Call me bewitched but I found this really charming. It doesn’t waste any screen time (love how it introduces the “want to be normal” crisis right off the bat), and the many narrative states (on TV, in real-life, in a dream, in an alternative timeline, under a spell) put a unique twist on the typical romantic arc. Ferrell and Kidman are both engaging in their own way, and the side characters have their moments too (Nina especially: “We could electrocute him. There’s a ton of wires around here”).
When he finds out that his work superiors host a dinner celebrating the idiocy of their guests, a rising executive questions it when he’s invited, just as he befriends a man who would be the perfect guest. (IMDb)
Carell’s schuperb schmuck schtick (“I guess you could say I’m an eternal optometrist”) centers this film, contributing to its great odd couple comedy, driving its excruciating Murphy’s law plot (the brunch scene was a marvel of awkward horror), and providing hints of heart too. The potential inspirational message is botched in the messy pivotal dinner scene (Barry’s beautiful dream presentation was overshadowed by the dumb hi-jinx afterwards) but the reunion at Tim’s place was a nice recovery.
Maxwell Smart, a highly intellectual but bumbling spy working for the CONTROL agency, is tasked with preventing a terrorist attack from rival spy agency KAOS. (IMDb)
A few standout funny bits (I nearly cried laughing at that perfect in-tree cameo), a few standout not-funny bits (the fat jokes and xenophobia didn’t sit well), but mostly just a breezy and easily-consumable action comedy with a unique lead (Carrell’s dry delivery really works well with a character that’s sometimes the butt of the jokes, and sometimes making the jokes), good central odd-couple chemistry, and solid action sequences. Bonus points for the pacifist conflict resolve on the rooftop.
The story of Dick Cheney, an unassuming bureaucratic Washington insider, who quietly wielded immense power as Vice President to George W. Bush, reshaping the country and the globe in ways that we still feel today. (IMDb)
Loved the creativity on display here: the quasi-documentary style with its narration, freeze frames, and media footage (both real and created), the mischievous artistic flourishes including hilarious faux-end credits and a Shakespearean dialogue. That said, it hinders the biopic angle from achieving significant character depth, and conversely, the biopic scope (30+ years) and focus (one man) prevents the political docu-drama angle from having as significant an impact as the content warrants.
God contacts Congressman Evan Baxter and tells him to build an ark in preparation for a great flood. (IMDb)
The set-up’s predictable (yet another working dad neglecting his kids); the build-up is too (The Santa Clause, anyone?), but the plethora of biblical puns make it fun. The humor is mostly bland slapstick (Hill’s stalker Eugene aside) but Carell’s solid turn (the beard probably helped) as the guy God is seemingly screwing over gives the second act surprising dramatic credibility. Finally, though the CGI boat ride of the third act is cringe-worthy, its environmentalist slant is appreciable.
A veteran Vegas magician tries to revive his career after his longtime partner quits, he gets fired from his casino act, and an edgy new “street magician” steals his thunder. (IMDb)
Burt’s journey from innocent kid to arrogant/tragic adult and back (figuratively) is a little choppy and unfounded, but compelling, and offers decent comedy (see his hot-box antics, solo two-man trick) to go with a few sweet moments (see his magic show with Rance at the care home) and fun tricks (see the crazy climax). Buscemi’s oft-neglected Anton (see his third-wheel moment at the motel), Carrey’s hardcore rival magician, and Gandolfini’s self-absorbed hotel owner are fun secondary characters.
With the ’70s behind him, San Diego’s top-rated newsman, Ron Burgundy, returns to take New York’s first 24-hour news channel by storm. (IMDb)
The bad: A recycled rise-fall-redemption plot, flimsy satire, and a painful new-love-interest side plot (Good’s bad turn doesn’t help). The good: All the ridiculous comedy of the first film is pushed to eleven. The news team still offers loads of great humour (see Ferrell’s blind bit), with the unpredictability of the nonsensical Brick in particular coming fast and furious, just like the outrageous plot-gags (see the shark adoption; bat-shit crazy cameo-loaded everything-loaded final brawl).
Four outsiders in the world of high-finance who predicted the credit and housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s decide to take on the big banks for their lack of foresight and greed. (IMDb)
The financial jargon and drama is thick and constant, but phenomenally and entertainingly packaged: The editing sizzles with both comedic and dramatic potency (lots of abrupt scene cuts and charming pop culture potpourri), the script is both serious and snicker-worthy (4th-wall breaks and snarky narration lie alongside tense moral exploration), and the big three put their acting chops on full display through some fantastic characters (the eccentric Michael, fiery Mark, and douche-y Jared).
Alexander’s day begins with gum stuck in his hair, followed by more calamities. However, he finds little sympathy from his family and begins to wonder if bad things only happen to him, his mom, dad, brother and sister – who all find themselves living through their own terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. (IMDb)
Genuine and funny turns from Carrell and Garner lead this short and sweet family comedy with a refreshingly simple slapstick story that offers plenty of laugh out loud moments to go with a nice little heartwarming message about getting through tough times that’s rarely distasteful in its straight-forward delivery, although it is watered down a bit by the easy happy ending–but hey, it’s for the kids, and adults can still appreciate the authenticity of the “sometimes life is hard” aspect of it.
Ron Burgundy is San Diego’s top rated newsman in the male-dominated broadcasting of the ’70s, but that’s all about to change for Ron and his cronies when an ambitious woman is hired as a new anchor. (IMDb)
An unashamedly purely comedic endeavor; any deficiencies in film-making are pointless to talk about because every aspect of the movie exists entirely to generate laughs. Hilarious characters and dialogue (led by Ferrell’s boisterous Burgundy) and outrageous scenes of which only half contribute to the plot (see “Afternoon Delight” sing-along; violent news-team brawl) add to a continually running satire of male-centrism to produce a top-notch comedy that nails its humour scene after scene.
7.5/10 (Really Good)