Comedy

October 2020

Patriot S01 (TV)

– Ozark-vibes comedy finds humour in the blackest of places. It fluctuates between highly entertaining and hugely depressing, and its slow pace might be off-putting to some, but it’s pleasingly original.

August 2020

Driven

– Lee Pace is such an underrated actor and this semi-sorta-biography-ish of John DeLorean’s fall from grace deserves a viewing, even though it’s undeniably flimsy and lightweight. File under flippant but fun.

Avenue 5 S01 (TV)

– Despite wincing often, the black humour in the pilot made me laugh enough to watch further, but subsequent episodes were uncomfortably unfunny. Every caricature is taken to its intolerably tiresome extreme; shouty, annoying and puerile. Hard to believe this is from the same great mind as Veep and The Thick of It.

Irresistible

– disappointing, honestly. Poorly named, sententious and nowhere near funny enough to call itself a comedy. Also condescending to just about everyone, especially rural America.

July 2020

Palm Springs

– accepting that it’s ridiculous, unoriginal, and often too crass, this is still a whole lot of fun and silliness, which is entirely what you expect from an Andy Samberg movie. High art? No. Entertaining? Definitely.

Bad Education

– slightly protracted but excellent comedic drama with two stunning lead performances: Allison Janney is genuinely the best in the business and Hugh Jackman is nearly unrecognisable (within reason).

Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)

– surely other people must be getting bored of all this costumed absurdity. Even Margot Robbie can’t save this eye-rollingly wretched display and the cocky humour doesn’t help (Ryan Reynold’s Deadpool has a lot to answer for). Bad doesn’t begin to describe it.

Secondhand Lions

– charming and cheerful children’s tale in the same vein, if not the same league, as Big Fish (which given their shared release year, explains why it might have gone overlooked). Fun but very basic.

Fighting with my Family

– Hammy British comedy biopic about WWF wrestler Saraya Knight is fun but not funny. Fortunately, central duo Florence Pugh and Jack Lowden elevate it a notch above mediocre, but I expected better from Stephen Merchant.

June 2020

Barry S01 (TV)

– I wanted to like this much more than I actually did. While clearly a Bill Hader vanity project, he’s easily good enough to carry it, and in a silly way the plot just about works. The tone is all over the shop though, sometimes slapstick goofball (and unfunny) comedy, sometimes sharply witty, and sometimes quite devastating drama. If it were consistently smarter and funnier, it might work, but as it stands, it falls short.

The Lovebirds

– asinine romcom lucks into a few laughs but is mostly just desperately stupid.

May 2020

La Odisea de los Giles (aka Heroic Losers)

– gentle and understated comedy epitomises everything I love about Latin American movies. Charismatic characters, sensitive and thoughtful direction, and of course, the beautiful language.

April 2020

Bad Boys For Life

– To contrast with the Smiley of Approval, maybe I should introduce a sad face for truly disappointing films. Given my fondly nostalgic memories of its progenitors, this pitiful, unfunny excuse for an action comedy would certainly deserve one. A generous viewer might argue the buddy cop duo themselves at least retain a degree of charisma, but even that’s a stretch. A great shame.

One Cut of the Dead

– I started watching this on the basis of none other than Edgar Wright’s recommendation, and after 20 minutes I was honestly wondering if he was doing a student a favour or something, it was so bad. But this epitomises why I always try to watch a movie to its end. In a heartbeat, it went from one of the worst B-movie attempts at a horror movie looking like a school project, to an actual masterpiece of meta-comedy-horror, and a wonderful show-not-tell of the film-making process, complete with jabs at egos, method actors and the big shot suits demanding the impossible. I can’t think of anything else that illustrates the passion and love behind cinema so well as the second half of this film. I was grinning like a goon. Stick it out.

Onward

– an inept boy struggles to get over the loss of his dad while learning to appreciate his brother in the emotional plot underpinning this animated magic adventure. Whether it works for you is likely to correlate directly with your own family relationships. It’s certainly less adult-friendly than some other Pixar creations, generally eschewing wit and pop culture references in favour of slapstick comedy as it ploughs a familiar feel good groove, reiterating the beloved Hollywood values of family, standing on your own two feet, and facing your fears.

Better Call Saul S05 (TV)

– when brilliant writing meets convincing acting and memorable cinematography is cut with creative direction, you end up with a show as consistently compelling as Better Call Saul. Jimmy has come a long way since we were first introduced to his origin story, but Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould pace his development just right, with barely a foot wrong. Unfortunately, the wrong foot in this season falls in the final episode, which is a real clanger given the deliberate realism of the series so far. This might well be the best show currently on TV though, and over 50 episodes, the occasional misstep can be forgiven.

Ozark S03 (TV)

– though the black witted crime drama remains a cut above most of its competition, this season dips in the middle, returns to retread some old ground, and has a sense of inevitability about it that is dangerously close to tedious. That said, it ends with a bang, the comedy remains laugh out loud at times, and the main cast are as terrific as ever. It’s a shame the writers lean into ’emotional conflict’ so heavily they could be following notes from a university lecture on creative writing. It grates.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

– a masterpiece of creativity and a reminder of why superhero movies ever became popular in the first place. This is a self-referential, hilariously witty and inspiring animated genre mash-up that leaves every other superhero movie looking tired and tropid. A pleasure from start to finish.

March 2020

Guns Akimbo

– Had an absolute blast watching this. Did not expect that. In a similar vein to Zombieland, everything about it is stupid, starting with the premise, through to the tattooed, gleefully whining villain, and including the immature humour. Yet somehow, if you don’t think too hard about it, or think about it at all really, it absolutely works as an overall package, and is massively, embarrassingly, entertaining; a riot.

February 2020

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote

– quite intolerable. The plot is boring, the comedy is rarely amusing and mostly annoying, while the performances are such caricatures they grate within minutes.

Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet (S01) (TV)

– it got off to a cracking start, a lot of laugh aloud moments and great quirky characters. By mid-season though, the smart gag rate was dropping, replaced with hysterics, shouting, and unironic stereotyping. McElhenney is fantastic as Ian Grimm, and the show works best when his heady mix of inspiration and egotism is at its peak. Unfortunately, that’s not often enough. It dragged its way over the season finish line all out of ideas.

January 2020

The Gentlemen

– it is a relief to see such a proficient return to form from Guy Ritchie who delivers an innovative, irreverently funny and fast paced helter-skelter ride featuring his by now trademark one-liner quips, slickly stylised direction, and an hilariously addled narration by Hugh Grant’s oleaginous private investigator. Everyone is at the top of their ham game, and this is an absolute riot.

Zombieland 2: Double Tap

– lacks the pinache and originality of its predecessor and the plot is weak at best, but there are still enough laughs to be had, and the feel good vibe and self referential comedy make for a lighthearted fun few hours.

Stan & Ollie

– they’re good performances from the central duo as Laurel and Hardy, but it’s too focused on their waning years and brittle friendship, so the balance is all off and it’s mostly maudlin and unfunny.

December 2019

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle

– Contender for worst film of 2019, maybe even of the decade. It must be an effort to make a film so thoroughly vacuous.

Jojo Rabbit

– uniquely original war film with a twist is a work of genius from Taika Waititi. It has so much charm, outlandishly daring laugh-out-loud humour, and a top tier cast. Particularly impressive turns from young child stars, Roman Griffin Davis and Thomasin McKenzie – definitely ones to watch.

The Peanut Butter Falcon

– saccherine road trip dramedy about a Down’s syndrome man pursuing his dream of being a wrestler. Heartfelt, charming, but too cheesy and with too much exposition.

The Lion King (2019)

– not so much a reimagining as a realistic, shot for shot remastering of the original, with a few added modernising updates. It remains a two dimensional but heart-warming tale with memorable characters and moments of laugh out loud comedy.

The Dead Don’t Die

– sardonic zombie movie parody plods through all the genre tropes in its efforts to lambast consumerism, but is so dry its unfunny and so glib it’s dull. Far inferior to Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland.

Knives Out

– very funny and enjoyably head-scratching whodunit spoof that laughs at itself and the genre, but still delivers a murder mystery worth unravelling.

November 2019

Ready or Not

– engaging enough absurdist slaughter, but any social commentary underpinning this silly black comedy disintegrates at its conclusion leaving the whole bloody goreathon rather pointless.

The Art of Self-Defense

– this dry, stilted and stubbornly unfunny karate-centred black comedy is weird enough to be oddly compelling, but fails to land a punch.

Good Boys

– the odd line slips through that’s so surprising it’s hilarious, but mostly this isn’t funny enough to distract from the dissonance of seeing the Superbad formula played out by children, without much diluting the crass content.

Late Night

– it’s punctuated by earnest speeches throughout and inevitably burdened by a preachy premise, but its comedy just about survives and, overall, it’s an uplifting experience.

I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson (TV)

– comedy show doesn’t share my sense of humour. After a funny opening skit, the sketches that follow are crass and drawn out.

October 2019

Yesterday

– Richard Curtis’ cheesy love letter to The Beatles (and dig at Oasis) is exactly what you’d expect from the premise. It’s formulaic, the end is beyond cringeworthy, and the most successful bits of comedy (particularly the characters of Rocky and Gavin) feel heavily derivative of Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais, but overall it’s a fairly entertaining romcom.

Long Shot

– your typical Seth Rogen comedy: smug, puerile, self-righteous and generally not as funny as it thinks it is. His groggy, drug-addled shtick is tedious within minutes, the woke moralising on the nose, and their teenage style romance unconvincing.

Aladdin

– adults are clearly not the target audience for this cringeworthy musical adaptation of the classic from Guy Ritchie, but kids will enjoy it, and thankfully, Will Smith offers some light relief as the hammy genie who goes above and beyond.

The Favourite

– whilst certainly a novel regal portrait, Olivia Coleman’s childishly petulant Queen is tiresome to watch, and the crass, stilted dialogue of her courts, presumably aiming for humour, is jarring and at times perilously close to repulsive. A nasty period piece. Not for me.

The Boys S01 (TV)

– wildly original as well as just plain wild, this is a superhero misadventure with more dark twists and psycho kinks than a comicon in a bondage dungeon. The script is often too try-hard, whether in attempts at shock or humour, and the characters and Machiavellian scheming sometimes just too obvious, but as a cocktail, it’s hard not to swallow the lot with a giddy smile and extend the glass for more. Cross Deadpool with Banshee and you’re somewhere close – Antony Starr sure can pick ’em.

September 2019

Shaft (2019)

– three generations of Shaft buck the man and take on the crooks of Harlem in this silly, tongue-in-cheek action remake. Its humour stems from irreverantly playing with questionable notions of masculinity, casual misogyny and millennial bashing, and though it tries to do it with enough swagger that nobody cares, it still feels a few decades too late. Not offensive, just a bit pathetic.

Isle of Dogs

– Like watching tumbleweed float along a barren dirt road, it’s bland and not particularly compelling, but there’s a certain breezy, beautiful charm to it.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

– why I’m still watching these is a valid question, and one I ask myself often. Every now and again, they surprise with an enjoyable few hours. This is one such time. Heavy on the humour and overall, good, silly fun.

The World Is Yours (Le monde est à toi)

– silliness abounds in this French crime farce that follows a bunch of imbeciles trying to pull off a drug deal in Spain. Its stylish direction shows potential, taking obvious cues from Guy Ritchie, but the lunacy is all a bit much.

Once Upon A Time In Hollywood

– Skilled film-making as always from Tarantino, and played with wit and vigour from the all star cast. It doesn’t feel as well-plotted and balanced as some of his other films, more like an extended montage of different genres, but it’s good fun, for sure, and an interestingly self-aware depiction of Hollywood personalities and culture.

Mary Poppins Returns

– the banal becomes a little less banal as the titular childhood icon revisits the Banks family, bringing her imagination-championing philosophy to life with playful and psychedelic dance and song. It looks made for the stage, and feels strangely limited in scope, but Emily Blunt excels as always and it’s hard to imagine children will be disappointed.

August 2019

Parasite

– this unique Korean masterpiece is first and foremost an hilarious black comedy, but more than that, it’s also a searing critique of class and capitalism, stacked full of metaphors and insightful dialogue, that feels simultaneously both horrifyingly prescient and reflective. Genius.

Velvet Buzzsaw

– The snipey, cut-throat world of art is depicted through maladies, melodrama and macabre murders as galleries, buyers, museums and their staff fawn over the newly discovered works of a dead artist. Campy good fun despite despicable characters and an hysterical plot.

Piercing

– atonal film noir plays with expectations without ever meeting or bettering them. Despite an interesting, clinical style with some imaginative direction and a dreamy soundtrack, it sets its sights on sinister black comedy but winds up bafflingly humourless instead.

Stockholm

– crime caper that goes as awry as the faux bank heist it portrays. Without exception the characters are annoying and unlikeable, the direction is uninspired, and while incompetence can be amusing, it is more often infuriating, as it is here. Hugely disappointing.

July 2019

Killing Eve S02 (TV)

– Sadly far inferior to its predecessor, this time it forgoes the cat and mouse excitement for a focus on relationships, resulting in the kind of banal drama found in any other run of the mill TV show. There are enough key ingredients to entertain, but it’s disappointing.

June 2019

Paddleton

– marvellous and masterful drama, powerfully executed with gentle wit and charm. Highly recommended.

Booksmart

– Contender for best film of 2019, certainly best comedy. It’s a straight up female Superbad, shamelessly so – if you wrote the scenes in chronological order next to each other they’d probably line up perfectly – but it succeeds in all the same ways while raising the IQ and bringing the humour more inline with modern standards. Brilliant soundtrack, brilliant acting, brilliant script. Top marks.

The Square

– Endlessly intriguing and hilariously, wonderfully weird. Every time you think it’s reached peak strange, it gets a little stranger still. Unique.

April 2019

Arrested Development S05 (TV)

– not very good at all, and it’s a shame. The comedy’s gag rate is lower and the jokes less successful, historic flashbacks to the childhood of the Bluths don’t work well (as well as being inconsistent with the show), and the narrative has become so convoluted and self-referential as to be confusing. Very disappointing. I think the show is dead.

Veep S07 (TV)

– So darn good. A huge return to form after its somewhat lacklustre and sloppy last series. Laugh out loud comedy multiple times an episode. Great.

March 2019

After Life S01 (TV)

– Gervais carries on his losing streak with a now typical dramedy where the comedy comes second to the laboured and on the nose hardship of his characters. If long-suffering fans are still hoping for a glimmer of the genius shown by The Office and Extras, this will disappoint. The XFM shows and podcast series continue to be mined for jokes, and even without his involvement, Karl’s ideas crop up throughout. Gervais seems to believe crass language is comedic in and of itself, resulting in a script that’s as hard to listen to as his protagonist is to like, his tedious, career-long obsession with atheistic bible-bashing goes on unabated, while the intended redeeming moments of poignancy are so devoid of subtlety or art they feel as lifeless as his character’s dead wife. This is a depressing show, both literally because of its content, and also because it suggests any hope for Gervais to return to his glory days is not worth holding on to.

Us

– certainly unique, but its attempt to balance horror and comedy means neither work particularly well. Different enough to warrant a viewing, but nothing on Peele’s last film, Get Out.

This Time with Alan Partridge S01 (TV)

– while not up to the standard set by old school Alan, this is still a very funny satire with some shrewd and incisive comedy. It definitely tries much too hard, but even the unfunny bits manage to entertain.

Venom

– more enjoyable than most superhero flicks, particularly thanks to the twisted humour and Tom Hardy’s performance, but at the end of the day, it’s as predictable and inevitable as every other in the genre.

February 2019

Private Life

– just straight up wonderful. Hilarious, poignant, emotive, there are so many superlatives that would be suitable to describe this midlife comedy. It’s a masterclass.

Bodied

– this hugely entertaining drama/ comedy about rap battles sends mixed messages, reveling in causing gratuitous offence under the guise of lampooning stereotypes. But while its message might be lost in translation, it still makes for a fun ride.

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia S13 (TV)

– by far their worst season, patchy at best, unfunny and gratuitously gross out at its worst. That said, as always, there are moments that make it worth the viewing, the final scenes of the season finale proving a case in point.

Can You Ever Forgive Me?

– great performances and a witty script keep this drama from mediocrity, but it’s hardly a conversation starter or an attention grabber, so most likely to be enjoyed by patient viewers.

January 2019

The Incredibles 2

– the one eye I watched this with enjoyed it. A fun animation.

Sorry To Bother You

– a dramedy with much to say and the good sense to say it with a sense of humour. Brilliantly original, each time it begins to tread a familiar path, it takes a dark turn into the ever more fantastical. Deserves a thesis, not a few lines of review. Watch it.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

– a droll medley of short stories set in the Wild West, laden with whimsy and black humour. Accusations of pretentiousness would be fair, but curiously, it remains mostly enjoyable, despite its indulgent pace.

Johnny English Strikes Again

– as wonderfully absurd, playful and straight up silly as the last two and just as pleasurable for it. Great fun.

The ABC Murders (TV)

– gratuitous and trashy whodunnit crime thriller with no wit, charm or smarts. The few bits of genuine intrigue remain unsolved at its conclusion, and the murderers motive (and unexplained obsession with Poirot) is farcical to the point of annoyance. Avoid.

December 2018

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia S14 (TV)

– the most disappointing series yet. There are a few giggles along the way, but this feels like the team are phoning it in; a lot of reliance on historic episodes and gross out humour that doesn’t feel earned as it has in past seasons.

A Simple Favour

– a bizarre balancing act between drama and comedy with just enough of each to keep you watching with a bemused look on your face, until the credits roll and leave you questioning what happened to your good judgement.

Parks and Recreation S02 (TV)

– better than the first season, but still massively hit and miss. Some episodes hardly evoke a giggle, others are filled with belly laughs.

November 2018

Parks and Recreation S01

– a mixed bag. Just entertaining enough to keep me watching, but not funny enough to recommend on the basis of this season.

The Lego Batman: The Movie

– equal parts funny and irritating. Maybe more fun drunk and with company.

The West Wing S06

– after a straight up comedy kick off, it settles into a regular beat that is engaging enough, if still far below the Sorkin standard. When characters and actors are as beloved as these, the script and storylines are practically irrelevant – they’re pretty much family at this point.

October 2018

Deadpool 2

– the gag rate is comfortably high enough that when one or two fall flat the next one is already tickling your funny bone, and the ‘meta’ self-awareness works much better than it should. The action sequences are slick, and overall the only downside is the formulaic, stock superhero-movie plot. I think what I’m trying to say is, damn it, but if this isn’t actually quite a good film.

September 2018

Avengers: Infinity War

– the celebrity clique continues their witty repartee even as the galaxy is dismantled around them. The latest superhero adventure is another 150 futile minutes of baffling, headache inducing CGI. It’s like watching a firework display. That said, if video game cut scenes and Marvel lore are your bag, this one will keep you hooked.

BlacKKKlansman

– Spike Lee’s enjoyable race comedy/ drama, a lot of fun, but far too on the nose at times

Who Is America? (TV)

– Crass, irreverent, often plain disgusting, yet this satirical political comedy highlighting the gross prejudices, greed and stereotypes within American society illuminates some extremely uncomfortable truths. It’s not consistently funny, and it’s downright unpleasant to watch at times, but its shocking approach cuts straight to the point and hits home often enough that its misses can be overlooked. Careful who you watch it with though…

Disenchantment S01 (TV)

– not worth pursuing. Either Matt Groening has lost his touch, or this experiment failed. Mostly unfunny, crass and uninspired.

7 Boxes (Siete Cajas)

– fresh and exciting spanish language thriller exploring the chaotic events of one night in a Paraguayan market when a boy is asked to transport 7 crates of unknown merchandise across the town. Brilliant, fast paced and often funny, with a great soundtrack and creative camera work.

August 2018

Verónica

– fairly average spanish horror movie. Not scary in the least, so it fails on that point, but it’s no less entertaining, and some of the script is very humorous, particularly from Verónica’s younger siblings who do an admirable job treading the line between amusing and annoying.

Ghost Stories

– a unique combination of funny and terrifying, with very clever sound and direction and careful scripting. Enjoyed it a lot. Something different.

Paddington 2

– no doubt hugely enjoyable for kids, this isn’t one for the parents too. Slapstick is annoying and Ben Whishaw’s whiney bear is such a goody two shoes it leaves you hoping one of the parlous situations he finds himself in would finally finish him off.

Tag

– Just about passable as fluffy weekend entertainment, but most of the ‘comedy’ is slapstick and infantile in the extreme. The high ratings and positive reviews are misleading.

July 2018

Hidden Figures

– cheesy and on the nose, but good entertainment and classic feel good vibes. Don’t be put off by the subject matter which sounds really dry.

Halt and Catch Fire S04 (TV)

– the first half of this season is quite stunning. It’s funny, sweet, intriguing, full of potential. Then there’s a tonal shift, it becomes ponderous, introspective, monologue after monologue, devoid of ideas and inspiration (much like its characters). If the first three seasons were about progress and moving forwards, this season is preoccupied with regression and the past.

Ocean’s 8

– moderately entertaining, but not a patch on the trilogy that came before. Unfortunately it emulates Ocean’s 11 so closely it feels unoriginal and trite, doing no favours for its screaming effort to be a female showcase for a female audience (Doncha know there’s nothing women love more than shopping, glamour and jewellery?! An ‘A’ for effort Hollywood…)

Identity

– it’s definitely aged since 2003, seeming so over the top now as to border slapstick, but the premise, direction and delivery are all still top notch. A great shame that Cusack hasn’t continued with this standard of work. Great thriller, best watched in your teens!

June 2018

This Is Where I Leave You

– Unengaging and hackneyed dramedy complete with mandatory indie music, adults dabbling with drugs, and puerile gags. Relationships, mistakes, regret, forgiveness, you’ve seen it all before and it’s still not worth the time.

A Very English Scandal (TV)

– Excellent performances and a witty script. Entertaining TV.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

– Enjoyed it as I would more or less any JP movie, but with 90% of the action taking place in one manor house (which is as aesthetically pleasing as a nuclear bunker), it felt pretty one dimensional and tonally uninteresting. The jokes were mostly contrived or fell flat, except for a couple of slapstick bits which got a good laugh. I’d recommend it for a sleepy Sunday, but versus my expectations (and the last movie), it was substandard.

The Detectorists S02 (TV)

– charming, wonderfully lighthearted, and with numerous laugh out loud moments each episode, this second series is perhaps even better than the first. It’s a fantastic script, and the chemistry between McKenzie Crook and Toby Jones has only matured. An excellent comedy.

Goon

– if you have the mentality of a thirteen year old and can tolerate relentless coarsity, unfunny jokes and eye rolling slapstick, then you’ll fare better with this sports comedy than I did. Awful.

April 2018

AP Bio S01 (TV)

– ridiculous and puerile comedy, often reliant on ropey slapstick. Somehow still managed to win me over with it’s asinine charm (and Glenn Howerton). Couldn’t recommend it though.

Coco

– animated musical movie, peak Pixar tear jerker but great fun and very upbeat and feel good.

March 2018

Game Night

– hairbrained comedy thriller. Hardly high art, but this is a mostly enjoyable farce. A good weekend time waster.

The Death of Stalin

– a brilliantly funny premise and promising start becomes a bit tedious by the end reel. Hits and misses, like all of Armando Iannucci’s work.

Mozart in the Jungle (S04)(TV)

– as always, a wacky pleasure. Great music and comedy, and enough off-kilter zaniness to stay original.

February 2018

Black Panther

– race and gender power aside (which admittedly, stands this film head and shoulders above its peers), this is more formulaic superhero guff. I’m calling time on comic blockbusters.

The Shape of Water

– wonderfully different love story fantasy thriller with a video game aesthetic and comic book wit. Brilliantly cast and directed and engaging from start to finish. Michael Shannon is the new Ed Harris.

A Hard Day

– such an absurd film I initially mistook it for a comedy, this Korean action thriller is undeniably stupid but no less compelling.

Alan Partridge’s Scissored Isle

– Good to see Partridge back in action, but this is nowhere near Coogan’s best, just as often tiresome as it is funny. Hopefully the new BBC series will fare better.

Ingrid Goes West

– Stressful, skin-crawling, creepy and unsettling, this is a one of a kind comedy that’s near masterful. Aubrey Plaza is uniquely talented and she delivers a phenomenal performance along with O’Shea Jackson Jr who is instantly winning as her lovable landlord.

Downsizing

– quaint but funny. Many feel it missed the mark, and maybe so, but at the very least it hit the target. Light hearted and enjoyable comedy drama.

January 2018

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

– delicately walking the fine line between black comedy and tragedy, this unexpected drama is wickedly funny, touching and profound.

November 2017

Spider-man: Homecoming

– funny and upbeat with the emphasis where it belongs – on the characters rather than the effects.

El Bar

– often agonisingly difficult to watch, this spanish black comedy thriller is mostly unfunny, gratuitous, and poorly produced. One to avoid.

Atomic Blonde

– arguably stylish, but otherwise dull, humourless, and full of itself, with a cast of unlikeables.

October 2017

Bomb Scared (Fe de Etarras)

– Gentle political and social satire that is vastly better than its disappointing IMDb rating would suggest. Funny and feel good.

The Bad Education Movie

– the one sidesplittingly hilarious scene is probably available on YouTube, and the rest is borderline unwatchable.

The Big Sick

– surprisingly funny and upbeat rom com.

September 2017

The Hitman’s Bodyguard

– ludicrous and slapstick action thriller that unexpectedly entertains. Perfect for a sunday afternoon.

July 2017

Mindhorn

– I really enjoyed this again on a repeat viewing, although it definitely does sag in the middle, and the supporting cast aren’t up to Barratt’s comedic calibre.

Moana

– funny and heartfelt animated drama combining didactic messages of feminism and environmentalism. Worth watching despite the horrifically cheesy music.

Veep S06 (TV)

– The comedy has definitely declined since its early seasons, but there are still enough laugh out loud moments to warrant the viewing time.

Okja

– absurd black comedy pitting the animal liberation front against evil capitalists genetically modifying superpigs. It sounds nuts, it is nuts, and it flits between hilarious and cringeworthy from scene to scene. Hard to seriously recommend, but there’s probably something in here worth watching.

June 2017

To Die For

– incomprehensible how highly regarded this dark comedy is. The main cast all deliver, but the story is unexciting and the direction and music are annoying.

Welcome to the Sticks!

– enjoyable French comedy which relies too heavily on nuanced language gags for an easy translation to English, but just about gets by on the artful slapstick

May 2017

Mindhorn

– hilariously zany, wonderfully British. Top notch comedy with gags that ripen and become more succulent with fond memory.

April 2017

Elle

– as brilliantly funny as it is controversial, this is a powerful social commentary, as well as an exploration of sexuality, control, and the human condition. Unfortunately, it sometimes savours the gratuitous a little more than it needs to, and it could lose some audience as a result.

March 2017

Life on the Road

– one of the most painful cinematic experiences of my life. Scant moments of genuine comedy are overshadowed by constant, agonising cringes. The sea of blank faces that meets every remark David Brent makes, and the astounding lack of humanity demonstrated by everyone who meets him undermines the cheesy upbeat ending, which, when it finally comes, is undeserved and at odds with the overall narrative. A great pity that the film loosely echoes Gervais own story.

February 2017

War on Everyone

– wishes it was a Guy Ritchie thriller with kooky lines and convoluted story, but it’s flat, unfunny, very boring and almost unwatchable. A great shame given the cast.

Jackie

– unsurprisingly humourless but excessively dreary biopic of FLOTUS Jackie Kennedy in the immediate aftermath of JFK’s assassination. Tedious.

He Never Died

– flat, nonsensical and unfunny noir comedy. Highlights the danger of having an unlikeable main character.

January 2017

Killswitch

– interesting documentary, not exactly original in the lines it covers, but very worthwhile. Good to hear such experts speak on the subject of privacy, surveillance and copyright.

A Perfect Day

– brilliantly acted and sensitively portrayed drama about aid workers in the Balkans. Very funny at times. I loved it.

December 2016

The League S01 (TV)

– occasionally hilarious, but just as often tediously puerile. It could serve as good entertainment if you’ve got the time to kill. Sadly, I don’t.

November 2016

Safety Not Guaranteed

– a perfect ten. Beautifully constructed and wonderfully imagined romantic comedy drama with scripting that frequently made me laugh out loud. Grew on me from the opening scenes right through to its powerfully affecting conclusion. Terrific.

October 2016

Sliding Doors

– great soundtrack, unconvincing plot, occasional flashes of genuinely bright comedy. Not the time bending, universe warping sci-fi romcom I had been expecting.

Bridget Jones’s Baby

– not my genre but admittedly very British and very funny. Better than I remember the first two.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople

– such an enjoyable drama comedy; heart warming, beautifully shot, introspective, with great, humourous performances from the small cast. A joy.

September 2016

Requiem for the American Dream

– interesting and important points delivered in a dry and long winded sermon.

Popstar: Never Stop Stopping

– legitimately funny parody of modern pop. It loses its way in the middle, and the jokes aren’t quite consistent enough, but most of the time it raises a solid smile if not a belly laugh.

Captain America: Civil War

– in the top tier of this rash of Superhero movies, but that doesn’t say much. That said, Marvel at least delivers fairly consistent entertainment with a sense of humour, which is more than can be said for DC.

Bastille Day

– this is a classic genre thriller, the plot makes little sense, the circumstances are contrived and 99% of the cast is male. Of the other 1%, one is used as a topless distraction, another is shot, and the third’s a prop for the bad guys. That said, it’s quite good and silly fun and demonstrates why Idris Elba definitely shouldn’t be Bond.

August 2016

War Dogs

– mismarketed as a comedy, this is an engaging, solid drama hamstrung by presentation issues. The narration is often tedious and condescending, and the cheap chapter markers interrupt the film’s flow. Jonah Hill is quite fantastic though. He gets better and better.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

– tedious and unfunny dramedy (as you might expect given the casting)

July 2016

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

– tonally chaotic, and often borderline offensive, there’s nonetheless something about the crass delivery which makes this unlikely romantic comedy very engrossing. One or two minor characters are so startlingly well crafted, they almost negate the awfulness of the sickly leads.

Central Intelligence

– a Return of the King style ending and unfunny cameo substantially detracts from what is, for the most part, a stupid, light hearted and irritatingly enjoyable buddy comedy.

June 2016

The Nice Guys

– wickedly funny detective crime caper. Chemistry between Gosling and Crowe is surprisingly feisty and the script is laden with black humour and unexpected slapstick. Just a great, fun film.

Babylon (TV)

– sort of wannabe The Thick of It for cops. Fast paced with an engaging story, but none of the characters are likeable, and the comedy is often too nasty to raise a smile.

April 2016

Black Mass

– strong acting and cinematography unfortunately don’t compensate for soul, and Black Mass was too dry and dour to be really enjoyable. Worth watching, but don’t expect a thrill ride.

Steve Jobs

– Good performances but this is disappointingly dry and uninspiring. Expected more from Sorkin. Fassbender’s Jobs is like a grumpy Bradley Whitford, the fast talking swagger and ego of Josh Leiman with none of the charismatic charm.

Special Correspondents

– glib comedy of the kind Gervais has become accustomed to producing: few laughs, a lot of groans, a saccharine romance. Even Gervais fans might struggle with this one (or perhaps especially Gervais fans, for whom his steady deterioration is particularly painful).

Daddy’s Home

– this Ferrell Wahlberg comedy has some moments of true hilarity, but suffers from a premise that is stretched far too thin, and the inexplicable need to dilute its genuine comedy with puerile slapstick and toilet humour. Definitely enjoyable, but be prepared to wince a lot.

March 2016

Mystery Men

– idiotic and unfunny.

January 2016

Jessica Jones (S01)(TV)

– dreary, unlikeable and interminable Marvel comic adaptation. Spectacularly failed to deliver after the high standard set by Daredevil S01.

Bandits

– Hugely enjoyable and feel good heist love triangle comedy. Billy Bob Thornton is a joy and the whole film is a lot of fun.

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery

– still funny after all these years. The title sequence alone is one of the best ever made I think.

December 2015

Halt and Catch Fire (S02)(TV)

– As TV goes, I honestly don’t think it gets much better than this. The character of Joe MacMillan is just unrivalled in complexity and depth. Lee Pace is beyond magnetic in the role, he’s electric, and the writers recognise that and use it beautifully. The storylines are broad, sweeping and powerful, skipping triviality in favour of weighty topics that shaped the computing world and the world we live today. The casting is spot on, the acting stupendous. I only hope that AMC top brass realise that this is shaping into one of the best TV series to have graced our screens. Watch it; laugh, weep and fist pump. This is one of a kind.

The Intern

– Sickly, unfunny dramedy. Forgettable, pointless, badly scripted. A waste of time and money. Kind of embarrassing for the cast.

November 2015

The Moaning of Life (S02) (TV)

– Karl is incorrigibly loveable. He has grown greatly over the course of his career, and his ignorance is no longer the comedy. In its place, you have his natural and offbeat wry observations. I can’t get enough.

October 2015

Brooklyn Nine Nine

– highly entertaining, if unabashedly puerile police precinct sit-com. It’s no Sunny in Philly, but it’s a great show to destress to! Short episodes make for easy viewing too.

A Brilliant Young Mind

– Touching and amusingly off-beat coming of age dramedy about an autistic maths whizz and his multiple sclerosis suffering teacher. Innocuous.

September 2015

The Thick of It S01-S04 (TV)

– Riveting and darkly hilarious comedy depicting the internal workings of the UK Ministry of Social Affairs. Brilliant, if occasionally a little too nasty.

Inside Out

– Surprisingly dark pixar animation. Tackling depression and puberty in illustrated form is hardly a barrel of laughs, and likely to go way over the heads of the childhood audience. For adults, however, this is an oddly powerful watch.

Veep (TV) (S01-S04)

– My favourite political comedy with a fantastic cast and incisive script. Every episode has moments of comedy gold and whilst the humour is occasionally malicious (particularly re: workplace bullying), it usually redeems itself within the same episode.

August 2015

Spy

– A couple of genuinely funny moments fail to save this feminist spy farce. As modern hollywood comedies go, it’s sadly the usual fare: a whole heap of puerile slapstick, invective and caricature. Still waiting for the next great American comedy after Superbad (and The Other Guys).

Ted 2

– Brilliantly irreverent and unflinching comedy that doesn’t pull any punches but unfortunately misses as often as it hits. After a classic heavyweight first act, it sags in the middle and deflates towards the end. Overall though, this is highly entertaining with great chemistry and some very smart scripting (in amongst the horrible!)

Mozart in the Jungle

– A terrific, virtuosic performance from Gabriel Garcia Bernal underpins this intelligent, hugely loveable and immensely witty comedy. The music, the scripting, the off-beat humour (often laugh out loud) – everything is timed and tuned to perfection. If I had a criticism, which honestly, I don’t really, it would be that Bernal presents such a powerful and charismatic character that he steals the show every episode, but how I loved to watch him do it! You would be a fool to miss this.

Birdman

– Although over cooked with self-indulgent monologues, this is nonetheless a fascinating and original theatrical dramedy, wickedly directed and boldly acted. The black humour might be a bit dry for some, but when it works, it soars.

The Man from UNCLE

– A tad too deadpan and dry for its own good, this is a witty and stylish, if uncharismatic, thriller. The set pieces are fantastic, but leave the conjunctive scenes sapped of energy.

Slow West

– As the title unambiguously suggests, this is a slow western. Tongue in cheek performances and pleasant cinematography give it a certain charm and whimsy that just about triumphs over its slumbrous pacing.

July 2015

Get Hard

– one or two scenes of genuine comedy dilute the general lowbrow puerile silliness. Arguably homophobic, sexist and racist, embarrassingly, I nonetheless rather enjoyed it!

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

– Simply one of the greatest films ever made. Beautiful photography, hilarious, charming banter from our two charismatic leads and a soundtrack that takes the heart a-dance. Irreplaceable and incomparable. Watch it. Then again and again.

June 2015

The Machine

– Another AI scifi flick, a little too dry as it focuses on trying to be a clever thriller, but certainly a worthwhile watch for any scifi fan.

Better Living Through Chemistry

– Questionable anti-rom-com about a pharmacists chaotic midlife crisis. Occasionally funny, mostly stupid, watchable for Rockwell.

Fargo (TV)

– Wry humour and master villains, this is a gripping crime drama with a lot to enjoy, but somehow it resolves to nobody’s satisfaction.

El Chapulín Colorado (TV)

– old school slapstick silliness in spanish.

Housebound

– Weird Oz black comedy horror that compels because it’s simply so bizarre. A bit niche for the average horror viewer though.

May 2015

Relatos Salvajes

– Wonderfully twisted mosaic of six short stories interweaving black humour with social commentary and gleeful depravity. Beautiful soundtrack, top notch film.

Joe Dirt

– presumably aimed pre-pubescents and the retarded, this puerile and low brow yankee doodle is unfunny bargain basket rubbish.

The Homesman

– Dry, flat Western drama from Tommy Lee Jones that lacks even the slightest appeal. I’d rather sit on a horse waiting to hang.

In Order Of Disappearance

– Tarantino-esque black humour permeates this nordic revenge drama. Enjoyable, but hardly special.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

– Tedious, almost cringeworthy action comedy from the team that brought us Kick-Ass. The action is fun, but the script and story are mildly offensive at worst and just plain stupid at best.

Daredevil (TV)

– Extraordinarily violent and gruesome at times, it’s nonetheless a pretty tongue in cheek, light-hearted and entertaining Netflix super hero series. Certainly more compelling than I had expected.

April 2015

The Voices

– Utterly inane, wacky, off the wall serial killer comedy that baffles more than it entertains, although it’s worth watching to the end simply for the final credit sequence. Ryan Reynolds is a dream.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

– The medley of action men (and women) tear it up again with the usual quips and techno gizmos. If you’re not bored of superheroes, there’s probably something here for you. Personally the genre is almost dead to me.

Nothing But the Truth

– forgettable and dry whistleblower thriller. It’s not especially bad, but it’s so unmemorable and bland as to be pointless viewing.

March 2015

Night at the Museum 3: The Secret Tomb

– dull franchise comedy that elicits considerably more groans than laughs

Switchback

– Dated and decidedly average serial killer thriller.

Paddington

– Moderately amusing if immensely overrated middleclass comedy about the eponymous bear.

February 2015

Penguins of Madagascar

– Surreal, farcical penguin comedy caper that is almost trippy in its off-kilter style. More obscure than funny.

Kon-Tiki

– Biopic drama charting the Kon-Tiki voyage. The film Life of Pi wishes it had been. Uplifting, suspenseful, funny. Blessed with a touch of the Sublime. A pity it’s quite so cheesy.

John Wick

– Stylistic action nonsense. Keanu’s deadpan dry monotones punctuated with fighting of all forms.

January 2015

The Grand Seduction

– Uplifting and oft-times hilarious rural drama with yet another standout performance from Brendan Gleeson. Riddled with clichés and contrivances, but nonetheless enjoyable for it.

Boyhood

– Surprisingly light-hearted and laid back journey through youth. Mostly excellent performances, especially from Hawke and Redmayne, and a few laugh out loud moments help ease the pacing.

The Art of the Steal

– comically stale heist comedy that retreads the usual steps and tries to sell itself as swish. A dull cliché.

December 2014

Horrible Bosses 2

– Silly and puerile comedy to match its predecessor. Pine is surprisingly funny and the trio have a fluid chemistry that endears the film despite some duff moments of improv and school boy quips. Light fun.

Hercules

– Moderately amusing and entertaining rubbish. A last resort.

Frank

– Oddball indie comedy cum biopic. Very funny at times, but precariously pretentious.

Music and Lyrics

– insipid with dreadful music and nary a single amusing line. Only the opening music video is actually worth watching.

Tucker and Dale versus Evil

– Very silly if entertaining horror spoof with some excellent lines hidden amidst the usual cheap slapstick and teenage farce.

Nightcrawler

– Strikingly original quirky thriller sprinkled with very black humour. Gyllenhaal turns in perhaps his finest performance. Hopefully award recognition could see more in this vein in the future.

November 2014

Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story

– Much too protracted and irritatingly puerile at times, this is otherwise an irresistibly entertaining spoof biopic parodying the same tired old formula of music life stories. Fun for the most part.

Detectorists (TV)

– Innocuous, lighthearted and relaxing comedy from Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones. It’s a relief and pleasure to watch something so gentle.

The Judge

– overwrought, exposition heavy, subplot laden and contrived. Downey Jr is in his fast-talking arrogant default, while Duvall does his part convincingly, although it could have been played just as firmly by any number of ageing actors. The whole film sets out as a tearjerker, and that ambition is all too obvious in the script and editing. The comedy is often misjudged (and largely based on the interjections of a ‘retard’) whilst all of the female roles exist solely as sex objects for Downey Jr. This is the kind of film that with a lesser cast wouldn’t cause a ripple in the film industry, but with these kinds of heavy hitters will probably be getting Oscar nods. Most frustrating.

October 2014

God’s Pocket

– Not a bad drama, but utterly devoid of anything to get excited about. It’s dreary, slow, and not especially witty, even though it tries hard with its smattering of black humour.

You’re Next

– Wonderfully nasty whilst simultaneously tongue in cheek horror home invasion flick. Undeniably sadistic and typically superficial for the genre, after a shouty start this is done very well.

September 2014

La Habitacion del Niño

– the first half of this spanish B-movie is one of the most hilarious black comedies I have seen, whilst the second reverts to genre stereotypes and predictable twists. It’s a lot of fun though, and to some degree an original haunted house thriller.

August 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy

– Nowhere near the film the hype implies, this has still got a lot of entertainment value with off-the-wall comedy hurled in with the usual action sci-fi.

Cronica de una Fuga (Buenos Aires, 1977)

– Intense and serious, perhaps too dry. Lacks the poetry and artistry of similar films, though remains a harrowing fly-on-the-wall spanish language drama.

Blackthorn

– Dry, slow burning neo-Western drama that is surprisingly affecting, particularly as it isn’t especially gripping. Sam Shepherd is good, and predominantly speaks Spanish throughout.

Dom Hemingway

– A couple of great one liners are hidden amidst the quips in this wannabe Sexy Beast london thriller. A good bit of forgettable fun.

El Habitante Incierto (The Uninvited Guest)

– Hitchcockian spanish language thriller, full of intrigue, novelty and witty black humour. Utterly bizarre and all the better for it.

July 2014

Dr Strangelove: or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

– Hilarious and brilliantly composed comedy highlighting the perils of nuclear armaments and the fallibility of those in charge of them. Terrific performances all round, especially from Peter Sellers, and a brief but intensely seductive turn from Tracy Reed.

Frozen

– Overrated, but the usual lighthearted Disney fluff; true love, magic, moderately amusing semi-autistic sidekick, the works…

Bad Words

– Bateman proves he should stick to the Bluths with this misjudged and tasteless comedy. Generally nasty, with a script of abuse thinly guised as humour. Even acting legend, Philip Baker Hall, looks tired and unhappy.

22 Jump Street

– A worthy sequel to the first comedy. Funny, puerile and stupid in turns, it falls apart in it’s third act in much the same way as its predecessor did. Guaranteed to have you laughing out loud on numerous occasions though, it’s definitely worth the time.

June 2014

The Host

– Terrible and hugely overrated sci-fi comedy. Horror elements are entirely undermined by slapstick comedy and goofy acting. Misleadingly high rated on IMDb, this is so bad it’s difficult to watch.

Edge of Tomorrow

– Hugely entertaining and funny action/ borderline action-comedy. Tom Cruise excels and glows in a way that he hasn’t for years, and Emily Blunt is a strong support. A lot of fun to be had with the premise, and they have it all. Highly recommended.

Snake Eyes

– Creatively directed by De Palma, but massively overacted and with such blatant and crass exposition it feels hugely dumbed down, particularly as the plot is already so predictable. Still a more or less enjoyable conspiracy flick.

A Million Ways To Die In The West

– Moderately entertaining western comedy that relies too heavily on puerile gross-outs and not enough on strong wit, but the funny lines, when they come, are more or less worth suffering through the rest of it. Maybe.

The Sitter

– Puerile, largely unfunny Jonah Hill comedy. One or two lines stand out as immediately quotable, but overall this is laboured, messy and childish.

Bad Neighbours

– Pretty much what you would expect from a Rogen comedy. One or two genuine laughs in a sea of self-congratulating, puerile improv. No doubt much funnier to produce than to watch, but that’s little consolation to the disappointed viewer. (And yes, Efron spends most of his scenes topless – why waste a perfectly good body?)

The Replacements

– Silly sports comedy with a formulaic plot and inane gags. Classic feel good vibe though and great as a pick-me-up. Also worth it for the Gene Hackman completionists!

May 2014

Don Jon

– surprisingly endearing and amusing film about porn addiction with strong performances from all.

Snowpiercer

– A wacky, highly original and exhilirating film, with bizarre but brilliant performances, in particular from Tilda Swinton. Terrific.

National Security

– a classic buddy cop action comedy, moderately entertaining and amusing with all the usual hammy tropes. Ridiculous but light hearted fun.

Death in Paradise (TV)

– moderately amusing British murder mystery comedy. Silly, very lighthearted, and consequently entirely forgivably hammy!

April 2014

Banshee S01

– Give it a chance. Yes it’s stylised, yes it’s testosterone fuelled and macho, but the story really gels together tightly as the episodes progress, and the characters endear themselves quickly. The writing is smart and witty, even laugh out loud at times, and whilst the female characters are indubitably sexualised, they are also strong willed, intelligent and resilient. It’s an excellent hybrid of procedural and serial, with an overarching narrative that progresses swiftly enough whilst always including a novel element each episode. Highly recommended, and with room still to grow. Antony Starr is a revelation.

Calvary

– excellent, profoundly affecting drama. At once comic and crushingly sad, it raises all the right issues and asks all the unanswerable questions. Terrific.

The Double

– Innovative and striking film-making with an excellent cast of British comedy heroes, this comedy noire is too black, too unfunny, and too grating.

Jonathan Creek S05

– Typically wry and amusing humour from Alan Davies and team. The mysteries themselves are very tenuous at best (bring back the murders!), but the script is as enjoyable as ever.

Amazing Spider Man 2

– CGI heavy superhero sequel that doesn’t come close to its predecessor. Spidey is still full of entertaining quips but the plot is garbled and as usual, too many (two dimensional) villains spoil the broth. Garfield and Stone carry it.

Tangled

– Amusing, feel good animated comedy which would be vastly improved without the nauseating musical numbers. Entertaining slapstick though.

March 2014

Brave

– Grating scottish accents aside, this is still surprisingly boring and lacklustre for an animated children’s tale. Not at all what we’ve come to expect.

Polisse

– Albeit primarily a drama, this treads the very fine line between comedy and tragedy with aplomb. In turns heartbreaking, unsettling, jawdropping and hilarious with an ending that feels like a punch in the stomach.

Dogma

– Damon and Affleck are entertaining as the two angels, and one sequence particularly stands out (the first meet with Serendipity), but on the whole, this is puerile and ridiculous, a film that would be laughed off screen if it weren’t for the prestige of the cast associated with it.

30 Minutes or Less

– Puerile, irritating and crass comedy, with thankfully enough genuinely funny jokes to make one viewing bearable. Definitely not recommended though.

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

– An exercise in audience tolerance. This is absolutely unbearable. Unwatchable. What were they thinking? A sequel that should never have existed. Firmly taking the comedy out of ‘comedy’. Even the plethora of cameos fell flat.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

– Wes Anderson’s particular blend of whimsy creates another entertaining and amusingly absurd tale. One of his strongest to date and filled with Andersonisms.

February 2014

The Lego Movie

– A bizarre, faintly surreal and slapstick animated farce that has a few sidesplitters, in-jokes galore and plenty of pop-culture references. It isn’t as consistently funny as it tries to be, though succeeds in entertaining for the most part.

January 2014

Pain and Gain

– Hilariously stupid, in the vein of so bad that it’s occasionally genius. For the most part this shallow comedy fails entirely, but there are one or two sidesplitting turns along the way that are perhaps worth the wait.

Liberal Arts

– A compelling and amusing film that ties itself in knots tackling potentially difficult issues and frustratingly draws all the wrong conclusions under the guise of wisdom. A great supporting turn from Zac Efron.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

– Hugely original, amusing and poignant in all the right places, perhaps Stiller’s finest yet.

December 2013

A Fish Called Wanda

– A total farce, literally. Funny and plain ludicrous in equal measure, this is a frivolous ‘heist-gone-wrong’ romp.

Local Hero

– I didn’t give this as much attention as it perhaps deserved, but it struck me as a light-hearted, feel good comedy drama with an appreciation for natural beauty and community friendships. The characters are kind of loveable in their absurdity, and it’s an effective tourist ad for Scotland but I’m not entirely sure why it was quite so well received by audiences.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

– Tremendous sequel. Fast paced, utterly engrossing, funny and artistically crafted. Jackson scarcely puts a foot wrong in his latest adventure in Middle Earth. Wonderful.

Robot and Frank

– Albeit slow and plodding, this is an enjoyable, amusing tale of friendship between man and robot. It’s skin deep but better for it.

The Croods

– Cheerful, amusing and innovative animation that will definitely appeal to adults too. Some terrific lines you’ll be quoting for some time afterwards.

November 2013

Blue Jasmine

– For all the hype, besides a cast of great performers, this was fairly dull Woody Allen. Very contrived, too bleak to be funny, too funny to be hard hitting. Didn’t work for me.

Computer Chess

– indubitably unique, though perplexing and (perhaps inevitably) slumbrous. Sparks didn’t fly for me, despite an unmistakable undercurrent of dry, idiosyncratic humour.

Chess Fever

– Probably the earliest made film I’ve seen. Silent, black and white, amusing enough to raise a smirk, but never enough to giggle. Interesting for chess fans and film students, probably not for anyone else.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

– Both hilarious and thrilling, absurd and absurdly underrated. Mel Gibson excels unlike I’ve seen him in over a decade. The script is high concept with its tongue firmly in cheek and the editing is surprisingly sharp. The only question, why was this condemned straight to DVD?

The Book of Daniel (TV)

– Another promising series cut off before it had time to fully flourish. Hugely enjoyable, warm, light hearted and often laugh out loud funny.

October 2013

Carnage

– Well orchestrated but better suited to theatre than film. Very much in the vein of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfe, attempts at humour are subdued by the overall hostility. The underlying premise and behaviour of the individuals isn’t especially plausible and therefore sits uncomfortably contrived.

Filth

– Like watching a brain scan of a schizophrenic interpreted as film. Gratuitous and visually jarring. Nowhere near as sexy and darkly comic as advertised. McAvoy is undoubtedly phenomenal though, he gives a powerhouse performance.

I Give It A Year

– An anti-rom-com in terms of genre and an anti-comedy in terms of…comedy.

Rushmore

– Classic Wes Anderson. Schwartzman in his eccentric, intellectual loony type role with the usual suspects filling out the cast. Not as funny as the Darjeeling or the Royal Tenenbaums (or even Bottle Rocket), but there is nothing not to like in this whimsical, easy going film.

About Time

– Typically Richard Curtis: saccherine, idealistic, optimistic, and frustratingly upper middle class, but nonetheless an entertaining and often immensely funny rom com.

We Are The Millers

– Not quite the relentless stream of jokes I was hoping for, but one or two hilarious moments make it worth the journey. Just don’t expect comedy gold.

September 2013

The Kings of Summer

– A peculiar, downbeat dramedy following the eccentric lives of three teenage boys who choose to live in the woods. Naturally their nirvana falls apart with the introduction of a girl. An intriguing, worthwhile watch, but nowhere near the laugh out loud experience anticipated off the back of that killer trailer. Make sure you’re amped up on caffeine before you embark on this journey…

This Is The End

– A terrible, terrible piece of vanity cinema. Puerile and deplorably crass, but worst of all, unforgiveably unfunny, with no hint of genuine wit or comedy. This is why actors should take direction, not choose the direction. 100% lacking in every respect. Simply shit.

The Birdcage

– Gloriously (or painfully) camp. Often intensely irritating, mostly hilarious. Brilliantly comedic turns from Williams, Lane and Hackman leave us with a side-splitting, nail-biting, feel-good climax to remember! The final act definitely compensates for an iffy first.

Avengers Assemble

– The usual mish mash of sardonic wit and adrenaline fuelled action. Takes a little while to get going but the second half is especially enjoyable. Better than other recent efforts in this genre (Thor, Captain America – I’m looking at you…)

August 2013

Alpha Papa

– Highly entertaining but inconsistently funny and therefore a slight disappointment. Nonetheless, some definite laugh out loud moments and general Partridge bufoonery throughout.

Arrested Development S04 (TV)

– an ambitious return to the classic TV comedy sees plenty more laughs and ludicrous story arcs. Perhaps not on a par with the first three seasons but definitely a must watch all the same.

The Heat

– Infantile and way off the mark, The Heat was about as funny as a school shooting. The alleged comedy relies on Melissa McCarthy’s coarse language and Sandra Bullock’s manly figure.

Evil Dead [2013]

– If you revel in gore, savage brutality and all the usual slasher tropes, then this might well be up your street. It got the stamp of approval from Bruce Campbell, but his tongue in cheek is a far cry from this fairly average ‘cabin in the woods’ fare.

Duck Soup

– Classic Marx Brothers. Slapstick and one liners. Short and sweet.

July 2013

Warm Bodies

– quirky, off-beat zombie comedy. Definitely no Shaun of the Dead. If you’re really bored on a Sunday though…

June 2013

Elf

– Infuriatingly amusing for all its schlocky puerile slapstick, with two or three genuinely hilarious moments. Without Ferrell and Caan though, the exact same material would be intolerable. A cheap, feel good Christmas flick.

May 2013

Zoolander

– Undeniably of the “it’s so bad it’s good” variety, this is a must watch for fans of Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson. Puerile, slapstick but shamelessly feel-good, it’s worth it for the inane one liners and soundtrack alone, just don’t expect anything of any intellect!

MASH

– Altman tries to derive some ultra black humour from a medical division in the Korean war, but for the most part it falls a little too black and vindictive to actually invite any laughs. The splapstick is more akin to bullying than comedy, and the audio especially sounds dated to the modern viewer. Oft hailed as a classic, I found it more arduous than amusing.

April 2013

Spring Breakers

– Comparisons could be (and have been) drawn with GTA, although GTA has infinitely more humour, style, script and (dare I say it) direction, than Spring Breakers, which pans out like an extended advert for a bad holiday resort or worse, an un-narrated episode of Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents. One of the most disagreeable film experiences I have had in…um…possibly ever.

Wreck it Ralph

– An excellent, if too overtly didactic, animated adventure for kids and retro gaming nerds alike.

Los Lunes al Sol (Mondays in the Sun)

– beautiful, funny, moving. Everything a good film should be. The script and direction show great humanity. Terrific performances from all, especially Bardem. A favourite.

March 2013

El Dia de la Bestia (The Day of the Beast)

– So whacky, ridiculous and off the wall that it’s (probably) worth tagging along for the ride, this blaspheming, B-movie action comedy mash up follows a priest as he adventures to prevent the birth of the anti-christ.

Identity Thief

– Nauseatingly puerile and astoundingly dull, the humour is thin on the ground at best, although Bateman is as always a pleasure to watch. One or two laugh out loud moments make it just about watchable.

February 2013

Manhattan

– Unconventional, funny, intriguing. Kind of genre breaking. Quintessential Woody Allen if you’re after an insight in to the man. I prefer Midnight in Paris though.

The Castle

– Very reminiscent of Wes Anderson’s dry wit and oddball humour, this is a light hearted, bitter sweet, feel good comedy. Quaint but enjoyable.

Ali G, Ai

– surprisingly funny, even after all this time. Much better than his later ventures.

No

– An excellent, mild and uncontroversial historical drama about the ad campaign that overthrew Pinochet in Chile. Great acting and a subtle, dry script make for compelling viewing.

Silver Linings Playbook

– perhaps not fully deserving of the phenomenal hype it has received, but definitely a well above average rom-com. Funny and charming.

January 2013

70th Annual Golden Globes

– repetitive viewing with the odd bit of humour here and there.

Django Unchained

– Highly entertaining despite the runtime. Witty and well acted. Two minor irks: the laughable cameo, and Samuel L. Definitely one to watch again.

A Film With Me In It

– A little slow out of the gate but then it picks up a fine pace and is hilarious to boot. A cracking black comedy that probably isn’t even on your radar.

December 2012

Sightseers

– Highlighting beautiful English countryside and talented performances, this is a quirky, original black comedy, but it’s droll rather than funny. I wouldn’t watch it again.

Jack Reacher

– This bizarre and contrived film might raise a smile, but it can’t decide whether it wants to be a comedy, an action movie, or a thriller. Essentially a vanity project for Cruise, and it really shows.

Seven Psychopaths

– A clever, absurd, surrealist comedy with great performances from the all-star cast. Highly reccommended.

November 2012

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs

– There’s a hint of genius in this hilarious animated adventure, and a ton of material for adults too.

Argo

– Very well paced and structured with a few laughs for good measure. A compelling drama from Affleck.

October 2012

21 Jump Street

– A strong, hilarious start quickly falls back in to standard hollywood comedy schtick.

Moonrise Kingdom

– Classically slow paced Wes Anderson, very poignant and drily amusing.

Matando Cabos

– surreal, stylish and hilarious black comedy about an accidental kidnapping

Ruby Sparks

– A worthwhile romantic drama, misleadingly labeled as a comedy.

Cabin In The Woods

– Excellent comedy horror. Original and creative with superb special effects and sharp wit.

September 2012

Californication season 5 (TV)

– enjoyable as always. Sex and comedy pretty much sums it up.

August 2012

Paul

– comparable to the British duos’ usual, a disappointing affair, comparable to Hollywood comedy – genius

Hard Eight/ Sydney

– Fantastic debut feature from PT Anderson. Excellent dry black humour.

My Name Is Nobody

– Farcical Western comedy, definitely grabs some laughs, but is it worth the runtime…

Derek (TV)

– Poignant and beautifully witty. A reminder that there is much more to Gervais than the press credits him with.

Sea of Love

– terrific screenwriting, a lot of black humour and legitimate thrills. Another twist wouldn’t have gone amiss.

April 2012

Once Upon A Time In Anatolia

– witty and beautifully shot but painfully slow. Ultimately anti-climactic and unrewarding

February 2012

Arthur Christmas

– more lighthearted animated fun, nothing special though

Troll Hunter

– surprisingly well handled balance of wit and thrills

Youth without Youth

– unintelligible and therefore largely forgettable. A nice performance by Roth though

January 2012

Mission: Impossible 4 Ghost Protocol

– a thoroughly enjoyable action romp with a smattering of laughs too

December 2011

The Mighty Boosh: Future Sailors

– very funny, but not a patch on their original standup

Easy A

– pretty bog standard teen comedy propelled Emma Stone to the limelight

Stephen Merchant – Hello Ladies

– funny, but much lower brow than expected. Not the witty anecdotes of the podcasts and XFM material.

Man Bites Dog

– pioneering a spinoff genre and redefining black comedy. Gold.

The Guard

– intelligent black comedy with terrific acting from Brendan Gleeson

Funny Games US

– twisted, depraved, slow burning horror that will make your skin crawl

Despicable Me

– lighthearted animated flick. Nothing special but ticks the boxes

Sexy Beast

– original and very blackly comic heist movie

High Fidelity

– fun with Cusack and Jack Black, not exactly comedy gold though

Bottle Rocket

– Anderson at his most offbeat and droll. Genius screenwriting

Peter Kay – The Tour That Didn’t Tour

– the comic strikes again. Hilarious and pretty much 100% original material.

The Winning Season

– Charming and endearing comedy with Sam Rockwell demonstrating skills

The Hangover: Part 2

– even less funny than the first, why did I bother?

Johnny English Reborn

– more giggles and slapstick from Rowan Atkinson

The Other Guys

– hilarious, a series of ludicrous sketches strung together with a plot, almost as good as Superbad

Bridesmaids

– puerile rubbish, compared to the Hangover because they’re both witless crap

The Change Up

– base and explicit humour at it’s best, still grotty though

Wild Target

– lighthearted and unfortunately largely humourless attempt at British action comedy

Horrible Bosses

– funny but very puerile comedy with a great cast

Red

– extremely entertaining action comedy with a cast of hollywood heroes

Grosse Point Blank

– Cusack has a lot of fun as the killer with a conscience in this black comedy

Little Fockers

– the third in the trilogy, still breaks a few laughs

Cyrus

– bizarrely emotive offbeat comedy, highly recommended

Boogie Nights

– very funny and enlightening perspective of one boys trip through the porn industry

Wag the Dog

– classic Hoffman and DeNiro, hilarious

How To Train Your Dragon

– fun animated adventure with some great visuals

Tamara Drewe

– painfully long and unfunny rom-com without even a stunning lead

Step Brothers

– slapstick, puerile; totally unfunny.

Due Date

– you’ll laugh, but it’s highly unoriginal and pretty lowbrow

September 2010

Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

– a British classic, hilarious and compelling.

August 2010

The Princess Bride

– hilarious, ridiculous and nonsensical

June 2010

Four Lions

– hilarious but thought-provoking

Hot Tube Time Machine

– Utter bollocks. Obscene and unfunny.

May 2010

Swimming with Sharks

– Unexpectedly Funny

Iron Man 2

– Exciting and Funny