Archive for maggie smith

Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 24, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

In the sequel to the hit comedy Sister Act, Whoopie Goldberg reprises her role of Deloris Van Cartier, a Las Vegas entertainer who hid out with in a convent of nuns to avoid a nasty bunch of gangsters. In Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, Deloris is persuaded to return to the convent by the Mother Superior (Maggie Smith), because her help is needed in teaching their choral students at St. Francis High in San Francisco. However, St. Francis is in a crisis, since the administrator running the school (James Coburn) is threatening to shut the place down. If the gospel choir wins first place in a singing contest in Los Angeles, St. Francis will be saved from the priest’s plans.

What people are saying:

“While the kids may sing a storm when at last they get down to mixing Beethoven, gospel and rap, in the good clean fun department this is monumentally weak and derivative.” 2 stars

“One must remember this is sequel and will probably not be as good as the first movie. Personally I really don’t like sequels all that much but see them anyway. Most of time they have the same plot as the first one. If the first film made a lot of money, It will continue on the same theme without being that good because they don’t have be to make money. So one should keep that in mind when viewing this movie. It’s okay but with no suprises. Whoopi Goldberg usually does well in comedies and will probably to continue with this type of role. In this movie she helps school children with their music abilities they don’t seem to know that they have until she as a nun comes along. A good movie but certainly not a great one. See the movie and form your own opinions. ” 3 stars

“I love this movie — Lauryn Hill singing, Maggie Smith vs. James Coburn, just wonderful music. I don’t know why it got such a low rating…I’ve gotta watch it every year at least. It’s such fun! Look at the discrepancy between the audience reviews and the critics — critics can’t always tell you what’s going to life your heart. She even quotes my favorite poet/philosopher Rilke. I’m a songwriter with major label credits and I just love the music — Lauryn Hill singing His Eye Is on the Sparrow slays me…and the final competition number is absolute joy. Glee fans should enjoy it too!” 5 stars

“Unfortunately, the sequel took a very cliche attempt of “reaching the children’s hearts” and tried for a more heartwarming feel good kind of film while the plot seemed to kill whoopi’s skills in comedy, since her comedy from the first film would have been somewhat inappropriate for this film. However what wasn’t filtered of Whoopi’s humour is worth at least knew watch even though it’s more or less a film that has you saying “I’d rather watch the good one”. Whoopi at least saves ut to be a half decent movie even though the script seems fairly unbelievable and predictable.” 2 1/2 stars

“It’s heart is definitely in the right place, but only the Good Lord Above knows where the hell its brain is. Goldberg throws her nun disguise back on for absolutely no reason, other than to lead an aged plot concerning a class of unruly kids learning to respect one another, and themselves. It turns out to be nice enough, and the music is as awesome as ever. But while the first one was loveably daft, this one’s just numbingly stupid.” 2 stars

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Sister Act

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 8, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Nightclub singer Deloris Van Cartier witnesses a mob hit and hides out in a convent, where she’s disguised (and tries to fit in) as a nun. She finds her calling when she introduces the sisters to doo-wop and turns the choir into fundraising stars.

What people are saying:

“If you like Whoopi, you should see this movie; if you like musicals, you should see this movie; if you like light-hearted comedies that make you feel a little bit gushy, that you know will have a happy ending, but you love it anyway, you should definetely see this movie! I loved this movie, for all of the reasons listed above, and after the first time I watched it, I went back and rewatched all of the singing scences. Whoopi is great and I think she fit the role just right. The second one I also love, because its the teen generation singing versus a bunch of nuns. But then again, the bunch of nuns singing was really good too. For kids I would probably suggest the second movie, but I can’t decide my favorite. See them both, enjoy yourself, and decide your own favorite.” 5 stars

“Light and fluffy as it is, Sister Act still has plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and some warm fuzzies as well as some believable action, and that makes it a 7 out of 10 in my book.” 3 stars

“A great 90s “feelgood family film” where a conspicuous lover of a Reno mobster has to go in hiding inside a convent, where after a rough start and short adaptation period she transforms the choir into a local success!”  4 1/2 stars

“Though it is meant as a bit of light-hearted entertainment, it fails at it being appealing and an apparent satire by becoming unfunny, uninspired, and nowhere near as controversial as it thinks it is.” 2 1/2 stars

Sister Act has a great cast and a sizzling soundtrack, and a hilarious script with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and a rather ridiculous premise that somehow works. Goldberg’s soulful and well-acted performance is a highlight, but possibly the greatest character of comedy pictures during the 90’s, Kathy Najimy’s hilarious and stirring performance as Sister Mary Patrick, a rousing and successful bumbling sidekick who stumbles along with pride, is the greatest achievement of the film’s entirety. A great film.

Quartet

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on September 7, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The plot takes place in Beecham House, a retirement home for gifted musicians, patterned after the real-life Casa di Riposo per Musicisti founded by Giuseppe Verdi.

Reg, Wilf and Cissy are retired former opera singers who often worked together in the past; among other guests in the house are Cedric Livingstone, a former director, and Diva Anne Langley. All the guests in the retirement home continue to be engaged in their former profession in one way or the other, which gives place to lots of amusing times in the home, but also some rivalries amongst the musicians.

Finances threaten closure of the home but proceeds from a yearly gala concert on Verdi’s birthday hold hope for a continuation of the place. However Cedric has been rather desperate due to the fact that some of the most prominent singers have either died or decided not to participate at all. Amongst the former collaborations between Reg, Wilf and Cissy, there is a particularly popular recording of Rigoletto, which is very prominent amongst opera buffs as THE Rigoletto of the after-war era.

Most of the guests in the home also teach young visitors in their different fields, by giving violin, piano or clarinet lessons, in Reg’s case it is lessons about opera. At the suggestion of Wilf, Reg compares opera to rap music, in order to make it more accessible to his students to amazing results, since whereas in opera the performers sing about their impending death, rappers talk about it in rhyme.

News buzzes around that a new guest will be arriving that very day. The new guest turns out to be none other than Jean Horton, the missing soprano of the Rigoletto recording and Reg’s former wife, who ended their relationship on very sour terms. Reg is furious at the arrival of Jean, because he had specifically requested that all new guests should be sanctioned by him, particularly Jean, whom he would have never admitted into the home.

Jean tries at first unfruitfully to mend things with Reg and in the ensuing conversations her infidelity arises as well as her past marriages but Reg comes to understand that all that is past. In the meantime, Wilf and Cissy convince Cedric that reuniting the Rigoletto quartet for the Verdi Gala shall bring all the necessary income to save the home. Enchanted with the idea they convince Reg first to yield his objections to perform with Jean again, however she is a different case, she has given up singing a long time ago and has decided never to utter a note again, because her career ended in rather uneasy terms because of the critiques.

Cissy takes the CD of their old recording to Jean to hear and inspire her to sing again, but Jean becomes violent and attacks Cissy, which only aggravates her already delicate senile condition. After recovery, Jean apologises and is finally convinced to sing in the quartet from Rigoletto, “Bella figlia dell’amore”, after learning that Anne Langley shall be singing “Vissi d’arte” from Tosca, to which she answers “over my dead body”. The group prepares for their performance and moments before their curtain call, Cissy is about to walk out the door, saying that she has to go back to her family (who are all already dead), but Jean manages to salvage the situation. During her conversation with Cissy, Jean comes to regret all the misdeeds she did to Reg and admits that she is still in love with him, which is overheard by Reg.

Just as the recital is about to start, the director of the home is amazed at the energy displayed by the guests of the home, for whom the idea to rehearse and play before an audience, brings life back to them, leading her to the conclusion that old age and art go together. As they are about to enter the stage, Reg asks Jean to marry him again.

REVIEW:

Man, when I get old and senile and need to be put into a retirement home, please let it be like the one in Quartet, instead of the ones we see and hear horror stories about. Hmmm…I wonder why no one has made a horror movies based on a retirement home, yet? Anyway, let me warn you now, if you’re not a fan of opera, or at least can stand it, you’d probably be best avoiding this film.

What is this about? A trio of retired opera singers’ annual celebration of Verdi’s birthday sours when their estranged fourth member shows up but refuses to sing. Tensions rise and diva drama erupts — will personal problems prevent the show from going on?

What did I like?

Dirty old man. Let me guess, you were expecting to see a bunch of old fogeys sitting around playing canasta and listening to some ancient radio playing a USO show from when they were young, right? Well, that isn’t the case…sort of. There are some sitting around listening to the radio, but remember this is apparently a retirement home for musicians, so they’re listening to themselves or practicing. Still, all that could end up being rather boring. Enter Billy Connolly as a dirty old man. His character brings in some much-needed comic relief and brightens up what could very well be a rather dull film. Is it wrong that every time I see this guy, I get him confused with John Cleese, even though they don’t really look alike?

Friendship. Even after years apart, it warmed my heart to see these performers reunite and rekindle their friendships, even after some time and harsh words. Good friends are hard to find, especially the kind that would be willing to still perform with you some 30 or so years later. I wonder if anyone I’ve played will want to do a gig in about 30 yrs.

Discussion. Fairly early on, there is a discussion about opera and rap. Now, as we all know, no one listens to opera, anymore. That is also touched on. Apparently, the rich people got their hands on it and made it into something it isn’t, which is something that I never studied in my music history classes, but will look into at some future point. As far as the rap and opera discussion, it is best left to be seen. Let’s just say it makes total sense and no way in a million years would anyone have though to compare the two, and yet this film does so. I’m sure there’s a clip on Youtube somewhere.

What didn’t I like?

Hybrid. I love Maggie Smith. I think she is a great talent, but I felt she could have done something more with this character, rather than just have been an amalgamation of her roles on Downton Abbey and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, just without the blatant racist overtones. I’m not saying this was a bad character, but there comes a point where and actor starts to be typecast based on the roles they play, and it looks like Maggie Smith is nearing that time, but hey, at least we got to hear Professor McGonagall say “fuck”!

Senile. I commend this film for not going overboard with any kind of age-related “humor”, however, I think they held it back just a wee bit more than they should have. I could totally have seen Billy Connolly’s character having a field day with insults, jabs, and other lewd comments regarding the age and condition of some of is fellow housemates. I felt gipped that we didn’t get that, though.

Music. The final scene has the big build up and the audience is expecting an epic operatic quartet to be sung. It is the title, after all. We don’t get that, though. The credits start rolling first. Before you go crazy about that, remember that none of these leads are singers. Would you really want them to sing butcher this music? I know that I wouldn’t. If they weren’t going to have them sing, they should have come up with something more than just going to the credits.

On the surface, Quartet, a film about aging opera singers in a retirement home, would be a run-of-the mill boring drama. Instead, it turns out to be a fairly light-hearted dramedy that is quite the cute little picture. As I stated in the opening, if you’re not an opera fan, you’re probably not going to fully appreciate this, but I still highly recommend it, so check it out!

4 out of 5 stars

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Recently widowed housewife Evelyn (Dench) must sell her home to cover huge debts left by her late husband. Graham (Wilkinson), a high-court judge who had spent his first eighteen years in India, abruptly decides to retire and return there. Jean (Wilton) and Douglas (Nighy) seek a retirement they can afford, having lost most of their savings through investing in their daughter’s internet business. Muriel (Smith), a retired housekeeper prejudiced against Indians, needs a hip replacement operation which can be done far more quickly and inexpensively in India. Madge (Celia Imrie) is hunting for another husband, and Norman (Pickup), an aging lothario, is trying to re-capture his youth. They each decide on a retirement hotel in India, based on pictures on its website.

When the group finally arrives at the picturesque hotel, despite its energetic young manager Sonny (Patel), the hotel is very dilapidated. Jean remains ensconced in the hotel, while her husband Douglas explores the sights. Graham, finding that the area has greatly changed since his youth, disappears on long outings every day. Muriel, despite her racist attitudes, starts to appreciate her doctor for his skill and the hotel maid for her good service. Evelyn gets a job advising the staff of a call centre how to interact with older British customers. Sonny struggles to raise funds to renovate the hotel and sees girlfriend, Sunaina (Tena Desae), despite his mother’s disapproval. Madge joins the Viceroy Club seeking a spouse, and is surprised to find Norman there. She introduces him to Carol (Diana Hardcastle). He admits he is lonely and seeking a companion, and the two begin a relationship.

Graham confides in Evelyn that he is trying to find the Indian lover he was forced to abandon as a youth. Social-climber Jean is attracted to Graham, and makes a rare excursion to follow him, but is humiliated when he explains he is gay. Graham reunites with his former lover, who is in an arranged marriage of mutual trust and respect. Graham dies of a heart condition. Evelyn and Douglas grow increasingly close. Douglas finally admits he is tired of defending his wife’s negative attitude, revealing just how unhappy their marriage has become. Muriel reveals that she was once housekeeper to a family who tricked her into training her younger replacement and now she feels that she has lost purpose in her life.

Sonny’s more successful brothers each own a third of the hotel, and plan to demolish it. His mother (Lillete Dubey) agrees and wants him to return to Delhi for an arranged marriage. Jean and Douglas prepare to return to England. Douglas returns to the hotel to say goodbye to Evelyn, but Muriel tells Douglas that Evelyn is not there. Now that the hotel is closing, Madge prepares to return to England and Norman agrees to move in with Carol. Madge, after encouragement from Carol and Muriel, decides to keep searching for another husband.

On their way to the airport, a rickshaw driver tells Jean and Douglas that he can only take one of them. Jean decides to leave Douglas behind. He follows his wife to the airport, misses the plane and spends the rest of the night wandering the streets. Sonny finally tells Sunaina that he loves her and confronts his mother, who finally gives the couple her blessing. Before the guests can leave, Muriel reveals that the hotel can make a profit and that Sonny’s investor has agreed to fund his plans as long as Muriel stays on as assistant manager. All the guests agree to stay. Douglas arrives just as Evelyn is leaving for work, and says he’ll have tea waiting for her when she gets back.

A closing montage shows Muriel checking in customers as assistant manager, Madge dining with a handsome older Indian man, Norman and Carol living happily together, and Sonny and Sunaina riding a motorbike, passing Douglas and Evelyn on a scooter

REVIEW:

Like many of you, I have heard the horror stories about what happens in retirement homes and how residents are all but reduced to infants because of the way they are treated. This is where The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel comes in, as these elderly citizens don’t want to go to a place like that, but rather live out their lives in a place they can enjoy, such as scenic India, for instance.

What is this about?

To make the most of their meager retirement savings, a group of British seniors moves to India to live out their golden years at the Marigold Hotel. But upon arrival, they discover the once-lavish resort has wilted considerably.

What did I like?

You’re only as young as you feel. Many people worry about getting old and losing touch with their humanity, blah, blah, blah. This film actually takes people who are of an age we seem to forget and treats them as if they weren’t second class citizens, but rather real people with real problems, and that is what makes this film so endearing to the audience.

Cast. Everyone…well, most everyone, is recognizable to audiences as great actors from across the pond. Someone said these were all the leftovers from the Harry Potter films, just need Michael Gambon and Alan Rickman to make an appearance. Rumor has it that there will be a sequel, so maybe they’ll show up.

McGonnagall. Maggie Smith’s character was one of the best things about this film, what with her old-fashioned, but not really offensive, racism, and hard-nosed focus, not to mention the one-liners she pops out now and then. Recently, I’ve begun watching Downton Abbey and in the episode I’ve seen with her in it, the two characters are very similar. I may change my mind, though, after I watch a few more episodes.

What didn’t I like?

Big or small. It seems as if the film knows the star power of its cast and gives them relative screen time. For instance, it can be argued that Dame Judi Dench is the biggest star in the film, and she gets the biggest amount of screen time followed by Bill Nighy and Maggie Smith. I get the idea behind that, but some of the more interesting stories were only touched upon, such as the two who are looking for love and the guy who is coming back to where he spent his childhood. These are stories that we probably should have gotten more of, in my opinion.

Mummyjii. What is the deal with Indian guys and their mothers? This is like the 4th or 5th time I’ve seen something like this in the past few months. Is this something culture related? If not, than it is just not a good plot device, as it does nothing but make the men look weak-willed. No wonder these same guys can’t keep their women!

Hotel. I was going to mention how rundown the hotel is, but there are some hotels here in the US that aren’t in that great of shape. However, I have to wonder about the phones. Was this just a device they threw in for comic effect, or was this place in such disrepair that the phones really didn’t work? How can you run a successful hotel without working phones? Sure, these days everyone uses cell phones, as opposed to landlines, but you still need at least one landline, just in case, and with tenants of the previous generation, landlines are more common and comfortable to them than a cell.

When all the smoke clears, I found The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel to be a heart-warming, charming, dramedy. I did find it to be a tad bit longer than it needed to be, but that isn’t something I couldn’t get over, what with the great performances that the cast turns in. I’m not going to highly recommend it, but it is worth watching, so give it a shot sometime.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Hook

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 6, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Peter Banning (Robin Williams) is a mild-mannered corporate attorney whose relationship with his family, especially his two young children Jack (Charlie Korsmo) and Maggie (Amber Scott), is strained by continuous absences and broken promises. His wife, Moira, (Caroline Goodall) struggles to keep them together and grows frustrated at Peter for his callous behavior. The family flies to London to visit Moira’s grandmother, Wendy Darling (Maggie Smith), who helped Peter find a family when he was a young orphan.

Upon arrival, they meet Tootles (Arthur Malet), Wendy’s first orphan, now an elderly gentleman who has “lost his marbles”. Peter, Moira, and Wendy attend a ceremony for the expansion of Wendy’s orphanage. While they are out, the children are abducted and a note is left for Peter by a James Hook. Wendy attempts to explain to Peter that he is in fact Peter Pan, who left Neverland years ago after falling in love with Moira, and that his old nemesis, Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman), has returned and taken his children for revenge, but he denies it and attempts to drink the idea away in his bed.

Tinker Bell (Julia Roberts) appears before Peter that night and knocks him unconscious and flies him to a pirate port in Neverland. There, he awakens in disbelief, and is discovered by Hook and his second in command Smee (Bob Hoskins), who threaten to harm the children unless he accepts Hook’s challenge to a duel. However, Peter’s failure to reach expectations disheartens Hook, who commands the crew to kill them all. Tinker Bell intervenes and is granted three days in which to prepare Peter for a proper duel. Peter is accidentally knocked overboard and eventually finds his way to the Lost Boys’ hideout, now led by Peter’s successor, Rufio (Dante Basco). The Lost Boys at first dismiss him as an old man who has no hope of regaining his former glory, but through their rigorous training and his own sparks of inspiration he begins to relearn the magic of Neverland.

Meanwhile, Hook gets an idea from Smee to persuade Peter’s children to love him more than Peter, so Hook devises a ploy for Maggie and Jack called “Why Parents Hate Their Children”. Maggie does not fall for the ploy, but Jack does when Hook uses Jack’s frustration over his father’s continuous broken promises to steal his affection. Peter is heartbroken when he sees Hook treating Jack like a son, and becomes determined to win his family back. Stumbling upon his childhood home in a tree (destroyed by Hook), he finally remembers his past, learning how to fly by recalling his “happy thought”: being a father. Peter regains the leadership of the Lost Boys and they challenge Hook and his pirates in an all-out battle. Peter tries to get Jack back from Hook, but Jack refuses as he now has come to look upon Hook as a father. However, Peter soon regains Jack’s love when the latter realizes what Hook is really like, after Rufio is killed by Hook in a duel. Peter then saves Maggie from Hook’s pirates. Peter and Hook engage in a climactic sword fight, and Hook is apparently killed when the Crocodile, which Hook has built into a massive clock tower, falls on him. Jack and Maggie return home as Peter designates the largest member of the Lost Boys, Thud Butt (Raushan Hammond), the only other lost boy besides Rufio whom Peter grew a connection to, as the new leader of the Lost Boys, and tells them to take care of everybody smaller than them, adding “Thank you for believing,” as he leaves Neverland.

Returning home, Peter finally realizes the love he has for his family and the importance of having a youthful heart. Tootles is dismayed at missing the adventure, but discovers pixie dust in his bag of lost marbles and uses it to go flying around London and back to Neverland. While flying out from the windows, he says “seize the day”, a catchphrase often used in Dead Poets Society, another movie starring Robin Williams. Wendy remarks to Peter that his adventures are now over, but Peter says, “To live would be an awfully big adventure

REVIEW:

A couple of months ago, Syfy aired a film that was some kind of hybrid of a re-imagining and prequel to the Peter Pan mythos. I have yet to watch the whole thing, but hopefully it will come on at a moment in time when I can actually watch it and not have to flip between 50 other things.

So, Hook is a sequel of sorts to the Peter Pan stories, picking up many years after we last saw Peter. Somewhere along the way, Peter made the decision to not return to Neverland, but rather grow up. Years later, he has a wife (Wendy’s granddaughter) and kids and is a lawyer, or pirate as Wendy calls him.

While Peter and his wife are at some sort of orphanage naming ceremony for Wendy, the kids are kidnapped. Soon Tinker Bell come to take Peter to Neverland, where he finds that it was Captain Hook, who kidnapped his kids, and that he is apparently Peter Pan, a fact that he has forgotten, but needs to remember if he is to ever see them again or return home.

Due to Tink’s negotiating, she has 3 days to get him to remember and have a “final showdown”, if you will, with Captain Hook. In order to train him, she enlists the help of the Lost Boys, who are split on whether they think it is him or not, thanks mostly to their new leader, Rufio.

As you can imagine, Rufio is the hot-headed, rebellious type that eventually turns around when the time comes. He even becomes a tragic figure in the end, as you’ll see.

Peter finally realizes who he is and goes on to face Captain Hook along with an assist by a giant crocodile clock.

So, let’s talk casting, shall we? Was Robin Williams the best choice for this role? I had to think about this and I have to say he was. In order to pull this off, you need someone who can be a man-child, as well as pull off the serious “adult” part. There aren’t many others who could have pulled off the perfect mixture of the two.

Dustin Hoffman is a decent Captain Hook, but I think he was trying to channel the Hook from Disney’s Peter Pan. If this was the intent, then I think he did a great job. However, for some reason, I can’t help but think he wanted to do something more than just bring an iconic animated figure to live action.

How can you have Peter Pan without Tinker Bell, right? Well, this Tink is a red head. Having never read the actual story, I can’t say what her actual hair color is supposed to be, but every version I’ve seen of her, Tink has been a blonde, so it was a bit much to swallow seeing her as a red head, but took nothing away from the great turn Julia Roberts did in her wings. The only issue I have with her, and this might have been more about how she was written, was that she seemed to lack the fire she is known for. Sure she has spunk, but I think I just wanted more.

A small bit of trivia…apparently Gwyneth Paltrow is destined to grow into Maggie Smith when she gets old. Seriously, Gwyneth plays a young Wendy, while Maggie is old Wendy.

I’ve read some rather scathing reviews about this film. Personally, I don’t understand why everyone is sipping that haterade. I have fond memories of this film from my childhood. Often times these jewels don’t hold that magic, but Hook certainly does. The story brings you in, if for nothing more than curiosity about what happened to Peter Pan after he returned to Neverland. There is some nice action, as well, not to mention some nice set design. I highly recommend this to any and everyone as something you should many times before you die!

5 out of 5 stars

Nanny McPhee Returns

Posted in Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

On a farm in Britain during World War II, Isabel Green is driven to her wits’ end by her hectic life. Between trying to keep the family farm up and running and her job in the village shop, aided by the elderly and partly blind Mrs. Docherty, she also has three dutiful, yet boisterous children to look after, Norman, Megsie and Vincent. All of this she has to do while her husband is away at war. So when her children’s two haughty and spoiled cousins, Cyril and Celia Gray are sent to live on their farm, another war is being fought between the two sets of children, she is in need of a little magic. She hears a mysterious voice telling her that she needs Nanny McPhee and, to her astonishment, Nanny McPhee appears on her doorstep one stormy night.

Nanny McPhee arrives to take matters into her own hands. At first, the children do not listen and carry on fighting, but she calmly bangs her stick, causing them to start hurting themselves, and Vincent to break things with his cricket bat. Eventually, they apologize, and the two groups learn to tolerate each other. Nanny McPhee then teaches them another lesson and punishes them, to share, by forcing the older boys to share their bed with a goat, the girls with the family cow, and Vincent with a baby elephant, making them realize sharing with one another wasn’t so bad and start acting kinder to one another. For instance, Megsie gives Celia some of her best clothing when the ones she brought are ruined, which had made her resort to wearing their mother’s wedding dress. Meanwhile, Isabel’s Uncle Phil has gambled away the farm and is being chased down by two hit women. He desperately attempts to make Isabel sell her half of the farm, using an array of schemes. These include digging a hole so that the family piglets can escape, but by working together, the children manage to round them up in time.

To celebrate catching the piglets, Mrs. Green takes all the children on a picnic, during which Mr. Docherty, warns them all about bombs and how he imagines a pilot might accidentally release his bomb in the remote area in which the family lives. At the end of the picnic Uncle Phil delivers a telegram saying that Rory Green has been “killed in action” in the war. Isabel believes the telegram, along with everybody else. But Norman does not, and says that he has a feeling “in his bones” that his father is not dead. He tells this to Cyril, who at first says it is just because he is upset, but then agrees to help Norman determine the truth. They realise that Cyril’s father, Lord Gray, a high-ranking figure in the War Office can find out for himself what has happened to Rory. So they manage to get Nanny McPhee to take them to London on her motorcycle. (For Pink Floyd fans: Note the Pig shaped barrage baloon above Battersea Power Station in the panoramic view as they arrive in London)

Upon arrival in London, Nanny McPhee uses her status in the army to get the boys access to the War Office, where they meet Lord Grey. At first he scoffs at Norman when he tells him about his disbelief of his father’s death, but after Cyril angrily informs his father that he knows that his parents are getting a divorce, he gives in and goes to check on Rory’s status. While he is gone, Cyril tells Norman that he and Celia have been sent away because their parents will be splitting up, and not because of the bombs, and he is unsure where he and Celia will have to live. Norman tells Cyril that he and Celia are welcome to live on the farm with the Greens, to his delight. Lord Grey returns and informs them that Rory is not listed as killed in action, as the telegram had stated, but rather missing in action, and that there is no record of a telegram ever having been sent to Isabel.

The boys then leave and Norman works out that the telegram brought to his mother by Uncle Phil was in fact a fraud to get Isabel to sell the farm. While the boys are at the War Office, Megsie, Celia and Vincent are trying to stop Isabel from signing the papers and selling the farm. When their own efforts fail, Megsie calls to Nanny McPhee for help, who hears her plea and summons a baby Elephant to stall for time. Just as Isabel is about to sign the papers, an enemy plane flies overhead. The pilot sneezes twice, and on the third sneeze, a huge bomb is dropped, but does not explode and is sticking out of the barley field. When Nanny McPhee returns with Norman and Cyril, thanks to the Nanny’s magic, the children go out to watch Mr. Docherty dismantle the bomb, but he falls from the ladder and faints, and Megsie takes over. She succeeds with the help of the other children and Nanny McPhee’s putty eating bird, Mr. Edelweiss. Nanny McPhee then helps to harvest the barley and saves Phil from the hit women, with a little magic, and she and Mrs. Docherty watch the family celebrate.

During their conversation, Mrs. Docherty says to Mr. Docherty that Nanny McPhee hates goodbyes and that she remembers from when she was young. She then takes out a rattle, revealing that she is baby Aggie from the first film. As Nanny McPhee walks away from the now happy family, true to her statement “When you need me, but do not want me, I must stay. When you want me, but no longer need me, then I have to go”, the children and Isabel chase after her, determined to prove they still need her. However, they discover that they in fact do not, as they round a bend to see that their father is descending from the hill, passing Nanny McPhee along the way. Rory Green (Ewan McGregor), in army uniform and with an injured arm, runs to the arms of his children and wife and rejoices in the discovery that after leaving three children to go to war, he has returned to find five. As Nanny McPhee watches the reunion, now a beautiful woman, she forgives Mr. Edelweiss and allows him to perch on her shoulder as they leave into the distance

REVIEW:

Last month, I had a double nanny month, in that I reviewed both Mary Poppins and the original Nanny McPhee. Now, I figure it is time to do the fairly recent release, Nanny McPhee Returns. For those of you in love with nannies, you might also want to check out The Nanny Diaries, as well.

This film picks up quite some time after the original. As a matter of fact, other than the revelation of one of the characters at film’s end, the original is not even mentioned.

This time around Nanny McPhee comes to the aid of a family during WWII as their father is away at war, and their rich, spoiled cousins have come to live with them. Now, here is what has me scratching my head as to her need.

In the first film, the children were quite unruly, yet in this one, except for typical adolescent hijinks and the spoiled nature of the cousins, these kids are quite pleasant. This sort of makes Nanny McPhee useless, save for the overworked mother, played by a rapidly aging Maggie Gyllenhaal. Seriously, as much as I love her, doesn’t she seem to look older and older everytime we see her?

Anyway, as with the last film, this hideous old woman shows up after some cryptic messages saying “The person you want is Nanny McPhee”. The same rules from the first film apply as well, though the methods she uses to teach those lessons are different.

This is where I started to really be sold on this film. In so many other sequels, it seems as if they are nothing but a carbon copy of their predecessors, but this one did something not many do and that is they made a totally new story complete with a set of new challenges and adventures. That being said, there are some similarities, such as farm animals, evil relative, money problems, one of the kids crying out for help from Nanny McPhee, but these don’t feel recycled, and actually fit into this new version.

Color played a big part of the previous film, as every scene seemed like it was straight out of some 60s TV show, what with all the different colors. This one is a little better. The colors are still there, but they seem to be toned down. I’m still not sure what I think about that, but I figured it should be mentioned.

Of course with a film like this, there has to be a villanous plot. This one involves the “evil” uncle who own half the farm (the other half is owned by his brother who is away at war). Somehow, though, he has managed to lose the farm to an unseen crime boss and now he must pay up. This is why he spends the film concocting various nefarious plots. The worst of which was delivering a forged telegram saying that the father had been killed in the war.

Rhys Ifans really does a good job with the slime ball aspect of this character, and for some reason he seemed to be a bit more sweaty than one should be. Perhaps that may be due to the fact that he’s not used to being as heavy as he appears to be here.

Emma Thompson hasn’t lost a step as Nanny McPhee, but she does seem to be a bit more personable in this film. For some reason, though, she doesn’t seem to be hiding her magic, or at least she doesn’t deny it. In the last film, it wasn’t really an issue,but this time around, it was like everyone knew about it. Just an observation, not a criticism.

There was also some weird scenes with the crow, Mr. Edelweiss (who plays a major role near the end of the film). She seems almost pleasant when she’s talking to him, though. I’m not going to say I didn’t like it, but it was just out of character for her.

Only one word can really describe this film…magical. Nanny McPhee returns and is quite possible even better than the original. Everything one would expect from a film like this is here and with no random off-color jokes. This is just a great family film that all can watch and enjoy, so give it a shot, why don’t you?

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Gnomeo & Juliet

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Mrs. Montague and Mr. Capulet (Julie Walters and Richard Wilson) are two elderly people who despise each other. When they leave the garden, objects come alive in both their gardens. The Montague garden is filled with blue garden gnomes, and the Capulet garden houses red garden gnomes. Later, both blue and red gnomes attend a lawnmower race. Representing the blues is Gnomeo (James McAvoy) and representing the reds is Tybalt (Jason Statham). During the race, it looks like Gnomeo is winning; however, Tybalt cheats and wins the race, destroying Gnomeo’s lawnmower. Gnomeo and his best friend, Benny (Matt Lucas), insult Tybalt for cheating, but Tybalt ignores them. Benny watches Mrs. Montague ordering a new cheap lawnmower, disappointed.

Later that night, Gnomeo and Benny, infiltrate the red garden in disguise, with blue spray cans. Benny sprays Tybalt’s well and accidentally triggers a security light in the process, alerting the red gnomes to attack. During the escape Gnomeo ends up in a nearby neglected garden. He bumps into a disguised Juliet (Emily Blunt), the daughter of the red gnomes leader Lord Redbrick (Michael Caine). Juliet is attempting to retrieve a unique orchid, and the two romantically fight over it. They each discover the other’s colour before fleeing the garden. When they both go back to their gardens, Juliet tells her frog friend Nanette (Ashley Jensen) about her newfound love. Nanette states that the relationship is romantically tragic.

Gnomeo and Juliet then have secret meetings in a secret garden, where they meet a pink plastic flamingo named Featherstone (Jim Cummings). He supports and encourages their love, and the two begin to meet regularly. Though when the two of them are getting ready for a date, Lord Redbrick introduces Juliet to Paris (Stephen Merchant), a red gnome that Nanette has fallen for, though Juliet manages to get away. Later, when the two return back to their gardens, Gnomeo finds his mother Lady Blueberry (Maggie Smith), who is distraught after the reds infiltrated the garden and destroyed the plant Gnomeo’s deceased father planted. The blues want Gnomeo to take revenge on the reds, and he realizes that he cannot refuse unless he tells his secret. He tunnels underneath to reach the red garden, but just as he is about to spray the prized flowers of the reds, Juliet sees him. He backs out suddenly, telling Benny that the nozzle on the spraying bottle was jammed.

When he and Juliet meet up again, they briefly argue until Featherstone stops them, telling them that other peoples’ hate destroyed his love. He and his girlfriend were separated when the two people living in the house, where their garden was, got divorced. After he has explained this, Gnomeo and Juliet apologize, but when they are about to kiss, Benny sees them, distracts them, then runs into the alleyway, where Tybalt is waiting with his lawnmower. Tybalt drives at Benny and chops his hat clean off with a trowel. Tybalt fights Gnomeo on his lawnmower, but he is destroyed when crashing into a wall, killing him. The reds attempt to attack Gnomeo, but Juliet, to the surprise of her father and clan, defends Gnomeo, saying that she loves him. A woman suddenly jogs along, so all gnomes become still and inconspicuous. Gnomeo ends up on a road, and everyone believes he was run over by a truck. Lord Redbrick has Juliet glued to her fountain because he does not want to lose her like her mother. Gnomeo’s pet, a mushroom named Shroom, is left alone and goes on the road, where he realizes that what appeared to be Gnomeo is actually a broken blue teapot, and that Gnomeo is still alive. Gnomeo eventually ends up in a park, and climbs onto a statue of William Shakespeare (Patrick Stewart) and tells him his story. Shakespeare tells Gnomeo that his story is very similar to Romeo and Juliet and that it is likely Gnomeo’s will have a sad ending as well. Shroom and Featherstone come to find him.

Benny, meanwhile, buys the Terrafirminator lawnmower using the computer and cancels the order of the Kitten Clipper, to get revenge on the Red Gnomes, despite Shroom trying to convince him that Gnomeo is still alive. The Terrafirminator goes out of control and destroys most of the two gardens. Gnomeo makes it back to Juliet to try to un-glue her, but he is unable to. She tells him to go, but he refuses, and the two share a kiss just as the lawnmower crashes into the fountain, self-destructing in the process and the William Shakespeare statue in an “I told you so” moment of confidence. Everyone believes that both Gnomeo and Juliet are dead. Lord Redbrick and Lady Blueberry, both realizing that their feud was responsible for this, decide to call a truce. Suddenly, both Gnomeo and Juliet climb out of the rubble and are both fine just as Mrs. Montague comes back to see if the Kitten Clipper lawnmower has arrived and so was Mr. Capulet who are soon horrified to see the destruction. The film ends happily with Gnomeo and Juliet getting married on a purple lawnmower, which symbolizes the truce.

REVIEW:

As I’m sure many of you probably did when you first saw something about this film, I rolled my eyes and let out a deep sigh in disgust that we were about to be forced to sit through yet another telling on the Bard’s immortal Romeo & Juliet. This time however, it is told with through the use of CG animation (which is really starting to get on my nerves, especially since this was released in 3D!!!) and the use of lawn gnomes (and various other lawn ornaments).

Gnomeo & Juliet is quite the cute little tale, and I was totally not expecting to like it. The only reason I even bothered watching it was because of the voice cast, which was superb, by the way. Listen forthe voices of Ozzy Osbourne and  Jason Statham as Deer and  Tybalt, respectively,  if you don’t believe me.

In all the tellings of this story, this more than likely will go down as one of my favorite, not necessarily because it is told better or is more memorable, but because it isn’t as depressing as the others…save for the one patch near the end, but that’s forgivable.

The animation is really good, but not great. The biggest flaw with it, though, may have to do with the fact that this was released in 3D, thus allowing for it to look rather muddy on DVD.

This isn’t a musical, though it might have worked better as one. Elton John provided the soundtrack for the film, and somehow it works. Don’t ask me how, but the tone of the film melds very well with the light hearted feel of Elton’s songs.

The jokes in here aren’t too childish that adults will be bored, nor are they too over the top for the kids. I think there could have been a few pop culture references thrown in, though. That might be a result of being spoiled by the Shrek movies, though.

Gnomeo & Juliet is a surprise hit for me, and I’m sure more than a few people who have seen it agree. While it may seem to be the dumbest premise one has ever conceived, the film itself is really quite good. Not to mention it is sweet, cute, and an all around good time for the family. I definitely recommend that you put aside any prejudices you may hold for this film and check it out.

4 out of 5 stars