• Compulsive Liar / Menteur (2019)

    Menteur, internationally known as Compulsuve Liar, is a highly entertaining comedy movie featuring many famous actors and comedians from Quebec. The story revolves around compulsive liar Simon whose lies become reality one day and teach him that facing and telling the truth is important in life.

    Not every gag works out and the opening sequences feel slightly rushed but about twenty minutes into the movie, things start getting truly hilarious. My personal highlight of the movie was Simon's boss played by a hilarious Geneviève Schmidt who changed from being strict, organized and influential to a confused drunkard overnight.

    Menteur is hilarious entertainment for the whole family and a wonderful introduction to Quebec's comedy culture. In addition to this, the movie even presents valuable life lessons in a light-hearted way. Menteur isn't memorable enough for becoming movie of the year but certainly worth to be checked out at your local cinema.

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  • Les mauvaises herbes / Bad Seeds (2016)

    Bad Seeds is a French-Canadian comedy movie that doesn't necessarily convince with great jokes but rather with awkward situation comedy, interesting characters and wonderful winter landscapes.

    The movie tells the story of a stage actor with gambling debts who escapes Montreal via a bus trip and ends up in the administrative region of Abitibi-Témiscamingue in Western Quebec. He encounters a grumpy farmer who illegally grows and sells weed in order to make enough money to make the childhood dream of his estranged son come true before a terminal illness kills him. Knowing each other's secret, the two men decide to work together but are soon disturbed by an unhappy Lesbian teenager who verifies the farm's electricity meter and accidentally discovers its secret. The teenage girl is kidnapped and forced to stay with the two men. After some initial misunderstandings and tensions, the trio actually starts appreciating working together but their luck soon starts to turn when the teenager falls in love with a local clerk, when the farmer gets sicker every day and when the loan sharks the stage actor tried to run away from end up tracking him down.

    On the positive side, the movie's script is quite creative and at times unpredictable. There are constantly new surprises around the corner leading to hilarious situation comedy and some poignant black humour as well. The three main characters are fleshed out and surprisingly realistic as they have their positive and negative sides and offer heroic actions but make dumb decisions as well. The movie's conclusion even has some depth and offers some food for thought. It certainly doesn't offer a conventional happy ending but a very satisfactory conclusion nevertheless.

    On the negative side, some of the jokes could have been funnier and delivered with more energy to work better. The film has a few lengthy dialogues here and there, especially in the first third. The movie only starts getting truly intense when the teenager gets involved.

    Anyone who likes French-Canadian cinema and creative comedy movies that walk off the beaten path, should give this movie a chance. I watched it on television in its original French version with English subtitles which is perfectly fine. Bad Seeds certainly is a vivid change from the usual stereotypical Hollywood comedy movies. It isn't a sequel, prequel, remake or anything else. And it doesn't try to offer some shallow sociocritical message like so many other contemporary comedy films. Bad Seeds is refreshingly unique.

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  • Burn After Reading (2008)

    Burn After Reading is a quirky spy parody directed by renowned Coen Brothers and starring a set of outstanding actresses and actors like Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, John Malkovich, George Clooney and Brad Pitt. The confusing story revolves around a retired CIA analyst who is going through a divorce. A disc with information about his finances and memoirs ends up in the hands of two idiotic gym employees who try to blackmail him. Soon, CIA agents, Russian double-agents and private detectives are watching and being watched around the analyst's house when things go berserk.

    The premise of the movie is quite intriguing. The story is original and filled with surprising twists and turns while also criticizing and making fun of American bureaucracy, cinema and society. However, this rather short movie takes too much time to introduce a bloated set of characters. The characters are often quite flat, predictable and stereotypical. Later on, the story develops draggingly and only the final thirty minutes quicken up the pace. The conclusion to the movie feels somewhat aborted and is mostly told and not shown which is a sign for limited filmmaking in my book. The worst thing however is that this parody just isn't funny. I'm not the most serious guy and sure like to laugh from time to time but everything this movie evoked was a tired smile in two or three scenes. There is some creative situation comedy for sure but not one single truly hilarious scene. Since there are few action scenes and only a few small doses of suspense, this movie is only kept alive by its quirky characters and story.

    On the positive side, Burn After Reading has a mostly original script and offers memorable scenes with plenty of strange situation comedy you will remember long after having watched this film. The actresses and actors are also delivering the goods and very convincing as they manage to make the most of their one-dimensional characters. John Malkovich is brilliant as disillusioned analyst, Tilda Swinton convinces as his cold-hearted wife, George Clooney mesmerizes as lying womanizer, Frances McDormand excels in her role as hectic gym employee who makes all the wrong decision and Brad Pitt is quite amusing as dim-witted sportsman who is constantly and stupidly singing and smiling.

    In the end, you can give this film a try if you know and like the aforementioned actresses and actors as well as other movies by the Coen Brothers who certainly have their very own style. If one leaves out the brilliant actresses and actors as well as the situation comedy, one gets a movie with a confusing story line that just isn't funny though. I would recommend this flick if there really isn't anything else on television on a rainy night but it's overall slightly overrated.

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  • Game Night (2018)

    Game Night is an entertaining ride but nothing truly memorable that needs to be revisited. It's an over-the-top comedy movie with a healthy dose of action and suspense. The story revolves around competitive gamers Annie and Max who recently got married and who organize game nights with their friends. After having been out of town for a whole year, Max's brother Brooks attends one of their game nights and offers to organize the next one himself. The couple reluctantly agrees because they feel Brooks simply wants to show off and humiliate his brother but they still want to give him a chance. On the next game night, Brooks announces that he has organized an interactive role-play game and that one of them is going to be kidnapped and that the others have to find that person. The price for the potential winner is a vintage car that Max really wants to get. Some time after, masked intruders get inside Brooks' house, beat him up and kidnap him. However, Annie and Max soon realize that things didn't go as planned and that Brooks was actually kidnapped for real. Along with two other couples and their strange police neighbor, Annie and Max try to save Brooks and uncover the mysteries behind the kidnapping.

    Game Night has several things going for it. First of all, the plot is quite quirky and offers a lot of situation comedy, a solid dose of action and tension and a series of twists in the final third that are often predictable but still well-executed. Secondly, the movie has a great pace, spending only as much time as necessary to introduce all characters and settings before the final hour quickens up the pace and never slows down again. Thirdly, some of the characters have depth and are sympathetic which is the case for Max who has intense competitive struggles with his brother, his smart and tough wife Annie, his dishonest but repentant brother Brooks and the mentally unstable neighbor Gary whose beloved wife recently left him. Finally, some of the situation comedy is truly funny and memorable and especially the dramatic final twenty minutes are perfectly executed.

    On the other side, Game Night also has some weaknesses. First of all, it's at times too exaggerated, for example when three twists building upon one another are revealed in a short period of time. That isn't confusing or funny anymore but simply lazy script writing at that point. Another problem is the fact that while the main characters are interesting, the side characters are extremely shallow. There is a black couple who argues about how the wife has slept with a celebrity. That's literally all you need to know about them and everything they discuss throughout one and a half hours. There is another couple consisting of a good-looking but extremely dumb guy and his more intellectual partner whose only character trait is that she is British. The fact that they don't have any chemistry leads to a few awkward laughs in the beginning but becomes seriously annoying throughout the entire movie. Another element I disliked were the boring and predictable moral lessons in the movie's more serious scenes towards the end. Protect your family, stand by your friends and live an honest life. I almost fell asleep.

    To keep it short, Game Night is an entertaining ride with lots of humor, a solid dose of action and even an appropriate addition of tension. Instead of watching this film at the cinema, you should rent it and watch it with your friends at home. While the movie is great to watch once, it's nothing memorable that needs to be revisited again. There are similar recent party movies like the brilliant Happy Death Day that are much more original. This movie actually is like a party. It's fun while it lasts but the next day you just want to move on.

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  • De père en flic 2 / Father and Guns 2 (2017)

    Eight years ago, the French-Canadian action-comedy movie Father and Guns was a massive blockbuster. While a similar movie like Good Cop, Bad Cop managed to reinvent itself for a stunning sequel, the makers of Father and Guns decided to stick to the exact same formula again. The plot is almost exactly the same as in the first movie: Two police officers, an overambitious father and a troubled son, infiltrate a boot camp to get some information from a collaborator of Montreal's organized crime scene. The main difference between the two movies is that the first film focused on a boot camp for difficult relationships between fathers and sons while the second film portrays a boot camp for couples where the son participates with his girlfriend while his father acts as driver and psychologist.

    Despite its repetitive formula, the movie works surprisingly well and is even a slight improvement over the first film in my opinion. The movie starts with a gripping and sinister opening sequence and then switches to a fast-paced scene with two amazing jokes that immediately get you into the movie. The pace of this second instalment is faster, the humour is more on point and the acting has also improved. Louis-José Houde has improved his wooden and stereotypical acting skills from the first part and his new on-screen partner Karine Vanasse is a much more versatile actress than Caroline Dhavernas in the first film. The movie focuses even more on lead actor Michel Côté than the first film as he incarnates an ambitious police officer, an emotional lover, a quiet driver, a radical psychologist, a sentimental loner and a tough father all at once. This idea pays off because both the character and the actor are very interesting. 

    On the negative side, the side characters and the activities in the boot camp are too similar compared to the first movie. There are some positive exceptions like the hilarious lesbian couple and the discussion about parents in the woods but these parts of the film are overall the least interesting ones. It was a good choice to focus more on what happens in between the boot camp sequences like the hilarious Scandinavian and Thai approaches. The finale was a little bit too predictable but didn't overstay its welcome.

    Despite its obvious and predictable flaws, the second instalment of Father and Guns is a positive surprise and a movie with improved acting performances, vivid action sequences, focused emotional moments, hilarious jokes and a solid dose of tension. The film entertains from start to finish. It might not beat the second instalment of Good Cop, Bad Cop this year but it underlines the fact that this might be the most successful year in French-Canadian cinema in a very long time.

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