Tag Archives: Thomas Middleditch

“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?

“The Bronze”

LOUISA:   4.5 STARS  MATT:  4.5 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

Humor is very subjective, and “The Bronze” is the perfect example of an incredibly divisive comedy that will push even the most tolerant viewers to their limit. Will you like this movie or will you bail after 10 minutes? That’s hard to say. If you are a fan of classic subversive comedies like “Bad Santa,” “Borat,” and “A Dirty Shame,” then this should be right up your alley. If you are easily offended, stop reading this review now.

From this point forward I will assume that I only have similar-minded readers, so I am confident to recommend this movie. Yes, it’s a comedy about gymnastics — but it’s so much more. Be forewarned that this movie is loaded with strong sexual content, graphic nudity, drug use and a steady stream of sarcastic foul language throughout. It is very, very vulgar, but it’s not the gross-out, disgusting style of vulgarity as showcased in this year’s “Brothers Grimsby.” The film’s R rating is nearly earned through profanity alone, but it’s the outrageous, absolutely outlandish graphic sex scene that puts it over the top. Seriously, you have to see it to believe it: it’s without question one of the funniest and most exotically choreographed sex scenes in movie history (and let’s just leave it at that).

Hope (Melissa Rauch) is a former Olympic bronze medalist trapped in her glory days. This faded, small-town celebrity is an obnoxious, unemployed loser. She lives at home in her pathetic dad’s (Gary Cole) basement and never changes out of her 2004 U.S. Olympics jacket. Hope has stretched her 15 minutes of fame into a decade of “privileges” (like free pizza at the local Sbarro at the mall, a reserved parking space in downtown Amherst, Ohio, and her photo on the wall in the town diner).

When local athletic ingénue “Mighty” Maggie (the perky Haley Lu Richardson) has a chance to make it onto the 2016 U.S. Olympic team, Hope reluctantly agrees to train her for a supposed $500,000 payday. As Hope realizes that her local celebrity status as a hometown hero is threatened, she has to choose between helping or sabotaging Maggie. Sebastian Stan delivers an uproarious performance as conceited gold medalist Lance, one of Hope’s past sexual conquests and now a rival Olympic trainer. Thomas Middleditch charms as the sweet and nerdy Ben, a kindly, put-upon gym owner who has an inexplicable attraction to Hope.

It seems like audiences are in two different camps on this film: they either love it or they hate it, and I think a lot of that has to do with the Tonya Harding type lead character. Jokes are pushed to the limit and the vulgarity of the language here reaches epic heights. The film doesn’t rely on gross-out jokes or sight gags either, its humor is mostly derived through crude, profane dialogue. I found it refreshing to see a sports movie that’s not full of inspirational platitudes, and this quirky comedy takes no prisoners. There are so many laugh-out-loud moments that this film could easily become an oft-quoted cult classic.

The plot here is very basic but it works, and that’s mostly because of the hysterical dialogue and the straight-faced delivery. It’s hard not to laugh at the obscene, spiteful character as she spews caustic f-word laced tirades in her thick Midwestern accent. No doubt this is cruel verbal abuse, but it’s also very, very funny. Hope is an ungrateful, spoiled, self-absorbed, bratty monster; an awful person who hurls insults at everyone in her path. Somehow I found myself starting to like her. You’ll want to hate her, but her raunchy candor is a little refreshing, and the more obscene and cruel she gets, the more the satirical elements of the film shine through.

It’s not all mean, however: throughout the story we see glimpses of the dejected, bitter woman that lies underneath Hope’s ginormous bangs and tough exterior. And much like its lead character, this film is crude — but underneath it all lies a big heart.

MATT SAYS:

This is the week for movies about adult children who refuse to grow up. First, we had “Pee-wee’s Big Holiday,” and now “The Bronze.” But the similarities end there.

In “The Bronze,” Hope Ann Greggory (Melissa Rauch, who shares co-writing credit) is a former Olympian gymnast who won the bronze medal for Team USA in 2004 in dramatic fashion. Nowadays, Hope is still riding a wave of goodwill in her hometown (which translates to free stuff), living in her childhood home with her single dad (Gary Cole), and reminiscing about her glory days. When a hotshot young gymnast in town loses her coach, Hope has the chance to step in and mentor Maggie (Haley Lu Richardson) a young new star from her town. But if Maggie outshines hope in the Olympics, will Hope fade into the background?

I have never been very interested in the Olympics. As a man, I have even less interest in gymnastics. I fully expected to be bored by this movie. I wasn’t.

I found myself actually rooting for Hope and Maggie and amazingly, I didn’t find the routines boring. Unlike “Race,” where there was way too much emphasis on showing the actual track-and-field events, “The Bronze” uses a more judicious approach, showing Hope or Maggie on the bars, or balance beam, or whatever just enough to support the story, but not so much that it slowed things down. The focus here isn’t on gymnastics, but on Hope and her frozen-in-time insistence on reliving her past instead of trying to create a new future for herself. Along the way, Hope gets to learn a few things about love, friendship, support, and loyalty – but not before she shocks and offends everyone with her incredibly foul mouth.

Oh, did I not mention that before? This movie is raunchy as hell. Hope would fit right in in a high school men’s locker room after a football game. She has a foul mouth that would make a sailor blush, and she doesn’t mince words. She’s not well-educated but she thinks she knows everything. In other words, she’s no one’s role model. And she’s funny as hell. Despite its subject being one that probably appeals to young teens, “The Bronze” is a very adult comedy (with one of the funniest sex scenes I think I’ve ever seen in a movie) and decidedly not for kids or those who offend easily.

If it were just a profane sex comedy or a drama about what it means to finally grow up, “The Bronze” would be forgettable. The reason it works well is because it balances the two; it’s at times both hilariously raunchy and oddly touching. I really liked it.

 

 

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.