Movie 43 (2013)

Movie 43 (2013)

Forgive me Phagelings for I have sinned. I come here humbly seeking your forgiveness for breaking my own commandments. I read other people’s opinions before coming to form my own. I know, it’s a sin tantamount to spitting the wine back after Communion.¬†Heinous behaviour. What’s more, all of the reviews were overwhelmingly negative. And by negative, I mean brandishing the film an abomination not suited for the realm of men. And after seeing Movie 43, I am in need of forgiveness… as is everyone else involved in bringing this bloated mess of a film to our screens.

Just look at this list for a second... Look at it.

Just look at this list for a second… Look at it.

Well, I think that sets the tone well for the rest of this review right? You’re in no way confused about where I’m taking this. Movie 43 is quite simply one of the worst films committed to celluloid. But I ignored the prophecising from other reviewers and Rotten Tomatoes. How could a film that featured such an overwhelmingly fantastic cast be doomed to fail? It was like the Lehman Brothers of the film world. You’re factoring in A-listers such as Richard Gere, Kate Winslet, Gerard Butler, Hugh Jackman, Naomi Watts… and the list goes on. And on. And on. So how can a comedy film like this turn out to be a dud? By having absolutely no laughs and nothing to get excited about.

This is my pose for the whole of the film. Yes Richard, you should be hiding away.

This is my pose for the whole of the film. Yes Richard, you should be hiding away.

Movie 43‘s very loose plot toys around with a group of kids looking for a fabricated film called Movie 43 to prank a younger brother. But as they delve into the depths of the internet they discover some very weird and odd movies that are already out there. These weird movies feature a date between Kate Winslet and Hugh Jackman where Jackman has a scrotum grafted to his neck, but no-one can see it but here, and a skit about Johnny Knoxville capturing a leprechaun (Gerard Butler) for Sean William Scott to make up for sleeping with his girlfriend. I know right? Pure comedy gold. Not really.

The problem with the film is two-fold: 1) it’s not funny, and 2) it’s pure nonsense. Let’s deal with point 1 first shall we? As regular readers will know, The Phage is British. Over here in the UK we have a very dark sense of humour that most Americans can’t comprehend. Our humour is awkward, situational and sometimes grossly offensive. All of this is fine in my books – it just works and makes me laugh. However, Movie 43 takes the last part of that tripos and ratchets it up to 12. It’s so¬†puerile and offensive that even I sat there thinking “wow… that’s crossed the line”. My line is a dot in the distance, but it still raced over there, spat on it, and jumped over. Probably making some weak fart joke as it went. The jokes were hokey and were probably best suited to a 5 second gag on some other terrible TV sketch show. The phrase that came to mind for a lot of these “pieces” was flogging a dead horse. It make its weak attempt at a joke and then drove it into the ground so much that it was nothing but dust. Horribly unfunny dust.

I felt like crying too Emma. It's OK, don't fret...

I felt like crying too Emma. It’s OK, don’t fret…

And let’s jump to number 2. I can also tolerate a nonsensical plot. I’m not averse to it. Sometimes comedies just have a ludicrously dumb plot: Dude! Where’s My Car? is self-explanatory, Freddy Got Fingered is just dumb and Dumb and Dumber is about taking a suitcase to a girl in Aspen. They don’t have to be rocket science. But the overarching “plot” was as bad as the faux-films they were watching. It just had no redemptive qualities whatsoever. OK, I tell a lie – the one time I laughed was during the credits’ outtakes. So credit to you Johnny Knoxville and Sean William Scott for breaking my icy veneer.

Then, to add insult to injury… the film just keeps going. You reach the outtakes and reflect on how you’ve just squandered 90 minutes of your life in a cinema when you could have been staring at a curbstone in the car park instead, but then it just… keeps… going. Another sketch is thrust into your retinas about some bizarre animated cat and how much it hates Elizabeth Banks. Why? What have I done to deserve this?

Yeah, I think you can keep that Oscar speech in your pocket for the foreseeable future.

Yeah, I think you can keep that Oscar speech in your pocket for the foreseeable future.

And let’s get one thing straight here: I’m not an uptight Brit. If I am, then so too is everyone else in the audience that was duped into spending their cash watching this train wreck of a film. If you think back to last year, you’ll remember our worst film of the year: Keith Lemon The Film – we even gave it our 2012 Phagee Award for being so awful. Well, Movie 43 is its American big brother. Sure, its cameos are from international film stars and it looks a hell of a lot slicker, but underneath the veneer its the same horrible, bent-out-of-shape mess of a movie…

As you can probably tell, Movie 43 isn’t our hottest pick of the year. In fact, I’d already mark it up for being the worst movie of 2013 and we’re only in February. The film will solely appeal to 12 year old boys who think jokes about periods, crap and scrotums are literally the funniest thing they’ve ever seen. No doubt it’ll become like Playboy or Penthouse and will be passed around under desks on a burnt DVD so everyone can be in on the joke. But at least Playboy or Penthouse would teach them sometime about life.

But what about the rest of us with a mental age of at least 14? Well, my simple advice would be to wait until the film’s released on DVD. Find it. Don’t buy it. And possibly slash the case so it gets returned to the warehouse to prevent someone from seeing it. Imagine it’s the tape from The Ring. You wouldn’t want anyone to suffer would you? Because then you too would be seeking forgiveness. Not for breaking commandments or for starring in one of the worst films of the decade, but for dooming someone to 90 minutes of sonic and visual abuse. In fact, give them the tape from The Ring instead. You’ll have less to feel guilty about.

Phage Factor:

0.5 Stars

The Impossible (2013)

The Impossible (2013)

Sometimes I think that all of this exposure to disaster-themed movies should make us all pretty prepared for the inevitable catastrophic event that will affect our lives: the zombie apocalypse. We’ve seen survivors flee from rage-fuelled fiends in 28 Days Later, people battle the world’s most rapidly changing climate in The Day After Tomorrow and even survive a hulking great asteroid hitting the Earth in Deep Impact. Hell, all Elijah Wood needed in that last one was a bike! He could outrun the oncoming tidal wave. In short: disaster epics are nothing new. What is a bit more novel is the use of the 2004 tsunami that devastated South East Asia – enter The Impossible.

The Impossible is based on the true story of a family that was in the wrong place at the wrong time on 26th December 2004. Here the family are portrayed by Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts as husband and wife Henry and Maria, and Tom Holland, Samuel Joslin and Oaklee Pendergast as Lucas, Thomas and Simon: their three children. Ultimately, the tsunami tears the family in two, separating Henry and Maria beginning them on a desperate quest to find their children and each other in the tsunami-ravaged coastal areas of Thailand. And what a story it is.

The Impossible (2013)

Before I get drawn into the plot and acting, what really must be talked about first is the cinematography and shooting of the tsunami scenes. Quite frankly it’s amazing how these guys pulled this off. You never get the feeling that this is the work of camera trickery or some elaborate staging – it just feels real. This is especially noticeable when the camera shoots from high above so you can see the wave ripping through the hotels and houses like a red hot knife through butter. It’s truly astounding.

But what really struck me about the movie was how emotional it was. The Phage is never one to let his emotions get the better of him at the movies – he’s cold and remorseless. Well, he has been ever since he cried when Jenny died in Forrest Gump when he was a lot younger. That was a sad moment! But since then? A heart like stone. Having said all that, I’m not afraid to say that The Impossible really stirred up those emotions. I defy anyone to not feel touched by some of the scenes in this film. I don’t have little Phagelings running around, so I’m not even a parent – therefore the emotional damage has got to be exacerbated for any parents ¬†watching this film too.

Look out for this scene... it's a heartbreaker.

Look out for this scene… it’s a heartbreaker.

What brought up these emotions? Sheer acting talent. Naomi Watts is acting her chops off in this film – you really feel her desperation and also wince with every one of her injuries as she struggles to track down some sense of normality. An utterly convincing performance that surely has to be in with a nod in this week’s Oscars nominations. However, credit also has to go to Ewan McGregor here too. The scene that really tore my heart to pieces was one of him managing to make telephone contact with a relative back home. His delivery of the ensuing speech could not be more emotional and evocative. It really feels as if both McGregor and Watts had tapped into the events of the day and really translated those emotions for the camera. Furthermore, at the opening of the film I was ready to dismiss all of the child actors as “caricatures” and “not Pierce Gagnon“, but even they really came into their own as the film progressed.¬†Although Tom Holland is arguably given the bigger slice of camera time as the eldest brother Lucas, all three really round out the picture well and capture the innocence, sadness and anger that comes with separation.

I should hope that it’s quite obvious from the fact that it’s based on a true story that someone at least survives the tsunami. After all, who would tell the story if the entire family was wiped out? No-one. Having said that, finding out exactly who survives and how they manage this is truly enthralling. I must confess that I approached this film with some trepidation because I couldn’t see how a film about separation could sustain my interest over its two hour run time. All of these feelings soon disappeared by the time the wave hit; owing in no small part to the performances on screen and the riveting story. As I’ve said countless times before, it’s sometimes the true stories that seem even more unbelievable than those cooked up by banks of writers in Los Angeles.

The Impossible (2013)

Sure, the story’s been tweaked a little by director¬†Juan Antonio Bayona to give it that on-screen flare and drama, but at its core you can’t help but buy into the fear and trauma of these individuals. And although some of the third act scenes feel slightly too forced and almost cartoon-esque with its near-encounters (you’ll see what I mean), the film is testament to some fantastic film making and really capturing the story of those that were part of this natural disaster and also delivering a story that can never be told by so many others that were taken by it.

The Impossible is an emotionally devastating piece of film making that should be applauded for its technical prowess, as well as its performances. All five of the actors portraying the family really captured the sheer desperation and angst that must have been felt by those that were there on that day. I’m not normally one to buy into films that are so flagrantly emotional, but The Impossible really hit all the right notes and truly is a life affirming film – it’s not just a¬†clich√©d¬†expression used on posters.

So although my years of training for the end of the world has been delivered by years of exposure to Hollywood and its tales of doom, I don’t know how I’d actually fare if the time ever came. Except for zombies of course… I always have Zombieland to teach me how to survive that particular conclusion. The solution? Double tap the ghoul, remember that zombies can’t climb and just go and hang out with Bill Murray for a bit. Maybe try and convince him to take that role in Ghostbusters III too.

Phage Factor:

4.5 Stars