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
Stephanie has always been a very intelligent girl and both her parents were joyous when she managed to get into Stanford University; wishing to catch up with their little girl over the holidays, Ned, Bard and their teenage son Scott all get in the car and travel to see Stephanie.
Stephanie is really happy to see her family and she can't wait to introduce them all to the new man in her life and their equally enthusiastic to meet him. All this changed quickly when they first manage to cast eyes on Stephanie's beloved. Laird Mayhew is a young billionaire who made his fortune through tech - though he clearly had a good business mind, Laird, is loud constantly swears and often shares WAY too much information.
Ned and Barb are far from taken with Laird even though their daughter confirms her love for him and explains that his heart is in the right place. Laird loves Stephanie and is eager to commit to his beau. In a bid to convince the Flemings that he is a suitable partner for his daughter, Laird begins wooing Barb and Scott. Ned on the other hand will not be won over as easily, he's convinced that Laird is completely wrong for his daughter and will go to extreme lengths to make sure Stephanie Fleming never becomes Mrs Mayhew.
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With virtually the same blend of wit and idiocy as the 2001 original, this fashion-scene comedy is funny enough to spark some solid laughter in between the gags that fall flat. The punchlines are simple and the characters paper thin, but this world is so ripe for parody that the rather awkward mix of in-jokes and satire can't help but hit the bullseye every now and then.
Things haven't been great for top supermodel Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) over the past 15 years. His reading school collapsed in tragedy, sending him to live as a "hermit crab" in the wilds of northern New Jersey. And with a facial injury, his cohort Hansel (Owen Wilson) has retired in the wasteland of Malibu. Then Italian designer Atoz (Kristen Wiig) summons them to Rome, just as Interpol agent Valentina (Penelope Cruz) is investigating a series of popstar murders that seem linked to Derek's past. Teaming up with Valentina, Derek and Hansel track down their old nemesis Mugatu (Will Ferrell), reconnect with Derek's long-lost son (Cyrus Arnold) and discover a sinister conspiracy.
Stiller directs the film as if it's the next instalment in the Da Vinci Code saga, complete with shadowy secret rituals and ominous chase sequences. But the dialogue remains utterly ludicrous, as this "ridiculously good-looking" duo go through their individual existential crises, clueless that the world has moved on without them. Stiller and Wilson reprise the hang-dog charm that made the characters so likeable the first time round. Although this time Derek gets some emotional depth, while Hansel plays the action hero. Ferrell and Wiig camp it up to the rafters in their colourful roles, while Cruz vamps through the film in bombshell love-interest mode. Her deadpan performance might actually be the funniest thing in the movie. And each scene is packed with big-star cameos, some of which are genuinely amusing.
Continue reading: Zoolander 2 Review
Much like Derek, Zoolander is a sweet simpleton of a movie. It's not complex in either its social commentary or its comedy, and it never produces any gut-busting laughs (except maybe a scene when Derek's model roommates all die in a tragic "gasoline fight" accident -- a riotously funny take-off of Tommy Hilfiger ads). But it has a satisfying handful of strong chuckles, wild characters and performances, and mildly harsh potshots at the fashion industry to keep you amused. Better yet, this exaggerated version of the original three-minute skit is only blown out to an efficient 95 minutes -- just enough time to string together its goofball plot without exhausting the gag.
Continue reading: Zoolander Review
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