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 General Unselfish Love for Everyone Monthly Update for April 2017

    Chai-ai-ain, keep us together…

    Any excuse to get some Fleetwood Mac on loop.


    #50 Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
    #51 The BFG (2016)
    #52 War on Everyone (2016)
    #53 Dazed and Confused (1993)
    #54 Now You See Me 2 (2016)
    #55 Nocturnal Animals (2016)
    #56 The Legend of Tarzan (2016)
    #57 The Magnificent Seven (2016)
    #58 Sully (2016), aka Sully: Miracle on the Hudson
    #59 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
    #60 The 39 Steps (1935)
    #61 Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
    #62 Split (2016)
    Ferris Bueller's Day Off

    Nocturnal Animals

    .


    • I watched 13 new films this April, making it the lowest month of 2017 so far (but only by one).
    • It falls short of the average for the last 12 months (previously 14.75, now 14.08), and of 2017’s average to date (previously 16.3, now 15.5), but it does drag the April average up from 9.67 to precisely 10. (That leaves just June, July, and November as months with averages below 10.)
    • This month’s Blindspot film: one of Hitchcock’s definitive early works, solving the mystery of The 39 Steps.
    • This month’s WDYMYHS film: underwhelming Oscar-winning rom-com Silver Linings Playbook.



    The 23rd Monthly Arbitrary Awards

    Favourite Film of the Month
    A lot of films vie for my affection this month. I was charmed by a friendly giant, found Tom Ford’s latest to be pleasantly provocative, enjoyed some magnificent gunslinging, was thrilled by classic Hitchcock, and chilled by Shyamalan’s return to form. But, to slightly modify this award to “most surprisingly among my favourite films of the month”, one film caught me unawares more than any other: I confess that I half expected to hate Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, what with its lead character seeming like a dick ‘n’ all, but the skill of writer-director John Hughes is not to be underestimated.

    Least Favourite Film of the Month
    Richard Linklater set out to make an anti John Hughes movies with Dazed and Confused, and I guess he succeeded based on this neat little favourite/least favourite mirroring we’ve got here.

    Best Pilot in the Galaxy
    Star-Lord and Rocket can bicker about it all they want, but neither can hold a candle to Chesley ‘Sully’ Sullenberger.

    End Credits Scene I’m Most Annoyed I Had Spoiled
    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 may have five (five) scenes during its credits, but they’re all a bit something-and-nothing (I can’t even remember what was in them all now, and I only saw it three days ago). But that scene at the end of Split (it comes after the second title card, so I think we can argue it’s in the end credits)… damn, I wish that hadn’t been widely reported all over the shop and I’d instead been able to discover it in situ. That said, it’s so well constructed that it gave me a tingle of long-awaited excitement nonetheless.

    The Audience Award for Most-Viewed New Post of the Month
    Since I’ve started posting my content on IMDb my TV reviews have really taken off in the hits. It’s the latest one of these, The Past Month on TV #16 (in which I shared my thoughts on the likes of Doctor Who, Iron Fist, The Crown, and Twin Peaks), that takes this month’s gong. (My most-viewed new film review was Don’t Breathe.)



    Back to just one rewatch this month, which I reviewed at the time:

    #8 Guardians of the Galaxy 3D (2014)

    This is not going to plan.


    We’ll see if the new Pirates of the Caribbean film, Dead Men Tell No Tales Salazar’s Revenge, is the return to form that they’re claiming. And La La Land makes it to Blu-ray over here, so I’ll finally see it.