The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) Film Review

Steven Zissou (Bill Murray) is a deep sea explorer who makes documentaries on his ridiculous ship with his intensely loyal crew. But when his partner is killed by a never-seen shark, plus his reputation is flagging, his next documentary is under high pressure to be a hit. Add into the mix a heavily pregnant journalist (Cate Blanchett) a long-lost son (Owen Wilson) and Zissou’s need to succeed regardless of the danger it poses to himself or his crew.

I loved this. It’s so beautiful, Anderson has such a distinct style, and I particularly love the shots of Murray leading the cast through the streets of, perhaps, Naples. While his absurd humour doesn’t appeal to all, it really tickles me. Plus, what a cast. Angelica Huston, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Michael Gambon, Noah Taylor… the list goes on.

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) Film Review

It’s a film about the Tenenbaum family. Enough said, really.

This is still my favourite Wes Anderson film. It’s got all the strangeness in character and plot, all the beauty in the art direction and cinematography and all the humour, heart and tragedy that I love in these films.

The Darjeeling Limited (2007) Film Review

Three brothers go to India to bond after their father passes away. Little do Peter (Adrien Brody) and Jack (Jason Schwartzman) know that Francis (Owen Wilson) has planned to find their long-lost mother, Patricia (Anjelica Huston).

I love this film, but why? Three selfish rich white boys go to India with all their privilege because they can. I should hate this. Yet I don’t. I don’t hate the clumsy baggage metaphor or the way the women are dismissed or the way even when they don’t get what they want, they get through.

Masterminds (2016) Film Review

There are some films that I really think don’t need to be made – and I guess what I mean by that is that there are people who can be really fabulously clever and funny, and it’s disappointing when you see something that is less than great from them. Masterminds is one of those films. It’s a ridiculous film based on a real story. Though surely the real story is not so absurd.

Zach Galifanakis stars as David Ghantt, a man with a terrible haircut, not much brainpower and who works for an armoured car company. Engaged to the strangely insane Jandice (Kate McKinnon), he is briefly partnered with a woman who he develops a deep crush on, Kelly (Kristen Wiig). So when she, after leaving the job, decides to convince him to rob a van, he goes happily along to do this, in the stupidest possible way, with his unknown sidekicks lead by Steve(Owen Wilson).

There’s some humour here. Silly, bad hair, spider eating humour. But really, it’s a dud. It’s like this is a script that should have been workshopped a lot more, perhaps something could have been made of it. Instead, it’s a bit of silly fun that is several levels below what most of the cast can do, and it was really disappointing.

The Internship (2013) Film Review


Wow, could there be much more offensiveness in a single film than this?

The basic story is pretty flawed to begin with; two middle-aged guys end up unemployed and get internships at Google. There, they are constantly put down and treated like losers by the young folk. Ending up in a team that no-one wanted, they manage to rally the others together to work as a team.

Firstly, there is no way Google would take on two men who cannot work a webcam no matter how quirky they are. Secondly, how offensive to think that these idiots could take a bunch of very smart people out to get trashed and end up forming a cohesive unit. Thirdly, how insulting to assume that because these kids are smart and ambitious, they must be totally unworldly, not know how to have fun and, of course, be virgins. Fourthly… wait, I’m going to stop listing as I may never end. The scene in the strip club is so amazingly unnecessary, misogynistic and clearly just an excuse to have lot of semi-naked women writhing about. The only thing more offensive that the images was the music – really no fun nor subtlety in those lyrics.

I always think I like Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, then I see something like this and I never want to see them again. Not even Rose Byrne could save this one. And how airbrushed is that poster!

Midnight in Paris (2011) Film Review


Watching this film makes me finally get Woody Allen. I’ve seen several of his films and have not understood why he is considered such a genius; often, I find them amusing and well made but they don’t grab me. And then, there is Midnight in Paris.

So, Gil (Own Wilson) and Inez (Rachel McAdams) are holidaying in Paris with her parents. He is a screenwriter who is working on a novel; she really likes spending money and putting him down. When he is wandering, drunk, at midnight one night, he gets picked up by an old car that takes him off to a glamorous twenties-style party – only it turns out that he has actually travelled back in time, and ends up partying with Zelda and F Scott Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, Ernest Hemmingway, Pablo Picasso – oh, and getting writing advice from Gertrude Stein. Gradually, he realises that he has little in common with his fiancé and is living a lie – but is the life he lives at night as much of a lie?

I love the absurdity of the twenties scenes, of seeing these wonderful representations of characters from the past. Owen Wilson didn’t quite work for me; I’ve gone from being a huge fan of his to really disliking him onscreen to being somewhere in the middle. But, at least it wasn’t Woody Allen himself- I really cannot stand that man onscreen.

I didn’t like that Inez and her parents were so obviously awful to Gil. I’m sure it is making a point, but I found it annoying and would have liked it if there were more subtlety to them.

Midnight in Paris won an Oscar for Best Writing, Original Screenplay (Woody Allen) and was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Achievement in Directing (Woody Allen) and Best Achievement in Art Direction.

Little Fockers (2010) Film Review


The ensemble is back; first, it was meet her parents, then meet his. Now, there are kids and they are having a birthday party, but things go astray. And crazy astray.

I was on board for the first two. Yes, there were a few things that I needed to suspend my belief for, but I went with it. But for this? They lost me totally. From the moment Jessica Alba arrived as a drug representative and stepped in for a bottom-related procedure in the hospital, it lost me. Not even a fist fight between Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller across a series of kids equipment was worth it.


Meet the Fockers (2004) Film Review


Now that peace has been made between Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) and his soon-to-be-wife Pam’s (Teri Polo) parents Jack (Robert De Niro) and Dina (Blythe Danner), they must meet his family. They are far from ‘normal’ – sex therapist Rozalin (Barbra Streisand) and house-husband Bernie (Dustin Hoffman). Of course, it is a whole weekend that they must have to get the maximum ridiculousness of the situation.

It is totally silly, much like the first. And while it is a similar creature to the first, it is different. Not better, really, and not worse as such. Actually, probably a bit worse. But adding Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand was just a nice addition. If it’s on telly and you can bear slapstick, go for it. I wouldn’t race to hire it, but I also wouldn’t switch channels.


Meet the Parents (2000) Film Review


Greg Focker (Ben Stiller) is in love with Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo) and wants to marry her. But, her parents are traditionalists, and so he must meet them and win them over. Her mum (Blythe Danner) is fine, but her father (Robert De Niro) is a real hard-ass; ex-CIA and very protective of his family. What’s more, they are spending the weekend together for her sister’s wedding, so there is extra pressure. Of course, everything goes wrong, including the fact that Pam’s ex-boyfriend Kevin (Owen Wilson) who is wealthy, talented and charming is involved heavily in the family’s life.

A lot has been made over the years of De Niro’s move from serious acting through to comedy, and generally, he is heavily criticized. I’ve not seen all the films, but I really like this role and this character, and I think that the way he and Stiller work together is terrific. I didn’t expect to enjoy this film all that much, but I really did. Quite a lot, as it happens, even despite the ridiculousness of it.

Meet the Parents was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song (A Fool in Love)

Cars 2 (2011) Film Review


I heard a lot of parents complain about this film, finding it to be one of the weaker of the Pixar films. I don’t recall watching the first Cars, but recently was forced to watch it – and I though it was quite good.

The story is that there is a group of cars who are pushing sustainable fuel, but when using it in several trials, it appears that the fuel is causing cars to explode. The British and American spies are trying to get to the bottom of it , including Finn McMissile (Michael Caine) and Holly Shiftwell (Emily Mortimer). But Mater (Larry the Cable Guy. That’s how he’s listed on IMDB) gets tied up in the whole event. To save his friend, Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson), Mater needs to work harder than before.

Look, it’s not a new concept – the mostly cool kid is embarrassed by his old friend with his cool new mates, but ultimately realises his error. I think I couldn’t really care less about the story of the film – I was just enjoying the voices of Caine and Mortimer coming out of the cars. Lovely.