The Happytime Murders is all about subversion and relies on it to carry through with a raunchy comedy. We’ve become used to seeing Jim Henson productions of colorful puppets have a wholesome tone that I’m sure it was a delightful shock to advertise that Brian Henson, son of Jim Henson and director The Muppet Christmas Carol, would make something so filthy. Indeed, the movie does feature felt figures having sex, taking drugs, and pushing the profanity. And, unfortunately, that’s all it has to offer. No engaging story, no interesting characters; just puppets cursing and ejaculating silly-string.
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If modern romantic comedies seem cheaply assembled with contorted premises for laughs and kisses, Crazy Rich Asians is a classic return to the most decadent of rom-com cinema. No expense has been spared to present one of the most lavish, sweet, and memorable films, past a breezy and beautiful date night experience. You don’t need to be Asian, rich, or even crazy to appreciate this modern fairytale.
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There’s an enduring spirit to the characters of the Hundred Acre Wood that has made Disney’s many iterations of Winnie the Pooh enjoyable if not as clever. While the stuffed creatures of the classic books may have been slung in everything from direct-to-video specials and TV puppets, Pooh still has an adorable wisdom to his silly nature of misunderstandings and curiosity. This point is best proven in Christopher Robin, a film that tries to place Pooh and company in a CGI/live-action hybrid. The antics of the honey-craving bear and his iconic cohorts hold up far better than a beat-you-over-the-head story about growing up.
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It’s time to make the chimichangas once more, but Deadpool 2 doesn’t exactly bring a new recipe to the table, more or less reheating his fourth-wall breaking insanity with discerning splashes of new characters to ally and assault. Is it still as funny and biting as the previous film was with savaging the unstoppable superhero cinema franchises? Absolutely, but between the laughs is a lingering element of sequel-itis and overstuffing, a common trait of most superhero sequels that could use a good ribbing. The film may be knowing enough to mock Fox’s lack of character licensing and their poor decisions with previous Marvel movies, but it could stand to defy convention a little more as it defies just about all other expectations of the genre.
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Color me impressed that Ben Falcone has managed to conceive a film for his talented wife Melissa McCarthy that gives her a platform to be funny AND likable. She plays a woman so full of charm and pep that it’s easy enough to pull for her plight while she saunters through with silly. She’s perhaps too adorable in her Back to School style narrative, but after suffering through her most unlikable of characters in Tammy and The Boss, a comedy this light in premise and whimsical in humor is a breath of fresh air. The third time is most definitely a charm.
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It was so refreshing to see Adam Sandler in a capable comedy of The Meyrowitz Stories that something as tedious as The Week Of is a depressing return to form. It’s back to basics for Sandler’s Happy Madison production template, pursuing family-centric comedy that outdoes itself to be as obnoxious as possible for replicating Father of the Bride. The shift in stories that an older Sandler can relate to proves that the aged comedian is maturing in premise but still stuck in the low-brow mud.
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The return for the raunchy highway patrolmen that functioned more like a fraternity doesn’t come roaring back with a timely new story to tell. It doesn’t even return with an original premise, adopting the same simple staging of a drug conspiracy to keep the boys busy. Clearly, the Broken Lizard troupe wanted to return to their most notable theatrical comedy because they had a new batch of Canadian and sex jokes they wanted to sling on the big screen. Despite a handful of duds, there’s some clever comedy of mustaches and Canadians that hits high enough to improve the troupe’s laugh average.
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It’s refreshing to see Wes Anderson bring his dark, dry, and gorgeous gift for comedy to the realm of animation. In a medium that seems to favor the two tones of family-friendly romps and festival-friendly art pieces, Isle of Dogs finds that sweet spot in the middle of the fantastical and the absurd. It’s a parable strong enough to sell its lore and weirdness of a dog-centric adventure in the retro-future, but not above having a laugh with the very concept itself. The consistent surrealness places it alongside the likes of Watership Down and Plague Dogs, films that may leave you baffled at how they were approved, but all the more pleased that they were.
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I know the story of Peter Rabbit, the blue-jacket wearing rabbit that didn’t listen to his mother and was almost killed by Mr. McGregor for entering his garden. Ah, but this isn’t that same Beatrix Potter tale. Some executive or producer thought that classic book was too old and lame to be hip with today’s kids. Today’s Peter Rabbit needs to be a character that is rude, crude, and condescendingly snarky with his slapstick battles against McGregor set to the tune of today’s top radio music. Also, he kills people.
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Tommy Wiseau is a fascinating director. The Disaster Artist begins with interviews of real celebrities talking about him and his film The Room as if he was a genius that had created a masterpiece. This includes actors such as Adam Scott, wishing he could go back in time to be on that set, and directors J. J. Abrams and Kevin Smith who applaud Wiseau. Were they joking or were they serious? Or both? For the knowing crowd at the screening who had all seen The Room, myself included, we started laughing quite early at these statements. This is a film which presents an intoxication of bad filmmaking that is so potent it’s easy to get lost in the ridiculous haze of the enigma that is Tommy.
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