Summer brings with it just a few guarantees: hot weather, kids out of school and blockbuster season at the Cineplex. With so many big budget, massive star vehicles charging into theatres (along with some lesser-known experiments), we at My Cinema are always struggling to keep up. So, here’s a quick overview of some of the films we’ve seen in recent months- the ones that didn’t quite warrant the full review treatment but deserved a mention nevertheless.
Read about Bridesmaids, Arthur, Water for Elephants and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides after the jump.
A lot has been made about Bridesmaids and it’s female-driven brand of comedy, which is perhaps the stupidest thing about Bridesmaids. It’s a pretty good film with all the destructive hijinks of the Blues Brothers, an ensemble as quirky as Little Miss Sunshine and a central friendship story as sweet as that at the core of The Hangover. But it almost felt as though the people behind Bridesmaids were wary of that sweetness, like the fact that they are women meant they had to go the extra mile to eliminate any possible accusations of frothiness. As such, the smart and honest-to-god funny story is overshadowed by a thick layer of gross-out humour so repulsive that it made me rethink my opinion on Superbad. There are elements of Bridesmaids that are really really great, but there’s an insecurity to it, like it’s ashamed of the gender of its creators. Bridesmaids is like the pretty girl at the dance who’s wearing so much makeup you can’t see how pretty she is. I’m sorry, was that analogy too girly? Do you think I’m dumb now? Okay, umm, it’s like the poop at the poop who’s poop so much poop you can’t poop how poop poop is. Was that better? Did that make more sense? Seriously people, smart is smart, sweet is sweet, funny is funny, can we let the Hangover boys take credit for their heart and the Bridesmaids girls take credit for their balls and not worry about the anatomical connotations?! Good, now that you’ve been scolded, go see Bridesmaids, Melissa McCarthy really is a hoot!
On a somewhat related note, for some reason, every time I see Russell Brand I expect him to be lewd, crude and altogether vile. But he never seems to be, at least not alienatingly so; so silly me for always assuming the worst of him. Which is not to say he’s even remotely close to the well-kempt, well-mannered, tasteful male ideal that key figures in my young life planted as a non-fiction. But he is unendingly charming and imbued with exactly as much childish wonderment as he needs to pull off the absurdity of his antics. So, both predictably and surprisingly, Arthur (both the film and the character) takes on those very same qualities. It’s/he’s crazy, frantic, frothy and over-the-top, but surprisingly touching as Brand really does show off his sensitive side. It’s/he’s not, however, quite as funny as it/he thinks it/he is and therefore, both like and sometimes unlike Brand himself, doesn’t quite earn its/his silliness. Jennifer Garner has excellent comic timing and it’s nice to see her pull it out for a rare appearance (it hasn’t been on show to full effect since 13 Going on 30), and Greta Gerwig is very sweet as Arthur’s love interest (though I am quickly growing tired of this studied quirkiness thing). And, of course, Helen Mirren can do no wrong and serves as the highlight of the film- duh. Arthur‘s cute, but skippable so unless you’re a die hard Brand fan, see the original instead.
And speaking of Brits I’m sometimes unexpectedly fond of, Water for Elephants will be remembered, if for nothing else, as the film that finally sold me on this Robert Pattinson fellow. Have you heard of him? Apparently he’s a big deal. Not a Cedric fan, I barely noticed his presence in Harry Potter and I’ve never seen a frame of Twilight (other than promo photos, posters and clips on talk shows). By sheer coincidence I’ve never seen him in anything else either. But I’ve always liked him, having read more than my fair share of interviews because Entertainment Weekly has a bit of an obsession with him and his vampiric cohorts. He always seemed smart, funny in a nonchalant way, and much more normal than his overly angsty girlfriend or their protein-pumped third wheel. But I didn’t get the intense fascinating at all. I also generally like Reese Witherspoon and was anticipating Christopher Waltz’s performance after his spell-binding Inglourious Basterds turn, so I saw Water for Elephants, even though I heard it was mediocre. It’s better than mediocre I’d say, though not anything particularly memorable. The elephant is fan-flippin’-tastic, Reese’s hair is pretty, the love story’s sweet- that’s about all there is too it. It did leave me hoping one day someone will think to cast Christopher Waltz as a non-villain, just to see if he can do it. But, mostly, it really did sell me on Pattinson. I never thought he was remotely attractive (other than the brain and the sense of humour and other such silly things), but here, with a tan (or rather, basic human colouring) and normal person hair (not the purposeful bedhead he sports on the red carpet or the terrifying coif from the Twilight posters), I started to see it. He was also allowed to actually act, which was nice, and create a layered and accessible character. Oh, he also got to smile- something I’ve literally never seen him do. So I’m officially a fan, in a “based on acting, looks and persona” way, as opposed to my former “I don’t know anything about him but he seems like he might not be a vampire” stance. Now, someone cast him in a comedy- I have a sneaking suspicion about this one.
And after that tangent that was about as long as the way-too-long film it was supposedly about, this review of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, will be very short. It’s boring. The first Pirates film is brilliant and I didn’t see the follow-ups because I didn’t want to taint the excellence of the original. But Johnny Depp promised me this one would be good, and Johnny Depp is a very smart man, it’s usually best to take the advice of Johnny Depp (unless he’s trying to teach you about facial hair or convince you that Tim Burton is sane). But the man lied; it’s also possible he never actually saw the movie. Despite the presence of character geniuses Ian McShane and Richard Griffiths, a pretty mermaid lovestory thing, a fiesty Penelope Cruz and Jack Sparrow himself, the film is boring. It’s just an excuse for swashbuckling and ticket selling. Even Depp seems to have let his once Oscar-nominated performance lose its fire. It’s long, it’s pointless, skip it.