Cinema Review: The Other Women

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DIR: Nick Cassavetes • WRI: Melissa Stack  PRO: Julie Yorn • DOP: Robert Fraisse • ED: Jim Flynn, Alan Heim • MUS: Aaron Zigman • DES: Dan Davis • CAST: Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann, Kate Upton, Nicki Minaj

When former party girl Carly (Cameron Diaz) discovers that her Mr Perfect beau Mark has a wife, Kate (Leslie Mann), the women scorned set out to tear down the man that betrayed them both. Introduce yet another mistress Amber (Kate Upton) and you have a recipe for this year’s best slapstick comedy. Or so the makers behind this debacle obviously thought.

Clearly trying to capitalise on the success of 2011’s female-centric comedy Bridesmaids, director Nick Cassavettes and writer Melissa Stack apparently thought that getting a group of women together and putting them through numerous farcical sets followed by a couple of epiphanies and a switcheroo on the other woman genre would be original enough to garner critical praise and couple of hundred million at the box office.

They seemed to have forgotten however that the magic of Bridesmaids was the clever script and the always amusing interplay between the characters. In The Other Woman every scene feels like they are just biding time until they move on to the next slapstick gag. These gags include hair removal dumped into Mark’s shampoo, oestrogen in morning shakes and laxatives in drinks, and then we are expected to laugh for five minutes as the aftermath unfolds. These scenes, slightly funny as some of them may be, cannot do enough to save The Other Woman from its meandering script. It clearly cannot decide what sort of movie it wants to be. It has been advertised as a raucous comedy promoting female empowerment and the first hour tries to run with that as much as it can, but it inadvertently slides away from this by the end of the film.

The performances are fine with Diaz probably playing the most straight of the three women and anchoring the irrational life questioning of Mann’s Kate and the naive absent-mindedness of Upton’s Amber (whose acting skills would be severely questioned only for the fact that she was aptly cast as a bimbo). Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is a lot of fun as the smarmy, philandering Mark and Nicki Minaj churns out a surprisingly good comedic performance as Carly’s colleague with questionable morals.

The ‘women scorned’ concept and the likeability of Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann are sure to make this one a modest box-office success at the very least, while the inclusion of Kate Upton and finding clever ways to have her in a bikini for half the movie will also bring some men to the cinema. Unfortunately, however, there are far too many flaws for the vast majority to get over to enjoy this one.

Sean Brosnan

12A (See IFCO for details)
109 mins

The Other Woman is released on 23rd April 2014

The Other Woman – Official Website

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Cinema Review: Mr Peabody and Sherman

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DIR: Rob Minkoff   WRI: Craig Wright  PRO: Denise Nolan Cascino, Alex Schwartz  ED: Tom Finan   MUS: Danny Elfman  DES: David James  CAST: Ty Burrell, Max Charles, Ariel Winter, Stephen Colbert, Leslie Mann, Allison Janney, Stanley Tucci, Lake Bell, Patrick Warburton, Mel Brooks

 

STOP. DO NOT CLICK OFF THIS PAGE…

I’m not one for stereotyping or profiling but I have a sense of the average Film Ireland reader. And I’m sensing kids’ animations get short-shift from you lovers of interminable European arthouse dirges and avid fans of restored silent black and white Eskimo epics from 1936.

What can I do to change your collective mindset? All I can say is that if you pass over this film with your snooty cineaste nose held aloft, then you are potentially missing one of the early unexpected highlights of 2014. (If you have a snotty cineaste nose – go see a doctor. That’s a whole other condition). So do you hate enjoying yourself? Do you hate laughter? Do you hate children?

If you’re still here, you’ll be happy to hear that I’m not exaggerating. This is a little gem of an animation bristling with verve, imagination and genuine warmth. I’m blissfully ignorant of the original TV show (bar a tangential reference in a Simpsons time travel episode) but I instinctively doubt it was as subversive and sharp as this modern re-imagining.

The film centres on and celebrates the relationship between a super-smart canine Mr Peabody and his adopted human boy Sherman. Even in an animated fictional world, their pure and mutual affection is viewed with incredulity and suspicion. Sherman becomes self conscious about having a dog as a dad when he starts a new school. However he is proud enough of his guardian’s inventions to try and impress a classmate by showing her a top-secret time travel machine. When they start to zip and rip through the fabric of history, their only option is to confide in Mr Peabody and trust that his genius brain can re-impose order on the past.

Naturally this playful confection has a zany take on history from Troy to the French Revolution but by jingo – there’s a subtle yet substantial educational pill inside this candyfloss entertainment.  Yet, the film is never less than an irreverent and rollicking adventure. Summed up by the duo developing a habit of being ejected from any animal shaped construct whether Sphinx or Trojan horse by the rear exit – if you get my drift. And it’s hilarious.

On paper, the character of the know-it-all Mr Peabody could easily be a bore or just plain annoying. However he is brilliantly personified by the dulcet tones of Ty Burrell (who is equally impressive as the effete father Phil Dunphy in TV’s Modern Family). As well as undercutting his boffin status with practical shortcomings and occasional over-confidence, Burrell imbues the dog with palpable insecurities. The stiff upper lip of the character is adroitly established with the clever deployment of a discernible trace of an English accent in the vocal performance. On the back of this wonderful work, I envisage Burrell being a stalwart on the voiceover scene for the foreseeable future.

Much like veteran vocal artist Patrick Warburton who is hysterical in the Troy sequence as an empty headed but overly emotive Agamemnon.  That entire section has me in stitches from the moment the occupiers of the main Trojan horse are fooled into bringing a much smaller wooden horse into their covert hiding place. Again, the film operates superbly but differently for kids and adults. The comedic peak of the film’s ambitious climax is a supremely naughty reference that kids will be blissfully oblivious of.

And though rampant incessant entertainment would have been reward enough, the film even has an emotional arc that resonates without being cloying or overly saccharine. The writer Craig Wright must be singled out even in this most collaborative art form. His script zings and fizzes with giddy creativity but in fairness, the visuals are exceptional too.

Even the 3-D is expertly and continually utilised to accentuate the storytelling. And that really is rare. Most 3-D in this field focuses on the opening sequence and perhaps is again concentrated on during the closing stretch. An entire raft of animated films has displayed this token approach to 3D but this film distinguishes itself by never forgetting about the extra dimension. From sword fights to snake fangs or angles that emphasise the height and depth of an Egyptian tomb, the effect is, for once, mesmerizing.

Kids of a certain age love watching favourite films over and over again. This title will instantly enter that firmament. Personally, I could have easily sat through it a second time just after the first screening had concluded. When’s the last time that happened in the cinema?

James Phelan

G (See IFCO for details)
92  mins

Mr Peabody and Sherman is released on 7th February 2014

Mr Peabody and Sherman – Official Website

 

 

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Cinema Review: The Bling Ring

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DIR: Sofia Coppola  WRI: Sofia Coppola, Nancy Jo Sales  PRO: Roman Coppola, Sofia Coppola, Youree Henley  DOP: Christopher Blauvelt, Harris Savides  ED: Sarah Flack  DES: Anne Ross  Cast: Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Emma Watson, Claire Julien, Taissa Farmiga, Leslie Mann

 

Sofia Coppola’s fifth film is an at times enjoyable if not in depth look at The Bling Ring story, based on the article ‘The Suspects Wore Louboutins’ by Nancy Jo Sales. The film does not tell the audience anything particularly new about the gang, nicknamed ‘The Bling Ring’ by the media. It takes an extensive look at their activities inside the homes of their victims and their enjoyment of the stolen celebrity lifestyle. What begins as an opportunistic visit to Paris Hilton’s home quickly develops into an unbridled crime spree which sees the gang stealing luxury items, cash and art from celebrities like Orlando Bloom and Lindsay Lohan. Revelling in their proximity to fame and their ownership of beautiful things the gang parties in various LA night clubs where they upload pictures of themselves posing with the stolen goods on social media sites. However, it is this carelessness and arrogance which leads to suspicion, police involvement and the eventual undoing of The Bling Ring, members of which include insecure Marc, ring leader and fashion obsessive Rebecca, party girl Chloe and best friends Nicki and Sam.

 

The acting from this cast of largely unknowns is consistent and authentic, particularly the characters of Marc and Chloe. Emma Watson is less believable as the vacant, ‘California girl’ Nicki, whose accent and gestures seem awkward and unnatural. Visually the film is glossy, exhilarating and occasionally beautiful. The scene of Rebecca and Marc running through the primarily glass home of Audrina Patridge as Hollywood lies glittering in the background is particularly note worthy and showcases the work of cinematographer Harris Savides, who sadly died during the making of the film. Coppola also cleverly utilised images from facebook, camera phones and gossip sites like TMZ. This not only highlights the recklessness and callousness of the gang but also subsequently shows how the teenagers’ lives started to mimic both the negative and positive aspects of the celebrity lifestyle they adored. Coppola is offering a critique on the culture of celebrity obsession and fast fame as she highlights how the media transformed the youths into a form of infamous star.

 

The problem is that the director appears torn between offering this tongue-in-cheek treatment of the teens who stole fame and getting caught up in the artistic visuals of the lifestyle. These lavish scenes of looting, luxury items and the gang’s social lives dilute Coppola’s point as they almost glamorize the youth’s exploits. For example in one scene we see Rebecca inside her ‘fashion idol’ Lindsay Lohan’s bedroom spraying Lohan’s perfume on while looking in the mirror. The segment attempts to demonstrate how Rebecca is essentially worshiping at the empty altar of celebrity but the way in which the scene is presented, almost like an advert, perfume glistening on the girl’s neck her hair blowing slowly past her shoulders, undermines Coppola’s critique. There are also far too many of these closet raiding scenes which can become tedious particularly as chunks of the script consist of “Wow” and “Oh my God”. Furthermore, the film lacks any real exploration or understanding of these characters’ motivations, personalities and backgrounds, expect perhaps for Marc and at times Nicki. This leaves the audience feeling disengaged with the gang and their story and occasionally a little bored.

 

Ultimately, the film offers a highly stylised treatment of The Bling Ring story which will appeal to Coppola’s fans. It boasts some decent performances, beautiful scenes and a partially successful critique on celebrity culture and the ways in which the media endorses and creates fast, empty fame. However, the filmmaker’s preoccupation with endless scenes of wealth and theft and their glamorisation undermines the central critique. This, coupled with a lack of character exploration leads to a film which lacks substance and depth. As a result The Bling Ring fails to engage the viewer and instead leaves you with the impression that you have watched an exceptionally beautiful, sophisticated reality show.

Ruth Hurl

90 mins
15A (see IFCO website for details)
The Bling Ring is released on 5th July 2013

The Bling Ring – Official Website

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