Death at a Funeral (2007)

This is as near perfect as you can get for a quirky British comedy.  It is all the right ingredients, a very believable setup, ordinary characters in an extraordinary situation, wit, and sarcasm.

Dean Craig who wrote this wonderful little hit, proves if he sets his mind to it he can produce comedic gold.  However when he lets slip, what we end up, is something completely at the other end of the scale, with A Few Best Men.  /shudders/

So the setup here is wonderfully simple. We have a funeral, of a beloved father, at the family home.  It gets kicked off on the wrong foot when the under takers bring the wrong body.   Once that gets resolved, we follow the stories of a number of interwoven characters and their problems.

Alan Tudyk plays the husband-to-be to the daughter, who accidentally takes a cocktail of acid thinking it was Valium to calm his nerves as he prepares to meet his father-in-law to be.   His acting for this role alone should have won him a series of awards.  It is absolutely brilliant.

Then we have

Peter Dinklage popping up, as the secret gay lover of the deceased.  He is attempting to extort a little money or some photos get shown to the widow.   So the males of the family attempt to quell this up rising, with much comedic results. 

This movie never fails to raise a smile and always puts me in a good mood.  This one falls under the watch-at-least-once-a-year bucket.   

Though .. why Martin Lawrence felt he had to remake a year later it with an all-black cast for the American audience I have no idea.  A lot got lost in translation with the remake. 

#98 in the series


Viewing Date
Tuesday, 24th November 2015 (Richmond)


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Ted 2 (2015)

I was nearly a fan of the first outing with the talking bear, that we know and love as Ted.  The premise was a nice gimmick on the genre usually reserved for the likes of Disney, bringing life and character to an animal.  But by stepping away from the family audience and going straight to the adult world, you open up to a lot more crude humour.

Ted 2 continues where we left off, with Ted now happily married and looking to have a baby.  However, he has to be officially and legally recognized as a person before he can progress any further.   Setting aside the whole bestiality sub plot with Ted and

Jessica Barth the story see’s them on a journey of what is basically a series of sketches.

These sketches afford you the luxury to be able to dip in and out of the movie without actually feeling you have missed anything.  I will confess to falling asleep for a little bit half way through this and never felt I had to rewind.

The story is fine enough, the only real criticism is that it is probably 30 minutes too long.  It gets to a point, where you just want it to finish.  Jokes are wearing thin and feel tired by the time 2 hrs is about to role up.   To keep a comedy fresh and engaged for that length of time requires a lot of effort.

Now that said,

Seth MacFarlane, is well known geek/nerd and his back references to things like Flash Gordon etc are clever and a nice nod.  He kicks it up a notch, when there is a whole sequence set around Comic Con in New York.  Keep an eye out in the background for the subtle cross overs and nods as they come quick and galore as Ted interacts with it all.  Clever.

Good enough comedy for a Sunday afternoon.

#96 in the series


Viewing Date
Sunday, 22nd November 2015 (Richmond)


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Sam Whiskey (1969)

This another one of those movies that only hit your radar if you find yourself couch bound, ill and you are at the mercy of the day time TV programming.  This is exactly how this little comedy western hit my radar when I was much younger.   Burt Reynolds plays a very ‘Maverick’ like character who is hired by a beautiful widow to retrieve sunken gold bars from the bottom of a lake.

The beautiful widow is played by

Angie Dickinson who is in a very suggestive sexual role.  There is a couple of scenes she is trying to persuade Reynolds to take on the job, by seducing him with continuing amounts of sex.  Considering this was made in 1969 they pushed the boundaries of decency of what was allowed for the time, and you still have to do a double take to see if indeed you seen a Dickinson nipple or not!   for the record, you don’t!

The comedy in this movie is very genteel and gives us a hint of what Reynolds was going to be like nearly 10 years later when he started off his Smokey genre of movies.   You sometimes forgot how old an actor he is.

The movie has a great upbeat score that weaves throughout each scene.  No setup drags too long and is very pacy and enjoyable.

Solid outing for everyone. 

#91 in the series


Viewing Date
Tuesday, 17th November 2015 (Richmond)


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Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

This period of cinema was a golden age for a young boy growing up who was fascinated with cars and the first ever social network, the good old CB radio.   How many of you like me, pretended to be the Bandit or the Rubber Duck when out on their bikes?   I even had a CB radio in my bedroom and would talk to the truckers doing the Ireland-Europe route as they drove past the 5 mile radio my biscuit tin setup would reach.  Happy days.

Burt Reynolds defines the genre wonderfully with his first outing as the Bandit, in this classic cops’n’robbers chase across state lines.   The premise for the story is so woefully thin, that it quickly falls apart with any close inspection.   We have 2 wealthy business men, who for a bet, want to bring a truck load of Coors beer from a state where it is illegal to run it across.   So Reynolds, the Bandit, takes up the challenge with his truck driving friend, Cledus (Jerry Reed) to go and fetch the beer and bring it back.

The idea being that the Bandit will be the lead car, in a black trans-am, to give the truck a clear run to the prize.

Along the way though, they pick up a runaway bride, in the guise of a very beautiful and young 

Sally Field.  Reynolds has recently spoke about his regret of letting Field slip through his fingers and it was the one true love in his life that he lost.

There is no doubt about it, their on screen chemistry is perfect as they fall in love with each other and you can easily see how this was translated to the real world.

The real star of the movie is

Jackie Gleason who plays the Texas sheriff that chases the bandit across the state lines.  Field’s, Frog, turns out to be his would-be daughter-in-law had she gone through with the marriage to his dimwitted son, who is also along for the ride.

I really don’t want to pick apart the story line, because that is like pulling back the curtain and realizing Santa isn’t real and there is no tooth-fairy.   Some things should just be accepted on face value and be played along with.

Smokey and the Bandit is a perfect father-son movie for a wet weekend afternoon.   No fancy special effects, no obscenities just car stunts and witty one liners.   The followup movie, was actually a little better in my view, but I’ll do that one at a later date.

Good senseless fun.

#89 in the series


Viewing Date
Sunday, 15th November 2015 (Richmond)


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About Time (2013)

Richard Curtis strikes gold once again with his time traveling romantic comedy.  In the same vein as Love Actually / Noting Hill / Four Weddings, About Time stands shoulder to shoulder with Curtis’s other outings.  This one however does not star Hugh Grant, though, the lead,

Domhnall Gleeson (son of Brendan) does his best Hugh Grant impression throughout, so his spirit is still there.

The time traveling aspect isn’t ironically the central theme, but instead a mechanism to let us explore some of life’s major decisions, wondering what would have happened if you made a different choice.

Tim (Gleeson) when he is 21, is told of a special gift the men of his family have from his father played by the excellent

Bill Nighy.  This gift is the ability to travel back to any point of time for a short period within their own time line.  Anything they change there will have an impact on the current timeline.

Let us be clear, the time travel rules here are not really thought out and frequently if you were to look closely they are broken.  But the point is, this is not a BackToTheFuture or DoctorWho.  The time travel device is there to help with the story.

This humor in this story is just perfect.  The supporting cast is top notch, and as always have equally as good of lines to add to the overall narrative.  However this Curtis movie differs from the other ones in the heart jerking story line.   I challenge anyone to watch this movie without shedding at least one tear.   Sure Four Weddings and a Funeral had a death (hence the funeral part) but it was sad, not tearful.

I have watched it many times and every time it gets me.   It is a movie that reminds you to be thankful for those around while you still have them, and done in a non patronizing manner.  This is a pure father and son story weaved around a typical family, with their every day problems presented in a very believable manner.

About Time is in my usual rotation and comes out every so often when the time calls for it.  A true classic that I missed in the cinema, but have made up for it since.

#87 in the series


Viewing Date
Friday, 13th November 2015 (Richmond)


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In the Loop (2009)

How do you describe Malcolm Tucker to the world?  How do you describe a fowl mouth, intimidating, shouty Scottish government spin doctor in a way that properly articulates the side splitting humor?    In the Loop, is a movie derived from the very popular BBC TV series, The Thick of It, from 

Armando Iannucci (he who is behind the HBO series VEEP).

Peter Capaldi (yes, Doctor Who) is Malcolm Tucker, who finds himself attempting to stave off an International joint war invasion when one of his British ministers slips up on a radio interview proclaiming war is inevitable.  The Americans latch on to this, as they are looking for British support to go into the war with them and through wonderful manipulation takes this minister’s reluctance to back peddle (because he’s enjoying the attention) as validation they are moving forward together.

Tom Hollander plays the hapless minister who is at the center of all of this, with 

James Gandolfini and

Mimi Kennedy working the American angle.  

Be warned, the dialogue of this movie is outstandingly funny, with ‘fuck’ mentioned 135 times, of those, Tucker uses 86.  You would think this would wear thin after a while, but trust me, it really doesn’t.  It just gets funnier.

Simon Foster: Come on, Malcolm, he asked me for a personal opinion.
Malcolm Tucker: Why didn’t you say? He asked you. Fuck, of course, that explains it. If he’d asked you to fucking black up, or to give him your PIN number or to shit yourself, would you have done that?
Simon Foster: I would have blacked up, yes. It was radio, nobody would’ve known.

You may even find yourself uttering the odd Malcolm Tucker’ism in your daily work environment. I urge you to keep this as inner dialogue, however apt it may seem at the time.  If you need a giggle/reminder, then watch the definitive Tucker

If you find this movie entertaining, then check out the original BBC TV series, it won’t disappoint.

#86 in the series


Viewing Date
Thursday, 12th November 2015 (Richmond)


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