Archives for posts with tag: review

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Keep your hands off my lobby boy!”

 

Once again, the great Wes Anderson has left me in awe with a wonderful adventure involving eccentric characters, stunning use of colour and an amazing ensemble. Like Moonrise Kingdom, this is a tale filled to the brim with quirkiness, within 5 minutes you’ll be laughing at the oddness of Tom Wilkinson’s narration which is cut short by his immature son! The film begins with a young girl reading a novel by “The Author”, the aspect ratio is unusually not what you’d see in a standard multiplex, that being 1.85 and doesn’t fit the entire screen. The Author is revealed to be Tom Wilkinson who tells us of his adventure to the Grand Budapest Hotel in 1968. The aspect ratio now changes to 2.35:1 and the younger Author (Jude Law) continues the narration, meeting the owner of the fallen hotel, Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham) who tells the Author of how he came to acquire the hotel. The ratio has now changed to 1.33 and it’s now 1932 in the Republic of Zubrowka. Zero now narrates his story with his younger self now in the picture (newcomer Tony Revolori). He meets the concierge of the GBH, Monsieur Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes), an eccentric man who constantly mixes business and pleasure in his work. From there, the audience is left to enjoy the oddness, the deceit and the exceptional service of a grand hotel leading to an outrageous adventure. 

Wes Anderson is such an obvious auteur and The Grand Budapest Hotel is just another perfect example of his stamp mark for cinema. The colours are very striking and brighten up the hotel along with its inhabitants such as the uniforms being a vibrant purple and the elevators in bright red which heavily contrast one another. The humour from his script is just fantastic, its there in every single scene no matter how crude or violent the circumstances are. Wes as usual, creates the oddest of characters from very serious actors such as Harvey Keitel and Adrian Brody. Ralph Fiennes is incredible and this is a role that is so well suited for him, despite being known as a Shakespearian actor and portraying dark characters such as Nazi war criminal Amon Goeth in Schindler’s List and serial killer Francis Dolarhyde in Red Dragon, he steals the show with such a loving and charming character. The Grand Budapest Hotel is definitely a top contender for the best films of 2014, Wes has created another classic film that is funny, profound, slightly violent and beautiful. I recommend to watch it as soon as possible, it’s a film for everyone to see about the joys of top notch service!

5/5 

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‘There is no record of an orca doing any harm to a human in the wild.’

A compelling documentary which pushes the boundaries of captivity through astonishing filmmaking. Much like previous documentaries such as ‘The Impostor’, ‘Blackfish’ is constructed very much like a psychological thriller which had me at the edge of my seat whilst also mesmerised at how stunning the Orca truly is. Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite captures Orcas in their purest form in the ocean, connoting how they aren’t just average mammals but very intelligent and beautiful who shouldn’t be captured for the sake of entertainment at places such as SeaWorld.

Experts are shown through the talking head interview style presenting that although the Orca is a magnificent creature in the wild, whilst in captivity the Orca is sadly a threat to the trainers of SeaWorld. Throughout the film, I was very disturbed by what was shown to me such as the number of dangerous incidents involving Orcas being emphasised. Archive footage is shown over the years at SeaWorld showing what an Orca is capable of doing such as dragging a trainer to the bottom of the tank in an attempt to drown them. I was once again shocked at how this can happen even though SeaWorld is presented as a company which doesn’t seem bothered at the problem which frustrated me. Former trainers at SeaWorld try and deduce why this would happen and it’s obvious that the Orcas are clearly frustrated with the very enclosing spaces they now have to live in. It seems that Cowperthwaite makes it feel very much like a prison with no hope of escape. 

SeaWorld isn’t exactly given a positive presentation in this film. I was appalled at the archive footage which presents some of the disrespectful things they state such as blaming trainers for their own deaths/injuries instead of the Orcas who are actually responsible. There were also ridiculous inaccuracies that were said by some of the workers who state to the general public that orcas can live up to 35 years when actually, the experts show they can live up to 100 years old. The film is very well directed and edited by Cowperthwaite and Eli Despres respectively that it really puts you in the mindset of an Orca, asking is it worth exploiting their amazing character for mere entertainment? The answer is clearly no as this results in crushing their positives spirits into something deadly and very upsetting. The music by Jeff Beal I also felt fitted in well, with frequent harmonies presenting both the good and bad sides of the Orca and how people felt witnessing this.

It isn’t just the trainers who are presented to be at risk of injury or death from an Orca but even the Orcas themselves. There are very unsettling scenes presenting some Orcas attacking others brutally out of, once again, frustration and suffering is implied from both Orcas involved which made me feel angered at SeaWorld yet again. The trainers interviewed for the film I felt had interesting stories to tell, they do indeed feel angered by SeaWorld but have fond memories with killer whales such as Tilikum, a 12,000 pound Orca who was involved in the deaths of two trainers. I was moved by what they had to say whilst the archive footage presents them at work bonding with the Orcas that it felt like Cowperthwaite was implying a deep kindred spirit.

I was shocked but very moved by ‘Blackfish’. It shocks me that this truth presented something that actually happened and impacted a lot of people. For me, this is a very important film about our morality and if capturing animals is an acceptable thing to do in this day and age. ‘Blackfish’ clearly states no and has profound evidence from footage, trainers and Orca experts that it really tries to persuade that we have to help killer whales be set free. I certainly agree, how can’t you after being moved by such amazing creatures? There’s so much charm to them and they deserve compassion, love and most importantly, the freedom to roam the ocean without suffering and without loss.

5/5

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“Groovy.”

In the sort of sequel to Evil Dead, Sam Raimi creates a more interesting cult horror than the previous incarnation which is super violent, fun and most of all, silly! Raimi originally intended for previous Evil Dead to also be a horror comedy and as much as I find the hyperbolic gore and dialogue in the first film to be kind of hilarious, it is nowhere near as good as this beautiful masterpiece of horror! The film sort of picks up where the first film left of (I will warn there’s lots of continuity errors in this beautiful franchise) following the hero of the trilogy, Ash (the man, the myth, the legend – Bruce Campbell) who discovers the ‘Necronomicon Ex-Mortis’ (The Book of the Dead) and accidentally releases an evil demonic force. Now Ash must use his courage to battle against evil, with very funny results!

The brilliance in this film is the pacing. The first film took a good, but understandable while in developing the discovery of the book. This film however, only takes a few minutes. The iconic POV sped up shot of the evil kicks in, removing a plot build up but still keeping the suspense and excitement in what Ash will face. It’s just so simple, removing a little bits of horror development for the love of cheesy dialogue, alright acting (sorry Bruce, you’re an awesome dude because of your acting don’t worry!) and of course…GORE! The violence is what you’d expect if you’ve seen the first film, but it’s all the more funny because of clumsy Ash as he faces flying limbs, blood fountains and even his sanity! The special effects such as stop motion are also top notch and definitely beat all the over the top CGI you’d see from a current spoon feeding “horror”. Raimi use of makeup once again is also amazing, the detail on the demons faces for a modern audience looks old but it really works a lot better than nowadays such as CGI being used for Freddy Kruger for the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010). 

It’s understandable why this film is a cult classic, it’s Sam Raimi and Bruce ‘Chin’ Campbell at their finest hour (how were they involved in Spider-Man?). It’s a perfect film for any horror fan who wants a scare and a righteous laugh out loud. Evil Dead II is a low budget B movie classic that captures so much entertainment in 90 minutes that it deserves to be the best out of all the trilogy with its comical acting, amazing effects, camp script and all round sense of entertainment. It’s quite simply…*intense Ash voice* groovy.

5/5

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“Hi doggy!”

Where shall I begin with The Room? Maybe the fact it’s dubbed “the Citizen Kane of bad movies” by Entertainment Weekly? Maybe the fact that 10 years on it still sells out theatres across the globe? Maybe the fact it is one of the worst films I have ever seen in my life? No kidding, considering the poor acting, TERRIBLE editing, meme generating script and such. But wait, The Room is also one of my all-time favourite films, I’d go as far as to put it in my top 50 films list! The film department’s probably in tears hearing this, but they have to understand that The Room is just something else: Once you enter The Room, you can’t quit The Room! Tommy Wiseau as the director, star, writer and producer predicted over 10 years ago that this film would conquer the world and look at how right this mystery man is. Basically, this film is terrible beyond belief.

Wiseau stars as Johnny, a successful banker in San Francisco whose life begins to crumble as his friends betray him one by one. A very simple plot, but the main narrative isn’t the major problem with this film, I won’t go into massive detail but I’ll ever so slightly hint. Firstly, the editing doesn’t make sense as a whole and the acting is beyond poor, Wiseau’s performance as an example is just so odd for various reasons. He has a very unusual accent which is so humorous and hard to understand at times but you really can’t help but love his ever so dramatic (sarcasm intended) portrayal of a sweet guy. Because of his mysterious persona, he refuses to reveal where he’s from. Many believe France, some Eastern Europe and some even go as far to state he is in fact…an alien! Because of the poor acting, a lot of the dialogue had to be dubbed but it is so out of sync with the film itself due to editing. That’s it! I will say no more, just watch The Room and forget everything you know about film!

In December 2013, I did my usual routine of searching through what the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square was screening and discovered that TOMMY WISEAU AND co-star Greg Sestero would be there in person for a Q&A screening in February 2014. I immediately booked my ticket and learned that they sold over 1000 across one single weekend.

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So there I was, first in line queuing an hour and half early before the Q&A begins, when suddenly, half an hour before…there they were, Greg in all his glory bearing a Drive Scorpion jacket who walks straight into the cinema after giving me a quick smile. Tommy runs along the line of the queue wearing nighttime glasses and two belts whilst people cheer his name. He then comes up to me with a simple “Hi. How you doin’?” offering his hand which I gladly accept. The PCC lay down the ground rules: No metal spoons, no American footballs, no booze. Simple. I entered, dropped my coat off at the front and ran to get a signed DVD and a pic. I was to a certain degree starstruck, just at the fact these guys are involved in a cult phenomenon…and of the fact Tommy is one of the weirdest people I’ve ever met. Greg passes the DVD to Tommy who insists on shaking my hand again two more times. Then after the picture (see below) I walk away offering my thanks when suddenly Tommy grabs onto my shoulder and once again, insists on shaking my hand for the forth time!

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Still can’t get over that’s actually me with Greg Sestero (left) and the man, the myth, the legend, Tommy Wiseau (right).

The Q&A experience was fantastic and downright hilarious! Questions ranged from “Favourite film?” to which Tommy would answer what everyone expected: “Citizen KAAAANE!!!!”. Tommy also offered blessings and dog-tags on stage to whoever bought Tommy Wiseau brand pants, and of course the blessing was beautiful “*name* In the name of the Father, the Son and the Goly Dhost hope you have a happy 2014 MOVE ON!!”. The film was screened and without a doubt it was one of the best cinema experiences of my life. The crowd was so enthusiastic about the whole thing, just constant cheers and screams of the film’s flaws along with devout participation; such as the repetitive tracking shots of San Francisco, to which the audience is meant to scream: “MEANWHILE IN SAN FRANCISCO!”. There was also the throwing of plastic spoons, but I’ll let you as the reader find out the purpose of it (however, if you do know, then in that case: SPOONS!!). The whole thing was an hour and a half of me just laughing away at a screen which I’ll never forget. Seriously though, please watch The Room.

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Tommy was kind enough to write “Love is blind” along with his signature!

5/5 (I’m serious!)

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“Our daughter’s been abducted by one of these beige lunatics!”

Wes Anderson, known for his distinctive narratives featuring eccentric characters and a particular emphasis on colour has once again left me spellbound with a very unusual film about young love. Wes, like in most of his other well acclaimed films, includes a fantastic ensemble cast and newcomers combined to create something pretty and different from any other film you’d see in a multiplex.

The narrative is set in the 60s on a small communal island and concerns two children who fall in love. One is a reliable but isolated Scout named Sam (Jared Gilman), the other is a troubled schoolgirl named Suzy (Kara Hayward). The two decide to leave their problems behind and run away together. However, a search party is formed which includes Kara’s concerned parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand), a police officer (Bruce Willis) and Sam’s Scout Master (Edward Norton) which results in a desperate and hilarious adventure!

The film is without question, highly original and very funny. I particularly loved the humour in this film because personally, I feel anyone would enjoy this film due to the fact it’s not at all pretentious, it’s rather very quirky and doesn’t need to have severe amounts of crudeness, swearing and offensive taboos. The humour is all in the fantastic script written by the great Mr. Anderson himself and Roman Coppola and I felt it really stood out from most typical comedy films which have been pulverised by critics across the globe (Grown Ups 2 anyone?).

The cast all deliver fantastic performances. Moonrise Kingdom proves it really doesn’t matter how small some of the performances are, such as Harvey Keitel and Jason Schwartzman portraying a Scout Commander and Scout Master respectively, it still provides a warmth and of course lots of continuous laughs. Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward pull off brilliant performances considering this was their screen debut and both present a lovely and touching take on the development of a loving relationship. The ensemble in turn provide a huge backing of eccentricity. I love how Wes is able to get so many respected actors with brilliant careers and is able to make them portray characters that are so different from what they would usually portray, such as Bruce Willis, surprisingly offering an impressive performance in contrast to some of the more disastrous films he has appeared in (The Expendables series, A Good Day to *Cry* Hard…Why Bruce, why!?). Bill Murray and Frances McDormand also offer brilliant performances who engage in their roles so well as parents frantic for answers and a perfect plan of finding their daughter who they’re concerned with dearly. Edward Norton I believe gave the best performance overall as a shy but adventurous Master of Scouting, implying obvious desperation in finding and helping Sam with his isolation whilst trying to control the civil search party.

Wes Anderson overall offers a very sweet film with such stunning use of colour that the setting stood out and felt like a beautiful landscape painting made for the Louvre! Although it’s very different and silly for all the right reasons, Moonrise Kingdom is an eccentric and outstanding piece of filmmaking which is so enjoyable, original and downright funny.

5/5

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“It’s better to help people than garden gnomes.”

Jean-Pierre Jeunet, known for his surrealistic and melancholic films such as Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children returns with a very beautiful and humorous rom-com on nostalgia, childhood and love. Amélie concerns the title character portrayed stunningly by Audrey Tautou, a young women working in Paris who was isolated as a child due to overprotective parents. She decides to help people in various ways whilst failing in love at the same time.

Visually, the film is astonishingly pretty. I was very struck by how Jeunet’s use of colour was prominent throughout the entire film that it really reminded of the films of Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson (especially PTA’s Punch Drunk Love and its use of red, blue and white).  Amélie is infused throughout with red, green and yellow thus giving it a very pleasant appearance. I felt that red and green reflected on Amélie’s character because they appear in the majority of shots featuring her. Red symbolises her character considering most of her apartment is painted red and she also wears red throughout the film. I was more mesmerised by Jeunet’s use of green and felt it reflected the journey that Amélie must undergo throughout the film. His use of yellow gives Amélie’s world a very beautiful, dreamy appearance; making it appear older and all the more pretty.

For my money, I’d say Amélie is one of the best examples of French cinema I’ve seen in a while. Throughout the film, André Dussollier as the narrator mentions the journeys of many of the characters and the things they love and hate such as her parents and the connections in their lives. The cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel is also pleasing, employing frequent use of tracking shots and wide angles which in turn emphasise the colourful beauty of Paris. Audrey Tautou offers a very beautiful and funny performance as someone who may be unusual (such as imagining watching her funeral on TV due to loneliness) but still wants to enlighten her world as a heroine. Guillaume Laurant as the screenwriter offers a delightful take on romance and the awkwardness of finding love whilst the humour throughout is very refreshing.

Jean-Pierre Jeunet offers overall a very picturesque and hilarious film on the development of love and how the past affects the future. Lovely, interesting and endearing, I’ll definitely recommend this to anyone wanting a change from typical rom-coms. Amélie is a perfect example of cinema that’s feels so different and yet so engaging!

5/5

Image“Humbug”

Now here is an amazing film which I obsessed over on VHS as a child. Oh of course I would…it’s the merry Muppets in the joyous and hilarious re-telling of Charles Dickens’s classic tale A Christmas Carol.

Directed by Brian Henson, son of the late Muppet creator Jim Henson, the Muppets take you on a journey into 19th century London with Charles Dickens himself (otherwise known as Gonzo the Great!) telling the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine) as he encounters ghosts…and lots and lots AND lots of charming, humorous and smart Muppets! The film is without a shadow of a doubt, hilarious and I guarantee will make anyone laugh out loud!

I saw this film yesterday for the first time in 10 years at the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square (highly recommend a visit!) who offered a sing a long to film (they were even so kind to provide subtitles, presents to audience members AND even screened the moving song ‘When Love Is Gone’ via VHS since it was sadly cut from the theatrical version). How did I feel after it? I must admit, very euphoric! This was always a favourite film of mine as a child and really took me back to the festive season over 10 years ago! This is a film which I will recommend to anyone which is touching, very funny and will make you realise the importance of Christmas for everyone!

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“There’s only a few things I really care about in life. My body. My pad. My ride. My family. My church. My boys. My girls. My porn.”

Don Jon marks the directorial/screenwriting debut of actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, all I can say really is that we have a lot to look forward from this fantastic filmmaker!

The film follows the titular character played by Levitt who has a deep obsession with online pornography, so much so, he even prefers it to casual sex with local Jersey girls. He encounters a beautiful girl (Scarlet Johanson) who dreams of finding the perfect man and live like in the soppy rom-coms she adores and becomes desperate in balancing love and lust. Through meeting a night-school classmate (Julianne Moore), Jon begins to understand the real meanings of losing yourself in someone else.

What I think makes very special is its originality. It firstly deals with a controversial topic that’s so relevant in society and often featured as a serious taboo in the news and TV programs but Levitt takes it a little step further and adds a lot of wit through many of things his character cares about. Levitt repeats the same techniques in editing and cinematography in activities such as going to gym, going to confession, going to the local club which all connote Jon obsessive routine which adds simplicity and yet I still found the some of the routines hilarious such as Jon pulling a girl that his friend wanted to pull and whilst going through a serious workout, he prays the Hail Mary. Personally though, Julianne Moore stole the show, offering a sublime performance as a highly sensitive yet extremely thoughtful and caring individual who clearly shows support to Jon’s problems. A brilliant debut which is definitely one of the best films of 2013, very funny, very clever and very unique!

4/5

Image“He came home!”

Here’s the film which became a huge success for John Carpenter. Here’s the film which launched the career of Jamie Lee Curtis. Here’s the film which made the slasher genre a success. Here is one of the greatest horror films ever made!

The narrative is very simple. It tells the tale of Michael Myers, who on Halloween night in 1963 at a mere age of six, murdered his older sister with a kitchen knife. Fifteen years later, he escapes from a psychiatric hospital and returns home, stalking teenager Laurie Strode (Curtis) and her friends. Michael’s psychiatrist Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasence) suspects his intentions and follows him home to try prevent him from killing.

This is a very special film made with pure ambition and passion with a budget of $320,000 and ended up grossing $70 million worldwide. This is because of it’s originality and style and ended being copied in classics such as Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street, satirised in the Scream series and spoofed in the disastrous Scary Movie franchise. The chilling yet beautiful ‘Halloween Theme’, composed perfectly by Carpenter, sets the eerie mood at the beginning with a glowing jack-o-lantern which leads the audience to share Michael’s perspective when he stalks and kills his sister.

Halloween also introduced the cliqué of the morality play often used in slasher horror films. This means any teenager who is sexually active, smokes or who confidently states the AMAZING *sarcasm intended* “I’ll be right back” is at risk of meeting a very tall disturbing looking geezer wearing a William Shatner mask who breathes very very very heavily!

The cinematography by Dean Cundey is interestingly composed, creating fantastic use of the steadicam to make the camera lens appear as the stalker of the suburbs. The lack of gore is also very effective and instead, Carpenter uses cinematography, lighting and sound to create a frightening atmosphere rather than blood and guts everywhere.

The cast all deliver very naturalistic and charismatic performances. Donald Pleasence brings fear, control and dignity to his role. His character is someone who once cared for Michael but now lacks the ambition because he knows there is no way of getting through to a person who is “purely and simply evil”. Jamie Lee Curtis delivers a fantastic debut as an innocent teenager who tries to escape Michael’s deadly rampage whilst delivering it in a very realistic manner. No wonder why she earned her title and followed her mother’s (Janet Leigh from the classic Psycho) footsteps as a “Scream Queen”

Still frightening as it was 35 years ago, Halloween is a master of suspense, terror and fear in a peaceful appearing yet haunting setting. Simple, intimate and special. This was the film which single-handedly started and helped shape a new genre of horror! Now watch it on Halloween night, I dare you!

5/5

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“I don’t know if there is anything wrong because I don’t know how other people are.”

Paul Thomas Anderson has been called one of the greatest and unique filmmakers of his generation, especially after the releases of highly acclaimed Boogie Nights and Magnolia. Anderson stated after Magnolia’s release that he’d like to work with Adam Sandler in a film lasting only 90 minutes. Sandler is not exactly well loved by critics (especially by the late Roger Ebert) but boy oh boy! Both Sandler and Anderson have created a beautifully crafted piece of cinema portraying the realistic nature of finding love.

Sander portrays in the narrative Barry, a lonely small time business man who is constantly emotionally abused by his seven over-bearing sisters. Because of this, he goes through periods of enormous rage and has problems interacting with others. However, things appear more positive when Lena (Emily Watson) is introduced in his life. From there, Barry tries to find ultimate happiness through Lena and wants to change his life around for the better.

PTA’s script is fantastically written portraying the very unique relationship between Barry and Lena. What I think makes this film so much more special is how it deliberately avoids typical conventions of rom-coms and instead implies a very believable relationship because of the awkwardness of the developing romance. Besides that, the symbolism throughout the film is incredible and very clever such as colour connoting Barry’s psychological battle. Blue is frequently seen as the suit Barry wears, his workplace and his home. Red is used to serve as the colour to Barry’s ultimate happiness such as Lena wearing red on their first date. White is used to contrast red since Barry travels and works in white environments which are isolated such as his office.

The cinematography by Robert Elswit is outstanding. The use of lengthy long shots and close ups reinforce Barry’s loneliness and isolation to the outside world. My favourite shot from the film has to be the opening, I was amazed with how it instantly reflected on Barry’s emotional and physical state since he is so far away. Not only that, symbolism is used once again with Barry’s phone representing his connection to the outside world. The use of lens flares is also very effective (unlike J.J. Abrams’ overuse of it in Star Trek!) because it presents the genuine emotions Barry and Lena feel.

The score by Jon Brion is composed stunningly reflecting the relationship using frequent use of strings, accordions and the classic harmonium! What makes it distinct is that it sounds very much what you would expect from a rom-com score: lovely melody, no dissonance, perfect harmony, major key. These conventions all manage to fit in to this very authentic connection between Barry and Lena.

Besides all these unique features of cinema, it is also one of the funniest films I’ve ever seen. It’s definitely up there with Kevin Smith’s Clerks and Adam McKay’s Anchorman despite not having any hyperbolic uses of comedy. Instead, it feels like a very true representation of isolation whilst having realistic humour. The funniest scenes had to be between Sandler and Philip Seymour Hoffman who also portrays a business man with a massive temper who delivers in my mind the best ‘shut up’ line ever and the notorious ‘bathroom’ scene!

A joyful, dramatic and hilarious film. Punch-Drunk Love proves Sandler doesn’t always need to play the slapstick, over-the-top, goof-ball and PTA can write and direct a very interesting take on the comedy genre. This is a film with real heart and soul. Highly recommended!

5/5