This celebration of things Simon Pegg [IMDB] (not Simon Pegg’s thing) starts with this 2012 dark comedy. Pegg plays Jack, an unstable author who’s spent the better part of a year researching Victorian serial killers for a new book. He began the project simply to lose the stigma of his unexpected success as a children’s author, but his obsession has led to intense paranoia. When his agent arranges a meeting with an American film producer, his already fragile grip on reality snaps.
Similar to 2011’s excellent “The Lie” [My Review], this explores how the pressures of life can sometimes force good people to make poor choices and, ultimately, how they deal with the consequences. Here, snarky, unpopular high-schooler Norman (Dan Byrd [IMDB]), has recently dealt with the death of his mother and is now watching his father (Richard Jenkins [IMDB]) succumb painfully to stomach cancer. When berated by a schoolmate about his recent flakiness, he blurts out that he has cancer.
A young man is on a path that he wouldn’t have chosen for himself. His passion for photography was abandoned to become a lawyer and follow in his father’s footsteps. His fiancée is controlling and demanding. He’s lost his way. If only there was a crazy old man who could slap him out of his complacency!
Remember the pain of the last time you were dumped? That feeling of betrayal and loss? How you’d mope around the house until the police came to take you to The Hotel where, if you didn’t find a suitable mate in 45 days, you’d be turned into the animal of your choice and let loose in the woods?
25 years ago a team of professional filmmakers came together. Actors, directors, cameramen, special effects and sound crews, set dressers and many others. They had a vision. A vision they were willing to sacrifice for. That dream became a mission. A mission they were willing to suffer for. This movie, the result of their sweat, blood and sanity, is the result of that mission.
At first blush (perhaps second and third, as well) this is a movie trying too hard. It’s a quirky indie comedy/drama that runs, intentionally or not, slavishly through the quirky indie comedy/drama playbook. The question is, does it have anything worthwhile to say?
The overwhelming success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has allowed them a certain leeway; a certain freedom to experiment. While this hasn’t yet resulted in something truly insane, like a film led by a woman, it has allowed them to explore some of the quirkier ideas and characters available in the vast Marvel catalog. Two years ago, this led to the explosive success of Guardians of the Galaxy [IMDB] and now it brings the closest we’ve come to a straight Marvel comedy.
After many years building their skills producing award winning short films, Pixar quietly slipped Toy Story [IMDB] onto the big screens in 1995. Initially a curiosity – it was the first feature-length computer animated film – it quickly won over audiences and critics. The movie became an instant classic and established Pixar as a force to be reckoned with.
This initial success was short lived. It was replaced by mind-numbing, Earth-shattering success. Their 16 feature films have earned 12 Oscars and over four billion dollars in ticket sales (and that’s not counting the billions more in home media, partnerships and merchandising). No studio in history has enjoyed such a consistent record over such a long period of time.