Watch as I review three movies in less time than it takes to shuck an oyster! Have a look as I race against the clock to tell you about the supremely silly “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On,” the tiny mollusk with a huge heart, and the period rom com “Mr. Malcolm’s List.”
Just in time for Canada Day, Richard joins CP24 to have a look at Canadian movies and television shows coming to VOD and streaming services. Today we talk about “Marianne & Leonard: Words of Love,” the Netflix documentary about Leonard Cohen’s muse, the return of The Kids in the Hall on Amazon Prime and the Crave documentary “Triumph: Rock & Roll Machine.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with guest host Matt Harris to talk the new movies coming to theatres including “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On,” the tiny mollusk with a huge heart, “The Forgiven,” a drama of privilege and wealth and the period rom com “Mr. Malcolm’s List.”
Richard joins NewsTalk 1010 host David Cooper on the coast-to-coast-to-coast late night “Showgram” to play the game “Did Richard Crouse Like This?” This week we talk about “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On,” the tiny mollusk with a huge heart, “The Forgiven,” a drama of privilege and wealth and the period rom com “Mr. Malcolm’s List.”
Not since the Three Stooges has nonsense been this much fun. Over five movies, the frantic, Tic Tac-shaped Minions, the silly sidekicks to former supervillain Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), have brought the most kid friendly anarchy to the screen since Curly said, “Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk,” for the first time.
Their new movie, “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” now playing in theatres, sets a new standard for silliness.
Set in 1976 San Francisco, the story begins with awkward twelve-year-old Gru and his dream.
“There are a lot of villains in the world,” he says, “but I am going to be a supervillain.”
To make his evil wish come true, he interviews to become a member of the world’s top outlaw team, the Vicious 6. But, he is not taken seriously. At all.
“I am pretty despicable,” Gru says proudly. “You don’t want to cross me.”
“Evil is for adults who steal powerful ancient stones and wreak havoc,” says Belle Bottom (Taraji P. Henson), the newly-appointed head of The Vicious 6, who took over from the former, recently deposed Wild Knuckles (Alan Arkin). “Not for tubby little punks, who should be at school learning, taking a recess and sucking his thumb! Come back when you’ve done something evil to impress me!”
To prove he’s got what it takes to be a supervillain, Gru steals something near and dear to the peach-pit sized hearts of the Vicious 6, their prized Zodiac Stone. Instead of impressing Belle Bottom, the theft turns her against Gru and his loyal Minions. With the mad, bad and dangerous to know Vicious 6 on their tail, Gru is kidnapped by Wild Knuckles. “My favorite villain is also my kidnapper,” marvels Gru. “This is going to be a great opportunity if you don’t kill me.”
Cue the Minion mayhem.
“The Minions: The Rise of Gru” provides fans of the franchise exactly what they want, no deep thoughts, just sublime silliness.
If you want to get all film critic-y about this, I suppose you could say the leitmotif is that of sweetly-inspired mayhem that follows the Minions wherever they go. But this isn’t a movie with layers of subtext or loads of diegetic elements. There is a denouement, a resolution to the story, but why overthink this? It’s short, fast and stupid, with an easily digested message of, as Armistead Maupin always says, finding your logical, not biological family. Or, as Gru says, “find your tribe and never let them go.” More zesty than arty, it’s made for kids, who I’m sure will gobble it up, while parents sit patiently through the 85 minute runtime with visions of the Three Stooges dancing in their heads.
A satire of the privilege enjoyed by the upper classes, “The Forgiven,” starring Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain and now playing in theatres, is a morality play almost completely without morality.
Based on the 2012 Lawrence Osborne novel of the same name, “The Forgiven” centers around a married couple on the way to a week-long bash in the desert of Morocco. He is the drunken, bigoted Brit David (Ralph Fiennes), she’s Jo (Jessica Chastain), a bored American with a sharp tongue.
After an afternoon of drinking, they head out into the Saharan darkness for the “long slog of a drive.” Along the way, “in the middle of bloody nowhere,” David, feeling the effects of the afternoon wine, hits and kills Driss (Omar Ghazaoui), a young fossil seller who stepped out in front of the car. They load the body into the backseat, and proceed to the party for dinner and more drinks. “The kid is a nobody,” David sneers.
The hosts (Matt Smith and Caleb Landry Jones), who brag they throw the best parties in all of West Africa, call the police, who quickly close the case, deeming it an accident. The next morning Driss’s father arrives, demanding that David accompany him to the boy’s burial. “It’s only right and proper that the man responsible for his death should do this,” the father says. “It’s the custom.”
David reluctantly agrees. “What does it matter one way or the other,” he says. “Everyone thinks I’m guilty.” David’s humbling journey stands in stark contrast to Jo, who takes advantage of the more hedonistic aspects of life back at the party.
“The Forgiven” is a story of the collision of the East and West. Director John Michael McDonagh places his wealthy, debauched characters in a place, where, because of their money and power, the rules simply don’t apply to them.
It’s an intriguing premise, played out in the movie’s dueling storylines; David and Jo, separated by distance and purpose, for most of the film’s running time. They are on different paths, but both are headed for some sort of comeuppance, the wage for their sins, but as the shroud of decadence covers Jo’s journey, and an existential dread clouds David’s, “The Forgiven” stops just short of providing some sort of enlightenment for its characters.
The undertones of exploitation of the poor and violence that are embedded in the story remain, but are left unchallenged. The ultimate understanding and judgement of the characters and the situation is left to the viewer to untangle.
With such rich material available, the vagueness of “The Forgiven” is frustrating, but compelling because of Fiennes, Chastain, Smith, Said Taghmaoui who brings real warmth to the character of driver Anouar and Mourad Zaoui as the perceptive house manager and translator Hamid.
“Marcel the Shell with Shoes On,” is part poignant, part absurd and all wonderful.
In the new film, now playing in theatres, the resourceful, one-googly-eyed sea shell with a pink pair of shoes, voiced by Jenny Slate, searches to find community after a family upheaval. Marcel may be a one-inch mollusk, but his experience of loss, grief and joy feels more human and authentic than most films starring, you know, actual humans.
In this shell’s eye view, we learn that Marcel lives in an Airbnb, once the home of an unhappily married couple, now a stop-over for tourists. When they split, Marcel’s extended family disappeared, possibly taken accidentally in the couple’s rush to leave the house and their relationship behind.
Marcel and his grandmother Connie (Isabella Rossellini) remain, finding resourceful and often hilarious ways to survive and thrive in the mostly empty house.
When recently separated filmmaker Dean (Dean Fleischer-Camp, who directs and who co-created Marcel with Slate) and his curious dog move in, Marcel finds a friend and collaborator. Dean is taken by Marcel’s mix of curiosity (Have you ever eaten a raspberry?) and acumen and begins to document life in the Airbnb in a video he intends to post on YouTube. “It’s like a movie,” Marcel explains to Connie, “but nobody has any lines and nobody even knows what it is while they’re making it.”
As the video goes viral, Marcel wonders if this newfound fame can help him track down his family.
“Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” is shot documentary style, with beautiful stop-motion animation to bring Marcel and Connie to life. The star of the show is Slate’s heartfelt vocal performance, at once childlike and wise. Marcel is a singular character. Adorable, it’s as if he just wandered over from a Pixar movie, bringing with him personality to spare but also a level of self-awareness and empathy rarely played out on such a high level in family movies. It may be big screen entertainment about a mollusk, but it feels personal and intimate.
Rossellini brings warmth to Connie, in a performance that feels like a grandmother’s hug. Comforting and wise, and just a little bit forgetful, she is Marcel’s anchor and mentor. “Marcello, let’s forget about being afraid,” she says. “Just take the adventure.”
“Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” takes a silly premise, one that could sit on the shelf next to other kid’s talking-creatures movies, and elevates it with a sense of humanity and the transformational power of friendship.
This one-inch-tall character punches way above his height.
The petticoats may be more pronounced and the dialogue right out of Jane Austen, but make no mistake, “Mr. Malcolm’s List,” a new romance now playing in theatres, is the kind of rom com that kept Drew Barrymore and Kathryn Heigl busy for years. The only thing missing is the traditional rom com run through the airport and into the arms of the beloved, an omission brought on by time period, not for lack of trying.
Based on a best-selling novel of the same name written by Suzanne Allain, the movie begins with a bad date between London’s most eligible bachelor, Mr. Jeremiah Malcolm (Sope Dirisu) and the eager but dim-witted (“Thinking too deeply causes forehead furrows,” she says.) Julia Thistlewaite (Zawe Ashton). She has her hopes set on a marriage proposal, but he seems more inclined to talk politics, a subject she knows little about.
Despite her best efforts, the night ends with them going their separate ways. The next day, to Julia’s horror, the newspaper carries a caricature of Mr. Malcolm waving her off with a curt, “Next!”
Turns out, Mr. Malcolm has a list of requirements for his potential new bride. Candidates must be able to converse in a sensible fashion, exude an elegance of mind, have a forgiving nature and genteel relations from good society, among other prerequisites. Julia’s sin? Not knowing about the newly enacted Corn Laws and fluttering her eyelashes too much.
Julia is horrified by the publicity. “I would love for Mr. Malcolm to receive the comeuppance he deserves,” she says. To that end she enlists Selina Dalton (Freida Pinto), a country mouse from out of town, gives her a crash course in high society, and sets her off to seduce Malcolm. When he falls for her charms, she will produce a list of her own and he will be “judged and found wanting in front of the whole of good society” just as she was.
You know the rest and if you don’t, you’ve never seen a rom com before. This is a gussied-up Kathryn Heigl movie with high-brow accents and the promise of a ripped bodice or two. Mix in jealousy, trickery, a handsome alternate love interest in the form of Captain Henry Ossory (Theo James) and comedic relief from giggly Mrs. Covington, wonderfully played by Broadway star Ashley Park, and you have a diverting but rather predictable movie.
“Mr. Malcolm’s List” succeeds mostly because an engaging, diverse cast who breathe life and loads of personality into a well-worn genre.
Watch Richard review three movies in less time than it takes to get all shook up! Have a look as he races against the clock to tell you about Baz Luhrmann’s flashy king of rock n’ roll biopic “Elvis,” the one-ringy-dingy terror of “The Black Phone” and the Arctic thrills of “Slash/Back.”