Freaky (2020, dir. Christopher Landon)

An awkward teenager and a serial killer swap bodies. Superior horror-comedy, maximising the potential of its Freaky Friday-meets-high school slasher conceit, along the lines of Landon’s earlier mashup Happy Death Day. Plenty of fun, a few straightforward though relevant points made, and zippy lead performances help no end.

Here’s the trailer.

Free Guy (2021, dir. Shawn Levy)

A man living an idealistic life finds out that he’s a non-playing character in a video game. Generally sprightly action comedy that mashes up The Truman Show and They Live to pleasing if disposable effect. No huge surprises, though there’s a few neat gags and further evidence supplied that Taika Waititi is many things but not an actor.

Here’s the trailer.

The Paper Tigers (2020, dir. Tran Quoc Bao)

Three middle-aged former martial arts students reunite to investigate the killing of their mentor. Straightforward but charming low-budget comedy with action elements: clearly a labour of love, there’s plenty to appreciate here, so the prospect of more from this writer-director is an appealing one.

Here’s the trailer.

Carry On Cabby (1963, dir. Gerald Thomas)

A battle of the sexes ensues when an all-female taxi competitor takes on a complacent all-male company. Dated in premise and some attitudes, this is nevertheless a superior series entry, and about the best of the first – workplace – cycle of Carry Ons. There’s remarkable economy of film-making on display, the joke-per-minute ratio is high, and there’s plenty of fine physical acting.

Here’s the trailer.

Cruella (2021, dir. Craig Gillespie)

An orphan seeks revenge on the fashion maven who killed her mother. Confident, stylish, though thin and overlong prequel to 101 Dalmatians. Basically a supervillain origin story (Cruella is Tim Burton-era Batman, plus Joker and Catwoman here) though borrowing from all-sorts, including The Terminator. MVP is Paul Walter Hauser, though everyone is in on the joke.

Here’s the trailer.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014, dir. Wes Anderson)

An aged hotelier recounts his life story. If Keaton and Kubrick ever teamed up to make a deadpan farce prequel to The Shining, then this’d be it. Beautiful to look it, gorgeously designed and presented, with a cast in depth happy to help out. Lots of fun, basically, with Ralph Fiennes on fine form.

Here’s the trailer.

Vivo (2021, dir. Kirk DiMicco with Brandon Jeffords)

A kinkajou quests from Cuba to Miami with a statement of long-held love. Bland animated musical comedy adventure. The songs are the movie’s weakest point: the movie looks great (Roger Deakins is listed as a consultant) and there’s some OK comic moments, but this is forgettable underwritten stuff.

Here’s the trailer.

Boss Level (2021, dir. Joe Carnahan)

An ex-soldier caught in a time loop fights to save his wife and child. Slightly wobbly Groundhog Day / Source Code variant, heavy on slapstick kills. Tonally all over the shop, which is a shame. Frank Grillo is as good value as ever, though, and there’s a strong supporting cast, plus some decent action choreography late on.

Here’s Lemonsquirtle’s take.

And here’s the trailer.

Soapdish (1991, dir. Michael Hoffman)

Machinations behind the scenes of a daytime soap opera. One key moment aside (a plot twist that doesn’t hold nowadays), this is a sprightly camp farce with everyone in on the joke and strength in depth in the cast and playing. Something of a time capsule, but there’s plenty of fun here to be had nevertheless.

Here’s the trailer.

Jolt (2021, dir. Tanya Wexler)

A woman who controls her extreme anger issues via a high-tech electrical device investigates a murder. Poor sub-Crank action-comedy: a decent cast helps (several in one-set cameos), but (some OK) quips, poor action, over-direction, the world’s most guessable villain, and stagey visuals don’t. Feels like a TV pilot: has that Nu Boyana aesthetic.

Here’s the trailer.