Truly enjoyable British romantic-comedies come along so rarely (Four Weddings and a Funeral was more than 20 years ago) that there's cause to celebrate this smart, likeable romp. Director Ben Palmer and writer Tess Morris never try to obscure the predictable plot, but they pack every scene with sharp characters, snappy dialogue and riotous set-pieces. As a result, we're laughing so much that we barely notice that we're also being reeled in emotionally.
The story centres on Nancy (Lake Bell), who is feeling particularly alone while travelling to London and a 40th anniversary party for her parents (Ken Stott and Harriet Walter). Whinging to her sister (Sharon Horgan) on the phone, she is challenged to be more spontaneous. So when she arrives at Waterloo Station and meets Jack (Simon Pegg), who mistakes her for his blind date, she decides to go along with it, assuming the identity of 24-year-old triathlete Jessica (Ophelia Lovibond). As the afternoon and evening roll out, Nancy and Jack get along surprisingly well until they run into both his bitter ex (Olivia Williams) and one of her old school friends (Kinnear), who sees this as his chance to win her over.
While there are plenty of farcical moments on this drunken night out, the filmmakers never play up the slapstick, acknowledging every over-the-top moment with an eye-roll and a pithy comment. Pegg and Bell are simply perfect for these roles: smart, witty, likeable people with questionable social skills. Both characters are a bit beaten down, but they're also open to what life throws at them, so the rather messy journey they take is thoroughly engaging. They also leave much of the crazier comedy to expert supporting players like Williams and especially Kinnear, whose character very nearly steals the movie with his goofy stalker-like antics.
Continue reading: Man Up Review
Tess Morris, Ben Palmer, James Biddle, Nira Park, Lake Bell and Rachel Prior - A variety of stars were photographed as they attended the premiere of 'Man Up' at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, New York, United States - Sunday 19th April 2015
This is the kind of British rom-com that sneaks up on you when you least expect it and leaves you with a huge smile on your face at the end. It's not particularly clever or sharp, but it's packed with terrific moments that grow on us. And the characters are particularly engaging, making far more of the film than its one-joke gimmick: fat man dances salsa.
Nick Frost plays Bruce, a chubby office worker who was a salsa champion as a child but turned his back on dance after some nasty bullying. Now he learns that his sexy new American boss Julia (Jones) is studying salsa herself, and her flirty manner suggests she might be interested, against the odds. Especially since swaggering office rival Drew (O'Dowd) is after her. So with the encouragement of his sister Sam (Colman), Bruce looks up his old mentor (McShane) and gets to work. His fellow lonely-hearts pals (Kinnear and Plester) think he's nuts, but encourage him. And he finds an unlikely ally in over-eager fellow dance student Bejan (Novak).
Both predictable and rather implausible, the plot certainly isn't what holds our attention here. It's the colourful people on-screen, each played to perfection by a gifted cast. Frost holds the film together with a lively performance that's surprisingly never played as a comedy of embarrassment (he can actually dance). Jones is clearly having a ball, even if generating any real chemistry with Frost eludes her, while Colman lights up the screen in a small role. And the shameless scene-stealers are O'Dowd, as a sleazy low-life straight from The Office, and especially Novak in one of those side-roles that becomes a comedy icon. We want to see a spin-off about him.
Continue reading: Cuban Fury Review
Claustrophobic and creepy, this experiment in contained horror has its moments as just three characters circle around each other. But the approach is almost infuriatingly vague, which eliminates any real suspense. Still, it's sharply well shot and played, with a moody atmosphere that builds a strong sense of uncertainty. And director Lovering is extremely adept at making us jump at something unexpected.
It all kicks off when Tom (De Caestecker) invites Lucy (Englert) to attend a Northern Irish music festival with him. They've only been dating for a couple of weeks, and he's hoping this weekend clinches the deal, so he books a night in a romantic, isolated hotel. But on the way they are thoroughly unnerved by locals in a pub as they get lost on country lanes that, of course, are outside mobile phone and GPS coverage. There's also the problem that the hotel's signs are sending them in circles, and as night falls they wonder if they'll ever get there. All of which badly strains their new relationship. Then they run into a young guy (Leech) in the middle of the road.
With only three actors in the cast, it helps that they're all experts at bringing out subtle layers of intensity in each scene. The film is a riot of stolen glances and verbal jabs. These are people who don't always react in the most helpful ways, and they even seem to surprise themselves with the self-centred things they do. But for Lovering this interaction doesn't seem to be enough, and he shifts the focus to the fact that there's something evil and menacing in the darkness and rain, abandoning the more interesting character tension for random violence.
Continue reading: In Fear Review
After Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Pegg and Wright conclude their so-called Cornetto Trilogy with yet another riotously inspired exploration of British culture: the pub crawl. And this time it's apocalyptic! But what makes the film thoroughly endearing is its focus on old friendships that are so well-played that we can't help but find ourselves on-screen even when things get very, very silly.
Pegg plays Gary, the ringleader of his band of school pals. It's been more than 20 years since their failed attempt to visit all 12 pubs in their hometown of Newton Haven. Now approaching 40, Gary hasn't grown up nearly as much as his friends, so it takes a bit of convincing to get the now-settled Andy, Ollie, Pete and Steve (Frost, Freeman, Marsan and Considine) to reunite for a renewed attempt to drink their way through town. Then after the first couple of pints, they start to suspect that something isn't quite right. People are behaving strangely, as if there are alien body snatchers taking over the town. So to avoid attracting attention, the boys just carry on getting blind drunk on their way to the 12th pub, The World's End.
As in the previous films, Pegg and Wright continue developing the characters and their inter-relationships even as everything falls apart around them. Sure, the end of the humanity seems to be upon them, but there's unfinished business between them that needs sorting out, and besides there are more pints to drink. Along the way, things are spiced up as they meet Ollie's sister Sam (Pike), who shocks Gary by refusing to pick up where they left off. They also encounter a former teacher (Brosnan), the town's crazy old man (Bradley) and a shady guy known as The Reverend (Smiley).
Continue reading: The World's End Review
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who star in the upcoming comedy 'The World's End', talk about the movie's director Edgar Wright in a short featurette. Producer Eric Fellner and stars Rosmund Pike, Paddy Considine and Eddie Marsan also offer their praise.
The cast and crew of 'The World's End', including producers Eric Fellner and Nira Park, director Edgar Wright and stars Paddy Considine and Rosamund Pike, praise lead actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost on their genuine on and offscreen chemistry in a featurette featuring clips of the stars from their movies together including 'Shaun of the Dead', 'Hot Fuzz', 'Paul' and the TV series 'Spaced'.
Even by Ben Wheatley's genre-busting standards, this film is a triumph, centring on comedy and romance in a road movie about two violent serial killers. After the terrific Down Terrace and Kill List, we probably should have expected as much, but this film exceeds expectations at every turn, keeping us laughing and cringing all the way to the fiendishly clever conclusion.
Tina (Lowe) defies her disapproving mother to go on a caravan holiday in northern England with her new boyfriend Chris (Oram). As they head through the picturesque Lake District and Yorkshire Dales, Tina is momentarily shocked when Chris runs down an annoying thug with their car. She decides it must be an accident, but as the body count grows she develops a taste for killing. Meanwhile, their relationship is going through the usual ups and downs as they struggle to live together in the confined quarters of their caravan while Tina's mum continues to pester them. So there are other things besides their homicidal urges that strain their romance.
Wheatley gives the film a cheerful tone that catches us off guard. It starts like a typical British black comedy, with sarcastic humour and romantic undercurrents. And the road trip takes in a series of dazzling landscapes, offbeat tourist attractions, picturesque campsites and even an adorable dog. So watching it merrily morph into something brutally murderous is both terrifying and funny. We begin to laugh nervously any time someone puts him or herself into their path, gasping at the possibilities and then staring dumfounded at where things go.
Continue reading: Sightseers Review
And while it's not that funny or coherent, it keeps us entertained.
On her way home in South London, trainee nurse Sam (Whittaker) is mugged by Moses (Boyega), who is then attacked by a small ape-like creature that has fallen from the sky. After killing it, Moses and his pals take it to the 19th floor flat of their drug dealer (Frost), who's working for the unstable mobster Hi-Hatz (Hunter). But things escalate from here, as an army of larger wolf-gorilla creatures with glowing teeth descend on the block. And Sam needs to team up with her tormenters and a local stoner (Treadaway) to fight them off.
Continue reading: Attack The Block Review
Graeme and Clive (Pegg and Frost) are sci-fi geeks who realise their dream to drive a Winnebago across the American Southwest visiting UFO hotspots to re-enact favourite movie and TV scenes. Then they stumble across an actual alien named Paul (voiced by Rogen as an Alf-style wisenheimer). They agree to help him get home, but are hotly pursued by a tenacious Man in Black (Bateman) and two X-Files agents (Hader and Lo Truglio). They are also joined by someone who's even more alien to them: devout one-eyed creationist Ruth (Wiig), who Paul calls a "God-bothering cyclops".
Continue reading: Paul Review
In Toronto, Scott (Cera) is a 22-year-old geek in a rock band. His bandmates (Webber, Pill and Simmons), sister (Kendrick) and flatmate (Culkin) tease him for dating a teenager (Wong), but she's the band's biggest fan. Then he meets Ramona (Winstead), who is literally his dream girl, and to win her hand he has to defeat her seven evil exes in outlandish battles. These include an action movie star (Evans) and a top music promoter (Schwartzman). And one (Routh) is member of a band fronted by Scott's own evil ex (Larson).
Continue reading: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Review
The filmmakers have returned, and corrected many of their mistakes. Hot Fuzz is not only hilariously funny, but every intelligent detail makes sense this time around, and the action is that much more engaging for what takes place because of it.
Continue reading: Hot Fuzz Review