What begins as a tribute to ’70s Spanish sexploitation film-maker Jesus Franco, the film swiftly becomes something different. As British director Peter Strickland (Berberian Sound Studio) digs down to find the real substance in this increasingly offbeat look at a relationship between two women in a world without men, cars, or much of anything else beside butterflies.
How’s this for a high concept: aliens, having somehow encountered the video games of Earth circa 1983 and decided they’re a hostile act, have attacked our planet using those same video game icons against us. It’s the kind of dumb movie idea that pretty much sells itself. Trouble is, it’s also an Adam Sandler vehicle, and big special-effects heavy blockbusters are not his natural environment.
In the mid ’80s friends O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson (played by his real-life son, O’Shea Jackson Jr.) and Andre “Dr Dre” Young (Corey Hawkins) are would-be musos whose big chance to break into the music business arrives when friend and local drug dealer Eric “Eazy-E” Wright (stand-out Jason Mitchell) agrees to finance their first single.
The big problem a lot of young adult series face is that they don’t plan ahead. All the effort goes into the first book because if that bombs there won’t be a second, but if it’s a hit often there’s been no planning for what comes next and “next” is coming in a hurry to make sure they keep the momentum going from the first book.
Robyn (Rebecca Hall) and Simon (Jason Bateman) are a young couple who’ve just moved back to LA for a range of reasons, some good (Simon’s up for a big promotion at work), some not so good (Robyn had a miscarriage). They’re barely settled in when they run into Gordo (Joel Edgerton, who also writes and directs), an old school buddy of Simon’s – or at least, he’s acting like a buddy, while Simon is a bit more wary.
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.