Every now and again Hollywood coughs up a movie where a bunch of old guys set out to have a good time and prove they’ve still “got it”. Considering prime examples of this genre are films like Wild Hogs and Last Vegas, it’s hardly surprising it doesn’t get a whole lot of respect.
Based on a classic piece of Australian memoir that’s become a touchstone for a generation of gay men (and Australians in general), director Neil Armfield’s adaptation had a lot to live up to. And live up to the source material it does; while it may not be quite as strong a movie as it could have been, it gets so much right that it feels churlish to complain about a few bum notes.
The trick with teen tear-jerkers is that, unlike with the grown-up variety, is to make it seem like the point of the exercise isn’t to make the audience bawl their eyes out. Adults don’t really care: they come to tear-jerkers to cry and so long as the film does that they’re happy.
Frank Martin (Ed Skrein) is The Transporter, a man who’ll drive anything anywhere: for a price. So being hired as a getaway driver for a group of sex workers looking to get out of the prostitution racket by robbing their enslavers blind (and maybe killing them in the process) is all part of the job. Only this time, they’ve kidnapped his dad (Ray Stevenson) to keep him in line, and Frank doesn’t like that one bit.
If you remember screenwriter Diablo Cody’s film Young Adult, then you have a good idea what to expect here: a woman who has failed to conform to society’s expectations is drawn back to the world where her failure seems most acute, there to find a way to get the respect of the past she’s never quite been able to shake.
Philosophy professor Abe Lucas (Joaquin Phoenix) arrives at a small Rhode Island university, only to find that his rakish reputation proceeds him. The reality of this one-time womaniser and firebrand is bleaker: he’s a bloated, washed-up drunk who flirts with suicide and reeks of despair.
There are a lot of reasons why the latest Fantastic Four movie doesn’t always work, but perhaps the biggest is that the Fantastic Four themselves just are all that strong as characters. That’s not to say they can’t work on the big screen (they just haven’t yet).