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Posts Tagged ‘feud’

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As it is the season to be jolly (fa-la-la-la-laaaaa-la-la-la-la) I thought I would give this festive comedy a watch. It stars Matthew Broderick as Dr Steve Finch, an uptight but well-meaning family man, who organises Christmas like a military operation in his determination to make sure his children enjoy it. His more laid-back wife Kelly (Kristin Davis) bemusedly but loyally supports his efforts to manufacture new Christmas traditions and his need to control everything.

Trouble starts when new neighbours Buddy and Tia Hall (Danny DeVito and Kristin Chenoweth) and their twin teenage daughters Ashley and Emily (Kelly and Sabrina Aldridge) move into the house across the road. Buddy – in a somewhat ridiculous plot leap – decides to decorate his house with so many Christmas lights that it will be visible from space (literally not metaphorically!)

Naturally the repressed Dr Finch is not overkeen on this idea, nor on the idea of having the loudmouthed and uncouth Buddy as a neighbour, and his attempts to curb Buddy’s project cause a feud of epic proportions. Meanwhile their wives become great friends and are both exasperated at the childish behaviour of their respective husbands.

As I always do when I finish a film (or book or television show) I went to look at what other people thought of it and WOW! – the reviews for this film are pretty brutal! Suffice to say it probably won’t become a Christmas classic…and while it was a bit daft and not as heavy on the laughs as you might hope, it’s not that bad. I actually thought it was a passable way to spend an afternoon, although if you scratch below the surface of the plot it all falls apart pretty quickly. But there were a few moments that made me giggle, and even though I normally dislike seeing houses that are lit like…erm…a Christmas tree, I had to admit that Buddy’s display was nothing if not impressive.

I will say that I thought Matthew Broderick was perhaps miscast. Admittedly he was supposed to be the straight man to DeVito’s comedic character, but I think Broderick might have toppled over into dull, although I love Kristin Davis and Kristin Chenoweth, and of course Danny DeVito is always good for a few laughs. If you don’t mind a bit of daftness, give it a go – you never know, you might enjoy it!

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Year of release: 2006

Director: John Whitesell

Writers: Matt Corman, Chris Ord, Don Rhymer

Main cast: Matthew Broderick, Danny DeVito, Kristin Davis, Kristin Chenoweth, Alia Shawcat, Dylan Blue, Kelly Aldridge, Sabrina Aldridge

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Zadie Smith’s third novel focuses on two rival academics, Howard Belsey and Monty Kipps, and their respective families.  While these two men are feuding, their wives are making friends and their children are struggling with adolescence and responsibility.  There are too many threads to cover here, but this is a story of family, race, infidelity, forgiveness, unrequited feelings, and much more.

I really REALLY enjoyed this book.  The characters seemed so completely real, each with their positive and negative, but always very human traits.  They may not always have been likeable (I actually found Howard Belsey to be never likeable), but they were identifiable.

Smith writes so beautifully, with such a wonderful, spot-on turn of phrase.  She also has an incredible eye for observational humour, with sometimes just a few words or one line making me laugh out loud.  At times I was frustrated with the characters, at times angry, and sometimes sympathetic, but whatever my feelings, I always wanted to know what was going to happen to them.

It’s not a story with a neat beginning, middle and ending – things are not necessarily wrapped up neatly; it’s almost like a snapshot of a certain period of these families’ lives.  I thoroughly enjoy it, and definitely recommend it.

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Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau team up again for this comedy about two longtime neighbours, who end up falling for the same woman, when she moves into their street.  Ariel (Ann-Margret) is flighty, flirty and gorgeous, and before long, John Gustavson (Lemmon) and Max Goldman (Matthau) are competing for her affections, and playing dirty tricks on each other.

Some actors just gel together, and Lemmon and Matthau bounce off each other perfectly – just like in their younger days – as ‘frenemies’.  There are a lot of genuinely laugh-out-loud moments too, as John and Max constantly try to one-up each other.

More surprising are the moments of pathos – all three of the main leads are lonely to some extent, and looking for something new in their life.  Lemmon plays vulnerable to a tee, and Matthau also elicits sympathy with his familiar hang-dog expression and the sense that for him, life is passing too quickly. Ann-Margret looks beautiful, and is perfectly cast as the woman who brings a spark back into their lives.

Burgess Meredith is wonderful in a supporting role as John’s father, who at the age of 94, lives life with gleeful abandon, and Darryl Hannah and Kevin Pollack are both great in their roles as John’s daughter and Max’s son (who are also obviously attracted to one another).

As the film is set from Thanksgiving to Christmas, it would be a perfect holiday movie, one to appeal to all ages, and is sure to provide plenty of belly laughs.  Highly recommended.

Year of release: 1993

Director: Donald Petrie

Producers: Dan Kolsrud, Richard C. Berman, John Davis, Darlene K. Chan, Kathy Sarreal

Writer: Mark Steven Johnson

Main cast: Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau, Ann-Margret, Burgess Meredith, Ossie Davis, Darryl Hannah, Kevin Pollack

 

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