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Blades of Glory

dir: Josh Gordon and Will Speck
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Will Ferrell as an ice figure skater? That’s the comedy cinematic equivalent of crack cocaine, isn’t it?

The people who made the film probably sold it to the company with a text message to an executive saying exactly that: “w/about Ferrell on ice?” with probably a few smiley faces and LOLs thrown in for good measure.

The entire movie is predicated on the impression that ice skating is both gay in the sense that ‘gay’ is sometimes used as a synonym for lame, and gay in the sense that it is a sport best enjoyed by and participated in by gay people. So of course Ferrell plays his character of Chazz Michael Michaels as a rampantly hetero alcoholic sex addict lothario who never actually gets laid. And of course there are lots of scenes where men have to uncomfortably hold another man’s genitals either in their hands or close to their faces in order to win something important. What’s funnier than another man’s gonads being waved in your face?

His opponent Jimmy McElroy (Jon Heder, he of Napoleon Dynamite fame), and eventual partner on the ice, is the literal golden-haired child who is taking the role that Owen Wilson surely must have turned down due to his current bout of drug abuse and suicidal tendencies.

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Knocked Up

dir: Judd Apatow
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The advertising for this was brilliant. There were variations, of course, but their main theme was along the lines of just what a loser Seth Rogen looks like, and how unlucky any woman would be to fall pregnant because of his drunken thrustings.

The ads literally had pictures of Rogen’s goofy, almost apologetic face, with the phrase “what if this guy got you pregnant?’ or variations thereof plastered across them worldwide. Marketing genius; pure marketing genius.

Considering the fact that Rogen wrote most of the screenplay (or whatever you call the process that eventuated in this film), it’s something of an odd but extremely successful sell. In the real world, attractive women have sex with slobs all the time. And we thank you for it. But in the Hollywood film world, it’s seen as something of a gross anomaly, or at least enough of one to justify such a premise. Like some major disruption in the space time continuum, or a tear in the fabric of reality.

See, they don’t have this problem in French films. The uglier and older the French male protagonist, the hotter the French babe who adores him and has freaky French sex with him all over the place. Before she kills herself and probably him too by flick’s end.

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Hot Fuzz

dir: Edgar Wright
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Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, and probably a whole bunch of other people, try to do to the buddy cop genre what they did to the zombie genre in Shaun of the Dead. If you saw and liked Shaun, then you know what to expect.

If you hated Shaun, then you probably haven’t got a hope in hell of getting anything out of this here flick.

Nicholas Angel (Pegg) is an extremely driven cop who is so good at his job with the metropolitan police that they transfer him out to the boondocks because he makes the rest of them look bad. When he gets to the sleepy, quiet town, he discovers that there’s more going on than meets the eye.

The locals are the expected group of quirky hicks you’d expect from a British flick of such a nature, populating the place with some characters that wouldn’t be out of place in a show like Ballykissangel, Monarch of the Glen or Doctor Martin, and some who you only find in the shows and flicks made by Edgar Wright. Once on the town beat, the police chief’s chubby, somewhat simple son Danny (Nick Frost) latches onto him and makes him the wind beneath his wings. What follows is one and a half hours of set up, and twenty minutes of utterly over the top gun action which would deafen John Woo himself.

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Razzle Dazzle: A Journey Into Dance

dir: Darren Ashton
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You could argue that making a mockumentary about stage mothers and their poor, put-upon children is a bit redundant, since you can’t satirise something that is already such a horrible reflection on humanity from the start. You can’t satirise a satire: it’d be like satirising Yes, Minister or parodying The Simpsons.

Or maybe you can, I’m not sure. Maybe anything is fair game.

Though I have no proof for this bollocksy assertion, I like to think that this flick’s origins were initiated by the last part of Little Miss Sunshine, which focused on a beauty pageant for 8-year-old girls. That was a hideous and insightful peak into the mentality of parents who make their children look like Las Vegas showgirls in order to live through and profit by them.

Razzle Dazzle makes the whole film about the sheer horribleness of these stage mothers, and the delusional maniacs who coach them. The difference is that the setting isn’t the exciting world of pre-teen beauty pageants, but instead resides in the magical land of dance.

The only characters who come through okay in this are the girls, who have their ups and downs, but at least they’re still recognisably human. For now.

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Idiocracy

dir: Mike Judge
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You may think stupid people are making this a harder place to live on a daily basis, but can you imagine a planet of morons where intelligence has been bred out of our species entirely? Can you imagine using that as a premise for a comedy / sci fi flick?

Well, Mike Judge, creator of King of the Hill, Beavis and Butthead and director of Office Space, uses it as his main contention here. In Idiocracy, we have a look at an American future where IQs are around 60 and people are so fucking stupid that the most popular television show in world history is Ow, My Balls!, a show where a guy gets whacked in the balls repeatedly, and the number one film at the box office is Ass, a 90 minute film of an arse farting.

Wait a second, that doesn’t sound too much different from the America of today, does it?

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Art School Confidential

dir: Terry Zwigoff
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Misanthropy permeates Art School Confidential as it does with everything Zwigoff is involved with. His characters swim in it, bathe in it, drown in it. You expect it going in, you wear a snorkel in anticipation of it.

You can debate whether it is adolescent misanthropy, or the refined, mature misanthropy that comes with a lifetime of personal and professional disappointments. Whatever the level, if you like the work of Terry Zwigoff and the rogue’s gallery he associates with, then it’s likely you’ll find it entertaining.

The battlefield of the egos this time plays out at an art school, with every character held therein exhibiting different magnitudes of egomaniacal pretentiousness. Even our protagonist, Jerome (Max Minghella), is a bit of a preening egotist. But we are meant to see this place, the people and their awfulness through his eyes, until we realise he has become just as bad as them.

At first, at least, he is a headstrong but thoughtful young guy who wants to become a famous artist. Sure, it takes balls or ovaries to say that you’re going to change the world with your art, but great accomplishment sometimes requires monstrous arrogance. Jerome is only a little bit arrogant when the story begins.

Beerfest

dir: Jay Chandrasekhar
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Beerfest is one of the dumbest films I’ve seen in recent memory. Ordinarily, such an opening statement would guarantee a litany of abuse to follow for thousands upon thousands of pointless words. But it’s actually a complement in this case.

There are a lot of dumb films that are highly enjoyable and very entertaining. Classic dumb films include Porky’s, Bloodlust, Strange Brew, Half Baked, Con Air, Road House, Double Impact and Battleship Potemkin. Of course, most of the films that have ever been made are dumb, just not intentionally dumb.

The people who make those movies whose titles end in “Movie”, like Epic Movie, Date Movie, Scary Movie, try to make dumb films that are entertaining, and by and large they are failing miserably, so miserably. It makes me sad to think of them, sad like a lawn mower running over your cute puppy.

But here the formula for dumbness has worked. There’s crudity, bodily fluids, old people swearing, heroic consumption of alcohol, gratuitous nudity, bestiality and clear references to the great WWII submarine movie Das Boot.

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My Super Ex-Girlfriend

dir: Ivan Reitman
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It is indicative of how much of an optimist (read: lunatic) I really am that I thought this flick could be any good. What the hell was I thinking?

My Super Ex-Girlfriend is crap even compared to other mindless romantic comedies, ignoring the fact that it’s supposed to be a rom-com with the added spice of a superhero storyline. Absolutely woeful. Terrible script, awful performances and an idiotic plot that made me crave one day being deaf and blind so that I never have to see anything like this again.

Just terrible. And goddamn is it tremendously dumb. It could have been marginally entertaining had it just been less aggressively crap, or had any of the lines worked, or had it actually been funny. Some of these actors have done reasonable work in the past, but lumped in together here they bring out the mediocrity in each other so that the film sinks into a fetid swamp of crapulousness.

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Click

dir: Frank Coraci
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Watching an Adam Sandler flick that isn’t as painful as his other movies is a joy to the world. It’s like being in a car crash where people are painfully hurt instead of permanently crippled or killed. If you can walk away from it, then it wasn’t that bad.

Click is, in the peak of what I could ever get to say about an Adam Sandler flick, the least painful or objectionable of Sandler’s flicks thus far, with the exception of Happy Gilmore and Punch-Drunk Love. In that sense, this means Sandler has hopefully reached the pinnacle of his endeavours, and will soon retire.

I don’t need to tell those of you living in downtown Kandahar, Beirut or Brunswick that this is an imperfect world. And, in such a world, what should happen (like Sandler, Jim Carrey and the Hilton mutants dying in a car crash) rarely does. So retirement seems even less likely. Life can be so unfair.

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Kenny

dir: Clayton Jacobson
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A lot has been written about Kenny, both its success and the film itself. At least in Australia, since I can’t imagine the rest of the world giving a tinker’s dam about it. And its success at the AFI awards also points to Kenny’s acceptance and approval from a country notoriously averse to watching its own films.

Kenny has struck a chord with Australian audiences, and there are a good number of reasons why. As played by Shane Jacobson (whose brother wrote the screenplay and directs), Kenny Smythe is the kind of salt-of-the-earth character that you feel obligated to get behind or risk feeling like the most humourless and elitist of curmudgeons. It is that very calculation that goes to how the character is written and portrayed, which sounds cynical, because it is cynical. But it gets the job done.

This comedy has the format of a documentary, or a mockumentary, to use the latest nomenclature. It all focuses on Kenny’s daily grind as he waxes lyrical and philosophical constantly to camera. As such, you could say the movie is a character study of one working-class quiet achiever just trying to get by in this turvy topsy world.

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