Posts Tagged ‘HUMPDAY’


Screen Shot 2014-10-24 at 10.21.46 AM“Canada AM” film critic Richard Crouse reviews “John Wick,” “Whiplash” and “Birdman.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

LAGGIES: 3 STARS. “Knightly brings forthrightness to the character.”

LAGGIESTeen angst has been good to the movies. “Blackboard Jungle” and “Rebel Without a Cause” defined that common collision of hormones and school stress for the 19560s and every decade since has offered up its own example of misunderstood, troubled youth. Heck, Kristen Stewart has made a career of playing dead-eyed teens.

“Laggies” fits the mold of a teen angst film, except the main character Megan (Keira Knightley) is a clever twenty-something who never completely grew out of her angst. “I had a good feeling about you,” says one her friends. “That makes one of us,” she replies.

In the film’s opening minutes we meet Megan and her friends on prom night. They sneak cocktails, dance and go skinny-dipping. Cut to today, the four girls (Ellie Kemper) are still in touch, some married to their high school sweethearts, some, like Megan, living with her prom date Anthony (Mark Webber).

Megan is surrounded by a strong support system; adoring parents, a devoted boyfriend and friends who love her enough to ask her to be their child’s godmother.

Still, she is unsettled. That feeling intensifies when Anthony tries to propose on the night of her best friend’s wedding. A chance encounter with a group of teens, including Annika (Chloë Grace Moretz) and her sarcastic friend Misty (Kaitlyn Dever), forces Megan to reexamine her life and relationship.

Megan says she became a psychologist because she wanted to have real conversations with people and Knightly, in a lissome performance, brings forthrightness to the character… even when she is lying. It’s something different from Knightley. She’s more off hand here than we’re used to, and even though she looks like a fashion model even when she is dressed down in her teen friend’s clothes, she still radiates the teen ennui that defines her character. We see her working through it, trying to figure out what she wants, but for now she is an unemployed woman with a degree who still flops herself on parents’ couch demanding pizza night.

Moretz and Dever also impress. In some ways Annika is more grown up, yet more confused than Megan. They mentor one another, and Moretz brings real vulnerability to the role. Less vulnerable but way sassier is Dever’s Kaitlyn who embodies the eye rolling best friend in every teen movie.

The role of the grumpy father, and this case also love interest, is ably taken by Sam Rockwell. He’s stern but funny—he says Annika and Kaitlyn are “like gerbils; they have no sense of time.”—but never feels like a caricature. None of the characters do. The story may have some questionable moments but the characters don’t.

“Laggies” director Lynn Shelton has a deft touch with characters—as witnessed in her other films “Humpday” and “Your Sister’s Sister”—but has relied a bit too heavily on rom-com conventions. It’s a satisfying movie, it’s too bad it settles for a standard ending.


Screen Shot 2013-09-15 at 12.49.10 PMHumpday is the mumblecore version of You, Me and Dupree with a surprising twist.

If that doesn’t make sense to you, allow me to break it down. Unless you’ve been hanging around the Slamdance Film Festival “mumblecore” is likely a bit of a mystery. It is, by definition, true independent film; shot in sequence on digital video cameras with improvised dialogue and a do-it-yourself philosophy. Most feature twenty-something nonprofessional actors and a production value that makes the Dogme 95 films look like slick Michael Bay movies.

You, Me and Dupree is an awful Kate Hudson comedy about a houseguest that throws her and her new husband’s life into disarray.

Still in the dark. OK. Here’s the lowdown. Ben and Anna are happy newlyweds, anticipating the (eventual) arrival of their first child. One night, at 2 am Andrew, an old school chum of Ben’s arrives, looking for a place to stay. Andrew is a free spirited artist who is in Seattle to raise money to complete an art project in Mexico. His presence immediately upsets Ben and Anna’s comfortable routine, but when he and Ben concoct a scheme to make an amateur porno to prove their brotherly love—it would be “beyond gay” they say—it pushes everyone to reexamine their motives.

Mumblecore is about intimate relationships and Humpday does a nice job of framing Ben’s interactions with Anna and Andrew. His relations with both seem natural and real, but like real life it’s not always very exciting. Humpday’s use of natural conversation is easy on the ears, but could have used a dialogue editor. Discussions drone on and on and more than once I felt myself thinking, “OK, we get the point. Move on!”

It’s nothing that some tight editing couldn’t fix, and I wish someone would take the scissors to Humpday because other than that it is an effective study of people’s perceptions. As Ben and Andrew learn about themselves and where their boundaries lay the only thing that gets in their way is the incessant talk.