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The Five-Year Engagement: Sweet, Funny & Unpretentious
A short while after Tom (Segel) and Violet (Blunt) decide to get married, Violet gets her dream job at a far off university prompting them to put off the wedding until they get settled in. Tom quits his job as a chef and moves with her for what was initially planned to be a two year stint. As Violet’s star rises at the university and their stay begins to acquire a semblance of permanence, Tom becomes something of a failure both on a career level and on a personal one. With their problems piling up, the couple keep putting off their wedding amidst their families’ insistence that they’re perfect for each other.
The Five-Year Engagement is perfectly cast. Blunt and Segel are impossibly endearing as the lead couple and they succeed in making a duo that you just have to root for even when happiness doesn’t seem to be in the cards for them. But it’s not just the leads that are great; Pratt as Tom’s friend Alex and Brie as Violet’s sister Suzie are incredible. They, hands down, are the film’s secret comic weapon. It’s impossible not to giggle your head off while they’re on screen, even more so when they’re opposite each other. And then of course you have people like Rhys Ifans and Mindy Kaling in smaller, but no less funny, roles.
While the cast goes a long way in making the film hugely entertaining to sit through, it must be said that they were given great material to work with. The jokes here are actually funny and there’s a constant flow of them. They’re born out of situations that feel real and aren’t amplified to the point of absurdity. Even the film’s running gags manage to be entertaining each and every time they’re trotted out. The film isn’t all laughs though; Tom and Violet go through their share of hardships and this succeeds in grounding the film in reality. But while you might hurt for the couple, the film doesn’t get depressing nor does it veer into the painfully awkward.
The Five-Year Engagement is sweet without being saccharine and real without being gloomy. It’s a feel good film, and while it lags slightly in the middle, it’s still tremendously good fun and has a perfect beginning and end that more than make up for it. The jokes are funny, the cast is stellar and the leads are adorable both together and apart.
Good looks aren't everything – everyone knows that. The very same ideology can also be applied to the world of cinema; when a film has the body and the face, but very little personality to back up the pretty package, the payoff is – more often than not – rather disappointing.
Unfortunately, this seems to be the case with British crime-thriller, Welcome to the Punch.
Welcome to the Punch's opening sequence starts off with a heist in London's slick – and eerily empty – Canary Wharf business district. In hot pursuit of elusive thief, Jacob Sternwood (Strong) and his gas-mask wearing motorcycle-riding crew, the young and exceptionally driven detective, Max Lewinsky (McAvoy), will stop at nothing until his target is caught and put behind bars. Unfortunately, Sternwood manages to get away and as a parting gift, Max is left with a bullet in his knee.
Fast forward to three years later and Max is still reliving the events from that night and finding it hard to deal with the banality of everyday life. Max's newly-assigned partner, Sarah Hawks (Riseborough), offers some support, but the scar that he's left with – and a routine fluid drain to reduce consistent swelling – plays as a constant reminder of his failure.
Soon, Max is given another chance to capture his nemesis when Sternwood decides to emerge from his Icelandic hideout and return to London. Max, who has been waiting for this chance for three years, immediately jumps on the case, only to uncover a web of conspiracy and lies involving his own police department.
Welcome to the Punch marks Eran Creevy's second feature film after his successful directorial debut back in 2008 with Shifty; a British thriller involving a young cocaine dealer and his life on the shabby streets of London. This time, Creevy glams up those very same streets; a move that proves to be successful, as Welcome to the Punch is glorious to look at. The opening heist sequence is a piece of cinema any Hollywood big-shot would be proud of and the entire film rests against the twinkly lights of the prominent London skyline, with every scene saturated in a steely blue-grey tone.
However, this is where the praise stops. Scratching beneath its beautifully crafted surface, there's nothing else to hold the story together. The plot is incoherent, the dialogue is thoughtless and the tension – which is especially needed in a cat-and-mouse thriller such as this – is almost non-existent.
This is far from McAvoy’s best work and the role of a copper driven by vengeance just doesn’t fit the talented Scotsman. Meanwhile, Strong – whose heavy on-screen presence is hard to deny – picks up most of the slack.
Ridiculously slick and polished, Welcome to the Punch is almost picture-perfect. However, it fails to deliver what it initially promises; the punch.
Scary Movie 5 – aka Scary MoVie – marks the latest and slightly belated entry to one of the laziest spoof series in the history of cinema. The franchise, which continues down a shameless road of riff-raff, turns its attention to recent box office hits such as Mama, Black Swan, Sinister, The Cabin in the Woods, Evil Dead and of course, Paranormal Activity.
The premise hasn't changed one bit, but the outlandish formula that may have once incited a few laughs – or at least some guilty chuckles – has finally reached a point of no return: rock bottom.
Scary Movie 5's so-called plot focuses on Jody (Tisdale) and Dan (Rex); a young married couple who have come to care for three young girls who, after the tragic disappearance of their father – Dan's older brother – spend most of their time living in 'the cabin in the woods'. They are feral and wild, and continue to creep everyone out with constant references to someone called 'Mama'.
Keen to rid the house of any unwanted demons, Jody and Dan wire up their house with multiple cameras – à la Paranormal Activity. Meanwhile, the couple struggle to tend to their careers; Dan keeps himself busy researching apes at a scientific facility run by scary boss, Martin (Crews), while Jody tries to resurrect her career as a ballerina – à la, yes you've guess it, Black Swan – and auditions for the lead in a production of 'Swan Lake', working opposite pole-dancing ballerina, Kendra (Ash).
This is the first film in the series that has not been moulded by the hands of original creators, the Wayans Brothers, who declined the invitation to return, and the franchise's charmingly nutty lead, Anna Faris, who is currently pregnant. Needless to say, the film suffers from both omissions and doesn't have the foolish charm that made the franchise so popular, showing little-to-no intelligence in its humour.
The plot is incredibly inconsistent and plays out as a series of unconnected set-pieces, each telling their own story, just for the sake of it. Seriously, how many more Paranormal Activity spoofs do we have to sit through?
Tisdale, who has some pretty big shoes to fill after Farris' departure, is appalling and she still hasn't shaken off her Disney roots. Rex is just as horrendous and although the film has several talented actors at its disposable – Morgan Freeman narrates – none of them are given the right material to work with. Even cameos by Snoop Dogg, Mike Tyson, Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan all feel like missed opportunities.
Sitting in the wrong side of ridiculous, Scary Movie 5 is unfunny and too on-the-nose – wasting anymore column inches writing about it is infuriating.