Archive for Kristin Chenoweth

Rio 2

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 1, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Blu and Jewel enjoy life in Rio with their 3 kids, the oldest and music-loving Carla, book smart Bia, and the youngest and mischievous Tiago. Meanwhile, Blu’s former owner, Linda Gunderson and her ornithologist husband, Tulio are on an expedition in the Amazon and eventually discover a quick-flying spix’s macaw that loses one of its feathers. When word gets out about this through television, Jewel believes that they should go to the Amazon to help find the blue macaws. While the kids are ecstatic, Blu is uncertain, but is pressured into going along. Rafael, Nico and Pedro decide to come along. Luiz attempts to follow, but fails. Blu brings a fanny pack full of supplies, one of which he uses mostly is a GPS, much to Jewel’s displeasure.

Meanwhile, the leader of a group that is in a line of illegal logging named Big Boss, discovers Linda and Tulio’s expedition to find the macaws and orders his henchmen to hunt them down to avoid disruptions to their work. Also, Blu and Jewel’s old nemesis, Nigel the cockatoo, has survived the plane crash from the first film, but is now unable to fly and is working as a fortune teller/con artist. When he sees Blu and his family flying overhead of him, he immediately decides to seek revenge on them. He enlists two minions to help him in his plans; a silent anteater named Charlie and a poison dart frog named Gabi, the latter of which is in love with Nigel. Blu and his family use a boat to get to the jungle (with Nigel’s first plan of revenge being inadvertently foiled by Charlie), and when they arrive, they find nothing in sight. However, they are eventually taken to a flock of blue macaws that are hiding in a secret paradise land. There, they meet Jewel’s stern long lost father, Eduardo, his older sister Mimi, and Jewel’s childhood friend, Roberto. Eduardo seems unimpressed with Blu’s domesticated human behavior.

While searching for the macaws, Linda and Tulio are eventually trapped by the loggers. Meanwhile, Blu does his best to fit in with the flock, as his family and friends are doing, although the flock (especially Eduardo) are against humans and all things human. Meanwhile, a disguised Nigel plans to kill Blu at the new Carnival show after landing in an audition hosted by Rafael, Nico, Pedro, and Carla. When Blu tries to pick a Brazilian nut for Jewel, he accidentally tries to get it in the territory of the Spix Macaw’s enemies, the Scarlet macaws, led by the hostile Felipe. Blu inadvertently causes war between the two tribes for food when he accidentally hits Felipe with a twig. The war turns out to be just like football (soccer), and Blu accidentally costs the flock the food when he sends the fruit ball into his own team’s goal.

Blu visits Tulio and Linda’s site, where he discovers that it has been majorly disturbed. After discovering the loggers are destroying the jungle, Blu sends Roberto (who followed Blu) to warn the flock as he saves Linda and Tulio. Blu persuades the macaws to defend their homes, and they easily outmatch the loggers with help from the Scarlet macaws and the other animals. Big Boss tries to blow up the trees as a back-up plan, but Blu steals the lit dynamite. Nigel goes after Blu, and reveals himself as they are falling down when he tugs on the dynamite. After the dynamite goes off, Blu and Nigel engage in a battle while tangled in vines. Gabi and Charlie try to help Nigel by shooting Blu with a dart that has Gabi’s poison on it, but it accidentally hits Nigel, who gives a Shakespearean death speech before seemingly dying. Gabi tries to commit suicide by drinking her own poison and the pair are seemingly dead. However, Bia reveals that Gabi isn’t poisonous at all (she was lied to by her parents that she was). Nigel tries to attack Blu one last time, but Gabi showers Nigel with affection against his will. Meanwhile, Big Boss is eaten alive by a boa constrictor.

With the flock now under Linda and Tulio’s protection, Blu and Jewel decide to live in the Amazon with their kids and friends, though still agreeing to visit Rio in the summer. Meanwhile, Nigel and Gabi are captured by Tulio and are both taken back to Rio, Luiz finally arrives in the Amazon after hitching a ride with Kipo, and Charlie joins the birds’ party.

REVIEW:

I was not the biggest fan of Rio, the first film featuring a rare blue macaw, but apparently more than a few people liked it. How else do you explain the existence of Rio 2? Here’s hoping this is better and not just some cruel April Fool’s joke someone is playing on me.

What is this about?

Blu, Jewel and their three youngsters visit the Amazon, where they find adventure, friends old and new, and even a little danger. The family finds the rain forest in peril, but first they must contend with their old nemesis, Nigel the cockatoo.

What did I like?

Singing frog. Kristin Chenoweth had a recognizable voice, so casting her is really a no-brainer. When casting her, especially in a kids film such as this, it is almost automatic that she’s going to get the chance to belt out at least one number. Considering how we can’t see her vertically challenged cuteness, then we as the audience expect nothing less and I believe the filmmakers knew this, as well. Why else would that little pink frog have a song in a film that really isn’t a musical?

Colors. If there is one thing to be said about this film, it doesn’t skimp on the colors! They are brilliant, vibrant, and plentiful. Even in the darker parts of the film, we are blasted in the face with color, but not in a way to make us wish for less, just enough to keep respectful to the region. I can respect that and wish more films of this, or any, nature would take note and use the color palette as liberally.

What didn’t I like?

Bigger does not always mean better. I don’t care what franchise it is, when it comes time for the sequel, there is more money, which makes filmmaker go bigger. This does not equal better, though. Using the jungle setting of most of the film seemed like a good idea, especially with the 3D, but other than the birds, we really didn’t see any wildlife. This brings into question, why use the jungle at all. Wouldn’t have just been easier to keep everyone in Rio and bring in these new birds? I just didn’t get it.

Length. For a children’s film, I felt this was too long. Sure, the aforementioned bright colors will keep kids’ attention, but what about the adults and/or older siblings that are forced to watch with them? This story is not strong enough to justify the nearly 2 hour run time. A good 30 minutes needed to be cut, methinks.

Enough Eisenberg. I will never be a fan of Jesse Eisenberg. The guy is a no-talent hack who somehow has a career. His voice grates on me, and it is even worse in animated form. The stammering thing he does is not cute. In comparison, Jay Baruchel has a much more annoying voice, but at least he’s doesn’t annoy the living %!#%^@$& when he talks.

Final verdict on Rio 2? Well, it is definitely a sequel. I don’t really have much to say on this other than that. I mean, the first film was forgettable and this one follows suit. Other than some inspired voice casting with the likes of Kristin Chenoweth, Rita Moreno, Bruno Mars, etc., this is just a mess of a film that only got the greenlight because kids can be sold just about anything these days. I do not recommend this!

2 out of 5 stars

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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

Running with Scissors

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Based on the memoir Running with Scissors by Augusten Burroughs, the film is a semi-autobiographical account of Burroughs’ childhood. His mother (Annette Bening), perceiving an ill-fated upbringing, places him under the care of her unorthodox psychiatrist, Dr. Finch (Brian Cox), the eccentric patriarch of an oddball family.

At the age of 12, Burroughs (played by Joseph Cross) finds himself in Victorian squalor living an unconventional youth among the doctor’s family, and is subject to irregular visits by his increasingly unsound mother. At one point, Burroughs befriends Neil Bookman (Joseph Fiennes), Finch’s adopted 33-year-old son, and the two enter an erratic sexual relationship.

The story is of a childhood in which the boundary between reality and fantasy is ignored and finally broken; as, ultimately, is the irreplaceable bond between mother and son.

In an interview regarding the movie, Augusten Burroughs stated that he felt the movie was about one’s quest for family.

REVIEW:

This was one twisted, yet oddly funny film. Not exactly something I normally would jump up and down for, but I have to say it was worth watching tonight.

Apparently, this is based on the memoir of Augusten Burroughs. I’m sure certain changes were made to make this more appealing to movie audiences, because we all know that people who watch movies aren’t the type to find books interesting (note the sarcasm).

When I found out that this was a true story, I was shocked! To think that everything that happened to Augusten in the film actually happened to him is quite appalling. How the guy managed to persevere through all that is amazing.

The acting here is the kid you’d expect Oscar committees to notice, but not good enough to award or nominate. You can tell this was meant to be one of those “artsy-fartsy” flicks, but it ended up going more in the other direction. ‘The highlighted thespian has to be Brian Cox. As Dr. Finch he is both brilliant and insane…mad, if you will.

Jill Clayburgh is also worth mentioning. She is supposed to be the glue that holds the family together, and does so, but is also…how you say…not quite there.

If there were an award for waste of hotness, this would be a major candidate for it. Gabrielle Union and Gwyneth Paltrow both are gorgeous, but they don’t get to use their beauty here. Hell, Paltrow is so “uglified” that it hurts to look at her. To a lesser extent, but along those same lines, Kristin Chenoweth is a waste of hotness, but she does have a light lesbian scene with Annette Bening, so that makes up for it.

There is plenty of drama to be found here, but the film never gets super serious. Inflections of comedy placed in strategic places keep this film light enough so that the audience doesn’t get bored. I know thee are those out there that would prefer the comedy to not be in here, but if you take it out, you get another cookie cutter independent drama.

Running with Scissors isn’t going to be anyone’s top 5 films they saw in their lifetime, more than likely, but it is worth watching. The characters are well-developed (probably because they’re real people), the story moves along at a decent pace, there is an all-star cast, even if most of them get underused, and the comedic scenes may have you cracking up. While not the greatest film in the world, it is above average. You could do much worse than spending a couple of hours watching this film.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Music Man (2003)

Posted in Family, Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Professor Harold Hill, a con artist who makes a living by selling instruments and uniforms to aspiring musicians he fails to teach once they are delivered, sets his sights on the naive citizens of River City, Iowa as his latest targets. With the assistance of former sidekick Marcellus Washburn, who now is living in the rural town, Harold convinces the residents their only hope of saving their sons from the corruption of the local pool hall is to allow him to create a marching band and help them develop their musical talents.

Suspicious of Harold’s claim that he has a musical degree from the “Gary Conservatory of Music,” prim and proper town librarian and piano teacher Marian Paroo begins to investigate his background, much to the dismay of her mother, who hopes by participating in the band, Marian’s younger brother Wintrop will overcome the shyness he suffers as the result of a pronounced lisp. Marian tries to enlist the aid of Mayor Shinn, whose wife Eulalie and her friends always have looked askance at Marian due to her relationship with a man who left the library building to the town but all its contents to Marian. Mayor Shinn appoints four city councilmen to look into Harold’s past, but they fall under his spell when he encourages them to emulate a barbershop quartet and never quite manage to see his alleged credentials. By the time Marian uncovers the truth about Harold, she has fallen in love with the shyster and he in turn – much to his surprise – feels the same way about her.

REVIEW:

When this film first aired on television a few years back, I wasn’t a huge musical fan and had yet to see the original version, so my opinion of it was totally different from the one that I hold today, now that I’ve been a bit more educated.

The Music Man remains one of my favorite musicals…partially because I’m a music person, myself. As I’ve stated in many entries before, I am no fan fo remakes. However, there are always exceptions, and this is one of those cases.

The film doesn’t try to reimagine anything,which is good,  but rather it updates the cast. The script is the same, but that is based more on the fact that it comes from the original musical.

On the negative side of things, there is just something missing from this one that the original is not lacking. Don’t get me wrong, I throughly enjoyed it and all, but that magical feeling you get inside when you watch the 1962 version, just isn’t there with this one. It was kind of like they tried so hard to either not besmirch and insult the original or wanted to make it their own that they fogot to capture the audience. Unfortunately, that is the major downfall.

Musically speaking, the songs are same as the original, with a few little tweaks here and there, that only those with an ear for them will be able to pick up. They did extend a couple of the songs in order to incorporate some elaborate dance sequences. I’m not sure if those were in the stage production, but they just didn’t seem to fit.

The cast is pretty good. Matthew Broderick had the most pressure on him, filling in the shoes of Robert Preston. For the most part, he does a good job, but, like the film, he just doesn’t hit a home run. It’s more like a pop fly. Had I not seen Preston’s performance, though, I may have thought otherwise.

On the other side of the coin, Kristin Chenoweth eclipses Shirley Jones’ Mariann vocally, but Jones has her in the acting dept. Chenoweth comes off a bit too cold for my taste, but I can look past that due to the silhouette that these period clothes showed of her.

I’ve always thought of Victor Garber as one of those distinguished type of actors, so seeing him as the scatterbrained mayor, just didn’t quite work for me.

Molly Shannon seemed a bit wasted as Mrs. Shinn. Not that she did a bad job ir is a bad actress, but for the small amount of time she’s on screen they could have pulled someone off the street and pretty much gotten the same results…and for a lot less money.

As much as I like this film, I don’t love it, mostly due to my affection for the original. Many people who have seen both will agree, which is unfortunate, because this really is a great film, it just pales in comparison (and will always be compared to) the original. My recommendation is to watch them both, but make sure you put some space in between them, so that you’re not comparing one to the other, then make your own opinion, For me, this is worth watching, but if you’re looking to add one to your collection, go with the original.

4 out of 5 stars

Movies that should be made

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2008 by Mystery Man

A while back I posted a blog entitled “Movies that should not be made” in which I vented my frustrations about movies thatshould never have been made. Some feedback I’ve received from that particular post have been inquiries into what movies do I think should be made. This got me to thinking, if I could make films, what would I want to see?

Well, I’ll tell you. Keep in mind, this is MY opinion and by no means are any of these in production, unless otherwise noted.

Let’s start with Disney and Pixar. shall we. Toy Story 3 and Cars 2 are currently set to be released in 2010 or so. I don’t have any real issue with either, but The Incredibles set itself up for a sequel, yet there are no plans for one, last I checked. The excuse is that the video game is the sequel. WTF?!? Even Lilo & Stitch got a sequel (or 2) plus a cartoon on Disney channel (in the pre-Miley Cyrus days). Would it kill them to make an “Incredible” Incredibles sequel? Maybe even with the return of Syndrome and Mirage reveals she has some kind of superpower.

Disney is supposedly returning to their roots with the release of The Princess and the Frog(or whatever name it’s going by this week). Hopefully this will not be a one time thing, and they will remember what it was that made them what they are. Believe it or not, there are plenty of fairy tales and stories that haven’t been used yet. The Emperor’s New Clothes would be a good choice. Believe it or not, The Emperor’s New Groove is not based on that story. Don’t quote me, but I think that was an original story.

There have been quite a few biopics, especially in the last few years with such movies as Ray, Ali, Walk Hard, Invincible, etc. Up until January or so, there was supposed to be a movie based on the life of trumpet legend Chet Baker starring Josh Hartnett entitled The Prince of Cool. Unfortunately, something happened with the script and this was shelved. You can guess where I’m going with this, right? Isn’t it time Louis Armstrong had his own movie? Not sure who I would cast in the role or anything, but this severely overdue, but I’m sure it has something to do with the estate not wanting to give up the rights or some other legal mumbo jumbo.

Sports movies tend to do pretty well. Some better than others. NFL fans will no doubt remember last year when the New England Patriots nearly went through the entire season undefeated, until they ran in to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. That in itself would have been a fairly decent movie, but the Pats had “Spygate” hanging over their head last season. I can totally see someone taking that drama and intrigue and make a pretty good movie.

Barack Obama just got elected as the first black/African-American president of the United States. Granted, he hasn’t taken office yet, but presidential movies seem to do well (excluding W). Of course, it would probably be more interesting to make this after he’s taken office and has been there for 4 (or maybe eight) years, but just his meteoric rise would be pretty good, too.

It seems that after last year’s successful Transformers film, that any and all cartoons from the 80s are all of a sudden fair game for the big screen. Last I heard, G.I. Joe, The Smurfs, andThundercats are all on tap to be released in the next couple of years. He-Man has been green lit, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will get made. I would say it should be, but it better be infinitely superior to that Masters of the Universe monstrosity that was released in the late 80s, and it wouldn’t hurt them to have She Ra in there, possibly even lead to a spin off film for her. Also, M.A.S.K.would be pretty cool (look it up if you’ve never heard of it). I’m sure that some of you out there, especially female readers will probably say Jem should have one. I’m not going to argue with you on that one, but Jem is so totally 80s, to release a movie about her in this day and age you would either have to make her vintage 80s, or update her. Vintage sounds better to me, at least she won’t be manufactured like many singers are these days.

TV shows seem to be hit or miss when it comes to bringing them to the big screen. Get Smartwas awesome and raked in the big bucks, but barely resembles the original show. The same formula can be said about Starsky & Hutch. The movie was a comedy, whereas the original show was a cop drama. I love I Love Lucy, but I’ve heard rumblings about a big screen version. How in the bloody hell are they going to pull that off? You can’t have I Love Lucy without Lucy! On top of that, Jessica Alba is rumored to star in the I Dream of Jeannie big screen adaptation. Not sure what I think about that. If I had to take something from the small screen and put it on the big screen, why not Mork & Mindy?Robin Williams may or may not be too old to be Mork these days, depending on what direction is taken with the film, and the actress that played Mindy has disappeared into obscurity, but I believe this could be pretty good, if its done right.

Superhero movies are the big thing right now. Marvel Comics has the upperhand with movies given to Blade, X-Men, Spider Man, Ghost Rider, Fantastic Four, Hulk,  The Punisher, Daredevil, Elektra, Iron Man and upcoming films for Wolverine, Captain America, Thor, The Avengers, Magneto, and S.H.I.E.L.D.  DC comics seems to be determined to depress folks these days with their slate of superhero films, Superman, Batman, and the as yet unreleased Watchmen. Also on tap for them is a Justice League of America film. Oh, and Hellboy, Spawn, Men in Black and V for Vendetta are also comic book movies by various companies.

All this leads me to my final movies that need to be made. In the late 80s-early 90s The Flash had a TV show that was pretty good, but since then he has been relegated to comic relief. Nothing wrong with that when he’s with a group, but as a character, he deserves so much more, like maybe his own movie! In the 70s, Linda Carter was Wonder Woman on TV. Since then she hasn’t been seen on any type of screen other than in animated series form…oh and the occasional Halloween costume (see Emily Deschanel in costume on Bones).

I swear every actress in Hollywood has been rumored to be Wonder Woman, including Beyonce (WTF?!?). Personally, if I was casting for WW, my top 3 would be Lucy Lawless, Jessica Biel, and the Chyna (back in the day before she had all the plastic surgery). Apparently, some actress named Megan Gale is rumored to play her in a Justice League movie. Don’t ask me who she is, I have no idea. I just know, there have been like a gazillion Batman and Supeman movies, yet Wonder Woman and the Flash have been relegated to their TV history.

On the Marvel side, not sure who is left that could make a good movie that isn’t alresdy in production other than She-Hulk. Since Edward Norton is being difficult about making a sequel to The Incredible Hulk, why not give Hulk’s cousin, She-Hulk a movie. I’m sure they can put the whole blood transfusion in there to explain her origin, maybe eve in flashback form if Norton wants to be all difficult. Not sure who I’d cast in the title role, though. Don’t necessarily need someone all muscular, since She-Hulk is actually normal sized…well, maybe a bit taller and muscular, but nothing like The Hulk.

Musicals seem to be making a comeback these days, what with the success of Hairspray, High School Musical 1,2, & 3, Sweeney Todd, etc. Wicked  has been announced, but that’s about it. I’d love to see that get made, especially if they use Kristen Chenoweth and Idina Menzel in their respective roles. Since that is already in the works, though, I would love to see Avenue Q or George Gershwin’s Crazy for You. Of course, I’m not so sure how the latter would work with today’s audiences.

On top of these, there are a few other ideas that may or may not make good movies…these seem destined for tV movies or direct to DVD, though:

Napoleon Dynamite prequel: what happened to his parents?

Beetlejuice prequel:  how did he die and why do you have to say his name 3 times?

Pulp Fiction: The mystery of the suitcase, and what exactly did Vincent and Jules have to do to get it

I’m sure I’ll think of like a million more as soon as I post this, but this is just a sample of what I think would be good to be made. I know you all have your own ideas of what should be made. So, share your thoughts. What do you think of mine? What do you have in mind?

Bewitched

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 24, 2008 by Mystery Man

 

PLOT:

The film is not an adaptation of the television series, but more of an homage. It is about a witch named Isabel Bigelow (Nicole Kidman) who wants to give up magic and have a normal life, despite her magic-loving father’s (Michael Caine) warnings that she cannot live without it. She meets a failing movie star named Jack Wyatt (Ferrell) who wants to find an unknown actress to play a witch — and his wife — in a TV show, a modern adaptation of the classic TV show Bewitched, a ploy whereby the egocentric actor can eclipse his co-star and claim the spotlight entirely. Part of this is perpetrated by his agent (Jason Schwartzman), who is just as obnoxious as Jack.

When she becomes more popular than he is and unintentionally takes the spotlight away, the pompous, self-centered Jack decides to downplay her role and make the show focus on Darrin (thus garnering the audience’s attention). Isabel becomes angry when she finds out (since he told her during her auditions that he “needed her”) and furiously tells him that he is a jerk. The harsh words, strangely enough, appeal to Jack who never had anyone speak their mind to him before, especially his ex-wife (who he claimed preferred to just lock him out of the house). He begins to give her bigger roles and the two begin to fall in love. Isabel feels guilty for hiding her powers from Jack however, and shows him her powers. He becomes upset that she might be using magic to manipulate his emotions and make him pregnant and leaves her. Devastated, Isabel decides to return home, where Jack is told by Uncle Arthur (Steve Carell) she must stay for 100 years once she returns. Jack realizes that he loves Isabel for real after all and tries to find her before she returns home. To his surprise, he finds her at the studio, which she considers her “home”. Jack proposes to her and she accepts. Before she accepts, it is revealed that she did not have to remain at her home for 100 years before she could, once again, return.

Meanwhile the “spirits” of the old Bewitched television show work their own magic on Isabel and Jack by ensuring that the couple ends up in a happy union of witch to mortal like on the original series. The home in which Isabel and Jack finally settle in together is numbered “1164” as a nod to the house from the original TV series (at 1164 Morning Glory Circle); their new neighbors are also a nod to their TV counterparts.

REVIEW:

I’ve only seen a handful of episodes of Bewitched, but from what I can tell, this movie pays them a great tribute. Instead of tyring to remake or reboot the series like so many directors seem to want to do, they paid homage to it, while creating an independent story.

The first time I saw this, I didn’t care for it too much. However, after watching some episodes of the series a couple weeks ago, I’ve gained a new found understanding and appreciation for some of the references and like this movie alot more.

There’s not much I don’t like about the film. I would have liked to have seen a scene where Endora reveals that she’s a witch. That’s just a personal suggestion, though.

The movie moves along at a pretty rapid pace, and is pretty funny. I have to give kudos to Steve Carrell for his portrayal of Uncle Arthur, who was portrayed by the late Paul Lynde. If I wasn’t looking at the screen, I would have thought it was Lynde himself.

This is one of those movies that is rare nowadays. You can actually have fun watching this! *GASP* Unheard of in this day and age, huh?

4 1/2 out of 5 stars