Archive for Sandra Bullock

Two Weeks Notice

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , on July 3, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

A woman finds herself attempting to foil one office romance while debating if she should take a chance on another in this romantic comedy. Lucy Kelton (Sandra Bullock) is a top-flight attorney who has risen to the position of Chief Legal Counsel for one of New York’s leading commercial real estate firms, the Wade Corporation. However, Lucy’s job has one significant drawback — George Wade (Hugh Grant), the eccentric and remarkably self-centered head of the firm. George seems entirely incapable of making a decision without Lucy’s advice, whether it actually involves a legal matter or not, and while she’s fond of George, being at his beck and call 24 hours a day has brought her to the end of her rope. In a moment of anger, Lucy gives her two weeks notice, and George reluctantly accepts, under one condition — Lucy has to hire her own replacement. After extensive research, Lucy picks June Carter (Alicia Witt), a Harvard Law graduate determined to make a career for herself. Lucy soon begins to suspect, however, that June plans to hasten her rise up the corporate ladder by winning George’s hand, leaving Lucy to wonder if she should warn George about his beautiful but calculating new attorney — and whether she should tell George that she has finally realized she’s in love with him.

What people are saying:

“Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock basically play their patented movie selves in this overly familiar romantic comedy about corporate greed, social responsibility, personal promises and budding love.” 2 stars

“A familiar plot and typical Bullock flick. Woman intellect meets scatterbrain man, fall in love (neither one knows it), a falling out, and they supposedly live happily ever after. Grant always plays the somewhat down founded man and Bullock is always somewhat of dimwit. Also, there’s a cameo appearance (with a four-liner speech) by a certain billionaire, who could have been edited out and his appearance forgotten. Recommended to Bullock and Grant fans.” 3 stars

“Its only relevance is as a sign of its times. Really it’s no worse than Rock Hudson Doris Day movies, and maybe someday it will be misviewed as a classic as those movies are. There’s little pep to the proceedings, but plenty of star power.” 2 stars

“A rom com about a shallow and obscenely rich playboy (when he said he was calling for a lift, he meant his private helicopter) and a brainy cause-fighting attorney (she can rattle off names of General Counsels when suspected of concussion). Grant and Bullock deliver their cheeky wordplay (“I think you are the most selfish human being on the planet.” “Well that’s just silly. Have you met everybody on the planet?”) with impeccable comic timing and adorable chemistry.” 4 stars

“This is one of those rom-coms that does something unique: it actually gets you to care about the characters who are supposed to be together. The way this movie does it is by having these characters actually be good people, despite their differing ideologies, an achievement that is difficult enough to manage in real life, let alone in a movie. There aren’t any memorable lines, but the charm of both Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant is enough to make this movie worth watching.” 3 1/2 stars

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Minions

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on May 23, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Minions are small, yellow creatures who have existed since the beginning of time, evolving from single-celled organisms into beings who exist only to serve history’s most despicable masters. After serving a great deal of masters over the centuries (though they accidentally kill their masters most of the time), and a disastrous end to their service to Napoleon, the Minions are driven into isolation and decide to start a new life in a massive cave in Antarctica. After many years, the Minions become depressed, restless and unmotivated without a master to serve. To regain their dignity and sense of purpose, Kevin, one fearless Minion, decides to set out to find a new master and asks for help. Stuart, a musically inclined Minion and Bob, a young and inexperienced but infectious Minion, are recruited.

The trio journey to New York where the year is 1968. After spending the day attempting to blend in, the Minions end up in a department store for the night, where they discover a hidden commercial broadcast for villains advertising Villain-Con; a convention for villains and supervillains in Orlando. The trio manage to hitchhike a ride with a family of villains called the Nelsons and impress them with their accidental villainy. Once at the convention, they see Scarlet Overkill, the first female supervillain, and they impress her enough for her to hire them. As Scarlet takes the Minions to her home in England, Kevin contacts the other Minions, who later find a new boss, but accidentally kill him and are chased out of their cave. They make their way to England to find Kevin, Bob, and Stuart.

At her home, Scarlet explains the plan to steal St. Edward’s Crown from Queen Elizabeth II of England and promises to reward the Minions if they successfully steal it, threatening that she will kill them if they don’t. Her husband Herb supplies them with inventions to aid in the heist, but they are nearly caught when they break into the Tower of London, which leads to a highly publicized chase that ends with Bob crashing into the Sword in the Stone and pulling it free, removing Elizabeth II from the throne and becoming King of England. Enraged by this, Scarlet confronts the Minions, and Bob abdicates in her favor. Undeterred because she feels betrayed, Scarlet imprisons the three in a dungeon to be tortured by Herb before her coronation, but afterwards, they are left alone and escape with the intention to apologize to Scarlet.

Making their way to Westminster Abbey, the three of them interrupt the coronation by accidentally dropping a chandelier on Scarlet, who immediately orders their execution. Dozens of villains chase them and Bob and Stuart are caught while Kevin finds his way into a pub. He sees Scarlet on a television, promising that she will kill Stuart and Bob if Kevin doesn’t show up by dawn. Kevin sneaks into Scarlet’s home to steal weapons, but inadvertently triggers a machine Herb was building and enlarges himself. He tramples through London, rescuing his friends just as the other Minions reunite with them. Scarlet tries to eradicate them, but Kevin swallows a massive missile she fired at them. Scarlet and Herb attempt to escape with her rocket-dress, but Kevin holds onto it. The missile detonates, apparently killing Kevin and the Overkills. After the Minions briefly mourn him, Kevin reappears, having returned to his normal size.

Queen Elizabeth receives her place on the throne and crown back and rewards Bob with a tiny crown for his teddy bear and Stuart an electric guitar (later replaced by a snow globe), and she knights Kevin for his heroism. She suddenly realizes that her crown is missing, and Kevin leads a chase after Scarlet and Herb, who are revealed to be alive and are fleeing through the crowd with the bejeweled crown until they are suddenly frozen in place by a young Gru, who steals the crown from them and takes off in a rocket-powered motorbike while the Minions stare in awe. Bob gives his crown to the frozen Scarlet, as the Minions see Gru as their new potential master and give chase to follow him home.

REVIEW:

A few years ago, when we first me the Minions in Despicable Me, they were meant to be just side characters. Who knew that they would become such a cultural phenomenon. one big enough to deserve their own spin-off/origin flick, Minions. Is this a film we wanted, or a cash grab?

What is this about?

Born to serve despicable villains, these crazy, yellow second-fiddles have a tragic history of accidentally killing off their masters. Without leadership they will perish, so three Minions head out on a dangerous journey to find their next evil boss.

What did I like?

Three’s Company. There are countless Minions, so it would be next to impossible to focus on all of them. The filmmakers picked out 3, the same 3 that were always singled out by Gru, if I’m not mistaken, Kevin, Stuart, and Bob, as the stars. The others exist, but that’s about it. This allows us to get behind these 3, learn about their kind, get a history lesson, and not be bogged down with too many characters.

Foreshadowing. As this is a prequel to Despicable Me, Gru has not become the world’s #1 supervillain, nor has he assembled his evil empire. As a matter of fact, he’s still in jr. high (from the looks of it). Gru isn’t the only one from that appears, though. While at Villain-con, if you will look in the background, you’ll notice Dr. Nefario and his freeze gun. A nice touch to include him, as he is Gru’s gadget guy in the other films.

Period piece. Putting this film in the 60s was a stroke of genius. Not only is there a plethora of good music, a far cry from the dreck we hear on the radio today, but there is so much that can be done in terms of references, sight gags, etc. Kids will think these are new jokes, while adults will get the references. A win-win situation!

What didn’t I like?

Too much of a good thing? Popular belief is that the Minions are best in small doses and don’t deserve a full length film. I can see that viewpoint and, as a matter of fact, I think I said something very similar when this film was announced. Do I stand by it? Yes and no. I’m not as firm on that position anymore, but as I watched this film, I felt that the jokes and momentum died as it went along. Similar to Penguins of Madagascar, it is a valiant effort, but these are characters whose worth on the big screen is best served as side characters and merchandise. However, I think they would work as a show on Nickelodeon…maybe.

Minionese. The language these little guys speak is mumbo jumbo and it isn’t going to change. I’m not asking for them to all of a sudden speak proper English, but how about subtitles? Most of the time when a character on film or TV is speaking in a foreign (or made-up) language, we get subtitles in order for us to understand what they are saying. Why is that not the case with these guys? Are just supposed to stay in the dark on what they are saying? Or just stay guessing?

Trailed off. I actually liked the trailers for this film. They got me almost excited to see it. However, I have an issue with them now, after seeing the actual film. The first 5-10 minutes are shot for shot what we saw in most of the trailers, save for the last one, which actually showed us the plot. In other words, the jokes in those first scenes weren’t as funny because they had already been shoved down our throats. Why do trailers do this these days? I’m sure they could find other scenes that would have worked, rather than spoiling the movie for us.

Final thoughts on Minions. These little guys have a bright future ahead of them, as long as they aren’t pushed too hard. I think this was a nice spin-off film and gave us some insight into who they are, but it wasn’t really necessary. Sure, it was a fun flick, but it felt more like a way to keep the Despicable Me franchise in everyone’s mind while they come up with a plot for the next film. That being said, this film doesn’t fall into many of the traps that kid’s films fall into today (pop culture references, disrespectful children, etc.), and for that we can call be grateful. Do I recommend it? Yes, I do. There isn’t enough bad to stop you from enjoying this simple family film.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Gravity

Posted in Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Thrillers/Mystery with tags , , , , , on April 13, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film is set during fictitious space shuttle mission STS-157. Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) is a medical engineer on her first space shuttle mission aboard the space shuttle Explorer. She is accompanied by veteran astronaut Matt Kowalski (George Clooney), who is commanding his final expedition. During a spacewalk to service the Hubble Space Telescope, Mission Control in Houston warns the team about a Russian missile strike on a defunct satellite, which has caused a chain reaction forming a cloud of debris in space. Mission Control orders that the mission be aborted and the shuttle begin re-entry immediately. Communication with Mission Control is lost shortly after.

High-speed debris strikes the Explorer and Hubble, and detaches Stone from the shuttle, leaving her tumbling through space. Kowalski, using a Manned Maneuvering Unit, soon recovers Stone and they make their way back to the Space Shuttle. They discover that it has suffered catastrophic damage and the crew is dead. They use the thruster pack to make their way to the International Space Station (ISS), which is in orbit only about 1,450 km (900 mi) away. Kowalski estimates they have 90 minutes before the debris field completes an orbit and threatens them again.

En route to the ISS, the two discuss Stone’s home life and the death of her young daughter. Her daughter was playing tag and she slipped and hit her head on the concrete causing her early death. As they approach the substantially damaged but still operational ISS, they see its crew has evacuated in one of its two Soyuz modules. The parachute of the remaining Soyuz has deployed, rendering the capsule useless for returning to Earth. Kowalski suggests using it to travel to the nearby Chinese space station Tiangong, 100 km (60 mi) away and board one of its modules to return safely to Earth. Out of air and maneuvering power, the two try to grab onto the ISS as they fly by. Stone’s leg gets entangled in Soyuz’s parachute cords and she grabs a strap on Kowalski’s suit. Despite Stone’s protests, Kowalski detaches himself from the tether to save her from drifting away with him, and she is pulled back towards the ISS while Kowalski floats away.

Stone enters the ISS via an airlock. She cannot re-establish communication with Kowalski and concludes that she is the sole survivor. A fire breaks out, forcing her to hastily make her way to the Soyuz. As she maneuvers the capsule away from the ISS, the tangled parachute tethers prevent the Soyuz from separating from the station. She spacewalks to release the cables, succeeding just as the debris field completes its orbit and destroys the station. Stone aligns the Soyuz with Tiangong but discovers that its engine has no fuel. After a brief radio communication with a fisherman on Earth, Stone resigns herself to being stranded and shuts down the cabin’s oxygen supply to commit suicide. As she begins to lose consciousness, Kowalski enters the capsule. Scolding her for giving up, he tells her to rig the Soyuz’s landing rockets to propel the capsule toward Tiangong. Stone then realizes that Kowalski’s reappearance is not real, but has nonetheless given her the strength of will to carry on. She restores the flow of oxygen and uses the landing rockets to navigate toward Tiangong, which is rapidly deorbiting.

Unable to dock the Soyuz with the station, Stone ejects herself via explosive decompression and uses a fire extinguisher as a makeshift thruster to travel to Tiangong. Stone enters the Shenzhou capsule just as Tiangong starts to break up on the upper edge of the atmosphere. Stone declares that she is ready to head back to Earth, dead or alive. After re-entering the atmosphere, Stone hears Mission Control, which is tracking the capsule, over the radio. The capsule lands in a lake, but dense smoke from an electrical fire inside the capsule forces Stone to evacuate immediately. She opens the capsule hatch, allowing water to enter and sink it, forcing Stone to swim ashore. She watches the remains of the Tiangong re-enter the atmosphere and takes her first shaky steps on land, in the full gravity of Earth.

REVIEW:

One of the best reviewed and lauded film of 2013 was Gravity. A very minimalist film, if you’ve ever seen one, there have been comparisons to another small space film, 2001: A Space Odyssey, except this one isn’t as long and boring…or is it?

What is this about?

As a medical engineer on her first shuttle mission embarks on a space walk with a seasoned astronaut, debris strikes their craft and destroys it — leaving the two floating through space tethered together, with no connection to Earth.

What did I like?

Rubbernecking. Watching everything that happens to Sandra Bullock in this film is like seeing a car wreck on the interstate. It is something that will catch your eye, even if you know that had this been a real situation you should look away. I was fascinated with how well the film was able to convey the sense of dread Bullock’s character had to be facing as things were becoming more and more bleak out in the nothingness of space.

Visuals. Saying this picture has stunning visuals would be an understatement, as the visual effects take the audience and transport them into space with Bullock and Clooney. Switching the camera to the occasional first person viewpoint didn’t hurt, either. Words can’t describe how much the visuals sell this film. Had they not been as great and impressive, I don’t think this would have been as well-received by audiences. I wonder what this would have looked like in 3D. It may be the first film to actually have been worth the extra ticket price, unlike almost every single other 3D release.

Going solo. When you are the only person in a powerful and/or pivotal scene, it is hard enough on the nerves to give a strong performance, but when  you are the only person on screen for more than half of the film, it is really difficult, I can imagine. That being said, Sandra Bullock holds her own and turns in a strong performance that will leave the audience with no doubt in their minds as to why she was nominated for Best Actress.

What didn’t I like?

Pacing. This is a tricky topic, because the pacing isn’t necessarily slow, especially for a film this short, but there is something that felt a little uneven to me. Perhaps it was the way the film kept rotating around, or the attempts at comedy that were present when Clooney was on screen, or maybe it was something else, but whatever it was that I can’t quite put my finger on, it needed to be fixed.

Body of work. This is actually a small complaint, but why was Sandra Bullock wearing such short, tight shorts? Don’t get me wrong, she has an amazing figure and all, but to put her in such attire seemed to distract. I bring this up because these same shorts are featured on an alternate poster, so it was obviously meant for them to capitalize on Bullock’s sex appeal. For me, this is not the film to be doing such. Maybe she should have switched these shorts with those Spanx she was wearing in The Heat.

Murphy’s Law. It would seem that the events occurring in this film follow Murphy’s Law, “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong!” For the purposes of this flick, it works, but I couldn’t help but think to myself, can she catch a break? It seems that everytime she was able to catch her breath, something else happened and put her into even more danger, making for a bleak film. I guess I just would have liked for there to have not been such an impending sense of doom the entire time. A glimmer of hope and then impending doom would have worked nicely.

Surprisingly, Gravity lived up to the hype and accolades everyone was throwing at it. Then again, when you have a sci-film that could very well happen (or have happened), critics tend to like those better than the fantastical type that the general public seems to prefer. That being said, I believe this is a film that is best seen in a 3D format, or as close to one as possible. Do I recommend it? Yes, but be warned, this isn’t some action packed space opera, but rather a character thriller that takes place in space. Give it a shot as soon as you can!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

The Heat

Posted in Action/Adventure, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 30, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashburn is a very skilled and effective investigator, but is despised by her fellow agents for her arrogance and condescending attitude. Hale, Ashburn’s boss at the New York FBI field office who is being promoted, sends her to Boston to investigate a drug kingpin named Larkin with the promise that she would be considered as his replacement if she can solve the case while showing the ability to work effectively with others. Once in Boston, she is partnered with Shannon Mullins, a skilled but foulmouthed and rebellious police officer with the Boston Police Department. Ashburn’s by-the-book philosophy clashes with Mullins’ rugged and violent style of police work. Mullins discovers the details of the Larkin case by stealing the case file from Ashburn and insists on helping her. Ashburn reluctantly agrees, realizing that she needs Mullins’ knowledge of the local area.

Ashburn and Mullins follow leads to a local night club owner and successfully place a bug on his cell phone. As they leave the club, Ashburn and Mullins are confronted by two DEA agents, Craig and Adam, who have been working the Larkin case for several months and are worried that their case will be compromised. After viewing him on a screen in the DEA agents’ surveillance van, Ashburn discovers that Mullins’ brother, Jason, was recently released from prison, having been put there by Mullins herself, and may be connected to Larkin’s organization. Ashburn convinces Mullins to go to her parents’ home to ask Jason for information on Larkin. On their arrival at the home, it becomes apparent that Mullins’ parents and two other brothers still harbor deep resentment for Mullins’ involvement in Jason’s incarceration. Jason, who does not have any ill feelings toward his sister, tips her off about the body of a murdered drug dealer hidden in an abandoned car. Upon examination of the body, chemicals on the victim’s shoes lead Ashburn and Mullins to an abandoned paint factory, where they witness a drug dealer being murdered by a member of Larkin’s organization named Julian. The two apprehend Julian and interrogate him regarding Larkin, but are unable to extract any substantial information regarding Larkin’s whereabouts.

The pair spends the evening in a bar bonding over several rounds of drinks. After a night of raucous drinking and partying, Ashburn wakes up the following morning to discover that, in her drunkenness, she has given her car keys to one of the bar patrons. After unsuccessfully pleading for the keys, Ashburn watches, along with Mullins, as the car explodes upon being started, having been fitted with a bomb. During the investigation of the explosion, the two discover that Julian has escaped from custody and may mean to harm Mullins’ family. Mullins moves the family into a motel, but learns that Jason has joined with the Larkin organization in an attempt to aid the case. Jason gives her a tip about a drug shipment coming in to Boston Harbor. The FBI sets up a sting at the harbor to take down the shipment, but discovers that the ship they have been waiting for is actually only a pleasure cruise ship and Jason has been set up by Larkin. Knowing that he informed the FBI about the supposed drug shipment, Larkin attempts to have Jason killed, but only puts him into a coma.

Mullins vows to bring her brother’s attacker to justice. Ashburn and Mullins learn of a warehouse where Larkin houses his operations. After equipping themselves with assault equipment from Mullins’ extensive personal arsenal, the two infiltrate the warehouse. Despite taking out several of Larkin’s men with a hand grenade, the two women are captured and bound by Julian, who threatens to torture them with knives. Julian is called away by Larkin, but before he leaves the room, he stabs Ashburn in the leg with one of the knives. Mullins removes the knife from Ashburn’s leg and uses it to cut the rope binding her hands. Before she can finish freeing herself and Ashburn, they are discovered by Craig and Adam. Craig begins to untie the two women, but is shot and killed by Adam. Ashburn and Mullins deduce that Adam is actually Larkin, having been working his own case from inside the DEA for several months. Julian reenters and is instructed by Larkin to kill Ashburn and Mullins while he goes to the hospital to kill Jason. After Larkin leaves, Mullins, whose hands have already been untied, manages to finish freeing herself and Ashburn incapacitates Julian with a head butt. Mullins then frees Ashburn and the two race to the hospital to save Jason.

Upon their arrival, Mullins rushes to find Jason. Ashburn, hindered by the stab wound in her leg, is unable to move quickly. Mullins finds Jason’s room, only to discover Larkin standing over his bed with a syringe, intending to kill Jason by injecting air into his vein, causing his death by an air embolism. Mullins drops her weapon in an attempt to save her brother’s life. Ashburn, having had to crawl to the room, then enters and subdues Larkin by shooting him in the genitals. With Larkin captured, Ashburn requests to stay in the FBI’s Boston field office, having developed a strong friendship with Mullins. Jason is shown having fully recovered from his coma. The film ends with Mullins receiving a commendation from the Boston Police Department, with her family present cheering for her, having reconciled with her.

Afterwards, following a misunderstanding earlier in the film, Mullins brings Ashburn her neighbor’s cat, after believing that it was hers from a picture in her house.

REVIEW:

In the same vein of 48 hrs and The Odd Couple, we get the odd pairing of Sandra Bullock and a ragged looking Melissa McCarthy in The Heat. The formula of total opposites has worked in the past, but how does it resonate with today’s audiences, especially with these actresses leading the way.

What is this about?

In this action-comedy, Sandra Bullock heads the cast as by-the-book FBI agent Katerina James, who forms an unlikely alliance with unconventional street cop Joyce Nelson to take down a Russian gangster.

What did I like?

Family. About halfway through the film, we get to meet the family of Melissa McCarthy’s character, who are very much the living embodiment of every stereotype of people from Boston. I’m surprised they weren’t talking about the (Red) Sox, eating beans, and drinking beer! Still, the family not only helped give us more of an idea of where McCarthy came from and they were quite funny.

Chemistry. I was amazed with how well Bullock and McCarthy worked together and played off each other. Part of it is because of the good writing and part of it is because of the comedic talent that these two women possess. Throw in the fact that their characters are opposites of each other and the great chemistry between them is a major selling point.

Marlon. Usually, we see Marlon Wayans in comedic roles, and this is the same kind of role, but it does seem to be more of a serious part. I could say that he was underused, but I actually think this was a nice use for him, though we could have gotten more of him trying to get with Sandra Bullock’s character. That seemed like it was going to go on and be hilarious, but the parts we got we pretty funny.

What didn’t I like?

Miss Congeniality. I was reading some reviews for this before I started writing this, and someone mention that Bullock’s character seems to be an extension of her character from Miss Congeniality. When I was watching, I didn’t realize it, but it has been quite some time since I’ve watched that film. Still, Bullock may have been a bit too uptight and I think she could have loosened up a bit, but that’s just me.

Faction. DEA, FBI, and the Boston police all butt heads and as an audience member, I have to wonder if this actually happens. The lack of communication between the three is part of the reason the  film’s villain, who is a bit of a surprise when he is revealed, was able to stay so hidden, but is quite obvious who he is.

Controversy and characterization. When they were marketing this film, there was some controversy regarding the posters, which feature an airbrushed and elongated Melissa McCarthy. That’s all I’m going to say about that. If I go too far into it, I’ll end up throwing this computer. Keeping on McCarthy, it seems as if all her film roles are some variation of the same character, the unlikable, annoying (sometimes fat) lady. She has shown she can be a total sweetheart, though. Just watch her on Mike & Molly. I would like to see her show that side on film. While the gruff character worked here, it is getting to be a bit old. I could switch this character out for her character in The Hangover III and both would probably still work.

For all the heat surrounding The Heat, I didn’t feel it as much as I probably should have. That being said, I did thoroughly enjoy this film and laughed harder than I have with most of today’s “comedies”. It should be noted that if you have sensitive ears, this is not the film for you! Otherwise, I highly recommend this action comedy. Give it a shot!

4 out of 5 stars

The Blind Side

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

For most of his childhood, 17-year-old Michael Oher (Quinton Aaron) has been in foster care with different families throughout Memphis, Tennessee. Every time he is placed in a new home, he runs away. His friend’s father, whose couch Mike had been sleeping on, asks Burt Cotton (Ray McKinnon), the coach of Wingate Christian school, to help enroll his son and Mike. Impressed by Mike’s size and athleticism, Cotton gets him admitted despite his abysmal academic record.

At his new school, Michael is befriended by a boy named Sean Jr. “SJ” (Jae Head). SJ’s mother Leigh Anne Tuohy (Sandra Bullock) is a strong-minded interior designer and the wife of wealthy businessman Sean Tuohy (Tim McGraw). After a late night Thanksgiving school play, Leigh Anne notices Michael walking on the road, shivering in the cold; when she learns he intends to spend the night huddled outside the school gym, she offers him a place to sleep at her house. The next morning, when she sees Michael leaving, she asks him to spend the holiday with her family. Slowly, Michael becomes a member of the Tuohy family, even as Leigh Anne’s rich friends wonder what she is doing. One even suggests that her teenage daughter Collins (Lily Collins) is not safe around him, much to Leigh Anne’s disgust.

When Leigh Anne seeks to become Michael’s legal guardian, she learns he was separated from his drug-addict mother when he was seven and that no one knows her whereabouts. She is also told that even though he scored low in almost every category, he is in the 98th percentile in “protective instincts”.

After his grades improve, Michael is allowed to join the school football team. He has a shaky start due to his polite and gentle nature, yet after some encouragement by Leigh Anne to tap into his “protective instincts” and regard his teammates as he would members of his family, Michael dominates on the field. SJ sends out videos of the games to college coaches around the country. Leigh Anne discovers that to get a NCAA Division I scholarship, Michael needs a 2.5 GPA, so they hire a tutor, Miss Sue (Kathy Bates). Some of the teachers help out as well, and Michael ends up with a GPA of 2.52.

When coaches come to recruit Michael, Leigh Anne makes it clear that she prefers the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) as both she and her husband are alumni. Miss Sue, another Ole Miss alumna, tells Michael (who dislikes horror films) that the FBI buries body parts under the University of Tennessee’s Neyland Stadium for research; Leigh Anne particularly loathes that school. Michael commits to Ole Miss.

Subsequently, Michael and the Tuohys become the subject of an NCAA investigation. The investigator tells Michael that the Tuohys and Miss Sue are fervent Mississippi boosters, who are subject to special restrictions, and his high school coach got a job at Ole Miss after Michael chose the school. Michael confronts Leigh Anne, asking her if she only took him in so he would play football for her alma mater. Michael then goes to his birth mother’s apartment in the projects. His old friends welcome him, but their leader makes crude remarks about Leigh Anne and Collins. In the ensuing fight, Michael dispatches three thugs and then flees the scene.

Leigh Anne searches for Michael. He finally calls her, and they meet. Leigh Anne tells him she will support any decision he makes. Michael satisfies the investigator by explaining that he chose Ole Miss because his whole family has gone there.

Later, Leigh Ann and her family take Michael to the Ole Miss campus to begin college. The film ends with an emotional goodbye between Leigh Anne and Michael. The closing credits show the 2009 NFL Draft with the real Michael Oher being drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round. Photographs of Oher and the real Tuohys follow, with Oher’s success in the NFL detailed. The credits include a dedication to director John Lee Hancock’s father, a football player and coach who died in 2009.

REVIEW:

This film has been called a non-football football movie. I didn’t even think that was possible, really, but apparently The Blind Side does just that.

This film is the life story of Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Michael Oher and how he was adopted by the Tuohy family, started playing football, and eventually made it to the NFL.

Initially, I thought this was just going to be another one of those boring dramas, just with a football theme. Thankfully, that isn’t what this turned out to be. Much in the same way I was shocked by how interesting Precious: Based on the Novel “Push” by Sapphire turned out to be surprisingly interesting, this film followed the same pattern and made me wish I had actually given it a chance back when everyone was all gaga over it.

As with all biopics, the thing that has me the most curious, is how much of this really happened, and how much was done just to make an “interesting” film. For instance, there is a scene during one of the few football games they show that Big Mike picks up a linebacker and takes him all the way across the field, dumps him over the rail, and gets asked by his coach where he was taking him, to which he replies that he was taking him to the bus and that it was time to go home.

It is little inserts of humor that keep this from being the total snorefest that one would expect from a drama, though.

The acting here is really great, of course almost all of the cast is actually from the south, so those accents weren’t too much of a stretch, save for having to adjust to Tennessee twang.

Sandra Bullock did such a great job in this role that she won an Oscar for it. Do I really need to say more?

Tim McGraw has really come into his own as an actor over the years. While he doesn’t have much to do here, the few scene he is in are pretty good.

Quinton Aaron had the intimidating task of being Big Mike and I think he did a good job of it. He didn’t do the gy any injustice. You have to wonder, though, how mch pressure was on this guy to play someone who is still alive and in the prime of their life. Oher is currently playing in the NFL. Normally, biopics are made of people who are dead or up there in age. I say this and just remembered that there was some kind of movie about Prince William and Kate Middelton on last night.

I do have a slight issue with the casting, though, and that is when they show what the Tuohys during the credits, they are nowhere near as attractive a couple as Sandra Bullock and Tim McGraw. I know that they were cast for box office draw, well…Bullock was, but you’d think they’d have found someone who resembled these people more. They had no problem finding some fugly woman to play Michael’s mom. I’m just saying.

Each year, I come across a drama that makes me sit up and take notice, it seems like. I guess this year’s version is The Blind Side. I thoroughly enjoyed this film, in spite of its lack of football. I highly recommend this to any and everyone. It truly lives up to the hype!

5 out of 5 stars

All About Steve

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , on March 20, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Mary Horowitz (Sandra Bullock) is a crossword puzzle writer for the Sacramento Herald. As brilliant as her puzzles are, having an encyclopedic mind also makes her socially awkward. On a blind date set up by her parents, Mary meets Steve Muller (Bradley Cooper), a cameraman for a cable news channel. Steve turns out to be handsome and charming, and Mary is immediately smitten even after a not-so-romantic first date. Mary’s infatuation is not reciprocated by Steve, but she is egged on by newscaster Hartman Hughes (Thomas Haden Church), who enjoys seeing his cameraman Steve suffer. After being fired from her job for creating a crossword titled, “All About Steve”, Mary decides to follow Steve around the country. Mary meets and is driven around the country by protesters Elizabeth (Katy Mixon) and Howard (DJ Qualls). While following Steve, the group experiences a tornado, but survives. Eventually Mary falls into a mine shaft while following Steve, causing her and Steve to become a story themselves. Mary is trapped in the mine with a deaf girl. Mary discovers a way that they can escape, and is then joined by Hartman, who failed at being a hero but still helps her. Mary realizes that she does not need Steve to be happy — she has friends. She then states, “If you need to stalk a guy, he probably isn’t right for you in the first place.”

REVIEW:

When there is talk about America’s sweetheart, not enough mention is given to the woman that truly epitomizes that title. All About Steve demonstrate how much of a sweetheart Bullock really is.

To my knowledge, I haven’t had any stalkers, so I can’t relate to Bradley Cooper’s character here. That is one of he problems with this film. Cooper is one of te stars of the film, yet his character is very…gee, I dunno…wooden. Emotion is shown, mostly in the form of paranoia and care and concern after the film’s denouma.

Sandra Bullock really sells this character. It is quite obvious that she got into this role. It is really a shame that everyone bashes this film and says that it is her worst performance. I don’t understand why. I’ve seem worse from her. The part that did get on my nerves, though, was how she couldn’t seem to pick up on the signals from DJ Qualls’ character. Even I could see that this guy was in love with her!

DJ Qualls and Katy Nixon make a couple of good secondary characters, although both are tragically underused. I had just wrapped my mind around the fact that they just weren’t going to get much airtime when the cave-in scene stuff  happened. That just seemed like the perfect place for them to open up and shine through while our main character is down a hole.

Thomas Haden Church seem to really relish and shine in these roles that allow his to play the not-so-bad bad guy. That is the guy who you think is cool when you first meet him, only to find out his true intentions.

The sign of a good romantic comedy is does it make you laugh as well as feel for the lead character (typically a female). All About Steve does just that, all while being accused of ruining Sandra Bullock’s career. I don’t understand the hate towards this picture, other than it is being compare to her Oscar-winning follow-up The Blind Side. The comparisons are really unnecessary, as people don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out the two roles are as opposite sides of the spectrum as possible.

Having said all that, I did come away from this film with a feeling of warmth. This is just a feel-good movie that is totally getting a bum rap. Please take the time to watch and see for yourself.

4 out of 5 stars

The Proposal

Posted in Chick Flicks, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Margaret Tate (Sandra Bullock) is the executive editor-in-chief of a book publishing company, Colden Books. All of her workers, including her assistant Andrew Paxton (Ryan Reynolds), strongly dislike her for her bossy, cold demeanor. She fires a senior editor, Bob Spaulding (Aasif Mandvi) because he is unable to get an author named Frank interviewed by Oprah. After learning she is being deported to Canada, she forces Andrew to marry her, as his future is tied to hers. When the government investigates, Mr. Gilbertson (Denis O’Hare) informs them that they will undergo rigorous testing to prove that the marriage is not fraudulent, after being notified by Bob Spaulding that this marriage might be a sham. Andrew grudgingly accepts the proposition of marrying Margaret, under the condition that he is promoted to the position of editor and his manuscript be published. He also forces Margaret to propose nicely to him on her knees in the streets of New York, and to allow him to tell his parents they are getting married.

The two spend the weekend with his parents in Sitka, Alaska in order to sell the lie, where they will be attending the 90th birthday party of Andrew’s grandmother (Gammy) (Betty White). Margaret is very unreceptive of Alaska, and is furthermore shocked to learn that Andrew’s family owns most of the business in Sitka. They attend a surprise party for them, where Andrew catches up with his ex-girlfriend, Gertrude “Gert” (Malin Akerman). After he is humiliated by his father, Joe Paxton (Craig T. Nelson), Andrew announces that he and Margaret are getting married. They are forced to kiss, and do so passionately, showing the first signs of respect for one another. Andrew’s parents then show them their room, and Gammy gives them a special blanket (called baby-maker, which they avoid). Andrew and Margaret sleep separately – Andrew on the floor and Margaret in the bed.

The next morning, Margaret wakes to hear her phone ringing. After waking Andrew with her loud conversation, she goes outside to continue the conversation with Frank; however, the family dog, Kevin (a Samoyed puppy), follows her out of the house and is swooped up by an eagle. She gets Kevin back, but the eagle instead snatches her phone away. Andrew, after seeing the commotion, informs her that his mother Grace, herself and Gammy are going shopping and sightseeing; the shopping actually proves to be a trip to a male strip show by Ramone (Oscar Nunez).

Margaret talks with Gert about Andrew, who tells her that they dated through college, and when Andrew asked her to elope with him, she didn’t want to leave her home, and said no.

Meanwhile, Andrew confronts his father after he apologizes and asks him to take up the family business, telling him he’s happy in New York. Margaret comes home and see Andrew venting his anger (after the conversation between him and his Father) by hitting an old wooden canoe agitatedly. She takes a shower, but finds no towels in the bathroom; when she tries to get one from the open wardrobe, she is stopped by Kevin. Andrew goes to the balcony of their room, stripping naked, to take a bath. Margaret, also naked, goes for a towel after distracting Kevin, only to bump into Andrew after slipping while shutting the door close so that Kevin would not escape from the bathroom. He sees her tattoo on her back before going to take a shower. That night, Andrew and Margaret reveal to each other a little about their past, and find out they like the same band. It was revealed here that Margaret was an orphan, and had no siblings.

Next morning, Joe and Grace knock at the door with breakfast. Andrew and Margaret hurriedly get into bed together, and the family suggest they could marry the same weekend, and they reluctantly accept. Andrew is stressed because the marriage is actually a sham, and Margaret tries to comfort and convince him, finding herself genuinely caring for him. To sort out her emotions, she goes for a bike ride into the woods, where she finds Gammy “giving thanks” in a ritual. Gammy invites her to join her, and they end up dancing to “Get Low”, while Andrew watches.

Andrew takes her into Sitka to get Margaret’s new phone, and she tries to contact New York. However, Gammy and Grace arrive and take Margaret to be fitted into a dress that Gammy’s great grandmother made, and a necklace that’s been in the Paxton family for generations. Margaret, who was now very touched, decided that she can’t do this to Andrew, and she hijacks a boat and tries to explain, but she falls off after he takes the steering wheel (and she cannot swim and almost drowns, but manage to cling onto a floating buoy). Andrew goes back for her, and they return to his house. Once there, they find out Mr. Gilbertson has arrived to check on the couple, after Joe suspected that the marriage was a scam, and that Joe had came down to a deal with Mr. Gilbertson, who persuades them to admit the sham. Andrew vehemently denies and rushes out.

During the wedding ceremony, Margaret decides she cannot do this to Andrew and confesses the business arrangement in front of everyone – including Mr. Gilbertson – who informs her she has twenty four hours to get back to Canada. She returns to New York to pack her things. Andrew rushes to their room only to find she has already left leaving his manuscript with a note of praise from her on the bed. As he rushes out of the house to confront Margaret, another argument arises between Joe and Andrew. Gammy has a heart attack while trying to stop them and while being airlifted to the hospital. She convinces Joe and Andrew to quit arguing before she “passes away”. Once they agree, Gammy reveals she had faked it, just so they would stop fighting and try to make it to the plane, to stop Margaret from going back to New York. Andrew attempts to stop Margaret’s flight, but cannot do so in time. However, Andrew rushes to New York and shows up at the office before he confesses his love for Margaret in front of the entire office staff, proposing marriage all over again as he “wants to date Margaret”. They go to Mr. Gilbertson once more to get engaged, this time “for real”.

During the end credits, everyone including Andrew’s family and Ramone is being interviewed by Mr. Gilbertson. And it’s hinted that Ramone is not a citizen, while Kevin, the dog, still has not gotten used to Margaret’s presence.

REVIEW:

I’ll admit that I thought this was going to be another sappy, romantic comedy and chick flick. At least that’s the way the trailers made it seem. However, that was not the case, as The Proposal surprised me with its heavy doses of comedy. Then again, Sandra Bullock romantic comedies tend to be heavier on the comedy than the romance angle.

The plot is actually a bit different from the normal boy meets girl, they go through the usual stuff, including a rough patch, then hook up at the end. This time we get a hard boiled boss anda guy executive assistant. Bullock’s character is about to be deported to Canada (of all places), and in a desperate attempt to stay in the country (and keep her job) she feigns an engagement to Reynolds. This leads to all sorts of lies and deceit including a trip to Alaska to meet his family. Of course, there is that little rough patch that all rom-coms go through, but in the end every thing works out. If only life were that simple.

Sandra Bullock is not necessarily known for being the evil type. Most of her characters are the vulnerable ones, so this is a bit of a departure for her. It does work for her, sort of. As top notch of a performance this is for her, I still had a hard time believing she could be the cold, uncaring boss lady she portrays. Still, there are glimpses of the Bullock we all know and love while they are in Alaska. On a side note, you don’t normally think of Sandra Bullock as having a good body, but her nude scene (you don’t see anything) with Ryan Reynolds had me impressed, especially when ou consider that she’s nearing 50 and has a bod like that.

Ryan Reynolds is his usual charming self in this film. The best parts of his performance are when he is going head to head with either Sandra Bullock or Craig T. Nelson. He may be known more for his action roles these days, even if he did start out as a comic actor, but romantic moves like this work to his credit as well.

Betty White steals the show as the grandmother, “Gammy”. In typical Betty White fashion, she is a mixture of innocent humor and shocking at the same time. Craig T. Nelson is very forceful and at times despicable as the father, while Mary Steenburgen is the polar opposite ans is extremely loving and caring.

This is a surprisingly cute film that never gets too serious, even when it hits that conflict section. As any avid reader of this blog will know, I’m no fan of excessively serious or dark movies, so for this one to keep the light tone was a welcome breath of fresh air. The actors really seemed to enjoy this film and it is no surprise that it as successful as it was.

Even if you’re not a fan of romantic comedies, this is one you’ll enjoy. On top of being a good story, there a re funny moments, dramatic moments, and women get a naked Ryan Reynolds, and guys get a naked Sandra Bullock. No, this isn’t the world’s greatest movie, but it does do what movies should do, and that is entertain.

4 out of 5 stars