Archive for Drew Barrymore

50 First Dates

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , on December 26, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Henry Roth is a veterinarian at Sea Life Park on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, who has a reputation of womanizing female tourists and shows no interest in committing to a serious relationship. Henry’s closest friends are Ula, a marijuana-smoking Islander; his assistant Alexa, whose sexuality is unclear; Willy, his pet African penguin and Jocko, a walrus.

One day Henry’s boat breaks down while he is sailing around Oahu. He goes to the Hukilau Café to wait for the Coast Guard. There he sees a young woman named Lucy Whitmore, who makes architectural art with her waffles. Henry assumes she is a local, which prevents him from introducing himself, but the next day he comes back. Lucy and he hit it off instantly and she asks him to meet her again tomorrow morning.

When Henry goes back to the café, Lucy shows no recollection of ever meeting him. The restaurant owner Sue (Amy Hill) explains to Henry that one year ago, Lucy and her father Marlin went up to the North Shore to pick a pineapple for his birthday. On the way back, they had a serious car accident that left Lucy with anterograde amnesia and she wakes up every morning thinking it is October 13 of last year. To save her the heartbreak of reliving the accident every day, Marlin and Doug, Lucy’s lisping steroid-addicted brother, re-enact Marlin’s birthday by following a script, including putting out October 13’s Sunday newspaper, re-watching the same Vikings game, and refilling Lucy’s shampoo bottles.

Despite Sue’s warning, Henry invites Lucy to have breakfast with him. Eventually he does, but it ends poorly when Henry unintentionally hurts Lucy’s feelings. He follows her home to apologize where Marlin and Doug instruct Henry to leave Lucy alone. Henry begins concocting ways to run into Lucy through the following days such as pretending to have car trouble, creating a fake road block, or by having Ula beat him up. Eventually, Marlin and Doug figure this out due to Lucy singing The Beach Boys “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” on the days when she meets Henry.

One day, as Henry is about to sit with Lucy at breakfast, she notices a police officer writing her a ticket for her expired plates. Lucy attempts to argue that they are not yet expired, and takes a newspaper to prove herself, but sees that the date on all the newspapers is not October as she thought, and Marlin and Doug are forced to admit their ruse when she confronts them.

Henry comes up with an idea to make a video explaining to Lucy her accident and their relationship and play it every morning for her. She watches the tape and is hurt, but eventually comes to her senses and is able to spend the day by picking up where the tape says she left off. She spends more time with Henry and goes to see some of her old friends. Lucy decides to erase Henry completely from her life after learning of his decision not to take a sailing trip to Bristol Bay to study walruses, something he has been planning for the past 10 years. He feels he cannot leave Lucy for the year it will take him. Henry reluctantly helps her destroy her journal entries of their relationship.

A few weeks later, Henry is preparing to leave for his sailing trip. Before he departs, Marlin tells him that Lucy is now living at the brain institute and teaching an art class. He also tells him that she sings. Then, he gives Henry a Beach Boys CD. Listening to the CD, Henry becomes emotional and curses Marlin for giving him the CD and making him feel so emotional. He then remembers that Marlin once told him that Lucy always sings after she meets him. Concluding that Lucy remembers him, he returns home. She says she does not remember, but then she dreams about him every night and paints pictures of him. They reconcile.

Some time later, Lucy wakes up and plays a video tape marked “Good Morning Lucy”. It again informs her of her accident, but ends with her and Henry’s wedding. From the tape, Henry says to put a jacket on and come have breakfast when she is ready. Lucy then sees that she is on Henry’s boat, which finally made it to Alaska. She goes up on deck and meets Marlin, Henry and their daughter, Nicole.

REVIEW:

I probably should have saved this one for closer to Valentine’s Day, but oh well. 50 First Dates is considered by many to be one of Sandler’s best film, but it is also one of the films that started the belief that he just pays for his friends to go on a vacation, and I should also mention that this is one of the last of the Sandler films that people really like. So, since this brought about the end of an era, let’s see if he went out with a bang, shall we?

What is this about?

In this offbeat romantic comedy, marine veterinarian Henry Roth changes his womanizing ways after he falls for pretty art teacher Lucy Whitmore. Trouble is, she has no short-term memory, so Henry has to win her over again every day.

What did I like?

Creativity. Imagine if someone in your life was afflicted with this brand of short-term memory loss. I am more than inclined to believe we would all do everything we can to make sure everything is perfect for them. That is exactly what Lucy’s father, brother, and all the people around her try to do. While it may seem like the neverending hell of Groundhog’s day to them, it is always a new experience for her. When Henry comes into the picture, it was intriguing to see how creative he was at getting her to remember him. Not going to say any of them here, just watch for yourself.

Chemistry. In Blended, we were treated to the on-screen reunion of Sandler and Barrymore and were amazed at how well their chemistry has withstood the years. Here, we get to see their second go-round (The Wedding Singer being the first), and perhaps the best pairing of the two. It may have just been the way they or the situation were written, but they have this puppy dog type of romance that just gives you the warm fuzzy feeling inside.

Romance. Continuing on that romance angle, think back to your best romance (doesn’t have to be your current significant other, mind you). Wouldn’t you like to take the best parts of that relationship and live it everyday, at least for awhile? I know that I would (and forget about the mistakes that brought it to an end…lol). These two are like a high school couple. They truly enjoy each other’s company, share each other’s affection, etc. I believe the term they use for this is “meetcute”. For this film, it works a thousand fold!

What didn’t I like?

Ulu. I know that Adam Sandler and Rob Schneider are friends, at least they were for the longest time. They had an argument or something and haven’t really done much together since. Anwyay, as I was saying, they are friends, and Schneider is a good comedic foil. However, making a Hawaiian just wasn’t working. Did he have to be painted that weird gray-brown color? And that accent…was he Hawaiian? Mexican? Some mixture of all nationalities? What was the deal there?

Get off the juice. I didn’t really get the reason to have Sean Astin’s character allegedly juicing. First of all, he looks like he is just ripping off Josh Brolin’s clothes from The Goonies (which was his big brother in that movie). Second, he isn’t anywhere near big enough to be roided out. Seriously, who did this casting?!?

80s…in reggae form. Adam Sandler is in love with the 80s, and who can blame him. Normally, I would defend his love of that totally awesome decade, but I don’t think the songs fit in this film. Part of that may have just been that they were given reggae/ska remakes and it was distracting. That isn’t to say all of them fall into that category, but most do. Perhaps we could have just been treated to new reggae/ska tunes? There was a version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” that is typically associated with Hawaii, maybe more stuff like that would have worked better.

Man, can you just imagine taking your significant other on 50 First Dates (see what I did there?) Seriously, though, this is a nice, I believe the term is “Netflix and chill”, film. Those that are into that sentimental, sappy stuff have something to watch, while those that are into good comedy have something, as well. Don’t let me forget to mention the beautiful Hawaii scenery, though it isn’t on as full display as you would think with a Sandler film. Do I recommend this picture? Yes, very highly. You and your date will have a nice romantic evening!

5 out of 5 stars

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Blended

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Divorcee Lauren Reynolds (Drew Barrymore), who has two sons, Brendan (Braxton Beckham) and Tyler (Kyle Red Silverstein), meets Jim Friedman (Adam Sandler), a widower with three daughters, Hilary (Bella Thorne), Espn (Emma Fuhrmann), and Lou (Alyvia Alyn Lind) on a blind date. The date ends in disaster due to conflict between Jim’s clumsy and careless attitude and Lauren’s perfectionist nature.

Later, Jim and Lauren run into each other at a pharmacy; Jim for tampons for his daughter Hilary and Lauren for an adult magazine for Brendan. Afterwards, Jim realizes that their credit cards were mixed up, due to them exchanging products to avoid embarrassment, and goes to Lauren’s house to switch them back. There, he and Lauren learn that Lauren’s friend Jen (Wendi McLendon-Covey) has broken up with her boyfriend Dick (Dan Patrick), who happens to be Jim’s boss, over his having kids, and that they will no longer be going on a planned African vacation together. Unbeknownst to each other, Jim and Lauren both arrange to go on the pre-booked vacation with their families. When they arrive in Africa the two families are surprised to see each other. Things get more awkward when Jim and Lauren are given a romantic suite.

The families are put together for a “blended familymoon”, where they get together with other couples, including the oversexed Eddy (Kevin Nealon) and Ginger (Jessica Lowe), as well as Eddy’s teenage son Jake (Zak Henri), who Hilary develops a crush on at first sight.

The kids make an awkward impression with each other, with Brendan calling his mom “hot,” and the others not knowing how to react to Espn acting like her mom is there with her. Over time, they begin to bond with each other and each other’s parents.

Jim makes the boys happy by helping them with adventurous sports, while Lauren takes care of the girls, and helps Hilary to change her tomboy look into a more feminine one. Jim and Lauren warm up to each other as time passes. They inadvertently get together for a couples massage and have fun with each other.

On the last night of the trip, Lauren puts on a beautiful black dress that she admired earlier. She wears it that evening and receives admiration from everyone. While the children are pulled away for a kids-only buffet, Jim and Lauren are sat down for a romantic dinner, which Lauren soon discovers was actually planned by Jim specifically for her. They chat briefly about basic parenting techniques and then pull in for a kiss; however, at the last second, Jim pulls away, apologizing and explaining that he “can’t do it”.

After returning home, Jim realizes he misses Lauren and that he’s fallen in love with her. Although Espn is not fully ready to move on from her mother’s passing, she also doesn’t want her dad to lose Lauren. At the kids’ behest, Jim goes to Lauren’s house to give her flowers, only to find Mark there, pretending to be back with Lauren. Tyler gets excited to see Jim and wants to play ball, but Jim sadly leaves and Mark bails on his son again. Mark later tries to make a move on Lauren, but she refuses since he has continuously failed to be a good father, as well as having an affair with his receptionist during their marriage.

That following Saturday, Lauren and Brendan go to support Tyler at his game, along with Jen, Dick, who Jen has worked things out with, and his kids. Mark, once again, is a no-show. Jim and his daughters arrive to show encouragement, inspiring Tyler to hit the ball. Jim then finds Lauren and they admit to wanting to be together, and they finally kiss, to the happiness of their kids.

REVIEW:

Adam Sandler can’t catch a break from critics. It seems that the same people who were lapping up his films in the late 90s and early 2000s, when he was at the top of his game, are now the same people who can’t stand his movies. Isn’t it funny how fickle people can be? Sandler is no dummy, though. In an effort to appease the critics, he has reunited with his costar from two of his most enduring films, Drew Barrymore, for Blended.

What is this about?

In this romantic comedy, Jim and Lauren find themselves on a dreadful blind date. Afterwards, the two single parents cross paths once again — but this time at a vacation resort with their kids in tow.

What did I like?

Toned down. Adam Sandler is known for being one of the most successful manchildren (in that the plural of that word?) in Hollywood. These days, his films still have that humor that brought to the big screen after leaving Saturday Night Live, but he seems to be wishing he could do more. This seems to be one of those films that lets him stretch out a bit. The role is a bit more dramatic for Sandler and the comedy, while still potty humor, isn’t as prevalent. Can our boy be growing up?

Usual suspects AWOL. I like Sandler’s usual cache of stars as much as the next guy. Some of them may not have careers if not for their friendship with Sandler, if you think about it. That being said, sometimes you just have to break away, if only for a film or two. Think about how attached at the hip Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were and now look at them. Not having Sandler’s buddies in this film might actually have been a good thing, or he may have just saved all that money and threw it at Drew Barrymore.

Chemistry. Speaking of Drew, I don’t think there is anyone that has better chemistry with Sandler than her. This is I believe their third film together. Watching them, you wonder why they haven’t done more. Once the awkwardness of the plot settles in, it is just like watching two old friends get together and have a good old time. Also, if you’ve noticed in most of Sandler’s films, he tends to have a woman who is hot and half his age, Jennifer Aniston and Salma Hayek being the exceptions. Drew is the only woman for him in the flick and, to quote her son, “my mom is hot!” I’m a little biased, though, because I’ve had a crush on her since the 80s.

What didn’t I like?

Vacation time. Ironically, the trend of Sandler’s films being a vacation for he and his friends seems to have started back with 50 First Dates, which also starred him and Drew Barrymore. I’m not here to judge the guy. If he’s able to pull that kind of weight around, then fine, but it does seem rather odd that he seems to be making films for the sole purpose of taking a vacation. I’m half expecting soon to get something set at Mt. Rushmore or the Grand Canyon

Predictable. If you can’t tell what happens in this film within the first 10 minutes, then I don’t know what to tell you. This is a sweet and charming picture, but everything is so predictable. We know what is going to happen to our stars, what’s going to happen with the kids, etc. Nothing comes as a surprise. Would I change the ending? No, but I would take away some of the predictability. I was reading some comment somewhere that said this should have had a bleak ending. *SIGH* I’ve said my piece on dark ending in another post and won’t go into it here other than to just say no.

Crews’ crew. Someone tell me why Terry Crews hasn’t been in a superhero film yet? The man has the build for it! Luke Cage would have been perfect, but I think age played a role in that. Can you imagine him and Michael Jai White together in something? Anyway, in this film he is some sort of singer. As an over the top character, its just fine, but the constant minstrel show aspect didn’t really work, perhaps because they wore the audience down with Crews, who really is funny in his small role.

What can I say about Blended to sum everything up? Well, it is like this generation’s Brady Bunch, just not as clever. Whoever thought that it would be a good idea to put Sandler and Barrymore back together needs to get a raise. That said, this film could be better with a touch up to the script and some more realistic looking African scenery. Do I recommend this? As a date flick, it isn’t bad, but as a film to just watch, it isn’t anything to write home about. Watch at your own discretion.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Duplex

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Alex Rose and Nancy Kendricks are a young, professional, New York couple in search of their dream home. When they finally find the perfect Brooklyn brownstone they are giddy with anticipation. The duplex is a dream come true, complete with multiple fireplaces, except for one thing: Mrs. Connelly, the old lady who lives on the rent-controlled top floor. Assuming she is elderly and ill, they take the apartment.

However, they soon realize that Mrs. Connelly is in fact an energetic senior who enjoys watching her television at top volume day in and day out and rehearsing in a brass band. As a writer, Alex is attempting to finish his novel against a looming deadline. However, he is interrupted daily by Mrs. Connelly’s numerous demands and requests, and what begins as a nuisance quickly escalates into an all-out war.

When Nancy loses her job and the pair are trapped at home together with Mrs. Connelly, their rage turns to homicidal fantasy as they plot ways to get rid of their no-good neighbor – finally deciding to hire a hitman, Chick, to kill her. However, his asking price for doing the hit is $25,000. Unable to initially come up with the money, Alex approaches Coop to ask for a loan, but is rebuffed. Desperate and needing the money in two days, they sell almost every possession they own to pay Chick who will do the hit on Christmas Eve. Chick fails to kill Mrs. Connelly when she defends herself with her speargun by shooting him in the shoulder.

Accepting defeat, Alex and Nancy decide to evict themselves, but find out that the old woman has died right when they leave. After Alex and Nancy, now with no jobs, friends, or money left, move from New York they contemplate their strange encounters. But here the audience learns that the realtor of the duplex (revealed to be Mrs. Connelly’s son) and the ill-tempered police officer who had frequently harassed and distrusted the couple (her son’s lover), and the woman (who is not in fact dead) does this all the time. The unethical trio have been using an illegal scam for years by harassing young good-natured couples that move into the ground floor duplex, forcing them to move out, and then faking Mrs. Connelly’s own death so they can collect a commission from the next occupants. Alex and Nancy were Mrs. Connelly and her sons latest victims among so many.

At the conclusion, it is revealed that Alex (unaware about the scam) used his experience as inspiration for his next book, which became a best-seller, thus giving the film a semi-happy ending.

REVIEW:

Perhaps I shouldn’t have watched Duplex, seeing as I will (hopefully) be moving in the next few months. This is about the most nightmarish scenario for moving into a new place that one can come across, and yet it was morbidly funny. I do have to wonder, though, for people not in the situation of nearly moving, would the humor work as well?

What is this about?

New York City couple Alex and Nancy dream of the departure of their upstairs neighbor, who’s hogging a rent-controlled apartment they’d dearly love to have. If she doesn’t move out, they may have to take matters into their own hands.

What did I like?

Coupling. For some reason, I didn’t think that Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore would make a good on screen couple, and somehow they surprise me with their great chemistry. Both have great comedic chops, playing off each other, and they also make the lovey-dovey stuff believable, but not overly mushy, excluding a scene in which Barrymore’s character is gushing over her hubby to her coworker.

Let’s get physical. The physical comedy, stunts, and gags are really what make this film worth watching as they deal with their old lady tenant from hell. As they continue to plot and plan to get her out, failing miserably at every turn, one can’t help but laugh at their apparent ineptitude, while feeling animosity toward the old lady who won’t go away.

There was an old lady. By all accounts, the audience shouldn’t like the old lady, but she’s such a sweet old bitty that you can’t help it. That Irish accent she has doesn’t help either. As with most old ladies in films of this nature, she gets many of the best lines, but does she get the last laugh?

What didn’t I like?

Give them a break. At a point in the film, it seems like our protagonists can’t win for losing, and just when it seems that things are going to turn around, the crazy old lady upstairs somehow manages to ruin things to the point that Ben Stiller’s character’s laptop, which holds his newly finished novel, catches fire and is eventually run over and destroyed by a street sweeper. Call me a softie, but I just wanted the poor guy to get one over on that old bad, especially for that. Seems like that was a bit too far, if you ask me.

Cop. Continuing on the point of giving a break, there is this cop who appears to be in the old lady’s pocket, based on the way he sides with her on everything, even when they save her life by doing CPR. Wonder why no one trusts cops anymore? It is because of characters like this (and the police that don’t do anything when they see something wrong, but that’s a topic for another blog).

Wasted talent. This is not a bad cast, but I can’t help but feel for the wasted talent. For instance, James Remar as the assassin seemed like he would make for an interesting character, but all he really does is give Ben Stiller’s character porn when we first meet him, and gets shot by a harpoon from the old lady. Harvey Fierstein is quite the accomplished comedic actor, but he was relegated to something akin to a cameo, when he perhaps could have been more. Swoosie Kurtz, Maya Rudolph, Wallace Shawn, and Justin Theroux also fall into the wasted talent trap.

In conclusion, Duplex leaves the audience with enough laughs to call it a comedy. The dark comedy and the talent of Stiller and Barrymore carry, or should I say drag, over the finish line. There are issues with this film, but it shouldn’t be enough to totally keep you away. Do I recommend it? Yes, but proceed with caution, as this is not a great comedy, just an ok flick. Check it out, if you’d like.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

Posted in Classics, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , on December 22, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In a California forest, a group of alien botanists collect flora samples. When government agents appear on the scene, the aliens flee in their spaceship, mistakenly leaving one of their own behind. The scene shifts to a suburban home, where a 10-year-old boy named Elliott is trying to hang out with his 16-year-old brother Michael and his friends. As he returns from picking up a pizza, Elliott discovers that something is hiding in their tool shed. The creature promptly flees upon being discovered. Despite his family’s disbelief, Elliott lures the alien from the forest to his bedroom using a trail of Reese’s Pieces. Before he goes to sleep, Elliott realizes the alien is imitating his movements. Elliott feigns illness the next morning to stay home from school and play with the alien. Later that day, Michael and their five-year-old sister Gertie meet the alien. They decide to keep him hidden from their mother. When they ask it about its origin, the alien levitates several balls to represent its solar system and then demonstrates its powers by reviving a dead plant.

At school the next day, Elliott begins to experience a psychic connection with the alien, including exhibiting signs of intoxication due to the alien drinking beer, and he begins freeing all the frogs in a biology class. As the alien watches John Wayne kiss Maureen O’Hara in The Quiet Man, Elliott kisses a girl he likes.

The alien learns to speak English by repeating what Gertie says as she watches Sesame Street and, at Elliott’s urging, dubs itself “E.T.” E.T. reads a comic strip where Buck Rogers, stranded, calls for help by building a makeshift communication device, and is inspired to try it himself. He gets Elliott’s help in building a device to “phone home” by using a Speak & Spell toy. Michael notices that E.T.’s health is declining and that Elliott is referring to himself as “we”.

On Halloween, Michael and Elliott dress E.T. as a ghost so they can sneak him out of the house. Elliott and E.T. ride a bicycle to the forest, where E.T. makes a successful call home. The next morning, Elliott wakes up in the field, only to find E.T. gone, so he returns home to his distressed family. Michael searches for and finds E.T. dying in a ditch and takes him to Elliott, who is also dying. Mary becomes frightened when she discovers her son’s illness and the dying alien, just as government agents invade the house. Scientists set up a medical facility there, quarantining Elliott and E.T. Their link disappears and E.T. then appears to die while Elliott recovers. A grief-stricken Elliott is left alone with the motionless alien when he notices a dead flower, the plant E.T. had previously revived, coming back to life. E.T. reanimates and reveals that his people are returning. Elliott and Michael steal a van that E.T. had been loaded into and a chase ensues, with Michael’s friends joining them as they attempt to evade the authorities by bicycle. Suddenly facing a dead end, they escape as E.T. uses telekinesis to lift them into the air and toward the forest.

Standing near the spaceship, E.T.’s heart glows as he prepares to return home. Mary, Gertie, and “Keys”, a government agent, show up. E.T. says goodbye to Michael and Gertie, as Gertie presents E.T. with the flower that he had revived. Before entering the spaceship, E.T. tells Elliott “I’ll be right here”, pointing his glowing finger to Elliott’s forehead. He then picks up the flower Gertie gave him, walks into the spaceship, and takes off, leaving a rainbow in the sky as Elliott (and the rest of them) watches the ship leave

REVIEW:

Over the years I’ve been doing this blog, I’ve reviewed some films that have been pretty well-known, some that have gone on to become huge hits, some that are supremely obscure, and some classics that as soon as you mention the name, it takes you back to feeling you had when you first saw it, be it in the theater, home, or other. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is one of those films.

What is this about?

Steven Spielberg’s 1982 smash hit tells the heartwarming story of the special bond 10-year-old Elliot (Henry Thomas) forges with an alien he names E.T. The adventures they share as Elliot tries to hide his new friend and E.T. tries to get back to his planet (“E.T. phone home!”) provide plenty of action, laughter and tears.

What did I like?

Connection. As we settle in and get to know and laugh at E.T. as he stumbles around trying to figure out the way things work and if there is a way he can use these crude inventions to help him contact his home plane. He and Elliot, played by Henry Thomas, develop a bond that is so deep that they can feel each other’s feeling. This is best on display during the frog scene where E.T. is watching something, I forgot what, drinking beer, and letting his feeling flow through Elliot, which culminates is his kissing a young Erika Eleniak (future “Baywatch babe”). A downside to the connection is that as E.T. appears to die, he turns white and everything, Eliot gets really sick. I’ll go more into that in a little bit.

Music. Anytime you get a score from one of the best film score composers of all time, John Williams, you’re sure to get something great and memorable. The score he came up with for this film is no exception, but it is the majestic way he mixes the score with what is happening on screen. This is no more obvious than in the flying scene. The masterful way he builds up the theme as it climaxes just as the kids are in the center of the moon, as it were, is a thing of beauty!

E.T. This is a sci-fi film from the early 80s, so you can imagine that there are fantastic creatures to be seen, right? Well, other than E.T. and his species that appear at the beginning of the film, everyone else is human. However, the design of E.T. is great. The rumor is that this was Spielberg’s imaginary friend after his parents divorced. I wonder if I can parlay my imaginary friend from childhood into highly successful movie character. Aside from the great design, E.T. is also a character that we feel for. We want him to get home. We want him to not be caught by the kids’ mother or the government guys. There is a connection that he has with the audience that is developed in a very short amount of time.

Matters of the heart. When I was little, my dad went to Korea for a TDY assignment (he was in the Air Force). Aside from some Korean stuff, he brought my sister and I back E.T. plushes. Being the wanna be artist that I was at the time, I drew a heart on mine and also doused him in baby powder. The powder came off easily, but to this day, he still has the heart drawn on him. Why did I try to turn him white? Well, in what is the most emotional scene of the film, E.T. and Henry Thomas’ character are caught by the government and, because of his apparent sickness, being studied. E.T. appears to be getting worse, as his skin has turned from slimy brown to dried out white. After a few moments, he apparently dies. When this happens, you can just feel the life sucked out of the room and a tear comes your eye. Talk about a powerful scene!

What didn’t I like?

Change. I happen to have the 20th Anniversary DVD. What is wrong with that? Well, there are scenes that E.T. is CG. I am never going to be a fan of CG, especially when it is added in as this is. E.T. was animatronic and, in some scenes, I believe someone in a puppet suit. As bad as the CG E.T. was, and trust me, it is bad…noticeably bad, the fact that someone decided to take the guns away from the cops later in the film and replace them with walkie-talkies is just stupid! Yes, I said walkie-talkies. Our society has become so squeamish that these days if someone is smoking it adds a rating to a film, i.e. PG becomes PG-13, at one point they were talking about taking the twin towers out of any and all films featuring New York City, etc. UGH!!!! Well, apparently, they changed the guns to walkie-talkies because…well, I don’t really know, but it makes no damn sense to me! Thankfully, though, Spielberg listened to the backlash about this and for the 30th anniversary edition the guns are back.

Drew. Making her debut is 8 yr old Drew Barrymore and she is cute as a button. That is the problem. A very small problem but, as is the problem with many child actors, it is hard to see her as a young ‘un compared to the gorgeous hottie she grew up to be.

When all the dust is cleared, the credits have rolled, and E.T. has gone home, what did I ultimately think of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial? I think you would be hard pressed to find a better film for the whole family. There have been many duplicators, imitators, and what not, most notably Mac and Me, but none came anywhere near the quality of this great classic. Do I recommend? Yes! Emphatically, I say this is a film that you must see before you die!

5 out of 5 stars

Ever After: A Cinderella Story

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on November 23, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the early 19th century, the Grande Dame of France (Jeanne Moreau), an elderly aristocrat, summons the Grimm Brothers and proposes to tell them the real story of the little cinder girl. The lady claims that Cinderella was really a young woman named Danielle de Barbarac. She reveals a portrait of Danielle and a glass slipper, and proceeds to tell the story.

Danielle de Barbarac is a young girl who lives in a manor with her widowed father, Auguste, whom she adores. When Danielle is eight, her father marries the haughty Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent (Anjelica Huston), who has two daughters about Danielle’s age. Soon after, Auguste dies. Rodmilla is envious of Danielle, and treats her like a servant after Auguste’s death.

Ten years pass. The Baroness has fallen into debt. Marguerite, her spoiled older daughter, has grown to be cruel, arrogant, and bad-tempered; while the younger, Jacqueline, is kindhearted, soft-spoken, and constantly overlooked. In the orchard one day, Danielle encounters a man attempting to steal her father’s old horse. She pelts him with apples, knocking him to the ground, and is horrified to learn that the man is Henry, the Crown Prince of France. Henry explains that his own horse was lamed in his attempt to escape stifling royal life. He forgives Danielle in exchange for her silence, and rewards her with money.

In the nearby woods, Henry rescues an old man’s prized possession from a band of gypsies who stole it. The man turns out to be Leonardo da Vinci and the possession is the Mona Lisa. Henry’s parents, the king and queen, have summoned Leonardo to the court. He and Henry become friends.

Danielle resolves to use the money to rescue Maurice, an old family servant whom Rodmilla had sold. While her step-family is out of the house, Danielle dons a noblewoman’s dress and goes to court. She finds Maurice about to be shipped to the Americas, and demands his release. Prince Henry sees this and is impressed with Danielle’s intellect, strength of character, and beauty. Danielle refuses to tell Henry her name, though eventually she leaves him with the name of her mother, Comtesse Nicole de Lancret.

Meanwhile, the Baroness schemes to match Marguerite with Henry, even as Henry is enthralled with the mysterious “Nicole.” Henry and Danielle meet up several times and have passionate arguments about Utopia, class conventions, responsibility, and freedom. She challenges him to use his position for a greater good. At one point, they stumble on the gypsy camp, and after they are accosted, Danielle rescues Henry in an uproarious turn of events that wins them the gypsies’ goodwill. Danielle and Henry share their first kiss by the gypsy campfire that night. However, Henry knows that unless he chooses a wife before the upcoming masquerade ball, his parents will marry him to a Spanish princess.

When Danielle’s family receives their invitation to the ball, they lament their failing fortunes and lack of fancy clothes. The Baroness proposes that Marguerite should wear Danielle’s mother’s wedding dress and the matching glass slippers, which were stored away for Danielle’s wedding. Danielle discovers them however, but when she retaliates against Marguerite for mocking her dead mother, she is punished with a severe whipping and having her treasured copy of Utopia burned. Through this, she gains a confidant in Jacqueline.

Danielle decides her idealized view of her relationship with Prince Henry is futile, and that she must break it off. She meets him again as they had planned, but her courage fails her as Henry misinterprets what she says and declares his love for her. Danielle, on the verge of tears, bids him farewell and flees.

Just before the ball, the Baroness discovers the interludes between Danielle and Henry, and her masquerade as the Comtesse de Lancret. The Baroness then informs the Queen that “Nicole” has gone to marry another, and the Queen in turn tells Henry. The Baroness also forbids Danielle from attending the ball.

On the day of the ball, the Baroness and Marguarite accuse Danielle of hiding the dress and slippers. After shouting that she would rather die than see Margurite wear her mother’s gown, Danielle is locked in the larder. Her childhood friend Gustave asks for help from Leonardo, who frees her by unhinging the door. He also encourages her to go to the ball and tell Henry the whole truth, saying that the Prince’s love for her will be enough to overcome convention. The servants give Danielle her mother’s dress and slippers, which they had hidden from Marguerite, and Leonardo gives her a pair of wings.

Just as the King and Queen are about to announce Henry’s engagement to the Spanish princess, Gabriella, Danielle arrives at the ball. Henry is overjoyed, but the Baroness rushes forward and tears off one of Danielle’s wings, accusing her of plotting to entrap the Prince and revealing that she is a commoner. Danielle tries to explain but Henry is humiliated and refuses to listen, calling her an imposter. Devastated, she runs away, losing one of her slippers. Leonardo picks up the slipper, and reprimands Henry for abandoning Danielle, and the principles he claimed to espouse, when she risked everything for him.

Henry stubbornly refuses to consider the truth until he is about to be married. As the wedding begins, the Spanish princess sobs uncontrollably, imploring her parents to allow her to marry her commoner lover. Henry bursts out laughing, and the wedding is called off.

Henry rushes out of the church to find Danielle only to learn that she has been sold to a vile landowner, Pierre Le Pieu. He sets off to rescue her. At his castle, Le Pieu threatens Danielle, now a servant in shackles, with sexual advances. She turns the tables on him and threatens him at sword-point; in exchange for his life he frees her. She walks out of the castle just as Henry arrives. He begs for her forgiveness, telling her he’s been looking for the woman who left behind the glass slipper the night of the ball. He asks her to marry him as he slips it on her foot, and she accepts.

The Baroness and her daughters are summoned to court, assuming that Henry plans to propose to Marguerite. Instead, Rodmilla and Marguerite are asked if they have ever lied to the Queen about Danielle’s engagement. The Baroness makes feeble excuses, while Marguerite tries to save herself by blaming her mother. The ladies turn to Jacqueline for corroboration, but she stands up for herself and refuses to lie for them. The Queen strips the Baroness and Marguerite of their titles and tells them that they will be shipped to the New World colonies, unless someone pleads for them. Danielle steps forward and is introduced as Henry’s wife. Danielle asks that Marguerite and the Baroness be sent to work in the royal laundry for the rest of their days as a fitting punishment. Jacqueline, who had always been kind to Danielle, is spared punishment. She marries the captain of the royal guard, whom she met at the ball.

The Grand Dame reveals to the Brothers Grimm that she is Danielle’s great-great-granddaughter, and, as evidenced by the glass slipper and Da Vinci’s portrait, not only did they live happily ever after, but the story is indeed true.

REVIEW:

I love Drew Barrymore, especially before she went and became all anorexic like she is these days. Somehow, I had let Ever After: A Cinderella Story slip by me, though. The little woman, though, felt the need to watch it tonight, so there you have it.

I have to say that this was not to my liking at all. That is not to say that this is a bad film, I just didn’t care for it.

First off, they took the Cinderella story and made it seem as if it was a historical event, rather than a fairy tale. I applaud them for taking this risk, but they could have done it with a little more…something. This just seemed to drag on and was extremely heavy on the drama, even for a drama.

The characters all seem rather 1 dimensional, with the exception of Drew Barrymore and Anjelica Houston’s. Each of these people just seem to be floating around in a world that seems like it could use something, anything, interesting to happen. I also didn’t quite understand why they put Leonardo da Vinci in here, except for they needed him to bring some sort of credibility, for lack of a better term, to the historical aspect.

In the end, there are going to be those that really love this film. I would wager that most of those people are going to be of the female persuasion. For me, I think that if you want this story told the way it was meant to be and not just another lifeless drama, then you’d be better served watching Ella Enchanted or, even better, Disney’s Cinderella (animated or musical).

3 out of 5 stars

Whip It

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The movie takes place in the 1990s in the Austin, Texas region. Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page) is a misfit in the small town of Bodeen, Texas, with no sense of direction in her life. Her mother, a former beauty queen, pushes her to enter beauty pageants despite her lack of interest. Bliss and her friend Pash (Alia Shawkat) dream of escaping, Pash planning on attending an ivy league school in a big city, but Bliss is uncertain as to what she wants for her future. During a shopping trip to Austin with her mother, Bliss encounters three roller derby team members. Intrigued, she and Pash attend a roller derby event under the pretense of going to a football game, where they see the Holy Rollers defeat the Hurl Scouts, a perennially unsuccessful derby team. Bliss tells the Hurl Scouts that they are “her new heroes” and is suddenly drawn to the idea of being in a roller derby herself when one of the Hurl Scouts, Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig) replies, “Well, put some skates on. Be your own hero.”

Returning to Austin, Bliss lies about her age and tries out for the Hurl Scouts, discovering her natural skating abilities in the process.

After realizing she needs to be ruthless in a roller derby, Bliss sees she needs to take charge in other aspects of her life, revealed through various sub-plots. One involves Bliss’s love interest, a lanky young rock guitarist and singer named Oliver (Landon Pigg) whom she meets via her exposure to roller derby. They enjoy a whirlwhind romance and underwater making out, until Oliver leaves for a tour, taking Bliss’ T-shirt with him. She later finds a picture of him at a gig with another girl, who is wearing her t-shirt. She breaks up with him following his return, although he vehmently denies anything happened. Another sub-plot examines Bliss’s relationship with her parents, a loving but controlling mother and an amiable but clueless father who seldom opposes his wife’s parental decisions, although preceding her parents discovery of Bliss’ involvement in roller derby (right before the championship roller derby match), he convinces her mother to let her out of a pageant which is at the same time and gets the Hurl Scouts to come get her for the match. Various other sub-plots include her relationship with Pash, and confrontations with a stuck up snob at school. Pash is fine with Bliss’ new path, until she gets arrested with an open container of beer while she is waiting for Bliss, who has left to go make out with Oliver. Eventually, Pash gets together with their slightly pathetic coworker and forgives Bliss. The movie ends with the Hurl Scouts narrowly losing the championship match and everyone finally getting along,; the team chants “We’re number two!”, the same thing they chanted when they lost their first match (the coach pointed out that there were only two teams involved).

REVIEW:

 Something they keep alluding to in this film is that these are “tough chicks in nylons”[sic]. I guess some guys get turned on by this. I’m not one of them, but I did enjoy this film, surprisingly.

Admittedly, I wasn’t expecting much from this. As a matter of fact, I have been avoiding this flick since it was released.

Whip It begins at a beauty pageant, where we can all but tell why our young heroin, for lack fo a better term, is destined for the roller derby ranks. Wouldn’t you need some sort of release after being subject to that rigomoro on a constant basis? Not to mention her overbearing mother. I wonder if she was as bad as the Toddlers & Tiaras parental units.

I don’t know much about roller derby, but from what I can tell these filmmakers do a pretty good job of capturing the excitement that goes into these matches, without going too far overboard in a sad attempt to create some dramatic moment. The plot does a good enough job of handling all the drama.

Speaking of the plot, it is about as simple as can be. The aforementioned beauty pageant contestant gets fed up with the pageant scene and tries out, sans her parent’s knowledge, for a roller derby team in Austin, TX. She soon becomes the league’s star, but along the way her best friend gets arrested for underage drinking which leads to her parents finding out about her secret roller derby life. On top of all that, there is the typical boyfriend drama that accompanies any film involving a teenage girl.

Ellen Page really embraces this character, but I am kind of getting the feeling from her that she’s being typecast as this rebellious teen, since every other role has been similar. I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

Marcia Gay Harden really shines as the overbearing, pageant queen mother. Her performance was so believable that I have to wonder if she drew from any real life experiences.

Newcomer Ali Sawkhat turns in a solid supporting role, as do the roller derby girls, mainly Kristin Wiig, who seems to be the “maternal” one. Of course, the fact that she turns out to have a kid of her own may be the reason for that.

Juliette Lewis is once again the bad guy, of sorts. Anyone remember the days of The Other Sister, when she actually portrayed a nice girl?

While watching this film, you may think that the coach is Owen Wilson with his nose fixed, but in reality, it is the other Wilson brother, Andrew.

Whip It is one of those sports movies that is what you think it will be. The only thing that isn’t what you think is the pageant stuff. I enjoyed this film and think that pretty much anyone who watches it will, as well. Drew Barrymore did a bang up job with her directorial debut!

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Wedding Singer

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on September 27, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Set in 1985, Robbie Hart (Adam Sandler) is a wedding singer from the town of Ridgefield, New Jersey. Engaged to his long-time girlfriend, Linda (Angela Featherstone), he meets and befriends a waitress, Julia Sullivan (Drew Barrymore), at the reception hall where he regularly performs. Julia is also engaged, to businessman Glenn Gulia (Matthew Glave).

On his wedding day, Robbie is devastated when Linda leaves him standing at the altar, citing his failure to move on with his singing career. Robbie tries to move forward with his life, but despair hinders his performances. Julia tries to cheer him up, and later asks him to help her plan her own wedding. Initially reluctant, Robbie eventually agrees, and their friendship blossoms. During a double date between Julia and Glenn, and Robbie and Julia’s cousin, Holly (Christine Taylor), Robbie learns that Glenn is unfaithful to Julia.

Julia and Robbie are increasingly confused by their deepening feelings for each other, and Robbie labours under the misapprehension that a “real” job will impress Julia. She becomes angry with him for assuming that she is marrying Glenn for his money. After confiding in his best friend, Sammy (Allen Covert), Robbie finally decides to confess his true feelings and heads to Julia’s house. When he arrives, he sees her through her bedroom window. Julia is wearing her wedding dress and happily imagining herself as Robbie’s wife, but Robbie mistakenly believes that she is looking forward to marrying Glenn.

Heartbroken, Robbie leaves to get drunk and finds Glenn in the midst of his bachelor party. After a heated exchange, Glenn sucker punches Robbie. An intoxicated Robbie goes home and finds Linda waiting for him, and wanting to reconcile. Robbie passes out, but the following morning, Linda answers the door and introduces herself as Robbie’s fiancée to a crestfallen Julia. Julia runs to Glenn, wanting to be married immediately, and Glenn happily offers to take her to Las Vegas.

Robbie awakens and promptly breaks it off with Linda for good. Inspired by the 50th wedding anniversary of his friend Rosie, to whom he has been giving singing lessons, Robbie decides to pursue Julia. Just then, Holly arrives, telling him of Julia’s plans. Robbie, Sammy, and Holly rush to the airport, where Robbie books a flight to Las Vegas; his ticket is first class because the coach seats are sold out. After telling his story to a sympathetic audience in first class which includes Billy Idol (playing himself), Robbie learns that Glenn and Julia are on the same flight. Over the loudspeaker, and with the help of Billy Idol and the flight crew, Robbie sings a song he has written called “Grow Old With You,” which he has dedicated to Julia. The two admit their love for each other and as they’re about to kiss, Billy Idol interrupts. Impressed with Robbie’s song, Billy plans to tell the record companies about him, allowing Robbie to finally fulfill his dream of being a songwriter.

The movie closes with Julia and Robbie’s wedding.

REVIEW:

Ah, the 80s! Big hair, funky clothes, music that wasn’t depressing. A good decade. In ’85, I was only 7, but I still have memories of those days. Adam Sandler, apparently has the same feeling, which is why The Wedding Singer is set in 1985.

Sandler plays Robbie Hart, a nice guy wedding singer who is left at the altar by his fiance and falls in love with a waitress (Drew Barrymore) at a random wedding where he happens to be singing. I think this up there in the top 5..scratch that, top 2 funniest performances by Sandler.

Drew Barrymore plays Julia perfectly. With a mixture of the sweet, girl next door good looks and bubbly personality that has endeared her to audiences worldwide since the days of E.T.

The rest of the cast is magnificent, especially Ellen Dow, who plays Rosie, the elderly lady who pays Robbie in meatballs for singing lessons.

I would love to say that the highlight of this film is the acting, or the story, or something along those lines, but in fact, it is the music. First, we have the music that plays in various montages and such. Then there are the songs that Sandler (as well as Jon Lovitz and Steve Buscemi) sing at the weddings. Finally, there is the original songs that Sandler sings. All these make for quite the interesting backdrop to a very entertaining film.

Speaking of entertaining…remember when Adam Sandler used to make these films? The kind that weren’t all preahy and borderline dramatic? He used to have fun with his movies. Its part of why he’s as bug a star as he is. As I said before, this is one of his best pictures.

Those of us that have ever been to weddings and/or receptions know that there is usually this guy (or girl) there that sings bad covers of popular songs. This is the basis for the this film. Sandler takes the idea and turns it into comedy gold. If you’re a fan of a good comedy and some nice 80s tracks, then this is the picture for you.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars