Last Week in Film

Last week I saw two 2021 movies and two movies that have been hanging around a while. So, instead of boring you with four separate reviews, I thought I’d go through them in one go.

In the Heights (2021)

On Tuesday I finally saw Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical In the Heights. The first thing I want to say about this is that it is long. Nearly two and a half hours. But that’s not unusual for a stage musical, so I was prepared to hunker down.

The musical follows a number of characters from Washington Heights, who all have various dreams of moving out or moving on.

I can’t actually think of a film OF a musical where I preferred the film to the show, so perhaps my view is peppered by the fact I haven’t seen the stage show BUT I did liked it a lot. It was full of joy and love, along with Miranda’s signature style. It even contained a Hamilton Easter egg. That and Jimmy Smits who makes everything wonderful.

I did feel like the biggest banger/ear worm happened right at the start (In the Heights) but I also really enjoyed 96,000, so if you’re unsure, go listen to those.

4/5 stars

Good on Paper (2021)

I’ve been excited for this one for a while. First off, this isn’t a rom-com. It’s a full on comedy that’s genuinely funny.

Andrea Singer (Iliza Shlesinger) is a stand-up comedian who is trying to become an actress. On a plane she meets Dennis (Ryan Hansen) who seems different to her usual type, aka normal. He is in finance and has just bought a house. But something is off… and she (along with Margot played by Margaret Cho) set out to find what.

Good on Paper starts super strong. It’s a fast moving comedy that isn’t cringe. Shlesinger is great, a really interesting protagonist and Hansen plays Dennis perfectly – he’s creepy and lame.

There are two things that I felt fell a bit flat: 1. the stand up within the movie. Because it was cut in, it was small snippets and I don’t think they worked that way (though would have done as a whole routine). And 2. the final showdown. I thought it was a bit contrived. However, I did like the actual ending, so it pulled it back together.

A solid 4/5 stars and adding this to my comedy rotation.

Dumplin’ (2018)

On to one of the ones that I missed when it came out: Dumplin.

Willowdean (Danielle Macdonald) enters the local beauty contest, along with her friends, as a protest against the typical body image. The contest is hosted by her former beauty queen mother Rosie (Jennifer Aniston).

I liked the simple premise here. It was fun and campy – it even involved a few drag queens (including Ginger Minge of RuPaul fame). It had some really emotional moments and I was smiling throughout.

However, it ranks as ‘good’ instead of ‘great’ because it was an easy watch and not a lot more.

3/5 stars

Ghost Town (2008)

I’m one of those people who likes Gervais more on screen than his stand-up, so I’d been thinking about giving Ghost Town a go for a while.

Pincus (Gervais) is a dentist who accidently dies on the operating table and comes back to life. When he does he can see ghosts. Frank (Greg Kinnear) is dead and wants Pincus to help him break up his ex wife Gwen (Tea Leoni) and her new fiancé.

Ghost Town was… OK. Gervais’ character was very dislikeable, I know he was meant to be, but it was almost too much. I think it would have been better if he was miserable, rather than a total p***k.

I’m a huge Ghost Whisperer fan and the “talking to ghosts” part only really happened for about 10 minutes near the end (bar Frank). The humour was weak, the romance was pretty non-existent and the ending was convoluted.

2/5 stars for the bits that got me to the end.

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