The BOX OFFICE CHALLENGE is coming soon, but I wanted to give everyone a chance to read the RRR (Reel Rhino Review) for both Everything Must Go and Bridesmaids, before the weekend got too close. With Pirates 4 being the only new release this week, I think folks are going to be wondering what else is out there worth their hard earned dollar! Here we go…
EVERYTHING MUST GO: 4.5 Horns of 5
This film absolutely snuck up on me! For the first time in a long time, I hadn’t seen the trailer for the film I was watching. I went in stone cold, knowing only that Will Ferrell was the star and that it was supposedly uncharacteristic for his normal type of films.
What a great film and what a great experience being completely cold to the material!
This is the absolute first credit for Dan Rush, who both wrote and directed this film, which is based on a short story by Raymond Carver, a major figure in American literature of the late 20th century.
I tried to poke around the internet and found very little on Dan Rush…giving you a peek into the extent of some of my research, I couldn’t even find a Wikipedia page on this guy. That is saying a lot because Wikipedia is NEVER wrong.
A guy who definitely does have a Wiki page is Will Ferrell. A big one, in fact…and an IMDB page that is pretty long as well. Ferrell in my opinion is an extremely bankable star who over the past few years has lost a little luster. I got just plain sick of the Will Ferrell comedy. I can’t explain it, but it got old for me. I did not like The Other Guys when I saw it, but like Anchorman before it, it has grown on me a little bit. But that doesn’t change the fact that 5 or 6 years ago everything from Ferrell was golden. These days he has to really work for it. This film was no exception, but the change in tone of genre suits Ferrell here.
EVERYTHING MUST GO is not really funny man material…this is stone faced serious business.
This film, which premiered at TIFF in 2010, has been met with mostly positive reviews (77% on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing). Will Ferrell stars as Nick Halsey, a (partially) recovering alcoholic, who within very short order of the start credits, loses his job, loses his wife, and starts slipping back down towards life with the bottle.
The day he is fired, Halsey comes home to find out his wife has left him, leaving everything he owns on the front lawn of their house.
Halsey really doesn’t know how to react. Well actually, he knows how to react: he gets pissy drunk. But emotionally, he is lost. He takes up camp on his front lawn, living with his stuff as if the world is his living room.
Halsey ends up befriending a local boy, who is living with an elderly woman being cared for by his mother. Kenny Loftus is played by Christopher Jordan Wallace…that would be the son of Biggie Smalls…yep, this is The Notorious B.I.G.’s son. Guess what…he is pretty great. Subtle but bold in his role, standing right up there with Ferrell. That’s a tall task in that this is second movie ever. He’s 14 and his only previous role was playing his slain father as a child. I didn’t see Notorious, but based on this feature, I think this kid has a future.
Nick makes another new friend in his brand new neighbor, Samantha, played by the always enjoyable Rebecca Hall. As we meet her, Samantha is moving into the house across the street. She is pregnant and has moved to New Mexico ahead of her husband, who is being transferred there for work. Samantha is shy but Ferrell reaches out to her and they make a connection…not like that, but in a good way.
Along the way, for every moment where you think Nick is going to get his business in order, he slides a little further into the hole. Along the way, his AA sponsor and friend, Detective Frank Garcia (Michael Pena) comes by to help him get back on his feet. While Nick tried to deflect the help that Frank is offering, he does let the good detective keep the local police from arresting him for living on his lawn.
There are a couple great cameos in this flick…Laura Dern plays former high school classmate Delilah, the epitome of chameleon like character acting is here in Stephen Root (you know, Milton from Office Space), and finally, Glenn Howerton has a couple scenes as well as Nick’s boss (from the HILARIOUS It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia).
This film is darker than I would have expected. There is less comedy and more drama than I would have expected. Folks, this is a great film. I would call it feel good, but only for the catharsis that you experience alongside Nick as he fights off his demons. Through Nick, we learn about life from his sequence of tragedy of errors, but never really to the point that we pity him, but instead mostly where we actually will root for him to succeed.
For as much detail as I offer above, I have discussed really only the themes of this movie. See it…it deserves to be seen. If for no other reason as to give Ferrell a achance to show us something new.
I loved this movie and without sounding too cheesy, it has given me new perspective on life. I have a problem letting things go. I would save shit if it had a handle, as father has told me for years. I want to cleanse myself of the garbage that I have accumulated. My life is not the mess that Nick’s is, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t take away a parallel to my own.
4.5 Horns of 5 for this film. Over the past month, this film and WIN WIN strike me as two EXCELLENT indie dramas worth a watch.
BRIDESMAIDS: 4 of 5 Horns
The latest film from the Judd Apatow camp stars two of my favorite all-time SNL ladies in Kristen Wiig (Annie) and Maya Rudolph (Lillian). These are some very funny ladies and when teamed with a group of also very funny ladies, hilarity does in fact, ensue.
Who are those supporting ladies, you may ask?
Wendi McLendon-Covey is Rita – you know her as Deputy Clementine Johnson from Reno 911! Ellie Kemper as Becca – you know as the oh so cute Erin from The Office. Melissa McCarthy as Megan – you may know her from the Gilmour Girls or more recently from Mike and Molly. Rose Byrne as Helen – she was most recently in Insidious, but also had big roles in Get Him to the Greek and in the upcoming X-Men: First Class.
It is a great group of gals and they get their funny on in a big way.
Perhaps I was most surprised by how much I liked this movie as a whole, as opposed to just the parts with the yuks. This film is not The Hangover. Yes, there are some gross-out, potty humor parts that are executed with perfection. But it is really the character development and overriding story of friendship that held my interest. At just over two hours, this film has plenty of time to get us to know these folks. I would for other films argue that the running time is a hair too long, but for Bridesmaids, it seems just right.
This is a movie about the few crazy days that lead up to a wedding. The groom…ummm, what’s his name here? Dougie….he has nary a single word uttered from start to finish. This film focuses on the relationships of these women and it seems wholly believable as a presentation of real women who are real friends.
Yes, some of the cast are here solely to serve their comic purpose and little else, which is both a shame and a blessing. Where our primaries are given ample character construction, some of the could be fluff is shaved in favor of straight up laughs. For that we lose screen time for Ellie Kemper and Wendi McLendon-Covey – both very funny gals, but their time on screen is relegated to delivering one-liners.
That is except for Rose Bynre as Helen, a lonely housewife who is both rich and tasteful. Her efforts to become the lead friend in Lillian’s life is what sets the action in motion. Helen’s efforts to fill the role of Maid of Honor – a task that has actually been given to Annie (Wiig) who is Lillian’s best friend – inserts so much conflict into a situation that is already rife with problems. Yes, weddings typically equal headaches.
Helen is rich, Annie is poor. Her cake shop was run out of business and she ekes out a living hawking jewelry, a job her mom got for her by sponsoring a recovering alcoholic who happens to run the shop. She is not much of a saleswoman…hilariously so, even. Helen is a prim and proper housewife and she’s got dough to blow…she is the exact opposite of Annie.
Annie lives with a Brit who is a tad bit overweight…no judgment, but it is played for comedy, so I mention it. His also overweight and very dull sister is visiting and living with the two of them. The brother/sister combo makes for some very funny scenes, even if just for the visual presentation they provide as characters.
So Annie is upset at the attempt to usurp her role as Maid of Honor…at least she has a man in her life…in the form of none other than Jon Hamm. What a dream, right ladies? Nope. He is a big douche and treats her like dirt, using her only a sex toy for whom he has no respect. I actually despised his character in this film, perhaps because I came to like Wiig’s Annie so damn much!
As the plot rolls forward, we see Annie and Lillian grow apart. Both Wiig and Rudolph execute every scene they are in with great skill. They have impeccable delivery and timing and their facial expressions alone often deliver more laughs than some other “comedic” films. I could watch them in anything!
In addition to slowly losing her friend, Annie rues the lack of a good man in her life. Enter the extremely affable Chris O’Dowd, who we meet as Officer Rhodes. Rhodes pulls Annie over for reckless driving and she manages to talk her way out of a ticket. There is a spark between them that is explored throughout the rest of the film. I enjoyed every time he appeared and every scene added a bit more to the complexities of the story and the world of confusion that Annie was wondering through.
Annie’s life spirals quite quickly out of control and this film dips dangerously close into utterly depressing fare. There were moments where the laughs were few and the drama was thick. In an out and out comedy, these moments were quite surprising. But as I said, the character development was plentiful and because I really cared for these characters, I was as interested as much in the drama as I was the laughs.
Kristen Wiig wrote this film with friend Annie Mumolo. Mumolo had a great cameo as the “dreamer” on the plane. I had the chance to listen to Mumola on Jeff Goldsmith’s podcast (http://www.unlikely.com/screenings.html) and the tale of how this film came to exist is much worth the listen!
Director Paul Feig has a history that rich with modern classic television comedy. He does have a few featured films from through the years, but his game has mostly been TV. I think this is a great first effort for Feig at the “adult” aduly comedy that Apatow has helped refine through the years and I like that Apatow is working as a Producer on projects now, adding bits of his style to other films and shows. I do look forward to whatever becomes of the 2012 “Untitled Judd Apatow Project” and I am sad we don’t have a Judd-film this summer. He was on an every other year schedule, but I think the lackluster performance of his Funny People took the wind from his sails a bit. Get mack on that horse old boy, and ride….ride like the wind.
Before I wrap it up, a bit of trivia about Melissa McCarthy as Megan, who absolutely steals every scene that she is in. We will be seeing more of her, I am sure! Her seat mate on the airplane scene was her real-life husband, character actor, Ben Falcone. Their scenes alone are worth the trip to the theater and make sure to stay after the credits for a Bridesmaids-stinger with Melissa.
This is a fun movie. This film is not The Hangover. It is not better or worse than the 2009 classic; it is its own thing all together that is definitely worth a watch. Every scene has something to offer and when you’re not laughing, you will likely feel actual compassion for the well-being of our leads. What a great film that draws you in with laughs and sends you home with warm fuzzy.
4 of 5 Horns.
Check back soon for a chance to enter the BOX OFFICE CHALLENGE!! Until then, take care.