New movies this week

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

It takes a full hour into Vince Waughn’s bloated, adolescent and painfully retro pastiche of sexist dross and meaningless pop nostalgia before the real Kingsman (Colin Firth) is resurrected from the dead. He was shot point blank in the head at the end of the last instalment, but he probably wishes he’d stayed dead. Until then we follow his irritating cockney sidekick Eggsy (Taron Egerton) perform some stunts  while noisily and laboriously setting up the plot. Which has drug lord “Poppy” (Julianne Moore) trying to blackmail the US President into legalising drugs by killing the world’s drug users (her entire customer base?) – which makes about as much sense as it sounds. (Note to writer: drug lords make their money because drugs are illegal). Moore, who like several other A-listers (Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry, Emily Watson) phones in her performance, does at least get the one good joke of the film – she keeps a captive Elton John as a pet in her remote fortified hideout. But even that turns to groans the more we see of a bloated, grotesque Elton. Far more of a howler comes when Eggsy inserts a tracking device into the “mucous membrane” of the girlfriend of one of the bad guys. Even the 12-year old brains of the sniggering reptiles the film is aimed at may find where the camera goes in that scene “a bit off.” Any female mistakenly in the cinema with them will only be reminded of their last pap smear. MA15+ from Sept 21. (No stars)

Also opening at local cinemas this week

 Australia Day

In Kriv Stenders’ last film Red Dog: True Blue, Australia was a sunny place inhabited by good people and a flatulent pooch. Where did that happy country go? Judging by his latest, a Dendy/Foxtel co-production which all but drowns us in ugly stereotypes, it’s now a hellish place. Family breakdown, racism, exploitation, guilt, economic distress and sex trafficking are all part of our national cesspool apparently, so are drug overdoses (two, just in case one wasn’t enough), ethnic violence, bogans behaving badly, torture, suicide and violent deaths (I lost count of how many). And in one completely superfluous scene, incest – snuck in just in case we didn’t get the point. All these events occur in three separate interlinked stories on Australia Day for no apparent reason other than the day’s heavy-handed symbolism. Spliced into these scenes of degradation are TV clips of the country celebrating – girls in bikinis, Aussie flags and the world’s biggest meat pie-eating competition – you get the drift… But behold – riding into town on in a white hat is Aussie icon Bryan Brown (also in Red Dog: True Blue). He plays a decent bloke who helps a Chinese sex-slave fleeing her captors, but he’s also just lost his family farm after a dodgy trade deal with (more loaded symbolism, wait for it…) the Chinese. Sigh… None too happy about that, morose in fact, but rather than just vote for One Nation he’s got something far more drastic in mind. This is the sort of self-hating miserabilism that goes down well with those who want to ban Australia Day – no doubt now a high priority agenda item for our progressive new council. But those people don’t go to the cinema, nor are they Foxtel’s audience. What were they thinking? MA15+ from Sept 21. ★

Captain Underpants

Admit it, the fact that one of our planets is called Uranus is pretty funny… Though one criticism I read of Dreamwork’s latest infectiously exuberant animation is that it “relies too heavily on toilet humour.” What? In a genre that doesn’t know how to resist a fart joke? In a movie with a character called “Professor Poopypants”? Where its “hero” (a dim-witted headmaster hypnotised by two cheeky kids into believing he has superpowers) is dressed only in his undies – and there’s “toilet humour”? OMG! Who knew? In Girls Trip – an adult comedy that has been getting stellar reviews (four stars from the SMH), and is universally praised for “empowering the sisterhood” or some such nonsense, its big comic set piece is a woman urinating like a garden hose all over a crowd. That was so hilarious they did it twice. An earlier critical and box-office success, the girl-power comedy Bridesmaids wowed its appreciative audience with a scene involving female defecation. I have no idea who finds that “empowering”. And there’s nothing so crude in Captain Underpants, which is both very funny and is honest – Dreamworks knows its audience has the mental age of a 6-year-old. G (“Very mild crude humour” is the only warning) from Sept 21. ★★★ 1/2

Reviews – Russell Edwards