Review: Love & Mercy

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DIR: Bill Pohlad • WRI:Oren Moverman, Michael Lerner • PRO: Jim Lefkowitz, Oren Moverman, Bill Pohlad, Clarie Rudnick Polstein, Ann Ruark, John Wells • DOP: Robert D. Yeoman  • ED: Dino Jonsäter • MUS: Atticus Ross  • CAST: Elizabeth Banks, John Cusack, Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Dee Wallace

 

Bill Pohlad’s biography of Beach Boy Brian Wilson delivers an on-point, touching and insightful portrayal of his life both personally and professionally.

The fact that the film is set both in the sixties and the eighties is enlightening. Wilson’s struggles with his mental health erupt around the time of seminal album Pet Sounds in the sixties, and by the eighties he has reached the depths of his psychosis.

A young Wilson, played by Paul Dano, is a clearly fraught, yet brilliant musician. He is struggling to overcome many obstacles, including unwilling band members, and an extremely unsupportive father. His intrepid musical ability is before his time, and some believe it to be too risky. This frustrates Wilson, and frustration is a key theme throughout this film. He is frustrated by his illness, his father and his music – and both Cusack and Dano capture this frustration perfectly.

It is clear that Wilson’s genius is somewhat spurred on by the on-going voices and noises in his head. These voices and noises seem to inspire him, and are the inspiration for much of the Beach Boys unique sound. Several scenes in the studio give an extremely authentic feel to the film, and parts feel quite documentary-like. For music fans, it is an insight into how some of the best sounds of the sixties developed.

As Wilson ages, John Cusack takes over the role. From here, it is evident that the illness has now dominated much of his personality, and changed him completely. There is hardly any lucidity left.

For this reason, using another actor to play an older, sicker Wilson was an excellent move. Had Pohlad used just one actor, his descent into madness would not have been as remarkable. John Cusack plays the aging rocker with a finesse and believability that hone in on the extent of his demise since the swinging sixties.

Similar to the sixties there is a constant barrage of people surrounding Wilson. Be it his manipulative Doctor (Giamatti) or his entourage, it seems that no matter what decade, there are always people telling him what to do and making decisions for him.

There are also some extreme highs in the movie, and it is not all incredibly depressing. A beautiful relationship develops between Melinda Ledbetter (Elizabeth Banks) and elements of this are quite sweet. This, blended with scenes that are extremely difficult to watch like Wilson in the depths of a sedative state, and in the grips of mental breakdowns, combine perfectly to leave viewers with a definitive view of his turbulent life.

Love and Mercy depicts the irony that was The Beach Boys and Brian Wilson impeccably. The music they created in the sixties was uplifting and vibrant. It was for dancing and surfing (even though they couldn’t surf…). But behind that unique sound that defined a generation was a man struggling with paranoid schizophrenia and slipping deeper into a psychosis, made only worse by the lifestyle and drugs of the time.

Sixties Wilson uses his music to express himself, and to appease the voices in his head, but it is not without its cost to his personal life, which is revealed by Cusack.

Both Cusack and Dano play the part of Wilson in their own different ways. Both actors capture his child-like innocence, and combine it with the very dark side of his illness. These contrasts work well to depict the life and loves of an artist whose music has been enjoyed for over fifty years, and no doubt will continue to be enjoyed for many more generations to come.

The fantastic soundtrack, exceptional writing, and of course true story mean that Love & Mercy is not just for fans of The Beach Boys, but for fans of music in general, particularly those with a penchant for a troubled genius.

Katie Kelly

 

12A (See IFCO for details)
121 minutes
 
Love & Mercy is released 10th July 2015
 
Love & Mercy– Official Website

 

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Review: Pitch Perfect 2

Pitch-Perfect-2-Plot-Details-Barden-Bellas

DIR: Elizabeth Banks • WRI: Kay Cannon PRO: Elizabeth Banks, Paul Brooks, Max Handelman, Jason Moore • DOP: Jim Denault • ED: Craig Alpert • DES: Toby Corbett • MUS: Mark Mothersbaugh • CAST: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Katey Sagal, John Michael Higgins, Elizabeth Banks

 

The Bellas are back! Anyone unfamiliar with the first film can easily be brought up to speed with this handy recipe: You take the mismatched underdogs of The Mighty Ducks (but a group of college girls), the subject matter (minus the nuns) of Sister Act 2, the risqué comedic commentators of Dodgeball and the knack for apparently spontaneous choreography and harmony of High School Musical/Glee. I don’t want to oversimplify it, but you may now be fully qualified to claim knowledge of the first Pitch Perfect film, except for the fussy little details of who people are or what actually happens.

It’s about a college acappella group.

Now you’re definitely fully qualified.

Pitch Perfect 2 rejoins the Barden Bellas a few years after the events of the last film and boy, so much has changed. And by that I mean one of the two characters who was a senior in the first film has graduated and moved on and no other character has developed in any respect. The roster of Bellas is pretty much entirely unchanged, with the exception of Flo Fuentes, who is very openly there to serve as the “Mexican, Guatemalan, it’s all the same” stereotype and the new girl, Emily, whose entire function is to replace the new girl from the first film, Beca. This fails somewhat, particularly because Beca is still a valued member of the Bellas but that can be overlooked because she has a fairly bare side story this time and no real character development whatsoever.

The film starts off with the Bellas performing for the president of the United States when an unfortunate mishap onstage leaves the group humiliated, ridiculed and with the future of the Bellas apparently hanging by a thread.

That’s right.

This film is pretty much a blow-by-blow replay of the first film with bigger versions of the same jokes and plot points scattered throughout. The inexplicable competitive riff-off being replaced by… exactly the same thing except in a fairly creepy mansion. The generally obnoxious all-male rival group from the first movie has been replaced with a much larger and more efficient, evil team from Germany (you know they’re evil because their routines use fire effects and they’re only physically capable of wearing entirely black outfits).

The awkward, incredibly needy and persistent forced love story about a geeky guy who likes (stalks) a girl has been replaced by an awkward, much nerdier and persistent forced love story about the uncomfortable magic enthusiast who’s friends with the geeky guy and his courtship(stalkship) of a much younger girl. The plot is far from fresh but it’s the jokes that were really the staple of the first movie and, well, you’ll get to see a lot of those old favourites again. The misogynistic male commentator continues to be a complete pig, which was funny, when the other characters and the audience were rolling their eyes at him together, but the Latina Flo makes constant references to her life in Latin America that reinforce so many negative stereotypes with absolutely no apology. The one joke that was an absolute pleasure to see again was everything said by the hauntingly hilarious Lilly, whose murmurs sound like the stuff of Tim Burton’s small talk and it hasn’t lost its punch.

It’s perhaps not fair to judge this film too much by its plot. This film is there to be enjoyed and there are laughs aplenty. What jokes are used are well executed and the cast is well and truly on point, with the main exception being Snoop Dogg and the Greenbay Packers in a pair of fairly clumsy cameos. Physical comedy walks hand in hand with gross-out laughs and this film really does work, when it stops trying to convince us that it has an (or five) emotionally significant storyline(s).

Pitch Perfect 2 is much less than a follow-up to the first film and more like a very well executed remix of the exact same thing. To paraphrase the film, “It’s not an original, it’s a cover”, but it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it.

Ronan Daly

12A (See IFCO for details)

114 minutes
Pitch Perfect 2 is released 15th May 2015

Pitch Perfect 2 – Official Website

 

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Cinema Review: The Lego Movie

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DIR/WRI: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller PRO: Roy Lee, Dan Lin MUS: Mark Mothersbaugh DOP: Barry Peterson, Pablo Plaisted ED: David Burrows, Chris McKay DES: Grant Freckelton, CAST: Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman

 

You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.’

These words, famously stated by gatekeeper Morpheus to describe The Matrix in the iconic film from 1999, might at first appear to have little to do with The Lego Movie. How could the Wachowskis’ dystopian diatribe against the hyper-real, mass-media environment of the late 20th century have anything in common with a film which functions at its most superficial as a 100 minute advertisement for children’s brick-based playsets? Yet, some clear parallels can be observed in the story of an average man, traversing a metaphorical rabbit-hole to be told that reality as he knows it is a deceptive construction; but he is a long-promised saviour, come to fulfil the prophecy of shattering this illusion and saving the world.

The hero of The Lego Movie may even be more expressive than The Matrix’s Keanu Reeves – the yellow-faced Legoman, Emmett (Pratt), a mild-mannered construction worker. His daily routine is dictated by ‘the instructions’, a technical bible which guides him on how to fit in, make friends, and be happy. The (Lego) Matrix undeniably has him: We see it when he looks out the window to greet the day (to see every other Lego-man and woman looking out the window, greeting the day), or when he turns on his television (to watch the universally-seen sitcom, Where are my Pants?). It is a ritual-driven world, pulled over his eyes to protect him from the truth – which in this case, is that its seemingly-benevolent ruler, President Business, is secretly planning to destroy the world.

When Emmett accidentally stumbles upon a priceless relic, the key to disarming President Business’ most deadly weapon, he is mistakenly identified as ‘The Special,’ an extraordinary person heralded as the saviour who will thwart President Business. Recruited into a troupe of renegade ‘master builders,’ famous figures who play by their own rules, the overwhelmed and underprepared Emmett begins his quest through a maze of secret tunnels, other realms, and the idea that the instructions are just the beginning.

The plot is as by-the-numbers as Emmett’s instructions, but the joy of The Lego Movie is in its execution. Writer/director team Phil Lord and Christopher Miller bring the same self-effacing reflexivity to The Lego Movie as we saw in their previous zany capers, 21 Jump Street and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, which opens it up in a number of fairly astonishing ways for a film about Lego.  Themes of conformity vs. creativity, free will vs. fate and determinism, along with surprisingly on-point commentary about monopolist multinational corporations and the increasing specialisation of Lego playsets reducing creativity and self-determination are introduced – but, fittingly for a Lego movie, in a playful and accessible way that can always be broken down and reshaped.

Visually, the film delights in its own ‘Lego-ness,’ with intangible properties like water, smoke and fire being rendered in the small round pieces and shiny plastic familiar from Lego sets, as well as using the interlocking characteristics of its bricks to great effect. While the action is largely computer-generated, it retains the erratic energy and aesthetic of stop-motion animation which perfectly complements the film’s humour.

The Lego Movie’s cast of characters is joyously brought to life by a hilariously self-aware script and lively voice-acting. Parks and Recreation star Chris Pratt brings his characteristic brand of earnest positivity and expert comic timing to our hero Emmett, a character believably out of his depth.

There are no missteps in the huge supporting cast either; Elizabeth Banks makes for a punky, articulate heroine, while Liam Neeson’s conflicted Good Cop/Bad Cop is a particular highlight, and Will Arnett’s Batman may be one of the most enjoyably self-aware portrayals of the character in recent memory. (Your move, Ben Affleck.) Alison Brie, Nick Offerman and Charlie Day capably round out the ‘who’s-who of US sitcoms’ filling out Emmett’s team as the bubbly Unikitty, mutant cyborg pirate Metalbeard, and Benny, The 1980-Something Spaceman. (Keep your ears peeled too for other famous cameos, including Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill from 21 Jump Street reprising their double act as a couple of superheroes.)

The Lego Movie, particularly in a striking third-act narrative rupture, could maybe be read as a metaphor for the state of the Lego corporation as it stands in the 21st century –as a battle between individual, creative thought and disciplined, specific model-making. But it can just as easily be seen as a hilarious caper about what happens when you stop following instructions and start having fun. Built to last, The Lego Movie could be Toy Story for the 21st century.


Stacy Grouden

G (See IFCO for details)
125  mins

The Lego Movie is released on 14th February 2014

The Lego Movie – Official Website

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Cinema Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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DIR: Francis Lawrence  • WRI: Simon Beaufoy, Michael Arndt • PRO: Nina Jacobson, Jon Kilik • DOP: Jo Willems • ED: Alan Edward Bell •  DES: Philip Messina •  MUS: James Newton Howard • CAST: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland

The first instalment of The Hunger Games was an entertaining adaptation of the first novel in the series of three. The unique concept of the novel and its futuristic setting was enough to keep the story moving. However, it was the undeniably charismatic charm of its lead Jennifer Lawrence that brought heart to the story. Lawrence (along with her Oscar) and her fellow cast mates return with Catching Fire to see if they can replicate their success, this time with director Francis Lawrence (I am Legend).

Catching Fire is actually an improvement on its predecessor, the story is darker with Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) beginning to look outside of her immediate situation to see the harsh reality of the people of Panem’s lives. Rebellion is on the horizon and the bleakness of their world is apparent. While the danger for Katniss and her partner Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) in the first film is confined to the arena where the Hunger Games are conducted, in Catching Fire the danger is omnipresent and cannot be escaped.

We join Katniss and Peeta when they have survived the Hunger Games of the first film and are now being paraded in front of the districts to calm the mounting disquiet of the inhabitants. The creepy President Snow (Donald Sutherland) has plans for their demise and the threat of a real war is increasing. The inevitable love triangle is not as important a storyline as in other teenage blockbusters, with it being almost an inconvenience to the strong female lead of Katniss. In a post-Twilight world it has been a delight for audiences and critics alike to have a female lead like Katniss, whose concerns stretch a lot further than which boy to pick, and she is the polar opposite to the weak Bella Swan.

The only failing with the film is its length, at nearly two and a half hours it does drag in the middle, with the period in the arena the tightest and most exciting. The time in the arena brings home the themes of dystopia and is truly scary at times with all contestants out of their depth and fighting for their lives. Catching Fire is what a blockbuster should be like, and the male heroes of Superman, Batman and countless Marvel films could learn a thing or two from the ever-natural appeal of Lawrence. I, for one, hope Lawrence can keep this success rolling into its final two films.

Ailbhe O’ Reilly

12A  (See IFCO for details)

146  mins

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is released on 22nd November 2013

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire– Official Website

 

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Cinema Review: Pitch Perfect

 

DIR: Jason Moore   WRI: Kay Cannon  PRO: Elizabeth Banks, Paul Brooks, Max Handelman   CAST: Anna Kendrick, Skylar Astin, Anna Camp, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson, Elizabeth Banks

Trends seem to have an unpredictable life span. The entertainment industry will clearly jump on any bandwagon, ride it (and drain it) for all it is worth and sadly still be making films in that narrow niche area long after the rest of the world has moved on.

No prizes for guessing that it’s the shadow of Glee that hangs over this college based comedy about competitive acapella singing. It’s hard for the unwieldy release of a feature to compete with a weekly TV show and still rival it for relevance. In fact, based on my cursory knowledge of Glee (I swear to God it’s cursory) I know that this film doesn’t just cover the same territory as the TV show but it also covers some of the same songs.

That said, it’s a pleasure to report that Pitch Perfect is not some dead-eyed cynical cash in. Sure it’s surprising that it needed to be based on a book in the first place but it does have a sparky undercurrent of genuine wit and is populated by amiable performers with Anna Kendrick leading the cast with her now customary charm. She plays Beca who is reluctantly attending a college where her father is Dean. Determined to remain anti-social while covertly pursuing a career as a DJ, she is reluctantly recruited to the Bellas – an all-female acapella group lead by the highly strung Aubrey (Anna Camp).

Aubrey’s conservative musical choices are boring the bejasus out of judges, choir commentators and members of her own vocal group. There’s a recurring gag about the choir endlessly reprising Ace of Base’s ‘The Sign’ to the muted despair of audiences. Predictably with Beca’s established fondness for remixing and ‘mash ups’, the two girls are on collision course. Although in terms of dramatic stakes, the battle for supremacy is a bit too gentle at times.

Complaining about corny or cringey scenes in a film like this is mainly redundant. Most of the time it’s the exact effect that the filmmakers are aiming for. The smarmy male rivals from the same campus provide plenty of such moments. On a weaker note, (ahem) there’s a regrettable reliance on projective vomiting for negligible comedic return. If anything elevates the film, it’s the impressive ensemble female cast with Rebel Wilson shining as the self dubbed Fat Amy. There’s also a hilariously soft spoken Asian girl who continually confesses terrible things at a volume only dogs could hear.

Musically, the film offers few highlights. Even Beca’s supposedly superior musical taste seems remarkably mainstream and unsophisticated. Remixing ‘Bust a Move’ may be a connective reference to the same song’s use in her breakthrough film Up in the Air but it doesn’t establish her own character in this film especially well.  However, her initially faltering version of ‘No Diggity’ that eventually clicks with her troupe is a mini-triumph. Elsewhere, my ears might be deceiving me but the actual live performances seem to quickly abandon the core concept of the music just being formed from vocals.

There are a few other incidental pleasures in the film too. Producer Elizabeth Banks casts herself as one of those ‘Best in Show’-type commentators who undercut the on-stage sweetness with a dose of acid reality. Though in an odd aberration and massive oversight the film doesn’t actually fully establish who she and co-host John Michael Higgins are actually talking to. They don’t seem to be speaking to the audience in the arena or to TV cameras so who exactly are they addressing their quips to? Each other? Maybe they’re just two lunatics with laptops who wandered in.

There’s further accidental amusement in the casting of Kendrick & Co who are all clearly a decade too old to be playing college girls. Still, even these choices add an extra air of enjoyment to a film that could easily be picked apart by nit-picking but hey, it’s hard to be too down on it at this time of year. If you know what to expect, you should have a good time. If you know it’s not your bag then steer clear.

James Phelan

Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)

112 mins

Pitch Perfect is released on 21st December 2012

Pitch Perfect  – Official Website

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siEHekc-1oE

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Cinema Review: The Hunger Games

Franchise Alert!

DIR: Gary Ross • WRI: Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, Billy Ray • PRO: Nina Jacobson, Jon Kilik • DOP: Tom Stern • ED: Stephen Mirrione, Juliette Welfling • DES: Philip Messina • Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks

Fans of Suzanne Collins’ hugely successfully series of books have been on the defensive since this adaptation is being referred to as ‘Twilight meets The Running Man‘, whereas those previously unaware of the tween-lit hits are seeing this movie as little more than “Battle Royale with all the violence taken out, and replaced with a love story.” As it turns out, both descriptions are vaguely accurate, but in no way is that necessarily a bad thing.

Katniss Everdeen (a perfectly cast Jennifer Lawrence) is living in the coal-mining town of District 12, one of the poorer districts of a Panem, a futuristic, post-war America. In order to keep the population in line, every year the President (Donald Sutherland) organises The Hunger Games, where a boy and girl aged between 12 and 18 are picked at random from each district, and all 24 teens are placed into a huge arena to hunt and kill each other on live television. When her frail younger sister is picked, Katniss volunteers to take her place, and heads off to the Capital with fellow District 12-er Peeta (Josh Hutcherson).

From here Katniss and Peeta are primped and prepped for The Hunger Games by a host of well-known actors (Woody Harrelson, Wes Bentley, Stanley Tucci, Lenny Kravitz and a scene-stealing Elizabeth Banks), all of whom help bring weight or levity when and where required. Then it’s off to the arena, and all hell breaks loose…

The worrying 12A rating had some folk concerned that the pretty-darn-violent novel would be toned down some, and while it never goes for OTT gore, there are more than enough stabbings, bludgeonings, poisonings, impalings and neck-snappings to put those worries to rest. Intensity is the name of the game here, with director Gary Ross going all Paul Greengrass with shaky, handheld camera-work getting up close and personal with every fight scene. And when the film slows down to take an emotional beat, those are perfectly handled too, with one scene in particular that should have the entire audience wiping away a tear.

As an adaptation, the movie is a massive success, thanks its fantastic cast and amazing production design, as well as Oscar®-worthy make-up and costume designs, and while there are some omissions and alterations from the novel, it’s nothing that will ruin the experience. But as a stand-alone movie, it does have some minor problems. While it doesn’t feel as long as its epic 142-minute running time, it is a movie that has A LOT of story to tell, which can sometimes bog the tempo down a little bit. Also, side-lining someone as talented as Toby Jones and someone as handsome as Liam Hemsworth into virtually non-existing roles seems like something of a waste. But these are minor niggles when compared to the triumph of setting up such a complicated universe so well, and leaving the audience wanting more, which they’ll get when sequel Catching Fire hits cinemas in November 2013.

Rory Cashin

Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)
The Hunger Games is released on 23rd March 2012

 

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Cinema Review: Man on a Ledge

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DIR: Asger Leth • WRI: Pablo F. Fenjves • PRO: Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Mark Vahradian • DOP: Paul Cameron • ED: Kevin Stitt • DES: Alec Hammond • Cast: Sam Worthington, Elizabeth Banks, Jamie Bell

Man on a Ledge has a different take on the standard heist movie format. Sam Worthington plays an ex-cop who breaks out of prison maintaining that he was framed by a diamond seller and an all round heartless capitalist (Ed Harris). After his escape, he checks into a Manhattan hotel and climbs out on to the ledge threatening suicide. We soon learn that this is a rouse to distract the city from his brother and his girlfriend who are attempting to steal a diamond from Harris’s building across the road.

This is an interesting premise but the plot doesn’t have many surprises. The twists are revealed quickly and it doesn’t take long before we are told who wronged who. There’s a lot of background information needed to tell the story as the entire plot derives from events in the past. When we do get background information about the characters it is heavy handed and we don’t really get to know them. It was pleasing to see the negotiator played by a female (Elizabeth Banks) and watching her battle against the man’s world is enjoyable. Sam Worthington and Ed Harris play out their roles well (even though Worthington does lose his American accent at particularly stressful times on the ledge) but ultimately their characters are quite two dimensional. The brother (Jamie Bell) and his girlfriend (Genesis Rodriguez) are an attempt to bring comic relief from the intensity of the ledge but this doesn’t work because their dialogue falls flat. In particular, the girlfriend character is truly tiresome. To be fair, the actress does not have much to work with and the purpose of her role is pretty clear with excessive shots of her breasts and a scene dedicated to her changing into a PVC outfit. The funny moments in the film arise from the depiction of media and the reaction from the enthusiastic and cynical New Yorkers who look on.

Faults with the characters and plot aside, the film does look impressive. There are some truly nerve-wracking moments that will have you reeling if you are uneasy with heights. The camera is constantly veering up and around the building and this really creates the sensation for the audience (without the need for 3D). The dramatic tension comes from this rather than the storyline but is impressive enough to make the film an enjoyable watch.

Soracha Pelan Ó Treasaigh

 

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)

Man on a Ledge is released on 3rd February 2012

Man on a Ledge – Official Website

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Meet Dave

Meet Dave
Meet Dave

DIR: Brian Robbins • WRI: Rob Greenberg, Bill Corbett • PROD: Jon Berg, David T. Friendly, Todd Komarnicki • DOP: J. Clark Mathis • ED: Ned Bastille • DES: Clay A. Griffith • CAST: Eddie Murphy, Elizabeth Banks, Gabrielle Union, Austyn Myers, Ed Helms, Scott Caan

The trailers for the latest family film starring Eddie Murphy seemed to indicate a review would be a no-brainer. Of course the film would be predictable in its plot advancement and conventional in its conclusion. So why would I recommend that you take your family to see Meet Dave? What can I say, Meet Dave passes the great genre acid test – I laughed out loud and, for a moment, forgot I was inside a theatre packed with happily entertained children. And that is really the goal of the family comedy: keeping the kids blissfully distracted while giving the parents a chance to laugh as well.

Implausible and ridiculous as the plot may be, what works about the film is the myriad of well-timed jokes ranging from toilet humour to more sophisticated cultural witticism. From the beginning, what aides the viewer in forgiving the silliness of an Eddie Murphy-shaped spacecraft manned by a crew of tiny alien beings, crash landing face first on Liberty Island in New York City, is the humorous drama which then unfolds as the alien crew adapts to manipulating the craft amongst actual humans. Eddie Murphy, who is famous for many reasons, one of which is playing more than one character in a movie, attempts a simplified version of this talent by playing both the spacecraft and the tiny alien captain inside the comparatively massive ship. While at times Murphy’s performances seem to depend too heavily upon his trademark mischievous smile, using this method in Meet Dave, he effectively elicited laughter from the audience, proving the smile technique an oldie but goodie. Right away it is made clear that the ultimate mission of these aliens is to capture a source of energy on Earth in order to save their own depleted and dying planet, a plot which seems all too pertinent to current human environmental fears. The gloom and doom of such a prospect is not overly dwelled upon. The problematic consequence of Earth-raiding aliens fades neatly into the background of a classic tale of aliens becoming smitten with humanity. This does not mean, however, that the film is devoid of dark sentiment, but rather smartly remembers its purpose is to entertain, not preach.

Overall, the quick-paced sequences and abundant action scenes, combined with the continuous flow of non-offensive comedic narrative and well-timed performances by the film’s diverse cast, make Meet Dave a safe choice for feel-good family entertainment.

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