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Posts Tagged ‘comedy’

Cool Runnings

Based loosely on a true story, this movie follows Jamaica’s first Olympic bobsled team during the late ’80s.  It’s not the most accurate historical film, but it has plenty of humorous moments and sympathetic characters.  The acting is stellar, including John Candy’s surprisingly serious role.  It’s very entertaining and very well put together.  It’s good, clean fun for the whole family.  There could easily be a few complaints about the historical inaccuracies, especially the more dramatic moments, but the story is compelling.  It’s worth a look whether you like historical movies, comedies, or sports films.

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This movie was part of a series of films that Disney made in the ’60s that starred Kurt Russell as part of a team of students at a college.  Each one involved a humorous and sci-fi sort of scenario, and this one’s no different.  Russell’s character gets zapped while in contact with a computer and winds up with a super-powered brain that lets him ace various exams and scholastic tournaments.  The acting is not bad, and the story is told at a comfortable pace.  The humor arises largely from the situation and the absurdity of it all.  Of course, there’s a fundamental misunderstanding about how computers work, but that’s common even in today’s movies.  There’s only one female character with a name and dialogue, but that’s not unexpected for a movie from that decade.  Disappointing, but not unexpected.  The rest of the characters are sympathetic if somewhat basic.  There’s also a side-plot about the main character losing sight of his friends and himself and another plot involving some gambling gangsters.  It’s a light sort of fun little film, friendly and old-fashioned.  If you like old Disney movies, it’ll be right up your alley.

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Clue

This goofy comedy from 1985 is both silly and clever.  It’s full of famous names and faces, playing their roles to perfection.  The jokes range from highbrow to very low, but they are always presented perfectly.  There are callbacks to various famous fictional mysteries, as well as history.  The film skewers both popular culture and real life.  It’s all a great deal of fun, held together by excellent acting and directing.  There is always something humorous going on, even if it’s just in the background, and every character has something to do in every scene.  The whole thing is based nominally on a board game of the same title, but the entire plot is pure entertainment and originality.  You’ll get plenty of laughs out of it all and absolutely nothing that will make you think too hard.  Trying to figure out whodunit is a lot of fun, too.  You won’t regret this one.

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This CGI comedy/adventure pair of films is entertaining for anyone of any age.  The humor is solid and a bit sneaky at times, the voice acting is excellent and full of big names, and the animation is well-done and fun.  Even the music is great.  The whole story is fun and insanely ridiculous.  It’s also fast-paced and frenetic.  The premise is easy to follow, with a food-making machine gone haywire, but the dialogue is quick and clever and there’s always something going on in the background that will hold your attention.  The second film has the added intrigue of moral questions about sentience and the right to life, but they are still handled in a humorous and fun way.  Both movies have great endings and are highly entertaining.

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Chicken Run

From the creators of Wallace and Gromit, this weird little stop-motion comedy is family-friendly without losing any of its humor.  Oddly, it has just as much drama as comedy.  The titular chickens are in a situation that’s similar to a POW camp or prison workhouse, and their efforts to escape make up the bulk of the story.  They get some help from an American rooster who isn’t what he pretends to be.  The voice acting is good, and the animation is unsurprisingly excellent.  The music is nice, if a bit old-fashioned, but the entire plot seems to take place in an older era, anyway.  It’s an entertaining little film, maybe a little goofy for those who prefer their comedies more satirical or cutting.  But if you like anything from Aardman, you’ll like this one.

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Home Alone/2/3/4/5

The first Home Alone is now a well-known classic.  It made its star famous and rightly so.  He may not have been the best actor, but he had a unique style.  The two crooks he goes up against played their parts to perfection, and the kid’s relatives are characters that will be familiar to anyone with a big family.  The old trope of booby-trapping one’s home to stave off burglars is the main conceit of this story, and it is played to perfection.  There’s a somewhat sappy ending, but the humor is done very well.

The first sequel is not quite as good as its predecessor.  The same kid, family, and criminals are back, but this time, little Kevin is not at home.  He’s in New York, living in the lap of luxury, thanks to a scam involving his dad’s credit card.  Once again, there’s a sappy ending and plenty of physical humor, although this time it’s a bit more cartoonish, including a scene that sees one of the bad guys turn into a skeleton because he’s being electrocuted.  The acting is still pretty good, and the hijinks are almost as funny as the first time.

Our original hero grew out of the plot point that being home alone is scary and dangerous, so the third movie gives us a new protagonist, family, and group of crooks.  Instead of cat burglars, now we have international criminals.  This gives the movie a slightly different tone at first, but we’re back in familiar slapstick territory as soon as the kid realizes that they’re casing his neighborhood.  The cartoonish antics are in excellent form here.  The villains might be more serious, but the tricks they fall prey to are not.  The acting is all right, if a bit too sweet at times.  The background music is a step up from the traditional Christmas carols the first two films used.  My biggest complaint would be the use of the first female crook in the franchise.  Her fellow mooks may be average criminals, but she seems to be particularly sadistic and anger-prone.  This is a typical Hollywood tactic when creating female villains.  After all, women can’t possibly be bad guys unless they’re particularly twisted, right?  She’s also the only one who seems to have been a gymnast at some point.  But everything else about this movie is acceptable or entertaining.  It’s a good move away from the originals, despite being so different.

The fourth film in the series made the mistake of trying to be too much like the original without having anything from the original.  It claims to be a direct sequel, but the main character is younger than he was in the second one, his parents are now divorced and have no other kids (they had half a dozen originally), and none of the characters are played by the same actors.  Only one of the original two burglars are back (played by a different actor, of course), and he has his girlfriend with him.  Both of them are demonstrably stupider than he was in the first film, which is really saying something.  There’s more physical slapstick but also a ham-handed attempt to modernize with technology.  The acting is pretty bad, and the whole thing feels like a bad tv movie sequel that never should have been made.  Actually, that’s what it was, so you could give it points for that.

The fifth film, subtitled Holiday Heist, is a considerable improvement after the fourth one.  Once again, we’re watching a different family and set of crooks.  The acting is better, although two of the burglars are particularly goofy and stupid.  But there’s also more character development and plot going on.  The attempt to modernize through the use of technology actually works smoothly this time and feels more realistic.  Details about all the people are plentiful, lending an air of believability to them.  There’s even a bit of racial diversity, with one of the criminals being black.  The humor, both physical and verbal, keeps everything light and fun.  There’s less of a feeling of danger this time as the criminals don’t seem to be as ruthless or competent.  This one is entertaining in a slightly different fashion from the third movie, but it is leagues better than the fourth one.  All of them are different enough from the first two that they could be considered a new franchise entirely.

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Gremlins

This strange classic is a mix of comedy and horror, not quite as scary as some of today’s films but definitely not for the youngest kids.  Even the comedy elements aren’t for everyone, tending toward the dark and pop culture.  But if you’re the sort who enjoys this sort of movie, you’ve probably already seen it.  The design and atmosphere of everything in this show are amazing and pitch-perfect.  The special effects are well done if a bit cheesy by today’s standards.  The acting is excellent, and the writing is sympathetic and interesting, making it easy to get involved in the story.  The plot is perhaps a bit simple, but there’s always some element of intrigue, action, or humor going on.  There’s a little bit of familiar but uncomfortable racism in the classic wise old Chinese man character, but he’s well portrayed.  There are almost no ill portrayals of women; in fact, they tend to be as strong and interesting as the men.  The mother character in particular is tough and manages to fight off several gruesome little monsters by herself without transforming into the stereotypical badass type.  The main protagonist is your typical boy-next-door type, the mogwai creature is cute, the gremlins are hideous and a little goofy.  Everything fits well together and makes for a scary little Christmas story.  Most people probably wouldn’t classify this one as a Christmas film, but it takes place over Christmas, there’s plenty of Christmas music and decorations and lots of snow, and the little fuzzy creature that starts it all is a Christmas present to our hero from his dad.  This movie is not a feel-good type of Christmas story, but it could be a refreshing respite from all of that if you’re looking for something a little creepy and a little tongue-in-cheek.

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