Pitch Perfect 3 (Cinema Review)

12A – 93mins – 2017


 

THE CHAPTER BEFORE THE NEXT

Three years out of college, we re-join the (former) Barden Bellas as they embark on the next chapter of their lives… except none of them much like adult life and all are far too desperate to re-live their glory days and sing with their competition-winning a cappella troupe again. Hating their jobs and no longer with their boyfriends, they all jump at the opportunity to perform together one more time, at a set of concerts for the troops on an overseas United Services Organisation tour.

… Keep Scuttling!

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Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie (Cinema Review)

Image result for absolutely fabulous the movie 2016

15 – 94mins – 2016


 

P.R. DISASTER, DARLING

Older, saggier, fatter and more deluded than ever, celebrity-circling wannabe fashionista’s Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley) have finally blagged their way onto the big screen, 20 years after their BBC sitcom finished, and four years after the heavy-drinking, drug-abusing, fad-chasing catwalk cougars last appeared in a spat of 20th Anniversary specials.

In a bid to sign Kate Moss to her PR company, Edina becomes a tabloid target and social media pariah after accidentally knocking the fashion queen into the Thames. Determined to out-fox the paparazzi and escape the media firestorm, Eddy and Patsy jet off to Cannes in an attempt to live out a glamourous life of luxurious anonymity by marrying rich old flames on their deathbed.

Often crude, outrageous and eye-rollingly embarrassing, but with real heart hidden beneath the layers of frumpy fakery, the film’s biggest draw is its enviable bevvy of celebrity cameos – from Lulu to Christopher Biggins via Gwendoline “Captain Phasma” Christie, it would almost be easier to name people who don’t pop up on the guest-list for a cheeky wink to the audience. As the saying goes: It’s not what you know, but who.

Image result for absolutely fabulous the movie posterEssentially, in bringing Absolutely Fabulous to the movies, co-creator and writer Saunders does right everything that fellow promoted property Mrs. Brown’s Boys Da Movie failed to: it retains the sitcom’s desperate tone and snappy, scandalous laugh-or-gasp taste-testing humour over the course of an hour and half. It doesn’t reinvent the heel, nor will it win over any new fans, but Ab Fab lovers will all agree: Bolly good show, sweetie.

CR@B’s Claw Score: 3 stars

 

Grimsby (Cinema Review)


15 – 83mins – 2016


JAMES POND-SCUM

While his earliest and most famous alter ego – privileged suburban “rude boy” Ali G – also satirised the less distinguished subsects of modern British culture, at least Sacha Baron Cohen’s voice of da yoof was a subversive stereotype, cleverly used to embarrass the disillusioned middle class fools he chose to interview, starting with The 11 O’Clock Show from 1998-2000.

Over a decade and a half – and four wildly diverse personas of varying success – later, and Baron Cohen has once again turned his focus to the council house-lined estates of Benefit Street Britain with lager loving football hooligan Norman “Nobby” Butcher in action-comedy Grimsby (which was granted the wittier and more inventive title The Brothers Grimsby Stateside).

Except… gone is the self-aware parody underlying Ali G’s brashness. Gone, too, is the cheeky naivety which forgave Borat his cultural faux pas, leaving Nobby as a disgusting, crass, thoughtless yob who embraces loutishness and is blind to the foulness of the pit in which he and his largely extended family dwell. Why? Just because.

I can’t even give Grimsby some slack for its humour, because it is completely devoid of that, instead choosing truly hideous bad taste yuks (Daniel Radcliffe could sue!) over any form of sensitivity as family-proud Nobby tracks down his long-lost brother (Mark Strong) and tags along on his globe trotting top secret MI6 mission which culminates in a horrendously contrived showdown at the 2016 World Cup Finals’ firework finale.

No subject is sacred as AIDS, celebrities, child abuse, elephant penises, gay sex, obesity and the residents of the eponymous Lincolnshire fishing town are mined for some horribly unsubtle and misplaced “jokes”. On more than one occasion I considered storming out in disgust, only placated by the thankfully brisk running time (and the fact I was biding time before The Forest began).

What makes all of this all the more painful and unacceptable is the talent both on and off the screen! Isla Fisher scrapes a pass for being married to the lead actor, while UK small screen stars Johnny Vegas and Ricky Tomlinson can be forgiven for taking a theatrical gig – but what is Penélope Cruz, Mark Strong, Ian McShane and Rebel Wilson’s excuse for signing on for this foul, base dreck?!!

Director Louis LeTerrier was behind the lens of the popular Transporter films (minus last year’s Refuelled) and the frankly fabulous Now You See Me, while one of Baron Cohen’s two co-writers, Peter Baynham, has collaborated on such point-perfect comedic highlights as Alan Partridge, The Day Today and Brass Eye how could so much talent combine to make this atrociously diabolical insult to the genre??!

CR@B Verdict: 1 star

How To Be Single (Cinema Review)


15 – 110mins – 2016


ID4 – INDEPENDENCE DATE

Adapted from the 2008 debut novel by Sex and the City screenwriter Liz Tuccillo, this femme-focused guidebook on how to survive the harsh and often loveless perils of the modern dating game is in a similar vein to star-heavy relationship comedy She’s Just Not That Into You (2009).

Although sunny in nature and released in time for Valentine’s Day, this isn’t a cutesy rom-com for the hearts ‘n’ flowers brigade, or for the uber-sensitive recently heartbroken. No, How To Be Single subverts romantic traditions in a way that will best appeal to battle-hardened independent twenty-first century woman who aren’t offended watching beautiful rich New Yorkers “struggle” to find a partner.

Fifty Shades breakthrough star Dakota Johnson plays recently-graduated Alice, who spontaneously demands a break from her loving boyfriend of four years (Nicholas Braun), simply for the “experience” of single life. Community cutie Alison Brie is uptight love-hunter Lucy, desperate to find “the one” via strategic online dating. Rebel Pitch Perfect Wilson’s Robin just wants fun, fun, fun rather than any form of commitment, while Leslie Mann plays Alice’s big sister, the career-driven Meg who has no time for a partner or family in her busy life – or does she…?

The “modern” attitudes of many of the characters – including secondary players such as Damon Wayans Jr’s single dad David – infuriated me for their bafflingly selfish decisions and continued self-destructiveness, while the ensemble nature of the plot does occasionally lead to a patchy story. For instance, Lucy’s only connection to Alice’s meatier lead story is that she uses the wi-fi in the same bar, therefore great stretches pass where Lucy isn’t present. She is then crowbarred into Alice’s climatic birthday party (not quite sure how she wangled an invite considering they are effectively strangers) simply to give bachelor barman Tom (Anders Holm) a convenient stage on which to make a bold proposal.

The passage of time is also surprisingly swift, to cover Meg’s IVF pregnancy in full, but this does give the film a flighty tone, with time marked by the celebrating of public holidays, just to make it crystal clear (Christmas! St Patrick’s Day!). The decision to skip ahead three months in the middle of the film was a bizarre move, however, only really explained away in the almost out-of-character subsequent scene which came like a bolt out of the blue.

For all of my grievances, however, the film is buoyed by a terrifically fresh and enthusiastic cast who do perfectly encapsulate their roles, and there are giggles to be had, even if Alice isn’t technically learning how to be single for much of the runtime. But then How to Party, Bed-Hop and Make Random, Stupid Decisions does not a piffy title make. The climax is reached on a surprisingly pro-independent note, however, and I was pleased that not every character lived happily ever after. Told you it was subversive!

CR@B Verdict: 3 stars