It's been 14 years since Nia Vardalos' warm comedy about her raucous extended family became the sleeper hit of the 2002, and now she's back with more of the same silliness. It all feels rather predictable this time around, although there are some terrific comical moments along the way. And the cast is genuinely likeable, even if the characters are fairly thin.
So after all this time, Toula (Vardalos) and her husband Ian (John Corbett) are still living on the same street as Toula's many relatives. She's also running the family cafe with her parents Gus and Maria (Michael Constantine and Lainie Kazan), who are bickering because they just discovered that they're not legally married. Meanwhile, Toula and Ian are struggling to rekindle the spark in their marriage as they both worry about the coming day when their 17-year-old daughter Paris (Elena Kampouris) goes off to university. As meddling Aunt Voula (Andrea Martin) tries to find a suitable Greek boy for Paris, everyone is planning Gus and Maria's wedding. Which of course can't be a small occasion.
None of the movie's interwoven plot threads has any tension at all in it, so the film meanders amiably along. There's never any doubt that Toula and Ian will reawaken their romance, that Gus and Maria will renew their vows or that Paris will find her independence. And without any proper conflict, the film struggles to get the audience involved in any meaningful way beyond laughing at the engaging characters. Director Kirk Jones (who made the original Nanny McPhee) occasionally tips things over into physical slapstick or full-on farce, plus several very cheap gags, but most of the humour is centred on the wacky cultural antics of these colourful family members. The actors invest plenty of charm into their roles, with Martin once again stealing the film as the uproariously over-involved Voula.
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This starry drama has documentary realism going for it, although without a single well-developed character it never finds any resonance. By recounting JFK's assassination from a variety of previously unseen angles, we learn some new things about that fateful day in November 1963. Oddly, the script doesn't even focus on the hospital that gives the film its name. That might have helped give the film some focus.
We watch the shooting in Dallas through the eyes of Abraham Zapruder (Giamatti), famously the only person to capture the event on film. He is immediately contacted by a Secret Service agent (Thornton), who helps him process the film and make copies. Meanwhile at Parkland Hospital, two residents (Efron and Hanks) and a tenacious nurse (Harden) are working against the odds to save Kennedy's life. And elsewhere, an FBI agent (Livingston) is following the trail of the shooter, whose brother and mother (Dale and Weaver) have very different reactions to what has just happened.
Writer-director Landesman jumps straight into the events without properly establishing the characters. But it's impossible to feel emotion when we don't know anything about the people we're watching, and we can't feel suspense when we know what's going to happen. So we're left to soak up the details, which are often fascinating (ever wonder how to get a coffin into a plane?). And while the actors are good enough to play the intensity of each scene for all it's worth, the only ones who register with us are Giamatti and Dale, because what their characters go through is more complex than we expect.
Continue reading: Parkland Review
Danny Strong, Jay Roach, Gary Goetzman, Julianne Moore and Tom Hanks - Danny Strong, Jay Roach, Gary Goetzman; Julianne Moore and Tom Hanks Sunday 23rd September 2012 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, held at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live - Press Room
After being sacked for his lack of a degree, Larry (Hanks) enrols in a community college. There isn't much else going on in his life, so he dives into his studies: Mercedes (Roberts) teaches speech, while Dr Matsutani (Takei) teaches economics. When Larry downsizes to a scooter to save money, he befriends the cool scooter-riding Talia (Mbatha-Raw), who gives him a style makeover. He also joins her biker gang, led by her boyfriend Gordo (Valderrama). Meanwhile, Mercedes is struggling with her marriage to Dean (Cranston). So maybe she and Larry can help each other outside the classroom as well.
Continue reading: Larry Crowne Review
Max (Records) is a mischievous, imaginative pre-teen with a dismissive big sister (Emmerichs) and an understanding mum (Keener). But a series of events get him thinking about the fragility of life, so he takes a flight of fantasy to a distant island populated by furry creatures who at first threaten to eat him but then adopt him as their king. Playful games ensue, as he leads them in the construction of a giant fortress. But even here, relationships become tricky to navigate.
Continue reading: Where The Wild Things Are Review
Her latest pseudo-comedy, My Life in Ruins, demonstrates that the tired Greek gags have taken her about as far as she's ever going to go. Even the characters in Vardalos' pictures are begging her to quit. "You're not funny. Stop trying," a manager tells self-absorbed tour guide Georgia (Vardalos) as she prepares to take a busload of imbecilic vacationers on a four-day Grecian jaunt.
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The film celebrates the D-list world of third-rate celebrities, celebrities whose popularity has waned, whose 15 minutes of fame were over a long time ago, with one-night stands not in Vegas or L.A., but Bakersfield and Akron.
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For the residents of the city of Ember, these are troubled times. The massive generator that keeps the town functioning is failing, and Mayor Cole (Bill Murray) is at a loss for answers. A bumbling bureaucrat through and through, he'd rather maintain order than find a viable solution. Two young members of the community, Doon Harrow (Harry Treadway) and Lina Mayfleet (Saoirse Ronan) don't want to give up. He wants his father (Tim Robbins) and an elderly co-worker Sul (Martin Landau) to help him get to the damaged energy source. She discovers a strange box which may hold a key to saving the day. Unfortunately, a hidden cabal of city leaders may be trying to undermine any effort to bring Ember back from the brink.
Continue reading: City Of Ember Review
Sophie (Amanda Seyfried) lives on a remote Greek island with her ex-rock star mother Donna (Meryl Streep). She is about to marry the British bo-hunk Sky (Dominic Hooper), and she really wants her dad to give her away. Unfortunately, Sophie doesn't know who her father is. Finding her mother's diary, she invites the three men Donna was involved with at the time. Bill (Stellan Skarsgård) writes travel guides, while Sam (Pierce Brosnan) and Harry (Colin Firth) are a big time businessman and banker, respectively. Naturally, Donna is dumbfounded to see her exes. Even worse, when she discovers Sophie's motives, it will take her best friends/former back-up singers Rosie (Julie Walters) and Tanya (Christine Baranski) to save the day... and the wedding.
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Charlie Wilson's War is entertaining, and that's about the extent of it. Nichols and Sorkin's end result is decidedly a gloss on Crile's account of how the eponymous Texas congressman managed to supply military support to the Afghan Mujahideen fighting the Soviet occupation in the 1980s. While their movie mostly avoids the Hollywood trappings of political correctness and underdog sentimentality, it also doesn't have the chutzpah of its own conniving characters to offer much in the way of an incisive interpretation of those events.
Continue reading: Charlie Wilson's War Review
The BBC drama starring Aidan Turner returns to BBC One on September 4th.
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