An A-list cast works at this comic crowd-pleaser about a bunch of regular guys looking to get some measure of justice after being fleeced by a Ponzi scheme. The heist that results is adequately suspenseful, but for a film that is clearly supposed to be driven by gags, there is precious little laughter. Put together with an everything-and-the-kitchen-sink abandon, plot devices and gags from a host of other films are haphazardly thrown into the mix. Even with headliners Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy, who both have, on occasion, aspired to the heights of comic genius, and strong support from the likes Alan Alda, Casey Affleck and Matthew Broderick, Tower Heist never quite manages to come together as anything other than a pleasing 104 minutes of forgettable entertainment.
Eating Out: Drama Camp
There is more camp than drama in this fourth iteration of Q. Allan Brocka’s rom-com with its host of lovely lads, buff bodies, and heavy innuendo. Eating Out might be thought of as a gay version of the American Pie franchise, and has a thematic focus that is resolutely below the belt. Though the film carries on a story outlined in previous installments, it works perfectly well on its own. The relationship between Casey (Daniel Skelton) and Zack (Chris Salvatore) is in the doldrums, and a stint at an acting school, where Zack gets the hots for roommate Benji (Aaron Milo), increases the strain. There are moments in Drama Camp that are touching as characters work through confused emotions, some well handled sex scenes that provide a hint of soul along with the requisite hot, heaving bodies, but the film sticks pretty much to a strict rom-com formula.
Bunny Drop (Usagi Doroppu)
The idea for Bunny Drop, by Japanese director Sabu, is not new. It traces its cinematic heritage back to the silent era of Charlie Chaplin’s The Kid, and through a host of contemporary adaptations of comedies about men coping with children such as Three Men and a Baby. In the case of Bunny Drop, Daikichi (Kenichi Matsuyama), a 30-year-old salaryman, volunteers to raise 6-year-old Rin (Mana Ashida), the love child of his recently deceased grandfather. The reasons for his choice and how he manages to deal with the child are all well-handled, and while there is good chemistry between the leads, the almost complete lack of friction and the manic attempts to keep things light make the whole concoction too bland to be memorable.
That’s the Way! (Korede iinoda! Eiga Akatsuka Fujio)
Madcap Japanese comedy directed by Hideaki Sato featuring Tabanobu Asano as crazed genius manga artist Fujio Akatsuka, who first makes life hell for the young and serious new editor at his publishing company (Maki Horikita), before inevitably teaching her to loosen up and discover her inner joy. The film makes ample use of magical realism that has the characters entering a world conjured up by the artist’s comic creativity. Akatsuka is a real-life cartoonist, and the film is based on a novel by Toshiki Takei, who actually has worked with the cartoonist as his editor.
Little White Lies (Les petits mouchoirs)
Friends come together and in the close proximity of what is supposed to be a relaxing holiday, loyalties, friendships and suppressed jealousies are tested or exposed. Little White Lies is an ensemble piece in the manner of The Big Chill or Peter’s Friends, with a cast of fine actors who are able to develop situations of intense intimacy, humor and sadness. Writer/director Guillaume Canet handles his material with sensitivity, but at 154 minutes, the film drags a little.