The Butcher, the Chef, and the SwordsmanAnne Murphy
A tale of revenge, honour and greed follows a group of misfits that gets involved with a kitchen cleaver made from the top five swords of the martial arts world.
Ignorance, vengeance, and greed are the vices woven into stories that are furiously threaded together to create this movie. The pace is reckless and the characters are curious, if not downright bizarre, in a comic book sort of way. Not that the production suffers for any of it - it's vibrant, irreverent, energetic and very funny - just hang on for the ride. A slapstick bombardment of this, that, and the other.
I Love You Phillip MorrisAnne Murphy
Steven Russell is happily married to Debbie, a member of the local police force, when a car accident provokes a dramatic reassessment of his life.
"I Love You Phillip Morris" contains some squirmingly uncomfortable stereotyping of various characters, and a flawed portrayal of gay men played for laughs by straight men. It's as unfunny as it is shallow, particularly disappointing is that the central romance is underdeveloped. The story, with its furious pace, covers a lot of events, mostly prison escapes, and unfortunately that's at the expense of real insight or depth. You might love Phillip Morris but probably not Steven Russell.
A junior high school musical, about a frizzy-haired, hermaphrodite, an outcast who fights back.
The main character is called Spork, after an implement that's part spoon and part fork. The name provides a hint about the style of movie this is, where life is played out in an exaggerated comic book style. "Spork" is fun, a singing and dancing movie populated with a likable collection of quirky friends surrounding the central misfit. The movie's theme is one of self-acceptance over fitting in with any group, all realised through a satisfying, if nasty, battle between the outcasts and the mainstream. Put a spork in it.
Griff the InvisibleAnne Murphy
Griff, office worker by day, superhero by night, has his world turned upside down when he meets Melody, a beautiful young scientist who shares his passion for the impossible.
This fabulous movie is set against an atmospheric Sydney backdrop. It's not quite Gotham City, but then "Griff the Invisible" is quintessential Australian film-making, both in accent and flair. Featuring a loner who creates his own world, the film is comic without hilarity, and presents with a refreshingly grounded style as a result. Griff is not like everybody else, he wouldn't want to be, he's as much anti-hero as super-hero. I see you.
Violet TendenciesAnne Murphy
A woman tries to distance herself from her gay friends in an effort to land a straight boyfriend.
"Violet Tendencies" is vibrant rom-com. It cracks a rollicking pace and has a buoyant mood to a point of almost being over-loaded with comic social observations. If there are more quips than conversation, it doesn't mean that the flamboyant characters don't take themselves seriously. The various couples and singles are trying to grow up and there's an earnest 'what next?' question being asked. A funny, smutty and entertaining offering that asks little of its audience. Paint me purple.
The Clink of IceAnne Murphy
An alcoholic writer is visited by an incarnation of his cancer.
"The Clink of Ice" is as original as it is deeply and darkly humorous. Imagine bantering with your life threatening illness and laughing. The premise of personifying a malignant disease in a suit sets up an intriguing film. Not that there is anything funny about cancer or facing death. Typically we deride perverse situations as being as 'funny as cancer' but the director and cast prove dexterous enough to turn that assertion around. As bleak as the themes of the movie are, the clinking of ice muffles the death knell.
All That GlittersAnne Murphy
Two young women who have been friends since childhood are daring in their attempts to gain access to a social class beyond their reach.
A surprisingly unpretentious comedy that will speak to the aspirations and angst of many adolescents enthralled by the world of glamour and fashion. The film is anchored by the friendship of two central characters, who enthuse the story with their daring and their dreams. There are social messages on many levels, as the girls also manage to dismay with their denial of their backgrounds and family. "All That Glitters" is stylish, energetic, mischievous... and glittering.
Hall PassAndrew O'Dea
A married man is granted the opportunity to have an affair by his wife. Joined in the fun by his best pal, things get a little out of control when both wives start engaging in extramarital activities as well.
"Hall Pass" is a hit-and-miss comedy that provides some genuinely hilarious moments. The problem is, outrageous will only get you so far, and when you rely so heavily on repeated shock value to sustain a film, it loses value and becomes predictable. It's disappointing that the directors don't deliver on what could've potentially been a seriously funny escapade, given the subject matter. Not even close to a pass mark.
Big Mommas: Like Father, Like SonWendy Slevison
FBI agent Malcolm Turner and his stepson Trent go undercover at an all-girls performing arts school after Trent witnesses a murder.
This is not the kind of movie you go to see hoping for an original and engaging comedy. The premise is an oldie, but not necessarily a goodie - a ludicrous tale where it becomes imperative for a couple of hitherto "normal" men to dress as overweight, gaudily styled women in order to avoid detection by the so-called bad guys. There are a few laughs in this completely over the top shambles, but not the kind that make you feel good inside. Please Big Momma... no more... moviegoers deserve better.
Tamara DreweAnthony Macali
A young newspaper writer returns to her hometown in the English countryside, where her childhood home is being prepped for sale.
"Tamara Drewe" returns, and like the disconcerted locals and writers on retreat, we clamour around to marvel at her new-found nose, beauty and other news. As curious onlookers, the quaint setting becomes home to the audience, the perfect setting for chaos to unfold. The delectable cast is irreplaceable, as the intertwining relationships are constantly formed then torn, building to a climax that will leave you flabbergasted. For those partial to small-town gossip.
Mr. and Mrs. IncredibleAnne Murphy
In ancient China, a husband and wife, both of them retired superheroes, contend with the high cost of living, infertility, and other contemporary life issues.
A movie that doesn't take itself too seriously is always good viewing, and "Mr and Mrs Incredible" is just such a film. The feel-good story around a happy marital life of the charismatic lead characters is spiced up with a little martial arts action, all delivered in a mythical Chinese style. Fantasy and reality are cheerfully interwoven in a remote village filled with vivid and colourful characters. Bright and enjoyable, rather than incredible.
Gnomeo & JulietAnne Murphy
Garden gnomes Gnomeo and Juliet have as many obstacles to overcome as their quasi namesakes when they are caught up in a feud between neighbours.
"Gnomeo and Juliet" is an animated frolic up the garden path. The concept is cute, and the plot adaptation of the classic tale of star crossed lovers is kitsch. This quality children's production is hobbled by its adult storyline. Still, there's much for young audiences to enjoy, a colorful and dramatic build, fabulous soundtrack and a jolly ending that transforms the original story of woe. Beyond the title the pun is fun but limited. Wherefore art thou Romeo?
No Strings AttachedThomas Jones
A guy and girl try to keep their relationship strictly physical.
What works in this film, is that the leads, despite being impossibly good looking, are relatable, likeable and convincing - not just actors trying to be comedians. The majority of the comedy comes from the supporting cast, who handle the often dirty/toilet humor in a way that makes you laugh and not gasp. Complimented by a superb soundtrack, this movie is hard not to enjoy on some level, but don't expect it to break any new ground for the genre. When it comes to romance and comedy, the strings are still very much attached.
How Do You KnowWendy Slevison
After being cut from the USA softball team, Lisa evaluates her life while in the middle of a love triangle, as a corporate guy in crisis competes with her current baseball-playing beau.
"How Do You Know" is a perfect example of how a fine movie is far more than the sum of its parts. The pedigree of the cast and director would have one believe that this could only be a sure thing, but unfortunately for all involved, it falls far short of being anything more than a waste of time and (lots of) money. It's excessively drawn-out and lacks warmth, chemistry and sincerity. So now you know - this film is to be shunned.
The Green HornetAnthony Macali
Following the death of his father, Britt Reid, heir to his father's large company, teams up with his late dad's assistant Kato to become a masked crime fighting team.
"The Green Hornet" tries to be cool, tries to be awesome... and fails dismally on both accounts. Our hero duo are completely uninspiring, and the film's meager amount of laughs are drawn from nothing but their bitterful banter and marvellings at high-tech creations with self-indulged clamour. The action scenes do their job, and there is an interesting sub-plot of media politics, but it arrives far too late in the piece for salvation. It sting's, it hurts, and has been done much better before.
Another YearAnne Murphy
A married couple, who have managed to remain blissfully happy into their autumn years, are surrounded by less contented friends, colleagues, and family.
The seasons mark the passing of "Another Year", an astutely observed study of the human condition, and the small joys and inevitable regrets that accompany aging. There is a hint of humour softening the melancholic tone of the movie. Relationships are scrutinised with realism far removed from the escapist view of life that's typical on the big screen. The audience views desolate portraits of people without props like bucket lists or golden ponds, only the inexorable ticking of time.
The DilemmaAnne Murphy
A man discovers that his best friend's wife is having an affair.
"The Dilemma" is a window into the phallocentric world of a couple of blokey blokes, and it might have been best to keep the blinds down. In a series of poorly edited improvisations, naif blockheads blunder around trying to bump into a joke. Serious themes are underdeveloped and presented with a whacky, zany tempo that leaves the effort uncomfortably mired in primitivism. It's disappointing given the plot opportunities to explore infidelity, depression, relationship, addictions, commitment and more. Insight or parody? No dilemma here mate, it's all ham.
Morning GloryAnne Murphy
An upstart television producer accepts the challenge of reviving a struggling morning show program with warring co-hosts.
"Morning Glory" is as cute as a kitten, and just as fluffy and playful. Audiences will find it either predictably amusing or predictably irritating, as it it sticks to a tried and true formula, offering no surprises and delivering on all expectations. This is a bright funny film with a big name cast, who appear to enjoy acting like cornflakes. It bubbles along with all of the snap, crackle, and pop that many enjoy in the morning.
A modern retelling of the story of Rapunzel, a Princess who has spent her entire life in a tower.
A feisty frypan-wielding heroine. A horse bursting with personality that behaves like a bloodhound. A quirky colour-changing sidekick. And, of course, hair - 70 feet of lush, golden, magical hair. It's all here - delightfully crafted characters and a rousing soundtrack, everything you'd hope for from its creators. The animation is a visual feast in its attention to detail, with a blend of old-school painting and drawing, and incredible 3D CGI. This film is a rollicking adventure that has heart, soul and humour. Go get tangled up in the queue to see it.
Alex and his sister run a business designed to break up relationships.
"Heartbreaker" is a sparkling rom-com that delights as it delivers everything you hope for from the genre. The movie is even a little tongue-in-cheeky, as it pokes fun at some of the romantic clichés we endure on the screen from lesser offerings. The ingredients are perfect - the lead characters being likeable rogues, a stylish Monaco setting, some knock your socks-off romantic wooing, and a satisfying conclusion that is not teased out for feel good purposes, but still manages to feel good. All in all, a charming heart warmer.
Little FockersAnne Murphy
Family-patriarch Jack Byrnes wants to appoint a successor.
The third installment of a movie franchise is unlikely to attract new viewers and seasoned fans of this series will know what they're in for. Be warned, "Meet the Fockers" fails to deliver to the standard of the earlier releases. This one is a fumbling montage of cheap gags delivered by actors you can only wish had something better to do - even the endless plays on the 'F' word are wearing thin. Cinema goers deserve better. It's time for audiences to ask, "What the Fock?".
Love and Other DrugsAnne Murphy
Maggie is an alluring free spirit who won't let anyone - or anything - tie her down.
"Love and Other Drugs" is a love story that hams it up and attempts to pass as a rom-com. There’s a super dose of romance as the themes of love, relationships and commitment are played out with enough depth to dissolve any hard-hearted genre cynicism. There are some annoyingly superficial and muddled moments offsetting the serious underlying themes of illness and the drug industry with levity. Watching this mixed up but enjoyable offering you're stirred rather shaken. Humming; "Jump up, bubble up, what's in store?".
Primary school teacher Paul Maddens is charged with producing the school's nativity play.
"Nativity!" delivers warm, family friendly, Christmas cheer by the manger full. The story-line is corny, and the plot holes are substantial yet all is forgiven because it's funny and it's cute. The feel-good factor is pumped right up and delivered upon. The final scene, in particular, is fabulous, with some foot tapping original songs and knock-out performances by the children. Audience members in the demographic the film is aimed at clapped as the credits rolled. A jovial ho ho ho was enjoyed even though a bah-humbug was anticipated.
Wild TargetAnthony Macali
A hitman tries to retire but a beautiful thief may change his plans.
"Wild Target" is remake with all things British, recruiting the help of some of its finest actors to impart the land's odd humour. As the professional killer goes about his deadly serious business, his actions are unmistakably downplayed and amusing. The jolly music is turned up, and the film reaches a far greater audience. The result is fun, although many jokes are often hit and miss, and the pace is all over the place. In the end, the charm of its main characters, all criminals, will win you over. A wild romp.
Rare ExportsAndrew O'Dea
In the depths of the Korvatunturi Mountains in Finland, 486 metres deep, lies the closest ever guarded secret of Christmas.
"Rare Exports" is a clever horror comedy that presents a very dark take on the tradition of Santa Claus. The unique and intelligent premise is what drives the film, and although some may find it slow in parts, the unusual story is strangely entertaining. It has a distinct visual style set against the white and cold of remote Finland, and considering its minimal budget, the perfectly apt CGI puts most big-budget Hollywood fare to shame. Perfectly fine stocking-filler.