August 22, 2008
This week's so-so comedies
Two movies come out today that I've been waiting to see: Hamlet 2 and The House Bunny. Both of them got pretty lukewarm reviews, but hey, so did Pineapple Express and Tropic Thunder, and those were still worth seeing. These two new ones have at least a few things going for them.
Critics are saying that Hamlet 2 is badly structured, uneven, and a lot of the jokes fall flat. But OK, look: it's got Steve Coogan, Catherine Keener, David Arquette, and Amy Poehler as an ACLU lawyer named Cricket Feldstein. And my old favorite Elisabeth Shue. It can't be all bad, right?
A.O. Scott would have been the best Times reviewer, but instead we got Stephen Holden, who as usual spends most of his review recounting the plot. David Edelstein doesn't love it, but says Steve Coogan is riveting, and the movie "gets points for weirdness." Kenneth Turan over at the LA Times says "the hits are so dead-on that the misses don't seem to matter." Good enough for me.
It looks like there's only one reason to see The House Bunny: Anna Faris. The intensity of critical love she gets for this movie is almost at post-Lost in Translation Bill Murray levels. Sure, the movie is a rehashed Legally Blonde (same writers and everything) but she's got the knack for playing the goofy smart-dumb hot girl who will do anything for a laugh. "All hail, Anna Faris, fake bimbo par excellence", from the Times. And the folks at IFC wrote a gushing piece about how great she is. Thank God this role went to someone really funny and not Kirsten Dunst.
Dana Stevens at Slate stresses that the movie is about as empowering to women as "My Super Sweet 16", but is glad to see enough funny material for Faris to "hint at a well of anarchic, defiantly ungirly humor that her career thus far has barely begun to tap." And, for what it's worth, Kurt Loder loves it, and swears it's hilarious even though it's formulaic. There have already been a few letdowns in this year's big summer comedies, so we need it.
Anna Faris co-stars with Seth Rogen in a comedy called Observe and Report next year, so it looks like the big time is about to be hit.
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