Tag: kristen wiig

MOVIE REVIEW | The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015)

Diary 1
“What’s the point of living if nobody loves you? Nobody sees you? Nobody touches you?”

Coming of age stories usually make for feel good movies.  There might be some setbacks and heartache along the way, but by the end, the main character is almost always in a happier, healthier place.  But coming of age isn’t necessarily like that for everyone in real life.  There’s real sadness and real tragedy and real setbacks that don’t always become valuable learning experiences. Sometimes, they’re just shitty things that happen to people.  I guess clear character growth is a story requirement, but it can all get a little clichéd and predictable.  Which is why the totally non clichéd and unpredictable coming of age story that is The Diary of a Teenage Girl made it such a great surprise.

It’s the mid 70s in San Francisco, and 15 year old Minnie (Bel Powley) informs us through voiceover that she just had sex for the first time.  Cue the flashback to let us know how it went down.  Living with her hard partying mother (Kristen Wiig) and younger sister (Abbie Wait), Minnie has developed an infatuation with her mother’s latest boyfriend, the mustachioed Monroe (Alexander Skarsgard).  Taking charge of the situation, Minnie lets him know that she wants him to take her virginity, and Monroe is happy to oblige. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***SNL WEEK*** MacGruber (2010)

MacGruber 1
“Well, everday’s a workout when you gotta carry around a 20 pound python in your jeans.”

In 2010, it had been a decade since a Saturday Night Live character made it to the big screen (The Ladies Man). And it had been 17 years since an SNL character had made it to the big screen in a movie that could be considered a hit, (Wayne’s World 2). So it’s surprising that when SNL head honcho Lorne Michaels decided it was time to get back in the feature film game, he didn’t tread lightly. Instead, he went balls out of the bath on this one, with the truly insane piece of violent, profane, goofy genre piss taking, that is MacGruber.

When your typical, run of the mill action movie super villain, Dieter Von Cunth (Val Kilmer) steals a nuclear war head, US Colonel Faith (Powers Booth) knows there’s only man up to the job of getting it back. “The Legendary MacGruber (Will Forte). Former Navy SEAL, Army Ranger and Green Beret. Served six tours in Desert Storm, four in Bosnia, three each in Angola, Somalia, Mozambique, Nicaragua and Sierra Leone. Recipient of sixteen Purple Hearts, three Congressional Medals of Honor, seven Presidential Medals of Bravery and starting tight end for the University of Texas, El Paso.” (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Skeleton Twins (2014)


“That is bullshit. You’re my brother. And we’re supposed to be there for each other. And if you don’t get that by now, then, I don’t know, I guess I’ll talk to you in another ten years.”

One of last year’s festival darlings, everything that had me most excited about The Skeleton Twins were also the same things that had me most concerned about it.  A little indie made for no money that got all he festival crowds talking.  When that’s good, you get Reservoir Dogs.  When it’s bad, you get Little Miss Sunshine.  Two hilariously comedic actors taking on serious drama.  When it’s good, you get Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting.  When it’s bad, you get Robin Williams in Bicentennial Man.  So, which side of the fence does The Skeleton Twins land on?

After writing a suicide note to “Whom it May Concern”, Milo (Bill Hader) wakes up in hospital to a visit from his sister Maggie (Kristin Wiig),  Inseparable as kids, they’ve grown apart to the extent that they haven’t spoken in a decade.  Wanting to reconnect, Maggie insists that Milo take a break from his life in LA as a struggling actor, to come stay with her in their native New York.  Where he meets Lance (Luke Wilson), Maggie’s fiancé. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

Remakes have a bad name in the movie world.  They’re generally seen as unnecessary, inferior, or blatant cash grabs by lazy studios too scared to take a chance on anything original and untested.  And for the most part, this reputation is earned.  For every innovative remake that takes an old premise and makes something genuinely new, like Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead, there are dozens of pointless rehashes like White Chicks (a rip off of Some Like it Hot), Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes and the Russel Brand vehicle Arthur.  For every remake that culturally eclipses the original, like Brian De Palma’s Scarface, we get countless exercises in pointlessness, like Sly Stallone in Get Carter, the turn of the millennium Rollerball and the forgettable update of Straw Dogs.  But every now and again, Hollywood stumbles across a great idea that was under utilised the first time around and turns it into something bigger and better, like Ben Stiller’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

Like the original, the title character, this time played by Stiller, is a daydreamer who’s constant lapses into imagination have kept him from achieving much in the way of life and love.  But that’s where the similarities end.  I liked the 1947 version when I watched it, but now, it seems like nothing more than a series of mostly unrelated sketches performed by star Danny Kay.  This update piles on a really fun adventure story taking Mitty across the world and back again.

Working in the photo archives of Life magazine, Mitty lives a life that’s only remarkable feature is how unremarkable it is.  When he’s not escaping into his own daydreams, the biggest highlight of his life is making doe eyes at the new girl in his office, Cheryl, played by Kristen Wiig.  Things are turned upside down though when Adam Scott arrives as Ted Hendricks, a corporate bloodsucker, tasked with gutting the magazines staff before shutting it down completely.

Mitty receives a roll of film from renowned photographer Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn), containing Negative 25, a photograph that O’Connell claims is his greatest yet, a photograph that will be perfect for the front cover of the last ever issue of Life.  The only problem is, Negative 25 is nowhere to be found.  Not in the package, not in Mitty’s office, not even in the United Sates.  So he sets off on a search and finds adventures bigger, crazier and more amazing than any of his daydreams.

As sweet and touching as the reveal of the valuable photo is, the movie had become about so much more than that, that I had accepted Negative 25 to be nothing more than a McGuffin that I’d never get to actually see.  And I was fine with that.  I kind of think it may have been better to leave the image of Negative 25 to the imagination of every individual viewer.

I really like Ben Stiller as a director and thinks he’s under rated in that field.  Reality Bites aside, he makes visually interesting choices and has a really creative eye.  And in Walter Mitty, he gets to stretch his legs into a few genres.  The more elaborate daydreams are almost standalone short films, where Stiller gets to stage action set pieces, super powered heroics and use pretty impressive special effects and CGI in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the story.

Sometimes old movies get to float by on age alone.  But if you put the two version of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty side by side, I’d say the newer version beats its predecessor in every way.  Better told, more compelling story.  More heart and character development.  Better visual style and technical execution.  And just a lot more fun and satisfying in every way.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Directed By – Ben Stiller
Written By – Steve Conrad