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Ted: One Man & His Teddy Bear
Ten year old playground outcast, John (Wahlberg), wishes that his teddy bear, Ted (McFarlane), could come to life and be the friend that he never had. His wish comes true and a couple of decades later, John and Ted’s pact to be friends for life is stronger than ever much to the chagrin of John’s long term girlfriend Lori (Kunis). She happens to be of the opinion that this relationship, which consists mainly of getting stoned, is keeping her guy from growing up and acting like the adult that he is. As Ted’s hijinks reach a level no longer tolerable by Lori, John’s forced to choose between his best friend and his girlfriend; a matter further complicated by a psychopath who’s just dying to make Ted his own.
Ted is very similar to pretty much every other R-rated comedy out there with the added twist that the protagonist’s man-child status manifests in the form of his teddy bear sidekick. There’s a giggling twelve year old inside this reviewer that’s immensely happy that this film got made, what with the cute, fuzzy teddy getting stoned, humping a cash register and fellating an ice lolly - not necessarily all at the same time. But, subtract that sense of novelty from the equation and the film you’re left with is quite average. These comedies - as in anything with Judd Apatow’s imprint on it - generally share a ton of the same DNA and rely on the same themes for their humour (sex, drugs, farts) - but this one seems even more familiar than the usual, not to mention it’s basically an excuse for a cute teddy to act dirty; the humans largely play second fiddle to their animated counterpart.
Ted suffers mainly from a case of a film’s concept being better than its execution. There are glimpses of hilarity in there; some of the jokes connect hard and there are some seriously awesome cameos, but it’s just not enough to carry the entire film which plays more like a bunch of poorly connected, very funny skits than a cohesive film. The actors are very entertaining; Ribisi as the aforementioned psychopath (has he ever played a character that isn’t seriously unhinged?), is a particular highlight and equal parts creepy and hilarious. Kunis and Wahlberg, however, aren’t served as well by the material. The former is shunted into a harping girlfriend role, while the latter is a classic man-child who, thankfully, is graced with a touch of self-awareness. Their relationship, however, lacks believability and as a result, you really couldn’t care less about whether they make it as a couple or not. Then there’s John’s relationship with Ted, which while served well by the brilliant animation, twists and turns with the dictates of the flimsy story and isn’t nearly as emotional as it could and should have been.
Ted is cool if you solely want to laugh, but with the number of great comedies that have come out recently that both crack you up and tug at your heartstrings; it’s a pretty underwhelming experience.
Subtlety has never really concerned Australian-born filmmaker, Baz Luhrmann. The man who brought us as Romeo and Juliet and Moulin Rouge is both known and reviled for his dazzling and glitzy visual panache, and the notion of impossible love is forever present as the heart of his largely theatrical and melodramatic productions.
Flamboyant and extravagant, The Great Gatsby is visually striking, but when stripped down, has little to offer.
The film opens with a depressed and weary Nick Carraway (Maguire) who is being treated for alcoholism. Unable to articulate his thoughts on a man named Gatsby, he begins to put pen to paper under instructions from his doctors.
We then flash back to 1922, where Nick, then a bond salesman, moves to the fictional town of West Egg, nearby to his cousin Daisy Buchanan (Mulligan) and her husband Tom (Edgerton). Nick’s new home happens to neighbour that of a mysterious and elusive Jay Gatsby (DiCaprio). An enigma to his neighbours, Gatsby perennially throws the most extravagant parties, but the millionaire generally lives his life as a recluse.
After discovering that Tom is having an affair, Nick receives an invitation to one of the Gatsby’s infamous parties. Once there, Gatsby reveals that he is still in love with Nick’s cousin Daisy, after a brief romantic encounter years before. As Nick slowly becomes entangled in the bizarre life of Gatsby, the cynicism and hypocrisy of West Egg’s inhabitants drives the characters to great lengths to preserve their own vanity and sense of self-importance.
F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel has continually struggled to translate onto the big-screen and previous adaptations have failed to capture the essence that made this the ‘Great American Novel’.
Disappointingly, Luhrmann’s stab at the project has yielded few improvements. The director’s trademark approach is extraordinary, and over-the-top doesn't begin to describe the flamboyant visual experience that he creates. But while for the most part it works, the unflinching visual style and the sweeping overhead shots prove to be a little too sensational for what is an intricate and complex plot.
However, the biggest downfall is the emotional hollowness of the story. Luhrmann fails to infuse emotional connections between the characters, while the soundtrack – which features everything from jazz and hip-hop to techno and dance – is every bit as awkward as it sounds.
Despite Luhrmann’s misguided post-modern motions, DiCaprio gives the film depth with an excellent interpretation of the eponymous character’s charm and allure. Meanwhile, Mulligan plays her character in a way that maintains her position as the object of desire perfectly; though she too is a victim of the absurdities of West Egg, it becomes difficult to surrender any sympathy to her. Maguire, on the other hand, shines in his wallflower role; although he is guilty of enabling many of the decisions that the characters make, he retains an innocence and naivety that is integral to the plot.
All in all, Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby fails to render the novel’s grandness in terms of plot, but taken as a whole package, the stylistics make for an entertaining piece of cinema.
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.