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‘Barely Lethal’ is barely funny

Barely Lethal

USA, 2015

Written by John D’Arco

Directed by Kyle Newman

The problems with the new action-comedy Barely Lethal start with its title. There’s something creepy afoot when a movie leads with a metaphorical elbow in the ribs, informing you that its protagonist is just old enough to kill you by using a pun which implies that she’s also just old enough to have sex with you. Every joke in the film has that same elbow-in-the-ribs quality, desperately trying to let you know how funny it is. Most of its claims to hilarity come up short.

Hailee Steinfeld (an Oscar nominee for the Coen Brothers’ True Grit) plays a nameless teenager raised from a young age to be a super-spy by the flinty Hardman (Samuel L. Jackson). But when a mission to apprehend a rogue arms dealer (Jessica Alba) goes wrong, she is able to fake her
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Starblog: Liner Notes: Apocalypse? Nawhh!

  • Starlog
So, what are you doing After the Apocalypse? Have you planned your post-civilization existence yet? Hidden an All-Terrain vehicle away at your fortified vacation cabin? Salted in supplies of beef jerky, evaporated milk, canned beans and Spam? Can opener? Crossbow & bolts? Heavy blankets? Snuggie? Guns & ammo? Geiger counter? Crossword puzzles? A case of toilet paper and Post-It Notes might also be helpful. Supermarkets and big box stores just aren’t going to be open after the world ends. Wal-Mart, maybe. McDonald’s. And Starbucks, of course.

It’s a fair question, this consideration of Life After the Fall. Survivalists are probably best prepared for the eventuality, but we science fiction fans can’t be far behind. Inadvertently, we’ve done the research. We’ve studied up by watching our share of films (Five, the Mad Max trilogy, On The Beach, Panic In The Year Zero, Waterworld, The Day After Tomorrow,
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