Sunday, May 15, 2011

Girls & Boys

Both of today's movies have Brazil as a connective thread. In the first, the ladies have a meal at a Brazilian restaurant that gives them all food poisoning. In the second, most of the story takes place in the highly photogenic Rio de Janeiro.

A chick flick for dudes or a slob comedy for gals? Either way this is the rare rom-com that works for both genders. It's smart and profane in equal measures. This may be seen as a response by super-producer Judd Apatow to complaints that his films don't feature enough strong female characters (a criticism made by Katherine Heigl who has ironically made nothing but shit movies since starring in Apatow's Knocked Up). Here SNL regular Kristen Wiig (who co-wrote the screenplay with Annie Mumolo) takes the role of the immature (wo)man-child whose life is going nowhere and has tough lessons to learn. There are hardly any men featured, with the notable exceptions of Jon Hamm as an abusive boy-toy and Chris O'Dowd as an adorable traffic cop who courts Wiig in a very natural way, but whose affection she doesn't know how to reciprocate. 

Her love-life is a subplot here though; most of the drama revolves around her dislike of her engaged best friend's (Maya Rudolph - another SNL vet) new best friend (Rose Byrne - as funny here as she was in Get Him to the Greek) taking over the wedding plans. It was this inside glimpse into the relationships between women that felt fresh to me. The supporting cast was great, with everyone given scenes to develop character. At two hours long, there was plenty of room for comedic moments to breathe, including some bits that seemed to be ad-libs and improv by this talented cast of ladies. Everybody wins, especially Kristen Wiig whom, while I feel has worn out her welcome on SNL after years of being the star performer there, has finally found a movie role that exploits all her talents.

A movie I had no intention of seeing, but good press convinced me it would be fun. The very funny How Did This Get Made? podcast reviewed it, dissecting all it's ridiculous lapses of logic (and disregard for the laws of physics) but still raved about it's good qualities: family values, humor, and bloodless mass destruction set in a beautiful locale. I didn't get any of the callbacks to previous installments of the Fast & Furious series but did appreciate the flashy film-making and crazy stunt-work on display. I usually dislike movies that ask you to "turn off your brain" in order to enjoy it but this one worked for me. It helped that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was a likeable badass here after last year's disappointing Faster.

And it actually got me pumped for Transformers 3D which showed a new trailer beforehand, displaying a new level in cinematic urban mayhem. Capone @ AICN saw an early cut of it and had good things to say.

Taking the plunge

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