Other Guys, The Kid, Devil and Cyrus

A four-film weekend for the first time in an age. It’s awkward having to swing the car out and back into the car park between films courtesy of the limited free parking at Fountain Park, but hey.

The Other Guys

“Did someone call 9-1-holy ****!?”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: The best two cops in the city suffer a grisly fate during a crime and a couple of washouts from the precinct try to fill their shoes.

Will Ferrell is an unknown quantity. From genuinely hilarious films like Old School to complete cringeworthy crap like Anchorman, you never know what to expect from him. The Other Guys falls mainly in the former territory thanks in part to a decent script, some good one-liners and a pair of characters who aren’t actually annoying.

Ferrell, as usual, plays an off-kilter character. In this case a cop who’s opted for a desk job to keep his inner beasts at bay. His opposite number is smothered supercop Hoitz (Mark Wahlberg), a gung-ho officer stuck at a desk because of an accidental shooting.

Of course, the two are chalk and cheese and they have some “bad cops” to compete with who want to prove themselves first. For a comedy, the plot running underneath has a couple of decent twists involving massive corporate fraud (courtesy of Steve Coogan‘s corrupt banker, David Ershon).

A couple of the jokes just run a little too long, and there’s the usual annoying issue of the oddball character not realising how unusual he is (endemic of most of Ferrell’s roles – and Adam Sandler, come to think of it). Despite this, it’s not too bad and genuinely laugh-out-loud funny in places. The opening action sequence is ludicrously over-the-top as well.

Oh, and do sit through the start of the credits for an interesting set of figures on how the fat cat bankers are really screwing everyone else. Don’t wait for the out-take at the very end, though. It’s not worth getting a numb bum for.

The Kid

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Small child grows up abused and battered by parents, gets involved in crime, eventually stands up for himself and becomes a best-selling author. All based on a true story.

Nick Moran is perhaps best known as an actor than as a director. However, if he can keep pumping out stuff like this then it’s a good job he’s spread his wings. Based on the autobiographies by Kevin Lewis, who wrote the screenplay.

The films begins towards the end with a battered Kevin being thrown out of a van. The story then backtracks to his life as a child.

Kevin grew up in a crappy council house in London. His father a drunken epileptic. His mother a serial child beater. The council uncaring until a school nurse spotted the bruises, cuts and burns and had him removed into care.

As years pass, Kevin is played by a succession of actors (William Finn Miller, Augustus Prew and finally Rupert Friend), all of whom do a superb job with a very difficult role. Hell, thoe whole cast is fantastic from Natascha McElhone as the hateful mother, Gloria, to Ioan Gruffudd as the teacher who tries his best to help the outcast Kevin through school.

Not only does the story focus on the family life, it also highlights how badly “the system” can work. Kevin’s return home being one example, and uncaring teachers who treat the odd kid as just another troublemaker.

Call me a bit over-analytical, but watching the film through newly qualified “teacher goggles” made a difference for me, especially the parts during Kevin’s teens where Mr Smith makes such an impact on his life. Trying to spot what went wrong, who did things they shouldn’t have – or should have done things they didn’t.

To use a trite phrase, it’s a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. Things keep looking up for Kevin, and then he’s dropped right in it again. Time after time. You do wonder how anyone could cope.

It is not an easy film to watch. Abrasive, abusive, hard-hitting and brutal. The worst thing being that so much of it portrays violence to – and by – children. However, that’s not reason not to watch it. It’s a superb piece of film-making. The use of sound, music in particular, is very well done and if I have a criticism it’s that the punches thrown in the fight scenes don’t often look like they connect. Acting and drama-wise there is no fault to be found.

Definitely one to see if you have the stomach for it.

Devil

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Five people stuck in a lift and, apparently, one of them is Lucifer incarnate.

M. Night Shyamalan came up with the story for this one, apparently part one of a trilogy of tales. It’s a nice, short (under 90 mins) thriller/horror with some good pacing that doesn’t push the brain too much.

Five people get into a lift in an office building. The lift gets stuck… and then strange things start to happen. A religious security guard monitoring the situation details a childhood story where the devil appears in human form and punishes the guilty before killing them all and taking their souls to hell. Of course, he’s treated as a mad case while the police try to deal with the jammed lift.

The claustrophobic main set doesn’t keep the action in one place as apparently those who try to help will be struck down as well. The film has a 15 rating so death scenes aren’t that grisly, and you don’t actually see anyone killed or injured… just the effect afterwards. This doesn’t make it any less scary – Tobe Hooper did the same with the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Devil is no classic, but it is a well put together thriller. The ending isn’t quite as unpredictable as it could have been, but it’s an enjoyable movie nonetheless and doesn’t waste much of your time if you don’t like it.

Cyrus

“Plan B – get more drunk”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: A man’s attempts to win over his new girlfriend are sabotaged by her scheming 21 year-old son.

This one was recommended by one of the staff at school and the trailer did make it look good. Don’t be fooled. I was bored senseless. Yes, it’s darkly comedic. Yes, it has a few good scenes. But overall I found it frustrating and empty.

John C. Reilly plays John, a man divorced for seven years who finally meets someone new that he likes (Marisa Tomei as Molly) at a party. She lives with her 21 year old son Cyrus (Jonah Hill) who’s somewhat attached to his mother and resents the intrusion of a new person into the fold.

John thinks he’s going mad until he figures out what’s happening, Cyrus and he eventually lock horns and Molly remains oblivious. In the meantime, the audience shuffle their feet. It certainly wasn’t just me – the half dozen people behind me proclaimed “that was ****” as they filed out at the end.

I guess I just didn’t get it as some of the reviews I’ve seen have been fairly positive. Just not my cup of tea I’m afraid.

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