Comedy, Reviews

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TV review: Crims

26 Dec 20143 stars

Welsh stand-up Elis James makes his TV debut in BBC Three's new prison-based sitcom

With confinement such a routine characteristic of sitcoms, trapping disparate characters in desperate situations from which they can't escape, it's little wonder that prison appeals to comedy writers. Porridge focused on Fletcher's tiny victories…

Annie

22 Dec 20143 stars

Middling revival of the musical comedy featuring Cameron Diaz and Jamie Foxx

When the complaining tune 'It’s the Hard Knock Life' is applied to minor housecleaning, you know somebody’s been messing with the musical Annie. Director Will Gluck is at the helm of this realignment of John Huston’s 1982 film, itself based on the 1977…

Briefs: The Second Coming (2014)

22 Dec 20145 stars

Brassy yet classy, boylesque troupe Briefs returns to Edinburgh

Their outfits could out-sparkle the Jenners Christmas tree, their banter is filthier than a lump of coal. The Briefs boys are back in Edinburgh bringing, in their words, 'a little bit of butch and a fuckload of camp' to the winter market. Originally…

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

15 Dec 20142 stars

Ben Stiller and co return for the third film in Shawn Levy's family friendly franchise

Even in a dual role, Ben Stiller can’t keep the bored look off his face as he fronts the third instalment of the Night at the Museum franchise. What started eight years ago as a charming kids’ romp has evolved into a series of overlong ‘comic’ sequences…

Dumb and Dumber To

15 Dec 20143 stars

Hit-and-miss sequel from the Farrelly brothers featuring returning star Jim Carrey

Twenty years have passed since Dumb and Dumber provided Bobby and Peter Farrelly with a box-office smash. Since then, their brand of comedy has become something of an endangered species, with both the writer-directors and star Jim Carrey no longer…

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Get Santa

2 Dec 20144 stars

Christopher Smith's festive film shows both a dark side and refreshing compassion

From the director of Severance and Triangle comes a heartwarming and very funny Christmas tale about a father who, after his release from a two-year prison sentence, has to learn the virtue of reliability...

St Vincent

1 Dec 20143 stars

Bill Murray's latest is a likeable mix of crabby and cute, co-starring Naomi Watts

Bill Murray is certainly no stranger to misanthropic sad-sacks and his titular Vincent is one such crabby feller, albeit with a slightly coarser edge. Vincent is given a crack at redemption when a young boy in need of a father figure moves in next door…

Bonobo

1 Dec 20143 stars

Commune-set dramedy starring Tessa Peake-Jones and Josie Lawrence

While the father/son dynamic is a mainstay of narrative features, it’s less common to see a filmmaker explore the relationship between a mother and daughter. For that reason alone the premise of Bonobo is certainly promising, as it examines the strength…

Penguins of Madagascar

1 Dec 20143 stars

Knockabout spin-off featuring the voices of John Malkovich and Benedict Cumberbatch

Over their three Madagascar features to date, DreamWorks Animation have successfully established a menagerie of comic characters. The franchise's penguins have already struck out with their own short film and TV show, and they now get their own movie...

Me, Myself and Mum

1 Dec 20143 stars

Award-winning French comedy from Guillaume Gallienne that'll amuse and bemuse

Me, Myself and Mum has been one of French cinema's surprise crowd-pleasers over the past 18-months. Feted at Cannes 2013, it was also showered with César awards, including Best Film. You suspect British audiences might regard it as more of an acquired…

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Hello Carter

1 Dec 20142 stars

Charlie Cox and Jodie Whittaker star in this so-so romantic comedy

Britain’s got talent and, at first glance at least, few low budget films show that better than Hello Carter. Starring as the lovelorn London loser Carter is Charlie Cox, soon to be American TV’s new Daredevil. Nimble romantic support comes from Jodie…

Horrible Bosses 2

24 Nov 20142 stars

Limp sequel teaming Bateman and co with newbies Chris Pine and Christoph Waltz

Like its title, this sequel to Seth Gordon’s 2011 comedy lacks imagination. The first 30 minutes or so are particularly uninspiring as we catch up with Nick (Jason Bateman), Dale (Charlie Day) and Kurt (Jason Sudeikis), the trio of white-collar dudes…

What We Do in the Shadows

17 Nov 20144 stars

Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi helm a killer comedy about a vampire flat-share

'When you get three vampires in a flat obviously there’s going to be a lot of tension,' dryly observes 862-year-old Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), who shares a house with 18th Century dandy Viago (Taika Waititi) and self-proclaimed bad boy Deacon…

The best comedy programmes on Radio 4

12 Nov 2014

Including Hal, The Elephant Man, James Acaster's Findings and Start / Stop

The ‘Radio 4 comedy voice’ has been mercilessly mimicked and mocked by both Simon Munnery and Stewart Lee, and it’s cranked up to 11 in a variety of shows currently on the station. They would routinely hate Hal (Radio 4, Sun 16 Nov, 7.15pm ●●●), the…

White Reindeer

12 Nov 20143 stars

An interesting alternative to generic Christmas movies starring Anna Margaret Hollyman

A quirky low budget indie drama, Suzanne Barrington's (Anna Margaret Hollyman) December gets off to a particularly traumatic start. This tragedy sets off a series of unusual encounters as this seemingly prim and proper real estate agent veers out of…

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Christmas 2014: Top five live comedy DVDs

7 Nov 2014

Featuring releases from Lee Evans, Simon Evans, Russell Howard, Miranda Hart and Jason Manford

In a recent interview, Adrian Edmondson bemoaned pretty much the entire concept of stand-up comedy. Gigs, he reckoned, are just way too long: 20 minutes is about all he can take before eyeing a hasty exit. What on earth, then, would he make of Lee…

Scott Ian: Swearing Words in Glasgow

7 Nov 20143 stars

Anthrax metal man's spoken word tour proves he is 'a decent storyteller with some wicked tales'

As the only constant member of thrash titans Anthrax, Scott Ian is one of the most recognisable faces in metal and also boasts perhaps the best goatee in the business. Not only guitarist in a multimillion selling band, he's a regular talking head in…

Ghostbusters

27 Oct 20145 stars

This 30th anniversary reissue of Ivan Reitman's 1984 classic is most welcome

For many of us, the fact that Ghostbusters is in a position to have a 30th anniversary re-release is one of those chilling little reminders of how shockingly old we seem to have inadvertently become. For others, it may be a chance to experience in…

Love, Rosie

20 Oct 20142 stars

Manic, barrel-scraping rom-com from Christian Ditter starring Lily Collins and Sam Claflin

Based on the novel Where Rainbows End by Cecelia Ahern, Love, Rosie pitches, nay flings itself at the less discerning end of the romantic comedy crowd. German director Christian Ditter (French for Beginners) proves an unsteady hand at the helm of a…

Just for Laughs

15 Oct 20144 stars

New collection of standup footage including comedy greats Bill Hicks, Mitch Hedberg and Louis CK

Comedy buffs who heard that Just for Laughs was releasing footage of stand-ups entertaining the people of Montreal down the years might have got excited about the prospect of witnessing an especially notorious moment in the career of Jerry Sadowitz. Of…

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Northern Soul

13 Oct 20143 stars

Elaine Constantine's directorial debut takes a look at the titular youth scene

For the uninitiated, northern soul was a youth movement that gripped the North of England during the 60s and 70s, fuelled by high octane funk and soul records from the States. DJs were on a permanent quest for ever more elusive tracks, unearthing gems…

The Rewrite

7 Oct 20143 stars

Hugh Grant and Marisa Tomei star in Marc Lawrence's likeable if imperfect comedy

This engaging comedy marks the fourth collaboration between actor Hugh Grant and writer-director Marc Lawrence, following Two Weeks Notice, Did You Hear About The Morgans? and Music and Lyrics. The result is pretty much exactly what you're expecting…

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

6 Oct 20144 stars

Fun family comedy adapted from the kids' book featuring Jennifer Garner and Steve Carell

Ever had one of those days where nothing goes right? 11-year-old Alexander Cooper (Ed Oxenbould) seems to have more than his fair share. And when his latest day from hell is largely ignored by his family, Alexander makes a midnight birthday wish for the…

Dolphin Tale 2

29 Sep 20142 stars

Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman feature in a bland, aquarium-set sequel

The seam of true-life marine stories mined in 2011's anodyne Dolphin Tale is further depleted by this return visit to the underwater denizens of Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida. The bright-looking yet colourless live-action narrative and…

Rachel Maclean – The Weepers

24 Sep 20144 stars

Superb darkly comic retelling of Celtic Bean Nighe myth from Glasgow film-maker

The Scotch mist that wafts around Duart Castle at the opening of Rachel Maclean's new film speaks volumes about where she's coming from; this major commission for the Mull-based Comar organisation looks like a big leap towards something even more…