News Column

One way or another, we've seen this before ; FILMSTHE WAY WAY BACK (12A)

September 1, 2013


ASHY young man discovers himself while working at a theme park. If any of that sounds familiar, that's because you've seen 2009's Adventureland starring Jesse Eisenberg.

Now comes this eerily similar coming-of-age comedy that makes up in laughs what it lacks in originality.

Liam James is a shy 14-year-old forced to accompany his mum and her boyfriend (Toni Collette and Steve Carell) on their summer hols to a New England resort.

Bored and bullied by Carell's passive/aggressive manner - "I rate you a three out of 10," he tells the poor lad - Liam finds work at a rundown water park run by the eccentric Sam Rockwell.

There's never any doubt where it's all heading, and the exuberance of Rockwell - clearly channelling Ryan Reynolds' character from Adventureland - wears mighty thin, mighty quickly.

Despite this, there are laughs aplenty, with Allison Janney an absolute hoot as an alcoholic neighbour.

It's all funny enough to mask that distinct whiff of deja vu.

ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US 3D (PG) THE hormonal heat haze created at last week's London premiere of the boy band's movie was so intense it was actually visible from space. It's a pity the film is somewhat less than out of this world.

While Directioners won't be disappointed with 92 access-all- areas minutes of Harry Styles and the other four on tour, this is very much an authorised look at the One Direction phenomenon. The lads' rough edges haven't just been airbrushed out, they've been sandblasted into oblivion.

Kicking off with a gig at London's O2, we trace the boys' childhoods, their appearance on The X Factor in 2010 and the effects of their subsequent megastardom. The rest of the running time is taken up with live performances stage - the Direction movie around the globe, backstage larks and interviews with the boys talking about how normal they are. In fact, normal is very much the buzzword here with the 'success hasn't changed us' message front, back and centre.

As music docs go, director Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) breaks precisely zero new ground, with the whole package closely resembling the recent Justin Bieber and Jonas Brothers concert movies.

Given that Simon Cowell, who brought the group together, is the executive producer, perhaps we shouldn't have expected the boyband answer to The Filth And The Fury. But, for the sake of teenage lads everywhere, you pray Harry, Niall, Zayn, Liam and Louis aren't really this squeaky clean.

YOU'RE NEXT (18) THE buzz surrounding this home invasion horror was that it has the brains to reinvent the sub-genre, in much the same way slasher films were reborn with Wes Craven's Scream. Like hell...

Children and partners descend on their parents' country pile as they celebrate their 35th anniversary, before they start mysteriously disappearing.

Stocked with the standard cliches of masked intruders, a remote house in the sticks and a young cast going into basements alone, there's not one thing here we haven't seen a million times before. What is missing, mind, are intelligence, wit and irony. Next!

PAIN & GAIN (15) AMID his credentials as a twice Oscar-nominated thesp and sometime action hero, Mark Wahlberg's gift for comedy is all-too often overlooked. Just take a look at last year's Ted if you need any convincing.

Here he gives another laugh-out-loud turn, as none too bright bodybuilder Daniel who convinces two fellow beefcakes (Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie) to kidnap a businessman and then steal his money.

Based, extremely loosely on a true story, Pain & Gain is a perfectly decent crime movie heightened by coal-black humour, mostly revolving around the villains' sheer stupidity.

And stupidest of all is Daniel, whom Wahlberg brings to tragic but hilarious life, his nostrils flaring and panic filling his voice as indignity piles upon indignity.

He makes Messrs Carrey, Ferrell and Black look like comedy amateurs.

ABOUT TIME (12A) WE'RE doing the timewarp again as a young man learns that his family has the gift of travelling back through history.

Written and directed by Richard "Four Weddings And A Funeral" Curtis, the sci-fi premise is merely a peg on which to hang his usual ingredients of bumbling but lovable Brits, postcard scenery, a transatlantic romance and Bill Nighy's umpteenth performance as a likable old fart. Heck, there's even a wedding and a funeral.

Released on Wednesday.

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