For Reel


Ghostbusters (2016)
August 5, 2016, 10:04 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Paul Feig
1.5 Stars
GhostbustersGhostbusters is among the most cynical and desperate of nostalgic cash-grabs, playing as both out of touch (an Ozzy Osborne cameo in 2016?) and weirdly self-congratulatory. When the film ends with a city giving a tribute to their new lovable heroes, it plays like a disinterested child being prodded by a parent about how cool something is—very rarely do movies so often pause to comment on just how functional and terrific they are. It goes beyond a theme of friendship and teamwork into sheer narcissism. The biggest problem with the film, however, is that it falls victim to many of the criticisms that modern comedies tend to receive regarding their scripting. None of the characters act consistent from moment to moment, scenes fall flat on their face in the service of allowing another few improvised lines, and the screenplay drops its sense of structure and dramatic stakes at will. When the estranged friends solidify their love for one another in the climax, one needs to be excused for forgetting that they had a history together and needed to patch things up in the first place—the screenplay doesn’t seem to care for that particular dynamic outside of the set up and the payoff. For a film that so obsessively feels like a bland studio product—jam-packed with product placement, franchise teases, and an extravagant action finale—it’s shocking how inept the fundamentals of its storytelling can be.



Spy (2015)
June 28, 2015, 2:30 pm
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Director: Paul Feig
4 Stars
SpyAmong the most well-trod tropes in comedy involves a play with incompetence. Films like The Interview involve men who are largely terrible at their jobs and who find themselves up against insurmountable odds. It’s quite refreshing, then, that Spy concerns a woman who is damn good at her job. In fact, she often comes across as the smartest person in the room. Rather than finding comedy from a character who is unable to complete basic tasks, the humor in Spy often stems from the absurdity that such a capable woman is so undervalued despite her ability to keep proving herself. Melissa McCarthy plays Susan Cooper, a CIA analyst who finds herself becoming an agent on the ground once all the top figures in the organization are outed. As she becomes deeper involved and the stakes continue to grow, she is required to keep thinking on her feet in new, creative ways, and much of the joy of the picture comes from watching her problem-solving. The relationship she develops with the daughter of an arms dealer (Rose Byrne, maybe Hollywood’s most valuable asset in comedy today) involves an ever-shifting power dynamic, with McCarthy able to convince and control Byrne through her sheer tenacity. As with Edgar Wright’s films, director Paul Feig begins Spy as a send up of the genre, but it eventually becomes a successful spy thriller on its own, and one that sets an incredibly high standard for stunts and fight choreography at that.



Bridesmaids (2011)
May 27, 2011, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Paul Feig

The saving grace of Bridesmaids is the incomparable Kristen Wiig, as talented a comedienne as any working in Hollywood today. Although containing a number of hilarious set pieces – one on a plane is as consistently effective as any comedy sequence of the past ten years – several of them fall flat, including the disastrous, scatological misfire of a dress-fitting gone wrong. What makes the film successful as a feminist Apatow production is the relationship between Wiig and the affable British star Chris O’Dowd. Though unfortunately, as is the case with all Hollywood films, a single female is a situation that needs to be remedied, Wiig is refreshingly active in her romantic pursuits, never compromising her own dignity to service a man’s expectations.