Movie review – A trio of duos who pack a punch

2013-08-25 14:00

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There are three choices at the movies this weekend, each from a director with points on the past box-office scoreboard. Gayle Edmunds helps you pick a partner for the weekend

1. The Heat

The duo: Sandra Bullock is a consummate comedienne. Remember While You Were Sleeping and Miss Congeniality? Here, she gets her funny bone on with the help of Melissa McCarthy, who is the next generation of funny American women.

McCarthy rocked Bridesmaids and this one will make you forgive her for the yucky Identity Thief. They make a box office blitzing pair.

The crew: Paul Feig, who cut his teeth directing series such as Arrested Development and The Office, made his presence felt on the big screen with Bridesmaids and though he’s a bloke, he pulls this “chick buddy flick” off with aplomb.

The upshot:Bullock is Ashburn, a highly effective and arrogant FBI agent. McCarthy is Mullins, a no-nonsense cop who always gets her man.

When whisperings of a big drug lord emerge from Boston, Ashburn arrives to take over, but she finds that Mullins is no pushover and they have to work together.

The verdict: It is funny, really laugh-out-loud funny, and Feig keeps the poo joke contained. Sure, there are sexists jokes, but this time the joke is on the sexist.

A fun night out at the movies.

Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy

Movie credits

Film: The Heat (Nu Metro)

Director: Paul Feig

Featuring: Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Demián Bichir and Marlon Wayans

Rating: 7/10

2. The Reluctant Fundamentalist

The duo: Liev Schreiber is currently doing the dirty work in TV’s Ray Donovan and his turn in The Manchurian Candidate was chilling. British-born Riz Ahmed made his big screen debut in Michael Winterbottom’s The Road to Guantanamo. These two brew up an antagonism that always carries the film to success.

The crew: Mira Nair is the creator of two of my favourite films – Monsoon Wedding and The Namesake. She is gifted at balancing her characters in two worlds, one usually of tradition, the other of change. But I didn’t like this film. It was dull and the pacing was off.

The upshot: Schreiber is the journalist sent to interview a suspected terrorist. Ahmed is the subject of that interview, who is also a former Wall Street tycoon and is currently professor at a university in Lahore. While they to and fro in a tea shop, a hostage drama plays out and Ahmed tells the story of his rise and rise in pre-9/11 America, and how the towers brought down his certainty about his life.

The verdict: If you can forgive the uneven pacing and long-windedness to see through to Nair’s exploration of how 9/11 spread a disease of suspicion and changed the way people viewed ethnicity and religion first in every circumstance, then go.

Liev Schreiber and Riz Ahmed

Movie credits

Film: The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Nu Metro)

Director: Mira Nair

Featuring: Liev Schreiber, Riz Ahmed, Kiefer Sutherland and Kate Hudson

Rating: 6/10

3. Pain & Gain

The duo: Mark Wahlberg has come a long way since he was an underwear model. These days he’s producing his own films, starring in them and heading for a quarter-billionaire title. Dwayne Johnson was a wrestler who acted a bit. Now he’s an actor who wrestles on the side. His range is limited, but his character here is too.

The crew: Michael Bay has been upfront in some serious franchises – Transformers and Bad Boys, for example.

The trouble with getting a broadstrokes director to adapt a true-crime story is that it lacks nuance. Like the machines in Transformers, his cast ends up smashing stuff up. In the end though, the audience hasn’t got a handle on why.

The upshot: Based on the true story of Daniel Lugo, a Miami body builder who wants to live the American Dream but doesn’t fancy working for it, this is a bloody and unpleasant tale of Lugo’s plan to take it from a rather unpleasant man. Anthony Mackie also gets to lift the dumbbell in this festival of stupid.

The verdict: When you are telling the (buffed up) version of a true-crime story and you want to be flippant, get a director who can pull it off.

Dwayne Johnson and Mark Wahlberg

Movie credits

Film: Pain & Gain (UIP)

Director: Michael Bay

Featuring: Mark Wahlberg, Dwayne Johnson, Anthony Mackie and Tony Shalhoub

Rating: 5/10

» Follow me on Twitter @GayleMahala

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