Sunday, April 24, 2011

Dum Maro Dum

Rating : 5/10
Release Date : 22nd April, 2011
Time : 130 minutes
Director : Rohan Sippy ; Writer : Shridhar Raghavan, Charudutt Acharya ; Music : Pritam
Starring : Abhishek Bachchan, Rana Duggabati, Bipasha Basu, Prateik Babbar, Aditya Pancholi, Govind Namdeo, Gantois Gomes

Another slickly shot film that lacks soul. Interesting camera work, editing techniques, lighting and post production are unable to compensate for ordinary acting, uni-dimensional characters and a drugs drama that lacks high points or lethal twists.

Abhishek is a corrupt cop gone straight after his family is killed in a car accident with a drug-high driver. He now is given a licence to clean up Goa, which seems more like a United Nations convention given the various nationalities in the state with their fingers in the lucrative drugs trade. Along the way he meets the good guys, Rana (a singer who wants to help clean up the state for reason or reasons unknown), Prateik (a bright student who agrees to be a carrier only to make enough to be able to pay his US college tuition fee) and Bipasha (Rana’s girlfriend who agreed to be a carrier so that she could get a job as a flight attendant).

The baddies include Aditya Pancholi (with a ridiculous screen name), who is the guy controlling most of the drugs trade and Michael Barbosa, who seemingly controls Aditya. Abhishek’s squad includes a junior cop (not 100% sure but I think its Gantois Gomes, bringing in the Goan flavour and some of the funniest lines (‘it’s a shit job’) and Govind Namdeo, a veteran, who brings sarcastic one liners and an intricate knowledge of the drugs trade to the posse.

The storyline doesn’t hang together coherently enough but cant get into more details for fear of giving the story away. There is a pall of darkness over the film, a sense of tragedy that the sporadic attempts at humour are not strong enough to lift. You sense a little bit of ‘Usual Suspects’ in here but it didn’t manage to build characters as intricate or relatable as in that film. The soundtrack is average, the main love track sung by Papon being the one which will get replayed very often. The title track didn’t work for me but then I’m fully aware that I’m not the target audience for this version.

I liked Rana. He seems to have something about him that promises better in the future, carries himself well. Abhishek is good without ever seeming to be able to bring the intensity or angst to his role, that, for example, his father was able to bring almost effortlessly in several films (Zanjeer, Trishul or even the same production house's Shakti). Bipasha, Prateik, Aditya have roles that don’t demand too much. What really drives the film is its styling – innovative angles, clothing, some very good post production / colouring techniques, locations.

You can sense what was being attempted here and that thought needs to be supported in an era where a lot of films are being made for ‘timepass’. However, unfortunately the thought didn’t really set the screen on fire, flickering more like a candle than a roaring flame. It’s a rocket ship that takes off but then doesn’t really manage to get past the Earth’s atmosphere.

Just Go With It

Rating : 7/10
Release Date : 8th April, 2011 (India)
Time : 117 minutes
Director : Dennis Dugan ; Writer : Allan Loeb, Timothy Dowling (based on the play & the movie ‘Cactus Flower’); Music : Rupert Gregson-Williams
Starring : Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, Brooklyn Decker, Griffin Gluck, Bailee Madison, Nicole Kidman, Nick Swardson, Dave Mathews

Walked in with zero expectations and walked out with a broad smile.

While the storyline is a derivative of the brilliant ‘Cactus Flower’, about a man who pretends to be married (and in this case says horrible things about his wife to garner sympathy) so that he never has to commit to anyone, there are several twists added to keep you interested.

So, Adam Sandler, who accidentally discovers the power of the wedding ring, is doing all great till a chance encounter with the very young and oomphalicious Brooklyn Decker makes him want to commit. However, she doesn’t want to break up a home, wants to meet his wife and then his kids. One thing leads to another and soon they are holidaying in Hawaii together.

Funny subplots include how he persuades his assistant, Jennifer Aniston, to become the pretend wife and her kids (she is a single parent) to become his pretend kids (one of the most funny negotiation meetings ever !). Or the whole thing about Devlin, Jennifer’s college bete noire. Or the man who is Jennifer’s pretend boyfriend and his funny accent. The shopping sequence at Jimmy Choo (‘why are these shoes so expensive, are they made with panda fur? Do the rolling stones come out and perform me’). Or the sheep fight club – possibly the funniest moment of the film.

Jennifer Aniston continues to amaze me, feel she is very under rated as an actress. Able to emote very easily, extremely comfortable during humour scenes, with sarcasm being her forte. And yet, she is able to exude a vulnerability, a natural sensitivity that makes you want to side with her. The fact that she looks stunning helps as well. Brooklyn does what she is hired to do – look young, bouncy (pun intended) and good in a bikini. Adam Sandler am not that quite sure of. He was good here but am not so certain someone else wouldn’t have been better. The kids deserve a very special mention, Bailee with her fake British accent and desire for acting classes and Griffin with his Mafiosi air and deep rooted desire to swim with the dolphins despite not knowing swimming. Nicole Kidman is charming in her special role as well which rounds up a nice cinematic experience.

The beauty of this film was that despite my being intimately familiar with the original storyline, I was constantly surprised. And was made to laugh very loudly on several occasions. Not all of it is plausible, but it's great fun!


Rating : 4/10
Release Date : 4th March, 2011
Time : 107 minutes
Director, Co-writer : Gore Verbinski ; Co-Writers : John Logan, James Ward Byrkit ; Music : Hans Zimmer
Starring (voices of) : Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin, Ned Beatty, Alfred Molina, Bill Nighy, Harry Dean Stanton, Timothy Olyphant, Ray Winstone

This film couldn’t quite decide whether to be a classic western or a spoof of one and so falls in the in-between land where the sun never really shines that brightly. Also, it seriously needed a funnier screenplay (pun intended).

In a story inspired by ‘Chinatown’, Rango is suddenly thrust into the cruel desert and lands up in the town of Dirt where people struggle for water, the most precious resource, which is stored in their bank. The town is under the control of their Mayor, who is stealthily buying up all nearby land which is worthless without the water which is slowly drying up. Rango, in quite funny circumstances, is appointed Sheriff. And then the fun was supposed to begin but instead it gets very serious.

The Mariachi birds, who provide a running singing commentary of the events unfolding, provide some of the funniest moments along with Rango’s running battle with the kite (the bird). The love interest doesn’t really work, neither does the villain, who is too obvious yet doesn’t seem to evoke any resentment / fear from the town folk. The twists don’t curve enough, the jokes don’t go far enough and the music doesn’t stir enough.

So, there you have it. A half baked film, that is neither here nor there. Will definitely not appeal to kids and loses quite a few of the adults too.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Rating : 4/10
Release Date : 1st April, 2011
Time : ~140 minutes
Director : Abhinay Deo ; Writer : Althea Delmas Kaushal ; Music : Shankar, Ehsaan, Loy
Starring : Abhishek Bachchan, Kangna Ranaut, Anupam Kher, Sarah Jane Dias, Jimmy Shergill, Boman Irani, Gauhar Khan, Shahana Goswami

All the cool threads, exotic locations, expensive yachts, slick photography and interesting camera angles cannot mask the lack of soul in this film. A convoluted plot, with twists & turns thrown in almost as if to fulfil a quota, actors who sleepwalk, terrible music and a feeling of déjà vu, of having seen bits and pieces of this film in several other films, ensure that you are applauding for the wrong reasons by the time this film ends.

Four people are brought from different locations under different pretexts to his Greek island by billionaire, Anupam Kher. He has evidence of wrong doing on three of them. There is a murder. The chief investigating officer, Kangna Ranaut is determined to catch the killer, even against the wishes of her boss. Her chief suspect gives her the slip. Some predictable, some unbelievable twists and a couple of hours later, will she get her man ?

The actors possibly took themselves too seriously. The smile, the flair, which are key ingredients to make a thinly plotted film enjoyable, are conspicuous by their absence. The locales are stunning, the styling & clothes amazing. I found issues with the make-up and lighting in some scenes but am possibly being over critical. However, there is very little to like in what we see. Everything is just too pat, falls in place too neatly as it can only in films.

Disappointed that this is the first real turkey I’ve seen from this production house and wondering if this is a case of style overshadowing all substance so dramatically that the entire thing falls flat ?

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Rating : 8/10
Release Date : 8th April, 2011
Time : 96 minutes
Director, Co-writer : Carlos Saldhana; Writer : Don Rhymer; Music : John Powell
Starring : (Voices of) Jesse Eisenberg, Anne Hathway, Leslie Mann, Rodrigo Santoro, Jemaine Clement, Jamie Foxx,, George Lopez, Tracy Morgan, Jeffrey Garcia, Davi Vieira

I had no idea about blue macaw’s prior to this film. Didn’t know they were so funny.

Blu, an originally named blue macaw, is completely domesticated and inseparable from his owner, Linda, who in turn is unabashedly attached to her pet. They live in Minnesota and share a very cozy existence. All that is thrown in turmoil when they find, through Tulio, a bird conservationist, that the species is in danger of extinction and the only hope for proliferating is for Blu to mate with Jewel, a female blue macaw. The only catch is she is based in Rio. And its not only the conservationists who have their eye on the last pair of macaws…

A key strength of Carlos Saldhana, the director of Ice Age, is to create endearing characters. This trait is in full evidence here with Blu, Jewel, Linda, Tulio, Pedro, Nico, Luiz, Rafael and even the ‘baddie’, Nigel, creating a place in our hearts. And setting the film in his hometown ensures some stunning backdrops to the action unfolding on the screen.

Funny situations, witty dialogue abound and lead to several great laugh out loud moments. Blu, for example doesn’t fly & keeps trying to justify this quoting other birds which are flightless. The urge to samba permeates all Brazilian creatures (humans and other animals inclusive) and its only fitting that the climax is during Carneval. And Lionel Ritchie apparently emits the king of mating calls. The music, though, while being nice, is not as brilliant or long lasting as the rest of the film.

Rio, the place always evokes good memories. Don’t think any movie set in this magnificent city can be anything but nice, peppy & cheerful. Right from the classic Blame it On Rio and Dhoom2, everything seems to acquire a happier, rosy hue in keeping with the warm Brazilian spirit. Rio, the film, is no exception. Get ready for bird watching of a different kind….

Thank You

Rating : 4/10
Release Date : 8th April, 2011
Time : 140 minutes
Director, Co-writer : Anees Bazmee; Writer : Rajiv Kaul, Rajan Agarwal, Ikram Akhtar, ; Music : Pritam
Starring : Akshay Kumar, Irrfan Khan, Bobby Deol, Suneil Shetty, Sonam Kapoor, Rimi, Celina Jaitley

A film which purportedly has an anti-infidelity message but uses that an excuse for skin show, crass sexist jokes, lewd songs and is only occasionally brought to life by some funny lines by Irrfan, this is yet another example of a mindless film that passes off as entertainment

Suneil Shetty, Bobby Deol and Irrfan are compulsively unfaithful and also happen to be colleagues. Their wives, Celina, Sonam and Rimi are either unaware or gullibly fall for their hubby’s silly excuses or gang up to make their hubby pay for his sins. They also hire an investigator, Akshay, to help them nail their errant spouses and he turns out to have an agenda of his own…

I liked the fact that it stuck to its storyline and apart from one silly subplot about a ‘King’, didn’t deviate from its main plot point. I liked that Irrfan and Rimi genuinely were funny, he in his deadpan way and she in her over the top, garrulous way

The rest is eminently forgettable including some terrible songs, very uninspired acting (specially Akshay and Sonam), stale jokes and generally poor taste. Even the background score seems inspired by the Mask and in one case, the ever reliable Mission Impossible theme tune.

I didn’t walk into this with great expectations and none were met. There were a few laughs from the sparse audience watching the film so it did connect at some level. It is a lot better than films like CC2C and Kambakkht Ishq, though that is starting at an abysmally low base level…