“Wild Target,” Reviewed

“Wild Target,” Reviewed (photo)

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It’s odd what films make you a believer in the auteur theory. A few years before I had ever heard of Andrew Sarris or really started to dig into Cahiers du Cinema, I had watched a review of the Michael Richards-Jeff Daniels comedy “Trial and Error” on “Siskel and Ebert” where Roger Ebert showered praise on the film’s attention to detail, particularly how Charlize Theron looked both ways for traffic before crossing the street. The film was the second courtroom-set comedy directed by Jonathan Lynn, a journeyman if there ever was one after coming to the U.S. following a career in British television (most notably as a writer on “Yes, Minister”).

This is worth mentioning since “Wild Target” bears all the hallmarks of Lynn’s best films, despite being, even at a tidy 90 minutes, a bit too long. It is silly but not stupid, conforms nicely with the conventions of screwball comedies, and once again displays the director’s ability to bring the best out of his actresses, whether it’s Theron, Marisa Tomei in “My Cousin Vinny,” Amanda Peet in “The Whole Nine Yards” or even Beyonce in “The Fighting Temptations.” (It’s no coincidence his weakest films have weak female characters (“Sgt. Bilko”) or have men playing them (“Nuns on the Run”).)

10292010_WildTarget2.jpgIn “Wild Target,” Emily Blunt is the clear object of Lynn’s affection, even if Bill Nighy is the real lead of the film as a hitman tasked with taking out a conwoman named Rose (Blunt), who has successfully passed off a Rembrandt forgery, and becomes infatuated with her instead. For Nighy’s prim, precise Victor Maynard to fall for her, Lynn must do so first, delighting in showing the type of trouble in store for Maynard when Rose tools around London on a bicycle, sneaking past cars at an intersection that she causes to crash and bewildering museum security guards. But once trouble catches up to Rose, which it does in the form of the wronged art collector Ferguson (Rupert Everett), she unwittingly flips Maynard from murdering her in a parking lot to killing the second hitman Ferguson has sent for her. (There is some small pleasure in the oddity that the third assassin sent to kill Blunt’s Rose is the British “Office”‘s Tim, Martin Henderson, has been hired as the third hitman to kill the real-life wife of the current American “Office”‘s Jim, John Krasinski.) Rupert Grint takes a rare step away from Ron Weasley to join Nighy and Blunt on the road after he witnesses the whole thing as a scruffy car wash attendant.

“Wild Target” is able to get by on the chemistry between the trio, and some clever wordplay in Lucinda Coxon’s adaptation of Pierre Salvadori’s 1993 original French film “Cible émouvante,” for about two-thirds of the film before reaching a point where Maynard and Lynn don’t know what to do with Rose, with the former taking her up to his country home for protection, robbing the latter of further opportunities to explore her devious streak. A life of domesticity doesn’t suit either Maynard or Rose, but that’s the direction “Wild Target” takes for much of the final third, with the two taking on roles completely unnatural to them that seems like an unintentional condemnation for their past crimes. And for a comedy that finds most of its humor in death, considering a life beyond one of crime is no life at all, though as the free-spirited Rose would likely be given to say, it’s fun while it lasts.

“Wild Target” is now open in limited release.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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Draught Pick

Sam Adams “Keeps It Brockmire”

All New Brockmire airs Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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From baseball to beer, Jim Brockmire calls ’em like he sees ’em.


It’s no wonder at all, then, that Sam Adams would reach out to Brockmire to be their shockingly-honest (and inevitably short-term) new spokesperson. Unscripted and unrestrained, he’ll talk straight about Sam—and we’ll take his word. Check out this new testimonial for proof:

See more Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC, presented by Samuel Adams. Good f***** beer.

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