Sunday 20 June 2010

Review: Wild Target

Year: 2010
Director: Jonathan Lynn
Screenplay: Lucinda Coxon
Starring: Bill Nighy, Emily Blunt, Rupert Grint, Martin Freeman, Gregor Fisher, Rupert Everett

Remakes eh? Who'd want them? Horrible aren't they? Well to some they are god awful things that are destroying the very fabric of cinema, along with 3-D, bad CGI, and of course Brett Ratner. Some of the things I've said have placed some shit streaks on the massive trousers of the medium. Remakes however, have been with us from the very beginning and while the frequency has been ramped up to almost ludicrous amounts, they are really nothing new.

It also seems that the generic outrage that many (including myself to a degree) have over remakes depends on the success of the original feature. So while many have expressed their fury over more "known" films...other remakes such as Insomnia (a remake of a 1997 Norwegian original) and now Wild Target; a remake of a lesser known 1993 french feature, get away with being replicas. So while larger projects have to fight against fanboys before they're even released, other are allowed to slip under the radar. Case in point: This remake version of Wild Target was considered "one of a kind" by imdb user jamiemarks-1.

While not one of a kind, Wild Target is an amusing piece. Jonathan Lynn (Clue) juggles the films dark undercurrents and continental feel, with breezy performances and a light touch. The film has it's flaws, but unlike the MacGruber and Death at a Funeral, this film not only kept it's tone and sense of place but kept me entertained throughout.

What struck me first was the Ealing-esuqe quality the film had. The humor had a certain charm to it that lightly reminded me of such entries as Kind Hearts and Coronets or The Ladykillers. It's timing is no way as strong as the classics of old. Hell, the storytelling doesn't even come close to the sharpness (it takes some predictable turns), however, the film had a similar old school vibe that I just really got on with. I found it hard not to smile at a stiff lipped Bill Nighy, having a crisis of conscience. He just does it so well.

Same goes for Emily Blunt whose sass and sex appeal inject an energy sorely missing from the last endeavor I saw her in (The Wolfman). It's this energy that finds me enjoying her much more in these smaller films than the larger affair. It seems clear to me that with something like Wild Target Blunt is allowed to be more infectious with her character. Where in the wolfman, her role could have been filled by any brunette with an English accent, here she manages to slowly give an irritating character a decent amount of warmth. I'm sure the fact that she's gorgeous in this may have helped things, but in all honesty, looks aside, I did get on with her performance. I also didn't mind Rupert Grint doing his Ron Wesley thing. His turn isn't a stretch but it's one that reminded me why I considered him to be the strongest out of the Hogwarts trio.

It's the likability of the three leads that kept me going throughout Wild Target. It's their performances that allowed me to see past the frustrating editing which hack away at certain aspects of the story in exchange for quicker pacing. They also allowed me to forget the lack of a solid conclusion that really effects the last act of the film, once again down to the bloody editing effecting the narrative of the movie. But as a small British film Wild Target does what it need to do to pass away a good 90 minutes. It didn't overreach and did enough to make me grin on a sunny afternoon.

Review: MacGruber

Year: 2010
Director: Jorma Taccone
Screenplay: Will Forte & John Solomon & Jorma Taccone
Starring: Will Forte, Kristin Wiig, Ryan Philippe, Val Kilmer, Powers Boothe, Maya Rudolph

When it comes to Saturday Night Lives films, it's a general consensus that most favour the likes of The Blues Brothers and Waynes World while trashing most of the rest (It's Pat gets crapped on a lot). Many believe that this is down to taking a one note skit and stretching it for 90 minutes. A difficult task, but one that can succeed depending on how creative the film makers can be. The Blues Brothers is a heady mix of organized chaos, car crashes and damn fine music with a (then) dependable double act leading the mix. Wayne's World, like Dumb and Dumber or Beavis and Butthead, plays very smart with their dumb leads. Film's like MacGruber is a one trek pony of a movie about a vulgar MacGyver wannabe, with jokes as soggy as tea soaked digestives. It's a film that got one or two laughs from me but considering a ticket for the cinema can cost someone up to £10 for one ticket, £5 a laugh, isn't a good average.

A big problem is that MacGruber (A woeful Forte) is a complete dick. A man with no charm but bags of cockiness. He's stupid and ignorant, but the film doesn't have enough self awareness to truly make light of this, so what we get is naff scene after naff scene of an idiot doing stupid and/or childish things that we're not particularly interested in. The worst thing is there's things in the film and the MacGruber characters that if used more/correctly I would have been keeling over in laughter with. A running joke involves MacGruber hating on a driver who badmouths his car. When a character finds MacGruber's notebook later on and sees the hate take on a obsessive Torrance like streak, the film finds humour in that scenes abstract craziness, the same goes for an over the top sex scene that runs a couple of beats too long the first time but enters an otherworldly nuttiness that brought a juvenile smile to my face.

If MacGruber decided to head more towards that sort of territory I could see myself enjoying the film more. But the film doesn't care enough. In fact so much of what it tries is inept, but with a script that can't even dish up some creative swearing (despite that being the films primary weapon), are you surprised?

Comedies like this also need actors with comic timing, something that co-star Kristin Wiig does have but doesn't use. This isn't her fault mind has the films pitiful direction does nothing to highlight the films comic moments...when they do actually arise. Ryan Phillippe looks far too embarrassed to be of any help, while Val Kilmer doesn't even bother to make what could have been an amusing role... actually funny. The less said about Forte the better. This is nothing but a performance of forced mugging, idiotic shouting and a bad haircut.

Films like this make me sigh because unlike a film that tries to hard, MacGruber doesn't even seem to be trying. It's a film that has an opening riff on Rambo that Hot Shots Part Deux did better almost twenty years ago. It's simplistic humour wants to appeal to the youths of the audiences, but is based on 80's movies that they wouldn't give a crap about. It wants to be crass and vulgar, but can't even be bother to reach Apatow levels. In fact any teen with a youtube account and a video camera could whip up something like this and it would probably be funnier. Shorter too.