Archive for the ‘Comedy’ Category

Toni ErdmannSaying that Toni Erdmann is a great film is easy. Explaining why is considerably more difficult. Rarely is a movie so obviously good in the viewing and so elusive in the analysis. A simple synopsis yields few clues as to the work’s manifest virtues. A frustrated career woman is forced to deal with the stresses of her job and the unexpected appearance of her practical jokester of a father, and that is essentially the whole show for two hours and forty-two minutes. And it’s in German. And it’s billed as a comedy. That’s what’s known in the business as a “tough sell.”

Maybe, just maybe, Toni Erdmann is the rare contemporary film for which critics and reviewers can play an outsized role in raising awareness so that audiences don’t miss the opportunity to see an indescribably transcendent work. Bottom line: if you love movies, you have to see this one. (more…)

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Trash FireTrash Fire boasts a laugh-out-loud opening scene and a punch-to-the gut closing scene. The problem is what comes in between.

Writer/director Richard Bates Jr. third feature film occupies a strange limbo. Trash Fire is not conventional enough to generate empathy for its characters as they attempt to secure a viable future by coming to terms with past trauma. Nor is the movie outrageous enough to rank as a black comedy despite some genuinely funny moments. And while it can be identified as horror/comedy, each moment is one or the other or something closer to family drama. Genres here play like oil and water with no intermingling. (more…)

another evilIt turns out that 2016 actually saw the release of two new Ghostbusters. The better known of the two was, of course, the all-female lead version that was met by controversy and misogyny from the time the first trailer dropper. The movie itself was amusing; the cameos from the original cast were terrific; and no tender fanboy egos were harmed in the making of the film.

The other Ghostbusters has flown under the radar since its premiere at SXSW in March. It could be because the word “Ghostbusters” does not appear in its title or any of its promotional material. The movie has none of the original cast or crew and makes no effort whatsoever to align itself with the 1984 comedy classic. But don’t be fooled by this. The little indie gem Another Evil is a spiritual sequel to the beloved Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd et al romp. (more…)

The Greasy StranglerHow you feel about The Greasy Strangler coming out of the theater will be directly related to how you were feeling going into the theater. In other words, the more altered your perception of reality, the more likely you are to spend the 93 minutes giggling and gagging, while enjoying yourself immensely. The designated drivers among you will not be having the same experience. In the spirit of full disclosure, when seen at a 6:30 screening by a stone cold sober critic, The Greasy Strangler still provoked some laughter and absolutely no ill will. (more…)

Maggie's PlanMaybe this one works with Amy Schumer in the lead.

And you slide Bill Hader over from best guy friend to goofball sperm donor.

Certainly, it would help if you give Maya Rudolph considerably more to do.

And definitely the odds improve if you show Julianne Moore the door.

But as it stands, Maggie’s Plan, a would-be romantic comedy, fails on both counts – it’s neither sweet nor funny. The movie wants so badly to be a New York City/Manhattan/Center of the Hipster Universe/Cool Kids Only Need Apply edgy, indie happening, but it misses by a mile and winds up as a atonal mess in which the comics beats are stepped on by stressful scenes of working women scrambling to raise their children or someone else’s children or both. (more…)

WOE_FirstLook-2-1024x716Have you ever wondered if a mime would make a noise when run over by a police car? This and other too-often neglected questions of law enforcement are finally answered in John Michael McDonagh’s irreverent take on the buddy cop formula, War on Everyone.

Imagine a remake of Lethal Weapon in which the Mel Gibson character spoke and acted like Mel Gibson in the course of a DUI. Meanwhile, the Danny Glover guy profanely berates his children, enables his alcoholic partner, and argues with his wife over the source of existential philosophy quotes. War on Everyone is South Park meets Starsky & Hutch, a kick ass, crazy, would-be procedural that is not satisfied until it has found the scene that offends you. (more…)

Hail, CaesarThe first scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the sequel to one of the greatest action movies ever filmed, is a musical number. There was no cinematic justification for Kate Capshaw leading a line of chorus girls in a Mandarin Chinese rendition of “Anything Goes” for three minutes while audiences asked “WTF?” before that was even a thing. No justification does not mean no explanation. It turns out that director Steven Spielberg always wanted to direct a musical. And, oh, yeah, he was married to Capshaw.

Now, imagine, not just one scene, but an entire film comprised of scenes from genres that the director always wanted to film. (more…)