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Archive for the tag “comedy”

“Silver Linings Playbook” (2012) Review and Second Opinion

Silver Linings Playbook poster

Silver Linings Playbook was off my radar for a while. Then, I heard some good things about the film, saw it got nominated for a list of Oscars and other awards, and saw my fiance had an interest in seeing it. This caused Silver Linings to quickly jump up to the top of my Netflix queue. I have to say that I was legitimately looking forward to seeing it. However, once I popped in the film and sat through its two-hour run time, I was sorely disappointed. I honestly can’t even say I liked Silver Linings Playbook – it just really wasn’t good. The only thing I was left thinking about the film about mental illness, romance, and the Philadelphia Eagles was where all the praise came from.

I might as well start with the main redeeming quality of the film – the acting. Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro both give great performances as expected – the surprise is Bradley Cooper who delivers an excellent performance. Cooper and Lawrence play well off each other and some of their back and forth banter is genuinely well acted. The supporting cast also does a great job of enhancing the central characters’ performances. Despite my negative opinion of the film as a whole, one thing I have to give Silver Linings credit for is its high quality acting. Still, while I say the acting is high quality, I want to clarify that I didn’t think it was award-winning – as such I don’t think Lawrence deserved her Academy Award for Best Actress (while I may be biased toward the incredible performance given by the young Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild, I still think other actresses were better than Lawrence last year).

So, sure, Silver Linings has a positive in its acting. Unfortunately, this positive is quickly wasted on poorly designed characters and asinine dialogue. Don’t get me wrong – I know Silver Linings is a film with a heavy theme of mental illness. But, throughout the whole film, it felt like every single character had some kind of mental issues, bouncing unbelievably back and forth between emotions, changing moods multiple times within a scene, and carrying out some very unnatural interactions. This causes the characters, as a collective group, to bring down the film despite the cast doing the best they can with what they are given.

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence work quite well together and both give great performances in the film. It's a shame that that's about all the film has going for it.

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence work quite well together and both give great performances in the film. It’s a shame that that’s about all the film has going for it.

To make matters worse, the dialogue is quite poor. Personally, I’d classify the dialogue into three categories – writing that is genuinely smart, writing that tries to act smart, and writing that almost seems schizophrenic (no pun intended) to the point where all the characters’ lines become a jumbled mess of words that are totally incompatible with each other. The majority of dialogue falls into the latter two categories, while the few scenes that fall into the first are pretty enjoyable.

Outside of the above, the rest of film is generally underwhelming. The central plot feels like nothing more than a clichéd romance drama with a heavy dose of insanity and some obsessive Eagles fanaticism thrown in. The cinematography is not bad, but not great. Even the soundtrack is virtually non-existent for most of the film, and when it does appear, is mainly just licensed songs layered in.

I really expected more out of Silver Linings Playbook. As a multiple award nominee and having received much critical acclaim, I was looking forward to seeing this drama/black comedy. Having seen it now, I can say that I don’t understand the reason for the praise. The film feels shaky and inconsistent in its execution with some poor dialogue and characterization. In the end, Silver Linings has so many flaws that the wonderful acting by the cast cannot save it.

Final Score: 4.6/10

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Second Opinion:

Silver Linings Playbook was a big hit last year among critics and fans alike, but after finally seeing the film for myself, I cannot jump on the bandwagon. The movie’s main plot, focused around mental illness, seems so forced that almost every single character ends up acting like they have some sort of illness. The love story between Cooper and Lawrence gets lost in a flat story line, forced acting, terrible dialogue and just a lack of many qualities that make you connect with a film.  

The film lost my attention multiple times, which is a rare thing when I am the one who was genuinely interested in seeing the film. I was truly disappointed in the result. As mentioned in the main review, the cast does their best in trying to make the film the best it can be, but the great acting jobs of the cast could not redeem the clichéd, forced plot line of this film. As a romance, it lacked the emotional connection that many films can easily create to intrigue at least the female audience and as a drama, the story line was so two-dimensional that you become easily uninterested. I just could not get myself to enjoy this film one bit, which I really thought I would, given the widespread praise and award nominations. Better luck on the next film I choose. 
Second Opinion Score: 4/10

One Epic Pub Crawl to “The World’s End” Preview

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are teaming back up for what seems to be another hilarious adventure. The duo, whose past credits include Shaun of the Dead and more recently Paul, have a way of taking popular movie topics (zombies, aliens, and action films) and turning them on their heads. With the upcoming film, The World’s End, the focus is an epic pub crawl. A group of five friends fail to complete an epic crawl when younger and now reunite to finish the deed – until things take a crazy turn and the crew end up becoming humanity’s last hope for survival. The film should be a nice breath of fresh air compared to more brainless comedies (i.e. Identity Thief) which I always try to avoid. Look for The World’s End when it releases this October and let me know if you enjoyed Pegg and Frost’s past films or are looking forward to this one.

“Hop” (2011) Guest Movie Review

Hop Movie Poster

Every now and then, I love to watch an animated movie that’s just silly and fun. “Hop” was definitely a treat of a movie. I can’t say that it ranks up with some of the classic animation movies in the last decade such as “Finding Nemo” or “Monsters, Inc.”, but I can say that it was a light, feel good movie that is perfect for young kids, and even adults who just want to feel like a kid once and a while (like me!).

The computer-generated animations were wonderful. Technology has really come a long way, especially for these animated movies. The colors and visuals of all the candies of Easter Island were brilliant and made you want to swim among the masses of jellybeans and marshmallow peeps. The soundtrack was a bit odd with some very dated songs that brought back memories for me, but would have no effect on young children who weren’t alive for such bands. The rock songs related well, because obviously E.B. was dreaming of becoming a drummer in a rock band, but I still think they could have chosen some better songs, or guests artists – Like who the heck are the Blind Boys of Alabama?!?

Carlos and Phil were two of the many characters who brought some dimensions and additional storyline to the film. Phil is also one of my favorite characters, he’ll definitely at least make you crack a smile with his antics!

Carlos and Phil were two of the many characters who brought some dimensions and additional storyline to the film. Phil is also one of my favorite characters, he’ll definitely at least make you crack a smile with his antics!

Anyway, despite my musical ignorance, I still thought the movie was fun. The storyline was nothing too deep, but still enough to be heartwarming and have deeper meaning for young children and kids. It presents a number of wonderful messages to kids, such as do what you love, respect your elders (even when you don’t want to) and to always believe in yourself.  Though I found it cute, Will did make a point as we were watching that the movie has many stereotypes in it. The worker chicks were Latino or Hispanic while the Easter Bunny or boss was British, along with a few others throughout the movie. On another note, the acting was mediocre, which is expected in an animated film. It wasn’t the best, but nothing that your kids are going to complain about.

It was the perfect movie for a relaxing night with the kids and to help excite the children for Easter. I really enjoyed the movie even as an adult, but there are definitely a number of other animated movies that I would prefer to this one. Have a few laughs with your family or loved ones and check “Hop” out for yourself, especially with Easter just around the corner and let me know what you think!

Final Score: 7.0/10

“Hope Springs” (2012) Guest Movie Review

Hope Springs poster

By: Jamie

Hello all, the time has come again for me to put in my two cents on a recent film. To be honest, I had high hopes for “Hope Springs” with wonderful actors like Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones playing the leads. How can this be bad, I asked myself. Well, let’s just say that it was not what I was expecting – it was more like “Hope Sinks.”

Classified as a drama and romantic comedy, I was expecting a lot of laughs and some wonderful heartwarming “Awww” moments, especially with Steve Carell as their relationship therapist. However, what I got were some very awkward scenes that not only made the actors cringe, but the audience as well. There were some laughs, but they were so few and far between that many times I forgot they even occurred.

Don’t get me wrong, there were some beautiful moments when Arnold would realize how much he loved Kay and wanted to make things right. The ending was especially emotional and heartwarming and it has some great life lessons for a happy marriage or relationship sprinkled throughout, but I would have rather learned those lessons on an episode of Oprah or Katie instead of 100 minutes of awkward scenes talking about or displaying various sexual scenes and desires.

The scene above is just one example of a scene that both of the actors seem uncomfortable with, and makes the audience feel the same way.

The scene above is just one example of a scene that both of the actors seem uncomfortable with, and makes the audience feel the same way.

Overall, it was a cute movie that gave you some things to think about for your relationship or marriage. However, the lack of real emotion and chemistry between the actors, the awkward or overdone scenes, and the lack of a decent soundtrack and story line all made the movie just “ehh”.

My opinion may be somewhat biased as it took me almost 2 hours to get through the movie due to technical difficulties since I rented it from Redbox (beware of scratched/skipping disks when renting, I’m 3 for 3 this past month). This made me aggravated and annoyed, making the movie feel longer than it really was and me wanting it to end as soon as I started experiences problems. Other than that, I still think it was a miss, when it comes to a romantic comedy and a disappointment compared to all the hype surrounding the movie. I still love Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell, but this was nowhere near any of their best work. Feeling adventurous or bored, watch it for yourself and let me know if you agree in the comments!

Final Score: 5.0/10

“Identity Thief” (2013) Review

Identity Thief poster

To preface this review, I have to say that I am not a big fan of crude humor. At times, it works. But when films become over saturated with the same old tasteless humor and empty jokes, I cannot get into them. Going into “Identity Thief”, I wasn’t expecting much…. And I left feeling that the film had underachieved compared to my low expectations.

First, the plot to “Identity Thief” is somewhat tolerable if viewed with the lowered expectations of a comedy plot. Yet, the film finds ways to rope its characters into far-fetched and contrived situations. The characters themselves are poorly developed, and McCarthy seems to be as superhumanly indestructible as an old Nokia phone. The worst part is that the film could end at about the twenty-minute mark (you mean to tell me McCarthy didn’t have one other ID left she could have used at the airport out of the dozens at her rental house?) and would have likely been better off if it had.

To make the story worse, Seth Gordon feels the need to try to make the audience connect with the characters in such poor ways. Characters are developed entirely in one direction, yet at any time the film will take a complete 180-degree turn regarding its stance on these characters. The moral system in the film is inherently flawed, and results in the film often feeling like it is forcing you to connect with its characters when your mind is pushing you in a completely opposite direction.

Worse yet, the humor propelling the film is tasteless. There is an extremely heavy reliance on the uncreative, crude bag of tricks of cranking out joke after joke involving over-the-top violence, lewd sexual content, and generally mindless writing. Did I mention that I found maybe 2-3 parts of the film legitimately funny? Maybe I’m just getting old….

I can imagine Jason Bateman saying here, "wait, this is the script I signed up for?"

I can imagine Jason Bateman saying here, “wait, this is the script I signed up for?”

Glaring negatives aside, Bateman and McCarthy actually do an acceptable job in portraying the uninspired parts they were given, and do quite a decent job playing off of each other. If it wasn’t for these two stars holding this film together, there would little positive to talk about. Still, their performances cannot redeem the many negatives in “Identity Thief”.

“Identity Thief” is an exercise in uninspired humor, the kind that seems all too common in theaters anymore. The story, characters, and humor are all shoddily designed. At one point, Bateman actually comments to McCarthy, “are you even human?” When a film’s characters have to ask questions about the film’s lunacy, you have a problem. Overall, “Identity Thief” lacks much enjoyability, and as such I cannot really recommend this to the majority of viewers.

Final Score: 3.0/10

“The Exotic Marigold Hotel” (2012) Guest Movie Review

Exotic Marigold Hotel poster

By: Jamie

Hello, all! First. I want to thank Will for allowing me to be a guest blogger here on MediArray, and thank you to all the fans and followers!

My first review is of the newer dramatic comedy, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” I was skeptical of this film at first, but it was a pleasant surprise that both my mother and I enjoyed immensely, since it was somewhat of a chick flick.

Unlike the usual, so-called “chick flick” filled with soppy love scenes and magical or miraculous occurrences of events, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” has a more unique storyline, with a group of British retirees traveling all the way to India for various reasons to take residence in the believed to be luxurious Marigold Hotel. However, they soon find out that it’s not as luxurious as they had imagined, but brings joy and unfound clarity to many of its residents.

The plot first focuses briefly on the various back-stories of each of the retirees, giving you some insight into their desire to travel to India. However as the plot continues in India, we see deeper into the psyches of the retirees and their real desires. How they handle their new surroundings and experiences gives us an even deeper view into the various feelings and personal struggles of the characters. The way the characters evolve makes us become more deeply connected to them and their happiness in their new environment. There is also a wonderful sentiment at the end of the movie that helps give additional meaning to the motives and actions of many of the retirees.

One of the many colorful and vibrant street scenes.

One of the many colorful and vibrant street scenes.

The wonderful acting done by the majority of the main characters carries the plot heavily. Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Tom Wilkinson, to name a few, truly capture their characters and carry this film, making it the enjoyable cinematic experience that it is. Another wonderful aspect to the movie is the sound track. It truly captures the feelings of each scene, from the noisy Indian street scenes to the many heart to heart conversations and attractions between various characters.

Though the movie was enjoyable, there were some areas where it was lacking. It is categorized as a comedy and drama, but the comedy half was very lacking. The few times that we did chuckle, they were slightly and already advertised in the various previews, making you expect more laughs than you really get. Also, the story is somewhat predictable. There were some unexpected plot twists that added to the storyline, but many other times I at least had an idea of what would be occurring next.

In the end, ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” was a light, delightful film that was entertaining. It was full of wonderful acting and a lively soundtrack and wonderful camera work that truly brought the film together to make it enjoyable. Is it a best picture? Not even close. Enjoyable? Yes. For a light film with your girlfriends or female relatives, this one is a good fit.

Final Score: 6.7/10

Hope you all enjoyed my first guest review here on Media Array and I hope this is the first of many.  🙂

“The Darjeeling Limited” (2007) Review

Darjeeling Limited Poster

Wes Anderson is a highly skilled director with an uncanny ability to create some very unique, and highly entertaining films. Having been a big fan of his past work (most recently, the wonderful “Moonrise Kingdom“), I have been meaning to see “The Darjeeling Limited” for a while now. After experiencing the film, I can say that this is another great entry into Wes Anderson’s body of work, albeit not without a few glaring flaws.

“The Darjeeling Limited” focuses on three brothers who have agreed to take a trip across India together to try to reforge familial bonds. This sets up the trio of Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, and Jason Schwartzman for an adventure they will not forget. What makes this story most intriguing is the development of the relationships between the brothers and their interactions with the world around them. The characters become more mature throughout the film, and the events that slowly cause this evolution are interesting to say the least. Wes Anderson’s ability to create such unique stories and characters shines through here, and this keep “Darjeeling” entertaining from start to finish.

Unfortunately, for how great the plot and characters are during the film, there just seems to be something missing from their back story. The viewer gets a sense of the brothers’ past, but I always had this feeling that I was not fully in-the-loop on what made them who they are. Without a more fleshed-out back story to this family, some scenes lack as much of a punch as they could have had.

Despite this one glaring flaw, the plot is still highly entertaining. The story is made all the better through some great dialogue and set/costume design. The dialogue has that unusual, and smartly hilarious touch that Wes Anderson always brings to the table. The sets are also eye-catching, ranging from many scenes within the small compartments of the train to villages to Indian country-side. All the sets and costumes have splashes of color that exaggerate certain objects and treat the audience to a visual treat.

A good amount of the film takes place on the train, but Wes Anderson creates such great interactions between characters that this small set never feels cramped or boring.

A good amount of the film takes place on the train, but Wes Anderson creates such great interactions between characters that this small set never feels cramped or boring.

Another positive for the film is the acting that Wilson, Brody, and Schwartzman bring to the film. They capture each brother’s personality perfectly, and make their situation believable. They work quite well together, and make each scene enjoyable.

One last thing of note is the film’s soundtrack. While I typically love Anderson’s film soundtracks (including the Portuguese David Bowie touch to “The Life Aquatic”), this one left me underwhelmed. It is certainly not bad, but just not nearly up to the standards I would expect.

“The Darjeeling Limited” is clearly a Wes Anderson film. It has all his hallmarks stamped upon it, and for the most part, it is a great movie. The passable soundtrack and lack of back story on the brothers detracts from the experience somewhat, but the high quality of the rest of the film’s pieces still make this a must-watch for Anderson fans or any fan of indie dramadies.

Final Score – 7.8/10

“The Sessions” (2012) Review

It’s hard to describe “The Sessions” as anything but an unusual, no-boundaries drama with bits of comedy. Based on previews, I was expecting the film to be more comedy-driven than drama, but I will give you a heads-up – “The Sessions” is a drama at heart, with pieces of comedy littered throughout. Don’t go into the film expecting a laugh-filled ride, as you will likely be disappointed if you do.

In reviewing this film, I must praise the writing. The film has some of the most well-written dialogue this year. The bits of humor are smart and memorable, and will always have you laughing (it’s a shame there wasn’t more of this humor throughout the film). The parts of the film that focus more on drama and character interaction still have the great writing, though they just don’t have the depth to propel the film forward.

To further enhance the writing, the cast wonderfully capture the characters being portrayed. John Hawkes delivers an outstanding performance that should be considered for an Oscar – the feeling he captures and delivers, all from a supine position, is incredible. Even each member playing the smaller roles are great at playing their characters. Plus, I’ve been a fan of William H. Macy since “Fargo”, and he is still a great actor.

John Hawkes is outstanding as Mark O’Brien, delivering one of the best performances of the year.

Where the film runs into trouble is after about the 20-minute mark. The comedy dies down and the film becomes a character drama. The overall plot is unique, but at times, the characters themselves just don’t make the story compelling enough on their own,  and at a few points the story seems to lose its way. It certainly isn’t boring or bad, it is just average. Though when the comedy kicks back in at times, and especially when it is heavily present in the beginning segments, the film soars.

Two things I can’t really go into much detail on are the cinematography and the soundtrack. What little there is in the way of a soundtrack is unremarkable. Whereas the cinematography is standard as well. This kind of movie doesn’t really open itself up to great camera work or stunning visuals (unless, of course, you have a strong desire to see Helen Hunt nude for 1/3 of a film). There is one or two interesting shots, but on the whole, nothing stands out on the production end.

Overall, “The Sessions” is a movie caught between two spectrums. On one hand, it is a surprisingly original comedy that has the right components to be great. On the other, it is a drama that misses its mark. The writing and acting carry the film through some of the less-interesting moments, and when the film hits its stride, it can be great. The problem is that it just can’t seem to find its identity.

Final Score: 6.2/10

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