The Campaign, This Is 40, Ted, Bernie, and finally, In Time: 5 Film Reviews In One Post!

Along with the already “reviewed” films, Place Beyond The Pines and Looper, these are the five, other films that I’ve watched this week. Clearly, the only things I appear to do in Minnesota is ride my bike (couldn’t yesterday as it was too humid, but clear skies above today!) or put a DVD on. Admittedly, three of the above were watched on the plane journey over here, but it is still a lot of films to see in a week, especially when I probably only manage to watch one a month at home (let’s call it the Vanna effect).

Anyway, because I want to mention the fact I’ve watched these films (for reasons I’m not quite sure of; nobody should be proud to say they’ve watched a movie about a talking teddy) but don’t want to spend all my life talking about them, I’m going to sum them up in one blog post, thus saving me the effort of doing a proper review as I only have a paragraph to summarize them in, while saving you the agony of having to read about films for a week when you really want to focus on the more important things in my life…like pictures of my wonderful food, for example, or perhaps some more pictures of raccoon poop (so far, the two have not yet been mixed). This is really the best way to go about things for all of us so, uh, you’re welcome (please, no need to thank me). Also, my memories of these films are getting a little hazy (I forgot all about Ted in an earlier blog, then when I remembered that I’d seen it, I was inexplicably sad) so it’s probably best I mention them all now.

Right, are you ready for this? Here we go!

The Campaign

Well, this is an easy one because I reviewed (I know, I keep using the word even though it doesn’t quite sound right!) The Campaign last year after I watched it at the cinema with Vanna. Okay, review might be a little bit of an exaggeration (more so than usual!) as I merely pasted a tiny paragraph about it at the end of a long post talking about Spiderman and Lost.

Ultimately, I said that it sucked, and I was very disappointed by it.

So, why did I watch it again?

Because, dear readers, behind my cold, cynical, hard outer shell, exists a tiny little optimistic side that wants to see good in everything. It wanted to watch it again, in the hope that maybe, just maybe, a second viewing would open my eyes and I’d actually enjoy The Campaign, and think it was a good film.

It didn’t. I didn’t enjoy it, and I most certainly didn’t think it was a good film.

Sure, I laughed a few more times, but it just felt like Ferrell and Galifa…Alan from The Hangover weren’t really trying. I think it had potential to be really good, but ultimately, it wasn’t. It went for cheap laughs, and cheap laughs are awful. Hence why nobody likes comedies that have ‘movie’ in the title. They just suck.

So yeah, if you haven’t seen The Campaign yet, you aren’t missing out. 4/10.

This Is 40

The sequel to Knocked Up (a film I did enjoy), This Is 40 follows Alison Scott’s (Katherine Heigl, the female lead in KU) older sister (Leslie Mann) and her husband (Paul Rudd) as they come to terms with reaching the landmark that everybody hates to meet (Mann’s character continues to insist she is 38). I would go over a few of the other themes but I’ve forgotten them and I can’t check online because, guess what, firewall! Seriously need to sort that out…

Anyway, I found This Is 40 to be a very strange film. It was…interesting, I guess, and I suppose I enjoyed it, but I also found it to be very weird.

First of all, it didn’t seem to follow the story pattern I was taught in the last writing squad meet. It just seemed to meander through time without any real direction. One minute everything was fine, the next, everything was not. It was hard to predict, and never seemed to go where I expected it to go.

Secondly, I’m not entirely sure what genre it was supposed to be. I’m familiar with a lot of Judd Apatow’s work (he’s one of my favourite directors), but this didn’t really fit in with any of his previous films. If I were to ignore the fact all the characters were in Knocked Up, I don’t think I’d peg This Is 40 as one of his films. I think it was a comedy/drama, but it didn’t really strike me as either. Maybe it was just too subtle for my tastes? I really don’t know what to make of it.

Thirdly, it was over two hours long. When you are watching a film that has no real discernible plot line (or at least it didn’t to me), this is a very long time to exist. And I think that sums up This Is 40 perfectly, in some respects. It exists.

I did kinda like it though. I’m just not sure why. 6/10 (I think).

Ted

Hmm. Imagine Family Guy as a film, but put all of Seth McFarlane’s characters into an alcoholic, swearing teddy and then cast Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis alongside said teddy, and you pretty much have Ted.

It was funny, I guess, but nothing amazing. I love Wahlberg and I really love Kunis, but this was a bit naff. I’m not a comedy snob, but Ted wasn’t good enough to interest me. Vanna summed it up quite well with her comment, “It looked dumb”. Yes, it did, and yes, it is.

I will, however, give credit for the back story. It wasn’t what I was expecting, and in its own little way, it made sense.

That’s all I’ve got really. My suggestion? Watch The Other Guys. Wahlberg is great in that. 5/10 (for Ted).

Bernie

I first read about Bernie last week in the film magazine I bought at Newcastle airport. It was pegged as a dark comedy, which immediately got my interest, and based off a true story, which then killed off my sudden rush of interest. But I kept reading, and after seeing that it had good reviews and an interesting plot, I decided that I wanted to see it (there were three films in the magazine that I then highlighted to Vanna; Bernie was one of them). It also starred Jack Black, who, despite being a key component in some purely awful films (Year One*, Be Kind Rewind, Nacho Libre) that I have had the severe misfortune to watch (my downfall is that I’m too cheap to leave the cinema), is someone I like. And in my experience, if Black is kept away from the script and just left to do his business on-screen, there is a good chance the film will be at least fairly decent (which, when compared to Year One, is a fantastic achievement).

And Bernie is much better than fairly decent. I really enjoyed it. It was very interesting, and I thought the way they portrayed Bernie’s story was very clever. I know this doesn’t say much, but Bernie was my favourite film in this list of five. By far.

So what is it about?

Well, for those of you who haven’t heard of Bernie (it certainly slipped my radar), it is based on the real life story of Bernhardt “Bernie” Tiede, a mortician from Carthage, Texas, who murdered his 81-year-old millionaire companion, Marjorie Nugent, by shooting her four times in the back with .22 rifle. Despite confessing to the murder, the trial had to be moved as Bernie was held in such high regard by the townfolks of Carthage, they refused to believe that he did it, or that he deserved to be imprisoned for it.  They loved him so much the DA had to change the venue so he could get the prosecution.

All in all, it is a fascinating story that, with Black, Shirley MacLaine (Marjorie) and Matthew McConaughey (Danny Buck Davidson, the DA) in the leading roles, manages to be both humorous (but not excessively so) and somewhat poignant, as you realize that even the most nicest of people can be forced into doing bad things if the circumstances are right (or indeed, wrong). Black is fantastic as Bernie, and if you are going to watch any of these films, it should definitely be this one. 8.5/10

(Apologies for the poor structure in the paragraphs above. I’m just too lazy to switch them around)

In Time

Hmm.  Short answer: A very interesting concept that fails to reach its full potential.

Long answer: Essentially, in the world of In Time, everybody stops aging once they turn 25. However, on their 25th birthday, the clock on their arm starts, and if this clock reaches zero, they die. Time is the currency, and while the poor live on a day-to-day basis, unable to buy the basics for fear of leaving themselves with only seconds to live, the rich are on the verges of immortality, and thus move without haste or risk because well, they, quite literally, have all the time in the world.

It sounds interesting, and it really should be a great film. It has a good cast (Justin Timberlake is becoming quite the credible actor, while Amanda Seyfried isn’t her usual, annoying, bug-eyed self) and the premise is rather unique. In some ways it reminded me of The Hunger Games, but cooler, and less reliant on children.

However, the story is too blunt, too heavy-handed, and just doesn’t quite…get there. It is a solid film (there are some happy moments, sad moments, tense moments) but given the subject matter, it is a let down. It could have been amazing. Consider the morality side of things. How can some people have immortality while thousands, nay, millions are dying as a result? This is a fantastic issue that could have been explored in great detail, but In Time delivers it in such a bad way, you don’t really appreciate this quandary in the way that you should.

Also, I had a problem with how the word ‘time’ was constantly used with double meaning. ‘We don’t have time’ was said quite often, and each time, it just felt like the director was nudging you in the side and saying ‘geddit? they don’t have time…literally!’ Obviously this was always going to be an issue, but if the writers had focussed more on exploring the story, and less on creating moments to use “clever” lines, In Time could have been a modern great. Sadly, it didn’t pan out that way.

Still, a decent film to watch if you’re bored. 6/10

 

* Year One is probably the worst film I’ve ever seen in my life. And I’ve seen Funny People (though you could replace that with any Adam Sandler film, to be fair). And Wild Orchid. Yet I almost feel like forgiving Jack Black for his role in that film, purely because he was so good in Bernie.

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Okay, so that’s that done. Now we can all forget that this ever happened and move on with our lives. See you again tomorrow!

Alex

 

 

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