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 the clown prince of Asgard in “Thor: Ragnarok,” the grammatically incorrect “A Bad Moms Christmas,” and the strange “The Killing of the Sacred Deer.”
Richard and CP24 anchor Nick Dixon have a look at the weekend’s new movies including Chris Hemsworth’s funny take on his most famous character in “Thor: Ragnarok,” the lump of coal that is “A Bad Moms Christmas” and the strangest movie of the year, “The Killing of the Sacred Deer.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Lois Lee to have a look at the clown prince of Asgard in “Thor: Ragnarok,” the grammatically incorrect “A Bad Moms Christmas, the strange “The Killing of the Sacred Deer” and the religious drama “Novitiate.”
If you are to believe the new Mila Kunis comedy, “A Bad Mom Christmas,” the Yuletide is a time of joy… unless you are a mother. “Moms don’t enjoy,” we’re told, “they give joy. That‘s how being a mom works.”
In 2016’s “Bad Moms” Amy (Mila Kunis) Kiki (Kristen Bell) and Carla (Kathryn Hahn) were a Coffee Klatch of moms fed up with the burden of having to be perfect. Today not much has changed except for the weather. They are all still overworked and underappreciated as the holidays approach. “I feel like a giant stress ball from November to New Years,” says Amy.
On top of providing a memorable Christmas for their families, the original three moms, in the kind of miracle that only happens in Christmas movies, are ambushed by their own mothers, the primly perfect-in-every-way Ruth (Christine Baranski), the overbearing Sandy (Cheryl Hines) and former REO Speedwagon roadie Isis (Susan Sarandon). Each are as welcome as a bad case of Christmas Itch and all three complicate an already complicated season. “Remember when the holidays were actually fun?” asks Amy. “Let’s take Christmas back.”
Only in the era of climate change would it seem appropriate to release the snowbound “A Bad Moms Christmas” the day after Halloween. The first “Bad Moms” movie was a hell raising grrrls-gone-wild romp with plenty of gags but this one falls into the sloppy sentimental trap of many holiday movies.
It’s an hour-and-forty-minutes of dime store psychology—families aren’t perfect but they’re the only family you’ll ever have—that makes “Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas Ever” look like “The Dialectical Behaviour Therapy Skills Workbook: Practical DBT Exercises for Learning Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Emotion Regulation, and Distress Tolerance” by comparison. It wants to warm the cockles of your heart with its tale of mothers and kids but none of it feels authentic. The heart-tugging stuff doesn’t tug because none of it feels authentic and the raunchy humour—the potty mouth kids, endless vaginal waxing jokes, the twerking on Santa and gingerbread cookies shaped like… well, you can guess—feels wedged in. Imagine a Hallmark Movie with male strippers and you get the idea.
It’s not the cast’s fault the script is drier than Aunt Ethel’s Christmas turkey. All of them—particularly Baranski and Hahn—are game but cannot turn this lump of coal into a polished diamond. Kenny G earns points as a willing pop-culture punchline and Baranski should win some sort of special prize for squeezing as many laughs out of this material as she does. Her take on “the most critical human being on the planet”—“When I was nine I made her a Mother’s Day card,” Amy says, “and she returned it with notes.”—is worthy of a much better movie.
“A Bad Mom Christmas” only gets one thing 100% right. “We’re going to watch ‘Love, Actually,’” says Amy. “Dumb movie,” sneers Ruth.
Welcome to the House of Crouse. It’s a packed house this week. Director John Madden goes long on his political thriller Miss Sloane and the pleasures of working with Jessica Chastain. T.J. Miller talks about laughing through the apocalypse and Riz Ahmed discusses realizing a childhood dream by starring in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. It’s loads of guests and loads of fun so c’mon in and set a spell!
Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies, “Office Christmas Party” with T.J. Miller, Jason Bateman and Jenifer Aniston, “Jackie” starring Natalie Portman, “Lion” with Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman and Jessica Chastain as “Miss Sloan.”
Richard sits in with Erin Paul to have a look at the weekend’s new movies, “Office Christmas Party” with T.J. Miller, Jason Bateman and Jenifer Aniston, “Jackie” starring Natalie Portman, “Lion” with Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman and Jessica Chastain as “Miss Sloan.”
In Office Christmas Party T.J. Miller plays Clay, a scattered office manager with a “mind like a drunk baby.” In a last ditch effort to save his branch from closure he tries to woo a lucrative client by throwing a no-holds-barred Christmas party.
“This is the way we close Walter,” says Clay. “We throw the best Christmas party he’s ever seen. We could save everybody’s jobs.”
Miller leads an ensemble cast featuring heavy-hitters like Jason Bateman, Olivia Munn, Kate McKinnon and Jennifer Aniston but he doesn’t want to talk about that. Not right away, anyway.
Instead he begins the interview with, “Let’s talk comedy in a time of tragedy.”
“Basically I have a political obstacle to my social mission statement,” he says. “The social statement was, tragedy permeates our everyday lives, people are lonely, they’re scared, they have death anxiety, they don’t know how to attribute meaning to their own existence, so through comedy we can provide an opiate or distraction that permeates our everyday lives. Through satire we can hopefully frame the world in a way that people can laugh at.
“Also I aim to help people, through my stand up, to release the death anxiety. I aim to help people not take themselves so seriously.”
When Miller, who also currently plays Erlich Bachman on Silicon Valley, finally gets around to talking about Office Christmas Party, he’s still on message.
“It’s very easy to promote a comedy during the apocalypse,” he says.
The Christmas film, which features a greedy pimp, a sexually repressed head of HR and an office load of drunk, disgruntled employees, is a mix and match of sentimentality and debauchery that Miller thinks is perfect for the season.
“What better way to spend the holidays?” he asks. “First of all you don’t have to talk to your family for an hour-and-a-half during the holidays. That’s a bonus. If the movie is funny, you talk about how funny it was for half-an-hour. How dynamic Jenifer Aniston, Jason Bateman and Courtney B. Vance are. How strange I look in a Santa suit for that long. That my facial hair is still abrasive and arresting. That’s two- and-a-half to three hours towards a stress free holiday. That’s what we’re pitching you.
“It’s a funny movie. It’s a laugh a minute. Well, it’s a laugh every minute-and-a-half to two minutes. We wanted to give you a break. It’s exhausting to laugh every minute.”
Miller, who once worked as a legal secretary in the same Chicago office building seen in the film, says the movie is silly and fun but shares his core comedy philosophy.
“Workplace environments have become so sterile and corporations have become so much about profit and not the people they work with that we’ve lost the fun of work. We don’t have cool office Christmas parties anymore. We are saying, ‘You spend so much time with the people you work with, why not have a night or two a year where you can kind of just relax? Take a night off from worrying about offending someone or giving ‘tude.’
“That is our message to North America. Take the holidays, drink way too much eggnog, laugh, relax and know that we’ve got a lot of work to do in 2017.”
Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman appeared in the edgy “Horrible Bosses” films so you’d expect their new movie, “Office Christmas Party” to be holiday fare more naughty than nice. But you’d be wrong. Their latest suffers from not being too vulgar, but from being not vulgar enough.
Aniston runs Zenotech Data Storage Systems, a tech company she inherited from her late father. Dad left her the company but gave the main branch to her party animal brother Clay (T.J. Miller). She’s a strict by–the-book business person the Grinch who cancels all branch Christmas parties to save money and gives Clay until the end of the quarter, just two days away, to turn things around or she will lay off 40% of the staff and cancel all bonuses.
Clay is scattered with a “mind like a drunk baby,” but determined to protect his branch and his staff. To that end he recruits head programmers Josh (Jason Bateman) and Tracey (Olivia Munn) to woo a lucrative client (Courtney B. Vance) by throwing a no-holds-barred office Christmas party. “This is the way we close Walter, we throw the best Christmas party he’s ever seen,” says Clay. “We could save everybody’s jobs.”
Despite Clay’s warning, “When I drink a lot bad things happen,” they proceed with the party. Add in a greedy pimp, $300,000 in cold hard cash, a sexually repressed head of HR (Kate McKinnon) and an office load of drunk, disgruntled employees and you have a Bacchanalia that would make would make Caligula blush.
Given the premise “Office Christmas Party” is not nearly as wild as a movie about and out of control party should be. Despite the excess of flesh and booze the movie often opts for sentimentality over debauchery. It most certainly doesn’t put the ‘X’ in Xmas.
Tone wise it should feel like anything could happen; like the movie could go off the rails at any second. Instead it’s as sweet and gooey as a (slightly soiled) Hallmark Christmas card.
Packed with comedy heavy hitters like Aniston, Bateman, McKinnon and Miller, it’s the supporting cast who garner most of the laughs. Fortune Feimster, a comic best known for her work on “The Mindy Project” livens things up as a motor mouth Uber driver and Randall Park’s take on a shy-but-kinky office worker has its charms but it is Courtney B. Vance who steals the show. The velvet-voiced character actor who specializes in playing lawyers—think “Law & Order” and his Johnnie Cochran in
“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”—unexpectedly lets his freak flag fly and the results are glorious. If it was his movie it might have been more fun.