Film review: Mid90s

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After graduating from the Judd Apatow school of stoner comedy, Jonah Hill has gone onto work under some of the biggest filmmakers in the business. Now he has transitioned behind the camera to write and direct coming-of-age drama Mid90s. Set across a summer in Los Angeles, the plot centres around thirteen-year-old Stevie (Sunny Suljic) who is taken in by a tightknit but troubled skater group as he struggles to find his place in cultural society.

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DVD review: Sausage Party

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  We’ve come to know what to expect from films written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, and their stoner brand of comedy has become instantly recognisable. The latest project from the pairing sees their signature humour animated in Sausage Party, directed by Conrad Vernon and Greg Tiernan. Taking place in a supermarket called Shopwell’s, the plot follows Frank (Seth Rogen), a sausage who is packed alongside pork pals Carl (Jonah Hill), Barry (Michael Cera) amongst others. His hotdog bun girlfriend Brenda (Kristen Wig) sits on the same shelf with her doughy friends, and the couple eagerly await being picked up by a human, referred to here as ‘Gods’, and to be taken through the exit to ‘The Great Beyond’ where they can come out of their packaging and be together. After an incident on aisle three, Frank clashes with Douche (Nick Kroll) which leads to a shocking discovery that will change their lives forever.

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DVD review: War Dogs

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Todd Phillips is known for directing the acclaimed Hangover trilogy, and although he adds his comedic bromance flavourings again, he is now taking on much weightier material in crime-drama War Dogs. Loosely based on the book Arms and the Dudes by Guy Lawson, the plot follows two twenty-something friends who become international arms dealers working with the American government. David Packouz (Miles Teller) is struggling to make ends meet, working as a masseuse in Miami. At an old school mate’s funeral, he reunites with former high school best friend Efraim Diveroli (Jonah Hill), who appears to be making a real go of his life having left town a few years earlier. Eager for the taste of success, he agrees to work for him, joining the firm to buy and sell guns and make a fortune.

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DVD review: True Story

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If you see that Jonah Hill and James Franco are in the same film, you’d be forgiven for assuming it would be a lightweight comic affair, given their mutual associations and previous work. However, in artistic theatre director Rupert Goold’s first foray into film, laughs are nowhere to be found. The mystery thriller ‘True Story’ is based on the memoir of the same name by former New York Times writer Mike Finkel, following his journalistic fall from grace. After losing his job due to fabricated storytelling, Finkel (Hill) discovers that Christian Longo (Franco), who is awaiting trial for the murder of his wife and three children, is using his name as an alias. Eager to explore the matter further, he arranges a prison visit, which triggers a psychological meeting of the minds that changes both of their lives forever.

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DVD review: 22 Jump Street

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 After the huge success of 21 Jump Street in 2012, it came as no surprise that developments were soon underway for a sequel. Would it live up to the original or will it be doomed to become yet another unimaginative paint-by-numbers comedy follow-up? In a way, both boxes are ticked but the self-awareness of repeating the formula cleverly causes the audience laugh at and with the film simultaneously. The first saw cop duo Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) go undercover in a high school to investigate a drug problem, based on a 1987 television series. This time around, they do the same, but in a college! Hardly a leap forward in plot development, as the writers and characters will be first to admit, but there are more than enough big laughs to make it work.
  The budget thrown at a second go becomes a recurring joke and despite the gag, the stronger product value is evident in the film itself also. Proceedings open with a hilariously exhilarating chase sequence and a lot of fun has been had with the freedom of milking the profits of the predecessor. Flavours of other recent pictures of the same ilk are to be found, with the frat-pack humour of Bad Neighbours and a finale in Spring Breakers territory, so it seems the Apatow University alumni still don’t mind referencing the work of friends and collaborators. The directors, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, are known mainly for their work in animation, such as the Lego Movie, and this unrestricted manner lends a playfulness and creativity to their work. Inventive cuts and transitions often add to the amusement, juxtaposing the styles and statures of the leads, and a whacky split screen trip segment involving a fashionable new drug known as WHYPHY is among the highlights.
  Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum are both on spectacular form, as Tatum again adapts seamlessly into the improvisational approach to comedy that Hill is associated with. Their partnership, on paper, shouldn’t really be as natural as it appears on screen but you get the feeling that their friendship is genuine which helps the humour on its way. They are joined by a solid supporting cast including Ice Cube who is fantastic as crazed police chief, Dickson. The sub plots are typical but well judged, as are the cameos which get better continuously until the brilliant closing credits which carries the franchise longevity joke further than you could imagine. The magic of ’22 Jump Street’ is that it doesn’t try to be anything it’s not, and because of this, it doesn’t overreach. It already has a winning formula so simply repeats itself, and self-parodies with the wit needed to get away with it, making it the funniest in-joke of the year.
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