Hello and welcome to Day Eight of “Binky International Film Festival“! I can’t believe we actually made it to Day Eight, I thought I was going to be done with this in a week. How wrong can I be. 🙂 And I really hope you are enjoying this series as much as I do. I don’t know if I’m going to make this an annual event yet, but I’m considering it. This was so much fun for me to do, even as I’m battling the flu. Didn’t mean that to rhyme.
Anyway. Today we are going to take a look at some great and not-so-great 2011 comedies with the genre “Laugh It Up”. I love drama as much as the next girl, but my first love will always be comedy. Life is no trip for me, and sometimes I just want to forget my troubles and laugh without any inhibition. As Oscar Wilde once said, “Life is far too important a thing to be taken seriously.” That being said, let’s all take a look at this year’s comedies!
“Laugh It Up“
30 Minutes Or Less
Opening Weekend: August 12, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 83 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Michael Diliberti. Story by Michael Diliberti & Matthew Sullivan
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride, Nick Swardson, etc
I usually love slacker comedies, and I always love Jesse Eisenberg, but for some reason I couldn’t really connect with this one. I don’t know why, I guess it’s just really not that funny. Which is a shame because Aziz Ansari is hilarious in Parks and Recreation – and here he’s just kind of meh. Jesse Eisenberg still plays up the old nervous, neurotic schtick but it doesn’t really work here. He’s funny when he’s neurotic when there’s no reason to be. But having a bomb strapped to his chest kind of defeats the purpose. This falls in the “not-so-great” comedy of 2011 for the unmemorable-ness of it all.
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Opening Weekend: July 8, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 98 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Seth Gordon & Michael Markowitz, John Francis Daley, Jonathan Goldberg. Story by Michael Markowitz
Stars: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell, etc
Who knew that little Sam Weir from Freaks and Geeks who later grew up to be cutie Dr. Sweets in Bones would actually be multi-talented as well as easy on the eyes? He wrote this hilarious summer comedy and judging from the box office earnings, and the fact that my brother-in-law scream giggled his way through the movie, Horrible Bosses definitely falls in the pretty great comedy category. All three leads: Bateman, Sudeikis and Day were simply fantastic, backed by a strong supporting cast (which includes Jennifer Aniston! She’s been in the tabloids so much we’ve forgotten she can be funny. Welcome back, Jen Aniston), and laugh out loud lines – this movie is the 2011 comedy you shouldn’t miss. So get to the DVD store (or Netflix) before the year is over!
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Take Me Home Tonight
Opening Weekend: March 4, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 97 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Michael Dowse & Jackie Filgo, Jeff Filgo. Story by Topher Grace & Gordon Kaywin
Stars: Topher Grace, Anna Farris, Chris Pratt, Dan Fogler, etc
Critics weren’t so kind with this set-in-the-80s sorta coming of age comedy, but I actually didn’t think it was that bad. It’s not “oh my god this is the greatest thing ever” good but it’s watchable, and it has some really funny parts too. Topher Grace, like Jesse Eisenberg, always nails the nervous, neurotic pasty white guy role, and he’s in his element in this movie. Anna Farris, as always, shows why she’s probably the most underrated comedic actress of the year. And Chris Pratt, her real life husband, plays her jerk (but loving) fiance so perfectly. The story, however, is just so-so and follows the typical “staying up all night” comedy formula, which makes the movie predictable and boring in some parts. But hey, if you have nothing to do on a weekend, there’s no harm in trying this movie out.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Opening Weekend: March 18, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 104 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Greg Mottola & Simon Pegg, Nick Frost.
Stars: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jason Bateman, etc
This is quite possibly, my favorite comedy of 2011 (along with Bridesmaids), and sadly not many people saw this movie. Maybe it’s because the title is just too vague, or maybe because Americans aren’t as familiar with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as the Brits do, or maybe because of lack of promotion – in any case, it was criminally ignored and I wish to rectify that. Go get Paul on DVD because, even if you’re not a sci-fi geek and you’re not into aliens, it’s still laugh out loud funny. Because Pegg and Frost are always brilliant together, and adding Seth Rogen as the politically incorrect alien, Kristen Wiig as the glass-eyed daughter of Bible-thumpin’ trailer park owner, Jason Bateman and Bill Hader as hapless FBI agents make this movie an insanely funny movie that everyone should watch. So watch Paul. You won’t regret it.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Opening Weekend: April 8, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 110 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): Jason Winer, Peter Baynham. Story by Steve Gordon
Stars: Russell Brand, Helen Mirren, Greta Gerwig, Jennifer Garner
Speaking of British imports, Russell Brand may be the one that most international public are familiar with. There’s that whole schtick with the Jonas Brothers a few years ago, and then he married pop star Katy Perry (though rumor has it they’re “having troubles and spending time apart” so who knows how long they’ll last — UPDATE 12/30: Brand just filed for divorce), which made him a household name in both sides of the Atlantic. But that doesn’t mean that all his movies are successful. In fact, in the case of Arthur, it’s kind of a dud. It’s tricky to remake a classic, and it’s even trickier to remake a classic with a comedian like Brandt, who has a polarizing effect on the public. That’s not to say that Arthur is all bad, it has it moments. Sadly, there aren’t a lot of those. However, the soundtrack, produced by Mark Ronson and featuring Ben Gibbard, Daniel Merriwhether and Fitz and The Tantrums, is definitely worth listening to. 😉
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Opening Weekend: April 8, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 102 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): David Gordon Green & Danny McBride, Ben Best
Stars: Danny McBride, James Franco, Natalie Portman, Zooey Deschanel, Justin Theroux, etc
This movie seems to have sparked only two reactions: love and loathe. For example, David Edelstein, NY Magazine’s resident film critic loves it. But then a lot of people hate it too. I usually don’t agree with Edelstein (he hates The Dark Knight and Inception, and calls Drive “overrated”) but for some weird reason he and I are in agreement about this one movie. I actually like Your Highness. It’s a screwball comedy done right, I think, and Justin Theroux, who is much much more than just Jen Aniston’s boytoy du jour, is simply delicious as the villain. Is this movie crass? Absolutely. Does it have a coherent plot? Not so much. But is it funny? Yes. Both Portman and Deschanel were delightful, McBride was hilarious and James Franco once again is a delight in his clueless Pineapple Express-y comedic way. I thought it was a fun watch.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Opening Weekend: August 5, 2011
Approx. Running Time: 112 min
Director & Screenwriter(s): David Dobkin & Jon Lucas, Scott Moore
Stars: Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Olivia Wilde, Leslie Mann, etc
This is another comedy in this list that critics seem to hate, and I don’t exactly fault them. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate this movie, but I understand completely why they did. The problem isn’t in the premise, tired as it may seem this whole Freaky Friday body-swapping thing, nor the actors – both Bateman and Reynolds know how to bring the funny and Mann and Wilde are great sidekicks, but it’s in the fact that the movie tries just a little too hard to be funny. It’s like watching a stand up comedian who’s nervous and tries too hard to make people laugh that he resorts to slipping on a banana peel, when all he needs to do is just tell the jokes and he might actually get some sincere laughs. That’s kinda how this movie feels. It could’ve been actually enjoyable and funny, but it just tries too hard to be and it ends up being not that funny. Shame, really, because it really does have the potential but it just can’t quite get there.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
And that concludes Day Eight of Binky International Film Festival. We only have two more days to go, you guys! I really hope I can finish on New Year’s Eve, but you’ll have to blame Downton Abbey if I don’t because I am still busy devouring both seasons right now. 😉 Don’t worry, I kid. Not about Downton Abbey. We’ll get to Day 10 on the 31st, I promise. But check back in tomorrow, on Day Nine we’ll take a look at this new genre I just invented: “Romance That Makes Me Want To Stick A Fork In My Eye”. I know, it’s a mouthful. But it should be fun, so I’ll see you back here tomorrow!