Tag Archives: Ed Helms

“I Do…Until I Don’t”

LOUISA: 1 STAR


LOUISA SAYS:

The cookie cutter “I Do…Until I Don’t” quickly falls victim to crappy directing, lousy writing, and indifferent acting. The lackluster ensemble comedy of marriage is the brainchild of the usually funny Lake Bell, and it’s so bad that this one can’t simply be dismissed as a case of the sophomore slump. The film is so bad that if she doesn’t bring it with her next effort, this could end her career as a director and screenwriter.

Premise-wise, the movie doesn’t even start off with a good one. A jaded British documentary filmmaker (Dolly Wells) comes to Florida to find three dysfunctional couples as subjects for her movie. Alice (Bell) and Noah (Ed Helms) own a window coverings store and are unhappily trying to get pregnant, Harvey (Paul Reiser) and Cybil (Mary Steenburgen) are long-time marrieds who are tired of being together, and Fanny (Amber Heard) and Zander (Wyatt Cenac) are free spirited hippies with an open relationship. There’s nobody to really root for and I found myself almost instantly disengaged with the unlikable characters and the unpleasant story. If you enjoy watching couples fight for 90 minutes, be my guest.

Dreadfully slow and completely uninteresting for its first half, the film rapidly goes downhill — and things don’t get much better until Heard shows up. She and Reiser are the only bright spots in this mess.

What follows are repeated unfunny, clunky attempts at humor, and the few lines that are funny are due to reference humor more than being anything original or inspired. Across the board, the jokes fall flat and the premises that glisten with the slightest hint of comedy potential (like Alice getting hired at a rub and tug massage parlor) ultimately go nowhere.

Worst of all, Bell can’t decide between making the film a biting indie or a crowd-pleasing, maudlin, feel good movie and the tone is uneven. In one word, this one is “lacking” in all areas.

“Captain Underpants”

LOUISA: 3.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

If “Captain Underpants” succeeds at one thing, it’s making me realize that I have the sense of humor of an eight year old. The movie, based on the incredibly popular series of children’s books by Dav Pilkey, relies predominantly on potty humor jokes as its core backbone of comedy — and it kept me laughing the entire way through. There aren’t any philosophical nor meaningful lessons to be learned here: it’s just mindless, poop-joke filled fun that celebrates the devotion and importance of a loyal friendship.

The movie tells the story of best friends George (Kevin Hart) and Harold (Thomas Middleditch) and their penchant for cooking up epic pranks that target their mean school principal Krupp (Ed Helms). One day George hypnotizes Krupp with a toy ring and with a snap of their fingers, he becomes the dimwitted (and overly enthusiastic) superhero Captain Underpants.

There’s something innately hilarious about the entire scenario, and the appealing, tidy animation lends the perfect punch to the plot. Watching the doofus Krupp strip down to his tighty whities and jump through windows while trying to save the day is even more enjoyable with the robust primary colors and curvy character styles that comprise the drawings. The animation is cheery, spirited and bright, and I really love how the entire film looks.

Hart, Middleditch, and Helms all give strong, cheery, and amusing vocal performances that perfectly fit their characters. Ditto for Nick Kroll hamming it up as Professor Pippy Pee-Pee Poopypants, the evil scientist with the most unfortunate of names. (Only the most stoic members of society who lack an ounce of a sense of humor won’t be able to resist chuckling at that)!

The story’s bread and butter is its mild rude humor, but at least it shows a deep appreciation (and a genuine celebration) of the fantastic comedy potential that lives in the most simple of fart jokes. The movie works because it doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not.

Yes, it’s goofy and juvenile, but “Captain Underpants” provides the perfect summer escape for the kiddos that will also entertain fun-loving adults. Now where did I put that whoopee cushion?

“Kevin Hart: What Now?”

LOUISA: 3 STARSMATT: 3 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

Kevin Hart is a comedy superstar, a comedian who can command a record-breaking crowd of 50,000 people in a sold out Philadelphia football stadium. “What Now?” is the filmed version of this performance, a standup concert movie that has a few hearty laughs and is sure to please his core fan base.

The movie starts out with an awkwardly unfunny opening bit, an unnecessary parody of James Bond movies that probably looked good on paper but doesn’t translate well to the screen. There are some weird cameos by Ed Helms, Don Cheadle (who gets the most laughs), and Halle Berry; most of the prologue’s storyline was spoiled in the film’s trailers. Once Hart takes the stage with his trademark swagger, things start to heat up.

The stage sets are engaging, changing often to keep things interesting, but Hart himself is so likeable and so confident that he steals the spotlight with his amusing banter. He riffs on everything from his personal life (friends, kids, dad and fiancée) to crazy fans (one insisting on snapping a selfie in an airport bathroom) to sex (there are plenty of racy, raunchy jokes in this R-rated comedy). The jokes run the gamut and while not everything is funny, there are certain to be several bits that strike a chord and will leave you chuckling.

Hart is enjoyable to listen to and fun to watch (he’s physically funny too), but this routine doesn’t really warrant a big screen release and would be better suited for cable. I’d estimate that perhaps 50% of the movie is funny. Of course, it’s not only about the laughs: it’s about the experience of watching it in a theater. This provides a far better communal experience than watching at home (the directors insert just enough crowd reaction shots to really make you feel as if you are sitting right there in the sold out stadium). It isn’t one of the greatest standup movies ever, but it’s a fun way to escape for a couple of hours and presents a good introduction to his brand of wisecracks.

Hart’s humor spans all races, classes and genders, making this an all-inclusive moviegoing experience. This is something that he points out in the film’s ending, saying that “if we can laugh together, we can live together; if we can live together, we can love together.” Truth.

MATT SAYS:

“What Now?” is sure to please fans of Kevin Hart‘s comedy. For the uninitiated, it’s also a good introduction to the comedian and his musings.

Like most of the greats before him, Hart’s comedy is popular because it has a broad, almost universal appeal. In “What Now?” he hits on a number of subjects that most will find relatable: relationships with family, girlfriends and boyfriends; fear of the dark; male-female communications; and how old people deal with new technology. His delivery is natural and conversational, his timing impeccable, and his physicality (both with facial expressions and with the way he moves) is impeccable.

As a concert movie, it’s assembled well. There are just enough crowd reaction shots to help sell the material and make you feel like you’re there, but they aren’t overdone. There’s a communal feeling that you get when you’re attending shows like this one (I was able to catch him on this tour when he came through Vegas) that is captured well on screen and, if you’re sitting with the right audience, can actually translate to the movie theater. It’s actually kind of fun watching movies like this in a (not too) crowded theater where you can listen to other people’s reactions; after seeing a few of these concert films you can really appreciate why they do well in a theatrical release.

While the concert scenes are put together well, what doesn’t work is the narrative framing device that both precedes and follows the actual show. Hart starts the movie in a James Bond-like sequence which has him playing a game of poker against some Russian mobsters. I have no idea why they thought that sequence was a good idea. Hart’s likeable as an actor but the material is just lame and feels like a very flimsy excuse to trot in a parade of cameos from some of Hart’s famous friends (Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, Ed Helms). It’s too bad because the poorly-written and unfunny intro fails to warm up the crowd. Fortunately, Hart’s able to quickly overcome this negative momentum when he appears on stage.