Friday, December 31, 2010

True Grit (2010)

I'm not in the habit of going to the movies. In fact, I cannot remember the last time I went to the movies. It may have been to see I Am Legend, the Will Smith movie. And I'm pretty sure the last movie that my wife and I saw together was Bridges of Madison County. That tells you how much I like going to the movies.

I went to the movies because we subscribe to the Baltimore Sun (that's a newspaper - it's made of paper and is sometimes delivered to your house and has news...sometimes). This newspaper has a contests section and she won 2 tickets to see True Grit. Not being a predictable romantic comedy, my wife had no interest in seeing it. So I rounded up a friend and we went to see the premier in Hunt Valley, Maryland.

True Grit is a remake of the 1969 movie of the same name starring the late John Wayne, Glen Campbell (who used to have a career before the heavy drinking and the run-in's with the law), and Kim Darby.

This new version stars Jeff Bridges as Rooster J. Cogburn, the Marshall for hire, Matt Damon as Texas Ranger La Boeuf (pronounced Le-beef), and Hailee Steinfeld, the up-and-coming 14 year old actress as Mattie Ross, the young girl out to avenge her father's murder, and Josh Brolin as the irrascable Tom Chaney, the murder of said father.

The premise of the movie is that Mattie's father is murdered by a drunkard and she goes to town and hires Rooster Cogburn to find her father's killer and bring him to justice. La Boeuf shows up with a warrant for Chaney's arrest of a different crime. Mattie Ross is a strong determined young lady who will have nothing that is not her way. And together the 3 of them head off into Indian Country to find Chaney.

Though not a comedy, Jeff Bridges plays the character of Cogburn with such flair that it is hysterical. The combination of Rooster with the straight-laced La Boeuf and the head-strong Mattie makes for an excellent combination. Unfortuantely, I had not seen the orignial before I saw this remake. But I must say that I was thoroughly impressed with this movie. In fact, I would say it is my favorite movie of the year. Jeff Bridges deserves an Oscar for his performance. Heck, Hailee Steinfeld deserves one, too.

The movie was directed by the Coen brothers, Ethan and Joel, and produced by them with the support of Scott Rudin, and Steven Spielberg. True Grit is rated PG-13 for violence and a snake.

I give True Grit, the 2010 remake a full 5 stars.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Netflix Throttling

On Tuesday a coworker stopped by my desk with a couple of Netflix DVD's in his hand. This reminded me that I needed to return my Netflix movie. We dropped them into the mailbox at the corner of our building at the same time.

The next day I checked to see which movie I got and my queue still showed my previous DVD. I emailed that coworker and he said that his movies were received and two new movies showed that they were being delivered.

Okay, Netflix. Pretending that you didn't get my movies? It's not like I'm doing anything that violates the rules. You send me the movie on Thursday. I watch the movie on Thursday night. I put the movie back in the mail on Friday morning. Is that worth messing with me?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Cemetery Junction

Ricky Gervais seems to be the biggest British comedian since Mr. Bean. I got a kick out of him in The Invention of Lying, so when I saw that he was in another British comedy, I quickly added it to my queue.

Ricky isn't the star of this Cemetery Juncton, though he stars in it, but he does direct the flick.

Three bloaks from a blue-collar town are deciding their future when Freddie (Christian Cooke) decides to take up the seemingly more successful path of selling life insurance in order to escape his current existence. While making his rounds, he runs into an old girlfriend Julie (Felicity Jones) who happens to be the daughter of the company.

She seems to fold him into her world and now he is faced with having her in his life and keeping up his friendships with the goofy ill-timed profanity spewing Snork (Jack Doolan) and the more suave Bruce (Tom Hughes).

The movie moves a bit slow, and everyone talks with a thick British accent (I know - in a British movie - how crazy!). And if you like jokes about bloaks and poofters, you'll dig this movie. If you have no idea what a bloak or a poofter is, you'll be lost. You definitely need to pay attention to this movie to appreciate it.

Cemetery Junction is rated R for British crude language and some minor sexual references. The movie is 95 minutes long. The movie also stars Ralph Fiennes and Emily Watson.

I need to make a note that I'm not a huge fan of British romantic comedies. Sure, I like Monty Python. And I thought Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels was funny, but I'm just not into the most British comedies. I know some of my friends will be disappointed. I guess I'm not as much of a Tory as they are.

I can only give Cemetery Junction 2.5 stars.

Monday, August 16, 2010



Ben Stiller is always good for laugh. I mean, there was Dodgeball, Zoolander, the two Nights as the Museums, the whole Fockers series. He's not the funniest character out there, but he's funny enough that I'll watch his new movies.

Greenberg is his latest adventure where he plays a neurotic Roger Greenberg who recently gets out of the mental hospital and is asked by his brother to watch their house while they are away on vacation.

Meanwhile, his brother's assistant, Florence (Greta Gerwig), comes around and helps Roger get by with all of the house chores. Since Roger doesn't drive or know anything about dogs, the weak and impressionable Florence is there to help him out.

In the meantime, Roger, who is lonely and looking for a new start in life, starts to fall for Florence, but his violent outbursts and inability to accept any accountability for his actions, begins to wear thin on Florence. Can Roger turn this awkward forced relationship into something romantic that will last, or will like everything else in his life, be something fleeting that just passes him by?

Greenberg was directed by Noah Baumbach, who directed the nearly intolerable Margot at the Wedding. Greenberg is rated R for strong sexuality, language, lots of drug and alcohol use and some minor violence.

Greenberg is definitely a dark comedy. I did fine humor in many of the scenes, though I found everyone to be a bit predictable. The movie is about an hour and 40 minutes long.

The movie also stars Rhys Ifans, Jennifer Jason Leigh (Fast Times at Ridgemont High), and what I hope to be an up-and-coming Brie Larson.

Greenberg wasn't too bad. It's not my favorite Ben Stiller movie, though I have to admit that I'm not a huge fan of dark comedies. However, this one was good enough to earn it 3.1 stars.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Ghost Writer

When Ewen MacGregor is hired to be the ghost writer of a former British Prime Minister, he finds himself in a situation more than he bargained for.

After the first assistant drowns, MacGregor is brought to a secluded island in what appears to be coastal Massachusetts, to write the memoirs of Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan). The conditions that MacGregor is subject to seem a bit odd and he starts to snoop around to find out what is really going on. However, he finds out that there are some important powerful people that will do anything to ensure that certain facts are never known.

There is quite a dramatic ending in many aspects. But some of it seems a bit too convenient as a way to tie the story together.

Directed by pedophile Roman Polanski, The Ghost Writer is a little over 2 hours long and is rated PG-13 for language, brief nudity, some sexuality, some violence and a drug reference.

Also staring in the movie are Kim Katrell as Lang's assistant, James Belushi, Olivia Williams, Timothy Hutton, and Tom Wilkinson.

This movie is so SLOW. There are long scenes of mundane conversation that add very little to the plot of the movie. I know they wanted the suspense, but they added suspense to the suspense. Get on with it! And they ending - give me a break.

I give The Ghost Writer 2.1 stars.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

When in Rome

I had seen a string of guy movies, so I slipped in a romantic comedy for my wife. And after having seen Kristen Bell in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Couples Retreat, I knew I liked what I saw.

When in Rome stars Kristen Bell as single gal Beth Martin in Rome for her sister's wedding where (Alexis Dziena) she meets Nicholas Beamon (Josh Duhamel) where they sort of feed off of each other's clumsiness.

The night turns odd when Beth, all drunk and feeling pitiful when she sees Nicholas with another woman, starts pulling coins and chips out of the water fountain, and magically changing the lives and romantic interests of several guys - Lance (Jon Heder - Napolean Dynamite), Gale (Dax Shepard), Antonio (Will Arnett - Gob from Arrested Development), and Al Russo (Danny DeVito).

These guys nearly qualify as the biggest dorks around. And once Beth learns that her suitors are under a spell, she must find out how to undo the spell so that they stop chasing her. The problem is the one she likes (Nicholas) is also under the spell. Does he really like her because he's under the spell or does he have true feelings for her?

When in Rome also co-stars Don Johnson as Beth's dad and Angelica Houston as Beth's boss, with cameos from Lawrence Taylor and Shaquille O'Neal.

When in Rome is rated PG-13 for some suggestive comments. The movie is 91 minutes too long.

The comedy is zany and goofy and nonsensical. I found myself wanting this movie to be over. And quick. It was so ridiculous. And my wife started hating the movie before I did. Netflix thought I'd give it 4 stars. They were way off on their algorithms. I can only give it 1.9 stars. This one is a pooper.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

From Paris With Love

From Paris With Love stars Jonathan Rhys Myers as James Reece as a low-level bureaucrat at a foreign office in Paris who is looking for that jump up the ladder and the accompanying excitement that it will bring.

Without warning, Reece is thrust into an international espionage ring and teamed with lunatic agent Charlie Wax (John Travolta). Reece gets all the excitement he can handle. Meanwhile, people are getting shot-up, drugs are everywhere, and now he finds himself in grave danger.

To complicate matters, there's a mole in the circle and Reece is forced to confront his biggest fears. For entertainment value, Travolta is an absolute nut who just happens to know everything, sort of like a super agent who's totally lucky ALL the time.

From Paris With Love also stars big names such as Kasia Smutnia, François Bredo, and Mostéfa Stit. It's amazing that director Pierre Morel was able to attract such famous actors.

The movie is rated R for violence, drug use, language, violence, and situations that are much too convenient to resemble reality. From Paris With Love is 93 minutes long, 13 minutes long if you watch it on a faster speed.

While the comedic entertainment value is there, this movie is a no-brainer. You're not really contemplating the intellectual complexity of the crimes. There's nothing to think about. It's all given to you. The only thing you're doing is counting bodies and shaking your darn head at the things that Travolta says.

I give From Paris With Love 2.7 stars.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Book of Eli

So as I mentioned in my previous movie review, there has been a plethora of dystopian movies lately. And here's another one to add to the flaming pile.

The Book of Eli stars Denzel Washington as Eli. Eli is walking across the county, across a deserted wasteland. Again, we're not sure what the apocalypse was, but something happened and everybody is pissed. Chaos is the government of the land.

Along the way, while fighting roving bands of miscreants, he finds Solara (Mila Kunis), the daughter of a blind woman (Jennifer Beals) in a town run by a thug named Carnegie (Gary Oldman). Together they walk across the land fighting evil, hoping to make it to some promise land at the other end.

After beating up everyone in his path and dodging bullets like he was in The Matrix, Eli gets to his destination where hope is planting it's seed.

Directed by Albert and Allen Hughes, The Book of Eli is rated R for violence and language and literary abuse (retelling a story that's already been told). The movie is about 2 hours long.

I usually like Denzel Washington. However, this film seems a bit too familiar. In fact, I kept expecting him to run into a wayward father and son going in the other direction. And the movie was filmed with the same color filter that all other dystopian movies use.

For the stated reasons, I feel compelled to give this movie no better than 2 stars. Booo!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Road

Apocalyptic movies seem to be all the rage over the last few years. There's Terminator, Cloverfield, I Am Legend, and The Day After Tomorrow. Now we have The Road.

In The Road, a father and son are walking across the country to the blue part of the map where they hear that things are better. We're not sure what the apocalypse was, but it killed nearly everyone and now the survivors are cannibals. Along the way, the father constantly is teaching his son about survival and as the movie progresses, you get the feeling that the father is dying.

Seen through a color filter and nothing but gloomy skies, the movie is very depressing and lacks any hope. There are glimpses of light now and then, but only to be dashed by fate.

Viggo Mortenson stars as father, the unnamed man, Kodi Smit-McPhee as the unnamed son, Charlize Theron as the mother of the son and wife of Viggo as seen through flash-backs throughout the movie. And Robert Duvall makes a cameo appearance as a vagabond homeless person and Guy Pearce as a fellow traveler.

The movie is rated R for disturbing cannibalism, violence, and language, and possibly for lack of color. The Road is 111 minutes long.

The story seemed too similar to the other doomsday movies. The book actually won a Pulitzer Prize in 2007. However, the story was long and tired and would probably have difficulty keeping the attention of the average American. I give The Road 2 1/2 stars.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Youth In Revolt

For a while I was a big Michael Cera fan. If you didn't like Arrested Development, then you have no sense of humor. Then there was Juno and Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist.

However, Cera's stock is now going down. Super Bad - too many F-bombs. Paper Heart - stinker. Now we have Youth in Revolt.

I saw the previews from another movie. Seemed like a pretty funny movie. A nerdy young kid named Nick Twisp falls for a girl and his devilish side comes out - only in a real human character. The only problem is - the previews pretty much showed all of the funny parts, a common problem with today's comedies.

Youth in Revolt also stars Portia Doubleday as the attractive young love interest of Nick Twisp. Adding comedic value are Ray Liotta who plays the love interest of Nick's mother, played by Mary Kay Place, and Steve Buscemi as his father, Justin Long as his pot-smoking neighbor, and Fred Willard as the awkward family friend.

Directed by Michael Artera, Youth in Revolt is Rated R for sexual content, language, and drug use. The movie is 90 minutes long.

The movie definitely has its funny parts. Had I not seen the previews I would have been much more entertained. For rating purposes, we'll assume I didn't see the previews. That will get it up to 3 stars.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Not a well-publicized movie, but an interesting movie, nonetheless.

Defendor stars Woody Harrelson as Arthur Poppington, a man of lower intelligence under the grasp of demons from his childhood. Now a man, Arthur decides to go after the people that are bad - the kinds of people that hurt his mother and made his life scary.

Poppington dresses up in a superhero disguise, calls himself Defendor, but has no special powers. But he does have a lot of nifty ideas. Marbles anyone?

The story is told from memory as Poppington is talking to a psychiatrist (Sandra Oh). When Defendor seeks to destroy the Empire of Industry he comes across a prostitute (Kat Dennings) whom he suspects is being harmed, so he saves her. And she subsequently becomes the love interest.

However, in his quest to rid the town of the bad guys, he accidentally comes across a crooked cop and some actual bad guys. Not having real powers, Defedor finds himself in a tough situation, more than good friend Paul (Michael Kelly) has the ability to help him. Defendor now needs to find a way to win and he's not going to let anything stop him.

Defendor is rated R for violence, language, and some sexual situations. Directed by Peter Stebbings, the movie is an hour and 40 minutes long.

I give Defendor 3 stars. It was a combination of an action movie, a drama, and a comedy. There were parts of the movie that were very sad. Other parts were just plain old silly. As the poster correctly shows - "Darkly Funny". That is a very accurate description of Defendor. Not a bad movie.

Leap Year

Just because I haven't posted a movie review in over a month does not mean that I haven't been watching movies. To the contrary - I've watched a lot of movies. But I'd rather watch movies than write about them. Not to say I don't enjoy writing about the movies. It's like choosing between Reese Witherspoon and Anne Hathaway. I enjoy both.

So anyway, last Friday I watched another Amy Adams movie - Leap Year. It was a romantic comedy - like nearly all of Amy Adams' movies.

In Leap Year, Amy is a pretentious stick in the mud who is dating a pretentious businessman who little convincing aptitude for love. After a disappointing night where she expected to get engaged, she decides that she will propose to him - while in Ireland - on February 29th - leap year.

This is where Amy runs into a series of unfortunate events. Stranded in a town in Southern Ireland, she meets up with Declan (Matthew Goode), whom she convinces to help her get to Dublin so that she can propose.

Declan, however, can see right threw her and is more in touch with what is going on that she realizes, or cares to accept. So you can already tell what is going to happen. She spends a lot of time with him in her journey to get to Dublin. And he drives her crazy.

Predictable. Very predictable. But again, it's a romantic comedy. They are supposed to be soft non-thinking movies. And that it is.

The movie also stars John Lithgow as Amy's father and Adam Scott as her boyfriend.

Directed by Anand Tucker, Leap Year is rated PG. I think this was because 2 unmarried people slept in the same bed and there was some kissing later in the movie. And she got mad a lot. You could totally let your 10 year old watch this movie.

At an hour and 37 minutes long, it is the perfect length.

I give Leap Year 3 stars. Average. It met the formula for a romantic comedy, thus achieving mediocrity.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Fantastic Mr. Fox

One of over 400 movies that George Clooney starred in during 2009, Fantastic Mr. Fox is a stop-motion movie about Mr. Fox who raids farms and steals birds. To eat, of course. His wife, Mrs. Fox (Meryl Streep), talks him out of stealing and he eventually becomes a writer for the local newspaper.

Feeling like his life is going nowhere, Fox plans to start raiding farms again. However, the farmers are on to him and they begin to make life hard on the animals. Now it's up to Mr. Fox to save the day.

The movie is an animated adaptation of the Roald Dohl children's book. The movie also stars the voices of Bill Murry, the opossum, Jason Schwartzman, Cate Blanchett, Willem Defoe, and Owen Wilson.

The movie was directed by Wes Anderson, who is known for The Darjeerling Limited, The Royal Tenenbaums, and Rushmore. The Fantastic Mr. Fox is rated PG for smoking (gasp!), smoking, and some mild violence (including shooting of guns - gasp!).

The Fantastic Mr. Fox is very melodramatic. There is very little inflection in the dialog and the humor is very dry. VERY dry. It's drier than a $4 bottle of white wine. Both of my kids watched the movie and neither got into it very much. And neither did their Papa.

This was not my favorite kids movie, nor my favorite dry humor movie. I just didn't find it all that funny. For this I can only give it 2 stars.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Did You Hear About the Morgans?

For some reason I had it in my head that this movie starred Morgan Freeman, even though a split second later after each time I thought that I knew it didn't.

Did You Hear About the Morgan's is actually a romantic comedy that stars Hugh Grant and Sarah Jessica Parker as Paul and Meryl Morgan. Though going through a divorce, they happen to witness a murder by a wanted mafia lord, so in order to protect them, the FBI puts them into the Witness Protection Program. Unfortunately for this divorcing couple, they are sent to Wyoming together.

Once in Wyoming, they hook up with the local Sheriff and his wife, Clay and Emma Wheeler (Sam Elliott and Mary Steenburgen) who hide them until the case is solved.

One of the driving themes of the movie is that the Morgan's are raging liberals dropped into the middle of hill-billy redneck country, a place where Republicans live.

While hiding out, Paul and Meryl are forced to be with each other, while simultaneously trying to run their businesses from afar and not getting found by the mafia.

Watchers of the movie will be on the edge of their seats to find out if they will be able to solve all three problems without a hitch.

Directed by Marc Lawrence, who also directed Music and Lyrics and Two Week Notice, two other Hugh Grant movies, Did You Hear About the Morgans? is rated PG-13 for some sexual references, some minor violence, and a bad Sarah Palin quip. The movie is an hour and 43 minutes long.

The movie was corny and stereotyped rednecks and Republicans (who, according to the movie are one in the same). Less concerning was the movie's total predictability. As romantic comedies go, this one was not that good. I did laugh out loud a couple of times, saving this movie from being terrible. I give Did You Hear About the Morgans? two stars.

Friday, April 9, 2010


Every now and then I feel the need to indulge in some guilty pleasures. Outside of porn, what fits this bill better than an 80's beach sex comedy? And Hardbodies it is.

I remember sneaking down into the basement at like 2 in the morning when I was 12 or 13 in order to watch this movie. There was no way my parents were going to let me watch this. Well, a very very remote chance that my dad would have let me watch it if I didn't tell anyone, so my best shot was scoping the TV Guide for movies in the middle of the night. You did this, too, right?

And as far as Hardbodies is concerned, I mean, just looking at the cover of the movie you know what you're getting. And at 13 I wasn't disappointed. This was one of my favorite movies of all time. And then I saw it as an adult.

I really didn't remember the plot, just that there was a lot of skin, but as it happens, a young beach bum with glorious feathered hair gets kicked out of his place and needs to find another one in which to live. Meanwhile, 3 "older" men show up looking for a good time (Hunter, Rounder, and Ashby; Gary Wood, Michael Rapport, and Sorrells Pickens, respectively). The most notable person in the movie is probably the red-headed Courtney Gains who went on to play bit roles in several prominent movies.

Anyway, unable to pick up girls and sensing these old men needed help, Scotty (Grant Cramer) plots to manipulate them and convinces them to put him up and teach them the way to get hot girls. Tension builds, however, when Scotty's girlfriend Kristi (Teal Roberts) thinks he's having too much fun with all the naked girls.

If you're looking for a thin plot, bad acting, and lots of bouncing round boobs, then you've found your movie. If you want a hysterical romantic comedy full of anecdotes and creative use of dialog, then you are way off.

Directed by Mark Griffith, who was known for other big hits such as Beethoven's 5th and National Lampoon's Going the Distance, Hardbodies is about an hour and a half long and is rated R for boobies, language, some fisticuffs, boobs, butts, and bouncing boobs.

What is funny is that many of my friends are eager to borrow this movie. I think it's the 13 year old in my friends that wants to sneak downstairs at 2am to see this movie. And that 13 year old would give this movie 5 stars, but his 37 year old alter ego gives it no better than 3 stars, and that generous rating is due to the many bouncing boobies.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Up In the Air

One of my friends has a man-crush on George Clooney. He doesn't really. But the story is funny. One time at lunch with our boss we were talking about some movie that starred Angelina Jolie. My friend mentioned that he understand what what all the hype was about her. Um, duh. She's hot! My boss then said, "What? Do you prefer George Clooney?" And so the joke started.

Up In the Air does star George Clooney. And, of course, I mentioned to my friend that I was going to watch the movie and I knew he would be jealous.

Clooney stars as Ryan Bingham, a consultant who is hired to go to companies and fire people. The job requires him to be on the road a lot, so he's 'up in the air', so to speak - a lot. His goal in life is to rack up 10,000,000 miles on his frequent flier card. As he is nearing his goal a new-hire at his company, where his boss is Craig Gregory (Jason Bateman), the new hire, Natalie Keener (Anna Kendrick) has a great idea: instead of flying to all of these companies to lay off people, they will do it via a new online video-conferencing program.

While on the road, Bingham picked up a love interest in Alex Goran (Vera Farmiga), also a consultant always on the road. And I'm not sure if it was a butt-double or if Vera really showed us that nice shot of her back-side, but I honestly don't care. I'll take it for what it is - a nice rump.

Meanwhile, Natalie has been assigned to work with Ryan and learn the business and determine how to train new consultants the techniques needed to be able to fire people online. However, she learns that the business is not as easy as creating a process and following it. There's more of an art to it.

Up in the Air, despite being a movie about firing people, is actually a very inspiring movie. It sets the tone for cutting the ties to something you don't like and being free to pursue your dreams, a theme that arises throughout the movie.

Rated R for booty and language, Up In the Air was directed by Jason Reitman, who also directed Juno and Thank You for Smoking. The movie is an hour and 49 minutes long. Also staring in the movie are Sam Elliott, Amy Morton, and Danny R. McBride.

Additionally, Up In the Air was nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Director, though it didn't win any of them.

I like Clooney myself, though I don't have a man-crush on him. And as I've mentioned before, I've seen a lot of Jason Bateman movies, and I don't think I have a man-crush on him either. But I can comfortably say that I like Vera Farminga. And her butt. Or whomever's butt that was.

I give Up In the Air 4 stars.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee

The Private Lives of Pippa Lee is a movie based on a novel of the same name by Rebecca Miller. In the movie, we go back and forth between the current and the past as Pippa struggles with life.

The older Pippa is played by Robin Wright Penn, who you may remember as Forrest Gump's girlfriend, who later went on to marry liberal extremist Hollywood lunatic Sean Penn. The younger Pippa is played by the lovely Blake Lively who was the blond in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

The young Pippa grew up with a mother that was going through some serious problems, including being addicted to amphetamines. Her father, on the other hand, was a preacher who looked the other way, driving Pippa to run away from home and live with her lesbian aunt. She then falls into what every runaway experiences - lots of sex and drugs.

Pippa eventually hooks up with Herb (Alan Arkin), who decides to leave his wife for her, which should be a sign of things to come. Significantly older than Pippa, he begins to resent the way she treats him like he's an old man, despite the fact that he's an old man. She then begins to think about her life and her relationship with her mother and the relationship she now has with her own daughter and realizes that they are very similar.

Pippa soon runs into Chris (Keenu Reeves - who doesn't say 'dude' through the entire movie), a 35 year-old neighbor who's lost his way in life, but she quickly befriends him. However, things quickly unravel in her life, only to come back together in a quasi-acceptable manner.

It's difficult to say too much about this movie without giving it away. The characters are intriguing and kept my interest. In addition to those already mentioned, the movie also stars Julianne Moore as Kat, her aunt, Maria Bello as Suky, her sister (I think), Winona Ryder as Sandra Dulles, and Monica Bellucci as Gigi.

Directed and written by Rebecca Miller, Pippa Lee was produced by Brad Pitt, of all people. The movie is rated R for nudity, sexuality, language, drug use, and implied violence and is 97 minutes long.

I liked the movie, though it was somewhat depressing. But there's always something about an attractive crazy woman with a lost soul. It doesn't hurt that Robin Wright Penn, Blake Lively, Monica Bellucci, and Maria Bello are all very attractive. And Alan Arkin is one of my favorite old people actors. He's the perfect curmudgeon with the perfect voice.

For these reasons I will give Pippa Lee 3 3/4 stars. How's that for unconventional?

Monday, March 15, 2010


Jason Bateman seems to be everywhere lately. We all remember him as the brother of Justine Bateman, the hot girl from Family Ties who disappeared from the face of the Earth. He made a name for himself on the show Valerie, which was then renamed Valerie's Family, then subsequently renamed The Hogan Family. But that's a different story.

Jason Bateman didn't really hit it big again until Arrested Development, one of the funniest shows ever and set the tone for his movie characters to follow. Since 2007 he has been in the following movies that I have seen:

The Kingdom
Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium
Forgetting Sarah Marshall
State of Play
The Invention of Lying
Up in the Air
Couple's Retreat

This time, he stars as Joel the owner and manager of a company that makes extract, you know - like vanilla-flavored extract used in baking. His company is doing really well, but his wife Suzie (Kristen Wiig) sucks and won't have sex, his employees are disgruntled and think they should be paid millions of dollars, and his best friend Dean (Ben Affleck) is a crazy bartender who's a little free willy with dolling out the drugs. Meanwhile, Joel is about as straight-laced as you can get.

There is hilarious interaction between him and his obnoxious neighbor Nathan (David Koechner) and the lawyer (Gene Simmons) who represents Step (Clifton Collins Jr) who is injured at work. And then there is the gigilo that he hires for his wife so that he can get a divorce.

Joel thinks he may have found something special when he runs into Cindy (Mila Kunis) who joins the company and takes an active interest in him. However, things start going amok at the factory and Joel is about ready to throw in the towel.

Having worked at a factory, I can totally relate to this movie. There is one line by one of the factory workers that I have heard no less than 3.721 million times - "Everyone knows that I'm the hardest working employee here!" I couldn't stop laughing. I even rewound the movie to hear that again.

Extract was directed by Mike Judge, creator of Beavis and Butthead and King of the Hill. The movie is 92 minutes long and is Rated R for language, sexual references, and drug use. Mila Kunis is totally hot, so look for her in some future movies.

The movie also stars J.K. Simmons, no relation to Gene Simmons, the lead singer of Kiss. You'll remember J.K. as J. Jonah Jameson, the chief of the Daily Bugle from the Spiderman Movies.

I really liked Extract for its quirky dry humor. Jason Bateman is becoming one of my favorite actors and this movie was perfect for him. I give Extract 4 stars.

Couples Retreat

With their marriage on the line due to their fertility problems, Jason (Jason Bateman) and Ronnie (Malin Ackerman) decide that they might get divorced, but they decide to try to save their marriage at a couples' retreat, but need their friends to attend to get the discounted rate. With the promise to only go to the tropical paradise and to not have to participate in the marriage counseling, their friends half-heartedly agree to go.

Once on the island, not everyone gets what they bargained for. What was once considered a decent relationship, Dave (Vince Vaughn) and Cynthia (Kristen Bell) find themselves questioning their marriage. Meanwhile, Joey (Jon Favreau) and Lucy (Kristin Davis) sort of find out what they've always known - they don't care for each other too much. Finally, Shane (Faizon Love) is there with his girlfriend of 2 weeks - Trudy (Kali Hawk), because his wife left him and he wasn't going alone.

Directed by Messy Marvin (Peter Billingsley - best friend of Vince Vaughn), the movie also stars Carlos Ponce as Salvadore, the irresistible islander in a banana hammock, Peter Serafinowicz as Sctanley as the pompous director of the program, and Jean Reno as Marcel, the therapist.

Couples Retreat is about 90 minutes long and Rated PG-13 for some sexual innuendo and language.

There are definitely some funny parts, but there are way more awkward situations that just made me uncomfortable. This seems to be the new standard for Vince Vaughn movies (see Four Christmases). I had higher hopes for the movie, but it seems like the funniest parts of the movie were shown on the previews. I can give Couples Retreat 3 stars, but I'm leaning more toward 2 1/2.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Accidental Husband

Another romantic comedy from Netflix staring a woman that I totally cannot understand why men are attracted to her. I mean, Uma Thurman is okay, but I certainly wouldn't go out and buy a poster of her from Wal-Mart to tape onto the back of my door. And I like thin ladies, but seriously, what does Uma weigh, about 75 pounds?

The Accidental Husband stars Uma as Emma, a so-to-be bride who is a radio therapist who has convinced a young woman to leave her fiance', Patrick Sullivan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), a NYC fireman, because she has determined that he's not right for her. Patrick hears the whole radio conversation and he vows revenge, so a neighbor kid hacks the city department of records and alters Emma's file to indicate that she's married to Patrick.

When Emma goes to get her marriage license with Richard (Colin Firth), she learns that she is already married. In order to get her license she must now get Patrick to sign annulment papers, which turns out to be more difficult than she realized (since Patrick is there to string her along). However, when she spends time with Patrick (as a result of his shenanigans) she sees his relaxed charm, learns a little about him, a little about herself, and wonders if she is making the right decision.

Directed by Griffin Dunn, The Accidental Husband also stars Sam Shepard as Emma's father, Lindsay Sloane, and Justina Machado as Patrick's ex-fiance'. Rated PG-13 because it's a romantic comedy, it contains some sexual content and some language.

Netflix only allows you to give whole star ratings. However, this is my blog and I'm am breaking with that. This movie was so predictable and awkward and I also thought it could have ended an hour earlier than it did, so 90 minutes was way too long. I can only give The Accidental Husband 2 1/2 stars.

Friday, March 5, 2010

17 Again

If I'm not mistaken, this movie was released in August of 2009. I had it in my Netflix queue for a while, but as newer movies kept getting released and this movie seemed to be stuck with the "Super Long Wait" status, I decided to take it out and wait for the library to deliver it for me. I had put 17 Again in my library queue soon after it came out, but I was in like 85th position. It's still in my library queue and I think I'm 17th on the list now, but I happened to find a copy of it on the DVD shelf, so I grabbed it. I'm leaving it in my library queue because I want to see how long it takes to get it that way. Sort of an experiment.

17 Again stars former Friends star Matthew Perry as Mike O'Donnell, the dad who had a chance do make it big as a basketball player, but life chose a different path for him. Now 18 years later, his wife is divorsing him and he hates his job and he has fallen into total despair - until he meets that mysterious man that can change him back to a teenager again.

Nope - he doesn't change into Jennifer Garner (13 Going on 30) or Lindsay Lohan (Freaky Friday), but 22 year old teen sensation Zac Efron. And it's the same year. Now Mike needs to figure out the purpose of this transformation. And he determines that it's about him going back to high school to become a basketball star. However, when he returns, he learns things about his kids who are in high school and realizes that this journey isn't about him.

In addition to learning more about his own kids while pretending to be the son of Uncle Ned, he comes to see another side of his soon-to-be ex-wife Scarlett (Leslie Mann) and suddenly realizes that he still loves her. Can he somehow alter the future and save his kids and his marriage? Or is there another purpose to his mission?

A subplot of the movie is pretty darn funny, too. Mike ends up living with fantasy movie fanatic Ned Gold (Thomas Lennon), who gets a crush on high school Principal Jane Masterson (Melora Harden) after he enrolls Mike back in school. This plays out quite well.

The movie also stars the lovely Michelle Trachtenberg (Ice Princess), Sterling Knight, Jim Gaffigan, Margaret Cho, and the older brother of Bill Murray, Brian Doyle-Murray, most famous to me as the voice of The Flying Dutchman on Sponge Bob Square Pants.

Directed by Burr Steers, 17 Again is a buck-40 in length and is Rated PG-13 in order to get more money at the box office, but Netflix claims it was for language, some sexual material, and teen partying, all very minimal in my opinion.

I had low expectations of 17 Again, so when I found myself laughing through most of the movie and curious to see how it ended, I realized that it beat the odds and was a decent movie. Now, had I high expectations of the movie, I probably would have been disappointed. But since the movie delivered, I'll give it 4 stars.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I watched this movie a week ago courtesy of Netflix. Actually, I paid for it, so it's not really a courtesy, is it?

Zombieland is a mild-humored horror about zombies. Some time in the future, a disease breaks out and Metallica plays great music and many people become zombies. Now living on his own in fear of zombies, Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) narrates the movie and gives us tips for living with zombies. Tips such as 'don't forget the double-pump'.

Suspicious of everyone, Columbus (who uses this name because that's where he's from) runs into Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson). Tallahassee has a fetish for Twinkees and a no-nonsense way of dealing with zombies - and this means fire power.

On their journey they run into 2 girls, Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) and Wichita (Emma Stone) who initially pretend to be sisters, but con the guys and steal their truck. After conning each other a couple of times, they eventually conclude that they need to work together and head to an amusement park where it is rumored there are no zombies.

Zombieland is gory-funny. It's not scary at all. Directed by Ruben Fleischer, Zombieland is 88 minutes long, which I thought was too short, and is Rated R for continuous violence, gore, and language.

I got a good laugh out of this movie. And with a cameo from Bill Murray, this movie my kind of horror movie. Nothing made me jump. And that's good. Additionally, there is awesome music throughout. And Emma Stone is pretty hot. For these reasons, I give Zombieland 4 stars.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Invention of Lying

The Invention of Lying was my latest Netflix movie. It stars Ricky Gervais, the quirky pudgy British actor, as Mark who is living in another dimension of our world where no one tells a lie. Everyone tells everyone the truth, not matter how much it hurts. People even volunteer information when it's not requested. This makes for some really funny scenes.

However, this all changes when Mark meets Anna McDoogles (Jennifer Garner). She tells him that she's not interested in him and she tells him exactly why. But suddenly he gets an idea to tell things that aren't true. Others cannot comprehend this new ability, but Mark decides to use it to his advantage.

Unfortunately, his ability to lie leaves him in a position where he uses untruths as a tool for compassion. His use of lies as a tool for compassion force him down a road that he was not ready to take, and now he must decide what is right and what is wrong.

The Invention of Lying also stars pretty boy Rob Lowe as Anna McDoogles' convenient love interest, Tina Fey as Shelley, Mark's assistant, in addition to cameos by Jason Bateman, Jonah Hill, Christopher Guest, and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Directed by Ricky Gervais and Matthew Robinson, The Invention of Lying is 99 minutes long and rated PG-13 for language, sexual situations, and a drug reference.

I thought the movie was fairly funny. The strength of the movie is that everyone tells the absolute truth and Mark can lie absolutely - and it's funny. However, near the end of the movie they get into an uncomfortable area where they start making fun of religion. That's not exactly where I want to see my comedy. For this I can only give The Invention of Lying 3 stars.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Whiteout - a movie I picked up at the library. I like Kate Beckinsale. She's cute. You can't deny that. So whenever she's in a movie, I try to make sure I see it.

Whiteout stars Beckinsale as Carrie Stetko, a U.S. Marshal stationed at a research base in Antarctica. She is nearing the end of her stay as winter closes in, but someone turns up dead. It's up to her to investigate the crime. Her friend Dr. John Fury (Tom Skerritt) tells her to send the body home and worry about it later. However, there are only 3 days left until Antarctica's 6 months of darkness begins and everyone wants to leave, but the killer is amongst them. If she cannot solve the case, she may get stuck there for those 6 months.

While investigating the crime with the help of pilot Delfy (Columbus Short), she stumbles upon U.N. operative Robert Pryce (Gabriel Macht) who's doing his own investigation. Having a dark past, she now trusts no one and wonders what his real motive is.

Tension heats up when the masked killer shows up attacking and slashing people with an ice ax. However, while Carrie is investigating, she turns up more murders and more clues. It reads like a classic Scooby-Doo movie.

The cover of the DVD indicates that it's a murder mystery and the murder occurs fairly early in the movie, so the whole time my natural inclination is to figure our who did it. And this one is not that difficult to figure out. And one thing that I don't like is an easy mystery.

Directed by Dominic Sena, Whiteout is 96 minutes long and Rated R for violence, some mushed up dead people, language, and a frosted glass view of Kate naked, but too frosted to get excited about it.

I was not too impressed with Whiteout. It's not terrible, but it's way too predictable and convenient. And when people get injured, you can't expect them to get back up again and start running. It's just not realistic. And so for the fakeness, I can give Whiteout no better than 2 stars.

Monday, March 1, 2010

L.A. Confidential

On the list of movies I need to get around to seeing, I finally got around to seeing L.A. Confidential. Based on the book of the same name by James Elloy, L.A. Confidential is set in, surprisingly enough, Los Angeles.

Set in the 1950's, Los Angeles is competing with Chicago and Washington, D.C. to be the most crooked city in America. Not only is their a lot of organized crime, but organized crime within the police department. But then Guy Pearce (Edmund Exley) is promoted to Detective Lt. He has it set in his mind that he's going to do his job the right way and without corrupting influences, much to the chagrin of Captain Dudley Smith (James Cromwell).

When a disgraced former cop ends up dead, Exley wants to solve the case, but is butting heads with Detect Sgt. Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) and Officer But White (Russell Crowe). But in this case of cops versus cops, Exley's investigation is turning up more than he bargained for. And he better be careful, because people close to the case start ending up dead.

L.A. Confidential has an all-star cast. In addition to those previously mentioned, Danny DeVito stars as Sid Hudgens, the magazine insider who works with the police for inside tips on hot stories, Kim Basinger, as Lynn Bracken, the love interest of many a man, and David Strathairn as Pierce Patchett, the local pimp lord.

Directed by Curtis Hanson, L.A. Confidential is Rated R for violence, language, violence, sexuality, and violence. The movie is about 2 1/2 hours long, so if you've never seen it make sure you block out a good chunk of time to watch it because you'll be glued to the screen.

I LOVED this movie and would easily watch it again. I'm actually disappointed that I never saw this movie earlier than I did. The movie was nominated for 9 Academy awards, including Best Picture. Kim Basinger won for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and Curtis Hanson and Brian Helgeland won for Best Adapted Screenplay. Additional nominations were Best Original Dramatic Score, Best Director, Best Art Director, Best Cinematography, and Best Film Editing.

For the above reasons, I give L.A. Confidential the sparsely distributed 5 Stars.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Super Fuzz

I saw this movie for the first time sometime in the early 1980's on HBO when I was a kid. I recall thinking it was funny and that the music was awesome. When we joined Netflix a few years ago I looked up this movie and it was not available. However, Netflix allowed you to add it to your queue and when it became available it would be listed as one of the available movies.

A few weeks ago I noticed that the move was moved from the "Saved" DVD queue up to my active DVD queue. And last week it was released to the public. However, I didn't get it until Friday. And I watched it....on Friday.

Super Fuzz is about a rookie cop named Dave Speed (Terence Hill - the famous Italian actor) who is sent by Sgt. Willy Dunlop (Ernest Borgnine) to an offshore island (as a prank) to serve a parking ticket warrant. What neither of them knew was that a nuclear bomb was going to be tested over the island. Dave Speed survives the explosion and suddenly finds that he has super powers. However, his super powers seem to come and go and he doesn't know why.

Officer Speed returns to duty and drives his Sergeant crazy with his new powers, which the sarg doesn't believe. Meanwhile, Sarg has a giant crush on Rosy Labouche (Joanne Dru) and learns that she is coming to town. What he doesn't know is that she is tied to the local mob. When Rosy learns how to disable Officer Speed's powers, she frames him for the murder of Sarg. Can justice be served before Officer Speed is put to the electric chair?

Originally released in Italy and named Poliziottot Superpiu in 1980, Super Fuzz was directed by Italian director Sergio Corbucci who directed many unfamous Italian movies. Rated PG for some minor violence, a little cussing, and an almost topless dancer, Super Fuzz is 97 minutes long and also stars Marc Lawrence and Julie Gordon as Speed's girlfriend.

The movie is super cornie. The special effects are very funny, even by 1980 standards. The music is groovy. I've never heard a single song played in one movie as much as "Super Super" was played throughout Super Fuzz. However, it's quintessential 80's. If you like all things 80's you will love this movie. And for this I give Super Fuzz 5 stars. Even my kids thought it was funny. And that makes it a winner!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Everybody's Fine

Recently released to DVD and sent to me by Netflix, Everybody's Fine is Robert De Niro's latest movie.

De Niro plays Frank, a recent widower, who plans a big family weekend at his house. Unfortunately, his four kids are spread out all over the country and he hasn't seen them since his wife died 8 months ago. After all of them cancel their visit, he decides to visit them individually. After dropping in unexpectedly at his first son David's he finds that he is not there, so he head's off to his daughter Amy's house, then the other kids. But each child has an excuse as to why they can't spend time with him.

At each house he finds that things aren't quite what he expected. He is slowly learning things about his children that he didn't know. His high expectations of them were shielded by his wife, but without her the truth starts to be revealed, and all is not rosy. Many scenes are accompanied with flashbacks to his children as he remembers them when they were younger. Pay attention to the details of this movie because many of them come back to you at the end.

Robert De Niro is great in this movie. If you are in your late 20's, 30's, or even early 40's - this is your dad. His little idiosyncrasies and total lack of acceptance of today will totally remind you of your father. I think this is one of his finest performances in a while.

Judging the movie by the cover you would think it was a comedy. After all they are all smiling, right? While there are funny parts to the movie, this is no comedy. This is a gut-wrenching tear-jerker. At the end of the movie my wife said it sucked. Then this morning she commented that she can't stop thinking about it. This made me think that it wasn't the movie that sucked, it was the sad situations that she didn't like. The movie definitely has a lasting impression.

In addition to De Niro, Drew Barrymore, Sam Rockwell, and Kate Beckinsale star as his children. Directed by Kirk Jones (who also did Nanny McPhee and Waking Ned Devine), Everybody's Fine is 99 minutes long and Rated PG-13 for "thematic elements" and some brief language, but also many scenes that will bring you to tears unless you absolutely have no heart.

Though not what I expected, the movie definitely had a solid impact and was sad and depressing. For bringing out these emotions, I think this movie deserves 4 stars.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Fired Up!

I picked this movie up at the library because of the cute girl on the front cover and the tag line: "2 Guys. 300 Girls. You do the math." That can't be too bad, can it?

In the movie Shawn (Nicholas D'Agosto) and Nick (Eric Christian Olsen) learn that their tournament football game will not be in Daytona, Florida this year, but rather in Texas. They decide that rather than playing that game, they'd join the cheerleader squad with the opportunity to hook up with girls. This is not that far-fetched an idea. I had 2 roommates that did the same thing.

The fast-talking Shawn makes waves with the girls, but finds himself attracted to Diora (Molly Sims), the wife of the nerdy camp coordinator. Nick, on the other hand, instead of chasing girls falls for Carly (Sarah Roemer), the chear captain and the girlfriend of douche bag Dr. Rick (David Walton), who's not really a doctor. Additionally, while initially attending the camp to hook up with girls, they find that they actually enjoy cheering and are pretty darn good at it.

The movie runs in the same vein as American Pie. Some of the dialog is hysterical. The girls are all hot. And like any good comedy, the good guys win in the end.

I wouldn't be surprised if this movie went straight to video. I don't recall it in the theaters. If it was in the theaters it was probably there for 3 days.

Directed by Will Gluck, Fired Up! is 89 minutes long. The version that I watched said it was unrated and a synopsis of it on Wikipedia says that the unrated version has nudity and language, but I can tell you what I watched had no nudity and limited potty-language. So I'm not sure what I watched. If I had to guess, the version I watched would have been rated PG-13 for sexual innuendo, some minor language, and some minor violence.

Fired Up! was a good cheap laugh. There was several memorable lines which I've gladly been using on my friends. For this, I give Fired Up! 3 stars.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


This is the original Fame. I remember the television show as a kid and who doesn't remember the song? "Fame! I gonna live forever!" Every fancy kid on the block was singing that one. However, I had never seen the movie. When I heard that the movie was being remade I figured it was as good a time as ever to watch.

Fame The Original Movie is about a school for the performing arts in New York City. The movie starts with a bunch of 20 year olds doing rehearsals trying to gain entrance into each of the school's programs, such as acting, ballet, and orchestra (I guess). As you would expect from a school of artsy people, there is a lot of drama on and off of the stage.

There are several running plots in the movie. Two of the main characters are Doris (Maureen Teegy) and Ralph Garcie (Barry Miller). Doris is the shy daughter of an over-bearing mother and this is her opportunity to break free in life. Ralph Garcie is the talented actor and dancer with an attitude. Another character, Paul McCrane, plays Montgomery, the white-afro-haired kid who we all assume is gay (a gay guy in a performing arts movie? Shocking!) He later stared in ER and 24, 2 of the best 2-character shows on TV. Finally, we have the rich white girl who gets pregnant from a black guy. This is like one step further than Guess Who's Coming To Dinner.

As the 20 year olds are guided through each of their years in school (and don't age), they learn from themselves and each other to be the best they can be. Yeah, sounds like an advertisement for a bad movie on the Hallmark Channel.

Besides the expected drama, I was a bit shocked at the amount of nudity in the movie. I'm not complaining. Just shocked. Aren't these supposed to be high school kids? And there was a lot of cussing. Do artsy people cuss that much? The movie is a bit dated, but was still an overly average movie.

Directed by Alan Parker, produced by Alan Marshall, and staring Alan Vetter, Fame is Rated R for nudity, language, and I guess in 1980 dealing with the issue of homosexuality, which in 2010 we really don't bat an eye at. Fame is 134 minutes of drama, singing, and fine 80's pop-dance music.

As I said, an average movie. It was interesting to see New York in 1980. The dancing clothes were historically hysterical. And some of the acting was quite comical. And there is a cameo by the 26 year old Richard Belzer who later gained fame (no pun intended) in Homicide and Law and Order. Average is as average is. 3 stars for Fame, the original movie.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

My One and Only

Based on the true story of actor George Hamilton's childhood, My One and Only follows George's life across the country with his brother and mother after she leaves George's father.

Renee Zellweger is George's mom in this movie set in the late 1950's and rather than finding a job she finds it much classier to just find a nice man to marry. Several marriages and several different cities later they find themselves in California trying to make their life work. Meanwhile, George's father, played by Kevin Bacon, travels the country as the band leader for a big lounge band and occasionally runs into George (played by Logan Lerman).

Starting in New York City,the family trio go from Boston, to Pittsburgh, to St. Louis, and finally to Los Angeles. The movie is fairly funny with George's brother Robbie (Mark Rendall) stealing the show with his flamboyant quips. However, like many people in life, they are always running and never finding happiness. George wants to be a writer and Robbie wants to be an actor, while their mother wants to be married. Life may not turn out like they expect.

Also staring in the movie are David Koechner, Troy Quinn, and newcomer Molly C. Quinn.

My One and Only is Rated PG-13 for some sexuality, which was brief, but funny, and some language.

Directed by Richard Loncraine, who also did Firewall, this movie is an hour and 45 minutes long.

I thought this movie was decent. It kept me chuckling throughout and I enjoyed the subtle humor. I give My One and Only 4 stars.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Blame It On Rio

I don't normally blog about older movies, but now and then one catches my attention for more than the movie. Blame It On Rio is one of those movies.

When this movie came out I was 11 years old. I remember seeing those sexy trailers on television and couldn't wait until the movie would be shown on Caltech Television (predecessor to Comcast) so that I could sneak downstairs in the middle of the night and watch it. Now that I'm 37, the only sneaking that I need to do is to do so so that my children don't see the movie.

Blame It On Rio stars movie friends Michael Caine as Matthew Collins and Joseph Bologna as Victor Lyons, Valerie Harper as Michael Caines' wife Karen, and Michelle Johnson as Jennifer Lyons and Demi Moore as Nikki Hollis, the daughters.

The plot of the movie is that Matthew and is wife are going through some difficult times and she decides to vacation elsewhere, leaving Matthew, Victor, and the girls to vacation in Rio de Janeiro without her. While on the vacation, Victor's daughter Jennifer shares her feelings with Matthew, who is 28 years older than her. He fights her off, but after she prances around naked for a while, he gives in and they make love - several times. Her friend and his daughter Nikki find out about it and now Matthew struggles with trying to end the relationship and whether or not he should tell his best friend Victor.

The movie is filled with the 80's, from Michael Jackson songs to big poofy hair styles. What intrigued me as an 11 year old still intrigued me as a 37 year old - lots of boobies. However, when reading about the movie I found out that the full frontal nude scene that Michelle Johnson did was recorded when she was only 17 years old. Scandalous.

Released in 1984, Blame It On Rio is rated R for some language, some minor violence, lots of breasts, and 2 seconds of underage nudity. The movie is an hour and 50 minutes long.

As with most movies that show a lot of skin, the plot is thin, and it rhymes. Despite the 11 year old in me, I give this movie 3 stars. The 11 year old rates it much higher.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Star Trek

This movie is a little late, but I finally got around to seeing it. As is the trend with most movies now, you show several iterations of it, then you go back and recreate how they got there. Remember the Star Wars double-trilogy, X-Men, to name a couple.

In this release of another Star Trek movie, we are taken back to when James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) is born, a brief glimpse of his youth, and his unflattering attendance at Star Fleet Academy. Meanwhile, they also parallel Spock's youth and his rise to an officer in the Star Fleet (Spock (Zachary Quinto) is a bit older than Kirk).

The plot is confangled and a bit difficult to summarize, but basically the Romulans have attacked the Vulcans and there's a time warp and some treachery going on. After the captain of the Enterprise is taken hostage, it's up to Kirk, Spock, Dr. McCoy, Uhura, Scotty, Sulu, and Chekov to save the Enterprise and Earth from Nero, the evil Romulan. The movie is full of action, pretty decent computer graphics, and sound effects.

The movie earned nominations for awards including a Grammy for Best Score Soundtrack Album, and several People's Choice nominations: Breakout Actress, Breakout Actor, Favorite Franchise, Favorite Movie, though the movie walked away from each empty-handed.

Directed and produced by J.J. Adams, Star Trek is PG-13 for science fiction violence and some minor sexual content. And when you get to that part, the color on your screen is correct. She's green.

Also staring in the movie are Eric Bana (Captain Nero), Leonard Nimoy as old Spock, Simon Pegg as Scotty, John Cho as Sulu (from Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle), Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy, Zoe Saldana as Nyota Uhura, Anton Yelchin as Chekov, and Winona Ryder as Spock's mother.

I really really enjoyed watching this movie and look forward to the sequel. I freely give this new Star Trek movie 5 stars. I will definitely watch it again.

Whip It!

When I saw that a movie titled Whip It! was coming out I figured it was a movie about the 1980's band Devo who was known as one of the one-hit wonders known for their song Whip It!. However, this movie had nothing to do with Devo. Nor did anyone in the movie have a red plastic flower pot on their head.

Whip It! stars Ellen Page, the young girl who seems to be type-cast as the disenfranchised teenager of her generation, though she's actually 23 years old. You'll remember her as the pregnant girl from Juno, the one that you wondered why in the hell she had sex with Michael Cera. But I digress.

In Whip It! (let me add that typing the name of this movie is driving me crazy because it ends in a punctuation mark and the auto correct wants to capitalize the next letter), Bliss is a young high schooler whose mother (Marcia Gay Harden) is living vicariously through her and pushing her to be in beauty contests, which Bliss could not care less about. Bliss finds a flyer about joining a roller derby in nearby Austin, Texas. She sneaks out of town and joins the roller derby despite being too young. And to her surprise, she's really good. What happens when her disingenuous commitment to beauty pageantry and her secret life as a roller derby collide?

Whip It! Is directed by Drew Barrymore, who also stars in the movie, along with Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis (sorry, that woman is getting nasty looking!), and Jimmy Fallon. Lower on the billing is Daniel Stern who plays Bliss' father. You'll remember him as the narrator of The Wonder Years.

Whip It! is 2 hours long and is rated PG-13 for some mild sexual content, crude dialog, language, drug use, and some violence (it is a roller-derby!).

I really enjoyed the movie, though I thought the middle was a bit long. It could have been a better movie if it was about 20 minutes shorter. However, the movie made me laugh and that's important. I liked it enough to give it 4 stars.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Julie & Julia

As stated at the beginning of the movie, Julie and Julia is about 2 true stories, put together in parallel.

Julie Powell, played by Amy Adams, is a customer service representative in post-9-11 New York City at the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation who answers calls about victims and complaints about the new proposed tower.

Julia Child really needs no introduction. But if you lived under a Chia Pet your whole life, then Julia Child, played by Meryl Streep, is a famous chef that was on public television and taught the world to cook French foods with her unique voice and accident-prone style mannerisms.

In the movie, Julie needs some direction in life as she hates her job and her so-called friends, so her husband convinces her to do something, like blog about something she enjoys, like cooking. Julie then goes on to cook every recipe in Julia Child's cookbook in 1 year and blog about all of them.

Meanwhile, we follow Child's life in France with her husband who works for the American government. She went to a famous French cooking school, then began teaching cooking classes, and then collaborated with friends to write their own cookbook.

Meryl Streep was phenomenal in this role. Of all of the movies that I've seen her in, this is easily the best. She characterization of Julie Child was dead-on. The adorable Amy Adams, on the other hand, plays a bit of a whiny obsessed girl who can get a little bit annoying at times, but I always try to remember she's playing a character.

At one point in the movie Julie mentioned that they could make a book or a movie about her experiences. I immediately thought that would be a great idea, then I realized that I was watching that movie. Duh.

Streep was nominated for many Best Actress Awards, winning a Golden Globe for her performance, and the movie received a nomination from the Golden Globes for Best Picture.

Directed by Nora Ephron, no relation to teen idol Zac Efron, the movie also stars Stanley Tucci as Child's husband, and Chris Messina as Julie's husband. Julie and Julia is 2 hours long and is rated PG-13 for some potty language and some minor sexual imagery, though I think they threw that in there just to get the PG-13 rating. Otherwise, the movie was harmless.

I really enjoyed this movie and thought most of it was hysterical. Streep had me laughing all the time. And Amy Adams is always nice to look at. My only criticism is a couple of jabs at Republicans. One was deserved as it dealt with Joe McCarthy, who was a paranoid idiot. The other was totally unnecessary and even illogical. You'll see what I mean. Despite this, I give Julie and Julia 4 stars.

Monday, January 25, 2010

District 9

I finally got around to watching District 9. The previews present the movie as a suspenseful science fiction movie of intellectual proportions. But they didn't show the bugs.

The first 10 minutes of the movie had me glued. It was really well done and, indeed, was very suspenseful. It was basically a series of interviews about the events looking in hind site.

Then they showed the bugs and then the Wikus Van de Merwe character (Sharlto Copley). Is it just me, or did he seem like one of Eric Idle's characters from Monty Python? I could totally picture him pitching commercials or being the tourist in European Vacation. And this made me laugh.

And then the people starting communicating with the "Prawns", who did not speak English, but rather a guttural squeaking. Fortunately, everyone understood each other. And I laughed some more. Is this a comedy? And then the Nigerians moved in. Hysterical. And I'm pretty sure this was not the intent.

On a serious note, I did find a parallel between the treatment of the Prawns and the treatment of illegal immigrants, which our government prefers to call undocumented workers (what if they're not working???).

Nevertheless, the movie is about how the South African government has decided to move in to District 9 where the Prawns are living and move them to an alternate location in an effort to rid the area of crime and alleviate the health concerns. However, during the search, seizure, and removal, Wikus is infected by some liquid and slowly becomes one of the Prawns. Now the government wants him, too, but for experimental purposes.

Now Wikus must fight for his life and has a different perspective on the life and adversities of a life as a Prawn.

Directed by Joe Carnahan (Smokin' Aces and the upcoming A-Team movie), District 9 is 112 minutes long and is rated R for bloody violence, language, and bugs.

Also starring in the movie are Jason Cope, Nathalie Boltt, and Sylvaine Strike, all actors I've never heard of.

I got a good laugh at the expense of this Sci-Fi movie, but the storyline isn't too bad. If you have time, you may get a kick out of it on multiple fronts. I give District 9 3 stars.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In The Loop

I love politics. I love humor. Combining them would be like should be like the olfactory orgasm that a dog gets when he hangs his head out of the window as you're passing a garbage dump. But, sadly, this was not the case.

In the Loop is a dark comedy about the interactions of different people as the United States and the United Kingdom are preparing for war against a Middle Eastern country. The movie isn't about the President / Prime Minister, per se (though I hate that saying), it is about the people that make it happen. It's the ministers, the operatives, the generals, the secretaries, etc...

Staring in the movie are James Gandolfini as Lt. General George Miller, the arrogant career military guy that isn't taking any crap from any civilian policy wonk, and Peter Capaldi as the perpetually cursing arrogant Scottish civilian policy wonk who wants to rip everyone's head off and poop in their neck.

I never really got into the plot of this movie and soon lost interest. It may have had something to do with the constant cursing and threats upon everyone. I just didn't find the abusive behavior funny.

Directed by Armando Iannucci, In the Loop is not rated because of excessive smack talk and cursing. The movie is 106 minutes long.

Not the worst movie I've ever seen, but I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. I give this one the dreaded 2 stars. Avoid at nearly all costs.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Hurt Locker

Another in a series of movies about war in Iraq, The Hurt Locker follows Bravo company, a group assigned to disarm IED's (Improved Explosive Devises).

The plot is not very complex and there really isn't much of a story-line in the movie. It's more on the lines of a documentary which is being reenacted. I couldn't find information stating if it was based on a compilation of true stories, but I suspect that it was. The storyline was written by Mark Boal who was embedded with a bomb squad in Iraq.

The movie follows several long sequences of events when IED's are discovered and must be disarmed. There is a lot of tension throughout the movie as Iraqi spectators gather and watch the bombs being disarmed. No one knows if any of the spectators have remotes to explode the devise or if they will come under fire during their mission.

I anxiously watched the movie from the edge of my seat wondering if the next bomb would detonate while it was being disarmed. Tension remained high throughout the entire movie. Additionally, there is a sequence where the company inadvertently rendezvous with a British outfit, one character which is played by Ralph Fiennes, and they suddenly are engaged in a firefight with insurgents from a distant home on the hillside.

The movie is a bit long - about 2 hours and 10 minutes, but I had no trouble sitting through the entire thing. The Hurt Locker is directed by Kathryn Bigelow (ex-wife of Cameron Bigelow, director of Titanic and Avatar), and she hasn't directed a big movie since K-19: The Widowmaker starring Harrison Ford in 2002.

The Hurt Locker also stars Jeremy Renner as William James (the disarmer), Anthony Mackie as JT Sanborn, the leader of the group, Brian Geraghty as Owen Eldridge, the somewhat incompetant rookie, and Christian Camargo as John Cambridge, the social worker who is concerned about your feelings.

Filmed in Jordan and Kuwait, The Hurt Locker is Rated R for war violence and language. Reading about production of the movie, it was excruciatingly hot during filming and they were shot at several times while filming only 3 miles from the Iraq border.

As you can tell, I really enjoyed this movie. I didn't leave hollering "Get 'er done, America!" like a Southern redneck. The movie really opens your eyes to the stress that our soldiers face every day in war and the movie does a great job of making you feel like you are in the middle of it.

I give The Hurt Locker the coveted 5 stars.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Not much for romantic dramas, I decided to give this one a try as it came at romance from a different angle. An attractive young lady named Beth (Rose Byrne) who always wears skirts moves into an apartment building and is intrigued by one of her cute neighbors Adam (Hugh Dancy). However, after some awkward interactions, Adam finally admits to her that he's not crazy or weird, but rather he suffers from Asperger's syndrome, a form of Autism.

Up to the challenge (only because she finds him cute), Beth does some research and decides to become romantically involved with Adam, though she quickly learns of the limitations of their relationship. Adam, meanwhile, continues to go through his own challenges in life, many of the things that we would take for granted.

Meanwhile, Beth's big-shot father (Peter Gallagher - remember him and his eyebrows in Summer Lovers with Daryl Hannah?) is up on corruption charges and may go to prison, adding to the stress of her life, a life in which Adam is unable to provide the needed attention and affection that Beth needs.

The movie did not end as I had expected, but it did end nicely. I think the movie does a good of shedding light on Asperger's.

Directed by Max Mayer and also staring Amy Irving, Adam is Rated PG-13 for thematic material, which I still don't understand, sexual content, and language. The movie is 99 minutes long.

Not a blockbuster, nor the best movie you'll ever see, it did earn the Alfred P. Sloan Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. I enjoyed the movie enough to give it 4 stars.
My Zimbio