The Boxtrolls

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the European town of Cheesebridge, rumors abound that subterranean trolls known as Boxtrolls kidnap and kill young children. Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) strikes a deal with Lord Portley-Rind (Jared Harris), offering to exterminate every Boxtroll in exchange for membership in the White Hats, a group of cheese lovers led by Lord Portley-Rind that serves as the town council.

The Boxtrolls prove to be peaceful creatures, wearing cardboard boxes, who emerge from underground at night to scavenge through the trash for items they can use in their inventions. A baby boy named Eggs lives among them, cared for by a Boxtroll named Fish (Dee Bradley Baker). As he grows up over a period of ten years, Eggs (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) learns that the population slowly decreases due to being captured by Snatcher.

Lord Portley-Rind’s neglected daughter Winnie (Elle Fanning) grows frustrated at being ignored and throws his white hat out a window. Leaving the house to retrieve it, she sees Eggs rummaging through trash with two Boxtrolls. Snatcher and his men chase the trio and capture Fish. Devastated, Eggs puts together a disguise and sneaks back up to the surface to find him. Eggs emerges in the midst of an annual fair to commemorate the disappearance of the Trubshaw Baby eleven years earlier – presumably kidnapped and killed by Boxtrolls. Disgusted by the town’s inaccurate portrayal of the creatures, he follows Winnie away from the fair. She recognizes him as the boy she saw the previous night and directs him to Snatcher’s headquarters, an abandoned factory.

Sneaking into the factory, Eggs finds Fish locked in a cage and frees him. Meanwhile, Snatcher holds a cheese tasting with his men Mr. Gristle (Tracy Morgan), Mr. Trout (Nick Frost), and Mr. Pickles (Richard Ayoade) as preparation for becoming a White Hat, but proves ironically to be allergic to cheese, causing his entire body to swell. Eggs and Fish try to sneak out of the factory only to be caught by Mr. Gristle. Snatcher recognizes Eggs as the Trubshaw Baby and reveals that all the captured Boxtrolls are still alive and building a machine. Winnie overhears this exchange upon having followed Eggs to the factory. They and Fish escape from Snatcher and take shelter in the Boxtrolls’ underground cavern.

Winnie is surprised to learn the truth about the Boxtrolls, and convinces Eggs that he is not one of them. His father had given him to them as a baby in order to keep him safe from Snatcher. Winnie agrees to help Eggs tell Portley-Rind the truth. At a ball that night, Eggs narrowly avoids capture by a disguised Snatcher and inadvertently knocks a giant cheese wheel down the stairs so that it rolls into a river. Eggs announces himself to the crowd as the Trubshaw Baby, but no one believes him and Lord Portley-Rind throws him out in a fury over losing his beloved cheese.

Eggs returns to the cavern and tries to persuade the remaining Boxtrolls that they need to flee for their own safety. Snatcher digs into the cavern using his machine, captures the entire group, and takes them back to the factory. Eggs, imprisoned in a cage in the basement, awakens to find his real father Herbert Trubshaw (Simon Pegg) hanging upside down next to him when it turns out that he was held captive for years by Snatcher. He sees the Boxtrolls stacked in a crusher and begs them to run, but the crusher activates and flattens all the boxes.

Snatcher drives his machine to Lord Portley-Rind’s house, shows him the flattened boxes as proof of the Boxtrolls’ deaths, and demands Portley-Rind’s white hat once he kills the last one (actually Eggs dressed up as a Boxtroll). Winnie persuades Mr. Trout and Mr. Pickles to redeem themselves by not killing Eggs. The Boxtrolls suddenly arrive with Trubshaw, having sneaked out of their boxes just before the crusher activated, and free Eggs. An infuriated Snatcher tries to take Portley Rind’s hat by force, but Eggs, his father, and the Boxtrolls disable the machine. Eggs and Snatcher are thrown clear, hitting the giant cheese wheel as it is pulled out of the river, and Snatcher swells into a grotesque giant and forces Lord Portley-Rind to give up his hat. Snatcher triumphantly enters the cheese tasting room, but unconcerned about his allergy, explodes after taking one bite.

The townspeople no longer see the Boxtrolls as monsters and come to live peacefully with them. Winnie tells the tale of Snatcher’s end to a crowd of people, while Eggs and Fish drive off in one of his father’s contraptions

REVIEW:

Is it me, or has this year been a little light on the family faire? What little there had been hasn’t exactly lit the box office on fire. Hopefully, The Boxtrolls will change that fact, or at least provide an alternative to the revenge flick that is The Equalizer and the horror-comedy Tusk (in the areas where it is still showing). Can this British kiddie flick charm enough adults to bring them back for more?

What is this about?

THE BOXTROLLS are a community of quirky, mischievous creatures who have lovingly raised an orphaned human boy named Eggs in the amazing cavernous home they’ve built beneath the streets of a city called Cheesebridge. The story is about a young orphaned boy raised by underground cave-dwelling trash collectors who tries to save his friends from an evil exterminator, the town’s villain, Archibald Snatcher. When Snatcher comes up with a plot to get rid of the Boxtrolls. Eggs decides to venture above ground and “into the light,” where he meets and teams up with fabulously feisty Winnie. Together, they devise a daring plan to save The BoxTrolls family.

What did I like?

Stop motion surprised. This is stop motion animation. If you are an avid reader of this blog, then you know how much I turn into a drooling fanboy when it comes to stop motion, so no need to say that I liked the fact that it is stop motion and not CG. However, there is something about the animation that I have to mention. About midway through the credits scene, two of the henchmen start talking and one of them says something along the lines of, “what if someone was controlling us?” The camera pans back and you can see one of the sculptor animators working on him. I found that to be totally awesome and I don’t believe anyone has ever done this before, at least outside of Rey Herryhausen documentaries or stop motion classes.

Trolls. The Boxtrolls don’t speak in anything more than grunts and random sounds, and yet they have just as much life in them as the humans, perhaps more. I didn’t catch on at first, but they are named for the kind of box they are wearing. For instance, one of them wears a box marked “Fragile”, thus his name is Fragile. As far as the personality of each is concerned, they show heart and innocence that makes you care for them, even perhaps shuddering when something nearly happens to them near the film’s end. I won’t spoil it, but I will say that it is life threatening for them.

Henchmen conflict. “Good always triumphs over evil.” “We’re the good guys, right?” These are a couple of conflicting thoughts that the henchmen, well 2 of them, wonder about as the film goes on and they commit more and more heinous acts toward the Boxtrolls and nearly kill some humans! We’ve all wondered about how henchmen join up, I’m sure. Before the Star Wars prequels, I wondered were all the Strom Troopers came from. This is the first time, though, that I can recall henchmen actually questioning what they are doing, even if they have apparently been tricked into thinking Boxtrolls are evil. It makes for some interesting conversation between the two and gives them character, rather than brainless yes men.

What didn’t  I like?

Girl. The film is moving along at a nice pace, the audience is moving along at a nice pace and then BAM! We are introduced to an annoying little girl with a smart mouth and a penchant for death, apparently. For me, things would have been so much better without her, as she does nothing to make her forced entry into the goings on worthwhile. The best way I can describe her is when Arcee was brought in to the 80s Transformers cartoon. The only reason she existed was for the female fans. I believe this little girl exists for something similar, just so little girls can have a female presence on the screen.

Design. While I do love the animation of this film, I wasn’t too pleased with the design of the characters. These are some ugly human beings. The Boxtrolls actually look better. Now, when I say that, I am speaking from an attractiveness angle and not aesthetically. I know that British people are stereotypically known for having horrible teeth, but good grief! Also, the upper crust of this town sure didn’t look any different from those that lived in the slums. How is that?!? Think about Rango for a minute. The animals in there are horrible looking, yes, but remember that is a bit of a western and they have that dirty, dusty western look that many people had in westerns (unless they were a major character). The same kind of thought process should have been used with these people. It appears that this was set in the Victorian era, so make the people look like that, rather than sewer rats in nice clothes!

Importance of cheese. Cheese, oh wondrous cheese! I love cheese, be it by the slice, on a sandwich, toast, burger, or in block form, but I have nothing on the people in this town. Wow! They take cheese to a whole new level. Up until now, I thought the most cheese obsessed character was Monterey Jack from Chip & Dale’s Rescue Rangers, but he has nothing on out villain Archibald Sinister, who ironically has some kind of allergy to the stuff. What I find most appalling, though, is how cheese takes precedence over the hideous little girl, for the leader of the White Hat society, and apparent mayor of the town. Can we say problem?

When I first heard about The Boxtrolls, I thought it was going to be some light, fun flick, but this turned out to be far from the truth. This is a fairly dark film, but it has its cute moments. Recently, I rewatched Mary and Maxand it had the same tone, if you will. The voice cast is outstanding, though I couldn’t help but think of Moss from The IT Crowd everytime I heard Richard Ayoade’s voice. Both kids and adults will find something that appeals to them. In the theater I was in tonight, the little kids were cracking up through a lot of it, so there you go. Do I recommend this? Yes, very much so. It is most definitely worth a watch!

4 out of 5 stars

Barefoot in the Park

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , on September 30, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Corie (Jane Fonda), a free spirited young woman, and Paul Bratter (Robert Redford), a more conservative, less free-spirited man, are a recently married couple, who move into a fifth floor apartment in Greenwich Village (one of the ongoing jokes is the fact that everyone has to climb so many stairs to get to the apartment). Corie decorates the small, leaky apartment, turning it into a picturesque little home for the two. One of the many odd people living in the apartment building, the quirky Victor Velasco (Charles Boyer), befriends Corie, often even flirting with her. He lives in the attic of the building, once even climbing through the Bratters’ apartment window to get to his. Victor helps Corie with the apartment, teaching her how to work the seemingly broken heating and plumbing.

Corie sets up a dinner date with herself, Paul, their new friend and neighbor Victor, and Corie’s mother, Ethel Banks (Mildred Natwick) in a scheme to get Corie’s mother to fall for Victor; Corie feels that her mother is lonely now that she lives alone and needs love. Victor takes them all to an Albanian restaurant on Staten Island where he knows the owner. There, the group drinks, and Corie and Victor get up to dance with the belly dancer, while Paul and Ethel watch in embarrassment and awe. Afterwards, Corie and Victor return to the apartment in high energy as Paul and Ethel drag themselves with fatigue. As Victor escorts Ethel outside, Corie and Paul begin an argument over their differences. Corie feels her adventurous spirit is not equal to Paul’s cautious demeanor. One of the examples she gives is that he would not go barefoot in the park with her one evening. His excuse was that it was freezing. Corie says she will kick Paul out and get a big dog to protect her from him. Paul says maybe it will finally allow her to have someone who will go barefoot in the park with her. They eventually go to sleep, Corie in their tiny bedroom and Paul sleeping on the couch under a hole in the skylight on a snowy February night.

The next day, Paul comes home with a fever, but Corie still insists she wants a divorce. The two spend an awkward time together in their apartment before Corie kicks Paul out. She then gets a call from her aunt, saying that Ethel did not come home. Scared, Corie begins to panic, but eventually finds out that her mother was at Victor’s apartment. Apparently, while Victor was escorting her to her home in New Jersey the night prior, Ethel slipped on some ice, and Victor took her back to his apartment where they spent the night. Strangely, Ethel was wearing nothing but her undergarments and Victor’s Japanese kimono. Fearing for what seemed obvious, it turned out that Victor had Ethel’s dress drycleaned.

Meanwhile, drunk, Paul skips work and sits in Washington Square Park. With her mother’s advice, Corie goes out searching for Paul and finds him, drunk and running shoeless and barefoot through the park. The once cautious Paul is now a fun loving drunk while cautious Corie chases after him in order to get him to sober up. Eventually, Paul says it’s his apartment too and he’s going back home. Corie follows. Back at the apartment, Paul, still fairly drunk, climbs onto the roof of the apartment. Scared he might fall, Corie begs him to come down while speaking to him through the hole in the glass ceiling. He says he will only come down if she repeats after him. He wants her to admit that her husband is a crazy drunk, when a few nights before she scolded him for being so cautious and practical even when he is drunk. Meanwhile, realizing where he is, Paul becomes scared after almost falling off the building. Corie tries to climb up onto the roof to help him down but Paul does not want her to leave him. Corie asks Paul to sing an Albanian folk song they had heard at the restaurant that Victor has taken them to. While he sings, Corie climbs up to the roof to help him down. A crowd of onlookers starts to gather in the street, watching along, including Corie’s mother, Ethel, and her new love, Victor. When Corie reaches Paul, they kiss and climb back down as the crowd cheers on.

REVIEW:

A few months back, I was researching something, I forgot what, and Barefoot in the Park was listed as one of the best film for what I was looking for. Since then, it has just been holding a place in my Netflix queue, until today (the last day it is going to be available, coincidentally). Does this flick live up to the praise that has been bestowed upon it? Let’s find out, shall we?

What is this about?

A pair of newlyweds — he, a stuffed-shirt lawyer, she, a free spirit — attempt to adapt to each other and life in a small Greenwich Village flat.

What did I like?

Couple’s chemistry. How many times have we seen a newlywed couple in film that has little to no chemistry together? Sometimes we come across a pair that even appear to despise and detest each other. Well, with the coupling of Robert Redford and (the still smoking hot) Jane Fonda, we get a couple that not only looks the part, but they really convey that sense of love that you would see in a pair of newlyweds if you were to meet them in person.

Boy-er, oh Boy-er. I don’t know much about Charles Boyer, except that Walt Disney talked him out of retirement to sing the French lyrics to the theme from my favorite Disney film, The Aristocats and then there is that episode of I Love Lucy where he plays himself playing an actor who looks like him. This is my first chance seeing the guy act, even if it is a bit more eccentric character than what he is known for. It isn’t very hard to see why women were swooning over this guy back in the day. He has the talent, sophistication, and looks that would be sure to drive the ladies crazy. Think of him as a French Denzel Washington, if you want a modern day comparison.

Comedy. Being that this is a romantic comedy, you can never be too sure which genre is going to be more prominent, the comedy or the romance (drama). Believe it or not, there isn’t much in the way of drama to be found, save for the denouement in the film’s final 15 minutes or so. I was pleasantly surprised. No, this isn’t a laugh out loud flick, but it does provide a few chuckles and never gets too serious, which is right up my alley. Surely, I’m not the only one tired of seeing dark and seriousness at every turn, right?

What didn’t I like?

Turn on a dime. I know that women are prone to mood swings, but Jane Fonda takes the cake! First off, the film starts with her not being secure with the marriage, even though it hadn’t even been an hour, yet! Later on, she suddenly turns into a bitch because of a difference of opinion between she and Redford. Slight differences are nothing to end a marriage over. Hell, if they’re that big of a deal, then why even get married in the first place, I ask you! I couldn’t take Fonda’s going from sweet and innocent lover girl to raging bitch, sorry.

Step by step. A running gag throughout the film is that the happy couple lives at the top of a 6 story building with no elevator, so everyone has to walk up the stairs, which leaves them out of breath and ready to collapse by the time they get up there. Two thing about this. First, if they are so out of shape that this wears them out, they probably wouldn’t even make it that far, but if they did, I seriously doubt they would be panting like they had just run the Boston Marathon. Second, it was a nice gag the first 2 or 3 times, but the joke go old quick, as they wore it out very quickly.

The play’s the thing. I’m not really sure if this is good or bad, but at times, the film feels as if it happening on stage. For those that don’t know, this is based on the play of the same name. Some of the stage direction, for lack of a better term, works while at other times it just seems as if they copied and pasted movements and sets as a way to save money, rather than produce a quality product.

So, after all that, I bet you’re still wondering why this is called Barefoot in the Park, right? Well, that is a simple answer. The phrase refers to the carefree lifestyle which Redford is not accustomed. Redford is a straight-laced, conservative type, but after he is a bit liquored up, he lets go and dances “barefoot in the park”. So, do I recommend this film? Yes and no. What I mean by that is that while it is a very well-made and film, I would not recommend it. In the end you, have to make the decision,

4 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 9/25

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on September 25, 2014 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

I’ve been thinking lately about how much video games have changed since I was a kid. I mean, the NES and Game Boy that I had back then can’t hold a candle to the almost realistic looking graphics of today’s PS3 (or 4) and Xbox 360.

This made me think of a movie from back in the day that I seem to remember enjoying, but was nothing more than a walking advertisement for Nintendo products. I’ll stop talking writing now and let you enjoy the video game awesomeness that is The Wizard.

 

Klondike Annie

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on September 20, 2014 by Mystery Man

Klondike Annie

PLOT:

Mae West butts heads with Victor McLaglen in Raoul Walsh’s Klondike Annie, but the real victor was the Legion of Decency, whose censorship strictures transformed a saucy and spicy gumbo into something closer to chicken noodle soup. West plays Rose Carlton, the kept woman of Chan Lo (Harold Huber), who takes her from walking the streets to pacing the floors of her high rent apartment. Rose ends up killing Chan and beats it from San Francisco to the frozen north. She boards a ship where burly sea captain Bull Brackett (McLaglen) takes a shine to her; when he finds out she killed Chan, he blackmails her into coming up and seeing him sometime. Boarding the ship in Seattle is missionary Annie Alden (Helen Jerome Eddy), who dies on the way to Alaska. Rose assumes Annie’s identity and, upon arrival in Alaska proceeds to preach the Good Book, saving sinners by unorthodox methods. Mountie Jack Forrest (Philip Reed) arrives in town searching for Chan’s murderer and he falls in love with Rose, unaware that the woman he loves is the killer he seeks

REVIEW:

I really reached in the obscure classic section for Klondike Annie, but with Mae West movies, except for say 2 or 3 of them, that’s what you have to do. Sometimes you find a real gem and other times you find a dud that make you wish time would fly by faster so that it would be over. So, which one of those categories does this one fall, I wonder?

What is this about?

Mae West plays Rose Carlton, the kept woman of Chan Lo (Harold Huber), who takes her from walking the streets to pacing the floors of her high rent apartment. Rose ends up killing Chan and beats it from San Francisco to the frozen north. She boards a ship where burly sea captain Bull Brackett (McLaglen) takes a shine to her; when he finds out she killed Chan, he blackmails her into coming up and seeing him sometime. Boarding the ship in Seattle is missionary Annie Alden (Helen Jerome Eddy), who dies on the way to Alaska. Rose assumes Annie’s identity and, upon arrival in Alaska proceeds to preach the Good Book, saving sinners by unorthodox methods. Mountie Jack Forrest (Philip Reed) arrives in town searching for Chan’s murderer and he falls in love with Rose, unaware that the woman he loves is the killer he seeks.

What did I like?

Two hats. Mae West was quite the talented and somewhat underrated actress. Not only did she star in quite the collection of motion pictures, but many of them were plays that she had written, such as this one. I think we’ve all see films and TV shows these days where someone attempts to wear more than one hat, in the process giving the audience a subpar effort either with their acting or the other task they have chosen to do (direct, produce, write, etc.) West was able to write and star with no problem. I wonder why it is such a chore to do this nowadays.

These curves form a triangle. Mae West was a bona-fide curvy bombshell (possibly with the help of a corset). Throw in her sexy way of speaking and it is no wonder men were falling over her. As you imagine, these men eventually butt heads with West in the middle. Usually, I’m no fan of love triangles, mostly because I’ve seen so many of them, but because this was an afterthought of the film, rather than the focal point, as it tends to be in romantic comedies of today, I was able to tolerate and even like what they did.

Era. Today, it seems like Keirra Knightley won’t do a film unless it is set in the 16th-18th century. I’m beginning to think Mae West was the same way. Of the films of hers that I’ve seen, they all seem to be set in the 18th century. I wonder if this is because it gives her an excuse to wear a corset or if it is because that era fits her style better than the stuffy time in which she lived. At any rate, she knows what works for her!

What didn’t I like?

Subdue her. It is no secret that West has an on-screen persona that can best be described as larger than life. However, someone somewhere made the decision to pull her back a little bit with this film, so we get a more subdued performance. I wish I could say that I liked it, but I didn’t. Here is a fact, West plays a similar character in most of the films she’s in, I can only speak for the handful I’ve seen, of course. The same thing can be said today with Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, Craig Robinson, etc. When you find something that works for you, work it until they can’t take it anymore, I suppose. Having Mae West pull it back did nothing for her character, except make her less interesting. The only time she should have been subdued was when she was impersonating that missionary.

Censored = chopped up. It is my understanding that more than a few scenes had to be cut from this film because they were risqué and offensive for the time, such as West dressing up the recently deceased missionary woman as a prostitute. These scenes were enough to get this film banned in some places, such as Georgia. What’s the big deal, though? Well, with these censored cuts, it makes the film very choppy. For all her talents, I don’t believe Mae West was very adept at editing because the seamless way these scenes should flow in and out of each other just isn’t there. I don’t blame her. I blame the censors!!!

Death of a Chinaman. Sakes alive! People back then just didn’t care who they offended when it came to race, did they? I guess not, considering the history of race relations in this country. The first 5-10 minutes of this film are in a sort of Chinatown setting, complete with actual Asians, except for the guy that is interested in or married to (I’m not quite sure which it is) West’s character. This guy is about as white as they come, just with a fu Manchu mustache and a bad accent. All I can do is shake my had at this.

I don’t think anyone will ever say that Klondike Annie is Mae West’s best picture, but I don’t think that they’ll say it is her worst, either. This is just on of those films that got made because it could possibly make some money for the studio (my, some things never change). West did a masterful job writing and acting this film, but there is just something about it that doesn’t quite give it that magic spark needed so that I would be willing to brag on and on about it. That being said, this is worth a watch if you get the chance, just don’t go out of your way to do so. Save that trip for West’s better known films, like My Little Chickadee and She Done Him Wrong.

3 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 9/18

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on September 18, 2014 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!

This week, I came across this trailer for a movie that I need to track down. A non-musical Gene Kelly film. As much of a fan as I am of the guy, I haven’t seen any of his non-musicals. Also, look at this cast, Kelly, Lana Turner, Vincent Price, Angela Lansbury, etc.

I’ll be checking it out, but what do you think of the trailer for The Three Musketeers?

House at the End of the Street

Posted in Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The movie opens with a young psychotic girl who murders her parents with a hammer in the middle of a stormy night.

Four years later, a newly divorced woman, medical doctor Sarah Cassidy (Elisabeth Shue), and her 17-year-old daughter Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) move to a small upscale town. Their house is near the house where the massacred family lived. Carrie Anne Jacobson had killed her parents, then fled into the forest and was never seen again. Carrie Anne’s brother, Ryan Jacobson (Max Thieriot), is the sole survivor. Ryan now lives alone and is hated by his neighbors; Bill Weaver (Gil Bellows), a local police officer, is Ryan’s only supporter.

The mother-daughter relationship becomes rocky and Elissa starts a relationship with Ryan against her mother’s wishes, finding Ryan to be lonely but a sweet boy. Ryan confides in her that he accidentally injured Carrie Anne when they were little; he was supposed to be watching her while their parents were getting high on drugs. The resulting brain damage from the accident made her extremely aggressive, leading to their parents’ murder. It is revealed that Ryan has secretly been taking care of a seemingly now-grown Carrie Anne (Eva Link) in a hidden room. When Carrie Anne escapes, Ryan accidentally kills her while trying to hide her. In grief, he goes to the diner, where he meets a kind waitress named Peggy (Jordan Hayes).

After the unruly high school boys pick a fight with Ryan and he flees, Elissa drives to his house and subdues the fire the boys started. She finds tampons in the kitchen garbage and suspiciously explores the house until she finds the secret room and is attacked by Carrie Anne, who is actually revealed to be Peggy. Ryan restrains “Carrie Anne” while frantically screaming at Elissa to leave. Elissa finds blue contacts and Peggy’s wallet in the kitchen. It is clear that Ryan has kidnapped the waitress and attempted to make her look like Carrie Anne. When Elissa tries to leave, Ryan knocks her out.

Elissa wakes to find herself tied up. Ryan reveals that Carrie Anne actually died during the swing accident. He says his parents punished him for it and implies that he was the one that killed them. He explains that he wants Elissa, but needs Carrie Anne and cannot have both. Officer Weaver goes to Ryan’s house to look for Elissa but Ryan stabs him to death. Elissa frees herself and tries to escape but Ryan subdues her and traps her in his car trunk with Peggy’s dead body. Sarah arrives and is also stabbed by Ryan. Elissa struggles out and ultimately shoots Ryan with Weaver’s gun.

Elissa and Sarah move out; Ryan is placed in a psychiatric ward. A flashback shows young Ryan about to blow out birthday candles. His mother calls him “Carrie Anne” and when Ryan protests that his name is Ryan, not Carrie Anne, she slaps him violently; it is revealed that his parents forced him to dress and act like Carrie Anne after she died and most likely abused Ryan when he refused to go along with their fantasy, thus setting Ryan on his troubled path.

REVIEW:

Ever wonder what Jennifer Lawrence did between Winter’s Bone and when she became a big star? Well, unless I’m mistakes one of those films that studios were sitting on was House at the End of the Street. True, it may be one of those films that was made but never released, but could it be that is actually worth watching, or should you skip it?

What is this about?

Newly divorced Sarah and her daughter Elissa find the house of their dreams in a small, upscale, rural town. But when startling and unexplainable events begin to happen, Sarah and Elissa learn the town is in the shadows of a chilling secret.

What did I like?

Oh, Mother. 99.999% of the time when a mother and daughter are cast they don’t have any similarities. Sometimes they seem to defy genetics and other times it appears as if the daughter is older or about the same age as the mother. In the case of Elisabeth Shue and Jennifer Lawrence, while they don’t resemble each other, they are passable as mother and daughter, which is something that can’t be said for many other mother daughter pairs. Kudos to the casting director for putting these two together. If only they would have thrown Chelsea Handler in there and an aunt or something HA!

Fight club. In a pivotal scene, Max Thieriot’s character is getting beat up by all the kids at school. Why? He’s a social outcast and the whole town, with the exception of one cop, and of course Shue and Lawrence who have just moved there, hate him. Thieriot finally has enough, grabs this one kid’s ankle, snaps it in half, the crowd goes silent, and he runs off into the woods. It is a great scene because these hate mongering backwoods –insert colorful adjective– shouldn’t have attacked his car for no reason, let alone jumped him. Karma is a bitch, now isn’t it?

Yep, he’s a Bates. Speaking of Thieriot, some of you may recognize him from the current show, Bates Motel. As I was watching him in this film, especially in the later half, where he shows how unstable he is, I couldn’t help but wonder if this was a sort of audition for that show, because it shows how much he actually can fit into the Bates clan, even if he doesn’t really seem to (based on the episodes I’ve seen, where he’s just the stepbrother). The creepy character he portrays in this film, though, is quite reminiscent of what Freddie Highmore has been able to do with Norman, with a hint of Dexter (dark passenger version), and with that contrast to the kind of stable college kid he had been portraying up to then, it is quite the interesting dual personality moment, for lack of a better term.

What didn’t I like?

No privacy. This seems like a nice, safe neighborhood. The kind of town we all dream of moving to at some point. However, I think Jennifer Lawrence’s character may have been taking advantage of the situation. Not only does she sneak/break into Thieiriot’s house while he’s running in the woods, she also goes through his trash. Sure, you can make the case that by doing so she found out some valuable information, but seriously, what right does she have to go through someone else’s garbage?

Pacing. As with every single other film in this genre, the film starts off ungodly slow and boring, as we are gradually introduced to the major players, get some small talk, and the plot is set up. It isn’t until the aforementioned confrontation at the high school that things pick up and that isn’t until the film’s last 10-15 minutes! Surely the filmmakers could have given the audience something to tide us over until we get to that point, but nope. that was not the case. We just have to sit there and be bored, trying not to fall asleep.

Violent teens. I don’t want to come off sounding like the cranky old man when I say this but, what is with teenagers today? These kids not only randomly attack and destroy a car, they also beat Thieriot down, probably to death had he not retaliated, and then they go and attempt to set his house on fire, only to be thwarted by Jennifer Lawrence’s break in and dousing he curtains. Back in my day, all we would have done is some prank or a fight in the hallway at school, but to do all this is a bit much. I guess it is just the generational gap, but damn! That is rather scary if teens really think like this.

Where was the street in House at the End of the Street? It seemed like this was just a country road out in the middle of nowhere, or maybe that was just me. At any rate, I can see why this wasn’t released immediately after it was made. Things don’t play out in the way a solid horror or thriller should, but rather as a “scary” episode of one of these teen dramas on TV tend to do these days. That is the big problem with the film, in bends genres, which is fine, except it doesn’t seem to have a genre of its own. Jennifer Lawrence is above this film, even if it was made before she became a star. Elisabeth Shue does nothing but act as a paranoid mother. It is like she grew up from being the babysitter in Adventures in Babysitting, who was also on the paranoid side if you recall, to this mother who doesn’t want her daughter to do anything, apparently. Do I recommend this? No, there aren’t enough redeeming qualities to waste your time on this, unless you just want to see Jennifer Lawrence running (or should I say bouncing) around in a wife beater, but if you want to do that, just watch her in American Hustle or Silver Linings Playbook, where you get plenty of eye candy from her. I really don’t know what the audience was for this film, but it wasn’t me.

2 3/4 out of 5 stars

Three Men and a Baby

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on September 15, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Architect Peter Mitchell (Tom Selleck), cartoonist Michael Kellam (Steve Guttenberg) and actor Jack Holden (Ted Danson) are happy living their lives as bachelors in their lofty New York City apartment where they have frequent parties and flings with different women. Their lives are disrupted when a baby named Mary arrives on their doorstep one day. A note with her indicates that she is Jack’s, the result of an affair with a recent costar. She arrives in his absence – he is in Turkey shooting a B movie, leaving Peter and Michael to fend for themselves in taking care of her. Prior to leaving, Jack had made arrangements with a director friend to have a “package” delivered to the apartment as a favor. Before Mary’s arrival, he calls and leaves a message with Peter and Michael informing them of the “package” and to keep it a secret per the director friend’s wishes. When Mary arrives, they mistakenly believe she is the “package”, even though there is a note from her mother.

Peter and Michael are totally befuddled on how to care for Mary, and Peter leaves to go buy whatever supplies are needed. While he is gone, Mrs. Hathaway (Cynthia Harris), the landlady, delivers a small box (which is the actual “package” containing heroin) to the apartment and Michael tosses it aside while trying to keep Mary under control. After Peter returns, they eventually figure out her proper care, right down to diaper changes, baths, and feedings.

The next day, two men (who are drug dealers) arrive at the apartment to collect the package. Peter and Michael mistakenly give Mary to them instead, and shortly after they leave, Peter discovers the actual package. He runs downstairs to intercept the dealers, but trips and stumbles, and the package’s contents spill. He gathers the heroin and retrieves Mary from the dealers, but retains the heroin while allowing them to take a can of powdered milk. After the exchange, a police officer attempts to ticket them for illegal parking, but they escape. The officer accosts Peter and detains him in the apartment until Sgt. Melkowitz (Philip Bosco), a narcotics officer, arrives to question him and Michael about the drugs. They successfully hide them from Melkowitz during the interrogation, in which they learn that Jack’s friend is a drug dealer as well. Melkowitz leaves with suspicions and puts them and the apartment under surveillance.

Peter and Michael are able to persuade Mrs. Hathaway to babysit Mary while they work. Once they arrive home, however, they find Mrs. Hathaway bound and gagged and the apartment ransacked, apparently by the dealers demanding the heroin. Mary is safe, however. The men continue with their care of her, adjusting to surrogate fatherhood and growing attached to her, until Jack returns.

Once Jack returns, Peter and Michael question him about the entire drug deal and Mary. He replies that he knew nothing about the heroin and initially denies everything about Mary until he reads the note from her mother, Sylvia. He then recalls the affair that eventually led to Mary being born. Peter and Michael do not hesitate in taking their revenge and passing all responsibility of looking after her to Jack, but he quickly grows to love her.

Later, Peter discovers in the mail a news clipping of Jack’s director friend being hospitalized after a mugging (presumably by the drug dealers), with a handwritten note, “Don’t let this happen to you.” They formulate a plan to meet and trap them when they negotiate a deal to deliver the illicit goods. With a recording of the conversation, they prove their innocence to Melkowitz and the dealers are arrested.

By now, they have fully embraced their role as Mary’s guardians. However, one morning, Sylvia (Nancy Travis) arrives, asking for her back intending to take her to London to live with her family. Handing her over, they quickly find themselves miserable and desperately missing her. Deciding to stop her and Sylvia from leaving, they rush to the airport to try and persuade the latter to stay, but they arrive just as her plane leaves. Defeated, they return to the apartment, where they find both Sylvia and Mary. Sylvia explains she doesn’t want to give up her career but can’t do this if she has to raise Mary alone, so Peter quickly invites her and Mary to move in with them with Jack and Michael’s agreement, and she agrees

REVIEW:

Three Men and a Baby. There really couldn’t be a better title for this film, except it doesn’t tell you everything that goes on in the film. However, it does bring you in, doesn’t it? I had to get this one in before next week, since it will be leaving Netflix streaming, but do I need an excuse to travel back to the 80s?

What is this about?

When an infant named Mary is left on their doorstep, three bachelor roommates channel their feminine side and become surrogate parents to the tyke.

What did I like?

3 distinctive guys. Here we have 3 guys living in a rather large penthouse apartment. Nine times out of ten, we would get the token homosexual overtones, 2 of the guys would be carbon copies of each other, or they would be fighting/sharing the same woman. None of these things happen, though. Care was taken into making each of them into their own character. I can appreciate that decision and wish this was done more often.

Art. When the film begins, we see Steve Guttenberg’s character painting a mural on the outside of their place depicting him and his roommates. Throughout the film and even the last thing we see is the art on the wall. You can’t help but notice how much time was spent on those walls and the fact that the filmmakers did all but make it a part of the plot is even more remarkable.

Sacrifice. So, Baby Mary is left on the doorstep. Ted Danson’s character, who is the father, is over in Turkey shooting a movie, leaving Guttenberg and Tom Selleck’s characters to take care of her. Now, these are two bachelors who know little to nothing about babies, but even more impressive is the fact that they didn’t just drop her off at some orphanage or the police, but rather put their lives on hold for this bundle of joy. Admit it, if you were in the same situation, that kid would not have stayed!

What didn’t I like?

Drugs. It wouldn’t be an 80s movies without some kind of drug smuggling plot. I have two things to say about this. First, it heroin and there is a baby. It would have been so easy to just stick the stuff in with the baby powder and then let events happen organically from there. Second, this whole drug smuggling thing seemed like it was added last minute by some yuppie studio exec who thought this film needed a bit of action. You could literally take the drug stuff out and it wouldn’t hurt the film in the slightest. Perhaps replace it with more funny stuff showing how clueless these guys are when it came to baby stuff would be a nice replacement.

Cheers. Ted Danson’s character brought to mind Jon Stewart from Big Daddy. He is a major part of the plot, but for most of the film, he’s gone. When he does appear, the chemistry is off between he and his roommates, not to mention the fact that they try to make him a bit on the airheaded, loopy side. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I just wasn’t a fan of Danson’s character. Perhaps it is best to stick to reruns of Cheers.

Mother of convenience. Of course, after the film has had its big action filled climax, the mother (who is strangely British) appears, and we have another subplot with her that takes a few minutes. I don’t have any issue with her showing up at the end of the film, because it makes sense for her to not be around, given the story. However, I do take issue with how the shoehorned in a subplot where they chase her down. Was this really necessary? It just seemed like filler to me. If they really wanted to put that in there, since this is an 80s flick, a montage would have worked just as well, if not better, if you ask me.

I really don’t have much to say in conclusion about Three Men and a Baby, partially because the internet is acting up and I need to get this done, saved, and posted before it goes out and I lose all the work I’ve done tonight. For the most part this comedy will make you laugh, especially when Tom Selleck goes to the store to get baby supplies. Unfortunately, they don’t keep that up, which is one of the big flaws of this film. The potential for hilarity was pushed aside for the drug smuggling angle and/or baby mama drama at the end. Still, this is a film worth watching. Yes, I highly recommend it, as you can watch this at nearly any time during the day or night. Give it a shot, why don’t you?

4 3/4 out of 5 stars

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