Hector and the Search for Happiness - Movie Poster

Hector and the Search for Happiness

3.0 Anthony Macali

A psychiatrist searches the globe to find the secret of happiness.

"Hector and the Search for Happiness" is an exotic journey about discovering oneself, which usually involves skipping from one continent to the next, navigating through stereotypes and clichés. The outset is promising, good-natured fun... before the patchy ill-directed plot wanders into the tiresome and mawkish. Exploring such a noble topic, we feel obligated to welcome the premise, but you can't help but think there's a missed opportunity to expand on the many laughs experienced. Nonetheless, the idea is cute enough to please those who will give it a chance. Still searching.


This Is Where I Leave You - Movie Poster

This Is Where I Leave You

3.0 Jan Di Pietro

When their father passes away, four grown siblings are forced to return to their childhood home.

Life isn't perfect, and the dramas and absurdities within it are manageable, so long as there is honesty and communication. "This is Where I Leave You" likens secrets to cancer, positing human beings as creatures who grow through obstacles. A noble message. This neatly wrapped package contains endearing characters who actively cancel out some expository excrement early on. Although the premise is poorly justified, it's a genuinely enjoyable story, living up to the comedy/drama promise. If we all had a portable potty to enjoy anytime, anywhere, things'd be just great.


Living Is Easy with Eyes Closed - Movie Poster

Living Is Easy with Eyes Closed

4.0 Anne Murphy

Spain, 1966, a high-school teacher, Antonio, drives to the town of Almeria in hopes of meeting his hero, John Lennon.

The most striking aspect of this movie is the warmheartedness of the central characters, the teacher, a young woman, and a boy who has left home. On the road together they create an engaging tale, each on their own journey of discovery. Instances of random cruelty provide a caustic note and serve as a reminder of the political backdrop of a country under fascist rule. Close your eyes and this is a feel good story, but living is just not that easy.


What We Do in the Shadows - Movie Poster

What We Do in the Shadows

3.5 Anthony Macali

Follow the lives of three flatmates who are just trying to get by and overcome life's obstacles, like being immortal vampires.

"What We Do in the Shadows" demonstrates that life is hard for a vampire in Wellington. In true mockumentary style, the introduction of a wide-range of housemates is the best and funniest part of the film. The dry humour and deadpan delivery creates many laugh-out-loud moments, as it employs the classic bloodsucker traits and applies them to the modern world. While the lack of a story becomes prevalent towards the end, it doesn't last too long. They do hilarious.


The Inbetweeners 2 - Movie Poster

The Inbetweeners 2

3.0 Andrew O'Dea

Neil, Will and Simon receive an invite from Jay to join him in Australia whilst on his gap year, who promises them it's "the sex capital of the world".

"The Inbetweeners 2" reunites its audience with the foul mouthed, awkward quartet in this relentless procession of puerile comedy. Those expecting anything even remotely more than lowbrow humour and excrement gags will be sorely disappointed. Shock value is at the forefront of what is an otherwise flimsy film, with some truly cringe-worthy set pieces providing moments of genuinely uproarious laughter. Well-good banter.


22 Jump Street - Movie Poster

22 Jump Street

4.0 Andrew O'Dea

After making their way through high school (twice), big changes are in store for officers Schmidt and Jenko when they go deep undercover at a local college.

"22 Jump Street" is one of those rare sequels that meets expectations and perhaps even improves upon its predecessor. This satirical comedy is preposterous in the best possible way, and the effortless chemistry between the leads keeps their bromance constantly amusing and often hilarious. The self-referential humour is both senselessly silly and witty, making fun of its own recycled nature – be sure to stick around for the end credits. Bring on the jump to 23.


Blended - Movie Poster

Blended

1.0 Anne Murphy

After a bad blind date, a man and woman find themselves stuck together at a resort for families, where their attraction grows as their respective kids benefit from the burgeoning relationship.

Towards the end of its running time, this movie goes all out to deliver on the feel-good front. Wait for it and you'll leave the cinema smiling. All of the vulgarities fade, and the sexism and racism the audience has endured gets airbrushed away with lovey-fuzzy-happy. Is it worth it? Unless you need a serotonin boost skip this movie, and go out to lunch, sans family. Blended? More like mashed.


The Trip to Italy - Movie Poster

The Trip to Italy

2.5 Anne Murphy

Two men, six meals in six different places on a road trip around Italy. Liguria, Tuscany, Rome, Amalfi and ending in Capri.

Part way through "The Trip to Italy", and probably mid-guffaw, you might start wondering why you're watching. The sometimes improvised dialogue starts to wear a little thin with yet another repeated impersonation. The guys are living the dolce vita and certainly eating well in spectacular settings. This is a pleasant enough romp yet at the same time it's all talk and no action, going to show that you can travel the length of Italy and not get anywhere. Prego.


A Million Ways to Die in the West - Movie Poster

A Million Ways to Die in the West

2.5 Anthony Macali

As a cowardly farmer begins to fall for the mysterious new woman in town, he must put his new-found courage to the test.

"A Million Ways to Die in the West" sure is persistent in preaching the dangers of the American frontier, and happily employs the language of today to make fun of it. Sadly the modern speech serves very little purpose except to describe countless sketches of vulgarity, toilet humour and poor slapstick. Characters come and go, with an alarming number of cameos, but much like the main star, shoot off jokes that repeatedly miss the target. There are better ways to laugh in the cinema.


Bad Neighbours - Movie Poster

Bad Neighbours

4.0 Andrew O'Dea

A couple with a newborn face unexpected difficulties after they're forced to live next to a frat house.

Thanks to witty script and inventive humour, "Bad Neighbours" successfully teeters the fine line between being clever and tasteless. The life of a college party animal is juxtaposed with the role of responsible parent in this foul-mouthed, low-brow frat house comedy about people denying the inevitable changes that come with getting older. Energetic and engagingly stupid, the unlikely duo at the films core drive the laughs, as hilarious generational warfare accelerates from one over-the-top set piece to another. Welcome to the neighbourhood.


Bad Neighbours - Movie Poster

Bad Neighbours

2.0 Anthony Macali

A couple with a newborn face unexpected difficulties after they're forced to live next to a frat house.

"Bad Neighbours" lives up to the name. These new arrivals are loud, noisy and not very funny. It's apparent the dialogue is largely made of improvisation; a continuous set of fraternity gags and two conniving parents… neither side of the fence is a winner. All the best jokes have cultural references, and with the film won't stand the test of time. The excruciating characters and experience make the running time feel so long. Just bad.


Chef - Movie Poster

Chef

3.0 Anne Murphy

A chef who loses his restaurant job starts up a food truck in an effort to reclaim his creative promise, while piecing back together his estranged family.

Don't see "Chef" on an empty stomach, the food on the screen is mouth-watering, and will have stomachs rumbling. Interestingly, this is a movie as much about social media as it is food trucks. Mix troubled relationships between friends with a road trip, and there are no prizes for guessing what's served up. It is a feel good film though, and what the story lacks in flair it makes up with fun. Flavoursome but formulaic.


Fading Gigolo - Movie Poster

Fading Gigolo

4.0 Anne Murphy

Fioravante decides to become a professional Don Juan as a way of making money to help his cash-strapped friend, Murray.

The themes of love, morality, and mortality are explored as a florist ventures into what is known as the oldest profession in the world. "Fading Gigilo" is richly textured and unexpectedly charming thanks to the characters and larger than life actors who play them. When watching, tenderness is found in the smallest moments, a glance, a sigh, or a word not spoken. The only discordant note comes from the soundtrack as the background music dominates at times. Be seduced.


The Lego Movie - Movie Poster

The Lego Movie

3.5 Anthony Macali

An ordinary Lego construction worker, thought to be the prophesied 'Special', is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil tyrant from gluing the Lego universe into eternal stasis.

"The Lego Movie" is an amusing anti-hero story wrapped in a world of little interconnecting blocks. It's puzzling to identify the target audience; adults will revel in the nostalgia and quick-wit, while kids will delight in the fast and frenetic colour and explosions. The film-makers have exceeded expectations in capturing the wonderful creativity and fun of their subject matter, with brilliant characters and animation. Break out the toy box, Lego is awesome.


The Grand Budapest Hotel - Movie Poster

The Grand Budapest Hotel

5.0 Anne Murphy

The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.

The hotel is sited in a fictional wonderland somewhere in Europe around the time of the outbreak of the Second World War. Quirky is the adjective that springs to mind when describing this portrayal of one man's remarkable life. In addition to being a visual feast, this immensely enjoyable movie is delightfully funny with an unpredictable story-line. "The Grand Budapest Hotel" is enthralling, and all but faultless. Ask for the concierge and check-in now.


Muppets Most Wanted - Movie Poster

Muppets Most Wanted

2.5 Anthony Macali

While on a grand world tour, The Muppets find themselves wrapped into an European jewel-heist caper headed by a Kermit the Frog look-alike and his dastardly sidekick.

"Muppets Most Wanted" bears all the classic tropes of a sequel low on ideas and thin on plot. It's still impossible to resist the innocuous charm and nostalgia of the wildly animated characters, looking so great in their colourful skins. Moving at a fast pace, the jokes are largely hit-and-miss. While the hits are funny, it’s unlikely this rag-tag crew will win over any new audiences with this show, despite the support of countless cameos. Most conventional.


In a World... - Movie Poster

In a World...

3.0 Anne Murphy

An underachieving voice coach finds herself competing in the movie trailer voice-over profession against her arrogant father and his protégé.

Indie films, such as this one, often have a wisdom that belies their budget. "In a World" is wise along with the wise-cracks, and there's something deft in how points are made around perennially topical social themes like sexism without causing discomfort. It is witty rather than sharp and endearing in lieu of irresistible, but overall convincing and clever. Like its lead character the movie is a likable underachiever. Yes, in a word.


Nebraska - Movie Poster

Nebraska

3.5 Anthony Macali

An aging, booze-addled father makes the trip from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son in order to claim a million-dollar Mega Sweepstakes Marketing prize.

"Nebraska" is the black-and-white story of a rather confused elderly man. His poignant history is revealed during an absurd adventure to the titular destination, ensuring a stop-over at the town of his birth grants us a glimpse of small-town country life. All the characters we meet are equally colourful and droll, while conveying the quiet fragility and banal habits of old age. Simple and stripped-back, the film is a winner thanks to its lovable lead. Rich in sympathy and laughter.


Are We Officially Dating? - Movie Poster

Are We Officially Dating?

2.5 Anthony Macali

Three best friends find themselves where we've all been - at that confusing moment in every dating relationship when you have to decide "So... where is this going?"

That awkward moment "Are We Official Dating?" is about is barely spoken out. What dominates most of the discussion of its young cast is how sex and relationships work in the modern day, in all of its vulgar and candid glory. Regrettably the film is a little too inconsistent to get its underlying moral messages across, serving up a disconnected mix of comedic set pieces and 'dating' advice. A refreshing topic, but not bold enough to challenge the Hollywood ideals. Caught in the middle.


Last Vegas - Movie Poster

Last Vegas

2.5 Anthony Macali

Three sixty-something friends take a break from their day-to-day lives to throw a bachelor party in Las Vegas for their last remaining single pal.

In "Last Vegas" all the characters are winners. The illustrious cast is a sight to behold, it's just such a shame how their collaboration is played out in this tame effort. Sexagenarian jokes about prostates and bad hips come with the territory, and although some are mildly /amusing, the film never strays far from its predictable and happy ending. As fun as a debaucherous weekend can be in the city of lights, this outing is careful not to offend. A disappointing reunion.


The Wolf of Wall Street - Movie Poster

The Wolf of Wall Street

3.0 Andrew O'Dea

Based on the true story of Jordan Belfort, from his rise to a wealthy stockbroker to his desperate fall.

This character driven story is an amoral orgy of excess fuelled by drugs, sex... and money. While being an indictment of greed, there are no moralistic judgements; instead the white-collar criminals damn themselves. Outrageous hilarity ensues as the audience are invited to revel in unbridled decadence and debauchery. A stylistic and witty film featuring remarkable performances, the only flaw is an overindulgence in running time, making it difficult to hold the audience's attention in parts. Although it huffs and puffs, it just doesn't quite blow the house down.


Frozen - Movie Poster

Frozen

3.0 Anthony Macali

Fearless optimist Anna teams up with Kristoff in an epic journey to find Anna's sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom in eternal winter.

"Frozen" is the story of two sisters surrounded by a dazzling world of ice that gleams so impressively in this animation. While the characters and relationships are tailored to suit a modern audience, the core of the story sticks to a classic formula with familiar themes of family and love. Full of adventure and laughs thanks to a troupe of goofy sidekicks, this film distinguishes itself with merry displays of music and song. For the young princesses of the world.


The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - Movie Poster

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

4.0 Anne Murphy

A day-dreamer escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action.

Suspend disbelief and step into the sort of adventure we ordinary folk only dream about. In addition to the ripping story line there are quirky characters and a stunning visual presentation, a magical combination. There is an interesting sub-plot about corporatism and the value placed on the bottom line rather than employees which has us hoping that someone can pull a rabbit from a hat. Remind the cynics when they scoff that it is the star gazers who create the magic. Shhh.


August: Osage County - Movie Poster

August: Osage County

3.5 Anthony Macali

A look at the lives of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose paths have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Oklahoma house they grew up in.

"August: Osage County" plays host to a family steeped in unresolved issues. As each character is introduced, they bring extra weight to the drama. Based on a play, there are no small parts to this story, allowing each member of the ensemble to thrive, most memorably when they sit together in a dining scene to never forget. While the film lingers towards its conclusion, there's no doubt individuals will resonate identify with parts of the narrative before the end. Funny: Sad Family.


Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues - Movie Poster

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

3.0 Andrew O'Dea

With the 70s behind him, San Diego's top rated newsman, Ron Burgundy, returns to take New York's first 24-hour news channel by storm.

Vintage Ron Burgundy returns to the screen in this fantastically outrageous sequel. Not nearly as much fun as the prelude, hard-core fans will no doubt be left in stitches by the familiar silliness of "Anchorman 2", and the rapport of its cast who shine in their individual performances. The film is downright hilarious in parts, only to be let down by stretches of padded, low-brow humour in-between. By no means a comedic gem, but offers just enough to stay classy.