- Entertainment and Media
The Trophy Wife's Two Cents
Hitting the Theater Between Shopping Trips & Pedicures
In a previous life, I was a radio personality who reviewed movies, but having an actual job was getting in the way of all my leisure time-- A girl has to have time to shop, right?
As a creative solution, I've designed this page to give you the rundown on the Triumphs and the Trainwrecks of the current movie industry---I'm doing my part to let you know the best movies to spend YOUR discretionary income on!
Besides, who doesn't want to know what goes on in a Trophy Wife's mind?
..and your opinion matters, WHY?
If you've ever wondered, like I have, what qualifies someone to be a "movie critic", let me just share a secret with you.......NOTHING. Movie critics are people who have opinions and like to share them. They go to movies on a constant basis. They enjoy watching previews. That's pretty much it. So if you are under the impression that a critic's view of a movie is omnipotent and flawless, you obviously haven't had the experience of hearing one tell you how bad a movie is, and then going to it for yourself and thinking "wow....they were WAY off"---or vice versa. So then the question becomes "What makes the Trophy Wife's review of a movie any better or worse than all the other critics?"
Well, there's this: As a rule, movie reviewers tend to "check" their sense of values, morals or beliefs at the door...meaning they only give you their take on the movie based on the surface appeal of it. For me, movies are not just about entertainment, but the underlying message of it as well.
I'm a stay at home mom of three kids, and although I don't always go to movies that are 'kid friendly', the movies I review will always be PG-13 or less. If you are looking for reviews of movies like "The Hangover" or "Final Destination", you'll have to look elsewhere. Obviously there is a market for those movies, but my focus is primarily on movies whose sole purpose is NOT gratuitous sex or violence. If I find something in a movie offensive, I let you know. Like myself, I know there are others who are more sensitive to the content of the movies they see. Alot of reviewers won't give you the heads up if the f-bomb is dropped, but I will. My goal is to make sure that you go into your movie experience knowing ahead of time what to expect, and to be able to decide if you even want to go in the first place.
Dont forget bathroom breaks!
If I pay money for entertainment, I dont want to miss out on anything I can rave about and/or make fun of later because I was having a critical moment. If you dont like missing out on the key points of a movie check out www.runpee.com. You can plug in which movie you are going to see, and it will tell you exactly what time(s) in the movie you can make that trip without missing anything of great importance. It will even tell you how long you have to get back to your seat before the next big thing happens. Its a great site for people like me who cant watch a movie without a giant diet soda in my hand.
2/25/2014 Winter's Tale
Have you ever overheard someone talking about their plans for a vacation somewhere wonderful---a tropical island perhaps--and then they spoil it by saying that instead of getting a tan and playing in the ocean, they will be spending their time sitting in their hotel room and watching t.v.?
Well, of course not. Who DOES that? Apparently people who write, produce and direct movies like 'Winter's Tale'.......they take a beautiful and breathtaking idea, add things that make no sense whatsoever, and leaving you wondering how they could have POSSIBLY missed the beach in front of them.
THE GOOD: Set alternately between 1895, 1916, and 2014 in New York City, this is the story of Peter Lake (Collin Ferrell) who is set afloat as a baby in a wooden boat by his Eastern European parents when they are refused entry into the United States. Miraculously he survives his voyage and grows up as an orphan and pickpocket on the streets, somehow developing an Irish accent along the way. (I don't know. Bear with me.) At some point in his youth, he becomes acquainted with a man named Pearly Soames (played by Russell Crowe), who ALSO has an Irish accent, and, for reasons that go unexplained, really makes Pearly mad, causing him to chase Peter all over the city to kill him. Along the journey, Peter meets a magical flying horse, whom he affectionately refers to as 'Horse' throughout the film. The horse leads him to a young woman named Beverly (Jessica Brown Findlay, of 'Downton Abbey' fame) who is dying from consumption and they fall in love, leaving you to hope he and his magical horse will save her. Fast forward 100 years, and Peter is still alive (again, I cant answer your questions, I really have no idea) and he realizes it is now his "purpose" to save a little girl who is dying from cancer (newcomer Ripley Sobo ). You'll notice that I put all of this in the "good" section, and that is simply because I consider it a good thing that I was actually able to somehow sum up this nonsensical plot. Also, Collin Ferrell is a wee bit of Irish eye candy and let's face it, sometimes that can make things seem better than they really are.
THE BAD: Where to begin....? I'm not sure I need to go any further than the magical flying horse, but I will. There's that nagging unanswered question of how a child of Eastern European descent grows up on the streets of New York and develops an Irish accent----were all homeless people in the early 1900's of Irish decent? Because then maybe that would make sense. We also have Russell Crowe playing the craziest overgrown leprechaun you've ever seen. Then there's all this talk of 'points of light' and crystals that Crowe fidgets with. You start out watching the movie thinking "Well, I don't really understand what's going on right now, but that's okay, because it will all come together in the end".
No it doesn't.
Don't allow yourself to believe you will understand it all when the movie is done, because the only thing you will be grasping is that you just spent money to watch this and that you could have bought a really large box of donuts instead.
THE UGLY: I withhold this space for the things in movies that I find really offensive or disturbing. Ladies and Gentlemen, may I introduce to you:
a cameo by Will Smith, playing to role of Lucifer. No, seriously.
When I saw the preview for 'Winter's Tale', I anxiously looked forward to being swept away in a riptide of chick-flick hormones that would leave me in a puddle of weepy glees as most epic romantic tales usually do. I will admit to shedding a few tears in a rare emotional moment, but mostly I just felt sad that this movie didn't live up the potential it so clearly had. But it's not all bad news---Collin Ferrell DOES have some very charming lines in the film, and I'll be perfectly honest. I like looking at him even more than I like donuts.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 2 1/2 trophies.
'Winter's Tale' has a running time of 118 minutes and is rated PG-13 for mild profanity, some violence and one scene of partial nudity and sexual activity.
5/28/2013 Mud - Recent Reviews
To anyone who knows me personally, it's no big secret that I am a fan of all things Matthew McConaughey. Even if a large mob of people stood outside a movie theater holding a banner that read "Matthew McConaughey's new movie is just AWFUL" I'd still go see it-it's called 'devotion.' But when I started hearing buzz that this is one of his finest performances ever, I knew I couldn't miss it.
THE GOOD: Set on the banks of the Mississippi River in an Arkansas town that looks like the kind of place where your uncle might also be your grandfather, 'Mud' is the story of 2 young boys-Ellis (Tye Sheridan) and Neckbone (yes, you read that correctly-played by Jacob Lofland), who spend their days selling fish and exploring islands. It's during one of these Huckleberry Finn adventures that the boys discover Mud-a mysterious drifter who's guarding a secret, and who enlists Ellis and Neckbone for their help. And as Ellis's world becomes uncertain due to his parents impending divorce, as well as the turbulence of young love, he begins to feel an attachment to Mud that could put him in harm's way.
When critics say that this is Matthew McConaughey at his finest, you can believe it. As biased as I may be, his performance in this film rivals that of his role in 'A Time to Kill'. In addition, there are great moments from Reese Witherspoon (playing Mud's love interest, 'Juniper') and Sam Shepard (Mud's surrogate father who may or may not have been a paid assassin in a previous lifetime). But the truly memorable performance comes from the young Tye Sheridan (Ellis) who seems able to tap into the awkwardness and idealism of the teenage years. Expect to see his star rise.
THE BAD: I have to admit that I've never set foot anywhere down South, and I can't say that the lifestyle portrayed in this film---living on a rundown houseboat on the banks of the Mississippi-was something that endeared itself to me. As you might have guessed, I'm not exactly the "roughing it" type of gal. I spent a good portion of the movie cringing at the living conditions. But the truly disheartening moments centered around the breakup of Ellis's parents and his realization that people don't always live up to what we expect from them. Of course, I sometimes use this section to point out what could have improved in the film-but aside from the fact that Reese Witherspoon's portrayal of 'Juniper' felt at times a little one dimensional, this movie doesn't disappoint.
THE UGLY: To be clear, there are some homely characters in this story, and by 'homely' I mean: "Sweet St. Peter, where did they FIND these people?!" The real surprise however, is that, despite the fact that McConaughey plays a grimy, homeless, chipped tooth, inbred, hillbilly felon, he still somehow manages to be surprisingly attractive. And in case any of you ladies are curious-yeah, he takes his shirt off.
The Summer of 2013 promises to entertain audiences with some great movies, and I intend to help steer you towards the ones that are truly worth your time. Make sure 'Mud' is on your 'must-see' list as a starter.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 4 trophies.
'Mud' has a running time of 2 hours and 10 minutes and is rated PG-13 for some violence, sexual references, language, thematic elements and smoking.
2/1/2013 Warm Bodies - Recent Reviews
Let me start off this review by being very clear: I'm not a "Zombie Apocalypse" proponent, nor do I particularly understand the whole allure of the 'Zombie genre' movies. The idea of watching a bunch of unattractive mindless beings mill around sounds entirely too much like a visit to the DMV. But I have to admit, when I saw the previews for 'Warm Bodies', I felt hopeful that this might be a movie that could change my perception of the undead.
THE GOOD: Adapted to the screen from Isaac Marion's book of the same title, 'Warm Bodies' is an extremely loosely translated version of' Romeo & Juliet', with---my apologies to Mr. Shakespeare--- WAY more clever and amusing dialogue. Our walking dead Romeo -'R" for short (played by Nicholas Hoult) isn't much for speaking, but we hear his internal dialogue as the movie begins, and it becomes clear that he may LOOK like a walking corpse, but there's a lot more going on upstairs than it appears. He spends his days and nights wandering aimlessly as zombies do, with others who share his fate, and occasionally bumping into his 'best friend' whom he affectionately refers to as 'M' (Rob Corddry). And when I say 'bumping into', that's not really a figure of speech.
Of course, you can't have zombies without the inevitable need to feed on human flesh and brains, so it's during one of these feeding frenzies that 'R' first spots Julie (Teresa Palmer) and realizes that he doesn't want to snack on her brains as much as he wants to rescue her. To woo her. To take her back to his place and play a little 'Guns N Roses' for her. If you're worried that this will be yet another nauseating portrayal of "handsome monster stares broodingly at helpless female", rest easy. R's longing for Julie is so awkward and hilarious that I never once rolled my eyes or felt like gagging. And it goes without saying that the two lovebirds have to have opposition to their weird romance, so that comes in the form of Julie's father, General Grigio (John Malkovich), who is leading the still living survivors and takes pleasure in finishing off those who aren't as fortunate.
THE BAD: This part of the review becomes a little subjective; for those who are die hard about their zombies being hideous creatures whose only desire is to dine on humans, the whole idea of a corpse having FEELINGS and actually being somewhat attractive may send you right over the edge. If you are one of these people, you'll probably want to steer clear of this one, as well as any other movie that dares to deviate from the accepted zombie protocol. If, however, you aren't hung up on your fictional monsters playing by the rules, you'll enjoy knowing that there's the possibility of finding love even after the end of the world arrives and you are considered a viable food source.
THE UGLY: I'll admit that, with the exception of R, most the zombies in this film are decidedly NOT dating material, but then, we have an even bigger contender for the "yikes" award---and that would be 'The Bonies"---zombies who have lost every bit of their humanity, and are now just creepy skeletal figures who move at a lightening pace, compared to the slow roll of their regular counterparts. Maybe it's because they aren't weighted down with all that burdensome flesh and decaying muscle tissue. But the clear winner for the ugly category is watching a zombie pop brain matter in his mouth like it's cotton candy. I feel pretty certain that I spent more than just a few minutes being distracted by the thought of just how horrible a zombie's breath must smell.
It's important to remember that this isn't a horror film with a little humor thrown in, but it's actually a really quirky love story that just happens to be set in a horrific setting. If you take it too seriously, you might walk away disappointed. But if you're open to a romantic farce, this one is witty, clever, and has a little fun at its own expense.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 3 Â½ trophies.
Warm Bodies has a running time of 97 minutes and is rated PG13 for some violence, gore, and profanity. (F word used once)
11/10/2012 The Twilight Saga-Breaking Dawn Part 2 - Recent Reviews
Twilight lovers, rejoice. That bittersweet moment has finally arrived: the 5th and last installment of 'The Twilight Saga-Breaking Dawn Part 2' has hit theaters, and I'm happy to report that it's over the top, cheesy as ever, and actually holds some surprises.
THE GOOD: Bella (Kristin Stewart) is no longer torn between choosing the undead or the furry for her soulmate - she's blissfully married to her vampire sweetheart Edward (Robert Pattinson) and they are now the proud parents of a slightly freakish baby girl named Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy). The birth has led to Bella's transformation into a vampire -and may I just say here that "vampire Bella" is by FAR more tolerable than "mopey, klutzy, lovesick Bella". By the end of New Moon, I was BEGGING for someone to put that girl out of her misery, and it finally happened. What we have now is a Bella who is fearless and slightly vicious, which is helpful when you're about to enter a stand-off with the Volturi - the ruling vampire clan who has heard of the birth of Renesmee, and , under the false assumption that she is an 'immortal', has come to destroy her.
The Cullen family has enlisted vampire friends from all over the world to help them in their battle with the Volturi, and as expected, the werewolves are there to fight along-side them as well. Now that Jacob has officially lost his bid for Bella, he has a new reason to fight - that being the fact that he has 'imprinted' on Renesmee; meaning, in werewolfland , that he is now her protector and lover for life. It's a little creepy, but at least the film treats it from a somewhat humorous and tender level. And if any of you were worried that Jacob's "shirtless" moments were over, take a deep breath, because THIS time he strips all the way down to his skivvies. Prepare yourselves.
THE BAD: As much as I am a fan of this entire franchise, I will be the first to admit that the acting and special effects sometimes - well, okay, a lot of times - border on campy and ridiculous. Maybe it's just not possible to make people look cool when they are running at the speed of light through the forest, but it always gives the impression that they are on a giant conveyor belt that has malfunctioned horribly. Also, the acting by Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) in this one is so bad, I actually laughed out loud in a scene that was - I think - meant to be somber. On the upside, I've been waiting for someone to smack him upside the head since the very first movie, and it finally happens in this one. So there's that.
THE UGLY: The violence in this thing definitely gets elevated to a new level with countless dismemberments - cheesy as they may be. But if you are someone who has read the books, the thing that might turn your world upside down is the bold plot twist which I frankly did not see coming. I am not exaggerating when I say that almost every single person in the theater I was in, sat forward in their seats and yelled some variation of "WHAT??" or "You have GOT to be kidding me!!!" One woman literally got up out of her seat, said "This is BS!" and walked out of the theater -I kid you not.
Although I am not as caught up in the whole Twilight craze as I was in the beginning, I still embrace the story of a young awkward girl who can't believe her luck that someone as perfect as Edward Cullen could love her. No matter how goofy all the embellishments are, the basic storyline is still pretty cool. Also, don't miss the credits after the final scene. I can't believe I'm going to admit this, but it actually made me a little weepy.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 4 trophies.
Breaking Dawn-Part 2 has a running time of 115 minutes and is rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, sensuality and partial nudity. No F words.
10/13/2012 Here Comes the Boom - Recent Reviews
Would it be showing my age if I told you that seeing a movie where Henry Winkler plays a senior citizen music teacher took me a little bit by surprise, since my greatest memories of him are in a black leather jacket, uttering the word "Ayyyyy" ? Turns out, Mr. Winkler is just as fun and charming now as he was during my childhood.
THE GOOD: Scott Voss (played by the funny and talented Kevin James) is a former wrestler turned apathetic teacher at a high school that is undergoing budget cuts. When he learns that the job of his music teacher friend (Winkler) will be the first to go, he comes up with a plan to raise the needed money by moonlighting as a mixed martial arts fighter -well, why not? Along the way, the uninspired teacher begins to inspire others, including Bella, the school nurse (Salma Heyek), the lady Scott has repeatedly try to woo with very little effect.
I had my fears that the movie would be more corny than compelling, but I was surprised at the level of wit and charm it had. Kevin James is one of my favorite comedic actors, but he also has heart, and it really shows in this film. Also not to be missed is Niko (played by Bass Rutten) an immigrant who helps Scott train for the fights, and as previously mentioned, Henry Winkler (Marty Streb) is sweet, somewhat scatterbrained, and delightful.
THE BAD: The one flaw in this movie for me was a lack of development in Kevin James' character. The movie starts out showing him as a teacher who could care less about inspiring his students, much less making sacrifices for anyone - yet within 10 minutes time, he is willing to risk serious bodily injury to protect programs and people. It didn't quite ring true to me, but if you can over look the huge leap, the rest of the movie is a lot of fun.
THE UGLY: Last week, I reviewed a movie that included projectile vomiting, and I'll be darned if vomit isn't the topic again this week. In all fairness, the vomiting scene in this one is much tamer, but still------ewww. If that doesn't bother you, there is always the "butt crack" view of the fat sweaty bald guy doing yoga to push you right over the edge. I suggest looking away from the screen when you start seeing people do downward dog.
'Here Comes the Boom' is a pretty rare accomplishment for today's entertainment selections. You can feel comfortable taking your whole family to it, and it's genuinely funny and heartwarming. I know you're expecting me to end this with "It's a knockout" or "It comes out swinging" but I'll resist the urge to be clever and just call it like it is. This is a great movie with heart and inspiration, and you'll walk out of the theater feeling better than when you went in.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 4 trophies.
'Here Comes the Boom' has a running time of 1 hr and 45 min and is rated PG for some violence and minimal profanity.
10/8/2012 Pitch Perfect - Recent Reviews
In the world of movies that are based on books, here's one you wouldn't expect to find on that list: a story about competitive collegiate a cappella groups. Thinking that concept doesn't translate into entertainment? You couldn't be more wrong.
THE GOOD: Take one slightly unsociable college Freshman named Beca (Anna Kendrick), add a father who is bribing her to attend school with the promise of funding her dream of eventually mixing music in California, plus two competing groups of offbeat a cappella singers -the all female "Bella's" and the all male "Treblemakers" - and the scene is set for something resembling a mashup of 'Glee' and 'Bring it On'. It's catchy and ridiculous all at once, which -let's face it - kind of sums up a cappella competitions in general. But there's no denying that when these groups start a performance, no matter how cheesy the song choice or accompanying choreography is, it's impossible to NOT enjoy it. As an added bonus, we have the character 'Fat Amy' (played by Rebel Wilson) who brings her own level of snarky humor to the game.
THE BAD: If you are hoping for deeper meaning to the storyline than "which team wins the competition", there isn't much more to see here. There's no real hidden moral to the story, and you can pretty much see the ending a mile away. There are certainly some hilarious moments, but be forewarned that the humor can sometimes be a little racially insensitive and crass.
THE UGLY: And speaking of crass: I won't spoil the surprise for you, but there is a projectile vomiting scene in the film that, although admittedly funny, is not for anyone with a weak stomach. If the thought of watching someone hurl makes you queasy, this may not be the entertainment you are looking for.
The film is probably geared more toward the younger crowd with any adult in the movie being shown as hopelessly lame, but even if you're NOT in your 20's, this film hits all the right notes with it's harmony and humor.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 3 trophies.
"Pitch Perfect" has a running time of 1 hr 52 min and is rated PG-13 for sexual humor, drug references and crude language. (F word used once)
09/22/2012 Trouble With the Curve - Recent Reviews
It's not a secret that Clint Eastwood has been making a (new) name for himself lately, but whether you enjoy ALL his performances or just the non-political ones, there's no denying that he's his usual talented self in "Trouble With the Curve" - or, as it could also be named: "A Tale of Three Tools".
THE GOOD: Gus Lobel (Eastwood) is a baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves and likes to play things 'old-school' - meaning he depends on his eyes to judge a player's potential, and not some computer program. Gus is really starting to feel his age, and has recently been informed by his eye doctor that the one thing he relies on for his job - his vision - is rapidly deteriorating. Pair this with the fact that an up and coming brown-noser in the office (Tool #1-played by Matthew Lillard) is trying desperately to undermine Gus' reputation, by spouting off to anyone who will listen that Gus needs to be put out to pasture. There's also a strained and awkward relationship between Gus and his daughter Mickey (Amy Adams) who accompanies him, against his wishes, to scout out a new player. Things aren't looking too bright for poor Gus. Not that you'll feel all that bad for him, given the crabby old geezer he is - and no one can play grouchy like Clint Eastwood. His performance is top notch as always, and the interaction between he and Adams is funny, and at times very moving. Even Justin Timberlake (as Johnny Flanagan, a former pitcher turned Red Sox Scout) lends a nice touch to the feel of things with his positive outlook, charm, and well - you know - just appearing on screen.
THE BAD: This space is usually reserved for parts of the movie I felt could have been improved upon, but since I truly didn't see many of those, my thoughts turn to the relationship between Gus and his daughter Mickey -named, of course, after the great Mickey Mantle.
Because I have such a close relationship with my own father, it was difficult to watch the interactions between this broken down bitter man - losing his wife when Mickey was still young, left alone to figure out how to be a father to her and, failing miserably in the end - and a daughter who, despite being basically abandoned as a child, feels the need to help the man who has never given her the love or security she wants and deserves. She even makes great sacrifices to be there for him, including risking a partnership in a law firm while her competitor at work, Todd (Tool #2, played by James Patrick Freetly) tries to swoop in and steal everything she has worked so hard to achieve. It's a complicated relationship that Adams and Eastwood portray, one that tends to put in perspective whatever issues you might have with your own parental figures. Hopefully, for most people, we will walk away feeling somewhat relieved that Gus is not our father. As Mickey says to Gus sarcastically at one point in the movie: "It must be really rewarding being one of your friends".
THE UGLY: For me, it was a toss up this time, between watching Gus eat from a refrigerated can of Spam for breakfast, and the unpleasant presence of rotund baseball hotshot named Bo Gentry (Tool #3, played by Joe Massingill) that Gus has been sent to scout for the Braves….There's nothing socially redeeming about cold potted meat product, but then again, a chubby mouthy narcissist isn't much of a treat either.
"Trouble With the Curve" is at times predictable, but it's an overall deeply satisfying, 'feel good' movie. Say what you will about Eastwood - the man can still bring it on screen.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 4 trophies.
"Trouble With the Curve" has a running time of 111 minutes and is rated PG13 for sexual references, smoking, some thematic elements, and language. (Clint drops the F bomb once)
09/07/2012 The Words - Recent Reviews
You know those Russian nesting dolls? The ones that sit inside of each other and get smaller and smaller? Well, "The Words" is kind of like that, only less enjoyable.
THE GOOD: The idea behind this movie is frankly a very good one: Rory Jansen (played by "Sexiest Man Alive" Bradley Cooper) is a struggling would-be author, whose works of fiction are continually rejected by a long line of publishers. After taking out yet another loan from his father for he and his bride Dora (Zoe Saldana) to survive, Rory stumbles across an old manuscript inside a tattered second hand briefcase, and the moral dilemma begins; what would happen if he retyped this magnificent literary masterpiece and claimed it as his own? Well, fame and fortune, apparently - but also that pesky little thing called 'guilt' which only increases when Rory has the unexpected pleasure of meeting the original author whom he screwed over, and who is now an old man (played by the incredibly talented Jeremy Irons). And if this film had only delved deeper into THAT encounter and spent its strength on a storyline of possible psychological blackmail and threats, it would have been deserving of some praise. But it seems the writers got greedy, and wanted to put a weird spin on things - a story within a story, if you will - and that is precisely when the movie went from promising to pointless.
THE BAD: So here's where they got it wrong - and I say this not only because it bugged ME, but because it apparently bugged a whole lot of other critics out there as well - and that was the added storyline of Clay Hammond (Dennis Quaid) who is a middle aged successful novelist that is narrating the story of Rory Jansen for us, despite our intense desires for him to stop. Just. Stop. It.
Clay is also being semi-stalked by Daniella (the unblinking Olivia Wilde) who admires his work so much that she manages to score a trip back to his apartment and then begs him to elaborate on why he writes what he does. The whole side story is annoying, and the characters made me wish I was sitting closer to the screen - so I could throw something at it.
THE UGLY: Aside from some glaring implausibility in the story (Rory is borrowing money from his dad to live on, yet he and his new bride take a honeymoon to Paris?? He somehow manages to track down the original author of the story again, even though he was never told his name?), there's just really no nice way of saying this so I'm going to jump right in: You have some really amazing talent in this film. Dennis Quaid is not one of them.
As someone who dreams of fame and fortune as an author someday - well, I'd settle for just the fortune part, frankly - I understand the longing for someone to recognize your literary efforts. If this movie had stayed focus on that point, following Rory through his plagiarism, without adding pointless subplots and characters, it could have been a best seller. This was more like reading a paperback you picked up in the clearance section.
The Trophy Wife gives this 2 1/2 trophies.
The Words has a running time of 97 minutes and is rated PG 13 for brief strong language and smoking. (F word used once)
09/01/2012 Premium Rush - Recent Reviews
I need to make a confession: I'm not a huge fan of "cyclists". I don't mean people who go on casual bike rides through the countryside, or a quick spin around their neighborhood with their kids. I mean the ones who wear spandex shorts, and jerseys, and look like they have 1% body fat. The ones who fly through intersections while the rest of us impatiently wait our turn at the stop sign. I even had the chance to watch a leg of the Tour De France while I was living over there, and all I could think was: "I've never seen so many men with less leg hair than me!" However, after seeing 'Premium Rush', I have a newfound admiration for anyone who can commandeer such a small mode of transportation through areas that aren't meant to be fit through safely.
THE GOOD: 'Premium Rush' is the story of a group of daredevil Manhattan bike messengers who obey traffic laws about as well as - well, probably everyone else in New York City - but in a way that makes those crazy cab ride stories you hear about seem pretty tame. No gears. No brakes. No good reason why any of them are still alive and not in traction. They aren't doing it for the money - apparently $80 is a good day - they're doing it for the thrill and the ability to thumb their noses at sitting in an office cubicle. And Wilee -as in Wil E. Coyote (played by Joseph Gordon Levitt) -- is the one who's most bent on sticking it to the establishment. He's the star employee -the fastest -- so it's no surprise when he is requested by name to make a delivery to Chinatown that needs to be there immediately. Of course, he doesn't know that what he's carrying is the marker for a large sum of cash, and as fate would have it, there's a dirty cop with gambling debts to pay off (played by Michael Shannon) who is willing to make Wilee's job a lot more difficult….and possibly cause him to reevaluate that whole cubicle thing.
I don't particularly enjoy mindless chase scenes in movies, but in this case where bicycles are speeding recklessly through already crazy traffic, and Wilee has some very Sherlock Holmes-esque moments of running "what if's" in his mind while mapping out escape routes - it's a lot of fun and keeps you transfixed.
THE BAD: I don't know if Hollywood has decided that women won't be interested in movies like this unless there's an element of romance in it, or that they just think all movies need to have a relationship angle, but in this case it seemed less than pertinent to the story. Wilee's fellow coworker Vanessa (Dania Ramirez) is also his on again, off again love interest, and they try to weave it together in the storyline - but as much as I enjoy a little kissy face in movies, this one would have been just fine without it. I think it might have been better to develop the "my male co-worker is jealous of my success at the company and wants to outperform me" angle a little more.
THE UGLY: No matter how many times I remind myself that I'm at a movie and that what I'm looking at is completely staged, I never get over the shock of seeing someone get hit by a car. I'm sure that residents of New York are able to take it all in stride - after all, it appears that bike messengers are a pretty common feature there, and if you're going to have people on bikes weaving in and out of traffic like complete maniacs, you're bound to have someone take one for the team now and then. All I know is that I've never been to New York, and if this movie is any indication of the traffic policies there, I don't feel any inclination to go visit.
This weekend, if you are looking for a movie to challenge your intellect, or make an emotional connection with your significant other, this one doesn't meet the criteria. But it is fun, fast and witty - and it made me a little more willing to share the road with cyclists - even if they do look better in spandex than me.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 3 trophies.
'Premium Rush' has a running time of 91 minutes and is rated PG 13 for some violence, intense action sequences, and language. (F word used one time)
08/31/2012 Hope Springs - Recent Reviews
You know how, when you are young and in love, you believe that marriage will be just one big continuous moment of romance, laughter, -- and sex? Well, please allow Tommy Lee Jones and Meryl Streep to slap you upside the head with some reality -- and possibly cause you to swear off marital bliss indefinitely.
THE GOOD: From the director of 'The Devil Wears Prada' comes the movie 'Hope Springs', a dramatic comedy that gives us a somewhat depressing yet oftentimes hilarious insight into the 31 year marriage of Kay (Streep) and Arnold (Jones), a couple who eat the same breakfast every day before work, and watch the same tv show everynight - before they retire to their separate beds -- in separate rooms. Kay has had enough, and signs them up for intensive couples therapy with Dr. Bernard Feld (played by Steve Carell), much to Arnold's displeasure. Of course, Arnold is displeased about almost EVERYTHING, which only reinforces the need for therapy - and it makes for some very funny, as well as uncomfortable, moments. Arnold is quite frankly that miserable old man we all know that drives us crazy with his constant irritability, yet there is something we find humorous about it -- as long as WE aren't the ones who have to live with him.
This $4000 therapy session takes the couple to Maine for a week of emotional fine tuning and occasional awkward silence, as Kay and Arnold are forced to admit they aren't quite sure when they last shared a conjugal visit - and even more awkwardness as Dr. Feld attempts to discuss the details. It's sometimes heartbreaking, and quite frequently laugh-out-loud funny, with most of the humorous lines coming, surprisingly, NOT from Carell who plays it mostly straight and calm, but from Jones, who takes his trademark gruffness to a whole new level.
THE BAD: If there's anything I would consider placing in the 'bad' category, it's the concern I have that young unmarried couples might see this and take it TOO seriously. "Is this what we have to look forward to?!" they will turn to each other and ask in horror. Well, maybe. I don't doubt that there really are people like this out there who somehow forgot how to 'be in love' - but I do find it a little hard to comprehend, blessed as I am to be married 20+ years to a man who still curls my toes. Maybe I'm just lucky - but I also have learned, as most old married couples have, that a happy marriage really is WORK. And if you aren't willing to DO the work, then Kay and Arnold's situation could be a very real outcome.
THE UGLY: I don't want to create too much of a graphic mental image for you, but suffice it to say that if you feel you might be disturbed and/or traumatized by watching two senior citizens getting it on, this isn't the movie for you. Consider yourselves warned.
'Hope Springs' won't appeal to everyone - the younger crowd will most likely find it difficult to appreciate -- and probably somewhat icky - which is just as well given a few very "mature" moments of discussion and -uhh - experimentation. But for anyone who can appreciate that marriage sometimes has its moments of monotony and imperfection, this film is perfectly charming and fun.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 4 trophies.
'Hope Springs' has a running time of 100 minutes and is rated PG-13 for mature thematic content and sexuality.
08/20/2012 The Odd Life of Timothy Green - Recent Reviews
Occasionally, I get the pleasure of seeing a movie that not only leaves me feeling a little more hopeful about the world and the people in it, but that is also one I can feel good about taking my kids to. 'The Odd Life of Timothy Green' is THAT kind of movie.
THE GOOD: Faced with the very real heartache of learning that they cannot conceive a child, Cindy and Jim Green (played respectively by Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton), decide that they will sit down and make a list of all the things the child they had dreamed of MIGHT have been, as a form of closure. They place the pieces of paper lovingly in a wooden box, and together they bury it in their garden, symbolic I suppose of recognizing the death of a dream - and then they decide to move on. But that night a strange storm passes through town, and the Green's wake to find a little mud covered miracle in their home, by the name of Timothy (played masterfully by C.J. Adams). Ten years old with leaves growing out of his legs, the little boy is clearly meant to be their child and seems much more at peace with his appearance than his new parents, who begin to fumble their way through this thing called parenthood that has no instruction manual. Cindy is over protective to a fault and Jim tries desperately to be the father that he himself never had. It's comical, it's touching, and it's very much what most first time parents experience, even when their child doesn't grow out of the ground. There are lessons to be learned from this child, not just for his parents, but the entire town as well - and you sort of find yourself hoping that everyone will take their time learning those lessons, because you dread what is coming once they do.
THE BAD: The story is told in a backwards sort of way, as the movie begins with Cindy and Jim sitting at an adoption agency, being given the opportunity to explain why they feel they would be good candidates for adopting a child. They begin to tell their story of Timothy, in an effort to convince the woman in charge that they have actually experienced parenthood, and the tale begins. It wasn't a horrible way to tell the story, but the cutting back and forth to the meeting room and the look of confusion/disbelief on the woman's face felt like it detracted from the tenderness that they were trying to convey. There were also, I hate to admit, a few lines in the movie that made me cringe with embarrassment at how cheesy and sentimental they were, including one about a pencil from a mean- spirited museum director (played by Dianne Wiest) that made me laugh at a moment that was, I think, meant to be triumphant - or something.
THE UGLY: Unless you have been touched by infertility yourself, or know and love someone who has, it is sometimes easy to be unaware of the pain that certain comments can cause to people who are going through it. But sometimes people can be so off the charts insensitive that you wonder why someone doesn't just smack them upside the head -- case in point: Brenda, Cindy's sister (played by Rosemarie DeWitt). This woman is so full of herself and her "perfect" children, that she is oblivious to how her comments hurt Cindy. When Cindy tells Brenda of something she has been doing lately, and Brenda responds with the equivalent of "Wow, it must be nice having nothing to do with your life so that you can keep doing a lot of nothing, while the rest of us have to run our wonderful little darlings around to soccer practice ... blah, blah", you seriously want to throw a shoe at her face.
The movie isn't perfect and at times lacks a little in the "this makes perfect sense" department (the mom works in a museum that celebrates ... pencils??) But we ARE talking about a little boy that grows in the garden, so it's only fair that no one goes into this film looking for a realistic storyline. You will, however, feel some very realistic emotion, especially at the end ... and if you don't, maybe you haven't ever loved a child.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 3 trophies.
'The Odd Life of Timothy Green' has a running time of 104 minutes and is rated PG for mild thematic elements and brief language.
08/13/2012 The Bourne Legacy - Recent Reviews
In case you were wondering, it's never a good idea to go from seeing a movie like 'Step Up Revolution'----which I checked out last week, and which required very little brain function-----to seeing a movie that, even when you are at the top of your game, is tough to follow. No one's ever accused me of being a genius, but for the first 45 minutes of The Bourne Legacy, I was starting to worry that my I.Q. was significantly lower than previously assumed.
THE GOOD: Opening with a scene of a body floating in water, The Bourne Legacy is not really as much of a continuation of the Bourne franchise as it is an extension of it. Instead of Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, we have Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross, a member of the black op program "Operation Outcome". These agents have been given blue and green pills----"chems"----to enhance their physical and mental capabilities. It's never clear just how many test subjects the government has involved in these experiments, but when a full scale investigation into the programs begins, the CIA director and others decide to terminate the undercover agents and cover their collective butts. When Aaron Cross---agent #5--- realizes he's the target of termination, he enlists the help of Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) as well as comes to her aid, since she is also on the list to be silenced.
Aside from the fact that it took me awhile to understand what was happening, the movie is fast paced and intelligent, and draws you in, despite the fact that Jason Bourne is nowhere to be found, with the exception of a brief mention and photograph. It made perfect sense to me that if the government was going to mess around with genetic enhancement, there would have to be more than just one test subject----and may I just add that I think it's a BRILLIANT idea to enhance Jeremy Renner's already amazing genes. Ahem.
THE BAD: As mentioned earlier, the movie leaves you floundering a bit at the beginning, searching to get your bearings with what is happening, intertwined with a lot of secretive governmental code words. For 30 minutes into the movie, I believe my furrowed brow and mouth hanging ajar was a good indicator that I was relatively lost.
THE UGLY: Although there's some undeniably gruesome scenes in the film----including one where Aaron Cross has to perform surgery on himself to remove a tracking device from his body----the most difficult thing to watch was a very cold and brutal workplace shooting that left me feeling a little nauseated. Given the recent events, the scene will probably strike a nerve in a lot of people that no one could have foreseen during filming.
If you are a fan of the previous 'Bourne' movies, as I am, you may be less than impressed with The Bourne Legacy, especially if you are someone who prefers your action hero to resemble Matt Damon. But if, like me, you appreciate the idea of a "parallel" storyline, as well as a new face to fight the opposition, then this movie will leave you hoping for more stories---and more Jeremy Renner.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 4 trophies.
The Bourne Legacy has a running time of 2hrs and 15 minutes and is rated PG13 for violence and action sequences.
7/19/2010 The Dark Knight Rises - Recent Reviews
I might have mentioned this in previous reviews, but I'm not particularly a "superhero" type of gal. I generally find the idea of a person who wears spandex and a cape yet is still somehow tough enough to beat the snot out of someone, kind of----weird. So when I agreed to take my son to the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, I felt I was a prime candidate for "Mother of the Year" by #1) staying up past 9:30 p.m., and #2)sitting through a 2 Â½ + hour movie about a man with an extreme case of fashion faux pas.
THE GOOD: Several years after District Attorney Harvey Dent's untimely death, Gotham has been somewhat successful in cleaning up it's streets, but it's those who are in charge that have become corrupt---and the citizens are growing uneasy. There are only the rich and the poor, so clearly what we need is a revolution. As if on cue, a new villain emerges, by the name of Bane----so named, I would assume, because that is exactly what he ends up being to society. His charming suggestion is to put an end to class inequality through tyranny and destruction. Things begin spiraling out of control as normal law abiding citizens begin taking what they believe is rightfully theirs, and chaos abounds. The entire city of Gotham seems to be on the brink of self-annihilation, so where is Batman when you need him?! Well, he's lying in a giant pit of a prison with a broken back, watching all of it happen before his eyes on the evening news---it's the final piece to Bane's plan, letting Bruce Wayne suffer, both physically and mentally, while Bane and his minions systematically destroy everything.
Christian Bale's sometimes stony performance in previous films is exceptional in this concluding chapter, and he is joined by Joseph Gordon Levitt who plays the rookie cop, John Blake, with a childhood connection to Batman (DC comic buffs will know exactly where this is headed), along with the talented Anne Hathaway who plays cat burglar Selina Kyle. Although she is never referred to SPECIFICALLY as "Catwoman", except in an allusion by a newspaper headline, she does so much justice to the character-----and that bodysuit----that you may never be able to imagine anyone else playing the part. On a side note, I came home and immediately googled what diet and exercise plan she followed to fit into that costume. I am not ashamed to admit that I now have a picture of Catwoman on my diet motivation board on Pinterest.
THE BAD: It's tempting to compare Bane's character to that of the late Heath Ledger's "Joker", and if you do, be prepared to be disappointed. There certainly isn't the depth or charisma, but clearly Bane (Tom Hardy) is a force to be reckoned with, and kind of reminded me of my Russian hot yoga instructor when he was in a foul mood. The man is obviously pissed off about something, and we come to learn that it's mostly about his crappy childhood. Clad in his "Silence of the Lambs/"worst-orthodontic-headgear-nightmare-you've ever seen" mask, Hardy is a great actor, but is at times difficult to understand. I will be the first to admit that there were moments in the film when, after he uttered a line meant to incite panic or terror, I fully expected some of the characters to look around at each other and shrug. "I don't know WHAT he's trying to say dude----what did YOU hear?"
If you're going to be a fearsome villain, you have to ENUNCIATE.
THE UGLY: Yes, the movie is dark and brutal. And yes, it's almost excruciatingly painful listening to people hypothesize that this movie is CLEARLY an analogy of certain political parties involved in this year's election. (For the record---give me a break. How about it's simply a story of really bad things happening to a society when greed and lawlessness takes over? Do we REALLY want to pull at the string of WHICH political party that best describes?) But let's talk about what is the most unsavory part of the film----and that is how you can take a looker like Tom Hardy and make him virtually unrecognizable---and icky. Please see my previous review for 'This Means War' to get a complete understanding of just how far of a leap this is. If nothing else, this film should get an award for makeup and special effects.
'The Dark Knight Rises' will undoubtedly go down in history as one of Christopher Nolan's greatest achievements, and will definately please even the diehard fans who felt the Dark Knight didn't get the credit it was due during the 2008 awards season. It even made me reconsider my view of men who wear latex-----I still draw the line at capes though.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 4 trophies.
The Dark Knight Rises has a running time of 2 hrs 45 minutes and is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language. (No F words)
6/16/2012 Rock of Ages - Recent Reviews
I don't want to brag or anything, but my high school and college years were spent in a time period known as" the 80's", where AquaNet and mullets were plentiful, and the music by bands like Journey, Guns N Roses, and my personal favorite, Def Leppard, was not just great, it was EPIC. Imagine then how my little "hair metal" loving heart skipped a beat when I saw the previews for 'Rock of Ages'!
THE GOOD: Based on a Broadway musical and set on Hollywood's Sunset Strip, 'Rock of Ages' is the story of two young rock star wannabees: Sherrie (Julianne Hough) and Drew (Diego Boneta), who fall in and out of love at the infamous and nearly broke Bourbon Room, the place that gave Rock God Stacee Jaxx (played by Tom Cruise) his start. As manager of the Bourbon Room, Dennis (Alec Baldwin) hopes that an appearance by Stacee Jaxx will turn things around. And to add a villain to the mix, we have the Mayor's uptight and pious wife, Patricia (played by Catherine Zeta-Jones) who vows to clean up the Strip and destroy any and all fun that happens there.
The plot isn't deep and challenging by any means, and it's important to grasp the fact that because this is a musical, the entire production has a very cheesy feeling to it that you have to be completely willing to embrace. Also, it probably helps enormously to be a huge fan of 80's music---otherwise there's a good chance you will hate it from the get go. For me personally, I was prepared to enjoy both the corniness AND the music, and for the first 25 minutes or so, I DID. I was absolutely having a blast, despite being subjected to seeing Tom Cruise's bare backside in an opening scene-which I realize for some would be the highlight of their Saturday night.
But then things went downhill at an astonishing rate.
THE BAD: So, here's where the movie lost its appeal for me: given that the subject matter dealt specifically with the life of a heavy metal rock god, it's a no-brainer that "groupie activity" will be alluded to, and possibly even portrayed to some degree----but when you walk out of a PG-13 movie feeling like there isn't enough hand sanitizer on this planet to rinse out your eyes, perhaps it's time for Hollywood to reevaluate its rating system. I won't relive the horror of it by sharing details with you, but suffice it to say that I am a 43 year old woman with 20 years of marriage to my name, and there were moments in this film that still made me want to crawl under my seat. Innuendo is one thing, but detailed activity went above and beyond what I was prepared for, given the rating. Yes, rock stars have A LOT of----uh, FANS. We get it. We now understand SPECIFICALLY how they spend their free time. Thank you, and ewwww.
How this movie ended up with a "less than R" rating completely boggles the mind. Clearly the MPAA needs to reconsider its criteria. And if I haven't been clear, this movie is NOT okay for kids---and by kids, I mean anyone you wouldn't want to explain the dangers of social diseases to.
THE UGLY: If you've read this far, and have thought to yourself "This woman is too uptight/that kind of stuff doesn't bother me/I'd really like to see Tom Cruise's rear end", I won't judge you. But be aware that in addition to the previously mentioned "ick factor" there is also another matter to cope with----and that would be Russell Brand's wig.
At least, I THINK it was a wig.
Oh Please. Let it be a wig.
If the film had just been nothing but a cheesy 80's rock musical, it would have been a fun and nostalgic trip back in time to my youth. I will admit to feeling almost euphoric when there was a musical number, with some obvious exceptions. And once again, I am forced to praise Tom Cruise for another fabulous performance---no matter how much I might want to beat my head against a wall when I hear his name, there's no denying that he is talent personified. If anyone can play a crazy egomaniac, Tom is your man, and he is in fact, a great vocalist as well.
In the end however, if the 80's are calling you, just download some Def Leppard on your ipod and stay in for the evening. You'll still get the great music, and you won't need any hand sanitizer.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 2 trophies.
Rock of Ages has a running time of 123 minutes and is rated PG-13 for alcohol use, language and scenes of explicit sexuality. (F word used once)
6/07/2012 Snow White and the Huntsman - Recent Reviews
If you're unfamiliar with my movie reviews, here's the way it works: I go check out the latest movie everyone is talking about, drink an astonishing amount of diet soda, and then report back to you, looking for as many things to make fun of as this space allows, while trying to strike a balance with the positive highlights. Welcome. Let's get started.
THE GOOD: What we have here is an attempt at taking the most mild-mannered and somewhat pathetic princess in history, and giving her a backbone. This is not your childhood fairy tale version, with whistling dwarfs and a helpless girl in a dress, running around with her hand over her mouth, always looking surprised. It's a much darker and creepier scene playing out, which frankly adds to the appeal in my opinion.
Left motherless as a small child, Snow White (played by Kristin Stewart) has to adjust to life with her stepmother Raveena (Charlize Theron) who is the epitome of the word, "self absorbed". When it becomes clear that Mommy Dearest has nothing good in store for her, Snow White escapes into the forest where she encounters all sorts of creepy things brought on by hallucinogenic spores, and where she also first meets the Huntsman ( Chris Hemsworth), who is somewhat a nice hallucination of sorts himself. Sent to kill her, the Huntsman is faced with the decision of serving the wicked Queen, or helping Snow White escape. And as the bad boy he is, you can imagine what he chooses to do.
There were a lot of positive's in this film for me----the visual effects were stunning, and Charlize Theron is so terrifying as the Queen that I found myself considering ways to make myself less attractive so I wouldn't risk encountering her soul sucking vanity. I even have to admit that Kristin Stewart, who I am not particularly impressed with as an actress, was perfect for the role----not only because it required very little facial expression, but because THIS Snow White isn't exactly "girly"---and let's face it, Ms. Stewart has never been known for acting ladylike. And to round things out, Chris Hemsworth with a Scottish accent is the stuff dreams are made of. Thank you.
THE BAD: I mentioned previously that there were no whistling dwarfs in this version, but rest assured that dwarves ARE present and accounted for----they just aren't particularly cute and snuggly little buggers. I didn't mind the fact that they were all a little rough looking, but I found myself completely unable to understand what they were saying from time to time. I'm still not sure if it was the British accents or if they were all, in fact, a bunch of mumblers.
THE UGLY: There was certainly no shortage of icky things to see in this movie: Stabbings, internal organ removals, and the Queen eating the still warm heart of a dead animal to name a few. Still, when you are faced with the glaring possibility that the Queen and her weirdo brother seem to have some sort of incestuous thing going on, all else pales in comparison. I don't have a brother, but if I did, I'd like to think that he wouldn't feel the need to watch me take a bath, nor would I feel inclined to chat it up with him as I step into a giant pool of milk. But that's just how I roll.
Bottom line, if you like your fairy tales on the darker side, with the fair maiden being less "helpless" and more "ragged mess", then this is the version for you.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 4 trophies.
Snow White and the Huntsman has a running time of 127 minutes and is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and brief sensuality. (No F words used)
5/26/2012 Men In Black 3 - Recent Reviews
Well, it's been ten long years since Agents J and K showed off their intergalactic protection skills in Men In Black 2, and given that the film didn't exactly win rave reviews, you can't blame anyone for being a little skeptical about the likelihood of a third installment being memorable. Luckily, I am always willing to give Will Smith the benefit of the doubt, and I'm happy to report that he and the entire cast made it worth my time.
THE GOOD: In order to go forward in this story, we have to go backwards----meaning time travel to the past; the summer of 1969, to be exact, when astronauts were preparing to walk on the moon and the Mets were poised to win the World Series. Another newsworthy event was Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) putting a foul looking alien by the name of Boris behind bars---in a prison on the moon, no less. But 40 years later, Boris has busted out of his lunar lockup and has managed to sneak through the space time continuum in an effort to find K and kill him. It's all up to J (Will Smith) to go back in time and put Boris out of commission, before he can achieve his goal. Oh, and J also needs to keep himself from getting left in 1969 as well-------yes, it's sort of a "Back to the Future" twist, and it may not be as ingenious of an idea as it seemed 25 years ago, but for all intents and purposes, it works. As you can imagine, there is a social commentary to be made with J going back in time as a black man, and Smith delivers some great attitude at perfect moments when small minded people speak without thinking.
As much as I adore Will Smith however, the scene stealer in this movie is without a doubt Josh Brolin, who not only plays the younger version of Agent K, but NAILS it. There's no debating that Tommy Lee Jones has a very unique presence and mannerism, so for someone to be able to capture that with such flawlessness, it is award worthy in my opinion. From his facial expressions to his accent and timing, everything was spot on--------and hilarious. Adding to that fun, we have the alien character Griffin (played by Michael Stuhlbarg) who is a sweet and perpetually anxious little creature, and has the dubious gift of seeing the future----or rather the equal possibility of several different futures, some positive and some not so much. With his misty blue eyes, Elmer Fudd wool hat, and innocent childlike responses, he might come across as goofy to some, but I adored him.
THE BAD: I can only assume that in order to capitalize on how amazing Josh Brolin is in this role, efforts were made to keep Will Smith's character from shining too brightly. Or at least, that's what ends up happening. Usually Agent J is so full of sarcasm and attitude that the laughs are pretty constant-------this time around, it took almost 45 minutes for Will to have a laugh worthy moment, at least for me personally. This isn't to say that Smith isn't his usual great talent, but be prepared that he doesn't pack nearly the punch in this installment as he did in the first two.
THE UGLY: I'm torn really, as to what the most hideous part of this movie was, but I certainly have it narrowed down to two contenders: the first being Boris (Jemaine Clement) in general---this guy just brings repulsive to a whole new level---but it's his teeth specifically that had me completely nauseated. It was like an entire mouth full of giant yellow molars and reminded me of the scary monsters I imagined as a little girl. Of course none of those creatures were ever making out with a woman in black leather pants in my imagination---which brings us to contender number 2. If there is anything more disturbing than a monster like man with bad dental work, it would be watching that same man sticking his tongue in a woman's mouth. Shudder. It's like I'm a five year old girl again, with a whole new scary image to keep me awake at night.
It's a generally accepted fact that the Men In Black Franchise started off strong, then hit a low with MIB2. There will be those who won't be willing to give MIB3 a chance because they fear things will only get worse-------the surprise is that, as sequels go, this one is actually worth seeing, not only because of Brolin's performance, but the touching surprise twist at the end that explains J and K's relationship.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 3 Â½ trophies.
Men In Black 3 has a running time of 106 minutes and is rated PG-13 for sci-fi action violence and brief suggestive content. No F words.
5/11/2012 Dark Shadows - Recent Reviews
If you haven't noticed, there's sort of a big vampire craze going on right now in the entertainment industry, so you can't really blame Tim Burton and Johnny Depp for their attempt at joining in the fun. If you are hung up on your undead being of the sparkly and smoldering variety, however, you'll have to stick with Young Adult fiction-----these characters are darker and a little less likely to end up on a poster on your tween daughter's bedroom door.
THE GOOD: The story begins in the 1700's, with the Collins family leaving Liverpool, England for America, and settling in what will soon become Collinsport, Maine. Joshua Collins (Ivan Kaye) establishes a thriving seaport town, and soon uses his family fortune to build a mansion for his wife and young son, Barnabas. When a household servant (Eva Green) falls in love with the grown Barnabas (played by Depp), and is rejected by him, we learn she is a vindictive witch----literally----and unleashes a curse on the Collins family, turning the young Collins heir into a vampire who is then buried alive. Fast forward 200 years to 1972, when Barnabas rises from his grave intent on restoring his family's name and estate to their former glory.
The younger generation will be mostly oblivious to the fact that this film is a remake of the 40 year old daytime drama of the same name, although Burton's adaptation is undoubtedly stranger and more risque than anything that ever appeared on daytime television in the 60's. To his credit, Tim Burton always manages to bring the "creepy" factor to his films and this is no exception. Most of it is very tongue in cheek, so there's very little chance of anyone being traumatized or having nightmares afterwards, but as previously mentioned, Depp's vampire character is unmistakably NOT a high school heartthrob, so you won't be having teenage girls and middle aged women losing their minds over his dreaminess-----Well, alright---it IS Johnny Depp--------the guy makes just about any character look good, and I will be the first to admit that he even makes a pale corpse with long dirty fingernails look shockingly desirable. His deadpan responses and comedic timing is charming as well. And, as we have all come to expect in Tim Burton movies, there are plenty of other dysfunctional characters to help us feel uncomfortable and entertained.
THE BAD: If you have had your fill of Depp/Burton movies, then you will probably want to skip this one, simply because it feels pretty much like all the other Depp/Burton movies before it. There is certainly a large movie going fanbase that have NOT tired of this duo, and I suppose for argument's sake, I reside in that camp. I realize right off that I probably won't be seeing a film that will be renknowned for much of anything except some general weirdness, a few dark laughs, and Depp in his many wonderous incarnations of male splendor. But sometimes that's perfectly sufficient for me. And I suppose that in the end, that is what the actual downside of this move amounts to: It isn't particularly noteable, it's just sufficient entertainment for an evening.
THE UGLY: I'll get directly to the point---for all the screen time filled with vampires, witches, and other hideous cast members, the grand prize goes to the cameo appearance of Alice Cooper. As a friend of mine so eloquently put it:: "Seeing Alice Cooper perform live in 1972 would probably have been cool--------it was a lot less cool seeing Alice Cooper as a 64 year old man performing in a movie set in 1972." I'm not even sure I would agree with the first part of that statement, but the last part was dead on.
For all the hype about this movie, the best I can do is tell you that, because I never actually watched the original show, I have no idea if fans of the former daytime drama will be pleased or disappointed with this version. My older sister, who grew up with the show and went to the movie with me, said they got a lot of things right, so that's certainly saying something. And let's face it, there are worse things to do with your evening than staring at Johnny Depp.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 2 Â½ trophies.
Dark Shadows has a running time of 113 minutes and is rated PG-13 for comic horror, violence, sexual content, some drug use, language and smoking
04/26/2012 The Lucky One - Recent Reviews
Call me crazy, but I'm starting to think that Nicholas Sparks needs to either: A)stop turning his books into movies, or B) locate and keep on speed dial the person who was responsible for the screen adaptation of 'The Notebook', because frankly, you can only expect audiences to hope for a life changing love story so many times before they stop giving you the benefit of the doubt.
THE GOOD: A grown up and---if I may be perfectly frank---smoking hot Zac Efron plays Logan Thibault, a young Marine who has survived three tours of duty in Iraq, when many around him haven't been as fortunate. He believes he owes this miracle to the photo of a young woman-Beth (played by Taylor Schilling) that he stumbled across in combat. When his tour is over, he sets out to find her and thank her for saving his life. It's a simple thing to say, really, when he finally locates her, yet for some reason that's never quite clear, he can't do it. Instead he ends up working for her and her grandmother at the dog shelter and obedience school they own. By the time she learns about the real purpose of his appearance in her life, his explanation seems flimsy. Throw in Beth's bully of an ex-husband, Keith (played by Jay R. Ferguson), along with a steamy shower scene and Efron flexing his biceps as he lifts bags of dog food, and you have the makings of a great love story----right? Well, not particularly.
THE BAD: I need to point out here that, although I don't always read a book before it's made into a movie, I did with this one----and that might have been a mistake, because I couldn't help but feel irritated at how WRONG they got it. The casting was pretty solid, although I never felt much chemistry between Logan and Beth---but that may have just been because I was thinking the whole time how much I would have like to play Schilling's part. But I suppose that's not integral to this review.
To be fair, I completely understand that it's not feasible to put every element of a book into it's film adaptation. But the main problem I had with this one was WHAT they chose to leave out. Throw aside some of the "beautiful scenery shots", cut out 2 of the THREE bedroom scenes (we get it-Logan is totally buff, but let's not run this thing into the ground), and for the love of all that is holy, PLEASE get rid of the cheesy line he mumbles to Beth about kissing that isn't even IN the book. But why they would choose to remove a key moment in the story that shows what a dirtbag Keith is escapes me. Tack a few extra minutes onto the movie and develop those characters so the dialogue actually means something when they say it.
THE UGLY: With Taylor Schilling and Zac Efron on the screen, there isn't a whole lot of ugly to be found, but some short scenes of domestic violence are certainly ugly enough to leave you hoping you'll see a ---with any luck, shirtless----Logan, swinging a shovel at Keith's big noggin.
For all the hype of this film being another "Notebook" or "The Vow", you'd have to be a pretty die hard Nicholas Sparks fan to actually compare it to either of those films. It lacks the charm and depth of either of those stories, which is a shame because there's nothing quite like a love story to make life seem more worthwhile. This movie just made my popcorn and diet soda seem a little more special.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 3 trophies.
'The Lucky One' has a running time of 1 hr 41 minutes and is rated PG13 for some sexuality and violence.
03/23/2012 The Hunger Games - Recent Reviews
Unless you've been living on the remote outskirts of civilization, you've undoubtedly been seeing and/or hearing coverage about the latest best-selling book turned movie, "The Hunger Games". As someone who, on the advice of a good friend, read the entire trilogy and who looked forward with some hesitation to the film adaptation, allow me to tell you if they made a successful jump from page to screen.
THE GOOD: The film is based on the book "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins---with the follow up novels "Catching Fire" and "MockingJay" to round out the trilogy. The story is set around a young woman named Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence) who is growing up in a civilization named Panem. After the existing nations of North America are destroyed by catastrophe, Panem rises from the ashes and is ruled by the Capitol ---filled with wealth and narcissistic people--and surrounded by 12 "districts" that are powerless and poverty stricken.
As the movie begins, there is the opening scene of the annual "Hunger Games" ritual, where each district is required to supply two child "tributes"-one male and one female-as a penance for the attempt of a previous uprising. These 24 young people are then placed inside an arena to fight to the death while cameras capture their every move. It satisfies the entertainment quota for the Citizens of the Capital, and reminds the districts of their helplessness. From District 12 we watch as Katniss and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) are chosen to fight, and follow them to the Capital where they are prepped and made over in a twisted form of celebrity ending with an appearance on a talk show hosted by Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) who interviews each tribute with compassion and humor, all in the name of entertainment for the citizens of the Capital. These people are so caught up in their abundance of EVERYTHING, as well as their appearances, that they are completely oblivious to the fact that these are actually children being taken from their families and dying in the most brutal manner. It's frightening and appalling-----and it makes a great story.
All the tributes have a mentor---someone who has fought previously in the games and won--- and Katniss and Peeta are somewhat disillusioned when they meet theirs: a drunken mess of a man named Haymitch (played by Woody Harrelson). Haymitch is responsible for giving them tips and pointers on how to succeed in the arena, and although you can't help but be doubtful of his usefulness, Harrelson nails the character beautifully.
THE BAD: Obviously, watching a movie about children killing each other is disturbing, and if I didn't find an underlying message to it, I would consider it nothing but gratuitous violence. However, I found that the story seems to teach, on at least some level, the dangers of a government becoming so large that only a select group of people have rights and privileges, while others are left with nothing. Do I believe that a government could become so out of control that it would actually sacrifice children as a form of entertainment? My "I like to believe the very best about people and their intentions" side says "no of course not", but you have to admit it's not a far stretch of the imagination for it to happen when you look at what other seemingly rational and advanced civilizations have been capable of -------and this is what makes it both an intriguing story and one that is difficult to watch.
Please be warned that the film has been rated PG-13 for a reason---and although I know lots of people whose children below the age of 13 have read these books, there is something very powerful and upsetting about watching these scenes play out on the big screen. If your child is younger than 13, I would highly suggest going to see the movie WITHOUT them first and then making the decision of whether or not you want them to watch it, based on your judgement of their ability to handle it. My 10 year old daughter will not be watching it-in the theater, or on DVD---for at least a couple more years.
THE UGLY: It's hard to choose which scene in the movie is the MOST graphic, because when children are involved, all death scenes are horrible-----but the one that I felt the most nauseated by was during an attack of "Tracker Jackers" which are lethal bees, and the damage they inflicted on the victims. I would suggest that if you have bee allergies, you take a bathroom break around that time. Hit the concession stand. Something.
As a huge fan of these books, I was admittedly a little skeptical that they could be made into a film that did justice to the powerful images that played out in my head while reading them. I am thrilled to be able to tell you that, for all intents and purposes, they nailed it. If you have read the books, I can assure you that you won't be disappointed with the final results. If you are one of those who have not yet read the trilogy, you will still find the movie enjoyable and well done----but do yourself a favor and read the books before the next installment-----"Catching Fire"---- comes out next November----you'll be glad you did.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 4 Â½ trophies.
The Hunger Games has a running time of 142 minutes and is rated PG-13 for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images. (No F words)
3/20/2012 A Thousand Words - Recent Reviews
There was a time---many, MANY years ago---when putting Eddie Murphy in a movie was guaranteed to equal a big box office return and lots of laughs. Lately, however, it's hit or miss, and---let's be honest---quite a bit more miss than hit. Years after the fact, I am still trying to scrub the images of "Norbit" from my brain. However, I still find myself holding out hope that he will redeem himself from the long list of stinkers that have plagued the theaters since the mid '90's. And despite my ever present sarcasm, I am an optimist at heart, and chose to give Mr. Murphy another shot at things by seeing his new film, "A Thousand Words".
THE GOOD: Jack McCall (Murphy) is a big time publishing agent who spends his days smooth talking potential clients, while ignoring or belittling everyone else in his life. His main focus is himself, and he has no problem saying whatever he needs to in order to close the deal. But Jack is about to meet Karma, in the form of a tree----a tree whose life is, inexplicably, tied to his own. When he speaks, leaves fall from the tree, and he soon realizes that when those leaves disappear, he and the tree are both goners. What follows are semi-creative attempts to function in everyday interactions (professional, family and public) without uttering a word. As expected, complications are abundant, and Jack realizes he has to find a way to fix everything with as few words as possible.
There isn't a lot to rave about in this film, but I have to admit I was more than a little impressed with the young actor who plays Jack's secretary/assistant, Aaron (Clark Duke). In those moments when Murphy is forced into silence, Duke shows promise with his "young Michael J. Fox-esque" awkwardness and voice. There may be a future for this boy---although that may not be the case for Eddie.
THE BAD: I understand the point that the writers were trying to make with this idea, I really do. It's all about making what we say actually MATTER, and finding the words that help others more than ourselves. The problem is that they weren't very clear about their moral until the last 15 minutes of the film. To be fair, for a movie that had so little to offer for almost it's entire lifespan, I felt some genuine emotion towards the end. It's just a case of too little too late. And, aside from the corniness of a magical tree sprouting up overnight in your yard, the main problem with the whole film is that Eddie Murphy is SILENT during a fair portion of it. We all know that he can be hysterical and has delivered some pretty memorable lines in the past, but a physical comedian he is NOT, so even with all the crazy faces and sign language he attempts in order to communicate, it fell flat without his trademark sarcastic wit----although I'm not sure even some well placed lines could have saved this one, unless Murphy could have used those lines to make fun of the movie itself. That might have been fun.
THE UGLY: I suppose this next point is subject to debate, but it's my personal opinion that the raunchy, albeit brief, S & M scene between Jack and his wife was not integral to the plot of the movie and was basically unneeded. It just added one more awkward moment of Murphy saying nothing. Axle Foley would have at least given us a witty comment about the leather underwear.
The bottom line is that "A Thousand Words" doesn't hit an all time low for Eddie Murphy---I think that ship might have sailed with "Pluto Nash"---but it certainly isn't his finest performance by a long shot either. The good news is that he doesn't attempt to play numerous characters---but one of his strongest talents is his mouthiness---take that away and it's an uncomfortable silence.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 2 trophies.
A Thousand Words has a running time of 91 minutes and is rated PG-13 for sexual situations including dialogue, language and some drug-related humor. (F word used once)
3/10/2012 The Lorax - Recent Reviews
There are two things guaranteed to lure me into seeing a movie; the first is humor, preferably of the snarky and sarcastic variety---and secondly, animation. I feel quite certain that movies like "Despicable Me" and "Megamind" were, in fact, written more for people like myself than any child that might see them. So I was completely in my element this weekend when I checked out a showing of "The Lorax"---which is coincidentally directed by the same clever people who came up with "Despicable Me", one of my all time favorites.
THE GOOD: I know this will probably take a lot of you by surprise, especially since I am the mother of three and am practically as old as Dr. Suess himself---but I have never read the story of the Lorax before. I had no idea the man was such an environmentalist----I just knew he had quite a penchant for creating funny looking creatures with weird names, and could rhyme like nobody's business. It turns out he was also a little concerned about what would happen to civilization without trees---and this is pretty much the entire plotline of the movie, but with enough humor and fun characters to keep it from being preachy. Ted (voiced by Zac Efron), is a 12 year old boy living in a post-tree world and has a larger than life crush on Audrey (Taylor Swift). It's this puppy love that inspires him to go in search of the Once-ler (Ed Helms) who can tell him the story of how the world became treeless and, hopefully, help him get his hands on a real tree as a gift for Audrey. With the help of Ted's grandmother Norma (the loveable Betty White), he looks for a way to make the world right again, even as people try to convince him that there's nothing wrong with how it is.
THE BAD: Because the environmental message isn't portrayed in an overly dramatic and frightening way (Can you say "Happy Feet"?), I didn't find myself feeling beat over the head by an agenda, but be aware that there clearly is a message in this movie. If you don't like your animated films to have any sort of moral whatsoever, this one might get under your skin. The only real downside I could find in all of it was the fact that the Lorax himself didn't have as much screentime as I had hoped or expected, and that seems a shame, since his biting sarcasm and slight antisocial demeanor were delightful.
THE UGLY: As proficient as I am at pointing out things in movies that are offensive, pointless, or otherwise unacceptable, I would be hard pressed to come up with much of anything in this film that made me cringe. A lot of the humor IS geared towards adults, but not in the classic "innuendo" sense that we frequently see in today's animation features-it's just written with a more mature audience in mind, without alienating smaller maturity levels. If I HAD to point to anything that came close to striking an ugly note, it would have to be the haircut of the Mayor of Thneedsville, Mr. O'Hare (voiced by Rob Riggle). No man, not even an animated one, should ever, ever sport a pageboy haircut. Ever.
As a side note, I am generally not a fan of paying the extra money for 3D movies, and of course "The Lorax" is playing in 3D and non 3D versions as well. Usually I find that the 3D version is rarely worth the extra expense because the technology is utilized so sparsely throughout the film. However, I can report that this is one move I WOULD recommend seeing in all its 3D glory. From the previews before it even starts, to the very closing scene, those horrible glasses are worth every cent.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 4 trophies.
The Lorax has a running time of 1 hour and 34 minutes and is rated PG for brief mild language.
02/23/2012 This Means War - Recent Reviews
Once in a great while, there is a romantic comedy that is deep, thought provoking, and touching. Just be aware that 'This Means War' is not one of those. If you are looking for action scenes, humor, and sexy British accents, however, this movie has your name written all over it.
THE GOOD: The opening scene of this movie is a great attention getter, with Chris Pine (FDR) and Tom Hardy (Tuck) playing CIA agents who smoothly waltz into a party that looks like it was hosted by Ashton Kutcher, flirt with a few women, and then begin shooting bad guys. We soon learn that they have awakened the wrath of Heinrich-German supervillan (played by Til Schweiger) and that becomes the secondary plot of the film. However, the main entertainment value lies in the fact that FDR and Tuck have both fallen for the same woman: Lauren (portrayed by the adorable Reese Witherspoon). Being the best buddies that they are, they agree to play by a set of gentlemanly rules and let Lauren decide which one of them she prefers---but we all know men are simply not that mature, and so it comes as absolutely no surprise that the two of them use every undercover tactic possible to sabotage the other's plans to woo fair lady. It was genuinely funny and frankly, I don't laugh easily. You have to earn it from me and they certainly did. Reese is her usual delightfully cute person, and you can certainly see why she has trouble deciding which of these two charmers to choose. Personally, when there are British accents involved, it's a no brainer for me----always go with the British guy. Tom Hardy could be a dead ringer for the elephant man, and I would still swoon over that voice and listening to him pronounce the word "privacy". PRIV-ah-cee. Sigh.
THE BAD: Although I am aware that this movie is not getting a lot of praise from reviewers in general, it seems to me that the fault lies in people's assumptions that all movies should be Oscar worthy, life changing moments in time. No, this movie will not likely win any awards, and I won't go so far as to say it changed my life. But it made me laugh, several times in the space of 90 minutes, and I was entertained, which is the whole point of going to the movies in the first place. Sometimes that's perfectly good enough. Throw in some buttered popcorn and a diet coke and I'm happy. If I can point to anything in this film that was less than desirable, it would be the fact that, for being rated PG-13, the sex scenes seemed ---highly charged. Speaking as a mother of two teenagers, with a third not far behind, I would SO not be okay with them watching a kitchen counter being utilized in that way----call me a prude if you must, but it's my review so I call it as I see it.
THE UGLY: Peppered throughout the movie, Lauren's friend Trish (played by Chelsea Handler) is there to give all sorts of raunchy, unladylike advice. It's basically a trainwreck, and adds one more dimension to the argument that this movie is definitely not for young teenagers. I read somewhere that they actually had to remove several of Trish's lines just to keep the movie from being rated R. Her words of wisdom add nothing to the storyline except to give you the impression that she is skanky. She did have one redeeming line consisting of "Don't go for the better guy---go for the guy who makes YOU better." If only all her lines had been that appealing.
This movie has a "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" feel to it-not surprising, since it's from the same writer---so if you enjoyed that one, this will probably be a hit to you as well. Not quite as smart and fast paced, but then again, Brad Pitt doesn't have a British accent, so it's kind of a tie.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 4 trophies.
'This Means War' has a running time of 97 minutes and is rated PG-13 for sexual content including references, some violence and action, and for language (F word used once, and Chelsea Handler makes regular appearances
02/11/2012 The Vow - Recent Reviews
Hypothetically speaking, if you were to wake up from a coma and not remember anything about the last 4 years of your life, including the person you are married to, it would be a frightening and confusing ordeal. Of course, if the person claiming to be your spouse looked like Channing Tatum, there's a distinct possibility you might be tempted to just go with it, although I suppose that's simplifying the issue a bit. But if you are wondering if the storyline translates into a worthwhile movie, read on.
THE GOOD: Leo and Paige (portrayed by Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams respectively) are a cute, somewhat quirky couple who fall in love and get married in an artsy offhanded manner, and seem destined for marital bliss, until fate and slick winter roads in Chicago have other plans for them, throwing Paige through a windshield and leaving her with no memory of her life with Leo. To complicate matters even further, what she does remember is her life with her previous boyfriend, Jeremy (played by Scott Speedman), as well as her privileged life with her pretentious parents who are more than thrilled to jump into her life and try to reclaim the wayward daughter they were once estranged from. The story is based on actual events, which doesn't always translate to great movie material, but in this case it makes for a sweet and emotional plot, that allows you to bask in the sentimentality that some people find sort of mushy. Tatum is somewhat clunky as an actor, but in this role it comes across as endearing, and you can clearly understand Paige's attraction to Leo---he doesn't have swagger, he's just sweet. McAdams is, as always, the consummate professional, and leaves you hoping against hope that she will experience a medical miracle and remember her life with Leo and the independent person she had become.
THE BAD: The problem with movies like this, in my opinion, is that they tend to get built up by the media to impossible heights. For weeks before it's release, you would see comments like "the next greatest romance of all time" or "Even more touching than 'The Notebook'" flashed across the screen of trailer previews, which only serves to leave the audience nowhere to go but down. And don't misunderstand me, I really liked it. I sometimes forget just how much of a sucker I am for a good "I dare you to rip my heart out and make me weep like a baby" romance until I am sitting in one. It was, for all intents and purposes, a very good film. What seemed to be lacking was a little character development, so that you really felt connected to them -especially Leo's artsy bohemian friends who kept showing up to lend support but whom you never felt any real sympathy from. As for Paige's loss of memory, you would have thought that seeing Channing Tatum wandering to the bathroom buck naked in one scene would have shocked her right back into her senses, as it would for most women, but clearly the damage was more severe than even doctors could predict. In any case, although I can't in good conscience tell you that this movie won my heart over as much as movies like "The Notebook", it certainly will earn a place on my list of movies to add to my library.
THE UGLY: Although the crash scene is arguably disturbing, and seeing McAdams character go through a window shield with such force that I almost felt nauseated, what I REALLY had a hard time stomaching was Paige's art projects. Wow. I don't claim to know much about sculptures, but after she lost her memory and Leo showed her all the pieces she had created before the accident, I kept waiting for her to cry out "What IS this? What is it supposed to BE?" She never did, but heaven knows it went through MY mind.
If you love romantic films where there is no guarantee of things winding up like a perfect fairy tale, you can add this one to your list of movies to see. Pack a hanky, and if you are lucky enough to have a significant other -like I do--who actually enjoys mushy love stories, take them along. It's not a bad way to start off a romantic evening.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 3 Â½ trophies.
The Vow has a running time of 104 minutes and is Rated PG-13 for an accident scene, sexual content, partial nudity and some language.
02/07/2012 One for the Money - Recent Reviews
Sometimes I have to wonder if I should give up reading books entirely -especially if there is even the slightest chance they might be made into a movie. The reason I say this is because, with only a handful of exceptions, the movie adaptation of a relatively good book is almost always less than stellar----and there's few things in life more disappointing than a movie that takes a great story and tells it all wrong. You can now add "One for the Money" to that long and distinguished list.
THE GOOD: Author Janet Evanovich has spent the last 18 years creating the Stephanie Plum novels, about a Jersey girl who goes from selling lingerie in Trenton and being flat out broke, to working as a bounty hunter for her slimy cousin's Bail Bond business and keeping herself in high heels. The books are highly entertaining, with suspense and humor in abundance, so you can imagine my delight---and, conversely, sense of impending doom---when I heard they were planning on making the first installment into a movie. "PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE let it be as good as the book" I pleaded with the hard of hearing movie gods. "And please let someone really good looking play Joe Morelli" I added in my next breath. Well, at least someone heard me on THAT issue.
Katherine Heigl was chosen to play the lead role of Stephanie Plum-amidst plenty of protest from Evanovich's fans who felt she wasn't right for the part. Personally, I wouldn't have thought of her to fill those shoes in the first place, but she pulled off that Jersey City girl attitude (and accent) without overkill. Jason O'Mara plays the handsome Joe Morelli, an ex cop who stole Stephanie's virtue in high school and who she has held a grudge against ever since, and whom she is now hired to track down and bring in for the sum of fifty thousand. As if she needed further motivation. To be fair, these two certainly have chemistry, even when they are trying hard to convince themselves they don't. And with Heigl's self deprecation and city girl cajones, she plays a likeable character. If that had been the only thing necessary to make this a great film, the stars would have been in alignment. Alas.
THE BAD: As mentioned previously, my expectations for this movie were probably different than someone who has NOT read the book, so I try to adjust my reviews to fit an audience that go into this movie totally blind and not expecting anything in particular. But even given that criteria, it seems that the plot line was a little thin and splotchy. There were a few laughs scattered here and there, but overall this came across as a reverse role version of "The Bounty Hunter", and I think we all know what the general consensus was on THAT movie. And although I didn't disagree with the casting of the two lead roles, just about everyone else fell short. I can't be certain, but I think the director was hoping to pull off a "Betty White" feel to Grandma Mazur (played by Debbie Reynolds). If that was his intention, it might have been a slightly better plan to actually get Betty White in the role---she certainly could have done wonders to add to the humor element in my opinion. And although I make an attempt to take an overview from the perspective of someone who hasn't read the book, the fact remains that I HAVE, and I have to be honest---Janet Evanovich's wit and penchant for telling a great story deserves better than this. It's not that I ever let out any audible groans, but I kept waiting for it to be the great story I knew it was capable of being. The good news is that if you HAVENT read the book, you won't be playing that waiting game.
THE UGLY: I don't think there will be any dispute on this one. Stephanie has to bring in an elderly man from her apartment building that has missed his court date. And as fate would have it, he's a nudist. Let your minds roam where they will. I think Heigl's line says it best when she refers to his "twigs and berries" not being such a bad thing to deal with when it meant she was going to get paid for hauling him in.
If you are looking for something relatively amusing to see with your significant other, this movie has enough romance and Jason O'Mara to appeal to the ladies, as well as a few action scenes-and Heigl in the shower-to entertain the guys. But I think you'll have more fun staying home and reading the book to each other.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 3 trophies.
One for the Money has a running time of 106 minutes and is rated PG-13 for violence, sexual references and language, some drug material and partial nudity
01/28/2012 Man on a Ledge - Recent Reviews
Exactly how far would YOU go to prove you are innocent of a crime? Assault a police officer? Arrange a heist? Stand on the ledge of a building 17 stories up while a helicopter hovers nearby, threatening to whoosh you right off? Now that I've basically summed up the plot of "Man on a Ledge", let's discuss if it's worth seeing , or if you will spend 90 minutes wishing YOU could jump off a tall building.
THE GOOD: An ex-cop turned fugitive, Nick Cassidy (played by Sam Worthington) has been framed for a crime he didn't commit and in an effort to prove it,he stands on a ledge outside a high rise hotel, threatening to jump unless he can prove to the world that he is innocent. NYPD negotiator Lydia Mercer (Elizabeth Banks) is called in to assist in talking him down, but soon realizes that his plan may just be a distraction for something else happening. It's a mildly intriguing story, and Worthington does a fine job portraying a man who is desperate to restore his good name. David Englander (played by Ed Harris) is the man Cassidy claims has framed him for the theft of Englanders prize jewel, and it's his theory that Englander still has the jewel in his possession that fuels his plans to arrange a break-in and prove that the jewel was never stolen. There is a fair amount of momentum in the first half of the film, interspersed with comedic relief from Cassidy's little brother Joey (Jamie Bell) and his girlfriend Angie (Genesis Rodriguez) who clearly takes her cues from the Jersey Shore gang, but manages to throw out a few zippy one liners nonetheless. This is a movie that will have you rooting for the bad guy, because it's clear he's really a good guy in disguise---you want him to have his honor restored to him, so you keep your fingers crossed that all will go according to plan, no matter how unlikely that plan may be.
THE BAD: As previously mentioned, the storyline is one with potential. I was certainly drawn in by the possibility that an innocent man had been framed and lost everything he valued, including time with his dying father. I appreciated the concept of someone taking control of a situation that was unjust and doing whatever was necessary to make it right, instead of putting their head down and giving up. And I especially like action/suspense films where a little humor is thrown in, just to take the edge off once in a while. The problem I found was that the writer's seemed to struggle with finding that line in between. I found myself laughing at parts that I'm not so sure were intended to be funny, but they struck me as ridiculous, so laugh I did. For example, what exactly was the point of having a big name star like Kyra Sedgewick play a small obnoxious role of t.v. reporter Susie Morales-who rolls that R in her last name with passion every time she signs off-- in this film? It was almost as if she had auditioned for the part of the negotiator (and would have been brilliant at it, I might add) but because the casting department felt so guilty about not giving it to her, they made up a part for her. That's how it felt to me anyway. And, although I will admit to liking the storyline-as improbable and somewhat murky as it sometimes was-the real disappointment to me was the final moments when apparently the writer's said to each other "Look, we all know how this is gonna turn out, and I've got Curbside to Go from Applebee's and American Idol on Tivo waiting for me-----let's just wrap this up" To say that the final scene was a letdown and entirely too neat and tidy for my liking would pretty much sum it up.
THE UGLY: Now, there will inevitably be some debate on this next point, based entirely on your gender and what you look for in a movie---but I would have to say that the low point for me personally was the fact that someone felt the need to dress Genesis Rodriguez---queen of Long Island---in the lowest cut shirt possible to pull off a robbery. This wasn't just pandering to what I'm sure the director assumed would be a predominantly male audience---it was so distracting, you literally couldn't look away. I think at one point I made a comment to my husband that I would think her hair hanging in her eyes would bother her, and I believe his comment to me was "She has EYES?"---you see where I'm going with this. And it was an all out laughable moment, when they had her strip down to her Fredrick's of Hollywood's in order to put on a skin tight Mission Impossible suit to climb through an air vent---as if a lacy thong is going to actually fit inside THAT. Please.
"Man on a Ledge" isn't going to win any awards or praise for being the best of anything---it ends up being a mildly entertaining way to spend a Friday night, but at least you won't feel like flinging yourself off a building.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 3 trophies.
"Man on a Ledge" has a running time of 1 hr and 42 minutes and is rated PG-13 for violence and brief strong language. (F word used once)
01/24/2012 Red Tails - Recent Reviews
According to several articles I have read lately, it has been George Lucas' intention to make a film about the Tuskagee Airmen since the 1980's, but he hasn't been able to find a studio that would support it, claiming that audiences wouldn't be interested in seeing a movie with an all black cast. I don't know if they really believed that or if they were just too afraid to tell George that his script was corny and disappointing, but whatever the case may be, Mr. Lucas had to fund the project with his own spare change---no doubt last Tuesday's Star Wars action figure sales covered it nicely.
THE GOOD: If you are unfamiliar with the premise of this film, it recounts the history of the first African American military aviators in the United States Armed Forces-the Tuskagee Airmen, who fought in World War II during a time of rampant bigotry and racial segregation. The concept is a worthy and fascinating one, and I was highly anticipating a great and inspiring film. With actors like Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Major Emmanuel Stance) and Terrence Howard (Col. A.J. Bullard), you would expect some really fine work. Well, lower your expectations. The idea behind this movie had real potential, and the fact that we are given the opportunity to see these men prove that they are every bit as talented and brave-if not more so-than their Caucasian counterparts, IS inspiring. However, among ALL the actors in the film, black and white alike, only one of them seemed to be slightly more than one dimensional, and that was David Oyelowo, who played Joe "Lightening" Little, a likeable but somewhat reckless pilot who is completely averse to following orders and aspires to be the Tom Cruise of Tuskagee (referencing Maverick in Top Gun, for anyone who thought I was taking another pot shot at Tom Cruise again). Mr. Ayelowo is mostly believable and comes across as a character that has some depth, in a crowd of others who deliver line after cheesy line, which brings us to------
THE BAD: How someone can take such a striking and courageous part of history and insert such inane and absurdly ridiculous storylines and wordings is beyond the scope of my understanding. For example, we have the airman (Oyelowo) who, while flying by an Italian town, somehow manages not only to spot a beautiful woman hanging up her laundry, but is then miraculously able to locate exactly where she lives. Following this logic, these two end up falling madly in love, even though she speaks 2 words of English and he speaks even less Italian-not to mention that under Mussolini's rule, interracial marriage was about as accepted in Italy as it was in the US. Apparently we had to have a romantic storyline to distract us from the all the bad acting. Egads. It would have been more endearing to focus on the families these men left behind than to try and create a love story in what should have been a heart wrenching historical piece. For good measure, there is also some German guy that keeps showing up to, apparently, make sure we understand that the Germans are the BAD guys in all of this, and he keeps spewing stupid lines like "Die you foolish African!" And as bad as all the acting was, as insipid as the dialogue seemed to be, my brain finally reached it's aneurysm point when, in what I can only assume was someone's misguided attempt to lighten things up, a white soldier says to "Junior" (played byTristan Wilds) "Well, at least they won't be able to see you in the dark". This is in reference to a group of soldiers attempting to break out of a German POW camp in the middle of the night. Groan.
THE UGLY: Racism, plain and simple. When some white soldier in an Italian officer's club spouts off the N word, it's uncomfortable and it's sadly a fine example of the stupidity that abounded at the time, and that unfortunately still carries on today with some people.
When our kids were little, we drove out to California from Colorado to take them to Disneyland, and, as a surprise, to take them to the ocean. We thought it would be fun to tell them that we were taking them to the world's largest swimming pool and to see the look of joy and amazement on their faces when we got there. Instead they started to cry and were kind of angry at us for misleading them. Not that the ocean wasn't NICE and all, but where was the diving board and giant waterslide?!
I felt kind of the same way after walking out of this movie---the story of the Tuskagee Airmen is a good one, but I was led to believe this film would be GREAT and they did a huge disservice to these amazing men by trying to glamorize it instead of just letting the story be told. Somehow they managed to turn an ocean into a swimming pool with no waterslide.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 2 trophies.
Red Tails has a running time of 2 hours and is rated PG-13 for some wartime images of violence. (No F word, but the N word is used)
01/10/2012 We Bought a Zoo - Recent Reviews
Have you ever walked out of a movie theater and felt genuinely happy that you just saw a particular movie? I'm not talking about being thrilled that the movie was OVER--- heaven knows there's been enough of those experiences in my life. What I'm describing here is the feeling of being able to be entertained for 2 hours and feeling like your life is just a little bit better because of what you saw. And with everything that we are sometimes surrounded with during the rest of the day, that's a nice change of pace.
THE GOOD: 'We Bought A Zoo' is based on the true story of an actual man named Benjamin Mee (played in the film by Matt Damon) who, with his family, bought the Dartmoor Zoological Park in Devon, England. In the film, the actual story takes place in Southern California and sadly, there were no British accents to be found. But I quickly got over that little disappointment and was drawn into the story line of a man who is grieving the loss of his wife (due to a terminal illness we can assume, there is no mention of specifics-only that she was ill), and is now trying to raise two children: Dylan (played by Colin Ford), and Rosie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones). He has grown restless with his job, and being the adventurer at heart that he is, decides that it's time to make a new start in life. And of course, what could be more of a complete change of lifestyle than buying a deserted house that just happens to come with an abandoned zoo? Benjamin's brother Duncan (Thoman Haden Church), who is a 'jack of all trades' turned accountant, advises him NOT to buy the zoo---as any good accountant would. But he refuses to listen and, without the slightest previous knowledge or experience when it comes to exotic animals or running a business in general, he and his kids start the adventure of a lifetime. Luckily, the purchase also came with a small staff including Scarlett Johannson who plays Kelly, the head zookeeper, and Angus Macfadyen, the loveable and inebriated Scottsman, Peter. This group has been taking care of the animals without pay since the last owners left it behind, and now are hoping for Benjamin to turn everything around. Clearly they were hoping for someone with a little more zoo expertise, and it soon becomes clear that he needs them every bit as much as they need him.
The story is sweet and heartfelt. Yes, there are no big surprises---you can pretty much guess where everything is going. But I didn't mind that so much, because the story itself drew me in. What would I do, for example, if after losing my spouse and being on my own to take care of my children-who are in turn struggling to accept the loss of their parent? Would I have the courage to start a different path and try to give them a life experience they would never forget, even if I had no idea what I was doing? I like to think I would be that brave, and I loved the fact that Benjamin also took that chance. The acting was excellent, most notably by Damon and Ford in their father/son scenes that ranged from funny to emotionally charged. And the too cute for words little girl Rosie (Jones) was a scene stealer if I ever saw one---the girl has a big future ahead of her, no question. I would gladly adopt that child, she was just that adorable.
THE BAD: As far as there being anything in the movie I would change, there wasn't a lot of downers for me, but being the family movie that it was billed as, I really could have done without using the adorable little girl to call the anal retentive Zoo inspector (played by John Michael Higgins)a naughty name. I know there are people out there who find it hysterical when little kids say bad words, I just don't happen to be one of them---especially when it was a line they were asked to say.
THE UGLY: Snakes. Lots and lots of snakes. The fact that the snakes also escape at one point was something that all Ophidiophobics should be made aware of. You were warned.
The general consensus in the movie critic circles seems to be a lukewarm reception to this film, but I found it warm and loveable. It might not win big awards, but sometimes the things in life that are simple and sweet don't get the praise and attention they deserve.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 4 trophies.
We Bought a Zoo has a running time of 124 minutes and is rated PG for language and some thematic elements. (No F words)
1/3/2012 Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol - Recent Reviews
I have a confession: Tom Cruise is my own personal enigma. Time and time again, I cannot explain how I manage to find this man to be mindblowingly arrogant and quite frankly, a general weirdo, and yet I have LOVED just about every movie I have ever seen him in. It's like a twisted form of admiration that even I don't quite understand, because I am serious when I say this: I REALLY don't like him. And yet true to form, by the end of MI-4, I was under that spell again.
THE GOOD: Blamed for the recent bombing of the Kremlin, the IMF is shut down and all members are disavowed, which leaves Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his fellow agents on their own to clear the agency's name and prevent another attack-this one designed to be on a more frightening scale. Joined by agents Benji, the tech nerd (Simon Pegg), the beautiful Jane(Paula Patton), and desk jockey analyst Brandt (Jeremy Renner), Ethan is in a race to stop Hendricks (played by Michael Nyqvist), a lone terrorist who has managed to steal Russian nuclear codes. As in every previous Mission film, there is no shortage of action and intrigue, but this one seemed to have exceeded them all, thanks in no small part to the much advertised scene of Tom Cruise scaling the Burj Khalifa in Dubai-the world's tallest skyscraper. There's been a lot of talk about the fact that a stunt man was NOT used in this scene, implying obviously that Tom did it all on his own. I haven't been able to independently dispute or confirm this, but may I just say that if it IS true, I have gained an entirely new level of admiration for this man. I still don't like him, but you have to have some healthy respect for someone who is willing to do a stunt like that. I think it also cements the fact that there's something not quite right in his head too, but there's no need to get into that here.
Besides the infamous Dubai scene, there are plenty of moments to keep you jumping, covering your mouth, cringing, peeking through your fingers and sometimes even laughing, as all of it is carried out with such casualness at times that you almost forget there's the threat of a nuclear war at stake. Let me put it another way: let's say-hypothetically--- that a person was to sit down in this movie and realize 5 minutes in that she-or he--- needed to pee. Let's also say for argument's sake that this fictional person also had a large diet Coke in their possession and, throwing caution to the wind, drank the entire thing and STILL never left the movie once to use the restroom because it was just THAT GOOD. I'm not saying it happened. I'm just saying it's entirely feasible.
As a side note, due to my aforementioned love/hate relationship with Mr. Cruise, I HAVE to add in this section the added bonus of seeing him smack his head on a few really large hard objects a couple times. It's the little things that sometimes bring the most pleasure.
THE BAD: If I could point to anything in this movie being truly unappealing, it would have to be a toss- up between the Pompadour hairdo of the Indian Prince that Jane is enlisted to seduce, and the skyscraper scene---because as impressive as it was, I have some serious fear of height issues. Some of the camera angles, designed to show just how far up Cruise was (and no doubt impress you even further that there seemed to be no nets or safety devices of any kind---did I mention earlier that someone's marbles are missing?) had me covering my eyes and feeling a tad green. So when I say that it was a "bad" part of the movie, I don't mean it shouldn't have been included, as I usually am implying in this section---only that if you happen to be height sensitive like I am, you should be advised to apply that Dramamine patch before sitting down.
THE UGLY: As disturbing as seeing a man being shot through the head while riding in a car might be, as nightmarish as it is seeing a woman fall to her death from 1000 ft in the sky, there was really only one thing in this movie that could truly be described as scary, and that would be Tom Cruise's feet. Sweet Saint Peter----the feet. I feel that I am at liberty to judge other people's hooves, because I personally have troll feet. At least that's what my husband tells me. Apparently I am fortunate that he is not a 'foot man' or I would still be single. So when I say that Tom Cruise has ugly feet---noted in a scene where he is barefoot and standing on the ledge of a building---it is only because I know a pair of hideous flippers when I see them.
If you are a fan of the MI franchise, then it's a no brainer that you will love this one as well. All the right elements are there to make it a total gut wrenching thrill ride from start to finish......just make sure to hit the restroom before it gets started. I'm just saying.
The Trophy Wife gives the movie 4 trophies.
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol has a running time of 133 minutes and is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense violence and action. (No F words uttered)
12/23/2011 Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows - Recent Reviews
Certain actors in this world have an unmistakable talent for taking a character and making it uniquely their own. Johnny Depp did it with Captain Jack Sparrow; no one could match Chevy Chase's version of Clark Griswold; and Robert Downey, Jr. has become the modern day face of Sherlock Holmes. I'll admit that, although I have never once actually read a Sherlock Holmes novel (my apologies to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle), I was entirely hooked on Mr. Holmes (AND Robert Downey, Jr.) after the first installment of the film, and was enthusiastically looking forward to Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows for the entire two years it took to be released. Now, let me tell you if it was worth the wait.
THE GOOD: This time around, Sherlock and Dr. Watson (played again by Jude Law) are joining forces to combat their incredibly intelligent/devoid of a conscious adversary, Professor Moriarty (Jared Harris). The good news here is that if you enjoyed the first film's use of slow motion action sequences and Holmes' way of explaining beforehand exactly how he intends to pummel someone, then you will be pleased to know that it has been included in this film as well.
Set in 1895 Victorian London, the scenery is dark and dreary, and the costuming-aside from a couple weird items that Downey ends up sporting-is certainly sufficient for transporting a person back to that time. The chemistry between Holmes and Watson is ever present, although this time around it tends to come across as less humorous and a little more-well, for lack of a better explanation---like there is a serious Bromance going on. Granted, Watson gets married and sets off on his honeymoon in this sequel, yet Holmes is somehow along for the ride there too, which has to please the new Mrs. Watson no end. Certainly that feeling is magnified when she gets thrown off a moving train by Holmes in an effort to protect her. Given that I have a relatively large crush on Jude Law, and found Mary (Kelly Reilly) to be somewhat stuffy and clearly not good enough for him, this scene was one of my personal favorites. Perhaps that isn't particularly objective when it comes to reviewing a movie though.
THE BAD: I like to think that I am a relatively intelligent person, in general. I'm capable of having an informed discussion with others on topics that range from politics to, well, celebrity gossip---but somehow, I was just not smart enough to follow the plot of this movie. I was able to surmise that Professor Moriarty was up to no good, that he felt a mixture of respect and loathing for Sherlock Holmes, and that Holmes was trying to stay one step ahead of him to keep bad things from happening. Also, I think it might be helpful if you understand the game of Chess, which I do not---there seemed to be a lot of references to Kings and checkmates. Aside from that, it was all sort of a blur. Guy Ritchie, the director, seemed content to inject as much action into this film as possible, but obviously felt that the witty banter and clear cut plotline of the first movie was no longer necessary. And that's where the disappointment hit me----this movie wanted to be a stallion but it ended up being a Shetland pony. It was longwinded and hard to follow. Its saving grace, aside from the obvious "easy on the eyes" factor of Downey and Law, was the chemistry between them. Please don't misunderstand me: this film is full of breathtaking scenes of suspense and action, and I wasn't sorry I spent my time or money watching it. But the brutal truth is that it wasn't as good as the original, which seems to be true for just about every sequel I've ever seen. It's like a curse. Yet I'm still happy that they decided to chance it and give me the opportunity to see this team together again----despite it falling short of perfection, it will definitely end up in my DVD library, next to the first one.
THE UGLY: As previously mentioned, I have never read the Sherlock Holmes books, so I was unaware that he had a brother by the name of Mycroft (played by Stephen Fry). Although a likeable fellow, he clearly has a penchant for embracing the quirkiness that seems to be part and parcel of being of this bloodline. With Sherlock, we see the oddness being manifest in moments of appearing dazed and confused, sometimes bordering on psychosis, as he pieces together clues. For his brother Mycroft, however, the weirdness is all about walking around in the nude, and seeming completely oblivious to everyone's discomfort. All I'm saying is that if SOMEONE had to be naked in this film, there were some better choices. Dear Guy Ritchie: contact me for suggestions before filming number 3.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 3 Â½ trophies.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows has a running time of 129 minutes and is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, and some drug material. No F Bombs were dropped.
12/9/2011 New Year's Eve - Recent Reviews
Occasionally, when my cupboards are a little bare and I haven't had the chance to get to the grocery store, I will rummage through my refrigerator and try to come up with a creative masterpiece to put in front of my family for dinner. That's kind of the premise behind the movie "New Year's Eve", the latest concoction of director Gary Marshall. I'm not saying it's unfit for consumption, but the chance of anyone wanting seconds is going to be rather small.
THE GOOD: If you happened to catch Mr. Marshall's production of "Valentine's Day" from last year, you may be aware that there seems to be a trend happening here: Place as many big name stars in one film and name it after a beloved Holiday. That pretty much sums up both of the plot lines, because, there really ISN'T any. And I suppose that when you have people like Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Halle Berry, Josh Duhamel, Hilary Swank, Jon Bon Jovi, Jessica Biel, Zac Efron, and Sarah Jessica Parker (and that is just naming a FEW of the beautiful faces that parade by on the screen) agreeing to be part of your creation, you can fool yourself into thinking that an actual plot is unnecessary. Okay, okay, there was a plot. Well, more than one actually. And therein lies one of the major downfalls of this film, which I will of course go into detail about in the next section. As the title of this section implies, we will stick with discussing the high points of the movie. First, let me assure you that there ARE some great comedic lines, and a very nice unexpected central story line that belongs to an almost unrecognizable Michelle Pfeiffer, and Zac Effron, who has come a long way from his days of High School Musical. Halle Berry does a wonderful job of portraying a nurse whose sweetheart is overseas in the military, and of course, being the fan of 80's hair bands that I am, any movie with Jon Bon Jovi earns a few extra points as well. Kudos to the writers for having Jon play a rock star who goes by his last name-Jensen. Where did they come up with such a unique and charming idea? In any case, he played the part with ease, and as an added benefit, we all get to hear him sing a couple tunes.
THE BAD: This is where I get to tell you and Mr. Marshall what I didn't like about this movie----TOO. MANY. PEOPLE. Look, I appreciate the idea of being able to see so many stars in one long procession. The cast reads like a talent agent's dream Christmas card list. But the problem with having so many big names is that NONE of them get to truly shine. I would seriously be surprised if any of them had their own trailers during the filming. Their on screen time was so limited they probably just shared the locker room of a local NYC health club. Instead of having their meals catered, I imagine a gofer just handing them all a plastic baggy with trail mix. You get what I'm saying: A lot of people, not a lot of time in front of the camera. And it's really a shame because some of the story lines deserved to be bigger. I would have thoroughly enjoyed understanding what caused Michelle Pfieffer's character to be so worn down that she resorts to asking a hot bike messenger half her age to help her achieve her bucket list before the year is over. On the flip side, there were story lines that could have dropped out COMPLETELY and no one would have missed them----I'm talking to YOU Josh Duhamel and Ryan Seacrest. I was so bored by a couple of the plots that it was almost painful for me to sit still and not let out a whimper.
THE UGLY: I would like to believe that Michelle Pfieffer's character was given the once over by a makeup artist to look as haggard as she did because , wow, I honestly didn't realize it was her for the first 20 minutes of the movie. But the true "Yikes!" award goes to Cary Elwes as the caring doctor. You will remember him as sweet Wesley from the Princess Bride, but Wesley looks to be a little worse for the wear now. It's difficult watching our beloved favorite actors get older-mostly because that means we probably don't look as good as we used to either.
Overall, 'New Years Eve' is a nice mindless way to spend an evening with friends or a significant other. It's kind of like having leftovers---you won't be raving about it afterwards, but it served it's purpose.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 3 trophies.
New Year's Eve has a running time of 1 hr and 57 minutes and is rated PG13 for for language, including some sexual references (F word used once)
12/7/2011 Happy Feet Two - Recent Reviews
If you are one of those people who avoid, like I do, movies that lure you in with the promise of pure mindless entertainment but end up preaching an underlying environmental message, then here is a little heads up: Happy Feet 2 is something that falls squarely in that category. Call me old fashioned, but I really like it when the people who create the animated movies don't try to insert their deeply held convictions into the storyline. Seriously, I just came to see some penguins dance.
THE GOOD: I need to be honest with you and admit that I am probably one of the few American parents who has NOT seen the first installment of Happy Feet. It's possible that, because I went to the sequel without seeing the one that started it all, I might have missed something that would have changed my overall opinion of the movie, but I'm going to go with my gut instincts here and say "I doubt it". What we have here is the story of a colony of penguins (or flock, or herd---I'm not sure the terminology is all that pertinent) living in the frozen wasteland of the Antarctica and the struggles they face because of---you guessed it---man made global warming and earthquakes. To be fair, I will say that the animation was breathtaking, the music was upbeat, the dancing was fun, and there is just about nothing cuter than hearing a cuddly cartoon penguin speak with the voice of a small British child. Robin Williams, who can sometimes be a little overbearing for some people in his human form (I've been informed of this by my husband who is not his biggest fan), is actually spectacular as a cartoon character's voice, and I applaud his ability to make me laugh in a movie that had far too few laughable moments. I also would like to note that I appreciated the underlying message that parents need to help their children believe in themselves and their own abilities to solve problems. That being said, what I REALLY would have enjoyed was an hour of that pure mindless entertainment I mentioned earlier.
THE BAD: Where do I begin? Obviously, I take issue with the fact that this was more of a public service ad for the plight of our friends the penguins than it was a feel good family film. In fact, there was very little feeling good going on, and some parts of the movie were frightening and slightly disturbing---watching an elephant seal plummet down a towering glacier in front of his small babies, penguins becoming so desperate to escape their own impending doom that they attempt to fly, only to fall from the sky like giant bowling pins. These are not scenes likely to keep your 7 year old amused or entertained. Obviously even animated films need some source of conflict in the story, otherwise it's just, you know, Shrek 3. But these kind of conflicts cross the line when you are marketing a film that's supposed be a family feature. When I take my kids to these type of movies, it's mainly because I am hoping to find something to entertain them, make them laugh, and just enjoy being a kid. I'm not looking to educate or indoctrinate them on world issues that give ADULTS nightmares. Movies about cute fluffy penguins should leave EVERYONE feeling upbeat and in a generally good mood. Instead, you get kids walking out of this thing with horrified faces and the newfound sobering reality that the life of a penguin kind of sucks---thanks to the adults in their lives, as an added piece of good news.
Also, I am probably one of many, many women who believe that Brad Pitt can make just about anything better simply by showing up---but not this time. And it's not that he didn't do an outstanding job of playing the voice of a piece of krill, as did Matt Damon (Will and Bill the Krill, respectively). But these characters in the movie were about as pointless as a white crayon. The only purpose they seemed to serve was to, once again, push the environmental agenda. I hope all the kids in the theater walked out of there feeling a little more enlightened about the serious plight of our world. No sense wasting a matinee with pure fun when you could have the added benefit of a lesson in climate apocalypse.
THE UGLY: I mentioned it before but it bears repeating---as weird and grotesque as elephant seals are, it was even worse watching one fall off a cliff. He kind of grew on you with his Australian accent (funny, because we are in the Antartic here, and yet we seemed to have a plethora of different accents coming from every direction---no doubt another commentary about how even penguins have their own melting pot and they have learned to coexist) and the fact that his babies sat and watched it happen seemed a little too intense for a movie with the words "Happy" in the title.
As a disclaimer I'd like to point out that I am not against ANY movie having teaching moments, and delivering messages that actually attempt to make us better people and provide a better world. I don't limit myself to movies that allow me the luxury brain "down time"---but there's a time and a place for sharing your agenda with people. That time is not with small children, and the place shouldn't be in a movie about dancing flightless fowl.
The Trophy Wife gives this 2 Â½ trophies.
Happy Feet 2 has a running time of 100 minutes and is rated PG for some rude humor and mild peril.
11/15/2011 Jack and Jill - Recent Reviews
Generally speaking, any movie where the lead male character also plays the part of a woman is a really bad idea. With the exception of 'Tootsie' and 'Mrs. Doubtfire', I stand by this statement EMPHATICALLY. I don't think we need to look any further than the recent 'Madea' phenomenon--which, by the way, I am at a loss to understand--to prove this point. And let's now give Adam Sandler a warm welcome as we add him to the list of contenders in 'Jack and Jill'.
THE GOOD: The movie starts out with some promise as we meet several sets of twins who share their feelings of growing up with a double entity, with some of the comments being laugh out loud memorable. Then we segway into meeting Jack (Adam Sandler), a big time ad executive living with his wife (Katie Holmes) and their 2 children in a stunning Los Angeles mansion. His current biggest problem consists of trying to get Al Pacino to star in a Dunkin Donuts commercial---until the arrival of his twin sister Jill (also played by Sandler), which puts everything into perspective. Jill is, as you can imagine, not much of a looker, but top that off with a heavy Brooklyn accent, really bad clothes and makeup, and an obnoxiously loud voice, and you have---well, what you have is an episode of Jersey Shore, really---but more to the point, it's a disastrous holiday visit that Jill is spending with Jack and his family. What starts out as a 2 day nightmare quickly escalates into what I'm sure Jack felt was FOREVER---I know that's how it began to feel for me personally after about 45 minutes. To be fair, there were some honestly funny moments, although they rarely came from the expected sources. It's not that I dislike Adam Sandler, per se. But I don't really buy into the mentality that something is funny just by virtue of him showing up for it. He had his moments here and there, but what really got my attention was the hilarious cameo by Johnny Depp---yes, you read that right, he is actually in this movie; believe me when I tell you that I will be covering THAT point in depth coming up. Not only was he eye candy as always, but he got one of the biggest laughs in the movie from me. Another pleasant and unexpected surprises was watching Al Pacino getting jiggy with it in a dance scene. How much they had to offer Don Michael Corleone to move like that is probably beyond mortal comprehension.
THE BAD: We have a lot to cover in this section, so let's get started, shall we? First of all, I CANNOT comprehend how anyone managed to talk megastars like Depp and Pacino into appearing in this movie! Are they BFF's with Sandler? Are they edging their way towards bankruptcy and need some spending cash? Have they decided that they are so well loved and respected as actors that no one will care if they appear in a stinker now and then? Please help me understand it. There were plenty of other cameos in the movie that I didn't question AT ALL---for Jared from Subway, and Vince the ShamWow guy, this movie was probably the best they could hope for. Even David Spade, who was dressed up as a skanky woman probably felt like this was a high point. But Depp and Pacino?? Payment for something was being redeemed here somewhere, mark my words.
The other glaring problem with this movie was the "Adam Sandler in drag" thing. Yes, I realize it's comedy and really, what makes an uglier woman than a man with a wig and spandex? It just felt too over the top, and, as much as the writers want you to see Jill as a good hearted, misunderstood, and underappreciated human being, all you can focus on is her lack of social etiquette and that grating whiney voice. And so yes, when Al Pacino not only takes notice of her but becomes obsessed with making her his one and only, it's a tough sell.
Something tells me that if they had just cast a slightly homely woman to play the part, the believability factor would have skyrocketed, and it might even have been funnier.
THE UGLY: Although there's certainly nothing enjoyable about seeing a beautiful man like Johnny Depp wearing a Justin Bieber t-shirt, the clear winner in this category goes to Jill for her first experience with eating Mexican food. Lots and lots of Mexican food. Please, don't make me explain this nightmare to you in any greater detail.
This film clearly panders to anyone who thinks bodily functions and racial stereotyping are the hallmark of comedic greatness, so if you have a 10 year old boy living with you--or your husband just acts like one--by all means, make an evening of it. Otherwise, save it for a rental night when you are looking for some lowbrow humor--and the need to see Al Pacino bust a move.
The Trophy Wife gives this 2 Â½ trophies.
Jack and Jill has a running time of 91 minutes and is rated PG for crude and sexual humor, language, comic violence and brief smoking.
10/26/2011 The Big Year - Recent Reviews
It's been my experience that the ease of writing a movie review is directly proportional to just how bad the movie is: a really good movie can sometimes take me several days to formulate precisely the right words----a real stinker seems to bring out all the snarky comments I can muster, at light speed. After seeing 'The Big Year', if my theory is correct, I should be able to whip out this sucker in about 10 minutes.
The Good: What we have here is someone's idea of taking the hobby of bird watching to the next level; the level of competitive bird watching. Yawn. Meet Stu, Brad and Kenny (played respectively by Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson)---three men whose lives, for reasons I have yet to comprehend, are so consumed with this hobby, that they are each willing to take an entire year of their lives and travel all across the entire US to spot as many bird species as possible, and thus be named Top Birder of the year. This includes taking time off from work, missing fertility treatment appointments, and spending every last penny they have to claim that they spotted such elusive creatures as the Snowy Owl and the White Crowned Sparrow. Kenny is the all time champion, and is intent on holding on to the title---you can IMAGINE the pressure!!--and Stu and Brad are bound and determined to take on the challenge of, you know---seeing more birds than Kenny.
If you are, in fact, a "Birder" yourself ---a demographic that I can only imagine might not be inclined to spend much time in movie theaters---you might find this movie somewhat entertaining. Well, no. You might find it slightly informative. And because this is the "good" section of my review, I will make an attempt at saying something positive about the film. The scenery in some of the places was beautiful. And some of the birds were interesting. And the lady sitting next to me in the theater laughed like Elmer Fudd-okay, so that has nothing to do with much of anything, except for the fact that it made me laugh.....which is more than what the movie was able to accomplish.
The Bad: So, here's a question for you--- how do you have three of Hollywood's leading men of comedy in a movie together, and not be able to make it funny? Oh, I know! I know! Because it's a movie about competitive bird watching! Look, I certainly have nothing against birds.....I actually owned two cockatiels several years ago named Roo and Sydney. I looked at them occasionally and thought to myself "those are some nice birds". Once in a while, when I'm outside, I notice a bird and think vaguely "there's a bird....I hope the neighbor's cat doesn't eat it". But that's pretty much the extent of my bird knowledge or concern. I realize it is a hobby for some people, and I'm not judging....but it seems to me that there are probably a handful of hobbies out there that don't really lend themselves to "comedic movie material". As an example, I don't foresee a great comic masterpiece about woodworking. Or scrapbooking. MAYBE extreme couponing, but it's a stretch. I just think that when you have a topic that isn't all that funny, it's asking a miracle of the actors to make you laugh, especially when the characters themselves aren't particularly funny--- a little obsessed with birds, yes, but otherwise relatively normal guys. And I think a movie about this sort of thing really calls for the characters to be just plain goofy. It might have at least given it a shot. If this gives you an indication of what I'm talking about, I was 53 minutes into the film before I laughed. Yes, I was timing it. When thirty minutes went by and I hadn't even cracked a smile, I thought it would be interesting to see just how long it would be before the comedy kicked in. And just to clarify, it wasn't a big laugh. It resembled more of a cough. What pains me even more is the fact that it was Owen Wilson giving someone the "you're # 1" sign that did it. After almost an hour, I guess I was a little desperate.
The Ugly: And the choices for top honors are A) Steve Martin puking over the side of a boat after being taunted with fish guts and B) Jack Black sitting on a hotel bed in his underwear and black dress socks while snarfing down a bag of pretzels and a jar of peanut butter. I believe we have a tie.
It's a huge letdown when you are expecting some comedic genius from people who normally make you laugh. At the very least, I was hoping for a few laughs to entertain me for a while. This one just fell flat and the only thing I could console myself with was the fact that my movie ticket was free.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 1 Â½ trophies.
The Big Year has a running time of 1 hr 40 min and is rated PG for language and some sensuality.
11/4/2011 Tower Heist - Recent Reviews
Remember the days when a movie with Eddie Murphy in it was guaranteed to be hysterical? I know, it's been awhile. Aside from his 'Beverly Hills Cop' days, I feel safe saying that the last thing he was in that made me really laugh out loud was "Shrek"---there are a lot of "Donkey" quotes going on in my house, especially when someone mentions waffles or parfaits. Sadly, that little gem was followed by 'Daddy Day Care', and more disturbingly, 'Norbit', which I still haven't quite forgiven him for. I know he redeemed himself slightly in his 'Dreamgirls' role, but MY dream has been to see him get back to business and make me laugh. Well, welcome back Mr. Murphy---it's nice to see you again.
THE GOOD: The movie 'Tower Heist' is kind of like a modern day Robin Hood, only instead of taking down the Sheriff of Nottingham, it's Arthur Shaw (played by Alan Alda), the Bernie Madoff-esque character who has managed to line his pockets with his lowly employees pension funds. He surrounds himself with over the top luxury items and enjoys them all from his Penthouse apartment with floor to ceiling windows. And it's Alan Alda, so you'd like to believe that there's been some sort of a mistake and that he's actually a nice guy who's been wrongfully accused---the war cry of all Ponzi schemers. But it becomes increasingly clear that a nice guy he is NOT, and through a series of missteps and fueled by righteous indignation, the General Manager of the luxury apartments, Josh Kovacs (portrayed by Ben Stiller) takes it upon himself to lead a group of less than merry men to render a little vigilante justice to Mr. Shaw. Enlisting the help of Slide (played by Eddie Murphy), a small time criminal that Josh remembers from his childhood, the group set out to set things right for themselves and all the employees at the Towers. The concept of the movie, given the current economic climate and the lack of sympathy most people have for greedy people who take advantage of others so that they can own a Summer home in the Hamptons, is an intriguing one. Yes, we feel absolutely justified rooting for the people breaking the law, because THEIR illegal activity is only going to hurt the greedy piece of work that started the whole mess. And it seems more satisfying than just letting the court system slap their hands. Add to that some fantastic comedy from Murphy, who is allowed to return to his roots a little by using that old school humor that isn't always family friendly. A darker, more subdued version of Axel Foley, if you will. Another surprise of the film is the great one liners being delivered by Mr. Fitzhugh (Matthew Broderick), an ex Wall Street executive who is completely bankrupt and is looking to help out with the heist. His timing and deadpan responses were spot on, and I think it's safe to say that he was a big reason I found the movie as funny as I did.
THE BAD: A couple things worth mentioning here---although Murphy gives one of his better comedic performances in recent memory, he doesn't actually have that large of a role in the movie. He appears about midway through, and pops in from time to time. When he's onscreen, there is some real life in the film.....but when he's gone, it lags a little. In fact, the cast is so large, that it felt sometimes like no one was getting their fair share of an opportunity to shine. As previously mentioned, Murphy and Broderick both had some great comedic genius going on, but because they had to share their screen time with others who weren't quite as funny, it seemed like a bit of a waste. The movie would have still worked with less character fillers, and quite possibly would have even raised the laugh factor a little. The other thing I found disappointing was the absurdness of the actual heist itself. I won't spoil anything for you, but it almost felt like the writers worked for MONTHS on the concept of the movie itself, and then 12 hours before filming said to themselves "well, we don't really have any ideas on HOW they're gonna get their money back, and we need SOMETHING......Anybody? Any ideas AT ALL? No? Alright, we'll just punt." And that's where it kind of fell apart for me personally. Had the laughs been a little more constant, I might have been able to overlook the improbability factor, but if I'm not laughing, it gives me too much time to think......and what I was thinking was "Really? REALLY?!"
THE UGLY: Dear Hollywood, there is actually a group of people in the world, however small you believe it to be, that don't find running jokes about the female anatomy all that humorous. We are the same people who stopped laughing hysterically when someone used the word "Boobs" when we were 9. Please attempt to bump up the bar just a tad. I'm not saying I don't enjoy a little immaturity now and then. I've been known to laugh at a lot of things after which someone will say to me "Grow up". But a 3 minute dialogue on childbirth and what it can do to a person's nether region is UN. NECESSARY.
If you can keep your mind open to the fact that this movie is definitely not intended to be based on realistic planning, and is purely for entertainment purposes, it's a safe bet that you'll be amused. And Eddie Murphy doesn't play a fat woman, so there's definitely that.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 3 Â½ trophies.
Tower Heist has a running time of 104 minutes and is rated PG13 for sexual humor and language (No F words---I was pleasantly surprised)
11/1/2011 Puss In Boots - Recent Reviews
Let me start off this review by pointing out two very important background notes: First, although I enjoyed the Shrek franchise in general ---and more particularly the first film, since the sequels seemed to lose their charm, as sequels almost always tend to do---one of my least favorite characters in the mix was Puss in Boots. Dress him in any costume you'd like, Antonio Banderas is pretty unlikely to sweep me off my feet. And second, I am, in no uncertain terms, NOT a fan of cats in general. The ones in my neighborhood clearly have an unwritten understanding that my landscaping is the perfect community liter box, and don't get me started on how aloof they are---give me a slobbering, eager to please dog any day over a cat. How's that for endearing myself to the cat lover's out there?
THE GOOD: If you have been wondering all these years just EXACTLY how Puss ended up wearing those dashing high heeled pirate boots, Dreamworks has taken it upon themselves to tell you the story from the very beginning. Puss is an orphaned kitty that ends up, along with a mixture of children, animals and fairytale creatures alike, in a Spanish Orphanage, run by a woman who Puss affectionately calls mother. It's here in this orphanage that Puss meets another orphan, Humpty Dumpty (voiced by Zach Galifianakis), and the two become best friends. Unfortunately, the egg's "devilish" side (didn't see that one coming did you?) gets the best of him, and he ends up betraying Puss.....and this is where we flash back to the present and understand that Puss's outlaw persona is not something he chose, but is definitely something he has vowed to repair. The race is on to find the "magic beans" that are being held hostage by Jack and Jill, who I always thought were brother and sister in the nursery rhyme, but apparently they are an item----or maybe this is all just taking place in Arkansas. It's all a little unclear. But the two of them are grown up and, for lack of a better description, flat out homely. After an attempt at a reconciliation with Puss, Humpty and his friend Kitty Softpaws (voiced by Salma Hayek) convince Puss to join forces with them to rescue the beans, find the golden egg laying goose, and Puss hopes that all of this will help restore his good name.
The animation in the movie is absolutely amazing, as we have come to expect from Dreamworks. I didn't see it in 3D, but once again, I don't think much would have been gained from paying the extra cash and wearing the glasses. The film itself was stunning enough with its graphics and layout. And although the humor wasn't as frequent or clever as you might hope, there were definitely some moments of laugh out loud dialogue.
THE BAD: Given the demographic of people at the showing I went to, I would wager that not a lot of adults are going to this movie WITHOUT children in tow. Sadly, I felt that the humor in this was geared more towards the adults and that it went over the heads of most of the kids in attendance. A shining example of this is the rough hombre in the bar whose body is all tattooed with the story of the magic beans, and piece by piece he reveals the depictions to Puss, until he comes to the part about the golden eggs, and goes to unbutton his pants, at which point Puss begs him to stop; the adults in the audience are laughing hysterically, I let out a small stifled scream, and my nine year old daughter who was with me keeps saying "What? What? What just happened?" It was moments like that, along with the fact that, 20 minutes into the movie, my daughter sighed and said she wished we had gone to see 'Real Steel' instead, that made me wonder if Dreamworks had missed its target audience----so much for cute animated kittens winning the heart of a little girl who has a room full of stuffed animals. Maybe she is inheriting my cat disdain.
THE UGLY: I can't deny that my daughter's apparent lack of interest in the movie happened to coincide with the appearance of Humpty Alexander Dumpty, who, to be completely honest, freaked me out a little. You have a giant egg head, and the face was shockingly lifelike. That was bad enough, but when Jack and Jill started discussing the possibility of starting a family together, I felt a little nauseated. They were already tending a herd of warthogs and treating them like their babies.....and if we are going to be honest here, given the whole brother and sister thing I mentioned earlier, any potential offspring would probably be just about as furry.
Don't go to Puss in Boots expecting to be charmed by the witty dialogue and creativity of the original Shrek film---it's not there. But I was impressed with the clever background story, and there's no denying that Dreamworks knows how to deliver in the animation department. Younger kids may find the storyline somewhat confusing and over their heads in certain places, although there is plenty of action to hold their attention. And if you like hearing Antonio Banderas say "Iyam Pusssssss---- NBOOTS!!" there's a lot of that as well.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 2 Â½ trophies.
Puss in Boots has a running time of 1 hr 30 minutes and is rated PG for adventure action and some mild rude humor.
10/21/2011 Footloose - Recent Reviews
As a teenager growing up in the 80's, the original 'Footloose' was the go-to movie for memorable quotes, classic dance moves, and the best all around "sticking it to authority figures" storyline a girl my age at that time could dream of. Imagine my pleasure, then, when a couple of decades or so later, a remake of Footloose has me feeling almost as giddy as my former 13 year old self-and the urge to get up and dance was calling my name---LOUDLY.
THE GOOD: I'll be perfectly honest and say that, although I loved the original version of the film, there is a part of me that feels just a little bit embarrassed when I watch it now---mostly because of the dated hair and clothing styles. And let's be frank: who dances like that anymore? I mean, besides nerdy middle aged people like myself.
The 80's version is a classic and has it's charm, but you are probably going to be hard pressed to get many of today's generation to see it as anything other than "a lame movie that my parents made me watch". That's quoting one of my teenage sons, verbatim. So, given all that, I was thrilled with the idea of updating an already great movie, in hopes that a whole new generation could appreciate it. And the added bonus is that it has given me a new version to love as well. It's hard to replace an actor like Kevin Bacon in the role of Ren McCormack, the big city kid who moves to small town Bomont after the death of his mother, to live with his Aunt and Uncle-but Kenny Wormald does the part justice and was a great choice. He has the look and attitude of someone who definitely doesn't belong in an uptight community that has outlawed public dancing, due to the tragic death of some teenagers several years earlier. Then he meets Ariel (played by Julianne Hough), the preacher's troubled daughter, and he finds his struggles with the town authorities are just beginning. And may I just add here: the boy can dance. Most people know that Julianne Hough has a lot of talent in this area as well, but Wormald can definitely hold his own.
The storyline varies a little from the original, but I loved how it stayed true to most of the iconic scenes, especially the 'angry dance routine' in the warehouse---this time around there is so much anger and frustration felt, it kind of makes Kevin Bacon's version look like he was skipping through a poppy field. And as excellent as all the new cast members were, the standout was clearly Miles Teller who plays Willard, the back woods country boy who befriends Ren-and who absolutely CANNOT dance. He was incredibly funny and charming, and watching him move in the end was just plain fun.
THE BAD: Although I mentioned that some artistic license was taken with the storyline, most of the dialogue from the original was in place-which wasn't always a positive thing. I think that when you are remaking a movie and trying to modernize it a little, it's perfectly okay to update the wording of conversations as well. Some cheesy lines remained---although, in fairness, the updated dance moves kind of made up for it.
On a personal note, the original was filmed (in part) in my mother's hometown of Lehi, Utah, so I have to admit I was a little disappointed that the old Lehi Roller Mills was nowhere to be seen in this new take--of course,Lehi is no longer the tiny town it was 30 years ago, and I think the aforementioned Roller Mills now has a Walmart and a Taco John's on either side, which probably wouldn't contribute to that small town feeling they were aiming for. Change is inevitable I guess.
THE UGLY: Normally this is the part of my review where I sound off about people or plotlines in the movie that were just BEYOND unbearable, but this time around, I have very little to complain about. However, if Southern redneck trailer trash offends you, be warned that Chuck Cranston (played by Patrick John Flueger) and his buddies are about one step away from hillbilly inbreds. Still, they aren't nearly as offensive as I thought Lori Singer (the actress who played the original 'Ariel') was. Just sayin'.
Although I will always love the original version of Footloose-despite it's bad wardrobe choices-this 2011 version has given me a whole new cast to appreciate and new dance moves to incorporate into my repertoire---well, maybe in my head at least. Maybe I can even convince my son that THIS Footloose is actually sort of cool. Or whatever word they use now for "really good".
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 4 trophies.
Footloose has a running time of 1 hr 53 minutes and is rated PG13 for some teen drug and alcohol use, sexual content, violence, and language. (No F words)
10/12/2011 Dolphin Tale - Recent Reviews
It's a wonderful thing, albeit rare, when Hollywood decides to make a movie that takes a real life event and turns it into 113 minutes of entertainment for the whole family. Knowing ahead of time how much my daughter and I both love dolphins, and how much of a sucker I am for a "makes you cry-but in a GOOD way" type of film, I had high hopes for this one. Let me tell you what they got right---and where they should have stepped away.
THE GOOD: The movie is based on a true story of 'Winter', a young dolphin who becomes tangled in a fishing net, causing irreversible damage to her tail. On his way to school, Sawyer (played by Nathan Gamble) sees her stranded on the shore and with his help, frees her from the ropes and assists with the local marine hospital in coming to her rescue. Sawyer is a shy and directionless kid whose father has run off, and Sawyer's mom Lorraine (Ashley Judd) is the single mom trying to make ends meet and feeling helpless that her son seems to be floundering. But when Sawyer's involvement with this Dolphin rescue comes to light, she begins to notice something in her son that she had given up hope of ever seeing---happiness and purpose.
Of course we all know that dolphin's would be hard pressed to swim without their tails, and since Winter's tail has to be surgically removed due to the damage, this leaves the main storyline in full focus---how to build a prosthetic tail for a dolphin. To the rescue is Dr. Cameron McCarthy (played by Morgan Freeman) who is gainfully employed at a Veteran's hospital making artificial limbs for wounded soldiers, but is soon convinced by young Sawyer that Winter needs a second chance at life as well. The complications of making a tail that Winter won't reject, along with the impending doom of the faltering marine hospital which is in overwhelming debt, with the likelihood of being purchased by a multimillionaire looking to tear it down to build a hotel---all combine to present enormous obstacles. You feel frustrated at the failed attempts and silently cheer for the light which begins to appear at the proverbial end of the tunnel. Coupled with a sweet, if somewhat over the top, performance from newcomer Cozi Zuehlsdorff who plays Sawyer's young friend Hazel and the daughter of Dr. Clay Haskell (played by Harry Connick Jr.), the marine biologist who is fighting to keep Winter alive-and his hospital in the black---the film is charming and teaches a nice lesson about overcoming difficulties in our lives, and not being afraid to give something your all, even if the odds are against you. There is also a weird seagull named Roofus that follows people around and adds some comical relief---don't be surprised if that is one of the main things your kids remember about the movie. But it is Winter (played by Winter herself) that steals the show. If you don't have a soft spot in your heart for dolphins, I just can't help you-you've somehow been born without a sensitive side. I'm a dog lover at heart, but if there was a way to have a dolphin lounge on the couch with my basset hound, I would adopt one in a heartbeat.
THE BAD: As previously mentioned, I enjoy a good cathartic cry, and I fully expected to shed some tears during this movie. The problem I found was that the filmmakers seemed to try just a little TOO hard to rip those tears out of you--and it felt forced. Yes, there were a few moments where I felt genuinely misty, but for the majority of the time, it seemed as though every line and every element of the story was being calculated to push you to whimper a little. In this particular case, less is more......and I think some of the side storylines were added just to evoke even more emotion (Sawyer's dad being a deadbeat, Sawyer's cousin going off to war, Sawyer's classmates not liking him, ad nauseum). Maybe it was because they didn't think they had enough material to make a full length movie out of the story itself, or making they just thought that it just wasn't a real movie about a dolphin unless people were sobbing in the aisles---in either case, they were mistaken. Another misstep was also the fact that, despite the talented actors they had on board, no one, with the exception of maybe Morgan Freeman, gave a great performance. The acting was bordering on cheesy, and felt almost as if you were watching a made for tv afterschool special. That being said, my 9 year old daughter loved it and never once turned to me and said "I wish the characters would more fully develop their personas and give me something I could USE!" Kids are funny like that. Give them a cute dolphin, a weird bird and a box of candy, and it's pretty much the best night of their lives.
THE UGLY: I noted earlier that one of the obstacles in the story featured a multimillionaire (played by Tom Nowicki) looking to purchase the failing hospital and the land it sits on, in order to build a luxury hotel. When he finally shows his face, I'm pretty sure my mouth fell open as I thought to myself "THIS is the guy they picked to play a rich real estate tycoon?! With all that money, he has teeth like THAT?!!" I'm sure I missed the point of the whole storyline, but really. They have people that can fix that for you. Take one less luxury cruise to the Mediterranean, and make an appointment.
Dolphin Tale is a sweet family movie that kids will enjoy and parents, at the very least, won't regret going to. Don't waste your time and money seeing it in 3D .It's my opinion that there weren't enough moments during the film where 3D would have made that much of an impact. DO however, stay for the last 5 minutes or so, where actual film footage of Winter's rescue and rehabilitation is shown---for me, that was where the actual tears happened as I watched children and adults with missing limbs spending time with Winter and being inspired by her will to overcome.
The trophy wife gives this movie 3 Â½ trophies.
Dolphin Tale is rated PG for some thematic elements.
09/27/2011 Moneyball - Recent Reviews
It's as if Hollywood has heard all my internal silent screaming, begging them to STOP already with the aliens, Superhero's, and general lack of thought. Give me something intelligent, and real-something that makes me feel like I didn't just light that $10 bill on fire and sit in a dark room for 90 minutes. Well, hello 'Moneyball'----you have given me hope.
THE GOOD: Let's get one thing straight, right up front here-I don't like baseball. I went to one professional game of the Colorado Rockies years ago---who they were playing has been long forgotten and probably wasn't even something I noticed at the time anyway--and the only thing I enjoyed about it was how cute one of the players was. Taking it even further, I don't understand the whole "sports fanatic" mentality of ANY sport. Women who lose their husbands to a giant screen t.v. for months on end, men who become absolutely ENRAGED when some guy in black and white stripes has the audacity to point down the field in what is CLEARLY the wrong direction. The obscenely overpaid athletes who seem bent on self destructing right before our eyes. And don't get me started on the whole face and body paint thing. Or giant cheese hats. So, you can understand that I had my reservations about this movie, and quite frankly, 10 minutes into it I found myself thinking "Well, at least Brad Pitt is pretty, and will serve as a focal point for me to get through this". So knowing my total lack of interest in this sport, imagine my surprise when I found myself actually ENJOYING watching baseball. If you don't know the premise of the storyline, this is a semi-biographical story of Billy Beane (Brad Pitt doing the honors), General Manager of the Oakland A's and his effort to assemble a winning team with very little funding, based on a computer based analysis of statistics. With the help of Ivy League graduate Peter Brand (played beautifully by Jonah Hill), they begin signing players that "experts" have labeled as flawed, but have the potential to make up a winning team. The dialogue is amazingly 'unscripted'-feeling. And watching the process of building this new ball club leaves you hoping against hope that it will work. It's a smart movie, with moments of humor that are so real, you feel like you are part of the team, not an audience member. Brad Pitt has emerged into an amazing actor and his timing in this movie is just spot on. He's nice to look at too. There's definitely that.
THE BAD: The movie has a slow start, which is why I found myself early on worrying that Brad was going to have to carry the whole thing on the merits of his looks alone. Maybe the director was trying to establish the anguish Billy Beane was feeling after another in a long line of losses. He got the anguish part right at least. It does pick up quickly after that, so just hang in there. There is also a side story of Billy's ex-wife (Robin Wright) and daughter (Kerris Dorsey) that might have been nice to have developed just a little more-it's never really clear what went wrong, but whatever it was, she obviously ended up with all his money. And a dorky new husband. Probably the weirdest part in the storyline, however, was when Billy was getting ready to put his 12 year old daughter on a plane back to mom after a visit with him. The little girl expresses her concern about her dad's career and future, and in an effort to take her mind off of it, he offers up something along the lines of "Why are you so worried about me? You should be more worried about that plane you're getting on-those things crash you know!" Giant epic parenting fail. I think it was meant to be funny, but as a parent---and someone who is deathly afraid of flying---I couldn't imagine saying something so stupid to your child. But what do I know? I think giant foam fingers are silly too.
THE UGLY: Apparently, it is fundamentally necessary to SPIT as a baseball player. No one knows exactly why, but the game just isn't worth playing if these men don't have a giant wad of something in their bottom lip. Can you imagine if all sports had this unwritten requirement? Sunflower shells all over the tennis courts, big wads of chaw littering the swimming pool. It would be total chaos. And gross. Don't forget gross.
So don't misunderstand me: I still don't like baseball and I will forever be grateful for a husband who DOESN'T park his butt on the couch to watch the playoffs-of ANYTHING. But whether you are a sports fan or not, this film will leave you feeling like you got your money's worth. It's a statistical certainty.
The Trophy Wife gives this 4 Â½ trophies.
Moneyball has a running time of 133 minutes and is rated PG 13 for strong language. (F word used twice)
9/18/2011 Warrior - Recent Reviews
If you've seen the previews for 'Warrior', you may have already decided that if you aren't a big fan of UFC and/or Mixed Martial Art fighting, this movie isn't for you. Don't make that mistake. There's a much deeper storyline here, and it's absolutely worth your time to experience it.
THE GOOD: I am not by any stretch of imagination a fan of fighting as entertainment; if my husband only had a dollar for every time I've walked out of the room when he was watching UFC........but this movie is just so much more than a modern day Rocky. The story centers around two brothers, Brendan and Tommy, whose lives have taken completely opposite directions, after a wretchedly dysfunctional childhood leaves them estranged from their father-and each other. Both find themselves with their own personal dilemmas and demons that bring them to the ring, and the audience is left to decide whose battle is greater-and whose intentions are less self serving. Yes, it's obvious from the beginning of the movie that these two will inevitably end up facing each other in the finals. But it shows the true merit of the overall story that you can know a lot about what's going to happen, yet you are still eager to find out HOW it's going to happen. And the way in which the entire family dynamic unfolds leaves you with an emotional attachment of sorts to each character. The cast in this film---which includes Nick Nolte, Tom Hardy, and Joel Edgerton---is surprisingly first rate, and I would be absolutely dumbfounded if this doesn't at least end up being nominated for an Oscar. Yes, I believe it's THAT good.
THE BAD: Normally, I find it relatively simple to find something--ANYTHING--in a movie that could have been improved on or changed altogether. I need to be completely honest and tell you that I have been writing this review for 3 days now, and I am coming up empty. I am literally at a loss. Yes, there are difficult emotional scenes, and no doubt the physical beatdowns can be hard to watch as well. But they all make up what is fantastic about this film. I wouldn't change a single thing. And I would bet you'll agree with me.
THE UGLY: Despite the rave review I am giving this film and it's actors, it IS about fighting---so be prepared for some blood, bruises, and disturbingly in one scene--the sound of broken bones. And, let's face it-there's more than a handful of guys in this profession who aren't going to win any beauty pageants, so there's definitely THAT to contend with as well.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 5 trophies.
Warrior is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense mixed martial arts fighting, some language and thematic material (F-word used once)
9/14/11 Contagion - Recent Reviews
Here's some well directed advice: If you have been diagnosed with OCD, or are a certified germaphobe, don't see this movie. Just skip it. You'll thank me for saving you from a complete and utter mental breakdown.
And, if you feel that you have any sort of OCD "tendencies", be warned that this film will most likely nudge you right over that little precipice.
The Good: There's nothing like a "worldwide epidemic with no cure" idea to fuel your fears -- and this movie does exactly that. For an almost 2 hour span, we follow the rapid progress of a lethal airborne virus that kills within days. But it's not just the mind boggling number of people dying that grabs your attention in this movie--it's the panic that ensues. Imagine the desperation of grieving family members who can't even hold funeral services for their deceased loved ones because the funeral homes are refusing to accept the infected bodies. Or the added fear that, although you are trying to keep yourself quarantined to your home so you don't catch it, people who are desperate for food -the shelves at the stores are running dry once everyone realizes the enormity of the situation-are breaking into homes and taking things by force. It makes a great argument for being a gun owner. There is just so much chaos that it almost leaves you feeling as though the people who die are actually the LUCKY ones. And let me just add here that there truly wasn't one moment of bad acting, due to the stellar cast which includes people like Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow, and my personal favorite: Jude Law. It is a flat out smart and scary film that does justice to the possibility of a global outbreak of something unknown and untreatable, and focuses not only on the dead, but the enormous challenges for the living.
The Bad: As much as I have to praise this film for its realistic portrayal of something so frightening, I WOULD like to know who the genius was that suggested that this movie be released as we are coming head on into Flu season---are you kidding me? I was dousing myself with hand sanitizer throughout the entire movie, and when someone in the movie theater began coughing, I almost yelled out "that's not funny!" As if people aren't paranoid enough about the Bird and Swine Flu going around, the movie industry decided that September would be a FANTASTIC time to release this film. Pot-stirrers.
The Ugly: Early on in the movie there is a REALLY graphic autopsy scene that involves a person's head being buzz sawed open and the face being flopped forward. My two movie companions were close to dry heaving and I was curled up in the fetal position. SWEET MOTHER OF ALL THAT IS RIGHT AND GOOD. You can't un-see that. And speaking of things no one wants to see: what was the deal with making Jude Law have Billy Bob Hillbilly teeth?? Apparently they were afraid that people would only remember him for winning sexiest man of the year award back in 2004 and not take him seriously as a freelance reporter that was researching a cure for the disease. Problem solved, let's just give him buck teeth. It was like a train wreck, I couldn't stop staring at them.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 4 trophies, wiped down with bleach.
Contagion is rated PG13 for disturbing images and some language. (F word used once)
9/6/2011 Apollo 18 - Recent Reviews
Well, here's some good news for what I would imagine is a small demographic of people: If you've been thinking to yourself "You know, they just don't make enough 'conspiracy theory/Blair Witch Project/aliens that look like rocks and want to kill us' movies that are set in SPACE!"---get ready to rejoice. Hollywood has managed to dredge up this piece of work for you.
The Good: Allow me to get right to the point here, because I don't believe in putting a skirt on a skunk -the only good part of this movie is that it had POTENTIAL to be good.
The underlying premise of this film is that the Apollo 18 mission to the moon that was officially cancelled, was, in fact, actually launched secretly in December 1974, and never returned. It sounds promising, but the entire movie is one tedious clip after another of "lost footage" from the mission that three astronauts were chosen to carry out, only to discover once they are on the moon, that they are governmental guinea pigs, and that-SURPRISE-the government is very aware of everything these poor space cowboys are finding out firsthand.
It's not that the underlying idea of this movie is a bad one. In fact, I was completely on board with the concept of there being a secret mission to the moon and finding out that another country had beat us there, with all the national security issues that might entail. And if the writers had only made THAT their focus of the movie, we might be having a different conversation than the one we are having now. But no, once again, someone felt a movie just wouldn't be complete without alien creatures whose sole purpose of existing is to decimate the human race.
The Bad: You should know this--- I'm not a huge fan of any type of horror film genre. In fact, I am the proverbial giant weenie when it comes to anything to do with people being attacked by unknown forces and creepy stuff in general, so I was steeling myself for what was coming my way. And I admit that I did jump a handful of times ---mostly because of things that kept flying at the camera. There seemed to be an odd sort of "made you blink!" game going on. The real problem with this movie, aside from the aforementioned items, is that when filmmakers try to convince you that you are watching "lost footage" reels, they have to make most of those tapes pretty boring or mundane, so that it builds up to the whole purpose of releasing these tapes in the first place. Unfortunately this leaves you with an enormous amount of time to get bored and check your watch. If this gives you any indication of what I'm saying, my 14 year old son who was with me started playing a game on his phone about halfway through the movie, and I only made him stop out of courtesy to the other movie goers around us. Put another way, for those who have read my previous reviews: I would rather watch a 24 hour loop reeled marathon of Cowboys and Aliens, than sit through this little number again.
The Ugly: If there is an upside to the alien beings in this movie, it's the fact that we weren't forced to endure another giant hulking bug rendition like always. You will, however, feel like you just wandered into a "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie when you see what the visionaries DID have in mind for our extraterrestrial buddies. And for those who are squeamish when it comes to blood, you will want to avert your eyes when one of these little suckers has to be removed in a makeshift surgical procedure from one of our fearless cosmonauts. Not to worry, Swiss army knife to the rescue. Shudder.
If only the writers had taken the time to develop the characters for me, I might have actually CARED about their ultimate fate. As it turns out, I just kept wondering how these so called lost tapes survived everything. And to be perfectly honest, the only time I felt like screaming was when I looked at my watch about 30 minutes in and thought to myself "I wish someone was removing an alien from my stomach with a pocket knife, instead of being here for another hour" I think I've made myself clear on how bad this movie was.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 1 trophy.
Apollo 18 is rated PG 13 for brief partial nudity, frightening and intense scenes, some gore, and brief strong language (F word screamed once)
8/23/11 One Day - Recent Reviews
As a rule, people generally walk out of a movie with a pretty clear idea of how they felt about it: either it was outstanding, a complete waste of time and money, or, the vast majority of the time, simply 90 minutes of average entertainment. The problem I am having with this particular film is that, even 24 hours later, I STILL don't know what to think of it.
THE GOOD: The movie starts off with us meeting Dexter and Emma (played by Jim Sturgess and Anne Hathaway, respectively), who have just graduated from college and begin forming their slightly warped friendship/ "sort of" romance. Over the next 20 years, we meet them on or around their "anniversary" of August 15th and get glimpses--some longer than others--of what is taking place in their lives at that time. The emotions definately aren't lacking in this movie, as we watch the characters struggle through the many familiar changes and disappointments that life inevitably provides for all of us. From working a job we hate to pay the bills, to waking up one day and saying "this isn't how I planned for it to be", the list of events in this movie are things we can all relate to on some level. Anne Hathaway does an admirable job of playing the British Emma, a woman who lacks self confidence, and is sort of frumpy in the beginning--but you can't help but like her and want to see her succeed at changing the world--and Dexter. Jim Sturgess does a MASTERFUL job of playing the self absorbed dirtbag who can't seem to keep his pants zipped up. One has to wonder during a good part of this film why Emma even WANTS to be friends with this guy, he is just that obnoxious. The scenery--filmed in England ,France, and Scotland--is beautiful, and the different eras of time are well portrayed by the styles of music and dress. I, for one, took great nostalgic delight in seeing glimpses of the 80's during the movie.
THE BAD: When I first saw the previews for this movie, I marked it as a "have to see" because it appeared to be just the type of film I go for--something with a "Pride and Prejudice" feel to it, and you walk out feeling like love overcomes everything---I am unapologetically the sappy type. But I couldn't help but feel a little bit betrayed, because this movie wasn't what I expected. I had hoped for a little more witty banter, and although British humor isn't for everyone, alot of it fell flat, even for someone like me who adores that style of dry comedy. And yes, this movie is a tear jerker, but not in the fairy tale ending like you might be hoping for, so be prepared. I am not a fan of spoilers, but let's just say that you won't walk out of this one thinking " well, isn't that a nice way to end it!" Seriously, I think I literally walked around in a fog for about 3 hours afterwards, feeling as if 'Id been run over by a dog sledding team. In other words, if you are feeling slightly blue or flat out suicidal, perhaps this isn't the time to check out this particular movie.
THE UGLY: I have 4 words for you--naked senior citizen yoga. If that doesn't stir up enough negative mental images, I dont know what to tell you. But don't say I didn't warn you. There is also a horribly disturbing accident scene, that left me gasping out loud. It was shockingly real feeling,and I doubt I will ever forget it.
I WANTED to love this movie, and I didn't. But in fairness I can't say it was not worth seeing either---and maybe that just means that it falls into the category of something that's worth spending your entertainment dollars on--IF you aren't on antidepressants.
The Trophy Wife gives this 3 and 1/2 trophies.
One Day is rated PG-13 for adult themes and situations, alcohol and drug references, nudity, and language (F word used once)
8/12/11 Cowboys and Aliens - Recent Reviews
Some things just aren't meant to go together: Steak and grape jelly. Bermuda shorts and black dress socks. Your grandmother and Facebook. And for good measure, let's throw in Cowboys and Aliens.
From the moment I saw the previews of this one, the only thing that kept rolling through my mind was "What is going on?! Are things so bad that Indiana Jones is just signing on to ANYTHING?" Yes.Yes they are.
THE GOOD: So we have a man named Lonergan (Daniel Craig) who wakes up in the desert with a nasty gaping hole in his side, and a weird iron bracelet on his wrist. He has no clue who he is or how he got there, but one thing that's not in question is that he has fighting credentials. He can take out a whole group of armed cowboys with only a small amount of grunting. He eventually wanders into the nearby town of Absolution, where he finds himself unwelcomed by just about everyone but Ella (Olivia Wilde) who follows him around like a puppy and clearly starts to get on his nerves. He also has the pleasure of meeting Col. Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) who seems to be the one running the town, albeit not in a kind and orderly way. And then we have the real villains of the movie, the gargoyle/crablike creatures who are flying overhead and snatching people up with some sort of bungee cord and hauling them away for experimental surgeries. Lonergan, Dolarhyde and the rest of what's left of the townspeople team up with the local Apaches to bring all this madness to an end. If only.
In fairness, Harrison Ford does an outstanding job of making you not like him, which is surprising because despite his usual cranky demeanor in most films, he is always able to pull off an underlying charmingness. For the majority of this film, he's just mean, and you wish someone would just slap him upside the head. So, kudos to Mr. Ford for achieving that bad guy persona, and convincing you of it's reality. On another positive note, the alien creatures were memorable and creepy. I'm still not sure, however, why we insist on aliens always looking like giant bugs. Is there NO chance that, if they exist, they don't look just a LITTLE bit like a human? But I digress.
THE BAD: I can't specifically point to the acting as being the downfall of this film, although Craig comes across as very mechanical and Olivia Wilde never seems to blink. For all intents and purposes, the cast works nicely, but it's the very basis of the storyline that just doesn't hold together for me. I realize of course that anything to do with Aliens is a far stretch from reality, and clearly this movie was meant to entertain, not to be a documentary. But I think when you have a cowboy jumping from a HORSE, onto a flying saucer to save the woman he is irritated by, maybe you have jumped that train from implausible to just plain silly. I literally laughed out loud at this part, and I'm pretty sure it wasn't meant to be funny.
THE UGLY: Given this all goes down in the wild west, there ARE some pretty gruesome lookers to be found--bathtubs were not abundant in these places. But clearly the ugly award goes to the outer space demons who hulk around when they walk, and run upside down on ceilings like spider monkeys when they really want to move. Again, I don't mean to pound this into the ground, but let's just TRY to envision alien beings as something other than giant insects who only want to dissect us and steal our resources. It's getting old.
The trophy wife gives this 2 Trophies, and I'm being generous because I like Harrison Ford.
Cowboys and Aliens has a running time of 1 hr and 58 minutes and is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of western and sci-fi action and violence, some partial nudity and a brief crude reference.
8/11/11 The Help - Recent Reviews
The problem with taking an amazing book and making it into an equally amazing movie is that, understandably, you can't possibly fit EVERYTHING from the story into 2 hours of screen time, but The Help comes about as close as humanly possible to making sure all the key moments are covered, and it does it beautifully.
THE GOOD: Adapted from the controversial novel by Kathryn Stockett, The Help is a fictional account of a time in our nation's history that was all too real: White families in the South and the Black women who worked for them. We meet "Skeeter" Phelan (played by Emma Stone), an ambitious Ole Miss graduate whose driving force in life is to be a writer, and on the advice of a New York publisher (Mary Steenburgen) makes the life altering decision to write about something that bothers her-and doesn't seem to bother others---the racial inequality and intolerance that is so abundant around her. Skeeter chooses to interview her best friend's housekeeper, Aibileen (Viola Davis) to find out exactly how she feels about the families she works for-a dangerous proposition for both sides to be engaging in, given the laws and social climate of the time. Soon Aibileen is joined by other maids who want to tell their story, and those stories are a bizarre mixture of families whose babies were raised almost entirely by the black housekeepers, babies that loved these women more than their own mothers, yet grew to be adults who then treated their own "Help" with distain and ignorance. The entire cast gives Oscar-worthy performances, including those of Aibileen's friend Minny (Octavia Spencer) whose own story is both hysterical and heartbreaking. Simply put, this movie will put you through the ringer emotionally, and that's a good thing, because it means it told the story it meant to tell.
THE BAD: Because I have also read the book, I naturally was aware of certain things in the story that did NOT make it into the film, and I have to admit that I would have liked to see a few more details included to help develop your feel for the characters,but then you can only fit so much into two hours, and maybe in this case, less is more.
THE UGLY: In the sense of things that were terribly wrong with the movie or that in my opinion should not have been included, there is absolutely nothing I can point to. However, it's important to remember that this story is about racial issues, so some of the situations can be tough to watch, as well as one scene of a toddler being spanked that just about did me in (it was implied, not actually shown). Be warned that the content in this movie is not always comfortable to stomach--and frankly, it shouldn't be.
The trophy wife gives this movie 5 trophies!!!
The Help has a running time of 2 hrs and 26 minutes. It is rated PG13 for thematic material and some language. (No Fbombs)
8/5/2011 Crazy Stupid Love - Recent Reviews
Every once in a while, a movie comes along that actually is as funny as the preview leads you to believe-I'm happy to report that this is one of those times.
THE GOOD: Steve Carrell (of 'The Office' acclaim) does a magnificent job of playing Cal, the pathetic middle aged man who has been blindsided by his wife's announcement that, after 20+ years, she wants a divorce. Oh and by the way, she's having an affair. He tumbles into a depression and spends his time at the neighborhood bar, whining to anyone who will listen about his misfortune. And this is where we first meet Jacob, the ultimate ladies man (played by Ryan Gosling), who is so disgusted by Cal's behavior, that he decides to teach him how to pick up beautiful women. Ladies, you will be surprised to learn that, apparently, the key to being impressed by a man is NOT him being his authentic self, but rather, the fact that he dresses in Italian suits, and uses lines that leave you no choice but to go home with him. Looking like Ryan Gosling doesn't hurt either. The comedy level of this movie is definitely at its highest as Jacob is helping Cal to "be better than the Gap" and lose his Velcro wallet.
THE BAD: If there was anything that could be considered actually 'bad' about this film, it was the fact that, clearly, we were supposed to feel some sympathy for Cal's ex wife (Julianne Moore), who dumped him in an obvious fit of mid life crisis and then had second thoughts about her actions once the choice had been made. Rest assured that if Cal had been the philandering, "I'm bored with my life and I'm moving on to greener pastures" spouse in the equation, no one would have been rooting for the wife to take HIM back.
THE UGLY: The movie actually has several story lines going on, including Jacob's attitude altering fascination with Hannah, who is obviously the only woman on the face of God's green earth that DOESN'T want to go home with him, and that ends up capturing his heart. But the story line that could have been left out completely is the one where Cal's teenage son has a thing for the slightly older teenage babysitter (who in turn has a thing for Cal.) I won't attempt to give any details here, but suffice it to say that the way they portrayed this kid's "puppy love" for the babysitter was creepy. Just plain icky. Yuck.
The Trophy Wife gives this one 4 Â½ trophies.
Crazy Stupid Love has a running time of 1Hr 58min and is rated PG-13 due to coarse
humor, sexual content, and language. (F word used once)