The Family Stone (2005)

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The Family Stone

The Family Stone

A woman meets her future in-laws and discovers they don’t much care for her in this comedy from writer and director Thomas Bezucha. Everett Stone (Dermot Mulroney) is a successful young businessman who is dating Meredith Morton (Sarah Jessica Parker), and has asked her to spend Christmas with his family, with plans to ask his mother, Sybil (Diane Keaton), for the titular family wedding band and propose to Meredith on Christmas Day.

I hadn’t really intended to see this film, had it in my Blockbuster queue just as a filler. Looked like an OK chick Flick, but nothing I needed to see. Then my step-sister told me she loved this movie. “Love-love-loved it!” Alrighty then, I’ll give it a go….

…and I will end up feeling like I just wasted an hour and a half.

The premise is fairly simple, and something that would be quite familiar to a lot of people. Boy brings home Girl to meet the Family before he proposes to her; Girl is uncomfortable, Family doesn’t like her, hilarity ensues, cue laugh track. Unfortunately, the writer/director(?), or whoever, wasn’t satisfied with that. What they end up giving us is a cast of unrelate-able characters, most of whom have no redeeming qualities whatsoever – in fact it seemed as if they lacked humanity altogether. Even the most heinous villain should have some vulnerability or charm to make us care about the story, I couldn’t have cared less about the majority of this group.

They finally become a bit human in the last ten minutes of the film, but the various nauseating & absurd (though predictable) couplings spoil even that.

It manages a 1.5 simply because of the two girlfriends I have who may want to see this, and who I wouldn’t actively dissuade. They both love Sarah Jessica Parker and this is her in her neurotic element.


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 51%; Audience 61%

A few gems:

“A feel-bad holiday film about a repellent family, with a milquetoast dad and a smug, devious harpy of a mom.” — Mick LaSalle, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE

“There are many ways to define the shrieking awfulness of The Family Stone, from the general lack of wit to the cheap exploitation of cancer to its casual cruelty.” — Stephen Hunter, WASHINGTON POST

“It doesn’t matter how many fine actors are assembled in a film, if the script is terrible, then the movie can’t be good.” —Jeanne Kaplan, KAPLAN VS KAPLAN

“Rarely have I seen such a maudlin, manipulative, mean-spirited mess masquerading as a holiday comedy.” —Susan Granger, MODAMAG.COM

bruno kirby, 1949-2006

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Bruno Kirby

i’m a fan of actors who don’t take themselves too series.

actors who pick smaller roles but seem to leave the most memorable performance.

actors who look like they’re just having fun on the job.

bruno kirby was one of those actors.

nobody could have pulled off the role of vic in the freshman better than bruno. coming into the movie, he knew exactly what it was and played it to a tee. he acted as the bridge between the hard-nosed carmine sabatini (the great marlon brando) and the green clark kellogg (matthew broderick). he was less of a comic relief and more of the shoestring that keeps the shoe tied.

the freshman

i loved city slickers but hated the sequel because bruno wasn’t in it. his perfomance far exceeded that of jon lovitz. lovitz and bruno shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same breath. its an insult that the filmmakers tried to use him as a replacement.

city slickers

one of my favorite roles he played was that of ball-busting 2nd lt. steven hauk in good morning, vietnam. everybody remembers robin williams’ lines, but let’s be serious for two seconds here, he wouldn’t have been able to deliver those if he didn’t have bruno. the funniest scene in the whole movie is hauk trying to do the radio show but bombing horribly.

steven hauk

i most recently saw bruno in an episode of entourage. i was reminded of how much i’ve enjoyed his work and wondered when he was going to do another movie. i didn’t know about his leukemia. he was taken far too early.

he will be missed, but luckily, his legacy in his movies lives on.

Categories: rip

snakes on a plane

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Snakes on a Plane

the anticipation is finally over.

the movie that has captured the attention of internet geeks around the country has finally been unleashed on an unsuspecting public.

SNAKES ON A PLANE!

the plot is simple the story is predictable. just by looking at the title, you know what the movie is about.

Agent Flynn, played brilliantly by Samuel L. Jackson, has to escort a key witness to a mob hit from Hawaii to Los Angeles to testify. All the cliches are there: its a flight attendant’s last day; kids are flying alone for the first time, there’s a dog, a baby, a celebrity, and a lil’ sex in the bathroom.

the movie practically writes itself.

snakes

why did i find it so good? i didn’t expect anything out of it. i knew there was going to be a high level of cheese. i knew the plot was totally ridiculous. i just wanted to see a fun movie. plus, sam jackson is the man.

snakes on a plane is completely enjoyable from start to finish.

i’m gonna say it… greatest movie ever!

i attended a noon showing with some people from work, and we all had a good time. i couldn’t imagine what it would be like to see it in a crowded theatre.

it could easily gain the cult status of a rocky horror picture show.

World Trade Center (2006)

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World Trade Center

On September, 11th 2001, after the terrorist attack to the World Trade Center, the building collapses over the rescue team from the Port Authority Police Department. Will Jimeno and his sergeant John McLoughlin are found alive trapped under the wreckage while the rescue teams fight to save them.

~ Claudio Carvalho

 

I hadn’t planned on seeing this one when I heard about it, since Oliver Stone is so completely in the tin-foil-hat club. I was not about to pay money to sit through two hours of his theories of how the 9/11 attacks were America’s fault, or perhaps a government plot. When Jeff Jarvis gave his reaction, I felt more inclined to give it a chance. After all, he lived the day more directly than anyone I have actually met and through his blogging I get the New York flavor, not just my distant Arizona memories of the day.

Other reviews, as well, said this was not like other Oliver Stone movies, that he allows the story to tell itself. Good enough, it is a story that needs to be told.

My trepidation, then, became solely my expected reaction to the heart wrenching emotion of it. The trapped police who were there to help, the men who put their lives on the line to help others, just the thought of it breaks my heart. The families who waited and hoped, not knowing. In my safe little house here in Phoenix I was unable to process the loss and I cried imagining what those families were going through; wondering if your loved ones were alive or dead, knowing that, either way, they had been terrified and in pain. I remember how we waited for more of these happy endings, how we would call each other about every rumor that they found someone alive.

I have to say that I agree with US Weekly in their review of this movie: “A disturbing and disjointed letdown”

Maybe I went from expecting too little to expecting too much. I kept waiting to be moved, kept wondering when the emotions would hit. In fact, at one point in the movie (one of the more action packed portions) there was a man in front of us snoring – yep, SNORING – his wife(?) had to jab him in the ribs to wake him up.

I was disappointed by what seemed like a lack of urgency on everyone’s part; the people leaving the buildings (which Jarvis commented on), the police and fire entering the building, the rescue crews working after the collapse. Everyone seemed sort of lackadaisical, not at all what I imagine it was really like.

I never believed that the wives were really waiting for that kind of news, I never felt anguish or longing… They are both fine actresses so I am not sure what the problem was (well, I did find the blue contacts on Maria Bello very distracting). The one moment of true emotion I felt came late in the film when another woman in the hospital was relating her last conversation with her son, an elevator operator. In her eyes, I saw the terror and the grief.

I wouldn’t say this was a bad movie, just not a good one. I needn’t have feared the blame America angle, it wasn’t here really. It may be worth seeing this picture, just for the story, but it needn’t be seen on the big screen. There is just nothing big in the way Stone presents it.

(I think they have the actual guys in the BBQ scene at the end. Anyone?)

UPDATE: Just found another reviewer who was bothered by (among other things) those stupid blue contacts. He, like several other reviewers I found through Rotten Tomatoes, claims to have dreaded United 93 and eagerly anticipated World Trade Center – only to have his opinion of both of them flipped.


Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 71%; Users 70%

Last Holiday (2006)

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Last Holiday

Last Holiday

“…when she learns she only has a few weeks left to live, Georgia gathers her money, quits her job, and flies to a swank European resort she’s always dreamed of visiting. Naturally, her new carelessness with money and fearless candor lead everyone around her–including her senator (Giancarlo Esposito, Do The Right Thing) and her former boss (Timothy Hutton, Ordinary People)–to think she’s a mover and shaker. Last Holiday unfolds the way you expect it to (dozens of movies and TV shows have similar plots), but Latifah and the capable cast keep it alive.” –Bret Fetzer

I wasn’t expecting much from this movie, though I had heard it was funny. I was pleasantly surprised by how entertaining it was – though I would hesitate to call it a “good movie”. I would say it is what it claims to be, a fun little romp. It is also quite palatable for the whole family – not so chick-flicky that it would be hard for guys to sit through, not full of bad language or scenarios that would make it uncomfortable in mixed company.

Based on Word of Mouth Scale, I would recommend it to just about everyone in my circle.

A couple of silly complaints:

  • I think Queen Latifah has shown she has acting chops and she is well cast here, but if you are going to have her in your movie, find a way to get her to sing.
  • I don’t know how they would have gotten it into the script, but why have LL Cool J in your movie and not have him shirtless at least once?

Rotten Tomatoes: Critics 55%; Audience 70%

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