Will Ferrel is one of those guys who is either hit or miss with me. I absolutely love Anchorman and think the last time SNL was funny was when he was on the cast list. Talladega Nights is one of my go-to quote-films, as I often threaten to “come at someone like a spidermonkey.” But then again, did any of you see Land of the Lost? That was just a cinematic bowel movement. Even worse is the fact that it also had Danny McBride and the cute girl from Pushing Daisies so I was much more disappointed than I expected.
With The Other Guys, Ferrel seems to get his footing back and I think alot of it has to do with the fact that he plays way against his established type here. I mean, let’s not kid ourselves, he still plays a baffoon, but he’s not the overly confident baffoon he plays in films like Anchorman or Talladega Nights where he lords his false sense of superiority over everyone. He is not an alpha male at all. He’s subdued and odd but he’s not a complete imbecile. Playing the straight man to Mark Wahlberg, who essentially plays his character from The Departed with a bit of uneducated regression, we get a different film than we would have gotten if Ferrel has basically played Ron Burgandy with a badge.
The film works not because of the narrative, which is the case with most cop comedies. Did anyone watch Naked Gun for the story? No, it was for the chuckles. The Other Guys brings some heavy laughs and 98% of it comes from the actors in the film going at it straight faced and with no sense of irony. Duane Johnson and Sam Jackson put in some hilarious moments as the absent minded supercops of the NYPD who rack up millions in dollars worth of property damage chasing perps down over an ounce of marijuana. Rob Riggle and one of the other Wayans brothers play great ball-busting asshole cops and Michael Keaton is downright hilarious as the “angry police captain” character who’s just a few degrees off the accepted stereotype. Seriously, he delivers some of the best gags in the film and it saddens me that we don’t get to see him get much work nowadays. I need to watch Beetlejuice again.
Long story short, if you’re looking for a funny flick to pass the time (and it’ll pass some time, it’s only serious fault is that it’s just a wee bit too long) you really should give this a shot. You’ve seen Inception like 80 times already, it’s time to see something else. I’m serious now.
Writing a review of Inception isn’t an easy task. It’s a film that’s complex and layered in ways that a single viewing of the film really isn’t enough to gain concrete perspective on everything the film is, everything the film sets out to be, and everything the film accomplishes. It is one of the most amazingly crafted films I have seen in years and the reason that it is such an amazing product comes from the inabilty of anyone watching it to catagorize it into any one particular niche. It’s very much a science fiction film. Isaac Asimov or Robert Heinlein would have greatly appreciated Inception as a testament to what you can do with the genre. At the same time, it borrows heavily from the Michael Mann heist style neo-noir of Heat with casual effortlessness.
The criss-crossing of established genre boundaries and refusal to hold the audience’s hand makes Inception a sight to behold in a summer of films that aspire to be a whole lot of nothing. I mean, I loved Predators but it was mostly a remake of the original without being a remake. That’s really the bottom line. This summer has been a summer bereft of originality. While there is a bit of familiarity in the style of Inception, and while it owes a great deal to what came before it, it’s a game changer in the way we look at the summer blockbuster in the same way The Matrix was back in ’99. This film is brilliantly taut, it’s an action film that knows how to pace itself and yet deliver on every level at the same time. There is a real element of uncertainty to the film’s narrative because anybody can die at any time and that may not be the end of their life. At what point does the danger of the subconscious cross over into the world of reality? Nolan keeps us on the edge of our seats knowing that death is a possibility for any of these characters. There is a sense of foreboding that follows every character, an intensity that is not often seen in modern cinema. Nolan is the kind of person who would kill of DiCaprio in the middle of a film for the sake of jarring the viewership, and you can feel that as the story progresses.
While the film is visually amazing and outright stunning in certain places, it’s the scriptwork that realy holds it together. The character work and the layered complexity of the dreamscapes and heist plans make for an engaging experience that goes beyond what our eyes are taking in. Not a lot of filmmakers nowadays can pull that sort of craftmanship across the board. Nolan proves himself to be in the caliber of someone like Stanley Kubrick with what he’s given us here. I will say that I think this is a movie that NEEDS to be seen on the big screen. While it’s an amazing story, the visuals cannot be denied. It’s a spectacle. Nolan hasn’t done anything like this before. Everything captured on screen here is a testament to his worldbuilding ability. With all the amazing work that went into all the different elements of Inception, it is going to be a film that people hold in the same regard as 2001 or Blade Runner when they point to good intelligent sci-fi. The resurgence of Sci-Fi as an accepted genre makes me seriously happy. The fact that we get different subsets reaching different audiences without being dismissed as the bastion of nerdfolk gives me hope for the future. That Star Trek and District 9 were so praised and now we get something like Inception shows that sci-fi can be a respected niche again. It just takes the right steady hand to play in that sandbox.
Hey, remember back in 2006 when Bryan Singer hopped off the X-Men train to helm a new Superman film and everybody got their collective geek panties all soiled up and sopping wet only to complain about the end product not being as good as they had hyped it up to be in their mind before walking into the theater?
Get ready to get bumrushed by a striking case of deja vu because we’ve got a similar situation a’brewin at Warner Brothers, once again centered around the floundering Superman franchise and a nerd-christened messiah coming in to save the day.
According to Deadline, Batman Begins & Dark Knight director Christopher “Jesus Christ” Nolan has been brought in by the studio to act as the overseer of a retooling of the Superman franchise. Because, you know, he made those awesome Batman movies so he must be able to work that same kind of magic on a character that is, quite literally, the opposite end of the spectrum as far as what the character is or represents.
I will pause here to say that Nolan is a competent director. Hell, he’s more than competent. He’s actually one of the finest working directors in Hollywood at the moment. But nothing in his long list of credits gives me any indication that he is the right person to manage the creative direction of the Superman franchise. All of Nolan’s work seems to focus on the deeply psychological elements of the characters that inhabit the worlds he creates. I hate to use such a cliche, but Nolan’s work tends to be very dark. Memento, The Prestige, his Batman films, Insomnia… none of those films have the sense of levity that a Superman film needs. Granted he is just the architect here, and not the director, but one would assume he will have a heavy hand in the tone the new film will take.
It’s almost like they are trying to repeat the mistakes of Bryan Singer’s film. While I myself enjoyed Superman Returns, I can see the flaws and pinpoint where and why it did not take off with a mainstream audience. Nobody wants to watch a dour Superman. The tone of a Superman film should be closer to that of Jon Favreau’s first Iron Man, where the sense of adventure is overshadowed by the character drama or serious moments, but instead enhanced by those elements.
These are films based off of comic books after all; and while I won’t be the guy who says that as an art form comics should be light and fluffy, they seem to suffer when they take themselves too seriously.
So what is my point in all this?
Really, this is just a preemtive strike. I want to ask everyone here and now not to start wetting themselves over the prospect of Nolan at the helm of a Superman film. A name does not ensure quality. Just because he gave us two amazing Bat-films does not mean that he will deliver unto us a Superman film with everything we want with no flaws whatsoever.
Just be pragmatic.
That’s all I’m saying.