Film Friday #224

Sweet Home Alabama (2002)

Successful New York fashion designer Melanie Smooter (Reese Witherspoon) feels like every element of her life has fallen into place when her boyfriend, Andrew Hennings (Patrick Dempsey) – the mayor’s (Candice Bergen) son – proposes. The only complication is that while Andrew knows Melanie is from Alabama, he’s never met her family. He also doesn’t know that she’s still married to her deadbeat childhood sweetheart, Jake (Josh Lucas). Melanie makes an emergency trip to her home town to get Jake to sign divorce papers and hopefully get out as soon as possible. It’s not long before Melanie realises that she’s not actually better than everyone she left behind and that she might still have some feels for Jake, who has slowly been trying to turn his life around in the hope of winning her back. None of which is helped by the surprise arrival of Andrew and his mother. I love Reese Witherspoon but this really  isn’t her best work. Sweet Home Alabama is about as predictable as it gets and Melanie is more than a bit of an arsehole – what kind of person gets involved in a relationship where they lie to their partner about every element of their past? I am sure that it seemed like a good idea to add quite a dark back story to why Melanie fled Alabama but it feels really out of place with how frothy the rest of the narrative is. Very skippable. 2/5


This really is not the time for a hand massage!

You Laugh But it’s True (2011)

The South African stand-up comedy is what one would refer to as under-developed. A scarred and divided past means taboo subjects, audiences that are still learning to share the same space and some very different definitions of what funny actually is. Rising out of this has been one major star in the form of Trevor Noah, a mixed race comedian from Soweto who has managed to capture not only the hearts and funny bones of South Africans but also those of audiences around the world. I myself went to see him in the Hammersmith Apollo at the end of 2013. In the lead up to his first one man show in a major Johannesburg venue – something unheard of in South Africa – Noah explores not only the healing role of comedy in the country but also provides insights into his somewhat poignant and unusual life story and his struggle to be taken seriously as an entertainer. Whether you’ve heard of Noah or not, this documentary is a really honest and realistic look at what South Africa and its people are actually like in the post-Apartheid era. It’s also very funny because the guy is genuinely absolutely hilarious and his sense of humour translates no matter where you come from (my British in-laws love him). One of the most interesting things explored is the open bitterness with which Noah is regarded by older South African comedians who see him as a flash in the pan who has had a couple of lucky breaks despite his appearances on international shows such as QIThe Daily Show, The Tonight Show and Chelsea Lately. Recommended for anyone who enjoys good stand-up. 4/5

Eish gogo, you are so tiny!

Eish gogo, you are so tiny!

The Italian Job (1969)

Following a stint in prison, Charlie Croker (Michael Cane) takes on the challenge of a revenge heist to steal a shipment of gold by causing a traffic jam in Turin. That’s really about as complex as the story line gets for this crime classic. Yes there is a lot of set-up and the gathering of Charlie’s team is amusing but what this is really about is Caine getting to do his best scenery chewing playing the Lahndan jack-the-lad character he is best known for. The simplicity isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the sixties cheekiness makes this a whole load of fun and there’s a great car chase and lots and lots of boobs (if you like that kind of thing). It’s also easy to see how much this film has influenced films like Snatch, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Oceans Eleven even if it’s surpassed somewhat by some of those. Also it will make you want a mini. Such a good laugh. 3.5/5

(Photo by Everett Collection / Rex Features 682788r)

Look, don’t tell anyone but I’m actually Batman’s butler… (Photo by Everett Collection / Rex Features 682788r)

 Step Up (2006)

Disaffected foster kid, Tyler (Channing Tatum) breaks into and vandalises a performing arts school with a couple of his mates and is punished by having to do community service at the school. Said school is attended by Nora Clark (Jenna Dewan), a senior preparing for a dance showcase that will decide her future. When her partner is injured she is worried about she will pull off her performance… but then she spots Tyler dancing with his friends and talks the director of the school (Rachel Griffiths) into letting him finish off his community service by training with her. At first there is a clash of styles between the two but as they spend more time together sparks begin to fly (who saw that coming?) Unfortunately Tyler’s fear of failure along with the lure of his car stealing past make it hard for him to commit to both Nora and pursuing dance as a career. Will he get over himself and start a better life or get dragged back to the dark side? Step Up pulls every single dance movie cliche there is and manages to do it with some style probably because Tatum can actually act and because the chemistry between the two leads, who later married after meeting on the set, sizzles. I  won’t pretend it’s not a predictable piece of fluff but dance movies are a major weakness of mine and this is definitely one of the better ones. 3/5

Until you take a shower and remove that fugly hat you ain't getting any of this jelly

Until you take a shower and remove that fugly hat you ain’t getting any of this jelly


  1. I can’t stand Tatum, but I do love me a good dance flick, even a predictable, fluffy one. Maybe I’ll give it a shot.

    1. No love for Tatum? Poor guy, hehe.

      1. Not even a little bit. He’s just… fugly. And I haven’t seen him in anything where he showcases any acting skill whatsoever, so I simply stopped watching anything that had him in a lead role.

        1. Something tells me people don’t go to see his movies for his acting.

        2. Abbi

          I don’t find him attractive at all but I actually think he has excellent comic timing and he was great in Foxcatcher. Sure he’s picked some stinkers (White House Down, anyone?) but I wouldn’t write him off just yet!

          1. Well… we’ll see. But don’t hold your breath :-p

    2. Abbi

      This is as predictable as it gets but the dancing is actually really good and it doesn’t take itself too seriously.

  2. I watched a bit of Step Up at Christmas and found it hilarious. It was almost like a parody of dance movies!

    1. Abbi

      It really does bring in every possible dance movie trope but I think that’s what makes it fun.

  3. It’s been years since I last saw The Italian Job, but this post makes me want to watch it again.

    1. Abbi

      It’s a really fun movie. Great for a bit of mid-week entertainment.

      1. That’s a great description of it Abbi.

  4. Abbi, I think Tatum is more talented than he’s given credit even though I didn’t see this film and probably won’t. Agree with your rating of Sweet Home Alabama and the Italian Job was fun but not stellar. I’ve always liked these Friday film reviews. I’ll watch a few during the week and most are just mediocre or less so–I can’t be bothered to review crappy films. But these mini-reviews and the variety of films you watch in a week is really interesting.

    1. Abbi

      I find writing and even sometimes reading really long reviews quite tough. Mostly I just want to know roughly the topic of the film, why you did or didn’t like the film and if I should bother to watch it. Lol!

    2. I got to agree there Cindy, he can be really funny in movies.

      1. Abbi

        He has excellent comic timing, which is an under appreciated talent!

        1. Definitely, he was so funny in 21 Jump Street. I feel though that people go to see his movies more for the way he looks than his talent. It may explain how Magic Mike raked in the money.

  5. I have a weakness for dance movies as well. And Channing Tatum grew on me–a lot.

    1. Abbi

      Like mould on a shower curtain. 😖

  6. I agree 100% : Step Up is one of the better ones. I enjoyed it too. Part two is still watchable but from there it goes down the drain…

    1. Abbi

      My best friend and I live in different countries so we only get to see each other about once a year but when we do we always spend a day doing a dance movie marathon. The last time I think we watched Step Up 4 and it was dreadful.

      1. It was … But what a great tradition

  7. Great reviews. The Step Up movies are a guilty pleasure of mine! And I just heard about Trevor Noah for the first time a few hours ago and now I read your review. Curious about the guy. Apparently his name is being thrown to replace Jon Stewart in his show.

    1. Abbi

      They’re really great movies for turning your brain off.

      If you can get your hands on some Trevor Noah stand-up, I would highly recommend watching it. He’s very funny and irreverent but he also makes an excellent social commentary.

  8. Theo

    I definitely have to check out the stand-up as I’m a big fun of anyone who can take the piss out of me in the most intriguing way.

    Slightly off-topic, but I wanted to recommend you this blog:
    It’s a good friend of mine that I met during my Masters who is a horror-film fan and blogs about these movies regularly. Worth giving her a read!

    1. Abbi

      Trevor Noah is now going to hist The Daily Show so you can catch him there too. He is super funny.

      I am following your friend’s blog now and look forward to checking out some posts 🙂

      1. Theo

        That’s cool, thanks! Will keep an eye on the show. Maria’s blog is very good, hope you’ll enjoy it!

  9. Tatum really can act. Apart from The Vow seems to have chosen well for the most part. Sweet Home Alabama did sound dreadful. Reese hit it better with Legally Blonde. Trevor Noah sounds great. The Italian Job is very stylish. Great last line too.

    1. Abbi

      I think he’s underrated and has an interesting career in front of him.

      Trevor Noah has been announced as the new host of The Daily Show so I think he’s about to really blow up.

      1. Hang on. Wasn’t it the English guy John Oliver?

  10. Hi Abbi! Sweet Home Alabama has all the trappings of a typical banal rom-com, it has its moments but overall it’s silly & predictable. I think Josh Lucas is pretty cute tho. I haven’t seen the original Italian Job, but I quite like the remake. As for the last one, well I don’t find Channing attractive in the slightest so I generally avoid his movies. I think I’ve only liked him in the 21 Jump Street flicks.

    1. Abbi

      There are much worse things in the world that you could look at than Josh Lucas.

      1. Ahah, indeed, though his career is going nowhere. I know lots of girls like him but Patrick Dempsey doesn’t do anything for me, like, at all.

        1. Abbi

          Me neither.

  11. Ah, I freaking love Trevor Noah! We actually went to see him recently on his Nationwild tour, and he was really awesome! I am glad to hear the in-laws enjoy him so much 🙂 Aside from that, looks like you got a mixed pot here again!

    1. Abbi

      My best things he does is the airport announcers and VERNACULAAAAR!

      I have been a bit lazy with my picks lately. Hoping for some good plane movie options for my flight tomorrow.

      1. LOOOOOL! Ah man, and late night e-TV!

        I hope you get some good ones. Wish I had been in the CT area, dammit! You going to see family? I hope you have an awesome tip!

abbiosbiston is listening...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.