BAD MOMS IS PRETTY BLOODY GOOD

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Bad Moms is a very pleasant surprise. It is the best broad comedy out of Hollywood this blockbuster season and while that could be a low bar to clear it is still an achievement in its own right. Maybe the writing was on the wall when Kathryn Hahn was listed in the cast, that woman has never failed to be good in any of her work yet and this could elevate her star status even more.TOBIS Film comedy mila kunis kristen bell christina applegate

Mila Kunis stars as an All American Mom Amy Mitchell trying to do it all, raise the kids, keep the house running, please the hubby and hold down a good job. Like many women trying to do it all she finds herself constantly enroute to the next crisis she needs to respond to noting she’s constantly late wherever she is arriving. One day she comes home and finds her husband Mike (David Walton) may not be present at the dinner table conversations but he is presently masturbating to a computer screen that has a woman skyping on the other end of it. The lout can’t even muster up the decency to have a proper affair in person with his mistress.

Kicking him to the curb Kunis finds her already full workload overflowing. At the end of a very long day she arrives at the Parent Teachers Association Meeting a wreck and gets mentioned scathingly by the PTA President Gwendolyn James (Christina Applegate) the kind of well off immaculately coiffed individual who sits in judgement of everybody else. Revolutions have been born from such moments and so it is here. Kunis tells Applegate where to place her gluten free, sugar free, fat free cupcakes and steals off into the night to grab a drink at the local bar. God knows where her kids are at this late hour but at the bar she meets Carla (Kathryn Hahn) and Kiki (Kristen Bell). Image result for bad moms gifsKiki and Carla are the two extremes of Amy’s psyche, a repressed housewife who never talks back to her husband and suffers in vain as her children run her down and Hahn who barely remembers she has a child, sees men as expendable sex objects and doesn’t give two gluten free cupcakes about what anybody thinks of her.

A million subtexts and questions abound in such a mainstream comedy. Kunis’s daughter Jane (Oona Laurence) is a little stress bunny because statistically speaking young girls apply themselves more at school then young boys whereas Kunis’s son Dylan (Emjay Anthony) cracks the shit because breakfast isn’t made for him which means that Mommy has to sit him down and tell him that he has a sense of privilege and he better start doing for himself. Meanwhile Mommy decides that she’s going to drive Daddy’s car while he’s living out of a hotel. While stereotypes exist for a reason, Kunis does a lot for her daughter including taking her to a day spa and getting her on the soccer team, meanwhile Daddy goes to a counselling session where he gets told sexual favours were not on offer because he never did any housework and the little boy gets the privilege of learning to do his own breakfast which should set him up well for later in life. Meanwhile Mommy spends a lot of time blowing off all her responsibilities, by the way this film is written and directed by two men Jon Lucas and Scott Moore who did The Hangover. Walking out to the car park afterwards I turned to my wife and said all the male characters were either losers or ideals, how would you like it if you saw a movie with female characters that only fit in those two boxes? She just smiled and replied “That’s every other movie Lloyd.”TOBIS Film comedy mila kunis kristen bell christina applegate

There’s a nice message in this film about not having to measure yourself by other people’s or society’s expectations. That doing your best, loving your kids and enjoying life is enough. True to the spirit of not tearing other women down the ending strikes the right note. As a another fellow blogger pointed out having Kunis trying to eat spaghetti while driving from one appointment to another is a bit unrealistic but whatever sins or faults the film has they can be forgiven when there are so many laughs on offer.

Image result for jay hernandez sexyJay Hernandez makes a bigger impact here as idealised widowed Dad Jessie than he did in Suicide Squad. Applegate has her own pair of partners played by Jada Pinkett Smith and Annie Mumolo. They get some funny lines and Applegate seems to be having a ball. Image result for bad moms It may not be intended but the film plays as a mirror to the current U.S. election. Kunis as the outsider running for PTA President saying that we don’t have to live up to expectations and change is needed in the system, Applegate as the long term insider who desperately wants to win. The ending almost feels like what happens when the revolution is won and the rebels start to be corrupted as leaders like they always are. May be I’m reading too much into it.

Plot inconsistencies abound, the kids or babysitters are referred to when needed and disappear when that is necessary too. Only commercial comedy would suggest these people are middle class and then have them to proceed to not worry about money during a divorce. It’s okay, we’re at the movies and we’re not watching a documentary. Kunis, Bell and Hahn share a nice chemistry in this film with Kunis holding it all together as the lead, Bell doing some inspired physical comedy and Hahn stealing the show by doing whatever the hell she wants. A late scene where she explains motherhood to Kunis gives the film heart and a message. All the best gross out comedies have these two qualities. There’s been a few comedies released this year, none of them had the audience laughing as much as Bad Moms. Do yourself a favour.

-Lloyd Marken

P.S. I really enjoyed the credits scene with the actresses and their real life mothers. You did a great job ladies and it made me think of how much I appreciate my Mum.

TOBIS Film comedy mila kunis kristen bell christina applegate

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SUICIDE SQUAD WILL TEST YOUR WILL TO LIVE

Image result for jared leto the jokerImagine a comic book movie of refreshing anti-heroics, witty repartee amongst its characters, well choreographed action scenes and attitude to burn. Imagine no more. You can grab a DVD of, download, stream, get from vending machines or hang out on a mate’s couch looking at him as he play acts out the whole movie of Deadpool or for that matter 2013’s Guardians of the Galaxy. It will be cheaper and depending on your friend’s acting prowess a damn sight better than seeing this new Suicide Squad at the movies.

Whoever created the trailers for Suicide Squad should be hired to do the work for the next Ghostbusters movie by Sony.

Those trailers popped with energy, eye popping visuals and sass. You can’t deny the Brothers Gibb and Queen helped up with that, (Bohemian Rhapsody and Becky Hanson singing I Started A Joke played over the trailers) but after lacklustre marketing for Independence Day: Resurgence, Ghostbusters, Star Trek: Beyond and X Men: Apocalypse the Suicide Squad trailers promised at the end of this summer there would be one bright spark of originality and fun. Then Batman’s Mum Has the Same Name As Superman’s Mum came out and underperformed and there were rumblings of re-shoots, cuts for PG-13 audiences and instead of rejoicing about the fact that Suicide Squad would be vastly different to the current DCEU light lifters instead there was disquiet and a need for re-direction. Now Jared Leto is nodding his head as interviewers note his on air screen time is so small you could argue his role is that of a cameo and he’s playing the Clown Prince of Crime for fuck’s sake.

Somebody call Al Pacino, Gene Hackman,

Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell or Billy Bob Thornton or anybody else who’s played a legendary movie coach and sent them over to Warner Bros. and TELL THEM TO GET THEIR SHIT TOGETHER! FYI Warners this is what shit together looks like.

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Copyright: Warner Bros. Studios

Right now this is you.Image result for nick nolte mug shot Image result for superman the movie

 

Honestly I would’ve been kinder to Batman Vs. Mopey Superbeing Who’s Superbummed About Rescuing People Cause Feelings and His Girlfriend Is Super Nice and Looks Like This, Image result for amy adams vanity fairhad I known how underwhelming the rest of the blockbuster season would be except for you Ricky, you brought it little buddy. HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE   hunt for the wilderpeople

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Harley Quinn was created in 1992, by Bruce Timm and Paul Dini for the much respected Batman animated series of the time, which is relatively recent by comparison for most DC comic book characters as for example the Joker whom first appeared in 1940. Dr Harleen Quinzel has built up quite a fan base in the relatively small time, studied for the contrast of her kick ass persona that still is very much under the spell of a man who may not really value or treat her well. Someone who has robbed her of autonomy and sanity but also made her a stronger individual rebellious of society’s expectations. Fans have been waiting a long time to see her on the big screen and Margot Robbie does not disappoint. There’s no denying the attractive actress wears hot pants well but Robbie subtlety shows that her sexuality is just another weapon in this character’s arsenal. An important aspect of the character is she appears a harmless beguiling woman capable of inflicting incredible violence with no restraint. In addition to being a fighter she’s also lovesick for the Joker. Image result for jared leto margot robbieYet how much can two insane and immoral characters be with a messed up power dynamic be in love? Does the Joker really love her and does she really love him? These are intriguing questions. The Joker appears throughout the story focussed on being reunited with his incarcerated woman, risking much but she’s also partly incarcerated due to him abandoning her. She exists this way because of his brainwashing, is there affection there or are they merely playing the part of a couple. It is a new take on the Joker being done on film to give him a lover and their relationship could prove fascinating but the bulk of their only time onscreen are mostly brief flashbacks that barely establish their relationship let alone probe the dynamics of it. Which is a shame because it’s the most interesting thing above the film. Talks of a Harley Quinn spin-off should be met with approval and despite the film’s flaws, getting the adaptation of a beloved character right straight out of the gate is rare and should be celebrated.

Image result for suicide squadIn fact most of the squad are full of interesting characters well realised by the actors playing them. There’s Amanda Waller played by Viola Davis, an intelligence operative who puts the squad together and sees metahumans as the next strategic upper hand in world affairs and deterrent. The most powerful being in the squad is Enchantress, a witch goddess who has taken over the body of the archaeologist who found her Dr. June Moon (Cara Delevingne). Dr. Moon can bring her forth but can’t necessarily control her. Leading the team is her boyfriend Colonel Rick Flagg (Joel Kinnaman) who is looking for a way to free June from the Enchantress. Actually he’s not, he’s not doing much of anything actually for a Special Forces soldier he spends most of the film being rescued and losing everybody’s respect. Being a good guy not as powerful as evil people he has to lead could have been a fascinating dynamic but mostly he just stands there and points guns until it’s all a bit too much for him. His only real display of a personality comes when he is dismissive of hitman Deadshot (Will Smith) despite their shared military background.

Anybody holding their breath for Will Smith to play against type as a ruthless killer should start inhaling now. Smith plays Floyd Lawton, a father and a good man who just happens to shoot people for a living but hey we only see him kill a criminal. Smith one of the most likeable movie stars on the planet is cool, funny and sympathetic here but the most prickly he gets is being a smartarse to Flagg. The Fresh Prince made the smart play segueing into a different kind of character as apart of an ensemble film rather than rehash past glories but the film doesn’t reward his choice and I really would have liked to see Captain Steve Hiller return. Image result for will smith jeff goldblumAs Richard Jackson pointed out he concludes many scenes with “let’s do this” which remains unclear since they basically were doing the same thing they are doing now. Quinn and Lawton form a bond in the movie although why is unclear except maybe the two characters are aware of the good chemistry that Robbie and Smith had in Focus. Rounding out the team is gangbanger El Diablo (Jay Hernandez) who has the superpower of projecting flames (arguably one of the most powerful members so naturally he doesn’t want his powers following a tragic incident from his past), bank robber Captain Boomerang who has some reaaallly cool Boomerangs, a mutant played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje called Killer Croc (although nobody is going to use the word mutant in DCEU film), Slipknot (Adam Beach)who is really good with ropes and Flag’s bodyguard Katana (Karen Fukuhara) who wields a magical samurai. Most of these members are hardly super powered but apparently the powers that be see them as a fallback if the next Superman goes rogue. Why use bad guys too after Batman worked so hard to lock them up? So that they can be plausibly denied and expendable except we never see these guys do harmful things to innocent people (an effective choice in say The Godfather but here denies the whole point of what makes these characters different in this genre). Image result for amanda waller viola davisWe see Amanda Waller kill an innocent in cold blood which is supposed to make her look cool and ruthless but makes her more evil than the squad. Interestingly Viola Davis read M.E. Thomas’s autobiography Confessions of a Sociopath to prepare for the role and described Waller as “relentless in her villainy” so the act is true to the character but is not as appealing as other aspects of her character. Or again we don’t really see enough of the character to understand the complexity and contradictions at the heart of her. That’s the problem with the film, Waller, Quinn, Joker, Deadshot and Killer Croc are interesting characters and Davis, Robbie, Leto, Smith and Akinnuoye-Agbaje are good actors but we get tantalising glimpses rather than hard looks.

The attitude and sass of these characters is infectious and the saving grace of the film, a scene in a bar late in the film has the right kind of energy that should have appeared in bigger doses to establish characters and develop relationships.

The most disappointing aspect of this action film is the action scenes often boil down to people shooting at things and lacks real excitement and inventiveness. Given the expensive sets and effects it is disappointing that they weren’t put to more effective use with the set pieces, cinematography that includes spectacular shots like this film jared leto cara delevingne suicide squad margot robbiefilm jared leto cara delevingne suicide squad margot robbiethat are sadly not in abundance throughout. Former submariner and director David Ayer made the critically acclaimed Fury and End of Watch but here with a $175 million budget something has been lost. Speaking of lost, many questions are raised by the editing of the film suggesting that key scenes were scrapped and re-shot hurting the narrative flow of the story.

Suicide Squad frustrates with missed opportunities, an action film that fails to excite with its action scenes, a film of bad guys that don’t appear to be all that bad and flashbacks that hint at a story we’re not told. Suicide Squad was the last and great hope of 3 weeks of watching disappointing blockbusters that kicked off with Central Intelligence. None were bad and none were great, the best thing that can be said about Suicide Squad unlike most of the others is that it makes you excited to see these characters again in a film worthy of them.

-Lloyd Marken