Category Archives: 3.5 of 5

The Five-Year Engagement (2012)


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The Five-Year Engagement

My first introduction to Jason Segel was in his movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall, where he introduced us to 2 wieners – his penis, and Russel Brand’s persona. I have held those missteps against him ever since. Not that it keeps me from watching his films – he’s a funny guy. He just doesn’t know where to draw the line.

This movie was enjoyable; good script, good cast, good direction – to a point. At which point you are just left a bit disgusted, or disappointed, or embarrassed. Leading to losing 1.5 stars because, let’s face it, what could have been a charming story is now something I couldn’t recommend to my mom. Like many movies these days, it seems the over-the-top raunchiness is added merely for shock and cheap laughs.

The story is…sweet. And predictable. And not nearly interesting enough to justify a full 2 hour run time. Still, the quality cast gives us memorable moments. The chemistry between Segel and Blunt is warm and believable. The Elmo & Cookie Monster debate is goofy. There are some kind of lovely points about romance.

Worth seeing, as a rental. But be prepared for unnecessary raunch – you may not want to watch it with the kids. Or your parents.

Also of note, The Five-Year Engagement was even less popular with audiences than it was with critics.

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 64%; Audience 58%

The Dark Knight (2008)


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The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight

When Batman, Gordon and Harvey Dent launch an assault on the mob, they let the clown out of the box, the Joker, bent on turning Gotham on itself and bringing any heroes down to his level.

Heath Ledger won The Golden Globe which reminds me of something. I’m sure this will get me no end of flaming comments, but here goes….

I saw The Dark Knight, and it was fine. It was a Batman movie, it was enjoyable – but it was nothing near what the hype suggested it would be.

* I can’t stand Katie Holmes. I think her acting is just fine, but her personal life has rendered her nearly intolerable. However, replacing her with Maggie Gyllenhaal was ridiculous. Gyllenhaal was nowhere near appealing enough to have us believing the major characters were both in love with her. Holmes is much more attractive physically and as Rachel Dawes.

* Christian Bale is one of my favorite actors, ever since his appearance in Empire of the Sun. He is a performer who you can count on to deliver a quality performance, and in Batman Begins, I think he did. For some reason, this time out, he decided to adopt an odd verbal style. While in the suit, he was nearly unintelligible. His first foray as Batman was great, this time I wanted to smack him upside the head and yell, “spit it out!”

* And, this will really get me in trouble, Heath Ledger . . . not that great. Much like his performance in Brokeback Mountain, where he did a poor imitation of Karl Childers, Ledger relies on affectation rather than acting. It is tragic that he died, but that doesn’t make his performance better – it makes it poignant and sad, but not better. I didn’t feel anything for this Joker but confusion – as to whether it would have gotten anywhere near the positive press if Ledger hadn’t died. I have nothing against the guy, but seriously, if you watch that performance objectively, does it truly deserve to effusive praise that has been heaped upon it?

All in all, The Dark Knight was full up to the brim with overacting. The early Batman films were big, cartoony movies – overacting fit. These latest films seemed to be aiming at more grown-up, more serious – the performances should be tailored to fit.

In the words of another comic book hero, “Flame on”

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 94%, Users 93%

UPDATE: I seem to agree with this guy

Baby Mama (2008)


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Baby Mama

Baby Mama

Successful, single businesswoman Kate Holbrook has long put her career ahead of a personal life. Now 37, she’s determined to have a kid on her own. But her plan is thrown a curve ball after she discovers she has only a million-to-one chance of getting pregnant. Undaunted, the driven Kate allows South Philly working girl Angie Ostrowiski to become her unlikely surrogate.

Simple, predictable, treacly premise…in anyone else’s hands. In the hands of Fey & Poehler, it is a hit. It definitely manages to touch a nerve, but with humor. Combine Fey’s wit with some great casting and you are guaranteed a good time.

Poehler’s Angie was a bit over-the-top (is there ever a time she isn’t over the top?) but the obnoxious behavior at the outset is necessary to illustrate the journey her character, and Fey’s, travels.

Greg Kinnear always adds to a movie and this is no exception. When I see him on screen I know I will enjoy his performance, even if the rest of the movie sucks.

A nice surprise is Romany Malco as the over-involved doorman – with a heart of gold ๐Ÿ˜‰ Even with all the lines she gave him, the part could have been a throw-away in lesser hands (or, more likely, considerably overplayed) He keeps you laughing

Steve Martin is one of my faves, more as a writer than a performer, and his part here seems more stunt (or homage) than anything else. It works fine, but was unnecessary. Sigourney Weaver pulls off her bit quite well, though I never really connected to what she was trying to convey – is she a good guy or a bad guy? Compassionate or opportunistic?

In supporting roles we have Maura Tierney (good), Holland Taylor (fabulous), and several SNL alums (fine).

I did have a few nit-picky complaints, though nothing serious enough to be a deal breaker (see below, they’re spoilers). You don’t need to see this on the big screen, though, unless you want to see it NOW.

Rotten Tomatoes: critics 61%; users 69%;

the spoilers: Continue reading →

MoZella: I Will (2006)


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I Will

Love this album; she is sassy, the lyrics are punchy…or sweet…or both. You can definitely hear the Detroit in her voice, listen on MySpace.

Track listings as follows:

You Wanted Itmy video
Love Is Something
Killing Time – a little rap, a little back beat, a lot of melody and a splash of sass
I Will – sexy and romantic
Amnesia – this is the song that first caught my attention, and ultimately the reason I bought the album. My video & the official video
Can’t Stop – sultry
Messiahmy video
Last $20 – sounds like it comes from experience
Going Home – close to home
What To Say – yeah, also close to home
Light Years Away – she’s getting over it and moving on

I don’t think this is a style that will go over with most of my circle; too spunky for some, too melodic and lyric driven for others. It is part of my permanent rotation on the MP3 player because I love it, but only gets 3 1/2 because I don’t have enough friends to recommend it to (but I made sure those that might be interested gave her a listen).

Amazon: 4.5 stars

Casino Royale (2006)


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Casino Royale

Casino Royale

In his first mission as 007, James Bond must win a poker game at The Casino Royale, in Montenegro, to stop a criminal who works as a banker to the terrorist organizations of the world, from financing crime and terrorism across the globe.

I must review this only as an action movie – not a Bond film. Though I enjoy Daniel Craig as an actor, he is no Bond. He is too “common” and rough, not a smooth bone in his well-toned body (at least not in this first outing) There are, of course, the usual Bondian staples; breath-taking chases, women falling into bed with Bond, then falling dead… But they don’t quite hold up in Craig’s hand.

The rest of the casting is strong enough, particularly Mads Mikkelsen (as the villainous Le Chiffre), Giancarlo Giannini (Rene Mathis), and Judi Dench (M).

I believe many in my circle will enjoy this one, despite the faults I find with it, so it tilts higher on the Word of Mouth Scale One can only hope that Craig can learn to be a bit more refinied in future installments.

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 95%; Audience 87%

1408 (2007)


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The only demons in room 1408 are those within you. Renowned horror novelist Mike Enslin (Cusack) only believes what he can see with his own two eyes.

D and I caught an early showing of this creep-fest today. Actually, there was some discussion of seeing Evan Almighty, but he made the (wise, as it turns out) choice of Cusack over Carrell.

My usual complaint with Stephen King’s books, and by extension his movies, is his need to wrap up everything neatly. He ties everything together and delivers you a tidy package. For instance, in The Green Mile, the bad guy isn’t just a very bad man, he ends up being the very bad man. The narrator ends up giving us a little synopsis, as well, just in case anything slipped by us. That is true of almost all of his stuff that I can think of.

Not so with 1408, and that is a very good thing. I don’t know whether the credit goes to King, to the screenwriter, or to the director. Whoever it was kept this really creepy movie . . . well . . . really creepy.

Fans of Samuel L Jackson who are hoping to see him do his stuff will be disappointed, he is in only 2 or 3 short scenes. This one is all Cusack, and he owns it.

My one casting complaint is Mary McCormack as his wife, Lily. She appears to have done something to her upper lip leaving it swollen and stiff. Very distracting during her scenes.

Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing: critics 77%, users 88%

Little Miss Sunshine (2006)


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Little Miss Sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine

With a cast this great, you know I was expecting a lot. Truth is, this movie was all about the cast, I can’t imagine it working with any other group of actors.

Little Miss Sunshine is one of those rare movies that brilliantly mixes laughter and heartache to engross you in every obstacle the characters face on this arduous journey down the road and through life.

We laughed so hard through this movie, our cheeks hurt by the end. I fell in love with this family and cringed at each of their misadventures.

It loses points on the Word of Mouth Scale only because of the overabundance of foul language, and some unnecessary (though very funny) sexual conversations.

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 91%; Audience 91%

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