Duets: Poltergeist and Spy

spy 2

OMG, guys!!! I’m FINALLY doing another movie review!!! In fact, I’m not reviewing one movie, but TWO!!! Sigh. It’s nice to have a bit of time to write again. 🙂 June was a crazy month. Here’s to a (hopefully) chill July. Anyway, boy do I have a pair of vastly different movies for you today. And I’m not just talking about the genres. One movie is one of my favorite movies of the year. The other…not so much. Have you already guessed which is which? Probably. Nonetheless, let’s sing another little Duet, shall we?

Poltergeist

poltergeist 2015

Synopsis: “A family whose suburban home is haunted by evil forces must come together to rescue their youngest daughter after the apparitions take her captive.” –www.imdb.com

The High Notes:

  • Not just one scary clown doll, but a big ol’ pile of terrifying clowns. In fact, when poor Griffin (Kyle Catlett) unearths this unholy mountain of dolls, it’s probably the creepiest moment in the film.
  • Sam Rockwell. Granted, this is far from the best character he’s had to work with, but he still does a solid job as Bowen family patriarch Eric. Rockwell and his wisecracks can make anything better.
  • Kennedi Clements is adorable. As Madison, the youngest sib of the Bowen family, she is just too cute for words. In fact, I think it’s safe to call her the breakout star of this film. If this movie achieves nothing else, let’s have it be the start of a successful career for her.

The Low Notes:

  • The teenage daughter in this is the worst. I realize this is often the case with teenage characters in horror movies, but Kendra (Saxon Sharbino) is the worst from the get-go and pretty consistently terrible throughout the whole film.
  • Jared Harris is no Zelda Rubinstein. Not at all. They try to make him interesting as this gruff, mysterious, super cool TV psychic, but he lacks all of Rubinstein’s delightful sass, and I just don’t care about him. Sorry, man.
  • Not only is it not as good as the original, but there’s not enough fresh or new in it to justify its existence. It’s a dull, predictable retread that tries so hard to honor its predecessor, yet by doing that, it plays it completely safe and changes almost nothing. It begs the question, “Why bother?”

The Staccato Version: Honestly, Poltergeist isn’t terrible. Of course, it’s not good either. It just…is. There are some decently creepy things. Rockwell and Clements are great. As for everything else…meh. It’s hard to remake a much-loved horror film like Poltergeist, but if you’re going to take the chance—and I’m talking to you, director Gil Kenan—it seems like you ought to be able to do something more interesting with it. I feel the same way about this as I did about Carrie. That is, I left the theater asking, “Now why did we need to remake this again?”

My Grade: C-

Spy

spy

Synopsis: “A desk-bound CIA analyst volunteers to go undercover to infiltrate the world of a deadly arms dealer, and prevent diabolical global disaster.” –www.imdb.com

The High Notes:

  • Melissa McCarthy. I know some people have a thing against her or whatever, but you know what? If you’re one of those people, you need to get over that. Because she is amazing in this movie. I know McCarthy has been typecast lately as weird and/or obnoxious characters, but as CIA analyst Susan Cooper, she is simply wonderful. She’s smart, she’s kickass, and she’s hilarious just by being a normal, quick-witted person. No weirdness or smartass humor. She’s genuinely funny. I really think she’s a character worth rooting for.
  • The supporting cast. Jude Law is fun and charmingly goofy as prettyboy superspy Bradley Fine. Rose Byrne is delightfully bitchy as the villainous Raina. Allison Janney is perfectly cast as no-nonsense CIA Director Elaine Crocker. Jason Statham is an absolute riot as ridiculously serious and “hardcore” spy Rick Ford (who creates more problems than solutions). But the real surprise for me was the relatively unknown Miranda Hart as Susan’s faithful, silly sidekick Nancy. I really hope to see more from Hart because she cracked me up in this.
  • Director Paul Feig injecting ladies into action-comedy. I realize that he already did this two years ago with The Heat, but I think this is definitely the superior film. It’s a clever, hilarious semi-spoof on James Bond, but the twist is that all the power goes to the ladies. And you should definitely see some of those McCarthy action sequences. They make that gal look tough, and it’s awesome. As a tough lady myself (or so I’d like to believe), it does my heart good to see such a spectacular female character.

The Low Notes:

  • I didn’t quite understand why 50 Cent was in this. His stuff didn’t really make me laugh, though I think it was supposed to. It just kind of made me go, “Oh. 50 Cent us still around?” If this film had been released 10 to 15 years ago, I’m sure it would’ve been a bigger deal.
  • Jude Law is, sadly, sans his English accent. Like, okay, whatever—it’s not a huge But you know how some British actors just sound weird when they do American accents? I feel that way about Law’s accent. It’s not bad, just…naked, somehow. Does that make sense? Probably not. Couldn’t he have just been English?! :/
  • Morena Baccarin is severely underused. She pops up for, I think, two scenes in this movie? I like Baccarin, and I think it would’ve been cool to see a bit more of her in superspy mode. But that’s a pretty minor complaint.

The Staccato Version: I really, really enjoyed Spy. In fact, I’d put it neck and neck with What We Do in the Shadows for my favorite comedy of the year so far. McCarthy is in her best role yet, the supporting cast is fantastic, the humor is spot-on, the action is exciting, and the film is just a blast from start to finish. Plus, much like Mad Max it’s got some serious girl power going on. If you haven’t seen this one yet, you should probably change that.

My Grade: A-

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30 thoughts on “Duets: Poltergeist and Spy

  1. haven’t seen either yet…I recall enjoying the original poltergeist as a kid, but I’m more weary these days of venturing into Horror territory.

    I’ll probably see Spy eventually, eventhough I think the whole MM craze has gotten to be too diluted and just isn’t funny enough anymore

    Great reviews!

  2. Haven’t seen Poltergeist (doesn’t sound like one I ought to be rushing out to see anyway) but I completely agree with you about Spy. Such a funny, genre-stabbing movie. Laughed so much at The Stath. Loved that the women drove the film too. Great work Cara!

    Adam.

    • Thanks, Adam! Yeah you can skip Poltergeist. Lol. But I’m so glad you liked Spy!! Just such a fun film. And, yes, “The Stath” killed it. Bwahaha.

  3. Holy moly, you’re back! I can’t deal with scary films but I did see Spy! I love Melissa McCarthy but her last couple of films have been pants, so I was SO happy to see her back on top form here!
    – Allie

  4. So glad to see you back reviewing. You would be one of the best people to hear a commentary from. Superb posts as always. If you like Miranda hart, you’ll love her sitcom, Miranda.

  5. I have something against McCarthy and I am NOT gonna get over it!!! Lol. As for Poltergeist… Ugh. Yeah, what’s the point? Remakes really annoy me. Although I’m sure I’ll watch it on TV. Then bitch about it. 😉

  6. Yeah, Spy was a really nice surprise for me. I didn’t see any of McCarthy’s previous collaborations with Paul Feig but this may just make me go and watch The Heat and . . . maybe even make me eat my words. 🙂 As for Poltergeist, um yeah. . . no thanks. 😉

    • Tommmmm! Hey, bud! I’m thrilled you liked Spy, too! It really was just a blast. I think you might like The Heat…but it’s not near Spy’s level, I’m afraid. Ugh. Yeah don’t even with Poltergeist. Bahaha.

      • I spy with my little eye an Oscar for Melissa McCarthy fairly soon . She was downright hilarious. I’m having a hard time actually writing the review without making it all about her haha

        • You can totally make it all about her. She killed it in Spy. Although Statham cracked me up, too. That man needs go do more comedies. Now you just need to help me convince Mutant that if she sees Spy she won’t hate Melissa McCarthy anymore…

  7. Pingback: JayceLand's Reviews featuring The End of the Tour and moreJayceLand

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