A commando who prefers tape and banana peels to firearms goes after his old nemesis.
Directed by Jorma Taccone
Starring Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, and Val Kilmer
Review by Jon Kissel
The mileage one gets out of MacGruber is going to be directly proportional to how much the viewer appreciates Will Forte’s facial gymnastics. I personally love it every time his weird face scrunches up in agony or fury, so this is a movie that works on me. Jorma Taccone, away from his Lonely Island roots, essentially makes a straight action flick and staffs it with a character who not only is a ripoff of an absurd 80’s primetime detective but is also the direct antithesis of every bad-ass testosterone-fest from the same decade. A solid premise plus whatever Forte is doing with his eyes in any given moment makes MaGruber into one of the decade’s better comedies, and one more unjustified commercial flop on the Lonely Island’s collective resumes.
If you’re a fan of Spider-Man, you’re in the midst of a golden age. Tom Holland is widely praised as the best live-action representation of the character, a stance I agree with based on the fact that he’s a credible high schooler and not a man in in his early 30’s creepily walking down a school hallway. As if Holland’s five appearances in four years wasn’t enough web crawling, Sony produced the animated adventure Into the Spider-Verse, introducing no less than seven new versions of the character in one outing while also creating what many are calling one of the best superhero movies ever. Away from the growing umbrella of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Into the Spider-Verse is allowed to go wherever it wants to, freed from any kind of realism or prior lore. That freedom is coupled with an earnestness that the character has presumably had for its entire life, and while I don’t subscribe to the fawning praise for the film, the film is a refreshing diversion from an increasingly serialized genre.
The films of Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda typically contain no drama at all. In something like Our Little Sister or Still Walking, he makes the equivalent of TV hangout sitcoms where he organically clues the viewer in to various dynamics and watches as the characters visit a graveyard or prepare a complicated dish. Not every film has to have physical stakes, and his often don’t. I’ve seen about half of Koreeda’s films and Shoplifters has the highest stakes, by far. There’s a constant risk of discovery in the central family-ish unit, and Koreeda has called Shoplifters his ‘socially conscious’ entry. One can’t make a political point without some kind of conflict, and Shoplifters certainly has that. It also has what makes Koreeda such a notable filmmaker i.e. a realistic adherence to workaday life that still allows for the possibility of beauty to enter at any moment.
No Country For Old Men is indicative of both how good its directors are and what a phenomenal year for movies 2007 was. This is a film that has it all: memorable characters, quotable lines, thrilling setpieces, a coherent worldview, the perfect amount of humor to leaven the darkness, and something to say about how we view history and justice and cause and effect. It’s all those things, while also being arguably Joel and Ethan Coen’s sixth or seventh best film and barely cracking my personal top 5 for 2007 releases. That this near-perfect film is relegated to those kinds of finishes makes me want to watch Fargo or Ratatouille again, but we’re here to praise No Country first.
This one was a lot of fun. Lenny Abrahamson's Frank could have been an insufferable quirk-fest, but his story of a musician with a unique compulsion strikes the balance between oddity and pathos. Featuring a spectacular physical performance from man-in-the-head Michael Fassbender and a ridiculous soundtrack, Frank is loaded with meaty material that has kept me thinking about it long after the initial viewing.
JUST SOME IDIOTS GIVING SURPRISINGLY AVERAGE MOVIE REVIEWS.
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