Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013)

Anchorman 2Released: December 18, 2013. Directed by: Adam McKay. Starring: Will Ferrell, Christina Applegate, Paul Rudd. Runtime: 119 min.

Staying true to the original’s colours, “Anchorman 2” starts out with absurd humour: Ron Burgundy being chased by a shark. But that’s not how the story begins, it’s just how the film begins; our story starts in New York, at the latter end of 1980. Ron Burgundy (Will Ferrell) gets fired from his reporting gig, and, three months later, he is offered a spot on an innovative news channel called GNN, which is going to be the first ever 24-hour news channel. Ron has to get the news team back together where he reunites with Champ Kind (David Koechner), Brian Fantana (Paul Rudd) and Brick Tamland (Steve Carell). Together, they will change the face of broadcast journalism without even realizing it.

“Anchorman 2” is another very good collaboration between director Adam McKay and star Will Ferrell. It might not be as good as the original, but it still brings about some very successful and consistent laugh-out-loud moments. It isn’t as great as the original because it follows a storyline that is similar to the first one. Very similar, it seems to me. Ron gets too big of a head sometimes and the story teaches that important people can re-route his life and show him the way. These certain people are his ex-wife Veronica Corningstone (whom he splits up with when she gets a promotion), and his son Walter (Judah Nelson) who is annoying and cheesy. He gets a few chuckles, but that doesn’t make up for his crappy presence.

It seems to me Walter is in the film so it doesn’t feel so familiar to the first, but the truth is, he just bloats the plot too much. The film is a minute shy of two hours, and it’s too long. He is an okay intention from writers McKay and Ferrell, but it’s a misstep – because there shouldn’t be cuteness in a film that has so much bizarrely funny humour. It’s still fairly friendlier than an average comedy as it’s PG-13 and it has only one use of the F-bomb. The film has some great satire of the over-saturated news market because of all the stations it has, which allows enables the flick to have a lot of cameos that are alone worth the admission price.

James Mardsen portrays the villain of this film, practically being the new rival, one who replaces Vince Vaughn of the first. Ron’s ego is also an enemy to himself. His relationships with others is funny, like his African American boss Linda Jackson (Meagan Good). If you thought it was challenging for him to have a woman co-anchoring with him in the first; now he’s working for a female black person! Sweet Odin’s raven! Suffice to say, racism is featured here and there, but it’s handled lightly and in comedic ways. Anyway, Ron is consistently funny, even when his ego is huge, because Ferrell is great at being a cocky asshole. The supporting characters are still pretty awesome. Brian Fantana is still the sex fiend he has always been, and Champ Kind is pretty good, he’s hit and miss for me. Brick Tamland  is freaking awesome and so very funny. He is random and I love it. He gets a love interest this time around found in Kristen Wiig which is comedic.

Of course it’s comedic, since it is a comedy. This might not be the greatest comedy of 2013 but it’s consistently funny and even funnier if it is your type of humour. I would probably place this in my top 5 favourite comedies of 2013, however. I’d really like to see this again sometime soon, because it is quite entertaining, if too long. It’s also exciting to see the news men make news so entertaining for once, because I’d actually watch the news if it were more like this. The wait was also too long for this sequel, so if they make another involving ageism this time, it better come soon.

Score77/100

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Admission (2013)

AdmissionAdmission

Release Date: March 22, 2013

Director: Paul Weitz

Stars: Tina Fey, Paul Rudd, Nat Wolff

Runtime: 117 min

Tagline: Let someone in

Portia (Tina Fey) is an admissions officer at Princeton University, who swears she just isn’t a sadist who drives on saying no. She seems to be afraid of commitment and she’s a very reserved person. This year, after so many years, Princeton is now number two. In the country or worldwide, you might ask? Who knows, the screenwriter never bothers to tell us.

Anyway, she and this other admissions officer named Corinne (Gloria Reuben) go head to head for the Dean of Admissions job, but when she meets John Pressman (Paul Rudd) and a kid named Jeremiah (Nat Wolff), she must question where her priorities stand. Pressman tells Portia that Jeremiah just might be her son she gave up for adoption years ago.

Admission is a little flick all about relationships, self-sacrifice, and finding middle ground and learning it’s not all about you. The plot isn’t that good, first of all. It’s really safe and probably the most generic plot of the year thus far. It’s also rather pointless with little fairly well-formed plot points here and there. Mark (Michael Sheen), Portia’s boyfriend of ten years leaves her for another woman. Then he just keeps showing up at random moments and it really starts to get tedious. He doesn’t seem to offer much to the plot, but at least it gives Portia an excuse to use when she’s acting all moody, when she’s really being affected by finding her son. She fights for him to get into Princeton and she really seems to believe in him because he seems like some sort of prodigy with great SAT scores without taking any SAT prep classes. She also has some kind-of relationship with Paul Rudd’s character, and Rudd’s character has an adopted son who is sick and tired of travelling all over the place. Portia also has unresolved issues with her mother, Susannah (Lily Tomlin). It all seems like a lot could be going on, but at the same time, it feels like nothing is happening.

Some people who have given up a child for adoption could relate to Portia’s situation and understand that she wants to do anything for Jerimah, not being there his whole life. That’s one of the real-life emotions brought in, but that’s about it. Also, this is a bit of a commentary on how competitive schools are these days. One has to be extremely impressive to get in, and there isn’t any secret formula to getting into Princeton. In the scene where the officers are going through the best candidates, it allows for something fairly original. When they are reading the candidate, the candidate shows up in the corner, and if they get accepted, they stay put, but if they get denied, they just fall through a trapdoor. It’s a little funny. Though, this is only a tiny commentary, as the bigger plot points cloud any potential it had to prosper.

I must admit that this film’s biggest crime is that it isn’t that funny. There are chuckles throughout – like Lily Tomlin wielding a rifle – sure, but I must deny that the film has memorable laugh-out-loud moments or even any big charm. This is extremely generic and a very, very forgettable affair. When trying to even remember the funniest moments a few hours later, you might have to scratch your head for a good minute before you come up with anything. It’s fairly romantic, but it might have just worked better as a drama with some solid moments of comedy. The completely unrewarding third act forgets to make the audience laugh for a good ten minutes, as everyone’s too busy being upset and feeling sorry for themselves.

Everyone’s okay in their roles, at least. Paul Rudd is his usual self in yet another generic comedy. Tina Fey, though, has still yet to make a big splash in the movie world. Mean Girls was great, sure, but when you think of that movie, you think of Lindsay Lohan, “Raise your hand if you’ve ever been victimized by Regina George,” and “Karen, you just can’t go around asking people why they’re white,” etc.; not the writer and supporting star, Tina Fey. Though, I hope she could eventually capitalize on the big screen. She still is a huge star on the small screen, because whenever someone may say: SNL female veteran, hilarious Golden Globe host, or 30 Rock, Tina Fey is often one of the first names to come to mind. Though, she’s just okay in this, and has a few funny lines.

In a nutshell: Admission tries to have a good amount of heart. Though, it usually ends up being generic, not charming enough, sometimes bland, safe, and kind-of unrewarding in the end. It just goes along and eventually gets to the end, but a lot later than you wish it to. It isn’t easy to recommend, but if you still feel the need to see it, skip it in theaters and, like the list so many Princeton applicants get put on, waitlist it.

56/100

Wanderlust (2012)

WanderlustWanderlust

Release Date: February 24, 2012

Director: David Wain

Stars: Paul Rudd, Jennifer Aniston, Malin Åkerman

Runtime: 98 min

Tagline: Leave your baggage behind

George (Paul Rudd) and Linda (Jennifer Aniston) are a Manhattan couple suddenly stricken with unemployment. They must relocate to George’s brother’s place in Atlanta to survive in this dog-eat-dog world. Along the way, they stop at Elysium Bed and Breakfast, a small commune away from society where hippies get high and play instruments. George starts to enjoy this place, and when he actually gets to his brother’s place – he realizes he doesn’t want to be bossed around in what may be his last days on earth, he wants it to be filled with love and enjoyment. The couple agree to a trial-run of two weeks at Elysium, a place where free love rules. At first Linda is skeptical, but eventually, she starts to enjoy it a little more than he does.

As far as strange mainstream comedies go, Wanderlust is pretty high up on the list. There’s a running theme of peace and love throughout the feature; but basically, it’s about the relationship and struggles between George and Linda. George has more of a conservative attitude, and Linda’s attitude changes over time to match that of Elysium. George, as a man, says he’s okay with the free love attitude – but he really isn’t. This brings rise to some very poor communication problems, but it also brings rise to the funniest scene of the film where George wants to put his diack in Eva (Malin Åkerman). Really and truly, that’s the only scene that could get me to laugh my ass off in any way, thanks to the comedic talent of Paul Rudd. Other than that, there is usually just some chuckles and little laughs along the way. The only sort-of good characters are George, Linda (if you can dismiss her irritating behaviour and Anniston’s traditional rom-com humour), and Eva (but it really helps that Åkerman is really sexy). Though, the characters portrayed by Jordan Peele and Joe Lo Truglio are pretty funny. Alan Alda’s character is good at first, but he soon gets irritating. The most annoying character is Kathy, a character whose jokes don’t make you laugh, they make you uncomfortable. She is unbearably irritating and frustrating.

There’s a message of leave the real world behind and see what life is like without all the technology and the influence of the media. This is a pleasant message because it is never shoved down the audience’s throat, and it is only subtly evident.

Wanderlust falls victim to some romantic comedy cliches, but not enough to make the film unbearable. It’s fairly predictable, sometimes dull, sometimes obnoxious, and it has a lot of hit-and-miss characters and jokes. It’s usually fun and entertaining, too, though.The purpose isn’t too evident, but Rudd, Aniston and Åkerman carry it well. The worst thing about this film is probably the nudity: there is a lot of nudity, but the ones taking off their clothes aren’t the ones you’d want to see nude (and when Aniston is, she’s censored).

65/100

This Is 40 (2012)

This is 40This is 40

Release Date: December 21, 2012

Director: Judd Apatow

Stars: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Megan Fox

Runtime: 134 min

Tagline: The sort-of sequel to ‘Knocked Up’

What a great step up from 2009’s Funny People.

It may not be the best feature for a family movie day this holiday season, but it’s a great choice of comedy to see with a few buddies. It’s certainly a better choice than The Guilt Trip. It’s good enough to see with your mother, that is if you’re mature enough to sit through a sex scene or some other inappropriate content.

This follows the relationship of Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) five years after the events of Knocked Up (don’t worry folks, Katherine Heigl isn’t in this). As expected, their relationship is still facing a lot of issues. Their two daughters don’t enjoy each other’s company and Pete’s father Larry (Albert Brooks) is always asking for money while they’re facing some financial troubles themselves. Pete’s band (Graham Parker) for the record label isn’t selling that well, and the sexy employee (Desi, portrayed by Megan Fox) is probably stealing from them. Will the pretty couple overcome their problems and stick together through thick and thin?

Probably. It’s a Judd Apatow flick, and it’s around the holiday season, so it has to be feel-good. It usually is, albeit numerous conflict. Though, it’s Apatow and he has the fine ability to write in a stellar amount of humour to their long list of issues. It is a comedy, right?

While it is hilarious through and through, the issues that offer voids in their relationship are sometimes loud and obnoxious. There’s hardly a second where either Pete and Debbie aren’t wanting to bite off each other’s heads or their oldest daughter, Sadie (Maude Apatow), isn’t telling to the youngest daughter Charlotte (Iris Apatow) to take a hike. Preferably on Mt. Everest. The conflicts are vast – but the characters are great and they’re brought to life with each charming comedic presence. There has to be conflict, though, as this is an honest observation of what being a parent is all about.

The conflict between the two daughters is mainly irritating, but it doesn’t mean it gets in the way of enjoyment. At least, that much. It’s sadder than anything. Sadie is just going through those tough teenage years and she doesn’t have the time for a younger sister always bothering her. Charlotte just wants a little attention and she’s adorable, so she should just give it to her. Unfortunately, each sibling knows how hard that has the tendency to be.

It’s nice to watch Pete and Debbie try to overcome their differences because it’s a ride that doesn’t overstay its welcome, thanks to the real charm of the cast and the great incorporation of large and hearty laughs. This feature is around for the right time of season because Christmas is all about coming together as a family.

Pete and Debbie try their hardest as parents, but they’re not perfect. They also blame some of their troubles on their own parents for being such screw-ups. Pete’s pretty upset by his father for making him lend him $80, 000 over a few years – and Debbie’s upset with her own because he, Ollie (John Lithgow), is hardly there for her. This conflict is attacked during Pete’s big 40th birthday celebration. There, the great Jason Segel and Chris O’Dowd fight over the sexy Megan Fox.

Those supporting characters are awesome, but the real scene-stealer is the great Melissa McCarthy, playing a potty-mouthed and angry mother who goes a little crazy after Pete and Debbie offend her and her son.

While this is driven by pure and fresh comedy, the not-so subtle conflicts make it feel a bit too over-dramatic in areas. Though, Apatow does have to get the point across somehow. The film is a perfect analysis of how a family should try to overcome their differences and stick together, in this modern society that has really high divorce rates. Oh, and get through it during a mid-life crisis, especially. The message does get across finely with many laughs and conflict, and an advertisement or two for iPhones, other apple products, and TV’s Lost. It’s entertaining through and through, and your face may just hurt a little in more than one scene. It’s no Knocked Up, but it’s a satisfying little sort-of sequel. It finishes as the third best comedy of the year, just behind Ted and the best of the year, 21 Jump Street.

80/100

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012)

Release Date: September 28, 2012. Director: Stephen Chbosky. Stars: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller. Runtime: 1hr, 43 min. Tagline: We are infinite.

Not any writer has quite analyzed teen angst as well as John Hughes, but Chbosky comes pretty close.

* Alternate opening hook: And some people said Project X was a good teen film, anyone can take a Super 8 camera and film garbage, but not everyone can create something quite as beautiful as this.

Meet Charlie (Logan Lerman), a young freshman outsider who has to deal with his own inner demons of the past, depression, and loneliness, and the death of his best friend. Charlie is extremely nervous for his first day of high school, and doesn’t want any old nice teacher to be the only friend he makes. He encounters two fellow outcasts, Sam (Emma Watson) and her hysterical step brother Patrick (Ezra Miller). They take him under their wings, show him lessons of love, pain, friendship, belonging, and overcome being a complete wallflower.

Stephen Chbosky directs, and adapts his own novel for the big screen. And he does it quite well. The cast really fits each character, and their performances are awesome for such a young cast.

There are some really cool visuals, like when one of the main characters is on drugs. The writing is brilliant through and through. One can sense that The Perks of Being a Wallflower is set in the 1990s (according to the film’s IMDb trivia page, it’s set during the 1991-92 school year) because of all the vinyl records, wardrobe, mix tapes and not CDs, the typewriter (some of you may not have even heard of this stuff..)and the  older music. This film is a perfect example of a film that offers a great atmosphere, and it’s  one that the viewer can really fall head over heels in love with.

For the majority of people – and high schoolers especially – it’s a film that is very easy to relate to – everyone feels out of place at some point in their lives, don’t they? A lot of the characters are easily relatable; and they are all substantially, and utterly effectively, developed. They all have great depth, and each have some sort of inner demons. When Charlie finally shakes off his inner cloak [feeling] of invisibility (I don’t think it’s a spoiler, it’s obvious he would – and I just had to do the Harry Potter pun), it’s enough to fill you with happiness. Just remember though, these loner kids have dreams too, just like you or me. There is a great sense of poignancy, and can easily cause the viewer to get choked up in several areas because of sensitive subjects. The poignancy is large, and the comedy is also hysterical. The funniest character is definitely Patrick. There’s a lot of romance mixed in, Logan Lerman’s character was kissing people left, right and centre. The mix of genres is beautiful, and the film can definitely make the viewer feel extremely emotional at one point, and fall-off-their-chair-laughing at the next minute. That is always an aspect of films that I truly admire.

The depiction of the high school world feels a little off, because I know I’ve never seen a high school quite so brutal. Granted, the majority of high school films depict it in that fashion, so I can’t hold it against this film for following that cliché.

The three primary actors were extremely impressive, Logan Lerman proved he’s an incredible actor; Emma Watson proved she’s destined for greatness (like you couldn’t already tell, she has great star power); and Ezra Miller proved that he’s a diverse actor that can take on a great list of roles, from the terrifying Kevin in We Need to Talk About Kevin, to a flamboyant character like Patrick.

Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, Dylan McDermott, Kate Walsh, Johnny Simmons, Nina Dobrev, Mae Whitman, Erin Wilhelmi, Melanie Lynskey, Paul Rudd and Joan Cusack star in this film.

The profound, and unique, analysis of teenage angst is accurate, brilliantly touching, and heartbreakingly poignant. Thinking back, there isn’t a flaw visible in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The performances are great, the story is awesome, and the atmosphere it offers is perfect. It has a cool use of visuals and flashbacks when they are there. It also has a nice use of voice-over narration from Charlie in some scenes. This is a film that I didn’t want to end, and I can’t wait to watch it again (and I didn’t even mind being choked up half the freaking time!). That’s one heck of a definition for an enjoyable experience. It’s one of my favourite experiences and atmospheres of 2012 – it’s a must-see. It’s a fine classic of 2012 that can define a generation as well as John Hughes could.

It deserves to be seen; so get off the couch, grab a few friends – but if you don’t have any, it’s okay to be a wallflower* – and go see this movie!

*For those of you who do not know, a wallflower is just slang for a loner. I certainly didn’t know what it meant before I saw this, so hopefully this may be helpful information.

100/100