Archive for Hector Elizondo

The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement

Posted in Chick Flicks, Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Five years after the first film, Crown Princess of Genovia Amelia “Mia” Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) has just graduated from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School and is returning to Genovia with her bodyguard Joe (Héctor Elizondo). There, she will await her reign once her grandmother, Queen Clarisse (Julie Andrews), steps down as Queen. During Mia’s 21st birthday party, she dances with all the eligible bachelors in hope of finding a husband. She becomes attracted to a handsome gentleman named Nicholas (Chris Pine). During the course of the night, Mia’s tiara falls off and is caught by a Member of Parliament, Viscount Mabrey (John Rhys-Davies) who secretly plans to steal Mia’s crown. While the Parliament is in-session the next morning, Mia stumbles upon a hidden room that allows her to secretly listen in. Viscount Mabrey reveals his nephew, Lord Devereaux, is another heir to the Genovian throne. Despite Queen Clarisse’s objection, the only way Mia can assume her duties as Queen is if she marries within the month. Clarisse invites Lord Devereaux to stay at the palace, while Mia is shocked to discover Lord Devereaux is Nicholas. Mia’s best friend Lilly Moscovitz (Heather Matarazzo) surprises her by visiting. Together, they pick through potential husbands. Mia eventually chooses Andrew Jacoby (Callum Blue), Duke of Kenilworth and days later they are engaged. Mabrey plans to have Nicholas woo Mia and dissolve the engagement.

For a ceremony, Mia is to ride sidesaddle but does not know how. Queen Clarisse provides an ancestral wooden leg decoy to make it look like she’s riding sidesaddle. Mabrey spooks Mia’s horse with a rubber snake and Joe rushes to Mia’s aide, but accidentally tears off the wooden leg. Humiliated, Mia flees to the stables, where Nicholas fails to comfort her. At a garden party, Mia and Nicholas quarrel about Mia’s relationship with Andrew; Nicholas tricks Mia into admitting she doesn’t love him. Angered, she argues but instead gets bombarded by a kiss. At first, she kisses him back but then backs away. Nicholas pursues her even more, which causes both of them to fall into a fountain. Queen Clarisse finally tells Mia that her behavior with Nicholas needs to stop.

During the Genovian Independence Day parade, Mia sees some boys picking on a little girl (Abigail Breslin), and abruptly halts the parade to comfort the girl. Learning the children are orphans, Mia has a vendor give them all tiaras and lets them walk with her in the parade. Everyone is impressed by her act of generosity, while Mabrey sees it as a political maneuver. Mia later decides to convert one of the royal palaces into a temporary children’s center. That night, Mia has her bachelorette/sleepover party, where Queen Clarisse surfs on a mattress and sings a duet with Princess Asana (Raven-Symoné), one of Mia’s good friends. In the meantime, Mabrey realizes Nicholas has fallen for Mia, but Nicholas says that Mia will never love him. Nicholas comes upon Mia as she is practicing her archery as part of her coronation rites. He helps her succeed in getting the arrow to hit the bullseye, something she had been struggling with. Nicholas then informs Mia that he is leaving, but asks to see her just one more time before he goes. She declines, saying she is under close guard.

That night, Nicholas appears outside Mia’s window and asks her to come out. Lilly encourages her to go, and Mia sneaks out. They ride out to a lake where they share secrets, dance and eventually fall asleep. They awaken to find a man in a boat videotaping them. Mia thinks Nicholas set her up, while he insists he had no idea. By the time Mia gets back to the palace, the scandalous footage is already being broadcast. Andrew is disappointed and kisses Mia to see if there is a romantic spark between them. They realize they do not love each other, but do not call off the wedding for the good of Genovia. The wedding is to take place the following day, and Mia’s mother Helen (Caroline Goodall) comes with her new husband Patrick (Sean O’Bryan) and their newborn son Trevor. Nicholas decides against attending, but his surly housekeeper Gretchen informs him that Mabrey engineered their televised scandal.

Right before the wedding, Joe informs Mia that Nicholas is innocent. Queen Clarisse encourages Mia to follow her heart, something she has never done and has now cost her Joe, the only man she truly loved. Mia reenters the church, and after pointing out how her grandmother has ruled Genovia while unmarried for a number of years, she tells the members of parliament in the audience to consider the significant women in their lives (such as their wives, sisters, daughters and nieces) and questions if they would have them do what they’re trying to force her to do (marrying people they don’t love). Mabrey cites the law again and once again suggests that his nephew be named King, but just then, Nicholas not only refuses the crown, but also disowns Mabrey as his uncle. Mia proposes the law on royal marriages be abolished, and the Parliament unanimously gives its assent. Encouraged by Mia to have her own happy ending, Clarisse proposes to Joe and they are promptly married.

About a week later, Mia is preparing for her coronation when Nicholas shows up. He professes his love for Mia on bended knees, and they share a romantic kiss. The next day, Mia is crowned “Her Majesty Amelia Mignonette Thermopolis Renaldi, Queen of Genovia”, with all in attendance in the royal palace.

An epilogue shows that Genovian Parliament now allows female members, one of whom is Charlotte. And Queen Mia officially opens the children’s home

REVIEW:

Sometimes when the end credits roll on a film you wonder if you will ever see the characters again and what will they be up to the next time we see them, should we be privileged enough to see them again. This was the case with The Princess Diaries. The film ended in a way that left the audience wondering what happens next. Enter The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, a film that I swear I was not meant to see (up until tonight, I have never been able to watch it straight through for various reasons). With all that aside, let’s see if this film is comparable to its predecessor.

What is this about?

Directed by Garry Marshall, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement picks up where its predecessor left off — that is, with American teenager Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) reeling over the news that she is a princess within the royal family of Genovia, a little-known European nation with a population of barely 50,000. As promised, Mia, along with her best friend, Lilly (Heather Matarazzo), travels to Genovia after their high-school graduation. The unlikely princess has hardly settled into the castle, let alone begun representing the country, when she learns that a larger title is approaching more rapidly than expected; it seems as though Mia will have to take over as queen. Suddenly, in addition to further schooling on the etiquette of royalty, Mia finds herself with a daunting prospect — according to Genovian law, all princesses must be married before they can be crowned.

What did I like?

One more once. Not too long before the first film was made, Julie Andrews underwent surgery on her throat/vocal chords. The operation was a success, but she was no longer allowed to sing. I’m not sure what happened, but we get a song from her during the slumber party, albeit nowhere near as strong a vocal performance as we expect from her. Still, it is great to hear her sing a few notes.

In her skin. In this second time out, Anne Hathaway, as Princess Mia, seems much more confident both as an actress and the character as a royal. Can you imagine what this would have been like if she was still bumbling around like she was when we first met her? Granted, she does still have those moments that remind us that while she is the would be queen, the clumsy prep school girl is still in there somewhere.

Grandmother. Julie Andrews’ character is on her way out of the royal spotlight and off the throne as Mia takes her rightful place as ruler of Genovia. It is because of this that I think she is able to not be such a “stick in the mud” and be more of a grandmother towards her granddaughter. We get a few scenes where she is chewing her out, of course, but for the most part, she is the dream grandmother we all wish we had. She had poise, class, elegance, compassion…not to mention she’s Julie Freakin’ Andrews!!!

What didn’t I like?

Nevermore. Aside from her best friend, Lily, who was flown in from California (and felt a bit forced into the film), Mia seems to be close to Princess Asana. There are two glaring issues I want to bring up with this. First, if they are so close, why is Asana only in a couple of scenes? Second, who is she? How did they meet? Why are they so close? Mia grew up with Lily and they were both outsider freaks in high school, so we know that’s why they were so close, but with Asana, we get none of that. She’s just a random character that gets to sing with Julie Andrews.

Formula 1. Is it me or with every film, book, or tv show that involves a royal change of power of sorts, we get someone who wants to prove they are next in line. This is such a cliché’ nowadays. One could tell what was going to happen before it actually does, just by the film’s title and the type of film this is. Come on filmmakers, be creative!

Lionel. Joe, who is retiring when the Queen leaves the throne, is sacked with an intern in his last days. What I found odd about this guy was how he reminded me of Michael from the first film, but with darker skin and slightly shorter hair. This got me thinking…with the way Mia fawned over Michael in the first film, wouldn’t it have been a cool idea for him to show up as Lionel in disguise and be her dream ending? Of course, then Chris Pine’s whole character in this film would be worthless, but he goes on too much bigger and better things after this, so he’ll be fine.

Final verdict on The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement? Let’s see…it repeats some of the same notes from the first film. The soundtrack isn’t as catchy this go-round. Chemistry among the characters is so-so, but I actually believed it in the archery scene with Hathaway and Pine. The mattress surfing scene was perhaps the most fun part of the film. Do I recommend this? Yes, a good (non animated) family film is hard to find. While not great, it is somewhat entertaining and that’s worth something. However, I would suggest going for the first film, if you can.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

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The Other Sister

Posted in Chick Flicks, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on March 9, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

After receiving a well-earned certification from a sheltered boarding school, Carla Tate (Juliette Lewis), an ambitious and mildly mentally challenged young woman, returns home to her over-protective and slightly snobby mother Elizabeth (Diane Keaton). Elizabeth seems to act as if she is embarrassed about her daughter’s disability. During family discussions, Elizabeth adopts an uneasy attitude. Her father Radley (Tom Skerritt) is a dentist and recovering alcoholic. Carla’s ambition is to seek more independence from her family by earning a diploma from a trade school. When Carla meets another mentally challenged student, Daniel McMann (Giovanni Ribisi), they become friends and soon fall in love. Envying Danny’s freedom, Carla convinces her parents she is capable of living on her own and moves into her own apartment. After a time, Carla and Danny become sexually active together.

Danny’s independence is financially compromised when his wealthy and emotionally detached father abruptly stops sending subsistence money. Danny begins to realize that the independence he enjoyed comes with a staggering cost. Danny gets drunk, then seeks solace and insight (and a joyride in a vintage Ford Mustang convertible) from his landlord and friend, Ernie (Hector Elizondo).

During a Christmas party at the country club, nervous about his personal lot, Daniel drinks too much to build up his courage to declare his love for Carla, also telling everyone about their first time making love. A humiliated Carla bursts into tears, screaming at everyone to stop laughing at her. Although Daniel did not intend to embarrass Carla, she nonetheless refuses to see him. Over time, Carla realizes she still loves Danny and wants to see him again despite her mother’s advising her otherwise. At her sister Caroline’s (Poppy Montgomery) wedding, Danny surprises Carla by showing up at the church and asking Carla to marry him, in a scene mimicking The Graduate, the couple’s favorite film.

Everyone supports their wishes except Elizabeth, who is unsure Danny can take care of himself, let alone Carla, who becomes angry, telling her mother she is sick of her dominance and doubt and is also sick of her treating her like an embarrassment. Radley and her sisters Heather (Sarah Paulson) and Caroline support her decision, and the wedding is planned. At first, Elizabeth is determined not to attend; but Radley admonishes her, saying he will walk Carla down the aisle, and finally she relents. Outside the church, Danny surprises Carla with a marching band playing a song from The Music Man… and they are chauffeured away to their honeymoon in Ernie’s prized Mustang.

REVIEW:

As my college days were coming to a close, I met a girl who loved The Other Sister. To this day, I am still on the fence about this film. There are times that I like it and find it a cute little love story, but then there are days when it is just too much for me. What will today bring, I wonder? Let’s find out, shall we?

What is this about?

Carla Tate (Juliette Lewis) has an independent streak a mile wide. Trouble is, she’s mentally handicapped, and her overprotective parents (Diane Keaton and Tom Skerritt) have misgivings about her getting her own apartment and pursuing a relationship with another mentally challenged person (Giovanni Ribisi). An emotional tour de force for Lewis, The Other Sister is ultimately a triumphant story of perseverance in the face of long odds.

What did I like?

Challenge. When was the last time we saw a character that is mentally challenged carry a film? The last one that I can remember is Blankman, which really wasn’t that great. The filmmakers took a chance with this, and it paid off. Not only do these actors, Juliette Lewis and Giovanni Ribisi, come off as believable in their roles, they do so with respect to those with challenges. Kudos to them and their hard work in researching the parts for accuracy.

Give love a chance. Love can be a complicated thing, don’t you think? One thing is for certain, though, everyone deserves a chance to fall in love. Whether you’re an interracial couple living in some backwood town in the south where they won’t let you marry, a gay couple who seem to be treated like second class citizens, if not worse, by government and maybe even their own family and “friends” or, in the case of this film, a couple of sweet individuals whose only crime is being a little different from everyone else. This is not the kind of love story we normally see, and perhaps that is why it is so captivating. We are drawn in as a result of its novelty, as it were, only to become attached to these characters as they struggle for acceptance and deal with normal day to day relationship issues.

Music, man. The Music Man is one of my favorite musicals. Being a band geek for my whole life, marching band music is a genre that I am very familiar with. Who would have thought that  Ribisi’s character in some ways would be a reflection of myself. I think he may love the marching tunes a bit more than me, though. I applaud the choice to include such music in the film. Not many people get, or take, the chance to listen to it anymore, plus it was done very tastefully and not shoved down the audience’s throat.

What didn’t I like?

Mommy, dearest. This is not the kind of film that has an antagonist, but if there was one it would most definitely be Diane Keaton’s character. She is the kind of overbearing, control everything about your life mother that we all dread. A few tweaks to her persona and she could have rivaled the mom in Mommie Dearest. Ok, maybe not that much, but for the tone of this film, her villainous, for lack of a better term, persona didn’t seem to fit. She is the kind of character that needs to be developed over the course of a film, and I’m not really sure she was.

Sister issue. Keeping in mind that this was made in the previous century, I shouldn’t get too bent out of shape about this, but Sarah Paulson’s character keeps hinting that she is in a relationship with another woman. We see her in bed with this girl in a scene where she is talking to Lewis’ character. What’s the problem? They bring this up and how her parents won’t let her bring her beloved to the wedding, but that’s as far as they go with it. For me, if you’re going to bring that up, go somewhere with it. The same could be said for the little temper tantrum Poppy Montgomery had about being the middle sister. To me, that seemed like there was an issue there, as well.

Money and grades. Poor Daniel, he fails a test (or maybe it was a class) and his obviously rich father cuts him off and tells him he needs to go live with his mother. Typical plot device for a film like this, right? I realize that money is a big issue, but I believe they could have come up with something better. Sometimes less is more. Just use the grades as a punishment. I don’t know, maybe I’m just overreacting to this.

Final verdict on The Other Sister? This is a genuinely cute film that could have gone a variety of different directions, given the material. The filmmakers chose to use mentally challenged individuals as the leads, but their disability is not the focal point, their love and connection is. That is why this film works. Do I recommend it? Yes, if you’re in the mood for a cutesy flick to watch with your significant other, this is one to check out!

4 out of 5 stars

The Book of Life

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 8, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

A museum chaperone named Mary Beth takes a group of children on a tour of Mexican folk myths and legends. She tells them the story of the Mexican town of San Angel from the Book of Life, which holds every story in the world.

The spirits La Muerte, ruler of the Land of the Remembered, and Xibalba, ruler of the Land of the Forgotten, set a wager at San Angel’s Day of the Dead festival after seeing two boys, Manolo and Joaquín, competing over a girl named María. La Muerte bets that Manolo will marry María, while Xibalba bets on Joaquín. If La Muerte wins, Xibalba can no longer interfere in mortal affairs, but if Xibalba wins, he and La Muerte switch realms. However, Xibalba cheats by giving Joaquin his Medal of Everlasting Life, which grants the wearer invincibility. María frees a herd of pigs from being slaughtered, angering her father, who sends her away to a boarding school in Spain. While saying their goodbyes, Manolo gives her a baby pig from earlier and she gives him a guitar which is engraved with “Always play from the heart”.[6]

Years pass and Manolo’s musician dreams are suppressed by his father Carlos, who trains him to become a bullfighter like the rest of their family, while Joaquín becomes the revered town hero with the Medal’s aid. On the day of María’s return, a celebration is held culminating in Manolo’s first bullfight. Manolo defeats the bull but refuses to kill it, disappointing Carlos and the crowd but impressing María. That night, María is pressured by her father to marry Joaquín so that he will stay and protect San Angel from the bandit Chakal, though she is conflicted by her feelings for Manolo. María and Manolo meet that night to profess their love for each other, but they are interrupted when a snake, sent by Xibalba, bites María once and seemingly kills her. Despondent, banished from the town by Maria’s father and blamed for her death, Manolo is conned by Xibalba into being sent to the afterlife: the snake bites him twice, killing him.

Manolo arrives in the Land of the Remembered where he reunites with his mother Carmen and his illustrious deceased family members. They travel to La Muerte’s castle to seek María, but only find Xibalba, who explains the bet to an outraged Manolo and that the snake put María in a coma, but killed him. When María awakens, she learns of Manolo’s death and solemnly accepts Joaquín’s proposal. Manolo, Carmen, and Luis, Manolo’s grandfather, travel to the Cave of Souls to reach La Muerte. They meet the amiable Candle Maker, who oversees the lives of everybody in the living world. After seeing that Manolo’s story in the Book of Life is blank (due to Xibalba’s meddling) and can be rewritten by Manolo’s own actions, the Candle Maker takes them to the Land of the Forgotten. Manolo exposes the cheating to La Muerte, who furiously summons Xibalba. Another deal is negotiated; Manolo’s life will be returned if he completes a challenge Xibalba sets him, but if he fails, Xibalba will rule both lands and Manolo will be forgotten. Xibalba, believing Manolo’s fear is bulls, manifests every bull the Sanchez family ever fought which combine to become one giant one for Manolo to defeat.

In the living world, Chakal, who previously owned the Medal, leads his army to San Angel to find it. Chakal kills Carlos, who joins the deceased to watch Manolo fight. Manolo, realizing his fear is actually being himself, again refuses to deliver the finishing blow, instead singing an apology to the grudge-filled spirit asking it to forgive his family’s transgressions, which it does by peacefully dissolving away. Impressed, the deities grant Manolo his life back and send him and his family’s spirits to the living world to defeat Chakal. Manolo is almost killed again when Chakal blows them both up but is saved by the Medal, which Joaquín gives him at the last second. Joaquín returns it to Xibalba and resolves to be a hero of his own accord, while Manolo and María wed happily as La Muerte and Xibalba reconcile.

The story ends, and as the children leave the museum, Mary Beth and a security guard from earlier reveal themselves as La Muerte and Xibalba.

REVIEW:

As we inch closer and closer to what is surely to be called “Indecision 2016”, a small fact keeps being brought up. The population of the United States is becoming more and more ethnic, in particular the Hispanic demographic. So, while China may be slowly taking over every blockbuster, isn’t it time to at least acknowledge the Hispanic viewers. I believe this is what Guillermo del Toro had in mind with The Book of Life. Does this experiment work, though?

What is this about?

Zoe Saldana, Danny Trejo and Cheech Marin lend their voices to this splashy animated fable that weaves a Romeo-and-Juliet story against the backdrop of the Mexican customs surrounding the Day of the Dead.

What did I like?

Colors. Animated films are known for being fairly colorful and, depending on the subject matter, some can have more colors than others. Anyone that has seen a Guillermo del Toro film knows he has a vivid and wild imagination. His live action movies haven’t really lent themselves to wondrous baths of color, though. I argue that some of them *COUGH* Pacific Rim *COUGH* could have done with a little more, just so the audience could decipher who’s who. This world del Toro has created, though is full of vibrant colors. The colors at first seem a bit much, but it is the Land of the Remembered. A place that is a non-stop fiesta, of sorts.

Style. No one has created an alternative to CG yet and traditional hand drawn animation hasn’t made a resurgence just yet, so someone had to do something new with this medium, rather than the traditional character designs that have become so cookie cutter these days. The Boxtrolls did a good job with changing “the norm” (even if it was stop-motion), but that was nothing compared the wooden, marionette type style given to these characters. It was almost as if this was meant to be a stop motion film, but rather than take the millions of hours to create and animate, they kept the look and design and just entered it into the computer. The end result is something never seen before, giving this film a uniqueness all on its own.

Old is new again. How many times have we seen Romeo & Juliet in some fashion or another on film? More than we all care to count, I’m sure. A few tweaks here and there, such as not having two feuding families, and this becomes a fresh take. Speaking of fresh takes, the music selections in this, all given a slightly Mexican/Spanish flair, also become new and fresh. After listening to the version of “Creep” by Radiohead, I had to go download it and listen to the original again.

What didn’t I like?

Charming potato. Like most kids, I grew up watching Sesame Street. One of the segments that still resonates with me, or at least the song does, is where they would have a group of things and something just wouldn’t fit. For example, there would be a lion, tiger, jaguar, and then a toucan. Obviously, the toucan is not like the others, because it isn’t a jungle cat. That same principle applies here. The majority of the cast is Hispanic, so it is strange that in a lead role Channing Tatum is cast. Nothing against the guy, it just seemed odd to me as he’s not exactly known as a voice actor. My theory is that he was cast to be a big name draw because his voice doesn’t really fit with his character and those around him, but at least he didn’t try to force an accent.

You bet your life. Basically, this film boils down to these two guys fighting over this girl for the fate of the world, more or less. Gotta love how immortal deities take human lives and use them as part of their entertainment. I guess on the plus side, they didn’t know the fate of their world rested in their little love triangle. Imagine how that would’ve shaken things up, for better or worse!

Good day, to you, sir. There was a time when Ice Cube was one of the living embodiments of the “angry black male”. Now he does family friendly movies and comedies. That’s what has made him such a bankable star and empire, though. His ability to do such a big 180, so I’m no jumping on his case about that. What I do have to take issue with is that like Channing Tatum, I don’t feel his voice fit his character. That candle guy sounded a bit goofier in my head like King Candy from Wreck-It Ralph or perhaps more of a booming voice like Zeus in Hercules. Also, can we please get Cube to stop shoe horning in “It was a good day” into what is becoming every film he’s in. Yes, it was a big hit for him back in the day, but know he’s sullying the legacy of it for a quick buck! It has to stop!!!

A brilliant, creative mind was at work making The Book of Life come to, um….life. Memorable characters, a great story, some nice action…it has it all. The villainy is a bit weak, though, but I won’t discuss that as it spoils the film. These are the kind of films Hollywood needs to be making, not remakes and reboots of beloved properties. Go out and find some original source material or, and I know this is asking too much, have an original idea! Sorry, I went off on a tangent there. Do I recommend this film? Yes, very much so! Fun for the whole family!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Necessary Roughness

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Due to NCAA sanctions, the Texas State University Fightin’ Armadillos must start from scratch to build a new team after a tradition of winning. The previous staff and players violated numerous rules and regulations, resulting in a ban for everyone from returning except Charlie Banks, the only “clean” player, who never got to play despite having “heart”.

The new coaching staff, led by Ed “Straight Arrow” Gennero (Elizondo), has nothing to assist them in building the team as no athletic scholarships are available. They must look for volunteers from the student body. Along with this, they must worry about Dean Elias (Miller), who wants the team to fail so he can scrap it. A number of student volunteers are assembled, and soon the coaches have a makeshift team in place.

There are not enough members of the team to have offense and defense due to Dean Elias, so they are forced to play iron-man football. The team lacks experience and talent in all areas, especially at quarterback, placekicker, and the defensive line. Assistant coach Wally “Rig” Riggendorf (Loggia) recruits a 34 year old former high school star Paul Blake (Bakula), who never attended college due to his father’s death. Rig convinces him to enroll and play for the team.

Blake arrives on campus and catches everyone’s attention due to his age, especially Professor Carter (Kozak). Paul then recruits a graduate student teaching assistant named Andre Krimm (Sinbad), who is also enrolled at the school and eligible to play for the team. Blake convinces him to join, and he is positioned on the defensive line, where he excelled years earlier. Even with the new members, the team continues to lose games. Things get so bad that, at one point during the film, announcer Chuck Neiderman (Schneider) covers his microphone with his hands and screams, “SHIT!!!!” at the top of his lungs.

Professor Carter tells Blake that she knows him from years earlier. Carter’s ex-boyfriend was a high school football star, but Blake and his team humiliated him and his team in a championship game. This episode actually caused Carter to become infatuated with Blake. Now, years after the fact, the two begin a romantic relationship, which Dean Elias opposes.

Coach Rig makes one more recruiting move to secure a kicker. He shocks everybody by selecting Lucy Draper (Ireland) from the school’s soccer team. When she is brought on board, the team has its first taste of success, as Draper kicks a field goal in a driving rainstorm to forge a 3-3 tie with Kansas (in real life, Kansas holds the all-time NCAA Division I-A record for number of tie games with 57). After this game, Blake quits the team after arguments with the head coach (Elizondo) and Professor Carter, but convinces himself to come back after a teammate, who is also quitting, inadvertently changes his mind and both come back. With the coaches and players now on the same page, the team plays their last game of the season against the number one ranked team in the country, the University of Texas Colts, with whom the Armadillos were involved in a barroom brawl earlier in the season.

They head into the game as huge underdogs, and without Coach Gennero, who is hospitalized just prior to the game, leaving Coach Rig in charge. After a horrible first half, they come back in the second half to make it a one point game with a few seconds left, and Gennero returns to the sideline, having only suffered from indigestion, though he lets Coach Rig call the final play. The team decides to try to win it all with a two-point conversion. They fake a point after attempt and pass for two. Blake scrambles and finally finds Banks in the end zone. Blake passes, Banks catches, and Texas State wins the game

REVIEW:

Football is life down in Texas, as anyone who has ever seen the show or movie Friday Night Lights can tell you. However, as a native Texan, I can tell you it really is like that…to an extent. Necessary Roughness is one of my favorite sports movies, but for some reason, people tend to hate this film, and I’m not really sure why.

Most football films seem to be dramas, but with the exception The Replacements, this is the only comedy that I can think of, though I’m sure there are others. What is it about though?

Well, the Texas State football teams just won the National Championship, but it turns out hat they broke pretty much every NCAA rule to do so. This results in the team and coaching staff being removed, as well as the school being stripped of its championship and being placed on probation.

After hiring a new coach, who was criticizing them on some sports show, the school announces tryouts for the team. In other words, it will be made of walk-ons. After seeing how bad they are destined to be,  assistant coach Wally goes out to find a quarterback, a (not so) young man he recruited some 16 years ago when he was working for Notre Dame, but because of his father’s death, he never made a committment, gave up football, and never went to college. From there on it goes into the predictable sports movie route, so you can all but guess what happens for the rest of the picture.

It is quite interesting how that the school they used, Texas State, didn’t exist at the time, but the first team they played, the Southwest Texas State Bobcats did, and went on to become, ironically, Texas State University. The Texas State used for the film was, in fact North Texas State. I think it was even filmed over there in Denton, but don’t quote me on that.

The football scenes are great, albeit unrealistic. However, given the tone and feel of this flick, one can’t get over that.

Of course, there has to be a love story in a football flick, right? While it isn’t part of the major plot, there is a love affair between Paul and Dr. Carter. Dr. Carter, as it turns out went to his rival high school and was a cheerleader dating the quarterback at the game where he threw 5 touchdowns. Since then, she had the biggest crush on him. There is also a sweet lovey-doveyness between female kicker Lucy and Center Manu, but it just hinted at, never really showed.

Why is it all deans seem to be evil in movies? Have you ever noticed that? For that matter, since when does a dean have more power than the school president? Something just isn’t right about that, if you ask me. When you see the film, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Final verdict on Necessary Roughness? This is a football flick for those that don’t really want to have their football bogged down with drama like we tend to see in other films of this nature. There is plenty of comedy and football to go around here and you will find yourself cheering on the Armadillos in the final game. I highly recommend this to any and everyone!

4 out of 5 stars

Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman

Posted in Action/Adventure, Animation, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

A new hero has arrived in Gotham whose identity is a mystery—even to Batman. During patrol, the Dynamic Duo spots her trying to stop one of Penguin’s shipments on Gotham’s interstate and apparently would use lethal force after seeing her using a plasma rifle sending Penguin’s truck with its driver off the bridge. Batman and Robin saves the driver from falling to his death. Batman must figure out who Batwoman is and to stop familiar enemies Penguin and Rupert Thorne from selling illegal weapons to the fictional nation of Kasnia. The two employ Carlton Duquesne, a gangster, to provide protection.

Batwoman’s main focus is on illegal activity by the Penguin, Thorne, and Duquesne. Despite taking the symbol of the Bat as a sign of justice, Batwoman sullies the Bat prefix by taking out criminals with ruthless and dangerous techniques. She seems uninterested in sparing the lives of her adversaries.

Batman, with Robin, sets out to stop the Batwoman from making mistakes as she tries to take out the villains, and as he encounters numerous twists, setbacks, and apparent false leads in determining her true identity. The newest gadget on display is a wind glider used by Batwoman that utilizes some of the most advanced technology ever seen in Gotham City. Bruce Wayne, Batman’s alter ego, also becomes involved with a new lady in his life: Kathy Duquesne, the crime boss’s daughter.

In addition to Kathy Duquesne, Bruce is introduced to two other women who, as his investigation continues into who the Batwoman is, seem to fall well into suspicion: Dr. Roxanne “Rocky” Ballantine, a new employee of Wayne Tech whose technology development is used by the Batwoman against the Penguin; and by Detective Bullock’s new partner Sonya Alcana, whose knowledge of the weapons being smuggled by the Penguin and Carlton Dunquesne is much greater than the detective should know.

With Carlton Duquesne unable to stop Batwoman’s raids on the various facilities used to hold the various weapons, the Penguin calls Bane for additional support to ensure that there are no more losses as a result of the Batwoman. Not long after Bane’s arrival in Gotham, it is revealed that there is not one but three Batwomen, all of whom were the women suspected by Batman; Kathy and Sonia met taking art classes at college and Sonia and Rocky were roommates. They had taken turns to remove suspicion on any one of the three, while using Roxanne’s technological genius and contempt for the Penguin (who had framed her long-time fiance Kevin), Kathy’s money and access to several key aspects of her father’s organization (and desires her father’s criminal career would end as it led her mother being killed), and Sonia’s physical and police skills to ensure that Thorne’s operation is thwarted (as the crime lord previously left her family in financial ruins after arsonists who worked for him burned down her parents’ shop). Alcana was also saved by Batman nine years prior, the event giving the detective the original inspiration for the costumed identity she now shares with her friends.

In the final confrontation, a ship taking the weapons into international waters for the exchange is destroyed by a bomb planted by Kathy. She and Batman narrowly escape the explosion despite the efforts of Bane, who is seemingly killed as he falls into the Gotham River. At the conclusion, the GCPD are left to assume that Sonia is the only Batwoman after she helps rescue Batman from the ship. Sonia resigns from the police due to the potential problems her presence could cause and decides to leave the city. Batman gives Sonia evidence he discovered which helps clear Rocky’s fiance. Carlton agrees to testify against Thorne and the Penguin after saving Kathy’s life during the ship’s destruction. After she reconciles with her father, Kathy drives off with Bruce.

REVIEW:

 I’m a big fan of Batman, although I’m not such a fan of Christopher Nolan’s movies (I think I may in the extreme minority on that). As much as we know about Batman and Robin, we rarely get anything about Batwoman.

She’s appeared in a couple of the various Batman cartoon, most recently, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, but for the most part, the female bat-role is filled by Batgirl.

You can imagine my delight when I see a film that intended to give Batwoman the spotlight. Unfortunately, though, this film drops the ball with the character.

No, this is not a bad flick. They just do some kind of weird mutation of her. I’m sure there are some out there that are going to jump all over me for being a purist, but for goodness sakes, this is made by many of the same people who make the comic. Can you seriously sit there and tell me that they couldn’t keep Batwoman’s origin the way it should be, instead of this weird, slightly confusing tale?

That point aside, this is one of the really great animated flicks I’ve seen in recent history.

The story is full of mystery, intrigue and action. All of these things are done very well, especially in the short runtime.

Where the plot excelled, the animation went even further. Remember the days when we could watch hand drawn animated features? This is one of those that will definitely make you remember and wish for those days.

There are two weak parts. The first has to deal with Robin. Now, I didn’t understand the notion behind brining him in and not really utilizing him. Now, I may be getting my timeline confused, because he seemed to still be in training. If that was the case, then it makes sense, but otherwise, use the boy for something other than running sitting in the Bat-boat.

The other issue I have is with the voice cast. I bow down to the mastery of Kevin Conroy as Batman. No one does it better. However, David Ogden Stiers just didn’t work for me as the Penguin and Kelly Ripa’s voice just seemed out of place.

Both of these may be because I’m used to hearing them in other places, but then I think…it didn’t affect my opinion of Hector Elizondo or Kyra Sedgewick as Bane and Batowman, respectively.

When all the dust clears, this film falls short of the animated series or some of the other animated films that were released around this time. Having said that, though, this is a very enjoyable film. I found myself riveted the entire time and couldn’t tear myself away from the screen. Despite its faults, there is plenty of reason to watch Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Valentine’s Day

Posted in Chick Flicks, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 10, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In Los Angeles, florist Reed Bennett (Ashton Kutcher) proposes to his girlfriend Morley (Jessica Alba) who accepts, much to the surprise of Reed’s closest friends Alphonso (George Lopez) and Julia Fitzpatrick (Jennifer Garner). Morley changes her mind and leaves Reed later in the day. Alphonso tells Reed he and Julia knew it would never work out between him and Morley, and Reed wishes they had told him. On an airplane to Los Angeles, Kate Hazeltine (Julia Roberts), a captain in the U.S. Army on a one-day leave, befriends newly single Holden Bristow (Bradley Cooper). Kate and Holden chat, play a backgammon, and tell jokes. When the plane lands, and Kate has to wait hours for the taxi, Holden offers his limousine, which Kate accepts, as she only has one day to spend with her family before she has to come back into the army.

Julia, an elementary school teacher has fallen in love with Dr. Harrison Copeland (Patrick Dempsey), but does not know that he is married. Reed finds out when Harrison orders flowers for his wife and girlfriend (Julia). Harrison tells her that he needs to go to San Francisco for a business trip. Wanting to surprise him, Julia buys a plane ticket to San Francisco. Reed quickly comes to the airport and warns Julia, and she refuses to believe it and gets on the plane. She goes to the hospital where he said he would be, and inquires after him. The nurses at the counter reveal to her that he is married and tell her the name of the restaurant where he and his wife will be dining that evening. As she teaches the owner’s son, the owner allows her to dress as a waitress. Julia makes a scene at the restaurant, and gives back the toy Harrison gave her that morning. Harrison’s wife, Pamela, becomes suspicious when Julia makes a comment referring to Harrison’s ability to juggle, and Harrison is seen eating pizza alone in a condo later on that evening, implying that Pamela has left him right after Julia’s scene. One of Julia’s students, Edison (Bryce Robinson), orders flowers from Reed, to be sent to his teacher. There is a delay in the delivery of flowers, but Edison insists that Reed delivers the flowers the same day. They are for Julia; however, she suggests to Edison to give the flowers to a lonely girl in the class who also has a crush on him, which he does.

Edison’s babysitter Grace (Emma Roberts) is planning to lose her virginity with her boyfriend Alex (Carter Jenkins). The planned encounter goes awry when Grace’s mom discovers a naked Alex in Grace’s room rehearsing a song he wrote for Grace on his guitar. Meanwhile Edison’s grandparents, Edgar (Hector Elizondo) and Estelle (Shirley MacLaine) are facing the troubles of a long marriage. Grace explains to them that she wants to have sex with Alex, and says, “It’s not like I am going to sleep with one person for the rest of my life.” This upsets Estelle and leads to her telling Edgar about an affair she had with one of his business partners. The affair was while he was away, and it didn’t last long. Although she is deeply sorry for what she did, Edgar is deeply upset. Grace’s high-school friends, Willy (Taylor Lautner) and Felicia (Taylor Swift), are experiencing the freshness of new love, and have agreed to wait to have sex. On Valentine’s Day, Willy gives Felicia a large white bear that she carries around with her everywhere and Felicia gets him a gray running t-shirt (which was his) and ironed the number 13 on the back for “good luck”. They are interviewed on the news and advertise their love and support for each other.

Sean Jackson (Eric Dane), a closeted gay professional football player, is contemplating the end of his career together with his publicist Kara (Jessica Biel) and his agent Paula (Queen Latifah). Kara, a close friend of Julia’s, is organizing her annual ‘I Hate Valentine’s Day’ party, but is becoming interested in sports reporter Kelvin Moore (Jamie Foxx) who has been sent out by his producer Susan (Kathy Bates) to cover Valentine’s Day because of a lack of sports news, and they share their mutual hatred of Valentine’s Day. Paula has hired a new receptionist named Liz (Anne Hathaway) who has started dating mailroom clerk Jason (Topher Grace). Jason is first shocked when Liz turns out to be moonlighting as a phone sex operator. Liz only does this because she has a student loan to pay off, has no insurance, and is completely broke. Jason decides that her job is too much for him to handle, but eventually comes back to the relationship after seeing Edgar forgive his wife, Estelle.

Sean comes out on national television, and Holden (who is Sean’s lover) goes back to him. Kate goes home to greet her son Edison. Willy drops Felicia off at home after a date and they kiss goodnight. Kelvin and Kara hang out at Kelvin’s news station where they later kiss, Alphonso dines with his wife, Grace and Alex agree to wait to have sex, Edgar and Estelle retell each other their marriage vows and kiss in the theater, Jason goes back to Liz and they decide to keep a bond together but to also “keep it simple”, Morley is shown walking her Border collie while trying to call Reed and the movie closes with Julia and Reed beginning a relationship.

REVIEW:

Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that people either love to celebrate or hate. Depending on your views on the holiday (not to mention your current dating status and whatnot), the same could be said for hat you will think of Valentine’s Day.

There are two things that really stuck out to me in this picture. First, there was the fact that just about any and everyone in Hollywood that had some time was in here. Second, there are many similarities to Love, Actually.

In case you didn’t already know, this is a sappy, romantic comedy, chick flick that deals with a group of people and their (apparent) intertwining lives on Valentine’s Day. Each person has their own quirks and whatnot, such as the 5th grader boy who has a crush on someone in his class, the mailroom worker who had met a girl a couple of weeks ago, yet has no idea she’s a phone sex operator, the recently engaged florist, the cheating husband, etc.

Each of these characters is developed in such a way that we actually feel their pain and successes. I was actually amazed at how the director manged to get them all decent amounts of screentime without diluting their characters.

One thing that really struck me as astounding, especially in this day and age, is that there was hardly any talk of sex. I think there may have been a couple of subtle hints, and then there was the whole sex operator thing, but for the most part, as with all Gary Marshall films, this is a wholsome film, something we rarely get these days.

One would think that the younger actors would stand out, but that is not the case. Well, let me take that back the Taylors (Lautner and Swift) stunk up the joint. At least Lautner kept his shirt on. Personally, I think that if you’re going to have someone debut in such a large role (considering the large ensemble cast, this was) as Swift, then you should pair her up with a better actor. Lautner, though he tries, is nothing more than some abs, and Swift should stick to torturing the world with country music, but while she’s at it, she needs to eat a sandwich or 10!

Of all these stories in this film, I have to say that the best one was the interaction between Hector Elizando and Shirley MacLaine. There is just something about older people who have been in love all these years that just really gets me,

If I did have an issue with this film, it had to have been the music. The songs they chose were great, except the country ones at the end, but they were all covers of the originals. With the exception of the Indian version of Strevie Wonder’s “Singed, Sealed, Delivered”, I think these should have all been the original. Of course, that could just be the purist in me speaking, but it really irks me when I hear someone do a cover of a perfectly good song. The original was good enough when it was first released, what makes people think it isn’t good enough now? Thank goodness they didn’t mess with the Glenn Miller tunes that were playing in Hector Elizondo’s car.

I thought when I watched this that it was going to be one of those pictures that had too big of a cast, but as I said, it was amazing that they all got decent screentime. I’m not a big Valentine’s Day fan, and can imagine that if I were to watch this on V-Day, I’d have been sick, but any other day, it is a cute picture. Romance and comedy abound, as well as great performances from this all-star cast. If you’re in a sappy mood, check this one out.

4 out of 5 stars

How High

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The plot is centered around two underachieving pot smokers – Silas (Method Man) and Jamal (Redman). When Silas’ friend Ivory (Chuck Davis) dies, Silas uses his ashes as fertilizer for a new batch of marijuana. While both are sitting in the parking lot before taking their THC (Testing for Higher Credentials, as opposed to SAT) exams for college, neither is able to smoke their individual marijuana stash without the help of the other. They soon discover that smoking Silas’ new batch summons the ghost of the recently deceased Ivory. Ivory gives them the exact test answers and both of them pass with perfect scores.

Several dubious colleges offer the pair scholarships, but none of them are appealing. Eventually, Chancellor Huntley (Fred Willard) suggests the two apply to Harvard University. They accept the offer and continue using the magic weed to succeed at the university. They meet several interesting students, such as Tuan (Trieu Tran), an Asian child prodigy, Bart (Chris Elwood), a snobby rowing team captain, and Jeffrey (Justin Urich), their roommate who is forced to perform humiliating acts as part of a fraternity initiation. Jamal brought along his fellow pot-smoker “I Need Money” (Al Shearer). Jamal falls for the daughter of the Vice President. Bart is set against Jamal in sports, and Silas in love when the latter falls for his girlfriend, Lauren (Lark Voorhies). The “Ivory” bush is eventually stolen by the nerdy volunteer student guard Gerald (T.J. Thyne), who smokes all of it except for a few tiny leaves. With the “Ivory” now gone, the pair try studying first with no success then try to dig up and smoke the remains of John Quincy Adams, but it doesn’t fare any better either. Silas concocts a “truth serum” using the remnants of “Ivory” in an attempt to get a passing grade in botany. In the end, Benjamin Franklin (whose bong was discovered by Lauren) appears back with Ivory at an alumni meeting to convince the congregation that Silas and Jamal should stay at Harvard.

REVIEW:

Stoner movies are never meant to be anything more that sheer fun, and How High fits that bill to a ‘T’.

You may know Method Man and Redman from the rap group Wu-Tang clan. Well, they branched out into acting with this little picture, and did a mighty fine job with it. Neither is the straight man to the others follies, per se, but Method Man seems to be the more driven, level-headed of the two.

Two television beauties that many have seem to all but forgotten show up in the picture, Lark Voorhies and Essence Atkins, from Saved By the Bell and Smart Guy, respectively. Atkins plays the vice-president’s daughter who wants a thuggish man, but can’t necessarily be seen with him due to her dad’s election bid, yet she ends up with Redman. Vorrhies is the straight laced, underappreciated girlfriend of the douchebag crew captain who doesn’t treat her right, so she leaves him for Method Man who has been all up in her grill since they came to Harvard.

True, most stoner flicks don’t have much of a plot, but this one actually does. These guys want to escape the hood and make a better life for themselves. Method Man’s best friend has a series of unfortunate accidents that lead to his death. Following his death, his ashes are ground up into the soil of some weed that Method Man is growing. Somehow Ivory’s ghost is contained in that weed and whoever smokes it can see him. Ivory, being dead, now knows the answer to all the questions, and helped th two guys get perfect scores on their THCs, which allows them to get into Harvard. Hilarity ensues.

Not much to really say about this picture. It’s a stoner flick, so you know what to expect, lots of weed smoking, hallucinations, and ridiculous situations. In the midst of all this, there is a good story that is overlooked. Unfortunately, the humor dies off near the end and the film ends abruptly. I expected a bit more closure, such as the guys graduating, Method Man coming up with some other way to smoke Ivory since they smoke all of the Ivory plant, etc. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you probably see the title How High and immediately think you should avoid this picture like the plague, right? Well, you’d be wrong. This is actually a good watch. No, it’s not for everyone, but it is sure to brighten your day, and in these dark times, couldn’t we all use a laugh or two?

4 out of 5 stars