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X Large: Misguided But Cute Romantic Comedy
Ahmed Helmy plays Magdy, an overweight man with a bunch of female friends who all see him as one of the girls, i.e. he’s about as sexually appealing to them as a teddy bear. All he wants is a woman who can see past his ‘unsightly’ exterior and see him for who he is inside. He reconnects with Dina (Donia Samir Ghanem), a girl he used to crush on back when he was a skinny kid, via Facebook and they get to know each other over the phone, without ever having seen any pictures of each other.
Dina, upon returning to Egypt, asks Magdy to pick her up from the airport which he agrees to do while secretly praying that she doesn’t turn out to be too conventionally attractive. When Magdy sees how beautiful Dina is, he lacks the confidence to out himself as Magdy and instead introduces himself as Magdy’s cousin Adel and informs her that Magdy had to travel abroad. With his friends’ help, he proceeds to try and get her to love him as Adel, fat and all.
In this reviewer’s opinion, this film tries to tackle a deep issue yet ends up perpetuating some pretty harmful stereotypes that only serve to ostracize the overweight. Besides, social conventions of attractiveness shift and anyway, and beauty is subjective; what one person sees as the epitome of beauty, another would consider their definition of ugly.
Helmy dons a fan suit for pretty much the entirety of the film and thus looks almost unrecognizable, the extra fat on his face does look quite fake though. He gives a very sympathetic portrayal and it’s due to him that the film comes across as merely misguided as opposed to mean or hateful.
Donia Samir Ghanem as Magdy’s love interest manages to come across as simultaneously peeved, exploitative and really, really nice. Her sudden flare ups and anger management methods are also pretty funny. Amy Samir Ghanem has a small but hilarious role as Mai, one of Magdy’s best friends. She meets a new guy practically every day over the internet and, chameleon style, changes her entire look and demeanor to fit the guy-du-jour’s taste becoming everything from a hijabi to a geisha. Nahed El Sibai has an awesome cameo as a friend of a friend who happens to be crushing on Magdy while mentally unstable and a compulsive over-sharer.
Going into a Helmy movie, you know exactly what you’re going to get; a light, funny film that all but charms your pants off and despite the sheer proliferation of fat-person-eats-enough-food-for-an-army jokes, X Large doesn’t deviate from this pattern.
What can you say about the seemingly unstoppable force that is Nicolas Cage that hasn’t been said before? A magnet for the most troubled, muddled and just generally exasperating films to hit cinemas in the last five years, his latest work in USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage does nothing to change his fortunes.
Despite being based on one a true story that has all the makings of a war epic, the Mario Van Peebles-directed USS Indianapolis bleeds all and any gravitas and emotion out of its incredibly dramatic source material.
The story goes as thus: the eponymous US Navy cruiser delivered the first parts of the atomic bomb that would go on to devastate Hiroshima, before being torpedoed by the Japanese navy, leaving some 300 of the 1000-plus crewmen dead and the rest stranded in shark-infested waters. Said sharks, along with dehydration and salt water poisoning, leave just over 300 survivors to be rescued.
At the centre of the ensuing hubbub is Cage’s Captain McVay, who many, very unreasonably, blame for the death of the 700 or so victims – so you see, it’s a very complex story, but one that very quickly descend into and exercise on how not to make a war film.
The occasional laughable CGI aside, Cage is oddly sedate, bordering on placid, in his role – yes, the central character is possibly the flattest element of the film, while seasoned actors, Tom Sizemore and Thomas Jane, are given little to chew on in their respective roles.
While starting exactly as one would expect a war film to, the wreckage part of the film turns into cheap disaster movie, before turning into a courtroom drama in the final act. It’s a muddle of a film that fails to really drum to the beat of McVay’s potentially brilliant arc as a firm commander that eventually buckles under the unjust pressure he receives back at home.
Bad CGI, a mammoth two hour-plus running time and Nic Cage can be forgiven, but what’s at the heart of this film’s mess is the script. Jumping from event to event, plotline to plotline, at a whim, with Cage’s soft murmured speech used to pave over the transitions, USS Indianapolis’s pacing is that of a film hurrying to stuff as many ideas and threads as possible – expect that’s not the case. Van Peebles tries so hard to build the layers of an epic, when, actually, all he needed to do was tell this simple but stirring story as it is.
Ludicrous, crass but also undeniably fun,Ted 2 - the sequel to Seth MacFarlane’s successful 2012 comedy, Ted –proves to be a more consistent and better drawn-out affair than its predecessor, even if the jokes – which there never seems to be a shortage of– don’t always land where they’re supposed to.
Picking up shortly after the events of the first film, Ted 2 is once again centred on best-buds and avid stoners, John Bennett (Wahlberg) and his talking teddy bear, Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) who, as it turns out, don’t seem to be living out their happily-ever-afters with the women in their lives. See, John has divorced the love-of-his-life, Lori (Kunis), and Ted, who at the beginning of the film shares his “I Do’s” with his human-bride, Tami-Lynn (Barth), is in constant clashes with his new wife.
Deciding that the best way to reconcile and put an end to all the bickering is to start a family, Ted reaches out to his best-friend for help; a decision which soon proves rather messy. However, Ted’s civil rights are soon called in to question by the government who wish to brand Ted as property as oppose to a living thing, leaving John and Ted with no choice but to turn to the rookie – and pot-loving- lawyer, Samantha (Seyfried) for some legal help in an attempt to prove that Ted is a living being with rights of his own. Hence the tagline ‘Legalise Ted’.
Endless pop-culture references and MacFarlane’s distinct brand of abstract toilet humour is once again the integral part of the story. While the first film lent most of its focus on Wahlberg and his romance with Mila Kunis – the actress was written out of the script due to her pregnancy with husband Ashton Kutcher – Ted 2 shifts the focus onto the talking teddy and his battle to be recognised, essentially, as a human.
The decision to shift proves to be a smart move, although the film does tend to take itself a little too seriously at times; in addition, Wahlberg – whose deadpan delivery is almost always spot on – seems to shine more in his secondary role.
Ted 2 is neither ambitious nor smart and its jokes are often offensive and pretty vulgar. Nevertheless, it’s a fun goofy kind of vulgarity that will ensure more box office success and probably even a third film.