Sunday, July 29, 2012
Double Dipping: The Watch and Moonrise Kindgom
Film: The Watch
Starring: Ben Stiller (Tower Heist), Jonah Hill (Moneyball), and Vince Vaughn (The Dilemma)
Director: Akiva Schaffer (Hot Rod)
Opening in theatres this past weekend was The Watch, a foul-mouthed comedy centering on a proud local citizen named Evan (played by Stiller) who decides to form a Neighborhood Watch after one of his employees is murdered during a night shift. Evan convinces three off-the-wall guys to join his group. First there's Bob (played by Vaughn), a loud and vocal father with two distinct agendas in mind. Bob is looking to meet some guys who want to hang out, drink beers, and have a rowdy good time, and he wants to do everything in his power to make sure his teenage daughter stays a virgin. Then there's Franklin (played by Hill), a mentally disturbed Police Academy dropout with a twisted mind and an obvious sense of aggression. And last but not least there's Jamarcus (played by Richard Ayoade), an English newcomer to the town who's looking to meet some friends. Everything seems well and good with the quartet until they discover that Evan's employee was murdered by an alien who is planning a carefully calculated invasion of Earth. Therefore it's up to this wild bunch of misfits to save the planet from absolute destruction.
At first glance, The Watch appears to be a re-hatched set of ideas with nothing new to add to the Sci-Fi/Comedy genre. In some ways, that's absolutely true. The Watch is a 100 minute long series of male genital jokes and lewd behavior. While almost nothing in the film feels original, the feature still boasts an uproariously funny set of actors that help sustain a solid sense of entertainment throughout the entire duration. Perhaps most notable is newcomer Richard Ayoade, a British actor/comedian finally making his way across the pond. Ayoade offers the only feeling of creativity to the movie. With Stiller, Hill, and Vaughn we see the same characters that we've grown to either love or hate time and time again. However, Ayoade is a sigh of relief and a fresh face to help accentuate the film's jokes.
While I won't urge anyone to rush out to theatres to see The Watch, I will say that it was slightly better than advertised and funnier than I expected it to be. If the members of the cast have a long history of making you laugh, than catch The Watch in theatres or on DVD somewhere down the line. Chances are you'll be mildly entertained and laughing enough to keep you somewhat satisfied.
Stars: 2 stars out of 4
Film: Moonrise Kingdom
Starring: Kara Hayward, Jared Gilman, and Bruce Willis (Red)
Director: Wes Anderson (The Life Aquatic)
Acclaimed director Wes Anderson returns to the big screen with his successful indie comedy Moonrise Kingdom. The story follows Sam and Suzy (played by Hayward and Gilman), a pair of outcast youth who meet one Summer and, after becoming pen pals over an entire year, plan to run away together. As the young lovers attempt to flee their New England town, a local search party comprised of Suzy's parents, Sam's scout leader and troop, and Sheriff Captain Sharp (played by Willis) work tirelessly to find them.
In typical Wes Anderson fashion, Moonrise Kingdom is a winning effort that both glorifies young love in a unique way and delivers a multitude of laughs. First time actors Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman are simply excellent, reminding us of Anderson's unmatched ability to get phenomenal performances out of youthful unknowns. And much like the success that followed Jason Schwartzman (who has an impressive cameo in the film) after Rushmore, I'd expect a lengthy line of features to follow for both Hayward and Gilman. Anderson also sports an all star cast including Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton. Each character offering up a necessary purpose to the film, Moonrise Kingdom is a winning effort thanks, in large part, to its entire cast.
As an admitted non-fan of Wes Anderson's previous work, I was pleasantly surprised by this latest release. Moonrise Kingdom is charming, genuine, and meaningful. Examining the magic of young love in only a way Wes Anderson can, we get a thoughtful and comical joy in the form of Moonrise Kingdom. If it's still out in a theatre near you, I suggest taking a chance on one of 2012's most successful independent films.
Stars: 3 stars out of 4.