Archive for Blythe Danner

Meet the Fockers

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Now that Greg Focker is “in” with his soon-to-be in-laws, Jack and Dina Byrnes, it looks like smooth sailing for him and his fiancée, Pam. But that’s before Pam’s parents meet Greg’s parents, Bernie and Roz Focker. The hyper-relaxed Fockers and the tightly-wound Byrneses are woefully mismatched from the start, and no matter how hard Greg and Pam try, there is just no bringing their families together.

What people are saying:

“It was okay, wouldn’t exactly say it’s terrible or great either, somewhere in the middle. Good time if you’re watching it with some family members or friends. For those who are critical about film, give it a skip.” 3 stars

“The sequel’s comedy level is what I was I expecting from its predecessor. Thanks to its original and new cast, their chemistries bring laughs equally as well more warmth; making this sequel better, despite the questionable silliness that turns into a minor plot-hole. ” 4 stars

“Proof that great actors can make terrible movies. Apparently DeNiro, Hoffman and Streistan are padding their bank accounts for old age. Stupid, predictable and unfunny.” 1 star

“I loved this whole premise, what a great cast of characters ! Love Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman’s chemistry, then throw in Barbara Streisand and you have a winner combination! I laughed til I cried through most of the movie. I highly recommend it if there is anyone left on the planet that hasn’t seen it yet.” 5 stars

“While it does contain strong hints to it’s predecessor, Meet The Fockers gets plenty of fresh humor from the addition of Hoffman and Streisand, and the content is delivered perfectly by a great cast.” 4 stars

1776

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

1776

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

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

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

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

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

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

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

REVIEW:

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

What is this about?

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

What did I like?

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

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

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

What didn’t I like?

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

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

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

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

3 1/3 out of 5 stars

Meet the Parents

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on May 9, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Gaylord “Greg” Focker (Ben Stiller) is a nurse living in Chicago. He intends to propose to his girlfriend Pam Byrnes (Teri Polo), but his plan is disrupted when he learns that Pam’s sister’s fiance had asked Pam’s father for permission before proposing. Greg and Pam travel to Pam’s parents’ house to attend Pam’s sister’s wedding. Greg hopes to propose to Pam in front of her family after receiving her father’s permission. But this plan is put on hold when the airline loses his luggage, including the engagement ring.

At the Byrnes’ home, Greg meets Pam’s father Jack (Robert De Niro), mother Dina (Blythe Danner) and their beloved cat Mr. Jinx. Jack takes an instant dislike to Greg and openly criticizes him for his choice of career as a male nurse and whatever else he sees as a difference between Greg and the Byrnes family. Greg tries to impress Jack, but his efforts fail. Greg becomes even more uncomfortable after he receives an impromptu lie detector test from Jack and later learns from Pam that her father is a retired CIA counterintelligence officer.

Meeting the rest of Pam’s family and friends, Greg still feels like an outsider. Despite efforts to impress the family, Greg’s inadvertent actions make him an easy target for ridicule and anger: He accidentally breaks Pam’s sister’s nose during a volleyball mishap; uses a malfunctioning toilet that floods the Byrnes’ back yard with sewage; sets the wedding altar on fire and inadvertently leads Jack to think he is a marijuana user. Later, Greg loses Jinx and replaces him with a stray whose tail he spray paints to make him look like Mr. Jinx.

By now, the entire Byrnes family, including Pam, agrees that it is best for Greg to leave. Unwillingly, Greg goes to the airport where he is detained by airport security. Back at the Byrnes household, Jack tries to convince his wife and Pam that Greg would be an unsuitable husband. Upon receiving retribution from both his wife and Pam, Jack realizes that Pam truly loves Greg. Jack rushes to the airport, convinces airport security to release Greg and brings him back to the Byrnes household.

Greg proposes to Pam. She accepts, and her parents agree that they should now meet Greg’s parents. After Debbie’s wedding, Jack views footage of Greg recorded by hidden cameras that he had placed strategically around their house.

REVIEW:

This is one of those films I watched years ago, but haven’t been able to actually sit down and watch it since. Finally, I get the chance to watchMeet the Parentsagain. Have the years skewered my opinion of this film? I can’t really say because I never really thought this was anything special in the first place.

What did I like?

The dynamic/chemistry between Stiller and De Niro. I think we all know Ben Stiller isn’t going to be winning any Oscars anytime soon, right? So, it was nice to see him step his game up to be in a film with the great Bobby De Niro. Or was it De Niro who came down to Stiller’s level? Either way, they two compliment each other very well and are quite the odd couple, which may very well be the reason this works.

Cat love. De Niro’s justification for loving cats as opposed to cats really got to me. As a cat lover/dog hater, I know how he feels. Also, I’m exceedingly ecstatic to not see any dogs, at least that I can remember in this film. Lord knows society thinks the world revolves around those infernal creatures.

Volleyball game. It wasn’t so much the game as it was the Top Gun references that made it such a memorable scene for me, especially since it really isn’t that great, to be honest with you.

What didn’t I like?

The overexposure of Stiller. Yes, he is the one that is meeting the parents, but I felt like we could have gotten some more out of his significant other. With a few exceptions, we don’t really get any more of her than we do her mother (who also could have used a bit more screentime)!

Owen Wilson. This guy annoys me, as I’ve said in previous reviews, and this is one of those roles where it is more than normal. I almost had to fast forward through his scenes just to keep from throwing things at the screen everytime he showed up! His character is the typical parent’s dream boyfriend, especially since he went on to become a success. What kind of film about a female coming home would be complete without a guy like that, right?

The story. Applause for trying to do something with the old bringing the boyfriend home to meet the parents and all, but it just doesn’t seem to click in way it should. Something seems to be missing, but I can’t tell you what it is. Perhaps it is competent writers?

Meet the Parents is a decent enough flick, but it is nothing special. Somehow it has spawned 2 sequels, which seem to be polar opposites of each other. I’ve heard nothing but praise of Meet the Fockers, while everyone hated Little Fockers. Do I think this is something that you should waste your time on? Well, it won’t hurt, but at the same time, if you have something better to do like pull your nose hairs out, I’d say go on and do that first. Ok, nothing that extreme, but this is about as painfully average as you can get.

3 out of 5 stars

 

What’s My Number?

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , on February 15, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

On her way home after losing her job, Ally Darling comes across a magazine article entitled “What’s Your Number?”, which asks the reader to calculate how many people she has slept with. Realizing that her number is double the average, Ally decides to track down all of her ex-boyfriends in the hope that one of them will have grown into the man she wants to marry, and therefore the number of men she has slept with will never have to increase. With the help of her womanizing neighbor Colin Shea, she manages to find all of her exes, but things do not quite work out the way she had expected

REVIEW:

Every now and then a film will come along that even the perfect lead pairing can’t save. That is the case with What’s My Number?

The leads in question are the lovely Anna Faris and Captain America, Chris Evans. The chemistry between these two is amazing, coupled with some great performances by the likes of Blythe Danner, Ari Graynor, and a small cameo by Ed Beagley, Jr., and one has to wonder what it is that had this thing falling into crash and burn territory.

Well, there is a simple explanation for that, this story/script is horrendous. I think it is more the script, rather than the story. The story, some chick who wants to find the perfect man before she sleeps with 20 men, is expected from a romantic comedy. I actually don’t have a problem with it, per se, but the way this script is written and/or executed just ruins this whole film.

Everytime some momentum is gained and it seems like things are clicking, we get some kind of strange moment involving Anna Faris doing some kind of physical comedy, or Chris Evans walking around naked. If there is one thing that was beaten into my head as a child, it was that there is such a thing as too much. Sadly, we get too much of the same with one or the other after almost every scene. It was like a lifejacket they filmmaker’s used because they were afraid to swim in 2 ft of water.

For me to say this is a horrible film would be an insult to the good things about it. Faris and Evans carry this picture, it is a shame that they couldn’t have been put together in something better. Hopefully, someone will take notice and put them together again soon. I wish there was something more I could say about this flick, but there just isn’t. You could seriously look up all of the “good parts” on youtube and avoid the 86 minute runtime. While I won’t say you should avoid this film like the plague, you would be best served not going out of your way to watch it. Surely it’ll show up on television sooner or later.

2 3/4 out of 5 stars

Paul

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 11, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Graeme Willy and Clive Gollings (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost) are two English comic book nerds and best friends who have travelled to The United States to attend the annual San Diego Comic-Con International and to take a road trip in their recreational vehicle (RV) to visit all the sites of major extraterrestrial importance. At night along the highway they investigate a crashed car and they meet and discover an alien named Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen) who is in desperate need of their help. Although shocked by the appearance of Paul, Graeme agrees to give Paul a ride, but Clive is not happy about the idea. Later, Lorenzo Zoil (Jason Bateman), a shady government agent, arrives at the site of the crashed car and informs his mysterious female superior over the radio that he’s closing in on Paul, and she recommends using local law enforcement as back-up. Zoil then recruits two inept FBI agents, Haggard (Bill Hader) and O’Reilly (Joe Lo Truglio), to aid in his mission, without telling them the nature of their target.

Graeme, Clive and Paul pull into a motor park run by Ruth Buggs (Kristen Wiig), a Christian fundamentalist, and her controlling father, Moses (John Carroll Lynch). The trio bond around their campgrill and Paul reveals that since he was captured by the government, he had been advising them in all manner of scientific and sociological achievements. Yet Paul had outlived his usefulness as a receptacle of knowledge, and his captors were intending to surgically remove Paul’s brain in an attempt to harness his abilities. With help from a friend inside Area 51, Paul sent an S.O.S. to his home planet, and he was escaping to meet up with them. The next morning, Paul inadvertently reveals himself to Ruth, and the trio are forced to kidnap her and make a hasty escape. Paul then shatters Ruth’s faith by sharing his knowledge of the universe via telepathic link; at first horrified, Ruth suddenly becomes eager to sin, which her father had raised her to fear doing. She initially doesn’t trust Paul, but he heals her eye, as she has been blind in it since the age of four.

Eventually, Paul reveals his intention to return to the girl whose dog he crashed his ship on in 1947 and who subsequently saved his life, who is now an old woman, Tara Walton (Blythe Danner). After spending her life being ridiculed for what she said she saw, Tara seems grateful to see that Paul simply exists. She turns her gas cooker on to make tea, but is interrupted by Haggard and O’Reilly on one side of the house, and Zoil on the other. As the motley crew escapes and drives off with Paul, O’Reilly shoots at them, and the gas ignites, destroying the house. A winded Zoil tries to follow, but Haggard takes off first, running Moses (who’d also been tracking the RV) off the road, and catching up to the RV. However, thanks to an error of judgement, Haggard accidentally drives off a cliff, and is presumably killed, leaving Zoil in hot pursuit. He reassures his superior that he’ll have Paul within an hour, but she declares herself tired of waiting, and informs Zoil that she’s ordered a military response.

When Paul, Graeme, Clive, Ruth and Tara arrive at the rendezvous, they set off a signal and wait. Eventually, eerie orange lights show up over the surrounding trees, and everyone believes that it is Paul’s race. However, it is an army helicopter, with ‘the Big Guy’ (Sigourney Weaver) on board, Zoil’s shadowy superior. As she and three troops move to shoot Paul, Zoil arrives, and it’s revealed that he was Paul’s inside contact who had helped him to escape. Zoil disarms the men, but is shot in the shoulder. Tara punches out ‘the Big Guy’, but Moses appears with a shotgun and shoots Graeme dead. Paul heals him and then collapses, exhausted. Paul seems to be dead and everyone is silent until he coughs, to the relief of all. ‘The Big Guy’ regains consciousness, but is immediately crushed by the arriving alien ship. Paul begins to depart and informs Tara that she is going with him to live a better life and bids farewell to his friends hoping to meet them again one day. Two years later, Graeme, Clive, Ruth and even O’Reily (with a scarred face from the house explosion) are shown again at the 2011 Comic-Con convention, promoting their new mega-successful novel, Paul.

REVIEW:

We’ve all seen alien flicks, right? What about alien merchandise? It is kind of hard to have not seen at least something that has been plastered with the default alien image, but that image, according to this film, is Paul.

I really wanted to see this when it came out. These days it seems like people are afraid to make a funny comedy, at least not without it turning into a drama halfway thorough and never getting back to the funny. No worries about that with Paul.

This flick starts off funny, has a few moments of touching bonding that is to be expected from a quasi-buddy movie, and then gets right back to the funny. On top of that, there is some slapstick and sight gags here that really can have you on the floor rolling.

I was a little disappointed with the special effects here. Sure, Paul looks great, but I guess I was expecting some kind of fantastic, over-the-top alien technology like in Mars Attacks, rather than the subdued subtleties as in something like E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.

Having said that, Paul’s powers sort of make-up for that. It seemed like everytime something happened we learned about some other fabulous power he possessed. No wonder the government wanted to slice him up and get the secrets. Come to think of it, I think they just wanted to slice him up for the fun of it. That seems to be more their style.

Pacing is pretty good. There aren’t any places that drag the film down. I’ve mentioned earlier how there is a scene that breaks from the comedy, but that doesn’t do anything other than help tie up some loose ends in the plot and whatnot. It doesn’t affect how the film moves along at all.

I liked the story. Knowing how cynical people are these days, I’m sure there are people who would have preferred this story to go in a totally different direction, but not me. Although, it would have been nice to see him harvest some farts (a joke Paul makes when they meet him initially).

You know these days when you have a comedy, you pretty much call in any of these actors (not counting Simon Pegg and Nick Frost). Seriously, look at almost any comedy from the past 3-5 yrs and I would bet you’d find someone’s there and here.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just an observation.

People said that when Seth Rogen lost weight, he lost his ability to be funny (now they say that about Jonah Hill). That was certainly obvious with The Green Hornet, but here it shows that he can still do it. Of course, since Paul was animated, it is possible he recorded his lines while he was still a fat guy.

British comedic actors Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are hilarious as these two sci-fi geeks from, yep, you guessed it, England. Their wide-eyed naivite and chemistry with both Paul and Kristen Wiig really made the film click.

In the end Paul is a good time. No, this isn’t you father’s alien flick, but it is hilarious. Sure there are some issues here and there, but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Look for a couple of surprise cameos, one is only a voice, but it is in a very funny scene. Do I think you should see this? Oh yes, most definitely! I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

4 out of 5 stars