Archive for Kristen Bell

The Boss

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on April 27, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The story follows Michelle Darnell, a titan of industry who is sent to prison for insider trading, denounced by her former lover, Renault, who still holds a heavy grudge towards her for their breakup, after getting a promotion a few years ago. After doing her time, Michelle emerges, ready to rebrand herself as America’s latest sweetheart, but not everyone she steamrolled is so quick to forgive and forget. With nowhere to go and no one to scam, Michelle is forced to move in with former assistant Claire and her young daughter, Rachel. Now at her lowest point, Michelle wastes no time in devising a winner-take-all plan to rebuild her empire.

What people are saying:

“Even though The Boss is co-written by McCarthy and her husband, director Ben Falcone (who should know his wife’s strengths better), the film often strands its title character in shrill one-note caricature, mostly unchallenged.” 2 stars

“A very disappointing movie – its cast should be able to pull off a comedy with this premise, but to call the script and/or editing lackluster would be an understatement.” 1 star

“You’ll know what brand of comedy you’re going in for before the movie even starts, but ‘The Boss’ did enough for me to keep me around and entertained.” 3 1/2 stars

“Funny, but not hilarious, flick from McCarthy. Strangely distracting with the turtle necks, scarves and high-neck blouses McCarthy was wearing throughout the film” 2 1/2 stars

“Formulaic comes to mind. Bad person with redemption in the end. Try and true archetypal story. It had it’s entertaining moments, but just did not catch me with the story. Melissa just was not nasty enough in her Martha Stewart’ish role. If the movie started out with her mean at the beginning; then slowly filled in the back-story, it probably would have been better. Kathy Bates had that meaness that was needed. Always happy to see Dinklage on the screen-but it will not go down as one of his finer performances. Kristen Bell did a fine job; for some reason I am slowly warming up to her.” 3 stars

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Frozen

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 19, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Elsa, princess of Arendelle, possesses the magical ability to create ice and snow. One night while playing, she accidentally injures her younger sister, Anna. The king and queen seek help from the troll king, who heals Anna and removes her memories of Elsa’s magic. The royal couple isolates the children in their castle until Elsa learns to control her powers. Afraid of hurting Anna again, Elsa spends most of her time alone in her room, causing a rift between the girls as they grow up. When the girls are teenagers, their parents die at sea during a storm.

When Elsa comes of age, the kingdom prepares for her coronation. Among the guests is the Duke of Weselton, who seeks to exploit Arendelle for profit. Excited to be allowed out of the castle again, Anna explores the town and meets Prince Hans of the Southern Isles, and the two immediately develop a mutual attraction. Despite Elsa’s fear, her coronation goes off without incident. During the reception, Hans proposes and Anna hastily accepts. However, Elsa refuses to grant her blessing and forbids their sudden marriage. The sisters argue, culminating in the exposure of Elsa’s abilities during an emotional outburst.

Panicking, Elsa flees the castle, while inadvertently unleashing an eternal winter on the kingdom. High in the nearby mountains, she casts off restraint, building herself a solitary ice palace, and unknowingly brings to life her and Anna’s childhood snowman, Olaf. Meanwhile, Anna sets out in search of her sister, determined to return her to Arendelle, end the winter, and mend their relationship. While obtaining supplies, she meets mountain man Kristoff and his reindeer Sven. She convinces Kristoff to guide her up the North Mountain. The group then encounters Olaf, who leads them to Elsa’s hideaway.

Anna and Elsa reunite, but Elsa still fears hurting her sister. When Anna persists in persuading her sister to return, Elsa becomes agitated and accidentally strikes Anna in the heart with her powers. Horrified, Elsa creates a giant snow creature to drive Anna, Kristoff, and Olaf away. As they flee, Kristoff notices Anna’s hair is turning white, and deduces something is very wrong. He seeks help from the trolls, his adoptive family, who explain that Anna’s heart has been frozen. Unless it is thawed by an “act of true love”, she will become frozen solid forever. Believing that only Hans can save Anna, Kristoff races back with her to Arendelle.

Meanwhile, Hans, leading a search for Anna, reaches Elsa’s palace. In the ensuing battle against the Duke’s men, Elsa is knocked unconscious and imprisoned back at the kingdom. There, Hans pleads with her to undo the winter, but Elsa confesses she doesn’t know how. When Anna reunites with Hans and begs him to kiss her to break the curse, Hans refuses and reveals that his true intention in marrying her was to seize control of Arendelle’s throne. Leaving Anna to die, he charges Elsa with treason for her younger sister’s apparent death.

Elsa escapes and heads out into the blizzard on the fjord. Olaf finds Anna and reveals Kristoff is in love with her; they then escape onto the fjord to find him. Hans confronts Elsa and tells her Anna is dead because of her. In Elsa’s despair, the storm suddenly ceases, giving Kristoff and Anna the chance to find each other. However Anna, seeing that Hans is about to kill Elsa, decides to throw herself between the two just as she freezes solid, blocking Hans’ attack.

As Elsa grieves for her sister, Anna begins to thaw, since her decision to sacrifice herself to save her sister constitutes an “act of true love”. Realizing love is the key to controlling her powers, Elsa is able to thaw the kingdom and even helps Olaf survive in summer. Hans is sent back to the Southern Isles to face punishment for his crimes against the royal family of Arendelle, and Elsa cuts off trade with Weselton. Anna and Kristoff share a kiss, and the two sisters reconcile; Elsa promises never to shut the castle gates again.

REVIEW:

It was recently brought to my attention that Disney had shut down their traditional animation department. Now, everything will be done by computers, except for the stuff on Disney Channel and Disney X D such as Phineas & Ferb. With this news, I was ready to boycott Frozen, until I heard how great it was. Curiosity has gripped me since its release back in November, and now it is time to see what all the hype was about.

What is this about?

After her kingdom is doomed to suffer from eternal winter, intrepid Anna goes on a quest to find her reclusive sister, the Snow Queen, and break the curse. Along the way, Anna teams with eccentric mountaineer Kristoff and his comic reindeer, Sven.

What did I like?

Powers. This has been a fairly rough winter here in the states. I think we can all agree on that point. Hell, it even snowed…twice…down here in south Louisiana!!! What does this have to do with anything? Well, Else has massive amounts of ice power. Aside from the Game of Thrones memes that were going around, a running joke was that someone has pissed off Else and she was making everything so cold. I got a chuckle out of it, but not that I’ve watched the film and saw what immense power she has, it makes more sense. Want to know how much power she has? If you’re a comic book fan, think of the amount of power Jean Grey and/or Storm have when they aren’t in control and mix that with Iceman’s power and you have Elsa.

Writing. Not to take anything away from the latest Pixar creations, but Disney animation seems to have stepped up their game while Pixar seems to be falling off. Of course, John Lassiter, who was head of Pixar is now leading Disney, so that could be a part of it, right? At any rate, this is the kind of story we would expect in the days when Disney was still alive or during the Disney Renaissance, arguably the two best eras for Disney animation. Each of these characters is well developed and thought out and, as an audience, we can share the emotions that they seem to be going through. Lesser Disney films would have just stuck a funny sidekick in there to distract from the film’s flaws.

Musical. What was the last true musical that we saw on the big screen, animated or otherwise? I’m tempered to say Les Miserables, but I think there has been something in between that I just can’t think of right now. Having a film that actually delivers on being a fairytale musical the way Disney used to do. Of course, it is hard to escape the film’s most popular song, “Let It Go”, which is belted out with authority by Idina Menzel in what can be described as the flick’s showstoping musical number.

What didn’t I like?

Olaf. Enter the token comic relief character, a friendly little snowman named Olaf. What is wrong with the guy? Well, nothing really, except that he mysteriously appears, conveniently, when things start getting too serious. I’m all for comic relief, and the way they use Olaf was sparingly, but he was never really brought to life, especially when it was shown that Elsa’s giant bodyguard snowman was brought to life. Maybe I’m just nitpicking, though.

Baddie. A fairytale without your typical antagonist looming over everything just doesn’t have the same effect. Take out the likes of Jafar, Maleficent, Ursala, Capt. Hook etc., and see what you have? Not much of a story, right? By not having a true antagonist, at least until the end, this film manages to cover new ground by making one of the protagonists an ersatz antagonist, even though she does nothing to make her one. That is just the result of the way the townspeople treated her as she ran out of town, and of course the fact that she built a castle of solitude (a quite impressive one, I might add) probably played into that ideal.

Wicked. Maybe it is just my  desire for a Wicked movie, but I felt as if this had similar themes. That isn’t bad, but when you cast Idina Menzel, is was a bit of a tease. I wonder if they had Kristin Chenoweth in mind for Anna, because that would have just been a giant cock tease for everyone. All that aside, the similar themes aren’t exact, so don’t misunderstand me, but the sisters trying to help reminded me of that Broadway play and yes, I know that is a bit of a stretch.

I still miss traditional hand drawn animation, but if there was going to be a film that could convert me, perhaps Frozen would be it (but not likely). I don’t want to poo poo all over this film, but I honestly don’t see why everyone is so ga ga over it. Yes, it is really good and entertaining, but the way people are reacting to it, one would think it was done by ghost of Walt Disney himself. Still, it is nice to see a film that goes back to fairytale musical that works so well. Maybe this is the start of another Disney Renaissance? Do I recommend this? Yes, very enthusiastically. I would even venture to say this is a must see before you die kind of film!

4 3/4 out of 5 stars

Movie 43

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 20, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film is composed of multiple comedy shorts presented through an overarching segment titled “The Pitch”, in which Charlie Wessler (Dennis Quaid), a mad screenwriter, is attempting to pitch a script to film executive Griffin Schraeder (Greg Kinnear). After revealing several of the stories in his script, Wessler becomes agitated when Schraeder dismisses his outrageous ideas, and he pulls a gun on him and forces him to listen to multiple other stories before making Schraeder consult his manager, Bob Mone (Common), to purchase the film. When they do so, Mone’s condescending attitude toward Schraeder angers him to the point that, after agreeing to make the film “the biggest film since Howard the Duck”, he confronts Mone in the parking lot and tries to humiliate him. Wessler tries to calm Schraeder with more story ideas to no avail, and the segment ends with it being revealed that it is being shot by a camera crew as part of the movie, leading into the final segments.

Having recently moved, Anna and Sean have coffee with their new neighbors. The neighbors, Robert (Liev Schreiber) and Samantha (Naomi Watts) have a teenage son, Kevin (Jeremy Allen White), whom they have home-schooled. Anna and Sean begin inquiring about the homeschooling, and the numerous manners in which Robert and Samantha have replicated a high school environment within their home, going as far as hazing, bullying, and giving out detentions, are humorously revealed. They also throw high school parties and Samantha simulates Kevin’s “first kiss” with him. Visibly disturbed, the neighbors end up meeting Kevin, who says he is going out and gives them the impression that all is fine: until he reveals a doll made of a mop with Samantha’s face on it, referring to the doll as his girlfriend.

Julie (Anna Faris) and Doug (Chris Pratt) have been in a relationship for a year. When he attempts to propose to her, she reveals to him that she is a coprophiliac, and asks him to defecate on her in the bedroom. Urged by his best friend Larry (J.B. Smoove) and others to go along with it, he eats a large meal and drinks a bottle of laxative prior to the event. Wanting foreplay, Julie is angered when Doug wants to finish, and she runs into the street. Chasing after her, he is then hit by a car and graphically evacuates his bowels everywhere. She cradles him and apologizes; covered and surrounded by his excrement on the road, she exclaims that it is the “most beautiful thing” she has ever seen and accepts his marriage proposal. (In the end credits, Julie and Doug are mistakenly re-named Vanessa and Jason by Rocky Russo, Jeremy Sosenko, Steve Carr, Peter Farrelly, and Charles B. Wessler).

Neil (Kieran Culkin) is working a night shift at a local grocery store. His ex-girlfriend, Veronica (Emma Stone), comes through his line and the two begin arguing, which soon turns into sexual discussion and flirtation as they humorously lament over their relationship; unbeknownst to them, Neil’s intercom microphone broadcasts the entire explicit conversation throughout the store, where various elderly people and vagrants tune in. After she leaves in tears, the customers agree to cover his shift while he goes after her.

Robin (Justin Long) and his cohort Batman (Jason Sudeikis) are in Gotham City at a speed dating establishment seeking out a bomb threat by their arch nemesis, Penguin (John Hodgman). While Robin attempts to connect with various women through speed dating—including Lois Lane (Uma Thurman) and Supergirl (Kristen Bell)—Batman encounters his ex, Wonder Woman (Leslie Bibb), and attempts to stop Penguin from detonating Supergirl, who later turns out to be the Riddler (Will Carlough) in disguise, which Batman already knew and was screwing with Robin, who kissed “her” moments before unveiling. (Early during production, this sketch was formerly titled “Robin’s Big Speed Date”.)

A faux-PSA about kids stuck in machines and how adults’ criticism of these particular machines affect the feelings of the children stuck inside the machines. This commercial was paid for by the society for the prevention of cruelty to children inside machines.

A developing company is having a meeting in their headquarters over their newly released product, the “iBabe”, which is a life-sized, realistic replica of a nude woman which functions as an MP3 player. The boss (Richard Gere), listens to his various workers (Kate Bosworth, Aasif Mandvi, and Jack McBrayer) argue over the placement of a fan that was built into the genital region of the iBabe, which is dismembering the penises of teenage boys who attempt to have sex with them. The board members then agree to strongly emphasise the dangers of the product via its new commercials.

Nathan (Jimmy Bennett) and Amanda (Chloë Grace Moretz) are watching television after school at Nathan’s house as their first “middle school” date. When they begin to kiss, his older brother Mikey (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) enters the living room and makes fun of them. Amanda then discovers she is menstruating and tries to hide it, and when Nathan sees blood on her pants, he panics and believes her to be bleeding to death, causing a debacle, which would later have Nathan and Amanda’s fathers (Patrick Warburton and Matt Walsh) involved.

Another faux-commercial; this time it now involves two women and Tampax as the two women are swimming in an ocean and a shark suddenly appears and graphically eats one of the women.

Pete (Johnny Knoxville) captures a leprechaun (Gerard Butler) for his roommate Brian (Seann William Scott) as a birthday present. After tying the leprechaun up in the basement, they demand he give them a pot of gold. The obscene leprechaun threatens that his brother is coming to save him. When he arrives, Brian and Pete are shot at but ultimately kill both leprechauns. At the end of the segment, Pete reveals he has also caught a fairy (Esti Ginzburg) who performs fellatio for gold coins.

Donald (Stephen Merchant) and Emily (Halle Berry) are on a date together at a Mexican restaurant. Tired with typical first dates, Emily challenges Donald to a game of truth or dare. She dares him to grab a man’s buttocks, and he follows with daring her to blow out the birthday candles on a blind boy’s cake. The game rapidly escalates to extremes, in which both of them get plastic surgery and tattoos, and humiliate themselves.

Set in 1959, Coach Jackson (Terrence Howard) is lecturing his basketball team before their first game against an all-white team. Worried about losing the game, the timid players are lectured by Coach Jackson about their superiority in the sport over their white counterparts, which he expresses vulgarly. When the game ensues, the all-white team loses miserably and rejoices in a single point they earn.

Amy (Elizabeth Banks) worries that her boyfriend Anson’s (Josh Duhamel) cat, Beezel (an animated cartoon), is coming between their relationship. Beezel seems to detest Amy and anyone who comes between him and Anson, but Anson only sees Beezel as innocent. One day, Amy witnesses Beezel masturbating to summer vacation photos of Anson in a swimsuit. Beezel attacks her and violently urinates on her. Anson still finds his pet innocent but Amy threatens to leave if he doesn’t get rid of Beezel. Caring more about his relationship, Anson agrees to find a new home for him. That night, Beezel tearfully watches the couple make love from a closet (whilst sodomizing himself with a hairbrush and dry humping a stuffed teddy bear). The next day when it comes time to take Beezel away, he is nowhere to be found. Amy goes outside to look. Beezel then runs her over with a truck and attempts to shoot her to death with a shotgun, but she chases him into the street and begins beating him with a shovel, which is witnessed by a group of children attending a birthday party at a neighboring house. When Anson approaches to see what is happening, Amy tries to explain Beezel’s motives. Beezel acts innocent and Anson sides with his cat. The children of the party then attack and murder Amy for beating up Beezel, stabbing her with plastic forks. Anson grabs Beezel, as Beezel again fantasizes about French kissing his owner.

REVIEW:

Movie 43 is a film that I have yet to read a good review about. Against my better judgment, though, I decided to see what the masses were so incensed about. Surely this thing could not be that bad…or could it?

What is this about?

A series of interconnected short films follows a washed-up producer as he pitches insane story lines featuring some of the biggest stars in Hollywood.

What did I like?

Offensive. No, this film did not offend me, unless you consider how unfunny it was, but there is a disclaimer at the beginning, and the directors were making the rounds before it was released saying that the reason they made this picture was to offend and shock audiences. Judging by the vitriol people have been spitting out regarding this film, I would say they succeeded.

Cohesive. Unlike Putney Swope, a film that also has random sketches interspersed amongst the “plot”, this one actually keeps everything tied together. As a matter of fact, the plot involving a guy who wants to get the horrible movie, which we are watching, made could very well be the best part of the entire flick.

What didn’t I like?

Fire the agents. I really have to wonder what the agents of such big stars as Kate Winslet, Halle Berry, Richard Gere, and fresh off his Oscar worthy performance in Les Miserables, Hugh Jackman, amongst others that have no business being in a film this lowbrow. I don’t particularly care to say that actors are too good for a film, but they were. For goodness sakes, Jackman was playing a guy with testicles on his neck!!!!

*SIGH*.  I was talking to a friend of mine a few minutes ago, and he summed this film up very well, it is like a movie version of current Saturday Night Live. There are moments that are funny, but they are so few and far between, that you barely even notice them, or care. The rest of the sketches and whatnot just exist for the point of being gross, offensive, or filler.

Some media outlets have been trying to compare Movie 43 so such comedy sketch classics as Kentucky Fried Movie and The Groove Tube, among others, but it doesn’t come anywhere near the quality of those. This is one of those films that I am stretching to fins something good to say about, so it is best that you avoid it like the plague. I’ve suffered enough for all of us!

1 1/2 out of 5 stars

Hit and Run

Posted in Action/Adventure, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on February 16, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Charlie Bronson (Dax Shepard) is enrolled in the Witness Protection Program, staying in Milton, California under the supervision of incompetent U.S. Marshal Randy Anderson (Tom Arnold). Charlie’s girlfriend Annie Bean (Kristen Bell) is a professor at Milton Valley College and has a doctorate in Non-Violent Conflict Resolution from Stanford University, a major she created herself. Annie’s supervisor Debbie Kreeger (Kristin Chenoweth) calls Annie in for a meeting, where she tells her that the University of California is starting a Conflict Resolution program and is interested in interviewing her. The interview is scheduled for Wednesday in Los Angeles, making Annie balk at the idea of interviewing until Debbie forces her hand by telling her that she will not have a job at the college if she does not make it to the interview.

A depressed Annie returns home and tells Charlie of the job interview, upsetting him since Los Angeles is the area he lived in prior to enrolling in Witness Protection. Charlie insists Annie interview for the job even though he would be unable to follow her, but Annie instead returns to the college the next day to beg for her job back. While she is gone, Charlie decides he will return to L.A. after all, and picks up Annie in his restored Lincoln Continental, promising to take her to her interview.

Before they leave town Annie realizes she needs her teaching certificate, which she left at the home of her ex-boyfriend Gil Rathbinn (Michael Rosenbaum). Gil is aware of Charlie being enrolled in Witness Protection, and urges Annie not to go with Charlie, who he is certain is a criminal. Annie refuses and leaves with Charlie; Gil memorizes Charlie’s license plate and asks his gay police officer brother Terry (Jess Rowland) to look up the plate, who finds that the vehicle is registered to “Yul Clint Perkins”—Charlie’s real name. Gil uses the name to look up Charlie’s past, discovering he is a former getaway driver who testified in an ultimately unsuccessful bank robbery case. Gil finds the Facebook page of one of the defendants, Alexander Dmitri (Bradley Cooper), and leaves a message saying he will know where Yul Perkins is for the next 24 hours.

Meanwhile, Randy calls Charlie after discovering he is not home. Charlie tells him he is returning to L.A., and Randy insists on accompanying him per Mashals Service policy, leaving Milton to pursue Charlie. A short time later Charlie and Annie discover Gil following them in his vehicle. Charlie pulls over, intending to beat up Gil, but instead tries to non-violently resolve the situation at Annie’s insistence. Gil is unmoved, and reveals that he both knows Charlie’s real name and has Alex Dmitri as a “Facebook friend”. Charlie and Annie then flee from Gil in the Continental, in the process running Randy off the road as he arrives, but ultimately losing Gil. Elsewhere, Alex sees Gil’s Facebook post, gathers his fellow bank robbers Neve (Joy Bryant) and Alan (Ryan Hansen) and heads to meet Gil.

Annie and Charlie gas up the Continental, where the vehicle’s engine is admired by a redneck named Sanders (David Koechner). The two then make their way to a motel, where they are unknowingly followed by Sanders. In the morning, Charlie tries to start the vehicle, only to discover that the engine has been stolen in the night. Gil arrives shortly after, ambushing Charlie with a golf club, but Charlie distracts him and knocks him out, placing him in his vehicle. He quickly discovers that Gil was also accompanied by Alex’s crew, who are at the front desk. Charlie grabs the VIN Number of a Corvette in the parking lot, makes a duplicate keyless entry for the vehicle using the former tools of his trade, and then leaves with Annie, Gil and Alex’s crew in hot pursuit, with Randy joining the chace. During the chase Annie and Charlie argue over his past, where he reveals that he was a getaway driver who participated in 13 bank robberies, and that Neve was once his fiancee. The two ultimately escape their pursuers again.

Afterward, Annie demands Charlie pull over, where she confronts him for lying to her about his past. She decides to proceed to L.A. without Charlie; Gil arrives shortly after, and agrees to take Annie the rest of the way. A short time later they are run off the road by Alex, who takes Annie hostage and calls Charlie, telling him to meet at a nearby diner. Charlie arrives and Alex demands money in exchange for Annie, then argues about Charlie’s betrayal, cut short when Alex reveals that he was raped in jail and blames Charlie for it. Charlie agrees to take him to a hidden stash of bank robbery money located at the home of his estranged father Clint (Beau Bridges). While in transit he surreptitiously places a call to Randy, now in the company of Terry and his partner Angela Roth (Carly Hatter), and gives Randy his father’s address. The three pick up Gil along the way.

At Clint’s house, Charlie digs up a bag of money he hid in a pasture with his father, at the same time reconciling with him. His father carefully mentions he owns a Class 1 Off-Road racing vehicle; shortly after he knocks Alex down with a shovel, then fights with Alan as Charlie and Annie make their escape. The two get in the racer and flee just as Gil, Randy, Terry and Angela arrive. Alex and Neve attempt to follow, but Randy manages to shoot Alex as the latter fires at Charlie, forcing them to stop and placing the two under arrest. Two Marshals (Jason Bateman and Nate Tuck) later arrive and take Alex and his crew into custody, complimenting Randy and Terry on their work.

After their escape, Charlie tells Annie he is committed to getting her to the interview still, wanting to keep his word despite the fact that she no longer loves him. Annie responds that she still loves him, and the two reconcile before continuing the trip. Charlie makes it to the University of California campus in time for Annie to make her interview. Before she leaves, Charlie offers to spend the rest of his life with her, which Annie accepts. The final scene cuts some months in the future, showing Randy and Terry, now a couple, giving each other a brief pep talk before heading to take the Marshals’ exam.

In a stinger segment, Annie makes her interview with Professor Sandy Osterman (Sean Hayes), interrupting him as he is smoking from a bong. After a rough start due to Osterman’s embarrassment at hotboxing his office and confusion at him not being a woman as Debbie had described, Osterman reveals that Debbie is his sister and she has jokingly called him a girl since he was 9. Annie expresses sympathy for how this must make Sandy feel, earning his approval and an immediate job offer, which she accepts.

REVIEW:

Hit and Run is the second flick that is primarily a chase film, at least from the way it is advertised, that I have watched in the last few weeks. For one who hates to drive as much as I do, you would think I was a gear head.

What is this about?

Determined to get his fiancée to Los Angeles to take advantage of an amazing opportunity, Charlie Bronson breaks out of the witness protection program to drive her — and soon the two are being chased by the feds and Charlie’s old gangster buddies.

What did I like?

Authenticity. Most of the time when we see a couple on-screen, they are either just meeting for the first time, or are good friends. Occasionally, though, we’ll get a couple that is together in real life, as we do with Dax Shepard and Kristen Bell. The chemistry between these two cannot be recreated had they been mixed and matched with someone else opposite of them. There is just something to be said about the authenticity they brought to the table. While I don’t advocate doing this very often, as couple who work together don’t often stay together, it was nice to get some real sparks up there.

Car. The first few minutes of the film are spent introducing us to the characters and laying out parts of the plot, then the car is rolled out. Once I saw that thing, I knew business was about to pick up, and then that engine started purring. Man, I gotta tell ya, that was akin to a symphony. Hopefully in time, this will go down as a great cinema car, along with the car from Bullitt.

Tom and Kristin. Two supporting characters are great as some comic relief. Kristin Chenoweth has a severely tiny role as Bell’s supervisor, but she is hilarious in it and makes you wish for more. Tom Arnold plays a bumbling U.S. Marshall who can’t seem to keep his van in park, let alone do anything right. The guy is a true menace, and that is what makes his such a great asset to the comedic assets of this flick.

What didn’t I like?

Huh. About midway through the film, perhaps a little after, Bell learns that Shepard isn’t who he has told her to be as has an emotional outburst about it, getting bent out of shape because he had been lying to her. Here’s the thing, the guy has been in the witness protection program. Wouldn’t that tell you that the guy has to lie for the safety of him and everyone he cares about? I’m sorry, but I just don’t know what she was getting so upset about it. Sure, she had a right to get upset about being lied to, but under the circumstances, she has to get over it. There is the possibility that had he told her, that would have been putting her life in danger.

Let it go, man. When we find out why it is that Bradley Cooper’s character is so pissed off at Shepard, he makes a joke of sorts about his being raped by a black man in jail (not prison, though I’m not sure what the difference is). As they are being taken away, he goes on naming more races. I was like wtf?!? man. The joke didn’t work in the first place, stop trying to beat it into the ground!

Ex. An ex-boyfriend who thinks he’s protecting his “true love” but instead ends up making things worse for everyone. Did we really need this guy? Well, Michael Rosenbaum does a good job, but the truth is, no we don’t. Maybe it was just how this character was written, but he just seemed like the generic douche ex-boyfriend that we get in comedies. There was no real point to his being there, other than to serve as a secondary antagonist.

A friend of mine said that the title Hit and Run described this film to a ‘T’, as it has moments where it was great, but quickly ran into moments that can’t be described. I don’t agree with that as, for the most part, I really enjoyed this film. When I saw the trailers, I didn’t really know what to think, coupled with the release date, and that is the reason I didn’t bother to see this in the theater. I don’t regret that, but I am glad that I had the chance to watch. Do I recommend it? Yes…yes, I do. Surely, there is something here for everyone to latch onto and enjoy.

4 out of 5 stars

You Again

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 27, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film opens in 2002 with Marni (Kristen Bell), an acne-riddled high school senior at Ridgefield High School, with glasses and braces, making a video about how much she hates high school, and reveals how she is tormented and bullied by other girls, specifically Joanna (Odette Yustman), who made Marni’s high school life miserable. She adds that her protective older brother, Will, (James Wolk), was very popular as a handsome basketball player. However, at a very important basketball game, Joanna pushes the mascot (Marni), who runs into Will, resulting in a loss of the game.

Years later, in 2010, however, she is a successful public relations executive, recently promoted to a job in New York. When she flies home to her older brother’s wedding, she discovers her brother Will is about to marry Joanna, who bullied and tormented her throughout high school. When Marni meets Joanna for the first time in eight years, Joanna seems to not recognize her. Marni is also upset to see that Joanna fits in very well with the family. The plot thickens when her mother Gail (Jamie Lee Curtis) meets up with Joanna’s aunt Ramona (Sigourney Weaver), Gail’s former best friend who pushed her into a pool at their senior prom. Ramona is now a successful, wealthy woman who owns several hotels and a private plane.

Although Gail seems willing to put the past behind her, she still feels the need to “outdo” Ramona during their interactions together. On the other hand, Marni is unwilling to forget the things Joanna did to her in high school, unless she apologizes, and decides to try to let her brother know of Joanna’s bullying past. Her attempts to get Will alone for a conversation fail. When Marni tells Joanna that she knows who she really is, it is obvious that Joanna remembers Marni. She refuses to give Marni a meaningful apology, and treats her disrespectfully, leaving Marni convinced that Joanna has not changed. Meanwhile, Gail comes to Ramona’s hotel room for “closure” about anything bad between them that happened in the past. They appear to make up, but Ramona still seems not to be too fond of Gail.

One day on the street, Will and Marni’s grandmother Bunny (Betty White) meets a man named Tim (Kyle Bornheimer). Joanna reveals that they have dated, and Tim appears devastated when he hears that she’s marrying Will. Marni decides to bring Tim to the rehearsal dinner as part of her plan to stop the wedding. When it is time for guests to make a toast to the bride and groom, Tim unexpectedly jumps up to give his toast to Joanna. He reveals to a stunned wedding party that Joanna left him at the altar. Later, a video is presented (recovered by Marni) from their old high school time capsule. The video reveals Joanna as she was in high school: an alpha-female bully, with the footage showing proof of her tormenting Marni and pushing other students. Will unplugs the video projector before the video is complete and walks out, furious.

However, Marni is in trouble when everyone discovers that she was responsible for the video at the rehearsal dinner. Marni decides to talk with Joanna, hoping to reconcile, but Joanna is too furious and tells Marni “I thought we could start over.” Marni is now convinced that Joanna hasn’t changed, and walks away. Joanna then starts a fight with Marni, who fights back. Will walks in and witnesses the fight. He tells Joanna that he doesn’t care about her past, but is angry that she was not being honest with him. He then tells Marni that he is furious at her for going behind his back.

Meanwhile, Ramona and Gail argue after the rehearsal dinner, and Ramona accuses Gail of trying to ruin her life throughout high school. A catfight ensues, with both of them falling into the pool. Ramona reveals that she had a grudge with Gail, even when they were best friends, because she always competed with and outdid her, culminating with Gail taking the boy that Ramona wanted to the prom. Ramona stated that Gail was already a legendary head cheerleader and prom queen, and drama was supposed to be hers, yet Gail also defeated her with the auditions. She sarcastically thanks Gail for what she did, because it motivated her to become successful in life. Gail apologizes for being insensitive, but reveals that she is proud of Ramona, and that her loving family is her accomplishment. Ramona, remorseful of her actions, tells Gail that she was jealous of Gail’s happy family especially that her marriages didn’t work out, and feared that she was trying to take Joanna away from her. The two reconcile their friendship.

Later that night, Marni finds Joanna in the kitchen binging on junk food. She finally admits to Marni that she feels truly awful for bullying and tormenting her and feels like an awful person, and that she loves Will. Marni forgives her and promises to get them back together. The next day,during a jog, Marni apologizes to Will for her actions, saying she was only trying to protect him.

Joanna and Will reconcile in the family’s old tree house, but it collapses and injures both of them when Ben Olsen (Billy Unger) loosened the screws as a part of his plan in hiding the tree house. They are both forced to stay at a hospital, which delays the wedding. However, Marni puts together a makeshift wedding at the hospital, with the bride and groom bandaged, but properly dressed and able to walk down the aisle. Gail has a surprise for Ramona, it’s Richie Phillips(Patrick Duffy), the boy from high school that Ramona wanted to go to the prom with. Richie welcomes Ramona home and wants to be her date for the wedding, which makes Ramona very happy and they appear to start a relationship. Marni appears to start a relationship with Charlie (Sean Wing), her brother’s best friend who was always kind to her. Joanna introduces Marni’s grandmother Bunny to Helen Sullivan (Cloris Leachman). It is revealed that Helen and Bunny were enemies in high school when Helen stole a boy from her. However, Bunny gets her revenge when she cuts in on Helen’s dance and takes her partner.

During the credits, at the wedding reception, Marni presents her wedding gift to Will and Joanna, it’s Hall & Oates in person performing Will and Joanna’s favorite and special song,”Kiss on My List”! Everyone then joins Hall & Oates on stage

REVIEW:

For those that were bullies in high school, You Again should be a public service announcement in what goes around can come back to haunt you.

This film has been on my radar for some time, but I just haven’t had the chance to get to it until now.

The basic premise of this film is that the nerdy girl from high school became focused and went on to big things. Her brother, though, is getting married to her arch-enemy and high school bully, though he doesn’t know it. As it turns out, there is also some rivalry between her mother and the fiancée’s aunt stemming back to high school. Maybe it is something in the gene pool, because, as we see in the last scene, even the grandmothers had issues.

This isn’t the strongest story, but it is decent enough to keep the audience interested. Couple that with the ongoing developments of the protagonists high school sagas and of course Kristen Bell (who I’ve been in love with since Heroes and Forgetting Sarah Marshall).

As far as romantic comedies go, I’m not sure this is one. Yes, there is a guy she’s hopelessly in love with, but the film doesn’t revolve around her trying to win him. That being said, some of the film’s funniest moments stem from her trying to impress or not make a fool of herself in front of him.

Reviews of this film have been harsh, to say the least. One guy even went so far as to call it “the worst film ever made”. Ouch! Granted, it has its flaws, but I actually found myself enjoying this picture. The fact that it doesn’t try to be a chick flick, but rather just a comedy centered around women I think it what was most appealing.

For some reason, I wasn’t impressed with the cast. I couldn’t wrap my mind around Jamie Lee Curtis being Kristen Bell’s mom, or that Kristen Bell was that nerdy, pimple faced creature in high school. Why couldn’t they have just found someone to play the younger version or her, and Odette Yustman, for that matter.

Strangely enough, though, Kristin Chenoweth, who may have been the best thing about the cast, would have been perfect for Bell’s mother or even a sister or aunt. I’m just saying.

Betty White. That is all, nothing more needs to be said. She’s Betty White. I will say, though, that I would have liked to have seen more of that confrontation with her and Cloris Leachman. Can you just imagine the comedic gold these two could create?

You Again is a fairly decent film, but you can rest assured it won’t be on anyone’s “best of” lists. This is one of those films that was decent, but that’s about as far as it goes. If you were to decide to watch it, chances are you’ll find yourself giggling here and there, but that’s about it. Do I recommend it? I am not really sure. I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it, but there are much worse things out there to see.

3 out of 5 stars

Burlesque

Posted in Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 2, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Alice (Ali) Rose (Christina Aguilera) is a young, hard-done-by girl who works in a bar in a small town in Iowa. Her boss hasn’t paid her for two months and she has finally had enough. She takes what he owes her from the till and decides to leave for Los Angeles to follow her dream of singing. After a fruitless day of searching for jobs in her new home, she winds up at a burlesque bar and becomes enthralled with the whole concept. She tries to persuade Tess (Cher) to let her go on stage but Tess won’t hear her out. Ali meets the friendly bartender Jack (Cam Gigandet) and starts to waitress for him because she knows this is where she belongs.

Later, Tess auditions Ali and hires her as a dancer to replace a newly pregnant dancer named Georgia (Julianne Hough). One night, Nikki (Kristen Bell), the most famous dancer in this bar, gets drunk and is not allowed to perform by Tess, so Ali takes her place. Nikki cuts the music out of jealousy, but Ali impresses everyone with her own voice. She becomes the new star of this bar and earns it a reputation.

Ali had some dates with a successful businessman named Marcus (Eric Dane) before she realizes that her true love is Jack, whom she has to share an apartment with after her hotel room is robbed. Meanwhile, running out of money, Tess is worried that she has to sell the bar to Marcus, who intends to tear down the club and build a skyscraper. Finally, Ali helps Tess solve the problem by selling the air right of this place to another businessman. Tess has financial resources and Ali stays at the bar as its most valuable star.

REVIEW:

 The best way I can describe Burlesque is that it is a mixture of Showgirls, Chicago, and Moulin Rouge. If you liked any of those films, then this is right up your alley.

The film is your typical tale about a small town girl heads to the big city. Nothing fancy there, except for the fact this girl has some real talent…and looks to go with it. She stops into a burlesque club one day and through some playful flirting ends up working there (as a waitress) against the wishes of the owner. Eventually, she manages to maker her way on the stage, and thanks to her rival’s attempt to sabotage her, becomes a huge star. There is also this subplot about the club being sold in the next few days if they don’t raise enough money.

I’m sure there are more than a few guys out there (and perhaps even some women) who though this was going to be nothing more than a bunch of half-naked women parading around the stage. Well, if that’s what you’re looking for, then you’ll be severely disappointed. Of course, has you actually looked up the definition to burlesque, it might have prevented said disappointment.

This film has both good and bad parts. First off, the acting isn’t very good, yet Christina Aguilera (in her acting debut) shines and Stanley Tucci does what he does best.

Peter Gallagher seemed to be just another slime ball ex-husband. At least that’s how he was portrayed. His character didn’t really get fleshed out enough to tell, though.

Kristen Bell made for a good rival for Aguilera, but I couldn’t help but thinking there should have been a dance-off between the two. Maybe they could have also made her a brunette. Rivals always seem to have different color hats. It’s like back in the old days, the one in the white hat was the good guy and the black hat was the bad guy.

Cam Gigandet was a decent enough character, though I felt like he was there just to be a love interest and some (straight) male presence that wasn’t involved in the finances of the club.

Eric Dane plays the typical sleaze ball real estate financier guy we see in every film/TV show that involves someplace being bought by a certain time. There really wasn’t anything to brag about with his character. To me, he was very expendable.

Cher, as wonderful as she is, came off as a bit wooden in her performance. Although, the scenes between her and Aguilera seem very heartfelt. It really was like a mother/daughter vibe going between the two. Couple that with the great chemistry she seemed to have with Tucci, and it really saved her from being one of this film’s detriments.

The music in this picture was ok, but I was expecting more. That being said, these songs are well written. A couple that stood out to me were “Express” (you’ve probably heard the radio version of this one) and “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me”. The latter stuck in my head not because it was catchy or anything, but because it was sung by Cher. Yes, Cher actually sings in a film. If I’m not mistaken, this is the first time she’s done that in her career.

The costumes are great. They really capture the essence of burlesque, without going too over the top or trying to be too “modern”, the way so many other things seem to try to do these days.

If you’ve ever seen a musical before, then you may know that the pacing is the key to whether the audience sticks with it or loses interest, especially in these modern musicals that don’t have nearly as much singing. With this in mind, it should be noted that Burlesque moves at a steady enough pace that you can get invested in most of the characters, enjoy the performances, and not be totally lost (or bored) by film’s end.

For some reason, critics didn’t really care for this film, but they were crazy about Aguilera’s performance. Personally, I loved this film, but I think it should have been set in the time when burlesque clubs were all the rage. It works in modern-day, though. Should you check this out? Most definitely! You won’t be disappointed!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

When in Rome

Posted in Chick Flicks, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

A successful and single Guggenheim art curator Beth (Kristen Bell) is at a point in her life where love seems like a luxury she just can’t afford. Years of waiting for the perfect romance have made Beth bitter. One day, she flies to Rome to attend her younger sister Joan’s (Alexis Dziena) impulsive wedding. She meets Nicholas Beamon (Josh Duhamel), who rescues her in a couple of difficult situations but is just as much of a clumsy clod as she is. They hit it off well and reach a point where both parties take an interest in the other.

Just as Beth convinces herself to believe in love again, she sees Nick kissing another woman, who turns out to be the groom’s (Luca Calvani) ‘crazy cousin’. Slightly drunk, she picks up coins (a poker chip, a rare coin, a penny, a quarter and a Euro) from the “fountain of love” (probably based on the Trevi Fountain). She later learns from Joan that legend says, if you take coins from the fountain, the owner of the coin will fall in love with you. She has to return the coins to the fountain to break the spell, but is tied up at work with an important gala that her demanding boss, Celeste (Anjelica Huston) has pressured her into taking care of.

She is pursued back to New York by a band of aggressive suitors whose coins she took, including a diminutive sausage magnate (Danny DeVito), lanky street magician Lance (Jon Heder), a doting painter (Will Arnett), and a narcissistic male model (Dax Shepard). As she falls in love with Nick, she realizes that the poker chip belongs to Nick and is convinced that Nick is merely under a spell, not truly in love with her.

Joan calls Beth on the day of the gala and informs her that the spell can also be broken by returning the coins to the original owner. Stacey (Kate Micucci), Beth’s secretary–who is highly concerned about Beth’s miserable love life–overhears the conversation and steals the coins, believing that Beth would lead a better life with people loving her, regardless of the spell.

Beth’s suitors all show up together at her apartment and she decides to break it to them that she does not love them and plans to return them the coins. After she blurts out her love for Nick to them, she realizes that Stacey has stolen the coins and goes on a mission to retrieve the coins with her suitors aiding her.

When Beth explains to Stacey that this is not the way she believes love is, Stacey returns the coins and Beth hands back the coins to their owners. Left with the poker chip, she calls Nick and thanks him for making her believe in love again. As Nick makes his way to the gala to search for Beth in a sudden lightning storm that hits New York, Beth is in a situation with Lance who plays with the poker chip by doing disappearing tricks. She accidentally hits the chip out of Lance’s hands and chases it as it rolls down three floors of the spiral gallery.

The chip is picked up by Nick, who appears to be in love with Beth still, convincing Beth that his love was true all along. However, on their wedding day in Rome, Lance reveals to Beth that he had multiple poker chips and the one Beth knocked out on the night of the lightning storm was just one of them, which proves that Nick did not break out of the spell. While exchanging wedding vows, Beth hesitates and dashes out of the building to everyone’s surprise. She revisits the fountain of love where she originally picked up the coins and climbs in like before.

Nick appears and climbs into the fountain. He claims that he didn’t throw a chip into the fountain at all. He drops the poker chip in the water and the priest is heard yelling ‘Free of temptation!’. Nick finally believes Beth and kisses her.

REVIEW:

In all the romantic comedies I’ve seen, the one thing that seems to be a constant is that they seem to forget the comedy. When in Rome does not fall into this category, though. Having said that, this thing is also heavy on the sappiness, so much so that is goes into the chick flick category.

Don’t get me wrong, the sappy love story part of this works and is the major plot point of this film, but seriously, what straight man is going to willingly want to see a film about some chick’s quest for true love, even if she is as hot as Kristen Bell? Not many, I can tell you that, especially when there are so many testosterone driven films out there that are more appealing.

That being said, this isn’t a bad film, and isn’t a typical man bashing rom-com, but instead it makes the guy seem human, which I really liked, and the girl has her own set of issues, such as not being able to find the right guy.

There are quite a few funny moments in this films, most of which involve Josh Duhamel being accident prone or some kind of situation with the 4 guys whose coins Kristen Bell has stolen.

The basic story here is quite good, although, I belive it could have been executed a bit better. There just seemed to be a disconnect somewhere between the magic of the coins and the real world. Yeah, that makes no sense to me, either. In a nutshell, it goes back and forth between being a fantasy film and having roots in the real world, without knowing which works better.

Casting was not a problem. Jon Heder, Danny DeVito, Will Arnett, and Dax Shepard are great as the suitors. Each with their own quirk. Heder probably does the best, in my opinion, especially in the scene where hereunites with Efrem Ramirez (who is playing a Pedro-like character).

Kristen Bell fits this role perfectly. Her girl next door looks and natural talent make it easy to feel connected to her throughout the film, though one has to wonder why she just didn’t get the hint about the poker chip.

Josh Duhamel is a true surprise, as I had no idea he had comedy chops, but he does. Combine this with his natural charisma and it makes for a solid leading man for this film. I really felt sorry for the guy, though. The whole being struck by lightning in the middle of a football game, his accident prone ways, and the way Kristen Bell seemed to be falling for him, only to keep pushing him away, just got to me.

I don’t really know why the critics are so down on it. I swear, I think they’ve forgotten what it is like to watch a film and enjoy it for what it is, rather than critique every little thing and have a default setting of “it sucks”.

This is not a film your typical guy is going to like, unless they have a huge crush on Kristen Bell or are a fan of Josh Duhamel, because there really isn’t anything guys would like in this. Well, there is a scene where Alexis Dziena is wearing nothing but an apron, but you can’t see anything there, so it doesn’t really matter. I liked this film, but I didn’t fall in love with it. It made me laugh and I felt for th characters, which is pretty much all you ask for in a rom-com, but in the end, it was just too sappy for my taste. Still, I would recommend this as a good date flick.

4 out of 5 stars