Year 9, Day 124 - 5/4/17 - Movie #2,619
BEFORE: Happy Star Wars Day! Today's film has nothing to do with "Star Wars", but I did recently receive my Blu-Ray copy of "Rogue One" and I may show it to my wife this coming weekend. I did notice a bunch of "Star Wars" actors appearing in my films last week, like Bruce Spence (Tion Medon from Episode III) who showed up in "Peter Pan", "Gods of Egypt" and "Australia". "Australia" also included Jack Thompson (Cliegg Lars from Episode II) and Ben Mendelsohn (Orson Krennic from "Rogue One"). Bronson Webb from "Pan" and Matt Rippy from "Eddie the Eagle" also had small roles in "Rogue One", and just yesterday, Oscar Isaac (Poe Dameron from Episode VII) turned up in "Body of Lies".
I guess that's about it - but I've got "Unbroken" coming up this weekend, with Domhnall Gleeson (General Hux from Episode VII) and also "Ex Machina" with both Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac.
Mark Strong carries over again from "Body of Lies".
THE PLOT: A new assignment forces a top spy to team up with his football hooligan brother.
AFTER: A young boy gets separated from his brother at a train station, and two decades later, after growing up with adoptive parents, he starts to have flashbacks from his past after a random encounter. That's nearly the same plotline as "Lion", only in all other ways, this is a vastly different film. Because here the boy grew up to be a professional secret agent, and his older brother became a lower-class soccer fan, so he never really grew up at all.
NITPICK POINT: How the two men meet up again after so much time apart is very questionable. Nobby, the lower-class one, has kept hope alive that one day his brother would return, even preserving his bedroom with childhood memories, and then one day, a friend rushes in to the pub to inform him that his brother was just seen, and will be attending a charity event. So many things wrong with this coincidental occurrence, starting with - how does anyone recognize the adult brother, when the last time they saw him, he was like 10 years old? No one could predict what he would look like as an adult, like the fact that he would be bald.
OK, maybe they noticed a facial resemblance to Nobby, because the two actors do look a bit alike, but even if I allow this point, where did they spot him? It's been established that the kid grew up to be a secret agent, who travels all over the world, and has no desire to travel back to anywhere near his home town. Plus, he's a SECRET agent, so he's probably got a ton of fake names, and would never give out his real name in public. And even if I allow all of this, he was going to be UNDERCOVER at the charity event, so how the hell did someone who spotted him not only recognize his identity, but also somehow figure out his secret itinerary? There just HAD to be a better way to get these two characters in contact with each other - even bumping into each other on the street corner would have been preferable.
It would have been easy, for example, to make Nobby a low-level thief who wants to rob the charity event, mistakenly thinking there would be a lot of money there, and at the same time, have Sebastian at the same event to prevent the assassination attempt on the charity's celebrity spokesperson. See, how hard was that?
But let's move on, because after Nobby re-connects with his spy brother, and things spiral out of control, Sebastian is mistakenly framed for the shooting and the two have to go on the run together. It's a mismatched buddy film, mixed with a few cases of mistaken identity, wrapped up in a "everything goes wrong" plot as seen in films like "The Hangover" or the TV series "The Detour". With so many comedy tropes reflected here, this should have been hilarious - and there were parts of it that were quite funny, I did laugh out loud even though I was by myself.
But then there was so much emphasis on low comedy that any chance of being a dignified parody of spy films went right out the window. Why so many scatalogical jokes about bodily functions, like poop jokes and dick jokes and ejaculations? They do a riff on the old "I've been bitten by a snake in a sensitive area, you'll have to suck the poison out" bit, but taken to a new high (low?) level. And then lots of jokes that focus on putting things in body cavities and such - it's just overkill.
It's like someone realized that the funniest part of "Borat" was when the two guys were naked and wrestling, and that was all that people talked about afterwards, so someone got it in his head that there needs to be something like that in every movie, only more over-the-top than last time. I like Sacha Baron Cohen, but he's better in films that keep it classy, like "Les Miserables" and "Sweeney Todd", and don't all pander to the lowest common denominator.
But perhaps it's a reminder that British culture is very diverse, that it's not all about Shakespeare and Chaucer and such. The same culture that also gave us The Beatles also gave us (ugh) the Sex Pistols and the Clash. As comedy goes, the U.K. gave us Monty Python, but also Benny Hill, where everything was scantily-clad women and jokes about sex.
Somehow I thought we were collectively supposed to be more enlightened than this, though, and not make jokes about people with AIDS or show people that are homophobic, so it's a shame that the film chose to descend to this level of humor. Every time they show someone who is afraid to appear gay, even just a little bit, then that feeds into the culture of oppression and persecution of those who are different. I just wonder why the film felt the need to make so many jokes on this topic - were they trying to attract the conservative, anti-gay audience, or was someone overcompensating?
Points, however, for making fun of Donald Trump in March 2016, before it was super cool to do that.
Also starring Sacha Baron Cohen (last seen in "The Dictator"), Penelope Cruz (last seen in "Zoolander 2"), Rebel Wilson (last seen in "How to Be Single"), Isla Fisher (also last seen in "The Dictator"), Ian McShane (last seen in "John Wick"), Gabourey Sidibe (last seen in "Seven Psychopaths"), Barkhad Abdi (last seen in "Captain Phillips"), Scott Adkins (last seen in "Doctor Strange"), Tamsin Egerton (last seen in "Eragon"), Annabelle Wallis (also carrying over from "Body of Lies"), David Harewood (last seen in "The Merchant of Venice"), John Thomson (last seen in "24 Hour Party People"), Johnny Vegas (ditto), Ricky Tomlinson, Sam Hazeldine (last seen in "Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason"), Lex Shrapnel (last seen in "K-19: The Widowmaker"), Freddie Crowder, Rory Keenan (last seen in "Ella Enchanted"), Yusuf Hofri.
RATING: 5 out of 10 welfare checks