Yes me again, thanks for getting involved and having a read. My trip to the cinema on this occasion was not to see a mega bucks movie but instead we joined the other four people in the screening to watch this low budget movie from Directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash (as usual watch out for the occasional spoilers in this review, but not too many, I’ll try my best).
From the outset it seems that this film may well follow the same pattern as all the other American teen dramas. The classic story of a shy, retiring child who feels inadequate with the people around him until he finds his niche and has a renaissance as such. Technically there isn’t much different here, but the story and the bloody brilliant performances make this film stand out from the rest and make it well worth a watch.
First off Steve Carell is fantastic in this film. Being a huge fan of Anchorman and the American Office I was already aware of how good an actor Carell is, but this really solidified it for me. This is because in this film he plays someone very different from his normal role. His usual bumbling, idiotic, butt of every joke role is not to be seen here, instead he is the ‘evil’ step Dad who is not making life easy for the young man around whom the story revolves. He uses his masculinity to great aplomb and by the end of the film you want to give him a good slap, which is I’m sure just what the Director wanted. I wouldn’t slap him though, because on some level you would be slapping Brick Tamland, and that just isn’t cool.
Also great are Alison Janney and Sam Rockwell. As I love the West Wing, Janney is a firm favourite of mine and she too goes against the grain of the character she normally plays here. Rockwell really shines because a lot of the script is improvised around a basic structure. During in an interview with an American newspaper he said that he had “complete freedom” to improvise around the script and to make the character his own, this is apparent and he is genuinely very funny. Some people could claim that this is the Director or writer being lazy, “ok I want you to be funny here, and action” and then take all the credit. I see it more of a brave decision from the Director to trust the performances and giving it the time to develop naturally. Apparently this freedom at times became a little too much for Rockwell, during a scene in which he uses a loudspeaker in one take he apparently forgot that children were listening and cracked a joke about the main character contracting herpes. The owner of the water park where they were shooting then got hugely offended and wouldn’t let them continue shooting until he got a personal apology from Rockwell. Brilliant.
The story itself revolves around the main character Duncan (Liam James) finding solace from a turbulent family life in the running of a Water Wizz a local water park, run by Owen (Rockwell). Duncan has to combat being a teenager, having a new step Dad who isn’t great, and the next door girl who is cute and is showing an interest in him, oh no. This gets too much for him and he seeks solace in a water park, as you do. It’s legoland for me, I bloody love that place.
The turbulent family life that Duncan is escaping from is depicted through an incredibly gritty performance from Toni Colette, who is the only person it seems who plays a character similar to the ones that she normally does, the troubled female. Now I’m aware that I am shrinking down the performance of an enormously talented actress but I am doing this just to make a point, not to sleight Toni Colette, I think she is brilliant, you’re terrible Muriel. But then if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. You can really relate to her character, trying to do the best by her son and her new partner whilst also looking out for herself. The story between her, Duncan and Trent (Carell) is where the emotion is drawn from.
The reality that she brings to the film is present in all performances. They talk over each other, they react just a touch slower and they engage with each other seemingly a lot more than when they are restricted by a script. It’s like they are having a real conversation, funny that. Even the small love interest between Duncan and the girl his neighbour (Susanna AnnaSophia Robb). They have a lovely chemistry and again it seems a lot more real than when it is forced.
These types of film seem to be everywhere now don’t they? Bridesmaids, the Heat, and most films from Judd Apatow. Improvisation is becoming a real skill needed by actors and it seems that this is why Carell, Ferrel, Wiig, McCarthy and co are still on the rise. It doesn’t seem like they are going anywhere, which is great news as it is good to see the other sides of actors, blimey even Tom Cruise tried it in Tropic Thunder, which I thought was very good!
Overall this film was great. Really watchable, enjoyable and laugh out loud funny. The performances were endearing, real and emotive and I hope we see these actors playing similar roles in the future because they make it look so easy. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and will happily give it a whopping 8/10. Boom.
Finally I just wanted to say that I thought that it was pretty sad that there were only six people in the cinema to see this film. I know that the cinema is expensive and so going means you don’t want to risk seeing something naff, but I hope that this doesn’t mean that people will stop going to these films and that this won’t have a negative connotation to these films being made in the future. So if you get a chance to see something that isn’t a blockbuster, give it a watch Resist the temptation “wait for DVD” or even “wait for Netflix” as it is fast becoming. Get involved and see it in the cinema. You might be surprised. You might not, but don’t blame me if this happens, that after all is the joy of cinema!
Finally if you join the Odeon premiere club (which is very much worth it by the way, a brilliant loyalty scheme) they are offering 25% off tickets if you go on a Monday. Also selected Odeon cinemas will give you a 2 for 1 voucher when you buy your tickets. So if you can get an Orange Wednesday ticket they might then give you a 2 for 1 so that you can go any other day of the week, which is always nice. So get involved and let me know what you think.
Until next time!