The Happytime Murders. A movie review.

No spoilers, but does it really matter for this one?

Where do I begin? The Happytime Murders is a muddled attempt at a comedic crime drama. The big problem: it lacks humour and a by-the-numbers conventional plot leaves you wondering why someone put up the money to make it in the first place.

Puppets and humans coexist in the world of the The Happytime Murders. Puppets are inferior and downtrodden by humans. Phil Phillips (Bill Barretta) is a puppet PI who was the only puppet to serve on the human police force, forced out over an incident involving his then-partner, Detective Connie Edwards (Melissa McCarthy) and the death of an innocent bystander. Now Phil lives the life of a Raymond Chandler-esque gumshoe, who is approached by Sandra, a nymphomaniac puppet who thinks someone is out to blackmail her. Phil’s investigation leads him to a number of puppet murders, linked to the syndicated Happytime show. He teams up with Edwards to solve the case.

happytime-murderse

From there it’s all downhill: puppets having sex, puppets drinking and doing drugs, puppets using the F-word a lot. It’s a one-trick pony that’s novel and amusing at first, but rapidly grows tired. Melissa McCarthy doesn’t seem to find her rhythm until the second act and even then, it’s patchy.

The Happytime Murders doesn’t know what kind of movie it wants to be. At times it’s way too serious, at others attempting to pass off repetitious, miss-the-mark, frat-boy humour as comedy (the silent audience was telling). There are a few funny lines, but you have to wade through a lot of crap to get to them. It’s not really worth the effort.

This is the first time this year I’ve actually felt like I was cheated by a film company. If I could get my money back I would.

Unfortunately, I can’t recommend The Happytime Murders to anyone.

Rating: E

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What I’ve been watching 2

A few months back I did some mini-reviews of Netflix shows I’d been watching (Australian Netflix – some of these series are on different networks in America and Europe). Here are some more short reviews of what I’ve been watching:

Star Trek Discovery

Great sci-fi show set in the movie universe pre-Kirk, with Spock’s adopted sister as the lead. It has a cool twist at the end of the first season.
Rating: B+

Jane the Virgin

Romantic comedy series that parodies Latin telenovellas. Everybody is into everyone! Cool narration, too.
Rating: B

12 Monkeys

Time travelling to save the world from an army and a lethal virus. Really steps up its game from S2 onwards.
Rating: C+

Luke Cage

Excellent street-level superhero series that’s only let down by a dodgy battle in the S1 finale.
Rating: B-

The Expanse

Great sci-fi show based on the books by James SA Corey. A solar system of political intrigue and imminent war, with an alien presence about to change everything.
Rating: C+

How to Get Away With Murder

Gotta love an ongoing murder mystery set on a college campus with weekly episodic legal procedurals.
Rating: B+

Iron Fist

An honourable man with amazing martial arts abilities returns to his company after years missing, but they don’t want him back. The low budget really shows, but this was interesting and handled ‘The Hand’ better than S2 of the Daredevil show.
Rating: C+

Ajin

Japanese anime about immortal creatures living among humans who are captured and experimented on. What happens when they decide to fight back? Gorgeous animation, smart, violent and not for kids.
Rating: B

Daredevil

Matt Murdock is a blind lawyer who becomes a vigilante by night. Very ‘Batman’. S1 is the best of the few seasons available.
Rating: C

Defenders

Team-up of Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and Iron Fist against the Hand’s loopy machinations. Drags a bit. The individual series were better.
Rating: C-

Mars

Docudrama showing the first settlement of the Red Planet, real science commentary offsets the drama. Fascinating.
Rating: B+

Arrow

Superhero Green Arrow takes on crime with a bow and a team. Still going strong after six seasons, but running out of essential characters to kill (and bring back). Also very ‘Batman’.
Rating: C

The End of the Fxxxing World

Two kids on a road trip, one plans to kill the other. Definitely not a comedy (although it’s marketed that way). Mental health issues, murder and abuse. Hard hitting, but sensitive and amusing as well.
Rating: B

Cheers

Steve 🙂

The Breaker Upperers. A movie review.

New Zealand humour is quirky. The accents certainly help (no offence intended, kiwi readers—I love your accents). The Breaker Upperers, the new comedy from the scripting and directorial team of Madeleine Sami and Jackie van Beek (also the two leads) is funny and sweet, with a bit of raunch thrown in for good measure.

Mel (Sami) and Jen (Van Beek) are two long term friends who make a living providing a service that breaks up relationships. They live by a credo of not getting attached or involved, which makes their ethically-dubious schemes easier for them to live with. It’s not until they start breaking their own rules that they realise karma has a habit of catching up, and their friendship is in the firing line.

The Breaker Upperers is the funniest movie I’ve seen this year. It manages to nail the bizarre circumstances of relationship breakdowns on the head, while at the same time teaching some valuable life lessons about true friendship. The gags are original, understated and, at times, over the top, and I couldn’t get enough. Despite this some will feel it’s not their thing, even if they do get the humour.

And everyone in this movie looks natural. Yep, there are no good looking people to be seen. How often does that happen on the big screen?

I thoroughly recommend The Breaker Upperers. If you like NZ comedies, such as Hunt for the Wilder People or Boy, you’ll love this. Oh, for those who try to avoid these things, there’s a sex scene—it’s very funny, though.

Rating: B

Life of the Party. A movie review.

Saw Melissa McCarthy’s new movie the other day. I’ll admit up front that I am a McCarthy fan. I like her sassy, in-your-face and inappropriate witticisms. I guess they remind me of my own big mouth. Her movies tend to be overly formulaic, though, as scriptwriters and directors stick to the McCarthy formula her core audience admires.

Life of the Party is a bit like that, but in this case, McCarthy is a recently-divorced mother who goes back to her alma mater to finish the last year of her archaeology degree. Oh, and her daughter is attending the same campus. Let the fun begin. McCarthy plays the motherly role well, limiting the language and capturing the fish-out-of-water mother mannerisms well.

life of the party

Yes, the movie is funny—not overwhelmingly so, but it was enough to keep me amused for most of its running length. The story is clichéd and the characters stereotyped, but McCarthy’s likeable enough to carry it through.

Life of the Party is one for the McCarthy fans. If you’re not an admirer of her performances, you won’t be after this, but if you are you’ll have a good laugh and leave the theatre with a smile on your face. I did.

Rating: C

What I’ve been Watching.

No movie reviews this week, but I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix lately (Australian Netflix – some of these series are on different networks in America and Europe). I haven’t found a series on the streaming service I haven’t liked, yet.

Here’s a short sample of what I’ve been watching:

Stranger Things – 1980’s nostalgia and Stephen King homage. Kids on bikes and strange goings on in a mid-west American town. An awesome must see.

Rating: A+

13 Reasons Why – thirteen tapes left by a suicide victim indicting the people who directly or indirectly caused her to kill herself. Gripping and confronting.

Rating: A

Lost in Space – remake of 1950’s TV show, updated. A family lost on another world after a space-borne attack, trying to escape before the planet or their shady companion kills them. A bit slow at times but the character development and Dr Smith make up for it.

Rating: B

Black Lightning – family drama centred around a high school principal who brings his superhero alter-ego out of retirement to fight crime bosses and manipulative secret government programs. Still finding its feet but lots of promise for the second season.

Rating: C+

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – quirky and out there detective story about time travel, parallel dimensions, coincidence versus determinism and friendship. Wondering what Elijah Wood’s been doing since The Hobbit?

Rating: A

Santa Clarita Diet – mum’s a zombie, and dad and daughter are fine with that. But the zombie virus is making life difficult… Blackly comedic and violent.

Rating: B

Altered Carbon – noir-style sci-fi mystery; the world’s richest man’s murder can only be solved by a reanimated terrorist. Dark, violent and deep.

Rating: C+

Riverdale – Archie, Veronica, Betty and Jughead updated from the comics for the 21st century. Dark, over the top soap opera.

Rating: C+

Ozark – a mob accountant sets up a money laundering business in the Ozarks, failing to realise just what he’s up against. Jason Bateman and Laura Linney are superb in this Breaking Bad-wannabe.

Rating: A

An Unfortunate Series of Events – based on the Lemony Snickett books, this excellent series has an absurdist sense of humour. Neil Patrick Harris steals the show.

Rating: B+

Jessica Jones – hard-ass alcoholic detective superhero from Marvel. Surprisingly deep.

Rating: B+

Atypical – comedy/drama about a high functioning autistic boy, his search for a girlfriend, and his neurotypical family. Enjoyable, but a little stereotypical at times.

Rating: B

So, what have you been watching on Netflix lately?

Steve 🙂

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