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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Ricky Gervais

Stardust (2007)

Better than Goldust’s brother.

Tristan (Charlie Cox), a young man from the town of Wall, a small, quaint and lovely little town on the border of Stormhold, a magical kingdom where all sorts of crazy things happen. To hopefully win the heart and the hand of his girlfriend Victoria (Selma Miller), Tristan enters the magical world to collect a fallen star, in hopes that he’ll obviously win her over, but prove that he is quite the man that he always thought he could be. After little issues here and there, Tristan eventually collects the star who, to his surprise, is a woman named Yvaine (Claire Daines). However, Tristan isn’t the only one who’s looking for Yvaine; numerous witches, Kings, Queens, Princes, and Princesses also want this star and will do anything to get it, by any means. So now, Tristan’s job just got a whole lot harder. Not to mention that he and Yvaine, while initially not being able to get along with one another at all, start to see each other as equals and even, well, connect. In possibly more ways than Tristan has been able to ever do with his possible future-wife.

A pretty hot star.

Matthew Vaughn is probably the perfect director for a Neil Gaiman book, because no matter how strange, or action-packed, or even tense things get, Vaughn remembers not to take everything all that seriously. Meaning that we do get a lot of jokes aimed at the material, but it’s also very funny in the same way that the Princess Bride was – it respects the fantasy-genre up until the point of where it realizes how ridiculous it truly is. That’s a lot of Gaiman’s material and while there’s been plenty of attempts at recreating the same kind of odd-style that he has, Vaughn’s perhaps the closest one to achieving that.

And yes, it also helps that the movie is buckets of fun, reminding us that, when he isn’t trading quips and smart-ass remarks, Vaughn knows how to keep the action moving and exciting. Cause Stardust is a little over two-hours and about a bunch of silly witches and knights battling it out for a star, it can be a bit too much to ask for a non-lover of the fantasy genre. And yes, I am one of them.

However, Stardust is a much different tune.

It’s in on its own joke, it never really relies too much on exposition, or world-building, or certain other tricks and trades of these kinds of stories that can tend to make them a bit annoying. The story itself is already pretty straightforward and thankfully, Vaughn doesn’t try to over-complicate things; he keeps it simple, effective and most importantly, fun. He could have done anything he wanted with this movie and I wouldn’t have cared, because he knows how to keep it fun, even when you least expect it to remain as such.

That’s Michelle Pfeiffer? Uh. Yeah. Time has not done well for her.

And a whole bunch of that fun extends to the cast, too, who are, as expected, game for this kind of silly material. Charlie Cox, in a pre-Daredevil role, shows a great deal of charm as Tristan, a dork-of-a-man who we like right from the get-go and sort of stand-by, no matter where he goes, or what he does. Claire Danes is also quite great as Yvaine, the star with a whole butt-load of personality. Danes knows how to make this wacky material work and come-off not so wacky, and yes, her and Cox have a neat little bit of chemistry that transcends most other movies that are just like this.

In that we actually care and want them to get together in the end.

The rest of the cast is, thankfully, having a ball here. Michelle Pfeiffer shows up as the main evil witch, vamping it up and having an absolute ball; Robert De Niro may seem out-of-place, initially, as a pirate, but really blends in with this goofy-world; Mark Strong is, as usual, charming and a lot of fun as Prince Septimus, Tristan’s ultimate foe; and well, there’s plenty more where that came from. The real joy is just getting a chance to see everyone here show up, have a good time, and not make us feel like we aren’t involved with it, either.

We are and that’s the greatest joy of all.

Consensus: Despite its silliness, Stardust wears its heart and soul on its sleeve, with a fun and exciting pace, matched by an even more charming ensemble.

8 / 10

There were a lot of Italian pirates back in those days, people! Come on!

Photos Courtesy of: Paramount Pictures

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David Brent: Life on the Road (2017)

Never give up on a dream. As crummy as it may be.

It’s been awhile since we’ve last seen or heard from David Brent (Ricky Gervais), and while his career as a D-List star didn’t quite pan-out to much, he’s now using whatever fortune he has left over to go out on the road with his band, Foregone Conclusion. Of course, he’s paying for it all, isn’t getting paid-leave from his work, and doesn’t really know, or get along with any of the other members in the band, but David is living out of his dream of hitting the road and giving audiences some sweet tunes. However, David does come to terms with the fact that his career may not be the best thing for him at this point in his life, and it may also be financially draining him, with money being spent on all sorts of crazy costs like hotel rooms, cars, set decorations, PR reps, food, beer, and yes, mini-bars. But still, David will not let all of these issues stand in the way of living the life of an absolute rock star, even if there’s no audience to really see that.

Always need the hype-man, no matter the genre.

Always need the hype-man, no matter the genre.

Ricky Gervais has, believe it or not, grown a lot since the Office. But at the same time, he’s still kind of living in the shadow of David Brent, so it’s not all that surprising to see him go back and see what Brent’s up to, even all of these years later. And sure, it’s more than enough to give someone pause, seeing an actor go back to their most iconic role, but Life on the Road shows us that there’s more than just nostalgia’s sake to catch back up with Brent.

Sure, it’s great to see him be awkward, say mean, nasty things to those around him, and make a general ass of himself, but the way Brent is made out to be, it’s hard to ever hate him. That’s how he was on the show, and that’s how he is here, which is why no matter how hard he tries, Gervais will never be able to get out of the shadow of that character, even if he definitely has come close. And it’s also why Life on the Road proves to be a very enjoyable trip down memory-lane, in some ways, to realize that the Brent character can continue to live on and on, still be the same person, and can still be loved by all of those who fell in love with him over a decade ago.

Does that mean we always need to see a David Brent movie? Probably not, but hey, it’s nice to have around.

Eat your hearts out, ladies.

Eat your hearts out, ladies.

And what’s interesting about Life on the Road, is that it’s not necessarily an Office movie, as much as it’s just a movie about a character from that show. No other iconic and lovable character from that show has an appearance here, nor are there many mentions about that show’s existence – mostly, we just get to see Brent’s life, picking back up after being away from him for over a decade. But it still works; Gervais is great at this character, making each and every conversation he has, turn into an absolute and embarrassing travesty, while at the same time, still making us want to see more from him.

Oh, and it’s also good that the songs are pretty nice to hear, too. For any movie like this, it would have been easy for the songs to be crap, because of how silly they are, but no, there’s actually been some real effort and drive put into how the songs sound and yeah, they sort of work. They’re dumb for sure, but they still work, given the movie’s context.

But it’s really hard to talk much more about Life on the Road and go on and on about it because, after all, it’s relatively forgettable. It’s nice to get this refresher of Brent, see how he’s doing, and what sort of an ass he’s still being, but when all is said and done, the movie is still an-hour-and-a-half long episode of the Office, just without everyone else. This time, it’s just Gervais being Brent and that’s about it. It’s still fun to watch, but when it’s over, it may leave the mind immediately.

Still, it’s a hell of a lot better than Special Correspondents – whatever the hell that was.

Consensus: As a nice and refreshing reminder on why we loved the title character in the first place, Life on the Road proves that Gervais can still perfect this character and give us plenty to laugh at.

6.5 / 10

Can't compete.

Can’t compete.

Photos Courtesy of: The Playlist

The Invention of Lying (2009)

If you think about it, can’t all religious text possibly be “lies”? #Controversial

Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais) is so down-on-his-luck that he’s practically given up now. While he has an okay job as a screenwriter and a nice apartment to live in, he lives in a world nobody is able to lie, so therefore, nobody ever does something for another person cause its the right thing to do. This means that Mark has to go out on a lot of dates where the girls he meets don’t really like him, nor do they ever expect to take anything further than just a simple date and leaving it at that. One date in particular, with Anna (Jennifer Garner), Mark seems to want more out of, but because he, according to her, is “fat and ugly”, the relationship will never work. But somehow, on one fateful day, Mark decides that he has the rare ability to, believe it or not, lie. This means that everyone around him will believe anything he says and can basically get away with whatever he oh so pleases to get away with. Clearly, this means that Mark’s going to do some easily questionable things that are for his own self-gain, but eventually, he starts to realize that it doesn’t matter if you can lie the rest of your life and get away, all that does matter is that you feel something lovely and true.

is the handsome, slack-jawed man her choice?

is the handsome, slack-jawed man her choice?

The Invention of Lying has so much promise that it’s an absolute shame watching went goes down with it. For one, this world that’s been created here, while yes, a tad odd and unconventional, is still an interesting one that you can spend a whole miniseries on, exploring every piece by piece, while also having some real great fun, with jokes and all that. And for awhile, the movie seems like it’s more than up to that opportunity; a commercial with Coca-Cola is perhaps the funniest moment of the whole movie, only to then be up-staged by a Pepsi ad moments later. There’s other bits and pieces in which Gervais explores this world a whole lot more than just having people blurt out mean, nasty and cruel things, but yeah, what eventually happens isn’t good.

And yes, this is a huge problem.

After awhile, it seems like co-directors Gervais and Matthew Robinson, truly did want to get deep down into this world, explore it more, find more jokes to make about it, and, if it got to a certain point, make some interesting contrasts to the real world we live in now, but for some reason, they get distracted. Instead of trying to make something that’s really biting, smart and almost satirical, they opt more for the conventional route, where we’re now more interested in whether or not Ricky Gervais’ character is going to get the girl at the end.

Obviously, he probably will, but to see this idea get explored more so than the other ones going on here, is pretty wasteful. Now, of course, I don’t know if this is on behalf of studio interruption, or if the guys themselves just really wanted to make a rom-com with this thing, but either way, it’s a shame to watch after awhile, because the jokes can sometimes be very funny, but sometimes, it doesn’t always hit its mark.

That said, yes, the Invention of Lying can be a pretty funny movie and yes, can deliver on some of its promises.

Or, the very ugly, but ambitious loner?

Or, the very ugly, but ambitious loner?

The whole add-on of religion was not only a nice touch, but a smart one that yes, was commenting on the idea of religion, but wasn’t doing it in an over-the-top way where some people may feel offended or pissed. However, at the same time, those who don’t follow any sort of religion by any means, won’t find themselves pissed that a well-known atheist like Ricky Gervais backed out on his original ideas. It’s just the right amount of poking fun, but also, reservation that makes a movie like this, while not perfect, seem a little more interesting and smarter.

And yeah, it also helps that the cast is pretty darn solid, too. As an ordinary, everyday man gifted with this one spectacular talent, Gervais is a lot of fun, but also, seems like he wants to do more than just be a stand-in for the story. He does give this character a heart and soul, and even though it may not totally work in the grander scheme of things, and just get in the way of the funnier moments of the movie, it still proves that Gervais himself isn’t just all about gags and making people laugh uncontrollably. Sometimes, he does like to get a little serious and dramatic and it works in most of his pieces.

Here, maybe not so much.

The reason for that is because it does feel very shoe-horned in, especially when you take into consideration that the movie is less about finding true love, as much as it’s just about the lies we are told and the lies we tell ourselves to make us feel better. Jennifer Garner is fine and, surprisingly, has some sweet chemistry with Gervais, but any moment that the movie seemed to focus on their possible budding-romance, it felt like it was being dragged down by a very heavy anchor that couldn’t be lifted. Once again, this could have been studio interference, but still, that doesn’t make it a worthy excuse. But it’s easy to forgive Gervais because even a movie like the Invention of Lying, while not perfect, still reminds us why he’s one of the smarter, brighter voices in comedy, as well as in animal rights.

You go, Rick.

Consensus: Despite not fully delivering on the promise of its premise, the Invention of Lying is still an entertaining comedy, mostly thanks to the talent working in it.

6 / 10

Or, the snarky Brit? Who knows who she'll choose!

Or, the snarky Brit? Who knows who she’ll choose!

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

Muppets Most Wanted (2014)

Oh, those Muppets. So hip, so meta, so cool.

It has finally happened! The Muppets are back and more popular than ever! The only difference now is that they don’t quite know what to do with all their popularity, that is, until booking-agent Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais) walks into their lives and gives them an offer they can’t refuse: Come along with him, go on a world tour, sell every place out and sooner than later, they’ll be rich, famous and cool all over again. But, the only problem here is that none of the other Muppets know about what Dominic is really up to, which concerns breaking into art galleries all over the world, finding buried-treasure and becoming even more rich than ever before. Also, there is another part of the plan that consists of Kermit getting mistaken for a villainous thief known as “Constantine”, because they look exactly the same, although the latter does have a mole on his face. Either way, the switch-up happens and when Kermit is thrown into a Russian prison, the rest of the Muppets are left with nothing else to do but to just get on with the show and hope for the best, even if they do notice that something rather strange is going on with the “new” Kermit.

To clear things up right away, I absolutely loved and adored the hell out of the latest Muppets movie that came out some odd years back. Not only was it a return-to-form for those lovely puppets I grew up watching and knowing throughout all of my childhood, but it reminded me just how hilarious they actually were, despite me growing up a little bit. Their jokes were a lot more self-knowing, smart, witty, and even, dare I say it, meta. It showed me that the Muppets weren’t only here to stay, but that they could easily continue to have me smiling, laughing and having a great time with them, even as I got older.

For once, Ricky Gervais doesn't know what to say.

For once, Ricky Gervais is left speechless.

Heck, I even watched that holiday special they had with Lady Gaga and RuPaul a couple of months ago!

Anyway, that’s why when I was going into this, I expected to have the same bit of fun I had with the last movie, while still remaining a bit skeptical. Why? Well, because with the first movie, it seemed like there was a lot more at-stake. We hadn’t seen the Muppets pop-up in much for a very long time, nor did we get a movie of theirs for a whole ten or eleven years. So basically, the first movie was created as a tool as to see if these puppets were still popular, or, better yet, could even make some money for those powers-that-be. Thankfully, the movie did both! But that’s why I remained a little weary of what this movie was going to do and if it wasn’t going to stick to its guns like the latest movie did. I felt like they were probably going to try all that they could to strangle a laugh out of us and probably end-up straining themselves in the process.

But somehow, this wasn’t the case here, although some of my fears did come true here, if only a wee bit.

What I think works so well here, as it does with practically anything involving the Muppets, is the humor. It’s the type of humor that works for any and all ages. There’s the older, more-knowing jokes suitable for the more mature crowd; as well as there’s plenty of those slapstick jokes where characters are falling down, blowing stuff up and hitting each other over the heads with whatever they can find, for the younger crowd. It all works very well and barely ever lets up, even if most of those “thoughtful” jokes do, and will, go over most of those younger kids’ heads. Not saying so in a condescending way, just saying that it’s something that you have to expect with a Muppets movie. Or anything involving the Muppets whatsoever.

The next best aspect of this movie is definitely the music which seems like it only gets better the more and more you think about certain lines of lyrics. Sure, there’s nothing along the lines of “Man or Muppet” to be found here, but for what it’s worse, most of the tunes heard here are funny, well-written and better than most of the other crap you hear on the radio nowadays. I mean, seriously, who in the hell is “the Glitch Mob”!??!?

And I guess you could consider the cast to be the next best aspect of this movie, mainly Ty Burrell as a French Interpol inspector that works with Sam the Eagle on this whole big mystery of a plot and is always competing with him as who is the better Secret Service agent. Also, they battle it out on whose badge is bigger, which is a running-gag that never seems to get old. Burrell is probably the only who is more lively and energetic than some of the Muppets here, if only because he has the goofiest, showiest role of them all. Whereas Ricky Gervais and Tina Fey, despite the latter sporting a heavy-Russian accent, don’t really get to do much other than try their very few hands at being funny and holding believable reaction-shots with a bunch of puppets. That’s not taking anything away from Burrell at all, because he truly was hilarious to watch in a campy, over-the-top way. You know, the way you should be when you’re in the same frame as Ms. Piggy, or the Swedish Chef, or especially Kermit himself.

Okay, sure. I guess if the sight of Hornswaggle is a "Spoiler", than whatever.

Okay, sure. I guess if the sight of Hornswoggle is a “Spoiler”, than whatever.

The cameos themselves are all fine and dandy, if totally and completely random. However, that’s exactly what these movies live-off of. Some of the people who show up I’m scared to even give away or spoil, but just know, a few of them will absolute stun you and make you wonder just where the idea of putting this particular person the movie came from. Not all of them are great, but more often than not, they’re pretty strange, but in a good way that the Muppets are always known for featuring.

At the end of the day with this movie, I find myself being totally ecstatic about it, and then, other parts of me find it hard to remember it as perfectly as I did with the first movie. I guess that’s my fault for stacking 30 years of Muppets movies up against one another, but then again, I don’t think it is. As a fan, I think it’s alright to shine a light on the past, and see exactly where the franchise is going. For now, I’m content with the Muppets being around and making us laugh, but still, I hold a little hesitance in my heart, as I know that there could quite possibly be another Muppets from Space, just around the corner. Let’s just hope that’s just another case of me talking out of my backside, and not the harsh, brutal truth.

Consensus: As usual, Muppets Most Wanted assures that our favorite, lovable puppets are still funny and able to make us have a great time, although it is clear that some of the magic is fading away. If only some of it is.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

That "Walter" guy is still around? Meh!

That “Walter” guy is still around? Meh!

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Ghost Town (2008)

Imagine Ghost, but with more comedy.

British funnyman Ricky Gervais (“The Office,” “Extras”) stars in his first feature film lead as Bertram Pincus, a hapless gent who’s pronounced dead, only to be brought back to life with an unexpected gift: a newfound ability to see ghosts. When Bertram crosses paths with the recently departed Frank Herlihy (Greg Kinnear), he gets pulled into Frank’s desperate bid to break up his widowed wife’s (Téa Leoni) pending marriage to another man.

This film is basically one that you probably haven’t heard of. And thats a real darn shame, cause your missing out on something great.

Ghost Town has the obvious romantic comedy cliches that over-load the film early on, and never really stop coming on. It has that It’s a Wonderful Life or Christmas Carol feeling, but with a lot more obvious cliches.

But that is the only problem with this film. Other than that I found this to be a great blend of comedy, romance, and ghosts, and I thought I’d never have to say that again. Writer-director David Koepp does a wonderful job of adding enough dark, and sometimes dry comedy without making it too smart for you not to understand. Also, the film is not just a romantic comedy all the way through, by the end there are actually some good tear-jerking dramatic scenes, mostly cause you are dealing with dead people. The comedy along with its drama is tender and sweet although I will say it is very predictable.

Gervais does great in his American debut role, and acts like a complete dick throughout the whole beginning and by the end you start to like him. His dry sense of humor and deliverance is perfect for this role, and I actually think a lot of his own ad-libs got Leoni actually laughing, and not just a script laugh. Kinnear is good but I couldn’t find whether or not to trust this guy, cause at times we found he was a dick then other times we found he wasn’t.

Consensus: Ghost Town may be highly predictable, but has great dialogue filled with enough of hilarious comedy, and tear-jerking dramatic scenes, and a great lead performance from Gervais.

8.5/10=Matinee!!!