REVIEW: GOOD OMENS

Michael Sheen and David Tennant in Good Omens (2019)

Starring

David Tennant (Mary Queen of Scots)
Michael Sheen (Passengers)
Anna Maxwell Martin (Motherland)
Jon Hamm (Baby Driver)
Josie Lawrence (Humans)
Lourdes Faberes (Knightfall)
Adria Arjona (Life of The Party)
Michael McKean (This Is Spinal Tap)
Jack Whitehall (Bad Education)
Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow)
Mireille Enos (Hanna TV)
Yusuf Gatewood (The Originals)
Brian Cox (Rise of TPOA)
Reece Shearsmith (Stag)
Nina Sosanya (Marcella)
Ned Dennehy (Peaky Blinders)
Ariyon Bakare (Rogue One)
Frances McDormand (Fargo)
Derek Jacobi (Gladiator)
Benedict Cumberbatch (The Grinch)
Steve Pemberton (Psychoville)
Mark Gatiss (Game of Thrones)
Nick Offerman (The Lego Movie 2)
Daniel Mays (The Bank Job)
Sian Brooke (Sherlock)
Simon Merrells (Legends of Tomorrow)
Susan Brown (Game of Thrones)
Paul Kaye (Anna and the Apocalypse)
David Morrissey (The Walking Dead)

Michael Sheen and David Tennant in Good Omens (2019)Once upon a time, Good Omens was considered unadaptable. Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s sprawling, 400-page fantasy novel was notorious within the film and TV industries. Screenwriters turned their noses up at the project, and various attempts over the years to bring page to screen ended in disappointment. However, an adaptation of the unadaptable proved to be Pratchett’s last request to his co-author before he died in 2015, and Gaiman set about writing the screenplay for what would become an epic six-part BBC/Amazon co-production.Michael Sheen and David Tennant in Good Omens (2019)So first things first: was the unadaptable, well, adaptable, after all? The short answer is, yes. Gaiman — also showrunner on the series — has pulled off a colourful, quirky, funny, poignant (although not entirely flawless) feat. One might even suspect there’s been a spot of divine (or devilish) intervention… The true triumph is the casting. Michael Sheen shines (quite literally, in some scenes) as the angel Aziraphale, a celestial field agent who teams up with his opposite number, the stylish demon Crowley — played with a Bill Nighy-esque swagger by David Tennant — in order to prevent Armageddon.Michael Sheen and David Tennant in Good Omens (2019)It’s this pairing that proves to be the beating heart of the series. Crowley and Aziraphale have been on Earth since the very beginning, and in their own ways they’ve both “gone native”. Aziraphale owns a Soho bookshop, and likes gravlax salmon with dill sauce. Crowley drives a pristine 1926 Bentley and listens to Queen. They’ve formed a professional agreement not to meddle in each other’s affairs, and in their spare time they’ve enjoyed a series of rather nice clandestine lunches. Every time either actor appears onscreen, you can almost hear the costume department’s (and fandom’s) squeals of joy. David Tennant in snakeskin boots! Michael Sheen with artfully tousled bleached hair! A tartan bow tie! Tennant also sports appropriately flame-red hair (not in the books, but worth it for Doctor Who fans’ realisation that the Tenth Doctor finally got his wish) that frequently changes style. In one particularly memorable moment during episode one, Crowley disguises himself as a bobbed-haired nanny, a Satanic crossover between Nanny McPhee and Mrs Doubtfire.good-omensHe and Aziraphale have a teasing, love/hate relationship that fans of the book have shipped for almost two decades. Gaiman has since promised that “the TV series gets deeper into Crowley and Aziraphale’s relationship,” and some viewers will be hoping that that will translate into a burgeoning romance. Certainly in episode one, Aziraphale seems rather overexcited at the prospect of he and Crowley becoming joint “godfathers” to the infant Antichrist, whose arrival on Earth threatens to catalyse the apocalypse. Gabriel has bright purple irises in the series, a nod to Elizabeth Taylor’s legendary lilac eyes according to the show’s companion book, The Nice and Accurate Good Omens TV Companion. However, as anyone who’s worn thick coloured lenses for Halloween and lived to tell the tale will know, the effect is rather distracting and painful to look at, as are Crowley’s reptilian yellow eyes (thankfully hidden away under trendy shades for much of the show). Gabriel barely appears in the book, and he’s a welcome and much-needed addition to the series: someone to put the proverbial heat on Aziraphale.Michael Sheen and David Tennant in Good Omens (2019)Various sets are also new for the TV show: Heaven is now a vast corporate headquarters, while Hell resembles an overcrowded basement office. A rather gloomier version of The IT Crowd, if you will. Some of the show’s special effects can feel a bit hammy (think Russell T Davies-era Doctor Who with a couple of rubber frogs thrown in), but the scene depicting the entrances to both Heaven and Hell features a pretty cool bit of cinematography, including a mirror effect and an upside-down Tennant. However, despite the addition of characters like Gabriel, much of the show remains doggedly faithful to the books. Reams of dialogue are almost word-for-word during episode one, to the extent that there are certain moments and scenes where one feels that the show’s pace has been sacrificed in favour of preserving the ‘voice’ of the book. Of course, it’s understandable given the circumstances — Gaiman has spoken about the pressure to protect Pratchett’s narrative creations in his absence. For example, he made sure that one of Pratchett’s characters, the 17th century witch Agnes Nutter, remained in the show despite calls to replace her (and an expensive, explosive period shoot) with a series of woodcuts.good-omens-key-art-600x314In Agnes’s case, it makes sense to preserve her: her spookily accurate prophecies drive much of the plot and predict the present-day apocalypse. But there are chunks of God’s narration (voiced by Oscar-winner Frances McDormand) that feel a bit laboured. Some sections, like the bit about demons’ talents for “lurking” around graveyards, must have read well on the page in that distinctive Terry/Neil voice, but in reality they fall rather flat — much like a certain angel’s misguided attempts to pull a rabbit out of a top hat at a children’s birthday party. At the end of the day, however (and according to Agnes Nutter, there aren’t many more days left), the series is a love letter to the book, combining Gaiman and Pratchett’s brilliant characterisation and quippy jokes with vivid, gorgeous sets and memorable costumes.

 

 

REVIEW: LIFE OF THE PARTY

CAST

Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly)
Molly Gordon (Animal Kingdom)
Gillian Jacobs (Revenge For Jolly)
Maya Rudolph (Bridesmaids)
Jessie Ennis (Hits)
Adria Arjona (Pacific Rim: Uprising)
Matt Walsh (Due Date)
Julie Bowen (Modern Family)
Debby Ryan (Insatiable)
Stephen Root (Red State)
Jacki Weaver (The Voices)
Luke Benward (Dear John)
Jimmy O. Yang (Crazy Rich Asians)
Chris Parnell (21 Jump Street)
Heidi Gardner (Otherhood)
Yani Smone (Young & Married)
Ben Falcone (Tammy)
Nat Faxon (Sex Tape)
Sarah Baker (The Campaign)

Melissa McCarthy, Molly Gordon, Gillian Jacobs, Jessie Ennis, and Adria Arjona in Life of the Party (2018)After dropping off their daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) to her senior year at Decatur University in Atlanta, Dan tells Deanna (Melissa McCarthy) that he wants a divorce because he has fallen in love with another woman, a realtor Marcie (Julie Bowen), and he also wants to sell their house under his name. Heartbroken, Deanna visits her parents Mike (Stephen Root) and Sandy (Jacki Weaver) to tell them what happened, but Mike is frustrated because Dan made Deanna drop out of her college because she was pregnant, as well as his overbearing ways during their marriage. Deanna goes to see Maddie in her dorm to tell the news about her divorce and her plans to study again at the university to earn a degree in Archaeology. Maddie initially has doubts about her plan but she ultimately accepts it. Maddie introduces Deanna to her friends – Amanda (Adria Arjona), neurotic Debbie (Jessie Ennis), and Helen (Gillian Jacobs). Deanna later meets her agoraphobic and chronically depressed roommate Leonor (Heidi Gardner).Melissa McCarthy in Life of the Party (2018)On the first day of school, she meets demeaning girls, Jennifer (Debby Ryan) and her friend Trina (Yani Simone), who mocks Deanna’s age. Deanna later signed the divorce papers, with her best friend Christine, in front of Dan and Marcie. At night, Maddie and her friends take Deanna to the party, where she meets a boy named Jack (Luke Benward), who later falls in love with her and, the next day, they have sex inside the library. In another night, they attend an 80’s-themed party where Deanna has a dance-off with Jennifer, resulting in earning the respect of her schoolmates. Deanna later has stage fright during her oral presentation and she faints.Melissa McCarthy in Life of the Party (2018)While Deanna hanging out for the dinner with Christine, her husband, and their couple friends, Dan and Marcie unexpectedly show up, who declare that they are getting married. Jack turns out to be Marcie’s son and knowing about Deanna sleeping with Jack, Marcie walks out in disgust. On the night of Dan and Marcie’s wedding, Deanna and her friends get high from chocolate bark laced with weed, and they head to the reception, where they start wrecking the wedding hall. Dan, Marcie, and Maddie find them and Marcie tells Deanna she is cut off financially from Dan. Deanna is filled with shame, if only because of how Maddie saw her.Melissa McCarthy and Debby Ryan in Life of the Party (2018)Deanna tries to make amends with Maddie, but she tells her that she is leaving college since she has no means of completing the rest of the year on her own. The girls then come up with a plan to throw a party to raise money to pay for Deanna’s tuition. Since everyone is at Christina Aguilera concert, Helen posts the message on her Twitter, claiming Aguilera will be at the party after her show. Christine shows up with her husband, as do Mike and Sandy. Mike offers to give Deanna a 401K check to pay her tuition, but Deanna refuses to take it. The party is not a success until Aguilera (who ends up being Leonor’s cousin) arrives and she puts on a show with Deanna and the girls to an excited crowd.Later on, Deanna is due to repeat her presentation in class. She is still nervous until Maddie, Helen, Amanda, Debbie, and all the sorority sisters show up to support her, and Deanna manages to give the presentation with ease. At the end of the year, Deanna and Maddie graduate together, with all their friends and family there to support them. Maddie encourages Deanna to throw her cap in the air. She does so, and it hits Dan in the face, knocking out an earring he was wearing while Marcie berates him for losing the expensive diamond stud.I’m shocked at this low score. I guess you’re either a fan of Melissa McCarthy or you’re not, and seeing that I am, I really enjoyed this film. It was constant laughs and one scene where I can’t remember laughing so hard for so long. The writing was cute and had a heartfelt story. The acting, directing and editing was all perfect. I really enjoyed this and am sure you will too.