Archive for September, 2014

The Boxtrolls

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the European town of Cheesebridge, rumors abound that subterranean trolls known as Boxtrolls kidnap and kill young children. Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) strikes a deal with Lord Portley-Rind (Jared Harris), offering to exterminate every Boxtroll in exchange for membership in the White Hats, a group of cheese lovers led by Lord Portley-Rind that serves as the town council.

The Boxtrolls prove to be peaceful creatures, wearing cardboard boxes, who emerge from underground at night to scavenge through the trash for items they can use in their inventions. A baby boy named Eggs lives among them, cared for by a Boxtroll named Fish (Dee Bradley Baker). As he grows up over a period of ten years, Eggs (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) learns that the population slowly decreases due to being captured by Snatcher.

Lord Portley-Rind’s neglected daughter Winnie (Elle Fanning) grows frustrated at being ignored and throws his white hat out a window. Leaving the house to retrieve it, she sees Eggs rummaging through trash with two Boxtrolls. Snatcher and his men chase the trio and capture Fish. Devastated, Eggs puts together a disguise and sneaks back up to the surface to find him. Eggs emerges in the midst of an annual fair to commemorate the disappearance of the Trubshaw Baby eleven years earlier – presumably kidnapped and killed by Boxtrolls. Disgusted by the town’s inaccurate portrayal of the creatures, he follows Winnie away from the fair. She recognizes him as the boy she saw the previous night and directs him to Snatcher’s headquarters, an abandoned factory.

Sneaking into the factory, Eggs finds Fish locked in a cage and frees him. Meanwhile, Snatcher holds a cheese tasting with his men Mr. Gristle (Tracy Morgan), Mr. Trout (Nick Frost), and Mr. Pickles (Richard Ayoade) as preparation for becoming a White Hat, but proves ironically to be allergic to cheese, causing his entire body to swell. Eggs and Fish try to sneak out of the factory only to be caught by Mr. Gristle. Snatcher recognizes Eggs as the Trubshaw Baby and reveals that all the captured Boxtrolls are still alive and building a machine. Winnie overhears this exchange upon having followed Eggs to the factory. They and Fish escape from Snatcher and take shelter in the Boxtrolls’ underground cavern.

Winnie is surprised to learn the truth about the Boxtrolls, and convinces Eggs that he is not one of them. His father had given him to them as a baby in order to keep him safe from Snatcher. Winnie agrees to help Eggs tell Portley-Rind the truth. At a ball that night, Eggs narrowly avoids capture by a disguised Snatcher and inadvertently knocks a giant cheese wheel down the stairs so that it rolls into a river. Eggs announces himself to the crowd as the Trubshaw Baby, but no one believes him and Lord Portley-Rind throws him out in a fury over losing his beloved cheese.

Eggs returns to the cavern and tries to persuade the remaining Boxtrolls that they need to flee for their own safety. Snatcher digs into the cavern using his machine, captures the entire group, and takes them back to the factory. Eggs, imprisoned in a cage in the basement, awakens to find his real father Herbert Trubshaw (Simon Pegg) hanging upside down next to him when it turns out that he was held captive for years by Snatcher. He sees the Boxtrolls stacked in a crusher and begs them to run, but the crusher activates and flattens all the boxes.

Snatcher drives his machine to Lord Portley-Rind’s house, shows him the flattened boxes as proof of the Boxtrolls’ deaths, and demands Portley-Rind’s white hat once he kills the last one (actually Eggs dressed up as a Boxtroll). Winnie persuades Mr. Trout and Mr. Pickles to redeem themselves by not killing Eggs. The Boxtrolls suddenly arrive with Trubshaw, having sneaked out of their boxes just before the crusher activated, and free Eggs. An infuriated Snatcher tries to take Portley Rind’s hat by force, but Eggs, his father, and the Boxtrolls disable the machine. Eggs and Snatcher are thrown clear, hitting the giant cheese wheel as it is pulled out of the river, and Snatcher swells into a grotesque giant and forces Lord Portley-Rind to give up his hat. Snatcher triumphantly enters the cheese tasting room, but unconcerned about his allergy, explodes after taking one bite.

The townspeople no longer see the Boxtrolls as monsters and come to live peacefully with them. Winnie tells the tale of Snatcher’s end to a crowd of people, while Eggs and Fish drive off in one of his father’s contraptions


Is it me, or has this year been a little light on the family faire? What little there had been hasn’t exactly lit the box office on fire. Hopefully, The Boxtrolls will change that fact, or at least provide an alternative to the revenge flick that is The Equalizer and the horror-comedy Tusk (in the areas where it is still showing). Can this British kiddie flick charm enough adults to bring them back for more?

What is this about?

THE BOXTROLLS are a community of quirky, mischievous creatures who have lovingly raised an orphaned human boy named Eggs in the amazing cavernous home they’ve built beneath the streets of a city called Cheesebridge. The story is about a young orphaned boy raised by underground cave-dwelling trash collectors who tries to save his friends from an evil exterminator, the town’s villain, Archibald Snatcher. When Snatcher comes up with a plot to get rid of the Boxtrolls. Eggs decides to venture above ground and “into the light,” where he meets and teams up with fabulously feisty Winnie. Together, they devise a daring plan to save The BoxTrolls family.

What did I like?

Stop motion surprised. This is stop motion animation. If you are an avid reader of this blog, then you know how much I turn into a drooling fanboy when it comes to stop motion, so no need to say that I liked the fact that it is stop motion and not CG. However, there is something about the animation that I have to mention. About midway through the credits scene, two of the henchmen start talking and one of them says something along the lines of, “what if someone was controlling us?” The camera pans back and you can see one of the sculptor animators working on him. I found that to be totally awesome and I don’t believe anyone has ever done this before, at least outside of Rey Herryhausen documentaries or stop motion classes.

Trolls. The Boxtrolls don’t speak in anything more than grunts and random sounds, and yet they have just as much life in them as the humans, perhaps more. I didn’t catch on at first, but they are named for the kind of box they are wearing. For instance, one of them wears a box marked “Fragile”, thus his name is Fragile. As far as the personality of each is concerned, they show heart and innocence that makes you care for them, even perhaps shuddering when something nearly happens to them near the film’s end. I won’t spoil it, but I will say that it is life threatening for them.

Henchmen conflict. “Good always triumphs over evil.” “We’re the good guys, right?” These are a couple of conflicting thoughts that the henchmen, well 2 of them, wonder about as the film goes on and they commit more and more heinous acts toward the Boxtrolls and nearly kill some humans! We’ve all wondered about how henchmen join up, I’m sure. Before the Star Wars prequels, I wondered were all the Strom Troopers came from. This is the first time, though, that I can recall henchmen actually questioning what they are doing, even if they have apparently been tricked into thinking Boxtrolls are evil. It makes for some interesting conversation between the two and gives them character, rather than brainless yes men.

What didn’t  I like?

Girl. The film is moving along at a nice pace, the audience is moving along at a nice pace and then BAM! We are introduced to an annoying little girl with a smart mouth and a penchant for death, apparently. For me, things would have been so much better without her, as she does nothing to make her forced entry into the goings on worthwhile. The best way I can describe her is when Arcee was brought in to the 80s Transformers cartoon. The only reason she existed was for the female fans. I believe this little girl exists for something similar, just so little girls can have a female presence on the screen.

Design. While I do love the animation of this film, I wasn’t too pleased with the design of the characters. These are some ugly human beings. The Boxtrolls actually look better. Now, when I say that, I am speaking from an attractiveness angle and not aesthetically. I know that British people are stereotypically known for having horrible teeth, but good grief! Also, the upper crust of this town sure didn’t look any different from those that lived in the slums. How is that?!? Think about Rango for a minute. The animals in there are horrible looking, yes, but remember that is a bit of a western and they have that dirty, dusty western look that many people had in westerns (unless they were a major character). The same kind of thought process should have been used with these people. It appears that this was set in the Victorian era, so make the people look like that, rather than sewer rats in nice clothes!

Importance of cheese. Cheese, oh wondrous cheese! I love cheese, be it by the slice, on a sandwich, toast, burger, or in block form, but I have nothing on the people in this town. Wow! They take cheese to a whole new level. Up until now, I thought the most cheese obsessed character was Monterey Jack from Chip & Dale’s Rescue Rangers, but he has nothing on out villain Archibald Sinister, who ironically has some kind of allergy to the stuff. What I find most appalling, though, is how cheese takes precedence over the hideous little girl, for the leader of the White Hat society, and apparent mayor of the town. Can we say problem?

When I first heard about The Boxtrolls, I thought it was going to be some light, fun flick, but this turned out to be far from the truth. This is a fairly dark film, but it has its cute moments. Recently, I rewatched Mary and Maxand it had the same tone, if you will. The voice cast is outstanding, though I couldn’t help but think of Moss from The IT Crowd everytime I heard Richard Ayoade’s voice. Both kids and adults will find something that appeals to them. In the theater I was in tonight, the little kids were cracking up through a lot of it, so there you go. Do I recommend this? Yes, very much so. It is most definitely worth a watch!

4 out of 5 stars

Barefoot in the Park

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , on September 30, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Corie (Jane Fonda), a free spirited young woman, and Paul Bratter (Robert Redford), a more conservative, less free-spirited man, are a recently married couple, who move into a fifth floor apartment in Greenwich Village (one of the ongoing jokes is the fact that everyone has to climb so many stairs to get to the apartment). Corie decorates the small, leaky apartment, turning it into a picturesque little home for the two. One of the many odd people living in the apartment building, the quirky Victor Velasco (Charles Boyer), befriends Corie, often even flirting with her. He lives in the attic of the building, once even climbing through the Bratters’ apartment window to get to his. Victor helps Corie with the apartment, teaching her how to work the seemingly broken heating and plumbing.

Corie sets up a dinner date with herself, Paul, their new friend and neighbor Victor, and Corie’s mother, Ethel Banks (Mildred Natwick) in a scheme to get Corie’s mother to fall for Victor; Corie feels that her mother is lonely now that she lives alone and needs love. Victor takes them all to an Albanian restaurant on Staten Island where he knows the owner. There, the group drinks, and Corie and Victor get up to dance with the belly dancer, while Paul and Ethel watch in embarrassment and awe. Afterwards, Corie and Victor return to the apartment in high energy as Paul and Ethel drag themselves with fatigue. As Victor escorts Ethel outside, Corie and Paul begin an argument over their differences. Corie feels her adventurous spirit is not equal to Paul’s cautious demeanor. One of the examples she gives is that he would not go barefoot in the park with her one evening. His excuse was that it was freezing. Corie says she will kick Paul out and get a big dog to protect her from him. Paul says maybe it will finally allow her to have someone who will go barefoot in the park with her. They eventually go to sleep, Corie in their tiny bedroom and Paul sleeping on the couch under a hole in the skylight on a snowy February night.

The next day, Paul comes home with a fever, but Corie still insists she wants a divorce. The two spend an awkward time together in their apartment before Corie kicks Paul out. She then gets a call from her aunt, saying that Ethel did not come home. Scared, Corie begins to panic, but eventually finds out that her mother was at Victor’s apartment. Apparently, while Victor was escorting her to her home in New Jersey the night prior, Ethel slipped on some ice, and Victor took her back to his apartment where they spent the night. Strangely, Ethel was wearing nothing but her undergarments and Victor’s Japanese kimono. Fearing for what seemed obvious, it turned out that Victor had Ethel’s dress drycleaned.

Meanwhile, drunk, Paul skips work and sits in Washington Square Park. With her mother’s advice, Corie goes out searching for Paul and finds him, drunk and running shoeless and barefoot through the park. The once cautious Paul is now a fun loving drunk while cautious Corie chases after him in order to get him to sober up. Eventually, Paul says it’s his apartment too and he’s going back home. Corie follows. Back at the apartment, Paul, still fairly drunk, climbs onto the roof of the apartment. Scared he might fall, Corie begs him to come down while speaking to him through the hole in the glass ceiling. He says he will only come down if she repeats after him. He wants her to admit that her husband is a crazy drunk, when a few nights before she scolded him for being so cautious and practical even when he is drunk. Meanwhile, realizing where he is, Paul becomes scared after almost falling off the building. Corie tries to climb up onto the roof to help him down but Paul does not want her to leave him. Corie asks Paul to sing an Albanian folk song they had heard at the restaurant that Victor has taken them to. While he sings, Corie climbs up to the roof to help him down. A crowd of onlookers starts to gather in the street, watching along, including Corie’s mother, Ethel, and her new love, Victor. When Corie reaches Paul, they kiss and climb back down as the crowd cheers on.


A few months back, I was researching something, I forgot what, and Barefoot in the Park was listed as one of the best film for what I was looking for. Since then, it has just been holding a place in my Netflix queue, until today (the last day it is going to be available, coincidentally). Does this flick live up to the praise that has been bestowed upon it? Let’s find out, shall we?

What is this about?

A pair of newlyweds — he, a stuffed-shirt lawyer, she, a free spirit — attempt to adapt to each other and life in a small Greenwich Village flat.

What did I like?

Couple’s chemistry. How many times have we seen a newlywed couple in film that has little to no chemistry together? Sometimes we come across a pair that even appear to despise and detest each other. Well, with the coupling of Robert Redford and (the still smoking hot) Jane Fonda, we get a couple that not only looks the part, but they really convey that sense of love that you would see in a pair of newlyweds if you were to meet them in person.

Boy-er, oh Boy-er. I don’t know much about Charles Boyer, except that Walt Disney talked him out of retirement to sing the French lyrics to the theme from my favorite Disney film, The Aristocats and then there is that episode of I Love Lucy where he plays himself playing an actor who looks like him. This is my first chance seeing the guy act, even if it is a bit more eccentric character than what he is known for. It isn’t very hard to see why women were swooning over this guy back in the day. He has the talent, sophistication, and looks that would be sure to drive the ladies crazy. Think of him as a French Denzel Washington, if you want a modern day comparison.

Comedy. Being that this is a romantic comedy, you can never be too sure which genre is going to be more prominent, the comedy or the romance (drama). Believe it or not, there isn’t much in the way of drama to be found, save for the denouement in the film’s final 15 minutes or so. I was pleasantly surprised. No, this isn’t a laugh out loud flick, but it does provide a few chuckles and never gets too serious, which is right up my alley. Surely, I’m not the only one tired of seeing dark and seriousness at every turn, right?

What didn’t I like?

Turn on a dime. I know that women are prone to mood swings, but Jane Fonda takes the cake! First off, the film starts with her not being secure with the marriage, even though it hadn’t even been an hour, yet! Later on, she suddenly turns into a bitch because of a difference of opinion between she and Redford. Slight differences are nothing to end a marriage over. Hell, if they’re that big of a deal, then why even get married in the first place, I ask you! I couldn’t take Fonda’s going from sweet and innocent lover girl to raging bitch, sorry.

Step by step. A running gag throughout the film is that the happy couple lives at the top of a 6 story building with no elevator, so everyone has to walk up the stairs, which leaves them out of breath and ready to collapse by the time they get up there. Two thing about this. First, if they are so out of shape that this wears them out, they probably wouldn’t even make it that far, but if they did, I seriously doubt they would be panting like they had just run the Boston Marathon. Second, it was a nice gag the first 2 or 3 times, but the joke go old quick, as they wore it out very quickly.

The play’s the thing. I’m not really sure if this is good or bad, but at times, the film feels as if it happening on stage. For those that don’t know, this is based on the play of the same name. Some of the stage direction, for lack of a better term, works while at other times it just seems as if they copied and pasted movements and sets as a way to save money, rather than produce a quality product.

So, after all that, I bet you’re still wondering why this is called Barefoot in the Park, right? Well, that is a simple answer. The phrase refers to the carefree lifestyle which Redford is not accustomed. Redford is a straight-laced, conservative type, but after he is a bit liquored up, he lets go and dances “barefoot in the park”. So, do I recommend this film? Yes and no. What I mean by that is that while it is a very well-made and film, I would not recommend it. In the end you, have to make the decision,

4 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 9/25

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on September 25, 2014 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!!!

I’ve been thinking lately about how much video games have changed since I was a kid. I mean, the NES and Game Boy that I had back then can’t hold a candle to the almost realistic looking graphics of today’s PS3 (or 4) and Xbox 360.

This made me think of a movie from back in the day that I seem to remember enjoying, but was nothing more than a walking advertisement for Nintendo products. I’ll stop talking writing now and let you enjoy the video game awesomeness that is The Wizard.


Klondike Annie

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on September 20, 2014 by Mystery Man

Klondike Annie


Mae West butts heads with Victor McLaglen in Raoul Walsh’s Klondike Annie, but the real victor was the Legion of Decency, whose censorship strictures transformed a saucy and spicy gumbo into something closer to chicken noodle soup. West plays Rose Carlton, the kept woman of Chan Lo (Harold Huber), who takes her from walking the streets to pacing the floors of her high rent apartment. Rose ends up killing Chan and beats it from San Francisco to the frozen north. She boards a ship where burly sea captain Bull Brackett (McLaglen) takes a shine to her; when he finds out she killed Chan, he blackmails her into coming up and seeing him sometime. Boarding the ship in Seattle is missionary Annie Alden (Helen Jerome Eddy), who dies on the way to Alaska. Rose assumes Annie’s identity and, upon arrival in Alaska proceeds to preach the Good Book, saving sinners by unorthodox methods. Mountie Jack Forrest (Philip Reed) arrives in town searching for Chan’s murderer and he falls in love with Rose, unaware that the woman he loves is the killer he seeks


I really reached in the obscure classic section for Klondike Annie, but with Mae West movies, except for say 2 or 3 of them, that’s what you have to do. Sometimes you find a real gem and other times you find a dud that make you wish time would fly by faster so that it would be over. So, which one of those categories does this one fall, I wonder?

What is this about?

Mae West plays Rose Carlton, the kept woman of Chan Lo (Harold Huber), who takes her from walking the streets to pacing the floors of her high rent apartment. Rose ends up killing Chan and beats it from San Francisco to the frozen north. She boards a ship where burly sea captain Bull Brackett (McLaglen) takes a shine to her; when he finds out she killed Chan, he blackmails her into coming up and seeing him sometime. Boarding the ship in Seattle is missionary Annie Alden (Helen Jerome Eddy), who dies on the way to Alaska. Rose assumes Annie’s identity and, upon arrival in Alaska proceeds to preach the Good Book, saving sinners by unorthodox methods. Mountie Jack Forrest (Philip Reed) arrives in town searching for Chan’s murderer and he falls in love with Rose, unaware that the woman he loves is the killer he seeks.

What did I like?

Two hats. Mae West was quite the talented and somewhat underrated actress. Not only did she star in quite the collection of motion pictures, but many of them were plays that she had written, such as this one. I think we’ve all see films and TV shows these days where someone attempts to wear more than one hat, in the process giving the audience a subpar effort either with their acting or the other task they have chosen to do (direct, produce, write, etc.) West was able to write and star with no problem. I wonder why it is such a chore to do this nowadays.

These curves form a triangle. Mae West was a bona-fide curvy bombshell (possibly with the help of a corset). Throw in her sexy way of speaking and it is no wonder men were falling over her. As you imagine, these men eventually butt heads with West in the middle. Usually, I’m no fan of love triangles, mostly because I’ve seen so many of them, but because this was an afterthought of the film, rather than the focal point, as it tends to be in romantic comedies of today, I was able to tolerate and even like what they did.

Era. Today, it seems like Keirra Knightley won’t do a film unless it is set in the 16th-18th century. I’m beginning to think Mae West was the same way. Of the films of hers that I’ve seen, they all seem to be set in the 18th century. I wonder if this is because it gives her an excuse to wear a corset or if it is because that era fits her style better than the stuffy time in which she lived. At any rate, she knows what works for her!

What didn’t I like?

Subdue her. It is no secret that West has an on-screen persona that can best be described as larger than life. However, someone somewhere made the decision to pull her back a little bit with this film, so we get a more subdued performance. I wish I could say that I liked it, but I didn’t. Here is a fact, West plays a similar character in most of the films she’s in, I can only speak for the handful I’ve seen, of course. The same thing can be said today with Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, Craig Robinson, etc. When you find something that works for you, work it until they can’t take it anymore, I suppose. Having Mae West pull it back did nothing for her character, except make her less interesting. The only time she should have been subdued was when she was impersonating that missionary.

Censored = chopped up. It is my understanding that more than a few scenes had to be cut from this film because they were risqué and offensive for the time, such as West dressing up the recently deceased missionary woman as a prostitute. These scenes were enough to get this film banned in some places, such as Georgia. What’s the big deal, though? Well, with these censored cuts, it makes the film very choppy. For all her talents, I don’t believe Mae West was very adept at editing because the seamless way these scenes should flow in and out of each other just isn’t there. I don’t blame her. I blame the censors!!!

Death of a Chinaman. Sakes alive! People back then just didn’t care who they offended when it came to race, did they? I guess not, considering the history of race relations in this country. The first 5-10 minutes of this film are in a sort of Chinatown setting, complete with actual Asians, except for the guy that is interested in or married to (I’m not quite sure which it is) West’s character. This guy is about as white as they come, just with a fu Manchu mustache and a bad accent. All I can do is shake my had at this.

I don’t think anyone will ever say that Klondike Annie is Mae West’s best picture, but I don’t think that they’ll say it is her worst, either. This is just on of those films that got made because it could possibly make some money for the studio (my, some things never change). West did a masterful job writing and acting this film, but there is just something about it that doesn’t quite give it that magic spark needed so that I would be willing to brag on and on about it. That being said, this is worth a watch if you get the chance, just don’t go out of your way to do so. Save that trip for West’s better known films, like My Little Chickadee and She Done Him Wrong.

3 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 9/18

Posted in Trailer Thursday with tags on September 18, 2014 by Mystery Man

It’s Trailer Thursday!

This week, I came across this trailer for a movie that I need to track down. A non-musical Gene Kelly film. As much of a fan as I am of the guy, I haven’t seen any of his non-musicals. Also, look at this cast, Kelly, Lana Turner, Vincent Price, Angela Lansbury, etc.

I’ll be checking it out, but what do you think of the trailer for The Three Musketeers?

House at the End of the Street

Posted in Movie Reviews, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The movie opens with a young psychotic girl who murders her parents with a hammer in the middle of a stormy night.

Four years later, a newly divorced woman, medical doctor Sarah Cassidy (Elisabeth Shue), and her 17-year-old daughter Elissa (Jennifer Lawrence) move to a small upscale town. Their house is near the house where the massacred family lived. Carrie Anne Jacobson had killed her parents, then fled into the forest and was never seen again. Carrie Anne’s brother, Ryan Jacobson (Max Thieriot), is the sole survivor. Ryan now lives alone and is hated by his neighbors; Bill Weaver (Gil Bellows), a local police officer, is Ryan’s only supporter.

The mother-daughter relationship becomes rocky and Elissa starts a relationship with Ryan against her mother’s wishes, finding Ryan to be lonely but a sweet boy. Ryan confides in her that he accidentally injured Carrie Anne when they were little; he was supposed to be watching her while their parents were getting high on drugs. The resulting brain damage from the accident made her extremely aggressive, leading to their parents’ murder. It is revealed that Ryan has secretly been taking care of a seemingly now-grown Carrie Anne (Eva Link) in a hidden room. When Carrie Anne escapes, Ryan accidentally kills her while trying to hide her. In grief, he goes to the diner, where he meets a kind waitress named Peggy (Jordan Hayes).

After the unruly high school boys pick a fight with Ryan and he flees, Elissa drives to his house and subdues the fire the boys started. She finds tampons in the kitchen garbage and suspiciously explores the house until she finds the secret room and is attacked by Carrie Anne, who is actually revealed to be Peggy. Ryan restrains “Carrie Anne” while frantically screaming at Elissa to leave. Elissa finds blue contacts and Peggy’s wallet in the kitchen. It is clear that Ryan has kidnapped the waitress and attempted to make her look like Carrie Anne. When Elissa tries to leave, Ryan knocks her out.

Elissa wakes to find herself tied up. Ryan reveals that Carrie Anne actually died during the swing accident. He says his parents punished him for it and implies that he was the one that killed them. He explains that he wants Elissa, but needs Carrie Anne and cannot have both. Officer Weaver goes to Ryan’s house to look for Elissa but Ryan stabs him to death. Elissa frees herself and tries to escape but Ryan subdues her and traps her in his car trunk with Peggy’s dead body. Sarah arrives and is also stabbed by Ryan. Elissa struggles out and ultimately shoots Ryan with Weaver’s gun.

Elissa and Sarah move out; Ryan is placed in a psychiatric ward. A flashback shows young Ryan about to blow out birthday candles. His mother calls him “Carrie Anne” and when Ryan protests that his name is Ryan, not Carrie Anne, she slaps him violently; it is revealed that his parents forced him to dress and act like Carrie Anne after she died and most likely abused Ryan when he refused to go along with their fantasy, thus setting Ryan on his troubled path.


Ever wonder what Jennifer Lawrence did between Winter’s Bone and when she became a big star? Well, unless I’m mistakes one of those films that studios were sitting on was House at the End of the Street. True, it may be one of those films that was made but never released, but could it be that is actually worth watching, or should you skip it?

What is this about?

Newly divorced Sarah and her daughter Elissa find the house of their dreams in a small, upscale, rural town. But when startling and unexplainable events begin to happen, Sarah and Elissa learn the town is in the shadows of a chilling secret.

What did I like?

Oh, Mother. 99.999% of the time when a mother and daughter are cast they don’t have any similarities. Sometimes they seem to defy genetics and other times it appears as if the daughter is older or about the same age as the mother. In the case of Elisabeth Shue and Jennifer Lawrence, while they don’t resemble each other, they are passable as mother and daughter, which is something that can’t be said for many other mother daughter pairs. Kudos to the casting director for putting these two together. If only they would have thrown Chelsea Handler in there and an aunt or something HA!

Fight club. In a pivotal scene, Max Thieriot’s character is getting beat up by all the kids at school. Why? He’s a social outcast and the whole town, with the exception of one cop, and of course Shue and Lawrence who have just moved there, hate him. Thieriot finally has enough, grabs this one kid’s ankle, snaps it in half, the crowd goes silent, and he runs off into the woods. It is a great scene because these hate mongering backwoods –insert colorful adjective– shouldn’t have attacked his car for no reason, let alone jumped him. Karma is a bitch, now isn’t it?

Yep, he’s a Bates. Speaking of Thieriot, some of you may recognize him from the current show, Bates Motel. As I was watching him in this film, especially in the later half, where he shows how unstable he is, I couldn’t help but wonder if this was a sort of audition for that show, because it shows how much he actually can fit into the Bates clan, even if he doesn’t really seem to (based on the episodes I’ve seen, where he’s just the stepbrother). The creepy character he portrays in this film, though, is quite reminiscent of what Freddie Highmore has been able to do with Norman, with a hint of Dexter (dark passenger version), and with that contrast to the kind of stable college kid he had been portraying up to then, it is quite the interesting dual personality moment, for lack of a better term.

What didn’t I like?

No privacy. This seems like a nice, safe neighborhood. The kind of town we all dream of moving to at some point. However, I think Jennifer Lawrence’s character may have been taking advantage of the situation. Not only does she sneak/break into Thieiriot’s house while he’s running in the woods, she also goes through his trash. Sure, you can make the case that by doing so she found out some valuable information, but seriously, what right does she have to go through someone else’s garbage?

Pacing. As with every single other film in this genre, the film starts off ungodly slow and boring, as we are gradually introduced to the major players, get some small talk, and the plot is set up. It isn’t until the aforementioned confrontation at the high school that things pick up and that isn’t until the film’s last 10-15 minutes! Surely the filmmakers could have given the audience something to tide us over until we get to that point, but nope. that was not the case. We just have to sit there and be bored, trying not to fall asleep.

Violent teens. I don’t want to come off sounding like the cranky old man when I say this but, what is with teenagers today? These kids not only randomly attack and destroy a car, they also beat Thieriot down, probably to death had he not retaliated, and then they go and attempt to set his house on fire, only to be thwarted by Jennifer Lawrence’s break in and dousing he curtains. Back in my day, all we would have done is some prank or a fight in the hallway at school, but to do all this is a bit much. I guess it is just the generational gap, but damn! That is rather scary if teens really think like this.

Where was the street in House at the End of the Street? It seemed like this was just a country road out in the middle of nowhere, or maybe that was just me. At any rate, I can see why this wasn’t released immediately after it was made. Things don’t play out in the way a solid horror or thriller should, but rather as a “scary” episode of one of these teen dramas on TV tend to do these days. That is the big problem with the film, in bends genres, which is fine, except it doesn’t seem to have a genre of its own. Jennifer Lawrence is above this film, even if it was made before she became a star. Elisabeth Shue does nothing but act as a paranoid mother. It is like she grew up from being the babysitter in Adventures in Babysitting, who was also on the paranoid side if you recall, to this mother who doesn’t want her daughter to do anything, apparently. Do I recommend this? No, there aren’t enough redeeming qualities to waste your time on this, unless you just want to see Jennifer Lawrence running (or should I say bouncing) around in a wife beater, but if you want to do that, just watch her in American Hustle or Silver Linings Playbook, where you get plenty of eye candy from her. I really don’t know what the audience was for this film, but it wasn’t me.

2 3/4 out of 5 stars

Three Men and a Baby

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on September 15, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Architect Peter Mitchell (Tom Selleck), cartoonist Michael Kellam (Steve Guttenberg) and actor Jack Holden (Ted Danson) are happy living their lives as bachelors in their lofty New York City apartment where they have frequent parties and flings with different women. Their lives are disrupted when a baby named Mary arrives on their doorstep one day. A note with her indicates that she is Jack’s, the result of an affair with a recent costar. She arrives in his absence – he is in Turkey shooting a B movie, leaving Peter and Michael to fend for themselves in taking care of her. Prior to leaving, Jack had made arrangements with a director friend to have a “package” delivered to the apartment as a favor. Before Mary’s arrival, he calls and leaves a message with Peter and Michael informing them of the “package” and to keep it a secret per the director friend’s wishes. When Mary arrives, they mistakenly believe she is the “package”, even though there is a note from her mother.

Peter and Michael are totally befuddled on how to care for Mary, and Peter leaves to go buy whatever supplies are needed. While he is gone, Mrs. Hathaway (Cynthia Harris), the landlady, delivers a small box (which is the actual “package” containing heroin) to the apartment and Michael tosses it aside while trying to keep Mary under control. After Peter returns, they eventually figure out her proper care, right down to diaper changes, baths, and feedings.

The next day, two men (who are drug dealers) arrive at the apartment to collect the package. Peter and Michael mistakenly give Mary to them instead, and shortly after they leave, Peter discovers the actual package. He runs downstairs to intercept the dealers, but trips and stumbles, and the package’s contents spill. He gathers the heroin and retrieves Mary from the dealers, but retains the heroin while allowing them to take a can of powdered milk. After the exchange, a police officer attempts to ticket them for illegal parking, but they escape. The officer accosts Peter and detains him in the apartment until Sgt. Melkowitz (Philip Bosco), a narcotics officer, arrives to question him and Michael about the drugs. They successfully hide them from Melkowitz during the interrogation, in which they learn that Jack’s friend is a drug dealer as well. Melkowitz leaves with suspicions and puts them and the apartment under surveillance.

Peter and Michael are able to persuade Mrs. Hathaway to babysit Mary while they work. Once they arrive home, however, they find Mrs. Hathaway bound and gagged and the apartment ransacked, apparently by the dealers demanding the heroin. Mary is safe, however. The men continue with their care of her, adjusting to surrogate fatherhood and growing attached to her, until Jack returns.

Once Jack returns, Peter and Michael question him about the entire drug deal and Mary. He replies that he knew nothing about the heroin and initially denies everything about Mary until he reads the note from her mother, Sylvia. He then recalls the affair that eventually led to Mary being born. Peter and Michael do not hesitate in taking their revenge and passing all responsibility of looking after her to Jack, but he quickly grows to love her.

Later, Peter discovers in the mail a news clipping of Jack’s director friend being hospitalized after a mugging (presumably by the drug dealers), with a handwritten note, “Don’t let this happen to you.” They formulate a plan to meet and trap them when they negotiate a deal to deliver the illicit goods. With a recording of the conversation, they prove their innocence to Melkowitz and the dealers are arrested.

By now, they have fully embraced their role as Mary’s guardians. However, one morning, Sylvia (Nancy Travis) arrives, asking for her back intending to take her to London to live with her family. Handing her over, they quickly find themselves miserable and desperately missing her. Deciding to stop her and Sylvia from leaving, they rush to the airport to try and persuade the latter to stay, but they arrive just as her plane leaves. Defeated, they return to the apartment, where they find both Sylvia and Mary. Sylvia explains she doesn’t want to give up her career but can’t do this if she has to raise Mary alone, so Peter quickly invites her and Mary to move in with them with Jack and Michael’s agreement, and she agrees


Three Men and a Baby. There really couldn’t be a better title for this film, except it doesn’t tell you everything that goes on in the film. However, it does bring you in, doesn’t it? I had to get this one in before next week, since it will be leaving Netflix streaming, but do I need an excuse to travel back to the 80s?

What is this about?

When an infant named Mary is left on their doorstep, three bachelor roommates channel their feminine side and become surrogate parents to the tyke.

What did I like?

3 distinctive guys. Here we have 3 guys living in a rather large penthouse apartment. Nine times out of ten, we would get the token homosexual overtones, 2 of the guys would be carbon copies of each other, or they would be fighting/sharing the same woman. None of these things happen, though. Care was taken into making each of them into their own character. I can appreciate that decision and wish this was done more often.

Art. When the film begins, we see Steve Guttenberg’s character painting a mural on the outside of their place depicting him and his roommates. Throughout the film and even the last thing we see is the art on the wall. You can’t help but notice how much time was spent on those walls and the fact that the filmmakers did all but make it a part of the plot is even more remarkable.

Sacrifice. So, Baby Mary is left on the doorstep. Ted Danson’s character, who is the father, is over in Turkey shooting a movie, leaving Guttenberg and Tom Selleck’s characters to take care of her. Now, these are two bachelors who know little to nothing about babies, but even more impressive is the fact that they didn’t just drop her off at some orphanage or the police, but rather put their lives on hold for this bundle of joy. Admit it, if you were in the same situation, that kid would not have stayed!

What didn’t I like?

Drugs. It wouldn’t be an 80s movies without some kind of drug smuggling plot. I have two things to say about this. First, it heroin and there is a baby. It would have been so easy to just stick the stuff in with the baby powder and then let events happen organically from there. Second, this whole drug smuggling thing seemed like it was added last minute by some yuppie studio exec who thought this film needed a bit of action. You could literally take the drug stuff out and it wouldn’t hurt the film in the slightest. Perhaps replace it with more funny stuff showing how clueless these guys are when it came to baby stuff would be a nice replacement.

Cheers. Ted Danson’s character brought to mind Jon Stewart from Big Daddy. He is a major part of the plot, but for most of the film, he’s gone. When he does appear, the chemistry is off between he and his roommates, not to mention the fact that they try to make him a bit on the airheaded, loopy side. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I just wasn’t a fan of Danson’s character. Perhaps it is best to stick to reruns of Cheers.

Mother of convenience. Of course, after the film has had its big action filled climax, the mother (who is strangely British) appears, and we have another subplot with her that takes a few minutes. I don’t have any issue with her showing up at the end of the film, because it makes sense for her to not be around, given the story. However, I do take issue with how the shoehorned in a subplot where they chase her down. Was this really necessary? It just seemed like filler to me. If they really wanted to put that in there, since this is an 80s flick, a montage would have worked just as well, if not better, if you ask me.

I really don’t have much to say in conclusion about Three Men and a Baby, partially because the internet is acting up and I need to get this done, saved, and posted before it goes out and I lose all the work I’ve done tonight. For the most part this comedy will make you laugh, especially when Tom Selleck goes to the store to get baby supplies. Unfortunately, they don’t keep that up, which is one of the big flaws of this film. The potential for hilarity was pushed aside for the drug smuggling angle and/or baby mama drama at the end. Still, this is a film worth watching. Yes, I highly recommend it, as you can watch this at nearly any time during the day or night. Give it a shot, why don’t you?

4 3/4 out of 5 stars


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

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

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

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

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


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

What is this about?

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

What did I like?

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

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

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

What didn’t I like?

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

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

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

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

5 out of 5 stars

Trailer Thursday 9/11

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

It’s Trailer Thursday!

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



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

The Haunted Mansion

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

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

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

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

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

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


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

What is this about?

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

What did I like?

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

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

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

What didn’t I like?

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

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

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

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

3 out of 5 stars

Jersey Girl

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

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

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

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

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

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

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


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

What is this about?

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

What did I like?

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

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

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

What didn’t I like?

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

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

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

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

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Can’t Buy Me Love

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , on September 7, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Ronald Miller (Dempsey) is a typical high school nerd living in Arizona. He has spent all summer mowing lawns to save up for a telescope. However, at an opportune moment he makes a deal with popular cheerleader Cynthia “Cindy” Mancini (Peterson) to “rent” her for $1,000. Cindy borrowed a suede jacket that belonged to her mother and needs to replace it after Quint (Cort McGown) spilled red wine on Cindy at a party. Having few options except telling her mom the truth, she reluctantly agrees to help him look “cool” by pretending to be his girlfriend for a month even though she already has a boyfriend named Bobby who is away at college. Both agree never to reveal their financial arrangement.

Ronald then trades his nerdy-but-loyal friends for the shallow popular students and undergoes a complete clothing and hair makeover at Cindy’s direction. Over the course of the month, they discover each other’s individuality and are drawn together. Cindy soon starts to genuinely like Ronald. She opens up to him as he washes her car at her house, she goes inside to get a poem that she’d written that meant the world to her and lets him read it. She gets to know him better as he reveals his interests in astronomy and space travel. They gaze at the moon and he tells her how when they are their parents age “people will be working there and living there… maybe even us.” On the last date which Ronald has ‘paid’ for Cindy then hints that she’d like to kiss Ronald, signifying that she has real feelings for him, but he misunderstands and assumes she wants to talk about their breakup. They dramatically “break up” in front of a crowd at school but Ronald takes things too far and says some hurtful things about Cindy in front of their friends. She becomes cool and distant but warns him that popularity is hard work and he needs to make sure he “stays [him]self”. The next day, Cindy appears disgusted with Ronald when she sees him behaving arrogantly at school and becomes jealous when she sees him flirting with her best friends Barbara and Patty, who he later takes out on dates.

Ronald continues playing “cool” by hanging out with the jocks and hot chicks. He takes Patty to a dance at school, where he performs a dance he learned from the African Culture channel on television—he mistakenly believed to be watching American Bandstand. At first the other kids are mystified but they soon join in and Ronald’s new ‘trendy’ dancing makes him the most popular guy in school. On Halloween night, he and some other boys drive to the house of Kenneth (Courtney Gains), one of Ronald’s friends and the jocks test his loyalty by coercing him to hurl dog feces at Kenneth’s house. Kenneth is lying in wait and catches Ronald but lets him go before his dad can call the police and ignores Ronald the next day at school.

At a New Year’s Eve party Ronald gets drunk, goes into the bathroom with a girl and has sex with her. Cindy walks by and hears Ronald reciting to this girl the very poem that she (Cindy) had written. She’s completely devastated, so she starts drinking heavily. Later, as a surprise Bobby (Cindy’s boyfriend) shows up at the party from the University of Iowa as he still has strong ties with most of the athletes. After he learns about her relationship with Ronald through a few of the athletes, Cindy is brutally dumped in front of her friends. In anger and frustration, she tells the party-goers the truth about her relationship with Ronald and his “cool” pretenses. She scolds her friends for falling for his act and for being “a bunch of followers.”

“Our little plan worked, didn’t it Ronald?” Cindy says as she squashes his popularity—and places Ronald at the bottom rung of the high school social order. The ‘jocks’ once again tease him and throw food at him— but the nerdy crowd has abandoned him as well. He is distressed at being socially ostracized and his attempts to reconcile with both Cindy and Kenneth are rebuffed.

However, a moment comes to redeem himself when he defends his best friend Kenneth against the onslaught of Quint. Ronald points out that they were all friends at one time. When they were nine, Quint had fallen out of their tree house and broken his arm, they carried him twelve blocks to the hospital as he cried all the way. He tells them that the cool/nerd dynamic is “all bullshit, it’s tough enough just being yourself.” and walks away. Quint and Kenneth shake hands and the whole school applaud.

Cindy recognizes Ronald’s worth after that and the two reconcile when she decides to hop on the back of his riding lawn mower instead of hanging out with her popular friends. He asks her to prom and the two kiss as the title song plays. Closing credits roll while the two of them ride off into the sunset on the lawn mower.


So, raise your hand if when you saw the title Can’t Buy Me Love, you started singing the Beatles’ song. Don’t be ashamed, I know I did, much to the chagrin of my neighbors. Ladies, I know a good chunk of you watch Grey’s Anatomy and are head over heels in love with Patrick Dempsey, “McDreamy”, is it? Well, here is your chance to see him in one of his younger roles. Aside from that, what is that has people so enamored with this film, I wonder?

What is this about?

Ronald Miller is tired of being a nerd, and makes a deal with one of the most popular girls in school to help him break into the “cool” clic. He offers her a thousand dollars to pretend to be his girlfriend for a month. It succeeds, but he soon learns that the price of popularity may be higher than he expected.

What did I like?

Good Samaritan. There’s an old saying that goes, “nice guys finish last.” Watching the early parts of this film, you’d think that wasn’t just a saying, but a law equal to Newton’s laws of physics or the law of gravity. However, everything turns around for our star when he does a good deed for the girl of his dreams. I’m actually a little jealous.  I had plenty of crushes in high school and did good deeds for them all the time (still doing so for a few), but did I ever get the chance to date them? Nope! Oh well, c’est la vie. Movie magic is alive and well with this one, folks.

Win them over. Back in the day, there used to be talk shows on during the day, some classy and others…not so much. A frequent topic of the latter was how in the years since high school, someone can change from geek to chic. One of my good friends from high school and college actually managed to do this, so it does happen. However, that’s over the span of years, not the course of a few days. It takes some real talent to win over the jocks and cheerleaders the way Dempsey does, especially coming from the nerd “class.”

There was a time… Growing up as a military brat, I didn’t grow up with the same group of friends, so I cannot relate. However, many of my friends did have that experience and share their tales of how people they knew at one time changed as the years went by and they became interested in different things. It is just a natural part of growing up. I am glad that this film touched on the topic, if ever so briefly, though. Chances are any bullies, mean girls, etc., that torture today’s juveniles actually were their friend not that long ago.

What didn’t I like?

Superjock returns. We have a senior uber hottie who won’t give any of the boys at the school the time of day. Surely, there has to be a man somewhere for her, right? Of course, it is the star jock that graduated last year and went on to the big school (Iowa in this case), leaving her longing for him to return, especially since he doesn’t make it back for the holidays. When he does come back, it sets up perfectly for a showdown with our made over nerd antagonist. However, that confrontation never happens, as all it results in is the inevitable break up between jock and hottie. As an audience member, you sort of feel short-changed, but at the same time, you don’t. Superjock was never developed as a character, just mentioned here and there and a brief TV interview in the opening scenes.

Prostitution. This is one of those films that could not be made today. Not only because of the different attitude of society, but because, unless I’m mistaken, paying for someone to be your girlfriend for a month, is basically prostitution, which is illegal (in most states). Had this been blackmail, that would have been a more believable offense, for lack of a better term. Spending $1000 on a girl who won’t give you the time of day, though. That just seems a bit much, especially since it cost him the telescope he had saved up all summer for.

Break up. After the month long indentured servitude ends, there is a break up that occurs. Of course, since the relationship is fake, so is the break up. So, what is my problem with that little scenario? Nothing with the scene, but rather the fact that we get the sense that something more was meant to happen. It was as if Dempsey’s character was doing it just for fun, but Amanda Peterson’s character was a bit more invested. Perhaps it was some of the low blows he threw at her, I couldn’t tell you. I just know that I wasn’t satisfied with how it all played out.

As far as cheesy teen romantic comedies from the 80s go, Can’t Buy Me Love is actually pretty decent. However, with that being said, in comparison with other films in the same vein, it falls flat. I felt that it was making an attempt to be more serious than it had any business being, but at the same time, as one review said, “…all it truly wants is to be popular, just like the other kids’ movies, so it sells off its originality.” Still, this somehow manages to keep it charm, even after all these years. Perhaps it is all the love for Patrick Dempsey? Maybe the fact that a very young Seth Green appears? Who knows, really? Do I recommend this? I have to say only if you’re a fan of 80s romantic comedies. Otherwise this is just going to trudge along, as it did for me. There are better rom-coms out there to be viewed.

3 out of 5 stars

Revisited: Undercover Brother

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film begins with a back story of how black culture’s popularity with the American public began to decline in the 1980s, when style and originality began to lose appeal in the public eye due to the persistent efforts of “The Man” (Robert Trumbull), a powerful Caucasian man in control of a secret organization that seeks to undermine the African-American community as well as the cultures of other minorities. The Man is infuriated that Gen. Warren Boutwell (Billy Dee Williams), a U.S. Army general based on Colin Powell, is considering running for president, and his lackey Mr. Feather (Chris Kattan) informs him of a mind control drug which The Man uses to make Boutwell abort his plans and instead open a fried chicken franchise. The B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D., a secret organization that battles The Man’s influence, determines The Man is behind Boutwell’s change of heart, and recruits a freelance agent named Undercover Brother (Eddie Griffin) to aid them.

Undercover Brother joins B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. which is made up of the Chief (Chi McBride), Conspiracy Brother (Dave Chappelle), Smart Brother (Gary Anthony Williams), Sistah Girl (Aunjanue Ellis), and Lance (Neil Patrick Harris), an intern who is the only white man in the organization due to affirmative action. Undercover Brother goes undercover as a new employee at a cigarette company owned by The Man, where Mr. Feather discovers his identity. He deploys a secret weapon that he calls “Black Man’s Kryptonite”, an attractive assassin named White She-Devil (Denise Richards). Posing as another new employee, she and Undercover Brother start dating, and she begins to make him do stereotypical “white” things, such as buying corduroy and khaki clothes, singing karaoke, and adopting a silly set of euphemisms. Meanwhile, The Man distributes his mind control drug through Boutwell’s fried chicken, infecting other black celebrities and making them act white.

Concerned with Undercover Brother’s unusual behavior, Sistah Girl attacks White She-Devil and convinces Undercover Brother to return to the fight. White-She-Devil turns on her own henchmen to save the two, revealing she has fallen in love with Undercover Brother. They return to the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D., where Smart Brother questions White She-Devil about The Man and Lance is officially made part of the group when he declares his desire to abolish bigotry after watching Roots. The group heads to an awards gala after they find out that James Brown is The Man’s next target. Mr. Feather kidnaps Brown and takes him to The Man’s base. B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. secures an antidote for the mind control drug and follows via a transmitter placed on Brown, infiltrating the base posing as a cleaning crew, to rescue Brown and a mysterious “Candidate” that The Man plans to use to land a crushing blow to black culture.

Mr. Feather prepares to administer the drug to Brown and present him as a trophy to The Man, and Brown reveals himself as Undercover Brother in disguise. Mr. Feather sends his henchmen after B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D., who discover the Candidate is Boutwell, and is ordered by Mr. Feather to kill Undercover Brother. In the fighting, Conspiracy Brother accidentally begins the building’s self-destruct sequence. The B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. cures Boutwell and evacuate him from the building while Undercover Brother chases Mr. Feather to the roof. The Man’s helicopter circles overhead and leaves, The Man abandoning Mr. Feather for failing him. Mr. Feather jumps onto the helicopter’s landing gear as it flies away, and Undercover Brother uses his afro picks to impale Mr. Feather in the buttocks, causing him to fall into the water where he is eaten by a shark. However, The Man escapes. Undercover Brother survives the building’s self-destruct by leaping off the building and using his wide pant legs as parachutes. He and Sistah Girl kiss and leave the island, the world at peace.


I didn’t know this, but apparently there was an internet cartoon that was the inspiration for Undercover Brother. Strangely enough, if you try to look it up, most of the results that pop up are for this underrated cult film. The question is, what is it that scared people away from it when it was released and why is it not more widely known, if it is such a good film?

What is this about?

In this loopy comedy, a lone-wolf urban hero goes undercover as a preppy nerd to get to the bottom of things when a black general suddenly abandons a viable presidential bid to open a chain of fried-chicken restaurants.

What did I like?

Funky. At first glance, you might think this is a Blaxploitation film from the 70s, what with the music, afros, and whatnot, but that isn’t the case. Undercover Brother is just not with the times. His love for the 70s, though, led to some interesting music choices when it came to the soundtrack. If ever there was an excuse to play 70s funk, with the exception of the beginning of Pulp Fiction or your typical porn music, this was it. Boy does it make all the difference having authentic funk, as opposed to some generic lab music that could have been placed there instead.

Stereotypes. It has long been said that stereotypes hurt, even though they are funny and rooted in truth. Well, without stereotypes, this film would not exist. Take for instance the belief that white people love mayonnaise. I happen to know quite a few that don’t feel that way. Same goes for African-Americans and hot sauce I’ll refrain from mentioning the phallic cigarette example…you need to see that for yourself. Now, the situation UB gets into that exposes said stereotypes are quite hilarious and a big part of the comedy that is used in this film, so if you don’t understand and/or are offended by such musings, you might want to stay away.

Chemistry. When someone mentions chemistry as it pertains to a film, 9 times out 10 they are referring to the spark between the leading man and lady, especially if they have some kind of romantic angle. In this case, though, I’m going to speak on the chemistry between Undercover Brother and his archenemy, Mr. Feather, played by Eddie Griffin and Chris Kattan, respectively. First off, these are both vertically challenged comedians, shall we say, so putting them together opposite each other was a stroke of genius. Throw in their horrendous attempts at kung fu and a few one-liners, not to mention Kattan’s weird way of slipping into “blackness”, and these guys steal the show. You could almost have a film with just them going back and forth at each other…almost.

What didn’t I like?

Wet and Wild things. Denise Richards plays a character called “White She-Devil”. Before you laugh too hard, remember this a satire about Blaxploitation, racism, etc. Richards is best known for 3 things. A)She has always had a body to die for. B). She married Charlie Sheen. C). A certain scene from Wild Things. Even though no one in this film is at the top of their craft when it comes to acting, you can’t help but think that Richards wasn’t cast for her acting ability. This is further proven by the fact that she is lured into a catfight, which led to a shower scene with Sistah Girl. Again, this is nothing but spoof and satire, but it felt out of place, almost like the sprinkler scene in Scary Movie 2. Still, as a red-blooded, heterosexual male, I can’t say that I was complaining about what I saw.

Sitcom ending. In a time gone by, sitcoms would end with everyone gathered in the living room or somewhere, talking about what happened to them over the course of the episode and giving the audience the “moral of the story” For years, even South Park used this trope, as the episodes would all end with Kyle telling a tale that touches the heart of the town. Nothing that extreme will be heard here, but there is a speech after the climax that seems like it belongs in said sitcoms.

Dropping hints. All throughout the film, hints are dropped at something bigger. Be they the paranoia of Conspiracy Brother, the mad plot of “the Man”, the Affirmative action hiring of Neil Patrick Harris’ character, etc. Basically, it is obvious that this was mean for something greater, but that never came, which is a shame, but it is what it is, right?

Undercover Brother delivers on all the laughs, spoof, and satire that it is said to have done. With a soundtrack full of funk and a cast of characters that are sure to make you laugh, this film actually over achieved. I personally think there was too much focus placed on everyone but UB, including Lance the intern, James Brown, Smart Brother, and so on and the rest of the gang. Do I recommend it? My answer is only if you can handle it. No, there’s nothing objectionable in here, save for the aforementioned stereotypes. Give this one a shot sometime! Your laughter will thank me!

4 out of 5 stars