Tag Archives: Ricky Gervais

The Willoughbys

The Willoughbys come from a long line of impressively mustachioed ancestors as evidenced by the numerous oil paintings lining the hallowed halls of their “old fashioned” home. But the buck stops here, apparently.

Mother (Jane Krakowski) and Father (Martin Short) Willoughby love each other passionately. They are so consumed by their marriage neither can see anything outside it. No wonder Father has such a minimal mustache – and Mother none at all! They have four kids but not a thought to spare for any of them, never mind a care. Tim (Will Forte) is the oldest, but is still a young boy, unmustached and still attached to his head protector (you and I might call it a hat). He corals the other children – the golden-voiced Jane (Alessia Cara), and twin brothers both named Barnaby (Sean Cullen) with only a single sweater between them – and makes sure the kids don’t bother their parents with things like hunger or attention. They’re cold and they’re hungry but it’s all they’ve come to expect. Until they get a brilliant idea: to send their parents on a dangerous and frankly deadly trip cleverly disguised as a second honeymoon.

So off go Mother and Father and the children celebrate – finally, as orphans, they might fill their own bellies and occupy space in the house itself rather than the coal bin. But two strange things complicate matters: a baby gets left on their doorstep, and unable to care for her, they leave baby Ruth on the doorstep of the mysterious owner of a candy factory (best home ever!), Commander Melanoff (Terry Crews), and an unqualified but well-intentioned Nanny (Maya Rudolph) arrives. While the kids are initially wary of Nanny, she soon grows on them by providing the basic necessities of life and caring whether they live or die. It sounds a bit dire, I know, but worry not, this is a very family-friendly animated film by Netflix, and the kids are resilient and crafty, and their neglect never feels so serious that it cannot be overcome.

And of course, there are plenty of childish high-jinks, lots of pranks and booby traps and Nanny catapults, and a whole rainbow candy factory montage where a baby has the time of its life while narrowly avoiding death.

Oddly, and luckily, while the children have dismissed their parents, they learn valuable lessons about family. The Willoughbys may not land on the ending you’d expect, but they get their happy ending and they have an awful lot of fun doing it. This is a pleasant surprise from Netflix and I think your young kids are really going to like it.

David Brent: Life on the Road

David Brent is the same sad-sack you knew from The Office all those years ago. He works in a different office now, barely, and he’s still possessed of this illusions of grandeur that made him so pathetically lovable. He’s decided to fund a rock star tour to live out his David-Brent-Life-on-the-Road-1wildest fantasy in the hopes that he’ll find his sound, and his audience (and presumably some talent).

Ricky Gervais reprises his beloved The Office character, but David Brent is the only familiar face in this new film, so fans hoping the rekindle the magic will be disappointed. The good news is, so will everyone else. The truth is, it just doesn’t work. David Brent is a tired joke and Gervais doesn’t have anything new for the character, despite the 15 year interval. And without the proper context (and the necessary supporting characters, who humanize him), David Brent feels a lot more annoyingly contemptible rather than the lovable loser we need him to be.

It’s raining right now in Ottawa. It’s just a notch above freezing, which means the rain is 46169fb95db6c57995e32557d972456d.jpgwashing away some of our snow, and the flooded streets are gray and sickly-looking, the disappearing snow uncovering all the gross things hidden over the winter: cigarette butts, McDonald’s wrappers, and a sad collection of lost gloves.

David Brent: Life on the Road is like a lost glove. On its own, it’s useless. It’s sad and forlorn and frankly, it’s only fit for the garbage.


The Little Prince

A little girl has a bright future ahead of her. How do I know? She and her mother (Rachel McAdams) have her whole life planned out. A life plan so intense she’s more like her mother’s Senior VP than her daughter. Her mother’s best compliment: “You are going to make a wonderful grownup.”

But the crazy old man (Jeff Bridges) next door draws her out of her mature little shell with his fanciful inventions and his beautiful story-telling. His stories and drawings come to life in animation within the animation: the story of The Little Prince.

Growing up it was always Le Petit Prince to me, but even en anglais, the timeless story warms the heart. The main story, starring the little girl, and the crazy man’s story, starring the little prince, are distinguished with different styles of animation. The little girl is done in familiar CG style; the little prince is stop-motion, done not in clay but in paper. Both are lovely, 210b0b20-a7ab-11e5-88e2-828a3e695a05_1280x720but I confess a fondness for the nostalgia and simple loveliness of the latter.

The voice cast is incredible: Jeff Bridges, Paul Rudd, Albert Brooks, Marion Cotillard, Benicio Del Toro, and more. It’s a real testament to just how cherished the book is, around the world. The Little Prince is a sweet children’s book but it can be read and enjoyed by adults, with many layers of themes to interpret. The same goes for the movie, faithfully and lovingly adapted from its source.

The little girl, too grown up for her own good, rediscovers childhood lp-garden-rgb-5kthrough friendship with the batty old guy next door. But anyone who knows the story knows that along with sweetness, there is also sorrow. The first half of the movie is all poetry and imagination. The second half falters a bit when it gets further away from Saint-Exupéry’s ideas and ideals. The movie is a little less fanciful than the novella, a little more down to earth. But The Little Prince has always been the stuff of dreams, too good, too ethereal for Earth. It’s still lovely though. It’s still one of the loveliest things I’ve seen all summer.


Special Correspondents

It looks promising on paper: two radio station journalists get locked out of a big story in Ecuador so they decide to make it up instead. Eric Bana plays images73W735HWFrank, the dashing and charismatic reporter while Ricky Gervais plays his lackey, Finch. Finch is a clumsy and oblivious guy with a beautiful but disloyal wife (Vera Farmiga) whose ineptitude causes he and Frank to miss their career-making flight to Ecuador just as a war is breaking out.

Unable or unwilling to admit their mistake, the two men decide to hole up in New York City and broadcast fake reports convincingly doctored via satellite phone. Somehow neither anticipates that this will get out of hand, even when a sweet colleague (Kelly MacDonald) worries over the increasing threat to their safety. Do things snowball? Yes, yes they do.

Ricky Gervais adapted the script from an existing French movie (Envoyes tres speciaux). Nobody skewers celebrities quite like Gervais, his stand-up is tightly written and expertly delivered, and he’s got so many successful TV shows that IMDB stopped counting . Movies, however, seem not to be his forte. There were moments during Special Correspondents when I thought: “Niiiiiiice.” but those turned out to be little desert islands in a huge sea of disappointment.


The premise is teeming with satire potential but the movie is devoid of Special1anything intelligent or funny or worthwhile or clever. It’s flimsy. Like, paper-thin. And the characters are so one-dimensional that while we can’t really believe that there is not one but two Hottie McHottersons willing to bed Finch, we also don’t really care. This feels lazy and phoned-in and at times it also looks downright cheap, and I don’t just mean that it was filmed in pretend-NY Toronto (although it was. Sidebar: Gervais’s father is Ontario-born and French-Canadian).

The cast is fairly impressive but the poor script and direction make sure there are no stand-outs (and to be honest, I’m still wondering if the stuff with America Ferrera was just really weird and unnecessary or if it was as downright racist as it felt). In the end, Special Correspondents isn’t even a satisfying way to pass the time. If you’re looking for something decent to watch on Netflix, look elsewhere – perhaps to Grace & Frankie, a series that actually does have something to say, and lands laughs while doing it.