Tom Basham

Trainwreck

In This Just OUT on July 17, 2015 at 2:17 pm

Trainwreck_posterI just saw “Trainwreck,” and it is very touching and off the rails funny. So get your ticket, climb aboard and enjoy the ride of your life.

Amy (Amy Schumer from “Price Check“) learns at a young age that relationships don’t last. She does the “walk of shame” like she’s curing cancer and expects nothing more out of life than a good time and that a little penicillin will solve all her problems.

As a magazine writer, she is assigned to write a story about Aaron (Bill Hader from “The Skeleton Twins“) who is an ace sports medicine doctor. Amy plays her own game when Aaron asks her out on a date. The problem is he is a decent guy who likes her, and that’s just not in her playbook. This is a girl-meets-boy story where the traditional roles are reversed. Aaron is the one who has not dated much and Amy is the one that does not want to settle down. Aaron is all buttoned down and professional while Amy goes through life in a sorority girl/Holly Golightly kind of way.

Amy is uncomfortable with real intimacy where each person cares deeply about the other. She is always on the lookout for that first bump in the road, like an argument or complaint about her drinking or inappropriate comments. She knows it’s coming, as she knows she is not the kind of person who nice guys will put up with. She has stolen that move from guys where you don’t break up with someone, you just behave so horribly that they will break up with you.

What makes this movie so unique is that all the relationship dynamics are funny, and I mean slap-your-knee funny. It’s grounded so well in the characters that even when it is sad, it’s funny because it rings true.

This movie has everything, including Lebron James, who plays Aaron’s friend and confidant. Somehow James does not seem out of place as he steals every scene he’s in like it’s Game Seven. I will let you be surprised by all the cameos in the movie that add something to the piece without falling into cliché.

I can’t ignore that Judd Apatow (“This is 40”) is at the stick in this out-of-control locomotive of laughter. Like any great artist, he works with great subjects and his fingerprints are in the funny, shaded by the tender moments that make us care about what happens to these people. While I usually get a good chuckle at a comedy, I have to admit that I laughed so hard at this movie that I could not breathe. This has not happened in decades, and for that I must give this movie 4 ½ stars out of 5. Finally, a romantic comedy where the funniest moments are not in the trailer.

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker. Here is a link to his movie review site:
 https://bashmovies.wordpress.com

Inside Out

In This Just OUT on June 20, 2015 at 1:24 pm

inside-out-poster-2I just saw “Inside Out” and it turned me… into a kid again. A happy kid, so see if you can catch my choo-choo train of thought.

Riley (Kaitlyn Dias from “The Shifting”) is 11 years old and has led a great life in Minneapolis. When her parents move to San Francisco, she has to leave her friends and cope with a new house, school and city. Fortunately, Riley’s command center of five emotions is usually run by Joy (Amy Poehler from “They Came Together“), who keeps her smiling and able to deal with just about anything. Still, this move has the other emotions on alert, and Sadness (Phyllis Smith from “Bad Teacher“) is acting very strange. Nobody likes Sadness, as she always brings everyone down, and this just makes Sadness, well, sad.

When Joy and Sadness are mistakenly thrown out of the command center, Riley has only Fear (Bill Hader from “The Skeleton Twins“), Anger (Lewis Black from “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles“) and Disgust (Mindy Kaling from “This Is the End“) to rely upon. This is much easier to follow in the movie, unless Disgust is at your controls. The movie does such a clever job of showing what makes a child stable. How a personality is formed and the pillars that hold a person together are explained so well we all can see the blueprint of ourselves.

This overall concept has been done before, but never like this. To show what is going on in a child’s mind is a clinical and cinematic feat for a feature film. Kids will enjoy the comical calamity of Joy being lost and Sadness feeling like she doesn’t belong. Adults will know what the loss of Joy in our life means, and when we express ourselves with Anger, Disgust and Fear instead of Sadness. We are all like Riley, going through life with this mix of emotions who don’t always play well together.

Writer/Director Pete Docter (“Up”) pulled at our heartstrings with balloons in the past, and I was worried the concept of a depressed child would be too harsh for the animated screen. After seeing it in a theater packed with a lot of laughing little rug rats, I can see the magic in his medicine. For a medium like this to provide a means of communication between kids and their parents is a marvel – and a marvelous thing. For that reason I must give this movie 4 ½ stars out of 5. And by the way, it is laugh out loud hilarious.

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker. Here is a link to his movie review site:
 https://bashmovies.wordpress.com

Spy

In This Just OUT on June 6, 2015 at 12:41 pm

spy_POSTERI had to see “Spy” because I had to know the truth: Could Paul Feig (“The Heat”) be the new comic genius he seems to be?

Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy from “St. Vincent”) has been at the CIA for 10 years. She’s one of the behind-the-scenes people who coordinate the activities of her favorite agent Bradley Fine (Jude Law from “The Grand Budapest Hotel“). When Fine gets killed and loses track of a suitcase nuclear bomb, the CIA finds out that the bad guys know the identities of all their undercover agents.

The next best agent, Rick Ford (Jason Statham from “Wild Card“), wants to go after them, but his cover is blown. Susan volunteers for field duty to get vengeance against those who killed Fine. Her experience with the case and anonymity trump her lack of field experience. While Susan goes off on her first field assignment, Ford goes rogue to break the case on his own. Of course he and Susan keep running into each other and the clash of class and styles is comical.

McCarthy is at her best when she is being underestimated. This genre and this character are a good fit for her. Her training helps her solve the case. However, her instinct is to overcome her insecurities with sarcasm and smart-ass remarks. It works for the character, and it works for the humor, and it’s just unconventional enough to solve the case and save the world.

Feig has struck the right tone here, where the bullets are real and nobody is going for the joke. The funny falls out of the farce created by McCarthy bringing her special skills to the spy scene. She has a fight scene in a kitchen that is as good as any I have seen. The fact that it’s in a kitchen just plays off the gender stereotype that takes a beating here too.

I really enjoyed this movie. They didn’t try too hard or make everything into some kind of hack joke. I was surprised and pleased with each plot twist and impressed by how they made a good movie first and a funny movie just seemed to happen organically out of the characters and the situation. For that reason, I must give this movie 4 stars out of 5. This answered my age-old question; when you need a great comedy, who are you gonna call? Feig and McCarthy start shooting “Ghostbusters” in two weeks.

Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker. Here is a link to his movie review site:
 https://bashmovies.wordpress.com

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