Comedy, Reviews

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A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence

20 Apr 20154 stars

Roy Andersson concludes his 'living' trilogy with considerable style and humour

Vampire teeth, Charles XII of Sweden, a sexually inappropriate flamenco class and an opportunistic bar-owner known as 'Limping Lotta' are just some of the diverse ingredients in Roy Andersson's latest collection of absurdist anguish. A Pigeon Sat on a…

The Last Five Years

13 Apr 20153 stars

Anna Kendrick is wonderful in this mostly successful and moving musical

Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan star in a musical adapted for the screen by writer-director Richard LaGravenese (the original 2001 off-Broadway show was written by Jason Robert Brown) that explores the difficult balancing act between reaching for your…

TV review: Jane the Virgin, E4

8 Apr 20153 stars

Golden Globe-winning comedy starring Gina Rodriguez is low on laughs but big on charm

The premise for Jane the Virgin sounds like a spot of clickbait to the right of an article you probably didn’t want to read in the first place: ‘This gorgeous Latina just got herself pregnant: BUT NOT FOR THE REASONS YOU THINK!’ Well, ain’t that the…

Hot Tub Time Machine 2

6 Apr 20152 stars

Lame sequel from Steve Pink, with Rob Corddry and Adam Scott

The moderate success of Hot Tub Time Machine owed as much to a resurgence of nostalgia about middle-aged machismo as it did to hefty servings of crass, frat-boy humour and a plethora of anarchic pop-culture references. Returning director Steve Pink’s…

The DUFF

6 Apr 20154 stars

Superior high school comedy featuring a stand-out turn from Mae Whitman

26-year-old Mae Whitman shines as a confident teenage outsider in this hysterical high school comedy, adapted from a novel written by Kody Keplinger when she was just 17. DUFF is an odious acronym for Designated Ugly Fat Friend – a term Keplinger came…

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Get Hard

25 Mar 20153 stars

Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart pair up for a rollercoaster of a race relations comedy

Race relations are placed under a comic spotlight, but Blazing Saddles this ain't. When innocent hedge fund exec James King (Will Ferrell) finds out that he is being sent to prison for fraud, he assumes car-wash owner Darnell Lewis (Kevin Hart) can…

Stewart Lee: A Room With A Stew

16 Mar 20154 stars

The Comedy Vehicle comedian continues to intrigue, influence and irritate in wonderful measure

A couple of years ago, the Daily Telegraph’s longstanding comedy correspondent reviewed Stewart Lee’s then touring show, Much A-Stew About Nothing. Or rather, he reviewed the first half because, boasting rather too gleefully, he walked out at the…

The Voices

16 Mar 20154 stars

Ryan Reynolds plays a blinder in this entertaining comedy horror

'The cat made me do it!' exclaims Jerry (Ryan Reynolds) at one point in Marjane Satrapi’s visually striking comedy horror and to his mind he’s not lying. Jerry hears voices. His regular conversations with his cat and dog are comforting to him and, if…

Unfinished Business

4 Mar 20153 stars

Mixed bag comedy from Ken Scott starring Vince Vaughn and Sienna Miller

What happens to those who don’t fit corporate America? They become small business owners like Daniel Trunkman (Vince Vaughn), a doting father and husband, and the sensitive, indefatigable boss to two loyal employees: Tim (Tom Wilkinson) – fired from his…

Appropriate Behaviour

2 Mar 20154 stars

Hilarious, accomplished and idiosyncratic debut from Desiree Akhavan

Appropriate Behaviour is a beautifully observed breakup comedy told from the perspective of a Persian-American bisexual woman, living in Brooklyn, who is afraid to come out to her parents. Desiree Akhavan (recently seen in Lena Dunham’s Girls…

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Life of Riley

2 Mar 20154 stars

Alain Resnais' final film is an elegant closer to a fine career

Alain Resnais died last March at the age of 91, just three weeks after his final work was among the prize winners at Berlin. It's heartening to discover that the playful, experimental instincts that marked his 70 year career remained constant until the…

Focus

25 Feb 20152 stars

Vacuous, less-than-thrilling con artist flick starring Will Smith and Margot Robbie

It's been 22 years since Will Smith starred in Six Degrees of Separation, a wonderfully subtle adaptation of John Guare's play about a young con artist who takes in a well-to-do Manhattan couple. Watching Smith's new film Focus, his first lead since the…

X+Y

24 Feb 20154 stars

Glasgow Film Festival: Moving drama with Asa Butterfield and Rafe Spall

The story of a young maths prodigy with autism, Morgan Matthews’ film could be viewed as a juvenile Rain Man. At least that would be the case if a Hollywood studio had made it. But actually, this British tale of the difficulties of adolescence and…

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

23 Feb 20153 stars

Spry sequel to the cross-cultural smash featuring Judi Dench and Maggie Smith

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel's happy resolution didn't leave much room for a sequel; the film's extraordinary commercial success, however, made this an inevitability. Although the motivations behind its existence are certainly cynical, The Second Best…

While We're Young

19 Feb 20154 stars

Glasgow Film Festival: Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts star in Noah Baumbach's latest

The threat of the young is at the centre of writer-director Noah Baumbach's perceptive, funny and cringingly honest eighth film, whose satirical swipe reaches across the age spectrum. It follows a cross-generational friendship which inspires adulation…

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The Wedding Ringer

16 Feb 20152 stars

Mirthless matrimonial comedy squandering the talented Kevin Hart and Josh Gad

At one point earmarked as a vehicle for Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson (the first draft of the screenplay predates their similar hit Wedding Crashers), The Wedding Ringer is a low-brow comedy pairing Kevin Hart (Ride Along) with rising star Josh Gad, who…

Down Dog

9 Feb 20152 stars

Tedious, infantile Britcom starring Jason Durr and Nick Moran

The opening shot of writer-director Andres Dussan’s Britcom is of a woman in an armchair making good use of a sex toy; sadly, her sense of satisfaction is a world away from the experience of watching this tedious effort. Co-written by Lawrence Tallis…

Two Night Stand

9 Feb 20151 star

Sexist and uninspired rom-com starring Analeigh Tipton and Miles Teller

The morning after her first one night stand, Megan (Analeigh Tipton) is desperate to leave the Brooklyn apartment of her conquest Alec (Miles Teller), but a blizzard stands in the way of her escape. Trapped together, the mismatched pair are forced to…

Love Is Strange

9 Feb 20154 stars

A charming, truthful look at love in later life with John Lithgow and Alfred Molina

Get married and your life goes to pot. This is what happens in Ira Sachs' Love Is Strange, a confidently uncomfortable, New York-set story co-written with Mauricio Zacharias. This is real love: there is old age, there is debt, there is misunderstanding.

Shaun the Sheep Movie

2 Feb 20154 stars

This big screen adaptation of the stop-motion kids' TV show boasts bags of charm

Hot on the heels of Postman Pat and Paddington, the latest British children's TV show to receive the big screen treatment is Shaun the Sheep, the wildly successful stop-motion animated series from the geniuses at Aardman Animations. Happily, the show's…

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The Interview

2 Feb 20152 stars

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's controversial comedy proves hugely disappointing

At a time when satire is an increasingly rare commodity, The Interview became a cause célèbre when Sony temporarily pulled its release after threats from cyber-terrorists. A fictitious tale of a plot to assassinate Kim Jong-un, Seth Rogen and Evan…

Kingsman: The Secret Service

26 Jan 20154 stars

Colin Firth is the cool centre of Matthew Vaughn's riotously entertaining spy pastiche

Writer-director Matthew Vaughn and screenwriter Jane Goldman (Stardust, Kick-Ass) reteam for their second adaptation of a Mark Millar comic with this hugely entertaining spy thriller pastiche that plays, appropriately, like James Bond meets Kick-Ass.

Inherent Vice

26 Jan 20154 stars

Paul Thomas Anderson's latest is a sun-scorched noir with the right helping of nuts

After the crisply shot mind games of The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson goes all warm and fuzzy with a film that follows a perma-stoned private detective on a fabulously befuddling quest, and apes the aesthetic of faded film stock. Like the Thomas Pynchon…

Mortdecai

22 Jan 20151 star

Johnny Depp is reunited with director David Koepp in this crude, charmless caper

Ay, caramba! Johnny Depp has given us quite a catalogue of eccentric and goofy characterisations in his time. But none of them has been as thoroughly unamusing and charmless as his Charlie Mortdecai, eponymous anti-hero of a badly misjudged action comedy.

Duck Soup

12 Jan 20155 stars

The Marx Brothers' masterpiece returns to cinemas in all its madcap glory

Featuring the kind of disruption to the cinematic status quo which couldn't be outdone by a feathered friend in a flap, 1933's Duck Soup was the fifth film fronted by the Marx Brothers and the last to feature straight-man Zeppo. Directed by Leo McCarey…