The Movie Scab Reviews: "Bridesmaids" & "Tower Heist"
"The scab you're picking at is called execution."
--American film producer Scott Rudin.
Monkey Boy says, "Ack! Ack! Me want Blue Phillip review two funny movies from 2011! Ack! Ack!"
Monkey Boy asked me to review a couple of funny movies before 2011 passed away into forgettable, regrettable Hollywood history. Boy! I knew this was going to be hard because, golly-gosh and darn, there were so many great movie comedies made this year!
No. Wait. I kid. I joke. I jest.
Honestly, I can't think of one movie comedy that mined consistent comedy gold this year. Paul, the alien-with-stoner 'tude movie with Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Seth Rogen is the only one that I can say gave me some solid, good, but painfully inconsistent laughs. Other than that, what did Hollywood give us for comedy? The Dilemma; Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son; Hall Pass; Your Highness; Arthur; the brilliant 30 Minutes Or Less…
And you get the idea what kind of year it's been for comedy.
But when Monkey Boy asks, I have no choice but to listen, and so I held my breath and dug down deep into the comedic crap-heap that Hollywood excreted this year, digging for bright, shining comedy gold gems!
I decided to dive right in, and at that point I couldn't help but think of a dark, ham-fisted British satire called The Magic Christian starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr, made waaay back in 1970, a film so contrived and caught up in the self-importance of its time that when you watch it today all you're left with is a strong sense of embarrassment and a burning desire to hide your mother's genitalia. It was once thought of by some as, I kid you not, comedic gold--it isn't anything close to comedic gold, of course, not by a long shot, but I bring it up because of the movie's truly inspired ending. It describes what it is, exactly, that Monkey Boy had asked me to do: a large vat is filled with animal blood, urine, feces, and thousands and thousands of British pounds, and then über rich character Sir Guy Grand (Peter Sellers) offers "free money" to anyone willing to step into the pool and go under to collect the cash while the song "Come And Get It" plays over what I have to imagine must have been a rather terrible stink--subtle, clever stuff! Anyway, that's exactly what digging around through Hollywood's vat of 2011 movie comedies felt like.
Yes. I took a bath and scrubbed up when I was done.
I found two crap-gems from 2011. The first one is called Bridesmaids and the second one is called Tower Heist. There was a third, the worst of them all, called The Hangover Part II, but that one is so stinky and filthy and rotten I'm going to have to save it for later. I just can't deal with its level of mediocrity right now. And I just took a bath. So there you go.
I'll deal with Bridesmaids first.
The movie got itself a 90% on the "critical" tomato-meter at the movie website Rotten Tomatoes. What that means is, simply, that most of the critics thought it was comedy gold, and pretty smart comedy gold to boot. Critics thought the same thing about The Magic Christian back in 1970, and other than that being a reflection of our critical audience and eye today, that's all you really need to know about Bridesmaids.
But I'll say a word or two more: Kristin Wiig, Saturday Night Live alum, starred and co-wrote Bridesmaids with SNL alum Annie Mumolo, so right off the bat you know it's got to be good, right? (Remember Coneheads and It's Pat: The Movie, SNL-skit based movies? Yes! Yes! Pure comedy gold!)
Predictably, critics hailed Bridesmaids as the female and thus sentimental version of The Hangover, complete with gross-out diarrhea gags (guaranteed funny every time, made even funnier when women fart and splat and groan together), a feminine buddy wolf-pack (ala The Hangover), and authentic heartfelt moments that women understand (because this is a movie comedy written by sensitive and intelligent women).
Maybe that's why I hated it. The movie made me feel like a stupid male pig because I wasn't laughing with all the women in the audience--the over the shoulder glares, the incessant hisses through pursed lipsticked lips, and the popcorn and soda pop thrown at me made it clear that the women did not want the man there. I was not part of their wolf-pack.
But, no, that's incorrect. I know why I hated it. We've been here before, that's why: Black Swan; Due Date, et al. Unlikable, repugnant characters that hardly change or find even the most remote form of redemption are… comedy gold? That's right! You didn't know that, did you? Well, me either, but I guess Kristin Wiig and Annie Mumolo know something we don't, right? That's why they're on Saturday Night Live, for goodness sakes.
Kristin Wigg and Annie Mumolo want you to believe Bridesmaids is a happy-go-lucky bridesmaids on a pre-wedding bender movie, a wild and whacky romp about a bride and her bridesmaids the night before her wedding day, but it's really about a mean-spirited bitch that gets away with mean-spirited bitchy behavior and most of the unlikable, repugnant characters do not change and/or find some kind of redemption at the end, and that would include the main character, the bitchy bitch, a.k.a. Annie.
To be fair, Kristin Wiig's character, Annie, does change at the end of the movie in a minimalist, self-indulgent, and self-absorbed kind of way, or in other words, Annie makes a lame attempt to make up for her repugnant behavior and then everyone simply forgives her, but she doesn't assume a believable shred of accountability for her crazy, mean-spirited, messed-up bitchy behavior--which means she's still a crazy, mean-spirited, messed-up bitch that everyone tolerates for some strange reason at the end of the movie. Even with a hallow concession like that at the end, it's far too freakin' late to save the movie. Why? Because Annie is so consistently hateful, selfish, and cruel to everyone around her throughout the entire movie that I did not care whether or not she found redemption at the end. In fact, I didn’t want her to find redemption. I wanted the nice Irish cop to shoot her in the face.
And here's why: Annie made the nice Irish cop eat her crack-ass-stink sandwich and never said sorry, never owned up to her bad, repugnant behavior, which would have made me (maybe? potentially?) like her at the end (hello?)--so, yeah, either just shoot her in the face and make her go away so that I don't have to listen to her whine about how unfair life has been for poor, ugly, forgotten Annie or send her away to a mental institution where she'll get some much needed electroshock therapy. Poor, ugly, forgotten Annie? What about me, the poor guy who had to sit through this stinker with all those women hissing at me?
But Annie doesn't get sent to a mental institute and she doesn't get shot in the face by the nice Irish cop, a guy she essentially shat upon. He forgives her for some reason the writers (Wiig & Mumolo) never really make quite clear. Maybe it's a nice Irish guy thing. Maybe nice Irish guys like being shat upon by unlikable, repugnant American women. Maybe that's a big turn-on for nice Irish guys in America. But forget the nice Irish guy's problem (and the guy has got a big problem, make no mistake), Annie is so ugly-hearted and her behavior is so disingenuous at the end that I bet she couldn't find redemption in a movie made by Billy Graham! Of course, she finds redemption in the heart of the nice Irish guy, but at that point it doesn't matter anymore because he's the kind of nice Irish guy that likes to get shat upon by unlikable, repugnant American women (otherwise known as selfish bitches).
I think Kristin Wig is pretty darn talented. I think she's pretty darn funny. I think she's pretty darn hot. (Insert "male pig" here.) And I've seen her do great comedic work in movies like Ghost Town, for example. But Bridesmaids is a sellout failure, destined for Hollywood's crap-heap of excreted comedy gold.
My rating: Six Irish Carbombs with six Loaded Land Sharks at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville in Orlando, Florida after the wedding, honeymoon, and divorce.
Post Script: I find it interesting that Goldie Hawn starred in a comedy called Private Benjamin, released in 1980. Although an imperfect movie about a woman who joins the Army, it's still a consistent comedy with consistent laughs, but when I compare it to Bridesmaids the thing that strikes me is this: Goldie Hawn's character, Judy Benjamin, isn't a self centered, unlikable, repugnant human being devoid of moral character. In fact, she's the exact opposite of Annie in Bridesmaids. I like Judy Benjamin and that's why she makes me laugh. I laugh with her. I want her to find change and redemption at the end and I hope she does--no guarantee that she will, but I hope it for her anyway. I can't say that I wanted any of that for Annie in Bridesmaids. I just wanted the nice Irish cop to shoot her in the face.
Tower Heist: Again, the oh-so-reliable Rotten Tomatoes tomato-meter gave this fine example of crap-filled mediocrity 68%, considered "fresh" and funny, meaning a good amount of our professional critical audience thought this movie was funny and entertaining enough to actually put down serious cash money--that's their advice anyway, go ahead and pay for this crappy thing, it's worth it! (They said similar things about The Magic Christian.)
Let me tell you now: this is not a funny movie.
But, to be honest, I actually had some hope for Tower Heist (silly boy, ack, ack! Monkey Boy says) because of the cast (Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy, Casey Affleck, Alan Alda, Gabourey Sidibe), but was I surprised when it turned into another Hollywood load to mediocrity? Nope.
There's nothing fresh here, and I don't care what Rotten Tomatoes' tomato-meter tells you! Suffice it to say, the entire comedic vehicle is badly executed (ala Scott Rudin), and the story is older and moldier than a pound of ten year old Gorgonzola stored in Gabourey Sidibe's fatty dangling armpits--and don't get on me because that's a mean fat person joke. The self same movie I'm discussing, Tower Heist, dropped a number of god-awful and unsuccessful fat jokes and all of them were aimed directly at Gabourey Sidibe--from cake crumbs on her lips and face to an elephant-in-the-room joke that fell so flat and hard it shook the entire movie theatre. In fact, the fat jokes are so unsuccessful they come across as nothing but mean, but Ben Stiller, Eddie Murphy and all the rest didn't seem to mind. Neither did Gabourey Sidibe. In her defense, I have to argue that the check had to be large enough to allow her to be the brunt of every unfunny, unsuccessful, plain old mean fat joke in the movie.
One thing did surprise me, however: the plot gets absolutely lost and muddled, so that when the movie ended I thought I stepped out of the theatre in my sleep and walked into a different theatre showing a different movie. Why? Eddie Murphy abandons the thieves (for a better, more well executed heist thriller, I bet) and Ben Stiller gets sent to prison, innocent of all charges, where he's serial raped for many years by "The Three Sisters", a notorious serial raping Russian gang made up of three notorious serial raping Russian sisters, and then, exhausted and desperate finally tunnels his way through the cement walls of the prison with one of the Sister's battery operated dildos and crawls out the raw sewage drainpipe to freedom, only to find that über rich character Sir Guy Grand from The Magic Christian (played by Peter Sellers) is there offering him "free money" if he's willing to step into a pool filled with animal blood, urine, feces, and thousands and thousands of British pounds, and of course Ben Stiller has no problem doing that because he agreed to make Tower Heist in the first place. Call it The Tower Heist Redemption.
Now. I might have stayed in the same theatre for that movie.
My rating: An evening with you, Ben Stiller, and Eddie Murphy watching their movies (the ones that they think mattered), while imbibing six delicious Long Island Ice Teas back to back, followed by numerous Goldschläger shots (drink the gold flakes!) and a quick dip in The Magic Christian vat of raw sewage.
Can't wait to see what Hollywood and 2012 are going to bring us!