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The Way Way Back

MV5BNTU5ODk5NDg0Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNzQwMjI1OQ@@._V1_SX214_Liam James, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Allison Janney, Maya Rudolph, AnnaSophia Robb, Amanda Peet, Rob Corddry

Young Duncan is on holidays with his mother, his mother’s boyfriend, and the boyfriend’s teenage daughter. But he’s not happy – he’s 14, awkward, unsure about his mother’s relationship, and a bit lost overall.

He meets Owen, played by Rockwell, at the local water park. Owen gives Duncan a summer job, recognising a kid who needs to come out of his shell. He teaches Duncan that life isn’t always what you want it to be, you have to make your own happiness. The friendship they form is exactly what Duncan desperately needs.

This is a terrific coming of age film, and a film about all sorts of relationships. Maya Rudolph is a lovely actor, and she and Allison Janney provide a lot of the humour along with Rockwell.

The Way Way Back is definitely a film worth watching more than once. It rolls along at a great pace, has a range of interesting characters, makes you laugh, and makes you want to see what happens after it’s finished. Make sure you put it on your list.


Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

MV5BMTk4MDQ1NzE3N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjA0MDkzNw@@._V1_SX214_Keira Knightley, Steve Carell

An astroid is set to destroy earth in three weeks. People leave their homes to start pilgrimages, others try something new, some abandon reason, until eventually chaos takes over New York city. Dodge (played by Carell) meets a woman in his building and together they escape the rioting. Dodge sets out to find his high school girlfriend, and he agrees to help Penny (Knightley) get a flight home to England along the way. They have adventures and new experiences, and eventually fall in love.

This film is billed as a romantic drama. I think, however, that with Carell in top spot, it is also a romantic comedy. It contains a lot of rom com elements, like boy meets girl etc, and some subtle comic relief with the rather dry Carell.

People talk about this being an armageddon movie, but I think it is slightly tongue in cheek about the end of the world – it is a backdrop for the romance, for the exploration of human relationships.

I’m not a huge fan of Keira Knightley in rom coms, (other than Bend it Like Beckham) much preferring her in period films, actions and drama. In fact, she annoyed me in Love Actually and I’m glad she’s not been in a rom com since then.

Nevertheless, this is a pretty good film – there are funny moments, and touching moments. It has a lot of heart, and intimate detail given to characters. Worth a watch.

Hope Springs

MV5BMjIxODY2OTg2N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODAyODg5Nw@@._V1_SY317_CR2,0,214,317_Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, Steve Carell

Arnold and Kay are a stuck-in-a-rut couple who have been married for 31 years. They have an empty nest and separate bedrooms and Kay is very lonely. She insists that Arnold accompany her to intensive couples counselling with the famous Doctor Feld (Carell) to try and rebuild their relationship.

Arnold seems to think being married for 31 years is enough in itself to have a successful relationship – but it clearly isn’t. They don’t communicate, touch or be intimate. Will the doctor be able to rebuild what they had, or is it time to walk away?

I thought this film would be a lot funnier. Carell, oddly enough, hasn’t been cast as the funny man and doesn’t provide the comic relief. He is gentle and calming and serious. But despite this, he is mildly amusing anyway.

Streep and Jones were terrific and the film was quite moving. I enjoy seeing Streep as a mature woman working her way through relationship issues (see It’s Complicated), and indeed, this film will appeal to the more mature amongst us.

Crazy Stupid Love

Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone

Cal (Carell) and Emily (Moore) have been married for 25 years. Emily asks for a divorce, revealing that she’s been unfaithful – something Cal didn’t expect to hear. Unable to work out how to be successfully single, Cal meets Jacob (Gosling) in a bar. Jacob takes him under his wing and shows Cal how to pick up chicks. Jacob is a top gun lothario and is willing to share his secrets. Cal becomes a great student reclaiming his lost manhood.

Eventually, however, Jacob meets the girl that makes him want to change his ways (Hannah, played by Stone), leaving Cal to negotiate the womanising scene solo. Typically it all falls apart as true love dominates over casual sex.

I love Emma Stone – she and Julianne Moore made this movie likeable. There is an element of the bromance in this flick as Cal and Jacob develop a relationship. There are love interests all over the shop which are supposed to tie in together, but the major criticism of this movie is that they didn’t fit together smoothly. Apart from that, there is a lot of humour and great ‘bit’ parts. This is definitely one of the better romantic comedies of 2011.

Get Smart

Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway

This movie is, of course, the modern version of the Sixties TV show of the same name. It was one of my favorite shows as a kid. All the girls loved to watch 99 – “Oh Max!”.

Carell plays Maxwell Smart, Agent 86. Hathaway is 99. We all know the story – they work for US organisation Control whose main aim is to defeat KAOS (usually representing Russia and/or Eastern Europe). Without getting into a socio-political analysis, let’s just say it’s all about good versus evil. And good, the US, wins out in the end.

This film is a classic rom com. Carell effortlessly provides the comedy. He is perfect for this role and is very similar to the original Agent 86. A romance develops between 86 and 99, typically after they start out disliking each other.

For some reason this film wasn’t a huge hit. I didn’t think it was too bad, there are some really funny bits that make you laugh out loud, and they use some of the old lines from the TV series. It’s entertaining and worth a watch, especially for the sake of sentimentality.

Date Night

Steve Carell, Tina Fey

Carell and Fey are a husband and wife team, Phil and Claire Foster, with two kids. They both work, are tired, and are beginning to think that their relationship might need a bit of spicing up, even if they can’t admit it to each other.

So they have a “date night” to really spice up all date nights. Claire and Phil wanted the night to be different and it was – they inadvertently become embroiled in an adventure involving thugs, guns, car chases, strip clubs, and dirty cops. They behave just as your everyday Joe would behave in their situation – they panic, they vomit, they cry, they nearly fall apart. But then they get it together and take control.

When they become a team they manage to beat the baddies. And it’s not only because they know each other so well, but because they really like each other.

This is such a cleverly put together movie. Carell and Fey are so effortlessly funny. It’s definitely a ‘laugh out loud’ flick and one you have to watch more than once. In fact, this is one of the best films I’ve seen, and one of my all time favourites.


The 40 Year-Old Virgin

Steve Carrell, Catherine Keener, Paul Rudd

Carrell plays Andy, who as the film’s name suggests, is a 40 year-old virgin. He wasn’t particularly interested in changing his situation. But his workmates at the electronics store found out about him being a virgin and decided to take it upon themselves to help him.

Andy does a better job at meeting a woman without the help of his workmates, but he does need them to give him a kick start. He meets Trish (Keener) who helps him better express himself. They don’t seem well suited, but love is a funny thing – especially in Hollywood.

There are some extremely funny scenes because this is Steve Carrell flick. He doesn’t have too many flops under his belt does he? And one of his buddies is Paul Rudd so when they’re hanging out, things always go wrong. There is one particularly unforgettable scene involving hot wax!

Another smoochy ending for this rom com (surprise surprise), but it’s cute and worth watching.

Dan in Real Life

Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, Dane Cook, Emily Blunt

Carell plays Dan, a single dad bringing up three girls, who writes an advice column on relationships in the newspaper.  It’s a film about family more so than ‘boy meets girl’. However boy does meet girl, and it happens that the girl Dan meets is his brother’s new girlfriend. Dan’s whole extended family gets together for the holidays at the parents’ house (mum is played by Dianne Wiest) where lots of relationship issues are played out.

A support role is given to Emily Blunt – this is quite early in her career, and she is terrific even then. Everyone in the family totally loves Marie (played by Binoche), and Dan seems to be the underdog. Poor old Dan. I really think he cops a lot of flack, especially from his teenage daughters. But he survives, and there are smooches all round at the end of the film.  This is a lovely movie, where Carell is not so much funny/ridiculous but funny/likable.

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