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Anyone with eyes and ears is aware that we’re currently living in an extremely polarized time. That polarization makes it both a great time and a tough time to make a political comedy. On the one hand, the landscape is littered with targets for satirization. On the other hand, it’s all just so f---ing bleak out there.

Into this dichotomy drops “Irresistible.” Currently available via VOD services, the film is written and directed by Jon Stewart. It tells the tale of what happens when a small-town mayoral race captures the attention of high-level political operatives on both sides of the partisan divide. These operatives swoop in and turn this minor municipal election into a big-money campaign. It’s ostensibly an ideological fight, but it soon becomes clear that there’s far more to it than that.

Stewart’s body of work from “The Daily Show” on up would seem to make him the ideal candidate (no pun intended) to make a film like this. And it’s a dynamite cast, led by Steve Carell, Chris Cooper and Rose Byrne. The talent is here, for sure.

So why isn’t this movie better?

Not that it’s bad, per se. It has its moments. It just feels like it is trying to be all things to all people, which is ironic considering its subject matter. It never commits to a tone, resulting in an overall feeling of meh-ness that undercuts whatever satiric impact it might have made. Political commentary? Sly satire? Underdog tale? “Irresistible” is all of these – and hence none of them.

Published in Movies
Saturday, 29 December 2018 21:53

The absurdity of venality – ‘Vice’

If you were to make a list of real-life political figures who might make a good subject for a biopic packed with satiric elements, pitch-black humor and a liberal sprinkling of absurdism, former Vice President Dick Cheney would probably sit pretty low on it.

And yet, that’s precisely what writer/director Adam McKay has done with his new movie “Vice.” The filmmaker’s follow-up to 2015’s “The Big Short,” his biting and surprisingly impactful riff on the housing crisis of the late-00s, takes on one of the most powerful and influential – for better or worse (mostly worse) – men to hold the office of Vice President.

With a virtuoso performance from Christian Bale as Cheney and an absolutely dynamite ensemble cast, McKay treats Cheney’s calculated rise through the ranks culminating in a consolidation of political power never before seen in the office of the VP. And he does it with a depth of intelligence and razor-sharp wit, bringing together stock footage and fourth-wall-breaking internal commentary with a more-or-less straightforward look at the biographical details; the end result is one of the most thought-provoking and challenging films of the year. Not to mention one of the best.

Published in Movies
Thursday, 11 July 2013 10:03

A not-so-despicable sequel

Despicable Me 2' offers plenty of fun

Movies for kids are pretty hit or miss in general. It seems like every time you buy a ticket, you've got about a 50/50 chance of getting a good one. And even if you do get a good one, that just means that there's going to be a sequel and that's when the law of diminishing returns raises its ugly, money-grubbing little head.

So it's a nice surprise when an animated follow-up manages to maintain some of the spirit of the original. 'Despicable Me 2' is definitely one such surprise.

Published in Movies
Carell, Carrey headline good-not-great comedy

Any profession that gave us such pop culture touchstones as David Copperfield and Siegfried and Roy is ripe for satire. The world of the Las Vegas magician is one that rarely gets the Hollywood treatment, despite the fact that it is clearly asking for it.

But longtime television director Don Scardino has tackled this high-pressure world of excitement and illusion with the new film 'The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.' Unfortunately, this star-driven comedy succumbs to the temptation of the formulaic, sacrificing some of the potential impact in the name of the familiar. The end result is a decent studio comedy that could have been ever so much more.

Published in Movies

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