Saturday, April 16, 2022

Step Lively, Jeeves (1937)

After mistakenly trying to swindle each-other, two con artists decide to team up and use a new trick, duping well-off butler Jeeves into believing he's a long-lost descendant of Sir Francis Drake, and must collect on a fortune in America. They create a media storm surrounding the arrival of the new 'Earl of Braddock'. Interested in this news is Babe, a former gang leader turned society lady, who's excited to be entertaining a genuine Earl, and has her goons bring him over, much to the horror of the increasingly nervous con-men...

When it come to bad adaptions, an interesting topic is whether or not they're still good movies in spite of their disrespectful nature. In the case of Step Lively, Jeeves, this is a perfect example. The film itself is actually pretty decent. But when you consider it as a Jeeves movie, it's a total failure, in every conceivable way! Here's how bad it is. 1936's Thank You, Jeeves was an in-name-only adaption that completely failed to capture the tone, spirit, or contents of the books. And yet it is still a more loyal adaption than this!

There are a few things that hold Step Lively from feeling like a true Jeeves story. First up is the 12 minute beginning, which introduces us to the two con-artists, and our favourite gentleman is nowhere to be seen! It takes almost 1/6th of the way through his own movie before he appears! When he finally does Bertie Wooster is nowhere to be found, nor even mentioned. Jeeves is instead in the employ of some random couple.

Next up, the lack of a friendly dope like Bertie means Jeeves' personality is changed completely, to make him into a gullible fool. And last up is the change of setting to America. In fairness the Jeeves stories did sometimes go to the old colony, but when it's such a big element here, at the cost of so much else, it just feels like a typically American move-Poaching a story and changing up the setting to their own backyard.

With all of this you may be wondering, are there any familiar Wodehousian touches? For the most part, no, but there was one part I really liked, and felt would be right at home in a P.G. novel. Patricia has set herself up in the crooks' household posing as a rich girl, and when she and Jeeves meet again, he comments how good it is to see her again...which Babe takes as proof of this fine young girl's high standing.

If there is a benefit to Step Lively, Jeeves being so unfaithful, it does mean it's very easy to switch off and just accept this as its own film. And on those terms it ain't half bad. I can see why it's not more widely loved, and it's not gonna win any awards, but it's fine. Easily on par with the likes of Torchy Blane or Mexican Spitfire.

The characters here are quite decent, with exceptions. One issue is just how many there are. Jeeves, the friendly reporter and her beau, the con artists, and a band of high society crooks. It gets a bit much, especially for a 69 minute long film. It's not often I say this, since 60-70 minutes is such a perfect runtime for these kinds of films, but Step Lively, Jeeves really could've stood to be longer.

Jeeves is an alright lead in places, if you forget who he's supposed to be, but is not the strongest. He's even a bit too passive in the climax (although his honesty does shine through). Taking the action is reporter Patricia, who's a fun dame, and has a nice friendship with Jeeves. She may not trust the two con men, but she can just tell he's on the level. Her boyfriend is your typical 'You should settle down and marry me' guy but isn't too obnoxious about it, and always tries getting his way by helping rather than hindering her.

Onto the villains, the con men are a hoot! Especially the 'Russian prince', who says constant malapropisms. The pair have some great zingers too, like "Stop involving nations and cut some bread!". I like how the Prince never beaks character, almost like he's been doing this act for so long he believes it himself.

The gang of crooks are a fairly amusing bunch. Head honcho Babe is trying to make do in high society, while her hubby is trying to do his best in this ill-fitting world, as are his goons. They're lighthearted baddies, causing problems but never truly evil. The only thing I disliked was the decision to have Babe be the creator of Jeeves' famous pick-me-up! Sacrilege!

The acting in Step Lively, Jeeves is fine all round. One 'upside' to the change in Jeeves' personality is that it means Arthur Treacher gives a more appropriate and subdued performance, rather than the boisterous and bombastic one he gave in the previous film. The character as written here still means he feels unlike Jeeves, but at least his general mannerisms are more befitting.

The rest of the cast are decent enough. Alan Dinehart and George Givot are a hoot as the con artists (with Givot's accent being a particular highlight!), while Patricia Ellis and Robert Kent are serviceable as the heroic couple. The gaggle of guys playing the crooks are pretty good, as is Helen Flint as their ringleader.

Despite their differences in construction, P.G. Wodehouse and Classic Hollywood had many similarities, and these worked best when independent of each-other. Most attempts the Yanks ever made to adapt Plum's stories were groanworthy at best, insulting at worst. Step Lively, Jeeves is proof positive of this, acting as a movie that works well in its own right, but poorly as a representation of Wodehouse's fine craft. It's worth checking out if you're an old Hollywood fan, but not urgently, and it may drive you to a rage if you're a fan of the text. Ultimately, there are easier and better films to find...

Sunday, April 3, 2022

Laverne and Shirley (1976-1983)

American sitcoms can be a trite and cliched territory when they're not outright garbage (yet bizarrely long-lived garbage), but there are always some that are different, or ones that stand out through sheer quality. I'd always heard of Laverne and Shirley growing up, and knew it had a big reputation, but had never actually seen it until 2014, when I caught reruns on tv. I was instantly hooked, and became a fan overnight. To this day it's one of my all-time favourite shows, and I'd like to explain why...
 Laverne DeFazio and Shirley Feeney are two cheeky but well-intentioned girls out in the wide world of Milwaukee, working at the Shotz brewery day in day out, and hanging out at the DeFazio pizza bowl with their friends (or nuisance neighbours). From Laverne's attempts at finding a fun date, to Shirley's attempts at finding true lifelong happiness, these girls are never short of adventure...

Laverne and Shirley is a conventional sitcom, but what makes it stand out, among other reasons I'll get into soon, is the quality of writing, and the characterization. This is an often hilarious comedy which always has fun stories of the gals getting caught up in one mess or another. The show also displays a level of character and continuity consistency that most sitcoms don't have. The writers here clearly weren't lazy, and never forgot details little or big.

This is not only a very funny show, but also one that brings a smile to one's face, which is extremely appreciated! I love when shows can make you feel happy! While it's not a schmaltzy love-in where everyone is perfect all the time, no-one ever acts truly badly, and it's always enjoyable.

The characters in Laverne and Shirley are all great! The titular duo are hilarious! Both actresses perform them and their quirks superbly, with Laverne being an immature goofball with a knack for mischief, and a hankering for the 'rodeo-do-do', while Shirley is a more reserved and serious girl, usually trying to be prim and ladylike, while at times manic. You really do get the impression that these two ladies are friends, and their relationship is the heart of the show.

As for the neighbouring pests Lenny and Squiggy, they seem absolutely grating at first, but you get used to them pretty quickly, and you even see at numerous points why Laverne and Shirley are friends with these two dopes. Scenes like that really help flesh out the character relationships, which is leagues better than shows where characters hang out with slovenly and irritating people all the time for no reason.

The rest of the cast, from Laverne's gruff but loving father Frank, his spouse Edna, and Shirley's on-again-off-again beau Carmine, are great fun, and the later additions, such as Sonny, and Rhonda, are good too, and don't come across as Cousin Oliver's. There are also really good supporting/minor characters such as the caustic Rosie Greenbaum, who's always at odds with Laverne, sparring both figuratively and literally, but is ultimately friends with her and Shirley, and then there's the tough bruiser Terri Buttafuco, who's character develops very well over her occasional appearances.

While predominately goofy, the show isn't afraid to get serious. There are some dramatic episodes, and they're really good! They don't come across as forced, and some are likely to break your heart! Minor dramatic moments are all handled well too, and the show gives good messages overall.

What's especially awesome is that this show even does gimmick episodes well! First, let's discuss the requisite clip show. Now, there's nothing revolutionary about the framing of this episode, but it has good clips, and its framing story is not only funny, but very well-done, focusing on the title duo's friends as viewpoint characters, giving their thoughts on the gals. Then there's one episode where it pulled that old sitcom staple of doing a take on It's a Wonderful Life. It's handled well here not only because of the genuine pathos the episode delivers, but also because the conceit is just a dream that Laverne has after falling asleep to It's a Wonderful Life, as opposed to other shows that just had legitimate angel visitations despite the otherwise realistic setting (I'm looking at you, Dallas! Family Ties, you get a pass by just thiiis much).

What's fantastic about Laverne and Shirley is that it also never jumped the shark! Sure, some episodes are goofier than others here or there, but they're never to the level of Happy Days' bonkers gimmick episodes (although as someone who's watched a good chunk of Happy Days, I can attest to those episodes being nowhere near as frequent as some detractors like to claim). The goofiest the show ever got was when Laverne gets mixed up in a confusion between Squiggy, and a defecting Russian ballet star identical to him. But even then, that episode is never all that far out, and even shows Laverne and Squiggy's friendship off well.

Some say that Laverne and Shirley jumped the Shark not only when it moved to California, but by that act itself, which I find to be very shaky logic. To me, the show is still just as good at that stage as previous seasons, nor is the move a bad thing. Things didn't need to be freshened up, but it's good that the showrunners decided on the change anyway, as it's never good when shows become stagnant. The sea change allowed for some new stories to tell, and new characters to introduce. As for the entire cast moving to California, well it's not as contrived as it sounds. Frank and Edna go first to open up a business there, and after being laid off, Laverne and Shirley and decide to move there too. Then Lenny and Squiggy get the same idea, and since they're slobs, they're easily able to find cheap accommodation. The only place where it starts getting a bit contrived is when Carmine moves too. That's one character too many, and while the character is still great, he doesn't appear a whole lot, making his moving too be a bit unnecessary.

There were some issues with the show's final years though. First was the departure of Betty Garrett, which was explained by breaking Edna and Frank up offscreen, which I thought was a pretty rotten move. But more infamous than that was when Shirley herself, one half of the title, packed up her bags and departed. This was because of Cindy Williams' pregnancy (among other reasons), and so she was written out, and for the majority of season 8 the show became known informally as Laverne without Shirley. Fans just couldn't take the departure of one half of the duo, understandably so, and the show never recovered from this, eventually ending in a pretty random spot, with an unsuccessful and bafflingly late backdoor pilot for Carmine. While I find the quality itself of season 8 to be fairly decent, it did have some pretty fatal setbacks, that ultimately led to the show's oncoming end.

To finish, I highly recommend Laverne and Shirley! It's a brilliantly funny comedy with likeable characters, and thankfully many (but not too many) episodes to enjoy! Go to it, and why not have a milk and pepsi on the way! C'mon, you know you want to try one! I promise they're not awful...

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Loon Lake (2019)

Ansel Faraj, frontman of indie studio Hollinsworth Productions, has had a gradual trajectory over the years. Starting out with some student projects (unavailable to find anywhere, which may be for the best, even if they do sound interesting), and continuing with two of the worst films I have ever seen (and you know that is saying something). Following projects were equally bad, or mediocre, but a few were pretty decent, such as the cheap but pretty hilarious short The Family Wolff. One of his latest films is Loon Lake, which I had high hopes for right out of the gate. Does it live up to them?...

Louis is a heartbroken man after the death of his wife in a tragic car accident. Feeling empty and dissilusioned with life in the city, he moves to the small Minnesotan town of Round Lake, and soon gets to know the townspeople, and the local folklore. Louis hears about a witch who supposedly cursed the town, and kills all those who disrespect her, and comes to realise he may have already done so without noticing. Now with only three days left, if the curse is true, Louis is tormented by visions, and races to find the answers before it's too late...

My faith in Loon Lake wasn't misplaced, as it's a pretty decent horror film! It's simple, and tells a pretty common story, but it does so in an effective way.

Loon Lake is an immediate upswing in quality compared to Faraj's previous output, since this one actually uses real locations! The dialogue is also clear to make out, the editing is sensible, and no filmmaking rules are broken (in fact I admired how well they were handled here!)! All in all a great effort in terms of an evolution.

Loon Lake wastes no time in getting to business. By only 15 minutes in it's already shown the big flashback, introduced its hero, meeting the neighbours, and him accidentally desecrating the witch's grave! From here on we gradually get further backstory, and character development.

The writing is fairly decent. The flashbacks are sparse but nice, especially when their story begins to mirror that of the present. My only issue is that their story is a little unfocused here and there, and it's at times unclear how we're supposed to see the witch. Is she an innocent woman wronged? Or really an evil witch? The order of these scenes is confusing too, and at times contradictory, almost like they're different tellings of a similar tale.

The ending disappointed me most. It's a bit of a downer, it has one huge cheat, and while it's not as depressing as it could've been (Gracie is lucky she disappears before the end!), it's still a dour note to end on, and I'm not sure what's really been accomplished.

The characters are fairly decent, but many of them suffer from gaps in their screentime, so it can be hard at times getting attached. The film has a communal small town feel, and while this diminishes as the plot focuses solely on a couple of people, it was still nice.

The location here is great. Shot on location in the real life Round Lake (where the titular Loon Lake is located), it makes for some great scenery, and it's all used well, as is the local mythology. It makes for a nice curio for those from the area!

The scares here are mixed. Some are pretty good, from the obvious RAHH moments to the subtler ones, but the film does have a few too many cheap jumpscares. Sometimes the music will shriek even when I couldn't tell what was happening. Often a character will see something we can't.

Nathan Wilson's performance is understated, but fairly decent. Past performances of his left me cold, but I thought he did well here. Brittany Benjamin is nice as the love interest, while Kelly Erin Decker gives a fun and ooky performance as the witch. The real star though is David Selby, with his effective dual role as Emery, and Pastor Owen. Not only is his acting different, but his whole mannerisms and appearance! The Pastor is a tall and imposing man, while Emery is scraggly and hunched over, with an unassuming look rather than a steely gaze.

I was a mix of surprised, yet not at all when I learnt he is a Dark Shadows alumni. Ansel Faraj must have what borders on an obsession with these actors, but I am happy for it! It gives them more work, especially for their senior years, and while a bad director can hinder good actors, they could also teach him much of the craft.

The music in Loon Lake is decent. There are spooky tracks, some effective and some to the detriment of the action. There are also a few pleasant tunes, with a rural feel that contrasts well with the visuals.

The direction here is quite good! There's one particular 'Go big or go home' moment, that I was equal parts impressed and annoyed by. It's a dizzying bird's eye view of a cornfield, and it's really good at first!...But then it just keeps going...and going! It's like Faraj was so happy to pull off a shot like this he wanted to get as much as he could out of it. Good on him, but less is more sometimes. Another element I liked is the lighting, from the at times vibrant colours, to the use of shadows. The film's standout moment is the ritual flashback, with its blue, orange, and green.

Loon Lake isn't the best, and has its problems, but I found it to be a pretty good time, and a good coup for indie horror, especially folk horror. This feels like something straight out of the 70s...

Monday, March 7, 2022

O Olmasın, Bu Olsun (1956)

In 1910s Baku, one Rustam is in trouble due to his gambling habit. To pay off his debts, he promises the loan shark Maşadi Ibad his daughter Gulnaz's hand in marriage. She does not take this lying down, and together with her true love Sarvar, they hatch a scheme to foil the plans of these old men, and live happily together...

O Olmasın, Bu Olsun, translating to the much longer "If Not That One, Then This One", is a quintessential example of Azerbaijan's cinema. Still one of their all-time classics 70 years on from its release, it's a jovial musical, all about young lovers and arranged marriage.

The film takes aim at misogynistic and conservative culture, in a very empowering way. I was surprised seeing a Muslim movie of this era openly and honestly criticise unsavoury aspects of old religious culture. But then I remembered this was made when Azerbaijan was part of the USSR, and had to be godless communists. Still, I doubt that had any effect on this film's message, especially when it was based on an older play.

What I really appreciate about this movie's message is how it tells it in such a light way. This can be a serious topic in real life, but Olmasin presents it in a gentle and lighthearted way, showing how it can be challenged. Despite a bad arranged marriage on the horizon, the characters are always happy, and positive things will turn out for the best, which you know they will in a 50s musical.

Olmasin is a very funny movie, from the story, to the characters, their dialogue and actions, etc. I enjoyed the one song where Rustam is trying to butter his daughter up for marriage, and she very sweetly sings positives...until he asks if she wants to get married. The sense of humour is surprisingly cheeky in places. One great example is the number when Gulnaz and her maid confront Maşadi Ibad, which is hilariously blunt, and contains some brutal put-downs!

The plot is simple in the best ways, and moves along nicely. It's brought to life by its great cast of characters. There's the young couple, Sarvar and Gulnaz, who are lovey dovey, yet also not at all naive. Then there's her hypocritical father, who is willing to sell his daughter to pay for his gambling debts, and faces unexpected opposition. The film's highlight is its antagonist Maşadi Ibad, who's not a good guy by any means, but is also portrayed in such a goofy and almost pathetic way he's never truly hateable.

The setting is very interesting. It's already exotic enough, being set in Baku (well, unless you're actually from Baku, that is), but there's more on display here. The film showcases a diverse culture, with Turks, Georgians, Armenians, Russians, and more, all milling about in this melting pot of a city.

This is a great film visually too. The sets, modelwork, and real locations are all fantastic, and 1920s era Azerbaijan is recreated so well you forget this is from the 50s! This is never a cheap film, and can equal anything Hollywood was making at the time, which is a real pleasant surprise!

The songs in Olmasin are really good. Musically they are nice, and always enjoyable to listen to. I particularly liked their role. The segues are great, and they often take the form of conversations. Another thing I noticed was that the music here sounds very classically Indian! If you've seen any old Bollywood movies, or more likely, if you've seen that one episode of The Simpsons ("I hope you enjoy this. It made every Indian critic's top 400 list!"), you'll find this familiar. For that reason I highly recommend this to Indians! It should give them a nice cosy feeling, as well as getting to see how their neighbours lived.

O Olmasin, Bu Olmasin is a lovely film, and if you've gotta make anything your first film from Azerbaijan, make it this one! It's charming, funny, and bound to be a favourite...

Park (1984)

Marat is a regular guy living a humdrum life, when one day he meets strange girl Vika. After helping her out of an unwanted arranged marriage, he lets her stay at his apartment, where she quickly becomes smitten with him, despite his efforts to shoo her out before the neighbours think poorly. Things soon take a turn for the dramatic with the arrival of Marat's childhood friend, and Vika may not be as nice as she seemed...

Park (translated extensively from Azeri, it means...Park) is a movie I went into expecting something very different to what I got. For some reason (probably the plot description and title) I imagined the movie as a lighthearted comedy romp, where a bunch of young friends in a park have comedic misadventures, and a love triangle, and everything is resolved nicely by the end. That couldn't be further from the truth. Park is actually a pretty downbeat drama, about a toxic relationship, and how crappy life can be.

Marat is a good lead. There's nothing unique about him, he's just your typical homegrown worker, doing the best he can. Vika starts off as an odd and somewhat quirky girl, and falls in love far to quickly, but her true colours soon show with her increased instability and mean streak.

Despite her temperamental nature and irrational outbursts of jealousy, Marat does soon fall for Vika too. This turns out to be a mistake. For all her bluster about committing suicide if he so much as looks at another woman, Vika doesn't think twice about ditching him for the first guy with a big house she sees, without so much as a goodbye.

Vika returns in the conclusion to speak with Marat, and acts all very sweet, while trying to lay down a guilt-trip on the guy, like trying to gaslight him. Luckily Marat sticks to his guns, and gets in some simple but effective comebacks. Probably the only honest thing Vika says during the scene is that she's not happy with her life, and we really get a sense of 'Well you made your bed, so you've gotta lie in it now'.

Park is kinda subversive, in that the big love interest doesn't end up being the one, and actually ends up being a villain in a way. And the estranged friend really is estranged for a reason, and Marat has every reason to be pissed off at the sucker. It's a slow progression, but you do come to realise that the guy was never really his friend. And when he saw an opening to steal Marat's chance, he jumped at it the first chance he got.

Something thing that confused me about the movie was its timeframe. How much time is supposed to have passed between then and now? We get a couple of possible indicators, which make sense in some ways, but then not others. Has Marat been moping for 10 years? I can't imagine it. I also wasn't sure if the romantic meeting at the end was a first reunion or if it's something that's been going on for a while now.

While Park may have its more downbeat moments, and is never really a happy film, the conclusion is a positive one, showing happiness in the present, and hope for the future. I'm sure those who prefer depressing Soviet endings with no hope will be able to spin things to say the film simply ends on the unattainable delusion of happiness in a world of sorrow, but for those who enjoy life, I think the ending's message is clear enough, without being overdone or saccharine.

While many foreign movies showcase their country well (or just the opposite), Park is a much more street-level centred movie. You won't get a grand picture of the entire country, but a smaller more personal feel. As for my impression based on this movie, it feels like Turkey and the Balkans mixed together. It has a communist bloc feel (yet not totally Russian, hence the previous comparison), with a Turk population/culture/language.

There's an understated score here The score here is understated, with a melancholic nature. There are also a few nifty rock'n'roll tracks, showing that the Azeris have good taste in music!

Park is a pretty interesting film. Nothing great, and you could easily manage without watching if it doesn't appeal to you, but it is a good showcase of Azerbaijan's cinema, albeit the more maudlin side...

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

We Are Not Angels 3: Rock 'n' Roll Strikes Back (2006)

Following his previous successes, Serbian director Srđan Dragojević found a calling to America. He then spent the next few years declining offers or being declined. By the time he finally returned to Serbia, having had any grand ideas about the U.S. film industry crushed, he decided to make a new passion project. The only problem was, as is always the case with such things, he needed money. And so he decided to make two cheap sequels to his most popular movie, and hope things panned out for the best (they did not)...

In the 70s, unpopular rock and roll musician Borko (aka Dorijan) decides to sell his soul to become a star. It works, but he is forced to sing only turbofolk, and his life that follows is full of drugs, sex, and general debauchery as he grows older and fatter. In the present, young Marko is an aspiring rock star. After a stage accident results in the two switching bodies, they must navigate each-other's lives, gradually learning both the negatives and positives that eluded them in their old lives...

We Are Not Angels 3: Rock 'n' Roll Strikes Back is an unnecessary sequel, and considered by many Serbs to be one of the country's worst films. Part of this is down to its general low quality, but also because it was seen as a further degradation of a cultural icon. I went into it with trepidation, fully expecting it to be bad, but ready to give it a fair chance. What did I think? Split down the middle. It's not that good, but it's not awful...for the most part.

It got on my good side with the hilariously silly idea that you can play your guitar backwards. I also got a kick out of a Communist making a deal with the Devil, under the logic that Heaven and Hell don't exist, therefore he won't go to Hell when he dies.

The film starts off with this plot, but then it feels like it loses interest and begins an all new one. The movie does eventually get back to Dorijan, and connect the two stories. This results in a body swap, and I was thinking "Oh no, not this again!", since I could see exactly what was coming, and Sara was far too sweet a girl to get propositioned by Dorijan. Thankfully the film doesn't get too awkward, even if it is pretty cliched here.

l enjoyed the film's last act a lot. All the vulgarity and awkwardness is over, and things get pretty sweet, now that everyone's stopped acting like pieces of shit. Some characters you may have written off as vapid or assholes get nice moments.

I think making the series a loose anthology with only the Angel and Devil recurring would have been a good idea. But having the first sequel still be about Nikola does put the kibosh on that, and make it all the weirder when we are suddenly on our own. It's the same issue the Halloween series faced when it tried going standalone.

The comedy here is very mixed, bordering on bad. As is the norm for Serbia in the 2000s, We Are Not Angels 3 is a vulgar film. There are some hits, and more than a few misses, with some of the worst scenes later on. They might get a laugh from some, although it did verge on the gross for me. To name a positive, there's a funny exchange in front of the school, when Marko tries professing his love for Sara...while in the body of a 50 year old, resulting in her launching into a series of put-downs.

While the first two Angels films were directed by Srđan Dragojević, he only serves as writer and producer here, with Petar Pašić taking the reins. He does a decent job for what this is. Visually this is a pretty ugly film. Admittedly this is deliberate, but doesn't really help matters. The whole film has a yellow tinge to it. There are some good shots though.

Comparing We Are Not Angels 2 to its predecessor was already night and day, as the first was shot on cameras from the 80s, giving it a classical feel, while the sequel looked straight out of the 2000s. This third entry is even more of a downgrade, shot on video and looking plain cheap. Now, this isn't a bad thing in it of itself. You get used to it fairly quickly, and overall I think the movie manages to show it's how you direct a film that matters most. It may look cheap and obviously computer generated in places, but it does its best with what it's got. It's only when compared to the previous entries that it suffers.

Music has always been an important element in this series, and giving it the main focus is a good idea. The important thing is for the music to be good. And is it? Ehhhh, it's halfway decent. It's not awful, but it's also no great shakes either, not like the rockin' tunes of Vampiri. The best is an amusing 'sad' ballad, followed by the family performance near the end. There's also a possible reference to Who's Laughing Over There. The film gives a less than flattering few of the music industry, in a facetious light, while also trying to say something about Serbia's culture [or lack thereof].

The acting here is decent. Nikola Pejaković is a reasonably fun lead. He does a great job at being disgusting to look at. In real life he looks totally normal, but here no expense is spared to make him look as unappealing as possible. So a victory or the opposite, depending on your point of view. Zlatko Rakonjac plays the more conventional lead, and does well.

The film handles the bodyswap by showing the characters by their minds rather than the bodies they're inhabiting (does that make sense?). This does alleviate some confusion, while also creating more.

Srđan Todorović and Uroš Đurić return as the Angel and Devil. They are fun, but more understated than in past entries (whether good or bad will depend). Besides them, another returning actor is Zoran Cvijanović, as a new character. He does a good job! It's a pretty small role, but where he impresses is in how different he is to older performances, and how much he captures the look of actors like Miki Manojlović at their scruffiest.

The remainder of the supporting cast are good, from the adorable and spunky Nada Macanković, to the plasicky but bubbly Seka Aleksić, and series veteran Vesna Trivalić. Other performances are pretty bad, and borderline weird (like the 40 year old high school bullies).

My opinion towards A3: Rock 'n' Roll Strikes Back is not as negative as some, but I don't have glowing praise for it either. My overall opinion is that it feels more like a bad episode of The Inbetweeners than a good episode of The Mighty Boosh, if that makes any sense at all. The moral here is, if you must make cash-in sequels, at least try to make them good!...