Review: Daddy’s Home

daddys-home

DIR: Sean Anders • WRI: Brian Burns, Sean Anders, John Morris • PRO: Will Ferrell, Chris Henchy, Adam McKay, John Morris • DOP: Julio Macat • ED: Eric Kissack,
Brad Wilhite • DES: Clayton Hartley • MUS: Michael Andrews • CAST: Linda Cardellini, Mark Wahlberg, Will Ferrell

Director-writer-producer team Sean Anders and John Morris follows their films Horrible Bosses 2, We’re the Millers, Hot Tub Time Machine and Sex Drive with yet another mediocre comedy: Daddy’s Home. Will Ferrell is Brad – nerdy and shy but well-intentioned. Mark Wahlberg is Dusty – suave, smart and multi-talented. It’s Step-Dad versus Dad, and it’s predictable slapstick fun which should have the kids laughing and their accompanying parents (or step-parents…) mildly amused.

Brad, an executive for a local jazz radio station, has always loved children. In his spare time, he volunteers as a scout leader, basketball coach, and chaperone in his community, and when he marries Sarah (Laura Cardellini), he becomes step-dad to two sweet children, Megan (Scarlett Estevez) and Dylan (Owen Vacarro). Just as the kids are settling into having a stepfather in their home, and Brad is feeling like life couldn’t be more perfect, their biological father, Dusty, announces he is coming home for a visit. Dusty is amicable, fun and athletic with famous contacts and impressive handyman skills, although his exact career remains an enigma. Brad, who Sarah loves for being able to ‘find the good in anything’, insists it is important for Dusty to stay a part of the children’s lives. However, it quickly becomes apparent that Dusty is trying to show him up at every opportunity, and that he has every intention of removing Brad from his newly formed family. Brad drops the manners and brings his A-Game to compete for the affections of Sarah, Megan and Dylan (He becomes, well, Will Ferrell).

A lot of the humour is based on slapstick comedy with Brad alternatively thrown through walls, electrocuted, beaten up, or fondled. This type of humour should appeal to the kids while more nuanced humour, such as that brought by Brad’s boss Leo’s (Thomas Hayden Church) stories about the various sexual partners he has had in his lifetime, should keep older viewers entertained. The fact that the film is a comedy, coupled with a story about the importance of family and an appropriately feel-good ending, would seem to suggest that Daddy’s Home aims to be the live-action holiday offering for family cinema audiences (In fact, even though the film is set in April, the scriptwriters still manage to incorporate a Christmas scene into the film…). However, with its 12A rating, infrequent bad language and occasional sex references, it is a hard sell as appropriate for children. Plus, as has been an issue with several movie promotions lately, between the two official trailers, most of the funniest and surprising parts are given away.

Also, they talk about Frozen at one point. Which means you’re probably going to be forced to watch Frozen again when you get home.

Deirdre Molumby

12A
96 minutes (See IFCO for details)

Daddy’s Home is released 26th December 2015

Daddy’s Home – Official Website

 

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Review: Ted 2

Ted-2-Ted

DIR: Seth MacFarlane • WRI: Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, Wellesley Wild  • PRO: Jason Clark, John Jacobs, Seth MacFarlane, Scott Stuber • DOP: Michael Barrett • ED: Jeff Freeman • MUS: Walter Murphy • CAST: Seth MacFarlane, Liam Neeson, Mark Wahlberg, Amanda Seyfried

 

Every comedy needs a sequel. This much is true. Regardless of how one-note the comedic premise of a movie is, a joke is a joke, and should rightly have every last granule of life strained from it to take the maximum amount of profit from those only too content to spend money on seeing it.
 

Ted is no different. Ted is a cute teddy bear that sounds like Peter Griffin who constantly has filth seeping from his furry mouth. In and of itself alone, that is the alpha and omega of Comedy, the abso-laugh. It is hilarity defined. And, surely enough, Seth McFarlane’s comedic conveyer belt of a mind doesn’t fail to let us down here as the film opens. We find our cute cuddly curmudgeon being married to the tickelingly trashy Tammy-Lynn from the first movie. Does he take the bride? ‘You betchya f**kin’ ass I do’ says Ted. He’s in a church saying that! Outrageous. He’s a teddy bear.
 
As we cut to the opening titles, we are treated to Ted in an elaborate ballroom dancing number with a flurry of human dancers. There’s no jokes or comedic mis-steps involved here, per se. Indeed, there’s barely any discernible skill on show, it’s just a standard ballroom dancing scene. But as an idea, it is show-stoppingly hilarious. Close your eyes and imagine a teddy bear ballroom dancing. If you’re not smiling, you’re an idiot.

 

Some of the comedy in this movie is so cerebral I couldn’t quite figure out when I was meant to laugh. Like in the scene where Liam Neeson makes his cameo. He’s buying cereal at the store, and is dubious about purchasing it because it’s generally considered to be made for kids. There was a joke in there somewhere (and I fully intend on paying to see the movie again so I can understand it), but I laughed anyway because I saw Liam Neeson.

 

The best running joke from the movie is a testament to McFarlane’s forensic comedic eye as he notices that a certain appendage enjoys quite a prevalence on the internet. So, any time a Google search is invoked into the narrative, the characters are invariably directed to a particular website. When you see the film you’ll understand. And, of course, nothing makes anything funnier than some casual racial stereotyping.

 

It was also refreshing to see another comedy where all the best gags were included in the trailer. The only reason I went to see this movie was so I could witness Marky Mark being saturated in bodily fluid on the big screen. He is absolutely drenched in the stuff. Thank heavens that was in the trailer.  Name one Charlie Chaplin movie that has a main character drowned in bodily fluid. You can’t. Because even Chaplin could never think to do something that funny.

 

Scenes involving weed and people being high are also inherently funny. Ted 2 is full of them and is much the better for it. Amanda Seyfried smokes bongs (that way, we know we’re meant to like her), they smoke bongs in the library, in the park. If you see a bong in movie you actually have a civic duty to laugh. At one point, the characters are forced to spend the night in a field full of pot plants –  and then they actually get stoned on the pot plants. Who does that?! However, it isn’t until Amanda Seyfreid takes out a bong that is shaped like a certain piece of male genitalia that this movie comes into its own. It simply transcends wit.

 

I have untold affection for this film. I haven’t even got the time to go into the complex plot (Ted has to prove he’s human), because the amount of sheer comic gold that’s littered throughout. Ted 2 has reinvented the comedy genre for the better.

 

And if you haven’t realized I’m being sarcastic, then you would genuinely love Ted 2.
 

Shane Hennessy

16 (See IFCO for details)
115 minutes
 
Ted 2 is released 10th July 2015
 
Ted 2 – Official Website

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Transformers: Age of Extinction

 Transformers_Age_of_Extinction_41961

DIR: Michael Bay  WRI: Ehren Kruger PRO: Ian Bryce, Tom DeSanto, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Don Murphy  DOP: Amir Mokri  ED: Roger Barton, William Goldenberg, Paul Rubell   DES: Jeffrey Beecroft  MUS: Steve Jablonsky  CAST: Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer, Jack Reynor

 

There are many words one might use when describing Michael Bay’s Transformers franchise, but very few that don’t sound smug, hackneyed and, on the whole, just too easy. Ever the critics’ whipping boy, the past decade has established the director’s name as a byword for blockbusters that bring the sound and the fury and not a whole lot else, and aiming the same barbs at the same flaws time and again begins to feel less like reviewing than it does adding one more reedy voice to a self-satisfied critical chorus falling on utterly deaf ears.

 

So with Bay’s claim that his latest outing, Age of Extinction, will set the franchise in a whole new direction, what’s the verdict? Well, for a series based on creatures capable of taking on literally any form they desire, not a whole lot has changed.

 

Leading the new human cast that will form the centre of this allegedly new direction is Cade Yaeger (Mark Wahlberg), a broke mechanic-turned-inventor with the fiercely independent streak of any good Texan. Hoping his latest junkyard haul yields something that might put his daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz) through college, Yaeger’s derelict find instead turns out to be a badly-wounded Optimus Prime in hiding. With government forces and a mysterious alien mercenary hunting all Transformers in the wake of the Battle of Chicago, Yaeger is forced to round up what remains of the Autobots so that they might defend humanity one last time.

 

Age of Extinction marks the (large-scale) Hollywood debut of Ireland’s own Jack Reynor, but sadly this is where any sense of Bay’s promised new beginnings ends. Though presumably placed to add a more family-centric dynamic to the series, the human cast are once again pushed to the fringe so that Bay’s penchant for pyrotechnics can take centre stage for a cornea-melting two and a half hours.

 

The Transformers themselves live up to the diversity implied by their name in providing a dazzling array of stereotypes, complete with a haiku-spouting samurai and cigar-chomping marine, each of whom speak in a series of B-movie one-liners presumably designed to match Hasbro’s inevitable range of actions figures.

 

The human cast fare little better, their few efforts to inject a heartbeat into the narrative constantly mangled by scarcely-comprehensible action scenes. It’s as if every frame of the film is specifically designed to shatter any sense of immersion, from the sense of scale (occasionally punctuated by close-ups reserved solely for arse-cheeks or the American flag) to the cluttered, jarring soundtrack, less akin to the Zimmer’s best work than it is to a string-quartet squeezed into a steel-bin.

 

There is much more that could be said, some of it even positive – both Tucci and Reynor deliver the laughs as the comic relief, and some of the women even get to speak outside of cries for help – but all in all there’s little point in adding to the barrage and even less point in denying the box office landslide to come. Far be it from Film Ireland to kick a multi-billion dollar behemoth when it’s down, after all.

 

More mechanized popcorn for the senses, worth seeing for those ardent franchise fans and anyone still doubting whether a vacuum can be very loud indeed.

Ruairí Moore

12A (See IFCO for details)
164 mins

Transformers: Age of Extinction is released on 5th July 2014

Transformers: Age of Extinction– Official Website

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r8HPIH5JCak&feature=kp

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Cinema Review: 2 Guns

2 Guns 10

Dir: Baltasar Kormakur • Wri: Peter Ladinigg, Umat Dag • PRO: Andrew Cosby, Randall Emmett, George Furla, Norton Herrick, Ross Richie, Adam Siegel DOP: Oliver Wood  • Ed: Michael Tronick • DES: Beth Mickle • Cast: Denzel Washington, Mark Wahlberg, Edward James Olmos, James Marsden, Paula Patton

We meet smooth-as-silk Bobby (Washington) and motormouth Stig (Wahlberg) as they’re planning to rob a bank – a heist that goes even better than they could have imagined, because when all the dust settles they’ve got way more money than they bargained for. Way, way, more. Around $43 million dollars more, to be exact.

There may be trouble ahead, and it’s now that Bobby reveals himself as a deeply undercover DEA agent. He was looking to finally bring Greco (Olmos) to justice – it was his drug smuggling money they were stealing – but the tables are turned when Stig shoots him in the arm and leaves him behind in the desert, taking the cash to his boss Quince (Marsden).

Quince is a bigwig in Naval Intelligence, and it’s now that we find out Stig is also an undercover man doing his duty for Uncle Sam. But what’s the $43 million bucks going to be used for? That soon becomes a minor problem when everyone realizes that the money isn’t Greco’s – it belongs to someone else; someone serving a much more dangerous master.

Soon enough Bobby and Stig are on the run, a reluctant pair who trust each other about as far as they can throw each other – which isn’t far enough. Getting the cash back might get them their freedom, but then Greco gets hold of Bobby’s girl and fellow DEA agent Deb (Patton), and the bickering pair are tracking down – and trying to stay ahead – of a trio of gun toting, bull-breeding, helicopter-flying villains…

In a summer full of big blockbuster movies – nearly all of which have failed to hit the target – this guns ‘n quips action movie should find an audience. Starring the ever-reliable Washington and the likeable Wahlberg, this is by-the-numbers entertainment that’s high on bullets and explosions and contains the requisite number of twists and betrayals.

It’s a nice spin to have both of the leads working undercover and learning along the way that they’ve been lying to each other, though some of the subsequent revelations are obvious well in advance, so it’s kind of a pity Washington and Wahlberg didn’t get enough time to exercise their bitching, arguing and sniping.

More of this comic side would have made us buy them more cheaply as buddies, and the emotion is kept on a tight rein too, the pair seeming more like superheroes than people. Down the bullets rain as the bodies hit the dirt, but there’s no blood on show and the pair seem to barely get a scratch – probably in order to get the low certification – and at times it seems more like The A Team than a hard scrabble, dangerous actioner.

The roots of this story in Steven Grant’s graphic novel perhaps explain this pseudo-cartoonish feel, and though director Kormakur (who worked with Wahlberg on last year’s also blandish Contraband) does a decent enough job keeping up the pace, having three villains never really allows you to focus your fear for the lads, and in the end it’s all rather unforgettable stuff, if divertingly entertaining.

James Bartlett

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)

108 mins
2 Guns is released on 16th August 2013

2 Guns  – Official Website

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Cinema Review: Broken City

DIR: Allen Hughes  • WRI: Brian Tucker  PRO: Remington Chase, Randall Emmett, George Furla, Allen Hughes, Stephen Levinson, Teddy Schwarzman, Mark Wahlberg  • DOP: Ben Seresin • ED: Cindy Mollo • DES: Tom Duffield • CAST: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones

Another tale of political corruption in the US here, Broken City feels very much a product of a different time, that time being the 1990s.

Written by newcomer Brian Tucker, Broken City sees New York’s slimy mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe) trying to win a tight re-election campaign against improbably nice politician Jack Valliant (Barry Pepper). His name sounds like valiant, so you know he’s the good guy. Unfortunately for everyone (including us), the manipulative Mrs. Hostetler (Catherine Zeta-Jones) is having a not-so-subtle affair, and her accomplice may be a member of Valliant’s campaign team. Proper scandal here, like.

Enter Mark Wahlberg’s Billy Taggart, a disgraced former cop let off the hook by Hostetler back in the day, now a struggling private detective. Taken on by Hostetler to spy on his wife, Billy soon ends up getting caught in a web of intrigue and back-stabbery that might make a good TV movie version of L.A. Confidential.

Breaking so little new ground that it actually manages to pack dirt back into that hole, Broken City is however a passable entertainment, the sort of film that you might catch on the telly at 11pm after an aborted night out and be very grateful to have stumbled upon.

Crowe and Wahlberg, two actors prone to violent bouts of over-acting when under-directed, make a surprisingly good pair here, neither quite able to out-class, or out-yell, the other. Zeta-Jones sleepwalks through her role like never before, but the always reliable Jeffrey Wright and comeback king Kyle Chandler provide quality support, however rarely.

Director Allen Hughes, out on his own for the first time having made the likes of From Hell and The Book of Eli with his twin brother Albert, goes for a gritty look in his film, but finds the night sky of New York too polluted with office lights and street lamps. Even in the darkest corners of Brooklyn Hughes can’t quite make New York look like a bad place to live. The constantly moving camera makes one wonder if his DOP was involved in some twisted re-enactment of the film Speed, where if the camera dropped under 2 miles per hour it would explode.

The main plot may be nothing new, but it has enough little twists to keep the attention, even if it never gives a sense of New York City beyond the corridors of power. The subplots are a mess however, with Billy’s troubled relationship and even more troubled past feeling like after thoughts, which are hardly resolved at all.

With some nice touches, particularly a television debate between Hostetler and Valliant – in which Crowe is finely caked in fake tan – that takes a turn for the nasty, Broken City is still little more than another post-Oscars screen-filler. It will do fine until something better comes along, but it’ll do even finer on Netflix during a post-Christmas party hangover. If you must see it, save it for then.

David Neary

15A (see IFCO website for details)
108mins
Broken City is released on 1st March 2013

Broken City  – Official Website 

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Cinema Review: Ted

DIR: Seth MacFarlane  WRI: Seth MacFarlane, Alec Sulkin, Wellesley Wild  PRO: Jason Clark, John Jacobs, Seth MacFarlane, Scott Stuber, Wellesley Wild  DOP: Michael Barrett  ED: Jeff Freeman  DES: Stephen J. Lineweaver  CAST: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane

Back when he was a boy, John Bennett (Wahlberg) made a Christmas wish: for his new teddy bear to come alive and be his bestest ever friend. Amazingly, that wish came true and Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) was an instant celebrity (for a while at least), but never stopped doing his job: being John’s best ted.

John is now 35, and he’s been going out with Lori (Kunis) for four years. She’s got a proper office job and a boss (Seth McHale) who fancies her, while John is always late for work at his crappy car rental place. The reason? He’s always partying or messing around with Ted, and while Lori certainly has a sense of humor, she does think that maybe it’s time to grow up a bit. You know, maybe stop playing with the teddy bear and put down the bong once in a while?

So eventually, Ted moves out and gets his own place. He decorates it courtesy of Ikea, gets a supermarket job and even a ditzy blond girlfriend. But best buds are best buds – fur or no fur – and John keeps being drawn back into Ted’s wild world. When he skips out on Lori at an important office do in order to meet his and Ted’s all-time movie superhero in the flesh (I won’t spoil it for you, but it’s someone from the 1980s), Lori has had enough. John and Ted fall out too – a great fight in a hotel room – but can John man up, win Lori back and still be friends with Ted?

As you can tell, Ted is a pretty simple story. Director/co-writer/co-producer/Ted’s voice Seth MacFarlane is the driving force behind Family Guy, the snappier, sharper and cruder modern version of The Simpsons, and fans will recognize many of the actors here by their voices and be very familiar with the non-sequiturs, 80s references, spoofs, musical cues and, of course, a spicy dash of offensiveness (some of which is laugh-out-loud, even when it’s throwaway).

Therein lie the strengths – and weaknesses – of Ted, and sadly the latter outweigh the former. The story is so slight, the focus so awkwardly bouncing between the conventional romcom/drama story of John and Lori and the inherent humour in (and desire to see) a crude, talking bear. The two just don’t blend well in that way, and with so many ideas left hanging or included for no apparent reason other than a gag (and one particular one involving Ted that seemed a last minute idea about ‘who’s the bad guy?’), it all falls rather flat.

Ultimately, if you’re a Family Guy fan – and I am – you’re going to enjoy this just enough; it really is essentially just Peter Griffin and Brian the dog in disguise. If not, then you might find it a rather tedious mess; these characters come from a mind that’s used to writing 22-minute television programmes that have to go to the break on a joke or a cliffhanger; a film requires much more than that.

James Bartlett

Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details)
106 mins

Ted is released on 3rd August 2012

Ted – Official Website

 

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Cinema Review: Contraband

Last of the tobacco

DIR: Baltasar Kormákur • WRI: Aaron Guzikowski • PRO: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Baltasar Kormákur, Stephen Levinson, Mark Wahlberg • DOP: Barry Ackroyd • ED: Elísabet Ronaldsdóttir • DES: Tony Fanning • Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Giovanni Ribisi, Kate Beckinsale, Ben Foster

Contraband is a remake of the Icelandic film Reykjavik-Rotterdam, which starred Baltasar Kormákur. This time the actor of the 2008 film becomes the director of this 2012 film, and while he shows some visual flair behind the camera; it is only in an effort to frantically apply polish to a steaming Hollywood turd.

This is a slovenly pieced-together, lazy movie of tiresome cliches, which rehashes that old chestnut of ‘one last job’. The film’s star, Mark Wahlberg, epitomizes the laziness of the whole endeavor sleeprunning and toughguying his way through the film in a jockstrap performance of overwrought machismo.

Wahlberg plays Chris, an ex-smuggler turned honest, who’s just trying to make a decent living for his wife and children. But goddammit the world won’t let him – his wife’s pesky brother, Andy, has got himself involved with some bad boys in the smuggling business and owes them a load of cash; so Mark must take on ‘one last job’ to save the lives of his bother-in-law, plus his own wife and their children, whose lives are now in danger. He puts together a team and heads off to Panama to recreate his money-yielding smuggling days. Unfortunately, things don’t go smoothly and bad stuff happens that Chris must overcome. Fortunately, cockamamie coincidences and ludicrous occurrences are on his side.

The whole thing whizzes along in a gargantuan effort to trick your jaw against dropping to the floor as each scene lays on one ridiculous scenario after another, populated by a cadaver of characters that bring no relief from the film’s outrageous sense of taking itself so seriously in the face of such far-fetched farce. The only thing you’ll come out of this film the better for is knowing that when Mark Wahlberg says to you something like, ‘Don’t worry. Everything is going to be fine’, that’s a cue to look at your watch, feign an important meeting, and get the feck out of dodge immediately.

Minus the gloss, this is nothing more than straight-to-DVD fare.

Steven Galvin

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
Contraband is released on 16th March 2012

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