That Awkward Moment
Two of last year’s most promising young actors, Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordon team up with High School Musical irritant Zac Efron to play a trio of douchebags trying to pick up women in this witless attempt at a rom-com. The leads don’t make their characters remotely likeable while the film relies heavily on lowbrow, often penis-related humour and attempts to provide romantic stories for all three that are nothing we haven’t seen in many rom-coms prior.
Walk of Shame
Elizabeth Banks plays a bland LA TV reporter who goes on a girls’ night out the day before an important job interview for some contrived reason that now escapes me. After hooking up with James Marsden, she finds herself stranded with no money or phone having to walk. I had originally thought the title of this film would refer to a set-up event occurring in its opening act to recover from but soon realised that the whole movie practically consists of her ‘walk’. It’s all then just variations on the same joke over and over again, that Banks, wearing a skimpy yellow dress, is constantly mistaken for some form of sex worker by everyone she encounters. It’s not even funny the first time, let alone the fifth. Banks perseveres but the film struggles further by having her character make desperately stupid decisions, like attempting to sell crack, in its feeble attempts at humour.
The Angriest Man in Brooklyn
Field of Dreams director Phil Alden Robinson hadn’t made a film in over a decade, what about The Angriest Man in Brooklyn tempted him to return I don’t know. A remake of an Israeli film, it stars Robin Williams as an abrasive New Yorker who rubs everyone up the wrong way. One person who has enough of him is a doctor (Mila Kunis) who in her anger informs him that he has only 90 minutes to live. Then the inevitable journey towards sentimentality begins as Williams attempts to re-connect with his family in his remaining minutes. It has a talented cast (including Peter Dinklage and Melissa Leo) but it asks you to accept a scenario so idiotic, that anyone would just believe that they had only 90 minutes to live, that the film would have to be much, much funnier to excuse.
I don’t think there’s any modern film trend that I have less interest in than the ‘dance movie’, honestly I’ve seen more Twilight films than I have Step-Ups. But if there’s a way for a dance film to gain my attention, having it star Nick Frost might just be that. Rather than just being a loveable loser who dreams of salsa glory, Frost is given a rather sad backstory detailing how he was a salsa champion as a child but gave up after being bullied. He’s now an office worker who turns to salsa again after learning his gorgeous new boss (Rashida Jones) is a fan. After giving an excellent performance in The World’s End, it’s good to see Frost getting a starring vehicle of his own outside of Simon Pegg’s shadow (Pegg has a literal blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo). He makes for a likeable lead, but unfortunately Cuban Fury just uses its amusing set-up as the basis for a very standard romantic comedy. The biggest problem is Jones’s character, who can barely even be called that at all. There’s simply nothing to her. Frost falls for her after maybe one minute’s interaction knowing nothing other than she’s hot and likes salsa. It then takes on the dubious, if familiar notion idea having two males compete in belief that they could ‘win’ her. There’s strong support from Chris O’Dowd as Frost’s smug rival co-worker, Ian McShane as a stubborn trainer and Four Lions star Kayvan Novak as a very flamboyant dancer (whom the film thankfully doesn’t simply make the butt of terrorist and gay jokes). It’s certainly accessible to those uninterested in salsa, saving the few dancing sequences to the end, but like Pegg before him, upon going solo Frost has produced a far lesser comedy than when he sticks with his usual team.
The Lego Movie
Phil Lord and Chris Miller had already developed a minor reputation for taking material with next-to-no promise and turning it into surprisingly great movies with Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street, but this truly solidified their winning formula. The inventive Lego world they create often leads to some very funny moments but initially appears to be the backdrop to a standard ‘hero’s journey’-type story involving construction worker Emmet (Chris Pratt essentially reprising his Parks and Recreation role). As it moves on Lord and Miller never pause for a moment from their constant stream of creativity, cramming in some delightful cameos in the form of both voice actors and existing characters. I’m genuinely impressed that they were allowed to use some of the very well-known licensed characters in the way they do here, unafraid to completely send them up and give us fresh takes on them. Cynics will say that it’s really just a big toy commercial, but for me it was no different in that regard from watching a Disney film like Frozen which essentially exists to generate merchandise anyway. However, just when it looks like The Lego Movie might be at risk of running out of steam, it reveals a wraparound structure that not only makes perfect sense of everything that’s come before, but adds an unexpected and profound depth to the film that by the end, honestly had me on the verge of tears. Utterly wonderful.