Following a ghost invasion of Manhattan, paranormal enthusiasts Erin Gilbert and Abby Yates, nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann, and subway worker Patty Tolan band together to stop the otherworldly threat. (IMDb)
It’s mediocre, thanks to writing that’s often awkward and contrived and a plot that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense (especially in the final act–where did the villain get these powers all of a sudden?). That’s probably half due to the campy concept though, and the film with its solid main quartet does well at matching it with a goofy-fun vibe throughout that’s enjoyable even when the jokes don’t land (Jillian’s lip-syncing and Kevin’s interview are bits that definitely do though-I lol’d).
When Lee Israel falls out of step with current tastes, she turns her art form to deception. An adaptation of the memoir Can You Ever Forgive Me?, the true story of best-selling celebrity biographer Lee Israel. (IMDb)
Stellar performances and strong writing/direction present a refreshing blend of subtly unique outsider characters (Lee and Jack have great chemistry-just wish there was another dialogue with Anna), fringe city settings (dilapidated apartments, smoky bars, dusty bookstores), and–with equal parts humour and tragedy–themes of loneliness, poverty, and the search for happiness (see Lee enjoying the music at the pub). The courtroom climax is a bit contrived, but the bar reunion afterwards is perfect.
After her husband abruptly asks for a divorce, a middle-aged mother returns to college in order to complete her degree. (IMDb)
Much of the comedy is cringe-worthy, and save for that first oral presentation scene, in a bad way (the stereotypical mean girls are just awfully written and acted), but there’s a few hilarious bits (see the mediator meeting) and instead of the expected mom-embarrassing daughter plot it’s actually mostly an appreciable (if cheesy) thematic script about female friendship and mutual empowerment that strikes some good chords, save for the early makeover scene (be yourself! Just not with that hair).
Competition between the maid of honor and a bridesmaid, over who is the bride’s best friend, threatens to upend the life of an out-of-work pastry chef. (IMDb)
The actual bridesmaids scenes are outrageously funny (see the shit-storm in the bridal boutique) thanks to some crazy characters (McCarthy’s Megan is a riot) and excellent cast chemistry (Wiig and Byrne’s rival friends especially; see their competing speeches) but it’s the surprising character work on the goofy yet melancholy Annie (Wiig is perfect; see her cop drive-bys) that elevates this comedy to another level, injecting some nice bits of drama and romance (O’Dowd is adorable) into the mix.
A desk-bound CIA analyst volunteers to go undercover to infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer, and prevent diabolical global disaster. (IMDb)
A forgettable plot is saved by its fresh and funny characters that subvert the spy genre’s typical line-up by poking fun at the alpha male (Statham’s satire is gold–see his hilarious boat farewell) and putting the females at the forefront, with Byrne as the ridiculous villain and McCarthy (still with her usual arsenal of great vulgar one-liners) as the unassuming desk worker who’s actually super smart and bad-ass. Surprisingly awesome action is also notable (see Susan’s kitchen fight with Lia).
After losing her job and learning that her husband has been unfaithful, a woman hits the road with her profane, hard-drinking grandmother. (IMDb)
McCarthy is the only highlight here; her trademark blend of self-deprecating slapstick and decidedly “unfeminine” and unaware mannerisms produces lots of laughs throughout. Elsewhere, Sarandon is awfully awkward and forms a terribly miscast three generations of women with Janney and McCarthy. The rest of the oddly stacked cast flounders amidst the film’s weak attempt at being a romantic dramedy, with its contrived storylines and insubstantial characters. Some good comedy here but not much else.
The “unlikely friendship” story here lends itself to predictability, and even some specifics of its climax are telegraphed in an early scene thanks to its title, but it remained powerful in its message and emotional pull (I bawled), largely thanks to Murray’s wonderful performance as Vincent- a well-written character that adds some unexpected grit to the film by going beyond the cliche grumpy but loveable old man. Watts and Lieberhe are also good in this predictable but poignant and funny film.
7.5/10 (Really Good)