Comedy

Idiocracy

dir: Mike Judge
[img_assist|nid=808|title=USA! USA! US - ow! my balls|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=300]
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?

Rating: 

Art School Confidential

dir: Terry Zwigoff
[img_assist|nid=813|title=Wankers in their natural habitat|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=363|height=300]
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
[img_assist|nid=839|title=Drink up ladies: I guarantee, the more you drink, the more I look like Johnnie Depp|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=290|height=419]
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.

Rating: 

My Super Ex-Girlfriend

dir: Ivan Reitman
[img_assist|nid=847|title=So terrible it made me want to cry tears of blood|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=333|height=493]
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.

Rating: 

Click

dir: Frank Coraci
[img_assist|nid=861|title=Click is as good as it gets for you, shmuck|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=446]
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.

Rating: 

Kenny

dir: Clayton Jacobson
[img_assist|nid=863|title=A good man is hard to find|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=375]
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.

Rating: 

Borat

dir: Larry Charles
[img_assist|nid=869|title=No, we cannot.|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=369|height=297]
The full title of the movie is Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. Perhaps the title should more clearly represent what the film is: an affront to human dignity. So, had I the power to change the title, it would be something more like: Borat: People are Pigs.

I know why Sacha Baron Cohen puts himself in these horrific situations: because it has lead to fame and fortune, whether as Borat or Ali G or in the other roles he is starting to get in Hollywood. But that doesn’t make watching him put himself into increasingly dangerous situations to provoke laughs down the track any easier to handle.

If this is a comedy, and mind you, I said ‘if’, it is generally the comedy of discomfort, where watching people do or say awful things makes us cringe and hopefully laugh uncontrollably. But in many ways this movie is little different from the MTV Jackass series and movies where Johnnie Knoxville and his crew of mental defectives cause themselves and each other extreme amounts of pain for our amusement. The difference is that in the Jackass films, the participants are volunteering to drink horse semen or jump head first into sewerage.

Rating: 

Little Miss Sunshine

dir: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
[img_assist|nid=873|title=This little bitch is responsible for getting whole generations of kids onto acid|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=300|height=268]
Even though it looks like just another American film about just another dysfunctional American family, Little Miss Sunshine has more going for it than that. At the very least, it manages to provoke a few more chuckles than the average film of this type usually does.

True, there’s no shortage of movies, both mainstream and art-house, that try to outdo and out-quirk each other with crazy families and their crazy adventures on the road to getting to their version of a happy ending. The lazy message always is, no matter how wacky and insane members of your family are, they’re still your family. So, you know, appreciate them for who they are.

Well, this film boasts a quirky collection of characters, and has the same predictable message regarding the thickness of blood versus water. But it ends up being a lot more fun that usual, even if it doesn’t have anything new to say about anything.

Olive (Abigail Breslin) is a cute little awkward girl who somehow makes it to the finals of a beauty pageant for cute little girls. For various unimportant reasons, her entire family has to accompany her on a cross-country trip in an old Volkswagen Kombi van as they try to get to Los Angeles for the competition.

Rating: 

Nacho Libre

dir: Jared Hess
[img_assist|nid=878|title=I know, you're asking yourself, "How could this not be funny? It's got Jack Black! With a moustache and tights!"|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=450|height=559]
No-one probably found the bizarre success of Napoleon Dynamite more surprising than the guy who made it. Jared Hess made a strange little film clearly set in the 80s, but updated with a bundle of modernisms to make it contemporary, and watched it become a cultish hit.

Seeing as Hess and his wife / writing partner are Mormons, if you ever wondered what a flick made by observant Mormons would look like, look no further than Napoleon Dynamite and this here current monstrosity stinking up our cinemas.

Now that I’ve used the word ‘Mormon’, I can’t get a scene from The Simpsons out of my head, where a lawyer at a Senate hearing yells at Homer ‘You, sir, are a moron,’ to which Homer, of course replies, ‘Mormon? But I’m from Earth!’

If you’re not looking for it, it could strike you as strange that Napoleon Dynamite, his first flick, contains no swearing, violence, sex or nudity, despite being set in a milieu that would seem to demand each and every one of those elements (the contemporary American high school genre).

Rating: 

Thank You for Smoking

dir: Jason Reitman
[img_assist|nid=881|title=And thank you for the cocaine|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=400|height=463]
Maybe it says more about me than the film, but it took me a while to realise this flick was meant to be a satirical comedy, and that it wasn’t a documentary.

Okay, so I’m bullshitting, but most of the material here is less of an outright parody than it is a fairly accurate (in spirit) depiction of the manner in which most of modern society is dependent upon people selling out at every level. Taken further, moral compromise and capitulation is a necessary part of getting by in the modern era.

Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) is a master of the dark arts of spin. He lives and breathes arguments and loves nothing more than verbally demolishing adversaries with his well-chosen words and rapid-fire delivery. He talks, talks and talks for most of the movie’s 92 minute running time.

And what does he say? He’s a lobbyist for Big Tobacco, the conglomeration of tobacco companies desperately trying to retain their place in a country where they’re under attack in the media, in the courts, and by the government, all for the sensitive, innocuous crime of selling a product which causes hundreds of thousands of deaths per year.

Rating: 

Pages