More than just a misfire, this attempt at a rude comedy goes so spectacularly wrong that it actually contradicts its own jokes even as it's telling them. But then it undermines everything as it goes along, for example indulging rampantly in comical cruelty before trying to say something meaningful about the dangers of bullying. The real question is how the cast members could have agreed to make a movie in which they all come across as incoherent idiots.
The story opens as Dan (Vince Vaughn) clashes with his boss Chuck (Sienna Miller) then quits dramatically, taking newly retired Tim (Tom Wilkinson) and airhead newbie Mike (Dave Franco) with him to start a new sales company. But after a year, business isn't good, and the future hinges on making a massive deal with Bill and Jim (Nick Frost and James Marsden). The problem is that Chuck is also bidding for the business, so Dan, Tim and Mike fly off to Maine and then Berlin to seal the deal with a handshake. Impossibly they arrive in Berlin at the same time as Oktoberfest, the marathon, a gay S&M festival and the G8 Summit, with its accompanying anarchist protest. Meanwhile back home, Dan's wife (June Diane Raphael) is having problems with the kids.
Frankly, there is so much going on in this film that it's exhausting. It's as if screenwriter Conrad just threw everything he could think of onto the page and didn't worry if it made even a lick of sense. Every scene feels interrupted by a bit of random chaos that isn't remotely amusing. And despite making a movie that's obsessed with sex, the filmmakers are unable to decide whether they want to make fun of it or are terrified of it (so they end up being both at the same time). Each time something interesting or funny threatens to happen, it's sideswiped by something so breathtakingly bungled that we don't know where to look.
Continue reading: Unfinished Business Review
Little more than a paint-by-numbers action thriller, it's anyone's guess why the filmmakers have bothered to make a connection with the 1980s TV series of the same name. Because this film bears almost no resemblance to it. Instead, this is a reunion of Denzel Washington and Antoine Fuqua, who last collaborated on the Oscar-winning Training Day. And since it's packed with brutal violence and questionable morality, that's clearly where this movie's roots truly lie.
Washington stars as Robert, a meek shelf-stacker at a DIY warehouse store in Boston. He can't sleep at night, so he heads to the local diner to read classic novels. That's where he meets Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz), a teen hooker who is having problems with her psychotic Russian pimp (David Meunier). Ever so quietly, and clearly relying on some external source of income, Robert goes about helping Teri secure a free future. But when he offers to settle her debts, the pimp and his thugs just laugh at him. So Robert mercilessly kills them all, drawing on his secret past as a black-ops agent. The problem is that this puts Robert at odds with the top Russian boss Teddy (Marton Csokas), who heads to Boston to get even.
In standard action movie tradition, Robert works his way right through the entire Russian mob, along the way cleaning up Boston's corrupt police force before the requisite final confrontation. His only distraction is a brief visit to his old CIA boss (Melissa Leo) and her husband (Bill Pullman) for a bit of moral support and added starry cameo value. Yes, there isn't much about this movie that doesn't feel concocted for the box office, which means that the story is both achingly predictable and littered with gaping plot-holes. And with Washington in the focal role, everyone else fades into the woodwork. Moretz is excellent but badly underused, while Csokas is never given much to do with his one-note villain.
Continue reading: The Equalizer Review
Although it presents itself as a rude sex comedy, this movie is actually a prudish exercise in simplistic moralising. A glut of sweary dialog and leery innuendo is certainly no replacement for properly adult-oriented humour. At least Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel are relatively reliable as actors who can keep their characters likeable, but even they struggle with the trite material. And as a cowriter, Segel only has himself to blame.
Diaz and Segel play Annie and Jay, a couple whose courtship consisted mainly of having lots of sex in as many unusual places as they could think of. So it's hardly surprising that marriage and parenthood feel like a disappointment. They never have time for sex now, so when Annie's blog improbably wins a lucrative publishing deal, they celebrate by leaving the kids with the grandparents for a sexy night on their own. To get things going, they decide to film themselves on their iPad, oblivious to the fact that the video is synchronised to all of the iPads they've given to their family, friends and clients over the last few months. So now they're in a mad dash to find them all and delete their sex tape.
Honestly, does anyone actually give iPads to everyone they know? This is such a naggingly stupid premise that it leaves everything that happens feeling utterly inane, especially their contrived ignorance about how the Cloud works. Diaz and Segel bring enough charm to the film to keep the audience watching, playing even the lamest jokes as if they're hilarious. And as they race between their friends and family members, each side actor gets their cameo-style moment in which they can try to steal the show. Although even here director Jake Kasdan (Bad Teacher) hedges away from the genuine gross-out comedy, which leaves first-rate comical performers like Corddry, Lowe and Black looking a bit lost.
Continue reading: Sex Tape Review
The story starts when Kay (Streep) finally refuses to accept her dried-up marriage to Arnold (Jones), who can't see any reason to change things. She enrols them in an intensive counselling session in Hope Springs, Maine, with a well-known therapist (Carell), and after initially refusing to go, Arnold tags along. Their sessions immediately hone in on their nonexistent sex life, which causes both Kay and Arnold to squirm in their seats (and provides most of the laughs for the audience). And their small-step exercises aren't exactly a roaring success. But Kay is determined that she wants a real relationship or nothing at all.
Continue reading: Hope Springs Review