This week we cast our eye over three recent female-led films, starting off with Elizabeth Banks’ directorial debut, Pitch Perfect 2, then the bold new take on the much-loved musical Annie followed by the Melissa McCarthy action comedy Spy.
00:00 – Theme Music
00:46 – Introduction
01:10 – Pitch Perfect 2
19:05 – Annie
32:02 – Spy
44:12 – End Notes and Outro Music
After returning home early to discover his wife in bed with his boss, Judd Altman (Jason Bateman) sees his marriage, career and happy home disintegrate before his eyes. When his sister Wendy (Tina Fey) then calls to tell him their father has died, Judd comes close to throwing in the towel.
Family can be a blessing and a curse, and Shawn Levy’s bittersweet comedy drama attempts to reconcile both these aspects, as an estranged collection of misfits are forced to live once again under the same roof.
From Jane Fonda’s oversharing mother, who has built a career penning self-help books based on her children’s lives, to older brother Paul, now married to Judd’s ex-girlfriend, and nightmare youngest son Philip (Adam Driver), pin balling from one failed career choice to another failed relationship, the Altman family has more than its fair share of unresolved issues.
Add to the mix childhood sweethearts who now re-enter Judd and Wendy’s lives, and the stage is set for procession of funny, touching, tearful and cathartic moments that may help reshape the rest of their lives.
Jonathan Tropper’s adaptation of his own novel is more mature fare than much of Levy’s past work, but his re-teaming with Date Night star Fey proves a welcome one. Bateman and Fey reveal themselves to be as equally adept at drama as they are at making us laugh, and the strong support from the big name ensemble ensures This Is Where I Leave You touches the heart as often as it tickles the funny bone.
The world is tiring of Vince Vaughn, and his reluctance to change up or expand his schtick isn’t helping his case much. Here he re-teams with his Wedding Crashers cohort Owen Wilson to basically rehash the best parts of Old School – albeit as interns at Google. The result is a gag-inducing 2-hour commercial for the Internet company, where all the best moments come from other actors – namely Max Minghella and Josh Brener – while the “talent” does little more than show up and collect their paycheck.
Let’s assume you are in your 30s or 40s, into what we now call “tech,” though you are old enough to remember when the same thing was called “computers” and although you are feeling “older,” you certainly don’t think of yourself as “old.”
If that sounds familiar, then there’s a pretty good chance you will enjoy The Internship, a diverting if largely unremarkable comedy starring Vince Vaughn (who also co-wrote the film) and Owen Wilson, directed by Shaun Levy (Night at the Museum, Date Night).
Vaughn and Wilson play ageing, down on their luck salesmen who embark on a quixotic adventure to try and land a job at Google. Their shtick is familiar and in its best moments still appealing. Rose Byrne largely phones in her forgettable appearance as Owen’s love interest, but there are much better performances from Aasif Mandvi as the supervisor of the internship programme, Tiya Sircar as one of the fellow interns and a spectacular cameo from Will Ferrel as Owen’s brother in law.
There are plenty of laughs and amusing situations, though how far this film moves you, either comically or emotionally, may depend a lot on your age and the extent to which you identify with the premise of the film. I had a good time with The Internship and felt for its view of how cynical and screen dependent today’s youth are and how much the culture of work has changed in recent years. But, then again, I’m a crusty old geek who bears more than a passing resemblance to the semi-redundant characters Vaughn and Wilson portray.