Film review: The Super Mario Bros. Movie

After many years of poorly received efforts, we’re finally in a boom period of video game adaptations with the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog, Tetris, and the television version of The Last of Us achieving success and critical acclaim. Following a notorious live-action outing in 1993, the iconic platform-game plumber makes his animated cinema debut in The Super Mario Bros. Movie, directed by Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic. As the brothers attempt to get their family business off the ground in Brooklyn, they are sucked through a mysterious green pipe and land in separate new worlds. Mario (Chris Pratt) soon befriends Toad (Keegan-Michael Key) and asks Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy) for help. Meanwhile, Luigi (Charlie Day) is stuck in the Dark Lands where Koopa king Bowser (Jack Black) hatches his latest evil plan. 

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DVD & Digital

DVD review: Sausage Party


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: Steve Jobs


In co-founding Apple and giving us the Mac, the iPod and the iPhone amongst other gadgetry, Steve Jobs arguably changed the landscape of modern technology. Following his untimely passing in 2011, it was only a matter of time before his story was immortalised in cinema. The list of talent involved reads like the film equivalent of the perfect iTunes playlist with Danny Boyle in the director’s chair, Aaron Sorkin on writing duties and Michael Fassbender in the eponymous leading role. Loosely based on the biography of the same name by Walter Isaacson, the story unfolds through his conversations with his loyal marketing executive Joanna Hoffman (Kate Winslet), the former Apple CEO John Sculley (Jeff Daniels) and fellow co-founder Steve Wozniak (Seth Rogen), exploring the personality behind the products.

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DVD review: The Interview

At the best of times, the filmmaking partnership of Judd Apatow school of stoner comedy graduates Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg isn’t to everyone’s taste. Their latest collaboration though, due to its controversial storyline, has caused a stir like no other leading to distribution complications with Sony Pictures Entertainment and the much publicised talk of nuclear threat against America. Whilst Rogen’s writing and directing bond with Goldberg continues off-screen, his bromance with James Franco grows on it, and the two play the leading roles of TV producer Aaron Rapaport and talk show host Dave Skylark respectively. When their show Skylark Tonight is lambasted for being cheap and only interested in throwaway celebrity culture, they set their target on a more serious news-piece to silence the critics and before long, an opportunity presents itself for Dave to interview supreme leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un. CIA Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan) then intervenes, giving instructions to ‘take him out’.
  An uneasy mix of politics and toilet humour, the style and the substance of the narrative couldn’t be further apart. The comedy often works but apart from the opening segment involving an excellent Eminem cameo, the strength is contained within the little gags and quippy one-liners rather than the more over-the-top setpieces. As crazy as this sounds, the plot actually gets more ludicrous as it develops, the two friends splitting off into their separate paths as Dave bonds with Kim Jong Un over their mutual love of Katy Perry while Aaron enjoys a lustful pathway with Kim’s regimented propagandist Sook Yung Park. Performance wise, I’ve seen Rogen and Franco on better form and though some of the dialogue is lazily written, it’s fun to see them bounce off one another. Lizzy Caplan brings her Masters of Sex sauciness to the table effectively, tossing herself into a minefield of innuendo. Credit should also go to Randall Park who takes the part of Kim Jong Un. His turn is brave despite essentially being a caricature and figure of ridicule.
  For the film that could’ve started World War III, or so Sony would like us to believe, it is largely anti-climactic. More silly than side-splitting though it does have the odd moments of hilarity as well as surprisingly stunning cinematography when the story moves into Asian territory. Perhaps the ambitious premise is a step too far for the masters of juvenile joviality as it just wasn’t funny enough. Their next team project is a 3D animated comedy called ingeniously titled Sausage Party, which from the sounds of it will be much better suited to their line of work. ‘The Interview’ isn’t in the same league as Pineapple Express or the apocalyptic hit This is the End, but for avid fans of this knob-joke laden brand of cinema, it is worth downloading to watch in the comfort of your own home, or wait until it’s on Netflix.


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DVD & Digital

DVD review: Bad Neighbours

Bad Neighbours Seth Rogen Rose Byrne
 From the guys that brought you Knocked Up, Superbad, Pineapple Express, This is the End…the list goes on and you know what to expect by now. This new wave of stoner comedy is producing films as thick and fast as the cheap knob-gags in Seth Rogen’s new comedy ‘Bad Neighbours’, or just simply ‘Neighbors’ in the US. Directed by Nicholas Stoller, the plot sees Rogen and Rose Byrne, as married couple Mac and Kelly, move into their first family home with newborn daughter, Stella. They have embraced their new ‘grown-up’ family lifestyle but still have the urge to party, so when a fraternity fronted by Zac Efron’s ringleader Teddy moves in next door, they are reminded of the carefree existence they used to have, leaving them less than impressed. This sets up a neighbourhood rivalry filled with jealousy, resentment and ridiculous pranks.
 There is perhaps a little more going on than you’d expect from the Goldberg-Rogen pairing as ideas are raised around the changes in a young person’s life when they take on the responsibilities of parenthood. It’s like a delayed coming-of-age tale concerned with the transition into thirties rather than twenties. Does bringing a life into the world end the life of the parents, or a certain aspect of it at least? This theme runs through the film but is disguised by silliness that doesn’t quite get funny enough. The smaller jokes work best, and there are a few nicely written one-liners but laugh-out-loud moments are too few and far between.
 Seth Rogen is on form playing essentially another version of himself, and his trademark laidback personality is as watchable as ever as he delivers his pop culture loaded dialogue. Rose Byrne is equally as good, and is a natural within the improvisational style associated with films of this ilk. Zac Efron also puts in a solid performance, and doesn’t seem out of his comfort zone among the experienced comedic actors. The usual faces crop up in the supporting cast, such as Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Dave Franco and to an extent, they fit their purpose but from the smaller parts, it is British rising star Craig Roberts who impresses the most as the laughing stock known as Assjuice. As the momentum dips around halfway, his cameo helps pick it back up again. His understated manner of black Brit-comedy finds an odd but pleasurable match with the bolder, eccentric Yiddish approach.
 ‘Bad Neighbours’ has a smartly written script and a great use of physical humour and because of this, it will slide in nicely amongst other films of its kind. By now, the aforementioned ‘guys that brought you…’ have finely tuned their target audience and know exactly which buttons to push to wedge a lot of sniggers and immature laughs into a neat 90 minute movie. There are moments when the film hints at a slight change in direction, showing signs of mature undertones, but then, right on cue, sneaks out for a crafty J when the boss isn’t watching.
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DVD & Digital

DVD review: This Is The End


A comedy apocalypse film featuring a host of actors playing themselves. The premise for ‘This Is The End’ is ridiculous but somehow, it is genius. Based on the 2007 short ‘Jay and Seth Versus the Apocalypse’ by Jason Stone, this also stars Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel but is co-directed by Rogen and frequent collaborator Evan Goldberg who also worked on Superbad, Knocked Up and 50/50. When Jay visits Seth in LA, they are invited along to a housewarming bash thrown by James Franco, and although Jay doesn’t feel welcomed into the Hollywood scene, he reluctantly accepts. When disaster strikes, he and a selection of other guests including Jonah Hill, Danny McBride and Craig Robinson are forced to stick together and ride it out with hilarious consequences.

Now when in a cinema in front of the latest comedy, it’s the norm to find parts incredibly funny, admiring the jokes and the delivery, though in recent years good comedies have been very few and far between. It is however unusual, for me personally anyway, to physically laugh consistently and at times uncontrollably, almost from start to finish. ‘This Is The End’ delivers in a big way, from its self-parodying gags to the deliberately shoddy CGI. There are, as expected, hordes of knob jokes and a lot of childish humour but the chemistry between the stars makes it extremely watchable. After the initial OTT burst of destruction in the opening third of the film, the focus changes to a survival theme, the gang gathering their resources and putting together a plan, rationing supplies of water, beer, hallucinogens and a Milky Way. They go on to discover that it is Judgement day, and only a show of sacrifice would allow them access to be ‘sucked up’ into heaven, leaving only the selfish egos of LA behind to die.

Rogen is as effortlessly fun as he always his, this time happily joining in with making fun of the typecast hash smoking roles and the ‘Seth Rogen laugh’ which have become synonymous with his work. His slowly flowing dialogue links nicely with the rest of the players, particularly James Franco, and this is built upon when they playfully discuss a Pineapple Express sequel. Baruchel takes the ‘straight man’ role, which is needed in the midst of the surrounding jokers and he gets it down to a tee. The rest of the cast runs off like an Apatow conveyor belt of names in the initially party scenes, Jonah Hill reuniting with Michael Cera and Christopher Mintz-Plasse for a brief, but fantastic segment. Jonah Hill is the stand out, taking centre stage in a comical Exorcist spoof sequence, though Robinson and McBride also provide bags of laughs. The bit part cameos recur and without giving anything away, a poster boy gives us his career best performance.

The more I think about ‘This Is The End’, the more I love it and I am still finding myself quietly chuckling over certain moments. I recommend this highly, but it is not for the easily offended and requires a certain mindset, so that the audience can take the film as seriously as those involved, which is not a lot at all, but that is not to say it has been taken lightly. Just when the Rogen/Goldberg writing bromance was thought to be running its course with recent hiccups such as The Green Hornet and The Watch failing to achieve the critical acclaim of their earlier pieces, they’re back again reminding us what they can do with the funniest film I’ve seen in years.

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