Posts Tagged ‘Tammy’


Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 2.21.04 PMRichard and CP24 anchor host Nneka Elliot have a look at he weekend’s big releases, Melissa McCarthy’s “The Boss,” Jake Gyllenhaal in “Demolition” and “Hardcore Henry’s” wild action.

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 10.38.38 AMRichard and “Canada AM” host Jeff Hutcheson kick around the weekend’s big releases. They find out if the boss is always right in Melissa McCarthy’s “The Boss,” if Jake Gyllenhaal can overcome his grief in “Demolition,” how Hank Williams became a star in “I Saw the Light” and if “Hardcore Henry” should come with a medical advisory.

Watch the whole thing HERE!


THE BOSS: 2 STARS. “time to admit that “The Boss” is not always right.”

The BossMelissa McCarthy is funny. Committed to wringing every last laugh out of her scripts, she’ll do anything to get a giggle and I think that’s what makes her latest film, “The Boss,” kind of an uncomfortable watch. You can tell she’s working on overdrive trying to mine jokes out of as script that is unwilling to give them up. Few bosses have ever worked this hard for this little return.

She plays Michelle Darnell, a mix and match of Leona Helmsley and Martha Stewart. A child of neglect, she’s now the ruthless ideal of the virtues of greed whose brash attitude and potty mouth have made her a “cash champion” and the 47th wealthiest woman in America. When her ex-lover and nemesis Renault (Peter Dinklage) leaks information to the SEC a conviction for insider trading brings down her empire. After a jail sentence she’s freed, homeless and without a dime to her name.

Her former assistant Claire (Kristen Bell) grudgingly gives Michelle a place to stay, allowing her to move into the small walk-up apartment she shares with her preteen daughter Rachel (Ella Anderson). With the new living arrangement comes a new business opportunity in the form of Claire’s delicious home baked brownies. “This is my way back,” she says. “You’re looking at Darnell 2.0.”

A mix of vulgarity, slapstick and sentimentality, “The Boss” starts slow and despite a funny-ish midsection never fully recovers. McCarthy pulls out all the stops, leading the violent charge in a turf war between Darnell’s Darlings and a Girl Guides troop called the Dandelions and never misses a pratfall, but the material just isn’t there.

Her trademark is making unlikeable characters likable. We’ve seen her do it in everything from “Tammy” to “Identity Thief” and beyond, but she’s met her match with Michelle Darnell. She’s so terrible she was returned to an orphanage by three sets of adoptive parents. Later in life she’s told at a country club, “no one at this table likes you,” and it’s not hard to see why. The warmth of her previous characters is AWOL and no amount of late movie sentimentality will change that.

Coming off a career high with the very funny “Spy” makes “The Boss” an even bigger disappointment. A capable and agreeable cast surrounds her—but I wish they had given Bell something more interesting to do—and certainly the idea of unchecked avarice is ripe with comedic possibilities but it never gels. When the best you can say about it is that it’s better than “Tammy,” the last film she made with director (and husband) Ben Falcone, it’s time to admit that “The Boss” is not always right.


Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 2.35.00 PMRichard’s CP24 reviews for “Spy,” “Entourage,” “Hungry Hearts” and “Insidious: Chapter 3.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 2.38.03 PMRichard’s “Canada AM” reviews for “Spy,” “Entourage” and “Hungry Hearts.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Metro In Focus: I Spy another Melissa McCarthy blockbuster

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 3.48.18 PMBy Richard Crouse

I used to find Melissa McCarthy frustrating.

Director Paul Feig calls her “one of the funniest people in the world.” Her husband, actor Ben Falcone, says she “will do anything to get a laugh” but her tendency to go for the easy gag often put me in the mind of Will Ferrell in his Blades of Glory nadir.

Thanks to a string of hits like Bridesmaids, Identity Thief, The Heat and Tammy and an $809,163,263 box office total, McCarthy is a rarity in Hollywood, a female comedy superstar. Everyone agrees she is a skilled comic actor who amplifies the funny in good movies and elevates the jokes in lesser scripts but the latter is why I used to find her exasperating. Much of her recent work—this weekend’s very funny Spy notwithstanding—has relied on her major personality to magnify minor material.

There’s no arguing with the kind of financial success she has enjoyed but critical accolades have been elusive. The Wall Street Journal, for instance, said of Tammy, “The movie’s principal intention is to make you laugh at a loser, and revel in scenes from which polite people would instinctively turn away.”

Bridesmaids was her flashpoint, the film that broke her out of the TV sidekick treadmill. As Megan—imagine a feral, female Guy Fieri—she stole the show out from under other, better known stars like Kristen Wiig and earned an Oscar nomination. It’s a wonderful, weird performance that hinted at great things to come but aside from a few inspired moments she has not made good on the promise of Bridesmaids. Her work has come to rely too heavily on a stock character, the obnoxious loser with a heart of gold buried beneath a thick shell of one-liners and non sequiturs.

“I’ve played a lot of characters who are very vocal, very aggressive,” she told me in 2014. “For the women I’ve played there is a reason why they are so ballsy and it is nice when you see the crack in the veneer and you realize, ‘It’s part of their insecurity. They stay loud so nobody yells at them.’”

It’s an interesting character breakdown but one that played itself out by the end of 2013’s Identity Thief when I believe she became infected with Will Ferrell disease.

There was a time when Will Ferrell could do no wrong. At least that’s what the directors of Blades of Glory, Land of the Lost and Semi-Pro thought. Popular with audiences, he was allowed to run riot in a series of so-so films resulting in the bleak middle period of his career where manic energy replaced humor in his films.

McCarthy suffers from the same affliction. She is funny, she knows how to deliver a line, but in Identity Thief, The Heat and Tammy she’s off the chain, Ferrelling her way through underwritten scripts.

Ferrell turned things around and so has McCarthy. In St. Vincent she took a step away from her well-established comedic persona to deliver laughs and show her dramatic range.

Her latest film, Spy is also welcome return to form. Paired once again with director Feig, the movie offers up the best of both worlds, a funny, smart script and a director who knows how to maximize her talents. As Susan Cooper, a CIA computer-analyst-turned-international-field-agent-on-a-mission-of-revenge, she’s likeable, funny and most importantly, reigned in.

SPY: 4 STARS. “Melissa McCarthy has better action scenes than Jason Statham.”

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 3.47.22 PMThe new movie “Spy” has all the stuff you expect from a secret agent flick. There’s exotic locations, shoot-outs, beautiful women, handsome tuxedoed men and plenty of action. That Melissa McCarthy has better action scenes than co-star Jason Statham is just one clue that it’s also a comedy. The next clue is the constant stream of laughs coming from the ensemble cast.

McCarthy is Susan Cooper, a CIA computer analyst who guides the field agents through their missions. She’s in love with Bradley Fine (Jude Law), a James Bond type—think Daniel Craig without the menace—who rhetorically asks, “Who’s the finest of them all?” after taking down his enemies. As accomplished as Susan is behind-the-scenes, Fine and her boss Agent Crocker (Allison Janney) treat her like a lap dog. When Fine disappears during a dangerous mission Crocker decides they need an unknown agent to complete his assignment and locate a Bulgarian arms dealer named Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne). Cooper, thirsty to avenge Fine’s death volunteers and despite the protests of senior agent Richard Ford (Jason Statham), is sent to Paris to track Boyanov and stop Sergio De Luca (Bobby Cannavale) from selling a nuke to a terrorist organization.

In “Spy” McCarthy leaves behind the aggressive but damaged comedic persona of “Identity Thief,” “The Heat” and “Tammy” and is likeable, funny and most importantly, reigned in. “Spy” is funny, but feels so much more disciplined than any of McCarthy’s last handful of films. Director Paul Feig knows when to let McCarthy off the leash—there are some wild slapstick scenes here but he also knows when to pull her back and let the script do the work. She’s appeared in a string of weakly written comedies that required her to pull out all the stops to wring a laugh or two from poor scripts. Here she has the best of both worlds—a funny, smart script and a director who knows how to maximize her talent.

The supporting cast who knows when to work and when to get out of the way ably assists. It’s fun to see Statham have fun with his tough guy persona—“This arm was ripped off,” he says indicating his right arm, “and reattached with this one,” raising his left.—and Byrne’s mastery of one liners gives McCarthy a run for her money in the laughs department.

McCarthy Ferrelled it in several films, replacing humor with manic energy, but she’s in top form in “Spy,” generating genuine laughs and excitement for the upcoming “Ghostbusters” sequel she’s planning with Feig.


Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 8.34.19 AMRichard and “Canada AM” host Marci Ien have a look at the Best and Worst movies of 2014. Watch the whole thing HERE!


video-undefined-2014A6EC00000578-598_636x358NAUGHTY LIST (in alphabetical order)::

1.) Before I Go To Sleep: “Before I Go to Sleep,” the new Nicole Kidman movie, has a lot in common with the recent hit “Gone Girl.” Both star Academy Award winners, each feature a tall icy blonde actress in the lead role and are martial stories with an edge. The big difference between them? ”Gone Girl” is a hair-raising thriller and “Before I Go To Sleep” is not.

Based on the best-selling novel by S.J. Watson, it’s the story of Christine (Nicole Kidman), a traumatized woman who wakes up everyday with no memory. As she sleeps her mind erases itself, wiping away any new information. Her husband Ben (Colin Firth) has arranged their house as a tribute to their relationship—wedding pictures and mementoes from their life together decorate the walls—to help give her a sense of time, place and security. A neuropsychologist (Mark Strong) is secretly working with her to reassemble the shards of her memory, but as her synapsis start firing she begins to question everything about her life.

It’s the stuff of a solid thriller. “Memento,” “The Bourne Identity” and “Spellbound” have all masterfully mined similar material with more success. Director Rowan Joffe has made a stylish looking movie but allows it to get bogged down by repetition and too-tame performances. It’s a shame because the twist—and you know there has to be a twist—works well enough and there are a few tense moments in the climax but the preposterous denouement wipes away any good will the film’s exciting-ish apogee offered.

2.) I, Frankenstein: An unholy mix of religion, martial arts (Adam has some slick Bruce Lee moves) and Mary Shelley, “I, Frankenstein” should have been called “Aye, yi, yi, Frankenstein.”

There is some cool gothic Gargoyle imagery on display and a variety of posh English accents to class to the joint, but it seems only Nighy realizes that this would have played better as a campy comedy.

In amongst the over earing narration, dropped storylines—for instance, a bride for Adam is mentioned and then never mentioned again—and shots of Adam peering around corners, every now and again someone will say, “I think your boss is a demon prince.”

Mel Brooks would have known how to stage that line. For all its atmosphere—i.e.: darkly shot scenes—“I, Frankenstein” would have been a lot more fun if it embraced its silly side just as Adam must embrace his humanity. With humanity comes a sense of humor, right? Not in this case. The movie plays like a satire of bad horror movies that forgot it was a satire.

3.) Left Behind: “Left Behind” stars Nicolas Cage and sets much of the action on board a plane, but make no mistake, this isn’t “Con Air.” Instead of raising hell, Cage is playing it pious in a remake of a Kirk Cameron movie about the rapture.

Based on a popular book series about the rapture by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, “Left Behind” is a mainstream reboot of a successful string of Christian movies. Directed by Vic Armstrong, the legendary stunt man best known for the “Indiana Jones” movies, the new “Left Behind” has a distinct b-movie feel, with flimsy sets and bad dialogue (“Either I’m going crazy or the whole world is insane!”) but it does feature something rather remarkable—a subdued performance from Cage. Lately he’s been a practitioner of something he calls Nouveau Shamanic school of acting but here he has dialed it way down perhaps out of respect to the religious nature of the material, or perhaps he’s saving the wild stuff for “Con Air 2: This Time it’s Biblical.”

4.) The Nut Job: “The Nut Job” is an original story that feels Frankensteined together from other, better kid’s movies. Echoes of “Ice Age” style slapstick and “Ratatouille” situations and even “Animal Farm” ethos reverberate throughout. I’ll give the filmmakers credit for adding in the gangster twist and some jazzy music but it’s the characters themselves that really disappoint.

To give you an idea of the amount of thought put into the characters, let’s start with their names. Neeson’s raccoon character is inventively named Raccoon, the rat sidekick is Buddy (Robert Tinkler) and the surly squirrel is, of course, called Surly.

Different names wouldn’t have made this a better movie, but the literal names display a lack of inventiveness that permeates the entire film. The animation is fine, but the rest—the story, the voice work, the action—feels as uninspired as peanut butter without jam.

There is very little joy, almond or otherwise, in “The Nut Job.”

5.) Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb: Unless the movie is called “Planet of the Apes” its faint praise to say the monkey is the best thing about a picture. Such is the case with “Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb,” the third outing in the popular Ben Stiller kid’s franchise. Crystal the Monkey as Dexter a Capuchin monkey, gets the most laughs and is the only member of the top-of-the-line cast who doesn’t feel like they’re only in it for the big holiday movie paycheque.

“Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb” beats the original premise into submission, blowing up the idea of a secret nightlife at the museum into the best example this year of how franchise filmmaking can go horribly wrong. Like the dimming tablet that slows down the wax exhibits, this movie sucks the life out of once interesting characters, placing them in a plot that is essentially an excuse to showcase more characters (like Dan Stevens as Sir Lancelot and a surprising and rather charming cameo from a very big star) and bigger special effects than in parts one and two.

6.) Sex Tape: Any movie with the word sex in the title and Cameron Diaz in her underwear and a newly slim Jason Segel in the all-together should be a lot sexier than “Sex Tape” is. The first twenty minutes plays more like an attempt to break the world record for using the word “sex” in a movie than an actual story. They talk about sex, have sex, then talk about it some more, but rather than being racy or slap-your-thigh funny it becomes tiresome. The only word used more often is “iPad,” which is even less provocative.

At one point in the film Diaz talks about her love of porn, but adds she doesn’t watch it anymore because, “the quality of the writing has gone down hill. I like it when they really feel like they’re in love.” She might have been talking about her own movie.

7.) Sin City: A Dame to Kill For: “Sin City” A Dame to Kill For” feels like it was made by someone with an eye for the aesthetics of noir but the interests of a 14-year-old boy. It’s an exercise in style over substance that will make your corneas tingle, tickle your prurient side and provide an experience that may be memorable (especially if you are a fourteen year boy) but not particularly rewarding.

These unendingly grim crime stories aren’t so much hard-boiled as they are over-baked. Rodrigues and Miller’s outlook is as bleak as the stark black-and-white palette they use to illustrate the movie. “Death is just like life in Sin City,” they say, hammering the point home that the only relief from the ennui many of these characters live with is a bullet to the head. The characters seem to welcome it. “He’ll eat you alive,” a bartender tells Johnny about the senator. “I’m a tough chew,” he replies, playing chicken with his life.

The directors try to distract from the cynical goings on with hyper-German Expressionist cinematography and Eva Green’s wardrobe, or lack thereof, but no matter how much style or skin are exposed, “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” remains a slickly styled exercise in pointlessness.

8.) Tammy: The last time Susan Sarandon went on a cinematic road trip she was teamed with Geena Davis in a film that reinvented the buddy picture and earned praise from critics who called it a “neo-feminist road movie.”

This time out the Sarandon shares the front seat with Melissa McCarthy. Where “Thelma & Louise” learned about loyalty and sisterhood, Tammy and Pearl only pick up tips about drinking and driving, how to rob restaurants and how to destroy a jet ski.

Road movies are episodic by nature. Their stories move from place to place, from character to character, all bound by a theme. Unfortunately “Tammy” simply moves slowly from scene to scene, content to rely on McCarthy’s comedic appeal at the sacrifice of anything more than pratfalls and awkward humor.

In other words “Tammy” earns a laugh or two when McCarthy falls down, less so when she is standing upright, which is most of the movie.

9.) Transcendence: “Transcendence” asks some interesting questions. Can technology provide some sort of life after death? Does artificial intelligence offer more promise or peril? How much humanity can a computer program possess? Is “Her” a better movie about love in the computer age?

The questions are interesting and might have been thought provoking if “Transcendence” was a better movie. Director Wally Pfister (best known as Christopher Nolan’s DOP of choice) and screenwriter Jack Paglen tackle big questions head on, but in the most perplexing of ways. Weird tonal shifts from sci fi to cyber love to techno terrorism make for a drearily paced film. Add to that unclear character motivations—MILD SPOILER ALERT: exactly who’s side is Max on?—and an underdeveloped love story and you’re left with a film that brims with promise but underwhelms.

So too does Johnny Depp. You have to cut him some slack because for 90% of the film he only appears on computer screens, doing his best HAL impression, but he seems to have checked out long before his character does. Hall and Bettany do some soulful work, but are hampered by a love story that is more about code than contact.

“Transcendence” has style, and it should, Pfister (who used DOP Jess Hall on this film) is a gifted shooter who gave us one of my favorite shots of recent years—The Joker hanging out of the cop car in “The Dark Knight,” surrounded by blurred lights and city scape. Given the choice I’d choose to watch that thirty seconds again and again over spending one more minute in the lackluster world of “Transcendence.”

10.) Winter’s Tale: What is meant to be an uplifting experience about the power of love and the triumph of good over evil felt more like being strapped to a chair and force-fed all nine seasons of “Touched by an Angel.”

Based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Mark Helprin and brought to the screen by Oscar winning writer-turned-director Akiva Goldsman the story begins when Peter Lake (Colin Farrell), a turn-of-the-last century burglar, comes across the love of his life while robbing a mansion he thought was empty.

Beverly Penn (Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown Findlay) the beautiful-but-doomed daughter of a wealthy newspaper tycoon, is a precocious and philosophical young woman with just months to live. He wants to save her, but first he must save himself from demonic crime lord Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe), a brutal man who wants Lake dead. Then, in a twist suggested by the Brothers Grimm, he finds himself thrust one hundred years into the future with only the faded memory of Beverly and a white guardian angel horse as company.

As silly as the movie is, and make no mistake, this is what I like to call an S.D.M.—Silly Damn Movie—Farrell and Findlay manage to bring the romantic side of the tale alive. Their first meeting, over a cup of tea, is simple, effective and bristles with sexual tension. The love story, although a bit starry-eyed, works until the magic realism takes over and the story becomes loopier and loopier. By the time the words, “Is it possible to love someone so much they can’t die?” spill from Farrell’s lips all is lost, and that’s not even an hour into the story.

Putting aside the enchanted horses and dime store spirituality for a moment, the story often requires leaps of faith that would have even terrified Evel Knievel. This is the kind of movie where mothers willingly hand over their sick children to scruffy looking strangers on the promise of a miracle. It’s the kind of movie where people accept outlandish events with a tossed off phrase like, “How’s that even possible?” It’s the kind of sloppily plotted movie that involves a level of suspension of disbelieve so off-the-charts it’s almost in outer space.