Tag Archives: Josh Gad

Ding-Dong Dud

The giggles come with groans in latest Kevin Hart comedy

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The Wedding Ringer

Starring Kevin Hart, Josh Gad & Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting

Directed by Jeremy Garelick

R

Kevin Hart is a funny guy, with chops honed from years in comedy clubs, manic energy and a rat-a-tat-tat sense of timing and delivery that turns even so-so punch lines into zingers. It’s just too bad he still hasn’t found a movie worthy of his skills and talent.

The Wedding Ringer, a raunchy bro-mantic comedy that had been bumping around several movie companies for over a decade before finally getting made and released, stars Josh Gad (the voice of Olaf the snowman from Frozen) as Doug, a workaholic tax attorney with wedding bells in his future and the depressing prospect of no best man and no groomsmen. Poor Doug is a likeable schlub, but he just doesn’t have any friends.

Who’s he gonna call? Well, lucky for him, there’s Jimmy Callahan (Kevin Hart), a professional best-man-for-hire who gives sad-sack grooms all the down-the-aisle fakery, including groomsmen, money can buy.

That’s the setup for a series of comedic pre-wedding misadventures, some of which seem awfully familiar (because we’ve seen them before), along with some other, more unique detours. Jock humor? Check. Gay jokes. Oh, yes. Bachelor party with a stripper? Of course. A gag involvingJosh Gad;Affion Crockett peanut butter, a basset hound and someone’s private parts? Uh-huh. Depending on your disposition, you’ll either be chuckling or groaning, and likely some of both.

Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, best known as Penny on TV’s The Big Bang Theory, plays Doug’s finance, Gretchen, whose sweetness soon turns sour, in a one-dimensional part that exists only to be steamrolled flat by the Hart-Gad comedy express. Here’s hoping she gets another crack at another, fuller, better role in another, better movie, soon.

But Cuoco-Sweeting gets first-class treatment compared to what happens to Cloris Leachman. The Oscar-winning actress, who appears as Gretchen’s elderly grandmother, literally goes up in flames during a family dinner. Here’s hoping she gets another part in a film that doesn’t roast her like a Thanksgiving turkey, and then keep joking about it for the rest of the movie.

Josh Gad;Kaley Cuoco;Mimi Rogers

Doug (Josh Gad) sweats out his predicament between his soon-to-be mother-in-law (Mimi Rogers) and his bride-to-be (Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting).

The very idea of the movie is preposterous, but you can’t really bash it for that. Its most loathsome offense is its premise that neither men nor women are trustworthy, that both sexes are schemers and losers—a toxic taint of mistrust and misogyny that makes every joke, even the funny ones, land with a jaded thud.

If you’re in a generous mood, you might gravitate to the movie’s subtext of male friendships, or note the (relative) subtlety and sly grace of Olivia Thirlby, as Grechen’s younger sister, who almost susses out Doug and Jimmy’s ruse. And you might smile, and rightfully so, at the song-and-dance sequence into which Doug and Jimmy break when they crash someone else’s wedding party, with the camera circling around and over them, a joyous surprise outburst of moves, grooves and high spirits that seems to come…well, from some other movie entirely.

A better movie.

Here’s hoping that, for Hart and everyone else, their next projects, whatever they are, have better rings to them than this ding-dong dud.

—Neil Pond, Parade Magazine

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Ice, Ice Baby

Disney princesses in ‘Frozen’ are too cool for storybook endings

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Frozen

Starring the voices of Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff & Idina Menzel

Directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee

PG, 108 minutes

Disney princesses are nothing new, but this movie is generous: It has not one, but two.

Loosely adapted from a 19th century Hans Christen Anderson folk epic, Frozen marks a return to the buoyant, song-filled fairytale-fantasy format that became a Disney hallmark in The Little Mermaid (another Hans Christen Anderson fable) and Beauty and the Beast.

Here, a pair of young royal daughters, Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel), grow up apart, sequestered from each other in their sprawling Nordic palace after an unfortunate childhood incident reveals the dangerous darker side of Elsa’s mysterious “gift” to deep-freeze anything she touches.

When the girls become young women and Elsa is reluctantly crowned queen, her coronation ball ends in an unplanned eruption of her powers. Accidentally turning summer into winter and perma-frosting her entire kingdom, the “ice queen” flees to the top of a desolate snow-swept mountaintop.

FROZENSome of the townspeople think Elsa’s a “monster.” Her little-sis princess, insisting she’s just misunderstood, sets off to find her. Along the way, Anna meets a helpful ice harvester (Jonathan Groff, from TV’s Glee), his trusty reindeer Sven, and a goofy, gabby snowman, Olaf (Josh Gad), who longs to experience the warmth of summer—without realizing what heat can do his cool composure.

The songs woven into the storyline are almost all standouts, signaling a new batch of Disney musical cream rising to the top. They’re from the husband and wife songwriting team of Bobby and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. Lopez has won Tony Awards for his Broadway work, and the tunes in Frozen likewise sound like they’re just waiting to be launched into a lavish, long-running stage production.

The story sags a bit in places but comes through with plenty of humor, heart and a couple of rousing action scenes, including a thrilling chase by snarling wolves through a predawn forest and an encounter with a fearsome snow monster. And the computer-generated animation is impressive, with many dazzling cinematic variations on the “beautiful, powerful, dangerous, cold” ice themes noted in the opening musical number.

"FROZEN" (Pictured) ELSA. ©2013 Disney. All Rights Reserved.And in the end, we’re left with a message that won’t surprise anyone who’s ever seen any Disney movie—but one that, refreshingly, doesn’t quite conform to a “typical” princess-storybook ending, either. The two Frozen sisters may not exactly represent a new royal standard in Disney females, but they do pack a powerful two-fisted punch about the power of love…and waiting for the right person who, as Olaf puts it, is “worth melting for.”

—Neil Pond, American Profile Magazine

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