Thursday, July 16, 2015

7 Days in Hell

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  Tennis anyone?  No, not for me...unless it's a comedy about tennis.

7 Days in Hell – 4 out of 5

You’d never get me to play a game of tennis (unless Wii Tennis counts or the times I played tennis on GTA V in order to get 100% Completion) and you sure as hell can’t get me to watch a game of it. I’m sure it is a very physically challenging sport and no hate to the people that love it but I’m not a sports guy and I find all sports to be equally boring. That being said, if you take tennis and put it in a blender called the mockumentary genre and then add in Jon Snow, a host of talented comedians, a dash of absurd comedy, and have it all narrated by Jon Hamm than I am so fucking in! I call that a Goal!!!! (Wait, are there goals in tennis? What is the scoring system in that game? Is it to the death or something?)

                                                                                                                             HBO Films
Or maybe they play for the hand of a princess or something?
I really don't understand sports.

7 Days in Hell is a faux-documentary (commonly referred to as a "mockumentary") about an epic tennis duel between Charles Poole (Kit "You Know Nothing, Jon Snow" Harington) and Aaron Williams (Andy Samberg). Williams was the "bad boy" of the tennis game who eventually left the sport to be disgraced in the public eye and, meanwhile, Poole is the na├»ve up-and-comer. After an offhand comment is made, the gauntlet is thrown down and the two enter into a competition that ends up lasting for—you guessed it—7 days!

                                                                                                                             HBO Films
Shooter McGavin's tennis playing sibling?

The mockumentary is a really hard art that, if done right, looks as easy as pie—not homemade pie because that shit can get time consuming. I’m not even talking about the pie that is in the freezer section because even that can get hard because you have to defrost it. I’m talking about a pie that you buy from a baker…and you don’t have to buy it because even that is a form of work. This is a free pie that the owner and head baker of the bakery comes to your house, cuts the pie, puts the piece on the plate and even feeds it to you. Heck, he even hand operates your jaw to replicate chewing and then massages the food down your throat so you don’t have to do anything. Fuck, I got really off track here and I really want some pie right now.

                                                                                                                               HBO Films
I really like Will Forte and I can't wait for season 2 of The Last Man on Earth.

To get back on the rails, mockumentaries are really easy to screw up and a bad one can look messy and unfocused. However, thanks to mockumentary-like elements becoming so popular in media today (think The Office, Parks and Recreation, and Modern Family), this art is being crafted well and 7 Days in Hell really made this craft work for it. Occasionally, the film goes off-the-rails and enters a tangent not too different from my one about pies that feels like it doesn’t belong in the overall story arc (for example, there’s an amusing section that goes in-depth on a faux-courtroom artist history that involves artists experimenting in their art) but considering this film is rooted in silly and absurdist humor it just seems to work well and never truly takes away from the overall product.

                                                                                                                              HBO Films
I may not know about sports but I do know who this guy is...he's a dude who has
been in some Adam Sandler films.

The film also does a fantastic job with its characters. Williams and Poole are very eccentric and over-the-top and the product doesn’t try to outdo them by adding a whole host of more outrageous people to be the experts and the ones interviewed about the match. Sure, there are some goofy ones with Fred Armisen’s character and Will Forte’s performance but many of them are played straight and serious and it equates to being that much more entertaining and amusing. Especially when you have guys like David Copperfield, Serena Williams, and John McEnroe providing insight about this fictitious battle. Additionally, all the players in this film are fantastic and doing a great job with their characters.

                                                                                                                             HBO Films
David Copperfield is one gawd damn amazing magician!

The comedy in 7 Days in Hell can be quite raunchy at times—like when Williams has sex with some people on court and the reality there are a lot of computer generated penises in the movie—and it can be pretty out there and absurd—like the section that talks about the courtroom sketch artist who was inspired by Disney animation. The movie mixes your typical gross-out type humor with a lot of off-the-wall material and the end result might not work for all audiences. My tastes in what constitutes funny is amazingly varied so this film was extremely hilarious for me. The comedy also is pretty relentless and there are very few moments that are absent any kind of joke. Considering the mockumentary is only about 45 minutes long, that’s a lot of gags and laughs to cram into every second.  The jokes per minute ratio is high in this film.

                                                                                                                             HBO Films
This is probably the moment I laughed the hardest.

The only real complaint I had about the film is the story seemed to focus a lot more on the story of Aaron Williams’ rise and fall from tennis and not enough on Charles Poole’s journey. There were some great moments with Poole—for example, the way sports reporter Caspian Wint (played by Michael Sheen) had an obvious attraction to the young player—but the film missed a lot of great opportunities to play on his unhealthy relationship with his mother (played by Mary Steenburgen). Poole’s mother is desperate to see him succeed and be the best (even though Poole doesn’t seem to like tennis at all) and there are some great moments that play off of this but it still would have been nice to see more moments or just more moments of Poole in general. The film did really feel Williams-centric. That’s not a huge complaint because I really like Andy Samberg and find him hilarious but it would have been nice to see some more from Harington as well.

                                                                                                                              HBO Films
Ha ha...that's inappropriately hilarious!

With 7 Days in Hell being a mockumentary and with its unique humor the movie might not be for everyone. However, I definitely felt like I belonged with the audience for this feature and had a lot of fun watching it and was laughing my rear off to it. Its presentation felt like an authentic documentary but was off-kilter enough to still be funny and it has a tremendous cast all playing ridiculously hilarious characters.

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