Monday, August 22, 2011


I'm not one to seek out Romantic Comedy movies. While my wife and I make it a point to watch Serendipity at least once every fall/winter, I normally shy away from a "template" movie. One that is the EXACT SAME as a million other movies out there but has a different cast and title. Lucky for me, this was more like an UnRomantic Dramady.

This movie is about a womanizing young man, Jamie (Gyllenhaal), who is happily floating through life. He lands a job as a pharmaceutical sales rep and persuades a doctor to let him "shadow" the doctor's daily rounds. While doing this he is introduced to Maggie (Hathaway). Maggie is in stage one of Parkinson's and catches Jamie's eye. After some chasing Jamie finally gets Maggie to agree to go out with him. They, both being attracted to each other and not wanting a serious relationship, agree to become a casual, yet recurring, fling. While lines are drawn, and both know what this "relationship" is supposed to be, it soon evolves into something larger. But when the weight of Jamie's job and Maggie's disease begin to put pressure on their budding romance, they soon have to figure out if this is "fight or flight".

I'm a sucker for both of these actors. Gyllenhaal has been a favorite of mine since Donnie Darko and The Day After Tomorrow, and Hathaway since The Princess Diaries. So I was kind of hooked from the beginning. But the movie was actually very good and surprisingly touching in some scenes. Watching the character of Maggie struggle with her illness and trying to cope with the severity of what is to come was very well portrayed by Hathaway. I would recommend this movie to anyone. Watch it!


Is there anything that Bradley Copper can't do....other than act? I mean, really, Cooper is not the best actor. Not by a long shot. That being said, there is a very specific role that Cooper was born to play. The cocky, smarmy, womanizing, likable jerk. This movie proves why this has become his bread and butter in Hollywood.

Limitless is about a likable loser named Eddie (Cooper) that just can't seem to bring it all together. He almost does from time to time, but in the end he always seems to fail. Relationships, jobs, writing his novel...everything. One day an old friend passes him on the street and they start to talk. Eddie tells him that he just cant seem to focus on what he needs to do. The friend offers him assistance. The assistance comes in the form of a little clear pill that opens your mind in a way that you never thought possible. It unlocks minute little insignificant memories that you may have had when you were 6 years old. It make your mind work in a way that allows to act less like a notebook and more like a supercomputer. When Eddie comes into a large amount of this "miracle" and starts making waves, he draws attention to himself. He starts being followed. He and those around him find themselves to be less and less safe. What happens when something gives you everything you ever wanted and then threatens to take it all away (and more)?

The movie is actually pretty good. It's not going to win an Oscar and will not go down at one of the greatest acting performances ever, but it is a pretty fun movie and offers a nice escape from the "everyday". Check it out!

(DVD REVIEW) Insidious

So. Why is it that I am so adverse to watching something after everyone I know says "go see it"? Is it because I am a rebel? Because I feel that I know what my tastes are in movies and I would watch it if I wanted to? More likely it is that I hate to feel like a follower and hate to be the last person to do something that EVERYONE else has. For a lot of those reasons, I put off watching some things (Hell, I STILL have not watch The NoteBook). But I decided to get over my issues for this one because it just looked too creepy to go without watching it.

The movie follows a family after a recent move to a new house. Not long after the couple and their two sons begin to settle in to the new house one of the boys, Dalton, mysteriously slips into a coma. After home care is established and, and the mom is settled into her new role as nurse, they start to experience numerous unexplained things. Very soon these annoyances begin to present themselves in the form of ghosts/entities. When the family decides to fight back and use unconventional methods to "find" their comatose son they open the door to a world that they are not prepared to deal with.

This movie was actually pretty scary. It had lots of "oh sh##" moments that had my wife and me squirming around in our seats. It's an interesting concept, a scary premise and a well executed thriller.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

(DVD REVIEW) Take Me Home Tonight

For some reason I always thought that Eric and Donna would be the two that went on to do great things in Hollywood after that 70's Show was over. But Laura Prepon is barely making TV appearances and Topher Grace movies are often left with little to no audience (or being bashed by the audience that sees it - SpiderMan 3). So, while I always like what Topher does in film, I kind of rented this movie on a dare to myself. I wanted to see if it was chalked full of goobie 80's gags and squeaky clean teen imagery.....boy was I wrong (and glad I was).

Matt Franklin (Topher Grace) is a smart kid. Straight A student in high school, graduated from MIT, and now works at a video store. He's a little lost (as most of us are/were in that time). Most of his friends are moving on with their lives and he is stuck in a rut. In this rut with him is Barry Nathan (Dan Fogler), his best friend that skipped college and started selling cars for a luxury car dealership. After a string of events set them on a wild night in town, Matt is presented with finally getting to know his high school crush Tori, to prove to the rest of his ex-class mates that he is not the same kid in high school, and to prove to himself that he has something to offer. The only question is "what" does he have to offer.

This movie is NOT 16 candles. It has a LOT of cussing, a little nudity, drug use, and still has all of those fun 80's references that you really want in a movie like this. Anna Ferris plays twin sister to Topher's character and turns in a top notch performance. Everyone does a great job in this movie. It's a shame it never found a bigger audience.



If it isn't broke, why fix it? That MUST be what Russell Brand says every morning when he gets out of bed. With a personality such as his AND his extensive personal knowledge of the alcohol /drug addict lifestyle, he is normally a "go to" guy for these types of roles. After watching Arthur....I can see why.

Arthur (Brand) is the heir to a fortune of considerable size. He spends money like he drinks booze...a lot of it and very often. However, his mother (the queen of their empire) is tired of his antics and would like to name a successor to her company when she inevitably retires. Of course this is not Arthur that she wants to take over the company, it's Arthur's soon to be wife. A woman that she has chosen for Arthur to marry so she can take his last name and run the muti-billion dollar company. Arthur refuses but when dear ole mum says that he will either marry or she will cut him off ( out of 900+ million dollars) he decides to marry his mothers pick (Susan Johnson played by Jennifer Garner). Fate deals him a tricky hand when he stumbles across a lovely girl name Naomi (Greta Gerwig). When he falls for her he must figure out what is more or love.

I love Brand and love him even more after this movie. Usually he plays some ex-junkie adult...but in this movie he is more of a man-child that looks at the world with a sense of wonderment and amazement....even though he is always drunk while looking at it. This movie plays almost like Billy Madison mixed with a Vodka commercial. My wife and I both loved it.


(DVD REVIEW) Dylan Dog : Dead of Night

Evil Dead, Army of Darkness and Dylan Dog? Three movies that are so awesomely b-rate that it makes them that much more entertaining. The dialog, the delivery, the sometimes painfully bad effects....that is what makes b-rate movies so great. That is one of the main qualities that Dylan Dog has.

Dylan Dog (Routh) is a detective/peace keeper. He, unlike normal detectives, investigates crimes of a supernatural nature. Zombies, Werewolves, Vampire, etc....he is the peace keeper of them all. Well, at least he was until a woman that he loved was caught in the crossfire and killed. He swore off working for supernatural groups of the underworld until a case drags him back in. After he is pulled back in to his old life, he starts to piece together the puzzle that now makes up the New Orleans Underworld. Who is friend, who is foe, and will his undead sidekick ever get a replacement arm that matches his correct skin color. These are the questions that will all be answered in Dylan Dog.

The movie is fun. It's an odd little quirky movie with an honest tone about the absurdity of the material presented. It's a tongue-in-cheek version of Constantine. The money has moments of sheer hilarity (on purpose) and other hilarity (on accident). But it is a fun little ride with someone (Routh) that could take the place of Bruce Campbell as the king of deadpan b-rated movies (if he goes that route).


(MOVIE REVIEW) The only important loss from Final Destination 5 is the loss of brain cells from watching this failed attempt at a horror movie

The first Final Destination movie was awesome. Why? Because it was a new concept. A new idea. It sold the audience on an absolutely terrifying premise that kept people engaged from the first frame to the last. The idea that death is not only an entity (not the Grim Reaper, but actual DEATH), but it is petty and doesn’t like when someone causes it to make a mistake at work. I never imagined that before. I always thought of “death” as a skeletal figure in a black cloak with a scythe that ushered people to the afterlife (or maybe as a tuxedoed Brad Pit in Meet Joe Black), but never as an accountant. Someone that is constantly crunching the numbers and when the numbers do not make sense…they correct it.
As this series limped along it got worse and worse. The second movie was “meh”, but every movie after that has been a retelling of the original with a new group of people and deviating away from the “trill” aspect while now only celebrating the gore. It’s not hard to understand why I consider this the worst franchise EVER. This movie is a perfect example of why I feel that way.
Final Destination 5 follows yet another group of people that are trying to cheat death. When a company sends its employees on a team building retreat one of the passengers gets a glimpse of the horrific events that are soon to happen. When he (I won’t even say the names of the cast or the actors playing them) warns the passengers that something bad is soon to happen a small group get off the bus. As the foreseen events unfold, and those lucky survivors escape, they quickly realize that they might not be as lucky as they though. When members of their group start dying one by one they realize that death has come to collect.
I can’t stress this enough. DO NOT PAY TO SEE THIS. It is so stupid. So uninspired. I have never seen a cast that could overact and underact at the same time, but this group of “actors” (people you will NEVER see star in anything worth watching) manages to do that. The death scenes are so unbelievable. I laughed at this movie during every scene. *SPOILER* In one scene a gymnast falls to her death from a whopping ten feet in the air and somehow manages to break almost every bone in her body. Broken neck? Sure, I can see that. But this looked like an invisible semi-truck hit her while she was in midair. Lastly, you know you have a weak movie when you put 10 minutes of 3D credits at the front of the movie. If you can’t fill an hour and half of screen time, DON’T MAKE THE MOVIE.
Worth the admission? NO. NOPE. NEVER.

Note: The only “ok” thing about this movie is the reveal of where it is placed in the series. I picked up on the timeline by the cellphones used.

Friday, August 12, 2011

(MOVIE REVIEW) If you are looking for a great summer movie, Emma Stone is more than happy to provide The Help

I’m a lucky man. That much is true in my life. Sure, I have had plenty of bad things happen but I always look to the truly wonderful things that I have accomplished. One thing that I was very proud of was that I had the chance to be an extra in The Help. It was an amazing experience. That being said, I am almost completely out of frame and only my elbow can be seen in the one shot that I was in…but even Pacino had to start somewhere. While I was adding my tiny contribution to this project I didn’t think that this movie would really be that great. I have yet to read the book and didn’t think that I would be too impressed with it once it was released (just from my limited access to the production side). How very wrong I was. 

The Help is a film about a young lady, Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (Stone), and her pursuit of a writing career. She is a recent college graduate and is looking to take on the world as a writer in New York…unfortunately she is rejected and is reduced to ghost writing the cleaning column for a Jackson newspaper. When she asks a friend if she can speak with her maid about some cleaning questions, she stumbles on to an idea. What if she could write a book from the perspective of “the help”? When   Skeeter begins to pursue this idea she is at first met with resistance but soon enlists Aibileen (Davis) and Minny (Spencer) to share their stories. As major events in the Civil Rights Movement begin to cause unrest in the already tense race relations, the weight of what they are attempting to do starts to press down on those involved. Under strenuous times and during difficult situations the character of a person is tested…this film explores what happens when people pass and fail that test of character. 

This movie was great. To someone like me, who can often see things for what they are now but not what they were during that time, this movie is very stirring. It shows you examples (granted this is a fictional story and some things are exaggerated for effect) of the way things were during that time in American History without condemning any particular group. I, as a white male, didn’t feel like I was being talked down to in this movie. I only felt that I was given access to a part of history (again, I know this is not a documentary) that I normally would not see being presented in such an open dialog. 

Worth the admission? Very much so. I may even go back and see it again. Every actor involved gave fantastic performances. Viola Davis and Bryce Dallas Howard (Aibileen Clark and Hilly Holbrook) turn in my favorite performances of the movie. 

Note:  It was nice to see friends and co-workers that were part of this film. Marley Sullivan, Emelia Joseph and Bill Crump (co-workers/friends) all had some great screen time. If you or someone you know was in the movie, let me know 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

(DVD REVIEW) Red Riding Hood / Beastly

My wife was sick this past weekend, so I decided to rent a few movies for her so she could sit around and have something to keep her busy. I figured that fairy tales would be a fun little distraction. Too bad I picked the ones that I did because they were not good. Not at all.

Red Riding Hood:
This was the first of the movies that we watched was the one that actually looked to be the most promising. Red Riding Hood is a new take on the old Fairy Tale Little Red Riding Hood (also known as Little Red Cap). The main difference in this movie and the older stories is that the wolf is not just a wolf in this movie. It's a werewolf (what a twist [sarcasm]). Trying to capitalize on the heat from Jacob on Twilight, they try to build a movie around "sexy" people that may/may not be werewolves. Not only that, but the dad of "hood" in this movie is actually the dad/sheriff from Twilight.

The movie stinks. It's boring. It's predictable. If you pay any attention AT ALL to the attack scenes you can easily find the common person that is missing each time. What a waste of time. The only way I would recommend that you watch this is if you have Netflix streaming and don't have to pay extra for it.

While the main source material is the Disney Classic Beauty and the Beast, the film is derived from a book that was written that retells the Beauty and the Beast story in a modern manner in New York City. I have always loved the story of Beauty and the Beast. How anyone can be redeemed and everyone can change. It's a great message.

While this is not a great movie by any means, it is ok. It has a few moments that are funny, a few that are sweet, and a few that are flat out horrible. Neil Patrick Harris is amazing as always. He pulls off that fine line between sarcastic/annoying and funny like only he can. The one thing that I hated more than anything was the ending. It was soooooo cheesy. It offered nothing special. There is an alternate ending that I found talk of online (but didn't see it on the DVD) that I think I would have preferred. I would have preferred a dancing clown more than the ending that I got.

In the end, it was worth the $1 that we paid redbox to watch it...but not a penny more.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

(TV REVIEW) Batlestar Galactica: Season 1

Most know that I consist of 90% geek and 10% "other", so it has been a hard pill to swallow when someone asks me if I have seen Battlestar Galactica I, with my head hung low in shame, replied "no". It wasn't so much that I was against the show, it was just that it always looked a liiiiiiitle....oh, whats the word, stupid. So I didn't think that there was any reason to watch (as first impressions are ALWAYS correct). Anywho, the more I looked into the series and its cast the more that I realized that some of my favorite shows featured people that had once been part of the BSG cast.

Then, a wonderful thing happened. I got hooked on Caprica (the short lived prequel series that aired for 2 seasons on Syfy). Most of the original fans didn't like Caprica that much, nor did they think that it was a worthy precursor to the beloved BSG series, but I liked it. I loved the question that it posed. "What makes us human?" . After its cancellation I found myself occupied with lots of new shows, Fringe, Falling Skies, American Idol (don't judge me),etc. But the summer hiatus finally hit and I needed something to watch. So I FINALLY bought BSG: Season 1.

I humored it at first. Not really thinking much of it. The special effects are not that special, the characters seemed a little one dimensional, and I really didn't think that I would be able to get on board with it. Then I watched another episode, and another, and another, until finally I went to put the last disc in and realized that I was out. Season 1 was over. I had watched over 13 hours of TV (plus the miniseries) in 2 days. THAT is what is so great about this show. It wraps you up. You get invested. It refuses to let you walk away from it.

So, in the end, I had to admit defeat. Much like the residents of Caprica City, the Cylons had defeated me. This show is pretty bad ass and I recommend that you check it out!

(Movie Review) The Smurfs may appeal to kids, but it leaves adults feeling mighty blue

Animated movies are fun. Not the overly computerized junk (I HATE Anime) but the animated movies that can keep everyone engaged and hold the attention of all age groups. One of my favorite animated movies ever was The Little Mermaid. My wife still laughs at me when it is on because I know the words to most of the songs and sing them along with the movie (Les Poissons being my favorite). Movies get even more engaging for all ages when you can mix animation with live action. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) is probably the best example of this. While the antics for Roger are nice for the kids, the acting of Bob Hoskins and the “assets” of Jessica Rabbit kept many adults glued to the screen.  I bring this up because there is a “right” way to do animation and animation/live action hybrids and a “wrong” way. The Smurfs? WRONG!
The Smurfs follows the same overall outline as the popular TV show from the 80’s. Pappa Smurf is the elder Smurf of the Smurf Village. When Gargamel (Hank Azaria) finds the secret city of the Smurfs he attempts to capture them in order to harness the power of their magical Smurf Essence. When a small group, while hiding from Gargamel, runs into a nearby cave they are accidently sucked into a vortex (courtesy of the magical Blue Moon) and transported to New York City. The Smurfs encounter, by way of Clumsy Smurf falling into a box, Patrick and Grace Winslow (Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays respectively). When the Smurfs begin to influence the lives of Patrick and Grace, in both good and bad ways, the Winslow’s are forced to do some soul searching to see what is truly important in their lives. When Gargamel manages to pose a serious threat to the Smurfs, everyone, including their new human friends, must rise to the occasion to try to defeat the evil sorcerer.
I have to admit that kids seem to really enjoy this movie. The theater often irrupted in laughter from those that are not tall enough to ride Thunder Mountain at Disney Land. The older crowd? Very different story. The movie did manage to pick up a bit towards the end, and the always entertaining Neil Patrick Harris is a bright spot in the film, but overall the movie was a massive let down for me and my inner child.
Worth the admission? If you are looking for something to pacify the kids for an hour or so, it’s worth going to the discounted matinee. Other than that, I would say to either rent it when it comes out on DVD or just watch the much superior 80’s TV Series from the comfort of your own home.