Tag Archives: Kate McKinnon

Ballerina

Victor and Felicie look and sound like adults, but they act like children. They ARE children, supposedly. In fact, they’re orphans in an orphanage who manage to runaway to Paris – she, to be a ballerina, he, to be an inventor.

Once there, they immediately get separated in the most unimaginable way possible, and quickly make a pact to meet on the bridge the next day. Which is incredibly stupid since Paris is like 87% bridge. And yet they do manage to make their rendez-vous, and she’s already enrolled in in the dance academy (under false pretenses, sure), and he’s already met famed inventor Gustav Eiffel (his eponymous tower is visibly half-built).

Felicie (Elle Fanning) makes friends with a cleaner with a limp, Odette (Carly Rae Jepsen), which is how she earns her room and board. Odette is somewhat suppressed herself, by a real evil stepmother type (which describes her general attitude and cruelty, not her parentage). There are several Cinderella types, so I suppose it evens out, but the sheer volume of adults being cruel and hostile toward children is a little alarming. Meanwhile, Victor (Dane DeHaan) is working in Gustav’s atelier, where they’re hard at work on the Statue of Liberty. It defies incredulity that these two parentless waifs have managed to make their dreams come true in under 24 hours with no resources or connections or experience. But let’s sweep that under the carpet for now.

Ballerina, also known as Leap!, has some stunning animation where the dance scenes are concerned. But the story is too familiar. Lazy, in fact. I suppose some little girls who love ballet themselves may be enchanted, but there’s no crossover potential for adults , and little to entice other kids into giving this a passing chance. I found it boring, and I’m what might be described as a grown human adult person. The movie veers drunkenly from heavy-handedness to negligence, from unabashed cruelty to unmitigated forgiveness, both unearned. To call it inconsistent is to besmirch the word. And then there’s the not inconsequential fact that a mother tries to go all Tonya Harding on a kid with a sledge hammer. That’s dark, y’all. I’m glad I didn’t spend any money to see this movie, but I’m a little sad that my taxes went toward making it. Canada makes some truly beautiful films, but this isn’t one it’ll be remembered for.

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The Spy Who Dumped Me

As its title would suggest, The Spy Who Dumped Me isn’t exactly the most original, or, frankly, funny. The jokes, like the bullets, are hit or miss. They don’t all hit their targets. Director and co-writer Susanna Fogel is perhaps too inexperienced to spin this uninventive fare with a twist of creativity, but she gets at least one thing absolutely right: Kate McKinnon.

Kate McKinnon is a luminescent show pony who just trots across the screen pooping comedy gold. Even her facial contortions are helping to sell mediocre material. She’s worth the price of admission. She works harder here than I wish she had to, but on MV5BYjkzNWZmMDgtODM2NS00MTM4LThlMTgtMGM4Yjg3OTc3YTE5XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTc5OTMwOTQ@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1442,1000_AL_the whole the movie still worked for me, as a light and breezy r-rated comedy. I came to laugh and I did – mostly at her, granted, but she’s so fantastic and so talented and if the movie doesn’t quite measure up, I think this is her best role to date. I could have watcher her and her cat earrings fangirl over Gillian Anderson for hours.

The movie probably doesn’t need a lot of illumination in terms of plot: Audrey (Mila Kunis) was recently dumped via text by bad boyfriend Drew (Justin Theroux). Best friend and roommate Morgan (McKinnon) is nursing through heartache when they’re rudely interrupted by men claiming to be CIA – they’re after Drew, who turns out to be a spy and not just a podcaster as Audrey had always believed. This immediately turns into raging gunfire and a dead ex-boyfriend whose dying wish is for Audrey to deliver a “package” to Vienna. And being very obliging girls, Audrey and Morgan jet off to Europe and are immediately in wayyyy over their heads.

The sweet thing about this movie is the friendship between Audrey and Morgan. Morgan is the kind of supportive cheerleader we all deserve to have in our lives. She thinks Audrey is kicking ass as an amateur spy, and she’s not wrong. It’s completely implausible that they survive even the first 10 seconds of this adventure (the movie’s got surprisingly intense action sequences), but if Daniel Craig can do it, so can they. I just wish the friendship felt as good as it was described; the chemistry just wasn’t there. I love McKinnon and have no particular objection to Kunis (though I think she probably over-relies on those big doe eyes of hers), but all the glowy, wonderful vibes seemed to flow in one direction. Kunis is a very pretty receptacle for other people’s good acting, but I’m not sure she gives back very much as a costar. The CIA guys (Sam Heughan, Hasan Minhaj) are a bit on the bland side too (Heughan is Tom Brady with a British accent, if that helps) but there are lots of other supporting cast that I was quite pleased with – not least of all Jane Curtin (!!!) and Paul Reiser as Morgan’s incredibly understanding parents (I would watch a sequel involving just this family), and the aforementioned Gillian Anderson as the big boss lady. Being a Lady Dynamite fan (that’s Maria Bamford’s amazing show), I was particularly glad to see both Fred Melamed and Ólafur Darri Ólafsson pop up. I was less enthusiastic about Ivanna Sakhno as the Ukrainian model\gymnast assassin. The first glimpse we get of her is half nude and totally emaciated, which just felt off in a movie that’s got two fantastic, strong female leads and is directed and co-written by a woman. We can do better. 

Which is perhaps a good way to sum up this review: we can do better. And with Kate McKinnon on board, there really is no excuse.

Irreplaceable You

As a little girl, Abbie knows what she wants, and she goes out and bites it. That’ll make sense when you watch the movie. What Abbie wants is Sam, and they’ve been together since they were 8. They’re extremely until-death-do-us-part, headed toward marriage and newly pregnant, except they find out what she’s pregnant with is a belly full of tumours, and she’s going to die, soon.

Abbie’s (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) last days are preoccupied with finding Sam (Michiel Huisman) a new partner. She’s grieving, she’s preparing, she wants to leave him settled, imageshe wants to know that he’ll be okay. But it’s creepy and invasive and neither Sam nor his prospective dates are super into this idea. Even Abbie’s support group is pretty skeptical. They’re also a pretty good source of humour in a movie that may have been overwhelmed by its maudlin theme. Thankfully the likes of Steve Coogan, Kate McKinnon, and Christopher Walken, all favourites of mine that I never dreamed would somehow end up sitting in the same little circle in the same film, go a long way to providing some comic relief.

The script, by Bess Wohl, is kind of terrific. There are lots of unexpected little nuggets of joy, such as the wonderful Merritt Wever’s truth bomb about the world’s only monogamous fish. Watch and learn. Frankly, I would have liked to see director Stephanie Laing push the film even further into black comedy territory. Instead its tone is confused and we’re never sure whether to laugh or weep (I had no problem doing copious amounts of both, but your experience may be different). On the whole, I liked this movie very much. I like Gugu Mbatha-Raw very much and she makes this character flawed instead of the saintly dead wife that almost any other movie would have made her out to be. Her character inhabits our worst fears while being relatable enough for us to confront them in some sort of comfort. Sure it’s tear-jerker porn, but it’s the best kind as long as you have plenty of soft, name-brand tissues to see you through.

Ferdinand

Ferdinand is a big, beefy bull who accidentally destroys a village and gets branded a beast. The biggest, most monstrous bulls get chosen by the matador for bullfights, MV5BZWQ5ODZiMWMtYjM1Yy00ZDlhLTkwYzctNTQxNzE5MDRhNmIxXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjA0MTc4OQ@@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,738_AL_but Ferdinand has never aspired to such fame. He’s a gentle soul, really, a pacifist. The other bulls are quite judgmental about his lack of fight but Ferdinand stays true to himself.

And that’s all I really have to say about it. This is not Pixar; it’s not intended for adults, or particularly bright children. Ferdinand is forgettable. It doesn’t even try to surprise you. But John Cena as Ferdinand is pretty okay and Kate McKinnon as a “calming goat” is sometimes nearly funny, so I guess there’s that. It just feels lackluster, and lazy.

Rough Night

Rought Night is a rough watch. It’s aiming for somewhere between Bridesmaids and The Hangover, but winds up just a shade north of unwatchable. The cast is nimble enough (though I have no love to spare for Scarlett Johansson), but the script treats them abominably.

The premise, as you might have deduced from a trailer that’s not doing it any favours: ScarJo is getting married, and her friends treat her to a bachelorette party in Miami. But MV5BMjI4ODU0MTM3N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjgzMzA2MjI@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1404,1000_AL_the fun gets spoiled when the stripper gets accidentally murdered, and the hen party suddenly has to hide the dead rooster. The situation is wildly implausible and uncomfortably phony. Some have complained that the script focuses more on comedy than on story, and while I agree that story was largely absent, so were the jokes. I don’t think I laughed once, and I love me some Kate McKinnon.

The thing is, the film tries to do this interesting gender swap, where the ladies are at some wild, drunken weekend of debauchery and the bachelor party is having a sweet and sensitive wine tasting, chaste and polite. And the poor groom is left behind, wondering if his honey is cheating on him, stressing about unreturned phone calls and unrequited love. But in actuality, all it really means is that both the plot and the subplot are disturbingly trite, pathetic, and thoughtless. Basically, it’s twice the suck. Suck squared. And my life just doesn’t need that much disappointment, ya know?

It’s not much of a feminist comedy if only 2 of the 5 main characters matter. It’s not much of a comedy period if the 2 characters who do matter are one-dimensional at best, and there aren’t enough laughs to make these cardboard cutouts any thicker. I didn’t have the time of day for this movie. I mean, it literally stole 101 minutes from me, and left a big empty hole where some belly laughs belonged.

Office Christmas Party

By my count it’s been at least 12 years since a holiday movie has earned Classic status (Elf is kind of a sure thing; The Polar Express pretty darn close) and Office Christmas Party is no where near in danger of being added to that hallowed list. It’s just funny enough, which seems to be the way with these things.

Jason Bateman plays the Jason Bateman character: bland 40-something white dude. Thanks to his horrible boss (Jennifer Aniston), the only way both the company where he works at and Christmas itself can be saved is by turning the office holiday party up a notch – to eleven – and letting the festivities turn near-apocalyptic.

Is it a dumb premise? Of course it is. I’m not sure I would have seen this movie at all had I OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTYnot been deliberately trying to kill time AND had this particular movie not been playing in the convenient slot. Should YOU see it? Not unless you find yourself in similar circumstances. I mean, it’s not awful. Check it out next year on Netflix, maybe. It’s got a pretty good cast and the odd chuckle, so it’s not a complete waste of space. It just wouldn’t quite make it onto Santa’s Nice list, we’ll say. Is that generous of me? Am I in the holiday spirit? Gross.

Actually, I’m writing this from my desk, where I am currently going through some post-cruise symptoms, such as feeling my whole office list when I know damn well that I’m firmly on land. My body, however, has not yet adjusted. I am also wrapped up in fluffy blankets and slippers because while my skin has become adjusted to Hawaiian temperatures, we arrived home last night to a winter storm that made our morning commute particularly hellish.

Back to the movie: actually, I may as well be done this review. It’s what you expect from a cotd_utwaaekdh0non-denominational holiday mixer where Kate McKinnon is stretching out a 3 minute bit and she’s the best thing on screen.

For my office get together, we rent out a suite and watch the Ottawa Senators play some team, and usually get beaten. But there’s food and booze. What does your office do? Do you accidentally get clients high on blow? Bring hookers as dates? Wind up in the hospital? Flee in an epic car chase? Your office party might be a lot more tame than the one in this movie, but I bet the cliche factor is pretty similar, and it can’t possibly be any less original. Ho ho hold onto your money. They usually rerun It’s a Wonderful Life for free on TV.

Masterminds

Not everyone loved Napoleon Dynamite, but you can’t deny that it was an unprecedented success. Its director, first-timer Jared Hess, hit it out of the park, the movie absorbed into popular culture. He’s been unwilling to accept that he may be a one-hit wonder (same goes for Napoleon star Jon Heder) – the two keep making films at a dwindling rate, each more lavishly terrible than the last.

Jared Hess’s latest failure is called Masterminds, and he convinced a long list of famous names to go down in flames along with him: Zach Galifianakis as la-et-mn-ca-sneaks-masterminds-kate-mckinnon-20150426.jpgthe witless driver of an armoured money truck whose terrible relationship with fiancée Kate McKinnon makes it all too easy for him to fall for coworker Kristen Wiig who manipulates him into working with her confederate, Owen Wilson, who thinks a heist is in order. Galifianakis will do all of the work under the guise of love but will receive little to no reward if Wilson has anything to do with it – he’s got contract killer Jason Sudeikis after him and only the law (Leslie Jones) has any chance of intervening.

It’s “based on a true story” which means that someone once stole money somewhere and that’s excuse enough for this atrocity. With 3\4 of the Ghostbusters assembled, there’s no denying that this is a powerhouse cast, but the trouble is they’ve been given a crumpled up tissue of a story and no one knows in which direction to sneeze. I truthfully confessed to Sean that I zachonly laughed once the entire movie – and it was post-credits, in the blooper reel, not even at a joke that got edited out, but at Zach Galifianakis accidentally hitting his head on a swing set (I console myself that it made Kate McKinnon laugh too, before she checked that he was okay). Only babies laugh at people getting bonked on the head, but I had been in a comedy desert for the past hour and a half and I was parched for laughter.

It’s just shameless and lowbrow and it almost makes you feel bad for the dumb criminals it’s styled after. I have a low tolerance for stupid slapstick and this movie didn’t have a single other trick up its sleeve. Some of the scenes literally feel like an SNL sketch gone on too long, and those are the good ones. I have zero forgiveness in my heart for a movie this bad, and I’ll be expecting some dark chocolate truffles and a bottle of Dom with a heartfelt card signed by all the cast by way of apology soon. But not soon enough.