6. Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
Samberg’s brand of humor might be too obnoxious and bizarre for general audiences. After Hot Rod only managed to earn a measly $14 million at the box office, Samberg’s next big starring vehicle unfortunately hasn’t fared any better. Luckily, if the reception is anything to go by, it looks like Popstar will at least end up being another Samberg cult classic if not a financial success.
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is basically This is Spinal Tap with none of the subtlety or dark humor. Without anyone besides The Lonely Island crew, this would no doubt be an issue, as the subtlety and dark humor are largely what make This is Spinal Tap such a success.
However, Popstar’s more outlandish humor works in its favor without sacrificing intelligence. The humor could easily be described as “dumb humor,” but that doesn’t mean the movie itself is dumb. It, like This is Spinal Tap, is a fascinating commentary on the music industry.
On top of that, the laughs barely let up by the half hour mark, as Samberg’s charisma helps the jokes land even harder than they should. The absurd, over-the-top exaggeration of the popstar life is as hilarious as it is enlightening. It doesn’t pack the emotional punch of other movies on the list, but in terms of laughs per minute, this might be the winner.
In a year where so many smaller movies triumphed over the less than stellar blockbusters, it’s a shame that Popstar couldn’t reach a bigger audience. Its box office performance isn’t a testament to its quality, but it’s unfortunate that so many people ignored the little movie. Its inevitable cult status will hopefully come sooner rather than later.
7. Sausage Party
The folks behind Deadpool may have worried about that R-rating attached to a superhero movie, but that’s not nearly as hard to market as an R-rated animated movie. The creation of Sausage Party was definitely an uphill battle.
Then again, after the controversy with The Interview, it seems as though Seth Rogen has the guts to pull something like this off. Whether he’d do a good job of pulling it off is a completely different story, however.
Sausage Party is basically an adult version of Toy Story with food instead of toys. In Rogen’s latest, each item in the Shopwell’s supermarket is alive and completely unaware of what would happen if a shopper were to bring them home. Word on the shelf is that being purchased leads to some kind of beautiful afterlife, but things aren’t as great as they seem.
Sausage Party has a decent amount of funny moments, but its actual strength lies in its unexpected intelligence. Basically, the entire movie is an allegory for the nonexistence of religion.
Obviously, this isn’t going to go over well with everybody, but if you can put your views aside it’s easy to admit that the way the subject is approached is pretty clever. The surprisingly deep themes mixed in with a great voice cast and a humorous script combine to make an animated movie that adults can easily enjoy.
Fresh off a successful Comedy Central show, you’d think the first movie from Key and Peele would have been a hit, especially considering the inclusion of an adorable kitten.
Unfortunately, Keanu wasn’t exactly the hit it should have been. That’s a shame because it’s a legitimately great way to spend an hour and a half. With that in mind, if you haven’t seen Keanu, make an effort to give it a look. There’s a little something for everyone in there.
The plot revolves around two buddies who discover an adorable kitten with some unfortunately dangerous baggage. Key and Peele, or Clarence and Rell as they’re known in the film, are forced to fight for the cat by getting involved in a life of crime they weren’t remotely prepared for. Watching these two average Joes take a shot at the street life leads to constant chuckles.
When you’re not laughing, you’ll likely be thinking about how cute of a cat they managed to cast for the role of Keanu. In other words, it’s pretty much a win-win.
Fans of Key and Peele will love this movie without a doubt, and even non-fans should find something to appreciate. Keanu isn’t the funniest or the most heartfelt comedy of the year, but it’s still a blast.
9. The Mermaid
If you haven’t heard of The Mermaid, chances are you live somewhere outside of China, where the film ended up making of $500 million dollars (yes, you read that correctly). Unfortunately, it’s a pretty small blip outside of China, but that’s what Taste of Cinema is for – to bring these types of films to light.
It’s not surprising to learn that The Mermaid wasn’t a hit in other territories. After all, the movie is incredibly strange. Mermaid movies have been done before, but never quite like this. It comes across as a fantastical rom-com until the absurdist humor comes. After that, you’ll realize what you’re getting into.
How receptive you are to the absurdist humor completely depends on how much weird you can take in one sitting. When The Mermaid embraces how ridiculous it is, it can scare more conservative viewers away. Everyone else, however, will enjoy how nuts everything happens to be.
The Mermaid also comes with a healthy dose of environmentalism. So there’s more to it other than a cute romance and belly laughs. Basically, despite how wild everything is, The Mermaid also has a pretty big heart.
10. Hail, Caesar!
Admittedly, Hail, Caesar! is a pretty weak Coen brothers movie. In terms of quality, it’s somewhere between Intolerable Cruelty and Burn After Reading. In other words, it’s without a doubt somewhere in the bottom five.
Considering the overall quality of the Coens’ movies though, Hail, Caesar! is still a solid film. Furthermore, when you compare it to their recent movies, it kind of seems as if Hail, Caesar! isn’t trying to be the next big Coen award contender. Rather, it feels like a movie where the Coen brothers can let loose and have fun.
That’s the easiest way to describe Hail, Caesar! – a fun movie. It’s a mostly harmless movie that tells an interesting story with quirky characters. It doesn’t have the thematic strength of something like Inside Llewyn Davis or the same kind of wit you’d find in early Coen comedy flicks, but it keeps viewers fairly immersed.
Honestly, it’s occasionally refreshing to sit through a more laid back Coen movie. It still has plenty of the signature Coen brothers personality, but without the more serious undertones. The best advice would be to check the movie out with a more open mind. Don’t expect any Oscar nominations and simply enjoy the ride.