Archive for Larry Miller

The Princess Diaries

Posted in Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Teenager Mia Thermopolis lives with her artist mother, Helen, and her black and white cat, Fat Louie, in a remodeled San Francisco firehouse. A somewhat awkward and unpopular girl, she is terrified of public speaking and often wishes to be “invisible”. She has a crush on the popular Josh Bryant, but is frequently teased by both him and his cheerleader girlfriend, Lana Thomas. Mia’s only friendships are in the form of the equally unpopular Lilly Moscovitz and Lilly’s brother Michael, who secretly has a crush on Mia.

Just before her 16th birthday, Mia learns her paternal grandmother, Clarisse, is visiting from (the fictional) Genovia, a small European kingdom. When Mia goes to meet her at a large house (later revealed to be the Genovian consulate), Clarisse reveals she is actually Queen Clarisse Renaldi, and that her son, Mia’s late father, was Crown Prince of Genovia. Mia is stunned to learn she is a princess and heir to the Genovian throne. In shock, Mia runs home and angrily confronts her mother, who explains she had planned to tell Mia on her 18th birthday, but that her father’s death has forced the matter. Queen Clarisse visits and explains that if Mia refuses the throne, Genovia will be without a ruler (a subplot involves a scheming baron and his unsightly baroness quietly rooting for Mia’s downfall). Helen persuades a hesitant Mia to attend “princess lessons” with the Queen, telling her she does not have to make her decision until the upcoming Genovian Independence Day ball.

Mia is given a glamorous makeover, the use of a limousine and a bodyguard (the Queen’s head of security, Joe). This and Mia’s frequent absences for the lessons make Lilly suspicious and jealous, so she accuses Mia of trying to be like the popular girls. Mia breaks down and tells Lilly everything, swearing her to secrecy. However, the San Francisco Chronicle learns that Mia is the Genovian Crown Princess after hairdresser Paolo breaks his confidentiality agreement (so his work would be known), causing a press frenzy, and a sudden surge in popularity at school for Mia. In a craven urge for fame, many of her classmates (mostly Lana) bluff that they are friends of the princess to reporters.

At a state dinner, Mia embarrasses herself with her clumsiness, delighting her rivals for the crown. However, all is not lost as the situation amuses a stuffy diplomat, and the Queen tells Mia the next day she found it fun. Deciding it is time the two bonded as grandmother and granddaughter, the Queen allows Mia to take her out in Mia’s late 60s Ford Mustang convertible for the day to the Musée Mécanique, an amusement arcade. The day almost ends terribly when Mia’s car stalls a hill and rams backward into a cable car, but Queen Clarisse saves the day by “appointing” the attending police officer and the tram driver to the Genovian “Order of the Rose” (something she clearly made up on the spot), flattering them into dropping any charges. Mia sees this and is impressed with her grandmother.

Later, Mia is delighted when Josh Bryant invites her to a beach party, but her acceptance hurts Lilly and Michael, with whom she had plans (the former wanting Mia to appear on her self-made cable show, and the latter wanting her to watch his band perform). Things go wrong when the press arrive, tipped off by Lana. Josh uses Mia to get his 15 minutes of fame by publicly kissing her, while Lana tricks her into changing in a tent, pulling it away as the paparazzi arrive, giving them a scandalous shot of her in a towel. She breaks down into tears in her mother’s arms when she gets home. The photos appear on tabloid covers the following day, leaving Queen Clarisse furious at Mia. A humiliated Mia tells her that she is renouncing the throne, feeling she is nowhere near ready to be a true princess. Joe later reminds the Queen that although Mia is a princess, she is still a teenager and her granddaughter.

Back at school, Mia attempts to rescue her friendships with Lilly and Michael by inviting them to the Genovian Independence Day Ball, gets back at Josh for using her by hitting a baseball into his gut during gym class, and finally stands up to Lana when she is cruel to Lilly’s friend Jeremiah, publicly humiliating her by smearing ice cream on her cheerleader outfit and telling her that while she (Mia) might grow out of her proclaimed odd ways, she (Lana) will never stop being a jerk; the teachers do not interfere, knowing Lana deserved it. While Lilly is excited at the prospect of attending a royal ball, Michael, brokenhearted over Mia’s initial feelings for Josh, turns her down. Clarisse apologizes to Mia for being furious at her over the beach incident, and states that she must publicly announce her decision to become princess of Genovia. Mia, terrified at this large responsibility placed upon her, plans to run away. However, when she finds a letter from her late father, his touching words make her change her mind, and she makes her way to the ball. Mia’s car breaks down in the rain, but she is rescued by Joe, who had suspected she was going to run.

When they arrive, a drenched and untidy Mia voices her acceptance of her role as Princess of Genovia. Mia gets dressed up and accompanies Clarisse to the ballroom, where she is formally introduced and invited to dance. Michael, accepting an apologetic gift from Mia (a pizza with M & M candies cleverly topped to say “sorry”), arrives at the ball, and after a quick dance, they adjourn to the courtyard. Mia confesses her feelings to him, stating that even when she was constantly teased and embarrassed at school, he liked her for who she truly was. Mia shares her first kiss with Michael, while Clarisse and Joe are seen holding hands. In the final scene Mia is shown on a private plane with Fat Louie, writing in her diary, explaining she is moving with her mother to Genovia, just as the beautiful royal palace and landscape come into view below.

REVIEW:

I’ve been writing reviews here for nearly 10 yrs and one of the films that I get the most flak for not reviewing is The Princess Diaries. There is no reason for me not reviewing this film before this morning. It just happens to have slipped through the cracks up to this point, but since I was able to watch the whole this for the first time in forever, allow me to share my thoughts on this film.

What is this about?

The life of gawky Mia Thermopolis changes drastically after learning she’s the heir to a European principality’s throne. But as her royal grandmother schools Mia on conducting herself with gracious disdain, she ends up at odds with her best friend.

What did I like?

Introducing Anne Hathaway. Today, she is viewed as one of the most beautiful women in Hollywood, but when this was released in 2001, no one knew who Anne Hathaway was. I must say, for an introductory film, she knocked it out of the park, giving a performance that is not only scene stealing, but hints at the great actress she will turn into in the coming years. On top of that, she has some nice chemistry with Dame Julie Andrews, who is playing her estranged grandmother. More on that shortly.

Real teens. We’ve seen teens portrayed ad nauseam in TV and movies, but I think this is one of the few films where they actually felt like teenagers act (or acted at the time). There is no random kid who seems to have unlimited amounts of money, but still goes to high school. Mia and her friend are social outcasts for the most part and, while they aren’t popular, they aren’t getting pranked, ridiculed, or something more life altering (see Central Intelligence). All in all, with the exception of Mandy Moore’s head cheerleader character, who is in the same vein as her character from Saved! btw, none of the teens we meet are cartoonish caricatures.

Can she be my grandmother? No matter what your age, chances are Julie Andrews had a part in raising you, be it as Mary Poppins, Maria von Trapp, or just her normal, warm-hearted self. Those were characters she made popular in the 60s, though. Fast forward some 40 years and here she is as a grandmother. I can’t help but wish she was mine, though. She is firm but fair, regal, elegant and did I mention she’s Julie freakin’ Andrews?!?

What didn’t I like?

Joe. After Mia first meets the Queen and is told she is a princess, she runs out. The next couple of scenes seem oddly cut, as Queen Clarice asks Joe to keep an eye on her and he introduces himself as “…the head of her security, not a chauffeur and a babysitter[sic].” For a character that plays such an important role throughout the film, his introduction felt…I dunno…underwhelming because of how that was cut. It wouldn’t have been so bad, except that is the only time in the entire film the editing was so choppy.

Papa, can you hear me? I have never read the book this was based on, so my familiarity with these characters hinges strictly on what I see on film. I’m sure more than a few viewers feel the same way. This brings in to question the legend of Mia’s father. Throughout the film, especially around the time Queen Clarice shows up, everyone starts mentioning the accident, but that is all we know. Obviously, giving graphic details about what happened would have brought the film down, but just a little information would have been nice like, I don’t know, what kind of accident that took his life and inadvertently put all this pressure on young Mia’s shoulders

Makeover. One of the big problems people have with makeovers, in movies especially, is that the person being made over is obviously drop-dead gorgeous in the first place. Take She’s All That for example. Rachel Leigh Cook is a total cutie, and even though they stuck a thick pair of glasses on her and shoved the poor girl in some baggy overalls, it didn’t hide the fact that she was a total hottie. This was even mentioned in the film! With Anne Hathaway, they did something very similar, giving her some “Groucho Marx meets Brooke Shields” eyebrows, unkept curly hair, and an all around geeky look. Anne was still developing into the beautiful creature she is today, but she was still extremely gorgeous back then, and it was obvious, despite attempts to hide it.

Final thoughts on The Princess Diaries? Well, first off, this is one of those squeaky clean family films that Garry Marshall excelled in making. The introduction of young Anne Hathaway as the titular princess was actually a pretty good idea. As we’ve seen her career take off from this film. I wonder where the other actresses who were considered/audition for the part are today. There is very little negative that I have to say about this picture. Do I recommend it? Yes, very much so! This needs to be on your list of movies to watch before you die! Check it out, if you haven’t already!

5 out of 5 stars

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Foodfight!

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2013 by Mystery Man

Foodfight!

PLOT:

Foodfight! takes place in the supermarket at night after everyone has left. The grocery store transforms into a city, and from every door of this city comes two types of characters: well-known marketing icons and new characters, including Dex Dogtective (Charlie Sheen), Sunshine Goodness (Hilary Duff) and Daredevil Dan (Wayne Brady). They all hang out at the Copa-Banana in the produce section. Soon, Brand X moves into town, and Lady X (Eva Longoria) and her minions try to take over The animated icons and fictional characters of products — like Mr. Clean and Charlie the Tuna — fight the evil “Brand X”.

REVIEW:

Apparently, there is a new fad that involves brand recognition, or some reasonable facsimile, as this is the second film that revolves around brands that I’ve watched recently. The first being Branded. Foodfight! is a far cry from that so-called movie, but there really isn’t much to brag about here.

What is this about?

Late at night, a regular supermarket turns into a thriving city in this charming animated tale. Dex Dogtective (voiced by Charlie Sheen), Daredevil Dan (voiced by Wayne Brady) and Sunshine Goodness (voiced by Hilary Duff) hang out at the Copa-Banana, the hottest nightclub in the produce section. But when Lady X (voiced by Eva Longoria) and her evil minions try to take over, it looks as if the residents of Marketopolis are headed for a food fight.

What did I like?

Icons. Although we haven’t seen them in what seems like forever, it was great to see some of iconic, um, icons. Mr. Clean, Charlie the Tuna, Twinkie the Kid, Mrs. Butterworth, etc., but the true highlight for me was seeing the California Raisins again. I loved them when I was growing up, and I truly believe they are one of the main reasons I like raisins so much. I do wish they would have played more of a major role in the proceedings.

What didn’t I like?

Animation. I bitch and moan about computer animation like it is no one’s business, but films from Pixar, DreamWorks, and the like all have at least a decent, streamlined look to them. The animation here just seemed a bit more pedestrian than any feature length-film (I believe this went straight-to-DVD, though). I know that this was postponed from 2003 to 2012, but take a look at two animated films that came out around the time, or before, this was released, Toy Story and Shrek, and it really makes no sense that this animation should look like some second-rate educational cartoon.

Adult. There is a problem with the theme/tone of this picture. On the one hand, it seems to be leaning toward being kid-friendly, but then we get an overly sexualized Lady X (who appeared to be channeling Jessica Rabbit). If they wanted this to be more adult-oriented, then they should have gone that route, rather than dumming this down the way they seem to have done.

Character design. I was not a fan of two characters in particular, Daredevil Dan and Sunshine Goodness. With Dan, he appeared to be some sort of squirrel/beaver hybrid with possibly some monkey genes spliced in there for good measure. Perhaps this was done to appeal to the kids, but I wasn’t a fan. As far as Sunshine goes, I didn’t get why she looked like a reject from Thundercats. If they wanted to make her human, then she should have been human. If they wanted to make her a cat, then she should have been a cat. It isn’t rocket science, people! There really was no purpose served by making her some sort of odd mutant creature.

One-liners. Puns and jokes are fine with me, no matter what. However, the constant stream of one-liners that plagues this picture was just too much. One or two would have been fine, but they kept coming and coming and coming!

I was telling someone earlier this evening that it appears Wednesday has become horrible movie night. Foodfight! actually has a story that could have been made into something worthwhile, but instead it was just this cheap amalgamation of factors that don’t work. How this got made is beyond me. I think it is best that you avoid this film at all costs. No, I take that back. Just forget that it even exists. I went through the torture of sitting through it for you…ugh!

2 out 5 of stars

Necessary Roughness

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

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4 out of 5 stars

Alpha and Omega

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 14, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Humphrey (Justin Long) and Kate (Hayden Panettiere) are two wolves from the same pack in Canada’s Jasper National Park but on opposite ends of the social order. Kate, daughter of the main Alpha male Winston (Danny Glover) and his mate Eve (Vicki Lewis), is herself an Alpha and takes her duty to the pack seriously. Humphrey, on the other hand, is an Omega wolf, the lowest of the pack, and spends his days making fun with his other Omega friends. Despite his low rank in the pack, Humphrey falls in love with Kate and is valued in the pack as a peacemaker by virtue of his affable nature.

During her youth, Kate left to begin Alpha school with her father. She returns as a fully trained Alpha but on her first hunt (the Alphas are the ones responsible for providing food for the pack), two members of the Eastern pack cross into Western pack territory due to the lack of caribou in their own land. The hunt is ruined and the packs are nearly at war with each other. The two packs have had a bitter rivalry ever since Tony (Dennis Hopper), the Alpha male of the Eastern pack, commanded his wolves to cross over into Western territory (against pack law) in order to hunt, to prevent their pack from starving. Winston and Tony meet up one night and arrange for Kate to marry Garth (Chris Carmack), Tony’s son. Kate, having a sense of responsibility and duty, wearily agrees for the good of the pack and she meets Garth at the Howling Rock.

Garth too is an Alpha and appears perfect at first in every way, until Kate hears his howl. Kate, taken back by Garth’s terrible howl, leaves the scene to “get water”. Humphrey notices Kate and surprises her. The two talk about Garth, when all of the sudden they get tranquilized by some men and taken away to Idaho. The two wolves wake up at Sawtooth National Recreation Area and meet a French-Canadian goose named Marcel (Larry Miller) who has an avid interest in golf and his caddy, a duck named Paddy (Eric Price).Kate and Humphrey learn that they were relocated to repopulate the species. Marcel and Paddy agree to help the wolves return home to Jasper.

Trouble brews back at Jasper as the two packs discover that Kate has gone missing. Tony warns Winston that on the next full moon if Kate doesn’t return to marry Garth, he and his pack will declare war for their territory. Lilly (Christina Ricci), an Omega wolf who is Kate’s younger sister, has a crush on Garth and suggests that she show him around.

After a failed attempt to get home (in which the wolves hid in the back of a van), Kate finds a ravine and attempts to cross it. She slips down the cliff, but Humphrey saves her. After that the two of them find a den for the night.

The next morning, Marcel and Paddy find the wolves and direct them to a train over a snowy mountain that will take them to Jasper. Climbing the mountain, Humphrey meets a bear cub who is unfamiliar with wolves. When they are playing, the cub gets hurt when a snowball is thrown at him. This angers a trio of bears (most likely the cub’s family) who think that Humphrey was trying to harm the cub. When Kate realizes that Humphrey is in danger, she rushes in to help him, causing them to slide down the other side of the mountain. Humphrey saves Kate, and, as the train passes by, the two wolves manage to get into a boxcar just in time.

Meanwhile Lilly and Garth are bonding. At the midnight howl, Lilly is not deterred by Garth’s less than perfect howl and teaches him to howl with his heart. At the same time, Humphrey and Kate begin to howl together as well on the train. Both couples singing in perfect unison. By this time, the full moon has come and the packs declare war against one another.

Shortly after, as the train passes by Jasper, Humphrey attempts to tell Kate how he feels about her, but the sight of the packs fighting causes her to jump off the train before he can finish. Kate stops the fight by announcing that she will marry Garth for the good of the packs, much to Humphrey and Lilly’s dismay.

The next day, a heartbroken Humphrey decides to leave Jasper and travel on his own and shares his goodbyes with Kate, Marcel and Paddy (who have arrived and decided to stay). Yet Kate feels heartbroken too after realizing how she feels about Humphrey. During the ceremony Kate stops it, declaring her love for Humphrey. Garth declares his own love for Lilly. Winston is confused while Tony is revolted that his son is in love with an Omega, which goes against pack customs. His pack starts to fight the other pack out of anger, but the conflict is cut short when a massive stampede of caribou interrupts the scene. Winston and Tony get caught in the stampede and Kate and Humphrey (who decided to return) rush in to save them. Kate is hit and Humphrey shields her with his body, and Winston and Tony growl at the passing caribou in order to protect Humphrey from getting hit. After the stampede passes, it appears that Kate has been trampled to death. Upon her seemingly apparent death, the wolves of both packs begin to howl in mourning sadness, but she wakes up to the joy and relief of the packs. Now, at long last, Humphrey and Kate reveal their feelings for each other. Winston and Tony then decided to unite the packs.

Later at the Midnight Howl, all the wolves celebrate the marriages of Kate & Humphrey and Garth & Lilly. The film ends with Humphrey and Kate singing a beautiful duet.

REVIEW:

With a title like Alpha and Omega, one would think that this was some sort of religious film, but that is actually not the case. The title refers to the position within a wolfpack.

This actually isn’t a bad film, but it does seem all too familiar. There really isn’t anything we haven’t seen before.

On top of that, why can’t anyone use hand drawn animation anymore? This might have been 10x better if it was done using traditional tactics, but instead, they just had to use computers. Don’t even get me started on the fact that this was released in 3D!!!

As far as the story goes, as I said, it is very formulaic and familair, but that is not to say that it is bad. The relationship between the leads is something to keep your eye on, even if you can alreayd guess what us going to happen. Same goes for the frenemy relationship between the pack leaders.

Voice casting is actually pretty good. In many of my reviews of films like this, I have mentioned how much that some people’s voices just annoy the snot out of me, well Justin Long does not have one of those voices. The timbre of his vocals really works for this character.

Hayden Panettiere wasn’t too bad, either, but I think her character could have been a little more femine or tomboyish, rather than flip floppingon both ends the way they seemed to have her doing.

Final verdict on Alpha and Omega is that it isn’t half bad. However the very things that make it good are the same things that keep it from being great because it never does anything different. I’m not saying this should have been something 100% all new (though that would have been nice), but they could have at least done something to distinguish itself. That being said, I can recommend this, but you’ll probaly forget it not long after the credits roll.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

10 Things I Hate About You

Posted in Classics, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , on December 30, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Cameron James, a new student at Padua High School, is given a tour of the school by Michael Eckman, who is an AV geek and former leader of a clique of future MBAs. Michael provides Cameron with information on the school’s various cliques. During the tour, Cameron spots the beautiful and popular Bianca Stratford and is immediately smitten with her. Michael warns that Bianca is shallow, conceited, and worst of all, not allowed to date. Michael does, however, inform Cameron that Bianca is looking for a French tutor.

At the Stratford residence, Bianca’s outcast older sister Kat receives a letter of acceptance to Sarah Lawrence College. Her protective father, Walter, is distraught by the news, as he wants Kat to attend college nearby. Kat distracts her father by revealing that Bianca was given a ride home from school by Joey Donner. Bianca begs her father to allow her to date, but to no avail. Kat’s aversion to dating prompts the father to come up with a new rule: Bianca can only date if Kat is dating.

Cameron starts tutoring Bianca, and she informs him of her father’s rule after Cameron makes many failed attempts to ask her out. This news motivates Cameron and Michael to set out to find a boy who is willing to date Kat.

Cameron suggests Patrick Verona, an outcast who is just as ill-tempered as Kat. Cameron tries asking Patrick for his assistance, but Patrick scares him off. Michael then poses the idea to Joey, also attempting to date Bianca, to pay Patrick to take Kat out. Patrick agrees, but Kat, however, wants nothing to do with Patrick. Cameron and Michael finally explain their situation to Patrick and inform him that Bogie Lowenstein is throwing a party (this is actually a plot by Michael to get revenge, as a rumor from Bogie had got him kicked out of their clique). Cameron and Michael spread rumors around school that Bogie’s party will have free beer and dancing, although it is actually a small private gathering.

At the party, Kat tells Joey to stay away from her sister. Joey brags that he cannot guarantee she’ll stay away from him. Kat gets upset and begins drinking, leading her to dance drunkenly on a table. Meanwhile, Cameron discovers that Bianca was using him to find a date for Kat so that Bianca could date Joey.

Cameron decides to stop trying to date Bianca, but Patrick convinces him to go for it. Bianca asks Cameron for a ride home after discovering Joey’s true character. Cameron drops her off and tells her that he really likes her and was very disappointed in her. At that point Bianca kisses Cameron. Patrick brings Kat home, and she drunkenly tries kissing Patrick. He suggests they should do that some other time, hurting Kat’s feelings.

The next day at school, Patrick publicly sings “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” (with the school’s marching band providing backing music) to Kat in front of everyone asking her forgiveness, landing him in detention. Kat gets him out of detention by “flashing” the soccer coach. Kat and Patrick spend the day together, and they both realize that they truly do like each other. Patrick, motivated by Joey’s bribe of $300, asks Kat to the prom. However, she is suspicious of his motives and they get into a fight.

Bianca tries to convince her father to let her go to the prom, but he refuses, since Kat isn’t going. Bianca confronts Kat. Kat then reveals that she dated Joey and they had sex, mostly because everyone else was doing it. However, when Kat told Joey that she wasn’t ready for sex and did not want to do it again, he immediately broke up with her. Even though she forbade Joey to tell anyone of their one time together or else she would tell all the cheerleaders how “tiny” he is, Kat still felt immense rejection, thus spurring her to not do anything ever again just because everyone else was doing it and distanced herself from her peers.

Bianca and Kat end up going to the prom with Cameron and Patrick, respectively. Joey is furious to learn that Bianca has gone to prom with Cameron, and confronts Patrick about the “arrangement” in front of Kat. Kat blows up at Patrick and leaves. Joey subsequently confronts Cameron about manipulating the ‘deal’ for himself, but after he punches Cameron, Bianca hits Joey three times herself (once for “making [her] date bleed”, once for her sister, and once for her), leaving him curled up in pain on the floor with a broken nose and a black eye.

The next morning, Bianca thanks Kat for going to prom and the sisters make up. Kat’s father allows her to go to Sarah Lawrence. At school, Kat reads a poem which she wrote for English class, titled “10 Things I Hate About You” (although it contains 14 things she hates about Patrick). While reading the poem, she reveals (in front of the entire class) how hurt she was by what Patrick did and how much she really cares about him (“But mostly I hate the way I don’t hate you. Not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all”). Patrick is shown to be touched by her revelation. In the parking lot, Kat finds a guitar Patrick bought her with the money Joey paid him, and he admits that he messed up their deal by falling for her. Kat forgives Patrick and the two kiss and make up.

REVIEW:

10 Things I Hate About You may very well be remembered as the film that introduced us to Julia Stiles and the late Heath Ledger (although, I think The Patriot brought us the latter). As much of a factor in this film’s legacy that is, the fact that this is actually an enjoyable film full on 90s goodness should be more the selling point.

The film is loosely based on Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. At one point, Ledger even refers to Stiles as “the Shrew”, sort of as a nod to the source material. I’ll admit that I’ve never read the play, like more than a few of you out there, but that doesn’t make this film any less enjoyable.

One of the best things about this picture is that, while it could very well have taken a cop-out, and become this sappy, weepy, chick flick romantic comedy, it decides to keep things light and go for the generic romantic comedy angle that will appeal to men and women, although it is geared more towards females.

Seeing how far Ledger has come from this to his last roles is nothing short of remarkable, but that is not to say that he wasn’t a star back then. As Patrick Vernon, he shines with his mysterious Australian bad-boy charm.

Julia Stiles seems right at home playing the hard-nosed “shrew” , Kat. Many of her roles are like thins and makes me wonder if she’s like this in real life.

Larisa Oleynik and Joseph Gordon-Levitt have some good chemistry that culminates at the end. I would have liked for them to have been on screen more, but this film is obviously more about Kat and Patrick.

One of the most memorable moments of the picture has to be Ledger’s rendition of “I Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You”, complete with marching band accompaniment. I found myself singing along with him. I do have to wonder what kind of freak high school these people went to. That place look like it was about the size of Hogwarts, and where in the world do the soccer team, boys P.E. class, and band all practice on the same field at the same time? Just an observation, not a complaint.

Do I have anything negative to say about this? Well,the minor characters, like Kat’s friend who is a die-hard Shakespeare nut, Bianca’s friend (played by then unknown Gabrielle Union), turns out to be a bitch, and the guidance counselor could have done with a bit more fleshing out if they were going to get the amount of time they did receive, but that’s just me.

Can you belive this picture is 10 years old? Wow! Where does the time go? When this film came out, the girl I was dating at the time, would get all a twitter whenever she would see Heath Ledger, as I’m sure many females (and some males) did. The sad part is, there really is no eye candy going on for the guys. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few pretty faces and whatnot, but they’re not in the lead and/or on-screen long enough. THat tidbit aside, this is a really great film and worth multiple viewings.

5 out of 5 stars

The Nutty Professor

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Lance Perkins (Murphy) is hosting an exercise program on TV for overweight people. Professor Sherman Klump (also Murphy) gets ready for work. Meanwhile, hamsters are overrunning Wellman College and causing general chaos. It turns out that these are the school’s laboratory hamsters that 400-pound Sherman accidentally released the night before. The problem contained, Sherman is given an update by his assistant Jason (Ales) about their latest project – an experimental formula that reconstructs the DNA of an obese person to make weight loss easy. It seems that their fattest hamster, Shelley, has lost 3 ounces, proving that the serum works. Jason suggests increasing the amount Shelley is fed, but the ever-kindly Sherman argues against it, saying it could be dangerous.

He then has an unpleasant meeting with Dean Richmond (Miller). The Dean tells him that the incident with the hamsters has cost the science department most of its funding. Harlan Hartley (Coburn) is the school’s last remaining wealthy alumnus and is planning to award a $10 million grant to the college, and Klump is warned not to alienate him as well.

After class, Sherman meets the lovely Miss Carla Purty (Pinkett), a chemistry grad student teaching a class across the hall who is a big fan of his work, and falls instantly in love with her. Later that night, Sherman dines with his portly family (most of whom are also played by Murphy), and argues with them about obesity. Cletus, his ravenous father, starts his habit of randomly passing gas. Treating this disgraceful procedure religiously, he breaks wind to the point where he has soiled himself (6 times). Sherman is hurt by the comments his father, Cletus, makes, but Sherman’s mother, Anna, tells him that he is “beautiful inside and out”, prompting Sherman to attempt to ask Carla out on a date, which she accepts.

While watching Lance Perkins on TV giving one his speeches of motivation, Sherman falls asleep and dreams he is making out with Carla on a beach but she gets buried into the sand by Sherman’s weight, Sherman awakes to Perkins telling the viewers to get up and tell themselves “Yes I can!”, which Sherman does. Now Sherman is motivated and full of energy and is determined to lose some weight. A Rocky-style montage ensues, showing Sherman trying various methods to get fit before the big date. However, although the date begins well, with Carla showing great admiration for Sherman’s work with Shelley, it turns into a disaster when Sherman falls victim to the evening’s star entertainer, an insult comic called Reggie Warrington (Chappelle), who humiliates him with cruel jokes about his obesity. Back at Carla’s home, with tears in his eyes, Sherman says goodbye to his date.

Later that night, alone and depressed at home, Sherman stuffs himself with junk food while watching Perkins console a fat woman who tells a sad story about how a man asked her out as an excuse to make fun of her obesity. Sherman dozes off in front of the TV set, and has another nightmare in which he becomes the fattest man in the world and lays waste to the city with a single fart which is lit on fire accidentally. When he wakes, he finally yields to the temptation to try his new serum on himself. It seems to work perfectly: in seconds, he loses 250 pounds and becomes slim and fit. However, with his new body, Sherman also develops a split personality as well, the high testosterone levels causing his new personality to be overly confident and assertive, as well as demonstrating a desire to resort to violence on more than one occasion.

The following day, while still slim, he starts to flirt with Carla, who comes to the lab looking for Sherman. Quickly inventing the name “Buddy Love” for his new alter ego- based on a security guard saying “Hey, buddy, what the hell happened here?”, although ‘Love’ is his own contribution-, he invites Carla back to The Scream. However, the serum then begins to wear off, one hand bulking up and his voice returning to normal, and he ushers Carla out. Carla later tells Sherman about Buddy, and Sherman encourages her to go out with him. At The Scream, Buddy turns up very late in a brand new Dodge Viper and persuades an angry Carla (who is about to leave) to go back inside. This time, when Reggie appears, Buddy heckles him mercilessly, fires off a barrage of jokes about his mother’s weight, and finally takes the stage himself as he performed a piece from Minnie Riperton’s 1975 hit Lovin’ You and forced Reggie to do Minnie’s signature high-pitched squeal, then throwing the comedian into a piano.

Buddy returns to Carla, who is delighted with him. He gives a waiter a credit card to pay for the meal. Buddy and Carla then share a kiss. Immediately after, the serum begins to wear off and Buddy makes a quick exit, attributing it to an allergic reaction to Carla’s lipstick (The ‘bulking up’ began with his lower lip). Jason happens to be at the bar and notes the card Buddy is using belongs to Sherman. He follows Buddy into the sports car to confront him, only to learn Sherman’s secret when he discovers him in mid-transformation, culminating in Sherman having to be cut out of the car when he is too big to use the door.

The next morning, Sherman is very late for a class, and his students have all left. The Dean, however, is there, and he confronts Sherman about the sports car, which Buddy bought on Sherman’s faculty account. The Dean threatens to ‘strangle Sherman and cut off his air supply until he passes away’ if he screws up again and asks him to meet Hartley at a hotel restaurant, called The Ritz, to describe the weight-loss serum.

Later, in the lab, Jason tells Sherman that he can’t control Buddy, whose testosterone levels keep rising, using his out-of-character attitude as Buddy as an example. He warns him not to use the serum again and to focus instead on the research for Hartley. Later, Carla talks to Sherman about her date with Buddy, and Sherman takes the opportunity to ask Carla to dinner with his family, who promptly embarrass him by making various suggestive comments about their relationship and Cletus farts again. His confidence low, and after Carla mentions that she would like the opportunity to get to know the caring person she sometimes sees in Buddy’s eyes, he uses the serum again. Jason tries to stop Buddy, soon Sherman tries to communicate to Jason from deep down inside Buddy and instructs Jason to go into the storage closet to get an antidote, but the muscled Don Juan regains control and locks Jason in before departing.

Buddy, who is becoming ever more aggressive, takes Carla out on a second date, this time to the hotel where Sherman was to meet Hartley. The Dean, looking for Sherman, asks Carla if she knows where Sherman is, but Carla asks Buddy if he could take Sherman’s place. With the Dean desperate to get the grant, he allows Buddy to talk to Hartley, Buddy subsequently taking all the credit for the work. Hartley and the Dean are both impressed, the Dean later asking if Buddy would be willing to fill in for Sherman on a more permanent basis.

Buddy then picks up three beautiful women at the hotel, and invites Carla to participate in some “group action”, only for her to dump him. Undaunted, he throws a loud party at Sherman’s house that night, burning all the health food products in Sherman’s fridge. Sherman, having transformed back during the night, wakes in a wrecked apartment surrounded by strange women, with no memory of the night before. When he turns to see what has happened, he is stunned. Waking up in bed with the apartment in shambles around him, however, is the least of his problems.

Carla arrives shortly thereafter to tell Sherman that she’s left Buddy, as well as to apologise about her encouraging Buddy to talk to Hartley. One of the women from the hotel the night before comes out of Sherman’s room asking for Buddy, and Carla thinks. Sherman is as unfaithful as Buddy- to the extent that the two of them actually share women. To add to Sherman’s problems, as he chases after her, he finds an eviction notice taped to his front door by his unseen grouchy downstairs neighbor and landlord, Mr. Wilson, due to all the noise Buddy and the party were making the night before. Jason then enters the scene and tells Sherman that they need to head over to the lab. Trying to collect himself, Sherman tells Jason that it needs to wait until later. However, Jason stresses that there won’t be a later, and a visit to the lab confirms that- Dean Richmond has fired Sherman, replaced him with Buddy, given him Sherman’s ticket to the alumni ball, and in gloating promises to ruin Sherman.

At home, depressed, Sherman accidentally activates the VCR, where Buddy has left a message taunting Sherman and encouraging him to take the serum once again. This inspires Sherman to take his life back, resolved to prove that he can defeat Buddy. He and Jason start destroying all the serum samples, but when he sips a diet drink that Buddy has craftily filled with the serum, he transforms again. Buddy, who has “taken on a life of his own” with a vengeance, tells Jason that he has calculated that, if he drinks 500 mL of the serum, he will have enough cellular stability to be thin forever, thus “killing” Sherman; however, he cannot drink all of that serum at once, as it will (literally) kill Sherman and Buddy with it. Buddy, however, has a plan, to drink 250 mL of the serum while still in the lab and the other 250 at the alumni ball. He then knocks Jason out and heads to the alumni ball to carry out his plan, which will simultaneously prove the validity of Sherman’s research.

Buddy arrives at the ball three hours late and starts acting rowdy to the disgrace of Dean Richmond, who scolds him for not being there on time. Buddy responds by threatening the Dean in the same way he threatened Sherman (by strangling him to death). He then begins to make his way to the stage, where his plan will be put into place.

Back at the lab, Jason regains consciousness just in time to see a warning on the lab computer that Buddy’s testosterone levels are at a lethally high 60,000% and darts out of the lab to head for the ball. There, Buddy begins to demonstrate the effects of the serum to the amazed audience (which includes the Dean, Carla, Hartley, and Sherman’s parents), allowing himself to briefly ‘bulk up’ just enough to demonstrate how one sip of the serum is effective enough to make him then. Then, as he prepares to drink the second dose of serum to stay Buddy Love forever, Jason runs in, and tries to stop him. Buddy punches Jason, but Jason hits back.

As Buddy stands poised to return a blow, Sherman starts to “fight” him for control of his body: fat and thin body parts- beginning with his right fist and subsequently varying around the rest of his body- alternate with increasing speed while Buddy’s voice shouts “You can’t beat me!” and Sherman’s voice replies “Yes I can!”. Eventually, after a violent transformation/confrontation, Sherman wins the struggle. Still on stage, he tells the awed alumni that, while he started out wanting to help people, what he did was selfish and foolish, and that he has learned that the important thing is to accept himself as he is, rather than being unhappy about how much he weighs. He leaves, but Carla stops him and asks why did he lie. He explains that he did not believe that she would accept him and she assures him that it doesn’t matter if he is overweight or not. Carla asks him to dance and he agrees yes, Jason subsequently arriving with a tuxedo that fits. The two subsequently dance for the rest of the night, much to the approval of Jason and Sherman’s family. Harley then tells the Dean that he’s decided to give Sherman the grant because he’s “a brilliant scientist, and a gentleman.”

REVIEW:

In Coming to America, Eddie Murphy showed us that he could turn himself into totally different characters with a little makeup and his natural talents. Characters that we would never know were him if not for the acknowledgement in the end credits.

Murphy takes on the mantle of about 7 characters in this film. A few you can tell are him. Obviously, the main character, Sherman Klump, is Murphy, but so are all the other Klumps, except for the youngest. If you look close enough, you can tell that they are Murphy, but the brother had me fooled into believe was not Murphy. 

This is Eddie Murphy at his best, not to mention the fact that he doesn’t look weird as he does these days. With a mixture of gross out comedy, natural comedic genus, and some heartfelt loser moments, e makes Sherman Klump a tragic hero. Now, the “Mr. Hyde” side of that coin, Buddy Love, is brash, cocky, annoying, basically its everything people said Murphy was in the early days of his career. I have to wonder if he drew on that as part of the character’s development.

Jada Pinkett-Smith plays Sherman (and Buddy)’s love interest, Dr. Carla Purty. Yes, her name is Purty. The name comes from the original The Nutty Professorfilm starring Jerry Lee Lewis. Pinkett-Smith doesn’t quite seem comfortable in this role. I think that may be because most of the parts I’ve seen her in are strong women, and Carla is more of a subdued character. Having said that, aside from the strange tan hair, she has never looked better.

Dave Chappelle makes a brief, but memorable appearance as Reggie Warrington, a comic whose shtick is making fun of people’s flaws. It is he who inadvertently pushes Sherman to create the formula that “releases” Buddy Love. At the time this film was made, Chappelle was still relatively unknown, so no doubt, this role got him noticed.

With all the talk of obesity these days, its good to take a step back and see a film that makes fun of the obsession with being thin. Granted there wasn’t that big of a problem in ’96, and especially not back when Jerry Lee Lewis made the original, but that’s not the point. It’s good to know that a film exists that deals with weight issues from a, pardon the pun, light point of view.

While many were offended by the infamous table scene, that is one of the best parts of the film. Critics are just too stuck on their high horse to enjoy anything. Sometimes its just good to forget everything you know and enjoy something as its made. That is the real fun of films such as this one. I love this film. Its not the best picture in the world, but it accomplishes its goal of making the audience laugh, maintaining their attention, and being entertaining.

4 out of 5 stars