Image: Columbia Pictures
There hasn’t been as obscenely ribald an animated comedy as Sausage Party to hit theatres since South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut, which is fitting. As South Park’s creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone have demonstrated first hand for nearly two decades, the easiest way to get people to accept subversive intelligence and bold truths is to bury them under obscenities, innuendoes, and fart jokes.
Photo: Universal Pictures
The Coen Brothers are an odd breed. They’re brilliant filmmakers, as their combined 28 Oscar nominations stand as testament to. But like Quentin Tarantino and the Wachowskis, they can be their own worst enemies sometimes.
So long as they treat the script and characters as the most important pieces of the picture, they invariably spin gold. (See: Blood Simple, Fargo, The Big Lebowski.) Whenever their visual eye and compulsion for cinematic homage take precedence, though, their movies end up misfires at best and forgettable at worst. (See: The Hudsucker Proxy, The Man Who Wasn’t There, The Ladykillers.)
Hail, Caesar!, the brothers’ first mainstream movie since 2010’s True Grit and their first “goofy” comedy since 2008’s Burn After Reading, has all the pieces to have been one of their greats. Unfortunately, they’re lost in a sea of half-sketched scenarios and overlong set pieces. Continue reading
Photo: Columbia Pictures
Remember when your parents told you to make fun of yourself before your bullies could, to deflate their insults? Someone told that to 22 Jump Street, too. It’s got some problems and much of it isn’t very original, but before you can even roll your eyes at the ridiculousness of its stupid premise or clichéd plot contrivances, the movie’s already making the joke. 22 Jump Street may be the most meta movie since Adaptation. and the most self-aware comedy since the Wayne’s World movies.
Photo: Focus Features
(This is Part 2 of a five-part series looking at the Oscar nominees in the eight major categories. For Part 1, click here.)
Ten supporting performances are nominated for Academy Awards each year: five male and five female. This year’s batch includes six first-time acting nominees, two previous nominees, and two Oscar winners.
Photo: Paramount Pictures
A year before The Wolf of Wall Street came out, Leonardo DiCaprio gave one of his best performances in Django Unchained, a three-hour movie that rarely took a wrong step for the first two-and-a-half hours, but went on for 30 minutes too long. The Wolf of Wall Street suffers from the same affliction.
Photo: Columbia Pictures
What has always made the best movies from the Judd Apatow factory different from other comedies is heart. The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Superbad, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall were all raunchy and vulgar, but beneath the R-rated jokes were characters dealing with real emotions in realistic ways.
When the emotions in an Apatow movie feel forced, it leads to Knocked Up’s rom-com plot between Katharine Heigl and Seth Rogen or the scattershot Pineapple Express, which seemed to forget it was even a comedy by the second half. This is the End – which isn’t an actual Apatow movie but does employ all of his usual actors, writers, and producers – showed incredible promise from the clever trailers, but sadly is much more akin to the latter movies than the former. Continue reading