FERDINAND (USA 2017) ***

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Ferdinand Poster
Trailer

After Ferdinand, a bull with a big heart, is mistaken for a dangerous beast, he is captured and torn from his home. Determined to return to his family, he rallies a misfit team on the ultimate adventure.

Director:

Carlos Saldanha

Writers:

Munro Leaf (based on the book by), Robert Lawson (based on the book by) |6 more credits »

 

FERDINAND, the bull charges into theatres just a few weeks after Pixar’s COCO.  FERDINAND is no COCO but it makes its mark, based on the ever poplar book with more humour and laughs than COCO.

FERDINAND is a CGI animated feature based on the classic 1936 Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson book.  The Lawson drawings have been translated to more than 60 languages including the 1938 Disney featurette.  Ferdinand loves flowers not fighting but finds himself in a bull training camp, the Casa del Toros where he escapes to a farm and is brought up by little Nina (Lily Day) who loves her little bull.  The little bull is not little forever, and grow into a huge monster of an animal, now also possessing the voice of towering John Cena.

The trouble (or fun, depending how one wants to look at it) starts when Ferdnand is prevented from going to the Festival of Flowers, which the flower loving bull cannot resists.  Nina is forced to tell him to stay home though Ferdinand thinks she still wants him to go.  Ferdinand ends up convincing himself (in many funny ways) that to go is the right thing to do.  He gets stung a bee, roars in pain and scare the townsfolk leading to his capture.  He is forced to go into fighting again, this tie against the famous bullfighter El Primero (Miguel Angel Silvestre).

Ferdinand plans his escape.  His sidekick and assistant is a buck-tooth hyper talking goat called Lupe (Kate KcKinnon) together with three comical hedgehogs, appropriately named Uno, Dos and Cuartro (Gina Rodriguez, Daveed Diggs ad Gabriel Iglesias).

The filmmakers cannot resist (I doubt no one can) but put Ferdinand the bull in a chain shop.  Yes, an accident waiting to happen.  In that scene, Ferdinand is hiding from his pursuers.  To make it even funnier, there is an old woman with a feather duster dusting the china.  And a bull with huge nostrils?  Another accident to happen, for sure!

Blue Sky Company who makes FERDINAND all made the ICE AGE movies that are too cute for my liking and RIO.   Th squirrel antics of ICE AGE looks similar to the cute bunny sequence in FERDINAND.

The film has many prized comedic set ups among them being the dance off,

(choreography by Carlos Saldanha) with the three horses (Robert L. Baird, Tim Federle and Brad Copeland).  If not prancing around, they are out-talking everyone else with their Swedish accent right out of an IKEA commercial.

The film contains three original songs but nothing hispanic.

FERDINAND might face stiffer competition with the animated THE STAR, also about goofy animals with the birth of Christ than with COCO.  FERDINAND does come up on top in terms of laughs.

Trailer: https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-adk-adk_sbnt&hsimp=yhs-adk_sbnt&hspart=adk&p=ferdinand+trailer#id=1&vid=b6f1c0de7b88754d0d9158fd19b83482&action=view

 

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Film Review: ROUGH NIGHT (USA 2017) ***

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rough_nightThings go terribly wrong for a group of girlfriends who hire a male stripper for a bachelorette party in Miami.

Director: Lucia Aniello
Writers: Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs
Stars: Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Zoë Kravitz

 ROUGH NIGHT is that rare chick flick that has sufficient material to satisfy both female and male audiences. Besides the bride-to-be and friends, the film also devotes a fair amount of time to the groom-to-be and his friends. The ending has everyone celebrating the wedding. This is expected in a Hollywood happy ending, so no spoiler is intended.

There are a few things that promises a satisfying comedy. One is the script that was one of the 2015 blacklisted scripts, which usually means a script that matters. The other is that the film is a first effort from female director Aniello, which means she will try her very best to prove herself, never mind a few mistakes mentioned below in this review. It is also about time a film emerged that looked at a female point of view of the HANGOVER films.

The film opens with the college days where five best friends (Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer, and Zoë Kravitz) connect at a fraternity drink party. It is 10 years later when they reunite for a wild bachelorette weekend in Miami. During their hard partying, they accidentally kill a male stripper. Amidst the craziness of trying to conceal their deed, they are ultimately brought closer together where it matters most.

The film has quite a few genuinely hilarious comedic set-ups, but there are quite a few misses as well. For comedy, director Aniello commits three mistakes, which could be considered forgivable considering that this is her debut feature and also that the funny parts make up for these mistakes. One big mistake in comedy is the explaining of a joke. During the airport scene where Alice cracks open a champagne bottle to the sound of a loud pop, everyone dives to the ground thinking it to be a gunshot. Alice remarks after, “Popping the bottle sounds like a shot and we are at the airport.”

The tampon joke is also one that is understood by both male and female. The rule is to never explain a joke. Another is the repeating of a joke. This happens when Alice toasts Jess at a dance club when Pippa pops up a piece of toast as she does not have a drink. This is done three times. The third mistake is trying too hard on a joke that is essentially a failure. This occurs in the scene where the group says solemn words and saying ok , “Dump the body”, before disposing the body of the dancer. The film also falls into the trap of stereotyping – example the activist is a lesbian.

To the film’s credit, the comedic set-ups are related and move smoothly towards the climax of the film, which is the wedding, For the few thrilling parts where the five friends have to tackle the diamond robbers, director Aniello proves her competence at thrills in keeping her audience at the edge of their seats.

Of the five actresses, SNL’s Kate McKinnon succeeds as the funniest of the lot, believable as an Australian with her accent. Jillian Bell comes a close second as the chief troublemaker Scarlett Johansson proves herself apt here in comedy as in other genres like action flicks (LUCY and GHOST IN THE SHELL), art horror (UNDER THE SKIN) and Woody Allen romantic drama comedies (VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA and MATCH POINT).

Despite the film’s flaws, ROUGH NIGHT thankfully succeeds as a satisfying comedy for both sexes. There are enough off-coloured jokes, foul language, tasteful sexual innuendo (the vibrating dildo) and a few messages about the importance of friendships (cliched though they may be) that result in a satisfying hilarious night out.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jRNDOZnGKU

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Film Review: OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY (USA 2016)

office_christmas_party_movie_poster.jpgDirectors: Josh Gordon, Will Speck

Stars: Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, T.J. Miller, Jennifer Aniston, Kate McKinnon, Vanessa Bayer

OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY, the comedy, about an office party gone haywire is not novel in its idea or conception. The office here is some software tech called Zenotek. The CEO Carol Vanstone (Jennifer Aniston) tries to close the branch of her hard-partying brother Clay (T. J. Miller). Clay and his Chief Technical Officer, Josh Parker (Jason Bateman) must rally their co-workers and host an epic office Christmas party in an effort to impress a potential client, first name Walter (Courtney B. Vance) and close a sale that will save their jobs. It is not a revolutionary storyline, but one that has potential for high jinx comedy. Directors Speck and Gordon (BLADES OF GLORY and THE SWITCH) has fashioned this office party comedy using all means they can get their hands on. The result is them getting their hands too full.

OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY will be inevitably compared to other party comedies like the teen PROJECT X and the Blake Edwards/Peter Sellers collaboration THE PARTY. Like both films, OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY is about the party that escalates slowly out of control. Here, a dressed up Jesus rides a white horse right down the office cubicles. The building high rise windows get smashed and almost every male gets a blow job.

In THE PARTY a painted elephant gets washed with bubbles everywhere while all the surrounding trees and electricity poles get wrecked outside the party house in PROJECT X. But the problem with OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY is that just when the party gets funny, right after Walter accidentally gets coked up, the film is taken out into the open where an unfunny car chase takes place ending with the car racing to make a drawbridge – a stunt that is does not come off that funny.

The Russian mafia takedown does not generate much laughs either.
The script takes the plot of saving the company too seriously. The audience is supposed to believe that Josh’s romantic interest, Tracey (Olivia Munn) has invented some internet communications portal. Who really cares? If one can remember, THE PARTY hardly and any plot but an Indian actor accidentally invited to a Hollywood party and accidentally causing havoc.

The cast contains some bright talents – some funny but some not. Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon (she played Hillary Clinton on SNL) is winning as the politically correct HR person, thought the script has to rely on her sex and fart jokes. (She is called the farty lady). Courtney B. Vance is also a scream. Bateman and Munn have straight roles while Miller is not funny at all. Jennifer Aniston is quite game for anything and she does the Meryl Streep role in THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA. Her character makes two grand entrances (remember Streep’s unforgettable 10 minute entrance to the Prada building at the film’s start?) to the brother’s company.

Considering the cast and talent involved in OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY, the film could have come up with a higher hit and miss laughter ratio. Still, my bet is the film doing well at the box-office, with a film milking the perfect festive holiday theme of an office party.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_itBfEC_TI

 

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Movie Review: GHOSTBUSTERS (2016). Direted by Paul Feig

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ghostbusters_2016GHOSTBUSTERS (USA 2016) ***1/2

Directed by Paul Feig

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones

Review by Gilbert Seah

It took tons of effort and luck before GHOSTBUSTERS could be get this fresh look on the screen. The original 1984 hit version is best remembered as a classic that should not be tempered with. The original 4 that made GHOSTBUSTERS in 1984 including the late Harold Ramis who died in 1984 made a pact that no more GHOSTBUSTERS movie could be made unless all agreed. Bill Murray was the one who objected to all the previous scripts till this one written by Katie Dippold (THE HEAT) and championed by Paul Feig (BRIDESMAIDS). Bill Murray has a cameo as a supernatural activity debunker. And many loyal fans were upset that the film is given a female cast instead.

The film begins with an impressive opening sequence with a tour guide played by TV SILICON VALLEY’s Zach Woods explaining some paranormal behaviour before poltergeists appear. The story then moves on to professor Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig) who reunites with friends (Melissa McCarthy, Kate Mckinnon) to rid NYC of a ghost invasion. The film contains no boring romances, no life lessons or unnecessary drama – just plain silly fun with a female twist.

GHOSTBUSTERS runs out of steam at parts but the audience knows that another funny part will arrive just around the corner. A lot of the humour is provided by the 4 main actresses, who for the most part work well together to keep the laughs coming fast and furious. McKinnon is the most manic of the four, playing the scientist inventor, whose technical gibberish can hardly be understood at times. But who cares? Though Wiig plays the most serious of the four, the professor who loses tenure and has to return to fighting ghosts, she provides a good number of laughs. In fact, the film’s two funniest laugh-out jokes come from her, in the segment where she is manically runs to warn the mayor (Andy Garcia) having dinner of the ghost invasion. McCarthy overdoes it as usual. She does look funny in her oversized jumpsuit, showing that she is game in having a good time. One can get too much of her, while one wishes there is more of Leslie Jones, the reluctant subway employee who joins the group.

The special effects work well. A number of ghosts look like the ones from the original. But the film might be too scary for younger children.
The new GHOSTBUSTERS at least learns from the original. The script by Katie Dippold improves while it can. The original theme song recorded by Ray Parker, Jr. back in the day that was the number 1 hit that stayed on on the billboard for 3 weeks is used at various points in the movie, obviously both reminding and reviving audience’s fond memories. Improvements in the film include adding a human villain, the one that opens the portal for the ghosts. Another is the addition of a new character, Kevin (THOR’s Chris Hemsworth) the male equivalent of the pretty dumb blonde secretary. Kevin has major problems answering the telephone while carrying on normal duties, creating more problems when he becomes possessed. Hemsworth displays a surprising flair for comedy and dance.

GHOSTBUSTERS definitely pleases as evident during the promo screening I attended. It takes quite a lot to both getting the audience to applaud as well as to stay for the closing credits.

 

 

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