Sunday, 14 June 2015

No.221 : We Bought a Zoo

We Bought a Zoo at the IMDb

This likeable family comedy drama tells the true tale of an American family who buy a zoo. What? It was British people and the action has been changed to make it look like Americans are the heroes? It’s U-571 all over again!

To be fair I wasn't looking for a documentary of the economics of purchasing a zoo so let’s see if it’s entertaining at least.

Matt Damon plays Benjamin who is all sad after his wife died before the action started. He is caring for his two kids, one of who is a cutie pie small girl and the other a dickish teenage boy who gets expelled from school for stealing and being a gun toting psycho in waiting.  He enlists the help of an estate agent but rather than a helpful one he gets Leon out of ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ who manages to stop swearing for his short part. After literary a few houses they are bereft of hope but wait, there’s one left! - but it’s a dilapidated zoo. Let’s buy that then!

The family move in with indecent haste and start to realise the extent of their commitment. A prick of a zoo inspector, who is clearly just doing his job, tells them to fix stuff up what with all the man eating animals and all, and they also have a tiger who isn't feeling Grrrrreeaattt!

Luckily the zoo staff are all lovely apart from the bitch of a bookkeeper who is rightfully sent to Mexico for pointing out they have run out of money. Helpfully they find a few bucks the dead wife was hiding, and soon we are making progress. Minor setbacks like a bit of rain and an escaped bear hinder their progress or at least pad the running time before it is eventually time to open - will anyone show up or will McDonalds cart off the animal cast members for burgers over the credits?

I didn't really fancy this film when it was released as it looked a bit like the whole plot is divulged in the title. In truth it was but it was still enjoyable and I have to confess to a small tear in the eye when it all turned out well, which it was always going to do.

Damon is fine as the grieving father although his zoo buying antics do seem a bit out of character - still who hasn't woken up with the odd zoo or funfair in their property portfolio? Scarlett Johansson doesn't get a lot to do as the love interest keeper and although she has been de-glamourised somewhat, this served only to give the impression that her character smelled of horses.

I didn't like the annoying son whose arc was unbelievable or Angus Macfaddyen who didn't convince as the drunken Scotsman, which was quite a feat given he’s Scottish. Better were Thomas Hayden Church as the sceptical brother who eventually gets on board after deciding he likes people more than animals - probably a good idea legally speaking too, and John Michael Higgins as the evil zoo inspector who wasn't so bad really.

It would be a hard hearted reviewer who isn’t positive about this happy tale of redemption and killing tigers, so given my heart is virtually mush it’s two thumbs up from me!

Best Bit : I liked the extending tape measure best.

‘W’ Rating 17/23

Friday, 12 June 2015

No.220 - Wolfcop

Wolfcop at the IMDb

I wasn't expecting much from ‘Wolfcop’ and in that regard at least I wasn't disappointed.

It certainly does what it says on the tin in that it has a cop who is also a wolf - what surprised me was that the cop/wolf actually kept up with its law enforcement duties. Can’t fault the commitment to the job there, Officer.

Our hero is Lou, played with scuzzy understatement by Leo Fafard, who is an under-performing policeman in a small town. He’s an alcoholic and ignores various small crimes such as vandalism as he makes his way to the police station. He has his boss on his back but has an able co-worker in Tina, who wins the employee of the month prize every time.

The towns is in the midst of a mayoral election and the annual ‘Hunt and Drink’ day is coming up. Lou does as little work as possible and spends his day getting drunk with a barmaid and his loser pal. Things change however when he wakes up with a pentangle carved into his chest and he is unable to shave due to immediate hair regrowth. He scratches his hairy chin and remembers flashes of creeps in monk habits carving the pentangle on him whilst another chap is scarified.

We soon learn that the victim is a candidate for mayor giving the incumbent no challengers to returning to the office and the excuse to cancel the Hunt and Drink day which coincides with a solar eclipse which strangely happenes every 32 years. Lou does some research and learns that by having a sacrifice a group of shape shifters can regenerate for another 32 years if they drink the blood of a werewolf during the eclipse. You can't argue with science like that!

Lou confides in his friend who locks him in a cell to witness the transformation and unusually Lou, despite a wolfy appearance, decides to put on his uniform and modify his police car before going on patrol. As the full moon  and eclipse move closer Lou has to keep a watch on who are his friends and who are the shape shifters. Can the curse be broken and will Lou find redemption after years of mourning his dead father?

This is a strange sort of film - It doesn't take itself seriously and there is a lot of gore but it is also played for laughs as well as drama. Just when you think it’s going down a familiar path Lou gets out his angle grinder in full werewolf mode and starts to customise his patrol car with big ‘W’s - possibly in tribute to this blog, it isn't clear.

The shifts in tone are a bit jarring but if you are watching a film called ‘Wolfcop’ you can hardly complain. The special effects were half decent with plenty of glycerine used for the transformation scene. There are also a couple of gruesome deaths and I especially likes a skull revealing ‘face off’ moment.

At a trim 79 minutes the film doesn't outstay its welcome but by the same measure you aren't baying for more. The thin plot played out satisfactorily and the cast mostly did well with some preposterous dialogue. The exception would be the bad guy leader who had a tear tattoo and no menace whatsoever.

I'm not inclined to hunt down the sequel promised in the credits but there are worse ways of spending an hour or so on Netflix.

Best Bit : face off in the corner
‘W’ Score 15/23

Thursday, 11 June 2015

No.219 : Woman on the Run

Woman on the Run at the IMDb

First off, this film’s title is a complete misnomer. If you want to watch a woman on the run, look elsewhere. It’s the husband who is on the run, the wife is merely looking for him. ‘Woman Looking For Her Husband Who is on the Run’ should have been the title even if it is less exciting.

The film opens with Frank Johnston out walking his dog when he chances upon a man being shot in his car. We don’t know if it’s a robbery or extreme dogging at first, but the victim takes two in the belly for his trouble. Frank sees the whole thing and unfortunately catches the attention of the killer who pops two slugs straight into Frank’s head for being so nosy. Thankfully it was the shadow of Frank’s head that took the bullets, but that’s one shadow that will tell no tales.

Rather than do the sensible thing of running away Frank tells the cops he saw the whole event. It turns out that the victim was a witness against a major bad guy but all is not lost - Frank can take over as the bullet magnet and testify against the villain for this new crime. Understandably Frank gets cold feet and buggers off as soon as he can.

The cops aren't happy and head to Frank’s home where they meet his bitch of a wife, Eleanor. She couldn't give two shits about Frank’s predicament as the marriage is on the rocks. She shows the cops Frank’s paintings and generally runs him down. She softens however when a reporter shows up and offers some big bucks if she can help trace the fleeing Frank and get him the exclusive story. But wait! That ‘reporter’ looks a lot like the gunman - well he is one and the same after all.

Eleanor gets a cryptic message from Frank and she and the reporter follow the clues about town. Over the course of their travels she finds details about how much Frank really loves her and that he has a heart condition, that he’s kept secret from her. As she starts to doubt the reporter’s credentials can Eleanor has to find a way to get Frank's Heart medicine to him while also keeping the bad guy from silencing her man, whom she now loves after all?

This was a pretty decent ‘B’ movie with not a lot invested in sets or action but enough happens to keep you interested. Top billing goes to Ann Sheridan as Eleanor but she wasn't too convincing as the scornful wife who went all doe eyed after seeing a couple of portraits and hearing the medical news - Frank must have some decent life insurance tucked away!

The bad guy masquerading as a reporter was a lot more likeable and I was hoping he’d get away after rubbing out wet fish Frank - fat chance. The clues and deduction were well handled and the drip feed of information kept the level of interest up. The showdown at the fairground went as you’d imagine, but it was a decent ride to get there.

To be fair Eleanor does break into a slight trot at some points to justify the ‘On the run’ title but a better title couldn't have been that hard to find - maybe ladies running was what brought the punters in in the 1950’s? Anyway this is  a decent offering that although ‘by the numbers’ had enough to justify the viewing.

Best Bit - Your second ride is half price!
‘W’ Score 15/23

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

No.218 : Would You Rather

Would You Rather at the IMDb

Would you rather read the rest of this review our have a sharp stick shoved in your eye?

First up that title needs a question mark or at the very least an ellipse.

Sharp stick starting to look somewhat tempting eh?

The high concept of this film is that a gruop of random strangers have to make choices which ultimately may bring them wealth at the expense of the other participants. I'm sure they want to provoke discussion along the lines of ‘What would you do?’ but to that the easy answer is ‘Watch another film’.

Our player in the game is Iris, played by an anonymous Brittany Snow, who looks after her sick brother. His case is hopeless without an expensive bone marrow transplant but rather than move him to Britain for free treatment she engages with the mysterious stranger who is in her doctor’s consulting room. He says his family foundation may offer assistance and invites her to his mansion that evening. She smells a rat but after a job falls through she decides to go along.

She is the last of the eight candidates to arrive and we get a brief summary of each before the enigmatic Shepard Lambrick begins his parlour game. Things start innocently enough with a vegetarian offered $10k for eating a steak but we know more sinister trials await, as the movie poster shows eyeball with a razor blade against it.

Each character is offered a moral conundrum of hurting themselves or another and soon the numbers start to dwindle. There is a weak sub-plot about the doctor getting an attack of conscience but he turns out as much use as a cock flavoured lollipop.

After a few gruesome trials we are down the last two - who will triumph and will the prize be worth having?

I quite liked this film and it was certainly thought provoking to some degree. I think the execution was somewhat weak however and I don’t think the people would have acted as rationally as was depicted. I think as soon as the first guy hit the floor everyone would go mental regardless of how many henchmen there where. Instead people carefully considered their options without thinking that the nutter in charge would most likely kill them all regardless.

There were a couple of recognisable faces including Darnell out of ‘My Name is Earl’ who for some reason still sported the same mad haircut - brand recognition I guess. You also get one off ‘The Walking Dead’ and the dad out of ‘Home Alone’ so you can appreciate this isn't exactly a mega budget affair.

The low budget also explains the lack of flair in the ‘games’ - essentially it’s pretty low key torture and self mutilation - and the action is confined to one room for the majority of the film.

It did however zip along and keep me engaged to the far fetched and unsatisfying ending. That is more that is more than most manage, however it did fail in its endeavour to be a talked about film or the next ‘Saw’ franchise - I've started to forget it already.

Best Bit : Snotty Son gets his.

‘W’ Score 13/23

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

No.217 : Werewolf in a Girls’ Dormitory

Werewolf in a Girls' Dormitory at the IMDb

Sometimes a fish jumps into your boat and there’s no way a film with a title like this will let down the expectant viewer... What? 1961, no grisly deaths or bad girls frolicking in the shower? Oh well…

This black and white ‘classic’ has a few other names like ‘The Ghoul in the School’ which is certainly more apt given that no werewolf of any accepted form is even sighted. Hairy hands don’t count.

The film is set in a girls reform school. They are all bad ladies but are also all attractive and have perfect figures - ‘Orange is the New Black’ this is not. We meet the girls as they do their exercises in the most buttoned up gear you can imagine. They are distracted by the arrival of a new teacher and one fakes a faint to grab this hunk’s attention. Alas he has a date with the headmaster where we learn he has a secret past the prevents him working as a doctor - here he has to be a professor.

The girls don’t get up to much in the way of horseplay - no naked pillow fights for example - but they do put it about somewhat with the locals much to the excitement of the Peter Lorre-esque maintenance man, Walter. One especially slutty girl - we get a flash of leg - Mary, breaks curfew and meets a local worthy whom she is blackmailing. Her plan goes south when she gets attacked by a pair of hairy hands. We don’t know to whom they belong but she gets slashed to death for her trouble - almost loses her top button too - phew!

The death upsets the headmaster somewhat but not as much as you’d think. Various candidates for the wolfy one are rolled out with the new professor the most likey - so it won’t be him then. Foxy Priscilla starts her own investigation but nearly comes a cropper when she is attacked by the wolf man in all his glory. It’s just a man in a suit with some fur stuck to his face but after an hour of boredom we’ll take what we get. Luckilly Pricsilla is saved by a dog named ‘Wolf’ which is plain confusing. Wolf gets a bite on the wolfman’s arm so the search is on for someone with a sore arm - like the Professor!

Things rumble on with a couple of suspects ruled out before the big reveal. Can the ladies be saved from the hairy handed one and will it be who we think? (Yes).

Given this was made in 1961 I had no expectation that this would be a sexy gorefest but it was tamer than a Tom and Jerry cartoon with the frying pans removed. It is well shot with the classy bad girls nice to look at, although hardly convincing as a bunch of reprobates.

They make absolutely no attempt at a transformation although they do one in reverse which was like some play dough being listed off in slow motion. There was very little blood on show and even less flesh - I believe I mentioned? It was however decent fun with some broadly drawn characters trying to outdo each other in the badly dubbed stakes.

Overall it’s a narrow pass but they need to watch about that flagrant false advertising - I mean the ‘werewolf’ never even made it into the dorm!

Best Bit - Wolf saves the day
‘W’ Rating - 12/23

Sunday, 7 June 2015

No.216 : Wolf Creek 2

Wolf Creek 2 at the IMDb

One of our many readers was lucky enough to find a golden ticket wedged within a generous slice of Rowantree Café carrot cake and earned the privilege of nominating the next film to be reviewed. Being the sick type that she is, she requested ‘Wolf Creek’ which is sadly not allowed due to our ‘only see new films for the purpose of reviews’ rule. I was going to make an exception but then the lawyers got involved and I have plenty of lawsuits already, thanks very much. Happily Netflix offered up a compromise in the form of ‘Wolf Creek 2’ which I’m sure is just as good as the original which I’ve totally forgotten apart from the bit where someone loses some fingers.

I did look up the original and the same bad guy is in both so I think it will be more of the same - he’s hardly likely to don a dress and sing ABBA songs is he?

We open in the outback as two cops operate a speed trap whilst stuffing their faces. A truck goes by under the speed limit but the cops decided to ticket him anyway - Huge mistake. After handing over the ticket and laughing about the redneck they pulled over, one of the cops loses three quarters of his head to what must be the best moving gun shot in history. I’m not complaining though, this was a cracker. You often hear people say ‘I’ll take your head off’ (well in Paisley anyway) but here it actually happened.

The evil redneck, Mick, quickly takes care of the other cop and we’re all ready for the titles, two bloody kills to the good already.

The film moves to two German backpackers, Rutger and Katarina, who are doing the sights, such as the titular crater from where the film gets its name. The two bunk down for the night but are soon awoken by Mick who chides them for lighting a fire in a National Park before offering them a lift to town. Rutger smells a rat and refuses but frankly he’s getting it regardless - no way are they keeping subtitles going for the whole film.

After a beating, Katarina wakes up under a tarpaulin and pops her head out to see Mick grab himself some German sausage - don’t ask. She wanders off into the bush and manages to make it to a road where she encounters a jeep driven by Englishman Paul. The pair are quickly pursed by Mick and before long it’s is mano a mano as Paul tries to outwit his pursuer and ultimately escape his dungeon of horrors.

This was a horrible film but it was well done and if you like this kind of thing you won’t be disappointed. What’s strange is that it is produced by Screen Australia and there are lots of expensive looking shots showing the beauty of the outback and its wildlife. You’d think this would be to encourage people to visit, but I doubt a single soul has seen this and thought ‘You know this true story about an unchecked serial killer roaming the outback has really encouraged me to visit that crater’.

For the most part this is a two hander and both main actors do well with the sadistic material. I liked John Jarrett as Mick but he sometimes got a bit near to a Paul Hogan type caricature of a drunken xenophobic Aussie. When he was mad he was scary, but he turned it on and off so that it was more unconvincing than unsettling. Ryan Corr was good as Paul given the role mostly consisted of screaming and reacting to terrible sights. I thought he was going to have more back story than it turned out but in truth he’s only there as a canvas for the bad guy to mess up.

There are only seven onscreen kills but the mood is relentless, with Mick being an unstoppable force with seemingly no end of weapons and vehicles to throw at his victims - literally in some cases.

The pace slows somewhat once Paul enters Chez Mick and there is a long scene where he tries to keep his obviously mental jailer onside by playing Australian trivia with him. The cost of a wrong answer is having a finger ground off with an angle grinder so make sure you mug up on Dame Edna if you are planning a visit to Oz.

Overall this is a squalid film with no redemption offered. I’m not sure that the ending could be considered a happy one but I was glad when it was over and felt somewhat grubbier for having sat through it. Do hope they make a third one though!

‘W’ Score 18/23
Best Bit - People are dying to get in Mick’s place

Saturday, 6 June 2015

No.215 : What We Do in the Shadows

What We Do in the Shadows at the IMDb

You may have thought that vampires living at home was as old a concept as the reality TV ‘found footage’ film but what happens when you resurrect both old standards and mash them into one? Hilarity ensues!

Set in present day Wellington, New Zealand the film documents the lives of a group of vampires as they prepare for their annual gathering on the 6th of June at pm ‘666!’. Captions at the start state that the cameramen are all wearing crucifixes and have been promised that they won’t be bitten. It’s not clear what the vampires hope to gain, but as is often the case in such films centuries long practices can all be dismantled in the space of a 90 minute documentary as they find out about themselves and the world at large.

The vampires cover most of the usual neck biting tropes with my favourite being Petyr, a Nosferatu style vampire who doesn't say anything and lives in his coffin. Vladislav is more your middle eastern type vampire and is played by Jemaine Clement from ‘Flight of the Conchords’ with no little panache - he reminded me a lot of ‘Toast of London’. For your money you also get Deacon who is a bit more progressive in his outlook and a bit more of a swashbuckling type.

The film follows their daily routines and interaction with their ‘familiars’ - humans who do their bidding in return for a promise to be made vampires themselves at some point in the future. The rules of vampire lore that you have come to expect are played out well for laughs, such as our guys being unable to get into a disco unless the bouncers invite them in.

We also witness them going for feeds and the mess that is left afterwards and their unfortunate interactions with a group of smelly werewolves and with the hapless representatives of law enforcement who are more interested in health and safety violations than the dead bodies in the basement.

Things begin to change for the group when a new convert shows them the wonders of modern technology, letting one make contact with his familiar 70 years after he was sent the wrong way to New Zealand after an error in the postage payment.

As the big day approaches the guys all have their own worries, not least because the fabled ‘Beast’ will be guest of honour. Can they all survive the modern world and the invasion of reality TV on their closely guarded privacy?

This is a fun film with a lot to like. Fair enough it covers a lot of well worn ground but it doesn't take itself seriously and the trim 80 minutes runtime means it doesn't outstay its welcome.

The make up and costumes are great and there are plenty of laughs and a few shocks - that messy feeding was horrific! There are good special effects as our guys casually fly about their home although the werewolf transformations are wisely kept at a distance.

I liked the bumbling cops who put a werewolf mauling down to a sad faced innocent dog - “It’s happening once a month” says the policewoman as the full moon shines behind her.

If you can get over the ridiculous conceit of a group of 800 year old vampires letting a film crew in their house you’ll find a lot to enjoy in the film which celebrates and mocks all aspects of the vampire mythos equal measure. Anyway, if you wait beyond the credits you get an extra message compelling you to forget all that you have seen.

What are we reviewing again?

Best Bit - Messy feeding

‘W’ Score - 20/23

Thursday, 4 June 2015

No.214 : Walk the Dark Street

Walk the Dark Street at the IMDb

It is important that cinema history is preserved and fine sites like Open Culture are a great resource for making available films that have fallen into the public domain. That said, for every film worth saving there are plenty best forgotten about and ‘Walk the Dark Street’ certainly falls into the latter category.

The film opens with a man walking down a dark street - can fault him for not following the title! But wait!, it’s not actually dark as he’s casting a long shadow - what a swizz. The man is nervous and throws himself to the ground when a car tyre bursts. Given he’s now lying down he takes the opportunity to go into flashback mode via the classic ‘wobbly picture’ process.

He’s now in Korea fighting in the war. He’ll be OK though as all the guns and explosion are all from stock footage. He and a few men are in a fox hole and given there have been no Koreans cast they take the time to have a bitch session. Our man, Dan, has been given a battlefield promotion to Lieutenant and this has pissed off the other candidate, Tommy, who writes to his brother to say that if he dies it will be Dan’s fault. In the very next scene Tommy is indeed killed when his runs into machine gun fire - that’ll teach them to be mean with the promotions!

Back in present day Los Angeles the now demobbed Dan pays a visit on Frank who is Tommy’s brother and recipient of the poisonous letter. He acts all friendly with Dan and even treats him and us to five minutes of stock footage of animals in Africa. He explains that he is a passionate hunter but heart trouble has curtailed his animal killing.

He has a plan though! He has invented a gun that takes photos rather than firing bullets and he proposes that he and Dan hunt each other through the streets of LA and the one who confirms a ‘kill’ by way of a photograph wins the bet. Dan is a bit hesitant but when get gets 10/1 odds on a thousand dollar bet he sees a way to clear his own bills that stem from his burnt out sports shop.

They agree to start the hunt the next day but once Dan has left Frank puts a real bullet in his gun. I don’t know why he didn't just shoot him in the house if he plans to murder him anyway, especially as he has heart trouble , but I guess there’s still 45 minutes to fill.

The hunt gets under way with Frank showing all his jungle cunning by phoning round the local hotels to see where his quarry is staying. Dan meanwhile gets hit on by a waitress whom he turns down and then by a nightclub floozy whom he goes home with. Go Dan! After a small kiss the woman reveals herself to be the dead brother’s fiancée and she knows all about the plan. She doesn't like Frank as he’s a mentalist but we’d all guessed that for ourselves.

As the two men get closer a low rent denouement awaits but I just hope there wasn't a mix up at the rain coat and bullet shop!

This was certainly a ‘B’ feature and looked more like a strung out TV episode than a feature film.

The cast of half a dozen were all pretty poor with the only recognisable face being that of Chuck Connors who played Frank. He didn't convince as the unhinged, vengeance hungry brother whose heart condition appeared to only manifest itself when he thought about hunting - running about the streets was fine!

Our hero Dan was played by Don Ross who got an ‘introducing’ credit in what was a pretty big role. Alas he didn't have anything in the way of star quality and a career of bit parts and TV work were all that followed.

There wasn't really any tension involved as the pair meandered about LA and given the only bullets fired where from the stock footage you can understand why it wasn't exactly a thrill fest.

I did enjoy the slutty women trying to woo our tightly buttoned hero but apart from the curiosity value there’s no reason to shine a light over this rightly forgotten yarn.

Best Bit : Come back to my place!

‘W’ Score 8/23

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

No.213 : Weekender

Weekender at the IMDb

Bangin’ man - let’s have a look at this modern classic and see if it earns the whole one star that Netflix viewers have deemed it worthy of.

It’s the early 90’s and the kids are being hassled by the man. Their dreadful music can only be found on pirate radio and they have to dance in warehouses. Now I was about in the 90’s and I can clearly remember fully equipped discothèques being available and Bruno Brookes doing the Top 40 on Radio 1.

Anyway, our hero Matt thinks he can do better and with the help of his simpleton friend they track down the pirate DJ and set up their own rave in an abandoned warehouse. It is an unqualified success and Matt decides to quit when he’s ahead until he discovers all the takings are counterfeit cash. He then decides to do it again and again - can’t fault logic like that!

They start to feel the heat after those killjoys in parliament speak out against the illegal raves due to all the drugs and safety concerns - the fools! The ‘Dibble’ (the police) show up and are somehow sent away when told the rave is a private party albeit one with a voluntary entrance fee. ‘I'll be back’ says the copper before never being seen again.

With the police concerns dealt with the guys then hook up with a nice promoter from London who teams up with them for some ‘super raves’. Alas they also meet the baddies who want to take their cash and take over their raves - the swine - this is our lawbreaking activity!

As the pressure mounts schisms start to appear in the group over who had sex with who and whether it’s worth the bother any more. As the bad guys turn the screws the scene is set for some limp action in Amsterdam to see which unworthy scroat makes it out alive.

This is a really dreadful offering with nothing to recommend it apart from the ironic finger pointing at how really terrible it is. To start with you have no characters worthy of the name. They are a bunch of scuzzy drug dealers led by Donovan off ‘The Inbetweeners’ and you have no empathy for them at all. I think you are meant to see them as hero pioneers but they just come across as a bunch of dope head scofflaws.

The era is hardly evoked in the memory with an ‘Italia 90’ t-shirt the only nod towards a period setting. They also show up how insignificant the whole enterprise is when the spinning newspapers (a new innovation!) are clearly mock ups rather than the real headlines which, in truth, probably didn't exist anyway.

The short running time is padded with a few long scenes of punters dancing away and I suspect one would need a truckload of ecstasy to be drawn into these mood setting rave-ups.

The acting is uniformly awful with a lot of ‘Did you shag my bird’ exchanges cringe worthy to the extreme. The guy playing Matt seemed genuinely dense so if this was acting kudos to you sir!

Over the piece I think a morality tale was the ambition with perhaps a side of nostalgia and bravado thrown in for good measure. What was realised was a bunch of tits in shell suits jumping about and playing at being gangsters. Risible rubbish!

‘W’ Rating 5/23

Best Bit - I suppose the poolside scenes in Ibiza win by a couple of points.

Monday, 1 June 2015

No.212 : When in Rome

When in Rome at the IMDb

I’d never heard of this 2010 rom-com until it appeared on Netflix, which was a surprise given its stellar cast and the fact that I’m a sucker for formulaic rubbish like this.

The flat faced Kristen Bell stars as Beth, a museum curator who has been unlucky in love. Her more impulsive sister, played by the naked one off ‘Broken Flowers’, plans to get married in Rome after a two week romance with an Italian. This is something of an issue as Beth has a big exhibition planned but after promising her bitch boss ( a show me the cheque Anjelica Huston) that things will go smoothly, she jets off.

The wedding is a great success with the stapes of the mistranslations, comedy vicar and cultural misunderstandings all present and correct. Beth, in a dress that writes cheques her chest can’t cash, meets the lovely Nick (Josh Duhamel - remember him from ‘Win a Date with Tad Hamilton’ - No.205? ) and it seems far too predictable that the two will hook up at the end. Better put some flimsy obstacles in the way then!

With love still being resisted a drunken Beth wanders into a handy fountain that promises love to anyone who leaves a coin there and pockets a fistful of change. When I do this it’s stealing but for Beth it’s to stop people being hurt by love. Tell that to the judge. She pulls out four coins and a poker chip and immediately through some lightning flashes the five depositors immediately fall in love with Kristen.

Fortunately four out of the five appear to be American tourists so it makes it a bit simpler when the action moves back to New York. Obviously there is a bit of vagueness about the exact owners of the coins so we don’t know what is real love and what is fountain induced love.

Once back to her life Beth discovers that she’s suddenly very popular. It may be her tight running gear, but soon she has five blokes all battling for her attention. The most annoying of these is GOB off ‘Arrested Development’ who is a cheesy Italian artist with a secret - he does have a decent line in murals though. She also has Napoleon Dynamite (still with Pablo!) as a street magician and Danny DeVito as a sausage magnet who looks like he’s eaten his whole stock. Filling to roster is Dax Shepard whom we know from ‘Employee of the Month’ and ‘Idiocracy’ as a self loving athlete whom she ends up marrying in real life - lovely.

The fifth coin is a poker chip which comes from Nick and although Beth has feelings for him she can’t act as it would be immoral to use the fountain’s magic to trap him - or could t be true love?

This was a very by the numbers rom-com but it was enjoyable with lots of attractive people clearly having a good time in Rome and New York. The plot was ridiculous but everyone just got on with it and didn’t try to have the lead sectioned as she babbled on about magic fountains.

The four guys pursuing Kristen clearly didn’t have a chance but it all worked out well with a bit of redemption doled out for each. It wasn’t laugh out loud funny but there were a couple of smirks, not least when people like Don Johnson showed up for a couple of scenes and no doubt a nice holiday in Rome.

The pace was kept to a good tempo and although everything was telegraphed from the start there were a couple of well managed obstacles put in love’s path to ensure the 90 minutes run time was padded out.

Of course this was never going to be a classic but as a throwaway piece of fluff it was a good effort and an enjoyable guilty pleasure.

Best Bit : Always a sucker for a bad translation subtitles gag.
‘W’ Score 14/23