Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Rapid Reviews: Bad Moms and Cafe Society

I've still been in search of that quintessential breakout comedy of the summer blockbuster season. Therefore, as I stumbled upon this past weekend's release of the well received female-centric comedy, Bad Moms, my fingers were crossed that co-writers and directors, Jon Lucas and Scott Moore (21 and Over), wouldn't disappoint. Yet, despite a strong first half to the film, Bad Moms culminates in an all too familiar, over-the-top fashion.

Life has been hard for Amy (Milas Kunis) since she had her first child at the young age of 20. With a less than helpful husband at home, an unappreciative boss and constant pressure from the many "perfect" moms at her children's school, Amy deserves a much-needed break from it all. So when she discovers her husband has feelings for another woman, she unites with fellow moms, Carla and Kiki (Kathryn Hahn and Kristen Bell), to let loose and enjoy her newfound sense of freedom.

I've always appreciated the work of Mila Kunis. She continually tackles interesting characters and she's very easy on the eyes. Once again, Kunis does an exceptional job of naturally luring the audience into her crazed and chaotic daily routine. A steady dose of cornball, sitcom-like comedy plays extremely well to the tone of the film. And just as you're about to fully commit to Bad Moms, unforgivable writing completely destroys its third act. Storylines escalate to unrealistic situations and inconceivably circle back to a head-scratching fairytale ending that spoils the entire experience. Bad Moms could have been a nice little film, but a weakly constructed finale allows it to remain mired in mediocrity.

Stars: 2 stars out of 4

Grade: C+

I've probably said this a few times before, but Woody Allen is one of those filmmakers who never shockingly surprises or disappoints me. With all of his many - and I do mean many - films, there are always signature aspects to a Woody Allen picture that keep it familiar and comfortable. Hence, you can add his latest feature, Cafe Society, to the long list of solid, but unspectacular, films from the Oscar-winning writer/director.

Bobby Dorfman (Jesse Eisenberg) is a young New York native who uproots to California where he seeks the guidance of his estranged uncle and Hollywood insider, Phil Stern (Steve Carell). But while there, Bobby falls head over heels for his uncle's beautiful assistant, Vonnie (Kristen Stewart), who has a boyfriend of her own. As the romance between Bobby and Vonnie continues to build, turning away from their obvious connection could be a lifelong regret for both of them.

All of his personal faults aside, Woody Allen tells remarkably engaging stories. With his new 1930s period dramedy, Cafe Society, he examine the many depths of true love. While Jesse Eisenberg has been on a somewhat downward trajectory, especially after his unflattering role as the iconic villain Lex Luther in Batman v. Superman, Kristen Stewart is a star on the rise. I adored Stewart's recent supporting work in the effective drama, Clouds of Sils Maria, and her stellar string of performances continues here. Stewart's onscreen chemistry with Eisenberg is infectious and helps make all of the odd complexities surrounding their relationship that much more impactful. Cafe Society isn't the smoothest 85 minute ride you've witnessed, mainly due to its numerous less than appealing subplots, but the film proves to be another successful attempt from Woody Allen that features a story certainly worth telling.

Stars: 2 and a half stars out of 4

Grade: B-

1 comment:

  1. Great review! Certainly agree, Stewart's screen presence is captivating and Eisenberg is excellent at delivering Woody Allen's writing.

    I reviewed Cafe Society a couple of weeks ago.