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Non-Review Review: A Simple Favour

At one point around the two-thirds mark of the film, an insurance claims investigator offers a recap of all the twists and turns of A Simple Favour to that point. “It’s bananas!” she observes.

She’s not wrong. A Simple Favour is modern film noir with a pitch black sense of humour, populated with two femme fatales and driven with an infectious enthusiasm. It is not a parody or a deconstruction of the genre, but instead a demented celebration. This is a film that revels in the tropes and the conventions of these sorts of layoured labyrinthine narratives, processing all the sharp turns and wacky reveals with an eager (and effectively disconcerting) smile on its face.

Picture perfect.

A Simple Favour often feels like an extended homage to the work of Gillian Flynn, filtered through the lens of Paul Feig. This combination works very well, going down like the kind of martini served in a freezing glass with ice-cold gin. Both Flynn and Feig share an acerbic sense of humour, and tendency to pick at the gender roles usually assigned by society. A Simple Favour might share some of its DNA with Gone Girl or Sharp Objects, but it also feels like the vicious and biting younger sibling of Bridesmaids or Spy.

A Simple Favour does suffer a little bit from the comparisons to Flynn’s work, and occasionally veers slightly too far into broad comedy, but it is powered by a sophisticated charm threaded with a pitch black sense of humour.

Red flags.

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Non-Review Review: Spy

Spy is broad, but it is funny. It might just be the best collaboration between director Paul Feig and actress Melissa McCarthy.

Feig reteams with McCarthy following on from the critical and commercial successes of Bridesmaids and The Heat. Both films were frequently cited as leading a new wave in female-led comedy, proving that audiences and critics would respond to classic comedy movie tropes executed with a largely female cast. Although Spy features an ensemble that is more gender-balanced, it remains a feminist comedy. Feig’s screenplay is never heavy-handed in its gender politics, but it wryly aware of how its female characters are wading into a traditionally masculine space.

I spy a winner...

I spy a winner…

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Non-Review Review: The Heat

At one point in The Heat, Officer Mullins offers her new partner a sandwich. It’s been there all week, but it’s okay. “It’s cheese,” Mullins asserts. “It never goes off.” In a single line, Mullins accounts for the strange charm of The Heat, a film that isn’t consistently hilarious or shockingly innovative, but manages to pack a reasonable number of laughs into an admittedly overlong runtime. The Heat feels like a nostalgic trip back to the era of the buddy comedy.

The soundtrack is saturated with hits of the early nineties – at one point Mullins and Ashburn dance to Groove is in the Heart, while at another the duo bust a party boat (the “U.S.S. Tanked”) as it plays We Like to Party (The Vengabus). The Heat is pretty much the most stereotypical police buddy comedy you could imagine, with only the novelty of being headlined by two well-respect female comedians to distinguish it.

That’s not a bad thing. There are worse comedic combinations than Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. The problem is that The Heat never challenges the duo. There’s a sense the pair could have made the film in their sleep.

Never mind the Bullock...

Never mind the Bullock…

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