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Monday, 21 January 2019

Retro Review: Some Kind of Wonderful (1987)

Some Kind of Wonderful
Cast: Eric Stoltz, Mary Stuart Masterson, Lea Thompson, Craig Sheffer, John Ashton, Elias Koteas
Genre: Romantic Drama
U.S Box Office Gross: over $18 million

Plot: When Keith goes out with Amanda, the girl of his dreams, Amanda's ex-boyfriend plans to get back at Keith. Meanwhile, Keith's best friend tomboy, Watts, realises she has feelings for Keith

'Some Kind Of... Modest '80s Teen Rom Drama'

Back in 1987, John Hughes, who had previously helmed the likes of The Breakfast Club and Pretty In Pink, took another crack at the so-called popular teen falling in love with the misfit/underdog in Some Kind of Wonderful: a film in which over 30 years on, has become part of the teenage canon, despite being derided as a gender swap version of Pretty In Pink and with the same director at the helm, Howard Deutch. 

A love triangle develops between a boy who is attracted to a pretty girl, but the boy's female best friend suddenly develops feelings for him. Artist and student Keith is oblivious to the fact that so-called tomboy Watts not only has a crush on him but that she has fallen in love with him too. Complications arise further when Keith dreams of being with the attractive Amanda Jones, and that Amanda's ex & rich boy, Hardy wants her back and sees Keith as nothing more than his nemesis. 

Watts comes across as confident, defiant who wears a leather jacket and rocking that rock chick-look - yet underneath it, all is an insecure girl who can't muster up the courage to express how she truly feels to Keith. Mary Stuart Masterson plays Watts so well and who is cool and the tomboy type who is into the same or similar things as guys and Masterson delivers her best onscreen performance; and one that really should have led to bigger and better roles. Eric Stoltz (originally the first choice for Back to the Future's Marty McFly, before Michael J.Fox became the series mainstay) is effective, without really exploding on screen. I mean, he was okay, but he was also bland in a way too and I expected a greater performance from him in a drama that is heralded by many of one of the best that deals with teen romances and Keith is far from a compelling character, nor one that made a major impact. 

Lea Thompson has been an actress, who especially through Back to the Future, has been a major player in the early to mid-1980s Hollywood movie scene, but who has seen major movie roles dry up over the decades. Her character, Amanda is not a villain per se, rather she tries to be a good friend to Keith, whilst being unaware her current squeeze is, in fact, cheating on her. The movie, thankfully, avoids the mistake of making Amanda a shallow, b****y type of girl and Thompson makes her out to be redeemable when she could have so easily been undesirable. The characters, as a whole, are less cliched and stereotypical, due to the performances which range from respectable to impressive (but for probably say Stoltz) across the board.

I finally and eventually got round to watching Some Kind of Wonderful: normally, this is not the type of movie I'd get excited for and it is also one that wouldn't have appealed to me back in the 1980s. This is a conventional romantic drama that whilst it is argued both the female characters are underdeveloped, which they are, Watts for me was the most interesting out of the two, whilst as admirable as Lea Thompson is here, it can be disputed that she makes Amanda far too much of a sweet nice girl. Me personally, she fared all right. 

Canadian actor, Elias Koteas plays the so-called bad boy who is friends with Keith, whilst Craig Sheffer revels as the bad boy, whose performance was rather appealing. 

Final Verdict:

Over 30 years have passed and Some Kind of Wonderful still holds up and Howard Deutch, who has mostly been a deficient director with his efforts, manages to get the best out of his then-young cast.

It's not a bad effort and as much as I wished it could have gone a little deeper in the dramatics and expanded a bit more on Watts and Amanda's troublesome boyfriend, Hardy, there wasn't literally one moment throughout that I disliked. The film's main asset is Mary Stuart Masterson, whose turn gives it and her role, some pathos and nuance. 

Some Kind of Wonderful is a solid-yet tightly held teen-based drama that gets better as it goes on. 


Saturday, 19 January 2019

Mini Retro Review: Beautiful Joe (2000) #badmovies

Beautiful Joe
Romantic Drama

A romantic drama starring Billy Connolly and Sharon Stone, who by this point, her career took a further turn for the worst. A guy named Joe from Dublin is diagnosed with a brain tumour & finds his wife in bed with another man, she wants a divorce, Joe later meets up with a single mother, Hush (real name Alice) up in Louisville, who is also a scam artist. They bond together, Joe bonds with the kids and later falls for Hush. 2000's Beautiful Joe was noted for being the first Sharon Stone film not to be released in UK cinemas and U.S theaters. Ally McBeal's' Gill Bellows Southern accent and performance bordered on farcical as a stereotypical southern hick and it's a shame to think that an actress in Sharon Stone, who was once touted as a major star, ought to have had a better movie career than the one that she ended up with; since Total Recall and Basic Instinct, she's been in too many bombs, critical and commercial flops (remake of Gloria, Catwoman, The Specialist, Intersection to name but a few, although Sphere wasn't bad). Her character undergoes too many hairstyle & wig changes in one film and Beautiful Joe is a routine rom-drama without much in the way of romantic chemistry between Billy Connolly and Sharon Stone, nor of a driven story. Contrary to critics, this wasn't wholly unwatchable; however, in the right hands, this would have turned out far better.

Is It Worth Watching?



Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Mini Retro Review: The Killing Machine (1994) #badmovies

The Killing Machine

Do not let the poster fool you - this is not the action-packed fest this movie wants you to believe it is. An ex-hitman is kidnapped and is turned into an assassin. He then develops feelings towards a woman who is supposedly one of his potential targets. The fight scenes are nothing you haven't seen before in any other Jeff Wincott and martial arts actioner, whilst the action, in general, is almost non-existent & verging on less than satisfying. The plot is similar to Universal Soldier, but is nowhere as fun and entertaining and is blandly conceived with mostly bad dialogue being spewed and most of the movie is in pitch Black. Like many of Wincott's flicks, but for say Martial Law 2 and Mission of Justice, The Killing Machine doesn't play to his strengths, nor does he display his martial arts abilities fully. There is not enough great action and is more of a thriller and so for martial arts action junkies, there are very little scenes in that department that would make this a worthy recommendation. For an action film, this is unbelievably boring.

Is It Worth Watching?



Monday, 14 January 2019

Retro Review: So Close (2002) #Hongkongcinema

So Close (aka Zik- joeng tin- si)
Cast: Shu Qi, Vicki Zhao, Karen Mok, Song Seung-heon
Genre: Action
Hong Kong Box Office Gross: over $800 million

Plot: A conflict of interest between two high-kicking assassin sisters is complicated when they are pursued by the criminals who hired them and a high-kicking female cop

'Close, Yet Oh So Far'

I could see Corey Yuen's Western influences and traits in The Transporter starring Jason Statum, as well as The Matrix running through this film; it's not so much less Yuen and a little bit more of John Woo in its slick production and choreography. Although I'm not really a fan of post-mid-1990s Hong Kong action films, So Close is a tad better than most offerings, and still, as an action martial arts film, it is disappointing with an over-reliance on CGI and wire work-based action scenes and a surprisingly tame narrative.

The comparisons made with 2000's Charlie's Angels is a little odd, with the only resemblances being the girls use martial arts and the films themselves have female action protagonists.

The downsides to this film are the romance part, which bored me and I could care less for it and the middle part of the story doesn't explode. I would have also liked a bit more action, the tonality is off-key and at times, the melodrama, similar to the one in She Shoots Straight, was overdone. Zhao Wei is not bad, whilst Karen Mok has screen presence and shows her versatility in the action stakes. Both Zhao Wei and Karen Mok have a Stephen Chow connection, as they each shared the spotlight with the comedic actor; Shu in Shaolin Soccer and Mok in The God of Cookery. Performances-wise, I liked them, but the CGI thing and the lack of high-quality action scenes I've come to expect from a director in Yuen really lessened my enjoyment of So Close.

The individual origin stories of the sisters and the female cop are just not well developed, that as much as I tried to engage in the drama and the plot, it just wasn't strong or believable enough. The plot twist with the murder frame-up could have used a bit more work and it's a shame that despite some good performances, the actors were let down by the script and the action is mostly decent at best, but is not exceedingly great. Add to that that the editing is haphazard (which is unheard of by his usual standards), there is that underlying sense that Yuen, an action director and choreographer of whom I admire, was fuelled by and opted for style over substance and going for that John Woo flashy feel, which under Yuen here, isn't a good match for him. Yuen is better being Corey Yuen, but by mimicking or going for that Woo style and the slo-mo shots, the end result is not as particularly good.

The plot twists were confusing to boot and made little sense; the two girls, who came across to me like the bad guys (though that was the impression I was receiving) infiltrate a computer system and after gaining access, hell breaks loose. A female cop in Kong enters the fray and the girls are pursued by Kong and Chow Lui's brother who hired the girls and who now wants them dead.

As a fan of Hong Kong action movies of the 1980s and 1990s, I wonder whether this sub-standard quality action flick is too good enough for fans of martial arts action films that have a rewatchability factor; well, as far as I am concerned, this is two steps down for Yuen-Kwai who has delivered far better. 

Final Verdict:

As Corey Yuen films go, this is one of his weaker efforts that when compared to the excellent She Shoots Straight and Yes Madam!, this one underwhelms and it feels not very impressive and is rather hackneyed. Although it fares a tad better than say, DOA, which isn't saying much either. The CGI-based action scenes also took away from some of my enjoyment, but the final third scene was rather good.

Additionally, lacking in wit and self-awareness, it would have benefited So Close a good deal had these aspects been considered and the film had not taken itself too seriously.


Sunday, 13 January 2019

Retro Review: A Night At The Roxbury (1998)

A Night At The Roxbury
Cast: Will Ferrell, Chris Kattan, Molly Shannon, Mark McKinney, Colin Quinn
Genre: Comedy
U.S Box Office Gross: over $30 million

Plot: Two dim-witted brothers dream of owning their own dance club or at least getting into the coolest & most exclusive club in town, The Roxbury 

'Going Out? Just Stay At Home Instead'

I hate to admit it, but much like with Good Burger and many other Saturday Night Live-based movies, but for the exception of Wayne's World, A Night At The Roxbury struggles and fumbles its way, no thanks to underdeveloped characters, with little in the way of overly decent jokes and slapstick and humour that is far from hearty and hilarious, as well as making a movie based on a sketch piece and stretching it out and not incorporating more charm, and neither is it executed well. The premise, the idea is an entertaining one, based on a TV sketch piece, but for one dance scene with Amber's ''This Is Your Night'' playing in the background, most of the jokes, gags, repetitive mentions of Emilio Estevez and slapstick, didn't strike me as amusing and amusingly consistent and there wasn't truly one turning point in the film where it felt like it was going somewhere. It just wasn't.

Steve (pre-Hollywood movie star & then current SNL member, Will Ferrell) and Doug (Chris Kattan) are two club-lovin' & head-boppin' brothers who succeed in amusing one another, rather than scoring with the ladies on the dance floor. After several failed attempts at gaining access at the Roxbury, forgotten movie actor, Richard Grieco as himself, helps them out, with success.

Steve Koren who penned the entertaining Jim Carrey and Jennifer Aniston 2001 effort, Bruce Almighty, sadly also gave us comic duds in Jack & Jill and A Thousand Words with Eddie Murphy. Along with Lorne Michaels who did it exceedingly better in Wayne's World and Clueless creator, Amy Heckling, this comedy movie borders on being humourless.

Whereas the foolproof Mike Myers & Dana Carvey- led Wayne's World succeeded through funny, witty writing and slapstick and jokes and thus it avoided being a TV to film -based flick, A Night At The Roxbury prattles on and on far beyond breaking point, without engaging and really stamping its duty that its botched execution renders it as a tedious and unmemorable caper. Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan share chemistry onscreen, but the jokes that they delivered failed to tickle my funny bone, incessantly. I think the fact that it was originally an SNL piece wherein their characters never spoke or uttered a single word of dialogue for 5 mins, here Chris and Will's characters are given lines to work with. It's unfortunate though that most of it just wasn't funny enough.

This was a truly utter disappointment; I so wanted to enjoy this one and the inclusion of euro dance songs such as Haddaway's What Is Love? was something I liked (which gets played a great deal throughout the film, which will make some people hate the song), although I do wish that the huge euro dance hit, The Real Mccoy's Another Night of 1994 was featured too.

The soundtrack is cool and being a fan of 1990s euro dance music is definitely worth checking out for lovers of this genre - yet sadly, however, this film isn't.

Final Verdict:

This night at the Roxbury was, by all means, forgettable and there was almost nothing that was close to being a laugh riot. This is strictly for die-hard Will Ferrell fans and fans of SNL's Roxbury guys, who unlike the rest of us, will manage to get much amusement out of this surprisingly flawed buddy comedy.


Saturday, 12 January 2019

Retro Review: Good Burger (1997)

Good Burger
Cast: Kenan Thompson, Kel Mitchell, Abe Vigoda, Sinbad, Shar Jackson, Linda Cardellini, Carmen Electra, Marques Houston
Genre: Comedy
U.S Box Office Gross: over $23 million

Plot: Two dim-witted teenagers are forced to save their fast food chain from closing, despite a new & improved burger joint that wants to be ''top dog'' of the fast food industry

'Hold The Pickles On This One'

When this film was screened to a selection of 15 film critics in the U.S back in 1997, nine of them walked out.

Good Burger is based on a sketch from a kids TV series, All That and with the success of Kenan and Kel making waves with the kids, Nickelodeon Movies took another gamble on the comic duo with direction by Brian Robbins (Old Dogs). Good Burger has a good helping of burgers, fries and fast food, yet unfortunately, it lacks any wit and the film's tone and humour will go over most people's heads, but for avid fans of Kenan and Kel.

Two so-called not very bright teens, Dexter and Ed try to save their fast food joint from going out of business with a rival competitor in Mondo Burger opening across the street trying to scupper their plans.

It doesn't have the witty banter or satirical commentary on fast food rivalry of Hong Kong comedy, Chicken and Duck Talk, nor is the story as engaging. But Good Burger is unfortunately uninspiring by taking the theme of fast food, and yet not doing something remotely outrageous, witty or adventurous with it, - and I'd admit I struggled to enjoy it immensely, with the jokes becoming repetitive and the humour's consistency overall, is so poor and not very entertaining, it just wasn't well written. It mainly consists of Kel's Ed (looking like a male Whoopi Goldberg with the dreadlocks) shouting,''Welcome to Good Burger!!, Home of the Good Burger'', which gets tired after say 3 or 4 times, and sounding like a stereotypical surfer dude or an extra on Beavis and Butthead

The dance scene in a mental hospital bumps this up to an extra half a mark, but the film's insistence on taking what was initially a TV sketch and stretching it out exhaustively for a feature film and not include additional and better slapstick and jokes is a mistake. I smiled once, twice (one scene being Ed, in a slo-mo scene, tries to stop a woman eating a good burger that is laced with some poisonous substance, and tackles her to the ground) but other than that, unlike most so-bad-it's good films or comedy films that I have enjoyed that critics have loathed, there wasn't one aspect that made me want to love it. Kel's schtick would have been fine - if it wasn't as grating as it became and I wanted this to work and to enjoy it, but the longer the story continued with no big surprises to speak of, meant I lost my enthusiasm towards it. I did watch Kenan and Kel as a teenager back in the 1990s - and Kel's love for orange soda, but whereas my younger brother at the time loved it, I was pretty much the opposite.

Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell do what they can with the material they are given; however, with that material, it fails to challenge their characters, as well as performers and there is arguably no genuine humour that develops between them. The remaining characters seem throwaway and don't really make an impact on the main plot or the story. With a runtime of 1 hr and 35 mins and with very little jokes and laugh-out-laugh comedy, it appears the producers and writers didn't make good use of these mins.

It really helps a great deal by being a fan of Kenan and Kel and familiarising yourself with their brand of humour and comedy and with that in mind, it understands its teen audience and aims squarely at them, because otherwise, Good Burger isn't going to sustain one's interest throughout. Having said all that, despite being a kids/teens movie, it could have tried a little harder to garner universal appeal too, with a more daring screenplay and to be more entertaining.

Final Verdict:

Teenagers will end up enjoying this one a whole lot more and whilst it is not wholly unlikeable in my eyes, it fell short in so many areas.

Unfortunately, this burger just doesn't cut the mustard.


Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Retro Review: Celtic Pride (1996)

Celtic Pride
Cast: Daniel Stern, Dan Ackroyd, Damon Wayans, Gail O' Grady, Christopher McDonald 
Genre: Comedy
U.S Box Office Gross: over $9 million

Plot: Two overly loyal Celtic fans kidnap their opponent's star player in order to guarantee their team the championship

'Sports Caper That Bounces Its Way Off The Court'

One of Judd Apatow's earlier efforts and alongside Fun With Dick & Jane, Celtic Pride is another earlier offering of his, before he achieved (brief) success with Juno and Knocked Up.

Two die-hard Boston Celtics fans attend the NBA championship winning game against Utah Jazz, with Mike having one thing on his mind: the Celtics becoming victorious. He and Jimmy get one of the Jazz's players drunk and the next day, they kidnap their star player, Lewis Scott.

Christopher McDonald (Flubber) plays the Utah Jazz's coach and there is also a cameo by former player, Larry Bird.

The two leads Daniel Stern and Dan Ackroyd were better off in Home Alone and Ghostbusters, but their characters in this movie are both one-dimensional, utterly charmless and unlikeable and they were completely miscast. Mike and Jimmy show virtually little in the way of character development and not once throughout did I get the impression these were people I wanted to root for. Along with Apatow's unfunny writing, director Tom DeCherchio seems lost as to where to take this movie and by not infusing it with slapstick scenes and funny one-liners, Celtic Pride, much like a losing NBA team, keeps on aiming but never finding the ball in the net.

When it goes down the kidnapping route and aims to go for the cynical approach, the film takes a U-turn for the worse and along with that, the laughs dry up. Clearly intended as a spoof film on sports, athletes and fandom, it fails to emphasise and parody on either of these aspects. But besides the humour, there was nothing else left to watch for; with the basketball action scenes being pitifully few.

A movie about fandom and in the context of sports that takes a look at the lengths devoted fans go to show their loyalty to their team, it lacks any sharpness, genuine farce and a movie that deserves a better casting than what has been served up. It's a coincidence as a comedy film Celtic Pride has little of that thing - pride.

Final Verdict:

As '90s comedies go, this is one of the worst I've watched and one of the least amusing and as basketball movies go, this wasn't as entertaining and enjoyable as I found it to be.

With better leads compared to Daniel Stern, Dan Ackroyd and Damon Wayans and a funnier, wittier and far more charming script, Celtic Pride would flourish more. An interesting premise goes nowhere and with a darkish, unbalanced tone, in addition to being devoid of laughs, this is all hot air and very little substance.

Apatow may be an accomplished director in some ways, but here, it just seems he hasn't had a clue how to go about the idea and premise, with an approach that is just not suitably fitting for a mainstream-based comedy.


Thursday, 3 January 2019

Retro Review: The God Of Cookery (1996) #Hongkongcinema

The God of Cookery aka Sik san
Cast: Stephen Chow, Karen Mok, Vincent Kok, Lee Siu-Kei, Law Kar-ying
Genre: Comedy
Hong Kong Box Office Gross: over $15 million

Plot: The most renowned and feared chef in the world loses his title of  ''God of Cookery'' because of his pompous attitude. Humbled, he sets out to reclaim the title

'A Bit Of A Feast & Foodie Delight'

A film that is essentially a riff on God of Gamblers starring Chow Yun-Fat, The God of Cookery is a culinary comedy from Hong Kong whereby the laughs, though not as rapid-fire and consistent as they come, it is a film that much like with the central character is trying to find and perfect its stride. It's about a guy who is at an all-time high: successful, but cocky, but when he endures his lows, he becomes less vain, tries to pick himself up and to do better - yet is more human.

& when it eventually does by the final act, it makes sense. It's a story of redemption involving chef, Chow who takes on the mantle of an arrogant who thinks he is a know-it-all chef and deems himself untouchable and undefeatable to his rivals and to anyone who challenges him for the throne of 'God of Cookery', staging elaborate contests and flashy reality shows just to show off. He even disgraces himself by fixing a contest, in order to publicise and boost his image, which becomes tainted when the truth is out. When a former student of Chow's humiliates him in front of his peers and the media, Stephen Chow's Chow beats a sudden retreat, finding refuge at a Shaolin Temple that doubles up as a cooking school, and from there on, perfects and hones his culinary skills and thus exacting his vengeance, as well as redemption on his part in his bid to reclaim his title. With an unlikely ally in Sister Turkey: an outspoken street food vendor and chef, played by Karen Mok, who is given the ugly duckling treatment in the looks department, Sister takes no crap from anyone. That, and she makes a pretty mean Barbecue Pork and Egg with rice (Char Siu, Gai Dan Faan as it's known in Chinese Cantonese) too. Her and Chow then team up to create two dishes: Beef Balls and P***ing Shrimp, with the last dish making a positive impression on his friends and it rekindles Chow's love and passion for cooking, giving him the confidence to beat his rival, Tong in the God of Cookery cooking competition.

It's a mixture of Iron Chef with Chow's deadpan talky comedy. Stephen Chow's comedy style is very satirical, brusque and deadpan in nature that is kind of akin to say, perhaps Steve Martin, Rowan Atkinson and Bill Murray, with his movies that veer from slapstick to melodramatic tragedy to comedy. It also reminds me of the anime Cooking Master Boy, which has a similar-ish plot but with a young boy, in place of the adult. Compared to Shaolin Soccer, it lacks a bit of polish, although the structure kind of plays out similarly to Kung Fu Hustle and as the film went on, the better and more interesting the story became.

The comedy itself, may not be to everyone's tastes and will take a while to get used to for some; for me, there wasn't one single gag that didn't have me laughing, smiling or chuckling. The laughs weren't ''ha-ha-ha'' funny, but sporadic and consistent, but I wouldn't say that I had a straight face throughout, either, and yet much of the humour feels fresh. Being familiar with Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer, thankfully, the humour in The God Of Cookery is definitely along the same eccentric & eclectic lines as those movies. 

Final Verdict:

Any film that has food as a main or sub-theme must include numerous shots of good-looking dishes and food items, and The God of Cookery doesn't disappoint. Just by looking at those images would make one salivate & hungry, like I was.

If you enjoyed Kung Fu Hustle and Shaolin Soccer, then be sure to take a dive with this one.


Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Retro Review: Big Momma's House (2000)

Big Momma's House
Cast: Martin Lawrence, Nia Long, Paul Giamatti, Terrence Howard, Anthony Anderson, Tichina Arnold, Octavia Spencer, Cedric The Entertainer
Genre: Action Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $173 million

Plot: In order to protect a beautiful woman and her son from a robber, a male FBI agent disguises himself as a grandmother 

'Throw This Momma Off The Train'

Though Big Momma's House is lauded as a broad comedy, much in the vein of say, Mrs Doubtfire and 1996's The Nutty Professor, compared to the former, there is practically very little here that constitutes as being funny and humourous with a heartwarming and engaging feel. That, and unlike Robin Williams, Martin Lawrence's comedic range movie-wise, it can be argued, is limited with him playing fast-talking, energetic straight man characters. During his TV sitcom, Martin, he manages to ratchet up the silliness but since he transitioned towards films, it is as such his comic physicality and improv work gets lost. He's not as effective playing it straight, but even as a funny guy he underwhelms. In Big Momma's House, it's more of a case of him being funny, but most of the gags are just either tired, unfunny or poorly conceived. & his voice that he puts on as Big Momma becomes grating.

FBI agent, Malcolm Turner and his partner, Jon are sent to spy on a house belonging to a woman going by the acronym of Big Momma in a little town in Georgia. A bank robber, Lester has got out of prison, & presumably trying to track down his estranged ex-girlfriend, Sherry, who is in everyone else's eyes, is his accomplice, and who has probably stolen the money too. Sherry shows up at Big Momma's house and with that, Malcolm poses as big momma - with the real big momma leaving town. From here, he tries to protect Sherry, whilst also keeping a lookout for Lester, but as he does, Malcolm develops feelings for Sherry.

Oscar-winning make-up effects artist, Greg Cannom, who worked on Mrs Doubtfire, lends his efforts in the prosthetics department and large constructed fat suits and whilst physical humour, pratfalls are considered the cheapest forms of laughter as they pander towards the lowest common denominator, in many cases, for me, in Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, Leslie Nielsen, they still entertain and put a smile on face. And as equally important, I understand, get and enjoy their humour.

But besides the poor slapstick and humour (one involving an almost tasteless toilet bowel scene reminiscent of the one in Dumb & Dumber), the storyline doesn't make inroads and the rest of the performances are as one-note, bland and are terribly underwritten. Paul Giamatti, Nia Long, Terrence Howard, especially; the trio of whom can be great performers in their other films, - and yet they are heedlessly cast in throwaway roles. There is nothing new here that hasn't been attempted or done before elsewhere; from the man in drag act, as seen in Tootsie, Mrs Doubtfire to the cop formula executed in other and better cop-based comedies and movies. & contrary to some, Martin Lawrence has done drag before, as Shaniqua in the sitcom, Martin and as over-the-top and barmy as his turn is in that show, the series made better use of Martin Lawrence's talents. As Big Momma, it doesn't work that well and beneath the make-up, there is nothing else to support it and the prosthetics by Greg Cannom on Lawrence's momma doesn't look as impressive as Robin Williams's Mrs Doubtfire. Mrs Doubtfire looks indistinguishable from Robin Williams, but Big Momma looks way too much like Martin Lawrence. That, and unlike Tootsie's Michael as Dorothy and Mrs Doubtfire's Daniel, I never really bought Martin as Malcolm dressed up as Momma as a woman. 

I dig low-brow comedy films but this was one hell of a dud, the laughs and comedy moments are so scattered and so few with most of the slapstick and jokes not landing as well as they should've. The chemistry between Martin Lawrence and Nia Long didn't come through for me, with Nia in particular, who looks out of place here; whereas with Martin, whilst comedy is his forte, he just hasn't been in a solo-led outing effort that tests his worth as a comedic actor.

Martin Lawrence's attempts to become the so-called Eddie Murphy from the 1990s into the 2000s fizzled out and yet despite being one of the producers of this film, it was a surprise, not forgetting it is disappointing that he doesn't manage to do, add or try different things. There is nothing here that I haven't seen elsewhere; it just recycles the same cliches and stuff from Mrs Doubtfire, Tootsie and the film itself becomes less entertaining and a mundane bore. 

Alas, Big Momma's House is flabby and whilst this film and several others garnered him millions at the box office, Martin Lawrence, didn't and even to this day, still hasn't reached the movie megastar potential that once made fellow stand-up comics, Eddie Murphy & Robin Williams household names in the 1980s with the former and 1990s with the latter.

Final Verdict:

As drag comedies go, this turns out to be a thoroughly stale, weak, undemanding and underwhelming comedy that comes across as being too busy at setting up each cheap sketch piece next to each other. It just doesn't feel like a comedy film. 

Whereas Tootsie and Mrs Doubtfire were both ambitious, alongside memorable turns by Dustin Hoffman, Jessica Lange for Tootsie and Robin Williams for the latter, they had just enough charm to coast through and to make the man-in-drag act work..... Big Momma's House, unfortunately, takes this formula and still, there just wasn't enough feel-good and laugh-out-loud, outlandish moments to make it more watchable. 

This was a lull fest.


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