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Now showing at Reel Cinema Burnley Centenary Way, Manchester Road,Burnley,Lancashire BB11 2EJ 01282 416329

  • A Most Wanted Man
  • A Walk Among The Tombstones
  • Gone Girl
  • Guardians Of The Galaxy
  • Let's Be Cops
  • Lucy
  • Moulin Rouge The Ballet: Royal Winnipeg Ballet
  • Pride
  • Sex Tape
  • The Boxtrolls
  • The Equalizer
  • The Giver
  • The Hundred-Foot Journey
  • The Inbetweeners 2
  • The Riot Club
  • What We Did On Our Holiday

A Most Wanted Man 4 stars

movie title

German intelligence operative Gunther Bachmann hopes to identify and break up terrorist cells by extracting information from the local Muslim community. He believes but cannot prove that philanthropist Dr Abdullah is channelling funds to one such cell. The surveillance operation on Abdullah becomes complicated when Chechen refugee Issa Karpov enters Hamburg illegally and is identified as a terrorist by Russian intelligence.

  • GenreAdaptation, Drama, Thriller
  • CastRachel McAdams, Robin Wright, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Willem Dafoe, Daniel Bruhl, Nina Hoss, Homayoun Ershadi, Grigory Dobrygin.
  • DirectorAnton Corbijn.
  • WriterAndrew Bovell.
  • CountryUK/US/Ger
  • Duration121 mins
  • Official sitewww.amostwantedmanmovie.com
  • Release12/09/2014

Great actors don't just play a role, they become the role, vanishing beneath the skin of a character so every word and gesture appears organic. Philip Seymour Hoffman was one such rare talent. On stage and screen, his emotional range and versatility were breath-taking including a bravura embodiment of Truman Capote that won him the triple whammy of BAFTA, Golden Globe and Academy Award.

He was heart-breaking as a boom-mike operator in Boogie Nights, whose crush on a porn star ends in humiliating rejection, hilarious as a maverick CIA agent in Charlie Wilson's War and monstrous as a charismatic cult leader in The Master. Each physically and emotionally demanding role fitted him like a glove.

A Most Wanted Man is distinguished by Hoffman's final performance in a leading role and it's a typically understated yet riveting portrayal of a German intelligence agent, who lives on his nerves and occasional swigs of whisky or puffs of a cigarette.

Based on the 2008 novel of the same name by John Le Carre, Anton Corbijn's slow-burning espionage thriller steadily cranks up the tension, building to a nerve-jangling finale that has us holding our breaths.

Chechen refugee Issa Karpov (Grigory Dobrygin) enters Hamburg illegally and seeks refuge with a kind Turkish woman (Derya Alabora) and her son (Tamer Yigit). They put Issa in touch with immigration lawyer Annabel Richter (Rachel McAdams) and Tommy Brue (Willem Dafoe), who is head of the private bank used by Issa's sadistic father to store his ill-gotten coffers.

German intelligence operative Gunther Bachmann (Hoffman) and his team comprising right-hand woman Irna Frey (Nina Hoss) and juniors Maximillian (Daniel Bruhl) and Niki (Vicky Kreps) identify Issa as an escaped militant jihadist.

They choose not to arrest him but use Issa as bait to snag Muslim academic and philanthropist Dr Faisal Abdullah (Homayoun Ershadi), who is suspected of channelling funds to terrorist Islamic organisations. Gunther and his team exert pressure on Richter and Brue to coerce Issa into donating his father's money to Abdullah.

However, the plan doesn't unfold smoothly and Gunther's operation faces intense scrutiny from high-ranking CIA operative Martha Sullivan (Robin Wright), whose view of humanity is summed up when she observes, "Every good man has a little bit of bad, doesn't he?"

Like the 2011 film adaptation of Le Carre's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, A Most Wanted Man delights in the minutiae of the spy game. Expertly choreographed scenes of surveillance are punctuated by verbal fireworks and threats of violence.

Corbijn refuses to be rushed - even when he is orchestrating a chase by train and car, which is as close as the film comes to a conventional action sequence. Hoffman's nuanced, world-weary performance is complemented by a uniformly excellent international cast. It's a splendid swansong.

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Thursday 2nd October 2014

A Walk Among The Tombstones 3 stars

When a shootout with robbers ends in tragedy, booze-sodden NYPD cop Matt Scudder hangs up his badge and gets sober with the help of AA then re-invents himself as a private investigator. He is hired by Kenny Kristo to track down the sadistic kidnappers, who demanded a hefty ransom for his wife Carrie, took the money and still killed their terrified captive. In the course of his enquiries, Matt befriends homeless teenager TJ, who wants to learn how to be a detective.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Thriller
  • CastLiam Neeson, David Harbour, Dan Stevens, Adam David Thompson, Boyd Holbrook, Brian 'Astro' Bradley.
  • DirectorScott Frank.
  • WriterScott Frank.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration114 mins
  • Official sitewww.awalkamongthetombstones.net
  • Release19/09/2014

A grizzled private detective meets his match in a pair of sadistic kidnappers in Scott Frank's gritty thriller. Adapted from Lawrence Block's novel of the same name, A Walk Among The Tombstones establishes its grim tone with soft-focus opening credits depicting a blonde woman (Laura Birn) rousing from slumber under the gentle caress of her lover.

As the camera pulls back, we notice a tear trickle down the woman's porcelain cheek and a strip of metallic tape across her mouth, transforming a beatific dream into a nightmare of intolerable cruelty.

Unspeakably bad things continue to happen to good people throughout Frank's film without any guarantee that justice will prevail. Liam Neeson wades through this moral quagmire in typically robust fashion as the private eye, who risks his life for clients in order to atone for one particular sin committed during his inglorious past as an NYPD cop.

The role is more cerebral than the gung-ho avenging angels in the Taken series and Non-Stop, but director Frank duly caters to fans of Neeson's renaissance as a tough-talking action hero with one bruising fight sequence. When a shoot-out on the streets of 1991 New York City ends in senseless tragedy, booze-sodden officer Matt Scudder (Neeson) hangs up his badge and embraces sobriety with the support of Alcoholics Anonymous.

He re-surfaces as an unlicensed private detective, working out of his apartment in Hell's Kitchen. Fellow AA member Peter Kristo (Boyd Holbrook) approaches Matt with an urgent request to help his brother Kenny (Dan Stevens), who has just paid a 400,000 dollar ransom for his wife (Razane Jammal).

The kidnappers took the money then dismembered their hostage. Matt visits Kenny in his plush apartment and the former cop deduces the grief-stricken husband is a drug dealer. Interestingly, the perpetrators knew this from their ransom demand: "You'd pay a million for her if she was product."

Despite initial misgivings, Matt agrees to help Kenny unmask the merciless perpetrators, Ray (David Harbour) and Albert (Adam David Thompson), who are already scoping their next target. In the course of his enquiries, Matt encounters homeless teenager TJ (Brian 'Astro' Bradley), who needs a father figure to keep him safe on the mean streets of the Big Apple.

A Walk Among The Tombstones is a solid and involving genre piece that lays the groundwork for further adaptations of Block's series of books dedicated to Scudder. Matt's sweetheart Elaine, who is prominent on the page, is missing in action from Frank's film, allowing us to concentrate on the case and the relationship between Matt and TJ that feels like a convenient plot device rather than a fully realised surrogate father-son bond.

Neeson doesn't have to stretch himself in the undemanding and hard-hitting lead role, while Downton Abbey heartthrob Stevens makes little impact amidst the explosions of brutality.

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Thursday 2nd October 2014

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Gone Girl 4 stars

On her fifth wedding anniversary, Amy Dunne vanishes without trace. Her husband Nick works with the police to front a high-profile media campaign to secure the safe return of his "amazing Amy". In the glare of the spotlight, fractures appear in the Dunnes' marriage and police and public both question Nick's innocence. With Amy's creepy ex-boyfriend Desi Collings as another suspect, Detectives Rhonda Boney and Jim Gilpin search for answers.

  • GenreAdaptation, Drama, Romance, Thriller
  • CastNeil Patrick Harris, Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Boyd Holbrook, Scoot McNairy, Missi Pyle, Patrick Fugit, Kim Dickens.
  • DirectorDavid Fincher.
  • WriterGillian Flynn.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration149 mins
  • Official sitewww.gonegirlmovie.cok
  • Release02/10/2014

Ignorance is bliss when it comes to Gone Girl. If, like me, you haven't read Gillian Flynn's 2012 psychological thriller and you know nothing of the serpentine twists that propelled the novel to the top of the bestsellers list then jealously guard your cluelessness. There's an undeniable delight watching Flynn wrong-foot us with this spiky satire on media manipulation and the glossy facade of celebrity marriages. When the central characters promise to love, honour and obey, till death do them part, one of them takes that vow very seriously. Admittedly, you have to dig deep beneath the surface of David Fincher's polished film to find the jet black humour but it's there, walking hand-in-hand with sadism and torture that propel the narrative towards its unconventional denouement. The film version of Gone Girl is distinguished by a career-best performance from Rosamund Pike as the pretty wife, who vanishes without trace on her fifth wedding anniversary and is presumed dead at the hands of her handsome husband (Ben Affleck). Pike has to plumb the depths of human emotion in a demanding and complex role, by turns brittle and steely, terrified and driven. She's almost certain to earn her first Oscar nomination. In stark contrast, Affleck is solid but little more as the spouse who pleads his ignorance but hides secrets from the people he adores. As battles of the sexes go, it's a resolutely one-sided skirmish. On the morning of his anniversary, Nick Dunne (Affleck) calls detectives Rhonda Boney (Kim Dickens) and Jim Gilpin (Patrick Fugit) to his home. There are signs of a struggle and his wife Amy (Pike) is missing. Nick's sister Margo (Carrie Coon), who has never liked Amy, assures her sibling that everything will be fine. "Whoever took her's bound to bring her back," she quips cattily. Nick and Amy's distraught parents (David Clennon, Lisa Beth) front a high-profile media campaign to secure the safe return of "amazing Amy". In the glare of the spotlight, fractures appear in the Dunnes' marriage and police and public question Nick's innocence. Gone Girl holds our attention for the majority of the bloated 149-minute running time, with a couple of lulls and a disjointed final act. Pike's mesmerising theatrics light up the screen and there is strong support from Neil Patrick Harris as Amy's creepy old flame. Fincher's direction is lean, complemented by snappy editing and a discordant score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, who won the Oscar for their music to The Social Network. Once you regain your balance from Flynn pulling the rug from under your feet, this is a slick yet slightly underwhelming whodunit that doesn't quite scale the dizzy heights of shock and suspense previously achieved by Jagged Edge, The Usual Suspects or indeed, Fincher's 2005 film, Se7en.

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Thursday 2nd October 2014

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Guardians Of The Galaxy 4 stars

movie title

Abducted from his parents as a child and raised by thieves, gung-ho American pilot Peter Quill is content to gallivant around the far reaches of space. He steals an orb, which is sought by Ronan and his army of Sakaarans, and evades capture by aligning himself with a motley crew of rebels comprising green-skinned assassin Gamora, genetically engineered raccoon Rocket, his tree-like sidekick Groot and vengeance-seeking warrior Drax The Destroyer, whose entire family was slaughtered by Ronan.

  • GenreAction, Adaptation, Adventure, Comedy, Family, Science Fiction
  • CastBradley Cooper, Chris Pratt, Vin Diesel, Zoe Saldana, Lee Pace, Dave Bautista, Josh Brolin.
  • DirectorJames Gunn.
  • WriterJames Gunn, Nicole Perlman.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration128 mins
  • Official sitewww.marvel.com/guardians
  • Release31/07/2014

From its visually stunning opening set to the funky strains of Come And Get Your Love by Native American rock band Redbone, Guardians Of The Galaxy lends the Marvel Comics big screen universe a delightful retro twang. The sardonic anti-hero is seldom parted from his Walkman and he inspires his cohorts to greatness with repeated references to Kevin Bacon and Footloose. As the slick special effects attest, the budget for this intergalactic romp is big - so too are the laughs courtesy of director James Gunn and co-writer Nicole Perlman. The opening sequence affectionately nods to Raiders Of The Lost Ark and when the mystery surrounding the film's fabled treasure is revealed, the space cowboy casually notes the trinket has "a shiny suitcase, Ark of the Covenant, Maltese Falcon vibe". Gunn doesn't skimp on the spectacle - if anything, a couple of the outlandish set pieces are too long - but he adds a comic twist to each deafening blast of pyrotechnics. Thus a centrepiece prison break is underscored by Rupert Holmes' 1979 hit Escape (The Pina Colada Song) and when the anti-hero barely escapes death in his spaceship and an extra-terrestrial girlfriend stumbles up from the hold, he looks at her with embarrassment and confesses, "I'm going to be honest with you. I forgot you were here". Abducted from his parents as a child and raised by thieves led by blue-skinned tyrant Yondu (Michael Rooker), Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) is a thief for hire, who steals a mystical orb sought by sadistic warlord Ronan (Lee Pace) and his army of Sakaarans. Peter evades Ronan's clutches and eventually aligns himself with a motley crew of mercenaries comprising green-skinned assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana), genetically engineered raccoon Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper), his tree-like sidekick Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) and vengeance-seeking warrior Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista), whose entire family was slaughtered by Ronan. When Peter learns the orb is an ancient artefact with the power to destroy the universe, he must put selfish desires to one side to repel Ronan and his underlings including fearsome intergalactic hunter Korath (Djimon Hounsou). Guardians Of The Galaxy is a blast. Pratt brings swagger and dry wit to his emotionally wounded hero, while Saldana adds sass and sex appeal to her otherworldly assassin. Bautista is marvellous as the hulk who takes everything literally - "Nothing goes over my head, my reflexes are too fast" - but almost every scene is stolen by the computer-generated double-act of Rocket and Groot. Cooper voices his feisty gun-toting fur ball with a wonderful blend of defiance and sarcasm, and breaks our hearts when it seems that he might be separated from his beloved sidekick forever. Cameos from Benicio Del Toro and Glenn Close hint at a wider canvas of political intrigue that director Gunn will be keen to explore in a sequel star-dated for release in 2017.

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Thursday 2nd October 2014

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Let's Be Cops 2 stars

movie title

Ryan O'Malley and best friend Justin Miller misread the dress code for their college reunion party and turn up dressed as police officers. On the way home, the buddies embrace the power afforded by the uniform including an impromptu stop and search of goons working for sadistic Russian mobster Mossi Devic. The following day, Ryan buys a patrol car and persuades Justin to slip back into his fake cop persona to woo his crush and apprehend Devic.

  • GenreAction, Comedy, Romance
  • CastRob Riggle, Damon Wayans Jr, Jake Johnson, Nina Dobrev, James D'Arcy.
  • DirectorLuke Greenfield.
  • WriterNicholas Thomas, Luke Greenfield.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration104 mins
  • Official sitewww.letsbecops.com
  • Release27/08/2014

If the title of Luke Greenfield's hare-brained buddy movie was a rhetorical question, the unequivocal answer would be: Let's not! Lifeless, limp and relentlessly unfunny, Let's Be Cops is a scattershot comedy about downtrodden pals, who don LAPD uniforms for a party and discover newfound respect because of the badge. Films of this ilk propel characters on a journey of self-discovery laden with mishaps and misadventures, at the end of which, they glean valuable life lessons about self-belief and courage.

The lessons we learn from Greenfield's picture are manifold: an amusing dramatic premise doth not a laughter riot make; it's never a good sign when you yearn to punch the lead characters within five minutes of them appearing on screen; and misfiring punchlines do not suddenly become hilarious if one of the actors delivers them AT THE TOP OF HIS VOICE.

Ryan O'Malley (Jake Johnson) has frittered away 11,000 dollars he earned from a TV commercial for genital herpes. He lacks direction, as does best friend Justin Miller (Damon Wayans Jr), a videogame designer whose idea for an immersive experience as a LAPD officer is shot down in flames by his zombie-obsessed boss (Jonathan Lajoie).

These much maligned misfits misread the dress code for their college reunion party and turn up in costumes, which Justin bought for his videogame presentation. On the way home, the buddies embrace the power afforded by the uniform including an impromptu stop and search of goons working for sadistic Russian mobster Mossi Devic (James D'Arcy).

The following day, Ryan buys a patrol car and persuades Justin to slip back into his fake cop persona to woo his crush: a pretty waitress called Josie (Nina Dobrev), who dreams of swapping lunch orders for a career as a make-up artist.

Unfortunately, Josie is also the object of Devic's demented affections. Real-life officer Segars (Rob Riggle) swallows Ryan and Justin's buffoonish bluff and shares valuable surveillance on Devic. "He is the Devil's nephew!" warns Segars, whose hard-nosed superior, Detective Brolin (Andy Garcia), becomes suspicious of Ryan and Justin and decides to test their mettle.

Women apparently love a man in uniform but it's hard to imagine anyone loving Luke Greenfield's ridiculous comedy of errors, which attempts to hop on the 21 Jump Street bandwagon and misses by a mile. As a double-act, Johnson and Wayans Jr are irritating and it beggars belief that they accomplish their deception when the characters go out of their way to be exposed as charlatans.

Garcia must have been short of a month's rent to accept his thankless supporting role while Dobrev serves up a two-dimensional loved interest, who apparently has a track record for attracting psychos. Action sequences are perfunctory and the script makes ill-advised forays into homophobia, racism and misogyny in search of elusive giggles.

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Thursday 2nd October 2014

Lucy 3 stars

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American twenty-something Lucy is kidnapped by Korean mob boss Mr Jang and forced to work as a drugs mule, carrying a consignment of a valuable synthetic drug called CPH4 sewn into her stomach. During her captivity, Lucy gets into a fight and one of her captors kicks her in the stomach, releasing CPH4 into her system. The drug significantly increases her physical and mental abilities, unleashing telepathic and telekinetic powers.

  • GenreAction, Science Fiction, Thriller
  • CastMorgan Freeman, Scarlett Johansson, Amr Waked, Choi Min-sik, Julian Rhind-Tutt.
  • DirectorLuc Besson.
  • WriterLuc Besson.
  • CountryFr
  • Duration89 mins
  • Official sitewww.lucymovie.co.uk
  • Release22/08/2014

Derriere-numbingly long films may be all the rage but at a lean 89 minutes, Lucy, the new action thriller from Luc Besson, is all the better for bucking this Hollywood trend. And with a kidnapping, killing sprees and questionable drugs thrown into the fray, there's certainly enough in that hour and a half to halt you from slipping out of the cinema.

Lucy (Scarlett Johansson) is a carefree student living in Taiwan, who is tricked by her new boyfriend Richard into doing his dirty work and carrying a briefcase, jam-packed with potent new drugs, into a hotel for him.

But there's no time for pleasantries here and before the concierge has greeted Lucy, Richard has been dispatched and Lucy is held hostage by the neighbourhood's merciless mob of local drug lords headed up by the unsparing Mr Jang (Choi Min-sik).

Waking up, Lucy discovers that the mob has taken the liberty of surgically implanting thousand of pounds worth of a deadly blue drug, CPH4, which increases the user's brain capacity, into her stomach. And more than that, if the bright blue crystals leak, it will kill her. But leak it does and Lucy, who is sent across the world as a drug mule, soon finds her brain working on disturbing new levels, signposted in the film with frequent updates on the percentage of brain capacity she's using.

As well as being hell-bent on exacting revenge on the mobsters, Lucy also busies herself by tracking down the eminent professor Samuel Norman (Morgan Freeman) in Paris who has spent decades researching the brain's potential.

In a deft twist to Johansson's role as a human-like operating system in Spike Jonze's Her, Lucy sees the actress' voice take on a lifeless tone, shedding personality and lightness as her brain's potential expands. Much has been made of the film's neurological theory not stacking up, but scientific soundness isn't the mission here - entertainment is.

And while there are some rather odd moments - the flashes to a prehistoric Lucy, the strained conversation Lucy has with her mum and the missed opportunity to kill Mr Jang while she can - Lucy is nevertheless a punchy film, which demands your attention every minute of the way.

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Thursday 2nd October 2014

Moulin Rouge The Ballet: Royal Winnipeg Ballet 3 stars

Modern classic.

  • GenreMusical, Special
  • CountryCan
  • Duration130 mins
  • Official site

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Thursday 2nd October 2014

Pride 5 stars

movie title

Mark Ashton is the charismatic and outspoken leader of impassioned campaigners, who operate out of the Gay's The Word bookshop in London. Reading news stories about the miner's strike, Mark recognises a cause to champion. "Mining communities are being bullied just like we are," he tells his coterie and they form LGSM - Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners - with the intention of raising funds for a randomly selected Welsh community.

  • GenreComedy, Drama, Historical/Period
  • CastBill Nighy, Andrew Scott, Dominic West, Ben Schnetzer, George MacKay, Jessica Gunning, Paddy Considine, Imelda Staunton, Joseph Gilgun.
  • DirectorMatthew Warchus.
  • WriterStephen Beresford.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration120 mins
  • Official sitewww.pridemovie.co.uk
  • Release12/09/2014

Theatre director Matthew Warchus, who succeeds Kevin Spacey as artistic director of the Old Vic in London next year, will need to de-clutter his awards-laden mantelpiece. His second feature film is a barnstorming culture-clash comedy drama based on the inspirational true story of a group of gays and lesbians, who supported the miners during the 1984 strike and raised thousands of pounds for beleaguered communities, which dared to stand up to the Thatcher government.

This uplifting story of solidarity in the face of adversity and police intimidation is an absolute joy; an unabashed, irresistible crowd-pleaser in the magnificent mould of The Full Monty and Billy Elliot that rouses the audience to bellowing laughter while choking back a deluge of hot, salty tears.

Pride embraces and subverts stereotypes, deftly weaving together stories of personal triumph and anguish as the spectre of Aids casts a long shadow over the gay community.

Mark Ashton (Ben Schnetzer) is the charismatic and outspoken leader of young, impassioned campaigners, who operate out of the Gay's The Word bookshop in London run by Gethin (Andrew Scott). Reading news stories about the miner's strike, Mark recognises a cause to champion.

"Mining communities are being bullied just like we are," he tells his coterie comprising Mike (Joseph Gilgun), Jonathan (Dominic West), Jeff (Freddie Fox), Steph (Faye Marsay) and closeted new boy, Joe (George MacKay). They form LGSM - Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners - and rattle tins for a randomly selected Welsh community.

Mining representative Dai (Paddy Considine) invites Mark and co to the Dulais Valley where committee members Hefina (Imelda Staunton), Cliff (Bill Nighy) and Sian (Jessica Gunning) embrace the fund-raisers with open arms. However, some of the locals are repulsed.

"We're being backed up by perverts," sneers homophobic mother Maureen (Lisa Palfrey), kindling conflict between some of the neighbours and the LGSM.

Pride is a life-affirming ode to tolerance, acceptance and self-belief that defiantly lives up to its title, waving a flag for stellar home-grown filmmaking.

Performances are exemplary, ignoring a few wobbles with the Welsh accents, including a fiery turn from Schnetzer as a fresh-faced trailblazer and sobs aplenty from Mackay as the catering student, who cannot conceal his sexuality forever.

Scriptwriter Stephen Beresford strikes a perfect balance between hilarity and heartbreak, sharing polished one-liners among the ensemble cast including Menna Trussler as a clucky old dear, who labours under the illusion that all lesbians are vegetarians.

Warchus' film builds to a rousing crescendo that delivers a knock-out emotional wallop and opens the floodgates. As Frankie Goes To Hollywood professed during that turbulent summer of 1984: "When two tribes go to war/A point is all you can score." The characters in Pride score their points with unbridled passion and wit.

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Thursday 2nd October 2014

Sex Tape 2 stars

movie title

When they first meet, Jay and Annie cannot keep their hands off each other. Two children later, the opportunities for amorous one-on-one time are few and far between, so, on a rare night together, Annie suggests they make a sex tape. Jay and Annie energetically work their way through every position in The Joy Of Sex but the exhausted husband forgets to erase the video file and it uploads to the cloud and syncs to several other iPads, which the couple have given away as presents.

  • GenreComedy, Romance
  • CastCameron Diaz, Ellie Kemper, Rob Corddry, Jason Segel, Rob Lowe.
  • DirectorJake Kasdan.
  • WriterNicholas Stoller, Kate Angelo, Jason Segel.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration94 mins
  • Official sitesextape-movie.tumblr.com
  • Release03/09/2014

All publicity is good publicity and the rise of "leaked" celebrity sex tapes has certainly extended the fame of media darlings far beyond the allotted 15 minutes. Katie Price and Dane Bowers, Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, Paris Hilton and Rick Salomon and Tulisa and rapper Justin Edwards all faced a trial by media when their amorous antics suddenly materialised in the public domain. Sometimes, these homemade escapades jeopardized careers. Chart-topping singer R Kelly faced a protracted legal battle in relation to a video featuring an underage girl, and actor Rob Lowe's image was badly tarnished after footage surfaced of a sexual dalliance with young women aged 16 and 22. Lowe subsequently poked fun at himself when he hosted Saturday Night Live and he continues to wedge tongue in cheek with an eye-catching supporting role in Jake Kasdan's potty-mouthed comedy. Sex Tape is the raunchy tale of a happily married couple, who drunkenly agree to perform every position in The Joy Of Sex on camera for their private delectation. When they first meet, Jay (Jason Segel) and Annie (Cameron Diaz) cannot keep their hands off each other and enjoy an impressively gymnastic sex life. Two children later, there are few opportunities for amorous one-on-one time. With their cherubic offspring (Sebastian Hedges Thomas, Giselle Eisenberg) safely entrusted to grandma (Nancy Lenehan), Annie and Jay excitedly agree to make a sex tape. Unfortunately, the exhausted husband forgets to erase the video file and it uploads to the cloud and syncs to several iPads, which the couple have given away as presents. Jay and Annie are horrified when they realise their energetic efforts are available to download to friends, family, the postman and Annie's soon-to-be-boss, Hank (Lowe). When pals Tess (Ellie Kemper) and Robby (Rob Corddry) learn about the existence of the recording, they are aghast, especially Robby who cannot believe Jay performed for three hours. "That's the length of the movie Lincoln!" he gasps enviously. Time is of the essence and Tess and Robby join Jay and Annie as they race through the night to delete the incriminating video file from the iPads and spare their blushes. Sex Tape is a tease that fails to arouse belly laughs or a deep emotional connection to the beleaguered characters. Diaz and Segel, who previously locked horns in saucy comedy Bad Teacher, are an attractive pairing but the script shortchanges them both. A protracted sequence at Hank's palatial home outstays its welcome, replete with escalating animal cruelty. Jack Black cameos late in the film as a porn website proprietor and makes the point that Jay and Annie could have resolved the situation with a simple email or telephone call rather than racing around town like lunatics. A truncated, 20-minute version of Kasdan's film has undeniable appeal.

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Thursday 2nd October 2014

The Boxtrolls 4 stars

movie title

An orphaned boy named Eggs is raised by gentle subterranean creatures that have been unfairly demonised by the terrified, fromage-fixated residents of Cheesebridge. When pest exterminator Archibald Snatcher and his henchmen begin to exterminate the Boxtrolls, Eggs joins forces with the surviving creatures and a girl called Winnie to protect the beasties from harm.

  • GenreAdaptation, Adventure, Animation/Cartoon, Comedy, Family, Family, Fantasy
  • CastToni Collette, Elle Fanning, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Jared Harris, Sir Ben Kingsley.
  • DirectorGraham Annable, Anthony Stacchi.
  • WriterIrena Brignull, Adam Pava.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration97 mins
  • Official sitewww.theboxtrolls.co.uk
  • Release12/09/2014

Based on the novel Here Be Monsters! by Alan Snow, The Boxtrolls is a rollicking stop-motion animated romp from the makers of Coraline and ParaNorman that proves weird can be truly wonderful. With faint echoes of Raymond Briggs' Fungus The Bogeyman, Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi's quirky fantasy imagines a race of subterranean creatures, who root through bins in search of spare parts for their mechanical creations.

Despite a hearty appetite for slimy bugs, these pungent, green-skinned denizens of the underworld are cute rather than scary, possessing relatable human traits such as a passion for music or a quivering fear of the unknown. They spare troll blushes by wearing empty cardboard boxes and the former contents of these mouldering cartons provide each expressive character with a name such as Fish, Knickers, Sweets, Clocks and Fragile (ho ho!).

The meticulous detail of the movable figures and miniature sets is impressive, and co-directors Annable and Stacchi corral a vast team of animators, who produce thrilling chases and quieter moments of ribald humour.

The well-to-do, Victorian-era city of Cheesebridge is visited under the cloak of darkness by the eponymous beasties. One dark night, a Boxtroll called Fish (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker) kidnaps the infant son of a local inventor (Simon Pegg) and spirits away the child to the underground lair.

This shocking act plays into the grubby hands of pest exterminator Archibald Snatcher (Sir Ben Kingsley). "Prepare to say bye-bye to your brie, cheerio to your cheddar!" cackles Snatcher, striking fear into the heart of Lord Portley-Rind (Jared Harris) and the other fromage-fixated noblemen.

They grant Snatcher a place at the cheese-tasting top table if the exterminator and his henchmen - Mr Trout (Nick Frost), Mr Pickles (Richard Ayoade) and Mr Gristle (Tracy Morgan) - kill every last Boxtroll. Unaware that he is human, abducted boy Eggs (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) ventures above ground with the Boxtrolls and encounters Lord Portley-Rind's snooty daughter, Winnie (Elle Fanning).

She initially believes the horror stories about Boxtrolls devouring children - "Eat me. I'm sure I'm delicious!" - but once Winnie learns the truth about Eggs' past, she agrees to help vanquish Snatcher and his snivelling cohorts.

The Boxtrolls is a delight for the young and young at heart, hinging on the notion that families come in all shapes and sizes. Irena Brignull and Adam Pava's script is laden with verbal and visual gags, striking a gently mischievous tone throughout like when Winnie spots Eggs tugging at the crotch of his uncomfortable suit and whispers, "Don't snatch them in public. That's why they are called privates!"

Frost, Ayoade and Morgan provide the majority of the comic relief between action-packed set-pieces. Remain seated during the end credits for a hilarious scene of existential angst, which succinctly reminds us how pain-staking and time-consuming the stop-motion animation process is.

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Thursday 2nd October 2014

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The Equalizer 3 stars

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Robert McCall has turned his back on his past as a covert government operative and has fashioned an unremarkable life in suburbia. At night, McCall works his way through a list of 100 books everyone should read while enjoying a coffee at his local diner, where he befriends a sassy prostitute called Teri. When she ends up in hospital, battered and bruised at the hands of her controlling pimp Slavi, McCall exacts revenge and sparks a war with the Russian Mafia.

  • GenreAction, Drama, Thriller
  • CastMarton Csokas, Denzel Washington, Chloe Grace Moretz, Melissa Leo, Bill Pullman, David Harbour.
  • DirectorAntoine Fuqua.
  • WriterRichard Wenk.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration132 mins
  • Official sitewww.equalizerthemovie.com
  • Release26/09/2014

Director Antoine Fuqua, who guided Denzel Washington to the Oscar podium in Training Day, reunites with the charismatic actor for this gratuitously violent reimagining of the beloved 1980s TV series.

Nostalgic memories of Edward Woodward's refined approach to justice and crime-fighting on the small screen are blown to smithereens by this brutish, big-screen rendering of The Equalizer. In a dizzying opening fight sequence, Washington impales a corkscrew in one henchman's noggin and repeatedly pummels a couple more as if he was tenderising a large slab of steak.

Each bone-cracking blow, stab and punch is captured in balletic close-up; a queasy dance of death that reaches a hilarious and frenetic crescendo with drills and sledgehammers in a hardware warehouse where the title character works when he's not coolly doling out just desserts.

Screenwriter Richard Wenk, who co-wrote The Expendables 2 with Sylvester Stallone, comes perilously close to the tongue-in-cheek tone of that film when Washington is asked by a work colleague how he hurt his bandaged hand and he drolly responds, "I hit it on something stupid". We presume he means the script, considering the implausibilities of the final act, steeped in mindless and repetitive bloodletting.

Robert McCall (Washington) has turned his back on his past as a covert government operative and has fashioned an unremarkable life in suburbia, where he nurses memories of his dead wife. By day, he earns a decent wage in a Home Mart warehouse and mentors another employee, Ralphie (Johnny Skourtis), through his security guard's exam.

By night, McCall works his way through a list of 100 books everyone should read while enjoying a coffee at his local diner, where he befriends a sassy prostitute called Teri (Chloe Grace Moretz). When she ends up in hospital, battered and bruised at the hands of her controlling Russian pimp Slavi (David Meunier), McCall exacts revenge. Justice seemingly prevails.

Unfortunately, Slavi and his goons are a link in a bigger chain controlled by the Russian Mafia and they dispatch sadistic fixer Teddy (Marton Csokas) to track down McCall. The Equalizer starts off promisingly, exploring the minutiae of McCall's daily life as a man scarred by grief and tormented by his past.

Washington is in his element in these early scenes, capturing the maelstrom of emotions that simmer beneath his character's placid surface. Once the first drop of blood is spilt, director Fuqua seizes every opportunity for wanton carnage, to the point that it seems like nothing short of a nuclear explosion will stop McCall in his tracks.

Csokas' vindictive antagonist has little depth beyond his propensity for cruelty and pain, which is something we experience as the running time drags unnecessarily into a third hour.

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Thursday 2nd October 2014

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The Giver 3 stars

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In the mid 21st-century, mankind has been devastated by war. The survivors decide to erase the citizens' memories, as well as their feelings, except for those of one trusted individual, The Giver, who passes on his or her memories to a Receiver when the time comes. Jonas has been chosen as the Receiver in his community and he begins to receive memories from The Giver. As he receives more memories, Jonas comes to the belief that every citizen should be blessed with recollections of the past.

  • GenreAdaptation, Drama, Fantasy, Science Fiction
  • CastBrenton Thwaites, Alexander Skarsgard, Taylor Swift, Odeya Rush, Katie Holmes, Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges.
  • DirectorPhillip Noyce.
  • WriterMichael Mitnick, Robert B Weide.
  • CountryUS
  • Duration97 mins
  • Official sitewww.thegiverfilm.com
  • Release19/09/2014

Happiness is an illusion in The Giver, a sci-fi thriller based on the best-selling novel by Lois Lowry about a highly regimented society, which erases memories of the past in order to secure a utopian future. Children are genetically engineered and placed with parents, who raise them until a ceremony which designates a role to each young adult.

Citizens don't see colour and they have no concept of dishonesty, hunger, jealousy, suffering, violence or wrath. Sameness is cherished: identical family structures, identical homes, identical clothes.

Everybody fits in because society has been designed that way. In Phillip Noyce's film, conformity also snuffs out love, passion and defiance - the sparks to the flame of the indefatigable human spirit - until one intelligent young man speaks out.

Jonas (Brenton Thwaites) lives in apparent bliss with his parents (Alexander Skarsgard, Katie Holmes), little sister Lily (Emma Tremblay) and best friends Fiona (Odeya Rush) and Asher (Cameron Monaghan). At the annual graduation ceremony, the Chief Elder (Meryl Streep) christens Jonas the new Receiver of Memories.

He will become the community's keeper of ancient recollections that are denied to the rest of the populous. "You will learn the secret history of the world - before you, before me, generations back," explains the Giver of Memories (Jeff Bridges), who introduces the teenager to terrifying concepts of pain, sadness, war and death.

This brutal education arouses Jonas's true feelings for Fiona and the young man dares to suggest that every citizen should be blessed with memories of the past - good and bad - which marks him as a dangerous rebel in the eyes of the Council of Elders.

The Giver matures the book's 12-year-old hero to a handsome teenager in order to appeal to audiences who have thrilled and swooned to the vastly superior The Hunger Games and Divergent franchises.

Michael Mitnick and Robert B Weide's script simplifies themes to keep the running time trim, leaving us - perhaps fittingly - in a similar state to the futuristic populace: unmoved and apathetic. Noyce's film is as bland as the colourless world that Jonas inhabits, starving the thinly sketched characters of emotion and the cast of anything to sink their teeth into.

Thwaites is a sympathetic hero but Bridges and Streep are squandered and the central romance with Rush doesn't achieve a single prickle of sexual tension. Chastity is dutifully upheld apart from a couple of lingering, wet kisses.

Vibrant red seeps into the black and white cinematography as Jonas's eyes are opened to the truth, and Noyce introduces action elements including a cliff top chase to the turgid teen angst, augmented with workmanlike special effects. Audiences who receive The Giver will experience a similar memory wipe to Jonas and his kin and forget everything about the film as the end credits roll.

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Thursday 2nd October 2014

The Hundred-Foot Journey 3 stars

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Papa Kadam and his family flee Mumbai after an arson attack on their restaurant, which results in the death of Papa's wife. They seek refuge in a French village, which boasts a Michelin star establishment run by widow Madame Mallory. The building across the road happens to be vacant and Papa purchases the property with the intention of opening his own eaterie serving traditional Indian fare. This rivalry sparks hostility between the Kadams and Mallory, which spirals out of control.

Made to a tried and tested recipe laid out in Richard C Morais's novel, The Hundred-Foot Journey is an uplifting comedy drama charting the battle of wits between two restaurateurs in a close-knit French village. It's a familiar story of feuds and reconciliation, love and loss, laced with the heady spices of one family's proud Indian heritage. Screenwriter Steven Knight (Dirty Pretty Things) offsets the sweetness of the central narrative with tart one-liners, and garnishes with crowd-pleasing performances from Helen Mirren and Om Puri as fierce rivals, who learn to see eye to eye over the simmering saucepans. Lasse Hallstrom's handsome confection is comfort food for the soul. Myriad scenes of chefs searing fresh meats and fishes, or lovingly stirring the ingredients of thick sauces, tantalise the senses and make your mouth water. Papa Kadam (Om Puri) and his five children - Mansur (Amit Shah), Hassan (Manish Dayal), Mahira (Farzana Dua Elahe), Mukhtar (Dillon Mitra) and Aisha (Aria Pandya) - flee Mumbai after an arson attack on their restaurant, which results in the death of Papa's beloved wife (Juhi Chawla). Initially, the Kadams settle in London but they leave because talented chef Hassan discovers that "the vegetables have no soul, no life." So the clan seeks new horizons in Europe. Shortly after crossing the Swiss border into France, the brakes on the Kadams' van fail and they crash close to the village of Saint-Antonin, which boasts a Michelin star establishment Le Saule Pleureur run by widow Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren). The building across the road from Mallory's restaurant is vacant and Papa dreams of serving traditional Indian fare to the good people of France. Eldest son Mansur tries to dissuade his father from competing with Le Saule Pleureur: "It is the best restaurant for 50 miles and the President of France eats there!" Unperturbed, Papa opens Maison Mumbai with Hassan as head chef. This sparks a bitter rivalry with Madame Mallory's own chef Jean-Pierre (Clement Sibony) that spirals out of control. Thankfully, Madame's pretty sous chef Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon) is more welcoming and she inspires Hassan to learn classic French cuisine including boeuf bourguignon and pigeon aux truffes. The Hundred-Foot Journey trades heavily on the spiky banter between Mirren and Puri, the former adopting a cod-French accent as she tells the Kadams, "If your food is anything like your music, I suggest you tone it down." Their interplay is a solid and appealing foundation for a sweet romantic subplot between Dayal and Le Bon. When Knight's script veers into slightly darker territory, and adds the poisonous tang of fame to the feel good mix, the film stumbles. Thankfully, director Hallstrom restores balance with a last-minute dollop of shameless sentimentality to ensure audiences leave with their bellies full of unbridled joy.

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Thursday 2nd October 2014

The Inbetweeners 2 3 stars

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Jay heads to Australia for a gap year, where he enhances his status as an incorrigible ladies man. With the promise of more sex than they can handle, Will, Neil and Simon head down under to join their pal and the four misfits abroad attempt to impress the female of the species including Katie, Polly and Lucy. The lads' ham-fisted chat-up lines and amorous overtures often lead to toe-curling humiliation.

  • GenreComedy, Drama
  • CastSimon Bird, James Buckley, Joe Thomas, Blake Harrison, Emily Berrington.
  • DirectorDamon Beesley, Iain Morris.
  • WriterDamon Beesley, Iain Morris.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration96 mins
  • Official site
  • Release06/08/2014

Some of the Inbetweeners may have bagged jobs. Some of them may have even found girlfriends, but thankfully The Inbetweeners 2, the comedy series' second foray onto the big screen, shows our fumbling foursome back on reassuringly awkward form. And with three hugely popular E4 series behind them and the most successful British comedy of all time to their name in their first film, there's no need to change the discomforting formula here.

Although almost a year has passed since the lads' holiday to Malia, the four anti-heroes haven't matured in the slightest. Despite getting a place at Bristol University, Will (Simon Bird) is still chronically uncool and is yet to make any real mates on campus; hapless Simon (Joe Cooper) isn't faring much better up in Sheffield where he's lumbered himself with a demanding girlfriend who destroys his hoodies; randy Jay (James Buckley) has moved to Australia but is working in a toilet and sleeping in a tent in his uncle's garden, and dim-witted Neil (Blake Harrison) has somehow landed a job in the bank but is still as gullible as ever.

Fed up with their lives and enticed by Jay's boastful emails about his conquests with Kylie and Dannii Minogue and five-star lifestyle, Will, Simon and Neil decide to surprise him by heading down under for a four-week break.

Predictably, Jay has been fibbing about his 'DJ' job and his bed posts have no more notches in them than before he left Blighty. In fact, it turns out that he actually misses his ex-girlfriend Jane (Lydia Rose Bewley), first seen in The Inbetweeners Movie.

Rather than kip on Jay's bullying uncle's lawn, the gang tag along with Will's prep school classmate, the popular and pretty Katie (Emily Berrington), who he bumps into, and head to the traveller paradise Byron Bay in a car that has a mural of Peter Andre's face on the side of it.

When it looks like Katie is interested in him, Will tries to woo her, giving a toe curling performance on an acoustic guitar and then racing beefed up love rival Ben (Freddie Stroma) in a stomach-churning water park ride complete with high-octane bodily functions.

The 'bants', as Jay and Neil would call them, come thick, fast and foul here and each of the four friends has their own tortuous meltdown, with varying degrees of putridity and penis jokes bandied around.

Gross, puerile and filled with playground gags, The Inbetweeners 2 is everything you'd expect it to be.

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Thursday 2nd October 2014

The Riot Club 4 stars

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Alistair Ryle arrives at Oxford, hoping to emulate his older brother, a former president of an elite dining club at Oxford University. Given his lineage, Alistair is almost certain to catch the eye of Riot Club president James Leighton-Masters. However, it is dashing classmate Miles Richards from more humble stock, who steals Alistair's thunder and arouses the homosexual yearnings of influential club member Hugo Fraser-Tyrwhitt.

  • GenreAdaptation, Drama, Romance, Thriller
  • CastDouglas Booth, Natalie Dormer, Sam Claflin, Freddie Fox, Sam Reid, Jessica Brown Findlay, Ben Schnetzer, Gordon Brown, Olly Alexander, Max Irons, Tom Hollander, Matthew Beard, Holliday Grainger, Jack Farthing.
  • DirectorLone Scherfig.
  • WriterLaura Wade.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration107 mins
  • Official sitewww.facebook.com/TheRiotClubUK
  • Release19/09/2014

The class war degenerates into foul-mouthed tirades and stomach-churning violence in Laura Wade's robust adaptation of her own coruscating stage play. Posh originated at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 2010 and was revived two years later in the West End, painting a vivid portrait of a fictional dining clique akin to the Bullingdon Club at Oxford University, which once included David Cameron, George Osborne and Boris Johnson in its notorious ranks.

Lone Scherfig's film, retitled The Riot Club, packs a similar emotional wallop to its stage-bound predecessor, detonating pent-up testosterone and tempers with horrifying repercussions. Wade has fleshed out key protagonists and excised some scenes entirely to reduce the running time by 40 minutes.

There seems to be a greater emphasis on the fledgling romance between the most likable male character and a down-to-earth northern lass (Holliday Grainger), who is dazzled by the dreaming spires and gushes, "Being at Oxford is like being invited to 100 parties all at once - and I want to go to all of them."

The Riot Club is not a party most of us would wish to attend. But that's the point. Alistair Ryle (Sam Claflin) arrives at Oxford, hoping to emulate his older brother, a former president of the titular fraternity.

This hush-hush 10-strong dining club honours the memory of its libidinous 18th century founder by boozing to excess at an annual dinner, trashing the venue and paying for the damages out of their trust funds. Given his lineage, Alistair is almost certain to catch the eye of Riot Club president James Leighton-Masters (Freddie Fox).

However, it is dashing classmate Miles Richards (Max Irons) from more humble stock, who steals Alistair's thunder and arouses the homosexual yearnings of influential club member Hugo Fraser-Tyrwhitt (Sam Reid). Alistair and Miles pass initiation and are inducted into the ranks alongside Harry Villiers (Douglas Booth), Guy Bellingfield (Matthew Beard), Toby Maitland (Olly Alexander), Dimitri Mitropoulos (Ben Schnetzer) and George Balfour (Jack Farthing).

The students head to a country pub run by Chris (Gordon Brown) and his daughter Rachel (Jessica Brown Findlay), who have no idea of the devastation about to be wrought.

The Riot Club is a sobering attack on a culture of inherited privilege and power in Britain. Scherfig's film dissects how our egalitarian society is founded on secret handshakes in wood-panelled rooms far from the madding electorate, and you can almost see the venom streaking down the camera lens when one inebriated club member sneers, "I am sick to death of poor people!"

The Danish filmmaker, who previously helmed the Oscar nominated coming of age story An Education, doesn't spare the morally repugnant characters any blushes. A climactic showdown is just as jaw-dropping in lurid cinematic close-up as it was from the safe distance of the theatre's upper circle.

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Thursday 2nd October 2014

What We Did On Our Holiday 4 stars

Gordie McLeod is poised to celebrate his 75th birthday in the Scottish Highlands. His self-obsessed son Gavin is hosting the lavish party to impress the neighbours and hopefully secure the captaincy of the local golf club. As the party beckons, Gavin's less successful brother Doug and his wife Abi arrive with their three children in tow. The birthday celebrations are unexpectedly thrown into disarray and a media scrum descends on the family's doorstep.

  • GenreComedy, Drama, Romance
  • CastDavid Tennant, Billy Connolly, Rosamund Pike, Amelia Bullmore, Ben Miller, Emilia Jones, Harriet Turnbull, Bobby Smalldridge.
  • DirectorAndy Hamilton, Guy Jenkin.
  • WriterAndy Hamilton, Guy Jenkin.
  • CountryUK
  • Duration95 mins
  • Official site
  • Release26/09/2014

In 2007, Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin abandoned the conventions of a tightly scripted sitcom and took a more fluid approach to mining laughs in the breakout hit Outnumbered. While the adult characters' lines were committed to the page, the young actors were allowed to improvise around suggestions from Hamilton and Jenkin, and consequently delivered natural performances, reacting instinctively to set-ups and punchlines.

The writer-directors adopt the same winning recipe for this uproarious feature film debut, an ill-fated family road trip laced with absurdity that touches the heart and tickles the funny bone.

Once again, it's the younger cast who scene-steal with aplomb, explaining why a bout of car sickness is a source of joy ("It's like being a fountain!") and succinctly distilling the anguish and betrayal of parental infidelity into a single throwaway line: "Dad had an affair with a Paralympic athlete with one foot."

That's not to say that Hamilton and Jenkin short-change the rest of the ensemble cast including David Tennant, Rosamund Pike and Glaswegian firebrand Billy Connolly. They snaffle a generous smattering of belly laughs too, like when Connolly's cantankerous grandfather tries to explain Hitler's seizure of land in terms a bairn might understand: "Like Monopoly, but with more screaming."

Gordie McLeod (Connolly) is poised to celebrate his 75th birthday in the Scottish Highlands. His self-obsessed son Gavin (Ben Miller) is hosting the lavish party to impress the neighbours and hopefully secure the captaincy of the local golf club.

Gavin's long-suffering and neurotic wife Margaret (Amelia Bullmore) remains in the background, occasionally exploding with pent-up rage. As the party beckons, Gavin's less successful brother Doug (David Tennant) and his wife Abi (Rosamund Pike) arrive with their three children in tow: 11-year-old Lottie (Emilia Jones), who scribbles repeatedly in her notebook so she can remember which lies she is supposed to tell; six-year-old Mickey (Bobby Smalldridge), who is obsessed with Vikings; and five-year-old Jess (Harriet Turnbull), whose best friends are two rocks christened Eric and Norman.

The birthday celebrations are unexpectedly thrown into disarray and a media scrum descends on the family's doorstep along with an interfering Social Services officer called Agnes (Celia Imrie), who casts doubt on Doug and Abi's ability to nurture their dysfunctional brood.

What We Did On Our Holiday is a rip-roaring riot, laying bare the petty jealousies and deep-rooted fears within a family while dealing with serious issues through the unblinkered eyes of the three children.

Tennant and Miller spark a fiery sibling rivalry with excellent support from Pike and Bullmore, the latter proving that it's the quiet ones you have to watch out for. Hamilton and Jenkin eschew cloying sentimentality in the film's tricky final third, striking a pleasing and ultimately winning balance between musing and amusing.

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Thursday 2nd October 2014

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