Get Duked!: Take a “Fun” Walk in the Highlands – Amazon Prime Review

This was one of the funniest dark comedies of the year.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

Three delinquents named DJ Beatroot, Dean, and Duncan (Viraj Juneja, Rian Gordon, Lewis Gribben) are taken to the Scottish Highlands by a teacher named Mr. Carlyle (Jonathan Aris) in order to try and win the Duke of Edinburgh award. They are joined by a shy kid named Ian (Samuel Bottomley) and given a map of the Highlands that they must navigate in order to qualify for the award. Carlyle drives off to the campsite that they’re supposed to reach and leaves the boys, who reluctantly set out while getting high. Unfortunately, a well-dressed man wearing a mask (Eddie Izzard) and his masked wife (Georgie Glen) are both watching the boys. It turns out that in the Highlands, someone is out to hunt the most dangerous game: stoned teens.

They have a bit of a rough day.

END SUMMARY

This film is a solid blend of slapstick, trippy visuals, and satire with a dark premise like “rich people hunting poor teens for sport.” Well, not exactly for sport. It turns out that there are certain British people who just enjoy culling the population of “underachievers” and, being rich and bored, they decided the fun way to do that is to hunt them down in Scotland with antique rifles and weird masks. It’s obviously not a fair fight, as they have guns and the boys have a “well-sharp” fork, but it probably doesn’t help that the main characters are all pretty stupid. Despite that, they do sometimes come up with creative solutions to their problems, which is, appropriately, what they were sent on the walk to do.

Not great on the map reading, though.

Eddie Izzard, the biggest star in the film, doesn’t get a ton of focused screen time, but when he does it is used to the utmost. He plays his character, who the boys believe to actually be the Duke of Edinburgh, as the perfect blend of upperclass twit and raging sociopath. He never breaks his calm and happy demeanor, even when the boys do manage to successfully counterattack. Instead, he and his “wife” just continue to joke about the situation. 

The masks are creepy as hell.

One of the funniest parts of the film is how it represents the local police officers who get caught up in the events. They’re so rural that their biggest concern at the beginning is the local bread thief. As they get more involved with the case, they continually misunderstand the already ridiculous events and it just keeps getting funnier every single time until it finally comes to an insanely satisfying conclusion. 

Same with DJ Beatroot’s attempts to become successful.

Overall, I really recommend this film. It’s pretty hilarious.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Vivarium: Nature is Cruel, Even Unnaturally – Amazon Prime Review

A couple are trapped in a suburban nightmare.

SUMMARY

Gemma (Imogen Poots) and Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) are a couple who are looking to buy their first house together. Gemma is a schoolteacher and Tom is a landscaper. They visit a real estate agent, Martin (Jonathan Aris), who tells them of a new development called Yonder. Yonder is revealed to be filled with identical houses, all of them empty except for number 9. Martin disappears while showing them the location, and when Tom and Gemma try to leave, they can’t find an exit to the suburb, eventually running out of gas. No matter what they try, they can’t get out of the maze of houses. They end up finding a box filled with food, and a second box filled with a baby, with instructions that if they raise the baby, they will be released. Unfortunately, the child (Côme Thiry/Senan Jennings/Eanna Hardwicke) proves to be just as unnatural as Yonder itself.

I feel like this is a number of red flags.

END SUMMARY

First of all, both of the leads in this movie are fantastic actors who I have loved in other films, including The Art of Self-Defense, their previous collaboration. They’ve both got a knack for balancing dramatic roles with a heavy dose of relatability and humor. This movie takes full advantage of that by having just the right amount of levity to drive home how horrible their situation is. We see two people whose relationship is suffering not necessarily because of their own actions, but because they are in a situation which is literally driving them both insane. The third lead role belongs to Senan Jennings, who I have never seen in anything before, but who absolutely nails his role as the Boy. Not only is his voice constantly unnerving because it sounds so adult despite his young age (I think he was only like 8 when filming this), but everything about him seems like a mockery of humanity. Since he ultimately seems to be just trying to copy Gemma and Tom in order to better understand how humanity acts, much as how the suburb is set up to be a pale imitation of how humanity lives, this is just perfect.

Seriously, this kid’s freaking great.

That’s really where this movie shines. It’s uncomfortable. It’s not that Gemma and Tom are really being tortured most of the time, although having a crazy child that is rapidly aging would be disconcerting for anyone, but their existence is not really existence. The food they have doesn’t have taste. The house they live in doesn’t have any real smells. There’s even a great scene of them going into their car just because it’s the only thing they have left that still feels “real.” The houses are too identical. Even the clouds aren’t right, because they just look like clouds. It’s like living in a twisted caricature of reality. Watching how much it starts to drain the psyche of our leads, particularly Poots, just drives home that this is a torture which is more cruel than any thumbscrews could ever be. 

God, so disturbing.

The one big problem I have with the movie is that it might be a bit too direct in trying to tell everyone what it’s “about.” The film opens with footage of a cuckoo bird’s life cycle, which consists of being placed in another bird’s nest as an egg, hatching before the other eggs and developing faster than most species of birds, which allows the adolescent cuckoo to knock the other chicks out of the nest. Having killed their competition, the cuckoo is then raised by the mother bird until it’s an adult. So, that’s a bit of a massive spoiler about this film’s arc. Also, the title tells us that the neighborhood is supposed to be a Vivarium, a place where life is grown while observed as part of data collection or experimentation. I think the film was clear enough, so it feels unnecessary to have it spelled out so much, but maybe that’s nitpicking. 

Hey, it was just a critique.

Overall, this was a solid horror film. I recommend giving it a try. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Netflix Review – The End of the F***ing World: It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Love

A young psychopath and a rebel go on a wild journey through England.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

James (Alex Lawther) is 17 and believes that he is a psychopath. He claims that he has no emotions or feelings and he kills animals for a hobby. Alyssa (Jessica Barden) is 17 and hates her current family life. Her mother (Christine Bottomley) and father (Steve Oram) split up when she was little and her mother married Tony (Navin Chowdrey), who wants to molest her now that she’s past puberty. James decides he wants to kill Alyssa, so he asks her out. Before he can kill her, however, she suggests they just take off together on the road. Looking for a better opportunity to kill her, he agrees, but the two end up starting to develop real feelings while caught up in an increasingly insane road trip. In the second season, the two are hunted by Bonnie (Naomi Ackie), an insane fan of a writer (Jonathan Aris) of whom the pair ran afoul.

EndOfWorld - 1Cast
A Skateboard? But it’s not the 90s!

END SUMMARY

I thought I reviewed this a while back, but it turns out that I had not, and this is a solid show that needs to be seen.

Similar to I Am Not Okay With This, this was originally a graphic novel by Charles Forsman that was brought to the small streaming screen by Jonathan Entwhistle. Unlike that series, however, this one was written solely by Charlotte “Charlie” Covell, which gives it a more consistent tone and feel. Not that I Am Not Okay With This wasn’t good, I enjoyed it, but the regularity in this show allows it to quickly dive deeper into the characters and more deeply explore them without worrying about what other authors might want to try with their episodes. Since this show is a dark romantic comedy, it really needs that extra depth in order to get us to relate to the very eccentric and off-putting characters, which it does amazingly well.

EndOfWorld - 2Knife
I mean, this guy is our protagonist. This guy.

While the dialogue and pacing of the show is great, the main reason it works is that the two leads are both fantastic. Alex Lawther manages to portray a psychopath who is learning to be, essentially, less of a psychopath as the series moves forward, but still has to make himself appear relatable and humorous while doing so. Jessica Barden portrays a character who frequently harms everyone around her with her own selfishness, but she still comes off as sympathetic and even likable at times. The supporting characters, likewise, manage to be more complex than would normally be possible in limited screen time through a combination of quality writing and polished portrayals.

The End of the F***ing World
And they pull off this wardrobe somehow.

The one thing that stuck out to me, though, was the high number of people willing to commit sexual assault on this show. It seems like almost half of the characters portrayed in the series are some kind of rapist. The rest are seemingly prone to violence of other sorts. I don’t know if that’s based on the comic series or if that’s a reflection of the adaptation process or some combination thereof. I can’t really be sure, but I feel like it might be a part of trying to give a portrayal of how the world seems to vulnerable young women like Alyssa, where everyone is potentially a threat. If so, it works well.

Overall, I enjoyed the show. It’s only 16 episodes and there are no plans to make more, so it doesn’t take too long to watch and it definitely has a unique feel. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.