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The Sweetest Thing (2002)
The best romantic comedy ever?
Is it mostly predictable and formulaic? Maybe. Is it mostly smutty (or even implausible sometimes, e. g. The Penis Song scene)? Yes, but it's funny! And it's with girls, which makes it incomparably more palatable than, say, Adam Sandler's regular efforts, which are just mainly gross.
This ultimate chick flick (or the almost only bearable chick flick) is meant for intelligent and open-minded people, who are able to laugh event at some raunchier jokes. And it has a surprising dose of auto-irony, which makes it both smart and fun. Forget about 'Sex and the City", Bridget Jones and the like; this is the thing (well, the sweetest thing, of course).
The script and dialog are mostly hilarious, and the acting is at par, especially the three female friends. Call me subjective, but Christina Applegate is the one who really shines here, not the lead. Ms. Appplegate's character and performance are memorable: charming, witty, in your face, and raunchy, as if she were the daughter of Groucho Marx and Lorelai Gilmore. One is even tempted to say that she would have been better cast as the protagonist, but her needed strong side-kick character works just fine (and steals the show).
Hopefully this movie will grow on more people, at least due to its many quips and quotable scenes, which need a special state of mind, self-irony and inner freedom to fully enjoy. And finally I'd want to tell you something: "If you like pina colada..."
All Is True (2018)
Great theme and character, but lesser treatment
This is not exactly a film about Shakespeare, because the historical Will is so poorly documented. The real, core theme here (not fully developed, though) is conflict between career and personal life. Or heart over mind, or duty vs. love as in classical drama. Does conjectured depression after the Globe Theater fire entirely explain renunciation of art in Will's case? Anyway, the film deals with the given situation, so that's it. But do we feel any of Will's greatness here? Hardly. Was he like Prospero exiled (probably) or just a broken man (like in this film)?
First, the title itself is provocative and unfounded or simply ironic (Will's birthday is unknown and its coincidence with St. George's Day and with his final day is mere hagiography convention). The pace and tone of the film are slow and morose, perhaps suggesting depression as a possible cause of Will's retirement. Still, how could such a great playwright give up completely on writing and isolate himself in such a mundane environment? Not quite believable. The real Will still did some collaborative work in his last years - if he really was the same man as the author of the great plays.
Here Stratfordians would jump up with rage and contempt, as they accept the mainstream didactic view on Will (exhibited in this film, too) and easily skip the huge question about how could a man with so limited education and traveling experience have simply imagined his extraordinary oeuvre (a question so unconvincingly answered in this film). Why did the historical Shakespeare not leave any books and manuscripts in his will? On the other hand, could possibly the Earl of Oxford or other candidates have been much more educated and experienced with all walks of life than Will the actor and theater man? Such questions still linger on because we know so little about Will and about genius in general. And this film, albeit a work of fiction, does nothing to explore the possible motivations for the actions of a great writer.
Anyway, the filming is great and the acting is generally excellent, but the script looks in places almost like a soap opera. Which is not necessarily a bad thing (aren't even some of Will's plays almost soap operas, if only brilliantly done?). Many facts and hypotheses about Will's life are alluded to and briefly touched upon in this film, as if the filmmakers were to check the boxes.
Again, this is a work of fiction, so the liberties taken by Will himself in his plays should warn us against expecting a literal, documentary style approach here. But this is exactly why the film should have probed more deeply and imaginatively in the creative mind of a great writer and theatrical producer. Sorry to say, but Brannagh's himself was the least complex character (and performance) in the movie. This would be understandable only if Will was really depressed in his final years and thus devoid of any previous greatness and creative mind, which would make too simplistic an explanation for the core conflict inherent to this movie.
Long Shot (2019)
Completely unbelievable propaganda
I feel so sorry for Charlize Theron, June Diane Raphael and Seth Rogen, who are very good actors and tried to save this awful flop. And I feel sorry for the people who let themselves so easily distracted and mindlessly entertained by such a movie. The standards and basic intelligence are gone so low if one thinks the public would laugh at disgusting jokes about cum and drugs in a high brow diplomatic world.
Sure, the script is totally unbelievable, and the fish out of water scheme went too far in this. But what if some of the people in charge actually behaved like that in private? Doing drugs, casual sex, jeopardizing a lifetime education and career, not to mention international meetings and agreements. And part of the public seems to like that vulgar debasement, if the IMDb score of this film is of any use. Or are we groomed for such idiotic and 'cool' leadership? Have you listened to those hollow speeches? Paradoxically, they are the most lifelike part of the movie, and sadly some people keep falling for them in real life.
Female president (former secretary of state) - check. By the way, women should not be discriminated, but hired based on their competence, not just for being women. Dumb president, coming from showbiz - check. Vile businessman with crappy hairstyle and political influence - check. The republicans are the bad guys - check. Being a Christian is weird and has to be hidden even from your best friend - check. And so on. But it's too late for that, folks! Many people don't dig that one-sided approach anymore.
Stan & Ollie (2018)
Excellent acting, impersonation and makeup
The main vehicle for this movie are its two protagonists, who deliver great acting and impersonation, many times virtually indistinguishable from the famous couple. The film itself relies hard on its emotional theme and on the widespread love and sympathy for Laurel & Hardy, but the plot is almost thin, despite its heavy themes (sad clowns, dedication and sacrifices to one's art, friendship, washed up celebrities, time passing by, and so on).
If anyone still had any doubts about how great and versatile an actor John C. Reilly is, they should at least watch his dramatic performance in this film, maybe after watching him doing crazy comedy in 'Talladega Nights' or the recent Sherlock Holmes movie (both with Will Ferrell). He certainly is one of the greatest actors of our time.
Mountain Monsters (2013)
Not even funny
This travesty of a show is not only ridiculously unbelievable, but also boringly repetitive. A bunch of fat bearded men roaming around in woods while shouting and laughing have finally solved some of the age-long mysteries of cryptozoology - really?
The same sequence of events takes place in each and every episode I've seen, and it's full of contrived scenes: the fat guys immediately find eye-witnesses, images or videos of the hunted monster, its tracks and whereabouts, then they quickly build a trap and lure the monster right away into it, while their trap-cameras produce in the end only conveniently blurry footage or photos. And where are the captured beings or at least their hairs or blood for further analysis?
I've only watched a few episodes but it's obviously just a prank (if someone have had really produced publicly the least physical sample of a Sasquatch or the like, it would have been major news and then in-depth research would have followed). The sad aspect is that it's a mockery of the needed research of mysterious reports, which shouldn't be ignored from the start, but verified. Furthermore, it has no real humor, which would have saved it at least in part.
Super Troopers 2 (2018)
If it wasn't for the first Super Troopers, this would have been lame - but it's not
While the first Super Troopers was a riot and deservedly became a cult movie, none of the other Broken Lizard movies stood out with something for me. This is of course just a weaker sequel as usually happens, rehashing almost the same jokes and the same (thin) plot of the first, but since the first was hilarious this weaker sequel still benefits much from that one's special aura, so it's still a fun movie to watch for its atmosphere, characters, situations and low brow humor.
Still, the first film remains one of a kind.
Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)
Biopics' disease: more entertainment than real drama
Biopics are always tricky: fans are outraged by the inevitable historical inaccuracies and omissions, or mindlessly blown-away by seeing (again) their idol. But those issues are not the point: the first one can be addressed only in a lengthy documentary or in a research book, while the second is as subjective as one can be (my friend who watched the film with me was thrilled simply because she is a Queen fan).
From a strictly cinematic perspective, the critics are right, this film is almost a flop because it has no strong, central idea besides recreating Freddie on screen (which is very well done). Most acting is fine, lookalikes are amazing ("Brian May", "Freddie"), the concert scenes are great, cinematography is very good, but the film is full of the clichés common in biopics about artistic characters. It also offers an almost bowdlerized image of Freddie and the band's entourage, creative aspects are dealt with incredible superficiality, and generally speaking the movie is marred by the simplistic approach of a tribute. The twisting of reality, which in "Amadeus" served a strong, fictional central idea (what's the difference between genius and talent), is useless and embarrassing in this film.
As usual, real life drama is more impressive and touching than the concoction served by most biopics, as is the case here. To avoid disappointing, the better biopics focus only on one main event in the life of their character, instead of trying in vain to tell hastily a story which took years or decades to unfold and develop.
So, is this film good? It's worth watching for the acting and the re-creating of the atmosphere, but when recent, easily verifiable facts are distorted with no artistic benefit as in this movie, what should we expect from a movie with a historical subject? Ultimately, watching the original concerts and videos of the band is more rewarding, and that will remain.
The Legend of Tarzan (2016)
How and why was Tarzan shaving in the jungle?
It's getting more and more amazing why so many resources are spent to produce such thin flicks. Even for a children's movie, the script is so flawed and the physical interactions are so unbelievable that it gets annoying. It's tiresome to see all those superheroes kicked and thrown many meters away and immediately not having the tiniest scratch or broken finger, or getting shot with fire weapons (in the shoulder of course, as if it's a small thing and enough if no vital organs were wounded) and then using that arm in fight and winning. No one gets dirty or sweaty, no one stumbles, the huge jumps are simply unreal, and they all have clean hair all the time. Am I picking on unimportant things? No, because the script was silly enough already, and the greats are so also in small things.
How to Be a Latin Lover (2017)
Surprisingly funny new comedy
Why couldn't I move away from it while zapping on TV? Because it's funny! Not too gross, not over-predictable, not forced, and with really hilarious scenes, which is so rare these days (to say the least).
Perhaps it's a bit too long and the pace slows down sometimes, or the plot comes dangerously close to mushy every now and then especially towards the closing, but all in all it's a good comedy.
Obviously it has some predictable premise and situations, but they are treated in an intelligent way, which makes them really hilarious sometimes. It's a comedy, folks, it's not supposed to be rocket science or deep psychology, so it's refreshing to see such a theme treated with wit and decency as much as possible.
It has excellent acting by the main actors (and, surprisingly, Rob Corddry), a good script, and perhaps some cuts would have transformed it in a very good comedy. As such it's only good.
Inside Amy Schumer (2013)
Mostly the same crude joke over and over
Oh the miracles of promotion! How could one otherwise build a career by constantly recycling the same gross joke and in your face attitude, if not supported by huge promotion? Some people probably think it cute that in addition to that it's a girl who does that, one who is almost overweight and almost attractive, but she is so auto-ironic and so cool about everything, isn't she? Where is decency, where is cleverness in stand-up shows? Oh yeah, those are for the dinosaurs, now we are so 'meh' about anything, we've done it all, we've seen it all, but we don't know who we are - never mind, we think we can express our lowest thoughts on a stage and pack that as a stand-up routine. Loads of gross, sex jokes and toilet humor, egotism and ultimately dumbing down the public. If only it had humor at least...
Now the good part: some of the filmed skits, dealing with relationships and minor social aspects, but without grossness, are really funny and insightful. But it's too little for the whole show.
Broad City (2014)
First it looked fresh, natural, funnier and more sincere than other so-called comedic shows. The two girls have the right mix of insanity, self-consciousness and fun to provide at least good smirks if not a roll on the floor. Yet, in some strange way, the tone of the show became slightly repetitive over the episodes, to the point that one can almost predict their reactions and situations, despite their almost forced character at times. And if we wanted to split hairs, then probably not many would want the girls as friends because of their very loose morals and irresponsible behavior. So they are not very relatable to as characters. Sure, it's entertainment, but monkey see, monkey do...
O Negócio (2013)
Sex and Brazil
It looks well done and rather classy, despite its theme, and is a more direct and impudent version of 'Sex and The City' (three female friends and their sexual adventures and careers). The show is easy on the eye due to both filming and the actresses, yet some of the characters' reactions look strangely childish (maybe that was supposed to be the comedic part). It has its dramatic overtones, more or less stressed, and besides glamorizing vice and crime, the business part gradually grows in importance along the seasons. Oh the things people do for the money...
Secretul lui Nemesis (1987)
Chaotic and humorless propaganda
This film is so badly constructed that it's really hard to describe it. Its context is probably the paranoid interdiction by the Communist Securitate (political secret police) of Transcendental Meditation and anything related to spiritual practices, even martial arts and faculties of psychology or sociology in the 1980s. Everything was lumped over and labeled as 'cults' or 'sects'. Beside that stupid premise, this propaganda film is so poorly made regarding its erratic and unbelievable script and directing (by the ever-fidgeting and humorless 'specialist director of Romanian comedy' Geo Saizescu), that the viewer feels sorry for the excellent actors obliged to show up in this nonredeemable, lame attempt. The characters are so insanely exaggerated and childish (and childishly written), and the dialog and situations are so lifeless and absurd (but lacking any fun) that the only reasonable conclusion is: it's a piece of propaganda made by people who had almost absolutely no idea what they were talking about.
This is not film-making. A real film is not just about nostalgia, but about characters' motivations and evolution.
In these four diluted flicks without a real plot, almost all the characters (of any age) are annoyingly immature and even more childishly fidgeting around than they were ten years ago. I'm not saying there weren't some people like that in real life (people who just float irresponsibly through life like shallow brats thinking themselves entitled to anything), but a whole town like that? Come on!
Now the main characters: no growing up, no evolution, and what's even worse and paradoxical, almost no recognizable traits from the original series. Where's the sarcasm, where's the cleverness, where's the real feeling? Without these it's just a boring, in-your-face, pretentious nostalgia, with rudeness every now and then, and with all the minor characters and cameos crammed in.
And worse again, the main characters are thus so selfish, inconsiderate and whimsical as real-life jerks. But they are so charming... not! The only character showing some evolution is Emily, and the only almost authentic and sympathetic character is Luke (oh the irony of that). And what has perfect Rory turned into... I won't even go there.
The "big finale" with the mysterious final words is just another proof they hadn't evolved at all, they hadn't understood a thing of their lives so far and are repeating the same mistakes. What has really changed in ten or more years? What's new about them to make us trust it would turn out differently now? Nothing!
And despite all this, maybe it would have been tolerable if only it had had the sparkling humor, wide emotional range and good acting of the first four seasons of the original series. Sadly, there's none of that. Just lameness (don't get me started about Rory's book, the musical or the hiking). Enough is enough. The series should have ended with season four and thus it would have remained as one of the greatest TV shows ever.
Vice Principals (2016)
Excellent situations comedy
Finally a funny role for Danny McBride and a fine performance by him (and others, too)! He is perfect for this, and although I've seen only 3 episodes, I get a good vibe about this show. Of course it's crude about the selfishness of people, of course the characters (teachers included!) are immature, of course the themes are dark, and of course many things are exaggerated (hey, it's a comedy!), but it's very well written and performed. And if one of the accusations against it was that it's not politically correct, then we live in a very, very sad world. If we can't make fun anymore about the ugly side of us but we pretend it's not there in a very PC way, that doesn't mean we'd be free from it.
LE: Episode 5 wasn't funny at all. Hope the show hasn't gone burnt out already!
Lumea e a mea (2015)
Pretense and bland vulgarity
The film looks rather ambitious, exploring the sordid dramas of a teenage girl coming from a dysfunctional family. The recurring dream-like motif of water (drowning, flooding, and so on) is but a transparent metaphor for her situation, as she is trapped by the deceits of others and by her own out of control impulses. Acting is sometimes surprisingly realistic, and sometimes awfully rigid. To sum it up, the film depicts in a rather believable way the downfall of a contemporary young girl from the lower class, deprived of any decent feelings or role models. When the movie ends, she is indeed depicted as ripe for the only way out conceivable for her: prostitution.
All this is tragic, but now let's see the film's weaker side. Tragedy, like any art form, needs contrast. In this movie we only see promiscuity, violence, cursing, irresponsible behavior, booze, drugs, tramps, rape, and so on. No one offers a helping hand, all the characters are lowlifes, some even criminals, school is non-existent, underage girls dress and behave like tramps. It's all nothing but a degraded, decomposing society obsessed with fame and fortune, which has adopted the talk, the look, the way of life and sometimes the music of gypsy criminals ("manele"), with no alternative of civil behavior or education - which is wildly exaggerated. That world exists indeed, sadly, but not just that. To watch for an entire film just criminals, lowlifes and underage promiscuous girls cursing and fighting (both verbally and physically, in an impulsive, beastly way) is too much and sometimes cringe-worthy. And in the end it's boring.
In My Dreams (2014)
Too good a premise for that crew
When they start from a most unpredictable and intriguing premise (a perfect match only in lucid dreams) and end it in an epitome of especially thin rom-com formulas, we must admit that the result deserves a special mention as an achievement in spoiling a theme. Everything in this was painfully predictable and cliché, convenient and mushy. The actors weren't impressive at all, nor particularly likable, the script and directing are boring, and so on. Everything is overplayed, even the lucid dreams thingy, a state which could not occur so mechanically and regularly every night to anyone. There is an excellent novel with a similar twist (a parallel life in a, well, let's say in a lucid dream, not to spoil it for potential readers). Unfortunately I don't remember now its title or author (but I will!), just that the main character is a woman named Joy. That book would be captivating if set on screen, because it's really surprising and well written, unlike this lame trifle of a flick.
This is the definition of camp
I've just seen it for the first time and won't repeat the obvious (silliness, rubber dinosaurs, stage sets looking so artificial, simple plot, juvenile humor) - oh wait, didn't I just repeat that? Oh well, the pleasant surprise was the acting (in this, of all films), especially Ringo's (who would have thought of that?) and of course Shelley Long. Most of the actors were pretty expressive and as natural as they could in that zany spoof (except a few too well groomed hairdos). Even the simple plot is somehow telling with regard to the basic motivations lurking sometimes behind our fancy psyche. Maybe if they didn't want to make fools out of themselves, it all had indeed some potential of becoming a real, serious film about our ancestors' way of life.
Brâncusi din eternitate (2014)
A sad travesty
I was wondering why haven't they made at least one good film about Eminescu or Brancusi, two of the greatest Romanian artists and two very interesting characters, too. After watching this, I'd say it would have been for the better if they didn't.
This film is a poorly constructed, lame attempt to show something about the sculptor who has revolutionized modern art and about the impact of his work on society, but it only ends in pretense and occasional ridicule. The three stories, or viewpoints, are a fine idea, but sadly the only good (read: bearable) parts of this flick are sometimes the acting of three characters (Brancusi, Elaine, and the forger).
The rest of it is pitiful: thin script, dialog full of clichés, bad acting, horrendous special effects, at times bad editing, and especially the scenes 'in Nirvana' with the Tibetan mystic Milarepa are shameful, ridiculous, almost mocking and circus-like.
Perhaps they had some good intentions about making this film, but it hugely misses its mark. There is nothing of Brancusi's spirit and nothing worth watching in this.
Like Sunday, Like Rain (2014)
Smart and deep
A movie with intelligent premise and dialog and with restrained acting stands out by itself these days. This one's unusual plot adds to the appeal, but the ending is a bit disappointing regarding the characters' development. Overall, the apparently unlikely emotional connection between the two main characters gets more and more believable over the film, and one wonders what would have become of them if the age gap was smaller and the circumstances were different. Or perhaps despite that, in the end all that counts is pure friendship, no matter our differences.
A cynical would say this film had a romantic comedy formula: boy meets girl, boy falls for girl, they separate (and in the end they are back together if it's a comedy). Why did she have to leave? It was so romantic and gave way for intensely emotional scenes, but when you think about it, her leave is somewhat forced and not entirely justified. She could have moved in the city, gotten back into music and maintained their friendship. And in a few years could have gone cougar on him (crude joke alert!). Now seriously, a smart girl like her could have made a better choice, and a smart filmmaker who made this good film could have made a better editing towards the ending.
The Rewrite (2014)
How To Waste A Great Cast
Oh, the irony... He was teaching script writing and yet this very film he's in is so predictable. Is it labeled a comedy for its two or three almost funny lines, or for the fact that nobody dies in it? Oh wait, it's a 'romantic comedy', the only type we're left with these days. Well, that means even more predictability. Did anyone have any doubts he will finally accept his new status as a man and professional, or he will settle for the more appropriate (age-wise) single mom? To have an excellent cast like that and to waste it on such a thinly written film is really a shame. The characters are unilateral (and only the protagonist goes through some evolution), the plot follows the formulas of 'romantic comedy', and there isn't much wide-range or deep acting. I wouldn't have watched this if Marisa Tomei or J. K. Simmons weren't in it.
Ass Backwards (2013)
Not that bad a satire about delusion and competitiveness
Modern society is about competition: the winner takes it all, forget about the loser. Well, that's inhuman. This movie deals with some of the extremes of that herd mentality which is enforcing its standards on everyone, labeling them 'winners', 'losers', 'nerds', 'jocks', or whatever. So what is 'success', really? Always putting a smiling face?
Despite its silly start and its premise so similar to 'Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion' (duh!), this is a much darker version of your regular 'female buddy flick'. The two main characters are so delusional and dumb (who has made and kept them as such?), that they actually don't resemble Romy and Michelle at all. The movie has a couple of laughs, but its dark side overrides its comedic side.
Many people were misled by its 'comedy' label, expecting hilarious situations or lines, or maybe even a silly or zany entertainment (you know, ass jokes, dumb and dumber, and so on). So of course it's not hilarious, but that's really not that bad as they'd expect. It's a different type of a film, even cruel at times (and almost unreal, to match the two girls' delusional state). This is what competitiveness makes to people.
Billy Crystal: 700 Sundays (2014)
Not a fan, but...
First of all, I am not a fan and I found this brilliant. Not perfect, as some very dignified reviewers seemed to have asked for, but brilliant. It has better parts and weaker parts, now he delivers amazing timing and physical comedy, then he flirts rather annoyingly with the camera. The show has some vulgar bits (not even close to some of today's disgusting stand-up 'stars') and also some touching bits, sure, but that's how life is, too. The silent movie scene was wildly hilarious, while some of the sad parts prove he's not a drama actor. Anyway, this is a honest take and I will forgive even his poses for the camera for the sake of one of them (I don't remember where it occurs): it pictured perfectly the bittersweet and almost touching humor of the poor Jewish folks or of any people forced to deal with a hard life in a subdued, non-grandiloquent way.
Henri 4 (2010)
Ambitious in its intentions, based on Heinrich Mann's historical novel, this movie looks apparently pretty good: it surely has a much more authentic atmosphere especially compared to the infamous 'La Reine Margot', good cinematography, and decent acting (except Charles IX). But, contrary to another reviewer who thought it too long, actually it's too short and over-simplified.
The dire, murderous and suspicious atmosphere is very well realized, as many of those admired crowned heads have behaved sometimes like insane mass murderers, and luckily the glamorized feel of too many historical films has not crept in here. But the script looks rushed, hurrying and compressing events, decades, characters and their motivations. Thus, even the action is unclear for a viewer unfamiliar with that age and place, and important historical or dramatic events are but hinted at or simply omitted (the Ligue and its rebellion, the deaths of Charles IX, Henri III and of his brother, the last Valois heir, and also Caterina's death).
In reality, the historical characters have been pretty complex and contradictory: Caterina was not only an evil and scheming hag such as her portrayal in Dumas' novels, but an active and courageous politician striving (mostly in vain) to maintain a fragile balance in a kingdom devastated by three rival factions (the Court, the Guise family with its Ligue, and the Huguenots led by the future Henri IV). Or Henri III, her favorite son, was indeed a weird, undecided, bisexual, perhaps bipolar fellow, but certainly not an idiot: it was him who 'eliminated' his main rival the duke de Guise and finally allied with the future Henri IV against the Ligue and named him heir presumptive. The death of Gabrielle is not elucidated in the film (was it Rosny, the king's main adviser, really? Unbelievable).
Maria de Medici is treated in an infantile manner, and even the king's assassination is very poorly explained. Also lacking are many other tentatives of assassinating him throughout all his life course. The pacification of France after his last conversion and crowning took in reality many years and required much effort, from battles to bribery for rebellious dukes. By the way, the duke d'Epernon, the last standing rebel and a main mastermind of the king's assassination, is absent from this film.
To sum all these up: despite its ambitious luster, strangely the film has the feel of a low budget one: too few characters, rushed situations, poorly explored motivations, quite few extras in the scenes at the Court. Which is in fact bad for a film treating such dramatic and surprising events.
Due imbroglioni e mezzo (2010)
A fine comedy, but too long for its material
This is a refreshing Italian comedy about two charming crooks and a bright kid, with some fine situation comedy, excellent timing, very good acting (especially from the three main actors, the boy included), a natural feel and a few emotional undertones (luckily not treated too mushy). The rhythm is alert but not rushed, the script and directing are generally fine (except a few moments when the crooks seem a bit too gullible), and there are no fart jokes and no boorish sexual innuendos.
So why not give it a higher vote? Unfortunately, it's too long or diluted as a miniseries, considering the amount of comedic or cinematic material. Perhaps the first part was a hit in Italy and they wanted to cash in, as it usually happens. It's really a shame, because otherwise it had all the ingredients for an excellent comedy.