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Non-Review Review: Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

There is something subversive lurking at the heart of Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.

The film’s single best gag comes very early in the film, putting a wry twist on audience expectations. The movie’s opening credits feature the eponymous characters at a number of family occasions; birthday parties, weddings. Like any pair of overgrown manchildren, Mike and Dave imagine themselves to the be the life of the party. And, for the length of the opening credits, the audience is invited to see them in that manner. Their dance moves look impressive. Their costumes are fabulous. They brought their own fireworks. These guys, they know how to party.

More like "Wedding Crushers", am I right?

More like “Wedding Crushers”, am I right?

In another comedy about arrested masculine development, that would be the end of it. The credits would establish the pair as the life and soul of any social gathering and maybe need to learn to balance that with some maturity. It is to the credit of Mike and Dave Need Weeding Dates that the film returns to that montage quite quickly. Insisting that the boys behave themselves at their sisters’ wedding, the duo object and insist that they are the party. “We thought you might say that,” remarks their father, reaching for the home media system.

The film then proceeds to demonstrate what happened directly after the impressive shots from the opening credits. There is devastation. There is catastrophe. There are broken bodies. Dave protests that this is not at all representative, and demands that their father edit back in the “epic tracking shots” that showcase how cool they are. It is the movie’s strongest moment, a skilful subversion of a comedy standard that suggests Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates might have a much better sense of irony than its two lead characters.

Mike and Dave need to have a long conversation about the direction their life has taken.

Mike and Dave need to have a long conversation about the direction their life has taken.

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Millennium – Gehenna (Review)

This February and March, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fourth season of The X-Files and the first season of Millennium.

Written by Chris Carter and directed by David Nutter, Gehenna feels very much like a continuation of The Pilot.

More to the point, it feels like a restatement of many of the key themes of The Pilot, an attempt to reinforce many of the core ideas in that first episode, and hint at something larger. In many ways, it is about ensuring that Millennium retains its identity as it transitions from a pilot that had a relatively relaxed schedule and high budget into a weekly (well, eight-day) production schedule. Gehenna is about Carter and Nutter proving that Millennium can do what it wants and needs to do week-in and week-out, while also indicating towards larger threads.

Touching (or, at least, seeing) evil...

Touching (or, at least, seeing) evil…

This isn’t a bad way to approach the first regular episode of a television series. Indeed, Carter had done something similar with The Pilot and Deep Throat on The X-Files, structuring the episodes as a one-two punch of reinforced themes and world-building. Gehenna is very much about convincing the audience that The Pilot was not just a flash in the pan, and that the series has a long clear arc ahead of it. Much like Deep Throat really sketched the outline of the alien conspiracy only hinted at in The Pilot, Gehenna features more than a few nods towards a larger evil at work in Frank’s world.

There are points where Gehenna feels a little bit too forced, and a little bit too eager to restate and repeat the themes and ideas of The Pilot. However, it is an interesting episode that does hint towards the show’s future in a number of interesting ways.

Ear today...

Ear today…

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Non-Review Review: Fast Five

Fast Five reminds me a lot of the kinds of cars that its leads drive. Now, please excuse me if the metaphor is a bit clunky. I know nothing of cars. However, whenever we cut to inside one of these enhanced driving machines, it’s clear that virtually every unnecessary component has been stripped out in order to make room for more relevant pieces of equipment. The passenger seat, for example, has been removed and replaced with some canisters I can only assume allow the car to go faster. In many ways, Fast Five feels a bit like that. I knows exactly the film that it wants to be, and it knows exactly what it needs to be that sort of film. Anything else – whether wit, sophistication or character development – is all just dead weight between fast one-liners, impressive action sequences and effective stunt work. And, I am not ashamed to admit, I actually quite enjoyed it on its own terms.

Let’s Rock ‘n’ Roll…

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Musicals For Macho, Macho Men…

A trend I’ve noticed appearing over the last few years is the none-too-subtle attempt to genre-shift movies away from the stereotypical audience demographics associated with those genres to other stereotypical audience demographics. I’m speaking of course of the trend to sell movie genres that have generally been associated as ‘chick fare’ to ‘manly men’. At the moment we have the news that a manly manly musical is being adapted to big screen by Hairspray helmer Adam Shankman – Rock of Ages will be a jukebox musical featuring artists like Journey or Twisted Sister and appears to be a blatant play for the middle age male audience.

Rock on, man...

Rock on, man...

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A Man’s Mann…

I have to confess I was not overly impressed with Public Enemies. In fairness, it was mostly down to the choices Mann made in filming the work – the high definition cameras and the insistence on shakey hand held movement. You might argue that it was a choice designed to place us in the real world of the Great Depression – to put us on the streets with Dillinger and immerse us in his world rather than the sanitised grandiose version of the 1930’s that typically finds its way on to our screens. This ignores one fundamental fact about Mann’s film making: it is no less grandiose or fantastic than those myths of times past. Mann is a film maker who works best exploring the dynamics of a masculine ideal that never existed. His male characters are drawn in the mold of a classic image that never actually existed.

I'll bet Pacino ordered the Large Ham. Overdone. VERY LOUDLY!

I'll bet Pacino ordered the Large Ham. Overdone. VERY LOUDLY!

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