Swimming With Men: A Real Poo In The Pool

Swimming With Men is a British comedy film directed by Oliver Parker. The plot sees Eric, a man unhappy with his life looking for an escape from it all; that escape synchronised swimming. He joins a club and they compete for an international title, learning what is important along the way.

This film is an unfunny comedy film, that is all I need to say. It failed to make me laugh once across the whole runtime, there were moments that made me smile, but it wasn’t funny.

As far as ‘heartfelt comedies’ go (that is what I am calling things like Finding Your Feet and Fisherman’s Friends), this film is not deep. The others try and tell you something about life, usually a lesson, to varying degrees of success; this one has no such message. Basically the message of the film is don’t be a dick to your wife, because then she’ll chuck you out and you will be sad.

Rob Brydon’s character is a dick throughout most of the film and he is very hard to root for or empathise with, even by the end of the film when he has supposedly changed his mindset because of his emotional journey, brought about by swimming, he is still only marginally better. What I believe dooms this film is the writing; it is poorly written. It tries and fails to pull on our heart strings and really just wastes your time.

Overall, this is on the bad side of meh, if you have a soft spot for these sorts of comedies you might like it, but don’t hold your breath.

Pros.

Its watchable

It isn’t too long

Cons.

The lead is hateable

The emotional journey doesn’t work

It fails to make you feel something.

It is aggressively average.

1/5

Reviewed by Luke  

Finding Dory: A Journey Of Remembrance

Finding Dory is an animated comedy family film directed by Andrew Stanton and Angus MacLane. The film serves as a sequel to Finding Nemo, with the premise being that Dory (Ellen DeGeneres), needs to go on a journey to find her family that she has forgotten about; this journey is of course both literal and mental as her past is explored through a series of flashbacks.

Man, this film is a downer. Right from the off it is depressing, baby Dory lost and all alone is heart-breaking and it only gets worse from there. I don’t know if I just have a low tolerance when it comes to sad childhood stuff in films, but this one was a hard watch. There were times I actively wanted to turn it off because it was making me sad.

This is by no means a bad film though however; it is very watchable and entertaining. I found it was able to hold my attention which is usually a good sign. The issue with this film though is that it never does enough to justify its existence, for all the plot and Dory back story we get could have made for a great thirty to forty minute short, it does not however, feel as though it needs an hour and a half runtime.

I think the supporting cast definitely add a lot to this film and help pull the heavy weight. The two supporting characters I would point to are Destiny (Kaitlin Olsen), and Hank (Ed O’ Neil). Olsen’s character has a surprisingly warmth to her that makes her easy to root for from the moment we are introduced to her and O’ Neil’s character pulls expertly on our heart strings and makes us feel a lot while revealing very little.

Overall, a needless Pixar sequel that while emotionally weighty doesn’t do enough to justify its existence. Also this one might not be good family viewing as like I said before it is madly depressing.

Pros.

The emotion.

The supporting characters.

Dory herself.

Cons.

It does not justify its own existence.

It is thoroughly depressing.

3/5

Reviewed by Luke    

Mrs Doubtfire: A Tribute To A Great

Mrs Doubtfire is a family comedy film directed by Chris Columbus. The plot sees Daniel (Robin Williams), lose custody of his kids, so to keep seeing them he pretends to be a Scottish nanny called Mrs Doubtfire. As the film goes on Daniel’s two lives become more and more unstable leading to an inevitable conclusion.

Before I get into the review I just want to say that the message of the film, if you lie to your ex wife and pretend to be someone else she will end up letting you see your kids again and warm to you, is more than a little off. However, it is family comedy movie so I guess we can look past it.

For the most part, message aside I thought this film was a barrel of laughs, Williams is giving it his all and you can really tell. He shines as both Daniel and Mrs Doubtfire, both have incredibly funny and memorable scenes that will easily put smile on your face. I also think that Williams shines in the more dramatic moments that are a lot more strait laced and serious. The final courtroom scene when he loses any hope of regaining custody of his kids is a tour de force for Williams as a dramatic actor, he more than sells the scene; you feel his pain.

My other very minor complaint is the ending is too sweet. I know that it is a family comedy, so it is hardly going to end with Daniel sitting alone depressed, but the ending didn’t feel real or earned to me, it felt too neat and unbelievable.

Overall, if you can get past the sappy ending and the questionable message of the film, then there is a lot of enjoyment to be had with this film; turn your brain off and be entertained.

Pros.

Robin Williams.

The comedy.

The drama.

The wider supporting cast.
Cons.

The message.

The ending.

3.5/5

Reviewed by Luke      

Toy Story: They’re Alive!

Toy Story is an animated family comedy film directed by John Lasseter. It shows us a world where Toys are sentient, alive, and exist souly to entertain their human owner; who of course have no idea that they are walking and talking when he/ she leaves the room. As the story begins, we meet a handful of these toys, but the main two that we follow for the rest of the film are Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), and Woody (Tom Hanks). Buzz is the new toy on the block and must adapt to his new life, whereas Woody knows the game and becomes jealous of Buzz and he seems to be the new favourite. The two go on an adventure together which proves eye-opening for the both of them.

This is a Pixar masterpiece for a reason. A fond remembrance made me put this film on and boy was I impressed, despite this film coming out over 20 years ago the animation and the themes put some of the animated films of recent years to shame in my mind. To say it holds up would be an understatement, it is timeless.

There are so many iconic moments in this film that would become legend as the series progresses, you get things like the abused toys rebelling against Sid, the first time we are introduced to the aliens and many more. It was nice to see these moments again.  

The heart of this film is the relationship between Buzz and Woody and the friendship that forms between them over the course of the film. I have to say watching it back all these years later it still got me; forget Disney magic this shows us the now extinct Pixar magic when they had a direct line to your heat.

Overall, if Toy Story was released now even in all of its late 90’s glory it would still impress people and blow them away, it transcends time and manages to make you feel the same sense of wonder and joy as the first time you watched it.

Pros.

The animation quality.

The theme song.

The fond sense of nostalgia.

The themes are still timely.

The friendship between Buzz and Woody.

Cons.

None

5/5

Reviewed by Luke    

Cheaper By The Dozen: Life After Kids

Cheaper By The Dozen is a family friendly comedy film directed by Shawn Levy, it is based on the 1950’s film of the same name. It follows mum and dad duo Tom (Steve Martin), and Kate (Bonnie Hunt), as they try and go through life with 12 kids, the film shows the ins and outs of the Baker family.

I just learnt when I watched this film recently that it was not a Disney film. It has that look to it, that very middle-class sense of chaos, the all-American dream where nothing bad every really happens and everything works out at the end of the day. This is live action formula Disney used with its’ live action movies in the 90s and the 00’s and still a little bit today. The fact that this film also adheres to it is what made me think it was a Disney film.

From a family friendly point of view this film has a lot of charm, it has some jokes, it has some heart, it has good positive messages; all round it is very wholesome. The humour didn’t work for me personally, I didn’t find any of the jokes making me laugh, but comedy is subjective. The heart of the film however did work on me, I thought the scene when Tom goes looking for his kid that has ran away is deeply touching and there is something in it that really resonates with me.

The performances are all what you would expect, that is not a bad thing. I think the best performance is probably from Martin himself and he is very believable as this dad character. I also think that Ashton Kutcher steals all the scenes he is in, he was the best supporting character.

Overall, this is a very formulaic family movie for good or bad that is what it is. The heart of the film connected with me in such a way that I loved it even if it was a bit cheesy and the humour didn’t work.
Pros.

Steve Martin.

Ashton Kutcher.

The heart.

The wholesomeness.

Cons.

It feels very formulaic and predictable.

The humour didn’t land.

3.5/5

Reviewed by Luke

Adventures In Babysitting: One Hell Of A Bad Night

Adventures In Babysitting is a comedy adventure film directed Chris Columbus. The plot sees babysitter Chris (Elisabeth Shue), looking after three kids, however her night soon takes a turn for the extreme when she takes said kids to the city to pick up her friend. From there a series of things go wrong and things go from bad to worse; leading to a comedic misadventure.

Some much of this film rests on the performance given by Shue, if she was bad it would turn out like the god-awful Disney Channel remake, however her performance is in my opinion one of the best of the decade. Shue manages to do kind and compassionate well, you can tell her character cares about the kids, she also manages to be a lot of fun and give you a sense that she is enjoying every single second of being on screen. An example of this would be the blues singing scene, which is a masterpiece in and off itself, plus Shue is actually quite a good singer.

Fun is the word I would use to describe this film, a lot of films are funny or charming, but only a few are fun. This film almost seems like an expertly crafted series of skits that are each great and then stitched together to form one hell of a film. This can be seen with the often-hilarious pop culture themed homages, by favourite was The Warriors esque scene on the train.

Another thing I will give this film credit for is that the child actors are actually tolerable in this film. Normally when a film has child actors, hell even teens, they are annoying, they don’t perform well, they’re distracting, and you can understand why Hollywood gets 30-year olds to pretend to be teens in films. However, Brad (Keith Coogan), Daryl (Antony Rapp) and especially Sara (Maia Brewton), are not only good, but crucially loveable, you warm to them over the course of the film and by the end, you realise that you have enjoyed the time you have spent with these characters.

My one critique of the film would be that some of the humour feels dated and a little out of touch with our modern sensibilities, however on the sliding scale of 80’s offensiveness this film is pretty mild, so that shouldn’t put you off!

Overall, an 80’s classic for a good reason, effortlessly charming and watchable and a guaranteed good time for all!

Pros.

It is fun.

The homages and references.

Elisabeth Shue.

The child stars are actually tolerable.

Cons.

Some of the humour has aged poorly.

4.5/5

Reviewed by Luke

A Long Way Down: An Anti-FeelGood Comedy

A Long Way Down is a comedy drama film directed by Pascal Chaumeil. The film is based on a novel of the same name by Nick Hornby. The plot follows four people who were all going to kill themselves on New Years Eve, but because of the arrival of the others didn’t. They then all agree to a life pact, an opposite suicide pact and agree to stay alive until Valentines Day. Through their shared pains and new-found friendships they learn to heal and find new reasons to live.

This is the sort of the film you would expect it to be, it is mushy and overly emotional, it ends with all of the characters happy and moved on from their respective issues and two of the character get together; incredibly predictably. That is my issue with this film, everything that you think will happen does. Anyone who has ever seen a similar film before could easily tell you exactly the twists and turns of this film before they even watch this. Formulaic is a word that easily describes this film.

Another thing that bothered me about this film is that considering it is a feel good, mushy film it is not all that happy. A lot of this film is the opposite of inspiring and uplifting, it is depressing. I get that the point is to show them as having nothing left to live for and then turn it around over the course of the film, but rather than do this the film feels bleak until the final 5 minutes and then you get a manic burst of happiness all at once.

Furthermore, Pierce Brosnan’s character is a peado, there is no way around it, the reason he wants to kill himself is because prior to the events of the film his character has an affair with a girl he thought was 25, but it turned out she was 15. We are told this from the off and are then expected to cheer for him and be glad he doesn’t kill himself, but you feel icky the whole time when you think about it. It feels like a needless inclusion for him to be a peado, he could have just had an affair that ruined his life, she didn’t need to be a child.

Overall, this is a feel-good film that isn’t particularly feel good, it wants you to cheer on a sex offender and it is incredibly predictable, so…….

Pros.

The cast is solid.

Cons.

It is depressing.

He is a peado.

It is predictable.

It is painfully average.

1/5

Finding Your Feet: Everyone Needs A Second Act

Finding Your Feet is a British romantic comedy directed by Richard Loncraine. The film follows Sandra (Imelda Staunton), a woman who finds out that her husband is cheating on her, as a result of this she moves out of her life of luxury and moves in with her hippy sister and sees a different side of life.

The plot of this film is fairly standard, it’s a wrong side of the tracks romance, where a rich person experience life and love outside of their rigid social circle and see that life in high society isn’t so bad.

It has been done before. However, I don’t think that the romance is the strong part of this film, I think the strong part of this film is the drama.

Though for the most part this film is light-hearted viewing, with nothing too challenging to process, there are some very raw emotional scenes that cut you right to the core. The scenes I am talking about are when Sandra is speaking at her sister funeral and when Charlie (Timothy Spall), goes to see his wife in the home and she doesn’t recognise him; these moments break your heart.

These scenes help the film to feel real, rather than just positive fluff, because just like in real life there are good times and bad. The performances in this film are first class as well, Staunton and Spall both give powerful performances that show to anyone who was silly enough to doubt them that they still have it.

You really end up caring about the characters and want to see them happy, when it looks like Sandra is going back to her husband and isn’t perusing her relationship with Charlie it breaks your heart and you actively say “noooooo” out loud.

Overall, this is your standard feel good family comedy, it makes you smile, it makes you laugh and every now and again it makes you cry and that is what sets it apart from other films like it; it has an ability to strike you right in your core and that makes it powerful. Yet another hit for Staunton and Spall.

Pros.

Great emotional stakes.

Spall and Staunton are both fantastic.

Very feel good.

Cons.

It is a bit too long.

The character don’t make decisions normal people would in the same situations.

2.5/5

Reviewed by Luke

Tigers Are Not Afraid: Narcos Vs Ghosts

Tigers Are Not Afraid is a Mexican crime fantasy film directed by Issa Lopez. The film is about a group of orphans who are on the run from the Mexican cartel, there is also a mythical supernatural element surrounding the lead character Estrella (Paola Lara) having 3 wishes that seemingly come true; leading to horrific consequences.

This film isn’t scary, when I first put it on, I was under the impression that Tigers Are Not Afraid was a horror film, how wrong I was. This film to sum up is an hour and a half in soul destruction, it is so sad, in near everyway. The real-world cartel drama is far more impactful than the supernatural elements, because cartels exist in real life and everything that the cartel does to the kids over the course of the film probably happens hundreds of times every day; it’s scary because its real.

The idea that none of the supernatural elements are real and are instead a way for the kids to cope with everything going on around them is very interesting. The film never comes out and says this is or isn’t what is happening, but it does elude to it several times.

Whenever any of the supernatural forces show up, the style of the film changes, pictures and images appear on walls, random colour cross the screen, I liked this stylistic choice and thought it gave the film a sense of originality as it was something I had ever seen before in a film.

This film is most certainly not for everyone as there are moments that are unrelentingly sad, horrible things happen to the kids in this film and that is really hard to watch. In the final conformation of the film we see the main boy get shot through the face, by the big bad drug lord and it is traumatising.

Overall, this film is something everyone should see once, it is beautiful and unique, but it is also soul destroying and tear provoking, so by all means watch it, but be warned it is not an easy watch.

Pros.

The art style change.

The originality.

The grim reality.

Cons

The horror doesn’t really work with the drama.

It is very unpleasant and hard to watch at times.

3.5/5

Reviewed by Luke

David Brent, Life On The Road: The Sadness Behind The Music.

David Brent, Life On The Road is a mockumentary comedy film directed by Ricky Gervais. The plot of the film shows David Brent (Ricky Gervais), after The Office, he is now older and more unhappy. The power dynamic in Brent’s life has changed and he is no longer the boss, rather he is abused victim of the office, as such he seeks out a new direction in life; becoming a successful professional singer.

This is very much a follow up David Brent film, rather than a sequel to The Office, other than Brent none of the characters from the series return. As such this film explores his character in far more detail, we learn the mental health impact The Office had on Brent and see that he has had a breakdown since it. As Gervais has said when talking about this film, Life On The Road ‘this film peels back the layers of Brent’s character’, this is true as we see him in a whole new light.

The sympathy we felt for Brent in The Office is double here, as we see that he is actually a very unstable individual and that he is incredibly lonely and he just wants a friend, some one who likes him for who he is. The final song of the film, when one of Brent’s band members buys him a snow machine, is touching and heart warming as we can feel just how much it means to him.

The cringe comedy that Brent’s previous outing was known for, is here in force, but there is also a sadness to it, as I suppose like Brent himself, we learn there is more to it then we first realised. The majority of the comedy comes in the form of Brent’s songs; which are surprisingly good. Forgone Conclusion as a band have more than a few hits, “Native American” might be my personal favourite, all of the songs in this film are both catchy and funny.

The ending of this film does provide a nice sort of ending for Brent as a character, it ties him up in a way that feels satisfying and gives a lot of closure to his character. I hope this is the end for him.

Overall, this is much more thoughtful, in depth look at Brent as a character, it has some great songs and some great laughs, if you love The Office you will love this.

Pros.

A nice ending for Brent.

Great songs.

A good amount of heart.

A lot of laughs.

Cons.

It’s not entirely necessary

4.5/5

Reviewed by Luke