A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at “Fifty Shades Freed,” “Permission” with Rebecca Hall and the meta-movie romance “Entanglement.”
Richard and CP24 anchor Nathan Downer have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the continuing and endless erotic (ish) adventure of the “Fifty Shades Freed” gang, the sorta-kinda-rom-com “Permission” with Rebecca Hall, the meta-movie romance “Entanglement” and the mockumentary “Fake Blood.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Jennifer Burke to have a look at the weekend’s big releases, the erotic (ish) adventure “Fifty Shades Freed,” the sorta-kinda-rom-com “Permission” with Rebecca Hall, the meta-movie romance “Entanglement” and the mockumentary “Fake Blood.”
“Entanglement” stars “Silicon Valley’s” Thomas Middleditch as a man who almost finds fulfillment with a woman who was almost his sister.
When we first meet Benjamin Layten he is at his lowest point. Recently divorced from a woman he still loves he attempts suicide, only to be rescued by a courier and his neighbour Tabby (Diana Bang). Dour and darkly funny—“Do you like yourself?” he’s asked. “As a friend?” he replies. “Or as a friend with benefits?”—he is adrift, unhappy and looking for answers.
To get to the bottom of his gloomy mood he maps out all the bad things that have happened to him—i.e. “Dropped on my head at mom’s pool party.”—in an elaborate attempt to see pinpoint where he went wrong in life. It’s not until he discovers his parents adopted a baby girl and then gave her back that he sees some light in the darkness. “We’re going to find out who this girl is,” he tells Tabby, “and see if she can fix my life.”
Thinking that having a sister would have made him feel less awkward—“She’d would have taught me how to talk to girls and how to dance.”—he begins his quest and almost immediately tracks her down. Hannah (Jess Weixler) is an adrenaline junkie who shoplifts, can pick any lock on any door and lives just a few blocks away. They meet, they hit it off and soon become romantically involved. (SPOILER ALERT!!!) But is she the girl of his dreams or a girl in his dreams?
“Entanglement” is a neurotic rom com that starts off promisingly as a dark comedy but then falls too in love with its premise. Striking visuals and nice performances from Middleditch and Weixler—he’s a sad sack, she’s a sparkplug—can’t cover up a script that leans to heavily on the idea of Quantum Entanglement—particles that are apart yet connected (romantic, right?)—and not enough on allowing the characters to behave like real people. The quirk factor is dialled up rather high as though this was an unproduced script left over from the Manic Pixie Dream Girl heyday of the late 1990s.
The moments of “Entanglement” that work, really work, teasing the promise of a better movie. As it is the scant 85-minute running time is padded with too many musical montages that leaves us simultaneously wanting more and less.
This year a Christmas cinema miracle happened. “The Interview,” a Seth Rogen comedy materialized on screens big and small, despite hacker’s attempts to silence the movie. Chants of “Freedom” rang out across the land as the faithful lined up for their chance to see Rogen and James Franco exercise their right of free speech and make bad jokes.
Rogen and Franco play TV host Dave Skylark and producer Aaron Rapaport of the celebrity gossip talk show Skylark Tonight. Skylark is a smarmier version of Barbara Walters, a talk show host who trades in getting personal scoops form his guests. 1000 episodes in Eminem comes out of the closet on the show—”I’ve been playing gay peek-a-boo for years,” he says. “I’ve pretty much been leaving a gay bread crumb trail.”—but despite stratospheric ratings Rapaport doesn’t feel he is being taken seriously as a journalist. “I want to cover actual news,” he says, “not Nicki Minaj’s vagina flopping out at the Grammys.” When he learns North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un (Randall Park) is a fan of the show and wants to be interviewed by Dave, Aaron leaps at the chance to go to Pyongyang.
What begins as a chance at journalistic credibility soon turns into an assignment of a different sport when CIA Agent Lacey (Lizzy Caplan) recruits them to “take him out.” “Like for drinks? For kimchi? Take him out on the town?” Their job is to assassinate Kim with a special poison gadget hidden in their palms. Trouble is, when they touch down in Pyongyang Skylark becomes seduced by Kim’s charm. Convinced he is simply misunderstood and not evil, the dimwitted TV host has second thoughts about completing the mission. “He’s not evil, he was born into a bad situation.”
At a private dinner Dave discovers Kim’s truly dark side and, working with Aaron and propaganda minister Sook (Diana Bang), bring their visit to North Korea to a wild, bloody conclusion.
“The Interview” isn’t nearly as bad as some of the twitterati suggest—“I thought I’d never laugh again,” wrote one tweeter—or as subversive as others would like it to be.
The first twenty minutes has some genuinely funny moments, most fuelled by the Abbott and Costello-style bromantic chemistry between Rogen and the arrogantly idiotic Franco. The set-up earns some giggles at the expense of the media and celebrity journalists—an easy and deserving target—and the audacious nature of the film’s premise. Once the scenery changes from Hollywood to the hermit kingdom, however, the laughs become as rare as Angelina Jolie compliments in leaked Sony e-mails.
Still, there are some funny lines. “That tank was a gift to my father from Stalin,” says Kim. “In my country it’s pronounced Stallone,” replies the oblivious Dave. It’s not Noel Coward, but it’s a nice window into the chat show host’s tiny little world.
The rest of the movie, while intermittently entertaining, isn’t nearly as sharp. In fact it is a blunt instrument that spends 152 minutes (about ¢6 a minute if you rent the download) hammering the audience over the head with poop and rectum jokes. More actual satire and less hiding-things-in-Rogen’s-bum might have made watching the film act of political activism or even an exercise in freedom of speech, but as it is “The Interview” is a buddy comedy and not a declaration of war.