25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: PADDINGTON

CAST

Ben Whishaw (Skyfall)
Hugh Bonneville (Downtown Abbey)
Sally Hawkins (Godzilla)
Madeleine Harris (The White Queen)
Nicole Kidman (The Others)
Julie Walters (Brooklyn)
Imelda Staunton (Maleficent)
Michael Gambon (Harry Potter)
Matt Lucas (Alice In Wonderland)
Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who)
Jim Broadbent (Cloud Atlas)
Alice Lowe (Prevenge)

In the deep jungles of darkest Peru, British geographer Montgomery Clyde happens upon a previously unknown species of bear. He is about to shoot it to take back a specimen to England when another bear playfully takes his gun away. He learns that this family of bears is intelligent and can learn English, and that they have a deep appetite for marmalade. He names them Lucy and Pastuzo. As he departs, he throws his hat to Pastuzo and tells the bears that they are always welcome should they wish to go to London.Several years later, the two bears are living in harmony with their nephew when an earthquake strikes their home, forcing them to seek shelter underground. Distracted and upset at the loss of his home, Pastuzo is unable to reach the shelter in time. He is presumed dead, with his hat being found the next day by his nephew. Aunt Lucy encourages her nephew to go and find solace in London, and stows him away on a cargo ship, after which she says she will move into the Home for Retired Bears.The young bear reaches London, but fails to find a home. He is taken in briefly by the Brown family. Mary Brown, the mother and a story illustrator, names him Paddington, after the station where they found him. Henry Brown, the father and a devoted risk analyst, who doesn’t believe a word of why he’s here, is adamant that Paddington stay only one night while they find a place for him to live permanently. Paddington causes a series of accidents across the house, further isolating himself from the Browns.Paddington thinks he can find a home with the explorer who found his aunt and uncle, but does not know his name. Mrs. Brown takes Paddington to Mr. Gruber, an antique shop owner who discovers that the hat bears the stamp of the Geographers Guild, but the Guild says that it never sent a member to explore darkest Peru. With the help of Mr. Brown, who refuses to let the family help him, Paddington infiltrates the Geographers Guild archives and discovers an expedition to Peru was undertaken by Montgomery Clyde. He uses the city’s phone books to track the addresses of all the “M Clyde”s in London.Meanwhile, the sadistic museum taxidermist Director Millicent Clyde, later revealed to be the explorer’s daughter, captures, kills, and stuffs exotic animals to house in the Natural History Museum. When she becomes aware of Paddington, she immediately sets out to hunt him down. The Brown family departs for the day, leaving Paddington home alone. Scheming with the Browns’ nosy neighbor Mr. Curry who is in love with her, Millicent sneaks in and attempts to capture Paddington; he manages to defend himself, but inadvertently starts a fire in the kitchen in the process. Disbelieving Paddington’s statement of Millicent’s capture attempt, the Browns, mainly Henry, state that he must move into a new home as soon as possible.Feeling unwanted at the Browns, Paddington leaves and attempts to track down Montgomery Clyde himself. He finally locates the house, only to learn that Clyde passed away years ago, and that Millicent resents her father for losing his job and membership with the museum; out of a change of heart, he refused to bring a valuable Peruvian bear specimen home, even though it would have made his family wealthy. Millicent is determined to succeed where her father failed and capture a Peruvian bear so she can become rich and famous herself. She tranquilizes Paddington and prepares to stuff him, but when Mr. Curry discovers her true intentions, he informs the Brown family and they rush to save Paddington. They rescue him, and Paddington subdues Millicent by throwing at her a marmalade sandwich his uncle left in his hat for emergencies, which attracts a huge flock of pigeons, distracting her, as family relative and housekeeper Mrs. Bird opens a roof hatch and inadvertently pushes her off the roof, trapping her on a flagpole.In the aftermath, the Browns adopt Paddington into their family and Millicent is sentenced to community service at the petting zoo her father opened after he lost his job. Paddington writes to Aunt Lucy saying he is happy and has finally found a home.Paddington is truly hilarious and heart-warming with a story that is so rich and compelling. And I would recommend Paddington to anyone.

HALLOWEEN OF HORROR REVIEW: SHAUN OF THE DEAD

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CAST
Simon Pegg (Star Trek)
Nick Frost (Snow White & The Huntsman)
Kate Ashfield (Spivs)
Lucy Davis (Ugly Betty)
Dylan Moran (Notting Hill)
Peter Serafinowicz (Spy)
Rafe Spall (Prometheus)
Bill Nighy (Underworld)
Martin Freeman (The Hobbit)
Matt Lucas (Alice In Wonderland)
Paul Kaye (Anna and The Apocalypse)
Shaun (Simon Pegg) is a 29-year-old electronics shop salesman with no direction in life. His younger colleagues show him no respect, he has a strained relationship with his stepfather, Phillip (Bill Nighy), and a tense one with his housemate Pete (Peter Serafinowicz) because of Ed (Nick Frost), Shaun’s other housemate and vulgar, unemployed best friend. Furthermore, Shaun’s girlfriend Liz (Kate Ashfield) dislikes their social life as they spend every date at the Winchester, Shaun and Ed’s favourite pub. Because Shaun always brings Ed, Liz is always forced to bring her flatmates, David (Dylan Moran) and Dianne (Lucy Davis). After a bad day at work, Shaun forgets to book a table at a nice restaurant, and after suggesting the Winchester again Liz breaks up with him. Shaun drowns his sorrows with Ed at the Winchester. While celebrating at home, an enraged Pete — suffering from a bite wound caused by “some crackheads” — confronts Shaun on his flaws, telling him to sort his life out.
The next morning, a zombie apocalypse has overwhelmed the city, but Shaun is too busy dealing with his hangover to notice. He and Ed discover a female zombie in their backyard, but assume she is just drunk until she survives being impaled on a pipe. Another zombie makes its way into the garden, and Shaun and Ed run back inside. They learn more about the outbreak by watching the news and kill the two zombies (and another zombie that slips in through the front door) with blows to the head. The two decide to rescue Shaun’s mother, Barbara (Penelope Wilton), and Liz so they can wait out the crisis in the Winchester.
Shaun and Ed escape in Pete’s car and pick up Barbara and Phillip — who has been bitten — and then switch vehicles after Ed deliberately crashes Pete’s car for Phillip’s Jaguar. They then head over to Liz, Dianne, and David’s flat and collect them. On their way to the Winchester, Phillip makes peace with Shaun, dies from his bites, and then reanimates — forcing them to abandon the vehicle and set off on foot. The streets surrounding the pub are overrun, so the group pretends to be zombies to sneak past them, but Shaun gets into an argument with Ed and breaks their cover. Shaun leads the horde away while the rest take refuge in the pub. Shaun rejoins them after losing the zombies.
shaun-of-the-dead
Several hours later, the zombies return; Shaun discovers the Winchester rifle above the bar is functional and the group uses it to defend themselves. Barbara reveals she was bitten along the way and dies, and a distraught Shaun is forced to shoot her after she reanimates. David is then pulled through a window and torn apart by the zombies, and Dianne frantically unbolts the front door to rescue him, disappearing into the advancing horde. Pete arrives as one of the zombies and bites Ed; Shaun kills Pete and sets fire to the bar, but also sets off the remaining rifle ammunition by accident. The survivors flee into the cellar and contemplate suicide, but discover a barrel hatch elevator that opens to the outside. Shaun and Liz escape on the elevator as Ed is left behind with the rifle. Back on the street, the British Army arrives and guns down the remaining zombies, rescuing the two. The couple approach the safety of the trucks, reconciled. Six months after the outbreak, civilization has returned to normal, but the living now use the zombies as cheap labour and entertainment. Liz has moved in with Shaun, and Shaun keeps Ed — now a zombie — tethered in the backyard shed so they can play video games together.
Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are both brilliant in this spoof of the zombie genre. If you are into zombie films, or comedy, then you will enjoy this film. It is a well made film that dosen’t fail to bring a smile to anybody who watches it.

REVIEW: BRIDESMAIDS

CAST

Kristen Wiig (Zoolander 2)
Maya Rudolph (Gattaca)
Rose Byrne (Spy)
Melissa McCarthy (Tammy)
Wendi McLendon-Covey (Bewitched)
Ellie Kemper (The Office)
Chris O’Dowd (St. Vincent)
Jill Cayburgh (The Rockford Files)
Terry Crews (White Chicks)
Matt Lucas (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Ben Falcone (The Nines)
Jessica St. Clair (The Dictator)
Jon Hamm (The A-Team)
Paul Feig (Sabrina: TTW)
Rebel Wilson (Grimsby)
Jillian Bell (Rough Night)

Rose Byrne and Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids (2011)

Though Wiig has popped up recently in Whip It and Adventureland, to fine successes, Bridesmaids marks her first leading performance, and she’s found the right one to start with in Annie. A broke, cynical chef who’s recently closed her Milwaukee bakery, losing her boyfriend in the process, she now works in a jewelry store, sleeps with a handsome but asinine man-child (Jon Hamm) looking for a no-strings sex-buddy, and avoids her odd British brother-sister roommates. Annie’s sad-sap state makes for a near-perfect character in which Wiig can flaunt her ill-at-ease style, uncomfortable in her unerring self-created awkwardness. She’s a sad character, almost aggressively so, which might rub some the wrong way because of how resolutely she keeps herself at arm’s length from contentment. Yet there’s something relatable about her self-deprecation, especially once her childhood friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) asks her to be the maid-of-honor at her wedding — and to do the planning and organizing that comes with the territory.

Naturally, Annie meets an eclectic group of Lillian’s friends and soon-to-be family who will fill out the rest of the wedding court: a sex-minded mom (Wendi McLendon-Covey, Reno 911) with a ton of kids and a biting attitude; a virginal mouse of a newlywed (Ellie Kempler, The Office); bullish sparkplug Meghan (Melissa McCarthy, Mike and Molly), the government-employed sister to the groom; and Helen (Rose Byrne, Get Him to the Greek), a well-to-do housewife trying to strong-arm her way into Annie’s spot as maid-of-honor. Feig realizes that these are all types, and he lets them run loose with their quirky mannerisms, but he doesn’t go too outlandish to make them feel like far-removed caricatures.


Annie’s rattled by the duties and the feeling that her friend’s slipping away, not to mention her own monetary and relationship woes, which zigzags along the significant events in Bridesmaids that hallmark most pre-wedding lead-ups. Sure, if you want to boil it down to the least-common denominator, Feig’s picture can essentially be labeled a female iteration of The Hangover, where the ritual of strippers, alcohol, and wild partying in the groom’s rite of passage are replaced with luncheons, dress-fittings, and bridal showers. But this isn’t a frilly affair, nor is it simply a fantastical lampoon on idealized planning. Compliments of Wiig and Mumolo’s sharply-written script, Lillian’s path down the aisle turns into a stylized elevated-reality daze of misfortune, often due to her best-friend trying to cling onto what she finds familiar by her own means. But it’s got something else behind its gags: when it hits over-the-top notes that play to the dreamed-up fantasies of weddings and the gleeful pre-events, it also double-backs to Annie’s shambled life, lending genuineness to the missteps she makes.

Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Kristen Wiig, and Ellie Kemper in Bridesmaids (2011)
Maybe it’s because the humor’s supported by a heartfelt backbone that it’s both effective and affective, extending beyond its gags into this clever, modest portrait of a woman in a growing stage that just so happens to be hysterically funny. Annie’s shown at her most desperate — sleeping with a slimeball, losing her penniless and destitute battle with the rich-and-beautiful Helen, and slowly but unsuccessfully building a relationship with an affable cop, Rhodes (Chris O’Dowd), who’s got a thing for carrots — and her state informs the hoopla that Wiig and Mumolo have written, always with some underlying purpose that ties back to the lowly baker trying to maintain a stranglehold on her old life. Bridesmaids might be out to prove that the girls are capable of playing just as dirty as the guys.