Thursday 19 November 2015

Now Add Honey (2015) - Movie Review

Considering I made a very lengthy rant about this subject matter in the past, I’ll try not to be too long winded this time around. Suffice to say, I hate Valley Girls. I have never, and probably will never, understand the mindset that says that annoying, bratty, spoiled rich kids from California are funny and/or worth watching for any length of time. Aside from just doing nothing more than reminding me of the sort of people I watch movies to specifically avoid, they are also the ultimate manifestation of the most baffling form of ‘comedy’ ever: It’s funny because it’s annoying. If any of my readers are able to give me a reasonable answer for why this is still kicking around, I would be eternally thankful because I’m at a complete loss. Till that fateful day, I’m stuck watching films that think being loud and obnoxious is the same as being humourous. Like today’s film, for instance.

The plot: Caroline (Robyn Butler) is the acting matriarch of the Morgan family, doing the best she can to keep the chaos together. However, her sister Beth (Portia de Rossi) is sent off to rehab for painkiller addiction, Caroline is left to take care of Beth’s daughter Honey (Lucy Fry), who is a famous child star that is on the cusp of making her debut into the world of more adult pop music. As Honey’s antics start to wear down the family, Caroline has to put her life into perspective and make everything right before things get much worse.

I still vividly remember when the Hannah Montana movie first came out to cinemas. That is, I still wake up in cold sweats over nightmares about when that happened. From what little I have seen of that movie, this plot sounds pretty familiar: The teen starlet who has to adjust to a more humble existence through reconnecting with her family, as a means of bringing her celebrity into perspective. With that in mind, and considering how a good chunk of the characters are written, this could have been a nice comedic piece. Maybe they could have mined the child actor “Look at me, I’m an adult now” mindset for gags about Hollywood insecurities, or even offer up some commentary on the cultural ripple effect such a mindset causes. After all, as I’ve highlighted on this blog many times before, Australian cinema is particularly good at delivering such analyses.

Well, we get bits and pieces of that here, like how we see that it was Honey’s mother and her attitudes that led to the rebellious actions of her daughter later on in the film as well as why she is so naïve about the things in life not being spoon-fed to her. However, not only are these kinds of statements not in the least bit new, nor delivered in a fresh way, but they also come with the subtlety of a dog dive-bombing into a zeppelin. The only running joke that any of the more Hollywood types, be it the overbearing mother, the vapid Valley Girl, the paparazzo or the agent, offer up is that they are `annoying. Seriously, that’s the entire joke: They’re annoying and they’ll do anything for money. I’d be fine with how over-the-top these characters are, along with everyone else, except this is a terrible way to write people in a comedy. It’s just grating and not particularly fun to sit through, best highlighted by Honey herself who takes the vapid teenage girl angle to its furthest extremes not seen since Ja'mie King. That is literally the last thing in the world a film should be aiming for.

What’s worse is that, if all of this blunt force trauma that writer/star Robyn Butler calls a script was leading up to something, then I might have forgiven it. After all, I went along with how abrasive the characters in Ruben Guthrie were because they all contributed something to the overall premise of the film. Here… I’m kind of drawing a blank. Is Honey supposed to learn a lesson about not being so spoiled, much like Hannah was supposed to in that Disney film? Are the family supposed to learn something from Honey because, despite her outward appearance, she is capable of helping them in her own way? Ultimately, all we get is that we should hate the celebrity lifestyle and the people it creates… and here is where I get ranty so feel free to skip the last paragraph if you’re already sick of me doing this.

Okay, for those of you who are reading this that don’t live in Australia, here’s the skinny: The film scene around here is astoundingly inbred. Whenever anything local gets produced, the critics eat it up and push mind-bendingly obsequious reviews in response, regardless of the film’s actual quality. Maybe it’s because of an innate need to promote what few wide releases we actually have, or maybe it’s editorial oversight that’s pushing weak material; either way, it leaves a lot to be desired. These are the people who still insist that The Water Diviner was a moving anti-war film and not just a vanity project that was made on the cheap. Because of this, the film’s core message essentially boils down to being a call to reject the more vapid and inane Hollywood fare and stick to more home grown Aussie talent. Yeah, here’s the thing though: This is one of the few times I’ve seen the mainstream outlets actually badmouth a local production in recent years. Hell, the screening I went to was at the biggest screen in the entire cinema… and I was the only one there. Yeah, the competition may be insipid and more than a little insulting, but at least they aren’t kicking up a stink about who they’re fighting against. Considering this is coming from some pretty high-profile names in Aussie comedy circles, this is more than a little difficult to swallow.

All in all, this is basically a cinematic venting session where the writer gets to dish out all of the grievances she has with the world of Hollywood celebrity. However, aside from just looking aghast at how annoying and malicious those people are, there isn’t anything of note being said about said grievances. The characters are obnoxiously over-the-top and, despite the actors’ best intentions, aren’t funny, and the writing is blunt and just offers up the enemy without inflicting any real damage. I have kept honest about every film that I’ve looked at, including every Australian release, so I hope you’ll take my words to heart: Avoid this film, unless the sound of "tee-hees" from a Miley Cyrus clone is your idea of entertainment.

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