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

Illegal

Posted in Classics, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on September 14, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Victor Scott (Edward G. Robinson) is a District Attorney with a drive to win every case. He is assisted by attorney Ellen Miles (Nina Foch) who is not quite as relentless, but is devoted to her D.A. boss. After Scott discovers that a man he sent to his death is innocent, he falls into an alcoholic haze, is arrested for drunk and disorderly conduct, and determines to defend another incarcerated man. This leads to a new career as a defense attorney.

Scott ends up defending an associate of the city’s crime boss, a man he refused to work for earlier due to the fact that “…no one would testify against you; you own the people who work for you.” This, in turn, leads him into direct confrontation with the very office he used to head.

Ellen Miles kills her husband in self-defense. Scott is determined to clear her, as there are no witnesses. There is an ongoing leak between the D.A.’s office and the crime boss. The leak turns out to be Ellen’s husband, Ray Borden. The new D.A., not knowing this, determines that Ellen herself is the leak and that she murdered her husband when found out.

REVIEW:

Before I begin this review about Illegal, can I just mention how hard it is to find anything about this film on-line? Seriously, type “illegal” or “illegal movie” in and this is not the first thing to come up. There are some rather, shall we say, questionable websites that popped up in my search. Obviously, I did find what I was looking for, and that is this film noir that I’m watching at this late hour.

What is this about?

Ambitious D.A. Victor Scott zealously prosecutes Ed Clary for a woman’s murder. But as Clary walks “the last mile” to the electric chair, Scott receives evidence that exonerates the condemned man. Realizing that he’s made a terrible mistake he tries to stop the execution but is too late. Humbled by his grievous misjudgement, Scott resigns as a prosecutor. Entering private practice, he employs the same cunning that made his reputation and draws the attention of mob kingpin, Frank Garland. The mobster succeeds in bribing Scott into representing one of his stooges on a murder rap and Scott, in a grand display of courtroom theatrics, wins the case. But soon Scott finds himself embroiled in dirty mob politics. The situation becomes intolerable when his former protege in the D.A.’s office is charged with a murder that seems to implicate her as an informant to the Garland mob. Can Victor defend the woman he secretly loves and also keep his life?

What did I like?

Not so fast, pretty boy. Today’s leading men, Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Denzel Washington, etc. are all “pretty boys”, if you will notice. Back in the day, though, audiences were not so hung up on looks or maybe it was the fact that they were more interested in the actor’s talent. This explains how a hideous troll like Edward G. Robinson had such a tremendous career. He can really act, and not just as  the shifty gangster types he normally was cast as, but he was allowed to shine in roles likes this where he gets to really flex his acting chops.

Gray matter. Expectations can be a tricky thing. I went into this film, expecting a morally black and white film, as can be expected when dealing with the law. However, this is more about lawyers, who are known to be just as crooked, if not more so than gangsters. I don’t need to tell you that this made for quite the interesting shades of gray. Robinson is the good guy, but he’s still a bad guy, if that makes any sense.

Introducing…Jayne Mansfield. A real treat makes an appearance in a rather small, but important role. Not quite a sex symbol, Jayne Mansfield appears in one of her first movie roles. It is well documented that I love, love, LOVE Jayne, but I had no idea she was in this flick until she popped up, and even then I had to do a double take (not counting that her name was in the opening credits). I believe this is her best serious performance. She’s using her real voice, not the manufactured airehead voice that she would use after she rose to fame, which makes this role much more subdued and in step with the rest of the cast. Can you imagine later Jayne in this film? Trainwreck!!!

What didn’t I like?

Theatrics. Robinson’s courtroom theatrics were interesting and are surely the reason he was such a good attorney. If Law and Order (and its many spinoffs) used some of that, maybe I’d actually watch. For me, though, while I enjoyed his antics, I couldn’t help but think they were a bit much for a film that is this serious. It was almost like watching Night Court instead.

Mob tactics. Guess what? The mob is in this film showing their might and doing mob type enforcing stuffs. What’s the problem with that? Well, it just doesn’t seem like this version of the mob is as intimidating as they could and should be, at least to me. They come off as just some guys in suits with resources, rather than a highly connected and efficient group of hitmen, thieves, and assassins.

Hugh. Token 50s asshole Hugh Marlowe once again plays the same role he always played. I know this guy had his fans, but I’m not one of them. True, his film personal worked for how this film played out, there still could have been a better way to utilize his talents. I may just be letting my disdain for this guy cloud my judgment, though.

When the dust clears, Illegal turned out to be a really, really good film noir that I’m glad YouTube recommended, otherwise I would have never heard of, let alone seen. The script is tight, especially for this era of film, the acting is top-notch, and the pacing is just that right mix of snappy, yet slow enough for the audience to keep up with everything. There are few flaws here and there, but they are few and far between. I highly recommend this as a film you should see before you die!

5 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 9/11

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on September 11, 2014 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!

I’m currently working on a Halloween project for work. While perusing through various Halloween YouTube videos, I came across the trailer for a film I had never heard of but, if this trailer is any indication, I may have to watch just because of how awful it looks. What do you think of A Night to Dismember?

 

 

side note: to my knowledge, this is a real trailer, except for the words that appear near the end. don’t you just love that it comes from a vhs tape? I miss those some days.

The Haunted Mansion

Posted in Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 10, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Jim Evers is a workaholic real estate agent whose continuous pursuit for new deals leaves very little time with his family. He misses his wedding anniversary with his wife Sara, but to make amends, suggesting going on vacation to a nearby lake. Beforehand, Sara is contacted by the occupants of Gracey Manor, located in the Louisiana bayou. Eager to make a deal, Jim drags Sara and his children Megan and Michael to the mansion. They meet its owner Edward Gracey, his stern butler Ramsley, and other staff members Emma and Ezra. When a storm floods the nearby river, Gracey allows the Evers to stay the night, though everyone save Jim is unhappy with the idea. Ramsley takes Jim down to the library to have a talk with Gracey, but while he waits, Jim gets trapped in a secret passage.

Megan and Michael encounter a spectral orb and follow it up to the attic, where they find a portrait of a woman resembling Sara. Sara herself talks with Gracey in the library, who explains his grandfather hanged himself after his lover Elizabeth Henshaw poisoned herself despite their plans to wed. Jim meets Madame Leota, a gypsy woman’s ghost whose head is encased in a crystal ball, but she scares him away. Jim runs into his children, Emma and Ezra, and returns to Madame Leota for answers about Elizabeth’s likeness to Sara. It is revealed everyone in the mansion are ghosts, cursed a century ago by Gracey and Elizabeth’s suicides and can only go to the afterlife when they are reunited, and Gracey believes Sara is his lover back from the dead. Madame Leota sends the Evers off to the mansion’s expansive cemetery to find a key which will reveal the truth behind Elizabeth’s unusual death. Jim and Megan venture into a crypt where they find the key, but disturb its undead residents. They escape with help from Michael. Madame Leota then instructs them to find a trunk in the attic, Jim unlocking it to find a letter written by Elizabeth to Gracey, revealing she wanted to marry, revealing she was murdered. Ramsley suddenly appears, revealing he poisoned Elizabeth to prevent Gracey from abandoning his heritage. To hide the truth, he traps the children in a trunk and throws Jim out of the house, enchanting the house so Jim cannot break in.

Gracey and Sara enter the ballroom. He asks Sarah if she can recognize him which confuses her. Desperate, he insists to Sara that she is his beloved Elizabeth from long ago. The room fills with ballroom dancing ghosts of the past which causes Sara to flee from the room. As she runs up the stairs Gracey reveals his true ghost self to Sara begging her to understand and that she really is Elizabeth and that they can finally be together. She shouts that she is not Elizabeth and slams the door in his face. Gracey begins to believe that Sarah can’t Elizabeth because she doesn’t remember him. But Ramsley insists that it is her and that in time she will remember. Ramsley tells Sara to get ready for her wedding to Gracey. Sarah refuses but Ramsley blackmails her into marrying Gracey in return for her children’s safety. Encouraged by Madame Leota, Jim drives his car through the mansion’s conservatory, rescues his children, and stops Sara and Gracey’s wedding ceremony where he gives Elizabeth’s real letter to Gracey. Gracey confronts Ramsley, who rages at his master’s apparent selfishness for loving Elizabeth, and summons wraiths to kill the group. However, a fiery dragon emerges from the ballroom fireplace and drags Ramsley down to hell for eternal damnation for his crimes. Sara suddenly collapses, having been poisoned by Ramsley during the wedding, only for the spectral orb encountered by the children to appear and possess Sara, revealed to be Elizabeth’s ghost. Elizabeth and Gracey reunite, and Sara is revived. With the curse lifted, Gracey gives the Evers the mansion’s deed and departs to the afterlife with Elizabeth, Emma, Ezra, and the other ghosts.

The Evers head off on a proper vacation, accompanied by Madame Leota, and four singing busts strapped to the back of their car. In a post-credits scene, Madame Leota bids farewell to the audience, inviting them to join the dead using dialogue from the Disneyland attraction.

REVIEW:

Anyone that has ever been to Disneyworld, or knows anything about Disney, is at least somewhat familiar with the fact that this film The Haunted Mansion, much in the same vein as the first Pirates of the Caribbean was an attempt to bring the ride to life on the big screen. However, it wasn’t the huge success that some assumed it would be, but why is that, besides not have a mega budget?

What is this about?

When Jim Evers, his wife and kids encounter a ghost while visiting a haunted house during a job interview, they get a crash course in family values.

What did I like?

Tragic story. Well, we can’t have a big haunted house without some tragic history, right? In this case, the well to do owner of the house has his beloved taken away from him through an apparent suicide that, from what I can tell, closed to door for all spirits to pass through on those grounds. Truly this is a tragic love story. Imagine if Scarlett O’Hara hung herself and Rhett Butler was heartbroken for centuries about her death. So much so, that he stays and searches for his lost love to be reincarnated.

Kneel before Stamp. Terrence Stamp can really play the stoic villain. Some forget that he was the iconic villain in Superman II, General Zod. This character calls for him to be a proper British butler and also a delusional ghost who takes his duties too far, I’ll leave it at that. This film isn’t known for being scary, but Stamp makes an attempt to add in a bit of haunting that it severely needed.

Ghostly appearance. I was gearing up to complain about the way the special effects in this film look a bit…unkept, but then I noticed something about the ghosts. They have the appearance reminiscent of the ride. Say what you will about this film, at least it is making an attempt to stick to its roots. Can the other films based on rides say that? Ok…maybe Tower of Terror, but that was specifically made as an advertisement for that particular ride. I have to tip my hat to the effects department for being cheap and having it work.

What didn’t I like?

Haunted? I know that this is a Disney film about a Disney ride and all that jazz, but should something that has the word haunted in the title, actually make you feel a little bit scared in a place or two? I’m not talking full-on horror, obviously (though with the stuff that comes out today, this might actually fit in), but rather something more along the lines of a jump scare here and there. Terrence Stamp was doing a good job with his random appearances scaring the family, but that wasn’t toward the audience. I would have liked for there to have been something more haunting about this haunted mansion.

Poker head. Jennifer Tilly has had quite the interesting career. However, these days she is known mostly for her distinctive voice. Can you imagine a film starring her and Joey Lauren Adams? Oh…and get Macy Gray to do the soundtrack! Ugh! That would kill us all! Anyway, Tilly’s voice is not the only thing that gets her noticed, as she has quite the attractive body. I don’t need to tell you that there are a couple of things that can’t help but be noticed. With that said, why take away Jennifer’s body and make her a head in a jar? Seems to me that her character could have conjured up a body to help with the ongoings in the climax, rather than stay in the crashed car trapped by an airbag. I’m just saying!

Eddie, oh Eddie. Many wonder where it is that we can pinpoint the moment that Eddie Murphy’s career started to take a downward spiral and he lost his way, so to speak. This is often considered that point. As far as performances go, yeah, this isn’t Murphy on the top of his game. I’ve long said that he belongs making comedies where he can just let f-bombs fly left and right. Since this is a family picture, he had to struggle to say “crap”. Personally, I don’t think this was the film for Murphy. He did an ok job, but someone more used to doing films like this would have fit in more.

The Haunted Mansion is one of those films that you forget exists because if so overshadowed by the success of Captain Jack Sparrow and the Pirates franchise. Still, there were people who went out to see this. No, it wasn’t a huge blockbuster, but it did earn double the budget back. Will this make anyone want to go ride the ride? Perhaps, but I don’t see anyone having nightmares after watching the picture. Do I recommend this? With Halloween coming up next month, I am sure  you’re looking for something to show early on in your party. Well, that’s what this is for! That and background noise. Use in good health!

3 out of 5 stars

Jersey Girl

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on September 8, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Oliver “Ollie” Trinké (Ben Affleck) is a powerful media publicist in New York City whose wife, Gertrude (Jennifer Lopez), dies during childbirth. To avoid his grief, he buries himself in his work and ignores his new daughter, Gertie, while his father, Bart (George Carlin), takes a month off from work to care for her, but returns so that his son is forced to live up to his responsibility as a parent. Under the stress of a botched diaper change and a baby who will not stop crying, Ollie trashes his client Will Smith for his soon-to-be released film Independence Day in front of assembled reporters. The outburst costs him his job, so he moves in with his father in New Jersey. He eventually apologizes for ignoring his daughter, and attributes his public outburst to his grief.

Blacklisted by all of New York City’s public relations firms, Ollie has to work as a civil servant in the borough where he now lives with his father. Seven years later, Gertie (Raquel Castro), now in elementary school, often coaxes him to rent films to watch. At the video store, they meet Maya (Liv Tyler), one of the store’s clerks, whose uninhibited probing into Ollie’s love life almost leads to them having casual sex. She soon becomes a part of their lives.

As part of his job in the borough, Ollie speaks to a group of outraged citizens to win over their approval for a major public works project that will temporarily close a street in the neighborhood. His successful and enjoyable interaction with the crowd leads him to realize how much he misses the public relations work. He contacts Arthur (Jason Biggs), his one-time protégé, who sets up a promising interview.

The prospect of moving to New York creates tension among Ollie, Gertie, Bart, and Maya, especially when he says that his interview is on the same day as Gertie’s school talent show. She yells at him, saying she hates him and that she wishes he had died instead of her mom. He claims he hates her right back, and says she and Gertrude took his life away and he just wants it back. He immediately regrets it and tries to apologize, but the damage is done and she pushes him away and runs to her room, crying. A few days later he and Gertie finally patch things up, and she accepts the fact that they will be moving to New York. While waiting to be interviewed, he has a chance encounter with Will Smith (playing himself), the man he trashed at his public outburst years before. Smith has no idea who Ollie is, but the two spark a conversation about work and children.

Ollie is able to make it to Gertie’s Sweeney Todd performance at the last moment. The film ends with him, Gertie, Bart, Maya, and the rest celebrating at the bar. He and Maya hint at possible feelings for each other before being interrupted by Gertie. He holds her and says that they are staying in New Jersey because he did not take the job. She asks why he did so if he loved it so much. He says that he thought he did, but he loved his new life more because being a father to her was the only thing that he was ever really good at.

REVIEW:

One of the hottest directors of the mid 90s and early 2000s was Kevin Smith. He brought something new to films that hadn’t really been seen since the days of Woody Allen, a love for his hometown (or state in this case) and a passion to show real people problems not some exaggerated lifestyle like we normally see in movies and television. All this is not to even mention Jay and Silent Bob! However, as stated in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Smith couldn’t rely on “dick and fart jokes the rest of his life.” Jersey Girl was his first foray outside of the ViewAskew universe. Was it worth the trip, or should Smith go back and stay there?

What is this about?

When a music publicist suddenly faces single fatherhood and a defunct career, only a new love and his daughter’s courage can help him bounce back.

What did I like?

The feels. Remember Up? Almost everyone I know (male and female) have breakdowns watching the first 20 minutes or so of that film. You know the part where they show Ellie growing up and eventually passing away. That same sucker punch to the gut happens in the beginning of this film. We get to know a little bit about Jennifer Lopez’s character, how she met Ben Affleck’s characters, their relationship, etc. Then, tragedy strikes! I guess if you consider Kevin Smith’s other films up to this date, he needed to do something to have people take him and this film seriously. If that is the case, then this is a great way to start!

With a little help from your friends. In every Kevin Smith movie, with the exception of Red State and perhaps this new one he has coming out soon, you can be guaranteed to see certain actors because of his friendship with them. Ben Affleck and Jason Lee are the most closely associated with this phenomenon, if you will. Lee has a small cameo in here (with Matt Damon), but this is the second film where Affleck is the star. The other being Chasing Amy and a case could be made for Dogma. Isn’t it good to have friends like Affleck, Damon, Lee (who was just starting My Name is Earl when this was filmed, I believe), and can call in names like Jason Biggs, George Carlin, Jennifer Lopez, dig up Lady Aberlin from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, and somehow land Will Smith in your film?

Meat pies. One of the reason I knew anything about Sweeney Todd when it was released, was because of this movie. The fact that an 8-year-old girl knows about this musical and wants to perform it on stage was awesome. Never mind the fact that it was, as best as I could tell, a Catholic school. Now, try getting away with that today and they’ll have the parental units tarred and feathered, but when everyone is doing “Memory” from Cats, you’re more than happy to make an exception. I’m sure glad Smith decided to not make us listen to all those renditions. I’m not sure the audience could take it!

What didn’t I like?

Liv a little. Liv Tyler is one of the most beautiful and talented actresses around, even if she can’t sing. You would think that since she’s the new found love interest for Affleck’s character, she’s have been given something juicy to do, but that is not to be the case. She has one “typical female” scene, as a friend called it when we saw this years ago, where she spews out a string of emotions toward Affleck. Other than that, she is mostly used as a female presence to replace Jennifer Lopez.

Cameo. The whole reason for the fall of Affleck’s character (he loses his job and has to move in with his father in New Jersey) is because he has a complete blow up in front of a room full of impatient, petulant reporters clamoring for Will Smith to show. Near the film’s conclusion, Smith makes a cameo appearance in a waiting room. This seems like it would be the perfect place for a confrontation, with vitriol coming from one side or the other. Instead, it just turns into a couple of guys talking about their kids, which isn’t bad, especially because of what happens because of their little talk. It just seems that there should have been some kind of conflict there, especially from Affleck, but maybe that’s just me wishing for a fight.

He’s just not ready. Before this, Chasing Amy was Kevin Smith’s most “mature” picture, and even that has ass and titty jokes, not to mention all the juvenile ways it went about discussing the varying acts of love making as a lesbian. That point aside, there is obvious growth between then and this film, but I still don’t think Smith is ready to make these serious pictures. The man obviously knows how to tell a story, even one that tugs at your heartstrings, but the whole time I was watching this I couldn’t help but think that with all the comedy, he was holding back something vulgar or obscene. A couple more films like this, though, and Smith should be ready to be taken seriously.

Here’s a tidbit of trivia for you all. The titular Jersey Girl, played by Raquel Castro, appeared on a season of The Voice. If I’m not mistaken, she was chosen for Christina Aguillera’s team, but didn’t make it to the final. So see, even though critics panned this film almost as much as Gigli (I guess they had something against Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez), it hasn’t hurt anyone. Hell, Affleck has gone to become one of the best directors around today and is about to be Batman, so there you go. As far as this film goes, for me it is one of those films you never forget. Is it the best? No, but in the same breath I have to say that it is far from as bad as the critics want you to believe. I enjoy this film everytime I watch it and recommend that you give it a shot sometime.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

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