Posts Tagged ‘tina fey’

Movie Review: Sisters (2015)

Posted: September 19, 2016 in Comedy
Tags: , ,

sisters

Maura Ellis (Amy Poehler) is a recently divorced nurse, living in Atlanta.  Her sister Kate (Tina Fey) is a hairstylist, between jobs, living at a friend’s house.  Kate’s daughter, Haley (Madison Davenport) comes to visit Kate, and is so upset by Kate’s irresponsibility, that she leaves almost immediately. Maura finds out that their parents are selling their childhood home and invites Kate to stay for a few days.  Both Maura and Kate dislike the yuppie prospective buyers of the house, Mr. Geernt  (Santinto Fontana) and Mrs. Geernt (Britt Lower) so they decide to throw one last party at their childhood home before their parents sell it.  Both Maura and Kate invite all their friends, including a neighbor named James (Ike Barinholtz) who Maura has been flirting with.  But Kate doesn’t invite rival Brinda (Maya Rudolph) and Brinda finds out about the party.  Kate agrees to stay sober while Maura tries to see if James is interested in her.  The party starts out quite boring, until Dave (John Leguizamo) brings his friend Pazuzu over.  Pazuzu has more pharmaceuticals on him than the local drug store.  Does the party liven up?  Does Brinda try to crash the party?  Do James and Maura hit it off?  Where is Haley?

This is your typical one last big blowout party movie, except that instead of starring men, trying to have one more wild party before having to face adulthood, this movie stars two women in the lead role.  The role reversal is quite enjoyable, and a lot of the ad-libbed jokes work.  But there are numerous problems with the script, the movie is too long, the jokes stop, and the mood shifts to a more serious tone that doesn’t work at all, the romance between Maura and James was underdeveloped, and the movie ended much too neatly for a wild and woolly party movie.

Amy Poehler and Tina Fey are very funny, and their ability to ad-lib makes the script funnier than it was written.  They are helped along by SNL alums Maya Rudolph,  Bobby Moynihan, and Rachel Dratch, who all bring plenty of laughs.  The movie is stolen by John Cena, who is incredibly funny as Pazuzu, the walking drug store who has an ironic occupation.  Just like Trainwreck, his dry understated approach is very funny.  On the negative side, John Leguizamo is not funny, and James Brolin is a terrible actor.

The  director Jason Moore, directed Pitch Perfect, which was pretty good, but this movie went on way too long for a comedy, and the pacing was much too slow in the second half of the film.   The debauchery looked much too much like the Animal House variety party scenes, and there was nothing that was eye-catching about the scenes, except for maybe a scene near the end of the film.

Sisters:  Poehler and Fey assisted by a funny cast .

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whiskey tango foxtrot

Kim Baker (Tina Fey) is a journalist who writes for the taking heads on television.  In 2003, while most journalists are covering the war in Iraq, Baker is asked to go to Afghanistan, and become a war correspondent.    Baker decides to go, leaving her serious boyfriend, Chris (Josh Charles) behind. Shortly after arriving, she meets her translator Fahim, (Christopher Abbott) the head of security detail, Nic, (Stephen Peacocke) and fellow female reporter Tanya Vanderpoel (Margot Robbie)  She starts out as a Marine Embed, and gets stories from Afghan women, and eventually get to interview the Afghan Attorney General Ali Massoud Saddiq.(Alfred Molina)  Baker is staying in Afghanistan longer than expected, and that takes a toll on her relationship at home.  She finds out that Chris is cheating on her, and starts thinking about starting a relationship of her own. Reeling from the end of her relationship, Baker finds solace in the arms of Iain McKelpie (Martin Freeman) a lecherous Scottish journalist who hits on any woman in the country.

Despite her interviews with solders, and high ranking government officials, Baker gets scooped by Tanya, who gets caught in the crossfire of a U.S. drone attack, and whose video of that attack goes viral.  Baker needs a big story to keep her job, she turns to Iain, who is working on a story about Chinese involvement in Afghanistan, that could be huge.  But while Iain is working on that story, he is kidnapped a held for ransom.  Baker has to use all her connections in the Marines and to the Afghan government to try to get Iain back, and if she does so, she could score the biggest story of her life.  Does she succeed in helping to find Iain?

I did not like Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.  It tries to do too many things, is it a war movie, is it a comedy, is it a relationship movie?  It tries to be all of these things, and does not succeed at any of them.  It has to be a war movie, because Kim baker is a war correspondent.  But it tries to be too irreverent, by sending Baker to parties and weddings, and even throwing in some unnecessary bathroom humor.  A war comedy is a hard trick to pull off, Doctor Stangelove and MASH were probably the two best ones, and this does not come close to that.  The story becomes about the reporters and how competitive they are to get a story, and that should not be the central theme in a story about the war in Afghanistan.  War correspondents have a dangerous and sometimes deadly job, this film did not portray that aspect of Baker’s job well enough. Ultimately, none of the characters are very likeable, so there’s no one here to root for.

Tina Fey tries to be funny, and hip, and self-deprecating,  dropping one-liners in her trademark style, but ultimately the script fails her, and she is left to flounder in a semi-serious half-baked comedy. Margot Robbie livens things up as a seasoned Aussie reporter, who will do almost anything for a good story.  She is not really a good person in this role, but she plays the role of frenemy well. Robbie has played a lot of different roles in her short career, and is building a versatile resume, as either a comedic or serious actress.  Martin Freeman tries to play the smarmy love interest here and that’s a bridge too far for him.  I will always consider him a good guy, and he should stick to those good guy roles.  Alfred Molina is a dubious choice to play the Afghan attorney general, and the script makes him do insulting things, so it’s not a shining moment for Mr. Molina. Very few of the Afghan roles are played by Muslims, so this is another case of Hollywood whitewashing.

The direction is ok, the pacing is slow,  this is the directing team who have directed such movies as I Love  You Phillip Morris Focus, and Crazy, Stupid Love.  The pacing was slow they only got a good performance from Robbie.  There were also no great visuals in the film, so the direction is nothing notable.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot:  WTF indeed.

this is where i leave you

Judd Altman (Jason Bateman) works as a producer in a radio station.  He wants to surprise his wife, Quinn (Abigail Spencer) on her birthday.  Instead, Judd finds Quinn sleeping with his boss, Wade Beaufort. (Dax Sheppard) As if that wasn’t enough, Judd’s sister, Wendy (Tina Fey) calls Judd to tell him that their father just died.  Judd’s mother, Hillary (Jane Fonda) insists that the family sit shivah  for seven days, even though the family is not particularly religious.   The family gathers, there’s Paul, (Corey Stoll) the elder  brother, who wants to take over the family sporting goods store, and who is having trouble conceiving a child with his wife, Annie. (Katheryn Hahn) Wendy, who brings her son and reunites with a boyfriend, Horry (Timothy Olyphant)  rendered brain damaged in a car accident, and Phillip (Adam Driver) the playboy, who can’t settle down.  Will this family find answers to their issues, and will they learn to put up with each other for seven days?

This is a dramedy, part drama, part comedy.  The drama does not seem very realistic, the comedy is not very funny.  The jokes are juvenile, potty, sex and drug jokes.  This is supposed to be a grown-up film?  No it is not. The situations seem contrived, and even a twist involving Judd can’t bring this moribund script to life. The worst thing about this movie is that the resolution of each of the characters issues is not satisfying in the least.  Jane Fonda’s character’s denouement is a cliché and it’s trendy.  A trendy cliché. And her conflict resolution is the most complete. That’s the problem with this movie after 110 minutes, there’s no payoff.

I like these actors, but they all could have chosen a better script than this.  I like Jason Bateman, put him in movies like Horrible Bosses or Extract and he is really funny. He is great at being a straight man, but in this, he just seemed like he was being tortured.  I love Tina Fey on 30 Rock, but she has not found a good movie since the end of 30 Rock, if this is the best she can do, she better write one for herself.  Jane Fonda cannot do comedy,  it’s that simple She tries too hard to be funny.  She overplays it every time.  That’s what the supporting cast did, they all overplayed their roles, and that made a not so funny movie even less funny.

The movie just seemed to go on and on, the pacing was awful. He didn’t get any good performances from some really good actors, so it’s a bad job of editing, and giving direction to the actors.

This is Where I Leave You:  The old Bate-man and switch

Movie Review: Admission (2013)

Posted: January 25, 2014 in Comedy, Drama
Tags: ,

admission

Portia Nathan (Tina Fey) is an admissions officer at Princeton.  Princeton has just slipped to number two in the best colleges in America.  The Dean of Princeton, Clarence (Wallace Shawn) wants more and better students to go to Princeton.   A high school teacher from a small secluded high school named John Pressman (Paul  Rudd) has a high-schooler named Jeremiah (Nat Wolff) that he’d like to introduce to Portia.  Jeremiah may not have the best grades or SAT’s, but he did pass eight advanced placement exams without taking any advanced placement class.  There might be another mitigating factor that might help Jeremiah get into Princeton.  Portia is not having the best of times since meeting Jeremiah, her boyfriend Mark (Michael Sheen) has just impregnated a classics professor named Helen (Sonia Walger) and left Portia. Is Portia in the mood to be charitable to Jeremiah?

There are a couple of problems with Admission.  The first problem is Tina Fey is playing the same loveable loser character that she plays on 30 Rock.  The second problem is that she doesn’t get a chance to do too much comedy.  She is weighed down with too much drama. And what we have ladies and gentlemen is a dramedy, a genre that has never worked since the beginning of time.  The comedy is drowned out by her breakup, issues involving her mother, and even weightier issues than that.  Rudd is stuck playing a globe-trotting do-gooder with an adopted son.   Add to the drama a poor attempt at romance between Rudd and Fey. The women are too strident, both the women in Jeremiah’s high school and Portia’s mother.  Like feminists on steroids.  The ending is just plain disappointing.  And the movie goes on 10 minutes after it should have ended.

The acting is ok, Fey tries mightily to wade through all the melodrama, but she just can’t do it.  Part of the problem with the script is that Fey did not write it.  30 Rock had an incisive, satirical edge that had clear targets and always hit those dead on. I do not know what this movie was trying to say.  Paul Rudd is a good comedic actor, given the right script.  This is not the right script.  Lilly Tomlin, who plays Fey’s mother, has always been a bit too abrasive for tv and movies, that doesn’t change here.

I don’t know who to blame for the writing, the screenwriters, or the author of the book the screenplay was based on.  I couldn’t imagine who would read this book, and then who would make this book into a movie.  Finally, the movie is too long, comedies should never be over 90 minutes

Admission.  Denied.