Comedy

Keanu

As much as I wish I could just post about Keanu Reeves being awesome, this post isn’t about that. (Well, not directly, anyway).

We have all certainly heard the buzz of Jordan Peele‘s Get Out.  A lot of you are probably like “wait? Peele? Like that funny dude from Key and Peele?”  (Bonus points if you were like “wait, the guy who was on MAD TV with Key?). Yep! That guy.  Well briefly before his horror masterpiece was helping generate 200 buzzfeed articles, Key and Peele pumped out this comedy about a cat named Keanu.

This bizarre comedy follows two cousins pretty out of touch with LA street life.  After a cat stumbles into their lives, things seem to be on the up for the down trodden duo, but the cat belongs to a drug lord.  Hitmen and drug dealers claim the cat back sending the cousins on a berserk frenzy to reclaim their pet.

This movie is pure laughs in the style you’ve come to know and love from this pair.  As they take off in disguise as badass drug dealing hitmen in their pastel coloured shorts, you’ll immediately feel comfortable in the humour you expect from these two.  Put simply, it is a laugh, and a perfect gem when you’re looking for a comedy you might have missed.

Great if you liked: Let’s Be Cops, Bad Boys, Mr. Right, Central Intelligence, Let’s Go To Prison, Get Hard, Masterminds, Neighbor. (Note* I am not a big fan of most of these movies, and I love Keanu.  This movie is a lot better and a lot funnier, but certainly falls into the same category as those mentioned).

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The Grand Seduction

It’s Thursday.  I treated myself to some banana cake because I deserve it.  You know what you deserve?  Something feel good.

I’ve said this over and over, so many hidden gems tend to be horror and sci fi, and while those are my favourite, so no complaints, it leaves little room for your nice warm and fuzzies.  Well this early Spring Thursday, I bring you a warm and fuzzy by way of The Grand Seduction.

I know what you’re thinking, “I see Taylor Kitsch as a doctor.  I am sold.  Say no more!”  BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE.

In Eastern Canada (Newfoundland, specifically), there is a strange abundance of Irish accents and fishing towns.  This fishing village is in desperate need of jobs, jobs that would come with the building of a new factory.  In order to get the factory in their village, they’ll have to get the numbers, get the workers, get the space, and get a permanent doctor.  After getting into some trouble with the law, Dr. Paul Lewis is sent to the town to temporarily fill in as their full time medic.  The people of the village, desperate to get him to stay, plot to sell their charming village to the good doc by any means necessary.

Yep, it’s pretty creepy, and the villagers are nothing short of that.  But this incredibly cute story shows the will and determination of a village coming together to save what they have by any means necessary.  The cast is as charming as the town their trying to protect.  You might even be convinced to visit…. unless you like ethnic food and 40 hipster coffee joints on every corner (which I do, so… not for me).  Even Kitsch totally sells it as a caring and charming doc, made to blush when flattered by the ladies.

This departure from your average romantic comedy or slapstick laugh fest is a super cute and super unique feel good laugh.  I almost struggle to compare it to a mainstream you’re likely to have seen.  This is what “charm” looks like on screen, and you deserve that on a Thursday. (Fun fact, this appears to be a remake).  Learn more about the wonderful province of NL here.

Great if you liked: The Way Way Back, honestly, I have no idea, this is such a departure from anything I have seen…

Better Off Ted

If you haven’t yet submitted to the mania of Santa Clarita Diet, I suggest you get on it.  The Netflix comedy has me in stitches and I’ve watched it through more than once by now.  Which is why it came as no surprise to me that the show’s creator,  Victor Fresco, is also responsible for one of my favourite lesser known sitcoms, Better Off Ted.

I was introduced to this parody of office culture while nuts deep in a ridiculous office job selling “smart solutions to optimize efficiency.”  Buzz business words that business people don’t think are funny were my jam, so this show hit the sweet spot.

This quick witted comedy focuses on Ted, a VP at a parody of a multinational conglomerate in charge of research and development.  The single father narrates us through his attempts at managing his career, child and love life.  It’s as quick witted as you’ve come to expect from SC Diet, to the brim with quoteable one liners and back and forth.  The cast absolutely excels in their delivery of the ridiculous dialogue while all managing to be charming.  On top of that, it is absolutely silly and over the top and calls out all those weird office tropes that your colleagues seem to think are normal.  (We are all Linda).

This 2 season show is somehow still not on Netflix, so let’s start the campaign to get it there, considering SC Diet seems to be doing pretttty well.  Also, the fake company commercials are so good as a standalone mini series.

Great if you liked: Santa Clarita Diet, Arrested Development, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Office, Community, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, Archer

Trick ‘r Treat

First of all, Happy highest of the holidays, Halloween.
If you’re anything like me, you have been crushing horror all month long and are looking for an exciting finale.
I spent my weekend re-watching the Freddy franchise, and hitting up some new (pretty dope) horror with Oculus.
But tonight is the night for a lesser known hallo-flick, that is a certifiable cult classic, Trick ‘r Treat.

This bizarre anthology tells five interwoven stories of Halloween mayhem.  A couple face some fright after one disrespects the hallow-rules, a boring white collar moonlights as something more sinister, a group of gals hit the town looking for dates, some bullies get what’s coming and a living infamous man is tormented by the fan favourite “interwoven” demon.

It’s a bit gory, kinda scary, VERY Halloween-y, and full of laughs… if you’re morbid.  The fun part is that it is a laugh full of surprises, that are actually kind of scary.  To the point you can’t tell if you feel right having nightmares or not. You can also feel the cast having fun as their ‘psycho’ alter egoes.

It’s super weird and can sit right up there with other Halloween cult faves you’ve watched to death.  I’ve certainly added it to my October ritual. It WILL remind you to respect Halloween customs and it also contains one of the all time best werewolf transformations.

Excellent if you liked: Four Rooms, Krampus, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Hocus Pocus, Gremlins, Vampire’s Suck, What We Do in the Shadows, Grindhouse, From Dusk ‘Til Dawn.

The Final Girls

Look, if you’re really looking towards full Hallowe’en horror, I don’t need to be the one to tell you to fire up “Halloween,” “Friday the 13th,” or “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”  (And if I do, please stop what you’re doing and marathon those real quick and then come on back.)

Since I expect you’ve already watched (and loved) those franchises in their entirety, I bring you the camp horror comedy that plays to my all time favourite trope, The Final Girls.

Carpenter’s original “Halloween,” is a horror ‘mother movie’ ™ that sparked an onslaught of horror franchises and the meta/camp ones that followed. (re: Scream).  On purpose or not, it created the trope of the final girl; the, often ‘virginal,’ girl who outlasts everyone and comes up against the slashing killer in one climactic stand off.

The Final Girls uses this trope, among others, to give us a comedic camp horror film filled to the brim with heart.

Max loses her mom, Amanda, at a young age.  Amanda is famous for playing a cult classic scream queen named Nancy. (Nancy.  Guys.).  Every year, the local theater screens the cult classic, and Max struggles with it and the memory of her mother.

While in attendance at the screening, Max and her friends somehow end up in the move (read: Last Action Hero), surrounded by your horror movie tropes, and the final girl, Nancy.  Max and her friends have to team up with the characters to defeat the weapon wielding slasher and end the film.

While it spreads across much of the genre, this film feels the most like Friday the 13th complete with a Jason style killer.  It let’s the characters take back their tropes as a means of surviving to the end of the film.  The slutty chick who gets killed whilst being slutty? Taken back by Angela Trimbur, who, upon learning of her part, gives an amazing performance in the way of a sacrificial sexy strip tease to lure the killer to the campers.  (Her dance is unbelievable, and arguably feminist in her taking back her sexuality as a means of tackling the killer, over a character being reduced to an over-sexualized victim).

The Final Girls is a fun romp for all horror fans, is heartbreaking, is moving, is cute, is hilarious, and is kinda scary.  No doubt the medicine for the genre fan who’s seen it all.

Great if you liked: Friday the 13th, Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Guest, Green Room, Grindhouse, Last Action Hero

The Way Way Back

It’s the end of September, and I am already on my Hallowe’en horror grind.  It is taking a lot out of me to push back some great horror posts in favour of something a little more reminiscent of the waning Summer.

From Jim Rash and Nat Faxon, names you’ll recognize from The Descendants, comes the “coming of age” summer flick, The Way Way Back.  It’s just what you need to hold on the fleeting feeling of pool days.

Duncan, 14, goes on summer vacation with his mom, her overbearing boyfriend, and his daughter. Behind everyone’s back, he gets a job at the local water park, Water Wizz and befriends the “man child” of an owner, Owen.

Duncan’s self esteem is shot by his mother’s boyfriend, and the pretty girl next door.  At Water Wizz, he makes some unlikely friends and finds some purpose.

A recognizable cast including Steve Carell as big bad boyfriend, Sam Rockwell as Owen (one of the 3 most underrated actors of our time), Toni Collette as “the mom,” Allison Janney, and Liam James as Duncan.

This realistic coming of age comedy is overwhelmingly warm.  Duncan’s smiles are so genuine when in his own, and it’s something you can really sense.

Amazing if you liked Juno, Little Miss Sunshine, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, 500 Days of Summer, Moonrise Kingdom.

 

Idiocracy

When news of the fact that the writers of Idiocracy were making political ads starring Terry Crews, I knew it was high time I brought this one up.

It’s 2016 North America, and the unfortunate truth is that Idiocracy seems very real.

Luke Wilson stars as a literal average Joe.  Along with a “lady of the night,” (Maya Rudolph) he enlists in a military program to be cryogenically frozen, and wakes up 500 years later in a very different version of America.  The film posits that since those with lower intelligence tend to have more children, humans evolve to be, well, pretty dumb.

Suddenly, Joe is the smartest man on earth.

After a few mishaps, Joe is on the run from the government, but is also the only man alive smart enough to help the downward spiraling future.  Crops are dying, since they’ve only been fed Brawndo (it’s got electrolytes!), the world has become a messy Costco, and the doctors and lawyers? You’ll see. Also, Terry Crews plays the president.

This is a guilty pleasure flick that boarders on the offensive, and in doing so, paints a very real picture of the scary future.  I thought The Purge: Election Year was a pretty solid warning…. but this might be even more accurate. Along with the preview below, I post this opening scene…. enjoy.

Great if you liked: Futurama, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Galaxy Quest, Space Balls, Office Space

Goon

April 20th is #CanFilmDay (a bit late on the uptake here). So to celebrate, many a cinephile threw on a Canadian flick.
The lesser known hockey comedy, Goon, was my Canadian film of choice.

Based on the real life minor hockey player, Doug Smith, Goon tells the heart warming story of Doug Glatt, a bouncer turned enforcer with a heart of gold who goes on to have a career as a goon in minor hockey.

After thinking there weren’t enough “hockey comedies,” Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg (you’ll know him from penning Seth Rogen flicks like Superbad and Pineapple Express) took to adapting Smith’s autobiography for the big screen.

Sean William Scott plays the sweeter than sugar, Glatt, paired up against his hero/ rival, Ross Rhea played by Liev Schreiber. Marc- Andre Grondin is in the part he was meant to play, a drugged out parody of Kris Letang. And, of course, Kim Coates as my mentor, Coach.

When you combine an unlikely hockey hero story with the comedy styling of this cast and crew, you’re left with a hilarious version of every pickup game you’ve ever played, and every bar you’ve ever been to with hockey players (not NHL players… something about the NHL takes away comedic hotheadedness and replaces it with cockiness).

On top of that, there is more than a light dusting of hilarious Canadian humour like references to Donair sauce and phrases like “yeerrr feckin alright, eh.”

Goon is absolutely hilarious no matter who you are, but especially if you are from the great white north or have ever been near a hockey team. (The “divorced guys” locker room pep talk is a staple in many a locker room I’ve seen).  Check this one out if you’re looking for a laugh.

Great if you liked:  Slapshot, The Mighty Ducks, Youngblood, American Pie, The Love Guru, Happy Gilmore, Wayne’s World, Superbad, Knocked Up, Pineapple Express, Funny People, The Green Hornet, 50/50, The Watch, This is the End, Neighbors, The Interview and The Night Before

The World’s End

Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright never fail to make movie magic, and The Worlds End is no exception.

You might recognize this dream team from Shaun of the Dead or Hot Fuzz (both of which will for sure pop up on here eventually).

Before he was stealing our hearts as Benji in the MI franchise or as Scotty aboard the Enterprise, Pegg was making comedy magic with a weird horror vibe with this dream team.

The World’s end is a beautiful story about five friends who fell out of touch after some real life turmoil.  Gary King (Pegg) wants to get the group together to take another attempt at their legendary pub crawl in the guys’ hometown.  After lots of begging, they agree, and set upon their mission to have a pint at The First Post, then on to The Old Familiar, The Famous Cock, The Cross Hands, The Good Companions, The Trusty Servant, The Two-Headed Dog, The Mermaid, The Beehive, The King’s Head, and The Hole in the Wall for a measure of the same, all before the last bittersweet pint in that most fateful terminus, The World’s End.

Along the way, they notice that their town has changed in a way they can’t quite put their finger on.  People seem ageless, strange, and… robotic.  The gang tries to solve the mystery, and survive it, but King never allows them to lose focus of making it to that last fateful pub.  Wright’s style really shines here in the doomsday at a pub niche he has created.  (His pint pouring quick cuts are a thing of beauty).

A hilarious romp about drunken friends that is more gifable than anything you’ve ever seen, non stop laughs, and a strange end of the world sub plot you don’t plan for, but on top of that, a really heart warming story about growing up, the troubles with our pasts, addictions, loss, and friendship.

I love this flick more than words, and could listen to Pegg fumble his way through the names of pubs non stop. And if you’re wondering, yes, he falls trying to climb a fence.

Great if you liked: Hot Fuzz, Shaun of the Dead, This is the End, Zombieland

In Bruges

 

As I sat watching the first two awards announced at the Oscars, fighting with my cable box for its inability to play “Room,” I realized all I needed for real Sunday entertainment was my DVD collection, and In Bruges.

A go-to for a lot of film fans trying to help out a bored friend, this British flick is at the top of British (…Irish) Drama game.

Colin Farrell stars as Ray, a hitman, who along with his “co-worker,” Ken (Brendan Gleeson) has been sent to Bruges, Belgium to await orders from their boss, Harry.

The plot unfolds in such an artful way that I don’t want to delve into it any more here.

Martin McDonagh, (the brilliant genius behind Seven Psychopaths), does what he does best here.  He creates a simple story about a lost hit man and coats it with a thick layer of allegory, meta-plot, blatant hints you don’t see, and a perfect peppering of humour.

Farrell, (who is, IMO, one of the top 3 most underrated actors of our time) really shines here as Ray.  He even won the Golden Globe for Best Actor for it…. (Sorry, Oscars and DDL, this was Colin’s year).

By treating “crime” the way it does, it really takes you into the life of these hitmen and out of your every day.  It’s dark, it’s sad, it’s funny, and it’s exciting, a difficult combo on which McDonagh doesn’t disappoint.

Great if you liked: Seven Psychopaths, Snatch, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Layer Cake, Lucky Number Slevin, Rock N Rolla