Category Archives: Movie Reviews

Film Review: Project Nim

What would happen if you allowed some people to play god?  If you think anything about it would work out well, you’re wrong.

Project Nim is the heartbreaking and yet infuriating story of Nim Chimpsky, a chimpanzee taken from his mother at only 2 weeks old and raised as a human child.  All in the name of a scientific experiment to supposedly discover if apes could develop linguistic skills, through the use of sign language, to communicate fully with humans.

Sound a bit bizarre? Surreal? Like a first draft of the recent Rise of the Planet of the Apes movie?  This actually happened and this is a documentary about it.

Herbert S. Terrace is the catalyst for this saddening story.  He somehow got the funding to conduct this experiment on behalf of Columbia University and he recruited a raft of people who would be part of Nim’s life until the experiment ceased.

Told using talking heads, home movie footage and photos with minimal reconstructions, the documentary follows Nim’s life from the point his mother is drugged so he can be taken away in the early 1970’s through to his death, some 26 years later.

It’s the sort of story that makes you question mankind’s own abilities to be humane and what humane actually means.  This abhorrent and callous experiment as told by those involved with seemingly clear conscience almost defies belief were it not for the myriad of real footage and testimony in this film.

The film has a sense of objectivity about it, in that the talking heads seem to be naturally telling their tales and the footage is shown as matter of fact rather than with a particular slant or style.  To be fair to those giving testimony, the genuinely seem to be telling it like it was, as uncomfortable as that may be.

The film shies away from sensationalism – it could have easily become judgemental and gone for the shock factor.  After all it is a sensational story.  But, then perhaps those involved would not have been so keen to recall their time with Nim.

Despite the fact Nim does not, obviously, get his say, as the film develops, so does the viewers’ perception of Nim’s character.  I, personally, got a real sense of the confusion he must have felt at all that conflicts between what he was conditioned to do and what his natural instincts were.  He was essentially, as the title suggests a project: not a pet, not a companion, certainly not a human, but unfortunately barely an ape either.

A couple of people do come out with some credit, or at least redemption: a guy who worked at an animal experimentation lab who went on to rescue as many apes as he could when the lab closed and Bob, the guy who seems to be one of the driving forces behind this film being made who seemed to truly believe Nim was his companion: the scene where he is reunited with Nim will test even the steeliest resolve.

Herbert – the guy who started it all – and his cronies don’t come across very well, other than to admire them for their honesty at least.  There is an implied undercurrent of seediness about him and his cohorts with much made of hippy values and pot smoking and sexual freedom…none of which should a child be subjected to (if Nim were to be raised as such), but for some reason because Nim is an ape and this is an experiment, it’s ok.

It’s hardly surprising that the wheels come off the experiment more than once although bizarrely it is heartbreaking to see the project end.  In spite of everything, this experiment was all that Nim knew and removing him from it does feel sad because what will then become of Nim?  This, for me, draws massive parallels with how a child in an unsafe family environment might feel when taken out of that environment: it’s all they know and understand, so what will become of them?

The film works on many levels and had a real impact on me – I think this will stay with me for a long time and whilst not something I would call entertainment, I do feel the subject matter, more than the film, has an important place in history.

My Rating: 4/5

Film Review: Snowtown

This film is based on the true story of the infamous Snowtown “Bodies in Barrels” murders in Southern Australia during the 1990’s.

Daniel Henshall’s mesmerizing performance as John Bunting; the vigilante/serial killer and ring leader of the 4 people eventually convicted is what holds this film together.  Although Henshall seems to have little film acting experience (according to imdb) and certainly hasn’t had to carry a film before, he is absolutely electrifying and this should certainly propel him onto great things and more prominent roles.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he follows Joel Edgerton into mainstream American cinema.

I can’t recall the “Bodies in Barrels” murders making many headlines over here, unlike the “Backpacker Murders” which were around the same time and I remember distinctly.  But the “Bodies in Barrels” murders are equally horrific and Bunting is recognised as one of Australia’s most prolific and brutal serial killers.

“Bodies in Barrels” comes from one of the storage methods that Bunting and his accomplices used: the bodies were placed in large barrels and covered with hydrochloric acid which, rather than dissolve the victims as they had hoped, actually mummified them.

Bunting was clearly the controlling leader of this small band of murderers.  He had already coerced Robert Joe Wagner into becoming his accomplice and that relationship is already established when this film commences.  Instead the film focuses on Bunting’s relationship and coercion of Jamie Vlassakis into their group.  The fourth member convicted, Mark Haydon, is a peripheral figure in the film which is most likely due to the fact that he was convicted of helping to move the bodies rather than taking part in the murders.

Jamie lives in abject poverty with his mum and 3 brothers.  Jamie and his 2 younger brothers are being abused by a family friend/neighbour and when this comes to light Bunting and Wagner turn up to harass the neighbour until he moves.  From this point on Bunting develops his relationship with the family and begins to focus on Jamie whom he can control and convince to be a part of his vigilante movement.

Lucas Pittaway also gives a strong performance as Jamie – there is one scene in particular where Jamie waits in one room while a murder takes place in the bathroom; the camera lingers on Jamie while we hear what is going on in the bathroom – he is a picture of confusion, fear and despair.

I found the direction of the film from Justin Kurzel to be a little disjointed.  It looks as though real poverty stricken locations are used that give it authenticity and also a documentary sense, especially as most camera shots have a hand held feel.  The film is also gritty and brutally violent, both implied and explicit which makes it quite a disturbing piece to watch.

However, my main concern with the direction, and this is where I feel it becomes disjointed, is the lingering shots of locations and close ups of insignificant objects that seems to have become a standard cliché used in many low budget and indie films.  So much so that it feels like a gimmick and, to me, means the film loses any opportunity it had to have a unique style.

Given Henshall’s outstanding performance where he treads a fine balance between jovial and frighteningly psychotic – reminding me much of Paddy Considine in A Room for Romeo Brass – I do feel he was deserving of a more complete vision for the film as a whole.

Aside from Henshall, the film’s main strength is that it is not a police procedural or a standard serial killer slasher: instead, the focus seems to be more on family and the roles within it.  Because as Bunting charms his way into the family he begins to assume the father’s role, not dissimilarly, uncomfortably, to the family friend/neighbour at the beginning of the film.

It’s not an easy film to watch, the subject matter ensures that, but for Henshall’s performance alone it is compelling viewing.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Film Review: Safe House

Director: Daniel Espinosa

Stars: Denzel Washington, Ryan Reynolds

This is an explosive action/thriller that keeps you hooked from beginning to end.

Denzel Washington rarely puts a foot wrong with his film choices and here, also as Exec Producer, he turns in another superb performance.

He’s Tobin Frost: a famously rogue ex-CIA agent who now sells secrets to the highest bidder and spends the rest of his time evading capture.  He’s renowned for his record in the CIA as master interrogator with his uncanny ability to get inside people’s heads.  He’s been there, done it and got the cynicism to prove it.  This time Frost has the mother load: a file so full of secrets that could blow almost every secret service corruption and double-crossing across the globe wide open.  It’s valuable enough to sell for a high price and it’s valuable enough to be killed for to prevent it getting out.

Ryan Reynolds is Matt Weston, a guy at the other end of the espionage career spectrum: younger, eager and innocent. He’s on duty at the eponymous safe house in Cape Town, South Africa.  He spends his evening with his girlfriend and his long lonely days in the safe house dreaming of his chance to get a “proper” post elsewhere.

Following Frost’s surrender to the US consulate in Cape Town in an effort to evade being killed, he’s take to Weston’s safe house and he soon finds himself neck deep in CIA action.  Apparently the guys that want that file out of circulation don’t give up so easily and there’s no doubt that there is a mole in the CIA to contend with too.

It all makes for a great chase movie.  There are times when some astonishing leaps of logic and detection are made, but in an action film such as this you have to let it slide.  It’s pretty much a rollercoaster of a movie with terse interactions between the main protagonists punctuated with adrenalin fuelled actions sequences.  It almost makes for a buddy movie too, but with a little more than the usual “these 2 guys hate each other, but have to work together” theme.  They have no reason to hate each other; they’re doing their chosen respective jobs.  Instead, cleverly, the scriptwriter David Guggenheim (with his first major movie script) uses the fact that Washington’s character too started out as a safe house operative and clearly sees much of himself in Reynolds idealistic young man.  Washington is such a good actor: at times he subtly eyes Reynolds with the look of a man looking at himself at a younger age and contemplating the choices he made to get him here…all in a look, a nuance weighted enough to make an impact without turning into scenery chewing overacting.

Reynolds too shows his chops as a leading man and for that too we must give credit to the scriptwriter and the director: the script calls for his character to react and largely be out of his depth in a way that makes the audience wonder just what he might decide to do next, whereas a hardened action man movie would clearly map out where the film is going.  The director, Daniel Espanosa, also does not make much of Reynolds’ movie star looks.  No lingering shots or needless shirtless scenes, instead Reynolds is bloody, dirty and sweaty for much of the film and in a state of near collapse and panic.

The action, by and large, is shot to give a sense of realism and I believe these stunts really did take place, as opposed to green screen or CGI, and Reynolds appears to be involved almost throughout, especially in some internal car shots that reminded me a little of McQueen in Bullitt.  There are also some fantastic moments where the action suddenly and very loudly kicks off which not only grabs your attention but echoes the feelings of the two men in that they don’t seem to be able to rest for a second.

The crux of the movie is the relationship between the two, but the file plot and the CIA mole, although a little clumsily handled, are conduits that drive the men together and keep them in each other’s company.  Washington and Reynolds bounce of each other in their scenes, of which I would have loved to have seen more, as both characters get under the skin of the other whether intentionally or not: clearly Washington as Frost wants to get inside Reynolds’ Weston’s head in order to manipulate him and his own escape, but he doesn’t count on Weston getting under his own skin by being so reminiscent of him in his younger days.  In terms of getting the most emotional connection from short scenes, this is an acting master class that could be seen as a metaphor for their own Hollywood career trajectories: Washington has done it all and Reynolds is eager to prove he has what it takes to be more than a Hollywood hunk.  From this, and other interesting career choices such as Buried, Reynolds clearly does have what it takes to be closer to Washington in terms of acting esteem than the Matthew McConaughey end of the spectrum.

In the wrong hands it could have turned into just another 16 Blocks (not a bad movie, but hardly one that grips you) and instead this gives you a great 1 hr 55 minutess of intense thrills and spills.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Perhaps saturation point has been reached: I’ve read the book (and its sequels) and seen the Swedish movies (and its sequels) and I very much enjoyed them.  Although I did think the Swedish movies were a little inconsistent, perhaps I was more forgiving of them because they were low budget Swedish productions and not “Hollywood”.

It’s easy to become a bit snobbish about remakes and I’m certainly no exception.  It’s also easy and perhaps a little lazy to think that the only reason a remake is made is to somehow dumb down the original, particularly when the remake is one that turns a foreign language movie into an English speaking version: as if people really will not consider watching a film that has subtitles: perhaps they do?!

I had a lazily snobbish attitude when I heard that a US remake of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was going into production.  It was tempered by the attachment of David Fincher as Director and Daniel Craig as, in my mind, a much more suitable Blomkvist.  The stills showing Rooney Mara, in an unenviable position of trying to fill Noomi Rapace’s shoes, as Lisbeth Salander added intrigue.  And the excellent posters and the trailer (although almost showing the whole movie condensed into 2 raucous minutes) and the Trent Reznor/Karen O re-working of Led Zeppelin’s Immigrant Song made me start to believe this could actually surpass the Swedish version.

I considered that although the film may not hold as much suspense for me, it was almost guaranteed to be a technically better made movie that would look all of its alleged $90 million budget.  Alas, although perhaps technically better the experience left me cold.

The first thing that struck me as a little odd was the opening titles which actually turned out to be the most energetic and adrenalin fuelled part of the whole movie.  Unfortunately, after that high-octane beginning the movie developed into a slow paced, uninvolving dirge with little to nothing going for it.

The movie remained set in Sweden, but the random use of accents by the actors became a massive distraction.  Some actors appeared to be attempting Scandinavian accents (some more successful than others) whilst others didn’t.  The “random acts of Swedish” even extended to written word whereby some newspapers were in Swedish, yet Blomkvist’s post-it notes weren’t and there were other inconsistencies.  I couldn’t help but think that had they relocated the whole story to the US and done away with this nonsense it might have held up better.

The lethargic pace is matched by a lethargic central performance from Daniel Craig.  Although, to me, he represents a truer vision of how I imagined Blomkvist to be in the books (one of the Swedish movie version major downfalls), he really phoned in this performance: unless his intention was to show Blomkvist as a bit bored by the whole thing.  It ruined any chemistry there may have been between Blomkvist and Salander and I really feel for Rooney Mara, as she seemed to be the only one immersed in her role and she deserved better than this.  Only Mara comes out with any credit and, unfortunately for her, Rapace is so identifiable with the role Mara may not get the credit she deserves (although I see now she has been nominated for a Golden Globe).

There was no suspense and no identification with the process of investigation that, even when already knowing the twists and turns, the Swedish version did so well.

Somehow Fincher, scriptwriter Steven Zaillian and a potentially impressive ensemble cast managed to turn one of the most successful and critically acclaimed novels in recent history into an overlong bore.

And, of course, there are two more yet to come…

My Rating: 1/5

The Twelve Films of Christmas

In the same way that Lords ‘a’ leaping and Maids ‘a’ milking seem a bit random for a Christmas song, I’m presenting 12 films for Christmas on the basis that they have the required number in the title and not necessarily anything to do with Christmas.

The ground rules are:

·         No numbered sequels or parts, e.g. Toy Story 3, Godfather Part 2

·         No multiple numbers, e.g. 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3.

I’m doing this all of the top of my head, so please feel free to point out the obvious ones I am bound to miss!

On the first day of Christmas…One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Had to bend the rules slightly straight away, as the song doesn’t explicitly say “one partridge”, but it has the number one, a bird and a nest that I would imagine would be in a tree, so that’s good enough for me!

The central performance of Jack Nicholson rightly takes most of the attention (supposedly James Caan, Gene Hackman and Marlon Brando turned the part down before it reached Nicholson), but he is more than ably supported by a strong ensemble cast featuring Christopher Lloyd, Danny DeVito, Brad Dourif as the heartbreaking Billy Bibbit and a career high performance from Louise Fletcher.  It won 5 Oscars including Best Picture and Best Actor & Actress for Nicholson and Fletcher respectively.

Honourable Mentions: Air Force One, One Hour Photo, Mesrine: Public Enemy #1, One Day, One of our Dinosaurs is Missing

On the second day of Christmas…Two Mules for Sister Sara

Clint Eastwood parodies his “Man with No Name” image in a surprisingly violent comedy action film.  He plays a sort of secret agent in the wild west who stumbles across a nun, Sister Sara (Shirley MacLaine) being attacked.  After rescuing her he finds that she could also help him with his mission.  I remember being bitterly disappointed with the comedic aspects of this film, as I really just wanted another gritty Eastwood western.  Originally it was seen as a vehicle for Eastwood and Elizabeth Taylor, but the budget would not stretch to Taylor’s salary.  It was directed by Don Siegel with whom Eastwood worked on many films (and dedicated Unforgiven to Siegel and Sergio Leone) and had an original story by Budd Boetticher who himself made some excellent westerns with Randolph Scott.

Honourable Mentions: Lock, Stock and 2 Smoking Barrels, The Magnificent Two, Two Lane Blacktop, Two Way Stretch, The thing with 2 heads, Two Moon Junction (for those of us who remember a bootleg VHS copy doing the rounds at school!)

On the third day of Christmas…3 Amigos!

Wow, having seen this in the last year I realise how my sense of humour has moved on a bit!  Steve Martin, Chevy Chase and Martin Short are the eponymous Amigos who perform in movies at the turn of the century.  In a twist on the Magnificent Seven, a Mexican town under siege by bandits sees the movies and thinking it real hire the Amigos who, in turn, think it must be a staged public appearance.  Hilarity ensues.  Nostalgia makes it something worth watching for me and who can forget doing the “Amigo Salute”?

Honourable Mentions: 3 Fugitives, 3 Godfathers, 3 Musketeers, 3 Men and a baby/little lady, Saturn 3, 3 Coins in the Fountain

On the fourth day of Christmas…Four Lions

Should I be laughing at this?  Four Lions rides dangerously close to, and occasionally grinds through, the knuckle in its comedic depiction of suicide bombers in England.  Written and directed by Chris Morris (Brass Eye) the film has plenty of laughs and also takes the suicide bomber/terrorist cell and twists it into an absurd bunch of buffoons.  Fans of Fonejacker get to see what the Fonejacker really looks like: Kayvan Novak as Waj.

Honourable Mentions: 4 Weddings and a Funeral, Fantastic 4, I am Number 4, 4 Brothers, 4 Rooms. The 4 Feathers

On the fifth day of Christmas…Five Easy Pieces

Its Jack Nicholson again, this time as Bobby Dupea, a classical pianist shunning his privileged background and living as a blue collar working man.  Disenchanted throughout, this film delves into Dupea’s life and soul and finds a tormented character who just may never find happiness.  Nicholson is superb and reveals Bobby’s tortured soul when delivering the line “I move around a lot, not because I’m looking for anything really, but ’cause I’m getting away from things that get bad if I stay.”

Honourable mentions: Slaughterhouse 5, Come back to the 5 and dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean,5 Children and It, Full Fathom 5

On the Sixth day of Christmas…Six Degrees of Separation

Having discarded D-Day 6th of June and the Sixth Sense, I fell back on this film that pretty much introduced Will Smith as an actor that could do more than wear his cap sideways and gurn at the camera a la the Fresh prince.  Smith proved he had the chops to do serious films and look at him now – I’m not keen on him creating a Smith entertainment dynasty by forcing his offspring unto the world (if the Day the Earth stood still is anything to go by, I think Willow will have a longer career than Jayden).

Honourable Mentions: With 6 you get egg roll, Crazy Six (Rob Lowe, Mario Van Peebles, Ice-T and Burt Reynolds?!!), Adam at 6am.

On the seventh day of Christmas…The Magnificent Seven

Many to choose from here, but I love the Magnificent Seven.  Although McQueen pretty much steals the film from under the nose of Yul Brynner, the entire cast (even the miscast Horst Bucholz) make the film so great.  Legend has it that all of the actors were so young and hungry for success that they would do all they could to upstage the others.  McQueen was the master of making movements and faces even whilst other actors had lines, as he knew the viewers eye would be drawn to him.  Brynner noticed this and had to resort to taking off his hat when sharing scenes with McQueen as he knew the viewer would be drawn to his bald head instead!

Honourable Mentions: Seven, 7 Pounds, 7 Years in Tibet, 7 Samurai (on which the Magnificent Seven is based), Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The Seven Year Itch, Robin and the Seven Hoods, Seven Men from Now, The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, The 7 Ups  and numerous Magnificent Seven sequels.

On the eighth day of Christmas…8MM

Back in the days when Nicholas Cage could act rather than overact in hair-pieces, this little gem of a movie from Joel Schumacher was very good.  It delves into the seedy underworld of LA torture-pkkn as part of a classic detective story.  If you like this film watch Paul Schrader’s Hardcore.

Honourable Mentions: Butterfield 8, Jennifer 8, 8 Men Out, 8 Mile

On the ninth day of Christmas…District 9

Neill Blomkamp’s superb sci-fi film not only has a great story with lots of political undertones relevant today it also has a fantastic central performance from Sharlto Copley who went on to play Murdoch in the A-Team movie.  He will however, be working with Blomkamp again on another sci-fi film in the near future currently called Elysium.  See my full review of District 9 here.

Honourable Mentions: Nine, The Whole 9 yards, 9 Queens, 9 Songs

On the tenth day of Christmas…The Ten Commandments

Perhaps not as obvious a choice as 10 (Dudley Moore, Bo Derek), but it links (sort of) to the whole Christmas thing.  Charlton Heston is Moses in the huge epic.  Legendary film director Cecille B. DeMille was effectively remaking his own film from 1923.  This version was massive box office hit yet only won one Oscar (Visual Effects) despite being nominated in several categories: It lost out on the best picture Oscar to Around the World in 80 Days.

Honourable Mentions: 10, Starter for 10, Force 10 from Naverone, Agatha Christie’s 10 little Indians, Ten Canoes

On the eleventh day of Christmas…Ocean’s Eleven

Not the slick heist movie from Steven Soderbergh, the rambling shambles of a heist movie created solely for Sinatra and his Rat Pack to spend time in and get paid for being in Las Vegas.  The film is ok, but doesn’t capture the chemistry the Rat Pack shared in their on stage performances during the same period.  But the key players, Sinatra, Martin, Davis Jnr and even Lawford and Bishop exude cool and the nonchalance of a group of middle aged men who could fulfil every fantasy they had.  Living the dream!

Honourable Mentions: Ocean’s Eleven (Soderbergh) – why aren’t there more films with 11 in the title?!

On the 12th day of Christmas…12 Angry Men

The 1957 version directed by Sidney Lumet and featuring Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Martin Balsam, Ed Begley and the rest of the 12 is one of the most powerful and thought provoking films you could ever see.  The ensemble cast entombed in the deliberating room until they can reach a verdict bounce of each other superbly.  This is partly down to the performances and Lumet’s direction, but mostly down to Reginald Rose’s excellent script – a script that stands up so well even a TV movie remake with George C. Scott and Jack Lemmon is gripping.  In fact the 1957 version was based upon a TV movie version as part of Studio One Hollywood some 3 years previous.

Honourable Mentions: Twelve Monkeys, Ocean’s Twelve, The 12 Chairs,

ALL TOGETHER NOW:

On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me 12 Angry Men, Ocean’s 11, The Ten Commandments, District 9, 8MM, The Magnificent 7, Six Degrees of Separation, FIVE EASY PIECES!! 4 Lions, 3 Amigos, 2 Mules for Sister Sara and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest…well, it almost works?!

Film Review: We Need to Talk About Kevin

 Based upon the best selling novel by Lionel Shriver We Need To Talk About Kevin follows Eva (a powerhouse performance from Tilda Swinton) as she deals with the fact that her son, the eponymous Kevin, is responsible for a High School massacre.

 

I read the book over a year ago and I was very intrigued to see how the page would become the screen. The book is written as a series of letters which gives it a superb narrative gimmick to gradually reveal the extent of Kevin’s actions and the affects on Eva and the rest of the family. Having read an interview with Tilda Swinton, I had already seen that they had discarded trying to present the letters on screen, so just how would writer/director Lynne Ramsay handle it?

 

Eva is presented as almost otherworldly: she exists in a dreamlike state of shock, detached to a degree, but heavily affected, by all around her. As though she stands in the eye of a storm. Where the book utilises letters to get inside Eva’s head, the film uses flashbacks, a disjointed chronological narrative and a magnificent performance from Swinton to bring the viewer into her world.

 

Swinton’s performance is aided by good supporting work from John C Reilly as her hapless husband and the young actors that play Kevin. Both Jasper Newell (Kevin in childhood) and Ezra Miller exude utter contempt in a role that could so easily become a pantomime villain.

 

The flashbacks to young Kevin’s formative years contain more humour than I remember in the book to the point where they almost seem like an extreme Dennis the Menace. There is also some humour when Kevin becomes an adolescent, but that soon gives way to his cold-blooded side.

 

Much emphasis is also made on Eva and Kevin’s similarities: they both seem detached from the real world and see day to day life and happiness as mundane. It is perhaps these similarities that make Eva’s life such a living hell as she understands only too well that the apple has not fallen far from the tree.

 

I think it certainly helped me to have read the book first, but I don’t believe it is a pre-requisite for enjoying it.

 

My Rating: 4/5

Film Review:Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Roderick Rules

I’m 35.  This was not what I was expecting.  From the title you could be led to believe that this is the video diary of some kid who works at the fast food place where you get real crockery and cutlery.  Although I am detached from the world of children’s literature, I am savvy enough to know that this is the second movie based upon the hugely successful series of books.

I had not seen the first movie, so I was unsure whether I would be able to get into this one.  Being 25 years over the target audience age, I was also unsure whether I would like this at all.

I need not be concerned with either worries.  The movie starts with an introduction to the main characters that morphs the book illustrations into their human movie form.  The “wimpy kid” is Greg Heffley, the middle child of 3 boys and the son of eccentric mum and dependable dad.  The whole world seems to be against him and, if his diary is anything to go by, it is!

From the initial introduction the film lurches from one excruciatingly humiliating moment to another all held together with a thin thread of a plot about Greg’s long running feud with older brother Roderick.

Everyone in it does a good job of bringing the characters to life.  Steve Zahn plays the dad in a somewhat surprising casting.  My only criticism was the kid playing Rowley (Robert Capron) who looked uneasy in many of the scenes he was in.  It was as though he was forcefully acting, rather than living the moment.  A hefty criticism for a lightweight movie, but that part would have been far more entertaining had it had an actor with more charisma and (dare I say it?) talent, think Jeff Cohen (Chunk from the Goonies).

The film is jam-packed with jokes and there are plenty of laugh out loud moments throughout.  Some moments fall flat, but generally this is good clean fun and if nothing else, it helps you realise that even as an adult your sense of humour is that of a 10 year old.

 

My Rating 3/5