Tag Archives: slapstick

The Great Dictator: A Nazi Slap to Hitler

In another vein, for a different class, I watched Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator. I gotta tell ya, this is a completely different pace in comparison to the movies I usually watch. I’m all about movies after 1970, the color films, the 100 minute movies. I’m not usually up for the 2 hour black and white snore fests. But this one was at least a bit different. Hey dad, looks like I’m growing up a bit with a little taste of cultured film.

The Great Dictator is the story of a note so great dictator, Adolph Hitler. Cleverly renamed as Adenoid Hynkel, Charlie Chaplin mirrors the rise of Hitler into power and his subsequent actions in his self appointed office. Parallel to this is an image of Chaplin’s Tramp character, the

It’s just too uncanny…

Jewish barber. After having served during World War I, the barber lost his memory and didn’t realize the war had been lost or that Hynkel had been put into power. The persecution of the Jews is underplayed in this movie (it seems as if they’re not treated that poorly), and Chaplin later apologized after finding out about the concentration camps. A depressing issue indeed.

The parts that make this movie funny is only about half of the film. There’s Chaplin’s speech as Hynkel, accurately mimicking Hitler’s wimpy return salute, and the German language and Hitler’s oratory style is dead on. The short English retorts are perfect and simply explain just what Hitler was up to. The bumbling idiots of Hynkel’s cabinet, characterized by Henry Daniell as “Garbage” and Billy Gilbert as “Herring”, strongly insinuate Himmler and

Too legit.

Goebbels (maybe some Goreing thrown in there). The floating globe is amazing and the slapstick is always good. I had no idea how much of a comedic genius Charlie Chaplin was.

The other half of the movie contains the plot. And I found it to be a very uninteresting one. The Jewish barber falls in love with a Jewish washing woman, and the Nazi Gestapo harass her and the barber all day long. After finding the man whose life he saved in the war, the barber befriends Schultz (Reginald Gardiner) and sets about a coup in order to kill Hynkel (if only they had…). Things go wrong, identities are mistaken, and Chaplin (the barber) gives a profound speech at the end, one I felt was directed right at Hitler. Coming out in 1940, this movie, viewed twice by Hitler, was a plea to stop the war. If only it had succeeded.

A lot of the stuff in older movies like this feel the same to me. The long credits at the beginning, the old time music, the higher pitched male voices and long shots, it’s all a constant. I have to admit I was a bit sleepy after this one. But the subject matter and slapstick are what really saved it for me. It was an

A love made in boredom?

extremely clever spoof of Hitler’s Nazi regime and spoke a lot to the things I’ve been learning about in my Holocaust class. I would recommend this one to history buffs and fans of old films, because this one is one of those classics (if you can’t get a hold of an actual copy, check out YouTube for the whole film). Not exactly my style, but I still appreciate it. 7.3 out of 10.

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The Sitter: The Fat Before the Form

Okay, so by the title you might have noticed I’m gonna focus a lot on Jonah Hill in this review. The movie is basically about him right? But unlike the woefully misinformed Rotten Tomatoes that thinks that “groundbreaking originality” is the only thing that gets a high rating (along with “the reviews” it claims), I actually kinda liked this movie. Who says that sticking to a plot device that works so well with all those other movies

Close dat mouth, tubby.

(Superbad, Knocked Up, any sort of out on the town trouble film with hijinks) is all that bad? Sure it may not be “fresh” (what the hell does fresh have to do with movies anyways?), but it sure made me laugh, the whole point of comedies, remember?

So what clicked so well with me in this movie? This is the first film where Jonah Hill gets to stand alone. No Michael Cera, no Judd Apatow cast, it’s all him. And to see a sidekick comedian like Hill perform wellis a breath of fresh air. I admit it, Superbad was a flop of a film for me, couldn’t get into it. Ever since then, sorely disappointed with Judd Apatow & gang.

Never made Minivans look so ballin’.

(And that’s from someone who considers The 40 Year Old Virgin his favorite comedy, followed closely by any Jim Carrey film.) And why did I find Jonah Hill so funny now instead of all those other times?

He embraced his inner Farley. Plain and simple.

From the first time he gets sprayed in the mouth with perfume, to getting laid out by a black chick, he kept me laughing with never-gets-old slapstick. Something you don’t see in these gross-out, absurdist films these days. He went off the rails a little bit and he looked mighty comfortable in the role he was in. I know now he’s lost weight, but he was going after it as the fat man falling through quite a bit of this movie. And still gets the chick.

So let’s back this bitch up a bit and go back to the plot. Noah (Jonah Hill; I’ve always wanted to call him that for some

Gotta be jive to stay alive (one of my favorite scenes).

reason…) is a couch potato pansy that got kicked out of college. He doesn’t do anything with his life and disappoints everyone around him. He’s capable, he just doesn’t apply himself (sounds like myself…). His dad left his mom and him for a babysitter, and he has always had an attitude since then. But it’s all going to have to change if he’s going to cover this babysitting job his mom needs him to take.

The after lights out night life.

So after meeting all the tikes, Noah gets a call from his “girlfriend” asking him to buy some blow and head on over for some sex, the first time in his life (I think…). Without thinking, Noah heads out in the baller ass mini van and hauls it all over to Craig (Sam Rockwell) in order to get the goods. What happens in the course of that ride is what makes for some pretty sticky situations. Formulaic, they may be, but decently funny all the same.

This is one of those movies that I haven’t seen since Role Models that actually had good child actors. (Ronny will never be beaten though.) Slater is played by Max Records (ironic name, no?), the kid people may remember from Where The Wild Things Are. His panic attack of a character isn’t all that funny, but more of the straight man in the group (oh the

Kaah-Kaah!

puns…). Kevin Hernandez, a kid I’ve never seen before, plays Rodrigo, the bad boy in pajamas and cowboy boots. In some strange manner, he plays the Latino stereotype everyone is afraid of, or something… I wasn’t sure. And rounding out the group was Landry Bender as Blithe, the celebrity-slut in the making. She was adorable, and, like Ronny, said some things kids basically learn from rap music. Sad.

Throw in a hilariously psycho performance from Sam Rockwell and you have a well rounded out cast. All you gotta do is add the mass amounts of African American kids that Noah went to school with and you paint a picture of an unnamed town with a nice suburban feel and

Taking him back to El Salvador, eh Jonah?

a threateningly urban vibe. Because what film would there be if Noah didn’t run into some major problems with the homies? Oh, and a bat mitzfah (did I get that right? That’s the female one… right?).

So with all the language and kids there to hear it, Jonah Hill brings this movie above decent for me to a pretty damn funny level. All the parts I saw in the trailer made me laugh just as much in the movie, and there were some great surprisingly funny scenes thrown in there as well. If you like Jonah Hill or just a decent film to laugh at, this movie should probably be on your short list of recent films to catch. I enjoyed the 90 minute semi-gut buster, and maybe you will too. 7.5 out of 10.

 


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.


Wet Hot American Summer: “I Said NO!”

My friends had talked about this movie in passing and said it was pretty damn funny. From the title, I thought it was going to be some sort of American Pie ripoff. Not being a big fan of that idea, I put off watching the movie. I put off watching it for far too long. I should’ve watched it the day it was mentioned. This commercial flop turned cult following (by me and my friends) really is a worthwhile film to watch, and then rewatch as many times as possible. This cast has a bunch of star studded comedians right before their prime, and they destroy this movie with how creatively comedic they really are. A big nod to David Wain and Michael Showalter (Of the Michael and Michael Have Issues show, a show cut too short by Comedy Central) for their great writing based on their childhood camp experiences.

This movies got a lot of moving parts going on all at once. Lots of people getting lots of face time all at once, and its mayhem and a perfect parody of a 1980’s feel good camp film. First off, every camp counselor at this movie is well into their mid 20’s, early 30’s. It’s so ridiculously misrepresented that it has to be laughed at. And the whole point of this movie, as the title implies, is about sex. It’s the last day of camp, and every camp counselor wants to get with another camp counselor. But a lot of stuff happens in this day.

All the wonderful faces of the film.

I don’t wanna delve into every funny scene or situation, so I’ll just lay down the groundwork for this film. Beth (Janeane Garofalo) is the camp director, who is a bit slow in the womanly department.  For being a feminist, this fits Garofalo’s humor quite well (I’ve loved her since Dogma). She falls in love with Henry (David Hyde Pierce), an astrophysicist who happens to be vacationing right next to the camp. His inadequacy with social situations creates some funny outbursts. Coop (Michael Showalter) is seen as the main protagonist in the film, trying to win away Katie (Marguerite Moreau) from her toolish and hilariously stereotypical boyfriend, Andy (Paul Rudd). There’s Victor (Ken Marino) and his friend Neil (Joe Lo Truglio) and the girl who comes between them and their campers when it comes to a river rafting ride. And, meanwhile, Gail (Molly Shannon), the arts and crafts counselor, is being consoled after her divorce by her campers.

A training montage for the ages, with Christopher Meloni.

There’s a lot more going on here, but you are hereby warned. There is some gay butt sex between two characters you wouldn’t expect. And, despite its tastefulness, its quite graphic in its suggestion. But throw in even more great comedic actors like Michael Ian Black, Elizabeth Banks (for sex appeal), Amy Poehler (eh, not so good…), Bradley Cooper, and Christopher Meloni as a twist in his acting style from Law and Order: SVU, and you got an all-star cast that actually has a majority of actors from Children’s Hospital on Adult Swim. Thank god for that.

This movie takes everything that John Cusack stood for in his earlier years and parodies it. For me, this was the comedic equivalent of Heavyweights. There’s the sexual/romantic undertone brought to the surface. The reversal of adults acting like children more than the campers themselves. A bit of slapstick/absurdist humor (I don’t think absurdist is a word, but it is by far the best and purest type of humor), and throw in an all day montage of drug addiction and you got yourself a cult following. Bravo for that.

Get some, Paul.

I love Paul Rudd in everything he does, and this film is no exception. Playing the “who gives a shit?” badboy with the best girlfriend who’s always mistreated is something he wouldn’t normally do. But after seeing his role in The 40 Year Old Virgin, my favorite role, this guy can do anything. And has done everything, even a bit of serious acting. Thank the Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce that I have a love for the Halloween series, so I could discover Paul Rudd sooner. Throw in Bradley Cooper in a role I found funnier than The Hangover, how great is that? And Molly Shannon, really letting her Superstar shine through in a more grown up role than she’s done in a while, how classy. I could rave on and on about the comedic actors in the film, but I’ll cut this short before my grandstanding this film gets out of hand.

All you really need to do is get on Netflix, or buy this movie off Amazon, and you won’t be disappointed. It has humor for everyone and a cast you can’t help but love. In David Wain’s fashion, he created a precursor to Role Models that I wish I had found when I was 12 when this movie came out. (A bit young for it, I know). But any sort of comedic inspiration such as this needs to be taken in and developed into a greater body of humor. Campy, B-rated, absurdist humor. I’ll take another helping of that, and I’ll take that prequel to this film you’ve been talking about, David Wain. Just bring on the humor some more. A well deserved, cult following 8.6 out of 10. (If you’re into my kind of humor, Meet the Spartans, Dumb & Dumber, 40 Year Old Virgin Style. Or some similar combo.)

Thanks David Wain!


Baby’s Day Out: My Slapstick Childhood Returns

I love this movie poster.

The second I saw that this film came on Netflix, I pooped my pants, very similar to what Baby Bink would’ve done (although they’re 18 now…) . This movie made me laugh so hard when I was younger and I really found it to be an endearing movie for children of all ages. Heck, I’m 21 now and I enjoyed it just as much as when I was 8. The Worton twins are adorable and have great movie presence for how young they are. It may have taken a lot of shots to get those adorable faces to do what they wanted, but they got the right shots. My childhood was not soon forgotten when I watched this movie again. I remembered every part.

Baby’s Day Out is the story of a baby in a suburb of Chicago. With his well-to-do family always wanting their child to be the center of attention, Laraine (Lara Flynn Boyle) and Bennington (Matthew Glave) want Bink’s picture in the newspaper. (They use such pretentious names to show that all they care about is high class image and money.) Three no-good lousy crooks find the photography company and take their place, posing as professionals. Their names? Joe Matengna, Joe Pantoliano, and Brian Haley. If only they could’ve gotten a third Joe/Italian gangster to fill out the trio…

The dastardly trio.

Baby Bink is kidnapped and the crooks demand a ransom. With the FBI on the job (such a high class mission right?), it’s only a matter of time before Baby Bink is found. But Baby Bink doesn’t need their help. He has the power of comedic timing and slapstick comedy and wit on his side. And this is the exact point where a lot of critics were lost on finding this film redeemable. It is cheesy, but at least they got a good cast to fill out the humor. Look, this is Joe Pantoliano, before Joe Pantoliano was Cypher from The Matrix. Yes, he did good work before, and after, but that was when Pantoliano came into my awareness.

Look at this cute baby. Staring death in the face.

And I have no problem with the cheesiness of this film. It can be cheddar for all I care, this movie appeals to the child’s audience and the child in all of us. And my inner child tells me I loved slapstick back in the day. This movie delivers it well, just like Home Alone. And apparently this did well in the box office… And in Southeast Asia… Weird.

So bring in the wonderful elements of great Italian actors, slapstick, and a cute baby, and this movie is gold. It is so endearing and the music sweeps you away into the children’s book that Bink is reliving. That’s what I liked about it, that element of magical whimsy. The magical sense of adventure that lies in the bottoms of all of our hearts is reinvigorated by a baby crawling around Chicago. Who knew?

This gets a bit ridonkulously funny.

And there are so many great scenes! The apartment rooftop scene screams of parkour gone wrong. (Just watched District 13: Ultimatum. Can’t get Parkour out of my head.) Matengna delivers his big boss with a boo-boo lines so well and, surprisingly, Pantoliano is a great buffoon. I love that he’s bald in this like he always is, it gives a great slapstick element to the trio. My favorite scene in the Primate house is wonderful and gets me every time. Not to mention the fire crotch scene (you’ll get what I mean when you watch this too and relive your childhood). With all things good and cute in this movie, who wouldn’t want to watch this for the coo’s and awwwww’s, mixed with a laugh in there for all ages? It’s a wonderfully nostalgic experience. A well worth it 8.6 out of 10 (by my childhood grading scale).

Look at this cute face. Check it.


Gnomeo & Juliet

This cute little film filled with British actors takes a new look at the story of Romeo and Juliet and uses a British topic of interest. Garden gnomes. (Not sure if a lo of Brits have these, but it’d be interesting to see some U.K. gardens.) I watched this with my mom (U.K. T.V. analyst and fellow blogger) mostly for James McAvoy’s voice talents. We’re both fans, but for slightly different reasons. (Not really though, he is pretty dreamy.) This tragic William Shakespeare story is turned on its head (as the poster suggests) with a cute plot device using warring gardens who happen to be owned by Miss Montague (Julie Walters, good old Mrs. Weasley) of the “Blue”burys and Mr. Capulet (Richard Wilson) of the “Red”bricks.

Set apart from typical Pixar and Dreamworks films, this film takes its own approach to animation in the 3-D. Although

McEvoy and Blunt as the disguised Gnomeo and Juliet

Touchstone and Miramax do good animated films, this British touch to the way things looked was refreshing, at the same time that it seemed a bit off in its sharpness and cutting edge-i-ness. But it’s all the same to me these days, what with all these mass amounts of animal infested, fantastical adventures films made for kids and adults in 3-D animation. (I would recommend Rio though, it was quite a cast and story.) But the story stands out in comparison to the lack of pizzazz in the animation, and gave it some credibility.

Warring gardens with love in the mix.

So as expected, the story follows quite closely to the original Romeo and Juliet plot line. (Less death unfortunately.) The warring families led by Lord Rebrick (Michael Caine) who’s Juliet’s (Emily Blunt) father and Lady Bluebury (Maggie Smith) who’s Gnomeo’s (James McAvoy) mother despise each other for reasons that seem a bit hazy. The real test between the families is whose garden is superior. One night, in order to impress her father, Juliet sneaks out of the garden in order to retrieve a beautiful flower to spruce up the garden. Surprise, surprise, Gnomeo sneaks out as well for some mischief. The two cross paths, sparks fly, and their love is forever fated.

But oh the problems that ensue. One’s red and the other’s blue! What will they do? Their love is forbidden and they may only meet in secrecy. And there must be some conflict that arises when their love is discovered! And yes, there is. This version doesn’t disappoint and how could it? True British actors are tackling a fellow countryman’s play.

Now let’s talk about the cast. I was quite surprised at the acting chops associated with this film, and every last one a Brit! Of course there’s the two star-crossed

Sorry Jim Cummings you just missed the mark.

lovers, James McAvoy and Emily Blunt as Gnomeo and Juliet. Maggie Smith and Michael Caine lend their voices to their parents as some veterans of the BBC business. Also, and more unexpectedly, Jason Statham is featured in this film as Tybalt the red menace of the Montague house. I was really surprised to discover this after a few Transporter lines were delivered. I just can’t seem to grip the idea that Jason Statham is British! Matt Lucas, the good old Little Britains sketch comedy genius of the hairless kind lends a generically comedic voice to Benny, Gnomeo’s number 2. Even Patrick Stewart (Will Shakes himself) and OZZY OSBOURNE himself lends his voice to this film, as a ceramic fawn!

Thanks to this British cast for the cute film!

The only miss in this film is Jim Cummings as the pink flamingo garden ornament. His annoying attempt at some sort of foreign bird just loses it for me, because, to put it bluntly, didn’t deliver a funny line. This is quite disappointing as Jim Cummings has been in the Disney voice business since the early 90’s.

But all in all, this cute film about what our gardens hold delivers a nice little escape from reality for 75 minutes. With the occasional grown up joke and slapstick comedy, mixed with witty uses of the gnomes and what they’d be like if they could move (Toy Story style), this movie delivers a bit of entertainment worth a watch if you’re into British accents or children’s love/comedy/adventure films. 6 out of 10.

AND DID I MENTION THAT THE FILMED IS FUELED BY A ELTON JOHN SCORE AND SOUNDTRACK?!?!?


Rush Hour 2: Chris Tucker Returns

So right after watching the first Rush Hour, I was like, “Let’s spark up the next one.” These movies are great and I need to watch them all in pretty rapid order. I mean, come on, it’s Chris Tucker. And you may be postulating, “What if the movie was called Traffic Jam and it starred Jet Li and Chris Rock?” Well I hear what you’re saying friend, but then we’re talking about a movie that’s not funny in which people die quite quickly. Call it Traffic Jam if you’d like, I’ll still go for Rush Hour 1-3.

So, basic plot. Detectives Carter (Chris Tucker) and Lee (Jackie Chan) have teamed up again, except this time, it’s different. (Straight out of the trailer, right?) This time, Detective Carter is on vacation, right where the last one dropped off, in China. Good old Hong Kong. But while there, a bomb goes off on U.S. soil at the local American Embassy, and somebody sinister is to blame. Detective Lee takes on the case, pulling along the constantly, yet hilariously bitching and moaning Carter as they cavort through the streets of Hong Kong (and later Las Vegas) in search of those no good hoodlums.

Now this movie is a step up in acting in comparison from the last movie. Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan are golden. We lose Tom Wilkinson as Juntao, but we gain John Lone as Ricky Tan, the triad boss and former friend of Detective Lee’s father (although I would find it hard to believe that Lee and Tan are actually closer in age than would be Lee’s father…) I didn’t realize how great

John Lone

John Lone really was. He’s been in War, (shortly after RH2) The Last Emperor, Year of the Dragon, and even a remake at the start of his career as a bit piece in King Kong (Chinese cook, 1976). Now that’s a great career if you ask me, especially The Last Emperor, that movie’s fantastic.

What surprised me more that I had forgotten about was that Ziyi Zhang is in this film. With all the movies she’s been in, I feel like she must be the pride and joy of China (besides Jackie Chan). But Ziyi is great as Hu Li, the badass woman who takes no crap and destroys Chris Tucker. I actually would love to take a second to recap her amazing career:

Ziyi Zhang. Yes.

1. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Ridiculously good)

2. Rush Hour 2 (Great, reviewing it currently)

3. The Warrior

4. Hero (She’s worked with Jackie Chan AND Jet Li)

5. House of Flying Daggers (SO visually appealing)

6. Memoirs of a Geisha (Award winning)

7. Even TMNT (Voice acting at its finest)

So yeah, I would definitely think that Ziyi Zhang is a big deal. Her fighting is great and she’s really beautiful. Definite Top 10 actresses in my book.

We also have the amazingly gorgeous Roselyn Sanchez, the Puerto Rican goddess who has done her fair share of acting. She plays the sassy, no

Roselyn Sanchez. Puerto Rican Goddess

nonsense undercover agent with a smokin’ body, Isabella Molina. Although she doesn’t come in until later, this woman definitely lights up the screen.

Again, this movie is classic, suave, and full of Chris Tucker in a robe. What more could you want, I’ll throw something your way, sir. Comedy. And Chris Tucker has it all. Black comedy, situational quips and humor, observational comedy, rapport, slapstick. He’s got all that shizz on lockdown. Talk about your A-list comedian. The buck stops here with Chris Tucker.

Only the best.

I really feel like Brett Ratner and Ross LaManna have done it again with the sequel to a great movie. The moves and stunts this time are tighter, faster. Chris Tucker has picked up some moves. The Chinese girls are hot, spicy even. Ziyi Zhang brings a new kind of evil to the screen. The plot thickens and then disperses. And I can’t wait for the next one. 7.7 out of 10.