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Non-Review Review: The Happytime Murders

The Happytime Murders may be the worst film of the year.

There are any number of issues with The Happytime Murders. The film is only ninety one minutes long, but feels interminable. The film has no idea what it is about in any meaningful sense, beyond assembling a number of familiar tropes in a very familiar way. Beyond that, the film seems to believe that rehashing familiar clichés is amusing of itself, some sort of self-aware postmodern ironic anti-comedy where the reference to the thing is enough of itself to become a joke.

It really blows.

A larger problem is that the film assumes that seeing puppets do “adult” things has greater novelty than it does. The Happytime Murders is a film that is consciously powered by the juvenile thrill of watching beloved children’s characters caught in inappropriate situations – swearing at one another, smoking cigarettes, engaging in vigorous sexual activity. This glosses over the fact that there are plenty of other media that has already covered this ground. The Happytime Murders runs on a joke that has already been repeated and rehashed several times.

However, all of these concerns distract from the biggest issue with The Happytime Murders. It is just not funny.

The boy in blue.

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Star Trek – The Trouble With Tribbles (Review)

The first Star Trek pilot, The Cage, was produced in 1964. To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, this December we are reviewing the second season of the original Star Trek show. You can check out our first season reviews here. Check back daily for the latest review.

This is a classic.

The Trouble With Tribbles is an episode that can make a legitimate claim to being the best episode of Star Trek, if not the best episode of the entire franchise. It is a genuine classic in countless ways, perfectly embodying so much of what makes Star Trek classic and iconic and loved. David Gerrold’s script, polished by Gene Coon, is easily the best comedy episode that the franchise has ever produced, but never at the expense of the show’s credibility. The Trouble With Tribbles may be silly, but it is also very clever and insightful.

Nobody knows the Tribbles I've seen...

Nobody knows the Tribbles I’ve seen…

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Peer Gynt by Rough Magic (Review)

Peer Gynt can be a daunting play to put on. Running at five hours, it’s a show that tests your audience’s bladder control at least as much as their patience. Still, it’s one of those absolutely wonderful fantasy stories that demands retelling and reimagining, with a wonderfully raw quality to it as it is passed down and filtered through countless interpretations. Rough Magic have produced a rather wonderful version of the story as part of the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival, playing at Belvedere College. It an impressive and engaging take on a classic story, working off a new version by writer Arthur Riordan.

Peerless?

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Justice League International: Volume 4 (Hardcover) (Review/Retrospective)

In light of the massive DC reboot taking place next month, launching with a Geoff Johns and Jim Lee run on a new Justice League title, I thought I’d take a look back at another attempt to relaunch the Justice League, emerging from the then-recent Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Hm. Typical. Just as DC stops collecting Justice League International in these nice little hardcovers, I find that the series is getting back into the sort of swing and rhythm that I really loved about the superb first volume, but which became hard to maintain in equilibrium through the second and third collections. The last two books have veered just a little bit too much into sit-com territory for me. Don’t get me wrong, I like the humour that Giffen and deMatteis bring to the book, but I think it works better as a counterbalance to some nice superhero spectacle or drama, rather than being allowed to run free. The wonderfully wicked, occasionally subversive and often amusing sense of humour is in full effect in this collection, but it also features some nice character-centred storytelling, the type of refreshingly not-too-serious, but never completely out of control, approach that made the first few issues so damn appealing.

The new line-up...?

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Non-Review Review: Gentlemen Broncos

I’m going to be a bit of killer jo here and admit that I didn’t really “get” Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre, so it’s no surprise that the latest movie from the creative team leaves me cold. That sort of overly understated sense of humour feels a bit old at this stage, as if we’ve seen it once too often. There’s a sense that the movie somehow recognises this, and decided to augment those awkward silences with incredibly gross and juvenile humour.

Grabbing the stag by the horns...

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The Simpsons Myth: Was It Really That Much Better in the Past?

It’s one of those things that, repeated often enough, becomes the truth. The Simpsons were funnier in the old days. In fact, limping into its twenty-first season, there are probably die-hard fans out there looking for what they might deem a “mercy killing” from Fox, and the vast majority of us have just really stopped watching. However, as I went back this week and re-evaluated all the Futurama movies, it got me thinking: is it really fair to make the argument that The Simpsons aren’t as good as they once were?

It's a tough balancing act...

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In Good Humour: The Calamatous Case of the Comedy Classics…

The wonderful lads over at Anomalous Materials are running a tournament over the summer to find the best comedy of all time. Think of it as a world cup, for film nerds. However, the competition – like our quad-annual footie fest – has had its share of upsets. Most notable in an early round where Galaxy Quest triumphed over Some Like it Hot or the trumping of Arsenic and Old Lace by A Fish Called Wanda another day (the same day The General went home empty handed, losing to Mrs. Doubtfire) or Bringing Up Baby getting trounced by Little Miss Sunshine. There are more borderline cases, with The Apartment beating The Circus or The Great Dictator losing to The Graduate. However, the only victory for a “classic” classic film I could find was that of City Lights over A Christmas Story. This sparked a bit of discussion between those taking part (which is, in fairness, the rather wonderful thing about events like this), but it got us wondering: Is comedy a fickle mistress? Has what the audience expected from a comedy changed dramatically with the times? Are what many consider to be “classics” of the genre subject to this winds of change and popular taste?

Modern Times are tough for Charlie...

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