21 Jump Street (2012)

Genre: Action, Comedy, Crime

Directors: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Writers: Jonah Hill, Michael Bacall, Patrick Hasburgh, Stephen J. Cannell

Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube

Rating:★★★★

In the light of the fast approaching release of its sequel 22 Jump Street, I revisited a film which I will never tire from; the brilliant, funny and refreshing comedy 21 Jump Street. Originally a TV series, Jonah Hill and Michael Bacall adapt the 80’s hit show, which starred a young Jonny Depp, into a new and refreshing comedy which brings laughs and action together as well as touching on something a little deeper.

Schmidt and Jenko (Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum) are both newly graduated police officers and bicycle riding partners; however the two actually went to school with each other but were far from partners back in the day. Schmidt was a typical unpopular dork and had an uncanny resemblance to Slim Shady; Jenko was the polar opposite, a popular jock who everyone chased after. Since they are young, and look like high school students along with their inability to be police officers they are both assigned to an undercover unit where they have to infiltrate a drug ring that seems to be at the heart of a high school, supplying the student’s synthetic and dangerous drugs. As Jenko and Schmidt go back to high school as undercover officers it brings comedy, but from a lot of angles and perspectives. The obvious comedy comes from Jenko and Schmidt attempting to fit in within high school, despite them both appearing older with even the science teacher fancying Jenko, the pair go on the throw a party, attend prom and take part in the school play of Peter Pan however the real humour is achieved elsewhere for me. School has changed greatly since Jenko and Schmidt   have become officers, however this is of course a real life portrayal of school too, as the pair attempt to fit in on their first day they realise everything is the opposite. There are more than the typical jocks, nerds and goths; the “cool-guy” Eric (Dave Franco) is an eco-warrior and cares for Mother Nature, fast cars aren’t popular and either is not trying and acting “cool”, this for me was hilarious, due to me being a student I could make these comparisons and laugh with our protagonists as they realised the changes. The film portrays this idea well, and uses it cleverly; Jenko who was the popular guy is now a dork whilst Schmidt is enjoying life being the popular and fun kid and of course this will set up a conflict. The acting was great, Jonah Hill for me is an underrated actor and is a really talented guy, and he can take on serious roles but is also brilliant when it comes to delivering comedy. Hill as Schmidt was great; his high school tantrums were a highlight along with the flashbacks of slim shady and his attempt of fighting. Tatum as Jenko was good, even the fact that Tatum was casted as Jenko brings humour as we wold expect him to be popular and seeing him take on a somewhat dork role was great. A real highlight was his attempt to “fuck-up” science, and in particular potassium nitrate. As well as the portrayals were of our main characters, the writers deserve a huge amount of credit for creating such humour and fun with them alongside some brilliant side characters and constant hilarious scenes.

When watching a comedy you always want big moments and big laughs, 21 Jump Street gives you just that. The most memorable from the whole film for me is when Jenko and Schmidt take the drugs which they are trying to infiltrate, the side-effect and resulting hallucinations are hilarious as their sports teacher turns into a talking ice-cream and the pair try to “finger fuck” each other’s throat to throw it up. It’s hard to fault 21 Jump Street; however I do feel at times the story goes a bit dry whilst the ending try to combine “silly” humour and it didn’t compliment the film at all. However for me 21 Jump Street is still a film I won’t get bored or watching and it will never fail to bring laughs.

21 Jump Street is a refreshing comedy, with a nice idea and a well written story which displays a range of humour which is suitable for all types of audiences. Each and every character is brilliant alongside the performances from the well-known and talented cast. I can only hope that the soon to be released sequel, 22 Jump Street, which sees Jenko and Schmidt go onto an undercover college mission, follows and reflects it’s original. Lots of laughs and easy to watch 21 Jump Street is definitely a memorable and great comedy.

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Bad Neighbours (2014)

Genre: Comedy

Director: Nicholas Stoller

Writers: Andrew J. Cohen, Brendan O’Brien

Starring: Seth Rogen, Zac Efron, Rose Byrne, Dave Franco

Rating:★★★★½

Bad Neighbours is a film that I had been eagerly awaiting to watch for some time, a cast filled with comedy-gold and genius, matched by a fun concept shown off brilliantly in a hilarious trailer, had me hook line and sinker for this year’s big comedy release.  I can firmly say that I wasn’t disappointed, huge laughs, unforgettable scenes and Seth Rogen being Seth Rogen, easily made this one of the best comedies I have seen in recent years.  However what also makes Bad Neighbours so great is its refreshing take and twist on a popular and typical genre story, whilst also achieving a sense of familiarity.

Mac (Seth Rogen) and Kelly (Rose Byrne) are new parents, adapting to a somewhat unknown and feared stable lifestyle; managing marriage, having a child, professional jobs and owning a house. However the couple are struggling, missing their youth and the excitement of what seems to be their previous life, despite not even being old. Mac now works at an office where the only joy comes from occasionally smoking weed with his friend Jimmy, whilst Kelly is finding the stay-at-home mum life equally boring and dull. However the pair’s life is soon going to become a reflection of their past and youth as a fraternity moves into the house next door, making the two neighbours. The fraternity, D-Side, is run by president Teddy (Zac Efron) and his vice president Pete (Dave Franco), the two together want to become legendary and make it onto to the wall of fame. Party after party, night after night, Kelly and Mac eventually call the police, however things don’t go to plan and the two neighbours start a war, involving air bag pranks, condoms, fireworks and dildo selling.

The comedy elements to Bad Neighbours are great and the laughs are both huge and consistent, however as previously mentioned there seems to be a deeper and refreshing aspect to its story which is down to some great and well-thought about writing. Mac and Kelly are struggling to adapt with maturing, and despite their hatred for their new neighbours it brings the much missed past youth experience which they seem to soak-up. It was a refreshing take on the adaption and cross-over in life, where usually we see middle-aged couples or teenage dramas it was interesting to see it achieved with those who are still young. Teddy and Pete are likewise fearful of their future and the next step, the thought of what happens next seems to be frightening and they hide behind their Robert De Niro parties. However the bringing together of these two “couples” in a sense help them accept change and embrace their lifestyle.

Bad Neighbours as a comedy however is hilarious. I have not seen a comedy for a long while which has had so many big moments which literally produce gut-busting laughs and a few tears. Despite the trailer somewhat ruining some surprising moments the comedy was genius, whilst also being refreshing and non-cliché. Teddy and Pete steal the airbags out of Mac’s and Kelly’s car, replacing them into various chairs in their house, making them explode when an un-expecting Mac takes a seat. The humour associated around the baby, Stella, is also brilliant, something which although pushes boundaries creates so many laughs. The first time we see our lead characters they are having sex in an attempt to feel young again whilst being conscious of their curious daughter watching from the high-chair, there is also a moment when Stella swallows a condom thrown into the lawn from the frats. The gags are consistent with a nice mixture between slapstick, physical and uncomfortable humour being used, again making it refreshing.

The importance of the lead characters was huge, and the writers deserve some credit however the portrayal by the main cast was great. Seth Rogen for me always produces huge and successful comedies and is one of the funniest and talented comedy actors in present times. He didn’t disappoint with his character of Mac who was hilarious, it was also interesting to see Seth take on a character that had a responsibility too, something he managed well. Zac Efron and Rose Byrne were also good, with solid performances, Kelly’s outbursts of anger were great to watch whilst an angry Teddy was amusing. Dave Franco too deserves credit; his presence brought laughs almost each-time.

There seemed to be a lot of enjoyable things from Bad Neighbours, as a film-lover the in-jokes present throughout added that something extra.  Teddy and Mac, stoned in the early morning decide to debate their favourite Batman Actor whilst making some hilarious impressions, the inclusion of a Robert De Niro party also made me laugh; Dave Franco’s Focker impression was pure gold, “Ay Focker? You’re upsetting Mr Jinxy Cat”

It is really hard to fault this comedy; it really did achieve its aims as I laughed so much, my only criticism comes from the slightly annoying trailer which can ruin some funny moments. I also felt that at times, especially the focus on the Frat parties were unnecessary or dwelled on for too long.

Bad Neighbours will certainly be one of the best comedies this year, and for now it definitely is one of the best comedies I’ve seen in recent years. There is so much more than what can be seen on the surface to this film, with some deep character meanings and development which is handled well by both the cast and writers. The laughs are huge, and some scenes I’m sure will be remembered for ages, along with quotes – “I’m milking a human”, “I put my dick in your mouth when you were asleep, – I was awake” Bad Neighbours is a must-watch, and an easily enjoyable film which deserves a lot of praise and credit.

 

 

 

 

 

Now You See Me (2013)

Genre: Crime, Mystery, Thriller

Director: Louis Leterrier

Writers: Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin, Edward Ricourt

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine

Rating: ★★★

Now You See Me is a film based on magic and illusions which mix into the criminal world, somehow all combining it creates a fun concept; however such a well-thought and fun concept is executed rather poorly to make for a film that falls a bit short of expectation. An all-star cast mostly give good performances and alongside some action and humour the film can be at times entertaining and an exciting experience.

The story centres on four magicians who each receive a mysterious calling card leading them to an obscure address with many secrets inside. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) is a young, intelligent and popular magician, Merritt (Woody Harrelson) is a hypnotist who once had a good career but now finds pleasure by conning people out of money; the same can be said for Jack (Dave Franco) however he is much younger and a trickster, finally the fourth is an escape artist Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) together they will be known as the four horsemen. Four years after the calling card meeting they are together big-time stage illusionists and sell-out performers who climax their Las Vegas show by robbing a bank live on stage. With over $3 million flying around on stage and the impossible task looking achieved it puts the four magicians on the radar of FBI Agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and his Interpol companion Alma (Mélanie Laurent).  However, this mystery proves difficult to solve even with the insights of the professional illusion exposer, Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman). What follows is a bizarre investigation where nothing is what it seems with illusions, dark secrets and hidden agendas galore as all involved are reminded of a great truth in this puzzle: the closer you look, the less you see.

Now You See Me starts off very promising with entertaining introductions and a great what seemed lead in to the main plot of the film, however as twists occur it becomes very confusing. Although filled with action Act 2 is far from entertaining and until the end of Act 3 Now You See Me stays very frustrating. The concept made by  Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin and Edward Ricourt is very exciting and fun, however its over complicated twists somewhat make it into three separate films combing into one with a variety of stories told and interlinked.  The task has been mastered before in likes of Pulp Fiction, but here it just doesn’t.

The cast is filled with some very big names, Jesse Eisenberg takes on the lead and he achieves again this clever witty character just like his role within The Social Network.  Woody Harrelson brings humour in many ways again like in previous roles such as ZombieLand and for me is the standout character and performer, however other performances were very mediocre and average, including those by Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman.  The main element which proved to be the highlight for me was the special effects which showed the group’s illusions in full amazement and awe, and as an audience made us so intrigued within the first act of the film.

The flaws however all evolve around its story which is too confusing and executed very poorly by both writers and director alike and furthermore it seemed to drag for a while. My other criticism is how stories within the film are left unexplained and unfinished, such as the ending which should see the police eventually catch up with the four horsemen and furthermore the story involving Caine’s character was very swiftly forgotten by the writers and characters within the film.

Now You See Me is somewhat an easily watchable fun film especially for those more easy going cinemagoers, however at times it can prove to be a dragging and frustrating process. The story although a fun concept is what brings this film down and more so the average performances from some big name stars. Now You See Me in spells brings great entertainment and amazing illusions to screen, alongside some action making it just about worth-while.