Archive for road trip

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip

Posted in Comedy, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Through a series of misunderstandings, Alvin, Simon and Theodore come to believe that Dave is going to propose to his new girlfriend in Miami…and dump them. They have three days to get to him and stop the proposal, saving themselves not only from losing Dave but possibly from gaining a terrible stepbrother.

What people are saying:

“In some respects, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip is a marginal improvement over prior installments, although this in no way qualifies as a recommendation.” 1 star

“A cute and harmless family movie which will definitely gain the approval of the kids as the three most famous chipmunks venture to Miami with a stereotypical rebelling teen. Despite a predictable plot, the film makes a decent enough movie for children to enjoy.” 3 stars

“I think Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise should’ve quit after the second movie. The third one was boring at best. We had four kids with us. They were pretty bored after the first 30 minutes. There were some good songs but they did not make up for the very forced story line. Save your money and watch it on a rental.” 2 stars

“Irritating characters, little semblance of a plot, weak gags, and sub-par performances … result in a film that doesn’t even have enough going on to interest a five-year-old.” 1 star

“Definitely better than the third movie, which, unfortunately, was pretty lame. “The Road Chip” had some great music and was genuinely funny in many places. Though I agree with some other reviews that this was not a movie particularly geared toward young children, I think that young adults ages 12 or 13 on up, including adults, would really appreciate it. Younger children would like the music and some of the comedic lines and scenes, too.” 4 stars

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Vacation

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on November 26, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Hoping to bring his family closer together and to recreate his childhood vacation for his own kids, an adult Rusty Griswold takes his wife and two sons on a cross-country road trip to Walley World. Needless to say, things don’t go quite as planned.

Trying to bond his family together and relive his childhood memories, Rusty Griswold takes his family to Walley World, an amusement park. On the way they face challenges, overcoming fears, and troubles with mischievous people. When his family admits that they never wanted to go, he starts to think his family thinks he’s a loser. Will they make it to Walley World or will the family separate?

Rusty Griswold takes his own family on a road trip to “Walley World” in order to spice things up with his wife and reconnect with his sons.

What people are saying:

“Surprisingly funny and at times charming.
As a huge fan of the 80’s films I was really not expecting much. But it’s not half bad. No it’s not great like the old ones . But good enough .” 2 stars

“It has some laugh out loud moments that are peppered throughout the film, but the majority of it needed to be polished by better writers. It wasn’t terrible, but it could have been so much better.” 2 1/2 stars

“I’m so glad I ignored the bad ratings and watched this film anyway. It’s hilarious! I haven’t laughed that much at a film in a long time. Quite a dark sense of humour which made it even better! Great film.” 5 stars

“Nice family comedy. kinda far fetched and unbelievable but it kills a couple hours and you get a few laughs out of it.” 3 stars

“I gave this movie a solid 23 minutes before I had to shut it off with extreme prejudice. What a complete hunk of garbage. This movie make European Vacation look like a god damn masterpiece. I’m embarrassed for anyone who had anything to do with the production of this turd.” 1/2 star

Tammy

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In Murphysboro, Illinois, Tammy Banks strikes a deer on the way to her job at Topper Jack’s (a fictional fast food restaurant), causing significant damage to her vehicle. Once she arrives at Topper Jack’s, her supervisor, Keith, fires her for repeatedly showing up late for her shift. Upon leaving, Tammy indignantly causes a scene by contaminating or stealing food. After her car dies on the way home on Illinois Route 13, she eventually arrives to find her husband, Greg, eating a romantic meal with their neighbor, Missi. Upset, Tammy leaves and walks two doors down to her parents’ house.

She tells her mother, Deb, about her plans to leave and takes her grandmother Pearl’s car. Pearl requests to come along. Tammy initially refuses but ultimately agrees when Pearl proves that she has a large sum of cash. Tammy has beer with Pearl, and the next morning they wake up near a park where Pearl convinces Tammy not to go back home. Pearl wants to go to Niagara Falls with Tammy since she hadn’t gone as a child. Along the way the two stop in a bar in Louisville, Kentucky, Tammy meets Earl and his son Bobby, and Earl hooks up with Pearl. Tammy and Bobby begin to make a love connection as Pearl and Earl drunkenly make out in the car. Bobby gives Tammy his number to call him so he can pick up Earl. Back at the hotel, Tammy is forced to sleep outside. The next morning, Bobby picks up Earl, and the two leave. Tammy, infuriated with Pearl, leaves her, but returns after feeling guilty. Tammy and Pearl are arrested after Pearl gets caught buying a case of beer for underaged teenagers as well as shoplifting a pint of whiskey for herself. Tammy is released, but Pearl stays at the jail for possessing illegal prescription drugs.

To bail out Pearl, Tammy robs a Topper Jack’s, where she converses with employees Becky and Larry. Finally having obtained the money, she rushes to the prison to bail her out, but Bobby has already bailed out Pearl. With the help of Pearl’s wealthy lesbian cousin Lenore (who made her fortune off of a small chain of pet supply stores), they destroy the car to hide the evidence from the robbery. The two then stay at the home of Lenore and her wife, Susanne. At a 4th of July party thrown at the house, Pearl gets drunk and humiliates Tammy by making rude comments about her weight and appearance in front of all the guests. After Tammy runs off to the dock on the lake by the house, Lenore follows her to both comfort her and offer her some tough love, telling her that she has always been complaining about her life, but has never done anything about it. She tells Tammy that if she wants to make things better for herself she needs to work hard to make it happen.

Later in the morning, Tammy brings coffee to Pearl, who is presumably asleep outside. After repeatedly trying to wake her, Pearl does not wake up and Tammy assumes she is dead. She, Lenore, and Susanne grieve Pearl’s death, but Pearl suddenly awakens, much to everyone’s shock. Pearl was actually unconscious due to the large amount of alcohol she drank the previous night. Tammy is relieved, and she tearfully demands Pearl to get help for her drinking problem. The ambulance arrives and takes Pearl to the hospital. The police arrive as well, and Tammy is arrested.

Tammy is released from prison 38 days later, and her father, Don, picks her up. He offers to kill Greg for her, though she declines. Returning home, Tammy finds that Greg and Missi have packed Tammy’s belongings. She and Greg agree to an amicable divorce. She walks down the street to her parents’ place and finds out that Pearl is now living in Brookview Retirement Home. Tammy goes to Brookview to break her out, but Pearl is actually happy there. She has been attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings at the home, and she is dating one of the men there. However, they do still take a trip to Niagara Falls.

At Niagara Falls, Bobby surprises Tammy there and they kiss. Tammy tells him about her choice to move to Louisville to get a fresh start in life and get closer to him. The last scene shows Missi leaving Greg to be with Keith Morgan and Tammy befriends Becky and Larry

REVIEW:

I have a confession to make. I have a small crush on Melissa McCarthy. Judging by some of the comments and reviews she gets, I think I may be the only person besides her husband that actually is a fan. Tammy does not afford her the opportunity to show her beauty, but we do get a toned down version of what we have been getting from her of late. Is this for the best, though?

What is this about?

Pushed to the limit after losing her job and discovering her husband’s been cheating on her, Tammy agrees to flee town with her alcoholic grandmother. Their destination is Niagara Falls, but the journey offers some unexpected pit stops.

What did I like?

Buds. Both Melissa McCarthy and Susan Sarandon are no stranger to these buddy road trip movies, as they both have starred in critically acclaimed films. Having said that, I still don’t think I would have paired them together (originally, I believe it was supposed to have been Shirley MacLaine, if you can believe that), and yet somehow it works. There is some nice chemistry and back and forth between the two that really captures the audience’s attention. Are they going to get along? Do they really hate each other? It is an interesting dynamic.

Grandma. I know Susan Sarandon is getting on up there in age, but that Mama’s Family hair wasn’t working for me. Ignoring that, though, she gave arguably the best performance of the film. Striking a solid balance between comedy, drama, and a hint of tragedy, she steals the show from her “granddaughter”. Also, she can still pull in the men, which I imagine is true in real life, as well.

Victims. Melissa McCarthy’s character needs to make some $3,000 or somewhere thereabouts, so she decides to rob a franchise restaurant from the chain that fired her. In the process of doing so, she stops just short of making friends of the people working there (which apparently does happen, judging by the post-credits scene with all of them in a hot tub. What I like about this arrangement is how it just naturally flowed and wasn’t awkward. The three of them could probably make a sitcom together. As a matter of fact, I believe the blonde was on McCarthy’s show, Mike & Molly once.

What didn’t I like?

Fast food. I really don’t mean to judge, especially in this economy, but how and why is it that an apparently 30-40 something year old woman is flipping burgers or whatever is it she did at that place? Tammy isn’t shown to have any ambitions or anything, but surely she could have gotten a better job doing something…anything else.

Tara? Toni Collette is too fine an actress to be relegated to the role of I guess you would call her mistress? I say this because she is in 2, maybe 3 scenes and says little to nothing. Tammy’s husband is some no name actor, why did they feel the need to bring in someone like Collette to pair with him. Surely they could have found another no-name out there that would have been just as good, but cheaper.

Nice guy. When a love interest appears in a film, they usually have some defining characteristic about them that audiences use to remember them. This isn’t the case for Mark Duplass’ character, as he is 100% forgettable. Part of that is the fault of the script. We are privy to little to no information about this guy, but are expected to cheer for him as he tries to win McCarthy’s hand. It just doesn’t work. The guy may very well be too nice.

Final verdict on Tammy? Well, it seems to have more heart than many of McCarthy’s previous outings and doesn’t have her doing the fat comic thing. As a matter of fact, with the exception of one dramatic scene, her weight isn’t even mentioned. There are some genuine funny moments and some apparent comedic scenes that don’t work. The introduction of Kathy Bates’ character helps the film keep moving forward before it can devolve into monotony, though I’m not really sure why she had to be a lesbian. Do I recommend this? I think so, but only because this is one of those rare films today where you get to see the acting side of McCarthy. Give it a go, then.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Thelma & Louise

Posted in Chick Flicks, Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Two friends, Thelma Dickinson (Geena Davis) and Louise Sawyer (Susan Sarandon) set out for a two-day vacation to take a break from their dreary lives. Thelma is married to a controlling man, Darryl (Christopher McDonald), while Louise works as a waitress in a diner. They head out in Louise’s 1966 Ford Thunderbird convertible, but their vacation in the mountains quickly turns into a nightmare before they reach their destination.

They stop for a drink at a roadhouse, where Thelma meets and dances with Harlan Puckett (Timothy Carhart). After she gets drunk, Harlan attempts to rape her in the parking lot. Louise finds them and threatens to shoot Harlan with a gun that Thelma brought with her. Harlan stops, but as the women walk away, he yells profanity and insults them. Louise loses her temper and fires, killing him. Thelma wants to go to the police, but Louise says that because Thelma was drunk and had been dancing with Harlan, no one will believe her claim of attempted rape. Afraid that she will be prosecuted, Louise decides to go on the run and Thelma accompanies her.

Louise is determined to travel from Oklahoma to Mexico, but refuses to go through Texas. It is revealed that something happened to her in Texas years earlier, but she refuses to say exactly what. Heading west, they come across an attractive young man named J.D. (Brad Pitt), and Thelma convinces Louise to let him hitch a ride with them. Louise contacts her boyfriend Jimmy Lennox (Michael Madsen) and asks him to wire transfer her life savings to her. When she goes to pick up the money, she finds that Jimmy has come to see her. Thelma invites J.D. into her room and learns he is a thief who has broken parole. They sleep together, and J.D. describes how he conducted his hold-ups. At the same time, Jimmy asks Louise to marry him, but she declines.

In the morning, Thelma tells Louise about her night with J.D. When they return to the motel room, they discover J.D. has taken Louise’s life savings and fled. Louise is distraught and frozen with indecision, so a guilty Thelma takes charge and robs a convenience store using the tactics she learned from listening to J.D. Meanwhile, the FBI are getting closer to catching the fugitives, after questioning J.D. and Jimmy, and tapping the phone line at Darryl’s house. Detective Hal Slocumb (Harvey Keitel) discovers the traumatic event that Louise experienced years earlier in Texas. During a couple of brief phone conversations with her, he expresses sympathy for her predicament and pledges to protect her, but he is unsuccessful in his attempts to persuade her to surrender.

When they are pulled over by a state trooper (Jason Beghe), Thelma holds him at gunpoint and locks him in the trunk of his car, while Louise takes his gun and ammunition. They then encounter a truck driver (Marco St. John) who repeatedly makes obscene gestures at them. They pull over to demand an apology, but when he refuses, they fire at the fuel-tanker he is driving, causing it to explode. Leaving the man furious, they drive off.

Thelma and Louise are finally cornered by the authorities only 100 yards from the edge of the Grand Canyon. Hal arrives on the scene, but he is refused the chance to make one last attempt to talk the women into surrendering themselves. Rather than be captured and spend the rest of their lives in jail, Thelma proposes that they “keep going” (over the cliff). Louise asks Thelma if she is certain. Thelma says yes, they kiss, and Louise steps on the accelerator. As soon as the car starts forward, Hal sprints after it in an attempt to save them, but the car zooms over the cliff.

REVIEW:

The other day I was having a discussion about the direction films seem to be taking these days One of the topics that was brought up involved more and more use of strong female protagonists and less and less of the “damsel in distress”. Say what you will about me, but I prefer the “damsel in distress”. Thelma & Louise is unique in that it utilizes both female tropes.

What is this about?

An Arkansas waitress and her naïve housewife friend hit the road for a simple weekend of freedom — and end up on a wild flight from the law.

What did I like?

Fire and Ice. Thelma is the free spirit who has been held down too long by her over controlling husband. Louise is the no-nonsense waitress who it can be assumed has had some rough experiences in her past. The contrast between these two ladies is one of the major contributing factors to why this film is so popular. The chemistry between these two women, though, is remarkable. I don’t want to sound like it is as if they would have no chemistry, but rather the pairing of Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis was a nice bet that paid off.

Introducing… Brad Pitt has been called one of the finest actors of our generation. I can’t really argue that, to be truthful. He has shown that he does have some acting chops to go with that pretty boy look of his. I’m always fascinated to see the early works of actors, singers, etc., especially their debuts. For instance, I still crack up laughing when I see the WWF debut of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, then known as Rocky Maivia (look it up on Youtube and see if you don’t laugh, as well). This isn’t the first thing Pitt had done, but it is his feature film debut.

Exit. In the film’s climactic final scene, the girls are faced with the choice of turning themselves in or getting shot up like Bonnie & Clyde (more on that shortly). If you know anything about this flick, then you are more than aware that they hightail it for the Grand Canyon, rather than head to jail. It is an exit befitting the greatest of fugitives. Bonnie & Clyde were shot up holding hands. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, contrary to the movie’s portrayal, went out with each other…one even assisting the other in death. Thelma & Louise go out together as well (though there are theories as to whether or not they actually die).

What didn’t I like?

Shoot ’em up. In yet another case of the cops and FBI going overboard, they send out what is just short of a military strike force to capture these two women, who haven’t really done anything other than rob one convenience store and kill one asshole rapist. With the force they sent after them, you’d think they’d have kidnapped the First Lady! On top of that, when they get to the climactic scene, these cops and other personnel are aimed and ready to shoot. Again, these women have committed a couple of crimes, but they aren’t nearly dangerous enough to have adopted a “shoot first, ask questions later” attitude. WTF?!?

Rape. Rape is a tough subject to tackle, but there is a scene where Geena Davis’ character is about to get raped by this guy at the bar. I won’t lie, I’ve had all kinds of impure thought of Geena Davis, but I would never act on them….unless she wanted me to HA! Seriously, though, this rape scene was a bit uncomfortable to watch, and it wasn’t even as bad as some others that I’ve seen in film and TV. Plus, it was a major plot device, so there was no way to omit it, really. Personally, though, I could have done without this scene.

Smooth it out. Anyone that has been on the back roads in this country knows that they are far from smooth sailing, let alone as straight as this film makes them, unless that is how they are over there in New Mexico, which I doubt. Perhaps this is just me being a little too over critical, but there should have been more bumps in the road as they were traveling. At the same time, there are very many 1966 Thunderbirds with Arkansas license plates driving about, either. How is it no police officer didn’t notice them?!?

Thelma & Louise is a film that I’ve been putting off watching for years and years now. With a couple of hours carved out of my schedule this week, I managed to have the time to check it out and I must say that it was worth the wait. The few complaints I have with this film are very minor. Here we are in 2014 and I think this film is still relevant, if not moreso. Do I recommend it? Yes, very much so! This entertaining film will definitely go down as one of the finest pieces of cinema you’ll watch in your lifetime, or at least this year!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Guilt Trip

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , on September 29, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Andy Brewster (Seth Rogen) is an inventor attempting to get his organic cleaning product, ScioClean, in a major retail store. However, each retail store he visits dismisses him before he can end his pitch. After a disappointing sales pitch to K-Mart, he visits his mother, Joyce Brewster (Barbra Streisand), in New Jersey before leaving on a cross-country trip to Las Vegas, lying to her that his pitch ended well so she won’t worry about him. While there she reveals to him that he was named after a boy she fell in love with in Florida named Andrew Margolis, whom she hoped would object to her marriage with Andy’s father. However, he never did and she felt that she never mattered to him afterwards. After a little research, he finds Andrew Margolis is still alive and unmarried living in San Francisco. He invites his unknowing mother on the trip, claiming he wants to spend some time with her.

The road trip quickly becomes hard for Andy as his mother continues to intervene in his life. After their car breaks down in Tennessee Joyce calls Andy’s ex-girlfriend Jessica (Yvonne Strahovski) (who Joyce insists Andy should get back together with) to pick them up. At a pregnant and married Jessica’s house she reveals that Andy proposed to her before college and she turned him down, shocking Joyce, who believed Andy had trouble proposing to women. Andy is glum afterward and Joyce apologizes for calling Jessica, which Andy half-heartedly accepts. In Texas Andy has a meeting with Costco executive Ryan McFeer (Brandon Keener) however Joyce stays at the meeting and criticizes the products bottling and name along with Ryan to the point that Andy snaps at him, saying “I’m not changing the goddamn label Ryan!” At the motel that night a depressed Andy begins drinking and Joyce attempts to make up with him however Andy snaps at her, only to have Joyce snap back and leave for a nearby bar. Later Andy attempts to retrieve his mother but gets in a fight with a bar patron who attempts to stop her from leaving, receiving a black eye in the process. At a steak restaurant the next day the two exchange apologies and Andy reveals that he is failing at selling ScioClean. Joyce enters a steak eating challenge where she is noticed by cowboy-styled businessman Ben Graw (Brett Cullen), who gives her tips on eating and helps her finish the challenge. Afterwards he reveals he does a lot of business in New Jersey and asks her to dinner. Joyce, who has never been in a relationship after Andy’s dad died when he was eight, balks at the offer so Ben merely leaves his number and asks her to call if she reconsiders. Andy and Joyce begin to genuinely enjoy each other’s company after, taking time out of their trip to visit the Grand Canyon (which Joyce has always wanted to visit) and having many other adventures.

At Las Vegas Joyce has such a good time that she asks Andy to leave her while he visits San Francisco, forcing him to reveal that there is no sales pitch in San Francisco and he only invited her to get her to meet Andrew Margolis. Joyce is very distraught as she believed Andy invited her because he actually wanted to spend time with her. He goes to make his pitch at the Home Shopping Network but finds that his science-fact based pitch bores the network’s executives and makes them uninterested. He then sees Joyce in the filming crew and takes her advice by appealing to the Network’s host family safety and drinking his own product, proving that it is organic and safe for children. Afterwards the Network CEO approaches him and shows genuine interest in selling ScioClean on the Network. After a jubilant Andy and Joyce decide to visit Andrew Margolis’s house. However when they arrive they are informed by Andrew’s son, Andrew Margolis Jr. (Adam Scott) (whom Andy mistakenly researched instead of the father) that his father died five years ago. After seeing Joyce’s grief he invites them inside, where he learns that his father and Joyce were close. She asks if Andrew’s father ever mentioned her, but he says he never did as he only confided personal information to their mother, who is away. However he then introduces his sister (Ari Graynor), who is named Joyce after Andy’s mom. Joyce is overjoyed by this as she had previously stated her belief that you name your children after someone you cherished and want to remember. This shatters her belief that she didn’t matter to Andrew and makes her overjoyed. Afterwards they part ways at the LAX Airport; Andy to make his next sales pitch and Joyce back to New Jersey, where she arranges a date with Ben Graw. The two leave content and much closer than they had been.

REVIEW:

I think it is the fear of every offspring to be trapped in a car with their parents, let alone on a road trip cross-country! That fear comes to fruition for one man in The Guilt Trip, a play on words of the popular term that many of our parents give to us everytime we call home, but then again, that could just be me.

What is this about?

After Andy Brewster invents a fabulous new organic cleaner, he goes on a cross-country road trip to promote it. His mother, Joyce, comes along for the ride but soon discovers that her son has an ulterior motive: fixing her up with a long-lost flame.

What did I like?

Reasoning. I’ll admit it, I’m a mama’s boy. No shame in that! I’ll do anything for my maternal unit. It warmed my heart to see the reason this guy was taking his mother on a cross-country road trip, to reunite her with the one that got away. Basically, he sacrificed his sanity to attempt at bringing his mother happiness, despite the ulterior motive of getting rid of her, which brings a smile to my face.

Barbara. How can anyone not like Streisand? This may be a bit of an annoying character, but for some strange reason, she’s lovable. Credit part of that to Barbara’s acting ability. She is able to take a character that we, the audience, should detest and despise and make her someone we care about. It takes a real talent to accomplish that feat, without diluting the character.

Woman vs. food. I love the Travel Channel show Man vs. Food. There is just something satisfying about the challenge of 1 man vs these giant food challenges. While they are passing through Texas, Streisand’s character take on the challenge of a 4 lb steak, with all the comes with is. Being a smaller,  older woman it was really quite insane to see her take that challenge, let alone win it! It didn’t really have anything to do with the plot, except she met a man.

What didn’t I like?

Seth. I tend to like Seth Rogen’s roles, but this didn’t resonate with me. Perhaps that has something to do with his constant not so silent protests. Rogen is allowed a little leeway, as is mother is quite the nag, but there comes a point where you remember to respect the woman who gave birth to you.

Nag. As the stereotypical Jewish mom, Barbara shines. However, making her this big of a nag may have been a bit overkill, at least as far as I’m concerned. Not much change is needed to this character, perhaps just pull her back a wee bit and it would be that much better. Instead, I was a little put off by the constant nagging. Was she a mother or a wife?

Tawk. Anyone out there remember “Coffee Tawk” from the Mike Myers generation of Saturday Night Live? Well, it was brought to my attention that this has a lot of SNL people working on it, which leads me to wonder if perhaps this was meant to perhaps be a film for her, complete with a more fabulous Barbara Streisand. Thinking about that, I’m not too sure which is worse, what we have or what could have been.

The Guilt Trip is one of those films meant to make you laugh at awkward situations. There isn’t a more awkward sitch than road tripping with your mother. Having said that, this film, like parents, had flaws and was a bit much in parts, but was still good, yeah good. Would I recommend it? Eh, not so much, but I won’t dissuade you from watching, either.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Sideways

Posted in Comedy, Drama, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , on September 2, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Miles Raymond (Paul Giamatti) is an unsuccessful writer, a wine-aficionado, and a depressed middle school English teacher living in San Diego, who takes his soon-to-be-married actor friend and college roommate, Jack Cole (Thomas Haden Church), on a road trip through Santa Ynez Valley wine country. Miles wants to relax and live well. However, Jack wants one last sexual fling.

In the wine country, the men encounter Maya (Virginia Madsen), a waitress at Miles’s favorite restaurant, The Hitching Post, and her friend, Stephanie (Sandra Oh), an employee at a local winery. They arrange a double date without revealing that Jack is to be married. Jack has an affair with Stephanie while Miles and Maya connect. Miles accidentally tells Maya that Jack is to be married. Enraged by the dishonesty, Maya dumps Miles and tells Stephanie, who breaks Jack’s nose.

Upon finding out his manuscript has been rejected again, Miles makes a scene and gets drunk at a wine tasting room, and Jack links up with another woman. To explain the broken nose to his fiancée, Jack runs Miles’s car into a tree. At the wedding, Miles faces the fact that his ex-wife will never return to him. Alone, he drinks his prized wine, a 1961 Château Cheval Blanc from a disposable coffee cup at a roadside diner. Later, he receives a message from Maya, who says she enjoyed his manuscript and invites him to visit. The last scene in the movie shows Miles back in Santa Ynez, knocking on Maya’s door.

REVIEW:

The first independent film that I can remember seeing was Sideways. A small film that critics loved and single-handedly revived the wine industry, except for Merlot, of course. It had been quite awhile since I last watched this, so a return viewing was in order. Such a shame I don’t drink wine. I have a feeling this is a flick that should be enjoyed with a little sip now and then.

What is this about?

Two guys embark on a road trip through wine valley as a last hurrah before one of them gets married. Whereas one of them sees it just as some quality time between the two, the other sees it as the last time he can get some before going down the aisle. This difference in philosophy causes a rift between then, but not before they meet a couple of extremely attractive women their age and start relationships with them. What will happen with these relationships? What about the wedding? How about the strained friendship?

What did I like?

Wine. For those that are into wine and all that stuff, this the film for you, much in the same way all those sports movies are for those obsessed with their respective sports. Not only do they go into some of the history of various wines, but also their tastes. There is even a scene where Paul Giamatti’s character basically insults Merlot!

Simplicity. This is obviously an independent film. That much is obvious by the few cast members they have, as well as some other things that can be attributed to small budgets. Just a couple of guys going on a road trip through wine valley is a simple plot and the reason this film works so well.

Talent. The four leads actually know how to act, and that is apparent. Often times, you will read on this blog how much I loathe today’s films for not having actors that can actually pull off the material, but rather just stand there in front of a green screen. These four are obvious exceptions to that statement. It is good to know that there is some real talent left in Hollywood.

What didn’t I like?

Fight the power. For all his trying, it is obvious that Giamitti’s character is fighting the urge to do anything but have a good time with his friend before his wedding. All the while he is worrying about the novel that he apparently has written, but hasn’t heard anything about. What is my issue with all of this? He just came off too much of a whiny little bitch.

Sandra Oh. Some can argue that she’s the best actor in this film. I’m sure there are those that won’t argue. One thing that can’t be ignored is that she is underused, with the exception of the last time we see here, when she is beating the hell out of Thomas Haden Church with her motorcycle helmet.

Waitress. As the film is drawing near its end and the guys are headed back home, they meet a waitress. Thomas Haden Church’s character flashes a smile at her and tells her that he is her favorite soap opera actor. Next thine we know, he is running back to Giamatti saying that her husband beat her. Ok, so all this is fine, except that he goes back to het Church’s wallet and we see her and her husband having sex. I could care less about them not being the kind of folks you see naked on film most of the time. My qualm is that these are random ancillary characters that are being shown getting it on. WTF?!?

Sideways is a really good film. Is it any wonder that this is one of those critics’ darling pictures? The even mixture of comedy and drama as well as a nice little buddy film. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a break from all the heavy drama, dark films, oversaturated CGI, and superhero flicks out there. It is well worth the viewing.

4 out of 5 stars

Wieners

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on November 30, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Fran Kranz stars as Joel, a guy who has recently been dumped by his girlfriend (on the advice of an abusive television therapist Dr. Dwayne, played by Darrell Hammond), sending him into a spiral of depression. His two friends, Wyatt (Kenan Thompson) and Ben (Zachary Levi), take him on a road trip to lift his spirits and take revenge on Dr. Dwayne. The friends take their trip in Wyatt’s van, which he has customized into a cross-country hotdog stand in an attempt to impress Oscar Meyer and get a job with them. On the way, they encounter an elderly nymphomaniac couple who had a sexual intercourse in front of them. After being dropped off, they realized their wallets are stolen by three women, leaving them with only ten dollars delivered to Wyatt in a 15-year-old birthday card from his grandmother. They use this money to enter en into a hot bod contest, which Ben had a flashback on which his mother constantly yells at him to work hard in competition. After getting advice from a man Walrus Boy, he wins, getting $10,000 for the prize. As they approach their destination, Joel abandons his friends in a fit of hopelessness, winding up drunk in a back alley. His childhood tormenter, Drake Hanswald (Andy Milonakis), appears in a hallucination, and Joel watches helplessly as his younger self is tormented by Drake and all of his other classmates. Realizing that he needs to change his situation and stand up for himself, Joel returns to his friends just in time to save them from the hippies who had previously stolen Wyatt’s hood ornament. The next morning they go to the studio where Dr. Dwayne’s show is filmed and sneak in. After beating up Dr. Dwayne’s decoy, the real Dr. Dwayne appears, revealing that he intentionally caused Joel’s breakup to motivate Joel to take a stand for himself. He also reveals that he has found a rich man that Wyatt had saved from a life of drugs, who is willing to finance Wyatt’s Wieners. Ben makes a speech to the audience and accepts his homosexuality. Now that the friends have all achieved what they needed, they head home, and we learn that Wyatt’s Wieners became the 4th most successful pre-packaged meat company in the U.S. and that he lives in a hotdog-shaped house with his dachsund named Beyonce. Ben went on to become a successful lawyer and cologne designer, and that he currently lives with his “roommate” Johnathan and his two cats. Joel invented “unpantsable” pants, and the three friends take the Wienerwagon on a road trip every year to spread cross-country happiness.

REVIEW:

As usual, I have found a film that few, if any, have even heard of. Usually, when I do this, said picture is about as horrible as one can get. Is this the case with Wieners?

Well, the plot of tis film is 3 loser friends…well, 2 are losers, the other is the semi cool guy who keep them out of trouble. You know the type. Anyway, one of the losers is in funk because he was dumped on national television by his fiancée. The other loser has been rejected by Oscar Meyer 12 times, so he goes out and buys a wiener truck so that he can go around the country selling hot dogs in an attempt to prove himself to the company. Needless to say, this leads to many random adventures, occurrences, and what not along the way.

I have to say that while I thought this was going to be the most horrific films I’ve seen in the past few months, it did have some moments that had me laughing out loud. That being said, it also had some moments that were just like WTF?!?

Having a nice concept just isn’t enough. The script just didn’t work for me, neither did the cast. On their own, they may have worked better, but the chemistry of the three leads didn’t gel. On top of that, Darrell Hammond’s Dr. Dwayne seems to be a watered down mutation of his Bill Clinton impression with a sprinkle of Dr. Phil. Don’t even get me started on Jenny McCarthy’s over the trop random appearance…or why they even go to see their old teacher in the hopes of getting some.

There is also this rivalry with some kind if vegan truck that results is the hood ornament being stolen (and somehow it learns to talk along the way). I’m still pondering whether this was good or bad.

Final verdict on Wieners? Well, now I want a hot dog, that’s for sure. The film itself is surprising in that it isn’t totally horrible, but at the same time, it could have been so much better. There are enjoyable elements, and you are sure to at least get a chuckle here and there, but then there are moments that will remind you why you haven’t heard of this film before now. Do I recommend this? Eh…if you just want a semi-raunchy comedy, then sure, go ahead, but don’t go out of your way to see it.

2 3/4 out of 5 stars