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Non-Review Review: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

Ben Stiller recently explained that he was growing more interested in directing and less interested in acting in front of the camera. Even if he hadn’t confessed that in an interview, it would be hard to shake that feeling while watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It’s beautifully shot and contains a number of impressive sequences and set pieces, but ultimately feels a little hollow – like a beautifully-sketched picture inhabited by two-dimensional characters.

There are moments of splendor and beauty to be found in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, but often in spite Steve Conrad’s script rather than because of it.

Daydream believer...

Daydream believer…

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Non-Review Review: Despicable Me 2

Despicable Me 2 doesn’t quite have the same charm as Despicable Me. It’s not that there’s any aspect of the production that is noticeably weaker, it’s just that the original film had a much stronger hook. The story of a supervillain who adopts three young girls as a means to an end, only to find himself coming to care for those kids, might seem a bit cliché (okay, it might sound a lot cliché), but it worked because the film had a solid emotional core.

Despicable Me 2 doesn’t have the same emotional core or stakes. There are subplots and character development (with the sequel going to a lot of effort to make sure almost every returning character has something to do), but the stakes don’t seem quite as high. It’s stunningly well-animated, it’s consistently funny and the cast are as charming as ever, but it just feels a tiny bit shallower than the first film.

You're hot and you're cold...

You’re hot and you’re cold…

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Despicable Me 2 Trailer

Universal Pictures Ireland just sent on this trailer for Despicable Me 2, the sequel to the very soldi animated film starring Steve Carrell. This time, Carrell is joined by Al Pacino, which I am actually quite excited about. There’s no denying Pacino’s contributions to modern cinema, but at this point in his career Pacino is at his best when he’s gloriously chewing down on the scenery. Given his voice can be downright bombastic (“HOOO-ah!”) at times, casting him as an over-the-top supervillain in an animated film seems pretty ideal.

The trailer doesn’t offer any hints to Pacino’s role. Instead, like the Ice Age trailers, it focuses more on the engaging supporting characters – “the minions.” I like the minions, if only because they lend themselves well to broad physical comedy, in a way this isn’t really all that challenging but is quite effective. The trailer doesn’t really offer anything new in that regard, but it’s still charming enough. Silly golf clothes are always funny, and Tubular Bells always brings a smile to my face. Check out the trailer below.

Non-Review Review: Extract

I’m honestly not quite sure what to make of Extract. Ironically for a movie about a factor producing flavour additives, the movie seems lack a flavour of its own. Is Mike Judge’s effort a quirky and eccentric anything-goes laugh-out-loud fest, or is it a more conventional cookie-cutter comedy? The film seems to fluctuate between the two extremes, at times playing incredible safe and yet occasionally swinging for the fences, adding to a vaguely disjointed feeling to the whole thing.

Meeting of the bored...

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Non-Review Review: Bridesmaids

It’s kinda interesting. Bridesmaids opens over here a month or so after it does in the States, so I’ve had the opportunity to pick up quite a significant amount of chatter on the film, as a good film tends to attract on the information super highway. Most of the discussion around the film has been centred around the movie’s gross-out humour, with reviews branding it as The Hangover in heels”or some such, and a great deal of discussion focusing on the fact that it demonstrates women can do that sort of disgusting and crass physical comedy. Such a discussion seems to be just a little bit over-the-top, as the movie really only features three absurdly crass set pieces (one of which admittedly opens the film, another competes with anything else in a comedy this year, and the third is tucked away in the credits) – so much so I doubt anyone would bat their eye if the same level of juvenile conduct were contained in a film about a bunch of dudes. It’s a damn shame that this seems to monopolise the conversation on Bridesmaids, because it’s actually just a really good film.

Maids of honour?

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Non-Review Review: Whip It

Whip It is sort of an inverse version of the Billy Elliot story. In that film, a young boy horrifies his family by wanting to practice ballet. In this film, a young woman shocks her mother by becoming a roller derby celebrity. Featuring the directorial debut of Drew Barrymore, Whip It is a fairly formulaic and straightforward little coming-of-age and self-discovery movie with a quirky angle and a plucky protagonist, but it’s also rather well handled and quite charming.

Whipping the team into shape...

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Non-Review Review: MacGruber

MacGruber features a villain whose surname is “Cunth”. That is the litmus test to see whether the movie will appeal to you.

Has MacGruber got a wire loose?

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