At The Movies

Comedies that are a barrel of laughs

Get some laughs this week, beginning with The Wrong Missy (R21, 2020, 90 minutes, Netflix, 4 stars).

This Netflix-distributed flick triggered alarm bells for me because it stars David Spade, a jokester whose brand of snark tends to be more annoying than amusing.

But the actress who plays opposite him in this chalk-and-cheese comedy more than saves the day. Lauren Lapkus, who till now has mostly languished in supporting roles, is generously given space to shine - and she is resplendent.

The set-up is dead simple. Spade is the buttoned-up Tim, an office drone still pining for his ex and, as is typical of Adam Sandler's Happy Madison Productions films, he is held up as an object of ridicule because his former fiancee cuckolded him. In that world, masculine shame is never not funny, a fact often subtly highlighted with bits in which a man grimaces in hilarious agony after taking a shot in the crotch.

A mix-up forces Tim and Missy (Lapkus) to become a couple at a corporate retreat in Hawaii.

Thankfully, the house that made the unwatchable Pixels (2015), Jack And Jill (2011) and The Ridiculous 6 (2015) can occasionally make something good (50 First Dates, 2004, with Drew Barrymore; The House Bunny, 2008, with Anna Faris).

Lapkus joins Faris and Barrymore in the pantheon of Happy Madison women who bring laughs that do not make viewers feel bad afterwards. As the motor-mouthed, disaster-prone Missy, she upends Tim's life simply because she has fallen in love with him and wants him to be happy.

South Korean action-comedy Extreme Job (NC16, 2019, 111 minutes, HBO Go, 3.5 stars) was a box-office smash in its homeland and it is easy to see why. The work leans into slapstick, but refrains from eye-poking, head-slapping excess.

The clever opening scene, which features the team of incompetent cops trying to rappel down a building, is brilliant. It is physical, funny and tells viewers everything they need to know about the narcotics officers who cannot do anything right.

Chief Go (Ryu Seung-ryong) is the father figure to the misfits who are given a last chance to prove themselves. The team is forced to take over a dying fried-chicken restaurant because it is the only location from which to spy on a drug gang. But their simple plan goes awry when the trickle of customers becomes a flood.

This comedy balances its action setpieces - there are shootouts, extended fight scenes and car chases aplenty - with slower character-driven scenes that give viewers something to root for.

Jason Bateman, Rachel McAdams, Kyle Chandler and Jesse Plemons star in suburban comedy Game Night (NC16, 2018, 100 minutes, Netflix, 3.5 stars), about a group of friends who meet weekly to play board games.

Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams (both above) in Game Night. David Spade and Lauren Lapkus (both above) in The Wrong Missy. Ryu Seung-ryong in Extreme Job.
David Spade and Lauren Lapkus (both above) in The Wrong Missy. PHOTO: NETFLIX

Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams (both above) in Game Night. David Spade and Lauren Lapkus (both above) in The Wrong Missy. Ryu Seung-ryong in Extreme Job.
Ryu Seung-ryong in Extreme Job. PHOTO: ENCORE FILMS

Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams (both above) in Game Night. David Spade and Lauren Lapkus (both above) in The Wrong Missy. Ryu Seung-ryong in Extreme Job.
Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams (both above) in Game Night. PHOTO: WARNER BROS

That arrangement is thrown into disarray one evening when Brooks (Chandler), the suave and successful brother of the duller Max (Bateman), invites the gang to his luxurious home, during which a role-playing game involving a kidnapping becomes real. Or does it?

This movie was reviewed by my colleague Yip Wai Yee when it was in cinemas two years ago. She gave it a thumbs-down for its plot, which she thought was needlessly drawn out, but liked its affable cast.

I mostly agree with her, but have to give credit to the fun factor.

Yes, there are points in which the story twists feel arbitrary, but that is offset by the movie's briskness and good-natured sense of adventure.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 21, 2020, with the headline 'Comedies that are a barrel of laughs'. Print Edition | Subscribe