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Good Boys

Comedy, Review, Theatrical, This Week Leave a Comment

With how high Point Grey Pictures’ star has risen over the 2010s – from the Bad Neighbours series to The Disaster Artist to Long Shot from earlier this year – them backing a film like this almost feels like a step backward. A story about three school kids who get into wacky and blue misadventures while trying to get to a party for the ‘cool kids’? Are they running back to Superbad already? While this definitely shares elements with that previous feature, it also has more than enough of its own merit to stand on its own.

Writers Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky (Year One, Bad Teacher) basically put enfant terrible on blast for the whole just-under-90-minute running time, getting a lot of mileage out of crass humour involving kids that kids themselves aren’t even allowed to see, a point brought home by the film’s Seth Rogen-featured marketing.

Jacob Tremblay, Keith L. Williams and Brady Noon do remarkably well with the dialogue, rattling off one-liners about sex, drugs and even a bit of rock’n’roll to make for a very high hit-to-miss ratio, one of the highest for a comedy to make it into cinemas in 2019.

There’s also plenty of Point Grey’s signature to be found within, as Rogen and Evan Goldberg productions tend to contain a lot of licensed music picks that border on the ingenious. Whether it’s ‘Walking On Sunshine’ used for hilariously tragic irony, Pusha T’s vocals on Yellow Claw’s ‘Nightmare’ providing great chase scene ambience, or Run The Jewels backing a version of ‘Frogger’ for the truly reckless, their pedigree for musical comedy remains healthily intact.

Not that this is just crassness and a good soundtrack just for their own sakes. Hell, it might not even be that similar to Superbad when all is said and done. If anything, it has more in common with Eighth Grade in how it uses a form of self-aware pretentiousness to highlight children who try (and mostly fail) to act and speak like adults because they’re at that point in life where that’s what they want to be: mature and grown-up. But as we see more of the kids around them, the high schoolers and even the adults, they themselves start to question what exactly ‘growing up’ and ‘being mature’ actually means.

In-between the frat house brawling, the ball-gag gags and what Tom Cruise in Rock Of Ages should have looked like, the insights made about pre-puberty and the forced environment for socialising that is public schooling are what leave the lingering effect. It provides a good head rush from all the giggling, but also surprising moments of poignancy that shows genuine heart underneath the profanity. There’s definitely a lot of crassness here, and those with a disdain for wall-to-wall vulgarity need not apply, but those with the taste for it, Good Boys makes for a pretty damn good showing.

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Trailer: Online Series Lucy & DiC

Expanded from the short film of the same name, the series is about Lucy (Lucy Gransbury), a girl who's always on the lookout for simple ways to improve her life, and DiC (voiced by Ethan 'Ozzyman' Marrell), her wise talking, foul-mouthed support drone.
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Hot Mess

Australian, Comedy, Festival, Review, This Week Leave a Comment

Australia is busting at the seams with talented young filmmakers creating content for TV and the web, all off their own steam, and with seemingly little financial reward. Though high quality material is abundant, much of this work fails to break through into the mainstream, which is, to put it mildly, a damn shame. Hopefully, the utterly delightful comedy, Hot Mess, will buck the trend and capture hearts on the large scale that it truly deserves.

Written and directed by Lucy Coleman (whose web series, On The Fringe, is online now), this thoroughly contemporary tale of love, desperation, and misplaced priorities has the smarts and savvy to make its non-existent budget an instant non-problem, and even a strange kind of strength.

At the centre of this finely judged piece of comedic economy is 25-year-old Loz (Sarah Gaul is an absolute revelation here, expertly navigating a difficult but truly loveable character who bounces all over the emotional map), a burgeoning writer who seems intent on sabotaging her own success. Hotly touted to be awarded with a coveted writer-in-residence gig at a theatre run by the no-nonsense Greg (a nice turn from Sydney acting school godfather, Terry Serio), the talented Loz constantly jeopardises her chances by coming up with increasingly graphic and confronting feminist-minded material. Harangued by her concerned and disapproving mum (well played by Zoe Carides), the hopelessly adrift Loz sees an anchor in Dave (the gifted and charismatic Marshall Campbell), a nice guy who might just be the answer to her romantic dreams. Unless he’s not…

Cleanly but imaginatively shot by DOP, Jay Grant, and boasting a just-right musical score by Jack Hambling and Tom O’Dea, Hot Mess really sings when it comes to performance and script. Lucy Coleman’s dialogue is loopily of-the-moment, but it never feels cloying or contrived. Her characters speak like smart, thoughtful young people do in “real life”, and the creation of such pitch-perfect dialogue is no mean feat indeed. It’s helped to no end by the actors speaking it, all of whom ring and sing with wit and authenticity. Effortlessly current but undeniably timeless, Hot Mess is a warm and wonderful work from a very exciting new voice in Australian comedy.

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Here Comes Hell

Comedy, Festival, Horror, Review, This Week Leave a Comment

Screened at Sydney Film Festival, in the Freak Me Out program strand, Here Comes Hell is a genre mash-up debut feature effort from UK Director Jack McHenry and co-writer Alice Sidgwick. Having worked on music videos and short films before this, McHenry shows confidence in his style. His previous short film, Dungeon of Vampire Nazis showcases his crew’s filmmaking style and passion for cinema, which also shines through in Here Comes Hell.

Hell does a great job of capturing an early cinema aesthetic by paying homage to classic filmmakers like Alfred Hitchcock and William Castle. From the opening shot, the mood is set, when the audience is greeted by a man talking directly to camera and introducing the film. To top it off, it’s also filmed in black and white and presented in the boxed 4:3 format.

This film knows exactly what it is and uses all the classic tropes of ‘50s B movies while mashing it with other genre film styles. The actors crank their performances up to 11 and at no point are they, or the film, afraid to be cheesy. The accents are hammy and over the top, just like the performances. If you can imagine a ’50s B movie classic with the slapstick gore of Evil Dead, this is what Here Comes Hell delivers.

The plot is familiar and simple, an old haunted manor house with a group of young people playing around with the occult and opening up a gateway to hell. There are plenty of laughs and scares, as the guests have to put down their wine glasses and pick up weapons with every man (and woman) for themselves in a fight to make it out alive before dawn.

Even though the runtime is short, it does take what feels like a very long time to get into full swing. Like two completely different movies, for the first 35 minutes you’re watching a social drama and for the rest it’s a 1980s horror flick, complete with one liners and crash zooms. The film becomes more entertaining once the gates of hell have been opened but before that there isn’t enough to cling to; the film would have benefited from spending the first act fleshing out characters, and there are plot points that are hinted at but never fully explored, such as the intertwined past relationships between the guests.

Mixing practical and visual effects to achieve a look that is both pleasing to fans of genre and general audiences, the filmmakers have made their modest budget work, and the passion behind the project shows on screen.

With its cheesy dialogue, hammy accents and stereotypical characters, Here Comes Hell does everything short of wink directly to camera. It’s refreshing when a director knows the ins and outs of the genre he’s trying to recreate, and McHenry shows a lot of promise with his obvious love for cinema and knowledge of its clichés and techniques. Parody films usually have a paper-thin premise and a style that is not unique, but Here Comes Hell is thankfully one of the exceptions.

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Wanda Sykes For President

“It’s not normal that I know I’m smarter than the president!” says Wanda Sykes during the long rant against Trump that opens her stand up special Wanda Sykes: Not Normal.
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Watch the first hilarious 6 minutes of Booksmart

It's Superbad with girls, even Jonah Hill's sis Beanie Feldstein stars (alongside Kaitlyn Dever), in a story about a couple of high achievers who realise that they forgot to party during high school, deciding to change all that in one night!! Directed by actress Olivia Wilde.