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
A simple train journey can have incredibly far-reaching consequences. When Nancy (Lake Bell) meets Jessica (Ophelia Lovibond) on a train, she notices the book she is reading is designed to help with relationship success. Jessica tells her that the book itself is not to be leant, as she is using it to meet up with her blind date. Nancy steals the book, believing that it will work as a serious self-help guide, however she ends up running into Jack (Simon Pegg), who was Jessica's blind date. When Nancy chooses to pose as Jessica, she has the perfect date - only he doesn't know she's lying.
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After a disastrous mission in Mozambique, disgraced spy Johnny English (Atkinson) joined a Himalayan monastery. But MI7 boss Pegasus (Anderson) calls him back into service, and soon he stumbles into a nefarious plan to assassinate China's prime minister. But he's also of course causing havoc. Now the lead suspect, only the agency's sexy shrink Kate (Pike) and his sidekick Tucker (Kaluuya) still have faith in him. And as the murderous plot unfurls at a mountain-top Swiss hideaway, English makes a daring attempt to save the world and clear his name.
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After 12 years murdering men, women and children in the Crusades, Behman (Cage) and Felson (Perlman) have a crisis of conscience and desert the army. They end up in a remote town, where they agree to escort an accused witch (Foy) to a distant monastery that has the only incantation that can destroy her and halt the Black Death. They're accompanied by a resolute priest (Moore) and his sidekick (Thomsen), then joined by an altar boy (Sheehan) determined to become a knight. Of course the journey is fraught with surprises.
Continue reading: Season of the Witch Review
Robert Sheehan, Claire Foy, Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman, Stephen Campbell Moore and The Witch - Robert Sheehan, Stephen Campbell Moore, Claire Foy, Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman, New York City, USA - at the 'Season of the Witch' premiere at AMC Loews Theater Tuesday 4th January 2011
Names changed (get this) to protect the guilty, the whole mess breaks out when political revolutionary Michael X (Peter De Jersey) snaps some shots of Princess Margaret getting double teamed by two young men on a secluded island. Michael, in fact a pimp and a gangster, places this get-out-of-jail-free card in a safety deposit box at Lloyd's Bank on Baker Street. Adjoining boxes hold more blackmail bait for a brothel Madame, consisting of pictures of government officials getting their spank on, and a ledger of corrupt cops kept by local hood Vogel (David Suchet).
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Fortunately, thanks to the rambunctiously energetic performances and Nicholas Hynter's equally jaunty direction, The History Boys looks right at home on screen; what poses a larger problem is whether it will translate as fluidly from Britain to America.
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It's OK to have fun in your twenties, and in Bright Young Things, the characters have plenty of it. They attend lavish costume parties that scream of good times and well-funded debauchery, do cocaine like Rick James in 1979 and take trips to the countryside, all the while exchanging quips. At its best, the movie resembles a far more literate, sophisticated version of an episode of the E! True Hollywood Story.
Continue reading: Bright Young Things Review
"Bright Young Things" is a terribly witty romp through 1930s pre-war London with a pack of idle young swells who live scrumptious but superficial lives of joyous gossip-page decadence and complacent scandal that has the potential to ruin them.
Very cleverly adapted (from Evelyn Waugh's novel "Vile Bodies") and directed by the gifted comedic actor Stephen Fry ("Wilde," "Peter's Friends"), our surrogate in this world is Adam Symes (newcomer Stephen Campbell Moore), a well-connected but flat broke novelist and fringe member of this society who is railroaded into writing an anonymous gossip column about his pals -- although he's soon inventing entirely fictional members of the circle just to keep his readers amused.
An ironic failure at schemes to get rich quick so he can ask the "frantically bored" and beautiful but secretly vulnerable and melancholy Nina (subtly heartbreaking and simply wonderful Emily Mortimer) to marry him, Adam's fortunes -- which practically fluctuate with the tides -- are just one source of endless humor. But director Fry furtively hints at shades of compunction and misfortune under the film's carefree surface that bubble up as world events encroach on these lives of leisure, eventually taking the film to an unexpected level of empathy, nuance and humanity.
Continue reading: Bright Young Things Review