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Schmaltzy rather than edgy, but still heartwarming
For the first half hour or so, Seeking a Friend... seems to think of itself as an edgy, cynical film. People hurl themselves from buildings, partyers while away the last weeks with heroin and the media names humanity's two highlights as Jesus and Oprah. It's funny and dark, even if its targets are a bit broad.
Then the film makes a very abrupt turn away from dark humour towards light-hearted, vinyl-records-based romance. The exploration of characters on the brink of certain death (the housekeeper who refuses to stop cleaning the flat and the trucker who tells his entire life story - and his dad's for good measure - are real highlights) simply fades away, and you could even forget that the world was ending at all. While it's still enjoyable, the two halves don't always gel, and from there on the plot and emotional developments are clearly signposted. Carell's dour insurance broker and Knightley's free-spirited slacker form, of course, an unlikely romance, both encounter old lovers, and make peace with their parents. After such an interesting and unique first half, it's a shame to see the film fall into such a well-worn groove, and similarly, it's sad to see the film's emotional climax, where death is faced with dignity, selflessness and stoicism, undercut by a clichéd ending that undermines everything the characters had spent the last hour doing, all for the sake of a happy ending.
But I'd be lying if I said it didn't make me choke up a bit.
Dreadful, incomprehensible and worst of all: pointless.
Romeo and Juliet: Sealed with a Kiss (DO YOU SEE WHAT THEY DID THERE? IT'S ABOUT SEALS!) is possibly the laziest excuse for a film I've ever seen. There are maybe 5 surnames in the credits to this film - clearly the backers of this film called in every family favour they could. One of the characters, a talking fish, is played by the director's daughter, for instance. She sounds about 8. She gets to sing a solo of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. This should give you some idea of the sheer skill and respect for the craft that went into this.
First of all, an interpretation of Romeo and Juliet where no-one dies feels... well, redundant. You can't really take one of the great tragedies and tack on a happy ending. Doubly so if that happy ending involves Mercutio surfboarding in taking racist jokes with the punchlines replaced by the word "Capulet".
Also, there is a dance scene on the Titanic. I don't know why these awful children's films feel the need to use the deaths of thousands for cheap laughs, but it's a trend that is apparently spreading.
And when it's all said and done, the Shakespeare content is pretty weak. The family rivalry is replaced by lazy racism, characters are cut or merged to the point of nonsense (we want Tybalt!), the ending is changed, all the scenes describing their courtship are cut and replaced with badly sung musical numbers, and yet Mercutio feels the need to constantly quote other Shakespeare plays! And use words like "thou" and "wherefore" wrongly, which isn't very educational at all.
All in all: hilarious for adults who know Shakespeare and are drunk. Weak otherwise.
Hilariously cheesy camp
Whether or not you like this depends on whether or not you like Nicholas Cage. Knowing is basically the purest essence of a Nick Cage film - Cage plays a hard-as-nails atheist astrophysicist single dad, distant from his religious father and improbably brainy son, who finds a long sheet of numbers in a time capsule. Cage picks a random string of 8 from the sheet, and by sheer luck picks the exact numbers that somehow predict the Sept 11 attacks.
Much of the rest of the film consists either of Cage staring at a sheet of paper as a look of wispy stoned horror builds on his face, running blankly as various pieces of transport infrastructure explode around him, or having "tender" moments with his 9-year-old son, who speaks entirely in stilted Professor speak ("I'm afraid that I think that's rather unlikely, Dad"). The film alternates between ridiculously slow (Cage must spend at least two minutes of screen time just sipping liquor) and insanely fast (Try to work out what is going on during the action scenes. Here's a hint - you can't), and builds to severely creepy (but admittedly quite brave) ending of sheer WTF-ery, religious metaphor and implied prepubescent sex. Treat this film as a serious action-mystery and you'll hate it - treat it as a cheesy B-movie and you'll love it.
Even worse than Meet the Spartans
Name everything that's bad about recent comedies: the pointless gross-out humour, the gratuitous celebrity cameos, the wafer-thin plot, the fat/ugly jokes, the punchline-less jokes that consist of nothing but a reference to ephemeral American popular culture. Pretty good, but there's something missing - that one missing ingredient in this boiling pot of cinematic calamity.
And in Zohan, Adam Sandler appears to have found that one component required for this perfect storm of bad movie-making to occur - racist jokes. The vast majority of "jokes" in Zohan consist of little more than "Jews are penny-pinching cheats" or "Arabs are poor, stupid goat herders". What little characterisation anyone who is not Adam Sandler gets is either "hummus-eating weirdo" (Israeli) or "angry cab-driving terrorist" (Palestinian).
The plot is abandoned relatively fast in favour of Zohan having sex with lots of old ladies, and a nonsensical climax involving Mariah Carey shamelessly plugging her album. Don't say you weren't warned.
The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)
A film. Nothing happens. Man's inhumanity to film. Progress.
Nothing bothers some people - not even awful movies:
Joseph Javorsky. Noted scientist. From behind the Iron Curtain. Role not explained. Secret data. Flag on the moon. A man shot. An awful film.
A man runs. Somebody shoots at him. 110 in the shade. There is no shade. Actual lines. From the movie.
Touch a button. The stop button. Things don't happen. The a-bomb. A man transformed into a beast. His wife and children killed and hungry.
Unrelated subplots. A woman strangled. Reasons uncertain. Couple murdered. The wheels of progress keep on turning. Pointless nudity. Secret data. Police incompetent. Noted scientist. Two boys feed soda pop to the thirsty pigs.
No-one talks. At least not on screen. Narrator drones. Sentence fragments. Not yet caught up in the whirlwind of progress.
How did this film get made? Shoot first, write script later.
Coleman Francis. Noted bad film-maker.
Meet the Spartans (2008)
Appalling waste of celluloid
When some people look back on their life, their greatest regret will be not spending more time with their children, or not telling that special someone their feelings, or not trying harder in high school and getting a comfortable job. Mine however will be handing over £5.50 of my money to the incompetent duo who made this film and sitting through the 70 most deeply boring/embarrassing minutes of my life in a cinema when I could be doing something more fun. What? Almost anything.
This film has no redeeming features. From the soundtrack, which consists solely of cheap hip-hop and inept remixes of dance songs, to the effects, most of which wouldn't look out of place in an amateur Be Kind Rewindesque fan parody (if you want to parody Transformers, then at LEAST make your vehicles, you know, TRANSFORM), to the acting (clearly they think they can get away with the shoddiest, hammiest high-school play acting, so long as they punctuate it with fanservicey images of Carmen Elektra), is so poorly executed you wonder whether the makers of this film are deliberately doing everything they were told not in film school.
Special mention of course goes to the humour. Whether it's a "hilarious" bodily fluid splatter joke, a very 'political' jab against some Hollywood celebrity (oh, Britney shaving her head! Clever), "postmodern" product-placement (ie, adverts so blatant you just stare on aghast) or a reference to some obscure minutiae of American popular culture (half the reality shows references will be forgotten within a year), there's not an intentional laugh in the film. The only points that even raised a chuckle were: a) the terrible lookalikes (apparently, the only criteria for being a Paris Hilton lookalike is that you are blond), b) the shoddy effects, c) the nonsensical casting of "the fat guy from Borat" as Xerxes and the moronic narrator telling us "Xerxes looked like the fat guy from Borat". See, the thing is, he really didn't.
My only wish is that cinemas gave out refunds. If they did, this film would most definitely be worth your money back.