Archive for Jennifer Garner

Revisited: Mr. Magoo

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Mr. Quincy Magoo (Leslie Nielsen), a wealthy canned vegetable factory owner, goes to the museum to attend a party. While there, Waldo (Matt Keeslar), Mr. Magoo’s nephew, spies a woman named Stacey Sampanahoditra (Jennifer Garner), on whom he develops a crush. Later that night, jewel thieves Luanne LeSeur (Kelly Lynch) and Bob Morgan (Nick Chinlund) steal the museum’s beautiful ruby “The Star of Kuristan” and escape on a boat to Austin Cloquet (Malcolm McDowell), Bob’s boss.

Meanwhile, Mr. Magoo and his dog Angus go fishing in the same area as the jewel thieves’ boat. Luanne picks a fight with Bob and in the scuffle, they lose the ruby which lands in Mr. Magoo’s boat unbeknownst to Magoo. Bob goes after the ruby but fails by falling onto the paddle wheel of a paddle boat.

At the museum, the curator and Stacey send two agents: Gustav Anders of the CIA (Ernie Hudson) and Chuck Stupak of the FBI (Stephen Tobolowsky) to track down the ruby and spy on Mr. Magoo whom they believe stole the ruby. Stacey mentions she was invited to the opera where the Magoos go that night. Anders and Stupak also visit the opera to look for Mr. Magoo who is in the show. At the opera Mr. Magoo meets Luanne who pretends to be a magazine reporter named Prunella Pagliachi. She wishes Mr. Magoo luck at the opera, who immediately takes a liking to her. Stupak sneaks on the stage and fails to find any clue about Mr. Magoo with Mr. Magoo accidentally hitting Stupak with a big tool.

The next morning, Luanne tricks Mr. Magoo into taking her to his house with an injured ankle. Stupak finds a notebook with Luanne’s fingerprints on it and realizes who Mr. Magoo is with. He and Anders go to Mr. Magoo’s house where Stupak sneaks in looking for the ruby. Mr. Magoo and Luanne arrive at the house and Stupak hides from them. Bob sneaks into Mr. Magoo’s house and finds the ruby. Upon being caught in the act, he steals Mr. Magoo’s prized Studebaker with the Magoos and Luanne chasing after him in Magoo’s Eggplant-mobile. Bob loses them and brings the ruby to Austin.

Austin plans an auction for his criminal friends from around the world and shows them the ruby. Mr. Magoo disguises himself as Ortega Peru, a thief from Brazil who never goes anywhere and joins the auction which is taking place in a communal indoor pool. However he is discovered when the fake tattoo on his chest is washed away by the water. Luanne breaks up the auction, steals the ruby, and escapes on a snow mobile away from the lair. The government arrests Austin and his friends while Mr. Magoo gives chase on an ironing board and winds up in the middle of a women’s skiing competition. Waldo and Angus sneak out of the lair, catch up with Magoo, and track down the ruby.

Angus sees Luanne in disguise as an old woman and spills her purse which gives Mr. Magoo and Waldo a clue about where Luanne is going. The Magoos follow Luanne to Brazil where Waldo spies on the real Ortega (Miguel Ferrer) and his friends. Mr. Magoo steals a bride dress from Ortega’s girlfriend Rosita (Monique Rusu) and is led to the wedding. Mr. Magoo steals the ruby from Ortega and finds himself being chased by Peru’s men, the government agents and Luanne. Magoo then is trapped on a raft just before it goes over a waterfall but manages to invert the raft like a parachute so he can gently float to safety. He and Waldo return the ruby to the museum with the government arresting Ortega, Luanne and the people from Brazil.

Mr. Magoo and Angus go home after returning the ruby back to the museum

REVIEW:

A few years ago, there was a channel around here that showed classic cartoons on Saturday mornings. Along with The Archies, Dick Tracy, and The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show, there were some short featuring Mr. Magoo. I always would get a chuckle from these shorts and the comic strip, so here’s to hoping that Mr. Magoo will be just as funny.

What is this about?

This live-action comedy adaptation of UPA’s bumbling near-sighted animated character stars Leslie Nielsen. Magoo is a millionaire who refuses to admit that he needs glasses. After accidentally becoming the target in an international manhunt, Magoo continually escapes mishaps by inches.

What did I like?

Animation. To bookend this film, it fades in and out of animated segments. I appreciate this because I’m sure there are those watching this that never saw or even knew there was a cartoon featuring Magoo. I’m also glad they didn’t try to take him from the animated world to the real world. That didn’t work the first they tried it with The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, and it surely wasn’t about to work this time around.

Nielsen ratings. Can you honestly think of anyone who would be a better Magoo than Leslie Nielsen? He’s got the comedic timing, age appropriate, and the voice seems to fit, as well. Nielsen isn’t the perfect Magoo, as i’ll get into later, but he is more than adequate.

Minuteman. About 10 yrs ago, there was a show on ABC Family that only lasted one season starring Matt Keeslar called The Minuteman. Keeslar has that old “aw shucks” pure look that worked for the character of the Minuteman and also for Magoo’s nephew. I also suspect this is why we don’t see more of this guy. He’s perfect for the old throwback/period piece films, though.

What didn’t I like?

Characteristics. Mr. Magoo has always been drawn as a bald, short, old man with comedic vision issues. In this film, he still has said vision problems and is a man of advanced age, but Nielsen is a taller individual and they put him in some sort of receding hairline wig. Like I said earlier, there really isn’t anyone that I can picture better to play Mr. Magoo than Leslie Nielsen, but I feel a little more accuracy would have served the film better.

Garner. This is another of those film that Jennifer Garner appears in a small supporting role. I have to check the timeline, but I believe this was about the time she was just getting started, so it isn’t like she was starring in anything, yet. However, I must make a point of how her character is from an undetermined country, based on her varying accent thickness, and seems to be there only to serve as an eventual love interest for Keeslar’s character. Surely, they could have done something more with her, right?

Make ’em laugh. This is supposed to be a comedy, but I did not find myself even cracking a smile once! That isn’t to say they made Magoo a dark drama, but rather the attempt at humor takes a backseat to this heist caper that I never really bought into. Personally, I think the best parts of the film are when Magoo is just dealing with people around him and being the blind, bumbling old man we know him to be, rather than whatever it is that this film is attempting to make him.

Final verdict on Mr. Magoo. Continuing in the string of movies that were based on popular cartoons/comic strips from the 60s and turned into flops, this does nothing to change the pattern. Why is that? Well, as far as attracting audiences, I can’t tell you. As far as the film itself is concerned, the studios got too involved and turned this into something that it shouldn’t be. Or perhaps the script was this crappy from the get go. Either way, Mr. Magoo deserves much better than this. Do I recommend it? No, unless you’re trying to complete a collection of Leslie Nielsen’s films, this should be one of those forgotten films that just happens to exist. Nothing more, nothing less.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

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Dallas Buyers Club

Posted in Drama, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on May 3, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1985, Dallas electrician and rodeo cowboy Ron Woodroof is diagnosed with AIDS and given 30 days to live. He initially refuses to accept the diagnosis, but remembers having unprotected sex with an intravenous drug-using prostitute. Ron quickly finds himself ostracized by family and friends, gets fired from his job, and is eventually evicted from his home. At the hospital, he is tended to by Dr. Eve Saks, who tells him that they are testing a drug called zidovudine (AZT), an antiretroviral drug which is thought to prolong the life of AIDS patients —and which is the only drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for testing on humans. Saks informs him that in the clinical trials, half the patients receive the drug and the other half are given a placebo, as this is the only way they can determine if the drug is working.

Ron bribes a hospital worker to get him the AZT. As soon as he begins taking it, he finds his health deteriorating (exacerbated by his cocaine use). When Ron returns to the hospital, he meets Rayon, a drug addict, and HIV-positive trans woman, toward whom he is hostile. As his health worsens, Ron drives to a Mexican hospital to get more AZT. Dr. Vass, who has had his American medical license revoked, tells Ron that the AZT is “poisonous” and “kills every cell it comes into contact with”. He instead prescribes him ddC and the protein peptide T, which are not approved in the US. Three months later, Ron finds his health much improved. It occurs to him that he could make money by importing the drugs and selling them to other HIV-positive patients. Since the drugs are not illegal, he is able to get them over the border by masquerading as a priest and swearing that they are for personal use. Meanwhile, Dr. Saks also begins to notice the negative effects of AZT, but is told by her supervisor Dr. Sevard that it cannot be discontinued.

Ron begins selling the drugs on the street. He comes back into contact with Rayon, with whom he reluctantly sets up business since she can bring many more clients. The pair establish the “Dallas Buyers Club”, charging $400 per month for membership, and it becomes extremely popular. Ron gradually begins to respect Rayon and think of her as a friend. When Ron has a heart attack, Sevard learns of the club and the alternative medication. He is angry that it is interrupting his trial, while Richard Barkley of the FDA confiscates the ddC and threatens to have Ron arrested. Saks agrees that there are benefits to Buyers Clubs (of which there are several around the country) but feels powerless to change anything. She and Ron strike up a friendship.

Barkley gets a police permit to raid the Buyers Club, but can do nothing but give Ron a fine. The FDA changes its regulations such that any unapproved drug is also illegal. As the Club runs out of funds, Rayon—who is addicted to cocaine—begs her father for money and tells Ron that she has sold her life insurance policy to raise money. Ron is thus able to travel to Mexico and get more of the Peptide T. When he returns, Ron finds that Rayon has died after being taken to hospital and given AZT. Saks is also upset by Rayon’s death, and she is asked to resign when the hospital discovers that she is linking her patients with the Buyers Club. She refuses to comply and insists that she would have to be fired.

As time passes, Ron shows compassion towards gay, lesbian, and transgender members of the club and making money becomes less of a concern – his priority is provision of the drugs. Peptide T gets increasingly difficult to acquire, and in 1987 he files a lawsuit against the FDA. He seeks the legal right to take the protein, which has been confirmed as non-toxic but is still not approved. The judge is compassionate toward Ron, but lacks the legal tools to do anything. As the film ends, on-screen text reveals that the FDA later allowed Ron to take Peptide T for personal use and that he died of AIDS in 1992, seven years later than his doctors initially predicted.

REVIEW:

Every awards season, there is one or more films that comes out of nowhere and “steals” awards from so-called more worthy films, even though it is clearly worthy of all its accolades. One of those films this year was Dallas Buyers Club, a film that covered some heavy and controversial topics, but wasn’t overly preachy.

What is this about?

Loosely based on true events, this drama follows Ron Woodroof, who refuses to accept he’ll die in 30 days when he’s diagnosed with AIDS in 1986. He extends his life and eventually helps many other AIDS patients by smuggling medications from abroad.

What did I like?

Rocker to diva. What a role for Jared Leto this was. I know quite a few ladies that have called him”one of the most beautiful men on the planet” and that “he would make a gorgeous woman”. Well, now they get to see that actually happen, sort of. While Leto has long been an actor, some best know him as the frontman for his group, 30 Seconds to Mars. As we saw in Chapter 27, he isn’t afraid of transforming himself for a role. Playing a transgender prostitute who is suffering from AIDS and has a heart of gold was quite the departure for him, and he has been reaping the benefits from this great performance he gave. Oh, did I mention we went to the same high school (not at the same time, though).

Craft. It wasn’t that long ago that everyone had pigeonholed Matthew McConaughey into the surfer dude with not much on top. Most even thought that he wasn’t that great of an actor. Granted, he had a string of films that didn’t allow for him to flex his chops, but to say he is not a good actor is ludicrous. Has no one seen A Time to Kill, Amistad, or any of his other serious roles? Take that talent and then throw in the commitment to playing a man diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, which causes one to waste away (unless you’re Magic Johnson who is still alive after being diagnosed way back in the early 90s, somehow). The normally ripped McConaughey is nearly unrecognizable. While I, and many others, praise his commitment to the role, I question the toll this massive weight loss will have on his health.

Focus. Obviously, this is a film that was meant to impress the critics. It has a laser-like, serious focus that doesn’t stray off, save for the slight joke or humorous situation caused by Jared Leto’s character (thank goodness). Keeping on target is what lets this film really shine, as this subject matter is not something to be taken lightly, and the situation regarding the medicine is not something that is well-known to most people.

What didn’t I like?

Um…. Slow moving dramas are not my cup of tea. I have a hard time stay awake and interested in them. So, it should come as no surprise that I wasn’t really invested in this film that way that some people, who have been gushing over this have been. It just didn’t capture me. Granted, I just saw The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in IMAX a couple of hours ago, so the drastic shift in tone and whatnot between the two films may have something to do with that, but still, could we not have made this a bit more interesting, rather than exposition, brief glimpse of gay sex, attempt at humor, drama, repeat?

Concern. I was moved by the concern Matthew McConaughey’s character showed for Jared Leto’s character. While there are times he’s pushing him around like a villain’s sidekick, there are moments when he sticks up for him. The most notable of these is in the supermarket. One of McConaughey’s former co-workers happens across them and starts saying some homophobic statements directed toward Leto, and McConaughey steps in to defend “her” honor. Following Leto’s death, he shows great remorse, allowing the audience to see that he really did care for his friend.

Location. I’m a native Texan (born in Fort Worth) living in Louisiana (Baton Rouge). Apparently, this film is similar. It is set in Dallas and filmed in New Orleans. I realize that the governor of Texas is an asshole who revoked the tax breaks for film companies, causing it to cost more to film there, but it just seems that a film that has Dallas in the title should be filmed in Dallas, rather than in someplace that looks nothing like Big D. Then again, The Dukes of Hazzard was filmed at LSU when it was supposed to be the University of Georgia.

Again, I have to say that Dallas Buyers Club just isn’t my cup of tea because of its heavy, serious drama. However, I am not one to not ignore a good film because of my distaste for its tone. This is a really good film and I highly recommend it. I believe this is one of those films you should see at least once…more for those that are into these type of films. Check it out sometime!

4 out of 5 stars

13 Going on 30

Posted in Chick Flicks, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

As the story opens, Jenna Rink (Christa B. Allen) is an unpopular girl celebrating her 13th birthday on May 26, 1987. She wishes to overcome her unpopularity at school since she views herself as gawky and uncool. Jenna especially wants to join the “Six Chicks”, a school clique led by Lucy “Tom-Tom” Wyman (Alexandra Kyle), who takes advantage of Jenna’s desire to fit in by manipulating her into doing a school assignment. Before her birthday party, Jenna’s best friend Matty Flamhaff (Sean Marquette) gives her a doll dream house that he built for her, and a packet of “magic wishing dust”, which he sprinkles on the roof of the house.

Tom-Tom and the rest of the six chicks show up to Jenna’s house party where they play a cruel practical joke on her during a game of “Seven Minutes in Heaven”. Jenna, mistakenly thinking Matt was responsible, yells at him and barricades herself in the closet where she put the Dream House. She cries and rocks backs and forth, bumping into the wall, wishing to be “30, flirty, and thriving”. The wishing dust from the dollhouse sprinkles on her, causing her to fall asleep. The next morning, Jenna awakens as a 30-year-old woman (Jennifer Garner) living in a Fifth Avenue apartment. It is now 2004, and Jenna has no memory of the 17 years that have passed since her 13th birthday.

30-year old Jenna’s best friend, Lucy (Judy Greer), drives her to her work office. Soon, Jenna discovers she works for Poise, her favorite fashion magazine from when she was a teenager. Missing her best friend from 1987, Jenna asks her assistant to track down Matt. To her dismay, Jenna learns she and “Matty” have been estranged since high school when Jenna fell in with the in-crowd and became best friends with Tom-Tom, who now goes by her real name Lucy. Matt (Mark Ruffalo) is now a struggling photographer who’s engaged.

After Jenna overhears Lucy badmouthing her to a co-worker, she sadly realizes that what she thought she wanted wasn’t important after all. This is complicated by the fact that Jenna has become a shadow of her former self. She has lost almost all contact with her parents, and is having an affair with the husband of a colleague. Not only is she generally hated by her co-workers and anyone else she has worked with, she is suspected of giving her magazine’s ideas to a rival publication, Sparkle. Jenna slowly realizes that the person she has become is neither trustworthy nor likable, and unknowingly begins to reverse the situation by distancing herself from her new, shallow boyfriend. From this point on, all of Jenna’s work to rebuild her life as a 30-year-old woman has gone to waste.

Jenna heads back to her hometown in New Jersey and, while her parents are out, hides in the same closet as 17 years before and cries. Her parents return and find her hiding, and they welcome her in for the night. The next day, she reminisces by looking through school yearbooks and other items from her school days and catch-up on the 17 years she doesn’t remember. These inspire her on her return to Manhattan. Over several outings and working together on a magazine project, Jenna becomes friends with Matt again, asking his help for her project. Although Matt is engaged and Jenna has a boyfriend, they kiss during a nighttime walk.

After arranging a magazine photo shoot with Matt, then making a successful presentation for a planned revamp for Poise, Jenna prepares for the revamp when she gets bad news from the publisher: Poise is shutting down because the work she put into the relaunch ended up in Sparkle. Jenna learns she was responsible for sabotaging Poise from within by sending their material to Sparkle for months. When Lucy learns this, she cons Matt into signing over the photo rights from the relaunch shoot to her. She accepts the position of Sparkle editor-in-chief, telling Jenna she wants to be both the pot and the kettle in their relationship.

When an already-distraught Jenna discovers Matt is getting married later that day, she rushes to his house and begs him to call off the wedding. Dazed, Matt realizes he loves Jenna, but cannot change the past. From his closet, he pulls the “dream house” he made 17 years before and gives it back to her. Jenna leaves in tears, crying over the dream house.

Unknown to Jenna, specks of wishing dust remain on the dream house, and she wishes she was 13 again. When she opens her eyes, she finds herself back in the closet of the basement at her parents’ house, 13 years old again. When Matt comes to check on her, she jumps on top of him and kisses him. She also tells Tom-Tom she can be the pot and kettle all by herself, then rips apart the school project. Seventeen years later, Jenna and Matt are married and live in a house which resembles the dollhouse.

REVIEW:

Today, I’m in the mood for something light. Perhaps something that will take me back to my younger days. How about an age-switching film starring a hot chick. I know! How about 13 Going on 30?

What is this about?

It’s 1987, and geeky Jenna wants to be popular. When her 13th birthday party goes awry, and she makes a wish that she could just be 30 already, she wakes up to discover she’s flash-forwarded 17 years. Now a successful magazine editor, Jenna finds out that being an adult isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

What did I like?

Age before beauty. Jennifer Garner has always been on my radar as someone who has managed to not seem like an old soul. As a matter of fact, there have been times when she has come off as a big kid. There are also times when she can be deadly serious. The casting director obviously took note of her childish side and cast her as a 13 yr old who wishes to be “30, flirty, and fun”.

Doppelganger. In Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, Garner’s younger self was played by Christa B. Allen, who also lays the younger version of Garner in this film. The two of them look so much alike, one could easily believe they are sisters. As a matter of fact, I just looked up some current pictures and she looks even more like her now.

Debut. Jennifer Garner’s character encounters a young girl in the elevator and strikes up a friendship. We get a couple of scenes with them, including a slumber party where she uses Pat Benatar lyrics to motivate the girls. What is notable about this is that the little girl is played by Renee Olstead who is currently starring on ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars and more importantly, a jazz singer…and a damn good one! Go youtube her and be blown away!

What didn’t I like?

Mood swing. At the pivotal 13th birthday party for young Jenna, she suddenly starts treating her best friend like crap, just because the cool girl clic, the “Six Chicks” were in attendance. When they trick her into going into the closet and expecting the hot guy at school, she is enraged to find out they left and that her friend, who grows up to be Mark Ruffalo (long before he becomes the Hulk). For some reason, she freaks out on him, throws the dollhouse he spent 3 weeks making for her at him, and says she never wants to see him again. We learn that she really never did speak to him again and went on to become a bitch.

Dance. At the magazine party, no one seems to be having any fun. This is why Andy Serkis’ character (yes, the guy does appear as himself in this film, and not motion capture) asks her to save it. So, she asks the DJ to play ‘Thriller”. I don’t know what kind of dances and whatnot you may have been to, but when that or some other really popular and danceable song comes on, you almost immediately start dancing. These people just stood there. Had it not been for Garner’s quick thinking to bring in Mark Ruffalo’s character, which started the snowball effect and people finally started having fun, I don’t believe they would have done anything but stand there wanting to get out there and dance, but instead just standing there.

Girly. I think it is safe to say that this is a “chick flick”. The way the focus is so much on the girls and the problems they have is more than obvious, but what leads me to categorize it that way is the way Ruffalo’s character is treated. In the time that isn’t covered in the film, I’m sure Garner’s character teased, flirted, and turned him down every which way she could, totally forgetting the friendship they once had. This is the kind of stuff that is always played up in romantic comedies, albeit with gender roles reversed. With all the imaginative things that happen in this film, you’d think they could have done something more interesting with those two.

I can’t help but think of Big while watching 13 Going on 30. The films may be totally different, but they are similar at the same time. I think I have to categorize this as a guilty pleasure film for me. By all accounts, I shouldn’t like it as much as I do, but I always come back for more. My personal affinity for it aside, I have to say that it is worth a high recommendation. So, unless you have something against magical wishing dust, then give it a go, why don’t you?

4 out of 5 stars

Butter

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

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REVIEW:

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

What is this about?

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

What did I like?

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

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

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

What didn’t work?

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

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

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

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

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past stars Matthew McConaughey as Connor Mead, a famous photographer and confirmed womanizer. He takes a break from his playboy lifestyle to attend his brother’s wedding, where he becomes reacquainted with Jenny Perotti (Jennifer Garner), the only girl who ever captured his heart. After Connor delivers a drunken speech at the rehearsal dinner where he says that love isn’t real, he’s met in the bathroom by the ghost of his uncle Wayne (Michael Douglas), a Hefner-esque horndog who taught Connor everything he knows about picking up chicks. Uncle Wayne informs Connor that, over the course of the evening, he’ll be visited by three ghosts who will lead him through his romantic past, present, and future

The first ghost to visit Connor is the “Ghost of Girlfriends Past” in the form of Allison Vandermeersh (Emma Stone), one of his high school girlfriends and his first lover. Together, they revisit scenes from his past, focusing on his relationship with Jenny. Connor and Jenny were very close as children; she gave him his first instant camera which he used to take her picture, promising to keep it forever. By middle school, the two were on the verge of romance, but Connor’s hesitation at a dance caused Jenny to dance with and kiss another boy. Heartbroken, Connor was told by Wayne that he must avoid romance at all costs in order not to feel such pain again. For the next two years, Wayne schooled Connor in the art of seduction. When he next saw Jenny, at a high school party, Connor ignored her and had sex with Allison. Several years later, as adults, Connor and Jenny rekindled their romance, but Jenny forced him to woo her for several weeks in an attempt to rid him of his womanizing ways. After they finally did have sex, Connor falls in love with her, but then panics, running out on her so he won’t be hurt. Jenny wakes up alone and broken-hearted. His relationships thereafter consisted of a series of very short flings.

Awakening back in the Mead mansion in the present, Connor accidentally destroys Paul and Sandra’s wedding cake and unsuccessfully attempts to reconcile with Jenny. As he storms out of the house, he is confronted by the “Ghost of Girlfriends Present” in the form of his assistant Melanie (Noureen DeWulf), the only constant female figure in his life. With her, he sees that in his absence the other wedding guests make fun of him and his shallow lifestyle. Paul stands up for his brother, recalling that Connor helped to raise him after their parents’ death, and expresses his hope that Connor will someday change for the better. Connor also sees that Jenny is being comforted by Brad (Daniel Sunjata), and is upset that his own actions and attitude are bringing the two closer. He is further upset to discover that Melanie and the three women who he previously broke up with via conference call are bonding over his disregard for their feelings.

Returning to the house, Connor finds Sandra furious at learning that Paul had slept with one of her bridesmaids very early in their relationship, information that Connor had let slip earlier in the evening. Connor attempts to mend the situation but only makes things worse, and Paul tells him to leave. On his way out, he is confronted by the “Ghost of Girlfriends Future” (Olga Maliouk), who takes him forward in time to see that Jenny marries Brad while Paul remains alone. Further in the future, Paul is the only mourner at Connor’s funeral. Wayne appears and tells Connor that this is his future if he continues on the same path, pushing him into the grave to be buried by his many ex-girlfriends.

Connor awakens in the Mead home and learns that Sandra has called off the wedding and is on her way to the airport. He intercepts the bridal party by driving Wayne’s classic car down the snow-covered hill and into a lake, and convinces Sandra to forgive Paul by sharing lessons learned from his own mistakes, particularly that the pain of heartbreak is outweighed by the regret of never risking one’s heart in the first place. Connor helps Jenny to pull the wedding back together and reconciles with her afterward by showing her the picture he still carries of her as a child, and promises to always be there when she wakes up. The two kiss and dance in the snow.

REVIEW:

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if A Christmas Carol was updated and used to change the ways of a womanizer, rather than someone who has become bitter and jaded about the holidays? Well, Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is the film for you, as this is exactly what it does.

What did I like?

Player’s club. I’ve always thought that guys/gals that run around “getting some” from any and everything should be taught a lesson, be that in the way of some disease or getting a total beatdown. Seeing a guy like Matthew McConaughey’s character get his comeuppance here was a thing of beauty.

Old man still has it. Michael Douglas has a fairly small, but major, role in the film as the older (deceased) uncle who has taught him everything he knows, which turned out to be his downfall a la Jacob Marley. It is good to see that he still can steal a scene at his age, then again, his dad was doing the same thing at this age, so I guess we shouldn’t be surprised, should we?

Gotta love the 80s! The junior high dance scenes that took place in the 80s were radical, man! They even had some of the great music one would have heard at a dance back then!

Doppelganger II. In 13 Going on 30, Jennifer Garner’s younger self was played by Christa B. Allen. She does it again here in the early flashback scenes, and doesn’t look like she’s aged a day!

What didn’t I like?

Emma Stone. There was a time when I thought she was extremely hot. Ever since she has become a household name, though, she has become more and more annoying. Now, she is supposed to be an annoying 8th grader here, but good grief, I nearly turned the movie off everytime she was on the screen.

No Meg. If you’ve ever watched Family Guy, and are aware that in the first few episodes Meg’s voice was not Mila Kunis, but rather Lacey Chabert. I’m not sure why they made the change, but it was definitely for the better. Lacey is the bridezilla of this film and while she pulls that off perfectly, her character is just as unlikable, which is quite a shame, because at first she seemed like a bit of a sweetheart.

Not all that. There are these three girls in the wedding party who seem to be there just to get laid. If that’s what they’re into, that’s great, except none of them are that impressive looking, and the fact that one of them is the reason behind the chaos that ensues as the film progresses just makes them even less attractive.

Not even a bridesmaid. For some reason, I was pulling for McConaughey to hook up, permanently, with secretary, played by Noureen DeWulf. Just once, it would be nice if the nerdy girl in the corner would get some love without having to become what is believed to be “super sexy” (in other words take the glasses off, let her hair down, and put on a tight red dress…lol)

Too much carol. At the end of A Christmas Carol, Scrooge leans out of his window and asks a boy outside what day it is, then sends him to get a goose or turkey or something. The filmmakers decided to do a similar thing here, but they didn’t have him send the boy out for a game bird, though I half expected him to.

Ghosts of Girlfriends Past is not the worst thing to happen to romantic comedies. As a matter of fact it is somewhat enjoyable, but make no mistake, this is not something you’ll be going out of your way to watch over and over again. There are some good performances and the cast is alright, but something about this film keeps it from being nothing more than just an average flick. I don’t recommend this, but there are worse things you could watch.

3 out of 5 stars

The Invention of Lying

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on September 25, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film features a high concept narrative set in an alternate reality in which there is no such thing as lying and everything said is the absolute truth. In this world people make blunt, often cruel statements, including those that people would normally keep to themselves. There is a lack of religious belief, and the absence of fiction results in a movie industry limited to lecture-style historical readings, and advertisements as bluntly truthful as the people are.

Mark Bellison (Ricky Gervais) is an unsuccessful lecture-film writer who is assigned to write about the 1300s, a “very boring” era. One night he goes out on a date with the beautiful, charming and wealthy Anna McDoogles (Jennifer Garner). She tells Mark she is not attracted to him, due to his looks and unsuccessful financial situation, but is going out with him to satisfy her extremely prejudicial mother and as a favour to Mark’s friend Greg Kleinschmidt (Louis C.K.).

The next day Mark is fired from his job due to lack of interest in his films, and his landlord evicts him for not paying his rent. Depressed, he goes to the bank to close his account. The teller informs him that the computers are down, and asks him how much money he has in his account. Mark has an epiphany and tells the world’s first lie, that he has $800 in his account. The computer comes back online and shows his balance is $300 but the teller gives him the full $800 anyway, assuming that the computer made a mistake.

Mark then lies in a variety of other circumstances, including telling an attractive woman that the world will end unless they have sex, preventing a police officer (Edward Norton in a cameo) from arresting his friend Greg for DUI, getting money from a casino, and stopping his neighbour Frank Fawcett (Jonah Hill) from committing suicide. He then writes a screenplay about the world being invaded by aliens in the 14th century and that the memories of all humans were erased. He becomes wealthy from the success of the film which he named “The Black Plague.”

Mark convinces Anna to go out with him again hoping she will see past his looks and weight now that he is financially secure. On their date Anna congratulates Mark for his success and admits that he would be a good husband and father. She is still not attracted to him because if they ever have children Mark would contribute half of the heredity to their children, making them “fat kids with snub noses” and Anna does not want that. Mark then gets a call that his mother had a heart attack and rushes to the hospital. There, the doctor (Jason Bateman) tells him that his mother is going to die. She is terrified of death, believing that death will bring an eternity of nothingness. Mark, through tears, tells her that death instead brings a joyful afterlife, introducing the concept of a Heaven to her, and she dies happy while the doctors and nurses appear awed by what he says.

Mark soon receives worldwide attention for his supposed new information about death. Under pressure from Anna, he tells them, through “ten rules”, he talks to a “Man In The Sky” who controls everything and promises great rewards in the good place after you die so long as you do no more than three “bad things.” Some time later Anna and Mark are hanging out together in a park and Anna asks him if they marry would being rich and famous make their children not fat with snub noses. Mark wants to lie but doesn’t because of his feelings for Anna.

Meanwhile Mark’s rival Brad Kessler (Rob Lowe) pursues Anna romantically, motivated because of Mark’s success. However Brad’s blunt, rude manner makes Anna uncomfortable though she continues dating him; they become engaged. Anna invites Mark to the wedding. Mark tries to convince her to not marry Brad but fails. Anna goes to the park she first went to with Mark and sees a slightly overweight child with an ice cream when some thinner boys come and mush his ice cream into his shirt. She yells at them and then they run away. She runs up to the boy and wipes away his tears while asking his name. He replies ‘Short Fat Brian’ to which she tells him: ‘you are so much more than just that.’

Before the wedding Mark’s friend Greg shows up and tells him that he didn’t lose her yet and Mark reluctantly attends Anna and Brad’s wedding. There, he objects to the marriage, but the officiant informs him that only the Man in the Sky can stop the wedding. Brad and Anna both ask Mark to ask the Man in the Sky what Anna should do but Mark refuses to say anything and leaves, wanting Anna to choose for herself. Anna walks out and Mark confesses his ability to lie and that the Man In The Sky he told everyone about was made up. Anna struggles to comprehend the concept and asks why he didn’t lie to convince her to marry him; Mark states that it “wouldn’t count.” Anna confesses that she loves him.

Some time later, the now-pregnant Anna and Mark are shown married with a son, who has learned his father’s ability to lie

REVIEW:

Imagine what the world would be like if everyone told nothing but the truth? Well, that is the world that The Invention of Lying is set in.

I’ve been postponing this film every week since it was released on DVD, thinking it might be nothing more than another one of those dramedy flicks that seem to be becoming more and more prevalent. I won’t say this isn’t one of those, but it does start off hilarious, especially when you think about the fact that these people can do nothing bt tell the truth.

The bluntness of these people is hilarious to us, but to them it is just everyday conversations. For instance, Jennifer Garner flat-out tells Ricky Gervais that she’s not attracted to him and he’s fat and has a snub nose. Granted, these kind of things happen today in our society, but for some reason, the way she said it was funny.

The plot of this film is something that we don’t see very often…an original story! Kudos to Ricky Gervais for coming up with this. I actually thought this may have been a book, Twilight Zone episode, or short story, but apparently not.

The acting here is a little dry for my taste. That is not to say that it is bad, it just is that humor that Gervais brought to audiences with the original The Office and tends to do in everything he does. For me, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Here, it works initially, then fades away and becomes more of a nuisance than anything.

I mention how the film starts out hilarious than tapers off. I’m not sure if that is because the joke gets old, or if it does indeed turn more towards the drama angle, but whatever the reason, it deeply affects the film, which is truly a shame, because if they wold have kept up the pace and tone of the first part of the film, this could have been great.

Instead, in typical Gervais fashion, they have to go and smack society in the face with our shortcomings and such and his character is the one that is the one to start it all. Don;t even get me started on that whole Jesus beard he had going near the end.

I must mention that Rob Lowe does play a pretty good douchebag slimeball villain. Of course, this character is actually not much different that the one he played in Wayne’s World, so it should come as no surprise. The guy does bring something different to the table when he’s on screen, though.

Would I recommend The Invention of Lying? Yes, but I wouldn’t go rush out to find it. Nothing about this film is memorable. Hell, I just finished watching it and already I’ve forgotten about a good chunk of it! Still, I did enjoy and think this is worth a viewing or two.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Mr. Magoo

Posted in Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Mr. Quincy Magoo (Leslie Nielsen) is an eccentric millionaire with very bad eyesight who refuses to use eyeglasses and therefore always gets into trouble. During a museum robbery he accidentally gets a priceless gem called the Star of Kuristan, and begins to trace the way for the arch-criminals whose idea was to steal the gem – Austin Cloquet (Malcolm McDowell) and Ortega “The Piranha” Peru (Miguel Ferrer), while two federal agents Stupak (Stephen Tobolowsky) and Anders (Ernie Hudson) lead the manhunt for Mr. Magoo himself.

REVIEW:

 We have a station, or network, down here called RTV, where they play lots of stuff from days gone by. It seems to be mainly focused on the 80s, which is just fine for me. The great thing about this channel is that these shows are remastered or anything, but are shown just as they were back then.

On Saturday mornings, they even have a block of cartoons from yesteryear, including He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, Fat Albert, She-Ra, BraveStarr, etc. Between these cartoons they show various shorts such as the Dick Tracy cartoon from the 60s or Mr. Magoo.

This is what brought me to watch Mr. Magoo tonight.

Now, previous films that are based on old cartoons seem to have a polarizing effect. In some cases, critics love them but audiences hate it, and in other cases it’s the reverse. For Mr. Magoo, it is the former.

In manner similar to Dudley Do-Right, The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle, Inspector Gadget, and George of the Jungle, this film does everything it can to more or less bring the cartoon from the proverbial drawing board to live action on the big screen.

I don’t know how many of you have actually seen a Mr. Magoo cartoon or read the comic strip. If you haven’t, then the basic premise is that this nearly blind man stumbles around causing accidents and endangering everyone but himself, yet he is oblivious to what is going on.

That is basically the plot of this film, bt of course they have to bring in some extra characters and throw in some sort of crime heist to frame the lovable, rich, old man.

I would have been just fine if they would have just left it with him stumbling around causing accidents and what not. There really was no need to bring in this crime heist scenario. The best parts of the film involve Magoo being Magoo, not this fluff-puff plot they shoved in here.

They do make up for that useless plot with the brilliant animation sequences that bookend the film. These harken back to the cartoon. I actually thought the voice actor,  Greg Burson, was the voice of Magoo from back then, but it turns out he is just really close to having the same voice.

Casting Leslie Nielsen as Mr. Magoo was a stroke of genius. Then again, who else could pull this off? I’d say George Carlin, but then again….nah, he’s not family friendly enough.

Jennifer Garner makes a decent big screen presence (this was before she was a big star), but her accent was bad…very bad!

Malcolm McDowell is evil as always. Would you expect less?

Make no mistake, this is not a great flick, bt it is one of those films the whole family an sit down and enjoy. Even those that get offended by any and everything can enjoy this. If you’re in the mood for a good, clean, funny film, then check out Mr. Magoo.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars