Wild Mountain Thyme: Film Review

Wild Mountain Thyme

Wild Mountain Thyme was ridiculed on social media over the cast’s dodgy Irish accents in the trailer late last year and I held back and decided to give the movie the benefit of the doubt and judge it in its entirety. Well, everybody was on the money because this movie is bad and absolutely bonkers.

Directed by John Patrick Shanley, who has adapted his 2014 Broadway play Outside Mullingar, Wild Mountain Thyme stars Emily Blunt and Jamie Dornan as Rosemary Muldoon and Anthony Reilly, who have lived on neighbouring farms in Ireland since they were kids. She has been in love with him for years and he’s absolutely oblivious. However, when his American cousin Adam Kelly (Jon Hamm) visits the farm, with the view of taking it over after Anthony’s father Tony (Christopher Walken) dies, he complicates matters by taking a liking to Rosemary.

It’s hard to understand why such talented actors would sign up for this barmy and over-the-top romantic comedy. The absurdity of it is quite amusing and I chuckled at it (not with it) often but mostly about how silly it all was – and that’s before I reached the late twist that is so ridiculous that I sat in disbelief, scratching my head, wondering if I had really just heard those lines correctly. I hadn’t been taking the frivolous, lightweight movie all that seriously, but the ending was just on a whole other level and I’m baffled by Shanley’s decision to go down such an unexpected and bizarre route.

Blunt and Dornan’s characters don’t seem like real people; she’s so sassy and headstrong that she stomps around and huffs a lot, while he’s so awkward and eccentric, you can see why his father doesn’t want to leave the farm to him when his charming and smooth American nephew is willing to do the job. The screenplay never manages to make them anything more than caricatures, it’s littered with cliched Irish references – to accompany the obvious landscape shots – and the accents don’t help matters.

As the trailer made very obvious, the accents in Wild Mountain Thyme are all over the place. Walken barely attempts to do it and Blunt goes overboard so they are both baffling bad. Dornan comes off slightly better since he’s Northern Irish but he clearly had some trouble switching to Irish and his effort is very inconsistent. Hamm is saved by the fact that he has to play a suave American businessman, something he’s got some experience in.

You can’t help but expect more from this film given the A-list cast and the fact Shanley is a Tony and Oscar-winning playwright and filmmaker, but sadly, Wild Mountain Thyme amounts to nothing more than an absurd and forgettable romcom that was a misjudgement for all involved.

On digital platforms from Friday 30th April

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar: Film Review

Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar

I love Kristen Wiig and I was so excited to see her leading a movie with her Bridesmaids co-writer Annie Mumolo for the first time. I had the highest hopes for their latest co-writing project, Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar, given how much I loved their work on Bridesmaids, but I’m afraid to report that it’s bad and not funny.

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

Barb and Star (Mumolo and Wiig respectively) are lifelong friends who live together (in the same bedroom) and work together and basically don’t do anything without the other person. After their workplace closes and they’re booted out of their talking club (they love to talk), they decide they need to do something exciting with their lives so they leave their small town for the first time ever to go on holiday in Vista Del Mar in Florida. While there, they befriend and fall for Edgar (Jamie Dornan) without realising he’s in town to carry out a villainous plot – to kill everyone in Vista Del Mar on behalf of his boss (also Wiig) to get revenge on the people who laughed at her and fired her out of a cannon when she was a child (yes, really).

I don’t usually reveal spoilers but I can’t avoid talking about Wiig’s dual role, which has been kept out of the trailer, IMDb listing, and other marketing materials. Her villain has a striking look, with skin seemingly painted white, overdrawn red lips, a gap tooth, and blunt black bob. She instantly reminded of the poster for the Alexander McQueen Savage Beauty exhibition. She is ridiculous and her plot is far-fetched and cringeworthy in a similar way to Dr Evil in Austin Powers or Mugatu in Zoolander, but less funny. I preferred Wiig in this role though; I think she does camp evil very well and she was fun to look at.

But we spend most of our time with Barb and Star who are incredibly annoying to listen to after a while – don’t get me started on their pronunciation of “culottes”! The accents Wiig and Mumolo put on are funny at first but soon wear thin. Barb and Star felt like characters that might be created for a short sketch on Saturday Night Live but they can’t sustain a feature. And I’m someone who doesn’t find SNL particularly funny.

The most redeeming and appealing cast member is Dornan and that’s saying something since he’s ridiculous as well. The Edgar scenes were entertaining by virtue of the fact we’re watching Dornan perform in a way we’ve never seen him before. He hasn’t been given the opportunity to do comedy much and he throws himself fully into it and it’s an absolute joy watching him singing and prancing around on a beach during his number Edgar’s Prayer, which has a similar energy to Bet On It from High School Musical 2. Clips of Dornan singing to seagulls, climbing a coconut tree, doing ballerina moves, and shaking maracas are definitely going to go viral on social media. The number is completely unnecessary and bizarre as hell – I said WTF a lot – but it’s the film’s most memorable scene by far.

All this talk of singing and dancing may make you think this is a musical but nope! Outside of lounge singer Richard Cheese (Mark Jonathan Davis) singing about boobies at the piano in their hotel, there is only one other number, an ensemble piece: Palm Vista. They come out of nowhere! But the random musical numbers, the crab that talks like Morgan Freeman (it wasn’t actually him) and a cameo by Reba McEntire as a water spirit called Trish are all perfect examples of how bonkers this film is.

All this random madness might make it seem like Barb and Star is a barrel of laughs but it’s not. So many jokes don’t work – you can’t help but cringe at some of them, especially as they seem to be trying so hard – and I didn’t laugh out loud much at all, although I found Dornan, Wiig as the villain, and her child sidekick Yoyo (Reyn Doi) very amusing to watch. It’s hard to critique the actors for their performances in an oddity like this because they’re all done dirty by the weak screenplay, unrealistic heightened characters, and a very thin story that was easily solved.

It’s a real shame that Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar is such a step down from the heights of Bridesmaids. It was always going to be a challenge to deliver a comedy as good as that but I didn’t expect Barb and Star to be such a misfire. I’m still processing how insane, absurd, and silly it was!

Available on video-on-demand platforms such as Apple TV, YouTube, Prime Video, and Google Play, from Friday 12th February

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Synchronic: Film Review

Synchronic

I love a sci-fi and I’m a huge fan of both Jamie Dornan and Anthony Mackie but I’ve got to say that Synchronic is a classic example of me loving the idea but not the execution.

Dornan and Mackie are Dennis and Steve, two paramedics and longtime best friends who start to encounter people either dead or in a strange state during their shifts and discover it’s the result of a new designer drug in town – Synchronic. After Dennis’ teenage daughter Brianna (Ally Ioannides) goes missing, Steve makes the ultimate sacrifice and takes the drug himself – with unexpected consequences.

I had really high hopes in the beginning because I found their introductory scene, in which they investigate a crime scene, interesting and it immediately grabbed my attention and I also liked getting to know their brother-like bond, but my enjoyment disappeared fairly soon after Steve started taking Synchronic. I assume these sci-fi time-travel scenes are supposed to be the standout portion of the movie but I found them repetitive, tedious, and I mentally checked out a bit. Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead failed to bring it back for me from there. Those time travel scenes were just bonkers and I don’t think they made sense.

I actually preferred the more dramatic human side of the film, with Dennis dealing with his teenage daughter’s disappearance and the birth of his second child, while Steve, a ladies’ man and alcoholic, is processing some tragic news which he is yet to tell his best buddy about. I cared far more about that than the sci-fi scenes.

I can’t fault the actors, who do well with what they’re given, but Synchronic just didn’t work for me.

On digital platforms including Amazon, Sky, Google, Virgin, BT, Rakuten, Chili, Xbox, Curzon Home Cinema, and Showcase at Home from Friday 29th January

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Endings, Beginnings: Film Review

Endings, Beginnings

I love to watch Shailene Woodley onscreen so I was excited to see her mostly improvised performance in Drake Doremus‘ latest – Endings, Beginnings – and while she excels in the conflicted role, the movie as a whole was a bit of a disappointment.

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A Private War: Film Review

I became aware of how incredible Rosamund Pike was when she starred in Gone Girl. I really wanted her to win the Oscar for it but she didn’t and I really wish she was included in the race again with A Private War.

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A Private War: LFF Film Review

I became aware of how incredible Rosamund Pike was when she starred in Gone Girl. I really wanted her to win the Oscar for it but she didn’t and I would really like her to be in the race again with A Private War.

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Fifty Shades Freed: Film Review

The Fifty Shades franchise has never been that great so I never expected a sudden transformation into something amazing for the third and final instalment. My expectations were obviously low, especially after critics absolutely slated it, but it is OK. Fans will certainly enjoy it.

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Fifty Shades of Grey: Film Review

feb2

The reaction to both the book and film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey has been extremely polarising. I get the impression that it is almost cool to say it’s crap, so I’m going to do the uncool thing by saying I liked it. It was not perfect by all means, but it was not as bad as I was bracing myself for.

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Pics from the Fifty Shades of Grey premiere

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Tonight I headed to the London premiere of the highly-anticipated movie adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey. The stars of the film, Dakota Johnson and a very-beardy Jamie Dornan (above), hit the grey carpet in Leicester Square along with director Sam-Taylor Johnson and her Kick-Ass actor husband Aaron Taylor-Johnson and author E.L. James.

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Top Films for February

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My top film recommendations for this month are:

SELMA

This biopic of civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. depicts a small period in his life where he organises three marches between Selma and Montgomery in Alabama in the 1960s to campaign for the black vote. David Oyelowo gives a storming performance as King and was totally robbed of an Oscar nomination. Review to come. Released: 6th February

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