Archive for January, 2013

Hotel Transylvania

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Dracula (Adam Sandler) is the owner and creator of Hotel Transylvania, a five-star resort where the world’s monsters can be safe from human civilization. Dracula invites some of the most famous monsters like Frankenstein (Kevin James) and his wife Eunice (Fran Drescher), Murray the Mummy (Cee Lo Green), Wayne and Wanda Werewolf (Steve Buscemi and Molly Shannon), Griffin the Invisible Man (David Spade), Bigfoot, Steve the Blob, and other monsters to celebrate the 118th birthday of his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez). However, Mavis prefers to explore the outside world with her father’s permission, but the village he directs her to is actually an elaborate deception to convince her of the threat of humans enough to coax her back.

However, this charade inadvertently attracts the attention of an ordinary young traveler named Jonathan (Andy Samberg) who was exploring the surrounding forest and followed the staff to the hotel. Once Jonathan enters the hotel, Dracula frantically attempts to hide him from the patrons such as disguising him as a Flesh Golem named Johnny-stein with the later hasty cover story of being a relative of one of Frank’s body parts. Eventually, Jonathan is discovered by Mavis and company, forcing Dracula to claim he is going to arrange Mavis’ birthday party with a young perspective. In doing so, Jonathan manages to charm everyone at the hotel, especially Mavis. Eventually, even Dracula begins to like the human taking him into his confidence about his family’s traumatic past after the vampire notices the young man knows something about them in a respectful manner.

Unfortunately, Chef Quasimodo Wilson (Jon Lovitz) realizes Jonathan is human and captures him to cook him, forcing Dracula to directly intervene by magically freezing the chef. Eventually, the birthday party happens and it is a raucous success until Dracula freaks out when Mavis and Jonathan have an innocent kiss. A ranting Dracula accidentally lets it slip that he tricked Mavis at the fake village and Mavis is outraged at being manipulated by her own father. Things get worse when a still-frozen Chef Quasimodo interrupts the party as the Fly (Chris Parnell) translates his frozen language to the clientele which states that Jonathan is actually a human. Even as the clientele are revolted, Mavis still accepts and expresses her desire to be with Jonathan even though he is human. For his part, Jonathan feels obliged to reject Mavis for her father’s sake and leaves the hotel. Afterward, Dracula realizes that in his efforts to protect Mavis, he has broken her heart and now she tearfully wants to stay at the hotel forever.

Wishing to undo his mistake, Dracula persuades his friends to help him find Jonathan and even risks his destruction by venturing out in the daylight to do so. Learning that Jonathan is about to board a flight out of Transylvania Airport shortly, they race on and enter a town en route. At that town, Dracula and company are stunned to see the humans having a ‘Monster Festival’. To clear a path, Frankenstein tries to scare them, but finds the humans are cheerfully welcoming them instead and even provide a shaded route through the town for Dracula to proceed at maximum speed.

However, Dracula finds that he is too late with Jonathan’s plane taking off. With no alternative, Dracula desperately flies after it in broad daylight despite being hurt by the sun. With much effort, Dracula manages to reach the plane and resorts to mind-controlling one of the pilots (Brian Stack) to apologize and tell Jonathan that he wants him to return to be with his daughter. Jonathan accepts Dracula’s apology and Dracula manipulates the plane back to the airport.

Later, Dracula returns Jonathan to Mavis, who tells her that she’s his ‘zing’ and the reason why he had to reject her. Dracula gives his blessing to their relationship, Jonathan and Mavis kiss and the hotel has another party to celebrate his daughter’s liberating coming of age before Jonathan and Mavis set off on their travels.

The film ends with Dracula and his friends being shown in traditional animation (in the style of Genndy Tartakovsky’s cartoons) during the credits


Given the bad rap monsters, especially vampires, werewolves and, to a lesser extent, zombies seem to be getting these days, it is nice to know that someone out there knows and respects their legacies enough to given them a film that isn’t insulting to everything we know about them. Sure, Hotel Transylvania may be a kids film, but there are no sparkling vampires who somehow manage to survive in the daylight here, nor are there any werewolves who do nothing but stalk unattractive emo chicks.

What is this about?

Hotel Transylvania owner Dracula (Adam Sandler) pulls double duty as an overprotective dad when an unwelcome suitor (Andy Samberg) shows interest in his teenage daughter (Selena Gomez). All the while, he’s hosting world-famous monster guests like Frankenstein, his bride and a werewolf family.

What did I like?

The gang’s all here. Pick a monster, any monster, and you’re sure to see them in the film, whether it be in a cameo or major role. I think the only ones missing were the more mythological creatures like minotaurs, centaurs, harpies, and the like, but there is a cyclops and a hydra to make up or fill the void.

Father knows best. For years, Adam Sandler has been trying to do a sensitive dad role and also use that voice he does in all of his films. Finally, all that practice has paid off! Sandler is such an animated person that it takes him being animated to get a truly great performance from him. Ironically, with the exception of that 9/11 dram he did, this is the most subdued character he’s played. That’s a good thing, as I think an insane acting man-child version of Dracula wouldn’t have gone over as well with the audience or with a “teenage” daughter. The relationship with his daughter is the heart of this film. If that didn’t work, then this flick wouldn’t have any legs to stand on.

Animation. Back when Cartoon Network was actually worth watching cartoon on, they had shows like Samurai Jack, Dexter’s Laboratory, and The Powerpuff Girls. All of these were done by the director of this film, Genndy Tartakovsky. I never really noticed it until the final credits were rolling, but the characters do have the design of one of his cartoons. Man, I miss his style of animation. Not to mention cartoons that were actually fun to watch, not just odd.

Dracula. As I mentioned before, Adam Sandler surprisingly gives a really good performance, but what is more impressive is the character design. Most iterations of Dracula are that of a tall, slender man with an imposing presence, not to mention his ability to bend the will the regular human and turn into a bat. The whole moving tables around and freezing people is new, but I like it.

What didn’t I like?

Kids. The kids annoyed the hell out of me. Mavis is fine, she’s just a teenage girl trapped in a castle wanting to get out and see the world. It happens. However, the wolf kids are representative of how unruly and disrespectful children are today. Johnny annoyed me in every way imaginable. First of all, he’s voiced by that no talent hack Andy Samberg, who is nothing more than an Adam Sandler wannabe and is a big reason Saturday Night Live hasn’t been funny for the past few years. This character though just seems to think his way is right, which it isn’t. The way he just walks in to the hotel just wasn’t a good introduction to him and he never recovered in my eyes.

Humans. Aside from John, we have the humans at the monster festival. Now, there is nothing specifically wrong with these people. It is basically just a comic con for people who like monsters. However, the fact that they have little to no reaction to Dracula and his pals is a little disconcerting. On the one hand, they are at a convention where everyone is dressed as monsters, so there is that little bit of disbelief expected. However, on the other hand, these are the real deal! Have we become that disenfranchised and dead to these guys that they are akin to stuffed animals? It sure seems like it. Such a shame, really.

Hotel Transylvania is one of the films that I really wanted to see when it came out, but because of scheduling, I never got around to it. I really do wish I had gotten to see this in theaters. I may have even paid the 3D price. This, along with ParaNorman and from the looks of it Frankenweenie (which I will be getting to soon) could make for some good Halloween movies for kids. Something that we haven’t really had in quite some time. I highly recommend this as it is truly an enjoyable film for everyone. Be on the lookout for the jab at Twilight late in flick. On a final note, does anyone know where it is that we all starting assuming Dracula said, “bleh, bleh”?

5 out of 5 stars

The Train Robbers

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews, Westerns with tags , , , , , on January 30, 2013 by Mystery Man


The action never stops in this western, which has a surprise ending. Ann-Margret stars as Mrs. Lowe, a widow who wishes to recover some gold stolen by her husband and hidden away. She says she wants to return it to the bank it was stolen from and clear her family name. In order to do this, she persuades Lane (John Wayne) to ride into Mexico with her and recover the loot. Once they cross the border, they discover two very different pursuers: a large group of bandidos, and a lone horseman who seems to know their every move (Ricardo Montalban).


This morning, I was watching the John Wayne episode of I Love Lucy and, lo and behold, Netflix sends one of the Duke’s films, The Train Robbers. I’ll be honest, this the first I had heard of it, but it starred Ann-Margret and was a western, so it was worth at least a shot.

What is this about?

The Train Robbers is a 1973 Western film starring John Wayne, Ann-Margret, and Rod Taylor. Mrs. Lowe (Ann-Margret) wants back the half million U.S. dollars in gold her late husband stole during the assault on a train. Lane (John Wayne), attracted by the reward offered of $ 50,000, decides to help. For this work he will involve the collaboration of some friends old friends. However, he won’t be alone. The comrades of the deceased husband of Mrs. Lowe will try to get gold at any cost, followed closely by a Pinkerton agent.

What did I like?

Ann-Margret. I’ve seen better performances from her, but you can’t help but wonder at this woman’s beauty. Early on, Wayne tells her to give him her shirt so he can boil it to make it tight so that “…sticking out from the right places” [sic]. If you’ve ever watched a western, then you know that women are few and far between. Come to think of it, with the exception of Bandidas, most westerns seem to have women portraying housewives, courtesans, or eye-candy, and Ann-Margret seems to be here, but she is also a part of the plot, similar to Racquel Welch in 100 Rifles.

Romance. It would seem that a film like this is bound and determined to put our leads together in some sort of relationship. Whoever it is that wrote this film, though, knew better. The two have no romantic chemistry, but you can feel there could be something there is need be. Kudos to some great writing to pull that off.

Twist. The ending of the film is not quite what you expect. I won’t spill the beans on what happens, but I will say it is a bit of a twist that some may not see coming but, at the same time, you sort of assume based on some events throughout the flick. I’m not really a fan on twist endings, but every now and then, they are a nice change of pace.

What didn’t I like?

Trains. Don’t be fooled by the title, you won’t be seeing any train robbery here. I wish I could say that  wasn’t the case, but it seems that the filmmakers forgot what this was entitled, or when this was finished some bigwig decided that this would be something that would bring in more viewers, as if John Wayne and Ann-Margret alone couldn’t do so.

Music. The composer of the film’s score, whose name escapes me at the moment, attempts to give us the illusion that is an epic cinematic masterpiece. There are subtle quotes from the them to How the West Was Won, which I liked, but question why it is that he felt he had to rip off that orchestral masterpiece, rather than coming up with his own.

Slow. With a run time of just over 90 minutes, there are about 15 minutes of excitement. The rest is just talking, meandering, arguing, and accusations. This is the biggest problem with the film for me. I would have much rather there have been something to capture our attention here and there, be it a kidnapping, an actual train robbery, or something along those lines. We are not so lucky, however, as this film drags on for what is seemingly forever before taking off in the final minutes. Too little, too late? Perhaps.

This is turning out be a bit of a challenge coming up with a rating for The Train Robbers. It isn’t a bad film, but it has too many issues to garner a rating of greatness. I’m sorry, but that is the way it. Having said that, the last few minutes of this film, coupled with some great Ann-Margret and John Wayne scenes makes it worth a Saturday afternoon viewing. Maybe you should check it out!

3 1/2 out of 5 stars


Revisited: The Seven Year Itch

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , on January 30, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell) is a nerdy, faithful, middle-aged publishing executive with an overactive imagination and a mid-life crisis, whose wife Helen (Evelyn Keyes) and son Ricky (Butch Bernard) are summering in Maine. When he returns home with the kayak paddle Ricky accidentally left behind, he meets a woman (Marilyn Monroe), a commercial actress and former model who rents the apartment upstairs while in town to make television spots for a brand of toothpaste. That evening, he works on proofing a book in which psychiatrist Dr. Brubaker (Oskar Homolka) claims that a significant proportion of men have extra-marital affairs in the seventh year of marriage. He has an imaginary conversation with Helen, trying to convince her, in three fantasy sequences, that he is irresistible to women, including his secretary, a nurse and her bridesmaid, but she laughs it off. A tomato plant then crashes into his lounge chair; the woman upstairs apologizes for accidentally knocking it over, and Richard invites her down for a drink.

He waits for her to get dressed, including in underwear she says she keeps cool in her icebox. When she arrives, a vision in pink, they have a drink and he lies about being married. When she sees his wedding ring, he backtracks but she is unconcerned, having no designs on him, only on his air-conditioning. He has a fantasy that she is a femme fatale overcome by his playing of Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto. In reality, she prefers Chopsticks, which they play together. Richard, overcome by his fantasies, awkwardly grabs at her, causing them to fall off the piano bench. He apologizes for his indiscretion but she says it happens to her all the time. Guilt-ridden, however, he asks her to leave.

Over the next few days, they spend more time together and Richard imagines that they are growing closer, although she is immune to his imagined charms. Helen continually calls her husband, asking him to send the paddle so Ricky can use the kayak, but Richard is repeatedly distracted. His waning resolve to resist temptation fuels his fear that he is succumbing to the “Seven Year Itch”. He seeks help from Dr. Brubaker, but to no avail. His imagination then runs even wilder: the young woman tells a plumber (Victor Moore) how Richard is “just like The Creature from the Black Lagoon”; the plumber repeats her story to neighbor McKenzie, whom Helen had asked to drop by to pick up Ricky’s paddle. Richard imagines his wife with McKenzie on a hayride which actually takes place but into which he injects his paranoia, guilt and jealousy. After seeing The Creature from the Black Lagoon, the young woman stands over the subway grate to experience the breeze – Monroe in the iconic scene in the pleated white halter dress.

Eventually coming to his senses, and fearing his wife’s retribution, which he imagines in a fantasy scene, Richard, paddle in hand, tells the young woman she can stay in his apartment; then he runs off to catch the next train to Maine to be with Helen and Ricky.


I may prefer Jayne Mansfield as my curvy blonde from the Golden Age of Hollywood, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy Marilyn Monroe just as much as the next guy. As a matter of fact, The Seven Year Itch is one of my favorites of her films and, in my opinion, she never looks more attractive than she does in this film.

What is this about?

After packing off his wife and son for the summer, doughy middle-aged publisher Richard Sherman (Tom Ewell) lets his imagination run wild, fantasizing about erstwhile ladyloves and his blonde, curvaceous new neighbor (Marilyn Monroe). Inviting her over for a drink, Richard plans to sweep her off her feet and into the bedroom, until he imagines that his flights of fancy are airing nationwide — with his wife in the audience.

What did I like?

Itch. Anyone who has been in a relationship for a length of time probably knows what it is like to get the itch. That isn’t to say that you’re going to go around cheating on your significant other, but if something happens by your way that is a looker (especially if it looks like Marilyn), I’m sure you’re going to do a double-take. Let’s face it, no man is going to turn down chance with her, and the film doesn’t try to hide that fact. Nearly every man who comes across her does a double take, and with good reason.

Imagination. Ewell’s imagination leads to quite some interesting and comedic visions. Sure, he may be a bit paranoid, but given the circumstances, that’s understandable. Some may argue that his visions are over the top, but given the tone of the film and such, they work just fine. If anything, I felt as if there could have been more.

Support. The majority of the film is focused on Monroe and Ewell, but when we do get  glimpse at the supporting characters, they make their presence known, especially the carpet guy, not exactly sure what he really does, Mr. Kruhilik. Small part, but one of those that you will remember. Today he would be considered a bit tame, but for the 60s, he would be considered a bit of a perv based on his actions, mannerisms, and sayings.

What didn’t I like?

Overrated. I think we’ve all see that iconic image of Marilyn standing over the grate with air blowing her dress up, right? Well, that is actually from this film, though all it shows is her (rather skinny) legs, so it is quite possible that it could have been anyone the way they cut away from her face so quickly. I wonder how it is that became such an iconic pose that is still engrained in our psyches today.

Heat wave. Monroe’s character is supposedly burning up from the New York summer (she should come down to this part of the country!!!), and yet she looks just as comfortable as she does when she goes down to visit Ewell in his air-conditioned apartment. I’m not saying she needed to be dripping with sweat and whatnot, but they could have made her a bit more disheveled, if you ask me.

Differences. Apparently, in the stage play, our two leads have sex, as opposed to just playing out scenarios in their heads. This, among other things, was changed for the big screen. I don’t want to get into a debate about which version is superior, nor am I going to bring up how they should have left well enough alone. However, by taking that little scenes of infidelity out, they totally changed the entire story. Given the time when this was released, it isn’t like we were going to see them in the act, but there were better ways to avoid it than changing the entire ending.

The Seven Year Itch is a classic romantic comedy that will put a smile on your face. It isn’t exactly laugh out loud funny, but it has some humourous moments and a very gorgeous leading lady in Marilyn Monroe. Any fan of classic cinema needs to check this out ASAP, it is a definitive must-see, even with its flaws.

4 out of 5 stars

Revisited: The Goonies

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 27, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The Goonies, a group of friends living in the “Goon Docks” neighborhood of Astoria, Oregon, face foreclosure on their families’ homes from the expanding Astoria Country Club. On one of their last days their morale sinks particularly low due to Mikey’s older brother having failed his driver’s license exam, thwarting their plans to “cruise the coast in style” during their “last Goonies weekend.” While rummaging through the Walshes’ attic, they find an old newspaper clipping, a Spanish map, and an artifact relating to a rumor of a lost but not forgotten pirate treasure somewhere in the area. Hearing the call of adventure, Mikey tries to persuade his friends to join him in search for the treasure hoarded by a pirate named One-Eyed Willie. Initially reluctant, the group eventually decides to evade the authority of Mikey’s older brother, Brandon, and escape for one last “Goonie adventure.”

They then head down the coast and stumble upon a derelict seaside restaurant that seems to match coordinates set by the map and an old doubloon, unaware that the Fratellis, a family of fugitives, are using the restaurant as their hideout. After first encountering the family, the Goonies come back after the Fratellis have left and discover their criminal intents, and send Chunk, the group’s clumsy, heavy-set dreamer and teller of tall tales, to get help. However, the Fratellis return before they can leave, forcing the Goonies to use a cavern underneath the restaurant to escape. The Fratellis capture Chunk and interrogate him, learning nothing until a pack of bats burst out of the cavern beneath the restaurant. Chunk is placed in the same room with the forsaken and deformed Fratelli brother, Sloth, while the rest of the Fratellis enter the cavern and follow the Goonies’ trail.

As the Goonies traverse the cavern, Mikey discovers that it matches up with the map and convinces the rest of the group to continue to follow it to find the treasure. They overcome many deadly traps set by One-Eyed Willie, and eventually arrive at a large underground cavern and a lagoon where Willie’s ship, the Inferno, lies waiting. While others begin to fill their pockets with the riches on the ship, Mikey finds Willie’s skeleton, and reverently acknowledges him as the “first Goonie”, leaving part of the treasure with him as tribute. However, as the Goonies exit the hold, they are caught by the Fratellis, who take their treasure and force the kids to walk the plank. The Goonies are saved by the timely arrival of Chunk and Sloth, now close friends, who help the rest of the group to shore. With the children no longer a threat, the Fratellis ransack the rest of the ship, including the share of the treasure Mikey left for Willie. This sets off a final booby trap, causing the cave to begin collapsing. The Goonies flee through a hole in the cave, finding themselves on a beach. Two passing policemen spot them and call in for help.

The Goonies are soon reunited with their parents while the Fratellis are arrested and Chunk offers to take Sloth into his home. As the Astoria Country Club calls upon Mikey’s father to sign over the deed to his property, Rosalita, the Walshes’ maid, discovers that Mikey’s marble bag contains a large handful of jewels taken from the ship. Mikey’s father quickly estimates that its value is more than enough to save everyone’s homes. As the families celebrate, they spot the unmanned Inferno, now free of the cave, sailing away.


The other day I was thinking about movies that define each generation. For those of us that were around in the 80s, The Goonies was one such film, but I really can’t think of any such film for today’s generation. Isn’t that a shame?

What is this about?

A ruthless crime family calling themselves the “Fratellis” have somehow escaped from jail and are now hiding in a town of Astoria, Oregon. Home of a secret kid society known as “The Goonies”, their leader is Michael “Mikey” Walsh, and they are enjoying their last weekend together as a system of contractors have bought their neighborhood and are considering on transforming it into a golf course. However Mikey, stumbles upon a mysterious map to a treasure of a famed pirate “One-Eyed” Willie. So, The Goonies embark on an adventure to find the treasure and save their neighborhood. However, they also came across the Fratellis. So, The Goonies have to stay one step head of the Fratellis and find the treasure while avoiding a system of traps

What did I like?

Vintage. This is a film that has aged like a fine wine. Here it is 2013, and it is still as fresh as it was in 1985, with the exception of some era differences (clothes, music, technology, etc.), of course. Making it even better, they reach back and pay homage to the swashbuckling era with clips of Errol Flynn’s Captain Blood, which is also featured in the film score.

Camaraderie. There is nothing like a group of close-knit friends hanging out and going on an adventure together, especially if it is to search for treasure that may or may not exist so that they can keep their homes from being destroyed and being forced to move. As someone who moved around as a kid thanks to a dad in the Air Force, I never really had the chance to have a group of friends like that, so whenever I see things like this, it really strikes a chord, especially when it is believable.

Story. From start to finish, the story grabs the viewer and takes us on a quite enjoyable ride. There aren’t too many films around that effectively mix comedy and action with a feel good tone, but this is one of those flicks that does so. All the usual elements are here, but it is the great characters that were created which really pushes this film ahead to, dare I say, greatness.

What didn’t I like?

Mikey. Something about this kid rubs me the wrong way everytime I watch. Perhaps it is the fact he gets the majority of the screen time, when much more interesting characters like Data and Mouth are more or less supporting and/or background “noise”. I felt they could have found a better balance amongst all the Goonies, honestly.

Fratellis. Sloth aside, it seems as if the Fratellis were nothing more than bumbling antagonists. Given the general tone of the film, this isn’t an issue, except for the fact that they seem competent enough to figure out how to not fall into the traps on the way to the treasure and also, they appear to have a cruel sadistic streak.

Plasma. This is a small thing, but why in the bloody blue hell was there a plasma globe, which was on, up in the attic with all these dusty artifacts and whatnot?!? I was joking with someone how that may have just been an inside joke by the prop people, which it very well may have been, but if it wasn’t, there is no way it makes any kind of sense for that to be there!

The Goonies is a great flick that should be a requirement for everyone to see.  There is very little, if anything to complain about with this flick. The reputation it has garnered over time is well-earned. Rather than beat around the bush and pad this final paragraph, I’m just gonna say that this is a must-see before you die film!

4 3/4 out of 5 stars

Damn Yankees

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , on January 26, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Joe Boyd is a middle-aged fan of the unsuccessful Washington Senators baseball team. His obsession with baseball is driving a wedge between him and wife Meg—a problem shared by many other wives of Senators supporters. Meg leads them in lamenting their husbands’ fixation with the sport (“Six Months Out of Every Year”).

After seeing his team lose yet again, Joe rashly declares that he would sell his soul to the devil to see his team beat the Yankees. No sooner has he spoken than the devil appears before him in the guise of a suave conman, Applegate. Applegate claims he can go one better—he can restore Joe’s youth, making him the player who wins them the pennant. This was more than Joe bargained for. He agrees, but persuades Applegate to give him an escape clause. Applegate declares that Joe can back out at any time before the last game of the season—afterwards, his soul belongs to the devil.

Joe bids an emotional farewell to a sleeping Meg (“Goodbye Old Girl”), after which Applegate transforms him into a dashing young man, now called Joe Hardy.

The next day, the Senators’ practice is a fiasco. Their manager, Ben Van Buren (Russ Brown), gives the team a rousing pep talk (“Heart”). Applegate arrives and, introducing himself as a scout, presents his new discovery—Joe Hardy from Hannibal, Missouri. Joe promptly hits baseball after baseball out of the park in an impromptu batting practice. As he is signed to a Senators contract, female sportswriter Gloria Thorpe plans to quickly get Joe into the public eye (“Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, Mo.”).

With tremendous home runs and game-saving catches, Joe leads the Senators on a long winning streak into pennant contention and becomes a national hero. Joe misses Meg dreadfully, however, and keeps sneaking back to his old neighborhood for a glimpse of her. Realising this could ruin his plans, Applegate summons his demonic right-hand girl, Lola, a seductress who was once known as the ugliest woman in her territory, but sold her soul to Applegate in exchange for eternal youth and beauty. She is ordered to make Joe forget his wife. Lola is confident that she can carry out this task (“A Little Brains, A Little Talent”).

Joe succeeds in getting close to Meg by renting a room in his old house; Meg is unaware of his baseball stardom. Applegate and Lola manage to corner Joe in the baseball team’s locker room, where Lola confidently tries to seduce Joe (“Whatever Lola Wants”). But she has her first failure—Joe dearly loves Meg, and does not fall for Lola’s tempting ways. Applegate angrily banishes Lola.

By the end of the season, the Senators are on the verge of overtaking the Yankees, so their fans hold a lavish tribute (“Who’s Got the Pain?”). Gloria, having returned from Hannibal, Missouri, where no residents remember a Joe Hardy, confronts Applegate about the player’s true identity. Applegate implies that Joe is actually Shifty McCoy, a corrupt minor leaguer playing under a pseudonym. By the end of the tribute, newspapers arrive accusing Joe of being Shifty. He must meet with the baseball commissioner for a hearing or else be thrown out of baseball—on the day he plans to switch back to being Joe Boyd.

At the hearing, Meg and her female neighbors arrive as material witnesses, attesting to Joe’s honesty and falsely claiming he grew up with them in Hannibal. The commissioner acquits Joe, but as everyone celebrates, midnight strikes. Joe realizes he’s doomed.

Applegate has planned for the Senators to lose the pennant on the last day of the season, resulting in thousands of heart attacks, nervous breakdowns and suicides of Yankee-haters across the country. He’s reminded of his other evil misdeeds throughout history (“Those Were the Good Old Days”.)

Following the hearing, Lola lets Joe know she’s drugged Applegate so that he will sleep through the last game. They commiserate over their condemned situation at a nightclub (“Two Lost Souls”).

Late the next afternoon, Applegate awakens to find the Senators/Yankees game well underway. Realizing Lola has tricked him—and worse, that Lola has actually fallen in love with Joe—he turns her back into an ugly hag.

They arrive at the ballpark by the ninth inning, the Senators up by a run. With two outs, one of the Yankee sluggers (Mickey Mantle) hits a long drive to the outfield. Applegate impulsively switches Joe Hardy back into Joe Boyd in full view of the stadium. Now paunchy and middle-aged, Joe makes a final lunge at the ball and catches it. Washington wins the pennant! As his teammates celebrate and fans storm the field, an unrecognized Joe escapes from the ballpark.

Late that night, as the public wonders why Joe Hardy has disappeared, Joe Boyd meekly returns to his house. Meg quickly hugs him with her tears and they sing to each other (“There’s Something about an Empty Chair”). Applegate materializes once again and tries to make amends by offering Joe the chance to resume being Joe Hardy in time for the World Series. Joe ignores him, and a tantrum-throwing Applegate vanishes for good


So, next week is the Super Bowl, basketball season is in full swing, and here I am watching a musical about baseball. Odd, huh? Well, that is sort of the same way I would describe Damn Yankees, but at least it has no love for the evil empire.

What is this about?

America’s favorite pastime meets the bright lights of Broadway in this musical about an ordinary Joe (Tab Hunter) whose deal with the devil (Ray Walston) transforms him into a home run hitter for the Washington Senators — but Joe must cause his team to lose the pennant. When Joe tries to back out of the deal, the devil sends in sexy Lola (Gwen Verdon), who sings “Whatever Lola Wants” as she mambos to Bob Fosse’s choreography.

What did I like?

Faust. Although they never actually call him Satan, the Devil, Faust, or whatever you want to call him, it is obvious that the guy pulling all the strings, masterfully brought to life by Ray Walston with charm, humor, and charisma. Without him, this film has no legs.

Love story. There is nothing like a good love story, especially when it involves a lost love. The wife that was left behind while Joe was off being a young baseball player, really wears her heart on her sleeve. When the film starts, she seems like a doting, but slightly bitter, wife who loves her husband, but wishes he would pay more attention to her and not the game. The film gives off the vibe that she would be glad he’s gone, but when it makes its way back to her, we can tell she is miserable without him. It is almost heartbreaking.

What didn’t I like?

Music. Yes, the music is something that didn’t really impress me. For a musical, this is pretty pathetic, especially since it is one that is held in such high regard by so many people. These songs just weren’t that great, I’m sorry to say, and before the film was over, I had forgotten them all, including “Whatever Lola Wants”.

Lola. Speaking of Lola, it seems that she should be a really attractive sexpot of a woman, not this creature they trot out from dance school. I can get past the singing, because they can just as easily have dubbed over her voice, but seriously, why couldn’t they get someone easier on the eyes like the character requires. How anyone would fall for this is beyond me. Don’t even get me started on how her rendition on “Whatever Lola Wants” is far from the superior version that can be seen/heard in The Pajama Game.

Changes. All the changes from stage to screen did not do this film justice. I happened to catch a production of this in last year, and it was almost like night and day difference. The plot is still there, but the stage production works so much better. It really gets under my skin when studios change so much of the source material just because it supposedly “works better”.

Damn Yankees is a forgettable film musical that felt like someone stayed up all night writing it at the last minute. There is no reason to see this version. Either track down a stage production of it or, better yet, just rock out to the band Damn Yankees. You’ll have much more fun than sitting through this.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Last Days of Disco

Posted in Drama, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film loosely depicts the “last days” of the disco era in the early 1980s, when weirdness, sex, and drugs ran rampant. The story centers on Alice Kinnon (Chloë Sevigny) and Charlotte Pingress (Kate Beckinsale), two young Manhattan women fresh out of Hampshire College who work in a New York publishing house. The two women, companions but not necessarily close friends, frequent the local disco together in search of music, dance, and romance. They are starkly different in personality: Alice is intelligent, quiet, and rather soft-spoken, while Charlotte is outgoing, conceited, and brutally honest, giving Alice constant “advice”. The women subsequently decide to move in together and find a third roommate, Holly (Tara Subkoff), because neither of them makes quite enough money or receives enough help from her parents to cover the expense. They begin a friendship with one of the club’s managers, Des (Chris Eigeman), and find one-night stands and relationships through the ensuing year, until it appears that the disco era has ended. At the end of the film, Alice and Charlotte part ways after a conflict, and Charlotte and Des discuss how their “big” personalities are “too big” for most people with “healthy-size” personalities, such as Alice. The film closes with a spirited musical dance sequence on the subway with Alice, Josh (her now-boyfriend), and the other passengers and pedestrians to The O’Jays’ song “Love Train”.


Who doesn’t have the urge to get up and dance everytime some disco come on? With music that catchy, doesn’t it lead one to wonder why it is that it just seemed to die? I’ve always been curious what The Last Days of Disco were like.

What is this about?

The Last Days of Disco loosely depicts the “last days” at a disco palace, where drugs, sex and weirdness ran rampant. The story centers around a group of friends who frequent the disco and each other. All the characters are searching for something to make their lives more fulfilling. Some are searching for everlasting love and some are just wanting something different. As the disco is closed, they all wonder can disco ever really be dead?

What did I like?

Music. A film that centers around the final days of disco, as the title says, better damn be sure to have some great tunes. At times, it seems as if they overdo it a bit, as it seems like they are playing a disco station from Pandora all through the film, but with great music like this, you can’t really fault them for wanting to put it out there front and center.

Yuppies. This is a film that isn’t necessarily the most interesting, but the snappy dialogue among these young people really seems to keep things moving. The fact that these characters are all rather annoying yuppies, despite their objection to that term, makes them annoying or intersting…some may even say both.

What didn’t I like?

Youth. Kate Beckinsale is one of the hottest women around but in her younger days she is far from the actress she is today. I do think she made the right decision by doing more action flicks these days, even if they are crappy remakes like that Total Recall bs. Here, though, she is just a bitchy, loudmouth, overbearing, know-it-all that is highly unlikable. It is a wonder that anyone feels anything for her during her medical emergency near the end of the film.

Dance. Given the tone of the film, I’m not going to fault the flick for the dance scene at the end, but they could better job with it. It seems as if they couldn’t think how to end the film, at least on a high note, so they just stuck a dance in there. I also felt that they wanted to prove that although disco had been “killed”, many still felt that it had some life left in it.

Bro drama. I don’t really know what the whole deal with the guys was. There seemed to be every cliché guy move thrown in there, save for them being rival athletes. I can’t say that I was a fan of this. There were times when I got lost in it all….or maybe I just lost interest, it was hard to tell.

The Last Days of Disco did not really impress. Truth be told, if not for the music, this would really be a boring flick, at least in my eyes. My opinion aside, though, this could really be up someone’s alley and you can never truly know until you watch it for yourself. To me, this was an average flick, but I still say check it out sometime, if you think about it.

3 out of 5 stars

The Big Doll House

Posted in Action/Adventure, Classics, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2013 by Mystery Man


Collier (Brown) enters prison, having been found guilty of killing her husband. She is introduced to the pulchritudinous companions of her cell, in for crimes ranging from political insurgency to heroin addiction. The women trade tiffs, which leads to their torture by sadistic guard Lucian (Kathryn Loder). The torture ceremonies are viewed by an impassive cloaked figure.

Collier’s cellmates Alcott and Bodine (Collins and Woodell) plan to escape. Collier and another cellmate Ferina (Gina Stuart) agree to go along. Assisting is their other lesbian cellmate Grear (Pam Grier), though there are doubts Grear’s heroin addict girlfriend Harrad (Brooke Mills) will be equipped to escape.

Ferina, Alcott and Bodine break from the solitary confinement sauna and take their revenge on Lucian. The escapers wield guns, attitude, and a vacillating feminist/submissive sexuality to free themselves.

During their escape they round up various personnel from the prison as hostages, taking elegant prison warden Miss Dietrich (Christiane Schmidtmer), sympathetic prison medic Dr Phillips (Jack Davis), and two local men regularly allowed access to the prison to sell market produce, Harry (Sid Haig) and Fred (Jerry Franks).


Who doesn’t want to see a good prison flick? Well, if that’s what you’re in the mood for, then The Big Doll House is the perfect flick for you. Well, maybe I should retract the “good” part of that statement, as I’m not sure this would qualify.

What is this about?

In this campy addition to the women in-prison genre, the systematic brutality and corruption of a grim Philippine prison leads a resourceful inmate and her fellow convicts to plan a big breakout with help from a pair of unwitting accomplices.

What did I like?

Girls with guns. Let’s not try to make this some kind of high brow flick, because that isn’t what it is. This is a 70s flick that focuses on two things, scantily clad women in prison and guns. In other words, this is more of a flick for guys. As a guy, I’m perfectly ok with that.

Torture. The torture scenes were something to behold, as you actually feel the pain that these women were enduring as the sadistic guard was having the pleasure of torturing them, while the hooded man watched on in silence. It gives a new definition to the term sadistic voyeur.

Men. There are 3 men in this film. One is the prison doctor who seems to know that something is a bit off and appears to truly care for the prisoners well-being. The other two deliver produce (and other things) to the prison and provide comic relief. None of these guys give top-notch performances, by any stretch of the imagination, but they don’t drag the film down, which is a plus.

What didn’t I like?

Submissive dominant. I’m all for a submissive woman as much as the next guy, but one of the chicks that was playing the submissive role had me scratching my head. When we first see her, she’s one of those women that mouths off to authority. For goodness sakes, she killed her husband for a reason I forgot. Does this sound like a woman who is going to submit to anyone? Of course, it is Pam Grier she is submitting to.

Authority. During the torture scenes, Lucian takes her hair down. For what reason, I don’t know, but she does it. Seems to be that she would be putting it up to perform torture, but what do I know. The warden is a truly beautiful woman, probably the best looking I’ve ever seen. Dar I say it, but she may have been too beautiful for this position. Think about it, a woman with model looks in a prison full of women who are sure to be jealous of her since they can’t make themselves all girlied up any time soon.

Make-up. Speaking of being all girlied up, it seems as if all the prisoners are wearing make-up. How is this possible in prison and when they’re all sweaty? Something isn’t quite right here, especially when it look as if all the guards, with the exception of the sadistic head guard, are not wearing any. I know this flick isn’t exactly trying to be the most realistic, but come on!

The Big Doll House is probably the best of these women in prison flicks. The plot actually makes sense, as opposed to Women in Cages and The Big Bird Cage. Having said that, it still is just an excuse to show scantily clad, and sometimes nude, women in prison, wrestling in mud, etc. I recommend this to those that have a flair for 70s flicks, but that’s about it. Even Pam Grier fans will be disappointed, especially since she comes to an abrupt end. To say I was disappointed is an understatement, but there is still some joy to be had from watching this. You have to make your own call, though.

3 out of 5 stars

Pitch Perfect

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film revolves around the Bellas, an all-female a cappella group from Barden University. Reeling from a humiliating loss at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella, the group struggles to find new members the next year.

Beca (Anna Kendrick), a Barden freshman, has no desire to go to college, but is forced to attend by her father, a professor at the university. Wishing to instead move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in music production, she takes up an internship at the school radio station, where she meets fellow freshman Jesse (Skylar Astin). When Beca’s father (John Hickey) finds out that Beca has not been attending classes, he offers to let Beca go to Los Angeles if she joins a club and proves that she wants to be involved. After some persuasion from Aubrey (Anna Camp), the group leader, and Chloe (Brittany Snow), she joins the Bellas, along with a group of other women who do not fit the Bellas’ typical mold, including the homosexual Cynthia-Rose (Ester Dean), the sexually driven Stacie Conrad (Alexis Knapp), the quiet Lilly Onakuramara (Hana Mae Lee), who speaks inaudibly, and Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson).

At practice, Aubrey’s controlling nature gets on the nerves of the other girls. She is constantly critical and insists that they use the same set list the Bellas have been using for years, which clashes with Beca’s contemporary style. Meanwhile, Beca hangs out with Jesse—who has joined the Treblemakers, the Bellas’ main rival—despite Aubrey’s warning to the group not to get involved with Treblemakers. Beca plays several of her own mixes of contemporary songs for him, and he compliments her for her talent. He then tries to get Beca to watch the ending of The Breakfast Club, his favorite movie, after Beca tells him she does not like movies because they bore her and she never gets to the ending.

Despite their issues, the Bellas attend the regional a cappella competition. In spite of their bland set list, the group manages to place second at the regional a cappella competition. On the way to semifinals, the group stops for gas where Fat Amy is hit with a burrito by Bumper (Adam DeVine), the leader of the Treblemakers, as they drive past in their own bus. After the other girls clean her up, they continue on to the venue but run out of gas since Fat Amy forgot to put any in the bus. They are then forced to call the Treblemakers to drive them to the venue.

At the semifinals, Beca notices how bored the audience is with Aubrey’s traditional arrangement, so she provides impromptu back-up, La Roux’s “Bulletproof”. The Bellas come in third in the competition behind the Treblemakers and the Footnotes. Even though the audience was pleased, Aubrey is not and she yells at Beca, who quits the group. The Bellas make it into the Nationals after the Footnotes are disqualified because their lead singer was discovered to be in high school, not college. The Bellas get back together after spring break, but Beca is not included.

During this time, Beca begins working as a DJ at the university radio station, playing her music on the overnight shift, and also steadily distancing herself from Jesse. She finds a copy of The Breakfast Club and watches it. She realizes how much she needs the Bellas in her life. Her father convinces her to rejoin the Bellas, who she finds falling apart. The Bellas, complete once more, have a heart-to-heart and decide to kick things up a notch with Beca’s 21st-century mash-ups.

At the National Competition, the Bellas sing a piece arranged by Beca, including “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”, the theme from The Breakfast Club. The Bellas win the competition and Beca and Jesse reunite with a kiss. Fast forward to 6 months later in new auditions, where it shows Jesse and Benji sitting at a desk in the auditions hall, followed by Beca and the Bellas, along with their Nationals trophy, preparing to select new members for their groups.


Pitch Perfect has one thing to thank for the fact that it was even made, and that is the show Glee. Without it, a cappella music would still be the butt of every music joke seen in movies. I’m glad that the star aligned to get this film put into production, though, because this pleased the film fan and musician in me.

What is this about?

The Barden Bellas are a collegiate, all-girls a cappella singing group thriving on female pop songs and their perfect looks. After a disastrous failing at last year’s finals, they are forced to regroup. Among the new recruits is freshman Beca, an independent, aspiring DJ with no interest in the college life. But after she meets Jesse, from the rival all-male a cappella group, Beca has a new outlook and takes it upon herself to help the Bellas find their new look and sound and get back into the competition.

What did I like?

Focus. We’ve all seen films like this where the choir, band, nerd fraternity, or what have you is the focus of the film, but some kind of cruel fraternity, athlete, or corrupt administrator gets in the way of everything they do. Someone realized that we’ve seen that scenario played out too many times and didn’t include them. The film focuses so much on the groups that is seems as if they are the athletic teams for this school or, at the least it seems, the only thing that is going on campus.

Fat Amy. At first, I thought Rebel Wilson was just doing her best to be a female Jonah Hill, but she turned out to be actually funny. On top of that, the only mention of her weight is by her, which I found to be a nice touch. She calls herself Fat Amy so that the “skinny bitches” can’t do it behind her back. Love it! Need more characters like her in movies, I tell you! If you were wondering where you’ve seen her before, think of the goth girl who talks to reporters early on in Ghost Rider, that’s her.

Oh, snap. The writers of this film deserve some major accolades for delivering one of the funniest films of 2012. Often, comedies are brought down by some melodrama in the middle and never recover. This is a film that doesn’t fall in that trap and with a mostly female cast it mos certainly could have. The jokes and characters keep the non musical parts of this film afloat until we get to the next song, much in the same way the frist season of Glee did (before they went overboard with their gay agenda thing and turned into more of a drama than a fun musical show).

Soft-spoken psycho. A woman of few words, the little Asian chick has some quite disturbingly funny lines when she gets them out. Think of the Asian kid from American Dad, only she speaks English…just very quietly. It is the same idea, but it works better for some reason.

What didn’t I like?

Bad influence. I think all those Twilight movies finally rubbed off on Anna Kendrick. Her acting didn’t seem as genuine as with other films I’ve seen her in, such as Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Up in the Air. Part of this I can attribute to her character being the way she is. I still wonder why she just kept blowing up at this guy who was just trying to help her out. Also, she insults Darth Vader, there is no reason for that!

DJ. Contrary to popular belief, DJing is not music. Anyone can hit play on a couple of songs and come up with some sort of mix. It is an insult to the true musicians of the world to call DJing music! At least no one tried to force dubstep on us. Maybe they’re saving that for the sequel.

Characters. To me, it seemed as if the film was so centered on Anna Kendrick’s character and her relationship with her dad, the guy who wants to be her boyfriend, and the senor leader of the Bellas, that they forget about the other girls. Fat Amy has a few good scenes, but that’s about it. I dare you to watch this and tell me about Stacie, Cynthia-Rose, or the two girls who are just there to fill out the quota. They could have done better with this, especially since Becca wasn’t really that great of a character.

Roommate. In college, I mostly had private dorm rooms until I moved off campus, but the few times I did have a roommate, they weren’t exactly the best in the world, but they weren’t antisocial, either. We just didn’t get along, except for my last roommate, he was pretty cool. The girl Becca gets stuck with, another person that isn’t developed, just doesn’t seem to be a good roommate. She shows this by her action in the few scenes we see her. In one, she and her friends come in and they say something about “the white girl”. In a pivotal scene later on when the Bellas are in Becca’s room, something is said about them waiting for her. Of course, as she is on her way out, the roommate says something about they’ve been there forever. Uncalled for, I tell ya!

Someone described this as Drumline for vocal groups. At first, I didn’t understand the comparison, but now I do. Each of these musical numbers is polished to such an extreme lustre that it is obvious they were done in the studio, but it is still an a cappella film, something that there aren’t very many of. As a matter of fact, I think the only non-church choir film out there are the Sister Act films, and they straddle the fence. With all that said, my final verdict on this is that it is a must-see!

4 3/4 out of 5 stars


Posted in Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , on January 19, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In small-town Carthage, Texas, local assistant mortician Bernie Tiede (Jack Black), a beloved member of the community, becomes the only friend of the wealthy, recently widowed Marjorie Nugent (Shirley MacLaine), who is widely considered cold and unpleasant by the other townsfolk. Tiede, in his late 30s, and the elderly Nugent quickly become inseparable, frequently traveling and lunching together, though Tiede’s social life becomes hindered by Nugent’s constant and sometimes abusive need for his attention.

Tiede murders Nugent after growing weary of the emotional toll of her possessiveness, persistent nagging and non-stop putdowns. For nine months, Tiede takes advantage of her poor reputation to excuse her absence with few questions while using her money to support local businesses and neighbors. Finally, Nugent’s stockbroker becomes concerned by her absence and enlists the help of her estranged family by using Tiede’s neglect of payments previously agreed upon by the family. This results in an authorized police search of her house that concludes with the discovery of her body in a meat freezer.

The local district attorney, Danny Buck Davidson (Matthew McConaughey) charges Tiede with first-degree (premeditated) murder. Tiede is arrested and he soon confesses that he killed Nugent while claiming her emotional abuse as a mitigating circumstance. Despite this confession, many citizens of Carthage still rally to the murderer’s defense, with some even asserting that Nugent deserved to die. Frustrated, Davidson successfully requests a change of venue to the town of San Augustine, 50 miles away, to avoid selecting a biased jury. Despite the absence of evidence of premeditation, Tiede is found guilty as charged and imprisoned for life.


Bernie is a true story, ya’ll. I kid you not, the first title card we see says, “you are fixin’ to see a true story”. The fact that it was written like that should tell you that this is not going to be some heavy-handed true life drama like other true stories we’ve seen over time.

What is this about?

In this black comedy inspired by a true story, affable Texas mortician Bernie befriends the small town’s wealthiest widow and then kills her. But despite the suspicious nature of her death, no one wants to think anything but the best of Bernie.

What did I like?

Different. I’m not exactly a huge fan of Jack Black. I find his comedy too…something…for my taste. So, the fact that he was starring in this film was a bit of a red flag for me, but he actually did a real good job. Apparently, others thought so too, because he was nominated for Best Actor Golden Globe. Stepping out of the box was good for Black. Maybe he should do it more often and continue to grow as an actor, rather than keep retreading on his tired schtick (which has been improved upon by Zach Galifianakis).

Townsfolk. Judging by the end credits, it seems that the townspeople used for the documentary setting of this are perhaps real people from Carthage, TX. Just like any other small town, they are quite the colorful bunch of characters. The little anecdotes they provide really spice things up.

76 trombones. The classic song from The Music Man, “76 Trombones” is performed by Bernie and his little theatre troupe. As a huge of the musical, it isn’t the best version, but it isn’t the worst. A very respectable version of it, if I say so myself. I wonder who thought to put that in there, because it was a stroke of genius!

What didn’t I like?

Lowlife. Bernie is so loved in this town that it seems as if no one really cared that he allegedly murdered this woman, plus she wasn’t exactly Little Miss Sunshine. Listening to the testimonies, all the people loved him, even when they were talking smack about him, but there was this one guy, the D.A., played by Matthew McCounaughey who, in today’s vernacular, is a “hater”. He’s so anti-Bernie that he gets the trial moved to a different town just so that he can get a win. That’s some low-level, dirty handed tactics, but he is a lawyer.

Don’t call me Shirley. It seems like every film I see Shirley MacLaine in nowadays, she’s playing the bitter old woman character. Don’t quote me on this, but I believe this can be traced back to Steel Magnolias. Ouizer was a great character, don’t get me wrong, but I’m starting to wonder if she’s not like this in real life now because of all these rather unpleasant women she’s been on screen.

Mix and match. Two things bother me about this flick. First, they show the real Bernie Tiede at the end, and Jack Black doesn’t look anything like him. Truthfully, that isn’t that big of a deal, but I have to wonder if Black is doing a caricature of Bernie, or if he really is like this. Since we never hear him talk, one can’t really say. Second, the tone of the film is a bit of an issue. It starts off as a bit of a comedy, then turns into a legal drama of sorts. Personally, I think this film would be better served sticking with the dark comedy angle, rather than turning into Law & Order: Carthage, TX.

Bernie is one of those films that gets talked about but no one remembers even hearing about it when it was in theaters. I don’t even recall seeing a trailer for it, though I might have seen a poster in passing. All this is really a shame, because, truth be told, this is a good and enjoyable film. Yes, it has a few issues and is likely to turn some people off, but I would definitely watch it again. Check it out sometime!

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

The Silence of the Lambs

Posted in Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Clarice Starling (Foster) is pulled from her training at the FBI Academy at Quantico, Virginia, by Jack Crawford (Glenn) of the Bureau’s Behavioral Science Unit. He tasks her with interviewing Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins), a former psychiatrist and incarcerated cannibalistic serial killer, believing Lecter’s insight might be useful in the pursuit of a serial killer nicknamed “Buffalo Bill” (Levine), who skins his female victims’ corpses.

Starling travels to the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, where she is led by Dr. Frederick Chilton (Heald) to Lecter’s solitary quarters. Although initially pleasant and courteous, Lecter grows impatient with Starling’s attempts at “dissecting” him and rebuffs her. As she is leaving, one of the prisoners flicks semen at her. Lecter, who considers the discourtesy “unspeakably ugly”, calls Starling back and tells her to seek out an old patient of his. This leads her to a storage shed where she discovers a man’s severed head. She returns to Lecter, who tells her that the man is linked to Buffalo Bill. He offers to profile Buffalo Bill on the condition that he be transferred away from Chilton, whom he detests.

When Buffalo Bill kidnaps a U.S. Senator’s daughter, Catherine Martin, Crawford authorizes Starling to offer Lecter a fake deal promising a prison transfer if he provides information that helps find Buffalo Bill and rescue the abductee. Instead, Lecter begins a game of quid pro quo with Starling, offering comprehensive clues and insights about Buffalo Bill if Starling will give him information about her own past, something she was advised not to do. Chilton secretly records the conversation and reveals Starling’s deal as a sham before offering to transfer Lecter in exchange for a deal of Chilton’s own making. Lecter agrees and is flown to Memphis, Tennessee, where he reveals personal information on Buffalo Bill to federal agents.

As the manhunt begins, Starling visits Lecter at his special cell in a Tennessee courthouse and confronts him with her decryption of the name he provided (“Louis Friend”, an anagram of “iron sulfide”, also known as fool’s gold). Lecter refuses Starling’s pleas for the truth and forces her to recount her traumatic childhood. She tells him how she was orphaned and relocated to a relative’s farm, where she discovered a lamb slaughterhouse and even made a failed attempt to rescue one of them. Lecter gives her back the case files on Buffalo Bill after their conversation is interrupted by Chilton and the police who escort her from the building. Later that evening, Lecter kills his guards, escapes from his cell and disappears.

Starling analyzes Lecter’s annotations to the case files and realizes that Buffalo Bill knew his first victim personally. Starling travels to the victim’s hometown and discovers that Buffalo Bill was a tailor, with dresses and dress patterns identical to the patches of skin removed from each of his victims. She telephones Crawford to inform him that Buffalo Bill is trying to fashion a “woman suit” of real skin, but Crawford is already en route to make an arrest, having cross-referenced Lecter’s notes with hospital archives and finding a man named Jame Gumb, who once applied unsuccessfully for a sex-change operation. Starling continues interviewing friends of Buffalo Bill’s first victim in Ohio while Crawford leads an F.B.I. tactical team to Gumb’s address in Illinois. The house in Illinois is empty and Starling is led to the house of “Jack Gordon”, who she realizes is actually Jame Gumb. She pursues him into his multi-room basement, where she discovers that Catherine is still alive, but trapped in a dry well. After turning off the basement lights, Gumb stalks Starling in the dark with night-vision goggles but gives his position away when he cocks his revolver; Starling turns around just in time and kills him.

Some time later at her FBI Academy graduation party, Starling receives a phone call from Lecter, who is at an airport in Bimini. He assures her that he does not plan to pursue her and asks her to return the favor, which she says she cannot do. Lecter then hangs up the phone, saying that he is “having an old friend for dinner” and begins following a newly-arrived Chilton before disappearing into the crowd.


For as much as I’ve heard about The Silence of the Lambs, it comes as a surprise to me that it was a sleeper hit upon its release. Just goes to show that sometimes films are ahead of their time, at least in terms of audience attraction.

What is this about?

In this adaptation of Thomas Harris’s novel, FBI trainee Clarice Starling ventures into a maximum-security asylum to pick the diseased brain of Hannibal Lecter, hoping the psychiatrist turned homicidal cannibal can help her catch a serial killer.

What did I like?

Impact. You know you have given a good, memorable performance when you are only on the screen for about 15 or so minutes and create a memorable character. A role that goes on to garner an Academy Award win. Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal is both one of those genius level intellectual that seems to know just about everything and a creepy individual, to boot!

Genre splice. It is hard to really pigeon-hole this into one genre. Mostly, it is a thriller/suspense flick, but there are some aspects that tend to lean more toward the horror side of things. There is something to be said about keeping strictly to one genre or the other but, every now and then, mixing and matching can work. Please don’t think that this film suddenly throws ghosts, monsters, and whatnot at you, but a few gory scenes will have you cringing. It is no wonder that Gene Hackman and Michelle Pfeiffer turned it down because of objectionable content.

Hello, Clarice. Last week, Jodie Foster won some kind of lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes. This is the role that is mostly responsible for her career. Sure, Clarice Starling is a the cold, career driven female we’ve seen all too often, but she needs to be, given the vast intellect and psychiatric experience of Hannibal and the random insanity of Buffalo Bill.

What didn’t I like?

Killers. Both Buffalo Bill and Hannibal are barely on-screen. Yes, Hannibal is the subject of 3 or 4 other films that make up for it, and you can say that not having them chewing up scenery makes them better characters. On the hand, you can also say that they aren’t really given enough time to be developed, especially Buffalo Bill. I felt we could have used a bit more, not much, but a bit.

Comic. Buffalo Bill is supposed to be some kind of weird wannabe transvestite killer who was making a suit of his victims (all female). That’s some sick stuff, right? My issue with him, though, is how he seemed to be some sort of comic relief. I won’t deny that this flick sure could’ve used a bit of levity, but it seemed out-of-place, especially coming from your antagonist. It isn’t like this guy is some kind of incompetent supervillain or insane mastermind that was monologing his master plan. It is a small thing, but I just didn’t feel it was necessary.

I am still dumbfounded by the fact that The Silence of the Lambs was not a huge hit when it was released. By all accounts, this should have been a huge success. It surely has been in the years since its release, that’s for sure. This is a really great film, though, that is a must-see for anyone that is into these kind of films, so check it out!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Killer Joe

Posted in Independent, Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , on January 16, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Finding himself in considerable debt, with loan sharks threatening to kill him, 21-year-old Texan drug dealer Chris Smith (Emile Hirsch) decides the only solution is to murder his mother, Adele, to collect the $50,000 of insurance money. He has been told by his mother’s boyfriend Rex that the sole beneficiary will be his younger sister Dottie (Juno Temple). Assuming Dottie would share any money she gets with them, Chris tries to rope his father, Ansel (Thomas Haden Church), into a conspiracy to kill Adele – who is Ansel’s ex-wife – to get the money. Chris tells his dad that he has heard of a guy who can help them — Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a police detective who has a side career as a contract killer. Ansel eventually agrees, planning to split the money four ways between themselves, Dottie, and Ansel’s new wife Sharla (Gina Gershon). Dottie hears the plan as they are talking, and agrees that it’s a good idea.

The plan almost fails when Chris is unable to front Joe’s fee. However, Joe met the odd, childlike Dottie when he came to the trailer to discuss the details, and offers to take her as a “retainer” until the insurance comes through. Through Dottie’s interaction with Joe, we learn that Adele (her mother) tried to kill her once when she was a baby.

Joe “dates” Dottie and then appears to be staying over at the trailer and having sex with her regularly. Chris has a change of heart and asks him to call it off, unaware that the killing has already happened. But, he finds out quickly enough when Joe calmly enlists his help to move the body and torch the car they put it in.

After Adele’s death is discovered, the family learns that the insurance claim actually pays to Adele’s boyfriend Rex, not to Dottie. Ansel and Sharla confront Chris about this and he admits he originally heard the details about the policy from Rex, who also originally told him about Joe. The family all realize that Chris has been duped into hiring someone to commit this murder. Immediately afterwards, Chris tries to talk his sister into running away with him to escape the loan sharks. Dottie says she will go with him, but she must see Joe again first.

Ansel and Sharla go back to their trailer after the funeral. Joe is already there with Dottie. He comes out of her room and begins asking seemingly casual questions of Sharla. They become more and more pointed until ultimately they force her to admit that she knew the policy was really $100,000 (accidental death is double). Joe also has retrieved some nude photos of Rex which Sharla had taken which Joe uses to prove her affair to Ansel. Joe also shows them a check he has obviously taken from Rex, payable to Rex for $100,000. Angered, Ansel declines to protect Sharla when Joe punches her and forces her to simulate oral sex on a piece of fried chicken.

Joe knows Chris is coming to take Dottie away and makes Sharla put dinner on the table. After Chris arrives and they are all seated, Joe announces that he and Dottie will be married. Chris refuses to let them, ordering Dottie to leave with him, as Joe tells her to stay where she is. For a moment she sits there; then she gets up and turns and while the men yell out at her. Chris threatens Joe with a gun, and the two struggle. In the subsequent confusion, Dottie recovers the gun and shoots Chris, killing him. She shoots a few more times and wounds Ansel. Dottie turns the gun on Joe, telling him that she is pregnant. Joe appears overjoyed as he inches closer to Dottie. The film ends just as Dottie moves her finger back on the trigger.


One of the best films, according to critics and their ilk, of the year that most people did not see was Killer Joe. I wouldn’t know about it either, if not for a friend that happened to catch it at SXSW and insisted that I see it ASAP (why he couldn’t just let come to SXSW, I don’t know). I’m always reticent when it comes to independent films, but this one seemed to have something different that really intrigued me.

What is this about?

Dimwitted drug dealer Chris hires Killer Joe to ice his mother for her insurance. But Chris is broke, so Joe demands his sister Dottie as collateral. Dottie’s not about to be treated as chattel, and Killer Joe soon wishes he’d never taken the job.

What did I like?

Hirsch-y. I guess Speed Racer didn’t kill this guy’s career, contrary to popular belief. He had a decent part in Savages and now he’s starring in this, giving perhaps the performance of his career. From what I’ve seen of Hirsch’s career, he’s always been the clean-cut, nice guy, but these last two films, especially this one, he’s really gotten down and dirty, and it works for him. If he keeps this up, his reinvention could be on par with that of Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Slimy, yet satisfying. McConaughey steals the show as this creepy, yet eerily calm cop that seems like he could snap at any minute, which he does in the tense final act. It is the tone of the whole film, though, that I’m referring to. Not only do you get a weird vibe throughout the picture that makes you immediately want to go take 10 showers, but it intensifies as things progress. Did I mention that this was rated NC-17?

What you don’t see. Joe is a killer, but the one thing we don’t ever see him do is kill his target. The first, and only, look we get of her is when she is seen in the trunk. This little bit of artistic decision, for lack of a better term, is genius on the director’s part, because later on when Joe gets violent about his money, it makes that more effective. I cannot really tell you why, but there is just something about a guy who doesn’t seem to get riled up over stuff suddenly snapping that is very yin and yang. Joe’s dark side is what makes him such a fascinating character, coupled with his obsession with the young daughter.

What didn’t I like?

Church. There was a time, long ago it seems, that this guy was the funny janitor on a little sitcom called Wings. He has come a long way since then, but this is not one of his better performances in my opinion. That isn’t to say it isn’t good, but it seems to be the kind of thing we’ve come to expect from him. With Hirsch and, to an extent, McConaughey stepping out of their normal comfort zones, I felt that it would have nice to see Church follow suit.

Texas pride. This is a small thing, but I have to bring it up. Why in the bloody blue hell was this filmed in Louisiana, instead of Texas?!? As a native Texas living in Louisiana, I can tell you that it was obvious they were far off from making this authentic, no matter how much they tried. I imagine it all had something to do with tax breaks and all that mess. I understand that, but there comes a point when you just have ti bite the bullet and go for it. You don’t see films set in New York being filmed down here!

Insurance and gangsters. After the target is killed, there is this whole discussion about insurance that just seemed to come out of nowhere. A little before that, we see Hirsch get a beat down by some guys to which he owes money. What happens after that? Nothing, really. There are a couple of mentions of them, but that’s it. As far as the insurance, well, that just seemed like it should have set up or defined better/earlier, rather than waiting until after the woman is dead to bring it up and then use it as the (weak) plot for the second half of the film.

Killer Joe is a disturbing, violet, dark comedy that is only for those that can take it. I would not recommend this to anyone unless you’re the kind that can handle a little violence and/or other controversial subjects. Does that mean this is a good or bad film? Yes, it is very good, but I think it stop just short of being great. I enjoyed the film, but I’m not going to rush out and buy the DVD. If you’re up for a good indie overlooked and underappreciated flick, this is one you should check out!

4 out of 5 stars

Godzilla vs. Monster Zero (Invasion of Astro-Monster)

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , on January 16, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the late 1960s, a two-man spacecraft, crewed by a Japanese and American (Fuji and Glenn), approaches Jupiter’s orbit to explore the newly discovered Planet X. The planet maintains a position directly behind Jupiter, leaving its surface in twilight, with just enough light to make it possible to navigate its surface.

After landing and disembarking, one of the astronauts and the ship vanishes, leaving the other to wonder where they have gone. Suddenly, a flat voice comes over the communications link and instructs the lone astronaut down into subterranean corridors to the office of the Controller of Planet X, where he finds his shipmate.

The spacecraft is safe, the controller assures them and indicates that their location is about to be attacked. The astronauts recognize the attacking monster is King Ghidorah, the three-headed space dragon. The astronauts lose contact with the Controller, but afterwards they are assured that Ghidorah, known to the Xians as Monster Zero, is gone.

The Controller asks for Earth’s help: they want to capture Godzilla and Rodan, known to the Xians as Monster Zero-One and Monster Zero-Two. In return, Planet X will gift humanity with a wonder drug that can cure all diseases. The astronauts agree to return home with the proposal. As they lift off, they say on the radio to the Controller, “We’re glad we found friends on Planet X.”

Meanwhile, Fuji’s sister’s boyfriend, Tetsuo, has invented a personal alarm he thinks women could use if they’re attacked. It creates an extremely loud noise that can be heard for a long distance. Tetsuo wonders, though, why no one is interested in buying it. Eventually, a Miss Namikawa makes an offer to buy the alarm as an educational device, though she keeps putting Tetsuo off on completing the deal. In truth, her boss wants the device and the plans destroyed.

Fuji and Glenn tell their superiors about the offer from Planet X. Scientists begin searching for Godzilla and Rodan. The Controller of Planet X suddenly makes an appearance on Earth, and both Glenn, who is dating Miss Namikawa and Fuji both become suspicious of Planet X. The Controller apologizes for his unannounced presence and offers to help locate the two monsters. Two Planet X spacecraft rapidly deploy to capture the two monsters.

Glenn, Fuji and Dr. Sakurai are invited to accompany the Controller back to Planet X, a trip that takes only a few hours; the Controller says that soon they’ll be able to travel at the speed of light. When they reach Planet X, there is an immediate attack by Ghidorah, and the two monsters from Earth are released to battle him. Ghidorah is driven off and the Controller is extremely happy. He presents the astronauts with a box he says contains the formula for the miracle drug. He also gives the three men duplicate of their spaceship so they can fly home.

Back home the box is taken to a special meeting and in it is found a reel-to-reel tape. It is loaded to play, but when the speakers remain silent for a long period, some wonder if the systems are compatible. Finally, after a beep a voice states, “I am the controller of Planet X. To the people of the Earth. I command that you obey the following orders…” It is an ultimatum to surrender to Planet X or be destroyed by all three monsters.

The Xians soon arrive and destroy the gift spacecraft. They also threaten to release King Ghidorah, Godzilla and Rodan. Overly confident, the Xians show the world how they control the monsters through magnetic waves. The Earth scientists know they can exploit this information and work rapidly to find a way to disrupt the waves. Meanwhile, Earth’s armies fight the three monsters with conventional weapons as they destroy much of Japan.

Tetsuo, is unhappy his device is not being used, and he is unable to get Miss Namikawa to tell him what’s happening. He decides to follow her, but is captured by Planet X soldiers. Glenn eventually discovers Miss Namikawa is from Planet X and all their women are virtually identical. Fearing what he knows, the Xians arrest him and put in the same cell as Tetsuo. However, this proves to be their undoing as he and Tetsuo begin to cooperate. Before she is disintegrated by a soldier, Namikawa gives Glenn a letter in which she told him the weakness of the people of Planet X: the sound from Tetsuo’s alarm. Tetsuo, who still has the prototype, sets it off. It paralyzes the Planet X soldiers, enabling Glenn and Tetsuo to escape.

They reach the space center scientists and explain about the alarm. Arrangements are made to broadcast it on all radio and television stations, but only when the magnetic disruption devices are deployed.

The three monsters are no longer under Planet X control, as their spacecraft explode as their crews try to escape the debilitating alarm noise. The invaders withdraw from the Earth. Meanwhile, Godzilla and Rodan attacks Ghidorah, forcing all three to fall into the sea. Ghidorah emerges and retreats to outer space, but Godzilla and Rodan never resurface, leading the humans to wonder whether King Ghidorah defeated them.

Glenn and Fuji are to be sent to Planet X again as ambassadors to seek peaceful relations


Last week, I was reading somewhere that they had hired a writer to reboot the Godzilla franchise. Why, oh why, is this necessary? Are studios that devoid of ideas that they have to do such nonsense. At this point, it is nothing more than just a case of laziness. *SIGH* Let’s talk about Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, shall we?

What is this about?

Aliens from the mysterious Planet X, which resides on the dark side of Jupiter, come to Earth asking its people to help them save their world from the dreaded King Ghidrah by letting them “borrow” Godzilla and Rodan. The aliens are actually planning to use the three monsters to take over our planet.

What did I like?

Monsters will be monsters. For the most part, Godzilla, Rodan, and Ghidorah all act as monsters. In other films of this franchise, Godzilla was starting to act more and more human. With the exception of a scene where he and Rodan are stranded on Planet X, the big guy is back to his normal destroy everything self, it seems like.

Plot. Believe it or not, there is an actual plot here that isn’t the usual “Godzilla is coming to Tokyo so we have to nuke the hell out of him to save the city”. Instead, we have a race of intelligent beings from Planet X who appear to be having trouble with a being they call Monster Zero, but we know as Ghiorah. I was also a fan of how they pulled the big double cross and tried to enslave the people of Earth. It just seemed to convenient how they knew where Godzilla and Rodan were on out planet, yet couldn’t come up with a way to stop Ghidorah, despite the fact that they are infinitely more advanced that us.

Pacing. Other films in this franchise, whether it be from lack fo real plot development, or my ADHD kicking in because I don’t care to read the subtitles, seem to drag on for much longer than they need to, which is ironic considering that I think this is the longest of the bunch. Enough cannot be said about a good brisk pace. No one is ever going to confuse a Godzilla flick with Citizen Kane. These films are good sci-fi fun, so when they just get to it, that is when they work the best.

What didn’t work?

Humans. I probably sound like a broken record, as I say this with every Godzilla flick, but there were just too many humans. Yes, this one probably had the best acting (if you can call it that) of the bunch, headlines by Nick Adams. You may recognize him as constant compatriot of Dean Martin and Elvis in their films, or perhaps you could know hims from No Time for Sergeants. At any rate, I realize that there needs to be some human element here, but it just seems as if they were being too cheap to focus on the monsters, as well as maintaining their stubbornness/delusion that people care about the humans. I have the same problem with the Transformers movies, if you will recall.

Godzilla Ali. I don’t know if he does it in any of the other films, but this Godzilla had some moves like a boxer. I kid you not, in the final battle with Ghidorah he is literally boxing the three-headed beast. This may come off as cute to some, I wasn’t a fan, especially after he had done some weird kind of dance on Planet X after beating Ghidorah.

Women. In all of the previous films, the women have been nothing more than eye candy. This is no exception but, in a weird turn of events, the females that we have been seeing are in fact from Planet X. I wish I could say more about this, but it just seems to me as if this was a way to give the women something to do, as  they don’t serve much purpose otherwise.

Godzilla vs. Monster Zero should be noted for the fact that it actually has a plot, something that the others didn’t seem be lucky enough to have, with the exception of the Mechagodzilla flicks. Now, does that mean this is a good film? Well, I really want to say yes, I really, really do, but I can’t. This is a film made for its target audience. Everyone else will scoff at it. As a film, it is average at best, which pains me to say, but it is still enjoyable. Check it out sometime! You may have to look under one of the many other titles it is known by, though, such as The Great Monster War, Invasion of Astro-Monster, Monster Zero, etc.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars


Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1985, in a suburb south of Boston, John Bennett is a lonely child who wishes for his new Christmas gift, a teddy bear he names Teddy (“Ted”), to come to life to be his best friend. The wish succeeds with a falling star one night and Ted becomes fully alive. The newly sentient toy briefly becomes a minor celebrity, but never loses sight of his friendship with John.

Twenty-seven years later in 2012, John (Mark Wahlberg) and Ted (voiced by Seth MacFarlane), now living in the South End neighborhood of Boston, are still staunch, if immature, friends enjoying a hedonistic life, even while John is pursuing a relationship with an office worker named Lori Collins (Mila Kunis). Lori hopes to marry John, but she feels that he cannot move ahead with his life with Ted around, who is now a complete wastrel. John is resistant to kicking Ted out, but he is finally persuaded one night to act when he and Lori discover Ted at home with four prostitutes.

Soon, John finds Ted his own apartment and a job at a grocery store, where his irresponsible behavior on the job somehow manages to get him both promoted and acquainted with his co-worker Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth). Ted and John still spend most of their time together, which irritates Lori when she discovers John has been skipping work to do so while using her for his excuses. Meanwhile, an obsessed stalker named Donny (Giovanni Ribisi), who idolized Ted as a kid, shows interest in possessing him for his destructive son Robert (Aedin Mincks). Things start to come to a head when Lori and John are invited to a party put on by Lori’s manager Rex (Joel McHale), who has a lust for her. They attend, but Ted lures John away to a party at his apartment with the offer to meet Sam Jones, the star of their favorite movie Flash Gordon. Although John arrives with the intention of spending only a few minutes, he gets caught up in the occasion which gets completely out of control, with Sam persuading John and Ted to snort cocaine with him. Eventually, Lori discovers John there and breaks up with him in tears. At that, John blames Ted for ruining his life and tells him to stay away.

Eventually, Ted and John confront each other about their ruined friendship in John’s hotel room and have a brawl after John provokes Ted, but soon manage to reconcile after the TV falls on John’s crotch. To repair John’s relationship with Lori, Ted arranges through Norah Jones (played by herself) for John to express his love for Lori with a song during a concert, being held at the Hatch Shell. Although John’s performance proves an embarrassment, Lori is touched by the attempt while repelled by Rex’s sneering. Later, Ted goes to visit Lori and explains that he was responsible for John’s lapse: however, he offers to leave them alone forever if she goes to speak with him. Lori is persuaded, but moments after she leaves, Ted is kidnapped by Donny and taken to his house as Robert’s unfortunate playmate.

Ted manages to distract Robert and reach a phone to contact John (but not before his ear is ripped off by Robert), but is soon recaptured. Realizing that Ted is in danger, John and Lori find Donny’s residence and chase him and Robert to rescue Ted. The chase leads to Fenway Park, where Robert tries to stop John and Lori from getting to Ted first, only to have John knock him out. During the chase, Ted gets himself damaged and just when Donny grabs him on the tower, Ted falls onto the field, torn completely in half. Donny is forced to flee when a police car shows up. As John and Lori gather his stuffing, Ted relays his wish that John be happy with Lori, as his life fades away.

Unable to accept Ted’s death, John and Lori return to her apartment to try to repair him, but it proves useless. That night, Lori makes a wish on a falling star. The next morning, Ted is magically restored and the couple reconcile with Ted, who encourages John and Lori to resume their relationship. With that resolution, John and Lori get married (with Sam Jones as their priest) and Ted accepts having his own life.


Seth McFarlane’s shows account for a good chunk of Fox’s highest rated programs. Some have said that he has done all he can on television and needs to branch out to film. Well, he hasn’t left television, but did make a film, Ted, that his theaters this summer, going on to become one of the biggest hits of the year.

What is this about?

John Bennett’s constant companion, Ted — a hard-partying, foul-mouthed teddy bear who came to life when John was a kid — threatens to derail his belated attempts to enter adulthood and marry his girlfriend.

What did I like?

Ted. As a military brat, I moved around a lot. One of the most consistent things in my life during that time was my teddy bear. I can’t tell you how often I would wish that he would become real. So, you can guess that I have a soft spot, and harbor some jealousy that Ted came to life and was such a good friend for this guy. On top of that, he became a celebrity, had a sense of humor, and somehow attracted the hot girls. What’s not to like about the guy, other than the fact he sounds like Peter Griffin (McFarlane should have come up with another voice)?

Swing. If you’ve watched Family Guy, and who hasn’t, then you know that Seth McFarlane has a thing for musicals and big band. The score to this film is very much influenced by tat crooner era jazz, just without the vocalist. Have no fear, though, the gorgeous Norah Jones makes an appearance singing “Come Away With Me”, I think (sort of forgot which song it was), so that evened thing up. Not to mention she sings the opening theme.

Grounded. One thing that really impressed me was how this film seemed to be grounded in reality. Other than Ted, everything else was just like a romantic comedy. Yes, it could have been a good film without Ted, but he really spices things up, and makes this a much more interesting film. Having said that, I wouldn’t have objected to seeing a rival teddy bear that just happened to have the same circumstances as Ted, just without the fame. Maybe that’s the sequel?

What didn’t I like?

Marky Mark. I don’t want anyone to get the idea that I have anything against Mark Wahlberg, because I don’t. I find him to be a very competent actor, but for some reason he seemed to be miscast. The whole pothead loser with no ambition role didn’t quite suit him. Maybe they should have switched him and Joel McHale, or brought it someone who is more believable as a loser. Also, I may be wrong, but didn’t he have some musical talent in the late 80s/early 90s? Where did it all go? Maybe he was just faking not being able to sing, but good grief was that painful!

Flash. The only thing I know about Flash Gordon is a couple of comics I read and the fact that there was a TV show and a few movies made at one time. So, you can imagine that the references did nothing for me, as I’m sure many of the audiences that saw this felt the same way, especially since they all but beat it past the point of death. I get that this a show McFarlane love, but there comes a point where enough is enough.

Get a life. Mila Kunis is one of the hottest women on the planet, which is ironic when you think about the fact that she voices Meg. As much as I love her, I was not really a fan of this character. Here we go with another female in a film that turns into a total bitch just because her boyfriend won’t give up something from his childhood and she listened to her “wise” (note the sarcasm) friends. Is it so wrong for a guy to just be a guy and girl just be a girl in films? As we see, she not only caused her and John much grief, but also nearly cost Ted his life! Yeah, you can argue the point that she made up for it at the end, but she wouldn’t have had to if she wouldn’t have pushed for things that obviously weren’t in the cards.

Ted has been a film that won critics and movie-goers over. The main criticism about it is that it resembles a live-action Family Guy, which I can see, but have no issue with. While crude at times, there is a real heart and soul in this film that is the reason it is worth checking out. These days it is so rare to get a great comedy, you should really check this one out. I guarantee you’ll keel over laughing!

5 out of 5 stars