Category: Comedy


Before You Know It

August 20th, 2019 — 5:37pm

***

Before You Know It-sp

One of the most fascinating scenarios that we have seen in various films over the years is one where a previously unknown family relationship becomes known. That is the premise of this movie produced by a team of newcomer filmmakers. The co-stars, Hannah Pearl Utt and Jen Tullock in addition to co-starring in the film both co-wrote the story and Utt was the director.

The main subjects are a theatrical family where the two sisters and their dad (Mandy Patinkin – who is outstanding in this relatively short role) are trying to produce a play in a small theater in Greenwich Village in New York City where they live in an upstairs apartment. Tragic circumstances lead the girls to track down the woman who they unexpectedly came to understand is their actual biological mother. This woman (Judith Light) is herself a famous soap opera star who ultimately embraces her long-lost daughters. In this process, there was meaningful dialogue which deals with abandonment, adolescents, growing up as well as the complications of sharing credits in creative endeavors. There is also a sub-story about the oldest sisters’ pubescent daughter (Oona Yaffe) who discovers her womanhood and has to figure out how to deal with it. Along the way, there is a therapist (Alec Baldwin) who adds some passing humor to the story.

“Before you know it”, we have witnessed a meaningful slice of life for all the main characters who suffered but hopefully grew and matured. The audience shares the experience with them which include some good humor. This could have been a Woody Allen movie which actually is a backhanded compliment. (2019)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Comedy, Drama

Where’d You Go, Bernadette

August 20th, 2019 — 5:26pm

***

Where’d You Go, Bernadette -rm

At best, the main character is a quirky brilliant architect who is married and has a lovely daughter. They care deeply about each other and the connection between them is very touching. Circumstances and misunderstanding lead them on a wild adventure to the Antarctica and the South Pole.

The cast is top notch staring Cate Blanchett, Trojan Bellisario, Billy Crudup and Kristen Wiig, also featuring Judy Greer and Laurence Fishburne, all working under the guidance of veteran director, Richard Linklater.

The film obviously touched the funny bone of much of the audience as we heard frequent out loud laughter. However, we viewed the main character as a misunderstood, if relatable woman frustrated by the events in her life and seemingly suffering from a potentially serious depression which supported her husband’s attempt to arrange an “ intervention “ with a mental health therapist. Viewing this film about a troubled person made it hard to appreciate the humor that was obviously there and enjoyed by much of the audience. (2019)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Comedy, Drama

Identity Thief

July 26th, 2019 — 6:00pm

**

Identity Thief-rm

I was looking for a movie to watch on a recent international flight. Most of the films I had either seen or were in a foreign language or I did not recall hearing about them. I chose the one title that sounded interesting. It featured Melissa McCarthy, a scammer who tricks a happily married man (Jason Bateman) on a phone scam into giving all his essential information to her, so she could assume his identity and buy things on his credit cards. (His name is Sandy and could be male or female). He desperately needed to find her to avoid a huge debt and losing his job. He tracks her down in another city and they get involved with the police and criminal elements, which leads to a cross country car ride with two of them; so you might call this a road movie. I can also state it is one of worse movies I can recall sitting through. Ms. McCarthy is a great comedian who can do physical comedy, falls, and facial contortions and brings realism to her character. Bateman plays his role quite well. However, the story is unbelievable and in my opinion not worth the time even on a boring plane ride (2013).

 

Comment » | 2 Stars, Comedy

Late Night

June 17th, 2019 — 7:11pm

****

Late Night-sp

The premise here is that there was no Johnny Carson but rather the star of late-night television has been Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson). She is the first female host of a major late-night television show which she has hosted for 10 years. Her ratings however are now falling and the network is planning to replace her with a male comedian. Ms. Newbury has an all-white male writing staff, some of whom she has never met in person. She gets it into her head that she needs another point of view and hires Molly (Mindy Kaling) who works in a chemical planat, is a stand-up comedian and a self-proclaimed writer. She also happens to be an Indian woman of color. Although not having much experience, she speaks her mind and is able to confront, not only her new boss, but her nine male white co-writers, many of whom are played by very familiar faces and include Hugh Dancy, Reed Scott, Denis O’Hare, Max Casella, and Paul Hauser.

In this fast-moving comedic drama, many issues are confronted such as gender discrimination, ageism, and of course elitism. The co-star and screenwriter, Mindy Kaling may be drawing upon her own observations and experiences as she had been an actor in the hit tv show, “The Office” for many years, as well as producing and starring in her own show, “The Mindy Project.”

It is easy to get caught up with the story line. You are rooting for all to end well. The jokes are clever and the acting is excellent and we should add that Ms. Newbury’s husband is played a well-known actor who brings sensitivity to all his roles and that is John Lithgow.

We judged this film to be a clever, timely, funny, very well acted and directed . It was done on a low budget with only 25 days of shooting. Obviously, the movie was made for the love of the story and not for love of money but it is well worth seeing. (2019)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Comedy, Drama

Crazy Rich Asians

September 14th, 2018 — 11:00pm

***

Crazy Rich Asians-rm

This is a fast moving romantic comedy with an all-Asian cast which satires “crazy rich Asians”.

A young man decides to take his girlfriend with him from United States to go to a friend’s wedding in Singapore and also visit with his family. Although the young woman is an Economics professor in the United States, she did not have any idea of the tremendous wealth belonging to his family. The magnificent skyline of the city as well as that of Shanghai, beautiful nearby islands, gigantic yachts, spacious mansions, parties with attractive well-dressed people, music, dancing, unlimited food and drink are the background and the foreground of this film.

The young man’s mother as well as his grandmother questioned the intentions of the new girlfriend who they feel is pulling him to stay in the United States and not follow his destiny by taking over the family business in his homeland.

The storyline plays with the viewer. Just as you think the climactic dilemma is being solved one way, it changes and it’s now being worked out another way and then still another. It is a tumultuous story, all about love and a group of very wealthy “crazy rich Asians.” (2018)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Comedy, Romance

I Hate Kids

April 13th, 2018 — 7:39am

Screened at the 2018 San Francisco Film Festival

Unknown opening date in USA

***

I Hate Kids

This is a very fanciful comedy that verges on the ridiculous. Its premise made little sense to us. Mason (Julian Feder), a teenage boy raised by his foster mother, contacts a so called radio psychic (Tituss Burgess) who eventually is exposed to be a fraud. In response to the young man trying to find his biological mother, he is told by the psychic that he only knows that his biological father(Todd Everett Scott) is an author of a bestselling book I Hate Kids and he states that the author would know who is his biological mother. It becomes more convoluted as the boy is able to buy a sample of the author’s hair from a barber who saves celebrity hair. He then is able to compare it to his own via DNA identification. This confirms that the author is his father. The boy then confronts the author who agrees to try to find the boy’s mother by visiting his old girlfriends. This is all occurring a few days before the “kid hating” author is supposed to marry a woman (Rhea Selhorn) who equally does not like kids. This leads to a wild and crazy road trip visiting the author’s old girlfriends.

Director John Asher and screen writers Frank Dietz and Todd Trainer are responsible for what we thought was silly but occasionally funny interaction. Yet despite the implausible plot, there was a charm and upbeat quality that might make some of you feel that it was worth the ride (2018).

 

Comment » | 3 Stars, Comedy, Drama

Just Getting Started

November 28th, 2017 — 11:54pm

**

Just Getting Started-sp

Director/Screenwriter, Ron Shelton (Bull Durham, Tin Cup, White Men Can’t Jump, Cobb, Blaze) in a post-screening discussion stated that he made this film for the over 50 crowd. He probably means even 10 years older but didn’t want to limit his audience. Even so, while we fit that demographic we couldn’t relate very well to the film. It is supposed to be a feel-good Christmas movie although Christmas is not the main theme.

It would seem that you are supposed to come away from the movie feeling that one should always be having a good time now and in the future. Duke, played by Morgan Freeman, who always is great in any role that he takes on, is the director of a wealthy retirement community in Palm Springs, California. He has lots of women who are certainly good for sex and you get the feeling that a good time is had by all. There is a new “sheriff” in town by the name of Leo, played by Tommy Lee Jones and we’re not quite sure exactly why he is in town but he is trouble for Duke. So is Suzie (Rene Russo) who is sent by the hotel owner with a job to do but of course gets caught up with the cast of characters.

There is a plot with some twists and turns and even a surprise or two but frankly we didn’t care much although it was mildly pleasant to watch. The supporting casts included familiar faces such as Glenne Headly(sadly in her last performance), Joe Pantoliano, Elizabeth Ashley, Sheryl Lee Ralph and singer Johnny Mathis, who is now in his 80s and plays himself and sings almost as well as ever.

With so many great movies out there today we can’t recommend this one, even for a holiday interlude. (2017

Comment » | 2 Stars, Comedy, Uncategorized

The Big Sick

July 7th, 2017 — 5:27am

*****

The Big Sick-rm

Kumail Nanjiani is a comic actor who is one of the stars of the TV series Silicon Valley. This movie is based on Nanjiani’s real life. It is co-produced by Judd Apatow who is known for two great comedy classics Bridesmaid and Trainwreck. Nanjiani comes from a traditional Pakistan family who emigrated from Pakistan to Los Angeles. They expected their son to marry a Pakistani girl which they would be glad to arrange for this to happen. They also would prefer that he become a lawyer rather than work in the world of comedy which he was doing as a struggling standup comedian. Emily (Zoe Kazan) meets Nanjiani when she makes some comments during his standup act at a comedy club. She is from Chicago but is living in Los Angeles. There is obviously a chemistry between these two as the story develops.

Stop here and read no further if you don’t like spoilers! Since there has been a great deal of press about this movie, you may know what develops in the film. One of us (SB) knew the story but still loved the movie. One of us (MB) also loved the movie but preferred not to know any spoiler events and viewed the film without knowledge of the background of the characters until he saw the movie.

So now, welcome to those who are just continuing with this review or perhaps are returning after you have seen the film. This movie was actually co-written by Kumail Nanjiani and his real life wife Emily V. Gordon. They recount how despite that they were very compatible sexually and otherwise, Kumail needed to please his parents and therefore broke off their budding romance.

The big event that changed everything was “The Big Sick” and that was a life threatening infection, which led Emily to be hospitalized and then put into a medical coma. This event brought her parents Beth (Holly Hunter) and Terry (Ray Romano) to Los Angeles where they meet and ultimately connected with Kumail. Hunter is terrific as the energetic and emotional mom. It is hard to forget Romano as anyone but “Raymond” of his classic TV series but he is still a likable character and could very well be the caring dad that he portrays. However, it is Nanjiani’s facial expressions that convey his emotional caring while his words express sincerity, irony, and comedy. These words, as well as the words added by all the actors were co-written by Nanjiani and his real life wife Emily V. Gordon. The comedic lines throughout this movie drew out loud laughter from our movie audience, which is something we often don’t see. Obviously, the continued existence of the co-writers of this film reveals a recovery and a happy ending of this movie and for this talented couple. The film is worth seeing whether you know the story or not. It is smart, funny, poignant and full of life, despite the “near death” experiences of the characters and their relationship! (2017)

Comment » | 5 Stars, Comedy, Romance

Love Actually

June 17th, 2017 — 6:01am

***

Love Actually-nf

Through the magical power of Netflix, we are able to go back in time, 14 years and view an ensemble film that we recall was well received at the time and was nominated for a Golden Globe award. You will see a number of familiar faces in this movie who turned in great performances. This includes Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Colin Firth, Emma Thompson, Keira Knightley, Laura Linney, Allen Rickman, Billy Bob Thornton and others who we didn’t recognize but who were quite good.

The movie is the brainchild of writer-director, Richard Curtis. This setting is on the other side of the pond in London, England. The film is about couples being attracted to each other and falling in love. There are about 10 separate couples involved but the stories do interconnect. There is a British prime minister who falls for his assistant, a screenwriter who is drawn to a young Portuguese woman although they can’t speak each other’s language. There is a married CEO who is smitten by his secretary. There is even an approximately 10 to 12-year-old boy who is certain that he is in love with a girl in his class and is getting advice how to declare his love by his recently widowed dad. Contrast that scenario with two porn stars who aren’t moved by their coupling on the set but find themselves in a budding romance off screen. The movie takes place around Christmas time which adds to the joyous feel good mood which emanates from the screen. There is a great soundtrack which facilities the exciting emotions sprouting forth before us.

The title suggests that this movie is a celebration of love. We would beg to differ on this point. Just about all the characters have a relatively superficial relationship and very little knowledge of each other at the point where they believe they are falling in love. Certainly, we understand this could be a very exciting time for people experiencing this great attraction to each other. If this were real life, many of the relationships would soon cool off and unfortunately, it might even taken several years of marriage before they would go their separate ways. So while the title is Love Actually, we think it might better be called Actually Attraction. Nevertheless, it was a great film to watch. The DVD also has an interesting narration of the movie while it is playing by the director-screenwriter, Richard Curtis who discusses the film with some of the well-known actors who appear in it (2003)

 

Comment » | 3 Stars, Comedy, Drama, Romance

The Wedding Plan

May 16th, 2017 — 11:52pm

**

The Wedding Plan – sp

This is an Israeli film (a comedy of sorts) written and directed by Rama Burshtein who is an Orthodox Hasidic woman. This is her second feature film and both have dealt with the subject of marriage.

In this current movie, Michal (Noa Kooler) is a young Orthodox Hasidic woman who despite the attempts of matchmakers has not been able to achieve her goal of finding a husband. In fact, she thought she was getting close and was planning her wedding when her boyfriend Gidi (Erez Drigues) told her that he really didn’t love her. This didn’t make her call off her hope to get married, in fact she told Shimi, the guy who runs the wedding hall that he should reserve the eighth day of Hanukkah as the date that she would be getting married (this is the day the miracle of Hanukkah took place where the Maccabees had run out of oil for their lamp in the synagogue but the small amount left burned for eight days) even though she didn’t have anyone to marry yet. She was putting her faith in God that in the next couple of weeks, she would find her husband-to-be. That of course was putting a lot of pressure on the matchmaker, her family and herself. She even goes on to meet Yos, a rock star (Oz Zehavi) in a holy shrine but it didn’t look that she was going to take him or anyone else to the Chuppa on the day that is set for her wedding. Her strong faith and even the faith of her mother (Irit Shelleg) and her best friend Feggie (Ronny Merhavi) that things are going to work out was very touching but truthfully, that is where the theme of the movie becomes challenging to us to say the least. It becomes difficult to identify with this very appealing and likable protagonist as well as her entourage of family and devoted girlfriends.

On one hand, we sensed that this is presented as a comedy with everything somewhat exaggerated. On the other hand, we understand that we are being given an insight into a culture and religious sect where love and marriage are very sacred, but the former probably is supposed to develop after the later. (First marriage, then love) We were not touched by the movie and in fact found the premise of the plot unbelievable. That would make the film somewhat unsuccessful in our eyes because after all, it wasn’t that funny to be a great comedy. However, if we view the story as not so much a comedy, but rather an exposition of the optimism and faith of this religious group that we occasionally encounter but don’t really understand, then perhaps the film is somewhat of a success on another level but not enough for us to recommend it.

The movie opens not only in Israel, New York and Los Angeles but all over the world and it will be interesting to see how it is received. (2017)

1 comment » | 2 Stars, Comedy, Drama, Foreign

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