May 03, 2009 | Category: Uncategorized

Film Fight: April 2009

April, it would seem, really is the time for fools as all 4 films are comedic (though not necessarily comedies). Let’s get started…

Monsters Vs. Aliens is the best animated film I’ve seen in years that didn’t come out of Pixar. While I’m sure Dreamworks are used to coming in second place, the gap is narrowed by this, their best film. The plot is straight forward and simple enough, but it’s the characters, actors and visual jokes that really make this film. The entire voice cast (which is an impressive list by itself) do an excellent job, while the characters themselves are the right mix of lovable and a little weird. It’s also the first full 3D film I’ve seen where the 3D didn’t seem like a gimmick, it was instead quite well-integrated into the experience; bold enough to add excitement, but reserved enough to avoid being ostentatious. All in, a very good film. (See my Monsters Vs. Aliens Twitter review).

Next up is I Love You, Man. It’s a comedy about a man who needs to find a best man for his wedding, since he no longer really has any male friends. The set-up is a bit clumsy and heavy-handed, but it grows into a decent, if hit and miss, film about the lead (Paul Rudd) learning how to enjoy himself through his new friend (Jason Segel). It’s definitely a little forced in places but there are enough good parts in there to make it entertaining. Throw in the feel-good ending (even if it is cheesey), and you’ve got a reasonably worthwhile film. (See my I Love You, Man Twitter review).

I’ve been a fan of Armando Iannucci’s work for quite some time now, so it was good to see his first film In The Loop. A cinematic spin-off of his 2005 series, The Thick of It, it follows a mostly new cast fight the case for and against going to war with a Middle Eastern nation based on a flimsy amount of evidence. The result? A fantastic political satire that finds the perfect balance between the ridiculously over-the-top antics, spot-on observations and down-to-earth worries. The whole cast shines here, particularly Peter Capaldi as the vicious government policy enforcer, and James Gandolfini as the peace-loving general. Definitely worth seeing. (See my In The Loop Twitter review).

Finally, Observe and Report is a bit of an odd one. The trailer and advertising make it look like just another wacky Apatow/McKay/Ferrell styled comedy (i.e. a bit silly, a bit gross, but with a sincere lead). While it has elements of that, it’s often quite dark; preferring to go further into substance abuse and mental health, than do another fart joke. It’s wildly uneven, with some very high peaks (the final sequence, pre-denouement, being one of the best bait-and-switches I’ve seen in years) and some long dull gaps. It’s probably worth seeing, but maybe after it goes to DVD. (See my Observe and Report Twitter review).

The winner is… In The Loop. I can’t recommend enough this brilliant comedy; one of the sharpest British films in years.