my dad’s favourites and by association, one of mine. I am a huge fan of Guy Ritchie and well, it has Superman in it.
In spite of all of that, I never got around to seeing it. Never got a round to renting it on Amazon, so was patiently waiting until it came on Sky. Then, from nowhere Snooty Usher Dan Lauder got me it on Blu Ray, what a guy! So Center Parcs night 2, it was finally time to watch The Man From U.N.C.L.E. I am happy to say that I wasn’t disappointed. (By the way: United Network Control for Law and Enforcement. You are welcome.)
Set in 1963, this is very much U.N.C.L.E Begins. Professional thief turned CIA agent Napoleon Solo’s mission is to save the daughter of a ex nazi scientist, he is intercepted by relentless KGB agent Illya Kuryakin. After a thrilling chase, Solo completes his mission and finds that the threat to the world is so great that the CIA and KGB must join forces and Solo and Kuryakin become partners.
This is one cool film, Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer are just great as Solo and Kuryakin. I read a review when this was in the cinema, which said they were made for each other and I can not think of a better way to put it than that. Cavill nails Solo’s suave cool and Hammer gives Kuryakin a brutal edge. Brilliant as they both are, they are almost upstaged by Hugh Grant as cool MI5 agent who becomes there handler. Elizabeth Debicki has a ball as the villain of the piece and only Alica Vikander’s Gaby misses the mark, while she is game, the whole is she love interest? damsel in distress? double agent? was just a bit much. She just got in the way of the main leads and out stayed her welcome.
While I really enjoyed the film, in particular the opening chase through Berlin, this isn’t prefect, my issues with Alicia Vikander aside, the story could have done with more work but those are small complaints. It made a modest profit, and with Sherlock Holmes 3 on the horizon, a sequel is unlikely, which is a shame. I could quite happily watch many more adventures with Solo and Kuryakin.
This is a very cool film, but it might just be too cool for its own good. (You can check out Dan’s original review here)
Sisters (Jason Moore, 2015)
Now, normally this isn’t a film I would watch in a million years. That was however before I watched a brilliant TV series called Parks and Recreation starring the wonderful Amy Poehler, she is simply one of the funniest women working today. Add to that her near perfect vocal performance as Joy in Pixar’s Inside Out makes me willing to watch her in pretty much anything.
Here, she teams up with her old SNL partner Tina Fey in a comedy about, you guested it, a couple of Sisters. Poehler plays Maura, the sensible sister who has a career as a nurse and a nice house but never takes any risks. Tina Fey is Kate, the screw up, no job, no house and a kid who doesn’t respect her. Kate plans to repair her relationship with her daughter by moving back in with her parents (James Brolin and Diance Weist having a ball) in Florida. However to the sisters dismay, their parents have sold the house. The pair decide to throw one last party to say goodbye to their childhood memories. Predictably, it all gets out of hand and hilarity ensues.
A running theme through all of the films I watched that week is the chemistry of the leads and that chemistry elevating the film. This is again the case here. This should be an average, predictable film and in lesser hands would have fallen a bit flat, but Poehler and Fey (Poehler in particular) are on great form. They are so comfortable with each other and watching them improvise and bounce off each is a real treat. Watching Poehler fumble through many attempts to flirt with her neighbour is the highlight of the film, culminating in a side and *gulp* bottom splitting scene with a ballerina music box. There are some wonderful laugh out loud moments and a brilliant turn from WWE superstar John Cena too.
A enjoyable, if a bit girly, in fact stuff that, it is just enjoyable fun.
Thanks for reading. Hope you folks enjoyed yourselves, catch ya later on down the trail.