JUMPSCARECUT: Ghostbusters: Answer The Call (2016)

Year: 2016
Directed by: Paul Feig
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones, Chris Hemsworth

Written by Chris Gelderd

When unexplained sightings of ghosts start to come to light in New York City, former authors and scientists Erin Gilbert (Wiig) and Abby Yates (McCarthy) come together after being distant for many years to investigate the sightings.

With help from nuclear engineer Jillian Holtzmann (McKinnon) and subway worker Patty (Jones), the quartet form a business that aim to research and prove the existence of ghosts whilst keeping people safe. They hire dim-witted receptionist Kevin (Hemsworth) and form the ‘Ghostbusters’, kitted out with Holtzmann’s equipment, a new car provided by Patty’s uncle and Erin and Abby’s knowledge of the paranormal.

They discover that a seemingly normal man, Rowan North (Casey), is behind the spooky goings-on as he uses devices to amplify paranormal activity in a wider plan to destroy Manhattan to satisfy his own deranged hatred of humanity. Only the Ghostbusters can stop him before it is too late, and also before they are deemed frauds by the Mayor (Garcia)…

Never has a remake of an 80s classic gained so much fear, scrutiny, and doubt than ‘Ghostbusters’. We’ve had ‘The Karate Kid’, ‘RoboCop’, ‘Conan The Barbarian’ and even ‘Annie’ but this is off the chart. It’s not surprising given the cultural significance of the family-friendly 1984 original populated with now iconic genre moments, characters and showcasing the talent of actors at the top of their game. Films like the original come along once in a generation, such as ‘Back To The Future’ and even ‘The Terminator’. They are a product that just should not be touched.

And this effort by Paul Feig shows why.

Firstly, to not like this film doesn’t make me racist, sexist or any other ‘–ist’ you can think of. If anything, I’m a Paul-Feig-Comedy-ist. Populated with actors with little acting experience bar work on ‘Saturday Night Live’ and those who are Paul Feig’s usual suspects, this feels like a film where Feig and crew have a goal to reach but can be silly and stupid along the way as long as they reach the end credits. It’s that untouchable bond between cast and crew that doesn’t always work in delivering something worthy to stand by its predecessor.

Melissa McCarthy, surprisingly, is probably least irritating out of the 4 leading ladies and she comes across as most humane of them all. Kristen Wiig continues her style of comedy where she narrates and makes overly unnecessary comments and quips about people or situations which gets old very quick. Kate McKinnon, whom I thought would be the best, turns out to be the worst with an annoying amount of over-played “wacky scientist” characterisation that comes across as nothing but childish. And Leslie Jones, while thankfully not as loud and in your face as the trailers made out, has her moments to shine but still plays a very uninspiring character. In fact, all characters are what you get initially on introductions; they don’t change, develop or progress from start to end. You have to take two acceptable characters to follow at the same time as following two irritating ones, which never makes for total satisfaction in viewing.

It’s actually Chris Hemsworth who comes off ok here, granted he’s playing a man who is dense to the point it’s too OTT at times, but I was chuckling along the lines of how absurd his character Kevin was and what his role was even relevant for except more silly gags, a point of lust for Erin and to use in the finale.

And the actors are fuelled by one thing I don’t sit well with – the comedy. Modern comedy, or that comedy that Paul Feig injected into work like ‘Bridesmaids’ or ‘Spy’, is evident here. The film sucker punches you in the opening spooky 5 minutes where you have some wit in the script and you think you’re on safe ground; we even have the classic opening theme in short bursts, but then the “crude humour” that gained the film’s certification hits you.

Jokes and gags about wee and poo and sex and parts of the female anatomy. That’s when my expectations crashed and burned. If that sort of thing amuses you, along with characters who throw in racial quips, shout and do silly gurning and pratfalls in what I consider amateurish, lazy comedy, then you’ll be ok. If you prefer more discreet comedy and humour coming from character chemistry, serious delivery and an time when being crude wasn’t needed, then you’ll struggle to find this amusing.

Production-wise, it’s decent enough. It delivers a few moments that make you jump but if you’ve seen the trailers, you know when to expect them, and it’s always moments when the music goes quiet and then the sound is cranked up with loud piercing scream and exclamation. It’s not exactly discreet, but it’s there. And we have a wealth of locations across Manhatten to explore and plenty of energy from the leads to carry us through the 2hr story. The Ghostbusters certainly kick ghostly ass with a variety of gadgets and gizmos to add more action and excitement to the demand for bigger and better action scenes.

Nods to the 1984 original come thick and fast, and it shows that even though this is a reboot of the franchise, it can’t help remake the original bar a few character replacements. It shows to me there is no confidence in rebooting a series to be more original and just serves as a silly love-letter to the original from shoe-horning in short but amusing cameos from nearly all the main cast, showing us the firehouse, revamping ECTO-1, introducing Slimer and his girlfriend (ugh), keeping the proton packs and traps, and pretty much doing the same story but tweaked. From the opening pre-titles to the large, white monster in the finale, it’s a checklist of “spot the homage” in a film that doesn’t know what it wants to be.

But where the film most is the CGI. All the ghosts look like something from a computer game or an episode of Scooby-Doo. Colourful, crisp and cartoonish. A few work, most not and there is very little realism to them if anything. At least the original had effective model work and make-up on actors to give us something that resembled a human or monster, rather than just a colourful CGI creature. And it’s over-used in the finale where again, Feig abuses what he can do with CGI and delivers a tension free, action-heavy battle in front of green-screen that goes for excess rather than simplicity. No model/actor-in-costume/camera manipulation here like the iconic Stay Puft Marshmallow Man – we have a CGI Godzilla style creature destroying the CGI city like all modern blockbuster films have their villain doing now. Yawn.

If I’d have known the humour would be this crass and lazy, I’d have not watched it but I did, as many will, out of curiosity on how a classic film is re-imagined for a modern generation. With another final moment after the credits that once more shows a lack of originality in setting up a sequel, I left feeling disappointed. That’s all. I wanted to enjoy it, but it just wasn’t for me. Had I known there would be so much nostalgia over originality, I’d have just watched the original at home and seen it done properly.

I will say one thing, I think it’s clear that a quarter of the budget went to the designing the closing credits; very visually appealing right to the end I have to say. Good job!

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INTERVIEW: Paul Feig Talks A Simple Favour, Freaks and Geeks, Ghostbusters & The Box Office

Interviewed by Dave Curtis

Paul Feig is in the midst of a PR promo tour which will take him all over the world. At the start of his career, Paul wrote Freaks and Geeks which is now considered a cult classic but initially was considered a flop and quickly cancelled. Now the man who directed the hugely successful comedies Bridesmaids, Spy and the much talked about Ghostbusters remake is about to embark on a new challenge. A Simple Favour starring Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively, which is based on the hugely popular novel by Darcey Bell, is his latest endeavour. Not one to shy away from a conversation, Paul chats to us about his new film and what its like working with Anna and Blake. He also talks about his experience working on Ghostbusters and what he enjoys about filmmaking.

The following has been transcribed from a telephone interview between Dave and Paul.


Hello Paul, How are you?

I’m good, how are you?

I’m good. Thank you very much for talking to us.

My pleasure. Thank you for taking the time.

It must be a long day. It was your premiere last night wasn’t it?

Yes it was (laughter). I’m still feeling the effects. It was quite a celebration, but very very fun.

I could only imagine, with your sense of style I imagine it being very good.

(Laughter)

So Paul, ”A Simple Favour’- its a slight change in direction for you in that it is a thriller. Are you a fan of the genre?

Oh yeah. They are probably my favourite thing to watch, I’ve always loved them. Technically I don’t watch a lot of comedy. Its the bit I work in so I really enjoy the heightened tension and just the kind of drama and everything about thrillers. I also really love the old Hitchcock thrillers which were really fun and I kind of think that kind of thing is missing from the thrillers today. I still love them, but I really like the fun old ones.

Yeah a good thriller is quite hard to come across nowadays.

Well you know Hitchcock wasn’t afraid to inject humour into the characters and add quirkiness into them in a way that would make them fun. It can still be a real thriller and still let people have a good time.

Is that what attracted you to the project, were you approached by the studio or were you actively searching for something different?

I really wanted to find a thriller. You look at all my movies, they are all comedies really. You know there is a wedding movie, a buddy cop comedy, a spy movie. So a thriller was something I always wanted to do, but it’s one of the those genres I didn’t really know how to write. I feel like I would have to write it from scratch. So it was one of those things when you say hopefully a project will come in, that does and the script got sent to us. My company, we have a deal with Fox and at the time Fox 2000 had bought the book and had Jessica Sharzer write a version of it. They sent it to us because basically we had a producing deal with them. They were like ‘We have this movie and we don’t know what it is because its a thriller but its also really crazy and its kind of funny but we don’t really know’. So they were like ‘Maybe you can figure it out’. I read it and I just loved it so much and I said this is the thriller I’ve been looking for. This is one I know I can make. I can make it funny and fun and its mainly because A) it has so many twists and turns which I loved and B) because of the character that Anna Kendrick plays because I thought I can just get comedy out of that character. First of all its exactly the kind of character that’s in all my movies. Which is the awkward person, undervalued and sort of underestimated who really hasn’t found their place in the world yet. By going through whatever situation the movie throws at them to become a better person because of it and so that was my in. Just a fact that there was this nerdy mum who none of the other parents like. Its very earnest, sweet and that’s what I loved about it. I always want to make my movies good natured, you know even if they are dark. I don’t like things that are ugly and have a very negative statement about the human race in general. If you look at my movies they aren’t mean spirited.

Did you know of the book beforehand or was it the script that caught your attention?

Yeah it was the script. I read that first and then I read the book after that, but it was really the script which I thought was really fun. What Jessica Sharzer did which was so amazing, was that she really took the best moments from the book and then kind of mixed them around in a way that made it much better for the screen.

She is a wonderful screenwriter. I watched ‘Nerve’ the other day and I thought that was a good film. A bit of a hidden gem.

Oh yeah, and what a great person. A great partner to have, somebody who is so wonderful and so open to trying anything.

The trailer states that this is from your darker side. Should we be worried from now on, is this going to be something that is going to carry on?

(laughter) Honestly every project is new for me and I just want to tell great stories and so all the films that get sent to me, that I respond to or what idea I have that I want to write. But my next movie is going to be more of a romcom, kind of very fun, emotional movie. But I would love to work in the thriller genre again. I want to work in every genre that I can. Howard Hawks is my favourite director and the fact he worked affectingly in so many different genres has always been a inspiration to me and I think that’s the way to go.

You come across as a fun guy and a fun director. Was it fun making ‘A Simple Favour’ because it must of been fun making ‘Bridesmaids’ and ‘Spy’, but was this as enjoyable?

Oh yeah really fun. Sometimes even more fun than doing straighter comedy because you are getting so much out of the script than you already have because its so tightly plotted that you don’t have a lot of room to really to play around in that way. What you get to do is relish all these extreme emotions and these quirky extreme characters and so there is something incredibly fun about that. It helps when you have actors that are game and Anna and Blake were just so game to play and have fun with it and then I’m able to do my favourite thing which is to surround them with great supporting characters who are funny and quirky and just be so additive to the proceedings.

Talking about Blake and Anna, just from the trailer they look like they share wonderful chemistry. Was it like that from day one or had they met before or had you had rehearsals?

No not really. They only really met at a few times at social events over the years, showbiz events. They didn’t really know each other at all and you know when you are hiring movie star you can’t really go ‘Hey come in and audition with [this] person and see if you have chemistry’. You hire them and hope it works. But they hit it off from day one. I mean the chemistry was there and the dynamic of those characters was just kind of played in to their natural dynamic and also how they got to know each other and all of that. The way Blake’s character drops into Stephanie’s life and you know it was like when you cast somebody in a movie and you are like ‘and here is your partner out of nowhere’.

Yeah I’ve watched a couple of interviews with them recently and they just seem to get on really well, so it’s really nice to watch a film when two leads are so good together and actually have a friendship.

Yeah its really, really nice. But I’ve found in my career that all the actors I’ve worked with tend to just get along because they are just really professional and they are team players. You know the best movie stars are team players and not out for themselves. They know they are only as good as the people they are working with. That’s what is so nice, they know and realise they need each other.

You seem to attract many fantastic actresses like Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon, Rose Byrne, Sandra Bullock, Leslie Jones and now Anna and Blake, what do you think attracts them to your projects in particular?

Well I think I have projects that have really good roles for women and the thing that I hate is people saying its strong female leads. No its not that, its just that they are good three dimensional roles and they can be strong and weak and vulnerable and they’re smart and they mess up. It allows whoever is going to play the role to just have a fully developed fun character and show off their comedic chops or just show off what a good actor they are. So you realise how bad things have been for actresses for so long. There weren’t enough roles that they could really sink their teeth into.

I totally agree with you. I think you have been spearheading the revival of good quality female comedies, starting with Bridesmaids, Girls Trip, Rough Night and most recently The Spy Who Dumped Me, which I felt was heavenly influenced by you. Kate McKinnon is just brilliant in that.

She is just so great. Thanks. The good thing now is that studios are letting people make movies about women and god forbid letting women behind the camera to direct them too. Its slowly course correcting and I mean its such a major course correction that they have to do. They’ve behind for a long time but at least its starting [to change].

Did you feel least pressure working on A Simple Favour compared to your other films?

You always feel pressure because of how much the movie costs. If it doesn’t do well there is still a mark against you because you may have made a bad decision or you are just creatively off. So I always definitely feel the pressure regardless, but it was nice not having to carry the pressure of an enormous budget because that help wins some fights and arguments you have with the studio. If you want something and they don’t want it you’re like ‘hey do you know much money I’m not making to do this, you know how much I’m sacrificing to do this!’ So yeah it really allows me to experiment a little more and do the things I wanted to do. That said the studio was so supportive of us because the movie ended up going to Lionsgate. It was going to be Fox 2000 and they at the last minute got nervous about it and decided not to do it. Lionsgate swept in and kept us on schedule and I will be eternally grateful. I’m really, really grateful to them for that.

Talking about the box office, is that something you look at. Do you worry about it or do you finish the film, finish post then go on holiday and try not to think about it. Because it seems some directors don’t seem to care, but do you worry about it?

All I worry about is the box office, its drives everything I do, every decision I make, every sleepless night. I’ve got different perspective of this than a lot of other people which is that I was in movie jail once. I started really good and fell apart really badly and then I was allowed to make movies again. That was a hard lesson like “unless you make me some money”, unless you get return of their investment you don’t get to do it again. So I’m sadly obsessed with it, but it does mean that I’m trying to make movies that I know are going to entertain the biggest amount of people. Well that’s what I’m shooting for. I’m not trying to shoot a little niche film I want, no matter how much my movies cost because I want everybody to see them, because I’m proud of them and want them to entertain.

Well I think you are doing a good job because all your projects make a good profit. For example Bridesmaids made a ridiculous amount of money from a moderate budget. So I don’t think you have to worry. (laughter)

Well thanks, the old saying is true, you’re only as good as your last picture. You never lose sight of that. You never rest on your laurels. Then they go and start giving you life time achievement awards and don’t let you work anymore.

(laughter) Well you don’t want one of those yet. Talking about your last picture Ghostbusters, which I really enjoyed, did the response from so called fanboys put you off for a while or did you brush it off?

Oh yeah it definitely bummed me out, it was a real assault which I wasn’t prepared for. Now I realise I made so many mistakes and how I dealt with all of that, because I just didn’t expect it. It really broad sided me because all my interactions on the internet before that were just absolutely lovely and just supportive. There was whole little group of people that liked what I did. So when I announced that project I just expected everyone was just going to be really happy (he laughs) and then there was daily stuff of awful awfulness. At the same time there were so many nice people. You just tend to focus and notice the bad stuff. It definitely threw me and definitely put me off but it didn’t stop my desire in doing stuff. It just made me think about ‘Ok what am I going to do next and what’s the next thing I want to say and what road do I want to go down to entertain people?’ Do I want to make another giant movie right away or do I want to make something? I don’t want to say smaller because that sounds less commercial, just something that’s not on the same scale, but hopefully something that is as entertaining or even more so.

You have a gift in casting male actors who are naturally funny but aren’t really known for their comedy chops like Jon Hamm, Jason Statham and Chris Hemsworth. Do you take credit for that? I truly believe if there was no Ghostbusters there would be no Thor: Ragnarok because Chris Hemsworth really shows his funny bones in it.

I mean I’ll own part of it, he is a funny guy. When I really got inspired, well it was a double thing that happened because we have the same agents so when it came to Ghostbusters my agent said ‘hey Chris Hemsworth said if you want him to do anything in your movie, he really wants to do a movie that his kids could enjoy’ so I was like ‘wow that would be awesome like to have Thor being their receptionist.’ Then I saw he hosted Saturday Night Live and I just thought he was really funny. What I look for, I don’t know if I look for people who are funny, I look to see if they have a sense of humour about themselves.

I’ve got to mention Freaks and Geeks, I think people would be disappointed if I didn’t. Your CV for TV is very impressive. You directed some episodes of The Office (US), Parks and Recreation, Arrested Development, and Freaks and Geeks. Do you still get offered to do more TV?

I love TV. TV is in such an amazing place right now. I wish TV would have been in this place when we did Freaks and Geeks, we might still be on the air. We were such a fish out the water at the time, just an hour long dramedy. It just wasn’t what people were looking for at that moment. But I love TV and what’s great about TV now is the fact that it is embracing the realization of story telling and so these series are big long movies. So I love that, but I never love anything more than the challenge of trying to tell a complete story in two hours. It’s the hardest thing to do but the most satisfying thing to do.


We’d like to say a huge thank you to Paul for taking the time to chat with Dave!

A Simple Favour is out now in the US and releases in UK cinemas 20th September!

The Spy Who Dumped Me

Year: 2018
Directed by: Susanna Fogel
Starring: Mika Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Justin Theroux, Sam Heughan

WRITTEN BY ELENA MORGAN

Audrey (Mila Kunis) is down after being dumped and her best friend Morgan (Kate McKinnon) is doing her best to cheer her up. That doesn’t go to plan when Audrey’s ex Drew (Justin Theroux) resurfaces, tells them that he’s a spy, that assassins are after him and that Audrey must complete his mission.

The Spy Who Dumped Me is an action-comedy hybrid but it never really finds the balance between those two things. It’s an uneven film with jokes that are more likely to cause a smile rather than a full-on belly laugh and the action is good but not amazing. The action sequences are generally well shot and exciting, with the opening sequence of Drew fighting off bad guys in Lithuania being a standout. A car chase through Vienna where Audrey surprises herself, Morgan and the audience, by dealing with the violence and threat better than she could’ve ever imagined, is a pretty fun action sequence too and a good character moment.

The plot itself is messy, with Audrey and Morgan travelling from one European country to another at breakneck speed – so much so, it’s hard to keep up with what country they are now in and what they are supposed to do there. The script could’ve been a bit tighter, you do notice the two-hour runtime, and the actual spy plot could’ve made more sense.

Where The Spy Who Dumped Me shines is during the quieter moments between Audrey and Morgan, or any time the two of them are struggling to deal with the spy madness together. They are two people who you believe are best friends, they have in-jokes, they know each other’s secrets and they stand up for one another. Kunis and McKinnon have great chemistry and Kunis shows off her wit when balancing out McKinnon’s exuberance.

The Spy Who Dumped Me never quite finds its rhythm. Its leads are fun, and their characters are almost better than the story they’re in. Unfortunately, the spy plot is never truly thrilling, and the humour is never hilarious so the film merely ends up being just…fine.

ELENA’S RATING:

3

 

Reel Women: August UK Releases

Written by Elena Morgan

Welcome back to Reel Women, a monthly feature where we highlight the films being released in the UK that are written and/or directed by women. What’s the perfect way to spend this ridiculously hot British summer we’re having? Spending time in an airconditioned cinema watching some films made by women of course! This August there’s something for everyone with documentaries, rom-coms and a couple of YA adaptations, proving that that genre is still here.

3 August

Damascus Cover
Directed by: Daniel Zelik Berk
Written by: Daniel Zelik Berk and Samantha Newton

A spy (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) struggles on an undercover mission in Syria when he falls in love.This is Samantha Newton’s first feature length writing credit. Trances, the short film she wrote, was shown at Berlinale in 2008.

Like Father
Directed by: Lauren Miller Rogen
Written by: Lauren Miller Rogen

When workaholic Rachel (Kristen Bell) is left at the altar, she accidentally goes on her honeymoon with her overachieving father (Kelsey Grammer) who suddenly came back into her life.

Lauren Miller Rogen is an actress who has appeared in films like Superbad and 50/50. This is her feature length directing and writing debut.

10 August

Dog Days
Directed by: Ken Marino
Written by: Elissa Matsueda and Erica Oyama

A group of interconnected people are brought together by their lovable dogs.

Dog Days is Elissa Matsueda’s fourth feature film. Erica Oyama is an actress, producer and writer who’s previously written episodes of The Eric Andre Show, Fresh Off the Boat and Burning Love, which she received an Emmy nomination for in 2013.

The Darkest Minds
Directed by: Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Written by: Chad Hodge

Based on the book of the same name by Alexandra Bracken, The Darkest Minds is about a group of teens with powers who fight back against the adults who fear them and want to control them.

This Jennifer Yuh Nelson’s first live-action film after previously directed Kung Fu Panda 2 and Kung Fu Panda 3.

17 August

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
Directed by: Susan Johnson
Written by: Sofia Alvarez

When Lara Jean (Lan Condor) gets a crush, the way she deals with it is to write the boy a love letter, but she never sends them. Then one day all her letters get sent out and they wreak havoc on her love life.

Susan Johnson’s is a producer and director, her previous film Carrie Pilby is currently on Netflix and is well worth a watch. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before is Sofia Alvarez’s first film credit and has previously written episodes and worked as an executive story editor on the TV show Man Seeking Woman.

Distant Constellation
Directed by: Shevaun Mizrahi

A documentary about the inhabitants of a Turkish retirement home, telling anecdotes about their lives.

Distant Constellation is Shevaun Mizrahi first feature-length documentary, which she also edited, after previously working as a part of the camera and electrical department on multiple short films.

The Guardians
Directed by: Xavier Beauvois
Written by: Xavier Beauvois, Marie-Julie Maille and Frédérique Moreau

When war breaks out in France in 1915, the women are left behind to work on a family farm so that their loved ones will have something to come back to.

As well as writing The Guardians Marie-Julie Maille also edited it. She’s edited over a dozen short and feature-length films.

22 August

Load Wedding
Directed by: Nabeel Qureshi
Written By: Fizza Ali Meerza and Nabeel Qureshi

Load Wedding is a romantic social comedy starring Fahad Mustafa and Mehwish Hayat.

Fizza Ali Meerza also produced Load Wedding and it is her third produced screenplay.

The Spy Who Dumped Me
Directed by: Susanna Fogel
Written by: Susanna Fogel and David Iserson

Audrey (Mila Kunis) and her best friend Morgan (Kate McKinnon) get caught up in an international conspiracy when they discover that Audrey’s ex-boyfriend (Justin Theroux) is actually a spy.

Susanna Fogel is a writer, director and producer. The Spy Who Dumped Me is her second film.

24 August

One Note At A Time
Directed by: Renne Edwards

Documentary about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and how musicians use music to try and piece themselves together.

One Note at a Time is Renee Edwards’ first feature-length documentary. She’s edited over twenty different films and TV shows including episodes of Dispatches and Panorama.


That’s 10 very different films released in the UK this month, both in cinemas and on Netflix, that are made by women. If you get the chance to see any of them, we’d love to hear what you think of them.

Kunis & McKinnon Go On The Run In First Trailer for ‘The Spy Who Dumped Me’ Released

“Audrey and Morgan are two thirty-year-old best friends in Los Angeles, who are thrust unexpectedly into an international conspiracy when Audrey’s ex-boyfriend, who was actually a spy, shows up at their apartment with a team of deadly assassins on his trail. Surprising even themselves, the duo jump into action, going on the run throughout Europe from assassins and a suspicious-but-charming British agent, as they hatch a plan to save the world.”

Directed by: Susanna Fogel

Starring: Mila Kunis, Kate McKinnon, Sam Heughan, Justin Theroux, Gillian Anderson

Release Date: August 10th, 2018

Ferdinand

Year: 2017
Directed by: Carlos Saldanha
Starring: John Cena, Kate McKinnon, Gabriel Iglesias, Gina Rodriguez, David Tennant, Peyton Manning, Anthony Anderson.

Written by Andrew Garrison

I wasn’t enamoured with the idea of seeing the movie ‘Ferdinand’. As far as animated films of 2017 are concerned, this year has proven to be more of a cesspool than a garden of Eden (we are talking mainstream), but I had some hope that ‘Ferdinand’ would be a step above the trash heap that was 2017 (minus ‘Coco’ that is downright phenomenal). I made sure to miss all the commercials and trailers before the film to limit my time in this theatre. Thankfully, I found myself watching the second best animated film of 2017, much to my surprise.

‘Ferdinand’ is about a young bull (Ferdinand) who has no interest in fighting. He would
rather smell flowers and frolic. However, when grows up, he finds himself in a bad situation and must not only face the past he ran away from, but find a way to save his future all while maintaining his passive and friendly nature with the help of an eccentric group of characters.

There isn’t a lot to hate about this film. Some of the humour is dumb, and they become
repetitive with some of those unfunny jokes. The biggest issue is the animation that I found to be average in design. Movies like ‘Coco’ break new ground and push to be visually spectacular, yet Ferdinand seemed to have no interest in doing this. Also, despite a great voice cast, the quality of the sound wasn’t as consistent as one would like. Finally, while the film is directed towards an immensely serious subject that is a blight upon the global society, it had the opportunity to get deeper and dirtier into the subject, but in the name of being more family-friendly, glossed over this.

The things I enjoyed were plentiful in ‘Ferdinand’. Yes, some of the humour is low-brow or doesn’t hit the right mark, but a lot of it does. I laughed more in this movie than just about every comedy that came out this year. Apart from ‘Girls Trip’, I’d say it would be my comedy of the year. I also loved the talented and diverse cast of voices they picked up for this, from Anthony Anderson, David Tennant, John Cena, to even Peyton Manning. Also, the musical score is beautiful, and the soundtrack fitting of this comedy. Yes, this film addresses the cruelty of bullfighting and that important to note, but it goes even deeper than this. The best aspect of the movie is how it directly targets the idea of toxic
masculinity. Yes, others have touched on it, but this one felt like it was directly charging toward this idea. Men must fit a certain stereotype and follow certain rules (don’t cry, don’t show emotion, don’t ask for help), or they are labelled outcasts, devoid of purpose in society. It’s a vile, archaic, and terribly damaging blight upon our global society, and this movie dives into that subject more aggressively than most. I mentioned that I wanted the film to deliver this point because it is so important to the world, but I understand why it softened the blow some.

Overall, I respect the film for its efforts, but feel it would have joined the cream of the crop if it went all in on the subject. In the hellscape that is the animated film selection of 2017. ‘Ferdinand’ is surprisingly delightful complete with a very powerful message about a serious issue facing our species. Pixar’s ‘Coco’ is by far the superior animated film of this year, but ‘Ferdinand’ is the only 2017 mainstream animated film that could be mentioned in the same sentence. (Sorry, ‘Lego Batman’).

Andrew’s Rating: 7.5/10

Watch This Space: August 28th – September 3rd

This week we’re excited to re-launch our weekly feature – Watch This Space. Every Monday we will be recommending films that are on TV that week, films playing at the cinema, and also remind you of those brilliant films hiding on streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, and possibly in your own collection.

In Cinemas

Rough Night: This female-led comedy finally released in the UK last Friday, with most territories getting it in June and July. You can read Fiona’s review here, in which she calls it “an enjoyable night at the cinema“.

Logan Lucky: Can Jimmy Logan shake his family’s bad luck and pull off a $14 million heist? Corey shares his thought’s in a brand new review coming later today. We’ll update this article with a link when it’s up.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day (3D Special): Arnie is back! ‘Terminator 2: Judgement Day’ has been digitally enhanced and for one day only will be screening in 3D in cinemas across the UK. The film originally released in cinemas in 1991 and is back for old fans and new to enjoy on the big screen. We’ll have a special review up later this week!

On TV

Monday

Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994): Tune in to this British rom-com classic from the 90s for sharp-scripted silliness from Richard Curtis. Yes – the film is centred around bumbling, floppy-haired Hugh Grant, but it’s the eccentric ensemble that make this film both hilarious and heartfelt. If you’ve not seen it before, where have you been? If you have seen it before – cheer yourself up by surrounding yourself with a familiar group of friends and letting it wash over you like a warm bath. Tune into this classic on Film4 at 9pm. 

Footloose (1984): Kick off those Sunday shoes and go crazy for this 80s classic with a toe-tapping soundtrack and some eye-watering fashion choices. Kevin Bacon makes an appealing central character, backed up by a supporting cast that includes early Sarah Jessica Parker and Chris Penn. John Lithgow is the standout as the preacher who has declared a Southern town to be a “no-dance” zone and if you think the rebellious teenagers are going to take that lying down, then you’re mistaken! Brighten up your life with this cheesy feel-good caper. 5Star thinks you’ll love it so much that they’re playing it twice, the first beginning at 7pm, and the second straight after at 8:20pm.

Tuesday 

Shaun of the Dead (2004):  Edgar Wright’s debut feature and first entry to his Cornetto trilogy – ‘Shaun of the Dead’, stars the hilarious duo of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. ‘Shaun’ simultaneously pays homage to and parodies the ‘of the Dead’ films from the late George A. Romero in a way that is both exciting and easy on the eye. It’s truly a must-see, and you can catch it on ITV2 at 9:00pm.

Snakes on a Plane (2006): Samuel L. Jackson says enough is enough, he’s had it with the “MOTHERFUCKING SNAKES ON THIS MOTHERFUCKING PLANE”.. Need I say more? Okay, I will.. David R. Ellis’ ‘Snakes on a Plane’ gained considerable hype before the film released in cinemas 11 years ago, and despite how quickly that hype died down once it hit cinemas, I challenge you to find anyone who doesn’t know THAT line from the film. You can swear your heart out with Jackson from 9pm on Sky1.

Wednesday

About Time (2013): Combining a romantic comedy with some light science-fiction may be a somewhat bizarre mix, but Richard Curtis’ ‘About Time’ is, for my money, one of the finest romcoms of the last decade. With winning performances from the whole cast, a great sense of humour, bags full of heart, and a very fun time travel twist, it’s hard not to fall in love with the film from the very first scene. Fair warning though, Domnhall Gleeson and Rachel McAdams will ruin your base expectations of boyfriends and girlfriends for life. You can catch ‘About Time’ on Film4 at 6:40pm

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011): This undervalued and overlooked origin story within the MCU has suffered from being overshadowed by its sequels, particularly ‘The Winter Soldier’. In my opinion, The First Avenger is the superior film. With its World War Two setting, Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter and some great CGI (the wimpyfying of Chris Evans is fantastic) – ‘The First Avenger’ is one of the highlights of the MCU. If the rumours about the upcoming Infinity War are true, perhaps you should take the chance now to remind yourself of Cap’s shining greatness before shizz gets real dark. The action begins 9pm on Film4! 

Thursday

Superman (1978): You’ll believe a man can fly all over again. Richard Donnor directs the original comic-book adaptation- 1978’s ‘Superman: The Movie’. In a time before the superhero genre churned out by the book, CGI dazzling and star-studded movies year after year, travel back to more innocent, more family-friendly era with Christopher Reeve as the greatest Man Of Steel ever. A soaring soundtrack by John Williams and a wonderful cast and story help bring Superman to life in one of the most iconic, original and memorable super-hero films you all need to see. You’ll want to switch to ITV4 at 4pm to see Reeve’s in action! 

Predator (1987): You can see how great Arnold Schwarzenegger is as an action and comedy star when you remember one year after shooting up the jungle in ‘Predator’, he was playing simple-minded Julius opposite Danny DeVito in ‘Twins’. But I digress. No family-friendly comedy here. It’s just balls to the wall action and suspense to the highest level when Arnie and his tobacco chewing, machine gun toting, foul-mouthed squad turn from hunter to hunted, going up against the alien life-form known as The Predator. With direction from John McTiernan, special effects from Stan Winston and support from the likes of Carl Weathers, Jesse Ventura and the late Sonny Landham, this is classic Schwarzenegger – when you’ve finished watching, don’t forget to “GET TO THE CHOPPA!”. Get in on the action on Film4 starting at 10:45pm

Friday

Inception (2010): This one is a no brainer… It’s on TV this week, therefore you need to watch it! Christopher Nolan assembles an impressive cast, which includes the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Ellen Page, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy and Marion Cotillard, and if that line-up alone doesn’t sell it then you’re still in for a treat. Nolan keeps your full attention for the entirety of the film’s 2 and a half hour runtime, as we venture from dream to dream and watch DiCaprio and his team attempt to plant an idea in the mind of a CEO by using their dream-sharing technology. 

Role Models (2010): Having recently watched this film again, I can whole-heartily say that this film is still as funny as it was 7 years ago. Paul Rudd and Sean William-Scott are sentenced to community service and are sent to ‘Sturdy Wings’, an organisation that pairs children with adults to help build friendships. Rudd and Scott meet their matches when paired with Augie (a LARPing geek) and Ronnie (a foul-mouthed youngster), and hilarity ensues. The fun takes place over on 5Star at 11:15pm.

Hiding Online / In Our Collection

Kill Bill – Vol I and II (2003, 2004): Do yourself a favour and watch Tarantino’s masterpieces, featuring one of cinema’s greatest creations – Uma Thurman’s The Bride. The first is the all-action, kung fu heavy whirlwind featuring mind-blowing set pieces such as the House of Blue Leaves. The second is a different beast, exploring The Bride’s relationship with the titular Bill, a tour de force by David Carradine. Choosing which is better out of the two is a Sophie’s Choice for me. Do yourself a favour and watch both. Both films arrive on Netflix September 1st

Dead Poets Society (1989): O Captain My Captain. A tender central performance by Robin Williams can get a little schmaltzy at times, but this coming-of-age poetic film is worth your time for some classic lines and heart-warming scenes. The ensemble cast of High School students is a “who’s who” of current film and TV, Ethan Hawke, House’s Robert Sean Leonard and The Good Wife’s Josh Charles all got their breakthroughs here. As an English teacher, I have to say I aspire to the level of inspiration William’s Mr Keating brings to his lessons in literature and life. ‘Dead Poet’s Society’ will arrive on Netflix September 1st. 

Bronson (2008): Nicolas Winding Refn’s stylistic masterpiece, ‘Bronson’, is a biopic that explores the anarchic life of notorious British criminal Charles Bronson, played emphatically by the sublime Tom Hardy. Whilst it might not be everybody’s cup of tea, I can’t recommend it enough. Give it a go if you think you’re hard enough.

Deep Blue Sea (1999): Whilst no other shark movie can really hold a candle to the mighty ‘Jaws’, ‘Deep Blue Sea’ is one of the better ones out there. It’s ludicrous of course, but that is exactly what you should expect and want out of a movie about harvesting the brains of DNA-altered sharks to find a cure for Alzheimer’s. It has Samuel L. Jackson, terrible CGI sharks and plenty of gruesome deaths, what more could you want really?! ‘Deep Blue Sea’ is heading to Netlfix on Friday! 

A huge thank you to contributors this week: Fiona Underhill, Chris Gelderd, Sarah Buddery, Rhys Bowen Jones, and Corey Hughes.

Rough Night

Year: 2017
Director: Lucia Aniello
Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Zoe Kravitz, Ilana Glazer, Jillian Bell

Written by Fiona Underhill

I saw the trailer for this film and thought it looked like a female version of ‘The Hangover’, which is pretty much exactly what it is. Although the trailer did not appeal to my sense of humour, it had a strong cast (including Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon and Zoë Kravitz) and I wanted to support the film because it’s a female-directed, female-driven R-rated comedy and I believe there should be more of all those things. Interestingly enough, like buses, two have come along at once – the similarly-plotted ‘Girls Trip’ (starring Jada Pinkett Smith and Queen Latifah) is also coming out this Summer, showing there is room for more than one studio comedy from the female perspective. I am pleased to say I was pleasantly surprised by ‘Rough Night’ and I ended up laughing a lot more than I thought I would. 

Jess (Johansson) is a goody-goody, trying to carve a noble political career and engaged to a boring and sensible man. Her former college roommate, Alice (Jillian Bell) has planned a wild weekend in Miami for Jess’ bachelorette party. Along for the ride are uptight and wealthy Blair (Kravitz) and free-spirited hippy Frankie (Ilana Glazer) – who have a romantic history from college. The fifth ingredient is Pippa (McKinnon) – Jess’ friend from a year out in Australia. Pippa immediately gets Alice’s back up, as she feels jealous and threatened in her best friend status with Jess. The weekend starts off predictably wild – with drink, dancing and drugs and a stripper is ordered once the girls are back at their luxury Miami pad. In the fine tradition of a Joe Orton farce – an accident occurs, the stripper ends up dead and the rest of the film covers the panic of what to do with the body. 

It’s interesting that because it is women reacting to the death of someone in their midst, the tone did become more serious and emotional – at least for a while. I was in a packed cinema, with a mostly female audience and the atmosphere did become a little awkward and uncomfortable when the stripper was killed. It’s hard not to empathise when you see yourself represented on screen and initially the group of women are quite shattered by what has occurred. The writers – Lucia Aniello (who also directed) and Paul Downs (who plays Jess’ fiancee Peter) quite deftly handle this tonal shift and fairly subtly but quickly build the moment back up to comedy. Bell and McKinnon, who play the more outlandish comic figures also greatly help with returning the mirth. I did find myself swept along and almost despite myself, laughing at crude and broadly comedic moments – which usually isn’t really my thing. 

The film alternates between the raucous bachelorette weekend in Miami and Peter’s bachelor party. In a slightly tiresome role reversal, his is a much more sedate wine tasting affair. However, after a panicked phone call from Jess, Peter believes she has cheated on him with the stripper/prostitute and his friends persuade him to pull an insane all-nighter – fuelled by Adderall, Red Bull and adult nappies – and drive to Miami to confront her. This was a pleasantly unhinged performance from Downs (who I’ve not seen before) and did provide some welcome relief from the body-hiding shenanigans.

Add in great cameos from Ty Burrell and Demi Moore – as the randy neighbours to the party pad – and all in all, this was an enjoyable night at the cinema. I can definitely see this proving popular with groups of girls, who want to go out and have a few drinks and have a fun night at the movies. Films like that don’t come along all that often (‘Magic Mike’ and yes, ‘Fifty Shades’ are probably the most recent examples), so we have to take what we can get. I think ‘Rough Night’ is going to do well financially and I’m happy about that. Of course, many films have tried to replicate the success of ‘Bridesmaids’ and not many have managed to pull it off. Hopefully female-driven comedies will not be so few-and-far-between in future and we don’t have to put so much emphasis on female directors, writers and stars when reviewing them. It should be standard, run-of-the-mill, not worth noting. But we’re not there yet. 

Fiona’s rating: 7 out of 10

First Trailer For Female Ghostbusters Movie

The iconic Ghostbusters return this summer, which surely has everyone happy, right? Not quite. For some reason, this reboot has really got some people angry, but not us. Four funny ladies taking over the mantle of spiritual exterminators shouldn’t make anyone angry; it’s not like they’re replacing the originals. 

We think this trailer is really fun, and with plenty of references to the ‘Ghostbusters’ heritage, it looks like director Paul Feig and his band of merry women are respecting the past whilst bringing the franchise into a modern world. Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy are proven Hollywood hits, and Saturday Night Live favourites Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones are pretty great too, so we have faith that this will be a good movie.

If you’re not a fan of this trailer, or indeed the whole reboot idea, please tell us why? And if you are a fan, and you are looking forward to seeing the female ‘Ghostbusters’ in action, show your support on Twitter and we’ll be sure to share the love.

Ghostbusters is set to hit UK cinemas 15th July 2016