STARRING: Adam Scott, Jennifer Westfeldt, Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig
DIRECTOR: Jennifer Westfeldt (CERT 15, 107 minutes)
The plot: Last year, Friends With Benefits exploited the comedic potential of a sex-buddy pact. This new film, similarly named but from entirely different creators, sees best friends Julie (Westfeldt) and Jason (Scott) strike a bargain of even greater magnitude: having a baby. Alarmed at how their married pals Ben and Missy (Hamm and Wiig) and Alex and Leslie (Chris O’Dowd and Maya Rudolph) have allowed the stresses of married life and parenthood to smother the magic of their relationships, and concerned at Julie’s own ticking clock, they take the plunge. They will continue to date other people, but raise a baby together. We think you can guess where this is heading!
What’s right with it? Credit to writer/director/producer Westfeldt, who also co-wrote and starred in 2001 lesbian-themed indie comedy Kissing Jessica Stein, for a smart, genuinely funny screenplay. In real life, she’s been in a relationship with Jon Hamm (another of the film’s producers) since 1998 and three of his Bridesmaids co-stars appear here, making this one of the most comedically gifted ensembles we’ve seen in a while. Megan Fox is well cast as Jason’s shallow dancer girlfriend.
What’s wrong with it? It’s a romcom, so the ending is wholly predictable. That’s OK, but the amount of time Jason takes to understand the true desires of his heart and groin are more frustrating than satisfying.
Verdict: Not as hilarious or outrageous as Bridesmaids, but every bit as smart, Friends With Kids flies the flag for wordy, witty comedy about the complications of modern life. More, please. 4/5 @charlesgant
STARRING: Juno Temple, Emile Hirsch, Matthew McConaughey
DIRECTOR: William Friedkin (CERT 18, 103 minutes)
The plot: A super-dysfunctional Texas trailer-park family are torn apart when reckless dude Hirsch teams up with his idiotic father (Thomas Haden Church) and stepmum (Gina Gershon) to kill his actual mother and collect her $50,000 life insurance money.
What’s right with it? The superbly creepy atmosphere of desperation and impending violence is helped by an amazing performance from McConaughey as a seductively perverse cop/hitman.
What’s wrong with it? As the story gets ever more sick and twisted, some viewers will be repelled.
Verdict: You’ll never look at a fried chicken drumstick the same way again – if you manage to make it through this impressive but thoroughly nasty crime yarn. 4/5 @BoydHilton
STARRING: Noel Clarke, Colin O’Donoghue
DIRECTOR: Johannes Roberts (CERT 15, 87 minutes)
The plot: When a military cargo plane crash-lands in Hyde Park, spewing its highly dangerous cargo, five Londoners are trapped in a nearby self-storage facility. Tensions flare when bitter Charlie (Clarke) learns the real reason his girlfriend Shelley has just dumped him.
What’s right with it? Self-involved Charlie’s focus on his relationship woes, rather than the menacing creature inside the facility, is played for smart laughs. And the alien on the loose is proper scary.
What’s wrong with it? Director Roberts does well with a modest production spend in a single location, but you might tire of looking at corrugated aluminium.
Verdict: This twentysomething twist on Attack The Block could give low-budget British horror a good name. 3/5 @charlesgant