As we look back on our time at SXSW last month, we wanted to briefly reflect on four comedy films we caught during the festival. We’ll give these the full review treatment closer to their Australian release dates, but in the meantime, here are our first thoughts on the overwhelmingly impressive run of films at this year’s festival:
Screening as a work-in-progress, the big screen debut of comedic duo Key & Peele cements the Comedy Central stars as the biggest names in the comedy world right now. The film – which was written years before John Wick but holds a clever connection to the film (deliberate or not – though before screening the film the pair told the crowd that if they crowd didn’t like the film they’d just rename it John Wick 2) – sees the duo infiltrate a local gang in order to try and get their cat and film namesake “Keanu” back.
Director Peter Atencio alongside writers Jordan Peele and Alex Rubens make no apologies for taking aim with a fairly weak plot, giving themselves plenty of wiggle room for a run of hilarious sequences. The film is at its best with Keanu is involved, which sadly means the middle half lags quite a bit, though there are some fantastic cameos throughout, and a few stand out moments. And with a couple of minor exceptions, though wholly predicable – and sadly with many of the best moments spoilt by its trailer – it’s nonetheless an enjoyable and regularly laugh-out-loud comedy that shouldn’t disappoint fans of the duo.
Review Score: THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Keanu is released in Australia on 21st April 2016. With some changes expected to the film between now and then, we’ll review the final cut closer to the date!
War on Everyone
Pausing from his planned trilogy of films with Brendan Gleeson – which has already seen the release of the brilliant The Guard (2011) and Calvary (2014) – English/Irish director John Michael McDonagh makes his American debut with the incredibly black comedy War on Everyone, starring Alexander Skarsgård and Michael Peña – who are both brilliant as apathetic police officers, serving only themselves as they leave a… let’s call it a “unique stamp on the world around them”.
This film is dark. It’s as far from PC as you’ll get. If you’re easily offended: this will not be for you. But for the rest of us, it may be the most enjoyable and hilarious film you’ll see this year. Don’t watch any trailers, just go in with an open mind and enjoy. You may feel bad for laughing, but as it seems McDonaugh enjoys shining a light on the worst of humanity, it’s designed for just that reaction. And it’s a fantastic cinematic experience as a result.
Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Read our interviews with the cast and crew of War on Everyone HERE.
Everybody Wants Some
Arguably Director Richard Linklater’s most unadulterated and enjoyable productions ever. I had a smile on my face from start to finish. Fans of Dazed and Confused will not be disappointed, and in many ways he has surpassed his spiritual predecessor. This comes thanks to greater studio support, a fantastic, mostly unknown, cast and a more focused script. Both a great college film that puts it alongside the likes of Animal House, and a surprisingly good sports film, embedding us in the first days of training for the College Baseball season. You won’t want to miss this film – in the context of its genre, it’s absolute perfection.
Review Score: FIVE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
The film will be released in Australia 23rd June and we’ll have the full review for you then! Look out for our interviews with the cast and director soon too!
My Blind Brother
In some ways this is a cruel comedy – as an audience you are forced to hate the film’s “Blind Brother”, played by Adam Scott, while the headline cast – Jenny Slate and Nick Kroll – the ones we are meant to root for, are equally detestable in their own right. But by placing our leads on a level playing field, and by setting the bar so low as to what’s “likeable” about a character in the film, writer/director Sophie Goodhart has miraculously created a heart-warming and often hilarious film. There were some “laughing so hard I can’t breathe, please send help” moments as one of the most bizarre love triangles you’ve ever seen on screen played itself out. And unlike so many films in its genre, the film is neither predictable nor clichéd. Goodhart manages to surprise you right until the last notes. Which is no mean feat.
Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Read our interviews with the cast and crew of My Blind Brother HERE.