Archive for October, 2011

Shaun of the Dead

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on October 30, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Shaun (Simon Pegg) is a 29-year-old salesman whose life has no direction. His younger colleagues at work show him no respect and he has a rocky relationship with his stepfather, Phillip (Bill Nighy). He also has a tense relationship with his housemate, Pete (Peter Serafinowicz), because of Ed (Nick Frost), Shaun’s crude best friend who lives on their couch and deals marijuana. His girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield), is unsatisfied with their social life, because it consists primarily of spending every evening at the Winchester, Shaun and Ed’s favourite pub, as well as the fact that they never do anything alone together – Shaun always brings Ed and she has to bring her flatmates, David (Dylan Moran) and Dianne (Lucy Davis). After a miserable day at his work, Shaun gets stopped on the street by an old friend Yvonne (Jessica Stevenson) who asks him what he and Liz are doing for their anniversary — a question which makes him realise he forgot to book a table at the restaurant he’d promised Liz the previous night. Faced with this failure on Shaun’s part, Liz decides she’s had enough and breaks up with him; Shaun then drowns his sorrows with Ed at the Winchester, and Ed, consoling him, ironically quotes “It’s not the end of the world.”

Just at that moment, a man (probably already a zombie) bangs on the window sluggishly. Ed laughs at the lumbering man as obviously already being drunk. The two return home after midnight and spin electro records as a kind of impromptu breakup party, only to have Pete confront them, who is suffering a headache after being mugged and bitten by “some crackheads”. Pete berates Shaun and tells him to sort his life out. Shaun, at first angry, slowly lets his (still intoxicated) mind absorb what Pete has told him, and indeed resolves to sort his life out.

All these revelations and upheavals comes at the same time as an apocalyptic uprising of zombies, although Shaun is too hungover to notice at first. He and Ed just barely begin to become aware what is happening after watching reports on TV and after several zombies appear at their house, and they decide they need to ensure they are somewhere safe. Shaun and Ed arm themselves with weapons from the shed and realise that the safest place they know is the Winchester. They plan to collect Shaun’s mother, Barbara (Penelope Wilton), and Phillip, and Liz and her flatmates and head to the Winchester. They discover that Pete is still in the house and is now a zombie, but manage to escape in Pete’s car. After collecting Barbara and Phillip, who is bitten in the process, they switch cars and drive in Phillip’s Jaguar and head to Liz, Dianne and David’s flat, and collect them. Before they make it to the Winchester, Phillip dies of his bite, after he manages to make peace with Shaun. Forced to abandon the car, they set off on foot, bumping into Yvonne and her own band of survivors. Discovering that the path is infested with zombies, they devise a plan to sneak by, pretending to be zombies, with the help of Dianne, who is an aspiring actress. Ed and Shaun get into an argument and the zombies, after watching the commotion, realise they are not dead and approach. David smashes the window with a dustbin and, while Shaun distracts the zombies, everyone takes refuge inside the pub. Shaun joins them after giving the zombies the slip.

After several hours, the zombies return. Ed inadvertently gives away their position when he wins on the fruit machine and the zombies converge on the pub. At that moment, the pub’s landlords, also zombies, arrive and attack them. Ed manages to get the Winchester rifle above the bar working and they use it to fend off the zombies breaking in. However, Barbara reveals a bite wound she picked up along the way and subsequently dies. Realising she is about to become a zombie, David points the rifle at her, only to meet resistance from Shaun and Ed, and in the ensuing confrontation, Dianne reveals that she is aware that David loves Liz and not her. After Barbara returns as a zombie, Shaun shoots her, and punches David. David grabs the rifle and attempts to shoot Shaun, but discovers that the rifle is out of ammo. Before anyone can react to his attempt to kill Shaun, David angrily storms to the door. Dianne talks him away from it, and David begins to apologize to Shaun. At that moment, the zombies break through a window and drag him out, disembowelling and dismembering him. Frantic, Dianne unbolts the door to leave and rescue David, exposing Shaun, Liz and Ed to the zombies. Ed prepares a Molotov cocktail to fend them off, but Pete arrives and bites him. He manages to get over the bar and Shaun uses the cocktail to ignite the bar. They escape into the cellar. Finding themselves cornered, they contemplate suicide, but discover a service hatch. Shaun and Liz escape through the hatch, and Ed, now mortally wounded from the ensuing zombie attack, stays behind with a cigarette and the rifle. Back on the street, Shaun and Liz prepare to fight the zombies once more, but at that moment, the British Army arrives and they are rescued. Yvonne, who has also survived, shows up and tells Shaun and Liz to follow her. They approach the safety of the trucks, reconciled.

Six months after the outbreak, all of the uninfected have returned to daily life, and the remaining zombies, retaining their instincts, are used as cheap labour and entertainment. Liz and Shaun have moved in together in Shaun’s house, and Shaun is keeping Ed, who is now a zombie, tethered in the shed and playing video games

REVIEW:

Zombies seem to be the next big thing on the horizon, thanks in large part to AMC’s Walking Dead. So, my other Halloween selection this year is the zombie spoof, Shaun of the Dead.

Now, if you’re not a fan of the dry wit that British comedy has, I would strongly urge you to stay away from this film, as you may not find it entertaining in the least, except for the zombie deaths and stuff. However, if you do enjoy British humor, you’ll notice how hilarious this film is.

Simon Pegg has made a niche for himself and it really works for him. Couple that with his “sidekick” Nick Frost, and you have one of the great comedic duos of our time.

Bill Nighy is also in here, but he plays this kid of douche-y stepdad role, but, in typical Nighy fashion, he steals the show without being the star of the film.

The main drawback to this flick is that it seems to spend too much time trying to get the audience to feel something for Shaun. While that makes sense, I still found myself wanting them to hurry up and get to the zombie parts. I mean, that’s the reason we’re watching this anyway, right?

On that note, these zombies actually didn’t look half bad, especially for a comedy. I must say that I was a tad bit impressed, but not overly so.

If you’re looking for gore, this isn’t the zombie flick for you. Remember, this is a comedy after all. Having said that, please don’t let the lack of blood and guts keep you from watching this very funny spoof on the genre. It is a really good film and, dare I say, a must-see. Why not check it out when you get the chance?

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

The Strangers

Posted in Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , on October 30, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

On the night of February 11, 2005, Kristen McKay (Liv Tyler) and James Hoyt (Scott Speedman) return to a remote summer vacation home owned by James’s parents after attending a friend’s wedding reception. Shortly after arriving in the middle of the night, a young blonde woman (Gemma Ward), whose face is obscured by low lighting, knocks on the front door asking for a Tamara, but leaves after James and Kristen tell her she is at the wrong house.

A short while later, James leaves to buy Kristen a pack of cigarettes, when the woman returns and begins to pound harshly on the front door. Kristen refuses to open up, locks all the doors, and tries to call James on her cell phone, which she discovers to be dead. She plugs it into the wall to charge near the fireplace and calls James on the house phone briefly before the line goes dead. She returns to the fireplace to retrieve her cell phone, but it has disappeared. Kristen then hears a noise coming from the back door. She grabs a large kitchen knife and opens the curtains, seeing a man wearing a sack mask over his head. Kristen screams and trips over a record player, and it begins to skip repeatedly. The front door then opens slightly, and Kristen peeks outside, only to see the blond woman in a Dollface mask. She slams and locks the door before going to hide in the bedroom. After yelling “go away,” the noises eventually stop, at which point she hears footsteps coming from the hallway, which turn out to be from James. As she explains what happened while he was gone, he tries to calm her down.

She frantically explains to James that she saw a man in a mask, and heard loud banging noises. James is not worried about the incidents, thinking that they were caused by some teenagers fooling around. He goes outside to his car, whose tires have been slashed and its windshield smashed in. As he searches the car, someone touches his back, but they run away before he is able to turn around and see them. Once he turns back to the car, he looks up and sees Dollface, and asks her to leave. After she runs off, James persuades Kristen that they need to escape in their car.

As they are backing out of the driveway, a large truck pulls up behind them with its floodlights on, revealing another woman, this one wearing a Pin-up mask. After she smashes the truck into the couples’ car, James and Kristen run back into the house, where James finds a shotgun. As the couple approach the front door armed with the gun, the Man in the Mask begins breaking down the door with an axe. Terrified, the couple block the door with a piano, and James attempts to shoot him, but misses. The couple decide to hole up in a bedroom, facing the open doorway with the shotgun armed and ready. They hear footsteps in the house, and one of the intruders puts on a country record.

James’s friend, Mike (Glenn Howerton), who James contacted earlier, arrives at the house in his car. When he tries to call James’s cell phone, it goes straight to voicemail. But while he is leaving a message, a rock crashes through his windshield, prompting him to jump out of the car. Baffled, he notices country music playing loudly from the house. He steps onto the porch and fails to notice Dollface hiding in the shadows there before entering the house. As Mike walks down the hallway, the Man in the Mask appears behind him, holding up the axe. When Mike steps in front of the closet, James fires the shotgun, thinking it is one of the masked killers, and kills Mike by shooting him in the face. After James and Kristen realize they killed Mike, they decide to leave the house to get help.

James leaves the house first, promising Kristen that he will return in a few minutes, but Kristen decides not to wait for him to return, and leaves to go to a shed in the backyard. There, she finds a radio, which she uses to try and contact someone for help, but when she raises her voice, Pin-Up Girl appears and smashes the radio. Kristen returns to the house to look for James. As she walks down the hall, she hears a few keys being played on the piano, followed by footsteps, and the lights suddenly shut off. The Man in the Mask enters the hallway, but does not notice Kristen, as he is looking in the other direction. Kristen hides in the kitchen pantry while the man searches the hallway. He sits down at the table a few feet away from the closet before leaving the room. Kristen peers out of the closet, only to find the blond, masked woman staring back at her. The woman breaks the pantry door in, but suddenly stops. Kristen exits the closet to find the woman waiting for her with a knife. Kristen opens a kitchen drawer to arm herself as well when James is pushed into the house by the masked man, who now has the gun. When James tells Kristen to run, she sprints for the front door, only to find Pin-Up girl blocking her way. She runs into a bedroom and slams the door before attempting to escape through the window, and suddenly the lights come back on and the door swings open. Kristen walks back toward the hall to see who opened the door, when the Man in the Mask grabs her and throws her into the wall. Barely conscious, she is dragged down the hallway.

James and Kristen wake up the next day and find themselves tied to chairs in the living room while the three strangers stand over them. Before removing their masks, Pin-Up Girl walks into the kitchen and returns with a large knife. Kristen asks, “Why are you doing this to us?” and Dollface answers, “Because you were home.” Each of the strangers then takes turns stabbing James and Kristen seemingly to death. After they escape, Dollface shows feelings of guilt, and they stop the truck for her to ask two young Christian boys for a religious pamphlet, before continuing to drive away with Pin-Up Girl telling her that “It’ll be easier next time.” The two young Christian boys (Alex Fisher and Peter Clayton-Luce) are then seen entering the house only to find James and Kristen lying unmoving in the living room. One of the boys goes up to Kristen, and as he is about to touch her, she grabs his arm and screams in terror.

REVIEW:

Seeing as how tomorrow is Halloween, I figured I’d do a bit of horror this weekend. The first of which is one of the films that slipped past me when it was released, The Strangers.

I’ve got to say that it was great to see a horror film that didn’t rely on graphic gore. There is a time and place for that, but truth be told, the scariest films are those where the sheer idea of something out there are what freak the audience out.

In this film, that is definitely the case, as these random strangers just seem to appear out of thin air and continue to more or less stalk the stars of the film, though it is never really revealed why until the film’s end.

I could sit here and talk about the acting and whatnot, but who watches a horror flick for the “brilliant performances”? Truth be told, anyone can star in a horror flick as long as they can run around and scream at the top of their lungs.

The creepy factor is ratcheted up by the direction of this film. Something about the way the camera pans over and we see a long figure with one of these masks on just standing there. It really is downright freaky!

Now, for some reason, The Strangers wasn’t a huge box office hit. I think that had more to do with what was released that week, though, but not sure. Having said that, some of the best horror flicks often are box office duds, or at least not the most successful. Do I think you should check this film out? sure, but it isn’t the best horror flick out there…at the same time, it isn’t the worst, either. Why not check it out and enjoy the creepiness!

3 out of 5 stars

Wayne’s World

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 26, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Wayne Campbell (Myers) and Garth Algar (Carvey) are the hosts of Wayne’s World, a local Friday late-night cable access program based in Aurora, Illinois, where they ogle pictures of beautiful celebrity women, play air guitar and drums, and interview local people, indirectly making fun of them over the course of the interview. The program is popular with local viewers. One day Benjamin Kane (Lowe), a television station executive, is visiting a girlfriend (Ione Skye) who turns the TV to the show. When she tells him how many people watch the show, he instructs his producer Russell Finley (Kurt Fuller) to find out where the show is taped, telling him they may have an opportunity for a huge sponsorship.

Benjamin shows up next week in Wayne’s basement and introduces himself after the show ends. He offers to buy the rights to the show for $10,000 ($5,000 each) and to keep Wayne and Garth on for what he describes as a “huge” salary. Garth then covertly speaks to the audience, sensing he has a bad feeling that Wayne is selling out, but he is too shy to confront Wayne about it. Following the purchase of the show, it is quickly “reinvented”, complete with a weekly interview guaranteed to Noah Vanderhoff (Brian Doyle-Murray), the show’s sponsor. The first reinvented show is also their last, as Wayne holds up a series of cards with questions on the front and, unknowingly to Vanderhoff, insulting phrases on the back such as “Sphincter Boy” (with an arrow pointing at Vanderhoff), “He blows goats…I have proof” and “This man has no penis”, prompting Benjamin to call Wayne up to the control booth and fire him on the spot.

At the same time, Wayne’s blossoming relationship with hard rock vocalist and bassist Cassandra (Tia Carrere), the frontwoman of a band named Crucial Taunt, leads to a rift forming between Wayne and Garth. It erupts after Wayne walks out on the show, leaving Garth to a bout of stage fright for the rest of the show. The two separate, but later make up after Wayne breaks up with Cassandra following an argument between them over Benjamin.

While making up with Garth, Wayne remembers a limo belonging to record executive Frankie Sharp (Frank DiLeo) outside an Alice Cooper concert in Milwaukee. He also remembers that a security guard at the concert (Chris Farley) said that Sharp would be riding through Chicago later that day and forms a plan with Garth to get her back. With everyone in the donut shop helping, Wayne is able to convince Cassandra, who is at a video shoot directed by Benjamin, to leave the shoot with the band and head back to Aurora with him to perform on the show. Garth, meanwhile, hacks into a satellite system and is able to route the signal from the broadcast into the television set in Sharp’s limo. In the meantime, the police keep Benjamin at bay and leave him unable to enter the house until the show’s over.

Nearing the end of Cassandra’s song, Frankie Sharp and Benjamin enter the basement. Once the song is finished, Frankie says to Cassandra that it is the wrong time to sign her band, causing her to become infuriated with Wayne. Wayne is called small-time by Benjamin just before he leaves with Cassandra, and Wayne’s crazy ex-girlfriend Stacy (Lara Flynn Boyle) comes in to announce to Wayne that she is pregnant. Suddenly, an electrical fire starts from the broadcasting equipment and consumes the house. While Wayne walks out of the burned-down house with an injured Garth, Cassandra lies in paradise with Benjamin. Wayne and Garth then decide they don’t like that ending, and decide to do the “Scooby-Doo ending” instead. Wayne then pulls off Benjamin’s face, revealing that he is actually Old Man Withers, who then remarks, true to Scooby-Doo form, “And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn’t been for you snooping kids!” After this, Garth imitates Scooby-Doo by saying “Good One, Shaggy.” Wayne and Garth then decide to do the “mega happy ending”, where Frankie gives Cassandra a six album record deal, Wayne and Cassandra kiss, Russell and the crew member who keeps saying “I love you” get together, while he announces how he discovered that “platonic love can exist between two grown men”, Noah is glad people are seeing him in a new light after he started sponsoring Wayne’s World, Benjamin realizes being successful doesn’t get you everything, and Garth finally gets his dream girl (Donna Dixon).

REVIEW:

Those of us that were growing up in the late 80s-early 90s may remember a time when Saturday Night Live was actually funny. A focal point of those shows was a sketch featuring two guys and their basic cable TV show. Little did anyone know that this little sketch would go on to be a big hit movie, Wayne’s World!

Now, this film, like the sketch, doesn’t have a “plot”, but there is a bit of a story for those that just have to have one.

I really think the fact that this story was forced upon them in order to make a “successful” film actually took away from the picture. The best and most memorable Wayne’s World sketches are those where the guys just went off the cuff.

Sadly, this film didn’t have that feeling, but rather that of a product that was taken over by greedy corporations, similar to the way it is depicted in the film. Maybe that was done on purpose, but I can’t be for certain.

There is a nice, fun, vibe that goes on throughout this picture, especially with some of the toungue-in-cheek jokes, such as the blatant product placement and of course, the stuff we’ve come to know and love from the sketches.

I think this is the film that introduced me, and I’m sure many other people of younger generations, to Queen. The most memorable scene in here is in the car when they sing “Bohemian Rhapsody” and then start head banging. Yes, that’s even more memorable that Tia Carrere is a bikini…but not much.

The cast is hilarious. Mike Myers and Dana Carvey continue to show what great chemistry they have.

Tia Carerre is great not only as the token eye candy, but as a strong female lead here, as well.

Rob Lowe is about as slimy as one can get, which makes him the perfect villain for this picture.

Oh, how I remember these days when comedy films were actually funny and didn’t try to make any kind of political statement or masquerade as a drama. This, I think, is the reason I love this film so much. Not to mention the fact that it cracks me up everytime I see and brings back that 90s nostalgia. I highly recommend it to all of you that haven’t seen it. You don’t know what you’re missing!

4 out of 5 stars

Winnie the Pooh

Posted in Animation, Disney, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 26, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film is based on three stories found in the Milne books. Two stories are from Winnie-the-Pooh: “In Which Eeyore Loses a Tail and Pooh Finds One” and “In Which Piglet Meets a Heffalump”. The other story is found in The House at Pooh Corner: “In Which Rabbit Has a Busy Day and We Learn What Christopher Robin Does in the Mornings”. Some elements, such as the gang thinking that Christopher Robin has been captured by a monster, are based on events from the film Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin

Pooh wakes up one day to find that he is out of honey. While out searching for more, Pooh discovers that Eeyore has lost his tail. Pooh, Tigger, Rabbit, Owl, Kanga, and Roo come to the rescue, and Christopher Robin decides to hold a contest to see who can find a replacement for Eeyore’s tail. The prize for the winner is a fresh pot of honey. After many failed attempts for what would replace Eeyore’s tail (such as a cuckoo clock), Kanga suggests they use a scarf, but it unravels.

The next day, Pooh goes to visit Christopher Robin and he finds a note that says “Gon Out Bizy Back Soon”. Because Pooh is unable to read the note, he asks for Owl’s help. Owl’s poor reading comprehension skills lead Pooh and his friends to believe that Christopher Robin has been abducted by a ruthless and mischievous monster they call the “Backson”. Pooh and his friends plan to trap the Backson in a pit, which they think he’ll fall into after following a trail of items leading to it. Meanwhile, Tigger, wanting a sidekick to help him defeat the Backson, recruits Eeyore to be a second Tigger. He dresses up like the Backson and tries to teach Eeyore how to fight. Eeyore, who is doing this against his will, escapes from Tigger and hides underwater.

After a failed attempt to get honey from a bee hive, Pooh’s imagination combined with his hunger get the better of him, and accidentally falls into the pit meant for the Backson. Rabbit, Kanga, Roo, Owl and Eeyore (who had found an anchor whilst he was hiding to replace his own tail) try to get him out, but fall in themselves. Piglet attempts to get Pooh and friends out of the trap (though continuously irritating Rabbit with overintrepretations of his instructions, who is further miffed [though hiding it] when realising that Owl could have flown them out of the pit), but he runs into Tigger, still in his Backson outfit, and mistakes him for the actual monster. Piglet escapes from Tigger on a red balloon, which knocks some of the storybook’s letters into the pit. After the chase, Tigger and Piglet fall into the trap as well, where Eeyore reminds Tigger that he, being “the only one”, is “the most wonderful thing about Tiggers”. Eventually, Pooh figures out to use the fallen letters to form a ladder, and the animals are able to escape the pit. They soon find Christopher Robin, and tell him about the Backson, but he clarifies, saying he meant to be “back soon”.

Later, Pooh visits Owl only to find that Owl was the one that took Eeyore’s tail, not realizing it belonged to Eeyore. Owl had been using Eeyore’s tail as a bell pulley for his door. Pooh chooses to leave and return the tail to Eeyore instead of sharing a pot of honey with Owl. Christopher Robin is proud of Pooh’s kindness and rewards him with a large pot of honey.

Following the credits, it is revealed that the rumored Backson actually exists deep in the woods, but is much friendlier than imagined. He discovers the trail of objects that the animals left, and picks up each one, planning to return them to whoever owns them. He ends up falling into the pit that was originally meant for him and waits for someone to arrive and help him out. He adds, “I sure hope that fellow will be back soon”.

REVIEW:

I believe that it was around this time last year that I left a comment on someone’s blog that it won’t be long before they start remaking animated films. Sure enough, here is our first foray into that area. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Winnie the Pooh isn’t necessarily a remake, as much as it is stories from the book and other films in the Pooh franchise being spliced together with certain details being changed. For instance, remember the Huffalump and that catchy song? Well, in this film they did almost a parody of it and called it the Backson.

I had my preconceived notions of this film before I even watched it, but it got rave reviews, so I decided to see what the hype was about. Let me make one thing clear…this is not a bad film, if this is your first outing with Pooh. However, most of us grew up with the Saturday morning cartoon and probably watched The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh at some point in time.

I think the biggest drawback for me with this film was that they didn’t come up with a new story. If you’re going to release a new Pooh film, then for goodness sakes give us a new story!

I have to give kudos to much of the voice cast, especially Jim Cummings who sounds almost identical to Sterling Holloway’s tenor timbre. I was impressed. Also receiving lauds from me is Craig Ferguson. While he doesn’t sound anywhere near the original voice of Owl, he brings the character to life in his own way and maintains his personality.

The rest of the cast, though, I felt was sadly miscast. My biggest qualm is with Bud Luckey as Eeyore. For those of you who don’t know, Peter Cullen, best known as the voice of Optimus Prime, provided the voice of Eeyore since at least the 80s. I have to wonder why he didn’t for this film, unless there was some schedule conflicts with the Transformers films or he just didn’t want to be a part of what he felt was not going to be any good, which I can totally understand.

Finally, Christopher Robin is too British for my taste here, but I can live with that. What I can’t fathom is how they made Kanga almost a bitch! in every incarnation I’ve seen, Kanga has been uber-mothering, and not more or less a female version of Rabbit. Ugh! That was so frustrating.

The songs in the film are horrible. It was as if they hired some commercial jingle writer to compose all of them in like 10 minutes. The only exception is Zooey Deschanel’s  memorable take on the theme. The rest are quite forgettable.

Disney took a risk with this film. Not only was it a near remake, but it was released against arguably the most anticipated film of the summer, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, pt II. I do congratulate them on using hand drawn animation. We don’t get enough of this today. While this film isn’t my favorite in the Disney collection, it isn’t the worst they’ve put out. The sure family fun and sweetness factor makes it worth watching, and be sure to catch the Nessie short, as well. With all that said, this isn’t worth adding to your DVD collection,. just a couple of viewings.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Mississippi Masala

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on October 26, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

A third-generation Ugandan Indian family residing in Kampala, is expelled from the country in 1972 by the Idi Amin regime. The father, Jay (Roshan Seth) moves with wife, Kinnu (Sharmila Tagore) and daughter, Mina (Sarita Choudhury) to Greenwood, Mississippi to live with family members who own a chain of motels there. Kinnu obtains work in a liquor store.

In 1990, 24-year-old Mina, who cleans at Anil’s (Ranjit Chowdhry) family’s motel (the Monte Cristo), falls in love with Demetrius (Denzel Washington), a local African American self-employed carpet cleaner. The respective families erupt in turmoil after the pair are discovered and confronted by members of the Indian family during a clandestine weekend of pleasure in Biloxi.

Ultimately, the two families cannot come to terms with the interracial pair, who flee the state together in Demetrius’ van. After a brief return to Kampala to attend a court proceeding on the disposition of his confiscated Ugandan house, Jay relinquishes his long-nurtured dream of returning to Uganda, the place he considered home.

REVIEW:

What’s this? A film about race that isn’t racist? Is that even possible? Wait…Spike Lee’s grubby little hands aren’t anywhere near this, so of course it is!

Mississippi Masala is a film about the trials and tribulations of an African-American man and an Indian American woman in the backwoods of Mississippi.

This is one powerful film. It starts out dealing with the Indian people being forced out of Africa by some dictator. Throughout the film, there ar a few flashbacks, but mainly , the father is trying to get back to his home.

Then we have the racial tension. This is Mississippi, so if you’re not white, you’re automatically going to be looked down upon. It is still like that today in some parts. Such a shame!

Finally, there is a little speech that Denzel gives to the girl’s father that basically says that the Indians aren’t but a shade or two lighter than him, yet they seem to think they’re white as snow and look down on him, even though he owns his own business and isn’t a thug. One of the best lines in the film, in my opinion.

This is one of the dramas that will really make you think. Just because two people aren’t of the same color, do we really have the right to interfere in their lives because their love isn’t “normal”. Did we learn nothing from Romeo & Juliet?

The director did a great job getting that point across without getting preachy or all racist with things. She also showed both sides of the spectrum and a little bit of the white side, but since none of the major characters were white, there really was no need to dwell on that view, in my opinion.

Spike Lee should take a hint from this woman on how to make these “race” films. Everything does not revolve around the black man, as it does in his warped mind, apparently.

The pacing of this film I felt could have been a little better. I realize this is a drama and not a fast-paced action flick, but there were times when it just felt like they weren’t doing anything other than spinning their wheels , and that should not be the case. The filmmakers should have just moved that scene along, or if it wasn’t working, put it on the cutting room floor.

Denzel Washington, as always, is a consummate professional. He delivers a powerful performance and, if I didn’t know otherwise, I’d think he was from Mississippi.

Sarita Choudhury gives a pretty good performance as the rebellious Mina. I don’t know. There is just something about her look that doesn’t make think she’s Indian, even though she , and it took away from the film whenever she was on, with the exception of a couple of scenes.

In the end, Mississippi Masala can best be described as another version of Jungle Fever (not sure which came first), but without all the racist overtones. Sure, this film has its issues, but at its heart, it is very powerful, yet simplistic film. I highly recommend this as a must-see before you die.

4 out of 5 stars

Bridesmaids

Posted in Chick Flicks, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Annie (Kristen Wiig) is a single woman in her mid 30s, living in Milwaukee. After her dream bakery, Cake Baby, failed, she lost her boyfriend and all of her savings, and now works in a jewelry store and is in a sexual relationship with the self-absorbed and uncommitted Ted (Jon Hamm). Her friendship with her childhood best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) is her only source of happiness.

When Lillian becomes engaged to her boyfriend, Doug (Tim Heidecker), she asks Annie to be her maid of honor. Annie agrees, but is secretly concerned about how things will change. At the engagement party, Annie meets her fellow bridesmaids: Lillian’s cynical cousin Rita (Wendi McLendon-Covey), idealistic friend Becca (Ellie Kemper), raunchy future sister-in-law Megan (Melissa McCarthy) and Helen (Rose Byrne), the “perfect” wife of Doug’s boss. Helen and Annie are immediately jealous of one another’s friendship with Lillian. Driving home, Annie is pulled over by Officer Nathan Rhodes (Chris O’Dowd) for having broken taillights. The two flirt, and he lets her off with a warning after discovering that she was the owner of Cake Baby, which he always enjoyed.

Annie’s attempts to serve as the maid of honor go abysmally after she takes them to a seedy Brazilian restaurant that gives everyone violent food poisoning. Meanwhile, Helen, with her wealth and connections, constantly upstages Annie: rejecting Annie’s idea of Parisian bridal shower, getting them access to a chic bridal-gown studio after Annie failed to make a reservation, and ordering expensive designer bridesmaids gowns for the group that are beyond Annie’s means. Worried about her limited finances, Annie suggests a bachelorette party at Lillian’s parents’ lake house. Helen overrules her and books a trip to Las Vegas. Annie refuses to allow Helen to buy a first-class ticket for her and sits in economy class. Because Annie is afraid of flying, Helen gives her sedatives and alcohol, causing Annie to become inebriated and paranoid, and her outbursts forces the plane to land in Casper, Wyoming, where the wedding party is escorted off the plane by police, canceling the Las Vegas bachelorette party. On the bus trip back to Milwaukee, Annie tries to apologize but Lillian quietly states that she wants Helen to take over planning the shower and wedding.

Distraught, Annie contacts Nathan and the two hang out while she discusses her difficulties. Nathan is sympathetic and encourages her to open a new bakery, but Annie refuses; her business’ failure was so painful that she has given up baking entirely. After spending the night together, Nathan buys baking supplies, hoping to reignite her dream. This makes her uncomfortable and she abruptly leaves, breaking things off with him despite liking him. She is then fired from her job for lashing out at one of her customers and evicted from her apartment. With nowhere else to go, and her friendship with Lillian strained, she moves back in with her mother (Jill Clayburgh).

Attending the bridal shower, Annie discovers that Helen has created an elaborate version of Annie’s Parisian theme, later upstaging Annie’s heartfelt, handmade gift by giving Lillian a trip to Paris to be fitted for her wedding gown by one of the world’s top designers. Annie snaps and throws a tantrum, destroying the decorations and food. Lillian kicks her out of the shower and disinvites her from the wedding. On the way home, Annie’s unfixed taillights cause a crash and she is stranded. Nathan answers the emergency call, exasperated that she still has not fixed her taillights, and tells Annie how much she hurt him and not to contact him again. Annie calls Ted for a ride, but when he expects sexual favors for the drive, she dumps him and walks home.

Annie becomes reclusive, doing nothing but watch TV. Megan finds her and tells her to stop feeling sorry for herself. Annie realizes her errors and decides to make amends with Nathan, getting her taillights fixed and baking him a cake, but he appears to rebuff the gesture, leaving the cake outside his house. On the day of the wedding, Helen appears on her doorstep, begging for help in finding Lillian who has gone missing. In the car, Helen tearfully apologizes for all she has done to hurt Annie and explains how lonely she is: her husband is uncaring and she has no friends, suspecting that she is only invited to weddings for her party planning skills and connections.

Annie contacts Nathan, who begrudgingly helps them find Lillian hiding at her own apartment. Lillian is overwhelmed by Helen’s micromanaging and fears how marriage will change her life, including leaving Annie alone. Annie reassures her, and herself, that everything will be fine and helps Lillian get ready for the wedding as her maid of honor once more. After Lillian and Doug leave for their honeymoon, Annie reconciles with Helen, touching her with a gesture of friendship. Helen then quietly reveals that she has arranged for Nathan to pick Annie up, after seeing that they were in love. Nathan reveals that he ate the cake Annie made for him. After sharing a kiss, he takes her home in his squad car.

REVIEW:

Every summer, there is that one film, usually a chick flick, that surprises every one with how well received it is and how well it does at the box office. This year, that film was Bridesmaids.

I’ve heard people say that this is the female equivalent of The Hangover. I can see the comparison, and I’m sure the female readers will side with this one since they can relate a bit more. For me, though, give me the random misadventures of a bachelor party gone awry.

The plot of this films is basically the misadventures of a woman in her mid 30s feeling the pressure of the economic downturn and watching all her friends get married, while she is on the verge of having to move back in with her mother.

I’ve heard horror stories about brides, or should I say bridezillas, and the desire to make sure their bridesmaids look horrible. I was half expecting this to go that road, but instead it ended up being more of a middle age coming of age comedy, complete with “potty” humor. The dress thing was best left to 27 Dresses, I suppose.

The gross-out humor here, though, is what brings people to this film. Someone said that the fact there haven’t been an R-rated comedies of this nature featuring women, is because many men think of them as too delicate to do such things. I’m inclined to agree and believe that the shock value of some like say, Melissa McCarthy climbing onto a sink and taking a dump is hilarious.

Maybe it was just me, but I really could care less about Kristen Wiig’s character and her life drama. I’m not sure if it was because the other characters were all so much more interesting, or if it was because I’m over her, but she just seemed a bit whiny for most of the film. Hell, even when she was stranded in the middle of nowhere, I felt nothing. Who knows?

Bridesmaids is actually pretty enjoyable. I think it is more of a chick flick, rather than just a comedy featuring women, though. Blame that little romance with the cop on that, though. Should you check this out? Well, I would say yes, but I’m sure there are moments that will turn both men and women off, so it depends on how squeamish you are when it comes to potty humor and how bored you get with the romantic comedy stuff. That being said, this film did not forget it was a comedy, and that is what I really like about it.

4 out of 5 stars

Bad Teacher

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

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) is a golddigging Chicago middle school teacher at the fictional John Adams Middle School who curses at her students, consumes lots of alcohol, smokes marijuana, and only shows movies while she sleeps through class. She plans to quit teaching and marry her wealthy fiancé, but when he dumps her, she must resume her job as a teacher. She tries to win over substitute teacher Scott Delacorte (Justin Timberlake), who is also wealthy. Amy Squirrel (Lucy Punch), a dedicated teacher and colleague of Elizabeth, also pursues Scott while the school’s gym teacher, Russell Gettis (Jason Segel), makes advances on Elizabeth which she rejects.

Elizabeth plans to get surgery to enlarge her breasts, believing she is being overlooked for women with larger chests. However, she cannot afford the $10,000 procedure. To make matters worse, Scott admits that he has a crush on Amy, only viewing Elizabeth as a friend. Elizabeth attempts to raise money for the surgery by participating in her 7th grade class car wash in provocative clothing and by manipulating parents to give her money for more school supplies and tutoring, but her efforts are not enough. Amy, acting on the growing resentment between them due to her pursuit of Scott and ignoring of school rules, attempts to warn the principal about Elizabeth’s embezzlement scheme, but he dismisses her claims as groundless.

Elizabeth later learns that the teacher of the class with the highest state test scores will receive a $5,700 bonus. With this knowledge, Elizabeth decides to change her style of teaching, forcing the class to study intensely for the upcoming test. However, the change is not enough and the students have low scores on their quizzes, frustrating her even more. Meanwhile, she befriends Russell the gym teacher as Amy and Scott start dating. Elizabeth steals the state test answers by impersonating a journalist and seducing Carl Halabi (Thomas Lennon), who is in charge of the exam. Elizabeth drugs Carl in his office, and steals the test. A month later, Elizabeth wins the bonus and pays for the appointment to get her breasts enlarged.

When Elizabeth learns that Amy and Scott are chaperoning an upcoming field trip, she taints an apple with poison ivy and leaves it for Amy. Amy ends up with blisters covering her face and backs out of the trip. On the trip, Elizabeth seduces Scott. They engage in non-penetrative sex, and Elizabeth secretly calls Amy to ensure she knows. However, Scott’s peculiar behavior starts annoying Elizabeth. Elizabeth later gives advice to one of her students (Matthew J. Evans) who has an unrequited crush on a superficial girl in class, which causes her to reflect on how she has been superficial as well.

After hearing Elizabeth and Scott having sex, Amy switches Elizabeth’s desk with her own to trick the janitor into unlocking Elizabeth’s sealed drawer. The evidence Amy finds leads her to suspect Elizabeth cheated on the state exam. Amy informs the principal and gets Carl to testify against her. However, Elizabeth took embarrassing photos of Carl while he was drugged and uses them to blackmail him to say she is innocent. Having noticed her desk was switched, Elizabeth informs the principal that some teachers in the school are doing drugs. When the police bring a sniffer dog to search the school, they find drugs in Amy’s classroom, in Elizabeth’s desk. Amy is moved to another school by the superintendent. Scott asks Elizabeth to start over, but Elizabeth rejects him in favor of a relationship with Russell.

When the new school year starts, Elizabeth is kinder to her co-workers, has started a relationship with Russell, and did not get the breast enlargement because she feels that she looks fine the way she is. Elizabeth also has a new position in the school as the new guidance counselor.

REVIEW:

Some of you may remember in the not-so-distant past that Cameron Diaz was hot as hell. Somewhere along the way, she maintained her hotness, but just became another hot blonde actress. Then, along comes this film, Bad Teacher, which shows us once again that Cameron is one hot chica!

The premise of this film is Diaz is a teacher at the end of the school year. She is all set to get married to her fiancee and more or less tell the other teachers and whatnot to kiss her ____. Unfortunately for her, the finacee (and his mother) decide that she’s in it for nothing more than the money, which she is.

Fast forward a few months, and she’s back at school, but totally miserable, unfocused, and uncaring. Instead of actually teaching, she shows movies to the students, and pretty much does everything that “a teacher is not supposed to do”. While she is doing this, she tries to garner the attention of young substitute teacher, who has money, and ignoring the advances of a P.E. teacher who is vying for her affections. I think we can all see where this is going, right?

While that story doesn’t sound like much, it is the comedic performances of the cast that really makes it worth watching, especially that of Diaz and an over the top Lucy Punch.

Strangely enough, and maybe I missed it, there was no specific reason that Punch’s character was so hateful of Diaz. Then again, women will be women, I suppose.

That really is my only grip with this film. I really did enjoy it, but I’m not going to go out and buy the DVD. Still, it is worth watching, so why not give it a shot. You never know, you might just like it!

4 out of 5 stars