Archive for April, 2011

Our Song

Posted in Drama, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , on April 27, 2011 by Mystery Man


Our Song follows three high school girls over one summer in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. The girls, Lanisha (Kerry Washington), Maria (Melissa Martinez), and Joycelyn (Anna Simpson) are best friends and confidants. They have different family situations, different romantic interests, different moral codes and their own unique dreams.

They are all dedicated members of the Jackie Robinson Steppers, a community marching band, that holds daily rehearsals in a local parking lot. The girls want to master the instruments they play in order to impress their conductor.

Joycelyn works at a makeup boutique, while both Marie and Lanisha work at a bakery. Sometimes they talk about what they’ll do after high school, but most of their conversations are about the difficult immediate issues that face them daily:

  • Their school is not going to reopen in the fall because there is asbestos contamination, so they each challenged with finding a new school with a good reputation, enrolling, and planning the daily commute.
  • Pregnancy and teen motherhood are serious considerations for the girls, as many of their friends have babies.


Based on my interest in Drumline, this film, Our Song, was recommended. Honestly, the only similarity between the two films is that they deal with marching bands. This film, though, uses the band much in the same way football was used in The Blind Side, and that is more as a back drop rather than a focal point.

This film is shot on a sort of documentary style, which was a real turnoff for me. Heck, that’s the reason I don’t really care for The Office or Parks & Recreation, yet I love Modern Family (Sofia Vergara…need I say more?).


Where was I? Oh yeah, amongst all that documentary style camera shots, this picture does actually have a plot, which is the 3 girls and their problems. In other words, this is one of those coming of age films.

Does that mean its bad? Not by any stretch of the imagination, but it does seem to drag on and on and not really get anywhere. This is where the scenes involving the Jackie Robinson Steppers marching band (played by themselves) comes in.

They bring in a nice break from the monotony of watching these girls have their various issues that really aren’t that interesting. Yet, somehow, the audience is still riveted. It is like watching reality TV, I suppose. For people with common sense, its nothing but drivel, but the common audience member will somewhat enjoy.

I’ll be honest with you, there isn’t much to this film. Three girls, their relationships, some scenes with a band, heavy pregnancy drama, and an abrupt ending. Having said all that, this film was really well made. I don’t highly recommend it, but if you’re into these coming of age dramas, then it is right up your alley.

3 out of 5 stars

2 Fast 2 Furious

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on April 27, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

After allowing fugitive Dominic Toretto to evade arrest in the first film, former LAPD officer Brian O’Conner finds himself on the run and leaves Los Angeles for Miami to start a new life. There, he makes new friends with Tej Parker (Ludacris), an ex-street racer, and Jimmy (Jin Auyeung), a well-known car tuner as well as Suki (Devon Aoki), also a street racer. Brian is now known by his street name “Bullet” due to his driving skills and his modified silver Nissan Skyline GT-R R34. He competes with fellow street racers in high stakes races to win money using the skills he learned as a member of Toretto’s now disbanded crew.

One night after winning a race, he is caught by U.S. Customs agents after his car is disabled by the fictional grappling hook-shaped ESD (Electronic System Disabler) that is deployed by Agent Markham (James Remar). Upon his arrest, Brian is offered a deal by Federal Bureau of Investigation Agent Bilkins (Thom Barry) to take part in a joint Customs/FBI operation in exchange for his criminal record being wiped clean. The operation involves his street racing background, but seeing that neither Customs nor the FBI have a convincing racer to be his partner, Brian tells Bilkins he will select a partner of his own.

Brian and Bilkins travel to Barstow, California, to watch a demolition derby. There, they meet up with local champion Roman “Rome” Pearce (Tyrese Gibson), a former friend of Brian who had served jail time and is on house arrest. Their reunion starts with a fist fight until Brian convinces Rome to join him on the mission in exchange for his crimes pardoned and his ankle monitor removed. They return to Miami, where they are briefed on their mission – which is to go undercover as street racers and participate in a money laundering run for Carter Verone, (Cole Hauser) a ruthless Argentian drug lord. They are assisted by Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes), a female undercover U.S. Customs agent who liaisons as Carter’s love interest. For their mission, Brian and Rome are issued two modified cars – a yellow Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VII and a purple Mitsubishi Eclipse GTS Spyder, respectively.

The duo participate in an audition race across Miami to recover a package inside an impounded Ferrari 360 Spider and deliver it to Verone, not knowing that their cars are equipped with tracking devices that give Markham’s squad their locations. Upon arriving at the site of the Ferrari and acquiring the package, they are cornered by Markham and his squad, who think they are fleeing from the mission. Rome opens fire at the squad before the duo make their escape and head for Verone’s mansion.

After being hired by Verone as his drivers, the duo is going to a Customs/FBI hideout, where Roman confronts Markham over the latter’s interference with the mission. After the situation is cooled down, Brian tells Bilkins and Markham that Verone plans to smuggle the money into his private jet and fly off, but also suspects something wrong with Monica’s role in the mission. The duo then head to Tej’s garage, where they learn about the tracking devices in their cars and that they are also being tailed by Verone’s henchmen Enrique (Mo Gallini) and Roberto (Roberto Sanchez).

That night, Brian and Rome meet up with Verone at his night club, where Verone tortures Detective Whitworth (Mark Boone, Jr.) into giving him a 15-minute window to keep the police away from their laundering run. They report this back to their superiors the next morning, but Brian suspects that this mission will go out of hand due to Markham’s hair-trigger attitude against them, along with information secretly told by Monica that the drop-off point is at a secluded airstrip and Verone is to have the duo executed after the run. As a solution to these problems, Brian and Rome come up with plans of their own.

They issue a challenge to racers Korpi (John Cenatiempo) and Darden (Eric Etebari) – two other drivers from the audition race – for pink slips in a tag-team relay race. Despite having smaller engines than Korpi’s Chevrolet Camaro Yenko S/C and Darden’s Dodge Challenger R/T, the duo manage to win the race and take possession of the two muscle cars. Afterward, they have Tej and his gang modify the muscle cars and have him get all the street racers ready for the next day.

On the day of the mission, Brian and Rome begin transporting duffel bags of Verone’s money with Enrique and Roberto riding along. Before the 15-minute window is set, Detective Whitworth decides to call in the police to move in for the arrest, resulting in a high-speed chase across the city. The duo lead the police to a warehouse, where a scramble by dozens of street racers disorient the police. Following the scramble, police manage to pull over the Evo and the Eclipse, only to find out that they were driven by Tej and Suki, respectively. In the midst of the chaos, Brian and Rome manage to lose the cops by using the muscle cars.

As Brian approaches the destination point, Enrique tells him to make a detour away from the airfield. Meanwhile, Rome gets rid of Roberto by using an improvised ejector seat powered by nitrous oxide. At the airfield, Customs agents have Verone’s plane and convoy surrounded, only to discover they are duped into a decoy maneuver while Verone is at a boat yard several miles away. As he knew Monica was an undercover agent, he gave her the wrong information on the destination point. When Brian arrives at the intended drop-off point, Enrique prepares to kill him when Roman suddenly appears, with both of them dispatching Enrique. Verone makes his escape aboard his private yacht, but Brian and Rome use the Camaro and drive off a ramp at high-speed, crashing on top of the yacht. The duo manage to apprehend Verone and save Monica.

With their crimes pardoned, Brian and Rome ponder on what to do next other than to settle in Miami when Brian mentions starting a garage. Rome asks how they would afford that and Brian reveals that he took some of the money as Rome also reveals that his pockets aren’t empty. Turns out that both of them secretly took some cash from the confiscated duffel bags.


The second film in The Fast and the Furious franchise reunites the audience with (now former) LAPD Officer Brian O’Connor and these fabulous souped up cars.

2 Fast 2 Furious picks up shortly after The Fast and the Furious, where O’Connor, having let Dominic escape, is now living down in south Florida, avoiding arrest. After winning a street race, he is chased down by the cops and eventually caught. They make a deal to clear his record if he brings in Carter Verone, a criminal drug lord they’ve been after. He takes the deal, ut only if he can pick his partner, an old friend who is under house arrest. The two make their way into Verone’s operation and the film goes into typical franchise fashion afterwards.

If you like the first film, this one may or may not be a disappointment. For me, I actually saw this when it came out, but never saw the first until a couple of weeks ago, so my opinion is a little skewered, as opposed to those who saw these films in order.

Having said that, after watching the first film, and then this one, I can see how one would be not so pleased with the picture. The first film was almost non-stop action, which is beyond awesome! I love that kid of stuff. This one tried to make the action secondary, which was a big mistake if you ask me.

The thing about that, though, is that you just know the shift toward an actual plot was to please the critics, but they blasted this one even more than the previous.

I won’t go that far, but I can say that hopefully the following entries in the franchise go back to the original formula.

Speaking of the plot, it seemed as if they could have done more with it, if they were going to focus on the acting more than the action, but they didn’t, so it was a bit of a letdown. I guess I just expected there to be more sadisticness from Verone, similar to the hot pail rat scene, but that’s just me.

As far as the cast goes, there really isn’t anything special in terms of what they do. Trained monkeys could throw their poop and it could do these roles. Having said that, Devon Aoki and Eva Mendes were hot as hell and Tyrese brought in some nice comic relief, which was a nice touch.

What is the final verdict on 2 Fast 2 Furious? Well, it is step down from the original, but it is still entertaining. Should you see it? Well, if you’re like me and OCD about franchises, then yes, but as far as a stand-alone film, then no. I hear, though, this is head and shoulders above the next film in the series, so, it does have that going for it. For me, though, this was just an average film that seemed to suffer from the lack of Vin Diesel and the studious attempt to cash in on the popularity of the first film.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Yogi Bear

Posted in Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Yogi (voiced by Dan Aykroyd) and Boo Boo (voiced by Justin Timberlake) are two brown bears who have a penchant for stealing picnic baskets from visitors to Jellystone Park, while park rangers Smith (Tom Cavanaugh) and Jones (T. J. Miller) try to prevent them from doing so. Meanwhile, Mayor Brown (Andrew Daly) realizes that his city is facing a financial crisis due to profligate spending on his part. To solve it and fund his election campaign to be the next state governor, the mayor decides to “find some place losing money so he can earn it”, and he picks Jellystone, the park where the bears live. The park is selected as a logging site, and Jellystone is shut down. Now seeing that their home is in danger of being destroyed, it’s up to Yogi and Boo Boo, along with Ranger Smith and a documentary-shooter named Rachel (Anna Faris), to save the park.

To save the park from being shut down, Ranger Smith holds a Centennial festival where he hopes to make a profit selling Season Passes. To sabotage the effort, Mayor Brown plays on Ranger Jones’ ambition to be head ranger and promises him the position if the funds are not raised. Yogi had promised Smith to stay out of sight during the festival, but Jones convinces him to go ahead with a plan help. Yogi tries to please the crowd with a waterskiing performance which goes awry when he inadvertently sets his cape on fire. In the ensuing chaos, the fireworks Smith set up are knocked over and ignited prematurely, launching them into the assembled audience who flee in a panic. After Jellystone is shut down, Ranger Smith is forced to stay in Evergreen Park, a small urban enclave choked with litter and pollution, but not after he tells Yogi that Yogi is not as smart as he thinks he is. Smith, Rachel, Yogi, and Boo Boo plan to stop the sale of Jellystone. They learn that Boo Boo’s pet turtle is a rare species, which means that the Park cannot be destroyed with the turtle there. Mayor Brown finds out and orders his guards to kidnap the turtle so that he can cut down all trees of Jellystone and confesses to Yogi, Smith, Rachel, and Boo Boo, that he doesn’t care about the law and wants power more than what is best for the people and the environment.

However, Rachel had previously put a video camera in Boo Boo’s bow tie as part of the documentary which later recorded Mayor Brown’s confession. The turtle escapes Mayor Brown’s assistant by using his frog-like tongue to pull itself into the forest from the car. Yogi and Boo Boo keep the guards distracted so that Ranger Smith can upload Mayor Brown’s unintended confession to the jumbo screen. When the confession is replayed, the police arrest Mayor Brown and his Chief of Staff, who lies that there is no rare turtle when the turtle reveals himself to the people. Smith tells Yogi that he really is smart and thanks him for saving Jellystone. Jones loses the position of head ranger and Smith takes it back, but Jones still works there, giving out papers about how Jellystone has a rare type of turtle.


Remember back in the day when cartoons actually came on television, and that they were hand-drawn, not computer animated? Well, that was when Yogi Bear rules the airwaves. Well, maybe not ruled, but he surely carved out a niche for himself. A big enough one that, in 2010, this live-action film was made.

In a manner similar to other cartoons that have been brought to the big screen and changed to live-action, such as Scooby-Doo, Dudley Do-Right, George of the Jungle, Alvin & the Chipmunks, Mr. Magoo, and to a lesser extent, The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, Yogi Bear does its best to maintain the spirit of the original, while making it accessible to modern (read=younger) audiences.

Does the film succeed at that task? Honestly, I think it does, but since most of the film takes place in the park, there really isn’t much that had to do with society, except for stuff involving the humans, who, with the exception of Ranger Smith, his love interest, the unnecessary Ranger Jones, and of course the villanous mayor (and his minions).

The plot here, as with every Yogi Bear, cartoon starts off with Yogi and Boo Boo attempting to pilfer a pic-a-nic basket. After some hilarious hijinks, we meet the other characters in the film, the rangers, and then the mayor and his lackey, who have discovered the city is near bankrupt. This causes them to search for ways to get some money for the city. They come up with the idea of selling off Jellystone since it doesn’t meet its operating costs.

This flick was released in 3D. A friend of mine actually wasted the money he didn’t have to see it in “glorious 3D” (note the sarcastic tone). I didn’t see anything that would warrant shelling out the cash to see this in 3D. Hell, I didn’t see anything here that would warrant seeing it in the theater.

I have to say, though, that I had low to no expectations for this film. I surely wasn’t expecting to be entertained as much as I was. Having said that, I think it did get a tad bit formulaic. A soon as they introduced Ranger Jones (don’t ask me why they felt the need to create another ranger), it was obvious he would do something boneheaded that would impact the film. Couple that with the way the film just ended up playing out, you could pretty much tell what was going to happen.

Was I expecting some kind of weird twist? No, but I did think that perhaps it would have been something not so obvious.

The casting of Dan Akroyd and Justin Timberlake as Yogi and Boo boo worked much better than I thought it would, especially Timberlake. Akroyd sounded exactly like theo riginal Yogi, as did Timberlake. I don’t know if any voice altering was done to get that effect, or if that is true talent, but it is impressive.

Tom Cavanagh is ok as Ranger Smith. The guy doesn’t really have to do much, though. This is a character who is secondary to Yogi, but the filmmakers did all they could to make him almost the focal point of this film, and that is what hurts. He may have been great on Ed, but as a leading man on film, he just doesn’t cut it.

Anna Faris has nothing to do here but look hot (when does she not?), and chime in with some knowledgeable insights. I would say this is a waste of her talent, but this is one of those films where the humans are secondary, so its ok.

T.J. Miller suffered from having a character that just wasn’t worth seeing. This guy was annoying, forced in the film, and really didn’t warrant any reaction from the audience.

Andrew Daly did a pretty good job as the mayor. His sarcastic tone and swagger made this evil mayor character memorable.

What is the final verdict on Yogi Bear? Well, it is surprisingly good. The action and comedy mixed together makes it really fun to watch. If you’re in the market for a good film to watch with the kids, then this is one of the films you should seriously consider. It isn’t perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but it is worth the viewing. Who knows? You may even like it!

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Love & Other Drugs

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the year 1996, Jamie (Gyllenhaal), who works at an electronics store, is fired for sleeping with his manager’s girlfriend. After his parents find out and criticize Jamie for leaving medical school, his wealthy brother Josh (Josh Gad) offers to find him a job as a medical representative. Jamie goes to work for Pfizer and tries to get doctors to prescribe Zoloft and Zithromax. He is rebuffed constantly much to the dismay of his partner Bruce (Oliver Platt), who sees Jamie as his ticket to the “big leagues” of Chicago. Bruce tells Jamie if he can get Dr. Knight (Hank Azaria) to prescribe Zoloft instead of Prozac, all the other doctors will follow his lead. Jamie uses his skills as a womanizer to gain access to Dr. Knight through his female staffers.

Jamie meets one of Knight’s patients, Maggie Murdock (Hathaway), who suffers from early onset Parkinson’s disease. Jamie arranges a date with her, which lasts only minutes before they return to her apartment and have sex.

In the hospital parking lot, Jamie is beaten up by the top-selling Prozac rep Trey, also one of Maggie’s lovers, who warns Jamie to stay away from her and the doctors. That night, Jamie goes to Maggie’s apartment, and they start having sex but Jamie is unable to get an erection. Maggie teases him that he should use the new erection drug, Viagra, that his company has developed. Jamie starts selling Viagra, which becomes very popular with the doctors.

Jamie tries to convince Maggie to have a fuller relationship with him, but she refuses. The next day, Maggie is helping senior citizens onto a bus bound for Canada to get cheap prescription drugs when Jamie shows up. They argue about their relationship and she leaves. Jamie waits in the parking lot, and the next day when the bus comes back, Maggie is touched that he waited and tells him she will have a relationship with him.

Jamie asks Maggie to go to a medical conference with him in Chicago. While at the conference she is invited to a Parkinson’s convention across the street. She is moved by the people and their stories. She asks Jamie to come over and join her and he meets a man whose wife is in the final stages of the disease. Jamie asks for advice about Maggie, and the man tells him to run. This shakes Jamie. After the convention, Maggie tells him how much she loves him.

Jamie starts researching Parkinson’s and pushing Knight for information on specialists. He starts taking Maggie to a specialist and paying for her to have tests done. At one office Jamie becomes upset because their appointment was rescheduled after they had flown in to see the doctor. While Jamie is yelling at the receptionist, Maggie walks out. They fight and Maggie says there is no cure. Maggie sees that Jamie can only love her with the hope that one day there will be a cure, and so she breaks up with him.

Some time later, Jamie goes to meet Bruce for dinner and runs into Maggie, who is on a date. Bruce shows up and says that Jamie has been promoted to the Chicago office. Jamie goes home and starts to pack but realizes he wants to be with Maggie and goes to the diner where she works. Her boss tells him she has left for Canada to obtain drugs and Jamie goes off after her. Jamie flags down the bus Maggie is on. Maggie gets off and says that Jamie has five minutes to talk. He tells Maggie about how she makes him a better person, that he loves her and needs her. She starts to cry and says she will need him more. The film ends with Maggie and Jamie living together with Jamie refusing the Chicago promotion, and enrolling in medical school.


I seem to be watching alot of movies based on book here lately. Perhaps this is just the warmup for the summer blockbusters that are almost all comic book films…at least the ones that I’m excited about, anyway.

So, Love & Other Drugs is another in this line of films I’ve watched that was based on a book. I’ve never read the actual book, but speculation among those who have seen this film and read the novel is that they used very little from the source material. I’m no fan of departing from the source material, but after watching the film, specifically the second half, I can live with the departure if it lightened it up a little.

The film revolves around Jamie, who comes from what appears to be a rich, or at least well-to-do family, but he hasn’t made anything of himself, yet. Whereas his siblings are doing well for themselves. For instance, his brother is some sort of internet millionaire or something. Jamie does have the “gift of gab” as someone put it, which would make him the ideal salesman, and at the suggestion of his brother, he becomes a pharmaceutical salesman. This is how he ends up in the Ohio River Valley area (it is never said exactly what city or state). Up there, as he is getting he feet wet in the sales world, he meets Maggie, a young photographer who has stage I Parkinson’s Disease. The two have lots…and i do me mean LOTS…of sexbefore Jamie suddenly gets all serious and wants a relationship. This is a romantic comedy, so you can guess that this, coupled with the Parkinson’s stuff is where the comedy stops and the drama begins.

Many who have seen this seem to be saying the same thing. It feels like two different films. The first half, which is the kind of stuff we guys like sex and jokes and such, whereas the second half is all about feelings, relationships, and all that sappy stuff that women are into.

Being a guy, I obviously preferred the first half, but the second half wasn’t bad. I think what turned me off was the sudden change in tone. I’m a big fan of films that keep the same tone throughout. If you’re going to be all serious, then do it from the get-go. If you’re going to be light-hearted and funny, then do so.

With this film, and such a heavy topic, such as a major disease like Parkinson’s, I think it would have been better served to keep it light, and not get so serious. I have no problem with some serious scenes here and there, but to change the entire tone of the film, just sort of ruined it for me.

Going back to the first half of the film, though, it was sheer brilliance. On top of being funny, there were plenty of skin shown. I heard someone say in a reve that these were some of the most realistic sex scenes done on-screen, because they didn’t cover up afterwards. Usually, women have sex, and then get all modest, whereas, here, Anne Hathaway just gets up and struts around afterwards. I’m exaggerating, of course, but you get the picture.

The chemistry between Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway is priceless. We’re talking up there with some of the premiere cinema couples like Humphrey & Bogart, Astaire & Rogers, etc. Yes, they are that good together.

In terms of their individual performances, Gyllenhaal gives one of his best, but then again, he rarely does anything bad, even if the film isn’t that great. This character seems to have been written just for him, as he totally owns it.

For me, it was hard to see Anne Hathaway run through the first half of the film naked. Don’t get me wrong, I could watch her nude anytime…unless I had just finished watching portions of The Princess Diaries the night before. It kind of threw me for a loop. On the same token, she has really come into her own as an actress that many thought would have disappeared by now. This is truly a meaty role. She had to be not only sexy and funny, but a little bit on the damaged side, as well as portray the disease, which couldn’t have been an easy task.

There is a scene in this film that was just disturbing. Without spoiling anything, think about what it would be like if you made a sex tape and your sibling happened to see and decided to start masturbating to it. Yeah, it was quite odd. Funny…but odd. Sort of leaves the audience with that WTF?!? uncomfortable feeling.

In conclusion, Love & Other Drugs is one of those films that comes along and gives something for both men and women. Unfortunately, those things happen at opposite ends of the film, causing a bit of disconnect throughout the picture. That point aside, this actually is a really well-made film. Is it perfect? No, but it is worth watching and a definite must-see.

4 out of 5 stars

I Love You Phillip Morris

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2011 by Mystery Man


The story begins with Steven Jay Russell (Jim Carrey), on his apparent deathbed, recalling the events of his life. He begins with his early adult years in Virginia Beach as a happily married police officer. He plays the organ at church, has unenthusiastic sex with his wife, Debbie (Leslie Mann), and spends his off hours searching for his biological mother, who gave him up as a child.

After a violent car crash, Russell leaves his family and previous life behind, and goes out into the world as his true self, which is as a gay man. He moves to Miami, finds a boyfriend (Rodrigo Santoro), and begins living a very expensive lifestyle. The need for money causes him to turn to a life as a con man. When his scams finally catch up with him, Russell is sent to prison, where he falls in love with gay inmate Phillip Morris (Ewan McGregor).

From then on, the narrative becomes a story of a forlorn lover who cannot bear to be separated from his soul-mate. Russell helps get Morris freed from prison by posing as a lawyer, then attains wealth by acquiring a position as chief financial officer of a large company, always one step ahead of the law.

Back in prison, Steven is separated from Phillip, who hears that Steven is deathly ill and becomes desperate to see him one more time. Steven is willing to go to almost any length to make that happen.


First of all, Phillip Morris, in this film, is a real person and not the cigarette company. Admit it, some of you thought that, when you heard the title. I know I did.

I Love You Phillip Morris is a comedy based on book, which itself was based on a true story.  Some have compared the beginning of it to Me, Myself, & Irene. I wouldn’t go that far, but I do see where their train of thought is going.

The plot of this film revolves around Steven Jay Russell, who has a nice little life, then after a chance car accident, he decides to come out of the closet. After some time down in Florida, he realizes that being a flamboyant gay man is expensive, so he becomes a bit of a con man, which eventually results in him going to jail. In prison, he has a chance meeting with Phillip Morris, who goes on to become the love of his life, who he does what he can to be sure they can be together, including getting transferred to the same prison. Afterwards, they start they’re life together, and Russell continues his con artist ways, becoming a lawyer and ultimately a CFO, which lands him back in prison and in the leads to film’s conclusion.

The comedic parts in this film are great. They aren’t slapstick funny, but if you’ve ever seen a Jim Carrey movie, then you know he is as good at delivering funny lines as well as doing physical stuff. After watching this, I did a little bit of research on Steven Jay Russell and many of these things that happened actually happened. Having said that, it makes sense as to why they made this a comedy, as opposed to some kind of drama.

Jim Carrey is at his finest here. Not only do we get his usual slapstick comedy, he also gets the chance to flex his acting chops, especially in the final scenes where, I won’t give it away, but something happens to him that really tugs at the heartstrings. The people I was watching this with were both in tears during this, then he all of a sudden does something unexpected.

Ewan McGregor always surprises me when he does a southern accent, especially since he’s Scottish. Add to the fact that he is about as sweet as sweet can be in this role, which believe it or not, is somewhat limited and you have one of his best performances, as well.

I do have a bit of an issue with this film, though, and that is the flamboyant gay scenes after Carrey comes out. I think that they played up the stereotypical aspect of the gay lifestyle, which is fine. It even results in one of the funniest lines of the film, where Carey says “…being gay is expensive.”

On top of that, there is this scene where it seems as if Carrey is having wild sex with his wife. He’s all sweaty and everything, and they we find out he’s with some guy. That was one of those WTF?!? moments, but again, it’s a bit stereotypical, yet funny.

In the end I Love You Phillip Morris is a really good film that is actually underrated. I don’t even believe it received a full theatrical release, but it was one of the darling of one of those film festivals. As we all know, critics and the public don’t usually agree, but they actually likes this one, and so did I. Does that mean you will? Well, you have comedy, drama, and a twist, so there is a little something for almost everyone in this film. Chances are you will, but you’ll only know if you go check it out.

4 out of 5 stars

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Posted in Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 20, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

11-year-old Greg Heffley (Zachary Gordon) is anxious to start middle school, confident he will easily become the school’s most popular kid. However, Greg worries about how his “childlike” best friend, Rowley Jefferson (Robert Capron), will fit in. While Rowley is a good friend who helps Greg escape his terrorizing older brother, Rodrick (Devon Bostick), Greg worries that Rowley’s “dorky” clothes and personality will embarrass both of them.

On their first day, Greg and Rowley meet Angie Steadman (Chloë Moretz), a seventh grader who works for the school’s paper. Throughout the school year, Angie gives Greg and Rowley information about the workings of middle school, which she believes was created to store kids while they make the awkward transition between children to teenagers. Classmate Chirag Gupta (Karan Brar) tells Greg and Rowley the story behind the moldy slice of Swiss cheese laying on the school’s basketball court; upon touching the cheese, a kid named Darren Walsh (Harrison Houde) contracted the Cheese Touch; anyone who touches the cheese will create chaos as they pass on the Cheese Touch by touching someone else. The Cheese Touch eventually got taken away by a German exchange student named Dieter Müller, who moved back to Düsseldorf and took the Cheese Touch with him.

Greg is determined to be voted a “class favorite” and listed in the yearbook, but each of his attempts to do so backfire. His popularity quickly drops as he loses to Patty Farrell (Laine MacNeil), Greg’s archenemy, and Fregley (Grayson Russell), the weirdest and 201st most popular (past the bottom) kid in school, in scholastic wrestling (taught by Coach Malone, portrayed by Andrew McNee); Greg angers teenagers on Halloween night by threatening to call the cops on them after they spray him and Rowley with a fire extinguisher, and then damages their eight-generation Ford F150 pickup truck with a weed whacker; Greg joins the geeky Safety Patrol with Rowley; and breaks Rowley’s left hand during winter vacation during a game Greg invented with his Big Wheel. At school, everyone notices Rowley’s broken hand and Rowley becomes very popular, much to Greg’s dismay. Rowley’s popularity increases when he beats Greg to become the school paper’s cartoonist, despite Greg’s dismissal of his ideas.Greg found a cheese ball pizza.

Greg and Rowley’s friendship falls apart after Greg allows Rowley to take the blame for a mistake Greg made during Safety Patrol. After Greg tells Rowley the truth and tries to tell it as a joke, Rowley berates him for being a bad friend who cares about nothing but himself. When Mr. Winsky, the Safety Patrol teacher, heard what had actually happened, he told Greg that he was now relieved of his Safety Patrol duties “effective immediately”, and promotes Rowley to a captain. Rowley then leaves Greg and befriends a kid named Collin Lee (Alex Ferris). Greg tries to move on by having a sleep over with Fregley, but Fregley’s sugar-induced hyperactivity is too much for him to take. He then tries to pursue popularity without Rowley by auditioning for the school play of The Wizard of Oz, but ruins the performance by starting an apple-throwing fight with Patty when she throws a temper tantrum in the middle of the performance.

At the school mother-son dance, Greg’s mother (Rachael Harris) suggests Greg ask Rowley to go out for ice cream with them. However, Collin tells Greg that he and Rowley already have plans. Later, Greg is excited when Rowley comes up to him in school, but is disappointed when he learns Rowley only wants a game back. Greg refuses to return the game, causing them to get into an argument. Kids gather around them, wanting them to fight, but are quickly dispelled when the teenagers that Greg and Rowley had angered on Halloween drive up, looking for revenge. The kids find the Cheese and make Rowley eat it. They are about to force Greg to eat the cheese when Coach Malone arrives, leading the kids to run away.

The children return and find the partially eaten cheese. Patty begins to accuse Rowley, but Greg steps in and takes the blame. He picks up the cheese and makes a profound speech about the ridiculousness of the cheese and other middle school institutions, but Patty ruins it when she shouts out that Greg has the Cheese Touch, causing everyone to run away from Greg. Greg and Rowley make up, and Angie approaches them to compliment Greg for his bravery. Greg and Rowley make it into the class favorites list as “cutest friends”. The film ends with Greg, Rowley, and Angie laughing after Patty hugged Rowley and contracted the Cheese Touch, and Greg narrating that he still has the summer and next year ahead of him.


When this film was first released, I thought it was just one of those films meant to bring in the preteen boys. It really didn’t look all that interesting to me, bt I did promise to check it out on DVD, which is what I’ve done tonight.

I still am glad that I didn’t waste the money to see Diary of a Wimpy Kid in theaters, but this was surprisingly better than I expected it to be.

The plot of this film is centered around Greg Heffley and his first year in middle school and the things he tries to do to be remembered and not a “geek” or “baby”.

Seriously, that’s all there is to the plot, except for some friction between him and his brother and the conventional battle between best friends.

This film is based on a book series of the same name, so I don’t know how much was changed, except that they added the character of Angie Steadman. Don’t ask me why they felt the need to add her in there, but they did.

While this picture exceeded my expectations, I have to say that the major character, Greg Heffley has to be one of the most unlikable stars of a film I’ve ever come across. If not for the girl bully and his big brother, dare I say he wold be the most hated person in the picture, and that is not a good sign when you’re the “wimpy kid” in a film called Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I wonder if he is this unlikable in the book, or worse, because he was such a pox on the existence of mankind in this film, I almost couldn’t watch.

On the flipside, his best friend is the typical lovable chubby sidekick, bt I think that is why his character works so well. While the audience can’t get invested in Greg, they can fall in love and feel sorry for Rowley, especially after watching the abuse he constantly gets from Greg.

There are some special effects in this flick, but they resemble the cheap kind that you would see on SyFy channel. Having said that, they really aren’t supposed to be anything earth shattering, so I can let that slide.

The little cartoons that are shown throughout the film are really the highlight of this picture as they really allow the viewer to visualise what Greg is going through, but through his eyes. It really was brilliant for the filmmaker to add those in there.

So, what is the final verdict of Diary of a Wimpy Kid? Well, it has its moments here and there. It definitely is a good family film, but if you’re above the age of 14 or 15 and you’re watching this, you may not enjoy it as much as you would think. I honestly think you’d be better served digging up some old episodes of Recess. However, as I said before, this isn’t as bad as I expected. Does that mean you should rush out and see this? Not by any stretch of the imagination, but if you’re looking for a good family flick, this should get some consideration. As far as just a generic film to watch, the unlikable, unrelatable main character kills everything that this film had going for it, and ruins its rating.

3 out of 5 stars

Silent Movie

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Spoofs & Satire with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 20, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Mel Funn, a great film director, is now recovering from a drinking problem and down on his luck. He sets out to Big Picture Studios to pitch a new script to the Chief, aided by his ever-present sidekicks Dom Bell and Marty Eggs.

His big idea: the first silent motion picture in forty years. At first the Chief, who is in danger of losing the studio to the (literally) rabid and greedy New York conglomerate Engulf & Devour, rejects the idea, but Funn convinces him that if he can get Hollywood’s biggest stars to be in the film, he could save the studio.

Funn, Eggs, and Bell proceed to recruit various people for the movie. First they attack Burt Reynolds in his shower, confront James Caan outside his trailer, impress Liza Minnelli at the commissary, and dance for Anne Bancroft at a night club. News breaks out that the Chief has had an accident and is sent to the hospital. While there, Mel phones Marcel Marceau in Paris who declines the offer, delivering the only line of dialogue in the film, in French: “Non!” When asked by the others what Marceau said, Funn explains he doesn’t understand French. Paul Newman is seen on the hospital grounds. After a chase in electric wheelchairs, he asks to be in the movie. Funn and company reply with the atypical Hollywood-esque “We’ll get back to you.”

Engulf and Devour, meanwhile, worry that Funn will save Big Picture Studios and they will be unable to buy it. They attempt to “stop Funn with sex” by sending voluptuous nightclub sensation Vilma Kaplan to seduce Funn and pretend to be in love with him.

Funn falls head over heels, but when Eggs and Bell reveal the truth to him on the day before filming begins, the director returns to drinking. He goes to pieces until discovering that Vilma has actually fallen for him. Several hundred cups of coffee sober him up.

Funn’s silent movie is filmed in the blink of an eye. Unfortunately, the only copy of it is stolen from the theater by Engulf & Devour just before its big premiere.

Vilma volunteers to stall the theater’s audience with her nightclub act while Funn and his associates go out to steal back their film. They succeed, but are chased by Engulf and Devour’s executives. Ultimately cornered, they defeat their foes by using a soda machine that launches cans of Coca-Cola like grenades. They hurry the film to the theater, where it is shown for the first time. After the movie is over, the audience leaps to its feet while balloons and streamers fill the air. “They seem to like it,” Funn says.

The film ends with a title card: “This is a true story.”


It has been a while since I watched a Mel Brooks film. I think the last one was either Spaceballs, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, or Blazing Saddles, but I can’t be sure which one.

I’m a big fan of classic cinema, though I haven’t been able to really get into silent films that way I would like to, with the exception of Nosferatu. When I found out that Mel Brooks had made a spoof on the genre, I just had to see it, which is how I ended up watching Silent Movie.

Our plot revolves around 3 friends who are trying to get a picture made by a major movie studio. It turns out that one of them was a big shot director at one time, but turned to the bottle and more or less ruined his career. The guys go in for the meeting with the head of the studio, only to find out that it is about to be bought by an evil conglomerate if they can’t produce a hit. So, our fearless heroes take their idea (for a silent movie) and set out to bring in some of the biggest names in Hollywood, at the time, to star in it. Hilarity and hijinks ensue.

It has really been quite some time since I laughed so hard at a film. What really impresses me about this picture, though, is that it is as funny as can be using only sight gags, physical comedy, and slapstick noises. Simple, bt effective. Who says you need all those bells and whistles, right?

I have but one minor complaint about this picture. The cameos by famous stars such as Burt Reynolds, James Caan, Liza Minnelli, Anne Bancroft, Paul Newman, and Marcel Marceau were all great, but it seemed as if some were fleshed outa bit more. For instance, Reynolds, Newman, and Bancroft got extensive scenes while Minnelli, Caan, and Marceau got a couple seconds on screen before they were gone and never heard from agin until the end credits. It just seemed a bit unbalanced to me, is all.

If you’re going to make a silent movie in the day and age when those great films and techniques are forgotten in favor of the technological advent of sound, then you better do something that will make people want to sit and watch a silent movie. Mel Brooks, accomplishes just that with Silent Movie but incorporating slapstick, music, great writing, and of course the irony of the one line of dialogue that is spoken in the entire picture…I’ll let you watch and see what I mean by that one. This is a great picture to watch and have a good laugh. I highly recommend it!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars


Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , on April 19, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

When a Japanese fishing boat is attacked by a flash of light near Odo Island, two rescue boats are sent, but they too are destroyed, with only a few surviving. On Odo Island, a village elder blames their poor fishing on Godzilla and recalls that in earlier times native girls were sacrificed to appease the giant sea monster. Word gets out and a helicopter arrives on the island with curious, but skeptical, reporters. Frightened natives perform a nighttime ceremony to keep the monster away. However, that night, while the natives sleep, a storm arrives and Godzilla comes with it. Death and destruction ensue.

The next day, witnesses arrive in Tokyo. Archeologist Dr. Kyohei Yamane (Takashi Shimura) suggests that investigators be sent to the island. On arrival, Yamane finds giant radioactive footprints, and a trilobite. When an alarm sounds, the villagers arm themselves with sticks and run to the hills, only to find Godzilla is more than they can fight. After a quick skirmish, the villagers run for safety and Godzilla heads to the ocean.

Dr. Yamane returns to Tokyo to present his findings and concludes that Godzilla was created by a nuclear explosion. Some want to conceal that fact, fearing international repercussions. Others say the truth must be revealed. They prevail and Godzilla’s origins are announced to the public. Ships are sent with depth charges to kill the monster. When they fail, Godzilla appears again, causing nationwide panic. Officials appeal to Dr. Yamane for some way to kill the monster, but Yamane wants him kept alive and studied.

Meanwhile, Emiko, Yamane’s daughter, decides to break off her engagement to Yamane’s colleague, Dr. Daisuke Serizawa (Akihiko Hirata), because of her love for Hideto Ogata (Akira Takarada), a salvage ship captain. Before she can do that, Serizawa tells her about his invention, the Oxygen Destroyer, which can kill all life in the sea. He gives a small demonstration, using a fish tank in the lab. She is sworn to secrecy and never gets a chance to break off the engagement.

That night Godzilla climbs from Tokyo Bay and attacks the city. Though the attack is over quickly, there is much death and destruction.

The next morning the army constructs a line of 40-meter electrical towers along the coast of Tokyo that will send 50,000 volts of electricity through Godzilla, should he appear again. Civilians are evacuated from the city and put into bomb shelters.

That night Godzilla does indeed attack again. He easily breaks through the electric fence, melting the wires with his atomic breath. A bombardment of shells from the army tanks has no effect. Godzilla continues his rampage until much of the city is destroyed and thousands of civilians are dead or wounded. Godzilla descends unscathed into Tokyo Bay, despite a squadron of fighter jets’ last-ditch attack.

The next morning finds Tokyo in ruins. Hospitals overflow with victims, including some with radiation poisoning. Emiko witnesses the devastation and tells Ogata about Serizawa’s secret Oxygen Destroyer. She hopes together they can persuade Serizawa to use it to stop Godzilla. When Serizawa refuses, Ogata and Serizawa fight and Ogata receives a minor head wound. As Emiko treats Ogata’s wound, Serizawa apologizes, but he refuses to use the weapon on Godzilla, citing the public bedlam his weapon could cause. Then a newscast shows the devastation Godzilla has caused. Choirs of children are shown singing a hymn. Moved, Serizawa decides he will use the weapon only one time and then its secret must be destroyed for the good of humanity. He then burns all his papers and research. Emiko breaks down and cries when she sees this, as she understands that Serizawa is sacrificing his life’s work to stop Godzilla.

A navy ship takes Ogata and Serizawa to plant the device in Tokyo Bay. They don diving gear and descend into the water, where they find Godzilla at rest. Ogata returns to the surface as Serizawa activates the device. Serizawa watches as Godzilla dies then cuts his own oxygen cord, sacrificing himself so his knowledge of the device cannot be used to harm mankind. A dying Godzilla surfaces, lets out a final roar, and sinks to the bottom, disintegrating.

Although the monster is gone, those aboard ship are still grim. They don’t know if the death of Godzilla is the end or the beginning of an apocalyptic era. Godzilla’s death has come at a terrible price and Dr. Yamane believes that if mankind continues to develop weapons of mass destruction, Godzilla may return


No, this isn’t some random foreign film that you’ve never heard of. Gojira, in case you couldn’t tell, is actually the way Godzilla is said in Japanese.

When I first read the synopsis of this film, I thought it seemed similar to a Godzilla flick I had watched not too long ago. It turns out that I was right.

American audiences were treated to a slightly edited version of this exact film when Godzilla: King of the Monsters was released over here in 1956. Having said that, let it be known that Gojira is the film that introduced the world to Godzilla.

If you’ve seen one Godzilla film, then you pretty much know the basic plot. Godzilla suddenly appears/awakes in the harbor and heads toward Tokyo. The military and scientists all struggle to figure out a way to stop him, or at least slow him down. There’s the pretty girl, usually the daughter of the compassionate scientist who is eye candy, of course. The film climaxes with a showdown between Godzilla and the military.

There really isn’t anything spectacular about this particular entry into the Godzilla franchise, but then again, it is the first one, so it set the bar for many films that followed. Sure the effects are cheesy, but this is 1954, after all.

Godzilla himself, actually looks more real than he does in later films. It isn’t so obvious that he’s a guy in a suit. So, what happened after this one that caused them to make the King of Monsters look so fake, I wonder.

I have to take issue with the way the military seems to trigger happy to destroy Godzilla, rather than even bother to spare his life. Of course, this is something that is prevalent in all the films, so I should be used to it by now, one would think.

As a stand alone film, Gojira is ok, but nothing to write home about. However, when you factor in that this is the start of one of cinemas great franchises, then it makes it seem alot better than it actually is. My honest opinion of this film, though, is that it is good, but not great. Should you see this film, though? Sure! I mean, this is the original Godzilla!!! Why wouldn’t you?

3 out of 5 stars

Dirty Love

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , on April 18, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Rebecca (Jenny McCarthy), a struggling photographer, finds her model boyfriend Richard (Victor Webster) in bed with another woman. He also destroys all of her camera equipment. She is distressed by this and falls apart, alternating between wishing to get revenge on him, make him jealous, or just abandon hope of love and become sexually promiscuous.

Her best friends, Michelle (Carmen Electra), a hip body waxer, and Carrie (Kam Heskin), an airheaded actress, try to set her up on dates. These include one with a freakish magician (Guillermo Díaz) and another with a man who gives her ecstasy and has a fetish for fish. She attempts to make Richard jealous by taking a director, who is reminiscent of Woody Allen, to a runway show; he ends up vomiting on her breasts in front of everyone.

Ultimately Rebecca realizes she should focus her energy on being with someone who truly loves her, and that turns out to be John (Eddie Kaye Thomas), her nerdy but caring best male friend who has been supportive of her through the entire ordeal.

Rebecca (Jenny McCarthy), a struggling photographer, finds her model boyfriend Richard (Victor Webster) in bed with another woman. He also destroys all of her camera equipment. She is distressed by this and falls apart, alternating between wishing to get revenge on him, make him jealous, or just abandon hope of love and become sexually promiscuous.

Her best friends, Michelle (Carmen Electra), a hip body waxer, and Carrie (Kam Heskin), an airheaded actress, try to set her up on dates. These include one with a freakish magician (Guillermo Díaz) and another with a man who gives her ecstasy and has a fetish for fish. She attempts to make Richard jealous by taking a director, who is reminiscent of Woody Allen, to a runway show; he ends up vomiting on her breasts in front of everyone.

Ultimately Rebecca realizes she should focus her energy on being with someone who truly loves her, and that turns out to be John (Eddie Kaye Thomas), her nerdy but caring best male friend who has been supportive of her through the entire ordeal.


This is one of those films that was made, I believe it went direct to DVD (maybe video), as an attempt to get guys to willingly watch romantic comedies. Let’s face it men, Jenny McCarthy is one of those girls we could watch do just about anything, and you throw in the fact that Carmen Electra is in here and that was sure to draw guys in.

The sad part about Dirty Love is that they don’t really capitalize on the hotness of Carmen or Jenny. As a matter of fact, this was nothing more than your usual chick flick, in terms of plot.

There is a slight bit of comedy here and there, which separates this from being one of those chick flicks. There is lots of toilet humor. For instance, when Jenny McCarthy is talking to her mother, they end the conversation with dieling farts.How oftendo you see something like that?

Not to sound like a total horndog or anything, but given the title, I was sort of expecting a little more sex, perversion, or something. We got glimpses of it, but the only skin we say was one scene where McCarthy has a wardrobe malfunction and turns it into a full on flashing of the crowd.

There were some sick perversions to be found in the film, though, such as the fish guy…I’ll leasve it at that. You can use your imagination or see for yourself.

As with all romantic comedies, there is this one guy/girl who is right under their nose that seems to do everything to get noticed, then when it happens, they get pissed of about God knows what, and Eddie Kaye Thomas’ character is no exception. I can’t even remember what set him off, bt he stormed out after Jenny McCarthy realized that she was in love with him. Isn’t that always the way?

Adding to the oddity of this movie is Carmen Electra’s character. Now, I’ve known more than a few white girls who tried to act “black”, but I honestly believed her character really believed it. Depending on how you look at it, this could be the best or worst part of the film. I’m still on the fence about it.

When it comes down to it Dirty Love is a hit or miss. It is a hit if you’re one of those wants to ogle over Jenny McCarthy for 90 minutes, but a miss if you want to see a film that is actually worth watching. Now, I won’t go so far as to say you should avoid this thing, but it isn’t something I would go out of my way to see.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Game of Death

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on April 16, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The story is told in flashback as the story of CIA agent Marcus Jones’ final mission unspools in the form of a confession to a Catholic priest played by Ernie Hudson. The mission began when Jones’ mentor in the CIA, Dietrich, informed him that having successfully eliminated an Iranian agent in New York City, his next assignment is to gather intelligence for the possible prosecution of American citizens Frank Smith, an arms dealer, and John Redvale, a hedge fund manager. Jones succeeded in being hired as Smith’s bodyguard and was accompanying Smith to the Redvale building, where Smith was supposed to obtain $100,000,000 in cash, when several things happen at once. Unknown assailants attack the vehicle in which Smith and Jones are travelling. While Jones is distracted, Dietrich, flying above them in a helicopter with several other CIA agents, discovers that the others are traitors when they kill him. They are after the $100,000,000.

Jones and Smith survived the attack partly because Smith had a heart attack just as it began and their heads were out of sight of the rear window, which was shot out, resulting in the death of their driver. Jones takes the wheel, loses the killers, and drives Smith to Detroit Medical Center, where he is provided with lifesaving care. Rather than give him time to recover properly, however, the CIA mutineers show up and begin killing hospital staff. Jones, their primary target, eludes them for twenty minutes, killing five of them, until Floria (Zoe Bell) takes him prisoner and takes him to new team leader Xander (Gary Daniels). Jones is knocked unconscious and left to take the blame for the heap of dead bodies while Smith is taken, along with one miraculously spared doctor (Aunjanue Ellis) to meet Redvale (Quinn Duffy) so that the killers can get his $100,000,000.

More violence ensues when Redvale decides the best course of action is to let the killers have the money, then hunt them down and kill them many years later (a plan he unwisely explains to them). Meanwhile, Jones steals an ambulance and drives to Redvale’s building to save the doctor and eliminate his former team members. Accomplishing both of these missions, Jones then miraculously eludes scores of Detroit Police Department officers whom he told Redvale’s employees to summon for some unknown reason (presumably he wanted to escape, after all, which he does with approximately $25,000,000). As Jones leaves the cathedral and the priest to whom he made confession, a young man tosses a basketball to him, which helpfully reminds Jones that God isn’t through with him yet. He walks off into a beautiful morning.


Please excuse the briefness of this review, I have a long day ahead of me tomorrow and need to get to bed ASAP!

How is it that a film about a rogue CIA agent can be so boring? I really would like to know, because this film, Game of Death, nearly put me to sleep.

The plot revolves around a CIA agent and what appears to be a confession about what has happened since he was last in church. He was recently a bodyguard for a wealthy arms dealer, until he had a heart attack and rogue CIA agents killed his boss in an effort to get the old man’s money.

Yes, the plot does sound interesting, but it doesn’t come off that way on the screen. As a matter of fact, the action scenes in here are rather tame. Now, this may just be the fact that I was trying to not be up too late watching this film/writing this review, but it just seemed as if this film was made simply to give Wesley Snipes something to do while he was facing tax evasion charges.

I hate to say that, bt it was true.

Now, while this film was about as boring as watching paint dry, it was a decent enough picture that those that are into this kind of stuff wold enjoy. For me, it wasn’t that interesting, so the crafting of the film as a whole was lost on me a bit. Should you see this, though, I guess is the big question? Well, I won’t say you shouldn’t, as well have different tastes, but this is one of those films that the second after the credits roll, you are sure to forget and/or have feelings of remorse for even wasting your time on it.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Blind Side

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

For most of his childhood, 17-year-old Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) has been in foster care with different families throughout Memphis, Tennessee. Every time he is placed in a new home, he runs away. His friend’s father, whose couch Mike had been sleeping on, asks Burt Cotton (Ray McKinnon), the coach of Wingate Christian school, to help enroll his son and Mike. Impressed by Mike’s size and athleticism, Cotton gets him admitted despite his abysmal academic record.

At his new school, Michael is befriended by a boy named Sean Jr. “SJ” (Jae Head). SJ’s mother Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) is a strong-minded interior designer and the wife of wealthy businessman Sean Tuohy (Tim McGraw). After a late night Thanksgiving school play, Leigh Anne notices Michael walking on the road, shivering in the cold; when she learns he intends to spend the night huddled outside the school gym, she offers him a place to sleep at her house. The next morning, when she sees Michael leaving, she asks him to spend the holiday with her family. Slowly, Michael becomes a member of the Tuohy family, even as Leigh Anne’s rich friends wonder what she is doing. One even suggests that her teenage daughter Collins (Lily Collins) is not safe around him, much to Leigh Anne’s disgust.

When Leigh Anne seeks to become Michael’s legal guardian, she learns he was separated from his drug-addict mother when he was seven and that no one knows her whereabouts. She is also told that even though he scored low in almost every category, he is in the 98th percentile in “protective instincts”.

After his grades improve, Michael is allowed to join the school football team. He has a shaky start due to his polite and gentle nature, yet after some encouragement by Leigh Anne to tap into his “protective instincts” and regard his teammates as he would members of his family, Michael dominates on the field. SJ sends out videos of the games to college coaches around the country. Leigh Anne discovers that to get a NCAA Division I scholarship, Michael needs a 2.5 GPA, so they hire a tutor, Miss Sue (Kathy Bates). Some of the teachers help out as well, and Michael ends up with a GPA of 2.52.

When coaches come to recruit Michael, Leigh Anne makes it clear that she prefers the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) as both she and her husband are alumni. Miss Sue, another Ole Miss alumna, tells Michael (who dislikes horror films) that the FBI buries body parts under the University of Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium for research; Leigh Anne particularly loathes that school. Michael commits to Ole Miss.

Subsequently, Michael and the Tuohys become the subject of an NCAA investigation. The investigator tells Michael that the Tuohys and Miss Sue are fervent Mississippi boosters, who are subject to special restrictions, and his high school coach got a job at Ole Miss after Michael chose the school. Michael confronts Leigh Anne, asking her if she only took him in so he would play football for her alma mater. Michael then goes to his birth mother’s apartment in the projects. His old friends welcome him, but their leader makes crude remarks about Leigh Anne and Collins. In the ensuing fight, Michael dispatches three thugs and then flees the scene.

Leigh Anne searches for Michael. He finally calls her, and they meet. Leigh Anne tells him she will support any decision he makes. Michael satisfies the investigator by explaining that he chose Ole Miss because his whole family has gone there.

Later, Leigh Ann and her family take Michael to the Ole Miss campus to begin college. The film ends with an emotional goodbye between Leigh Anne and Michael. The closing credits show the 2009 NFL Draft with the real Michael Oher being drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round. Photographs of Oher and the real Tuohys follow, with Oher’s success in the NFL detailed. The credits include a dedication to director John Lee Hancock’s father, a football player and coach who died in 2009.


This film has been called a non-football football movie. I didn’t even think that was possible, really, but apparently The Blind Side does just that.

This film is the life story of Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Michael Oher and how he was adopted by the Tuohy family, started playing football, and eventually made it to the NFL.

Initially, I thought this was just going to be another one of those boring dramas, just with a football theme. Thankfully, that isn’t what this turned out to be. Much in the same way I was shocked by how interesting Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire turned out to be surprisingly interesting, this film followed the same pattern and made me wish I had actually given it a chance back when everyone was all gaga over it.

As with all biopics, the thing that has me the most curious, is how much of this really happened, and how much was done just to make an “interesting” film. For instance, there is a scene during one of the few football games they show that Big Mike picks up a linebacker and takes him all the way across the field, dumps him over the rail, and gets asked by his coach where he was taking him, to which he replies that he was taking him to the bus and that it was time to go home.

It is little inserts of humor that keep this from being the total snorefest that one would expect from a drama, though.

The acting here is really great, of course almost all of the cast is actually from the south, so those accents weren’t too much of a stretch, save for having to adjust to Tennessee twang.

Sandra Bullock did such a great job in this role that she won an Oscar for it. Do I really need to say more?

Tim McGraw has really come into his own as an actor over the years. While he doesn’t have much to do here, the few scene he is in are pretty good.

Quinton Aaron had the intimidating task of being Big Mike and I think he did a good job of it. He didn’t do the gy any injustice. You have to wonder, though, how mch pressure was on this guy to play someone who is still alive and in the prime of their life. Oher is currently playing in the NFL. Normally, biopics are made of people who are dead or up there in age. I say this and just remembered that there was some kind of movie about Prince William and Kate Middelton on last night.

I do have a slight issue with the casting, though, and that is when they show what the Tuohys during the credits, they are nowhere near as attractive a couple as Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw. I know that they were cast for box office draw, well…Bullock was, but you’d think they’d have found someone who resembled these people more. They had no problem finding some fugly woman to play Michael’s mom. I’m just saying.

Each year, I come across a drama that makes me sit up and take notice, it seems like. I guess this year’s version is The Blind Side. I thoroughly enjoyed this film, in spite of its lack of football. I highly recommend this to any and everyone. It truly lives up to the hype!

5 out of 5 stars

True Grit

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Westerns with tags , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

After Frank Ross (John Pickard) is murdered in October 1880 by his hired hand, Tom Chaney (Jeff Corey), in Fort Smith, Arkansas, Ross’ 14-year-old daughter Mattie (Kim Darby) travels to Fort Smith and hires the aging U.S. Marshal Reuben “Rooster” J. Cogburn (John Wayne). Mattie has heard that, despite his vices and missing eye, Cogburn has “true grit”. She gives Rooster a down payment to track down Chaney, who has taken up with “Lucky” Ned Pepper (Robert Duvall), a gang leader whom Rooster once shot in a gunfight.

The pair must head into Indian Territory (Oklahoma). Mattie buys a horse for this, after collecting money from a horse trader. They are joined by a young Texas Ranger, La Boeuf (Glen Campbell), who hopes to collect a $1,500 reward for capturing Chaney, much more than Mattie is offering Cogburn. The ranger says Chaney also killed a Texas Senator named Bibbs, and Bibbs’ dog. Mattie dislikes the boastful La Boeuf and refuses his assistance, but the ranger joins forces with Cogburn, who agrees to split the reward with him. The two try to abandon Mattie, but they learn that she is determined to join their posse.

After several days, the three plan to spend the night at a cabin which Cogburn had said would be empty. At the cabin, they discover Emmett Quincy (Jeremy Slate) and Moon (Dennis Hopper), two horse thieves waiting for Pepper. Moon’s leg is badly injured and Cogburn uses the injury as leverage to get information about Pepper from them. To prevent Moon from telling too much, Quincy fatally stabs Moon with a knife, and Cogburn kills Quincy. Before Moon dies, he tells Cogburn that Pepper and his gang are due at the hideout that night; the posse lays a trap.

The following morning, Pepper and his men arrive at the hideout. La Boeuf mistakenly fires and a shootout ensues, during which Cogburn and La Boeuf kill two of the gang, but Pepper and the rest escape. Cogburn, La Boeuf and Mattie make their way to McAlester’s store, where the marshal arranges for the four dead men to be buried.

The three continue their pursuit. After a few days, Mattie slips down a steep hill one morning on her way to bathe in a river and finds herself face-to-face with Chaney. She shoots and wounds him, calling out to her partners. Pepper and his gang capture her, and he forces Cogburn and La Boeuf to abandon the girl.

Cogburn doubles back and attacks Pepper and his gang. La Boeuf finds Mattie and moves Chaney to an area he thinks is secure. La Boeuf and Mattie move to an outcropping and watch as a mounted Cogburn confronts Ned and his three gang members. Cogburn tells Pepper he has a choice of getting killed or surrendering and being hanged at Judge Isaac Parker’s convenience. Pepper replies that is “bold talk for a one-eyed fat man.” Cogburn shouts “Fill your hand, you son of a bitch!” just as he begins charging the four gunmen shooting a rifle in one hand, a pistol in the other and the horse’s reins in his mouth. Rooster shoots down three of the gang and wounds Pepper, but Rooster is trapped under his fallen horse which has been shot by Ned. As Pepper prepares to shoot Rooster, La Boeuf kills Pepper from the outcropping located a great distance away.

As La Boeuf and Mattie return to Pepper’s camp, Chaney comes out from behind a tree and smashes a rock over La Boeuf’s head, knocking him unconscious and fatally wounding him. Mattie shoots and wounds Chaney in the arm, but is driven back from the recoil, falls into a pit and breaks her arm. Cogburn arrives and fatally shoots Chaney, sending him into the pit. In the pit, Mattie is bitten by a rattlesnake, which Cogburn shoots dead as he descends into the pit on a rope. La Boeuf, thought to be dead, peers over the pit and helps them get out by pulling them out with a rope tied to his horse. After Mattie and Cogburn are safely out of the pit, La Boeuf falls off his horse and dies.

In a hurry to get help for Mattie’s snakebite, they have to leave La Boeuf’s body. They both must ride Mattie’s horse, but the overloaded horse collapses and dies before they reach their destination. Undaunted, Cogburn gathers Mattie in his arms and carries her until they encounter some horsemen with a wagon. Cogburn steals the wagon and they ride it the rest of the way to McAlester’s. There, an Indian doctor treats Mattie’s snakebite and splints her broken arm.

Days later, Mattie’s attorney, J. Noble Daggett (John Fiedler) arrives. Throughout the plot, Mattie has frequently used his name as a legal threat on occasions when she fails to get her way. He pays Cogburn a $75 reward for Chaney’s capture, plus an additional $200 for saving Mattie (at her request). Mattie is still ill from the snakebite and Cogburn offers to bet the attorney the $275 that Mattie will make it back to her home, but Daggett declines to bet against her.

Weeks later, we find Mattie, arm in a sling, recovered and at home. She shows a visiting Cogburn her family burial plot on the land. Cogburn was there to receive all the reward money offered for Chaney in Texas, which was apparently more than the $75 he initially received. She promises that he can be buried next to her family after his death. Cogburn reluctantly accepts, hoping his burial will not be too soon. She offers him her father’s pistol which he reluctantly accepts, stating that it misfired once. He leaves, jumping over a fence with his horse to disprove her claim that he was too old and fat. He heads off into the valley below as the film ends.


 For those of you who can’t tell by that poster up there, this is a review of the original True Grit, and not that bastardized version that was released a few months ago.

The past few westerns I’ve watched have been on the disappointing side, so it was good to watch one that actually was worth watching.

The story revolves around 14 yr old Mattie Ross who has just lost her father and is out to find someone to dish out some justice and avenge him for her. The sheriff of Ft. Smith gives her the name of Rooster Cogburn, whom she immediately tracks down and insists he track down her father’s killer. After he reluctantly agrees, they are joined by Texas Ranger La Boeuf and they set out into Indian territory in search of the killer.

The pacing of this film is one of the best things about it. I’ve seen all too many westerns that seem to take forever to get to the climax, leaving the audience half asleep by the time they get there. True Grit doesn’t do that, but instead moves along at a steady enough pace that the audience is interested in everything that happens from the opening credits to the fade to black at the film’s end.

Some people have derided this film for not being gritty enough for a film that has grit in the title. Well, if you want to see a dark, gritty version of this, then read the book or waste your time with the remake.

I actually loved the tone of this film. The lighthearted comedic moments added a little something extra to the film that wasn’t necessarily needed, but presented an extra bit of flavor, if you will.

This is a western, so I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the gunplay and action. I’m not so sure it is the true highlight of the film. In the same vein as How the West Was Won, True Grit seems to focus more on the plot and drama, rather than the final shootout. Not a thing wrong with that, but for some reason I expected the opposite.

Having said that, I have to mention the impressiveness of John Wayne (or his stunt double) at 61 yrs old able to ride his horse (with the reins in his mouth) and shoot a rifle and a six-shooter. It was quite the impressive site…dare i say that it was a truly badass moment!

Speaking of Wayne, I’m not sure what to say about his performance as Rooster. I mean, he’s played some great and memorable characters in his career, yet this, one of his final roles, is the one that won him an Academy Award. Watching his performance, it is no surprise, though.

I’m actually a little surprised that Kim Darby didn’t go on to have a better career, but then again, I’ve read how some people have called her performance the worst thing about this film, so it all depends on how you look at things. For me, she came off as a bit annoying, but given the nature of her character, it was acceptable.

Glen Campbell started off as an interesting character…the hero to Wayne’s anti-hero, if you will. After they head off on the search, though, he seems to just become the generic lawman until his act of bravery during the film’s climax.

True Grit is one of the better westerns I’ve seen. With its mixture of action, drama, and comedy, plus the immortal John Wayne starring in it, how can you go wrong with this picture? This hands down one of the films you should see before you die, without a doubt! If you are just hell-bent on seeing the remake, then I implore you check out this, the ORIGINAL True Grit first.

5 out of 5 stars

Movie Challenge

Posted in Uncategorized on April 15, 2011 by Mystery Man

So, faithful readers….chances are if you’re actually reading this, it means you actually love movies. good for you!

I have a favor to ask of anyone that is reading this and is on Facebook. A friend of mine has started one of those 30 day challenges that are sweeping over the site like wildfire. If you get bored and have a couple of seconds, why not join in and take the challenge, or at the very least, hit the like button?

here is the link:!/pages/30-Day-Movie-Challenge/177921818925714

please and thank you!