Monthly Archives: September 2016

War Dogs


Director Todd Phillips has called Jonah Hill’s Character a “Tony Soprano” type but I think it would be more accurate to call him a “Tony Montana” type.

I mean look at the poster – it’s practically the same as Scarface’s poster. In the film Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill) has a huge poster of Al Pacino wielding an M16 that can only be titled “Say hello to my little fwiend”.

Look a little deeper and the parallels are equally as visible because War Dogs is a film all about one man’s greed and how his quest for control get’s in the way of friends family and business. I’m actually surprised they didn’t just call it Scarf-face or Warface and have done with it.

That’s probably a little harsh because War Dogs is a much lighter film. For one it doesn’t have people being chainsawed in a bathtub – oops spoiler alert for a 30-year-old film.

War Dogs is actually told through the eyes of David Packouz (Miles Teller). David is rightly fed up with his life as a masseuse to the Miami’s rich and famous who are searching for a happy ending. David bumps into Efraim and get’s whisked up into the arms dealing business.

Right at the start of the film price tags start popping against posing US soldiers and David’s voice-over tells us how lucrative even the smaller items of gear is. This scene sets a tone for a film that will educate the viewer in something important.

When you consider this film is based on the real events of two young men who kind of blagged their way to a $300 million government contract during the Iraq War you’d expect there to be a scathing critique about penny pinching to fund the army or the willingness of government officials to look the other way when it comes to arms dealing. This is not the case.

If you look at Lord of War in comparison you’ll notice how gaping this lack of commentary is within War Dogs but that’s not what the film is about; it’s all about the people.

I was a bit concerned that Miles Teller was going to be damaged goods after the abysmal Fantastic Four but he’s not. He’s actually really engaging in the starring role and perfectly fits the bill as a man who is in over his head and struggling to keep his marriage working.

On the other hand is Jonah Hill. Hill’s most notable trait is a brilliant laugh that sounds like a cross between a nervous chuckle and parrot squeezing out a fart. When he’s not laughing he’s playing someone who pretends to be what everyone else wants him to be.

This character trait gives Hill the opportunity to show his range and keeps you guessing whether you like him or not throughout the film.

One member of the cast I didn’t particularly like was Bradley Cooper. Cooper plays Henry Girard, a legendary arms dealer and an intermediary in the big deal. Cooper seems too clean cut for this role, too suave. The very fact that it was Bradley Cooper took me out of the film and I think this role would be better suited for someone less famous.

Overall War Dogs lacks any important message that will make this a memorable classic. That said, there is room for films to function solely as entertainment, especially when they are  fun and well paced like this. To quote Scarface; every dog has his day.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ That laugh
+ A good slice of entertainment
+ Good range from Jonah Hill

– Bradley Cooper
– Starts like it means to say something. Never says it.
– Unsure how true the events really are



Bad Moms

Moms I’d Like to Forget

If I think about my mum being bad it would involve her having 2 glasses of wine, have a second helping of Jaffa Cakes or perhaps driving at 34 mph in a 30 mph zone.

She’s not exactly a badass. In fact my mum is the mumsiest of all mums so I think I found the idea of Bad Moms funnier than I found the film itself.

It’s not that the film isn’t funny – well it’s amusing – but you could replace “Moms” in the title with almost any other word and you’d still have the same film that works in exactly the same way.

Now, granted I don’t know what it’s like to squeeze a watermelon through a small hole in my body and nor do I gush with emotion when I look at one of those wiggly little crying things so perhaps I’m the wrong person to judge but this film doesn’t portray parenthood to me.

Amy (Mila Kunis) is a mum who tries to work a part time job but appears to work full time and is the only one keeping her family together. After finding Mike (David Walton), her husband, spanking the monkey over some random internet live chat hussy she figures it’s time to do what she wants for once. Along the way she drags repressed mum Kiki (Kristen Bell) and abhorrent mum Carla (Kathryn Hahn) along with her.

My mum works full time then cooks, cleans and probably wipes the arse of the lazy, retired, buffoon known as my dad. A man whose favourite past time is moaning about everything so yeah I get it; mum’s are great and deserve to let their hair down.

In Bad Moms they don’t become bad moms, they become awful, selfish humans. The comedy that unfolds from this concept is comparable to a fat-free version of The Hangover as they seemingly forget about any responsibility or even that they have kids in the first place.

The core notion of parenthood doesn’t seem to affect how they let their down nor does how they let their hair down really factor into their ability as parents but if you can overlook that, the film is OK.

The biggest laughs come from Carla who is a terrible, foul mouthed human who just want’s to get messed up and fuck everyone else. Literally and metaphorically. Kathryn Hahn is fantastic in her portrayal. Every time she was on screen was a highlight because you know that laughs are just around the corner.

Another highlight was the first scene where the mums first go rogue. It’s set in a convenience store and filmed in delightful slow motion. The mums peacock through the store, drinking and eating in the isles with careless abandon. All this is juxtaposed against everyday customers going about their business. Their confused and British-esque politely offended faces really helps to accentuate the stupidity of the situation.

Scenes like this are offset by the inclusion of a conflict with the PTA. This conflict is wedged in to flesh out what is otherwise a sparse and forgettable plotline.

The whole script and story needed a bit longer in the oven with greater clarity, focus and reliance on the very thing that this film promises: mums. In fact it’s only after the main film has finished – during the credits – that there is any sense of poignancy, reverence or focus on motherhood. If, however, you make a sharp exit as soon as the film ends I would totally understand.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Hahn is hilarious
+ The convenience store scene
+ Post credit scene

– They don’t seem like mums
– Not as funny as it could have been
– PTA involvement seems forced


Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

Memorable Date

And the award for worst film title goes to… Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates. 

It’s not the first time we have seen ironically “functional” titles. Most of the time it seems to come from a lack of imagination such as Mr. Smith goes to Washington or perhaps We Bought a Zoo. Sometimes it’s used for comic effect such as Dude, where’s my car? or Freddie Got Fingered.

Thankfully, it was a lot funnier than both of the above films and was actually one of the best comedies I’ve seen in a long time.

You are probably wondering how in the name of sweaty balls is this the best comedy in a long time especially since the buzz for this film has been as loud as a single wasp slowly dying in the halls of Hugh Hefner’s mansion and the director (Jake Szymanski) is not even famous enough to get a shot at Celebrity Big Brother.

Don’t let that put you off though because there is talent behind this film. On the writing credits is Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O’Brien who wrote Bad Neighbours and it’s sequel earlier this year.

Anyway, back to it, I thought that Bad Neighbours 2 had its problems, particularly around how it attempted to portray women as man’s equal. That isn’t the case here. All of the main characters are as dysfunctional, as vulnerable and/or as vulgar as each other.

Thanks to some careful writing the film rises manages to be more than “just another crude, generic comedy” even if that is what it is at its core. As an example the “inspired by true events” plot follows a very unsurprising arc.

Two brothers haven’t grown up and are always causing accidental mischief. They are asked to bring two nice girls as dates to their sister’s wedding in Hawaii. The ad goes viral and are inundated with requests. Things go well. Things go bad. People show their vulnerabilities. Stuff gets fixed. There are no real surprises here.

Both Zac Efron and Adam Devine are excellent as the brothers. They’re two sides of the same coin and their chemistry demonstrates a clear off-screen friendship as well as on. They don’t however seem close enough to be Brothers. I mean they look as similar as me and my brother. Wait, does that mean… ?

Anyway, whilst I mull over whether I was secretly adopted, Aubrey Plaza and Anna Kendrick are also excellent as the dates. They manage to down cocktails, smoke a cheeky doob or shove cheese puffs into their faces with ease and avoiding and sense of trying too hard. They are normal, terrible excuses for adults just like you and I… or perhaps just myself.

I found that despite the wedding having some of the funniest moments in the film (Kate MicKinnon propositioning people in a sauna and a hilarious tantric massage from Kumail Nanjiani) this is where the film really loses steam.

We see the film try to develop all of the characters in a manner that befits a feel good comedy but also unsuspecting wedding members getting smashed on drugs like a gross out comedy and the weeding not really going to plan in a sort of comedy of errors. All this brings confusion to what the film is trying to be.

So, should you see it? Well, as ever, all comedy is subjective. I loved it, others won’t. I would suggest that you make your decision based on the trailer or your feelings towards Bad Neighbours. Don’t decide to see it solely based on Mike and Dave Really Need a Better Movie Title.

The Good, The Bad and The Outcome:

+ Decent writing
+ Great female characters
+ Decent on-screen chemistry

– Brothers don’t seem like brothers
– Film loses steam as it goes on
– No real theme