COMEDY YOU AGAIN (U) 105min ●●●●●
Wedding chaos comedies are a Hollywood staple and they get a middling reworking in Andy Fickman’s You Again, with just enough catfights and frocks to appeal to the 27 Dresses crowd. Back in 2002, poor high school
loser Marni (Forgetting Sarah Marshall’s Kristen Bell) is constantly in the shadow of cheerleading captain JJ (Odette Yustman). Eight years later, Marni is a successful businesswoman, horrified to find that her older brother Will (James Volk) is getting married to her old enemy. Marni’s mother Gail (Jamie Lee Curtis) initially tries to calm things with a ‘forgive and forget’ philosophy quickly abandoned when JJ’s aunt Ramona (Sigourney Weaver) shows up. Ramona was Gail’s own nemesis at high school, so Marni sets out to sabotage the wedding.
COMEDY/ROMANCE/ANIMATION MARY AND MAX (12A) 92min ●●●●● So who’s up for an Australian claymation feature dealing with loneliness, bullying, obesity, suicide and mental illness? No? Well, that’s a crying shame, as writer/director Adam Elliot, who won an Oscar for short Harvie Crumpet in 2003, has fashioned unlikely material into a minor miracle of wit, humanity and compassion.
colour, Mary and Max’s depiction of two humble loners struggling with their considerable personal hang-ups might sound like hard going, but it’s anything but a downer. Sporting a well-chosen soundtrack featuring the Penguin Café Orchestra and some familiar classical music plus warm narration from Dame Edna herself, Barry Humphries, Elliot artfully steers clear of pathos, instead filling the screen with dark humour and a highly detailed animated style that’s a joy to watch.
Fickman’s The Game Plan
Reworking the ‘pen-friends-who-never-meet’ Coming on like a Mike Leigh film animated by Tim
demonstrated a gift for lowbrow slapstick well suited to the Disney/Touchstone template. But first time writer Moe Jelline’s script never gets deeper than slapstick pratfalls, and You Again fizzles into mediocrity despite a slew of amusing cameos, including Patrick Duffy, Catherine Bach, Cloris Leachman, wrestler- turned-actor Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and a familiar comic turn from Betty White as Marni’s granny. (Eddie Harrison) ■ General release from Fri 12 Nov.
structure of 84 Charing Cross Road, Elliot’s film opens with an eight-year-old Melbourne girl, Mary (initially voiced by Bethany Whitmore, then Toni Collette), who begins a stop-star epistolary friendship with Max (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a middle-aged, morbidly obese New Yorker suffering from Asperger’s syndrome. Despite the disapproval of Mary’s feckless parents, and with little in common other than a love for their favourite cartoon show The Noblets, the misfits begin a 20-year friendship which transcends their own isolated personal circumstances, although the two never come into direct contact until the predictable, but profoundly moving final scene. Shot in monochrome with only occasional flashes of
Burton, Mary and Max’s fearless tackling of adult issues might seem inappropriate for children, but only the most prudish could take offence. Filling his frame with elaborate visual jokes, including some delightfully camera-hogging birds, Elliot has created a parable that nails the bruising, nurturing, forgiving nature of a true friendship. The moral, that we can’t chose our relatives, but we can chose our friends, might be obvious from the start, but even the most hard-hearted cynic will find themselves fumbling for their handkerchiefs as Mary and Max moves towards an inevitable, saddening, yet somehow uplifting conclusion. (Eddie Harrison) ■ Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Fri 5–Tue 9 Nov; GFT, Glasgow, Sun 5–Tue 7 Dec.
HORROR/DRAMA LET ME IN (15) 116min ●●●●●
Just two years after the adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel Let the Right One In was turned into a hit Swedish film by Tomas Alfredson comes the American take on the story and it’s a striking if mildly uneven adaptation. Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) sets the film in the 1980s, and although the
Rubik’s Cube and arcade games do make an appearance, Reeves manages to create an authentic look at the period that avoids kitsch. Some of his smarter choices are made with the soundtrack and the decision to not just focus everything exclusively on the 1980s – architecture from the 50s and clothes from the 70s also feature.
The story takes the same simple premise of a bullied school kid Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee from The Road) striking a friendship with a new neighbour Abby (Chloe Moretz from Kick Ass), who is a creature of the night. Reeves places more emphasis on suspense and horror and the prominent adult is the detective following the case (Elias Koteas looking every inch the stereotypical 70s cop) rather than the older man (Richard Jenkins) that Abby lives with. As can be expected from American cinema aimed at a mainstream audience the hint of paedophilia in the novel has been squashed, as has been a lot of the angst and confusion displayed by the children has also been eradicated. Where it does fall down is with some very poor CGI. Reeves vampires look
terrible when they attack and perhaps he would have done better to follow the Cloverfied template and have the action take place off screen. (Kaleem Aftab) ■ General release from Fri 5 Nov. See profile, index.
42 THE LIST 4–18 Nov 2010