Office Christmas Party (Cinema Review)

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15 – 105mins – 2016


 

PARTY LIKE IT’S 19:00

The night before last I donned my free Coca Cola Santa hat and got into the Christmas spirit for a Cineworld Unlimited Preview Screening of a raucous new ensemble comedy from the directorial duo behind Blades of Glory and The Switch, Will Speck and Josh Gordon. Not officially released in the UK until today (December 7th), Office Christmas Party certainly puts the “high” in Ding, Dong Merrily…

… Keep Scuttling!

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Ghostbusters (Cinema Review)

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12A – 116mins – 2016 – 3D


 

BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS

When director and co-writer Paul Bridesmaids Feig is sick of the spurious shit over-opinionated anonymous keyboard trolls sling his way on social media, he writes a biting retort into his controversial screenplay (“Ain’t no bitches be bustin’ ghosts!”). But basement-dwelling bell boy Rowan (Neil Casey) deals with his lowly lot in life in a far less passive-aggressive way: he opens a vortex between our world and the afterlife, allowing ghosts to inhabit New York City.

“If you see something, say something.”

So who you gonna call? The Masters of the Metaphy— or Ghostbusters, as they are more popularly known. But not as we have known them since 1984, as this highly-divisive 21 century reboot reimagines Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis’ apparition-zappers as theory-chasing paranormal investigators and publishers of “Ghosts From Our Past” Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) and Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy). These two temporarily-estranged BFFs are joined by nuclear engineer and equipment creator Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) and subway employee Patty (Leslie Jones), whose sat-nav-like knowledge of the city – and uncle’s hearse – come in mighty handy to the city-saving operation.

Written off before a single frame was filmed, GB ’16 is not the abomination the brigade of misogynistic, childhood-cherishing ‘fanboy’ naysayers feared – there are nods to the three decade franchise (from a bust of the late Ramis to an iconic 100ft parade balloon), winking cameos and respectful parallels aplenty (the firehouse; graffiti-inspired logo; Erin banging on the window of a restaurant a la Louis Tully). The new origin story and characters are, by-and-large, likable. Patty, in particular, is endearingly bullish and integrates well despite being the only non-scientist, while I have legitimately never like a Melissa McCarthy character as much as the charming and non-gregarious Abby.

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So, all good, then? Weeeell, sadly not. Granted this might well be a personal gripe given how I hated Feig’s crude and swear-stuffed spoof Spy (2015), and could happily take or leave The Heat (2013), but the humour in GB ’16 did not tally to my tastes at all. Often played far too broad, forced and occasionally veering close to embarrassing (Ozzy Osbourne and a particular joyriding spook, in particular). Feig and co-writer Katie MADtv Dippold managed to raise a smirk on my face less than a handful of times in nearly two hours…

Chris In the Heart of the Sea Hemsworth 8plays the flip-reversed role of (gasp!) male receptionist Kevin far too dippy – he’s so inexcusably dumb he’s almost offensive, while Kate McKinnon’s disingenuously quirky character traits left me stony-faced throughout. So, too, the influx of cheesy celebratory dance scenes. Yeah, it was vaguely comical once, but they are employed too often and for too long – and completely dominate the Easter Egg-stuffed closing credits.

The much-anticipated cameos from the stars of the iconic original films were somewhat hampered by a horrible tendency for all – bar Ernie “Winston” Hudson and Annie “Janine” Potts – to ham it up something chronic. Paul Feig clearly wanted this to be BIGGER, BOLDER and FUNNIER than ever before, which might explain why his spooks are neon-tinged. The CG special effects here to get a pass, however, as the bright style works with the movie’s zany exuberance.

Image result for ghostbusters uk posterHaving had to give another of my 80s favourites, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows a second chance following a week break, I may have to readjust/downgrade my expectations and re-watch Ghostbusters again next week. But my first impression from opening day is a disappointingly dispirited one, when I really hoped I’d come out feeling spirited away.

CR@B’s Claw Score: 2 stars

 

Sisters – Extended (DVD Review)

15 – 118mins – 2015


 

PARTIES AND RECREATION

“What the fuckenheimer” have I just watched?! Seriously, for comedy heavyweights like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, this pathetic trash – written by SNL sketch writer Paula Pell and directed by Pitch Perfect helmer Jason Moore – is beneath them. If Sisters is symptomatic of the quality of film the comedienne comrades are content with, then both should return to their far superior television projects.

Before I completely lose my rag, I’ll break from my rant for a synopsis: maturing parents Dianne Wiest and James Brolin have sold their family home in Orlando and downsized, giving their two daughters – recently-divorced Maura (Amy Poehler) and hot-headed single mother Kate (Tina Fey) – just days to clean out their childhood bedrooms and say goodbye to their old nest.

Unreasonably outraged by this ‘injustice’, these two 40-something siblings act like utter juvenile “twots” in kicking up a fuss, dragging their heels with any actual work and instead wasting their time embarrassing themselves in front of actual adults, attempting to put off the new owners by dressing like morons and organising one last kick-ass house party to reclaim that “high school feeling.”

Insensitive and immature are two descriptions which instantly spring to mind – particularly as Kate is a mother to a (rightfully) frustrated teenager (Madison Davenport), yet acts less responsibly than she does! The senior Ellis’ have all but given up on their heedless offspring, whose personalities verge on ignorant. John Leguizamo slums it as an equally out-of-touch former school friend refusing to grow up, while wrestler John Cena somehow manages to keep a straight face as imposing drug dealer Pazuzu.

“We have no energy for this goddamn shit.”

And neither did I, which is why I had to watch it in two sittings. The first time I was so exasperated by the pathetic unfunniness unfurling before me, that I was ashamed by my movie choice and chose to finish it alone. It isn’t a quick film, either, suffering from a Jud Apatow-esque aversion to precision. The DVD Extended cut simply adds to the misery by making this a painful two hours slog.

I will confess that I was slightly less averse to these repulsive characters second time around, however any jot of goodwill I had accumulated towards the film come the end credits was well and truly snuffed out when I made the masochistic mistake of watching the deleted scenes.

Like the unruly film, there’s a lot of extraneous material here (including an entire excised subplot involving a bored couple looking to spice up their marriage… by sleeping with other people), but the most offensive of all involved Kate’s shockingly violent response to the rightfully-annoyed new owners of the destroyed house! Yes, it was left out of the final film, but just proves the intolerable mindset of those behind it – there are no real world consequences for these immature wretches we are supposed to cheer on! Urgh.

“When you’re sober it’s like why would anyone do this?!”

Exactly, Kate. It’s no exaggeration to say I detested this “comedy,” and Sisters joins A Very Murray Christmas, Grimsby and Special Correspondents among the worst films I have had the uncomfortable displeasure of sitting through recently. Curious how they are all (so-called) comedies…

Okay, rant over.

CR@B Verdict: 1 star