War On Everyone Review

One of my all-time favourite films is Calvary, a dark black comedy about a priest in Ireland who is sent death threats by a particularly broken parishioner. The film was written and directed by John Michael McDonagh, so when I heard about his new film, War On Everyone, I was pretty excited. Does it hold up with his other works?

War On Everyone stars Michael Pena, Alexander Skarsgård, Theo James and Tessa Thompson and is written and directed by John Michael McDonagh. The film follows Bob (Pena) and Terry (Skarsgård), a pair of corrupt cops who blackmail every criminal they come across. But one day they threaten the wrong criminal (James) and things turn sinister.

The opening scene of the film is Bob and Terry chasing a drug dealer dressed as a mime artist. Bob turns to Terry and asks “If you hit a mime does it make a sound?” before running him over with their car. That’s the sort of humour that War On Everyone has. It’s vulgar, callous and abrasive, but that’s its charm and had me nearly in stitches at places. All the characters are despicable, even the two leads who we are rooting for. Within the first couple of minutes you’ll know whether you’ll either enjoy the film or walk out due to disgust. The jokes ease up as we go through, replaced with dance numbers (set to an excellent endless playlist of Glen Campbell) and outrageous gun and fist fights bordering on slapstick, but they are always there in the film’s hip pocket if time comes for a punchy quip.

While the film is set in the modern day, it has an affinity with the look and sounds of the 1970s. Bob and Terry’s car is a classic, wheel-spinning, drifting muscle car, the collars are wide and the hair is bad, the aforementioned ever-present musical accompaniment of Campbell and the colour palette is garish, it all adds up to a film that has a great feel about it. It’s reminiscent of things like The French Connection and Dirty Harry, which is magnified by our heroes acting more like violent thugs than actual cops.

Michael Pena and Alexander Skarsgård are great as the duo of slightly bad cops. Pena is a great screen presence and ever charismatic, whether it be having deep, introspective talks with his wife or throwing out one-liners completely deadpan. Skarsgård is doing his usual boring, brooding role, but it’s just so funny watching this tower of a man strut around in a sharp suit, dishing out his own odd brand of justice.

The problems though are two-fold. First off, while the script is bitingly funny, the story is non-existent. I managed to figure out it was something to do with bank robberies and the porn industry, but not much else. It’s hardly a plot, more just a succession of scenes. We have many parts dedicated to the main bad guy and his minions, but they are not as interesting our main duo and ultimately, a lot less funny. Every time the film would cut to them, I got a little bored, just waiting for the film to head back to Pena and Skarsgård. Secondly, even though the film is only 97 minutes, it feels incredibly long. Again, there are a few too many moments that aren’t as funny or compelling as others. I am really hoping for a sequel though. To see these characters again would be a blast, hopefully they can sort out a good story for next time.

In the end, War On Everyone is a great romping ride. While it’s comedy will turn off many potential viewers for being so on-the-nose and cutting, this one is definitely going to be a cult classic. I just wish that it held together a bit more.

Score: 7/10 Deplorable, irresponsible and offensive, but damn if it isn’t funny.

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Café Society Review

Woody Allen is one of the most celebrated directors on the 20th century. With hits like Annie Hall and Manhattan, he’s loved for his quirky, almost self-loathing humour and existential crises. His last film, Irrational Man, released in 2015, was met with mixed response, so let’s see if his new film can do any better.

Café Society stars Jesse Eisenberg, Steve Carrell, Kristen Stewart and Blake Lively and is written and directed by Woody Allen. The film follows Bobby Dorman (Eisenberg) who engages in the high society of both Hollywood and New York during the 1930s.

As the film is set during the early 1930s, the golden age of Hollywood, Café Society is in love with its time period, similar to The Coen Brother’s Hail, Caesar! earlier this year. Many references are made to Hollywood actors, actresses and directors, so if you’re not clued up on your Busby Berkeley’s and Greta Garbo’s you might not get as much enjoyment as I did from it. It’s not like Allen’s Midnight In Paris, with actors taking the place of the Era’s stars, most of them are just name-dropped, a shallow attempt for the characters to boast how many famous people they are friends with.

The 30s setting though gives us two great things, the music and the costumes. Our main character Bobby is a huge fan of jazz, constantly playing records while he potters around his house. Through the story he becomes owner of a club, with smooth jazz being played every night. The many parties he goes to show off the latter, with classic suits and elegant dresses. Everyone is wearing double-breasted jackets with wide lapels, bow ties, suspenders, it at least deserves a nomination for the both at when Oscar season rolls around.

The film is shot mainly in long takes. It isn’t the pretentious long takes of The Revenant, it’s more controlled, used when it fits the mood. In that fact, it feels more like a play rather than a film, with focus squarely on the actors, rather than lavish sets. The sets are subdued, mainly people’s back gardens and small parties, not the sprawling excess of films of the era.

After his mincing, over-the-top portrayal of Lex Luthor in Batman Vs Superman, Jesse Eisenberg seems to be redeeming himself by turning around from comic books to indie darlings. He is good as Bobby, moving from adorably geeky at the start to a high-flying socialite by the end. Kristen Stewart is perfect as Vonnie, the 30s version of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl that Bobby is infatuated with. Sure, it was easy to ridicule her during her Twilight days with her wooden acting, but she’s really grown as an actress since then. The show is stolen though by Corey Stoll in a small role as Bobby’s big brother Ben. A kingpin in the NYC underworld, his technique of getting rid of competition by giving them “cranial ventilation” (in his words) before burying them in concrete drew many laughs from the audience and fits into Allen’s recurring theme about the ethics of murder. Many other Allen motifs turn up, the eternally anxious main character, love and relationships (usually forbidden), classic cinema and of course, lots of Jewish-based humour.

The points that I didn’t really like were mainly story-based. The story is pretty predictable, nothing really new or different on-screen. The mood shifts wildly from light comedy to melancholy and back again, leaving me wondering whether I was meant to be laughing or feeling sympathetic for the characters. And even being a 96 minute film, it feels rather slow. The film dallies about, with events happening but no real story to speak of. It doesn’t build too much, ending rather abruptly.

In the end, Café Society will suit those who enjoy the vibe of the 30s with small dashes of comedy and melancholy. It will be more one for the indie crowd, but you should have a good time with it.

Score: 7/10 Brief fun and glamour in Classic Hollywood.

Sausage Party Review

Seth Rogan I feel is one of those people that you either love or hate. I know so many people who either think it’s one of the best comedy creators of the 21st century and others who wouldn’t watch his films unless you forced them to. Me, I’m a bit of both; I like Knocked Up and Superbad but couldn’t get into Pineapple Express. And now, his latest, an animated film, Sausage Party is in theatres.

Sausage Party stars Seth Rogan, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Michael Cera and Jonah Hill and is directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan. The film follows a sausage called Frank (Rogan) and his girlfriend Brenda, a bun (Wiig) who find out the terrible things that happen to food when they leave the supermarket.

The cast list is immense. Aside from the ones previously mentioned, the film also includes Edward Norton, Salma Hayek, James Franco and Danny McBride. And unlike other animated films none of them sound like themselves (2016s The Jungle Book is the opposite, with some voices being so recognisable that it became distracting). Even Rogan sounds quite a bit different from his usual persona, it took a long time for me to realise it was him.

The jokes meanwhile, are your usual Rogan-style. Even with a cast made up of various food-items, Rogan manages to push in marijuana and stoner jokes, like every other film of his. The jokes lose some of their shine as the film goes on, you see one jar of honey mustard swear and make sexual innuendos, seen them all. The jokes do pick up however in the final act. The final twenty minutes is a roaring mad send-off to a film that was losing steam, with the last five minutes being a fantastic gross-out scene, making the Elephant Scene from Grimsby look tame by comparison.

The film’s laughs aren’t just powered by sex, drugs and swearing though. There are a few cute visual sight gags, such as a Jewish Bagel and a Middle Eastern Lavash constantly trading verbal barbs, a jar of sauerkraut that looks vaguely Nazi-fied (and wants to destroy all juice, a bit of wordplay) and “I’d Do Anything For Love” sung by an actual Meat Loaf. It’s more satirical than the trailers would give it credit, with ideas about religion and politics being explored, if a little bit on the nose. All these jokes are added for the more eagle-eyed viewers, but are sadly overpowered by the traditional “Stoner-Bro” comedy of Rogan and his entourage.

The story, to cut it down to its bare essentials could be said to be Toy Story but for grown-ups. You remember how Buzz Lightyear thought he was a real spaceman before learning the truth? It’s that, just filled with a lot more swearing and sex. Apart from that novel raunchiness though, not much else is that interesting or note-worthy. You can tell how the story is going to play out beat-by-beat, with hackneyed break-up/make-up sections and other screenwriting 101 plot points. If you can get over those though, you should be pretty fine. The concept though, of food learning what it’s true purpose is, it’s interesting enough that it sold me on the film. The food’s have their little districts; the spices and curry are mocked up to be an Indian Market, the Alcohol Aisle is a rave, the Frozen Food section is a snowy mountain, it’s all cute and imaginative until juice-boxes are getting sexually assaulted and baby carrots are being eaten alive, then you remember the film is rated 15.

In the end, I’m conflicted by Sausage Party. It’s jokes got stale after a while and the story is by-the-books, but the concept and the over-the-top final twenty minutes means that it’s score moves up. Overall it doesn’t deserve to be on the Must-Watch list, but for those few jaw-dropping moments, everyone should watch this one.

Score: 7/10 Absolutely bonkers, with a small streak of smarts.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Review

After the middling David Brent: Life On The Road a few weeks ago, we have another comedy-mockumentary-musical, this time with The Lonely Island. Their songs maybe funny, but is the band able to fill out an entire movie length? Let’s find out.

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping stars Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone and Tim Meadows and is directed by Schaffer and Taccone. The film follows pop singer Conner4Real (Samberg) who tries to make a comeback with his old boyband, “Skill Boyz”.

Every comedy-mockumentary-musical (which for some reason is a really big market) is obviously going to be compared to Spinal Tap, basically the ground zero for all three of the genres at play. Popstar is nowhere near the leagues of Spinal Tap, but nothing ever is. It’s a disservice to both films to try and compare, so we’ll just have to look at Popstar on its own merits.

The Lonely Island are known for their comedy songs, and they have some excellent ones in Popstar. Songs about the assassination of Bin Laden (used as a metaphor for sex), gay rights (which ends up just being a mash up of random words) and an entire song about being humble, the satirical lyrics and crazy music videos are good for couple of minutes. This is where Popstar shines, but we only get a few songs and videos at most.

The rest of the jokes are a mix of great and abysmal. Some corkers, like an extended “incident” at the Anne Frank Museum (a not-so subtle dig at a certain star), breaking celebrity news by CMZ (digging at TMZ, and led fabulously by Will Arnett) or an over-the-top proposal, complete with wolves, by Conner4Real to his trophy girlfriend, are good set-pieces, but the rest is just screaming and random sequences of “chaos”. If it wasn’t for the bared penises, breasts and the occasional swear word, it could almost be at home on the Disney Channel, inane nonsense for tweens.

The film has a huge cast list, with several musicians, such as Ringo Starr, A$AP Rocky, Mariah Carey, Carrie Underwood and 50 Cent, as well as other famous people like Simon Cowell, Jimmy Fallon and Martin Sheen. Most are just kept to talking-head interviews per the documentary-style of the film, but since most are poking fun at themselves or the music business, I am okay with so many stars turning up. It’s better than Zoolander 2, which shoved stars in despite them having nothing to do with the world of fashion or the story.

The film is only 86 minutes long, pretty short, but the lacklustre story makes it seem far longer. The documentary style is dropped quite early on, leaving us with a rather desperate and plodding orthodox style, which isn’t interesting. We have no investment in the characters, we are meant to be laughing at them, not with them, so when the film tries to be a drama where we sympathise with the main character, it grinds to a halt.

It’s sad, I was looking forward to Popstar, but it seems The Lonely Island work better in short form. Cut it down to an hour, you would have a funny TV film. Cut it down even further, you might get a vlog series out of it. It could work any other way, just not in the cinema. You might get some more enjoyment out of it if you are a diehard Lonely Island fan, but for the rest of us, it’s just passable.

Score: 6/10 Some funny moments, but nothing essential.

War Dogs Review

I’ve been looking forward to War Dogs. As a fan of true-crime films such as The Wolf of Wall StreetPrecinct Seven Five and Pain And Gain, I’ve been really looking forward to a new film in the same vein. And as a big fan of Miles Teller (who has been on a bit of a poor run recently, Fan4stic anyone?) I was hoping this could be a return to form.

War Dogs stars Miles Teller, Jonah Hill, Ana De Armas and Bradley Cooper and is directed by Todd Phillips. The film follows the true story of David Packouz (Teller) and Efraim Diveroli (Hill) who in their early 20s started running guns for the American Military in Iraq.

The director Todd Phillips’ highest profile work is The Hangover trilogy. From the promotion and the trailers, War Dogs looked to be continuing in that vein of often juvenile comedy. Thankfully, the comedy is toned down and the film as a whole is a lot more darker than it was advertised as. The Hangover crowd will find some fairly humorous moments; one scene where Jonah Hill struts around firing a machine gun in the air is one of the funniest parts of the film, but I liked how the humour is pushed back for space for a more mature story. While much of it is fictionalised, including one of the main scenes involving the duo running a truck of guns from Jordan to Iraq, it’s still an incredibly enjoyable film.

The actors do a fine job. Miles Teller is our main “everyman” type of guy, he provides a running voice over and the film is all from his point of view. Ana De Armas plays his wife Izzy, but neither have much personality beyond their roles in the story, they are pretty bland. Bradley Cooper, while a fun part of the film is not in most of it. He’s probably in it for ten minutes at the most, but his terrorist/evil gangster is an interesting role for an actor most known for being a comedy performer.

Jonah Hill though is the main comedy highlight. In a role similar to The Wolf Of Wall Street, he’s the scumbag to Teller’s nice guy. He likes to think he is a gangster; he has a massive picture of Scarface on his office wall, buys golden paper-weights in the shape of grenades and laughs manically like Jared Leto’s Joker. He’s bought totally into making money from the war, using the buzzwords of patriotism and the Free Market to clear his mind of any wrongdoing. A repeated line of his is “It’s not illegal,” which shows his entire character in three words.

The film is nearly two hours, and there is a little bit of a drop in the middle. The film starts great and ends great, but in the middle, once the duo have run their guns to Baghdad and have expanded their empire, it does drop with their second big contract. The film is split into around five “chapters”, with lines from the next part of the film being chapter titles e.g. “Welcome to Dick Cheney’s America!,” or “This is the whole effing pie!”. It’s like a less pretentious version of what Quentin Tarantino does with his films.

The whole films feels like The Wolf of Wall Street for teenagers, a TWOW-lite version. The shoddy stocks and bonds are replaced by AK-47s and over 100-million rounds of ammunition, and for good measure they went and borrowed Jonah Hill to play the same wacky/scummy sidekick of the main character. The glorification of money and despicable characters will obviously draw the anger of some critics, but that’s kind of missing the point. You not meant to cheer for the characters, but laugh at the ridiculous and risky things they do to make money and the mad opportunities that have been offered to them (such as supplying the entire Afghan Army).

The bad guys (or let’s just say “morally questionable” guys) is nothing new to cinema, and I bet that due to its subject matter, War Dogs will get lumped in with films like Pain And Gain or the previously mentioned Wolf. Don’t let that put you off, it’s one of the better things this summer and gets a hearty recommendation from me.

Score: 8/10 A lot smarter, funnier and better than it has any right to be.

David Brent: Life On The Road Review

Ricky Gervais is a comedian I have mixed feelings about. I find The Office and The Ricky Gervais Show relatively funny but find his stand up as well as his more recent stuff like Derek unbearably bad. So I was looking forward to him going back to one of his best characters, David Brent, from arguably his best show. And after Ab Fab and Dad’s Army earlier this year, will Ricky Gervais give us a good TV spin-off?

David Brent: Life On The Road stars Ricky Gervais, Doc Brown, Tom Basden and Diane Morgan and is written and directed by Ricky Gervais. The film follows former sales rep David Brent (Gervais) as he forms a band and goes on tour.

David Brent tries to emulate the great cringe-worthy humour that made The Office a hit, to varying success. There were many moments when I had my head in my hands, hysterically laughing at the sheer awkwardness on-screen. Those times are when David Brent shines, when he’s playing his songs about the plight of Native Americans (with lyrics based off facts from Wikipedia) or when he’s over-explaining his suggestive lyrics. The film works when Brent plays off other people, but when he’s on his own, it’s like a pathetic form of stand-up. Gervais didn’t team up with his Office co-writer Stephen Merchant for Life On The Road, and it can be felt in the script. It feels too stuck on Brent, who is insufferable to deal with in long bursts.

The jokes are Gervais’ usual. If you’re easily offended then you will think that Life On The Road is walking an extremely fine line. Borderline racist impressions of Asians, constant and crude references to sex acts and genitals, to some it will be too much. I think that misses the point. There isn’t a malicious side to it, and while you will laugh with Brent, you will find yourself laughing more at him and his actions. The songs that he plays on his tour follow this train of humour, with songs about disabled people and terminally ill children. You’ll either be with it or you won’t.

The film tries to replace Tim, Dawn and Gareth of The Office with Brent’s bandmates and entourage. Some of the band, such as Doc Brown’s fledgling rapper Dom Johnson (who has to rap about inane nonsense that Brent writes for him) and Tom Basden’s road manager Dan, who keeps getting more and more irate with Brent’s constant unfunny jokes, are great additions. While these two characters get several scenes, the rest of the band gets little to no character development, relegated to just sitting around the bar and drinking. We get small talking-head interviews with them but none last more than a minute. Diane Morgan (known for her character Philomena Cunk) turns up half way through the film as Brent’s recently hired publicist, but again, like the band, she’s a cameo at best. The film would work better with more interactions with characters.

I had two major problems with the film. While the second half of the film, when the band is performing, is full of jokes, the first half has hardly any, focussing more on Brent in his new job. Gervais said this “wasn’t an Office film”, so why do we spend so much of the first act there? The second is the ending. After nearly ninety minutes of showing Brent as a buffoon, Life On The Road tries to swap it and make him some sort of tragic hero. It feels tonally at odds with the rest of the film and lowers the ending. The tone also swings wildly throughout, with trips to the psychiatrist and depressing early mornings while drinking alone, it just doesn’t mesh well within a comedy.

Fifteen years after The Office started, David Brent: Life On The Road feels a little bit like a cash-in on a greatly revered series. It’s not a great follow-up, but the script and biting humour stops the score from being any lower.

Score: 6/10 Funny but flawed.

Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates Review

I try to see at least one film every week, even if the movie in question looks like something I would end up hating. It’s great when something you or indeed anyone in the world thought was going to be terrible ends up being really good. I point mainly to Triple 9 for proof. But with the good, always comes the bad, and today was one of the bad times.

Mike And Dave Need Wedding Dates stars Zac Efron, Adam DeVine, Anna Kendrick and Aubrey Plaza and is directed by Jake Szymanski. Loosely based on the real life story of the Stangle Brothers (Efron and DeVine) who appeared on national television to find dates for their sister’s wedding.

For a surprisingly good cast, the acting is terrible. Adam DeVine does nothing but shriek and make silly faces, as if he’s trying to make a baby laugh. Aubrey Plaza is doing her usual sarcastic role, but looks bored half the time. Anna Kendrick sounds like she’s trying to impersonate Minnie Mouse, squeaking away any time she can. Now onto the biggest disappointment.

What happened to you Zac Efron? You were once the next big thing, managing to shake off the teeny-bopper look of High School Musical and starting to branch out into other more adult roles like The Paperboy and Parkland. Then one (Bad Neighbours), two (Dirty Grandpa) three (Mike and Dave) you managed to piss away all the good-will in the world with a string of mis-steps and poor choices. Who are taking career advice for, M. Night Shyamalan? Just go away for a few years Zac, make some little indie darling project and make us love you again. Come on, do you really want to be remembered for a film where you pour eye drops into a woman’s drink to make her need to go to the toilet? That’s a joke ripped straight from Wedding Crashers. When you’re referencing other films, you know your film has nothing to recommend it.

You can tell that this films wants to be a mash up of Wedding Crashers and Step Brothers. Fine, but why did you make this film now rather than back in the mid-2000s when both of those things were the biggest comedies around? Have you gone back to Step Brothers? That film does not hold up as good as you think, and Mike And Dave follows its suit by having “edgy” jokes that would only seem funny if you were about 13 years old. It’s a mixture of screaming loudly, extended drug sequences and being grossed out by eeww…lesbians. It’s weird when the best comedy of the year so far was a Jane Austen adaptation..

The only thing that I actually liked was the scenes between Zac Efron and Anna Kendrick. The pairing of these two, as well as the chemistry between them makes me want to see them in other film together. One scene where they are sat in a tree talking about their pasts is honestly the best moment and feels like it’s been ripped from a much better film. Sadly Adam DeVine turns up halfway through to scream at Zac Efron before miming graphic sex acts.

When will the bad films end? Sure, we’ve had some films that have entered my Top Ten of all time this year, but to suffer through the rest of it is painful. I can’t wait till we get to Oscar season again, at least most of that will be bearable.

Score: 3/10 Drab, dull and annoying. Avoid it.

Ghostbusters Review

And now for one of the most talked-about and controversial films of 2016. It’s trailer was one of the most disliked in YouTube history and it has had a torrid affair with fans on one side and filmmakers on the other, mud-slinging like their life depended on it. But let’s try and cut through all of that to the film. It’s Ghostbusters.

Ghostbusters stars Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon and Chris Hemsworth and is directed by Paul Feig. A reboot of the popular 1984 film of the same name, the new film follows an all-female crew who have to save New York from invading ghosts.

Let’s be upfront, I wasn’t looking forward to Ghostbusters. The trailer was very poorly put-together, it looked like a lot of the charm had been taken out and to top it all off, I really disliked director Paul Feig’s earlier work. Things like Bridesmaids, The Heat and Spy are very poor films, so it was with great scepticism I went to Ghostbusters. How wrong I was.

The cast is the greatest thing about the film. I was always okay with the idea of a female Ghostbusters, and the four actresses are funny and work well with each other. They are not just straight re-treads of the old characters (apart from maybe Leslie Jones, the only non-scientist and token black lady of the team) and while none of them are as stand out as Bill Murray was, they do a good job. The surviving cast members of the original Ghostbusters turn up, but I felt it was a little forced and would have worked just as well without them. Chris Hemsworth though as the not-too-bright secretary Kevin is one of the best characters in the film. He has the funniest lines and it’s nice to see a change of pace from Hemsworth’s work in Thor and The Avengers.

Again, the trailer showed a few jokes and many of them were received poorly by fans. And while there are quite a few duds near the beginning, after a good 20 minutes the jokes start getting really good. I laughed a lot near the middle of the film, but towards the end, as the film moves more from comedy to action, the jokes fizzle out.

One of the main complaints was the CGI ghosts and after seeing the film, I can sympathise. The ghosts are a bit too clean, they looks more like plastic dolls which loses their scare value. A lot of the original ghosts and demons were animatronics, and the CGI from thirty years ago makes them oddly creepy. Here, they are a bit too processed, but they sometimes still manage to be spooky. One sequence involving mannequins looks like it would be right at home in an episode of The Twilight Zone and is effectively sinister and humorous.

The pacing is also rather off. The new film mirrors the original in the way that the squad forms and starts to take down ghosts, but there is hardly any build up to the final fight. The original (sorry I keep comparing them but it’s necessary) had that team-building but then had a montage of the team catching several ghosts from all over the city. In this version, the team catches one ghost, let’s go free and then it’s off to the final encounter with the big bad guy. It seems a little rushed, hopefully they put more of it in a sequel if they decide to do more.

In the end, the new Ghostbusters defied my expectations. It has several great jokes, the characters are interesting new additions to the series and it actually manages to be suitably chilling at times. It may not reach the heights of the original, be it easily surpasses Ghostbusters 2.

Score: 7/10 Surprisingly enjoyable. No need for mass hysteria and boycotts.

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie Review

I have seen several episodes of Absolutely Fabulous, and while I was never a “fan”, there were enjoyable. But I remember seeing the trailer for the Ab Fab movie and cringing at the fawning over celebrities and models and already wondering if it was going to jump the shark like many TV to film adaptations. Let’s find out.

Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie stars Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha and June Whitfield and is directed by Mandie Fletcher. The film follows the ever alcoholic, drug-abusing narcissists Edina (Saunders) and Patsy (Lumley) who have to flee to the south of France after Edina accidently kills Kate Moss.

We’ll start with what works, Joanna Lumley. She is by far the best thing in the film, whether she’s showing off for the paparazzi, getting caught up in a fashion runway or just walking down the road with a bottle of champagne in her hand, Lumley commands the screen every time she is on and plays Patsy as a wonderfully vain and pampered waste. Kathy Burke too, despite having only a few short minutes in the film as a ball-busting, loudmouth reporter has some great lines. And that’s really it. Sure there were some good lines here and there that made me laugh, but apart from Lumley and Burke, it’s really quite dreary.

Since Edina is a PR agent, celebrities would obviously be involved in some way with the production. The film takes a leaf out of Zoolander 2‘s book and floods the screen with as many famous faces as it can. When asked had he seen Jaws 4, Michael Caine famously said, “No, but I’ve seen the house it bought.” That’s what Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie feels like, people like Jon Hamm, Stella McCartney, Emma Bunton and Lulu are just turning up to be flattered by the main stars and then pick up a cheque. It’s not just fashion designers and models that turn up either. The film is full of actual actors like Robert Webb, Rebel Wilson and Martin Gatiss, and most are terrible in this. Webb and Gatiss are both funny people but are sadly given nothing to use.

The script, while it starts funny loses its mark around the half hour point. As always, there are some great one liners, but after that mark it descends into a weird sort of slapstick. The script also takes another note from Zoolander 2 by having several jokes aimed at transgender characters. It’s demeaning and ends up just becoming examples of “you’re transgender, that’s different from the rest of us so let’s laugh at you for a bit”. The off-colour jokes end up making the majority of the script about part way through and definitely in my screening there were moments when one of those jokes would come up and the whole cinema was silent.

Despite being only 91 minutes long, there are moments when the film feels a bit baggy. There are subplots about Eddie’s book deal and several dream sequences where Eddie and Patsy imagine that they are partying away the rest of their days surrounded by fashion celebrities. The film sets up the massive “on-the-run” type story but is simply resolved in the last two minutes of the film so that we can have a big happy ending.

In the end, this might be one for the super-fans of Ab Fab. If all you’re wanting to see is Eddie and Patsy together again, getting drunk and going on crazy adventures that you’ll have fun. For the rest, it might be one to check the trailer first before you decide whether to watch it.

Score: 5/10 Absolutely medicore.

Love And Friendship Review

Jane Austen is a landmark of literature, with her books selling millions and being adapted over thirty times throughout their time. I sadly missed the newest (unofficial) adaptation earlier this year, Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, but here comes another Austen adaptation, Love And Friendship.

 Love And Friendship stars Kate Beckinsale, Chloe Sevigny, Xavier Samuel and Stephen Fry and is written and directed by Whit Stillman. Based on the short story Lady Susan by Jane Austen, the film follows Lady Susan (Beckinsale) as she tries to find a husband for herself and her daughter Frederica.

It’s rare that a film makes me smile from the very start. The opening of the film is just a credits roll, but just the way it was presented, with classical music playing in the background, it reminded me of the old English films from the 1940-50s, where they would present all of the cast before the film started. Love And Friendship is obviously tapping into that old style of filmmaking with its presentation.

However, the film has some wonderful post-modern additions, which supply a lot of the laughs in this romantic-comedy. Since the story is all about families and how they relate to each other, we get a family portrait of the characters, with their name and their role in the story, such as, Reginald De Courcy: A Young and Handsome Man. It’s almost a bit like Deadpool’s opening, where it cuts down the characters down to their stock types. The post modern influences keep coming, such as an extended sequence of reading a letter, punctuation and all, appearing on screen as text. Most of the jokes are these farcical moments, which have led the film to achieve a U certificate, since there is nothing rude, but it’s still bitingly funny.

Most of that comes down to the actors, who know how ridiculous the set up is and are relishing being able to chew the scenery with over-the-top performances. Kate Beckinsale as Lady Susan shows off her ability as a comic performer, helming most of the jokes with perfect comedic timing.

The film feels almost like a play in many respects. There are only a few sets, the film containing the story to one manor house and then a few London streets. The original story was written in the form of letters, so it’s a big jump to move from that to a fully fleshed out story. It does take a while for the story to get going and understand what everyone’s role is, but it feels just like a classic Jane Austen work, with the themes, character and of course, ending with not one, but two weddings.

I did have a problem with the character drop at the beginning though. We are introduced to around four different families at the beginning, each with around four to five people in them and all intricately entwined with each other through marriages and siblings. I was confused for a good twenty minutes afterwards trying to figure out who is connected to who. It’s also a bit annoying that some characters, such as Stephen Fry’s Mr. Johnson are mentioned in the character drop but have about ninety seconds of screen time despite being mentioned as a main character.

The script might also be something that might throw off audiences. In the style of Austen, it’s all flowery dialogue, the type that uses forty words where ten would do fine. That’s part of the aesthetic, but some audiences members won’t get the jokes hidden beneath the heaps of “thou’s”, “thee’s” and “thy’s.”

In summary, Love And Friendship is an old school period piece that despite being over 200 years old is still incredibly funny. If you are a fan of Jane Austen you will love it, and if you’re everyone else, it’s a good recommendation.

Score: 7/10 Great performances and a witty script.