Comedy Review Roundup

Let’s have a laugh (or, perhaps, not) with…

  • Police Academy (1984)
  • Black Dynamite (2009)
  • Four Lions (2010)
  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)


    Police Academy
    (1984)

    2017 #27
    Hugh Wilson | 92 mins | streaming (HD) | 16:9 | USA / English | 15 / R

    Police Academy

    I watched some of the Police Academy movies when I was younger — yes, plural — but I never saw the first one. It never seemed to be on TV (though the second always was), and the fact it’s rated 15 (weren’t all the later ones, like, PG?) would surely mean my parents would never have let me rent it (I’m pretty sure I never saw any of the series after I hit double-digits age-wise). So there was an element of box ticking in finally seeing the original — a film that Roger Ebert gave zero stars.

    It doesn’t start well: the opening credits incompetently cover up the onscreen action. That’s not for the sake of a joke, like in, say, Austin Powers 2 — it’s not overt or thorough like a joke — it’s just poorly done. From there… it might be generous to say that things pick up, but they’re not so bad. In fact, I passingly enjoyed it. It’s not aged particularly well, but there are some funny bits. Remember the sound effects guy? I used to love him when I was a kid. There’s surprisingly little of him here, though. I guess he got amped up for the sequels.

    Police Academy isn’t some masterpiece that’s been buried under the weight of its increasingly shite sequels, but it isn’t that bad as an hour-and-a-half of mindless comedy.

    3 out of 5

    Black Dynamite
    (2009)

    2017 #47
    Scott Sanders | 81 mins | streaming (HD) | 16:9 | USA / English | 15 / R

    Black Dynamite

    A spoof of cheap blaxploitation movies, Black Dynamite hits every nail on the head. I’ve not actually seen many films from the genre (the original Shaft may be the extent of it, unless Live and Let Die counts), but you only need a passing awareness of the ludicrousies of low-budget ’70s genre cinema (the third act sidesteps into a spoof of kung fu movies) to get the overall joke. Plus there are plenty of generally funny riffs and sequences for the layperson to laugh at, the highlight being a deduction scene that makes no sense whatsoever. At a brisk 80 minutes, it’s hard to go wrong.

    4 out of 5

    Four Lions
    (2010)

    2017 #65
    Chris Morris | 97 mins | streaming (HD) | 1.85:1 | UK & France / English, Urdu & Arabic | 15 / R

    Four Lions

    A comedy about Muslim suicide bombers? You don’t need me to tell you all the different minefields that idea is tiptoeing into. But it’s by the guy behind Brass Eye, so it less tiptoes more bounds, and barely puts a foot wrong either.

    The most important point, of course, is that it is very, very funny. There’s a stream of good one-liners and exchanges. But it also winds up making you feel for some of these guys, which, considering their goal, is a feat unto itself. At the same time, the attempted emotional pull in the third act doesn’t quite come off — asking us to care for “the stupid one”, who’s merely been the butt of jokes until that point, comes a little out of left-field. I mean, if we’re suddenly meant to be concerned about his (mis)treatment, why have you been making us laugh at him all along?

    Anyway, if you just ignore that unwarranted about-turn, Four Lions is absolutely hilarious.

    4 out of 5

    Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
    (1986)

    2017 #50
    John Hughes | 103 mins | streaming (HD) | 2.35:1 | USA / English | 15* / PG-13

    Ferris Bueller's Day Off

    Is this or The Breakfast Club the archetypal John Hughes movie? Argue amongst yourselves — I’ve never seen The Breakfast Club. I hadn’t seen Ferris Bueller until this year either (I mean, obviously — it wouldn’t be here otherwise), though I’m not sure why. Despite it being quite well-known and referenced, it just didn’t seem to come up that often. (Incidentally, are references to it on the increase? Both Deadpool and Spider-Man: Homecoming had significant riffs on it within the past couple of years.)

    Anyway, for those as in the dark as I was, it’s the story of cool kid Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) who has an elaborate plan to bunk off school for the day, which involves persuading his best mate Cameron (Alan Ruck) to ‘borrow’ his dad’s Ferrari and head off into Chicago with Ferris’ girlfriend (Mia Sara). Meanwhile, the school’s suspicious principal (Jeffrey Jones) tries to catch Ferris out.

    Going back to what I was saying a moment ago, part of why I didn’t watch it before was that I felt like I’d find it annoying. Turns out, not so much. Ferris is indeed a bit of a dick, but I’m not sure the film doesn’t know he is. Because he talks to camera and makes the viewer his confidante, the assumption might be we’re meant to admire him, but there’s an almost “unreliable narrator” aspect to him. Or maybe I’m projecting that because I didn’t like him but did enjoy his antics, who knows.

    5 out of 5

    * The film was reclassified as 12A for a 2013 theatrical re-release, but I watched it at home, where it’s still technically a 15. Ah, the oddities of the BBFC. ^

  • The Ghostly Monthly Update for March 2017

    If there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, who ya gonna call?

    How about Scarlett Johansson in a skintight bodysuit? I’m sure plenty of people wouldn’t need something strange going on to want to make that call…


    #30 Logan (2017)
    #31 Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993)
    #32 Demolition (2015)
    #32a Deadpool: No Good Deed (2017)
    #33 Long Way North (2015), aka Tout en haut du monde
    #34 Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)
    #34a Hotel Chevalier (2007)
    #35 The Darjeeling Limited (2007)
    #36 Money Monster (2016)
    #37 Room (2015)
    #38 Warcraft (2016), aka Warcraft: The Beginning
    #39 Kong: Skull Island (2017)
    #40 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016)
    #41 Ghostbusters (2016), aka Ghostbusters: Answer the Call
    #42 Babe: Pig in the City (1998)
    #43 The Monster Squad (1987)
    #44 Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (2004), aka Kôkaku Kidôtai Inosensu
    #45 Big Game (2014)
    #46 Young Frankenstein (1974)
    #47 Black Dynamite (2009)
    #48 Ghost in the Shell (2017)
    #49 Jackie Brown (1997)
    Long Way North

    Kong: Skull Island

    Black Dynamite

    .


    • I watched 20 new films this March, making it my largest month for nearly a year, since last April’s 21.
    • It’s far head of the March average (previously 12.3, now 13.1) and also passes the average of the last 12 months (previously 15, now 14.75).
    • In terms of my yearly goal, it’s behind where I was last year (two-thirds there at #67) but ahead of every other year (including 2015 — aka The Year of 200 Films — when March ended at #44).
    • This month’s Blindspot film: plugging one of the few gaps in my Tarantino viewing with Jackie Brown.
    • This month’s WDYMYHS film: Room. Normally I’d offer a brief comment, but I already reviewed it in full here.
    • I watched three films starring Samuel L. Jackson this month. Even for a fella as prolific as he is, that’s still quite a number.



    The 22nd Monthly Arbitrary Awards

    Favourite Film of the Month
    A tough contest this month between a couple of films I enjoyed an awful lot, but however much I was entertained by a giant ape beating up other giant monsters, the beautiful artistry of Long Way North just edges it today.

    Least Favourite Film of the Month
    Not such a tricky choice here: easily the worst film I watched this month was the disappointing mess that was Warcraft.

    Best Dialogue of the Month
    You’d think any month with a Quentin Tarantino film in it would have this award sewn up, but not when in the presence of the genius that is Black Dynamite. I’d throw in a quote, but half of the magic is in the delivery.

    Most Gratuitous Arse of the Month
    Plenty of derrières on display this month, between Natalie Portman’s much-discussed bare behind in Hotel Chevalier, Scarlett Johansson’s extremely figure-hugging costumes in Ghost in the Shell, Bridget Fonda’s post-coital stroll in Jackie Brown, and Kong stomping around the place with nary a stitch on as well. But the fact someone bothered to draw the intimation of an arsehole on the dog in Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence takes the biscuit.

    The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
    Following a tip from Caz at Let’s Go to the Movies, I’ve been adding my reviews to IMDb of late. That paid dividends this month, with an extraordinary (for me) number of hits flowing towards Logan.



    This blog’s 10th birthday celebrations continued (and concluded) this month by counting down my 100 favourite movies I’ve seen for the first time in the past ten years. If you missed it, you can read all about it here:


    Things are beginning to look up for my Rewatchathon, as I actually rewatched more than one film this month…

    #3 Gattaca (1997)
    #4 The Nice Guys (2016)
    #5 Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (1995)
    #6 Ghost in the Shell (1995)
    #7 Hook (1991)

    I think I was too young to properly appreciate Gattaca when I first saw it. Now, I think it’s a five-star sci-fi drama/thriller, and it would’ve contended for a place on my 100 Favourites if I’d got this rewatch in a couple of years ago.

    Truth be told, I only watched the first 15 minutes of Power Rangers (then my NOW TV subscription ended and it cut me off), so I probably shouldn’t count it… but I would’ve found another way to finish it if those 15 minutes hadn’t been utterly terrible, so I say it still counts because I’d clearly seen enough.

    This was the first time I’d watched Hook since childhood and, a few moments and images aside, I barely remembered it at all. It has things going for it (the sets are incredible and many of the special effects are fantastic), but it’s definitely the worst Spielberg movie I’ve seen (1941 still awaits…)


    A big year for the MCU kicks off: I’ll be reviewing Iron Fist, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 comes to the big screen (over here, at least).