Gathering dust in various stages of development hell since 1997, Gambit finally arrives on the big screen. From the off it’s clear Michael Hoffman’s remake of the 1966 caper is no spring chicken. A comic heist film so thoroughly undercooked and blushing with embarrassment, the only chicanery here is the evident self-deceit involved in slumming for a paycheck.
Romantic comedies have become such a chore to watch, such a cold, damp and schmaltzy mire to wade through these days that many of us imagine the prospect of yet another Love, Actually knock-off with complete dread. Enter Silver Linings Playbook, a story about two bi-polar personalities trying to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives. It’s romantic, it’s witty, and it’ll charm the pants right off you.
Mental is an oddball comedy with meaningful things to say about the proliferation of psychiatric diagnoses in today’s society. It maintains an interesting narrative on the latent craziness that exists in all of us, and when the comedy is derived from this rapport with the audience it is exceedingly satisfying to watch. On the other hand, the majority of the film is utter, utter wank. Mental is as stable as a schizophrenic, but ultimately you’ll be the one lobotomised.
Kevin James wafts back onto our screens as a listless biology teacher who just wants to chip in a few bucks and save his school when budget cuts loom. No bake sales here, as good-natured Mr. Voss enters the Octagon in a bid to literally fight for what he believes in. Take note, Here Comes the Boom is here to impart laughs and lessons in equal measure. Achieving neither, at least Kevin James gets a pummeling.
Set in 1968, The Sapphires tells the story of four aboriginal girls who are plucked from the outback and perform a whirlwind tour for troops across Vietnam. Chris O’Dowd anchors much of the fun, but things get a little slippery when the film’s feel-good factor is forced to come to terms with the social, racial and political climate of the time.
Whether you call it Desire to Kill or Enemy at the Dead End, this film is still about two nearly-dead men in a hospital ward trying to kill each other without the nurses noticing. You could roll a wheelchair through some of the plot holes, but this absurdist South Korean thriller is a true original.
Hovering somewhere between a teenage sex-romp comedy and Clarissa Explains it All lies Fun Size, an awkward, inoffensive and ultimately meandering tale attempting to target the abandoned 12-14 y/o market. This film lingers and loiters like a greasy teenager at the mall, and is about as appealing to anyone who is not themselves a greasy teenager.
A distinctly Western drama/rom-com, Karan Johar’s Student of the Year is a bright and breezy affair, lacking in story and innovation, but brimming with colour, humour and brilliant performances from it’s young cast. Overlong, and at times predictable, Student of the Year is nevertheless a fun way to spend a few hours, whether you’ve ever seen a Bollywood film before or not.
A romantic comedy directed by husband and wife Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine) and written by female lead Zoe Kazan, whose real life partner Paul Dano also stars, it is not unexpected that Ruby Sparks should have a lot to say about relationships. Where it does surprise, however, is in its refreshingly layered approach to the genre. Observing reality through the premise of a fairytale, it is at once a critique of fantasy and a lesson in how to make it real.