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Non-Review Review: We’re the Millers

We’re the Millers is a fairly humorous premise extended well past breaking point. The basic set-up (a bunch of strangers pretend to be a family to smuggle drugs into the United States) is a solid enough starting point for a comedy, but We’re the Millers often feels like it’s running on fumes trying to stretch the gag out. There are long lulls of the film where nothing seems to happen, and entire subplots that seem grafted in simply to eat up precious minutes. Does the film really need a teenage romance subplot?

We’re the Millers has a few hilarious moments, and Jason Sudeikis and Jennifer Aniston have enough charm that it’s never too painful to watch, but the film’s extended runtime means that its cynical premise can only maintain its wry thrust for so long before it’s brought down to Earth by the oppressive weight of sentimentality. For a film that starts out cheeky and subversive, the movie meanders into sappy and cheesy territory with considerable speed.

Family fun...

Family fun…

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Non-Review Review: The Hangover, Part III

There was a time when The Hangover seemed like a breath of fresh air. It wasn’t so much an original story or set-up. Rather, it was a devil-may-care attitude and unrepentant immaturity. It was bold and it was willing to do absolutely anything it needed to in order to get a laugh. It worked because of that sheer commitment and energy, energy that is mostly absent from this final instalment. “Leslie Chow is madness,” a character boasts at the climax of the film, talking about one of the franchise’s popular recurring characters – but he may as well be talking about the film itself. “You don’t talk to madness,” he insists. “You lock it in your trunk…”

It’s a nice call back to the very first film and the first time we met Ken Jeong’s “Mr. Chow”, but it also speaks to the weaknesses of The Hangover, Part III. Somewhere along the way, the madness was lost. The high-octane “anything can happen” spirit of the original film leaked out of the two sequels. I’m fonder of The Hangover, Part II than most, but it is a cheap imitation, a repeat of a joke that was hilarious the first time and passable a second.

It’s to the credit of Todd Phillips that he doesn’t try to emulate the same formula a third time. I appreciate that a few efforts are made to push the trilogy into a shape resembling a circle, but it feels so much more contained and so much more rote than it did all those years ago.

I wouldn't get too excited, Alan...

I wouldn’t get too excited, Alan…

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Non-Review Review: Jeff Who Lives at Home

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2012. As the movie’s getting a delayed Irish release this weekend, I thought I’d share it again.

There’s a common misconception about the films of Mark and Jay Duplass. It’s easy to confuse their films with comedies. Just look at the cast they assembled for Cyrus, including Jonah Hill and John C. Reilly (with Marisa Tomei taking home her Oscar for a comedic turn in My Cousin Vinny), or even the one they’ve gathered here. After all, Jason Segel is still most recognisable from How I Met Your Mother or The Muppets or Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Ed Helms’ filmography includes The Office and The Hangover and Cedar Rapids. While Jay and Mark Duplass include a wonderful amount of humour in their work, it tends to distract away from their core themes or ideas. Beneath the awkward triangle in Cyrus, there’s a coming-of-age family drama. Underneath the witty exterior of Jeff Who Lives at Home, there’s a sincere and optimistic romantic drama. And I’m a sucker for romantic drama.

Rub a dub dub, two men in a tub…

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Non-Review Review: Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids is a charming little film, even if it seems to struggle a bit blending its drama and its comedy. Despite unfolding at an insurance corporate conference, there’s a lot of very sincere and very earnest observations contained in the film, as we watch small-town insurance salesman Tim Lippe expand his world view. (Not just figuratively, but literally – the film features the character’s first trip on an airplane, for example.) While the movie’s sincerity and respect for the naive small-town operator lends the movie a bit of weight, the film struggles to balance that earnestness with a very immature sense of humour. The resulting cocktail isn’t always smooth, but it’s always fascinating, and director Miguel Arteta populates the film with a talented cast who help keep it all together.

It never really embraces its drama or its comedy...

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Non-Review Review: Jeff Who Lives at Home

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2012.

There’s a common misconception about the films of Mark and Jay Duplass. It’s easy to confuse their films with comedies. Just look at the cast they assembled for Cyrus, including Jonah Hill and John C. Reilly (with Marisa Tomei taking home her Oscar for a comedic turn in My Cousin Vinny), or even the one they’ve gathered here. After all, Jason Segel is still most recognisable from How I Met Your Mother or The Muppets or Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Ed Helms’ filmography includes The Office and The Hangover and Cedar Rapids. While Jay and Mark Duplass include a wonderful amount of humour in their work, it tends to distract away from their core themes or ideas. Beneath the awkward triangle in Cyrus, there’s a coming-of-age family drama. Underneath the witty exterior of Jeff Who Lives at Home, there’s a sincere and optimistic romantic drama. And I’m a sucker for romantic drama.

Rub a dub dub, two men in a tub...

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Non-Review Review: The Hangover, Part II

“It happened again,” Phil whines over the phone to his buddy’s wife during the opening sequence of The Hangover, Part II. Of course it did, that’s the entire point of the sequel. The movie unashamed offers fans pretty much what they might expect from the sequel to a relatively high concept comedy: “more of the same.” That’s not necessarily a bad thing – moments of the film had me rolling around from side to side to side, attempting to figure out if it was hilarious or just plain wrong – but it does mean the film lacks a lot of the originality and sense of freshness that made the first one such a beloved comedy classic.

Bangkok Dangerous?

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Non-Review Review: The Hangover

We caught a late screening of The Hangover at Cineworld last night – which started ten minutes late and had twenty minutes of trailers attachmed (most of which were for movies that didn’t look particularly interesting), which led to us missing our rides home by about five minutes, but that’s a different rant. Still, it was kinda total worth it – like the eponymous hangover itself.

Three Men and a Baby it is not...

Three Men and a Baby it is not...

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