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You like to laugh? Good. You're in the right place. Here are some reviews from films that have tickled Cablo Gula's funny bones (or not).
What's new?: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex*, Stripes, Goldmember, Dracula: Dead and Loving It, Bruce Almighty reviews

Sons of the Desert (1933)


With: Stanley Laurel, Oliver Hardy


Sons of the Desert is one of the best and funniest Laurel and Hardy films. The story is fairly simple and was inspired by one of their own short films. Laurel and Hardy are part of a club: the Sons of the Desert, and they take an unbreakable oath to be present for the annual convention in Chicago. But the problem is: they have to ask their wives for permission. Hardy obviously claims to be the “pants-wearer” of the house and it soon becomes pretty obvious that he isn’t, Laurel neither for that matter. The wives inevitably refuse and the two buffoons decide to lie to them in order to go to the convention: Hardy pretends to be sick and he and his pal tell their wives they’re going to Honolulu in order to get some rest and fresh air. So, Laurel and Hardy are off to the convention, without the consent of the ladies…but will they get away with it? Do they ever? Nah. The Kings of Slapstick are on top form in this film and the gags are numerous and classic. We get Laurel unwittingly eating wax apples, Hardy getting attacked by his wife with about a billion plates, him and Laurel winding up on the roof under the rain…to name a few famous scenes. The writing is surprisingly good (‘Those aren’t real apples!! They’re imitation! They’re made of wax!’) and the gags are sometimes more subtle than usual. I do have a preference for their other film Way Out West, maybe because it has a more original story and setting not to mention some brilliant and classic scenes. Having said that, Sons of the Desert is terrific fun and a real treat for Laurel and Hardy fans like myself. Slapstick has never been done better and the best comedy duo ever prove, once again, their genius. A classic.


Overall: ****1/2 /5


Modern Times (1936)


With: Charlie Chaplin, Paulette Goddard


The last big-screen outing of the Little Tramp, and also arguably the best. The Tramp is a worker, he does repetitive work that should be done by machines. Work is tough no only is it monotonous but it requires a great deal of mental stability and physical power, both things the Tramp lacks. Work conditions are bad as well, there are 5 seconds breaks, everyone is unpleasant because they’re stressed out and Charlie is even used as a guinea pig to test an experiment. The latter is a “feeding machine”, created to make sure the workers’ production increases. Charlie tries it out, at first it’s ok but when the machine starts to go nuts, poor Charlie is left stuck in a machine that keeps throwing food at him, hitting him and making him swallow bits of metal. This is definitely one of the funniest scenes ever filmed and is still hilarious after all these years. The Tramp, after suffering from a nervous breakdown, gets fired and is later mistaken for a Communist leader. He is sent to jail where he manages to stop an escape attempt by some convicts. He becomes a hero and is given his freedom. Meanwhile, a poor young girl is seen stealing some bananas to feed her family. Her father is unemployed and when she brings home the “food” she acquired, everyone rejoices. Unfortunately, her father later dies and her younger sisters are taken away, she manages to escape but is then caught for stealing a loaf of bread. This is when she runs into Charlie who tries to help her by claiming to be the stealer. But this doesn’t work so he gets purposely arrested so he can see her again. Unexpectedly, the police car crashes and they escape. As you can see, this is a story that’s both very funny and sad as well. As in most Charlie Chaplin films, sure there are laughs, lots of them, but there’s also a political message, a satiric look at these so-called “modern times” where unemployment has become a plague and the workers are treated like machines. There are some truly priceless classic scenes here: the feeding machine, the scene where Charlie puts some salt in his prison food unaware that someone had put drugs in the shaker and of course the brilliant “nonsense” song at the end. Those are just a few examples of the comedy gold present in this perfect film. Modern Times is undoubtedly a masterpiece and one of the best films ever made, Chaplin is at his very best and his co-star is both sweet and full of energy. A flawless satiric comedy masterpiece courtesy of the real genius known as Charlie Chaplin.


Overall: *****/5


The Apartment (1960)


With: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine


When a director makes a really great film, it’s rare that his follow-up is as good. Billy Wilder is a perfect example of quite the opposite. After bringing us Some Like it Hot in 1959, one of the best comedies ever, he made dark rom-com The Apartment, his tour-de-force only a year later. The story is set in New York. Jack Lemmon is C.C. Baxter, a man who lends his apartment to colleagues higher up the ‘food-chain’ so they can engage in private parties and, hem, extra-marital activities. In return, they tell good things about him to the main boss and Baxter eventually gets promoted. But this life is a complicated, highly stressful and unhealthy one: poor Baxter finds himself acting as a slave for all those many shady businessmen and is rarely allowed into his own apartment. It all gets even more complicated when he falls in love with the incredibly cute elevator operator Fran. This Oscar-winning film works on so many different levels. As a romantic comedy it’s touching and very funny but there is undeniably a darker side to this film. It’s also a satire on all those heartless New York businessmen who are all horrible people in the film. But it’s mostly a film about loneliness in this vast city, and this is when the film works best. It shows how people cope with their loneliness: some cheat on their wives, some focus solely on their work, some get involved in doomed relationships. Baxter and Fran are obviously meant for each other but the intricate ‘apartment’ situation that surrounds them brings a great number of problems that keep them apart. Jack Lemmon not only displays his comic genius in many hilarious scenes but his performance brings much more than just laughs. As always, it’s clear that there is a lot of work behind his performance and he’s created a character that’s full of wit and charm but deeply lonely and full of hurt. Shirley MacLaine is equally brilliant and the rest of the cast is flawless. As for the directing and the writing, what can I say? The film looks great and the dialogs are sharp and witty. It’s definitely one of my personal favourite films of all time. A masterpiece.


Overall: *****/5



Dr Strangelove or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1963)


With: Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, Slim Pickens


Stanley Kubrick’s classic black comedy Dr Strangelove is set during the Cold War, a time where there was enormous tension between the US and the Soviet Union. When a loopy fanatic American Air Force Commander, general Jack D. Ripper (cool name, huh?) orders a nuclear attack on Russia without the consent of anyone, not even the President (played by Peter Sellers), that things go pear-shaped. Not only is Ripper the only man who carries the code that could stop the attack but also, we learn that the Russians are protected by a Doomsday device, created by a sinister mad scientist called Dr Strangelove (Peter Sellers again), which is programmed to counter-attack and destroy everything. It’s up to a British Captain Mandrake (Sellers yet again), who is locked in with the psychotic general, to try and get the code. The well meaning but slightly useless President meanwhile tries to gather up the politicians involved to try and stop the whole attack. As the planes get closer to Russia, the tension mounts and the more hopeless the situation seems to become. Not only is Dr Strangelove a powerful satire on military, political mentality and Cold War paranoia but it is also a very funny black comedy and a brilliantly acted, directed, written film altogether. Peter Sellers famously plays 3 roles (to perfection) and shows that there is much more than Inspector Clouseau in him and that he was indeed a comic genius and an excellent actor. Kubrick’s images are, as usual, powerful and unforgettable. He was well known for being a control freak and forcing his actors to do endless takes until it was perfect. One thing we can say about this technique is that it really does work! All the performances in the film are impressive. A real classic and one of Kubrick’s best.


Overall: *****/5


A Shot in the Dark (1969)


With: Peter Sellers, Elke Sommer, George Sanders, Herbert Lom, Burt Kwouk


The Pink Panther was a fine comedy which introduced us to Peter Sellers’ finest creation: the bumbling French Inspector Clouseau. The problem with this film, however, was that David Niven, who played the jewel thief, was the center of attention and therefore Clouseau was sidelined. Many of the laughs were consequently lost. In A Shot in the Dark, the second film of the Pink Panther series, Blake Edwards wisely gives Clouseau center stage and what we get, in consequence, is a superior film with more laughs and numerous classic moments. The brilliant first scene (beautifully shot in one take) takes place in millionaire Mr Ballon’s vast residence: it’s night and all the servants and inhabitants of the house are moving around quietly, sneaking around in order to have affairs. It’s purposely all very confusing and it’s easy to lose track of what is going on. Then, the lights go out, a shot is fired and Mr Ballon’s driver Miguel is murdered. The pretentious and accident-prone Inspector Clouseau is called up to crack the case (not bring cracks to the case, you understand). All the evidence points to the sweet and beautiful maid Maria Gambrelli (Sommer) but Clouseau (who obviously falls instantly in love when he sees her) refuses to believe that she could be the killer and is determined to prove that she is being framed by someone else, the real murderer. As the days go by and Clouseau tries to prove her innocence, other murders occur, and Maria is always at the scene of the crime. It seems that Clouseau’s feelings for her are blinding him from the obvious truth. But then again, nothing is obvious in this confusing case. “I suspect everyone, and I suspect no one” says a smug Clouseau. Meanwhile, all of Clouseau’s buffoneries are driving his Chief Inspector Dreyfuss completely bananas and we witness the latter’s sanity hilariously fade away progressively. There are many classic moments, notably the scene where Clouseau unwittingly finds himself in a nudist camp and when his servant Kato attacks him when he least expects it as a sort of masochistic training. Sellers is at his best and his slapstick comedy genius is simply priceless. Herbert Lom is also brilliant as the psychotic Dreyfuss. Overall, A Shot in the Dark is definitely the best of the Pink Panther film and is always a joy to watch again and again. A classic comedy masterpiece with a terrific score from composer Henry Mancini.


Overall: *****/5


Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* But Were Afraid to Ask (1972)


With: Woody Allen, Gene Wilder, John Carradine, Lou Jacobi, Louise Lasser, Anthony Quayle, Tony Randall, Burt Reynolds



This comical collection of short vignettes written and directed by Woody Allen tackle the theme of sex. The first one sees an unfunny court jester (Allen) who goes to see a creepy wizard and receives an aphrodisiac from him which he plans to use for the Queen. Everything goes well, until it is revealed that a “chastity belt” is making the Queen’s below-the-belt area inaccessible (an idea stolen in Robin Hood: Men in Tights) unless you have the key, which is in the King’s possession, obviously. It’s a very good and funny start to the whole film. What follows isn’t bad either. Gene Wilder is a regular doctor, he has a stable (if monotoneous) marriage: his life is pretty much uneventful. Until one day, a Romanian peasant comes in his office and tells him his unusual problem: he is in love with a sheep with whom he’s had a sexual relationship for a while but he fears the sheep doesn’t love him anymore. The doctor is obviously flabberghasted by this claim and isn’t quite sure what to do as he’s not even a veterinarian. When he meets the sheep in question though, an unexpected thing happens: he starts to fall in love with it and they start having an affair. Then, in the next vignettes, we have the story of a closet transvestite who gets into a tricky situation and is forced to reveal his secret to everyone, including his wife. Also, Woody Allen returns in an amusing little story (in Italian) about a man who can’t get his wife to have an orgasm. He soon realises she likes to “do it” in public so he tries to adapt to this dangerous desire. Another short vignette is basically a spoof TV game show called “What’s My Perversion?” in which contestants have to guess the perversion a certain person privately enjoys, such as exposing oneself in subways. The following vignette sees Woody Allen and an attractive reporter go to a mansion where a mad scientist is conducting disturbing experiences. When his laboratory explodes, a giant boob is created and starts to roam the forest, cruelly milking to death anyone who gets in its way. Finally, the most famous vignette “What Happens During Ejaculation?” explains just that in a surreal, futuristic way. Expect Woody Allen dressed up as a sperm, Burt Reynolds as a member of the Brain crew and lots of clever ideas and originality. Overall, as most of the vignettes in the film work very well, it’s a delight to watch. The vignettes with Allen are classics and the Gene Wilder one is brilliantly silly. It may be slightly uneven but it’s generally very clever and funny.


Overall: ****/5


Sleeper (1973)


With: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton


It seems the famously brilliant sperm bit at the end of Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* was probably what gave Woody Allen the idea to make science-fiction comedy Sleeper, which came out a year later. In the film, Allen plays Miles Monroe, an ordinary health food salesman who was cryogenically frozen by mistake and is awaken 200 years later by some scientist who need his help (because he has no identity) to find the rebels who will lead the revolution against The Leader. Poor Miles finds himself in a weird future where all women are frigid, where people have sex in a machine called the Orgasmatron, where giant bananas are grown and where robots are used as servants. Miles manages to escape the secret police and disguises himself as a robot so as not to be recognized. He becomes the servant in the home of untalented poet Luna (Keaton) and, when he is finally unmasked, he forces Luna to help him escape again and find the rebels. But Luna is a believer in the system and it proves a tough challenge for Miles to convince her to help. Sleeper is definitely one of Allen’s funniest films and, like Bananas, it showcases his physical and unique verbal comedy perfectly. This film is a sort of silent comedy with talking and colour. Allen clearly pays homage to the likes of Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. Visually, Sleeper is actually pretty impressive, sure almost everything is made of plastic but it manages to be convincing as a futuristic setting. Allen proves he has a lot of imagination and that he can bring his surreal ideas to life effortlessly. Diane Keaton is also terrific in the film and seems to be enjoying making a fool of herself a great deal. Sleeper has some truly classic moments: the scenes with Allen as a robot are great, not to mention the parts where he struggles to cope with the inventions he discovers. Overall, Sleeper is very funny, clever and great fun from start to finish. Highly recommended.


Overall: ****/5

Annie Hall (1977)

With: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton

Woody Allen certainly showed what he was made of with this film which won Oscars for Best Director and Best Picture, and rightly so. The film starts off as an auto-biopic by Woody Allen (here called Alvy Singer), a neurotic and vulnerable joke writer. He lives in Manhattan and recalls his childhood and introduces us to his work and his relationships. It’s when he tells us about Annie (Diane Keaton), his girlfriend, that the film becomes much more. Allen presents a comical look at the lives of 2 neurotic people obviously made for each other and their struggles with their love life. What’s interesting in this film is the fact that Woody Allen uses pretty much all the techniques, which are usually rarely used and avoided, to tell his story: talking directly to the camera, multiple split screens, joke subtitles and some great surreal moments. For example, when Alvy recalls his school years, we see an adult Alvy talking to his (young) ex-school friends in a classroom, he even, in another great scene, starts asking questions to random people in the street whose responses are very funny. Woody Allen is at his best and he even was Oscar nominated for his performance. His character is paranoid (he hears racial insults everywhere), vulnerable (scared of spiders, lobsters, Annie’s driving, to name a few) and he worries all the time. Annie is also vulnerable and neurotic but she’s more impulsive and less pessimistic. Annie Hall influenced most rom-coms that came out afterwards, including When Harry Met Sally and it’s a film that stays with you long after seeing it. Although Manhattan is widely regarded as being Woody Allen’s best film, Annie Hall is definitely a very very close second. A real masterpiece that’s clever, hilarious and moving. It made me a Woody Allen fan instantly.

Overall: *****/5

High Anxiety (1977)


With: Mel Brooks, Madeline Kahn, Cloris Leachman, Harvey Korman


Mel Brooks, the Master of spoof, takes on Alfred Hitchcock, the Master of suspense, in this hilarious parody. The Man Who Knew Too Much, Vertigo, Psycho and The Birds all get the Brooks treatment. Mel Brooks plays Dr Thorndyke, who suffers from high anxiety (vertigo basically) and has come to the Psychiatric Institute for the Very, Very Nervous as a replacement for the previous doctor who died mysteriously. The Psycho shower seen parody is particularly funny. Pretty soon, it becomes clear that the Institute’s assistant director Montague doesn’t like him and is planning something shady with a militaristic nurse. Even though High Anxiety is not quite as good as comic masterpiece Young Frankenstein it’s still a hilarious comedy with Brooks and the whole cast on top form. Even though Gene Wilder would have been the ideal choice for Dr Thorndyke, Brooks is still very funny and even wrote, composed and sung the title song in a (Que Sera Sera parody). High Anxiety contains everything you’d expect from a Mel Brooks comedy: childish silliness, spot-on observational gags, caricatures, funny accents and names, poo jokes, a song and a tank-full of Jewish humour. The film is dedicated to the Master so it’s all more of a hommage rather than a mean spoof and Brooks is obviously a fan of Hitch’s. Overall, even though High Anxiety is often sidelined and lives in the shadow of The Producers and Blazing Saddles it’s definitely one of Brooks’ best. I mean, where else do you get characters called Lillolmen (Little Old Man) or a mental institute director doing an impression of a werewolf in order to make a patient pass for insane?


Overall: ****/5 


The Jerk (1979)


With: Steve Martin, Bernadette Peters, Catlin Adams, Jackie Mason, M. Emmet Walsh


The Jerk is Steve Martin’s first real big screen hit. The film that turned Steve from stand-up king to big-screen funnyman. He plays Navin Johnson (a certified imbecile), the adopted son of a poor African-American family. His nutty invention the Opti-grab makes him filthy rich. We follow this ‘jerk’ as he works first in a gas station then in a circus as a weight-guesser where he meets a sweet and loony girl. What follows is the inevitable rise and fall of Navin Johnson, aka the Jerk. Steve Martin has never shown so much energy and his absurd, surreal, silly humour is hilarious from start to finish. It is directed by Carl Reiner (who makes a very funny cameo appearance) who used Steve Martin in a couple of films after The Jerk such as the film noir spoof Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid and All of Me. The Jerk is definitely one of Steve Martin’s funniest films for it contains a dog called Shithead, a murderous lunatic who shoots cans, a trumpet-playing-knife-throwing blonde, a sarcastic Jewish gas-station owner, a cat-juggling maniac and many more random buffooneries. Not only is the film very funny but it is also well made and inventive: the jokes and the story’s development are brilliantly random. The Jerk is a classic comedy and Steve Martin is at his very best. A must-see.


Overall: ****/5


Caddyshack (1980)


With: Michael O’Keefe, Chevy Chase, Rodney Dangerfield, Bill Murray


This classic comedy directed by Harold Ramis (Multiplicity, Groundhog Day) is set in  snobby golf club Bushwood in which the caddies are typical horny teenagers, the rich owners of the club are uptight jerks and naughty little furry gofers create mayhem on the course. Danny is a caddy whose parents can’t afford to send him to a good college. So he tries to suck up to Judge Smails, the club’s dorky owner, in order to get a scholarship. The arrival of a loud, eccentric joker with more one-liners than a Schwarzenegger film shakes things up a little at the club as he gets on Smails‘ nerves more and more. Actually, it all ends up in a contest where the both of them go head to head for a 40000 dollar bet. Chevy Chase is a sarcastic, confident and talented golf player who forms a friendship with Danny and teaches him a couple of tricks. Meanwhile,  groundskeeper Carl Spackler (Bill Murray’s funniest creation to date) is told to get rid of the gofers by any means necessary: he has licence to kill. But being the moronic loser he is, he gets a little carried away with the whole thing and messes up the golf course more than the gofers themselves could have ever hoped to achieve. The whole thing is obviously very silly and it feels more like a cartoon than anything else: consistently hilarious with laugh out loud classic moments, great characters and more gags than a Robin Williams stand-up marathon. It is the ultimate golf movie, Happy Gilmore is nothing compared to the insane genius that is Caddyshack. The whole cast is perfect: Ted Knight is brilliant as the snobby and goofy Smails, Chevy Chase is at he’s very best and Bill Murray is hilariously nuts. But it has to be said that it is Dangerfield who steals the show, the moment he arrives in the film he brings along with him an army of killer jokes and is the perfect contrast to the uptight rich snobs of Bushwood. Overall, Caddyshack is Harold Ramis’ funniest film by far and is definitely a classic. An irresistible comedy.  


Overall: *****/5


Neighbors (1981)


With: John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Cathy Moriarty, Katheryn Walker


After the success of The Blues Brothers, John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd teamed up again for this little dark comedy about a normal guy whose life gets turned upside down by his eccentric neighbours. Earl (Belushi) is bored in his life, his marriage is stagnant. He and his wife live in a rather hidden suburban area where only 2 houses stand next to each other. One night, the new neighbours move in, moments later, there’s a knock on the door. Earl opens and comes face to face with Ramona (Moriarty), the sexy femme-fatale from next door who immediately starts coming on to him and making herself at home. It doesn’t take long before the other neighbour Vic (a blonde Aykroyd) makes his random  appearance. They decide to all have dinner together and Vic offers to go buy some food. From then on, things just get crazier and crazier as it becomes clear very soon that those neighbours aren’t regular people. They are in fact lunatics who get a kick from annoying Earl for no good reason, they enjoy getting him entangled in embarrassing situations. In less than a day, a car is destroyed, 2 houses are burnt, Earl is shot at, kicked in the balls, locked in the basement, stolen from: you name it, they’ve done it to him. What’s so good about this film is its simplicity, its deliberate lack of story, the fact that it refuses to give any explanations on the neighbours’ behaviour whatsoever. The way in which the scenes follow each other is fast and effective: you start to feel a bit like Earl, not knowing what Vic and Ramona will do next, wondering how long will this madness go on for. John Belushi is great in a more controlled and against-type performance but it’s Aykroyd who steals the show as Vic, he’s simply hilarious and his manipulability is completely believable. It’s arguably his best performance. I must also say that Cathy Moriarty is excellent as Ramona: sexy, odd, mischievous, she’s great. Overall, Neighbors is not nearly as famous as it should be: sure the Blues Brothers was cool but it’s a shame that this film is doomed to live in its shadow. This dark comedy is not only very funny but also clever and original. Definitely worth seeing, 2 comic geniuses at their best.


Overall: ****/5


The Lonely Guy (1983)


With: Steve Martin, Charles Grodin, Judith Ivey


Comic genius Steve Martin is Larry Hubbard, a certified lonely guy (his unfaithful girlfriend kicked him out and he has nowhere to go) who writes greeting cards for a living. One day, he meets Warren, another pathetic lonely guy who instantly becomes his only friend and who teaches him the ropes of ‘lonely guy life’ in New York and how to deal with this loneliness. Warren is a nice guy and all but only seems to depress Larry even more instead of making him feel better. The desperate Larry tries everything to meet a girl including jogging and getting a dog. He eventually meets a nice girl called Iris (who has 6 ex-husbands), but things keep getting in the way of them getting together: he loses her number…twice, she goes out with an old obnoxious friend of his…Will Larry overcome his loneliness? This is one of Steve Martin’s first films and it’s a perfect display of absurd humour aas well as clever and witty observations. It is too bad this little film tends to be forgotten because it is very funny indeed and contains some brilliantly surreal moments. Steve Martin is surprisingly mature in his acting for one of his first films and Charles Grodin was born to play the part of Warren. Both actors work very well together and their absurd conversations on a park bench are brilliantly written and perfectly executed, actually, the whole film is sharply written. And even though the film constantly mocks lonely and depressed New Yorkers it’s also a movie which real life lonely guys can relate to. Therefore, The Lonely Guy is one of my favourite Steve Martin films and is an underrated, original and funny little gem that deserves to be better known. A must-have for Steve Martin fans and a must-see for lonely guys!  


Overall: ****/5

Top Secret! (1984)


With: Val Kilmer, Lucy Gutteridge, Omar Sharif


After having created one of the best comedies ever, Airplane!, Zucker made this war/resistance films spoof. Like the Naked Gun films or Airplane!, it is a joke-a-minute film. The casting of Val Kilmer is certainly going to remain one of the great mysteries of our time but Mr Val is hilarious in it and shows some unexpected comic, singing and dancing talents. The story is obviously silly: the Nazis want to organize a concert and invite a famous American singer to perform but when he is unavailable, the Americans send Nick Rivers, a popular rock star who’s a cross between James Dean and Elvis Presley. Of course, in Germany he meets a girl and gets involved in the French Resistance. The highlight of the film is definitely Val Kilmer singing Tutti Frutti and dancing like Elvis in a Nazi dinner party in which he wasn’t supposed to sing. The jokes are numerous and come fast but even though Top Secret! is not quite as inspired as Airplane! (mainly because of a lack of Leslie Nielsen and Lloyd Bridges) it’s certainly more impressive and still very funny indeed. There are countless sight-gags that are so well thought of and executed that they are surprising and even impressive. The film spoofs so many things, from Rock and Roll, to The Great Escape. Zucker was clearly attached to this film since it contains some pretty neat directing with a lot of brilliant ideas. It’s technically vastly superior to Airplane! but it lacks its energy and its flowing narrative where hilarious joke follows hilarious joke. Overall, it’s an underrated, laugh-out-loud, extremely silly yet oddly impressive spoof that’s definitely one of Zucker’s best.


Overall: ****1/2 /5 


Johnny Dangerously (1984)


With: Michael Keaton, Joe Piscopo, Marilu Henner, Peter Boyle


This gangster film spoof stars Michael Keaton, in one of his first roles, as Johnny, who dedicates his life to organised crime in order to get enough money to pay for his mother’s pancreas operation. He soon obtains the silly nickname of Johnny Dangerously because he lives, well…dangerously I guess. Anyway, Johnny’s younger brother, who always dedicated his life to the law, is unaware that his brother is the famous gangster Johnny Dangerously whom he is trying to unmask. Things get complicated for the 2 brothers when Johnny’s old enemy Vermin reveals to his brother the whole truth. The film is very silly and also very funny and it can be compared to Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles. Of course, the latter is a better film but Johnny Dangerously has plenty going for it and it’s a shame it isn’t better known. Michael Keaton is perfectly cast as Johnny, Peter Boyle is great (even though his character strangely disappears in the middle of the film) and Marilu Henner is very sexy and she sings the excellent “I Want to Live Dangerously” song brilliantly. The jokes come fast and in numbers, unfortunately, some gags (quite few though) don’t work that well but the majority do and there are hilarious scenes (the whole “your testicles and you” scene for example). The film works well as a gangster film spoof but it’s also a pretty good film and even though it’s purposely full of predictable clichés, the story still manages to be thoroughly entertaining and fun. There are also some cool cameos from Danny DeVito and Dom De Louise. Overall, Johnny Dangerously is an underrated little film that deserves to be more notorious. Definitely one of Michael Keaton’s best films.


Overall: ****/5


Roxanne (1987)


With: Steve Martin, Daryl Hannah, Shelley Duval, Rick Rossovich, Fred Willard


Steve Martin not only acts in this modernisation (and Americanisation) of the Cyrano De Bergerac story but he’s also the writer and the executive producer. It’s obviously a project he cared a lot about. He plays C.D. (geddit?), the big-nosed fire chief of a small town where nothing much ever happens: fires are rare and the firemen C.D. is training are more than useless. Things start to get interesting when he meets the new girl in town, a beautiful astronomer called Roxanne (Hannah). The first time he sees her she’s actually naked as she’s locked herself out of her big house and her robe got left in the inside. C.D. helps her out and he takes the opportunity to display his amazing talents of gymnast by going to the top of the house in exactly 5 seconds. We soon realise that C.D. has fallen in love with Roxanne, problem is, he thinks a beautiful woman like her would never fall for a guy with such an incredible snout. Not only that but there’s a new fireman in town, Chris, a simple hunk who likes to joke around but who has a handicap: he gets very nervous when faced with pretty girls and when he sees Roxanne for the first time he vomits, not on the spot obviously, but still. And just when C.D. starts to think he might have a chance with Roxanne she tells him she might be in love with Chris. C.D. is unsurprisingly crushed and he soon finds himself helping Chris proclaim his…lust for Roxanne by writing romantic, poetic letters to her in Chris’ name, as the latter is a truly unromantic fellow. Will Roxanne believe that Chris is the poetic writer he claims to be or will she find out that C.D. is really the one she’s in love with? As a light-hearted romantic comedy, Roxanne is enjoyable enough, especially when Martin loosens up a bit and does what he does best: act silly and play with the absurd. As an adaptation of the Cyrano De Bergerac story it doesn’t really work 100%, there are some good, clever moments but it does feel a little pretentious at times, unfortunately. Overall, Roxanne is good fun and very watchable with Steve Martin on form but it’s just a little too happy with its cleverness for its own good. Not bad but it’s no L.A. Story.


Overall: ***/5


Stripes (1987)


With: Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, John Candy, Warren Oates, Sean Young



John Winger (Murray) is a loser, a slob car driver whose life is a dull, unproductive one. He is having a terrible day: first some punks run away without paying him, then a snobbish old woman treats him like crap, his car gets stolen by his landlord and his girlfriend leaves him. John decides he must do something with his life so he joins the army along with his teacher friend Russell (Ramis). But the army proves to be much tougher than they expected. Their drill segeant is hard as nails and his authoritarianism doesn’t go down very well with John who has endless run-ins with him. John’s platoon is not exactly filled with model soldiers which makes it even harder to finish basic training. But even though John and the gang train hard (or not) and do countless push-ups (well, John does anyway) they still find the time to party. Ox (Candy) even gets involved in an epic mud-wrestling match with some feisty ladies. Directed by Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters), this hit comedy is basically what Police Academy, Old School and Private Benjamin would look like after all spending some time in a blender. Stripes, it must be said, is very much a “guy” film, which isn’t too surprising as the story is about macho soldiers-to-be. The very odd thing about Stripes is the way it looks visually. Ivan Reitman’s films are usually quite colourful, effects-filled and bursting with originality. Here though, it looks as if the whole film was shot in Poland or something, visually, the film is surprisingly grey and dull from start to finish. Having said that, Stripes may not exactly qualify as eye-candy but it’s definitely funny. Bill Murray is as good as ever and this film would certainly have drowned in a sea of mud and cold snot without him. Harold Ramis isn’t bad as Russell even if he’s not always convincing and his haircut at the beginning is one of the worst (and funniest) I’ve ever seen (lol). The rest of the cast is good value and do a fine job, especially the great John Candy as Ox and Warren Oates, who plays the sergeant. Overall, Stripes is a very funny and entertaining comedy which fans of Bill Murray will adore and others will find much to enjoy as well.


Overall: ***1/2 /5 



Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)


With: Steve Martin, John Candy


Comedies just don’t get any better than this. Director John Hughes, who brought us the 80’s comedy classics Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Breakfast Club, made this movie and it’s definitely his funniest and best film. Steve Martin plays Neal Page an uptight and unlucky guy who just wants to get home in time for Thanksgiving but seems to be jinxed. It all starts when he can’t find a cab to get to the airport: he even has to race against Kevin Bacon in order to get one. Then, a man unwittingly steals his cab, that man is Del Griffith, a very friendly chatter-box who sells shower curtain rings. Obviously, Del and Neal end up on the same plane, and it gets cancelled. So, Neal and Del, an odd couple, go through every mode of transportation in order to get home. But along the way, clumsy Del makes life pretty difficult for Neal, whose patience is running out. They get angry with each other more than once with hilarious consequences. Everything that could ever go wrong in a trip does: they get robbed, their car gets destroyed, their train breaks down in the middle of nowhere, to name a few. The comedy scenes are clever and come fast and effective: John Candy and Steve Martin make one of the best comedy duos ever filmed. But the film is not all gags, it does have a well structured story, a hilarious script and a lot of heart: John Candy gives his very best performance and he proves that he wasn’t only a King of Comedy but also a terrific actor and his character is extremely loveable. The whole thing is pure feel-good comedy gold and is surprisingly moving (the ending…tear). John Hughes has produced a comedy that’s brilliant in every way and is, therefore, one of Cablo Gula’s favourite comedies.


Overall: *****/5 


See No Evil Hear No Evil (1989)


With: Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor, Kevin Spacey


One of the best comedy duos ever had one of their very best moment in this classic hilarious comedy. Wilder (Willy Wonka, Young Frankenstein) is Dave: a deaf ex-actor. Pryor (Superman 3) is Wally: a blind man who refuses to acknowledge his problem. They meet and start working together when a murder is committed right under their noses, problem is, Wally didn’t see it and Dave didn’t hear it. They get arrested and, after they manage to escape, they become wanted killers on the run. There are many jokes you could make with a blind and a death character but they’d all come out being cruel and just plain bad. Fortunately, in this film, the jokes come fast and they work without being cruel since the 2 main characters are very loveable. These gags are organised to form a film that’s very funny from start to finish with countless hilarious scenes. We get deaf Dave guiding his blind friend through a fist-fight, Dave holding a naked woman at “gun”-point and Wally passing himself as a Swedish gynaecologist, to name a few examples. Wilder is as wild as ever and Pryor has rarely been so funny prior to this film (see what I did there?). Both of them work brilliantly together and you feel like you’re in good hands when you watch these 2 comic geniuses working. There’s even Kevin Spacey (Usual Suspects, American Beauty), who plays one of the bad guys (with a bad British accent) in an early role. Overall, it’s simply one of the funniest comedies I’ve seen and a film that’s not only laugh-out-loud funny but also a charming little buddy movie about 2 disabled pals who manage, even with their problems, to have one hell of an adventure. A must-see.


Overall: ****1/2 /5


L.A. Story (1991)


With: Steve Martin, Victoria Tennant, Richard E. Grant, Sarah Jessica Parker


Written by Steve Martin himself, L.A. Story is the latter’s love song to The City of Angels, much like Manhattan was Woody Allen’s love song to New York City. The opening sequence is a truly magical introduction that’s 100% pure Steve Martin: it’s a sunny day in L.A. and a giant hotdog balloon in passing by over the city to the sound of Charles Trenet’s “La Mer”. It’s an sequence that sets the tone for the rest of the film perfectly and it’s filled with Martin’s silly, absurd humour with more poetry and irony. The White-Haired One is Harris J. Telemacher, a wacky weatherman who has a close encounter of the sign-post kind one night. It tells him that the weather will change his life twice. Harris meets Sarah, a quirky British woman (Tennant) who plays the tuba and who always forgets to drive on the left side of the road. She is with her ex-husband (Grant) who wants to give their relationship another go, but Sarah is unsure. Meanwhile, Harris gets fired from his job and starts a relationship with a younger woman called SanDeE* (Parker) who enjoys…spinning. When Harris sees Sarah for the first time, he falls in love with her instantly. And even though the situation is a little complicated and it looks like they might not get together after all, the sign-post works its magic. L.A. Story is a charming film: its off-beat originality and clever absurdity are irresistible. Steve Martin is as good as ever and definitely proves that he is an incredibly talented writer, it is arguably his best film to date. The whole cast is great and seems to be having fun, there are even a few welcome cameos from the likes of Patrick Stewart (as a severe Frenchman), Chevy Chase and Woody Harrelson (as Steve’s boss). Sarah Jessica Parker is particularly good as SanDeE* and it’s her best film role. The film is also, it must be said, directed brilliantly by Mick Jackson: the rain sequence at the end is simply beautiful. Overall, L.A. Story is a flawless and hilarious little masterpiece that’s not to be missed.


Overall: *****/5



When Harry Met Sally (1992)


With: Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, Carrie Fisher


The impossible-to-dislike Billy Crystal is Harry Burns, a pessimist who thinks he knows everything and who believes that men and women can never really be friends because sex always gets in the way. He’s so pessimistic that he always reads the last page of novels at the start so he can know how it all ends in case he dies in mid-read. Meg Ryan is Sally Albright, a slightly naïve and sweet girl who likes to play it safe and enjoys security. She’s definitely a more happy and optimistic person than Harry. They both meet in 1977 when Sally gives Harry, who was going out with her friend at the time, a ride to New York. During the trip, their radically different personnalities clash, Harry makes a pass at her, she refuses and they agree not to be friends. 5 years later, they meet again at an airport unexpectedly, but they soon part ways again. 5 years even later they meet again, but this time, they become friends, thus proving a flaw in Harry’s theory. We therefore follow these 2 loveable characters through 11 years as they meet, clash, bond and progressively fall in love. Directed by Rob Reiner, When Harry Met Sally owes much to Annie Hall. Reiner uses similar techniques and ideas used previously by Woody Allen (split-screens, jazz, New York etc.) and, in a way, this film is the Annie Hall of the 90s. Billy Crystal, always good value, is at his very best here and has never been funnier. Meg Ryan is very sweet and reminds us of why she was the rom-com Queen of the 90s. And even though it’s her famous orgasm scene which often remains stuck in people’s minds, there are many many more classic moments to be found in this adorable film. When Harry Met Sally is definitely one of the best rom-coms ever, if not the best: it’s clever, witty, very funny and touching. Undoubtedly the best Woody Allen film never made and one of my personal favourite movies. Perfectly acted, cleverly written and directed, it’s a delightful film that demands repeat viewings. Why? Because it does.


Overall: *****/5     


Groundhog Day (1993)


With: Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, Chris Elliott



This Harold Ramis comedy was a big hit and provided Bill Murray with one of his very best roles to date. The story is famous but let me remind you. Phil Connors is a grumpy weatherman who has to go and cover the annual Groundhog Day (for the 3rd year running) in a small Pennsylvanian town that he cannot stand, he has a pretty crappy day and is shocked to find that his weather prediction was false. The next morning, everything happens in exactly the same way it did the previous day. It soon becomes pretty clear that Phil is stuck in a personal time warp and that he has to live out the same day over and over again. Bill Murray’s various reactions to these bizarre events are hilarious and his performance is brilliant. At first he’s obviously confused but as the “day” go by he makes the most of it and does everything he wants as he uses this “curse” to his advantage. But then he starts to get depressed and he even commits suicide numerous times in different ways. He tries to get the girl, his producer Rita but he finds that she’s not such an easy girl to trick. The film includes some inspired subtle moments, many laugh-out-loud gags and some very inventive ideas. Even though the film is about a day that repeats itself over and over and even though the film is about a day that repeats itself over and over, it doesn’t get repetitive, it doesn’t get repetitive. Harold Ramis proves himself to be a very imaginative and clever director and Bill Murray is on top form as he displays a whole palette of emotions and feelings perfectly. Thanks to the excellent script, the film is consistently funny and engaging. Overall, what can I say? It’s one of the best comedies ever made and is one of Cablo Gula’s personal favourites.


Overall: ***** /5  


Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993)


With: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Alan Alda, Anjelica Huston



Woody Allen and Diane Keaton star in this suspenseful comedy in which Carol Lipton (Keaton), wife of neurotic Larry (Allen), believes the death of their next door neighbour’s wife is no accident. The couple meet their new neighbours and the following day, the wife has a heart attack and dies. When Carol sees the husband acting a bit too casual soon after his wife’s death, she starts to suspect something screwy is going on. With her flirtatious friend Ted (Alda), Carol begins her own little investigation as the clues keep coming and the murder mystery becomes more and more complex. Larry however is incredibly sceptical about the whole thing, he doesn’t like Carol sticking her nose into other people’s lives, and of course spending too much time with Ted. He keeps trying to convince Carol that she’s imagining things and that she’s just inventing herself an adventure to bring some excitement into her life. Is Larry right, is Carol just paranoid? Or are they really living next door to a murderer? When Carol begins her investigation, it seems her marriage to Larry is becoming a bit fragile as there doesn’t seem to be any complicity between them. But when Larry actually sees proof that something strange is happening he starts to get into it, even though he’s not used to so much excitement and danger. Manhattan Murder Mystery sees Woody Allen going back to comedy and reuniting with Diane Keaton so from the offset there’s some welcome familiarity present. Allen’s especially whiny and panicky performance is a delight, expect one-liners agogo and some masterful, subtle physical comedy (the scene where Larry plays poker is especially brilliant). As for Diane Keaton, she’s as good as ever and the supporting cast is perfect with the always reliable Alan Alda and Anjelica Huston, who were both in Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors 4 years before. Overall, the film is cleverly constructed, very funny and full of suspense. Manhattan Murder Mystery is a comfortably acted, directed and written comedy that’s enjoyable and fun from start to finish. Well worth seeing.


Overall: ****/5


Mixed Nuts (1994)


With: Steve Martin, Juliette Lewis, Madeline Kahn, Anthony Laplagia, Robert Klein, Adam Sandler, Rob Reiner


This little comedy, a remake of French classic ‘Le Pere Noel Est Une Ordure’, stars Steve Martin as Philip, a guy who works at Lifesavers: a suicide prevention hotline service where depressed people call up and the ‘life savers’ try to cheer them up and stop them from killing themselves. It’s Christmas time, everything’s going pear-shaped, and it looks like the life savers will need saving themselves. Not only do they receive an eviction notice from their landlord saying that they have to leave just after the New Year, but weird acquaintances and unexpected situations keep occurring making this particular Christmas night a truly unforgettable one. All the characters are lonely people or people with relationship problems and it seems that by spending time together doing crazy stuff they are helping each other. The great Madeline Kahn (Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein) is hilarious as Mrs Munschnik, a loud and cranky woman who works at Lifesavers and gets locked in the elevator. Juliette Lewis is perfect and Anthony Laplagia has never been better as Chris the lonely transvestite. Adam Sandler is also part of this  pack of ‘mixed nuts’ as a yukulele-playing-idiot (who sounds suspiciously like the Waterboy) and provides his usual moronic-Billy Madison humour./ Steve Martin is as good as ever as Philip and the scene where he and Chris dance together is absolutely hilarious. This forgotten little film is not only incredibly funny but also very original with a quirky script and great directing courteousy of Nora Ephron, who brought us rom-com masterpiece When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle. The whole think is quirky, witty and off-beat with a strong comic cast and some black humour: the result is thoroughly enjoyable and great fun to watch. Unfortunately, the last 5 minutes are a poor attempt at trying to add some “Christmas spirit” to the whole thing and it comes off as cheesy. Also, the Christmas-music soundtrack can get a bit heavy. Still, having said that, it’s one of the best American remake of a French comedy I’ve seen and it’s well worth a look. Highly recommended.


Overall: ***1/2 /5


The Mask (1994)


With: Jim Carrey, Cameron Diaz, Peter Riegret, Amy Yasbeck, Peter Greene


This is the film that truly propelled Jim Carrey to super-stardom. It is an adaptation of a comic-book, takes place in the fictional Edge City and stars Jim as shy banker Stanley Ipkiss, an unlucky loser who watches Tex Avery cartoons constantly, plays with his mischievous dog Milo and wears funky pyjamas and ties. Stanley is having the worst day of his life: he gets thrown out of a club, he gets taken for a “ride” (geddit) by 2 ghastly mechanics, he gets harassed by his horrible landlady and his boss and then he finds a strange wooden mask. Later, out of sheer curiosity, he puts it on and is more than surprised to find that he has put on a magical mask that turns him into a living cartoon. He becomes an insane superhero that lives out all the desires he had kept bottled up. But the Mask is mischievous and is mostly interested in causing mayhem and flirting with Tina, a beautiful singer (at the Coco Bongo Club) who also happens to be the girl of petty gangster Dorian. Dorian has been ordered to leave the city by the big “cheese” but he had planned a bank robbery instead. Unfortunately for him, the Mask got there first and took all the money in a spinning tornado of madness. So poor Stanley Ipkiss (aka The Mask) ends up being chased by the police as well as by Dorian and his gang. When the film came out, audiences were in awe in front of the amazing cartooney special effects that managed to allow Jim Carrey’s eye and tongue to pop out and turn him into a real living Tex Avery character. The film is hilarious, entertaining and very original and contains some brilliant scenes. Cameron Diaz is eye-poppingly, groin-grabbingly hot and there are some truly amazing musical numbers that you’re not likely to forget any time soon. Overall, it’s one of Jim Carrey’s very best and is one of the best comedy ever made. As a kid, I saw the film so much that I knew the whole script by heart, I kid you not. A sssssmokin’ treat for kids and adults. (Oh yeah, and try to avoid the dreadful sequel, I beg you) 


Overall: ****1/2 /5

                                           The Cable Guy (1996)
With: Jim Carrey, Matthew Broderick, Leslie Mann, Jack Black, Owen Wilson

 Directed by Ben Stiller, the Cable Guy is a wrongfully underrated dark comedy that flopped at the box office and didn't impress the critics either. The film tells the story of Steven Kovacs (Broderick) a guy who's settling in his new apartment only to find that the cable guy hasn't arrived yet. His friend (Black) tells him about a rumour: "slip the cable guy 50 bucks and he'll give you all the movie channels for free". When the weird cable guy Chip Douglas (Carrey) comes, Steven takes his friend's advice and asks the disturbing Chip, who sees it as an act of friendship. From there on, Chip is going to slowly enter Steven's life and, eventually, control and ruin it.  After all the cartooney comedies that Jim Carrey had done a couple of years ago, his fans weren't really ready for a "dark"comedy. They expected more "Mask", more "Ace". As for the critics, well, they can't always be right. The film itself may have a dark side but it is still very funny: the humour present in this film, is not quite as light-hearted as in laugh-fests like Dumb and Dumber or Ace Ventura. This is an underrated film that deserves to be more appreciated and is destined, it seems, or cult adoration. 
Overall: ****/5

Multiplicity (1996)


With: Michael Keaton, Andie McDowell, Eugene Levy


Harold Ramis, who also directed Stripes and Groundhog Day, made this hilarious and inventive comedy which stars Michael Keaton (on top form) in 4, yes 4, different roles! The film tells the story of Doug Kinney, who doesn’t seem to have any time for his family and for himself because of his very demanding job. One day, by chance, he meets a scientist who tells him that he’s found a way to succesfully clone human beings in 2 hours. So, Doug clones himself so his clone can help him out in his very busy life. It sounds preposterous, and it is, but it works. It all gets complicated when Doug gets cloned again and when his clone gets cloned without telling him (confused). This leaves Doug’s wife very confused and thinking that her husband has finally lost it. Every clone has a different personnality: number 1 is a slob who takes care of Doug’s job, number 2 is a camp control freak who takes care of Doug’s family and number 3 is “special”, which is another word for retarded. The conversations between the 4 of them are obviously the highlights of the film and bring many laughs. Michael Keaton is hilarious and gives 4 great performances, thus proving once again that he is one of the best actors around. The techniques that permit 4 Michael Keatons to interact and have conversations with each other works well and is still pretty cool at times. The whole thing is very enjoyable, great fun and hilarious. Harold Ramis shows that he’s brilliant at taking a fantastical concept and adapting it to make a great comedy: in Groudhog Day, the concept was a day repeating itself over and over. It’s a classic comedy and one of Cablo Gula’s favourites.


Overall: ****/5 


Mr Magoo (1997)


With: Leslie Nielsen, Malcolm McDowell, Jenifer Gardner


When Hollywood gets bored, it calls the ‘fresh-out-of-ideas’ Walt Disney and they get together to adapt a much loved old cartoons into a messy movie just so they can make a few bucks on the now-adults fans of the original animated series. So far we’ve had  Inspector Gadget and, last year, the groin-grabbingly mediocre Garfield. But the ‘love him or hate him’ character Mr Magoo also got his 90 minutes of movie ‘stardom’. If you don’t already know, Magoo is an old millionaire who doesn’t see well at all and therefore gets into all kinds of crazy life-threatening situations without even noticing. The casting of Leslie Nielsen as Magoo is perfect, one cannot imagine a better choice. Unfortunately, the White Haired One is just about the only reason to watch this movie. The rest of the cast includes some familiar faces such as Jenifer Gardner (Elektra, Alias) and Malcolm McDowell (Clockwork Orange, Cat People), on full ‘pull-the-strings’ mode: ‘what the crap are they doing here?’ is the inevitable reaction you’ll get when watching this film. Everyone acts badly (except perhaps Nielsen) and the story is incredibly messy. When a priceless ruby is stolen and ends up by accident in Mr Magoo’s possession, the poor old fool gets pursued by the FBI, the CIA and a bunch of clumsy robbers. The story seems pretty simple but it’s so poorly directed that it does feel like Magoo has been sidelined from his own show, which is a fatal mistake since he’s the only one with the potential to be actually funny. Having said all that, there are some amusing moments, some nice make-up effects and a few decent stunts. The only scenes likely to raise some smiles though are sadly those where the Magoo character disappears and Leslie Nielsen takes over. Overall, it’s quite disappointing and one of Nielsen’s worst but fans of the original cartoon will find some humorous parts. I suggest you watch the Inspector Gadget movie instead, it’s not very good but at least it’s funny and has some ok special effects.


Overall: **/5


Deconstructing Harry (1997)


With: Woody Allen, Amy Irving, Kirstie Alley, Billy Crystal, Elisabeth Shue, Judy Davis, Tobey Maguire, Stanley Tucci, Robin Williams


Woody Allen is the ironically named Harry Block, a novelist with writer’s block who can only express his feelings and be happy through his art. In real life he cheats, drinks, takes pills, swears and enjoys spending his time (and money) on prostitutes. He’s just written a book based on his real experiences and has consequently managed to anger all of his 3 ex-wives. Harry is in love with a younger girl he used to go out with (Shue) and he is devastated to learn she’s getting married with a friend of his (Crystal). Meanwhile, his old university wants to honour him but Harry as no one to bring to the ceremony, not even his own son who has to go to school. Oh well, that’s nothing a little kidnapping couldn’t fix. He starts to think about comical short stories he wrote and we notice how he’s managed to camouflage his own life and experience in them. Deconstructing Harry is a daring film in more ways than one. Not only is it Allen’s first movie since his falling out with Mia Farrow but it is also one of Allen’s darkest films. His character, Harry, is a rather sinister fellow: he drinks, takes pills, likes prostitutes, he’s a bad influence on his son, he cheats and is therefore hated by many people including his ex-wives. In other words, Harry is basically how many people see Woody after the Soon-Yi affair. It’s a film that gets better the more times you see it as you start to really understand what it’s about and all the black humour contained in it. There are flashes of brilliance from Allen such as Robin Williams’ cameo appearance as a (literally) out of focus actor and the scene in Hell at the end with Billy Crystal as the Devil. During the movie, Allen uses a brave technique and deliberately slices some scenes so the film can reflect Harry’s fragmented, deconstructed life. Overall, this is probably Woody Allen’s best recent film: it’s daring, very funny, clever and completely original. You’ll probably be slightly taken aback by the vulgarity and swearing in it but remember: Woody Allen is not Harry Block.


Overall: *****/5


You’ve Got Mail (1998)


With: Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks, Greg Kinnear, Steve Zahn


Directed by the Mother of romantic comedies, Nora Ephron, who brought us the classic of the genre When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail reunites Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan for the 3rd time. They were both in Sleepless in Seattle and Joe Versus The Volcano. The famous premise is very simple: 2 people chat on the internet and fall in love, but they are unaware that in real life they hate each other. I’ll develop. Ryan’s Kathleen Kelly works in a quiet little bookshop that used to belong to her mother. Hanks is Joe Fox, the filthy rich owner of a bookstore chain, aka “the bad man who’s going to open a big discount store across the street from Kathleen’s bookshop”. They both go head to head and really start to get on each others nerves, it’s when Hanks and Ryan are at each other’s necks that the film is at its funniest. Both are in relationships but aren’t in love with their partners. Unaware of their real identities, the two of them send each other e-mails on the internet and have witty conversations in secret (like a cyber-affair if you will, without the sex and dirty language). One is a big fan of The Godfather and the other loves Pride and Prejudice so much she reads it again and again. Joe is a very sweet guy, as we can see when he’s with his kids or when he’s talking to his internet partner, but he hides his “niceness” under a cold, cruel businessman exterior. Kathleen is the cute little rom-com queen we all know and love but in presence of the “bad” Joe Fox, she instantly feels the need to be cruel: she needs to act tough in order to try and keep her business. When Joe finds out that the annoying bookshop woman and his sweet, witty cyber-lady are one and the same, things get slightly more complicated. He is disappointed and doesn’t tell Kathleen the truth about who he is. Gradually, they both start to understand each other better in their real lives but will they get together? Although You’ve Got Mail is not as funny as When Harry Met Sally or as good as Sleepless in Seattle, it’s still very enjoyable to watch and the chemistry between the 2 leads makes it impossible not to care about these charming characters. Overall, an above-average romantic comedy that’s always a pleasure to watch.


Overall: ***1/2 /5


Dude, Where’s My Car? (2000)


With: Ashton Kutcher, Seann William Scott, Jennifer Gardner


This supremely dumb comedy can be seen as a mix of Bill and Ted, Dumb and Dumber and The Big Lebowski (although it’s obviously far inferior to any of these great comedies). It’s the story of 2 stoners who wake up after a night of major partying and getting wasted to find that their car has disappeared and that they did a whole bunch of weird stuff the night before. That’s…basically it. The film follows them as they try to remember what the hell happened and bump into some pretty extreme characters: a violent transsexual stripper, a stoner dog, a group of “hot chicks” who promise oral sex, 2 Scandinavian gay guys, an absurd nerd sect, a Frenchman obsessed by ostriches…to name a few. Most of these people are looking for a certain device that our “dudes” are supposed to know but don’t remember. As you can see it’s all pretty absurd and idiotic. But it has to be said that there are a couple of genuinely funny jokes, the trouble is that there is a majority of really heavy ones that fail to bring real laughs. The funniest joke of the film (which is shamelessly milked for laughs numerous times) comes when the dudes go to a Chinese Fooood drive in restaurant and ask for noodles etc… The old woman keeps saying “aaand theeeen?” after each demand and after a while Ashton Kutcher gets obviously annoyed. Overall, it’s nowhere as funny as Dumb and Dumber, nowhere as clever as The Big Lebowski and nowhere as imaginative and original as Bill and Ted, but it’s still pretty enjoyable and is, at times, quite funny, in a moronic kind of way.


Overall: **1/2 /5

Man on the Moon (1999)


With: Jim Carrey, Danny DeVito, Courteney Love, Paul Giamatti


Jim Carrey portrays the misunderstood-at-the-time comic genius Andy Kaufman in this equally misunderstood and underrated refreshing biopic. Andy was an unusual comedian and didn’t see himself as one: he wanted to bring the audience not just laughs but reactions in general. Making the audience angry, making the audience burst out with laughter, it was all good for him. He started off as a stand-up and moved on to become the best and funniest character of the classic sitcom Taxi (which also starred Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd and Tony Danza). He was Latka, a weird mechanic who stole the show every time with his one-liners (‘Thank you very mach’) and hysterical accent. But Andy was never happy doing Taxi and moved on to wrestling amongst other things. He became famous for challenging women to wrestle with him and for acting like a sexist jerk with them in order to anger them and create some fury among the crowd. Jim Carrey gives an amazing and spot-on performance as Kaufman (and his alter-ego Tony Clifton) that was unjustly ignored by the Oscars. Most of the rest of the cast is also on top form: Danny DeVito is great as Andy’s agent and so is Paul Giamatti as Andy’s best friend and prank colleague. Sadly, Courteney Love was perhaps not the best choice to play Andy’s girlfriend but oh well. Milos Forman has created a thoroughly original, funny and enjoyable biopic of a man who had an odd sense of humour that not everyone got but he was ultimately a misunderstood genius. The film also includes some great songs courtesy of REM. Overall, it’s an underrated film that’s at times hilarious and at times quite moving.    


Overall: ****/5


Scary Movie (2000)


With: Anna Faris, Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans


The Wayans Brothers (White Chicks) sprung to fame, for some reason, with this painfully unfunny horror film spoof. It basically parodies a bunch of scary  movies…badly. Its prime target is Scream, a bad choice since Scream was a sort of parody in itself. I Know What You Did Last Summer is also mocked as well as The Blair Witch Project, The Sixth Sense, Final Destination, not to mention The Usual Suspects and The Matrix which are, as we all know, incredibly scary movies! Scary Movie also parodies...the Budweiser “Wassup?” advert, which is…pretty pathetic in my opinion. But the worst isn’t the choice of targets, it’s the humour which is crude, vulgar, too easy and even, at times, a bit racist. I mean, most of the jokes have already been done and how funny is smoking joints? I mean, really? The Wayans have created a film that, no doubt, made THEM laugh and probably a couple of their buddies but it didn’t make me laugh. And anyone who claims this film made them roar with laughter is either very dumb or is lying. I can name about a hundred films funnier than this one including: Citizen Kane, Shindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan and Sophie’s Choice, all hilarious movies I think you’ll agree. What they simply should have done to get people laughing was send people to your house and actually tickle you while your watching the film. I almost forgot to mention the poor choice of actors, Anna Faris is probably the least funny actress I’ve ever seen (I want to hit her) and Marlon Wayans is, undoubtedly, the most annoying man on the face of the Earth. Overall, this is an incredibly overrated and mediocre film that’s a terrific example on how NOT to make a horror film parody. I suggest you go watch all the films that are mocked in Scary Movie, since they’re all vastly superior. I’m actually tempted to make a spoof of this spoof. Anyway, I’m being mean, there are worse comedies out there such as…Scary Movie 2. A waste of money, props, time, actors and film equipment.


Overall: *1/2 /5


Novocaine (2001)


With: Steve Martin, Helena Bonham Carter, Laura Dern


It’s surprising to hear that this little dark comedy came out in only hundreds of cinemas in America then straight to video. With a good cast and a brilliant theme by Danny Elfman, Novocaine seems destined to be a cult film. Steve Martin is in “more serious” mode as Frank, a dentist with a perfect little life: a steady job, a beautiful fiancée, a spacious home. But, when a sexy patient by the name of Susan appears (Bonham Carter), his life starts to get a whole lot more complicated. His lies escalate and Frank soon finds himself entangled in a web made of dental floss (not literally). He has an affair with Susan, who steals all the drugs and painkillers from his office, this involves the police in the story. As you can see this isn’t exactly Housesitter or Roxanne but more along the lines of The Spanish Prisoner, which contained another serious performance from Martin. The latter proves once again that he’s not only good at falling down (although he does once in the film) and acting silly but that he’s also a fine dramatic actor. Just watch Leap of Faith and you’ll agree. Frank is a rather naïve and unlucky character who is taken for a ride for most of the film. In this story, nothing is what it seems. The perfect little life of the beginning turns out to be only the whitening on the yellow tooth and bit by bit we start to realise that Frank’s been living in his own little world, dreaming of going to France, sunflowers…unaware that around him, people whom he trusted are just waiting to screw him over. Filled with black humour, twists and turns, Novocaine is very much a sex, painkillers and rock and roll affair (except for the rock and roll). The whole cast is very good and David Atkins, who wrote and directed the film, has created a fine little dark comedy that deserves to be more famous. Overall, a sharp, clever, underrated film. Definitely Steve Martin’s last great film so far.


Overall: ****/5


The Curse of The Jade Scorpion (2001)

With: Woody Allen, Helen Hunt, Dan Aykroyd, Charlize Theron

Set in 1940, this film stars Woody Allen as Insurance Investigator C.W. Bricks, he’s neurotic, wise-cracking, skirt chasing and good at his job: in other words: a typical Woody Allen character. When Helen Hunt’s strong and professional Fitzgerald takes over from Woody’s old boss, he feels threatened. It soon becomes clear that they can’t stand each other (or so they claim). This film has an interesting gimmicky premise: Bricks falls under the spell of an hypnotist who gets him to commit jewel thefts and then makes him forget the whole thing. He starts to unwittingly follow his own tracks and chase himself while suspecting Fitzgerald. After a couple of robberies everything starts to point towards him, damning evidence is found and it all leaves Bricks feelling deeply confused. This film is an odd entry into the Woody Allen film list since he famously stopped making "funny" films a while ago and turned his attention to more intellectual and challenging comedies. This is an old fashioned comedy that’s closer to What’s New Pussycat? than Anything Else. Woody Allen said he had this idea for a while and maybe he should have made this film earlier because, even though he’s surprisingly energetic in this film, it seems quite unbelievable that his character would attract Charlize Theron’s sexy "femme fatale" and even Helen Hunt’s character. Woody Allen seems to be in a very good mood and looks like he enjoyed making the film thoroughly (well, he did get to kiss Theron and Hunt, cheeky monkey). Hunt shows no sign of weakening in her acting skills and the rest of the cast does well although Dan Aykroyd is sadly not very convincing in a more serious part, fortunately though, he does get better towards the end. Overall, this is a film that should be associated with the earlier, goofy Allen rather than the later, more serious Allen. It’s funny, witty, original and underrated. I would have gladly given it an extra half star if it hadn’t been for the slight predictability of the gimmicky plot and of the overly rapid resolution. Not Allen’s best then, but good fun and way better than most comedies that hit our screens these days.

Overall: ***1/2 /5

Zoolander (2001)


With: Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Will Ferrell, Christine Taylor, Milla Jovovich, Jerry Stiller, Jon Voight, David Duchovny


Directed by Ben Stiller himself, Zoolander tells the silly story of brainless male model Derek Zoolander (Stiller) whose unique “look”, Blue Steel, has made him famous. He’s been VH1’s male model of the year for 3 years, until he is unexpectedly dethroned by his blonde, relax rival Hansel (Wilson). Derek is crushed and starts to feel incredibly threatened by Hansel’s blossoming career. Confused and depressed, Derek goes to the coal mines to see his father (Voight) and his 2 brothers (one of them is Vince Vaughn) but turns out, he’s not meant to be a mine worker. Especially not after his father sees him as a floating merman in an embarrassing television advert. Meanwhile, evil fashion guru Mugatu (Ferrell) prepares a plan to brainwash Derek and turn him into a killing machine so he can kill the Malaysian prime minister…for some reason. With the help of reporter Matilda (Taylor), a creepy hand-model (Duchovny), and Hansel himself, Derek will have to try and find a way to foil Mugatu’s unholy plans. As you can see, the story is completely moronic, and so is most of the film, but in a very good way. Like Anchorman, it’s the kind of film that’s so silly and goofy it’s impossible not to laugh because it is also, at the same time, very clever. The character of Zoolander was created long before the film was even made, he appeared in some short fake interviews on VH1. Which is also comparable to the way Will Ferrell’s Roy Burgundy of Anchorman emerged. Zoolander is very funny and great fun from start to finish. It doesn’t take itself seriously for one second and there’s no cheesy moral in sight either, which is refreshing. Expect many cameo appearances from the likes of David Bowie, Billy Zane, Winona Ryder, Paris Hilton, Vince Vaughn and Lenny Kravitz, to name a few. Ben Stiller is great as Derek as it is a rather original character for him to play. His pal, Owen Wilson, is also very funny as the laid-back hippy-skater Hansel. As for Will Ferrell, well, he’s got the most hilarious look of the lot and his improvisations are always a delight. Overall, Zoolander is one of Stiller’s best films and even though it’s very silly you’ll find it irresistible.


Overall: ****/5  


Bruce Almighty (2003)


With: Jim Carrey, Jennifer Aniston, Morgan Freeman, Steve Carrell


Jim Carrey is a God, we know that. Well, in this hit comedy, his character Bruce actually becomes The God, for a few days anyway. Bruce Nolan is having the worst day of his life: he arrives late to work, where he learns that the position of lead anchorman will not be filled by him but by his smug rival Evan (Carrell) instead. Not only that but he is attacked by thugs in the street, he has a row with his grilfriend (Aniston) and he has a car accident. After that, it’s understandable that Bruce has had enough so he blames God and accuses him of not doing his job and purposely making his life a living hell. The next day, he is contacted by a mysterious organisation that somehow knows his name and he is told to go to a certain place at a certain time. Soon, Bruce finds himself in a run-down building (from the outside only) in which he encounters The Almighty, The Alpha, The Omega…whatever, you know who I mean. The Lord (Freeman) tells Bruce that when he leaves the building he will have all of his powers at the palm of his 7 fingered hand. His challenge is to show God how the job is done. Obviously, Bruce struggles with coming to grips with his powerful “gift” and uses his powers to selfish ends. He takes the opportunity to settle old scores and enjoy himself rather than helping people, not realising his mistakes are affecting the world around him. Tom Shadyac, who directed such “ace” comedies as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Liar Liar and the Nutty Professor (oh, and Patch Adams…*shudder*), said he wrote the story with Carrey in mind: and it shows. Jim fits perfectly in the role of Bruce, however, one of the weaknesses of this film is that very character. Unlike the cocky, snob-hating, animal-loving Ace Ventura and the out-of-control workaholic lawyer of Liar Liar, Bruce is not really a likeable character, let alone loveable. He’s selfish, he’s whiny, he’s negative, he’s, in a word: a jerk. The man complains about everything and is unhappy with his frankly cosy-looking little life. The best bits are when Jim Carrey breaks out of this character and becomes the rubber-faced genius we all know and love. As for the story, well, it lacks some imagination and there are some unfortunate plot holes. Not to mention the unnecessary attempts at bringing heart to a film that should have been all about fun and jokes. On the upside, the film has its moments and is generally very funny (Steve Carrell is hilarious as Evan Baxter). Jim is unsurprisingly great, Jennifer Aniston does her best with a character sadly left undevelopped and Morgan Freeman is perfect. Overall, Bruce Almighty may not be Jim Carrey’s best (or funniest) but it’s admittedly great fun and full of good ideas.


Overall: ***/5

Anything Else (2004)

With: Jason Biggs, Woody Allen, Christina Ricci, Danny DeVito, Jimmy Fallon

Another underrated recent Woody Allen film. It’s an odd film because it’s basically a darker remake of Allen’s masterpiece Annie Hall with a young teen cast. Jason Biggs plays Woody’s Alvy Singer part: a neurotic, vulnerable joke writer and Christina Ricci plays his sexy neurotic girlfriend. They’re a couple whose sex life is stalling and who seem to struggle to communicate. Of course, there are variations on the old Annie Hall story, the best one being Woody Allen’s character Lordel. Unlike Alvy Singer, this character is darker and more disturbed: he is paranoid, he’s been to a mental hospital (or so he claims), he’s pessimistic, he even gets violent from time to time and keeps a weapon "within reach": in other words, he’s a bad influence on Biggs…or is he?. He even buys him a rifle and a survival kit! Woody easily steals the show and displays a hilarious and different performance. Another addition is Danny DeVito’s character, Biggs’ agent who compares everything to suits. The film itself is refreshing and contains some very funny scenes, countless witty one-liners, clever ideas, good performances and some slick directing. However, it has to be said that the film’s unavoidable similarities to Annie Hall can be frustrating since Annie hall is a perfect film that aged well and didn’t need a remake. Jason Biggs and Christina Ricci do well even though it’s hard not to occasionally struggle with Allen’s intellectual script. Overall, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it and it’s worth seeing if only for Woody’s performance. It’s an understated, underrated and entertaining film that’s deeper than it appears to be. Is Lordel in fact the adult Biggs who’s come back to his past in order to change it for the better? Or is he just a crazy visionary?

Overall: **** /5

Along Came Polly (2004)


With: Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Hank Azaria, Alec Baldwin, Debra Messing


In 2004, Ben Stiller was very busy and starred in about a gazillion films including Starsky and Hutch, Envy and Our House. His funniest though was probably Along Came Polly in which he plays Reuben Pfeffer, an unlucky risk-assessment analyst whose wife Lisa (Debra Messing aka Grace from Will & Grace) cheats on him on their honeymoon. The other man is none other than a French nudist scuba instructor called Claude (Hank Azaria aka Apu, Moe, Wiggum, Frink in the Simpsons). Crushed, Reuben goes back home alone, where everybody at work and beyond knows all about what happened to him. His friend (a hilarious Hoffman) tries to take his mind off things and, at a party, Reuben meets Polly Prince (Aniston), whom he knew in college. He asks her out and they start a rather chaotic relationship. She takes him to ethnic restaurant, unaware that Reuben hates spicy foods and has IBS, and it all ends in an embarrassing (and very funny) bathroom disaster. Reuben and Polly are pretty much opposites: Reuben doesn’t take risks and can be quite uptight whereas the hippy-ish Polly is off-beat, spontaneous and quirky. But you know what they say, opposites attract. It’s when Lisa comes back home to Reuben that things get a little awkward for the love triangle. Will Reuben forgive Lisa and give his marriage a chance or will he take a major risk and stay with Polly. Lets face it, Along Came Polly is not a masterpiece, it’s very silly. But nevertheless it is enjoyable and very funny thanks mostly to a spot-on supporting cast and the fact that most of the jokes work. Ben Stiller is his usual unlucky, bumbling self and Jennifer Aniston is very good and (very cute) as Polly. As for the rest, Hank Azaria, Alec Baldwin and Bryan Brown are all on top form and bring many laughs to the film. However, it is Philip Seymour Hoffman’s hilarious performance as Reuben’s fat, rude, clumsy loser friend which steals the show. Overall, Along Came Polly is light-hearted feel-good fun and will keep you smiling from start to finish. Just don’t expect to remember it always.


Overall: ***/5

                                    50 First Dates (2004)

 With: Adam Sandler, Drew Barrymore, Rob Schneider, Dan Aykroyd

 Adam Sandler, an actor you either like or hate. His films are not for everyone and 50 First Dates is no exception: if you don't like Sandler you should give it a miss, otherwise, you'll love it! The story is fairly simple, Henry Roth (Sandler), a vet that spends his life romancing female tourists in Hawai and then never seeing them again fall in love with Lucy (Barrymore) who, due to a car accident, has lost her short-term memory. Everyday she forgets what happened the previous day! Henry is going to have to make her fall in love with him every day with the hope that she'll, one day, remember him. Sandler has proved himself to be really funny (The Waterboy) and a good actor (Punch Drunk Love). 50 First dates contains the usual combination of gross-out gags, animals, golf and...Rob Schneider that compose almost every Adam Sandler Film. This particular one is not hilarious but very amusing and genuinely sweet. It is a likeable and enjoyable romantic comedy if slightly forgettable. By the way, move over Meg Ryan, Drew Barrymore is set to become the new rom-comedy queen!

 Overall: ***/5    

                                       The Terminal (2004) 

With: Tom Hanks, Stanley Tucci, Catherine Zeta-Jones

Tom Hanks is great (when is he not?) as Viktor Navorski and has a lot of fun with yet another weird accent. The film starts off as a promising black comedy but strangely ends up as a lighthearted rom-com, which is a bit of a shame really. It feels like a wasted opportunity to explore a man's unfortunate situation and create a darker story with an important message. The romance unortunately feels false, mostly because of Zeta-Jones' below average performance. The ending is rushed and disappointing and Tom Hanks fails to inhabit his loveable character till the end. The film is funny enough and visually slick with the same kind of freshness and energy that we saw in Catch Me If You Can. But The Terminal is ultimately Spielberg's "less good" film even though it is worth seeing and is pretty enjoyable and fun. I recommend it but just don't expect a very deep and unpredictable film. 

Overall: ***/5

                                      Bad Santa (2003)

With: Billy Bob Thornton, Tony Cox, Brett Kelly, Bernie Mac and John Ritter

"Bad Santa" started life as an original idea from the Coen Brothers (the geniuses behind The Big Lebowski and Fargo) who also produced the film. If you think Bad Santa is just another random schmaltzy Christmas cheese-board of a movie then think again.This is the story of Willie (Billy Bob Thornton), an alcoholic safe-breaker who makes his living as a department-store Santa but only so he can rob these same stores later with the help of an angry dwarf (disguised as Santa's elf) played brilliantly  by Tony Cox (he was the limo driver who ruins Jim Carrey's life at the start of "Me, Myself and Irene"). This time Santa's "living" is thrown into jeopardy by a corrupt shop detective (Bernie Mac)and a dimwitted overweight kid who believes he actually is Santa Claus. Billy Bob Thornton's Father Christmas is not exactly Richard Attenborough's Chris Cringle: he is a swearing, drinking, vomiting loser who we see pissing his pants, having anal sex with a large woman in a changing room and trying to commit suicide amongst other things. This bad Santa would have been an extremely dislikeable character if it hadn't been for Thornton's natural comic talents and Brett Kelly's annoying yet loveable kid. The relationship between Santa and him is hilarious and thus provides some of the funniest scenes of the film. Even though this is a movie that wants to steer clear of the vulgar, cheesy sentimentality present in many Christmas films, it does manage to slip us some sweet Christmas Spirit from time to time, but the occasionnal sentimentality is perfectly handled and heartwarming. Terry Zwigoff, who directed the film (and Ghost World) has brought us, not only one of the funniest and best comedies of the year but also one of the best Christmas movies in a while.

Overall: ****/5

                    I Heart Huckabees (2004)

With: Jason Schwartzman, Jude Law, Dustin Hoffmann, Naomi Watts, Mark Wahlberg)


Ever heard of existential comedy? You have now! I Heart Huckabees has already divided the critics, some loved it, some hated it. Honestly, I don’t know how anyone could “hate” this film. It tells the unbelievable story of an environmental activist (and terrible poet) Albert who, freaked out by a recurring coincidence, hires the help of 2 “existential detectives” to discover its meaning. But they are more interested in the relationship he has with his nemesis (played brilliantly by Jude Law), a pretentious PR man for the retail chain Huckabees. Albert learns to deconstruct reality and meets some truly crazy characters. Yes, it sounds very bizarre. And that’s because it is! It’s also quite easy to lose track of what the film is trying to say because of all the philosophical ideas and theories bombarded at us but who cares? This is a fresh, original and funny comedy that has many groovy visual tricks up its sleeve and great music courtesy of Jon Brion (who did the music for Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind). I understand if some critics were frustrated because they didn’t get the point of the film or they felt it was too pretentious and said nothing but I Heart Huckabees, even though it’s not a film for everyone (that’s for sure) is very enjoyable and underrated.

Overall: ****/5

                                             Taxi (2004)

With: Queen Latifah and Jimmy Fallon

Jimmy Fallon and Queen Latifah in 20th Century Fox's Taxi

 The original Taxi film was a huge hit in France, even though it was nothing special, and even spawned two sequels. The story is dumb and simple: a taxi driver who dreams of one day becoming a succesful race driver meets a loser cop and because of him gets entangled, with her customized taxi, in a catch-the-robbers case. The driver is played by a miscast Queen Latifah who we first see bouncing on a bicycle as if it were a pogo stick, through the streets of New York (it was Marseilles in the original). Whereas the story of the first Taxi was silly, this is just preposterous: the gang of robbers Latifah and her rarely funny sidekick (played by Jimmy Fallon, who understandably looks unconfortable with the lame script he's been given to work with but still manages to bring a couple of laughs) have to catch are none other than a bunch of sexy brasillian models who rob bank after bank and drive like pros (yes, it's that silly). The French Taxi was written by Luc Besson and this brought some quality to the film. Here, the script desperately tries to be funny but fails considerably: Latifah, a great singer and a good actress (although not a funny one), seems to think that repeatedly saying the word "damn" will eventually bring laughs, personnally, all it brought me was a headache. Overall, this is a mildly amusing and entertaining film that will appeal to young viewers who haven't seen the likes of The Fast and the Furious, Gone in 60 Seconds and even the original Taxi. If you really want to see a cool taxi movie this year, then I suggest you go and see Collateral instead.

Overall: **/5

Anchorman (2004)


With: Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Vince Vaughn



Will Ferrell is finally given the opportunity to go wild in one of last year’s funniest and silliest film. He plays San Diego’s most famous anchorman Ron Burgundy: a childish, mustachioed, party-going idiot who will read anything that’s written on the teleprompter and whose top news stories include a cat fashion show and the pregnancy of a panda. Christina Applegate plays a woman journalist who comes to work at Burgundy’s news station. She dreams of becoming anchor…lady and soon becomes the source of many competitions and arguments amongst Burgundy’s moronic group of colleagues. This team includes Mike from Friends and Baxter from Bruce Almighty (who is hilarious as a retarded weatherman). Ron Burgundy and Rebecca Corningstone (Applegate) become “romantically involved” and then, when they break up, they become enemies engaged in a very funny tit for tat competition. This is the kind of film you can really enjoy if you turn your brain off for an hour and a half, like Old School or Dodgeball. Actually, there are some cameos from Ben Stiller, Luke Wilson and Tim Robbins. I have to say that there are some hilarious moments such as the whole “jazz flute” scene where Burgundy, in order to impress Corningstone, goes nuts whilst playing jazz flute, and there’s also a scene where they both start fighting that’s slapstick gold. Unfortunately, some moments are just a bit too moronic but on the whole, it’s a fine and funny comedy that’s really funny, if you appreciate that kind of humour. Will Ferrell proves that he is a genuinely funny guy, could he be the new Chevy Chase?


Overall: ***/5


Spanglish (2005)


With: Paz Vega, Adam Sandler, Tea Leoni, Cloris Leachman


Directed by James L. Brooks, who did the excellent Oscar-winning As Good As It Gets, Spanglish stars Tea Leoni as a mother who moves to L.A. and settles into the Spanish side of town which makes her feel right at home. But one day, she goes to work as a maid for a rich American family and finds that her inability to speak the language is becoming  a major speed bump that denies her to really communicate with the people around her. James L. Brooks, who worked on The Simpsons, is great at storytelling and has you hooked from the very start in a story that isn’t extremely original. He’s also very good at turning subtle moments into something much bigger, as we saw in As Good As It Gets, for example, in the diner scene where Nicholson’s character struggles desperately to make Hunt’s character a compliment. Here, every eyebrow raised seems to be of great importance! At times, this makes for perfectly timed comedy moments but at other times, it can become a bit tiresome. Also, Brooks’ script is very wordy and the dialogs can get pretty complex and therefore makes the film feel less real than it should. Adam Sandler seems to be getting better and better as he gains weight. His performance is very mature and impressive and he proves that his brilliant performance in Punch-Drunk Love wasn’t a fluke. Of course, at times, when he shouts it sounds Happy Gilmore-ish but this makes his character more loveable. Paz Vega’s performance is good and she really manages to capture her character’s confusion and frustration. Tea Leoni is over the top, to say the least, and does become pretty annoying at the end: this creates a good contrast, though, with Sandler’s quiet, shy and loveable character. But it’s Cloris Leachman’s cool grandma who brings most of the laughs and steals the show. But the film’s main flaw is perhaps that it does feel overdone and overdramatic. Some characters do get on your nerves after a while since the film is a bit overlong. Hans Zimmer’s score is not as memorable and not as good as his previous ones and doesn’t add anything to the drama. Overall, it’s enjoyable, it’s a mature and “grown-up” film that’s at times quirky and funny, and at other times dramatic and touching. It has a lot of longueurs though.


Overall: *** /5

Sideways (2005)


With: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church


You know when you tell a joke to someone and he likes it so much he tells everyone about it then implores you to tell it to them and then, when you do they don’t laugh because it has been built up too much? Well, the press almost succeeded in doing that with Lost in Translation and this year with Sideways. These two films are both excellent but they’re little indie films, not Jerry Bruckheimer blockbusters. Sideways is the story of two friends who decide to go on a wine-tasting road trip. Jack is getting married in a week and wants his last days of freedom to be “awesome”. His friend Miles, a “connoisseur” in wine-tasting, is not as optimistic and is still depressed about his divorce with his ex wife. They both certainly make an odd couple. They’re both forty-something losers that don’t seem to be going forwards in their lives but rather sideways: Jack is a failed actor that does voice-overs in commercials and Miles is an unpublished writer who is seen at one point stealing some money from his mum, like a teenager. On the trip they meet 2 girls (who know a lot about wine-tating themselves) and Jack starts to have second thoughts about his wedding. Miles, neurotic and insecure, finds it harder to let go of his ex and start a relationship with Maya, one of the girls. Mike Nichols, who also directed About Schmidt, has brought us a film that’s just as good and just as likeable. He manages to make these two losers loveable in spite of their flaws just like he did with Nicholson’s Schmidt. His characters are 3 dimentionnal, they have real problems and real feelings. Sideways is a comedy that contains subtle jokes as well as crude humour from time to time, making it a very funny experience. As a film, it’s flawless. The director’s passion for wine is obvious and shown through smart split-screens and Miles’ extensive knowledge on the subject. But Nichols goes deeper than creating the usual odd-couple buddy comedy as the scene where Miles and Maya are talking about why they love wine so much. Miles’ decription of why he loves Pinot is in fact a self-description and Maya is aware of this, she starts to tell him that wine is alive and evolves constantly: in other words, she describes herself. Paul Giamatti is brilliant and can definitely claim his crown as king of the losers since he plays these roles to perfection! The script is also excellent and Oscar-worthy. Overall, a clever and funny little film that doesn’t disappoint. Just don’t expect Tom Cruise to pop up carrying a nuclear bomb or something.


Overall: ****1/2 /5  



In Good Company (2005)


With: Dennis Quaid, Topher Grace, Scarlett Johansson, Selma Blair


The underrated Dennis Quaid plays Dan, a middle-aged advertising salesman for a sports magazine who’s been in the business for 23 years. One day, a young “hot-shot”, Carter, whose company has taken over Dan’s, becomes his boss even though he is half his age and hasn’t got any experience in that area of work. Grace’s character comes across as an annoying rich yuppie and a scene that establishes that perfectly is when he buys a new Porsche and looks really smug, then a cars crashes into him. Dan embarrassingly becomes Carter’s “wingman” and his old colleagues start getting fired by Carter one by one. But Dan can’t really quit and can’t afford to lose his job because his wife is pregnant and his daughter has been accepted at the expensive New York University. So he’s pretty much stuck as a wingman. But Carter, even though things at work are going very well, is going through a divorce, is lonely and doesn’t really know what to do with his new financial success. When Carter invites himself at Dan’s home for dinner he meets his (beautiful) daughter and they start going out behind his back. The film may seem like a run-of-the-mill romantic comedy at first but it really isn’t. Of course, there is romance but it is only part of an enjoyable subplot and there isn’t too much emphasis on the romantic part of the film. It is, first of all, a satire on corporate mentality and business life: a bit like Jerry Maguire. It’s a sort of meditation on 2 different generations and the way they grow and clash. Dennis Quaid (who still looks like a cross between Harrison Ford and Steve Martin) is excellent and his character is very loveable, unlucky and funny. Carter is, at first, an obnoxious character but Grace’s great performance manages to give his character a third dimension and we start to realise that he is just a boy who’s grown up too fast and is a bit lost after all. Overall, In Good Company is a very enjoyable film that works both as a satire and as a rom-com thanks to a sharp and clever script.


Overall: ***1/2 /5


Meet The Fockers (2005)


With: Ben Stiller, Robert DeNiro, Dustin Hoffmann, Barbara Streisand, Blythe Danner, Teri Polo


This highly anticipated sequel to the hit modern classic comedy Meet The Parents seemed to have all the right ingredients to make a perfect, equally good, comedy. First, the choices of Dustin Hoffmann and Barbara Streisand as Ben Stiller’s liberal parents were inspired and promised some hilarious performances. Also, the Ben Stiller-Robert DeNiro tortured-torturer formula, which was the highlight of the first film, would undoubtedly work the second time round. Right? Mwell…almost. In this film, it’s the parents who have to go meet the parents. Retired CIA man Jack Byrnes and his wife have to go and spend the week-end at Focker Island (I love that name) to meet Gaylord’s parents before he and their beloved daughter get married. Dustin Hoffmann is a relaxed ex-lawyer who spends his time practicing capoera in his garden in a Hawaiian shirt. Barbara Streisand is a sex therapist for the elderly…enough said. From the very start, it’s obvious that the uptight control-freak that is DeNiro and the laid-back Hoffman are not going to get along. The latter even calls the CIA, at one point, the CLIA (Central Lack of Intelligence Agency), a remark that doesn’t go down too well with DeNiro. Meet the Fockers had a lot of potential and all the right ingredients but it’s not enough to have the ingredients: you need a good recipe! Unfortunately, the recipe in this film is pretty messy. Ben Stiller is sidelined and given very few good jokes to work with, the gags can be predictable and sometimes seem much too easy. Having said that, Hoffmann and DeNiro are both very funny and there are some irresistible moments. Overall, don’t compare it with the first film because you’ll be disappointed, just sit back and join the undemanding fun.


Overall: ***/ 5


Melinda and Melinda (2005)


With: Radha Mitchell, Chloe Sevigny, Will Ferrell, Amanda Peet


Woody Allen’s latest film is what could be called a rom-tragicom, silly name, I’ll give you that, but I think it’s a good subcategory in which to place Melinda and Melinda. This film is definitely Woody’s best in a while. The Curse of Jade Scorpion, his last film, was unjustly hammered by critics and Anything Else received mixed reviews. But you either love Woody Allen’s more intellectual work, or hate it. Those who hate it (tsss) often say they prefer his earlier surreally silly work, which is fair enough since Woody was a  hilarious comedian. Personally, I think Woody Allen is one of the most talented and intelligent directors around and his films are always worth seeing. This film sees a group of friends, 2 of them writers, who each tell the story of a woman, Melinda, who arrived to a party uninvited at a friend’s house one night: one of them makes a tragic drama out of it, and the other a lighter romantic comedy. We see both stories mixed together. It may sound like a gimmick but Woody cleverly avoids all the expected cliches from the start. In the tragedy part of the film, Melinda, who was once convicted for manslaughter, meets a composer at a party and starts a relationship with him whilst trying to keep custody of her children. In the comedy part, she is a more outgoing and light character who is lonely and looking for a relationship. She starts going on a couple of dates, unaware that her vulnerable and neurotic married neighbour (Ferrell, in full Woody Allen mode) is madly in love with her and consumed by jealousy. The tragedy has elements of comedy in it and vice-versa. Both stories have some similarities and references to each other and they are shot in the same kind of way, this is done on purpose since Woody wants to show that in life, comedy and tragedy are both intertoined and that you can’t have one with the other. Woody Allen fans will find a lot of familiarity in Melinda and Melinda since it is a kind of mixture of his best work: for example, the “tic” incident in the film is vastly reminiscient of the “lobster” incident in Annie Hall. Overall, it’s a well acted (especially by the impressive Radha Mitchell, whose 2 performances are flawless and nuanced), perfectly directed and sharply written film that, if you can forgive the odd pretentious moment, is thoroughly enjoyable and clever.


Overall: ****/5


Monster in Law (2005)


With: Jane Fonda, Jennifer Lopez, Michael Vartan, Wanda Sykes



Who would have thought that Meet the Parents and Anger Management would be such influential films? I mean, we’ve already had Meet the Fockers, Guess Who? and now Monster in Law: all films which portray a young uptight person’s struggle with his parents in law. Monster in Law has an utterly unoriginal story: J-Lo is the fiancée of some guy whose mother is the loony protective Jane Fonda. The latter only has her son in her life after having been replaced by a younger woman in her TV show (in which she attacked Britney Spears) and therefore tries hard to get rid of the bootylicious J-Lo. But Lopez is a tougher cookie than she had expected. What follows is a tit-for-tat battle between mother in law and future daughter. Hilarious? Hardly. Jane Fonda’s return (after 12 years of absence) to the big screen is undeniably welcome and refreshing and, frankly, she’s the only good reason to see this film. She’s completely insane and seems perfectly comfortable making a fool of herself in much the same way Barbara Streisand did in Meet the Fockers earlier this year. Unfortunately, the film itself is a bit crap frankly: it doesn’t have a milligram of originality in it, it’s not really funny, it’s badly written and painfully predictable. If you want to see the difference between a great actress and a bland one, watch this film: Jennifer Lopez means well but her performance is terribly ‘blah’ compared to Fonda’s energetic and playful one. As for Vartan, who plays the husband, his character is badly written and sidelined during the whole film. And the ‘plot’ is a bit on the rubbish side: who would be dumb enough to propose to a girl the same day he’s presenting her to his crazy mother for the very first time? And in front of her! Oh well…Overall, Monster in Law is a harmless enough, mildly amusing, unoriginal film only worth seeing to witness the great Jane Fonda’s come back.


Overall: **/5


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