The new Johnny English film ploughs an almost counter culture commitment to undo the hard work of directors like James Gunn to make retro hits uncool again. Doing a generally good job at exposing Brexit-era Britain as being utterly out of its depth in the modern world, the material here is all very obvious but supplies a number of welcome giggles for a family audience.
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A Simple Favour isn’t quite the dramatic shift from Bridesmaids director Paul Feig that its promotional scrawl might have you believe. For one thing, this is hardly the first time Feig has squeezed laughs into genre cinema – see also Spy and Ghostbusters.. Further still, it’s the comedy that flies here, leaving the mystery thriller, based on the book by Darcy Bell, firmly grounded. No, this really isn’t so far from Feig familiar.
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They’re a precocious pair, Damien Chazelle and Justin Hurwitz. Both under forty and each an Oscar winner, the duo reunite after the ebullient La La Land to produce First Man, a more demure, yet still rip roaring, success. An adaptation of James R. Hansen’s Life of Neil Armstrong – by fellow Academy winner Josh Singer no less – the film has the visual mastery of Gravity but adds a welcome familial resonance.
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