Directed by Jonathan Lynn
Starring Tim Curry, Michael McKean, and Madeline Kahn
Review by Jon Kissel
Movies that achieve cult status are supposed to be flattering to their adherents. The masses might have overlooked this film, but I’ve got the secret message that it’s an underrated gem that was too smart or too idiosyncratic, just like me. Clue supposedly has its own cult, but smart, it is not. Directed by Jonathan Lynn, who’ll follow this up with Nuns on the Run, Clue is indeed as shallow as its premise. Board-game adaptations are always being threatened by creatively bankrupt studios, sometimes to fruition with Battleship, and Clue shows why that’s an empty and pathetic idea. Clue might find redemption as being a spoof of a specific genre that’s also a worthy member of said genre, but the genre of chamber mysteries is another that fails to entertain me, thus doubly relegating it to the trash bin.
He's a responsible candy executive with a troubled love life. She's adorable and clumsy and runs her own free-spirited candy store. These two don't belong together at all, but the power of love and their shared preference for fiction books can cross any bridge. In David Wain's latest comedy spoof, They Came Together, the tropes of romantic comedies are broken down and served up like so much peanut brittle, the proceeds from which will go to a charity, because I'm too cute to know how to run a business.
In the recent autobiographical documentary Val, Val Kilmer is shown struggling to stay engaged at a convention where fan after fan thrusts a Top Gun poster in front of him and asks him to sign it with his Iceman catchphrase. Kilmer had earlier remarked on how little he thought of Top Gun, dismissing it as a jingoistic puffball, but now, people are singling it out to talk with him as opposed to anything else he’s ever done. Alexander Dane (Alan Rickman) knows this feeling as Galaxy Quest begins. We’ve just seen footage of his major credit played for an eager convention, and with its lot of corny effects and stilted acting, it’s not something anyone should be proud of. Dane certainly isn’t, but he has to economically rely on fans who like the show for reasons he cannot understand. Galaxy Quest engages with both sides of fan culture and lovingly satirizes it by imagining the most dedicated fans possible, which here are guileless aliens who’ve patterned their space-faring culture off a D-grade sci-fi series that likely aired at 11 on Saturday mornings between Looney Tunes reruns and Julia Child. Dean Parisot’s crowd-pleasing comedy acknowledges how silly and disposable parts of the culture can be, and still manages to make the same ephemera affecting in the exact scenario.
There’s something about a long name that is a sign of quality in comedies. The Will Ferrell/Adam McKay subtitles, Borat’s broken English, Dr. Strangelove, and Popstar: Never Stop Never Stoppin’ have a new member of their club in Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar, the best comedy since Popstar. This is a film laden with nonstop jokes, a parade of absurdity with zero dead spots. Written by and starring Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, and directed by Josh Greenbaum in his feature debut, Barb and Star might not work for everyone, but it certainly worked for me.
Judd Apatow’s been at the center of two-plus decades of comedic filmmaking, shining his light on generations of actors and making them into household names. The Office probably doesn’t get a second season without his work with Steve Carell in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and that’s apparently the greatest show ever made based on how pervasive it is in the culture. Apatow’s latest team-up is with Pete Davidson, a comedian I was unfamiliar with outside of osmotically soaking up his antics without ever looking into them myself. After seeing him strut his heavily-tatted stuff in The King of Staten Island, I can see the gangly charm that makes Davidson fit in so well with the likes of Jason Segal and Amy Schumer. Davidson has a bittersweet affect befitting his life story and it makes him unique, in contrast to Apatow who’s repeating himself in an overlong and over-improvised film. Comedies are in something of a rut, and while Apatow revived them once already in the 2000’s, he likely won’t be their reinvigorater in the 2020’s.
JUST SOME IDIOTS GIVING SURPRISINGLY AVERAGE MOVIE REVIEWS.
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