Fierce Creatures

Fierce Creatures PosterGenre: Comedy
Director: Robert YoungFred Schepisi
Screenwriter: John CleeseIain Johnstone

Rating: 53%
Year: 1997
Length: 1h 33m

Summary: The staff of a small zoo try to avoid it being shut down after it gets bought by a ruthless media tycoon.

Main Actors:  John CleeseJamie Lee CurtisKevin KlineMichael PalinCarey LowellRobert Lindsay

Nice Bits

This film showcases the same four comic geniuses of A Fish Called Wanda, and although the critics weren’t nearly as impressed, it remains one of my favourites.

Kevin Kline plays another extremely stupid person brilliantly, and in a totally different manner to his Oscar winning performance in the first film. Utterly hilarious, he’s always a joy to watch on screen. If only he’d make more comedies these days!

He also plays his own father, and the scenes between them are a riot, especially as his father is a heartless media tycoon a la Rupert Murdoch, while his son is a spineless immature nonentity. The contrast is beautifully played.

It’s also sad and almost pathetic watching him keep trying to earn his father’s love.

Jamie Lee Curtis plays yet another confident, sexy, capable woman, and John Cleese once more is her romantic foil. While his character is devoid of sex appeal, for some reason (no spoiler!) JLC sees him as a huge catch. The film is worth watching for this dynamic alone!

Another delightful aspect is that Michael Palin, having been a stuttering near mute in the previous film, goes completely over the top as the local know it all who can’t keep his mouth shut, even when asked politely. Again and again.

There are so many treasures in the film, so if you like any of the main actors, don’t miss it!

Nasty Bits

Some simulated violence, one shooting.

Naughty Bits

A lot of sexual references, all done in the best possible taste. Mostly.

Cast and Crew:



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Planes Trains and Automobiles

PTA PosterGenre: Comedy
Director: John Hughes
Screenwriter: John Hughes

Rating: 94%
Year: 1987
Length: 1h 32m

Summary: When storms cancel Thanksgiving flights, two opposites have to pool resources to find their way home.

Main Actors: Steve MartinJohn CandyLaila Robins Edie McClurg

Nice Bits

While not quite a two hander, this film is almost completely carried by the hilarious interplay between the two lead actors. It’s amazing how much fun they create as they share one disaster after another while trying to find their way home for Thanksgiving.

Yet both characters are somehow believable, and there’s real heart throughout this film, despite all the madcap adventures. Even though neither can stand the other on several occasions, they try to make peace, while events conspire to keep them together.

Both characters are sympathetic, and it’s easy to relate to the challenges they create for each other. Anybody who’s struggled with a lousy transport system will find this familiar territory, although it’s much funnier than my experiences ever were!

The ending is very touching, and shows that comedies don’t have to be heartless.

This is the perfect film to see any time from Thanksgiving to Christmas to the New Year.

Nasty Bits

There’s quite a bit of swearing.

Cast and Crew:



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Chocolat Poster

Genre: Comedy Romance Drama
Director: Lasse Hallström

Rating: 63%
Year: 2000
Length: 2h 1m

Summary: A pious repressed village is awakened by a new visitor, offering forbidden treats and an open heart.

Main Actors: Juliette BinocheJohnny DeppJudi DenchAlfred MolinaCarrie-Anne MossLena Olin

Nice Bits

This delightful fable is fairly predictable, but it’s no less enjoyable for being so. It’s a wonderful story about losing one’s humanity by being too righteous, and how relaxing just a little bit can have unexpected benefits.

But that makes it sound dull and boring, like a dreary sermon from the church in the little village in this film. Juliette Binoche cheers things up with her gentle accepting attitude, never losing her warmth while all around her treat her with contempt.

Later on, Johnny Depp drops by, and adds his own calm relaxed charm.

It’s a joyful story of awakenings, and a reminder of the power of an open heart and a welcoming attitude. i.e. exactly what the Church preaches but so often doesn’t practise.

Make sure you bring a bar of fine chocolate when you watch this treat!

Nasty Bits

A short scene of a mob causing property damage.

Naughty Bits

Some nudity.

Cast and Crew:



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The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)

Complete Works Shakespeare PosterGenre: Comedy, History, Drama
Director: Paul Kafno
Screenwriter:  Adam Long, Daniel Singer, Jess Winfield

Rating: 85%
Year: 2003
Length: 1h 28m

Summary: Three mad and deluded actors take on everything Shakespeare wrote … in an hour and a half.

Main Actors: Adam Long, Reed Martin, Austin Tichenor, the audience.

Nice Bits

This film (and stage musical) is great fun for those who hate Shakespeare, but those who love him will have mixed reactions. Obviously, I find it a riot!

Much of the performance is improvised, so each show is different. I’ve seen it twice live, and both performances are different from the DVD. All three were great fun.

The fourth wall isn’t just broken, it’s totally destroyed, and the audience is often involved, with various degrees of willingness! The cast frequently stop in the middle of a scene to argue about something, and often involve the audience to support their position.

They also have no qualms about jumping down into the audience every now and then, gleefully adding further to the mayhem.

Although it might seem very disrespectful to the Bard, it’s in exactly the same spirit as much of his writing, and I can imagine him laughing loudly while watching this.

This comedy is probably not recommended for those who are serious about the Bard.

Nasty Bits

Many, many fake deaths, all done in a very silly manner.

Naughty Bits

There’s a great deal of cross dressing, and some simulated sex.

Cast and Crew:



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Big Trouble

Big Trouble PosterGenre: Comedy Drama
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Screenwriter: Robert Ramsey, Matthew Stone

Rating: 48%
Year: 2002
Length: 1h 24m

Summary: a strange suitcase brings together pairs of assassins, single parents, thugs, teenagers, and the FBI.

Main Actors: Tim AllenRene RussoBen FosterTom SizemoreDennis Farina

Nice Bits

This riotous adaptation of Pulitzer prize winner Dave Barry’s book manages to be just as zany and entertaining. I have no idea why the critics didn’t get on board, but there’s no accounting for taste. I’ve always been a huge fan of Dave Barry’s writing.

Much of the humour here comes from the collection of strange people coming together, only a few of whom are actually sane. Their reactions to the madness going on around them provide a calm centre during an increasingly bizarre tale.

The two leads try to keep a handle on things, but struggle to make sense of the increasingly desperate efforts of those around them. I can sympathise!

There’s a pair of world weary assassins from New York, who find Miami hard to cope with, even more so when it seems that others are pursuing their target. The more their attempts at pulling off their contract fail, the more they’re convinced they should just leave.

The animal world chips in to add to the confusion, with a toad that spits psychedelic poison, a dog that’s way way too friendly, and a goat with amazing luck.

Nasty Bits

There’s some shooting, but no deaths.

Cast and Crew:



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Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure PosterGenre: Scifi Comedy Adventure
Director: Stephen Herek
Screenwriter: Chris MathesonEd Solomon

Rating: 82%
Length: 1h 30m

Summary: to pass their history class, two dim students travel back in time to kidnap famous people from history.

Main Actors: Keanu ReevesAlex WinterGeorge CarlinTony SteedmanDan ShorRobert V. Barron

Nice Bits

This film really shouldn’t work, but somehow, largely due to the relaxed and good natured lead characters of Bill and Ted, it does. I’m neither a rock and roll wannabe, nor a slacker, but I can’t resist this entertaining tale.

The sheer ignorance of the two leads is funny, and some of their lines are a riot. They’re almost constantly positive, despite not really understanding who they meet, and their enthusiasm is infectious! There are some great quotable lines here, too.

George Carlin, known for his comedy, plays it mainly straight here.

There are many fish out of water moments, which are milked to great comic affect. Some historical characters struggle when brought back to the present, but others dive right in and find modern times fascinating and full of possibilities!

That’s probably a lesson for all of us, but the overall affect is a delight. Keanu Reeves has seen much success since this film, but I’m not sure he’s ever had more fun on set.

Nasty Bits

Nothing to mention.

Cast and Crew:



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All of Me

All of Me PosterGenre: Comedy Fantasy
Director: Carl Reiner
Screenwriter: Phil Alden Robinson

Rating: 91%
Year: 1984
Length: 1h 33m

Summary: The soul of a dying nasty millionairess gets transferred accidentally into her lawyer, whom she hates.

Main Actors: Steve MartinLily TomlinVictoria TennantMadolyn SmithRichard Libertini

Nice Bits

Steve Martin has been wasted recently, but this is one of a trio of films where his genius is allowed to shine fully. His physical comedy here is a delightful addition to the funny story.

Another reason to love this film is that despite the female antihero being selfish initially, as the film evolves, we get a sense of why she behaves that way, and it’s heart warming. Although it’s hate at first sight with her lawyer, she gradually manages to grow on him.

There’s also a delightful spiritual adviser who follows her around, speaking only a few words of English, and being incurably positive no matter what happens. That’s largely because most of the time, he has absolutely no idea what’s going on!

It’s always a big plus when a film combines humour with heart, and there are many authentic connections between characters here which greatly add to the pleasure of this little known film. People grow, learn, and the happy ending is a joy.

Nasty Bits

Not that I recall.

Naughty Bits

A little playful sexual banter.

Cast and Crew:



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Little Shop of Horrors

Little Shop of Horrors PosterGenre: Comedy Scifi Musical
Director: Frank Oz
Screenwriter: Alan MenkenHoward Ashman

Rating: 90%
Year: 1986
Length: 1h 34m

Summary: a shy shop assistant discovers a plant from outer space that can only survive on human blood.

Main Actors: Rick MoranisEllen GreeneVincent GardeniaSteve MartinLevi StubbsBill Murray

Nice Bits

This timeless horror comedy is full of wonderful songs, and manages to get the balance just right. No, that’s not true: the horror is very tame, and deliberately so. In spite of some pretty nasty things happening, the whole thing is a delight from start to finish.

There are a few hilarious cameos, especially Bill Murray and Steve Martin, but please note: this is NOT the version in which Jack Nicholson made his screen debut. That was the far less entertaining black and white 1960s version made on a shoestring.

The two leads are so sweet and sympathetic as underdogs, and it’s hard not to cheer them on, even though rather unpleasant things keep happening. This is very much a film with a soft heart, on top of which is carefully laid the comedy and music.

This production originally reproduced the ending from the stage musical, where the plant wins and the heroes die. However, test film audiences hated that ending, so they reshot it at great expense, where our heroes manage to survive, in spite of everything. Luckily, both versions are now available to view, to decide for yourself which is better.

I very much prefer the happy ending, because I’m a softie, but the original is well worth seeing as well, largely for the sheer scale on which the plants manage to take over!

Nasty Bits

A couple of deaths, and a body get chopped up, but all in a comical manner.

Cast and Crew:



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Pleasantville PosterGenre: Drama Fantasy Comedy
Director: Gary Ross
Screenwriter: Gary Ross

Rating: 86%
Year: 1998
Length: 2h 5m

Summary: Two teenagers get sucked into an idealistic 50s TV show, and accidentally change their world.

Main Actors: Tobey MaguireJeff DanielsJoan Allen
William H. MacyJ. T. WalshReese Witherspoon

Nice Bits

This delightful fantasy explores the idealisation of the good old days, to see whether they really were that good. But that sounds boring, and this film is anything but boring!

The fine folk in the black and white TV show find that their pleasant world gets gently rocked by other emotions, by other experiences, and along the way they grow up to discover a world coloured by nuance, instead of simple black and white.

Numerous characters start out as stereotypes or cliches, and discover they have hidden depths, as they are inadvertently challenged by the arrival of the teenage duo. These two in turn are surprised to find themselves teaching the TV folk at times.

There is much gentle humour to be had as both groups learn from each other, and just about everybody explores what they really want to do with their lives, instead of feeling compelled to continue doing what is expected of them.

It sounds preachy, but it’s not. I find myself very touched by this tale, as so much suffering comes from people being forced into lives that don’t work for them.

I keep returning to this film, as it always brings a smile to my face.

Nasty Bits

There’s a short riot, some painful discrimination, but it all turns out well in the end.

Cast and Crew:



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What about Bob?

What about Bob Poster

Genre: Comedy
Director: Frank Oz
Screenwriter: Tom Schulman

Rating: 82%
Year: 1991
Length: 1h 39m

Summary: A neurotic patient follows his psychologist on holiday, and nearly drives him round the twist.

Main Actors: Bill MurrayRichard Dreyfuss

Nice Bits

Bill Murray plays this role to perfection, trying to get relief from his various mental issues, while Richard Dreyfuss plays it straight, trying to appear the consummate professional, all the time getting more and more upset about Bill’s behaviour.

Much of the fun comes from Bill’s character being (mostly) innocent and sweet, and although the good Doctor wants nothing to do with him while on vacation, his own family falls for Bill. This just makes the shrink even more upset!

On top of this, the shrink’s new book is being released, and the last thing he needs is for Bill to be around when the TV cameras visit.

His family begin to wonder who’s the crazy one, as they enjoy getting to know Bill, and can’t understand why the shrink wants to get rid of him so quickly.

Bill Murray has 4 brilliant comedies, and this is one of them. Well worth rewatching often!

Nasty Bits

Richard Dreyfuss gets more and more angry, sometimes screaming loudly.

Cast and Crew:



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