Archive for Alicia Silverstone

Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed

Posted in Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Mystery Inc. (Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby-Doo) attend the opening of an exhibition at the Coolsonian Criminology Museum commemorating their past solved cases with monster costumes on display. However, the celebrations are interrupted by the Evil Masked Figure who steals two costumes using the reanimated Pterodactyl Ghost. The gang are ridiculed by journalist Heather Jasper Howe who starts a smear campaign against them. Concluding an old enemy is the mastermind, the gang revisit old cases, dismissing the former Pterodactyl Ghost, Jonathan Jacobo, due to his death during a prison escape, they guess Jeremiah Wickles, the Black Knight Ghost’s portrayer, is the culprit.

Going to Wickles’ mansion, the gang find a book that serves as an instruction manual on how to create monsters. Shaggy and Scooby-Doo find a note inviting Wickles’ to visit the Faux Ghost nightclub. They are attacked by the Black Knight, but escape when Daphne holds him off. Shaggy and Scooby sneak into the Faux Ghost, speaking to Wickles, but learn he has resolved his ways. The rest of the gang discover the key ingredient to create the monsters is a substance called “randomonium” which can be found at the old silver mining town. They go to the museum, accompanied by the curator and Velma’s love interest Patrick Wisely, but discover the rest of the costumes have been stolen. The gang go to the mines, finding Wickles plans to turn it into an amusement park.

The gang then find the Monster Hive where the costumes are brought to life as real monsters. Shaggy and Scooby play around the with the machine’s control panel, brining several costumes to life, and the gang flee the city with the panel as the Evil Masked Figure terrorises the city. Escaping to their old high school clubhouse, the gang realise they can reverse the control panel’s power by altering its wiring. Captain Cutler’s Ghost emerges from the bayou, forcing the gang to head back to the mines, encountering the various monsters along the way. Velma encounters Patrick in the mines, finding a shrine dedicated to Jacobo, but Patrick proves his own innocence by rescuing Velma from falling through a cat walk.

The gang confront the Evil Masked Figure but the Tar Monster captures all of them save Scooby, who uses a fire extinguisher to freeze the Tar Monster’s body. He reactivates the control panel, transforming the costumes back to normal. The gang take the Evil Masked Figure to the authorities, unmasking him as Heather, but in turn reveal she is actually Jacobo in disguise, having escaped death and tried to get revenge on Mystery, Inc. Jacobo’s cameraman Ned is also arrested as an accomplice. Mystery, Inc. are praised as heroes once again in Coolsville.

REVIEW:

After foiling all those monsters in Coolsville, wouldn’t you think that Scooby-Doo and the gang would be bona fide star in their city? Big enough to perhaps even have a museum dedicated to their exploits? Be honest, you never really though about that, did you? Me neither, but the people behind Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed must have been big fans!

What is this about?

In this live-action adventure, friends Fred, Daphne, Velma, Shaggy and their canine buddy Scooby vow to put an end to a menacing scoundrel who plans to turn their town of Coolsville into the complete opposite.

What did I like?

They’re back! The original Scooby-Doo cartoon was before my time but, as a child of the 80s, there was another incarnation that would come on Saturday mornings. These days, I think you can catch Scooby on Boomerang, as well as some insult to his legacy on Cartoon Network. In this film, though, you can catch some of the more recognizable monsters from Scoob’s history. If there is nothing else to be said about this film, that is something to mention, as the monsters are a major part of the history of Scooby-Doo, just as the rogues gallery is a big part of Batman.

Velma. In Scooby-Doo, I was a bit critical of the sexualization of Velma. Make no mistake, I still feel this way, but this time around, they at least do it to comic effect. Take for instance the scene where she is wearing a pleather suit. First off, no way in the world would you ever catch Velma in that get-up. Second, they play up the weird noises as she is awkwardly playing coy to Seth Green’s character, who has a crush on her. If Velma must be seen in this light, and if you google Velma, you will see that there is more than a market for it, then I am glad the film decided to go this direction, which keeps with the character, rather than randomly give her cleavage, as in the last film.

Story. There have been many detractors about the film’s story, calling it to simple, dumbed down, etc. Well, here’s the thing, as much as everyone loves Scooby-Doo, we must remember that this wasn’t made for adults, but rather for kids. Saying that the plot, which actually isn’t bad if you think about it, is simple is like saying Requiem for a Dream is depressing. That’s common sense, people! The target audience for this film, though, eats it up, as well as some others, and that is what really matters, not what some old curmudgeon critic who has become jaded toward all film that isn’t “art” has to say.

What didn’t I like?

Effects. I don’t want to criticize the special effects too much, as this was made at a time when they weren’t that great, and it is a kid’s film, so they are going to have a different look to them. That said, the CG in this film is not that great. Taking into account that, as I said this is a kid’s film, the monsters have a cartoon look to them, which is fine. That fits the tone of the film, but I feel as if the bringing them to life aspect should have made them scarier. Take for instance the Tar Monster. He has the generic cartoon look to him. Why couldn’t he have been more of a terrorizing creature now that he is alive? Maybe that’s just my opinion on how the effects could have been better, though.

Meta-attempt. Poking fun at one’s self is great…to a point. The last film was all about the flaws of the cartoon and while this one scales that back, we are still forced to watch as Daphne questions what she brings to the gang, Fred ponders if he’s a good leader, etc. Can we not just get a Scooby-Doo movie where the gang has fun solving mysteries and busting monsters, without all this negativity? Is that too much to ask?

Flashback. Let me go back to the monsters for a minute. To explain to the younger viewers and refresh/remind the older viewers who these monsters were, the film uses a series of flashback to get the point across. I am okay with that, except that I feel it would have made more sense to show these monsters in their animated for, rather than create some faux history. Yes, I know showing clips from the cartoon in a live-action movie makes no sense, but surely there is some way there can be a compromise, right? I just wasn’t feeling the live-action flashbacks, I’m sorry.

Scooby-Doo 2: Monster Unleashed is almost a cartoon, if you really thin about it, but no one took the time to draw it. Personally, I like this film. It is a fun escape from reality. That doesn’t mean it is good, though. There is wasted talent, such as Alicia Silverstone, who has one good scene, and Seth Green, recycled jokes from the first film, bad CG, and a feeling as if the gang was just doing this because it was in their contracts. Add all this up and you have the reason this film didn’t make as much as its predecessor and the third film was cancelled (though I’m sure it would have been better than the prequels and everything Scooby related that has come out since). Do I recommend this? It is with a heavy heart, that I must say no. This is this the kind of film you catch while you are randomly flipping through channels, not something you willingly watch. Just go back and watch the first film, or even better, watch the cartoons!

3 out of 5 stars

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Revisited: Clueless

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 17, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) is a good-natured but superficial girl who is attractive, popular, and extremely wealthy. A few months shy of her sixteenth birthday, she has risen to the top of the high-school social scene, and is happy and self-assured in her insular, fashion-obsessed world. She lives in a Beverly Hills mansion with her father Melvin (Dan Hedaya), a ferocious $500-an-hour litigator; her mother has long since died, having succumbed to complications while undergoing liposuction surgery. Cher’s best friend is Dionne Davenport (Stacey Dash), who is also rich, pretty, and hip, and understands what it’s like to be envied.

Among the few people to find much fault with Cher is Josh (Paul Rudd), her socially conscious ex-stepbrother who visits during a break from college. Josh and Cher spar continually but without malice; she refers to him as “granola breath” and mocks his scruffy idealism, while he teases her for being selfish, vain, and superficial, and says that her only direction in life is “toward the mall.”

Illustrating that Cher’s selfishness is usually innocent and relatively harmless, Cher plays matchmaker for two lonely, nerdy, hard-grading teachers, Mr. Hall (Wallace Shawn) and Miss Geist (Twink Caplan). She achieves her ostensible purpose—to make them relax their grading standards so she can renegotiate a bad report card—but when she sees their newfound happiness, she realizes she actually enjoys doing good deeds. Cher now decides that the ultimate way she can give back to the community would be to “adopt” a “tragically unhip” new girl at school, Tai Frasier (Brittany Murphy). Cher and Dionne give Tai a makeover and initiate her into the mysteries of popularity. Cher also tries to extinguish the strong mutual attraction between Tai and Travis Birkenstock (Breckin Meyer), an amiable skateboarding slacker, and to steer her toward Elton (Jeremy Sisto), a rich snob whose father is a music-industry executive.

Her second matchmaking scheme backfires when Elton rejects Tai and makes a play for Cher. Matters worsen when Cher’s “project” works a bit too well and Tai’s popularity begins to surpass Cher’s, especially after Tai has a “near-death” misadventure at the mall that helps to skyrocket her to fame at school. Other classmates, including Dionne’s and Cher’s longtime rival Amber (Elisa Donovan), soon gravitate toward Tai, and Cher finds herself demoted from queen to courtier at high school.

Events reach crisis stage after Cher fails her driver’s test and can’t “renegotiate” the result. When Cher returns home, crushed, Tai confides that she’s taken a fancy to Josh and wants Cher to help her “get” him. Cher says she doesn’t think Josh is right for Tai, and they quarrel. Cher, left all alone, begins to think she has created a monster in her own image. Feeling “totally clueless,” she reflects on her priorities and her repeated failures to understand or appreciate the people in her life. Most of all, she keeps thinking about Josh and Tai, and wonders why she cares so much.

After much soul searching (which includes a solo shopping spree around various Beverly Hills boutiques), Cher realizes she has fallen in love with Josh. She begins making awkward but sincere efforts to live a more purposeful life, even captaining the school’s Pismo Beach disaster relief effort. A scene near the end of the film finds Cher and Josh stumbling over how to admit their mutual feelings for one another, culminating in a tender kiss on the stairs of her home.

The film has a happy Hollywood ending for Cher: Mr. Hall and Miss Geist get married; her friendships with Tai and Dionne are reaffirmed and solidified; Tai and Travis are in love; and now, in Josh’s arms, she too has finally found love.

REVIEW:

Every decade has that film that embodies everything (good or bad) about that time. For the 90s, it was Clueless, although some people have made the case for Mallrats and a handful of other flicks. You have to make the decision for yourself what your quintessential 90s films is.

What is this about?

Director Amy Heckerling’s fresh adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel Emma follows the misadventures of meddlesome Beverly Hills high schooler Cher, who gets more than she bargained for when she gives a fashion-challenged student a makeover.

What did I like?

Slinging the slang. Many of the terms that we used in the 90s were popularized in this films. Terms such as “as if”, “jeeping”, etc. Also, terms that we, at least I, wasn’t familiar with were brought to the forefront, such as “Baldwin”, “surfin’ the crimson wave”, etc. The fact that one little film can have such a profound effect on the culture of the time and, for the most part, stay relevant today is dumbfounding, especially considering how many films of this nature are now nothing more than trips down nostalgia.

Emma. The plot of this film is very loosely based on the Jane Austen novel, Emma. Now, my only knowledge of that literary work is that it exists and was a film from around this same time, give or take a couple of years. So, after a brief conversation with one of more well-read friends, it turns out that some of the characters are obvious references to the literary counterparts and not too far removed, in terms of personality and fitting into modern day society. Be not fooled, though, similar is not the same. Still, the fact that they do have some roots in their origin and didn’t totally throw it out the window is something to be acknowledged, if you ask me.

Ageless. Much like the slang in this film, the music takes you back to this era. I myself have an urge right now to go put on a flannel shirt and doc martens and listen to some grunge. Yeah, I was one of those kids back in high school. Speaking of high school. Next year, this film will be 20 yrs old and 3 of its stars, Alicia Silverstone, Donald Faison, and especially Stacey Dash must be bathing in the fountain of youth because they don’t look much different than they did when they were filming this.

What didn’t I like?

Consequences. Taking into account that there is nothing serious about this very bright film, Alicia Silverstone’s character is attacked by her ride home after the party. Well, not really attacked, but he did try something with her. What bothers me about this is that it is never brought up. They see him again at another party and nothing is said and when Brittany Murphy’s character is infatuated with him (one of the many boys she goes through, might I add), nothing is said. I don’t know, to me it just seems like there should have been a warning that he might do that, or someone getting informed, etc.

Tai. Ok, so a wide-eyed girl white girl from Detroit is named Tai. How is this possible. I wonder if this wasn’t just a case of the casting directors liking Brittany Murphy’s innocent look. Personally, I prefer in this than to anything else she did in her career. Damn her becoming a skeleton like the rest of Hollywood. R.I.P. Brittany. On to my point, she goes through this rather weird, and somewhat forced for time purposes, personality change. It would seem that it was spurred on by the near death experience she has in the mall. Out of nowhere, in the final scenes, she’s back to where she was when we first met her, even apparently with the guy she was crushing on when she first got to the school. I just felt her character could have and did deserve better than to be rushed into what can almost be called mood swings.

Hot for teacher. Early on in the film, there is a pretty big emphasis on getting two teachers hooked up. After that, we see them a couple of times, and the female teacher has a line in the final scenes, but that’s it. I bring this up, because I recall them being a bigger part of the TV version, but here they just seem like an afterthought once they get together (excluding the wedding).

Anyone who was not an old fogey in the 90s has seen Clueless. As I have already said, this is one of the go-to quintessential flicks of that time. This is quite the fun and funny film complete with great characters, bright colors, and a short runtime. Do I recommend this fine film? With an emphatic yes! There is no reason to not check this out, unless you’re just some eternally depressed goth kid that hates any and everything, otherwise I highly recommend this as a film to check out before you die!

5 out of 5 stars

Beauty Shop

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Gina Norris is a widowed hairstylist who has moved from Chicago to Atlanta so her daughter, Vanessa, can attend a private music school. She’s made a name for herself as a stylist, but after her self-centered boss, Jorge, criticizes her work, she leaves and sets up her own shop, purchasing a run-down salon by the skin of her teeth by helping out a loan officer.

Upon buying the salon, she runs into instant barriers: loudmouthed young stylists, older clients who are set in their ways, people wary of her ability as a hairdresser and the constant trouble her rebellious sister-in-law, Darnelle, finds herself in. In a short time, the previous owner’s clients become her own and many of her former customers find their way from Jorge’s to her salon. When electrical issues arise, she finds that the upstairs renter, Joe is a handsome electrician from Africa who eventually bonds with Vanessa due to his skills on the piano. Because Jorge is jealous that his shop is losing clients to Gina’s, he pays a health inspector named Crawford, to find various ways to shut down Gina’s business.

Over time, neighborhood regulars frequent the shop and the varied stylists become close to Gina, as does Joe. One of her former clients from Jorge’s even uses her connections to set up a meeting with Cover Girl for Gina’s homemade miracle conditioner, affectionately called “hair crack”.

Tragedy strikes when the shop is trashed and heavily vandalized the night before Vanessa’s big piano recital. When Gina next enters the shop, she finds not only that her staff has cleaned up the majority of the mess and brought items from home so the shop could operate, but that Darnelle has entered beauty school. While filming for his next topic, Willie tapes a meeting between Jorge and Inspector Crawford. Shortly, a disheveled woman enters the shop and begs for someone to fix her hair for a wedding she has in a few hours. Soon after, Willie shows Gina the videotape of a meeting he filmed of Jorge and Inspector Crawford. Later that night, Gina goes to Jorge’s salon to not only tell him about the tape, but that she knows he is not Jorge from Austria, but George Christie from Nebraska. No sooner that Gina leaves, James and a few of his friends gives Jorge an extreme haircut as payback for what he did to her in trying to close her shop.

Later, as the shop listens to their favorite radio talk show host DJ Helen, they find out she was the desperate customer on the way to the wedding as she gives the shop (and Gina’s “hair crack” conditioner) a shout out on the radio.

REVIEW:

Guys aren’t exactly familiar with hair, unless they are the flamboyant, stereotypical gay guy, so a film like Beauty Shop doesn’t initially appeal to us. As it turns out, though, this spin-off featuring a minor character from Barbershop 2: Back in Business may actually be better than the rest of the franchise.

What is this about?

Fed up with her dishonest boss, hairstylist Gina Norris decides to give him a run for his money by taking over a rundown Atlanta salon and setting up her own beauty shop complete with sassy stylists and quirky clientele.

What did I like?

Come out, come out, wherever you are. Before this film was released, three of its stars had sort of disappeared from the spotlight. That doesn’t mean they left the business, just major projects. Andie McDowell, Alicia Silverstone, and Keshia Knight Pulliam (who I grew up saying would be my future wife…seeing her in this made me reboot that idea!) all resurfaced playing characters totally different than what we are used to…well, maybe not Silverstone, but it was still nice to see her again.

Sass. When you get a bunch of women together, especially in a beauty shop, it can almost be expected that you will hear gossip, catiness, and all manner of sassiness. I believe that this is the reason this film was even greenlit, because the interaction amongst these women is just so naturally funny. I half think they ad-libbed a good portion of that, which may be why it was so funny.

Plot #2. The subplot about Queen Latifah’s daughter being in music school personally touched me, as a musician. It also ties everything back to Barbershop 2, where we were first introduced to Gina in the cookout scene. I sort of feel as if we could have done with more of that, but she was always carrying a piano with her, and Djimon Hounsou’s character was helping her out, so she was all set.

What didn’t I like?

Seen it all before. Didn’t we just deal with the whole shop being shut down plot in the Barbershop movies? Why is it these people couldn’t come up with something else. They even threw in a vandalism angle. Now, has it been a fire, earthquake, or something along those lines, it would have worked. Something new like that is always a welcome bit of fresh air.

Gay or not. Why is it a straight man can’t work in a beauty shop without being accused of being gay? Obviously, this film took every opportunity to play that very idea up for laughs, even having the guy carry a man purse. I appreciate the joke, but I think they could have done something more interesting with the handling of the situation and the big “reveal” in the club, rather than just gestate on it for the good chunk of the film that they do.

Race relations. While it isn’t harped on, they do bring up the race card a few more times than I was comfortable with. I like to think that we, as a society have moved past the narrow-mindedness of our forefathers, but even in film those evil, incorrect thoughts seep in. The best way to handle this, if it were up to me, would be to just bring up the race thing with those two chickenheads that were trying to get a job with Gina, but couldn’t handle working with a white girl. After that, it should never be brought up again…well, maybe when Mena Suvari puts one of those women in check.

When I sit back and look at this franchise that started with Barbershop and spun all the way into a Beauty Shop, I wonder why it is they couldn’t have had an Ice Cube, Eve, or Cedric the Entertainer cameo in the film. It just seems like that would have been right. That point aside, I fully believe this is the best of the franchise, which is kinda funny being that this is a spinoff and not part of the “actual franchise”. In the end, this isn’t something I would go out o my way to see, but it is definitely worth a shot if you happen to flip through the channels and see it is on.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Butter

Posted in Comedy, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 5, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Destiny (Shahidi) is a 10-year-old orphan girl in Iowa who gets placed with Ethan (Corddry) and Jill Emmet (Silverstone). While visiting the Iowa State Fair by herself, she wanders into the exhibit of the winning butter sculpture (a life sized Last Supper) and finishes a cup very skillfully, impressing the sculpture’s creator Bob Pickler (Burrell).

Bob has won the butter sculpture contest at the fair every time for the last 15 years. Because of his dominance, he gets barred from entering in the future to give others a chance to compete. Bob’s wife, Laura (Garner) is competitive and socially ambitious, causing them to fight when he breaks the news to her. While she goes to the home of the competition’s organizer to protest, Bob drives to a strip club. While there he meets a stripper, Brooke (Wilde) and he solicits her for sex in his van. However, they’re interrupted by Laura t-boning the van with her SUV.

Laura decides to enter the county’s preliminary sculpture competition herself because of the social status that comes with winning. Meanwhile, Destiny decides to enter as well. Carol-Ann Stevenson (a fan of Bob’s) and Brooke also enter. Brooke is simply entering to harass the Picklers because Bob still owes her $600. Despite practice, Laura comes in second to Destiny while Brooke and Carol-Ann come in third and fourth respectively.

Brooke shows up at the Pickler’s house looking for her money and is let in by their daughter Kaitlin (Greene). While talking in her room, Kaitlin challenges her to a game of truth or dare which escalates to them having sex. Kaitlin is drawn to Brooke’s alternative style and attitude, but Brooke is just doing it because Kaitlin says she can get her the money she wants (which she inflates to $1,200). At the same time, Laura hooks up with a used car salesman and old boyfriend from high school, Boyd Bolton (Jackman) to get him to falsely testify to county officials that he was paid by Ethan to help Destiny in the sculpture competition. Laura suggests a rematch at the state fair to the frustration of everyone but Destiny, who agrees.

Brooke gets her money from Kaitlin (who has fallen in love with her), meets Destiny after school, and takes her to the mall to buy her a $1,200 set of chef’s knives to help her in the rematch with Laura. Later when Destiny comes home, she finds out from a social worker that her biological mother has died.

At the state fair, Laura competes with Destiny in the rematch. Laura carves a replica of John F. Kennedy’s car immediately after his assassination complete with the president’s blown up skull and Jackie Kennedy and Clint Hill crawling on the trunk, while Destiny creates her biological mother holding her infant self in a rocking chair. That night before the judging, Boyd sneaks into the fair and defaces Destiny’s sculpture. Despite this, her sculpture wins.

Later, Destiny is officially adopted by the Emmets and Laura is running for Governor of Iowa, claiming she was visited by God in a vision telling her to run.

REVIEW:

I was watching an episode of Weeds the other day, and they had managed to stumble on some small town butter festival, complete with butter tasting, eating, and sculpting. The next day a buddy of mine recommended this film, Butter. At first, I was skeptical, especially with some of the negative reviews swirling around it. As it turns out, this wasn’t half bad.

What is this about?

When a gifted butter sculptor announces his retirement, his ambitious wife sees her hopes for future fame — and the presidency — melt away. She sets out to take up the mantle, but soon learns how cutthroat the world of pro butter sculpting can be.

What did I like?

Sculpture. Who would have thought that you could create such masterpieces from a few sticks of butter? Granted, I’m sure some of these may not have been actual creations, but I was highly impressed by them, especially the Last Supper one that is shown in the beginning.

Comedy. The black comedy that we have here is the exact kind of thing one can expect from an independent comedy, not exactly laugh out loud stuff, but still enough to keep a smile on your face throughout the whole flick. Even some of the “serious” stuff ended up being a bit funny, such as the little girl making her subtle racist comments.

Cast. The cast is great, with names like Jennifer Garner, Hugh Jackman, Ty Burrell, and Ashley Greene, but there are three that stood out to me. Frist off, is the resurgence of the always gorgeous and talented Alicia Silverstone. I found it a bit odd seeing her as a mom to the film’s young star, Yara Shahdi, or just as a mom, period. Next was her husband Rob Corddry. I can get over the fact that he somehow manged to marry a total babe like her, but if I’m not mistaken, this is the first time I’ve seen him as a good guy. He actually wasn’t playing a total scumbag for once. Finally, there is Olivia Wilde, playing a stripper, and very convincingly, I might add. Some have said she is the best thing about this movie, and when you see her, it isn’t very hard to see why.

What didn’t work?

Emmetts. Both Jennifer Garner and Ty Burrell were doing all they could with their roles, but for some reason they seemed a tad bit off. Burrell came off as very wooden, more so than he normally does, while Garner seemed like she was trying too hard to be a bitch instead of her normal goody two-shoes persona she is normally. I felt as if they could have done more with their characters, but failed to do so.

Race card. So, this little girl, who we first saw with Eddie Murphy in Imagine That, for those that were wondering, is a foster child who has never really met her parents. Because of this, for some inexplicable reason, she seems to have some racist ideas. Like most race humor, it is funny here and there when it is done in a non-offensive way, but eventually it wears thin and becomes out-of-place and annoying, especially since it comes from a little girl!

Lesbians. Look, I’m all for some girl on girl action, but having Olivia Wilde and Ashley Greene make out (it is implied that they are engaging in other “activities”, as well), just seemed to be stuck in there just because it could be. Greene’s character barely exists and makes you wonder why they even cast her, and Wilde’s has much bigger things to do than make out with a teenage daughter, no matter how hot she is.

Butter is something that isn’t quite for everyone, but it is sure is entertaining to watch. A feast for the eyes, when yo see the butter sculptures, a decent story/plot, and some nice comedic moments make this a flick that should at least be considered. I highly recommend it, despite the negative reviews. I actually liked this twisted, black comedy and, perhaps, some of you will, as well.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Blast From the Past

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 16, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Calvin Webber (Christopher Walken) is a brilliant, eccentric, and paranoid Caltech nuclear physicist (see mad scientist), living the stereotypical happy 1960s life during the Cold War. His extreme fear of a nuclear holocaust leads him to build an enormous self-sustaining fallout shelter beneath his suburban San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles home. One night, while he and his pregnant wife, Helen (Sissy Spacek), are entertaining guests, a family friend comes to inform him that John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev are getting into a debate. The family turns on their television, and watch in horror. When the Cuban Missile Crisis begins, they ask their guests to leave, and they head down into the shelter. Meanwhile, a pilot is having problems with his plane; he is ordered to eject, believing his jet will crash into the Pacific Ocean. Just as the Webbers descend into the shelter, the plane veers off and crashes into the Webber home, leaving their friends and family to believe the family has died. The family, having seen the resulting fireball just as they lock themselves in their shelter, believe that the unthinkable has happened and that they are the sole survivors of a nuclear war. The locks on the shelter are set for 35 years and cannot be overridden by anyone inside or outside the shelter – for “their own protection” according to Calvin Webber.

A few days after the locks have been engaged, Mrs. Webber goes into labor and gives birth to a baby boy, whom they name Adam. During the roughly 35 years they are down in the shelter, the world above drastically changes, while the Webbers’ life remains frozen in 1962. Adam is taught in several languages, all school subjects, dance, boxing, and many other things. The family passes time watching black and white movies via a projector. Adam is given his father’s baseball card collection, and shares in IBM, Polaroid, and AT&T.

In the present (which would have been October 1997, though this is not specifically stated in the film) the timer on the locks releases, and Calvin decides to check out the surroundings above the shelter (in full protective gear), which has turned into a ghetto. He mistakes this for a post-apocalyptic world and wants his wife and grown son (Brendan Fraser) to stay in hiding, but suffers from chest pain. Adam, who is naïve but well-educated, is sent for supplies and help, thus beginning his adventures.

Much of the humor in the film is derived from his being unaccustomed to the lifestyle of the present (such as using the term negro, and believing “shit” is a French compliment), believing “gay” means happy, and finding awe in simple things of modernity. Early on, he meets Eve Rustikoff (Alicia Silverstone) at a card store, where she works, and where he went to sell his father’s classic baseball cards. She stops the store owner from ripping Adam off and is immediately fired. Adam asks Eve to take him to the Holiday Inn, in exchange for a baseball card, worth 4,000 dollars. The next morning, at the Holiday Inn, Eve comes to give back the card to Adam, and after a brief conversation, Eve informs Adam that she has to look for a new job. In exchange for $1,000 a week, Adam asks Eve to work for him, she agrees to help him buy the supplies and his search for a “non-mutan” wife from Pasadena. Meanwhile, Adam meets Eve’s homosexual housemate and best friend, Troy (Dave Foley), who offers advice and commentary as Adam and Eve fall in love.

At the conclusion of the movie, Adam’s father and mother move into a home at the surface that their son has had constructed with the wealth he has acquired from selling stocks, which acquired great value from splits over the years. Only his father is informed that the catastrophe they went into seclusion for was in fact a plane crash, for fear his mother would be incredibly angry at her husband for her years of mistaken confinement.

The film finishes with Adam’s mother at peace with her newfound freedom from the shelter, Adam and Eve engaged to be married, while Calvin, certain that the “Commies” have faked the collapse of the Soviet Union, starts pacing out measurements for a new fallout shelter.

REVIEW:

Blast From the Past tells the story of a couple who are forced underground by what they belive is the nuclear holocaust. While down there, the already pregnant wife, gives birth to their son whom the name Adam. 35 yrs later, they decide its time to see what has happened to the world above. After a failed and flawed view by the father, Adam is sent to get supplies. Hilarity ensues and we get a really good film.

The good…you can call me an old soul, but I just love film that tackle the eras from the 30-early 60s. Obviously, with the focus on the early 60s in this film, as well as the swinging soundtrack to go along with it, the picture already has a gold star in my book. Only Brendan Fraser could pull off this role. Other actors would try to read too much into the character and not just have fun with it. If you watch Fraser, you can see he’s truly having fun being the man-child. I think the ony other person that might have been able to pull this off would be Will Ferrell, but he doesn’t have the childlike innocent look that Fraser had in this picture. I also have to commend them for getting Fraser lookalikes to play him at his younger ages. Not only did they look like him, they even had his mannerisms. Dave Foley provides a nice little secondary character that is totally undervalues when people talk about this film. Alicia Silverstone lights up the screen with her beauty. This is one of the roles she was made to play. **side note–loved the shoes** The story didn’t win any points for being the best written, but un;ess you’re just one of those that picks apart everything, its hardly even noticable because this is such a cute, fun, entertaining film, and that’s what really matters.

The bad…as much as I hate to say this, I feel there could have been some kind of villain. Either someone who also was in a time capsule or maybe more of Nathan Fillion as he wanted Eve back. Speaking of Eve…Adam and Eve? Seriously? I’m not sure if that was cute or cliché.  It is obvious that Troy is attracted to Adam as well, maybe they could have put a scene in there where he tries something. Not saying that not having that in there was bad, just a suggestion.

If you can’t handle these overly sweet films, then you better stay away from this picture, or you’ll end up rotting your teeth. Yes, it is that sweet. The innocence of Adam pretty much embodies the film. Except for one scene where Adam and Eve semi make out and some innuendo here and there, mainly in the club, you could literally put this thing in black and white and released it in the 50s. It is good to know that not every picture has to have special effects and sex in it, and those that don’t are considered family flicks. Blast From the Past is refreshing in that it is a romantic comedy that is so simplistic in its approach, that you love it without even realizing it. This is a must see for any and all!

5 out of 5 stars

Batman & Robin

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 18, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film begins with Batman (George Clooney) and Robin (Chris O’Donnell) stopping Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger) from a robbery attempt, but he escapes. In South America, Pamela Isley (Uma Thurman) is working under Dr. Jason Woodrue (John Glover), experimenting with the Venom drug. She witnesses Woodrue use the formula to turn a diminutive convict into a hulking monstrosity dubbed “Bane” (Jeep Swenson). Woodrue and Isley argue over the use of the drug and Woodrue kills her by overturning a shelf of various toxins onto her and she sinks into the ground. She transforms into the beautiful and seductive Poison Ivy before killing Woodrue with a poison kiss. She finds that Wayne Enterprises funded Woodrue, thus she takes Bane with her to Gotham City. Meanwhile, Alfred Pennyworth’s (Michael Gough) niece, Barbara Wilson (Alicia Silverstone), makes a surprise visit and is invited by Bruce Wayne to stay at Wayne Manor until she goes back to school.

Wayne Enterprises presents a new telescope at a press conference interrupted by Isley. She proposes a project that could help the environment, but Bruce declines her offer, as it would kill millions of people. That night, a charity event is held by Wayne Enterprises with special guests, Batman and Robin, and she decides to use her abilities to seduce them. Freeze crashes the party and steals a diamond from the event. However, he is captured and sent to a chamber prison in Arkham Asylum, but escapes with the help of Ivy and Bane. Batman and Robin begin to have crime fighting relationship problems because of the presence of Ivy’s seductive ability with Robin. Ivy is then able to contact Robin once more, but fails to seduce him. Robin becomes trapped, but rescued by Batman. Batgirl arrives and traps Ivy within her own plants, while Freeze and Bane flee. Batgirl reveals that she is Barbara and knows the location of the Batcave.

Batman, Robin and Batgirl decide to go after Freeze together. By the time they get to the lab where Freeze and Bane are, Gotham is completely frozen. Robin and Batgirl confront Bane and defeat him by disconnecting his venom hose, while Batman and Freeze begin to fight each other, with Batman winning in a cliffhanger battle; Freeze tries to kill Batman by destroying the telescope platform but only succeeds in crushing Bane. Batgirl and Robin unfreeze Gotham and Batman shows Freeze a recording of Ivy during her fight with Batgirl. Freeze learns that Ivy has betrayed him over the death of his wife. Ivy blamed Batman for Nora’s death, but she informs Batgirl that it was her idea. Freeze is angered by the betrayal and is informed by Batman that his wife is not dead; she is restored in cryogenic slumber and has been moved to Arkham waiting for him to finish his research. Batman proceeds to ask Freeze for the cure Freeze has created for the first stage of MacGregor’s Syndrome, the disease that Freeze’s wife is suffering from, for a friend (Alfred) who is dying. Freeze atones for his misunderstanding by giving him medicine he had developed. Nearly insane Ivy is shown imprisoned in the cold beam in Arkham and Freeze walks in and announces he will make her life a living hell of winter. Alfred is eventually healed and everyone agrees to let Barbara stay at the mansion. The film ends like (Batman Forever) with the image of the Bat-Signal, with Batman, Robin and Batgirl appearing as if running from the signal itself towards the camera.

REVIEW:

I’m sure that we’ve all heard how this is the film that caused the demise of the Batmanfranchise. I wish I could disagree, but I just can’t. While the film isn’t as bad as everyone makes it out to be (it’s not that great, either), it doesn’t come close to the level of the previous films.

I read that director Joel Schumacher chose George Clooney to replace Val Kilmer as Batman/Bruce Wayne because he wasn’t as serious as Kilmer or Michael Keaton. Hello! This is Batman, he’s suppose to be serious. The jokes and such are meant for Robin and Batgirl. Having said that, Clooney did what he could with a subpar script and less than stellar directing.

Chris O’Donnell returns as Robin. Unlike in Batman Forever, he’s not whining, complaining, and feeling sorry for himself the entire film. Although he is obviously more in tune with Dick Grayson/Robin in this film, I still have to say that he is too old to play him. That really is my only issue with him.

Alicia Silverstone enters the franchise as one of the most underrated characters in the Bat-universe, Batgirl. First, Batgil is supposed to be Barbara Gordon, daughter of Commissioner Gordon, not niece of Alfred. Whoever wrote this, royally screwed up, or at least didn’t fully read the source material. Next, Alicia Silverstone, while being a total cutie, just wasn’t meant to be Batgirl. Had they have made up some random girl for O’Donnell to date, then she would have been perfect for that, but she just doesn’t pull of Batgirl. I’m not sure what it is, but something about her performance doesn’t sit right with me.

Uma Thurman holds her own as Poison Ivy. She seems to have taken a page out of Jim Carrey’s book, and makes the character a tad eccentric, but at the same time, she keeps Ivy faithful to the comic, which I, as a fan, really respect her for. I’m not sure if I cared for her speaking like a 50’s era vixen, but there are a lot of worse things she could have done.

Arnold Schrazenegger should not have been Mr. Freeze. No one will ever mistake Arnold for a master thespian such as Laurence Olivier, but his performance here was painful to watch. On top of the fact that he bears no resemblance to the character in the comic, this just was not inspired casting, but rather bad comedy.

Whoever it was that designed the costumes for this film needs to be drug out into the street and shot. Ok, so they did an awesome job with Poison Ivy and Bane. They seemed as if they jumped straight from the pages onto the screen. However, why did Mr. Freeze seem like a giant flashlight? Was that really necessary? Then of course, the issue that everyone who has ever seen this film has, why are there nipples on the Batsuit? It is still a mystery as to why men have nipples in the first place, why put them on the Batsuit (and Robin)? They were noticeably absent from Batgirl’s costume, though. Not trying to be perverted, but Batgirl’s costume is just a female version of Batman’s, so she should have everything he has. It’s just fair.

The plot for this film has problems, but what film doesn’t? I liked that they made you feel sorry for Mr. Freeze becuse of his wife and the accident (as if you didn’t watching him lug around that costume), but I didn’t really get the reasoning for making Alfred fall ill.

I’m not going to sit here and condemn this film the way others have. I think it’s a good watch, especially if you’re a fan of lighter Batman films like I am. However, in terms of film, it isn’t that great, and very well may be the worst of all films in the Batman cannon. Only you can make a decision about whether it is good, bad, or average, when all is said and done, though.

3 out of 5 stars

Clueless

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2008 by Mystery Man

 

Plot:

A witty update of Jane Austen’s 1816 novel Emma, the film tells the story of Cher Horowitz, a good-natured Valley girl-type (she actually lives in Beverly Hills and is quite out of her element in a sequence that takes place in the Valley).

Cher is attractive, popular, and rich. At a few months shy of sixteen, she has risen to the top of the high school social scene and is happy and self-assured in her insular, fashion-obsessed world. She lives in a Beverly Hills mansion with her father, a ferocious $500-an-hour litigator; her mother is long dead, having succumbed to complications while undergoing liposuction. Cher’s best friend is Dionne, who is also rich, pretty and hip and understands what it’s like to be envied.

Among the few people to find much fault with Cher is Josh, her altruistic, intellectual ex-stepbrother who visits during a break from college. Josh and Cher spar continually but without malice; she refers to him as “granola breath” and mocks his scruffy idealism, while he teases her for being selfish and superficial and says her only direction in life is “toward the mall”.

This makes Cher want to prove that she, too, has a social conscience. First, she plays matchmaker for two lonely, nerdy, hard-grading teachers, Mr. Hall and Miss Geist. She achieves her original purpose – to make them relax their grading standards so she can renegotiate a bad report card – but when she sees their new-found happiness she realizes she likes doing good deeds. Cher now decides that the ultimate way she can give back to the community would be to “adopt” a “tragically unhip” new girl at school, Tai Frasier. Cher and Dionne give Tai a makeover and initiate her into the mysteries of popularity. Cher also tries to extinguish the strong mutual attraction between Tai and Travis, an amiable skateboarding slacker, and to steer her toward Elton, a rich snob.

Her second matchmaking scheme backfires when Elton rejects Tai and makes a play for Cher. Matters worsen, however, when Cher’s “project” works a bit toowell and Tai’s popularity begins to surpass Cher’s, especially after Tai has a “near-death” adventure at the mall that helps to skyrocket her to fame at school. Other classmates, including Dionne and Cher’s longtime rival classmate Amber, soon gravitate toward Tai, and Cher finds herself demoted from queen to courtier at high school.

Meanwhile, Cher has a couple of romantic mishaps with boys at school. The first involves Elton; the next concerns Christian, a handsome classmate with great fashion sense who turns out to be gay. Cher naively and repeatedly fails to understand Christian’s hints that he prefers the same sex, and tries unsuccessfully to seduce him while they are alone one night watching Spartacus. The next day, Dionne’s boyfriend, roaring with laughter, makes her mistake clear to her at last.

Events reach a crisis after Cher fails her driver’s test and can’t “renegotiate” the result. When Cher goes home, crushed, Tai – now dressed exactly like Cher – confides that she’s taken a fancy to Josh and wants Cher to help her “get” him. Cher says she doesn’t think Josh is right for her, and they quarrel. Cher, left all alone, begins to think she has created a monster in her own image. Feeling “totally clueless”, she reflects on her off-kilter priorities and her repeated failures to understand or appreciate the people in her life. Most of all, she keeps thinking about Josh and Tai, and wonders why she cares so much.

After much soul-searching (which includes a one-woman shopping spree around various Beverly Hills boutiques), Cher discovers she has fallen in love with Josh. She begins making awkward but sincere efforts to live a more useful life, even captaining the school’s Pismo Beach disaster relief effort. A scene near the end of the film finds Cher and Josh stumbling over how to admit their mutual feelings for each other, finally culminating in a tender kiss on the steps of her father’s mansion.

The film has a happy Hollywood ending for Cher: her two nerdy teachers at school get married; her friendships with Tai and Dionne are reaffirmed; Tai and Travis are in love; and, in Josh’s arms, she too has now finally found love and meaning in her teenage life.

Review:

As much as I love the 80s, the 90s weren’t half bad either. This movie showcases all that was right (and wrong) with the early part of that decade. It also was the first major showcase for Alicia Silverstone, Paul Rudd, Donald Faison, Stacey Dash, and a slightly larger Brittany Murphy.

I don’t really have anything negative to say about this movie, other than Cher seemed hell bent on driving Tai away from Travis because she thinks Elton would be better for her. This annoys me to no end, because it makes her seem even more shallow than she should have been. Luckily, it all worked out in the end.

This another good family movie. Of course, if you’re not a fan of the 90s or movies that are loosely based on Shakespere plays, you won’t care for it. I’m not one of those people, though, so I loved it!

4 stars out of 5