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New Podcast! Scannain Podcast (2019) #1!

Happy New Year! It’s time for the latest Scannain podcast!

This week, I join Grace Duffy, Ronan Doyle and Jay Coyle to discuss the week in film news. As the first podcast we’ve recorded in three weeks, since the end-of-year spectacular back in December, there is a lot to talk about. And so we do! Everything from T2 Trainspotting to Bird Box to Bandersnatch to The Dead, it’s an eclectic selection of films. It includes some of the new releases that we didn’t get to cover over the break, including Life Itself and Welcome to Marwen.

There is also understandably a lot of ground to cover. In awards season news, the success of The Favourite at both the Golden Globes and in the BAFTA nominations. The various Oscar-season gossip, including the success of Bohemian Rhapsody, the chaos around Green Book, Kevin Hart’s controversy and the decision to go hostless. Closer to home, there was an acknowledgement of James Hickey’s decision to step down at the end of his term as head of Screen Ireland and a brief discussion of the Dublin Bowie Festival.

The top ten:

  1. Holmes and Watson
  2. Bohemian Rhapsody
  3. The Grinch
  4. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
  5. Wreck-It Ralph 2: Ralph Breaks the Internet
  6. Aquaman
  7. The Favourite
  8. Andre Rieu’s 2019 New Year Concert From Sydney
  9. Bumblebee
  10. Mary Poppins Returns

New releases:

You can download the episode here, or listen to it below.

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Non-Review Review: Night School

Night School works better than it probably should, while never quite escaping its fundamental flaws.

Night School suffers from a lot of the structural issues that affect modern studio comedies. Most obviously, the film feels over-extended. It’s not just the run time, which clocks in at a muscular one-hundred-and-ten minutes, which is asking a lot for a broad comedy with a very simple premise. It is the individual jokes within the comedy, which are often stretched to breaking point and beyond. Perhaps the most egregious example is an early gag about finding hair in food at a restaurant, which goes on for what feels like five minutes built around the same standard social set-up.

To teach’s own.

There are very few major surprises in Night School. There are a few small and smart ideas buried in the mix, but they often feel crowded out by the broad jokes and the familiar clichés. There’s a recurring sense that Night School doesn’t always play to its strengths, at least below the headline. At the same time, the film understands that it lives or dies by the chemistry between its two leads, offering a conventional persona-driven conflict of manners that places Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish in opposition to one another before inevitably moving them into alignment.

Night School is diverting, if unsatisfying. It manages a passing grade, if little more.

Hart to Hart.

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Non-Review Review: The Wedding Ringer

The bromantic wedding comedy is a fairly reliable comedy subgenre; but it is also one that requires a great deal of care. Producing a comedy about weddings can be something of a minefield; it is very easy to play into the familiar gendered stereotypes the controlling fiancée or the disengaged husband-to-be. The Wedding Ringer is an addition to the rapidly-growing subgenre that focuses on a stereotypically masculine perception of “the big day” – wondering what the groom makes of festivities.

The Wedding Ringer comes packed with awkward gender truisms. At one point, professional best man Jimmy Callahan (head of “TBM – The Best Man Inc.”) is confronted by his assistant Doris Jenkins. Doris explains to Jimmy that male and female relationships work differently; that it is tough for men to acknowledge emotion and to connect with one another. This is perhaps the most dialogue that The Wedding Ringer affords any female character in any one scene.

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“Weddings are for the woman,” Jimmy assures his client, Doug Harris, in one scene. It seems like a stock stereotype that the movie is setting up to subvert – that Jimmy and Doug will eventually learn (in a “knowing is half the battle” sort of way) that marriage is a two-person enterprise that becomes shared at the moment of union. Instead, The Wedding Ringer never shifts its position. The Wedding Ringer sticks to its guns, hitting all the plot beats that one might expect from a movie espousing that philosophy.

Kevin Hart works the material as best he can, and The Wedding Ringer works best when it allows itself to drift from its central premise. However, it is weighed down by a clunky script and a decidedly mean-spirited world-view.

theweddingringer1 Continue reading