Meewella | Critic

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Tag: John C. Reilly

QuickView: Stan & Ollie (2018)

“I’ll miss us when we’re gone.”

Oliver Hardy

Stan & Ollie is a wonderful portrayal of the friendship between the comedy duo Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. This is not a standard biopic, eschewing the pair’s rise to worldwide fame and instead focusing on a grueling UK stage tour long after their peak. The whole endeavour relies upon the performances of Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly, filled with warmth and the weight of such a long-running partnership, as well as being brilliantly observed as the actors recreate a number of the duo’s classic acts. It would be easy to overplay the emotional moments between two performers who were, by their nature, larger than life — what makes the film so moving is knowing when understated subtlety is more effective.


QuickView: Cyrus (2010)

Cyrus poster

“Been in kind of a dark, existential place, to tell you the truth and then… I met your mom.”


The marketing and casting of Cyrus created expectations for an offbeat comedy, confusing audiences who received more of an unsettling indie flick, written and directed by Jay and Mark Duplass. John C. Reilly and Jonah Hill both offer surprising performances, Hill through understated creepiness, whilst Reilly flexes his nuanced acting abilities in the role of an affable, neurotic and world-weary man with hints of the star turn he would take a few years later in Wreck-It Ralph. Marisa Tomei deftly makes the unusual central relationships believable. The film flounders structurally, taking over an hour of its 91-minute running time to set up the conflict between John and Cyrus, leaving its final act feeling hurried and lacking in any real depth. On the other hand, the time devoted to John and Molly’s relationship ensures that the audience remains invested in its success. Cyrus flirts with a darker tone but never really commits, resulting in a pleasantly unusual film without the edge it might have had in different hands.


QuickView: Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Kong: Skull Island poster

“Kong’s god on the island, but the devils live below us.”

Hank Marlow

An unexpected mash-up of Jurassic Park 3 and Apocalypse Now results in a brash big-budget B-movie but it does nothing for its titular character beyond scaling him up to 300 feet. We see Kong express both rage and protectiveness, but there is little nuance to the giant ape. Even Rampage imbued its giant ape with some depth, but here Kong is a force of nature reacting to human intrusion. Those humans are a diverse team of scientists and specialists escorted by soldiers fresh out of the Vietnam War, though there is no substance to the numerous nods to Apocalypse Now — it serves more as an in-joke. The audience perspective is that of Tom Hiddleston’s SAS-turned-tracker and Brie Larson’s photojournalist, both of whom treat Kong with the requisite awe and respect. The remaining characters serve largely as interchangeable fodder for the island’s creatures. I can’t recall seeing credits open with a concept artist but plainly Skull Island’s varied fauna owe a debt to Crash McCreery’s designs. The producers’ end goal is clearly next year’s Godzilla vs Kong and, based on the special effects in Skull Island, one can expect it to deliver on spectacle at the very least (and, likely, at most).


QuickView: Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018)

Ralph Breaks the Internet poster

“Great, but can you make it a little more challenging this time?”


The problem with a sequel to a movie in which the main characters had substantial character arcs is that there is often nowhere left to go. At the end of the previous film, Ralph and Vanellope had both made peace with their roles in their respective game worlds. This time round, Ralph seeks only to maintain the status quo while Vanellope wants to explore the wider world of the Internet. The result is a story about friends growing apart and how friendships can still be maintained through tumultuous changes if people are honest and supportive of one another’s feelings. For children who have grown a few years since the first movie, this may be a useful message. Parents, however, are likely to find considerably less nostalgic humour in the film’s visual representation of the Internet than in Wreck-It Ralph‘s take on the heyday of arcade games. The strongest scenes still occur when John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman are able to bounce off one another (unusually they recorded their lines together) but their effectiveness is constrained as Ralph and Vanellope spend large portions of the sequel apart.


QuickView: Tale of Tales (2015)

Tale of Tales quad poster

“You want a child? A violent desire such as yours can only be satisfied with violence.”


Adult-orientated fantasy adapted from the stories of Italian poet Giambattista Basile, Tale of Tales serves as a reminder that there is nothing inherently infantile about fairy tales in their purest form. An unkindly reductive description might be Eurotrash fairy tales, between Vincent Cassel’s debaucherous king, the jealous motherly love of Salma Hayek’s queen and a clowning Toby Jones (who did, after all, attend the school of Jacques Lecoq in Paris). To the extent that there is a running thread between the various stories, it is that any desire for change in one’s circumstances is inherently violent and has a corresponding cost, whether it is borne by oneself or by others.


"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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