Overlong and clichéd underdog musical comedy has a few bright spots, generally thanks to infectious A Capella, but stumbles on the back of an unfocused script and too many clunky jokes. Director Jason Moore at times threatens to imbue the picture with some self-aware intelligence, but ultimately gets lost in a mire of fat, barf and PG-sex gags. The dramatic angles don't really work that well either, the relationship between Anna Kendrick and the world's best Dane Cook impressionist failing to ignite many sparks or even marginal interest. Also, if this is the film that turns Rebel Wilson into a comedy superstar, I officially declare now that I don't get it.
Sightseers (2012) – C
Professionally put together on a threadbare budget, "Sightseers" stumbles due to a lack of over-arching purpose. It's entertaining on the back of intelligent dialogue and catchy musical touches, but the picture runs out of steam before the halfway point, never really moving beyond the "Badlands" in Yorkshire joke that dominated its pre-release identity. Even at a modest 90 minutes it feels too long, although the performances help by plastering the picture with a believably human touch. As my first exposure to the much heralded British talent Ben Wheatley, I must confess "Sightseers"' lack of depth and thematic ugliness left me deflated.
Martin (1978) – A-
Incredibly astute twist on the vampire myth, ditching most of the frilly, campy stuff in favour of a more honest and focused approach. It follows a vampire trapped in a teenager's body, as he combats the superstitions of his uncle and comes to terms with his blood-lust and socially alienating condition. It's very stylish and benefits from a wealth of genre call-backs, with a thematic intelligence that parallels adolescence and infertility (among other things) against the vampire condition. Eerie and very involving, a few performances are left a little wanting, but other than that this is sterling genre film-making.
The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (2011) – C+
Zippy documentary is fun to watch and starts strongly, but a lack of focus in the latter half robs it of true insight. Spurlock is a great host, but maybe somebody with a more probing mind and tighter attention span should direct, limiting him to using his admitted charisma for on-camera shtick. Affable and digestible, but there's a more cutting work to be made on the topic of product placement than this smiley yet superficial piece.
Punch-Drunk Love (2002) – AAbsurd and lovable in equal measure, this quirky rom-com has feeling and heart to spare, with a pair of adorable performances courtesy of Adam Sandler and Emily Watson. Being a Paul Thomas Anderson film, "Punch-Drunk Love" has a very unique aesthetic, hypnotic visuals and a gorgeous soundtrack adding value to this already fantastic tribute to love's enduring power. Sandler in particular has rarely been better.
Capsule Reviews by Daniel Kelly, 2013