Tag Archives: Simon Pegg

The Parole Officer: A Coogan-y Film

I must admit I was excited to see Steve Coogan’s face on the cover of this movie on my Netflix. 2001 is a bit iffy for comedies for me (I’m a 200 and late… -r), but this one did the job for the most part. Steve Coogan wasn’t at top form (a bit of a problem) but I got through it all the same. The first scene was promising, but you can only be so outrageous before nobody watches your movies…

The story of The Parole Officer is a pretty straightforward one. Steve Coogan plays Simon Garden, and awkward and sad probation worker (confusing movie title, I

All too true…

know…). He is being transferred to another city (Manchester, I believe) and he’s going to be attempting to correct those sorry crooks that litter the streets of England. What he stumbles upon is something a bit more intense. A fellow officer in crime prevention, Inspector Burton (Stephen Dillane), commits a murder that is caught on security camera. Holding the evidence in his possession, Burton the crooked cop is planning on framing Garden if he tattles. Not wanting this being held over his head, Garden employs the help of the only four former criminals he corrected in robbing a bank with the tape inside. Oh, the comedic irony.

The most awkward place for Coogan? Strip club.

It’s pretty cut and dry from there. The movie has some of Coogan’s own brand of awkward comedy, but not enough to make it a signature film of his. (I’d say Hamlet 2 is more his style.) You get an awkward sense of Alan Partridge, but it comes up short of expectations. The acting is fine and the movie is dated, which always makes it a bit hard for me to watch. But overall, think Johnny English with dry comedy instead of slapstick. You got this film right there.

There are a couple of great little parts other than the versus mode of Coogan/Dillane. There’s Ben Miller as Colin, one of Garden’s former clients. Being Rowan Atkinson’s sidekick in Johnny English, it was a nice change to see him delivering comedy more than being the straight actor taking it all in. There’s Lena Headey as a watered down version of the strong British actress she will one day become in things like 300 and Game of Thrones. Not the most adequate of cops, it

Team of crack cons, assemble!

always gets weird whenever Coogan lays his puffy lips on a love interest in a movie. And then there’s a non-speaking cameo from Simon Pegg in the art gallery scene. I had no idea what to expect there. But worth a laugh.

The bank heist is a little above my understanding with some strange technology lingo and complicated means of infiltration, leaving part of the movie as bland. The back and forth between the cons was fine, although overall it lacked a certain star quality for me that would’ve

Aha! I’m Simon Garden.

sent the jokes home better. It really was an all eyes on Coogan film for me. Throw in some slapstick/situational comedy towards the end (and a break-in scene reminiscent of The Dark Knight) and you have yourself a throwback to the 1950’s heist movies. Not a bad roll into one.

Not one of my favorites, but not the worst Coogan attached film I’ve seen. I still feel like one of my only friends who actually recognized/knew Coogan in Tropic Thunder, something that saddens me to this very day. But it’s not about notoriety or popularity. There are those of us out there who salute Steve Coogan for his amazing contribution to the world of comedy. He deserves a ranking up there with Ricky Gervais, Matt Lucas/David Walliams, and even Monty Python. Can’t get enough of those Brits. For this, I give The Parole Officer a 6.8 out of 10.

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Hot Fuzz: Guns a Blazin’

This movie may hold its place solidly in British Comedy, but this movie has one of the best final action sequences of all time. As a kid I fantasized after watching The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, etc. about busting in on some thugs and being strapped to the teeth. You know that scene I’m talking about:

I’m one of those guys who can make the auto gun noise with my mouth and dived onto my bed while shooting two finger guns through the air. I love all action movies and guns, swords, and martial arts really get my blood flowing. When you have an homage/spoof/comedy movie like this that lets out the little kid in you who fantasized about riding into town on a horse and lighting up the bad guys, you have come to the right spot.

You may not have come to the right spot if you don’t like a bit of British humor… or at least 2 hours of it. If you’re anticipating the final showdown and you have to wade

The Sandford Police Service.

through two hours of well crafted action jokes and situational comedy, that might kill it for you. Not for me.

So this is another in the Cornetto Trilogy from Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, and they just keep getting better. Their next one on the list to end the trilogy is “The World’s End”. Maybe more zombies? Who knows… All I know is that they are fantastic. For the childhood that I had where Star Wars, action films, cartoons, and sci-fi knowledge was a everyday thing, this hits home. Very close to home. And I loved it.

Heaven’s fallen Angel.

Simon Pegg plays Police Officer Nicholas Angel (No. 777, if you didn’t get it already). He is the best on the force in London (he’d rather I say “police service” because it comes off as less aggressive) and is making all the other officers look bad. With the recommendation of all three superiors (Cameos by Martin Freeman, Steve Coogan, and Bill Nighy), Nicholas says goodbye to his former GF (played by Cate Blanchett in a white CSI outfit) and heads to Sandford Gloucestershire. (A fictitious name for a police situation town when running drills/scenarios.)

When Nicholas comes to Sanford, he is blown away by the life of the small town chum. The police station sees no action and Sanford is considered the safest town in England. Headed by Constable Frank Butterman (Jim

Friends forever.

Broadbent) and his son Danny (Nick Frost), Nicholas stumbles upon a bunch of “accidents” that could be nothing short of murders. Who is he to suspect? And who is he to trust? And finally, who is he gonna shoot up first?

I saw this movie in theaters after falling in love with Shaun of the Dead, I had to see it the first weekend out. I about died laughing every 15 minutes of the movie (usually more often). This movie has a lot more punchlines per minute than Shaun had, but every bit just as good. They watched over 150 action films to get the script to be just right (insert their own British flavor and Bam!). This movie went to great lengths to be successful, and rightly so. It delivered on all movie going levels. Entertainment. To the extreme.

There are a lot of great British actors in this movie as well. Obviously the buddy buddy duo of Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. You’ll never see two other actors onscreen who seem like they’re two best friends doing exactly what they wanna do.

Lunch. Dat. Shit.

They are living their dream making these movies. As I mentioned before, my idol Steve Coogan had a small part beside Martin Freeman (Tim from the Office) and Bill Nighy, the funniest old British man. The Andes as they were referred to, Paddy Considine (you might recognize him as Ross from The Bourne Ultimatum) and that great famous son, Rafe Spall. He lost a lot of weight and did some growing up to play the other Andy in this film, and I loved him.

This movie has the wit and fast cuts you’d expect from an action film. All the guns, action, and cheesy action comedy (combined with some really clever comedic work) make this one of the best comedies of the 2000’s (right beside Shaun). You won’t see comedies this entertaining and perfect come along that often, and also featuring a former James Bond, Timothy Dalton. It looks like a lot of fun was had with this film (with plenty of homages to other films) and it really is a laughable thrill ride with slangin’ guns. Perfection in a barrel. 9.7 out of 10.

 


Shaun of the Dead

Okay, so here we go with the Simon Pegg/Edgar Wright film that started off the whole shebang. Shaun of the Dead, that classic film that everyone and their mother owns (well my mom likes it in any case) truly is a spectacular romantic spoof about zombies. Let’s see if I can remember back to the first time I watched it…

Back when I first laid eyes on this film, I’m pretty sure I had no idea who Simon Pegg was. I hadn’t seen Spaced (not until much later) and I was woefully unaware of what hilarious

A wonderful cast doing it on the night.

antics lay before me in this film. Leave it to the British to be so damn clever that they turn a zombie movie into one of the funniest films of the last 10 years (soon to be followed by Hot Fuzz). The first in what hopes to be a trilogy entitled “The Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy” (every film so far has featured a Cornetto), I laughed hysterically (or at least I think I did back in 2004) to Shaun of the Dead.

A lot of the zombies in the film are shown in other scenes, and are fans of Spaced or just happened to be around the time of shooting.

Fantastic plot ensuing. Shaun (Simon Pegg) has an average life with a girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield) who expects a bit more from their relationship. Ed (Nick Frost) lives in a shared flat with Shaun and their dickish roommate Pete (Peter Serafinowicz), and every night ends at the Winchester pub. After Shaun was supposed to finally arrange a nice night out, he messes up after a scrambled day at work, and Liz breaks it off with him. Planning on doing anything to get her back, Shaun and Ed wake up the next day to a zombie apocalypse. Guess things’ll be a bit more complicated than planned.

Let’s start with the filming. This movie, which, in my adolescence I thought was directed by Simon Pegg, was creatively done by Edgar Wright. With the combined writing and direction powers of

See, it’s gotta be good, she’s smiling.

Wright/Pegg, there’s nothing they couldn’t do. This movie uses interesting and dramatic quick cuts, ominously toned music at ironic parts, and comedic timing within the camera angles and cuts. It does mean a lot for a camera’s direction and cinematography to dictate the pacing and comedy of a film. This one has that. You’ll see the same thing in Hot Fuzz (a more action-y edge) and Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs The World (a review I did a while ago).

That’s some classic Nighy right there.

The cast is also full of a bunch of wonderful British actors. Of course there’s the Simon Pegg/ Nick Frost bromance/friendship duo. It’s the only couple in Hollywood that I would consciously ship together despite just being two men who are friends. You have Dylan Moran, star of Black Books and the recently reviewed A Film With Me in It. This Irish actor plays the dick and four eyes, David. But he’s a lot more than that and shows up in other Simon Pegg vehicles. I give this guy his props, he’s damn funny. There’s Lucy Davis who plays the slightly slow failed actress, Dianne. Most British comedy fans will know of her from the UK’s Office as Dawn, one of my favorites (I currently worship Ricky Gervais).  There’s Bill Nighy, POTC’s Davy Jones and Underworld’s head vamp and one of my mom’s favorite British actors. A cameo is made by Rafe Spall, son of Timothy Spall as Noel, one of Shaun’s co-workers at the tech shop. He’s slimmed down a bit for other roles and most recently

The Wright stuff.

appeared in Prometheus (you gotta check him out, he’s going places).

This movie’s just a great watch and gets better every time you watch it with inside jokes and new groups of friends tuning in. (At least in my experience.) There’s nothing wrong with it, and it delivers on the horror fan and comedy fan that both dwell within me. If you’re any sort of a geek and love sci-fi/video games/movies/fantasy, this movie is for you. It’s a cricket bat to the head and worth all the injuries. 9.3 out of 10.


The Adventures of Tintin: The Best

Awwww yeahhhh...

Just to let everyone know, I’m about to rave about how good this movie is. I’m already gonna give this a 10 out of 10, no worries. I’m gonna give this best animated film of 2011. As if there was any competition. I’ve been reading Tintin graphic novels since I was a wee lad. This stuff, pardon my French, is my shizz. I love Tintin and his trusty wire fox terrier, Snowy. Captain Haddock is hilarious with his alliterative swear words. The mysteries are fun and engaging for all ages. And this movie EPITOMIZES everything that was good about the comics. I can’t think of a single book/comic/graphic novel that completely translates a movie from the work that you loved. (If you can refute this statement, post one. You can’t, but you can try.)

From the amazing minds of Steven Spielburg and Peter Jackson, the story of the ace journalist/detective Tintin comes

Tintin and Haddock, on the adventure.

straight from the first comic. The meeting of Haddock. Flawless. I felt I was re-reading the first graphic novel. Page for page. In 107 minutes, I was taken into a world I could completely believe in. A world I wished I existed in since I was 9. Now this has been a ridiculously good year for Spielburg. He directed The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse. One is a heartwarming story about a horse getting Oscar buzz, the other is an amazing story about the greatest hero of all time, and it was judge by its earnings in America. Come on, are you serious? Let’s see… Oh my, it made a measly $10 million domestically. It floundered here in the U.S. Hmmmm… $270 in foreign box offices? It just looks to me as if people abroad (where Tintin originated) appreciate it far more than those here who lack a bit of ecclesiastical appreciation. I’m not blaming anyone, it just goes to show we need to publish and distribute more Tintin comics here.

How great does that look? Bell and Serkis, experiencing innovation.

Back to Spielburg. (Sorry Peter.) Along with these great directing jobs, Spielburg executively produced 4 T.V. shows (one of those being Terra Nova, getting some buzz there, the other big one, Falling Skies) and a series of big blockbuster movies. Those being Cowboys and Aliens (need to see), Transformers 3 (eh… no), Real Steel (big no), and Super 8 (HELL YES). Toss in War Horse and Tintin and you got a sextuple threat right there. I’d call that a year of bank. But I guess that’s not to try to detract from Peter Jackson’s contribution. Jackson has The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey two parter to look forward to releasing. That’s gonna do just as well as the LOTR series for shizzle.

What other names can I boast about related to this movie? Well, there’s John Williams on the orchestra chops. Check out about every single Spielburg/Lucas movie and you’ll find J. Williams name tagged on there. Anybody who can cinematically sweep me off my feet with a recognizable build, that’s gold right there. AND THE VOICE ACTORS. That’s just think about that for a second. Voice actors. I know they’re acclaimed actors, but they use their voices to bring this movie together. And a bunch of great names to talk about in relation to their characters.

There are no words for how incredible this is.

Jamie Bell as Tintin. Right there. That’s a big name with some great roles attached to it. The boy of Billy Elliot among other great English roles this guy has taken? Fantastic. I used to do my own English accent in my mind to pretend I was Tintin, but now Jamie Bell’s voice will forever signify and epitomize who Tintin is. Andy Serkis and Captain Haddock. PHENOMENAL. I’ve never known an actor who can throw out a cacophony of voices and make them all sound legitimate. His drunken Scottich drawl is just exactly what Haddock ordered. His buffoonery and hijinks really carry the story along, as Tintin and his levelheadedness truly get them out of some sticky situations. Here, get this. Daniel Craig AS THE BAD GUY. Who saw that coming? Playing the nefarious Sakharine/Red Rackham, Craig really steps it up by expanding his acting chops inside a recording booth. Nick Frost and Simon Pegg as the Thompson twins? I’ll take some of that. They were funny in the comics and in the movie as well. Spot on. Toby Jones as Silk the pickpocket? I thought at first that he would be Professor Calculus when I first saw him, but that wasn’t the case. (Professor Calculus was supposed to be in Red Rackham’s Treasure, but only introduced.) Even Mackenzie Crook, side star of the Pirates series as the wooden eyed lackey and star of The Office (U.K.), offered his voice as Tom, one of the lackeys of Haddock’s former crew. And, get this as well, even Cary Elwes, star of Saw 1 and The Princess Bride, lends his voice as a minor character! (Look for him as a pilot on the biplane!) Everyone English wanted to get in on the action of Tintin!

Let’s talk about the animation! This new age of 3-D digital animation is just phenomenal. Anything can be done with today’s technology. I would give this movie and the recently made L.A. Noire game the tops for this category of innovation. When you can make iconic cartoon characters seem real and RESEMBLE the voice actors who play them? Kudos. I will give a standing ovation to that. The amazing attention to details with shadows and minor costume effects and the tiniest of details is just mental. You have to really care about the work you’re doing to be that good. And I’m sure all the people that worked on this movie were.

There are so many great comedic/fast paced action sequences in this movie as well! The scenes on the Karaboudjan ship and the flashbacks to the Haddock/Rackham fight were epic (and I don’t use epic lightly). And the final chase scene at the end are the epitome of badass. Even the final battle between Haddock and his ancient rival are just too amazing. Bravo on all accounts of action.

Just. Fantastic.

I gotta tell ya, there is just no end to my love of this movie and Tintin and all his adventures. I hope they make a movie for every single graphic novel. The start up of every story is great. Tintin stumbles on some piece of history and it ties him into a dangerous adventure that will test his mind and body. He should be every young man’s hero and role model. And speaking of young children, I was happy to see how many parents took their children to see this movie. It’s age appropriate and wonderful for the entire family, young and old alike. It has everything and leaves you wanting more. The entire time. I can’t get over it. A

Tintin 4 Life.

perfect, flawless 10 out of 10. Best film of 2011? Maybe… Tintin will tell.


Paul

The second I saw this movie was coming out, I got really excited. I’ve seen Simon Pegg’s show Spaced, I’ve seen both Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, this was just gonna be another winner to add to the list. Not quite. It was quite good, but this had a different feel to it than the other Pegg/Frost collaborations did. Paul is not quite the movie you’d expect from these two, but it had all the things that Simon Pegg loves: Star Wars and aliens.

Paul is the story of an alien (Seth Rogen) who comes crashing (or exploding rather) into Graeme Willy’s (Simon Pegg) and Clive Gollings’ (Nick Frost) lives. On a road trip around America after Comic Con, Graeme and Willy find that the alien trip they planned through the midwest would be more real than they could ever imagine. Getting into trouble one after another, Graeme and Clive meet an all-star cast along the way in what I could only describe as England vs. America with E.T.

First things first. ACTING. Yes, this movie has quite an extensive cast with cameos and guest stars all over the place. First we got Jeffrey Tambor (Yes, Arrested Development. Best.) as Shadowchild, a sci-fi writer with an ego and O.C.D. problem. Jane Lynch as the alien truck-stop waitress who pops in and out from time to time. David Koechner as the redneck anti-queer (really breaking away from his role as Hannah Montana’s uncle). Jason Bateman as the surly F.B.I. agent out to get Paul (quite funny), along with Bill Hader (one of my favorite SNL guys) and Joe Lo Truglio as the bumbling idiot agents who kind of mess everything up but are quite funny. Also Kristen Wiig (annoying) but actually not that bad in this film. I’ve always found she’s more bearable in films than SNL.Yes, that’s quite a laundry list of actors that have the potential to make a movie funny. Bravo.

Simon and Nick. Just some Comic Con goers.

This movie is also a break directing wise from the usual. Instead of the great Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. How amazing.) we have Greg Mottola (Superbad and Adventureland. Two terrible one word movies.) This really disappointed me. A lot. It gave a different feel to the movie that, frankly, wasn’t all that good at all. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost work well together with other English actors. A lot of the humor in this movie comes from the supporting cast. This saddens me. That’s what made Shaun and Hot Fuzz so great. Edgard Wright (He failed at Scott Pilgrim. Check my blog.), English supporting cast, with Pegg and Frost as the driving forces behind the comedy. Bad form.

But that’s not to say this movie isn’t that good. It has its own genuine feel to it that is still quite funny. All of the supporting cast is quite funny American actors. It’s written by Simon and Nick. It’s their brainchild. The thing that ruins it for me is it doesn’t have the choppy, sporadic, English humor you come to expect from them. You could say that’s probably because it’s not Edgar Wright driving the project from behind the camera. Sad, I know, but still.

I was also surprised how sub par the special effects were in this movie. Maybe it was to give it an E.T. feeling, but maybe it’s just the production value that lacked in the making of the film. Paul wasn’t as real looking as I expected for a 2011 film, the spaceship and such felt unrealistic. The stunts were fine, it was just everything else that threw off the movie for me. Maybe another thing that affected me was my movie watching experience. It wasn’t the audience, it was the theater (Thanks, Regal Cinemas 14). The projection was out of wack, all of the lettering in the film was hard to look at. The lights came on in the theater 30 minutes before the movie was over. It kind of ruined it for me. But besides that, the movie was good (Wow, I just complained a lot…)

I still think this movie is worth watching. If you’re ever in the mood for a pretty good alien comedy, please see this movie. Simon and Nick need all the support they can to become really big in America, and I know they already kinda are, but they need everybody behind them to help Americans realize that they’re just as good as actors are here. (Certainly better than Matthew McConaughey or Brad Pitt. Come on… Although Lincoln Lawyer might be good…) So please go see Paul. It’s definitely worth a watch. 7.8 out of 10.