Paul Byrne gives his verdict on the latest movie releases including SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD and GROWN UPS



Directed by Edgar Wright. Starring Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jason Schwartzman, Anna Kendrick, Brandon Routh.


THE PLOT: Scott (played by the hip-to-be-square Cera) is a 23-year old slacker who plays bass in the surprisingly good Sex Bob-Omb – when he’s not daydreaming about girls, that is. In particular, new girl in town Ramona V. Flowers (Winstead), purple-haired, roller-skated, and alluringly aloof (think Stephanie from Lazy Town, all grown up). Only trouble is, once our fumbling, mumbling anti-hero actually gets a date, he’s introduced to her seven evil exes, each a martial arts master, and each ready to engage in a little manga madness with the mild-mannered, weak-limbed Scott. Who, despite the fact that he’s a dreamer not a fighter, manages to go all Super Mario on their asses.


THE VERDICT: Based on Canadian Bryan Lee O’Malley’s six digest-sized black and white comic novels (the last of which was released only last month), this might just be a little too cool for school. It’s still a blast though.


Boasting the sort of on-screen graphics that would make Adam West hard, an actually rockin’ setlist from Sex Bob-Omb (courtesy of Beck), kooky characters a-plenty (drummer Kim looking like a cross between Ellen Page and a pissed off leprechaun), witty one-liners (“If your life had a face, I’d punch it”), and just the sort of pop culture cool that you’d expect from the man who brought us Spaced, Shaun Of The Dead and Hot Fuzz, well, turns out, this might just be too much of a good thing. And not quite as Kick Ass as you want it to be.RATING: 3/5



Directed by Dennis Dugan. Starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, David Spade, Rob Schneider, Salma Hayek, Mario Bello.


THE PLOT: Something of a Saturday Night Live weekend reunion, Sandler calls on former cast mates (alongside cuckoo, and Sandler’s occasional on-screen sparring partner, Kevin James, there for all the You’ve Been Framed moments) for a script he co-wrote with SNL vet Fred Wolf (Without A Paddle, Joe Dirt) about a bunch of fortysomething buddies going a little wild in the country after the death of their old school coach.


Hotties Hayek and Bello are thrown in for good measure as two of the long-suffering wives of these big kids…


THE VERDICT: The resulting Carry On relies on such comedy stalwarts as grandmothers farting, post-op dogs Stephen Hawking-barking, 48-month-old boys breastfeeding, men peeing in lakes, men peeing in public pools, and the Canadian accent. Oh, and insults. And being ugly. And being fat.


Which is all well and good. If it’s funny. Which Grown Ups is not. Still, it’s made over $150m in the US, so, you know, hurrah for mediocre family comedies.



PIRANHA 3-D (USA/16/89mins)

Directed by Alexandre Aja. Starring Jerry O’Connell, Ving Rhames, Elisabeth Shue, Christopher Lloyd, Eli Roth, Richard Dreyfuss.


THE PLOT: Derrick Jones (O’Connell) is off to Lake Victoria to exploit some more finely-chested bimbos, employing local lad Jake (Steven R. McQueen) as his guide, the latter bringing along his sweet-as-apple-pie girlfriend, Kelly (Jessica Szohr). Jake is also supposed to be looking after his two younger siblings whilst their sheriff mum (Shue) tries to bring some law and order to all the student mayhem and mammary-flashing. But, hey, there are some oversized prehistoric piranhas afoot. And they want a foot. Or two.


THE VERDICT: A franchise that kicked off as B-movie entertainment 32 years ago, typically, back then schlock-meister Roger Corman let smart young things do the actual carrying – Joe Dante (who would go on to Gremlins and Small Soldiers) directing and John Sayles (Eight Men Out, Lone Star, The Secret Of Roan Inish) writing. Which resulted in a film far smarter than its surface splasherfest would suggest. A young James Cameron handled the 1981 sequel.


Here, the brothers Weinsteins – in many ways the Roger Corman of their day – abandon any such hope, and head straight for the jugular. Or, to be more precise, the genitals. Despite a neat little cameo from Richard Dreyfuss (in full Jaws regalia), this is pure gonzo filmmaking. Like the Girls Gone Wild videos, you really have to be in the mood. And you might just hate yourself in the morning.



Directed by Thor Freudenthal. Starring Zachary Gordon, Robert Capron, Steve Zahn, Rachel Harris, Connor Fielding.


THE PLOT: Greg Heffley (Gordon) is your average, workaday, nothing-special 11-year old kid who just happens to have Woody Allen’s sense of humour. And he’s none too impressed with middle school – “You’ve got kids like me who haven’t hit their growth spurt yet mixed in with these gorillas who need to shave twice a day”. Older brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick) is more foe than friend, as is little brother Manny (twins Connor and Owen Fielding). None of this seems to have dawned on Greg’s parents (Harris, Zahn), and so we’re left with a kid who’s just ripe for a little Home Alone action. Instead, Greg gets Mini-Mean Girls. With lots of boys.


THE VERDICT: With a sequel already in the works, this is a competently-crafted adaptation of a sweet-natured and, in the US especially, much-loved comic book novel about those awkward years going from childhood to tweenhood. Those years just before The Wonder Years, in other words. The Blunder Years.

The five books in the series – written by Jeff Kinney, and originally an online creation – have sold a staggering 28 million copies to date. Not quite Calvin & Hobbes, but surprisingly good nonetheless…



THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE (Sweden/Denmark/Germany/16/129mins)

Directed by Daniel Alfredson. Starring Noomi Rapace, Michael Nyqvist, Lena Endre, Sofia Ledarp, Peter Andersson.


THE PLOT: Computer hacker Lisbeth (Rapace) returns to Stockholm, where she soon finds herself framed for three murders. And so the Bourne run begins, journalist Mikael Blomkvist (Nyqvist) setting out not only to prove Lisbeth’s innocence but also complete the expose of sex trafficking being researched by two of the recently deceased. And then proceedings get a little f**ked up.


THE VERDICT: With Hollywood readying their own adaptations, Sweden’s take on the late Stieg Larsson’s much-loved Millenniumtrilogy of crime novels continues, surprisingly, here with an outing originally broadcast as two 90-minute TV movies. Surprising because its predecessor, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, was shot with the big-screen very much in mind. The difference between the two productions is plain.Originally There’s an undeniable naffness to this high-profile outing, director Daniel Alfredson robbing much of Larsson’s original work of its fire. What was shocking in the book comes across as mildly farcical here.





THE MAID (Chile/Mexico/Club/95mins)

Directed by Sebastian Silva. Starring Catalina Saavedra, Mariana Loyola, Andrea Garcia-Huidobro, Claudia Celedon, Alejandro Goic.


THE PLOT: Having served the same family for 20 years, Raquel (Saavedra) has grown tired, and more than a little irritated, with her job. And she’s happy to take it out on Camila (Garcia-Huidobro), the eldest of Pilar (Celedon) and Mundo’s (Goic) four children. The family decide that Raquel might be happy to have an assistant; she sees it as a threat, and proceeds to drive each new arrival out of the home. Until she drives herself into hospital. Once home, new arrival Lucy (Loyola) is a bright light that not even Raquel can dim, and the loneliness of the long-distance house servant might just be coming to an end.

THE VERDICT: A film all about when the help really needs some help, The Maid is a curious and compelling little film. And a Sundance winner to boot. Small but perfectly formed, Sebastian Silva’s addition to a rich Latin American subject matter for filmmakers is a bittersweet but ultimately touching affair. Catalina Saavedra takes much of the credit for that…




THE ILLUSIONIST (UK/France/12A/90mins)

Directed by Sylvain Chomet. Starring the voices of Jean-Claude Donda, Edith Rankin, Jil Aigrot, Didier Gustin, Frederic Lebon.


THE PLOT: Based on an unproduced script by the late Jacques Tati (France’s Charlie Chaplin), the story centres on an old stage entertainer who finds he’s becoming yesterday’s man, being forced into smaller and smaller venues as the new breed takes over. But then, a young fan comes along and changes everything…


THE VERDICT: Released last week, the maker of the Oscar fave The Triplets Of Belleville takes on an unproduced Jacques Tati script – what more could you want? Finally got to see it this week. Now you should go and see it. Right now.