Comedy, Reviews

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About Last Night

18 Mar 20142 stars

Remake of the 80s comedy lacks emotional impact

If Edward Zwick's original About Last Night was notable for offering a provocative look at sexual politics that only just made it past the censors, Steve Pink's remake is nothing more than a tedious attempt to update it for a new generation. Both films…

Muppets Most Wanted

13 Mar 20143 stars

A fun enough adventure that lacks the magical quality of its nostalgia-driven predecessor

The opening song in Muppets Most Wanted openly acknowledges the fact that most sequels exist in the shadow of their original. They are words that prove prophetic. James Bobin’s follow-up is mostly inferior to the 2011 comeback movie despite existing…

The Double

13 Mar 20143 stars

Richard Ayoade undermines some solid performances with airless retro-stylings

After rising to fame through The IT Crowd, Richard Ayoade made an accomplished directorial debut with coming-of-age saga Submarine. Taking on the work of Fyodor Dostoyevsky for his next project suggests a welcome ambition, but despite a good central…

The Stag

7 Mar 20142 stars

John Butler's inoffensive Irish comedy lacks punch

Few genres are more wretched that the British stag comedy: post-Four Weddings and a Funeral, a number of drunken bromances like Staggered fell flat on their faces in cinemas. US import The Hangover cleverly depicted the stag night without showing it at…

Quai d'Orsay

3 Mar 20142 stars

Bertrand Tavernier's political satire is hard work for non-francophiles

French director Bertrand Tavernier has a back catalogue of excellent films, including Death Watch and A Sunday in the Country. His films are rarely self-referential but address social issues, and it's easy to see why he'd want to make a political…

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A Long Way Down

27 Feb 20143 stars

This adaptation of Nick Hornby's hit novel starts shakily but finds its feet in the second half

Perhaps appropriately for a film centred around four people who attempt to commit suicide, A Long Way Down initially seems resoundingly Dead On Arrival. But after a prolonged spell of lifelessness the story unexpectedly develops a beating heart around…

Calvary

27 Feb 20144 stars

Brendan Gleeson, Dylan Moran and Chris O'Dowd star in a thoughtful Catholic comedy-drama

Brendan Gleeson and John Michael McDonagh reteam following lacklustre 2011 comedy The Guard in this much more thoughtful examination of Catholic guilt. They're joined by the cream of Irish film and TV talent, including Chris O'Dowd, Dylan Moran, Aidan…

The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

27 Feb 20144 stars

A rare case of a film adaptation that outshines its source material

On his hundredth birthday, Allan Karlsson (Robert Gustafsson) decides he has had enough of life in an old folks' home and gives the staff the slip. Wandering to the nearest bus station, he is preparing to get the next bus out of town when a thuggish…

Witching and Bitching

27 Feb 20143 stars

Alex de la Iglesia's action-horror-comedy starts well but stumbles halfway through

Cult director Alex de la Iglesia owes a lot to Robert Rodriguez's From Dusk Till Dawn in this fast-paced action-horror-comedy. As with FDTD, Witching and Bitching picks up with a gang of crooks on the run following a heist. Instead of hiding out in a…

The Rocket

26 Feb 20144 stars

A Laos-set coming-of-age fable driven by naturalistic performances

From The Raid to Metro Manila, it seems the fashion right now to see English-speaking directors head over to Asia to make films. But while the aforementioned were both thrillers, The Rocket is a very different proposition. Set in Laos, it’s a…

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Mood Indigo

24 Feb 20142 stars

Michel Gondry's latest effort is a chaotic mess overflowing with unexplained ideas

Adapted from a novel by French writer Boris Vian, Michel Gondry's return to France after the bloated Hollywood excess of The Green Hornet is a bittersweet love story overburdened by directorial tricks. There's a delicate romance buried within, but…

LFO

24 Feb 20143 stars

Lo-fi black comedy about a trance-inducing sound engineer

Maladjusted sound technician Robert (Patrik Karlson) has stumbled upon an amazing discovery: a sound frequency which immediately puts the listener into a hypnotic trance, susceptible to any suggestion they might hear. Armed with speakers, a pair of…

Grudge Match

24 Jan 20143 stars

Stallone and De Niro go head to head in this flawed but worthwhile boxing picture

Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro are undoubtedly two of cinema’s heavyweights yet much of their recent material has been of the lightweight variety. Grudge Match does little to change that perception even if it does manage to land a few telling…

Crystal Fairy and the Magical Cactus

22 Jan 20142 stars

Michael Cera and Gaby Hoffman star in Sebastian Silva's half-baked drug movie

The central event of this film involves the main character Jamie (Michael Cera) chopping up the ‘magical’ San Pedro cactus of the title, mixing it into a mushy swill, then cooking it in a pot for nine hours, in hopes of a legendary high from the…

TV review: Uncle, Mom, House of Fools

21 Jan 2014

Three new sitcoms featuring the comedic talents of Nick Helm, Chuck Lorre and Vic & Bob

If ever there was evidence that you should quit while you’re not as ahead as you once were, House of Fools (BBC Two, Tue, 10pm ●●) provides it by the bucketload. The inexorable decline of Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer was pretty apparent during their…

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Comedian Rap Battles – The Stand, Glasgow, Wed 15 Jan 2014

16 Jan 20143 stars

A hit-and-miss night of comedic verbal jousting, featuring The Wee Man and Jellybean Martinez

The traditional rap battle has its roots in US inner-city playground game The Dozens, in which two opponents take turns to sling insults at each other (often but not always pertaining to the size or promiscuity of one’s momma). The game has been adapted…

Inside Llewyn Davis

16 Jan 20145 stars

Oscaar Isaac, Carey Mulligan and Justin Timberlake star in the Coens' wonderful 60s folk movie

The Coen brothers return with the 16th film of their remarkable careers, once again vaulting the exceedingly high bar they’ve set for themselves. Set in the smoky dive bars of 1961 Greenwich Village, Inside Llewyn Davis is (very) loosely based on the…

The Wolf of Wall Street

16 Jan 20143 stars

Martin Scorsese's latest is too busy reveling in excess to consider any moral complexities

As with his wonderfully fluent Goodfellas, which chronicled the rise and fall of real-life gangster Henry Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street sees Martin Scorsese bring exhaustive meticulousness to Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio). This dodgy share-trader’s…

Last Vegas

30 Dec 20133 stars

Four sixty-somethings head to Vegas for a stag do in this frivolous comedy with a starry cast

The presence of Kevin Kline amongst the four aging partygoers in Jon Turteltaub’s Last Vegas harks back to Lawrence Kasdan’s far superior 1983 film The Big Chill, in which Kline played one of the thirty-somethings who converge for a weekend of chat…

American Hustle

17 Dec 20135 stars

An entertaining 70s crime caper starring Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper

Boasting one of the most dazzling, awards-friendly casts in recent memory, American Hustle finds writer-director David O Russell in the mood for flamboyantly filmed, often hilarious hi-jinks. His seventh film is a sexy, rollicking caper set in the late…

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Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

17 Dec 20134 stars

Will Ferrell's idiotic newsman makes a welcome return

In the nine years since the release of Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Will Ferrell's titular creation has become a real icon of idiocy, making a sequel genuinely welcome. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (once again co-written by Ferrell and…

Bill Burr – O2 Academy, Glasgow, Wed 4 Dec 2013

17 Dec 20133 stars

The US comedian struggles with venue difficulties but wins out overall

There are a couple of stumbling blocks on this first date of Bill Burr’s UK tour. Glasgow’s O2 Academy is a tad too expansive for a comedy gig, leading to problems with both sound quality and temperature (rather than complain about audience members…

Powder Room

11 Dec 20132 stars

Lacklustre comedy set in a women's toilet starring Sheridan Smith, Kate Nash and Oona Chaplin

MJ Delaney’s Powder Room is designed to be an amusing expose of what really goes on in women’s toilets but its wayward plotting and lacklustre comedy mean it has more disappointments than laughs. Based on Rachel Hirons’ 2011 Edinburgh Fringe Festival…

Delivery Man

9 Dec 20133 stars

Ken Scott successfully moves his Canadian sperm donor comedy to the US, with help from Vince Vaughn

As Michael Haneke discovered with his US retread his US retread of Funny Games, directors who remake their own foreign-language hits in America always run the risk of diluting their vision. But with Delivery Man, Canadian director Ken Scott has managed…

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

9 Dec 20133 stars

A surprisingly subtle and understated big budget adventure from Ben Stiller

Adapted in the loosest sense from James Thurber’s 1939 short story about an ineffectual daydreaming husband, this family-friendly adventure reinvents Walter (Ben Stiller) as an unmarried, hard-working and inarticulate photo clerk at Life magazine. He is…