Movie Reviews: Dinner for Schmucks, The Switch, The Last Exorcism, Jonah Hex, Mother
THE SWITCH * * * *
Cert 12A, 101 mins
Jennifer Aniston gets top billing in her third romcom in a year, but it’s really not her film.
She plays second fiddle to likeable leading man Jason Bateman and an adorable seven-year-old boy.
She plays Kassie, who’s desperate to start a family before it’s too late.
“I don’t need a man to have a baby,” she boldly declares.
“Technically you do,” points out her best friend Wally (Bateman).
Not wanting a faceless donor, she pays handsome, married Roland (Patrick Wilson) for his sperm. Then, in rather silly scenes, invites him to an ‘I’m getting pregnant’ party to do the deed.
Also invited is disapproving Wally, who gets drunk, accidentally spills Roland’s sample and replaces it with his own.
Kassie miraculously gets pregnant on her first attempt and moves away.
Wally is too drunk to remember his actions but begins to realise something might be up when, seven years later, Kassie returns to New York with son Sebastian (Thomas Robinson). The sweetly neurotic lad is like a little version of Wally and it’s obvious he’s the dad.
When Roland, now divorced, reappears on the scene, there’s a battle for the affections of both mother and son.
Actually it’s the scenes between Wally and Sebastian which make this film – we don’t care too much about the grown-up romances.
There are some good lines, especially from the supporting cast including Jeff Goldblum and Juliette Lewis, and enough moving and witty touches, despite the contrived and predictable plot. RL
DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS *
Cert 12A, 113 mins
The good cast of this film promises so much, but they let us down badly in a painfully unfunny waste of time.
Paul Rudd plays financier Tim, who sees a chance at promotion when he’s invited by boss Bruce Greenwood to one of his infamous dinners.
Guests compete by bringing an idiot with them for the rest of the table to laugh at.
Tim finds the perfect candidate when he accidentally runs over tax accountant Barry (Steve Carell). His hobby is stuffing mice, dressing them up and putting them in human situations, like The Last Supper.
Barry latches on to Tim and starts interfering in his life, doing one stupid and irritating thing after another. Carell is normally likeable but here he’s far more annoying than amusing.
British actors like David Walliams, Lucy Punch and Chris O’Dowd pop up, but they all deserve a better script.
I found it worse than the current Adam Sandler ‘comedy’ Grown Ups. At least I suspected that was going to be awful. RL
THE LAST EXORCISM * * *
Cert 15, 86 mins
While William Friedkin’s The Exorcist still works more than 35 years after it won two Oscars from ten nominations (which included Best Picture), the sequels and imitators have devalued this horror sub-genre as a whole.
Made on a tiny budget of less than $2 million, The Last Exorcism tries to offer the kiss-of-life thanks to the hand-held camera style of Blair Witch and [Rec] by putting a movie within a movie. Directed by German-born Daniel Stamm and produced by Eli Roth (Cabin Fever), the opening 20 minutes offer a brilliant insight into the world of an evangelical minister who is being filmed for a documentary.
Patrick Fabian’s Cotton Marcus could talk Oprah Winfrey off a stage when he’s in full flow. But his plan to do one last exorcism for the cameras doesn’t go to plan when he visits a farmer and his troubled daughter.
Sadly, after starting with such promise that it’s reached No 2 at the US box office, The Last Exorcism runs out of cloth.It’s never frightening and, like Cloverfield, there are too many issues about the film within a film for the plot to overcome. GY
JONAH HEX * *
Cert 15, 81 mins
Josh Brolin takes the title role as a soldier turned seemingly-immortal bounty hunter in this Western horror.
He’s after revenge on villain Turnbull (John Malkovich, hamming it up), who killed his family and branded him, deforming his face.
And that’s about it, in a thin, dull, messy story that’s short but feels much longer. It’s all flashy explosions and effects and no substance.
Megan Fox is a prostitute with little to do – or, indeed, wear. RL
MOTHER * * * *
Cert 15, 129 mins
When a young man with learning disabilities is accused of murder in what appears to be a set-up, what’s a mother to do?
In the best traditions of family life, Mother (Hye-ja Kim) will do anything she can to prove his innocence.
Directed by Joon-Ho Bong (The Host), Mother is a superbly-made thriller with some scenes which will make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.
Korean cinema has a real cult following on DVD in Britain. For an introduction to its qualities on the silver screen, don’t miss this at the MAC where it’s playing from September 3-9. GY