Starring: Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Chris Pratt, Rhys Ifans
Director: Nicholas Stoller (CERT 15, 124 minutes)
The plot: Fresh from the Judd Apatow production line of cheeky comedies comes this latest from writer/director Stoller and writer/star Segel, who previously collaborated on the Russell Brand hit Forgetting Sarah Marshall. This time, Segel plays a schlubby chef living it up in San Francisco with his Brit girlfriend (Blunt). After a year of blissful dating, he proposes to her, but their wedding plans are scuppered when she needs to move to the chilly Midwest to further her academic career. He dutifully follows her to Michigan, but the nuptials keep getting delayed…
What’s right with it? The cast – especially Blunt, in hugely likeable form, sparring with Segel who plays the same loveable doof he’s perfected in previous films. They get great support from Ifans as a charming show-off of a college professor who has an eye for Blunt, and Pratt as Segel’s best mate. The script delivers a couple of memorably rude scenarios (one sex scene is particularly riotous), though the film resonates most effectively during some sweet moments between the lead characters.
What’s wrong with it? The entire premise relies on the quaint idea that this couple really need to tie the knot to make their relationship meaningful, despite the fact they’re fine just living together and having lots of sex. Perhaps mindful of this flawed scenario, the last third of the film ratchets up the jeopardy in their relationship to such an extent it becomes utterly ridiculous.
Verdict: There’s a sharp, winning 90-minute romcom within this flabby two-hour effort, but it still yields enough laughs to make it worth a watch. 3/5 @BoydHilton
Starring: Benjamin Walker, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Dominic Cooper
Director: Timur Bekmambetov (CERT 15, 105 minutes)
The plot: In real life, 16th US President Abraham Lincoln helped to end slavery in the 1860s. This film, based on the novel by Seth Graham-Smith, focuses on his early exploits as a vampire hunter. No, really.
What’s right/wrong with it? We can’t say for sure, as the film didn’t screen in time for our deadlines, but direction – from Wanted action maestro Bekmambetov – looks suitably spectacular in the trailer. We’re looking forward to Dominic Cooper as Lincoln’s vampire-slaying mentor, and Rufus Sewell as the lead vampire villain.
Verdict: Historical dramas about US presidents have proved a wipeout with UK audiences (anyone remember Jefferson In Paris?). Can this one end the losing streak? @charlesgant
Starring: Rebecca Hall, Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones
Director: Stephen Frears (CERT 15, 93 minutes)
The plot: Beth (Hall) seeks a career reboot in Las Vegas, landing a gig with professional gambler Dink (Willis), whose outfit exploits the disparity in odds offered by sports betting shops. Dink’s jealous wife (Zeta-Jones, big fun) sniffs a workplace romance.
What’s right with it? Based on Beth Raymer’s memoir, Frears’ film benefits from colourful characters, including Dink’s manic rival Rosie (Vince Vaughn).
What’s wrong with it? The film, patronisingly, never trusts the audience to comprehend Dink’s number-crunching business. Also, Josh Jackson’s out-of-his-depth love-interest character could have been more vivid.
Verdict: Amiably entertaining, but misses the jackpot, so spread the risk and wait for the DVD to come out. 3/5 @charlesgant