Comedy

LOGAN LUCKY

Director / Stephen Soderbergh (THE OCEANS TRILOGY, MAGIC MIKE, ERIN BROCKOVICH)
Stars/ Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Riley Keough, Brian Gleeson, Jack Quaid, Katie Holmes, Seth MacFarlane, Sebastian Stan, Farrah Mackenzie, Katherine Waterston and Hilary Swank

The movie that reversed filmmaker Stephen Soderbergh’s decision to retire is this rather offbeat ensemble crime comedy, LOGAN LUCKY.

In North Carolina, the annual Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race is soon beginning. The down-on-their-luck Logan siblings Jimmy (Channing Tatum), Clyde (Adam Driver) and Mellie (Riley Keough) recognise an opportunity to pull off a heist during the race. The elaborately planned robbery, which involves imprisoned thug Joe Bang (Daniel Craig – hilariously sporting a southern U.S accent and bleached blonde hair), doesn’t all go according to plan.


LOGAN LUCKY is a movie that can quite literally thank its lucky stars! The performances from the wonderfully arranged ensemble cast combines with the script’s irresistibly playful mimicry of its characters and dialogue to bring an immensely enjoyable heist film. Now, just how much fun you have watching LOGAN LUCKY is going to partially depend on the handle you have over its more particular details involving the heist and the connections of its many, many characters. Without intention, this overly crammed and overcrowded screenplay has a tendency to make viewers work overtime in conveying some very muddled specific information. Make the mistake of persisting with unraveling it all and LOGAN LUCKY will probably match entertainment with confusion for you. Rather it is best to accept the fact that perhaps not every stroke of luck LOGAN LUCKY is reaching for will be fathomed or even feasible and instead to surrender to its constantly jocular and jovial character.

3 ½ stars

Viewer Discretion/ M (Coarse language) 

Trailer / LOGAN LUCKY

Moviedoc thanks Roadshow Films for the invite to the screening of this film.

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THE BIG SICK

Director / Michael Showalter (HELLO MY NAME IS DORIS, THE BAXTER)
Stars/ Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Ray Romano, Holly Hunter, Aidy Bryant and Kurt Braunohler

Boy meets girls. Girl meets boy. You have seen it many times before. Though new comedy THE BIG SICK has a few big slick and unexpected developments in its story that cure it of all symptoms of being a clichéd affair.

The boy in the picture is Kumail (Kumail Nanjiani), a Pakistan native living in the U.S who is a struggling stand-up comedian that politely rejects potential brides for his arranged marriage, as organised by his mother. The girl in the picture is Emily (Zoe Kazan, who was Ruby Sparks in RUBY SPARKS!), a white American who is working towards becoming a masters-level therapist and falls for the charms of Kumail during one of his stand-up routines.

As you may have cottoned on or already heard, THE BIG SICK is based on the real life story of how Emily V. Gordon (co-writer of this film) and her real-life husband Kumail Nanjiani (co-writer and star) meet and fall in love.


It is certainly refreshing and even reassuring to be in the presence of a genuine comedy that triggers laughter in such an unforced manner. Rather than concocting forced scenarios to base the remainder of the film around, THE BIG SICK derives much of its humour from the conception of its characters and the awkwardness of a developing romance. By doing so, THE BIG SICK rapidly becomes a broadly appealing and wholly accessible comedy that features wonderful acting performances and sharp writing that work together harmoniously.

With laughter occurring frequently and so naturally throughout, the husband/wife writing team behind THE BIG SICK are evidently aware that they never need to try harder than they do to generate tasteful humour. This is exemplified by the way they showcase the cultural differences that both lead characters are faced with. Earning further respectability are a few bravely, yet again tastefully written interjections of dialogue that centre on Kumail Nanjiani’s probable faith and extremism. Given Nanjiani’s origin and the world we live in today, our writers are clearly conscious of the elephant in the room and they address this with daring humour and honesty. Hats off! 

The latter half of the film introduces co-stars Ray Romano (TV’s Everybody Loves Raymond) and Oscar-winner Holly Hunter (THE PIANO), as Terry and Beth, the parents of Emily. The importance of their contributions cannot be underestimated as a minor bump in the plot earlier in the picture later becomes an essential development. Though it must be said that this significant segment of the story is somewhat solemn in nature, much of this film’s excellence comes to the fore here as it impressively never loses touch with its comedic roots. THE BIG SICK just keeps delivering humour that is truly meaningful and memorable.

An exceptional comedy. Definitely recommended!

4 stars


Viewer Discretion/ M (Coarse language and sexual references) 

Trailer / THE BIG SICK

Moviedoc thanks Roadshow Films for the invite to the screening of this film.

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DESPICABLE ME 3

Directors/ Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin, Eric Guillon
Starring the voices of/ Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Jenny Slate, Julie Andrews, Steve Coogan, Trey Parker, Russell Brand, Pierre Coffin and Miranda Cosgrove

The most recent get-together with everyone’s favourite DESPICABLE ME characters, the minions, didn’t quite manage to get the best out of the little yellow henchmen in their very first feature film. As expected, the novelty of MINIONS placing the minions in a starring role quickly wore off. They get another shot at it in 2020. Until then, they return to their original support role in the third DESPICABLE ME movie.

In DESPICABLE ME 3, Gru (Steve Carell) learns that he has a twin brother whom he never knew existed, named Dru (also voiced by Steve Carell). After finding, then meeting Dru for the very first time, the twin siblings catch up with all they’ve missed out on over the years. When Dru reveals a plan to steal a diamond in the possession of Balthazar Bratt (Trey Parker), a former child star who resents Hollywood for axing his show, it tempts Gru into returning to past ways.


Take one look at the choice of films currently being screened at cinemas that rely on mainstream movies, and you’ll quickly notice an abundance of sequels, remakes and films based on or spinning off previous works in dominant force. Although this third addition to the animated comedy series doesn’t offer an ounce of originality, it does just enough to keep the attention of younger ones mildly diverted.

Throughout the consistently paced central plot involving Gru and Dru, there are the usual cutaways that give the minions valuable screen time to give the movie a burst of energy and a good laugh when needed. They get up to their usual antics in DESPICABLE ME 3, which features a number of scenarios that will bring moments of joy to adults and kids alike. Perhaps the favourite of them all will be the time that the minions accidentally find themselves standing centre stage on the set of a reality TV program. We can be thankful that the minions find good form again in DESPICABLE ME 3, for the main plot of this movie lacks the creativeness in writing needed. Separately, an annoying feature that may only be noticed by select members of the audience is the needlessly over-the-top animation and vocal work attributed to some of its characters.

DESPICABLE ME 3 isn’t as good as the two previous films, yet is an improvement on MINIONS and should provide a reasonable level of entertainment to families who remain devoted fans of the DESPICABLE ME franchise.

2 ½ stars

Viewer Discretion/ PG (mild themes and animated violence)

Trailer / DESPICABLE ME 3

Moviedoc thanks Universal Pictures for the invite to the screening of this film..

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20TH CENTURY WOMEN

Writer & Director / Mike Mills (BEGINNERS, THUMBSUCKER)
Stars/ Annette Bening, Lucas Jade Zumann, Greta Gerwig, Elle Fanning and Billy Crudup

There is a coming of age and a going of age story happening simultaneously in 20TH CENTURY WOMEN, a semi-autobiographical comedic drama from writer/director Mike Mills.

It’s 1979 in Santa Barbara, California. Chain-smoking single mum Dorothea (Four-time Oscar-nominated actress Annette Bening, who was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for her work here), is doing her best at raising her 15 year-old son, Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) in a boarding house with several other tenants. Also living in the share-house is William (Billy Crudup), a car mechanic and a young photographer who once attended art school in New York, Abbie (Greta Gerwig). As Dorothea struggles to connect with her rapidly maturing teenage son, she asks Abbie and Julie (Elle Fanning), Jamie’s best friend, to help her raise him.

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It’s only fitting that this rather unusual request from Dorothea, which acts as the plot of this film, is presented in quite an offbeat tune. In actual fact, Mike Mills has taken inspiration from his adolescence, having been raised by his mother and sisters, in telling this fictionalised story. This quirky dramedy is easily able to form a connection with audiences, thanks largely to the quality of its Oscar-nominated screenplay and the rich performances from the ensemble cast.

A fine example to give of just how well-proportioned the writing is sits with structure of the storyline. All throughout 20TH CENTURY WOMEN, audiences swing back and forth from present day to the past of each of its main characters, one at a time. The necessary introductions not only add another dimension to the colorful characterisation work, they also provide a clearer understanding of what contribution each will make in raising Jamie. There’s no doubt that this modus operandi fills the gaps of a plot with less trajectory in its sight. To further illustrate the excellence of Mills’ script, the honesty of the writing and its characters gorgeously extracts shades of humour from places it does not normally reside. And finally, the music department really ground 20TH CENTURY WOMEN in its timeline with an irresistible soundtrack featuring songs from the likes of Talking Heads and The Clash.

20TH CENTURY WOMEN deserves to and will hopefully find itself a healthy 21st century crowd.

3 ½ stars

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Viewer Discretion/ M (sexual references, coarse language, drug use and nudity)

Trailer / 20TH CENTURY WOMEN

Moviedoc thanks Entertainment One and The Backlot Studios for the invite to the screening of this film.

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HANDSOME DEVIL

Writer & Director / John Butler (THE BACHELOR WEEKEND)
Stars/ Fionn O’Shea, Nicholas Galitzine, Andrew Scott, Moe Dunford and Michael McElhatton

The surprise screening at this year’s Melbourne Queer Film Festival was this Irish comedy/drama about an unlikely friendship that develops between two young men who are polar opposites. Ned (O’Shea) has just arrived at his new boarding school outside of Dublin and is instantly singled out and bullied for his lack of interest in rugby. Soon after his arrival, Ned is introduced to his new roommate Conor (Galitzine), who is a star rugby player and left his previous school for getting into fights with other students. At first, there is instant dismissal of one another. But as the two guys begin to realise that they share more in common than first thought, the genuine friendship they’re beginning to form is challenged when it is discovered by certain members of the school hierarchy.


Better the devil you know, they say. However, when assessing HANDSOME DEVIL, it turns out to be a case of better the devil you don’t know.

Rather than casually strolling down the clichéd path paved its way, this rather quirky comedy/drama takes a few purposeful strides into a direction that is different than earlier predicted. As such, HANDSOME DEVIL is a better and more meaningful movie for doing so. The themes that it raises from here do help the movie to recover from its sporadic awkward execution and some wooden acting from lesser known members of the cast. Narrating the story in past-tense, Fionn O’Shea (from TV Series Roy) along with his co-star Nicholas Galitzine (HIGH STRUNG) display moments of genuinely good acting, though their level is inconsistent throughout. Bolstering the film is the presence of a couple of actors with more experience in Andrew Scott (DENIAL), as a teacher to the pupils and Michael McElhatton (TV Series Game of Thrones), the boarding school headmaster.

HANDSOME DEVIL will resonate in parts with most of its audience.

3 stars

Viewer Discretion/ M (coarse language and violence)

Trailer / HANDSOME DEVIL

Moviedoc thanks Rialto Distribution and The Backlot Studios for the invite to the screening of this film.

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BAYWATCH

Director / Seth Gordon (IDENTITY THIEF, HORRIBLE BOSSES, THE KING OF KONG)
Stars/ Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Jon Bass, Alexandra Daddario, Kelly Rohrbach and Priyanka Chopra

My expectations of BAYWATCH were extremely grounded before entering the cinema – just hope that the next two hours would provide some silly, lame but fun and guilty-pleasure viewing. The opening act of BAYWATCH plays out just this way and reassures everyone that it isn’t meant to be taken seriously at all. Until it all becomes seriously bad!

The 1989-2001 TV Series that BAYWATCH is of course taken from became one of the most watched television shows in the world, after initially being cancelled at the end of its first season. Playfully making fun of and grossly exaggerating cases from the original series, BAYWATCH stars Dwayne Johnson and Kelly Rohrbach as Mitch Buchannon and CJ Parker, characters who were first made famous by series stars David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson. The plot in this cinematic adaptation sees Mitch face off against a hot new recruit, Matt Brody (Zac Efron), a medal-winning Olympic swimmer who joins the team of passionate lifeguards. When evidence of a local crime washes up on the bay they patrol, Mitch and Matt are forced to combine efforts as they work to solve the crime, struggling to put aside their competitiveness and egos in the process.

 


No one, not even the charismatic Dwayne Johnson, can save BAYWATCH from drowning in its own dump. Once the terribly lacklustre plot begins to surf a wave of thoughtlessly written dialogue and overplayed scenarios, the film finds itself caught in a strong current of worthlessness that it just cannot swim out of.

The basis of the storyline penned for BAYWATCH is really the beginning of its demise. It is so thinly written, basic and lazily conceived that it never stood a chance to hold up for (almost) two hours. As a result, several scenes that exemplify the awkward and over-the-top flirtations shared by our lifeguards and a witless battle staged between macho man and pretty boy is what dominates far more screen time than acceptable. These scenarios do provide some mild laughter to begin with, but lose their mojo very quickly. What may have been a funny idea on paper turns out to be as fun to watch as swimming at a beach that is filled with seaweed! As BAYWATCH continues its decline, the poor quality starts to surface in front of the lens too. Dwayne Johnson (probably the best asset of this movie) and Alexandra Daddario (who barely looks interested) did previously work together in SAN ANDREAS and fare much better in that film than they do here. This is not only a poor choice from Zac Efron, who is building a pretty unconvincing resume, but is perhaps the poorest form we’ve seen from him. Though he is not as inept and ineffective as Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra, as the films villain. And finally, two insensitive and unforgivable jokes – one aimed at Stephen Hawking and the other at our very own Steve Irwin, place BAYWATCH beyond resuscitation.

Fans of the series may find a little more joy to come than I could from the teasing nature of the film. But in very similar style to CHIPS, another film based on a TV series released earlier this year, BAYWATCH self-destructs and is one of the worst releases of 2017.

1 ½ stars

Viewer Discretion/ MA15+ (strong comedic nudity and coarse language)

Trailer / BAYWATCH

Moviedoc thanks Paramount Pictures and Hoyts Cinema, Melbourne Central for the invite to the screening of this film.

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A DOG’S PURPOSE

Director / Lasse Hallström (CHOCOLAT, HACHI: A DOG’S TALE, WHAT’S EATING GILBERT GRAPE)
Stars/ Bryce Gheisar, K.J. Apa, Britt Robertson and the voice of Josh Gad

Swedish-born filmmaker Lasse Hallström makes a return to the dog-movie genre, after the audience favourite HACHI: A DOG’S TALE from 2009, which starred Richard Gere. This passable family comedy/drama is based on a 2010 novel of the same name by W. Bruce Cameron, who is also one of the several screenplay writers.

A DOG’S PURPOSE is a film featuring a handful of shorter stories that are each narrated by our lead canine companion. Though the same voice is sharing the thoughts from inside the mind of Bailey (voiced by BEAUTY AND THE BEAST star Josh Gad), he is reborn as a different breed of dog and in the care of separate owners each time. In every story, Bailey questions the meaning of his existence and searches for his purpose.

A DOG'S PURPOSE

A DOG’S PURPOSE will serve its purpose for dog-lovers, who will be content to turn a blind eye to the blandness of this film. Cat-lovers are likely to give the brown eye to the one-dimensional storytelling and obvious trajectory.

Beginning in the early 1960s, Bailey first finds himself in the hands of a young boy named Ethan (Gheisar, pictured above) who finds comfort and a friend in his canine companion. As Ethan gets older (soon to be played by Kiwi actor K.J. Apa from TV series Shortland Street), his bond with Bailey becomes closer yet as he distances himself from his aggressive and alcoholic father, which leads him to meet Hannah (TOMORROWLAND’S Britt Robertson). But separation from his pooch looms as life-changing events occur.

It is necessary to note that while A DOG’S PURPOSE is accessible for most ages, it does also depict death and contains a couple of scenes that may be very upsetting, especially for younger viewers. Being a film in which the main character reincarnates, you can be assured that A DOG’S PURPOSE won’t stay that way for long at all. There are numerous scenes of a cute nature which demonstrate the high skills and super intuition of the very well-trained animal cast. This footage is adorable to watch and truly does capture the beautiful feeling of that special bond shared between you and your pet.

A DOG’S PURPOSE is no MARLEY AND ME by any means, but it certainly has more meaning and fares better than our very own RED DOG sequel, released last Boxing Day.

2 ½ stars

A DOG'S PURPOSE

Viewer Discretion/ PG (mild themes)

Trailer / A DOG’S PURPOSE

Moviedoc thanks Entertainment One and The Backlot Studios for the invite to the screening of this film.

Review by Moviedoc / “LIKE” on Facebook – Moviedoc

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