Tag Archives: comedy

The A-Team

In a year filled with ensemble action movies, The A-Team was surely the one with the best known back story?  Maybe that didn’t do it any favours.  While many of us loved the series, at the time, countless repeats and plenty of piss taking later meant there were concerns about it transferring to the big screen.

Would the new actors be able to pull off the old characters?  Would it feel like a sad pastiche?  Would we accept the new faces in the old roles?  Would they be bogged down by the memories of countless episodes in which no one gets seriously injured, not even the bad guys?  Would a modern audience accept the ludicrous solutions the team are well known for?

I’d heard mixed reviews about the film before sitting down to watch it – and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.  Someone I know said ‘do they expect us to believe this shit?’  Well, my answer is no, they don’t.  They know it’s unbelievable, but they don’t care.  If you want to enjoy this movie you’ll take the step and willingly suspend your disbelief.  If you have no intention or ability to do that – then the director isn’t interested in trying to entertain you.

The A-Team tells the story of how the famous four get together, the crime they are supposed to have committed and the attempt at clearing their own names.  It’s a contemporary set-up for the series, a prequel, and as such a very clever decision.  Just another long episode would have been harder to pull off, but giving us the start of the story in an up-to-date setting worked very well.

The actors take on the roles without ever really trying to do second rate impressions of the previous team, for which I was quite grateful.  There’s a moment early in the movie where they crush BA’s van which is almost a statement from the director – yes, these are the same guys, but no, this is not the same cheesy 80’s series.

From that moment the action ramps up and we are led through a series of chases, captures, and betrayals that get us to the defining moment – when the team must break out of prison, prove their innocence and save the girl.

It’s funny, it’s totally entertaining and it’s entirely insane.  It’s everything that was good about the A-Team without the 80’s cheese, instead, it brings along the 80’s vibe and the 80’s good feeling.  There’s clearly room for a sequel, and I’d quite happily go and see it.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

I didn’t see Scott Pilgrim vs. The World in the cinema, because at the time there were some other movies that I felt would be better on the big screen.  Scott Pilgrim looked, from the trailers, like it would do okay on the smaller screen.  I was wrong.  This is why.

Scott Pilgrim is visually the most memorable and exciting movie I’ve seen since The Matrix.  Sure, Avatar was pretty to look at and the CGI was a step beyond anything we’ve ever seen.  Yes, 300 was a revelation in terms of colour and style.  I agree that Sin City brought us comic book visualisations like we’d never really seen.  But Scott Pilgrim vs. The World presented a mixture of real life, comic book and computer games in a single visual package that blew me away.

The clear craftsmanship that went into every single shot, the attention to detail, the mixture of sound effects, on-screen visuals and cinematography working together in a way I’ve just not seen before.  If Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was an ice-cream flavour, it would be Strawberry Mint Choc-chip with Raspberry Ripple and Cookies.  And it would work.

Stunning visuals alone don’t make a good movie, and therefore it’s with some relief that we discover Scott Pilgrim has a heart, a plot, an excellent sound track and some very funny and touching moments.

Based on a graphic novel, the reasonably simple story plays out thus.  Scott (Michael Cera) plays in a band, hangs out in the arcade, and finally meets the girl of his dreams.  But early in their relationship he discovers he must battle and defeat her seven evil exes in order to date her.  The brilliance comes from the mixture of the real and the unreal.  The fights are done very much in the style of computer games, the movie is strewn with on-screen flashes of comic book style text and computer game style popups.  They never get in the way – they simply enhance the sense of involvement.

The girl of Scott’s dreams is the enigmatic Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).  The character is both engaging and interesting.  The supporting cast around them is also excellent, the rest of the band in which Scott plays, and a small circle of friends and past-partners.  Alison Pill (as Kim Pine) steals every scene she’s in though, she is superb and delivers some of the funniest moments in the whole movie.

As we and Scott work our way through the various evil exes we learn more about all the characters, and in parallel we watch the band (Sex Bob-omb) rise in status.  The interplay between the characters is really the soul of the story and I’ve intentionally not mentioned a lot of that.  While the battle against the evil exes is the part the trailers focus on, the real story is the continuing personal development of everyone involved.  That’s where the heart of this story lies.  Although not constantly laugh out loud the movie has some excellent comic moments.  But again, it is the quality of the shots, the care with which each frame has been prepared and the beautiful cinematography that give that soul and comedy something to stand on.

The finale is both brilliant and satisfying and the final outcome was just what I hoped for.

Not everyone will like this movie.  It speaks in a language that may put some people off (some gaming culture and comic book references), although it’s more accessible I think than Watchmen.  I get that, it’s fine.  But a world with only one flavour of jam would be a terrible place (even if it was Strawberry).  And likewise, a world in which we only see huge action movies do well in the box office, or even get funding, would be a sad place.  I should have gone and supported Scott Pilgrim at the cinema.  Not just because it would have been an incredible movie going experience, not just because it’s probably the most enjoyable movie I’ve seen for a very long time, but because it deserved to get better box office numbers to show that people do want this kind of stuff.

And we do.  The DVD / Blu-ray sales will be excellent I’m sure.  But it should have gotten better box office takings.  I already apologised to Edgar Wright for my part in that.  You can do your bit.  Buy this movie, watch it, love it, and next time, go and support movies like it in the cinema.

I love you Beth Cooper

Every once in a while you can be surprised by a film.  I put I love you Beth Cooper on our LoveFilm rental list because the trailer had seemed quite amusing.  I’m so glad I did.

One the outside, this is a reasonably standard coming-of-age American highschool flick.  The main cast, a couple of newly graduated boys and a similar bunch of cheerleaders come together in amusing circumstances and learn lots about themselves, life and living.  But on the inside, it’s an always funny and often heartwarming story which is more than worth the time invested in watching it.

Denis Cooverman (Paul Rust) is convinced by his best friend Rich (Jack Carpenter) to be honest during his speech at the graduation.  He extols the virtues of honest during his speech and how people should take this moment to say the things they feel so that they don’t regret not saying them later.  Taking his own advice, he (among other things) declares his love for Beth Cooper (Hayden Panettiere), the head cheerleader and upsets her brawny, meat-head boyfriend in the process.

What follows is a collect of fast pace set pieces full of humour, some truly cringeworthy embarrassments and some entertaining and engaging dialogue.  There are almost no surprises, although you might not guess the exact outcome (which I actually thought worked really well), but there are some true laugh out loud moments and plenty of reasons to want to keep watching.

The wet towel fight is well worth watching.

Not as gross-out as the likes of American Pie or Road Trip, and certainly funnier than some of the more recent American Pie movies, I love you Beth Cooper is something I think I could watch again and again and enjoy every time.  It reminds me of Weird Science, and deserves to be just as much a cult classic.