Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Quantum of Solace

I hadn't blogged about a movie in a while, but that doesn't mean that I haven't seen any movies. In fact, I've probably watched more movies than ever. I seem to have almost stopped watching tv altogether and occupy my entire free time at night with a movies. Don't get me wrong. I'm not watching movies all night. The truth is that the kids and the wife usually go to bed around 9pm, leaving me on my own for an hour an a half or so. Rather than wasting my time watching the horrible mix of shows that the major networks dump on us, I watch movies. It usually takes me 2 nights to watch an entire movie. I enjoy it as it is mindless entertainment. I love to read, but work and kids and everything else leaves me too tired to read much at night.

So today's posting is about a movie that I didn't watch at home - Quantum of Solace. My supervisor takes my coworker and me to the movies as presents. That's fine with me. I had a supervisor who gave Starbucks giftcards. Sounds great - if you drink coffee, which I don't. I don't need crap, so the movies are the perfect gift.

So Quantum of Solace is the newest James Bond movie and it is a sequel to Casino Royale. Not many James Bond movies are sequels (I think not since the early 1970's), but this one is an exception.

If you recall, in Casino Royale, the always attractive French Eva Green (check out The Dreamers) played Vesper Lynd. She was the treasury agent assigned to watch the money that he lost in a high-stakes poker game when he was trying to get close to Le Chiffre. He ended up falling in love with her, only to find out she stole the money that was being used in the game, and then she died. However, he learned that she did what she did to spare his life and now he was out to avenger her death.

Back to Quantum of Solace. Bond ends up pursuing Dominic Greene, the quasi-evil-environmentalist along with new lady hottie, Olga Kurylenko, who is also seeking revenge. Bond, again, threatens to resign from the agency and M (Judy Dench) lays the hammer down on him to keep him at bay. But like a good Bond character he is more resourceful than they give him credit. M questions whether he is pursuing this missing from as an agent or as someone seeking revenge. We all know the answer. The long pursuit sends Bond through Bolivia cities and finally into the Bolivian desert. The movie includes many twists and double-crosses and is very similar in style (Surprise!) to Casino Royale.

I don't want to write too much about the movie because I recommend that you see it for yourself. But as a review of the movie, I would have to agree with Roger Ebert, which would parallel my opinion of the Casino Royale. Quantum of Solace, while a great action movie, is so different as a James Bond movie that I have a difficult time buying into the new style. Roger Ebert says that James Bond is not Jason Bourne. I agree. Too much of the movie was focused on fighting, running, chasing, blowing up, and shooting. In my opinion, the only opinion that matters, James Bond should be more about dialog, deception, critical thinking, and analysis, and most importantly - chasing women.

So from a ratings perspective, I'll rate this movie from a non-James Bond point-of-view. This is a GREAT action movie. Lots of excitement, suspense, and treachery. I give this movie 4 stars. It is rated PG-13 for violence, some language, and sexual innuendo.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Throttled Again

I think Netflix has to meet a quota of how many times they throttle a guy in a month. Today was my day. I returned Horton Hears A Who!, which they got today. I have 3 movies that are available NOW, but they couldn't seem to find them. Slackers! Now it says they'll try again tomorrow.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Fred Claus

Every year there has to be a Christmas movie. It's the law. And usually the Christmas movie sucks. I present Deck the Halls, Christmas With the Kranks, The Santa Clause 1, 2 and 3, and Jack Frost . I dare you to challenge me on that one. I've even heard that Christmas movies are where actors and actresses go to die.

Fortunately, despite some reviews by the pundits, Fred Claus is actually not that bad. It stars Vince Vaughn as Santa Claus' brother. Fred grew up the older brother of Santa, played by John Adams, I mean Paul Giamatti. Santa is the carefree, jovial kid who has good intentions, but seems to be making life miserable for his older brother Fred, who's more down to Earth.


"Why can't you be more like your brother Nick?" This is what Fred heard all his life. Fred was never as good as Nick and resented his mother for all of the attention that Santa got. So Fred skipped town, only to struggle through life with bitterness and failure. Santa, meanwhile, went on to become the bearer of gifts on Christmas Eve.

Meanwhile, Fred gets into a bit of a bind and needs money, which Santa agrees to give him if Fred agrees to come to the North Pole and work for it and help him get through the Christmas season. Fred agrees and the drama ensures.

To add to the fun, Kevin Spacey plays the mischievious accountant that works for the government who's inspecting the North Pole operations, which Santa must prove is in working order so that he can maintain control over this domain.

The movie is full of laughs, lots of site gags and slapstick humor. Vince Vaughn plays the best character that he knows - Vince Vaughn without the potty mouth. Fred Claus is rated PG for some mild language and some rude humor, per Netflix. It was decent enough that I didn't feel bad allowing my 6 year-old son to watch it.

The movie also stars Kathy Bates as the Claus' mother, Ludacris (who was hysterically midgetized), and Elizabeth Banks as Fred's girlfriend.

Overall I give this movie 4 stars. This is a great movie to watch with your family, which is important to do at the holidays.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Operation Petticoat

I have been trying to see the classics for a couple of years now. I'm not so sure that Operation Petticoat is considered a classic, but it does star Tony Curtiss (father of Jamie Lee) and Cary Grant, who is a classic actor. The movie was directed by Blake Edwards, director of the infamous Pink Panther movies and Breakfast at Tiffany's. The movie even casts minor roles for Marion Ross (Happy Days) and Dick Sargent (I Dream of Jeanie).

Operation Petticoat is a comedy about the U.S.S. Sea Tiger, a U.S. submarine during World War II. The movie follows the zany adventures of the sub and it's eclectic and often times dysfunctional crew members.

The movie starts off with an attack on the naval base and the Sea Tiger is sunk. Cary Grant (Lt. Commander Sherman) is given permission to raise and repair his ship, but only with a skeleton crew. Furthermore, he is given Naval dandy supply officer Lt. JG Nicholas Holden (Curtiss). Holden's naval experience does not exceed organizing some social activities for the Officers' Ladies Club.

Because of the shortage of supplies, Cmd Sherman cannot repair his ship. Holden, however, uses ingenuity and comes up with the supplies through some creative acquisitions.

Once off at sea, they attack a ship near an island, only to learn that some American nurses are trying to escape. The rest of the movie deals with interactions between the men and the women and Captain Sherman trying to maintain some sort of normalcy on their voyage. Things are only complicated when the ship needs to be primed and painted because of the recent repairs. The paint situations causes them to paint the ship pink.

This movie is clever and classical funny from the days of yore, not the in-your-face kind of funny of today's movies. Operation Petticoat was made in 1959, the same year that Grant starred in the critically acclaimed North By Northwest. Had it been rated by today's standards, it probably would have been rated PG-13 for theatrical violence and some sexual undertones.

I give this movie 4 stars. I enjoyed it, but remember that I have a bias towards older movies. But this one is in color, so don't be too afraid to watch it.

Brigadoon

Another "talkie" as my wife puts it. Brigadoon is the classic musical from 1954 starring Gene Kelley and Cyd Charrise.

Set in Scotland, Tommy Albright (Kelley) and Jeff Douglass (Van Johnson) are in Scotland hunting when they come across this hamlet set in the hills. This hamlet, however, is not on the map. They decide to explore the area and discover a town that seems to be stuck in the past. Everyone is dressed as if it were 200 years ago. The town they have found is Brigadoon.

Also during this day a wedding is planned for Jean Campbell, the sister of Fiona Campbell (Charrise). Albright and Kelley meet and they fall in love and sing lots of songs. Albright learns that the town was put under a spell. It is to sleep for 100 years and awaken for only 1 day. So to the people of Brigadoon, only 2 days have passed over the last 200 years. The problem is that if anyone leaves Brigadoon then the spell will be broken, but everyone will disappear and be gone forever.

Oh, the conundrum. True love is found, but cannot be held. Is their love strong enough to find an answer to their problem?

Brigadoon was directed by Vincente Minnelli, the same director of An American in Paris, another Gene Kelley movie, Meet Me in St. Louis, and Father of the Bride.

The movie predates the MPAA rating system, but would probably deserve the PG rating since people are smoking and drinking. The movie is 108 minutes long and about 100 minutes of that is singing. So if you like singing, this movie is for you. I give this movie 3 stars. It has a compelling storyline, but just a bit too much song and dance for me.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

WALL-E

Hyped as one of the best PIXAR movies of all-time, this movie generated over $485 million in the theatre. After I got through the first 20 minutes of previews and the musically fancy and important production and ownership logos flashing across the screen, we finally made it to the actual movie.

WALL-E is a little robot, similar to Short-Circuit, but a little dumber. WALL-E appears to be living in a lifeless world in the future. His primary objective is to scoop and compact trash into tiny neat squares and stack them into tall buildings. He is cleaning the Earth. Unfortunately, though, it appears he is the only WALL-E type machine left to do the cleaning.

EVE is introduced to the Earth by a probing robot to determine if there is any life left. WALL-E falls in love, robotically, of course. EVE leaves Earth and WALL-E is determined to go with her. He wants her to stay. He is the robot with a personality who wants companionship, sort of like weak-minding salesmen.

EVE is sent back to the mother ship where all of the Earth people are living. WALL-E is now trapped, but wants to find EVE and get her back to Earth. There is the subliminal, or maybe not so subliminal, struggle between man and robot as read in Isaac Asimov's I Robot, not much unlike Will Smith's I, Robot. There are the 3 Laws of Robotics that help govern the relationship between man and robot. PIXAR did a good job of incorporating this.

You'll notice the voices of several people including John Ratzenberger (Cheers), Sigourney Weaver, and Fred Willard.

Overall, I thought the movie was okay. It wasn't great, though I heard a lot of acclamation for the movie and it was really hyped by the over-caffeinated movie critic crowd. My wife, the science-fiction detesting loving wife that she is, said that this was the worst movie she ever saw - worse than Star Wars. Take that as you may.

Upon informing a friend of my wife's comments, she replied, "Mrs. Eludius does not have a heart." That's not a logical statement. My wife has no mechanical electrodes that detect the emotional presence of other mechanical beings.

The movie is about 1:38 minutes long and is rated G, which means there's not too much to look forward to in the movie if you're over 12 years old. WALL-E wasn't horrible, but I'm in no hurry to see it again. I give it a 3.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

On Her Majesty's Secret Service

As I've mentioned before, I'm a sucker for a James Bond movie. I know. The movies are usually hokey. He always gets the girl. Or, more accurately, he gets lots of girls. I think this makes him a slut. But I'm still drawn to the movie and I'm going to make you read about it.


On Comcast OnDemand this week they have several James Bond movies. I am still in the cycle of trying to rewatch the movies as I have seen them all at one point, but many I haven't seen for 20 years. On Her Majesty's Secret Service is one of those that I have not seen in a long time.


After playing James Bond for several movies, Sean Connery stepped down and George Lazenby was selected. Some interesting points - it was the only Bond movie for George. He later went on to star in some more important movies - the Emmanuel series of European skin flicks. Connery later returned and did another Bond movie before the role was offered to Timothy Dalton.

No, you say. It went to Roger Moore. Correct. Timothy Dalton turned down the offer saying that he was too young for the role. He went on to star in Flash Gordon and Roger Moore became the new James Bond. Dalton was reoffered the role after Moore retired from the role.

Another interesting note is in one scene a janitor is seen emptying the trash and whistling the theme to Goldfinger.


But enough about that. This movie is actually the third in the trilogy. Wait - there are +25 James Bond movies! Correct. However, there was a trilogy in the series. Many of the movies dealt with the evil scientist and his organization known as SPECTRE. However, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and Diamonds are Forever are the trilogy of an ongoing story line. SPECTRE continued to make appearances in later Bond movies, but a new terrorist organization known as Quantum is the new villain in both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.


The story line of OHMSS, Bond is initially relieved of his duty and resigns, but Money Penny cleverly changes his resignation into a request for a leave of absence. Bond uses this as an opportunity to infiltrate SPECTRE to absolve himself of a perceived failure. However, along the way he keeps running into and eventually falls in love with Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo. In my opinion, she is one of the most influential characters in all of the Bond movies and she is mentioned in later movies, including The Spy Who Loved Me, License To Kill, and in For Your Eyes Only.


Back to OHMSS, Bond is able to infiltrate SPECTRE, which eventually leads to him being discovered, a gun battle, and his ultimate escape. This follows most of the Bond movie plots. In the end, Contessa Teresa helps him escape. Their love is stronger than ever and Bond asks her to marry him. They get married and they drive away eventually stopping on a cliff-side perch to remove flowers from the car. A passing car containing Blofield opened fire on them and Tracy is killed. The ending is emotional and Bond is visibly distraught, almost to the point of denial. As mentioned previously, she is mentioned in later movies and in For Your Eyes Only, Bond lays a wreath on her gravestone.


Of the Bond movies that I have seen (I have yet to see Quantum of Solace), I think On Her Majesty's Secret Service is one of the best movies. Lazenby was an excellent Bond and one can only imagine how successful he would have been had he stayed with the character.


Overall, I give this movie 4 stars. There is a lot of gun violence, explosions, subtle sexual references, some not so subtle sexual references, and some partial nudity, not that there's anything wrong with that.


If you're a Bond fan, don't forget about this movie. It's one of the best.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Another Netflix Delay

Apparently Netflix can't find any movies that are available. Hey Netflix - how about the first movie on my F-in list!!! Its says Expected Availability - NOW.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

Get Smart

I saw Get Smart in the theater 25 times. Would you believe on bootleg copy before it was released on DVD? How about last Tuesday?

Steve Carell stars as Maxwell Smart, the quirky gizmo-loving detective for the American intelligence agency known as CONTROL. We works along side Agent-99, played by the young and beautiful Anne Hathaway.

As you will remember from the Mel Brooks-produced 1960's show, Maxwell Smart fought against the implied Russian agency known as KAOS. Always lucky, but never Smart, he always seemed to get his man, though with a heavy hand from Agent-99. If you were born in the 1980's, you're definitely thinking right now, "Get Smart was a TV show in the 1960's???"

This movie adaption of the TV show has many familiar faces, such as former wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, former Sesame Street star Alan Arkin, and a Godfather, James Caan. And this movie does not disappoint. They cleverly included many of the sight-gags and vernacular of the original TV show. Steve Carell is funny, as he usually is. And Anne Hathaway is sexy - as she has been since the day she turned 18. Prior to that day, this editor had no relevant opinion of her.

Get Smart is 110 minutes long, 10 minutes short of 2 hours. It is rated PG-13 for some crude humor, mild violence, language, and would you believe plentiful nudity? If you blinked, then you missed it by that much.

I really liked this movie and I give it 4 stars. Make sure you see this movie.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

THX 1138

Ever see the beginning of a movie and the far away to close sound check with THX is on the screen? Ever wonder what that is? Well, it is part of George Lucas' production company. And THX was the character in one of his earliest films.

THX 1138 was a character played by Robert Duvall in the movie of the same name. Lucas started producing the movie in 1969 and it was shown in 1971. It is a very futuristic science fiction movie. Many of the scenes do not appear to go together and there is very little dialog. For those of you who don't like thinking movies - stay away. Stay far away. This movie makes you think. And it's the actions of the characters that make you think. Or perhaps the lack of dialog that make you think.

One thing that I thought about during the movie is how similar this could be to George Orwell's 1984. It definitely appeared as if the government was in charge of everything, including mind control, destiny, and prescription drugs, though that may not be far off from the current truth.

In the movie people are drugged up and not allowed any free thought or action. Instructions are given by "Big Brother" throughout the movie. One day Duvall decides to not take his mind controlling drugs and then hooks up with a girl, which is illegal. Both are removed and sent to some sort of endless walled prison. Duvall then spends the rest of the movie trying to escape.

I found it interesting that during the chase Big Brother was providing budget statistics for each action, which determined future actions. Another point of interest was during an explosion at the police manufacturing plan (where they manufacture police robots). After the clean-up, a friendly Big Brother voice informs the other workers that the explosion killed x amount of people, bringing that group' death toll to 200 and some, which is lower than their department's death toll, so keep up the good work!

The only reason that I got this movie was because I knew that George Lucas had produced it in or just out of film school. If I had watched this movie without any knowledge, I would have thought it to be totally nuts. However, knowing that it was a Lucas production, I actually caught glimpses of Star Wars in the making. A lot of the settings and electronic communications reeked of Star Wars. I'm not sure if it is worth watching the movie to see this, but I found it interesting.

THX 1138 is rated R for sexuality, nudity, and scientific confusion. The movie is 88 minutes long, but seems a lot longer since there is very little dialog. I gave this movie 3 stars, but would have given it 2 1/2 if Netflix would have allowed it. It's not the kind of movie that I would normally like, but science fiction fanatics would probably love this movie.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Journey to the Center of the Earth

I always get the newly released "kids" movies because I'm a great dad, right? This week I got Journey to the Center of the Earth starring Brendan Frasier. I figured it would be a great action movie that would keep their interest and I recall seeing a dinosaur in the preview.

Nothing keeps my son's attention better than dinosaurs. This movie should not be confused with the Jules Verne book of the same name. This movie does not follow the same story line. Brendan Frasier does mention the book, but in this movie, his brother had traveled to the center of the Earth and was never seen again. Now Brendan is going back and looking for him, but he takes his 13 year old nephew and an attractive field guide. What's an action movie without an attractive young field guide?

There is action throughout the movie, though most of it is unrealistic with a lot of "whoa's" and "ahhh!"'s. And everyone always escapes in the nick of time. It reminded me a lot of the National Treasure movies - lot's of action, but lot's of luck.

My kids started losing interest in the movie about 1 hour into it. I kept the movie on, but started losing interest myself. Of course, Frasier saves the day and everything is fine in the end.

The movie is rated PG for intense adventure action, some scary moments, and a brief kiss between Brendan Frasier and Anita Briem. Fortunately, it is also only 92 minutes long, so it ended in time for me to get the kids in bed.

The movie also has a note indicating that it is appropriate for kids 8 and older. Most likely, the movie is only interesting for kids 8 years old.

Despite not wanting to finish watching the movie, my kids gave this movie 4 1/2 stars. I personally gave it 2 stars. It is not an adult adventure movie and most adults would not find this movie enjoyable. So take my multi-rating into consideration.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Netflix Delay

I checked Netflix at 6:15 in the morning on Friday the 24th and it indicated that they had already received my movie that I dropped in the mail on Thursday. This got me excited. It said that the next available movie would go out today, meaning Friday.

I had Path to War, the 2002 movie with Alec Baldwin. I also added Billy Bathgate, a 1991 movie with Dustin Hoffman. Both movies indicated that they are available Now. Also in the queue is War, Inc, which has a Very Long Wait.

Which movie did I get? None! All day it indicated that I would get the next movie today. Then around 3pm it changed to show that my next movie would come on Monday. As of right now it still says the next movie will be shipped today. I removed Path to War and Billy Bathgate and I am hoping to get Journey to the Center of the Earth, which releases tomorrow.

My wife keeps telling me to drop Netflix because of their shenanigans and go with Red Box. I like the option of seeing older movies, which you cannot do with Red Box. But I'm starting to agree with her.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Don't Mess With the Zohan

There is a club that many in Hollywood are trying hard to avoid. It's tragic prerequisites have been met by many well-known actors such as Robin Williams, Mike Myers, and Kevin Neland, though there is some controversy on him. This club is the People Who Used To Be Funny Club.

Recently I watched Don't Mess With the Zohan and was afraid that Adam Sandler was getting ready to be added to the club. Fortunately for Sandler, the second half of the movie was funnier than the first half.

Zohan is a top Israeli secret agent who secretly wants to become a hair stylist. To do so, he fakes his own death and escapes to New York City where all former Israeli secret agents go when they want to become hair stylists. Not lacking in confidence, he wants everyone to know how hot he is emphasizing the early 1980's Paul Mitchell styling catalog that he owns.

Of course Zohan meets a girl and her shop is in danger of being closed. But he's there to help. However, through his triumphs comes a challenge from his former nemesis. Will this divide New York's Jewish and Arabic populations? Tensions are high and no one's sure who to blame. But the Zohan will save the day! The movie also stars Rob Schneider, a half Jew, who plays Salim, an Arab. I thought it was funny.

The movie is slap-stick corny and punks a lot of different movies. If you can appreciate it for what it is, the movie is average funny. If you're looking for cerebral humor, you will be disappointed.

I have to say that Adam Sandler is in great shape. If you didn't know that Zohan was him, you probably wouldn't know it between all the hair, the accent, and the muscular build. Not that I'm checking him out, just observing his appearance.

Don't Mess With the Zohan is a zanny comedy that is rated PG-13 for simulated violence, strong sexual content throughout, language, and brief nudity. Don't get excited. It's Adam Sandler's butt.

Overall I give this movie 3 stars. It's okay funny, not great funny. But if you can see it, watch it. If you miss it, don't fret.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing

If you've ever seen Grease with Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta you'll be pleasantly surprised by the opening of Love Is A Many Splendored Thing. And if Olivia Newton-John married John Travolta, would her name be Olivia Newton-John Travolta? Or Elton John - Olivia Newton-John John. Or Wayne Newton - Olivia Newton-John Newton. Or John Wayne - Olivia Newton-John Wayne. Or if she married John Wayne first then married Wayne Netwon - Olivia Newton-John Wayne Newton?

Back to the point. Remember when Sandy and Danny were rolling around in the surf at the beach before the opening credits of Grease? I know you do. The song that was playing was Love Is A Many Splendored Thing, and you'll be surprised that it is the theme song to said movie.

The movie stars William Holden as Mark Elliott, a journalist during the Korean War, and Jennifer Jones who plays Dr. Han Suyin, a Eurasian doctor in Hong Kong. Unfortunately, at the time Asian or mixed-Asian actors were not widely used except for minor roles, so Jones had some eye-work to make her look slightly Asian.

The two stars meet, but find that society shuns them because of their different races. Holden continues to pursue her, but as luck would have it, she is fired from her job from the hospital. He meets her family but it is evident that they do not accept him. Finally, he is sent off to Korea as fighting increases and she longs for him to return.

I'm sure in the mid-1950's, this was a sad and romantic tale. By modern standards it is a bit predictable. To Jones' credit, she was nominated for Best Actress for the movie and the movie itself was nominated for numerous theatrical categories for a movie, including Best Music, Best Sound Recording, Best Cinematography, etc…

The movie was produced in 1955, well before the highly secret society called the MPAA was created. However, if it had been rated, I'm sure that it would have been PG. The most scandalous thing in the movie is them kissing on the beach and him having admitted that he was still married. I don't even think William Holden threw a punch. An interesting note is that the movie spawned the soap opera of the same name, which lasted from 1967 to 1973 and starred Donna Mills.

As classic movies go, this one is pretty good. There are others that I would recommend first, but if you ever come across it, it's not bad. I give this movie 4 stars.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Cruel Intentions

A friend recommended this movie to me based on the fact that I have a secret obsession for Reese Witherspoon. Oh, crap, it's not a secret anymore!

Anyway, Cruel Intentions is a 1999 movie that stars Reese Witherspoon as Annette, the daughter of the head master of a private school. She's Miss Perfect and made a pledge to stay pure until her wedding, at which time I'll assume she'll be impure. However, Kathryn (Sarah Michelle Geller) has some other plans. She challenges her step brother Sebastian (Ryan Phillippe) to deflower the headmaster's daughter before the school year starts. If he succeeds, his step-sister will let him have sex with her. Hmmm…a bit unconventional. If he loses, she gets his prized car.

To add to the mix Selma Bair plays the absolutely ding-bat sex-crazed idiot, who, at the time, was already 27 years old playing a high school girl. She is sent there by her mother, but sometime in the past she had stolen a boyfriend from Kathryn, so Kathryn is out to ruin her. Though not graphic in nature, she has a difficult time keeping her legs closed - and I'm not talking about any nudity. Just a lack of social norms. It's quite amusing.

The whole twist in the plot is that while Sebastian is trying to win his bet, he inadvertently falls in love with Annette. His challenge now is does he stay faithful to the bet or to the girl that he has fallen in love with?

The sinister plot is interesting in this movie. Sebastian keeps a diary which he names Cruel Intentions, listing his conquests. For the most part, the acting is what you would expect from a movie staring a bunch of young adults. Okay, but maybe a bit over-dramatic. And in death, the acting was a bit silly.

The movie is Rated R for strong sexual situations including a long-lasting lesbian kiss, and Reese Witherspoon having sex (uh-oh, did I spoil anything?), some strong language, 2 guys being caught together in their underwear in bed, and implied oral sex. Oh, and sex, and adult sexual situations and sex. But again, no nudity, unless you count Ryan Phillippe's butt, and I do not.

Overall, this movie was interesting. I'd probably see it again. I'll give it 4 stars. Reese Witherspoon, not with her fork, may be the tipping point for me.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

88 Minutes

Hoo-whaa! Al Pacino is in another movie. And what makes Al Pacino so great is the way he talks. If he talked like anyone else, he wouldn't be interesting.

88 Minutes stars Al Pacino who plays FBI forensics expert and law teacher Dr. Jack Gramm who was an expert witness for a trial of the Seattle Slayer, which led to the conviction and recommendation of execution of Jon Forster (Neal McDonough).

Forster's brutal murders were unique in that he used some chemical to sedate his victims, then hung them upside-down, and committed some unseen act, which led to some blood being shed which caused them to die. The unseen act is part of the mystery of his method.

However, trouble brews when another victim dies in an identical manner just hours before Forster's scheduled execution. And to make matters worse, Dr. Gramm gets a phone call informing him that he has 88 minutes to live.

Throughout the movie he is reminded of the number of minutes he has to live while he tries vigorously to track down this mystery person. Meanwhile, he starts to suspect that all of the students in his law class are the culprit.

This thriller certainly kept my attention as I was unable to pin the perpetrator of the crimes. However, clues were too conveniently distributed near the end at just the right moment, not giving the viewer the ability to use the clues and figure out for themselves what was going on.

Of course it's not until the end when it all comes together, a culmination of events that I believe most people would not have suspected, but again, one of convenience for the director. It was like a Scooby-Doo mystery where very few clues are given and Fred and Velma explain what happens in the end.

This movie is Rated R for violence, language, disturbing scenes, and an unrealistic reference to someone being a fan of the Seattle Mariners. The movie is an hour and 40 minutes long. The movie also stars Alicia Witt, Leelee Sobieski, Amy Brenneman, and William Forsythe, names I know little if anything about.

I certainly didn't hate the movie, but I wish I was given more opportunity to figure it out. Al Pacino certainly makes a movie interesting and I found myself imitating his quirky statements in additional to randomly yelling out, "Hoo-wha", which for those of you in your 20's is a reference to Scent of Woman.

I give this movie 3 stars. It was okay. Not great, but not bad either. And how do you like the French poster? Couldn't find an English one, not that I looked that much.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Funny Face

The 1950's can often be considered the paramount of film production. Many classic movies were made, including Ben-Hur, Rebel Without A Cause, On the Waterfront, Singing in the Rain, and to some degree Old Yeller. It was also the beginning of the end of the musical.

Luckily for me, the library decided to stock up on some classics for their DVD catalog rather than all this newfangled crap that kids these days watch.

Funny Face is a classic musical staring Fred Astaire as Dick Avery and Audrey Hepburn and Jo, the attractive starlet with no relation to Katherine Hepburn.

In this movie, Dick works for a fashion magazine and they are looking for that new hot face. They want an intelligent, sophisticated look to their model, so they take her to a bookstore for a photo shoot. Much to Jo's chagrin, the uninvited guests trash the bookstore.

However, after reviewing the photographs, Dick decides that it is Jo they need for the photo shoot. Unfortunately, Jo wants nothing to do with the magazine, but after some finagling, they convince her to do it and head off to Paris. Along the way, Jo and Dick start to fall in love, which is kind of weird because he was, what 40 years older than her???

Unlike many other classic musicals, this one contains no songs that I knew. I am usually pleasantly surprised when I watch an old film and hear a song I know. This was not the case with Funny Face.

Funny Face is not rated because it's too old, but if it had to be rated, I think it would be PG for smoking and some romance. The movie is 103 minutes long, and is in color. This is important information when reviewing a movie in the 1950's!

I have a bias in reviewing this movie. I like Audrey Hepburn. I loved her in Breakfast at Tiffany's, Sabrina, and My Fair Lady. I have Roman Holiday on my list of movies to see. I give this movie 4 stars. I have an appreciation for classic movies, for musicals, and for Audrey Hepburn. Enough said.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Netflix Logic

So my last movie made it back to Netflix today. First on my list? Forgetting Sarah Marshall. It's availability? Available NOW. What did I get? 88 Minutes. Where was that on my list? 10th. Tenth! How can they not find the top 9 movies? Netflix, I cannot understand why you are doing this to me. I haven't been flipping movies at the 2-per week rate in a while. Are you holding a grudge? Can't you give me a break? I'm going to start using Red Box.

The Love Guru

I am not having much luck with picking good movies lately. As I think I have said before, if you want to throwback to your middle school days and the humor that appealed to you at that time, then this movie is for you.

In The Love Guru, Mike Myers stars as Guru Pitka, a white guy that saw his family die while they were in India. He is then raised by the cross-eyed Guru Tugginmypudha, because cross-eyed guys are hysterical. Oh, and funny Indian names are hysterical, too, apparently.

Anyway, Jessica Alba comes to GP as the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs (yes, that's Leafs, not Leaves) who has a player, Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco) (no relation to Jeremy Roenick), who is in a funk and the team needs him to win the Stanley Cup. However, Roanoke's girl, Prudence (Meagan Good) has fallen for his nemessis, goalie Jacques "The Cock" Grande (Justin Timberlake). It is up to GP to help Roanoke refocus and maybe even get back with his girl.

The penis and vagina jokes are rampant in this movie. Ha-ha. Yes, I get it. And yes, I heard it before. There were a few jokes that actually made me laugh, like the Quebequen pizza comment, but it was a mostly a slap-stick with a lot of lines and action that must have been inside jokes between Myers and that other cast members.

If you are a die-hard Saturday Night Live fan, you probably think almost anything is funny. For the rest of us, spare yourself.

The Love Guru is rated PG-13 for continuous crude and sexual content, drug references, language, and downright bigotry. At least they didn't make hockey look that bad. Fortunately, the movie was only 87 minutes long. It ended in just enough time for me to catch the last half of Hogan's Heroes.

I gave this movie 2 stars. Had it not been for Jessica Alba and her pretty smile and cute butt, this movie would have been intolerable. If you're not a Jessica Alba fan (and I cannot understand why you wouldn't), don't waste your time.

Netflix Delay

For the record, Netflix had trouble finding a movie to send me last Thursday despite 8 movies be available NOW, so they delayed sending me a movie until Friday, meaning I got it on Saturday and couldn't have it back to them until Tuesday. I wonder what my turnaround average is with them. I'm sure it's less than 70%. I should keep track if it in a spreadsheet.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Leatherheads

George Clooney has been named the "Sexiest Man Alive" two times by People magazine, the world authority on sexiness. They've obviously never met me.

Clooney stars in Leatherheads as a football player set in 1920's. Football is just starting to take hold of the public's interest and the league is struggling to make a name for itself. Unfortunately, many teams are folding and Clooney soon finds himself out of a job. He hears of a star player and a potential game in another city, so he boards a train to meet this owner.

There he meets Renée Zellwigger, a conniving, yet sassy reporter. Clooney is immediately attracted to her, though I couldn't imagine that he was attracted to her looks. I've never understood what makes people think she's all that, cuz' she ain't!

So anyway, the owner agrees to the game and Clooney rounds up former team mates. In the meantime, Zellwigger is trying to get the scoop on this new young star (not Clooney, cuz he's old). So she's playing both hands with these guys. And if one finds out about the other or her secret story, all hells going to break loose.

The movie had some interest as it seemed to represent the football era fairly accurately (or at least as accurately as we are told it resembles).

Leatherheads is rated PG-13 for language and fighting and an illegal formation. The movie is nearly 2 hours long. And the middle seems longer than the ends.

Overall, I give this movie 3 stars, and this is on the low end of three. It was okay. I certainly have no desire to see it again. It was just, you know, okay.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Lions For Lambs

Honestly, Tom Cruise hasn't made a decent movie since Top Gun. There are some that will argue that Cocktail was a good movie. No it wasn't. Eyes Wide Shut? People only liked that movie because of the gratuitous nakedness. And Mission Impossible? More like Mission Imposter.


So when Lions For Lambs came out, I should have known better. It stars Tom Cruise as a Senator who's working on a new strategy in the war on terror. What drew me to the movie was that it was directed my Robert Redford, a decent actor. However, Meryl Streep was also in it. Not so decent.


In this movie, we are presented with 3 plots - Robert Redford as a professor at a college trying to engage a student whom he thinks has potential. Tom Cruise is in a dialog with Streep, a reporter to one of the big newspapers. He is trying to promote the new strategy. And finally, some troops have been deployed to Afghanistan to implement this new strategy and they are getting creamed.


Almost the entire time I kept thinking, when is this movie going to start? Where is it going? I figured the 3 had to be tied together by more than circumstantial activities. But no. That was the movie. Was anything resolved? Nope. Conflict resolution? Was there conflict? Good feelings at the end. Nada. What was the point of this movie? I know it was a jab at the Bush Adminsitration, not that I have a problem with that. Are we supposed to start looking at the bigger picture in life? Maybe.


I think this is the type of movie where you need to watch the directors cut or his interview at the end so that you can understand what the hell his intention was. As far as entertainment value, this movie had none.


Lions For Lambs is 92 minutes long, but it's a long and agonizing 92 minutes. The movie is rated R for violence, if you can make out the violence on the dark blue on black screen that is supposed to be night, and some language. Overall, I give this movie 2 stars. I figure there's some point in there somewhere and I can understand actors and directors using their stage as a place to push their agenda. But at least make it somewhat entertaining. Booo!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Made of Honor

Be weary of a guy named McDreamy. I'm sure the Irish and Scottish do not have sire names as such.

Patrick Dempsey (Tom), who stars as the nicknamed Dr. McDreamy on Grey's Anatomy, stars with Michelle Monaghan (Hannah), who was born in Winthrop, Iowa, no relation to Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina. How he got to be considered a sex symbol is beyond my comprehension. This is they guy who starred as the nerdy Meyer Lansky in Mobsters. If he can be a sex symbol, then I am Sex.

So anyway, Made of Honor is a romantic comedy about a young college girl who gets wooed by a misogynistic sex perv who thought he was hopping in bed with his girlfriend. Both have this attraction to one another for their brutal honesty with each other. This honesty leads to a long-lasting friendship.

However, this friendship takes its biggest challenge when Hannah flies off to Scotland for 6 weeks for her job. In her absence, Tom suddenly realizes that he has stronger feelings for her than realized. He decides to tell her when she returns, but upon her return she presents him with a fiance. To add salt to the wound, Hannah asks Tom to be her maid of honor. Her fiance, interestingly, starred in an episode of Grey's Anatomy. I this makes me wonder which came first, the chicken or the fiance?

Tom is now stricken with the fatalistic decision - help her get married and be the best maid of honor and let her be happy, or tell her his true feelings and hope to stop the marriage. I think you know where this is going.

This is a common formula for romantic comedies. Guy likes girl. Girl likes guy. Girl gets tired of waiting for guy. Girl finds another guy. First guy must now win back girl. Works like a charm.

This movie is wrought with predictability. It does have some good humor, but it does lack part of the necessary formula for a guy-appealing romantic comedy - it lacks hot girls. Michelle Monoghan is cute, but in an average girl kind of way, but not to the point where I feel partially in love with her (at least in love with her character).

This 2008 movie is 100 minutes long and is rated PG-13 for some sexual content, language, and a fat girl. I give this movie 3 stars. It's okay. It's entertaining, but not one that I'd be clamoring to see again.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Speed Racer

If anyone thinks they don't know any Japanimation, they know Speed Racer. Speed was the race car hero of the mid/late 60's and 70's. This is where people talked fast and jumped high. Where cars could jump and kids could get away with hiding in the trunks of rally cars.

The new movie is made by the Wachowski brothers, makers of The Matrix and incorporates much of the special effects of its predecessors.

When I first started watching the movie, I got caught up in how unrealistic it was. How goofy the personalities were. And how silly the scenery was. But then before finishing the movie last night, I realized that the cartoon was the same way. It was quirky. We didn't think about it when we were growing up because we were stupid kids. Now we're stupid adults.

Many of the same characters from the cartoon are back: Speed (Emile Hirsch), Trixie (Christina Ricci), Pops (John Goodman), Racer X (Matthew Fox), Mama Racer (Susan Sarandon) and Speed's brother, Rex Racer (Scott Porter). And let's not forget about Spritle, and Chim-Chim. Some of the plot lines are different. You'll only notice if you were a big Speed Racer fan. If you weren't, then you won't miss anything.

In this adventure, Speed is racing in the big Casa Cristo 5000, a road rally which Pops forbids him to race. He is fighting against big corporations who are out to control the races, fix the winners, and pay off the racers. Speed refuses to play this game and pairs up with Racer X and Taejo Togokhan to expose the corruption.

Conflict comes about with Taejo and Speed and Racer X pair up for the final race, one that Speed hopes to finally rid the sport of its evil influence and return respect to his family name. Secrets are revealed at the end, but to the non-cultured eye, you won't know what you're watching.

The movie is filled with cartoon-ish images, entire sequences of digital animation, and ridiculous fight scenes. The scene transitions are quirky and could be annoying. However, remember this film is meant to emulate the original cartoon. And there is definitely a heavy hand from the artistic licensing. But this is what makes the movie great. When the movie is over, watch the credits as you'll get a treat with the musical score from the original cartoon, along with some original dialog.

The movie is rated PG for violence and some language and is about 2 hours and 10 minutes long. I would not recommend this movie for epileptics. You'll go nuts.

I give this movie 4 stars, but remember, it s live-person movie made to be like the cartoon. Keep this in mind while you're watching. My only criticism is that they didn't talk fast enough and get as excited as the cartoon characters. "Speed! You won this time, but this isn't the end! We'll get you next time!!!"

Monday, September 15, 2008

Baby Mama

I had the pleasure of watching Baby Mama on Sunday night. It stars Sarah Palin as a mother of a teenage daughter who gets pregnant and….What? Not quite? That's the other story? Sorry.

Let me try again. Baby Mama stars Tina Fey, who played Sarah Palin on SNL, as Kate Holbrooke, an unmarried, but successful business woman in her late 30's who cannot seem to conceive a child and decides to hire a surrogate.

SNL star Amy Poehler stars with her longtime friend and coworker as Angie, the hired surrogate. Angie, unlike Kate, is less than successful, as you can quickly decipher with her husband Carl.

This hillarious comedy stars Steve Martin as Kate's "earthy" boss, Sigourney Weaver as Chaffey Bicknell, the coordinator of surrogates, Greg Kinnear as the guy that falls for Kate, and Siobhan Fallon as the willwy funny birfing teachel wif da hooj speech impediment. Greatest line in the movie: "Who here is opting for injecting eastern culture toxins into their body for their own selfish pleasure?"

Surprisingly Angie and Carl have a fight and Angie decides to move into Kate's place. Kate is, let's say, a little redneck, while Kate, on the other hand, is probably far above Pottery Barn. So clashes between these two resulting from their totally different socio-economic upbringings makes for funny scenes. However, Angie has a little secret that may tear the two apart at the same time Kate is falling for Rob Ackerman (Kinnear). What is interesting is that Kinnear is running a smoothie shop, similar to the one he was running in Feast of Love.

Like all good romantic comedies this one has a happy ending, though probably not the one you expected, though I picked up on it with about 15 minutes left.

The movie is rated PG-13 for some sexual humor, some naughty words, some minor drug reference, and a bitchin' redneck Camaro. The movie is 99 minutes long, as many minutes as there are red balloons. I gave this movie 4 stars. My wife would have enjoyed watching this movie with me had she been able to stay awake past 9:30. Maybe she'll sneak it in during the day.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What Happens In Vegas

I claim not to like Cameron Diaz very much, but when I look at her resume, I can say that I like a lot of her movies. From The Mask, Something About Mary, Shrek, to the movies where she's a dirtball, like Being John Malkovich and Gangs of New York. She dated a dirtball for a while. Maybe that's why I have a negative image of her. I know I just lost my female audience aged 18-28.

Anyway, What Happens In Vegas stars the aforementioned Cameron Diaz (who's 13 days younger than me) and Ashton Kutcher. Which makes me think - Diaz dated Timberlake, someone who could be her much younger brother. And Kutcher is married to his mom. Well, Demi Moore is not really his mom, but she may have gone to high school with her.

Back to the movie, Diaz ends up getting dumped by her fiance' at his birthday party and Kutcher gets fired by his dad. That evening, their respective friends agree to take them to Las Vegas to have fun and get a fresh start. The couples end up getting double-booked in the same room, leading to a small scuffle, but ultimately to a couple of penthouse suites and a bunch of free amenities. By the end of the evening, the couple ends up super drunk and married.

The next day, they realize their mistake and the inevitability of an annulment. However, they have a brief fight, she walks away and with her quarter, he hits the slot machine and wins $3 million.

The 2 end up court to get divorced and split the money. However, Judge Dennis Miller, on hiatus from making jokes so obscure that linguists are left puzzled, decides that the 2 cannot get divorced for 6 months, and, in fact, must live together that entire time and receive marriage counseling.

The remainder of the movie has the couple trying to outdo each other in an effort to ruin each other's ability to get the money. The movie is enhanced with perennial idiot Rob Coddry (Harold & Kumar, Semi-Pro, & the Heartbreak Kid) and Lake Bell (Over Her Dead Body).

What Happens In Vegas is rated PG-13 for sexual humor, crude humor, language, drug references, and some violence. The movie a little over an hour and 30 minutes long. I give this movie 4 stars. I laughed enough throughout the movie to justify this rating.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay

I'm not sure that I can write an unbias review of this movie. The one thing that stands out in my mind just trumps the rest of the movie. But I'll give it the old college try. Let me know how I do.

This is the sequel to the Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle movie that came out in 2004. If I remember this correctly, this is actually the next day, or maybe several days later, despite the 4 year difference. The White Castle movie was very funny and recommended to me by several people. I was not disappointed. However, several subsequent Kal Penn movies sucked gopher balls (Epic Movie, The Rise of Taj).

In this sequel Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo, H and K are going to Amsterdam, mostly to get high and seek out hookers. Kumar is a budding financial person and Harold, well, his father wants him to be a doctor. I think he just wants to get high and seek out hookers. On the flight over the Atlantic, a hysterical woman believes them to be terrorists, a thought which is solidified when she sees him stumble out of the bathroom with something suspicious. Air Marshalls apprehend both of them and they are sent to Guantanamo.

After some antics, they escape and make their way to a friend's house in Miami. This is where the bias sets in. This dude was rebelling against the topless party trend and going with a bottomless party. And they were bottomless. Lots of hinies. Lots of landings strips. Too much for the average male to maintain his composure.

After that there was some more movie, some old girlfriend, her jerk fiance', and a rekindling of Kumar's love for her. No, she did not participate in the party.

There is some comedic value to this movie, but not nearly as much as the first one. The movie is rated R for crude humor, language, "graphic nudity" (it looked real to me!), and drug use. H&K is an hour and 20 minutes long.

I gave this movie 3 stars. The party itself brought the star rating up from a potential 2-star. I wouldn't recommend watching this with your girlfriend. Watch Just Like Heaven with her.

The Hammer

Adam Carolla is one of the funniest people I know. First from his days of Love Line on the radio while I was in grad school. Then it was Love Line on MTV. Finally, the Man Show. This guy is the genius of blue-collar humor. Who else can intertwine construction humor into a comedy routine?

The Hammer, ironically, is about a construction worker, Jerry Ferro, who just turned 40, got fired from his job, and dumped by his girlfriend. He does, however, have a side job as a boxing instructor at the local gym where he starts to build a relationship with Heather (Lindsay Pratt).

While sparring for practice, a top-tier boxing coach spots him and offers him a position with his organization to train for the Olympics. With a little coaxing from his newfound love, he decides to go for it.

Jerry ends up training with 2 other boxers, 1 of which does not get along with him. In fact, they are both in the same weight class. Adam is a southpaw, while the other is a righty.

Unbeknownst to Jerry, the trainer who spotted him has other plans in mind. They plan on going to regionals, then finals to see if they make the team. Will Jerry honestly make the team? Will he learn of the fiendish plot?

This movie is hysterical, especially if you subscribe to Adam's style of humor. The debate in the cashier line at the hardware store is typical Carolla and very funny. Who else can make humor about J-bolts?

The movie is rated R for brief language and some violence. Image a boxing movie with some violence. Additionally, The Hammer is only an hour and a half long. I dig this movie, so I give it 4 stars.

Just Like Heaven

Yes, I'm the guy that's a sucker for a decent chick-flick. And why not? There's not a chick-flick that doesn't contain a good looking girl. Isn't that why it's called a chick-flick?

So anyway, Just Like Heaven stars Reese Witherspoon, my favorite sub 5'2" actress, along with Mark Ruffalo. Reese plays Dr. Elizabeth, an aspiring and caring young doctor who has just been given a position at the hospital, much to the dismay of heartless Dr. Brett who thinks the position belongs to him. Will this heartless doctor come back to haunt her? Hmmmm.....foreshadowing. On her way to her sister's house for a blind date she is involved in a car accident.

The scene switches over to Mark Ruffalo (David) who is moving into the area after his wife passed away and is looking for an apartment. After some comical apartment showcases with his overbearing real estate agent ("My stars! Look at this cute place!"), David finally settles on Elizabeth's old apartment. At this point we assume something must have happened to her.

However, at different points Elizabeth starts showing up and yelling at David to get out of her apartment, but then abruptly disappears. This goes on for a couple of weeks and David begins to think that he's lost his mind. He decides to figure out who this is so that he can deal with this ghost. But strangely over time, they start to become attracted to each other.

Will David find out who she really is and is she really a ghost or is she real? Of course this movie has a happy ending. The funny thing is that my wife kept insisting that I've seen this movie. "Don't you remember the scene in the garden?" "No." Over and over again. None of the movie seemed familiar. Perhaps it's the Alzheimer's.

Just Like Heaven is rated PG-13 for some sexual situations and some potty language. The movie is 95 minutes long. I give this 'chick-flick' 4 stars. Check it out!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Netflix Again

I turned in my movie on Friday, so they got it early Monday morning. There was only one decent movie releasing on Tuesday, What Happens In Vegas. Anticipating that EVERYONE would want that movie I also moved The Man in the Moon right behind it. It said it's availability was "Now".

All day it just sat there. "We expect to ship your next movie today." Finally around 3pm it says that we are getting The Hammer with Adam Corolla. This was like 4th on my list. Whatever. I then get this email:

If the movie was not available, then why are they sending it to me? So now I'm back to getting 1 movie this week.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Star Wars - The Clone Wars

The much anticipated Clone Wars was released in theaters on Friday August 15th. It just so happened that I was on vacation during that week and it also just so happened that my 6 year-old son is a huge Star Wars fan. He begged me to take him and I quickly complied.

Clone Wars in an animated movie with the support of George Lucas that depicts the wars fought between the Republic and the Trade Federation prior to Anakin succumbing to the dark side of the force and creating the evil Russian Empire.

For those that do not know, The Clone Wars is Japanimation. Think Speed Racer and Pokemon meet Star Wars. Movements are accelerated and unrealistic, facial features are exaggerated, and sounds are magnified.

In this movie, Annakin and Obi-Wan Kenobi are busy fighting off an invasion of the battle droids on some planet. Meanwhile, Jabba the Hut's larvae son has been kidnapped. The Jedi suspect Count Dooku is involved, but they must get Kenobi back to help. Meanwhile, Padma Amadala gets wind of the plot and decides to help.

Anakin learns during the battle that he has a Padawan named Ahsoka Tano, which he must teach. However, like himself, she is overly confident and ambitious. Their relationship is a constant struggle throughout the movie.

Things I liked about the movie - the integration of the characters and plot lines that existed in the original 6 Star Wars movies and the fact that my kids and my nephew were glued to the screen for the entire movie.

Things I disliked about the movie - the Japanimation, the fact that they gave the battle droids personalities, and unintelligent personalities at that, the characters' ability to jump upward for 10 stories, and down onto moving objects without falling or missing a step - much like the Chinese in gymnastics (that's another story). And many of the circumstances were way too convenient.

Finally, as you would remember from The Attack of the Clones, the Storm Troopers are clones of Jango Fett. Therefore, they should all look and sound the same, right? Well, Rex, the head Storm Trooper, is clearly from Australia, which is think is on Tatooine, and has a thick accent that the other troopers do not have.

However, I must keep in mind that this movie is more intended for kids and fat single guys who have no life, whereas the original movies are intended for nerds like myself (and fat single guys who have no life).

The movie is rated PG for animated violence, some language, smoking (I think that was Jabba), and some other activities that may contribute to global warming. Clone Wars is 98 minutes long, which for you Baltimore City School students is an hour and a half.

Overall, I thought this movie was not that great. I would probably give it 2 1/2 stars. However, since I was not the intended audience, I let my son rate it. He gives it 5 stars and says that it was the best of all the Star Wars movies.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The FBI Story

Not a very well known movie, but one that I found on the shelf at the library. And I'm a sucker for old movies.

The FBI Story stars Jimmy Stewart as Michael "Chip" Hardesty who joins the FBI just prior to J. Edgar Hoover's reign. The movie then unfolds through his years in the FBI and how it affects his family. His wife Lucy, played by Vera Miles, is torn with his career and her fear of losing him and the constant hopping from one town to another and her desire for a stable happy family.

Stewart is giving a lecture to a new class of recruits and tells his story, which is a narrative of his life. He has run-ins with the Chicago mafia, Nazi's in South America, oil busters in Oklahoma, and bank fraud.

In one interesting scene, indicative of the time, he is chasing the communists. These communists were being un-American, trying to unionize workers to help increase living standards and wages and stand up against the exploitative big businesses. In the 1950's, this was a communist activity. Today, we call this collective bargaining. So it appears that even Jimmy Stewart was anti-working man back in the day.

The movie is a bit long at 2 1/2 hours, but for the time, many movies were that long. (think Lawrence of Arabia and Ben-Hur.) The movie is not rated because it's older than the MPAA and their stupid little rating system, but I would suspect that it would get a PG or PG-13 rating. Jimmy Stewart was caught saying, "Shucks", "Gosh", and the ever explicit "Darn" several times. And there is some gun violence, but no blood, but the victims grasping themselves as they are shot and falling to the ground could be disturbing to some mild-mannered church ladies.

I give this movie 4 stars, because despite the things that I mentioned, it does tell a good story and the story for the most part is accurate. And it's classic Jimmy Stewart. I don't think movie critics are allowed to give Jimmy Stewart movies a rating of less than 4 stars.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Netflix Delay

Despite being on vacation for a week and not seeing any movies during this time....and despite my son losing a movie for several days causing me to not see 2 movies last week...Netflix decided to pretend that the several movies listed at the top of my queue were unavailable after they received my DVD on Tuesday. Therefore, they are sending The Other Boleyn Girl today. So now I will only get 1 movie again this week. I guess when Netflix decides to throttle you, they throttle you hard.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Bank Job

I always enjoy a good movie where the bloke gets his rump kicked by a bunch of wankers. If this sounds like your kind of movie, then you'll love The Bank Job.

This movie is based on true events that occurred in London during 1971 that are commonly called the Baker Street Robbery. In this event, robbers tunnelled from a store front, under a Chicken Fast restaurant, and then under the vault of a bank on the corner. There they pilfered the boxes of all of the contents, including some scandalous photos.

Some of the photos obtained were purportedly of Princess Margaret getting naked and romping the room with some Jamaican drug trafficker. The problem is that while the bank robbery is going down, a ham-radio operator hears what is going on and reports it to the bobbies. Unfortunately, he has no idea where it's coming from, so the authorities have to go to every bank in the area and check them out.

What was interesting was in the credits, they gave an update as to what really happened. Of the x hundreds of boxes that were robbed, the majority of the owners refused to file a police report and identify the missing contents. I would suspect that it contained lots of blackmail material that no one wanted identified.

Subplots in the movie are the romance between 2 of the robbers (yes, one is a woman), the relationship between said woman and a member of M5 or M6 or whatever, the mafia guy and his relationship to Terry (Jason Stratham), the Mafia's tie to the Jamaican, the mafias tie to the Royal Family, etc, etc, etc...

As you can probably expect, there will some shootings, some torture, some arrests, and some people running from the law with hopes of living a new life under a new identity - because they can't arrest everyone or shoot everyone, well they did in Reservoir Dogs, but that's a different movie.

The movie also stars Saffron Burrows as (Martine Love, oh how fitting), Daniel Mays as Dave (pronounced Dive), and a smattering of some other British actors that I've never heard of, but do a good job.

Overall, I would say that this is one of the top 5 movies that I've seen this year. I must admit that the first 30 minutes seemed a little slow, but the rest of the movie grasped my attention and I could not look away. The Bank Job Rated R for violence - lots of it, nudity, violence, British cursing, occasionally incoherent British conversation, and, of course, more violence and language. The movie is 110 minutes long.

I give this movie 4 stars and recommend that you put this in your Netflix queue if you haven't already.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Definitely, Maybe

Definitely a chick-flick, maybe. But as I have said before, I seem to be a sucker for many of these. There are always really cute girls that I like to look at. And usually there's some jackass guy that makes me angry and wonder why hot chicks dig jerks. But I digress.

Definitely, Maybe is an Adam Brooks movie staring Ryan Reynolds (Waiting..., Van Wilder) as Will Hayes, the divorcing father of Maya (Abigail Breslin). When he announces his impending divorce, she throws a tantrum and refuses to talk to him. Finally, good sense comes to her and she decides to throw 4 billion questions at him about his love life and he begins telling her a story of the romantically conflicting time he had with 3 girls.

One of the 3 girls (Isla Fisher, Elizabeth Banks, and Rachel Weisz) would end up being Maya's mother, so throughout the story, she is trying to decide which one she hopes is her mom. To throw her, he changes the name of all of the girls, or so we are led to believe.
In his youth, he meets a hot girl working at the Bill Clinton headquarters in New York City. I told you he was conflicted, right? It's deeper than romance. Anyway, he then meets a girl who is married to/dating a professor (a really old Kevin Kline). And finally, there's the college sweetheart who still lives in Texas. All have their great traits, yet all of them have something that drives him nuts.

A friend of mine said the movie was kind of corny. However, I liked it. Like Maya, I was unable to figure out who the mom was. And there's a nice little twist at the end. See - love does win in the end - at least in the movies. The rest of us are schluffing away at our jobs only to go home and do laundry and the kids to bed.

Another movie meant for my wife that she has yet to watch, I gave this movie 4 stars. There's enough humor and cute girlness that I think the guys will like it. And it's kind of interesting seeing Ryan Reynolds not being a total jerk like in the rest of his movies. The movie is just under 2 hours long and is rated PG-13 for language, sexuality, "frank discussion", and, get this - smoking. Gasp!!!!

10,000 B.C.

Sometimes, CAG (computer animated graphics) can help enhance a movie. The Spiderman series of movies were tolerable. And all of those fantasy-like movies have them - Narnia, Spiderwick Chronicles, Bridge to Tarabithia, etc... However, I think what also makes them successful movies is they also have a good plot and storyline. Not so for B.C. and for several reasons.

In 10,000 B.C., (this is 12,000 years ago!) Gog, Lar, Atouk, or is it D'Leh (Steven Strait), is in a village that gets attacks by an evil war lord and the cast from Mad Maxx, or was it the 10,000 Maniacs? Anyway, they steal his woman, Ooga (Camilla Belle - which if I'm not mistaken is French for too much makeup), and take off with her because they love her makeup and her well manicured hands and feet, let alone that great push-up bra she was wearing. D'Leh is determined to chase them down and get her back. Fortunately for him, she plays Gretel and leaves bits of Ritz crackers and beads from a necklace on the ground, which he is able to find over the hundreds of millions of acres of land on the Earth.

This is a long and perilous journey and what's a trek across Eurasia without running into a 10,000 pound sabre-toothed tiger that he helps set free from a trap. Instead of tearing him to shreds the tiger sniffs him and then together they enjoy a hug and he names him Fluffy.

Then there's the comical woolly-mammoth chase. I think Chevy Chase may have directed that scene. D'Leh then chases the marauders across the mountains, through the plains, through the desert and finally to the Suez canal, but before the British get there, but yet he gets there 5 minutes too late as he got caught up in traffic. He does manage to follow the boats and finds that the villagers had been kidnapped to help build the pyramids, most of which would be built 8000 years after 10,000 B.C. Perhaps they were busy organizing the day labor camps for the illegal immigrants in anticipation of the pyramids that would be built thousands of years later.

And while they were building the pyramids that weren't built for 8000 years, the woolly mammoths were utilized for their great strength to pull large carts of supplies and stone sleds. Using animals to pull carts would become very popular 3000 year later when people starting using animals to pull carts.

So here is D'Leh, 10,000 years ago, in Egypt building the future pyramids along with millions of other slaves. He's ridiculed for his ridiculous French name, but eventually is able to lead a revolt against the evil slave owners, most of them from Mississippi. But would it be in enough time to save his girlfriend with the great tan, the moisturized skin, and the cleanly shaved legs and armpits?

Anyone who has studied history will have a major problem with this movie. There are so many observations that are inconsistent with what we know, plus there's the heavy Americanization or Europeanization of the characters. I'm actually surprised that I didn't see contrails from a Boeing 767 flying over the pyramids.

Fortunately for the viewer obligated to watch the movie because of their subscription to Netflix, 10,000 B.C. is only 109 minutes long. The movie is rated PG-13 for violating documented history, time era violations, inaccurate animal scenes, violence, and actresses wearing too much sun tan lotion.

I give this movie 2 stars. For some reason I didn't hate it enough to give it one star like a Rosie O'Donnell movie, but it was pretty bad and I would recommend avoiding it.

Penelope

What do you do when your daughter receives the brunt of a family curse and ends up with a pig nose? Fake her death and hide her in a home in the country, of course. Christina Ricci stars as Penelope, the cursed girl, who has come of age and is seeking an acceptable suitor who will help end the curse.

Penelope's parents, Catherine O'Hara (the overbearing obnoxious one) and Richard E. Grant (the passive and honest one), arrange for gatherings with male suitors who flee at the first site of her. Unfortunately, Edward Humphrey Vandermann III (Simon Woods - Rome), the son of rich businessman, is one of those suitors and he, like the others, flees when he sees her, but runs to the police to report a monster living in the burbs. Reports of a pig-like ogre with huge fangs that attacked him spread through the newspapers.

In an effort to get her pictures to the press, they evil dudes hire Max (James McAvoy - Atonement, The Last King of Scotland, Narnia), to woo her and take the pictures. Only problem is, standard Hollywood script requires him to fall in love with her and eventually renig on his promise to help cage this monster.

Despite her encounter with Max, Penelope is totally despondant and decides to leave her parents and set out on her own with her mother's stolen credit card. She meets Reese Witherspoon (check out those beautiful eyes) at a bar and who wouldn't want to meet Reese Witherspoon at a bar. They befriend each other until the hired authorities catch up with her. Edward has an evil plan that will help destory her. Will Edward's plan work or will Max be able to win her back? Or will Penelope figure it all out and find love and happiness on her own? Will the curse be broken or will she learn to love despite the curse?
This movie is geared to preteen girls, but adult enough that parents would not be disappointed. My 8 year-old daughter loved the movie, but my 10 year-old nephew who was staying with us for the week did not like it. He was hoping for more high speed car chase scenes and some battle ax fights with snakes and volcanoes. And my 6 year-old son fell asleep 5 minutes into it, which was good.

Penelope was produced by Reese Witherspoon. It is rated PG for some language and mild violence and a scarry pig nose on an otherwise attractive Christina Ricci. The movie is 89 minutes long, just long enough to start and have it end when the kids are good and ready for bed. My daughter gave this movie 4 stars. I probably would have given it 3 stars, but the movie was not intended for me, so we'll go with the 4 stars. (Editor's note: my daughter has never rated a movie less than 4 stars)
 
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