Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the Parents so wildly popular, as this comedy pits two very different men against each other. And while it's never terribly clever, at least James Franco and Bryan Cranston are imaginatively cast as opposite forces. So audiences in search of escapism will find plenty to chuckle at as things spiral ludicrously out of control.
Cranston plays Ned, who travels with his wife Barb (the fabulous Megan Mullally) and teen son Scotty (Griffin Gluck) to Silicon Valley to spend the holidays with older daughter Steph (Zooey Deutch) and meet her boyfriend Laird (Franco). What they don't know is that Laird is an internet millionaire with absolutely no filter in how he interacts with people. Almost everything he says is inappropriate, and yet it's so honest that it's disarming. Still, Ned and Barb aren't too happy that their daughter is so serious about dating this guy. And with the help of his sidekick Gustav (Keegan-Michael Key), Laird goes completely over-the-top to impress them.
Much of the humour is of the gross-out variety, with the main running gag centring on an actual toilet. But at least the jokes aren't about embarrassment this time; they're about the clash between people who prefer to keep their true feelings bottled up inside and someone who can't help but be real, despite the fact that he shocks everyone he meets. This makes each person a little more complex than expected, and gives the actors some texture to work with, even though the script never bothers to even crack the surface. And while Cranston and Franco have more obvious comedy set-pieces to contend with, the film is stolen by Mullally and Key in roles that are more subtly hilarious and broadly amusing, respectively.
Continue reading: Why Him? Review
This sci-fi drama has an enjoyably brain-bending plot that leaves the audience almost stunned with the weight of its themes. It may be fiction, but the film's exploration of the power of language raises fascinating ideas about the human mind. It's also produced to an extremely high standard, with striking effects and sumptuous cinematography and editing. And as played by Amy Adams, the movie also carries a surprising emotional kick.
Adams plays linguistics expert Louise, who is asked by the American government to help decode the language of aliens who occupy gigantic monolithic ships that appear suddenly, floating over various locations around the globe. So she heads to the American site in Montana and begins working with scientist Ian (Jeremy Renner) under the watchful eye of Colonel Weber (Forrest Whitaker). And of course she's taken aback by these seven-legged creatures who communicate with odd tones and swirling symbols. When coordinated efforts with other teams around the world begin to descend into mistrust, everyone stops sharing their data, and the military leaders decide to take matters into their own hands and destroy the ships. But Louise begins to believe she is onto something important, and she tenaciously pursues a course of action that terrifies everyone, including her.
Expertly directed by Denis Villeneuve (Sicario), the film never lapses into sensationalistic action, and it's even more gripping as a result. Several scenes generate goosebumps for their inventive visual flourishes, including the surprising gravitational twists and the face-to-face interaction with two freaky but oddly endearing aliens Louise and Ian name Abbott and Costello. Special effects are seamless, grounding everything that happens as something eerily believable. But the emphasis is on the emotional drama surging within Louise, and the huge implications it has for the entire world.
Continue reading: Arrival Review
If there's one place were Owen Wilson feels at home, it's the 'Night At The Museum' set.
It's probably true when it comes to most family comedies that being involved is less stressful than a more serious drama, but Owen Wilson feels that doesn't ring more true than on the set of 'Night Of The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb'.
There may be a lot of chaos what with wild animals and cavemen running loose in London, but 'Night At The Museum' is a set that star Owen Wilson, who plays miniature cowboy Jedediah in the franchise, feels right at home on - mainly because of the stellar cast he has surrounding him. 'Working with Ben Stiller... we've worked together on a lot of things and for me it's just very familiar and very comfortable', he explains. 'And then Steve Coogan and Ben Stiller, that's who my scenes are usually always with... those guys just made me laugh.'
Now in its third instalment, it's clearer than ever that this franchise is based on one joke that has been stretched far beyond the breaking point. And not too cleverly at that. Fortunately, this movie retains much of the deranged idiocy that made the second part rather enjoyable. So it's watchable even if there aren't many new ideas, and even if filmmaker Shawn Levy is far too happy to settle for unnecessary digital effects work where a bit of character comedy would have been much more engaging.
Back on the job as a night watchman in New York, Larry (Ben Stiller) is now orchestrating the museum exhibits when they come to life to provide spectacular shows for visitors who think this is all a special effect. Even his boss (Ricky Gervais) isn't sure what's really going on. But when a glitch in the magical Ancient Egyptian powers causes chaos, Larry learns that he needs to travel to London so he can reunite Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek) with his father (Ben Kingsley), who's on display at the British Museum. Larry's teen son Nick (Skyler Gisondo) comes along, as do his revived pals Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), tiny soldiers Octavius and Jedediah (Steve Coogan and Owen Wilson) and others. But in London, while sneaking around local night guard Tilly (Rebel Wilson), Larry's team awakens a statue of the knight Lancelot (Dan Stevens), who dives into their quest with rather a bit too much gusto.
Until Lancelot turns up, everything about the film feels oddly tired, from the starry cameos to effects work that strains to be clever. Then Stevens injects a badly needed jolt of blue-eyed charisma and warped comical timing that makes the rest of the movie rather good fun. Rebel Wilson's side-plot is also rather amusing, with some wonderfully ridiculous touches. And even the cameos get better, notably a scene on a West End stage that's genuinely inspired silliness. Coogan and Wilson offer some raucous banter to accompany everything that happens, and Stiller kind of hangs on for dear life. But the filmmakers don't really care about these characters; they're just trying to create something visually impressive that's also goofy fun.
Continue reading: Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb Review
The cast of 'Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb' all posed happily together at the New York premiere of the film, which is set to hit movie theaters on December 19th 2014.
Shawn Levy, Serena Levy, Sophie Levy, Tess Levy and friend - The European premiere of 'Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb' held at the Empire Leicester Square - Arrivals at Empire Leicester Square - London, United Kingdom - Monday 15th December 2014
Ricky Gervais, who plays Dr. McPhee in 'Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb', arrived at the New York premiere with partner Jane Fallon, fooling around with the photographers, cracking jokes and taking selfies.
Ben Stiller, Shawn Levy and Owen Wilson - Shots from the press conference for the movie 'Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb' The Press Conference was attended by stars of the film such as Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Ricky Gervais in New York City, New York, United States - Friday 12th December 2014
Larry Daley, the former security guard at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, is facing his biggest challenge yet. While he's used his exhibit friends coming to life at night, they are normally very well-behaved during the new sunset opening hours, but it seems something's started making them a little crazy. The magic of The Tablet of Ahkmenrah seems to be waning, putting them at risk of being still forever. Larry must find a way to restore the tablet before it's too late, and so he decides to venture to the Natural History Museum in London to find out how to fix it. There, Larry and his ancient friends face enormous snakes, dinosaur skeletons and bronze lions that are all coming to life, as well as the feisty head of security Tilly.
A sparky ensemble helps make this film entertaining even if the plot is simplistic and the themes very tame for a movie that is trying so hard to be anarchic. August: Osage County this isn't! Instead, it blends warm comedy, silly slapstick and a heavy dose of sentiment to tell a story that's engaging but never remotely surprising. But the terrific cast makes it well worth a look.
It opens as Judd (Jason Bateman) sees his life go from bad to worse: he catches his wife (Abigail Spencer) in bed with his boss (Dax Shepard), then learns that his father has died. Back home for the funeral, his mother (Jane Fonda) announces that she wants Judd to sit shiva, seven days of mourning, with his three estranged siblings: frazzled housewife Wendy (Tina Fey), frustrated Paul (Corey Stoll) and party boy Phillip (Adam Driver). Everyone in this family is dealing with relationship issues, so they all get involved in each others' lives again, even though none of them likes to talk about these things (except their hilariously over-sharing mother). So as Judd and Wendy reconnect with old flames (Rose Byrne and Timothy Olyphant, respectively), Paul and Phillip have to clarify things with their partners (Kathryn Hahn and Connie Britton).
Each of the various subplots touches on a big issue, although Jonathan Tropper's script never digs too deeply, relying on superficial comedy and simplistic emotion rather than anything too provocative. This is an odd approach for a film that is essentially trying to say that life is messy. Even the funeral and grieving are used more for laughs than emotion, as are old rivalries and perceived betrayals. Much of the brawling, insulting and teasing is genuinely funny, but only because the cast members have so much fun with it all. Bateman offers his usual likeable everyman, generating terrific chemistry with Fey, Stoll and Driver, as well as some jagged wit in his scenes with the always superb Byrne. And Fonda steals the show as an unapologetic woman who says the wrong thing at just the right time.
Continue reading: This Is Where I Leave You Review
There's nothing wrong with this bright and goofy family comedy, but there's nothing much to it either. As a bit of mindless entertainment, the film is smart and funny enough to keep audiences entertained, spinning a swirling vortex of bad luck and wacky slapstick around one lively family. But it's utterly weightless, without even a hint of an edge, and anyone who loathes either nutty physical gags or sappy sentimentality should steer well clear.
Everyone in the audience can understand how Alexander (Ed Oxenbould) feels: he's fed up with the fact that no one notices that his life is just one humiliation after another, so on his 12th birthday he wishes that his family would have a taste of his misfortune. Sure enough, everything that can go wrong does. Dad Ben (Steve Carell) has to take the baby with him to an important job interview; mom Kelly (Jennifer Garner) has a work event go horribly wrong; teen brother Anthony (Dylan Minnette) struggles to make prom night special for his demanding-diva girlfriend (Bella Thorne); and middle sister Emile (Kerris Dorsey) gets ill on opening night of the school play she's starring in. On the other hand, Alexander's day isn't so bad, as he finally catches the eye of cute girl Becky (Sidney Fullmer).
The plot is laid out as a series of minor calamities that escalate to crazed proportions as the day goes on, but only until the screenwriter decides to have mercy on the characters and let them bond to face the mayhem. Frankly, this is such a wildly happy family that nothing about the film is believable: their problems exist strictly for laughs. Thankful, most of the set pieces are genuinely funny due to the up-for-it actors, who make the most of their characters and the connections between them. There's also a terrific stream of cameo roles for comedy aces like Megan Mullally (Will & Grace), Jennifer Coolidge (American Pie) and Donald Glover (Parks and Recreation). Dick Van Dyke even makes a witty appearance as himself.
Continue reading: Alexander And The Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day Review
Following on from the discovery that New York Natural History Museum's exhibits come to life after dark, security guard Larry Daley (Ben Stiller) is faced with a new problem. After confronting the curator, Dr. McPhee (Ricky Gervais), about the exhibits steadily losing consciousness, Daley and friends must travel to England to try to restore power to The Tablet of Ahkmenrah - the ancient artefact that grants life to the museum. In an adventure which spans the globe, Daley and company must meet up with new characters in an attempt to restore the magic before the figures lives end permanently.
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