Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Richard Jenkins, Mary Steenburgen & Adam Scott.
Written by Will Ferrell & Adam McKay.
Directed by Adam McKay.
I don’t know about you, dear reader, but the only time I want to see a man’s ballsack in a film is in a porno. I don’t want to be subjected to that sight in a mainstream Hollywood film. Unfortunately, the low-brow comedies perpetuated by the likes of Seth Rogan and Judd Apatow have increasingly turned towards this brand of cheap humour, and it seems the masses love it. But it’s certainly beyond me – call me a prude, but I just don’t find this stuff funny. Being somewhat of a Will Ferrell fan (because of films such as Talladega Nights and Stranger Than Fiction), and witnessing the chemistry he and John C. Reilly displayed in Talladega Nights, StepBrothers came as one massive disappointment. The premise – two 40 year-old unemployed infants still living at home with their single parents, thrown together when the parents marry – seemed funny on paper. But sadly, the writing team of Ferrell, Reilly (story credit) and director Adam McKay have sunk to the bottom of the comedic barrel with this offering.
The X-Files: I Want To Believe (2008)
David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Amanda Peet, Alvin “Xzibit” Joiner, Mitch Pileggi & Billy Connolly.
Written by Chris Carter & Frank Spotnitz.
Directed by Chris Carter.
Mulder and Scully are back, but one has to wonder – what in the hell for? This lame entry in the X-Files saga sees Fox Mulder (Duchovny) brought out of hiding by the FBI to help with the disappearance of a Bureau agent. Having much experience with the paranormal, Mulder is the obvious choice to investigate the claims of a supposed psychic (Connolly) who experiences visions of the abduction. Meanwhile, Dana Scully (Anderson) is torn between following Mulder on yet another quest and caring for a young boy with a rare illness in her position as doctor at a Catholic hospital. This could only be described as a fan film, yet it strangely gives fans (such as this reviewer) little of what they would expect. There are no aliens, UFO’s, strange phenomena or weird creatures – in fact, nothing particularly X-File-ish at all. The film plays out like a half-baked detective story, and seems oddly out-of-place with the entire saga. Disappointing for fans – others keep clear.
American Gangster (2007)
Denzel Washington, Russell Crowe, Josh Brolin, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Carla Gugino, Ruby Dee, Cuba Gooding Jr & Armand Assante.
Written by Steven Zaillian.
Directed by Ridley Scott.
Based on a true story, this slick crime saga follows the rise of Frank Lucas (Washington) from bodyguard to drug kingpin. On his tail is scrupulous cop Richie Roberts (Crowe) who, with a small band of like-minded detectives, sets out to bring Lucas down. Thrown into the mix is a crooked cop (Brolin) after a piece of the Lucas action, Richie’s estranged wife (Gugino) suing for divorce, and a smarmy Italian mafia honcho (a wonderful Assante). Ridley Scott is an accomplished director, having made some wonderful films in his career – hitting his stride recently with great films such as Black Hawk Down and Kingdom Of Heaven. And whilst his trademark slick, dark style is all over American Gangster, one can’t escape the feeling that this is tired ground. We’ve seen this kind of story before. The production design is flawless with its 1970’s garb and gritty street feel, and the writing and acting are superb – but Gangster unfortunately falls into the already overflowing crime film basket and may easily be forgotten with time.
(Wadrick Jones is a freelance writer for GritFX and will post weekly thirty second film reviews on this blog.)