Friday's Film Reviews

This week, a plucky security has the adventure of a lifetime in Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb; it’s a hard knock life in the modern update of the musical Annie, and Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels reunite for the comedy sequel Dumb & Dumber To.

Friday's Film Reviews

Annie

Adapted from the popular Broadway musical, the 1982 film version of Annie is firmly engrained in many rose-tinted childhood memories.

The uplifting story of a flame-haired orphan girl who overcomes insurmountable odds to win the heart of a billionaire businessman taps into our deep-rooted sense of belonging.

Infectious music and lyrics by Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin have reverberated throughout popular culture from episodes of 30 Rock, Glee and South Park to a sample on rapper Jay-Z’s 1998 single Hard Knock Life.

Will Gluck’s glossy modern remake retains most of the original songbook with a couple of new soaring ballads.

Some of the updates don’t quite work: changing Annie’s residence from an orphanage to a foster home significantly reduces the number of children in care for those big song-and-dance numbers.

Also Carol Burnett’s ferocious portrayal of Miss Hannigan has been softened so Cameron Diaz retains a glimmer of likeability, even when she’s drunkenly snarling, “You think the world wants a smart-mouthed little girl?”

On the whole, Gluck’s reworking possesses the same wholesome likeability including a winning title performance from Quvenzhane Wallis, who was Oscar nominated for Beasts Of The Southern Wild.

Annie lacks some of the rough charm of the 1982 film but director Gluck and his team add enough contemporary spit and polish without obscuring the story’s emotional arc.

Cast lip-sync convincingly and the big numbers are slickly choreographed including a heartfelt rendition of ‘Tomorrow’ from Wallis on the city streets.

An extended sequence at the premiere of a fantasy film called Moon Quake Lake - featuring wink-wink cameos from Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and Rihanna – is rather cute.

“People love musicals, they’re magical,” observes one character.

This version of Annie has an ample sprinkling of that lustre dust.

Star Rating: 3/5

RottenTomatoes.com Rating: 18%

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb

It’s time to say goodbye.

The third chapter of the blockbusting Night At The Museum franchise has lost two of its greatest – Mickey Rooney and Robin Williams – in the past 12 months. So it’s fitting that Secret Of The Tomb should be an action-packed adventure punctuated with dewy-eyed farewells and warm-hearted reminiscence.

Shawn Levy’s picture is a fitting swansong, reuniting most of the protagonists from the original for a final transatlantic hurrah.

The script adds father-son bonding to the mix and a new Neanderthal called Laa (Ben Stiller), who is partial to munching on polystyrene foam.

For the most part though, familiarity with the series’ larger-than-life characters breeds contentment.

Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb milks our affection for the characters without exhausting our good will.

There’s nothing innovative in the third film but good humour and sweetness prevail, and the script continues to have fun juxtaposing the modern and ancient worlds like when Sir Lancelot asks Nick, “Have you ever held a blade?” and the teenage responds, “Only in World Of Warcraft.”

London looks splendid through Levy’s lens, accompanied by a predictable yet rousing chorus of The Clash, and an extended cameo by a Hollywood superstar during the frenetic denouement is a treat.

Stiller seems to have tears in his eyes for most of the second half, relying predominantly on co-stars to lasso the laughs.

When Williams’ waxwork President acknowledges the end is nigh and softly remarks, “You have to let us go,” it’s hard not to get a little lump in your throat.

Star Rating: 3/5

RottenTomatoes.com Rating: 45%

Dumb & Dumber To

Forrest Gump, one of cinema’s great innocents, famously remarked that “stupid is as stupid does” and using that barometer, Dumb And Dumber To takes the art of moronic tomfoolery to new depths.

From the eye-watering opening gag of a DIY catheter removal, Bobby and Peter Farrelly’s mindless sequel to their hit 1994 comedy embraces every crude, lewd and inappropriate set-up imaginable in its relentless pursuit of cheap, grubby titters.

If this is the future of comedy on film then the art form has flat-lined.

Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels reprise their roles as best pals Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne, who mix up their words (“That’s all water under the fridge”) and are blinkered to the perils of modern life.

They merrily take a shower under the waste water pipe from a nuclear power plant.

Dumb And Dumber To is a greater ordeal for us than it is for Harry and Lloyd, who are battered and bruised by misfortune.

The plot is nonsensical and includes pointless diversions including a brief reappearance of the Mutt Cutts dog van from the original picture.

Carrey and Daniels fling themselves into the fray with gusto, at the mercy of a script that lacks subtlety, sophistication or any discernible laughs.

Star Rating: 1/5

RottenTomatoes.com Rating: 27%

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