Thursday, June 4, 2015

Rapid Reviews: Spy and Aloha

2011 feels almost like a distant memory, but it was roughly four years ago that Bridesmaids director, Paul Feig, unleashed the antics of the overweight and filter-free funny-woman, Melissa McCarthy, to the world. Since then, the dynamic duo delivered another quasi-success with 2013's The Heat, co-starring Oscar winner Sandra Bullock, and complete the trifecta with this summer's ruthless comedy, Spy. Whether or not McCarthy's belligerent rapid-fire attempts at landing one-liners appeals to you, trust me when I say that you're in for more of the same with her latest offering.

When a deadly arms dealer (Rose Byrne) divulges her knowledge of the identities to all of the CIA's top agents, they look to an unthinkable desk analyst named Susan Cooper (McCarthy) to save the day. But with virtually no experience in the field, agent Cooper's unorthodox methods put her cover and life on the line while she haphazardly infiltrates the dealer's inner circle. Yet, as the clock continues to tick and time begins to run out, Cooper is the CIA's only hope.

As I mentioned before, I've grown exhausted of McCarthy's comedic game plan over the past few years. Her barrage of attempted humor lands at such an alarmingly low rate that it cheapens the successful jokes. Resulting to thoughtless raunchy zingers that sound like they're constructed from a Mad Libs book designed for children learning their first "bad words", McCarthy is simply striking while the iron is hot and who can really blame her? Although I'm clearly not a big fan of the actress, I will admit that Spy has plenty of other excellent attractions. During its massively outstretched two hour running time, co-star Jason Statham's well-concocted character delivers the film's most consistent source of laughs. Furthermore, the English-born Miranda Hart is a breath of fresh air as agent Cooper's hysterical desk-bound side kick. With Spy, there are certainly laughs to be had, but they come at the expense of a dreadfully long and irrational plotline.

Stars: 2 stars out of 4

Grade: C+

I recently chronicled the highlights of writer and director, Cameron Crowe's, impressive career. With films such as Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous sitting atop his long list of achievements, it's obvious that Crowe's skilled at creating and telling an exceptional story. I suppose that's why the erratically pieced together and messy new effort, Aloha, is such a disappointment to longtime fans of his work.

Bradley Cooper dominates the screen time as Brian Gilcrest, a military contractor who returns to the island of Hawaii where he left a remarkable amount of baggage with an ex-lover (Rachel McAdams). To further complicate the situation, while dealing with his latest assignment, Gilcrest unexpectedly falls for his military liaison, Allison Ng (Emma Stone). Brian soon discovers that you have to let go of the past before you can move on with the future.

At first glance, I was completely on-board with everything surrounding Aloha. The trailer looked great and the film carefully sat in the hands of an accomplished filmmaker who was working with an unbelievable cast including Bill Murray, Alec Baldwin and Danny McBride (in addition to the A-List stars already mentioned above). Unfortunately, though, Crowe spoils the moment with a head-scratching backdrop that offers very little relevance to the misguided story that's already in place. At its core, the love triangle scenario is by no means uncharted waters. Therefore, how you connect the dots becomes so vital to the film's success, and I'm not sure Cameron Crowe was even working with "dots". And he certainly wasn't connecting anything, leaving Aloha as a jumbled mess of a romantic comedy that only shines as bright as its performances can take this feeble script.

Stars: 1 and a half stars out of 4

Grade: C-

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