Cinepub


31 Days of Horror 10: Stripperland (2011) by Jamie

Find and replace. It can be a pretty handy tool. Say you realize you’ve been spelling something wrong all the way through what ever your writing and for some reason your spellcheck hasn’t picked it up. A quick find and replace and bam! That little misspelling is banished to the digital afterlife, to be laughed at forever by it’s correctly spelled friends… Man, I need to stop anthropomorphising everything. Anyway, my point is that it can be a tool for good or it can result in some real shit like say if someone got there hands on the script for Zombieland and used find and replace to replace every use of the word ‘Zombie’ in that script with the word ‘Stripper’. Yes, that’d be pretty awful.

And yet someone did that, as near as I can tell. Someone took the script of Zombieland and said “You know what this movie needs? Strippers!” Except that they are really still just Zombies. Zombies dressed as strippers. So in essence this is Zombieland with a bunch of girls in another terrible “Sexy” Halloween costume. They even reference Zombieland as “That movie where they call each other by where they come from”. It’s pretty terrible.

Ok, so maybe I’m being a little unfair. It does deviate from the plot of Zombieland somewhat which is a shame because these deviations mean that this film clocks in it at just under one hour and 45 minutes, lumbering from unfunny set piece to unfunny set piece.

I just don’t understand the idea behind making a parody of a comedy, especially when the original is so much funnier than your piss-poor piss-take. Then there’s the whole idea of sexualising zombies which I’ve dealt with before a number of times.

So yeah, this film is just kinda shitty. Not even a cameo from Lloyd Kaufman, father of Troma (the only studio that can seem to get these kinds of intentionally bad films right) isn’t enough to save it. Seriously, if you want to watch a Zombie comedy there are better films out there, if you want to see scantily clad women there are better films out there as well as actual human women and the internet. If you want to see scantily clad zombies, get the fuck outta my house. Half a pint out of five since there were a couple of moments that made me chuckle slightly. Laterz.

Oh, and Daniel Baldwin is a rapper. Fuck this movie.

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Review: The Hangover Part III by Jamie

In 2009 a little comedy film about four friends travelling to Las Vegas for a bachelor party was released and took the world by storm. It took a concept we could all understand, getting so fucked up that you can’t remember anything about the night before, and built a comedic mystery around it. It was a crude comedy that actually had a decent plot but more importantly, the characters were great and that was important because this kind of comedy absolutely depends on the characters. It would be the cinematic breakthrough for the actors portraying those characters as well, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis were all propelled to a level of fame they hadn’t had before and the world was glad of it.

Then in 2011, the sequel was released. It was pretty much the exact same plot except this time the Wolfpack found themselves in Bnagkok. There were many complaints about it being the exact same movie and to a certain degree those criticisms were valid. Still, I enjoyed it for the most part because I liked the charactes and getting to see another one of their adventures was, for the most part, enjoyable.

So no we come to 2013 and the release of the trilogy ending Part three. I rewatched the first two before going to see it at the cinema and so I was looking forward to it. Yes, it would most likely be the exact same thing all over again but I accepted that and was just looking forward to laughing for a bit. Fuck, was I wrong.

The Hangover Part III is literally the definition of a disappointing sequel. The second asked you to buy into the conceit that the same thing could happen to these guys all over again and I did. I was ready to buy into that conceit again. Unfortunately it seems as though Todd Philips heard the criticisms regarding this and decided that if people wanted something different, he would give them something different. And so he did. There is no hangover. He completely removed the mystery element from the plot. Sure, there’s something there which has some of the trappings of a mystery but it really isn’t. Instead it’s just a straightforward story with little hints of mystery that all get solved far to quickly and that just isn’t fun.

It isn’t just not fun for the audience however. Everyone in the film looks like they’re just here due to contractual obligations. No one wants to be here as they’ve moved on to bigger and better things. This is mostly apparent through Bradley Cooper’s performance. It’s almost like he’s begrudgingly helping a friend move house, that’s the impression you get from him. If the film’s cast can’t even be bothered to care about this movie then why should I?

It may be as a result of this disregard for the quality of the film and the boredom of the actors that all of the characters seem off as well. In the first film, Alan was a naïve manchild that you could feel somewhat sympathetic towards. In the second film he became a little more of an asshole but for the most part he was still someone you could enjoy. The third film, however, just decides to make him a complete dick. He’s a dick to his mother, a dick to his friends with the exception of Phil who it almost seems as though he just wants to fuck now. If you can’t feel sympathy for the character than there’s absolutely no reason to care about him at all and I didn’t.

But perhaps the second biggest problem with this movie is the larger role for Chow. Again, in the first movie he was a somewhat minor character without much screen time. The second increased his role and he was certainly irritating but again, his screen time was somewhat limited. Part three is Chow’s movie and Jesus fuck is it annoying. I’ll be honest, I’m really starting to hate Ken Jeong and this is a major problem because it seems as though he will be in every comedy film forever and ever. The character he plays is just an asshole.

And so we come to the biggest problem with this movie. Everyone is a fucking asshole. Like I said before, in the first film Alan was sympathetic. Stu was the straight-laced one who had gotten in over his head and Phil was admittedly an asshole but in some weird way he kept the group together and kept the plot moving forward. In this film there is no distinction between the characters any more. Everyone is just a fucking asshole. Ok, maybe Alan is different in that he’s a slightly stupider asshole than the others but still, a fucking asshole. And you know what? There’s nothing entertaining or funny about watching a bunch of fucking assholes being fucking assholes to each other so that they can save their fucking asshole of a friend.

Is there anything redeeming about this film? Anything at all? Well, I guess there’s small mercy in the fact that it’s the shortest film in the series. And on reflection, I guess there were a few moments that made me chuckle and the scene during the credits is actually funny but other than that, this movie is an irredeemable piece of shit that tarnishes an otherwise enjoyable if not always groundbreaking series. A half pint out of five. Fuck this movie.

No, seriously, fuck this fucking movie.



Review: The Big Wedding by Jamie

Oh boy. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Weddings! They’re a joyous occasion that bring people together to celebrate the love of two individuals! Or they’re a ridiculously outdated concept that go against the natural instincts of the human animal! Whichever way you slice it, I think we can all agree that weddings are a thing that exist. And because of their existence, Hollywood makes movies out of them. The wedding comedy is a cinema mainstay that will probably around as long as the ridiculous tradition itself. It makes sense. Weddings are big, meticulously planned affairs where strangers are forced to mingle and there’s a great deal of alcohol. Any number of things can go wrong. It’s perfect comedy fodder.

It’s because of the familiarity of the setting and an almost inborn understanding of the premise that so many wedding comedies get produced. These are movies that will play to the largest possible audience because everyone understands them. Also they can be produced relatively cheaply. This combination of cheap production and large audience draw means that these kinds of films are always guaranteed to make some kind of money. They don’t even need to be big box office smashes. They just need to exist.

And so we come to 2013s entry in the big wedding comedy genre titled, erm, “The Big Wedding”. Has it got stars? It’s got Robert De Niro! Susan Sarandon! Diane Keaton! Robin Williams is there also! And you know what? Everyone in this film does a perfectly fine job. No one is terrible, nobody sucks. Everybody does just fine. It’s just that when you get a big cast together, they really should have something great to work with. The Big Wedding leave them with nothing.

Well, not entirely nothing. You’re average wedding comedy is generally not excessively crude. It’s the kind of thing a woman, her grown up daughter and the grandmother can all enjoy together. The Big Wedding decides not to go that route. Within the first twenty minutes or so, Robert De Niro has nearly eaten out Susan Sarandon and called his ex-wife (Keaton) a cunt. Am I shocked by this kind of humour? No, of course not but you know who hates the word cunt? Particularly when it‘s being used to refer to a woman? My mum. And that’s the problem with this movie.

Who is the target audience? You can’t have sophomoric, sub-frat boy jokes based on curse words and cunnilingus and expect an older crowd that would be attracted by the casting of De Niro, Keating and Sarandon in a wedding comedy and expect them to enjoy it. You can’t have a wedding comedy and expect a bunch of young guys who might be more inclined to laugh at your crude humour to show up. This movie does not know what it wants to be who or it wants to appeal to and therefore it ends up appealing to nobody. It’s like an adult version of the Smurfs movie. No, I don’t mean it contains Smurf porn but in The Smurfs they made a movie about tiny, blue cartoon characters but included a subplot involving an ad-exec who’s not doing great at a job, has a pregnant wife and he’s not sure if he wants to actually have a baby or not. You know, the kinds of things kids love!

So yes, just who this movie is aimed at is a massive problem but then so is everything else. It’s the same old tired plot line we’ve seen a thousand times before from exactly these kinds of movies but with a thin layer of crude comedy painted on top to make it seem freh. There are two characters pretending to be married, parents disapproving of the groom, a girl who doesn’t get along with her father, a boy trying to lose his virginity. Everything is telegraphed and you know exactly from the opening few scenes just where this movie is going to go.

In conclusion, it’s like I said nobody is terrible in this movie but no one is exactly acting their socks off. It’s pretty clear that this is a pay check for everyone involved. I’ll admit that I chuckled here and there but that’s about it. I saw this at a pretty full screening and I can’t really think of any times when everyone laughed out loud. In fact, it was kind of weird just how quiet the audience remained throughout. There was definitely a bad atmosphere projected from the crowd toward the movie and it did end up feeling weirdly uncomfortable. I will say that I kind of enjoyed Topher Grace’s performance the most but that’s because he was basically playing a thirty year old version of Eric Foreman, his character from That 70s Show and I used to love that show growing up. Oh, and I did enjoy some of the humour about Catholicism but I’m a sucker for jokes about religion so take that with a grain of salt. Overall there’s just not that much to recommend though. One pint out of five. Laterz. And yeah, I know I didn’t do a synopsis. Do you really care what it’s about. If you do then just watch the trailer below and you have my pity.

Poster



TelePub: Zombieland Pilot by Jamie

The popularity of the Undead gained new unlife in 2004 with the double header of the ‘Dawn of the Dead’ remake and ‘Shaun of the Dead’. Yes, zombies as we know them had been shambling around since 1968 with the original ‘Night of the Living Dead’ and ‘28 Days Later’ had started the trend somewhat in 2002 but they weren’t even really zombies in that film so I’m not counting it. No, it was 2004 where zombies went viral and the world hasn’t really been the same since.

In 2009, already five years into this zombie resurrection, a little comedy film came out called ‘Zombieland’. Sure, it was no Shaun of the Dead but I for one enjoyed it and it had one of the best surprise cameos in all of film history.

It was a film that originally began life as a script for a pilot for a TV show about survivors of a Zombie Apocalypse seeking shelter in their devastated world. Well, it seems as though those small screen dreams are finally coming true as Amazon ordered a pilot, no doubt wanting to get into the scripted original content business like Netflix, and it’s now available to watch online completely free of charge. See, here’s the link for UK people who can watch it on Lovefilm even if you’re not subscribed to their service.

Of course, the question is, even if it is free your time is not. Should you spend that precious half hour watching a televisual internet adaptation of a movie that came out three years ago with a completely different cast playing characters from said movie. Well…

“It’s the tiniest bit funny.” This is a line spoken by Wichita (Maiara Walsh replacing Emma Stone) and I was tempted to use it to describe the show but honestly, that’s being a little bit too hard on it. I will say that the opening scene is one of the most god-awful attempts at comedy I have ever seen in my life. It involves two employees at an unspecified job discussing the bad morning one of them has had whilst the Zombie Apocalypse occurs through a window behind them. It’s awful and laced with profanity which, hey I’m all for, but you can tell when layering something with fucks is forced in an attempt to illicit humour and it just falls flat. It’s truly fucking abysmal.

Still things do pick up after this very, very lacklustre opening scene when we’re “reunited” with the characters from the first film. There the aforementioned Wichita, Little Rock (Izabela Vodovic replacing Abigail Breslin), Columbus (Tyler Ross replacing Jesse Eisenberg) and Tallahassee (Kirk Ward replacing Woody Harrelson). Kirk Ward probably comes off best here. Sure, he’s no Woody and no one ever will be, but Tallahassee is a fun character and though I disagree a little with the direction here, seeming to bring him to almost Homer Simpson levels of stupidity, I think that he’s probably be the easiest character to step into the shoes off and Ward is certainly likeable enough in the role. Perhaps the biggest loser in this is Tyler Ross who is doing something of a knock off of pre-‘Social Network’ Jesse Eisenberg which consequently makes him seem like a knock off of a knock off Michael Cera. It worked for Eisenberg because he’s at least good at that schtick. Tyler Ross, not so much.

Perhaps the biggest casualty of the shift to the small screen is the effects budget. In the opening sequence a plane crashes in the background and it looks like something someone might have made while pissing about with After Effects for the first time. And the zombies? Oooh, the zombies take a nasty leap down in quality from what we saw in the movie and from what we expect from television Zombies thanks to ‘The Walking Dead’. They just look like someone splashed a bit of fake blood on them and stuck a few plasticy scabs on. They are not good, is what I’m trying to say.

Still despite all there is bad to say about this, there could be something good in there. The humour in this pilot is certainly a little more slapstick than I remember the movie being but that’s not always bad. If it gets picked up, I’ll give the next episode a watch just to see since there’s also a chance that getting picked up could improve their budget a bit which would solve some criticisms. I will say that I’m annoyed that the show undoes the end of the film my having had Wichita and Columbus break up but I suppose you need some kind of conflict to keep the story going in a series and yeah, it makes sense. So this pilot, not so great but I can see the potential in it and would be willing to give it another chance if it made it to a full series. Two and a half out of five. Laterz.

Zombieland Cast



Review: Inseparable by Jamie

Every now and then you hear about a film that you just have to check out. For me, ‘Inseparable’ was one of those films. All I really knew about it was that it was a Chinese film that starred Kevin Spacey and featured superheroes somehow. Yes, Kevin Spacey dressed somewhat like Batman was more than enough to get me on board. I wasn’t really sure what to expect maybe just another run of the mill superhero flick with a Chinese flavour or perhaps an outright Chinese rip-off of ‘Kick Ass’ but I certainly wasn’t expecting the film I got.

Danny Wu stars as Li, a man who has suffered some recent tragedies and as a result he’s having some trouble with his marriage and at work. How bad are things going for Li? Well, let’s just say that the film opens with his attempted suicide which is cut short by the intervention of his ex-pat American neighbour Chuck (Kevin Spacey). Whilst Li is depressed and morose, Chuck is carefree and all about living life. He keeps a secret garden on the roof of their apartment building and enjoys fine, large cigars. He’s that kind of guy. Through his new found friendship with Chuck, Li begins to finally enjoy his life again and decides it’s time to do something good with his life.

Li’s wife Pang (Gong Beibi) is a news reporter and a recent undercover investigation that she had gone on revealed that a company which manufactured a folic acid supplement for pregnant women was doing so without actually putting the folic acid in it and so Li and Chuck don their superhero costumes and go to bring righteous justice upon them.

That’s all I’m really going to say about the plot because really, this is a film that I think you should see for yourself. The film is never really breaking any new ground in terms of what’s happening plot wise but it’s the way it delivers the action in a quirky, charming way that makes it a must-see. Besides, in the end the plot isn’t really what’s important here as you realise that this isn’t just some Kick Ass rip-off but rather an examination of the character of Li and just how deeply the tragedies in his life have effected him.

Perhaps the best part of the whole thing is Kevin Spacey. He’s here doing something which I sometimes think people forget he can do very well, playing cool, calm and collected. It’s something he’s definitely brought to Netflix’s ‘House of Cards’ and it’s something that’s on full glorious display here. It’s almost as though his character from ‘American Beauty’ survived and moved out to China. Hell, all of the actors do a great job which is particularly important in the terms of viewing this as a character study.

In summation Inseparable is a film that doesn’t bring anything particular original in terms of plot but brings a lot in terms of character and emotional depth. It manages to swing deftly from comedy, drama and even psychological thriller. It’s a little bit Kick Ass, a little bit ‘Fight Club’ and a little bit ‘He Was A Quiet Man‘ all wrapped up in a neat, quirky little package and I heartily recommend it to everyone, so grab yourself a copy and enjoy. Four pints out five. Laterz.

Inseparable



Review: The Incredible Burt Wonderstone by Jamie

There are certain movies out there that you can tell were written with a different actor in mind than the one they ended up with. Films like ‘Balls of Fury’ which stars Dan Fogler because they obviously couldn’t get Jack Black or ‘Oz the Great and Powerful’ being written for the invention of time travel so a young Bruce Campbell could have been cast as the lead. ‘The Incredible Burt Wonderstone’ may not be one of these movies but it sure as hell feels like it is.

Burt Wonderstone really, really feels like a second rate Will Ferrell character to the point where at times it even sounds as though Steve Carell is doing a half-arsed Ron Burgundy impression. And when I say a second rate Will Ferrell character I really mean that. I’m talking ‘Semi-Pro’ levels of comedy here. The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is not great, is what I’m saying.

Unfortunately Steve Carell really is the problem here. Most of the other characters in the film provide small bright spots of comedy here and there but the film seems to go through long stretches following Burt Wonderstone and nobody else. This doesn’t really help with the Will Ferrell comparison because it’s so incredibly blatant in scenes when Burt is by himself, talking to a throwaway character or complaining on his phone about how small his bed is.

Like I say the other characters do bring some funny moments here and there but they’re used so sparingly that you just end up feeling disappointed. There’s Steve Buscemi as Burt’s partner Anton who has a pretty good subplot wherein he visits poor, staving people in the third world and rather than food or clean water delivers the gift of magic. Jim Carrey occupies the villain role as a magician in the style of Criss Angel and he steals every scene playing something akin to a douchier version of Ace Ventura with a masochistic streak but you can’t tell if it’s because he’s actually being really good or everything around him is so lacklustre. Alan Arkin is pretty enjoyable as Burt’s role model but again he gets so little actual screen time that it feels like a bit of a wasted opportunity. Oh, and Olivia Wilde is there because Steve Carell’s character needs a woman twenty years younger than him as a romantic interest. Otherwise how would I know he’s successful?

Hell, honestly I could maybe even forgive a middling comedy if there were anything original about it but sadly there isn’t much here we haven’t seen before. It’s the story of someone famous for doing something but soon finds himself being replaced by someone younger and edgier coming along. He finds himself at the lowest he can possibly get until he decides to try one last time to pull himself out of the gutter and beat his rival. Will he succeed? Have you ever seen a movie before? So yeah it’s that plot and this time it’s with magicians.

Even the jokes are old, things we’ve seen a dozen times before. For example there is one scene where Burt and a groupie walk into a room with the promise of sexual acts about to take place. From outside the room we hear the groupie exclaim “It’s huge!” Cut to inside the bedroom and it reveals that she’s talking about the bed (Apparently it can sleep two dozen adults). Oh the hilarity!

I will give it a little credit as early on it shows Burt talking to the owner of a casino and being old he will only hire Burt if he drops Anton from the act. I thought ‘Oh great, it’s gonna be a film about two partner’s who separate because one gets greedy but then they realise they need each other and come back together.’ However Burt refuses and the casino owner relents and hires them both. ‘Oh,’ I thought ‘The film knew that’s what I was gonna think this was and cleverly fooled me. Maybe this will be something original after all! Great!’ and then it basically threw that in as a subplot later anyway. So yeah, thanks for tricking me movie.

Overall the movie is really just a meh. If you find yourself considering watching this I recommend watching a good Will Ferrell movie instead. You’ll be glad you did. One and a half pints out of five. Laterz.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone



Murder Week: Salvation Boulevard (2011) by Jamie

Quite by accident, I ended up watching a number of films that all seemed to revolve around the worst crime a human being can commit that doesn’t involve touching children in inappropriate ways. So I’ve decided that, hell, I might as well review ’em and make a theme week out of it. So yeah, murder. It’s something that humans are pretty good at. There are those out there that would say that humans are especially evil being the only species that kill their own kind. To that I’d say that Black Widow Spiders and Praying Mantises would have a number of arms to raise in objection to that. Hell, we’re not even the only species to go to war.

Still, there’s something which fascinates us about this darker side of human nature. The fascination with death is probably only second in the human psyche to our fascination with sex. It probably comes with being, as far as we know, the only species that is fully aware of our mortality. It’s why we created myths to ease the fear of death. The fact that we could comprehend that we were alive made it hard to accept that one day everything we were would come to an end, hence we came up with the idea of the afterlife. This idea was then taken by the ruling classes of several different societies and cultures in order to keep the peasants in line. Just work hard and do as you’re told in this life, and you’ll get rewarded in the next. Its Marx’s opiate of the masses, if you will. And so it is that we come to today’s film, Salivation Boulevard, a comedy-thriller-religious satire from 2011. Yeah, that’s right. All that build up was for the review of a little known comedy film. I’ll admit, the opening got away from me a bit there.

The most notable thing about this film is probably the cast. Pierce Brosnan, Greg Kinnear, Jennifer Connelly, Marissa Tomei, Ed Harris, Jim Gaffigan, Ciarán Hinds. Hell, that’s a fairly impressive list of pretty solid people. So how was it that this thing slipped through the cracks and ended up with a 21% rating on Rotten Tomatoes?

Well, to be fair, it’s just not that great of a film. To be fair I don’t think it’s really 21% bad but it could have done so much more with the premise. The basic set-up is that Pierce Brosnan plays Pastor Dan Day, the head of a Mega Church in a small town in Western America. He’s beloved by the community, in particular former Deadhead turned Christian Carl Vandermeer (Kinnear) and his wife Gwen (Connelly). The Mega Church that every obedient follower of the Lord could want, including a daycare centre with colouring books featuring Pastor Dan’s smiling face. Yes, the people of the town pretty much worship Dan as much as they do a 2000 year old Jewish Carpenter Zombie and the film isn’t particularly subtle about it, at least at first.

After Dan engages in a spirited debate with atheist Dr Paul Blaylock (Harris), he and Carl head back to the professor’s office for a night cap. One thing leads to another and the Pastor accidentally shoots Blaylock in the head. Fearing that the shooting will put his plans for a new Christian community that he plans to build in jeopardy, he tries to pass off the shooting as an attempted suicide whilst also trying to silence Carl. “Hilarity” ensues and all manner of madcap mix-ups and misunderstandings occur.

The main problem with the film is that it never quite balances its genres. It feels like it could have been a decent enough comedy about a man wrongly accused of a crime or a decent religious satire but in trying to combine the two, the final product is a bit of an unsatisfying mess. It’s the religious satire aspect, in particular, that really seems to suffer. It just never seems to go beyond the fairly obvious. Also I was a little disappointed that Pastor Dan actually seems to believe in the product he’s selling. Yes, he’s using that belief to gain and profit for himself but it’s pretty clear that he’s a believer himself and he suffers a great deal of guilt over what he’s done. Not enough to come clean but still, it tortures his religious soul. Personally, I feel it would have been better from a satirical viewpoint to have Dan simply pay lip service to Christianity in order to get what he wants. Sure, that might have been obvious too but it could have been a little more biting.

Perhaps the oddest thing in the whole film is Pierce Brosnan’s accent. It starts of as one thing and ends up something like an Australian accent and I honestly have no idea why. Honestly, it’s just bizarre. Why not just have him using his normal, British accent if he’s not going to play an American anyway? It’s possible it’s inspired by Australian Ken Hamm, director of the Creation Museum and a man whose choice of facial hair leaves him looking far more like a product of an evolutionary process he insists didn’t happen.

This man certainly didn’t evolve from apes…

So yeah, I kinda had high hopes for this film. The subject matter put it firmly in my wheel house and I thought that maybe it might be a nice little treasure that I could appreciate even if the critics didn’t but sadly I was disappointed. There were a few moments where I did laugh out loud and Kinnear puts in a great, believable performance as poor put-upon Carl but as a whole the movie just leaves you wishing it had been so much more. Two pints out of five. Laterz.




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