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Film Friday #147

The Way, Way Back

When awkward fourteen year old Duncan (Liam James) is forced to go on holiday with his mother, Pam (Toni Colette), her boyfriend, Trent (Steve Carrell) and his daughter, Steph (Zoe Levin) he is less than thrilled. Steve is a dictatorial douchebag, Pam seems incapable of sticking up for her own kid, Steph is a complete brat and some of the neighbours are… interesting. With the adults behaving like teenagers, Duncan takes off on a bike he’s found in the garage and finds his way to the local water park, where he meets quirky manager, Owen (Sam Rockwell). When Owen offers him a job he finds a place where he can be himself. This is a sweet, often amusing coming of age tale with great performances from James and Carrell, playing against type, but the real star of the show is, of course, Rockwell. Unfortunately the story lacks originality, which makes me think it will ultimately be forgettable. 3.5/5


Duncan worried that if he smiled much harder the back windscreen might crack

21 Jump Street

After inept rookie cops, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) bumble their first bust they are seconded to the Jump Street division, which infiltrates drug gangs in schools. Here they find that things have changed since their own school days. Jock Jenko, finds that his bonehead bully schtick is no longer de rigeur, while sensitive Schmidt soon falls in with the cool kids. But will they actually manage to crack the drugs ring or will they become completely distracted by the opportunity to have a high school do-over. Unfortunately elements of this story are just too ridiculous to quite make it work. However there is no denying that Jonah Hill (who co-wrote) is funny and Channing Tatum actually has remarkable comic timing. Pair this up with a brilliant turn from Ice Cube, as a stereotypically angry chief and there is enough to keep you giggling for the duration. 3/5

When in doubt... go for the nipple!

When in doubt… go for the nipple!

Killer Joe

Chris (Emile Hirsch) gets himself into trouble with some drug dealers after he loses the coke he was supposed to sell, leading him to hatch a plan with his father, Ansel (Thomas Haden Church) to kill his mother for her life insurance money. They hire, Joe (Matthew McConaughey), a detective who moonlights as a hitman, but Joe wants payment up front and Chris and Ansel don’t have it. Fortunately Joe is willing to take a retainer in the form of Chris’, sweet, innocent younger sister, Dottie (Juno Temple). This is a dark, rather disturbing black comedy (?) that doesn’t shy away from graphic violence. McConaughey does a good job portraying smouldering menace but I can’t help wondering what the actual point was with such an abrupt ending. 3/5

Like a nine stone cowboy!

Like a nine stone cowboy!

Punch-Drunk Love

Adam Sandler plays Barry Egan, a socially awkward owner of a company that makes novelty toilet plungers. As Barry struggles with his anger issues, his seven sisters bully him mercilessly, including one who wants to introduce him to her friend, Lena (Emily Watson). Initially Barry is extremely reluctant, even calling a sex line to have someone to talk to, but eventually he can’t avoid a meeting with Lena and comes to discover that she might actually be someone he could form a connection with. Unfortunately the operator from the sex line is harassing him for money and Barry will have to take drastic measures to give his burgeoning romance a chance. Punch-Drunk Love proves that Sandler is capable of actually acting when he wants to but that for the most part he is just too lazy. This quirky, off-kilter comedy is worth a watch but nothing like anything else Sander has done so if you are expecting Water Boy this is not it. 3/5

Barry found the piano was best played at eye level

Barry found the piano was best played at eye level