Thursday, 15 March 2012

Niche Genres: The Buddy Cop Comedy

Continuing with our tour of cinema's more niche genres, here is a look at the Buddy Cop Comedy in honour of 21 Jump Street released this week.

What is a Buddy Cop Comedy? A pair of hilariously-mismatched cops - or other law enforcement types - tackle crime and experience plenty of comedy escapades along the way.

Not to be confused with... Buddy Cop Action films which may contain moments of comedic banter (Lethal WeaponRush Houror Buddy Cop Animal Comedies which is a niche genre of the niche genre (Turner & Hooch, K-9).

Trademarks of the Genre: two cops with different appearances or personalities (or both) will be thrown together against their wishes; a flimsy criminal plot given no thought at all by the writer; token scenes with the criminals which are soon put aside so we can cut back to the comedy antics of the leads; a climatic chase scene; important clues or information arising from entirely random sub-plots; and a really hot female character who is always interested in the more unlikely of the two cops.

Examples: Starsky & HutchRush Hour, Hot FuzzBlue Streak, The Other Guys, Men in Black, Wild Wild West, Pineapple Express and multiple occurrences within The Police Academy series.

Highlights of the Genre: all the perks of a comedy but with added guns and explosions! Plus, opposite types being forced to work together is always a good recipe for comedy. 

Limitations of the Genre: Buddy Cop Comedies are primarily comedies rather than an equal mash-up of two genres. This means they are typically low on plot and any crime fans will be sorely disappointed. There is also an absence of female characters. Why are there no Buddy Female Cop Comedies? Get Kirsten Wiig on the case.

Best Example: Hot Fuzz - the only British example that springs to mind with a great double-act from the well-established duo of Pegg and Frost. Although, what makes this really stand-out, is the huge amount of referencing to Hollywood action films and so a lot of the comedy is generated from parodies and in-jokes, rather than the usual tired mix of slapstick and bickering. Repeat viewings are essential.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Angry Birds: The Movie

Just discovered this brilliant trailer for Angry Birds: The Movie.

Obviously, this is a spook trailer but an Angry Birds movie might not be as far-fetched as you think. Mikael Hed, creator of Angry Birds, purchased a Helsinki animation studio to create Angry Birds cartoons and the first of these aired on Nickelodeon over Christmas, titled 'Wreck the Halls'.

Meanwhile, David Maisel, executive producer of Thor and Iron Man, has been hired by Hed to get production started on a feature film. Therefore, Angry Birds may actually be hitting your screens a few years from now.

But for now, just enjoy the live-action silliness below.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Niche Genres: The British Dramedy

Continuing with our tour of cinema's more niche genres, here is a look at the British Dramedy in honour of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, released last week.

What is a British Dramedy film? A British film with both comedic and dramatic elements.

Not to be confused with... British comedies (Shaun of the Dead, Johnny English) or British romantic comedies (Love, Actually, Notting Hill) or British dramas (Harry Brown, This Is England).

Trademarks of the genre: British Dramedies are typically feel-good films with catchy soundtracks and big British names on the cast list. There will be family-friendly laughs, although the overall gag-rate will be low. The light-hearted moments will be punctuated with scenes that deal with Serious Issues (growing old, unemployment, suicide, death), which is usually how the aforementioned big British names were attracted to the film in the first place. Also, expect lots of stereotypical Britishness to amuse an international audience: mainly teabags, a Brit-pop soundtrack and use of the word 'bugger'.

Examples: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (reviewed here), The Full Monty, Billy Elliott, Calendar Girls, Cemetery Junction, The Boat That Rocked.

Highlights of the Genre: if done right, a mixture of comedy and drama will guarantee you both laughs and tears: a rewarding experience for cinema-goers. The overall Britishness can be very refreshing, especially considering most films on the big screen are imported from America.

Limitations of the Genre: if done badly, rather than get the best of both worlds, you get an mediocre delivery of each genre. As such, the comedy isn't that funny and the drama isn't that moving. Also, the trailers for British dramadies usually market them as a comedy to attract a wider audience. This means that most - if not all - of the gags are crammed into the trailer.

Best Example: About A Boy - Hugh Grant delivers a career-best as proud lone-wolf Will, providing hilarious cathartic moments to counterbalance the dramatic story-lines: namely Nicholas Hoult's Marcus getting bullied and Toni Collette as his mother battling depression. Add to that an Oscar-nominated screenplay and a purpose-built soundtrack from Badly Drawn Boy and you have the perfect example of a British Dramedy.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Looking Back... February 2012

February in a Tweet: Award Season ends with The Artist sweeping both BAFTAs & Oscars whilst green frogs, black ghosts and golden marigolds hit the cinemas.

Everyone was talking about: ...Angelina Jolie flaunting most of her right leg at the Oscars. That's one way to steal the headlines from the winners.

Best Film: Chronicle - elements of Carrie, Cloverfield and X-Men in one big 'found footage' mash-up.

Biggest Disappointment: Young Adult - Ivan Reitman finally stumbles with his underwhelming fourth feature.

Best Actor: Dev Patel, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - perfect casting. Patel plays Sonny, the lovable, hilarious, glass-half-full hotel manager.

Best Actress: Charlize Theron, Young Adult - the film might have been disappointing but Theron was on top form as the mentally-unstable, ageing prom queen.

Best Line: whilst struggling with his identity in The Muppets, Walter sings: "Am I a Muppet, or am I a man? If I'm a man, I'm a Muppet of a man!" 

Best Scene: the three teenagers in Chronicle decide to test their powers by pulling pranks in a toy shop and scaring a poor girl with a floating teddy bear. Awesome!

Other Best Scene: the entire Oscar-winning 'Man or Muppet' song from The Muppets. Especially, the cameo from The Big Bang Theory's Sheldon.

Tearjerker Moment: Kermit the Frog looking upon portraits of his old friends. I swear I could see tears glistening in those ping pong ball eyes.

Best Newcomer: director Josh Trank for his debut, Chronicle. It is no surprise that he is already the hot favourite for the Fantastic Four reboot.

RIP: Whitney Houston (star of The Bodyguard) was found submerged in the bathtub of suite 434 of the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Also, David Kelly (Waking Ned, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory) died at the age of 82. The Irish Times referred to him as "the grand old man of Irish Acting."

Films Seen: Chronicle, Young Adult, The Muppets, The Woman in Black, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Average The Big Fairbanski Star Rating: 3.4