Lots to get through this week, including the Robert De Niro/Zac Efron comedy Dirty Grandpa, Oscar-nominated financial comedy The Big Short, Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton in Our Brand Is Crisis, Feng Xiaogang in mainland gangster drama Mr. Six and Japanese musical shenanigans in La La La At Rock Bottom.
On Radio 3 today I discussed Neill Blomkamp’s Chappie, the third feature from the promising South African science fiction director, who shot to fame with his startling, Oscar-nominated debut District 9. I also say a few words about Bennett Miller’s rather excellent Foxcatcher, starring Steve Carell, Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo.
A major disappointment that just feels over worked, under developed and lazily handled by all concerned. While no one could accuse the original Anchorman of having a particularly strong script, it often feels like the sequel never had one to begin with. Not only does the film barely hang together as a series of largely unrelated skits, but even individual scenes themselves stop and start, clearly cobbled together from improvised one-liners as the cramped cast of screen comedians vie for the biggest laugh before its time for lunch. There are of course laughs to be had along the way, but the entire project just reeks of self-satisfaction, when in truth, what Ferrell and Co give us is embarrassingly sub-par to the point you can’t help but wish they hadn’t bothered.
I caught this on a flight and really that’s the perfect place to see this utterly inconsequential yet mildly diverting comedy. Steve Carell is on autopilot most of the time here, while Steve Buscemi’s involvement in a comedy is both baffling and rather unsuccessful. Jim Carrey does far better here than he did in Kick-Ass 2, actually investing his character with some energy and antagonism that yield a few solid laughs. It is Olivia Wilde, however, who comes out of this film best, given a nothing role as Burt’s assistant, but managing to deliver a believable and wholly identifiable and sympathetic performance from it.
Building on the success of the first film, the adorable and hilarious minions are given much more screen time this time around. When Gru is approached by the Anti-Villain League to track down a criminal mastermind in a local shopping mall, he is teamed with a female partner and given a cake shop to run. All of this is of course incidental, and just padding to give the little yellow guys another opportunity to clown around and talk nonsense. I was sold, it’s hilarious.