Review: Zoolander 2

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DIR: Tim Miller • WRI: Justin Theroux, Ben Stiller, Nicholas Stoller, John Hamburg • PRO: Stuart Cornfeld, Scott Rudin, Ben Stiller, Clayton Townsend • DOP: Daniel Mindel • ED: Greg Hayden • DES: Jeff Mann • MUS: Theodore Shapiro • CAST: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Penélope Cruz

Zoolander for me has been everything I love in a comedy. It’s hilarious, well-written, re-watchable, quotable, and sometimes downright ridiculous but also bitingly satirical. I never saw the film in the cinema but was introduced to it by friends who had rented it out (After flopping at the box office, it was through movie rentals that the film developed a cult following). They were quoting catchphrases from Brint, Meekus, Mugatu and others to the point of irritability. Thus, I had to find out who Derek Zoolander was. Re-watching the film earlier this week, I found myself charmed and in stitches laughing just like the first time I saw the film. As I sat down to watch the sequel on the big screen a couple of days ago, I was filled with anticipation. Unfortunately, as I left the cinema, I found myself filled with bitter disappointment.

Zoolander 2 kicks off a decade and a half after its predecessor. Once the world’s top fashion model, Derek (Ben Stiller) is now living in isolation, a ‘hermit crab’ far away from society after a family tragedy and subsequent media disgrace. Hansel (Owen Wilson), Derek’s once main competition and later best friend, has also chosen a sedentary lifestyle after an accident caused by Derek led to a horrible face disfigurement. Both are invited to model in an elite fashion show in Rome run by the world famous designer Alexanya Atoz (Kristen Wiig) but soon become involved, much like the first film, in a far greater conspiracy than either of their sweet-natured but simple minds can handle. Derek is also determined to reunite with his son, Derek Junior (Cyrus Arnold), who has been placed in an orphanage which is, by strange coincidence, in Rome too.

Zoolander 2 delivers everything you loved from the first one. Therein lies its main problem: it is essentially a copy of the first film (and I don’t know if anyone else thought this, but I found that seriously frustrating about Star Wars: The Force Awakens as well…). The jokes are repeated and the storylines are rehashed, and not in a witty, self-referential way as say Mike Myers did with the Austin Powers franchise. Here it feels like Stiller (who directed and co-wrote both films) is simply being lazy and cashing in by reusing the same material that proved successful before.

And that’s not all – a great deal of the charm from the first film is gone. In trying to mature Derek and Hansel as characters, what the writers give us are cliché struggling father figures who occasionally deliver a line that remind us that they’ve still got their dim-witted ‘charisma’… Will Ferrell’s Mugatu makes a welcome appearance but he is severely underused and is only given the chance to shine near the very end of the film. Wiig hasn’t anything amusing or interesting to do with her character; an opportunity to update the first film’s satire of the fashion industry feels sorely missed here. The better roles can be found in Interpol global fashion division agent Valentina, which sees a smart and surprisingly funny turn from Penelope Cruz, while Cyrus Arnold is a delight as Derek Junior. This kid could have a serious career in comedy.

Finally, there are the cameos. Just as the first Zoolander featured some great celeb appearances from names like Billy Zane, Paris Hilton, Natalie Portman, Gwen Stefani, and the brilliant David Bowie, Zoolander 2 continues the tradition and boasts an even longer list of  musicians and film stars playing themselves. In fairness, these cameos are pretty hilarious but, again, one gets the sense that there is an over-reliance on them.

Fans of the first Zoolander will enjoy Zoolander 2 as there are a number of laugh-out-loud moments. But it will also surely rise to the top of the pile of those films disregarded and discarded where the original was infinitely better…

Deirdre Molumby

12A (See IFCO for details)

 101 minutes

Zoolander 2 is released 12th February 2016

Zoolander 2 – Official Website

 

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Review: Daddy’s Home

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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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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: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

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DIR: Adam McKay  WRI: Adam McKay, Will Ferrell  PRO: Judd Apatow, Adam McKay, Will Ferrell  DOP: Oliver Wood  ED: Melissa Bretherton, Brent White  DES: Clayton Hartley  Cast: Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Steve Carell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, James Marsden, Meagan Good, Greg Kinnear, Kristen Wiig

 

 

Following its release back in 2004, Anchorman: The Legendary of Ron Burgundy became an unexpected comedy smash, grossing just under $91 million at the worldwide box office off a budget of $26 million. It brought the creative team of director Adam McKay and Will Ferrell (who had previously worked together on TV’s Saturday Night Live) a platform to develop the projects that were closest to their hearts, and also opened up several doors for co-star Steve Carell, who was best known at that time for his work alongside Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert on The Daily Show, as well as a small-role in the Jim Carrey-starring Bruce Almighty.
With producer Judd Apatow also about to kick-start his directorial career, it is clear to see that Anchorman represented a pivotal point in the lives of much of the cast and crew. Indeed, many of them have enjoyed terrific commercial success since the original was released, but the idea of a follow-up to the ’70s-set satire has always been an enticing one for the main players.

 

The prospects of a second outing for Ron, Brick, Brian and Champ seemed bleak when Paramount Pictures decided against making a sequel in 2011, but a deal was finally brokered last year to make Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues a reality. The story picks up in the ’80s, where Ron and now-wife Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate) are co-anchors at GNN, and now have a six-year-old son named Walter. However, Ron’s life is turned upside down when legendary newsreader Mack Harken (a growling Harrison Ford) decides to make Corningstone the station’s new weekend anchor, and relieve Burgundy of his position.

 

Although Ron’s career eventually plummets, he is given a second chance when he is approached about a new 24-hour news channel that is being established in Manhattan. Along with his trusted team of Brick Tamland, Brian Fantana and Champ Kind, he embarks on the Big Apple, where they shake the very foundations of broadcast news.

 

Nine years is certainly not the biggest gap between films in a series (the recent sequels in the Indiana Jones and Tron franchises took a lifetime to come to fruition), but it is nevertheless a long time since Ferrell & Co. brought their off-the-wall characters to the silver screen. While there was little pre-release hype for the original, the publicity for Anchorman 2 has been cranked up significantly, to the point that everyone who has even a passing interest in the film industry will be aware of its existence.

 

With all this in mind, it would have been easy for the various participants to rest on their laurels, but the good news for the many fans of the originals is that it maintains the spirit of the first outing, and registers a high laughter rate throughout.

 

The five principle returning stars (Ferrell, Rudd, Carell, Koechner and Applegate) clearly have too much affection for their characters to simply go through the motions, and they are all given their moments to shine. There are also some welcome additions to the cast in the form of Dylan Baker, James Marsden (as sharp-suited rival anchor Jack Lime) and Meagan Good as Ron’s new boss/love interest.

 

Witnessing the parameters of Ron’s romantic life suddenly shifting (Greg Kinnear also comes into the equation as a new partner for Applegate) provides much comic inspiration for the film, as does a dark third-act plot development for our eponymous hero.

 

Though lovers of the original will undoubtedly garner immense enjoyment from this second-parter, comparisons will inevitably be made with its predecessor. Only time will tell if the sequel will become as quotable as The Legend Of Ron Burgundy, but there is no doubt that its successor is lacking that certain element of surprise.

 

Also, at 119 minutes, it does over-stretch itself, and there are certain segments in the drama that could have been completely exorcised from the final cut. Aside from Brick (who finds his true soul mate in Kristen Wiig’s oddball secretary Channi), Ron’s fellow anchors are not given a great deal to work with, and when the celebrity cameos eventually arrive (in a heightened version of the first film’s Battle of the Anchors), they are thrown at the audience at a most extraordinary pace).

 

However, there are certain aspects to the film that are an improvement on the 2004 offering, namely the more coherent narrative structure, which indicates a desire on the part of Ferrell and McKay to properly develop the trajectory of their numerous creations.

 

Should the box-office receipts reveal healthy returns, then we can expect that a third film will follow in the not-too-distant future. On the basis of this film, there is no reason why the projected target audience wouldn’t be interested in another helping, because although the likes of Ferrell, Carell and Rudd have enjoyed great success away from Anchorman, it is clear that they are appreciative of what these characters have done for their careers.

Daire Walsh

15A (See IFCO for details)

118  mins

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is released on 20th December 2013

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues – Official Website

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On The Reel On The Red Carpet at Anchorman 2 Premiere

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On The Reel‘s Lynn Larkin managed to catch up with the cast of Anchorman 2 at the Irish Premiere in the Savoy Cinema on O’Connell street.

Anchorman 2 left San Diego and came to Dublin for the film’s Irish premiere at the Savoy cinema. Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Steve Carell and director Adam McKay all entered the glass case of emotion on O’Connell Street to meet and greet their Irish fans.

During their chat Paul Rudd explains to Lynn why Fantana will continue to be as naughty as ever and Steve Carell talks about Brick’s new love interest, Kristen Wigg, and what it was like working with her.

David Koechner (Champ) licks the microphone and explains why it’s not just the women in the movie that are strong characters but women globally. And director Adam McKay explains how difficult it was to keep a straight face during the shoot.

Finally, Lynn gives Will Ferrell (Ron Burgundy) a special little gift and in return Will serenades Lynn with Ron’s moving love song to a shark named Doby.

 

 

Anchorman 2 opens in cinemas on Wednesday, 18th December

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Anchorman 2 – Dublin Premiere: Will Ferrell Sings for Film Ireland

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Last night, Anchorman 2 left San Diego and came to Dublin for the film’s Irish premiere at the Savoy cinema. Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Steve Carell and director Adam McKay all entered the glass case of emotion on O’Connell Street to meet and greet their Irish fans.

Lynn Larkin was there for Film Ireland and On The Reel to present Will Ferrell with The Little Book of Moustaches. In return Will serenades Lynn with Ron Burgundy’s moving love song to a shark named Doby.
 

 
Keep an eye on On the Reel for full red carpet footage.
 
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues officially opens in Irish cinemas on 18th December.

 

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Cinema Review: The Campaign

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DIR: Jay Roachn • WRI: Tracy Letts • PRO: Ted Hope, Derrick Tseng • DOP: Andrij Parekh • ED: Kevin Messman • DES: Alex DiGerlando • Cast: Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Dylan McDermott, Dan Ackroyd, John Lithgow 

Cam Brady (Ferrell) is the Republican (or Democrat? it never outright says) Congressman for the 14th district of a small North Carolina town, and despite his wicked ways – he has a portaloo encounter with a young blonde and leaves a sexy message for her (but on someone else’s answer phone) – he still expects that his ‘strong’ hair and speeches about ‘America, Jesus and Freedom’ will see him cruise to another lazy term in office.

Cigar-chomping, sweat-shop big business villains the Motch Brothers (Ackroyd and Lithgow) aren’t so sure, and to protect their big plans for the town they hand-pick Marty Huggins (Galifianakis), a pudgy, pug-loving, awful sweater-wearing eccentric with a lisping voice and a thankless job in the local Tourism Office, as his opponent.

Naïvely determined to make a difference – and to make his retired politician dad (Brian Cox) finally proud of him – Marty gladly takes the advice of devilish spin-doctor Tim (McDermott) and soon he’s got all the props: a house full of guns, stuffed eagles, two Labradors, great hair, snappy suits – and a family he never sees anymore.

Outraged that anyone would dare challenge him, Brady and his publicity genius Mitch (Jason Sudeikis) soon start the war of words – and secret videos – and outrageous adverts – and accidental punches – and cheerleaders – and fireworks – and outright mud-slinging lies. The race is on. Oh, it’s on.

Outrageous and often very funny, this slapsticky spoof/parody wisely stays away from outright satire – current politics is so corrupt and scandalous that it’s already a big joke (you wonder how often the scriptwriters were tearing their hair out when one of their fake scenarios actually turned up in the news) – yet it barely stops from subtly/not so subtly referencing other political events and people, and as such it keeps an OTT feel all the way through. It’s very US politics-centric in that regard, but many of the standard political clichés on display here work no matter where you are from.

Mercifully, director Roach seems to have kept any improvisation to a minimum (good work, since both stars are producers too), and though some of the more emotional moments seem forced, the sheer pace of this racy and rude ride through what many (especially outside the US) would probably think isn’t far from the truth – well, it wins my vote. Finally, for a film that supposedly takes place in North Carolina (and references it all the time), it was actually shot in New Orleans: better tax breaks no doubt. Ironic?

James Bartlett

Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
85 mins

The Campaign is released on 28th September 2012

The Campaign– Official Website

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