Archive for August, 2013


Posted in Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2013 by Mystery Man


PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

While General George Washington is conducting the struggle against the British Empire on the battlefield, the Continental Congress in Philadelphia piddles away its time over trivial matters and cannot begin debating the question of American independence. The leader of the independence faction is the abrasive John Adams of Massachusetts, whose continuous pushing of the issue has brought their cause to a complete standstill. John Dickinson of Pennsylvania leads the opposition that hopes for reconciliation with England. During his quieter moments, Adams calls up the image of his wife Abigail Adams who resides in Massachusetts and gives him insight and encouragement. Dr. Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania suggests another colony that supports independence should submit a proposal.

Richard Henry Lee of Virginia is sent off to Williamsburg to get authorization from the Virginia Colony to propose independence. Dr. Lyman Hall arrives to represent Georgia, and immediately, he is interrogated by his fellow delegates regarding his views on independence (with Dickinson framing it as “treason”). Weeks later, Lee returns with the resolution, and debate on the question begins. The New Jersey delegation, led by Reverend John Witherspoon arrives just in time to provide a vote supporting independence. However, in the midst of debate, Caesar Rodney falters because of his cancer and is taken back to Delaware by fellow delegate Thomas McKean, leaving the anti-independence George Read to represent Delaware.

After heated discussions, the question is called without a majority of positive votes present. In a move intended to defeat the resolution, Dickinson calls for a vote requiring unanimity for passage, and the vote ends in a tie between the colonies which is ultimately decided in favor of unanimity by John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress, who argues that any objecting colony would fight for England against independence. Stalling for time to rally support for the resolution, Adams and Franklin call again for a postponement, justifying their call by stating the need for a declaration describing their grievances. Once again tied and ultimately decided by Hancock, the vote is successfully postponed until such a document can be written.

Hancock appoints a committee that includes Adams, Franklin, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Robert Livingston of New York, and Thomas Jefferson (after Lee declined due to an appointment to serve as governor of Virginia). Jefferson resists participation because he desires to return home to Virginia to see his wife, Martha, but is left with the task when all other members of the committee present more compelling reasons to avoid the responsibility. Adams sends for Martha so that Jefferson can remain in Philadelphia; the rest of the committee opine that Jefferson’s diplomatic nature and superior writing skill are required to draft the declaration. Both Adams and Franklin are quite taken with Martha. While maneuvering to get the required unanimity for the vote on independence, Adams, Franklin and Samuel Chase of Maryland visit the Colonial Army encamped in New Brunswick, New Jersey, at the request of General Washington to help convince Maryland.

When they return to Philadelphia, the declaration is read and then subsequently debated and amended. Jefferson agrees to most alterations to the document, much to Adams’ consternation. The debate reaches a head when the Southern delegates, led by Edward Rutledge of South Carolina, walk out of Congress when a clause opposing slavery is not removed. Adams remains adamant that the clause remain, but Franklin appeals to him to allow the passage to be removed so that they can first achieve the vote on independence and the formation of the nation and defer the fight on slavery to a later time. Adams defers the final decision on the passage to Jefferson, who agrees to its removal. After removing that clause, 11 colonies are in favor, but New York continues to abstain.

The question is up to the Colony of Pennsylvania, whose delegation is polled at Franklin’s request. Franklin votes for the declaration, but Dickinson votes against. The outcome is now in the hands of their fellow Pennsylvanian, Judge James Wilson. Wilson has always followed Dickinson’s lead, but in this case Wilson votes in favor of the declaration, securing its passage, so that he would not be remembered by history as the man who voted to prevent American independence. After receiving word of the destruction of his property from General Washington, Lewis Morris finally withdraws New York’s abstention and agrees to sign the document. Finally, with the Declaration of Independence ready to be signed, each colony (including New York) affixes their signature to the Declaration, establishing the United States on July 4, 1776.


The other day I was looking through some material at work that was related to musicals and 1776 came up, probably because of its educational leanings, even if it does veer off quite a bit from the actual historical events. I’m always up for a musical, and if some history can be learned in the process, I’ll give it a shot, as long as it doesn’t put me to sleep.

What is this about?

Peter Stone’s Pultizer Prize-winning musical (starring much of the original Broadway cast) about the internecine congressional squabbling that led to the signing of the Declaration of Independence makes a glorious transition to the big screen. A very funny — and poignant — history lesson.

What did I like?

Subject matter. There are books, movies, plays, and even a couple of video games about this era is history, but I do believe that this is the only musical on the subject. is it because this is a particular hard era to write music and lyrics for? No, I wouldn’t say that, I just think there is a tremendous amount of respect, especially in the US, for this period of time and no American really wants to be the one that skewers our history if the production is no good. At least, that’s my theory.

Serious-lee. With the exception of a few comedic moments thrown in here and there, some shoved in, this is a film that seems like it is a lot more serious than it really should be. Enter Richard Henry Lee, a man who finds a way to end every sentence with Lee or -ly, rather. He is quite the character aside from this little quirk and we get just enough of him to satisfy our need for some humor, without him being shoved down out throats, which was a good decision on the part of the playwright and/or screenwriter.

Fenney. I grew up hearing William Daniels’ voice every week as KITT on Knight Rider, then I would see him every week on Boy Meets World (I still ponder how he conveniently managed to follow them up from 6th grade to college graduation). Some of the same mannerisms that he displayed as Mr. Feeney, I noticed he did as John Adams, most notably the talkative nature, but given that Adams is supposed to be convincing the Congress that the Colonies need to break from England, I think that’s understandable.

What didn’t I like?

South. As we are nearing the last act of the film, there is a vote to rebel against England and accept the Declaration of Independence. Because of some writing that was put in there involving slavery, Edward Rutledge, the delegate from South Carolina makes an impassioned speech leading to a fire and brimstone song about how they need slaves for their way of living and it is their right to own people. It really is a disgusting display of human behavior, but perhaps one of the best performances of the film. It is just a shame that it nearly stopped the picture in its tracks, or come close to it.

Red Herring. Of all the fathers of our country, the one that we never see is George Washington. He is mentioned quite a few times as a downer with the letters he sends, but for the most part he is used just as a red herring, as we never see him actually make an appearance. Given the period of history this is from, I can excuse not seeing Washington, but it still would have been nice, at least at the beginning. Hell, this is a movie, not a stage production, they could have cut to him at any time and had him read his own letters. They did something similar with John Adams and his wife, and it was quite effective.

Music. Long have I said that the biggest flaw a musical can have is to not have music that the audience will be singing long after the final credits have rolled. Well, its been about 30 minutes and I can’t remember a single song from this film. I remember that there were some in there and that the best were sung by the aforementioned Sen. Rutledge and a nice little jaunt by Blythe Danner and Martha Jefferson, but everything else is forgettable. It is no wonder no one knows anything about this film. The music is unmemorable!

What can I say about 1776? Well, for starters, it is in the same vein as Amadeus in terms of historical accuracy, but nowhere near as good. Come to think of it, I believe this film would have worked better as a straight up drama, rather than a musical. They did seem to forget the musical part for about an hour, anyway. Do I recommend this? As I was telling my friend a little while ago, I felt that this isn’t a bad film, but it isn’t anything to write home about, either. I guess if you’re into forgotten musicals, give this a shot, or just need something patriotic to watch. Otherwise, it is best to bypass this one.

3 1/3 out of 5 stars

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

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

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In Portugal, James Bond – agent 007, sometimes referred to simply as ‘007’ – saves a woman on the beach from committing suicide by drowning, and later meets her again in a casino. The woman, Contessa Teresa “Tracy” di Vicenzo, invites Bond to her hotel room to thank him. The next morning, Bond is kidnapped by several men while leaving the hotel, who take him to meet Marc-Ange Draco, the head of the European crime syndicate Unione Corse. Draco reveals that Tracy is his only daughter and tells Bond of her troubled past, offering Bond a personal dowry of one million pounds if he will marry her. Bond refuses, but agrees to continue romancing Tracy under the agreement that Draco reveals the whereabouts of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the head of SPECTRE.

Bond returns to London, and after a brief argument with M at MI6 headquarters, heads for Draco’s birthday party in Portugal. There, Bond and Tracy begin a whirlwind romance, and Draco directs the agent to a law firm in Bern, Switzerland. In Bern, Bond investigates the office of Swiss lawyer Gumbold, and learns that Blofeld is corresponding with London College of Arms’ genealogist Sir Hilary Bray, attempting to claim the title ‘Comte Balthazar de Bleuchamp’.

Posing as Bray, Bond goes to meet Blofeld, who has established a clinical allergy-research institute atop Piz Gloria in the Swiss Alps. There Bond meets ten young women, the “Angels of Death”, who are patients at the institute’s clinic, apparently cured of their allergies. At night Bond goes to the room of one patient, Ruby, for a romantic encounter. At midnight Bond sees that Ruby, apparently along with each of the other ladies, goes into a sleep-induced trance while Blofeld gives them audio instructions for when they are discharged and return home. In fact, the women are being brainwashed to distribute bacteriological warfare agents throughout various parts of the world.

Bond tries to trick Blofeld into leaving Switzerland, so the British Secret Service can arrest him without violating Swiss sovereignty; Blofeld refuses, and Bond is eventually caught by henchwoman Irma Bunt. Blofeld reveals that he identified Bond after his attempt to lure him out of Switzerland, and tells his henchmen to take the agent away. Bond eventually makes his escape by skiing down Piz Gloria while Blofeld and many of his men give chase. Arriving at the village of Lauterbrunnen, Bond finds Tracy and they escape Bunt and her men after a car chase. A blizzard forces them to a remote barn, where Bond professes his love to Tracy and proposes marriage to her, which she accepts. The next morning, Blofeld attempts to kill Bond by causing an avalanche and captures Tracy.

Back in London at M’s office, Bond is informed that Blofeld intends to hold the world at ransom by threatening to destroy its agriculture using his brainwashed women, demanding amnesty for all past crimes, and that he be recognised as the current Count de Bleuchamp. M tells 007 that the ransom will be paid and forbids him to mount a rescue mission. Bond then enlists Draco and his forces to attack Blofeld’s headquarters, while also rescuing Tracy from Blofeld’s captivity. The facility is destroyed, and Blofeld escapes the destruction alone in a bobsled, with Bond pursuing him. The chase ends when Blofeld becomes snared in a tree branch and injures his neck.

Bond and Tracy marry in Portugal, then drive away in Bond’s Aston Martin. When Bond pulls over to the roadside to remove flowers from the car, Blofeld (wearing a neck brace) and Bunt commit a drive-by shooting of the couple’s car that kills Tracy. A police officer pulls over to inspect the bullet-riddled car, prompting a tear-filled Bond to mutter that there is no need to hurry to call for help by saying, “We have all the time in the world”, as he cradles Tracy’s lifeless body


Netflix and I are about to have some words. About a month or two ago, they put many of the Bond films back on instant streaming. I’ve been a bit busy the last few weeks and haven’t had time to get to them. Well, guess what is about to go away come Monday. Yes, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and the rest of the Bond flicks they had available. Oh well, eventually, I’ll get them in the mail. In the meantime, let’s get to my thoughts on this film.

What is this about?

George Lazenby takes over the role of 007 as James Bond tracks archnemesis Ernst Blofeld to a Swiss mountaintop retreat, where he’s brainwashing a bevy of beautiful women to do his bidding. Along the way, Bond falls for an Italian contessa.

What did I like?

Tone. Coming soon with these Bond films are the cheesy ones, so it was a nice change of pace to get this more serious take on Bond that what we were getting from the Connery version, and what will come from future versions. I’m not sure which will be more my speed, but I appreciate mixing things up.

He’s back. Blofeld returns, this time played by Telly Savalas of Kojak fame. Savalas just seems to have that look that screams villain, especially one in the vein of Blofeld. Why did he replace the previous actor? I’m not sure, but I think it had something to do with this being a more physical role. I didn’t see it, but perhaps those scenes got cut or it was an exaggeration.

Doce. The thought of having a brainwashed army of 12 beautiful women appeals to me immensely. I believe that they could have been put to better use either as part f the master plan or as a way to get to Bond. His libido is perhaps his greatest weakness, after all. That being said, Blofeld knew what he was doing when he came up with this nefarious plot.

What didn’t I like?

Downgrade. Maybe it is because of the familiarity with Sean Connery as Bond, but George Lazenby did not work as Bond for me. He doesn’t possess the charm and charisma required to portray this complex character. When the film started, it seemed like he would have done a decent job, but that just crashed and burned. The fact that they didn’t let him do his own impression of another character should have been a sign. There was a good thing, though. At the beginning of the picture, after the fight, he makes the comment to the camera, “this never happened to the other guy”. A nice bit of a self-effacing humor, just not enough to redeem his take on 007.

Green screen. I love the cheesy effects in most films from this era, however, during the skiing scene it is so obviously green screened that it was sickening to watch. I’m not sure if the technology was around back then to film a scene like tis actually happening on the slopes, but it would have been so much better, than this. Cheesy effects have a place, and this wasn’t one of them.

Girls. No offense to Diana Rigg or the 12 deadly angels, but there wasn’t that one Bond girl in this film whose beauty and/or body stops traffic. Perhaps that has something to do with the winter setting as opposed to the tropical locations that were prevalent in the previous films. Personally, I was missing them this time around, but every now and then you need a change of pace.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a rather weak entry into the Bond franchise, if you ask me, but I’m not sure if it is the film, or the new Bond that is the cause of its mediocrity. Perhaps I was just so frustrated with Netflix that I couldn’t get into the film. That being said, this isn’t a horrible film by any stretch of the imagination. It just doesn’t stack up to its predecessors. I recommend this to anyone trying to get into Bond, but not as the one to start with. Give it a shot!

3 1/3 out of 5 stars

Detention of the Dead

Posted in Comedy, Horror, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on August 28, 2013 by Mystery Man

Detention of the Dead


Comedy and Horror unite in this “The Breakfast Club” meets “Shaun of the Dead” tale about a group of oddball high school students who find themselves trapped in detention with their classmates having turned into a horde of Zombies. Can they put their differences aside and work together to survive the night? Fat chance! This is High School after all.


What is it abut zombies and high schools? It almost seems as if there is some kind of zombie magnet there. Just wait, even the zombies on The Walking Dead will be seeking out a ihgh school soon enough. Well, you can thank one of the random podcasts I listen to for bringing Detention of the Dead to my attention. I’m quite so sure I’m going to be thanking them, though.

What is this about?

A group of teenagers trapped in detention fight for survival after their classmates turn into a ravenous zombie horde. Can a stoner, a jock, a bully, a goth and a nerd put aside their differences for one night to take on the undead?

What did I like?

Nod. There are subtle nods to other zombie films, directors, etc. all throughout this film. Well, I shouldn’t say just zombie, but rather horror in general. For instance, one of the main characters is named Willow (a character from Buffy the Vampire Slayer), another is named Ash (Bruce Campbell’s character from Evil Dead, if I’m not mistaken, and then we have Brad and Janet (Rocky Horror Picture Showyour guess is as good as mine as to what that has to do with zombies or horror.

Death…by clarinet. The gore in this film is about as bloody as can be expected from a zombie flick, albeit a bit more fake looking. Without all the blood, though, I just don’t think this would have worked at all. One scene in particular made the entire film worthwhile for me. Near the end, the main character Eddie, goes back into the school and runs into this zombie with a clarinet. He defeats her by taking the clarinet and jamming it in her head. After a couple of seconds, the horn gushes. Did I mention that they play a small clarinet riff during the gushing scene?!?

Goth. Alexa Nikolas, who plays the goth chick, hopefully goes on to bigger and much better things because she was the best thing about this cast. It seemed like she was the only one who knew how to actually act and also didn’t look, well…let’s just say “wise beyond her years”. Did I mention she’s a quite the cutie. She could pass for Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s little sister.

What didn’t I like?

Origin. Zombie outbreaks don’t just happen. Something causes them, be it the end f the world, radiation, the Book of Pure Evil, etc. It is never revealed to us what started this zombie outbreak, other than one of the kids in detention got bit by one. Would it really have been so hard to take a couple of extra minutes to explain where this all started?

Effects. For some reason the pothead decides t keep the decapitated head of the English teacher and play with it. That isn’t the worst looking thing in the picture, though. For that, you have to see the zombie rat. Yes, I said zombie rat! If you’ve ever seen Spaceballs, and can remember the alien that pops out of the guy’s stomach at the end, that is what these rats resemble. Why are they zombies? I don’t rightly know, but they are, much to our dismay.

Comedy. For some reason, the horror comedy genre just doesn’t seem to gel with people. I guess folks want their horror pure and undiluted with bad comedy. Of course, it might help if there actually was comedy involved and not just bad puns and lame jokes akin to what we seem to get with this picture. Off the top of my head, I cannot think of a successful, funny, horror-comedy film. Maybe Beetlejuice, but that was more of a comedy than horror comedy.

Hughes. I’m guessing whoever it was that wrote this has to sit down and watch a lot of John Hughes films because the whole film has this The Breakfast Club vibe to it and there is a scene later n that is reminiscent of 16 Candles. I’m sure there are other references, but those were the ones that stuck out to me.

Age. Will there ever come a day when we actually see actors the right age playing high school roles? This cast all look like they are at least in college. When they first show Eddie, I thought he was some kind of faculty member, rather than a student. Oh, and the jocks…well, they always look ld. I didn’t buy that one guy on Glee before I stopped watching and he’s just as unbelievable here, not to mention he look like he’s at least 30!

Detention of the Dead is one of those films that was made just for the sake of cashing in on the zombie craze. It is obviously cheap and makes no apologies for it. However, just because you’re cheap does not mean you have to be subpar “entertainment”, which is what this is ultimately. I would have loved to write a glowing review of this film, but it doesn’t deserve it. As a matter of fact, there isn’t much t recommend here, so perhaps it is best if you just avoid it like the plague.

1 3/4 out of 5 stars

Queen of Outer Space

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Capt. Patterson (Eric Fleming) and his space crew (Dave Willock, Patrick Waltz, and Paul Birch) crash land on Venus and are captured. They learn the planet is under the dictatorship of cruel Queen Yllana (Laurie Mitchell), a masked woman who has banished men from the planet. In the palace, the astronauts are aided by a beautiful courtier named Talleah (Zsa Zsa Gabor) and her friends (Lisa Davis, Barbara Darrow, and Marilyn Buferd). The women long for the love of men again and plot to overthrow the evil Queen. When Patterson has the opportunity to remove the Queen’s mask, he discovers she has been horribly disfigured by radiation burns caused by men and their wars. In a fury, the Queen decides to destroy Earth and its warlike peoples but she dies in the attempt. The Venusians are free again to enjoy the love of men.


Some of you may recall that last year I was doing a project that required me to watch classic sci-fi films. Queen of Outer Space is one of those that I never got around to watching. I can’t really say that was an oversight after sitting through this, though.

What is this about?

A space mission to Venus encounters a population of sexy women led by the evil Queen Yllana (Laurie Mitchell). All of Venus’s men have been wiped out, and now that’s she met Earth men, Yllana wants all them dead, too. Only Venusian scientist Talleah (Zsa Zsa Gabor) helps the crew attempt to defeat the wicked queen and restore men to her planet.

What did I like?

Flat. Just about everyone these days has a flat screen TV. It may seem like we’ve had them forever, but they haven’t been around that long, if you recall. Well, apparently, on Venus in 1958, they had them already. The evil queen has one in her room that she uses to look in on things happening on the planet and elsewhere. I just found it interesting that this little piece of technology, like many of our gadgets today, actually debuted in sci-fi media decades before it was actually invented.

Women. A planet with nothing but beautiful women in miniskirts? I would be in heaven! Granted, as many sci-fi/fantasy films have shown us, female societies aren’t exactly male friendly. Just think back to Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women, also set on Venus, for an example.

Cast. Let’s not kid ourselves. When Zsa Zsa Gabor is the strongest part of your cast, there are some issues. Having said that, I think it should be noted that the actors do wonders with what they have to work with. No, it isn’t anything spectacular, but at least it is somewhat bearable to watch them, so kudos are in order.

What didn’t I like?

Burn, baby, burn. The evil queen was apparently burned by some radiation, which she blamed on Earth men. This causes her and her flunkies to wear masks. When one of the astronauts manages to get it off of her, it is revealed that she is “horribly disfigured”. In all truthfulness, it look like she is just wearing another mask. Given the state of special effects and make-up at the time, I should give this a pass, but I don’t think they even tried to make it look more authentic.

The times they are a-changin’. I’ve become a pretty big fan of Mad Men. Back in those days, everybody wasn’t walking on eggshells. That being said, there certain things that I don’t agree with, such as taking women for granted. The astronauts in this film, order these women around and make disparaging remarks like it is no one’s business. It was a different era, of course, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it…unless one of them is Don Draper, then they can get away with it. Ha!

Ending. I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say that is very convenient, especially considering the circumstances. I’m not advocating this should have been a depressing ending, just maybe better thought out. As it plays out, it seems as if they thought it up on the fly. I don’t know, it worked for me on some levels and on others not so much.

Queen of Outer Space is not a good film. It is one of those pictures that appears to be bad on purpose. The camp factor is so high that even I had trouble stomaching this picture. So, would I recommend it? If you’re a fan of campy shows such as the 60s Batman series, then this should be an easy pill to swallow. Personally, I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it again, but I wouldn’t mind watching it in some kind of classic sci-fi party or if they used it in Mystery Science Theater episode.

3 1/3 out of 5 stars


A Night at the Roxbury

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Wealthy Yemeni-American brothers Steve (Will Ferrell) and Doug Butabi (Chris Kattan) enjoy frequenting nightclubs, where they bob their heads in unison to dance music (specifically Haddaway’s hit song “What Is Love”) and fail miserably at picking up women. Their dream is to party at the famous L.A. nightclub The Roxbury, a fabled nightclub where they are continually denied entrance by a hulking bouncer (Michael Clarke Duncan). By day, the brothers work at an artificial plant store owned by their wealthy father, Kamehl Butabi (Dan Hedaya). They spend most of their time goofing off, daydreaming about opening a club as cool as the Roxbury together, and Doug using credit card transactions as an excuse to hit on a phone approval operator. The store shares a wall with a lighting emporium owned by Fred Sanderson (Dwayne Hickman). Mr. Butabi and Mr. Sanderson hope that Steve and Emily (Molly Shannon), Sanderson’s daughter, will marry, uniting the families and the businesses to form the first plant-lamp emporium.

After a day at the beach the brothers decide that tonight is the night they will finally get into the Roxbury. Returning home, Doug gets into a heated argument with their father about going out clubbing instead of staying home. Their father has planned a dinner party with Emily and her parents. The angered Mr. Butabi then denies them access to their BMW car and their cell phones. They are given enormous cell phones by their mother (Loni Anderson) and allowed use of the fake-plant store’s delivery van, they are quickly rejected by the doorman (Michael Clarke Duncan). After discovering they might bribe their way into the club, the brothers drive around looking for an ATM. They get into a fender-bender with Richard Grieco (playing himself) and to avoid a lawsuit, Grieco uses his fame to get them into the popular club. There they meet the owner of the Roxbury, Benny Zadir (Chazz Palminteri), who listens to their idea for a nightclub of their own. He likes them and sets up a meeting with them for the next day. The brothers also meet a pair of women at the Roxbury: Vivica (Gigi Rice) and Cambi (Elisa Donovan), who see them talking to Zadir and think that the brothers are rich.

On the way to the afterparty at Mr. Zadir’s house, the brothers annoy his driver and bodyguard Dooey (Colin Quinn) by making him stop to buy fluffy whip and making jokes about sleeping with his parents. As revenge, the next day Dooey denies them entry into Zadir’s office for their meeting. He tells the brothers that Zadir was drunk out of his mind last night and does not know who they are. In reality, Zadir really wants to see them, but does not have their contact information. The girls break up with the Butabi brothers after realizing they are not really wealthy. The brothers fight and Doug moves out of their shared bedroom and into the guest house. Meanwhile Steve is forced into an engagement with Emily. The wedding is held in the backyard of the Butabi residence, but is interrupted by Doug. Having gone on a fluffy-whip-fueled bender, he interrupts the wedding, reconciles with his brother, and the wedding is called off. Afterwards, Richard Grieco (a guest at the wedding) talks to Mr. Butabi to help him understand that Steve was not ready for marriage, and that Butabi is too hard on Doug.

The movie ends as the Butabi brothers happen upon a hot new club. The building is unique in that the exterior is constructed to resemble the interior of a nightclub, and the interior resembles a street — this was an idea pitched by Doug and Steve to Zadir earlier in the movie. Attempting to enter, they are surprised to find their names on the VIP list. In addition, Zadir reveals that to reward their idea, he has made them part-owners of the club. Their new-found success comes full circle when they meet two women in the club: Doug’s phone representative from the credit card company (Meredith Scott Lynn) and a police officer (Jennifer Coolidge) whom Steve earlier flirted with while getting a ticket.


In the late 90s, after the “frat pack” days of Saturday Night Live consisting of Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, David Spade, Chris Farley, etc., we came across a nice little era that brought us a nice little sketch about a couple of brothers that were always in the club bobbing their heads to Haddaway’s “What is Love”. Who knew that this little sketch would turn into a pretty big film, A Night at the Roxbury.

What is this about?

Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell extend their “Saturday Night Live” skit about dimwit club-goers Doug and Steve Butabi, who gain entry to the swanky Roxbury nightclub after a run-in with Richard Grieco.

What did I like?

They live. If I recall, these guys didn’t speak in their sketch, but instead just made some noises when they were sandwich dry-humping some chick. It makes you wonder how they could even warrant having a full-length film. Well, someone had the idea that these are real guys with real lives and real problems. Wile it may not have been the best, it was better than what we already knew. Unlike The Coneheads and Wayne’s World, where we knew at least a little about the characters, more so with the Coneheads, these guys were just random barfly creeps., if you will.

Cast and cameos. Chris Kattan and Will Ferrell bring their characters to the big screen and give “life”, but it is the cameos from the likes of Richard Greico, Michael Clarke Duncan, Chazz Palminteri, and Loni Anderson that stood out to me. Not to mention a cast that brought in SNL darling Molly Shannon, fellow cast member Colin Quinn, character actors Dan Heyda, Lochlyn Munro, and a very young Jennifer Coolidge. They really keep this film rolling along, if you ask me. I kind of wish they would have found a way to bring in some of the guys that were with them in the sketches, though, specifically Jim Carrey or Sylvester Stallone.

Song. Ah, the late 90s…when total crap music could still make you get up and hit the dance floor….maybe with a little help from some drinks and a pretty girl *AHEM* Sorry, that’s a story for another time. I do recall hearing Haddaway’s “What is Love” over and over and over again. I think that just about the time it had died out, I seem to remember it being replaced by the “Macarena”, this sketch started and it was brought back to prominence. Now, 15 yrs later, I had nearly forgotten that it existed, but appreciate the cheesiness that it had, as well as the memories associated with it, both personally and involving the Roxbury Guys.

What didn’t I like?

Flimsy. The so-called “plot” is so flimsy, that I’m surprised the whole picture didn’t fly away when some walked by. My goodness gracious, I don’t believe these people thought to do anything with these characters other than bring them to the big screen. Also, it is quite predictable with the whole brothers splitting up only to be reunited at the wedding and meet up with the club owner at the club they told him about, and they just happen to find their dream girls there. It was way too easy to see that coming, at least for me.

Jump. Earlier I mentioned how I appreciated the cameos in this flick, and I really did. However, I have to wonder what rock they dug Richard Greico out from under to stick him in this. Granted he is playing himself and serves only to get the brothers in the Roxbury and set things right at the end. Considering how they idolized the guy, it seems he would have worked better as a guardian angel who just happened to take the form of Richard Greico.

Stretch. Of all the SNL films, this isn’t the worst, but it makes you come to the realization as to one of the reasons we don’t see anymore sketches brought to the big screen. Stretching these characters out to this point in order to force a film into production serves no real purpose. Making matters worse, The Blues Brothers are similar characters in terms of how much we know about them from the sketch, but the film version is regarded as on of the best SNL films. It just goes to show how far things have fallen, and don’t forget how horrible MacGruber  the latest from the studio, which was horrible, as well.

What can I say about A Night at the Roxbury? This is one of those films that appeals to some and appalls others. For me, it has moments, but is nothing special. I would watch it again and again, but that is more for nostalgia reasons. Do I recommend it? Yes, but only half-heartedly. Not everyone will like this. If you are a fan of the late 90s SNL sketches, then you’re more than likely love this. Otherwise, take your best guess as to whether or not you should check it out.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Bullet to the Head

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

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In New Orleans, hitman Jimmy Bobo (Sylvester Stallone) and his partner Louis Blanchard (Jon Seda) kill a corrupt policeman, Hank Greely (Holt McCallany), although Bobo leaves a prostitute, Lola, alive. Later, at a bar, Blanchard is murdered by Keegan (Jason Momoa), who also attempts to kill Bobo, but fails.

Washington D.C. Detective Taylor Kwon (Sung Kang) arrives in New Orleans to investigate Greely’s death and meets Lieutenant Lebreton, who informs him Lola confirmed Greely was assassinated. Kwon goes to the morgue, and, after seeing Blanchard’s body and finding out who he is, he deduces that Blanchard and Bobo killed Greely. Meanwhile, Keegan meets with his employer, Robert Morel (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and Morel’s lawyer Marcus Baptiste (Christian Slater). Baptiste reveals that Greely tried to blackmail Morel, and provided local mobster Baby Jack (Douglas M. Griffin) with a file detailing Morel’s illegal operations. Keegan later kills Baby Jack and his men and retrieves the file.

Kwon meets Bobo in a bar and informs him that he knows Bobo and Blanchard killed Greely. Bobo leaves, and when Kwon tries to follow him, he is attacked by corrupt cops who were ordered by Morel to prevent Kwon from further investigating about Greely. Bobo rescues Kwon and takes him to a tattoo parlor, where Bobo’s daughter, Lisa (Sarah Shahi), treats Kwon’s wounds. They later go to a massage parlor where Bobo interrogates Ronnie Earl (Brian Van Holt), the middleman who hired Bobo and Blanchard on Morel’s behalf. Ronnie Earl tries to kill Bobo, but Bobo manages to kill him, although his gun jams. Bobo later confronts Kwon, who admits to having tampered with Bobo’s gun, nearly causing his death. Bobo and Kwon agree to work together.

Bobo and Kwon kidnap Baptiste and take him to Bobo’s house, where he is forced to give them a flash drive detailing Morel’s plans to acquire housing projects and demolish them to build office buildings and reveals Keegan is an ex-mercenary hired to be Morel’s enforcer. Afterwards, Bobo shoots him in the head. Keegan and his men trace Baptiste’s cellphone to Bobo’s house, but Bobo and Kwon are able to escape and detonate a bomb, killing Keegan’s men. Keegan then becomes obsessed with killing Bobo.

Kwon meets with Lieutenant Lebreton to ask for his help, but Lebreton tries to kill him, as he is also on Morel’s payroll, but Bobo kills him and saves Kwon. Meanwhile, Keegan learns about Lisa and kidnaps her. Morel then calls Bobo and offers to trade Lisa for the flash drive. Bobo agrees, and meets with Morel in an abandoned warehouse, where he delivers the flash drive to him and rescues Lisa, while Kwon infiltrates the building to arrest Morel. Keegan becomes furious when Bobo is allowed to leave and kills Morel and his men before going after Bobo.

Keegan confronts Bobo and they have an axe fight, which ends with Bobo slashing Keegan’s throat with Blanchard’s knife, followed by Kwon shooting Keegan in the head. Kwon retrieves the flash drive and Bobo shoots him in the shoulder to make it appear as if Kwon failed to capture him. Lisa decides to stay with Kwon, with whom she initiates a romantic relationship, and Bobo leaves. He later meets Kwon at a bar, where Kwon tells him he did not mention Bobo’s existence to the police this time, but if Bobo continues in the business, Kwon will take him down. Bobo welcomes him to try and drives off into the night.


The two biggest action stars of the 80s are now trying to capture a new generation of audiences with new action flicks. Arnold Schwarzenegger had The Last Stand and now Stallone brings us Bullet to the Head. I’ll try not to compare the two, because it is like apples and oranges, but one has to wonder which is the better film.

What is this about?

Justice and revenge go hand in hand in this thriller, which follows a young New York cop and an experienced hit man as they team up to track down and take out an enemy they have in common — the person responsible for slaying their partners.

What did I like?

Throwback. This films takes us back to the gritty buddy cops genre that was prevalent in the 70s as well as just straight up actin films from the 80s. For me, as someone who grew up watching the action from the 80s, I was eating this stuff up. As far as the cop stuff, I wasn’t hating it, as it was nice temporary respite between action scenes. I realize there are folks out there who would have preferred more character development and such, but seriously, if you’re coming into a film like this look for some deep meaning, then you really need to have your head examined!

Sleek sly. It is kind of funny that this is set in New Orleans because obviously, Stallone has been doing some kind of voodoo to have a body like that as his age (no comment about is face). Perhaps that is what happens when you’re not governor of California. I should also mention that his character has a very, very, VERY hot semi-estranged daughter. I wonder if she’ll be doing the taking up the family voodoo practice.

Conan. There are some actors that are just meant to do one thing and one thing alone. Jason Momoa is one of those guys. Aside from being a remake, one of the things that I couldn’t really get into in Conan the Barbarian (2011) was his acting. This director was smart enough to give him very few lines. All the guy has to do is stand there and look intimidating and spout off a few cliché’ lines until it is time for him to actually do something. I’d say that was good use of the guy, wouldn’t you?

What didn’t I like?

Narration. I think we have all been spoiled by the golden voiced narrations of Morgan Freeman, Patrick Stewart, James Earl Jones, and more recently Bill Nighy, Jeff Bridges and John Corbett. The thing about all these guys is that they have clear enunciation. In a bad narrating decision that rivals having Blake Lively do the narrating in Savages, someone had the brilliant idea for Sylvester Stallone to narrate this. Correct me if I’m wrong, but should narration fill you in on what is going on with clear and precise thoughts, not mumblings?

Evil plot? Mayhaps I missed something or got confused, but what exactly is the evil plot here? Best I can tell is that is has something to do with real estate, but I’m not sure. I’m also not real clear on why this led to the murders and double-crossing and how Christian Slater’s character factors into everything. Could they not have thrown the audience a bone with all this?

Punk. As is often the case when we see differing generations team up, the more youthful has no respect for is elder, has a smart mouth, and seems like they’ll die if they don’t have their electronic device. This detective that was brought in fits that bill to a ‘T’. Did I mention they cast him instead of Thomas Jane to make the cast more “ethnic”? So, he’s brought in to fill a quota, if you will, and is just an unlikable guy.

If I don’t say anything else about Bullet to the Head, I really should mention that 99.9% of the people who are shot in this film, and there are quite a few, all get bullets through their skulls. So, at least this film isn’t guilty of false advertising, but is it worth watching? Well, there’s blood, violence, gratuitous nudity early on, and an axe fight between Stallone and Momoa…hmm…sure! This is one of those films that is fast paced and fun from start to finish and I say you should most definitely check it out!

4 out of 5 stars


Splitting Heirs

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on August 24, 2013 by Mystery Man


The movie centres on the aristocratic family of the Dukes of Bournemouth (England), upon which misfortune has befallen throughout history, leading it to believe itself cursed. The most recent heir, Thomas Henry Butterfly Rainbow Peace, was left in a restaurant as an infant in the 1960s, by the time his parents remembered him, he had disappeared. Meanwhile, in the 1990s, Tommy Patel (Eric Idle) has grown up in an Asian/Indian family in Southall, never doubting his ethnicity despite being taller than anyone else in the house, fair-haired, blue-eyed, light-skinned – and not liking curry. From the family corner-shop he commutes to the City, where he works for the Bournemouth family’s stockbroking firm, handling multimillion-pound deals.

He is given the job of acting as host to the visiting American representative of the firm, Henry Bullock (Rick Moranis), who turns out to be the son of the head of the firm, the present Duke; they become friends, and the friendship survives Henry’s becoming the new Duke when his father dies. Circumstantial evidence shows that the true Bournemouth heir is actually Tommy, we see a series of family portraits each of which captures something of Tommy’s facial characteristics, and his Indian mother tells him the story of his adoption. He consults the lawyer who dealt with his adoption, Raoul P. Shadgrind (John Cleese), who says Tommy has no hope of proving his claim, but plants the idea of him obtaining his rightful place in the family by getting Henry out of the way; Shadgrind himself then engineers a variety of ‘accidents’ in the belief that he will share in the spoils as Tommy’s partner. The delightfully complicated love interest comes with Tommy’s and Henry’s (shared at the same time) lover, later the new Duchess (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and their (shared at different times) mother, the dowager Duchess (Barbara Hershey). As befits a classic comedy of errors, the final resolution of everyone’s doubts and misconceptions leaves everyone living “happily ever after – well, for a bit, at least…”


As a lover of the Monty Python comedy troupe, I’m always looking for other works they’ve done, if for no other reason than to see how they have grown as entertainers since those days. With Splitting Heirs, there is a chance to see Eric Idle (and a little bit of John Cleese) do a little comedic film on their own.

What is this about?

Eric Idle and John Cleese team up in this farce about a lowly bank employee who tries to claim the noble title that is his birthright. Seems there was a switcheroo when Tommy was born, and Tommy was inadvertently substituted with an American baby by his drug-addled mom, the Duchess of Bournemouth. What’s worse, the would-be duke just happens to be Tommy’s best friend, and the Duchess (who’s clueless about Tommy’s real identity) is hot for him!

What did I like?

Brothers. I have to give props to the casting director. Eric Idle and Rick Moranis could pass for long-lost brothers that grew up in different environments. Sure, no one would mistake them for real-life brothers, but remember that this is just a film. The chemistry between the two of them is also something to behold. Sometimes we forget how much of a funnyman Rick Moranis is, I think, since he usually plays lovable losers and sometimes the straight man.

Funny ha ha. As you can imagine when you have a cast of comedians, there are quite a few funny moments. The first half of this film, as well as the scenes with John Cleese are sure to have you rolling on the floor laughing and asking for more. That is not to deny the women in this film, either. Barbara Hershey’s overly slutty character will have you chuckling and/or feeling uncomfortable as you watch her seduce her son.

What didn’t I like?

Forgettable. I hate to say this, but there just is nothing memorable about this film. By the time the credits finish rolling, then you’ll be wondering what happened 10 minutes ago in what you just watched, which is really a shame, but blame the fact that so many similar (and better executed) films have been released that make this seem just plain and humdrum.

Curse. In the opening, we get some info on the Bournemouth curse but, for the rest of the film, it is all but forgotten, save for a couple of mentions in passing. Now, personally, I feel that they could have done more with the curse, both in terms of plot and comedy. Why they didn’t explore it a bit more, is beyond me, other than maybe they didn’t want to turn this into some sort of horror/thriller, perhaps.

Splitting Heirs is a film I selected because I just wanted something funny. Certain people in this house prefer the heavy dramas, so it is nice to get an escape into hilarity. This could have been funnier, yes, but it accomplished what I got it for. Now, having said that, I won’t go so far as to say it is a good film, but there are so many things that it could have done worse and made itself into a bad film. So, do I recommend this? Not really, I found this to be average at best, but it does have some moments. Unfortunately, there are also plot pints that were merely touched on and never expanded upon and that is what hurts this more than anything. So, check this out if you want, but don’t expect greatness.

3 out of 5 stars

The Host

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , on August 24, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the future, the human race has been assimilated by extraterrestrial psychic parasites called “Souls”. Melanie Stryder, a human, is captured by a Seeker (Diane Kruger) and infused with a soul called “Wanderer”, in order to discover the location of one of the last pockets of non-assimilated humans. However, Melanie survives the procedure and begins to struggle for control of her body.

Wanderer discovers that Melanie was captured while scavenging for food with her brother Jamie and her boyfriend Jared Howe, and that they were looking for Melanie’s uncle Jeb, who lives in a cabin in the desert. Wanderer loses control of Melanie and the Seeker decides to be inserted into Melanie to get the information herself. With the help of Melanie, Wanderer escapes and makes her way to the desert, eventually found by a group of humans, including Jeb. She is taken to a series of underground caves, discovering that Jared and Jamie are living there too.

Wanderer is kept isolated from the others, who are hostile towards her because she is seen as another alien, and a potential threat. Eventually, she begins interacting with the humans, who start to slowly trust her, and develops feelings for one of them, Ian O’Shea, all the while beginning to believe the Souls shouldn’t steal other people’s free will. Although Melanie had instructed Wanderer not to tell anyone she is still alive, the survivors learn the truth from Jamie (the only person she was allowed to tell). Meanwhile, The Seeker learns that the community is located somewhere in the desert and follows Wanderer there, but fails to locate them. After nearly being captured by the Seeker, Ian’s brother Kyle attempts to kill Wanderer, but is stopped by Ian and another human, Wes, after which Jared also learns that Melanie is still alive.

Wanderer is horrified to learn that Doc, the community’s medic, has been experimenting on people infused with Souls, removing the Souls from their bodies and killing them, and isolates herself from the group, but agrees to help Jared infiltrate a Soul medical facility to steal technology to cure the ill Jamie. In the process, they are attacked by the Seeker, who is then shot and captured by Jeb. The Seeker is taken to the caves, where she is removed from her host and contained in a pod stolen by Wanderer, who then sends the Seeker to a distant planet.

Wanderer teaches Doc how to remove the Souls from people’s bodies without harming them, and asks to be removed from Melanie’s so Melanie can have her life back. Melanie protests, having bonded with Wanderer, but Doc goes through with the procedure. However, rather than letting Wanderer die, Doc inserts her into Pet (Emily Browning), a human who was left brain-dead after the Soul inside her was removed, thereby ensuring that Wanderer can live without harming another soul. Wanderer, now in Pet’s body, begins a relationship with Ian, while Melanie reunites with Jared. A few months later, Wanderer and the others meet another group of humans who have been joined by Souls who have decided to live peacefully among them.


Boy, oh boy, oh boy! Stephanie Meyers, author of the greatest literary work ever (note the sarcasm), tries her hand in the sci-fi genre with The Host. Comparisons to the abomination known as The Twilight Saga aside, curiosity does have me wondering what her next project would be and how  it would fare.

What is this abut?

When an alien race implants a parasite soul named Wanderer into Melanie Stryder’s body, she resists the takeover. Soon, Melanie and Wanderer become reluctant allies as they go on a quest to track down the men they love in this sci-fi thriller.

What did I like?

Idea. Say what you will abut how everything plays out, you cannot deny that this is a pretty nice idea. In the hands of a more competent author, I believe we could be looking at the next great sci-fi flick in the same vein as 2001: A Space Odyssey or the Alien franchise. Yes, I went there when talking about a Stephanie Meyer work.

Shiny. Just the other day, I was thinking about Flight of the Navigator, then I saw the vehicles these aliens were driving/flying around in. At first, I was going to criticize the overuse of chrome. Then I thought it is really no worse than the pristine white walls of their buildings and clothes. The use of the chrome seems to be just a way for them to differentiate and separate themselves from the humans.

What didn’t I like?

Love. For some reason, Stephanie Meyers cannot seem to get past the overly dramatic, slow moving (which I will touch on soon), too emotional character whom the audience has no connection to. I say this because the film was actually starting to move along at a decent pace and then we get hit with this love triangle that I guess fits in with what is going on, but also feels like it could have been left out.

Not the dude. William Hurt does a good job with his role. He and Diane Kruger seem to be the only ones with any discernible acting skills in the film. However, for some reason it appears as if he’s doing some weird Jeff Bridges impression and I don’t really know why. If the filmmakers wanted Bridges, they should’ve gotten him. Since they didn’t, then Hurt should’ve just played the character his own way.

Uninteresting. The pacing in the picture is horrific. It is over 2 hrs and feels like 20! I’m all for developing characters and really setting up the story and all, but there comes a time where you just need to get to what the audience came to see say the hell with all this other bs. Someone apparently didn’t give this filmmaker that memo as this could not have been dragged out any longer. I literally felt like I needed t slit my wrists and gouge my eyes out just to feel something other than boredom!

It would be easy to sit here and compare this to those Twilight films because it was written by the same author, but the truth is The Host is something that is different…until it falls back into the trappings of Meyers’ writing. For me, I’m not a fan of seeing my alien invasion films reduced to nothing. This is just a film that is best avoided at all costs. If you want a god alien invasion film, try Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Hell, even the remake will work better than this waste of 2 hrs and 5 minutes that I will never get back.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 24, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

At Camp Half-Blood, Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) meets his half-brother Tyson (Douglas Smith), who is a cyclops. The camp is later attacked by Luke Castellan (Jake Abel), who announces his plans to destroy Mount Olympus. Percy’s mentor Chiron (Anthony Head) discovers that Luke has poisoned the magic tree responsible for the barrier that protects Camp Half-Blood, which Percy learns was created out of Thalia Grace (Paloma Kwiatkowski), daughter of Zeus, who was killed by a cyclops. Annabeth Chase (Alexandra Daddario) finds out that the Golden Fleece could restore the tree, and the camp’s director, Dionysus (Stanley Tucci), sends Clarisse La Rue (Leven Rambin), daughter of Ares and Percy’s rival, to find it. Percy then sets off with Annabeth, Tyson and Grover Underwood (Brandon T. Jackson) to locate the Golden Fleece on his own. Before they leave, the Oracle (Shohreh Aghdashloo) prophesies that a half-blood child of one of the three prime gods will fight Luke, and the half-blood will have the chance to either save Mount Olympus or destroy it. As Percy is the only known half-blood of the three prime gods (Tyson is not a half-blood because he is not half human), he assumes the prophecy must refer to him.

The Graeae (Missi Pyle, Yvette Nicole Brown and Mary Birdsong) give the group the coordinates to the island and leave them in Washington, D.C., where Grover is captured by Luke’s men, who need him to find the Fleece as satyrs are naturally drawn to it. Grover fears the cyclops Polyphemus (Robert Maillet), the creature that guards the Golden Fleece and uses it to lure in satyrs to eat. Percy, Annabeth and Tyson then meet Luke’s father Hermes (Nathan Fillion), who tells them that Luke is in an ocean liner in the Atlantic Ocean called the Andromeda; he asks Percy to apologize on his behalf for being a bad father to Luke. Equipped with gifts of tape that makes things disappear and a thermos of wind from Hermes, Percy, Annabeth and Tyson take a Hippocampus to the Andromeda and end up being captured by one of Luke’s soldiers, the Manticore (Daniel Cudmore), but escape using the magic artifacts. The trio eventually reaches the Sea of Monsters and is swallowed by Charybdis, meeting Clarisse in its stomach. She was given an old Civil War Confederate ironclad from her father to use on her quest, run by a crew of Confederate zombie soldiers, which has been somewhat modernized. They join forces to escape and reach Circeland, an abandoned amusement park above Polyphemus’ lair, where they rescue Grover and retrieve the Golden Fleece before being confronted by Luke, who reveals his plans to use the Golden Fleece to awaken the Titan Kronos (Robert Knepper).

Tyson sacrifices himself to protect Percy from a crossbow bolt fired from Luke, who subsequently steals the Golden Fleece and awakens Kronos. Tyson then returns, having been revived in contact with water, and rescues the others. In the ensuing fight, Luke and Grover are swallowed by Kronos before Percy realizes his magic sword, Riptide, is prophesied to be Kronos’ only weakness. Percy’s sword swing send Kronos’s body back, piece by piece, to the golden coffin which held his remains, and Luke becomes trapped in the hungry Polyphemus’ lair. The Manticore mortally wounds Annabeth before being killed by Grover and Clarisse, and Percy uses the Golden Fleece to revive her.

Returning to Camp Half-Blood, the group uses the Golden Fleece to restore the tree, and are surprised when it revives Thalia and restores her body. While the others celebrate, Percy realizes that perhaps Mount Olympus’ fate might rest on Thalia’s hands, not his.


Percy Jackson returns to the big screen with Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. For some, like myself, the announcement of this flick has led to pure joy, while others have questioned why it was even made, especially three years following the original film when no one was really clamoring for it. Well, since I’m still working on a project regarding Greek mythology, this is right up my alley.

What is this about?

The epic adventures of Percy Jackson continue as the son of Poseidon and his friends venture into the perilous Sea of Monsters to find the Golden Fleece that has the power to save Camp Half-Blood, safe haven and training ground to the demigods.

What did I like?

Up the ante. As can be expected, the ante was upped in the sequel to 2010s Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. With this film, we get bigger set pieces, no origin-itis, and lots more action. If Percy is going to succeed on the big screen, these films will have to continue to grow and give us more of what we ask for, because, if I recall, fans were begging for more action from the first film, and now we got it.

Old and new. All the characters we fell in love with in the first film are back. Well, most of them, anyway, as Pierce Brosnan is replaced, some may argue upgraded, by Anthony Head. Also returning to challenge Percy is Luke, son of Hermes, who now wants to resurrect the titan Kronos and is still suffering from daddy issues. We are also introduced to some new faces, particularly Tyson, Percy’s Cyclops half-brother with a heart of gold and Clarisse, daughter of Ares and an apparently rival to Percy.

Heart and comedy. Some films these days lack that emotional resonance with the audience, but when you have a character like Tyson who is whole heartedly devoted to his half-brother Percy. Sometimes, we just need to see that innocent love put on display. I, for one, was very appreciative that they played tins angle up, not to mention the fact that he was a nice little bit of comic relief. Also bringing in some of the funny was Nathan Fillion’s cameo as Hermes. You’ve seen his scene in the trailer, but he has a line that will have Firefly fans cracking up, plus who better to run UPS than Hermes, messenger of the gods?

Stain glass. Early on, there is a scene that is a bit of a flashback, but it is told using animated stain glass. The animation fan in me was loving this. I wish more films would use this technique. It wasn’t perfect, but it broke up the monotony of the film up to that point.

What didn’t I like?

Departure. I read this book when it first came out and was excited about it coming to the big screen. Unfortunately, it seems as if they strayed so far from the source material that it was nearly unrecognizable, not to mention leaving out and rearranging sections. It is too easy to bring up the age thing, or how the car scene is eerily reminiscent of the one from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, but that is just the beginning. There are numerous things out of place from the source material, too many for me to look past.

Fantasy. I don’t know, I just felt like there should have been more of a fantastical element here. At times we got it, like with the chimera, the cyclops’, and the hippocampus, but I just think there could have been so much more. This is a film about the children of Olympian gods who have powers and abilities far beyond that of us mere mortals, let alone the fantastical creatures they can see that we don’t. I guess the filmmakers were thinking too many would have made this “childish” or “immature”. Don’t you hate it when they assume things like that?

Kronos. The great titan and father of the goods, Kronos, makes his first big screen appearance, but I have to question the choice of using him. First of all, he doesn’t appear for another couple of books, if I’m not mistaken. Going even further is the fact that he seems to resemble Hades from the God of War games, in terms of design The worst thing about the guy was his liquid form. I’m a little unclear if this was meant to be because he was still coming together, or if this is another power he had. Whatever the case may be, the CG wasn’t that great. As a matter of fact, he looked a bit pedestrian. For such an imposing figure, they could have done so much better with him.

Golden fleece. So, if something has golden in the name, such as the golden fleece, doesn’t it make sense that it should be gold? So, why is the golden fleece that they use to resurrect Kronos and heal Thalia a piece of fabric with a pattern on it. If this is to keep it in the modern world, fine, but, like I said, it’s called the golden fleece for a reason! Some may say it is cheesy, but at least in Jason and the Argonauts, the fleece is actually gold and…um…fleecy!

Please don’t get me wrong. I really did enjoy Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters for what it is, which is a decent fantasy flick. I even enjoyed the 3D *GASP*, because they actually did it right and threw things at the screen, which is more or less the reason for 3D, right? I don’t think it is any secret that they want this to be the next Harry Potter type franchise. If they want this to happen, then they need to tighten up the script and give us better visuals. That being said, this is still a highly enjoyable film, and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

4 out of 5 stars

Top Hat

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , on August 21, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

An American dancer, Jerry Travers (Fred Astaire) comes to London to star in a show produced by the bumbling Horace Hardwick (Edward Everett Horton). While practicing a tap dance routine in his hotel bedroom, he awakens Dale Tremont (Ginger Rogers) on the floor below. She storms upstairs to complain, whereupon Jerry falls hopelessly in love with her and proceeds to pursue her all over London.

Dale mistakes Jerry for Horace, who is married to her friend Madge (Helen Broderick). Following the success of Jerry’s opening night in London, Jerry follows Dale to Venice, where she is visiting Madge and modelling/promoting the gowns created by Alberto Beddini (Erik Rhodes), a dandified Italian fashion designer with a penchant for malapropisms.

Jerry proposes to Dale, who, while still believing that Jerry is Horace, is disgusted that her friend’s husband could behave in such a manner and agrees instead to marry Alberto. Fortunately, Bates (Eric Blore), Horace’s meddling English valet, disguises himself as a priest and conducts the ceremony; Horace had sent Bates to keep tabs on Dale.

On a trip in a gondola, Jerry manages to convince Dale and they return to the hotel where the previous confusion is rapidly cleared up. The reconciled couple dance off into the Venetian sunset, to the tune of “The Piccolino”.


Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were the “it” couple back in the day. Admittedly, Top Hat is only the second time I’ve seen them on screen together. The other being Swing Time. From what I’ve heard from others about this film, I’m sure to enjoy this, right?

What is this about?

This joyous Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musical features an Irving Berlin score and the classic duet “Cheek to Cheek.” Astaire stars as Jerry Travers, a singer-dancer who auditions some new moves for producer Horace Hardwick at his hotel. The beautiful Dale Tremont (Rogers) is staying downstairs and the wackiness begins when she mistakes Jerry for Horace in this romantic comedy that received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture.

What did I like?

Dance, dance, dance. Fred Astaire is one of those people who can draw an audience in without saying a word. All he has to do I dance. Arguably one of the best dancers to grace the screen, he is also a good singer and actor. Compare him and Gene Kelly (the best example of this is their scene in Ziegfeld Follies) …good luck picking who is the better of the two.

Chemistry. Aside from the obvious chemistry between Astaire and Ginger Rogers, I was really impressed with how well the cast as a whole came together. As a whole they seemed to work like a well-oiled machine, something we don’t get to see too often in films of yesterday and today.

Golden voice. You may not know the actor, but if you watched the Rocky & Bullwinkle show, then you will recognize his voice from the Fractured Fairytales segments. Edward Everett Horton plays a pretty major role as the producer of Astaire’s show and is quite good in the role, especially with the likes of Fred Astaire to play against.

What didn’t I like?

Addendum. The last 30 minutes or so of this film just seemed to drag on. I would say that I had lost interest, but that wasn’t the case, as the best songs take place during this part, but I just couldn’t get into it.

Identity thief. A major plot point is the case of mistaken identity, but this doesn’t come into play until after the halfway point. Well, at least that’s when it seems to become the focal point. I guess I’m just a little wary on the identity thing after recently watching Identity Thief, so it didn’t really work for me.

Fred Astaire is one of the best entertainers to ever grace the big screen, especially when he’s paired with Ginger Rogers. Top Hat is passable entertainment with its enjoyably plot, memorable songs, and breathtaking dance scenes. However, the flimsy plot hurts it more than anything and I just had trouble staying with the goings on. With that being said, though, I still recommend this as something to check out. It isn’t a bad film, just not the best. Give it a shot sometime!

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

The Muppet Movie

Posted in Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The Muppets have gathered in a theatre to screen their new biographical film The Muppet Movie. As the film-within-the-film opens, Kermit the Frog enjoys a relaxing afternoon in a Florida swamp, singing “Rainbow Connection” and strumming his banjo, when he is approached by Bernie (Dom DeLuise), an agent who encourages Kermit to pursue a career in show business. Inspired by the idea of “making millions of people happy,” Kermit sets off on a cross-country trip to Los Angeles, but is soon pursued by businessman and entrepreneur Doc Hopper and shy assistant Max in an attempt to convince Kermit to be the new spokesman of his struggling French-fried frog legs restaurant franchise, to Kermit’s horror. As Kermit continues to refuse Doc’s offers, Hopper resorts to increasingly vicious means of persuasion.

Meeting Fozzie Bear, who works as a hapless stand-up comedian in a sleazy bar, Kermit invites Fozzie to accompany him. The two set out in a 1951 Studebaker loaned to Fozzie by his hibernating uncle. The duo’s journey includes misadventures which introduce them to a variety of eccentric human and Muppet characters, including Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem and their manager Scooter, who receives a copy of the script from the pair; Gonzo and Camilla the Chicken; Sweetums, who runs after them after they think that he has turned them down; and the immediately love stricken Miss Piggy.

Kermit and Miss Piggy begin a relationship over dinner that night, when Doc Hopper and Max kidnap Miss Piggy to lure Kermit into a trap. Using an electronic cerebrectomy device, mad scientist Professor Krassman (Mel Brooks) attempts to brainwash Kermit to perform in Doc’s commercials until Miss Piggy, infuriated by Krassman’s insult, knocks out Doc Hopper’s henchmen and causes the scientist to be zapped by his own device. After receiving a job offer, however, she promptly abandons Kermit in the barn alone and devastated.

After being joined by Rowlf the Dog and eventually Miss Piggy once again, the Muppets continue their journey. Fozzie trades his uncle’s Studebaker to a used car dealer for a 1946 Ford Woodie station wagon to accommodate their new friends, but later regrets the trade after the car overheats in the New Mexico desert. During a campfire that night, they sadly consider that they may miss the audition tomorrow, and Gonzo cheers up most of the group with a song about his longing to find his place in the world, while Kermit wanders off, ashamed of himself for seemingly bringing his friends into a dead end, and wondering whether his dreams were really worth leaving home for. Upon consulting a more optimistic vision of himself, Kermit remembers that it was not just his friends’ belief in the dream that brought them this far, but also his own faith in himself. Reinvigorated, he returns to camp to find that the Electric Mayhem and Scooter have read the script in advance, and arrived to help them the rest of the way.

Just as it seems they are finally on their way, the group is warned by Max that Doc Hopper has hired an assassin to kill Kermit. Kermit decides he will not be hunted by a bully any longer and proposes a Western-style showdown in a nearby ghost town inhabited by Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and his assistant Beaker, who invent materials that have yet to be tested. While confronting Hopper, Kermit explains his motivations, attempting to appeal to Hopper’s own hopes and dreams, but Hopper is unmoved and orders his henchmen to kill him and all his friends. They are saved only when one of Dr. Bunsen’s inventions, “insta-grow” pills, temporarily turns Animal into a giant, scaring off Hopper and his men.

The Muppets proceed to Hollywood, and are hired by producer and studio executive Lew Lord (Orson Welles). The Muppets attempt to make their first movie involving a surreal pastiche of their experiences. The first take suddenly erupts into a catastrophic explosion that makes a hole in the roof through which a portion of rainbow shines through on the Muppets. The film ends as the Muppets, joined by the characters from Sesame Street, Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas, the “The Land of Gorch” segment of Saturday Night Live, and the James Frawley Muppet to sing “Rainbow Connection.” Back in the screening room, Sweetums bursts through the screen having finally caught up with the rest of the Muppets.


I just heard this week that they greenlit a sequel to The Muppets, so I decided to take the time to watch The Muppet Movie. I thought I had seen this before, but I don’t remember it, if I did, of course, it was released before I was born, so that may have had something to do with it.

What is this about?

After deciding to pursue a career in acting, Kermit the Frog goes on a cross-country trek to find fame in Hollywood. Along the way, he meets Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, Gonzo and the rest of the Muppets cast, and voilà, the Muppets are born.

What did I like?

Rainbow room. One of the things the Muppets are known for are the songs, whether they be catchy or heart wrenchingly beautiful, they grab your very soul and don’t let go. This is the case with the film’s opening number, “Rainbow Connection”. Not only is this a great melody, but it the cinematography leading up to it and introducing us to Kermit sitting in the swamp with his banjo really sets the mood.

Muppets. If you’re a fan of The Muppet Show, then you’ll see pretty much all of your favorites here. In a way, this film acts as a prequel to that program. For me, it was a blast to see all these characters again, and with the original voices. There is nothing like the warm tone of Jim Henson’s vocals coming from Kermit. No offense to the guy that currently lends his voice to our favorite frog.

Pacing. There is a nice pacing to this film. It isn’t slow nor does it slow down and bore the audience to death. Also, it slowly adds new characters, giving the audience time to invest in Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, Miss Piggy, and the others before adding on even more. I thought this was genius and something that other films with massive ensemble pieces should consider doing, especially as we are getting to know them.

What didn’t I like?

Cameos. I was listening to a podcast this morning and they were discussing this film. For those that don’t know, it was released on DVD/Blu-ray this week, the “nearly” 35th anniversary. The topic that stood out to me was the cameos. These are big stars, Bog Hope, Steve Martin, Orson Welles, Richard Pryor, Mel Brooks, etc. However, in 2013, not many people now who they are, at least the younger generations. Hell, even I have to go to Wikipedia for some of them. Does that take anything away from the film? No, but I think there may have been a bit of overkill with the number of cameos.

Picture. This is a minor technical complaint, but still something that needs to be mentioned. I watched this on Netflix streaming just now. I’m one of those people who actually likes the grainy look as opposed to the crystal clear picture. There is just a charm to it that really appeals to me. I guess you can say it makes a film akin to a fine wine, it has aged gracefully. The Netflix version isn’t perfectly clear, but I do think it could have been more of what the original was. I can’t blame them, though, that probably goes back to the DVD that they burned onto their servers, or whatever the technical way they go about getting movies on-line is.

Chase. Kermit, and later Fozzie and the Muppets they pick up along the way, are being chased by the film’s antagonist, Doc Hopper. As far as I can tell, this guy just wants to take Kermit and make from legs out of him. He must think those are some damn good frog legs for him to give chase cross country. I’m sorry, but the plausibility of that was a bit too much for me to swallow. Perhaps I just missed something, but his motivation just seemed a bit cloudy as far as I was concerned.

You’d be hard pressed to find a better family picture than The Muppet Movie. This is one of those rare films that all generations can enjoy, though for different reasons, be it nostalgia, jokes, or what have you. I found very little fault in this, but I can’t get over a weak villain. Other than that, I highly recommend this as a must see before you die film. Check it out!

4 3/4 out of 5 stars

11 Things

Posted in Uncategorized on August 20, 2013 by Mystery Man

Taken from the article “11 things we no longer see in movie theaters” by Kara Kovalchik

Before faceless multiplexes became the norm, one could always spot a movie theater in the distance, even if it was your first visit to that town. A large illuminated vertical sign announced the name of the cinema, and the triangular marquee below was lined with tiny blinking light bulbs. Even if the film being shown was a dud, that sign out front just lured you inside.

And that was just one of the trimmings that used to make “going to the movies” an event, a night out on the town. If you remember when an usher would scold you for speaking too loud, or had a grandma who had a full set of china only because she’d faithfully attended weeks of Dish Nights, these 11 artifacts might bring back some fond memories.


As patrons entered the movie theater prior to showtime, they naturally lowered their voices and spoke in hushed tones as they found their seats. There was something about the lush, heavy red velvet curtain covering the screen that gave the auditorium an aura of majesty and demanded that people be on their best behavior. When folks were seated, they talked quietly among themselves, which was possible because the latest pop hits weren’t blaring out of oversized sub-woofers. If there was any soundtrack, it was atmospheric Muzak playing softly in the background. When the lights dimmed and the curtains parted with a flourish, the audience fell silent in anticipation.

Curtains haven’t covered movie screens since theater owners figured out how to turn those screens into temporary billboards. Today the screen is almost never blank; if the main feature isn’t showing, then a constant slideshow of advertisements and trivia questions is.


Those gallant men and women who escorted you to your seats at the cinema used to dress in more finery than a decorated soldier. But that was at a time when movie ushers did much more than tear tickets and sweep up spilled popcorn; they kept an eye out for miscreants attempting to sneak in without paying, offered a helpful elbow to steady women walking down the steeply inclined aisle in high-heeled shoes, and were quick to “Shhh!” folks who talked during the movie. Ushers carried small flashlights to guide patrons who arrived after the movie had started, and they were also the ones who maintained order when the film broke and the audience grew ornery. Of course, cell phones hadn’t yet been invented, so doctors or parents who’d left youngsters home with a babysitter often mentioned such to the usher as they were seated, so he’d be able to find them during the show if an emergency phone call was received for them at the box office.


One gimmick that kept movie theaters operating during the very lean 1930s was Dish Night. Money was obviously very tight during the Great Depression, and families had to be extremely cautious when it came to any discretionary spending. A night out at the movies was an unnecessary luxury, and cinema audiences dwindled. Theater owners lowered their ticket prices as much as they could (sometimes as low as 10 cents for an evening feature), but what finally put bodies in seats was Dish Night.

Salem China and a few other manufacturers of finer dinnerware struck deals with theaters across the U.S., selling the theater owner their wares at wholesale and allowing their products to be given away as premiums with each ticket sold. Sure enough, soon housewives were demanding that their husbands take them out to the Bijou every week in order to get a coffee cup, saucer, gravy boat, or dinner plate to complete their place setting. One Seattle theater owner reported by distributing 1000 pieces of china costing him $110 on a Monday night, he took in $300—a whopping $250 more than he’d made the previous Monday.


Movie theater seats didn’t come equipped with cup holders until the late 1960s, and even then it was something of a novelty that only newer cinemas boasted. What every seat did have for many decades before then, however, was a built-in ashtray. You can probably guess why that particular convenience has gone the way of the dodo bird: fire regulations and second-hand smoke dangers and all that.


Before TV became ubiquitous, most Americans had to get their breaking news from the radio or the daily newspaper. But neither one of those sources came equipped with moving pictures. Hence, the newsreel, a brief “you are there” update on what was going on in the world, was invented. Newsreels were commonly shown prior to the main feature and was the only way most people first saw actual film footage of events like the Hindenburg explosion or the Olympic games.


Movie patrons of yore certainly got a lot of bang for their buck (actually, more like their 50 cents) back in the day. Very rarely would a cinema dare to show just a single motion picture—patrons expected a cartoon or two after the newsreel, and then a double feature. That is, two movies for the price of one. Usually the second film was one that wasn’t quite as new or perhaps as prestigious as the main attraction, which is why we oldsters sometimes still describe a bad B-movie as “third on the bill at a double feature.”


A staple of the Kiddie Matinee was the Chapter Play, or Serial. Always filled with action and adventure, and either cowboys or space creatures, these 20-minute shorts were continuing stories that ended each installment with a cliff-hanger. And if even if the producers sometimes cheated and the hero managed to survive an automobile explosion even though he hadn’t gotten out of the cockadoodie car in last week’s episode, kids made sure they got their chores done and weekly allowance in hand early each Saturday. No one wanted to be the only kid on the playground Monday who hadn’t seen Crash Corrigan battle Unga Khan and his Black Robe Army.


Going to the movies was a much more formal occasion in the 1920s and ’30s, and even the 1950s. Ladies and gentlemen dressed accordingly—women in dresses or smart suits (never their house dress that they wore while washing the dishes and vacuuming) and men in suits and ties. And no man nor woman would leave the house without a hat completing their outfit.

As fashions evolved, women’s chapeaus went from big to huge to ridiculously elaborate and back to tastefully understated (think Jackie Kennedy’s famous pillbox), while men had a more limited selection—the straw boater, the derby, the fedora. During those hat-wearing decades, blocking the field of vision of those sitting behind you was a very real problem, and it was just plain good form for men to place their hats in their laps during the film. Women, on the other hand, were more reluctant to doff their headgear—it was a part of their fashion statement, after all, and quite often a lady had said hat very intricately pinned in place. Thus the admonition for ladies to remove their hats during the show was born.


Remember what we said above about double features and serials and such? During that era, the projectionist needed time to change reels, which resulted in five or 10 minutes of “dead air.” Theaters put that down time to good use by rolling promotional reels to remind patrons of the cornucopia of delicious snacks just waiting for them at the concession stand.


There’s a reason that some of the larger downtown theaters in big cities were called movie palaces—thanks to elaborate architecture and decorating the Riviera or the Majestic were probably the closest most Americans would get to a palatial setting. Such cinemas were called “atmospheric theaters” because they were built and decorated with a theme, often one featuring a foreign locale such as a Spanish courtyard or a South Asian temple. Atmospheric theaters had lobbies that were several stories tall with one or more grand chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. No wonder folks dressed to go to the movies back then; wouldn’t you feel out of place wearing jeans and a baseball cap amid such splendor?


Those elaborate movie palaces had many amenities that not every neighborhood theater had, including “cry rooms.” A cry room was a soundproofed elevated room in the back of the theater with a large glass window in front so Mama could still watch the movie (and hear it over a public address system) while trying to calm down a fussy baby. Many theatres that provided cry rooms also came equipped with electric bottle warmers, complimentary formula, and a nurse on duty.

December Boys

Posted in Drama, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on August 17, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

This film is a coming of age picture for the four main characters, and how their lives change over one Christmas holiday. The film is set in late 1960s Australia. Four orphan boys from a Roman Catholic orphanage in the outback of Australia – Maps, Misty, Spark and Spit – were all born in the month of December, and for their birthday, they are sent on a holiday to the beach to stay with Mr. and Mrs. McAnsh. While there, they meet Fearless, a man who claims to be the risk motorbike rider in the nearby carnival, and his wife, Teresa. Misty, Spark and Spit instantly become closer to Teresa, but Maps, eldest of the four, is still reluctant to talk to her. He instead finds more fun in spending time with an older teenage girl named Lucy, who had come to the beach to stay with her uncle. He often goes up to a place with strange rocks, and meets her there.

A few days later, the orphans peek through a window in Fearless’ house to see Teresa undressing, but Misty, being the most religious of the four, throws a rock at the wall to make them go away. Misty runs back to Mr. McAnsh’s house and looks through the small opening of a door to see someone in the shower, only to find that it is the sickly Mrs. McAnsh. They soon discover that she has breast cancer.

One night, Misty overhears Fearless talking to his friends about the possibility of adopting one of the orphans. Excited about the opportunity to finally have parents, he keeps it to himself until he decides to reveal it to a priest who has driven to the beach for the orphans’ confessions. The other boys realise that he is taking too long, and once he is finished, they force it out of him with the threat of Spit spitting on him while he is pinned to the ground. Misty, Spark and Spit are eager to compete for the love of the seemingly perfect Fearless and Teresa, but Maps is less than excited, even saying to Lucy, “What’s the big deal about parents, anyway?” Maps experiences his first kiss with Lucy, and soon loses his virginity to her in one of the caves of the Remarkable Rocks.

There, she tells him to promise that he will always remember her as his first. The next day, he goes up to the Remarkable Rocks, only to find Lucy is not there. Her uncle tells him that she’s left the beach to return to her father, and will not likely be back until next summer. Heartbroken, he goes to the carnival to find Fearless and talk to him, but discovers that he is not a motorbike rider there, and instead cleans up after the animals. Furious that he’d lied all along, he finds a painting made by Misty of him as the son of Fearless and Teresa, and destroys it. Misty attacks him and hits him with the fragments of the frame he’d put the painting in, and the bond between the four orphans is broken.

Fearless finds Maps in the cave of the Remarkable Rocks, and explains to him what had really happened. It is revealed to that Fearless was formerly a bike rider, and did all of the stunts with Teresa riding on the back of the bike. Then, there was an accident that kept Teresa in the hospital for nearly a year, making her unable to have children. That was the reason they had wanted to adopt one of the orphans.

Maps returns to the beach and finds out from Spark and Spit that Misty has gone into the water, and is drowning. Maps goes after him despite the fact that he cannot swim. Both he and Misty nearly drown. Underwater, they open their eyes to see a vision of the Virgin Mary, possibly meaning that they are dying. Before they can reach out to it, the two boys are grabbed by Fearless and brought back to the shore. Maps and Misty reconcile with each other and the four are friends again.

The next day, the boys are called to Fearless’ and Teresa’s house for an announcement. There, they reveal the couple is going to adopt Misty. He takes leave of his friends and he watches on the front porch with Fearless and Teresa as the other three orphans walk away and begin playing on some rocks down the beach. Misty realises that they are his true family, and asks Fearless and Teresa if he can stay with them instead. They accept, and he returns home with the orphans.

Many decades later, Misty, as an old man, drives to the same beach along with the ashes of Maps, who had recently died while working as a priest in Africa helping refugees, and Lucy’s ring that she gave to Maps on that holiday long ago. He meets up with Spark and Spit, and they toss the ashes & ring loose into the wind from the hill above the beach, remembering Maps and their time there, with a cheer to “The December Boys


There was a time, not that long ago, that audiences were wondering if Daniel Radcliffe could do anything in his career besides play Harry Potter. He answered this question not only with this film, December Boys,, but also with a turn on Broadway in the play Equus, which saw him totally disrobe. I think it is safe to say that he can do more than play Harry, wouldn’t you?

What is this about?

After living together for years at a Catholic orphanage, four teenage boys must face the likelihood that they’ll never be adopted. But while on vacation, the boys become rivals as they compete for the affections of two prospective parents.

What did I like?

Coming of age. Look back to films such as The Outsiders, My Girl, Stand By Me, etc. Those were flicks that showed us a period of time where the characters were…”coming of age”. This film does the same thing and, from what I can recall, is the first of its kind in quite some time. I wonder why they stopped making films in this subgenre.

Characters. Anytime you take a story that involves multiple characters, you need to give each of them decent amounts of screentime. For the most part, this film does that and also throws in a few other characters. Is this a study in character study? A little bit, but that isn’t the main reason for being, if you will, for this film. Or is it?

What didn’t I like?

Dull. I really hate to say this, but this film is just plain dull and boring. I was fighting dozing off the whole way through it. The only time anything interesting happened, such as the super cute Teresa Palmer appearing, it doesn’t last long and we go back to having to sit through the equivalent of a lecture.

Horse. Perhaps I missed something regarding it, but there is this horse that randomly shows up. I’m not sure if it is really there or if it is some kind of hallucination, but it sort of makes no sense for it to be there, especially given the tone of the film. At the same time, though, it was a nice change of pace and lightened things up. Still, I believe it was misplaced.

I applaud Daniel Radcliffe for taking the chance and stretching out from the Potter universe with December Boys, but this was not a film that worked for me. My goodness, I hope the book isn’t this boring! Sure, there are those out there that will enjoy this, and that’s fine. More power to you, but for me, this is one of those films that exists for the artsy-fartsy crowd. Obviously, that isn’t me. If you’re into tis kind of flick, though, give it a shot.

3 out of 5 stars