Rob Watches Movies

Reviews of every film I watch. The Good, The Bad and The Mothman Prophecies.

Tag: Parks and Recreation

Passengers – 5.5/10

‘If you live an ordinary life, all you’ll have are ordinary stories…’

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Short Film Sunday – The Gunfighter

Title: The Gunfighter

Director: Eric Kissak

Released: 2014

Length: 9 mins

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Ten More Great TV Shows of 2015

Despite my undying love for films, we have now reached a stage where the quality found on TV is actually far superior to 90% of offerings churned out on the silver screen. Since running through my top ten favourite shows of 2015 in November, I have discovered a plethora of other top notch shows. Here are ten of them:

10. Master of None

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Inside Out – 8.5/10

The best Pixar film in years shows us it’s ok to feel sad…

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Jurassic World – 8.5/10.

A director with one low budget indie film to his name brings us the best summer blockbuster since Avengers.

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There is a huge amount of pressure involved in rebooting a much loved franchise and they don’t come much bigger than Jurassic Park.

Director Colin Trevorrow started his career with Safety Not Guaranteed – a charming and quirky indie flick about time travel, that had little to suggest that Trevorrow deserves to be the man at the helm for one of the most anticipated films of the decade. This potential risk more than pays off.

If Avatar taught us anything it was that you can spend all the money you want on CGI and special effects but if you can’t write believable characters or interesting dialogue you will still be left with a dumb action flick. Jurassic World learns from this and though the special effects are faultless it is the script and the acting that elevate the fourth instalment in the series above your average action fare.

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Chris Pratt’s journey from loveable goofball Andy in much missed comedy Parks and Recreation to Hollywood heartthrob has been surreal and unexpected but he seems much more comfortable in Jurassic World than he did in Guardians of the Galaxy and rumours of Pratt as the next Indiana Jones no longer seem so far fetched. Pratt’s co star Bryce Dallas Howard struggles with a less well written character at times but at least she has recovered from the trauma of being involved in Spider Man 3.

Like other derided genres, horror and rom-com, action films are often criticised for predictable plot devices and rehashed ideas. Apart from two people jumping over a waterfall whilst shouting, Jurassic World does its utmost to break free from the trappings of a tired genre to appear fresh and it is this unpredictability that allows the story to comfortably justify a running time of over two hours.

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The message that the human race shouldn’t play God is as poignant as it was in Jurassic Park but a ham fisted attempt at a critique of capitalism doesn’t sit well alongside such obvious and jarring product placement. In a film about dinosaurs though this is a minor criticism and an attempt at dissection and analysis of that kind only leads to less enjoyment.

I would have liked to have spent a bit more time with a wider range of dinosaurs but Trevorrow gets so much right that it feels like nitpicking to mark down Jurassic World too harshly for this.

There is no iconic moment to rival the trembling water glass but how could there be? Jurassic World is a really good film in its own right and is such a welcome addition to the Jurassic Park series especially in light of such recent massive disappointments as Indiana Jones 4, A Good Day to Die Hard and The Dark Knight Rises. Nods to the original are not too ostentatious either which is always a plus point.

Jurassic World is in almost every way a success. Breath a sigh of relief and cross your fingers for the new Star Wars movie to be this good.

Celeste and Jesse Forever – 7/10.

Documentary asks ‘What happens next?’ When Celeste of Daphne and Celeste fame finds a new partner.

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Ok so it isn’t really about that, instead we have an adult comedy drama starring Andy Samberg and Parks & Rec’s Rashida Jones as a freshly divorced couple who remain friends and are unsure about their feelings for each other.

This is exactly the kind of grown up rom com that has rendered ‘wacky’ romantic comedies such as the lacklustre This Means War obsolete. Not quite in the same league as similar film 500 Days of Summer but there is still a lot to like in Celeste & Jesse Forever. It is nice to see Rashida Jones (who also co-wrote the film) move away from her usual supporting roles and she shows she has the chops to play the lead and it is also refreshing to see Andy Samberg playing a more restrained and believable character than his usual fare.

Eric Olsen and particularly Elijah Wood provide able support and a decent soundtrack results in an enjoyable and underrated film.

They Came Together – 5/10.

Rom Com parody only elevated above being terrible by Paul Rudd’s beautiful face.

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There is so much comedy gold to be mined from a Rom Com parody but They Came Together plays it pretty safe and is actually so close to being a romantic comedy at times it is indistinguishable.

The premise of a romantic origin story being told around the dinner table between Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd, Bill Hader and Ellie Kemper (Erin from The Office) is awesome and these scenes provide the funniest moments. Another thing that director David Wain does get spot on is the story structure and the accompanying cheesy soundtrack.

Unfortunately It is in the flashbacks themselves where most of the (many) jokes fall flat. They Came Together is aiming for Airplane but ends up closer to Scary Movie 2. It was a bold move to have Rudd sending up the genre that has been his bread and butter for the last few years and it all comes across a bit too smug and knowing akin to an 83 minute SNL sketch.

A really great comedic supporting cast (Ed Helms, Chris Meloni, Jack McBrayer, Jason Mantzoukas) are pretty much wasted. If you are not a big Paul Rudd fan (took a long hard look in the mirror) then don’t waste your time with this.

Delivery Man – 7/10

Vince Vaughn discovers he is about to become a father… to 534 children.

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That plot sounds like something that Adam Sandler would shit out these days, possibly with him playing about 50 of the children himself. Thankfully Delivery Man feels more indie* than zany. At times writer/director Ken Scott does force his message down our throat a little (at one point VV discovers that three of his kids are in order: black, gay and finally disabled.), but he mostly keeps Delivery Man just about the right side of sentimental. Obviously with someone like Vince Vaughn a lot of the enjoyment you get out of his work depends on how much you like him as a man (as he basically just plays Vince Vaughn in every film). Personally I really like the big guy so I tend to enjoy most of his stuff and there is a lot of laughs along the way in Delivery Man (mostly in the interchanges between Vaughn and Parks and Recreation‘s Chris Pratt). There is nothing to separate this movie from many others like it but if you are looking for a nice easy watch this fits the bill.

*This is probably because this film has already been released as an indie film by the same director as Starbuck. As I haven’t seen the original I have forgone any kind of comparison.

The To Do List – 3/10.

A sexually inexperienced girl decides to lose her virginity before going to college.
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Writer/director Maggie Carey somehow contrives to make a very likeable cast churn out a terrible, embarrassingly bad film. Said cast includes Audrey Plaza as the protagonist, Alia Shawkat (Maeby from Arrested Development), Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson from Avengers, Young Neil from Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Bill Hader, Christopher Mintz-Plasse (Mclovin’) and Andy Samberg. Why any of those people (except Bill Hader who is married to Carey so kind of has to) got involved in this I will never know.
A juvenile and totally outdated concept with one dimensional, un-likeable characters and even a rubbish soundtrack to say it is set in 1993. Carey somehow even makes Audrey Plaza obnoxious which is unbelievable.
The To Do List is a throwback to smut fests of old like Porky’s, but at least Porky’s was actually funny, if a little charmless. The To Do List however is wildly offensive to both sexes, completely unoriginal and worst of all it is nearly two hours long! Only some decent Bill Hader one liners save this from The Mothman Prophecies territory.

Safety Not Guaranteed – 8/10.

Quirky but not annoying. Lacking in action but not boring. A nice flick.

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A newspaper sends a journalist and two interns to do a story on a man who has placed an ad in a newspaper for a companion to time travel with.
The likeable cast includes Mark Duplass, Aubrey Plaza and Jake Johnson. Plaza is particularly good as downbeat Darius. She can do smart and funny without being self concious about it, something which Ellen Page is only just starting to pull off now. Duplass does well in a more challenging role than he is used to along with fellow cast member Jake Johnson the main three stars share a compelling chemistry.
Safety Not Guaranteed is a touching and offbeat curiosity, fans of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Garden State will find a lot to enjoy here, particularly the strong soundtrack and I would happily have seen this stretched out a bit longer than the skinny running time of 1 hour and 26 minutes.

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