Neil Fox on film: The Sweeney, Hope Springs, Paranorman

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Hope Springs

Charming and witty, Hope Springs puts life back into lost love with its all star cast, Meryl Streep, Tommy-Lee Jones and their very own love-doctor Steve Carell, writes guest reviewer Alison Devlin.

Separate bedrooms, separate bathrooms, separate lives – Kay (Streep) and Arnold (Jones), after 30 years of marriage, have hit a rut.

After her realisation of living a love life she doesn’t enjoy, Kay signs herself and her unwilling husband Arnold up for an intense week with Dr. Feld (Carroll).

The straight and stunning performance by Carell will please and shock many of his fans after his stint in many brilliant comedies, including The 40-year-old Virgin, Anchorman and The Office USA.

Streep and Jones’ chemistry is beautiful with a real connection between the two. Streep has aged gracefully and still has that twinkle in her eye as she plays the nervous but excitable Kay.

Jones, whose blunt humour and grouchy attitude is softened down with some truly touching moments, excels as Arnold, especially when recounting how he felt when he first met his wife.

With laugh out loud moments, a few cheek-blushing scenes and a heart-felt romance between our lead duo, Hope Springs is serious but sweet – a nice light watch. Young or old, single or married, Hope Springs is relatable and gives you a valuable lesson in life – if you’re not happy, do something about it.

The Sweeney

The thought of bringing the seminal British policer to the screen should spark images of a Starsky & Hutch-like imagining.

Alas, despite the perfect casting of Ray Winstone in the Jack Regan/John Thaw role the fact that the film is helmed by the lamentable Nick Love (The Business, The Football Factory) means that it’s a bludgeoning of memories, and a waste of potential.

Winstone’s Regan is teamed with Ben ‘Plan B’ Drew’s George Carter for a tale of two unorthodox cops getting it from all sides as they try and stop gangs of vicious robbers with ever more vicious means.

It’s got a decent central set piece but the tropes – long suffering boss and sniffy internal affairs officer whose wife Regan is sleeping with – are just too lazy in an era of sophisticated crime drama. A real shame.

Paranorman

The latest from stop-motion, the team behind the wonderful Coraline, is a children’s animation of great fun and great imagination. Hamstrung slightly by clear studio demands on happy endings and pratfall characters, there are still some fabulously dark and thrilling moments.

Norman is your classic movie boy; outcast, lonely, misunderstood. He also sees dead people but this is no slow, Sixth Sense-style mystery this is a rollicking zombie war as Norman has to save his town from an invasion led by a 300-year-old witch.

Something he sets about doing with wit and style in this lovely little film.

Hope it’s still showing at half term – the kids will love it.