Tag Archives: Nick Kroll

“The House”

LOUISA: 3 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

I call Las Vegas my home so I tend to enjoy movies about gambling and casinos, and “The House” has plenty of good quality laughs. It’s not a shining example of a great comedy by any means, but it’s funny and creative enough to mildly recommend if you’re looking to switch your brain off for 90 minutes. I am actually surprised at how amusing this movie is.

Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler are Scott and Kate Johansen, a married couple whose only daughter Alex (Ryan Simpkins) is ready to leave for college. It turns out that after some financial confusion, they have no money to send her to school. Desperate to make $50,000 as quickly as possible, their gambling addict neighbor Frank (Jason Mantzoukas) suggests they start and run an illegal underground casino because, after all, “the house always wins.” The story may not sound that hilarious on the surface; it’s when the trio starts to become consumed with their new roles as wannabe casino mobsters that the entire premise takes off.

There isn’t a river of free flowing, laugh-a-minute jokes here, but there are enough quality laughs from the gags that do land — and when they land, they land in a big way. You may not be laughing throughout, but you’ll be laughing heartily when you do. Poehler and Ferrell actually pair comedically well together, playing off each other with a casual, comfortable swagger, but it’s Mantzoukas who quickly becomes the real scene stealer. His down and out character is funny without ever passing into lazy slapstick territory, and he is remarkably capable of handling some of the film’s darker, more serious jokes.

Nick Kroll and Rob Huebel lend their usual brand of deadpan humor as the crooked town mayor and the affable police chief, and there’s an unexpected brief cameo from Jeremy Renner as a real baddie (I wish he’d had more time onscreen). If you tend to find any of these actors hilarious, then you’ll “get” the brand of comedy in this movie.

Overall the film is not as generic as you’d expect and is actually a pretty funny concept that’s well executed. The story didn’t go in the direction I expected, and there are a few genuine surprises. Will this be a comedy classic for the ages? Nah. But it’s enjoyable even if it is ultimately forgettable.

“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?

Sundance Recap: “Joshy”

LOUISA:    4 STARS     MATT:   4 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

Don’t be fooled into thinking writer/director Jeff Baena‘s “Joshy” is a lighthearted comedy about a bro’s bachelor party weekend in the woods — there are some very serious and somber themes at play here: and I liked it! Almost all films in this genre tend to overshare and show the same repetitive debauchery (massive drug use, booze drinking, guns and sex). But thankfully, this one is different. “Joshy” is most definitely in the spirit of traditional mumblecore but it’s surprisingly insightful (and actually good)!

I loved the brief introduction of minor characters who were out of the plot as quickly as they arrived. This worked to keep the story moving forward and prevented it from stalling. Each of the male characters has some serious stuff going on but we are never told exactly what; the audience is left to their own devices to devise their own backstory. Very effective.

The icing on the cake comes from the heartfelt performances all around from the dream team comedy roster of Jenny Slate, Nick Kroll, Thomas Middleditch, Adam Pally, Alex Ross Perry, Aubrey Plaza, and Brett Gelman. The film is perfectly cast and all of the actors completely sold their relationships. I didn’t detect one false note in this movie.

Oh, and did I mention it’s also funny? All of this solemnity and the multitude of tragic undertones are capped off by themes of finding support and friendship in the most unlikely of places.

MATT SAYS:

“Joshy” is one of those movies that defies audience expectations. You take an ensemble cast of actors mostly known for their comedic work and throw them right in the middle of a dramedy that is heavy on the former and light on the latter, and most people don’t know how to react. Certainly, the audience that watched the movie with me didn’t — they insisted on laughing at things that weren’t funny simply because they thought it was supposed to be a comedy and there were funny actors onscreen.

The story starts out with a horrible tragedy involving the title character on his birthday. Several months later, he gets together with several of his friends for a guy weekend away. Together, they alternate between dealing (or attempting to deal) with the elephant in the room and avoiding it entirely.

The diversity of personalities between the men, and the problems each of them is dealing with in his own life, makes them both relatable and likable. The humor — when it is there — is real and flows naturally. Based on the mumblecore pedigree of the filmmakers and certain of the actors, I half expected to hate his movie. I didn’t.